Lately I have been contemplating the plight of our American pastors and how many of them are approaching and applying methodology concerning church growth. For my more hip brothers out there, I have been “unpacking it.”
From what I have experienced in this arena, there are two major camps regarding attitude and execution. Let me see if I can give you a sketch of the two and before you get too up tight about it, please read this article completely:
- The Extreme Fundamentalist – this is the guy who sits back with a scour on his face and espouses that people should just come to church because it is the right thing to do. He quickly condemns the other camp for giving in to worldliness and boiling down true worship to a circus of events and how his other brothers are just saying what people want to hear simply for the sake of numbers. This fellow also focuses totally on holiness and at times even condemns love and grace. He believes that everything less than his definition of salvation is in contrast, easy believism.
- The Extreme Culturalist – this is the guy who has read every book from every radical pastor of the modern blue jean movement. He has not fasted to seek a vision from the Lord but has brainstormed with everyone else to come up with a formula to “encourage” the public to come to “his” gatherings. He thinks the other camp is out of touch with modern culture and does not know how to “reach” the masses. He considers the fundamentalist to be archaic and ineffective. This fellow has convinced himself that the ends justify the means. Down deep he knows that more emphasis needs to be placed upon discipleship / evangelism rather than on a hot musical / media program but he just can’t reverse the trend that he started years ago.
Now, before you bristle up TOO much about those two descriptions… realize that I am not against programs or blue jeans. I am not against holding to deep fundamental Biblical truths either. Those shocking descriptors are the extreme versions of the direction that I sense pastors are gravitating to these days. In another article, I may explore the deeper reasons some of them do this but for the moment… I would just like to examine the lay of the land… so to speak. I would like to believe that most of our pastors are sincerely trying to find a way that is best to reach their communities. I must confess that in the past, I have leaned more to the anti-event driven church model. Yet as I get older and have been exposed to other cultures and “accepted norms,” I have become more aware of the difficult decisions that our pastors are faced with in developing a balanced method of applying a church growth model. I believe in the modern American church culture, there is or can be a good balance of fellowship, prayer, music, media, teaching, outreach, and preaching. The rub comes when we stress one area too much over another. In my opinion, one area that cannot be compromised is preaching because we know what the scripture tells us about that one, 1 Corinthians 1:21.
So, we face the balancing act honestly. I believe this is the only way to advance and succeed in reaching our lost neighbors. We must do our best to consider things, methods, events that have successfully engaged the lost public… and then work together to come up with a ministry blend that has scriptural integrity and is appealing to that lost public. If we can use the wisdom and attitude of the Apostle Paul in this part of church life, ie: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, then we will surely succeed and win more of the lost. Let us honestly and openly examine what we have been doing. Let us not be afraid to change and challenge what was the norm years ago but let us do it with the integrity of scripture as our benchmark and the leadership of the Spirit as our guide. Let us also saturate the process with heartfelt prayer and maybe even fasting… if you want results and answers faster.
Let me wrap up by saying this… in times past I am sure that I have been a burden to the process that I just described… at least in the eyes of some. However, my heart’s desire is to be part of the solution for the rest of my days or until the Lord comes back, which ever comes first. Instead of beating each other up in the name of cultural aweness or the preservation of holiness, let’s work together to win a lost world before it is too late. Would you join me in doing this? I hope so.