According to the World According to Bruce Blog Please go to their website!
1. "Robbie McLaughlin and the Next Level Church of Matthews, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, are using a unique tool to make young adults aware of their Church".
2. Fox News reports:
To get people to attend his new church campus, Robbie McLaughlin is sending his message out to where the people are.
Next Friday, staffers from Next Level Church of Matthews will go to bars in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte to hand out shot glasses which ask patrons to “give us a shot” and bear the slogan, “Real church for real people.”
The idea is to draw people to the Ballantyne campus, which opens next month.
McLaughlin is the pastor, and said he is confident that it will be controversial, but he said the goal is not necessarily to impress people who already go to church. He said it’s to impress people who don’t.
Next Level is a nontraditional church that encourages members to dress casually and snack on coffee and doughnuts during services.
McLaughlin said the idea has caught on, and in two years, the church has grown from a handful of members to more than 700
Now, I got to admit this is not something I would do. I am 50, over the hill, stuck in the mud, too old to change some things.
* This is a very innovative way to reach young adults. Bars, clubs, pubs, sports bars, etc are very much a part of their culture. This is a simple attempt to reach them where they are.
* Shot glasses are inanimate objects. Enough said?
* Drinking is not a sin. Drunkenness is.
* If they bring their shot glasses to Church they will be ready for communion (humor attempt)
As usual, the self professed God’s Holy Police are up in arms over this. See here and here.
I see this as another “shot” for the Kingdom of God to be advanced. My hat is off to Robbie McLaughlin and the Next Level Church of Matthews for their willingness to use innovative means to reach their community for Jesus.
3. Technorati Tags: Robbie McLaughlin, Next Level Church of Matthews, Church hands out shot glasses, Innovative Evangelism, Ken Silva, Ingrid Schlueter, Postmodern Evangelism, Bruce Gerencser
Rev Solomon of the Seal of Abraham responded to the blog as follows:
Rev. Solomon Says:
January 21st, 2008 at 1:06 pm
I have always understood that first impressions make the difference and
color the perception of the individual who is receiving the impression.
I would add that once made, the first impression, right or wrong, sets
up an expectation for what can be expected to follow.
So, what will be the encore, once you get the members in the church?
The Evangel Church in Maryland was humiliated once it was disclosed
to the public that the church had applied for a liquor license.
Yes, the Evangel Church, in order to increase revenue sought to acquire
a liquor license so that outside parties who rented the church facility
could sell liquor in its Family Life Center - a Center that sits on the
churches beautiful campus.
The word reminds us that except God build the House, the laborers
are laboring in vain. The word also reminds us, not by might but
by my spirit saith the Lord, and ‘no other foundation can be laid…’!
I would applaud any individual or group whose sole intent is to bring
people to Christ. However, I would simply ask this group, ‘did this
idea come from God? Going to the bar was great, but the methodology
is what I question. So what, 'you' got people, to come to 'your church!
Rev. Solomon's second response:
Rev. C. Solomon Says:
February 2nd, 2008 at 4:36 pm
Someone emailed me regarding this topic which I responded to previously, and ironically I am preparing a sermon that will be taken from Ezekiel 33:30-33, that might shed some light on this contemporary topic. Many of the gimmicks that are being employed today in order to attract people to churches are in fact working. However, all of us ought to be more concerned about what the end result will be, King Solomon’s warning in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 7 vs 8 reads: ‘better is the end of a thing than the beginning’, comes to mind!
Many of our comedic ministers and their pageant-based services with high-fiving and worldly singing liturgies may end up having a devastating effect on a lot of naive individuals - in the end. No man, the scriptures read, can come to the Father unless the Father draws him. Simon wanted to purchase the power so that he could use it to inveigle the people that he had previously bewitched, see Acts chapter 8! He was rebuked, given his carnality, irresponsibility and secular narrow mindedness.
You would be surprised to know just how many ministers hire consultants, or purchase 'growth plans', in order to grow their church memberships. Folks, growing a membership often has little to do with bringing people to God!
In fact I was at a church service in Columbia Md a few years ago, where a young pastor and his wife were blessed by the church given their departure to found a Hip Hop church in New Jersey. And on a more serious note, Representative Bobby Rush raised the topic of Hip Hop music in the church at one of the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference that I attended in Washington a few years back.
