A Reformed Minister Preaching at Non-Reformed churches?

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Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it wrong for a Reformed minister to preach at non-Reformed churches?

For example, I was asked to preach at a Korean "Full Gospel" Pentecostal church when the preacher (a woman) was on a mission trip. I accepted the invitation and preached a thoroughly Reformed sermon to the congregation.

Is it right for me to preach in these situations? On the one hand, I think it is good to preach the gospel whenever and wherever one can. On the other hand, if a visitor likes the sermon, it may encourage them to attend that church. What do you think?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If I were given two opportunities in a given weekend, (1). To preach at a solid Reformed church, or (2) To preach for a Full Gospel church....I'd pick the Full Gospel church every single time! There is greater need there and a greater urgency.

In most cases, you won't be forced to compromise your beliefs. You need not be purposely offensive, but you can address some of their weaknesses in a winsome way. The last time I preached at a Full Gospel church, I preached on the sufficiency of the Word of God from 2 Peter 1:

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
At one church, the pastor asked me to do an altar call. I politely told him that I didn't want to and that I would include an invitation within my sermon, but that I could step down afterwards and he could continue. So, I preached the sermon and gave an invitation within my sermon. Then I stepped down and the pastor cued the music and set up the dramatics. While this was less than ideal, I did get to preach a full gospel message to a church that needed it. Some may see this as endorsing an unbiblical pattern, however. Though, I did mention that one can be saved anywhere in the church and that going forward might actually be a hindrance if somebody trusted in that action rather than the work of Christ for their salvation (in a polite way, not undermining the resident pastor)
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
If I were given two opportunities in a given weekend, (1). To preach at a solid Reformed church, or (2) To preach for a Full Gospel church....I'd pick the Full Gospel church every single time! There is greater need there and a greater urgency.

I completely agree. I think a true preacher of the Word would want to preach at any given opportunity he is given. On an issue like this I think it is a good idea to have Romans 10:15 in mind.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I can relate to what Pergamum has said, and I agree with him. I get asked to teach lessons for kids at churches and camps of all sorts of affiliations. I tend to say yes, and the impact seems to be biggest with groups that are further from my usual crowds. Those places need Christ more, and I'm happy to teach lessons that point to him.

I think I would have concerns if a group that clearly ran afoul of the historic creeds were to invite me, but that hasn't happened yet. Occasionally I ask a few questions to make sure they don't expect something I can't give them. And I remember nicely insisting once that a camp scrap their plans to invite kids to be baptized on the spot following my talk.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

This articulates my concern well. For example, I would never preach at a Roman Catholic church, because it teaches another gospel and is therefore an apostate church. But in the case of other Protestant churches, the question becomes more complicated. For example, if the congregation is Arminian, they still confess salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So I believe that they still teach the basic gospel. But in such churches, the gospel becomes obscured, since Arminianism is inconsistent with the idea of salvation by grace alone. I do not want to endorse Arminian teaching. So does preaching in such a church compromise one's ministry?
 

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been faced with this same situation. My cousin gave me an open door to preach at his church any time I wished. He is well aware of my Reformed standing and yet he is a hardened Arminian. I have often wondered if it was right to preach there or not and currently I have yet to preach there. My view on the matter is that while we see the Reformed doctrine as truly Biblical, we cannot ignore the fact of people being saved in Arminian churches. If I were faced with the invitation to preach at another Arminian church that knew little about me I would be upfront and honest about being Reformed and I would make it known that I would not compromise that in my preaching. Upon doing so I would let the pastor decide whether or not to let me preach. Not sure if this was helpful but if nothing else you know you are not alone in this type of situation.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been faced with this same situation. My cousin gave me an open door to preach at his church any time I wished. He is well aware of my Reformed standing and yet he is a hardened Arminian. I have often wondered if it was right to preach there or not and currently I have yet to preach there. My view on the matter is that while we see the Reformed doctrine as truly Biblical, we cannot ignore the fact of people being saved in Arminian churches. If I were faced with the invitation to preach at another Arminian church that knew little about me I would be upfront and honest about being Reformed and I would make it known that I would not compromise that in my preaching. Upon doing so I would let the pastor decide whether or not to let me preach. Not sure if this was helpful but if nothing else you know you are not alone in this type of situation.

