Preaching To The Choir?
Welcome! My name is Michael Coughlin. I am a Christian street preacher. I go to locations where groups of people will be gathered and proclaim the glorious gospel of grace to all those within earshot. Because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ, I have confidence that preaching God’s Word, in season or out of season, will have the effect God desires it to have and that no one will believe the gospel apart from hearing it somehow. This article is not a defense of evangelism, nor of street preaching. The effectiveness and faithfulness of those two activities is already on record.
No, dear reader, the question this article proposes to answer is, “Why would I go to a Christian worship event to preach?”
Do I just want to start trouble?
Is this literally a form of preaching to the choir?
Do I believe only that only I and 14 other Calvinists on the internet are the “true church?”
Please join me along with my friend Brandon Hines as we lay out a case for why Christian street preaching and evangelism is not only acceptable outside a Christian worship event but why in fact, it is necessary outside many events designated as Christian worship events.
Before we talk about this specific event, let me describe a technique you may not be familiar with. The Arian Snare is a recruitment method of certain false religious groups that is used to attract people by way of pleasant sounding music. This has been used by groups like the ancient Montanists and the ancient Arians, as well as more modern groups like Hillsong and Oneness Pentecostalism.
There is a group in California named Bethel Church Redding, which often uses the Arian Snare. They have worship music which has become very popular. So popular that they are holding worship concerts nights around the world!
The tickets appear to be reasonably priced for what we understand is a decently high quality of music. And you’d think the only people interested in a Christian concert or “night of worship” would be Christians or “seekers,” right? So the question remains – why bother preaching to those who already know Christ, or are already seeking Christ, and who you think would be sure to hear of His person and work during the worship night?
Let me offer a few reasons why it actually makes perfect sense to preach at a Bethel Worship Night.
- If things are indeed as supposed, and many or mostly Christians will attend, then they ought to relish hearing the Word of God preached! What better way to finish a night of music and worship can you imagine than to hear God’s Word while walking to your car?
- We live in an age and time of rampant false conversion. People all over the United States have been presented with a version of a Jesus they gladly worship – a Jesus who is neither holy nor willing to judge the living and the dead. When we evangelize people leaving a worship event, we are hopeful that people who have been deceived by false teachers will hear the Word of God preached faithfully, and the Holy Spirit will do a good work in their hearts! And we trust that, although people were worshipping, many will not be worshipping the God of the Bible, who alone is deserving of all worship. This would apply even when the worship is sound.
That is to say – even if you believed this worship event would have good music, lyrics that are doctrinally sound, and lots of believers present – it is still beneficial to give out the Word of God in season and out of season so that God’s Spirit will do whatsoever He pleases as the result! However, for those who do recognize the error of Bethel
- If the Arian Snare has succeeded, and people who aren’t associated with Bethel are brought in, then being reminded of the Gospel will surely help those who heard false teaching at the event! And it may challenge who are caught up in Bethel’s teaching to discern between the good teaching and false teaching, as well as reach those unbelievers who are drawn in by their music.
- Finally, the practices of Bethel Redding are such that they have put themselves outside of anything resembling orthodox Christianity. For example, they deny the sufficiency of Scripture by avidly chasing prophecies and “fresh” revelation (As if what the Bible says isn’t enough, and somehow isn’t “relevant”). Their leaders promote a false view of what it means that Jesus emptied himself (Kenosis). They actually claim that Jesus ceased to be divine during His incarnation! They also promote a false anthropology (belief about mankind) that is akin to those within the Word of Faith movement (That human words have the God-like power to create and destroy). Their lyrics often contain what resembles romantic love for God. To present God-fearing, Spirit-filled preaching of the Word of God in contrast to the mysticism, sensuality, and blatant charismaticism of this group is the only remedy to help people out of the ensnarement of bad doctrine being promoted by them!
In reality, based on the clear teaching of centuries of orthodox Christianity and what has commonly been denounced as heresy, we see fans of Bethel Music as a mission field. We see people who are lost and blind being led astray to various passions and lusts – away from sound doctrine and the real love displayed by God the Father in sending His Son to be the propitiation for sins.
Ultimately, we are motivated by love for Christ, love for the lost and a biblical understanding of the nature of man! Because we love God, we preach; because we love lost people, we preach where we think they may be found; and because we understand that many will follow after false teachers who would deceive even the elect if it were possible, we preach to even those who are professing to believe already.
If you have read this article and disagree with our conclusions, we urge you to consider the warning of Jude who wrote to us that we ought to be careful of those “who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality.”
“But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.” (2 Peter 2:12-15, ESV)
Please use these links to do some research yourself into the rampant false teaching found at Bethel Redding. It if is objectively true that they are leading people away from sound doctrine, then it doesn’t matter how good the music makes one feel, nor how uncomfortable one feels confronting those who love them.
[Contributed by Brandon C. Hines and Michael Coughlin]