Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Emergent Monday: Send In The Clowns

When people are called sheep in the bible, it's not really a compliment. Sheep are pretty clueless creatures, they walk around and eat grass and get dirty and need haircuts, but other than that their only  other redeeming quality is that they are edible, which combined with their dull wits make them the number one ingredient in wolf chow. To get them to go anywhere you need to smack them with a stick, and they tend to follow any large sheep (or goat) that's standing in front of them for no good reason what so ever. Even though it's a pretty good allegory for people and even though sheep aren't much smarter than the grass they're eating, the biblical references to sheep are affectionate references to followers of the Good Shepard, Jesus Christ.

Goats on the other hand, not so much affection there. Goats are the unrepentant sinners, the unbelievers, the spiritually dead. In fact the term goat in the bible is less than insulting, its damning:
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left...  41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ (Matthew 25:32-43)
Charles H. Spurgeon was incredibly prophetic when he uttered those words in the illustration, if he could only see now what the seeker sensitive emergent church is up to now. I used to call the emergent mega-churches "salvation factories" which was a horrible thing to call them. There's no salvation going on inside there. Instead there's Starbucks, and book stores, and gift shops, and rock bands, and magic tricks, and Gangnam style dance routines, and yes... clowns. 

Thousands of people flock to "seeker sensitive" churches with their donations, offerings, and tithes in order to be entertained. Glowing from their pagan worship sold to them as "Christian Yoga" (which is like saying "atheist prayer service") they indulge in the joys of the Seeker Sensitive three ring ministry. Between the cotton candy, the juggling acts and the worship bands rendition of "Crazy Train" featuring Pastor Steadfast jamming on air guitar to one side something is being forgotten. Sermons pontificate on the glories of social justice, environmental purity, the bible of Coexist, the needs of the children's ministry especially their need for their own building (with parking garage). As Pastor Steadfast pontificates on relevance and self esteem lighting effects and sweet pyrotechnics illuminate the massive chambers where the thousands of sheep slowly turn to goats.

Now don't get me wrong, entertaining the masses can be a pretty awesome thing, but discernment must ensue. Those brave souls whose courage I admire and envy, the street corner preachers, can put a magic trick or two to work to attract a crowds attention. A humorous anecdote can liven up a crowd when properly used. (a good example of improper use: "Jesus died on the cross for your sins... which reminds me of a story. A priest, a  rabbi, and Rick Warren walk into a pool hall...") And sure, nothing's wrong with the worship band banging out a secular rock anthem or two at the church picnic, but inside the house of worship the key word is WORSHIP and should be rule used when deciding the play list. And I personally believe that the question "Who does this song glorify; God or the band?" should be used also.

However when the Mother Of All Seeker Sensitive Churches, the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago released the results of a multi-year study on the effects of their programs and philosophy of ministry, the Grinch VS Scrooge musical productions should have come to a screeching halt across Emergent Land. (and yes, they do put on Grinch VS Scrooge musicals in these churches). The book Reveal: Where Are You? by Willow Creek insiders Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins states that the seeker sensitive model is an utter failure. The primary founder of the seeker driven church, Bill Hybles, calles the findings "earth shaking" and "mind blowing". Hybles said:
“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.”
Teach seekers to read the bible? They might learn about sin, eternal punishment, repentance, and other things that don't fit into the warm & fluffy motif of seeker sensitivity! Ohio Christian radio talk show host, Bob Burney, revealed why so many of us haven’t been fans of Hybels and his circus ministry. Burney said, “The new report reveals that most of what they (Willow Creek) have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples... The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry was, in large part, a ‘mistake.’ The extent of this error defies measurement.”

Oh no Mr. Burney, these people have only begun to err. Author Greg Hawkins sums up the errors of the seeker sensitive movement:
“Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.”
Wait a minute - this is exactly what the seeker sensitive leaders have been saying since day one of their theological experiment! With the tenacity of a rogue left wing bureaucrat Hawkins has determined that the problem isn't the seeker sensitive movement but the lack of enthusiasm in which it was applied. We need more clowns! Elephants! Fireworks! Anything to keep those donations, offerings, and tithes coming in the door. However re-read that last sentence - is their something wrong with your bible Mr. Hawkins? Mine clearly states exactly what God wants me to know about what he's doing. And about that transforming this planet thing you're so worried about God was very, very clear:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
And if the word of God isn't enough, maybe Mr. Hybels and Mr. Hawkins might listen to CH Spurgeon:
The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire

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