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How Far is Too Far?

I believe the most radical thing my church has ever done is had an outdoor church service for Easter Sunday around a large bonfire.

Although many people were shocked by even that small change, the Glad Tidings Church of Middleton, Pa. has got my church squarely beat in the radical changes department.

On March 21, 2012, teenagers at Glad Tidings Church attended what they thought would be a normal youth group-and were unpleasantly surprised.

On the way inside, several adults, including an off-duty officer of the law, ambushed the children, roughly placing bags over their heads and showing off weapons. After loading the “hostages” in the van and driving them to the associate pastor’s house, the 13- to 18-year-old youths were then told that the entire affair was no more than an “educational lesson on how Christians are persecuted in places around the world.” Right now, those “teachers” are getting a little lesson in felony and kidnapping charges.

After hearing this, I am reminded yet again of the many changes that the church has made in an attempt to be relevant to the continuously changing society. It seems that our churches now find the need to add “shock value” to Jesus’ teachings in order to captivate the coming generation’s attention.

However, how far is “too far” in these situations? Is it perfectly fine to allow youth leaders and pastors to abduct children in the name of teaching a Bible lesson? No, it’s not appropriate, nor does the Bible issue of any such command to God’s church.

Yes, we as Christians are instructed to go out into the world to proclaim Jesus’ name. We are told to take up our crosses daily and follow Him. We are even asked to blindly walk by faith on a day-to-day basis.

But I have yet to come across a passage of Scripture in which Jesus tells His followers, “go out and scare people into faith.” It seems that our churches have gone from instilling the fear of the Lord in their congregations to just instilling fear.

If we, as God’s people, feel the need to change our faith in order to generate shock value, then there are problems that need to be addressed through more time in His word and less in the world’s affairs. The Lord has commanded to be “in the world, but not of it.” If we continue to produce lessons that are more entertainment than teaching, then what differentiates us from the world?

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