Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Stop Trying So Hard


A young woman named Sarah posted the following comment in the last thread. Here is a young person (I'm guessing maybe mid to late 20s) who reminds me of the dog who's always chasing cars and one day when he finally catches one can't figure out what to do with it. Here she calmly and logically states what others have been trying say ever since all the changes were announced, but coming from the viewpoint of a young person whose eyes appear to have been opened, I hope her words carry more weight than those of her elders who have been accused of just wanting to live in the past.

Sarah said...

I used to be one of those proponents that believed churches had to become more entertainment-oriented in order to reach people. The reasoning is that people are saturated by entertainment, that they would be numb to a traditional style of worship, or if churches did productions, they would have to be big in order to compete with companies like Disney for people's attention. You had to make the Gospel look cool if people are going to listen to it.

Now, Bellevue has shifted in that direction, and many other churches around the world as well. As I begin to see it firsthand, I'm no longer a proponent of an entertainment-oriented church. It's funny, because everything I'd wanted Bellevue to become over the years is now taking place, and I don't want it anymore.

It's one thing if an unattached Christian group wanted to use entertainment to reach people. They exist - creative arts groups, comedians, bands, etc. that aren't associated with a church and are able to reach people in fun, unique ways - out there in the real world where people are. I'm all for such groups, but I think that so-called "Christian entertainment" should not be associated with churches. Churches don't exist for that reason, and they were never meant to, if you want to go back to the founding of the New Testament church.

There are several reasons for this, the first of which is one that was completely unexpected for me. It just feels weird and awkward for a church to try and entertain people. Bellevue's 11:11 service seems to be nothing more than a superficial vanity. It's overtly trying to be "cool" and draw people in, and it just rubs me the wrong way. People aren't stupid - they can see through such things, and it's not just Bellevue, it's any church that employs similar psychological devices.

Did it ever occur to churches that people might want a refuge from the entertainment-saturated world and find a spiritual escape from it all? Why do you have to make a worship service compete with Disney or a rock concert? Why do you have to add a stage extension and put up rather pathetic looking decorations in an attempt to create a clearly orchestrated effort to dangle a big, fat worm in front of people's faces so that they'll bite.

I don't think any of it is done for money. Bellevue's not about money, even though it may appear otherwise. I just think they don't "get it." And yes, the contemporary service is WAY behind the times if that's what they're aiming for. I'm sorry, but you don't have someone like Steve Gaines preach at a contemporary service. He's about as anti-contemporary as you can get, even without the tie. Bellevue, if you want to update your service, lose the hokey 11:11 title, lose the preacher, lose the ridiculous sails in the background that try to hide the choir loft, forget the unecessary stage extension that attempts to bring the pastor closer to the people, and just stop trying so hard.


I must respectfully disagree with Sarah's next to last point -- that none of this is done for money. I think much of what's driving all this is money. I think they're pulling out all the stops to bring in more money, but they're shooting themselves in the foot with this plan. The demographic they're targeting is not the demographic with the money. Those are the very groups they're alienating. However, we'll cover that in a future article.

In the "Vision Twenty-Ten" plan we read this:

Corporate worship that is honoring to God will always be a part of Bellevue Baptist Church. The style of service and music will vary to enable the church to reach our culture and encourage corporate worship.


This was a joke going around a couple years ago. But is it really that far from reality?

Sarah's comment raises some interesting questions.

1. Why is it the church's mission to "reach our culture"? Implied in "reaching the culture" is that you become more like "the culture." Has anyone noticed "the culture" lately? Rarely does "the culture" rise to your standards. Rather your standards are more often than not compromised to conform to "the culture's" standards (or lack thereof). We've already seen this in the "dressing down" for church and what appears to be a loss of respect (of self and for others) in behavior. Watch a Bellevue service from a few years ago and compare that to services there today. They may be more relevant to "the culture" now, but in my opinion the quality has suffered.

2. Should "Christian entertainment" such as "Christian rock concerts" or "hunting extravaganzas" or public school teacher in-service days (which have involved some rather un-Christian "entertainment") be brought into the church? I'm talking about a church the size of Bellevue that has the facilities to host large concerts and other events that ordinarily would be held in a secular venue.

3. "It just feels weird and awkward for a church to try and entertain people." I think they call that a slippery slope. Stick around long enough and you'll get used to it.

4. "Did it ever occur to churches that people might want a refuge from the entertainment-saturated world and find a spiritual escape from it all?" You mean like someplace... reverent? What a novel concept! Which begs the question -- what is the "purpose" of church?

5. "I'm sorry, but you don't have someone like Steve Gaines preach at a contemporary service. He's about as anti-contemporary as you can get, even without the tie." Well, he's no Rick Warren, that's for sure, but it's not age. Rick is four years older than Steve Gaines, and a lot of people think Rick's "cool."

I will end with an open letter to the pastor...

Dear Brother Steve,

That was a good sermon you preached Sunday morning. While I'm not necessarily a proponent of "scaring the hell" out of people, I'm encouraged to hear you preach on the subject of heaven and hell. A lot of preachers don't do that today. However, I must tell you, performances like
this one during your sermon Sunday are not helping raise your "coolness score." Not to mention the theology of this particular song is not really biblical, but I digress. Please, pastor, just preach. Don't yell. Don't beat the sheep. Don't sing. Oh, please don't sing! Preach the Word (not your word, but THE Word) and people will respond. Or as Sarah so succinctly put it, "Just stop trying so hard."

80 comments:

32yrs@bbc said...

Sarah's post and your commentary are excellent, and both express what so many of us believe in our hearts (discernment) but are not always able to express with our words. Thank you! Until pastors and their leadership see the deception in the rationalization of their "Let us entertain you" stance, there will continue to be
broken and dying churches. And,sadly, this is happening all over the country. God will not bless that which stumbles His people spiritually and scatters His sheep.

Junkster said...

The moral: Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

gopher said...

Louis Farrakhan when in Memphis Said:

"They're going to prisons and they make a man and a woman whole, the prostitute gets cleaned up, the drug addict gets changed," he said.
"You see a model in Muslims in the Nation of Islam when our people come into the mosque toxic and then are made useful."

Farrakhan said the theme of repairing communities will become the basis of a series of future lectures. The leader regularly speaks
at the movement's headquarters, Mosque Maryam. The lectures are widely distributed throughout the movement.

Steve Gaines in Memphis:

You'll see a model in Memphis at Bellevue Baptist Church when our people

"Rock " & "Roll "

and the younger generation will be saved. Steve Gaines's theme of repairing communities will become the basis of "Bellevue Loves Memphis"

Muslims do Not spend their time being entertained. They mean business. Bellevue seems to think they will win the world by entertaining everyone
and giving them fun. Is that what the underground churches in N. Korea and China are doing?
Their churches are growing at a rate far greater than any here.
Then again Steve Gaines says it's not about numbers of people (but it is about the numbers of $$$)

So who can you believe ?