A serious man of God, Ezekiel, was viewed by many of the post-exilic refugees who resided in the ghettos at Chebar as an entertainer. The exiles would frequently go (to church if you will) and listen to Ezekiel’s sermonic prophesies - in the same manner that Americans stay up to hear the monologue on the David Letterman show, or go and hear the slap-sticking entrepreneurial ministers of today preach. There will be a joke told, usually every few minutes.
How many of our modern day joke telling, gimmick making networking-entrepreneur ministers are anything other than entertainers who titillate the crowds, and give the people what they want to hear and see? Some ministers even refer to themselves as 'Motivational Speakers' - they don't want to be known anymore as preachers! Ask Reverend and Author Tim Storey for example - I like you Tim, but you are one of the ones who said it!
What will be the end result, for isn't that what really what matters in the present, and what will matter in the end? A church in Alviso/San Jose California, once had a mural displayed in the front of the church (nothing religious) whether the baptistry would normally be located. It was similar to the one on the David Letterman show. The mural depicted a panorama of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ron Kenoly, a Lou Rawls sound alike - led the singing, and the minister preached a lot of feel good messages that were laced with carnality, and loaded with injections of street patois and other urban colloquialisms!
He would frequently invite worldly celebrities to come in to sermonize, or to put on rock-styled concerts. With him standing before his urbane metropolitan mural, as he interviewed or introduced worldly entertainers - one would wonder whether or not they were at church or at the club! By the way, I don't have a thing against Reverend Kenoly, he is a nice man and his son's and my keyboardist son played together briefly. By the way, I have nothing against the pastor either - he is a nice man, and I know that he means well!
Later, MC Hammer himself came in following Kenoly’s departure to Florida - and I know Hammer and I personally like him. That church has grown infinitesimally. However, similar to Gideon’s bloated army membership of 32,000 - remember God showed him that there were actually only 300 real soldiers in his army. I suspect that most of the churches that you visit today, who use the methods that Reverend McLaughlin used to gain members, will fill his church army with individuals who really do not believe (at least not according to God's definition)!
In the city of San Francisco, St. Mary's Cathedral on occasion, invites the 'gay community' to come in to lead the oblation! Heterosexuals should not do this either, but after the service - the gay worshippers sit outside of the cathedral and hug and kiss each other! By the way, the preaching at St. Mary's is excellent. Go figure? How does the Reverend know all of these things? The Reverend is not only a minister, he is a student of the church - I have studied it over a period of many decades!
Ignorant proselyters, and 'I did not send them ministers and ministries - God said', are 'piping' and trying to reach the wrong people! Many of these individuals who are doing the proselyting have never surrendered, submitted or been converted themselves! Building the church membership, and winning souls for Christ are two different animals!
It is a spirit folks that is driving these nuanced ministries. And therefore, the manner in which these groups behave and the ideas that they come up with are driven by that spirit - a spirit that seems right to the unconverted and newborn in Christ! But what spirit is it really? Many individuals who still have a carnal spirit but still like to come to church, are filling up our churches today, filling the administrator roles and some are taking over the power positions at the church.
Bishop Carlton Pearson realized and confessed years before loosing his ministry, that the Spirit of God was not guiding the church that he pastored. In fact educated professionals who were in charge of his media ministry were running the church. If you will recall one Cain, who was written about in the Hebrew Scriptures in the old testament - he devised his own religion, just like some individuals and churches are doing today.
God told Cain that if he practiced his religion God's way, that he would be accepted! Otherwise, God informed him that both he and his self-devised religion would be rejected. And because he couldn't have it his way, like many of our new pouty-mouthed newcomers, he went away and killed the ones who were trying to do what God actually told them to do. Many of the carnal mega's are destroying the smaller churches that have ministries where people once were being saved!
Many individuals are not separating themselves from 'the world'. in fact many of the musicians that you see at these worship centers, are being being used interchangeably between the church and the club - WHO LET THE DAWSGS OUT! Some ministries like Reverend Ron Fowler's ministry in Akron Ohio, will not permit you to hold an office in the church unless you have a secular degree.
If that is the case then Reverend Fowler - a good man I might add - better go back and review the scriptures, for Jesus chose and used ignorant and unlearned men to turn the world upside down; they were selected for a reason.
God rejected the highly educated because he knew that they would attempt to bring the wisdom of this world into the church (ergo not many wise are called), and use it to co opt the church! And factually, we are witnessing what happens when the cerebrally inclined come in and take over the church - yours truly and a few others being the exception!
