Tickets to Heaven: The Errors of Market Based Theology

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 6, 2010

Tickets to Heaven: The Errors of Market Based Theology
Selected Scriptures

Introduction & Review

The importance of having a Biblically based theology cannot be stressed enough. It is the difference between having the truth and following a lie. In our study of 2 Peter the apostle gave strong warning about false teachers and mockers that reject the Scriptures to teach something else. Sometimes what they
teach is in direct conflict with what the Bible says as is the case with those entrapped in religions based in demonic revelations and influence and the eastern mystical religions (See:

Demonic Deception
  and Experts in Enigmas). Sometimes what is taught can be close to what God reveals in His word, yet still be divergent enough to lead people to a false salvation that will result in their eternal condemnation to Hell as in the cults (See: 
Cultic Oppression
:
). Sometimes it is an aberrant theology that while perhaps still true to the core of the gospel message will stray in other areas resulting in confusion about true spirituality and leaving its adherents immature in their walk of faith (See: 
Spiritual Confusion
).

Another danger that can result in either a false salvation or an immature faith is following a religion based in traditions. That commonly happens because people grow up in a particular religious tradition and then just continue in it as they become adults themselves. Jim Zieger spoke about this two weeks ago and used Roman Catholicism as his example because that is the tradition in which he grew up. If I spoke on the issue, I would use examples from my upbringing in Baptist churches. While the traditions I grew up in at least did proclaim salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, and though a high view of Scripture was held proclaiming it as the final authority, yet there were still many traditions that were not really from the Bible though they were taught with about the same authority. Those traditions covered a wide range of personal behaviors of things we were not supposed to do and things we were supposed to do as well as some theological beliefs. It was not until I actually started reading through the Bible in context for myself that I became aware that there were many things I had believed because of tradition and not because the Bible actually teaches them.

This is not to say that traditions in and of themselves are bad. In fact, many of them can be very helpful and a large portion of them get started in the effort to accomplish something good. However, even a good tradition becomes an obstruction to true godliness when it is removed from its original purpose and is done without knowing the reasons for it. Traditions regarding acceptable activities on a Sunday were helpful in promoting reverence and preserving Sunday as a day for worship and rest. The loss of those traditions has resulted in Sunday becoming just another day of business which in turn has resulted in a loss of reverence and great difficulty for those now working on Sunday to join in congregational worship of God. At the same time, many of those traditions ended up promoting legalism of “keeping the Sabbath” instead of actual godliness which acts out of Biblical knowledge and conviction about seeking to please and glorify God. Remember that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week and Sunday is the first. We refer to Sunday as the Lord’s Day and worship on it instead of Saturday in honor of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Romans 14 makes it clear that what day is regarded to observe for the Lord or not is up to the individual before God (Romans 14:5-7). Brother Steve talked about this in his sermon a few weeks ago.

The danger of traditions has always been that they can be done mindlessly and then substituted for the word of God. Whenever you do something because it has always been done that way or you simply do not know the reasons for it, then a tradition has developed that could be dangerous. Find out the reason for it, and if it is still helpful, then continue it with explanation to the others that participate. If you can’t find a reason or it is not helpful toward godliness, then stop it and do something else.

This morning I want to expose another false basis for theology that has tragically affected a large portion of the churches in America, and to some degree around the world, though it has had minimal influence on persecuted churches. I titled this sermon, “Tickets to Heaven: The Errors of Market Based Theology.” By that I am referring to those churches that design their programs and promote themselves based on the findings of marketing studies of their targeted audience. This is most often associated with the church growth movement and “seeker sensitive” services, but some clarification needs to be made.

Church Growth vs. Market Growth.

Church Growth

True church growth takes to heart Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His church. Much ink has been spilt on the meaning of Jesus’ preceding declaration that Simon was “Peter” (petros – small rock) and upon this “rock” (petra – large rock, cliff or ledge) Jesus would build His church. However, the emphasis on the passage is not really on Peter or the rock, but upon Jesus and that He would build His church for that is the main verb of the sentence. Upon what He would build it is incidental to Him building it. Those who understand this know that all true church growth occurs because it is the Lord Himself who is at work. They are only workers in His service. True church growth then is dependent on the Lord doing His work and His workers being faithful in service. The question that drives church workers is being faithful to serve in the manner the master desires and doing what the master wants done.

