Dear Bro. Hamilton,
I would like to thank the church there for a great web site. I am a Bible school teacher and I think it will be a big help to me when my students have questions about biblical things.
I have read the introduction to the La Vista church on your web site. While I firmly agree with the facts presented on the home page I just wonder how the church there ever reaches out to the lost. The congregation seems to be pretty isolated from the world. I certainly don't advocate bowling leagues, etc. but it seems like the church does need some way to reach out to the public. Do you ever have meetings, vacation Bible school and such like? Do you members have study groups that can reach the lost?
I hope you will forgive me but I'm just trying to understand your congregation. I thought good works was one of the things the church should be involved in. For example, our congregation helps support two childrens' homes with funds, etc. How can we be lights of the world if we are closeted behind our doors?
By the way, I was raised in the church some 70 years ago and I've seen many mistakes made when congregations try to be like the denominational world. So I assuredly believe we need to be careful in our ventures. But we must take the gospel to the world and I think we can do that without crossing the fine line between entertainment and evangelism.
I know you did not intend this, but your questions brought a smile to my face. You ask how the church reaches out to the public, just after you praise the congregation on its web site. That web site, by the way, has been averaging a fairly steady 7,000 visitors per day across the world.
It is interesting how many people make assumptions about things not mentioned. We have gospel meetings twice a year. I have personal Bible studies with people from the area and across Skype every week. I know members of the congregation have studies of their own. We get together for a variety of reasons almost weekly. It isn't unusual to invite non-Christians friends to these gatherings. Members of the church regularly invite co-workers, neighbors, and friends to worship and Bible studies. We take seriously the concept that each Christian is a light to the world. "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:13-16). This is a command to individual Christians and not to the church.
Unlike the congregations you are used to, we understand that benevolence is a personal obligation. I don't support orphans homes, but I have taken children into my home a number of times. I've taught in old folks homes and in homes for troubled youths. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). This is a command to individual Christians and not to churches.
The church does not offer a lure of entertainment to draw people in. As Jesus told the crowd following him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:26-27). But to assume we do not reach out to world is false, we merely focus on the tasks God has assigned to the church. You can't interest people in spiritual matters using worldly incentives. "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).
"Good works" are defined by God (Ephesians 2:10). Having a carnival on the lawn by the church building is not something God called a good work. I'm sure it is fun and the children have a blast, but it isn't what God told us to do. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21). The church's duty is to facilitate the saving of souls.
Thank you so much for your reply to my message. I was quite relieved to learn more about the La Vista church. I admit, I had visions of a group of sour folks gathered in a building for services and then filing out to march to their homes. Smile -- I am so glad I was wrong. It sounds like La Vista is one of the rare simple bodies of Christ in our country today — one I would be happy to worship with. Our congregation is very much like yours.
I appreciate your opinion on supporting orphans but I am thankful that our church has that program available because I, like many other individual Christians, cannot take children into our homes to raise. With this program each of us who wish to can help these children by helping to buy food, etc. for them. We can do the benevolent work we could not do otherwise. Once again, thank you for your reply and thanks to La Vista church for the helpful web site. I can promise you I will be using it from time to time with my Bible classes.
May I point out that you can support an orphan's home, if that is what you wish to do, directly without using the church's treasury as a mid-point? See: Orphans and Their Care.