Monday, May 22, 2017

New Fish, New Bait?

Brown Black Fishlure on Rod Selective Focus Photography

I wanted to post a quick response to a blog I read today (here) on Catching a New Kind of Fish.

I'm hesitant on posting because #1, we live in a society where any sort of push back is seen as judgmental. That's not my goal. I don't want to be contentious. I want to help. This isn't a bashing post. It is a desire to help us think through this from all sides. And 2ndly, I'm running short on time this afternoon, so I know this won't be as long as would do it justice.

So, read the first post, and then see the reply below:

Let me start by saying I am thankful for Arkansas Baptist church planters! I am thankful for their zeal for the lost and their desire to see the kingdom of God grow. If you are a church planter, I want to tell you thank you! To the brother who wrote the original post, thank you for your heart of wanting to see sinners come to Christ. Thank you for the time and effort you put into seeing people experience the life-changing encounter with the gospel. This post is not an attack on you. However, there are some things I'd like for all of us to think through from a different perspective.

Let me specifically respond to this paragraph:

So what do we do to get people through the door? Well, to catch a new kind of fish, we need a new kind of bait!I would say New Faith has moved away from a lot of traditions. We don’t have a pulpit where the preachers sit up front on the stage. We don’t ask people to turn around and look at the congregation after they’ve made a decision.On the fourth Sunday of the month, we wear jeans and t-shirts on Sunday morning! 
What if the new bait is simply the old bait packaged differently?

You see, we've been on a kick the last couple of decades of doing away with 'traditional' and all we've really done is create the same problem on the other side of the pendulum so to speak. Moving away from traditional doesn't actually move away from traditions - it only creates new traditions that someone else will try to 'move away from' in 50 years (or less).

In other words, when we make 'church' about 'traditional' or 'anti-traditional' we have the same problem. The paradigm of ministry is not as much the issue in our day as is the substance. Not to be too cliché here but the answer really is the gospel. The pure, unadulterated, life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ is our only hope. We must put all the effort we can into preaching this gospel to the masses, into helping churches keep their focus on Christ as their greatest joy and treasure, and into showing others what the power of the gospel really can do in the local church. 

What I mean is, do we want churches where people say "I go here because they don't have a pulpit"? Or "I go here because they sing heavenly highway hymns"? Or "I go here because they have deer heads on the wall", or "we can wear cowboy boots"? Is not the bait for winning souls to Christ the free and full forgiveness offered in the completed work of Christ? Nay, it's not the bait! It's the true food! 

So, it is my plea to have us eschew any attractional methods we are tempted to employ and simply proclaim Christ and Him crucified. May He be the center! May He be the draw! 

Brother pastors, and brother church planters, please do not have something other than Christ and your commitment to Him and His Word as the 'draw' for uniting with your local body. I maintain that if we truly want to catch new fish, we have to listen to the chief Fisherman. Let us be less concerned about creating the right 'atmosphere of worship' and more concerned about being faithful to what the Head of the Church would have us do. 

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