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Editor's Note: In this article Jared Moore offers his (often controversial) thoughts on the sacred cows that need tipped in the church today. We invite you to share your feedback--your disagreements and affirmations--and encourage you to offer your own list of "sacred cows" in the comment section below. 

1. Entertainment-based Sermons

Pastors/elders/teachers want to be liked. Some want to be liked so much that they’re willing to entertain their hearers while preaching the Bible. They wrongly assume that because people enjoy their sermons, they enjoy Jesus, as well. The problem is that if we’re seeking to entertain our hearers, then we don’t believe God or Scripture can hold the attention of God’s people. In other words, you may say, "The Bible is worthy of your attention,” but if you’re using entertainment to communicate this, then you’re undercutting your message with your methods. If the Bible is worthy to be heard because God is its Author, then you shouldn’t have to use entertainment to get Christians to listen to it. You just might be entertaining your hearers to death.

2. Bribes

Easter Sunday was just a few weeks ago. With the heightened cultural interest in the resurrection of Christ, churches pulled out all the stops to persuade attendees. Churches gave away cars, money, iPads, food, etc. Should churches bribe sinners to attend worship services? Here are four realities about bribing sinners: 1) Bribing people to hear the gospel is absent from Scripture. 2) Bribing people to attend a worship service encourages them to attend worship for sinful reasons. 3) Bribing people to attend a worship service communicates the opposite of the gospel. 4) Bribing people to attend worship does not make disciples. Due to these reasons, I think Christians bribe sinners to hear the gospel because they’ve reversed the order of the two greatest commandments: First, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Bribing people exalts loving one’s neighbor above loving God, because the purpose of evangelism is to glorify God, not to glorify sinners or Christians.

3. Revivalistic Quotas

Numbers, numbers, numbers—that’s what’s emphasized throughout evangelicalism. Is there anywhere in Scripture where Israel’s strength or the church’s strength were in numbers? No. Is there anywhere in Scripture where God evaluated His church or their ministry based on numbers? No. So why is there a huge emphasis on numbers today? The answer is because, in the Western part of the world, bigger is better. Some also argue that numbers are important because souls are important, but if you really care about souls, you’ll labor to make disciples, not to merely baptize unrepentant, salvation-ignorant people who do not understand the lifelong commitment they’re making. The Great Commission has been redefined today as baptizing those who confess Christ as Lord, with the Great Omission being the command to “teach these Christians everything that Christ has commanded” (Matt. 28:18-20). Repentance and faith in Christ is the beginning of Christianity.  When a believer is baptized, he or she has just begun his or her public identification with Christ. In order to truly fulfill the Great Commission, the local church must take these baptized believers and teach them everything Christ has commanded.

4. Selfish Motives in Worship

Have you ever heard another believer say about worship, “I didn’t get anything out of that.” Next time you hear this, say, “It’s not about you.” God alone deserves to be glorified in worship. The only time we shouldn’t get anything out of worship is when God isn’t glorified. If the word of God was sung, prayed, and preached faithfully, and you didn’t get anything out of worship, then repent and worship because God is worthy of worship. Worship is not about us. God is the center of worship, not us.

5. Atmosphere-induced Nostalgia

The goal of worship is to glorify God, not to feel good. Have you ever read the Psalms, the hymnal of God’s people for thousands of years? They’re not always happy or joyful. In other words, they’re not nostalgia-inducing. Today’s worship in the local church is largely about an atmosphere that encourages worship. The test of “true” worship is often how good one feels when he or she leaves the worship service. Specific lighting, styles of music, sentimentality, singing phrases over and over, etc. serve to create a euphoric feeling that hearers will long for the rest of their lives. The problem is that the feeling, the nostalgia, becomes the god the believer longs for instead of the true God who is worthy of worship when believers feel like it and when they don’t.

6. "Relevant" Sermons

There is such a large emphasis on preaching “relevant” sermons today, which often translates to sermons that “meet people’s needs,” regardless how selfish, narcissistic, and godless these needs may be. The preacher’s goal is not to make the Bible relevant, but to help his hearers see how relevant the Bible is! The Bible is the Word of God and is timelessly relevant! The Bible transcends all societies, cultures, fads, etc. If you’re “making the Bible relevant,” then change your name to “the Holy Spirit.”

7. Relativistic Interpretation

There’s an emphasis in our culture on being tolerant of other individuals and their ideas. This mentality has infiltrated the church, as well. Various interpretations of Scripture are tolerated, often based on the perceived sincerity of an individual instead of the intrinsic social, historical, and grammatical properties of the text itself. The text does not have multiple meanings, but one meaning that has multiple applications. We cannot act like interpreters who have more authority than the author who originally penned the words. It doesn’t matter what we “think” or “feel” about the text. What matters is what the author meant, what his recipients understood, what the Holy Spirit intended, and how all these truths apply to our daily lives. Don’t jump authorial intent to make yourself the “new author” by applying the text beyond the meaning of the text.

8. Parenting and Ministering for Man’s Applause Instead of God’s Glory

Something that’s interesting about much of children’s ministry and youth ministry is that ministers are terribly concerned with being liked by these immature Christians or unbelievers. They’re desperately concerned with their hearers enjoying their songs, prayers, and sermons. Furthermore, parents are very concerned with whether or not their children enjoy going to worship at a local church. What happened to truth? What about God?  What happened to “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”? Ministers and parents everywhere, for sake of hearing the applause of children and youth, are compromising the truth on the altar of being liked or possessing an easy life. I realize if a child hates church, then every worship service you attend will be a battle, but that doesn’t free you to give your child another reason other than God to attend worship. Furthermore, if you’re a minister, don’t believe children and youth love Jesus because they love entertainment, and you’re trying to communicate the gospel through entertainment. How can you get a selfish person to see the value of Jesus and their need for Him by appealing to their selfishness? If children and teenagers are saying, “I don’t care if God has spoken or not—I won’t listen to Him unless you entertain me,” then they neither love God, Jesus, His Word, or the local church.

