Sometime the churches having the greatest ministry impact are the churches that are relatively young. Now I am not talking about the age of the people, but the age of the church. New churches are able to be on the cutting edge of current trends in the church because they do not have any sacred cows or holy traditions to break through. Church planters are able to start their church however they see best for their particular community and culture.
Sometimes as a minister with an established church I am a little jealous of that ability. In an established church often times you have long held traditions that may hold you back from doing something new. While these traditions are not scriptural or unscriptural, many times they hold you back from being able to reach a new or different generation/culture for Christ. To move forward you have to spend time working through and over coming them.
Many new churches tend to be a little on the edgy side opposed to their counter parts; the established church. Sometimes they will bring in many cultural aspects to their services. Most of the time I am all for this. For some reason many churches believe that walking into a church should be like walking into a time warp and going back to the 1950’s. Now they may not say it, but the look of their building, the style of their worship, and clothes they wear certainly express it. Maybe you can see why at times I may be jealous.
I think being edgy is good. I think being radicle is good. I think using technology to the best of your abilities is good. I think looking like society and the culture your are planted in is good, as long as it is not the sinful parts of society and culture. Having said all of that, I do believe there are some places you should stop.
There is a new church that I admire greatly. I think God is doing some amazing things through their church, especially in a tough and sinful community. I also understand what is driving them to do what they are doing. But I still have an issue with what they are doing. I have waited about three weeks to comment on this … I wanted to hear the sermon that kicked off the series before I did. I have, and now I am commenting.
The church is planted in a very tough and sinful community. People go to their community to run away. Since moving to the city, the lead pastor has heard the phrase … “(Insert name/noun here) just does not give a damn!” Because of hearing that phrase so much, the church decided to do a sermon series titled “God Gives a Damn!” Not only have they used the phrase for their series, but they have also purchased billboards throughout town and are selling/giving out t-shirts.
Here is my dilemma. How far are we willing to go to spark peoples interest. Using the vernacular of the people is good, but at the same time, as Christians we are supposed to be “set apart” from the world. Could the same message be communicated without using the word “damn.” I would imagine so. I know this phrase will really catch peoples eyes, but does this cross over from not being set apart. Or am I just one of a few that thinks that word is still a four letter word that Christians should not use.
I try to hold judgment when I see things that new churches are doing. For me it may be out of the box. But then again, they are reaching people for Christ that most of the time I am not. That is to be admired. I still do not know where I stand on this particular sermon series title. I know I still feel uneasy when I hear it. What do you think? Is this something you would do in your church or encourage in your church? I know myself and my church is not ready for this … yet ... if ever.
P.S. by the way, the minister sounded a little funny the three or four times he said it during his message. Maybe he even thinks it a little uncomfortable himself?