This past Sunday afternoon I needed to bring some information to some church members who were having a planning meeting at a cafe down the street from the house. I walked over and joked with them a little and then told them what I'd come to tell them.
The cafe isn't all that large, and there were only two parties present. One was the planning meeting, and the other was a couple I'd never seen before. No, wait, I'd seen them as they were parking their car in front of the cafe. Anyway, I couldn't help but overhear part of the conversation they were having with the waitress. By "they" I mean the husband. The wife didn't offer anything. The waitress must have been talking about churches, because this is what I heard from him:
My first reaction was to defend us and to invite him to our church, which doesn't seem to preach a watered-down message (at least not to my knowledge - you can read my sermons and make your own judgment). Then I thought, "And then we'll have this guy who'll just as soon attack us..." And furthermore, I needed to get home to take care of the kids.Well, the Methodist Church preaches a watered-down the message...
This got me to thinking, however. What is a watered-down message?
I was going to define watered-down message, but I found a good definition out there.Dan defines watered-down gospel this way:
"Watered-down gospel" is often an accusation that is more feeling than logic. In other words, it sounds powerful and inflammatory, but the people using it really don't have any true definition of the phrase. For one, what do they mean by "gospel"? Do they mean doctrine? Do they mean "message of salvation?" Do they mean practice? In my experience, it usually means "your doctrine doesn't line up with ours, or doesn't go as deep as ours, so you are lesser Christians than we are." It tends to be tossed from those who love doctrine at those who love people. In the end, I think it's a meaningless phrase, so I try not to use it or answer to it.I'm glad I didn't try to get into it with the guy. I know what the outcome would have been: I would have gotten frustrated in trying to demonstrate to him that our message isn't watered-down. And I wouldn't have made any difference in his life.
Besides, it wasn't my conversation!
If you were his waitress, how might you have responded to this gentleman?