Thursday, December 13, 2012

#267- Twitter Preaching (and the demise of the UPC)

Introduction: Describing a room and, eventually how we're all going to hell

Serious pretend time here: Let's pretend we all grew up together. Like you, me and about 200 others...Best friends!

And we all grew up in the same room, under the same watchful babysitters and parents. And this room is really big. Huge really. Also: we can't leave the room. Ever.

Naturally, we grow up learning the same things. We go through the same drama and rumors and playtime together. If a fight breaks out, it's our business. If a break-up happens, we tell the break-upper that they needed to move on, and also tell the break-uppee that they deserve better. In this scenario, we are perfect socializers.

In this room, we like some people. We secretly hate others. Yes it gets boring. Often overly dramatic at times. But overall, life is pretty good. Not to mention that the social circle is still relatively small enough that we still feel like everyone knows us and we know everyone, which makes us feel important.

Growing up together, we are all taught the same material. We don't know much beyond what we're collectively taught. Which is really sweet, because we don't have to worry about making choices between living in this room or another room or whether or not our teachers are wrong. If life is good in this room and we have comfort and security, why would we ever wonder about what may lie outside these walls?

The reason why the UPC is leaning towards it's own demise

So let's say that in this hypothetical room, all is good...until one day we have a machine wherein each of us has access to everything that is happening out there... as in outside the Room.

Yeah, skip the symbolism, I'm talking about the internet. Or TV. These were the things that told us that our room was not the only room, and if you so chose, you could venture into seeing what these other rooms were about secretly and without anyone being suspect that we were traitors. We were curious. We weren't looking to rebel. Never would we backslide. We just found the Outside World all of the sudden very "available" for us to evaluate.

And so but like...

With all this new information available to us, we became addicts. We loved feeling like we were at once a part of the outside world we saw on our computer screens, but also feeling the comfort of being within the only room we knew. Best of both worlds really.

Plus the world suddenly moved fast for us. We forgot what boredom was like. We had facebook and YouTube to occupy our lonely, dull thoughts. And if church got boring, well, hey there's instagram!  Personally, I wasn't ready for it. Our digital age ate me alive. All the information available at once made it very difficult to not start questioning the very room I was raised in. The room I was standing in. The only thing I knew. Some days I wish I could go back to the innocence of ignorance in that room.

Okay, now back. So all of us, brothers and sisters, gathered in the room. Hovering over computer screens. Reading. And watching. And getting a good show of it all. Plus we had church. And the truth. We were all there once, happy.

Until, boy oh boy... we got busted. The teachers, the preachers, our pastors. They found us out. Err... they didn't find us out. They found the internet out. They found out all of it's horrors and possibilities.... and I think somewhere deep inside, the UPC scratched it's head and took a huge sigh and asked "How are we going to deal with this?"

And by then we'd all gone ADD in the room. All of the entertainment on the screens and all of the fun we were having... Well without realizing it, we had become so bored that we couldn't find the attention span to listen to one half hour sermon in the tabernacle.

So if you're the UPC, what do you do? How do you get our attention? Us, unwilling errant youths ready to slave ourselves to whatever pop culture fad is coming out. How do you get us on the straight and narrow?

Well instead of actually thinking, the UPC became more laughable. Like obscenely laughable. Seriously.

They found a thing called Twitter. And saw the 140 character limits. And saw how this was the latest fad we were into... and they said, "let's get their attention by writing the most shocking things possible in 140 characters!" And they said "Who cares if it's true? If it sounds good, they'll retweet it and that way we can fight the war against the Oneness Truth online instead of in our churches!"

Because, more than talking about truth, the UPC cared about getting our attention.

And so they sign up the most ridiculous preachers at conferences and conventions. People who can scream well and shout verses and get red-faced and just look like all out clowns, because, yeah they're entertaining. That's fun stuff. Crazy preachers never get old. They always will have my attention. It kind of reminds me of a quote: "If we amplify everything we hear nothing."

And a lot of those crazy preachers even say things that they hope will get retweeted. So think about this; they're even focusing part of their God-anointed sermons on little quick one liners. There's a lot of dudes getting famous off this stuff. Seriously. Go check twitter. If your sermon can't be hash tagged your so two thousand-late.

Honestly. Go check twitter. You will witness the bombardment of half-witted preachers trying so hard to write just the write maxim about God or holiness or love in 140 characters or less... hoping to God you'll read their tweet and say "Hey, that's good brother! Have a retweet." (as you secretly hope they follow you).

And so think with me here.. Honestly think... In a culture where the only preachers that matter are the one's who say catchy, shocking things that will grab our attention.... what leaves?


If we're all in a hurry to get each other's attention.... there's no time to think and contemplate and study. We just rumble around like cave men barking orders and getting all hot and bothered, reading the internet for the latest Harry Potter trend that we can preach against.

