An Example of Becoming All Things to All Men

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).

-The Apostle Paul

This is a mini documentary of The Whosoevers. It’s a collaboration ministry of Rian Ries, Lacey Sturm (lead singer – Flyleaf), Sonny Sandoval (lead singer – P.O.D.), Ronnie Faisst (Motocross), and Brian “Head” Welch (Korn guitarist and lead singer of Love and Death). They’re seeking to reach people “where they’re at” with the gospel.

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


  1. says

    Jim, I agree that God often works in spite of our methods (and maybe more than often) — and in spite of a lot of other things, too. I don’t agree that we should use that reasoning to say that the end justifies the means.

      • says

        Jared, I wanted to listen to the video again tomorrow before answering, but I couldn’t sleep (heartburn). So here goes. While it should seem that one might be able to give a clear “yes” or “no” answer to your question, I think it is otherwise. Was Jonah sinning when he preached judgment to the Ninevites? I’d say no in the preaching, but yes in his deportment. If a man was having an emotional affair with someone, would he be sinning to share the gospel with that person? I’d say no in the preaching, but that he shouldn’t be there in the first place. These situations aren’t exactly like what you’ve posted, but might illustrate that things aren’t always sewed up easily in black and white (and why both Jim and I could say God works “in spite of”). I think our lives and situations are more complicated than just looking at whether they are sinning or they are not sinning. But that’s beyond the original intent of my post.

        My first post was short and maybe a little cryptic, but my intent was to say that I don’t think what you posted is the same thing as Paul’s phrase “all things to all.” [And I intended to hopefully incite a little discussion; at least that worked :-) ].

        I believe that in the broader context in which Paul is writing, all things to all is about yielding our rights and liberties for the sake of the gospel. I don’t really think what you’ve posted is so much about that. In fact, might it not possibly be better described as being “one thing to one”?

        • says

          Robert, how is what’s going on here different than going to an indigenous tribe, dressing like them, adopting some of their customs, etc.? It’s important that we’re able to pinpoint the sin in this ministry before we disparage it. In the Biblical examples you give above, the sin is evident. In this ministry, I cannot say that they’re sinning. They’re going after a subset of our culture. If they dressed in suits, had no tats, were playing symphony music, looked like you and me, and went after those in the high culture, would there be any difference?

          • says

            Jared, first let me say that I gave those as examples to show why I was not answering a “yes” or “no” to your question whether the people in the video are sinning. I’m not fighting them or disparaging their ministry, just commenting on your post. I do not have the time or inclination to investigate what they are doing. But there were things in the video that raised some red flags to me. One of the worst was Ryan Ries statement that “God is just sitting there waiting for you to come to him.” I don’t believe that for a minute and wouldn’t think you do.

            But my original thought was about your title and its relation to Paul’s statement about being all things to all. I don’t think this is the same thing. Is this different than going to an indigenous tribe? Well, this is not an indigenous tribe. I suppose these folks are a subset of our culture — just as you and I are. But this “subculture” mixes and mingles in the melting pot that we call America, riding on the same public transportation, working at the same jobs, eating at the same restaurants, attending family reunions, etc. Right here where I live I brush shoulders with folks in “that” subculture, with some in “the high culture,” and with other variations. Some might be in my family, some I might work with, and so forth. They are all part of “my” culture. Should I look like one of them deliberately to the exclusion of the others? Should I shave my beard to reach the straight-laced guy with the high & tight army haircut, or should I get a nose ring to go with the beard to fit with the tatted and pierced folks at the coffee shop? Is that really what Paul was talking about? Does being one thing to one people make sense in a society where we come in contact with all kinds of people?

          • says

            Robert, like you, I have some theological concerns with this group. But, I hear these types of statements often at Southern Baptist meetings as well.

            Concerning how we dress, we look like some subset of culture anyways. We’re not our own subculture. The Whosoevers appear to be trying to reach a specific subset of American culture. If they’re not sinning or violating their own consciences, then shouldn’t they (and you and I) as well be willing to dress like this subset if we’re trying to reach them? Or, to dress like any other subset of culture in order to reach them? I assume “becoming all things” to all men means “without sinning or violating my own conscience, I will limit my freedom so as not to needlessly offend, that others might hear the gospel.” Paul didn’t needlessly offend the Jews or Gentiles. Would you and I offend the above subculture if we approached them the same we approach our own subset, or should we be willing to adjust our looks, music styles, etc. to prevent needless offense?

          • says

            Jared, I guess there are some things I look at differently. One would be limiting ourselves to go after some particular subset in our culture. Maybe something of that concept makes sense if we’re going to a region where everybody looks like everybody else. But that is not where I live and that is not the people I come in contact with. Aren’t we supposed to preach the gospel to all people in our culture? We should be versatile enough to preach to all people rather than target some narrowly defined piece of our society.

            In 1 Cor. 9, Paul is not advocating some missionary technique in which we dress up in someone else’s costume in order to reach them. Rather, he is advocating that we Christians embrace the example of Christ (and which he himself had embraced, 11:1) in living out who we genuinely are as a servant of Christ who exercises self-restraint and excises what is unnecessary and offensive, all for the cause of Christ. We must become captive to Christ, not culture. That’s a lot easier to preach (and write) than to live!

    • says

      I’m hardly machiavellian, but even Christ was condemned for eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 9:10ff) in such a way as to be called a glutton and a drunkard (Matt 11:19). Notice the argument that Jesus makes: “wisdom is justified by her deeds.” I wouldn’t say that’s particularly machiavellian, but I would say that itmeans that we can’t fully discount the positive results of culturally questionable methods that aren’t otherwise sinful in determining their moral value.

  2. Stephen Beck says

    I didn’t see any particularly bad methodology here, actually much of what they said to the cameras was very good. The only thing that was missing from my perspective was a clear presentation of the gospel of repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Instead most of what I heard was Jesus the Therapist, making me happy. But maybe that’s the editor’s fault or maybe it’s just me.

  3. Randall Cofield says


    2 Co. 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
    15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
    16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
    17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

    Mr 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

    If we’ve never “come out” of the world, we certainly cannot “go into” the world.

    What accord doeth Christ have with Belial?

    • says


      Are you saying that these guys who are being saved should abandon their friends and the hardcore culture? That makes no sense. That’s a complete misunderstanding of the verses you cited. The people who are leading this ministry have left behind the “fruitless deeds of darkness” and are not exposing the people who are still captivated by those sins to the light and the transformation that they have experienced in Christ. What do you expect them to do- have their tatts removed, cut their hair, and start listening to the Gaithers? That makes no sense.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Lu 8:35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

  4. says

    Good find Jared.

    I worked with kids like those depicted in the video for years. When Head came to Christ it was a huge thing for a lot of kids who were being called by God to salvation. I am still impressed by his commitment to the Lord and how he has taken his role as an ambassador to his culture seriously. I can’t dress like these guys and I’m not tatted up but I have respect for the men and women in this ministry who are taking the Gospel to a culture that is largely neglected and ridiculed by the church.

    Definitely a ministry I will be checking out further and praying for.