I like to look at church bilboards on highways (thanks Pope Ed Young I for your signs), signs by the church building (old school letters and fancy electric ones alike), church websites, and church mailers. I recently ran across a mailer that mentioned a couple of things that I have seen advertised by several churches and it spurred on this rant. Ready….here goes:
1) “Spectacular Sundays,” “Exciting Worship,” “The Most Exciting Time of Your Week” type advertisements are my first category. I in no way disagree that hearing the gospel of Christ preached is spectacular, or exciting. However, I have been to some of these churches and that is not what they are talking about. The time on Sunday morning has become a pep-rally for……well I’m not sure what it is for. Some are self-esteem rallies others are not too different than what I used to see at pep-rallies at the high schools I have worked in. At a modern day pep-rally the band plays some fast pace songs to get the emotions all fired up, then a skit or dance, another song, and finally there is some speech that normally makes little to no since (it does however include some form of the phrase “we’re gonna kick their butt”). I am frightened at the similarities. Is this what scriptures commands? Have most of us ever sat down and studied what the Bible says about worship? It is sad to say no we haven’t. And I say we, because until the last few years I hadn’t done it either. I challenge you to be able to defend why your church’s worship service is structured the way it is. It is an excellent exercise.
2) “Relevant Messages” are quickly becoming one of my biggest pet peaves at churches. It isn’t because I think that the Bible isn’t relevant, just the opposite! What I think is irrelevant is a topical sermon series that really only speaks to a very limited number of people.
Let me explain what I mean. A sermon about finances really only applies to those people who have money i.e. mid 20s-up and more specifically the 30 yr old business people. What about raising children? Oh yeah only those ages 22-45 most likely care about that, sounds real relevant to me. What it really sounds like is that churches and pastors are courting a specific type of people. Sermons on money, marriage, children will yield young marrieds and successful (monetarily) people. This isn’t relevant. On the flip side take a portion of scripture, lets say John 1:1-5, and preach expositionally through that piece of scripture and you have a relevant sermon to all ages, races, and sexes about the nature of Christ. Then the next week the next verses in John 1 are taught through, and so on until the entire Bible is taught. All topics will eventually be taught, but each week it will be relevant because it is teaching and proclaiming Jesus. Ask yourself this question: Last Sunday did my pastor preach a sermon that was faithful to the text and was the gospel proclaimed? If the answer was no, now is a good time to pray harder for your pastor (I assume you already pray for him).
3) After I started this little rant I got another wonderful mailer. And I quote from it “No guilt.” Hmmmm…..I don’t know even where to begin with this. I’ll probably leave it with this quote from the Gospel of John. This verse follows an exchange between Jesus and Pharasees after Jesus heals the man who was blind from birth.
(Joh 9:41 ESV) Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. Obviously the guilt of sin was important to Christ.
All this rant to say that I have been more aware than normal of the state of the evangelical church in my area. May we pray for true revival of the Gospel!–Dirk