The Church In America - We Need The Holy Spirit!


I know right off from the start that this will stir up the religious mindset or spirit but it’s something that has been on my mind and heart for some time. I have refrained from speaking publicly on this subject for a while because it may not be well received. After being at a Ministers Conference last week for several days the heart of God and for His church was just made so clear – the line in the sand has been drawn (so to speak) and the church needs to define herself from the world and man agendas.

It’s time to become the book of Acts, not just in lip service but with the power of the Holy Spirit. That means we have to purpose and desire for ALL of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as Apostle Paul so well stated. Below is an article about one of the most popular (in the world’s standards) moves that has been taking place in the church today. I will only say this – You cannot replace the Holy Spirit with a Dr. Phil approach to change society and build the kingdom that is truly effective. I am not being critical; in fact, I am deeply saddened that many in church today have replaced the Holy Spirit for a casual and relevant environment when the biggest price was paid at Calvary so that we could have Pentecost.

May we hunger after what the early church in Acts desired for us to have! Let’s not replace the power of the Holy Spirit with good ideas or intentions but become a Holy Spirit Driven Church with a strong foundation of the word for a world that’s looking for the real deal.

Damon Stuart


The Purpose Driven Church (a critique)
by Michael J. Penfold

It's a depressing statistic. A majority of Western churches do not see a single addition through conversion in a typical year. So to try and turn things round many are rejecting traditional methods of evangelism and adopting a new 'church growth' model. Market research has convinced them that unbelievers stay away from church not because they reject Christ, but because they reject the church's boring presentation of Christ. There's no need to change the product - just the packaging - and the crowds will come flocking back.

The new packaging is all about replacement. A 'stage' with a moveable Perspex lectern replaces the old wooden pulpit. PowerPoint graphics replace the hymn books. A rock band replaces the organ. A casually dressed and jovial audience replaces the reverent congregation. A charming minister in a t-shirt and jeans replaces the suited 'preacher'. Fun replaces holiness as the tone of the service. Loud music, side-splitting drama, multimedia presentations and a humorous 'talk' replace hymn singing and preaching. But, we're confidently assured, the message remains the same.

Judging by numbers alone the new model has certainly proved a success. Prominent 'church growth' pastors like Robert Schuller (Crystal Cathedral, LA), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, California), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church, Chicago) and Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church, Houston) attract thousands to their churches each Sunday. Though a majority of this 'growth' occurs by transfer rather than 'conversion', multitudes of other churches have adopted this model and have seen their congregations rocket numerically. Small wonder anyone questioning the movement is told, "Never criticise what God is blessing."1 Truth never stood a chance against success.

How widespread is this new phenomenon? Consider this fact; over 400,000 pastors from 162 countries have been trained under Rick Warren's church growth seminar material alone. (Warren calls his philosophy a "stealth movement flying beneath the radar that's changing literally thousands of churches around the world "). His book The Purpose Driven Church, which espouses this new philosophy, has sold over 1 million copies in 20 languages and is a standard textbook in hundreds of Bible Colleges. Yet despite the incredible popularity of Rick Warren and others like him, there are numerous problems with the church growth movement, starting with its history.

Problem 1 - The Origin and History of the Movement

The father of the church growth movement was the relatively unknown missionary Donald McGavran, whose writings had a 'dramatic impact' on Rick Warren. The day in 1974 when Warren first read an article on church growth by McGavran was the day he decided to "invest the rest of his life" discovering the principles of 'church growth'. McGavran's best known student and successor at the Fuller School of World Mission in California was C. Peter Wagner, a founding member of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization. Wagner, a close friend of the late John Wimber (Vineyard), calls himself an apostle and is one of the world's leading promoters of charismatic 'signs and wonders'. From Fuller Seminary the church growth philosophy spread worldwide.

The first pastor to 'make it big' using modern church growth techniques was Robert Schuller. "An indisputed fact is that I am the founder, really, of the church-growth movement in this country...I advocated and launched what has become known as the marketing approach in Christianity."2 How did he do it? "The secret of winning unchurched people into the church is really quite simple. Find out what would impress the nonchurched in your community [then give it to them]."2 Yet Schuller is a false teacher of huge proportions. An unashamed universalist, he rejects Jesus as the only way to heaven. He states that making people aware of their lost and sinful condition is the very worst thing a preacher can do. As for the new birth, to Schuller it simply means changing from a negative to a positive self-image.