What is it that the master desires? Our Lord Jesus made this clear and simple enough in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, He commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you . . .” concluding with the promise that He would be with us “always, even to the end of the age.” I have exposited this passage many times in the past (See: The Church, Part 1: It’s Purpose – 10/05/2003 – https://gracebibleny.org/the_church_part_1_purpose) and have pointed out that the command is to make disciples which is carried out by the actions of going, baptizing and teaching. True church growth is about making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously the desire is to see as many people as possible become disciples, but the goal is that they become actual followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. That goal is what then determines the ministries and programs of the church.

In this church we have stated our purpose in terms of the Great Commission. Grace Bible Church exists to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. We seek to do this by Communicating New Life in Christ (Evangelism); Cultivating New Life in Christ (Edification); Caring for New Life in Christ (Fellowship); and Celebrating New Life in Christ (Worship). Our various ministries and programs must fit within that purpose and those goals or it is not something we get involved in or continue.

There are many things done within the church growth movement that are helpful toward the end goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ. It is helpful to have someone evaluate the church and give an assessment of what is being done and its effectiveness. We have had that done here and I have done that myself for other churches. It was good to have someone come, observe and evaluate and then point out our weaknesses and suggest ways we could be more effective in fulfilling our purpose and goals. That required some restructuring so that our efforts were put into making disciples instead of just running church programs. It is easy for church ministries that at one time had specific purpose to devolve into church programs that have lost their purpose and continue only because they have been done a long time. We periodically re-evaluate our various ministries to make sure that they not only still have a clear purpose in mind, but that consideration is given in how to be more effective in fulfilling that purpose.

There are also some pragmatic things an outsider will notice that might escape the attention of someone who has been attending there for a long time. These things might not be directly related to making disciples, but they do become obstacles to new people because they communicate a negative message to them. I remember one church I evaluated that could not understand why families with young children would not come back, until I pointed out that their nursery was neglected and filthy. Though they genuinely wanted to minister to young families, they were unaware that their nursery was shouting to those young families that this church did not care about young children. In a similar way, the general upkeep of the facilities tells new people something about the view of the church concerning God, worship and people. Some of what has come from the church growth movement has been helpful to removing unnecessary obstacles so that opportunities are gained for beginning the work of making disciples.

Market Growth

However, there is also much that has come from the church growth movement that is dangerous because without the proper goal of making disciples, it devolves into a marketing plan for increasing attendance for religious services. Success is then determined by the increase in attendance and revenue instead of the spiritual growth of those attending. It is easy for even the good things to be skewed toward this purpose. For example, small groups have proven to be helpful in attracting and assimilating people into a local congregation, but if that is its purpose, then what occurs is an increase in socialization instead of discipleship. In fact, such small groups may prove to be detrimental to true ministry since it increases the opportunity for gossip and formation of cliques which can become divisive.

Motives are crucial when it comes to information gained through market research and what is done with it. For example, gaining a knowledge of the general demographics of an area is very helpful in church planting by directing you to the particular ministries that will be needed and making sure your gospel presentation is targeting the people that live there. Ministry in an area of young families will differ from one in a retirement community. The gospel presentation can be tailored to reach the ethnic and religious heritages in an area. The Apostle Paul had a great understanding of the Greek culture which he used in crafting his message so that the gospel would have maximum impact. His sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17 is a classic example of this. Paul’s motive was to preach the gospel clearly to that culture. He left the number of people who would respond up to God, and in that particular case there were only a few that did respond to become followers of Jesus Christ.

If the motive is to gain a large following, such market research will be used in a different manner with the invariable result that the gospel message is toned down so as not to offend the target group, and the church ministries will cater to the preferences of the people instead of helping them to become conformed to the image of Christ. Bill Hybels started Willow Creek Community Church following a survey of the area. He started with the motive of wanting to effectively reach the unchurched with the gospel, which is a good motive. However, the pressure to then cater to the felt needs of those same people would result in the gospel message being toned down. Success in attracting people became its own detriment. To their credit this would be recognized periodically and the gospel would be reemphasized. Recently, as the result of another survey of their church, they have also recognized that their ministry model of catering to the unchurched has resulted in a severe lack in actually making disciples of Jesus Christ. Whether they will be able to correct this or not is still an unknown. I have no doubt they can correct it if they will simply go back to the Scriptures and let the Bible define the scope and purpose of the church instead of surveys. If they do not, then another survey in the future will reveal they have still not met their goal – or they will change the goal. Other churches already have.

