“God’s Smuggler” Speaks on Mega Church Phenomenon

Christian Post had an interview the other day with Brother Andrew, author of “God’s Smuggler.” A number of questions addressed his perspective on the American Church and in particular, the growing trend toward mega-churches (Churches over 2000). I thought the following exchange was worth passing on. [Bold and underline emphasis added by me in Brother Andrew's answer.]

Brother Andrew 2CP: I want to get your assessment on how the American mega-churches are doing in terms of supporting the persecuted Church. In 2009, Rick Warren held a forum on the persecuted church, and Dr. Carl Moeller, former Open Doors USA president, he was part of that. And in 2011, John Piper, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Rick Warren, and other mega-church pastors were part of a Twitter campaign to help imprisoned Afghan Christian Said Musa. So what is your assessment of how mega-churches in America and their influential pastors are doing in terms of advocating and supporting the persecuted church?

Brother Andrew: Let me first say, I refuse to be negative. Whatever they see as their calling, they have to pursue with all their power. It does not make me envious to see a mega-church because I don’t see that in the Scripture. The church was always low-keyed, there were places where there were tens of thousands of believers, like Ephesus, and they had no building at all. And nowadays any place in your country, if there are ten or 20, or 100 members – you have to have a church – bigger, bigger, bigger. I don’t see it in the Scripture. It’s clearly not my calling, that is again not meant as criticism. God can use the church for bigger influence, provided that bigger church means more power with God, more anointing from the Holy Spirit, passion for the lost people, and not people who are in charge who are on an ego trip and just make their own name big, writes lots of books, and television and all that. All that often ends in total disaster and the church that is growing in comparison, you might say some house churches or underground churches in China are mega-churches when you think of the number of members, but they have no mega building, they certainly have no mega salary, no mega fame, and no mega books, and all that.

I think God has a different set of values and we should do well to look into that from Scripture and be humble. If people are being used by the Lord, praise God for that, and I am not envious and I wish them success. And I have been at Rick Warren’s church. They gave me a special award for being old and still following Jesus. Can you think of that? So I got up for the big thank you, and I said something like you Americans are crazy, how can you reward an old man for still following Jesus? All he wants to do is go to heaven and make it. You don’t have to reward him in the world. Instead of rewarding an old man who still follows Christ, you should punish all the rich people in your church who spend all their money on the bigger boat, and bigger this, that and the other. That should be the system, but don’t reward a man who is near eternity because he still follows Jesus, it is the calling of all of us. What’s your problem? Well, frankly, they’ve never invited me back.

Read more here. 

And after you have read, spend some time in prayer that God would raise up from our children more hearts like Brother Andrew’s that beat for the passion of our mighty King and His Kingdom.

What and Who to Read if You Want to Learn How to Share the Gospel More Clearly

Four books on evangelism recommended by Matt Chandler, Mark Dever and Darin Patrick. Coleman’s book is a classic and Mark Dever’s book is very good. Mack Stiles book is both funny and instructive, a good combination. All of these are short and helpful.

To these I would add:

“Readers are leaders, leaders are readers.”

Reading isn’t the end of the game but it sure helps get you started. 

Matt Chandler interview; Religious Reverts; Baseball and technology; Candidates who believe?; Gay Rights; Gandhi and much more

Weekend Links

New England Bike PathThe best and most interesting links of the week. Some new categories this week. As always, My hope is to give you penetrating analysis, challenging thinking, and inspiring content, but that doesn’t mean that I endorse or embrace every thought, direction or conclusion of any particular link.

