This is take from John Jefferson Davis, Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence, 166-67.
The early church historian Robert Louis Wilken, in an interview in Christian History, stated forcefully that this sense of distinctiveness from the surrounding culture, exemplified and celebrated in the Eucharist [Davis just argued that “Unbelievers were welcome during the liturgy of the word, but dismissed at the time of the Eucharist.”], was in fact one secret of its spiritual strength. Rather than having as its primary focus impact on the culture, the early church, he said, “was itself a culture and created a new Christian culture.” In answer to the question, “Did the early church strive to be ‘user-friendly’?” Wilken responded as follows:
Not at all – in fact, just the opposite. One thing that made early Christian community strong was its stress on ritual. There was something unique about Christian liturgy, especially the Eucharist….Pagans entered a wholly different world than they were used to. Furthermore, it was difficult to join the early church….I think seeker-sensitive churches use a completely wrong strategy. A person who comes into a Christian church for the first time should feel out of place. He should feel this community engages in practices so important they take time to learn. The best thing we can do for “seekers” is to create an environment where newcomers feel they are missing something vital, that one has to be included into this….Few people grasp this today. But the early church grasped it very well.
Some readers may think that Wilken has overstated his case, but nonetheless concede that his point is well taken, that is, that the church must be truly distinctive to have a lasting spiritual impact on the world.
Dr. Richard Barcellos is associate professor of New Testament Studies. He received a B.S. from California State University, Fresno, an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary, and a Th.M. and Ph.D. from Whitefield Theological Seminary. Dr. Barcellos is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA. He is author of Trinity & Creation, The Covenant of Works, and Getting the Garden Right. He has contributed articles to various journals and is a member of ETS.