How To Advertise Your Church

They just put up a new sign on the billboard that is 65 yards from the Church I serve. I’ve been told that the very small piece of land that the billboard is anchored into was thought to belong to the Church at one time but in some kind of contested setting it was determined that the sliver of land belonged to another party and they thought it was an ideal place to plant an eyesore.

Anyway… the new sign advertises a recent Church start up in Charlotte named ‘Real life Church.’ Twenty something, Randy Shiver is the ‘Pastor’ of this fledgling group. Randy is a Joel Osteen fan but comes across more like the Robert Duvall Character in the film, ‘The Apostle.’ I met Randy once and he told me that he had studied Theology at Crackerjack Bible College, and that ‘I try not to get into Calvinism and that other one issues. What’s important is that people need to get saved.’

When one looks at the sign one sees, arranged against a white background, four images positioned in a linear fasion from left to right, with each image following the previous image and connected by ‘plus signs.’ Each image has a caption underneath of it explaining its significance.

The first image is a picture of a spilled out bag of coffee beans with a cup of steaming coffee placed upon a saucer that has two sugar cubes placed upon it. The cup and saucer look to be fine china. Underneath the image is the word, ‘Beans.’

The second image is a picture of a Caucasian 30 something male and female who are dressed as if they are going to hit the night clubs. Underneath this image is the word, ‘Buds.’

The third image is a picture of a single pair of faded blue jeans. Underneath this image is the word, ‘Blues.’

The fourth image is a picture of a Caucasian 20 something guitarist wearing a cut off t-shirt and blue jeans. He is sporting a fro hairdo and is in a pose doing the splits in mid air as if he has just jumped off one of those huge amplifiers at a Rock -n- Roll concert. Underneath this image is the word, ‘Band.’

Underneath all of this is the name of their Church — ‘Real Life Church.’

Remember we are advertising a Church.

First, I want to look at some small matters concerning the marketing angle of this.

I was a bit surprised that all three people placed on the sign were Caucasians. In our multicultural era it would seem they would have had enough sense to put an Asian or a Black person on the sign. Still, we must keep in mind that Charlotte is a very white community and their marketing surveys probably informed them that non-Caucasian people on the sign might not be attractive in this community.

The second thing that surprised me was the coffee that was in a fine china cup sitting on a fine china saucer. I would have thought that in marketing to the twenty and thirty somethings they would have put the coffee in a Styrofoam cup.

Clearly though they are marketing their church to what young adults in our culture value. I noticed in their alliterative use of the letter ‘B’ in their captions they didn’t use the word ‘Bible’ to advertise their church. Hmmm…. I wonder why that is? Also I was of the decided opinion that they would attract more people if instead of a picture of coffee with the caption ‘beans’ they would have place a picture of a foaming stein of Beer with the caption, ‘Beer.’

The thing that should be noted is that the sign shouts that Church is about what people want. ‘Attend here and we will give you what you want.’ And yet, the problem with the fallen sinner is that they always want everything to be about what they want. So, this Church, like most Churches today, is selling itself as the place where you can go and be titillated. But in Biblical Churches every week the law damns those who attend and the Gospel brings them back to life. This church is one more version of, ‘what can I get out of church,’ while Biblical Christians worship with the mindset of, ‘we have assembled here to give praise to the Triune God.’ The former mindset sees church as being about those who attend. The latter mindset sees Church as being about God who is the recipient of Worship. The former never gets past the horizontal. The latter attempts to be vertical.

As I think about the sign and the prevalent churches that dot the American landscape that reflect what that sign is communicating I think about the old 1980’s sitcom ‘Cheers,’ and its theme song.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

Really, in these kind of Churches all you need to do is get rid of the sexual dynamics that were part of the series and their churches would be just like Sam Malone’s Bar. Pastor Randy is just an ecclesiastical version of a combination of the Cheers Bartender’s ‘Coach’ and Sam Malone. People in our impersonal culture are dying to be connected interpersonally with other people and if they can find that inner connectivity in a bar or a Church its all the same. Humans were made to be in fellowship. Indeed, it is an open question if it is possible to be human and not be in fellowship.

