Personal note: We share this message with reservation. Many faithful Christian pastors and missionaries are caught up in this worldwide transformation, and we don't want to cause them any pain or discouragement. Nor do we want to cause division in churches or distrust toward godly leaders. We see a fine line -- easily blurred -- between the cultural sensitivity needed to reach non-Christians with the gospel and the kind of compromise that actually distorts the gospel.
Since we do not take lightly the possibility of unjust criticism of another Christian, we pray that no one would use this information to attack or slander God's faithful servants who genuinely seek to bring His love and life to those who are blinded by the world's visions and addicted to its thrills.
When Jesus was criticized for eating and drinking with sinner, His responded with a timely reminder: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
The Holy Spirit often leads us to the world's lost and hurting in using non-conventional means. We appreciate such godly outreach. In contrast, our concerns are with recent movements, management systems and networks that are enveloping churches and ministries around the world in a web of controls and new social rules.
Please ask God to give you His understanding of this complex issue, so that our message is not misused. If He shows you errors in our presentation, please send us Biblical criticism and correction.
The Global Church Part 1
Trading truth for unity in a worldwide quest for a compliant 21st century church
Part 2: Church networks and global management
Part 3: The call to global oneness (Jay Gary and Global Missions)
Part 4: The Open Church
Part 5: Christians in the new millennium
See also "Are We Fundamentalists?"
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"The past several decades have been marked by an unprecedented degree of discontinuity with the past. Part of that discontinuity is reflected in the new rule book on how to do church in the new millennium..." Lyle E. Schaller, The Very Large Church: New Rules for Leaders.
Wayne and Jan didn't want to leave First Baptist Church. They loved their friends, the music, the youth program and their pastor -- a wonderful Bible teacher. But the Board of Elders hired a Church Growth consultant who surveyed the congregation and led their "discovery of God's vision for them." Soon the old pastor was asked to leave and a new pastor filled the pulpit. A series of changes followed. The beloved music director, whose Christmas and Easter concerts had drawn overflow crowds night after night, had to go. So did organ music. Other staff members disappeared and a new team moved into the offices.
The members who stayed were encouraged to participate in small groups, speak positively, please the community and become a healthy church. The new guidelines included a ban on controversial social issues. Well aware of the anti-Christian curriculum content in their local schools, Wayne and Jan were saddened by the congregation's growing aversion to any helpful information they might share on this topic. Apparently, their "negative" insights clashed with the church's new vision. But when Jan asked what the new pastor meant by a "healthy church," no one would explain. "What's going on," she wondered.
The millennial Church
The answer to her question is so revolutionary -- so foreign to our understanding of America -- that it is hard to believe. A paradigm shift -- a total transformation in the way we think and understand reality -- is changing God's churches as well as our culture. This revolution is worldwide. It extends from transnational corporations and the United Nations to public schools and local churches. Globalization has brought new rules, new values, new thinking and new standards -- all based on enticing visions of a planetary order which may sound Christian but bars God's uncompromising guidelines. Scriptures that clash with the vague and evolving standards for "healthy churches" and "healthy cities" must be ignored or reinterpreted, while the "negative" voices of former days are being silenced. Only people who are willing to adapt to the changes will fit the new order.
Hard to believe? Among the trusted voices prodding the Church into the 21st century mold is Lyle E. Schaller, top-selling author, a contributing editor for Leadership magazine and a highly respected church consultant. He introduces one of his many books for contemporary change agents, The Very Large Church: New Rules for Leaders, with this statement:
"This book was written for those congregational leaders, both volunteer and paid staff, who recognize that their old rule book is obsolete and who are eager to learn how to participate effectively in the very large church game on a playing field that is defined by the culture, the societal context, clearly defined expectations, a theological belief systems, a passion for evangelism, a high level of competence, creativity, innovation and a new and different set of rules."
The original rules for the Church were given us by God Himself in His Word. He also gave us His Spirit which enables us to follow His guidelines and demonstrate His life to the world. Do you wonder who wrote Mr. Schaller's "new and different set of rules"? Or what kind of "church game" would be "defined by the culture" and "the societal context" rather than by the Bible? Might his "church game" be designed for success with the world rather than success with God?
Mr. Schaller doesn't exactly list the new rules in his book, but he does give us some examples. "Our new rule book states that you will not be criticized because you are less than a perfect Christian," he promises us. Nothing wrong with that. We are all "less than perfect." But the book's context implies a shift from the "negative" of the past to the "positive" thinking of the future church. The church must learn not to criticize any aspects of the planned change from the believer-oriented church to the seeker- or community-oriented church. Would God's guidelines in Matthew 18 for church discipline still fit? Probably not.
