Frank hits at something that I've always thought about when I hear (and even attended against my choice) about Christian youth and young-adult events; that's what they are: events. What are these Christian events for? As Frank pointed out, they're like wwe shows and football games for Christians; "...not that there's anything wrong with that."* Do these events do any spiritual good for the attendees? I love fun and games, I really do and I'm sure there was fun, talented, entertaining music and speakers which more than likely made for a good time, but there is a certain attitude that these events put on the attendees; an attitude of disgust for their local church if they go to a local church and/or a disenchantment with "the" local church. It's an attitude like, "Man, this place or that place just isn't like Passion. The music sucks, the preaching sucks, so what's the point in going?" or another attitude like, "Man, the 'spirit' just isn't here like it was at Passion. These people and this place is 'dead.'"
"What I am saying is that the kid in my hypothetical example went to a rock concert -- and the headliners were the all-star talkers. S/he went to see men (and women, right?) of huge reputation, and also some headliner bands in order to feel a certain way about his/her endorsement of Jesus -- but no human will boast in the presence of God. And the proof, if I might say so, of what actually happened there is what is happening now, since he or she came home.
A lot of people hate it when I do this, but I'm doing it anyway: 60,000 people were there. If we randomly distributed 60,000 loaded guns into the places all these people just came from -- just sent them back in the QTYs these people came from those places -- I'll bet you something would change in those communities. If we sent out 60,000 lunchboxes full of $20's into those communities in the same way, I'll bet something would change -- maybe something small, but something. If we sent 60,000 bullhorns out into those communities and just laid them down on the ground there, something would change.
In this hypothetical case, 60,000 hypothetical people are coming home to some fraction of 60,000 local churches. Let me be as clear as possible: they are coming home to what we hope are a corresponding number of local churches. If they are anything like their parents, they may not have a local church at all. But if past performance is any indication of future results, they will not have the same scope of impact as 60,000 handguns or lunchboxes or bullhorns. The show will be over. Somehow, for them, being in the local church -- which is God's plan for the believer -- is not the same as going to an event with headliners. Paul says that, somehow, the local church ought to be better than that -- and it seems to me that here we can see that it is not.
A year ago, Jeff Bethke said, "Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrum - See one's the work of God, but one's a man made invention - See one is the cure, but the other's the infection." At the end of it, it is not our intention which makes something Holy: it is God's intention. And it's God's intention that the Gospel be proclaimed not from a concert stage in an arena intended for entertaining spectacles: it's his intention that it be declared from the local church.
That's why Paul also said this:
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.Think of the plea Paul is making here to the Corinthians: the ones who are really bringing the message of Christ to the world have become like trash, like the muddy part you scrape off in a bath -- and all of you Corinthians think that you are better than that. This is something someone like Judah Smith ought to spend a few years contemplating before he continues in the family business, but it is especially something people seeking a Cotton-Bowl sized event ought to consider fully before continuing to endorse and expand such a thing.
The problem is not that God doesn't love large churches, or doesn't want large churches. The problem is not that God doesn't want us to glorify God and enjoy Him now, which is the starting terminal point of forever. The problem is that when we imagine that the best way -- or even a co-equal way -- of knowing God and glorifying him and enjoying him is by the means of the world, and not the means of the Spirit, we have inverted God's plan for us."
Read the rest here
* Seinfeld reference