The New Christians

The New Christians


The Death of Preaching?

posted by Tony Jones

Mark Driscoll watchdog, Bob Hyatt, has some concerns about a possible Mars Hill franchise coming to Portland.

Please understand- If you want to listen to Mark’s podcast/watch his vodcast, I think you should go for it- I
subscribe to his podcast for crying out loud. But where we’re going
with this is eventually a Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr,
Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, et al Video Franchise in every major city,
the further Wal-Martization of the church and, I kid you not- the death
of preaching.
 
Think that’s hyperbole? 

Stay tuned.


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Brian

posted February 19, 2009 at 8:39 am


Thanks for this post. This is depressig news. I don’t mean any disrespect to these folks personally. I know they can be very kind, good people in person. So I will offer my critique in the form of their teachings. I think the teachings of people like Mark Driscoll and Hank Hanegraaff are dangerious. They argue that there is one Truth in world and they know it. According to them, their own interpretations, ideas, and politics are the only right, Biblibical, and godly ones. This makes ONE perspective into THE perspective – and that in turn makes ONE perspective into THE Truth. And they often use the language of battle to talk about protecting “the Truth.”
Let me speak at a member of the Mainline Church. We thought we were going to take over the world for Christ. We thought we were going to spread democracy, fight poverty, convert non-believers, etc. throughout the earth. Our magazine, “The Christian Century,” even reflects this overly optimistic idea that our century was going to be THE Christian century. We were the rock stars. But then World War II shook us from our Enlightenment dream. Plus, we finally began to see that it was our personal ideals and agendas we were spreading throughout the world as much as it was Christianity. In fact, we caused much pain in our march to mission. We colonized African villages. We burned people we labeled as witches in America. We contibuted to the anti-Semitism that lead to the rationalization of the Holocaust in Germany. The list could go on and on.
My message is that we’ve been there. We’ve done that. And it caused a lot of damage around the world. So, I urge our Christian brothers and sisters not to make that same mistake now. We live in a pluralistic world. The religious, cultural, and contextual landscape is all pluralistic. And no matter how good our ideas seem to us, they may not be good to impose on the whole world. The best we can do is speak humbly from our own perspective – and acknowlege our words as one possible perspective among many different perspectives.
It’s harder to do ministry as a humble group in a pluralistic world. This must be faced honestly. Look at our congregations. They’re shrinking every year. It’s easier to be impassioned by a milateristic message filled with certainty. But just because something is easy doesn’t make it right. Somehow we need to find ways to do ministry that acknowledges and honors diversity yet inspires passion and discipleship. The Mainline Church and Emergent Church are both making their way on this journey. Neither of these movements have it perfect, but they are trying. So I urge other Christians to join us in our exploration of and engagement in more postmodern ways of being followers of Jesus Christ.



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Brian

posted February 19, 2009 at 8:42 am


There are many different ways to preach. I suppose a video conference is one of those many ways. But it begs the question you asked in a previous post. How real is virtual community?



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Guido Climer

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:04 am


A few years ago at a Leadership Network workshop. Folks were talking about Video venues and they are coming along. The notion is that community is more important than proclamation. In the end, my son went to the Wiggles and I shelled out big bucks to get us close…he watched the monitor not the stage. Likewise, folks went to the inauguaration and they watched monitors not the stage. One last thought, church planters are being told don’t preach your stuff, use somebody else’s stuff for the first year so you can focus on building the church.



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jhimm

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:07 am


to follow-up on both of Brian’s comments, this makes me wonder if this organization is so caught up in the perfection of their doctrine that they cannot even stand to entrust it to additional individuals to preach in these new churches in person, and so must resort to replacing church with a living room that seats 1,000 people who watch a televangelist together. and let’s be straight up — that’s all this is. 21st century televangelism, and we saw how well that sort of thing went in the 20th century, right? i don’t know enough about preaching to say whether or not this is a threat to preaching, itself, but it sure looks like a threat to any meaningful definition of church.



