What kind of church is this anyhow?
Adventure is a non-denominational, purpose-driven collection of individuals from diverse backgrounds, who have chosen to use the Bible alone as our rule of faith and practice. In our application of Biblical principles, and of reaching those who don’t know Christ, we’ve chosen to use a non-traditional style of worship. You might also call us “seeker-sensitive” in that we want to partner with those who are seeking God and keep in mind their needs and questions in order to assist them in their search for the God who is also seeking them. (Many people don’t understand the term seeker-sensitive and attribute to it all kinds of heresy and compromise, but, in our case, at least, those accusations will never be true.)
In a nutshell, this means we’ve chosen to use the contemporary style of music, arts, and communication technology to relate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and relevant way to our friends, neighbors, and families.
This style of worship and ministry may not be for everyone. That’s okay. There are plenty of other great congregations where those people can attend locally. In the meantime, we don’t intend to debate this philosophy with anyone. People accept it and join in, or reject it and move on with our blessing. We have a mission. We’re following the admonition of the Apostle Paul from 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV) when he said, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
We also take seriously his words from 2 Corinthians 6:3-11 (NLT), “We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind…We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have faithfully preached the truth. God’s power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are well known, but we are treated as unknown…Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. Oh, dear…friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you.”
Who Can Participate In The Lord’s Supper?
We realize that many people have had experiences with churches who restricted who could or could not participate in communion. Some limit it to only people from their denomination. Others limit it to people of a certain age or who have met certain requirements or taken certain classes. Some have even gone so far as to say that if you share in communion from a denomination other than theirs, you are sinning. Let’s do a quick study:
1 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NASB77) – For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.
First of all, the Bible refers to it as The Lord’s Supper. It was instituted by Him and belongs exclusively to Him. It doesn’t belong to the Lutherans or the Catholics or Adventure or any group. No group has the right to assert ownership. It’s His and He alone sets the rules. (Verses 23-26)
Secondly, Scripture doesn’t limit who may participate, but suggests that those who do not believe and follow Christ do not benefit from it, and that those who claim to believe in and follow Christ who do not live according to Christ’s principles may be disciplined (in this life) by the Lord for disrespecting what the Lord’s Supper represents. (Verses 27-32)
Thirdly, we are not to judge each other in regards to the Lord’s Supper. We are only to examine ourselves. (Verses 28-29)
How is one to participate in the Lord’s Supper correctly? It’s a time of introspection and examination. That’s why we offer it at the end of each worship service: It’s the spiritual climax to our time of praise and learning. It’s the time where many more traditional church offer what they call “the invitation hymn.” It’s a time of contemplating what we’ve learned, measuring ourselves against what God expects of us, and reflecting on what Jesus has done on our behalf to help us to grow and honor God in every aspect of our lives. In essence, it should be a time of conviction, asking for forgiveness, following it up with a change of behavior (repentance), and a renewed commitment to honor God with out hearts AND actions (the two cannot be separated—one without the other is dead).
Should you participate in the Lord’s Supper? That’s for you to examine and determine about you.
What about baptism?
Because man, for a variety of imperfect reasons, has chosen to alter the biblical precedent for baptism, there is often a lot of confusion on this subject. What we need to do is go back to Scripture and see what Scripture — rather than man-made tradition — teaches. Scripture is our rule of faith and practice. It is the ultimate authority for what we do, so let’s see what Scripture, rather than man, says about this subject…
What baptism is…
• Baptism is immersion in water in submission to the authority of Jesus Christ. It’s an act of obedience, by someone old enough to understand the concept of obedience, committing one to a life of obedience.
• Baptism is a command to be obeyed — Matthew 28:18-20
• Baptism symbolizes the cleansing from sin, a washing away of the old — Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16
• Baptism symbolizes the new birth by which one becomes a new creature in Christ. It symbolizes the beginning of the new life — John 3:1-4; 1 Peter 2:21; 2 Corinthians 12:13
• Baptism is the act which initiates the Christian into fellowship — Acts 2:36-41; 1 Corinthians 12:13
• Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and also of the Christian, the new convert — Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12
What baptism/immersion is not…
• It’s not a guarantee of Heaven. If there is no faith and repentance, a baptism is invalid — Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s not proof to a congregation of the genuineness of a convert’s faith. It is proof only to God who knows the heart and motives of the person.
