What’s Wrong with the 21st Century Church? 

Part 1:  Synopsis [below]   Part 2: Article 1  Part 3: Article 2


by Dr. Robert Klenck


August 8,




This is a synopsis of much of what the seeker-sensitive or church growth movement (CGM) is all about, and it is enough information to convince any with ears to hear that this movement is something that true Christians should avoid at all costs.

This “movement” is promoted by the Fuller Theological Seminary, "Pastor" Rick Warren of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Mission Viejo, "Pastor" Bill Hybels of Willowcreek Church in So. Barrington Illinois,  the Leadership Network http://www.leadnet.org, John Maxwell of Injoy Ministries”, and many others. Both Rick Warren and John Maxwell have doctorate degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Rick Warren recommends in (the inside cover of) Bob Buford's book Half Time: "I want every man in my congregation to read this inspiring story!" The fifth chapter of this book outlines how Mr. Buford (the founder of the Leadership Network) with the aid of an atheist, Mike Kami, plotted out the second half of Buford’s life to “better serve God”. Also, he dedicated his book to his wife and to "Peter Drucker, the man who formed my mind (emphasis added)." Dr. Drucker claims to be an Episcopalian, but his ideas and words are those of an atheistic humanist. In an interview in Forbes magazine of October 5, 1998, http://www.forbes.com/forbes/98/1005/6207152a.htm, Drucker states:

"For a social discipline, such as management, the assumptions are actually a good deal more important than are the paradigms for a natural science. The paradigm—that is, the prevailing general theory—has no impact on the natural universe. Whether the paradigm states that the sun rotates around the earth, or that, on the contrary, the earth rotates around the sun, has no effect on sun and earth.

"But a social discipline, such as management, deals with the behavior of people and human institutions. The social universe has no "natural laws" as the physical sciences do. It is thus subject to continuous change. This means that assumptions that were valid yesterday can become invalid and, indeed, totally misleading in no time at all."

In other words, Dr. Drucker does not believe that there are any set moral or social absolutes that are existent for mankind for all time (like the Ten Commandments, etc.). 

His Claremont University Management school website http://clare-ocs.cgu.edu/drucker/drucker/1_1drucker.html  and numerous newspaper articles give further proof that he is a humanist, stating that management is a human enterprise, and that his management techniques are humanistic, and that “He changes as the world changes.” (Dignitaries to fete Drucker at age 90 Daily Bulletin 11/4/99).  I recommend that you look up the humanist manifesto on the internet at http://www.humanist.net - it is the complete antithesis of Christian beliefs.

This church growth movement is rooted in an unholy alliance of "Christians" and atheists. The management structures being utilized to manage people in the church are indeed the doctrines of devils (like Dr. Peter Drucker):

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." 1 Tim 4:1-2 (KJV)

 Regarding this unholy alliance: 

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Cor 6:14-15 (KJV)

The roots of this movement are in atheism:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matt 7:15-21 (KJV)

People try to justify this movement with pragmatic arguments – that the end justifies the means.  They believe that it is all right to use the world’s marketing and organizational strategies to market and organize the church, as long as people are coming to Christ.  The Bible commands against such thinking: 

"…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4 (KJV)

The real question one must ask is this:  When people are saved, are they saved by the Christ of the Bible?

The Leadership Network, in describing “the emerging paradigm of the 21st century church”, states: 

“This new paradigm is not centered in theology, but rather it is focused on structure, organization, and the transition from an institutionally based church to a mission-driven church.”

Rick Warren talks about changing the emphasis from church building programs to a people-building process. What he is talking about is the paradigm shift from the traditional way of thinking, to transitional, and eventually, a transformational way of thinking, this is accomplished through the use of the Hegelian dialectic process – a type of peer pressure. He describes this paradigm shift as the shift to a “21st Century church”, and he describes pastors as agents of change - "change agents." What this "people-building process" really is a change in the way that people process factual information.

Briefly, the Hegelian dialectic process works like this: 

When the Word of God is dialogued between believers and unbelievers, and consensus is reached – agreement that all are comfortable with – then the message of the Word of God has been watered down, and the participants have been conditioned to accept (and even celebrate) their compromise.  This becomes the starting point for the next meeting.  The fear of alienation from the group is the pressure that prevents an individual from standing firm for the truth of the Word of God.  (The fear of man overrules the fear of God).

An example: A traditional thinker, when proven wrong with factual information (ie-Biblical moral absolutes), yields to the facts, and admits that he/she is wrong, and then aligns him/herself to those facts. Because Biblical moral absolutes do not change, such traditional thinkers, who align themselves to those unchanging absolutes are labeled as "resistant to change".