Much could be said about churches that have fallen to or have been encumbered by the fallacies of the church growth movement. Gary Gilley in his book, This Little Church Went to Market, gives a good critique of them. The idea of striving to meet the felt needs of the unchurched as a means to get them involved in church is an old one. It can have legitimacy when the goal of presenting the gospel is kept clearly at the forefront of purpose. I used to participate with the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles and they are an example of this. They would strive to meet the felt needs of the homeless by giving them food, clothing, shelter, a medical clinic and even a shower and a hair cut – but those wanting those services had to first sit through a sermon. The gospel was the essential and there are many that have come to Christ through that ministry and similar ones.

However, when meeting the felt needs overshadow the gospel, then the gospel can be quickly lost. Marvin Olasky in his book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, recounts his research which included going to homeless shelters and soup kitchens run by churches and finding with some regularity that he could easily get a second helping of food, but it was difficult to get a copy of the Bible. The gospel was lost in the effort to meet physical needs. A similar result occurs when market research drives church purpose and strategy.

I have become aware of larger churches with multiple buildings starting satellite congregations on the same property based on preference in musical taste. They seem oblivious to the fact that in doing so they have fractioned the church and feed the selfishness inherent in such preferences, and that does not help at all in the quest to make disciples of Jesus Christ. More commonly this is done along generational lines so that there is a youth / young adult service and another at the same time for the rest of the church. There is variation on whether the pastor’s message is streamed in on a monitor or a separate speaker brings a different message. Willow Creek Community Church tried this for several years with a ministry called Axis in the effort to target Generation Xers, but they shut it down in 2006 finding that the young people in it found it hard to transition into the rest of the congregation when they outgrew Axis. What was missed is that discipleship happens in the context of the whole congregation as various people with diverse gifts minster to one another. The interaction of young and old, rich and poor, mature and immature and diverse cultural backgrounds forces the need for humility, practicing all the one anothers and considering others as more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3-4). Catering to the preferences of a particular group only increases the selfishness inherent in man.

While these concerns are minor compared to the teachers of a false gospel, it is still serious for two reasons. First, the focus is no longer on making disciples of Jesus Christ so that the church becomes weak and wimpy instead of strong and holy. Even George Barna’s statistical research has shown that the evangelicals involved in these seeker-friendly churches are living no differently from the unsaved when it comes to morals, ethics and values. How can the church call a society to righteousness when it does not live in righteousness either?

That brings up a second and more serious concern. Because the gospel ends up being toned down so as to be more friendly to so called “seekers,” it does not take long for it to become perverted or even absent. Do those people who profess Christ but live in the same manner as our sinful society even believe the Biblical gospel? Or do they believe a perversion of it which allows a person to believe they are saved from Hell without being saved from sin?

Joel Osteen pastors of one of if not the largest church in the U. S., Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and has a television ministry that claims to reach hundreds of millions more. He is an interesting and dynamic positive speaker, but he does not talk about sin. Why? Simply because people do not want to hear about it. But if you do not talk about sin, or you redefine it, as Robert Schuller did in his theology, what is salvation? Perhaps the title of one of Osteen’s books says it all, “Your Best Life Now.” It is pragmatism for getting what you want in life now instead of being changed into the image of Jesus Christ in preparation for eternity. That is a false gospel.

These teachers, and many more like them, are the ear ticklers warned about in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but [wanting] to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” What a contrast that is to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in the surrounding verses to “preach the word; be ready in season [and] out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (vs. 2) and to“be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (vs. 5).

