Church & Culture
Let Them Lean In: The Power a Subtle Gospel
We've become very noisy and personality-driven in our presentation of the gospel. Sometimes whispering is better than yelling.

We're in love with the spectacular. Superhero movies, bigger buildings, viral videos and over-the-top personalities.

It’s the same in a lot of our churches.

We've become very noisy and personality-driven in our presentation of the gospel.

Why We're Loud

It's not just happening in new churches. While they impress us with awesome stage design, dramatic lighting effects and Hollywood-quality video, old school churches yell just as loud. But they might do it with sweaty, red-faced preachers accompanied by flairs on the Hammond organ.

Either way, the western evangelical church is obsessed with an all-caps, underlined, bold-font gospel message followed by three exclamation points.

I understand why. The message is vital. People need to hear it. Eternal lives are in the balance. The stakes could not be higher.

Plus, I like church loud. Give me a kicking new song with loud drums and a big bass line and I'm one happy pastor.

But it's not working.

Not in most places.

Not anymore.

We're entertaining the saints, but losing the culture.

In an increasingly loud world, a screaming church feels like just another harsh voice.

In an increasingly loud world, a screaming church feels like just another harsh voice.

When Quiet Is Louder

When there are so many voices yelling at us every day, it's tempting to think that we need to shout louder to get our voice heard.

But what if we went the other way?

What if the church, instead of yelling louder, gave a noise-soaked world something they had to lean in to? Instead trying to catch the attention of an overwhelmed culture with even more sound and fury, what if we undermined the dominant communications paradigm by doing something truly counter-cultural – a subtle gospel?

Maybe whispering the gospel is better than yelling it. At least in some situations.

No, I'm not instituting Gregorian chants in my church. And I realize that there already are a lot of churches practicing a much more subdued form of worship than the ones I've described. But they’re not the prevailing way we do church today.

Make them Lean In

I don't want to be bored in church. And I don't want to go soft on our declaration of the truth, either.

But I'm wondering if there's something about the truth of the gospel that might be better served with a subtler presentation. What if, instead of hitting them over the head, we spoke forcefully, but softly? With our actions more than our words?

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