Thursday, June 14, 2007

Whatever Works?

The greatest threat to the gospel specific to today is the indirect challenge of pragmatism among evangelicals.
-- Mark Dever

Some random personal opinions (of mine) related to this issue of pragmatism in the Church:

1) There was a point at which a considered concern for removing unnecessary traditional or religious cultural barriers between seekers and churches became a passion for doing "whatever it takes" to get people in the doors. I don't know where that point was, and I'm sure it happened gradually, but it obviously resulted from changing a focus from saving souls to gaining numbers.

2) Consequently, and somewhat ironically, the current equivalent of the 80's-90's seeker churches are not really bringing the lost into the life of discipleship so much as they are attracting Christians who have become bored with their previous church.

3) Consequently, many churches have become suppliers of spiritual milk not to new believers but to "old" believers who have never matured into the desire for meat.

4) Worship time has become more entertainment driven not as a means to attract the lost but to ensure that a church's "show" is better than all the other churches' shows.

5) The embrace of pragmatism affects nearly all of a church's aims, so that even the largest churches with the most resources do not actually plant new churches so much as they are franchising themselves. We see this currently with the satellite church movement, in which large churches with popular teachers do not raise up pastors to plant missional churches elsewhere but set up "spin-offs" where the main church teacher is shown on video screen.
This means that either a) really big churches with lots of money and personnel are somehow unable to raise up and train quality teacher-pastors, or b) they are able to do so but prefer the attraction of the celebrity quotient of their pastor. Either of those options does not bode well for the state of the missional church.

6) The first question we must ask when planning teaching, music, creative elements, fundraisers, marketing and advertising -- basically anything the modern church does -- is not "What will people think?", but "What will God think?"

7) Fidelity to the Gospel should always trump "whatever it takes."


At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a really good gospel driven "show" check out
It could change your life, It did mine.

At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Jared said...

I've listened to some Gathering podcasts. I hear lots of "show," little Gospel. That's my perspective.

Oh btw, these couple of comments wouldn't be part of the Gathering's "Web Warrior" push, would it? Because this sort of promotion is not received well in the blogosphere. There is a set of etiquette your warriors might want to familiarize themselves with before they start anonymously dropping links on random blogs. It will create negative buzz, actually, not positive.

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I'm not part of the "web warriors" push. I didnt realize this was a competition, I thought we were all in the same business. Sorry for the intrusion.

At 7:13 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Good to hear you're not participating in that campaign. For those who've been blogging a while, it really would not be received well.

For my part, I'm not in a "business." And I didn't imply, nor do I desire, a competition. Why would you bring that up?
Btw, you're the one who left a link to the church of the pastor who was disciplined by and fired from the church this site is for. Are you sure I'm the one who's thinking "competition"?

Why do you assume you're intruding?

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bring up the word "competition" because many of your blog entries (my observation) put down other types of worship that you disagree with or that you feel are not gospel driven. Often your entries sound like you are trying to convince people that if they worship in a unorthodox way, that they are somehow not a legitimate form of worship. I didn't realize this blog was for your church only, I guess I am intruding. I don't see a conflict in listening to The Gathering podcasts and attending BCC or vice versa.

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Jared said...

Define worship in an unorthodox way.
For me this isn't about style. It's about focus. If you begin the approach to worship with market assumptions and audience focus, naturally you will think anything goes so long as it makes people happy. But if you begin with theological assumptions and God-focus, you realize "whatever works" is not a valid conclusion. Depending on how one defines "works," of course. If the object is entertaining people, anything goes. If the object is worshiping God, you might be able to entertain some people, but you are limited in what you can do. That's just logic.

These posts reflect my opinions. That's the nature of writing. I'm always surprised by people reacting strangely to that.

I'm not trying to compete with anybody. I am sharing my views, in this post, on the state of the American church. If you disagree, feel free to articulate your disagreement. Just saying "you're being critical" doesn't really say anything, because I realize that. But as my last point in the post references, my critique is always about the affirmation of and precedence of the Gospel.

I didn't realize this blog was for your church only

This is just disingenuous. You know that the Gathering's pastor was the pastor for BCC and that his departure was not amicable. You and I both know he continues to say he was fired unjustly. Leaving a link to the Gathering on this blog is not some insignificant or unlikely coincidence.

You brought up competition for a reason. You came here for a reason. Advertising for that church in this space was a purposeful intrusion on your part. It's insincere for you to feign "What?" when I mention it.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said "I've listened to some Gathering podcasts. I hear lots of "show," little Gospel. That's my perspective." ........... Why do you listened to The Gathering podcasts if you have no real interest in the church or its pastor? Do listen because you like what you hear or because you are looking for what you consider flaws in the message? I occasionally listen to BCC and I don't see a conflict in listening to The Gathering podcasts and attending BCC or vice versa. And I check out your blog because sometimes I like what ou write.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Jared said...

Why do you listened to The Gathering podcasts if you have no real interest in the church or its pastor?

I didn't say I had no interest. I listen occasionally for precisely that reason -- curiosity. I have always found Foster an engaging speaker, and he was one of the main reasons we came to BCC and stayed.

I personally don't get much out of his messages these days, but I don't listen to pick them apart (do you see any critiques on this site?). I listen because, on a basic level, I'm curious as to what he's talking about. I read his blog too.

I don't see a conflict in listening to both podcasts either, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. But advertising or promoting the church/speaking of the man who was fired for abusing his position on a site meant primarily to minister to the place of his abuse is unwise and inappropriate. Wouldn't you agree?

And if not, why not comment on his blog suggesting he link to BCC in his sidebar and highlight BCC podcasts in his blog posts?

Thanks for the compliment, btw.


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