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Devotional - Seeker-friendly Irreverence On Display In "church Sucks" Sermon Series

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. - Ephesians 5: 32 (NLT)

    People occasionally ask why I speak out so much against the theories of church growth that are corrupting the church today. What's the big deal if the church becomes seeker friendly? What is the big deal with the purpose driven agenda? What is so wrong about the friend of God theologies? While the answers are diverse and all important, I think we can always start with the lack of reverence found in modern church growth theories. Sure there is always sufficient lip service payed to Jesus but at the heart of the seeker friendly, purpose driven, friend of God theologies you will always find man. Churches try to be seeker friendly by sacrificing the Word of God for what man might prefer to see. Churches run under the purpose driven church model are all about plugging man into fill the holes in the operation of the church facility. Churches embrace the friend of God theology because it is an easier sell to man. That God is just dying to be your buddy! Nothing about sin a repentance. Nothing about picking up your cross to follow Jesus. Nothing about sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Nothing about His Lordship in our lives. No beloved; these things did not come out of the focus group studies. Instead, they now lump all of these core doctrines into the new doctrine of faux judgment; meaning anyone who dares to bring them up is being judgmental. At the end of the day however it doesn't matter what any of us say about God - it is only going to matter what the Bible said.

    Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!” - Revelation 19: 4 (NLT)

    The 24 elders and living beings fall down and worship God! The Apostle John fell down as if dead before the glorified Christ! Isaiah said woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips! When we remove the reverence for God from our faith we start down a road that no longer leads to Christ. Because at heart that is the issue. What Christ are we leading people to? The fluffy seeker friendly Jesus saves no one because there is no demand for repentance from sin. What truly matters in Scripture becomes marginalized. Slick new age pastors use Scripture to prop up their heresy instead of expositing the Word to find out what God has to say. Soon we think one compromise after another is no big deal. Our worship starts to focus on man instead of on God and our preaching ends up more concerned about entertaining man than about glorifying God. This week's case in point comes to us from Eugene Oregon and OneLove Church. At OneLove recently, Lead Pastor Tony Crank started a new sermon series called - "Church Sucks."

    Pastor Crank seems like a good enough guy. I've been through his entire website and it seems he gets some things really right. But mixed throughout it is the obvious fact that he was raised in the purpose driven, seeker friendly, friend of God theologies. Just like the guru Rick Warren, Crank refers to the unsaved as unchurched. An oddity considering his apparent low opinion of church. The entire genesis for this idea Crank says is to appeal to people who have had bad experiences in church, or as I like to call them - nearly everyone. In order to really appeal to them he has "rebooted" his service including cutting the time of service down to about an hour. After all, in seeker friendly logic, what matters is man not God. What is important is catering to the flesh nature of fallen man instead of seeking to glorify God. Crank was not done with his "rebooting" however as he also incorporated all modern worship music and even substituted secular artists Katy Perry and Maroon 5 into the proceedings. For the record that is the same Katy Perry who had the smash hit with the ever-reverent "I Kissed a Girl and I liked it." Once again this is a glimpse into the purpose driven mentality. Worship becomes about entertaining the seeker - instead of glorifying the Savior!

    But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” - John 4: 23-24 (NLT)

    God is not looking for people who can squeeze Him in for an hour on Sunday as long as they hear a couple songs that have nothing to do with Him written by people who do not even know Him. When interviewed about this campaign, Crank responded, "Some churches have become the kind of place where you point the finger, and you condemn and rebuke and you're really quick to do it, and so I think that is definitely lending itself to people not wanting anything to do with church and thinking church sucks!" First of all, no one can dispute that sometimes churches do act this way because they are filled with equally imperfect people. My advice if you find yourself in an over-condemning church that you should probably find one that has a more humble spirit in operation. The notion however that people might take offense at a genuine look at their own sin and thus we should change the nature of what the church is supposed to be is absolutely ludicrous. While I will assume Pastor Crank had the best of intentions - Katy Perry does not have the answers these people need and neither does Tony Crank. Only God does through the unfiltered Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. - Romans 1: 16 (NIV)

