‘Relevant’ Churches and Apostate Pastors

We all know of churches which have sought to make themselves “relevant”. Whenever you hear about this happening, you should run for your lives. Really. The problem is, in the attempt to be cool, trendy and with it, they make themselves anything but a New Testament church.

In fact, they almost always shrink the gospel if not eradicate it altogether in the process. We have far too many examples of this, and it is as heartbreaking as it is now familiar. One church after another caves in to the spirit of the age, and simply redefines itself in terms of that which is acceptable to mere worldlings. These churches and church leaders think they can do things better than God.

They think they can remake the gospel message in their own image. But that is simply called idolatry. Yet it happens all the time. Consider the latest example which has just been brought to light. Here is how one write-up about this trendy American pastor and church goes:

“A minister in Oregon has launched a sermon series entitled ‘Church S*cks,’ and is announcing seeker-friendly changes to his Sunday services, as a way to attract people who dislike church. Tony Crank, who leads One Love Church in Eugene, claims that churches talk too much about sin, and are not welcoming enough to visitors.

“‘Some churches have become the kind of place where you point the finger, and you condemn and rebuke and you’re really quick to do it,’ he told television station KVAL. ‘And so, I think that is definitely lending itself to people not wanting anything to do with church and thinking church s*cks!’

“Crank says that he doesn’t want to be considered a preacher, because he does not agree with preaching at people. He states he’d rather be known as only a pastor, and doesn’t want to ‘waste your time’ on Sundays. ‘I just like to have a conversation with everyone, just like I do at the coffee shop if we were talking one on one,’ he told KTMR.

“This past Sunday, Crank shared a story about how his dog urinated on his mother when she came for a visit. He tied the story into his belief that churches are too quick to make people feel bad about their sins. Crank also used the phrase ‘Don’t get your panties in a bunch’ when speaking to the congregation.

“One Love Church mailed out hundreds of flyers this month to homes throughout Lane County to announce the series. Crank has also made adjustments to the Sunday services, as sermons will now be kept short to thirty minutes and secular music will be sung at times to accompany the messages, instead of solely worship and hymns. Songs may include those recorded by Katy Perry, known for her hit pro-lesbian song, I Kissed a Girl, and Maroon 5, known for their song Doin’ Dirt.”

So there you go folks: the really cool and really hip church. The trouble is, even second-rate pagan religions can do things much better than this. Playing Kate Perry songs and throwing around some racy language is not exactly going to bring in the masses. Indeed, I suspect it would just drive people away – in droves.

What a joke. And of course more important than this moonbattery is the fact that the very heart of the gospel has been ripped out and cast asunder. Without the preaching of sin we have no gospel – none whatsoever. Everything about the biblical gospel hinges on the reality of sin.

This is the message of the New Testament throughout – indeed, of the entire Bible. Simply consider the opening chapters of the New Testament. Immediately we are faced with the reality of sin. The first thing we read about John the Baptist is this:

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matt 3:1-2). The passage continues: “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (vv. 5-6).

And what is the first thing we find said about Jesus? “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt 4:17). And in Matt 5-7 in the Sermon on the Mount he spends much of his time talking about sins. He not only talks about murder, but he says hating your brother is even sinful. He discusses not just adultery, but condemns lustful looks as sinful as well.

Sin, and the need for repentance, is of course at the very heart of the message of Jesus. And the disciples all preached the same message as well. The truth is, there is no Christian gospel if we do not first preach about sin and the need for repentance.

Without this fundamental starting place to the gospel message, none of the rest of it makes any sense. Indeed, go back to the first chapter in Matthew. There we read about the birth and naming of Jesus. In Matthew 1:21 we read this: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

The very reason Jesus left heaven, the very rationale for the incarnation, the very purpose of his coming to planet earth, is to deal with our sin problem. That is why he came, and that is the entire basis for his mission on earth. He came to save sinners.

This is stated throughout the New Testament. As Paul put it in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” So without the concept of sin, the entire biblical narrative falls to pieces.

It is absolutely crucial that people be made aware of the fact that they are sinners who are alienated from God, and headed for a lost eternity. Unless we are fully aware of our dire and deadly condition, the good news of the gospel makes no sense at all.

Yes the grace of God is great. Yes his love is fantastic. But these attributes of God make sense only in light of our extreme predicament. We are sinners upon whom the wrath of God is resting heavily. And we cannot undo this weight of sin and guilt, and our due punishment.

That is exactly why Jesus came. Thus there can be no good news of the gospel until we first hear the bad news of the gospel. And it must always be in that order. No wonder Francis Schaeffer once rightly said, “If I had one hour with every man, I would spend the first 45 minutes talking to them about God’s law, and the last 15 minutes talking about His great salvation.”

So any church that thinks it can become trendy and relevant by not focusing on sin is simply deluding itself. It has already moved itself outside of the gospel, and is instead simply preaching fashionable worldly mush. And it will do no one any good.

Indeed, such a truncated and biblically anaemic gospel will simply send any listeners to the very depths of hell. It is not a gospel at all but a false gospel, formulated in the pits of hell, and designed to drag as many people there as possible.

The desire to be cool, hip and relevant is certainly not being promoted and fomented by God, but comes from the enemy himself. It is the old, old story of the true gospel that people desperately need to hear, not some new-fangled novelties which are but half-baked versions of what the world has to offer. Let me conclude with some remarks by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Sermon on the Mount:

“What is it that thus makes the Christian a special person? What is it that accounts for this uniqueness? What makes him do more than others? It is his whole outlook on sin. The Christian man has seen himself as utterly hopeless and condemned; he has seen himself as a man who is utterly guilty before God and who has no claim whatsoever on His love. He has seen himself as an enemy of God and an outsider. And then he has seen and understood something about the free grace of God in Jesus Christ. He has seen God sending His only begotten Son into the world, and not only that, sending Him even to the death of the cross for him, the rebel, the vile and guilty sinner. God did not turn His back on him. He went beyond that. The Christian knows that all this happened for him, and it has changed his whole attitude towards God and to his fellow men. He has been forgiven when he did not deserve it.”