Now, I think camaraderie is certainly part of a living and vital Church but such camaraderie has to be based on a shared vision of the transcendent and exalted God of the Bible by a people who are counter-cultural. The problem with ‘Real Life Church’ is not that it wants to provide camaraderie. The problem with ‘Real Life Church’ is that it makes that camaraderie its teleological end.

Having said all of that, I firmly believe that ‘Real Life Church’ will soon be one of the biggest Churches in Charlotte.

Didn’t somebody say something about cisterns that cannot hold water?

Congressman Johnson & Pastor McAtee Chit Chat

Dear Pastor McAtee,

Thank you for contacting my office with your concerns regarding House Bill 5912. I greatly appreciate hearing from constituents and other Michigan citizens about issues of importance to them because it helps me know what I need to be paying attention to. Your willingness to communicate with us allows me to be up-to-date and aware of those whom I represent.

HB 5912, introduced by Representative Clack on March 19, is much less an intrusion on privacy and more an accounting mechanism to see who is learning where. The bill would require the parent or legal guardian of a child being educated at home to furnish the following to the superintendent of your local school district: the name and age of each child who is being educated at home, the number/name of the school district and the city/township and county in which the parent or legal guardian resides and the name and address of the parent or legal guardian. The very same regulation is already required of those that attend nonpublic school.

Please let me assure you that this bill would not affect the way you teach your children or limit your choice to home school. If the intent of this bill were to do so I most definitely would not have cosponsored this bill. The bill would simply bring home schooling under the same umbrella as other nonpublic school entities. This “umbrella” currently does not nor does it seek to regulate non-public schools. This bill is not an effort to ease in regulations on the home schooling community.

The concern of home schooling parents, children, and other advocates is reasonable, though I urge you to consider the positive aspects of the present bill as written, rather than the possibility for negative legislation in the future. If this bill is passed, the children who are home schooled in a mischievous manner will be recognized and helped. Although these children make up a very small percentage of those who are home schooled, we cannot justify leaving these children behind and letting their guardians get away with neglecting our youth’s education.

Once again, I thank you for contacting me about House Bill 5912. I assure you that your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions will be considered when I am asked to vote on HB 5912. Please feel free to contact me again regarding this or any other issue.

Sincerely,

Bert Johnson
State Representative
District 5
517-373-0144
bjohnson@house.mi.gov

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Dear Representative Johnson,

I am a homeschooling parent. I do not want to be under the State’s umbrella. The State has no more business in regulating how I educate my children then I have any business in regulating how the State paves roads. In short I don’t want to be under your umbrella and you have no constitutional authority to try and force home schoolers under your umbrella.

Your ‘accounting mechanism’ is an intrusion of my privacy because it is none of your business and it requires me to compromise my privacy by forcing me to report to busybody school districts! Since I don’t owe the State anything as it pertains to my children’s education your bill is most certainly a intrusion of privacy, your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

My advice remains the same and that advice is that when the State shows itself able to implement an ‘accounting mechanism’ that actually leads to government schooled children being educated past the level of moron I will be glad then to consider the possibility that home schoolers will need to have an accounting mechanism. You complain about the home schooled children who might be educated in a mischievous manner and yet every day in thousands of schools throughout Michigan children are consistently educated in a mischievous manner. I continue to believe that students not educated at all would be better served then students educated in Michigan Schools — such is the abysmal state of government education.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I wish your response would have reflected more common sense on your part. I know you have good intentions Congressman but you need to provide solutions for what your are responsible for (Government schools in Michigan) before you take it upon yourself to be responsible for what is not your responsibility.

Leave my children alone,

Bret L. McAtee
Pastor — Charlotte Christian Reformed Church

Obama A ‘Good Man’?

“Good men don’t turn a blind eye to unrepentant ex-terrorists; support vile, anti-American bigots; lie about their core beliefs; and look down on traditional Americans. Most significantly, good men don’t allow beautiful babies — the least among us — to be discarded like refuse and die miserable, lonely deaths in dark utility rooms. In fact, if we cannot call Obama a bad man, there is no such thing as a bad man. And calling him a good man doesn’t just strain credulity, it puts it in the hospital in traction.”

