Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Social Gospel in Action

inthenewsThis past week we received the January 2006 issue of “The Christian Chronicle” in the mail.

The paper chronicles events, news and “ministries” of many of the institutional churches both in America and the rest of the world. In addition to various news items there are featured articles regarding church “ministries” and trends. There were three feature articles that caught my eye:

First, an article entitled “Is Narnia a hit for evangelism?” It indicated that churches are renting theaters to view the new movie. “Congregations organized study groups and touted sermons using the movie to discuss Christian allegory and symbolism”, wrote Tami Ross.

Second, an article entitled, “Wiffle Ball calls players to this field of dreams.” Kelly Campbell, a preacher for the Collegeside church of Christ in Cookeville, TN, started a league in his backyard. Teams play what they call “Campbellball” a baseball like game with plastic balls and bats. Games are played Tuesdays and Sundays year around, starting with the National Anthem played on a tape recorder, and ending with a prayer at the pitcher’s mound.

Campbell is quoted in the article as saying, “It’s more than a game, it’s about God, it’s a ministry.” Further, he stated, “…this has probably brought me as much fulfillment as much as anything I have done as teacher a preacher [sic].”

Third, an article entitled, “With a Coke and a smile, church seeks harmony with outcast teens at The Gate.” The Gate is a hangout for nonconformist kids at lunch near a high school in Mitchell, IN. Property damage, trash, out of control kids, fights, etc., made the site a problem area. So, the youth minister at the Mitchell church of Christ decided to “minister” to the youths there.

One day every week, members of the church load down coolers full of soft drinks, and take them to the kids. Gary Spear, the youth minister, wrote, “We decided to start with one thing that can make the world sing in perfect harmony; a Coke. In fact, we offered lots of sodas of every flavor-and none of the generic stuff. We wanted them to know we cared. It would be name brands for us.” Spear continued, “No overt “God Talk” is what we had decided in advance. We would let our free Cokes speak for Jesus. The teens would have no trouble glancing at the van to see who we were. We would just shoot the breeze and let them know someone cared. God would have to take over from there on his time.”

The obvious objection to these “ministries” and methods of outreach is that there is no scriptural authority to use entertainment in an attempt to reach individuals with the gospel. Such attempts either show a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the means by which sinners are converted, or a disdain for the call of the gospel. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

You don’t bring people to Christ through movies, wiffle ball or Coke. These are not ministries, they are not edification, and they do not challenge the lost with the message of redemption. We, as Paul, are to limit ourselves to the preaching of the cross. “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).