29 September 2010

Stop Attacking Other Churches...Please!

While I usually try to interject humor into my posts, I am not sure if I can today.

My Background:

I grew up in an "Independent, Fundamental, Bible-Believing Baptist Church."  Said so on the letterhead and weekly bulletin.  I was there in its infancy when it ran under 100.  At it's peak, we were averaging over 1,200, with a high outreach Sunday of over 2,500.  (If you believe in numbers).  We believed we were THE ANOINTED ONES who were right about everything!

It was the Conservative Revolution.  It was the 80's.  Reagan.  The Cosby Show.  Words that are commonplace on broadcast TV today were banned then. 

Fortunately for me, I had parents who didn't mind if I listened to Contemporary Christian Music in the late 80's (which basically meant it had drums), didn't care if I didn't wear a tie on Sunday nights (ties and coat were still required on Sunday AM), and didn't mind me questioning certain things that went on inside our church (like wearing ties and coats on Sunday AM).  In other words, I was the Liberal thinker in our Christian Academy.  I even owned a Pink shirt.

So, while living through this, I became disenchanted with the US vs THE WORLD  mentality.

As time passed, many of those churches, including mine, backed off many of the tenets that were proclaimed as SIN from the pulpit.  How can things be SIN in 1985, but are ok, even commplace today?  I digress.

I was hoping this beating down other evangelical churches was a thing of the past.  The church I now attend is young (not yet a year old), and the Pastor is not the type to worry about what others are doing.  Just focus on GOD and what HE wants US to do.

Driving home from work, I heard a short, 2 minute update/devotional/rant from some religious organization.  He was bashing churches that want to be "relevent" and talk "openly and crassly about sex from the pulpit" in the hopes of "seeming hip and attracting people to church who normally wouldn't go."  He then went on to pinpoint two pastors (of course, without saying their names) and talked about how they have "Watered down the gospel for the sake of relevence."

I listen to many sermons on ITunes and am pretty up to date on these new "relevent" pastors.  He spoke specifically about Steven Furtick from Elevation Church.  This is when I became angry.

Pastor Furtick is young.  He does use modern media and movie quotes that I probably wouldn't.  And that's ok.  He has done at least two sermons on Sex and uses language that I probably wouldn't.  And that's ok.  He also doesn't use KJV, wears jeans, and allows his wife on stage to help with messages which don't bother me, but would many more conservative evangelicals.

But I have also heard his message on the Gospel. 


How DARE ANYONE say that he, or other "relevent" pastors (Noble, Driscoll, Groeschel come to mind) WATER DOWN THE GOSPEL!  Anyone who hears these men address salvation, our depravity, our sinfulness, our need for confession would tell you IT IS ABSURD to imply that they are soft on hard issues in order to build a crowd. 

It is so depressing to hear churches bash each other.  I can imagine that God's heart hurts when He sees His children taking sniper shots at each other.

Pastors, mine included, need to FOCUS ON THEIR OWN FLOCK!

If you don't agree with how other churches operate, why comment?  PREACH WHAT YOU FEEL IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AND GIVEN TO YOU BY GOD FOR THE USE OF EDIFYING YOUR CONGREGATION!!!

And if lives are being led into a relationship with Father, leave others alone.  We do not have to agree on everything...as long as we agree on the main thing.

And if these men and their ministries are drawing the unchurched, rough-around-the-edges, people who normally wouldn't go, then more Holy Ghost Power to them.

Ephesians 4

There is no way I could cover all that is to be said on this subject....just a lunch-time post.

***I would also like to add...while this post was spurred on by the anti-relevent, conservative radio spot, IT IS A TWO WAY STREET!  It should be mentioned that it is JUST as wrong for someone outside the more conservative churches to throw stones at them.  GOD is changing hearts and saving souls through many ministries.   I was NOT bashing my Indy-Fundy upbringing.  Just giving some bas for where I was coming from.

There...I feel better.

Be good!


  1. Great, great post!!! What follow is not so much a direct response to Lazarus, but my own mini-blog on the issue. To begin with let me say that I agree and disagree and agree.

