Application Without Exegesis: A Destructive Trend

Exegesis is foundational to understand scripture’s application to our lives. The problem is that many in the church want to hear the application without doing the work of the exegete. In many cases this has also been translated into the way many preachers preach. In order to keep congregants happy, they are given large amounts of life application with little if any scriptural content. This puts both the preacher and the congregant in a dangerous position, because now neither the preacher nor the churchgoer is tethered to the text. Two major problems can arise in the life of the church member because of this. First, even if the application of scripture is correct, when it is challenged by those who disagree, the church member is left defenseless when it comes to defending this truth biblically. And second, if the application is not truly derived from scripture, then the church member has been sold some kind self-help scheme as if were a “biblical principle.” And when this self help scheme eventually lets them down, not only will they be disappointed in the church, but they may even start to believe scripture is no longer trustworthy. This is indeed a destructive trend.

-Doug Eaton-

Four Pitfalls for “Relevant” Pastors to Avoid

There are many pastors that seem to have lost their way a bit by following hard after some kind of “seeker” or “emergent” model. They have such a desire for growth and relevance that they have lost their relevance, which makes their growth questionable. With them in mind, here are four common pitfalls which must be avoided by pastors who desire real growth and relevance. In other words, these are things they should not do.

1. Think that church is about reaching the lost at the expense of feeding the sheep, because you have failed to realize that a church of mature Christians can accomplish more for Christ than one shepherd with malnourished sheep.

2. If you do decide to go deeper into the scriptures for those in your church who hunger for it, give them a class on a weeknight night, because you mistakenly believe that the Lord’s Day is not for the Lord’s people, and instead think it is for giving the unregenerate things that will keep them entertained.

3. In order to emphasize relationship and de-emphasize the commands of God, argue that sin is not breaking rule, it is betraying a relationship, because you failed to understand that you cannot betray a relationship unless there are rules to relationships. Then proceed to make up new principles on how relationships are betrayed that have nothing to do with the word of God.

4. Believe that the church needs to be more experiential and less doctrinal, and think that experience is found by manipulating the lighting, music, and dramatic pauses, because you have forgotten that the word of God can cut to the heart with surgical precision and can comfort its wounds like a soothing balm.

I am sure there are plenty more, but these four seem to plague many churches. My prayer is that all pastors and their churches will experience growth and be relevant, but we must remember that a packed house does not necessarily indicate spiritual health. All we have to do is look at many sporting events or concerts to realize the using natural things to appeal to the natural man can fill a house. The Gospel and the word of God are what are relevant to a sinful world, and to sheep who desire to grow. May we all “preach the word.”

God Bless,

Doug

How to Be Irrelevant

What do pulpits, a stool, community, relationships, and the Word of God  have to do with being relevant?

Shocking Message to Pastors and Churches

This gentleman recently found out that he has a brain tumor.  Pondering this, he wants to remind many Christians and churches how they may sound to someone who is looking for real answers, and not just wanting their ears tickled with prosperity preaching and superficial hype. 

Let’s keep him in prayer,

Doug

10 Signs You May Have Just Entered an Emergent Church

Welcome to the postmodern zone!

Was that Worship???

I had a co-worker once who loved just about everything Disney. He put a sticker on his car, and would proudly wear Disney hats and shirts. He was one of the managers at the store where I was working, and I remember one day when everything was going wrong he said to me, when this day is over I am going home and I’m going to watch an old Disney movie. When I pressed him a bit as to why he chose to watch an old Disney movie as opposed to anything else, he said, “Disney things just bring me back to when I was a kid.” Ultimately there was a sense of nostalgia from all the memories of growing up, and these things moved his affections in a way that made him feel a bit better after a hard day.

On another note (no pun intended), music has a way of doing the same type of things for us. I can remember in high school and college and it even happens now occasionally, when I would be listening to secular radio, and that new song that I had been waiting to hear would come on. Immediately, I would turn up the volume and I would be energized by what I was hearing, singing along with all the passion I could muster.

