CHURCH & MINISTRY
And the Pendulum Swings...
The Church, Relevancy, and the Truth
By Jordan Walker
Jordan also blogs at He who has ears, let him hear
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Continued from Page One
I believe this has excellent applications to the Church. New pastors and new believers are always on fire for Christ. They have been shown the error of their own ways, called to a higher purpose, and are now ready to change the world. At this crucial point we all have a proclivity toward looking for things that we can change or improve. We see faults and problems within the church and we think we can spice it up, change it up, and really ignite the Church. The problem is, if we are igniting the church, we are doing something terribly wrong. If you asked any of the Apostles who it was that was rocking the world 2000 years ago, I would venture a guess that none of them would say, "me." Yes, Peter spoke and 3,000 souls were subsequently added to number of disciples at Pentecost. Yes, Paul put pen to paper (or parchment or scrolls or whatever it was they wrote on!) and his letters have helped shape the Christian faith. But was it really them? Absolutely not, for it was Christ working through them.
God isn't calling you because he needs your skill set and your new ideas to revitalize His church. He is calling you because he loves you and he desires to have a personal relationship with you. But, he also demands obedience and submission. He is your master — He doesn't need anything from you. He has shown that he will use the gifts of his disciples to accomplish his purpose, but those gifts will never and can never overshadow the ultimate power of the cross! If Paul didn't need words of eloquent wisdom to accomplish the great commission, then we certainly shouldn't need or rely on rock bands, laser shows, magnificent video productions, amazing signs and feats, or anything else to share the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified. Be simple, be content, be still, and know that He is God and the power is all His.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. — I Corinthians 1:173. Emotionally manipulating the masses
Perhaps the most disturbing and dangerous aspect of the changes in the church is that many of them naturally lend themselves to emotionally-charged evangelism. Is emotion involved in evangelism and our relationship with Christ? Absolutely! Anyone who has fallen prostrate on the floor trembling in the presence of our Lord or in awe of His Word has felt that truth. Be that as it may, emotion-driven testimonies, songs, and stories followed by pleas for people to "accept" Christ into their hearts immediately and be counted as souls saved isn't really biblical.
Most everything about the modern church movement that we have outlined previously is designed to play on people's emotions. Multimedia is often brought into the worship service to play goosebump-raising, tear-jerking videos that, while they may mention God and quote scripture, largely place the focus on the human condition and emotions. Much of the contemporary Christian music of our day, while wholesome and clean, is little more than popular music with some key religious buzz words thrown into the chorus. The tempo, harmony, tone and lyrics are used to play on your heart strings and elicit an emotional response, just like most secular pop songs. Rarely will you hear popular Christian music that is in line with a lament of King David or is as powerful as the music in your old hymnal. The growth of massive "mega-churches" is undeniably due in large part to the charisma of the pastor. Charisma from the pulpit is great and absolutely can be used by God. Conversely, if the man is preaching a watered down message full of pretty words, emotional pleas, and "Jesus love and peace" yet empty of fundamental Scriptural teachings and the Law of God...Is not that the very definition of emptying the cross of its power? The cross is useless without the Law. Emotion should and will be the result of the Holy Spirit's work within your heart. The outpouring of this emotion and resulting love for Jesus and His people will inevitably affect other people. However, we must take care not to put the wagon before the horse. Emotion cannot cause saving faith — saving faith invariably begets emotion. The Word of God has plenty of power to convict and convert without our emotional spin or presentation of it. We are to be nothing more than good stewards of and vessels for the Word. Biblical accuracy is far more important than showmanship. Emotions will come, we do not have to force them on the masses.
Speaking on worship services, a friend of mine made this statement, "I want to intellectually stimulated, not emotionally manipulated." I believe that should be our desire and goal as we spread the Gospel of our Lord. Playing on people's emotions is extremely effective for evangelism...IF your idea of evangelism is getting someone to raise their hand, walk down the aisle, and tearfully "invite" Jesus into their heart WITHOUT suffering true conviction. It is extremely effective in getting people to call themselves "Christians," but it is extremely ineffective in making true disciples! Preach the Word, preach the Word, preach the Word. Anything more is folly. We do not have to manipulate the hearts of people, for the Word of God searches the heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds. — Jeremiah17:9-10 (ESV)Overall, the evolution of the church is necessary. Paul said, "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." We must adapt to the times and to the world around us without being conformed to its ways. I do not hate multimedia in the church, I am inspired by many of their uses. I do not hate contemporary Christian music, my Pandora account is full of them. I do not hate mega-churches or their pastors, I watch Youtube videos of their sermons and services constantly. I do not hate non-denominational churches, I attended one regularly while in college. All of these can be good things for the church, as long as the focus remains on the one true and holy God. It is my hope that as we continue to change and reform as a Church, we strive not to overcorrect so that we can avoid the pitfalls of paradigm shifts and the pendulum tendency.
Image Credit: Daryl Clark; "Foucault Pendulum"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Church-Issues | Controversial-Issues
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