Don’t non-traditional congregations just major in entertainment?
It’s interesting that this same misperception seems to have followed Jesus through His earthly ministry! Because Jesus chose to cut away the man-made traditions and worship style tastes of a former generation, those who did not understand Him asserted themselves and accused Him saying, in John 7:34 (NLT), “He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!”
They accused Him of being shallow and irreligious because they perceived Him to be into entertaining people: He frequently chose to eat and drink with sinners; there was always a crowd around Him; He chose to use the popular and contemporary teaching method of telling stories; He healed people; and He even miraculously fed more than one large group.
So, was Jesus into entertainment? On the contrary, He was into relating to people and helping them see their need for God.
While the religious hypocrites were busy accusing Jesus and pointing fingers at His methods, the Gospel of Mark records in Mark 6:34 (Msg), “When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke — like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.”
There were always crowds around Jesus, and there is no doubt — human nature being what it is — that many came to see Jesus because He was “the only thing happening” in town on that day. And even though they came to watch Him out of curiosity, because of that curiosity, many were touched and found God despite their original flawed motivation. In other words: Jesus touched them despite their less-than-spiritual motivation.
That’s also the goal we choose to emulate: We wanna touch people despite their imperfect motives for seeking God. To do that, we need to get their attention. Once we have their attention, we can point them to Truth.
We make no apology in this regard: We wanna reach adults who are 18-39 years of age. If they’re single, we wanna reach them and their friends. If they’re married, we wanna reach them and their families.
For the people we’re trying to reach in the neighborhoods of the Quad Cities America and the surrounding region, we believe this is most effectively accomplished through the use of current music, attention grabbing arts and multi-media, communication technology, and anything else we can use to reinforce anointed biblical teaching. We again choose to follow the Apostle Paul’s example from 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NIV), “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
Don’t non-traditional congregations water down the Gospel?
This is probably the single most important myth about congregations who use a non-traditional style of worship and ministry, and — if it were true — the most damning accusation. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 1:8-9 (NLT), “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.”
This is a strong warning about a grave issue. Scripture does not mince words for anyone claiming to be a preacher of the Gospel but who meddles with the message or seeks to “tickle itching ears.”
Adventure’s mission statement (See page 6) stands as a reminder to us all that we’re committed to the absolute truth of the Gospel and the accurate teaching of and application of God’s Word.
The challenge for each of us, as stated in Adventure’s Core Values (See page 8) is to be “culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure.” In other words, to be faithful to the teachings of 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NLT), “When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings.”
Here’s what Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg say about this issue on page 209 of their book, Becoming a Contagious Christian: “Contagious churches have learned that they must communicate to their culture without compromising with their culture. They know that if the message of the cross of Christ is ever diluted or hidden, then the battle has already been lost. What good is it to speak the language of secular people if we lose our message in the process.” THAT is the challenge — to avoid the pitfalls of isolationism and irrelevance on the one hand, where we’re as useless as salt trapped in a saltshaker, and of liberalism on the other hand, where we’re like salt that’s lost its savor because we’ve forgotten what to say.
Instead, we wanna be robust Christians who know what our message is and are willing not to only stand up for that message, but also to do the hard work of figuring out how to best communicate it to the lost men and women who so desperately need to hear it!
And when we scan the landscape of what’s happening in the core of growing and thriving congregations all over the world, here’s the pattern we see:
• A bold proclamation of the Gospel.
• Clear biblical teaching.
• The fruit of transformed lives and families.
To any congregation anywhere that has started giving into the temptation to soften its message — even a little — in hope of gaining acceptance and admiration from an irreligious audience: We urge you to stop immediately! To continue down that path would be to compromise with the culture and forget the mission Jesus gave us.