What about the Apostle Paul you asked? Yes, he was a very erudite and educated man, however, he had to have some sense knocked into him on the Road to Damascus, after which he summarily rejected his mostly religious education. In modern times, given the fact that the highly educated are running too many of America's churches, it would appear that 'the church distributed' - is heading in the wrong direction. Having said that, they are building some beautiful manmade buildings that will likely be turned over to the rest of us when the mega fad becomes a thing of the past.
Someone is going to have to go in and rescue these brainwashed babies, those who will not have already left the church and gone back into the world!
According to 1 Cor. 8 vs 1, Knowledge puffs up! Too many individuals coming into our churches today insist that their carnal education, rationalism and degrees drive the church! That is not good either, and it explains in part the problem and the effects that many of the churches that look good on the outside, are having on the inside - in today's post-modern cultural-religious church guided paradigm! The church is being shaped by the culture and by carnal babies who have come in and taken over; it is supposed to be the other way around.
Only God knows those who are really his! Modern day ministers often make the mistake that King David made, when he once numbered the people instead of relying on God. God's people were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, God knows those who are his he has a plan with which they will be drawn in. You cannot just go out and sweep up any and everybody and bring them to the church. I know of a church whose members pressed a young man to attend church. He finally gave in and attended church - the next week all of the musical and audio-visual equipment came up missing from the church!
Some ministers, as soon as you meet them ask, how many members do you have and then they proceed to tell you how many members they have. Who cares, for what truly matters is how many of those in the vast congregations of today, have been chosen in God before the foundation of the world? Besides, God promised to provide pastors according to his heart that would feed the people with knowledge and understanding, as opposed to self-imposed leaders who are teaching their parishioners how to be both in and out of God at the same time!
Those ministers and laypeople who seek to bring individuals to Christ must do so according to the leading of God, unless the church be filled with nonconvertible 'goats, wolves, hypocrites, performers, seducers and reprobate individuals'! And aren't we seeing a lot of that today? Everyday practically, you hear about some scandal at some church in America. Why? Some of these folks in the church have never been converted..., and it was never a requirement that they be converted prior to being placed over various ministries within the church.
How come Bishop Jakes confessed that a whole section of his church is filled with homosexuals? I know individuals who are faithful about going to church, they even pay their tithes - in fact I am related to some of them who are nothing more than the devil incarnate , and they love going 'to church'!
Our modern day liturgies are worldly - even Catholic churches are having Jazz Masses in order to draw members to their parishes. Our modern day Christians are very carnal, the ministers included! Many of the musicians and singers are worldly interchangeable - and have you seen Kurt Franklin, Jay Moss and company, or CC Winan's dancers who occasionally accompany her - they actually dance in church pulpits. Er herm! Come out from among them and be separate - what must the people, rappers and dancers of the world be saying?
A friend had me watch a TV show with him that he taped last week. The cast was slap sticking over the prospect of going to one of the new kool churches in their neighborhood. Why not, one cast members said…, they have swinging music and they will serve you wine along with the singing? Get my drift…!
Another unnamed Church, during its three Sunday morning services presented a pageant several years ago. In short, the pageant depicted a men's bible study that was being held during the week at a member's home. Instead of proceeding with the home bible study as planned (some individuals having needlessly brought their bibles) - it was decided that instead the men would watch some football and drink beer. The person who was singled out in the pageant as being 'holier than thou' and having the wrong spirit, was the character who felt that it was wrong to take God's time and use it to watch football and drink beer.
The play ended with the narrator moralizing and chastising Christians like the brother who brought his 'oversized bible', and insisted on having a bible study. Help us God. This new trend is taking the church to 'a new level' alright. The churches low trajectory heading appears to be clearly off course, with its modern day leaders taking it in the wrong direction. Churches are being carnalized, and the work that Jesus, our parents, grandparents and ancestors began - is being bastardized today by 'generation X', and a few baby-boomer wanna be 'big' young and old ministers!
Reverend McLaughlin's plan to inveigle new members into his 700-member substrate, reminds me a lot of this pageant that I witnessed. The man in the pageant was manipulated into coming to bible class by the church no less, where instead of studying the bible he would instead drink beer and watch football. The moral of this play and its accompanying message is very timely, for this is exactly what is taking place in Christendom today. The people of God ought to have a zeal according to knowledge, one that is for the things of God; and one that employees the methods that God uses!
I doubt that anyone loves sports more than the Rev (tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday by the way), however, render unto Caesar and the NFL those things that belong to Caesar and the NFL. I wonder if Jesus ever sent any of the disciples out to 'catch a pass', that would give new meaning to the modern day phrase 'Touchdown Jesus', a phrase that was coined at Notre Dame University.
