10 November 2012

Church-Going Gimmicks

What brings people into your church? What sort of gimmicks, if any, are used? Is it the music, the performances, the charisma of your pastor? Upon what does your church depend to draw new churchgoers and to retain those who already attend?

One would hope that the first answer to these questions would be something along the lines of: the preaching of God's Word. Church is, after all, a gathering of believers for believers, where the Word of God is opened, preached and explained. Church is about the truths gleaned from Scripture, not about the delivery—or the deliverer—of the sermon. Church is a time to worship God and to learn more about Him. Is this what draws you and others to your church each week?

Unfortunately, in these days of compromise and pragmatism, the preaching of God's Word often is secondary to the latest and greatest gimmick. This past Sunday, 4 November, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle demonstrated why it was he thought people should attend his church that day: to see him preach. This was revealed in a tweet sent out by the megachurch pastor that read:

Source
If Driscoll merely was excited about the message he had to share, then it is unfortunate that this tweet appears to focus more on seeing him preach the sermon than upon the sermon itself. It seems as though the people of Mars Hill Church were encouraged to attend this past weekend not because of the great truths which Driscoll would share with them from Scripture, but rather so that they could "see [Driscoll's] latest sermon." This gimmick appears to be about the man, not the message.

An even greater example of worldly compromise and pragmatism was displayed by Perry Noble's Newspring Church in South Carolina. Newspring would tweet on 7 November:

Source
This message is not specifically claiming to draw people to church by means of the entertainment, but there can be little doubt that this is an ulterior motive of the tweet. In fact, one Newspring fan would reply with the following:

Source
Laying aside the fact that Newspring Church actually is in South Carolina, the point is not lost: people will eagerly attend Newspring Church this weekend in anticipation of the "praise band" performing a cover of a Taylor Swift song. It has not been revealed which Swift song will be played, but at last check, Taylor Swift was a secular country singer, often lamenting and singing about her past torn and broken relationships, not about the sovereignty and supremacy of Jesus Christ, our King.

Yet, it is not a country song that will bring a person to repentance and faith, but hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). So while a teaser and promise of performing a popular song may draw new attendees, it will not be the means by which they are saved. Nor is it representative of the gathering of the believers as is seen in the New Testament.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
So what gimmicks are utilized by your church week after week to entice you to return? If you do invite your unbelieving coworker to attend with you, how do you (for lack of a better phrase) bait your hook? Does the invitation sound like, "Why don't you come to church with me this week? Our pastor is so funny!" Or do you say, "Why don't you come to church with me this week? Our band is going to be performing that great new song that such-and-such secular band just released!" Or do you invite that lost friend to come to church, where they will be welcomed and will be ensured to hear the good news of forgiveness of sins and salvation through Jesus Christ? There is, after all, no greater "bait" for a soul in need of Christ than Christ Himself.

Further Reading
"Mini Me" Rick Warren Joins 16,000 Others at Saddleback's Third Annual Blocktober Event
Shhh...God Is Telling Christine Caine a Secret
If Not for Amazing Grace

2 comments:

  1. Very sad state of these "Churches". Music is one thing that bypasses the mind and goes straight to a person's soul.

    People like Driscoll and Perry don't believe that "the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe,,"-Romans 1:16

    If they did then they would examples of Paul in Romans 1:9, Romans 1:15-17, Romans 15:20,1 Corinthians 1:17,

    1 Corinthians 9:16

    2 Corinthians 4:5

    Romans 12:2

    ~Before I was saved, I used to immerse myself in secular music. It was very erotic. After I was saved I literally put all my music in a pile and burned it. I just wanted to get rid of all that I knew was not pleasing to Jesus. To this day I have to purposefully stay away from certain kinds of music or it just brings back a rush of all those emotions

    I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would go to Church and continue to kid themselves by playing religion. I hated Church before I was saved and would NOT go and fake it.
    But when God saved me my whole life completely changed 180 degrees- an about face. I wanted to be with like-minded people who love Jesus and love God's word. I went to listen to the word of God and to grow not be entertained. If I wanted to be entertained I went to real concerts not to tertiary Church gimmicks.

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