The Changing Church

See also Transformation, Postmodern Church, Purpose-Driven Church & Emergent Church

The Global Church | Re-Inventing the Church, Part 1 | Christian Psychology?  

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Biblical Perspective Church Growth Perspective
The People's Church Leading a Healthy Church - Rick Warren
What's Wrong with the 21st Century Church

Synopsis - Part 2 - Part 3  (by Dr. Robert Klenck)

United Methodist Church Mission Statement
Structure & Strategy of a Purpose-Driven Pure CellChurch System
The Market-Driven Church: A Look Behind the Scenes Growing Congregations Spur Church Construction Boom
Robert Schuller General Teachings/Activities Association for Church Renewal
Bill Hybels: General Teachings/Activities The Great Commission Roundtable 
Willow Creek: Conversion Without Commitment
Covey's 7 Principles for effective national and local strategies 

The Travesty of Tolerance - A Global Gospel

Hope for Europe: Sun Tzu: Art of War & YWAM Books 
  Faithworks: Glossary | Bob Buford | Drucker

News, Links and Quotes

October

From success to significance to seduction: "I was again reminded last week of just how far the perceived church has strayed from the Great Commission upon reading an article published in the Baptist Press entitled: 'Mid-life adults can move from 'Success to Significance.' It begins by quoting the renowned and now deceased business management guru Peter Drucker, whose celebrated concepts and principles came not from scripture but reportedly from his own observations and life experience - pragmatic precepts that have become the very leaven of today's church." See Social Change & Communitarianian systems

February

Christians have no fear of God: "We pray to Him, ask Him to 'Bless America,' and even put his name on our coins. But we really don’t take Him seriously... Unfortunately, for us, our enemies take their god very seriously. They fly planes into towers for him. They blow themselves up to honor him. They are committed to a world where their god is the one, exclusive, god of the universe. But America’s God is tolerant, and diverse, and all loving, right? ...

      "People will serve whatever they fear. That’s why torture is so effective. The fear of pain convinces one to compromise. 'If I speak out, it could cost me my job!' Yep. You serve what you fear. America is in trouble. We fear the wrong things. "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso put his trust in the Lord shall be safe.' Proverbs 29:25" See Forgetting the fear of God

 

Are we witnessing the rise of the Fourth Reich? "My focus upon the German church is predicated upon the fact that as a Christian pastor... it is my studied opinion that any western nation will rise or fall according to the attitudes and actions of its Christian leaders and churches.... In the case of Nazi Germany, it was the German churches first and foremost that failed their country.... Some ministers were no doubt deceived themselves. Many others, like Adam, partook of the forbidden fruit with their eyes wide open.... Therefore, let's examine the attitudes and actions of Germany's ministers and churches and compare them to America's ministers and churches today to see if there is any similarity." See Until That Day: Taking control of the church with consent of  the masses and Re-Inventing the Church

January 2006

Today's Sermons: Self-Esteem, Self-Help, and Most of All 'Stories': "In the past... biblical preaching was God-centered, sin-exposing, self-convicting and life-challenging; the direct opposite of today's light, informal sermons that Christianize self-help and entertain better than they convict. ...No wonder nominal Christians leave church feeling upbeat. Their self-esteem is safely intact." See Self-esteem

December 2005

In Swaziland, U.S. Preacher Sees His Dream Vanish: "In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson... moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In October, Mr. Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination....

     "Mr. Wilkinson won churchloads of followers in Swaziland, but left them bereft and confused. He gained access to top Swazi officials, but alienated them with his demands. And his departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn't bend to their will....

     "Perhaps Mr. Wilkinson's most successful venture in Swaziland was a conference in June -- funded by a $108,000 grant his group received from the U.S. government -- aimed at engaging churches in the fight against HIV." See The Prayer of Jabez

One-Quarter of Self-Described Born Again Adults Rely On Means Other Than Grace to Get to Heaven: "When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean? ... A new national survey released by The Barna Group indicates that the terminology used by followers of Jesus Christ reflects a breadth of meanings.... Overall, 80% of adults in the U.S. call themselves 'Christian."

October

A Faith Revolution Is Redefining 'Church': "Barna profiles a group of more than 20 million adults throughout the nation labeled 'revolutionaries.' He noted that although measures of traditional church participation in activities such as worship attendance, Sunday school, prayer, and Bible reading have remained relatively unchanged during the past twenty years, the Revolutionary faith movement is growing rapidly. ...

