The No Goofy Zone Discernment Ministry

The No Goofy Zone is a discernment ministry for saved born again Christians and all who are seeking the truth.We expose non-biblical trends in the church. We are making material available to advance understanding of issue's which endanger Christianity. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit.

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Location: Piqua, Ohio, United States

Former drummer for Gary Lewis and The Playboys and The Coasters. Tim has also played with Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster, Darlene Zscech and Hillsongs, Jeff Fenholt, SteveCamp among others. Tim founded The Simply Agape Project in 2001 to get free Christian music to the troops. Recordings have been made with Tim, and friends Alex Acuna, Abe Laboriel SR, Justo Almario,Steve Camp , Jared Ming and some wonderful Independant Christian artists.The Somebody Brave CD also features words of encouragment to the soldiers from Pastors, Moms, Dads, and Lt Col Brian Birdwell a Pentegon 9/11 survivor Tim is married to Donna Wirth and has four children Alan 25,Steven 23, Brittany 22, Bethany 21. Tim has played in numerous churchs as well as shows on TBN. Tim has also performed on JCTV on the show Generation Worship featuring worship leader Jared Ming. Tim has a book published worldwide titled "Pass The Plate And Let Us Prey" (My Search For Black and White Christianity in a Gray Nation)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Marketing of America's Churches

Another fine article concerning seeker sensitive. Tim

THE NOBLE BEREAN: Volume Three July-September 2005
“Church Inc. ” – The Marketing of America’s Churches.
By Michael C. Gaudiosi - The Noble Berean

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT Have you ever heard the phrase “If you build it they will come?” This is a saying that has been around a while. Sadly, it has now found its way into the Church. What is going on in the post-modern church today? It appears that the Church in America has taken the “you can draw more flies with honey than with vinegar” approach to doing church. In this case, the vinegar would be sound preaching of the Gospel and careful exposition and study of the Scriptures. So, what would be the honey that attracts the flies? What is being touted out there as a means to draw more sinners, or should I say, the un-churched, into the Church? Is it the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or a new twenty first century way of thinking with fresh ideas and new trends to attract the masses? Whatever the modern methodology is, the question must still be asked, “what does the Scripture say?” Remember 1 Thessalonians 5:21 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. This is something I would like to address in this newsletter.

I will start off with the Scripture that I will base this writing on. 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Keep this thought in mind as you go through this newsletter: this Scripture states very clearly that the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness to them that are unsaved. They hate it! It is something they do not want to hear! It goes on to say that for believers, it is the power of God! Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. It is very clear and evident from the Word of God that there is POWER in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The Church knows this! The unsaved world does not. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 it says - In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. So if the Church knows and believes that there is power in the cross of Jesus Christ, why does she resort to marketing methods to attract and to bring in the unsaved?

What method has God given us to use to bring the Gospel to the world? 1 Corinthians 1: 21 says - For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. God is pleased to have the method of preaching! This is not saying that preaching is foolish, what it is saying is that even though the world believes that preaching is foolishness, it is what pleased God for believers to use to win the lost! This is what the Church is to do, but unfortunately, not only the world thinks that preaching is foolishness, so does most of post-modern Christianity today! Most people think that preaching means to shout, or to scream and yell at somebody, so it is looked at as a bad thing. But in the Greek, the word is euangelizo, which means, with reference to the Gospel, the phrase "to bring, or declare, good, or glad, tidings". So preaching is not a negative thing, yet most churches believe that we will scare people off if we preach to them, so the mentality is preaching is ineffective so we must “change” our way of doing “Church”.

I have heard people say time and time again that we must use the tools that God is given us to win the lost. They would tell me “if Jesus had the technology that we have today, he would have used it, He would make movies, use drama skits and entertainment”. If you take a look at Scripture, you see that Jesus did not use the worldly methods of the first century, but rather when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4, He continually started his battle with the enemy with the words…”it is written”! He always went to the Scripture! In Matthew 4:4 it states - But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Notice it says EVERY WORD!!

Now you may be thinking, didn’t Jesus use parables when he spoke to the people so that they could understand what He was saying? The answer to that would be yes and no. Yes, He did speak to people using parables, but no, it was not for the people to understand, it was so they would NOT understand. When His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the people in parables he replied in Matthew 13:13-14 - Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. But why would He not want the people to hear and to understand? Verse 15 answers this - For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. It is because even though the people had eyes and ears, their hearts were hard and would not accept and believe in Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus then goes on in verse 18 and tells His disciples the meaning of the parable. He did this not with illustrations, or with a drama skit or any means of visual aids, but instead He did it though preaching. He spoke plainly to His disciples through the use of words. God has always conveyed Himself through words, not pictures or any means of worldly influence. Romans 10:13 says - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. So the question here is, how does one come to the place where they would call upon the Name of the Lord? Verse 14 asks the very same question - How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? How would the modern day church in America answer these questions? Some would say, “we need to go out and take a survey”, others would say, “we need to try and meet their felt-needs”. Still others would go as far as to say “we need to change the old worn out traditional methods and pattern our church where people are comfortable and will feel good about themselves”.

