Appalled By the Easter Messages of Some Prominent Church Leaders
Each year at Easter I am regularly disappointed by the comments of prominent church leaders in the media here in Australia. Easter is one of only two times in the year when they know that they’ll receive headline prominence in the newspaper, on radio and in every evening TV news bulletin.
So tell me this … why do the majority squander this amazing opportunity by being irrelevant, off message and even (apparently) bored, disinterested and completely devoid of passion in proclaiming the greatest Message of all?
Sound a bit harsh? You tell me!
But this year the Good Friday messages of more than one of the crimson clad clergy plumbed new depths in ineffective and destructive communication. Here’s why …
In part the media is to blame. They love to take comments from church leaders out of context. And, as I read the transcripts of the sermons of some denominational leaders and compared them to the spin put on the short media grabs, sure … there was a bit of that.
But that does not diminish the … the …. stuff (words fail me), that was passed off as a Good Friday sermon by some leaders.
Now, please understand something. I am not into denomination bashing which is why I’ve deliberately not named the leaders or the denominations to which I refer. (Doubtless as you read on, you may recognise some – but please don’t name denominations or individuals in any comments you leave on this site, because it’s not about denomination bashing.)
One very prominent Church leader stood up on Good Friday and had the following to say:
- That all religions needed to band together in a tide of spirituality against the onslaught of secularism – Christians, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs needed to do defend monotheism, to let the spiritual water flow strong and deep, “so it would not be lost in billabongs – closed backwaters without escape, where the water can only eddy in circles, as it evaporate or seeps into the sand”.
- That creeping secularism could easily be seen in political parties – he named one in particular, and bemoaned the effective communication style of its leader.
- That the Church has lost cultural ground and needs to reclaim it.
- There was more – but this is what lay at the core of his “Good Friday” sermon.
Then there was another denominational leader who cited the evils of Facebook and Twitter in his message. (Did Jesus come to save us from social media?)
Excuse me but am I missing something? Good Friday, right? Christ and Him crucified, right?
I can understand preachers talking about “sin” in a Good Friday message. Sure I can. “Sin” is what Good Friday is all about. But here’s what I’d like to know:
Should Christians have a political voice? Sure they should!
Here in Australia I greatly admire the work of Brigadier Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby. But folks, with all due respect to Jim and the team, winning the political debate is not the main game. Making sure that Christian values are enshrined in our legislative framework, as noble and as useful an objective as that is, is not … the main game. (As I recall pretty much the only thing Jesus had to say about the brutal and oppressive Roman Empire that worshipped Caesar as a deity, was “pay your taxes”.)
Good Friday is about a God who loves us so much, that He sends His only Son to suffer a brutal death, to save us from the present and eternal pain and consequences of our sin. Good Friday is about a love so sublime, a love so far and wide and high and deep, that God Himself would take on flesh and let that flesh be torn apart by those brutal thorns, whips … and nails for you and for me.
Good Friday has nothing whatsoever to do with religions joining hands. It has nothing to do with the church losing cultural ground. (Gee … whose fault might that be?) It has nothing to do with the rhetoric of political parties or other belief systems or dogmas.
It’s all about Jesus and what He did for us. It’s all about a new start, a new life through the gruesome Cross and the Empty Tomb for every man, woman and child who would put their trust in Jesus.
I am all for inculturating the Gospel. But whilst 99% of God’s people humbly, wondrously and reverently celebrated the amazing truth of Easter, why did a good many of our most prominent church leaders (those who knew that what said would be reported in the media) completely botch it?
In short, why through our precious and very limited mainstream media footprint, do we the Church rant at the world and tell people how far they’ve strayed from God, when at this special time of the year we have the opportunity (indeed a media license) to tell them lovingly and honestly, how close He really is, through Jesus Christ His Son?
There were some great things that happened in the media over Easter. And to those who were responsible … thank you.
But for the main part, in the bits that most people read, heard or saw … we botched it. Again.
Here! here! Church Leaders have a lot to answer for. Let’s make sure we, who have our feet on the ground running, give a message of hope to all we know and even be so bold as to challenge those in ‘authority’. I commend organisations like ACL and Creation Ministries who are out there in the battlefield making a stand and making a noise.