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Bill Samuel

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:20 am


I suspect that someone like Jesus wouldn’t be seen as a “real man” by Mark Driscoll. He seems to have taken some of the worst aspects of our culture and tried to graft Christianity onto them. Jesus regarded women as important in their own right not as subsidiaries of men, lauded people who were clearly regarded as heretical by the religious mainstream, cried publicly, and never sought to dominate anyone.
The Pacific Northwest is an area that needs a lot of missional effort. I hope there is as much of that being done by people with a more positive, constructive, counter-cultural understanding as is being done by those like the Acts 29 folks. In addition to reaching the unchurched, there must be a lot of folks who get disillusioned with the Acts 29 approach who need to find a more wholesome expression of the Gospel rather than just falling away.



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Mike Croghan

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:28 am


Awww, there are plenty better reasons for preaching to die than this. ;-) OK, not really “die”, but lose its primacy as a center piece of worship services throughout most of the Church. Not that scriptural teaching should die – God forbid – but the “sermon” model – in which one credentialed, professional expert stands at the front and talks away at a passive audience – is soooo Modern Era. If this somehow hastens the death of the ubiquity of that model of worship gatherings, then I say: go Marky, go Marky. If it just increases the opportunities for passive, TV-like “worship” and people go for that in increasing numbers – well – if that turns you on, then whateverz.



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EricW

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:42 am


Mike C.:
I agree. The Protestants removed the altar and the priest and substituted in their place the pulpit with the opened Scriptures on it, to be similarly “administered” by the professional pastor/preacher. A typical modern-day Protestant service is a “performance” by a worship “band” followed by a “lecture” by a “professor” and/or a stage presentation by an “entertainer” using PowerPoint and Flash overheads.
WHERE IS THE BODY IN THIS? Even so-called “charismatic” churches that allow the operation of the gifts by the members during the service are nearly as structured and programmed as the “Bible” churches.
When was the last time you attended a communion and meal-centered service where the members in a spontaneous and real way shared Christ and prophecies and spiritual songs and hymns, and prayed for each other, and interacted like a family as a natural outgrowth of their life together – and not like an audience or like persons attending a seminar or a concert?



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Makeesha

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:45 am


the death of preaching? hmm…doesn’t sound too bad. Now, the death of genuine COMMUNITY because a group is gathered around a figure head in an ivory tower somewhere? THAT would be something worth blogging about.



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Makeesha

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:48 am


Eric – I thought I’d give you some hope – we do that in our community every week :)



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Mike Croghan

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:59 am


Hi Eric,
Our community is much like you describe too, except that we’re a little more planned/restrained and a little less spontaneous/charismatic – it’s really just the backgrounds of our members, I think. (I’m an Anglican. I wouldn’t know how to spontaneously prophesy if the Spirit grabbed me by the throat and picked me up out of my chair.) So we tend to be kinda planned – but our services always involve the whole body actively, and we have different “leaders” guiding us every week – anybody and everybody can, and does, participate in and lead worship.
We do have some folks from a charismatic background – I’ve been hoping/looking for ways in which they can share those gifts with and teach those of us with liturgical broomsticks up our posteriors. :-)
Peace,
Mike



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Eric Wakeling

posted February 19, 2009 at 10:06 am


I think this conversation has gone a bit off-track. The issue at hand is church franchising with video venues across the country of 6-10 nationally known communicators. I think this is definitely an issue that should be treated with concern. I don’t think all video venues are of the devil or that preaching is irrelevant, but people should be able to have a chance to see and know the life of the person(s) teaching. I think it would be sad to just have people sitting in movie theaters on Sunday mornings eating popcorn and then moving on with their lives.



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Marty

posted February 19, 2009 at 10:09 am


Since the multi-site movement has emerged I’ve been concerned about the loss of community, even more than the death of preaching. I have been to some really poorly done worship services that still had a strong sense of community. I am concerned when worship is reduced to a band, a host and a video of a message from 200 miles away. I learned from an amazing preacher in seminary that the Word proclaimed needed to be indigenous to those to whom it is given. It should bubble up from the fountains of the trials, triumphs and tribulations of the people in front of you, not be handed down from above or, in this case, over from another community. Once again we are franchising faith and practicing sanctified consumerism.



