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Devotionals

Marketing Jesus -- Schemes When the Gospel Just Isn't Enough

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But it is even worse than that beloved. Ministry Pass will also provide you with sermon series'. No longer does a pastor need to seek the Holy Spirit to see what God might want to say to His people. For instance, you can get a three week political sermon series called The Red and the Blue, which includes a Sermon Series Guide, Illustration and Talking Point Ideas, Facebook Cover Image, Photoshop Layers and a Five Minute Countdown Video. There are pages upon pages of these. A six week sermon series on Colossians or a four week series about money when tithing seems to be dipping too low to handle your "vision." You can even get a step by step guide for promoting your Easter services!

A trip through the blog posts from Paul Trapp reads like a content list from Rick Warren. How to turn your volunteers into leaders. Seven ways to boost giving at your church. What churches can learn from failing businesses. Why pastors are entrepreneurs. He considers preaching, worship and facilities as 'products" that you sell as a pastor. In one post he considers the Parable of the Sower as lessons in church marketing. In another he lists the 30 Christian leaders we should be following on Twitter and they include false teachers such as Christine Caine, Andy Stanley, Priscilla Shirer, Louis Giglio, as well as Seventh Day Adventist Ben Carson. A different post declares that your Christmas and Easter services are just like Black Friday. In a post entitled "How to Keep Your Audience Engaged During a Message," Trapp suggests using props and visuals. The Gospel is never enough.

Ironically enough, one of the more recent posts was called, "The Real Reason Why Pastors Are So Worn Out." I know the answer to that one! For Trapp it is because you are not developing leaders well enough or fast enough to share some of the burden but perhaps the real reason is trying so hard within our own carnal wisdom to do a job that is actually God's responsibility:

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)

Do you see that last part beloved? The Lord adds to the number those being saved. Not the pastor. The pastors devote themselves to the apostle's teaching and the fellowship. To breaking bread and prayer. In short; the pastor is responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep entrusted to him and God is responsible for the horizontal growth of the congregation. This is flipped on its ears however by the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex and the Purpose Driven Church theories of church growth. Pastors today are taught they are responsible for the horizontal growth of their church through some sort of "vision." So much so that they no longer have time to actually grow the sheep vertically. You know, to shepherd them. Mega church heretic Andy Stanley is on record as preaching that the word shepherd should not even be used anymore.

In closing let us consider the words of the Apostle Paul from our key verses today. He understood the charge that had been laid before him. It was not to "wow" the crowds. In those days the art of speech craft was as revered as our modern day social media. Yet Paul knew that what mattered was the Gospel and only the Gospel. That the act of merely adding eloquent wisdom would actually empty the cross of its power. Think about that for a moment beloved. The power of the cross is simply put the salvation of men. Anything added to it corrupts it. Anything that distracts from it, even if well intended, will only serve to empty it of its power. That includes the wisdom of pre arranged talking points of social relevance. It includes detracting from it with carnal tales of Captain America.

The people in the world are not unchurched beloved. They are unsaved. They need the Gospel. They need the power of the cross. If it seems boring or uninteresting to the unregenerate heart, so be it. Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents; not when a hundred goats return to church next week. You cannot ambush people with the Gospel. You cannot talk about the power of last Jedi for ten minutes and then transition into the power of the one true God. It does not work like that. Leave the Hulk at the movies and the power at the cross. Jesus does not need to be marketed. He needs to be preached.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 7, 2016

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