By the way, there's a story floating around that the Muslim faith so enthralled some Bellevue Staff that they took a group of Bellevue people to
a Mosque, where the women wore a hijab and all were given a copy of the Koran.

Way to go Bellevue....


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TN Lizzie said...

oh, y'all ~ This just makes my heart hurt.

How must our Father feel?

:o(

Awaiting His Return said...

On the off chance that someone at BBC is listening... 1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is NOT in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but from the world.

Are the tools of the world being used to reach the world for Christ? How can you belive God would honor this?

Jesus said said...

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Matt 18: 32-35

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thanks blogmates!

32yrs@bbc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesus said said...

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7: 1-5

Been Redeemed said...

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Matt 18: 32-35

I do wonder how you dare attempt to "correct" others all the while Steve Gaines has stated that Matthew 18 does not apply to him. Please tell us how that works?

New BBC Open Forum said...

The Cult of "Do Not Judge"

Jesus said said...

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:34-40

New BBC Open Forum said...

Good words. Now, would YOU like to say something, or are you just going to quote Scripture? Because we can go tit for tat on that from now on.

all-about-the-truth said...

For a group that loves to slam others for being "out for themselves", your words prove it is actually you that seems to have a problem with that very thing.

First NBOF, WHO ARE YOU to tell ANYONE what they should or should not do in church if they are worshiping God?? For you to tell Dr. Gaines to stop singing?? You have some nerve. You sir are the opposite of what a Christian should be. It just seems you and so many of the others on here cannot help yourselves from spewing hate. If I were you, I would check YOURSELF very closely and I would shut down this blog if you cannot glorify God with EVERY post. What is not biblical about that??

The purpose of any Christian and church should be to reach the WORLD for Christ using ALL means as long as they do not compromise the Word of God. I do not care what Sarah or any of you claim, Bellevue is going after GOD with all of our hearts. We have one main goal and most of those that are at Bellevue know what that is. The 11:11 service is going great and I can speak for myself and my wife in saying that WE ARE WORSHIPING God in that service, just as we have done at Bellevue for many years. It is NOT about us and that is why there has been NO change. The Word of God is being preached and preached is a strong way. The messages are as strong as ever and the opposite of "seeker friendly".

It seems most of you have it ALL wrong. We are not trying to copy what someone else has done. Bellevue is not trying to attrack those that desire a watered down message. The 11:11 is not behind the times at all. It is in God's timing and again, were are not trying to "copy" anything or anyone. We are allowing God to guide us and go before us. IF the 11:11 service is "behind the times" as you say, but a group comes that has a desire to go after God with all their hearts and their lives and the lives of those around them are changed for Christ, well, I think that would speak for itself.

You will NEVER find me telling a pastor or anyone else for that matter to stop singing. That is trying to stop someone from worshiping God and I cannot believe those words were even typed.

Lastly, I am not sure if I will even comment gophers post.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"We are not trying to copy what someone else has done."

Choose your campus

Choose your flavor

11:11

Coffee shop/bistro

New BBC Open Forum said...

AATT,

I'm concerned that an itty bitty blog upsets you so much. It's as if you're uncontrollably drawn to it. Brother Steve told you not to come here. Why are you not obeying him?

One Sunday night a few weeks ago he railed against "anonymous bloggers" and told people reading that stuff was like going home and dumping the contents of their garbage cans onto their heads. That evening the number of hits on the blog quadrupled from the average for a Sunday night! I bet you were one of them, too.

all-about-the-truth said...

Getting ideas from others and not completely reinventing does not mean we are trying to copy anyone. Sure, we have gotten ideas from churches and I think that is a good thing and there is nothing wrongt with it. The praise team and other things back in Dr. Rogers time?? Obviously, nothing wrong with those things either.

Interesting how you picked that out of all in the post to respond to and you gave no answers.

New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin_Luther said...

Bellevue Doesn't want to Get a
"Black Eye "
having a "BIGGG" Family Fun Festival as it "Costs a lot of money" (can't even afford a small one)

and

"there is not a place and time when we share the Gospel to the
whole group"

we would be inundated with

"all Kinds of people"? (whats that supposed to mean?)

So when was the "whole Gospel" presented at the rock concert?

And wasn't "all Kinds of people" at the "rock concert"?

Oh, its just "worship", and who are they worshiping?

Remember Bellevue doesn't want a "Black Eye", now that's new concept.


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New BBC Open Forum said...

I apologize for the "tone" of my 4:53 comment. Now that I had a chance to reread it, it sounded snippy which was not my intent.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Sorry, I had just gone back to reread "gopher's" comment but was responding to "Martin Luther's" comment about "all kinds of people."

I think we all know exactly what he meant. I don't believe he meant for it to slip out like that.

Awaiting His Return said...

all about he truth
By saying we...in your comments
you speak in away to sugest that the people (worshipers) at BBC had any say in the direction the church is going in? I never had that opertunity. Did I miss somthing?

gopher said...

all-about-the-truth said...
"The 11:11 service is going great and I can speak for myself and my wife in saying that WE ARE WORSHIPING God ....
It is NOT about us and that is why there has been NO change. The Word of God is being preached and preached is a strong way. The messages are as strong as ever and the opposite of "seeker friendly"." ( you are right, Steve is not friendly to anyone except his family and maybe those who follow him unquestioning, giving him undesignated money)

Have you ever looked around and see how many of your previous acquaintances are gone?
Look at this "scatter attendance" of the 11:11 service on 10/18/2009

That is with the balcony CLOSED, people are told to move forward, and many 11:00 Sunday School classes have been CLOSED , all in order to force the 11:11 attendance to even come close to "look" like there is anyone there.

all-about-the-truth Loves your Singing Steve, so keep it up.


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WishIhadknown said...

AATT,
I am glad the 11:11 service is going great. If you remember we respectfully asked for a contemporary service just like the one you are enjoying. Remember? It was a good idea then, too. What were we told? NO! “We are one fellowship,” we were told, “We will never have separate worship services as long as I am pastor.” Remember?
Now, three years later, what do we have?
When we elected Gaines pastor I truly believed we were doing the right thing. I did not know how badly we had been lied to that all came out later. I remember bragging to my family that I believed he would do great things at Bellevue but as my then twelve year old daughter, who is gifted at discerning people, told me, “Dad, he’s not the man you think he is.” Talk about from out of the mouth of babes.
It’s hard to admit I made a mistake; it’s hard to admit that I allowed myself to be deceived. Look to the left of you and see the empty seat once occupied by a brother, look to your right and see the empty seat where once a loving sister sat. Has getting your way truly been worth the cost? Has the benefit to you truly been worth the pain that has been inflicted on us? Is Bellevue truly being blessed or does its prosperity come from the inertia generated by people who used to belong there?
Answer the questions.
“Jesus said,” beware when you start accusing us of judging for when you point the finger of accusation at us you have three fingers of your own pointing back at you. Who called whom “trash?”
I do not judge the people of Bellevue or Steve Gaines that is for God. I only know his testimony conflicts with his life and all need to know so they are not deceived like I was. I know the 11:11 service proves Gaines’ word is meaningless. I only know “Dad, he’s not the man you think he is.”

