Monday, February 20, 2012

E@Church - Yay or Nay?!

There's a fascinating development going on at one of my favourite sites in the USA - Wartburg Watch. They have begun what's called an "E@Church" where anyone on the internet can follow their services and be ministered to by a pastor guy called Wade Burleson.

The premise of this new development is;

"In our three years of writing this blog, we have become aware that a fair number of people have been so hurt and disillusioned by the church that they have dropped out of attending church altogether. After reading story after story about painful experiences, we don’t blame them. We both have been there.

Yet, many of these folks want to be around other Christians as evidenced by the numbers who visit blogs. Most of these have maintained their faith, but some have walked away or are seriously questioning if this faith is real.

So we wanted to provide a place in which a reader could get some of the benefits of church without the requirements that are often inherent in church attendance. We look at this place as a kind of halfway point between no church and church".

Probably even three or more years ago, I would have turned my perfect little Reformed nose up at this and quoted Calvin et al as insisting that a "church" must be a "local body". Hurt or not hurt - I would have insisted - believers MUST go to church whether they like it or not. And let's face it - many don't.

But I think the experiences I have gone through personally since university have softened my heart somewhat to this approach. I think (like the WW girls organisers) that local church which acts like a real family - centered on trust - would surely be ideal. But I have never encountered so many hurting, broken souls in the religious world since my encounters with Sovereign Grace Ministries and their churches. And I think a "half way point" is actually not a bad idea anymore while many of us still continue to search for a new home (or even a place we CAN call home - not a pew we slip into quietly and run before the Welcome Team find us).

One comment that really struck me after E@Church's first "service" was by a dear lady called "Happymom" - who has suffered some horrendous abuse at a large SGM church after her little child was sexually abuse. Happymom wrote that she had never encountered such a "hope-filled message". And the issue of "indwelling sin" came up. Wade Burleson - the pastor - wrote;

"Interesting that you wrote “no mention of indwelling sin.” I just finished preparing a word of encouragement from Hebrews 10:17-18 for a week from Sunday. Those verses say, “This is the covenant … I will remember their sins no more.”

The message is entitled “Divine Amnesia” and it has challenged me to ask the question why so many churches put the emphasis on remembering what God forgets. There’s no denial I struggle with ‘indwelling sin.’ The question is how is it dealt with. I believe the teaching of the New Testament puts the focus on Christ and not the sinner, and until the sinner discovers the greatest ‘high’ is the most High, he will continually fall for the false high sin gives".

I agree with your assessment of Sovereign Grace Ministries. I had never listened to much teaching from SGM until I recently heard testimonies from people who have attended. I went back and listened to some of Mahaney’s messages, and others, who are in leadership at SGM.

You shall know the Truth and He sets you FREE!

I was shocked.

The emphases of their messages are all wrong. It’s as if they use grace to entice sinners into the church and then use ‘law’ and the exposure of sin to keep believers dependent on their church".

While I continue to remain eternally optimistic and hopeful for SGM and their future - I think the AoR report MUST continue to insist on this truth being put right - for the good of the thousands of hurting, needy souls still within SGM.

1 comment:

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

The internet is like David's Adullam's cave. It is the form church takes in between kingdom manifestations.
3 movements in the last 200 years
The spirit-saved evangelical
The soul-saved Spirit-filled/praps mature evangelical
And the body walking thirdleveller

Shoving a pastor into a new wineskin is about as daft as colouring the cabinet of your black and white TV set and calling it colour TV.

The internet is about the whole Body being joined by that which each supplies.