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September 15, 2006

Everybody! Everybody!

There’s an awesome post called “Sacrifice vs. Obedience” over at centuri0n’s blog.  It’s about evangelistic outreach events.   Must read it and think about “traditional vs. seeker vs. missional” again.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bethlen Gabor permalink
    September 16, 2006 10:42 am

    Great article, and I’ve got thots on it. But I lack the context of your discussion on this, so I’ll hold back for a bit and see how the conversation develops.

  2. September 18, 2006 11:45 am

    Wow! quite a conversation has developed. Well, General Gabor, you want to dump your thoughts on us anyway and see if you bring out the lurkers?

  3. Son of Matt permalink
    September 18, 2006 12:27 pm

    I mostly agree with the article… I think that an evangelistic event can definately be used to cover over an unwillingness to do personal evangelism. But, to give those that want to plan such a thing a little credit, it seems possible (especially around here), that such a thing could be seen as a “better than nothing” attempt. Which is (perhaps)… better than nothing.

    I imagine that most people we know desire to do evangelism, but the truth is… evangelism is hard. There are time, and courage, and confidence issues. It is on the list of priorities, but unfortunately, it falls to number 11. I don’t know about you all, but the best I can typically manage is to get through the top 7 or so (and by then, it is already 11:30pm and I am already messing with a successful tomorrow).

    I like the idea of being a missional church. I think that makes the most sense at both defining who we have been and who we are supposed to be. And I would love to see us doing evangelism, joining the bowling leagues, inviting people to Small group, etc. I suppose some might fall in the sacrifice-rather-than-obey camp, but more likely in the okay-I-failed-but-am-willing-to-repent-and-try-again-tomorrow camp.

    May the Lord bless us with efficiency at fulfilling our priorities and a great love for the gospel and our neighbors that results in our caring for them more …

  4. Bethlen Gabor permalink
    September 21, 2006 8:51 pm

    Okay. I’ll give it a try, though my thoughts aren’t lining up well tonight.

    First of all: The quote about using good things to avoid obedience is brilliant. It leaves me a bit saddened because I think that this is a pervasive practice among American churches today. It has become our (that is, “us” as the visible church in the West today) common practice to approach God in ways that we find comforting, rather than (or in explicit defiance of) ways that have been revealed in the scriptures.

    An example that I witnessed was a pair of addresses given in a denominational gathering of a generally-faithful Presbyterian denomination. The first was a sermon addressing the sufficiency of Scripture by a nationally known preacher. It was a powerful defense of the Holy Spirit’s use of the humble means of preaching and teaching the Word to bring in His elect. A small part of the sermon addressed the means preferred by the “modern liturgist” (a term imported from a third source). Many of these means are not bad in themselves, but they are supplanting the means of grace that God has been pleased to commend for our use. By the end of the sermon, I was deeply moved. Then, immediately after, another minister got up and gave a short talk plugging a seminar teaching pastors to revitalize their ministries by making use of some of those exact methods addressed not 10 minutes before. I wanted to throw rocks, or at least ask the guy if he had been present for the previous sermon.

    There’s a word that no longer carries a serious meaning in our language. Idolatry. When the people of God became fearful at Moses’ delay on the mountain, they turned to worship of the True God by means of a golden calf. False worship of the true God. This, I think, is the pertinent lesson to draw from Centuri0n’s post, because this form of idolatry is rampant in the church today-no less in my own preferred denominations.

    The reason I hesitated to bring this out without some context is that I’m not sure exactly where the ideas of “traditional”, “seeker”, and “missional” fit into the application I draw from the article. If “traditional” means “doing it the old dead way because it’s the old dead way”, then I don’t buy into “traditional”. If traditional means adhering to the means of grace that have always been recognized by the church, then I can’t go any other way. If “seeker” means “play whatever games we have to play to make our worship “relevant” (whatever that means) to the spiritually dead”, then I say that this worship is idolatrous, even if well-meaning christians are doing it. AAron did it, and so do we. If “missional” worship means “worship and preach the gospel of Jesus in such a way that ‘if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you'”, then I’m a missional guy, though I think that such things are most often found among what most people might call a bit more “traditional”. But I’m not sure how these terms stack up when used by some to get at the precise nature of their worship, and by others to conceal it. So, by and large, I get sketchy around these terms. I prefer “confessional”, because that points to a specific view that I can investigate and validate against the Scriptures. I like “regulative” if and only if that term is tied to a rigorously exegetical method of determining right worship, as exemplified by the Reformers. The point is not that we have the exact same forms of worship as the New England Puritans, the point is that we apply the same rigor of exegesis in determining the most appropriate, the most glorifying, and (therefore) the most devotional way of worshipping our Lord. This is what should define a church, this should be the point in nailing down our theology, and this should be the theme that undergirds all our activities as a church. And insofar as a church pursues this faithfully, I think that our activities will remain more-or-less faithful.

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