Is Your Church Stylish?

Evangelical churchgoers desperately want to be on the leading edge of whatever is currently in vogue in the evangelical community. For a while, any church that wanted to be in fashion had to sponsor seminars on how to pray the prayer of Jabez. But woe to the church that was still doing Jabez when The Purpose-Driven Life took center stage. By then, any church that wanted to retain its standing and credibility in the evangelical movement had better be doing “Forty Days of Purpose.” And if your church didn’t get through the “Forty Days” in time to host group studies or preach a series of sermons about The Da Vinci Code before the Hollywood movie version came out, then your church was considered out of touch with what really matters. It is too late now if you missed any of those trends. To use the language of the movement, they are all so five minutes ago. If your church is not already experimenting with Emerging-style worship, candles, postmodern liturgy, and the like (or—better yet—anticipating the next major trend), then you are clearly not in a very stylish church.

—John MacArthur (The Truth War, p. 148)

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jerry Wragg on January 15, 2008 at 2:42 am

    I always wondered how Corinth descended to the place where some were saying, “Jesus is accursed.” How stylish of them!

    The Christian culture has been unwittingly sitting under a steady diet of poor Bible teaching and lazy shepherding, leaving God’s people without discernment in the most basic Christian doctrines.

    With this growing biblical illiteracy has come the inevitable man-centered perspective on true sanctification. The lofty grandeur of knowing resurrection power has been replaced by the idols of emotional, psychological, and communal wholeness. Sanctification is seen as the result of having God and others meet our needs. The suffering and rejection of Christ’s cross, far from atoning for sin, is championed as an example of humanitarian love and compassion. Over time, true believers weaken under such skeletal teaching, becoming enslaved to sin and weighed down with guilt. Discouraged, they begin to distrust the scriptures and lose all confidence (and interest) in its power to dramatically change a life.

    In fact, the contemporary church has been hemorrhaging truth and pumping in self-worship at such a rate that unbelievers, longing to drown their guilt and angst in religious renewal, find church-going a welcome and undemanding place of refuge. And why shouldn’t they? The average fad-soaked postmodern worship service has just enough morality to sooth the secular conscience, and enough worldly “flavor” to leave superficial Christians feeling right at home, thinking “Jesus is just alright with me.”

  2. Posted by Jerry Wragg on January 15, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Thanks for the MacArthur excerpt, Matt!

  3. Matt,

    Thanks.

    Jerry,

    I always appreciate your analysis, especially when you throw in a Doobie Brothers quote at the end.

    PSL

  4. Posted by Jerry Wragg on January 15, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Paul –
    Get with it Man! DC Talk did a remake…of course I was quoting them.

  5. Sorry, “I’m not down with DC Talk.”

  6. I agree with Mark Driscoll when he said that traditionalism is the right answers to 30 year old questions. I also believe that contemporary innovative fads cater to self with a little Bible thrown in to make you feel good.

    The Gospel is the same, regardless of the culture or time period. It is:
    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever shall believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    “Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us.”

    “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes unto the Father except by Me.”

  7. Posted by Yogi Taylor on January 15, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Matt,

    That was a very encouraging quote from JMac. I am currently reading “The truth Wars” right now and I am loving every minute of it (no pun on dropping more music lines :) ).

    But this is something that my church is battling. They desire to reach a younger crowd of folks and thinking that they are going to need to change things to “make it more appealing to them.” I have preached on the dangers of this way of thinking, most are understanding, some think that may kill the church… it’s a heartbreaker!

    Yogi

  8. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on January 16, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Good discussion guys. Well, except for the tangent about DC Talk and the Doobie Bros. Say, did Stryper ever do a version of that song?

    I’ve often joked that “The Purpose-Driven Life” campaign has done more for the numerical growth of our church than any other program, not b/c we’ve done it ourselves, but b/c of how people have left other churches over it and then ended up at ours. I’m not overly familiar with PDL, but my impression is that these people were fed up not b/c it was heretical, but rather because it was the latest manifestation of a fad-driven ministry which had largely abandoned a biblical approach to doing church.

  9. Posted by Larry Klassen on January 17, 2008 at 12:43 am

    The biggest of many problems with Purpose Driven and all the other “sanctified” fads that come through churches is a low view of Scripture. The Bible is viewed as a source book for sermon illustrations rather than a Believer’s authority for life and practice.

    Some encouragement from a non-preacher… Don’t preach on the dangers of this way of thinking. Just faithfully preach the Word and only the Word and let the Holy Spirit do His work. That may drive some away but it won’t kill any part of the Body of Christ. It will build it up.

  10. I agree. Over the last few years, many families have left other churches because of “fads” and shallow view of scripture and have migrated to my church because the Gospel is preached unashamedly and unapologetically. My pastor’s motto is from 2 Tim, “Preach the Word.” When I have a chance to preach he tells me to preach the text and not my opinion.

    If people leave because the word is preached, then God is dealing with them and they are being defiant. If they are leaving because there is no word preached, then they are starving and looking for meat.

  11. We’re currently in the middle of a series called “To hell with the devil”

    Sike.

  12. Before the games yesterday (my condolences Matt – I was pulling for you) I was doing the sift through the “religious” channels. I came across something that flabbergasted me.

    I watched a guy preach yesterday while making pizza. I’m serious. He had a kitchen on stage and was making pizza. Every once in a while he would step out of the process, look at some notes and make a few quips about how a marriage is like making a good pizza.

    I must confess that I am a bit of a closet chef. Good Eats is my favorite program and I am often found trying Alton’s recipes. Homemade pizza is my families favorite.

    I called my wife over and said, “I’ve found my calling – preaching chef!”

    Can you imagine where people would go mentally if they smelled fresh baking pizza while you preached? He did actually bake the pizza on stage.

    Tragic…

  13. I just found your website and will have to start checking back. I would be the proverbial choir that you would be preaching to. Unfortunately, I can look at many of my classmates from seminary and see that they have bought into the myth of church marketing. sighh

    In Christ,
    Steve

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