An authoritative church is very attractive, as long as that authority is used to shepherd and not to bruise. Sometimes I have to talk to people very honestly, and that can be painful. But first I have to make sure they know I love them. Leaders shouldn't wield authority; they should shepherd toward truth.
I tell other pastors that our authority is a lot like our authority as husbands. That means if you have to talk about your authority, you've probably already lost it. I don't tell my wife, "You know the Scriptures say I make the decision; you follow me." If I have to say that to my wife, I'm already in a lot of trouble. The same is true in the church. We are to shepherd with authority but not become tyrants. That is a mistake some guys make.
Sanctification here at The Village begins by answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking.
The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong, but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid. If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him.
Transcendence. My generation was raised on a religion of moral control. Do this. Don't do that. And a lot of self-help religion. Feel better. Get out of debt. Six ways to overcome your fears. Seven ways not to lust. Ultimately that message didn't work. It was empty. There was no transcendence. The omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful God of the universe wasn't the focus. I think that's why we are seeing the resurgence of Reformed theology.
New Calvinism is a young movement, and young people are often arrogant. Life hasn't had a chance to beat the trash out of them yet. I'll tell the young people in my sermons, "You can't get into theological battles while you still live with your mom." Or, "You can nail your 95 theses to the door once you own one." Before these 20 year olds begin passionately defending their view of Scripture, I want to see that they are being obedient to it.
Some people think it would be cool if we had a coffee shop. But I don't want people getting their lattes here. I want them getting their lattes at the four Starbucks in our area so they can get to know the baristas and invite them into our body. I don't want our church doing basketball tournaments for lost people. Lifetime and LA Fitness already have basketball tournaments filled with lost people. I want our guys playing in those games. We are trying hard to keep the church lean, stripped down, very program-light. There are no frills.Church buildings teach people. I don't think you can proclaim a great mission about being in the world, and then create a building that keeps people out of the world all week. I'm not against the attractional model, it's just not what we've been called to.