Fighting The Good Fight… For Unity?

We all know about JESUS: ALL ABOUT LIFE coming up. Is this a time to speculate who we’re united with or separate ourselves with those who might have their own agenda? Should this be more about representing our pure Christian beliefs, practices and beliefs falling carefully into ministries that seem to have it together?

Or is this a time to fully go for it (warts and all) and qualm about controversialities later?

If IHOP is clearly pawning the 10KW event which is being advertised through JAAL, how do you also feel with this?

http://ccceshop.com.au/lovesydney/info.html

How important are doctrinal or various ministerial differences in relation to ‘supporting’ other ministries in ‘unity’. I really believe in church unity, but I am also a huge believer in truth with integrity when it comes to supporting other Christian Ministries. If you are not aware with what CCC (C3), are doing, they are once again tagged to an event that is not theirs. (Will Chris Pringle bag this event out too?) And any thoughts on Hope 103.2?

But just like 10KW, they will be putting on a massive event in the Homebush area called “LOVESYDNEY” and it has been heavily promoted. Apparently this massive C3 event has ‘no strings attached’. I’d like to know if Teddy knows anything about this. Everything is FREE for the general public and the nights will be filled with worship. (I am actually tempted to check this out!)

But should we sniff out rats, or should we shrug off differences? To me, this entire event has got PROTESTANT written all over it. The Catholic church of Australia did it first, now it’s our turn!

Lance posted up an interesting article at http://www.groupsect.wordpress.com.au :

ABC Online reports…

“A former Australian Defence Force Anglican bishop says religious belief is waning in Australia because the Christianity most Australians have encountered is weak, insipid, and in some cases unintelligible.

Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre and head of the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University, Professor Tom Frame, says churches must take some of the blame for the decline.

“The Christianity that most Australians have encountered is weak and insipid and in more than a few instances uninspiring and unintelligible, and the majority have no idea of what the Christian religion is offering,” he writes in his book Losing My Religion: Unbelief In Australia.

Professor Frame points to what he believes are three reasons for this.

“To some degree some churches are caught in a time warp, they’ve got the social and cultural forms of the 1950s and 1960s and have been unable to embrace the 1990s and the new millennium, so they do seem to be locked in time and their message with it,” he told ABC Online.

“The second thing that I would say is that many of the churches are totally overcome by internal bickering about minor points of doctrine about which the world could not care less, because they don’t bear upon everyday life.

“And I think the third thing is that the churches themselves have conducted some of the internal debates in public and given the impression that not even the churches are sure about what they believe.

“Now I don’t think that’s true, but in conducting, if you like, household conversations in the full glare of the media spotlight, [they have] led some people to focus on the division rather than the unity; the separateness rather than the oneness of the message that’s being proclaimed.

“There are some churches who in my view have a totally hybrid religion, one which is nearer to therapy than spirituality. And if you are an external observer seeing all of this it’s not surprising that you think the churches themselves don’t know what they’re on about.

“And if they can’t articulate a clear message then why should anyone bother listening?”

At Federation Australia was considered a Christian nation, but Professor Frame points to census figures showing that today a quarter of the population does not have a declared religion.

“If we take the census figures as any reliable measure of what’s happening in the community then we would have to say that those who have formalised religious beliefs – that express themselves through the major religions that people are offered in the census form – then certainly there’s a big change going on,” he said.

“In 100 years we’ve gone from a country with nearly 97 per cent of the population belonging to one of the four big Christian denominations to 63 per cent; 5 per cent having a religion other than Christianity. It’s a lot of change in a very short space of time and that’s going to have consequences for the whole community.”

And he says even though people may refer to themselves as being of Catholic, Anglican or Uniting Church faith, they do not necessarily have beliefs that correspond with the formal ones of those religions.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/20/2661547.htm?section=justin

So what are your thoughts on this?


40 thoughts on “Fighting The Good Fight… For Unity?

  1. The Jesus All About Life initiative seems fine to me. The Bible Society aren’t affiliated with any particular church (OK, they are probably Protestant, but other than that…), and many churches are participating in the events – presumably those churches who share a common Bible.

    C3 may enjoy the publicity and who can say how much of their event is related to promoting their brand, and how much is purely promoting Jesus? But, we can hardly criticise them for supporting the Salvation army and the Bible Society, and for opening their evangelistic event up for free, to anyone from any church. Notably, they promise that any material relating to altar call responses will be sent to the home church or group of the respondee. I imagine they will be putting a lot of funding into this.

    I do think that in the case of JAAL, we should be supportive of the efforts to evangelise, and pray that people do respond to the opportunities to embark on a relationship with Jesus that the various churches are trying to provide.

