Greg Boyd, Megachurch Anomaly

August 2, 2006 by

Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood, Minn. and its pastor, Greg Boyd, are getting loads of attention from the New York Times article, “Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock” (registration required). The article covers Boyd’s controversial sermon series, “The Cross and the Sword,” which argued that Christians should have little to do with politics and typical Republican alliances on issues like abortion, homosexuality and war.

“I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world,” said Boyd. “The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

You can’t touch issues like that without fallout, and for the 5,000-member church the fallout included losing 1,000 people. The fallout also included a change in the demographics of the congregation, losing white suburbanites and gaining racially diverse members from the surrounding community.

It’s an interesting story and part of why Paul Eddy, fellow pastor and college professor (I had him for a few classes at Bethel) says, “Greg is an anomaly in the megachurch world. He didn’t give a whit about church leadership, never read a book about church growth. His biggest fear is that people will think that all church is is a weekend carnival, with people liking the worship, the music, his speaking, and that’s it.”

It’s also old news, considering the controversial sermon series happened before the 2004 presidential election, and you may remember it’s something we covered before. But given the release of Boyd’s new book, The Myth of a Christian Nation (you have to admit the Statue of Liberty on the cover looks familiar), and the nearing election season, it’s time for a good church and politics story.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

19 Responses to “Greg Boyd, Megachurch Anomaly”

  • Eric
    August 2, 2006

    Oh snap! I had never heard that story before but I think I aqgree and admire Greg for saying what he believes. I’ll look into his book.

     | Permalink
  • ajwittwer
    August 2, 2006

    It’s interesting how many groups Christians are encouraged to stay away from. Bars, schools, certain music scenes, now politics. No wonder the world is slowly turning darker…the light is pulling into itself.

     | Permalink
  • The Aesthetic Elevator
    August 2, 2006

    The pastor of the church I’m in takes a similar line, and I’m very glad for it.
    However, some of what was said about Greg could have been a little off theologically, IIRC. Nonetheless, I prefer a church that sticks to its Biblical guns and — while encouraging a Xian presence in politics — isn’t pushing an agenda other than the Fame of the Name.

     | Permalink
  • Roland
    August 3, 2006

    Most church “marketing” is lobbying, unfortunately. The idea is not to get people into church, but to embed Christian principles in our legislation.

     | Permalink
  • Gene Mason
    August 4, 2006

    Outside the United States, many people of other religions often equate “American” and “Christian” as one in the same–which is unfortunate, as our nation less and less speaks for Christ-centered principles, especially in our media exports.
    I don’t think you can go wrong putting Christ at the center at the expense of everything else, including political viewpoints. Ever wonder why so many people are more interested in the issue of, say, prayer in school than actually PRAYING?
    Amen to the Christ agenda.

     | Permalink
  • Scott
    August 6, 2006

    In response to “It’s interesting how many groups Christians are encouraged to stay away from. Bars, schools, certain music scenes, now politics. No wonder the world is slowly turning darker…the light is pulling into itself.”
    I have never heard Greg say we should not be involved in politics or anything even remotely related to that view, what he seems to be clear on is to keep the politics out of the Church, as in idolatry.
    In addition Greg has been known to go to bars with some others from church to evangelize and answer questions about Jesus.

     | Permalink
  • jeremy
    August 8, 2006

    I am a member of woodland hills church and have been inspired by Greg Boyd not only as my pastor, but also as human with a christ-like agenda.
    The truth is that jesus was misunderstood before and after his death.People expected him to take rule of Jerusalem and lead the crusade against their conquerers. Instead they inherited a man that would wash a whores feet.They thought he would would lead Jews out of oppression and take rule with a sword.Instead he lay himself to waste on a cross as a sacrifice for mans sins.
    The message in the new testament (echoed by Greg Boyd)is to replicate jesus in every way. So I guess when I think of examples of Christ like deeds, I dont think of bombs,guns and rockets.I’m not reminded by military prescence, politicians,filibustering, prolife protester holding signs of dead babies where other children can see them? I would like to think that I am better reminded of gods kingdom by the volunteers ,rebuilders, the missionaries.,the words of encouragement and all things like this big or small that changed the world through love, compassion and example, not by force and filibustering.
    Jesus aligned himself with the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of the world.If we are to be like Jesus, shouldnt we do the same?

     | Permalink
  • A.B. Dada
    August 9, 2006

    I’m a fan of Boyds bigtime. As a fairly die hard anarcho-capitalist Christian, I find that politics clouds more minds in Western Christianity than anything else.
    For many years my apolitical views regarding voting, the law and Romans 13 kept many churches from using my talents. Only recently have local churches started to realize that their faith in man has replaced their faith in God and I’m really surprised that my phone rings off the hook from churches that said I was too revolutionary just 2 years ago.
    I’m glad to see articles comment on the Christians who advocate peace, love and charity rather than bombs, guns and ridiculous man-made doctrines.

