Cultural 'resistance' not 'relevance' is biblical approach to reach millennials, Benham says

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Twins David and Jason Benham, who are famous for their expertise in real estate and their Christian stance against the culture, argue against the 'relevance' churches are chasing today. | By Joni B. Hannigan

HOUSTON (Texas) -- When Christian leaders scramble to make material "relevant" to millennials, they not only miss the point, they fail to be true to biblical teaching, David Benham told Christian Examiner.

Believers should focus on being "resistant" to the things of the world, instead of being "relevant" to the world – said one of the popular Benham twins whose reality TV program "Flip it Forward" was cancelled by HGTV earlier this year – before it ever aired.

Benham made the statements at a time "culturally relevant" is in the news because of the fall of Mark Driscoll from leadership as pastor of Mars Hill Church, a Seattle megachurch he co-founded in 1996.

Driscoll, a former leader of the "emerging church" movement and a controversial figure in the surge of neo-Calvinism among young Southern Baptists, was a champion for "cultural relevance" before resigning in October for charges related to misuse of church funds and bullying of members and staff. But it was his attempts at being relevant -- including profanity and sexualized sermons -- that raised concerns and controversy for at least a decade.

David Benham knows about resistance. The brothers came under attack for traditional biblical beliefs they hold in regards to sexuality, sanctity of human life, and religious liberty. These are principles the brothers had been honing over a lifetime, principles they studied each year when they read through the Bible, a commitment they made when they were 18.

"Every year, we were buried under a rock studying the Bible with everything that we had – making notes, building sermons," Benham said. "But we've never had a pulpit, never had any platform at all, having no clue this was gonna happen to us."

Speaking in Houston Nov. 2, Benham and his brother, Jason, both of whom were drafted to play major league baseball following graduation from Liberty University, retired and formed a real estate business. They rose to the top quickly in North Carolina with mentions by Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Ernst & Young and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That's when HGTV approached the duo with the idea for a reality TV show. "We thought OK God, that's the purpose for which He had us preparing, having no clue we were gonna get fired and God was gonna give us another platform," Benham said.

After HGTV cancelled their performance and SunTrust Bank pulled their real estate listings—before reversing their decision following a tremendous backlash—the brothers began to see an uptick in business and in speaking engagements.

"Really it is a platform into the church, to speak to the heart and soul of the church and say let's get back to the rock which we were founded and stop this hero worship and all of the other things which we do," Benham said.

Calling believers to "be the church" instead of just going "to church," Benham said America's cultural decline can be described by the Biblical story in Ezekiel 22 where the Lord speaks to the priests, the princes, the prophets, and the people.

"You make no distinction between the holy and the profane," Benham said of many pastors "who refuse to make a difference between what's right and what's wrong."

"There's too much to lose, " he said.

The "princes" he says, are "ravenous" – likening the vast number of leaders who only come in for the kill to ones who routinely stay away from where they are needed. "That's exactly what we are seeing in Houston. We are seeing it across the nation," Benham said.

Then he says the prophets "smear whitewash" on the deeds, Benham said, recalling the passage. "The people aren't seeing it," Benham continued. "They're just smearing whitewash. Everybody just be happy. Eat some more cotton candy and get back on my Ferris wheel we call the American church."

Finally, Benham said, the American people for the most part are not seeking justice.

At the rally, Benham said, it became clear that men and women are willing to stand for truth.

"I believe that God looks down from Heaven and he sees men and women that will stand in the gap on behalf of the land and will rebuild the wall and get back to the foundations of true biblical Christianity," Benham said. "I believe there's all the hope in the world on that.

"We want to see a revival and an awakening in the church. We know that restoration of the land comes on the heels of repentance in the church."

David and Jason Benham's book Whatever the Cost, is scheduled for release in February.