26 Jan Welcoming Skeptics
Storyline Fellowship desires to strike the balance in being culturally relevant and theologically robust. If we are faithful to our mission to invite unconvinced friends, then our weekly gatherings should include some who are on the search for truth. For this reason, the weekly sermon must be carefully purged of “insider talk” and unnecessary stumbling blocks for unbelievers. As I write the weekly message (yes, I do believe in writing out the message!), here are some of the phrases I always try to include:
1. Open your bible to ________, or feel free to follow along on the screen.
Do I wish that every person in the room was toting their Bible to church and opening immediately to the specific text? Not really, because this would mean I’m speaking only to the convinced. Believers often carry their personal copy of the Scriptures, making notes in the margin, and underlining key words. This is a wonderful practice, but the unchurched person has no clue and can instantly feel marginalized. For this reason, we want spiritual explorers to be included in our teaching time, to be reading along on the screen. It’s sight-reading for them.
2. For those of you new to the Bible…
This phrase is strategically sprinkled throughout the message, accomplishing three things. First, the teacher is admitting that it’s OK to feel confused. Much of what we teach from Scripture is not self-evident. Second, this phrase challenges the believers in the room to join me in showing sensitivity toward that courageous person that walked into a religious service for the first time. Third, this phrase is a weekly challenge to be praying for those on our Impact Cards, and to dream about the day our friends come to know Christ in a saving way.
3. If you accepted Christ today, there are several ways to let us know.
No verse in the Bible commands a person to walk forward in a full room at the end of a sermon to officially declare allegiance to Christ. The “going public” act is called baptism. This means, on Sundays we throw multiple hooks in the water for a Gospel response. A brand-new Christian may choose to “walk the aisle” but most will feel more comfortable filling out the Next Steps card to request a coffee with a pastor, or drop by the New Here tent to talk face-to-face with someone.
As Storyline Fellowship grows, we pray that our passion and sensitivity for the skeptic would swell also. Walking into a room full of strangers to learn of an unknown God requires courage, and we want to practice loving hospitality to the spiritual explorers among us.