Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"Either-Or Christianity, Part One"
by Tom Goodman
October 26, 2005

Friends Are Waiting for You!
High Attendance Day in Bible Study
9:30 a.m. this Sunday!

Across the next several weeks in Winning Ways, I want to clear a path for those who want to be rescued from Either-Or Christianity.  Each week we'll look at one of the Six Commandments that Either-Or people follow.

Here's their First Commandment:  "A church should focus on either discipleship or outreach."  They say a church can only be known for one thing: either we'll focus on building Christians or connecting with seekers.  Their fear is that if you do things designed to connect with seekers, you'll short-change the growth of believers.

Baloney.  Either-Or Christianity helps neither the believer nor the seeker.  We need to figure out how to involve believers and seekers in the life of our church.  On the one hand, believers need seekers around.  Walking with Jesus involves taking some people with you on that walk!  You simply can't grow as a believer without this element.  On the other hand, seekers need believers around.  It's been my experience that many people discover Christ only by spending time in Christian community.  Christian commitment is caught more than simply taught.  I like what Dieter Zander said in his book, Inside the Soul of a New Generation:  "We used to view conversion as the gateway to fellowship; now we view fellowship as the gateway to conversion."

The earliest church had believers and seekers together in their services.  In 1 Corinthians 14:23-25, Paul was concerned about services filled with people speaking in tongues, and I want you to pay special attention to why Paul is so concerned about this practice:  "If some people who are not Christians come to your church meeting while all the people are speaking in special sounds, they will think you are crazy.  But if a man who is not a Christian comes to your church meeting while you are all speaking God's Word, he will understand that he is a sinner by what he hears.  He will know he is guilty.  The secrets of his heart will be brought into the open.  He will get on his knees and worship God.  He will say, ‘For sure, God is here with you!'"

That text tells me two principles that biblical churches will follow.  First, Expect seekers to attend church.  Look for it, anticipate it.  If the church is doing what a church should do, it should be the natural, normal reality to have people in the services who are still trying to figure out Jesus.  They're curious about what we believe, attracted to what we believe, but they haven't crossed that line yet.

Second principle for a biblical church:  Be sensitive to seekers who attend your church.  In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul didn't say that speaking in tongues was a foolish act, but that it appeared foolish to nonbelievers.  Notice that he actually wanted to change the way they worshipped out of sensitivity to seekers.  He said, "While you worship, pay attention to the fact that you've got nonbelievers with you.  Speak God's Word in a way they can understand."

So, clearly, the earliest church adjusted themselves to seekers.  At the same time, the aim of the earliest church was "that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature" (Ephesians 4:12-13).

If the earliest church could be a place for reaching seekers and for building believers, I think we should be that kind of place, too.

We can be rescued from Either-Or Christianity.  Next week we'll break their Second Commandment.


"Rescued from Either-Or Christianity" is a six-part series.

Important Notes

Your Friends Are Waiting!  Join a Bible study class this Sunday, High Attendance Day, at 9:30 a.m., October 30.  For more information, click on Herb's article at
Baptism and Communion is This Sunday.  If you're ready to follow Jesus in baptism, contact me right away at
Craft Show!  Don't miss this annual event!  Friday and Saturday, October 28-29, at Hillcrest!  See Jim's article for more information:
Kids Ultimate Pumpkin Party in the MPC this Monday, October 31, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.  You can find a lot more information about this exciting event in BJs article at
Support Our Troops.  One of our own, Mike Pribble, is serving several months in Iraq.  I just got this e-mail from his wife, Vanessa, and I encourage you to support this effort.  Bring your items to the lobby this Sunday and we'll help Vanessa get them to the unit.  Here's her e-mail:  "I just got an email from the Captain of Mike's battalion.  A large part of his group is moving into a remote area of Iraq where they will be without showers.  The Captain is requesting care packages of unscented wipes, body powder, toothpaste and toothbrushes.  I spoke to Mike this morning and he will not be with this group but I'd still like to help out with this request.  All of the guys in this battalion are from Texas, many from the Austin area.  This area of operation will also be without phones and computers so notes of encouragement would probably be appreciated as well."
Hurricane Heroes.  Want to read a great article about Christian service to those impacted by Katrina and Rita?  Go to  The article features our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts.  You'll be impressed and you'll want to keep up your service and support!

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