    Do we understand this verse anymore as preachers? Salvation is what this is supposed to be all about. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. There is no cleverness of man - neither Anthony Wade nor Tony Crank - that will contain the power to save anyone. Only the Gospel has that power. The other disturbing part of the quote from Pastor Crank however is the notion that people do not want to have anything to do with church because of all the do's and don'ts. You know - those weighty things we like to call doctrine. I saw an interview with Joel Osteen where he said that telling people what the Bible says they should and should not do is not one of his "giftings." If explaining correct doctrine is not one of your giftings then you are not a pastor nor a preacher. A point which Pastor Crank apparently must agree with since in the same interview he said that he does not view himself as a preacher, "I just like to have a conversation with everyone, just like I do at the coffee shop if we were talking one on one." How tremendously hip. Of course you are not having a conversation with them - you are expositing the Word of God! Once again, without proper reverence this is where we end up. As a motivational speaker Joel Osteen blows Tony Robbins away. That is not the problem. The problem is that he chooses to give his motivational speeches while holding a Bible and pretending he is a pastor. When you open a church you need to realize that you are no longer at a coffee shop. The people coming to you do not need another friend - they need a Savior! The real reason why so many people are turned off from churches today is that they no longer see the difference between the church and the world. They see the rank hypocrisy from those that step up to the microphone to condemn the sins of the world only to fall prey to the same sins. They see the prosperity hucksters bilking poor people out of their last nickel chasing the blessings of God. They see that they can get out of church in less than an hour and hear some of the great secular artists they hear in the dance clubs like Katy Perry. When the church ceases to be a shining city on a hill then it starts to look like everything else they face in their daily lives. Why should they get up on a Sunday for that? Church is supposed to be different. It is supposed to provide an opportunity to meet with God and heaven forbid - consider their fallen state before Him! When are we going to realize this? Coming to Christ for friendship will save no one!

    In the same interview, Kyle Cunningham, One Love Church's worship pastor said, "There is a perception that to come into church you've got to be perfect. Sometimes what that allows people to do is to kind of judge people that we might perceive to not be that kind of stereotypical perfect person. It turns a lot of people off to what the ultimate message of Christ is." I agree that many people do not come to church because they feel so imperfect but it is not because of the people in church! I know because I remember feeling the same way before I went back to church. The reason why though is because of the weight of our own sin! Deep down it is not about feeling imperfect next to the other people but rather next to God! And guess what? That is how we are supposed to feel! It is called conviction! It is what leads to godly repentance and that is what leads to salvation! The ultimate message of Christ? What exactly do they think that is?

    From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” - John 4: 17 (NIV)

    This is at the point in the Gospels when Jesus sets out to preach. Is Jesus love? Absolutely but do we so quickly forget that John 3:16 is the ultimate show of divine love? That God had to send Jesus to die for our sins? That is the Gospel message. That we all need to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand. You are not going to get that point over a latte at the local coffee shop listening to the latest Maroon 5 song. The ultimate message of Christ is not that He loves us. It is that He loved us so much that He was willing to die in our place for our sins! What the seeker friendly, purpose driven, friend of God theologies get so wrong is that they are designed to get the unbeliever to love the message and not the messenger. So the message is repackaged, redesigned and rebooted to offend as little as possible and thus unfortunately save as little as possible. That is because the truth is that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ does not need to be rebooted. It just needs to be preached. It does not need a conversationalist. It needs a preacher. It does not need a coffee shop. It needs a church.
    Pastor Crank revealed much in his closing quote from the "Church Sucks" interview by saying, "Now is the time for the church to not focus so much on the sins of people but rather welcome them back into a church home where they can grow in their faith." This is a recurring mantra within the modern theories of church growth movements. That there is somehow an over-focus on sin! The Pope just said that it is not the business of the church to interfere in the spiritual lives of unbelievers! This is the end result of these lines of thinking! The truth of course is there is not nearly enough emphasis placed upon sin anymore in the modern church. If there was an over emphasis on sin then we would see more people saved. We wouldn't see so many people leaving the church and backsliding.

    The website for OneLove Church reveals the roots of seeker friendly-purpose driven thought. Under the "About Us" section it says that they feel it is their responsibility to make sure that your time at OneLove is enjoyable and to that end you will find great people, incredible music and an inspiring talk about a God who is crazy about you! The people are here for you! The music is here for you! Even God is only here for you! We will get you out and back to your life in under an hour! Don't worry about the shortened worship! God is cool with that and apparently must be a big Katy Perry fan as well! It is all for you seeker because at the end of the day we don't want you to think that church sucks. The sad, pathetic end of the seeker-friendly road.

    I say these things out of profound sadness because apparently the lack of reverence causes us to forget Scripture. I pray that Pastor Crank comes across the key verse for today and really does some reflection. I would be very careful with saying the church sucks. The church and Christ are one beloved. We are actually the bride of Christ, betrothed to Him.

    For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. - Ephesians 5: 25-30 (NLT)

    Jesus Christ gave up His life for the church. Is it flawed? Yes because man is flawed. But at the end of the day it is the vehicle chosen by God to bring forth His glorious Good News about salvation. I have had my share of what Pastor Crank calls, "sucky experiences" in church. I have seen men playing church for their own ends instead of for the cause of Christ. I have seen things go on in a church that would make the world blush. But none of that changes who the church is supposed to be. Don't go chasing your bad experiences down the paths of irreverence because this is where you end up. The church doesn't suck. Christ and the church are one.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - October 9, 2013

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