Questioning Motives 14

I like what Furtick has to say on his blog today. I have often questioned the motives of mega-church pastors, and it’s good to know that Steven is beginning to question his motives as well. Here’s a little snippet:

And my friend felt like the Lord responded to him with a challenging thought:

“What if I do everything you’re asking me to do in your city, but I do it through someone else’s ministry?  Would you still pray as passionately?  Would you be okay with that?”

That’s a good thought for any of us involved in ministry. Steven admits that he is not to that point yet, and that he’s not even sure he’s ready to work on it, which is a good start:

I’m not sure I’m entirely ready to wrestle with my own motivations at that level.  This is pretty advanced stuff.  But ultimately, I’d like to get to a place where my heart rejoices with the same intensity because another church in town baptized 100 people as it does when Elevation baptizes 100 people.

I’m not there yet.

Maybe it’s time for some of these guys to really examine where their audience is coming from, and why they are showing up. I know the programmed response is that it doesn’t matter as long as they are hearing the Gospel, but if Furtick is concerned about the Universal Body of Christ, like this post implies, then it does matter.

Maybe instead of throwing up another video campus, or promoting your online service so much, you could partner (rather than compete) with an established church in that area. Maybe there will come a time when Elevation will be struggling like some of the older churches are now. Will a newer, shinier church swoop in to pick from their remains, or will the new church lend a hand to an older brother in need?

Here’s hoping that Furtick continues digging into this thought…and acts accordingly.


14 thoughts on “Questioning Motives

  1. Anthony Oct 21, 2009 1:37 pm

    And why Downing do you think that the older churches are struggling? CHANGE THE METHODS, NOT THE MESSAGE!!!!

  2. Corner Coffee Oct 21, 2009 3:48 pm

    Though there are some exceptions to that assumption, you are (in large part) correct. Churches, like any living organism, die because they are unhealthy.

    Like I said, there are exceptions, but I’ve only seen a small few.

  3. James Downing Oct 21, 2009 3:48 pm

    I think there are a lot of reasons, Anthony, but being pillaged by the newest latest fad certainly doesn’t help.

  4. James Downing Oct 21, 2009 3:51 pm

    And, by the way, nothing in my post implies that there is nothing wrong with the older churches that are dying, only that the healthier churches should be lending a hand.

  5. Molly Oct 22, 2009 10:14 am

    Just a couple of questions……

    You don’t think there is anything wrong with churches that are dying. Really ??

    If your church (older and dying) was in the same city as Elevation, would you accept their help?

  6. James Downing Oct 22, 2009 11:01 am

    1. Maybe my wording is confusing. It is quite possible that the older churches in question have some disfunction.
    2. The kind of cooperation you are talking about would require a totally different outlook from Elevation, which would really make it a different church, so that hypothetical question is really hard to answer.

  7. keitho Oct 22, 2009 1:11 pm

    This type of cooperation, to succeed, requires humility from both the church doing well and the one not doing well. Local churches die off for a variety of reasons, but growing churches can grow for both biblical and non biblical reasons. Growth does not necessarily imply God’s seal of approval.

    If cooperation means the “successful” church comes in and says “it’s our way or the highway”, then what purpose does that serve but to create ill will and hurt lives? I have seen it before, and it’s not pretty.

  8. Mike Oct 22, 2009 3:21 pm

    I would hesitate to accept the validity of the statement “that older churchs are struggling”. not enough clarification of terms.

    what litmus are we using? head count? cash turned? hot meals offered? wretched sinners regenerated by trust in a crusified Christ? twitter responses?

    using the 13th chapter of Matthew as a place to start, much of the old church looks fine to me. much of the “new” church looks pretty sickly. when Christ stated that the world would hate us as they hated Him, was He just confused? was it because he lacked the technology to get to the masses? or was it because He wouldn’t settle for being added to the load people already carry.

    lots to consider and discuss if/when His will and glory matter most.

  9. James Downing Oct 22, 2009 3:35 pm

    Not all older churches are struggling. Some are thriving. In this sense I would mean, not growing numerically, having a hard time paying bills, having trouble reaching a younger generation…etc. Obviously, I agree that the new style churches can be pretty warped. That’s what 90% of this blog is about.
    It is my experience that a large portion of attenders from the new churches came out of the older churches. The new chuches offered something newer, shinier, and more entertaining, so the masses flocked. Now while a head count is not the only test for church health, it is much harder to take take care of your paster, pay the bills, etc, when you go from having 400 mebers to 20 members.

  10. Seth Oct 22, 2009 3:44 pm

    There are lots of reason why churches die, there are lots of reasons why churches grow. Craig Groeschel and do a great job of helping other churches in their city. They partner with other churches, old and new, traditional and contemporary, pretty much any church that preaches the Bible, and they do a really good job of it. The way I look at it, dying church or not, rich history or not, if the church is preaching the Word, then as long as it stays open, God is not through using it.

    When it comes to churches helping each other, there is a pride barrier that has to be broken. Many of the older churches don’t want help, I have seen it first hand, and at times, newer churches don’t realize the ways in which they can help the older churches. Its really an awareness/heart issue. Not denominational. I have known many different denominations to come together in communities for the greater good.

  11. James Downing Oct 22, 2009 3:47 pm

    Also should be said, Seth, that the older churches may have alot to offer the younger churches, too, but quite often the newer churches have the “never question the vision” mindset. They can’t see the value that could be gained from partnering with a 200 year old church.

  12. Mike Oct 22, 2009 3:56 pm

    I have spent significant time trailing through the blog, and apreciate the efforts that are made on behalf of discernment and truth here.
    my point is simply, so very much of this branch of modern evangelicalism conforms to man’s wisdom and marketing effort. We have been instructed clearly how and what obedience to God contains, and still are controlled by the siren song of significance, numerical success, and prestige. It makes perfect sense, it is our nature.
    I mean if we simply use the seven letters to seven churches in Revelation, we can’t help but recoil from the very things that we seem to be building.

  13. James Downing Oct 22, 2009 3:59 pm

    Absolutely Mike, and thanks for your input.

  14. Paul Oct 22, 2009 7:59 pm

    I’ve been in many churches either preaching or meeting with search committees…here are some observations i’ve seen of those who are dying in no particular order…

    1. They are not gospel-centered.
    2. NO community. ONce the preacher says amen, they are out the door and don’t speak to each other again until next sunday. No deep/vulnerable conversations.
    3. NO biblical church government or leadership. Typically it’s a deacon board and a senior pastor (unbiblical). The pastor is more of a CEO/manager than shepherd (unbiblical).
    4. (This is a huge one) Unregenerate church membership.
    5. Very little solid doctrine. I have been in church who did not even know what a confessional statement was let alone actually hold to one.
    6. No solid preaching or exegeting of the text.
    7. Arguing over minor theological details. For example, pre-trib vrs. Post-trib. Should we wear jeans to church? etc.
    8. They allow sin to remain in the church. No discipline or accountability. A “don’t rock the boat mentality.”
    9. No love or passion for Jesus.
    10. The congregation and deacons run off faithful pastors after a while.

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