May 25, 2008

Pop Goes the World, Not the Church!

Recently my friend Dean Lusk mentioned on his blog a book that he is reading entitled book "Pop Goes the Church" by Tim Stevens. Although I have not personally read this book, I did by chance find a video on Youtube whereby a local news station interviews Tim about his book and his church (Tim is a pastor of a Church in Indianapolis). After watching this video it becomes clear what Tim's intent is regarding what changes need to be made to the church in order to spread the gospel further within our communities. His answer: - modernize the church to reflect the culture of the day so that it will be more appealing to the masses. This includes infusing TV, Movies and Music of our culture into sermons and worship services.

But it seems to me that Tim is sorely misguided in his attempts to increase or make the gospel more "popular". Jesus says specifically that as Christians the WORLD will hate us - in other words the Truth of the Gospel is NEVER popular (something that totally contradicts "POPular Culture")! As a matter of fact it rails against what the world decides is important - ourselves! Pop Culture is not what the church needs, what the world needs is the church! Want to increase our churches, stop preaching the soft serve sermons of self-improvement, but rather the gospel of repentance of sin, the gospel of the Cross of Christ!

When the modern day church feels it needs to resort to such worldly tactics what it really is saying is it reveal our lack of faith in the gospel. In addition, when we say "Sinners won't come if we don't have something in the church that appeals to them." then we slander the cross! Christ said "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32) The lifting up Christ spoke of was His crucifixion! Paul realized this in 1 Cor. 1:17-18,

"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

Our faith is not in the wisdom, personality, or entertaining ability of men, but rather in the power of God. The bemoaning cry of those who justify worldly methods to win the lost makes it sound as if Christianity is desperate and that truth and the power of the Holy Spirit are insufficient to convert sinners. The gospel is an appeal to the conscience, not fleshly appetites. (2 Cor. 4:2). Sadly, the Church has had to resort to such activities because it has STOPPED preaching the Cross! Instead, its a happy feel good message of gooey selfishness! If we preach to man's conscience and not his flesh this will bring revival. (Revival is NOT about quantity, but rather the sincerity of men's heart and love for God).

Personally, I left the church several years ago for this very reason. When it was more important for the worship minister to breakout the disco ball and confetti canons for Easter Service, rather than preaching a message that will convict men's hearts and minds, it was time for me to go. We need to stop this insanity of thinking we need to improve our marketing tactics and get back to basics - Jesus hanging on a cross, suffering and dying for my personal sins. Reconciling me back to God through changing my heart and ultimate motivation for living.


Anonymous said...

Preston - Don't judge the book by a 3-minute interview. I'm guessing we agree on alot more than you think. Give it a chance. (Tim Stevens)

Preston N said...

Tim - Can you please be specific at what I said in my post that is either out of context or is not true? In your interview you said churches have become irrelevant and are no longer reaching people. But this is because the church has forsaken the gospel and are no longer preaching a message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The church is no longer relevant because the truth is not being preached - instead the modern day church provides "Seeker-sensitive" or as I call it "Sinner-appealing" messages. Most pastors these days are more concerned in not offending the sinner than offending God.

Indeed you might feel I am being "old fashioned" here, but I've seen your methods and they come up short. As I read through the history of the church and read of men like Edwards, Whitfield, Finney, Tozer, Ravenhill - I see none of your methods of "worldly" tactic EVER needing to be used. Instead they preached the heart of repentance and conviction of sin, and redemption through the cross - not how the Simpson's or Grey's Anatomy is "relevant" to our faith.

What's relevant Tim is men are sinful rebels and they need to have their hearts and minds illuminated to the truth of the gospel - not entertained with flashing lights, smoke machines or a pastor who looks really cool or hip. What they need is the truth - for that and ONLY that is what will set the sinner FREE.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book but I am in agreement that we need to preach the Word of God in our churches without apology (and definitely not water it down). The problem is that we use mans ways vs. God's in an attempt to appeal to a lost world. The fact is as sinners we will not be drawn to the truth of the is the power of God that draws one to the cross. Ephesians 1 is quite clear as is Romans 1, Eph. 2 and 1 Cor. 15. God is God and we are not. We need to stop thinking that we need gimmicks to appeal to people. Yet, that said, there is nothing wrong with being culturally relative provided it holds true to the Word. Sadly, the confetti and so forth, take center-stage and the clarity of the message is lost. Why is it that people feel a need to "add" to the Word or that they think what the world needs is another "feel good" experience? We have enough consumerism and "feel good" experiential stuff in our entertainment culture...what we need is absolute truth and the power of God. The church needs revival and to wake begins with individuals. I'm sorry Mr. Stevens but I'm not able to give another book like this a chance...I'm about one book!

Dean Lusk said...

Here's the short version (I debated posting the super-extended version at my site because it was THAT long...):

Just wanted to note that I definitely stand behind my post, which can be summarized by this question (and not particularly related to what you speak about here): if your church fellowship closed its doors (not your church fellowship, Preston -- that's different), how would it impact your community?

D. L. Talley said...

"The fact is as sinners we will not be drawn to the truth of the is the power of God that draws one to the cross. Ephesians 1 is quite clear as is Romans 1, Eph. 2 and 1 Cor. 15. God is God and we are not."--Shelly

Oh, God bless you, dear child of God, for truly “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven."

So sad Preston cannot submit to this truth.