9. Unchristian Love

Love has been radically redefined in the local church as being “accepting of all, while holding no one accountable to Biblical faithfulness.” How many churches consistently practice Biblical discipline? Very few. Even though God has always held His people accountable to His Word, and even though Biblical discipline is commanded in Scripture, local churches have redefined Christian love to include “tolerance of unrepentant sin” while excluding “loving accountability to God’s Word.”

10. Demigod Evaluations

If you and I evaluate our ministries, defining them as “successful” or “unsuccessful” based on our own arbitrary observations, then we’re making demigod evaluations. A demigod is a deified mortal. In order to truly evaluate our ministries as successful or unsuccessful, we must have God’s all-knowing evaluating ability.  In most conferences and denominations, those who are held up as examples are those who have large churches. They’re often held up as examples because of demigod evaluations carried out by those in various leadership positions. These ministers may be more successful or they may not be. The truth of the matter is that we cannot accurately evaluate our ministries or other people’s ministries beyond the Word of God, as if we know the hearts of everyone who attends these churches. In other words, faithfulness to Scripture should govern and motivate your ministry, not a demigod evaluation made by you or others. Pursue faithfulness to Scripture in light of Christ’s redeeming work, not arbitrary ego-boosting or “calling of God” destroying submission to demigod evaluations.

What are your thoughts?



Jared has served in pastoral ministry since 2000. He is the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is the author of 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is married to Amber and they have four children. He is a teaching assistant for Bruce Ware at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and a  PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS. You can take Jared's Udemy Course, "How to Enjoy God Through Movies, TV, Music, Books, etc." with this link for 43% off. Engage popular culture with Scripture. Enjoy God through popular culture.

 

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Talk about it...

Lori Broschat

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared, I think you have the hit the mark with this list, and I'm sure we could add several more. It's refreshing to see someone expose these things for what they are, which is a pandering that has no place in authentic Christian faith. I had a clergy mentor who told me he didn't preach the Bible, but "short, relevant sermons that didn't take up a lot of people's time." Don't they call those commercials?

Bw Hambrick

commented on May 5, 2012

You are right on! Those we are tryong to reach often mock us for our foolishness. They are not interested in our trickery. They want what is real--that is the life changing power of the risen Lord. BW

Horace Wimpey

commented on May 5, 2012

AMEN!!!!!

J. Jones

commented on May 5, 2012

@Lori I love your comment. :D

Byron Vanarsdale

commented on May 5, 2012

Good job, sir.

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

I'm giving 5 stars because the heart of the article sounds right. We as discerning listeners need to be careful not to judge others by these 10 points superficially. For example, Jared said: "Is there anywhere in Scripture where Israel?s strength or the church?s strength were in numbers? No." Actually, God takes several census' of Israel for His glory, and the book of Acts records numbers several times for God's glory. At the same time, King David took a census for his own glory and God judged him VERY harshly for it.

Joel Hasz

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared, In your first point you say "Some (Pastors) want to be liked so much that they?re willing to entertain their hearers while preaching the Bible." If by "entertain you mean they draw attention to themselves, they care more about being liked, and they never get around to delivering God's message to God's people - then yes, that is bad. If by entertainment you mean they deliver the message with excellence, they hold the listeners attention and they use communications methods that help make the message memorable - then I think they are doing their job well. How sad to see a preacher (and we've all seen them) take God's Word and deliver it in such a fashion that the hearer couldn't wait for it to be over and didn't remember what God wanted them to hear. God's Word is powerful and even a boreing speaker can't hold it back - but doesn't "Doing your work as unto the Lord" mean that pastors shouldn't just phone in their sermons, but rather shouldn't we work hard to study, pray and craft a sermon that helps our listeners actually hear? Jesus is a great example of this! He often used engaging stories to teach rather than just read the Old Testament. Did Jesus "entertain?" I think in the best sense of that word (see above, and be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction to that sentence) He did! I would say that I agree with about half of what you have written in your piece - just FYI

David Parks

commented on May 5, 2012

Outstanding! Right on target in so many ways. BTW this is a great idea for a Tile for a sermon series or set of lessons.

Will Nunn

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared, thank you for this. If I had to summarize your piece, I'd say: "Preach to make disciples of Jesus, who follow Jesus, love Jesus, obey Jesus." Negatively, "we should not be preaching to make disciples of ourselves." When Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Christ," the emphasis can't be on following Paul...that would be silly at least. The emphasis must be on following our Lord as He leads us. That said, I think the way we change the behavior of the church is two-fold: 1.) lead by making disciples in our own churches and keep praying that in decades and generations to come - unless the Lord comes quickly, Maranatha! - the Church would leave the fads and make disciples regardless of cultural differences, and 2.) to some extent ignoring a good portion of the resources available to proclaimers of the Word and opt first and primarily to hear from the Lord through His Word and prayer, listen to our people so we can exegete them and explain and apply the truth well, and then look at secondary sources to ensure we're not completely off our rocker. May we all rightly divide His Word for His glory.

