HERE WE GO AGAIN
By Paul Proctor
August 25, 2010
More of the same old ‘new’ thing
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” – 2nd Thessalonians 2:15
As many of you know, it has been some time since my last article – over six weeks – which is unprecedented in my ten years as a columnist. Among other things, I have been preoccupied with something of a controversy here at home involving my local church – a wonderful fellowship that my wife and I joined earlier this year in large part because it was the last or among the very few remaining traditional Southern Baptist churches in our area. Knowing firsthand what’s out there, it was a refreshing find.
Sure, there are others we attended here in middle Tennessee over the years where the teaching and preaching were traditional – at least between the sensual music, silliness and storytelling; but it was easy to see the focus was turning from the Word of God to the more culturally friendly and flexible philosophy of pragmatism and consensus (i.e., Results & Relationships) which is a big red flag for me signaling “transition” to the contemporary mindset and the beginning of the end of old-fashioned didactic teaching and expository preaching.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” – 1st Corinthians 1:18
Oh, many of the churches we visited still wore apparel that by and large demonstrated, at least outwardly, a reverence and respect for the Ancient of Days; but even in those congregations, a casualness had clearly settled in, led by a “worship” band that played all things to all men that they might sway some. Needless to say, watching grown men and women in formal attire boogie to the beat in their pews didn’t really enhance the worship experience.
This classic controversy with our church though began like so many others from the worship wars of recent years, with a suggestion that we add a “non-traditional” service to the schedule (that’s code for contemporary) “in order to attract and retain young adults,” which is of course, not biblical – a point I repeatedly made in numerous emails to those in leadership that, quite frankly, took its toll on my emotions, energy and writing time. It’s unbiblical because Jesus taught: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44)
You see, when the lost and “unchurched” (I hate that word) are drawn to a place of worship with appealing music and a casual atmosphere rather than to Jesus Christ by the Word of God in repentance and faith, most will leave when the goodies are gone or the newness wears off because they’ve come to the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong person for the wrong reasons. They’re coming to mere men for momentary gratification instead of to Jesus Christ for eternal salvation.
I cannot overstate this point.
The Church is not just for the redeemed, it is the redeemed – not a recruiting center or halfway house for the undecided and unrepentant, where compromised Christians huddle together to try and figure out how to lure outsiders in by appealing to their flesh instead of courageously taking the Gospel out into the cold cruel world and risk rejection and hardship as we were commissioned by our Lord to do.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:15-16
But, knowing that there are so many Bible-believing Christians out there now without a traditional church – and based upon the emails I have received over the years, the numbers are significant – I have to wonder why it hasn’t occurred to the marketing geniuses of the church growth movement that they could fill the pews with a lot of folks today (assuming that’s the real agenda) if they would just offer them the traditional church they are looking for by advertizing it as such in the local media.
Heck, if we don’t care anymore about growing a church biblically, why not buy a few radio and TV spots with the pastor in a suit and tie inviting everyone to the last of the traditional Southern Baptist churches in Nashville? How’s that for being innovative? I’ll bet they wouldn’t be able to contain the crowds! After all, why offer the same contemporary claptrap every other church in town is offering?
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I mean, come on – what kind of marketing mentality opens another Italian restaurant in a town loaded with Italian restaurants? And yet, that is precisely what has happened among Southern Baptists and their churches over the last decade or more. We’re all offering our own version of the same old “new” thing and wondering why the numbers keep declining every year.
Isn’t it time somebody around here opened up a good meat & three?
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – Jeremiah 6:16
© 2010 Paul Proctor – All Rights Reserved