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April 30, 2006

Comments

CaliforniaTeacherGuy

What you describe is Church Lite. I see it all over Southern California. It's depressing...

Dr. Mike Kear

"coffee, iTunes, and an Internet connection"

I am sitting here having church and didn't even know it! Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Amen.

Alice Clay

Greg, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. My church has an "alternative" service that has a congregation made largely of recovering alcoholics and addicts. This post has made me think seriously about how we "advertise" as we grow. This is definitely a topic I'll be raising.

In AA/NA we talk about a simple program. Simple to comprehend, difficult to execute. I think it's much like the gospel. The work of the kingdom is likewise simple to understand, but difficult to execute.

Just a thought...

Alex

Kind of like the "Hate church...so did we."

Pathetic. And they don't even know the damage it's causing. How crafty the enemy can be sometimes... Brilliant, actually.

AnabaptistMonk

As a youth minister, I see this often. If it's hard to grasp then kids want to pass on it. They will put extra effort in at school, perhaps, because that will effect their GPA and eventually their ability to get into a good school, fraternity, etc. Difficult things must have some obvious pay-off. It doesn't necessarily need to be immediate, just obvious. Church, on the other hand, if it asks them to do something difficult or perplexing, must have a clear, immediate pay-off. That's where the bait and switch comes in. Youth programs have been doing it for 40 years. It has crept its way into the church in what are now very obvious proportions.

In OKC. People's Church? Don't know much about the community, but the name of the church is bit disturbing. I suppose they are saying, "this place is about you because of God's great love for you" and then in discipleship they begin to understand that existence in Christian community is in actuality about honoring God and serving others. It's splitting hairs, I know, but it does haveaq subtle, harmful quality, I think. Bait. Switch.

Benjamin

"coffee drinks and smoke machines"

I'm lost, where did the hookah come into the story?

Brandon

mmmm....hookah.

Stupid or not, that's a church I'd go to. ;)

Alex

"3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." - II Tim. 4

Seemed appropriate.

Dallas Tim

Greg,

I think you might be going a little too far to the other extreme by your critique of the the ad (which I think you do from time to time to make a point).

I think maybe whoever did the ad was trying to portray the idea that worship/church/etc... is a supposed to an activity that is anticitated and enjoyed. I don't mean "fun" and "all about me" but rather as a joyful response to the God that we worship/serve/etc...

Too many churches have kept their services dated, dusty and in a style that is foreign to contemporary culture. There is nothing in scripture that says we have to have 1950's style church from now on.

I know you question the idea of a "personal relationship with God." I know that's a whole other post, but since I speak from the position that belives that God wants us to know that He desires to (and can) love each of us personally, then we should expect that coming together to corporately respond to His love/holiness/etc... is an honor to be anticipated and enjoyed.

There seems to be a lot of churches who like their members to leave each Sunday feeling like God just "Chewed them a new one."

Maybe the ad in question takes the idea of "fun church" a little too far, but I think that the teaching can be kept clear and understandable (several people on this blog can talk way above me, but they usually keep it at a pace where even I can keep up). Good music is O.K. (It needs to be God-centered, but can still sound great and modern) The lattes... well I guess they could keep it strictly Biblical and serve Mead and Wine. I bet if they had advertised a keg of Celebrator in the church cafe, you wouldn't have been so upset. If I see "Chuurch" and "Happy Hour" used together.... well...

I continue to enjoy your non-perplexing, freakishly good fancy-shmancy blog.

D-Tim

Kalel

Greg, I think you are missing the big picture here. First we need to know who has the free Krispy Kream donuts. Then the free Lattes (dry with 3 shots). I mean free latte, that probably helps me break even on gas. I got to get this mapped out, so I can be to my church on time for free religion. I don't need the smokes though. Pedro, my house boy, rolls my Cubans fresh.

Benjamin

At least Pedro does until we send his ass back across the border where it belongs.

Dwayne "the canoe guy"

Why are you assuming that Pedro is an Illegal? That is pretty damn racist if'n ya ask me!

Alex

In case you are wondering what the next Sunday series Craig will be teaching on is going to be (and this is posted straight off their website):

Coming Soon...
-- Girls Gone Wild --
Just because they're in the Bible doesn't mean they were good girls. There was enough lying, deception and betrayal going on to make even the most desperate housewife blush. But what can we learn from these wily women and their wicked ways? Men and women alike will love this wild five-week series.

