B is for Balance
Without question, and I recommend reading the first part of this series, we have observed well-meaning men as they sought to find a balance in how to communicate the truth found in the Word of God. However, as time has shown in many cases, this pursuit of evangelistic elocution has created incredible pedulum swings. As I stated in the first post:
Preachers, once known to figuratively “breath fire” from the pulpits, sweat dripping from their reddened faces, and their body language a mixture of what appeared to be choreographed miming and a grand-mal seizure, are now seen on the edge of wooden bar stools, immaculately trimmed beards and goatees cutting the contours of their faces, and a look of serene, tranquil happiness to match their new delivery of an advanced, relative Gospel.
What is happening? Why has the desire for balance caused such a dramatic pendulum swing in those men and women who have been outspoken advocates of moving toward the center? Mind you, these shifts are not just occuring among the unknown and obscured “rank-and-file” ministries among us. These shifts are occuring among those who have held the titles of conference speakers, dynamic visionaries, and radical leaders. Yet, because of this “shift,” many of these same men and women are barely recognizable due to what they are claiming as “eye-opening experiences” that have demanded a rebranding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What do I mean by this? Men have decided (and I wish I knew what segement of the Bible they are reading that gives them a liberty to build on a new foundation), that the effectiveness of the Gospel message much come with a different image and a different approach. Thus, by radically changing the way truth is articulated and/or altering their appearance (cosmetic, fashion, or facial hair), they are positing that the Gospel must look and sound a specific way; determined now by their newfound revelations. While I could bog down on the rebranded look, I wish to spend more time on the idea of a “rebranded sound.”
What is the Gospel to “sound” like? What does truth “sound” like? Is there a certain pitch, volume, or tone the Gospel should utilize when it is articulated? According to many of these “rebranded men,” the answer to this is either explicitly or implicitly, yes! With their redesigned images seems to come a newfound approach to evangelistic elocution. The Gospel, such men purport, must have a certain sound.
Please understand, this is not merely a subject that is relegated the the rebranded mavericks! In fact, I can attest to several conversations I have had over the years with preachers and/or ministers who have voiced similar ideas. What we fail to understand, is that we are about to crest a wave of generational transition where the voice of dissent, as it relates to the delivery of truth, is becoming an ever-increasing trend.
Let me explain.
First off, in order to properly set the tone for this dicussion, let me begin by defining the word “abuse.” Abuse, when used as a noun, is the “improper use of something.” Thus, the action (verb) of the world is to “use something to bad effect or for a bad purpose; i.e. misuse.” Based on this, anything in life becomes susceptible to misuse, or in this case, abuse. For example, a judge can abuse the power that he/she has been given in order ot secure his/her ethical or political positions. Likewise, a police officer can abuse the framework of law and order by adminsitering force or energy that does not full within the confines of his/her sworn oath to “protect and to serve.”
This is why, in almost every office of public authority, an oath of office is typically administered. Why? It seeks to derail the potential for individuals to abuse their office. Such oaths seek to create ethical and moral guardrails because even secular humanity understands the human tendancy toward a corrupt and fallen nature. Does this mean that an abuse of power will never happen? Unfortunately, no. Every single day we are observing or becoming recipients of such abuses. This brings me to my primary point; abuse can and does happen within the economy of the church as well. I know we would rather avoid this unfortunate fact, but there are men and women guilty of abusing Biblical privledge, authority, and ordained offices.
Lest anyone use this as a means to reject Biblical authority, let me remind us all of an important distinction. Does one remove the need for jurisprudence because of a few corrupt judges? No! Does one eradicate the schools of medicine because there are a few corrupt, negligent doctors? No! That being said, abuses occuring within the ministerial arena does not negate that Biblical dictate for a Biblical pattern of God-ordained ministry! If God’s plan involves man (which it does), then it will always fall prey to moments of abuse! This means that, as it relates to the communicative nature of this treatise, even the pulpit can be abused.
Digressing to the allusion of conversations that I have had with varying ministers over the years, this idea of “abusing the pulpit” is becoming an ever-increasing trend in our current hour. It goes back, as expressed in the first post, to what God impressed into my spirit while in prayer one day: “stop trying to direct the wind and preach the Word!”
Can I speak candidly? Few men could stand firmly under the rigor of divine inspection and not be guilty, at some point in their life, of pulpit abuse. Why do I say this? If I, or any other, uses the pulpit as a platform of manipulation rather than Godly impartation and instruction, I am abusing the purpose of the pulpit. Yes! If I, or anyone else, utilizes the pulpit to promote an agenda that propagates self above Him; I (we) are guilty of pulpit abuse!
Come now! I have watched, much to my chagrin, the occasions where the efforts of men to “direct the wind” resulted in the frenetic expressions of well-intentioned parishoners. Thirty-minutes later, sweat-soaked clothes, voice hoarse from yelling, and dead-tired saints; nothing has been broken and no lives were radically transfromed. However, at least the preacher and/or people felt that “beast mode” had been achieved (I say this in jest of course.)
The Body Screams of Deficiency
Where does this fit into the conversation at hand? How does this relate to communicating the truth? Well, it comes down to one issue, other than deception and doctrine, that seems to be causing an alarming amout of private/public relfection. Alot of men are questioning how the Gospel should be communicated. Men and women are beginning to tire of the “same-ole” frenzied demonstrations that seem to lack life-changing power. People are becoming desperate for what is real. Take a look around the world of “compromising Christendom” and you will quickly find the word “authentic” to be the driving anthem of the hour.
This is an important subject! Right now, somewhere within the scope of Pentecostalism, men and women are contemplating thoughts, such as: “are we doing this right?” Out of this we have observed and will continue to observe fatal consequences from people who lost their moorings in the process. However, we are also watching an increased fervor in the desire for true, Biblical teaching. Yes, teaching! At the heart of this soul-searching quest that is challening present paradigms of communication is the fact that, for many of us, we are not achieving the “long-term” results we have been praying for. Like the body that is deficient in certain vitamins, the Body of Christ is showing visible signs that reveal an underlying nutritional weakness! We are tired of “flash-in-the-pan” demonstrations and we are craving the solid footing of a true Pentecostal experience that is held up by an accurate Biblical hermeneutic.
So, as we transition into part three of this discourse, keep an open mind. These are important conversations that we must have.