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/04/when_will_we_admit_the_truth_a.html

More Radical Two Kingdom Theology

Some people may wonder why I keep returning to this radical two kingdom virus. The reasons I do so are multifaceted. First, I want to show that whatever this R2Kt virus, it isn’t Calvinism. I hope my series of posts from Witte, Jr’s book as aided in the dismantling of their delusions that they are Calvinists except in a very constrained way. I guess I would say that they are Cavlinists the way that the Beatles would have been the Beatles without Lennon and McCartney. Second, I want to expose its profound but enduring vacuity. Third, I want to let them shoot themselves by allowing for a large public reading of their own words. Fourth, I want to prevent people from being infected by the virus they carry. Fifth, I want them to repent. I could go on but you get the idea.

I lifted these comments from a thread where the recent documentary ‘EXPELLED’ was being discussed. Our friend from Grand Rapids, Zrim, is the one who comes up with such brilliant insights. It is interesting that even Dr. R. Scott Clark, the Typhoid Mary of the R2Kt in academia, can’t even go along with Zrim in some of Zrim’s comments. If you want drop into the conversation go here,

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/the-furor-over-expelled/#comment-1302

“What I liked about that TIME piece was the old-school Calvinism: “The truth, of course, is that the only necessary and sufficient condition for human beings to murder one another is the simple fact of being human. We’ve always been a lustily fratricidal species, one that needed no Charles Darwin to goad us into millenniums of self-slaughter.”

Calvinism cuts through the crap of 21st century American pop- and partisan-politics, red and blue.”

It is true that humans, because of the fall, will find all kinds of ways to be destructive. However, their spiritual condition is not unrelated to the thinking which they pursue. Scripture clearly teaches that, ‘as a man thinketh in his heart so he is.’ When Zrim reasons the way he does he implicitly abjures this idea preferring instead to seemingly think that men behave the way they behave quite apart from intellectual, theological, or philosophical paradigms. So while it is true that we don’t need Charles Darwin to be lustily fatricidal, it is not true that we don’t need to have a thought system that gives us putative reasons for our fatricidal-ness. Before Darwin men were fatricidal but you could still draw a line between whatever belief system they had and their fatricidal actions.

Zrim’s comments suggest that there is gnosticism going on in his thinking. Men are spiritual entities who act the way that they do for spiritual reasons and these spiritual entities act according to spiritual reasons quite apart from any concrete thinking or an anti-biblical contrarian thought system. Further, he seems to suggest, that we shouldn’t be concerned about tracing out the consequences of bad ideas since all we need to know is that men are spiritual fallen.

“While I think a substantial link between *Social* darwinist theory, eugenics, Nazism, and Planned Parenthood is pretty straightforward to address, mere Darwinism itself does not produce these evils. Refusing to view man as being made in the image of God and thus morally accountable to his Creator is the root of these evils, not the mere idea of natural selection.”

Really, Zrim only needs to spend some time in a library with Herbert Spencer to see the connection between Darwinism and *Social* Darwinism. The first sentence of the statement above only reveals Zrim’s lack of training in the history of ideas.

Second, Zrim cuts corners by suggesting that Darwinism is about ‘natural selection.’ Nobody disagrees with natural selection as a way to explain long beaked finches vs. short beaked finches. This is not the problem with Darwinism. Again, I humbly submit that Zrim go to the library and this time spend some time with T. H. Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) and learn that Darwinism was not offered as a mere theory of Natural Selection but rather as a comprehensive Worldview that was offered as a way to explain reality quite apart from the God of the Bible.

Still, we want to credit Zrim where he is correct. It is true that the refusal to view man as being made in the image of God and thus morally accountable to his Creator is the root of these evils. What Zrim doesn’t seem to know is that is exactly what Darwinism teaches. The truth of the matter is that Zrim’s real problem is that Reformed people are actually contending for King Christ in his common realm where no such overtly Christian contending is supposed to take place. Zrim doesn’t want Christ in this realm except in a most indirect way and Christians who take their faith into that realm trouble him deeply.