Schuller's landmark 1975 book Your Church Has Real Possibilities impressed Warren and Hybels who both visited Schuller to learn more. Hybels called his first meeting with Schuller a "divine encounter."3 Kay Warren, Rick's wife, said that Schuller had a "profound influence" on Rick, who was "captivated by his positive appeal to unbelievers."4 Warren has since shared the platform at several of Schuller's leadership conferences and an endorsement by Schuller appears at the beginning of Warren's book The Purpose Driven Church: "I'm praying that every pastor will read this book...Rick Warren is the one all of us should listen to and learn from." Today Warren, Hybels and Schuller all operate their churches on the same market-driven principles.

Problem 2 - The Business-Church Marriage

The second major problem with the church growth movement is its love-affair with the business world. Warren, who partners with marketing agencies like CMS in Covina, California, a company that helps giants like Isuzu Motors and Quaker Oats "grow their businesses,"5 follows the advice of secular business guru Peter Drucker, with whom he has engaged in a bi-annual consultation for 20 years. The focus of Drucker's recent consulting has been to teach churches and charities to behave more like corporations and Warren has adapted many of his ideas.6 For instance, the Drucker Foundation has a 'Self-Assessment Tool' for business leaders. Warren has a 'Health Assessment Tool' for readers of his Purpose Driven Life. Anyone familiar with the ideas promoted in business books will easily spot their cloned 'Christian' versions all through Warren's writings. Forbes Magazine publisher, Rich Karlgaard said of The Purpose Driven Church, "This is one of the greatest entrepreneurial books I've ever read, and if you merely substitute the word 'business' for 'church', it's just a terrific guide that can be taken to a secular and business audience."7 Bob Buford, founder of the Leadership Network in Dallas, Texas, has spent over 20 years integrating Drucker's business ideas into churches. Another friend of Warren and Hybels, Buford calls himself "the legs for his [Drucker's] brain."8

Compare all of this to Paul's pivotal message to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. He mentions nothing about marketing, growing or adapting. Instead he warns them to teach the whole counsel of God, to beware of false teachers and to preach the gospel of faith and repentance - which introduces the third major problem in the church growth movement, the corruption of the gospel message.

Problem 3 - The Dumbing Down of the Message

Church growth advocate Lee Strobel recommends reaching 'un-churched Harry and Mary' by starting with their 'felt needs'. (Rather than with righteousness, self-control and judgment to come as Paul did with Felix in Acts 24). Thus "If you discover that unchurched Harry suffers from a sagging can tell him how your own self-esteem has soared ever since you learned how much you matter to God."9 Or if he's a thrill seeker tell him there's "nothing more exciting, more challenging and more adventure packed than living as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ."10 In other words, discover what a sinner wants out of life and give it to him 'in Jesus'. In a chapter in The Purpose Driven Church entitled 'How Jesus Attracted Crowds', Rick Warren states: "The most likely place to start is with the person's felt needs...this was the approach Jesus used...A good salesman knows you always start with the customer's needs, not the product."11 In the previous chapter Warren claims, "Whenever Jesus encountered a person he'd begin with their hurts, needs, and interests."12 Yet simply noting how the Lord dealt with Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, the Syrophenician woman and Levi, to name but a few, shows Warren's selective exegesis to be very misleading.

Christians have always known that when witnessing to different types of individuals from diverse backgrounds it is useful to understand the presuppositions they bring to the table and adjust one's approach accordingly. Clearly the Lord dealt with Nicodemus differently than with the woman at the well. Again, Paul addressed the Jews in Acts 13 differently to the Greeks on Mars Hill in Acts 17. So why all the fuss about Warren? Because Warren is not simply recommending that preachers bear their audience's background in mind; he is advocating a total change in the technique, style and form of historical evangelical preaching, and he'll even twist scripture to make his point. He favours a rendering of Col 4:5-6 which reads: "Be tactful to those who are not Christians...Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one."13 Yet the context of this passage is not about public preaching and the translation Warren favours is not in the least bit accurate to the original Greek text.