Leading Better

The Anatomy of Holiness (Kevin DeYoung)
An Interview with Matt Chandler (Christian Post Reporter)
Religious Reverts: Are American Christians Coming Back to Church? (John Armstrong and USA Today)

Whimsy

Baseball and Its Gloves (Innovation and change)
Design Your Own Vegetable Garden Chicago vs Chicago (Extended)

Engaging with Culture

Gay Rights and the Abuse of Liberty (Shane Vander Hart)
Search Engines for Scholars and Researchers (Stumbled Upon) -very helpful
Candidates: Two Self-Professing Christians who Most Christians Don’t Believe are Real (Ed Stetzer)

Defending the Faith

Gandhi’s Jesus is Not Quite Jesus (Tim Challies)
Why Christianity Has Declined in America (Tim Keller)
The Ten Most Common Objections to Christianity (Alex McFarland, Video)
Financial and Sexual Abuses at TBN Revealed (World Magazine)
Is Christian Faith Irrational (Matt the med student) 

Revival Will Not Make Spiritual Warfare Easy

Wednesday is for Prayer

Before Matt Chandler, before Francis Chan, before David Platt, (three young men we should all be thankful for God raising up in this generation), there was George Verwer. Radical, passionate, creative, missional, fully engaged and calling the Christian world to be more and do more for the Savior, all of these men are worth listening too. This week, I ran across this quote from George and it struck me as spot on.

“In my experience throughout the world, an over-emphasis on revival leads to a subtle form of extremism and a ‘copping out’ from the basics of obedience, discipline and action-taking. If revival hits your church or region or university, [or town, or high school], there will be more intense spiritual warfare the very next day. There may even be greater heartbreaks and disappointments than there were before it came. There is no substitute for daily denying self and taking up the cross, regardless of your circumstances. To think that great revival or spiritual experience will make Christian living a kind of ‘automatic pilot’ experience, is to make a huge mistake.”

—George Verwer, Out of the Comfort Zone, 31.

I think George is right and that knowledge is not comforting. What George observes around the world, I suspect is true of we American Christians in particular. We like instant things. We like easy. We like comfortable. We want progress, but we want it to come effortlessly. We want a three step process, a pill, a patch, or a formula. And all of that makes it extremely unlikely that we will see a revival in America. So now you know what we need to pray for.

“Lord Jesus, we can do nothing without You. We are so satiated with our comforts and toys and games and achievements and power. We fail to take up our cross, we fail to speak,we fail to live with a zeal and passion for You and Your kingdom and world sees nothing supernatural about the lives we live.

They see nothing exceptional or noteworthy about how we love them and sacrifice for them. Instead, they see us live for the same things they do, our families, a little more comfort, a few more toys.

Forgive us Lord, but change us too. We need a revival of our love for You.
We are desperate for it–or we should be.
Whatever it takes Lord, revive us for Your name’s sake. 

Oh How He Loves Us; Steve Jobs; Mormonism; Herman Cain; Leadership Freak; John Calvin and more

Weekend Links for 10/15/11

Collected these links all week and really glad to pass them on to you now. There is some truly great stuff in some of these posts. As always, I can’t vouch for every jot and tittle but I think you will be challenge, inspired and moved by much of the information below.

Engaging with Culture

Republican Party: the Best Friend to African Americans (Katie Pavlich)
Steve Jobs or Coach Eric Taylor? (Ron Dreher)
The Deindustrialization of America: Blow Your Mind Facts
Ten Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street Protests  (John Hawkins) –a must read article.
Mormonism, Democracy and the Urgent Need for Evangelical Thinking (Al Mohler)
Is it Loving to Point Out that Mormonism is Not Christian? (Randy Alcorn)
Another Reason for Green Energy to Fund Itself (Fox News)
Herman Cain: Blacks Should Divorce the Democratic Party (Larry Elder)

Science and Technology

Trilobite Defiance of Evolution (Way of Life Literature)
The Gospel and Apple: Surprising Inroads? (Justin Buzzard)
Charles Hodge to Darwinist: “Not So Fast”  (Kairos Journal)

Growing in Doctrine

Every Christian Believes in this Doctrine (R.C. Sproul) –audio
Did Calvin Kill a Man? (Geoff Ashley)  –myths surrounding Calvin
Luther on How to Learn the Doctrine of Predestination (J.D. Greear)
Understanding the Relentlessness of Grace (Tullian Tchivdjian)
Keller and Carson: How to Discuss Theology in the Blogosphere (Justin Taylor)

Growing as a Leader

How Blowing Up a Factory Changed Jack Welch (Leadership Freak)  – how do you handle people’s mistakes
Be Mesmerized by the Love of God 

Rob Bell Back in the News

Monday Discussion

Back in April, I posted an update on The Gospel Coalition conference held in Chicago and made a promise about about a conversation I had with Matt Chandler (Check the Link here). At that time, much of the buzz in the culture, both Christian and secular culture was Rob Bell’s book, its universalistic tendencies and its dismissal of hell.

