Read 1 Cor 14 with a fresh mindset, committed to reading it with an open mind, in order to understand the following.
Cor 14 indicates that the assembly is designed to benefit the
unbelievers, not the believers. Unbelievers will benefit if they come, but that's not the focus. So offering an invitation makes no sense.
were tasked with going into all the world and making disciples, not
with inviting them into our meetings designed for believers in order to
try to convert them there.
assemblies are not for the purpose of worshiping God (vertical focus),
or for pulling in outsiders to convert them, but for encouraging one
another (horizontal focus). These other activities (worship and
conversion) will take place in our assemblies, but they're not the
purpose for our assemblies.
special "Gospel Meeting" would be an appropriate time to reach out to
unbelievers, but only if it was designed to appeal to unbelievers,
rather than simply an extended version of our current meetings.
on the subject, notice that according to 1 Cor 14, our current meetings
have the wrong focus (vertical instead of horizontal) and are organized
in opposition to Paul's instructions, wherein each member uses whatever
God-given gift he has in order to encourage others, one by one, so that
all may encourage and all may be encouraged. This is reiterated by
Peter, in 1 Peter 4:9-11: "Offer hospitality to one another without
grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve
others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If
anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If
anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that
in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.")
"Church" should be for the benefit of believers, not
unbelievers, and if you're going to have an outreach program such as a
"Gospel Meeting", it needs to be designed for the benefit of
unbelievers, not believers.
Note that there's
nothing wrong with evangelizing non-Christians within our assemblies;
in fact, it's a good thing. What I'm railing against is that the
Biblically-stated purpose of assembling is to build up the converted,
and it seems to me that we've neglected
that stated purpose for other things, such as worshiping (also a good
thing in our assemblies (1 Cor 14:17, 25), but not the stated purpose
for them (1 Cor 14:17, 26)) and converting. Both of these are good
things, but not at the neglect of the God-stated purpose, that of the
building up our own.
you invite a non-believer to the assembly in hopes of the preacher
converting him, you're in essence expecting the purpose of the assembly
to be the conversion of unbelievers. It's great that an unbeliever might
be converted (as happens late in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, not as
the result of preaching, however, but of being convicted and judged by
all the members, not just the preacher, thus revealing his inner
secrets), but to expect that is to expect something that is not the
purpose of the assembly.
I'm saying is that we need to realign our thinking of the assembly to
be more Biblical. The assembly is for believers, not for unbelievers.
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