Approach Church like a Box of Weet-Bix Cereal

Ok, clearly I need to put my post title into some context… so please hear me out. I once heard a message whereby the speaker compared the approach of church to a box of Weet-Bix. I was quite curious when he used this anology, however as he explained I thought there was some great insight with this.

Evolution of the Church

Our culture continues to evolve and change, as it has over the decades. However many churches haven’t been sensitive to this in how they conduct their services and even present Christianity. They keep the same approach and then wonder why the next generations don’t seem as interested. Then you have other churches that react too savagely and try to make church ‘attractive’ to the people so that they keep coming. The argument is, we want people to come and hear about Jesus… a noble goal. The problem is that the Jesus that is taught is not consistent with the biblical Jesus. The Gospel presented is no longer the biblical gospel, but rather a social or prosperity type gospel… one who’s ultimate goal is to appeal to people instead of glorifying Christ. Both extremes are a tragedy and dishonouring to our Lord in responding to the Great Commission in going out and making disciples of Jesus Chris in all nations.

Why Weet-Bix?

Here comes the analogy of the Weet-Bix… finally you think! Weet-Bix is a breakfast cereal that has been around for years now. It has been manufactured in Australia and New Zealand since the 1920’s.  As far as a product goes it is no ‘spring chicken’, it is iconic in Australia and is still topping ratings in sales. Everyone in Australia knows about Weet-Bix.

Now I didn’t taste Weet-bix in the 1920’s, but I suspect that the product hasn’t changed too much. There may have been some minor tweaks, but Weet-bix as far as I am aware has always been Weet-bix. However the packaging has changed considerably. It had to in order to connect with the changing culture and what people are drawn to. Otherwise it would not sell. How would anyone be able to taste how great they are if they are not drawn to the packaging or even repelled by it! The content has stayed the same, but how it has been presented over the years has evolved. Here lies the importance of marketing in selling products.

So how do we approach Church like a box of Weet-Bix?

Now I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but I think the modern church can learn a lot from this. The real danger though in evolving the packaging is altering the contents. As a church we must always remember we are ultimately commanded to please God and not people (Galatians 1:10). In presenting the biblical Gospel we will inevitably turn off many people because it is offensive by nature. Who likes to hear that apart from Christ they are condemned to hell! However it’s the biblical Gospel we are to preach, a gospel that on one hand highlights our sinful depravity and deserved condemnation before our holy God and on the other draws light to God’s mercy and love in sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins allowing God to justly save and redeem us to a secure relationship with Him forever. The gospel isn’t about meeting our human needs, it’s about meeting our spiritual and eternal needs. It’s not necessarily about meeting our physical needs and ailments or leading us to material riches, it’s about making us spiritually rich for all eternity.

All believers in Jesus Christ have a responsibility and commissioning to reach out to those who don’t know Christ for themselves. To do that effectively we need to know and speak their language, whilst ruthlessly protecting and teaching the truth of God as written in the Bible. We are not necessarily to try and use different words, but rather explain the biblical text so people are more equipped to read and understand the Bible for themselves. Whilst seeking to do this we need to be praying consistently for God to work in people’s hearts and granting us wisdom to find the balance in how we present Christianity in a packaging with which the ever evolving culture can connect, whilst ensuring the ‘contents’ of the Christian message stay the same.

One last Crucial Point and Warning

May we never forget that it’s God that saves people and not us. We are called to be faithful in teaching and equipping people with God’s truth, not to tamper with it (2 Cor 4:1-2). It’s the Holy Spirit that regenerates hearts and leads people to a saving faith in Christ (1 Cor 6:11, John 3:6). If people don’t see their need to be saved by Christ then this highlights how they have been blinded by Satan and this world (2 Cor 4:3-4).

Therefore, we should never rely exclusively on our ‘clever’ packaging techniques but on the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. May Christ alone receive all the glory as He alone deserves it! (2 Cor4:5-6)

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10 responses to “Approach Church like a Box of Weet-Bix Cereal

  1. Soli Deo Gloria

    Stu,
    Let me get this right: You heard a preacher say something that didn’t sound right (I take it this is what you mean by ‘curious’), and then without any Biblical justification you accepted it.

    We are talking about marketing here. Getting people to buy something they don’t want. If Paul wanted to accept the cultural norms of his day, he would have taken a very different approach in Corinth (1 Cor 2). Or perhaps Paul is one of those guilty of not keeping up with culture and we should ignore what he says?

    If you are driven to this by the fact that the rising generation is completely untouched by the Gospel, then adopt the examples of the new testament where Paul and the other apostles went to far less attractive mission fields.

    It is not new methods and new culture we need so much as new hearts, and for that we must seek Gods face. Isn’t it an insult to Almighty God to say: ‘Therefore, we should never rely exclusively on our ‘clever’ packaging techniques but on the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit’. What this is saying is that the sovereignty of Christ and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit is NEARLY enough, but not quite, so we NEED to package. He can raise up saints from bare stones if He wanted to!

