An Unchanging, Modest Church

This quotation from Thom Rainer was found on the multi-site church track of the upcoming Exponential Conference. You know, multi-sites. That thing emphasized by Paul in his first epistle to the Gazarenes as a model for church growth. Anyway, this quotation from Rainer is at the multi-site track of the Exponential Conference, which hosts speakers from charismatic Calvinists like Matt Chandler and JD Greear to circle-praying Mark Batterson to Hillsong’s Brian Houston to Lifeway’s Ed Stetzer.

The conference, according to its website, is

… a growing community of leaders committed to accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities. We champion church multiplication and equip church multipliers as we seek to help move the needle on multiplication from less than 1% of churches actively reproducing to greater than 10%!
Jesus. Leaders. Multiplication.

Whatever “faith communities” are, they want them to reproduce and get bigger and multiply. And Christian leaders ranging from Calvinists to conmen to Word-Faith pastors to mystics will speak to thousands upon thousands of aspiring mega-church pastors. And they’ll all be taught one primary thing – change. Well, change and vision casting, obviously.

Divided into eight “channels,” from multiplication to multisite to multiethnic (they have a theme, I guess), the attender can find out how to change their church to accomplish more. For example, the multisite channel reads…

With over 5,000 multisite churches in America, multisite has emerged as the new normal for growing, healthy churches in the West. The Multisite Channel seeks to equip you in the rapidly-changing multisite world

The “multisite world” is rapidly changing. In other words, come back next year because it’s going to change again. Might as well start saving that $249.00 right now.

Change. Change. Change. Do this. And do this other thing. Cast a vision over here. Evolve over there. Change. Change. Change. Bigger. Flashier. Bigger. Newer. Shinier. Did I say bigger already?

According to Rainer, unchanging just doesn’t work anymore. According to Rainer, modest doesn’t work any more. Being solid, steady, immovable, unshakable and modest was of a bygone era. Things have changed. And now your church must be changing, or you’ll be left behind in the contrail of the Mars Hill bus the seeker-friendly rocket ship to success.

I suppose we get what Rainer wants to replace unchanging. Obviously, he wants change. But what does he want instead of modesty? I mean, what’s the alternative? Synonyms for modest include simple, humble, chaste, lowly, meek, proper, sheepish, temperate, unpretentious. Those seem like good things. Antonyms include arrogant, conceited, egotistical, ostentatious, proud and of course, immodest.

Which list of words do you think best illustrates the Bride of Christ? If the Bride of our Savior is not modest, well…that may be a “faith community” you’re building, but it most certainly isn’t the Church.

We shouldn’t be surprised that those who think creativity is a spiritual gift also think that change within the church is a virtue. The church of the Apostles and their various activities could be summarized by Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to apostle’s teachings and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Dang. Where’s the fog machine? Did they beam Peter in on a big screen, or how did that work exactly?

A stupid oversimplification, I know, but it seems that the early church (the one led by Apostles who were hand picked by Jesus so you’d kind of guess they knew a thing or two) was made complete and perfect with water, Word, bread and wine.

What should we change that up with? How can we dress up the water, Word, bread and wine with a little more lipstick and Rouge? You know, slip the skirt up on that stuff just a tad? Make the slit a little higher on the dress? How can we make water, Word, bread and wine a bit more immodest so we can multiply our multiethnic multiplex worship centers through our casted multiphasic visions in our multicampuses while multitasking our multimedia missional empires?

Who wants the church to resemble a fortress, buttress, a rock, carrying on an over-simplistic, ever-modest two thousand year tradition with humility and steadfastness?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than church growth and big success.
I dare not trust in Jesus’ Name,
But on vision-casting personal fame.

Refrain

On Church Growth I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

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[Contributed by JD Hall]

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