April 20, 2011

Motive & Meat

PREFACE: This blogpost is NOT in 3D.

Most Americans have grown bored (if not weary) with 3D. This movie craze was big in the 80's and very quickly died. And then for some reason over the last few years, someone decided to try and resurrect it. And most moviegoers who've been asked would rather it just crawl back in the grave. Yet, what are many churches doing this Easter? 3D. Where do I get my glasses?

I'm sure I've said something before to the effect of: "There's a fine line between being creative and relevantly communicating the Gospel (&) feeling like you have to reinvent or market the Gospel." And if I haven't said it before, I'm saying it now. But I'm not really sure there's a line. I don't think there's a balance or anything else of that sort either. I believe there are 2 key forces at work: motive and meat.

Let me be the first to admit that for years I have been part of (or led) creative teams - put together to bring creative, fresh, and unique approaches or ideas to the table for HOW we present the message from scripture. We ask questions like, "What songs have the most relevance with this message? Is there a video that brings this point home even further? Can we use visuals on our stage that capture this idea?" You get the point. But one thing we are NOT trying to do is make the message fit into our creative bubble. We are NOT under the delusion that the Word of God needs our help - or that the Spirit of God is not the one that draws hearts and changes lives. This is our MOTIVE: creatively and uniquely preach the Word.

In doing this, as a pastor it is my calling and commitment that in our quest to be creative and relevant we never sacrifice or dilute or distract from the message clearly presented in the Bible. Over the last 2 decades the idea of "seeker sensitivity" has prevailed. In response to this I've always wondered (and even asked), "Sensitive to what?" Are people who are seeking the Lord - searching for spiritual truth - somehow more easily offended? Are lost people who are looking for hope in need of better entertainment? Are they seriously sitting at home on Sundays wishing there was some good music to listen to? "What I really need to fulfill my life would be a semi-inspiring motivational speech with a witty video in the middle of it!" [I don't think so.] What they need is the Gospel! What they're searching for - and many times don't even know it - is the TRUTH and POWER of God's Word and the life of Christ to eternally change them. And I am by no means saying that churches who are being creative in their methods of communicating this are wrong. But when the creativity is the thing you use to bait and hook people rather than the Gospel itself, you begin to play with fire. You begin to walk toward an approach that dangerously borders on what Paul told Timothy was aimed at "telling people what they want to hear". The meat - the substance of the Word of God - better not be sacrificed. If people aren't going and growing deeper, that's an indictment on the one who's taken the responsibility to preach the Word. At my church, that's me. And my commitment is this: we're going to eat MEAT!

Again, please don't misunderstand me: I'm all about creativity. In fact, I wish I was 10x as creative and innovative as I am. And there are churches out there right now who are not only creatively knocking it out of the park, they're doing it while powerfully communicating the scriptures. But, there are also churches out there today that are putting on a pretty good show. And that's it. And at some point, the curtain will come down.

I'm praying that this Easter the Word of God is preached boldly, compassionately, and that the Spirit of God moves and changes the hearts and lives of people everywhere. Including you and me.

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