New BBC Open Forum said...

Excellent article by Wade Burleson about "hyperspiritual" language and using "God" as the reason for doing what we want to do.

all-about-the-truth said...

Wish: yes I do remember but I am not sure why that would bother you. First, that was totally different. We were talking about different services at same time that would have been two seperate styles and would have seperated families. For the most part, that is not the case with the 11:11. I would not call these seperate worship services like we were talking about before. Second, what is wrong with changing your mind on something? Dr. Gaines has been very candid and honest about that.

all-about-the-truth said...

Not sure what you mean by "getting my way" or "was it worth it". I did not "get my way". I was happy 5 years and I am happy now. This seems to a common theme and THE issue. These "changes" were no big deal to me. My relationship with Christ is better than ever and that has nothing to do with changes or lack there of.

Dr. Gaines did not deceive you.

Lydia said...

"The purpose of any Christian and church should be to reach the WORLD for Christ using ALL means as long as they do not compromise the Word of God."

What do you do with these?

I Corin 6:5
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?


1Corinthians 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

1Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge

Luke 12
57 “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?

John 7
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Maybe we should look at the context more to have wisdom and discernment. Paul told the Corinthians to JUDGE the immoral man and throw him out of the church so he could be saved.

They had to make a judgement to do that. I suppose your verses mean that churches should keep pedophile ministers on staff because it would be 'judging' them to fire them.

gopher said...

all-about-the-truth said...
"Dr. Gaines did not deceive you."

No, there is a "Game" being played at Bellevue called

"Steve Say's" (just like the old Simon Says)

You say "May I?"

May I have a contemporary service?

May I raise my hands?

May I stand?

May I change the Mission Statement?

May I Sing this song?

May I Sit in the Front?

May I ....?


No You may Not!

But, when "STEVE Say's" - "Yes You May!" then its ok

So during the 11:11 service on 10/25/2009 when the limited people don't "sound" or "act" enthused enough, Steve Gaines "WHIPS" them to get into it.... because "Steve Says" to do it

keeping in mind that

Whatever or Whenever Steve says he is NOT doing something, that is exactly what he IS doing.

So according to Steve, "all-about-the-truth" needs to get with it

At least "midway" will do for now - but what's "all the way" going to mean Steve?

Wonder if the Long Range Planning Committee made any plans for a Replacement ?

{;0

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

EFF > 'Hall of Shame' Calls Out Bogus Internet Censorship.

EFF > Takedown Hall of Shame.

Keeps Living It said...

AATT -

I have two questions for you:

1. You have stated previously that you are a long time member, but you said something about 5 years ago in a previous post - how long have you been a member?

2. Also are you a young adult, are you married, do you have children (young, teenage, or grown), etc?

The reason I ask is not to figure out who you are - I only would like to comment on some of the things you have said and want to have a point of reference. It would be helpful if I had a general idea about your age range, where you were worshiping say 10 years ago and your level of participation both now and then.

Thanks for your time.

all-about-the-truth said...

Member for more than 20 yrs. Married. Younger children.

WishIhadknown said...

First, AATT, what is abundantly clear from your previous writings is you were not “happy” at Bellevue, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. You were truly miserable and I know you will say that you were not but you were and it shows in your writings.
Second, the billboard on the expressway at Bellevue is evidence that the intent is for the 9:30 and 11:11 services to be separate or separated, however you want to characterize it, worship services. None the less, the key word in my quote is the word never. Never; CORE MEANING: an adverb indicating that something will not happen at any time, or that somebody will definitely not do something. Three years ago, Gaines was adamant but three years later not so much.
Third, you evade the real question. Has changing Bellevue been worth the cost? Are the many empty seats that were once occupied by faithful brothers and sisters worth it? These good times comes at the cost of many, many broken hearts. By your own words you say the changes or the lack of changes has not affected your walk then why is it necessary to inflict so much needless pain on your brothers and sisters? Look around you; the cost of supporting Gaines no matter what he says or does has been extraordinarily high. To me, seeing the many empty seats is heart breaking regardless of whether I support Gaines or not.
Forth, you say “My relationship with Christ is better than ever and that has nothing to do with changes or lack thereof.” I cannot address the quality of your walk. I cannot know your heart, only the Holy Spirit knows.
I know I write the following at the risk of its meaning being twisted into something I do not intend. I know of those who speak of their relationship with Christ publically but privately make fun of those of us who claim Christ as Savior and Lord. I write this as a warning not as an accusation.
You say Gaines did not deceive me that is something you cannot know. My testimony is that Gaines deceived me. He deliberately led me to believe he is someone that he is not; that is deceit, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. “Dad, he’s just not the man you think he is.”
Oh, AATT, I sincerely thank God for you.

32yrs@bbc said...

So during the 11:11 service on 10/25/2009 when the limited people don't "sound" or "act" enthused enough, Steve Gaines "WHIPS" them to get into it.... because "Steve Says" to do it
----------------------------------
I watched the video and I saw a smile with no warmth or joy. I heard words harsh and demanding instead of warm and loving. That is primarily why there are now so many empty seats.

all-about-the-truth said...

I am sorry that is what YOU saw 32, but that was not the case. You and others see what YOU want to see and out of the color classes you WANT to see out of. That is what is sad.

all-about-the-truth said...

Wish: How dare you act as if you know anything about me. I COULD come on the blog and BLAST you and everyone else many times over, but I do not and it would not be right if I did. I think you are dead wrong and many other things but it is not my place to go there on a blog. Trust me, one could "assume" a great deal by your post, but again that is the not the right thing to do.

I LOVED Dr. Rogers and served with him and beside him for many years. The same with Jim, Jamie, and on and on and on. I was vetry close with many who are no longer at Bellevue. YES I WAS HAPPY and still am. I love Dr. Gaines and the current staff and I know them and they are NOT as you claim, sorry. Programs will come and go. Changes have always happened and always will. I could continue on forever. My God does not change and DID not change when Dr. Gaines came along. There are people still at Bellevue serving, singing, teaching, preaching, loving, working, witnessing, and so on ALL for the Glory of God. There is nothing that you can say to change that no matter how hard you try. God is still at work at Bellevue and always will be as long as those that attend seek after Him with all their hearts.

