“Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:” (Romans 15:20, KJV 1900)
You have probably heard the expression, preaching to the choir. It basically means to persuade someone about that which they already know. When I was in the pastoral ministry, this was something that often happened. In nearly every congregation, there were people who believed and those who did not. This meant that if I preached the basic gospel message and called people to salvation, in a large part, I was preaching to the choir. However, there were often many who did not understand and for them this was new.
Paul explains that he did not choose to preach to the choir, but rather to those who have never heard the gospel. In his calling, he was to take the gospel message to the Gentile regions, to places where Christ had not already been named. In this way, he was not building upon the foundation already laid by others. He was what we would call a pioneer missionary, going to an unreached people.
Preaching to the choir is different than preaching to those who are not singing in harmony. The message is often different. On several occasions, I preached in a prison in Savannah Georgia. In that prison, there were two assemblies. One was the old-time residents and the other was the newly incarcerated. When I preached the gospel to the old-timers who had been attending the worship services every week, I saw the Lord move in one service and four came to faith. However, in the service with all the newly incarcerated, over 60 responded to the message. Now, the Holy Spirit did the work in the hearts of the attendees in both services, but the same basic gospel message produced more fruit in the population that never attended worship before than the population that met every week.
What is my point? That is a good question. My point is this. Many parishioners expect the pastor to preach a sermon on Sunday that will bring people to faith in Christ. The only problem is that the majority of people who will be in a church service on any given Sunday, largely represents those of the choir. Few, if any who do not sing in the choir will be there. Thus, someone needs to preach to those outside the choir, that is those who are not there on Sunday morning. And this is where we all come in. We all can be pioneer missionaries, so to speak, by going to those outside the church with a basic gospel message.
Each and every believer has contact with those who will never darken the doors of the church on Sunday. We all need to pray for open doors to preach the gospel to those we meet. We need to pray for boldness so that when the door is opened to us, we will speak with authority. We need to keep our eyes and ears open to identify those opportunities and respond to them accordingly. We need to trust that the Lord will grab the heart of those we see and turn them from outsiders into members of the choir.