Adult Bible B.L.A.S.T Week Seven “The Church” cont. -11/26/17

11/26/17

  1. Other Movements

During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries we have seen a large growth in movement-based Christianity. The popularity of ecumenism in this postmodern environment has led many to cross denominational boundaries and establish trans-denominational movements that are very popular.

  1. Evangelicalism:

Question: What do you know about Evangelicalism?

The Evangelical movement began in the 1700’s with the belief that promoting the Gospel (or to evangelize) is the highest priority of the church. It was shared by many denominations.

  • Wesleyanism, Baptists, some Calvinists, and some Anglicans initially took part. The movement has continued to the present day.
  • The Evangelical movement is based mostly on a “faith only” belief system, with most believing in some form of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine.
  • Evangelicals tend to be dispensational/premillennial in eschatology,
  • and at different times have been a strong force in conservative politics.

 

Question: What are some of the names for the political aspect of Evangelicalism?

  • Moral Majority, Christian/Religious Right, Tea-Party, socially conservative evangelicals, Christian Coalition,
  1. Fundamentalism:

Question: What do you know about Fundamentalism?

Fundamentalism is a movement within Evangelicalism that began in the late 1800’s as a reaction to the “liberal” tendencies in many Protestant denominations that undermined confidence in the inspiration of the Bible.

  • Literal Interpretation of the Bible: According to “Understanding Christian Fundamentalism,” the most crucial aspect of fundamentalist Christian beliefs is that all of the words in the Bible, preferably the King James Version, are to be taken literally.
  • One Way to Heaven: ‘The Thoughtful Christian’ explained the fundamentalist perspective of the satisfaction theory of atonement. Upon birth, all of humanity is sinful in nature and deserves death as a punishment.  However, our sins were atoned when Jesus paid the price by dying on the cross. Accepting Him as your Savior and Lord is necessary for salvation.
  • Bodily Resurrection: Refers to the belief that Jesus’ resurrection involved His physical body, as well as His spirit. According to ‘The Thoughtful Christian’, a Fundamentalist believes that everyone who has been saved will also experience a physical resurrection of the body, not just of the spirit.
  • The Nation of Israel: Israel is God’s chosen nation and will play a key role in the end of human history.
  1. Ecumenism:

Question: What do you know about Ecumenism / Ecumenical Movement?

The ecumenical movement was first organized in 1910 at the International Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • The movement attempts to unify divergent Christian denominations by emphasizing shared beliefs while minimizing differences. (Some would say a watering down of doctrine till they mean almost nothing in order to ‘get along’.)
  • The movement is best manifest in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches, organizations devoted to inter-denominational dialogue and action.
  • As postmodernism and relativism have grown in popularity in the past fifty years, more and more denominations are becoming a part of the ecumenical movement.
  1. Community Church Movement:

Question: What do you know about the Community Church Movement?

This is more than just churches that have ‘Community’ in their name. Community churches are first seen explicitly in the 1920s, although financial necessity may have compelled various members of denominations in small villages to meet together in times past.

  • The Community Church movement is a consequence of the evangelical and ecumenical movements: if denominational boundaries are not going to be considered important anymore, the impetus is there to have an organization without any such denominational affiliation, and therefore we have community churches.
  • While community churches profess having no denomination, the doctrines of denominations, particularly those present within the Evangelical movement, abound.
  1. House Church Movement:

Question: What do you know about the House Church Movement?

In the latter part of the 1900’s there has been a movement to rid churches of traditionalism, and many such persons have established “house churches”. Often they left the established denominations to form independent house churches.

The thousands of house churches around the world vary widely in origin and purpose.

  • In England three main branches have originated independently of each other as offshoots of established denominations. They have no central organization and want to be known simply as local churches. Yet each ‘chain’ of house churches has a distinctive character.
  • In the United States a similar movement has been nurtured by the charismatic renewal. Their rapid growth is due also to winning new converts from non-religious backgrounds.
  • China, as the government outlawed Christianity and confiscated buildings. These churches are completely indigenous, unconnected with any outside organizations. They are fully self-governing, and self-supporting Membership is in the millions.

With no accountability outside the house church, it’s easy for false doctrine to find a way in.

