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Campaign Confusion and Gospel Gimmicks

Growing up in the 80’s church, especially the church of God, there would inevitably be a Revival meeting.  For those not aware, a revival was usually a week of nightly church meetings where the sermon was delivered by a ‘well-known’ evangelist in that denomination’s circle of influence.

The aim of these events appeared to be threefold:

  • Encourage the faithful to be more faithful
  • Get those back-slidden people to recommit their lives to Christ
  • And.. to get the lost to accept Jesus as their Savior

Ultimately, I think success was measured by the numbers that came in – “22 people recommitted to Christ, 4 Saved!!” It would probably be worth mentioning that 18 of the 22 had recommitted themselves at each of the past 4 revivals and that a year later only 1 of the newly saved could be found still practicing their new-found faith.

Looking back I wonder if there was confusion in the campaign.  Think about what the word revival means.  Can something that has never been alive be revived?  A large portion of the focus of a revival was to ‘win lost souls to Jesus’. But then that isn’t truly revival is it?  On the surface it appears that a revival would really be meant for the congregation that was dying away… forgetting that first love.

If a congregation needs reviving, is the cure an evangelist coming into town?  What happens when the evangelist leaves – does the congregation begin a new downward spiral to apathy?

The church of the 21st century has replaced that outdated revival technique with campaigns and events.  But, alas,  it appears that the same confusion that existed in the 80’s still permeates the present.

  • We attempt to treat the symptom and not the disease
  • We blend edification and evangelism and end up watering down both
  • We still use numbers to determine how successful the campaign was

I’ve mentioned before that the health of an organism isn’t determined by number but by function.  I don’t determine how well I feel in the morning by counting my toes and fingers but by how well all the members are functioning to their purpose.

Maybe I have it all wrong, but  it seems to me that edification(equipping of the saints) and evangelism are two separate functions.  And, I would surmise that evangelism is dependent on the success (health) of the edification.  Just to put those statements into perspective: you don’t have a novice chef cook dinner for the President anymore than you would have a puking, expert chef cooking for the President.  The body of believers need to be trained and healthy in order to function correctly.

A healthy body is built on at least 6 things:

  • Ability to breathe
  • Clean Water
  • Nutritional food
  • Shelter
  • Exercise
  • And Love

In the church body those would correlate to:

  • Reliance on the Holy Spirit
  • Life in Christ
  • Proper instruction in the Word
  • Seeking God’s will
  • Application
  • Relationships

In school we were taught the food pyramid so that we would understand the importance of what keeps us healthy.  I have tried to order the lists above in the order of importance as I understand them.  We could quibble about how important shelter is over food and water depending on the environment but those are usually the exception and not the rule.

This post has already gone on for too long so let me cut to an important observation.  I believe we are guilty of being more concerned about the bottom 3 items than we are the top 3 and that is getting the cart in front of the horse.  Don’t get me wrong, we are not necessarily overlooking the first 3 items, but, in some cases, we are substituting for them.

Just to give you some food for thought:

  • Has pragmatism or expediency replaced the Holy Spirit in your decisions
  • Has self help, self empowerment, or living your best life now replaced the abundant life that Christ purchased for you
  • Do you get more excited about a new best seller or gospel tool than you do the Word of God

It’s just confusion and gimmicks when we choose a shallow replacement.

  1. December 22, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Great thoughts Tony! I think with the emergent theology and emphasis on relationships (not bad in and of itself) there has been a swing away from doctrine and emphasis on and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not talking about some mystical hocus-pocus thing, but a life reliant on His direction, power and guidance. I do think we have put the cart before the horse at times. Been missing your posts and hope to see more of them. Praying that you and the family will have a fantastic and Christ-filled Christmas.

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