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Virgil Vaduva

posted February 19, 2009 at 10:32 am


Assuming Driscoll will be the icon on the screen every Sunday morning, how exactly would this benefit people’s lives? Folks can already download podcasts of his sermons from the MH website, so I am not sure I am getting the point of this. Plus I never got the whole “great commission” thing being pushed by Calvinists to begin with.
Generally speaking I find Driscoll’s sermons offensive, so they will likely appeal to people who are already predisposed to his style of speaking and to his theology, so this is not really a quest to conquer hell with grace (since it can’t really be found at MH), just an expansion of calvinistic-militaristic theology and people management.



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LutheranChik

posted February 19, 2009 at 10:35 am


Preaching is alive and well here in mainline-land, at least in my experience.
For any readers interested in seeing into the “guts” of preaching as experienced by the preachers, I’d recommend visiting http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.com, a blogring of which I’m part. We are a group of (mostly) women who are pastors/priests/religious/rostered laity/active laypeople who talk about Godstuff and our various ministries in the context of the Revised Common Lectionary. (A note to the uninitiated that lectionaries are a Good Thing that keep you honest in your proclamation because you labor under the discipline of addressing the designated texts for the day and season, not your own pet Scripture nuggets.) Just sayin’.



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Mike Croghan

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:07 am


Eric Wakeling,
I think a point that some of us are making is that to some of us, “video” preaching doesn’t seem that different from regular, live “expert talking at the audience from the front of a big room” preaching – but that both of those seem *very* different from a participatory, priesthood-of-all-believers sort of worship gathering. I mean, yeah, going to see a movie is different from going to see a play, but they both look pretty similar when contrasted with participating in an artists’ workshop, or a potluck meal, or a pickup basketball game, or a poetry slam, or a barn raising, or a book discussion club, or a karaoke party.
Peace,
Mike



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Thom

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:32 am


God’s used Mark in deep ways in my life, and I totally applaud the heart behind wanting to expand Mars Hill to as many campuses as possible (he’s hoping, in the next ten years, to have enough campuses to run 400 services/50,000 people), but there’s a couple of huge concerns with this…
- Mark often argues for video preaching by comparing the delivery method to that used by the epistles – as they were passed around from congregation to congregation, so Mark’s sermons are passed around from local church to local church. Aside from the obvious bigheadedness of that comparison, would anyone honestly suggest that reading letters of apostles was the PRIMARY teaching diet in early churches? I would hardly think so.
- As much as Mark says he has great confidence that MHC would continue if he got hit by a bus tomorrow… I’m not so sure. By placing so much on his shoulders, other potentially strong preachers aren’t being developed, and thousands of folks are being trained in the idea that preaching = Mark talking, which isn’t the whole story at all.
Perhaps MH should put the effort they’re planning to put into starting new campuses into starting new churches… A29 does a fine job of this, so why not just throw their resources there? Suppose, rather than starting campuses around the city, they’d planted churches all over the region… they could have 7 viable churches all growing in their local contexts, with 7 preachers growing in their ability to feed their flock.
But on the other hand, we only see the outside of these decisions, and maybe everything here has been reasonably thought through and rebutted.
T



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Kenton

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:35 am


So I go back and forth on this one. On the one hand, the “WalMartization” you describe makes me absolutely recoil in horror. On the other hand, if I was looking for a church in a community and an extension of Mars Hill Grand Rapids came along, I might think I could find my place rather easily.
I like Mike’s comments, because if we could incorporate video sermon with potluck meal and book (or “sermon”) discussion club, it might be worth hashing it out. That means that “size matters.” If it’s a huge auditorium with a giant video monitor, it will completely quench the spirit. If it could be incorporated into groups meeting in homes with couches for groups of 10-20, then we might be on to something.
(Yes – I’m aware that no one’s actually proposing video sermons in homes, but having used Nooma videos in small groups, I think there’s something to be said for that type of model.)



