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Church Gimmicks and the Idol of Success


The following quotations are from the article “Church Gimmicks & the Idol of Success” in the latest issue of Credo Magazine “Churchy Gimmick: Has the Church Sold its Soul to Consumerism.”  You can read the article, and others, in full here: Credo Magazine, latest issue

“Following America’s lead, churches around the globe are spending through the roof trying to attract the greatest number of people into their worship gatherings.  Success is the name of the church-growth game.”

“In fact, one of the most frequent questions a pastor receives is, “How many did you have in worship?” or “How big is your church?”  It seems like buildings, bodies, and budgets sideline Christ crucified, a stumbling block and offense.”

“I maintain that the ‘How to’ of being faithful to God in worship and ministry is demonstrated through the ordinary, historic, and apostolic means of grace, particularly, ministry of the Word, prayer, and sacraments.”

“If God has already provided the ordinary means of growing in grace as we find in His Word, why do we think that we have the right or the greater wisdom to invent new ways through entertainment-driven, success-oriented worship and ministry?”

“I plead with you not to be tempted with success, professionalism, or the fading fads of our entertainment-driven culture.  Rather, pursue Jesus as the all-satisfying treasure that He is and strive to faithfully feed His sheep through the means of grace that God has already provided His Church.”

Brian H. Cosby (Ph.D., Australian College of Theology) is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain, Tennessee and author of Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Church (P&R).

Bunyan on Law and Gospel

p33-dustyroom-003-smaller for blog

From The Pilgrim’s Progress[1] :

Then he took Christian by the hand and led him into a very large reception room that was full of dust because it was never swept.  After he had examined the room for a little while, the Interpreter called for a man to sweep.  When he began to sweep, the dust began to fly around so much that Christian was almost choked by it.  Then the Interpreter said to a girl standing by, “Bring water here and sprinkle the room.” And when she had done it, the room was easily swept and cleaned.

“What does this mean?” asked Christian.  The Interpreter answered, “This reception room is the heart of a man that never was sanctified by the sweet Grace of the gospel.  The dust is his Original Sin and the inward corruptions that have made the whole man unclean.[2]  He who began to sweep in the beginning is the law; but she who brought and sprinkled the water is the gospel.”[3]

“Now,” he continued, “as you saw, the dust began to fly about as soon as the first individual began to sweep so that the room could not be cleaned, but you were almost choked by it.  This is meant to show you that instead of cleaning the sinful heart by its works, the law actually engergizes, puts strength into, and increases sin in the soul.[4]  Even though it reveals and condemns sin, it doesn’t have the power to conquer it.”[5]

“Then,” continued the Interpreter, “you saw the girl sprinkle the room with water, which caused it to be easily cleaned.  This is meant to show you that when the gospel comes in, just as the girl settled the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, in like manner the sweet and precious influences of the gospel to the heart conquer and defeat sin.  The soul is made clean through the faith of the gospel,[6] and consequently the soul is fit for the King of Glory to inhabit it.”[7]

[1] John Bunyan. The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English, ed. L. Edward Hazelbaker (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998).  *Please note this is from the The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English ( A Pure Gold Classic) (Pure Gold Classics)
a “modern english” version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and may not appeal to all readers.  A near-original copy may be purchased from Banner of Truth here: or read online in its entirety here:

[2] Matthew 15:18-20

[3] Ephesians 5:25-27

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 5:20

[5] Romans 7:6, 8-11, 24-25; 8:1-4

[6] John 15:3; Acts 15:9; Romans 16:25-26

[7] Psalm 51:9-10; 1 John 4:11-16

Following Along

When I first started writing here, I was a little unsure of how to follow other blogs, how to allow access for people to follow my own blog, and generally all things related.  Recently (and way overdue), I’ve included a couple new ways to make it easier for you to follow here.  On the top right of the page, you’ll see 2 options. One is an orange RSS button that will take you to the page feed.  Clicking on this will give you an address to copy and paste into your news feed reader (Google Reader [which is shutting down in July], Microsoft Outlook, Feedly, or whatever you may want to use) or you can simply click the “Subscribe” button on the feed page and it will store the page as a bookmark.  Another way to follow is via email.  Simply enter your email address and click on the subscribe button.  WordPress will send you an email asking you to confirm your subscription request.  Click on their confirmation and you will receive emails when new posts are made.  Finally, there’s social media.  You can follow along via Twitter @votblog or via Facebook through their Networked Blogs app, just search for the blog.

Hope this helps you in your journey to follow other blogs/news feeds as well.  I know for myself, it was a confusing maze of “how to’s” early on.  And, as always, feel free to leave comments.

In Christ Alone,