     “'This new movement of God demands that there be new forms of leadership to appropriately guide people in their faith journey,' Barna said. 'It requires new ways of measuring how well the Church at-large is doing, getting beyond attendance figures as the indicator of health. And it demands that new tools and resources be accessible to a growing contingent of people who are seeking to introduce their faith into every dimension of their life.” See Re-Inventing the Church

September

Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement: " Schuller wrote, 'Where the sixteenth-century Reformation returned our focus to sacred Scriptures as the only infallible rule for faith and practice, the new reformation will return our focus to the sacred right of every person to self-esteem! The fact is, the church will never succeed until it satisfies the human being’s hunger for self-value.'... His reasoning is that since all humans hunger for self-value (remember the felt needs concept), the church must feed their appetite for this if it is going to succeed. ...
     "The lack of popularity of Christianity does not prove the need for some new reformation. It proves that Jesus was absolutely right when He said that His way was narrow and that few walked on it. The Church Growth Movement has shown a willingness to lay aside the clear teachings of Scripture in order to find success in this world. The 'reformations' of this movement are all 'deformations' and should be fully rejected."
See
Warren's P.E.A.C.E. Plan & UN Goals - The Emerging Global Church

 

COR and compulsory salvation: are you guilty of treason? "In a letter dated May 1993, addressed to 'Dear friends of C.O.R. [Coalition On Revival] and Crosswinds,' Dr. Jay Grimstead wrote to a newly formed 'Church Council Steering Committee. This Steering Committee' was made up of forty well-known Charismatic leaders and Reconstructionists, united upon a common doctrine of 'dominionism' pertaining to building the Kingdom of God here on Earth. Here are a few scary quotes from this letter:

    "'1. The Kingdom of God was inaugurated and the King was installed and seated in the First Century A.D. and we need not wait for the King's second coming to get the Kingdom started here on earth...." Don't Be Deceived!

August

Why Fear Reveals Love: "The answer to seeing more people respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ will never be found in 'new' and 'novel' methods of presenting our Lord’s timeless message. This critical answer will never be found in the allure of Madison Avenue sales techniques, cute slogans or any of the other PDL/CGM trappings. No, there is but one way the Evangelical church will ever begin to impact our society once again, and that is to make a clean break from the use of our sinner-centered business techniques, and to fall on our faces before the Lord...."

Churches seeking marketing-savvy breed of pastor: "'...I think a lot of churches are looking for outreach' specialists, says Schlotfelt, outreach pastor at Mountain Christian Church.... 'It's the medium of marketing that's used to get a message across [in today's culture], whether it's an election or you're trying to sell a product.'...

     "At Church Marketing Solutions, Inc. in Centreville, Va., which offers low-cost marketing, 4 out of 5 staffers have masters in business degrees. At the headquarters of Outreach Inc. in Vista, Calif., 120 employees have brought corporate-style marketing to thousands of congregations....

    "Among males enrolled in seminary in 2000, the most common educational background was technical science, including business, communications, and computer science... 'Nearly every pastor is a salesman or a marketer of one kind or another because... we have a philosophy to sell," says [Mr. London of Focus on the Family]. 'The best marketers and best salesmen will have more converts.... Evangelicals are marketers because they're really passionate about their product." Marketing "Christianity"

 

Megachurches, Megabusinesses: "Maybe churches aren't so different from corporations. World Changers Ministries, for instance, operates a music studio, publishing house, computer graphic design suite and owns its own record label. ... Welcome to the megabusiness of megachurches, where pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics to grow their congregations. ... There is even a publicly traded company, Kingdom Ventures, whose sole mission is to help faith-based organizations get bigger." See Small Groups and the Dialectic Process

July

A Southern Baptist Pastor Shares Concern Over Seeker-Sensitive Churches: "...if one has become enamored with what’s become known in some sections of the Body of Christ as seeker-sensitive churches, they would no doubt be happy to see huge congregations like Willow Creek and Lakewood all thriving under the apparent blessing of God. However, it is time for a critical question to be asked: Is it actually God Who is blessing, or might it instead be that the Lord is simply standing back and letting man have his own way? ...

      "Dr. John MacArthur writes: 'Listening to a seeker-sensitive evangelical preacher today, we’re likely to think it’s easy to be a Christian. Just say these little words, pray this little prayer, and poof! You’re in the club. According to the Bible, it doesn’t work that way. In Matthew 7:13 during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished His followers, 'Enter by the narrow gate'….

