It would be uncharacteristic of me or any believer to dislike the church; however, at the same time it would be uncharacteristic for any believer to allow her to go out in public looking like a whore. Any such exhortation toward the church at America is born out of charity, not the lack of it.
Imagine this: “This church is sexy! It’s exactly what I want in a church. It’s so much fun. It’s exciting. I really liked the stage, the music, the lights, the snow machine, the confetti cannons, the circus clown, the rock show, the cafe, the bookstore, the girls . . . This church makes me feel great!”
The following is from an audio lecture. I thought that it was worth transcribing and posting here:
(Spiritual) Growth is commanded, and without it we remain children. We fall prey to false prophets. We ought to grow in knowledge. It is a strange thing that our congregations have so many people who are not interested in the Scriptures. It is a strange thing . . . they are not interested in the study of the word, the preaching of the word, or growing in the knowledge of God. The don’t want to bother with doing the hard work of learning about him so they might know him personally.
It’s the result of the shallow teaching that we’ve been given for so many years. It is also the effect of having so much of the world in the church and we’ve gotten just what we’ve deserved. We have modified the church to accommodate to the world. The most difficult people to convert are church members who are unconverted.
True evangelism and apologetic method ought to bother people. “The prophetic preaching was intended to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted.” That is what we are to do every time we preach. I think that if we will approach dealing with things that we know are human needs, rather than felt needs, than we will avoid packaging the Gospel in such a way that it becomes man-centered. In this scenario, the Gospel ceases to address their real needs, but rather desires or wants, and often our needs are not really needs at all.
When Jesus was addressing Martha about her way of serving him, Christ told her, “Few things are necessary. Really, only one.” He did not approach Martha via her felt need. Her felt need was to receive some affirmation for the hard work that she was doing in the kitchen. Jesus took a very different angle on that.
Half of the game in theology (and in life) is not just knowing the right answers—it’s knowing the right questions. If we go with a total felt-need approach, we’ll spend all of our time trying to give the right answers to the wrong questions.
That’s what happens when you come to the Bible and ask all of these questions that we’ve come up with in the last 30 years. You may find “biblical answers” to some of those questions but you may also contort what the Bible says because it is interested in answering different questions. It’s interested in getting those people to be asking different questions.
Harry Blamire (The Christian Mind and Where Do We Stand): The problem of getting caught up in preaching toward cultural relevance: The problem with saying that Christianity is relevant to culture is not overstatement. It is understatement. Christianity is not merely relevant to our culture—it is essential. We should not short-change what is offered there.
. . . We’ve got a lot of spiritual “how to” –ism, and we’ve got to get away from that. We’ve sold the Gospel as the best self-help approach on the market. Jesus is the best self-help tool on the market to make your sex life better, dating life better, finances, marriage, etc.”
. . . Our job is not to make the Gospel relevant—our job is to keep from making the Gospel irrelevant. This shifts the whole way we approach preaching. You stop asking, “I’ve got to figure out how to convince this person that they need this.” Rather, you ask, “How can I strip away this guy’s delusion so that he can take a good, hard look at what he already knows he needs.”
from audio lecture: Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, RTS Jackson in Systematic Theology III, in Soteriology, lecture 9a (14:00—36:30)