is not unique amongst today’s entertainment oriented churches. It just happens that it caught my attention this week when I saw an advertisement for the THHHAA that will be held in their “worship” center this weekend.
When I saw the guest list and website promotions, I was mortified and contacted the pastor, Larry Womack. His reply was the typical condescending “we appreciate your prayers” remark that is common among those that think they are “enlightened” and are dismissive of anyone that dares question their activities.
In doing further research of this particular church and pastor, I found that he is also a trustee of HBU and the moderator of the Associational Leadership Council of Union Baptist Association. How a guy with these credentials fell so far from the narrow path that Christ speaks about is beyond my comprehension.
The split personality of Pastor Womack and Copperfield Church is best illustrated with a direct comparison of two events held in his “worship” center this month, the month of June 2007. One featured America’s finest youth, the other will glorify misogyny, drug pushers and thugs in a misguided attempt at evangelism. I say misguided because as far as Pastor Womack seems to have strayed from the Word, I refuse to think that he endorses the lifestyles and actions of those he will be honoring this weekend.
As I was Googling around for info on Copperfield Church, I stumbled across the blog of Kieley Best. Ms. Best is a summer missionary, serving in Houston for the UBA at Joy Fellowship. For those that do not know, the UBA has three missions serving Houston’s most poverty stricken communities. Reading through her blog entries, you can see the joy that she has and the desire to make a difference in this world. It brought back memories of the days when my girls were young and SU took them to Joy every Thursday to work in the center.
On June 3rd, Copperfield Church hosted Ms. Best’s group and Ginger Smith, the Houston Missions leader. Ginger spoke at our church last year and again last week. She is another example of the light that shines when Jesus is in control of your life. Ms. Best even has a link to her speech that day, just click here to listen. Teenagers from across the country come to Houston every year to serve Christ.
Contrast this group with the function that Pastor Womack is hosting and presenting in this weekend. Actually, this is the second year he has hosted this event, so he was apparently pleased with it last year. As I looked at the pictures on Ms. Best’s blog, I couldn’t help but wonder what she would think of Pimp C’s lyrics from less than a year ago. I’ve decided not to publish them; they are so vile that it isn’t worth using them to make a futile point. Futile because Pastor Womack will just dismiss the point, saying he appreciates my prayers. Do not click on that link if you do not want to be offended.
But let’s put aside these lyrics (because there are in fact performers that have a positive message for Christ) and look at the event itself.
While hundreds of teens are sleeping in bunks and on floors, cleaning toilets, serving sandwiches and teaching the Bible, Pastor Womack will be walking down a red carpet, roped off so that fans cannot touch the stars, with a special area for the stars to be interviewed and have their pictures taken. I seem to remember something about Jesus having to ride on a donkey.
While hundreds of teens are sleeping in bunks and on floors, cleaning toilets, serving sandwiches and teaching the Bible, Pastor Womack must remember, the cameras are rolling and flashes are flashing so dress to impress! What was that Jesus said about lilies of the field?
While hundreds of teens are sleeping in bunks and on floors, cleaning toilets, serving sandwiches and teaching the Bible, Pastor Womack might be at the after party, where many veteran and up & coming emcees have graced the stage over the past five years at the THHHAA after parties. I wonder if the Holy Spirit has been allowed to grace the stage since Ginger left. Or will Pastor Womack waive the $25 fee and allow these servants to come see him walk the red carpet and party together?
While hundreds of teens are sleeping in bunks and on floors, cleaning toilets, serving sandwiches and teaching the Bible, Pastor Womack might attend a Roundtable Discussion: Hip Hop AS Religion: Have We Made the Music Our God?, where they will attempt to answer this question: Has the culture consumed us? I’m thinking that the answer is obvious to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.