While no pastor would ever admit to watering down the gospel message, that is exactly what has resulted from preaching positive needs-orientated sermons that entertain and amuse. For instance, an evaluation of Hybels' preaching reveals that in a typical month three out of four weekend messages are about God's love. A mere 7% of messages mention God's holiness. The truth of God's wrath against mankind's sin is virtually never heard.14 What isn't preached is more revealing than what is.

Concluding their weak gospel presentations, many church growth preachers lead their audience in a model 'sinner's prayer'. Warren advises sinners that, "Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe...bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: 'Jesus I believe in you and I receive you.' Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God."15 No conviction of sin, no repentance, no forsaking of the sinner's way, no counting the cost - just 'accept and receive' and the job's done. Do these false teachers actually understand the true need of the sinner? Clearly not, for sinful man's first and greatest need is repentance (not self-esteem as Schuller teaches). Man needs salvation from sin, deliverance from wrath and cleansing from guilt. The 'consumer' is actually a rebellious unclean sinner who, far from being 'always right', is always wrong. He doesn't feel his need for the 'product' because he is spiritually dead. He only thinks he loves God and wants a relationship with Jesus, but actually he knows nothing about his true sinfulness and God's righteousness.

The true gospel is not about making people feel better about themselves, but about making people realise they are lost, guilty and perishing. It does not attempt to bring people to Christ to meet their felt needs - rather it proclaims forgiveness and justification to meet their real need if they will repent and trust alone in Christ. A product that exposes sin, condemns pride and strips away self-righteousness can never be 'marketed'. It is foolishness to the lost (1 Cor 1:18). Yet the new gospel is being presented as an attractive item to the sinner because it liberates his self esteem, fills his emptiness, gives him an exciting life, meets his needs and heals his hurts.

In the false gospel of the church growth movement the sinner is told that Christ died for him because he is so valuable to God. But this is a denial of grace. There is nothing in us to merit God's love. Again, the idea that the sinner is friendly towards God but just turned off by the church is a denial of human depravity. Man is an enemy of God, alienated in his mind by wicked works (Col 1:21). Yet the false gospel says, "You may not believe in God, but God believes in you and you need to believe in yourself." (The Bible says that Jesus did not believe in His hearers, John 2:24).

Problem 4 - Employing a Worldly Approach

The fourth problem with the 'purpose driven church' is its creation of a worldly ethos within the four walls of 'the sanctuary' in order to make the church more appealing to the world. Apparently since unchurched Harry has to dress smartly at the office all week, he insists on the casual look at weekends. To make him feel comfortable the saints must remove their respectful Sunday best and go for the casual or even the scruffy look. Then there's the 'music problem'. Unchurched Harry hates organs and choirs. A cappella singing makes him cringe. So, the music must be contemporary and loud. According to Warren, Saddleback exploded with growth after loud rock music made its entrance. People want to feel the music not just hear it.

Herding all the flock together three times a week for nothing more than hymn singing and Bible teaching doesn't work anymore. Ministries, programmes and small groups must be introduced to meet people's needs for counselling about poor self esteem, depression, infertility, singleness, weight loss, co-dependency, addictions and more.

According to Warren, providing the primary issues are in focus (Christ and His gospel) the secondary issues (the church model/methods) can be as varied as you like. What works (pragmatism) is all that matters. "I contend that when a church continues to use methods that no longer work, it is being unfaithful to Christ."16 So just as Jesus 'targeted' the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Paul targeted the Gentiles and Peter targeted the Jews,17 at Saddleback Warren uses multiple venues to 'target' different markets. A jazz service for jazz lovers. A rock-n-roll service for rockers. Based on a mistranslation of Acts 5:42, Warren claims he's following the apostles who provided different kinds of services in separate 'courts' of the temple.

