I read this over the weekend while searching for some additional information on “The Power Team” traveling evangelistic outreach group. It is an assessment of their ministry and methods, and I thought the pastor (Phil Scovell) who wrote the article tried to be fair about both the positive and negative aspects of their approach. I thought the entire article worth reading, and do hope you’ll chase the link and go read it. However, I want to include his closing remarks here because I thought they were so pointed and powerful. He writes:
I have expressed my concern about the improper music played. I am also bothered by the commercialism; the buying and selling; the advertising; the commercialization of Christ. I am concerned about John Jacobs opening statement: “We don’t care what church you go to, we just hope you have a good time tonight.” I am concerned about the plea for money and the fund raising techniques employed to support the Team’s activities. I am greatly disturbed about the hype employed. Are all these things necessary in order to get people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Has the plane preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lost its power? Is not Christ our example? Did He employe any such techniques in order that people might listen to His preaching? If you say He in fact healed the sick which drew crowds, that would be correct but He did not do so in order to attract the crowds; He did so because He was the Messiah and He had the power to do so. In another words, He preached the Gospel first; the healings were a natural consequence of His Messiahship. What I am suggesting is we do not need the Power Team nor any other para-church ministry to do the work the Church – the Body of Christ – should be doing. Every radio or television show, every traveling evangelistic team of any kind, every special entertainment group not supported fully by local church ministries should disband and go back to the local church ministry where they belong. Christians do not need to be entertained, they need the preaching of God’s eternal Word which changes lives for eternity.
A friend of mine pastoring in western Colorado had moved into a small town of about fifteen hundred people to start a church. The church now runs about one hundred fifty. He heard of an old dying pastor in the small town and went to pay his respects. They visited for some time as the old man lay in his bed waiting for his home going. My friend asked the old preacher if he had any advice for him concerning the church he had just started. “Son,” he said, “whatever it takes to bring them in is what it’ll take to keep them.” I have never forgotten those words. How can the man of God who stands before his thirty or forty people in a small rented store front building; the man who has prayed and cried all week and studied the Scriptures and prepared the message God has laid upon his heart for his little flock; how can this man possibly top the performances of super human strength of the Power Team the night before? It is my opinion that the Power Team and all such Christian entertainment groups are robbing God’s house and short changing the Christians of God’s true blessings for His people. Stop it and stop it now! Go back to Church and spend your time walking the streets with your pastor and knocking on doors and winning the lost to Jesus Christ. That’s the true “POWER TEAM!”
“Whatever it takes to bring them in is what it’ll take to keep them.” Profound and true. If someone has to be lured into an event that is more like a circus act than a church service just to share the gospel, there is little reason to think that a real Sunday morning service and a genuine body of believers will ever hold their interest long enough to keep them coming back. Although there may be a few exceptions, by and large, the majority of people are not being drawn to these shows under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but out of the desires of their flesh.
I really do not see much difference in this and someone might decide to buy free rounds of beer one Friday night so that the gospel could be preached at the local pub. It is a way of appealing to the flesh nature of a sinner and trying to make them comfortable in their natural element (that is, in their sin) so that you present the gospel in a non-offensive way, hoping they will pray the prayer before they pass out. In fact, I would venture to say, some enterprising young evangelist could probably do this for several months to try and reach the lost. But my guess is that there would be very few (if any) real converts who would be satisfied attending church and joining up with a local body as a result of this evangelistic outreach. Take away the comfort of their sin, and challenge them with the truth, and it is the truth that will emerge.
What are your thoughts on this issue?