I could care less to comment on the billboard.

You are right, their has been a great cost no matter what Dr Gaines has said or done and many will stand before the Lord one day and will have to answer for THEIR actions.

I evade nothing. I NEVER have my questions answered.

Your forth comment does not deserve a response.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"I evade nothing. I NEVER have my questions answered."

{raises hand} I seem to recall asking you a question the other day. I don't remember you ever answering it though.

gopher said...

all-about-the-truth said...
"I am not sure if I will even comment gophers post."
"I could care less to comment on the billboard."
"Your forth comment does not deserve a response."

and then says...
"I evade nothing."

Feel the "love" from this follower of (who ?)
"How dare you ... I COULD come on the blog and BLAST you and everyone else many times over,"

"You and others see what YOU want to see and out of the color classes you WANT to see out of. That is what is sad."

"I think you are dead wrong....."

Where is Solomon now?

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all-about-the-truth said...

gopher: Holding back and not commenting on a crazy comment that does not deserve a response is not evading a question. I refuse to trash others in the way many of you do on here and many times you get very specific and you assume a great deal. I do not feel it would be fair or right for me to do that.

Keeps Living It said...

AATT -

Thanks for answering my questions - now if you don't mind I'd like to have a conversation with you about a few things:

Let me say we agree on this - God's work is still being done at Bellevue. I believe most are doing it for His Glory.

Now since you have been there since the late 80's or early 90's you know what it's like to be at a vibrant growing church. I think we also agree that church growth has nothing to do with programs or productions, correct? It is the selfless and humble preaching of The Word of God. So my question to you is why has the church lost so many STRONG Christians over the last 4 years? Please don't say it's only because Dr. Rogers died or Mrs. Rogers left because I know you're smarter than that.

Attendance is down more than 40+% in the last 6 yrs with the most dramatic drop happening in the last 18 months - these are not my figures but straight out of the annual report dated June 2009.

About the split service - this is not this church's calling, nor has it ever been. I don't know how it effects your family but it is splitting up so many families' time of worship. They are pushing the youth to go to the 11:11, while many of the parents are either serving in the 9:30 or their SS's are at 11. I suspect your response is "well change so you can go together" - however things are not that simple and more importantly why are we making families make that choice??? Again, I would understand if we were called but we are not - just look at the attendance figures for evidence of that. They are already dropping in the 11:11 as are the numbers in the 9:30 combined choir and orch.

One other thing I wanted to talk to you about is you said God is going to hold people accountable and you could not be more correct!

- He will hold accountable the people who have left out of anger and emotion, but should have stayed and held this Pastor accountable.

- He will hold accountable the men who are there now, but afraid to rise up and not let this church be taken hostage.

- He will hold accountable the group of men who are more interested in their current positions of power and authority than the spiritual health of God's church - oh whoa be to them!

- But lastly, and perhaps most importantly, He will hold accountable the shepherd who has scattered the flock like a wolf in sheeps clothing - they are all over Memphis.

Jesus is the head of this church but Steve Gaines alone is the shepherd. I believe that he, and he alone, will give an account for all he has done and not done during his time at Bellevue. The sheep are not only scattered, they are beaten and grieving and only he -through the power of the Holy Spirit - can change that.

This church has struggled mightily over the last 4 years and what I am about to say is very hard to write, but I believe it to be the truth: The Pastor has tried every program, spent VAST amounts of money, and changed staff to better suit him. He has done this in the name of "God's will or evangalism" but if we are all very honest with ourselves we can see it for what it is - a way to stop the decline in attendance. There truly is only one way to stop this decline - and I think if you and everyone look deep down and ask God's will they know what it is.

I am sorry because I have probably made you angry and that is not my intention - you are my brother in Christ. However, I would ask you to honestly look at the question I asked, along with the evidence presented, and give me your thoughts about why the church is declining.

Thanks for your time.

New BBC Open Forum said...

On that same note...

32yrs@bbc said...

Keeps Living It:
Thank you for speaking the truth with love. That's the way it should be on this blog site. You state the facts as they are, and you do it without giving into an emotional tirade against those who disagree with you. God does not want us to deny truth/facts and be passive in order to get along with our brothers in Christ. But neither are we to be at war with one another with personal attacks; otherwise the enemy of our souls gains the victory.

I agree 100 per cent with all you've said. The reality of what has transpired these past 4 years
cannot be denied if one truly has their eyes opened.

all-about-the-truth said...

I find it interesting that in your list of those to blame, you left out the MANY that were and some still are guilty of lies, slander, rumors, personal attacks, name calling, and on and on. Those things were used by the devil in a mighty way. I am still amazed at some of the crazy things I hear that I know personally are lies. The devil had a stronghold on many and still does on some and that added to some things and caused others. I would not use the word "strong" Christian so carefree and that would not describe some things I witnessed. There is a reason the Bible talks about those actions I listed above, they can do major damage. I am in no way saying there is no blame that goes to those remaining at Bellevue from the top down. I think that has been admitted.

sickofthelies said...

AATT

Did it bother you when SG allowed Paul Williams to stay on staff and council women who had been abused by their fathers, knowing that HE had sexually abused his own son?

Did it bother you that he had compassion for the man who would sexually abuse his own son, but had no compassion whatsoever for the victim?

Does it bother you that members of SG's family refuse to tip a waitress? Does it bother you that SG treats wait staff in a hateful manner?

Is your heart as cold as his?

New BBC Open Forum said...

AATT sounds a lot like our old friend, "hisservant/4545." Or "heardenuf" (aka PJ) or "overflowing*cough*grace."

Just sayin'.

Keeps Living It said...

AATT -

I hear what you are saying and will be happy to discuss all of that with you, but first could you answer this one question I have for you:

I would ask you to honestly look at the question I asked, along with the evidence presented, and give me your thoughts about why the church is declining.

Again, thanks for your time

Keeps Living It said...

32yrs

Thanks so much for your comments they are kind.

It is, and has been, a long journey but The Lord is good and has always been faithful. I am trusting God to take care of all of this.

Selfishly I hope I am around to see this happen, but I know I may not be - please keep praying for Bellevue.

You sound like you have suffered, but I pray you have found some peace. I do hope someday we can meet.

solomon said...

New BBC Open Forum said...
AATT sounds a lot like our old friend, "hisservant/4545." Or "heardenuf" (aka PJ) or "overflowing*cough*grace."

Just sayin'.


Gee, maybe we're all the same person who's just conspiring to irritate you. Or maybe you're losing even more of your marginal people skills and everyone who doesn't idiotically nod in agreement with your rants looks the same to you.