After Paul gave his warning in Galatians 1:8-9 (NLT), he concluded with these words (in verse 10), “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
We believe this warning also applies to those who would, on behalf of men, defend as godly doctrines the man-made traditions (worship format), tastes (eg – music style), opinions (eg – dress codes), and organizational comfort (political hierarchies) of believers.
We have a mandate to preach the unadulterated message of the shed blood of Jesus Christ — whether people like it or not. And here’s the ironic thing: genuine “seekers of truth” are looking for a leader and a congregation who has the guts to look them in the eye and tell them the truth about their spiritual predicament and point them toward the only One who can help…Jesus Christ. We’re striving to be that congregation, faithful to God, winning the lost, and presenting the full Gospel and teachings of Christ without shame or fear.
Don’t non-traditional congregations shy away from hard biblical teachings?
Not this one. In fact, you’ll find Adventure frequently and boldly teaches on subjects than many other congregations fear to approach: God’s Judgment, Hell, sin, Jesus as the ONLY way to God, pornography, substance abuse, abortion, the destructive nature of sexual sins, sexual intimacy, the authority of the Bible —and many other topics.
In an October 1997 phone survey in which Pastor Tony contacted 100 Davenport people who did not attend church regularly (this only took around 139 phone calls), he learned that 83% believed that church was “impractical,” “irrelevant,” “boring,” or “just after money.” The other 17% essentially said that church simply did not interest them or that they’d given it little or no thought. The real shocker is that nearly all of these folks still claimed to believe in God!
The three most interesting aspects of this (admittedly) unscientific survey were:
1. The strong perception among these unchurched people that the church wanted to give them answers rather that teach them to find answers.
2. The strong perception among these unchurched people that the church wanted to answer questions no one was asking while shying away from the real questions about God, the Bible, Christian life, and morality.
3. While they didn’t “do church”, they still claimed a belief in God and a desire to know Him!
It was Jesus, Himself, who said in John 8:32 (NLT), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Aren’t non-traditional congregations “market-driven”? Don’t they just give people what they want?
No. When Tony and Steph first arrived on the scene, using the Davenport telephone directory, Tony made random phone calls until he had surveyed 100 people who did not regularly attend church. Admittedly, it wasn’t a scientific survey. It was simply a matter of taking random telephone numbers — beginning with 4 random listings from each letter of the alphabet in the residence pages — and asking people if they regularly attended church anywhere. He did this until he’d made 100 unchurched contacts.
The survey itself was simple in design and content: Those who said they did attend church were thanked for their time and the call was immediately concluded.
Of those who confessed they did not attend regularly, he simply asked why they didn’t go to church. Some might incorrectly conclude this survey was to help him know what the church should and should not teach — but nothing could be farther from the truth!
Adventure has been founded by godly people who have been boldly teaching from the Bible and letting it — as God’s Word — be the sole source of authority. As they embarked on giving birth to this ministry, this survey simply helped them understand the unnecessary barriers keeping people from attending church. They suspected — and the data supported their suspicion: nearly all the barriers keeping people from attending church were man-made. In other words, the barriers were actually traditions and practices not specifically mandated by Scripture — they were things added by man, not commanded by God!
So when people told him they didn’t go to church because (in their words) it was “boring,” “predictable,” “irrelevant,” and “money-grubbing,” it was very clear that none of those barriers were biblically mandated! These were negotiable things that could be changed or eliminated for the sake of lost people who matter deeply to God — for the purpose of reaching them with the non-negotiable teaching of the Bible.
From the beginning, Adventure and its leaders have strived to remove every offense possible, except for the offense of the cross. If people don’t wanna hear about the cross (and many don’t, just as Scripture predicts!), Adventure will still continue to preach Christ crucified and resurrected, praying God will draw these people to Himself and give them new hearts.
The question for believers then is this: Are you willing to give up some of your own personal tastes and opinions in style or music or dress code — or whatever — for the sake of reaching people for Christ? If not, then you’ve made a very serious decision to place your own comfort and wisdom as a higher priority than obedience to God’s Word and the eternal souls of other men and women for whom Christ died — and you’re more than willing to tell them to “Go to Hell” than to change your own non-essential comfort zone. Be advised: THAT is an attitude that will never be tolerated at Adventure and that God promises to punish.
