Worldly thinking has led countless churches to avoid many truths of scripture lest they offend non-believing visitors. And when the churches grow to serve the larger numbers they get caught in a trap of their own making. If they shift to focus on the entire Bible, they will lose members. Then they won’t be able to keep the doors open. That forces them to rationalize continued diluted or false messages.
The Bible teaches that we should not use trickery to share the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-6 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
Sadly, many churches water down the Gospel to avoid offending people. They just want to get them in the door and plan to get around to the whole truth later.
Of course, we don’t want to add to the offense of the Gospel, but we shouldn’t distort it to avoid the legitimate offense.
But as bad as the bait & switch strategy is, the bigger problem is that the churches using this strategy forgot to make the switch. And they used the bait for so long that they now think that is all they need to do. They never get around to sharing the whole Gospel. If your message never offends (in the appropriate Biblical sense) then you are preaching the wrong message (Hello, is Joel there?).
We shouldn’t dilute the message just to grow the numbers. Hey, if youth groups offered free beer & p*rnography that would probably increase attendance, but are those the numbers that count?
And consider the mainline churches that continue to see declining figures. The more “inclusive” they are the smaller they get. They offend the world less, I suppose, but they have nothing left to offer the world, either.
I think it exhibits a lack of faith when we don’t trust God enough to preach his word in an undiluted fashion. Does He really need us to edit it for him?
Consider this from a friend’s Facebook page:
The greatest revival in history took place among the most wicked people in history- the Ninevites. The message they heard was destruction was coming in forty days. Jonah impacted the whole city with this message and they responded by repenting. He had mega growth (in less than 40 days) without using mega growth methods. Here is a biblical model that worked with no problems -100% response. Jonah didn’t want to see these results but God did. Unless we learn the principle that God has not called us to be a success, but to be faithful to his message we will never learn the real meaning of our being God’s servants.
That can’t be right. What the people need is theater-style seating, entertainment and to be told how swell they are.
It is sad that people just think of the great fish when they think of Jonah, but there is so much more to that book. A reluctant preacher saying the real words of God means infinitely more than man’s “wisdom” in how to reach people. No props, no gimmicks, no pandering, no appealing to people’s “felt needs” (unless that it is the felt need to be forgiven of one’s sins against a perfect and holy God).
Don’t distort the Gospel in an attempt to gain the whole world yet forfeit your soul.