How Far is Too Far? Can We Be Too Innovative?

The last blog post on the suggestive church sign made me think. How far is too far when it comes to being creative and innovative? The XXX Church guys set up a booth at porno conventions and hand out Bibles. Some churches meet in bars. Another church has their logo printed on shot glasses at a nightclub. In trying to reach the culture in new and innovative ways, who's to say what's too much?  Personally I usually tend to push the envelope.  But especially when it comes to
faith-based marketing, branding, or evangelism, is there a point where we either damage the integrity of the message we're trying to send, or send the wrong message?

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  1. "is there a point where we either damage the integrity of the message we're trying to send, or send the wrong message?"

    Probably, but I don't know how to define that limit.  The church sign didn't offend me.  XXX Church doesn't offend me.  Churches that meet in bars don't offend me.   I'm pretty sure the people who are offended are simply going to stalk off in righteous indignation to a church that fits their sedate expectations.  I expect they'll wind up in heaven eventually, having never done anything edgier than ordering rocky road ice cream instead of vanilla.  God bless 'em!   They are salt of the earth, and they pretty much define what's good about the world most of the time.  They are good people.  They don't offend me, but doing and saying things to keep them comfortable does wear me out.   

    For that matter, third world sex workers who fall to their knees and pray after a long, hard night's work don't offend me either.  From their lips to God's ears.  life can be incredibly hard.  People in the pit of despair have the right to their hopes, dreams and prayers.  

    People go astray.  That, and some people live decent lives in indecent situations, carving a path through awful situations not of their making.  If we snub them and avoid them, how on earth are they going to find their way back?   If we tell them they have to conform to all our expectations before God will be interested in them, isn't the way to salvation going to seem impossible to travel?  We should be kinder.  We should bring the church to them, instead of waiting for them to get brave enough to come to us. 

    People are always telling me they're not going to church because they're ashamed, or fearful of how they'll be greeted by the flock.  Though we don't intend it, we church goin', Bible fearing clean living types can be extremely intimidating.  The walk through the door to a pew can seem like a terrifying gauntlet. 

    Let's offer as much as possible in church, and bring as much church to the community as possible.   By all means, let's show up in unexpected places and say unexpected things.  

  2. I find for myself that those who attempt to take the approach of separating themselves from the great unwashed are more concerned about casting Christ into their own image than they are reflecting the example of Christ.

    Christ was accused but the religious people of his day as being a drunken sot who spent too much time with prostitutes and tax collectors.  Exagerated to be sure, but reflective of the same type of mentality we see today of certain Christian traditions that believes being separate from the wor;d means setting up little compounds where we throw Jesus granades and hope the shrapnel will convince them to clean themselves up enough to where we can let them into the club.

    I think Jesus modelled reaching the common people where they were.  He went out to get them, He didn't wait for them to come to Him (although many did that as well.)  The parables repeatedly give us a theme of Christ of a loving God who goes seeking for those sheep who are lost.

    I do think there is a line that can be crossed when we elevate the culture above the message and saving power of Christ.  Christ's power works to see people saved and by them being saved and converted the culture is transformed.  Far too often, I think we American Evangelicals have it backwards.  We imagine if we transform the culture through political activism and putting God back in the schools etc. that people will come to Christ.  Cleaning people on the outside without the power of Christ at work internally, will at best achieve only temporal results.  These elements are important but they are secondary to the Great Commission.

    I'm far less offended by legitimate efforts to reach people for Christ where they are than I am by those waving the banner of holiness and self-righteousness who in my opinion emasculate Christ and turn Him into what they believe God should have sent instead of who Christ actually was and is.

    For me the line is when we compromise the person of Christ in some manner to make the message more palatable.

    It's by the way, one of the reasons I am so concerned about the Health and Wealth Gospel in some of its extreme forms.  Preaching a gospel that appeals to human greed and sanctifying materialism is a compromise of who Christ is and what he preached and taught while here.  I'm far more concerned about that then I am people going into bars and frequenting with prostitutes and sex workers.  Jesus did that while he was here physically.  I think those who do that are operating in his pattern far more than those residing blissfully in suburbia praying for their next new car while the world around them goes to hell in part because of their indifference.

  3. When Jesus told His followers that they must east His flesh and drink His blood, I'm sure that some found this offensive. Also, when He proclaimed to be the Way, Truth, and Life, likewise, I'm sure, many chose to part from Him.

    But when people looked into His eyes, they saw love, compassion, and a Holy God that cared enough to provide a way out of their various situations. I think that when we reach out, no matter the method, if it is done in sincerity and true love for our fellow man, results will follow. There WILL be naysayers, but God's Word never returns void.

    People can see through insincerity, but true, genuine love is hard to dismiss.

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