    I agree that bashing other people's churches/pastors is not healthy and should be avoided. I disagree in the sense that I'm not a fan of some of the guys you mentioned. However, I realize that it doesn't matter whether I like them or not b/c they don't have to answer to me but only to God. In addition, spreading my opinion about them will not edify my church. Finally, I agree that they are passionate about the gospel and are reaching people that other more conservative churches are not reaching.

    To properly address the issues of both the conservatives and the relevant-styled churches, I think one has to examine their motives.

  2. First, why do the conservatives attack. Is it because they are just hateful? Maybe. However, I think it is because they feel like they are under attack. While this may not be true, it is at least their perception, and unfortunately, perception is reality. They may feel like they have to speak out against the "encroaching evil" or else it will overtake their city and eventually their church. They also perceive these relevant churches are chipping away at the bedrock of pure, biblical doctrine. While this may not be true, it is not wrong of them to stand up against what they perceive to be heresy. Our Christian heritage is littered with godly individuals who spoke out against doctrinal heresy and sin in the church. Of course, it all comes down to how you interpret heresy and what you consider to be sin, and those issue would have to be dealt with separately. I'm not upset with conservatives for being against things, because a true believer needs to be against some things; however, I am upset by conservatives who don't get all the facts and are just hateful, which tends to be the case more often than not. So what's the solution? Maybe it's a re-education that the conservatives need or maybe they need to re-examine their heart motives for "church-bashing" and repent if necessary.

    In regards to the relevant churches' motives, I have begun to wonder whether it is the obligation of the church to make itself attractive to the lost world. Based on my interpretation of Scripture, only the elect will be saved and the gospel will intentionally offend the non-elect. Therefore, does the church need to bend over backwards to get the non-elect to like us and think we are hip? The elect will be reached inevitably; therefore, all a church is obligated to do is preach the truth and seek the lost. However, what if a Christian is already naturally hip and relevant? Do they need to bend over backwards to be more conservative? No, I don't think so. The key seems to be yourself and be only what God wants you to be. Don't pander to the crowd or pull out all the bells and whistles to try to "win" people to Jesus. What happens when a church tries to be other than what it naturally is? I'll tell you what happens; they spend more time focused on their appearance and less time on reaching people. They spend more time on the non-essentials all the while claiming that the non-essentials are essential to accomplishing the essentials. While that might sound good to the subscribers of church growth magazines and the vendors who advertise there, it is contradictory to what the early church did. You see, they were simply believers on fire for Jesus. They didn't put on Greek plays or mock gladiator fights. They didn't try to reference Nero's latest song lyrics to get the lost Romans to like them. No, they were simple what they were and people still amazing got saved by the sovereign grace of God. Some would take Paul's one reference to one Greek poem at Mars Hills and like to build their whole model of ministry after that. However, I think that it would be a whole lot better to find out what Paul did the other 364 days a year and do that. In addition, if Paul was relevant to those people it was because that is exactly who he was. He didn't have to try to put on a show to attract them, he didn't have to shock ad titillate them, he just spoke naturally.

  3. In closing let me say a word about vulgarity from the pulpit and profane movie references...WWJD? When you pit Christlikeness against cultural relevancy, Christlikeness wins every time. In addition, I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say that a Christlike church will always be a more effective tool in the hand of God than a culturally relevant church that is sullied with the world filth.

    Okay, so I'm not ready to close, but I need to say a word about the emergent church doctrine. While, relevant church styles will vary and there is no definite right or wrong about it, the one issue that I will boldly stand up against is this heresy called the "emergent church doctrine". Based on everything that I've read on the topic, the emergent church is more than a style it is also a new approach to doctrine that proposes that truth is no longer final or objective, but rather, the church is on a journey to discover truth, which may change with time. Bull-freaking-honkey!!! If truth can change, then it is never actually true. However,
    I will agree that man's interpretation of truth can be skewed at time. For instance, our understanding of gravity has changed with time. However, God's Word wasn't just one man's idea about truth. It is truth. So if we are saying that spiritual truth is emerging and not final, then we are saying that God's Word is emerging and not the final authoritative word on truth. Yes, I understand that it has more to do with man's interpretation of Scripture, but did our almighty, sovereign God really leave us with his special revelation without ensuring that it would be understood? Did he just leave that up to our own mental powers? If so, who's to say that anyone has figured it out and who's to say that we can ever arrive at truth. Well, if that's the road that the emergent church wants to go down, then they can join the agnostics, fatalists, and just sit back and wait to die.