In this next section, Dr. R. Scott Clark had taken Zrim to task for going a little bit to far with their shared viral thinking. Zrim responds to Clark by noting that Christians have been just as wicked as pagans,

“Then how does one explain the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials, to name but a few examples of those who “view man as being made in the image of God and thus morally accountable to his Creator” and yet perpetrate evil? The implication of the above comment seems to be that if we can just get over the imago dei evil would be substantially reduced. Yet history is littered with those who embrace such a doctrine yet violate it.

It is quite true that -ism’s do not produce evil (since sinners are at the root of evil), but I find it ironic how straighter lines are drawn from the other guy’s -ism to evil.

Again, put another mark in the column for good old-fashioned Calvinism. That is one -ism that no man can escape.

First, we should note that Zrim really is a cultural relativist. No culture can be considered superior to another culture because all cultures show sin. Pagan Darwinist cultures show sin by perpetrating evil in eugenics and Christian cultures show sin by perpetrating evil in Crusades, Inquisitions, and Witch Trials.

Again, we need to ask Zrim to go to the library with us. Without arguing that the historical events that Zrim notes weren’t blemishes on the face of Christendom we need to keep in mind that the Crusades were a response to Muslim aggression and so were defensive in measure. Now, to be sure, in the Crusades sin abounded but to draw a moral equivalence between the Crusades and the Death Camps is just vile and putrid thinking. Christians should freely admit and publish their sins as warnings to future Christians but to suggest that the comparatively small number of deaths of Witches and inquisitorial victims to the millions upon millions who have been slaughtered since the advent of and on account of atheistic Darwinist thinking is just plain irresponsible.

I will be glad to put a mark in the column for good old-fashioned Calvinism — a Calvinism that built Christendom in the West and gives us the ability to distinguish good from evil.

So while Christendom may have a vested interest in reducing the culpability of something like the Crusades, Christianity seems to have no such interest. It is the meta-message that I find more compelling than in the more immediate one which tries to navigate around whose “system” is more/less evil. That WE are evil really changes the conversation.

Evil and forgiven. Zrim spends so much time on Christians as sinners that he forgets that Christians are saints, resurrected with Christ to walk in newness of life. It is true Christians continue to contend with the old man, but it is also true that Christians continue to put off the old man and put on the new man created in the image of God. Because that is so we can expect sanctification to progress not only in the lives of individual believers but also in their cultures as believers who are increasingly being conformed to Christ jointly build a culture that likewise partakes in sanctification.

As it pertains to the Crusades I would be satisfied if Zrim visited the library and at least read the Christian side of the Crusade account instead of ignorantly buying into the Muslim pagan account.

Still, Zrim is right that Christians do need to be reminded that they remain sinners. Without this reminder we run the danger of believing that the culture we build needs to constantly be Reformed. In short if we don’t remind people that WE are evil the odds increase dramatically that we will not be able to see the blind spots that keep us from going on in Christ both individually and culturally.

“Propaganda (The movie EXPELLED) helps nothing along. And it seems to me that what tends to inform most moderns is the stuff of sensationalism, including what we know about the Holocaust (from theories that it never happened to it was the greatest evil ever exacted). Sensationalism subsumes beneath “Sicko” as much as “Expelled.”

Unfortunately this is true. But we have arrived at the point that if one wants to change the dynamics of the game one has to play the game and the way one plays the game in this culture is by making a sensationalist Propaganda film that slightly begins to counterbalances all the sensationalism propaganda that the minions of the devil are pumping out. Would that we lived in a world where sustained and informed debate would inform most moderns but most moderns are idiots and the only way they are moved is by cheap sensationalism. We can thank our government education gulag for having arrived at this point.

“That said, even if you peel away the sensationalism you still have deal seriously with the notions that certain theories lead to certain phenomenon. And I am not so sure that “survival of the fittest” leads to gas chambers anymore than the “cultural mandate to subdue the earth”: they both depend on sinners who can parlay former into a box of Wheaties and the latter into mass destruction–or vice versa.”

