fighting the sin of becoming a boring church part-1

Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, was once quoted as saying, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.” If this is true, then there are churches all across America that are repeatedly sinning every single weekend by communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the most stale, vanilla, outdated, and yes even boring deliveries systems and presentations. The Scriptures however would teach us that the environment, or the context matters. It matters a lot.

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” I Corinthians 3:5-7

According to the Scriptures our responsibility is to plant and to water; in other words to tend to the context or environment. God’s responsibility is to bring about life-change. We cannot manufacture either spiritual birth or spiritual growth. But we can set the table for an interaction to take place between a Holy God and a people that need to meet Him.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

The act of Creation was not only completed by Intelligent Design, but with Intentional Design. The Bible teaches us that He established and determined the boundaries of the waters. It wasn’t an accident, nor was it flippant. Creation itself is the ultimate environment the He has set us in. All of this was done in order to reveal Himself to all of mankind and draw us to himself.

Building compelling environments matter! They matter because they influence our ideas, feelings, and ultimately our behavior! In fact, the Business World spends billions of dollars annually to discover and leverage a principle that has been clearly revealed to the church. But unfortunately forgotten. Companies understand that everything from the height of the ceiling, the colors on the walls, the texture of the floor, the music that’s playing, the temperature of the room, and the way they speak to their customers matters. And they’re doing it to sell more cars, clothes, lattes, or burgers. And we’re talking about Heaven and Hell being in the balance!

And our answer, or perhaps better put, our excuse is, “just preach the word.” Hmmm…how’s that been working out for everybody?

Check out Part-2 of this post to for 4 simple criteria to consider when building your environments.

Posted in Leadership

3 Responses to “fighting the sin of becoming a boring church part-1”

  1. Joe McGinnis February 8, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Here’s the thing: churches all across America are in fact “creating environments” every week. They’re choosing songs that people like, they’re choosing carpet and paint that match. They’re working on creating environments that make people feel comfortable. Even the old school “just preach the Word” guys are trying to create an environment in the way they communicate. We’re just not doing that good of job in comparison to our culture. Where’s that line between conformity and being a light? Not sure some times… but I do understand the a lot of people will still run from a bright light …if it’s ugly enough. The goal is to create a compelling environment that is authentic to who we are. (Then again maybe that’s why some church environments are so ugly some times)?

  2. Ward Townsend February 8, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    Compelling makes you want to be there. Compelling draws you somewhere you may not normally go. Compelling motivates you to do things you may not normally do. I propose to you it is MORE than just comfortable, it is “SAFE”! It is an environment that removes fear and apprehension. It is a place where you will take a chance and aspire beyond your current view of yourself to something that someone else may see you are capable of. Compelling is EARNED! It is WORKED for, refined, honed, refined some more but never perfected because it is always changing. It takes TRUTH and makes it RELEVANT to EVERYDAY life. It removes barriers and “safety walls” and allows everyone to be themselves without condemnation and rejection. But it ALSO TEACHES and GUIDES to improvements in a way that the corrected one RECEIVES the correction with a sincerely grateful heart. So what does “Compelling” look like? The APPLICATION of “compelling “ is as varied as the individual. The Apostle Paul said, “I have become ALL things to ALL people so that I might by ALL means save SOME.” (emphasis mine) It is about making a place where OTHERS are compelled to WANT to belong and hear the message of life we are to share with them. Imagine going to dinner as a guest not knowing it was a formal event, so you go “business casual”. Imagine how you feel when you get there and realize how inappropriate your attire is for the occasion. Now imagine you can’t leave because you are the SURPRISE GUEST OF HONOR and everyone is looking for you. A “compelling” environment would be one where ALL the OTHER men took off THEIR jackets, and MOST of them ALSO remove their ties, just to honor you and make you feel more at eased. This is NOT “compromise” or “watering down” principles, this is creating an environment where someone is SAFE and ACCEPTED no matter what their condition. THIS is love… putting another’s need ahead of your own. THIS creates “compelling” in ALL its various forms…

  3. paul alexander February 10, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Great comments! This is can definitely be a tough one. There should always be tension between communicating the Gospel in a culturally relevant manner & not communicating the Gospel clearly. This is a good tension. However, building a compelling environment is just one piece of effectively communicating the Gospel. I’ll post Part-2 of this next week.

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