History of the Church Growth Movement
In a decades-long maneuver, what we know as the “church growth movement” has been plaguing Christianity for quite some time. Beginning in the 1960’s building on the foundations of people like Donald McGavren, megachurches began springing up all over the United States, seeing exponential growth in the ’80s and ’90s.
At the core of the church growth movement was seeker-sensitive ideology–that is a theological approach that seeks to be less offensive and more palatable to a class of people not known for being in churches on Sunday mornings.
Over the years, this seeker-sensitive approach has manifested in many forms, from musical style to watered-down preaching, from comfortable state of the art seating to laser light shows. The seeker-sensitive movement has sought to do whatever is necessary to get more people in the doors and keep them there. As a result, many churches have abandoned their sacred traditions in favor of an amusing and entertaining sideshow with very little biblical substance in it. And while not every church that has taken on this new approach has completely lost the gospel, many have.
Entertaining the Goats
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in Scripture as a function of the church. If it is Christian work, why did Christ not speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,’ that is clear enough.Archibald Brown
Entertainment has been the mainstay of the seeker-sensitive movement for at least the last two decades, but in recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in social justice movements within the church. There is a form of Marxism running rampant in the evangelical church today under the guise of “racial reconciliation” which promotes an ideology of entitlement to minorities and redistribution of wealth based on not real, but perceived systemic injustices. We see a push for open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens under the guise of “pro-life” and “pro-family.” And we even see a new push for egalitarianism (as opposed to biblical complementarianism) under the guise of the Church’s version of “metoo.”
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How “Gay Christianity” Has Crept Its Way In
However, the latest trend we see in seeker-sensitivity is what is being touted as “gay Christianity.” Let’s put this on the table right now: there is no such thing as a “gay Christian.” It doesn’t exist. If one lives a life of identity in their perverted sexuality, they have not taken on the identity of Christ. Period.
That being said, this movement has taken a number of different levels, from full affirmation in the most liberal and progressive denominations, to a much milder form, “gay celibacy,” in the more traditionally conservative denominations. The push for acceptance of gays in the church is nothing new, however. It has been creeping in for quite some time. Notwithstanding, “gay celibacy” is most certainly the newest perversion of the grace of God to creep in.
“Gay Celibacy” Movement in Conservative Circles
“Gay celibacy” has become a prominent theme in New Calvinist circles, primarily in outlets such as The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). While we certainly believe it is more noble to remain abstinent than to act on an aberrant sexual desire, biblical celibacy is not a gift given to an individual solely on the basis of that desire. Celibacy is a gift rarely given to a believer for the sole purpose of devoting one’s life to ministry.
Yet, celibacy propagandists, such as Sam Allberry through his Living Out ministry, are pushing an ideology that teaches that God may not and most likely will not change your sexual desire upon conversion and regeneration, therefore, you must commit yourself to a life of celibacy. Worse, they teach that “same-sex attraction” in and of itself is not sinful. Sean Doherty of Living Out takes this even further suggesting that it is morally acceptable in God’s eyes for same-sex couples to live together–even be physically intimate together–in much the same way as a married man and one, as long as it falls short of bodily penetration.
But, and this takes me back to my first point, holding back from sexual intimacy doesn’t spell an end to physical intimacy, not for a moment. Our culture finds it hard to distinguish between the two. But there are wonderful ways to be physically close to other people without being sexually close to them. We hug and kiss our friends and relatives in non-sexual ways. We hold hands with children. Some people (especially guys?) love to play fight (my sons love to do this with me – personally, I would prefer to cuddle them, but I have to play fight with them, because it is a way they give and receive physical affection!). None of these things necessarily have anything to do with sex, but they have much to do with physical affection and intimacy
Sam Allberry, a gay priest in the Anglican Church recently spoke at an ERLC conference at which he advocated for an end to the nuclear family in the church and church members opening their homes and sharing their children with homosexuals in the church so that they don’t feel “lonely.” He even suggested that family’s should allow open homosexuals to “babysit” your children unsupervised.
Should we really be shocked at the LGBT inclusion demands of the open LGBT community? After all, they’ve been forcing their way into every avenue of conservatism for many years.
But it’s no surprise that a vast number of conservative evangelical churches are buying into this movement as though it’s a noble, biblical cause. Dare the church to offend homosexuals with the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. These megachurches that have built themselves into towering spectacles of cultural acceptance are dying–and they need revenue. And the only way to increase revenue is to increase membership. And the only way, in the eyes of the seeker-sensitive church, to increase membership, is to become more inclusive.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfectRomans 12:2