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Nov 05, 2011

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Scott Shaffer

Moore may be wrong, his argument is certainly weak, and Miller may be correct. Regardless, I have a hard time throwing my support behind entertainment evangelism.

Like the apostle Paul, I rejoice whenever the gospel is proclaimed and souls are saved. However, that doesn't mean I have to rejoice in the methods that are employed. That such activities work is irrelevant. Miller's comment about a 7% success rate highlights the pragmatism that has infected much of the evangelical church.

CASEY

SCOTT, what you call "entertainment evangelism", in this case, is a dose of 'reality', as close as we can discern, to help people think about eternity and 'their eternity'...which they so frequently they want avoid, avoid talking about or avoid even thinking about. I would think a more appropriate term here would be "confrontational evangelism"...

norm miller

Scott:
Then the Apostle Paul, who became all things to all people, was an evangelistic pragmatist, too. Do you think that the Holy Spirit, who led Paul to write what he did, "doesn't usually like" what you call "entertainment evangelism"? If standing on your head in the town square would bring 7% of those who saw you to Christ, would you do it? Remember that the Bible calls preaching foolishness, so those who live in glass houses ... should probably get dressed in the basement.

norm miller

Scott said: "That such activities work is irrelevant." Let's think about that. I really enjoyed the steak, but it is irrelevant that someone cooked it. If the activity is irrelevant, then what of preaching the Gospel and what of personal witnessing? To castigate what some deem as entertainment evangelism is to castigate the saving message within the activity. It is a false dichotomy or at least contradictory to say one is glad folks are saved but express disdain for the methodology. The angels rejoice over one, but nothing is said of their opinion about the means. Let's rejoice and not recriminate!

cody

I appreciated Moore's article.

Scott Shaffer

Sure, it is confrontational. It is also entertainment. I'm not sure it is a dose of reality though. I don't think their representation of hell fits what we read in scripture.

peter

Scott,

Just because an act is entertainment does not mean an act is also unusable as a means of evangelism by the Spirit of God. Even so, we're not referring to entertainment replacing worship. Rather "entertainment" as you call it as a hook or occasion toward which share the gospel.

With that, I am...
peter

William

I'm not a big fan of the things, partly because they are big moneymakers for churches these days, but am generally ambivalent.

I do think that when statistics are reported (63,200 decisions...) they have limited value. I put in the same category crusade evangelism stats, mission trip stats and the like.

Of course we SBCers love big numbers...

Scott Shaffer

Hi Peter,

It has been a while since we've chatted. I trust all is well with you.

Just because an act is entertainment does not mean an act is also unusable as a means of evangelism by the Spirit of God.

I agree. I would also say that just because the Holy Spirit uses an act as a means of evangelism does not mean the act itself is God honoring. Genesis 50:20 is just one example of this. (And no, I'm not equating Joseph's brothers evil motives with those who use Judgment houses!)

Even so, we're not referring to entertainment replacing worship. Rather "entertainment" as you call it as a hook or occasion toward which share the gospel.

You make an important distinction between worship services and other ministry activities. May God give us wisdom in determining what is appropriate! My concern with some events is that the "hook" becomes the focus and what people remember, and not the gospel message. Is that the case with some events? Absolutely. With Norm Miller's Judgment House? I don't know.

Scott Shaffer

Hi Norm,

I trust you had a wonderful Lord's day and many opportunities to be a blessing.

Then the Apostle Paul, who became all things to all people, was an evangelistic pragmatist, too. Do you think that the Holy Spirit, who led Paul to write what he did, "doesn't usually like" what you call "entertainment evangelism"?

I think you're mistaken about the nature of Paul's so-called pragmatism and its applicability to this issue. His becoming all things to all people didn't change the message he delivered and apparently the manner in which he delivered it. For example, it meant that he followed the law when ministering to Jews so as not to be an offense. At other times he labored as a tent maker for his wages, even though as an apostle he had the right to ask for the church's support, so as not to be a burden.

