Peg and I were visiting with CB & Karen Scott today .. she's in the hospital for some treatment .. and we were discussing various things in our church, his church, the SBC, churches in general, and particularly those which link salvation to an event like an invitation.
My interpretation of those churches, by the way, is that they see the Great Commission as "Go therefore, and make believers of all nations...", without much emphasis on discipleship. Support for that thought comes via the obvious ease with which most folks can join a SBC church: Walk the aisle, say the prayer and take the plunge .. or say you've done that elsewhere .. and you're in. It's added to by the simple fact that 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 people we call "members", who are not even at church on Sunday, probably aren't undergoing much discipleship. Not to mention discipline (for non-attendance).
We were acquainted with that phenomenon from Peg's youth, in fact. When we first walked into FBC Pelham, under a mistaken impression, by the way, she said immediately she didn't want to join a Baptist church. She said she'd been saved at age 13 in FBC of Lebanon, Indiana, and that once she walked the aisle, said the prayer and was baptized, it was almost as if they forgot her. Sort of a "love'em and leave'em" approach. No discipleship, no development, nothing.
I know in our church, whatever someone comes forward to do, it has to be done in 2 or 3 or 4 stanzas of the invitation hymn. It's our custom to "present" those folks to the congregation before the service is over. I know that's customary in our church, and perhaps in most, but I can't for the life of me figure it out.
Perhaps it stems from the same place as the resistance to requiring those wanting to join our church, to attend "New Members Classes" to learn about the Baptist faith, our particular church, what Baptists believe, how they might be gifted, and where they might find a place of service in our fellowship.
The aim of salvation can't be only making it to heaven. That's the place dead believers go. The goal of the church ought to be to direct people to abundant lives, here and now. Jesus Himself said He came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. It seems to me it'd take some instructions on how to go about that.
When you buy your spouse or child or grandchild a present, don't you try to find something they want?. I'm sure you do, and similarly I think Jesus wants us to want an abundant life. Helping believers attain one of those seems a major part of discipleship, and not just a "whew .. that's over" acknowledgment of salvation.
My term for those non-attenders, and others who do not grow in the faith via involvement in the local church, was expressed as "GPS Faith". As in navigation systems, like the one above.
I've had a GPS system in one of my cars for a number of years, and when I'm going somewhere I've not been, or am not familiar with, I use it regularly. And what I've noticed is that, when I get to my destination, I know how I got there ... "Turn right ... turn left in 3.5 miles ... take the next left turn...", but I don't know much about the landscape. Can't recall much of the trip. As if I just left that all up to the voice in that little box.
In my Prius, it's a pleasant enough young lady, but in my Tom-Tom unit in my S10, it's something like an angry Jamaican Rasta. And hilarious.
We don't need a shortcut to the finish line. There are things to do all along the way, and we need to be doing them.
I'll use my GPS in the car. But I refuse to use one in my life. After all, the journey is the most important thing in my life.
It doesn't need to be flown on "automatic pilot".