It is so pitiful to watch two people stumbling around in the dark who claim the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Paul never changed the Gospel. Let me say that again beloved -- Paul never changed the Gospel. Sure he might begin talking about things that were relevant to his audience and we should strive for connectivity as well as speakers but there must be a non-negotiable Gospel that is preached. You see what Carey and Andy are saying is that we need to alter the Gospel message so as to not offend someone they think might be "seeking." Stanley's mentor, Rick Warren' once taught pastors to not preach the Gospel on Easter Sunday so the unsaved listeners would "have a reason to come back." We are not supposed to change the Gospel according to culture. The same Gospel that saved the man in Athens during Paul's day is the same Gospel that saved a British soldier during the Revolutionary War and the same Gospel that saved me over a decade ago at a Pentecostal Church in New York. The Gospel transcends time and culture. It overcomes the world and is not beholden to it.
1. Your Voice Is No Longer The Only Voice. Just a generation ago, the majority of people went to church, North American culture was at least nominally Christian, there was no internet, information was harder to come by, and most people simply trusted what they heard from their local pastor. In some cases, the pastor was the most educated and most listened to person in the community, and certainly in a church attender's life. It could hardly be more different today. The internet means you can learn about anything, anytime, anywhere. And people do. Of course, you know all of this, but in most churches, we still behave like it wasn't true. Most of the people who attend your church and everyone you're trying to reach has googled their way to an opinion on almost everything. They've binged listened to Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, and a host of others, and come to you with pre-formed opinions on almost everything. It's not just going away to college that crumbles faith anymore. Many teens and young adults have YouTubed and Reddited their way to their own views on God, Jesus, spirituality and the church. Do all of these views hold water? Of course not. But that doesn't stop people from holding them." -- Carey Nieuwhof
It is true that the expansion of media and social media means more competition for our attention. It does mean that as pastors we need to be even more careful lest someone Google what we say and discover we have erred. The reference to college crumbling faith is the exact complaint that Andy Stanley had when he abandoned the sufficiency and infallibility of Scripture. He said he was tired of seeing his youth come back from college as atheists because science crumbled their faith. His mistake was in assuming his youth were saved from all of the pizza parties and veggie tales they must have received at Andy's church. When you compromise the Gospel, no one gets saved. If people hold contrary views then the Gospel will expose that. Many will fall away as the bible has said. Narrow is the way beloved; narrow.
"2. Hostility is Giving Way to Indifference. If you look at the way many Christians are approaching the culture today, you'd think the church is under siege from critics. And in some respects, that's true. But look more deeply, and you'll see the real issue isn't hostility, it's indifference. And indifference is a much harder issue to deal with. Hostility means the person angry with you is still engaged. Indifference means you've lost them"at least for now. Indifference is a very different opponent than disagreement or hostility. Maybe it's rooted in the fact that the church has largely stopped caring about the world. And when the church no longer cares about the world, it should be no surprise that the world no longer cares about the church." -- Carey Nieuwhof
I am unsure what church Nieuwhof is seeing but the church in America is enraptured with the world. It gazes fondly at Sodom as Lot once did. It loves the excess and the sin Sodom has to offer. It loves that it controls the levers of power in through religion. This is the result of poor teachings and the infiltration of the NAR through the purpose driven industrial complex. Stopped caring about the world? The entire church is now revolving around the world, trying to not offend the world and desperately seeking approval from the world.
"3. People Are Looking for Love"Not Judgment. A lot of Christians are upset with the cultural changes that have happened in the last decade. And I'm not saying we shouldn't be alarmed. But it seems like our response to the culture is to judge it. I think that's God's job. If God so loved the world, who gave Christians permission to hate it? When someone attends your church (and mine), they're hoping to find Jesus. And underneath it all, they're hoping to find love. Too often, they tell us, they find self-righteousness, judgment, arrogance, and indifference. It's heartbreaking. Andy's argument about love is compelling because it really is the heart of our faith. In fact, I seem to recall both Jesus and the Apostle Paul saying that without it we don't have anything. And it creates this tragic irony: the love that is so palpably absent from so many churches is the very thing the world is searching for. Before you get defensive, ask yourself this question: when was the last time you stood in line hoping someone would judge you? Exactly. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy." -- Carey Nieuwhof
The very first word of the ministry of Jesus Christ was repent. I guess He had a terrible evangelism strategy. This is all humanistic gobbledygook. This is the premise off the sloppy agape preaching of Andy Stanley. Love without the Gospel is no love at all. The modern church is going to love millions of people right into hell. As for the bible butchering when it says God so loved the world, it is obviously talking about the people not the world itself. When the Apostle Paul speaks about love in the referent it is in relation to the spiritual gifts, not what Carey is thinking. Now I do agree that the church can get very judgmental regarding the sins of the world. That blocks the Gospel message. The answer however can never be love that refuses to expose their sin and demand repentance from it. There is no love in that.
"4. The Church Increasingly Feels Like a Club To Which No One Is Invited. As the culture becomes more and more post-Christian, a growing number of people aren't sure how to even engage church. The sign on the lawn might say "All Welcome," but that doesn't really register. Think about it: if you're a practicing Christian, how comfortable would you be randomly walking into a mosque next weekend, or a synagogue, or a Buddhist Temple? Right. First, you'd think you need an invitation to go"that new people aren't welcome. Second, you're not even sure when they meet, how to dress, what the customs are, what to do, where to go. The list is endless. So it's really no mystery as to why truly post-modern, post-Christian people aren't flocking to most churches. As someone who lives in a country (Canada) that is 20-30 years more post-Christian than America, I can assure you that, to outsiders, churches seem more and more like private clubs to which no one is invited. The bridge, of course, is a personal invitation. And that invitation is only likely going to be effective if the person you're inviting likes you and loves you. And that brings us back the previous point. It's really hard for non-Christians to believe you love them if you behave like you don't like them." - Carey Nieuwhof