February 19, 2020
Owen Strachan and the Danger of the Seeker-Sensitive Church
The ministry of the church thus did not appeal to my flesh as an immature young man. Though a young believer, I sometimes found myself more interested in sports and the social scene than the church’s offerings. This was precisely because the church was not worldly. The church seemed boring in comparison. The church was boring in comparison, at least in natural terms.
How tragic it would have been for me if my church was exciting in a secular way. I do not exaggerate when I say that I very likely would not have trusted Christ as my Savior in such an environment. If the church was worldly, in other words, I would have liked the worldly parts and not the spiritual parts.
The defense of the “seeker-sensitive church” has long been that we need to appeal to non-Christians to get them to come into church, then we can preach the gospel. The argument is that if there’s nothing to attract them to church, they’ll never get interested and we won’t have the chance to “have them ask Jesus into their heart.”
Strachan does a brilliant job in putting his finger on the problem at the root of this thinking. If we make the church look just like the world, we may attract people, but it won’t be for the right reason. They will be interested in everything but the reason they should be there. We’ll miss the opportunity to preach the gospel to them and devalue the true mission of the church in one fell swoop.
Having come from such a church, I have seen this danger first hand. Looking back at my former church and what they have done since my leaving, I see it has gone even deeper in the “attractional” philosophy. It saddens me to see photos of their “worship services” with more production value than most concerts. To believe that this is necessary to bring people in misses the point of the gospel and church as a whole.
Church is not supposed to just look like a sanitized version of the world. It is supposed to be set apart. It is supposed to be different. It is supposed to cause the world to ask about the joy within us (I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere). Every effort to make the church look like the world in an effort to draw people in is simply a bait-and-switch scheme that does a disservice to the church, the non-believer, and Christ himself.
As has been said, what you win them with you win them to. Sadly, for many churches, this is spotlights and smoke machines, rather than the risen Christ.
February 14, 2020
The Disgusting Display at the 2020 Super Bowl
By now, much has been said about the Super Bowl halftime show and I’m not even sure I have much to add. It was certainly a display of the declining morals of our culture. For an event traditionally watched by parents and children alike to include that display was disheartening to say the least.
I’ve seen defense and critique of the event from many different angles. For me, the morning after the game I was listening to local sports talk radio on my way to work and their discussion was eye-opening. One member of the team asserted that, while he didn’t have a problem with it, he understands why some people felt it was inappropriate for children and presented women in a poor light.
The response of one of the other hosts (who was arguing in favor of the show) was telling and scary, but not surprising. He said:
What have I said before? The culture can’t be wrong. It’s the culture. It just is what it is.
Isn’t that how many people see our society? It just is what it is. There’s no morality to any of the things that happen, they just happen. And, if they happen, there should be no moral judgement. It’s just the natural evolution of this many people being grouped together in geographic areas, so we can’t have any opinion of it one way or the other.
The moral ambiguity defense
The discussion continues and they say the show wasn’t so bad when you compare it to “these young girls dance troupes.” They seem to say that, because this other morally reprehensible thing happening, this one should be fine by comparison.
Just because there are groups of young girls acting inappropriately doesn’t mean that it excuses what can be seen as “less inappropriate” - especially when it’s on national TV. This is one of the issues with the moral relativism that has overtaken our culture. When there is no standard of morality, anything goes and anything can be justified.
There is another another argument being used to defend the halftime show. This group says, “Why is everyone talking about the halftime show, but no-one is talking about the men on the field bashing their heads together all day?”
Now, there has been a groundswell of protests against the NFL and football in general due to the rise in incidence and severity of concussions and other injuries associated the sport. Yes, this a concern when you consider how these athletes are sacrificing their bodies for our entertainment. Setting aside the fact that they are being compensated handsomely for it, the concern is valid, just not applicable in this instance.