Rob Strong

commented on May 5, 2012

Sacred cows? Are you serious? Does the writer know wha a sacred cow is? This list is spoken with a saturation of control and self-righteousness. A young man who has spent 12 years in one denomination somehow has the final list on what is right and wrong in the world of preaching? And one interpretation? Seriously? Who taught you that? If that lecture you gave were true, then why do we have a plethora of denominations and seminaries and schools who disagree on many aspects of scripture? The writer is tirelessly self-assured and thus incredibly judgmental and naive and could use some time in other arenas. And I am so saddened by the individuals who cheer this narrow thinking. Please, someone else speak up.

Steven Landers

commented on May 5, 2012

While overall I do agree with this article, there is one problem that I want to point out. In point #3 you state "Is there anywhere in Scripture where God evaluated His church or their ministry based on numbers?". If you read the book of Acts, it states over and over again how many people are added to the kingdom.

Keith B

commented on May 5, 2012

Outstanding article.

Steven Landers

commented on May 5, 2012

While overall I do agree with this article, there is one problem that I want to point out. In point #3 you state "Is there anywhere in Scripture where God evaluated His church or their ministry based on numbers?". If you read the book of Acts, it states over and over again how many people are added to the kingdom.

Charles Mallory

commented on May 5, 2012

Sacred Cow #11...Facility Possessiveness. Understanding that "membership" doesn't mean "ownership." I realize there is great comfort in routine and familiarity, but we must be open to guests, future members and others who may sit in "our" pew or "take our spot" where we normally park. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to take all the "donated by" and "in honor of" plaques and name plates off of the walls, hymnals, pews, etc to keep from sending any "wrong signals" to those who are new to the church. I have been amazed at how many people have been made to feel like an "outsider" because of all the "donated by" nameplates displayed all over the church. I realize some may be offended or see this as extreme...and it is, to some degree. But, as a Pastor, I think a "step back" to remind ourselves that the Church is a holy temple and not our spiritual "club house."

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 5, 2012

Rob, by your spastic response, I'm gonna guess that a couple of these stepped on your toes a tad. I would file that under the, "yep these are obviously sacred cows" column.

Thomas James

commented on May 5, 2012

It seems as though I'm by myself here but I think the author needs to "get over himself". While he makes a few good points he also misses the mark many places. To deny the relevance of "numbers" as being important is often simply an justification for not seeing people walk the aisle. Numbers ARE important because behind each number is indeed a soul that by the very fact they are present has the opportunity to have their life changed by the power of the gospel. While I'd say "entertainment based sermons" are off base if we are talking about the Joel Osteen don't worry, be happy theology it's almost as if Jared is saying its okay to be as dry as I buttered toast as long as you use the scripture. I think people can find a Preacher to be a good communicator of the gospel and with the proper use of humor even entertained at times. But that does not equate the gospel being watered down or preaching to itching ears! Question... How do we have "Gods all knowing evaluating ability"? The only way I know how to evaluate my or any ministry is by asking are people being conformed to the image of Christ? Are people being equipped to do the work of the ministry? Is life change happening that is honoring to God? Again I think Jared makes some good points but I also believe h throws under the proverbial bus those who choose to evaluate ministry and the disciple making process differently, who maybe use a different style of communication than He does. Got me thinking ... That's for sure!

Rob Strong

commented on May 5, 2012

Actually, Zachary, no. I'm sitting on a soccer sidelines between games right now typing with my thumbs ... and I'm not good at it. But to respond to you ... it is possible to disagree with someone. It doesn't mean that my toes were stepped on. To reiterate my point, the writer has thrown down almost an official "this-is-how-u-do-it-and-I-know-I'm-right" article and anytime someone does that, they welcome disagreement and opinions. I also react negatively to self-righteousness and judgment of this kind. I apologize if I'm too harsh.

Thomas James

commented on May 5, 2012

Rob ... WELL SAID! You are able to summarize in far fewer words the angst and uneasiness I felt reading this. And I DON'T believe thats because your or my "toes were stepped on"!

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 5, 2012

Suggesting that we feed the sheep and not entertain wolves is now "self-righteousness" and "judgment," eh? Reminds me of Steven Furtick (via Chris Rosebrough). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8SLFcOIX_Q

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 5, 2012

Suggesting that we feed the sheep and not entertain wolves is now "self-righteousness" and "judgment," eh? Reminds me of Steven Furtick (via Chris Rosebrough). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8SLFcOIX_Q

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

@ Zachary Bartels - you present a false dichotomy. Those are not the only two choices. Here's a clear dichotomy: Presenting the truth with creativity is faithful. Creatively interpreting the message in a way that changes the message is bad. From the comments, I've read. No one is arguing that we should change the message. (Although, I think the detractors should also read more carefully and respond more graceously because Jared parses out several of these in such a way where they are only deemed to be sacred cows if they stem from wrong motives. It then follows that there is a right angle and a right motive with wich to approach each of these cows.)

Rob Strong

commented on May 5, 2012

Zachary, you're not understanding me and so I must not be communicating well. You're suggesting that the writer has proposed THE only way to "feed sheep" and that anyone who disagrees is not. I can see we're not going to see eye to eye. I'll leave you with this ... the reason I'm pushing against this article is because of my years of my own self-righteousness. I believed so much of what this writer wrote. But over the years, I've been humbled over and over to realize that "either-or" used in broad strokes isn't ultimately healthy. That doesn't mean I don't believe in scripture or truth ... just man's handling of it has been passionately debated for too many years to claim you have the corner and "most correct" interpretation of it. It's really a call to humility, not compromise.

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

10 anti-cows. 1- Truth presented with accurate creativity. 2- Mercy. 3- Celebration of God's work (rather than validation of ours). 4- The natural joy of Trinity-centered worship. 5- see previous.

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

10 anti-cows (pt 2). 6- Show how our culture needs to change by God's truth (rather than changing the message to fit the culture) 7- see previous. 8- Ministering because God has already approved of us through the Gospel (if we have truly believed it.)