Sounds "non-perplexing" to me. And culturally relevant too...

bhickerson

Hey guys! (meant in a truly non-gender sense) I think there are better things to do than for Christian brother's and sisters to bash each other for the size and style of their churches. I cannot think of a more useless exchange. It doesn't even seem like it's about mega's anymore, it seems a lot more personal.

If you don't like Mega's don't go. How complicated is that?

I've been to Life Church... so has my 86 year old mother (who is the best example of a Christian I know)... so have my kids. Three generations found something there to like. I loved Craig's sermon "Christmas is forgiving". I'm not a member.. there are things I didn't like, but I can think of a lot of crap that calls itself "christian" that I would criticize before damning Life Church. Are you kidding me? How many churches are in this town? Are you guys really aware of what's going in other churches? You call Craig stupid... or infer it... take a good look around. He seems to impress a lot of people I've known who I don't consider stupid.

How much of this is about "he's taking our members.. I'm gonna lose my job?... our budget is in the toilet!" I think a shaking up of the church in general is a good thing and Life Church sure seems to be doing that.

By the way I love music... all kinds of music.. and I've found music there that I like... and I'm 50. I also like Gregorian Chant.. and lots of hymns... and I was a rock loving kid in the era where Christian rock was referred to as a tool of the devil.. it hasn't been that long ago. Those arguments were bull then.. and this smells the same. There were folks who thought the same about the Messiah in it's time. All we're doing is the thing that non-church people complain about all the time.. that people in the church are "a bunch of hypocrits.. they preach love but they're all about criticizing and being holier than thou."

If you don't like Life Church... don't go. Wherever you go... try your best to be who God wants you to be.

greg

Brian,

Try this: if you don't like critiques, don't read them. If you don't like the content of a blog, avoid it. Nothing and no one ever gets better without criticism of some kind. What I've done over the past couple years is present a substantive critique of megas (and LC in particular since they're local). If you have a substantive response other than, my mom likes it, I'd love to hear it. If not, please spare us the sermon. I'm weary past telling of jealousy, personal issues and matters of taste being the best responses from LC members and friends.

Benjamin

What kind of American would name their kid Pedro? That's just... silly.

ninjanun

Most churches trying to be 'hip' and 'relevant' or "easy to understand" and "contemporary" all smell/look/sound the same--a "hip" church attracing "hip" people who are seldom challenged beyond their cultural construct.. They're pandering (very well put, btw, greg), not challenging people with living the Gospel (instead of just consuming the message of it). How many sermons are there about being good stewards of our resources by foregoing the shiny new sound system and overhead projector and instead, starting a ministry to help the least of these? Just google the term "real church with real people" and you'll come across 20-odd churches that all claim the same thing, yet don't have a single ministry in place that helps those less fortunate (at least, not that they have available on their websites). I don't want that version of "realness." Eh, now I'm just repeating your points, greg.


"Mega's....more of what you want, less of what you need!" (tm)

Brandon

I think a big part of my frustration for the pandering churches is that they seem to want to attract the popular kids to their services. You know, the white, priviledged, popular, snotty crowd. Not being one of the popular kids, and in fact hating all they stand for, I find myself deeply suspicious of a place that sees it as their goal to attract the popular people in.

Part of the reason I suspect they do this is to promote their "hip" image (see, for example, Rob Bell). Hip churches draw people by the boatload, I suspect because people who attend hope some of the "cool" will rub off on them. And that, freaks the hell out of me. Many of these churches don't care about people being shaped by holy scriptures, but by what's "in". And, if you hadn't noticed, that's not Christianity.

Alex

Yeah. I never would have fit into Lifechurch's youth group or middle school ministry when I was that age. My parents didn't buy me boxers until I was in high school.

bhickerson

Greg,

You're absolutely right. I don't need to read this anymore.

Alex

Touchy...are we?

I agree with Brandon. I went to LC for about 6 months when I was down in Norman and would drive up to the OKC site every Sunday. And every Sunday I saw the same kinds of people, especially the youth and 20 somethings. Basically the popular, significantly more affluant ones from Edmond or PC North (or from the private schools). And I saw how they treated the other kids (of which there were very few). It was disheartening, to say the least.