The more important question, one that is most likely not to be asked, is how does the Scripture respond? The answer is quite plain and simple. Romans 10:17 - So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. This requires preaching! But as I stated before 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Now most believers would agree that preaching the Word of God is important, but what they would not agree with is that preaching the Word is ALL YOU NEED TO DO! No need for gimmicks, games, carnivals, entertainment…etc to try and attract people. It is God who attracts people to Himself. John 6:44 - No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Scripture is the ONLY tool you’ll ever need to go out into the world and teach all nations. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Take note that this says ALL GOOD WORKS, but that simply is not enough for most churches, so what do they try to do to fill in the gaps? Let’s take a look.

The largest church in America today is Lakewood Church located in Houston TX with an attendance, at this writing, of approximately 60,000. What makes this church so popular? Is it the sound preaching of the Gospel calling all sinners to true repentance and conversion? That’s not how pastor Joel Osteen sees it, he claims "God has a great future in store for you." Well, that sounds good on the surface, but the only future awaiting unrepentant sinners is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. However, that’s not what pastor Osteen tells people. There’s no warnings of impending doom that awaits sinners, just promises of having “Your Best Life Now”. Jesus stated in John 10:10 - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The abundant life Jesus is talking about here is eternal life in His kingdom, not the temporal life here on earth, which is fleeting. That is the kind of life Osteen refers to.

If Joel Osteen preached only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which some refer to as “fire and brimstone” or “turn or burn”, then his numbers would drop considerably, and he knows that. Instead Lakewood Church keeps them coming back with promises of meeting the “felt-needs” of the unsaved. Lakewood offers free financial counseling, low-cost bulk food, even a "fidelity group" for men with "sexual addictions." The demand for these types of self-help programs is ever on the rise. Of course there is a demand! Remember 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. If preaching of the cross was the only thing Lakewood Church offered, this would certainly NOT be in demand, as it does not meet the physical or emotional needs of the unsaved sinner, rather it addresses the lost condition of their eternal souls. Remember I mentioned that it is not by any worldly influence or means that sinners are attracted, but through the preaching of the cross that the gentle touch of the Holy Spirit leads people to Jesus.

What’s even more alarming is even the world notices the trend in the Church. The following is taken from an article from Business Week Online called “Earthly Empires” by William C. Symonds, Brian Grow and John Cady. “To reach these untapped masses, savvy leaders are creating Sunday Schools that look like Disney World and church cafés with the appeal of Starbucks. Although most hold strict religious views, they scrap staid hymns in favor of multimedia worship and tailor a panoply of services to meet all kinds of consumer needs, from divorce counseling to help for parents of autistic kids. Like Osteen, many offer an upbeat message intertwined with a religious one. To make newcomers feel at home, some do away with standard religious symbolism -- even basics like crosses and pews -- and design churches to look more like modern entertainment halls than traditional places of worship.” In these churches, unbelievers are not sinners, but consumers.

If you draw unsaved sinners into your church using the methods mentioned in that article, then the question must be asked: where does truth come in? Where are these people grounded? I had a youth leader tell me that he can go out with his sound system and big yellow truck and put on a hip-hop and rock show and he would attract more youths than I would if I just took my Bible and preached the Gospel to them. There’s no argument there, because he is right! I would have much fewer numbers than he would, but then the question is: what do you do once you get them in? He replied that would be the time to preach to them. As I mentioned before, the world hates the preaching of the Gospel, again I refer to 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Christ is an offence to them, 1 Peter 2:8 - And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. So the idea here is to attract the unsaved youth with the worldly things they already like so that we can get them into the Church to try to get them to like something they already hate.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not against any program that truly helps people. The problem I have here is that many churches in America today are using man-centered programs that are in addition to, or instead of, the Gospel to try and bring in the lost. If I attract people using amenities then once I get them in, then they are going to want more! Once you stop the amenities and start preaching, then you’ll lose people for sure. This very thing occurred in the Scriptures. In John 6:26 Jesus told his “disciples” - Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. These people only came after Jesus to get more food to fill their bellies, not to truly follow Him. Once Jesus started to preach about the cross, that’s when the people had second thoughts about following Him. In John 6:53 - Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. This is the real food and drink that they really needed. What was the people’s reply? Look in John 6:60 - Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? This is NOT what they wanted to hear. They only wanted more of the amenities, more bread to eat to fill their stomachs, but not the real food that Jesus provided to truly satisfy the soul.

