We live in the age of the megachurch, which is generally defined as a church that has a weekly average attendance in excess of 2,000. Hillsong Church in New York City began weekly services on February 13, 2011. Hillsong NYC now runs over 5,000 weekly under the ministry of Pastor Carl Lentz. It is a megachurch.
Some considers Carl’s methods unconventional. Some of those methods would be to employ “seeker sensitive” strategies. A seeker sensitive strategy is planning a service to create interest and excitement to draw a crowd to church. It is an attempt to make church at more attractive to the un-churched. As you can imagine the strategies vary in substance and degree as do the criticisms, but generally speaking I do not see anything wrong with drawing a crowd to preach the Gospel as long as biblical truth is not compromised in the process.
His methods may have drawn the scrutiny of critics, but his success has gained the attention of the media. Katie Couric interviewed Carl recently. The taped interview was aired this past December 18, and Katie asked Carl if he felt the need to publicly address the “more controversial issues.” Carl replied, “No, because we try to be like Jesus…Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues. He was about the deeper things of the heart.”
Carl should try being more like Jesus by reading his Bible. If the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t about morality and the human heart then my verbal comprehension is slipping. Here’s an excerpt, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” Matthew 5:28.
Marriage is a social institution; actually it is the foundational unit of any culture or civilization, and its protection and perpetuation is ultimately a spiritual matter, a matter of the heart. This is why God forbids sexual acts outside of marriage between a man and a woman such as adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality. They are detrimental to maintaining marital unity essential for the wellbeing and flourishing of any society.
All of society’s ills are at their heart spiritual issues. Society is at its essence how two or more people can live together in harmony. When society makes rules to govern interactions with one another and those rules are codified into laws we call that society a civilization. The Bible teaches that when man broke his relationship with God that tainted every other relationship.
If everyone respected their parents, honored another’s life, remained faithful to their spouse, respected another’s property, told the truth, and was satisfied with what they possessed, we could do away with every criminal justice system and all armed forces. This is what the last six of the Ten Commandments teach, but everyone does not keep them. This is because we do not keep the first four commandments; we do not honor our relationship with God by putting Him first, ignoring other things that compete for our time and money, respecting His name, and devoting a day out of each week for worshipping Him.
When our relationship is not right with God it will not be right with our fellow man. This is why all of society’s ills are spiritual in nature. Social problems are ultimately spiritual problems. Christ came to die for our sins and restore our relationship to God and each other to its proper place; so, in a sense, He died for social problems. This is why Billy Graham said, “The central issues of our time are not economical or political or social, as important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature.”
Carl says he tries to “be like Jesus” and that is why he does not “use a public forum to talk about private things.” The apostle Paul who Jesus called to “preach the word” felt differently. He wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret” Ephesians 5:11-12.
Carl told Katie we are not about “behavior modification” but about “soul transformation.” But soul transformation without behavior modification is meaningless. As James tells us “faith without works is useless” and “dead” James 2:20,26. When one contemplates the effect sexual sins have on society, and the eternal consequences that will follow, it is not an act of love to remain silent. Christianity is not a branch of the Secret Service.