“The problem in our day, which gives rise to highly questionable church growth methods, is twofold: On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions.
The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves. In such a cultural climate, preaching on the law, sin and repentance, and the cross has all but disappeared, even in evangelical churches. The church has become “user friendly,” “consumer oriented,”…
Today’s “gospel” is all too often a gospel without cost, without repentance, without commitment, without discipleship, and thus “another gospel” and accordingly no gospel at all, all traceable to the fact that this is how too many people today have come to believe that the church must be grown.
On the other hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in preaching as the means by which the gospel is to be spread. As a result, preaching is giving way in evangelical churches to multimedia presentations, drama, dance, “sharing times,” sermonettes, and “how to” devotionals. Preaching is being viewed increasingly as outdated and ineffective. Business techniques like telemarketing are now popular with the church growth movement. Churches so infected also look to the multiplication of programs to effect their growth.
So what is the answer to this problem?
Remember who’s work it is when it comes to the church: it is Christ‘s work.
A restored confidence in the Reform[ation] doctrine of the sovereignty of God in salvation!
When polished, self-confident preachers draw attention to themselves by using music, or story-telling, or hysteria or hype, or appeal to their viewers’ “sense of worth” in order to produce “decisions,” it is evident that they do not understand the depravity of humanity, either their own or their audiences, or they would not act this way. Why do I say that?
Because a Biblical experiential understanding of the depravity of man and the necessity of God’s sovereign initiative in salvation produces humility and the very antithesis of human self-confidence, namely, confidence in God alone. Ministers of the gospel should read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 carefully and let Paul instruct them anew that the truth of God’s election destroys human pride and removes all boast before God.
They should be reminded that only God can convert a sinner, that only God can grow a saint, that no one can boast in this matter of salvation because God does it all (see 1 Cor. 3:5-7). Neither the preacher nor the convert can take any credit. Salvation is all God’s doing. “It is because of him that we are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30; see Phil. 1:28).
Accordingly, they can rest assured that one can preach the simple, unadorned, unglamorized, unglittered gospel message of the cross, knowing God will use it to save souls and build the church.”
A fairly accurate pinpointing of the problem with a great solution don’t you think?
- Wandering From The Right Path (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)