    It may not be perfect, but we do have an effort here by many churches, to work together without boundaries between them. Large churches or large groups of churches seem to be covering different parts of Sydney over the September/October period. It will raise issues to do with Jesus, since all the churches are co-ordinating their efforts under one umbrella.

    Fundamentally, nothing can replace the evangelism that takes place in the life of each believer as they go, but these large events have their place. Some people want that opportunity to go forward at a big event. I did myself at a Leighton Ford rally many years ago (I was already Christian, but I was young and churchless – I was just trying to find my way back in at the time. The little book and accompanying bible they gave me was my companion for some time. I am guessing that the Bible Society will be providing free bibles for respondents at these events?? I can say from experience that that alone may be a great thing!

  2. I keep hearing about this from different sources.

    Don’t have any inside information, however all this just adds to my frustration about how they perceive “church”.

    I’ve coined a new term – P3, Pringles Personal Playground (for self-promotion).
    There will be product for sale, surprised if not the case.

    Again it’s this conference-driven idea that PP is running with. If you track the “twittergrams”, it’s just one conference after the other.

    For a reality check, have a look at Paul Washer’s Twitter http://twitter.com/paulwasher and compare to PP’s http://twitter.com/philpringle – one devotional, the other, motivational.

    Is there room for both? To me, it’s a sell-out to the unbiblical seeker driven method. What kind of “worship” are they bringing to the city? – self worship! Sydney needs the gospel not C3. I love what the Salvos and other inner city missions do, why not give them the money? If PP knew how to present the gospel of repentance and grace, then go for it. But he doesn’t, it’s just your best life now.

    I can’t stop meditating lately on the fact that it’s the Lord who builds His church – and I’ve realised how much C3 is a “works” not “grace” based community.

  3. I keep hearing about this from different sources.

    Don’t have any inside information, however all this just adds to my frustration about how they perceive “church”.

    I’ve coined a new term – P3, Pringles Personal Promotion. There will be product for sale, surprised if not the case.

    Again it’s this conference-driven idea that PP is running with. If you track the “twittergrams”, it’s just one conference after the other.

    For a reality check, have a look at Paul Washer’s twitter and compare to PP’s twitter – one devotional, the other motivational.

    Is there room for both? To me, it’s a sell-out to the unbiblical seeker driven method. What kind of “worship” are they bringing to the city? – self worship! Sydney needs the gospel not C3. I love what the Salvos and other inner city missions do, why not give them the money this event is going to cost? If PP knew how to present the gospel of repentance and grace, then go for it. But he doesn’t, it’s just your best life now.

    I can’t stop meditating lately on the fact that it’s the Lord who builds His church and I’ve realised how much C3 is a “works” not “grace” based ministry.

    (I’m reposting as I’m stuck in moderation, sorry if this comes up twice.)

  4. So Teddy, you would not support this event, because PP doesn’t present the gospel properly?

    I guess I would hope that good was done via the event, even if the event itself was pretty much a C3 ad. Years ago, they used to be quite effective at purely evangelistic meetings.

  5. we can disagree on minor doctrinal points and yet be united in the Holy Spirit.

    However, C3 is a brand name now. It is a denomination but also has market savvy. They also have the money to sponsor big events.

    Don’t get too cynical about it, but just remember that it’s becoming an increasingly competitive market. Total market share is dropping, so those fighting over the scraps will fight harder to maintain their market position.

    The big boys in Sydney being Hillsong and CCC, they will have to struggle to maintain their numbers in a dwindling market. Their churn rate will also be a factor. I suppose quite a large number of people have been through both churches … where have they gone and why don’t they speak out more?

    No church is perfect, and they always take on the worst characteristics of the ‘leader’. (A team nullifies the negatives)

    Anyway … observing from the other side of the world is good and bad. I think, as long as C3 or whatever is not promoted and only Jesus is promoted, we can all rejoice and be glad ‘they’ are doing something to reach the lost. (as opposed to ‘back-sliders’)

    But it’ll get more difficult as more kids leave school without a proper God Framework. Cos kids will ask, which God? Allah, Yahweh, Jesus or Buddha?

    Kids might say they believe in God and identify as Catholic or Anglican but could well be Wiccan or into Eastern mysticism and the occult.

    A good question would be to ask a congregation if they know which star sign they are. The follow up question would be to ask the same bunch if they checked out their horoscope recently.

    Shalom

  6. Bull, when you look at the C3 site, whose name is promoted more than any other? I apologise for sounding cynical, we had too much exposure to the inner workings of the “business”, and on the journey forward, realise how much so many dearly beloved friends and family are missing.