Yes, I am assuming that the church is fully aware of one's Reformed convictions and has given the preacher full freedom to preach as he sees fit. Usually, such churches aren't that concerned about theological differences.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

A DIFFERENT Gospel? Or the same gospel at a non-reformed church?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

This articulates my concern well. For example, I would never preach at a Roman Catholic church, because it teaches another gospel and is therefore an apostate church. But in the case of other Protestant churches, the question becomes more complicated. For example, if the congregation is Arminian, they still confess salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So I believe that they still teach the basic gospel. But in such churches, the gospel becomes obscured, since Arminianism is inconsistent with the idea of salvation by grace alone. I do not want to endorse Arminian teaching. So does preaching in such a church compromise one's ministry?

What if you were given the freedom to speak as you would?

And you refused any funds. And you even refused to pray for their ministries? Would you give up 40-45 minutes to clearly present the Gospel then?
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

This articulates my concern well. For example, I would never preach at a Roman Catholic church, because it teaches another gospel and is therefore an apostate church. But in the case of other Protestant churches, the question becomes more complicated. For example, if the congregation is Arminian, they still confess salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So I believe that they still teach the basic gospel. But in such churches, the gospel becomes obscured, since Arminianism is inconsistent with the idea of salvation by grace alone. I do not want to endorse Arminian teaching. So does preaching in such a church compromise one's ministry?

What if you were given the freedom to speak as you would?

And you refused any funds. And you even refused to pray for their ministries? Would you give up 40-45 minutes to clearly present the Gospel then?

Like I said, assume that the preacher is allowed the full freedom to preach according to his convictions.

If one could somehow make clear that one did not endorse the false doctrines of the church, then there would be no problem in preaching there.

However, what church in it's right mind would allow such a thing?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

This articulates my concern well. For example, I would never preach at a Roman Catholic church, because it teaches another gospel and is therefore an apostate church. But in the case of other Protestant churches, the question becomes more complicated. For example, if the congregation is Arminian, they still confess salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So I believe that they still teach the basic gospel. But in such churches, the gospel becomes obscured, since Arminianism is inconsistent with the idea of salvation by grace alone. I do not want to endorse Arminian teaching. So does preaching in such a church compromise one's ministry?

What if you were given the freedom to speak as you would?

And you refused any funds. And you even refused to pray for their ministries? Would you give up 40-45 minutes to clearly present the Gospel then?

Like I said, assume that the preacher is allowed the full freedom to preach according to his convictions.

If one could somehow make clear that one did not endorse the false doctrines of the church, then there would be no problem in preaching there.

However, what church in it's right mind would allow such a thing?

Some groups have allowed me since I've been involved in projects with a strong social-humanitarian aspect to them (clinic, school, etc.)...it gets me a free pass into some groups whereas otherwise a conservative Fundamentalist Calvinistic, Non-Dispensational, Non-Charismatic, patriarchal, Baptist would not. p.s. please pray for my visa so I can get back to that context.
 

johnny

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does it count that Jesus Himself preached to a Samaritan Woman.
Or is this drawing too long a bow?

John 4:39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Does it count that Jesus Himself preached to a Samaritan Woman.
Or is this drawing too long a bow?

John 4:39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.†40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.â€

That is an interesting point. However, Jesus did not preach to them from the pulpit of a Samaritan synagogue. And he also told them that their place of worship was false:

John 4:20: "'Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.' 21 Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.'"

Of course, non-Reformed churches are not in the same category as Samaritan synagogues, so the analogy is pretty loose.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
I think it's pretty fruitless if there are contrary doctrines. For unless one is given unrestricted permission to preach the sense of the reformed gospel, then really the sermon will be a sort of general surface gospel which essentially instructs no-one, and compromises ones own position. It depends also if the church shows a willingness to reform. Preaching two or three times will reveal that, and a negative response will be a signal to discontinue supplying. I when asked, make it plain that I either would be allowed four Psalms in the worship, or else an elder would have to announce the hymns which I would refrain from singing. I go to a hymn singing church which permits the 4 Psalms, sings them enthusiastically, even repeating a verse that touched the heart. Afterward it generates discussion about EP. On the other hand, being asked to preach at another church the Minister assented to my request, but being asked back the second time, the Organist refused to agree to the psalms.Organ tyranny! I was more than happy to have no musical accompaniment, but the Minister now had a problem. So I declined the invitation to save him embarrassment. Strange how Christians object to singing the word of God.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

A DIFFERENT Gospel? Or the same gospel at a non-reformed church?