[1489 words]

17 Replies to “‘Relevant’ Churches and Apostate Pastors”

  1. The sad thing is, the more they behave that way to attract followers, the more they lose respect and followers… people see through the phony attempts to be “cool”.

    Jo Deller

  2. Dear Bill, It is an unfortunate fact that, when some Churches or pastors try to make themselves relevant to sinful society, they make themselves irrelevant to Jesus. They are fools to themselves.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  3. Unfortunately, the goal for some seems to have become having a big church, not making disciples. Now if you are in the process of making a huge number of disciples you’ll have a big church and if so, that’s OK. However, if someone thinks that sacrificing “making disciples” is the right way to get a big church (which is their primary goal) then they are not the Christian minister that our Lord Jesus asked them to be.

    Also, there’s “culturally appropriate” presentation of the gospel. Well that’s OK too if it’s still presentation of the gospel, but if you have to throw the gospel out to be culturally appropriate enough, then too big a sacrifice has been made. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to reach as many as possible, but there is something wrong with tossing out the gospel in order to do so.

    John Symons

  4. The idea of a church building as a magnet to draw people into the orbit of the church is less than biblical. The biblical method of inviting people to the wedding feast of the Lamb is to go into all the world – not to sit in certain places, hoping to seduce unbelievers into warming pews and filling offering plates. Today’s deep things of Satan must be countered with nothing less than the deep things of God.

    John Wigg

  5. Some Christians say that while they ‘acknowledge’ that homosexual relationships are sinful, they do not care about whether gay “marriage” is legalised or not. This is just a classic example of Christians allowing the world to mould them.

    Janice Tooh

  6. Bill, I suspect that part of the problem here is the power of Political Correctness. The Bible tells us that preaching “The Cross” is offensive to ‘those who are perishing’, but PC demands that no one should be made to feel offended.(Biblical Christians being the exception.)

    John Gillespie

  7. Preach it brother Bill!
    If you toss out the gospel of Christ then what you are left with counts for nothing. Crank’s ‘church’ becomes a symbol of cultic foolery that is the worst form of witness to this pagan world. All they will see is more pagans like themselves.

    John Davis

  8. HI Bill,
    I am wondering which churches this guy had been to where he heard so much being said about sin. One of my complaints would be that there is not enough talk about sin in our churches. I wonder what his research is like, or is he just believing the wrong pre-suppositions like so many others.
    Fair dinkum some of these people should go and do some study of theology and church history.

    Warwick Murphy

  9. Unbelievable…every time I think I’ve seen the worst and then I see something even worse.

    Jo Deller

  10. The Holy Spirit has come to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. He does show love, but that’s a bonus for believers. The love of God (not love of man for God or others, but the love of God) is rarely explicitly mentioned in the Bible. While love is of vital importance, you can’t have a proper view of what love is if you ignore the message of the gospel.

    We should take note of the fact that the love of God wasn’t used in the Bible for evangelism. It is noticeably absent from Acts for example. The love of God doesn’t get a mention in Acts, the book that reveals what New Testament evangelism was like. Peter, Paul, Stephen, Phillip etc. presented the gospel to unbelievers without mentioning love.

    Matt Vinay

  11. I’m ever so glad you used the word ‘apostate’ in your title as that’s exactly what they are…divorced from Christ and unsaved.
    As to the tag of ‘relevance’ its simply not true. Relevance is not all this garbage that they say, shorter services, better coffee, and taking how the Bible tells us it must be done out of it.
    Relevance is dealing with ‘sin’, the things that are required to be put aside if one is to be assured of their salvation in Christ. There are numerous pitfalls for believers in our culture today which are desperately crying out to be heard and if you do not address them your not relevant. Likewise the lost must hear about their terminal illness called ‘sin’ before they will understand the hearing of the cure ‘the blood of Jesus’.
    Our Ministry is severely persecuted to date by many who follow a false jesus because we have lovingly warned them of their love and servitude to their habitual sins. They gather together to mock, scoff and lie yet have no scripture. The fires of hell will soon overtake them, their lies and the demons they serve unless they repent.
    Most of us accept that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians and the like serve ‘another jesus’ and not the one in the Bible, that they are unsaved and will perish in their sins with their idolatrous jesus they have made up, but why is it so hard for us to realize that in that which is seen as main stream Christianity lay many who have a false jesus, another spirit and preach another gospel?
    There is yet to be a major civil war within that which takes the name of ‘christian’ and the true will be known from false so much clearly to the ignorant and young amongst us. Those who stand aright in the Word will make decree’s of belief and commitment and demand others walk in the light. The standard God so desperately wants, the fire the zeal and passion He demands from His people will finally be manifest and that which is tainted will be found out lest it infect others.
    Thank you for your article Bill.
    Dorian Ballard

  12. Another great article Bill.

    In removing the gospel they remove themselves from Christ’s message, so they are no longer a Christian Church. They are more of a religous club with no relevance to anything, especially not the biblical Jesus Christ.

    Without the message of sin and repentance through Jesus, the church has no message at all, nor reason for being. Too many have long abandoned their reason for existing and leave their Bibles gathering dust, or just pick out what they like in a type of “smorgasbord christianity”, which is not Christian in outlook, but rather an attempt to make people feel good while still in their sins.

    Mark Bachelor

Leave a Reply

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

%d bloggers like this: