Velocity Church in Richmond opened over the weekend with meetings at the Short Pump Regal Cinemas (see the article by Alberta Lindsey of the Richmond Time-Dispatch).
Attendees could enter the lobby, drop off their kids, pick up popcorn and sodas at the concession stand and choose the venue of their choice. The present offerings are rock-n-roll and pop country services though velocity hopes to offer even more choices in the future. Lead minister Tim cole is quoted as saying, "We hope to have three or four options. A more traditional service maybe. We would be open to jazz gospel." He also notes, "It's a fun church done just outside the box."
The church claims to be the second in the nation to use 25 minute video teaching instead of a live sermon. Cole notes, "We are able to select great preaching from great preachers. We can control the quality of the sermons by only showing the good ones." He adds, "and rather than spending 20 or more hours per week in sermon preparation, I can focus more on what our church is doing in the community and ministries."
It is hard to know where to begin to outline the problems with this approach. For starters:
- It is man-centered, based on musical styles and preferences of worshippers.
- It makes "worship" a form of entertainment.
- It devalues preaching. What if the sermons you thought were "bad" were ones that pressed your conscience with issues that you would rather not address?
- It confuses the role of the pastor. He is the teacher. What "lead minister" will not be "apt to teach" (see 1 Tim 3).
- It recalls Paul's warning in 2 Tim 4:3-4 about those with "itching ears."
Just when you think "contemporary Christianity" won't go any farther!
Who can dare say we don't need reform?
There's something similar to this already in operation here in Southwest Virginia. Highlands Fellowship (Affiliated with the Baptist General Association of VA) offers various worship styles based on music preference, though they do have a live preacher. It's basically the same concept. Thier pastor was asked to speak on behalf of the thousands of "purpos-driven" pastors at the 25 year celebration at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California.
Our pastor has recently highlighted for us how the religious Jews at the time of Christ were victims of a cultural religious system that was man-centered vice God-centered. His last two sermons are very powerful as he describes the agony of Christ at Gesthemane, Gabbatha and Golgotha while at the same time, the Jewish leaders have moved so far away from God that they have no idea what they are doing. Check it out at www.providencebaptist.us/sermons
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