There seems to be 3 different views today of the local church: sperm bank, maternity ward, and school. If the local church is the physical body of Christ in the world, our belief and practice regarding the mission of the local church must be Bible based.
The sperm bank mission goes something like this: Men come to the clinic seeking a way contribute a part of themselves to the wider community. Soft music plays the background, lattes offered, and a variety of literature and special programs are provided to reduce the stigma of those looking to make their contributions. The hope is that the donor will find comfort and acceptance, returning again soon, and eventually becoming a member of the donation team.
Everything about the Gospel and the Church that might offend a “seeker” is removed from view. Soft lighting, jazz or contemporary music in a cafe or hotel lobby setting are the setting. Short talks about real-world concerns like forming friendships, healthy marriages, and well-adjusted children are added to the mix.
The goal of the maternity ward church is giving birth. The maternity ward of a hospital exists to facilitate the individual who is ready to give birth with the assistance of a doctor who guides the new life into the world.
In this model of the local church, people invite their unsaved friends and family to Sunday services or special events. The pastor is then responsible for presenting the information about the new birth, the Christian life, and then leads the individual to personal faith in Jesus. After the invitation, everyone is happy and the pastor is able to place another notch on his belt buckle for another child brought into the kingdom. Every sermon may be full of good Biblical information, but always ends with an altar call and the hope and prayer of a healthy birth.
The third view of the local church is vastly different. This position is that the local church is the place where believers gather to bring glory to God the Father, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is achieved by continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42). This is the Biblical model of the local church. A place where we learn the Word of God, find fellowship with other believers, share in the Lord’s Supper, and practice prayer. It is a school of more than intellect, but a practical school or worship.
If the local church is the place where only believers meet to worship, where do people get saved? They come to faith in the daily sharing of the gospel by believers in their own spheres. If not in the local church worship service, where do people get saved? They get saved as Christians minister in their daily lives to the people around them. Sheep give birth to other sheep; they don’t wait to be inseminated by the shepherd. The Bible never prompts us to invite unsaved friends to the fellowship of believers. If the local church is the gather of Christians to worship God in spirit and in truth, why would we invite the so-called “seeker” or unsaved into such a time of singular purpose which they cannot rightly participate in?