A few other blogs have posted the following videos where John MacArthur — live, for a change (no stills!) — discusses young, high-profile pastors now dominating the American Young Restless and Reformed and Evangelistic landscapes.

Recently Christianity.com’s editor, Alex Crain, interviewed MacArthur about his most recent book, Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ (published by Thomas Nelson). The discussion is in two parts.

In the first part, whilst MacArthur is delighted about a renewal of the evangelical and Reformed aspects of the Church, he warns us about their pastors.  Should we be paying attention to someone who stands in front of a congregation looking grungy?  Why are some of us attending so-called churches, which are, in fact, no more than boxes which stage religious events, complete with sound stage?  What is the congregation learning about Christ?  Do the pastors understand salvation or sanctification? Even worse is the emergence of pastors who appear remotely via video feed. How can they administer the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?  How can they give prayerful guidance and comfort to the bereaved, the troubled?

The Sola Sisters have helpfully provided part of the transcript for those who are unable to view the videos.  From Part One (emphases mine):

I also have a great fear in the future that the churches that are going to suck up everybody are the churches with the most powerful personalities. There was a video circulating about a couple of these guys with their flat screen churches, counting how many flat screens there are on every Sunday, all across the country, multiplying flat screens … The Bible knows nothing of a pastor who isn’t there, whose family isn’t there, whose life isn’t exposed, who doesn’t touch the lives of his people on a regular basis, who can’t be evaluated so as to the fitting of the qualifications [of a pastor]. How do you evaluate a ‘flat screen preacher’ a thousand miles away? Where is his life on exposure? How do you know his children, his wife, his habits, his life in the community, all of which is critically essential? How does he develop leaders? How does he pour his life into others? This is an aberration. And again, the culture is pulling all of this, and I think it’s pulling it away from the core of sound doctrine.

Don’t go to a flat screen church, period. Don’t go. Don’t make it successful. Don’t feed that. Now, if you go to the original church, wherever the guy is, that’s an option. You can see his life, and you can see his family and his children, and the way he shepherds and cares for the flock, and whether he gives himself to the Word and to prayer, on a regular basis, whether he’s consumed with the spiritual direction and the feeding of the flock of God.

Continued here:

My fear is that the further this thing goes in trying to accomodate the culture, the less it’s going to be able to hang on to that core doctrine … And even when you have some of the people who are the most well known for reformed theology partner up in conferences with the people who are the most extreme pragmatists.  I mean, this is happening. Who would have thought that, say, John Piper would have Rick Warren at a Desiring God conference? … So I don’t know that the heart of this Reformed theology, kind of existing freestanding like an island, can really survive the pull of the culture which is attracting these young guys, and which these young guys are using to attract people … [the thinking] that you’re not going to reach them unless you adapt this. And I think it’s hard to say to that group of people: Hate yourself, hate your own life, hate all the things that are precious to you and come be a slave of Jesus. I don’t know how that message would fly. But that is the message.

In the second part, MacArthur discusses future trends with these pastors and their churches.  There is a bit of repetition between the two videos, by the way.  However, halfway in he states that his Grace Community Church — which has grown into an inviting complex of the church and adjacent buildings — receives 150 new members every month.  That’s pretty astounding!  As it is located near Los Angeles, the mix is diverse in age, generation and culture.

MacArthur notes that his congregation is hungry for the Word of God. They’ve tried other churches — probably some of the ones to which he alludes above — and have left ‘frustrated’. Consequently, MacArthur’s GraceToYou ministries is developing a programme for doctrinally-correct, biblically-grounded pastors to not only plant churches but engage with their surroundings to preach and teach the way MacArthur does. He already has 160 applicants from the theological school affiliated with GraceToYou, Masters Seminary.

There is a real hunger in the world for proper teaching of the Scripture.  It doesn’t involve church growth, small groups, public confession, special diets, Sunday spectacles or signs and wonders. We need more pastors like John MacArthur and his GraceToYou associates.

One of the reasons I am drawing these videos to your attention is because of a comment left on Lane Chaplin’s blog with regard to the first videoThis is from a man in the UK:

I see what he is talking about, here in my town in Helensburgh, Scotland where Reformed minded folk are getting sucked up in the emergent stuff, where people have seen Piper with Warren and think its ok. We have over 10 churches in our town and not one follows what MacArthur describes as a true church and it will take a lot of hard work to get people out of them to start something proper because they have become to[o] comfortable and egoistical.