There's this place in Tulsa known as GUTS Church. I have seen it for myself, and I'd post pictures of it here from the visit TeamPyro made there on a fateful Wednesday night, but our only personal contact with the staff at GUTS was when their media director made Dan (our staff photographer for the event) delete the pictures of the preaching he took at GUTS that night.
This in spite of the fact that the event was broadcast live via the internet that night. So I have the one picture I took via my cellphone that night, three pictures Dan took of us as we walked in (forthcoming), and that's it.
Anyway, Phil commented on this visit in passing once, and I did maybe twiceand in one of the liveblogging threads there have been some commenters who have been vocal about their feelings about GUTS.
This weekend we got one comment that said something else:
Now, there are three aspects of this comment that I think deserve a response, and I'll list them here:
 The implication that GUTS church is changing lives.
 The assertion that there is Scripturally-fruitful teaching at GUTS.
 The complaint that jokes about someone's church are inherently not funny and may be not part of the "Christian Manner".
You with me so far? Yes, I know: you were afraid you'd never get one of my expository apologetics posts ever again, and you have already packed a lunch. Very good for you.
As far as  goes, let's be clear about a few things. The first is this: who can really say something bad about an event which is feeding starving kids in Haiti? Who can say anything bad about someone who wants to do such a thing, as far as that event goes? Let me say plainly that GUTS Church's "Tougher than Hell" Bike rally is, in all social and philanthropic ways, a pretty beautiful thing. While public records about such things are hard to come by (the church web site has no significant history listed, and apparently doesn't list press releases), GUTS also did some significant charitable work for victims of Katrina. They take social action work seriously if they take anything seriously.
But the commenter's post was not concerned about the social work Bill Scheer and his church do: it was about the way lives have changed because of fruitful teaching. And that's really , but let me say something here under the heading of  before we get to the apologetic nuts and bolts. A call to social action by a charismatic leader is not the same thing as Gospel preaching. Suddenly realizing that one has a fairly-shallow ethical life (as we all do when we are between the ages of 19 and 25) is not the same thing as suddenly receiving the word of God for the first time.
Social action and activities are good, and good upon those who do them. They are not the same as the Gospel and in fact can be a distraction from the Gospel in spite of Jesus' plain teaching that good works are the fruit of the Gospel. This is not calling Jesus a liar, or calling into doubt the clarity or truthfulness of Scripture: this is simply underscoring the critical point that all who do socially- or morally-encouraging things are not doing Gospel work.
If you need some Scripture to fortify that for you, my suggestions would start at Luke 18:9-14, where Jesus makes it clear that the Pharisee (which, in His day, didn't mean "hypocrite" but "teaching pastor"), who took solace in being a good guy, was not justified, but the tax collectorwho only relied on God's mercy, and knew the depths of his own need and sinfulnesswas the one justified that day. Another suggestion would be Rom 1-2 in which Paul makes it clear that the Law's only purpose is to condemn men of sin, teaching us our need for Christ. Yet another would be Gal 5if it is good works which are the measure of our Gospel-compliance, why does Paul tell us that circumcision (a God-established ordinance and covenant-keeping sign) will make the sacrifice of Christ of no use?
That said, let's think about the matter of Scripturally-fruitful teachingabout point . Let me say first of all that every pastor has a soft dayhe's human. So it is prolly impractical to visit someplace once and say, "well, his application of the historical/grammatical hermeneutic grid on the pericope he chose for this message was lacking in epistemic foundation to the text. He's a false teacher." Everyone has one day once in a while where they have to, for example, talk about the missions mission of their particular church, and in that they may have difficulty tying their message to any particular text because they are not talking about the reason we do missions, but the today-fact that these are the missions we are doing: "lookhere are our missionaries."
So everyone can have an off day, and the content in that case has to be considered in the context of what the pastor was clearly speaking to.
Everyone with me?
OK. So on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at the 9 PM sub30 service, we got there lateand found a dance-off not only in progress but in full throw-down. After the music stopped once, to the credit of whoever was MC, I did hear someone say, "rememberlet's keep it clean, OK?" So there was no dirty dancing going on, and I'm not personally so much of a prude as to say that dancing is itself an evil in which Christians should never participate.
But we were in what appeared to be the main sanctuary of the main building, and the music was really, really loud (Dan correctly remembers for me that it was Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Music"), and they were dancing off for a cash prize.
After the prize was awarded, (we didn't actually see who got the prize, but Phil was convinced that the girl who did the triple back-flip should have won) a fellow took the stage (there was no way to call it a pulpit as there was no pulpitonly band equipment) and began talking.
Now, you can listen to one version of this sermonone that's cut off in the podcast, and is from what sounds like the "normal" Wednesday service rather than the "college and career" servicehere. And in that, there are some interesting features. For example, there's the opening offer to take credit and debit cards for the offeringwhich has to be considered in the amazing ability of GUTS church never to fail to ask for money in any context and at every opportunity. There's also this fellow's riff on the OnStar navigational system.
But this fellowand let's not be coy, it's Bill Scheer, pastor of GUTSbegins "preaching" from Matthew 12. Here's the whole passage, from the NKJV, which was his translation of choice:
Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”Um, well, also to be fair, this is actually the passage he cites, and upon which he delivered a message:
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.Now, what kind of talk can one deliver on that passage of Scripture? Let me say that if this is all you quote from this passage, you could make any kind of talk you want out of it. And frankly, Pastor Scheer did.
You can hear where he goes with the grownups on the linked audio; with the sub30's, he first dismissed both John Maxwell and the Emergent church in the first breath, then proceeded to give a very Maxwell-esque "leadership" talk. Then he went on to stress the necessity for strong leadership, a great vision, and an interesting bit about how he's a smarter and better parent than his parents were, and how he's also smarter and more worldly than his kids. There was also the part near the end when Pastor Scheer quipped that you can't have church in a coffee house, but then as he dismissed he pointed out that they have a coffee house there in the church, and you could have a cup o' joe on your way out.
BTW, after reading the partial clip of Mt 12:25 to sort of launch his talk, he never came back to it. He had a lot to say about social vision and great leadershipthat is, you have to follow great leadersbut he never got back to what Jesus is talking about here, which is the blasphemous blindness of the Pharisees who called Him demon-possessed.
Now, I subscribed to the GUTS podcast to give Pastor Bill a chance to change my mind about his love for Scripture and his willingness to actually preach what it says rather than what he is willing to say. Rather than add a page on what I heard there, I encourage you to subscribe to that podcast immediately and listen to it this week until you have formed an opinion about it. Listen to at least 2 whole podcasts.
In my book, the claim that the teaching at GUTS church is spiritually-fruitful is, in the best case, one woman's opinion.
The last question is whether or not jokes about someone's church are actually funny or part of the Christian manner, and in that I'd like to say that, first of all, Pastor Bill doesn't have any problems making jokes about other people's churches. If we can resolve that problem, we can start the rug-beating of TeamPyro for finding semi-charismatic motivational speeches amusing.
Thank you for asking.
P.S. -- For those who are tracking my weight, I'm down 2 lbs after a week of harsh dieting and 500-cal treadmill sessions. That sounds good, but the first 3-5 lbs comes off like, well, the disgusting useless lard that it is. I have to get a total of 30 lbs off, so stop e-mailing me your apologetical and blogospherical oddities.