The example given was called a "Full Gospel" church. They are announcing in their name that they have a different gospel.

They listened well. I believe there were saved folk there (who just believed in miraculous signs as well). I don't believe it was necessarily a different gospel....just a gospel without the Holy Spirit deleted (they would say). If the Corinthians were called a church by Paul, I might be tempted to call this group a church. They gave me freedom and as much time as I needed. And bow did they shout AMEN real loud... and many said they affirmed all that I said after a full complete Gospel presentation.
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
At one church, the pastor asked me to do an altar call. I politely told him that I didn't want to and that I would include an invitation within my sermon, but that I could step down afterwards and he could continue. So, I preached the sermon and gave an invitation within my sermon. Then I stepped down and the pastor cued the music and set up the dramatics. While this was less than ideal, I did get to preach a full gospel message to a church that needed it. Some may see this as endorsing an unbiblical pattern, however. Though, I did mention that one can be saved anywhere in the church and that going forward might actually be a hindrance if somebody trusted in that action rather than the work of Christ for their salvation (in a polite way, not undermining the resident pastor)

I would like to add that altar calls are unnecessary. One does not need an altar call in order to know that he must repent and believe in Christ now. People can believe in Christ right where they are sitting.
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is it wrong for a Reformed minister to preach at non-Reformed churches?

For example, I was asked to preach at a Korean "Full Gospel" Pentecostal church when the preacher (a woman) was on a mission trip. I accepted the invitation and preached a thoroughly Reformed sermon to the congregation.

Is it right for me to preach in these situations? On the one hand, I think it is good to preach the gospel whenever and wherever one can. On the other hand, if a visitor likes the sermon, it may encourage them to attend that church. What do you think?

If the church does not proclaim a false gospel, then I don't think it would be wrong.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
At one church, the pastor asked me to do an altar call. I politely told him that I didn't want to and that I would include an invitation within my sermon, but that I could step down afterwards and he could continue. So, I preached the sermon and gave an invitation within my sermon. Then I stepped down and the pastor cued the music and set up the dramatics. While this was less than ideal, I did get to preach a full gospel message to a church that needed it. Some may see this as endorsing an unbiblical pattern, however. Though, I did mention that one can be saved anywhere in the church and that going forward might actually be a hindrance if somebody trusted in that action rather than the work of Christ for their salvation (in a polite way, not undermining the resident pastor)

I would like to add that altar calls are unnecessary. One does not need an altar call in order to know that he must repent and believe in Christ now. People can believe in Christ right where they are sitting.

Yes. My point was that this was their standing practice. I did not approve, but the pastor seemed gracious and generous in allowing me to speak and then exit before he did "his thing" with the altar call. I did not make it a point to preach a sermon against the altar call, though. We need not be 100% agreed with a church in order to attempt to bless the people there.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
The Reformed should never miss an opportunity to preach truth. If a Jehovah's Witness or Mormon congregation ever allowed me to give witness, that is exactly what I would do. Return visits would be doubtful. [emoji41]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Allow me to suggest that the context of the invitation may matter a great deal. Is the other church attempting to use the Reformed minister to somehow promote its errors? Then be wary.

But if the other church sees something they like in the Reformed minister and asks him to speak because they are hungry for truth and instruction (even if they don't quite agree with him yet), I would think the minister practically has an obligation to go and preach. How can a minister of the gospel say "no, I won't preach the truth to you until you agree with me first"? Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues.
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't know if it was Spurgeon or someone similar, but I heard someone say "I'd preach in the Vatican (or in Mecca) if they let me preach Christ fully."
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Allow me to suggest that the context of the invitation may matter a great deal. Is the other church attempting to use the Reformed minister to somehow promote its errors? Then be wary.

But if the other church sees something they like in the Reformed minister and asks him to speak because they are hungry for truth and instruction (even if they don't quite agree with him yet), I would think the minister practically has an obligation to go and preach. How can a minister of the gospel say "no, I won't preach the truth to you until you agree with me first"? Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues.