Aren’t non-traditional congregations more concerned about pop-psychology and therapy than sin and repentance?
Adventure’s message will always be crystal clear and uncompromised: We are sinners in desperate need of a Savior, and salvation is available only through Christ.
There’s never been any confusion or ambiguity about this. For example, here’s an excerpt from one of Pastor Tony’s Sunday morning teachings:
“Yeah, sure, there all kinds of self-help, self-improvement, and recovery programs out there. You can go to special counselors or weekend retreats or workshops. You can do survival courses, climb ropes, raft impossible rivers, jump out of airplanes, and live in jungles. You can do all the Tai Chi or Yoga or exercise you want and eat every vegetable known to mankind. You can build Habitat Houses and raise funds for your kids’ school. You can win neighbor of the year and pay your taxes on time. You can write out your life mission statement and keep a working priority list, but folks, through all of this self-improvement and positive visualization and confidence building, can you change the composition of the human heart? No. That’s why the struggle remains. The Bible says it isn’t through education or giving away all your money to charities or volunteering all your spare time or taking self-help courses that you straighten out the condition of your life. Human beings, the Bible says, are helpless in overcoming the terminal condition of sin, but there is a remedy. There is a cure…but there is only One — and that’s the remedy found on the cross of Jesus.”
While the Adventure leadership team has said and will continue to say, when appropriate, that people with certain struggles would benefit from visiting with a godly, Christ-honoring, Bible-believing counselor, this has never been — nor will it ever be — presented as a substitute for acknowledging sin, personally repenting, and trusting Christ for His forgiveness and leadership. In fact, you’ll find we believe many “psychological problems” today are the result of sin, and while a wise and godly counselor may help one recover and rebuild, to a certain degree, from those struggles, the key to genuine recovery is the forgiveness and peace of mind one can know only through Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is the sole foundation upon which successful recovery can be built.
The best personal improvement course you’ll ever take is entered through the grace of Jesus Christ and completed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
That’s why the primary method of teaching on Sundays at Adventure is the “How to” type of lesson — not how to do it yourself, but how God’s Word says to do it.
Receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the biggest step you can take in growing toward what God created you to become, and that biggest step begins not with psychology and therapy, but with admitting sin and helplessness, and confessing it and receiving forgiveness for it. From the very first step, God’s Word says, “Here’s how to really recover.”
Don’t non-traditional congregations downplay the holiness of God?
While we avoid a lot of high-sounding $64 theological words from a liturgical/theological vocabulary, we in no way down-play the holiness of God.
Adventure’s teaching and ministry is designed to communicate Christ-following to unchurched people, therefore, its speakers typically translate Bible terminology into language that seekers can understand and use.
For example, the word “holy” often isn’t understood in our current culture, so as Tony has taught publicly:
“The moment I exhale my last breath in this life and I stand before God, the shortest debate in the history of the universe is gonna be whether or not I, Anthony Mark Liston, am a sinner. I am a sinner. I had a pretty self-righteous pastor ask me one time, ‘Do you practice sin?’ I told him, ‘No, I don’t practice sin. I’m good enough at it that I don’t need to practice!’ I am a sinner, and so are you. One heartbeat in the presence of God will make that undeniably, undebatably clear: we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard.”
While the word “holy” wasn’t used, the concept of God’s holiness — that our sin stands out in grossly stark contrast to His perfection — has been communicated in a way that any unchurched person can understand.
The point is this: the concept was clearly communicated without the use of often misunderstood religious-sounding words.
Australian missionary Alan Walker put it this way: “An idolatry of words has grown up in [the church]. There are many people who, if they fail to hear the repetition of phrases and words with which they are familiar, make the sometimes absurd claim that the Gospel is not being preached.”