    When you listen to the “inhouse” language, it’s all about “church”, not Christ. You have to be out of it, to see that.

  7. RP, no, I wouldn’t support this event. The last 5 or so years at C3, we stopped attending any conferences for the reasons I mentioned above. We were not alone in that. As I said, why not give the money to individual organisations who know how to operate in those areas.

    Bottom line, it’s still about self promotion not Christ because PP doesn’t do gospel. It’s “look at us, see how cool we are, we’re not boring old church”. There’s enough religion thrown to make people feel good about themselves but that is not the right way. Even Billy Graham didn’t do that.

  8. Here I go again, it’s so annoying trying to gather your thoughts before that first cup of coffee.

    I never realised before joining one,how much the small churches do in and around the local community.
    There’s no self promotion, just a desire to reach the people with the gospel. The missionaries on the front line, the older folks in the schools, the kids clubs, the interaction with other small local denominations other than anglican., the student ministers.

    It’s been quite an eye opener. I know some of you have been involved in Anglican churches, and I can see why people are drawn to C3 style churches. But when the reverse occurs, and we take that passion with us, all I can say is “wow”!

  9. I agree that its important to present repentance as a part of the gospel, but it can be presented in the manner of turning from one’s old life and turning to Christ; a change of heart about doing things oneself in one’s own way. There are many ways to present this other than insisting on sorrow and remorse, which is one experience of repentance, but not necessarily the only one that results in repentance.

    Haven’t heard PP present the gospel for years – I only have my old experiences of him to go on, and from what I remember, he used to present a ‘turning to Christ’ which could certainly have the effect of repentance when it involves giving up doing things one’s own way.

    The problem I found with C3OF was that once a person had committed to following Christ (which was fine), they were then presented with a shallowness of teaching which led many converts to ultimately seek more elsewhere. Plus of course prosperity doctrine etc. But initially, the acceptance of Jesus was fairly basic.

    Still, it’s pretty hard to find statements of belief on the C3 website – maybe they’ve changed the presentation now to having Jesus as an add on to our current lives, rather than a change of heart. (‘Jesus is my handbag’ I think someone put it.) Only thinking that since the absence of the statement of belief might be a ‘seeker sensitive’ decision. Maybe it’s evangelism by osmosis now, rather than active statements of what we believe about Jesus?

  10. Lots of valid problems there, but every church will have its own set of problems. Along with the problems are strengths. Even churches that are purely good at marketing are still presenting Christ at some level.

    It would be dissappointing just to read about Islam in the papers!

    Can the different churches strengths be complimentary as a whole, or does one church need to fulfil certain minimum requirements for its flock?

    Eg good biblical teaching – what is the church leaders responsibility and what responsibility lies with the individual? Does this change as the disciple matures?

  11. We need the gospel after we are saved, we sin daily – it’s this body we’re still in, so hearing the gospel message reminds us daily, weekly that we are redeemed. It’s so easy to bring ourselves under a false sense of condemnation and it’s good to keep short accounts with the things that “beset us”.

    It’s quite clear that the “church” operates by hearing and growing in the Word – Acts 2:42-47.

    We’ve made a habit of sitting down each night and listening to teaching sermons as we have our evening meal – it generates great discussions, quite vocal (me)at times :),and we feel that we are really growing in our understanding of His grace and mercy. No more “works” mentality for us, but definately a desire to serve as he leads us.

  12. I think thats a brilliant idea Teddy, we do similar things. But it means that we have had to draw from other places than just the local church.

    Would it be unreasonable for a pastor to admit to its flock that he is not the best at teaching / preaching and they should here it somewhere else or on tape etc, whilst also being committed to the relationships of their congregation?

  13. Muppet, the shepherd is supposed to feed his sheep.

    And we need to study the Word too, be “bereans” as Paul says. It’s because we were reading our bibles in church, that we realised how out of whack the teaching from the pulpit was.

    Paul’s exhortion to Timothy gives the clearest view

    “2Ti 4:1-4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
    preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound [fn] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

  14. Bit of a dilemma?! Listening to your own tapes could be the action of a “berean” or someone accumulating “to suit their own passions”!

  15. I believe it when God says he gives gifts to the church e.g. the gift of teaching. A pastor should really be seeking the Lord for that gift to be evident in his sermons – and it’s hard work (but that’s part of the job).

    The purpose-driven churches can download copies of Rick Warren’s “sermons” (very problematic gospel-lite/seeker sensitive stuff) – they present as their own! Some have been caught out even using someone else’s childhood dramas and saying it was their own experience.

