| DOUBT THERE is anyone who frequents an automobile these days that isn't furiously familiar with the teeth-rattling impact of potholes. You never see them coming; and no matter what route you take to your destination there always seems to be at least one waiting to greet you when you least expect it. |
And, if you're like me, a person who wanders and ponders down the boulevard instead of watching for potholes, you'll more than likely hit the same ones over and over again, which doesn't really lessen the anger and frustration you feel upon impact, but in fact, adds to it when blame is rightly redirected from those whose tax financed job it was to see they are fixed in a timely manner, to the daydreamer behind the wheel for repeatedly making the same moronic mistake of not paying attention and keeping his eyes on the road.
Well, churches hit potholes, as well. And, just like me, they're prone to hit the same ones again and again because they too tend to wander and ponder about frivolous things, like how they might craftily lure and entice the unwashed to church on Sunday, rather than focusing on the straight and narrow. These seem to be the very ones who are most fond of clichés like: "There's no such thing as a perfect church," in spite of the Lord's clear call for our perfection.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." - Matthew 5:48
That road is lined with all sorts of beautiful and captivating scenery, attractions, treasures and personalities, cleverly exploited by the "prince of this world" to distract, deter, delay and discourage us from completing our journey to perfection. After all, who wants to stare down the dull gray road of discipline and discipleship when there are so many other exciting things to see and experience along the way on either side. Though truly following Christ is anything but dull and gray, that is essentially how promoters of the church growth movement view the "old paths."
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." - Jeremiah 6:16a
Unfortunately, these promoters are now found in pulpits, in conferences, in bookstores and on big screens and stages encouraging Christians to, in effect, avoid "the old paths" their parents and grandparents walked; to instead fill their eyes and the eyes of others with all that the brave new world has to offer from the right and left, and call it "evangelism."
"Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied." - Proverbs 27:20
In fact, Christian author, celebrity, and "People's Pastor," Rick Warren has been teaching this new "evangelism " and its worldly ways to church leaders for many years now to try and help them bring in new blood while ridding themselves of the old. The latest such effort was published recently on his website, Pastors.com, and is titled: "What To Do When Your Church Hits A Plateau."
In it, he had this to say:
"If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it's been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it's been plateaued for 20 years, you've got to set in for the duration."
But is it "plateaus" we ought to be watching for, or potholes?
Amazingly, he then said this:
"I'm saying some people are going to have to die or leave. Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it's true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change."
If you haven't noticed, this camouflaged contempt for resistors always manages to seep through his "love everybody" language and the friendly facade he cloaks himself with. And judging from all of the heartbreaking email I regularly receive, targets of that contempt are frequently forced to endure alienation and abuse in their very own churches because brainwashed brethren in leadership positions adopted 40 days of attitude and a church growth agenda that is ANYTHING but Christ-like.
If Warren's choice of words is as "brutally blunt" as he himself suggests they are, he has no business saying them, either publicly or in private. Furthermore, if he is harboring unwarranted hostility toward the brethren because of their biblical convictions and spiritual concerns, he shouldn't even BE in ministry, much less in a pastoral position. I mean, what Christian in their right mind would casually announce on his or her website for all to see, that in order for things to change at church, certain loved ones were going to have to "die or leave?" Just how is that being a humble servant to others and loving thy neighbor as thyself?
What's more, he even invokes the name of Moses to try and validate his sadistic summation of resisters, in spite of the fact that Moses actually had compassion on those who opposed him and even begged God to spare their lives when the Lord was otherwise inclined. Pastor Warren might view himself as the Moses of our day, leading his faithful followers into the Purpose Driven Land, but I certainly don't see any genuine commonalities. All I see is a cheap imitation and a perverting of God's Word to deceive and devalue God's own while elevating and justifying self.