    Packaging is really deceit: It gives an impression which is an exaggeration, it is superficial, it appeals to the baser nature. Is this consistent with the Gospel of TRUTH? I don’t think so!

    All this stuff on culture – and I’m not talking about the way we dress or our hairstyles etc, – in the church of today is tantamount to arguing about what colour the deck chairs should be on the Titanic. We have MUCH bigger ‘fish to fry’.

    By the way, what exactly does the much used phrase ‘do church’ mean exactly? Is this a synonym for style? Does God care about ‘style’? Because in the end it is what HE thinks about worship that matters. Is it acceptable to Him? If we are not agreed on this, then I’ll follow what the Scriptures show me every time.

    The ever evolving culture needs a transparently and truthfully articulated Gospel from converted men who are motivated by the Love of Christ and given the gifts, authority and power they need from the Holy Spirit. Simply reflect their culture back to them, and they will (rightly) conclude that there is no difference between them and us.

    Have you forgotten how utterly radical the Gospel was as it poured into all the world after Pentecost. The Gospel shaped culture in every land it touched. There is something wrong when this tide is reversed, as you are suggesting it should be.

    • Hi Soli Deo Gloria,

      I appreciate your feedback and will try and help clarify a few points. Maybe my use of language is conveying a message that is not be what I am intending.

      When I am using the term ‘packaging’ I am referring to the methodology in how we reach lost souls, how we engage with others who don’t know the saving power of the Gospel. It’s not about tricking/deceiving someone into something they don’t want, it’s rather about how we present the truth.

      I did say the analogy isn’t perfect. However I think ‘good’ marketing isn’t about deceiving people but about providing accurate information in a manner that helps people understand and decide for themselves. I am highlighting that we always need to look at ways that we can effectively communicate with people from different cultures, backgrounds and demographics so that they can have a chance to hear and understand the Gospel and, God willing, accept it.

      I am not saying we change the message, or even substitute biblical terminology. We need to teach people what the Bible teaches and how to read it for themselves. We need to reach out to people, developing relationships with them that provides mutual understanding and trust. This can be accomplished in a wide variety of different, creative and equally valid ways.

      We are dealing with people who look at our world through very different world views and I think we need to be wise in how we approach them to demonstrate and explain the Gospel. We need to pray and seek God’s wisdom with this primarily through His Word, but also with other Christians and godly resources/counsel whilst always testing our convictions with His Word. Then we trust in God that our efforts and actions will be lead by His Spirit.

      Secondly, in my opinion, there is nothing inconsistent with trusting in the sovereignty and supremacy of God and taking action. This trust should not result in our passivity. Rather, it should embolden us for ministry. We are to exercise wisdom and discernment knowing that the sovereignty of God is working through all circumstances. Ultimately, it is by His grace and His hand that any good for His kingdom is achieved.

      As you rightly said, only a changed heart will accept the Gospel, and that is only accomplished by God. However, He does use us to spread the Gospel. Otherwise, why did Jesus command us to go and make disciples of all nations. Paul asks, (Romans 10:14) how can someone know the gospel if he hasn’t heard it? We need to share the truth of Christ and trust that they can see the impact Jesus has made in our lives.

      Thirdly, I used the term “do church” to mean how we live out the gospel. This is not primarily about the style of the service but how the body is built up and individuals are equipped to take the gospel to the community. I agree that God is concerned with the heart of those worshipping Him. Therefore, it is essential that during our worship services the Scriptures be read and accurately taught and that every aspect of our worship is about helping people to focus on the glory of God.

      With regard to style, some churches may choose either a contempory or traditional style of service, but what is important is that the leadership help facilitate an environment that is God honouring and helps people to focus on Christ, biblical truth and the glory of God. Worship is about directing our focus to God – not us. I think it is a blessing that we have churches with differing styles for people to worship God as a body.

      I hope that this has put some of my post in context for you. You may not agree and that’s ok. However that’s the beauty of the blog posts… we can learn from each other and sharpen our faith. May God humble us all that we are ready to learn from Him by His Spirit through one another and His Word.

      • Soli Deo Gloria

        Stu,
        There used to be some well established principles that governed the thinking of evangelicals. By all means state your thought, but only after you have a solid bibilcal foundation for it, and then apply it. That is the way to sharpen faith, I think.

        There is nothing new under the sun. You are not pointing out anything that previous generations (over centuries) have not had to deal with before.

        When you examine the expansion, the vitality, and the depth of the church in Acts, you have a model of simplicity, and naked witness in the context of a predominantly heathen and hedonistic culture. I challenge you to find a serious model for adapting a style of worship from this. Again, how do you view 1 Cor 2?

