-2 Winning People to the Church, Not Christ - You may be all about your denomination, you may have a great church, a pastor that is amazing; you participate in small groups, you have Bible verses all over your MySpace, your Facebook and your refrigerator - even a Honk if You Love Jesus bumper-sticker - you are a soul winner to boot. You are, after all, out to get folks saved, isn't that the purpose of the church?
Each one of us comes from some sort of Christian upbringing, background or heritage. Our religious experiences and influences tend to shape our view of what church is, as well as who Jesus is. To some, God is a legalistic, rod bearing tyrant, that will have His way, or send you down the chute to Hell. For another, God is so full of grace, He wouldn't want you to be unhappy, so those rules, well, He'll just forgive you if you if you break them. Others think that if they are devout enough, never miss church, try to be good, and help with the poor; they are in good standing with God.
For many Evangelicals and Catholics too, the purpose of conversion is to make another member of the church. Denominational opinions abound - why is that?
In the first century church, there was one church, one way of doing things. There were no buildings, no mega-churches, and leadership was under the authority of the 13 apostles (12 plus Paul). As you can imagine, the factions started right away. Paul vs. Apollos (1 Cor 1:12), while Peter wanted folks to act like Jews. Paul rebuked him for the same (Acts 15:1-12).
1 Corinthians 1:12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas [Peter]"; still another, "I follow Christ."
It is in this verse that we see exactly what is happening. Each of the four are expressing whom it is that they believe; whom it is they follow, and whom they look to for answers. The one who said, "I follow Christ," if in fact that is what they were doing, that voice was correct.
It is a rare church that brings someone to Christ, and then wants them to attend another church. Sure, Billy Graham tries to connect folks with a church after a crusade. He planted seeds that others would need to water. That mentality needs to be every believer's heart. We lead people to Christ so that Christ can take over and reign in that person's life.
Church, it essential that everything that we do points to Jesus, not to men, denominations or theology. You may not agree with my Baptocostalmatic theology, but I assure you, God has a church for each one of us! A church where He will allow us to grow to be what we were destined to be. The very essence of what God knit in our mother's womb and knew before the foundations of the earth - to be like Him.