The Foundational Error

What is the foundational error? At heart it is a shift from a focus on God and doing His work in His way with success defined as fidelity to God, to a focus on man and defining success in some other way. Jesus rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for this in John 5 for they were seeking the honor of men instead of the glory that is from God (vs. 44). Even ministries that start off with good motives can be easily perverted to this. I have no doubt that most of the Pharisees were genuine in their desire to live righteously before God and that was the reason for their many traditions. However, the pressure to conform to the traditions which had replaced true godliness perverted the definition of success in living righteously. Being accepted and acclaimed by the other Pharisees became the definition of success and so their quest to the point they could not accept Jesus’ claims because He did not live according to their traditions. Even those like Nicodemus that did recognize Jesus’ claims as being true were intimidated by the other religious leaders and so that they kept their beliefs to themselves (cf. John 3; 7:50-52).

The same kind of pressures exist today on pastors for they are human and want to be accepted and praised by their peers. This easily degenerates into boasting about the size of their congregation, its budget and staff. I have been to enough pastors conferences to know the question about the size of your church is usually about sizing you up in the pecking order of success. Those with smaller churches want to know how the guy with the larger church was able to do it, which is legitimate and helpful if it is about being more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ, but if it is about techniques to get more people to attend, then the line is crossed from pleasing God to pleasing men. The Willow Creek Association has 12,000 + members and crosses all sorts of denominational and theological lines. Church growth principles, not doctrine, becomes the common unifier and with it the shift to pleasing men instead of God.

Unless a pastor takes to heart the admonition of Scripture to humble himself before God (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), the pressure to gain the honor of peers and the acclaim of those in his congregation will turn him from pleasing God to pleasing men. The danger of this to the pastor of a large church is obvious, but those in a small church face a similar danger. They cannot boast about their size so they boast about the quality of their church to pastors of similarly sized churches who commiserate with each other. I have found that to be only rarely true of those who boast about it, for those that actually are better don’t boast. The problem is still essentially the same. They want the honor of others, and not being able to get it from one group they will seek it out from another group.

Compromised ministry to feed the ego of a pastor who wants to boast is only a small problem compared to the one created when the gospel itself is shifted from making disciples of Jesus Christ to selling tickets to heaven. Much of modern evangelism has reduced Jesus to a commodity to be marketed by selling the attractive points of the gospel and leaving out the negative. Get people to acknowledge a set of essential facts by some action – praying a prayer, raising your hand, walking the aisle – after which the person is assured they were now going to heaven. The barkers are crying out, “avoid Hell by getting your tickets to heaven here! All you have to do is repeat this prayer after me.” They will use all sorts of marketing techniques including playing on the emotions in order to complete the sale. What the person actually believes and whether those beliefs actually match what God requires is unimportant as long as the ticket to heaven have been given out and the evangelist can mark down another person who has made a “decision” in his tally book.

Jesus gives a strong warning in Matthew 7:13-14 about making sure you are believing and following the true gospel instead of a false one. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” The context of this passage is one concerning religious leaders who are calling for people to follow their teaching and way of life. Most are presenting a message that is appealing to the masses for it invites people to walk through a broad gate to a path that is wide and easy. That is the marketing approach to making the gospel appealing to the masses. It is selling Jesus as the means to an easy and comfortable life and that idea now dominates Christianity in America. However, the truth is that it is a small gate and a narrow way that leads to life. Jesus calls people to believe in Him and follow Him warning that the world will hate you for it. It requires repentance of sin and dying to self so that you might find life in Him (Matthew 16:24-25). It also means that in living for Him people will lie about you, slander you and persecute you (Matthew 5:10-12). That message is not attractive to the masses and many will forcibly reject it, but it is the gospel truth and so we proclaim it.

We must always remember that it is Jesus that saves, not intellectual assent or any deed of righteousness we could do (Titus 3:5). It is by God’s grace alone that we are made alive in Christ and our faith alone in Jesus alone is reckoned to us as righteousness for the purpose of becoming holy and blameless before Him as we are conformed to the image of the Son (Ephesians 1:4; 2:1-10; Romans 4:5; 8:29). We are to proclaim the gospel, not market it. We are to call people to repent and become followers of Jesus Christ, not sell Jesus as the solution to their felt needs.

