Sunday services feel like rock concerts, church auditoriums accompanied by coffee bars, video games incorporated in Sunday school, Instagram preachers, and revival meetings look like raves. Church attendance is rising, one has to wonder, is this for Christ or entertainment? It seems the body of believers has lost focus on Christ. Postmodern Christianity has ignited many millennials with the power of the gospel, however, tends to lead to the idea that any person who exalts the name of God from a platform is speaking the undeniable truth. Postmodern believers have naively accepted trendy messages that modern church leaders are spreading.
Modern church leaders are not different from leaders in the secular realm, there is no distinction between the two. In nearly every bookstore across America, there is a ‘spiritual’ section. This section will have books by various writers, preachers, and singers who are considered leaders, with books in biblical perspective that span from marriage and family to hunting and voting. These books are not wrong, they only become an issue when a believer takes every written word as absolute truth. Lakewood Community Church based in Houston Texas has a congregation of over 47,000. Pastor Joel Osteen is well known across America, as an author and television preacher. People Magazine interviewed the Osteen family and deduced that Joel Osteen, “ a bible college dropout with great hair and even better teeth, he could have been a fine TV weatherman.” Instead, Joel took over his father’s Houston ministry, he has erupted into a superstar of postmodern Christianity. His latest book received a thirteen million dollar advance from Free Press publishing company. “I don’t know if it bothers me, but my whole heart is to help people and empower them to rise higher. I don’t think everyone is necessarily going to have a book deal. But I do think God wants us to be blessed,” says Osteen, “I don’t want to sound naïve, but I was never in it for the money,” he adds. Looking at Lakewood Church from the outside in one would clearly see they have misplaced priorities. We must not forget the words of Paul to Timothy “Preach the word; be instant in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2(KJV). Joel is focused on making his followers feel good, writing books with titles like It’s Your Time, You Can You Will, and Your Best Life Now. This leadership leaves followers spiritually weak and self-focused, which is no different from those of the secular realm.
In addition, Tim Tebow, a well-known athlete who constantly magnifies the name of God, had this to say in his newly published book, This is the Day. “Make today count, you must pursue the purpose that God has for you. The God of the universe has a purpose and plan for you and He is not waiting for one day, He is starting this day.” This statement by itself is powerful, however, when a believer takes this as God-given truth, errors occur. It would appear a church leader can say and do whatever they want without any scripture backing, and no repercussion will follow. A Christian leadership book printed in 1999 called Servants not Celebrities by Nelson Price writes this about best-seller books. “Books by human authors have there day and fade. Few last long on the ‘best-seller’ list. ”The many books that flood the spiritual section of the book story will fade from the spotlight but the message of the gospel and word of God will last forever. Leaders in the modern church are no different from leaders in the secular realm.
Church leaders are no different from those in the secular realm, these leaders are spreading heresy. Heresy as defined by T. S. Eliot in his book Christian and Culture, “heresy is often defined as an insistence upon half of the truth, by reducing it to the limits of our ordinary understanding, instead of enlarging our reason to the apprehension of truth.” Modern leaders like Beth Moore are distorting and reducing biblical truths. In a sermon at a very prominent conference, Beth Moore says this in regards to spiritual battles. “The fight we are facing is false doctrine. There is a powerful fight of good and evil, what the enemy is doing is getting us busy fighting each other. In the body of Christ, we should be focused on fighting the darkness around us. There are three-hundred different interpretations of Christianity, the Bible, and doctrinal beliefs. We should not stand up to any of them, we need to have unity in the church once again. ”Beth took the idea of false doctrine and twisted it to excuse various denominations from biblical misinterpretations. One of the most unsettling occurrences in the modern church is that of heresy when believers lose focus of the Word and give ear to the twisting of the truth, corruption slowly sets in. Many modern leaders are spreading heresy in the church of believers.
Modern leaders have a desire to update the Bible this is one of the many modern trends that have spread throughout American Christianity. As a result, many popular translations of the Word have produced aesthetically pleasing bibles with pictures throughout. She reads the truth, a specific business dedicated to updating and improving the word of God to appeal the modern reader, has created a picture book specifically for sharing the gospel. This is the item description of this picture book: “The gospel is the good news of what Jesus Christ has done to restore broken creation and sinful people to their holy Creator. These illustrations represent the gospel in four parts: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Our in-house artist, Emily Knapp, created them to show the progression of our journey with Christ, a journey that is both a shared experience for believers throughout history and unique in each of our lives. The branch for redemption is our favorite, which uses a bandage to represent the grafting of our lives to new life in Christ.” This is not necessarily a description, and making a product like this is not biblically incorrect, however, one must to careful to only rely on these simplified versions of God’s Word. The modern desire to make the bible seem more appealing demonstrates the Christians cultural craving in search of the next better and better and best.
Additionally, the bible has been held to such an esteem in the past, however, modern Americans are driven by a consumer mentality. As the Reformation was unfolding in Europe, John Wesley, an influential leader of the European Church, recorded his thoughts towards the Bible. “I am a Bible bigot. I follow it in all things both large and small.” The desire to update the Word of God leads one to think that previous versions are not up to pair. In Price’s book, he explains that, there is an old Cherokee legend, years ago Cherokee Indians stole seven fifty-pound bars of gold for the government. This gold has never been found, if this gold were valued at $700 an ounce, the price of the gold bars stolen by the Cherokee would be $3,920,000. Even greater than this is the value of the Word of God. “More to be desired…than gold,” the Bible proclaims “more than much fine gold.” Gold can only give earthly value but the Bible gives meaning to a greater life. The American Christian trend of updating the Bible has led to a consumer-driven mentality, with the Holy Word of God.
