Tag Archives: Bill Hybels
You hear it said all around you these days. “We have to broaden our appeal if we are to reach our culture.” ” We have to be relevant if we are to reach our community.” Ok, so far so good. However, the devil is in the details (so to speak). How far can you go in broadening your appeal or being relevant without going too far?
I studied for and received an MBA degree several years ago. I had been studying the seeker and emergent programs for about 8 years prior. I was surprised to find that the methods used in marketing & advertising of consumer goods are the EXACT SAME ONES being used by many of the new-fangled church growth programs.
Let me count the problems with this.
1) God and His word is not a consumer good that can be judged on the basis of the presumed merit in the mind of a shopper. The church attenders assume the posture of consumers and they demand to be entertained or they will simply move on to the next supplier.
2) People cannot be influenced to ‘accept’ God or to ‘make a decision’ for God. Examples where people were manipulated into joining a church instead of being saved show that simply joining a church results in a falling away very soon afterwards. Often, the people are disillusioned and bitter for having been ‘sold a bill of goods’ by a religious system. Contrast this to people who hear God’s word and cry out to Jesus for salvation. They persevere in the faith.
3) Worldly people who are lured into a church because of world-mimicking gimmicks do not last very long in that church. Statistics tell us this fact. The reason for this is that the church is a poor substitute for the flesh-satisfying lies of the world. A flesh-lite substitute will soon be replaced by a fully flesh-satisfying vice provided by the world.
There are more items but this should suffice for this discussion.
So, when the church promotes gimmicks in order to increase their attendance, exactly whom is being fooled? I am afraid the church is the one being fooled. God builds His Church. His sovereign gift of salvation by grace through faith in His Son Jesus is the only “process” that is valid. God directs, we respond. God transforms, we conform to the image of Christ (slowly over time).
So how much cultural contextualization is too much? The amount that confuses the issue of sovereignty.
Never give people the wrong impression of who is God and who is not. Expound upon the greatness of God. Tell God’s WHOLE story. Some people’s lives will be changed. We were never called by God to sharpen His brand. He needs no spiffing up to be marketable in 2011. God is as Relevant now as when He created everything.
Imagine going to the bank and finding that it has taken on the Monty Pythonesque Emerging Church view of reality…
You: I would like to know my account balance, please.
Banker: Sure, I would love to have a conversation with you.
You: My balance?
Banker: I’m sure your intention is to have a substantial balance. How do you feel about your balance?
You: Could you PLEASE tell me my balance?
Banker: Balances are so black & white. They limit us and deter our growth. Who can possibly say exactly what your balance is?
You: Is there someone here who can tell me my balance?
Banker: We have found that simply having a conversation about your balance is sufficient for most people. Our survey data says that some people may not return to our bank if we talk in absolute terms.
You: Please close my account.
Banker: We’ve found that walking in the mist of the serenity of having an account can bring joy and peace to most people without ever crossing the fundamentalist line of talking about facts and figures. Who can say what a balance really means, anyway?
You: I’m outa here!
Someone needs to ask this question so I suppose the Truthinator will be the one who does. Are adherents to the Emergent Church concept actually Christian? Hold the phone, Emergents, because I know you guys are ready to pounce with the oh so predictable, “Don’t judge lest ye be judged” gem.
Here is why I ask this question. The hallmark of the Emergent situation is people do not like, appreciate, or connect to traditional Christianity. These people want hip music, stylistic interpretation rather than expository preaching, calming monologues in a performance vein rather than pulpit-pounding, erudite ego stroking rather than the conviction that comes from learning what the word of God says and etc.
Don’t deny it because you know it is true. Where is the proof? Look in the mirror. Ask yourself if this is true. You know that it is. Read the books and blogs from the Emergent gurus. Emergents want a more user friendly and inclusive community gathering instead of fellowship in Christ’s suffering.
The reason I ask whether Emergents are really Christian is that most if not all of the driving force factors that build the Emergent movement are contrary to what the Bible says that God is and what He demands. Keep reading.
Here are just a few but enough to cause serious consideration of my thesis. 1) Jesus – Sometimes he is heralded by Emergents but never as the Christ of the Bible. He is “JC”, “Rad Dude Jesus”, “Breakdancing Jesus”, or several others of a variety of fictitious manifestations. Even the Emergents who actually talk Jesus give Him attributes He doesn’t actually maintain and take away unpalatable ones (in their eyes) that are true.
2) All inclusiveness – Everyone goes to Heaven regardless of what they believe or there is not even a Heaven at all and everyone dies and are gone from existence. Both of these ideas are common in Emergent “thinking” but neither are true because neither are found in the Bible.
3) This is the final point I will mention here but there are others. The Bible is not believed by ANY of the Emergents (do some research and you will find drift or even exodus from core Bible truth). Emergents replace, twist, spin, delete, and insert Bible teachings. All of which are prohibited by the Bible. I am not talking about disagreeing on gray areas such as exactly when the rapture of the Church will occur. I am speaking of items such as atonement, Christology, Soteriology, creation, Heaven, Hell, the reality of God, and so forth.
When people do not believe such foundational truths, they cannot be classified as belonging to that group who do believe. This is very simple. Let me give a quick example then I am out of here. Let’s say my neighbor claims to be an avid tennis player. I see him dressed in tennis clothes and carrying a racquet many times per week. Once at the courts, however, he doesn’t play tennis but plays cards with friends instead. Looking the part does not define the person.
The Bible defines several things about those who are called of God into eternal salvation. A few of these include falling upon Jesus as their only hope, changing to become new creatures (over time) in their inner beliefs and outward behavior, and producing lifestyle outcomes that resemble what the Bible teaches about the character and nature of God Himself.
Are Emergents actually Christian? Some may be but I am doubtful that many if any true Christians could stay in an environment that does not believe God’s word or truly worship Him. While it is above everyone’s paygrade to determine the validity of a person’s claim of belonging, the Bible is very clear that not all who make this claim actually belong. I encourage you to read up on what the Emergents believe. It will take some time but this is of vital importance. This movement is sweeping the country and many Emergents are influencing our young people daily. Counter error with truth; it is the only way.