Getting beyond the buzzwords
“The real brave men and women are those who consistently go to church, observe the sacraments, hear the word, and submit themselves to the discipline of the church. In an age of autonomy, it’s those who subject their thoughts, behaviors, and passions to an exclusive Sovereign that are the brave few. Those may not be the memoirs we’re interested in today, but they’ll be the ones that last tomorrow.” – Dustin Messer
Dustin Messer has a great post about the departure of Mars Hill’s (post Rob Bell teaching pastor) Kent Dobson. You can read it here.
A brief summary of Dobson’s story follows: he came to Mars Hill believing that a “traditional gospel” needed to be communicated in “cool” ways. He now has ceased to believe in that “traditional gospel” and no longer wants to be a pastor.
Don’t get me wrong, vocations change and when someone ceases to believe the message he’s called to proclaim he should step out of the pulpit rather than live a lie.
The church today has lost site of its identity amidst a barrage of buzzwords and trends all of which suggest that something about human nature or the human condition has changed since the church was born.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The human condition is the same as is has always been east of Eden–broken and alienated from God by virtue of our sin and rebellion against God.
If the word “sin” doesn’t communicate today, define it don’t change it. That’s what the church has been commissioned to do: teach the faith of the apostles, not redefine it.
Whether your gambit is redefining marriage, re-thinking the atonement, revising the Nicene consensus, or any number of other ill-conceived attempts to lure those outside to come in–ultimately it won’t work.
Because by attempting to give people what they want, you’re effectively withholding what they need.
At the end of the day, it is not entrepreneurial churches that change lives and it’s not inclusive churches either.
Ultimately, God works in the life of people in very slow and intentional ways using the pattern he has always used: the Spirit working through people and in the means of grace–word, sacraments, and prayer.
As Ligon Duncan notes, “The Gospel is the message and the local church is the plan. God has given to his church spiritual weapons for the bringing down of strongholds. These ordinary means of grace are the Word, sacraments, and prayer.”
Have as many planning meetings as you wish, abandon whatever inconvenient beliefs appear to hold you back, but absent this foundation it likely will all come to nothing.