What do you mean preacher? I mean exactly what Andy Stanley meant when he said that the word shepherd should not be used anymore because it is not culturally relevant. The purpose driven model teaches these men and women that they are to be vision casting leaders responsible for growing the numbers of bodies in the church. Even those who thirty years ago we called "lost" or "unsaved" are now referred to as merely "unchurched"; another Rick Warren term from the Purpose Driven Church. No longer is salvation the goal but instead "churching" is. To take those that do not go to church and turn them into those that do. The man that normally would be the pastor is actually the CEO. Now he is faced with a dilemma. In order to grow his market share, he must draw people in. He must -- not God. You cannot use the Gospel to draw throngs of people because the things of God are still foolishness to those who are perishing and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life. Why does heaven rejoice over one lost sinner who comes home? Because so few do beloved. When you cast vision that says you will go from 200 to 2000 people, you are forced to approach them from within their own culture. Everyone loves Star Wars! Everyone can relate to Taylor Swift! Let's play some heavy metal and boy band music during worship! I mean, we aren't really worshipping God anyway! So let us walk through the typical purpose driven, carnally focused church service:
There is often a countdown, hyping up the start of service.
The opening "worship" set consists of a mix of secular songs that have nothing to do with God with contemporary Christian music that may even have less to do with God. The worship is really about worshipping you. How much God loves you. How you deserve all the blessings. God is great still but only in relation to what He can do for you.
This is accompanied with strobe and club lighting, smoke machines, and ear splitting decibel levels. The church feels more like a club or a concert, entertaining those that simply would not know any better.
They hear a 20-minute sermonette. It is about them. It is specific to them. If the Bible story is David and Goliath they are asked what giants they might be facing now. If it is about the three Hebrew boys they are asked what furnace in their life they are standing in. If it is about Daniel they are asked whose mouth do they need the Lord to shut for them. What is missing of course is Jesus the Savior. Sure His name is casually thrown around in the sermonette to give the appearance of piety and something for the crowd to shout amen about but the point of Jesus is lost. The Gospel has been replaced by the relevance of Taylor Swift's lyrics or why Chewbacca is an archetype of Christ.
They have a 5 minute "altar call" where they do not even need to leave their seats anymore. Just be brave enough to raise your hand that you want this Jesus guy as your wingman. There has been no discussion about their sins and need to repent. No discussion about the need for a Savior. Jesus has not been presented as such. He is instead your friend. Your buddy and cosmic bus boy. No cross needed. No blood required. Just raise your hand and repeat this nine word "prayer." After which the pastor-dude has the gall to pronounce you saved.
Saved. From a discussion about the depth of Taylor Swift's lyrics in the matter of time you usually spend on your afternoon latte. Oh, and then you can pick up that latte on your way out by stopping at the church barista. Jesus Himself warns us that on the last day many will stand before Him and say "Lord Lord", did we not do great things in your name only to discover that He never knew them. This is how we get there. The role of the church is not to be relevant to the world. Just look at the second set of key verses from Matthew's Gospel. We are meant to be light in the midst of darkness. A city on a hill stands out because it is different -- not because it strives to conform. The Book of Romans assures us that only the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power of God unto the salvation of men and we want to hold it back to discuss the faux relevance of Taylor Swift's 2014 hit, "Blank Space." Worse, we want to pretend they have anything to do with each other so we can convince our crowd of goats to come back next week, maybe stick around, maybe tithe, maybe become a member, maybe serve in a ministry for free, and then in all likelihood leave in three years confused, angry and bitter. Even worse still however, they leave the church thinking they are saved and never truly seek God until the stand before Christ and wonder aloud, "Lord Lord."
Or maybe they stick around. Not everyone leaves. They serve for decades. Their church is hip, relevant and active in their community. Every week they hear the pastor-dude wax eloquently on matters such as how the faith of Moses is available for us all if we would just look for God inside the burning bushes of our lives, oh and did I tell you Taylor Swift wrote a song called "Holy Ground?" Hallelujah! God is good! Except that same person still ends up standing before Christ uttering "Lord Lord." Because the man charged with one task, presenting the Gospel to him, failed to do so. Instead he lied to him. Maybe not maliciously. Maybe not consciously. It is not going to matter much when he hears Jesus say He never knew him. The only thing that is going to matter to him at that point is it is too late and all of the deep human wisdom about the significance of Taylor Swift's songs will not save him. Just like they won't today either.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- August 29, 2016