(What type of lesson or sermon should be used in the public worship assembly?) Bible Question
“I’ve noticed that almost all the preaching at my congregation is aimed at the members. We have visitors (who are not Christians) present during our worship services. How can they hear and learn the fundamentals of the faith (about salvation) if we don’t teach them too?”
In the book of Acts, we have many examples of the kinds of lessons the apostles (and other teachers) shared with those who were yet not Christians. Among them. . .
Peter and the other apostles preached on Pentecost (Acts 2) using a great deal of Old Testament scriptures to an audience made up of Jews from around the Roman Empire.
When Philip met the Ethiopian (Acts 8), he also used the Scriptures to teach a man who was already a worshiper of God.
The apostle Paul preached a lengthy sermon in Acts 13. It too was aimed at a Jewish audience in a synagogue. And it was full of Scriptures and arguments based on the law and the prophets.
But when Paul went to Athens, he preached a whole different kind of sermon for Greek intellectuals; a gentile audience (Acts 17). His teaching did not refer to the Old Testament. He reasoned from logic and he used the reasoning style of the Greeks. Paul “spoke their language”, using their philosophies and quoting their poets.
It seems the New Testament preachers and teachers used lessons that fit the audience to whom they were teaching (preaching). The goal was to reach the lost by whatever means possible. I believe that preachers should do the same today. The goal is to teach the particular audience what it needs to hear, know and understand.
One purpose of Christians assembling is explained in Hebrews 10:23 – 25. . .
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (New American Standard Bible)
Motivating each other to stay active and faithful in our service to God. A preacher must consider this a priority as he preaches to an audience made up of mostly saved people. What they need to hear will often be different from what a non-Christian might need to hear.
Yet, it is never bad to revisit the basics of the faith. Peter says as much. . .
“My brothers and sisters, God called you and chose you to be his. Do your best to live in a way that shows you really are God’s called and chosen people. If you do all this, you will never fall. And you will be given a very great welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a kingdom that never ends.
You already know these things. You are very strong in the truth you have. But I am always going to help you remember them. While I am still living here on earth, I think it is right for me to remind you of them. I know that I must soon leave this body. Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that. I will try my best to make sure you remember these things even after I am gone.” – 2 Peter 1:10 – 15 (Easy-To-Read Version)
Peter says he will be ready to remind these Christians as often as needed. And when he is gone, they will need to be able to revisit the fundamentals confidently without his help.
In summary, a sermon should fit the needs of the hearers. And the saved need to hear again and again the facts of salvation. This would allow (in part) the unsaved who worship with us the opportunities to hear the Lord’s way to salvation.
Keep in mind – times and places should also be found in private situations where the message of salvation can be shared with those who have not yet heard it (apart from corporate worship services and public Bible classes).