Once again it is the library to which Zrim must go. If he doesn’t have time for the library today the link below will allow him to see the connections between ‘survival of the fittest leads to gas chambers.’

http://ironink.org/index.php?blog=1&cat=36

Also note the cultural relativism again. Darwinism is not better or worse then submission to Christ’s command to pursue Christ honoring dominion. Humble Christians seeking to honor Christ by building Christian culture are equivalent to Darwinists who only want to make a better box of Wheaties.

“The danger, it seems to me, is in trying to formulate any theory either betters or worsens the human condition. Christianity is not a system to improve the human condition but to save it; that “the Bible is not a handbook for living” works just as against those who are polyanna as those who seriously want to construct political, economic, social, scientific, educational theory from it. The implication of “Steinian” sorts of critiques (sensationalism aside) is that if one system leads to destruction another leads to redemption. Christianity does, but just not the way you’d think.”

This is a perfect reflection of a-millennial thinking. A-millennialism teaches that good and evil grow together till the end. As such, while we may look for periodic cultural lift in history we must also look for periodic cultural decline. In the end though nothing changes in terms of mankind’s conditions. Indeed, most A-millennialist will insist that things will get substantially worse before Jesus returns. Anyway, given this kind of macro eschatology where the teleology builds an expectation that good and evil always grow together in commensurate proportions we shouldn’t be surprised to find an adherent teaching that Christians shouldn’t bother in trying to formulate any theory that either betters or worsens the human condition. Since, according to a-millennialists human betterment is a-priori locked out then naturally theories are arrived at that teach we shouldn’t try to think in ways that will improve the human condition.

Further, the amillennial presuppositions are in flying full mast when Zrim offers that Christianity is supposed to save the human condition without improving it. Amillennialism holds that final salvation is catastrophic and comes from the outside in. As such it only stands to reason that Zrim would offer us teaching that has no intent offer human improvement. Only a catastrophic inbreaking by the returning Jesus will bring improvement. All other improvements are, at best, illusory. Humans are sinners and even the salvation given them to Jesus only offers a betterment in the sweet by and by.

Nobody needs to look at the Bible as a handbook for living who wants to understand the implications of total depravity in the realms of educational, political, economic, social, and scientific theory. It is just plain ignorance on stilts to suggest that sin doesn’t affect these areas of thought and it is ignorance on stilts wearing high heels that believes that Redemption can’t ameliorate the effects of sin on redeemed thinkers who are seeking to think God’s thoughts after Him in these areas. Zrim’s bible is a gnostic bible that saves men’s souls but leaves their bodies under the ravages of sin.

Pathetic.

Christian High School Teachers Teaches That

Allah and God are the same God and that Muslims and Christians are serving the same God who goes by different names.

Of course this has become cutting edge thinking even among some current missiologists. The thinking goes that the word ‘Allah’ is the Arabic word for God and in light of the fact that Muslims believe that God is one there is no reason to think that the Jehovah of the Scriptures is the same as the Allah of Islam. Missiological reasoning also contends that such an approach makes evangelism either. If missionaries can approach Muslims by allowing that Allah and God are different names for the same God then it is supposedly easier to make progress in evangelistic conversations. It is difficult to imagine Raymond Lull, Henry Martyn, or Samuel Zwemer taking this approach but why should we be concerned about that?

The teacher at this ‘Christian High School’ used C. S. Lewis’s ‘Tashlan’ to support her cockeyed theory. The reasoning was that sincere Muslims, because of their noble intent, are really worshiping the God of the Bible when they worship Allah. Lewis was brilliant but on the whole Tashlan thing his boneheadedness is unmatched.

Some of the covenant children in the church I serve related to me this account while I was teaching the worldview class. They said they had protested this understanding with their friend who had embraced this ‘understanding.’ Now what is interesting is that the parent interjected that her child must of misunderstood because the teacher would have never taught that.

Well, my money is on the fact that the teacher did teach that since this idea has become so prevalent in some putatively Christian circles.

Let this be a warning about ‘Christian’ private schools. All because you slap the word ‘Christian’ on a high school doesn’t mean that it is Christian anymore then a wine bottle full of urine is wine just because the label on the bottle says ‘Wine.’