    Tadd Grandstaff did that with one of Graig Groeschel’s sermons – pulpit plagiarism they call it.

    http://galatiansc4v16.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/sermon-copying-when-the-world-has-more-integrity-than-the-church/

  16. I guess the problem comes with titles. I’ve known some great “Shepherds” but they are not always called Pastor. I’ve also known Pastors who would be better called “CEO”.

    Perhaps our experience is dictated by how we label?

  17. Muppet, surely there’s comes a point when you know what you are hearing is true or false. We do have the Holy Spirit and His Word, the Lord does take care of us. He’s not the author of confusion.

  18. You’re spot on there, Muppet. Some are missing their calling perhaps because they don’t think they have the CEO mantle (unbiblical)- a false image gaining ground in the “market-driven paradigm” church. Staff favourite expression about PP was “he’s on another page”!

    We met beautiful “shepherds” at C3 in the past – easily recognisible by their humility. I wonder how much longer the Lord will keep them there? Many are leaving.

  19. Sorry Teddy – ignore the last post it was written while you were posting your last comment – so no longer makes sense.

  20. Very interesting discussion.

    “Because preaching the gospel is of primary importance.”

    The gospel does need to be heard, but my question is based on my time at C3OF, many years ago. As I said before, PP used to be good at delivering evangelistic messages once a week in the evenings. I know there was a lot of hype as well, and a lot of positive thinking type statements, but the fact was, people did go out the front and commit their lives to Christ.

    I can speak from personal experience that many of those commitments were genuine. Whether the person stayed at C3 was another matter. The style of church didn’t suit some (too big); limited teaching led others to leave out of thirst for something more (me included); a lot of people left when the building campaign and giving took over the majority of the focus, which it surely did.

    I think some of the things that people are taught _after_ they make a commitment are problematic and unhelpful to their new walk in Christ. But they were quite good at pure evangelism.

    Is that no longer the case?

    Are you saying, Teddy, that PP does not preach the gospel and that C3 is not a Christian church?

    I know some of their teachings are dodgy, but the people within the church are frequently very committed to Christ, regardless of whatever on earth PP is doing. So its hard to write it off as not Christian.

    When I was there, salvation by works was not preached. Hillsong’s doctrinal statement on their website seems to include an addition to the gospel that implies you need works for salvation (‘…and submit to the will of God…’ etc – I’ve discussed that elsewhere). But C3 didn’t appear to have officially added that bit.

    Certainly my local C3 didn’t. But a works mentality – that you needed to do particular works in order to be approved of as a ‘good’ Christian by God was increasing. eg’s were tithing, turning up to meetings, being committed to at least one ministry and so forth. However, that was usually an extra served up as part of the culture, rather than apparent in any gospel presentation.

    So when they actually preach the gospel, is there now a works component, or is it still presented as the free gift of God for anyone who turns to Christ as their Saviour?

    Teddy – you spent many years there as a believer; I know you’ve moved on now, but surely those years were not a complete waste? Did you not see God working in amongst the people despite the other issues? That’s what I’m used to seeing. That’s why I’m loathe to condemn the entire thing, but prefer to debate the dodgy doctrines, and its why I think its possible that providing they do stick to evangelism, they may do good at this public event. PP does have wierd doctrine, and probably more these days than in the past. (Due to lots of yes people around him I am imagining.)

  21. I mean – I’d still perhaps bring a friend along to one of those meetings, if I thought they’d hear the gospel presented in a simple, understandable format, and were interested. But not if they’ve added to the salvation doctrine.

  22. The scenic route, we now call it. This is a question many people ask when they leave charismatic -pentecostal churches. I’ve really been researching this phenomenon, it’s world-wide. There’s no easy answer, but it all seems to boil down to the lack of sound doctrine. The word of faith movement has really “contaminated” people’s views of God. It simply doesn’t work. And God in His loving faithfulness in bringing us to Him, leads us in all truth.

    That’s what really overwhelms me, His faithfulness, His patience, His loving kindness.

    I had no other experience of church life, and looking back, was never secure in the knowledge of the saving work He has done. I’m not arminian in my views whatsoever any more – He’s totally sovereign, He chose me, I did not choose Him. His Word confirms that.

    Were those years a complete waste? No, but I have a more secure foundation now understanding what He has done for me.

    This was never presented at C3, there are scriptures that were never touched upon in relation to salvation. His Sovereignty being one of them. The too-hard basket, and this is because (in my opinion), the pastors have no real theological training. They scoff at traditional ministers claiming they don’t have the Holy Spirit. The ignorance/arrogance of that statement – you aren’t a christian if you don’t have the Holy Spirit.

