Which Bible looks more like your Bible? Continue reading
Editor’s Note: I ran across this post on Writinggomer’s blog and wanted to share it with my readers. Greg has some of the same issues I have expressed on this blog before about the state of the church today. Is the church more like a harlot or the Bride of Christ?
Published on his website: Believing God Today
How would you like your eggs today, over-easy, scrambled, fried, sunny-side up, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, poached, or shirred?? How about your steak; rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done?? Choice of potatoes? This sounds like questions for a meal in a restaurant right?
Can you relate the above questions to today’s Church? Depending on the meal you choose when eating in a restaurant, you, the patron, sometimes have Continue reading
Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones toting the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.
The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper. More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”. The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word. The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.
“I’ve made myself available
to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG
This is a sad-but-true story about a church proving there is no freedom in religion.
Leftist, Feminist Lesbian Professor Now A Pastor’s Wife Continue reading
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
40 years ago David Mohan started a church in Chennai, India. That church has continued to grow until today it is one of the leading churches in the world. Each Sunday he has 14 worship services beginning at 5:00 am. In September, I preached at the 10:30 to 12:00 worship service and the 4:30 to 6:30 afternoon worship. They average between 4,000 to 7,000 people at each worship service!
The best way to describe worship is WOW! The sanctuary seats 5,200 people. Every seat was taken with people sitting on the floor and many standing around the walls. A fire marshal in the U.S. would have been extremely busy at New Life in Chennai.
The first overflow auditorium that seats 1,200 people was full. The second overflow room seats about 900, and it was full. They have screens set up outside for people who can’t get into any of those three venues. They had over 42,000 people attend worship that day!
Worship isn’t convenient for the people. The church has only one and a half acres. There are no parking places. People come by public transportation. As I left the 10:30 worship service, outside the building it looked like a college football game. There were buses lined up to give transportation for people who had been attending church. There was another huge set of buses that were bringing people to the next worship service.
In traveling from the hotel to the church at 10:15 on Sunday morning, we suddenly encountered a traffic jam. I asked the driver if there was a wreck up ahead. He comment was, “No, the church is about a quarter of a mile away and the traffic jam occurs at the ending of each worship service and the beginning of the next worship service.” They have a lot of policemen directing the traffic and allowing the people to get to public transportation.
I also preached at the 4:30 worship service. It started raining pretty hard about 4:00. Since many of the people travel on motor scooters, I figured that the rain would deter a lot of people from coming to worship. I was wrong again. Rain didn’t seem to affect the attendance.
New Life has sent out 150 missionaries from the local church in recent years. They came back for a missions’ conference in September. I had the opportunity to speak to the missionaries on Saturday, then speak at their missions’ rally on Saturday night. The New Life Church took pledges to support their missions.
The witness of the missionaries were so compelling I felt it a privilege to make a financial pledge for their mission work! The missionaries taught me something about prayer. It wasn’t just something that they casually do. The first prayer request was from a missionary who said his two nieces had been kidnapped by terrorists.
They had been given three days to pay a ransom or the girls would be killed. The missionary asked for prayer. Wow! There was intense prayer. The other requests centered around fellow missionaries who were in prison, some who had been beaten, etc. They actually had a special time to pray for all of the churches around the world that are being persecuted.
On Monday we began the Pastors’ Conference. There were 1,140 pastors who came for training. Like the pastors in northern India, they listened intently, took copious notes, and were eager to learn. I’m scheduled to go back to teach 3 more times in the next 2 years.
It took me about 33 hours to go from Montgomery to Chennai. You lose a lot of sleep and don’t eat much, but my life was refreshed by Christians who really know what it means to live out Christian commitment and to be faithful to carry out the Great Commission.
John Ed’s blog posts appear each Thursday in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
By T.A. McMahon,
Co-founder of The Berean Call
This is the first part of a three-part series examining the explosion of “seeker-friendly” churches in the United States.¹
Author’s note: The state of the modern church has bothered me for several years. I am watching the “church’s” impact disintegrate into an ineffective, God-neglecting institution apparently, to me, more interested in marketing strategies than discipling.
The church’s purpose is not to save the lost. That is God’s job. The purpose of the true church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Christ, is to train and equip the saints, who then go out and win souls for Christ.
In my view, the modern church, not the Bride of Christ, has lost its way and its true purpose. I’m reading lots of pastors and other church history authorities who are writing the same message.
