I am on vacation in Kissimmee Florida. I went to a Baptist Church yesterday. They have a beautiful facility and have been without a Senior Pastor for a few months. They are an Elder run church. The Sanctuary (Auditorium in today’s language) seated 500 or so, but the attendance looked about 150-165. This did not include the children who worship in two separate services. There was a good blend of people, but I did notice the “more mature” crowd seemed to be about 25%. They were pretty friendly during Sunday School (Adult Bible Fellowship), but during the transition and the worship I felt very much an outsider. I would give it a 6 on the 10 point “Guest Comfort” scale.

Seeker ChurchLike so many “Traditional” churches, they are trying to find themselves in this hip-hop media run world. An elder announced that they were beginning a three month trial toward what seemed to me a “Seeker” style worship experience. They had a young preacher who had come to Orlando to start a church and it seems that now they are folding his church plant into their traditional church. He is very talented (leading the praise-style songs) and then going right into the sermon. Almost a one man show. He is young and energetic and exactly the kind of person who would appeal to a younger audience. I pray the transition will work well, but there are a lot of Baptist Churches near there. Sometimes older folk like the way they used to worship. They don’t want the music very loud. They don’t want to hear a watered down, practical, relevant discourse on time management or some other ‘seeker’ topic.

My problem is that I still believe in the Power of God’s Word. I believe in the Power of the Gospel. I believe in the Power of the Cross. I hate to think that God’s Word as it is written is irrelevant to this generation. I believe that in trying to appeal to the masses we are in danger of building the “First Church of Simon”.

 

In Acts 8:9-12 we find a man named Simon who had built quite a following. He presented himself as someone great, doing amazing things that got people’s attention. People declared that ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great”. In reality he was a sham, a flim-flam man, having the appearance of godliness but not knowing the power thereof. Along comes a man named Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ. People believed and were baptized. Even Simon played along to get in on the action. He saw the power of the Gospel, the works of the Real Holy Spirit, and he said in Acts 8:19-20 “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

First Church of Simon

I fear that many preachers are spending a great deal of money on fancy multi-media stages and sound systems and extravagant Worship Centers and all they are really trying to do is buy the power of the Holy Spirit. They are building the “First Church of Simon”.

I know most of the arguments. People have to be entertained. People today reject the old-fashioned church. There is so much competition for People’s time. We have to offer a competitive product presented in a way that gets people attention in the media savvy world. I look for people in the year 2021 to not even go to church but have the service streaming over their phones. Offerings are taken by tapping in the amount on your phone and pushing ‘send’. If the church has a physical building, the offering amount is displayed instantaneously on an electronic tote board. Pastors won’t count bodies but will count downloads and RSS feeds.

Does God’s Holy Spirit still have Power to convict men today? Does the Holy Spirit still have the Power to Draw men to Jesus Christ. Is the Gospel still the Power of God for salvation? I know we need to communicate effectively, but isn’t that what the whole issue of Pentecost was about. The Holy Spirit took the message of ignorant fishermen and convicted the hard hearts of stubborn people! The Holy Spirit provided the communication. Peter spoke in the Power of the Holy Spirit! As Bill Gothard said, communication is getting your ideas past the roadblocks of another’s mind. We must be aware of the roadblocks, but we must rely on the Power and Wisdom of God! Paul realized that we don’t rely on the wisdom of men: “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. “ I Cor 2:5. Preachers need to return to the Power of God in our proclaiming. We dare not go into the pulpit without it. We don’t rely on slick PowerPoint’s, we don’t rely on cute skits and object lessons. We don’t rely on others sermon outlines.

We have hearts that have wrestled with God, and now have power with God and man. Our hearts are on fire with the power of God’s Word, the Power of the Holy Spirit. We are only lumps of mud. We are mudpreachers. The Power Must be of God. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor 4:7)

Paul preached in truthfulness and by the Power of God. “by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; “ (2 Cor 6:7) “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (I Cor 4:20) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (I Cor 1:18)

Is it any wonder that these verses on the Power of God were written to a young church that was having a problem with the flesh. Their worship, their communion feasts were going the wrong direction, the way of the flesh and what man thought was right. Paul had to set them straight with the Power of the Word of God.

It is time that Preachers get back to what Paul was willing to die for-the Power of God in the Cross of Christ. It’s time we cry out for the Power of the Holy Spirit in our pulpits.

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Comments
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