Allegheny Valley Church Of God
Relevant Or Reverent
There is a very interesting web site called "The Museum of Idolatry" that examines the attempts of modern seeker sensitive and emergent churches and pastors (whom they refer to as "goat herders") to be relevant. That means that they try to be as much like the world as they can be to attract as many people as they can to come and "worship" at their churches. It seems this kind of thinking started with the likes of Robert Schuller, who, when starting what would eventually become the Crystal Cathedral, went through the neighborhood with a questionnaire asking people what they wanted in a church. This practice was adapted and expanded upon by folks like Bill Hybels, who pastors at Willow Creek, one of the largest churches in the nation.
While getting people into the building seems like a noble cause, and while many evangelical/fundamental churches seem to be stuck in the 50's, how much do we have to sacrifice to make Christianity "relevant." Whatever decade or century we live in, the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation. We can't be judgmental, holier-than-thou or hypocritical, and that has probably driven more people away from the church than anything. And of tantamount importance is the moral purity and servant attitude of the leadership in any congregation. But we can't allow the pendulum to swing to the other extreme and try to be cool and hip with the hopes of winning souls. Jesus didn't die to make us relevant, he died to save us from the curse of sin and eternity in Hell.
Using family nights and things of the sort to draw the unchurched into the building can be ok. But it can go too far. The latest craze, as I mentioned in a previous article, is the "Harlem Shake," a shamanic dance that originated some 30 years ago and has found favor with many youth pastors as something "fun" for the kids. You can read my opinion about it here.
A St. Louis church put on a performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" while a church in Texas turned their sanctuary into a circus, literally, with trapeze artists and elephants and jugglers and the whole nine yards. From "worship" teams playing "anointed" music by Lady Gaga and ACDC to speakers who can't finish a sentence because they're high on "Jehovahjuana," much of the church in America has become an entertainment industry, with "life coaches" trying to teach people how to live right without bothering to go to the cross. One recent exhibit in the Museum of Idolatry has a video from a church in Arizona that portrays Jesus as an Easter egg. You can watch it here if you think I'm kidding.
We have Christian pole dancing, Christian belly dancing, Christian tattoo parlors, even a ministry that will interpret what your tattoos mean. Then there are the clothing lines for the with-it contemporary types. Christianity is a big business. Here's some examples of some cool Christian clothes you can get for your kids. This kind of marketing goes right along with the recent emphasis on how to have a healthy sex life that is a real crowd pleaser. After all, God invented it, right? So why shouldn't we be able to cash in. We'll just make sure we keep most of our clothes on.
I got saved when I was about 30 years old. Before that time I was out there, involved in all the stuff I shouldn't have been. After I got saved I was amazed and the gullibility of Christians. What it boils down to is people are just looking for something to satisfy their need for entertainment and there are those who have learned to capitalize on that hunger.
How does that line up with the preaching of the Gospel? The church of the first century did not attempt to entertain anyone. In fact, the early Christians became the entertainment for a blood thirsty Roman populace. The early followers of Jesus did not promote a religion that offered to meet the needs of people, but they presented the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. While the scriptures contain allusions to aspects of secular life in the first century, the real draw was the preaching of Christ and him crucified. If that doesn't draw them to an eternal relationship with the Father then nothing will.
The bottom line is, if a church is going to have life they don't need ACDC, Ozzy Osbourne, circus acts and stupid dancing. What we need is the Holy Spirit. It's important we include the word "Holy" because not every spirit is. He is the source of life in any congregation, and He doesn't have to depend on our quality of entertainment to bring it.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!