Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If You Preach It They Will Come

     What is it that really brings people to church?  What are they looking for?  Is it the style of music, the type of clothes they can wear, "seeker" friendly or "high church" formality?  These questions came to mind after reading Carl Trueman's critique ("The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie") of Andy Stanley's book "Deep and Wide:  Creating Churches that Unchurched People Love to Attend".  Included in his critique was an excerpt from Stanley's book that seemed to be a microcosm of some of his beliefs.  I am reprinting one paragraph from his book that Carl Trueman quotes:  "People are far more interested in what works than what's true.  I hate to burst your bubble but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. Including your spouse.  They are on happiness quests.  As long as you are dishing out truth with no 'here's the difference it will make' tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church, student ministry, or home Bible study.  You may be spot on theologically, like the teachers of the Law in Jesus' day, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority.  Worse, no one is going to want to listen to you."  (The entire critique and further passages from his book Kindle pgs. 1216-1234 can be found at www.reformation21.org ).
     After reading the review of the book, I found it hard to believe what Andy Stanley had written.  People are not interested in the truth?  Only a happiness quest?  I am on the quest for the truth and as for my husband, he is too.  Sorry Andy, hate to burst your bubble but there are some people who attend church to hear the truth from God's Word preached.  In fact the Bible substantiates the way people actually come to have a relationship with the Lord - through preaching!  Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, 17:  "H
ow then will they call on Him, in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ."  As I read it, Paul is telling us that preaching is the means through which the message of salvation is imparted.  Nowhere in this passage does he discuss music type, relaxed dress codes, or a "seeker" friendly environment.  
     Where I believe that mega churches and "wannabe" mega churches often miss the mark is in thinking that we have to be like our culture in order to bring people into the church.  Whatever happened to the conviction that the church is meant to be different than the culture?  Worship services
The Cathedral in York, England
are meant for believers to come in reverence before the Lord to hear God's Word preached so that we may then go out and tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, none of us (this includes pastors) causes another to become a Christian.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of that person.
Holding rock concerts, bringing in some form of entertainment, or adapting to the culture in terms of dress may bring people, but what are they coming for?  They are coming for the entertainment or the concert.  This is why many of the "mega" churches have as many people leaving the back door as they have coming in the front door.
     My contention is that when the Word of God is faithfully preached, people will come, the sheep will be fed and in turn, the sheep will bring in others to hear that Word as well as share it with their neighbors.  This past week alone, I heard from two different people who came into our office that one couple in our church invited both of them to attend.  They came and were blessed because the Word of God was proclaimed and people were friendly to them.
     Jesus never said that everyone would believe.  He told us to:  "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 25:19-20a).  In order to make disciples, we must make certain new believers are taught the Word and encouraged to put down deep roots.  Jesus did not play to the culture.  He came to clarify the Law which the Pharisees had misinterpreted.
The most effective means of bringing in new believers is through the preaching and teaching of God's Word.  Then, we must leave the results up to God who is the One who changes hearts.
     In closing, let us be reminded of the power that is in the Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12-13 says:  "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eye of Him to whom we must give account."  To this I say, "If you preach it, they will come...drawn by God's Spirit to a place where truth is taught."  May we pray for our pastors as they fulfill this call to preach the whole counsel of God and may we pray for reformation in our churches that all of us may go seeking the truth...not happiness.  Selah!
   

2 comments:

RayC said...

Yes! Pray for pastors!

Barbara Thayer said...

Yes....we do pray for you and all pastors that preach the Word of God! We have been very blessed by your sermon series! God's Word never will return void! Thank you for staying true to the call God has given to you!!!