I don't think the size of a church has much to do with the effectiveness of preaching. If a preacher understands the glory of God, the gospel, the wickedness of his own heart apart from Christ, understands the general wicked heart of man, knows his Bible, is involved in counseling believers and non-Christians, and has been gifted by God to preach and teach, I think he'll do fine. Maybe even in spite of the jumbotron.First of all, there is allegedly audio of Dr. Piper talking to/with Mark Dever about the subject of multiple sites and/or multiple services, and I am dying for a link, so anyone with the mp3 needs to help a brother out.
But that said, what, exactly, is supposed to be happening on Sunday Morning? The Presbyterians, of course, have a very high-minded view of the way we ought to worship, and I can’t really fault them for that – they have a high-minded view of everything. They’re thinkers (well, the good ones anyway), and their view of freeing up the act of worship from preferences and human conceits looks pretty good until you realize that their theology of worship is exactly a human conceit, top to bottom.
That’s not a criticism, really: just one of those things Baptists have to say to Presbyterians in order to keep the prebsys on their toes and to maintain street cred with the weaker-brother Baptists.
Anyway, if that’s how I’m going to play off the regulative principle, let’s imagine for a second (you can’t maintain this mentally for more than a few seconds, so asking for a minute would be gratuitous) that Baptists and their non-denominational kin are right about the broad strokes and that Sunday morning doesn’t have to be one particular “way” but does have to include some things and exclude others.
You know: like God. Sunday morning ought to be about God and not about me personally. It’s like having a birthday party for your 87-year-old Grandma, inviting a bunch of people who say they love her, and then having to bake a different flavor cupcake for each to make sure they all come. They shouldn’t be coming for the cake: they should be coming for Grandma – because they love her, and this party is about loving her, right?
Yeah, OK – so what’s that got to do with preachin’? Adrian Warnock was trying to get my dander up earlier this week by quoting Rick Warren to me in an e-mail, and if I wasn’t so danged busy at work, I would have had 3 parts on that e-mail, but I am, in fact, busy like a bee. But in that, Pastor Warren wanted to say that preachin’ ought to be about application – about “how-to” in the pew.
You know what – that’s pretty good. If I had to vulgarize 1 Corinthians, I’d say it’s Paul’s “how-to” letter to the church at Corinth. But look at what that crazy exegete Paul does in 1Cor: he demands of the Corinthians that all their problems are because they have a wrong view of Jesus Christ -- from their dumb squabbles about who has status to their inability to solve disputes, to their misunderstanding of daGifts, to their abuse of the eucharist, they could get it all right if they just understood who Jesus Christ was and what He has done.
Yes: Paul had to understand that there were people in Corinth, and that they were doing things in real time and space, and that they ought to be doing something else than what they were doing – but the solution was not a self-help program. The solution was Jesus Christ. You may not understand this today, but eventually you will:
Jesus Christ is the SOLUTION to CULTURE.
THE GOSPEL is the SOLUTION to CULTURE.
So if you have a marriage problem – like yours is bad – Jesus Christ is the solution. If you have poor people in your town that you think are causing problems, Jesus Christ is the solution. Your kids are spoiled rotten and you don’t know how to communicate with them? Jesus Christ is the solution. Your church is a miserable bore and you don’t “get anything out of it”? Jesus Christ is the solution.
Many of you right now are thinking, “cent, that’s facile and sloganeering. In what way is Jesus Christ the solution?”
That, my friends, is the primary purpose of reading and expositing the Scriptures every Sunday from now until Christ returns: not to get a better life, but to get Jesus. Time to get Jesus.
So for that purpose, be with God’s people in God’s house on God’s day this week, and try to get a little Jesus while you’re there. You. Not the person you think needs Jesus: you.