Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pondering Where to Draw the Line...

Today I received an email from one of my best friends. He's pastor of Southern Baptist Church here in Georgia and was instrumental in helping to Reform my soteriology. He is very conservative and has been questioning certain methodologies that are being used today. In his email he asked me to ponder this:

Where the line is concerning to what lengths we should go to to get people to come to the church and be biblical? Concerning: music, special events, facilities, diversity of ministry. I want biblical, scriptural principles that I can use as a measuring stick to govern what I allow and employ in God's church."

Seeing as though I've never been a pastor, I thought I would pose the question here to get some feedback from some other Reformed thinkers who may have grappled with this subject. Feel free to email your reply or leave it in the comment box. My email address is rhettswhips@yahoo.com


Gordan said...

For me, the question is this clear:

What methodology did the apostles use?

Look in Acts, is what I'd say. They ONLY, EVER preached the GOSPEL of a risen LORD.

If people don't come to hear you preach that...so what? Who's in charge of who comes and who doesn't?

Gordan said...

I don't know how to make my font gi-normous here, but...


Nathan White said...


Do I sense the 'Regulative Principle' here anywhere? :)

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

The first thing I would ask is what kind of people is he looking to come to the church? From my understanding, the church service is primarily for saved people. While lost people may be present, and probably are even members of your church, The church is the "body of Christ" and should consist of saved people. If this is the case, one shouldn't need special events to get people to come to the church. It seems to me that biblically, evangelism is a commission to go, not a commission to get the masses to come to you. When we start to use different things simply to "get people to come to church" we become more seeker friendly, and are treading on thin ice. Everything we do in church need not be concerned with boosting church membership, but glorfying God. That's my thoughts on the issue.

Gordan said...


You may be fixated ;)

Kat said...

The problem of today's church is that they're using all methods and activities to bring people to it. That's often seen in worship music and songs. The Regulative Principle is not followed. In Col. 3:16, Paul commands: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts" Singing songs and hymns...worship in general has two purposes: You sing to edify the brethren with the truth and to glorify God. Worship nowadays is used in many churches to make the church attractive. The problem is that they are comforming themselves to the world, and not to Christ.
"If anyone heres leaves impressed with the music we use, the preacher who proclaimed the Gospel, with us...then we have failed. People should be impressed at church with the glory, majesty and greatness of the Lord we sing to and preach of"
How should they come if nobody preaches the Gospel?

Nathan White said...

Kat said: The Regulative Principle is not followed.

There you go. Kat nailed it.

Not to grind the ax, but if,

A) God's sovereignty is taught, understood, and embraced.

B) Sola Scriptura means just that.

C) Regulative Principle is a logical conclusion that fixes the problem.

Rhett said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I will forward all this to my friend.


Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Rhett, I would also ask consider question. As we talked about your friend who is even considering different childrens programs and things like that ask this: Are we seeking to just get alot of kids (or people if its an adult thing) or are we seeking to disciple the people of God with the word of God? How one answers this question determins what kind of methods they will allow. Are we entertaining or are we edifying and evangelizing? If the answer is entertaining then don't do it. The question I don't believe is what is allowed, but what is my motive. Once we evaluate our motive for what we do, then we can evaluate our method.

Joe said...

Hey Everyone,
I'm Brother Joe, the one who asked the question. As Rhett said, I pastor a small, conservative, Southern Baptist Church. Your comments were thoughtful, but I am looking for something to really stand on. I am VERY reformed and hold to all of the Sola's with great tenacity. My desire is not to see "how far" I can go and still be in God's camp, I want to understand what Paul is TRULY speaking of in 1 Corinthians 9:22 concerning our ministry today?
I want God to be glorified by my ministry and that of His church. I just want to know more on how to do that. I don't care about the crowds. I just want the LORD to be pleased. In our culture today, bearing that in mind, what should our ministry look like? Thank you for your feedback. Soli Deo Gloria
Brother Joe

Rhett said...

Hey Joe!!

Welcome to the blogosphere! Thanks for clarifying the question brother. Talk to you soon...

Be blessed


Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 is an incredible passage. I am one who believes that we must engage the culture so long as it does not leave the bounds of Scripture. Doing church in the heart of Africa would be much different than church in South, Georgia. Church in the backwoods of Tennessee will be different than church in the middle of Los Angeles, California. There has to be some way to be culturally relevant and doctrinally sound. You wouldn't have African Tribal music as your congregational music in Metter, Ga. (Although that might be cool for a special service!)

Demographics will play a huge role, what kind of people surround our church? If it is country people, they bass guitars and drum sets might not work out. If it is a church full of young people from their 20's to 30's, it might be wise to examine certain stylistic elements of the worship service.

I will end by saying this: Style can change, style may need to be adapted to fit the culture. SUBTSTANCE CANNOT CHANGE. While our style may vary from culture to culture, as it does, what we preach and what our foundation is should be constant. Have the foundation of God's unchanging word, and as you preach that in various cultures, your style may indeed vary in how those unchanging truths are proclaimed.

Pastor Joe said...

Thanks for your taking the time to answer this one. I've been gathering data on this one for years. I'm looking for more specifics. The foundation and message are NON-NEGOTIABLE. I'm extremely firm on that. I'm not into gimmicks or any ulterior motive or crowd gathering tactics. Specifically, if Paul was writing with this day and time in mind...what would he be describing in reality. What would, should, or could Paul's idea of that passage look like today. I know that question gets tougher with the specifics, but if we didn't have to think on these things, what fun would that be? God Bless you greatly for praying, poring over, and preparing a response.

Reformation NOW,

Brother Joe