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      Church "Growth" -The Neglected Question:
      What Are They Growing Exactly?

      Tuesday, February 19, 2008

      It seems the order of the day is "Church Growth", but the question that is commonly avoided is "What are you growing exactly?" If your church is "growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ", that's what we (who believe the Bible, anyway) call "Biblical Church Growth." It's evident that there are many in this day, though, who would rather frown upon those "legalists" who actually believe the Bible and, instead, deem that the numbers in attendance to a certain meeting is really "Church Growth". The problem with this mentality is that the Church is the Bride of Christ. It's the "called out ones" as it is translated from the Greek. The Church isn't made up of unbelievers. So when a person comes along and says, "We have all these decisions for Christ," they are either ignorant of what the Church actually is or are deceived enough into thinking that they are actually growing the Church FOR (key word) Christ.

      I received the following message this week. I still have no idea what the person was addressing, but pay attention to their argument:

      "if you dont like that one wait til you see the next one man, God bless to you and your yours and let me think, we got lots of kids giveing there lives to Christ. we aint just about music homeboi, we bout gettin these kids right and away from people like you, the ones stuck in the old tradition. keep ya head up and come to Grace Point and you will learn something, Peace Be With You."

      Obviously this person has a problem with something I've done or said and, although, after replying several days ago and inquiring what exactly that problem is, I have yet to hear anything from him/her. What I want you to notice about this person's comment, though, is this part: "we got lots of kids giveing there lives to Christ. we aint just about music homeboi, we bout gettin these kids right and away from people like you, the ones stuck in the old tradition." Again, obviously this person has a problem with something I've said or done and his solution is "gettin these kids right and away from people like you." Clearly he's acting with these two presuppositions:

      1) These kids are actually giving their lives to Christ. Why is that? No appeal to God (the God of the Bible) is given, just pejorative language to "strengthen" his argument.

      2) He needs to "get these people away from people like me." so he's acting with the presupposition that I'm in the wrong and he's in the right so the thing he needs to do is be "bout getting these kids right and away from people like [me]". Here's the point again, though: No appeal to God of the Bible is given. He only shares pejorative language based on his presuppositions.

      In summary, he is saying 1) I'm wrong. 2) He's (and his group) is right. both with NO APPEAL TO SCRIPTURE WHATSOEVER, and the thing is, I understand this completely. I understand why a person would do such a thing. Let me give you a little history: the Protestants say Scripture Alone as their final authority. The Roman Catholics say Scripture and Tradition is the authority, but, and pay attention to this part, if there's a conflict between Scripture and Tradition, Tradition wins out so the real authority is tradition. Now let's look at this "seeker"-sensitive movement. What is their authority? They claim it to be Scripture and Personal Opinion (whether that be from friends, family, the media, the culture, the world, etc.), but when it comes down to it, what wins? What is their final authority? Let's say there's a passage where Jesus says something like "Feed my sheep." (which there is, btw) and some "mentor" comes along and says, "Start new programs! More programs! Let's have small groups! Get decisions and grow your fan base! Grow your numbers!" What takes precedence? From what I can tell, public opinion is the ultimate authority in this movement, and believers know that this is as fickle as the culture itself. Like the Roman Catholic church, they can keep enough Scripture around to make it appear that what they are doing is Biblical to those who are ignorant of what the Bible actually says, but when you really get down to what the authority is, they have the same problem as a whole: God is not their ultimate authority. Do I say that harshly? It may sound that way to someone who doesn't believe the Bible to be God's revealed, inspired Word, but those who hold to it and believe it know exactly what I mean when I say that. It's why I can receive pejorative comments like the one I shared above and not fret because I know that God's Word trumps public opinion no matter what the case. Those who hold to public opinion as their highest authority naturally get offended when those who have not said in the past, "Hey, God says this, and you're doing that..." start saying it. Are you starting to understand why the Reformation actually took place?

      Placing public opinion as the authority in making decisions rather than the Word of God (or God, Himself to be more precise) is the insanity that leads to believing that increasing the numbers of people to a particular professing worship experience is synonymous with preaching to them God as He is revealed in Scripture. I'm thankful that God is sanctifying me of sin and error, and what really troubles my soul is there are those who do not see a problem with what has been discussed because they are blinded by idolatry. It's the idol of self-promotion and a lack of faith in the only true and wise God as revealed in Scritpure. I can't even begin to tell about all the "sermons" or lectures I've heard about people "growing up from nothing and God delivering them all this material comfort". It's no wonder 50 Cent and Osteen have followings. When you preach messages like that, it doesn't matter if you preach them behind protective plexiglass on the stage or behind a plexiglass podium: people get the false hope and assurance and become returning customers regardless.


      The great Charles Spurgeon shared his thoughts about this mentality often. He wrote many sermons and other writings which denounced this mentality. I wish to share one with you now and several other clips of audio regarding the "seeker" sensitive; "church growth" methodology and mentality that is permeating much of what we're seeing today. I ask you this when you read, listen, or watch them: Will you pray before you read, watch, or listen and ask God, the God of Scripture; not the god of public opinion if you're caught in the mentality of having Scripture around as long as it meets your ends of "Personal peace and affluence"?



      Spurgeon on Church Growth

      I think that there is a great lesson in my text to those who preach their own thoughts instead of preaching the thoughts of Christ. These disciples were to follow Christ that they might listen to Him, hear what He had to say, drink in His teaching, and then go and teach what He had taught them. Their Lord said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." If they will be faithful reporters of Christ's message, He will make them "fishers of men."