Please tell gopher that you won't allow me to post anymore since I've recognized and pointed out that the majority of your statements are made simply to gratify your flesh. Seems like someone who asserts that public figures are fair game for criticism would be more thick skinned, but hey, it's your blog.

I suppose I could speak to "her" myself, but out of respect to the Rogers family I won't reveal "her" identity. Not even if her grandmother's gone off the deep end.

At least not for now, anyway.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Off your meds again today, "solomon"?

Uh, gopher? I believe "solomon" is trying to tell you something. I have no idea what, but maybe someone with better people skills than I will get it.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Gee, maybe we're all the same person who's just conspiring to irritate you."

Maybe, but all you're accomplishing is amusing me. :-D

New BBC Open Forum said...

"solomon,"

Contrary to what you might think or what you claim, the reason I stopped publishing your comments was because you ridiculously accused (and continued to accuse) people of issuing "death threats" against you, Steve Gaines, and others. Write anything you want on your blog (if you still have a blog), but you're not going to spew that nonsense here.

all-about-the-truth said...

I have no idea who Solomon
is or the history there. Sorry

New BBC Open Forum said...

It's okay. Nobody else knows who "solomon" is either.

Junkster said...

Nass,
Pay no mind if a Toilsome Honk seeks to irritate you.

New BBC Open Forum said...

It's a conspiracy, Junk. I bet Sinkhole Moot and Ken Smooth Oil are part of it.

WishIhadknown said...

What about those of us who obediently left Bellevue because the preacher demanded that we leave? Are we accountable?

Keeps Living It said...

wish:

Before I can answer your question about your accountability - perhaps you could clarify "the preacher demanded we leave" comment

Are you referring to a time that he personally told you to leave or to one of the blanket "if you don't like it you can leave" statements he's made?

MOM4 said...

Off your meds again today, "solomon"?

Uh, gopher? I believe "solomon" is trying to tell you something. I have no idea what, but maybe someone with better people skills than I will get it.

11:10 PM, October 28, 2009

I know who "solomon" is, and don't let these rantings disturb you. Just another psycho with babblings aplenty and nothing better to do.

32yrs@bbc said...

Keeps Living It:
I do have peace because Jesus is my peace. He never changes. So much is changing so quickly in our churches, and in our nation, and both are becoming weaker because of it. Psalm 11:3 asks: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The foundations of truth and liberty, a reverential fear of God, and sound doctrine of the faith are being undermined. I have peace in knowing that Jesus is ultimately in control and one day will make it all right. But at the same time I grieve over the destruction of that which was once cherished and valued. I want to ask those who have supported Obama, and those who "swallow and follow" in our churches when they know in their hearts things are not right,
"How is this change working for you? Are you better off now than you were before?"

Sarah said...

I decided to take a peek at this blog again - I haven't visited since I made my comment. To my surprise, it was the center of attention in this post. Since you made it such, I would like to clarify some stuff that I think was misunderstood. By the way, you got my age right. I gotta do this in more than one comment because it's a bit long.1) Bellevue needs money like any church to survive and sustain their programs. I know that Bellevue doesn't do all that it does for money. What they're doing is about soul-winning and discipleship. That's what they honestly believe. However, I know not everyone will agree with me. Trust me, I know plenty of non-Christians who think Bellevue and any church of its size and influence are all about the money. It's hard not to think that from superficial appearances. You're free to think what you want, and maybe I'm incredibly naive, but I just don't think it's about the money.

2) My comments weren't so much meant for Bellevue as they were meant for the Church as a whole. Having gone to college and working in secular environments - not just in Memphis but in Los Angeles as well - I know how the world thinks about God, the church, the Bible, and Bellevue members - mostly people 35+ - have no clue. They think they understand what the world thinks, but they're very ignorant. I have encountered this many times among members - even in a DiscipleLife class. I actually got into a civil argument with a couple of men, sharing the viewpoint of the world that I know intimately. They didn't believe me, and couldn't even comprehend my argument because they'd been so brainwashed by the "because the Bible says so," and "because that's what the pastor preaches," they were totally clueless. Furthermore, many "kids" from my generation, who grew up at Bellevue by the way under Dr. Rogers, have completely turned their back on Christianity and don't believe what they were taught as kids. To be honest, I've been struggling myself. Why? The church doesn't understand the world, and I couldn't find the answers to any of my questions from church. Even from a pastor like Dr. Rogers - and you can forget about Steve Gaines. Nothing agains the guy personally, but he's as naive as the next guy about the world.

Sarah said...

3) Taking from point (2), the world doesn't respect the church because the church is ignorant of the world. I think some changes are good - I don't care if you don't dress up for Sunday morning. In California, people come to church as they are, and the kids even bring their skateboards into the service. They don't ride them in the church, but they ride them to church and stash them under the seat. They wear Vans and flat-billed caps, jeans, t-shirts, and even the pastors don't always dress up. It's the way it is out there, and most contemporary churches are like that. Hey, people didn't have to dress up to go to church in Paul's day, and Jesus could care less what they looked like. It's not about dress - or even music. So what if they sing contemporary songs. So what if the pastor wears jeans. There's no rule that church has to be formal. Those kind of changes don't matter, and it's petty to make a big deal out of them.

4) Bellevue's contemporary service is WAY behind what is the norm. I've been to services in California, and they don't sing hymns out there. They don't dress up. Some places in the country have full-blown concert-like stages and play "Rock Band" on the Wii to open the service up, and the pastor would be more suited to host a show on MTV than be a more traditional pastor. If Bellevue thinks its contemporary service is "hip" then they, again, have no clue. Still, it comes off, as it does in any of these churches, as bait for the fish. Trust me, the people of the world see right through it, and ultimately it will turn them away from church rather than appeal to them. I know this, because I associate with the young people they're trying to appeal to. Most of my non-Christian associates won't even step foot into Bellevue, and if you tell them there's a coffee bar or a rock band, they'll laugh in your face and call your church hypocritical. Even I agree with them.

Sarah said...

5) My comment about Steve Gaines not being contemporary had nothing to do with age. There are some really cool people in their 60s or 70s, but Steve Gaines just doesn't fit the bill. I'm not referring to watered-down preaching either. I'm trying not to criticize him, but his style of preaching, his southern mileu, and the way he comes across is about as traditional as you can get. I can sit and listen to him try to make points, and I'm thinking, this guy just has no idea. I could go up there and debate him, using arguments that I've encountered in school or elsewhere and back him into a hole that he can't get out of. A more contemporary pastor knows how to address issues in a way that will at least get people to listen instead of immediately turning people off - which is what Gaines does from my perspective.

