As I read this short list of things to look for in a church, it was impossible for me to read this section without thinking of a church I know of that fits the "programs" and "self-promotion" description perfectly, and one where the pastor and some of the leaders are well known for their irreverant approach to God and the things of God, in the name of being authentic and/or culturally relevant and/or missional. Interestingly enough, this church and others like it are quickly becoming the most popular kinds of evangelical churches in North America. It's the new face of evangelicism, and quite frankly I find it rather ugly and repugnant. I also find it rather depressing that these are the kinds of churches and leaders that younger Christians are looking up to.
Something has been lost. Somewhere along the journey of authenticity and the desire to be culturally connected we've lost the basic understanding of who we are, and who He is. Somehow we've exalted ourselves to a level we don't deserve, and brought Him down to our level as if He's "dude". Somehow we've taken the idea that Jesus is our friend, our buddy, our pal, and therefore we get to address Him like you'd address anyone else you'd call friend. I have a friend I jokingly call all kinds of things, but I would certainly never address my Lord and Savior in the same way. Why?
Is Jesus my friend? Yes, He is according to John 15:13-15, but what does that really mean? It means that the grace and mercy and love of God came and was carried out in the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means He willingly laid down His life and died in a way most excrutiatingly painful and humiliating, for those the Father gave Him. It means that three days later He rose again, that He was the propitiation for our sins, and that IF we follow Him, love Him, serve Him and believe on Him, that we are closely associated with Him, His philos, familiar aquaintances, and therefore considered BY Him, to be His friends.
Whenever I hear or read of someone calling our Lord "dude", it makes me cringe. That someone would be so irreverant and to hold such a low view of God to call Him that, just blows me away. Especially when it's someone that claims to understand His grace in their own lives. Yes He is our friend, but He is a friend UNLIKE any other friend that we might be so casual and flippant with. HE IS GOD IN THE FLESH. He stands apart from any mortal friend we could ever have, and He deserves our honor, and our reverance. He holds our very breath in His hands, every beat of our heart, and guides every step we take. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is King of kings and Lord of lords and were it His holy will to do so, He could wipe you or me or anyone else off the face of the earth this very moment.
Is this really someone we want to call "dude", or is this our Heavenly Father that we have somehow lost holy fear of?
Romans 3:10-18 describes the kind of character among people that have no fear of God. It's not a pretty picture. By contrast, Proverbs 9:10 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Something to prayerfully consider.