INDULGENCE AND INDIFFERENCE
By Paul Proctor
September 3, 2008
What is it about today�s compromised church that compels certain pastors to emulate the world and call it �evangelism�? Is it to quiet their conscience and camouflage their own cravings? I think some have become so envious of the lost and the world we were called out of for Christ that they can�t help but gaze back at their old lives longingly like Lot�s wife looked back at Sodom.
The news these days seems to be chocked full of Christians trying all sorts of gimmicks and bribes to entice people into a churchianity that cannot save them � all the while convinced that the end justifies the means.
Case in point is a drive-through church near Nashville where you can wheel in on your way to work for some supplication and snacks as reported by The Tennessean:
Prayer doesn't always mean getting on your knees, and it doesn't have to take hours.
In fact, going to church can take only three minutes � at least when zipping through a drive-through.
Living Word Community Church has started a drive-through prayer program from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Friday at its new location in Antioch.
Visitors pull into the parking lot and can stay in their car, get a coffee and a doughnut, make a prayer request and be on their way to work or school.
But, is this really answering an individual�s deep spiritual need, or ignoring it? I mean, if someone is too busy to give God any more than three minutes of their day, how can they ever be expected to surrender their entire life to Jesus Christ?
There�s certainly nothing wrong with Christians making themselves available to pray with and for those who are hurting and reaching out for answers to the difficulties and perplexities of life. That�s a great place to start with one�s witness for Christ.
But is accommodating their apathy, aversions and appetites while disregarding their spiritual poverty and depravity really the answer? Are they not being taught by example an enabling type of spirituality that winks at waywardness and requires nothing of them � no personal responsibility or accountability to God?
Is this what has become of the postmodern church � a place to drop by and dump your garbage � grab some goodies and go? I wouldn�t call that a church � I�d call it a convenience center.
Tennessean staff writer, Rachel Stults reported that the senior pastor of the aforementioned fellowship, Rodney Beard, �came up with the idea after watching a TV show on drive-through weddings,� adding that, �he knew there might be a market for people with busy lives.�
Is that what Jesus suffered and died for � a market?
The report went on to say: �The program has become appealing to people who are dealing with heartache, pain or sorrow, but may not have time or feel comfortable going to a Sunday church service,� quoting Beard as saying "So many people are fed up with the whole concept of church, of being judged��
I can�t help but wonder when the Lord will be fed up with our �whole concept of church.�
Jesus had time to be mocked, beaten and crucified for our sins � and yet we�re going to turn the Bread of Life into fast food?
How comfortable do you suppose our Lord was hanging on that cross? We certainly don�t have to attend Sunday services to feel �judged,� do we? But I dare say the judgments we face day to day here on Earth will pale in comparison to the Judgment that is coming for those who refuse to repent.
Then there was this little benevolent bargain found in The Christian Post:
Carol Umsted got more than the word of God during services this summer at the Congregational United Church of Christ of Valley City.
She also got $50 worth of free gas, thanks to winning a raffle. For the local farmer, it was a nice side benefit, at a time when gas was more than $4 a gallon.
Churches nationwide are making similar offers, ranging from gas card raffles to 99-cent gas sales at local stations, to boost attendance during the vacation season and attract new members.
According to the report by Blake Nicholson from The Associated Press, ��the Rev. Carl Borden, pastor of the congregation, said the overriding goal is to have a little fun and remind people that the church is there,� quoting him as saying: �It's a method of marketing for the church."
Again with the marketing!
And their �overriding goal is to have a little fun�?
Is that Jesus� overriding goal for sinners?
Did the Apostle Paul ever mention this sort of thing in any of his epistles? Did the early church ever speak to the importance of fun and games? I wonder how many Christians have been martyred for their amusements?
And finally, the Arizona Daily Star reports on a pastor in Tucson who wants to put the sexy back in Southern Baptist:
A Web site with a name like Puresextucson.com is not something you'd expect a Southern Baptist pastor to brag about.
But not only is 27-year-old Jeremiah McDuffie flaunting the site � he created it.
McDuffie sent not-so-subtle mailers this week to 35,000 Tucson homes: postcards showing a photo of four feet peeking out from under bedcovers in a suggestive pose.
He also took out full-page advertisements in two local newspapers.
McDuffie, pastor of The Element Community Church, explains that he wants Tucsonans to know that God wants them to have good sex.
Yes, if the mainstream media and its marketing masters have taught us anything, it�s that sex sells. So, while the world goes to Hell in a hand basket, this church is going to focus their attention on the bedroom.
What a testimony to our Christian values and priorities.
Friends, I don�t enjoy focusing on the negatives. Frankly, stuff like this makes me sick. It�s not about bringing down the brethren or who�s more pious than whom. It�s about waking the church out of the stupor and stupidity that has so seduced us away from the scriptures. It�s about stopping all this carnal nonsense being carried out in the name of Christ that distracts and defeats us daily and getting back to the Gospel we were called to proclaim and the �foolishness of preaching.�
That�s not a very marketable plan � but it is our calling.
There are souls at stake here and Christians need to remember that where sin is concerned, indulgence and indifference do not result in repentance and faith.
Now if you don�t see anything wrong with the �whatever works� and �whatever it takes� approach to ministry and you still believe the end justifies the means, I would invite you to click on the three links below for a little peek at the perils of pragmatism and what is now being called �Christian.�
I�ll spare any additional commentary and just let the videos speak for themselves:
�For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.� � 1st Corinthians 1:21