Message Versus Methods

Recent news coverage of the Asbury Revival in Wilmore, Kentucky has been both supportive and maligning. So, what else is new? It seems the Church will always have its share of witch hunters. I’ve pastored six churches over the past 44 years, and as the years moved on, I was met with accelerated critical voices as to what the church should look like and what should be allowed in terms of weekly ministry opportunities. The advent of LED boards, earplugs, darkened sanctuaries, louder music, and other changes have sent many to teeth-grinding extremes in attempts to make their disagreements known. The generations are speaking.

In my third pastorate, I dealt with a board that felt it their duty – even mandate – to constantly monitor my approach to ministry. I was victimized by self-righteous believers, constantly opposing me on matters of preference. They often tried to correlate their opinions with aberrant theological support. In short, they were modern day witch hunters. In 2 Timothy 4:14, the apostle Paul refers to a man by the name of Alexander the Coppersmith, who did significant harm to his ministry. He pronounces severe judgment on the man. I too was pursued by those who were divisive and unloving. 

When are we going to learn that while the Christian message remains non-negotiable, methods, out of necessity, have to change to affect culture? I’m referring to matters of preference, not non-negotiable biblical mandates. That’s another blog!

The other day, a pastor acquaintance said to me, “Our church continues to meet on Sunday evenings, and we still offer Sunday School. We have chosen not to go the way of compromise like so many other churches.” Ouch! Is this compromise or have churches chosen to embrace different methods to accomplish their evangelistic objectives? Many pastors now use Sunday evenings for leadership training. Others have opted to develop small group opportunities. I know one pastor who invites families to gather a few minutes on Sunday evening to review the morning message and to further elaborate. How creative!

Remember, while the message never changes, the methods, out of necessity, often do.

Years ago, many evangelicals refused to allow kitchens in their churches. Today, many offer coffee and light refreshments before and after services. Who cares? Some pastors keep bottled water on their pulpit and many in the pews carry water bottles as well. Again, who cares? Why major in the minors? I suppose builders and boomers saw such things as matters of reverence. Younger generations see such things as matters of relevance. Why draw battle lines? Lord, help us remember that our REAL enemy is the devil!

Some ask, “Where do we draw the line?” My response is, “Preferential matters need to be minimized, and all of us need to maximize the real reasons we gather – to worship the Lord!” We are called to remain “fervent in our love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). May I encourage you to carefully select your battles?

One thing is for sure. Changing times call for changing methods. This is not compromise; it is meeting people where they are, not where we think they should be, or not based on our comfort levels. Who knows what the church of tomorrow will look like? Let me encourage you to tuck your displeasures and frustrations under the blood of Jesus, and trust God with His Church. Wise and Christ-loving pastors need your support, not your antagonism. Away with Alexander the Coppersmiths!  

Remember, while the purposes of God are foundational, eternal, and unchanging, generations are temporal, culturally-driven and changeable. Churches need to come to terms with these dynamics and refuse to become generationally combative.  

Head over to my BLOG to read more.



Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *