Yesterday at Shepherds’ Conference we heard Phil Johnson talk about the dangers of seeking to be relevant and innovative in gospel ministry. I can sympathize with that sentiment as someone who feels that draw planting a church in Westlake/Koreatown here in LA.
He mentioned some speakers who were at another conference in LA who are theologically reformed and intentionally gospel-centered yet at a conference advertising itself as relevant and innovative.
This got me and Danny (a brother at my church) discussing whether one should speak at such venues. There are two sides to this decision. On the side that decides to speak at these events that are less than robustly biblical and faithful is the desire to faithfully and clearly preach the gospel and biblical truth to a group and gathering that will be lacking (perhaps) much of it. Surely that is a good thing. On the other side, speaking at such events may be confused as supporting or agreeing with the general ministry philosophy of the hosts which may or may not actually be true.
I don’t have great influence and will probably never be asked to make such decisions, so I’m safe on both accounts. But if I did have to make this tough decision in regard to stewarding the opportunity and my influence which may possibly be misunderstood by others, I think I’d lead toward taking the opportunity and preaching Christ, the gospel, and biblical truth there. Maybe I’d write a blog post or upload a youtube video on the things I think are good and not good about a questionable host’s ministry or philosophy. But I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to preach Christ at an event that needs it primarily because I may be misunderstood as endorsing something I wasn’t. I’d let the message and ministry speak as well as writing or recording explanations that may minimize misunderstanding and transfer discernment.