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

(pt 3). 9- Love like God by rejoicing with the Truth and with faith that only the Truth can truly bless people while having genuine concern for their immediate

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

(pt 4). 10- Forget what is behind (good

Ben Gengler

commented on May 5, 2012

I keep getting cropped. sorry

Mark Baker

commented on May 5, 2012

Great article. More people need to take these to heart. I am very encouraged that someone else recognizes these as serious problems...AND says something about it. As far as the numbers thing. I thought he was clear. He did not say "more people saved or sanctified is not good." What he is saying is that "numbers, numbers, numbers" as the measure for success is deeply flawed, misleading, and ultimately wrong (at least that is what I believe ... and believe he is saying). Of course we all want MORE people to come to Christ. Yet we have little control over this (see Jeremiah). What is more, it can easily be argued that large numbers are not a good sign, but BAD (Matt 7:13-14; this is also to say that small numbers do NOT necessarily, therefore, mean "success"). If we are merely seeking large numbers (i.e. quantity... over quality) then we will be tempted to compromise with other "techniques" or "business principles" or "church growth principles"--as so many churches and pastors are doing today--rather than pure faithfulness to God, God's Word, and the people around us and entrusting the outcome (or numbers) to God. "There is a way that seems right, BUT..." I think we know the rest...

Jeff Combs

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared asks is there anywhere God evaluates his church based on numbers? How about the book of Acts, chapter 2 doesn't it say something about God adding to their NUMBERS daily? I agree with Jared about the Bible being relevnt, but I also believe it is my job as a teacher of the Word to HELP people understand it by preaching relevant sermons. And while we are on sacred cows, how about writing an article and then listing all those initials that are supposed to impress me?

Robert Sickler

commented on May 5, 2012

Very good but it is obvious that the Emergent folks and the Post-Modern Folks and the Prosperity folks and the feel good folks will not agree with you.

Jared Moore

commented on May 5, 2012

People keep pointing to Acts as proof that God looks at numbers as a basis for church health. I would love to see the Scripture that proves this. Numbers are indeed mentioned, but why are they mentioned? Is it because God has a quota or is it because Luke, as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit, accurately recorded the history of the early church? To my knowledge, there's no where in Scripture where God uses numbers as a basis for faithfulness in ministry. If more numbers = more faithfulness, then Christ and the disciples were failures at various points in their ministries. Are we prepared to say this? Our responsibility is to continue laboring in the gospel regardless the response. So, to pastors who don't have a lot of numbers and to those who do, continue laboring in the gospel until every single unbeliever is born again in Christ. Our work isn't done until we leave this Earth. Continue on for His glory alone!

Robert Sickler

commented on May 5, 2012

Socialist Missions ? The church sets out to be the solution to all the problems in society. They do not, however, attempt to cure with scripture; they treat the problems with church missions. They will feed you, cloth you, help you sober up and hold your hand; but, they will never look you in the eye and tell you that it is time to get right with Jesus and obey what He teaches.

Thomas James

commented on May 5, 2012

If numbers are "unimportant" why did the Holy Spirit inspire Luke to tell us the exact number of people saved that day? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire him to tell us the "Lord added daily to the church those that were being saved?" I'm not saying numbers are either a gage for success or failure ... Just don't lash out at those who speak about numbers and assume their attitude is that of pride and arrogance. And because we don't agree with the author we are deemed post-modern, emergent, or prosperity gospel????? Please ... How about we are brothers who have a different perspective than that of the author or you?

Jared Moore

commented on May 5, 2012

Thomas, something that's interesting about the numbers mentioned in Acts is that many times the women and children weren't counted, and the numbers were estimated, not exact. Several times, only words like "multitude" or "many" were mentioned as well.

Argyl Dickson

commented on May 5, 2012

Sometimes you feel like you stand alone in a sea of churches more driven by madison avenue then by the Holy Spirit...then I read something like this and realize that I am not alone. For that I thank God who is advancing His church.

Thomas James

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared... So we assume then that when Luke gave us an exact number for Pentecost it was really just a "guess-timation" and that it was his thought not his content that was inspired?

Jared Moore

commented on May 5, 2012

Thomas, something that's interesting about the numbers mentioned in Acts is that many times the women and children weren't counted, and the numbers were estimated, not exact. Several times, only words like "multitude" or "many" were mentioned as well.

Jared Moore

commented on May 5, 2012

Thomas, I think you misunderstand the definition of inspiration. Numbers were used loosely by the Scripture writers. It was actually common in Luke's day to estimate. Concerning inspiration, I believe Luke wrote what he understood to be accurate, and God so superintended the process that what Luke wrote was inerrant. If the author's goal (and God's goal) is to provide an estimate, not an exact number, then that's why the number was estimated.

Roger Lewis

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared, Jesus always made His teaching relevant. That's what the parables are all about. I don't understand you're attitude about using different lures to attract fish Jesus commissioned us to catch. Once caught we teach and disciple them. I certainly haven't done everything right in almost 4 decades of ministry but I think your "sacred cows that need tipping" have become your sacred cow at such a young age.

Bryan Thompson

commented on May 5, 2012

Roger Lewis, "lure" is a decent enough 21st century fishing metaphor, but not very relevant to Jesus' teaching about being fishers of men. I'm pretty sure they fished a bit differently than they do on the Bass Pro Tour. The "lure" analogy makes me think more along the lines of how Satan tempts us and then when we bite he sets the hook. With that said, "I have used some of these devices." Giving away bicycles to the kids who brought the most friends to VBS, finding a way to get the funny joke into a sermon, perhaps more because it was funny than really adding anything important. I'm not saying I agree with everything in the article, but I appreciate the article and I like being challenged.