I think what you are saying is a global phenomenon.In difficult places Christmas,Good Friday & Easter are the only times a year when Jesus is “The “ONLY” way, the truth and the life” can be proclaimed “all out.”Praise God for people grabbing the opportunity. But yes what about the church? There are churches where on a Easter morning service water baptisms happen.So many in number that by the end of the line people are ready to go home,they actually cannot see what is is going on in front at the tank. In some little babies are sprinkled,then some politicians take stage, thanking church members for their acceptance of a political party which actually threatens to do away with them!The pastor takes the pulpit two hours into an Easter service and begins to pray, “Dear heavenly Father you who give death to the living…..” I agree with the person who said “I would have accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour had it not been for Christians.”
Wake up brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin, lived,suffered, died and rose again from the dead to forgive you and me IS coming soon.
I am more apalled that Christians even talk about EASTER – Why celebrate a PAGAN festival, why give airtime to Ishtar
It would be more appropriate to celebrate Passover, or are we ashamed of the Jewish roots of our faith – Yeshua was and still is Jewish
I celebrate Messiah’s death and resurrection daily and despair when I hear “believers refer to “Holy Week” “Good Friday” and Easter
How about standing for truth and leaving the pagan behind?
[INDEED WE SURE DID FALL SHORT OF THe MARK INSURING THE MESSAGE OF THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER.]In the lead up to the Easter time period i happen to see also the the local paper did a column of retrospective pictures of community gatherings, and sadly the church profiles were showing somewhat of a VERY poor attendance,does this also mean we prefer a holiday time slot.I can safely SAY that the church i have been with for the past 22 years tells it how it is truthfully,We are blessed with a very good minister,in the time i spent as a funeral assistant for 6 years sadly even then the true meaning of JESUS is watered down…..cheers Berni
Well said Bernie. But Jesus said that we should beware of wolves in sheeps clothing. May be these leaders don’t speak for the real church, just a make believe church.
Thanks Mark. On the wolves …. Sad but true.
Let’s pray for the Lord to raise up effective and passionate communicators.
Hi Berni, We had an awesome Good Friday and Easter Sunday and the message was so simple; A person is lost and he come across (1) a coffin, (2) an idol and (3) an alive person, who does he ask for directions?
it’s obvious as 1 and 2 cannot respond so it has to be 3 who in this case is Jesus as we know that he is alive and yet many bow down to 1 and 2.
Berni I do believe that some of our pastors do need some serious prayer and to an extent I do believe that we should be bold enough and ask our Father for courage and strength to guide us and approach these pastors as the doctrine is the message that we must not let slip.
Thanks for all that you are doing Berni, AND i MUST SAY AMEN to your comments and input. Take care and regards.
Thanks Leroy – great message!
Now this is what I call an Easter Message!
The Anglican Bishop of the Seychelles.
Amen to THAT!
Great observations. Tragic and a squandered opportunity. You have articulated what I have thought for a long time.
Romans 1:16 comes to mind for many reasons.
Hi Berni & All,
Let me apologise first, that this is going to be such a long post again…
I feel that it’s a blessing to have you remind us what Easter really stands for, despite how the World sees it these days…
AS God said to the people of Isreal…
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
Going to your latest post…, I deeply truly understand your disappointment in the leaders, as I share your same disappointment,
Although I agree that “yes”, the Media is to blame, I think the bigger blame is on ourselves…”Christians”
As Christians we have fallen pray to Democracy, and hence We now decide who becomes a leader, and who doesn’t get to become a Leader…
In other words, We are choosing our Leaders, based on their qualifications, teaching, popularity, etc etc, ALL HUMAN QUALIFICATIONS!!!!
BUT God chooses His leaders using an entirely different set of criteria than men do…
The example of David, the renowned king of Israel for 40 years, is well known, and found in 1 Samuel 16. Israel was languishing under
the despotic rule of Saul, whose reign was coming to an end. God sent the Prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse, explaining simply,
“I have provided me a king among his sons” (verse 1)
In God’s system of government historically, there are no political campaigns, no elections. It is not a democracy, but a THEOCRACY.
Rulership isn’t administered or ordered from the bottom up, but decidedly from the top down.
WE NEED TO LET GOD CHOSE OUR LEADERS AND STAND UP TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT RIGHTEOUS.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).
Now why Do I say we should blame ourselves first??? Because Democracy preaches Acceptance & Tolerance (Political Correctness), Two things
Are “NOWHERE TO BE FOUND IN THE BIBLE”…And we Christians have fallen pray to Acceptance & Tolerance, and so our Leaders follows…
What happened to all the continued teachings from all the apostles about the False Prophets??? Why are we not standing up against them????