On the other hand, transformational thinkers, when proven wrong with factual information, have been conditioned to process that information differently - they automatically question it and dialogue it within themselves; their (deceitful) hearts rebel against it, and then they begin to justify (to themselves and others) why it is that they no longer have to attend to the facts. (They process the facts away, and their conscience becomes seared.)  This is the natural result of the dialectic process – the searing of the conscience [1 Tim 4: 1-2].  These people are then able to justify to themselves why they are no longer bound to Biblical moral absolutes. You see, people are saying that the Biblical message just doesn't apply to today's (humanistic) culture – that it must be interpreted in light of the culture of the day. [To some degree this is true – (i.e.-slavery was common then, etc.).]  

However, the church growth movement takes it much further, and through the process of continual incremental change (using the Hegelian dialectic over and over with the last synthesis becoming the new thesis – the “new fact” base, or “new reality”), the Word of God is gradually/incrementally changed from its original intent, and eventually it is interpreted to mean something contrary to its original intent.  This is the process that all sinners use in attempting to justify their rebellion to themselves and others.  

The rebellion is subtle at first – simply moving away from the traditional way of “doing” church; later, the ordaining of female “pastors”; and eventually it gets to the point of ordaining lesbian "pastors".  Barriers to change must be broken down, and eventually for the sake of peace and unity, interdenominational barriers, and interreligious barriers will be broken down, paving the way for a worldwide ecumenical movement -- a one-world church. 

The same process is being utilized to break down national borders, eliminating sovereign nations for the sake of globalization, with the same goal of achieving “world peace” and unity under a one-world government.  The Bible warns us about who it is that is behind the global religious and political movement.

The result is two camps – those resistant to change, and the “innovators” – those on the cutting edge of change. ...

A recent example of this paradigm shift in processing factual information was when the “Rev.” Richard Mouw, the President of the Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA (a strong promoter of the church growth movement), was quoted in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on January 22, 2000:

“Mouw said he supports rights and benefits for committed same-sex domestic partners, but believes the sacrament of marriage should be confined to heterosexual couples in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

When leaders of this movement are making statements like this, then we can be sure that the movement is not from God, and is headed in the opposite direction of God’s will.  Mr. Mouw already is thinking in the transformational mode – he is able to justify (to himself) a teaching that is contrary to the Word of God.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Tim 4:3-4 (KJV)

The Bible has now been adapted to today's culture. This is also known as critical thinking, or higher-order thinking skills. People who yield to the Word of God are considered to be “lower order thinkers” who are not adaptable to change, because they believe (as God states) that moral absolutes do not change:

"For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Mal 3:6  (KJV)

Back to Mr. Buford: His book Half Time is about his life. The first half is the traditional way of thinking.  Half Time (sort of his mid-life crisis) is the transitional zone to the second half, which is his shift towards becoming a transformational thinker. He describes it on page 88:

"That (shift from success - "first half", to significance - "second half") may or may not require a change of jobs, but it always requires a change of attitude. Dennis O'Conner and Donald M. Wolfe, in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, call this change in attitude a "personal paradigm shift (i.e., major changes in one's system of perceptions, beliefs, values, and feelings)." I sometimes call it a reordering of our personal myth."

Mr. Buford believes that we need to have major changes in our beliefs and values.  Is this the type of foundational thinking that we want to “grow our church” with? I think not. Once again, the Hegelian dialectic process, which leads one into the mode of transformational thinking, by reordering the way that one processes factual information, results in a searing of the conscience. (1 Tim 4:2, and James 4:4 once again).

If this is not enough information to convince church leaders or members that the true Christian should have nothing to do with this new wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14), then they are already thinking in the transformational mode, their consciences have been seared, and nothing short of God’s own intervention will convince them.

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain [OR CHURCH GROWTH] is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." 1 Tim 6:3 (KJV) (emphasis added)

Just a few other pearls: 

1)          Rick Warren’s book is entitled: The Purpose-Driven Church:  Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (not God’s message).  “You and your” is emphasized much more than “God or God’s” in his book.

2)         In both Rick Warren’s and Bob Buford’s books referred to here, when they refer to Jesus using a pronoun in mid-sentence (He or Him), they never capitalize the pronoun. 

3)         The non-Christian motivational speaker Anthony (Tony) Robbins is now giving lectures entitled “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

4)         In Genesis 6:5:  ["And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."(KJV)] – imagination can also be translated “purpose”.

5)         Gestalt –a psychological term that is essentially synonymous with the Hegelian dialectic process – also is defined as shape (to mold or form).  Rick Warren advocates “finding your SHAPE for ministry”

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