Dr. Michael Shanlian

commented on May 5, 2012

This is a good discussion. I get nervous when someone comes across as an expert in methodologies. I believe God has blessed teachers and preachers with imagination and creativity. Jared, the only person I have to answer for is me. I pray for all my brothers and sisters in the ministry who sincerely present the Gospel without apology. We need to support one another.

Mark Baker

commented on May 5, 2012

Wow, Scott Maxwell, it seems that perhaps you and I might disagree on Scripture and how we should view God?s Word. I guess I?ll ask a few questions in the hope that you can clarify this for me. You said ... ?It's interesting that Jesus stated on His last night that ?by this all will know you are My disciples if you love one another... as I have loved you.? That was the determining mark... loving like He loves us, NOT LIVING BY THE SCRIPTURES? .... Yes, Jesus said that, and it is true, but what do think about what He said four chapters later? ?I have given them your WORD and the world has hated them.? (Jn 17:14) and ?Sanctify them by the truth; YOUR WORD IS TRUTH? (Jn 17:17); Also, were they really a ?good group of Scripture believers?? Didn?t Jesus clarify their problems with Scripture: ?You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, NOR DOES HIS WORD DWELL IN YOU? and ... ?you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.? They allowed other competing ideas to trump or ?nullify the word of God.? So, Scott, do you agree that the religious leaders did not have a good view of Scripture? Yes, I agree that love is a pillar of Christianity, yet how would you (or me, or anyone else) define what this love should look like? Can we love apart from the truth? Didn?t Jesus say that the ?Word is truth?? Doesn?t this mean we must go back to the Scripture to teach us what love is, and is not? Is it our authority on love, or are their other sources equal or better (e.g. tradition) than the Word? I believe, that we should go to Scripture to understand love and God, etc (God is love). Is the Bible THE Standard, or a standard, when it comes to teaching and living love? Isn?t adherence to and obedience of His Word the expression of love? ... ?The man who says, ?I know him,? but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.?But if anyone obeys his word, God?s love is truly made complete in him.? and Jesus said, ?Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.? Can we love and not live according to the Scriptures at the same time (as you stated ?loving like He loves us, NOT LIVING BY THE SCRIPTURES?)? Do you see how this might be confusing to me? Do you see how it is confusing when you seem to point us away from Scriptures yet you quoted Scripture to make that point?

James Kirby

commented on May 5, 2012

Jared, do you mean "demagogic" in point #10 where you have "demigod"?

Jeff Glenn

commented on May 5, 2012

Great article!

Dan Keeton

commented on May 5, 2012

Well said. Now let's butcher those cows and have some steaks!

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 5, 2012

Rob, we agree that humility is good. Hopefully we also agree that it should not lead us to ditch biblical methodologies in favor of pragmatism and whatever puts "butts in the seats." If so, then all the other disagreements are on nonessentials.

John E Miller

commented on May 6, 2012

Charles Mallory (#14) may I ask you to explain what you meant when you wrote "the Church is a holy temple and not our spiritual clubhouse"?

Matt Worstell

commented on May 6, 2012

Jared, while I appreciate your youthful push towards righting perceived pulpit atrocities, I was about to take biblical issue with 7 of them (shouldn't be concerned about numbers...if it's not about numbers of those being saved,then what's it about...?). However, in light of your book "The Harry Potter Bible Study" I realized quickly that you can't be serious about your post, especially numbers 1 (on entertainment), 2 (bribes), 6 ("relevant"), and 7 (relativistic interpretation)...

Jared Moore

commented on May 6, 2012

Matt, thanks for the comment. What's ministry about? God's glory. Concerning my book, unless you've read it, you can't accurately comment on its contents. Listen to this interview about the contents of my book, and you'll have a better idea about its contents: http://jaredmoore.exaltchrist.com/my-book/. BTW: You got any sermons online? I don't want to listen to them, I just want to read the titles and then tell you how wrong you are :). On a serious note, I would love to hear your biblical reasoning for being opposed to 7 of my points in this article. Keep on keeping on.

Fernando Villegas

commented on May 6, 2012

John E Miller, I would like to request that you refrain from attacking my denomination without any Scriptural basis for your attacks. Can I have your word as a Christian that you will no longer do so?

Jonathan Filson

commented on May 6, 2012

What in the world has happened that we as ministers of the Gospel would act this way? It is okay to disagree and to not like what the author has written but it is so wrong to attack a brother. I enjoyed the article and I don't quite agree with everything but I do believe that my proper response is to pray for my brother in those areas we don't agree on - not bash him in an open forum. God bless.

Russell Thompson

commented on May 6, 2012

Go Jared; Go Jesus- the aroma of beef on the grill is sweet to our Lord. Blowing smoke in everyone's face and making them think they are on Holy Spirit fire is truly pandering to a paying audience and calling it church and precisely why the unbelieving world stays unbelieving.

Roger Lewis

commented on May 7, 2012

Bryan, when I use the word "lure" I am referring to methods. Methods are not sacred. Thanks for making me clarify that. BTW I like being challenged too and was assuming the author does as well given the tone of the article.

Dustin L. Jones

commented on May 7, 2012

It is interesting that Jared writes about taking out "relevant sermons" and talks about relativistic messages when he wrote a book using Harry Potter and the Bible. Seems a little ironic.