Since then, a number of other books have been written and Rob’s book and perspective have been almost monolithically rejected as not reflective of what the Bible actually teaches by most evangelical scholars, though the consensus is that Rob Bell’s book did ask some important questions.

Anyway, while Matt Chandler and I were talking the subject came up of Rob Bell and his book and Matt drew near and said, “Here’s my prediction. Within six months, Bell will leave his church and go the same route as Brian McLaren.” The gist of our conversation was that Rob would leave his church because he wouldn’t need it anymore and wound become a speaker and writer and continue to drift away from the gospel.  

Today I learned that last week Rob Bell announced last week that he will be leaving Mars Hill, Grand Rapids and moving his family to Los Angeles to work on a TV project and continuing his book/speaking tour. Matt doesn’t claim to be a prophet as far as I know, but he was spot on with his prediction.  My hope and prayer is that Rob will not continue his slide away from the gospel and the gospel’s Christ.

Is this where the era of celebrity pastors has taken us? Men using their communication abilities to launch themselves into new careers independent of the Church and opposed to its mission and teaching? God forgive us and cleanse us from the exaltation of personality over truth.

Related posts:
Oh How We Need this in Our Age of Celebrity Preachers
Following a Star Rather than the Son

Disagreeing Agreeably

Thursday is for Discipleship

How do we disagree agreeably? Here’s some help from three men I respect.

In an age of fractured accountability, learning how to approach and allowing others to approach us when disagreements arise is an important skill to learn

Update from the Gospel Coalition Conference

Friday is for Heart Songs (part 2)

Conference imageThe Gospel Coalition Conference held at the McCormick Center in Chicago this past week was centered on the theme of “Preaching Jesus and the Gospel from the Old Testament.”  Some four thousand pastors and almost 1000 of their wives, joined together to worship and explore the wonder of seeing Christ in the Old Testament.

I am not going to review the conference. It was too big, too multifaceted, and too content-packed to accomplish much in this space. But here were some of my take-aways:

  1. It was thrilling to see the relative youthfulness of the conference. My guess would be that 50% of the conference was under 35.
  2. Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, was brilliant in his exposition of Exodus 14. You can hear it and all of the other messages at the Gospel Coalition website.
  3. My time with my friend Steve Howell of Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) was a great encouragement and joy. How precious are friends who hear the melody of our hearts and can harmonize with your own passion for Christ!
  4. It was balm to my spirit to see so many of my former students and interns who are continuing to follow the Lord with passion. Truly, there is no greater joy (3 John 4).
  5. Had a conversation with Matt Chandler at a dessert that the Chicago Church Planting Partnership and Moody Church helped to put together. Teaser: I will tell more about the conversation in about six months. Please continue to pray for Matt as he battles a brain tumor with courage and grace.
  6. Had a great breakfast with Jeff Vandersteldt of Soma Communities. For about a year, when I have described what I felt God calling me to do in my next church plant, three different people have said, “That sounds a lot like what Soma Communities and Jeff Vandersteldt are doing out in Tacoma, WA. So it was great to sit down for breakfast and talk with Jeff. In many ways I felt like I was talking to a younger, better version of myself. Thanks for introducing us Steve.
  7. I was able to sit down with a number of former students and interns as well as many new contacts and tell them about the new ministry that God is calling us to. Business cards were flying all over the place!
  8. I got lots of free books!!!!!!!

Update: Still trying to put some of those thoughts from the conference into practice at Trinity Church.

Preaching is Magnificent Work

Great preaching inspires the body of Christ to love the Savior more and understand the magnificence of God.

Here’s a two minute sermon jam from some friends of Matt Chandler. Take two minutes to hear Matt exalt the risen Christ and then spend two minutes praying for Matt and his battle with an aggressive brain tumor.