Friday, March 14, 2008

Why Does This Rub Me Wrong?

Ed Stetzer has linked to a quote from Rob Zinn. Find the story here. This is one of the quotes:

"Jesus gave a commission to His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations," Rob Zinn, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., said in the convention's annual sermon. "We are a denomination that talks a lot but does little when it comes to evangelism... "Folks, what you did in the '40s and what you did in the '50s isn't going to win this culture to Jesus," Zinn said. "One of the things we are losing right now is our kids." While Southern Baptists must never change "the man [Jesus], the message [the Gospel] or the mission," they must be willing to change methods like the kind of music used in worship if they are going to reach a new generation in a changed culture, Zinn said. His voice cracking with emotion, Zinn said: "My heart is bursting for a generation of people who are lost and dying and going to hell. It's not about you. It's about Him [Jesus], and He loves them all."

Here is my question for you. My spidey-senses tingle when I read that quote. But just like Spidey sometimes I'm not sure why they are tingling. Is it just gas? For the life of me I can't put my finger on what rubs me wrong in this quote. Can you?


  1. Because we seldom want to change, and its hard to understand why Gen X'ers and Millenials don't respond the way our parents responded.

    See, its not the message that needs to change, its the presentation.

    Gen Xers are jaded because they grew up in a generation that was beginning to distrust government because of Nixon, the Vietnam war, downsizing, right sizing etc.

    Starting in the 60s and 70s, (maybe earlier with the TV), we started getting our information quicker. Also, this information turned negative real quick, because people will stay tuned if they're afraid.

    Now (as a Gen Xer), my parents lived through the Vietnam War, Nixon & Watergate, downsizing, rightsizing, major recession. They became insecure in their jobs, in their leaders etc. We picked up on that as kids. So we grew up insecure. We question everything because we want to know that "You are who you say you are". No more of this, "Do as I say, Don't do as I do" nonsense. If you want me to believe it, you've got to live it too.

    That's one of the biggest reasons youth are leaving the church and not coming back now.
    Everyone is responsible for their own choices, but they have to believe there is a choice.

    They have to believe Christianity is real and living. That it is what it says it is.

    If we don't live it and breathe it for our kids, they'll be even more screwed up.


  2. So, are you saying that it rubs me wrong b/c I'm not wanting to see this change?

    Before I respond, I just want to know if that is your contention...

    And if it is your contention please know I'm not offended by that. My question is legit with not an ounce of sarcasm...i am trying to get a better understanding of your point here.

  3. Mike,

    Could it be that when we talk bout changing the way we do things to reach a new generation, the conversation almost always revolves around the packaging? (IE: Music, Atmosphere, Architecture, Clothing, etc.)

    I picked up on Chris' statement "...but they have to believe there is a choice." We need to offer the choice of Jesus...real, authentic.

    The change that needs to come to the church today is one of getting the church getting on her and praying....fervently, consistently, and longingly for the souls of men/women.

    The change that needs to come is a clear proclamation of the gospel which comes from a congregation of all ages, shapes, and sizes who are committed to living the gospel.

    Its hard for me to imagine that God's Holy Spirit is going to restrained long by style of music, one way or the other. It is not hard for me to imagine God's Holy Spirit being quenched by hypocrisy, apathy, and spiritual snobbery. Its not hard for me to imagine the Holy Spirit walking away from a group of people who do not pray, are not submissive to the Scriptures, and are caught up in the packaging of the church as a product...regardless of whether or not the packaging is traditiona, 1990's contemporary, post 911 contemporary, rap, cowboy, coffee shop, facebook or whatever other kind of church packaging human imagination can conjure.

  4. Mike,

    What I'm saying is, the Boomers and Matures (and older Xers) understand the idea of "Do as I say, not as I do" and are "OK" with that. They can goto Church and be preached at instead of ministered to.

    X'ers and Millenials say "Do as you say, not as you do" and we'll respect you and listen to you.

    This is NOT a Holy Spirit problem. This is a messenger problem. The messengers haven't LIVED the TALK and its damaged a generation, and that generation is having kids.