        All the talk of style etc has arisen in the last 20 to 30 years. I heard it and saw it as a young man, and it was as alien to my thinking then as it is now. When the history of this generation is written up, I think it will be seen as a catalyst for the further decline of the western church. I have made it a policy to test all things, and act on the results – not the popularity of the thing, nor even the credentials of the ‘names’ who endorse it. If we are to humble ourselves and learn from Him, then isn’t it essential that our first allegiance is to the Word of God (which He says He has exalted above all His Name). We must have a first hand foundation (and be approved workmen is dividing the Word skilfully, accurately and spiritually), not secondhand ideas (no matter how good and attractive they and their proponents may be).

        • Thanks Soli Deo Gloria for you insights. You raise some good points for which I will dwell on as I seek to learn how our church can best make disciples of Christ and mature them in their faith.

          I fear the western world is becoming less and less influenced by God honouring churches. We speak so often of the persecuted church in Asia, Indonesia and the Middle East. However I think the church is being persecuted in a far more subtle and equally destructive way in the Western World. The apathy of so-called Christians is alarming in this idolatrous world in which we live. It’s a challenge to us all to stand up and as His children proclaim God’s truth boldly and allow Him to use us as the salt of this very sick and depraved western world in need of a Saviour.

        • I had a read through 1 Corinthians 2. Great passage. It’s comforting that we don’t have to try and persuade people to believing the Gospel, but simply be faithful to teaching it. It’s a tough message to faithfully preach to this politically correct society, but at least we know that if someone responds favourably that God is at work.

          It’s quite ironic how some churches try to make themselves like the culture in “speaking their language” in order to make the unchurched feel welcome when really the unchurched need to see the difference church offers in the teaching of Biblical texts and truth. God knows what people need best so we need to be faithful in teaching God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in regenerating hearts.

          However that doesn’t mean we don’t seek creative ways of respectfully engaging people in order to develop relationships and seeing them built up in God’s truth and in their relationship with God whether they are a Christian or not. It’s not about persuading them with fancy speech but showing that we value them no matter what and sincerely want to see them know the hope we have been graciously given by our Saviour Jesus Christ.

  2. Whilst not directly related to this post, there’s a great tangential conversation going on over at Blogging Theologically hosted by my friend, Aaron Armstrong. He’s writing about Biblical illiteracy amongst people who call themselves Christians.

    • Hi Don,

      The Christian Beliefs that is linked here that is written by Wayne Grudem is very good. Wayne can write in a way that will feed even the most intellectual of us but in the case of this book, help break down key biblical truth for those more simple minded people like me 🙂

      Clearly we need to look at how we can instill foundational biblical doctrine into our church members. If you are well grounded in those doctrines it will go a long way to helping protect people from so called intellectual people who like to persuade and argumentatively bombard people with their supposedly sound yet erroneous ideas.

      • Soli Deo Gloria

        “It’s comforting that we don’t have to try and persuade people to believing the Gospel, but simply be faithful to teaching it”.

        I’m not sure that the apostle Paul was ever so comforted. He indicates that he strained every fibre of his being in the service of His Master: 2 Cor 5 v 11-21

        We are give the greater incentive to labour, endure hardship and persecution, and wear ourselves out in His service because we KNOW that He does save a people for Himself, and we stick closely to Him to serve Him in that. This is what drove William Carey and countless other missionaries to mission fields far from comfort, safety, and freedom at home. They knew Gods sovereignty, and trusted their energies into his care and direction. History shows you how God used these faithful servants.

        • I disagree.

          I think Paul would’ve been greatly comforted from the fact that it’s God that regenerates and changes hearts and not himself. That doesn’t mean he didn’t strive to his last breath to preach the Gospel for the elect (2 Tim2:10). That took great sacrifice and commitment that really puts all of our efforts to shame. We are to persevere to the end knowing our labour is not in vain despite the circumstances. Yet we do so with a hope and peace within because we work for God and are made right through His Son. What a joy that brings the heart even in the midst of the greatest trials!!

          With our hope in God alone, we need not worry about our inadequacies, but know God will use a willing and obedient heart. Clearly there are many times of persecution in living for God, both public and private, but we don’t need to let it end there. We have a God to rest and trust in not matter the circumstances. Doesn’t mean it won’t be tough, but deep down we have a peace God is for us in Christ. That is a great comfort!

          I am reminded of Paul’s imprisonment in Acts 16:23 after exorcising a demonic spirit from a fortune teller. Yet despite the public chastisement, physical beating and imprisonment, Paul and Silas found themselves praying and singing hymns within the prison cell. God later went on to use His faithful servents to convert the jailer. God does work is amazing ways! I think it’s clear that despite the horrendous torment Paul went through, deep down He had a peace from God that nothing in this world could take away. Even though at times he may have gone up and done in his own disposition, he appears to come back to the One who has given Him eternal peace and hope, a hope that nothing in this world can take away.

          That is the ultimate comfort!

  3. Soli deo gloria

    I think you just agreed with me!

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