“You’re not very evangelistic,” he said.
The comment hit me like a bucket of cold water, for evangelism is the call of every Christian. Rather than offer a defense however, I thought I’d simply try to see why this visitor to our church would say that.
It took a while, but after an hour of listening, it appeared that he wanted to be a member of our church and he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t falling all over myself to get him to join.
I tried to explain.
In evangelism, the focus is not on church membership, but rather on discipleship. Anyone who is a disciple of Jesus can easily become a member of our congregation. The question was: “Is this man a disciple of Jesus?”
As it turned out, though he had been well connected in the denominations he’d previously attended, he had almost no knowledge of how to become a Christian, nor did he know, biblically, when he became one. That I could be so picky about it led him to believe I simply wasn’t evangelistic.
The “assembly of the Lord” in Deuteronomy 23 is the official gathering of the people of God. Sometimes, it was for worship. At other times, it was to deal with community affairs and those admitted to the community were voting members. But what is obvious is that the “assembly of the Lord” was not open to all comers. There were qualifications. Just because a person had been living among the Jews for a period of time – perhaps his whole life – did not qualify him for membership in the assembly. In point of fact, he might never qualify.
There is a point in which one crosses over from “outside” the assembly of the Lord (the Church) to “inside.” Only God can specify that point – and He plainly does. God was not inclined to cut corners. Neither should we.