OT just chillin' out in the cow costume... Mr. GQ!
Jen and the kids - too cute!
EG in 2004 at Halloween soon after her first birthday. Recognize the cow costume? :)
The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity, with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, the size of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.Time and again throughout church history, you can find pastors and teachers cautioning the emphasis on gimmicks to increase the church's membership roll. From Pink to MacArthur. One of the other issues that Spencer sees is: "The demise of quality Biblical preaching at the hands of technology and entertainment." This is something that I really find fascinating, and it seems to me that the focus on "pragmatic entrepreneurialism" in doing new things may be causing a demise in the exposition of the Scriptures.
This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.
A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error.
Similarly, the passion to reach unreached populations is entirely laudable and urgent. The sad reality is that many of our established evangelical churches seem determined to reach only people who look like themselves -- if they are committed to reach anyone at all. The danger on the other side is that many of these newly-planted churches begin to look like their founders and first members. A church of tattooed twenty-somethings in New York can be just as lacking in diversity as the aging middle class congregation at First Church....Dr. Mohler is spot-on. The Church needs to work together more than we currently do. At the same time, there needs to be a re-evaluation of what is going to define "evangelicalism" (as in orthodox Christianity). This is my heartfelt effort at a call for Reformation. We, as Christ-followers, should be sensitive to the focus of our core mission - to "make disciples".
The energy and commitment evident in the church planting movement should encourage all who long to see a new wave of evangelism throughout North America. But this movement must be driven by a robust New Testament ecclesiology and must be undergirded by an eager embrace of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. This movement must complement -- not castigate -- existing churches. Each needs the other, and both can learn from each other.