Scratching the Itches

SMH: the religion-lite today -- prosperity Gospel, charismatic churches, cheap grace, etc. "Why are they attracting so many followers?"

First, they make people feel good.

Second, there is an energy and buzz to most of the services that are totally lacking from most traditional churches.

Third, they are optimistic -- you won't hear much talk of hellfire or such gloomy things.

Fourth, they seem younger and fresher than their crusty Protestant counterparts.

Lastly, the size and rate of growth are critical parts of their appeal.

Yes, the charo's have always been heavily criticised by the "Sydney evangelicals". However I don't see it as entirely their fault -- there are always itching ears that want to be scratched. They are just doing the part of "pleasing the crowd".

2 Timothy 4:3-4 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Ironically, MBF Friday topics for welcome dinner last Friday and "desert night" on the coming Friday will be "Blessing" (福) and "Happiness" (囍) -- two of Chinese symbols of prosperity. Obviously we are not teaching the new students how to achieve these right here right now, and the message will be kept biblical.

But guess why those topics were picked? To match the Chinese New Year theme, and we know that it is going to be "catchy". Might actually caught some new comers by surprise I think, when they realised that the meeting is actually Christian themed.

I actually managed to strike some good conversation after the welcome dinner on Friday. Probably because of my age, I have became less patient to "chat" about general matters before unleashing "attacks". I spent most of the evening talking to P, a first year EE Master student from Shanghai. I pretty much asked him about how he feels about Christianity after getting his name, where he's from, his course, etc. But then the conversation got a bit heated, which pretty much concluded (30 minutes later) when he confessed that he wasn't interested and he came for the food.

Well. At least he was honest.

Sunday church is at Applied Science, and it was packed. Great to see people coming back. Great to see many new comers joined us for the first time.

However there was an instance where I don't find myself easy during Sunday's service.

It was the music.

Personally I found it a bit over the top. I am actually fine with the music itself -- we have a few more musicians and an electric drum, which I found was a nice fit. However, I did not get what they were trying to achieve. Four song leaders at the front?! The way things were conducted? The atmosphere we were trying to set up? "Shout to The Lord" that did not have lyric changed. Huh?!

I was standing there, looking around, wondering why we were doing this. Was it really necessary to emulate other "high powered" charismatic churches to attract crowds to ourselves? Not sure whether it really works, but have we considered negative effects over people who don't think it is necessary?!

I'll rather have more prayers (which was seriously lacking in our morning services), more missionary corner, more testimonies from fellow students, more O-week mission updates, more ... (obviously not all on the same week). Than singing 4 songs in a row with some lyrics hardly reflect what God has done for us.

Whose itches are we trying to scratch? Yet at the same time we are bashing the "worship" style of those churches?

Okay. Enough rant. Maybe it was just my age again.