Now, I know this comment seems to contradict a lot of what I said the first time, but it's really to clarify things. I'm not a proponent of a traditional service where people have to dress up, sing hymns, have a choir, etc. Those are traditions that aren't necessary to the healthy running of a church. Nor am I proponent of the ultra-cool contemporary service that does try to hard to convice people that the Bible is cool and that going to church is no different than hanging out at Starbucks or a concert - which is exactly what Bellevue is trying to do with the Vision 2010 Plan. Again, I'm not hounding on Bellevue alone - a lot of churches are doing this, and is it a coincidence that the church is barely relevant in society anymore?

The church is relevant to the world anymore because churches are trying not to be churches. Why would I want to go to church because they have the cafe to hang out in, or the cool music with the awesome stage and lights if I can do that elsewhere in the world and avoid the Bible being shoved down my throat in the process?

Sarah said...

If I was a lost person who was really looking for God, I would avoid churches that have all the bells and whistles. The last thing I'd want to do is have to go throuh all of that just for some soul-searching. I want a church that's a church - something that I can't get anywhere else in the world. When churches cease to be that one thing people can't get anywhere else, then what's the point in going to them anymore? Christians are basing the relevancy of their religion on how cool it is compared to the culture of the world. What they don't understand is that the world doesn't see Christianity that way. The world could care less if your church used a projector in the service for the song lyrics. What they want from Christianity is a refuge from culture and the world, not an emulator of it.

I think that somehow the idea that the church needed to cater to the modern needs of the culture got misunderstood into the idea that the church had to become like the culture in order to cater to it. The church's role in society is to help the community, be a place of refuge for that community, offer the Gospel to those who are open to it, and providing a place where members of the church can "gather together." That's all. Plain and simple.

If reaching out to the community means letting the schools hold their meetings in the church, then fine. Churches have always been a community meeting place in society, and I don't care if an outside group wants to use it. It's a service to the community, and not everything a church does has to have evangelism behind it - that's almost strictly a Southern Bapstist viewpoint.

So, you can agree with me or not. It doesn't bother me either way. My arguments are based on petty superficial criticisms. They're based on a deeply rooted problem that I see in the church as a whole these days, and it does bother me that Bellevue is going right along with the very ideas that are making the problem grow. I think Bellevue has done some really great things by reaching out to the community - something that wasn't done enough under Dr. Rogers' leadership. But if Christians and churches don't wake up and understand what the real problem is, then the church will become even more irrelevant than it is.

Sarah said...

There were too many typos in my last comment, so ignore it and use this one. I promise, I'm not a blog maniac who is comment-happy. This is it. I promise. Thanks for putting up with my slew of comments - if you haven't stopped reading them by now.

I'd like apologize for the number of my comments - I just want your readers to understand these things. Also, I've got some typos in there, but I'm sure you can figure them out. Most notably, I meant to say in my last comment that my arguments "aren't" based on petty criticisms.

Also, I want your readers to understand that just because the church shouldn't try to be like the world, doesn't mean that they shouldn’t try to understand the world. The church needs to update how they put across the Bible and Christianity. If they don't, then they turn out people like me and my generation who do think the church has become less relevant, and does not have the reasonable answers for our questions.

Here's a great example: If the typical non-Christian I know listens to a preacher talking about heaven and hell, and that we should repent and ask Jesus to save us, that person would walk away going, "Who freaking cares?" People don't care about heaven and hell these days, and furthermore, why do they have to be saved? Who are Christians to impose their viewpoints on the rest of the world and feel sorry for people who don't believe as they do, and thus, are going to hell?

That's no way to reach society. The church needs to learn how to preach Biblically, but take into account the viewpoint of the world. If a preacher doesn't do that, and if the church membership doesn't understand that, then the world could care less about church, and rightfully so.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Sarah,

No problem whatsoever with the number or length of your comments. I'm happy to hear from someone with a unique viewpoint. I think I agree with most of what you said.

Note I didn't say SG's "cool factor" was related to age either. On that we agree.

"People don't care about heaven and hell these days, and furthermore, why do they have to be saved?"

As I said, I'm not a proponent of "scaring the hell" out of people, but I think the answer to that question is very important. People should care about heaven and hell. The question is how do we convince them to care?

What, in your opinion, should a church be? I know you mentioned the church as a refuge and something unique from the world (I agree), but what does that look like? How are we to reach out to people without looking like idiots? I'm genuinely curious because I've come to realize I have no idea!

Sarah said...

Thanks for your generosity. I don't mind if you disagree with me on some things - it's good to address each other's concerns, and I'd be happy to hear what you don't agree with.

I think that people in reality look past the superficial and try to figure out what you're about underneath. That's why I say that most non-Christians, whether a church has a contemporary service or not, could care less. I think that it is perhaps less intimidating to a lot of people if they feel they can step foot into a church as they are, even if it means they're wearing jeans, have tattoos, or are sporting a mohawk. I thought it was great that kids could bring their skateboards into a service in L.A. and no one cared.

If you look back at the New Testament church, they were really an active part of the community. Christians were very much a part of the world, though they held their behavior to a different standard. They didn't reject people or friendships based on beliefs. They didn't try to make church into an event to draw crowds. The problem with churches who are transforming what they look like, i.e., building coffee bars, building fancy stages, trying to make the youth areas compete with MTV, etc., is that they appear to be more concerned with the superficial than the message underneath. Non-Christians are concerned with the message underneath, not outward appearances. I think most non-Christians, young people included, would rather attend church in a run-down basement than a state-of-the-art worship center if they could get the Christian message honestly communicated to them in a way that is relevant to their lives. That's why many non-Christians are turned off by churches who try to make the message look cool, because they're smart enough to figure out that if you have to go to all of that trouble to make Jesus appeal to them, then there must not be much truth and depth to the message. Now, Christians may not see it that way, but that is the perception of a lot of people, whether it's true or not.

Sarah said...

Bless the churches' hearts, they think they are doing the right thing, and I applaud them for their efforts. They just don't "get it," as I've stated before. There have been actual studies done to test whether what I've told you is true, and not surprisingly (to me anyway) the results came back that if a non-Christian were to walk into a church for the first time and see a coffee bar, immediately he would walk back out or never visit there a second time. Again, I'm not picking on coffee bars, I'm trying to make a larger point. What might seem cool to church-going Christians is perceived as the exact opposite to outsiders. Why? Because a non-Christian doesn't go to church to get the Starbucks experience. They go to church to see what Christianity is about, and to see if it's real. If they feel like they are trying to be persuaded about what to believe based on appearances, then Christianity comes off as a plastic religion instead of a reality that they can live in.