    (This is NOT a blanket statement, not all Xers act like Xers, some Millenials act like Matures etc)

    Did you know there are 75 MILLION millenials! There are only about 60 MILLION Boomers...Something like 45 MILLION X'ers...And the X'ers are passing along their dis-satisfaction with the Church to their children (the 75 million).

    In Christ,

  5. Not sure how we should show them FAITH in action now, only that it needs to be done. Probably by getting out of the limelight and start helping people en masse.

    Could you imagine if a church like Mars Hill (6000 members?!) went into the ghettos with TV cameras rolling to capture what happened?

    Started talking to people about their circumstances? About their situations? About how they could help them meet their needs? Provide some services? FREE OF CHARGE
    Share the gospel WHILE ministering to needs.

    I can't even imagine what would happen.

    In Christ,

  6. Chris,

    Have you recently read a book on the Millenial culture? Honestly, I don't buy it. Here is what I mean...actually before I do that..I think the discussion will be moved along better by pointing out what I agree with, and then show where we believe differently.

    Chris, You have a very excellent point, that how we live often has an impact on what we preach. You really cannot separate the messenger from the message. I also appreciate your heart for ministering while meeting needs. That is always very helpful...if for no other reason that biblically loving our neighbor.

    Yet, here is where I differ. Even though you cannot separate the man from the message, it is the MESSAGE that has the power. Notice that Paul says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation...not the gospel minister. Is the gospel minister important? Yes. Does the gospel DEPEND on the minister? It does not appear so.

    Now, Terry I believe that you have hit the root of my discontent. You have expressed why my spidey sense were tingling. It appears that this speaker has a correct heart for the youth...yet his solution seems to be the same thing we have heard for years. You have to repackage the gospel so that it is palatable. We are losing the young people b/c of the way we package it....then we will have to repackage it again, and then again, and then again.
    And to this: "The change that needs to come is a clear proclamation of the gospel which comes from a congregation of all ages, shapes, and sizes who are committed to living the gospel." I say AMEN!!!

  7. Not sure exactly why your Spidey sense tingles, but as I consider Zinn's comments here is what I think...

    A) I'm glad to hear of Zinn's heart for the lost, especially the younger generation.

    B) Zinn sounds just the same as the Baby Boomers before him. It is the same "mantra" stated time and again over the last 30 years by church growth gurus, etc.

    C) The message and the methodology need to remain the same. The problem is, most people confuse music styles, appearance, etc., with methodology. Biblical methodology is this: pray for the advance of the gospel, live the truth of the gospel, and proclaim the gospel(and expect persecution over the gospel). That's it. Contemporary music, gourmet coffee, wearing jeans and listening to U2 (no matter how cool!) will not win the younger crowd to Jesus. However, you should be willing to sit down with them, while drinking an espresso at Starbuck's, and engage them thoughtfully and compassoinately with the gospel. The problem, in part, with Zinn's methodology (and I'm judging him solely on this quote) is the fallacy of operating primarily with "Come and See" evangelism. We need to stop tailoring our worship services for the world because worship isn't for the world (or for us). Worship is for God. We need to carry the message to the streets, to the Starbucks, to the market, to the workplace. We need "Go and Tell" evangelism.

  8. I wanted to clarify earlier posts down to a single point.

    One of the biggest phrases that Gen X'ers use and Millenials is this:

    "Prove it to me" - We grew up with the show me mentality. You can do whatever you set your mind to. Focus on individualism and thinking for yourself. Right?

    So, we can't "prove" God, AND we're not required to right? (Can't prove God because He is spirit - can't concretely prove God like you prove they Mayas existed for example)

    So how do prove it to them?

    We prove it by living it. By sharing God's activities in our lives. By sharing God's love with others. Real love. Love in action.

    I've started a "Share Your Story" page over at my blog. I'm trying to get as many people as possible to share a PERSONAL story of God working in their life, or through their life. A moment when we have experienced God, and God changed our lives. Whether its our salvation or something since then.

    Here's the link:

    I'm not saying repackage the gospel, or repackage God. But we might need to repackage ourselves to reach the next generation.

