The Woman with the Measuring Line

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I was alerted by Scott Clark's blog to a year-old article by Sally Morgenthaler in which she declares the worship-evangelism mega-church experiment, of which she was such a proponent, to be a failure.  After a generation of seeker-sensitive consumer-driven worship, the unchurched have not been reached, the megachurch has simply gathered the churched through blatant consumerism, and the overall position of the Evangelical movement in America has been greatly weakened.  She writes: "For all the money, time, and effort we've spent on cultural relevance - and that includes culturally relevant worship - it seems we came through the last 15 years with a significant net loss in churchgoers, proliferation of megachurches and all."

 

 All of this has been obvious to biblically-minded observers.  What strikes me about her article is: 1) her complete lack of repentance for the false counsel she has spread for years - the article comes across as her way of parachuting from the burning plane while preserving her status as visionary leader; 2) her continued lack of shame in employing consumer terminology, the embrace of which has produced the very situation she now laments; 3) her continued reliance on surveys and polls, with no serious appeal to God's Word for its approach to worship and ministry (guess what she now advocates, based on new surveys - the emergent movement!  What a surprise!); and 4) her complete lack of consideration of the divinely given means of grace - Word, sacrament, and prayer - for the ministry of the church.

If this represents the next wave of Evangelicalism via the emergent church, and it does seem to, then we are in for a major decline of biblical Christianity in America.  Sally Morgenthaler reminds me of the man with the measuring line in the vision of Zechariah 2, devising his worldly plans for rebuilding Jerusalem.  But God in his grace sent an angel to stop him.   The man's aspirations were too carnal and low.  Instead, God directed the church builder to his own power and glory: "I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst" (Zech. 2:5).  Would that God would send an angel to persuade the Sally Morgenthalers of our day, well intentioned as they may be just like the man in Zechariah's vision, to repent and believe in God's power through the means of grace.  Observing the wreckage of Evangelicalism that she so contributed to, she offers neither repentance nor change.  And until churches repent and place God himself at the center of our worship and ministry - replacing the idols of experience and cultural influence -  there will be no change in the fortunes of American Evangelicalism but only further spiritual and cultural decline.

Posted July 3, 2008 @ 12:50 PM by Rick Phillips
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