Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Selling Jesus

OK, I've been holding back on writing this because it seriously gets my goat, and I don't know how dispassionately I can discuss it, but here we go... I hate the way some churches go about evangelism. I hate how marketing principles have crept into drawing non-Christians into the church. I hate how getting people to church and to make a decision has become the point of evangelism.

Here are some of the bad reasons that church marketing uses get people to come to church:

  • We have a great "worship experience"
  • Jesus wants to make you happy
  • Jesus wants to make you rich
  • Jesus wants to make you fit & healthy
  • Jesus wants to help you have the best sex ever

All these examples fall into two errors:

  1. Conforming to the world by promoting the cult of Me
  2. Selling Jesus on His "lifestyle benefits"

All these reasons are NOT about Christ but about people. It sends the message that church and Christianity is about us not about Christ. It does not matter to Jesus one bit how great the music is if it isn't centred on Him. He seeks those who worship "in spirit and in truth" not necessarily those who worship "in tune and in time". If it's about the "worshipper" and how much we enjoy the experience then we are seeking our own pleasure NOT worship of God. This is not worship of God but idolatry. I am not saying we are not allowed to enjoy worship, but the lights/smoke/volume/rockingness is secondary to the question of whether we have worshipped God in spirit & truth.

All the other reasons listed above, Jesus wants to make you happy, rich, healthy and for you to have great sex also fall into this trap of being about us rather than Christ. It is attempting to sell Jesus in exchange for money/health/sex. Jesus is not going to give us health, wealth, great sex in exchange for our love. The cross should be enough to gain our love as it is the ultimate sign of His love for us.

Does Jesus want good things for us? Yes, but ALL this is secondary to the truth of the gospel. People who teach these things as primary to the gospel are dancing dangerously close to Paul's definition of "false teachers" in 1 Tim 6, who preach that "godliness is a means to financial gain" (v5). I think Paul would be happy with my broadening the application to "godliness is a means to health, wealth and HOT sex!!"

All of this I think stems out of an unhealthily Arminian view of salvation. We need to remember predestination, those who are going to be saved are going to be saved, so we don't need to twist their arm. We need to "go" (NB. See the great commission, "go into the world" not "get them to come to church") and do a honest job of "witnessing" (NB. Interesting that the bible uses the word "witness" not "sell" or "market"). Yes the human will has a role in salvation, but to be a true convert you need not just to make a decision for Jesus, but you need to be predestined, called, regenerated, granted faith and repentence, justified before God and adopted into His family. All these things God does. If there is any role of our will in the process it's only because He enables us to do it, the decision is not a saving work!! (i.e. If making the decision saved us, it would be a work not grace that saves us).

Anything good that God does in our lives after salvation is as much pure grace as salvation itself. It is presumptuous to assume that He will do it, although it is in His character to give good gifts to His children. However it does not make a good basis for relationship, to love Him for what He can give us, rather than for who He is. I feel so strongly about this because I hate anything that seperates people from God, especially those things that have the appearance of bringing uscloser but in actual fact still divide. To try and trick people into coming to Jesus by manipulating them with their idols is sick. Idols do not lead people to Christ.

Nothing else in life is of any value in comparison to knowing Jesus. Even when that brings suffering and pain. Faith needs to be based on who Jesus is. If faith is based on the blessings of God, then if people do not "get what they signed up for" they will abandon the faith. Which is to say their faith was never IN Jesus to begin with, although they may have thought they were Christian because they prayed the sinner's prayer.

Just to finish on a bit of a lighter note, I found this vid on YouTube, talks about It's-all-about-Me worship:

God bless,

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