    And you know what? We grow the most in God when we're out of our comfort zone anyway. :D

    In Christ's love,

  9. Here are a few things that got my spidey-sense tingling:

    1. There is the issue of automatically linking discipleship and evangelism. It drives me nuts when people do this. In the circles that I have run around in, most of the time there has been a misconception of what discipleship is. They either go to one extreme and it is all about evangelism. Nothing after that, just evangelism. The other extreme is that it is all about teaching and nothing about bring people to Christ. Both are equally wrong. No where in the Bible does it tell us to "evangelize the nations," also no where in the Bible does it tell us to remain in our little holy huddles and discuss Jesus amongst ourselves. I personally don't even like to talk about evangelism as a separate entity from discipleship. Even when we are first introducing people to Jesus, it is just the initial stage of discipleship, not some other distinct process.
    2. I don't think that we should worry about winning the culture to Jesus. Personally I do not think that this is possible. People have been trying to do it since the time of Jesus, and while there may have been short term successes, it has, for the most part, failed. Satan is called the prince of the power of the air and the ruler of this age for a reason. If we want to see long term change in the culture, we have to begin at the individual level. We have to make true disciples, rather than superficial converts as is so often done.
    3. I think that in large part, the battle over worship music is a stupid point of contention. A true disciple can worship to any music. It is not the style that matters it is the content. I love the older hymns because they are so thick with theological content. People don't like them any more though, because they don't understand them and they don't want to. All they are concerned about is getting their emotional high.

    These are just my opinions, and you know what they say about opinions: "they are like arm-pits. everybody's got one, and they all stink."


  10. Chris, Your point regarding living the Word is a song sung through the ages. James 2:22 "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, his faith was made complete by what he did." The church has a constant struggle with this and MUST address it. Not just in each generation, but each week in the church herself.

    What is particularly puzzling to me, if not bothersome, is how we keep scrutinizing demographics and breaking things into smaller and smaller pieces, which has tendency to feed our culture's "victim" mentality. Consistency in our Christian walk is not a generational issue as much as a sin issue, isn't it?

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Terry,

    I tend to think that a big issue today is directly related to the access of television and internet information and the "programming" that is on it.
    Particularly the "bad news" over "good news" problem.

    You're absolutely right that it is a sin issue.

    Sin is the ultimate culprit. But how do you communicate that?

    I think there was a huge cultural shift in the mid to late 1950s/1960s that is only now beginning to be understood. The impact of television and then the internet on communication styles.

    Here is what I'm talking about when I say repackage ourselves. Paul makes it so much clearer than I can. I have probably muddied up the waters pretty good.

    1 Corinthians 9:20-23

    To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
    to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
    To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
    I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

    In Christ,

  13. Chris,

    I think we likely agree all the way down the line. We do have to study how we communicate to make sure that we are getting through. Paul had to give milk before he could serve up the meat.

    We have to consider the language, the culture, and so many other things.

    I wonder though, how do I stand in the pulpit and communicate to 4,5 or more generations of people.....for that is what I do practically every Sunday. Many of the families in my congregation have 2-3 generations present, but I have at least one with at least 4generations present.

    Talk about your wide variety of musical preferences, attention spans, apparel expectations, etc.

    We are at a time of cultural shift. But if the church is the church, then we must learn how to transcend culture. We must get out there and present Jesus in Word and Deed.

  14. Well, I guess you could have 4 or 5 services :D

    Kidding only kidding.

    Actually, I think that is where discipleship comes in. That way the disciples can go and engage the culture.

    But I have no idea how to get people to come to the discipleship classes :)

    You know, maybe it comes down to people (and families) getting away from the word of God. Filling their lives up with everything but God. I don't believe people have to be in Church everytime the doors are open, and every children's activity, and youth activity (Sabbath rest anyone??)
    But there has to be time for family discipleship. Maybe that really is the bigger problem.

  15. It rubs you wrong because Zinn said the exact opposite in 2002 at the convention. He lead those opposed to changing things that would have a direct effect on the churches success in evangelism.. specifically corncerns that many believe cause factionism that, since New Testamant times, we've all known is SIN. It's all a matter of public record for anyone willing to look a little deeper

    1. You're going to need to post something a little more substantial for me to understand an issue 10 years ago. Perhaps a link to this public record



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...