     "'People are breezing through those wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction.... And somebody thinks he’s done them a big favor by coming up with a consumer-friendly gospel about which everybody feels good. But that gospel is a false gospel, a treacherous lie. That easy-access gate doesn’t go to heaven.... 'Because narrow is the gate,' Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, 'and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.'" See Widening the gate to the Kingdom

The Books and Authors That Have Most Influenced Pastors: "Not surprisingly, Rick Warren was king-of-the-hill in this listing, as his books were mentioned by 30% of the pastors. John Maxwell was the runner-up, with books listed as among the most helpful by 5% of pastors. Five writers were mentioned by 3% of the nation’s church leaders: Henry Blackaby, Jim Cymbala, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, and Phil Yancey. The other influential authors were George Barna, John Eldredge and John Piper, each of whom was mentioned by 2%."

Preaching a 'Celebrity Gospel': "The social gospel rose to prominence during the 1960s, when preachers strayed from the gospel of the grace of God and started proclaiming a message of salvation through 'good works.'...

      "When a preacher proclaims a celebrity gospel, offenses are stringently avoided. There is no need to carry a Cross -- no need to take a stand theologically or politically. Christ is preached, but without preaching against sin. The good news of Jesus Christ is set forth in vague generalities designed to keep from dividing the audience....

     "Larry King... recently interviewed both men [Billy Graham and Joel Osteen] separately and in so many words asked them if they believed people of faith outside of Christ would go to heaven. Graham's answer: 'That's in God's hands. I can't be the judge.' Osteen responded: 'Here's my thing.... I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way.' Both acknowledged their own faith in Christ, but wouldn't clearly delineate that there is only one mediator of salvation between God and man -- Jesus Christ."1 Timothy 2:5

     "Christ came to us as the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. So it is to be expected that those who follow Him will taste the same suffering and endure the same disdain." See Sharing His suffering

June

Gospel Message Via Tarot Cards (page 51 in this Lausanne pdf file): "A provocative way of presenting the gospel in New Spirituality festivals is via tarot cards. ... Understandably, most Christians will baulk at the idea because tarot cards have occult connections. To properly argue why tarot cards could be used as a device for communicating the gospel would require a lengthy paper. A few basic points may be summarised...." The occult

 

Current State of Missiology: Reflections on Twenty-five Years 1968-1993: "...mainline churches in all parts of the world became strong advocates to exchange transcultural evangelism for religious dialog with people of other faiths. The rationale was to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, theological inclusiveness, and religious tolerance.  ... this new ecumenical theology was to achieve 'nothing short of the liquidation of the Church' on the one hand, and the domestication of God 's Kingdom on earth on the other. In terms of ecumenical theology this means that 'the inhabited world is synonymous with the Kingdom of God.'" See Chart: Transformation of the Church

 

Modern Churches to Bible Preachers: 'You're Not Welcome': "...take a look at practically every single Old Testament prophet. Ninety percent of their preaching was negative. They seldom had anything positive to say, especially about the way their nation's leaders were behaving. They were often jailed, beaten, starved, or even killed. They were as familiar with prisons as they were with pulpits. They were despised by political leaders, rejected by religious leaders, and shunned by business leaders. ... 

    "Can you imagine the Apostle Paul preaching a message on 'Conquering Low Self-Esteem'?"

 

Christians no different from the world: "Recently, pollster George Barna released his research regarding the beliefs and conduct of today's Christians. The results are shocking! According to Barna, only 9% of America's born again Christians have a Biblical worldview....To determine a Biblical worldview, Barna used the following 8 point criteria: Believing that absolute moral truths exist. Such truths are defined by the Bible. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and still rules today. Salvation is a gift of God and cannot be earned. Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ. Satan is real. The Bible is accurate in all its teachings.

     "...only 3% of Christian parents include the salvation of their children in the list of critical parental emphasis.... George Barna summarized his findings by saying, 'Faith makes very little difference in their [Christians] lives: believers do not train their children to think or act differently [from the world]. It's no wonder that they [Christian children] grow up to be just as involved in gambling, excessive drinking, and any other unbiblical behavior as everyone else." Signs of the Times

May

Dick Staub on the Star Wars Myth: "Lucas's stories may have more in common with Hinduism than Christianity, but it's still True Myth, says the author of Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters.... A myth is a story that confronts us with the 'big picture,' something transcendent and eternal, and in so doing, explains the worldview of a civilization. Given that definition, Christianity is the prevailing myth of Western culture and Star Wars is a prevailing myth of our popular culture...."  No, that's not true! See the explanation in Revenge of the Sith

 

Earthly Empires - How evangelical churches are borrowing from the business playbook: "...30,000 people endure punishing traffic on the narrow roads leading to Lakewood Church every weekend to hear Pastor Joel Osteen deliver upbeat messages of hope.... 'God has a great future in store for you.'... Each week 7 million people catch the slickly produced broadcast of his Sunday sermons on national cable and network channels, for which Lakewood shells out $15 million a year....

