Which is better: A “dull” preacher who presents the Gospel accurately and in the power of the Spirit, or a really entertaining kind of guy who maybe gives a muddled presentation of the Gospel, kind of?
I’m sure you would agree that between the two choices, the somewhat dull fellow presenting under the power of the Spirit of God is the way to go. Why? Because the Bible says in Romans 1:16that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Unfortunately, people ignore this and use entertainment in place of the Spirit of God.
Here’s what happens when you try to appeal to the young flesh:
A tip o’the hat to Phil for reminding me of this. My not so bright but still Vastly Overpriced Webmaster is STILL trying to get my stuff off the old sever. But I digress.
Do I have to augment the Gospel to make it attractive? No. To the unsaved, to those whose hearts God has not opened (Acts 13:48) the Gospel is a horror, it is the smell of death (2 Cor 2:15, 16). Nothing I do is going to make the message attractive. Sure, people will come around because they are entertained. And yes, people will come back and fill the pews. And they will continue to fill the pews as long as I continue to keep them entertained and avoid icky subjects like sin, judgment, and repentance.
But the only thing you will have done is mix a bunch of the unsaved with some nominally authentic Christians. And the only way you will keep those unsaved, unrepentant enemies of God (Romans 8:7) there is to avoid preaching the Gospel and continue to keep them entertained, thus starving the Christians.
Do you think you have to make the Gospel exciting and attractive to draw the youth? A couple of churches (First Baptist Church of Glenarden on the Kettering [FBCGotK] and Zion Church (a First Baptist wannabee)) have a program called Merge. Here’s an article from the Washington Post from about a year ago. I suspect the head preachers imagine that doing this is going to draw boys and girls into the church. And they are right. These events will draw teens and young adults into the church, the church building. And notice what one of the young men says: He would rather be involved in Merge than to be in church. So explain to me how that works. How will this young man mature if his only contact with folks is in what really looks like a rock concert? How do any of the youth at the event come to any understanding of salvation? I’ve listened to some of Staton’s sermons. If Jenkins and company are depending on Billy Staton to present the Gospel, and to present it effectively, then the children being ministered to are not actually being ministered to. They are being entertained – and misled.
While I’m probably being unfair and taking a single photo grossly out of context (but somehow I don’t think so), here is some of what went on in the “service.” And it’s true that I’m jealous of the lad because I haven’t been able to jump like that for at least thirty years. If I were to try that now, I would likely jam my pelvis into my spleen.
Did Paul have a night of entertainment using a multi-million dollar sound system, high def LCD screens, and a cutting edge light and video system? Last time I checked (take a look anywhere within Acts) and you just won’t see anything like that. And I guarantee you it wasn’t because he didn’t have electiricity. He didn’t use entertainment as a “witnessing tool” because he understood that the Gospel, not entertainment, is the power unto salvation.
You say you can’t engage people if all you do is present the Gospel? Then why in the world did the Jews get so…um…engaged with Stephen that they stoned him? (Acts 7) That seems pretty engaged – and enraged. Look at the transcript of what he said. He pretty much provided a history lesson, with the climax being an accusation of killing the very person they were waiting for.
And why did over three thousand people come to Christ through Peter’s rather ordinary presentation (Acts 2:14-41)? It seems the only thing he did was present scripture and a history of Israel in her disobedience. No great entertainment value there. Peter, when he was witnessing to a high-powered roman officer, just gave the Gospel (Acts10:34-44). As a result, the house was turned out. There was no Greek theatre troupe, no choir, no nothing.
So what am I saying? One of the tools the pimps use to increase the size of their congregation is to provide their sheeple, and their potential sheeple with slammin’ entertainment; praise and worship entertainment, preaching entertainment, and special occasion entertainment. They don’t deliver hard hitting sermons. They don’t seriously challenge the congregation. They don’t competently expound on the Scriptures. Instead, they twist the Scriptures to appeal to the sheeple’s greed and fears. They twist them to convince the sheeple to give them money.
Present the Gospel, the whole Gospel, in season and out. Present the power of God not the talents of singers, dancers and video unit operators. It’s not about high-powered lighting or dynamic graphics. It’s about Spirit-powered preaching. It’s the edification of the congregation. And of course, pimps can’t edify without losing their victims. And if they lose their victims, they lose their Lexuses Lexes Lexii their expensive luxury cars. And it wouldn’t do for them to drive the same kind of hooptie their congregation drives.
Try some of these guys if you want the Gospel and not a lot of pandering.