Several years ago I heard about a large suburban church that rented a fifteen-thousand seat performance hall and invited a well-known college football coach to give his testimony about being a Christian coach. When I heard about this, what concerned me was not the fact that a college football coach was asked to give his testimony but that this event replaced the church’s Easter worship service. Instead of dedicating their worship service to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (as we are called to do each Lord’s Day), this church decided it could serve the interests of God’s people better if the congregation were not confined to the house of God where there was a pulpit and a cross. Rather, it seemed fitting to meet in a concert hall so that unbelievers would feel more comfortable in attending church on Easter Sunday. And by forsaking the testimony of the Word of God in order to hear the testimony of a popular football coach, the thousands who attended the event were deprived of true worship by the entrepreneurs of contemporary evangelicalism.
Many churches have embraced the strategies of twenty-first century evangelical entrepreneurs. In doing so, they have traded in the old rugged cross that once adorned the sanctuary’s chancel for a high-definition movie screen so that the congregation can watch commercials for the church’s mid-week programs between segments in the service. “But,” many will surely retort, “isn’t that what attracts people to go to church? And if people go to church, isn’t that a good thing?” Indeed, going to church is a good thing; hearing the testimony of a Christian football coach is a good thing; even watching commercials about the church’s programs is a good thing. However, not one of these things can be considered good if it is not centered on the fundamental reason for the church’s very existence, namely, the finished work of the crucified and risen Christ.
Perhaps never before in the history of the church have the people of God been so apathetic to the reality of the resurrection, ascension, intercession, and second coming of Christ. Nevertheless, we are called to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and intercession, and we are called to proclaim boldly His second coming, not merely through a personal testimony, but by the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ so that the lost might believe and so that we might rightly live coram Deo, before the face of God.
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.