    I’ve sat through full-time bible college, full time counselling courses and came out at the other end more ignorant of the finished work of the cross.

    We were given responsiblities way beyond our experience, especially in the counselling arena. The whole issue of duty of care, though mentioned, was treated too lightly.

    Is C3 a christian movement? Yes, at its roots but the worldly methods have taken over at the expense of the gospel. Whether yyou have the time or inclination, just study the market- driven paradigm promoted by Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. As I’ve said in the past here, Hybels repented of his methodology but then turned around and instituted another “programme”.

    This is exactly what PP brought into the C3 movement – he seems to look where the latest church-growth method is working and adopt that approach himself, this is so easy to research!

    “Not having “super faith”, the foremost reason why disillusioned people leave charismatic churches, they feel they cannot possibly attain such high standards in their faith. The majority of errant Charismatic doctrine is tied into or even based on this super-faith and its supposed accompanying power”.

    I find that quote interesting.

  23. Maybe it was different for me, because I was ‘saved’ when I was a kid, and came into C3 already Christian, with evangelical salvation doctrine as a grounding. Not for one moment while there did I ever doubt the saving work of Jesus in my life (ongoing). Nor did I ever see Christians from non-Pente backgrounds as not having the Holy Spirit – I just couldn’t agree with that teaching (I did hear that opinion), since I knew too many other non-Pente Christians who were genuine believers (and had spent many years being one myself),; it certainly seemed arrogant to presume they didn’t have the Holy Spirit. Ridiculous really.

    I still think C3 is Christian at its roots – I imagined that these ‘roots’ are what is evidenced at an evangelistic rally. I would hope so.

    Without doubt, PP has always borrowed from the latest marketing methodologies from the corporate world; and this costs the church in many ways in my view. I am quite critical of those things. I can’t stomach the ‘Purpose Driven’ approach either, nor the doctrines of John Bevere which are propogated. These things are all harmful in the long run.

    Still, Jesus is at work there in the lives of those who love him, but not assisted by those doctrines.

    So surely there could be effectiveness in evangelism at the root level, whatever happens after that?

  24. This is where we need to pray for young men like Josh (and others). Pray that the Lord brings good preachers like Francis Chan and his ilk onto their radar. Perhaps we need to pray that the senior pastor retire? Not likely, though. He definately still has the final say.

    The biggest problem at C3 is the older congregants leaving. It’s these older folks who know and challenge doctrine. When it’s not taught correctly and there’s only the young ones left (who have no serious foundational doctrines), what will be the outcome of that?

    How will evangelism be effective? The roots are so shallow in these young ones. Will Josh have enough of an opportunity to make a difference – not everyone goes to Change.

  25. as an aside, it would be interesting to discuss Arminanism and Calvinism.

    Neither are completely true of course. Both are true. 😉

  26. “Will Josh have enough of an opportunity to make a difference – not everyone goes to Change.’

    Well. He has the platform. And he is being a big influential difference to the next generation.

    But still has a stronghold on the tithe.

  27. How can he change the tithe, without severely undermining the existing structure?

    He would have to either leave, or simply agree to never to preach on that doctrine, if he came to a different view on it.

    It is very, very difficult for those within a tithe dependent organisation to give it up. Very, very difficult. It is like giving up one’s life blood.

  28. I must admit, I find it interesting that he gives other people the job of doing the giving talks.

    I have been told by others that he strongly believes in it. But I have yet to hear him give a talk on the tithe.

    I think he has moved beyond the tithe!

  29. 🙂 That would be good. Hope he reads that book! (Beyond the Tithe, by Stuart Murray – in case he or someone he knows looks at this site ever.)

  30. I have heard that giving talks are used for training up pastors who are lower in the pecking order or less experienced in speaking. But occasionally one of the senior ones will do it to lend their weight to the subject. It also ensures that whoever becomes a more important pastor is definitely known by all to support the doctrine.

  31. Well, that’s what they’ve been taught … they believe it.

    They haven’t heard the alternative exposition of those ‘tithe’ passages … which are all old testament of course. They likely haven’t heard about the curses associated with tithing as well.

    😦

  32. I think they don’t want to read about the alternative studies of ‘tithe’ scriptures – which are the normal view in large portions of the rest of the church – since they think it comes from the devil or perhaps that they might start to doubt if they read something ‘dangerous’.

  33. Plus – why would they bother with examining views supported by ‘dead’ churches that don’t have the Holy Spirit??

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