Second, post modern leaders are pushing believers to the watered down truths of modern social trends. The modern global church is not focused on finding authentic Christian leaders but more interested in what/who is going to make the most money. Leslie Ludy an author, blog writer, and founder of Setapartgirl magazine had this to say about her personal experience as a Christian leader:
I received a letter from my publisher asking me to endorse this new writer, throughout this letter the publisher only spoke of the writers’ online presence. She told me how many likes and followers the writer had but failed to speak of this writers character or testimony. The publisher told me they have lots of social media presence so they must have something important to say. Isaiah 59:14 warns of this occurrence by saying “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Leslie’s publisher was clearly not seeking a good biblical leader to shepherd the church of believers. Modern leaders
Post-modern believers tend to look to various social media outlets as a source of daily Bible reading, rather than the never failing word of God. Leslie Ludy addresses this problem with this statement, “Be watchful of having only a social media diet. This means only getting your daily Bible reading from different social media outlets. These usually consist of a devotional excerpt, modern messages, and little bits of scripture scattered throughout. ”The modern idea has formed that says as long as I am trying to think on spiritual things at some point during the day then I am worshiping God. Pastoral staff will even encourage young college students to not worry about reading the bible daily if one listens to a good modern Christian song on the radio before work that is just as good as spending fifteen minutes in prayer and Bible reading. Leslie goes on to encourage her readers in discernment by stating “You must learn to reject messages that draw you away from the Lord and willingly accept messages that draw you closer to Him. Do not allow the church to feed your consumer mentality, this will fog the simplicity of the gospel. When attending church we should focus on the glory of God, not the next trendy thing you are able to get out of the church” The American believer is easily susceptible to the trendy watered down messages that make the listener feel good but will not affect a heart change.
Finally, post-modern believers are opening claiming Jesus when convenient, rather than those of the past, who claimed Christ no matter the cost. American Christianity’s watered down messages believers do not claim Christ in difficult situations like the past heroes of the faith. Richard Wurmbrand a devout man of faith records this in his autobiography, “Tortured for Christ” “A man only believes not what he recites in a creed but only the things he is ready to die for” Richard and his wife were present at a communist meeting of over four-thousand church leaders in Romania during the beginning stages of Stalin’s reign. These preachers, bishops, clergy, and decans, chose Joseph Stalin to lead the church. This is the same Stalin who founded the Movement of Godless and would later murder millions of Christians. Richard’s wife looked at him and said, “stand up and wash away the shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.” Richard hesitated not knowing what may happen if he were to stand against Stalin. He said, “You may lose your husband,” and his faithful wife reminded him, “I do not wish to have a coward as a husband.” What a remarkable example of taking a stand for Christ despite the cost. Believers in the past willingly took a stand for Christ despite the cost
There is a desire among modern believers to ignite another Great Awakening in the American church. Together movement attempted this by meeting at the Texas NASCAR speedway in Houston on October 2, 2018. Together had over twenty thousand people in attendance and more than fifteen well known modern church leaders were invited to speak and sing for this free event. The manifesto on this website is as follows, “Something needs to shift…In the middle of you/me/us/them stands Jesus. He was snubbed by politicians and the religious. He drew the ordinary, the misfit, the freedom-craver, calling all into…action….Away from walls that isolate, toward Jesus and the world around….” Along with this charge were photos of popular secular television shows and images of raves depicting this event. Can one truth glorify God and experience revival, when onlookers cannot tell the difference between a rock concert and a church event? Modern believers only claim Christ when convenient, rather than following the examples of past church leaders and claiming Christ regardless of the price.
Naively post-modern believers have accepted trendy messages the modern church leaders spread. When seeking counsel from leaders remember they fade, but God and his word remains’ forever. Instagram posts, sermons, podcasts, and Christian songs, while helpful, are the words of a human author; Scripture is the holy inspired Word of God Almighty. Seek truth from God and the Bible before turning to a pastor or highly praised Christian for guidance. Church leaders hold an important place in the body of believers and are not to be overlooked however, when placed as a greater importance than Scripture or God, the church and body will fail.
Beth Moore,”Captivating the Mind,” Passion Conference 2011, Houston Texas, March 15,2011, video sermon, https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Training.
Eliot,T.S. Christian and Culture. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace & Company,1948.
Hall,Nick. “Together2018” Together generation. September 1,2017.
Ludy, Leslie. “Are You a Gullible Woman?” Set apart girl. September 5,2018. http://setapartgirl.com/podcasts/are-you-a-gullible-woman.
Myers,Raechel. “AboutShereadstruth.” She reads truth. July 6,2016. http://shereadstruth.com/about/.
Patrick,Rogers and Vickie,Bane.”Joel Osteen Counts His Blessings.” People Magazine, vol.68 no.25(December, 2007): https://people.com/archive/-vol-68-no-25/.
Price, N. Servants, Not Celebrities. Greenville, SC: Emerald House Group, 1999.
Tebow, Tim. This is the Day. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbook Co., 2018.
Wurmbrand, Richard. Tortured for Christ. 30th anniversary ed. Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Book Co., 1998.