Posts Tagged 'seeker sensitive'

“They Like Newness…”

The title of this post is a statement recently made by a Pastor whose church is now in foreclosure – an explanation of the church’s attempt at attracting younger congregants. The statement is yet another indictment on the false prosperity gospel and the culture of greed and accumulation (and a little bit of seeker sensitivity thrown in for good measure). In addition to espousing the “God want’s everyone to be rich” mantra to their congregations, many pastors embraced that same philosophy in their attempt to build churches stadiums to attract worshippers customers – and hope that those folks would continue to feed the pig.

Interestingly enough, people who can barely pay their own bills don’t seem to eager to keep funding mega-building projects for others either:

Houses of God increasingly face foreclosure

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. – By the time thousands of parishioners stream into the 3,000-seat Ebenezer AME Church on Easter Sunday, church leaders hope to have something else to celebrate: financial revival.

The congregation, one of America’s largest, has been scrambling to raise funds to save the arena-sized sanctuary from potential foreclosure. To that end, it has enlisted national leaders, such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Harvard Law School’s Charles Ogletree, who was President Barack Obama’s law professor.

[…] Supercheap, few-questions-asked loans were a temptation even churches could not resist, but now they are paying for their mistakes as the debt crisis enters the house of God. Long considered among the safest of borrowers, churches gambled on real estate at a time when credit copiously flowed and lenders were startlingly lax.

And here’s a pearl of wisdom from the pastor’s statement that inspired this post:

“You build it and they will come. It really was true through the years,” said Brad Hampton, executive pastor at the Faith Center of Rockford, Ill. “They like newness,” he says of younger churchgoers.

Hampton’s megachurch was erecting a new sanctuary that could seat almost 2,000 when his lender refused further credit beyond an initial $4.2 million. The Faith Center, which also has a 48,000-square-foot “life center” that operates various ministries, is being foreclosed upon.

That’s right “pastor” – don’t proclaim the truth of the Gospel or succinctly explain the difference between eternal life through Christ and hopeless damnation without Him…just build pretty buildings to attract and keep the “they” you seek to entertain.

I still marvel that instead of concentrating on planting smaller churches throughout an area and committing to building disciples who will evangelize the Gospel, pastors sought (still seek?) to build monuments to their egos to attract seekers to marvel at their handy work. Their protestations rival the claims of Apple/AT&T’s claim that “there’s an App for that”: need something for your kids to do? We have a ministry for that. Need to lose weight? We have a ministry for that. So, that’s why they need huge arena’s and “family life centers” with their names emblazoned across the top…“to do ministry”.

God is continuing to expose waste and corruption purported in His Name, and I pray that we continue to discern and recognize the wheat and the chaff – and cling to Him instead of the material “stuff” we attribute to Him.

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The Sacred Sanctuary?


Psalm 5:7 (New American Standard Bible)

7But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house,
  At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.

For many, the church sanctuary is a symbol of reverence and holy worship unto the Lord. The speaking elder stands in the pulpit with the sober responsibility to preach the Word as Paul directed Timothy (2  Timothy 4:2). The assembly joins together in prayer, singing songs of praise and worship to God, and to receive instruction for righteous living to the glory of God.

Now, some pastors have added “tweeting” to the assembly’s activity list:

Twittering in Church, with the Pastor’s O.K.

John Voelz isn’t trying to brag, but it’s fair to say he was down with Twitterbefore most people knew it was a proper noun. Last year, Voelz, a pastor, was tweeting at a conference outside Nashville about ways to make the church experience more creative — ways to “make it not suck” — when suddenly it hit him: Twitter.

Voelz and David McDonald, the other senior pastor at WestwindsCommunity Church in Jackson, Mich., spent two weeks educating their congregation about Twitter, the microblogging site that challenges users to communicate in 140 characters or less. They held training sessions where congregants brought in their laptops, iPhones and Blackberrys. They upped the bandwidth in the auditorium.

As expected, banter flourished. Tweets like “Nice shirt JVo” and “So glad they are doing Lenny Kravitz” flashed across three large video screens. But there was heartfelt stuff, too.

“I have a hard time recognizing God in the middle of everything.”

