13 August 2017

Warrick found an interesting article a little while back, written by the NZ Executive Director of the NZ branch of the Willowcreek organization. It is a large international organization which has a fairly significant impact on many areas of Christian mission around the world. After some recent travels around NZ, he made these observations amongst others.

“My conclusion is that there are now essentially two tribes of Protestant churchgoing people in NZ, and both are attractive for different reasons:
The historic denominational church that has been modernized somewhat—a charismatic/contemporary style of song service but for the rest it is quite traditional. The average age of adults attending these churches is over 50. There are a lot of baby boomers in their late 60’s and senior citizens.
The newer contemporary church that very often (but certainly not always) has Pentecostal roots and a very up-to-the-minute and hip kind of style. The average age of adults attending is around the 40 mark. The church I visited out of town Sunday week ago was definitely a case in point. For example, there were eight people in the band with an age range of 25-35. The Pastor was also in his early 30’s.”

Then he went on to say;
“The sermon delivery and content is various. My overriding concern here is that, sadly, in both types of churches, the exegesis of scripture is largely a lost art form. The preaching/teaching style might be interesting and engaging but the biblical content is light and oftentimes poorly done. On occasion, it is a shocker. *Proof-texting is on the rise. I know this is a generalization but it is a recognised fact that we have the lowest levels of biblical literacy amongst Christians of modern times, and I think this may be one explanation as to why that is. Last week, friends of ours with a strong Pentecostal background asked me, “Where can we find a church with good Bible teaching?” I think this is a very common but unspoken question these days.”

He made some interesting observations and comments from the perspective of someone without an axe to grind. What he says, bears out what I am also hearing from around about, as people comment on the NZ church which now seems perfectly fine in accommodating those from the universalist spectrum (everyone gets into heaven no matter what) to the liberal persuasion (the Bible is an academic exercise to be accepted or ignored at will and God doesn’t exist) to those who still believe in God and His Word as authoritative in the church (have a Biblical worldview). What the world needs is no more of itself; it needs the transformative power of the Gospel which is God’s plan of redemption for all who would believe.

*proof texting means finding text out of context to seemingly support a prefigured argument