One of my significant concerns about the American evangelical church is that it has no idea what the purpose of the church as a body is to be. It has largely abandoned the method which Jesus and the apostles used; namely, preaching the truth of the gospel, teaching the Scriptures, and exhorting believers to obedience. Instead, it has chosen to adopt the world’s marketing methods to determine what its message will be and how it will be presented.
Afraid to offend the listeners and choosing rather to entertain them, many pastors have decided that preaching in a lecture-listener format is too old fashioned and boring for the educated, erudite American ear. Thus, they believe it is necessary to use drama, skits, movie and television clips, popular secular musicians, and a watered down presentation of the gospel which is devoid of any serious mention of sin, judgment, repentance, or the lordship of Christ.
Going to church is now supposed to be entertaining and, seemingly, only superficially enlightening about one’s human interpersonal relationships, rather than instructive on what God has to say in His word about who He is, what He commands, how we are to relate to Him, and what we need to do in order to grow and change to be more like Christ. Moral absolutes are out; subjective recommendations on how to live are in.
I am now re-reading John MacArthur’s book, Ashamed of the Gospel, which has just been updated and released in a third edition. The following is an excerpt which I found particularly pertinent regarding today’s American church culture and I decided to share it with you.
Having absorbed the world’s values, Christianity in our society is now dying. Subtly but surely, worldliness and self-indulgence are eating away the heart of the church. The gospel usually proclaimed today is so convoluted that it offers believing in Christ as nothing more than a means to contentment and prosperity. The offense of the cross (cf. Gal. 5:11) has been systematically removed so that the message might be made more acceptable to unbelievers. The church somehow got the idea it could declare peace with the enemies of God.When on top of that punk rockers, ventriloquists’ dummies, clowns, knife-throwers, professional wrestlers, weight lifters, bodybuilders, comedians, dancers, jugglers, ringmasters, rap artists, actors, and show-business celebrities take the place of the preacher, the gospel message is dealt a catastrophic blow. “How are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14).I do believe we can be innovative and creative in how we present the gospel, but we have to be careful to harmonize our methods with the profound spiritual truth we are trying to convey. It is too easy to trivialize the sacred message. And we must make the message, not the medium, the heart of what we want to convey to the audience.Don’t be quick to embrace the trends of the high-tech megachurches. And don’t sneer at conventional worship and preaching. We don’t need clever approaches to get people saved (1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we’re faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit.
I don’t think anyone could have said it any better. Many within the American evangelical culture have decided that it takes a skit and a slick, market-driven “conversation” to win Christ-followers. Such a view completely ignores the fact that no one ever comes to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws that person, and when He does, His effectual call will result in that individual coming to Christ in saving faith, no matter how “out-dated” the method of sharing the gospel may be.