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Jun 27 2010

What Matt Chandler and Andy Stanley said at the SBC Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention recently held meetings in Orlando.  A couple of highlights sent our way:

Matt Chandler, on the gospel:

A young evangelical preacher known for his no-frills sermons didn’t go soft when it came to rebuking pastors who are preaching something other than the Gospel and those who are pretending to be godly.

Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, addresses Southern Baptists at the Pastors’ Conference, June 14, in Orlando, Fla.

“I, unfortunately, with a great deal of sorrow have walked away from the idea that all of you are men and women of the Word,” Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, told a group of Southern Baptist pastors Monday. “I’ve just come to find that a lot of you are really good at clichés and really bad at tying in the Word.”

Chandler, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer, was in Orlando, Fla., as one of several well-known speakers during the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.

Though Southern Baptists overall are recognized for being conservative evangelicals, Chandler took the group back to the core of their faith – the Gospel. After all, someone can grow up in the church, go to Vacation Bible School every summer and participate in all the programs and still not understand the Gospel, he indicated.

Chandler has found some pastors to be preaching the Gospel as a means of justification but failing to teach the Gospel as a means of sanctification. That results in churches primarily focused on evangelism and having “no care in the world for the depths of spirituality and understanding the nature and character of God.”

Though active in bringing people to Christ, churches are not deepening and strengthening believers.

Also, by leaving out the sanctification part, many pastors start to preach “Christian therapeutic moralistic deism,” a term he borrowed from author Christian Smith. In other words, they preach, “This is how a Christian behaves, this is how you don’t behave,” though they might not use that exact language.

But that’s basically setting believers up to fall short when trying to obey all the laws, the young pastor noted. In fact, Scripture spells out that no one can follow all the laws.

“If you’ve preached a lot of moralistic deism and haven’t trained your people in what the Gospel is, then you will find them doing a slew of different things to try to mortify their sin and grow in godliness, most of which do not work and have no power,” Chandler stated.

“When you say … ‘this is how you modify your behavior,’ you’ve doomed your people to a cycle of silliness that will last for the rest of their lives. [It will] end in them never really loving God fully and trying to mortify their flesh by weapons of their flesh and in the end only flesh wins.”

In his brief but piercing talk, Chandler went on to address the pastors’ own behaviors.

For those who do not understand the Gospel, they end up in a cycle of secret sin, trying to clean themselves up until they’re “externally passing the test” – whether it’s by reading popular devotionals or drinking from coffee cups that have trite verses printed on them (verses that are taken out of context, Chandler noted).

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Andy Stanley, on ministry:

“Are you going to continue to be in love with a model of ministry, and simply flirt with the Great Commission,” he asked. “Or are you willing to fall in love with the Great Commission and abandon a model of ministry that you know in your heart is not making a difference in your city?”

Too many churches are making it difficult for unchurched and unsaved people to attend church, Stanley said. “We’ve created church for church people,” he said. “And that reflects a desire more focused on keeping people in the church that reaching those outside of it.”

For North Point, Stanley said that if any program or project isn’t about “bringing people to faith … we don’t do it. … We want an organization that reflects the Great Commission.”

“Identify and remove unnecessary obstacles,” Stanley advised the pastors. Being careful not to discount the Gospel, he said it is offensive, but that neither the parking lot nor the children’s ministry should be offensive. “It’s OK to offend people with the Gospel, but, good grief, let’s don’t offend them with something else.”

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