Why are we not telling everybody that, there is NO OTHER GOD THAN OUR LORD FATHER IN HEAVEN, WHO SENT JESUS?
Is it because We’re afraid? we want to be accepted? we don’t want problems in this world?
I keep going back to the Book of Revelations…to the 7 letters that JESUS sent to the Churches…
Revelations 3:3 “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you I have started this journey, but I’m alone (But together we’re strong with the Lord),
as I go on, I have been banned from forums and not welcome in some Churches for standing up to “Bad” Leaders and preaching the world of GOD.
I’m finding it harder and harder to see eye to eye in this world, But I know as fellow Christians you’re finding it hard too…
But trust GOD, HE is preparing you to enter his kingdom, and so you will find it harder and harder to live in this world, which HE
is going to ultimately destroy and bring with HIM his Kingdom.
Revelations 3:5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelations 21:2-3 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
I don’t know how God chooses his Leaders, But I’m seeing one here…Sorry to put such a burden on you 🙂
I’ve heard you speak on Hope with tremendous insight and skills, I admire how you have left everything and have put all your skills for GOD. Keep it up!!!
I’m happy to help whenever I can, should you or GOD ever need me for your ministry.
Thanks for all your great input David.
I have personally found it difficult to understand the messages of the leaders in many of the churches I have been to (and I searched for ages to find one) even though I was desparate for a relationship with God….
It is easy for someone to comment that social media is not the way to go in terms of connecting with your faith.. but if the way to go (formal Church) is not where you find the relevance in a relationship with Jesus then a lot of people may miss out on “God / Jesus” altogether.
I actually kinda consider that the Christian Radio stations that I listen to give me far more direction and understanding of my Christian faith than any of the Churches that I have been to (obviously missing out on fellowship though !). These Radio stations have lead me to teachings that I can relate to and understand and connected me with Berni and Joyce Meyer whose teachings I greatly appreciate. I tried hard to find actual Churches that really spoke to me but tended to find them very formal places and not where I could find personally understand the teachings and apply them to my life.
The Bible speaks the truth we all need to know, but in the early days when some of us don’t really know how to reach into it and understand it then personally I see social media as an exceptionally good thing……. It has helped me to look in on “on-line sermons” and get a deeper understanding of the truth and teachings that should be available to everyone. Social Media has a place and it’s REALLY important in my eyes that “Church Leadership” understand this…. otherwise the “Church” in my opinion “will never regain it’s cultural ground”
People that have important positions within the “Church” in my opinion should deeply consider the issue of why “the Church has lost cultural ground and needs to reclaim it” —– relevance to me is what it is all about and looking how to make Christianity relevant and accesible to all in society and not just to outlandishly rule out social media because it is not in line with “their” perceived way of becoming a Christian.
This is just my experience and my truth and I hope that anyone of different thinking can understand that different people need to have access to Christian teaching in a way that feels relevant and right to them
Social meda for me REALLY REALLY does have it’s place and at the moment I really do see it as “my Church”.
Good on ya Alison, Leaders like anyone tend to generalize.
To say Social Media is evil is not right, and I agree with that, GOD reaches people in amazing ways, I’m glad that’s working out for you.
I remember once people say that Internet was evil…
that WWW represented 666, and had the Devil’s code all over it…
And the truth is that the Internet indeed brought a lot of evilness in the world such as identify theft, pornography leading to an easier access to pedophilia, addictions,etc.
But it also provided a new way for Christians to connect, and for God’s preachings to be available worldwide and so much more.
Same as Social Media, it’s like a knife, can be used for so many useful things, but also can be used to kill someone.
The answer is not to remove the knife, but teach other people how and for what it can be used.
I personally I’m not a great fan of social media, but if it works for you, then it may work for others.
Just remember that social media is just another tool and is NOT a replacement for Church, The bible or for really connecting with other Christians.
Thanks so much for this comment, Berni! I heartily agree. Soooooo disappointed with the media’s take on the Easter message, as with the Q and A debate last night. The “main thing” has ceased to be “the main thing”.
“Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel” 2 Tim 2:8
Hi Berni, Again I heartily agree with your article. Sadly it seems that many churches loose focus on what really counts. It’s not only in our special messages at special times or in our message to the media either…
As a web designer for many years I have been puzzled by the lack of substance in church websites when it comes to what we would consider CORE MESSAGE. From observation there are very few websites that have ‘up front’ great message, the greatest message. Most are hidden behind a click here or ‘What We Believe” button. More often than not, church websites promote everything about church yet not the message.
