Image by d4vidbruce via Flickr

I was watching the Brewer game on and off yesterday and in the eighth inning I saw a pitcher come in who I thought I recognized, but he was wearing a different number than usual.  Not knowing if the Brewers had acquired a new pitcher, I had to wait to watch him in action before I realized it was the same pitcher, but he requested and received a new number on his jersey.  It was the same product, just identified a little differently.

Well this week as we look at some movements within the Evangelical church, I find myself pondering a similar situation.  I see some churches who call themselves evangelical, but who seem to be teaching something different than what we are used to.  In their case, the identifying word of ‘evangelical” is the same, but the product seems to be taking on a new, sometimes dangerous, metamorphosis.

Some evangelical churches are starting to de-emphasize the written Word of God, replacing it with feelings and experiences.  More and more churches are surveying the public to see what it would take to get them to come to church and also asking what they would like to see in a church.  This makes many of us more than a little uneasy.

The Word of God never changes—God Himself never changes.  People are going to either accept or reject His Word and teachings.  And while I am all for getting the unchurched to attend, I fear we may be seeing more of a market-driven church movement instead of a truth-driven church taking hold these days.

Surveys about what kind of music should be played, or should we serve coffee during or after service seem rather trite and meaningless to me.  Perhaps instead we should be asking people who they believe God is and if they feel He should have a place in their lives—you know, real evangelism.

My fear is when we allow surveys to dictate what our churches should be and look like, we are sliding toward wanting to be relevant instead of truthful.  Next people will tell Pastors that they don’t relate well to teachings about sin because it doesn’t make them feel good.  I think most Pastors would tell you that they have been on the receiving end of those discussions several times.  Well, I don’t know about you but when I leave Sunday service I usually feel a combination of gratitude for all Jesus has done for me, and challenged on how I can draw closer to Him.  If Jesus means all to me that I claim, then why do I still so easily fall in to temptation and sin?  How can I be a better example of what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus?

There is a great battle going on in many of our churches: a battle between being relevant—or being truthful and faithful to God’s Word.  Pastors and Elders, stand strong against the temptation of being relevant at the expense of truth.  And for those of us who attend church, pray for and support our leaders, encouraging them and thanking them when they challenge us in our sinful ways.