Now there really is nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia and being energized or moved by some piece of music, but when you put these things together with a Christian worship service or program we must be careful to discern our affections. I bring this up because sometimes I think we can be misled to think that we have had a time of worship or that we have heard a really good sermon simply because our affections were moved.

We must pay close attention to what is actually moving our affections in order to discern whether or not it is worship or even spiritual. When those first chords of our favorite praise song are played by the worship leader, are we being energized much like any natural man who hears a secular song that causes him to turn up the radio or are we really worshipping? And when grandma’s favorite Hymn starts to play and causes us to experience a time of peace and contentment while thinking back to when she used to sing it to us as a child, do we sometimes confuse that with worship?

Now I am not saying we should only sing boring songs or songs that don’t remind us of anything, or that it is impossible to really be worshipping during these times. In fact, I think it can be good at times to remember our family worship from when we were growing up, and I also think it is good that we still have people today writing new psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for us to sing today that get us excited. But what I want to stress is that simply because we have these moments does not mean we are worshipping or that we have been moved by in adoration of God. Charles Spurgeon once said that if he wanted to, he could move congregations to tears by telling them sad stories of mothers with sick children or energize them by telling them stories of men and women who accomplished great things. But he said it would be a waste of time unless they where moved to cry over their sin and take joy in Christ and the cross.

Even the natural man’s affections can be moved in strong ways, but those affections will never be worship unless they are moved by the word of God as it points us to Christ and what He has done for us. Whether we attend a modern or traditional worship service is not the biggest issue, but we must be sure to seek out worship and preaching that convicts us of sin, and shows us the remedy in Christ.

-Doug Eaton-

On Church Growth and Personal Holiness

This is not going to be another rant against the church growth movement. Though there are major problems in the seeker movement as we all know, we should all be for church growth. In fact it seems almost impossible for a church to be fulfilling the great commission without some kind of growth taking place. We are to go out and make disciples, when they come in, they too are to grow to the place where they go out and make more disciples.

Many times though, it seems to come down to, “if we get this program going, more people will show up.” And sometimes this is true, but it really is amazing what we can accomplish without God’s Spirit moving. It is true that nothing happens outside the providence of God, and even kings have their authority because of His establishing them, but this is not the same as God’s Spirit moving on the congregation in a sanctifying way.

The idea of common grace and saving grace applies not only to individuals but to churches also. A church can grow in number and wealth if it has the right marketing plan, along with a number of other good strategies, but this does not necessarily mean anything spiritual is happening there.

A church where all of the congregants live worldly lives for the entire week is not really growing, even if it is getting more numbers in on a regular basis. We cannot really call it church growth when the majority of a local church is involved in much of the same sinful lifestyle as the rest of the world. When they spend their week chasing after self-glory, personal peace and affluence, and lets the Word of God sit unread the entire week with no real prayer life, it doesn’t matter how big the church is.

In fact, this seems to be a problem in many small non-growing churches also. The people come on Sunday and see a low attendance and wonder why the pastor isn’t bringing in more people with his sermons.  Yet there is no real desire for personal holiness in their lives. After spending the entire week with no real thoughts on Godliness they come to church and expect something to happen, but when we spend a good portion of our time doing things God hates, and not doing the things He loves, we shouldn’t expect much to happen at our church.

It seems that real church growth will not happen when there is no desire for personal holiness in the lives of its people. And when there is a desire, and progress is being made in personal holiness, church growth has already begun. We don’t need more programs that will bring more people in to be just like everybody else in the world. We need people in the church to grow in Godliness and as this happens we will not need programs to bring in the people. The church will grow because the people will be bringing them in, and more programs will be developed to accompany the need for the people who are coming in desiring to know Christ and be more like Him.

So maybe this was a bit of a rant, but it wasn’t really against the church growth movement. It was against the idea that personal holiness can be neglected, while church growth is to be expected, and this happens in some churches with big marketing plans, and some without them.

As we grow to be more like Christ
And by the world we are less enticed,
In our hearts God’s Spirit’s moving,
Then of our growth He is approving.

Doug Eaton