And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. -- Acts 2: 42-47 (ESV)
Churchianity is a billion dollar enterprise across this world beloved. Mega-churches, cult of personality pastors, and international record labels are the fuel that keeps this cash cow producing. If anyone tries to mess with the product the complex reacts to defend the brand at all cost. Even if you are caught in a serious scandal the complex will always push for your swift return through a bogus "restoration" usually overseen by other members of the complex. If you have proven you can make money then you can bet that restoration will be blessedly brief. That is how someone like Todd Bentley was "restored" by Bill Johnson, so shortly after divorcing his wife to marry the secretary he was having an affair with. That is how someone like Mark Driscoll can have a new church with the ashes from his last church are still smoldering. You stole $250,000 to cheat the NY Times bestseller list? No worries. You openly mocked the people you hurt in ministry by referring to them as a "pile of dead bodies." Hey we forgive you. Now get back out there and make some money for Jesus, wink wink.
One of the most popular mega-church cult of personality pastors for the complex is Andy Stanley. A strict Rick Warren adherent, Stanley is fond of promoting the notion that we should not use the term shepherd anymore because it is no longer culturally relevant. Not a surprise since Andy does not adhere to the value of Scripture anymore. He preached last year that we needed to convince our kids with carnal arguments why the bible is right instead of relying on biblical inerrancy. He followed that blasphemy up this year by preaching that Christians needed to "unhitch" the Old Testament from their faith. Needless to say, Andy received a fair amount of proper scorn for such ludicrous statements and teachings. The complex was a little silent on the matter. That is until now. The above link is to church growth guru Carey Nieuwhof. We often spotlight Nieuwhof because of the utter carnality he offers up as Christian leadership advice. One view of his webpage reveals so much that is wrong with the church today. Getting advice from the world about how to run the church. So the story linked above is Nieuwhof trying to tell us why Andy Stanley is right. Let's walk through the depraved mind trying to prop up the indefensible positions of Andy Stanley.
"If you want to reach post-Christian, post-modern people--in other words, the next generation--how do you do it, effectively? Although you might not know it if you just perused social media, the majority of churches are plateaued or dying. And even among growing churches, not all growth is coming from people with no church background. Some--not all, but some--growing churches are just consolidating the Christians who are still around and giving them a new place to gather. If you really analyzed what percentage of churches are truly attracting post-modern, post-Christian people, you might be a little surprised at how low that number is. Three typical responses to this problem include taking pot-shots at growing churches, criticizing church leaders and lamenting about how bad current culture is. But none of these responses is in any way productive. So, instead, what if we focused on the real issue, namely, figuring out what it takes to reach people who don't know Jesus?" -- Carey Nieuwhof
As always the foundation of the complex is built upon shoddy terrain that is simply unbiblical. Their established belief is that there are so many people out there just seeking after God and our responsibility as the church is make the connection as painless as possible for them. That is biblically absurd because we know that none seek after God. Sure we may get to low points in our life but Romans teaches us that salvation is achieved only through the preached Gospel. What is the first thing that gets compromised in the seeker friendly system? The Gospel. Churches are dying because people are not stupid. The average time spent in a mega-church is just under three years because by then most have figured out the scam. When you can get the church entertainment at the local club and the sermons from YouTube motivational speakers you soon realize that you do not need to get up early on a Sunday. Others realize after reading their bible for a couple of years that they are simply being sold a false bill of goods. I place the blame squarely where it belongs -- on people like Carey Nieuwhof and false pastors like Andy Stanley for not understanding that the only thing that can reach people who don't know Jesus is the Gospel.
"That's why I'm so grateful for Andy Stanley's recent contributions to the conversation. Andy's new book, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New That Jesus Unleashed on the World, does a deep dive into exploring the kind of message Christians need to focus on to connect with unchurched and de-churched people. You can listen to an interview I did with Andy on his new approach to apologetics here. Whether or not you agree with everything Andy says in the book (Andy's had a few critics as he's made his arguments), what the critics seem to miss is that the current generation of church leaders is losing the conversation with non-Christians. In fact, often, we're not even in the conversation anymore. That's why what Andy has to say is so valuable. We need to change the conversation because the current conversation is making less of a difference every day. Something fundamental is changing in our culture, and many Christian leaders are missing it. Arguing among ourselves or rehashing apologetic approaches from generations ago isn't going to reverse the growing indifference Christians face when we share our faith. Radically different times demand radically different approaches. The apostle Paul varied his approach depending on his audience. Speaking to Greeks in Athens required a different line of argument than speaking with Jews. I think Andy is right in sounding the cultural alarm bells that our current approach isn't working. Here are five reasons what a lot of us are doing today won't advance the mission the way we hope tomorrow." -- Carey Nieuwhof