I’ve also been in meetings where there has been some beautiful singing of songs, yet the name of Jesus not mentioned once.
You would have to wonder if there were not some table turning going on ???
One thing is clear, we could all lift our game in all of our communication. There’s a challenge – if you’re communicating, communicate well.
great to hear from you. I think your challenge is exactly the right one!!
Just to those that are commenting about ABC’s Q & A last night, that church leader was not the person who wrote the sermons in Berni’s blog. None of his during the entire easter period referenced any of those things and you can find that on the Sydney website for that demonination
Also with regards to the comments, and disagreement about what was said in the debate, I’d like to point out that the debate was with one specific christian denomination, not all of them. We all hold diferent belief’s, if we didn’t there would only be one specific group of us, not 100’s.
I’d also like to point out that the Church leader you’re mocking, has devoted more than 40 years of his life to a greater good. If you had read his biography and also his sermons for the last 40 year’s you would not take this stance. He was willing to take on a greater cause of debating a world wide known Athiest (and experienced debater)which most of us would bulk at, so he has nothing but my respect.
And a PS – based on what I know of him, I believe whole heartedly that he will be our next Pope.
To “M” you need to read the book “The Bait of Satan”. It’s about offence. I believe you would gain a great deal from it. I was born and raised a Catholic and thought this person a total drip. Catholics need to read the Bible and understand that Mary didn’t save us nor did any of the so called Saints – Jesus died for us – no one else. Because I read and understood the Bible I now no longer associate myself to the Catholic Church.
Actually I wasn’t born into a religion of any kind. My mother decided when my sister and I were 7 & 8 to baptise us anglican to please her family and try and make friends after a messy divorce. That lasted a year and until I was 23, I didn’t know anything about ‘religion’ apart from thinking it was for people who wanted to sing awful songs.
Four years ago something happened in my life that helped me find my faith, and I was confirmed Catholic 3 years ago. Yes, I have actually read the bible, the entire old and new testament along with multiple Catholic Apologetic Books explaining the differences between each different christian denomination. I also read books from other religions prior to making my decision so that I was fully informed.
I do also attend mass regularly along with attend Guardian nights and Theology on Tap which both happen fortnightly and are directed at 18-35 year olds who sit together and listen to priests and world famous apologetics talk about different aspects of our religion.
As a former skeptic from a fairly average upbringing, I am blessed to be able to inspire some of my friends who sometimes take their faith for granted (lets face it we all do).
The talk last night was taken out of context from people in the media who have not read the bible and who do not know anything about the meaning of the religious terms and language being spoken or about our religion.
For those of us who are committed to our faith, we knew what he meant. But then somebody once told me a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and today we saw that in the media.
Yes Berni, once again the so called leaders got it wrong. Many people do not take the church seriously and whilst we all want peace we can never ever band with other religions who do not exalt Christ Jesus as the King of Kings who was crucified and rose for US. The leaders should have proclaimed the empty tomb of Jesus and how joyous a time it is for Christians. Stuff shirted, pompous leaders would have people turning away,(it took me 40yrs to return) as it is, many only go to church at Easter and Christmas, or Weddings and funerals, these are the times to show our love for everyone but remind them that only Jesus reigns supreme. I went to my normal little Church on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday and on Saturday night I went to a Pentecostal service and witnessed 9 people, 3 from a local Housing Commission estate being Baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, now that should have been on TV. One of them, like me a recovering alcoholic,praising God for his hope, love and grace. What a weekend, what a great God we have, Amen
Thanks Berni for touching on this. I have for a very long time thought it was me being over critical and because I’m from a different culture, I sensed that as I pointed out the seeming lack of passion and/or irrelevant messages for Easter (and Christmas) my cultural background preceeded my comments so not much sense was seen. In fact, I was at times left feeling that I was sounding like a legalist because it would seem like I was ‘judging’.As sad as it may sound, if churches keep up with these kind of sermons then it may not be long before we see ‘Church closed for Easter’ signs at our churches!
While I agree completely with your comments Bernie, and the comments made re Q & A on ABC television last night, let us not be grieved about comments of folk who possibly don’t know any better. These folk should be prayed for – that God would ignite their hearts with passion for Jesus Christ.
