What Ever Happened To That Gospel of Grace?
Just stumbled on a very interesting post:
Not long ago I came across a newspaper story about a church that is trying to attract worshipers by imitating radio news programs that promise: “Give us twenty-two minutes, and we’ll give you the world.” Their 9:00 a.m. Sunday service is called “Express Worship,” and the hook is that church-goers can come in and be out in twenty-two minutes. In one service described by the newspaper, the pastor began with a greeting and a short prayer, followed by a reading from Luke 7:1-10. He then asked the worshipers to write down their thoughts on what constitutes authority in their lives. Finally, they sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and went out. The pastor described it as “a restructuring of the way we think of the service”. Not one person delivering the truth to you, but a shared experience.
The newspaper said, “Give him twenty-two minutes, and he’ll give you the Lord.”
Here is another example. An evangelical church in Philadelphia recently distributed a brochure giving “ten reasons” to visit their Sunday evening service:
- The air conditioning feels great.
- Coffee and goodies for everyone after every service.
- The music is upbeat and easy to sing.
- You get to meet some really neat people.
- The sermon is always relevant to everyday life.
- You can sleep in on Sundays and still make it to church on time.
- Child care and children’s church are provided.
- Free parking!
- You can go to the shore for the weekend and still make it to church on Sunday night.
- You will discover an awesome God who cares about you.
When I saw that I was reminded of an advertising brochure I had come across some years before. See if you can guess what is being described. This brochure was printed in full color with pictures of attractive people, and the cover read: “This Is Where It’s At.” Inside it had headings like these:
- It’s about the best way to please everybody.
Actually, the brochure was an advertisement for the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, Massachusetts. But its appeal is virtually undistinguishable from that of the churches I am describing.
[HT Old Truth via Jim Bublitz ]
There is a fine line between engaging the culture and capitulating to the culture, isn’t there? Looking back at that line from a distance, it is more clearly distinguishable. We can see where we, or others, have gone wrong. But in the midst of those day-in, day-out decisions about how we live our own Christian lives, how we ‘do’ church, how we participate in our culture, it is easier for the line to blur. That is where God’s Word is required to pierce us with its truth that is sometimes difficult to hear.
Is the church called to engage culture or win culture wars or has it got a distinct mission in this world?
At first glance, I thought, ‘I cannot believe someone is actually doing that!’ However, it would be helpful to unbelievers or believers if they are relatively unacquainted with church…perhaps its just a starting point for them. Hopefully the minster points them to “real churches” if they show interest in being part of a church.
Which takes me to the all very important question; what is the church? Is it a collection of unbelievers or is it the body of christ? In which case then should church be a fellowship gathered to entertain unbelievers or to worship and be encouraged from the word of God? What does the bible say about the body of christ?
The church is the sum of all those whom God had effectually called out of the mass of humanity rushing headlong for judgment and an eternity in Hell. It consists of believers throughout the ages, past, present and future.
the mission of the chuirch (corporate and as individual members) is to announce the gospel of Christ, that Christ died for our sins, in our place.
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