08 July 2009

Culturally Cool, but is that Enough?

A conversation between friends:

Me: "Hey, friend! Why don't you come to church with me this Wednesday night? They're starting a new teaching series."

Friend: "Hmm, I don't know. You know I don't get into that whole church-thing. What kind of series are they doing?"

Me: "Well, it's called The Real Facebook."

Friend: "What does Facebook have to do with God?"

Me: "Umm....well....uh....."

Okay, don't worry. This conversation didn't actually happen. But it could have. Why? Because the women's ministry at a local church has begun a short teaching series entitled "The Real Facebook." I kid you not:

The topics are as follows:
Week 1 - What's on your Face? "Christ-like Countenance"
Week 2 - Will you be my Friend? "Fulfilling Friendships"
Week 3 - What's in the Book? "Transforming Truth"

Now, without actually attending this, I'm not going to make a call as to whether or not the Bible and the Gospel and Christ crucified will actually be taught. Knowing this church, I'm apt to say that it will be (although admittedly, I wish the "Transforming Truth" session would be first, as I'm assuming that's addressing the truth of the Gospel.) My bigger frustration lies in the theme. Facebook. FACEBOOK. Facebook? Why do churches today insist on being socially relevant? Why are our church leaders under the impression that the only way we can speak and teach the Gospel anymore is to wrap it in a contemporary package (making sure to remove all the offensive stuff, too, before you wrap it up!)? Truth is truth no matter whether you post it on a Facebook wall, tweet it to someone on Twitter, or *gasp* just speak it plainly and clearly from one sinner to another.

Even if this advertisement for The Real Facebook never goes beyond the Sunday church bulletin and the church website, the bottom line is that this church doesn't believe that simply presenting the clear, plain, un-technological gospel will be exciting enough to bring people into their church on Wednesday night! The facts as I see them? My unbelieving friends would think I was crazy if I invited them to something called The Real Facebook--I can guarantee that the title would not entice them in the least. Goodness, it doesn't even entice me and I'm a believer! What would be interesting to me? How about a session entitled: "King Nebuchadnezzar: God really can save anyone!" Or, "Heaven and Hell: You know where you're going, but what about your best friend?"

Okay, I admit, those aren't exactly catchy titles. Hey, I'm working late here so cut me some slack! The point is, if you give me some actual Bible then I'm going to want to come to your teaching series, and I'm going to want to bring my friends, saved and unsaved. No one is going to come to a saving faith and relationship with Christ by some cheesy modern theme. They will come to Christ when they are shown that, without Him, they are a dejected, hopeless, evil, wretched, pitiful, hell-bound sinner. They will come to Christ when they realize they can do nothing to save themselves and that only Christ can offer that saving grace and forgiveness. They will come to Christ when they realize the enormous debt they owe and that Jesus has already paid it in full. They will come to Christ when they realize that the slate really can be wiped clean and they really can begin a new life without all the junk of the old one. That's what brings people to faith in Christ. Not Facebook, not Twitter, not rock bands, not movies. Those things only draw us further away from Him. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that Facebook, this "tool" that the church is using to draw people in, has in fact caused thousands of God-fearing young Christians to begin to drift away from Him. It has caused them to sacrifice their prayer or Bible study time in favor for writing funny wall posts and commenting on their friends' latest picture album. And don't be mistaken, I certainly can put myself in that category from time to time, so I'm not simply pointing my finger at everybody else. Even the "harmless" things on the internet are effortlessly used by Satan to draw us away from our fellowship with our Lord. And so why should our churches celebrate those things, even if it's a mere advertising ploy? God doesn't need our help to make His message relevant, but if we're too busy designing cool graphics, then His message may never actually be delivered in the end.

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