If standing on your head in the town square would bring 7% of those who saw you to Christ, would you do it? Remember that the Bible calls preaching foolishness, so those who live in glass houses ... should probably get dressed in the basement.

Do you see what you've done with these two sentences? It isn't standing on my head that brings people to Christ. It never has been and it never will be the means God uses. He uses the preaching of the word, just as you mention in the second sentence. Here's how I apply that: evangelism activities should be centered around the preaching of the word. If your Judgment House does that, fine. Praise the Lord.

My concern with this type of activity,and I haven't seen yours so this is a general statement that may or nor be applicable to you, is that the "hook" as Peter puts it sometimes becomes the focus at the expense of the gospel. The evangelical church frequently mimics our culture by adorning the gospel message in the clothes of entertainment, often to the extent that the gospel message is diluted, compromised, or lost. Whatever Paul's "pragmatism" was, it wasn't that.


Grace and blessings,

Scott

peter lumpkins

Thanks Scott. Yes it has been a while. I too hope you've been well.

I'm glad we agree on my assertion. Unfortunately, I cannot yet agree with yours: "I would also say that just because the Holy Spirit uses an act as a means of evangelism does not mean the act itself is God honoring." You cite as an example of your assertion, Gen. 50:20. I'm afraid that won't do. Joseph's brothers 'evil' act was meant for good by God. Or, we could say, God brings good from evil. And rightly we do not deduce it follows that the evil itself is good.

However, we are not speaking of a case when God brings good from evil. Entertainment itself cannot be judged evil. Surely there is such a thing as evil entertainment (e.g. playboy channel). But there is also such a thing as non-evil entertainment (e.g. Little House on the Prairie). Hence, unless you judge a priori Judgement House Ministries as evil entertainment, Joseph's brothers' evil that God intended for good just won't fit. Try another.

In the meantime, Scott, allow me: do you use illustrations in your sermons? Illustrations which have interesting aspects about them? Are your illustrations ever human interest stories? Are your illustrations ever humorous? Do your illustrations ever appeal to the emotions in any way? Now I know the classic definition of an illustration--to shed light on a biblical truth sorta like a window into a room. Nonetheless if the illustration has enough light to "hook" someone, there is always the danger you mention about too much light, a danger I too happen to be concerned about whether it's Judgement House, sermons, drama sketches, or any medium we employ to better understand God's truth.

Hence, from my perspective, a better approach to criticizing dramatic evangelistic mediums like Judgement House Ministries is to insist on wise pastoral oversight of the medium to ensure the "illustration" doesn't swallow up gospel message.

And, I'd bet a week's worth of Starbucks Norm Miller would give the hearty 'amen' to the wise council and insists upon it himself.

Grace, brother. And thanks for the participation.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Scott,

Just a reminder. If you're going to use the html tags, make sure you cap them properly. I fixed your last two comments. You failed to put the "/" on the last "i" in the set. Hence, all words after that--including all words in other comments--are in italics.

Thanks.

With that, I am...
Peter

Scott Shaffer

Norm,

You wrote,

Scott said: "That such activities work is irrelevant." Let's think about that. I really enjoyed the steak, but it is irrelevant that someone cooked it. If the activity is irrelevant, then what of preaching the Gospel and what of personal witnessing? To castigate what some deem as entertainment evangelism is to castigate the saving message within the activity. It is a false dichotomy or at least contradictory to say one is glad folks are saved but express disdain for the methodology. The angels rejoice over one, but nothing is said of their opinion about the means. Let's rejoice and not recriminate!

I do rejoice in those that are saved through this ministry. I believe I said that in my original post. If not, I'm saying it now!

You appear to think that any and all evangelism methods are acceptable as long as they lead to souls being saved. At least that's how I understand the paragraph I quoted above. We'll just have to disagree on this issue.

Please note that to disagree with the delivery method does not of necessity mean I disagree with the message. As I mentioned in my original comment, Paul didn't rejoice in the motives of those who preached the gospel in some twisted effort to add to his afflictions, but he did rejoice that they proclaimed Christ (Phil. 1:15-18). Similarly, I can criticize someone for preaching on a street corner in a pair of Speedo's, yet rejoice that souls are saved by his message. This is not a false dichotomy.