“The more I press in to Him, the more He presses me out to be useful”

“sometimes healing is painful”

Call it the latest salvo in the “seeker-sensitive” movement, or the church needing to remain “relevant to the culture of today”, the reality is that technological advances will continue to make their way into the sacred sanctuary. And you thought the lady sitting next to you speaking in tongues was distracting during service? Imagine ignoring the sermon while daydreaming and watching all of the “tweets” flash across the large monitors in the sanctuary.

I have a hard enough time trying to concentrate while making my youngest sit still, now this? For those who consider me to be a legalist – especially since I have stated my objections/reservations to the entire seeker-sensitive movement, this post will probably soldify that label.

To me, the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a very sober and sacred affair. While it should not be done in a whisper chamber were cracking a smile could get you sent to the hallways, sound preaching and teaching works best in a distraction-free zone. I contend that when pastors allow (and encourage) “tweeting” during services (and broadcast those tweets across the Jumbo-Tron for all to see), they take the focus off of Christ and place it on the latest nifty technology. Much like I disdain the wanna-be Grammy-award wining soloist’s extended LP version of the latest Gospel jam, tweeting places another layer of distraction between congregants and the unfettered Word of God.

I asked about the pros and cons of “tweeting in church” on Twitter (why not go straight to the community in question, right?) and got back a few interesting responses:

Re: tweeting in church. I often do not, not for my sake, but because of others. There is quite a bit of stigma attached.

I will go out on a limb and say that I am not a fan of the idea. Isn’t our minds meant to be on God during worship service?

Well, I suppose one pro is that it allows people to think through points of the message as they share ’em

Perhaps in the right context and with full support from the pulpit the stigma will be removed from t*ing in church.

Saw it with my own eyes… some dude tweeting in church. Funny thing: he looked up Romans 3:23. You think not paying attention in church is a sin?! Just a thought.

I posed the question to Dr. Albert Mohler (ok, I “tweeted” him). Dr. Mohler is a noted Thelogian, and the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – he’s also an avid twitterer.  Dr. Mohler tweets before and after sermons, from the lecture circuit, from banquets and dinners, and more – and he even sends pictures from his travels. I haven’t revecieved a “tweet back”, but I suspect that Mohler frowns upon the idea of tweeting during church service – and encouraging the act from the pulpit.

Mark Lamprecht over at the blog Sweet Tea & Theology wrote an interesting article on the subject as well, stating (emphasis added):

Twitter Church and Classroom

Recently, a local news station reported on using Twitter at church: ‘Twittering’ encouraged at Seattle church.  It’s an interesting report and I might like to hear more about it.  However, is that really helpful to one’s spiritual growth?  I have to wonder that if we cannot even sit and listen to a sermon which is normally less than an hour how will we ever study and pray at home with ourselves and family?  Just because tweeting is silent does this mean it is now acceptable to whisper on your cell phone during the worship time?  Why not?  I mean, would we stop in the middle of a prayer to re-tweet?  This is just all strange to me.  What is it that makes tweeting acceptable and ever other medium off limits?  Can you see the pastor stopping in the middle of a corporate prayer to tweet something?On the other hand, if your pastor encourages you to tweet and every is pretty much on board, go for it!  I still don’t get it, but that’s okay.  I just don’t see how it adds anything to God feeding you through worship.

And therein lies my concern – if we encourage “microbursts” of information sharing during worship services, are we making it even more difficult to encourage sacred quiet time with the Lord and His Word? Are we sending conflicting messages – “take deliberate time to study and know the person and work of Jesus Christ, but be prepared to discuss it in less than 140 characters”

That said (as Mark point’s out), you’re not “out of order” if the pastor encourages and facilitates the activity.

Still, I can’t help but think that it is distracting.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a legalistic prude…with a blog…and a twitter account…and two BlackBerries…I’ll stop there.

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Your Pastor Wants You To Have Great Sex!


OK, I’ll try to write this story without giggling like a 3rd grader. I’ll try, but it just amuses me to see how some pastors deny the power of the Word of God.

“How”, you ask?

