Wednesday, October 30, 2013


     Here's the reality, I love to argue with people. I'm grown and I can admit it. There is a huge clamor and discourse over the way that a church presents the gospel. It seems that there are some people who want the church of their youth, people who want the church of their parents youth, or people who want church to be relevant. Here's my caveat: however the gospel is presented, you don't CHANGE the gospel. The bible is the Word of God. You don't break God's commandments; you break yourself against God's commandments. We're not talking about churches who want to twist scripture to fit their political, ideological, or theological goals. We're not talking about churches who want to fit a pop-culture cookie cutter and don't talk about things that are taboo in today's PC environment. Even though the last scriptures were written nearly 2000 years ago, it is relevant for us today. So here's my argument...

     I laugh at people who think that newer music isn't as holy as some of the old hymns. They act like Peter, James, and John were singing these songs with Jesus. Ahem... Amazing Grace (1779), It Is Well (1871), Great Is Thy Faithfulness (1923), Jesus Paid It All (1865), Come Thou Fount (1757), etc... are some of the greats sung in many churches every Sunday. Shoot, we sing these same songs and I love them! What these songs do is bring us to a place of remembrance. That we can reflect back to when we were first saved, going through a tough time, or being delivered from something. These songs were a part of our anthem to God in good and bad times. They inspire emotion in our praise and worship because of these things. Can you imagine being in these congregations when these songs were first being presented? I'm sure they were met with some of the same resistance that some of our congregations meet new songs. The older crowd said, "Why can't we just sing the good old songs?" or "I just can't get into these new songs, I don't know the words!". It's silly to think about, but you know it's true. You know it's true, because you've probably found yourself saying this or heard someone saying this. These songs are great, but so is Hillsong. In fact, there are more talented people in the church today than ever before. The last thing we want to do is to stifle the creativity of the young to satisfy the old. We've been alienating the talented for too many years. I could tell you 20+ stories about current secular artists who were driven out of the church because they didn't fit the mold. But this is just the music and this argument is about a lot more than just the music.


If you really want old school church, here it is. This was the church for hundreds of years. We don't want this because we would be so far out of culture that we would have no traction in people's lives. For some reason, in the last 20-30 years the church has settled to be nearly relevant. Like a fanny pack or flannel shirt wrapped around the waist. Cool for a time, yet the church is still doing it and expecting results. Jesus called us to be IN the world, but not OF the world. The difference is a heart issue, not a external one.

     I am so happy that as a culture, we've begun to shift away from the super dressed up style that sprung into popularity in the 1800's. The fact that many, if not most, workplaces accept jeans as an appropriate dress code. This movement really began 20 years ago and I'm thankful. The reality of today is that now many people, unless they work at a bank or a church, don't have but one or two suits. One of the greatest fears of a visitor to a church is that they'll be under-dressed. Isn't that funny? People are unwilling to attend church because of a fear that they'll be ridiculed because of their lack of "Sunday best". This is the culture that many churches have created. We forget that for hundreds of years the church was conducted in the homes of people. That you came as you were. Only once the Romans romanticized church and brought in many of their pagan rituals did it become an event to dress up for. Much like our red carpets of today they would show of their wealth, their duds, their Sunday best. It was a social event. Church was never intended to be a red carpet, nor was it intended to be a social event. It is a time for true worshippers to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). It is a time for us to gather and get our marching orders. A time for our status quo to be challenged, and for new convictions to be instilled. The reality that the temple isn't where we meet, but it is our bodies. It's not even the dressings that we put over our bodies.

     The best thing about churches today is it's kind of like 31 flavors. For the most part, everyone's teaching sound doctrine, (again, we're not talking about those who are compromising the scripture for relevance or hate) it's just that everyone's got their own vision and version. Some have praise and worship with lights and haze singing the latest Hillsong CD, others sing Come Thou Fount under fluorescents with an organ, others still don't even use instrumentation at all. Some preach messages targeted at unbelievers, some at the new believer, some at the life-long Christian. Some churches focus on building the believer and others focus on making new ones. You've got to find the church that you can buy in to their vision and version. It's out there, I promise! Little Clovis has over 80 churches, so I 'm sure there's a church out there for you.

     This church decided over 23 years ago to reach people. Black people, Hispanic people, Anglo's, and mix breeds like me. We decided to be an inclusive church; to include every race, creed, age group, and economic status. Whether they wore clothes from Goodwill or a high end shop they were welcome. We made a choice to not just be multi-cultural but also multi-generational; to celebrate and incorporate the older generation. We didn't want to be a church that said, "It's us four and no more", but a church that wanted to reach the community at large. We refused to be a church that sang songs about the Great Commission, spoke messages about the Great Commission, yet when push came to shove we never accepted those with a pre-existing condition. We weren't going to be the church that traded church members like playing cards only to have the rest of the city go to hell. 90% of those over the age of 55 are either in a church already, or made a decision never to attend church again. At FCFC 3 out of every 4 visitors is under the age of 32. 75% of the people who are stepping foot in our building for the first time are looking for a church that fits them. They listen to Jay-Z and Katy Perry. They like romantic comedies and action thrillers. They read Cosmo, watch SportsCenter, and if they're smart a little Duck Dynasty too. They're looking for an expression of church that matches what they're watching and listening to. Do we sing hymns? YES! Usually not the way they were done in 1751, but we sing them. Are we seeker sensitive? If you ask that question, you've never sat in our seats and listened to David Swann preach. We hit the issues, we talk about the tough topics, but the difference between us and most, WE LOVE SINNERS. How are they going to change if they don't know they're wrong? How will they know if they don't hear it from us? (Romans 10) Who will step up and help to change the tide of this generation? We'll answer the bell and I hope you'll join us. It's going to take all of us. So who wins in the debate between Old School and Relevant? Both. Simply because too many "relevant" churches have reached the lost while failing to build the believer. Because too many "old school" churches have built up the body of the believer without creating new ones. The best church is one that can save people from their sin and build disciples. If that church is old school or relevant isn't the real question we should be asking ourselves. It's just one of the 31 flavors. THE REAL QUESTION IS ARE THEY REACHING AND DISCIPLING???