Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Say it With Me Now: What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To

Yesterday I linked to Ray Ortlund's modest proposal, and I suggested that although it is a nice idea, it would never happen for reasons that would make me sound like a jerk if elucidated.
It occurs to me now that my silence may have implied I didn't want to sound like a jerk to Dr. Ortlund. That is not the case at all. I didn't want to repeat the same "woe is the Church" stuff I'm getting tired of myself, lest I seem like a jerk toward other churches.

But that was yesterday. :-)

The reason I don't think it would happen/work is because the average evangelical church already thinks it's correcting the previous generation's evangelistic errors. They already believe they are delighting the world with Jesus.
"I mean, gee, look, we've got fog machines and power pop songs. We're all about the fun. And as far as disturbing people with Jesus goes, just look at all the religious people who are uncomfortable here. We're doing our job! We're just like Jesus."

Or so I imagine it would go.

See, my hunch would be that most churches would sign such a thing already believing they're part of the solution (and that would include myself). But many of them are mistaken (and that could include myself, admittedly).

Overheard at two different blogs yesterday:

"Creating an over the top experience for our guests isn’t just a talking point, it’s a driving force behind Sunday mornings."

"I'm sick and tired of Las Vegas and Hollywood outdoing the church."

Yes. Ahem. Well.

By all means, let's keep on down this road. Clearly what people desperate for the gospel and starving for the glory of God really need is an "over the top experience" and a presentation the likes of which make Vegas and Hollywood jealous.

Because that stuff clearly works. Let's keep going down that road.

And now I'm done sounding like a smug know-it-all. :-)

Rethinking the Attractional Worship Paradigm
Reminder: The Show is Not Working
What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To


Michael said...

Jared, maybe I'm being a bit slow here, but I just don't get this phrase, "delighting the world with Jesus".
What exactly is that supposed to be? I'm more used to the mindset that I'm going to annoy, anger and upset the world with Jesus. I may be able to delight some "people" and perhaps that's what you're meaning - but the "world"? I just don't see it getting any happier with me and Christ than it did when it was Christ himself on earth.

Rob said...

"I'm sick and tired of Las Vegas and Hollywood outdoing the church."


Wow. Just . . . wow.

With all due apologies to Tertullian, what has Vegas to do with Jerusalem?

Jared said...

Michael, I was paraphrasing Dr. Ortlund's words linked to in this post (and the one yesterday). Here's the passage I'm referring to:

We, the undersigned churches of Nashville, apologize to our city. We have not been the witnesses for Christ that he commands. We are neither delighting you nor disturbing you with Christ.

Does that help?

Jared said...

Rob, I was thinking the same thing. The idea that we should even be in the same business blows my mind.

If we ARE going to outdo Vegas and L.A. on what they're good that, we will have to be as focused as they are on the things they're focused on. Which, obviously, is not Jesus.

Ray Ortlund said...

Thanks, Jared, for noting my proposal. It was great to be with you the other day, by the way. Thanks.

Call me crazy, but I don't think it's impossible for something like this to happen. But it won't happen until we're fed up with ourselves. The Lord Jesus read the corporate mind of the church in Laodicea: "You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing." That was their self-image. That was the conversation going on inside their thoughts. When a church or a Christian community in a given city can only see its strengths and accomplishments, if that's all they want to talk about, then Revelation 3:17 applies. I believe we need a radical new reappraisal of ourselves, including our weaknesses and failures. I believe the Lord would be pleased with that and might very well visit such honesty with wonderful blessing.

Here's the scary thing. Jesus also said to that church, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock . . ." (Revelation 3:20). He was on the outside, asking permission to re-enter his own church. And they hadn't even noticed his absence. He had to tell them: "Hey you guys, can't you hear me? I'm out here. Anybody hear me?"

Ed Brenegar said...

I am amazed at how much context matters. If you live in an attractional world, you think how can I Christianize it. If you don't, the value you bring to discipleship are very different. Where I am, Bonhoeffer is more the guide than Vegas. I'd rather know the difference our sacrifice that is hidden and silent from the world is making. From my vantage point, the church has replaced Christ as our security and hope. Hence, we need to keep people enthused.