By refusing to stand flat-footed and preach expositorily, some pastors instead attempt to market God’s eternal truth in a “seeker sensitive/relevant” package so that the debased mind can understand it – because the Word of God just isn’t “sexy” enough on it’s own…which leads us to today’s example:

Texas pastor to issue 7-day sex challenge

Associated Press

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DALLAS — The pastor of a megachurch says he will challenge married congregants during his sermon Sunday to have sex for seven straight days — and he plans to practice what he preaches.

“We’re going to give it a try,” said the Rev. Ed Young, who has four children with his wife of 26 years.

Young, 47, said he believes society promotes promiscuity and he wants to reclaim sex for married couples. Sex should be a nurturing, spiritual act that strengthens marriages, he said.

“God says sex should be between a married man and a woman,” Young said. “I think it’s one of the greatest things you can do for your kids because so goes the marriage, so goes the family.”

Young said he will deliver his seven-day sex challenge while sitting on a bed in front of his Dallas-area church campus.

Let me be clear – I am a happily married man who enjoys my vibrant relationship with my wife in every way. I don’t have a problem with a pastor who tastefully exegetes the Word of God so that married couples understand God’s plan for their sex lives.

That said, why would Ed Young deliver this message from a bed…in front of his church? I’ll tell you why, because that makes his “sermon” more provocative – and it reduces it to a cheap David Blain-like circus stunt.

I urge you to listen carefully to RC Sproul (a REAL expository preacher) explain the fallacy of the seeker-sensitive movement, and how it does not replace God’s eternal truth through His unadulterated Word:

What’s next: Jamal “The Pimp of Baltimore” and Zane the Erotic Author teaming up again to teach from a queen sized bed?

When The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS NOT Enough…

***hat tip to A Little Leaven***

…you resort to stupid gimmicks like this to fill the pews.

So why dream up a stupid stunt like this? Well, according to The Connection United Methodist Church in St. Louis:

At The Connection we want to let people know the church is absolutely relevant and useful – that life & faith can meet in a way that impacts our very existence. The church is as “fly” (translation – cool or hip) as we dream it and create it to be. God is certainly not out-of-date and neither should God’s people be out-of-date. (source)

While the purpose of every believer is to spread the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the church is very clear – (1) teach biblical doctrine, (2) be a place of fellowship for believers, (3) observe the Lord’s supper, and (4) be a place of prayer:

Acts 2:42 (New American Standard Bible)

42They were (A)continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to (B)the breaking of bread and (C)to prayer.

We don’t have an option of making the church a realization of “our dreams” – it’s God’s House. Period.

Yet more seeker sensitive/relevant/emergent garbage to pollute the arteries of The Body…

Ah, C’mon – Only Love Matters!

If I had a dollar for every email (or comment) that I’ve receive admonishing me to “stop causing division” or recognize that “the only thing that matters is that we love each other”, then I could retire and blog full time.

Alas, I can’t continue to chuckle to myself when confronted with such simple retorts. I am compelled to dig through the Word of God to stress the importance of following sound doctrine and the TRUE Gospel, not the candy-coated stuff that is satisfying the appetites of the immature today.

Below is a video posted by Lane Chaplin (another of my favorite youtube evangelists). This video is part of a series entitled “The Sovereignty of God”. Below, Mark Kielar (the host) lays out the case for the importance of sticking with sound doctrine verses the “can’t we all just be friends” outcry:

“Sound Doctrine Just Divides… It’s Love That Matters!”

I love one of Mark’s quotes from the video (my emphasis in bold):

“Ah, we need to forget about the differences in our doctrines, and we just need to love one another.” as though those two are consistent goals. Surely they haven’t come to realize that the only way we can love right is to live right, and the only way we can live right is to believe right.

The seeker-sensitive, emergent, , ecumenical, “inclusion” peddling, relevant church proponents don’t want to get into deep discussions on biblical doctrine because it scares too many people away from the “friendly church model” they try so desperately to market to fill pews.

If sound doctrine didn’t matter, then why would God so painstakingly lay down His precepts through His inspired Word over and over again? Wouldn’t it just be simple to let everyone do what they wanted to do according to their own “moral center”, thereby ensuring that EVERYBODY was right?

