What Drives Churches?

Jim West writes:

What drives too many Churches isn’t the Gospel, it’s the marketplace.

It’s Not Far From the Emergent Truth.

But while this is true in many parts of modern Christianity (e.g. televangelism), I don’t believe that its necessarily true.  I don’t think the two are incompatible.  Society, more than anything, drives churches to adapt and reform.  This is nothing new; in our earliest testimony of the Christian communities, expressed in the letters of Paul, churches were already adapting and changing and diversifying to explain the Gospel to their audience.  Paul’s message to these churches was not in how they were preaching, but what they were preaching.  Paul himself writes:

καὶ ἐγενόμην τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὡς Ἰουδαῖος, ἵνα Ἰουδαίους κερδήσω· τοῖς ὕπο νόμον ὡς ὑπὸ νόμον, μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον, ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον κερδήσω· τοῖς ἀνόμοις ὡς ἄνομος, μὴ ὢν ἄνομος θεοῦ ἀλλ’ ἔννομος Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κερδάνω τοὺς ἀνόμους· ἐγενόμην τοῖς ἀσθενέσιν ἀσθενής, ἵνα τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς κερδήσω· τοῖς πᾶσιν γέγονα πάντα, ἵνα πάντως τινὰς σώσω. πάντα δὲ ποιῶ διὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, ἵνα συγκοινωνὸς αὐτοῦ γένωμαι.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

There is no message in the Gospels or in Paul which dictate how or in what way one needs to preach the Gospels.  Paul clearly felt that such a commission was not needed.  So whether its a Catholic mass or a contemporary service, what matters is the message, per Paul, more than the means.

2 Responses

  1. the one thing you fail to notice is that paul is driven by the gospel, he doesnt drive it. you also overlook 2 cor 4:2, a tremendously important verse. especially now.

  2. I overlooked nothing. I made it clear that Paul condemned what other churches were preaching, not how they were preaching. I don’t think I said anything contrary to your comment, but I don’t think its wrong that churches adapt their style (not the message) in order to reach a broader audience. That is essentially what the early church fathers had to do in order to convert gentiles and Jews alike.

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