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. :-)