The Capranica

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Finding Heaven Through a Harley?

Our local Inland Empire newspaper (The Press Enterprise), published the referenced report yesterday about a local congregation that will do anything to "reach" people, including giving away a new $25,000 Harley-Davidson Road King. The 6500 member Crossroads Church in Corona gave away the motorcycle in the name of the gospel. "I guess they feel the bike has significant value in the people they're trying to reach. ... Barry McMurtrie is a no-nonsense kind of a guy. He'll do anything to reach people, but he'll also make sure they have the opportunity to know the Gospel. When he opens his Bible, there will be no misunderstanding." The bike was given away not to a visitor, but a year-long member who won the bike through having his name pulled from a hat. Obviously with the seeker driven emphasis among contemporary American churches, this latest show should not be surprising. In fact, the article notes that such a feat is being replicated across the country. "The River at Tampa Bay in Florida gave away a Humvee in January. On New Year's Eve 2003 Abundant Life Christian Center in La Marque, Texas, raffled off a Harley-Davidson Sportster and a Chrysler PT Cruiser to visitors and members. And Christ's Church of the Valley near Phoenix appealed to unchurched young adults by giving away two tickets to a sold-out U2 rock concert to people who visited the church's Web site." All of this is done in the name of Christ and promoted as a means of attracting people to hear the gospel. However, with the gimmicks used to attract the lost, one has to wonder exactly what gospel will be preached? The Corona congregation insists, "We want to show people what we're about," Bailey said. "It's a real comfortable place. It's no-nonsense Gospel. ... Christ comes first here. We want to do church in a different way. Our motto is that this is a church anyone can come to, from the motorcycle rider to the minivan driver." It is hard to imagine how Christ comes first, when it appears that a great amount of church energy is spent centered on the non-churched consumer. The following quote from the Press Enterprise article may help to demonstrate what kind of approach to the gospel the Crossroads Church takes: "Members carry their ice-blended coffee drinks into the service and park them in the armrest cup holders. They chat during loud numbers by the five-piece band. The Bible lesson features the cartoon, "Moses," and communion is self-serve." The band plays loud and the congregation chats during the numbers, much like a good concert. The Bible is focused on a cartoon and there is no sense of community or corporate remembrance of the atonement during communion - it's self-serve. "Self-serve" seems to be the theme of such churches. What the New Testament does reveal to us about the priorities of a biblical church is a far cry from what many of these "self-serve" congregations are offering up. Acts 2:42-27 appears to be a far cry from the emphasis of Crossroads Church. How is it that the eternal, transcendent, holy and majestic God can be biblically understood when such a casual approach is taken toward Him? Where in the New Testament is the gathering of the church to be focused on consumers rather than the corporate worship of Christ? They have replaced the worship of God with the watching of a concert and the preoccupation with what is really non-eternal. Such congregations will undoubtedly draw a crowd, but will inevitably not create a church. More could be said, but this is another example of the American church missing the purpose of the centrality of Christ, replacing Him with the centrality of the consumer.

3 Comments:

Blogger Annabel said...

I agree that this is indeed a sad way to get people to church and it means that they're not truly focusing on Christ's Gospel. It's one of the reasons I'm finding the reverence of the Catholic Church so refreshing.

5/26/2005 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Bret Capranica said...

See my post from Tuesday, May 17: "The Contemporary Church's Missing Link".

5/26/2005 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Annabel said...

I read the other posts after commenting on this one. I guess I should have read them from the beginning, rather than backwards... lol.

5/26/2005 11:33:00 AM  

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