Why the Church Can Do Without Spiritual Entrepreneurs
Church gurus bring glory to themselves by bringing the world into the church. As experts in marketing the church as a product or service, they are like the Athenians looking for the newest innovation (Acts 17).
The beauty of simple church is the adherence to the regulative principle. This principle employs the Scriptures alone, as a guide for worship and service in the Christian life. What the church was and did in the Bible is what the church should do, today.
The Bible also reveals the means of grace that are utilized in the gathering of God’s elect into the church. The same means are used for the edification of the saints, who spiritually mature by the Spirit and the Word of God, the Bible. The tool of our education is the very instrument of our sanctification.
The epitome of unbelief is “spiritual entrepreneurs” innovating new schemes to manipulate people. Without innovation, the church has relied on the Holy Spirit for thousands of years, and not one of Christ’s sheep was lost in the Old Testament or New Testament age (Jn 10:28–29; Rom 8:35–39). Heretics and cults have always wanted to try something new, something not biblical.
The biblical scheme is simple. The saints gather regularly to hear the teaching of the prophets and apostles (Bible). They celebrate baptisms and the Lord’s Supper. They sing and pray the Word of God in the Spirit. They share meals and possessions; and by their love for one another, others know them and are inclined to ask about the hope within them.
The reason the Holy Spirit’s one hundred percent success rate, in finding and regenerating the lost sheep of the house of Israel (the elect church), is not acceptable to spiritual entrepreneurs is that the church is not numerically big enough for them. Church gurus and church marketing experts, rooted in the cult of church growth, look at the outward appearance of the church. They are never content with the work of the Spirit, who has always accomplished the will of God, as it pertains to the bride of Christ.
Forsaking the means of grace, God’s ordained way to grow His church numerically and spiritually, self-ordained church leaders scour corporate America to discover which marketing techniques will fill the event and entertainment centers with bodies. In their estimation, “bigger” means “healthy.” One guru recently spoke of “leveraging Christmas” to get bigger numbers.
Christmas has apparently become the biggest marketing scheme of the year for the church. It clearly sells better than Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (or as it is known by its commercial term: Easter).
In writing against these philosophies and schemes of men, I do not wish to deny their objective, nor their success in reaching their goals. The world knows how to attract a big crowd, and taking from the world, the church should experience similar results from the means employed. “What is your church’s marketing budget this Christmas?” reads like an untenable question for the church we learn about in the Acts of the Apostles.
I also do not wish to give the impression that there is no theology behind the imported entrepreneurial schemes from the world. The theological heresy that drives the quest for filled event centers is clearly man-centered (God has never been so popular with rebels at enmity with Him!). Therefore, it has a wide appeal with the people of the world.
A while back, the hard rock band “Metallica” visited Spokane, Washington, and played to their largest crowd ever: 13,000+ people. That is the number of most mid-sized mega churches in America. These churches are putting on a show at least once, but in some cases multiple times a week. Is it possible the church puts on a better show than other performers? You better believe it!
What does all of this big business and entertainment in the church have to do with God’s salvation of His elect people from every nation, tribe, and tongue? Nothing. The church has pressed on throughout history using the same means as the church in Acts. Paul wrote Timothy, “Preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2)!”
The vanity fair of spotlights, fog machines, jumbo trons, food trucks, gymnasiums, coffee houses, and sports leagues inside the church has kept sheep and goats occupied. Social media marketing of one’s church or charismatic leader only entices Christians to leave their local church for the regional mega center because they are offering a better show. They can also give the people what they want in terms of convenience, entertainment, people watching, and another episode of Dr. Phil from the “communicator (formerly known as preacher).” This is coupled with the pride of belonging to the big deal in town. Got your mega-church-marketing yard sign, yet?
“Spiritual entrepreneurs” is only another way of saying, “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” The deluding influence of these detractors and their distractions (just say “no” to the Christmas-time photo booth in the narthex) can only mislead people into thinking their legion of activities are acceptable to God.
My prayer for you is that your local church has only one service, where your church family can worship together, at the same time, under the same roof. May that roof be small, and may your worship be gimmick-free from the wiles of the spiritual entrepreneur.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 23, 2022