Read Mr. McMahon’s article below and see if you agree with me.
The “seeker-friendly,” or “seeker-sensitive,” movement currently taking a host of evangelical churches by storm is an approach to evangelizing through application of the latest marketing techniques.
Typically, it begins with a survey of the lost (referred to by a leading church in this trend as the “unchurched,” or “unchurched Harry and Mary”). This survey questions the unchurched about the things their nearby place of worship might offer that would motivate them to attend. Results of the questionnaire indicate areas of potential changes in the church’s operations and services that would be effective to attract the unchurched, keep them attending, and win them to Christ. Those who have developed this marketing approach guarantee the growth of the churches that conscientiously follow their proven methods. Practically speaking, it works!
This (the “seeker-friendly” phenomenon) is a redefining of the leadership of the church, along lines that appear to me to be far more entrepreneurial than biblical. This is importing into the church the cultural success patterns, looking at corporate America, looking at successful CEOs, looking at successful businesses, everything from Ben and Jerry’s to Microsoft and trying to find the triggers, trying to find the avenues, trying to find the access, the hot buttons that allow them to sell their product to the degree that they do and to be so successful in corporation life. Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace To You Ministries.
Two Seeker Churches
Two churches are seen as models for this movement: Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago), pastored by Bill Hybels, and Saddleback Valley Community Church (south of Los Angeles), pastored by Rick Warren. Their influence is stunning. Willow Creek has formed its own association of churches, with 9,500 members. Last year, 100,000 church lead-ers attended at least one Willow Creek leadership conference. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries have attended Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church seminars. More than 60,000 pastors subscribe to his weekly email newsletter.
We visited Willow Creek Community Church not too long ago, and it seems to have spared no expense in its mission to attract the masses. Looking past the swans gliding across a mirror lake, one sees what could be mistaken for a corporate headquarters or a very upscale shopping mall. Just off the sanctuary is a large bookstore and an extensive eating area supplied by a food court with five different vendors. A jumbotron screen allows an overflow crowd or those enjoying a meal to view the proceedings in the main sanctuary. The sanctuary itself is spacious and high tech, complete with three large screens and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems for multimedia, drama, and musical presentations.
While impressive, Willow Creek is not unique among mega-churches with a reach-the-lost-through-whatever-turns-them-on mindset. Mega-churches across the country have added bowling alleys, NBA regulation basketball courts with bleachers, exercise gyms and spas, locker rooms, auditoriums for concerts and dramatic productions, and Starbucks and McDonald’s franchises—all for the furtherance of the gospel . . .or so it is claimed.
Although it’s true that such churches are packing them in, that’s not the whole story in evaluating the success of this latest trend in “doing church.”
Seeker Churches’ Goal
The stated goal of seeker-friendly churches is reaching the lost. Though biblical and praiseworthy, the same cannot be said for the methods used in attempting to achieve that goal. Let’s begin with marketing as a tactic for reaching the lost. Fundamentally, marketing has to do with profiling consumers, ascertaining what their “felt needs” are, and then fashioning one’s product (or its image) to appeal to the targeted customer’s desires.
The hoped-for result is that the consumer buys or “buys into” the product. George Barna, whom Christianity Today calls “the church’s guru of growth,” claims that such an approach is essential for the church in our market-driven society. Evangelical church-growth leaders are adamant that the marketing approach can be applied–and they have employed it–without compromising the gospel. Really?
First of all, the gospel and, more significantly, the person of Jesus Christ do not fit into any marketing strategy. They are not “products” to be “sold.” They cannot be refashioned or image-adjusted to appeal to the felt needs of our consumer-happy culture. Any attempt to do so compromises to some degree the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for us . For example, if the lost are considered consumers and a basic marketing “commandment” says that the customer must reign supreme, then whatever may be offensive to the lost must be discarded, revamped, or downplayed.
Scripture tells us clearly that the message of the Cross is “foolishness to them that are perishing” and that Christ himself is a “rock of offense” (1 Cor:1:18; 1 Pt 2:8). Some seeker-friendly churches, therefore, seek to avoid this “negative aspect” by making the temporal benefits of becoming a Christian their chief selling point. Although that appeals to our gratification-oriented generation, it is neither the gospel nor the goal of a believer’s life in Christ.