Candi Kusler

commented on May 7, 2012

good article...usually when people begin to argue or feel something welling up inside of them whether it be anger or frustration is usually a form of conviction...I have been wrestling with my own selfcenteredness in worship...my own idols of materialism and how I use them to bribe or lure others to Chirst...I have wrestled with my children learning about the only reason we go to Church is to be entertained and that is narcistic...We pulled our children out of an excellent entertaining Children's Church just recently and we are attending a Church where they sit in service with us..they hated it because they were bored and church is supposed to be fun all the time...It's been a struggle but you know the other day my 9 year old told me that he learned something from the pastor and he said mommy it's taking root in my heart...before when attended they came out of the service not remembering what they learned but they felt good...God is teaching us that Church is not about us...It's about HIM...and we see how we have bought into the lie of americanized consumerism...and brought it into the Church...Jarod you are on target with what you said and accountability is so important unfortunately many Christians ...specifically some I have seen comment on here don't like accountability...they see it as judgement...LOL...

Thomas James

commented on May 7, 2012

Candi, So let me get this straight ... because I have a difference of opinion and do not share all of the author's views I am under "conviction" and do not wish to be held "accountable"? How about the possibility that there are Christian brothers and sisters who simply see things differently than you or the author? You speak of judgment in your comments ... I would encourage you to try and read your words through the eyes of another. I think if you are able to do that you will see that your comments ARE rather judgmental and condescending to anyone who might differ from you. Rather than simply saying we can agree to disagree you cast a shadow over those who have a different opinion, and I'm sorry, but in my book that meets the criteria for "judgment"!

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 8, 2012

Roger Lewis, how can you say that the reason Jesus taught in parables was to make his teaching "relevant to everyone," when he said the EXACT OPPOSITE: Matthew 13:10-15 10 ? Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: "'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Hear now the parable of the sower . . . [Jesus then explains the parable of the sower, just to the disciples.]

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 8, 2012

It's perhaps even clearer in the other synoptics: Luke 8:9ff His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND. 11 "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God... Mark 4:10ff As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN."

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 8, 2012

Ben Gengler, not sure how I missed your comment to me, but I guess I just figured everyone would know that was a reference to a very famous sermon by Charles Spurgeon. Without that context, I suppose I can see how it looks like I'm drawing a simplistic false dichotomy with the ref to entertaining wolves and feeding sheep.

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 8, 2012

Jared, Thank you for your very insightful analysis into American Christianity as a whole. Reading some of these comments tells me that we all have long way to go to restore in our churches the priority of our Lord. Jesus was certainly not entertaining. He used parables, as one commentator said, to in some ways "hide" the truth, (perhaps as a way of testing the hearers to see how interested they were in spiritual things). And if we look at John 6, for example (one among many), when Jesus challenged those who "followed" Him (because the "felt needs" of those who hung around Him were met) we read that they no longer followed Him. But what we don't emphasize is that Jesus never went after them! In fact, Jesus even turned to His apostles and asked them if they would go away as well. To another observation, numbers are a poor criteria to judge success. If we read carefully the book of Acts, it wasn't so much about big gatherings but about the disciples going everywhere preaching the good news. The main reason why the Church grew was not people going out to bring in the lost; it was the disciples going to the lost. When we seek to evangelize on Sunday morning (by using bribes and relevant preaching--whatever that is--to bring in the lost), instead of using that valuable time to equip the SAINTS for the work of ministry and having the SAINTS come together for worship, then I can see that getting "butts in seats" would be a "good" criteria for success. After all, the more numbers in the audience listening to the paid professional give the gospel is the way we are supposed to do this, isn't? Jesus told us to make disciples--that is, transformation as we engage people, life on life.

Thomas James

commented on May 8, 2012

Question ... does "making disciples" and placing a large amount of "butts in the seats" have to be mutually exclusive? Isn't it possible and I'd say even probable that the Lord would want us to make Christ-like disciples and as many of them as possible. I often ask our people when you go "fishing" do you want large fish or lots of fish? And the answer, at least for me is "yes" ... I want lots of large fish! So for me I want to see people grow into Christ-like Christ-following disciples and I want to see as many as we can possibly reach have that happen in their life!

Anonymous

commented on May 8, 2012

Thanks Jared! I'd like to suggest 2 important nuances. Numbers are important otherwise why an entire book about numbers entitled Numbers. I once read that "God works through ppl and in Numbers this emphasis is done through repeated use of numbers." If repetition is a common device in the world of the OT we ought to pay attention to numbers. A NT example would be the book of Acts. Isn't it interesting that the book that deals with the birth of the early church also contains repeated records of numbers (numbers of converts, numbers of ppl present at gatherings, etc). I think there needs to be both qualitative and quantitative scoring/evaluation/measures. Also concerning Entertainment-based Sermons. I think we need to be discerning between the preachers who just offer entertainment and those who actually recognize how interesting the Word is and fearfully yet skilfully let that quality of the Word shine and be communicated in creative ways. Knowing how to use the visual/audio/experiential/artistic aids available to the body to helps the hearers experience the beautiful power of God's word is something many preachers have neglected.

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 8, 2012

The question, Thomas James, is exactly who it is to do the fishing? Is it the pastor on Sunday mornings or the disciples who go into their spheres of influence Monday through Saturday? It seems, to me at least, the problem we have in American Christianity as a whole is that there are FAR too many evangelists in the pulpits than pastor/teachers. A pastor/teacher's ministry on Sunday is equipping the saints, NOT evangelism according to Ephesians 4:11-12. Evangelism the job of the sheep! As one astute pastor told me one day, "sheep beget sheep", not shepherds. A pastor is also a sheep, who "begets" sheep when he is not in the pulpit.