     "Pastor Joel is one of a new generation of evangelical entrepreneurs.... Their runaway success is modeled unabashedly on business. They borrow tools ranging from niche marketing to MBA hiring to lift their share of U.S. churchgoers.... Says Osteen: 'Other churches have not kept up, and they lose people by not changing with the times.'...

    "A line of 'Biblezines' packages the New Testament in glossy magazines aimed at different market segments -- there's a hip-hop version and one aimed at teen girls. Christian music appeals to millions of youths, some of whom otherwise might never give church a second thought, serving up everything from alternative rock to punk and even 'screamo' (they scream religious lyrics)....

   "Kids are often a prime target audience for megachurches. The main campus of Groeschel's Life Church in Edmond, Okla., includes a 'Toon Town' of 3D buildings, a 16-foot high slide, and an animatronic police chief who recites rules." The ways of the world

 

Leadership Network Announces Major Publishing Alliances: "Leadership Network has now inked multi-year, multi-title deals with both Zondervan and Jossey-Bass.... 'Jossey-Bass is also a longstanding friend of Leadership Network. We’ve worked together with Jossey-Bass since 1996 to introduce such well-received titles as Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian.” See how Rick Warren endorsed one off Jossey-Bass' leading books: Small Groups and the Dialectic Process

April

 A pioneer of Christian happy-talk: "...churches brim with converts committed only to their personal self-actualization, publishers lavish feel-good pabulum on their readers, and the airwaves ring with an emotive rendering of Christianity that would fit nicely alongside the corruptions of faith Jesus chides in the second and third chapters of Revelation.

     "More than 30 years ago, Vance Havner, in his book 'Playing Marbles with Diamonds,' offered the following insightful: 'The devil is not fighting religion; he is too smart for that. He is producing a counterfeit Christianity so much like the real one that good Christians are afraid to speak out against it. … Today, the angle is to avoid 'negative' preaching and accentuate only the positive.' ...

     "A follower of Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller has become the face and voice of today's 'Christian' self-esteem movement. Of course, there is nothing Christian or biblical about Schuller's self-idolatry message. It is clearly more akin to New Age thinking." See Strange Journeys

March

How John Calvin led me to repent of Christian Psychology: "I had been taught in seminary, 'All truth is God’s truth.' If a psychologist stumbles across some biblical principle, why not use it? Doesn’t the Bible teach proper self-love, as long as I’m not proud? Isn’t God’s love for me the basis for proper self-esteem? Aren’t parents supposed to build their children’s self-esteem?

      "So I preached sermons such as 'Feeling Good About Yourself' and 'Developing a Sense of Self-Worth,' based on Scripture (so I thought), laced with insights, quotes, and stories from the leading Christian psychologists....

      "I want to present five areas where I believe so-called 'Christian psychology' is at odds with biblical truth. 1. The Christian psychology movement is built on an inadequate view of salvation.... 2. Christian psychology focuses people on self, not on God and His glory.... 3. Christian psychology denies the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.... 4. Christian psychology undermines the sufficiency and authority of God’s Word.... 5. Christian psychology minimizes the biblical view of sin and personal responsibility." See The Pied Pipers of Purpose

 

Evangelical Leaders Swing Influence Behind Effort to Combat Global Warming: "A core group of influential evangelical leaders has put its considerable political power behind a cause that has barely registered on the evangelical agenda, fighting global warming. These church leaders, scientists, writers and heads of international aid agencies argue that global warming is an urgent threat, a cause of poverty and a Christian issue because the Bible mandates stewardship of God's creation." See The U.N. Plan for Your Community

February

WEA Secretary General... offers challenges to evangelicals: "In his farewell letter to members of the World Evangelical Alliance, outgoing General Secretary Gary Edmonds stresses three things for Evangelical Christians to concentrate on based on three biblical tenets of the faith.... 'First, it is important that we embrace the truths affirming that the local church is God's sustaining instrument of transformation in society, that the gospel of Jesus Christ through an equipped people is to touch and transform the whole of life, and that the people of God are to minister in functional and practical unity...."