In verse 61 it says - When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? Jesus did not tiptoe through the tulips with these people. John 6:64 - But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. Think about it, that this kind of sermon be preached from Americas pulpits today! There would be scores of people offended and leaving churches in droves. This is exactly what happened to Jesus. John 6:66 - From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. As a result of the preaching of the cross, these so-called disciples deserted Jesus. This chapter of John, chapter 6 started with 5000 disciples following Jesus and it ended with only 12. When Jesus asked the 12 if they would leave as well, Peter wisely answered in John 6:68 - Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. Notice Peter said Jesus has the WORDS of eternal life, not the pictures!


Dwight L. Moody once said: "When I was at work for the City of Relief society before the fire, I used to go to a poor sinner with the Bible in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other...My idea was that I could open a poor man's heart by giving him a load of wood or a ton of coal when the winter was coming on, but I soon found out that he wasn't any more interested in the Gospel on that account. Instead of thinking how he could come to Christ, he was thinking how long it would be before he got the load of wood. If I had the Bible in one hand and a loaf in the other the people always looked first at the loaf." This demonstrates what I have been saying all along. If you try to win the lost by first attracting them with something other than the Gospel, then you run the risk of people only showing a superficial interest in Christ only to get to the thing that attracted them in the first place.

Faith Church, a fast growing church here in Connecticut boasts a 120 seat movie theater, a coffee, cappuccino and ice cream bar called “Sunbucks” named of course for Jesus, the Son of God. The Fun Zone, which features video games, pool and ping-pong tables, television studios, a bookstore and offices. The idea here is people should be comfortable coming to church and that sermons have a meaning to their lives. Now again, I am not against having fun, but these amenities are offered for one purpose, to draw the lost into church and give them a sermon that makes them feel good about themselves. As one churchgoer puts it “there are a lot of great opportunities for people who have not yet been saved, they are looking for a church home and to develop fellowship”. What are the “great opportunities” for the unsaved sinner in this church? I do hope it is the opportunity for salvation through the preaching of repentance by the cross of Jesus Christ and His shed blood, because that is the only opportunity a church should offer the unsaved sinner. As far as the lost looking for a church home and fellowship the Scriptures are clear. In Romans 3:10 it says - There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. And besides, there is no true fellowship with believers and non-believers. 2 Corinthians 6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

The pastor of Faith Church, Frank Santora states, “We’re what I call a purpose driven church that exists to serve the community. The facility is designed for what people enjoy doing”. Sounds good, but instead of being “purpose driven” I would rather be Spirit-led! What is offered here, and many other churches in America, is a place where people can be comfortable, and have positive messages that make them feel good about themselves, while sipping on a cappuccino, and maybe catching a movie if they’d like. I’m not against big churches, take a look at the church in Scripture, Acts 2:41-42 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 3000 people were saved on the day of Pentecost, but notice the foundation of their unity. It was first that they remained steadfast in the doctrine of the Apostles. Their doctrine was the preaching of the Gospel, repentance of sin through the cross of Jesus Christ, not a “purpose-driven” feel good message!

You may be thinking that preaching mankind is condemned in their sin is a very unloving and uncompassionate way of reaching the unsaved world. Robert Schuller would tend to agree. In a 10/5/84 letter to Christianity Today, Schuller wrote, "I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and hence counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition". Romans 1:18 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Also in Romans 3:20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

There is nothing more compassionate than to warn people of the fact they are sinners who will stand condemned before a Just and Holy God unless they repent and turn to Jesus Christ as Messiah! Christianity in America today seems to be getting more popular, but in other parts of the world that is not the case. From AsiaNews they report in regards to Christians in Saudi Arabia: “On January 28, 2002, International Christian Concern received a letter from three Ethiopian Christians describing the terrible violence and torture they were endured in Jeddah’s Bremen Prison. At that point in time, the three men had spent six months in jail; their crime: being Christian”. “Christianity is especially marked for repression. Local sources told AsiaNews that many Christians are in Saudi prisons for religious reasons.” This only scratches the surface. It is truly sad to see that Christians in other parts of the world are tortured and put in prison for their faith and here in America we’re sipping cappuccino and listening to feel-good sermons in church! The question is, are these believers in Saudi Arabia doing something wrong and America is doing something right? Or is it the other way around? Ask yourself this, when this kind of persecution comes to America, will you be able to stand?