"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment..." - Matthew 5:22a
Remember, we're not talking about some heathen or reprobate taking cheap shots at estranged family members on one of Jerry Springer's redneck roundups; we're talking about a renowned Christian leader talking to brothers and sisters in Christ about the expendability of OTHER brothers and sisters in Christ who refuse to cooperate; as if his arrogant agenda is more important than their concerns, convictions, ministries and even their lives! This is the same person that told the Philadelphia Inquirer only weeks ago that Christian fundamentalism will be one of the big enemies of the 21st century!
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." - James 4:1-3
Many were shocked to learn in my last article, "Killing For The Kingdom - Just Fun & Games," that one of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven partners, Mark Carver, was on the Advisory Board of Left Behind Games, supporting the development of a ghastly new Christian video game for teens called: "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," where un-raptured Christians reportedly "evangelize" New York City by gunning down those who ALSO refuse to cooperate.
Does anyone see a pattern here?
This is how Mr. Carver is described on the Pastors.com website:
"As executive director for Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver oversees the ministry of Purpose Driven in every region of the world except North America. His vision is to see a worldwide community of healthy churches working together to fulfill the Great Commission. Toward that end, Carver and his team are developing tools to train pastors worldwide and creating curriculum to support the spiritual health of individual church members."
So, my question is: Was the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game project one of the "tools" he was "developing" to "train pastors" and "support the spiritual health of individual church members" or was he just supplementing his income with something on the side he thought to be marketable and amusing? I'm just curious, because it makes me wonder what other "tools," "curriculum" and pastime pursuits are part of the Purpose Driven paradigm. It should be noted that Carver abruptly resigned his position with Left Behind Games shortly after his joint affiliation was heralded on the Internet and began to draw severe criticism.
Warren repeatedly uses the metaphoric and ambiguous terms "plateau," "get moving" and "change" in his carefully worded article in reference to numerical growth without actually saying the words "numerical growth." He must do this, and do it delicately, because he and others from the church growth movement have been chastised in the past for putting an unbiblical emphasis on numbers as if THAT is the ultimate measure of a church's success; a false premise that is largely motivated by the marketing madness of pride and covetousness; sins that in my estimation, have spiritually shipwrecked more churches in the past decade than probably any other.
His damage-control answer to this false teaching is found later in another Pastors.com article entitled, "Emphasize church health, not church growth," where he THEN says: "Church health is the key to church growth," which is simply a cunning and disingenuous way of teaching the very same error; that churches whose membership doesn't increase in number are sick and dying, which is as bogus as measuring someone's sainthood by how many converts they can claim; a practice that is also quite common among more fervently defensive Warren supporters.
This is nothing but mega church envy; and if church growth gods and their change agents can convince your insecure pastor that the lack of numerical growth at your church means it is terminal, he will, more often than not, in self-doubt, discouragement, despair and desperation, try almost anything to "save it" along with his job and reputation; and THAT'S when the PDL rep rolls into town peddling his Purpose Driven potions, notions and tantalizing tonics, like a silver tongued devil from the wobbly wagon of traveling medicine show.
They diabolically diagnose your "disease" for free and then sell you the "cure" at enormous cost, which often includes the very unity, harmony and spiritual stability of your church family.
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." - 1st Corinthians 3:6-7
It's time we took our eyes OFF of our "plateaus" and the horizontal heresies of ecclesiastical entrepreneurs and refocus on the road ahead, no matter how dull and gray it may appear to be; where the footsteps of our Lord are always found and we are called to follow faithfully, regardless of the situation or condition we find ourselves in.
"Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil." - Proverbs 4:25-27
You see, it is when we look away at everyone and everything around us in lust, envy, covetousness and contempt that those potholes do their greatest damage.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." - Matthew 7:13-14
And, isn't it interesting who Jesus warned us about in the very next verse?
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." - Matthew 7:15
What To Do When Your Church Hits A Plateau
Rick Warren - Fundamentalist or Finagler?
Killing For The Kingdom - Just Fun & Games
Emphasize Church Health, Not Church Growth
Purpose Driven Media (About Us)
How To Transition An Established Church (Part 4)
© 2006 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective.
As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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