Outreach Magazine just put out its list of "most innovative churches" this week. Now, I think I know what evangelical people mean by "innovative" but I wanted to check out some of the churches on the list. Most, of course, are multi-site video churches, internet churches, etc. Not surprising. The pragmatism of mainstream white evangelical leaders leads folk to think "new" is better because it is not boring. Most of the time these are people who grew up bored in church and just want to do it differently. Believe me I am not for boring church at all. Not hardly. But what I see out there at times is that churches can start to leave so much out. When I read the narrative of Scripture then go on the web site of some of these churches, see their literature, listen to some sermons, etc. I feel a bit of a disconnect. Rather than seeing the gospel lived in and through American cultural contexts, many times I feel like I am just watching American culture with a dash of unspecified Christian religion splashed around.
One church in particular put up a video highlighting their teaching from the year. Now, I know this is not their actually teaching. And I know that it just represents what they choose to show as a highlight, important family moments, etc. But this reinforces my concern. Go here and click "teaching highlights" to watch the video and tell me what you do not hear - especially in light of it being a "highlight film" of the teaching ministry. It looks like this church is working hard, has a great heart to reach people, has lots of fun, and has lots of folks coming around. I am not hating on it, it is probably a good church - but things like this bring up concern. Some times I wonder if "innovative" just means shorter messages, less Bible, absent theology and more jokes?
Additionally, I was trying to find out the church's view of the gospel and here is the site map on the web site (which is a nicely designed site) where that info is found:
New to GCC --> "Everything Else" --> Bottom of the page it reads: Some people ask, so we include it here. View our mission, vision, and value statement.
Once that file opens (a pdf) there is a brief thing talking about their beliefs at the very bottom of the file. I wondered why this is so hidden and reluctantly included?
Young men out there, future pastors and preachers - Paul gave a great exhortation about ministry in 2 Timothy - a great read. Do these things and then after that think about "what works" today. The two do not have to be at odds - good theology and missiology ought to stay married.