What could we do as the people of God to reach out into our community with the gospel in such a way as to remove as many barriers as possible while striving to remain first-century in character and characteristics? Here are some ideas that come to my mind:
- Give thought to changing the auditorium seating arrangement where we can face more of one another.
- Sustain an emphasis, via Bible class, email communication, leadership, the pulpit, etc., on drawing as many members as possible into creating an atmosphere of friendliness when we assemble. For example, never look past or fail to engage a visitor. Build a culture of friendliness.
- Investigate ways to incorporate psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that are not exclusively or primarily nostalgic favorites of members from 100-200 years ago. That may mean we learn new songs (visitors are often trying to learn each and every one we’re singing, so it can be done).
- Be careful about attaching an over-importance on suits and ties or dresses, or conveying that such are criteria to determine reverence or holiness.
- Consider fellowship activities that allow small groups to get to know one another better and activities that get us away from the church building.
- Make sure that we keep current with technology, from an attractive, updated website to that technology which is used within the assembly to any printed literature or brochures.
- Seek to organize the program of work where all our activities and functions, if possible, are tied to a soul-centered, evangelistic purpose. Approach every work seeking to make it more evangelistic.
- Eliminate strafing, caustic, and otherwise thoughtless comments made in Bible classrooms that are de facto attacks on unbelievers or even those in religious errors or denominations. Blanket statements or attacks on their intelligence or integrity do nothing but lower ours.
- Thoughtfully, gently, and periodically give explanation for why we do what we do in worship (i.e., the frequency of the Lord’s Supper, extending the invitation, the reason for singing a capella, etc.).
- Don’t drag out announcements. Find multi-media ways to “get the word out” about prayer requests, announcements, and upcoming events.
I understand that the worship assemblies in the first-century were primarily geared toward members and not visitors. Yet, thinking about these things and having such discussions are fruitful because: (1) We are blessed by visitors, often a great many of them, (2) Many of these suggestions will greatly aid new Christians, (3) We have an obligation to reach out to the young as well as the old, and many of these things are central to the world as they know it. We must remain faithful and obedient to God’s eternal truth, but we must keep discerning eyes regarding what’s truth and tradition and what cannot change and what can and often should change.