Wednesday, May 17, 2006

cool. hip. relevant. cutting edge...and totally missing the point.

This article annoyed me greatly.

I'm okay with the whole 'church embracing technology' thing. Personally, not being a tech guy myself, I couldn't care less. But I'm sure its a good thing for people who do have ipods and BlackBerrys and who are into all of that.

No, what grates on my nerves is the crazy billboards and the cool sermon titles; the "zany" videos and the hip jargon. I am not saying that any of that is wrong or bad. I'm saying it annoys me.

I know that one of the churches mentioned grew from 1,000 members to 6,000 in one six-week span because of a sermon series about sex. And good for them. I'm sure their ministry staff and elders were as happy as they could possibly be about that. They are probably working on the blue-prints for their new state of the art worship facility as I type.

But I can't help but wonder, is that growth anything more than a bunch of people who, because they live in Indiana and are going to go to church anyway, decided to hop on over to that cool and hip church down the street. I mean, why not. They don't make you feel uncomfortable or stretch you at all. They'll let you just sit in back row and be entertained.

And in 5 or 10 years is the next hot church going to grow by 5,000 when these people realize that there is a new show in town?

Please know that I am being overly cynical, and purposely unfair. I have a point.

"Don't sound preachy. Avoid "churchy jargon" — words like ministry, salvation, redemption, even faith. Draw nonbelievers to Jesus (or attract "unchurched" Christians to your specific congregation) by presenting the church as an upbeat, uplifting community of friends."

According to this article, that is the "top tip" from the Internet Evangelism Coalition.

Really? Avoid those words? Why?

It sounds to me like that is a great tip for "winning" people to a church, or winning them to the subculture of Christianity. But I don't buy for a moment that avoiding those words will help in winning someone to Christ. Not for a second.

Mostly because Christ came to establish His ministry here on earth, and charged us His Holy Spirit...continue it after He ascended. He died and resurrected for the redemption of our sins and the salvation of the world. And faith? Do you really think there is a person alive who doesn't know what it means to put their faith in someone? Or to take a step out on faith in something?

These words do mean something...something beautiful, something wonderful. Don't avoid them in an attempt to patronize, or cater, or pretend you are something you are not. No. Instead, I say define those words...breathe life into those words. Don't avoid them.

"We dare not change the Gospel. But the method of delivery? We better change it for each new generation."

That is another quote from the article and frankly, it is something that I have heard hundreds of times. And It sounds good, I suppose. But, personally, I think it is a horrible reason to avoid using "churchy" words, or to start using giant video screens and flash technology.

Because here's the truth: those things are not really methods of delivery for the gospel. We are.

Passion, life, relationships, love...those are the only methods of truly delivering the gospel from one person to another. And we can spend all our time worrying about the side-show; concerning ourselves with the tools of ministry (which, granted, can be very good and effective tools)...and miss the only thing that really matters.

All the extra stuff will someday fade away...but the real and only method of delivering the gospel will remain the same...for every generation.

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