     But the basis for unity can't be an ecumenical vision that discards "divisive" Scriptures. See Oneness and The Global Church

 

The best and the brightest: "In its ongoing pursuit of the culture and its favor, today’s compromised church continues to imitate the world it wants to 'reach' for Christ, demonstrating clearly to those with eyes to see and ears to hear that something has gone terribly wrong in and around the pulpit and that very few of those in leadership are aware of it or are willing to address it with any honesty or conviction." Conforming to the culture

 

Power from the pulpit: "It is Sunday, and once again I have listened to a sermon that sounds almost like the sermon I heard last Sunday, and the Sunday before. It is as if there is a computer program that the preacher keys into, clicks a few buttons, and the computer shakes up the words and then prints out the sermon. They always seem to address the same issues: how to conduct yourself, how to conduct your marriage, how to raise your family, how much to tithe, and in Christian churches, how to be saved. ...

     'My grandfather was a Primitive Baptist preacher in the mountains of east Tennessee. ...he did not hesitate to mix politics and religion if he felt that politics was interfering with our freedom to practice our faith. There was not such a thing as 'separation of church and state' in those days. There were no computer programs that conveniently printed out politically correct, non-offensive, safe-to-preach sermons....

      'Today things are different. We have ministers who are actually afraid to get into areas that might be 'dangerous. They avoid certain topics so that they do not offend certain special interest groups or government officials....

      "Jesus made waves. He was not afraid to address politics, nor was he afraid to stand up to the organized religion of the day. In fact, in Matthew 21: 12-13, he threw the money changers out of the temple.... Are there any ministers today who would do the same?
  
   "
I once asked a Jewish Rabbi what he planned to do regarding an upcoming gay pride parade and march on city hall, considering what was written about homosexuality in the Old Testament. His reply? 'Things are different now. We accept things now that were not accepted in the past.' Really? Since when? And who decided this?"
Jeremiah 5:21-24

January 2005

Joel Osteen: The Prosperity Gospel’s Coverboy: "Move over Robert Schuller, the Church of Laodicea has a new star on the rise in the world of positive motivational Christianity. It’s Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, whose motto is 'Discover the Champion in You.' ...

     "Osteen made the list of the Top 20 Influencers of the Pentecostal/charismatic community in the Jan/Feb 2003 Issue of Ministries Today magazine. He was listed with other notables such as Kenneth Hagin Sr., Tommy Tenney, C. Peter Wagner, and Joyce Meyer. 'There is no arguing that the following 20 leaders have inspired us, challenged us and in many ways caused us to rethink what it means to 'do church' in today's culture,' the article boasted." Romans 12:2-9

December 2004

Salvation by satellite (John Blake, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11-27-04): "The church's sanctuary had already been dimmed — like a movie theater — in preparation for the Rev. Andy Stanley's sermon. Suddenly, the lights illuminating the stage shut down, leaving the sanctuary hushed. Stanley emerged from the darkness with a Bible in hand, smoothly sliding into his sermon. It all looked familiar — except Stanley really wasn't there. The worshippers were looking at a 3-D video image of him being beamed to their sanctuary from his 'mother' church in Alpharetta.... 'We've had people who come who think he's really there,' David McDaniel said....

     "In the world of satellite churches, pastors may preach Jesus Christ but they do business like Sam Walton, relentlessly expanding. Whether spreading the word of God through a video feed or through deputized ministers, they have found a way to be in several places at once....

     "By planting satellite churches in varying locations, they plan to enhance their popularity and, in turn, create brands. Those brands would help market sermons, books, worship styles and programs that go far beyond the boundaries of bricks and mortar.... Andre Landers, senior pastor at New Birth South, said that plan merely follows biblical precedent: God placed apostles over entire regions....

     "But how does a megachurch ensure doctrinal consistency when it's creating so many far-flung congregations? ...That's why so many megachurches have their spinoff congregations either sign statements of faith or broadcast sermons from their senior pastors. It's quality control....

     "Randy Renbarger, a church spokesman, said Perimeter pays an annual fee of $249 to buy Willow Creek's 'lifestyle,' which includes skits, sermons, and conferences that have been shown to work with the unchurched. 'We had Bill Clinton come in to speak a few years ago,' Renbarger says. 'They pull in resources that we could never get — and if we could, it would cost us so much money.'" Re-Inventing the Church

The Manchurian Christian: “Dewey promoted a philosophy of education with the premise that learning by doing (experimentalism) should form the basis of education, and any idea or concept is validated by its practicality (pragmatism). Some Christian educators consider these ideas to be precursors to 'values clarification' and other questionable teaching models that advocate moral relativism....

