October 24, 2020

More Links and News: A New Sponsor and Bill Kinnon Unedited

We have a new sponsor here at IM, Zaccheus Press. Zaccheus is a small publisher of books by Catholic authors. Their emphasis is on high quality books by authors with real insight into spiritual formation in the Catholic tradition. But the featured book right now is an amazing memoir of ministry by a Catholic priest in Dachau: Priestblock 25487. The reviews of this book ought to convince you it’s worth reading and giving this Christmas. Click the ad on the sidebar and get a copy from Amazon at a discounted price. An excellent gift for those interested in Christian faithfulness in times of great evil. Welcome Zaccheus Press to the IM family of sponsors.

Bill Kinnon at Kinnon.tv decides to be relentless in his criticisms of the megachurch model in evangelicalism, saying what few will say about Redeemer Pres and The Meeting House. This is Bill really at his finest. He’s not breaking things, but he is holding some feet to the fire while he has his say about just how deeply we’re wrapped up in a consumeristic model. It’s the good churches that provide the evidence that the megachurch model can work, but Bill says just a minute. What do you have when those megas have to operate without their “brand name” pastor/leaders?

I rarely recommend anything on the tech side, but if you have been looking for a way to organize and use media on your computer that uses the best of itunes and skips the worst, then you need to try Songbird 1.0. The buggy previous versions have given way to something that plays itunes music, works with your ipod, organizes visually in an appealing way and isn’t hard to use. So far, so good for me.

I’ve gotten several offers to join the Liturgical Gangstas. Most come from folks who noted that various traditions aren’t represented. The thing is, I am looking at the liturgical traditions, not the general evangelical ones, but I’m not asking exclusively liturgical questions. I may need to form “The Evangelical Untouchables” to deal with the Gangstas. All in good time. What does surprise me is that I haven’t heard from the Presbys. I would take a PCUSA voice if you can swear to being pretty liturgical in worship. I’d also take Christian Reformed, with the same footnote.


  1. Thanks, Michael.
    You know how much I love and respect Tim Keller but this “brand name” pastor stuff is an odious symptom of the consumer church that needs to be named – even with the very best leaders. A commenter on my post likened this to what Paul was dealing with in 1 Cor 2 & 3. (I’m no Paul, other than being the chief amongst sinners.) If every megachurch operated like Redeemer Pres, we might not be having this conversation. But even Redeemer Pres suffers under the hero worship of Dr. Keller by many in their midst.

  2. couldn’t agree more with Bill (hard to admit, but I’ll swallow it and go on ) – “brand name” pastor/teachers are all over the country…it will be short to impossible to replace them unless they have had a LONG history of shared leadership (which most don’t)…people gather around the guru..once the guru is gone, another one will pop up somewhere else. The marketplace is fickle! The downfall of “MEGA” will be personalities and consumer culture.

  3. The problem is real, but what do you do? People are starving for something, whether it be solid Bible teaching or something to make them feel better. Do you cap the numbers? Should pastors get out of the pulpit for a month?

    In my short life, I’ve seen one pastor implode and one simply step away over this issue. Great teachers, one Sunday they had 35, next Sunday they had 500. People came to get fed. Those churches are now stabilized but inert as the “guns” ran off to the next teacher.

    I guess my question is: What do you do about sudden growth because of personal popularity (be it good teaching or a good show) in the real world?

  4. I like the Liturgical Gangstas as is. The other perspectives are, I think, very well represented by your audience. ….[Mod edited]

  5. Could we have an IM self-rating on Andy Rowell’s Ecclesiological Spectrum?

  6. Sir,

    I have read Mr. Kinnon’s post as well, and I am in full agreement in regard to the ‘hero worship’ of pastors. I would like to add a personal perspective. My father, a retired pastor, provided a great model for me in humbly loving and serving the congregations he was called to pastor. But even humble, gracious pastors of non-mega churches can fall prey to the desire of wanting to be wanted, of allowing themselves to occupy a position of honor that may be unsought or even gratefully offered but draws attention away from the leadership of the Holy Spirit nonetheless. The Spirit constantly convicts me of how proud I am of my humility. So to your readers I would ask that they pray for their pastors to be able to withstand the temptation of a consumerist, celebrity obsessed culture that too often creeps into a congregation, looking to make golden calves of the earthen jars who in their hearts have a genuine desire to love God humbly and serve His people sincerely.


  7. Agree with DaveMc in that people are starved for something, maybe something that is just hard to find. I think there is a vast difference between good teaching and a good show. Good teaching that is saturated with Christ and the gospel…well, love covers over a multitude of sins. A good show simply has not much to offer if anything. So is it the man or the congregation who places him there? I guess both. A doctor in my family once responded to a woman who asked when doctors would stop acting like they are God. He said when people stop treating us like gods.

    I have my share of man-idols (Keller being one of them). I know, I repent. My dad is another one of them. I don’t know much about models of effective ministry, but it is probably important to hear from the top the line, what is wrong with the world? I am, and hear it often.

    But I will still jump at good teaching when I find it or recognize it. It seems to be a rare commodity.

  8. Priestblock is good, and also good in the same vein is Fr. Arseny, about an Orthodox priest who survived Stalin’s gulags, literally miraculously.

  9. Christopher Lake says

    Even in my medium-size, non-denominational, Reformed-leaning church that has a plurality of elders (no “senior pastor” model there), less people still do tend to show up when the “main preaching elder” is absent… and he isn’t even very well-known (as Keller, Piper, Driscoll, and others are)!

    I get frustrated about this tendency, because the Word is still the Word, if it is being preached faithfully, regardless of the “status” of the preacher. At the same time, I have to be patient with people in my church, because I know all too well about my own lack of Christian growth and maturity in certain areas of *my* life…

  10. Steve in Toronto says

    I am afraid that the large Church built around the model of a Charismatic Preacher was the inevitable result of evangelical Protestants de-emphasis of the Sacrament of Holy Communion in favor of the sermon. Unless we see a much more holistic understanding of worship return to the Evangelical church we will continue to see large churches faltering and even falling as this current generation of “Alpha Male” Preachers passes from the seen. One of the advantages of an Episcopal system of church governance is that that you can make men like Bruxy and Tim Keller Bishops. That way you can leverage their (very real) gifts to benefit more than just a single congregation. To be fair to Tim Keller he is is doing everything humanly possible to prevent redeemer from becoming just another mega church (I especially admire the work he is doing to promote church planting. His support for non- Presbyterian churches is especially admirable). I am much more skeptical of the Multi site video dependent model promoted by Bruxy and the meeting house.

    God Bless

    Steve in Toronto

  11. Steve in Toronto has hit an absolute dead on 420 shot over the center field fence. So he’s not a Blue Jay, but he is so right. I’m taking it to the BHT.

  12. Christopher Lake says

    Steve in Toronto,

    I’m not sure that the de-emphasis of the sermon, in favor of the Lord’s Supper, is the answer to the current wave of “preaching hero worship.” Certainly, the Lord’s Supper should not be downplayed and/or done rarely in the life of the local church. When that is the case, it is to the church’s impoverishment.

    However, I *have* seen the sermon retain its place of centrality in the worship service of a local church without that church moving toward a near-idolatry of the preacher. This was accomplished through implementing a model of church government which included a plurality of elders– and then regularly rotating the Sunday morning preaching of those elders, to the point that the preaching in the church was not “built” around one man but the Word of God alone.