Soul Drift 2005

by Douglas Hoff


For years now the brightly colored and professionally laid out fliers have come to the church building.  Every year I have put them into a file.  This year’s advertised event is now history.  Soul Lift St. Louis was conducted Sunday July 31 through Tuesday August 2, 2005 at the St. Charles Convention Center.

Perhaps you are not familiar with this annual time of fun and games for young people.  Starting in 1987 Abilene Christian University helped sponsor Soul Lift which included a youth rally and a day at Six Flags over Texas.  Beginning in 2001 Harding University became the co-sponsor.  That year the event took place in Chicago with the Hawthorne Church of Christ in Mundelein, IL as another co-sponsor.

There is certainly nothing wrong with people having fun.  God wants mankind to enjoy the many blessings he has given (1 Timothy 6:17; Ecclesiastes 2:24-26).  Time off for rest, relaxation and recreation is part of God’s plan (Exodus 20:8-11; Ecclesiastes 4:6; Mark 6:30-32).

However, when entertainment and not the gospel becomes the drawing power, the Lord’s church is in serious trouble (cf. John 12:32, 33).  Other happenings at Soul Lift should also give faithful Christians reasons to be concerned for the souls of impressionable young people.  It would be great for teenaged Christians to get together, enjoy some fellowship and fortify their faith as they learn more about God’s will (Jude 17-21).  I do not think anyone would argue that those who attended were entertained.  Sadly, they are also being exposed to teaching and practices that will cause their souls to drift away from the truth.  Long ago Christians were warned, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1; NKJV).  The Christian’s focus needs to be on the word of God, not entertainment (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5; esp. v.4).

Evidence that entertainment is a major emphasis of Soul Lift can be gleaned from their advertisements.  Back in 2001 Grant Knisley was quoted as saying, “Soul Lift is full of fun and excitement, plus it’s a great way to introduce your friends to Christ” (; accessed 19 June 2001).  Notice which is mentioned first: entertainment or evangelism?  The design of the fliers also reveals amusement is a big part of the production.  The theme of this year’s event was boldly proclaimed: “iGod. Download. Listen. Dance.”  The obvious allusion is to Apple’s popular music player iPod one of which was given away.  To this writer it smacks of taking the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7) — as if God exists to entertain us.  The schedule does not mention any period for dancing.  However, since concerts were listed among the activities, who knows?  Perhaps some may have felt like expressing their “worship” by lifting up hands and swaying to the tunes.  To suggest dancing is connected with Christian worship blasphemes the name of God and his doctrine (1 Timothy 6:1).

Soul Lift began on the Lord’s day.  Interestingly, the youth rally sponsored by Harding University includes “worship gatherings” (their words) and performances led by a group called Watershed Worship.  The audience was also presented with “inspirational messages” (again, their words) by noted false teacher Jeff Walling.  Any reasonably informed member of the Lord’s church will probably recognize his name.  If not, there is ample documentation spanning more than a decade to prove his actions have not been in keeping with pure New Testament Christianity.(1)

An interesting note on Sunday’s schedule states that “Communion kits will be provided at the conclusion of the rally for groups requesting them.”  Since everyone had gathered at the Convention Center why would “communion kits” be supplied to various groups?  Communion is to be observed when the church has come together in one place (1 Corinthians 11:20).

The New Testament is clear regarding what should be done about those who would corrupt the purity of the Lord’s body.  Paul commanded, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17, 18).  Sadly, instead of marking and avoiding false teachers, some willingly embrace them.  In so doing they endorse their error (2 John 9-11).  According to the web page, the following churches have supported Soul Lift St. Louis: Florissant Church of Christ, Fairview Heights Church of Christ, Lafayette Church of Christ and McKnight Road Church of Christ.(2)

Years ago at least one gospel preacher was well known for warning the church about the spread of liberalism.  He used to express it thus: “Brethren, we’re drifting!”  In some places they are no longer drifting — they have departed from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1).  No Christian should send precious souls to the wolves (Acts 20:29, 30).  Perhaps only Judgment Day will reveal the damage wrought by this tragic soul drift.


(1) For example, see Goebel Music, “Strange And Uncertain Sounds From Jeff Walling,” in Behold the Pattern (Colleyville, TX: Goebel Music Publications, 1991), 198-223.