ISN’T JESUS ENOUGH?

I am sure by now most of you have heard about our Star Wars Easter. Even though we have been doing these thematic services on Easter for a decade or more people still seem to see them as something of a novelty. The Winnipeg Free Press did a half page story on the service as they did our Batman Easter a couple of years ago. When we did Star Trek a few years ago we were the lead story on the Global National TV news.

What some of you may not know is that we are the subject to some very vicious criticism. There are entire websites that become obsessed with thrashing me as a non-biblical and compromised seeker sensitive pastor. Others produce videos accusing me of blasphemy and heresy. I am not going to post any of these links because I don’t think these mean-spirited, modern day pharisees need any more traffic than they already have. The easiest thing in the world is to hide behind a computer screen, do nothing productive at all for the kingdom of God yourself, and to throw rocks at others who actually are. To be honest I don’t even read them myself as nobody needs to subject themselves to that kind of abuse. You risk either being hurt or developing a hard heart instead of a thick skin which is just as bad. However, it is never good to entirely ignore your critics as your enemies actually keep you sharp. I have staff that are more than willing to share the highlights with me. Remember Jesus said “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” If you never hear any criticism that is again a good indication that you maybe you have become too uninspired in your approach.

There is one major criticism that I think is worth discussion.  Again and again I hear this; “Isn’t Jesus enough? Does the gospel really need Elvis or Batman or Luke Skywalker? Is the gospel story too boring for you?  Why don’t you just preach the gospel of Jesus instead of dragging the world into the church?”  And so it goes.  These questions seem very noble and righteous on the surface but they are  missing the context of what we are trying to do entirely.  First off, of course I think Jesus is enough.  As an evangelist at heart everything I do is designed to bring people to the place where they would see that Jesus is not only enough, He is everything.  The harder question is this; how am I going to get them in the door to hear that?  If I spent a million dollars advertising ‘This Easter come and hear how Jesus is enough… the Old Rugged Cross will be performed by the choir’… the only people that would come are those that already believe that Jesus is enough.  Unfortunately our world has tuned out the gospel.  They think they already know it, which of course they don’t!

What non-christian people do know is Pop culture. Star Wars in particular is wildly popular and Disney has just paid $4B for franchise. This Easter we had somewhere over 6000 attend one of our 5 services.  That is over double what we would have had without the theme.  That is 3000 new people that heard that ‘Jesus is enough’ because they were intrigued enough to come and check us out. Dozens of them came to faith in Christ and filled out decision cards.  They have been invited to a 4 week course that teaches them how ‘Jesus is enough’. These people were lost for all eternity last week and now they have discovered the gift of eternal life… but instead of rejoicing the modern-day pharisees become like those of old who objected, “It is not lawful to heal on the Sabbath”.

Perhaps the most ironic thing of all is that even Jesus resorted to the same approach. He did not walk through the streets shouting, “Don’t you people know that I am enough?” Instead he told parables about fishing and farming and ranching and sheep and goats and seeds and vineyards etc. What was that all about? Why did He have to drag the world into his preaching? Because He lived in an agricultural society He was using the cultural metaphors that his hearers understood to communicate the complexities of the Kingdom of God. In fact almost all of Jesus’ preaching was the use of stories and illustrations of the world in which He came to reach.

I believe it is the single most effective way to preach the gospel. We do exactly the same thing in world missions.  We study the culture to discover the redemptive analogies that most easily relate the gospel and then use them to point the people to Christ. In Muslim countries the most effective evangelists actually use the Koran to introduce Arabs to Jesus. Some well-meaning Christians find that offensive. I say, unless they can do a better job, they need to keep their mouths shut and go find something better to do.

On Easter morning I admit that I did start my message with an elaborate reference to Star Wars and I was dressed up as a Jedi Knight.  I do understand that could look goofy.  (John the Baptist may have looked goofy in camel skin and I don’t even want to know what people thought of Isaiah as he walked around barefoot and naked for three years – Isa 20) But for the remainder, my message included 15 scriptural references, dealt with the history and origin or Satan, his fall from heaven; the creation and purpose of man, the fall of man, the consequences of the fall and finally the plan of salvation to restore man to his rightful place with God through the work of the cross and the resurrection. That would seem like a lot of biblical ground to cover in just 30 minutes and hardly qualifies as a watered down gospel. At the end of the day scores of people young and old made a commitment to follow Christ. If criticism is the price I have to pay to see people rescued from a fate worse than death, then bring it on!

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20 Responses to ISN’T JESUS ENOUGH?

  1. Amanda Mackay says:

    Amen Pastor Mark!! My 13 year old daughter and her friend accepted Jesus into their hearts after your Easter message. Anyone who knows what its like to have a teenage girl knows that “watered down” doesn’t cut it! Thank you for delivering Jesus’ message in a beautiful and authentic way!

  2. Jim says:

    Pastor Mark,

    Thank you for staying the course and presenting the message (which never changes)in fresh and relevant ways (always changing) as to capture the folks that would otherwise not bother paying attention to a message that they so desperately need, Christian or not!! Keep up the great work stay the course and keep the faith!!

