I have always wondered about a preacher who proclaims the Gospel during weekly services, where 90 percent or more of the audience already consists of church members, instead of going out and looking for unbelievers in public places, as did John the Baptizer, Jesus, Peter, Philip, Paul, and others.

I did find a Bible passage that seems to suggest visitors were welcomed to the church's weekly gathering. Paul says, however, if, not when this occurs.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:22-25 NIV).

What should we conclude from these verses (and others)? Was one of the early church's purposes to invite guests into their meetings to see them converted?

  • What makes you think it was Sunday?
    – user33125
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 20:31
  • Because the NT churches gathered on the first day of the week for the Lord's Supper. Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 22:51
  • Do you have a Bible reference for that assertion?
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 23:01
  • I've always wondered where the word "service(s)" originated, in this context. As far as the other, is there any reason they wouldn't have (all) gathered on the Lord's Day (1st day)? On the first day of the week, when we gathered together to break bread... Ac 20:7 Just as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also do. On the first day of the week each one of you should lay aside in store to himself whatever he may have been prospered, that no collections be made when I come. [And, by that, I don't mean repulsive basket-passing for money which is common in Christendom.] 1 Cor 16:1-2
    – Walter S
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


No—that is highly unlikely. In fact, the non-initiated were not even welcome to stay for the entire service by a fairly early point in church history. A few quick sources:

  • In the first two centuries of the church (and up until fairly recently), unbaptized people were not welcome to partake of the Eucharist (cf. Didache 5; Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66).

  • By the fifth century (which reflects an earlier practice that was prevalent in at least Antioch and Constantinople, and later became prevalent throughout the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire), non-initiated Christians were dismissed following the Mass of the Catechumens (i.e., Liturgy of the Word), and only the initiated could attend the latter portion of the service during which the Eucharist was celebrated (cf. Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, "Mass of the Catechumens"; text of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). The implication is that only those preparing for baptism (i.e., catechumens) were allowed to be present for any part of the service.

  • Prior to the early fourth century, the church experienced intense periods of persecution during which it often met secretly. Early Romans were very suspicious of Christians because of their alleged "secret and nocturnal rites" (cf. The Octavius of Minucius Felix, 9).1


1 Although, the author's understanding is clearly inaccurate in the specifically-cited example, since in the same paragraph the interlocutor also accuses early Christians of murdering infants and drinking their blood as part of their initiation rites. However, there are other sources for the secrecy of early Christian worship practices that I don't have handy at the moment, so the point stands.

  • Maybe visitors were welcomed to watch saints partaking of the Lord's Supper, the collection, the teaching, prayers and hymns, but there were just not participating to these. How can we know either way? Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 13:54
  • @TruthSeeker the text of the Liturgy says, "Let all catechumens depart, let no catechumens remain." They literally had to leave the premises. They got to participate in prayer and the first part of the service, but not the Eucharist.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 18:58

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