Thomas James

commented on May 8, 2012

Glenn, I do agree with your coments that our job is the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). I also agree that "sheep beget sheep". but having said that I will often remind my people I share my faith and try to evangelize not because I'm a pastor but because I'm a Christian and that's what we believers are called to do. As far as "evangelists in the pulpits" ... I'm sorry but that has to be a good bit of what we do, especially on Sunday mornings. Any pastor knows the trouble of unregenerate members; we all have them. Jesus gave the parable of the wheat and tares to show this would be the case. We must share the gospel on Sundays and give people the opportunity to experience life-change that's only found in Christ. When the apostle Paul wrote to his son in the ministry Timothy, he told him to "preach the word" in 2 Timothy 4:2. He does so in the context of those who will not endure sound doctrine but rather gather preachers that are easy to listen to, that tickle their ears. Then in verse 5 .. in the same context of preaching the word to these who are likely unregenerate Paul specifically says "do the work of an evangelist." While I can certainly agree to the fact Timothy was to do this outside of his preaching, in the context of the passage it most assuredly implies he is to do in the context of his preaching as well!

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 8, 2012

Thomas James, And that underscores my point. Why is it that so many of our congregants are unregenerate? In my opinion, it is precisely because of the "evagelism on Sunday morning" model of how we do church, which has apparently been a phenomenon of American Christianity for many years, and goes back to the sacred cows we're talking about. When Paul, Peter, John and even James wrote their letters, what did they assume about their audience? Seldom, if ever did they write to any so-called "unregenerate faction" in the church. And when the letters were circulated to the different churches, what was the content the pastors of those churches preached? The content of the letters the apostles wrote to the believers. As a pastor, I give invitations to the unregenerate in my midst, but that is not my focus. Of course, I'm well aware that there are unsaved in the congregation. I'm glad of that. But, again, my main ministry on Sundays is to the saved, not the lost. My prayer is that saved in the congregation reaches out to the lost--that is what I tell those in my congregation--often. Especially if somebody in the congregation brought an unsaved friend. They would be much more equipped to reach that person that I ever could, simply because of the relationship the saved friend has with them. And if the saved congregant is not equipped, due to my lack of training that person, then the fault lies with me.

Thomas James

commented on May 8, 2012

No the reason we have unregenerate membership is NOT primarily to how we "do ministry" but because we have an enemy that has blinded the eyes of the lost ... As Paul said "they have a form of godliness but deny the powere thereof". I still don't find you willing to deal with the fact of 2 Timothy 4 where Paul tells Timothy to preach the word and in that context of preaching to what in essence can be viewed as unregenerate members that he it to "do the work of an evangelist". I believe in the sovereignty of God in seeing people saved. But to paraphrase the late Adrian Rogers ... "I find it interesting that churches out knocking on doors and preachers who preach evangelistically that God seems to be electing more at their place than He is at others"

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 8, 2012

And with all due respect, I don't find you dealing with how the scripture writers saw their audience--the saved. Again, I'm not saying I don't preach the gospel. As I mentioned, I give an opportunity for the unsaved to come to Christ in the services. Granted, the enemy does blind the eyes of the nonbeliever. But more to the point--the place for evangelism is on the streets, not so much on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are designed with the saved in mind, or supposed to be, in my opinion. To me, when we make evangelism the focus on Sunday mornings, everybody loses. For example, who is it that is even allowed to come into the presence of God? ONLY those who are rightly related to Him through faith in Christ (Jn 14:6). That being the case, when we have a worship service, knowing that we are "catering to" the non-believer and calling it worship, then we are, in my opinion actually inoculating them against the truth, and they become hardened to the gospel, unless the gospel is the sole content and substance of the message. If that is the case, then how are the disciples of Jesus fed? They are already in the kingdom; they need feeding and training so they can go into the world and evangelize.

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 8, 2012

There seems to be an assumption here that it's only the unsaved who need to hear the Gospel. Luther's not just rolling over in his grave; he's trying to get out!! Preach Christ in all Scripture so that all (saved and unsaved) can receive him in the Word preached and hear the Gospel proclaimed every Lord's Day! (After all, we forget every week, don't we?)

Thomas James

commented on May 8, 2012

Last time trying to make this point ... yes, I understand that "worship" is designed for the believers as there's no such thing as a "seeker worship service" as only the believers really get into God's presence and have a desire to worship. But what do we do with Paul's admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 when in the context of "preach the word" he specifically commands that he "do the work of an evangelist"? How would Timothy obey that command? Street preach? Again, the context seems to be clear that he's to preach the word in the midst of God's people knowing that there are those who will not want to hear the truth but want their ears tickled and thus in preaching to both the saved and the lost he is to "do the work of an evangelist"!

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 8, 2012

In 2 Tim 4: I think you'd better do a little better exegesis. When Paul told Timothy to preach the word, he told him how to do it: reprove, rebuke and exhort, with great patience and teaching. Again who is the audience? This passage is right on the heels of 3:16-17. The scripture are given by inspiration of God and is profitable for docrtrine, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION and instruction in righteousness, directed to whom? That the man of God may be complete (mature), equipped for every good work. Then Paul addresses those who will wander away from the faith and accumulate for themselves teachers to have their ears tickled. In other words, "Timothy, they will leave your congregation and find false teachers (because you are preaching the truth)". Again, he is addressing the fact that his teaching will be directed toward the saved. As for doing the work of evangelist, agree totally. Any pastor who does not do the work of an evangelist ought to find another line of work, and possibly even question whether or not he is even saved, living in perpetual disobedience to the Lord. But that still does not mean, according to this passage that Timothy's primary work on Sundays was to evangelize. In fact, Paul had to exhort Timothy to "Do the work of an evangelist", which would seem to indicate that his giftedness was not in that area. Paul told Timothy to teach the saved, while doing the work of an evangelist. We will have to agree to disagree with this, as I'm out to go prayer walking, in the neighborhood where the congregation that I'm privileged to pastor is. My prayer is that the Lord will draw people to Himself as we all do the work of evangelists. And as the Lord Himself prayed, "that we would all be one . . . so that the world would know that You sent Me". In other words, as the body lives in unity, we will display the greatest witness to the world which so desperately needs Him. After all, He can do the job so much better than we can.

