Thursday, November 20, 2008

Content, leadership, individualism

I was listening today to an interview with John MacArthur: In answering one question,
MacArthur made the point that what he had to defend when he was in school was vastly different than today's battle. Today's has to do with the 'sufficiency' of the scriptures. Not whether the bible is accurate and God-inspired, but whether it's really all we need, if it's sufficient.
True expository preaching has lost interest among many today, expository meaning 'to explain'. Of course there are a lot of churches that, even whole denominations like Calvary Chapels' that teach verse by verse thru the scriptures, yet to listen to many people that claim to do this it becomes immediately obvious that's NOT what they are doing. It's not hard to go through a whole book and not REALLY explain it, but use each verse as a starter for a sermon on something different (this i have seen so many times).
Expository preaching demands CONTENT, it demands MEAT!!! Now I FOR ONE am bored to tears by good doctrine that comes from a dead heart, there should be FIRE coming forth, blazing each TRUTH. I believe in VISIBLE passion (which definitely looks different in different types of people). Yet I'm also equally sick and TIRED of sermons full of SMOKE, full of emotional excitement and shooting out the same 10 unrelated memorized verses for every message.
Conrad Mbewe at the trueChurch conf two years ago, answered to the question 'what's the difference between preaching the text and preaching your thoughts' "Well if you just give people your thoughts then they will leave thinking about you, and if you preach the word then they will be thinking of Christ (the word)".
In other words: CONTENT, SUBSTANCE, something to feed on, something to chew; rather than a quick dessert, sweet and FLUFFY.
I believe more than ever that what ails the church is hyper-individualism, which has much to do with the SUFFICIENCY of Scripture. Which in turn has affected many peoples view towards the role of the church and the role of leaders. Churches are no longer looked at as places of instruction, but places of activity. Many churches resemble country clubs (not like I've been to one of those), or YMCA's and in turn the Leaders are more like activity directors, not teachers of the word.
This has been much on my mind and i plan to post more later, but i wonder what most people would respond to the question 'why do you go to church?' or 'what do you look for in a church?' unfortunately I bet the answer for the mos part will be unscriptural. Strip a church of everything that it doesn't need, or better yet in a viciously persecuted land what could they NOT do without? 1.BELIEVERS 2.LEADERS TO TEACH THE WORD: it's NOT just a gathering, but a gathering that is also ADMINISTERED by SHEPHERDS, would you question that? Consider than what Ephesians says are GIFTS to the CHURCH from CHRIST; BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP (MEN OF ONE BOOK).
So if people don't go to be fed the word then what else do they go for? routine (we've always gone to church here), comfort (not too convicting), community (i get along with these people, they accept me), significance (i get to be "involved" in something), freedom (no one bothers me here, only God can judge me), peace and security (i always feel better after a service) and the list could go on, but the point is 'what does GOd have to say about the church?'
The problem is that the whole purpose of Christ giving gifts to the church, the whole purpose for Paul writing to the churches would all be for nothing if we ALL didn't need consistent sound preaching. Preaching is a unique means of God that confronts believers and unbelievers alike for the benefit of their souls. A great many don't even notice that they are missing something, they don't demand better because they have never been exposed to it or they don't care. Yet when they here good preaching they think 'wow this person is a uniquely gifted man of God' when in fact, they aren't unique it's just that they are truly called and qualified for the office whereas many would bless their churches by stepping down and doing something else.
Activity has consumed the modern church, and their are countless people who never get fed the pure milk of Gog, because they are so busy filling all the so-called needs in the church. Men, women, and children were more equipped with truth, and more distinct from the world, when the church didn't have all these needless ministries. For all our gadgets, all our technology, and all our make-believe 'ministries' we are no better, we're only seeing each generation becoming weaker and weaker.
TOO many authorities has also PLAGUED the church and has added to this individualism. I mean all the para-church ministries and even the Christian music world. Here you have all these ministries and the worst of them have no clear intention to preach the gospel regularly, but operate as good-works clubs or cleaned-up versions of any and all worldly amusements. Yet they have created such a mindset that 'you don't need the church, you don't need that type of accountability'. So what happens is that some guy or gal, starts some thing (coffee shop, clothing line, holy hockey club, God-golf, Christ-Chess ministry, Christian video gamers, etc....) but seriously even missions should be church based: well the leader (president or ceo) then goes around speaking in pulpits and conferences and people begin to look at these people like pastors. They become their own authority, and they have decided to put themselves in that position. This can also apply to musicians (why you should be aware and beware who your children listen to---even CHRISTIANS) because too many have incredibly WEAK theology, but they often speak like they have really studied the scriptures and their fans buy into it. I could also include all the storytellers out there, who have an amazing gift to write; yet who rather than tell stories, use their gifts to promote water-downed, sprinkled with scripture fairy tales and people are buying it, they eat this junk food and then their appetite is SPOILED (not liking tough meat).
Even EVANGELISTS, the majority of faithful evangelists (even those who had little education, which doesn't mean they did not know the word) the one's who have stood the test of time in REAL FRUITFULNESS are FIRST theologians then SOULWINNNERS. Yet today when you hear evangelist, most immediately picture a Billy Graham crusade: that my friend is weaker in content then most children's Sunday schools-please be slow to disagree on this one because Billy has "on the record" said countless statements that are embarrassing to repeat (heretical statements, compromising statements). I suppose these examples and many more could be accredited for the attitude of many within the church today.
It would be my desire that more people would start asking the right questions, and searching the scriptures for the right answers. It would be my desire that many leaders examine what they do in church and why they do it, and also for them to take an inventory of all the 'busy' underfed people in their church and ensure they get to be under the teaching of the word.
Teens especially; all the churches that weren't small and had much activity going on, always had teens involved and without exception the teens that volunteered the most, were the teens that needed to be under the teaching of the word the most; yet this is exactly what happens when activity becomes supreme, when the need to fill spots becomes more important than the need to feed the sheep.
Peter was told to feed the sheep, the great commission is about "teaching them everything..", their must be a concern for CONTENT, their must be a cry going forth 'we WANT MEAT'.
Now that's an idea, maybe i'll start a protest, and we'll make signs like 'WE WANT MEAT' 'NO MORE BREASTMILK' 'NO MORE GOOFS, GIVE US THE TRUTH' and we'll stand on the church corners of America on SUNDAY morning!!!!!!!!!!!
Yet i have seen and heard many comment of such an uproar of men, that are begging God for such teachers, men and women desperate for truth and devouring it where-ever they can find it, i pray in the years to come we'll see a remarkable number of solid Christ-centered PREACHING churches established by such men (may i be counted worthy to be a part of that).

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