:ditto:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
If given an opportunity to preach or teach to anyone who claims Christ then I will do so. It's an opportunity to preach the Gospel. The fact that they claim Christ makes it even more urgent if the Gospel is not being preached in a given Church for they are under greater condemnation and their undershepherds are leaving them impoverished.

I don't say this to be prideful but I literally blow the minds of some Christians when I teach them. They just never hear the Scriptures taught the way the Scriptures themselves teach. They are so accustomed to "contextualization" that they never hear the Scriptures taught in the language of the Scriptures. There's a particular group that I teach on occasion and they are accustomed to everything being focused on ethics and Christian witness. I teach them on faith and repentance or indwelling sin and they're blown away. They just don't get it regularly.
 

catechumen

Puritan Board Freshman
I once met a minister of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), one of the most warm-hearted and powerful preachers of the gospel I have met. In the days before the fall of the Iron Curtain, he used to make regular trips to preach in Reformed and evangelical churches in Eastern bloc countries, especially Hungary.

On one occasion, the local Roman Catholic priest attended his preaching and was delighted with what he heard. He implored the Free Church minister to come and speak to his own congregation, saying they needed to hear what he had to say. The minister was in something of a quandary, as you can imagine, but the two of them managed to arrange a mid-week meeting that would not include any celebration of the Mass, and the priest was able to bring his whole congregation to hear the gospel preached powerfully and winsomely.

I understand some of the concerns expressed on this thread, but honestly, with the safeguards that were put in place, I cannot see how the Free Church minister could have done otherwise without failing to uphold his duty to preach the gospel. On top of the obstacles inherent in a Catholic setting, these people were also living under the shadow of Communist oppression, with the many opportunities we take for granted unavailable to them. Humanly speaking, how would they have heard the gospel otherwise?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I don't say this to be prideful but I literally blow the minds of some Christians when I teach them. They just never hear the Scriptures taught the way the Scriptures themselves teach. They are so accustomed to "contextualization" that they never hear the Scriptures taught in the language of the Scriptures. There's a particular group that I teach on occasion and they are accustomed to everything being focused on ethics and Christian witness. I teach them on faith and repentance or indwelling sin and they're blown away. They just don't get it regularly.

This is my experience as well.

You don't need to worry about whether preaching is 'reformed' or not. Allow truth to teach itself and those who hear the Savior's voice will receive it and they won't care what its called. Starving people don't care about all of the labels we use. They hunger for the Word of God period.

Would you withhold meat from starving vegetarians?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Jack,
"Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues."

I do not think this is an apples to apples comparison. The synagogues were the true visible churches of those cities when Paul arrived. Had they accepted his message, they would have remained the true churches and incorporated Gentiles, etc. Only when they rejected the message were separate churches formed.

If one is going in order to preach contrary to the doctrine of these churches, then one should at least be completely honest about this up front. My concern is not with preaching to a particular group but with whether the preaching is understood to be to the church or on behalf of that church.

Yes, I agree the example from Paul does not exactly fit the situation we're discussing here. But I suggest the principle is similar and is worth our consideration.

-------------------

Although I am not a minister, I think my experience can partly address some of the concerns about a guest speaker being seen to represent a church when he speaks. On a handful of occasions, I have been invited to speak at the local Adventist church/school, and I have always said yes. The reaction to this has been as follows:

- Several times, people at the Adventist church have expressed thanks and said my talks enlarged their appreciation of the gospel or gave kids there some badly needed teaching. Some of them have shown up at my church later. Some of those kids from the school have ended up attending Bible camps I teach at or are part of my church (though I can't know if any of that has to do with me).

- Always the reaction in my home church has been positive. People there figure I'm sharing good material with the Adventists and are glad to see it happening. They don't think I'm becoming an Adventist or starting to speak for them.

- Never that I know of have I had someone mistakenly think I was an Adventist.

- Once I had an acquaintance hear I was speaking there and tell my wife, "I guess that means it's a pretty good place, if Jack speaks there."

I consider that last scenario to be a valid concern. It is possible that people see a speaker's presence at a certain church as a semi-endorsement. However, I think that reaction is fairly rare. Most people recognize the difference between a guest speaker and representative of the church. And the positives are strong enough to outweigh the concerns, in my experience.
 
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