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Kirk Longhofer

posted February 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm


I don’t think Wal-Martization is the issue here. This is an issue of using technology to leverage the value of great preachers and teachers.
Here’s the question. Is it realistic to expect every person in ministry to be a great teacher and preacher? The reality is quite simple. They’re not. Matter of fact… many of them are actually quite, well, bad at it.
This isn’t about the death of preaching. It’s about being honest about the fact that lots of folks who climb into pulpits have NO business being there. They may have great hearts and be incredible pastors to people, but when it comes to the preaching office, they suck.
I assume that by Wal-Martization you are refering to consumeristic congregations. Yes… a problem. But we probably really ought to view it as a challenge, rather than a problem. Is it any wonder that Americans in 2009 come into a church asking about program and looking for experience? Isn’t it one of the jobs of the Church, part of that making disciples thing, to help them understand that relationship with God goes deeper than that.
Technology bridges the barriers of time and space in an extraordinary way. That simply means that Driscoll, or Young Sr. or Jr. or Warren or whoever can be made available to more people. That could leave more time for these discipleship tasks. In fact, that’s what’s happening in lots of areas.
As to the use of video in large venue, please don’t knock it with giant sweeping statments like “it will completely quench the spirit.” At this point, you just look silly. Seriously. There are thousands of people and hundreds of churches all over the world who are successfully using “video venue” model.
Frankly, I think it’s a potential lifesaver for thousands of small and rural churches across the country. Someone, somewhere, is going to come up with a video delivery model that will free local pastors from a weekly preaching responsibility in these small churches, allowing them to spend more time being a pastor to their congregation, serving more people.
You make the statement that no one is suggesting using video in homes. I don’t mean to be critical of you, but it’s happening all over the world. Dozens of churches are using Internet campuses to deliver worship experiences directly to homes. I’m sure there will be a lot of folks who will object, saying that it’s not worship. I’m sorry, that’s simply not correct. Is it different? Yes. Is is worship? Absolutely. Does it work? The proof is in the results, which I think say “yes.” You may not like it, and that’s fine, but don’t think you can issue a blanket condemnation and make it so.
I’m so thankful for the churches that are digging into this new frontier. They’re experimenting, dedicating resources, seeing what works, and making mistakes. They’re missionaries into a new culture.
So… yes… I can understand that it might be threatening to have a high profile guy like Mark Driscoll move into “your” neighborhood using video. But, unless everyone in that neighborhood is already effectively plugged into your church… ain’t there enough folks to go around?



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Brian

posted February 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm


I feel out of the loop here, but what is Acts 29?



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Dan H

posted February 19, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Kirk,
While I agree with a few of your points (I don’t think utilizing video teaching necessarily quenches the spirit in a community), I still must object to the widespread use of this model. While you seem to see a dearth of good preachers and teachers, and thus a need to hold up a select small group of individuals, spreading their teaching to more and more people, I actually see an abundance of people who need to be more encouraged and empowered in their ability to teach truth to the community. And the increasing dependence on a small cadre of celebrity super-preachers actually stifles this work of equipping.
Now, I actually would agree that there are many in minstry, and in pastoral ministry, that are not that gifted in teaching. In most cases, they are very gifted in other areas of ministry (as you acknowledge), but because of our church-cultural insistence that the pastor must excel in every gift, and be an administrator/vision-caster/counselor/dynamic teacher, they don’t get the chance to just focus on their area of gifting.
So, in one sense I agree with you. I would like to see many pastors freed from the insistence that they teach well, toward spending more time using the gifts they do have. But I do not believe that the solution is to import more celebrity preachers via video. I believe that many people who do not necessarily have gifts of leading and organizing often do have gifts of teaching, and those people are under-utilized because only those with the dynamic leadership gifts are seen as fit to be “up-front”. I would like to see more dynamic body-ministry, not being so dependent on central charismatic figures.



