The Pen

Turnstile Churchianity

I can’t remember when I last went to a baseball game.  I love sports and always enjoyed a day at the ballpark, except for the overpriced concessions.  As you would walk up to the ticket taker at the turnstile there was usually someone there with one of those handheld clickers that they used to count how many people came through the gates.  I always thought it was redundant but maybe it was their backup system.  But their desire behind was to get as accurate a count as possible for their attendance records.  The numbers are what mattered.

The seeker-driven church is no different.

They always talk about intentionality and purpose.  Well, with intentionality,  they removed the Law which convicts the unregenerate of their sin and the true gospel, the purpose of which is to save sinners.  They have replaced the Gospel with a man-made good news story full of life principles.  The pastors predetermine what the message will be about, say church cliques, and cherry pick verses to support their message, like Paul confronting Peter in Galatians when Peter separated from the Gentiles because of the Jews visiting from Jerusalem.

It’s a numbers game to them.  They really do mean “come as you are” and they don’t care much what state you’re in when you leave, as long as you keep coming back with your money.  They don’t care what happens the rest of the week.  They don’t care much about correcting false teaching.  If they talk about Jesus, any Jesus, let’s invite them to the church and get a crowd.  They actually disparage anyone in leadership from posting discernment articles.  It’s not how they do church.  But it’s perfectly alright for leaders to make excited posts about the upcoming episode of that wholesome family entertainment show Game of Thrones.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1

The issue is that they change this verse from a question to a declarative statement: What shall we say then? We should continue to sin so that the unchurched can feel more comfortable and that maybe they stumble upon Jesus in the process.

When you are with the leaders of these churches the arrogance and self-righteousness is palpable.  It is all founded in their size of their church.  They completely believe the size of the crowd, the total amount of people who have an emotional response to an emotional appeal, and baptisms are evidence that God is blessing them.  The money, especially, that flows into the church is the cherry that ices the blessing.  How do we know that the growth may be a deception allowed by God to deceive those who believe they are doing God’s work?

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”  -Matt 15:6b-9

They mock churches who continue to sing old hymns from old hymnals in old churches by calling them stuffy and stale.  What they don’t understand is these churches are redundant.  You’ve attended one and you won’t find much difference in another.  In their desire to called cutting edge they have become cookie cutter churches.  In their vision to be relevant to the culture, they have become irrelevant to the cause of Christ and His gospel.  No amount of gimmicks like Easter eggs dropped from a helicopter will add one jot or tittle to the effectiveness of God’s written Word and the power contained within those pages.  Man cannot improve on what God has established and ordained.

They are blinded by numbers, like the Boston Red Sox during the phony sellout streak a few years ago.  But they have become sellouts of a different kind.  They have sold out the One who died for them for the fool’s gold of church growth.  Maybe this paraphrase from Matthew 7 fits:

“Lord, Lord, didn’t we complete the Purpose Driven Church and Life agenda?  Didn’t we apply Andy Stanley’s unchurched principles in Deep and Wide?  Didn’t we perform smoky rock shows and share lots of relevant speeches that didn’t offend the unsaved  so they could come feel comfortable?  Didn’t we change Your gospel so it would be received better, because, let’s face it, it was just too offensive?

The number of clicks coming through the doors and turnstiles is all that matters.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. -James 4:4

[Contributed by Michael Hall]