I would have said that for a long time I could not see the harm in the whole seeker-friendly movement. I would have said that it was normal to struggle finding people to serve in the nursery or help out with a church social. I would have said that 10% or more tithing would never come from the majority of the church body....that's just the way it is.....all churches are like that. I would have said that membership versus attendance is never reconciled......all churches have hundreds of members who don't attend.....that's just the way it is.
I was wrong. I was very wrong and I am grateful to now know the difference between church=love versus church=grace. If we truly love the way Christ has commanded, we must not take the focus off of our depravity, our sin, our hopeless state. The argument is that the unsaved do not want to hear about how rotten they are (we all are) and how great God is and they don't want to be preached to, right? I beg to differ. Those who God calls will listen. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27
We don't have to butter it up. It doesn't need a flip-flop dress code or lasers. Are flip-flops bad? I hope not cause I wear them from March-October without exception...even to church. Are lasers bad? Buzz doesn't think so. Neither do I. *BUT* do I want the lost to come because they want to see our lasers, hear our funky band, wear their latest fashions, and be comfortable?
I want them to come because they want to know more about my Jesus. His sacrifice. Their sin which leaves them depraved without his grace gift. Justification...we are made right. Regeneration...we are a new creation Sanctification....we are holy. It is more than a walk down the aisle. It is more than a white robe and a Sunday morning baptism. It is God himself calling a lost and dead....D.E.A.D person up from their grave. He seeks us. He calls us. He saves us. He does this at the time....the place....and the circumstances that HE sees fit. He doesn't need us. He doesn't need our manipulative ways. He will work IN SPITE of us. Still, he chooses to use us. Therefore, if we are to be used, we must make every attempt to model the example He has given us in his word. To honor that first....everything else comes 2nd or 3rd or 4th or not at all even. But we honor His gospel and the command to preach it and the command to live it. Other things may spring forth from that.... so be it. But so often the foundation is already cracked....already formed from the fleshly desires to please man. So even if the pulpit is preaching the word, the focus of the church is still number-driven growth and not spirit-driven growth.
Our church has a building, but it is not necessary. We have coffee, and squeaky chairs, and a handicapped public school classroom that serves as our nursery, but it is not necessary. We even have the sweetest most precious itty bitty youth bible study with two 12 year old girls and a 16 year old boy with brownies and Coke Zero on Wednesday nights, but we don't even need that. (don't tell my daughter) I made that extra long run-on sentence just for you Nubby!
We have pure and blissful Sunday morning worship time with the guitar and it is beautiful....and I love it....and I pray God is glorified through it...still we don't need that either.
We have a pastor who teaches and preaches with humility and passion and reverence. He preaches the gospel unashamedly in it's entirety...The Holy Word Of God....period and we need that. Sure there's a little life application in there, some cultural references, but for the vast majority of the sermon it is the meat of God's word. We have been in Romans for over a year. Did you hear that? MERCY that's a long time to be in one book and honestly I could probably stand to hear those sermons about 13 more times before I'd be convinced that I "got it". I'm a little slow, a little hard of hearing, and easily distracted by the squeaky chairs. Some call that A.D.D. I just say that I take a little longer to absorb it, but once I got it....this sponge is dripping wet and overflowing...ALL THE TIME! (just ask my husband or The Lurker how often they would like for me to shut-up)
The church-growth movements says, "we need" all these other things and that is where I believe they are wrong. It isn't about whether we can hula at church or cowboy at church or rock out at church....it's about whether we need a bait in order to convince people that God's word is worth hearing about. Twelve years ago we attended a church as non-believers with a skeptical and cynical heart. I had one
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" 1Peter 3:15