     | Permalink
  • kelticpete
    August 11, 2006

    boyd’s point is that politics and the kingdom of god are two different spheres.
    for example, on isssues of jesus-god-miracles-prayer my best friend and i agree. but he is republican and i am democrat.
    i believe abortion is sad, and that under mosaic law it was manslaughter, but i believe it is a family issue. i don’t want the government to get into the morality business.
    i believe it is a christian thing to be pro government welfare. but i can see how other christians would see it as an usurpation of the church’s job.
    so my church would not get “issue” oriented.

     | Permalink
  • shawn
    October 20, 2006

    I had Dr Boyd in Seminary…. He was brillinat! I love him and I agree

     | Permalink
  • JIM
    August 23, 2007

    I have just seen a small segment on CNN”s God’s Warriors and I agree completely. I feel quite sad that the evangelical voting block truly believe that Bush shines the light of christian America upon the world to instill his values as the correct ones as though he has any idea? Wake up!

     | Permalink
  • Jai
    August 26, 2007

    The Church should be going about the business of saving souls and making disciples,not politicians.Jesus knew that changing people hearts is what makes a difference in society not laws.

     | Permalink
  • Guilherme
    August 26, 2007

    I’m from Brasil and we have our “version” of pr. Boyd; thanks Lord for him. In Brasil so many were set free by the gospel. Now, can you imagine Jesus going to march against abortion? gays? yelling defending monuments in public buildings? we should be hated by this world not for trying to force laws, but to support and love those this same world rejects.

     | Permalink
  • Big Chris
    August 27, 2007

    My wife was among those who left WHC, but not for the reason everyone else did. The day that Greg Boyd offended/angered that large segment that left, about 10 minutes before he got to that point my wife got up, walked out, and never returned to Woodland Hills Church. She had been there for 7 years, from when they were still meeting in the high school. She had taught Sunday School classes there. She had had enough of every single sermon he preaches only covering two subjects – love and openness theology. It didn’t matter what passage Boyd was teaching on (I saw this too on my frequent visits to WHC when we were dating), he would somehow bend the message back to one of those two things. While love is great, and indeed God is love, God is more than just that. I know Greg knows that, he’s a very smart man, but when he speaks he always comes back to his pets. It’s too bad, because he is an engaging preacher. I appreciate WHC’s ministry, as they are trying to reach our city (I live in East St. Paul, only a few miles from Boyd’s church). I disagree with Boyd’s open theism, but that doesn’t stop me from valuing the work they are doing in our community. But it does stop me from attending there.
    Big Chris

     | Permalink
  • chris
    August 27, 2007

    what would jesus do? that sums it up for me. i learned of greg through the gods warriors show on cnn. which has led me to look him up and read more. i must admit that i am tired of all these right wing christians and bush. just because you say your a christian doesn’t make you a christian. actions speak louder than words and bush’s actions haven’t seemed so christian to me. would have jesus left all those people after katrina helpless? would have jesus sit back and let peple sneak around and get contracts on rebuilding iraq? would jesus raced off in to war with iraq in the first place? the list could go on but i won’t. christians should lead by example and i believe that the word love is said in the bible more than any other word. jesus spent his time around all the people that everybody else didn’t want to. the lepers and prostitutes recieved help from him when all the politicians of that time didn’t want anything to do with them. sounds familiar! though i do not believe that abortion is right in gods eyes along with homosexuality, we can do better buy loving these people instead of pointing the finger at them. i am going to leave all the judgement up to god and try and just LOVE like jesus did.

     | Permalink
  • mike hosey
    August 28, 2007

    Hey Big Chris –
    Does that mean that you’ll leave all you’re judgement up to God – including your judgement for “rightwingers.”

     | Permalink
  • chris
    August 28, 2007

    hey mike, first that comment wasn’t from big chris, it was from another chris. my judgement was more of a opinion and not speaking for god as most rightwingers do. my statements about bush are facts. iam not condemning people as the far right christans do. i just said i was tired of them and there politics and perfectness. i haven’t met a right winger who can admit a mistake or being wrong. opinions are just that and judgement using god’s name is just that.

     | Permalink
  • Evangelist Casey
    January 31, 2012

    Eat up everything Grey gives! He has the heartbeat of the Master.
    Those who live to give Jesus, (as Greg) must be listen to! Greg you
    are a wildly courageous soul. Keep up your uncompromising biblical
    messages! Thank God for Champion Warriors, who stand up and give
    GOD’s TRUTH!

     | Permalink
  • Elizabeth Stricklin
    November 1, 2012

    I am a 48 year old wife, mother, and Bible teacher at our small church. Recently the Lord has awakened our body to the reality of our need to take Christ at His word when He tell us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God”. It seems that obedience to that command would put everything in perspective. We are not of this kingdom but we are in it. The only way to dispel darkness is to bring light in, not to curse it. Arise and shine for your light has come. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Maybe that explains global warming. His glory is approaching. Amen.

     | Permalink

Demographics/Research, Examples