Warren even claims that God enjoys rock music.18 "I reject the idea that music styles can be judged as either 'good' or 'bad' particular style of music is 'sacred'...There is no such thing as 'Christian music', only Christian lyrics."19 Yet just as clearly as a march tune fits a military scene, jazz fits a night club scene and rock fits a festival scene, so there is a certain kind of sound that suits a prayer meeting - and it's not the rock, rap and jazz sound that the purpose driven church has borrowed from the world. Music that has a corrupt origin, employs sensual rhythms and is accompanied by a fleshly breathy style of singing, with singers who scoop and slide from one note to another, is utterly unsuitable for the spiritual praise of God (Eph 5:19).20


At the root of the entire purpose driven church paradigm is a fatal misconception. As John MacArthur points out: "The notion that church meetings should be used to tantalize or attract non-Christians is a relatively recent development. Nothing like it is found in scripture; in fact, the apostle Paul spoke of unbelievers entering the assembly as an exceptional event (1 Cor 14:23)."21 In fact, the church at Jerusalem was so holy and God-fearing that nobody dared to join it (Acts 5:11). The New Testament preaching of Paul "kept back nothing" (Acts 20:20) and involved reproving, rebuking and exhorting with patience and doctrine, bearing in mind a future time when people would no longer "endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth" (2 Tim 4:2-4). That day has surely come.

The first few decades of the church growth movement have clearly shown the naiveté of those who thought that the true gospel could survive the introduction of a marketing philosophy which says the customer is king. Does style affect substance? It actually does much more. The purpose driven style has completely subverted the true gospel message. Exposition has surrendered to entertainment, preaching to performances, doctrine to drama and theology to theatrics - and the fallout has been catastrophic.

Doctrine has been trivialised and expositional preaching abandoned, leading to the introduction of multitudes of false converts and shallow members. A former Willow Creek counsellor admitted "Willow Creek is a mile wide and one-half inch deep."22 Those who grieve to see their churches adopt this model have been marginalized. Separation from sin, worldliness, false doctrine and false churches has been deeply compromised. Speaking of his church members an unconcerned Warren states, "Are there unrepentant pagans mixed into Saddleback's crowd of 10,000? Without a doubt...That's okay. Jesus said...Don't worry about the tares…"23 When George Barna surveyed Willow Creek's weekend participants he found that while 91% stated that their highest value was having a deep personal relationship with God, of this same group 25% of singles, 38% of single parents and 41% of divorced individuals "admitted to having illicit sexual relationships in the last 6 months."24

The answer to this movement is to abandon it altogether and return to biblical truth, biblical living, biblical preaching and biblical church principles. The idea that these new 'purpose driven' methods will restore the power of God in our midst is a red herring. Warren might just as well say that if only instead of being a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5) Noah had done some simple market research and built a 'purpose driven ark', more than eight people would have come aboard. When holy living, Spirit empowered preaching, loving unity and faithfulness to truth doesn't seem to bring 'results', turning to the new methods advocated by Warren will only spell disaster. There will be results - but all of the wrong kind. A generation ago A.W. Tozer wisely said, "One of the most popular current errors, and the one out of which springs most of the noisy, blustering religious activity in evangelical circles, is the notion that as times change the church must change with them." Since faithfulness to God's word, as opposed to what evangelicalism calls success, will be the standard of reward at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 4:4-5), obedience to the command to preach and teach, without trimming our sail to the wind of the world, is the most pressing need of the hour.