      But you know the boastful method, nowadays, is this: "I am not going to preach this old, old gospel, this musty Puritan doctrine. I will sit down in my study, and burn the midnight oil, and invent a new theory; then I will come out with my brand-new thought, and blaze away with it." Many are not following Christ, but following themselves, and of them the Lord may well say, "Thou shalt see whose word shall stand, Mine or theirs."

      Others are wickedly prudent, and judge that certain truths which are evidently God's Word, had better be kept back. You must not be rough, but must prophesy smooth things. To talk about the punishment of sin, to speak of eternal punishment, why, these are unfashionable doctrines. It may be that they are taught in the Word of God, but they do not suit the genius of the age; we must pare them down!

      Brothers in Christ, I will have no share in this. Will you? O my soul, come not thou into their secret! Certain things not taught in the Bible our enlightened age has discovered. Evolution may be clean contrary to the teaching of Genesis, but that does not matter. We are not going to be believers of Scripture, but original thinkers. This is the vainglorious ambition of the period.

      Mark you, in proportion as the modern theology is preached, the vice of this generation increases. To a great degree, I attribute the looseness of the age to the laxity of the doctrine preached by its teachers. From the pulpit they have taught the people that sin is a trifle. From the pulpit these traitors to God and to His Christ have taught the people that there is no hell to be feared. A little, little hell, perhaps, there may be; but just punishment for sin is made nothing of.

      The precious atoning sacrifice of Christ has been derided and misrepresented by those who were pledged to preach it. They have given the people the name of the gospel, but the gospel itself has evaporated in their hands. From hundreds of pulpits the gospel is as clean gone as the dodo from its old haunts; and still the preachers take the position and name of Christ's ministers. Well, and what comes of it? Why, their congregations grow thinner and thinner and so it must be.

      Jesus says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men;" but if you go in your own way, with your own net, you will make nothing of it, and the Lord promises you no help in it. The Lord's directions make Himself our Leader and Example. It is, "Follow Me, follow Me. Preach My gospel. Preach what I preached. Teach what I taught, and keep to that." With that blessed servility which becomes one whose ambition it is to be a copyist, and never to be an original, copy Christ even in jots and tittles. Do this, and He will make you fishers of men; but if you do not do this, you shall fish in vain.

      HT: TeamPyro




      Here is Charles Spurgeon and Mark Kielar discussing what Christ commanded:

      "Christ Commands to Make Disciples; Not Returning Customers"




      Finally, here is Al Mohler and R.C. Sproul discussing the problems with the "seeker" sensitive movement:




      END OF POST.

      4 comments:

      Anonymous said...

      "if you dont like that one wait til you see the next one man, God bless to you and your yours and let me think, we got lots of kids giveing there lives to Christ. we aint just about music homeboi, we bout gettin these kids right and away from people like you, the ones stuck in the old tradition. keep ya head up and come to Grace Point and you will learn something, Peace Be With You

      Now compare that "youth ministry with this one?

      Parent-Driven Children’s Ministry – Parents are primarily responsible for the discipleship and discipline of their children. The church should not usurp the authority of godly parents, nor assume the responsibilities of parents who are lax in their duties. The church should give itself to teaching the biblical principles of parenthood and to holding parents accountable to carry them out in the context of families. While we have an active program for children, it should be viewed as an extension of the parents’ roles, and it is never to replace them.

      Parent-Driven Youth Ministry – The youth ministry is not designed around the presumed unique needs or desires of young people, but it is centered on God’s will for young people as revealed in His Word. Our youth ministry is parent-driven. Our goal is to strengthen parents in their God-called responsibility to “bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The so-called “generation gap” and the “adolescent years” are a result of sin and should not be encouraged by the church or youth ministries. Our youth ministry is not centered on music, drama, comedy, or other entertainments but on the faithful preaching of God’s Word and Small Groups for application of Scripture, meeting personal needs, and one-on-one discipleship and accountability. While other activities may be allowed, they must never take the place of or de-emphasize the preaching of the Word or the leadership of fathers in discipling their children.

      There is quite a difference!

      Ike

      Anonymous said...

      You should be ashamed of yourself for cutting up seeker churches where thousands of people have come to Christ. This blog isn't quite as bad as truth matters but you promote that blog and both blogs should be shut down. You create a rift in churches and that is sin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Lane Chaplin said...

      Ah, this is another example of Anonymous commenting at it's "finest". Sir, ma'am, whatever, you didn't address any of the issues raised in this article. I will not apologize for seeing people as more than numbers and neither should Josh. If you, yourself considered your "convictions" to be credible, you'd at least stand behind what you said and include your name instead of cowardly doing "drive-by-posts." When you have some actual points you'd like to address and not what basically boils down to ad hominem argumentation in disguise, please do come back and share. We can discuss those then. In the meantime, though, if you do another "drive-by-posting" it will not be published. I'm just making this explicit now so there is no question as to why your comment will not be published if you persist in this kind of "argumentation".

      Anonymous said...

      Dear Anonymous,
      I can't speak for Lane but I can tell you that as Josh's father my little baby never had to be taught to be "evil"! Josh lived most of his young life thinking himself to be a believer because he "said the prayer" and then was baptized and me and his mother thought it to be genuine? God moved in his life about four years ago and Josh finally repented and placed his faith in Christ alone! What you don't understand about Josh is his passion for the many thousands of people who are believing themselves saved but are lost just like he was lost! I don't know Lane but I think it is safe for me to say that Lane has this same passion!!! I'm getting to be an old man but it is very comforting to know that God is doing a work of reformation in many young lives and I just praise God for young men of God like Lane and Josh!!! I'm sorry you see things differently. I will certainly pray for you!

      Ike

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