The Creative Arts Director

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TylerR's picture


This is a frightening and despicable snapshot of what "church" is like for so many Americans. I don't believe you can go to this kind of "church" and even be a Christian. How horrifying.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

JBL's picture

From the article:

Pragmatism is a philosophy that judges actions by results. It first determines what results are desirable, then assesses actions by how well they accomplish them.   AND

She wants the people in her church to enjoy the services, to find them fun, engaging, and inspirational. Any element of a service is only as good as its ability to bring about those results. 

Many of our church ministries (Sunday school, itinerant evangelist meetings, kids programs) are pragmatic in their perpetuation in the sense that they have historically gotten good results, and are still favored today.  I trust that they are still being used to bring about the results of instilling veneration and respect for the Word of God, thanksgiving for the Lord's love and grace, and fear and reverence of His character.

My point in saying this is that the philosophy of pragmatism is not in and of itself ungodly or a hindrance to true ministry.  Anyone who has had children can attest to the innovation and minute by minute resourcefulness required to lead them.  What corrupts the ministry is the result that we are expecting.


John B. Lee

Bert Perry's picture

Looking at the link, I see at least half a dozen articles where Challies says a lot of the same things--it's one of his passions, evidently.  But let's be real here; the problem here is not that people are taking reliable numbers as a measure of their ministry.  It is, rather, the same problem that thousands of churches have in programs like VBS:  they're doing all their counting of "rear ends in seats" instead of other measures which would indicate other stages of spiritual growth.  If you have a thousand conversions, but zero baptisms and zero new church members, you don't have an evangelistic event, but rather entertainment.  

It all boils down to what you measure, and whether that's important in what you're doing.  I also do not want to go to see the multimedia extravaganza at that church, but let's keep in mind why they're going wrong.  It is because they've forgotten the implications of Matthew 28.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


My predecessor at my old church sat through the VBS we put on the Summer after I got there. He didn't like it. This is an actual verbatim account of what he said to me the Sunday after VBS was over (five minutes before I began preaching, I might add!):

  • Me: Well, how do you think VBS went last week!?
  • Him: Pastor, it was a failure.
  • Me (astonished, cup of coffee frozen halfway to my mouth): I disagree!
  • Him: I know you do. But, it was a failure, The music wasn't right. You can't sign hymns during VBS. You didn't do an invitation for the kids. How are any of them going to get saved!? Nobody raised their hand for salvation!
  • Me: We preached the Gospel to the kids every evening for five days. I told them how to be saved, and asked them to talk to me or a teacher if they wanted to know more. We sent them home with tons of Gospel literature. We begged them to repent and believe. We met and gave the Gospel to all the parents. The kids had fun. On what basis is that a "failure?"
  • Him: Well . . . I guess if you put it that way, it wasn't a failure.

True transcript. This isn't a joke. It isn't just "new churches" which have the pragmatic disease.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Jim's picture

She said:

At one point she began to tell about her pastor. He is a good communicator and loves to preach, but there is a problem: while the church is getting younger, he is getting older. She isn’t sure he can be effective at his age and is kind of hoping he will move on.

I observe:

  • The world "elder" means something
  • It means "older than" / "of a greater age"
  • In an ideal world as a Christian ages physically, he matures spiritually - 2 Peter 1:4-6
  • This is seen in "He must not be a recent convert" (1 Timothy 3:6)
  • I know of cases where "older" Christians become calcified curmudgeons; but if an older man meets the bishop qualifications he ought to be respected for the years and the mileage (to quote Indiana Jones)
  • Age is not so much respected in our culture and it seems that this was the case in antiquity as reflected by these verses:
    • "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness" (Proverbs 16:31) (KJV)
    • "He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys." (2 Kings 2:22-24)

There's something about the Joshuas and Calebs (who were 40 years older than their next generation) that is absolutely vital to healthy churches! 


Dean Taylor's picture

We discussed the Challies article, along with the two linked below, in my Pastoral Theology class today. The class broke into groups, each group evaluated one of the articles, and then shared with the class the positives and negatives from each. I was encouraged to hear the students' discernment and commitment to a biblical foundation for the elements of worship and the importance of expository preaching. Good stuff.