Views: 12

Comment by Danny L. Davis on August 24, 2009 at 8:47pm
The generalizations that permeate this article are a blasphemy to the genuine move of the Holy Spirit that is taking place in many if not a multitude of churches who practice many of these methods, but DO teach solid biblical truth about sin. To many of us Christians the only "model" of church growth is that when you meet people's spiritual need for forgiveness and salvation there is bound to be increase in some form. Like breathing, it is not all inhaling - sometimes it is growth in spiritual depth of the people and commitment level to serve others. Sometimes it is growth in numbers, which provides a harvest field for discipleship, not just conversion (Jesus didn't tell us to just go and make converts - followers - who grow in love, surrender and service). For us finding ways to meet people's felt needs are not the gospel, but a means of showing love that gains us a voice to speak the truth about sin and redemption and be heard. The true message of the gospel must not be watered down, but to indict churches who are in the least seeker focused (meaning we are focused on the mission field and how to reach into their lives - I did not say "sensitive" which indicates to some that we throw out the baby Jesus with the bathwater) that we are operating outside the truth puts your own slant on the way Jesus operated. Looking to the times He was rebuked for doing good works on the Sabbath, He showed clear disdain for the traditions of a church taking precedence over their intended purpose - to glorify God. It does not glorify God to place any ritual, new or old, on a pedestal over any other ritual and in doing so, diminish the value that either has in God's eyes. It does not glorify God for us to place any tradition in a place of higher value than the people God desperately wants to save from themselves. And it does not glorify God when we have the audacity to think we can judge other people's leading by the Holy Spirit when it does not fit into the box that we have put God in. I have little if any patience for any traditionalist who disses contemporary methods (most of the traditional methods you follow endured the same garbage in ages past), nor do I any more care for the insipid idea of some contemporaries that traditionalists "just don't know how to worship." That is so ridiculous as to make Christians look like fools. If we are to "worship in Spirit and in truth) we must have the grace for each other to allow all to follow as the Holy Spirit leads them to connect with Him, Christ the Son and God the Father. What the church has done so well in years past, and what I believe is chief contributor to the decline in the American church in the last century, is waste our efforts trying to save each other out of what we consider the "faulty doctrines" of other denominations. While there are things that we have to take definite stands on to prevent people from buying into a false image of Christ, little here rises to anything close to that level, and much of it is based on half-truths from what I see. Most of this whole argument is just a new face on an old method of the devil - to cause division in the Body of Christ. My advice (or least my opinion) in the bulk of these pointless naive arguments is to say, "If you disapprove of how others are trying to win souls, get off your duff and win some yourself and make disciples of them as the Holy Spirit leads you!" THAT IS the MISSION! If all you are hearing from the Holy Spirit is how to put down others who are trying to win souls for the Lord instead of investing yourself in that work yourself, one should question who they are really listening to. I'm just saying! Let's get over ourselves, get over our personal points of weakness (if you can't help from feeling sensuous from music with a beat, stay away from it yourself, but don't project your soft spot on others like the Pharisees), get over our arrogance (if this is how God leads me, it has to be the only way for everyone else), and start actually giving a hoot about people who are going to hell! There is no greater miracle than a person being redeemed from sin. And remember Jesus' words to His disciples when they wanted Him to stop others from performing miracles in His name because they were not of their number; it is in Matthew 9:38-42: MK 9:38 "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."

MK 9:39 "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, [40] for whoever is not against us is for us. [41] I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."
Let's quit trying to knock the ladel out of each other's hands and start giving out some drinks of Living Water!
Comment by Danny L. Davis on August 24, 2009 at 8:48pm
Sorry that was Mark, but you know that by now!
Comment by Damon Stuart on August 24, 2009 at 10:43pm
I'm not sure I understand what your point is regarding the article?

The point I'm making, along with many pastors/leaders I have been with and talked with, is that the we need to allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives, churches, and ministries like it was set up in the book of Acts to begin with. Getting people saved is not the issue (regarding this article here), it's what we do after their saved which has become the problem in the American church. It's something that needs to addressed as we (the church) desire to see the greatest harvest ever but with a church that is strong in the word and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I hope that relays to you my heart and desire!

Comment by Daniel Lyle on August 25, 2009 at 4:19am
A few comments and a few questions...

First, I have to say that I am in general agreement with Danny about the article. It is little more then a rant consisting of generalizations and unsupported claims. There are more logical fallacies present in this article then there is salt in the sea.

Furthermore, I fail to see how this article is a critique of the Purpose Driven Church. The author never identifies Warren's thesis nor does he summarize any of his main points let alone offer a critique of them. At best he takes cheep potshots on random quotes from the book.

Second, I fail to see how this article supports your emphasis that "we have to purpose and desire for ALL of the gifts of the Holy Spirit." Indeed, the use of this article is ironic given the fact that author takes a shot at John Wimber. Pretty sure the author would not be in agreement about "the stuff."

Third, why the emphasis on the Holy Spirit and not the whole counsel of the Holy Trinity? Fellow WTR member, Matt Osgood, points out in his blog entree, So who are we worshipping anyway? ... The forgotten Trinity, "We worship the Father who is revealed by the Son, and made known to us by the Spirit. We worship the Son who has paid the way for us to access the Father. We worship the Spirit who inspires us and leads us into all truth regarding the Father and the Son. We worship the one God who is mysteriously three persons at the same time, unconcerned by the mathematics of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, but instead drawn into the eternal relationship of perfect love that exists within the Godhead."

