Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Frills Gospel

Whatever happened to “no frills” marketing? Remember when you could go to the store finding the store brand without the attractive packaging and know that you were saving on each thing such as this that you purchased? Today the plain white wrappers have seemed to have disappeared having been replaced with store brands that are less in price than the nationally advertised brands, but with one difference. They have packaging that is similar in appearance to the national brands. In fact, if you will look closely you will usually find a statement on the front that says “compare to” then naming a well-advertised competitor. Somehow it is not enough to be “no frills” any more. Apparently you have to look like and to be like the high price stuff if you are going to sell.

This is the approach that has sadly made it into the many Bible believing churches in our modern age. In order to attract greater numbers we have sought to change appearance so that we appear more culturally relevant to our modern society. Under the mantra that we can be culturally relevant without changing our message, the change is made with the result that the message does change and nobody seems to notice. Somehow Jesus’ warnings that you cannot be friends with the world and friends with God at the same time go unnoticed. The fact is, the Gospel does run counter to our modern, mostly hedonistic, society which centers on the worship of self. The Gospel is all about reconciliation with a loving God through dying to ourselves and living life anew in Christ (Galatians 2:20). You cannot combine the two. Churches that are trying to be culturally relevant run the risk of being Gospel deficient.

There is no question that the people with whom we have daily contact, have a desperate need for the Gospel, but do not perceive this need. To be truly relevant in the sense that it is able to meet the need the Gospel must remain pure. So why have so many churches that profess to preach the Gospel gone in new directions? The answer is in the fact that strong Bible study and doctrinal teaching has taken a back seat in a church that is more media driven than centered on the Word of God. This being so, no one has noticed the subtle changes caused by the new methodologies and no one notices that the message of the church has been watered down. Doctrinal studies that once led to consistent Christian living have been replaced by topical preaching on how to cope in life.

The church needs to be a training ground for believers, equipping us to be salt in this world, no matter how unpopular it may be. It is believers living lives that are consistent that will make the most impact on those around them. Programs don’t reach people, people do. It's the Word of God that attracts those that are willing to be changed. Without this Word we may get numbers, but where will there be the real lasting change in lives? 

We need “no frills” churches, i.e., churches that are not afraid to be different from the world and are ready to stand firm on the Gospel and teaching the Word of God. We have a message that is unique: Jesus saves. That must never be compromised with whatever method we are using to convey it. While we may indeed use technology, music, arts and so forth to convey this Gospel, we must be careful that we are not majoring in mimicking  the world when we are ought to be showing the Christ the world desperately needs.

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