I subscribe to a number of blogs including the SBC Voices blog. Every now and then there will be a post that catches my eye and I decide to respond. That happened today and I wanted to share with you readers and get your thoughts. The blog can be found here and this is what I wrote in response:
Let me first say I appreciate what you are saying and you make a very good point. However, as is typical with the popular current trend of finger pointing and criticism, it seems that you have fallen into the trap of getting worked up over someone taking something that was already being done and just doing it bigger and gaining more attention for it than any of the other churches and pastors that have done it before.
This holds true for theology as well as methodology.
How many preachers water down the gospel? We don’t call them out by name but if one becomes successful and writes a book that becomes popular suddenly we jump all over it forgetting the fact that there have been far more preachers doing far more harm preaching the same message for much longer than our current target has been around.
We want to call out bribes? Why? Because suddenly there is a church that is giving big items and grabbing headlines. But what about the previous decades when the church has offered ANYTHING free in order to entice the community to be involved with their programs? That would include youth Pizza parties, Easter egg Hunts, Trunk or Treat, Fall Festival, Sports Leagues, and the list goes on. Where were the bloggers on the soapbox then? In my mind there is NO difference. Free stuff is free stuff no matter how you spin it. These churches just realize that they need to offer stuff people actually WANT. And, do not misunderstand I am not saying it is right or wrong. That is not my point. My point is simple, Where were the bloggers on the soapbox then?
You see the roots of whatever we are criticizing usually go deeper than we like to admit and we get our feathers ruffled when someone takes it further than we would like. Sometimes I wonder, not saying this is the case with you at all by the way, if we try to poke holes because we are jealous in some way. Jealous that we did not have the idea, jealous that we are not privy to the same attention, jealous that we cannot afford to do the same, or even jealous that we did not have the faith to make a similar bold leap.
Ultimately we have to start with the underlying problem rather than dealing with than trying to treat the outcome. If I have a rash that itches and I only deal with it by applying anti-itch cream when it flares up but don’t deal with what is causing the rash then I am really only covering up the problem and not dealing with it directly. Sometimes dealing with it directly hurts and is uncomfortable but until it is addressed it will not go away.
I really feel passionate about this. I grow weary of all the finger pointing and name calling and criticism when there is so much more to be dealt with beneath the surface that no one seems to care about.
UPDATE- Allow me to clarify that I am not accusing this author of finger pointing rather I am referring to a string of bloggers and authors that call out popular pastors of big churches out by name because of their actions without looking critically (in a good sense of the word) at what might have possibly led to the causes of their actions.
Jason, I agree with you about finger-pointing. Where are the blogs that condemn air conditioned church buildings and padded pews? Jesus never invited saint our sinner to those places either. I don’t understand the reasoning that a person’s motive for attending church has to be to worship. What sinner desires to worship? If they show up to win an iPad and leave changed by the power of God, I would say God was pleased. Why should I pretend to know that God did or did not lead the church to give away stuff?
First, if you “grow weary of all the finger pointing,” the answer is not pointing the finger at us to point out our wrong-doing. If you’re really tired of pointing fingers, you shouldn’t have pointed the finger at me, or others like me. If you grow weary of others pointing fingers, then I suggest you grow weary of your own pointing finger… because you are pointing your finger.
Second, could you explain yourself a little more concerning the “underlying problem.” What is the underlying problem?
I am not finger pointing at anyone I am simply trying to expand the conversation to a root cause discussion rather than a personal action discussion. I am not sure where i stand on the issue you wrote about but I am sure that the solution does not stand with big churches ceasing to do big giveaways. Rather there is obviously a culture created long ago that says if we give things to people for free maybe they will come to our church and appreciate our church creating a consumerism mindset and outreach philosophy. If giving a way a car or an ipad is bad then giving away anything should be bad.
Again I am not saying anyone is wrong in their opinion just that the topic is too shallow