All that we do in life and in ministry is by the full counsel of the Holy Trinity!

Furthermore, I have read the Purpose Driven Church and nowhere in it do I find Warren replacing the Holy Spirit with his methodology. In fact there seems to be a great emphasis placed on his need for God in order to do ministry.

Fifth, you speak of a line drawn in the sand. Who has drawn this line and for what purpose does it exist? In other words, what does this line divide? Also, what is the depth and breath of this line throughout the corridors of church history? Is this a significant event that will makes this present part of the church age superior and more significant then any other time? Has line always existed? How long will it exist?
Comment by Damon Stuart on August 25, 2009 at 5:25am
Obviously there are many takes on this matter. But in summary, the main points from this article which are being highlighted and are being overlooked here are these:

Problem 1 - The Origin and History of the Movement
Problem 2 - The Business-Church Marriage
Problem 3 - The Dumbing Down of the Message
Problem 4 - Employing a Worldly Approach

These are based on observations of the "Seeker Friendly" and Purpose Driven styles of church. In fact Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and others that are in positions of leadership in Willow Creek have recently come out and said that the style of Seeker Friendly has produced a church that is "miles wide" but only a inch deep in spiritual growth and maturity. That is where the problems are arising in the Church America. I live in Chicago and have been to Willow Creek several times myself so I speak on the experience after having been there.

Agreed that we worship the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) but again the emphasis of the article from my end is that Pastors today are afraid of the Holy Spirit and are more worried about offending or losing people then letting the Holy Spirit have His way. It's a fear of man issue. When I say "All of the gifts" that's exactly it. Why do we limit ourselves as Pastors or Ministry leaders when Jesus paid the price for Salvation AND the release of the Holy Spirit which He desires that we all the gifts. If it was good for the Apostles why not us?

The line in the sand refers to what type of atmosphere we are establishing in our churches: Long story short,
Are we going to compromise by trying to be so relevant by allowing coffee and pastries in our sanctuary or are we going to treat our times with God in church with reverance and honor because of the glory, power and holiness of who He is? The line is this: Man's way of doing church or God's way?

I have read the Purpose books and while they are fine and dandy, they are just books. Lets preach the word of God being led by the Holy Spirit instead of basing sermon series on books that are alright to read at home but not make a church campaign out of. Thats' just my observation on it and you have the right to disagree with that.

Damon Stuart
Comment by Daniel Lyle on August 25, 2009 at 1:27pm
More observations and questions...

Okay, when I said,"I fail to see how this article is a critique of the Purpose Driven Church. The author never identifies Warren's thesis nor does he summarize any of his main points let alone offer a critique of them." I meant the author never summarizes Warren's main points. I could care less if he summarizes his own. You can't critique a book when you have not provided a concise summery of its argument.

If these are "observations of the "Seeker Friendly" and Purpose Driven styles of church" then why not write a paper titled "The Church Growth Movement: A Critique" instead of "The Purpose Driven Church (a critique)"? I am convinced that the author did not do this because this paper is a rant based on his own self-righteous presuppositions instead of thoughtful and thorough research and criticism?

Neither Danny nor myself are over looking the main points rather we are identifying fundamental flaws that undergird these points. You can't expect people to place faith and stock in points that are based on faulty and unsupported presuppositions. That's what politicians do.

Also, the article never emphasis the issue of the Spirit so I still fail to understand why you chose it. Why not write your own article or use one that address the roll of the Spirit?

You stated "The line is this: Man's way of doing church or God's way?"

Who draws the line? Who defines "God's way" of doing church? The author, the Bible, Rick Warren, you?

The author states "The new packaging is all about replacement. A 'stage' with a moveable Perspex lectern replaces the old wooden pulpit. PowerPoint graphics replace the hymn books. A rock band replaces the organ. A casually dressed and jovial audience replaces the reverent congregation. A charming minister in a t-shirt and jeans replaces the suited 'preacher'. Fun replaces holiness as the tone of the service. Loud music, side-splitting drama, multimedia presentations and a humorous 'talk' replace hymn singing and preaching. But, we're confidently assured, the message remains the same."

Is this the line? Has the author laid it into place for us or has the Bible?

