James MacDonald pastor of the Harvest Bible Chapel wrote an article this week, about the church. Of course I read a few articles on the church during the week. And since I am back in the pulpit (we still have one) I am more interested in the subject. James writes this “When God Goes To Church!” James writes:
- "We have to get back to vertical church. Somewhere along the line, well meaning people have hijacked the church. Some in the name of organizational excellence, some because they want to see more people coming to Christ, some because they feel the church has become too stale to actually reach this so-called postmodern audience, and some because of countless other motivations, good and bad, that I can’t think of right now."
I believe well meaning pastors and churches have had the desire to reaching the community and the world with for Jesus Christ. I read daily of church innovation, they are continues in the process of inventing or introducing something new, technological innovations, preaching and teaching innovation. Cultural modernization, that is to change something in order to make it conform to modern tastes, attitudes, or standards, has become to form today in many churches.
I am amazed at the crowds that attend churches. I was watching Brian Houston, Hillsong Church, in Sydney, Australia, this week, and to see the crowds (20,000) of people come. Its innovated, yet how 20,000 people are involved is another question. Of course there are a number of other just works across the world. (By the way I do not view Houston’s ministry as a model for Church ministry). I am just pointing out the technological, musical, preaching, and teaching, innovation of the church. I don’t accept the gifts of tongues nor in women preachers, speakers yes, preaching no.
At the same time there are good men in the body of Christ today that are in to this new form of ministry. Many are following after Mark Driscoll Seattle Washington, Mars Hills, Acts 29 Network of churches and Rob Bell, in Michigan. I was amazed as I read about our local churches who are following in their pattern of ministry. And even more amazed at the church in Lexington Kentucky that I attended for five years has now planned a Mars Hills Conversations. What churches and pastors will do to see people come to church is just amazing to me. I am even more amazed to see fundamental churches of the past follow suit to the form of NewSpring churches network, pastured by Perry Noble in Anderson South Caroline. And these fellows are off shoot of Bill Hyber at Willow Creek.
From a general observation, you will believe what a wonderful way to worship, and 100’s of souls are getting saved each week. But upon a careful watching and recording of the facts, you will began to see another form of worship. Good man I believe, they are, but they have the overpowering desire to worship Jesus, and see His commission fulfilled.
In my humble opinion we are headed down the wrong road to the kind of Church, God is going to attend.
James MacDonald, writes (so would John MacArthur, Jr.)
- "Bottom line: at Harvest Bible Chapel we now have almost 20 years invested in the notion that church should not, better, must not be an audience-centered effort. NO MORE AUDIENCE-CENTERED CHURCH, unless of course we return to the biblical priority of God Himself being the audience. My thesis is that God simply does not attend most churches in America. He won’t work or manifest His presence in places where His Word is apologized for, His Son is polished and marketed, and His power is not sought in prayer or even anticipated. God does not attend churches where the gospel is watered down to a self-help pep talk about felt needs. God does not attend churches where Jesus’ crucified life is not proclaimed as the only hope for a fallen humanity. God does not attend churches where Bibles are not brought, and the gospel is reduced to a formula that a person can recite in 60 seconds. God does not attend churches where words, biblical words, like holiness, repentance, and Lordship are scrubbed from the vocabulary in an effort to . . . ? You may be able to get people to attend churches like that but God doesn’t show up much at all."
Of course at the same time, I have a very hard time accepting the altar calls and mass appeal to sinners to be saved that happen at James MacDonald’s church. From their website.
- Here is how you can receive Christ:
- 1. Admit your need. ("I am a sinner.")
- 2. Be willing to turn from your sins. (Repent.)
- 3. Believe that Jesus died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
- 4. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord and Savior.)
- How to pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Its not that the above is not correct, but far too many people just say those words without meaning them, and are led to believe they are saved, Christians, going to heaven.
And I would say that MacDonald would say the same, and is doing a good in discipline them in Christ.
Otherwise, I like what he is saying.
- 'God shows up with power to save where Jesus is passionately adored without shame or pretense, without entertainment or needless comedy. God shows up where His Word is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit. God shows up where He can be certain that His Word will be heard and held up for the sufficient, saving, sanctifying word that He promises it to be. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17).'
- The church has fallen and is now, on most fronts, floundering in the abyss of cultural analysis and human approval. Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” The western church in our day is floundering in silly attempts to be pleasing to an audience that does not conceptualize the stench of our lives in the nostrils of a holy God. Attempting to become ‘relevant,’ the church has become impotent and irrelevant. At the end of the day people want to meet God when they go to church, but His Spirit is so grieved by what happens in most churches, He simply refuses to attend."
I heard a pastor say recently that the past 20 years have been about “church done with excellence in the flesh is better than church done poorly in the flesh.” How insightful!
- How about church done according to God’s Word and in the power of the Spirit?
- How about Doing God’s Work, in God’s Way?
- How about church on fire, led by men on fire, burning a swath of God’s power across our land like a tornado across a Kansas wheat field?
- Where is the mighty prevailing church (Matthew 16:18) moving with God’s power, seeing lives transformed frequently and totally?
- Where is the church that sees miraculous answers to prayer and marvelous interventions of grace?
I want to spend the rest of my days working to see the true church, the grace AND truth church, (John 1:14) the spirit and power church, the overcoming, Christ-adoring, prayerfully dependant, Word-proclaiming church return to prominence. I believe it is only then that God will begin regularly attending the churches of our land. If that were to happen it would make ALL the difference, would it not?