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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever


Blessing of the Bikes (I'm not kidding!)

In my travels I occasionally get to attend other churches on a Sunday morning.  Often it is an enjoyable experience as I find a kindred spirit.  Sometimes it is a horrible experience as I find an anti-gospel message dressed up to look like the Christian church.  But I would say most times I find what I found in a recent trip:  the church is a truly Christian community but is employing every worldly gimmick in the book to attract people.  For instance?

I found this as I entered the lobby of one church... And then found a brochure on my pew/chair advertising an upcoming Sunday morning service called "Blessing of the Bikes" complete with a Harley-Davidson logo.  They have a special guest coming.  "Dennis Rogers:  Named pound for pound the world's strongest man" will "hold back Harleys from taking off at FULL THROTTLE!"  To begin the service there was a 30 minute rock concert in which we were supposed to sing along, but it was distractingly loud and most people simply stood and watched.  The lyrics of one song went like this...Count me in.Come on count me in.And you can count me in.Count me in.Ooh ooh.Ooh ooh.Yes, they actually flashed up on the screen the "word" ooh four times.  On the way out I used the men's room.  (Readers know I don't usually give such detail, but I can't resist.)  Hanging over the men's urinal was this... You may not be able to read the caption but it begins, "Excellence is never an accident...."  Over the men's urinal?  Out of the men's room I passed "Hebrews Cafe" where I could have purchased a latte had I been so inclined, but I was anxious to get to my car.  Fortunately, the church put large speakers in the parking lot blasting Christian music to accompany me.  Here's to EXCELLENCE!

Preaching About Sex

If you preach the whole counsel of God, you're eventually going to preach about sex.  It comes up pretty early and often. That should not be perceived as a problem to be dreaded but as a privilege as we teach God's people.  But, let's be honest, more than a few ships have run aground on these shores.  There have been some recent high-profile examples of preaching on sex that run the gamut from unwise to unhelpful.  So, how should talk about sex from the pulpit?  Here are my thoughts, but I'd love to get counsel from other guys (especially as I come up on Proverbs 5-7):

  1. I'm comfortable being pretty frank about these things.  The Bible contains a lot of stories about and warnings against some serious sexual misconduct.  I am personally fine with being frank; in fact the church needs us to be honest about these things. 
  2. On the other hand, some people will have different levels of comfort with the use of certain terms. Usually people with children between 9-14 years old are particularly sensitive to ideas being put in their kids' heads.  As a pastor I want to love those people and care for them well, even if I can't identify with their concerns.  So I assume that I am going to have to speak sensitively and euphemistically at some points. 
  3. When talking about sex, we should not be graphic, crude, or casual.  
  4. I've learned it's good to run these things by people who are more conservative/sensitive than I am. My policy going forward is to run it by the elders of our church before I go live on Sunday morning.     

What would you guys add?  How do we accommodate people's personal preferences without gutting the Bible of its meaning?  Schmucker, you once publicly called me out for using the "M" word from the pulpit.... what's your advice?  

Humor, Coarse Language, and the Christian

OK guys, here's an email that I got from a college student who used to be in our congregation (lightly edited by me):Pastor Mike,

In your opinion, at what times are curse words ok or not ok?  I know of two crude phrases/curse words in the Bible ("my little finger is bigger than my father's loins" and "i consider them rubbish.").  And how would we reconcile this with verses that say that coarse joking and filthy language are off limits for believers?

You are without a doubt the best pastor in the world,NameI told him that I would post the question here for your learned opinions.  Greg, you've been known to use off-color language in the pulpit... what do you think?Have you heard Mark Driscoll's How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy and Cutting Words?  If so, are you persuaded by his argument?  I have my own thoughts about humor and Christians, but I'd like to hear your take first.Thanks!For the folks in the comments... if you're one of those people who goes blog to blog rippping Mark Driscoll, can you just assume that we've heard your argument and you don't need to rehash it here?  We're a little short on bandwidth.  Thanks!