I’ve had a lot of email in recent days about some comments I made to a reporter that recently ended up in the current issue of Charisma magazine. People seemed to think I must have been misquoted. When I finally saw the article I was relieved to know that the reporter basically got my words right. I love relational expressions of God’s life among people whether they meet in a home, a building or a tree! It is Jesus and his presence that matters not the locality. I’m not a banner waver for the so-called ‘house church movement’ and see many of those who are exhibit some of the same attributes of building their own kingdoms that we in other franchises of church life. I honestly think Jesus is tired of it all.
I have also talked to people who were upset with an editorial in that issue that says some disparaging things about people that don’t attend sanctioned Sunday morning events that have ‘church’ printed on the marquee out front or the bulletin they hand you when you walk in. I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet. Some want to start a letter-writing campaign to help the editors ‘see the light.’ I chuckle at the notion. By all means write. I often write to editors to at least give them another perspective, but I don’t ever expect it to change the nature of the magazine. That isn’t going to happen because entrenched Christian magazines are not primarily serving the kingdom, they are serving their business plan. And their business plan is to stay in business by increasing their market share and if they can sneak a bit of truth in while doing that, so much the better.
What many people seem to misunderstand is that Christian magazines are most concerned with printing the truth of Godâ€™s heart and light in the world. That is one of the most deceptive things about them. Donâ€™t get me wrong, thatâ€™s what most publishers THINK they are doing, but when you get behind the inner workings of a magazine today, you discover how much they serve the bottom line by serving up articles that their readers WANT to read. Itâ€™s the fulfillment of 2 Tim 4, actually, where people “gather around themselves those who will say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Even if some of the editors thought various expressions outside of organized religion were valid expressions today, they couldnâ€™t say it outright. They would have to couch it in deniable words so as not to tick off their readership. How many people into relational life do you think subscribe to Charisma? I donâ€™t. Itâ€™s a fluff piece of celebrity worship for the charismatic renewal. People who know God and how he works wouldnâ€™t spend a lot of time trying to find Godâ€™s truth there. Thatâ€™s not to say it doesnâ€™t show up there once in a while, but it has a high noise to signal ratio. Way too high for me.
What they can do is run an article about house church that isnâ€™t totally negative, but to keep their readers they preach the old, â€˜gotta go to churchâ€™ rules so they wonâ€™t think their editors have gone daft. Itâ€™s a game. That’s why disgruntled letters make little difference. They can run them on the ‘letters’ page to let those people think they have a voice, but it will not affect their direction as a magazine. They are not looking for truth, but to keep their jobs and keep their readership. Cynical, you say? Nope. Thatâ€™s business.
Iâ€™ve written articles for magazines, that editors have told me they truly love, but cannot print. â€œEven though I love what youâ€™ve written here and think it is the truth, I cannot print it in this magazine without 20% of our readers canceling their subscriptions in anger. If 20% cancel their subscriptions our entire market plan goes belly up and we wonâ€™t print another issue.â€ Thatâ€™s how it works. See it for what it is. Enjoy the truth that slips through, but donâ€™t live under the illusion that these editors are the gatekeepers of truth for the family. They cannot afford to be, even if they did have that kind of wisdom. All the major magazines even use focus groups now to find out just what their readers want to hear so they can serve it up to them month after month whether or not it is helpful to Godâ€™s work in the world…
Crazy? Probably. But Paul told us the day would come. Lo and behold, we’re smack dab in the middle of it. It’s quite a ride. That’s why can you keep your eyes on him and don’t freak out when people miss the truth because of their vested interest. Just keep living it, one day at a time and loving one person at a time. That is the way God works in the world. That’s more powerful than any editorial in any Christian magazine…