Thursday 27 December 2007

Preaching the Word, not presenting entertainment

I took this photo when I returned to Indiana (USA) in 2005 where I lived with my family in 1984 while doing postdoctoral research at Indiana University. This small Mennonite Church had at least one thing right. Churches are to expect strangers. But I also want to suggest in this post that their task is not to transform themselves so that strangers will feel immediately at home.

As someone who writes a Blog devoted to apologetics and the presentation of Christian truth to others, I'm keen to discuss how the church can do this better. I have always felt that transforming church services into events that non-Christians would be happy with is not the way to go and have argued against this approach in every church I have attended. Even though, I visited one of these churches as an atheist at age 31 and in just 3 weeks believed in the claims of Jesus.

I'm grateful to Puritan Lad for pointing to this YouTube exchange between RC Sproul and Al Mohler on the problems with the Seeker Sensitive service. It supports my view on the matter (and we all like to have our views supported!) but there is wisdom here. RC argues that the thinking behind such services is fundamentally wrong as the concept misses the point of the purpose of the church service, as well as the purpose for which 'seekers' come to church. He argues that seekers don't come to church seeking Christ but rather trying to escape pain, looking for peace, happiness, wanting voids in their lives filled etc. Sproul is not suggesting that we lose interest in evangelism. Rather he suggests that the priority is not providing services that cater to what seekers see as their needs. Instead, church services are events where believers come together corporately as part of our all of life worship of God. These events will include instruction, edification of God, the Lord's Supper, sharing our lives, confessing our sins, praising God, prayer, singing etc. The core and foundation of this worship together will be the preaching of the word! The hope is that as 'strangers' share in this they will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and place their faith in Christ.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12).

Trusting in the power of God's word rather than human techniques and strategies is the answer. As Al Mohler says in the video, churches that miss this point will have much bigger back doors than front doors. Hopefully when strangers visit our churches the preaching of the Word of God in the power of the Spirit will make them feel uncomfortable enough to seek God's truth and accept Christ as Lord and Saviour.


See later posts on worship and Christian assembly here and here


Puritan Lad said...

Hey Trevor,

Love the blog. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

I think this is a helpful insight into what you are thinking about-Roger (just browsing and found you)

Anonymous said...

Also this

Trevor Cairney said...

Just returned to my computer after a few days away. Thanks for your feedback PL and for your suggestions "Anonymous". I will follow up the links as soon as I get a chance.