Blessings,

Scott

Scott Shaffer

Hi Peter,

You're right: entertainment is not inherently evil. (We'll have to ask Spurgeon to clarify his thoughts on this.) My point is simply that God can use our wrong motives and methods to accomplish His purposes. Consequently, we can't assume that just because good came out of a situation that everything causing it was good. Do you not agree with this?

As far as sermon illustrations go, we can add Easter and Christmas plays and many other events I'm sure. As you mentioned, there is a difference between the worship service and other ministry activities. What is appropriate for street evangelism or VBS may not be fitting for worship. And as I mentioned in my response to you, we need godly wisdom in these matters. At least I do. That goes for the "hook" or "illustration" swallowing up the gospel message as well.

Having said all that, I'm very concerned, so I try to watch with a discerning eye, that our entertainment soaked and infatuated culture is making headway into the worship services and ministries of many evangelical churches.

Blessings,

Scott

Scott Shaffer

Sorry about that. Too much cutting and pasting and not enough coffee.

peter lumpkins

"Consequently, we can't assume that just because good came out of a situation that everything causing it was good. Do you not agree with this?" Of course. After all, a Judgement House Ministry could have been a catalyst in many coming to Christ but could have also been financed with stolen money. But none of this is relevant to whether entertainment itself can be an appropriate means toward gospel evangelism.

I used to have a very difficult time with mass invitations at evangelistic rallies. As a critic I failed to realize that "walking the aisle" itself was a means God used to evangelize. That is, while arguably many--perhaps most (according to some)--who walk aisles in evangelistic crusades (we're not allowed to use 'crusade' any more except on my blog :^) do not walk because they are saved. They walk aisles for various reasons--from "pray for momma", "I'm sick", "somebody else is sick", "I'm lonely", etc etc to "I need a friend" and "I need Jesus." Even so, while they came for that reason, counselors are specifically trained to go through the gospel step by step and inquire into the person's spiritual life. Few occasions may be cited which offer a more personal, one-to-one conversation about a person's spiritual condition than a God-honoring gospel crusade.

Oh, btw, Scott, concerning pragmatism. For my money, far too many fling that term around in such a way as to suggest there exists a means to evangelism, worship, or any spiritual pursuit which is not pragmatic. This is prima facie nonsense. We're all pragmatic to a degree. If you don't think so, try having your main worship service every Sunday at 1AM. Why would you not do that? It wouldn't work. Or, try reading the Scripture always from your Greek New Testament and Hebrew OT on Sunday morning. Why would you not do that? It wouldn't work. We could go on and on about what wouldn't work. The truth is, sometimes the pragmatism card is played when mere personal preference or God-honoring common sense would do.

With that, I am...
Peter

Scott Shaffer

I'm not sure what the issue is because I don't disagree with anything you wrote in your last comment.

peter lumpkins

Well, I don't know I wrote it with the backdrop of an issue between us on our present topic. If you like, I can make one ;^)

Actually my first paragraph was in answer to the question you asked me. The last two paragraphs were a bit of chattiness concerning 'pragmatism' which you brought up in your first comment and have continued to exchange about with Norm. That's all. No issue.

Have a great Monday, brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

Scott Shaffer

Okay. I mentioned pragmatism because it appeared to me that Norm supported this method of evangelism solely because it produced results. Any discussion about the appropriateness of the method was out of the question. I disagree.

Scott Shaffer

Speaking of entertainment and the church, have you read the latest from your favorite preacher Mark Driscoll?

https://pastormark.tv/2011/11/07/16-things-i-look-for-in-a-preacher

I'm not sure what to make of this, but I'm sure you'll be able to.

peter lumpkins

Actually I had not. But the practical points are fairly favorable. Too bad he frequently does not practice some of them himself.

With that, I am...
Peter

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