Ok, clearly I need to put my post title into some context… so please hear me out. I once heard a message whereby the speaker compared the approach of church to a box of Weet-Bix. I was quite curious when he used this anology, however as he explained I thought there was some great insight with this.
Evolution of the Church
Our culture continues to evolve and change, as it has over the decades. However many churches haven’t been sensitive to this in how they conduct their services and even present Christianity. They keep the same approach and then wonder why the next generations don’t seem as interested. Then you have other churches that react too savagely and try to make church ‘attractive’ to the people so that they keep coming. The argument is, we want people to come and hear about Jesus… a noble goal. The problem is that the Jesus that is taught is not consistent with the biblical Jesus. The Gospel presented is no longer the biblical gospel, but rather a social or prosperity type gospel… one who’s ultimate goal is to appeal to people instead of glorifying Christ. Both extremes are a tragedy and dishonouring to our Lord in responding to the Great Commission in going out and making disciples of Jesus Chris in all nations.
Here comes the analogy of the Weet-Bix… finally you think! Weet-Bix is a breakfast cereal that has been around for years now. It has been manufactured in Australia and New Zealand since the 1920’s. As far as a product goes it is no ‘spring chicken’, it is iconic in Australia and is still topping ratings in sales. Everyone in Australia knows about Weet-Bix.
Now I didn’t taste Weet-bix in the 1920’s, but I suspect that the product hasn’t changed too much. There may have been some minor tweaks, but Weet-bix as far as I am aware has always been Weet-bix. However the packaging has changed considerably. It had to in order to connect with the changing culture and what people are drawn to. Otherwise it would not sell. How would anyone be able to taste how great they are if they are not drawn to the packaging or even repelled by it! The content has stayed the same, but how it has been presented over the years has evolved. Here lies the importance of marketing in selling products.
So how do we approach Church like a box of Weet-Bix?
Now I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but I think the modern church can learn a lot from this. The real danger though in evolving the packaging is altering the contents. As a church we must always remember we are ultimately commanded to please God and not people (Galatians 1:10). In presenting the biblical Gospel we will inevitably turn off many people because it is offensive by nature. Who likes to hear that apart from Christ they are condemned to hell! However it’s the biblical Gospel we are to preach, a gospel that on one hand highlights our sinful depravity and deserved condemnation before our holy God and on the other draws light to God’s mercy and love in sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins allowing God to justly save and redeem us to a secure relationship with Him forever. The gospel isn’t about meeting our human needs, it’s about meeting our spiritual and eternal needs. It’s not necessarily about meeting our physical needs and ailments or leading us to material riches, it’s about making us spiritually rich for all eternity.
All believers in Jesus Christ have a responsibility and commissioning to reach out to those who don’t know Christ for themselves. To do that effectively we need to know and speak their language, whilst ruthlessly protecting and teaching the truth of God as written in the Bible. We are not necessarily to try and use different words, but rather explain the biblical text so people are more equipped to read and understand the Bible for themselves. Whilst seeking to do this we need to be praying consistently for God to work in people’s hearts and granting us wisdom to find the balance in how we present Christianity in a packaging with which the ever evolving culture can connect, whilst ensuring the ‘contents’ of the Christian message stay the same.
One last Crucial Point and Warning
May we never forget that it’s God that saves people and not us. We are called to be faithful in teaching and equipping people with God’s truth, not to tamper with it (2 Cor 4:1-2). It’s the Holy Spirit that regenerates hearts and leads people to a saving faith in Christ (1 Cor 6:11, John 3:6). If people don’t see their need to be saved by Christ then this highlights how they have been blinded by Satan and this world (2 Cor 4:3-4).
Therefore, we should never rely exclusively on our ‘clever’ packaging techniques but on the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. May Christ alone receive all the glory as He alone deserves it! (2 Cor4:5-6)