The fact is that I loved football so much that a decade or two ago, the Lord made me 'fast' football, for an entire year. And brethren, that was in the days that proceeded the VCR! My team was in the Super Bowl, and to this day I haven't seen that game (tears - tears). We won however, Bless Jesus! I had it so bad then that when the minister ended the service by saying, now may the Lord watch, between thee and me, while we are absent, one from the other..., I saw his mouth moving but I was hearing something altogether different.
I was hearing, runners take your mark, get set and hurry home to watch the Superbowl! And I did just that, along with the other brothers in the church. The females would get mad, asking, where are the men rushing off to!
Carnal methods and methodology draw carnal people! And that is why many churches are growing so fast. The leaders of these bloated Houses of worship are employing worldly marketing schemes in order to grow their membership. Folks, the ministers share these plans with each other, and some go to seminars so that they can simply put, learn how to build 'a big pseudo House of worship'.
Having said that, what used to work in Christendom will still work today, that is if your aim is to bring people to Christ. If your aim is to build a bloated, carnal, capitalist, high-fiving, wine tasting, whitewater rafting, multi-leveled, street talking, inappropriately vestured, celebrity appearing, selling-in-the-vestibule and pulpits, modern day, X-generation, contemporary, networking I want a big watermelon (ala Buckwheat) congregation by using carnal methods, that will still work too! However, what will be the consequences if one were to do the latter?
In a bible class that I was teaching in Emeryville California a couple of decades ago, one of the participants - from another church told a story of how she desired for some time to minister to her dentist. On the day of her next dental appointment she decided, today is the day. However, on the way to her dental appointment a voice kept repeating in her head the term 'reprobate'. Well she went to the dental appointment as scheduled, and after she was placed in the dental chair, she began ministering to her dentist on the subject of being reprobate no less. Obviously the dentist was very angry!
She was disheartned because she had heard the spirit repeating to her over and over again, 'repobate' - so why didn't the dentist respond to her she pondered? I asked her if she knew what the word reprobate meant? She did not, so I went on to explain to her that God was telling her that the dentist was reprobate, beforehand. She is a perfect example of a well-intentioned individual that wanted to work for the Lord, yet she lacked the requisite training or understanding to know how to work in the Lord's behalf. Do I have the right to say that the plan that Reverend McLaughlin and his congregation devised was wrong?
In my opinion, it didn't make any sense, and it doesn't sound like something that God would suggest. However, God telling Abraham to take his first son and offer him up as a sacrifice, would not have been music, initially, to my ears either. Let's see how this experiment turns out in its final analysis. But having said that, numbers don't necessarily mean a thing!
See the text of Ezekiel 30:30-34 below.
33:30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.
33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness.
33:32 And, lo, thou [art] unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
33:33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
The Ryrie Bible's commentary says it the best: Many of the exiles looked on Ezekiel as merely providing entertainment for them, and they did not heed his message. They also wanted to profit from the situation.
What If You Want The Church That Jesus Established To Suceed:
Folks, we have an epidemic that is taking place in our churches today, and if you judge the success of the new mega churches by 'your sight', as opposed to looking at them long-term 'through the eyes of God', then I could understand how you could be impressed or likely deceived! Having tired of waiting for a harvest as a result of preaching or teaching the word for so long, many of today's modern-day ministers who came out of the immediate gratification 'X Generation', are seeking alternatives methods that they can utilize in order to fill up their churches.
They really don't understand what it means to win souls for Christ. Noah's church consisted of 9 souls! I would rather have 9 saved souls than 700, that none of them likely have ever been born Anothen! One church in Mitchellvile Maryland boasts, that it has nearly 100 ministries in the church. White water rafting anyone? Look folks, Paul's words to Timothy said it best - A time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine....
Paul insisted however, that Timothy continue to preach the word! Paul did not encourage him to come up with gimmicks; even though he could have! What we refer to today as New Age or modern methods, have been tried before, including the use of syncretic teaching, and the employment of gimmickry.
The minister who attacked the 'Holy Police Christians' is obviously still locked into a spiritually adolescent paradigm. The Apostle Paul would have rebuked him! We must hold up the standard folks and encourage folks to enter in at the narrow gate. Now having said that, is it wrong in my opinion to have programs in a church, some that might not be all that spiritual? The motive is what is important?
