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The Gospel According to Taylor Swift, No, Like Seriously

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If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. -- John 15: 19 (ESV)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, ley your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. -- Matthew 5: 14-16 (ESV)

Seen under the FAQ Section of "The Gathering" (church?) website:

Question - What can I expect the first time I visit?

Answer -- Let's see; great coffee, a relaxed atmosphere, the good feeling that comes from being around real people, a new t-shirt. Along with that, you can come knowing that we won't point you out or embarrass you.

Such is the sorry state of affairs in the church today. The Gathering, is allegedly a church located in North Carolina. A mega church built on the purpose driven heresy model, the Gathering does what most churches today do. They strive desperately to be relevant and hip to the culture around them. So what can you expect when you attend for the first time? Not the Gospel but a great cup of joe. Not the transformative power of Jesus Christ but a spiffy new t-shirt. Not conviction from sin but a snuggly atmosphere to relax in. You want to stay anonymous and hide in the back? Don't worry, we won't point you out and we will have you back in time for kickoff at your house. The problem The Gathering faces, as does every other seeker friendly church, is how to draw them in. How do you convince someone lost, blind and pitiful that they need to come in to your church? Especially when they think the things of God are utter foolishness to them? The answer is simple. You trick them. The ole charismatic two-step. You make your church relevant to them by appealing to their culture. The very culture that is already sending them straight to hell. So it seems with each passing week it seems that the purpose driven churches across this country are playing a game of "can you top this crazy." For this week's consideration, I present to you the latest upcoming three-part sermon series from Pastor Paul and The Gathering (with a shout out to Pirate Christian Radio, who tipped me off to this). From their website:

The Gospel According to Taylor Swift -- There aren't many voices in our culture that are more influential than Taylor Swift. Love her or hate her, her music is catchy and her lyrics captivating, In fact, we could argue that she is communicating with culture more effectively than most preachers, which leads us to ask the following question:

What would happen if the church used the message of culture to communicate a greater message to culture?

Come find out how Taylor Swift can actually help you point others to the Gospel of Jesus.

Beloved, you have no idea how much I hoped this was satire when I first saw it. After a summer that saw such riveting sermon topics as the spiritual lessons found in the movie, The Secret Lives of Pets; I was hoping to catch a small break from the heresy mill our church has become. But alas, no rest for the weary. I shouldn't have to explain why this is wrong on so many levels but it appears that I do. This has become the new normal in churches and people so readily eat it up like they are being fed deep nuggets of Biblical wisdom when they are being fed undiluted poison. Let us start by dissecting the extremely poor logic employed by The Gathering in even attempting such nonsense. Yes there are not many voices in our culture that are more influential than Taylor Swift. She is an immensely popular music star. What does that have to do with the body of Christ? Absolutely nothing. What should it mean to the body of Christ? Absolutely nothing. Take a good look at the first key verse for today. The world does not love us beloved. It hates us. Now, we are not called to hate them back but to show them the love of Jesus Christ. We are to show them a better way. A different way.

Next, Taylor Swift is more effective communicating with culture because she is communicating culture to them. While her songs are generally more family friendly than your average thrash metal band, they are still fleshly and cultural to carnality at their heart. Sappy love songs and the latest drama about the boy who she is never going to get back together with; like ever. The Gathering has however inadvertently discovered a serious flaw within the purpose driven mantra of trying to be relevant to culture. Preachers who lead churches that are partially sold out to the world cannot possibly better at communicating ravenous culture to the carnal mind than those who are actually sold out to it 100%. Taylor Swift should be able to communicate to the world the things of the world because the world loves her and she loves the world. The church however is supposed to be communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which saves people from out of the world. To the carnal mind that is an impossible sale unless the spirit draws and convicts. No matter how much you try to distract the world by pretending you relate to them you cannot sneak attack them with the Gospel. It doesn't work that way. Next, The Gathering asks the question:

What would happen if the church used the message of culture to communicate a greater message to culture?

I know the answer to that one! You can't. That is right beloved. You cannot use the devil to sell God to people who do not want to know Him. The average time someone spends in a mega church is less than three years. The reason why is they realize soon enough that the church is lying. It is pretending to be someone it is not. It is a marketing scheme that seeks to bring people in to give 10% of their salary and enlist them in free labor through the ruse of ministry. At the end of the day, if you draw people with Taylor Swift, only Taylor Swift will keep them. You can sprinkle a little Jesus here and little hallelujah there but at the end of the day you are still left with carnal goats that you try to teach to act like sheep. Why? Because you compromised the only thing that can actually save them and that is the Gospel. So you can preach that just like Taylor is never ever getting back with her boyfriend you must break up with the world and sin permanently, but that still means nothing to the carnal mind. It is not only foolishness but lunacy. The Gospel is not just a tag line. It is not some anecdote we attach to the end of some great illustration we think will resonate with the reprobate mind. The Bible is not meant to be a collection of cut off stories that have life lessons for us to glean. When we wield it as such, we can save no one because the Bible is not about us. It is about Him. It is about a God who was willing to sacrifice His only Son to be reconciled to His creation. In order to make it about us, we must remove God from the story. When we make David out to be us facing our giants we have removed Christ, who David actually represents. When we make the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy to be about how rich God wants to make us we remove Christ who became our lamb because we could never fulfill the requirements of that chapter under the law.

When the church uses the message of culture it cannot communicate effectively the greater message of the Gospel. Why? Because they are opposing forces. Now do not get me wrong. Cultural forces can teach cultural lessons. We can learn from the Star Wars movie series for example the worldly definition of sacrificing for the greater good. Perhaps from Taylor Swift we can learn about how much the world values independence and being strong willed. But these are all carnal and flawed by nature. For example, Han Solo from Star Wars is cast as the hero but he was also a scoundrel, a deadbeat, a pirate and a smuggler. Taylor sings passionately about never ever ever getting back together with some boy but that boy is out there somewhere and I am sure he has a different take on their relationship, for sure. The larger point is to take these worldly, temporal things and try and connect them to the eternal Gospel is simply not plausible. Taylor Swift sings of real life situations and the Gospel is dealing with overcoming this world and life. They are polar opposites beloved. That leaves us with the final part of The Gathering's pitch:

Come find out how Taylor Swift can actually help you point others to the Gospel of Jesus.

She can't. Not only that but if you asked her she would probably admit she cannot. The truly sad thing is God has someone at The Gathering whose job it is to point people to the Gospel of Jesus and he decided to punt the ball to Taylor Swift. Let us be honest beloved. Why would Pastor Paul do such a thing? Why would disgraced Perry Noble play Highway to Hell in a church service? Why would Hillsong have the Naked Cowboy at their Women's Conference? Why would Andy Stanley have his worship band play a sexually charged boy-band hit from the 1990's during corporate worship? Why would pastors do entire sermon series' on food, like David Crank did? Summer sermon series' based on summer movie blockbusters? Because they are not pastors. They are hirelings trying to grow their business.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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