  1. Megachurch Movement:

Question: What do you know about the Megachurch Movement?

While there have always been many large churches, beginning in the 1950s but finding its stride in the 1990’s , we began to see  very large churches with many thousands of attenders, now called “megachurches”. Here is a broad view:

  • About half of the megachurches are not affiliated with a particular denomination.
  • Many megachurches are ‘personality’ drive, That means they develop from the personalities of popular preachers.
  • Megachurches tend to emphasize services heavily influenced by modern forms of entertainment and focus on developing spirituality through small groups.
  • Megachurches are also known for their large buildings, support groups, coffeehouses, bookstores, and demographic marketing techniques.

Many/most churches in this movement adopt a new paradigm for ‘doing church’: Market Sensitive:

  • They focus on attracting the nonchurched people to ‘seeker-sensitive’ worship services.
  • They are laid back, well planned and executed services that highlight excellence / professionalism in all they do. Often employing professional musicians.
  • They encourage the attenders to go out into the community and keep in touch with their target demographic.

This later became known as ‘The Church Growth Movement’ and was also called the “Attractive Church Model”, which was set forth by Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose-Driven Church”.  In this model, programs (such as daycare, sports programs, classes, and contemporary music and worship) are created which attract people from the community to the church.

The main components of the Church Growth Movement:

  • Choosing a specific demographic
  • Finding the unfulfilled wants and needs in that demographic.
  • Measure the intensity of those needs and desires.
  • Choosing which they want to meet, they develop programs that will meet those unfulfilled wants and needs.
  • Generally speaking, the main force of outreach was centered in the Suburbs rather than the urban areas.
  • Their idea is a church cannot stand apart from society, it cannot invite them to come to them on the church’s terms. They must go to the people, address their needs and speak their language.
  • Small group/cell group/life group/house churches are a huge part of this model… and have been adopted by many other churches even not in that model.

Willow Creek Church in S. Barrington, ILL. Became the place to be and started what was called the Willow Creek Association. Their purpose was to teach a Church how to be ‘Seeker-Sensitive’ and to provide them with resources, once they paid a yearly fee to join the association.

  • Sunday worship was for the nonchurches, the unbeliever, the ‘seeker’.
  • There was the removal of most or all religious symbols from the worship center.
  • There was an encouragement of ‘dress down’ casual attire.
  • Coffee pots in the lobby with cup holders in movie theater style seats.
  • Concert grade lighting and staging. Professional worship teams, ‘light’ non threatening messages, contemporary, often loud, singing. (Singing became more the work of the worship team rather than the congregation.)
  • Hymns were usually not done unless they were ‘rearranged’ for a contemporary audience.
  • Demographics wis the key. Reaching out primarily to a certain demographic/slice of society: wealthy or 18-29, Gen-X’ers, Millennial …

Question: What might be a problem with a church trying to reach a specific demographic?

  • It makes a ‘cradle to the grave’ paradigm a thing of the past.

Seeker sensitive evangelistic approach is built on the premise that the Christians in the church are inviting their non-Christian friends to a Sunday service where they hear the Gospel and get saved.  And the mega church has arrived!

But there are many documented shortcomings  of this model of ‘doing church.’

  • Much of the growth in the mega churches, researchers have found, is from transfers from other churches. Christians from smaller churches leave and attend the trendy larger church where they feel good each week after they leave.
  • The movement tends to be “only about numbers” and “success” oriented.
  • It makes the audience (people) sovereign, with the attitude that the ‘customer is always right.’ Or the Burger King motto… You can have it your way.’
  • We cannot communicate the Gospel as if the people were customers, but we address them as fellow sinners, confessing together that we have only one answer to our common need… forgiveness.
  • When the needs of the individual is the priority, the fear is, and the reality in many cases, the message gets edited, watered down so as not to offend and cause the people to leave.

Willow Creek Community Church recently conducted a major survey that revealed that heavy involvement into programs and activities did not necessarily translate into discipleship. Later, in a Christianity Today article, founding Pastor Bill Hybals  admitted that they made a mistake with the ‘seeker-sensitive ‘ model.

  • Basically he said that spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships.
  • And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

 

Categories: Adult Sunday School Class, The Church & Denominations