     "Shouldn’t we also be testing the worldviews of children (and their parents, for that matter) in today’s seeker-sensitive, purpose driven churches? After all, are not 'experimentalism' and 'pragmatism' key components of the church growth movement?...

     "Pastor Rick Warren: 'Saddleback is kind of the Research and Development department of the church at large. We’re not afraid to fail. We’ve always tried more things that didn’t work than did. Every once in a while we find – usually by accident – something that works. Then we teach the seminars and pretend like we planned it all along, when really it was just the result of trial and error.'“...

     "So, they're teaching tolerance, diversity, unity, pragmatism, experimentalism, relativism, humanism and socialism in public school, right? ... 'Let’s put aside our differences, search for common ground and just learn how to love each other and get along for the common good,' right? Think about it; honestly now; is your church really all that different?"

      Scroll down to Chapter 1, "The Tactical Role of Pragmatism in Church Transformation" in The Pied Pipers of Purpose

October

The Martyrdom of Polycarp. "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and he never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior."

      Compare the eternal focus of saints such as Polycarp with today's self-focused and psychologized church growth movement:

 

The History of 'Faith at Work': "Smaller groups allowed greater openness and emotional intimacy. In that environment new procedures developed. These procedures were partly the outgrowth of the Human Potential movement and related behavioral principles and processes. Transactional Analysis with its emphasis on personal O.K.ness, the National Training Laboratories with their interest in honest and open encounter....
      "...the concept of Christian wholeness was made central to the relational life style.... Under the leadership of Faith at Work, and with some funding assistance from the Lilly Endowment, a series of clergy conferences was held in the spring of 1970 in six American centers.... The result was the Leadership Training (Development) Program which was launched with another grant from the Lilly Endowment.... The objectives of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-delight, of group building, and of discerning gifts governed the institute program. Here as elsewhere there was an effort to fuse Biblical faith with insights from the behavioral sciences.
      "The Seminarian Program was a further effort to share the relational life style and the Faith at Work witness with denominations and local churches....
      "The matter of 'change' itself had changed. When Sam Shoemaker talked about 'getting changed,' he meant originally being converted.... Faith at Work... now saw conversion as initiating a series of changes in all areas of personhood: the conceptual, confessional volitional, physical, emotional and relational....
      "The newer order certainly deplored arrogance and egotism but saw these behaviors and attitudes as consequences of a lack of healthy self-love. Hence the emphasis was less on inducing guilt than on recovering the fact of God's awareness and acceptance of us in Christ."

      See the link between the Lilly Endowment and Saddleback's new on-campus seminary in Social Change and Communitarian Systems, then read Romans 12:2 and the first item in Previous News

Databasing the people. Religious Congregations & Membership: 2000: "From ‘Churches’ to ‘Religious Congregations.’ This study has grown each decade in the number and diversity of religious bodies covered. Because of the increasing breadth of this ecumenical endeavor, a more inclusive name has been chosen for this new edition: Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States....

     "In 1956 the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. made an effort to respond to this need and published what became known as the 'Church Membership Study.' It used 1952 data for 53 denominations, and is now out of print. The Glenmary Research Center, founded in 1966, became a key stakeholder in the development of every subsequent edition.... The Lilly Endowment, Inc. provides major support."

 

Evangelicals and Modernist Robert Schuller: "Consider some excerpts from Schuller's book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation... "The core of original sin, then is LOT--Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves.... I am humanly unable to correct my negative self-image until I encounter a life-changing experience with non- judgmental love bestowed upon me by a Person whom I admire so much that to be unconditionally accepted by him is to be born again." (p. 67).

     "Classical theology defines sin as `rebellion against God.' The answer is not incorrect as much as it is shallow and insulting to the human being. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity even if he or she is a `rebellious sinner'" (p. 65).

     "To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image--from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust" (p. 68)." See Deceived on Purpose: Enter Robert Schuller

September

New study shows just 4% of Americans have biblical worldview: "A biblical worldview, as defined by Barna, consists of: (1) belief that absolute moral truth exists; (2) belief that such truth is defined by the Bible; and (3) firm belief in six specific religious views....

