Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Matched Intensity

Most churchfolk are awash 7 days a week with appeals to their sense of fulfillment and excitement. We are constantly begged (excitedly!) to be excited and energized and over-the-top satisfied by the latest Hollywood blockbuster or the new gadget from Apple or even the newest fruit-extracted shampoo. The promises are more "promising" every year. Advertisers aren't pitching their product so much as the orgasm their product will give you. (I'm sorry if "orgasm" offends you; it's a real word, though, not a profanity -- you can look it up in the dictionary.)

The response by the evangelical church, then, has been interesting. Disappointing. What we've done is not offer an alternative excitement, a true excitement. We offer the same excitement as the advertisers, because we want to appeal to desires already present and then we hope to piggyback off those into seeding desires for God. But it almost never works that way. The crowd that "loved" Jesus when he was miraculously feeding them disappeared when he said they needed to eat his flesh and blood.

The alternative the church must offer, then, is not a matched pitch -- come to church for free stuff! slide down the wacky slide into our KidZone Theme Park! enjoy the fog and lasers! (and hopefully find Jesus) -- but a matched intensity toward another offer altogether. As it is, we are mimicking advertisers' intensity about stuff and soft-pedaling Jesus. Instead we should be talking, preaching, serving, worshiping hard as if the riches of Christ are riveting, fascinating, exciting, powerful.

Why do so many young people find 64 year old John Piper a riveting preacher while so many others find him off-putting? I think it's because young people are disillusioned with pedestrian spirituality and are starving for wonder, and Piper preaches as if Jesus and the Bible are explosive and exciting.

One of the primary aims of pastors today, I think, should be not to appeal to people's material desires but to teach and preach as if the stuff in the Bible really is true. If we really believed the Bible was true, we would preach (and live!) differently.

Jesus is a Vesuvius. :-)


Elizabeth said...

That's why its so tricky to church advertise, because you're right, we shouldn't be "promoting" our "product" in the same way that the rest of the the secular world does. Our "product" is too unique and important to be cheapened that way. The best advertising is found in the verse that says the world will know Christians by the way they LOVE.

Don said...

Interesting week. First you tell us that you were pretending to live in TN while actually living in New England (worst kept secret on the internet). Then you come out as the Fake John Piper. Now you use the word "orgasm". Your subscriber count must be taking a nose dive! :)

I think that people, especially the young people that you refer to, are drawn to the simplicity of straight Gospel preaching. Look at Paul's charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy Chapter 4. He tells Timothy to preach the word of God. Period. Granted, he tells Timothy what to do with the word in the next verse, but he adds nothing to the word.

That simplicity, that excitement that Piper and others have for the word, is refreshing.

Matthew Robbins said...

He's a Vesuvius!! Love that line.

nhe said...

you know what's boring?......religion!!!'s almost like Jesus is the true opposite of religion - because he's so not boring......I love this.

Anonymous said...

(I'm sorry if "orgasm" offends you; it's a real word, though, not a profanity -- you can look it up in the dictionary.)
Would you say this at the pulpit?
the fact that it is a real word and not profane can still be improper and useless for edification
Psa 19:14 NKJV - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Pro 15:4 NKJV - A wholesome tongue [is] a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
my spirit was quenched.

Jared said...

Anonymous, as I said in the post, sorry for the offense.

I think it was suitable given the "profane" nature of fulfillment advertisers claim to give. Context bears it out.

And, yes, I would use the word "orgasm" from the pulpit, given the proper context.

Randi Jo :) said...

YES! as a young 20 something I can say that the excitement/bigness/something great is coming === marketing just doesn't cut it anymore. As a marketing major --- I loved all of it and definitely had my contribution to it all --- but i had to abandon my skills and stop contributing.... something happened. I could see past the "stuff"/staging/marketing bla bla... and realized it wasn't leading peopel to HIM ultimately.... I desire to be with leaders that are truly fully sold out for Jesus and truly believing and living out the truth that Jesus/the Spirit is bigger than any thing/marketing tool/promotional technique WE can bring to the table. Keeping people excited about the marketing and the Man-made excitement/events keeps people spiritually immature. We are making people to be the very thing we beg them to grow out of.
We want people to grow and become spirit-dependent and believe in His power - yet we continaully show them we are leanin on our own.

I GUESS I can see the heart behind the promotion/marketing and see that they are trying their best... and using their talents to serve Him... but I beleive it's a sign of spiritual immaturity. and I believe many have lost the focus.

God desires us to be excited!! To be full of zeal (romans 12) -- yet not over anything but HIM and all He has done!

I have so much catching up to do as I've been out of blog land for 2 months - but literally my husband and I were just talking about this today and I even suggested John Piper would be my ideal preacher/teacher right now that I'd love to hear from weekly --- or something similiar to his passion/wisdom and focus. praying for God to guide us to figure and bring us to a church body He would want us to be apart of.