While hundreds of teens are sleeping in bunks and on floors, cleaning toilets, serving sandwiches and teaching the Bible, Pastor Womack is honoring a group that was advertising on Craigslist for street teams to help them “hype” their awards ceremony in return for One FREE T-SHIRT, a Red Carpet Front View, one ticket to the THHHAA Ceremony, reserved Hype Section seating and most important of all, 15 mins in the VIP Meeting room with various artists. Imagine what would happen if they had street teams hyping Jesus. I wonder if Jesus ever sat in the Reserved Hype Section?
In all fairness, Pastor Womack and Copperfield Church are not alone in their straying from truth. Tito over at Cvstos Fidel has a post up about the latest Chronicle Entertainment poll. Unreal. American Christianity is a sideshow for the secular press to amuse themselves.
I’ve said enough, nothing I can say will lead Pastor Womack to return to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. And yes, Pastor Womack, I’ll continue to pray for you and your flock.
In John MacArthur’s book ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL: When the Church Becomes Like the World, he talks about the market oriented church.
The Customer Is Sovereign
At the heart of the market-driven, user-friendly church is the goal of giving people what they want. Advocates of the philosophy are quite candid about this. I noted in Chapter 1 that consumer satisfaction is the stated goal of the new philosophy. One key resource on market-driven ministry says, “This is what marketing the church is all about: providing our product (relationships) as a solution to people’s felt need.”4
“Felt needs” thus determine the road map for the modern church marketing plan. The idea is a basic selling principle: you satisfy an existing desire rather than trying to persuade people to buy something they don’t want.
Accurately assessing people’s felt needs is therefore one of the keys to modern church-growth theory. Church leaders are advised to poll potential “customers” and find out what they are looking for in a churchâ€”then offer that. Demographic information, community surveys, door-to-door polls, and congregational questionnaires are the new tools. Information drawn from such sources is considered essential to building a workable marketing plan. Ministers today are told they cannot reach people effectively without it.
Worst of all, it seems people’s emotional “felt needs” are taken more seriously than the real but unfelt spiritual deficiencies Scripture addresses. “Felt needs” include issues like loneliness, fear of failure, “codependency,” a poor self-image, depression, anger, resentment, and similar inward-focused inadequacies. Some of these are real, and some are fabricated by the psychological sales pitch. These problems, we are told, are behind drug addiction, sex addiction, and several dozen other syndromes. The real problemâ€”the root of all such troublesâ€”is human depravity, an issue that is carefully skirted (though seldom overtly denied) in the teaching of the typical user-friendly church.
No longer are pastors trained to declare to people what God demands of them. Instead, they are counseled to find out what the people’s demands are, then do whatever is necessary to meet them. The audience is regarded as “sovereign,” and the wise preacher will “shape his communications according to their needs in order to receive the response he [seeks].”5
The effect of such a philosophy is apparent; more and more people-pleasers fill the pulpits of our churches. Moreover, Scripture is overruled by the marketing plan as the authoritative guide for ministry. One textbook on church marketing includes this statement: “The marketing plan is the Bible of the marketing game; everything that happens in the life of the product occurs because the plan wills it.”6 Applied to church ministry, that means a human strategyâ€”not the Word of Godâ€”becomes the fountain of all church activity, and the standard by which ministry is measured.
That approach to ministry is so obviously convoluted and so grossly unbiblical that I am amazed so many pastors are influenced by it. But it has become an extremely influential philosophy. Thousands of churches have overhauled their entire ministry and are now attempting to cater to the masses.
In fact, the user-friendly-church movement has become so large that many secular newspapers have begun to take note of the trend. One article in the Los Angeles Times described how a megachurch grew out of a door-to-door survey conducted for a “marketing study” when this church was not yet formed. “Customer Poll Shapes a Church” was the title of the articleâ€”and it is fitting. The story described how the pastor “tailored the church’s program to the needs and gripes people registered in his door-to-door survey.”7 Of course, the article said, his messages are brief, low-key, upbeat, and topical, with titles like “The Changing American Dream.” He spices his sermonettes with quotations from news and financial magazines.
MacArthur, John: Ashamed of the Gospel : When the Church Becomes Like the World. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 1993, S. 48