Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MIX (10/22/15)
TITLE: How's the Flavor?
By Kate Oliver Webb
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Church leaders research demographics, presentation styles, musical genres and technology, and even racial cultures, in an attempt to attract the “un-churched.” They may take years trying to achieve the perfect “blend” that clicks with greatest number of people and cultures and religions, and then attempt to mix all that with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Is it working?
Let’s look at this example. In cooking, there is a distinct difference between “mixing” (which is a fairly vigorous process) and “blending” (a gentle but much more thorough approach). To mix is to combine elements which, after their combination, more or less retain their individuality, such as salad ingredients. To blend is to mix more intimately so that the components lose their original definition; it implies that the original elements’ flavors disappear in the mixture that results.
So, what is the Church to do if she wants the gospel of Jesus Christ to remain relevant and attractive in a generation of turbo-charged advances in technology and thought, and cultures collide and struggle for dominance? Can the message of Jesus be mixed with advancing technologies, blended cultures, and modern critical thinking?
That depends on the goal of the Church.
Individual congregations may have the simple goal, though unstated, of becoming “relevant” to those people it wishes to attract. If that’s what they want, there are certainly ways to achieve it: researching those exciting (or dull, depending on your perspective) demographics, implementing a dynamic marketing program, and providing current music and entertainment modules to satisfy Hollywood-created cravings. If the message of Jesus as Savior is included in the mix, what’s the harm?
The harm is that the result is more of a “blend” than a “mix.” Losing the central theme of faith in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, for salvation is to lose the core of Christianity. Or, to put it in cooking terms, the original “flavor” of Jesus Himself may be lost.
Jesus’ ministry had a “mix” going on. There were, of course, those in Jesus’ time who followed after Him in throngs because they heard He cured sick people and fed the hungry. Even if those who followed weren’t themselves needing anything from Him, it was good to see the show!
But never did Jesus “blend” His message: “I am the way,” He said. And “If I be lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”
The cry of many pastors’ hearts is, indeed, to get that message to those who need Christ. Yet, those they want to reach seem to ignore that message—unless it is wrapped in strobe lights and pounding rhythms and amplified presentations.
And while the search for relevance continues—the chasing after one program or attraction or thrill or another—Jesus continues to say, through His Holy Spirit, “I AM THE WAY.”
Consider that, and compare the thought here with the Church’s current worship trends: “Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with obedience], who delights greatly in His commandments.” (Ps. 112:1, AMP).
Can we use modern music (instead of centuries-old and time-honored hymns and gospel songs) accompanied by multi-instrumental bands and drum-beats? Of course.
Should the gospel of Jesus Christ be presented via computer-driven technological shows, headline speakers and emotion-producing entertainment for the sake of "relevance?"
If this produces a “blend,” no, probably not.
But a “mix?” I think Jesus would be okay with that.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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