The Solution

What is the solution to being able to use principles from church growth for a proper and godly purpose and not get sucked into a marketing approach that perverts ministry and the gospel? It goes back to what I said at the beginning of this sermon. It is the Lord Jesus Christ that builds His church and we are but His slaves ready to do His bidding and fulfill His will. From the personal standpoint we must make sure first of all that we are humble and seeking the Lord’s glory and not the honor of men. Second, we must make sure that we are gospel centered in outreach to the unsaved and focused on the continuation of making disciples of Jesus Christ among the saved. It is not about size and numbers. It is about fidelity and faithfulness to doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way for the Lord’s glory.

The church does not exist and we were not saved to cater to the felt needs of the unsaved. Our worship services are centered on glorifying God and magnifying His name. The unsaved are welcome to attend and observe and we do strive to help them understand what is going on, but until they repent of their sins and place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ they cannot be true worshipers of God. For that reason we are not concerned if they like what we do or not. Our target audience is God Himself and all of us are the performers seeking to please Him both within the congregational worship and even more so in living out the principles and precepts of God’s word in daily life.

We strive to have the same attitude Jesus did in John 8 and Matthew 19. In John 8 Jesus was merciful and gracious and spoke truth concerning Himself which verse 30 states resulted in “many came to believe in Him.” A market driven approach would then seek to understand why there was such a favorable response and try to repeat it. Jesus did not. He immediately challenged those same people who “believed in Him” to become His disciples saying “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The result of this challenge was an immediate negative response that escalated into Jesus making it clear they were of their father, the devil, and then in turn escalated to the point they picked up stones to throw at Jesus after He proclaimed that “before Abraham was born, I am” signifying He was God.

In Matthew 19 Jesus was approached by a rich young ruler who wanted to know what good thing he should do so that he could obtain eternal life. Market driven evangelism would find a way to get that guy to sign up for church immediately and maybe even pray some form of the “sinner’s prayer.” Jesus did not do so. First Jesus pointed him to the law which should have convicted the man of his sin. Instead, the man boasted he kept the law but knew he still lacked. Jesus then called him to sell his possessions and become his disciple. Since his wealth was the true god of this man, he went away grieved.

Jesus’ example was one of great mercy and grace, but He would not compromise truth to gain the acclaim and following of men. He usually did the opposite by calling people to the commitment of becoming His disciple. Since that requires admitting one’s own sin and dying to self in order to live for God, only those that the Father draws will respond (John 6:44). We can do not less as faithful slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be merciful and gracious. We are to speak the truth in love, but we are to speak the truth and not compromise it. True success is simply being faithful to God and serving Him to the very best of our abilities.

Let me close by briefly recounting one of the most successful pastors I have ever met. I won’t mention his name because He is too humble of a man to have others boast about him. I have met many men who pastor large churches, but this man pastored rural churches that usually only numbered a hundred or so. What marked him was his faithfulness in training up men to be followers of Jesus Christ and include them in his desire to reach the next community. Over the course of his many years of ministry he was able to plant 10 churches in communities within driving distance of the churches he pastored. His desire for each community to have a healthy functioning church overshadowed any desire he may have had to build a larger congregation where he was at. He understood that true success was humble faithfulness in doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way for what the Lord wants. He made disciples of Jesus Christ instead of increasing the size of his congregation.

What about you? Is your quest to do likewise with whatever gift God has given you to serve Him? 1 Corinthians 12 makes it clear that the Spirit gives you your spiritual gift or gifts, the Lord gives you the particular ministries in which you will be involved, and God empowers you to whatever size those ministries will be. All of it is of God, and your part is to humbly and faithfully serve Him. Do not fall victim to the fallacy that bigger is necessarily better nor let your pride get in the way of serving the Lord however He desires. Allow Him to use you as He desires as He builds His Church through His servants.