The concept of God’s holiness and its implications for us are consistently talked about at Adventure. Bill Hybels of Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church says it best on page 91 of his book “The God You’re Looking For,” which grew out of his teaching at services which were created especially for non-Christians. This is a great example of teaching the holiness of God while using words even unchurched people can understand:
We compare ourselves to Chicago politicians, rapists, and murderers, and reason that we look holy in comparison, but when we do that, we’re using the wrong yardstick. We don’t have a clue about how holy, how righteous, and how impossibly high God’s standard is. When we walk into the blazing presence of God…we’ll realize our holiness worked fine in the church leagues, but it can’t come close to making it in heaven! Righteousness — true, God-birthed, God-breathed, God-given righteousness — is completely misunderstood by our culture today. Of all the things we lack about God and His identity, this may be the worst ignorance on our part.”
The reality is that if people don’t understand the words we use, then the message is lost. Jesus came and communicated with us in words — not all the high-sounding impressive words of the Book of Leviticus which He came to fulfill — but in the gentle, common words of a story teller who talked not of abstract concepts, but of hungering and thirsting, of a man and his plow, or a father and his sons.
Yes, God is holy. And He is too holy for us to confuse (with words) the very people He came to cover with His holiness.
Don’t non-traditional congregations downplay grace and over-state what humans can do—including seeking God?
Let’s make no apology and let’s be crystal clear: Anyone who is really seeking God is doing so because the Holy Spirit is already acting upon his life. All genuine seeking is a response to God’s activity. And when a person finally does come to the point of trusting Christ, that is not a religious work and they do not have anything to brag about. As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT), “God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
In other words, they’ve simply yielded to His Spirit and received His free gift of salvation. This often leads to the question of how broadly God’s Spirit is working and drawing people: Is the invitation genuinely open to every person, with some accepting it and others rejecting it, or is it effectively open only to those of God’s choosing?
There are many people who fall on both sides of that debate. At Adventure, we believe the key issue is that we all need to do our part in making the message clear and accessible to everyone we possibly can, trusting God to do His part in drawing people and changing hearts
Don’t non-traditional churches downplay evangelism because they don’t offer the traditional “invitation hymn” or “altar call” at every service?
At Adventure, Christianity is defined and defended on a weekly basis. On a regular, consistent basis, the Gospel is spelled out with great clarity and people called to repentance and faith. Inevitably, some well-meaning person will challenge us with: “This may be the only opportunity you’ll get with many of these people, so you’d better challenge them to respond publicly every week!”
We respect this concern and wrestle with trying to understand God’s Word and wisdom on this. We wanna help as many people as possible come to Christ as soon as possible. And if we were convinced that a Gospel presentation and altar call every week was the most effective approach for the kinds of people we’re trying to reach, we’d be doing it! For that matter, we’d do it ten times a service if that was the way God seemed to be leading! But that’s not the case. We feel there’s a danger in the “more is always better” philosophy. Both on a personal and a church-wide level, we fear that, for secular people, hitting them with the message and a strong “massed call” to commitment too often will be one of the quickest ways of losing our chance to influence them for Christ! In other words, the fear that “you might only get one chance” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if it leads you to push people too hard when they are not ready.
We want, as the Bible tells us in Colossians 4:5, to make the most of every opportunity. That doesn’t mean having a certain song or public response time for inviting people to Christ at every one of Adventure’s events, especially when you remember:
– The Bible is consistently being shown to be relevant to everyday life and defended as the only reliable source of truth.
– Most seekers come on the arms of believers who can personally respond to their questions and encourage them in their spiritual journey toward Christ. (At Adventure, 76.6% of all first time guests come at the invitation of a friend already at Adventure!)
– People are told each week how they can meet personally with someone after the service if they would like further information about Christ. In addition, each attender is given a communication card on which they can ask for personal assistance in finding out how to become a Christ-follower or to get answers to their spiritual questions.
– Teaching is generally done in the form of a series. This encourages people to return week after week and to study on their own. The Gospel is frequently presented during this time and people are called to commit their lives to Christ.
Adventure tries to surround and influence seekers with the Gospel message in every way possible: from the relationships formed with Adventurers and the words spoken between them as friends, to the teaching and encouragement available through our variety of small groups, to the lyrics of our music and the impact of multi-media, to the testimonies and lives of our leaders, to the illustrations in our messages, to the explicit presentations at our special events.
