Look at this article:
Churches as business — Jesus, CEO
I broke down while reading this article. That the glory of God is reduced to mere marketing; that churches are replacing God with their own carnality. God's honor is defiled by the mere existence of such churches. Oh, the judgment upon the house of the Lord is here, in that narcissistic country called the US of A, with so-called 'preachers' tickling the ears of the goats (2 Tim. 4:3-4)
Oh Lord, have mercy on Your church. We have sinned against You. We have squandered our inheritance and have traded our heritage for the rubbish of the world. We have scorned your grace and trampled underfoot the Gospel of salvation, replacing them with man-made business strategies to cater to the 'seekers' in the world. Oh Lord, have mercy on us, Your people and may You strangthen the remnent of Your flock in these dark days. Here in Singapore, may we Your people turn to You in repentance for our sins of apathy and of compromise. May You have mercy on us and turn us back to You. Lord, You know full well the situation of the churches in Singapore, and how they are dying a slow death, through the preaching of the Word-faith aka prosperity heresy, and of the pop 'gospel' heresy, and also the dearth of teaching of the Word in the churches. Oh Lord, as churches and peoples fall, may You keep us Your sheep in the safety of Your fold.
Oh Lord, may You purify Your church. Let persecution come if need be, but we truly look forward to the day when the body of Christ will stand forth as the Church victorious, the Church miitant, the Church triumphant over her enemies. Set us on fire for You, Lord, to proclaim the message of salvation to everyone, knowing full well that You will use us to efficaciously call Your elect to You through the proclaimation of Your Gospel. May we stand firm in our faith, and to stand together in love as one united body of Christ, as a witness to the one true and living God, even as the days are getting darker.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
I bring greetings in Christ, and i just read about your comments in your blog regarding the article from the Economist.
I am touched by your eloquent and heart-felt prayer for the churches and pastors.
But i can't help but wonder, what is Bill Hybels' crime?
Is it in conducting the survey to better understand why people were reluctant to go church?
Or is it in having organised carparks so that the church goers/ staff can park their cars efficiently?
Or is it in helping the social outcasts of drug addicts, alcoholics and giving them counselling? donating to the needy?(If Jesus came to earth, would He not first go to people like them that needs the gospel?
Or is it in putting people with similar interests and age groups into care-groups so they can better identify with each other? ( I mean, if this is not good, then we shouldn't be going to youth groups or meetings- toddlers, old retired people and youths should all be in the same group)
As much as the article smirks with an attitude of disgust towards what Bill Hybels is doing, i don't think it is entirely justified.
I believe that Bill Hybels might have did all that he's doing out of a burden of wanting people to come to church, be supporting each other in communities and growing in the word of God. and that's a great thing to be doing, and i feel his methods are quite worthy of some good learning pointers for all of us.
So what if Stanford or Harvard decides to use it as a case study?
Hello brother Simon,
Bill Hybels's crime, to put it simply, is doing God's work using Man's techniques. The survey to better understand why people were reluctant to go to church is the symptom of the larger problem of seeker-sensitivity. About the rest of the things that you mentioned, only the grouping of people with similar interests and age groups is problematic but not wrong in and of itself.
Seeker-sensitivity is the Arminian outreach philosophy of trying to win people to Christ through ANY means possible, without having confidence in the God-ordained methods of preaching the Gospel to bring about the salvation of His people. (Rom. 10: 17)
The reason why seeker-sensitivty is wrong and thus why we can't do the things of God using the ways of Man is because God Himself say so in Scripture. Aaron's sons Badab and Abihu were killed for offering unauthorized fire before the Lord (Lev. 10:1-3), although they desired a good thing of worshipping the Lord. Uzzah was killed when he tried to stabilize the Ark when it stumbled (2 Sam. 6:6-7), all because King David did not use the God-ordained method of using priests with poles to carry the Ark initially but use the Phillistinian method of using a bullock cart (2 Sam. 6). As stated above, God has ordained the method of preaching - the foolishness of preacing (1 Cor. 1:21) to bring His elect to Him. Therefore, the seeker-sensitive mentality is wrong and mostly wouldn't work, for no other reason that that without God regenerating the person, there is no true conversion.
Even if there is true Gospel preaching by Bill Hybels, which I suspect not, the question is to be asked why must the church engage in so much entertainment and having so many facilities to make it 'convenient' for members to do what they need to do. These things require money and manpower in management to implement and sustain, both of which could be used more productively for missions and helping the poor. Since God is the one who saves, and it is done through the preaching of the Gospel, the removal of such spiritually useless things wil not hinder the elect from turning to Christ.
Another major issue to raise is the propensity of such programs and facilities to engineer false conversions, where people convert for all the wrong reasons or in a 'spur of the movement' during an emotional high. Music and drama have great power in moving people's emotions, especially when done properly. When people are in an emotional high, they tend to make choices not based on why they actually want and thus false conversions may result. These people may then belive they are saved when they are actually not, and if they fall away because they do not experience the joy of true conversion, they may be led into thinking that we are a a bunch of deluded people since they did the same as we did but did not experience the same thing that we said we did, thus making the ground harder for real evangelism.
Hope this helps,
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