On February 29, 2012, I published my critique of Tim Keller's paper on "Evangelistic Worship" on my website. Over the past months, I have received helpful feedback from the session of New Life Burbank and other individuals who have taken the time to dialogue with me. As a result of these interactions, I have decided to revise the paper.
Most of the revisions pertain to clarifying two terms that I used too frequently in the earlier version of this paper but that I now realize were ambiguous: “address” and “unbelievers.” By “address” I mean to engage apologetically with the aim of seeking to convert. By “unbelievers” I mean those not professing faith in Christ as members of the covenant community. I have also added an Appendix answering questions prompted by my paper.
One point that did not come across in the original version is that I am not opposed to welcoming visitors from the pulpit and demonstrating an attitude of hospitality to them. In addition, I am not opposed to occasional invitations to those who do not profess faith in Christ to come to Christ, as long as such invitations do not overwhelm and detract from the covenantal nature of the worship, although I do not think a preacher has an obligation to include such gospel invitations in every sermon. So those are a couple of points on which I have corrected the paper in light of the feedback. My original language came across as overly restrictive.
I appreciate the feedback and questions, from friends on both sides of this debate, which have prodded me to clarify my thinking and be more precise in my language. It is great when iron sharpens iron in a constructive manner, something that does not happen frequently enough when we have disagreements in the church.