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9.29.2005    |    Come for the festival...
...Stay for the good news? The Luis Palau Association is planning a big ol' fiesta down on the National Mall October 8-9,2005. Called DC Festival, there will be all sorts of things, according to a front page story in today's Washington Post:
a skateboard park, a food court, dozens of volunteer stations, two huge tents for hundreds of celebrity guests, three JumboTron screens to project onstage musical performances, and banners bearing the names of such corporate sponsors as Amtrak and the Washington Capitals.
What there will not be will be (again from the Post)
any clue -- not even a simple cross -- to suggest the real nature of the gathering: broadcasting the message of Jesus Christ.
Those pesky Christers, coming in under the radar like that. DC Festival will be what Palau calls "festival evangelism". This appears to be the same impulse that led to guitars during the service, "modern" music, and a general atmosphere of forced hipness.

My first reaction is that DC Festival is eye- and ear-candy; all fluff, meant to attract young people, as moths are attracted to a flame. This is also my second reaction, frankly. But I'm not a young person, and my experience tells me that you can't hide the light of the world that is Christ behind amplified music and extreme sports exhibitions.

Will something like DC Festival bring some people to Christ? Yes. Those whom the Father has sent, and this is the way they will come to Him. Does it take a carnival that appeals to youth do make this so? No, of course not. If it is God's will, it will happen anyway. On the other hand, God does work in mysterious ways, and who am I to say that something that seems, on the surface, to be trivial like a DC Festival isn't what God had in mind?

I guess that what I truly dislike about this festival approach to the Gospel is that it has to dress up the greatest message in all of human history in the trappings of popular culture. One must ask: How can it be a good thing to clothe in such gossamer the awesome message that God sent His son to be tortured, bleed, and die on a tree (Galations 3:13).

The answer, at least for me, is that it is not a good thing. Let Christ's awesome message speak for itself. Nothing on this earth can speak with greater power, majesty, and authority. Certainly not rock music and extreme skateboarding.

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Blogger John said...

Great post JL. I totally agree with you, they need to be upfront with the truth about what they are doing. Many people turn away from Christ because they feel they have been conned. keep up the good work!


12:58 AM, September 30, 2005  
Blogger Chris Meirose said...

I am not a fan of Palau, nor his methods. With that said, I was a counselor last year in October when he brought his dog and pony show to the St. Paul State Capitol gounds. The best stuff going on was the stuff at the Skate Park. People were being reached, an impact was made. Palau's presentation (and his son's) were poor at best. At first I decided to not participate, but after seeing how it was building momentum, I felt it was going to go on, with, or without me, and if I could be used to further the Kingdom, that I would. My fiancee spent a whole day at the festival, and did really enjoy the Third Day Concert, though it was clear there was a disconnect between Mac Powell of Third Day and Luis Palau when they were on stage together. There weren't crosses up (though there is on on the State Capital building) but it was overtly Christian. You couldn't avoid seeing and hearing it. There was a lot of publicity in the local media in the week leading up, and the few days after, and in every interview, radio spot, news article, it was clear that this was a Christian evangelism event. So take it for what you will, I'm still not a fan of Palau, and will not send money to support, nor reccomend people to support him, but if he's coming my way and the snowball looks that big, I'm willing to give it a shot, even if it's for just a few people to come to true saving faith. But if you ask me, it's an excessive and absurdly expensive form of evangelism. Had we taken the nearly $2 MILLION dollars it cost for his dog and pony show, and simply hired evangelism pastors in 20 local churches, I have NO DOUBT that the effect would have been deeper and much more lasting.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

2:30 AM, September 30, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.