Is a wooden pulpit more holy then a Perspex lectern or hymn books more then PowerPoint? Is the organ the instrument of the Old and New Testaments? Is the Devil in denim and the Spirt in the finely cut three pice uniform of worldly corporate America? Has not the ministry of John the Baptist demonstrated that God really doesn't care what we ware? Is our music to be always quite and always reserved-is that real reverence? When David danced with undignified abandoned did he set aside holiness? When the angles praise made the pillars of God's thrown room shake was God dishonored?

No! None of these issues are Biblical imperatives. This statement assumes that because one has exchanged one cultural distinctive for another that they have also exchanged the truth for a lie. This article adds to the Gospel the precepts of man and Paul warns us that anyone who seeks to do so will be eternally condemned. (Gal 1)
Comment by Damon Stuart on August 25, 2009 at 2:34pm
No offense here but I am beginning to sense that you are reading into other things here. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I was just at a Ministers Conference, for people who are in ministry, and there were around 1,000 in attendance from all over the US. This was one of that main topics in that the Seeker Friendly and Purpose Driven Churches were causing more harm in spiritual growth and maturity then good. That's why I think it needs to addressed.

I've been in ministry for over 13 years now and as I travel and minister in different cities and states, the one thing that has become eveident to me is this: People are getting tired of the gimmicks, campaigns from good christian books and programs that are time fillers instead of being God inspired. They are hungry for the real deal. People have major issues and pastors are preaching a weak message on 5 ways to be a good neighbor (nothing wrong with that) but people are hurting and are not being ministered to. I hear this a lot.

We can debate this article till Jesus comes back but it still doesn't change the fact that we need the power of God in our worship and services - where people are getting saved. Delivered, Set Free. Filled with the Holy Spirit and then go out into the world and duplicate it.

I am not religious and don't care about the jeans vs the suit, I wear jeans when I minister, I do dance before the Lord, I lead worship where people start jumping up and down like its at Hillsongs etc....But again you are still missing the heart of what I am saying. I get the feeling that you have a Theology Major or you are in a denomination background that doesn't believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? If I am wrong then I apologize. But with that being said I am referring to the fact that Man's Programs do not produce true Kingdom results - we need God and the power of the Holy Spirit to do that (book of Acts) through yielded vessels that says Yes Lord, here am I, send me and use me.

Finally, you can disagree with the article, that's your choice. I do think it brings up what we need to know concerning the origins, that it can and should be challenged and that it maybe a help to some but has no lasting fruit in the end. I believe that this method has produced a watered down version of the gospel so no one is offended. Being relevant is fine but to what end? Time will tell.

I don't pretend to know it all because the more I continue to be in ministry the more I know I need the Holy Spirit to help me in everything I do. We dare not speak, preach or lead worship without the Holy Spirit because He is the very breath and life of God in all that we do.

Comment by Daniel Lyle on August 25, 2009 at 8:46pm
A few more observations, questions, and some statements...

First, I don't understand how I am "reading into other things." You posted the article... I am addressing issues present in the article.

Second, The article, claims that Warren and the other men mentioned are false teachers and you yourself claim that their ministries do "more harm in spiritual growth and maturity then good." These are extremely serious charges.

In addressing the charge of false teaching, I have a few questions. In what matter are these men apostate? How have they fled from orthodoxy? Have they denied the Trinity or the virgin birth? Have they usurped the authority of Scripture? Have they abandoned the fullness of salvation by grace through faith in Christ by the will of the Father and in the power of the Spirit? For that matter, have any of theses men really denied the power of the Spirit as the fruit barring agent in their ministries? If so, then how?

Furthermore, how is my theological view of the Holy Spirit (whatever that may be) relevant to the discussion? I am not denying the power of God or the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I am in agreement with you that we need the power of God to accomplish ministry. However, you are creating a false dichotomy. I fail to see how man's programs and the power of the indwelling Spirit are mutual exclusive. I know plenty of spirit filled men and women who employ some of Warren's methods.

I can certainly offer my own criticism of the church growth movement and even of Warren and Hybels. And I do have my reservations about some of the ministries mentioned in the article. However, to write off the entirety of the church growth movement is to throw out the baby, the bath water, the sink, the kitchen, and the house. Furthermore, to attack the efforts of every church in America that would implement Warren's model is utterly ridiculous.


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