Some churches provide the parenting that families are neglecting, even today. Some churches provide baby sitting and other after school programs rather than permit latch-key, and other children to simply wander around at home or in the streets.
Keep in mind that there is both a spiritual as well a social dimension to Christ's ministry! So I applaud those churches who are aware of their civic duties, the ones who are trying to attend to their civic and social duties. Having said that, those churches should not allow their duties to become misprioritorized!
People can only come to Christ when they are drawn through the word of by the spirt. And, people can only be saved and cleansed by, and after hearing the word and responding appropriately to it - the word cleanses them. Does anyone recall the words spoken by Jesus to Peter, about his need to be converted. Peter was a disciple who walked with Jesus for 3.5 years, only to have Jesus inform him that he had not been converted. The reason that the church was incepted in the first place, was so that it would become the saving harbinger for the soul!
Once the Church looses sight of its mission and its purpose, what other institution can take its place? Can the government or an educational institution takes its place? I think not! I have visited churches that have built 'night clubs for their youth departments'. Instead of going to the world to party the kids come to church, dance, imbibe on soft drinks and some even have sex right in the church.
What's wrong with that? Perhaps nothing to some of you, however, as Paul did when he met with the disciples (we call them members today) at Ephesus, he asked have you received the Holy Spirit since or when you believed? Many of our youngsters today, as well as many of our ministers today have never received the Holy Spirit - and from all indications they have zero intentions of ever doing so. And to boot they are not being asked to!
My God, if you were to ask a question like that today to people in the church, you would loose half of your mega-numbers. And, modern ministers cannot pay the incredible bills that their churches have accrued as a result of soft-pedaling the ministry, which resulted in the bringing of individuals into the church under 'worldly pretenses'. A one hundred thousand dollar a month salary pay out alone, is nothing to some of these mega ministries! They have to pay bills, and they need people, in order to meet their total monthly obligations.
When something grows too fast, it customarily does so for the wrong reason. You may have disciple-members that have responded to a carnal church message or to a carnal ministry, however, when Jesus returns he is going to be looking for individuals who have been washed in the blood. He will not be looking for individuals who are simply a part of someone's carnally-induced and bloated membership! And to boot, as in Ezekiel's prophecy, when it does come to pass, God's Word that is, they shall they know that a prophet has been among them!
Ministers, keep in mind the reason that Jesus stopped performing signs and wonders in front of the crowds, was because the nature of individuals with a crowd mindset was to follow anyone who would entertain them or perform a miracles. In other words, they were following him with the wrong motives in mind. The crowds of today, will always follow gimmicks, freak-shows, snake-oil preachers, bring me a 'seed offering minister', in order to get something like healing, a metaphysical word, networking opportunities, companionship or the minister's sanction - that the member-disciples are okay just the way that he or she are in their present state!
However, the real test is the word, and what God has to say. When Jesus' ministry began, he also had 'mega crowds' that followed him wherever he went. However, as he continued to minister the word instead of performing miracles - the crowds shrank from thousands - to by the time that he was placed on the cross - to a group of mostly faithful women who were of secondary cultural status. Do you remember them? They are like the ones that we wish would remain silent in the Church and in our homes today - just as the Apostles and men of old
wanted them to do then! Oops!
The gimmick churches and ministries are ignoring the wisdom of Jesus Christ and as aresul they are creating problems for those ministries who are actually trying to bring people to Christ. How? They are keeping people from coming to the ministries that God has appointed, because the same individuals have been have been inveigled into accepting a substitute 'worldly form' of Godliness. In other words, it is a decoy, a fraud - deception that satan is employing in order to keep people from coming all the way to God!
Many of these ministries in effect, have shut up heaven. And just as Jesus told the Pharisees of his day that they had Heaven shut up - and were not going into the Kingdom, many ministries today have heaven shut up, and they are keeping individuals from entering into the Kingdom of Joy, Righteousness and Peace in the Holy Ghost! The unlearned and foolish are being convinced in modern day gimmick churches, that they are okay just as they are!
Hogwash! Some of these churches remind you of what happened when Moses stayed up on the mountain too long. Weak ministers like Aaron caved in to the people's demands. Aaron instead, set up a ministry that pleased the people. And this substitute ministry with its self-created gods, satisfied their wunderlust(s)!
Be careful Reverend McLaughlin and others like him, for except the Lord build the House the resultant labor is in vain! And the scriptures read, not by might or by power [and I will interject gimmickry], but by 'MY SPIRIT' saith the Lord!
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon