Can Preachers Change the Direction of Churches?

There are exceptions to everything, but in general the answer is no.  The culture determines the success or failure of any church and the faith in general.  Culture gave it birth, and its current problems come from the same source.

This link tells pastors it is not their job to reverse falling church attendence, but to minister to those who remain.  What this means, however, must be different in different churches and denominations.

As the average age of some congregations increases, I suppose this means preachers adjust sermons and policies to accomodate older people.  There will be more hospital calls and funerals.

In the case of urban areas, one would guess there is some churning and turnover of membership.  If the values and preferences of the congregation start to change the preacher has to be on board to adjust.

There certainly appear to be preachers who either start churches or take over existing small churches and preside over phenomenal growth.  The result is sometimes called  the mega church.

To me, these preachers capture a specific audience that shares his/her cultural values.  The values of that congregation then will be almost impossible to change by the same or a different preacher.

In churches in general, the train has left the station and the preacher is along for the ride.  He/she cannot change the direction of the track.

Some preachers may see themselves as on a mission to save souls or convert the masses.  Mostly, they reinforce existing cultural values.

http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/4237/im-done-fixing-the-church-turning-the-future-over-to-god

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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17 Responses to Can Preachers Change the Direction of Churches?

  1. Michael Ross says:

    ” The culture determines the success or failure of any church and the faith in general.”

    I agree Jon. That is why Christ gave the Great Commission as a cultural mandate:

    “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20)

    The church has lost this principle and has been reduced to a socially acceptable (PC) gospel or a soul-saving club.

    “Some preachers may see themselves as on a mission to save souls or convert the masses. Mostly, they reinforce existing cultural values. ”

    Get “born again” and escape to heaven to in the “rapture”. This theology has infected the church for over 100 years and we have completely lost our culture. Two men or 2 women are a “marriage” and 60 million unborn have been murdered in their own mother’s wombs.

    “Can Preachers Change the Direction of Churches?”

    Not without the right theology which includes the Great Commission as a cultural mandate.

    • entech says:

      A common theme is to say yes but others are worse when ever there is any criticism of religion. So how about if I ask how many babies were murdered in the Flood.

      And the great commission? every cult has a membership drive.

      • Michael Ross says:

        God alone is the righteous judge. He is the author and finisher of life. Children suffer for the misdeeds of their parents. I don’t like it any more than you do. The flood happened 6,500 years ago. Nothing can change that now. If innocent human life concerns you then support it by opposing abortion.

        • entech says:

          It is more hypocracy that worries me, I do oppose abortion except in very rare circumstances – like the Indian lady in Ireland who was virtually murdered by stupidity and overzealous application of an ideal.

          A righteous Judge indeed, tell that to the first born of Egypt, murdered for self aggrandizement, I will harden his heart so that he says no, then I will punish the living daylights out of him for saying no. There are just too many things like that to be acceptable. Either your God is wrong or your Bible is.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Michael 5:05 “God alone is the rightous judge….Children suffer for the misdeeds of their parents.”

          So God is a righous judge, but he believe innocent children should drown because their parents were sinners. Using that logic, and assuming abortion is murdering a child which I don’t, and assuming sex is a sin which I don’t either, then I will repeat your argument, “Children suffer for the misdeed of their parents.”

          If God thought drowning all the children during Noah’s time was OK, he would think abortion is OK.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            That’s right. After all, aren’t women and children considered “property”?

          • entech says:

            Jon, I guess I am a bit like you in wondering what the attributes of a righteous judge might be.

            righteous adjective
            1 : morally good : following religious or moral laws
            2 : caused by something that you believe is not morally right or fair
            Merriam-Webster.

            God alone is the righteous judge.

            Going from the definition 1. the statement is somewhat tautological, if God makes the laws and defines the morality then whatever he does is good, even when it is bad.
            From definition 2. you get the righteous indignation I feel when presented with the rank hypocrisy that accompanies an attempt to justify the outright contradictions involved with a just, Omni-benevolent etc. entity saying one thing in commandments to his creation and then giving a command that counters the commandment. As an example “Thou shalt not kill/murder” and then “get out and kill all the Midianites, the men, women, children, livestock but save the nubile females”. Given the strange instructions about rape men having to pay the father for reducing the value of his daughter, could this saving of the virgins be for what an atheist might suggest is an immoral purpose.

            But then even the laws themselves are contradictory, even the repetition of the laws

            “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”
            Deuteronomy 5:9

            “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”
            Deuteronomy 24:16

            As an afterthought, I can’t see being righteous and jealous as compatible.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 2:05 “As an afterthought, I can’t see being rightous and jealous as compatible.”

            Great point, I can’t see it either. Further, it’s hard to understand how the ancient writers could make up such an absolutely dispicible character and call it “just”. The god of the Bible makes a better villian than the Satan of the Bible.

          • wolfy32 says:

            What I find interesting is that the bible and people of the christian faith, define righteousness that conveniently fit in with the beliefs of the people defining righteousness…

            So, if you don’t do and say what we say, you’re no longer righteous and fallen out of good standing with God…

            yet, everyone has free will, and the bible has several verses dedicated to not judging people…

            Judge not lest ye be judged.. (by your own standards).

            Before pointing out the splinter in your neighbor’s eye, pluck the plank from your own..

            That’s just off the top of my head. Judgement is reserved for God, yet Christians define and judge what is of God and what is not..

            Which, to me, seems pretty arrogant to think that God can be defined by it’s own followers… If there’s truly an awepowerful God… I would think it would be disgusted by being defined by Christians. Judgements abound of who’s worthy and and people define sin, not God.

            I quite honestly don’t know why the God of the universe (multiverse) would care whether I wear something purple or dance. I have a tough time believing it cares to that extent.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wolfy32 5:05 “…people of the Christian faith, define righteousness that conveniently fit in with the beliefs of the people defining righteousness.”

            Exactly the problem. Saying it in another way, it we were to start from scratch with a new religion, we would define what it means. In the case of Christianity, or Islam and many others, that was not done. If it had been done, there would not be so much freedom in how to judge others or how to conduct one’s personal life.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    Sounds like a New Atheist attack on the Old Testament. Years ago my wife and I picketed at the first Fargo abortion “clinic”. On more that one occasion I was confronted with “the God who commanded the Israelites to put to the sword the inhabitants of the land of Canaan”. Men, women, kids, babies, everyone. It amazed me how these abortion activists could be so moral when it came to ancient canaanites when just inside the “clinic” door human babies were being exterminated now. Anyone that says unborn babies are not human is being ignorant or dishonest. The moral conditions of this ancient pagan culture had similarities to America today. Whether the alter of Baal, Molech, or modern convenience:

    Child molestation, mutilation, and sacrifice by fire were pervasive, with all kinds of vile perversions and occult initiation perpetrated upon them. Basically, the longer these people remained alive, the more of their innocent victims there would be.

    Yet in Jericho, an individual – a prostitute – turned to God in faith. Her only recorded good “work” was to confirm her faith by helping the spies, in defiance of her governing king – but she was spared, along with her family. The Bible records God supernaturally preserving the portion of the wall of Jericho where she lived.

    These are difficult issues for Christian to deal with, but there are facts and answers to be found:

    http://www.amazon.com/Is-God-Moral-Monster-Testament/dp/0801072751

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig9/green-p7.1.1.html

    The God of the Old Testament is revealed in the person of the gentle Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace. You will, I believe, discover the God of ancient times to loving of all His creation as much so as today but that would take some open minded research and study on tour part.

    • entech says:

      Certainly didn’t love those Egyptians. Hardening their hearts and minds so that he could pour plague, pestilence and infanticide upon them.

      … discover the God of ancient times to loving of all His creation as much so as today but that would take some open minded research and study on tour part.
      Presuming when you say he created everything he also created the Egyptians, an act of love is to force them to refuse so that you can punish them? I have heard of tough love, but can you really have torturing, tormenting love?

      • Michael Ross says:

        Pharaoh hardened his own heart in ten passages in Gen. (7.13, 14, 22; 8.15, 19, 32; 9.7, 34, 35; 13.15)

        Not until the sixth plague was it stated that God actually moved in and hardened Pharaoh’s heart (9.12)

        Pharaoh was a ruthless dictator that oppressed over a million Israelites into slave labor to build a great temple to himself. Also a previous Pharaoh had ordered the slaughter of the firstborn of Israel.

        “For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head” (Obadiah 1:15)

  3. entech says:

    Jon, 5:59pm
    Saying it in another way, it we were to start from scratch with a new religion, we would define what it means

    This really is a problem for religions that base themselves on something else. Islam is just a mash up a plagiarism of Judaism with a special place for Jesus and Mary, they keep the virgin birth and the special place as Jesus the profit – special and chosen, even adopted but not God. The original Jesus Movement was Jewish, Paul wasn’t a Christian, Christianity came hundreds of years later. It seems to me that Marcion could see all the problems with building on a foundation that seems to have been built ad hoc, different writings for different times, written by different writers with different agendas. Marcionite churches were wide spread and serious contenders rejecting the Hebrew bible as being too cruel, the God as being to capricious, and so, ultimately rejecting the God as well. The God of Marcion and Marcion’s saviour was not the God of Abraham, but a higher God whose intention was to save humanity from the malevolent jealousy of a God intending to punish all of humanity for some imagined slight, they weren’t subservient enough, they had the audacity to seek knowledge for themselves, to think freely. So the creation attempt didn’t turn out as planned, so just like unwanted kittens, drown them all – no I am feeling spiteful today, so what I will do is save a few, kid them that they are special and then punish them forever.
    The opportunity was there to start afresh with the God of love, somehow a view arose that the saviour of Marcion was not offered up to save them from the cruel old God but was actually the son of the God. Having done that and having to justify it by saying, Jesus was always around and his manifestation was always ordained by prophecy. Of course, having made that step they were stuck with it all, after all who knew when the unbelievers might demand proof and another prophecy would have to be found.

    Young earth creationists would have it that the universe was created in seven days sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago, if as Michael says the flood was 6,500 years ago this leaves open the possibility that it was inundated before it was created, the humans turned out to be evil even before they were created.

    All this is all my own interpretation and could well be wrong, it does make more sense to me as mythology than as fact. When I say “all my own” I must acknowledge all the teachers and writers that have influenced my thoughts over the years, just as the religious must realise that much of their thought patterns were laid down when they were young and susceptible.

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