Appealing To The Flesh
Secondly, if you want to attract the lost on the basis of what might interest them, for the most part you will be appealing to and accommodating their flesh. Wittingly or unwittingly, that seems to be the standard operating procedure of seeker-friendly churches. They mimic what’s popular in our culture: top-forty and performance-style music, theatrical productions, stimulating multi-media presentations, and thirty-minutes-or-less positive messages. The latter, more often than not, are topical, therapeutic, and centered in self-fulfillment–how the Lord can meet one’s needs and help solve one’s problems.
Those concerns may be lost on increasing numbers of evangelical pastors but, ironically, not on some secular observers. In his perceptive book This Little Church Went to Market , Pastor Gary Gilley notes that the professional marketing journal American Demographics recognizes that people are . . .
“into spirituality, not religion….Behind this shift is the search for an experiential faith, a religion of the heart, not the head. It’s a religious expression that downplays doctrine and dogma, and revels in direct experience of the divine–whether it’s called the ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘cosmic consciousness’ or the ‘true self.’ It is practical and personal, more about stress reduction than salvation, more therapeutic than theological. It’s about feeling good, not being good. It’s as much about the body as the soul….Some marketing gurus have begun calling it ‘the experience industry.” (pp. 20-21)
¹ Taken from an article on the Berean Call website called The Seeker Friendly Way Of Doing Church.
This Is A True Story. What Would Your Church Do?
What if a very attractive, distinguished, articulate woman, with a husband and two children, came to your church several times and finally decided to join? Continue reading
This Is A True Story. What Would Your Church Do?
After reading this: Do you think the church is more like a harlot or a bride? Continue reading
Does the church today behave more like a twenty-dollar harlot or the Bride of Christ?
Is the church coming to this? Imagine with me if you will. You and your wife and two-point-five children pull into the 10-acre parking lot. You all pile out of your minivan Continue reading
In May I decided I needed a blogging break. I called my sabbatical my Summer of God. I asked God to refresh my spirit, replenish me with fresh ideas for devotionals, new references and new ways to blog about His Gospel. To show me what He wanted me to know about Him, and about myself. He answered my prayer in ways I didn’t expect. He did, as the Bible says do more than I could think or imagine.
Meeting A Fellow Blogger
One of my most memorable experiences during my Summer of God was meeting fellow blogger and writer AmandaBeth, her husband, Jay, her sister and Amanda and Jay’s four children (from toddler to a pre-teen). They were driving through Atlanta on their way to Florida for a vacation after spending a night with Amanda’s sister who lives in Atlanta.
We all met at a Chick-Fil-A for lunch. They told me they had never had a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Next to an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, eatin’ a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich is about as Southern a food as you can get. Jay said they didn’t have Chick-Fil-A up Nawth where he hails from. So eating their chicken sandwiches was a real treat for the whole family.
They’re a Genuine Godly Family
I don’t think I’ve ever met such a fun and godly couple. Jay has the patience of Job with his kids. He is one of the most mild-mannered, yet caring and loving dad I’ve ever met. His kids listen to him (except the little one sometimes) and he interacts with each of them in a personal loving way. I truly admire him and hope to get to know him better.
Amanda is a sweetheart and a very Godly women. She disciplines her kids with love and respect. All the kids (except the little one sometimes) respect and mind mom and dad. And Amanda and Jay have one of the most loving considerate relationships I’ve seen in a young couple. It was easy for me to be around them and if we lived closer together I know we’d become lasting friends.
Amanda is a published author
Amanda’s first book, You Can Have A Happy Family is a well-written guide for any family at any juncture of their relationship. It’s not as much a “how to” book as it is the biography of a happy family. One that works day-in day-out. Amanda also maintains a website about her writing, and she writes a devotional blog as well called Sharing The Truths Behind The TRUTH.
Psychologists and PhD’s usually author marriage and family books. They base their information for their books on research and experience counseling clients. Amanda wrote YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY from the trenches. When Amanda writes about discipline or sacrifice or intimacy or marital relationships you can take her advice to the bank for two reasons: 1) she lives what she writes every day. As a thirty-something stay-at-home mother of four (from a toddler to a pre-teen) she writes about her own experiences, her successes and her failures. Her transparent candid informal writing style puts readers in the midst of her life. 2) She writes from a deeply felt commitment to allow the Lord to show her and teach her what His will is for her marriage and family.
Imagine with me for a minute.
You and your best friend are walking home. Continue reading