Out with the Old, In with the New: Narrowness Cloaked in Openness

There is much talk in the church today, as there was in the 70’s and 80’s, about updating the methods used by churches in accomplishing the Great Commission (Matt 28.18-20), as if God only gave a command and didn’t also provide the necessary instructions for carrying out the command.  The worship wars have expanded their theatre of conflict now to include the nature of the church and how to do evangelism and missions.  The mantra of the day is “we must be relevant!”.  But apparently relevance is a code word for looking like the world–your local coffee shop to be more specific.

Underlying the call for new methods is a new fourth mark of the church.  Historically the church has been understood by the three marks of the right preaching of the gospel, the right administration of the sacraments, and faithful church discipline.  Yet, today, to these three, a fourth mark is emerging (pun intended) and that is the mark of marketing how one does those things.  Some preach the gospel dressed formally and some preach it in flip flops and shorts–never mind that both are apparently meeting with and representing the same God.

Adding marketing to the list of marks provides the justification to flood the religious market with all manner of different styles of churches, so that if one “type” of church is not bringing in the throngs, then we need to offer a different product.  This market driven model apparently provides the justification for churches planting new churches on top of one another without any forethought as to what this says to a community about God and his gospel. Continue reading


>New Horizons January 2009, "Athentic Church"

>Before we leave the month of January, let me draw your attention to the January issue of the OPC’s monthly periodical New Horizons. In this issue, there is some helpful interaction concerning the emergent church movement.

  1. Sincerely Yours: The Marks of the True Authentic Church by A. Craig Troxel
  2. Why We Are Not Emergent by Dale A. Van Dyke
  3. Christianity and the Emergent Church by Danny E. Olinger

These articles are written at the lay level and helpfully introduce the reader to the main issues and concerns about the emergent church movement from a confessionally Reformed perspective without getting too bogged down in the details.

Laurence O’Donnell has provided some helpful summaries of the articles, as well as some additional resources for further reading.