A Fundamentalist Rebuke of Entertaining Evangelism

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : September 9, 2006

Grace Fellowship, a growing suburban church that has been a tremendous supporter of Missio Dei draws fire from this post on “Slice of Laodicea”. It is the anti-seeker church critique one would expect from fundamentalist purists. The discussion in the comments is much more noteworthy than the post itself. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I’m actually sympathetic to some of the concerns leveled against the seeker-church movement, I really am. I don’t like the Happy Meal approach to Christianity, where we try to tempt people to “buy” what we’ve got because of some sort of nifty toy inside. I think the Church these days focuses too much on attracting folks to church instead of going out to minister to folks where they’re at. I am not a fan of the seeker movement at all. But I know and love many that are fans of the seeker church. Some of them are pastors in such churches. My critique is ecclesiological. I try to stay civil and keep the argument in the realm of ideas. I never fall into the foolish error that somehow my seeker-church friends are some sort of sub-Christian human beings, or that their churches aren’t worthy of existance. In other words, I have concerns about the seeker movement, but I still think of it as an in-house issue that deserves gracious debate. And the best way to combat what I see wrong with the seeker church is to try to build with my friends, by the power of the Spirit, the sort of counter-cultural church that I believe honors God.

Why is it that Christian folks can’t be civil when they disagree? No matter how profound the disagreement, I don’t see what purpose is served by getting nasty. Why on earth would someone feel it is justified to attack motives, judge hearts, or decide that an entire church should cease to exist because they aren’t 100% in all that they do? Sarcasm has a place, perhaps. But when does sarcasm like the sort found in the post in question’s comments really demonstrate the love of Christ?

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8 Responses to “A Fundamentalist Rebuke of Entertaining Evangelism”

  1. Surly Dave on September 9th, 2006 6:14 pm

    Whoa. This gal is just bitter. I got some flack from people like this over a post regarding the treatment of people who have left the Church. They just nit pick at every aspect of your beliefs, then make personal attacks.

  2. fernando on September 10th, 2006 5:02 am

    This sort of thing has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m just not sure how to best address these patterns of “debate.” Often there is a closed loop thing in play, so if we try to converse, if just confirms the negative claims.

  3. Brother Tadhg on September 10th, 2006 2:42 pm

    I think those that carry over that anger would do well to read something I cam across recently. A great story:

    ‘I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump.

    I ran over and said: ?Stop. Don’t do it.?
    ?Why shouldn’t I?? he asked.

    ?Well, there’s so much to live for!?
    ?Like what??

    ?Are you religious??
    He said, ?Yes.?

    I said, ?Me too.? Are you Christian or Buddhist??

    ?Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant??

    ?Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist??

    ?Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord??
    ?Baptist Church of God.?

    ?Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God??
    ?Reformed Baptist Church of God.?

    ?Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915??
    He said: ?Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.?

    ?Die, heretic scum,? I said as I pushed him off the bridge’.

    Yours, Brother Tadhg

  4. Van S on September 10th, 2006 4:02 pm


  5. fargo john on September 10th, 2006 5:42 pm

    i’ve been struggling with the idea of ‘entertaining evangelism’ and similar ideas lately as i continue to figure out my ever changing role in the kingdom. i do fear that we(i) are(am) busier growing my church than we are introducing people to Christ and growing His kingdom. i have a strong feelings against event evangelism (harvest events) and i really vibed with one of the comments that urged people to question what they as individuals are doing to spread the gospel. isn’t evangelism something that should occur throughout the week? not just on sunday morning or at a friday/saturday night event? …just some thoughts from the excommunicated one.

    by the way, how is intervarsity?

  6. Jeff on September 12th, 2006 5:44 am

    Mark, thanks for sharing this entertaining, but sad post. I really don’t have any tolerance for such pathetic debates anymore. Interestingly, we have both “Ingrids” and “Graces” in our small little church. It makes doing any sort of outreach a “war.”

  7. JVD on September 13th, 2006 9:12 am

    That post is sadly the reason people are repelled from Christianity. I have more sympathy for those who will do all things to try and win people to Christ. JVD

  8. Van S on September 13th, 2006 3:02 pm

    fargo john…intervarsity is great. However, my role within intervarsity is in limbo. Fundraising is slow-going. It is hard to force myself to stay on top of that. I have an artist’s temperment; I approach ministry fluidly and ride the waves of inspiration as I do so. Fundraising takes a regimented mind, and it is VERY difficult more me to find the motivation to plug away at it.

    I too struggle with the standard seeker-church approach to evangelism. And I’m all for challenging those approaches. It simply doesn’t help when folks like the ones commenting on the blog in question respond with such bitterness and anger. It isn’t the way brothers and sisters are supposed to talk to other brothers and sisters.

    Jeff…we are due for a cold frosty beverage. When are you gonna be in the cities again?

    JVD…I agree. I think what Grace is doing is perhaps a bit tacky and isn’t at all what I’d do. I even think it has some negative effects. But I can say that and still be respectful and loving. I know Grace Fellowship and can disagree even as I love them. Why is this such a hard idea for some folks to grasp?

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