There are two schools of thought when it comes to building and maintaining a congregation. One believes that anything that can draw in more people and more activity is worthwhile as long as it stays close to the pure Gospel. The other believes that quality supersedes bulk, so staying true to the Gospel is more important that spreading it to more people.
Both perspectives have some merit, but I believe the latter is by far more valid. It’s been difficult to put into perspective because everyone has a story about a disinterested secularist who came to a church event for one reason only to be brought into full-throttle belief over time. They’ll tell the story that they would never have found God had they not been lured in through “cooler” pretenses. An argument can be made that this isn’t true, that true believers being predestined before the foundations of the earth mean that at some point everyone who is supposed to believe will be unable to avoid seeing the truth, but we’re going to stick to less controversial reasons for now.
Now is not the time to debate Calvinism versus Arminianism. That comes later.
The biggest risk to being a “cool” church is if the message is watered down by secular sensibilities, which seems to happen invariably at churches trying to be to “cool,” then the important parts of the message can be lost. It’s all a matter of how far a church goes before it starts getting too diluted. The messages of salvation through belief, belief through repentance, baptism by water and the Holy Spirit, faith defined by works – all risk getting caught up in the rock n’ roll mentality prevalent in churches that are progressive and bent on doing good things in this world instead of preparing people for they must face in order to make it to the next world. Faith is empowering but it can also be a hindrance in relations to the messages promoted by many of these churches.
Is it wrong to approve of gay marriage? According to the Bible, yes it is. That’s not to say gay people shouldn’t go to church; the gap between the proper perspective of loving the sinner but hating the sin and the hateful teachings of “churches” like Westboro Baptist are negated in the eyes of many secularists. To them, if you’re opposed to gay marriage, you’re identical to the bigots who hold signs condemning pretty much everyone to hell, signs held by anti-Biblical professors of a faith that is nothing like the faith of the true Church.
Society has made so many fear he label of bigotry that they go out of their way to avoid anything that can be construed as such. But just as Jesus and his disciples were called heretical in their day, so too will those of us adherent to a Biblical faith will be called bigots. Gay marriage is just one example.
When these progressive churches play for fun and promote a gospel of total inclusion, they’re delivering the wrong message to people who desperately need to hear the truth. We have enough challenges fending off the false teachings of the prosperity gospel. The last thing we need is a lukewarm church that is accepting of everything in the name of inclusiveness.
Just because there are example of progressive churches bringing atheists to the faith doesn’t mean conservative churches are bad. If anything, the harsh message of reality heard by few is more powerful than the weak message of inclusiveness heard by many.
Will you help revive the American Conservative Movement?