I have noticed a couple of local Baptist churches have adopted several church growth strategies in order to attract people into the church. It's like a blueprint that seems to be spreading. Some of these strategies include a name change, different types of community involvement, aesthetic improvements, etc.. Not that any of these things are inherently bad, but they are worldly efforts and strategies to increase numbers and hence produce false converts. John MacArthur explains how the transcendence of the Gospel to change lives through the power of the Spirit grew the early church and is the same means today by which it must grow.
Watch, listen, download or read the full message: Marks of Real Church Growth by John MacArthur here.
Excerpts from the message: "Duck Dynasty" by Robert W. Reed
Titus 2, reading from verses 11-15 this evening. Again, as I said this morning, the title of our message tonight is “Duck Dynasty” and I’ll just say up front that God is not a fan and so we get that settled and get that out of the way. I have a three point outline on the board here I want to speak on tonight. I want to deal with the subject of music and modesty and
ministry, that is, their obsession with secular music and their obsession with worldly and their obsession with false doctrine.
Notice with me now as we come to this text. I told someone yesterday, I said, “We're going to take the duck blinders off of Duck Dynasty and we're going to consider some truths here I believe will be important.” Now, let me just say this in the beginning before I read: this is not a sermon really against the show. I have to talk about the show but this is not a sermon against the show or the family that produces the show. It is a message that is a warning to Christian people and to preachers who think that the show actually sets a standard or good example for Christianity so that is what the message is really all about.
Now, I have a couple of questions that we ought to ask when we come to a subject to this right here and you know my feelings about Hollywood and watching television and things of that nature: I don't think it benefits anyone at all, I think it hurts them. But in Isaiah 5 and I’ll be reading 1 Peter in just a moment, but in Isaiah 5, when I think about discernment, do we have discernment today? Do we need discernment? If somebody comes along today and just says, “Jesus,” or “I'm against abortion,” Christians fall all over them. Are we that desperate as Christians that we need celebrities to represent us in Hollywood and on television? Are we that desperate?
The Bible says in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” He said, “Woe.” There is a warning here, “Woe unto them.” That's what my message is tonight, it's a warning to Christians who will allow any type of Hollywood or anything like this to set some type of an example for Christianity. Ezekiel 22:26 says that the priests and the people, “they have put no difference between the holy and the profane.” In that same chapter it says in verse 30, “I sought for a man among them, that should make
up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” We live in times like that where there is so little discernment and there are so few to stand in the gap anymore and really declare the truth of God. I'm not talking just about preachers, I’m talking about Christians in general.
America's concept of Christianity is not what we find in the New Testament. We see the church of Cain today. Cain believed in God, he believed in worship, he believed in tithing, he believed in the giving of sacrifices and still yet God would not accept his worship. We have a cool Christianity. I saw a church sign about a month ago, I wrote it down, and it says on this church sign, “Come to church and have fun.” That's right here in Mobile County. This is what we're looking at today.
Church growth is all the rage. For pastors, the focus is on leadership. For laymen, on “reaching people.” In the church world, church-growth is the standard of success. If a church “reaches people,” and the pastor is a “visionary leader,” then the church will be considered a success. If a church makes it into somebody’s bogus “Fastest Growing Church” list, then the growth frenzy continues with the sheep flocking to check out what innovation has been initiated to reach the masses for Christ. - See more here.
We are living in a critical time in which spirituality in the church is near an all-time low
and immorality in society is near an all-time high. The pulpits of the land have lost their
influence upon society because they have let the world into the church and cheapened the
Gospel message in an attempt to grow their church campus. Many church members
profess to know Christ, but their lives do not display the evidence of true conversion.
When George Whitfield, the great British evangelist, came to America in 1740 during the
Great Awakening, he was asked by a Boston minister, “Mr. Whitfield, how many
converts have you had since you’ve been among us?” To which the great Whitfield
replied, “I don’t know, sir, but I shall return to these parts in a year or two and look for
the evidence of their salvation.” Few church members today demonstrate credible
evidence of their salvation.
Listen friends, when the church fails to carry out the mandate of the Great Commission
and proactively storm the gates of hell, then a vacuum is created. The vacuum begins
within the church until the church compromises the Gospel message, places man and his
needs as the center and focus of the church and everything rotates around the happiness
My message tonight is on the apostate church in America. It is entitled “The Cappuccino
Church” because it’s all froth and no substance. I am not insinuating that the entire
institutional church in America is apostate, please don’t misunderstand me. There are
many sound Christian churches throughout our land with solid shepherds leading them,
but I have seen a drastic change in a majority of churches that have cheapened the Gospel
message with the express purpose of growing their church. They’ve made it a lot easier to
become a Christian than what Jesus stated. Jesus said, “The way is narrow and the
passage difficult.” He said, “Unless you repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” I have been
around for a long time and have witnessed the tragic spiritual declension of the church in
America. It breaks my heart to bring this message tonight but I must unburden my heart
of what the Lord has given me regarding the church in America today.
Read the full message by E.A. Johnston here or listen below.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
The Bible is the only inspired, inerrant authority for Christian Faith, and it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Justification is by faith alone. The full righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith (comprised of His active and passive obedience) is the sole ground of our acceptance by God, by which our sins are remitted.
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Christ is Prophet, Priest and King; the only mediator through whose work we are redeemed.
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Salvation comes by God's grace or "unmerited favor" alone — not as something merited by the sinner. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God.
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)
All glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.
Based on SCRIPTURE alone, we can affirm that justification is by GRACE alone, through FAITH alone, because of CHRIST alone, for the GLORY OF GOD alone.