So what is a church supposed to look like? I don't have all the answers, but I can offer my observations. First, a church shouldn't be concerned about tradition. Things like dressing up for church or only singing hymns really are a thing of the past. Churches need to be open enough to let people dress how they feel comfortable as long as it isn't inappropriate. If they like to wear jeans, then let them. If they want to wear a suit and tie, then by all means. A church that makes a big deal out of dress is one that will quickly turn away non-Christians. God doesn't care what you look like as long as it isn't hurting anyone (including yourself), so why should we?

Secondly, a church should be open to different styles of worship. I like hymns, I like a choir, I like bands, I like electric guitars, and I could care less if I'm reading words off a screen or out of a hymnal. Times change, and to ignore these basic changes would be idiotic. If a church wants to have a contemporary band play, then let them - as long as it comes across as genuine. Where it stops looking genuine is when you add the concert-like stage, the cool set, the fancy lights, and everything else that tries to make it appeal more to people. I don't mind all of those things in a rock concert, but when I encounter them while I'm in a church service, they seem out of place. Why? I have a theatrical background and I know from a designer's standpoint, you add all of those things for entertainment purposes only. They serve no practical purpose otherwise. You don't have to acquire a theatrical background to intuitively understand that concept, and many people who attend these services do understand it. It adds a "fake" element to the service, and in a place where you're trying to do some real soul-searching, that undermines the "authentic" message that is being touted. It's yet one more reason non-Christians call the church hypocritical.

Another issue with making the church and the service fancier and more culturally relevant is that it costs tons of money to do so. Running all of those extra lights during the service costs money. Building coffee bars and waterfalls costs money. The church thinks that they are using the money wisely by investing it into their facilities in hopes to attract more people to church, all the while the people they are trying to attract are wondering why the church isn't using that money to help the poor or reach out to the community. Thus, the cycle continues - church spends money to bring in lost souls, lost souls avoid church because it's spending the money...

Sarah said...

So, what it boils down to is this: the church needs to not worry about what it looks like and start worrying about what the message looks like underneath. Don't think that if you try to make the church look relevant by emulating culture then the message somehow becomes more relevant. The only way that the world can see if the message is relevant to their lives is if they look past the superficial and see if what's underneath is genuine or not. The church needs to worry more about getting people to care about the Bible, God, and figure out how to address current issues that the world seems to have rational answers to, but the church does not. Christians who tell people to look at what the Bible says and therein lies all the answers are naive if they think it's that simple.

The question then becomes, how do we make people care? A lot of churches think the way to make them care is to change the "look" of the church. The only problem is, you can't see the soul inside of every human being, it goes deeper than what the eye can see. So, churches need to adopt the same philosophy. Get to the heart of the issues instead of trying to mask them. And when a pastor does get "real" with who he's talking to, he needs to understand where they are coming from and be ready with the answers to some hard questions. To dismiss someone's viewpoint just because the Bible doesn't agree with it, only serves to alienate that person. A pastor needs to be smart enough, and educated enough on modern culture to communicate the Biblical message in a way that leaves people open to it. If the church is not open to what the world thinks, then the world will not be open to the church. That may sound very liberal to a lot of conservatives, but it's really not. You can be open-minded without compromising what you believe. I bet that most people at Bellevue have never encountered a homosexual before, much less had to work with him or her on a daily basis. I have, several times in fact, and you have to be open to them if you expect them to respect you and your viewpoints on things. It's just the way it is, and if you're one of those who thinks that you don't need the respect of someone who is not living according to Biblical standards, then you are part of the modern problem of churches. It may have been that way thirty years ago, but you do have to be more tactful and more educated in the way you present the Gospel message these days, and you have to be genuine.

Sarah said...

In conclusion, I think church has a very special place in society, but it needs to remain in its place. It might need to modernize in terms of dress code or worship styles, but leave out the superficial vanities that are unnecessary. A church is a place of rest for the soul, not a country club, coffee house, or concert venue. It should be a place where people can simply gather without any distractions and focus on the profound spiritual issues in life, or help out someone who is in need. A church should serve its community by not only going out and helping, but also allowing the community to come in when they are in need of a facility for something important. A church should be a place where its members can come together and encourage one another, and get their souls refreshed. It should be a place where a homeless person can walk in and ask for help, and get it. And, if the church wants to put on a Christmas production, then great. The community loves it, but don't make it about trying to compete with Disney. Everyone loves a cool show, but you can put on an awesome production without dropping half a million bucks on it.

I'm all for Christian artists putting on concerts, or creative arts groups putting on shows, or Christian comedians doing their thing, or even a Christian theatrical company producing Broadway-style shows. If they're not associated with a church, then they don't have the other responsibilities of a church, and I think it's cool. They can reach society in a completely different way than a church. But what they do is not the job of a church. A church needs to be a church, the same as its always been with a few necessary modernizations, but if people start coming to church because it "looks" cooler than it used to, then I see a real problem with that. The problem isn't in the looks, it's in the lack of a genuine, tactful, educated presentation of the message. A philosopher doesn't need a fancy room and equipment to persuade a person to his way of thinking. He just has to sound legitimate. That's what the church is failing to do, and none of the changes Bellevue or any other church is proposing will fix it.

I'd be happy to address any disagreements by your or your readers.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Wow. Where have you been all this time? Thank you for taking the time to expound.

I don't know that I disagree with you about anything. I just said the subject of heaven and hell should be important. I'm not sure if I was disagreeing with you on that or not. :-)

Having been raised in the church, I was never in a position to have to be "attracted" to church so it's difficult for me to relate in that way to people who've not been involved in a church. I agree so much of what we see churches doing today is "plastic." And I'll be honest with you. That was my first impression of Bellevue years ago, but I tried for a long time to convince myself it was "just me." (I've since learned it wasn't.)

Good word -- plastic, and that's precisely why you're seeing your peers leave the church in droves. The "plasticness" and the corruption at Bellevue and in the SBC in general, hypocritical "pastors" who think of themselves as little kings and the churches as their fiefdoms, the misapplication of scripture to keep women (especially wives) in their "proper" places and the sheeple blindly unified, and the idea that a church is a business are but some of the reasons why I have become pretty much turned off by "church." My faith in God is stronger than ever, but I now see that some of my trust of men was very misplaced.

I don't pretend to have the answers, but I agree with you that all the millions Bellevue proposes to spend on this big "vision" aren't the answer. Much of it is just more whitewash.