     "...many who claim to follow Jesus don’t actually adhere to biblical doctrine. An ABC News poll in 2002 indicated that 83% of Americans claim to be Christians. Yet if only 4% of Americans hold to a biblical worldview, this indicates a great disparity among those who claim to be Christians and those who actually hold to biblical doctrine. These six religious views include: (a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; (b) God is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe; (c) salvation is a gift of God that cannot be earned; (d) Satan is real; (e) Christians have a responsibility to share their faith with others; and (f) the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings."

      When so few "Christians" actually believe the basic truths revealed in the Bible, how will the new church communities be able to discern the difference between the truths in the actual translations of the Bible and the distortions in politically correct paraphrases such as The Message which Rick Warren uses over 90 times in The Purpose-Driven Life. See Statistics for the Changing Church

August

Why the Church Lacks Discernment, Part 2: "Pragmatism is an American philosophy that judges truth claims by their practical consequences. It was articulated at the beginning of the twentieth century by serious philosophers who did not foresee that it would lead to such crass and distorted applications as are evident in our day. It is my intent to show that pragmatism has essential flaws that make it incompatible with Biblical Christianity....

     "Suppose an individual set out to try the world religions, to see which ones 'worked.' How many could be reasonably learned, applied, and given ample time to prove themselves 'true in the pragmatic sense?" See The Pied Pipers of Purpose

 

Prepared for the Slaughter - The Disarming of the Church: "As history has shown, it is a common tactic for the oppressing force to gain control of a nation by seizing the means by which individuals might defend themselves. Once the citizenry are disarmed, it is a relatively easy matter to exert complete tyrannical control.

      "...the same principal holds true in the spiritual realm. The New Testament is replete with warnings of false teachers and teachings, of lying signs and wonders, and of corrupt men who would seek to draw followers after themselves.

     "God has not left His people defenseless. He has indwelt us with His Spirit of Truth, provided us with the example of Christ, His teachings, the teachings of the apostles, and all the other writings found in the Bible .... Those who would remove the defensive weapon of discernment are binding the hands of the Church." See Spiritual Warfare

 

165 members ousted from Gardendale Baptist: "Members of Gardendale Baptist Church voted Sunday to expel about 165 members from their congregation because they did not support the leadership of the church's pastor.... In a letter to the congregation, Micah Davidson, the church's pastor, called a business meeting after a July 18 baptismal service at which members would vote on the following statement: 'Pastor Micah is the God-called pastor for Gardendale and is leading us in God's direction or not.' ...

      "'If the church votes for me to stay,' he wrote, 'those who vote against me will be removed from membership in the family immediately.'...

      "Gilbert said opposition in the church was impeding the church's progress. He said the members could not vote on every decision Davidson made, but could vote on whether he was called by God to be pastor.' They just couldn't continue with the gossip and slander and misinformation,' he said."

      The audio interviews with some who were forced to leave indicate their concerns were valid, not gossip or misinformation. The "misinformation" seems to come from the new church managers, not from the concerned Christians. No wonder, since contemporary "church leaders" are trained to use tough words to discredit dissenters. See Dealing with Resisters and comment

 

The Gospel: A Method or a Message? How the Purpose Driven Life Obscures the Gospel: "The Bible study my friend attended was really a Purpose Driven Life study group.... He was told that if he was going to attend the study, he would have to leave his Bible at home, because the issues he brought up were disruptive to the group. He chose to quit instead....

       "Rick Warren begins the first day of his journey by saying, 'It’s not about you.' Yet the entire book 'feels' like it is about you.... He dedicates the book to 'you' on the first page after the copyright information and uses the pronoun 'you' continually throughout the book."

July

Religious relativism: "...a church built on relationships is a church ruled by relationships and is no godlier than any other social club or organization; because a church ruled by RELATI-onships is a church ruled by RELATI-vism and will readily sacrifice anything that jeopardizes those relationships, including the often-divisive Word of God....

     "In contrast, churches that are built upon God’s Word, never move, never change, never compromise or surrender absolute truth to accommodate the feelings, fashions, emotions, appetites or agendas of any person or group – no matter how good and 'loving' their intentions may be."

 

The Emerging Church: "I see the same things today that I observed 30 years ago; there is a famine for the Word of God and a lack of love for the truth. I have spoken to many of the young 'Gen X' and 'Millennial' crowd that are moving into the new experiences of the Emerging Church, only to find that even with their claims of having a 'passion' for Jesus there is very little biblical grounding and a large degree of sensuality (walking by feelings and experiences) in their relationship with the Lord.