  3. Sandra McLaren says:

    Hi Mark,
    Just wanted to tell you that I have been watching your program for years after I was introduced to you by a friend from Alberta. I think it is great that Church can be fun as we learn more about Christ. You are a solid teacher and I have learned much from you. Your stories are the best and your jokes are the worst 🙂 but they make me laugh. I have a number of your services saved on my PVR for watching more than once.
    I teach at a Christian School on Vancouver Island now but became a Christian through the honest, personal sharing of three lovely ladies out in the boonies of central BC when I really needed God in my life. I as so grateful to them and to people like you!
    Keep up the good work and don’t let the negative press bother you. God is your defender and he knows your heart!
    Sandra

  4. Dave and Jan says:

    Right on Pastor Mark! Thank you!!

  5. carmen says:

    I just would like to say that Pastor Mark, you have been a great inspiration to me. I deeply and sincerely appreciate all your great and awesome efforts in delivering God’s Word to people, reaching out for us. Thank you very much and God Bless You and your family.

  6. Sally says:

    I missed this Easter service as I was away visiting my grandkids but I heard of good reports from several people, one from a girl I work with. She brought her brother who thought the whole service was great. I do believe that we need to use all methods to reach all people to get the Word out just like Paul says in the Word:”I become all things to reach some”.

    Even though I missed our service, I was blessed by the Roblin Youth at the Evangelical mission church(who by the way are on fire for Jesus and are even going into the reserves with the gospel message). the did an excellent job presenting a modern play about the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My two grandsons who have only really been introduced to church over this past year or so, were mesmerized. Even though it was a great presentation but I do understand what you say Pastor Mark, it only drew in the Christians that were already saved not the unbelievers. So yes we as Christians must use modern means to get the gospel message out. So continue to keep on keeping on Pastor Mark in what you are doing to reach the unbelievers, it is working. And we do rejoice with you when souls are saved and lives changed!

  7. Sharon Harley says:

    I was at the Star Wars Easter service and I thought it was very well done. A service such as this is a great tool to bring the Good News to the lost. This is a church with a heart for the lost. Pastor Mark I want to encourage you to keep on as you are. Lives are being saved through your down to earth useable life liveable truth teaching sermons. Many many souls have been saved through you and God is dancing for Joy over them. 🙂

  8. Isaac says:

    Not only that, but the Gospel was weaved in to the whole presentation! I loved the line, “He who lives by the lightsaber, dies by the lightsaber.” 🙂

  9. Steve says:

    The Star Wars play looks pretty funny. Good job making it an exact replica.
    Jesus is LORD! Let’s lift Him high!

  10. Steve says:

    Star Trek, sorry.

  11. Jed says:

    wow..talk about pagan worship..mother Rome is happy with you Mark..easter/Ishtar devoted to the goddess of fertility from Babylonian times, sunday worship..sunrise facing the east lol..sungod worshippers..how about just following the words of Jesus in the Gospels, and follow His commandments..Jesus said in John 14.15 “if you love me keep my commandments”…you won’t post this comment because it is the truth but that’s your decision!

  12. Rob says:

    Keep up the good work pastor Mark!!

  13. Scott McKee says:

    With all due respect, Pastor Mark and his staff have forgotten or are unaware why the church, the corporate body of Christ exists in the first place: that is to build up, teach, extort and equip believers to go out into the world and preach the gospel. The church does not exist to entertain pagans in order to get “bums in the seats” in hopes that we can hold their attention long enough to slip in a watered downed feel good gospel. This is deceitful; a modern day bait and switch. The apostles did not put on “Christianized” gladiatorial games to attract pagans then tell them about Christ. Moreover, it is quite evident from his statement that Pastor Mark does not believe Jesus is enough,
    “ If I spent a million dollars advertising ‘This Easter come and hear how Jesus is enough… the Old Rugged Cross will be performed by the choir’… the only people that would come are those that already believe that Jesus is enough.
    Really? Does Pastor Mark know this for sure? It’s not his job to “get them in the door” it’s his job to preach the gospel, period. It is God who draws sinners unto Himself for salvation, not Star Wars, nor any other gimmick. In modern day churches it’s the number of “Decision Cards” that justifies this pragmatism. “Decision cards” mean nothing. More often than not these are false converts who being brought in by entertainments and spectaculars will only stay as long as they are “entertained”.

  14. TERRANCE JONES says:

    some christian people want Christianity to be hard to justify there own righteousness they dont want to admit it is easy anyone can do it all we have to do is believe that Jesus is enough. Please Mr Hughes keep up the great work. You peach that it is easy to be saved we need more of that.

  15. TERRANCE JONES says:

    The church does exist to get the pagans and bums off the streets and throw in a couple of prostitutes, Those are the people Jesus hung out with. Most churches today only want the good people. I believe that is why the world is in the shape it is in (NOT GOOD)

  16. TERRANCE JONES says:

    I do apologize if I over stepped my bounds Mr Hughes.

  17. ron richardson says:

    Dear Pastor Hughes. I recently found your church on TV when you preached about S.A.L.T.
    I am a Christian and have passed this onto other pastor friends of mine. They are 100% in agreement with what you say. You are different in that you bring the word into the 21st century where we can apply the basis every day.Jesus said FEED MY FLOCK and you are doing so. I live in Brantford ON

  18. EJ says:

    I understand your desire to reach out to the lost. However, as a former atheist, I can assure you that a church presentation of Star Wars would not have been effective for me or anyone I know. If I’d have gone back in my atheist days, I would have gone to mock. A hokey church presentation would have made me roll my eyes. Many of my friends are atheist. I told them about your Star Wars service. They laughed and rolled their eyes. Your church members may have liked it as well as a few un-churched young children but most adults would have scorned your performance. The Gospel does not have to be dumbed down and turned into pop culture to get people to listen.

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