After my post last week, I received an email from my dad who wrote, in part: “I think one of the biggest impediments is the Christian industry, which didn’t exist during any of the previous revivals. If word got out of something happening like what went on then, all of the publishing companies, media companies, etc would be crawling all over trying to market it.”
I’ve been turning that thought around in my mind all week and I believe there is a large amount of truth in that statement. Think back over the last several decades on Christian fads- Purpose Drive Life, Prayer of Jabez, Left Behind, Francis Chan, Beth Moore and Duck Dynasty- all of them were multi-million dollar moneymakers for the authors, publishing companies and spin-off products.
The authors and celebrities of these fads spoke at all the coolest conferences, preached at all the largest churches and kept travel schedules and speaking tours that rivaled most rock bands.
I agree that if an awakening ever did occur at this time, the Christian media would be trying to market it, promote it, do simulcasts of it and make themselves a huge mound of money off of it.
What would the Apostle Paul think? Paul, the greatest writer, theologian, preacher and missionary in church history- what would he think? Paul, who wrote to the church in Corinth: “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?” What would he think of our “Christian” marketing? Paul, who wrote to the Thessalonians: “For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed- God is witness- nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from other, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” I wonder what he would think?
Now, Paul was supported by the gifts of churches, he says so later in the 2 Corinthians passages quoted earlier. To Paul, there was a difference between accepting the support of churches and preaching the gospel for money and in a manor of greediness.
I don’t want to pass judgment on the fads I mentioned earlier, or any that I didn’t mention, I don’t know their hearts or their intentions, but if truth (especially to those outside the church) is in the appearance, I have questions and concerns. And I think you should as well.
For awakening to truly come, it will take a person who is able to look at those opportunities to market themselves, speak before thousands at conferences and all the money that comes with it and rather live in the spirit of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2: “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of Christ but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us…so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
(c) Ryan Vanderland 2013