Monday, June 22, 2015

John 6: Church Growth Methods and Other Sins, pt. 2

Part One

When we're all done on earth, we will wish we would have paid more attention to what God's Word says, as in passages like John 6.  The Bible isn't a play thing to twist into what we want.  It is the basis for what we believe and do.

At the end of John 6, twenty-five thousand or so followers of Jesus defect from Him.  Leading up to that moment, we can see what caused it and glean from that what characterizes false professors or false disciples.  That teaching should change how followers of Jesus function.

John 6 is there.  It's in the Bible.  No one will be able to say or should say, "I didn't know that," or "Oh really?"  It's not there for entertainment value.  It's a long (71 verses), very informative chapter.  We're required to follow the teaching.  It's pivotal.  Missing it isn't an option.

Here's what really occurs though.  Churches do just the opposite of what John 6 teaches.  Churches and their leaders claim Jesus, and then contradict what He did.  In essence, they say, "He said and did that?  That means to me that I'm going to do the reverse!  I'm going to operate antithetical to Jesus, and yet say it's Jesus!"  Saying it is Jesus is good enough for it to be Jesus any more -- not to Jesus, but enough to get by on this side of eternity until John 6 is vindicated before all.

I want to pick up where I left off in part one to help you understand what I'm writing.  Jesus had pointed out to His followers that He was running away from them because they were following Him, not because of Who He was, but because they wanted more bread.

Today either churches or church leaders don't themselves know Jesus or they offer people reasons to follow Jesus other than Jesus Himself, in direct conflict to what Jesus said and did.  Some of them don't even care any more, because they have become so untethered to scripture.  They treat their ideas that will work above the Bible as their guidance for doing what they do.

Sure, people will attend church or "follow Jesus" for what they want.  Churches and church leaders now think to varying degrees that their responsibility is figuring out what will cause people to come to church and even like it.  What they're saying is, "I know they won't like Jesus, but I do know they like this, so let's do this, and maybe we can connect Jesus to that somehow."  It's the equivalent of wrapping medicine up in tasty dog food, so that the dog will take its medicine.  You know the dog won't like its medicine alone, so let's offer it as dog food.  The dog doesn't have to know it's getting medicine.

Jesus must be offered.  People must come to Jesus.  They must know what they're coming to.  They must value Jesus above these other things.  When we offer the other things, we are diminishing Jesus and elevating those other things above Him.  That doesn't help them.  It hurts them.  But this is what the largest churches in America are doing.  They are offering a version of Christianity to people, that they know people will accept, that isn't really Christianity.  If those people would ever get actual Christianity, which they rarely to never get, they wouldn't like it if they saw it.

Let's go back to what occurs in John 6.  Jesus won't give them another meal, but they are persistent. Churches today would view this as a good thing.  The staff, either hired or volunteering to concoct bad reasons to come to church, would think of themselves as ministers, operating in a heavenly pursuit.  Who can't figure out what will  motivate people?  Jesus knew.  They wanted bread and they tried to manipulate Jesus.

He said they shouldn't be chasing Him around for stuff that perishes, but for the eternal, which was Jesus Himself.  He was the "meat which endureth unto everlasting life," He was "the bread of life." They still thought Jesus was talking about something like a free meal and they wondered what work would be required to obtain that.  They were negotiating with Him.  This is what people do today when they shop for churches.  Which one has what "I want"?  And what "I want" is rock music, programs for the kids, casual dress, lots of humor, little judgment, and a lot of fun.  We're not even talking about bread, which is innocuous in comparison.  Bread was at least neutral, but it was a no-go for Jesus too.  Bread wouldn't get it done with today's fake Christianity, but more like a well made latte or cappuccino.

As you read this, you might think that this misses your church, but a violation of John 6 so characterizes churches today, that what Jesus taught against is what churches are in most cases today, and it is seen in more than the rock-and-roll churches.  You get it with the promotions for kids, the VBS, the slicky brochures with the happy pictures, the composition of the music, the self-help sermons and programs, the emphasis on building or campus, the dating, and the activities.

Jesus said the "work" that will get the eternal bread was to "believe" (vv. 28-29).  They didn't stop. If they wouldn't or couldn't do that "work," then maybe Jesus could do another one, perform a sign for them.  He had just fed 25,000 with a small lunch.  To goad Him into it, they compared Him to Moses. Moses gave them bread every day.  Jesus corrected them.  The Father gave them that bread, not Moses, which was a segue for Jesus to the Bread which comes down from Heaven -- Him.  That's the bread they needed.

You might agree that Jesus is what people need, but is it Jesus Who is offered?  Churches should be giving people Jesus.  Only Jesus.  When they give more than Jesus, they are not following the example of Jesus.  They are violating His example and today with total immunity.  They are rewarded for doing it.  They are the stars of the church today.  They should be ashamed.  They should be repudiated.  Woe is them!

It matters what you offer people.  Offering them something other than the biblical Jesus is against what Jesus did.  It runs the opposite of how Jesus operated.  When you do, you are hurting people.  Most churches are hurting people today.  The world is going down, not just because of the world, but because of the contribution of churches.  Churches are hurrying up the process with how they act.

To be continued.

4 comments:

Farmer Brown said...

This is a good article. It is true that Jesus could have kept the giant crowds if he had kept filling their bellies. That he was unwilling to do that to keep them is significant. It cannot be ignored.

It seems so natural to want to do anything to get people to church to hear the gospel. Even knowing it is wrong, it is hard to believe it is wrong. It just seems to make sense to have food or entertainment to attract unbelievers. I guess it has to be accepted by faith, even though it goes against our nature.

George Calvas said...

"It seems so natural to want to do anything to get people to church to hear the gospel. Even knowing it is wrong, it is hard to believe it is wrong."

So true. The church assembly is for the saints, his bride. It is a time to edify, exhort, correct and instruct the saints of God. It is also a time for all to glorify and honor the Lord Jesus Christ through song, testimony and communion.

The lost are to be preached to, according to the bible by going out into the world.

Jim Camp said...

I'm a little late to this party.

I stopped doing this about 3 to 4 years ago. I was under conviction to not use such techniques (which I was taught all my church life), when we held a Friend Day at the
church I pastor. There was a man we had been trying to get into church (he attended very
irregularly); I ask him to come to the meeting, he declined, & I told him "We'll even
feed you some good home cooking". As I said this, it really came home to me that I was
bribing a man to learn of Jesus Christ with home cooking. I was deeply ashamed.
This was the end of such things for me.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jim,

I relate to your comment. I had the same experience. You really do know that you are working with people who don't want Jesus, so you give them what they want with some motive to get to Jesus. Jesus Himself didn't do this and did the opposite. Is His example authoritative? Yes. Thanks for the testimony. Very good.