The Gospel is woven in and through every aspect of ministry at Adventure. Perfectly? Of course not. Biblically and effectively? As Jesus said, “Judge by the fruit that’s being born: once-irreligious people are now becoming increasingly devoted followers of Christ.” And by God’s grace, even more will come!
We must be cautious in criticizing how others do outreach: reaching all kinds of people requires a variety of styles of evangelism. The message must stay the same, but the methods and style of communicating it will vary greatly.
As you study the methods of Jesus, you will see that His style depended on who He was trying to reach: to one He said, “Let’s have supper” (Luke 19:5), to another He said, “Sell everything you have and give it all to the poor” (Matthew 19:21).
When Jesus spoke to the opposing theologians of His day, He discussed great truths from deep within the Scriptures; when He spoke with average people, He told stories, laughed, and touched them.
A man once criticized the 19th Century evangelist Dwight L. Moody and said to him, “Mr. Moody, I don’t like your method of evangelism.” Moody looked at him and said, “I don’t either. What method do you use?” The man stammered a moment and said, “I don’t have a method.” Moody quickly responded, “Then I think I do like my method better.”
So, following the model of Jesus, Adventure chooses to use whatever means works best for whatever lost person involved. It simply depends on who you are trying to reach!
Again, we do make it very clear that following the closing of each service, people are free to leave, to socialize with each other, or to come talk with someone about Christ in a low pressure, more private situation. We’re evangelizing and inviting — we’re just tailoring the method to better meet the needs of our audience.
Aren’t non-traditional congregations “anti-traditional”?
Anyone who asks that has no understanding of human nature! When you say, “Humans are creatures of habit,” you are simply saying that humans are nothing if not the creators of unlimited numbers of traditions. It’s a part of human nature. Even the least traditional person you might ever meet will have traditions they keep.
Adventure strives to keep any tradition in perspective. The question that should be asked is whether each tradition of practice is serving the godly purpose for which it was originally designed. If it is, keep it! If it is biblically commanded, keep it! If not, and the Scriptures give us leeway on how to accomplish that purpose, then let’s find a better way!
The human tendency, however, is to cling to traditional practices, whether they’re serving the purposes of God or not. In some cases, a practice has outlasted its usefulness and is now hindering effective ministry rather than enhancing it.
Listen to these strong words from Jesus is Mark 7:8 and 13 (NLT), “For you ignore God’s specific laws and substitute your own traditions…you break the law of God in order to protect your own tradition. And this is only one example. There are many, many others.”
In short, we need to carefully examine whatever we do and ask whether it’s really furthering God’s purposes. So, when it comes to things like using contemporary styles of music at Adventure, we’re trying to reach contemporary people – and as the contemporary taste in music changes, so will the music we use!
Why do we use other forms of the arts and technology?
It’s with a sense of irony that we confess this question has often been put to us by people who adore the stained glass windows of their home congregations. Perhaps the best means of understanding technology is to understand stained glass windows.
Stained glass windows were originally created for multi-tasking:
• They were used to let in light and keep out the weather.
• They were used for beauty.
• They were used for teaching biblical lessons.
That last lesson is the most important. In an age of illiteracy, the widows were adorned with biblical stories that were explained as biblical object lessons from within, and then seen from outside the church as reminders of those lessons. Being able to see a lesson makes it easier to understand and retain. It was a brilliant use of the technology of that time period.
Because we’re also trying to reach a highly visual (even TV- and movie-oriented generation) we use video for the same purpose: to aid the learning and application process.
Why do we often use marketplace language when we could say it in a more “religious” sounding way? Because we’re trying to reach marketplace people and lead them to the point where their lives are built around loving and serving the God of the Bible.
God’s Word makes it clear that we are to find ways to effectively bring the message “into all the world” in order to make disciples everywhere we go. We believe this will require careful scrutiny of everything we do—new practices and old—and a willingness to make changes when necessary, within biblical parameters, in order that we, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV), “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
If you still have any questions, contact us!