In Search of Foolishness

Tim Ellsworth has an intriguing post on his blog entitled, “Body Slammin’ for Jesus”. It has generated much discussion concerning the methods to which many churches are resorting to draw a crowd. This debate, which extends far beyond Tim’s blog, has risen from concerns that the way that we present the Gospel is almost as important as the message itself.

It seems that many have the philosophy, “If it adds souls to the kingdom of God, then it is ok to do it.” Another argument that is often heard is, “Paul became all things to all people”. Can I say that human logic will never prove something right when it is inconsistent with God’s Word?

Let us look at the first statement. I agree that the most valuable thing in this world is the soul of man. Jesus died to save them. He himself described the soul as being priceless. Therefore, it is important that we reach them. The question is, does it really matter what method we use as long as we preach the message? I say it does. Flawed methods will produce flawed results. Many claim that they are not diluting the message, but in reality, many of the numbers who are claimed to have been “saved” through questionable methods do not demonstrate a changed life, often are never seen in church again, and if they are, it is only because another gimmick is being presented.

I realize that I am painting with a broad brush here. Not every method is flawed. There is nothing wrong with being creative in presenting the Gospel. But we should be very cautious about operating under the philosophy that the end justifies the means.

My favorite evangelist, Junior Hill, preached a great message once called, “In Search of Foolishness”, from I Corinthians 1. Allow me to share the main points of that sermon.

1. God Uses a Foolish Message.

I Corinthians 1:18, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.

God never commands us to make the message appealing. We are simply to exalt Christ and preach the Gospel to every creature. Some will be drawn to Christ, many will be indifferent, some will be downright offended.

2. God Uses a Foolish Method.

I Corinthians 1:21, For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

It is true that there are many ways of sharing the Gospel, but nothing will ever take the place of the servant of God, standing with the anointing of God and preaching the Word of God. Preaching declares the truth and demands a personal verdict from everyone who hears it. Entertainment becomes a matter of taste. Preaching is a matter of eternity.

3. God Uses Foolish Men.

I Corinthians 1:26-27 For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called:but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.

Is it possible that too many in the church have become respecters of men more than respecters of God? That they fear the personal rejection that they may experience if they do not appear wise, wealthy, powerful and noble to the world?

Again, there is nothing wrong with being creative in our presentation. But let us give great care to make sure that our method does not cheapen the value of that for which Jesus paid the highest price.


12 responses to “In Search of Foolishness

  1. Gordon-
    From the little we’ve corresonded (do blog posts count as correspondence?), I’m convinced that we agree about way more than we disagree about. I believe in an inspired message, but I don’t believe in inspired methods of gaining an audience to hear it. I (very respectfully) agree with your self-assessment of painting with too broad a stroke here, brother. We can insist on seeking to solely gain an audience like churches did in the 1950’s if we want to (if we just announce our services enough, people will come). But I believe that we would do that to our peril.

  2. Bro. Tony, thanks for your comments. I do not mean to imply that we must never change our methods, but my point is that many methods (albeit with good intentions) sell short the power of the gospel.

    I appreciate your gracious spirit.

  3. Hi Gordon, thanks for coming to my blog. I agree with what you said as well. You said pretty much all that needs to be said about it. The church should not resort to trying to look like the world just to get there attention.

  4. Bro. Gordon –

    In the words of Red Green (PBS’s “The Red Green Show”), “I’m pulling for you….we’re all in this together”. Peace

  5. Hi Gordon-
    I agree with you that we should not cheapen the value of that for which Jesus paid the highest price. I think methods used in Church should be to give Glory to God and it should be based on the bible. I have been reading Purpose Driven Life and it somewhat talks about that, not exactly Church but smaller fellowships like bible studies, but either way it should include these nine characteristics authenticity(sharing true feelings, mutality(encouraging eachother,sympathy(supporting eachother, mercy(forgiving eachother, honesty(speaking the truth in love), humility(admitting our weaknesses, courtesy(respecting our differences), confidentiality(no gossip) and frquency(make the group a priority)I think this would make for a great group! Thanks for coming to my blog, come again!
    God Bless u!

  6. It seems to me that many people are so uptight about the world getting into the church that they don’t get into the world. My witness has always been that I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m not better, less, or different than anyone else. I make mistakes. I live in a world of sin and sometime’s I sin boldly but God does not love me any less and He won’t love me any more if I never made a mistake again. That’s my message. Jesus love’s you just the way you are, he simply want’s you to love Him back. It’s not tradition that save’s people. There’s nothing new going to save people. It’s JESUS! Present the message and let Jesus worry about the rest. All the discusion about the message is only confussing those who don’t know it.

  7. Sheenabean–thanks for stopping by with the encouraging comments.

    Michael–good to hear from you. The problem that we are dealing with here is that churches are attempting to build up numbers through entertainment. In pursuing this goal, they often are presenting the gospel through means that are secular. There are times when this methodology does not maintain integrity to the truth of the Gospel. When this happens, the message is hidden, and if our Gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost.

  8. Building up numbers and getting people saved are two different things. Of course nobody is getting saved if it’s a numbers game. The gospel is offensive. Jesus tells us in the parable of the seeds that 3 out of 4 people who hear the gospel won’t produce fruit. I perfectly understand why a church that is concerned with numbers would hide the gospel. It might convict people and those people might not come back.

  9. Gordon, Enjoyed your comments very much and I think we are in basic agreement. I am at a lose to explain why churches are so eager after ‘numbers’? Christ’s emphasis seemed to be on quality not quanity. Not slight on Bro. Tony, but I grew up in churches “in the 1950’s” and don’t recall that as their attitude at all. It was more: Live before the world around us as Christ commands and they will come to seek the same for theirselves. God bless.

  10. Earl, thanks for stopping by. In all actuality, I believe my suggestions predate the 1950’s by about 1900 years. (I say that tongue in cheek–dissenters, please don’t label me as arrogant).

  11. Hi Gordon,

    Great blog…and good discussion here!–>

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