    I talked to the pastor of a highly relevant church lately here in Central Florida. He told me that he was not saved FROM anything, but that he was saved TO Jesus and Heaven and Love... That sounded very nice, but it was totally unbiblical and cheapens Christ's sacrifice on the cross. I have no problem with his style, but I have a huge issue with his improper view of salvation. However, should I bash him? Should I gossip about him and his church? No. I should pray for him, and if possible try to point him to a proper understanding of the cross, sin, and hell. He's not my kids or church member, but if I see a brother erring and truly care, then I should try to do the right thing. However, I could always ignore him and his weak preaching and allow God to sort things out. Come to think of it, that is probably the more convenient option, so I'll probably go with that so I can get back to focusing on my own spiritual flaws and the work that God has called me [not him] to do.

  4. Wrapping up, poor doctrine is my biggest issue with SOME new, hip, relevant churches. Their philosophy on style has poured right over into their doctrine. If style has no right or wrong and is just relevant, then why couldn't one's interpretation of Scripture be the same way. Don't get me wrong, I like contemporary praise and worship, I like wearing jeans to church, I like breaking the mold at times, but I don't like heresy and that's exactly what some modern churches are swallowing while Satan sits back and laughs. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water, but sometimes the water is clean and the baby is really a snake, so in that case throw out the snake and make sure the water is still clean enough to bathe the baby in. [that analogy has Michael Scott written all over it]

    So the bottom line for the relevant style church comes down to motives--why are you different? Is is genuine or a show? and it comes down to theology. Are you trying to reach the lost so much that you are willing to compromise holiness and pure doctrine to do so? or do you trust God to lead home his elect through simple obedience to the Word?

    So what advice do I have to the relevant-styled churches [not that it matters or not that they are listening]. I recommend that they be true to themselves and focus on reaching people with the pure and simple [while highly offensive] Word of God.

  5. Btw, do I get points for the culturally relevant Michael Scott reference. I almost cursed a few times to get people to read my reply more readily, but opted against it.

    Btw2, what alternative do you suggest for those who either perceive themselves to be under attack or for those rare cases when they are truly under attack from wicked liberalism? Can bashing with a purpose ever be justified?

    Btw3, what humor exists without bashing? I'd be sad if churches totally abstained from bashing b/c then I might have to actually be sober and vigilant and put my nose to the plow.

    Btw4, my reply was way too long, so I had to split it up.

    Okay, don't hate me for my reply. Just correct me in love : )

  6. Nothing to correct. I think you would agree that you and I are cut from the same cloth. Mostly. There are issues that you and I will see directly eye-to-eye on, and some we see exactly opposite, and some we just see from different angles. I hope you don't think my views heresy, and I personally don't think your discussion is in anyway a condemnation of me personally.

    I totally get that pastors can despise, loathe, and even disagree with others methods. I DO AS WELL! As far as the men I specifically referenced in my post, I pick and choose what sermons I listen to from them, because I know heading into it that there are some issues I do not agree with them on...And their methods are lunacy to me at times. I am not one who believes blairing modern rock music is a good idea, much less God-honoring. BUT you will not hear me speaking out against it because I personally believe their ultimate goal is NOT shock value, but IS reaching the lost.

    Like I said...sucha multi-faceted issue. Probably better suited for a book rather than a measly blog post.

    Just keep the main thing the main thing. I just don't understand the logic of degrading other ministries. you can write back and tell me I am wrong, but I don't think I will get it.

    And you said "elect." You closet Calvinist!

    Profane language is bad.
    Michael Scott reference- you Noble wannabe.

    I have listeed to alot of relevent preachers and have never heard them attack conservatives.

    Party on, Wayne.

    This comment is more disjointed than a snake in a maze. Huh?

  7. Ok, I'll keep this short.

    I AM proud to be a mega-Calvinist.

    I HAVE heard relevant preachers bash conservatives (maybe not from their pulpit, but tons of them that I know are viciously opposed to conservatism and speak harshly against their conservative upbringing that has so scared them and their designer jeans).

    I DEFINITELY enjoyed this post. Controversial issues are like fodder to my disgruntled soul fire.

    Party on, Wayne.