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Protecting churches from cultural accommodation

I was recently directed to the . This statement about protecting developing churches is one I wish all mission-minded churches would embrace:

It is also the purpose of Grace Advance to endeavor to provide protection from things that threaten the church. We will strive to shield developing churches against the dangers of cultural accommodation. The overwhelming trends in the American church are away from doctrine, biblical philosophy, and preaching. Churches once defined by a strong heritage are rejecting theological tradition for the accommodation of secular society. In a world that no longer honors the past and lives only in the moment, the sole criterion for establishing a church is its level of cultural embrace. Nowhere does Scripture challenge the church to win or change the culture by pragmatically tailoring its methodology to attract or infiltrate that culture. In fact, Scripture does quite the opposite when it commands men of God to simply “preach the word” in the face of those who want their “ears tickled” (2 Tim 4:2-3). It is the purpose of Grace Advance to protect churches against such accommodation through the promotion of a biblical philosophy of ministry tempered by sound theology.

We will endeavor to protect churches from historical isolationism. Many local churches remain content to exist without an awareness of the triumphs and failures of previous eras. Their focus is only on the present with no thought given to developing men qualified to carry sound doctrine into future generations. The lax mindset towards church history is evidenced by the reality that denominations are essentially gone or breaking down altogether. Individuals and entire churches no longer stand for anything, and don’t care about their connection to history. The great history of redemption that remained untarnished in the days of the New Testament, and was recovered in the Reformation, holds great ramifications upon the life of the church in the present day. Good ecclesiology demands that there is a historical awareness of and connection to the flow of redemptive history. Grace Advance realizes that the church does not exist in isolation, and seeks to establish churches with one eye fixed upon the patterns of church history, and the other upon defending and preserving the truth for future generations.

We will endeavor to protect against the danger of entrepreneurialism within the church. Many ministries are being built upon the back a whimsical personality rather than upon the rock of God’s word. Such an approach is foolish and wrong because it is enormously damaging to the long-term health of the church. The compelling objective in ministry is not to build ever-expanding ministries to the monument of self, but rather to simply shepherd the people of God to the glory of God. Many church leaders have forgotten the reality that the ministry and its mission are significant – they are as individuals are not. Because the Lord builds His church using His church, pragmatic innovation stemming from personality should find no place. We hold that churches must be doctrinally oriented and biblically designed having been set apart from the personality of the leader.

Finally, we will endeavor to protect against the danger of imprecise doctrine. Many churches refuse to take stands on important contemporary doctrinal matters. Such churches hold the attitude that it is superior to not have a doctrinal statement, than to be divisive through stating one’s beliefs. Worse yet is the prevalent idea that any aspect of life is fitting for the spiritual instruction of God’s people. The defense and promotion of comprehensive doctrinal accuracy as revealed by the Scriptures is a crucial activity of the church. Historically, intrusion into sound doctrine typically begins with compromise on issues deemed to be secondary in importance. Where the Word of God is clear on issues of theology, churches ought to be clear as well. It is a travesty for congregations to remain ignorant in the name of unity or in favor of more entertaining methods of communication. Grace Advance understands and seeks to promote the reality that the people of God must be instructed accurately in the truth of God.


Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

3 Responses to Protecting churches from cultural accommodation

  1. Can't help but wonder if the author ever watched any of rhe "Resoved Conference"music videos. If that is not accommodating to the culture then I wonder what is! The statement looks great but Paul and John warned us to look at the walk of those who influence us.

  2. It's interesting, Bobby, a couple years ago I mentioned this apparent contradiction to Phil Johnson. What MacArthur puts in print (and official policies), and the practices of their youth ministries do appear to be at odds. Johnson said he was going to ask MacArthur about it, but I never heard anything.

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