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Feb 20

How Non-Christian Soccer Moms Decide What Songs You Sing At Church

A few years ago we had the opportunity to meet and hear Warren Cole Smith, associate publisher of World Magazine and author of A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church.  In the video below, Smith conducts a seminar that helps identify some of the issues and challenges facing the contemporary church.  He describes his journey through evangelical America from the 1970’s through the present day in the forward to his book, which you can (and should) read online at the Lovers Quarrel website. Take some time and watch this presentation below. It’s worth your while if you want to understand why the church is becoming less relevant at the very point in time it desperately wants to be more relevant.  Readers may agree or disagree with various conclusions, but the observations and arguments are not trivial or inconsequential and need to be seriously and honestly considered.

Here are a few notes from the presentation posted below in which he outlines “The Evangelical Reality: Five Diseases of the Evangelical Church”

  1. Body Count Evangelism: too much of an emphasis on saying a prayer to register a conversion or decision, but nothing significant happens to shepherd them into becoming disciples.  This is due to a loss of theology that emphasizes God’s sovereignty.
  2. The Christian Industrial Complex.  Where ministry and industry collide…industry thrives, but ministry suffers.  In Christian radio, marketing has replaced ecclesiology.  “Humans are not consumers who need to be satisfied.  We are sinners who need to be justified.”  Most major Christian radio stations market not to Christians, but to soccer Moms driving kids around town, 30-40% who listen are not Christians. So the music you hear on Sunday morning is based on popularity, which is not determined by theologians or pastors, but by marketers appealing to thirty-something soccer moms of varying faiths and commitment.  As a result, we get what we want, not what we we perhaps need.
  3. The Triumph of Sentimentality–seeing the world as we would like it to be rather than the way it is–the way God created it.  Hence we have the prosperity gospel, universalism, positive thinking books and teaching. “We show our acceptance of the Gospel when we behave in ways that show our acceptance of God’s ordering of the universe.”
  4. The New Provincialism.  CS Lewis:  “We are more advanced, more progressive, smarter, more highly developed than those who came before us.” Disconnected from the past, we are left in denial of the incarnation and resurrection, or with belief in continuing revelation as found in cults.  We are surrounded with “chronological idiots” who aware only of current celebrity affairs rather than significant historical figures who have actually achieved something.  The emphasis on new, hip and relevant is a form of unintentional new provincialism.
  5. The Great Stereopticon.  Are media morally neutral? Does the medium affect the message?  Surprisingly, there is a good argument that media are not culturally or morally neutral.  The written word requires abstract thinking.  “The medium IS the message”–Marshall Mcluhan.   Does God have a preferred medium?

The Evangelical Future: Prescription

  • Recovery of the “Natural Family”
  • Recovery of community and a properly operating church
  • Recovery of vocation–we need to lose this modern concept of extended or permanent adolescence for young people
  • Recovery of widow and orphan care

Purchase the book A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church

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