To compare men playing a sport with the sexualization of a culture (as is done through the halftime show) is like comparing apples with coffee mugs. They’re not even in the same universe. Is it sinful to watch football? It’s tough to make that argument. Now, if you’re cheering for people to be hurt, that’s a different story, but watching a sport played by some of the best athletes in the world is not inherently sinful. The same cannot be said for scantily clad women doing all they can to inspire lust in the hearts of their viewers and the viewers happily playing along.
The trend of sexualizing everything except the game (and even some parts of the game itself) makes it not only hard to watch a game with my young boys, but to watch it myself. It really adds nothing to the game, other than letting the downward spiral of society seep into a sporting event.
I could say I hope this would change and people would come to their senses, realizing that the sexualizing of one of the most watched events of the year is unnecessary, but we all know the reality of that. Unfortunately, I fear it will only get worse.
January 31, 2020
Aaron Rodgers and the Deficiency of the Youth Group Culture
As a lifelong Wisconsin resident, I’m also a die-hard Packer fan. That’s why it was so disheartening to see my quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, discuss Christianity on Danica Patrick’s podcast.
The world of elite athletes certainly mirrors that of non-athletes when it comes to percentages of Christians vs. Non-Christians. There are some that we hear about from time to time that are strong, outspoken Christians. There are some who have no concern for faith or the things of God. And there are those who would call themselves “Christians,” but have no true or abiding faith. No different than anywhere else.
The fact that Aaron Rodgers isn’t a Christian wasn’t some big revelation or shock. What I saw in his telling his story is the utter failure of the seeker-sensitive movement as a whole, and the youth group culture specifically. And those failures are widespread and reach far beyond the world of professional athletes.
To begin, Aaron mentions growing up like me - being forced to go to church by well-meaning parents but not really enjoying it or being moved by it. Not an uncommon story. But, when he found a youth group through a friend called Young Life he felt connected and a part of something. In comparing the two, he said:
There were two groups-church on Sundays and Young life on Mondays. And Young life on Monday welcomed everyone. It was like ‘come as you are’ - be here at 7:29 and be ready for some fun. And it was fun. We had a great time.
That’s very telling, is it not?
The group was “fun” - that’s why he went. Not that the gospel was preached, not that Jesus was exalted, but that a group of kids got together for some fun. Is it any wonder that the seeds of the gospel didn’t take root in his life? It’s no wonder then, when the fun was over and he went to college, he “didn’t find any connections with the Christian groups there.”
He wasn’t really connected to a Christian group in the first place. If Young Life is anything like most youth groups today, a thin veneer of Jesus was painted over a lot of fun times, thereby failing to build the connection necessary to draw Christians together - namely, Christ. Once the fun is over and you don’t have that common bond, there’s nothing there to keep you connected.
That failure to build a strong connection based on Christ, and poor teaching (or a failure to properly teach) both at church and in the group, leads him to ultimately one of the most common objections to Christianity we hear.
I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of His creation to a fiery hell. What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of His creation to a fiery Hell at the end of all this?
If you’ve ever interacted with or heard a non-believer’s objection to Christianity, you’ve likely heard that same argument in some form.
Isn’t it interesting though that Aaron, and so many others, don’t ask the reverse (and, incidentally, correct) question? They don’t seem to ponder “why would a good, loving, and HOLY God, who cannot look upon sin, bring anyone to Heaven? Why doesn’t everyone go to Hell?” That’s the question they should be asking, but don’t.
It’s much easier to discredit God because He doesn’t fit into your fallen idea of morality than it is to see His standard as the standard, and conform your life to that.
Now, why do I go on and on about this one interview? Is it because it’s Aaron Rodgers and I’m a Packers fan and I want to see Aaron Rodgers saved?
Sure, but no more than I’d like to see the checker at the grocery store or the guy in the cubicle next to me at work saved. But, again, that’s not my focus here. My focus is how the seeker-sensitive movement and Christian youth group culture has failed generations of children and young adults. When church and, by extension, a youth groups just become another social interaction with no grounding in the gospel, an opportunity is lost and we do a disservice to those people and dishonor Christ.
Even if, in all the fun, the gospel was preached to Rodgers, it obviously was overshadowed by the activities and good times and not emphasized rightly or taught correctly. That’s the tragedy.