It's probably pretty apparant that I have a problem with LC and what it stands for and teaches. I still have family that goes there and I see their spiritual stagnance and indifference about certain areas, especially like constructive study into the Scriptures, theology, and other things. Indifference they never had before.

I guess non-perplexing messages are enough these days. Surely not.

ninjanun

You call Craig stupid... or infer it... take a good look around. He seems to impress a lot of people I've known who I don't consider stupid.

Hmm, I didn't know the point of the gospel was to impress people.

I think a shaking up of the church in general is a good thing and Life Church sure seems to be doing that.

Nah, same institution trying to appeal to the masses by pandering; just a fancier wrapper to package it in. Slightly more contemporary method, same tired ol' concept. It's like when a food manufacturer puts their product in a new package and advertises--"same great product, cool new packaging!" Well, if the product was flawed to begin with (seeker-sensitive, seeker-driven, important-people-pandering), I don't care if the music is now cooler, the coffee is now fancy, and the "message" is now "relevent" (whatever the hell that means). I'm not buying it. I wish they'd stop trying to "sell" it.

bob Smietana

Greg

How would you get the attention of church outsiders whose primarily language is consumerism without being transformed into a consumer church. If 80% of the US population stays away from worship each week (which some recent studies based on attendance indicate is the case) - does this kind of ad make more sense?

greg

Bob,

I think we get their attention by befriending them and by faithfully bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel by good works and love of the other. Advertising, as most church growth folks will tell you, accounts for very low single-digit growth at best. And that's usually transfer growth, not church outsiders. Church outsiders aren't looking for a church, so a church with fancy shmancy coffee drinks is still a church--something in which they're not interested.

Joe

These ads (as if no one hasn't really already pointed this out) do not stress relationships. They stress the ideals of church goers more concerned about getting people in their doors then they are about befriending members.

Now, some of the folks whom attend this church do form relationships but if the staff and pastor do not stress the importance of true friendships among believers and non-believers then a pretty good chunk of Jesus' teachings are being misread.

CDT

Shouldn't it be: "...where thou understandest nothing?"

Leighton

It should, in fact. "-eth" was the singular verb tense suffix which later mutated into "-s" or "-es" (presumably because 's' is easier to articulate quickly then 'th'), as in 'he heareth' -> 'he hears', 'she sayeth' -> 'she says', 'she doeth' -> 'she does', and so forth.

On the other hand, "-est", the plural suffix, was later dropped entirely, as in 'they hearest' -> 'they hear', 'they sayest' -> 'they say', 'they doest' -> 'they do', etc.

So translated into plain English, the sign actually reads "You [singular] shouldn't go to a church where you understands nothing." Which is funny, but for an entirely different reason than it's supposed to be.

Leighton

Erm, that should be the other way round--"-est" is singular and "-eth" is plural. Switch my examples too, as they're quite backwards. Should be 'she doest' -> 'she does' and 'they do[e]th' -> 'they do', and so forth, throughout.

Alice Clay

Leighton killeth me.

Alot of the people joining our church come because they see some of the work we do out in the community or they hear about our alternative service. Some visit because they haven't felt comfortable in other churches, but have heard about us from friends that felt "at home" in ours. When I was in sales, I was told that the very best advertising was word of mouth. Not clever (or attempting to be) ads.

I think it's about what the church does, not what the church offers. We're entertained to death. We need places where we can worship together in community and work together in community.

Alice Clay

I mean, Leighton killest me!

sorry....couldn't resist...

bobstevens

I'm late commenting on all this so no one may ever read it. I'm not the most credible person when I talk about church, since I haven't attended church with any regularity since moving to California two years ago. However, as much as church-lite bugs me, there's something subtle about this that bugs me even more. It is the sense that congregations are competing against one another for members. It's the sense of superiority it takes to post an ad like that... "we're so much better than other churches because a) b) c)".

That's a fine line to walk, though, and I'm walking it when I make this next statement. I think that some of these people fail to understand Christianity. It has managed to morph into something completely unrelated to any teachings of Christ, yet somehow places that purport to relate those very teachings miss these things. Yikes.

bobstevens

Hey guys! (meant in a truly non-gender sense) I think there are better things to do than for Christian brother's and sisters to bash each other for the size and style of their churches.

Ooh, I love this. Especially given that the ad in question was bashing the style of other churches. This kind of thing is what I like to call... irony.

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