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By Paul Proctor
May 3, 2003
It occurred to me we Christians might just be missing out on the next great opportunity for church growth. We could achieve so much more than we do today if we weren’t so stingy and inhibited by tradition. We’ve been offering a lot of things to bring in the “unchurched” over the past decade or so from food courts to tennis courts, coffee shops to gift shops and pop rock to hip-hop. The list goes on. But now, brothers and sisters, its time to rally the troops and raise that bar once again or the church will lose the next generation of “seekers” to a lifetime of secular Sundays.
If we are willing to sacrifice our stale old ways, we could offer such “seeker sensitive” innovations as an open bar for Christian drinkers, live Christian dance bands, stage shows and karaoke for the party crowd – tarot card readings and séances for the more spiritually diverse “seeker” – Christian dating services for area singles – tattoos for teens – a fully furnished computer and interactive game room for the neighborhood youth and of course, adults seeking after hours surfing, (wink-wink) – an exciting Christian casino for all the adventurous gamblers among us and a church lottery and bingo parlor for those of fixed incomes and limited mobility. Add to that a round-the-clock all-you-can-eat buffet, movie theater, swimming pool, sauna, massage parlor and bowling alley and you’re well on your way to some serious exponential growth! All we need is a catchy name for it and a generous financial commitment in writing from all the members to kick it off.
But you know, if it’s church growth we’re really after here, pragmatism being our guiding principle, why are we going to so much trouble to draw in the “unchurched? Look at all the contention and division it causes among the brethren to organize, coordinate, build and implement so many cutting-edge programs, activities and structures.
Here’s a better idea. Couldn’t we save ourselves a lot of hassle and grief by simply taking a percentage of our tithes and offerings each week and just pay the “unchurched” to drop by for an hour or so on Sunday to hear some good news? That’s right – I mean offer them cold hard cash for their time and trouble – let’s say half down when they first arrive and the rest when the hour’s up. Sure it’s bribery but let’s not be legalistic here. After all it IS for Jesus and results are the primary objective. Remember; Let’s not question what God is blessin’!
Think about it. Who would pass up free money in a materialistic culture like this? Oh, it might take a little time to get the price right for some folks but I seriously doubt there’d be very many that wouldn’t put up with a little Christian psychobabble and fellowship for an hour or so if we paid them enough. I don’t know why somebody hasn’t thought of this already. The numbers would be incredible!
OK I’m being absurd. But I hope you see my point. If your objection is only with the various “innovations” I suggested, then you HAVE missed the point. Jesus didn’t offer to feed the five thousand that day IF they would stop and listen to Him. He fed them because they were already there. He had compassion on them knowing they were hungry. He fed them because they were unable to feed themselves out on that mountain while being nourished by the Word of God.
He didn’t heal the sick or work miracles to draw crowds. Instead, He commanded many of those he healed to keep their silence so mobs of people wouldn’t search Him out and follow Him around for the mere physical benefits He could provide.
Here’s my point. JESUS NEVER BRIBED ANYONE to listen to Him, follow Him or become His disciple. So why is the church bribing “seekers” today? From youth groups to senior adults, from fun and games to worshiptainment, from pizza to Pepsi and yoga to jazzercise, Christians are bribing the lost into their “worship centers”, fellowship halls and recreational facilities as if THAT was the great commission! And if they COME for the wrong reasons, they’ll probably STAY for the wrong reasons and leave without hesitation when the party’s over, the hard times come and church ceases being fun and games. Are THESE the kind of “Christians” your church is manufacturing in such vast numbers that so many boast about these days?
“…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” - Galatians 6:7
Think about this: If you sell someone a false gospel and a happy-go-lucky Jesus then you have not only steered them away from the truth that leads to salvation but you may well have taught them by example some VERY unbiblical practices and principals that will ultimately prevent them from EVER recognizing their need to repent – “Purpose Driven” or otherwise. This is the heresy being fiercely promoted in so many of our churches today and it has to stop NOW because we are not gathering AT ALL but are scattering.
“He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.”- Luke 11:23
The only carnal things Jesus promised His followers in exchange for their faithfulness was suffering, persecution and death. Does that sound like anything your church offers today?
“…they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.” – Luke 21:12-13
The blessings and abundance Jesus DID promise those who followed Him were peace with God, eternal life and the Holy Spirit – the kind of things this world and those who love it simply cannot provide. If “seekers’ aren’t looking for these things OUTSIDE the church doors they sure won’t be looking for them on the inside.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
"He didn’t heal the sick or work miracles to draw crowds. Instead, He commanded many of those he healed to keep their silence so mobs of people wouldn’t search Him out and follow Him around for the mere physical benefits He could provide."