“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Musings

This Monday I thought I would just ramble a bit... Been a long day/week already!

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I have received emails and read a lot of postings from apologists for the 'seeker-sensitive/emergent' churches regarding the fact that they are thinking 'outside the box' and creating an environment that will make the 'seeker' comfortable; whereas the old stodgy church (such as ours) has failed to keep people 'interested'. However, my own personal experience has been quite opposite to their claims.

I confess that I do not have 20,000+ congregants, but I do have people who love the Lord and are desirous of a closer relationship with Him. These people are coming to an understanding of the Holiness, and Awesomeness of God. They are engaging their minds, and thinking deeply about their faith; they are coming alive before my eyes! These are the very people that many in the seeker-sensitive movement are trying to reach; people who were not raised in churches, who got handed a rubber biscuit by the world and a few who are true hard-luck cases. These people come week after week and listen to sermons preached OUT OF THE BIBLE; they even bring their own Bibles!

Several of the folks who have been attending our church for several years are now teaching other people the great truths of the Bible, reaching their own families in some cases. You might be able to tell that I am proud of this group for sticking it out with me as I stumbled along. As a Body we grabbed onto the truth of God's Word and hung on. That is what carried us through.

I say all of this to refute claims that I hear over and over (almost like a mantra) from the churches who have abandoned the God of the Bible and preach another Christ. Those who feel that communion SHOULD be Starbuck's and donuts, or that it is perfectly acceptable to be crude and vulgar behind the pulpit instead of preaching the Word of God.

Here are some their claims: "People want to have their needs met, and feel better about themselves"... or, "People don't want all of that 'religious' language (like atonement, propitiation, justification), they just want someone they can relate to, therefore we dress like Elvis and relate to them."

And my response? HOGWASH! True enough, those seeking self-esteem are not looking for any of these things, however, people being called and drawn by God ARE hungry for the Word of God to be preached. They search the Scriptures during the week to see if what the pastor said is correct, they hold one another accountable, they want to continue to grow in holiness. These are people who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are now running the race that has been set out for them.

It's not easy to be in ministry, there are times that our leadership would like to run away and hide (me included), because, quite frankly, preaching at a small, outreach church and not resorting to the bag of tricks that are currently being offered by 'successful' preachers is HARD! Lack of resources and hours in the day (I am bi-vocational) are constant challenges. But, I will tell you that it is worth every bit of hardship to see someone's eyes light up as they grasp the Grace of the Lord in all of its beauty and glory!

The ACTUAL issue that I have heard over and over from people is quite the opposite of the claims from the CGM folks. What I hear more than anything else is, "We had a hard time finding a church that preaches the Bible." The people I encounter are not burned out by 'boring' churches, rather, they are frustrated by the lack of real teaching and preaching in places they have been attending.

Don't get me wrong; the emergent and CGM groups have asked some valid questions, but it is their answers that are suspect... Because they do not seek Biblical solutions for God's people they end up 'in the weeds' as my elder is fond of saying.

It seems to me that there are two possibilities regarding the people involved:

(1) The first person may be a pastor in a 'seeker-sensitive/emergent' church whose motives were honorable at the beginning, but as time has gone on, they have had to resort to more and more outlandish 'tricks' to keep hineys in the pews. This is due to the fact that they are NOT seeing real conversions, rather their churches are filled with people who have found a place where they feel comfortable, and not convicted. Many churches are closer to 'Cheers', where everyone knows your name and there's old Norm in the corner!

I believe that these pastors may actually be hostages of their own success. They have created a 'monster' that needs to be fed (not in the Biblical way), i.e. HVAC, Staff Personnel, Rent/Lease, Bills, etc.

Ever see "Little Shop of Horrors'? In the movie, the innocent, well-meaning, Seymour takes in a dying plant. This plant feeds on Seymour's blood, but soon has grown to the point where it no longer is sated with a few drops from his finger, but instead Seymour is eventually forced to resort to homicide to sate the beast that the plant has become. Now, I am not trying to draw any great theological thread out of Little Shop Of Horrors, I am simply trying to say that some pastors may have started out a little like Seymour; attempting something good for God's Kingdom, with very little knowledge of what they were handling, and as the beast grew it demanded more and more. They are now either too afraid to draw the line, or they have been consumed by the monster and lack the ability/authority to stop it.

(2) The second type of pastor (I hesitate to use that word with these wolves) is one that I have no respect for. This is the one who set out to make money using a pseudo-Christian guise with just enough of a veneer to make the organization 'appear' to be legitimate. There are many pastors out there that fit this bill, including several who 'inherited' the mantle of leadership from their fathers. I have never figured out the ecclesiology of these dynastic churches.

These people KNOW what they are doing, and are in no way innocent, or caught in a trap. These are men that Peter spoke of: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

I believe that there are pastors in the emergent/CGM movements that KNOW they are in the wrong place. I would ask that we, as people of God, pray for these people and for their congregations. Pray for their strength to stand against the world and its sensuality, and return to the true Gospel of Christ!

We are called to confront bad teaching/false doctrines/heresy and blasphemy, and I believe that is done quite well in many places on the blogsphere, by people much more eloquent than I, but let us never forget to pray for these men and women. Pray that they would be truly regenerated, or renewed. What a statement it would make if one of the well-known pastors in these worldly movements returned to Biblical preaching and teaching and refuted the nonsense going on!

3 comments:

Ephraim said...

Ray,

More good stuff as usual. Just stopped by to let you know I'm reading, but for some reason they are expecting me to work here at work, so I don't have as much time to comment.

There is a good discussion going on over at the Dogpreacher's blog about when the resurrection of Messiah actually took place. Some interesting comment there.

Shalom

Ray said...

Yeah, I understand... I have the same problem with work :-)

Good to hear from you... I will check out Dogpreacher...

Paul said...

A wise-man once said:

"He's not the kind you have to wind-up on Sundays"

Certainly not as prolific as your post but it gets me through the day.