Yesterday my wife and I had a great conversation at my home with one of my Albanian neighbors. She is very quiet in the presence of her husband and we wanted really to talk with her without his influence. Both of them came at the last year Christmas service and a strong debate followed with her husband regarding the existence of God. I thought that we lost them. But God works in the hearts of people specially if we work with Him.
During her visit yesterday she said that both of them following the Christmas service have discussed among themselves and concluded that they both had felt peace during the service. That was a real encouraging surprise to us. She said that all church people were very nice to them and they will come back.
The conversation then went on explaining the Christianity and where we as evangelicals differ from the Orthodox Eastern Christians-this family adheres to. She was very open and I understood than she was sincere but without a knowledge of the word of God. As I do always during good conversations, I was thinking on the possibilities for this couple to be part of our church family. Both intellectuals! I would like to have them. But then a flash thought came to me – what if they stay in the Orthodox church and visit us time by time? What if they get the knowledge about the Bible from us but stay with their religious church?
I was asking myself later when she left: Am I willing to help, disciple, bless a person who will not be part of our local church?. I figured out that my expectation can direct my actions. Then the Lord reminded me Philip the Evangelist who met the Ethiopian eunuch. He spent enough time with the new convert and then the Lord took him away. Philip was not able to enroll the new convert into the membership class.
Although that we are called to organize and shepherd His church, primarily we are called to preach the gospel to the lost and make out of them disciples. If those disciples go to a different church later, doesn;t need to change my commitment towards them. Jesus is building His church and there is a need of workers and examples, even within churches that are very religious. Sometimes He can change things from within and not always taking them out of this environment.
What has been your experience in similar situations? Have you stopped discipling a person, whom you think that will not be part of your church? Your experience is valuable to us and the blog readers.