It's Pop-Preaching and it's all over the place and it's not good. Because say like, you're a preacher and you studied scripture a lot, and you realized things were a little more complicated or that you were even unsure about a correct Godly answer about something. And let's say you try to preach complicated issues or topics or decided to preach about an entire chapter of the Bible instead of one verse... What would happen to you in the UPC?

Nothing. You'd be a youth pastor at best. The UPC no longer has time to showcase boring preachers who care about truth enough to admit that following God isn't easy or quick. The humble preachers who reflect and think and study, who love God enough to know His Word can't ever be simplified into 140 characters will be left to be elders and nothing more. Citations in the ongoing struggle for the UPC to get our attention.

But if you're a preacher who just flies off the cuff and makes stupid jokes about how much he's sweating and taunts the audience for not amening as loud as he'd like you too... well there's a place for you in the UPC. Because it means you'll grab our attention.

And in the process we'll either argue loudly back against what the preacher is saying or we'll agree and retweet him. But all in all we are worse off for it. We become reactionaries or promoters of simple, stupid catchphrases that speak nothing of the Gospel. And that's not good. Because that means we're not doing due diligence to the Word. We won't be studying. We'll be vying for your attention. And wanting someone else to grab our attention at the same time.... and please, I beg you..... just think


The prophets of old were right... The Apostolic Pentecostal truth would be devoured by technology if we gave into it.

And we did. We gave in. And all those "fear of the end times because we can't control our churches anymore" kind of frantic rhetoric was absolutely correct. Except, the world won't be ending now. We, the Oneness Pentecostals will.

Sure there will be you still believing. And me. And your pastor. And a few others....

Because... well, just think....hold on....

Because if all we settle for at conventions and congresses is an attempt to make church shocking and entertaining.... then that means we'd be competing against other forms of shocking and entertaining media. And there's no way we in the church can compete with the kind of shock and entertainment that's offered out there where the world doesn't have to worry about pleasing older pastors in order or preach in front of thousands of people....

So for now, we're in here. In this room. All grown up now. And tired. And confused. But happily amused at everyone keeping us entertained.

But like dude, we're going to die some day. We're dust. Fragile cracker crumbs and we'll just kind of evaporate soon. . That's what we are here on earth. So even if we and David Bernard and everyone else up there in the Mother-Ship stay the course of this Apostolic truth.... by promoting it with loud noises and angry rants!

Ask yourself, where, or where is our survival going to come from past us? Think...

Because when I think about it... I get terribly anxious. Because if the UPC is still around in thirty years... it means we would have compromised ourselves that much more.... and probably just became a reality TV show that advertises Acts 2:38 at the end of every episode... or, we'll get it right. Learn to pay attention to the things that matter and shut our eyes off from the things that distract us. And we'll study again. And it will be hard. And maybe yeah, our denomination will be gone by thirty years from now if we do study...

But at least we stayed true to the Apostolic Truth the Apostles gave us.


  1. So basically, the picture of the room I have painted in my head is that bathroom they were trapped in from Saw.

  2. And we climbed out of that pit like Christian Bale in a Turkish Prison.

  3. There was a time when I really enjoyed going to big events to hear certain "big name" preachers. I enjoyed hearing something from a different angle and perspective. I'm no longer interested in the big events. Youth Rally, camp, congress, thanks. Maybe I'm getting old. I see a lot of fake at these, either more than I used to, or I'm simply aware of it now. The preachers are either trying to be witty and catchy (as this post mentions) or they are just ignorant (as a past post mentioned concerning one particular preacher). Give me my own pastor - he isn't perfect. But he isn't worried about Twitter, or making a name for himself. He is focused on our city. Our population 100,000 city.

    I'm fine with the nice lighting, and fancy things - but don't insult my intelligence in order to be popular.

  4. "Learn to pay attention to the things that matter and shut our eyes off from the things that distract us."


    Also, not forgetting that the multitude left Jesus leaving the 12, some people are too absorbed with quantity.


  5. Well written Joel. I doubt very much the UPC will be around 30 years from now. Frankly, I think God is leading people into more truth, and hanging onto traditions of men isn't part of that...

    So we should expect things will be different. People will leave. Many preachers will refuse to sign an affirmation statement they don't agree with, and rightfully so... they shouldn't sign just to stay in the "org" and change it from the inside. Many saints won't accept going to a church where standards are taught "because the pastor said so" or this is "apostolic heritage". People are just too well educated, and then, of course there is the internet.

    So yes, it will change. God is leading all of us into further truth. We should expect to be challenged. We should challenge our beliefs. If it is truth, then it will withstand the challenge of questioning. (that last line is written so you can tweet it, the "withstand" sounding so preacherish)