Thank God through Jesus Christ that His Word clearly dileneates His idea of true love (my emphasis in bold):

1 John 3:18-20 (New American Standard Bible)

18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him

20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

We exhibit our love for God and man by adhering to God’s truth, not by “getting along with everyone”.

Do You REALLY Believe What You Said?

One of the fundamental problems with the seeker sensitive/emergent church movement (and the Osteen/Warren user friendly church model) is the removal of the burden of the cross of Christ.

When you’re convinced that you can “become a better you” by simply “adjusting” your lifestyle, or subscribing to “7 habits”, then you are on a slippery theological slope. Add to the confusion the route by which you accepted Christ “as your personal Savior” (a/k/a “the sinners prayer”, in most churches), then we can see why many who claim the Name of the Lord live as though they’ve never heard the Gospel proclaimed.

Take a look at the way Joel Osteen evangelizes the Gospel message:

I don’t know what Osteen said prior to that prayer, I’d be hard pressed to believe that he gave a sound expository on salvation through Jesus Christ or the Doctrines of Grace (based on his lightweight approach to “preaching” history).

The fact of the matter is that most people say the sinners prayer in order to obtain “fire insurance” – a “get out (or stay out) of hell free card” that will ensure that they spend eternity with the Father. Sadly, many never learn of the process of regeneration.

In his book “Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs”, J.I. Packer states that “regeneration” is:

a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause.

If you come to God through Christ after having acknowledged that (1) you are a sinner and deserving of eternal damnation apart from Him (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23), (2) the sinless Christ (1 Peter 2:22) paid your sin-debt in full (2 Corinthians 5:21) as a demonstration of God’s love for you (Romans 5:8), and (3)you sincerely believe in your heart about the death, burial, Resurrection, and reign of Christ (Romans 10:9), then you are saved.

The fruit of your salvation (or as the Apostle Peter called it a “living hope” in 1 Peter 1:3) is a “regenerated” life – as referenced by J.I. Packer in the quote above. In other words, if you “prayed the sinners prayer” yet you still live the “unrepentant sinner’s life”, then one must ask if you really believe what you said in the first place.

If you truly understand that your salvation was paid for by the precious Blood of the Savior, then you’ll not only accept His free gift (after you acknowledge your sin and repent – or “turn away” from those things that displease Him), then you’ll do everything you can to stay on that “narrow path”.

Many claim to be “former Christians” – people who have purposely turned away from the faith because of their bad experiences with pulpit pimps, cults, and false gospels. I thinks it’s fair to question if they really understood the burden they were taking on when they accepted Christ and His cross in the first place:

As my brother Independent Conservative put it:

Some claim they used to be a Christian. Fact is, they used to THINK they were Christians and later only proved they never were. Christians endure till the end, because real Christians are drawn and kept by God.

The bottom line is this – when we evangelize to the unsaved, we must be sure not to lull them into “saying the sinners prayer” as a way to protect them from eternal hellfire.

We must help them understand their state without Christ, their potential eternal punishment, and the full weight of the cross that they must carry as His disciple.

If they really understand and believe their Living Hope, then they will contend for the TRUE faith and defend it against any and all false teachers (Jude 1:2-4)

The Purpose Driven Lie

I’ve expressed my personal displeasure with the “seeker sensitive”/emergent movement in the past, primarily because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is rendered impotent – instead of being an antidote to eternal damnation, the message of remission and repentance of sin becomes a “God loves you despite…” message.

God DOES love us, but He HATES our sin, and if we don’t repent of it and accept His Son as the propitiation for our sin-debt, then we can’t even be called His children (1 John 3:7-10).

In this video, John MacArthur explains the lie of Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life”:

This book has been required reading for many churches around the country. It’s been a best selling book, so it’s done a good job of creating “marketing plans” for churches in order to attract clientsworshippers. It’s also done a great job of dumming down the Gospel message.

If you attend a church that calls itself a “purpose driven church”, read 1 Peter 2:21-25 to know your REAL purpose (my emphasis in bold):

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,


23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Next, throw the book away and find a church that is built on the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and isn’t afraid to evangelize salvation through Christ alone after repentance of sin.

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