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Write down all the verses mentioned. 2) Count how many times the word church is used. 3) Talk with your parents about the importance of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is it important to have Biblically based theology? What are some other foundations for theology and what are their dangers? When are traditions good? When are they dangerous? What is the emphasis in Matthew 16:18? On what is church growth actually dependent? What is the Lord’s commission for His church – Matthew 28:18-20? What ideas from the church growth movement can be helpful in fulfilling the Great Commission? How should a church define being successful? Why would it be wrong to evaluate church success based on attendance or revenues? Why are motives so crucial in the use of marketing research information such as demographic studies? What effect would a motive of increasing attendance have upon the presentation of the gospel in a church? Upon discipleship? How can meeting the felt needs of an unbeliever be helpful in presenting the gospel? When would it become detrimental? What are some of the reasons it is a bad idea to split a church into multiple congregations based on preferences of musical style? If evangelicals live in the same manner as the rest of society in regard to morals, ethics and values, what does it indicate about the actual beliefs of those evangelicals? What is the message of Joel Osteen’s gospel? Does this match what the Bible states? What is the meaning of Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4? Can you identify such teachers at the present time that are “ear ticklers?” What are the marks of a true teacher from God? What is the foundational error that drives market driven theology? What pressures do you sense to conform to the traditions or common perceptions of our society about what is or is not successful? What is the solution to keep from falling into the quest for a bigger church, ministry, etc. for the wrong motives? What was Jesus’ attitude toward those to whom He was talking in John 8? To the rich young ruler in Matthew 19? How does it differ from modern evangelists? Why is humility such a crucial characteristic of the Christian? Is a “bigger” ministry better? Why or why not? How are you serving God with the gift(s) He has given you?

Sermon Notes – 5/9/2010

Tickets to Heaven: The Error of Market Based Theology

Introduction

The difference in between Biblical Theology and something else is the difference between truth & ____

False theological can be in direct __________________ to the Bible

False theologies can be ________________ of the Bible leading to a false gospel

False theologies can be ____________ of the Bible leading to spiritual confusion and immaturity

Traditions can be helpful if their reason is known and they __________ in walking in godliness

A tradition kept without knowing its purpose and _______________ can be dangerous

Church Growth vs. Market Growth

Jesus said He would build His church – ________________

True church growth is dependent on the ___________ doing His work and His workers being faithful

The Great Commission – _____________________ – expresses our Master’s desires

The command is to make ____________ carried out by going, baptizing and teaching

Many things within the church growth movement can be _______in carrying out the Great Commission

Periodic re-evaluation of ministry to make sure they are fulfilling their ____________ is a good practice

Removing _________________ obstacles to new people coming and assimilating is a good practice

Without the goal of making disciples, even good things from church growth ideas can be ____________

Small groups that are not promoting discipleship can be very _______________ to spiritual health

Market research is helpful when it aides clarity to ministry to make it more ___________ – cf. Acts 17

Ministry based in market research just to increase numbers will result in a toned down ___________

Meeting felt needs of unbelievers can open the door for the gospel – if the _______________ is primary

When meeting felt needs overshadows the gospel, the gospel will be ______________ or lost.

When the goal of the church is _________ on making disciples, it becomes weak and wimpy

Barna’s statistical research shows that evangelicals match general ________in morals, ethics and values

Do such people believe the Biblical _____________or a perversion saving them from hell, but not sin?

Pragmatic ideas to get your best life now instead of changing you to be like Jesus is a _________ gospel

Ear tickling _________ teachers – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

___________ teachers of God’s word – 2 Timothy 4:2,5

The Foundational Error

John 5:44 – men who seek honor from other __________ instead of the glory that comes from God

The pressure to conform is great and perverts the true definition of ____________ in righteous living.

The pressure to make a small church grow can lead to ______________ compromise.

Without a ________heart a pastor can easily succumb to pride and wrong motives will mark his pursuits

A greater danger occurs when the gospel is shifted from making __________to selling tickets to heaven

The “wide path” is marketed to the masses, while the narrow gate & path is proclaimed because it is ___

The Solution

Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ builds _________ church and we are but His humble slaves.

We must seek the ____________ glory and not the honor of men

We must be ______________ centered in outreach and discipleship centered with believers.

We follow ____________ example in Matthew 19 and John 8

We are merciful and gracious speaking the truth in love, but never compromising the ____________

True success is being __________________ in serving God to the best of our abilities.

