Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crowds

My, oh my, could Jesus draw a crowd. They clamored for Him. Several times He had to get out the special throng boat to stand on near shorelines. The first time in Mark, He asked for that boat, then after that it became standard prodecure in crowd control. It was very bad when He was in a house. No one could get to Him, so one time they went on the roof and dismantled it to lower someone through the top. Those are drastic crowd measures. By the Sea of Galilee, He didn't have room to maneuver, they pressed in so hard. People could get hurt there were so many. It was a thing of mercy for Him to separate Himself in the throng boat. They were hum-dingers of a crowd. Large numbers of people gathered for Jesus.

Once you have a crowd, you want to keep the crowd. You want to keep that back door shut; don't let anyone out. You like to have them coming back week after week, and even more of them. You don't want them leaving, because a crowd is success. That's the thing, isn't it? Getting a crowd, then keeping it. That's blessing. The bigger the better. Invite them. Market them. Promote them. Make them show up. Whole seminars and books and conferences and retreats are dedicated to drawing a crowd. I just thought that someone might call one of them the Ants to Honey Conference.

You can offer them things for coming. You can do special things for them. Special days. Big days. From A to Z. Anniversary Sunday. Big Sunday. Carnival Sunday. Donut Sunday, Education Sunday, Friend Sunday, Goldfish Sunday, Harvest Sunday, Ice Cream Sunday. . . . You want the lower class? Candy, toys, soda, and games. You want the upper class: Cappuccino, comedy, comforts, and conveniences. You want anyone? Pop Music. At least something fast paced, exciting. And lots of programs. Something for almost anyone. As long as it isn't exactly sinful. Don't offer things the Bible says are clearly sinful. And, of course, no drugs. Nothing that is harmfully addictive; only things that are addictive. The building should also be a draw. Build buildings that look like a place that people want to see and be in and to be seen in. Once with incredible architecture, stained glass windows, and amazing art. Now shaped like a theater with soft, padded pews, and lots of extras. Just get them there, get them in. Then Katie, shut and bar the door.

And then if they come, you've got to do something with them. You've got to preach your best, most fiery message to them. Or perhaps your most powerful, funny, entertaining routine/sermon. When you've got them there, you want to get them down the aisle. At least get them in the club. Make them feel a part. Create some suspense. Get them wondering what might happen next. Make it seem like a happenin' place, somewhere they want to be. Very easily, with this big crowd you could get a whole bunch of people "saved. "

Let's pause for a moment to consider what Jesus did with crowds. He healed people. Sure. He did miracles. Right. They flocked to Him. Yes. When they got there? Most of the time, He tried to get rid of them. Here's what He thought of them:
Matthew 12:39, "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." Matthew 16:4, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed."
Jesus was not impressed with people who came for the show. He didn't try to reward thrill seekers. He didn't feed their flesh with more tricks and more things. He surely wasn't attempting to attract them that way. Here's what He did to a crowd:

Mark 4:1, 2a, 9, 10, "And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables. . . . And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. " John 6:1, 2, 60, 66, 67, "After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. . . . Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? . . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"

In Mark, he spoke in parables so the crowd wouldn't get what He was talking about. In John, He told them that free meal time was over. When people said they wanted to follow Him; this wasn't new. He heard it all the time. When they did, this is the kind of thing that He said to them:

Matthew 8:20, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Luke 9:60, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Luke 18:22, "Lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."
Quite a promotion man, huh? Think of Let the Dead Bury the Dead Sunday. Or No Place for Sleep Sunday. And then Sell All You Have Sunday. Or maybe Deny Yourself and Take Up Your Cross Sunday. Think any of those would work at getting or keeping a crowd? He would flunk a lot of personal evangelism classes today. The Lord Jesus Christ did not depend on those kinds of methods. He wasn't interested in a crowd. He wanted true disciples, true worshipers, and if we are to get those, we need to get them the way that He did.

If they didn't want Him and His message, Jesus wasn't going to try to keep them another way. He did miracles. They fulfilled prophecy, showed His compassion, and revealed Him as King and the nature of His Millennial Kingdom. Nothing and no one is greater than Jesus Christ. No one should think otherwise. No one should be encouraged to think any way else. People will, however, when our churches and their leaders become so consumed with crowds.

16 comments:

Derek Makri said...