As is often said, what you win them with you win them to. In this case, sadly, that was nothing more than a good time. I pray that Christians will wake up to this minimalization of the gospel and repent in order to point people of all ages to Christ as their joy.
January 28, 2020
Why Society So Hates Children
Why do we despise children? Let me give you a theological answer: There is a great and chasmic antithesis yawning in the hearts of fallen man—a hatred of God that goes down to the bone. We hate our little ones because we hate the God in whose image they are knit together. This is why ours is a world where some of the very people crying out to save the whales and protect the sacred migrational corridors of arboreal squirrels also advocate for the murder of children in the womb; the babies bear God’s image—the whales don’t.
In this excellent post by Brian, he’s decrying the state of our culture that so looks down on large families - or families in general. He puts his finger on, I think, one of the reasons people seem to be so anti-children these days. Highly recommended reading.
January 27, 2020
The Danger of Paula White in the White House
President Donald Trump’s televangelist spiritual adviser sparked outrage after praying in a sermon for Jesus Christ to ‘command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now.’
Florida pastor Paula White, 53, who has a job in the White House and has been close to Trump for 18 years, said: ‘We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs, that it will miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.’
Of all the mistakes in judgement Donald Trump has made in office (and there have been many) I think one of the worst is appointing this charlatan as his “spiritual advisor.”
Giving her prominence and the backing of the President damages the Christian witness by making her seem to speak for all Christians.
I pray that the world would see her for who she truly is and that the Lord would open their eyes to recognize this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
December 10, 2019
Jameela Jamil and the Depravity of the Pro-Abortion Crowd
Recently, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed (a destructive hobby if ever there was one) and I came across this tweet, highlighting the depths of depravity in the minds of the pro-abortion folks.
Receiving THOUSANDS of messages about how I made a mistake having an abortion 7 years ago and how I must be a miserable person… I am in fact a happy, thriving multi millionaire, madly in love, with free time, good sleep and a wonderful career and life. But thanks for checking💋 pic.twitter.com/F0QqQVv1tQ
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil)
Now remember, abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. The pro-abortion camp can say all they want that it’s a clump of cells, it’s not a real life, but they’re wrong. Plain and simple. Once conceived, that child is not only a living, distinct human being, but also made in the image of God.
Taking that into account, Jameela said that the murder of her unborn child is acceptable (and even preferable) because:
- She’s made a lot of money.
- She’s happy.
- She’s in love.
- She has free time (implying it’s not taken up by an annoying child).
- She sleeps well (not sure how given this depravity, but that’s a different discussion).
- Has a wonderful career.
- Has a wonderful life (which, ironically, she denied the same opportunity to her unborn child).
This is the value she, and many others, put on human life. These simple trivialities of their day-to-day outweigh the life of another person, making it perfectly acceptable to murder them in the womb.
On the one hand, it’s appalling to consider that such small things could be worthy of murder in their mind, but I think it’s telling. It’s the reason why people who are pro-abortion fight so hard to deny that the unborn truly have life. If they were to admit that these are human beings we’re talking about, and face the fact that they are murdering that human being for their own convenience and comfort, they would have to make peace with their own selfishness and depravity.
It’s why the crux of the pro-life argument needs to be about showing that the unborn are distinct human lives, created by God, and deserving of life and protection. Sure, there are some who are even more depraved than this who admit that, yes, it is a human life, but they don’t care because it’s their body and their choice. I don’t know how to reason with someone like that.
But, for those who deny the fact that the the unborn are fully human and fully alive, we need to help them see the error of their belief. They need to understand that they are choosing to put their own comfort, money, and “free time” ahead of the life of another. If they choose to dismiss that fact and go on living in ignorance, that is their choice, and they will have to answer for that one day.
The abortion battle will be won and lost on the definition of the unborn. Because, if people who hold a pro-abortion view are willing to admit that, yes, the unborn child is a human being, it becomes much harder for all but the most depraved to be comfortable with murdering that human simply to get a good night’s sleep.