Stephen Sheane

commented on May 9, 2012

So, you are saying that we should make church old fashioned, boring, irrelevant and we should not care at all about how many lives we touch. . I disagree.

Thomas James

commented on May 9, 2012

But Stephen ... in the "sovereignty of God" maybe church is supposed to be "old fashioned, boring, irrelevant and we should not care at all about how many lives we touch" ... thank you for a post well said!

Jared Moore

commented on May 9, 2012

Stephen, you said, "So, you are saying that we should make church old fashioned, boring, irrelevant and we should not care at all about how many lives we touch. I disagree." No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that Scripture should be our guide for Christ-centered worship and living, not a me-centered hermeneutic. If the Bible is boring to the people in the pew, it should still be boring to them when you sit down from preaching. In other words, Scripture lovers/God lovers should enjoy preaching that preaches the text, and exalts God through Christ. That should be the emphasis. Furthermore, the Bible is always relevant. No one "makes the Bible relevant." We simply exposit the relevance that's already there. Finally, we should care about how many lives we touch, but not in a "Western revivalistic quota" fashion. Our goal is God's glory, not the salvation of souls. When we pursue God's glory, the salvation of souls is a by-product. Read the Gospel of John and Christ's continual exaltation of His Father. In conclusion, my final thought toward your statement is, "So, I guess you're saying that we should make church better than Scripture, more exciting and relevant than these old dead letters, and we should pursue the salvation of souls above God's glory?"

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 9, 2012

Jared, Now that I've had time to process your incredible comment about our goal being God's glory not the salvation of souls, with salvation of souls being the by-product . . . you have verbalized what in my opinion is the sum total of Scripture. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, true. But an even "higher" truth is when He stood before Pilate and told him that the very purpose for Him coming into the world is that He might bear witness to the truth. Jesus didn't seem to care what happened to Him as long as He was able to bear witness to the truth. He didn't even seem to care if anybody followed Him (see John 6), as long as He bore witness to the truth. In bearing witness to the truth, He demonstrated what the Father is like: infinite compassion, infinite love, infinite righteousness, coming from the "essence" of His thrice-declared holiness (Isa 6). God loves us infinitely but not as the expense of His holiness. God will judge all people, but not at the expense of His love. We can't get that. As David said, "such knowledge is too wonderful for me." And when we make the saving of souls our priority at the expense of glorifying God, then we will inevitably compromise His holiness. But when we glorify God, we will demonstrate His nature more fully than we would otherwise. And when that happens, the Lord will do what He said He would do: HE will build His church. Over and over we read in Acts--the LORD added to His church. We don't add anyone to the church of Jesus, but by His mercy, He allows us to be His instruments as He adds to His church.

Stephen Sheane

commented on May 10, 2012

Scripture should be our guide for everything we do, but we have to proclaim the gospel it in the language of this generation. Communication is not one sided. You can faithfully preach the text, but doing so in English to a Spanish audience is of no value. You must first learn Spanish. If I have to juggle cats or learn to tap dance I'll do it if it will mean people will hear the gospel. 1Co 9:23-24 ...I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Samuel Shaw

commented on May 10, 2012

The kingdom of God is ....will be may up of many people from the four corners of the world into one complete kingdom,no jew no greek, no male,no female, no rich,no poor, just childrens of God, remember this brothers and sisters flour alone does not make a cake

Glenn Hawkins

commented on May 11, 2012

Stephen, Your communication, to include the mixed metaphors is the exact reason why the church of Jesus Christ has become so indistinguishable from the world, and consequently, the reason why we have become irrelevant in our society. The reason why the church has exploded in other cultures is BECAUSE it is different from the culture. No juggling cats, no tap dancing. For example, the church in South Korea has a continual prayer meeting, wth hundreds, if not thousands praying. There are "prayer shelters" in which many are occupied as they cry out to the Lord. The Yoido church in Seoul has over 750,000 attenders. When I attended there several years ago, I saw nothing by the way of what we would consider necessary to bring the "seekers" in. Their music was praise and worship. Though their message, in my opinion was a bit weak that day, I would still contribute its growth to, what, in reality is the mightiest thing we have--no marketing strategy, no bribes. It is prayer.

Roger Lewis

commented on May 11, 2012

We are making something very simple so complicated. Jesus taught in parables telling stories and using examples that related to them, what they did, and how they lived. Plain and simple. There is nothing wrong with applying Scripture to our lives in a relevant way that does not twist the foundational meaning. We are almost returning to the days when the only people who read the Bible were the priests. The Bible is not so complicated that only you theologians can figure it out and explain it.

Stephen Sheane

commented on May 15, 2012

I agree with you Roger. My point is that BOTH content AND communication are essential. Content without communication is as useless as communication without content. What you preach may be theologically sound and true to the text, but if it is not communicated in a way that people will understand then it is useless. My first day of seminary I remember my preaching prof said to us "It is a sin to bore people with the gospel." More than 25 years later those words still ring in my ears. They are what cause me to spend hours looking for just the right story to illustrate a point. They make me go the extra mile in arranging my words to make the message stick. They are what drive me to spend time in the community talking to people so I will know where they have been and find points of connection. It's not about entertainment, it's about incarnation.

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