This morning for the first time I listened to the story of the revival on the isle of Lewis in Scotland – told by one of the main preachers at that time. That work of God began with His people seeking Him in prayer that was based on what He had revealed in His Word.
Today is the day to seek God through His Word, and to call out to Him day and night to revive us, and to honour His Word. Seeking Him until he visits us with His grace and mercy.
Not all, Berni
To quote the SMH
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, praised Jesus as a man who told society what to expect after death.
”We Christians love Easter because it is the historical reminder that although Jesus was executed by being crucified and was truly dead, three days later he broke out of his tomb and showed that death is not the last word in life,” he said.
”And everything is changed. Instead of living in fear and anxiety, it’s as though God has turned the light on and dispelled our fear. Jesus dies so that we could be forgiven and he lives to give us life beyond the grave.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/messages-of-hope-reminders-of-faith-prayers-for-pollies-20120405-1wfie.html#ixzz1rapkJdKT
Yep – totally agree Russell. Which is why I qualified my comments. There were (praise God!) some notable exceptions in terms of content.
Well, I know the reason why Christ is not glorified at Easter. Its the underlying spiritual reasons. You can’t Christianize a pagan festival!!!
The Pagan roots are now coming out in full force and the majority of people celebrate the Easter Bunny and call it a family time of fun and chocolate.
The church needs to come out and be separate and holy.
and then.. on last night’s Q&A program on the ABC, another very senior church leader told us, basically, that the creation story in Genesis 1 is just a metaphor (or a Jewish ‘fairytale’) and that we probably eveolved from Neanderthals – Who among you ‘church leaders’ will uphold the inerrant truth of the Bible?!
I couldnt believe it either Merrick. What got me was the question on whether Athiests will go to heaven. His reply was I cant see why not. Hey?? Nevermind the most quoted and probably well known scripture in the entire Bible; John 3:16. Frankly, I was astounded and saddened to hear his answer.
While you are appalled along with many of us , we shouldnt be too surprised.
Jesus and the Apostles warned us this would happen as a precursonr or signs of the times we would be living in Just before His return.
And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie… II Thessalonians 2:11
…thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked… Revelation 3:17
Let remains sober and vigilant and as Jude encouraged us to Earnestly Contend for THE Faith.
Blessings Ian Worby
You re absolutely right Ian. Sad but true. The thing that I’d love to see is for God’s people to start praying about the media presence o the church. Not just the amazing things you and your team (and so many others do) but our presence in the main stream media. Bless ya.
Well Said Berni,
Not all churches have fallen, our Sunday message was:
Three Great Questions
Adam Where Are You?
My God My God why have You Forsaken Me?
Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?
We are not likely to ever add:
What would Buddha do?
All too true. The very heart of our Christian Faith is completely overlooked at a time when the world needs to hear it most. Great that someone is voicing what a lot of us are thinking as we struggle to understand why church leaders are not listening or hearing the true message Jesus came to send. Lets all pray for the church leaders who seemed to have become pawns in political debate (knowingly or not) rather than messengers of the “Good News” to share Gods love and come to know the sacrifice that Jesus so humbly made so we could have a relationship with God.
(sigh….). i know. i’m sad. i can see Jesus sometimes, putting his head down….a bit sad. is this where we say: ‘WAKE UP BELIEVERS’? 🙂
Thank You Berni. For speaking Truth. A much needed confront. Well spoken indeed.
Jn 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (ESV.
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister (ESV).
Thank you Bernie. The ultimate disappointment to me was when the “representative” of Christianity on last night’s Q & A did not appear to understand the basic message that we are saved by Grace Some of his statements were outlandish
I agree with you David.and the infrence that what he was saying was the truth about Christianity..ie that even a unrepentant athiest would end up in heaven was a shocker
I couldn’t agree with you more. The Cardinal was a very poor representative of the Christian viewpoint I thought.
It didn’t seem that he knew the truth at all. I thought he was supposed to know his Bible!! How could he say some of the things he did and then be a representative of Christianity. It left me flabergasted.
Can’t say it any better than you have Berni (as usual!). Sadly, it seems the head takes over from any experience of life in Jesus they may have had in the past and it’s another ‘job’. I found myself listening to a bishop in a home meeting once arguing against Jesus’ very proclomation that He was the way, the truth and light and no man came to the Father but through Him’!