(This post is a followup to this one about the purpose of church.)
To set the scene, Cooper is welcoming his congregation to a newly built (bamf) facility on the NewSpring campus. He has a very important point he wants his people to understand, so we get this illuminating piece of dialog.
Cooper: I want you right now to tell the person beside you, “This building was not built for you.” So you say, “What do you mean by that, Brad? Who was this building built for?”
Seminary student who hadn’t read the script: Jesus!
Cooper (in yes-but-really-no mode): Yeah, absolutely. But why would Jesus give us a tool like this?
He explains that because anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, that it’s really for the unsaved friends of the people there, who need to be invited so that they’ll be able to call on the name of the Lord in Cooper’s church. Cooper then lays down the law:
Do you want me to tell you what is failure? Let me tell you what is failure if you believe what we just read. Failure is you showing up by yourself next week.
Look at me in the face! You don’t believe the Word of God if you show up by yourself next week!
Although Cooper grudgingly agrees with Ms. Seminary that it should be for Jesus, his real LOOK AT ME IN THE FACE point is that it is built for unbelievers who have not yet visited the church. Who’s more important here? God, believers or unbelievers. Certainly it’s unbelievers. Existing believers are told that they essentially are faithless if they also don’t agree with Cooper’s hyperventilating pleas to turn the church inside out to get the unsaved there.
Cooper is not alone. The $700 man, Steven Furtick, flat out told the believers in his church that his church wasn’t for them.
We preach so that people can come to faith in Christ, and we want them to get in a small group and serve so that other people can come to Christ.
If you know Jesus–I am sorry to break it to you–this church is not for you.
“Yeah, but I just gave my life to Christ last week at Elevation.”
Last week was the last week that Elevation Church existed for you. You’re in the army now. We do one thing; we preach Jesus so that people far from God can know Jesus, and then we train them up so that others can know Jesus.
It’s called kingdom multiplication. It’s what Elevation Church is all about, and over 500 people have given their lives to Jesus for the first time in this church in the last five months. That’s over 100 per month.
If that doesn’t get you excited, and you need the “doctrines of grace” as defined by John Calvin to excite you, you’re in the wrong church. Let me get a phone book; there are 720 churches in Charlotte. I’m sure we can find you one where you can stuff your face until you’re so obese spiritually that you can’t even move.
Watch the video to witness the profound anger here.
Perry Noble shares Furtick’s distaste for churches who cater to God and believers. In fact, Noble’s vision of the church is so backwards and distorted that he sees expressions of worship as insulting profanity.
We have a purpose…and it’s not to be a country club with a steeple on top that gives our community the middle finger and tells them to go to hell because reaching them would make us uncomfortable!
The architectural purpose of the church steeple was to exalt God by pointing skyward, and to invite people to worship by being an unmistakable local landmark. As one Kentucky steeple maker said,
A steeple points one to the heavens, symbol of the dwelling place of Christ. Through city streets, across the valleys and lakes, through the countryside far and wide, the steeple declares Christ.
Where most of us see Christ, is it a complete surprise that Noble sees a middle finger? Actually, it seems that he sees a lot of Christianity this way.
Every week people show up at their stained glass fortressed and give their community the middle finger and tell them to go to hell.
I never see it prescribed in Scripture than when a church reaches a “comfortable” size–usually around 120 people–that the community should be given the middle finger and told to go to hell because additional people might mess up the holy huddle!
Noble equates the discipleship and equipping of believers as middle fingeresque.
Like it or not–Jesus didn’t go to a bookstore, get a theology book by a dead white guy, get a group of guys together that were just like Him and give the world the middle finger because He was obsessed with “going deep!”
If I meet one more group of guys who think they are becoming more like Jesus because they are theological superior to people (which, by the way, is PRIDE!) but do not know a lost person by name or refuse to exercise their spiritual gift…and yet claim to be godly…I am going to punch them in the throat!
I suppose Noble’s fist trumps devout middle fingers.
In one of his middle-finger diatribes, Noble lays out his own description of his church, which you can find here. It is all about reaching unbelievers, but you’ll have to look hard to find mention of the worship of God (church purpose #1) or the assembly of believers (church purpose #2).
Noble, Furtick, Cooper, Lamb, Warren and many, many others are trying to redefine church by making it primarily about nonbelievers. If you ask them, they’ll give a perfunctory answer that church is really for God, as Cooper’s seminary guest forced him to do, but their actions and emphasis tell us that it’s mainly about nonbelievers. Cooper and Furtick specifically told their audience that they were more interested in people outside the family of God.
Getting people in the doors is much more important than offering them anything once they walk in. Make them feel bad, conscript them into the army, and get more people in the doors.
Several terms have been used to describe these new churches: emergent, emerging, etc. It’s all very confusing, so I offer a new term: The Turnstile Church.
Definition: Churches that attract people for the purpose of attracting more people for the purpose attracting more people for the purpose…
Feed my sheep? Not so much.