I think this is where we may be miscommunicating more than disagreeing when I say it's all about the money. I plan to write an article on the "Vision 2010" thing later in which I'll explain more. I do believe many of the people left at BBC are sincerely doing all this for all the right reasons, and because of, or perhaps in spite of, their efforts, people will continue to come to Christ. I'm sure you know what else they say about good intentions, too.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I actually like the concept behind "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis." What I don't like about it is the way they're constantly slapping themselves on the back for all they're doing. The billboards and trailer(s), the videos on the IMAGs, the "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" clothing line (has anyone spotted bumper stickers yet?)... it all just smacks of Phariseeism. "Look at us! We're so spiritual! Look what all we're doing! Aren't we wonderful?" To me, it tarnishes what otherwise seems to be a good thing and makes the motives behind the actions seem suspect. I would hope that a lot of what is being done to help others is being done quietly without all the fanfare, but all the fanfare over what they are doing only cheapens it.

I also can't understand why it's necessary, with all the families and individuals who truly need help, that so many of the BLM projects involve schools and other public facilities. Is this not why we pay taxes? Are the people who live in the neighborhoods around the churches, firehouses, schools, etc. helping, or are only Bellevue people doing the work?

Totally agree with you on the "Disney production" thing! I have always thought it's absolutely disgraceful for a church to charge people to come to what's supposed to be a presentation of the gospel. If a church cannot afford a Christmas or Easter "show" without charging admission, they need to scale down the production until they can. For at least two years prior to this year on Halloween the church has dropped thousands of $$$ on the "Family Fun Festival" for which no admission was charged to members or visitors. (This year the money pit is awfully shallow, so the FFF was scrapped.) But they charge members and visitors alike for the SCT and MPP which are supposed to be Bellevue's "gift" to the community. It's embarrassing to see billboards and TV ads running now (how much are those costing anyway?) for the SCT encouraging people to "buy your tickets."

You know, I think instead of the $$$ that they had to have spent on that whole "Vision 2010" thing they should have hired you, Sarah. It sounds like you have a much better grasp on reality than the "visionaries."

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Bless the churches' hearts, they think they are doing the right thing, and I applaud them for their efforts."

You're from the South, aren't you?

Sarah said...

Hehe...yeah I'm from Memphis. I don't normally talk that way, or write that way, that phrase just happened to pop into my head at that moment.

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate where you're coming from, and I'm really trying to work on my inclination to criticize right now. So, I'll just say that I agree with you about Bellevue (I grew up there, so I can), but my arguments really transcend Bellevue and include all churches. I don't mean my arguments to come across as criticisms. I'm simply bringing up some issues that I think are important, and should be debated.

32yrs@bbc said...

Sarah's comments are thought provoking, and I agree with much of what she says. Some of the comments were a little confusing,
seemingly a little contradictory, but I think I understand where she's coming from. The main thing I believe is that, yes, the church needs to understand and reach out to the culture but it has stumbled in believing it has to become like
the culture to do that. The church has turned to Madison Ave. techniques and its own wisdom instead of allowing the Lord to lead step by step. Young adults want honesty and when they see the church playing games with them, they see the hypocrisy and want nothing to do with it. Bottom line is this: the church cannot save anyone. All the church can do is
present the Word of God thru the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who convicts and draws a person to God the Father thru the Jesus Christ the Son. The church's primary function is to grow the saints spiritually and the overflow will draw in the lost as we walk in the Spirit in our day to day lives, and they see something different in us that the culture cannot give them.

32yrs@bbc said...

I also want to say to Sarah that though she grew up at Bellevue, I was there much longer I would think because of my age. She made the statement that more is now being done for Memphis under the present leadership. She may not be aware how much was done for the needy in Memphis under A.R.'s tenure. The difference is it was not publizied. The Lord knew and the recepients knew and that was all that was necessary. And that is scriptural: "Take heed that you do not do your alms (righteous acts) before men, to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward of your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 6:1

New BBC Open Forum said...

"She may not be aware how much was done for the needy in Memphis under A.R.'s tenure. The difference is it was not publizied. The Lord knew and the recepients knew and that was all that was necessary. And that is scriptural: 'Take heed that you do not do your alms (righteous acts) before men, to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.'
Matthew 6:1"


My point exactly. When one has to brag about all the good things one is doing, one's motives become suspect. The question becomes, are they doing it out of a heart for the lost and needy, or is it for show? Undoubtedly the majority of the people who participate in these well-publicized workdays are doing it for the right reasons, but why does the church then feel the need to brag about it?

It seems the "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" billboard rising above MABTS is going to be a permanent fixture. I wonder what they think of that seeing as how their funding from BBC has dropped significantly each of the past few years.

New BBC Open Forum said...

This is interesting. It pretty well illustrates Sarah's point.

New BBC Open Forum said...

This one is excellent!

Junkster said...

Something about this discussion reminded me of this ...

A Parable of a Lighthouse
(Author unknown)

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was a once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work.

The mission of life-saving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, and some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.

But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.

If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.

Michelle said...

Wow, this is just a very one-sided commentary that makes one wonder, "Do you even ATTEND Bellevue"? or better yet "Are you even SAVED?" (and I mean that in a very non-judgemental tone of voice that I don't want lost in the text) but seriously?? The Spirit of God Himself has saved so many in this church, and He doesn't seem to have "left" Bellevue or show any disapproval towards (what I believe) to be a very smart and savvy decision, creating this 11:11 service. Yes, it may be more "upbeat" or "entertaining" than the more traditional service (which was the only service available when I moved to Memphis this past March and incidentally made me fall in LOVE with BBC) but the worship, the message, and God's work is being done all the same. This new service is not an example of "conforming" to "the world", it is making use of it's creativity, colors, artistic presentation, all for the Glory of God and to draw in the younger generation. A generation of people of whom I just happened to be a single mother of, many of whom want NOTHING at all to do with God. My 12 year old daughter wanted nothing to do with church for the first six months we attended Bellevue...and since the 11:11 service? A "venue" more appealing and less "conservative" to her age group? Well, God has been reaching her and changing her because of it. So if some creative lighting and a band are more appealing to some than a choir, and people are still being saved? AND it makes my daughter crave to seek GOD? I'm all for it!!
Bro.Steve himself, when discussing this upcoming change with the congregation, said that the statistics of college-bound young people leaving the church when no longer under the roof of their parents was increasing at staggering rates, and the intent was to hopefully change that. I don't mean to come across like the Bellevue Cheerleader or anything, but the Spirit of God is upon that service each and every Sunday I'm there, and to compare it to that of "Disneyland" or the like is just untrue. Ryan Wingo is a fantastic, God-loving, worship leader, who nowhere near resembles a rock singer, (nor does he behave as one in effort to "entertain"). There are no lighters down front or dancing (although I doubt very much that God would mind!!) Brother Steve is a smart man with a heart for people...of ALL ages. Oh, and P.S... over 20,000 people have come to know Christ through the Singing Christmas Tree production's debut... apparently God uses all KINDS of so-called "entertainment" to draw His own to Himself!!! :)