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Selling the Sizzle of Secularism

by Wendy Boardman

I will never forget what a Marketing instructor once taught me.  He said:  “We don’t sell the steak, we sell the sizzle.”  However, I never thought I would see this evidenced in the church.

We have been led to believe that new methods must be utilized to reach the unsaved, that we need to create an environment that caters to carnality so people will feel comfortable.

We secularize our music, singing lots of praise tunes that, for the most part, are void of much Christian doctrine.  After all, those dry hymns with all that Christian theology just don’t appeal to a secular audience.  We add a band with drums, along with acoustic and electric guitars.  After all, people prefer the reverberating pop rock band beat that produces a desirable mood before the minister speaks.  Initially, the band will complement the traditional instrumentation.  But, over time, the volume will be increased, drowning out, and eventually, eliminating the majestic euphony of the organ and piano.

We create an atmosphere in which casual attire is encouraged.  After all, if it seems like we’re attending an athletic event, rather than a worship service, folks will feel more relaxed—more like hanging around and enjoying themselves for awhile.

The underlying message is that if Christianity can be presented as a marketable commodity that appeals to and satisfies carnal desires, we will increase our sales (baptisms) and enjoy a greater market share (increased membership).  It sounds so appealing to our market-driven-economy manner of reasoning.  Furthermore, it is difficult to challenge a pragmatic approach that is producing highly desired numerical increases.

However, is it Biblical?

The idea that, in order for people to be saved, we must sell the sizzle of secularism, by creating an atmosphere that is cozy with and mirrors the world’s ways, is a slam to God’s Holiness, as well as His free gift of salvation.

God has always prescribed how He will be worshipped and served.  Rather than worshipping God, we have turned to the idol of secularism.  The church “has profaned the Lord’s holy institution which He loves: she has married the daughter of a foreign god” (Malachi 2:11).

Rather than smiling at sin, our sin must be confronted and we must realize our need for redemption by Jesus Christ.  We must understand that our call is to righteousness rather than eroticism (Ephesians 5).

Additionally, the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of calling people unto Himself, rather than alluring people by playing to their proclivity for pleasure so they may be duped into praying a prayer.  Are we then not responsible to go and tell?  Oh, most certainly, we are, as we have been commanded to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).  However, we have not been called to engage in entertaining the gospel of me-ism and fulfilling fleshly cravings.

Should we be kind to people? Absolutely!  We are commanded to do so. (Ephesians 4:32).  Should we love the sinner?  Absolutely!  Jesus does; we also must.  (1 John 4:9-10).

Should people be encouraged to feel comfortable with their blindness, comfortable with their sin, comfortable with their separation from God, as they are comfortably escorted to hell?  What a travesty to be deceived into believing such a fabrication.

The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been confrontational to an unsaved person (John 5:14, 8:11).  Christianity is radical, life-changing, illuminating.  However, the church is progressively being seduced by and sold the sizzle of secularism in exchange for the true life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christianity’s light is the polar opposite of the world’s darkness, rendering the blend of the two an impossibility without producing something other than truth—a lie.

We must reject the attractiveness of quantitative expansion accomplished at the expense of authentic life-transforming encounters with the living God.  We must turn to the God of forgiveness, confessing our sins of idolatry and rebellion against Him, and eradicate the idol of secularism before it obliterates the church.

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