Do not fall victim to the idea that bigger is necessarily better nor let ______block your serving the Lord


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THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is it important to have Biblically based theology? What are some other foundations for theology and what are their dangers? When
are traditions good? When are they dangerous? What is the emphasis in Matthew 16:18? On what is church growth actually dependent? What is the Lord’s commission for His church – Matthew 28:18-20? What ideas from the church growth movement can be helpful in fulfilling the Great Commission? How should a church define being successful? Why would it be wrong to evaluate church success based on attendance or revenues? Why are motives so crucial in the use of marketing research information such as demographic studies? What effect would a motive of
increasing attendance have upon the presentation of the gospel in a church? Upon discipleship? How can meeting the felt needs of an unbeliever be helpful in presenting the gospel? When would it become detrimental? What are some of the reasons it is a bad idea to split a church into multiple congregations based on
preferences of musical style? If evangelicals live in the same manner as the rest of society in regard to morals, ethics and values, what does it indicate about the actual beliefs of those evangelicals? What is the message of Joel Osteen’s gospel? Does this match what the Bible states? What is the meaning of Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4? Can you identify such teachers at the present time that are “ear ticklers?” What are the marks of a true teacher from God? What is the foundational error that drives market driven theology? What pressures do you sense to conform to the traditions or common perceptions of our society about what is or is not successful? What is the solution to keep from falling into the quest for a bigger church, ministry, etc. for the wrong
motives? What was Jesus’ attitude toward those to whom He was talking in John 8? To the rich young ruler in Matthew 19? How does it differ from modern evangelists? Why is humility such a crucial characteristic of the Christian? Is a “bigger” ministry better? Why or why not? How are you serving God with the gift(s) He has given you?

 

Sermon Notes – 5/9/2010

Tickets to Heaven: The Error of Market Based Theology

Introduction

    The difference in between Biblical Theology and something
else is the difference between truth & ____

    False theological can be in direct __________________ to
the Bible

    False theologies can be ________________ of the Bible
leading to a false gospel

    False theologies can be ____________ of the Bible leading
to spiritual confusion and immaturity

    Traditions can be helpful if their reason is known and
they __________ in walking in godliness

    A tradition kept without knowing its purpose and
_______________ can be dangerous

Church Growth vs. Market Growth

    Jesus said He would build His church – ________________

    True church growth is dependent on the ___________ doing
His work and His workers being faithful

    The Great Commission – _____________________ – expresses
our Master’s desires

    The command is to make ____________ carried out by going,
baptizing and teaching

    Many things within the church growth movement can be
_______in carrying out the Great Commission

    Periodic re-evaluation of ministry to make sure they are
fulfilling their ____________ is a good practice

    Removing _________________ obstacles to new people coming
and assimilating is a good practice

    Without the goal of making disciples, even good things
from church growth ideas can be ____________

    Small groups that are not promoting discipleship can be
very _______________ to spiritual health

    Market research is helpful when it aides clarity to
ministry to make it more ___________ – cf. Acts 17

    Ministry based in market research just to increase numbers
will result in a toned down ___________

    Meeting felt needs of unbelievers can open the door for
the gospel – if the _______________ is primary

    When meeting felt needs overshadows the gospel, the gospel
will be ______________ or lost.

    When the goal of the church is _________ on making
disciples, it becomes weak and wimpy

    Barna’s statistical research shows that evangelicals match
general ________in morals, ethics and values

    Do such people believe the Biblical _____________or a
perversion saving them from hell, but not sin?

    Pragmatic ideas to get your best life now instead of
changing you to be like Jesus is a _________ gospel

    Ear tickling _________ teachers – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    ___________ teachers of God’s word – 2 Timothy 4:2,5

The Foundational Error

    John 5:44 – men who seek honor from other __________
instead of the glory that comes from God

    The pressure to conform is great and perverts the true
definition of ____________ in righteous living.

    The pressure to make a small church grow can lead to
______________ compromise.

    Without a ________heart a pastor can easily succumb to
pride and wrong motives will mark his pursuits

    A greater danger occurs when the gospel is shifted from
making __________to selling tickets to heaven

    The “wide path” is marketed to the masses, while the
narrow gate & path is proclaimed because it is ___

The Solution

    Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ builds _________
church and we are but His humble slaves.

    We must seek the ____________ glory and not the honor of
men

    We must be ______________ centered in outreach and
discipleship centered with believers.

    We follow ____________ example in Matthew 19 and John 8

    We are merciful and gracious speaking the truth in love,
but never compromising the ____________

    True success is being __________________ in serving God to
the best of our abilities.

    Do not fall victim to the idea that bigger is necessarily
better nor let ______block your serving the Lord


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