Tolbooth TavernWe had a bit of controversy on our Facebook page this week I would like to address this morning.  A local person posted an article about an area church that was reaching out by conducting church services in a local pub.  The person who posted the article hoped to spark some discussion about if this was a good or bad thing.

Well, it certainly sparked some discussion.  Some people thought conducting a church service in a bar was a bad thing while others thought it was perfectly acceptable.  I have not weighed in, but would like to at this time.

A biblical argument can be made for this action when one reads about how Jesus went to Matthew’s home where prostitutes and other sinners were partying.  Jesus went in boldly and proclaimed the gospel, not caring if he was seen with sinners that would cause some to paint him in a negative way.  He boldly proclaimed the gospel to people who were in desperate need of it.

An argument can also be made that a church service should be more about equipping the saints instead of reaching out to people in a public bar.  Some people wonder if we are demeaning the church experience by holding it in a place where public intoxication is a way of life.  Well, for what it is worth, here are my thoughts:

The best place to hold a worship service is the local church, but I see nothing necessarily wrong with taking the message of the gospel to where people are at, even in places where alcoholic beverages are sold.  What is more important than where a church service is held is what message is being delivered?  Are the people attending hearing the pure gospel or a watered down version?  Is the entire gospel of repentance, forgiveness of sins, and a call to pursue holiness and righteousness being taught?  Or are we just telling people that Jesus accepts them right where they are at, with no need to repent and turn away from sin?  What is preached is more important than where it is preached, in my opinion.

Posting articles on social media sites, or discussing them on live radio, is a two-edged sword.  It is good when we discuss important issues that should be discussed—but there is also the tendency to comment on things before we take the time to really think through our response.  But as long as we are open to honest, thoughtful discussion and willing to hear one another out, good things can happen.

There are certain things we cover and discuss that are no brainers—but many others require thoughtful consideration, perhaps challenging us to remove ourselves from our human tendency to pre-judge issues, and think through all points of view before we rush to judgment.  When we come with a humble spirit, thoroughly research issues, and hold them up against the Word of God, we can sharpen and encourage one another, regardless of our beliefs on a particular issue.

That’s not always easy to do and I have certainly fallen into the trap of pre-judging issues at times.  We are human and easily swayed by our emotions.  But in these challenging times we all need to thoughtfully consider issues before we offer knee-jerk reactions.  Things are growing increasingly complicated for American Christianity as she comes under more attack from humanists, a secular culture that seems to hate God more with each passing day, and progressive movements within the church that minimize the Word of God.  We are searching for a biblical way to heed Jesus’ warning to be in the world, but not of the world.  That is not an easy thing to do at times.

When we seek compromise with secular culture, we lose, as our values are compromised.  Reaching in to a culture that hates or ignores God is our calling as Christians, in hopes of reaching the lost.  Finding the proper biblical balance of reaching out to the culture without compromising with it is the difficult challenge we face as the Body of Christ.  Not an easy thing to do, but then Jesus never said it would be easy to follow him.