The preaching of the Gospel cannot take a back seat! It must first be presented to the lost sinner. Think about the parable of the seed and the sower in Matthew 13. Jesus talked about seeds that were sown in certain places. Some fell on the wayside, this represents those who hear the Word but do not understand, then Satan comes and steals what was sown in the heart. The seeds that feel upon the rocky place represent those who hear the Word and receive it with joy (like those at most alter calls). They have no root and when trouble comes, they fall away.

Then there are the seeds that fall upon the thorns. This represents those who hear the Word, but the cares of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth overtake them, so the Word is choked and there is no fruit. However the seeds that fell into good soil represent those who hear the Word, understand it and bear much fruit. They are the ones grounded in truth! They stand upon Gods Word and no matter the opposition, and will defend the Faith and the truth of the Holy Scriptures! They remain faithful to the things of the Lord and become mature disciples who continue to go and fulfill the Great Commission! This is the purpose of the Church. This is what every believer must be doing. We are not to try to win the lost through means of their flesh by entertainment, carnivals, games…etc. Remember 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

We all know the story of Jonah and the great fish. In Jonah 1:1 it says - Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying…Note it says the word of the Lord came to Jonah SAYING! What did God ask Jonah to do? In verse 2 it says - Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. He told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to them God’s word so that they would repent! As we all know Jonah fled from God and wound up in the belly of a great fish. However in Chapter 3 of Jonah, verse 1 - And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying…there it is again, the word of the Lord to Jonah…SAYING! Look in verse 2 - Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

Again God spoke to Jonah to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh. God wanted Jonah to warn them of the impending doom that awaited them if they did not turn from their wickedness. How loving and compassionate is our God! What did the inhabitants of the city do? Did they put up posters advertising “Jonah, appearing for 2 days here in Nineveh…bring all your family and friends for a good time and great Christian music and entertainment”. Of course not! In those times whenever a prophet of God came to town, the people were always afraid. Jonah did not try to draw attention with clowns and face painting or any kind of gimmick. He simply preached the word of the Lord and the entire city from the king all the way down mourned their sins and repented and were converted. Jonah had no need for carnivals or door prizes.

Now, you may tell me, Mike with your method of just preaching the Word of God, you'll never get anyone to come and listen to you. Well, my response may sound unloving, but that does not matter to me. What matters is that I obey the Scriptures and tell the unsaved sinner the only hope they have to escape eternal death and hell is through the cross of Jesus Christ! If they don't receive the message, I just do as Jesus told His disciples and shake the dust of that town off my feet and move on. I trust the Lord to lead me to those who have an ear to hear.

The Gospel is not a popular message, and true, I will not draw in the crowds. I would rather the Holy Spirit stir the hearts of people to repentance. As Jesus stated in John 16:8-11 in regards to the Holy Spirit - And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. No, not a popular message, but rather an offensive and confrontational one. Remember 1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The whole point of this newsletter is that you could have all the fun and church growth you want, but where the Gospel is not preached, and people are not warned of the everlasting separation from God in hell, lest they repent, it is fruitless. I’ll finish this with the words of the Apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 9:16 - For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! Woe unto us if WE preach not the Gospel! Search the Scriptures for yourself!

SOLA SCRIPTURA! The Scripture ALONE! May the Lord bless you!

If you would like to respond please send your comments to:

Copy write 2005 The Noble Berean. This may be used in its entirety for non-commercial personal use. Any changes/edits are not permitted without the express permission of The Noble Berean


Blogger Kurt said...

Tim, I read this article from The Noble Berean shortly after I left Faith Church.

What was interesting was that Pastor Frank Santora had been covering up the fact the church was following Rick Warren's book. No one still really understands what the PDC is completely about. A few people have the book, which I purchased for them, so they could understand what is happening too.

I had written a letter to him stating that I could not be in fellowship there if they were following this book, which I found to contradict the Bible severely.

Particularly that Rick Warren admits to uses a felt-need approach to his sermons, as a marketing tool, to attract people into coming to his church (p. 295, TPDC).

I questioned him in my letter, "Shouldn't people be attracted to the Divine power of the Bible than a dynamic sermon title? Wouldn't a felt need sermon and service contradict Gal 6:8, John 12:32 and 1 Th 2:4-6?

He chose not to answer the questions.

The whole PDC madness upsets me more and more when I see, hear or read of the absurb things that are done, i.e., marketing tactics, shocking sermon titles and broadway style drama skits, all to draw people for attendance.

There should be no shame or fear for any minister of the Gospel to preach the uncompromised Word of God.

Pastors need to be diligent in prayer, fasting and preaching the whole counsel of God, so that the Word can be profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, in the ears of both saints and sinners.

Be Entertained or Be Edified

8:57 AM  

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