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Thom

posted February 19, 2009 at 6:04 pm


Brian – Acts 29 is a church planting effort led by Driscoll along with Darren Patrick and some other folks. There are currently over 200 A29 churches in the U.S. Their main distinctive is that they’re interdenominational – they’ll work with anyone to plant a church (providing training and funding) so long as they hold to a reformed soteriology and a complimentarian gender view.
Interestingly, 9 years in, every A29 church planted so far is still very much alive.
http://www.acts29network.org
T



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EricW

posted February 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm


so long as they hold to a reformed soteriology and a complimentarian gender view.
Count me out.
FYI, so-called “complementarian” is a misnomer, for so-called “egalitarians” (from whom patriarchalists may even have “stolen” the term “complementarian” to soften their image) are also complementarians – i.e., they don’t view male and female as identical and interchangeable. Per the subtitle of the book, Discovering Biblical Equality, “egals” believe in “Complementarity Without Hierarchy,” whereas the so-called “complementarians” (assuming I am correctly associating Driscoll, Acts 29, et al, with such) restrict some church offices and roles and giftings to males only, and also have a patriarchal view of marriage, with the females in a “complementary” relationship that is also subordinate to and hierarchically under the male.
N’est-ce pas?



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Ethan

posted February 20, 2009 at 6:56 am


EricW,
At the risk of hijacking this comment thread, read Imago Dei’s opinion piece of complementarianism (wow, that’s a long word!). Hopefully it will clear things up for you.
http://www.imagodeicommunity.com/information/position-papers/women-in-ministry/



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EricW

posted February 20, 2009 at 7:10 am


Thanks, Ethan. I see that whereas Imago Dei (Donald Miller’s church – Blue Like Jazz) is not an Acts 29 church, they support The Table in Portland, which is an Acts 29 church. I live just a couple miles from The Village Church (Matt Chandler), which is an Acts 29 church. Back to topic….



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nathan

posted February 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm


I just have to roll my eyes at the whole “multi-site” thing.
It’s just evangelicals and other “congregationalists” finally “discovering” their own twist on the diocesan-parish system.
Lovely how a-historicism can make everything feel so…innovative and awesome.
ick.



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Bob

posted February 20, 2009 at 5:16 pm


“Interestingly, 9 years in, every A29 church planted so far is still very much alive.”
Not so- I know of at least one here in Portland- Lumen Dei- that failed.
Imago was started as an Acts 29 church, but left over issues of tone (Mark’s) an women in ministry (that was Acts 29′s issue- though Imago still won’t allow women elders or homegroup leaders, they wanted to give the title “pastor” to some women. That was a deal breaker for A29



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nathan

posted February 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm


The original group of churches/leaders that visioned A29 together experienced an initial parting of ways too over “reformed theology” right at the beginning.
Solomon’s Porch was one of them.



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Thom

posted February 21, 2009 at 12:44 am


“Not so- I know of at least one here in Portland- Lumen Dei- that failed. ”
I stand corrected. And a word to the A29 folks (like they’re listening, ha) – “we have a 100% success rate” is not something you should say if there’s *any* doubt.
T



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Your Name

posted February 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Marty you said:
I learned from an amazing preacher in seminary that the Word proclaimed needed to be indigenous to those to whom it is given. It should bubble up from the fountains of the trials, triumphs and tribulations of the people in front of you, not be handed down from above or, in this case, over from another community.
This is a point that I think so many teachers/preachers don’t know or don’t consider. I think it is a huge problem in large churches because the pastor becomes disconnected from the community and of course it is definitely a problem with the multi-site churches that have the one superstar preaching via live satellite to all the sites. When you are teaching/preaching to people you actually know and do life with you are more likely to preach with humility and less likely to preach with certainty. I believe that a lot of damage is done and that a lot of people leave the church and faith because a lot of what they hear coming out of the pulpits just doesn’t add up in the long run. As you said – when the Word is proclaimed it should connect with what is actually going on in the lives of the people it is being proclaimed to and I believe that it will change the message to be one that is more loving and just. I think that Jesus gives us that example over and over again.



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Liz

posted February 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Sorry – my name got left off of the last comment to Marty. (darn the Bnet comment system!)



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MRWBBIII

posted September 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm


JOHN MACARTHUR – ROB BELL RICK WARREN MARK DRISCOLL SERMON JAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HidbQZMKVI



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