I get what you are saying and it can get carried away. I will say that promotion days can be good as long as they involve no compromise like "Pop Music Day." Jesus did not seek to please the crowds doctrinally, and that is not the way we should seek to keep the crowd either. Get them in and preach the Word to them. Jesus also said, "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23). That story was about a promotoin day--"Come and Eat Food Day"!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for commenting Brother Makri. I would agree with you except that the passage to which you are referring in Luke 14 was a parable. The place of eating in the parable was the kingdom. How do we compel people into the kingdom? Through preaching the Gospel. They did go out to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. This doesn't parallel with a church promotion. It is the most often used passage because it is the only one that would work, but it actually doesn't in its context.

Anonymous said...

In the gospels the main concern was PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, not inviting people to a congregation so that they can get preached. The preaching of the gospel of God was what John the Baptist preached and what Jesus Christ did.

Juan

Pastor Marty said...

You're a bit off on your take of Luke 14. But then reading your article I'm not surprised.

Tina said...

Sexton doesn't have big days and doesn't preach "firey" messages each service.

Is this blog a parody/joke?

Michael McNeilly said...

Very thought provoking. I know that I have been wrestling with this very thought. What is too far? We should not cater to the flesh in order to get them in. What you do to get them in is what you have to do to keep them. You just have to keep outdoing yourself or the church down the road.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Pastor Marty, thanks for visiting. You are free to answer my "take" on Luke 14. It is the historic, conservative, Baptist understanding on this text. What do you think it is saying? Fire away.

And Tina, I didn't have Sexton in mind, well, for one, I don't know him at all, have never been there, and have hardly talked to anyone that has. But, something must have rung a bell to you to make you think I was talking about him. I wasn't really talking about anyone in particular. No, it wasn't a parody. It did use rhetorical devices, but it pretty well meant to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His approach to ministry. I have preached through all of Matthew, Luke 10-19, all of John, and I'm in Mark on Wednesday nights right now. This is what I've seen in Scripture. I don't mind finding out otherwise. We are to follow Him, after all.

Tina said...

I'm sorry the person that posted a link to your site put his name in "lights" and said he should read your entry.

Blog on.

:)

Tina

Cathy McNabb said...

I'm laughing so hard I could cry. Young Fundy posted a link on the FFF and people have got their undies in a knot because you attacked their god. Infact, you didn't mention any names, young fundy did, they just assumed you were speacking about their idol.

ROFLMBO

BTW good post, but I do have a few questions. When is enough, enough? Who makes the call, man or the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit leads the pastor in having certain events on big days, who am I or you to judge the motive?

Gordy said...

Great article. I am tired of all the promotions. Aren't we supposed to "go and preach the gospel" rather than invite and entertain? Are we even supposed to encourage the lost to come to church services? Aren't church services for the edifying of the church? Last month, I wrote an article on my site about this.

Dan said...

Pastor Marty no disrespect, but it really is unclear when you say Pastor Brandenburg is off on what he says Luke 14 is talking about. Then you answer why he is off on that passage because of what he wrote in his article. Really that is trying to be logical by being illogical. Although I would like to see the real reason why you think he is wrong.

Caleb said...

Its interesting that you talked about this. Our wednesday night service was along the lines of this subject. Pastor Krawczyk asked what was it that drew people to Jesus. Luke 15:1,2 says "then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." Jesus attracted those without hope, the vilest of sinners. Pastor said the word draw envokes the picture of a fishing net being drawn to a boat. The people couldn't help but be drawn to him. I agree with what you say about trying to draw a crowd, but I think what drew so many to Jesus is that he said: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Jesus was full of genuine compassion and grace (not the Joel Olstein version of grace). I think that is what will draw crowds. When D.L. Moody was running sunday schools a boy from a couple towns over went every sunday. When asked why he went so far to go to sunday school when there were closer ones the boy responded "people care about you over there."

Kent Brandenburg said...

I do believe that both John the Baptist and Jesus drew crowds, in part, because of their message contrasted so much with what was offered in the religious system of that day. They were offered hope instead of manmade traditions. Of course, a Scriptural message drawing people is fine.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Gordy, I agree.

Young Fundamentalist said...

Looks like somebody drew a crowd here!

Throwback 13 said...

* Gordy said... "Are we even supposed to encourage the lost to come to church services?."
* The reason to bring the unsaved to church is that the church is the body of Christ. It is the only vision of Jesus Christ that the unsaved can see. This is just what Philip did. He brough Nathanael to see Jesus.
* Talking through my hat,
* ... Joel