Respected Pastor Notes Serious Consequences of Evangelical 'Pragmatism'

by Jim Brown and Jody Brown

(AgapePress) A well-known Christian pastor is warning of a movement in evangelical churches to replace sound Bible teaching with drama, music and other forms of entertainment.

Dr. John MacArthur says many church leaders today do not recognize the dangers that evangelical pragmatism poses. The pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, says churches with a "seeker-sensitive" approach need to prepare themselves for a lot of unintended consequences.

"If you draw people in on the basis of entertainment ... on the basis of the 'psychological fix' [or] on the basis of principles of prosperity [and] success, you're going to have to continue to feed that," MacArthur says. "In other words, that's what got them there and that's what they are going to expect.

"If you say to yourself 'We'll draw them this way and then we'll give them the Bible' -- you come across like a bait-and-switch used car salesman."

MacArthur, host of the popular syndicated radio show Grace to You, says pragmatic churches often find themselves stuck in the mode of meeting superficial needs by attempting to become more creative, clever, and entertaining. As a result, he says, many people in such churches have not gone through a sincere conversion experience.

"Therefore the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is not going on [in a church full of people who are not genuinely converted]," the pastor says, "and you're going to be dealing with sinful people who then are in increasingly important positions in the church and defining what the church is."

MacArthur says pragmatic churches are often more focused on meeting an individual's felt needs, instead of pointing them to Christ.

Perhaps that is one reason why Christian researcher George Barna says America remains one of the largest mission fields in the world. Barna says regardless of its true character and intent, "the Christian community is not known for love, nor for a life-transforming faith."

According to the researcher, one of the reasons the Church is being hindered from fulfilling its mandate is a lack of passion for helping non-believers to receive God's love and acceptance.

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