     "...there is a keen lack of discernment for the dangers that we all face as believers, from the many false teaching which are being introduced with greater frequency to this movement and to the IC, to the New Age concepts of Contemplative Spirituality and Contemplative Prayer that I find being infused, to literal occult experiences being accepted and practiced without testing the spirits, as we are warned to do in John 4:1-3.

     "In fact, many of the warnings that Paul, Peter, John and Jude give are not even considered because many of the believers and many in this new leadership do not have the depth of knowledge and understanding of the Word of God to be effective at guarding the flock." See Harry Potter and the Postmodern Church and skip down to "Postmodern uncertainty and the loss of discernment"

May

40 Days of Purpose - Frequently Asked Questions: "Question: We're sort of a Lone Ranger church. Is it really that important to do this Campaign when everyone else is doing it?

     "Answer: In addition to the benefits of strong support and timely resourcing, imagine the benefits of SYNERGY. There is a certain energy and power that comes from doing the Campaign in concert with a group of others. Perhaps it’s best to quote one of our past Campaign church pastors: 'The reason I feel this is one of the most effective Campaigns I’ve ever been a part of is the synergism that this created to be doing this with churches all across North America and around the world for that matter. My members bumped into other members of churches everywhere reading the book, and we felt a kinship with fellow-Christians all over our community and all over the United States.” Who Can Resist the Pull of the Crowd?

 

In cyberspace, can anyone hear you pray? "Churches are having to use their imagination to attract new members.... Going into this online chapel is a little like playing a computer game - you use your mouse to indicate where you want to walk, you right-click for options such as kneeling, and your typed words appear in speech bubbles on the screen. But while it may initially feel like a game, it is far more important than that to its creators, the Christian website Ship of Fools, and its sponsor, the Methodist Church."

      The virtual church growth movement seems to be spreading fast. See the next link:

Managing change. First web-pastor appointed: "The Church of England has appointed its first web pastor to oversee a new parish that will exist only on the net. Alyson Leslie, a lay pastor, will run i-Church, a community of worshippers from all over the world who will congregate at the website for prayers in chatrooms, webcast services and e-mail socialising...." The Church Walking with the World

March

A tale of two kingdoms: "One of the greatest of all the changes in evangelical Christian life over the last few decades is in the attitude to worldliness. Slackness, even indifference, to worldliness came in first among shallower churches, then more recently among some of the best. Now, worldliness is regarded as an outdated and irrelevant concept which only over-scrupulous and rather narrow-minded people worry about.... Even pastors often say, 'I am progressive,' meaning that they do not mind worldliness. They make the duty of being in the world an excuse for scrapping all inhibitions about what Christians should or should not do. Worldly Christianity is in.... Any sense of danger or wrong seems to have vanished....

     "Believers everywhere need to hear once again the basic and vital teaching of Christ, about two kingdoms so utterly different in character, rule and culture."

     The world loves worldly Christians, but despises those whose hearts are set on eternity. Worldliness

February 2004

Church rethinks three wise 'men': "The Three Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem bearing gifts for the baby Jesus may not have been all that wise -- or even men....The revision committee said: 'While it seems very unlikely that these Persian court officials were female, the possibility that one or more of the Magi were female cannot be excluded completely.' ...Synod officials denied that the Church of England, a pillar of the Establishment in Britain, was being seized by an attack of political correctness and pandering to feminists. The decision was greeted by mocking newspaper headlines like 'The Three Fairly Sagacious Persons' and 'Is it unwise to call the Magi men?'" Yours is the Power or Mine is the Power?

 

Anglicans to cancel Sunday church? "According to a report in the West Australian, church leaders say the move would be a response to a modern culture that is too busy on weekends to attend services. Those pushing for the move claim churches must adapt to suit the schedules of parishioners." Revelation 3:15

 

Christian see - Christian do: (Warning: This article contains an explicit description of last Sunday's "half-time" show -- but also some very important points) "Gradualism is the key to transforming or 'transitioning' the church into worldliness, my friends. You can’t see an hour hand on a clock move like you can a second hand. You have to look away from it for while to notice the change....

     "Yes, the Lord went out into the world and dined with sinners in hopes of reconciliation, as should we also. That’s what Revelation 3:20 is all about. What He DID NOT DO was invite overt rebellion to flaunt itself flippantly in the Upper Room for the sake of fellowship. That was a quiet and secluded place reserved exclusively for those that followed Him."

     Yes, it was a holy place -- separated from an unholy world. Psalm 89:7


For more links on this topic, click on The Changing Church - 1 or 2 or 3 (2002-2003)

Links to Church Growth and Global Networks


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