From suits to sneakers and flannel shirts

The Courage to Be Protestantflannel

By David F. Wells

Eerdmans, 2008, 272 pages

After returning to the Lord after a 23-year absence I was very surprised to see how much the church in America has changed. Taking the place of a dwindling number of traditional churches are now seeker/purpose-driven churches and emergent churches. What’s all this about?

In this book, evangelical theologian and minister, David Wells, takes aim at the seeker and emergent models. Seeker churches use the latest marketing tools and technology to draw visitors. Content and format are overtly culture-friendly while preaching and doctrine are decidedly on the light side. Emergent churches use the Bible as a starting point to a self-discovery “narrative” which suggests truth/s rather than declares it. Emergents are so culture-friendly they’ve adopted much of the relativism that surrounds us in this post-modern era. In both types the vital distinctives of evangelical Protestantism – the Five Solas – are being compromised or dismissed altogether.

Wells is extremely critical of both movements and supports a return to the traditionalCBP church/worship model. I cautiously recommend this book to those interested in learning more about the seeker and emergent models and how they compare to the traditional church but be forewarned that the theology gets VERY heavy. It’s definitely not a breezy read for the beach.

My opinion? I’ll take some traditional hymn singing and the pastor preaching from the pulpit in a suit every Sunday but it looks like those days are fading fast. However, I’m grateful just to have a church to go to where the Bible is preached without compromise. They seem to be getting harder to find. But it is a little disconcerting to see how pastors’ obligatory Sunday outfit de rigueur is now jeans, sneakers, and a flannel shirt.



5 thoughts on “From suits to sneakers and flannel shirts

  1. Good find Tom. I don’t have a problem per se with a more contemporary look in worship that still sticks to the correct Gospel message. But, the only real services I have had experience with are very traditional, as we are very traditional.

    I do love singing from the Hymn book, as it makes it easy for the whole congregation to sing. Anybody can follow the little notes up and down. And the verse repetition means by verse 2 we all have it nailed. I can focus on the message instead of wondering where the music is going next.

    Suits? Yeah, I do like a preacher in a suit. To me, it’s very much a symbol of authority, and I personally like that from the guy who is telling me how I should be living.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks a lot, Wally. I could write a very long essay on our search for a church over the last three years. Where we currently worship definitely leans towards the trendy with contemporary/rock music, lots of technology and professional-grade printed material, pastors in jeans and flannels, etc. It’s all a bit unsettling for me. But the preaching and teaching are excellent. I know our two sons, ages 41 and 37 and both unbelievers, would be much more apt to visit our current church than a traditional church.


    1. We are quite traditional. This church has been around for over 150 years and really not much has changed in terms of the service LOL. In fact when we built a new building a few years back, many were quite shocked by the presence of a video screen. They have become fans somewhat, though.

      Sorry about your kids. I certainly understand that, as both of my children are non believers. Thankfully my step children are firm in the faith. My stepson is actually a preacher in our work.

      Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Wally. Although I lean towards a more traditional setting I’ll take the new stuff seeing as the preaching and teaching are excellent. I’m just grateful for a place to worship with other believers. Thanks! Be blessed today, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jesus had the guts to claim divinity…and the grace, truth, and power to back it up. A whole generation is being shamed into giving up being His bride. A husband is jealous, quite positvily, for his wife’s love. Dear G-d, may this emergent generation see how powerful Your desire for relationship is for them. To choose love rather than tolerance, and clarity if truth over confusion! Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

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