He lists two more rules: "...the opportunities available to you in learning and in serving as a volunteer will be challenging, not boring [community service will be a must], and every Sunday morning we offer you a chance to be part of a carefully designed, high-energy, participatory, lively, fast-paced, and highly visual worship experience."
To win the youth, Schaller tells us, the church needs to "shift from the printed and spoken word to visual communication, including drama, music, visual images, motion and humor." This list matches the strategies used by educators to change the beliefs and values of children in public schools. It works just as well for "Christian" leaders who see themselves as change agents. For when drama and visual images replace diligent study of God's written Word, it is easy to alter His message and conform it to the demands of a world that seeks positive affirmations rather than the whole truth.
You won't find Schaller's rules in the Bible. God promises us His strength to persevere through suffering, not high-energy entertainment to avoid boredom. A respected pastor told me about his visit to a model mega-church last year. It was so fast-paced and noisy, he said, that the intense program drove the "participants" along without a moment of stillness to actually worship God in personal prayer.
Several years ago, our former church tested a Sunday school program designed to "edutain" (teach through entertainment) parents as well as children. In a skit "teaching" Genesis 3, the children played the roles of Adam, Eve and God. When Adam threw the apple at Eve and Eve threw it back at Adam, the audience laughed and "God" spoke some ungodly words. But in the midst of this memorable entertainment, what did the class learn about the majestic and holy King of the universe? Tolerance? That God thinks and talks like us? Or does it even matter as long as children are entertained and the community joins the fun?
Countless other visionaries are marching to the same drum. They are calling the Church to leave the old narrow way and join the crowd on the world's consumer-oriented, purpose-driven superhighway. Listen to some of their voices:
"The metachurch announces that we need a change both in our thinking [worldview], and in our church form or structure."  Carl George, Author, Church Consultant, The Open Church
"...we will be introduced to new ways of thinking and acting."  Lutheran leader Richard Webb, promoting a forum for young church leaders through Young Leader Networks
“I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity across the earth in one generation.”  Mike Bickle, Kansas City Fellowship pastor, quoting the supposed voice of God
"...the time is ripe for a 'sea change' in the way we do missions. A 'sea change' is an entire shift in our thinking and our methodology towards missions. Without this change, we risk the temptation to retreat into our cultural Christian ghetto surrounded by our spiritual walls of fear of compromise...."  [M. McLoughlin, YWAM, Back to the Future of Missions]
They echo the world's message, don't they? Listen to its vision:
"A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it. This new civilization brings with it new family styles, changed ways of working, loving, and living, a new economy, new political conflicts, and beyond all this an altered consciousness as well." Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating a New Civilization. 
"The challenge to humanity is to adopt new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of organizing itself in society, in short, new ways of living." Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO
But God's Word warns us to resist the popular call to conformity:
"As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Col. 2:6-9
A Church in tune with the world
Paul Proctor didn’t suspect a problem - at first. He was surprised but agreeable when his pastor wanted to change the name of the First Baptist Church to "The People's Church." And when Pastor White began to take the church in "a new direction", Mr. Proctor -- like most members -- assumed that meant toward a non-denominational identity.
But the nature of the shift became more evident with the passing months. In his article, The People's Church, Proctor summarizes some key points in this well-managed "church growth" transformation which has bewildered Christians across America.
"A re-occurring theme of 'tolerance, diversity and unity' seemed to permeate almost every sermon. It became increasingly clear to me that the pastor's 'new direction' was worldly and that he was now being guided by someone or something other than God. Friction grew between the two of us over the course of time as his sermons turned away from the gospel that leads to repentance and faith in Christ to the social psychology of get-alongism.
"Sure, the Bible calls us to live in peace with one another, to keep and maintain healthy relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but NOT at the expense of God. The pastor I once held in such high regard began reciting 'group-think' platitudes like: 'YOU CAN'T BE RIGHT WITH GOD AND AT ODDS WITH EVERYONE ELSE', meaning it was now time for us all to compromise our conscience and convictions for the collective.
"This is the 'Consensus Process' at work, a 200 year-old socialist brainwashing technique known by social psychologists the world over as the 'Hegelian Dialectic', developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the late 1700's that involves the practice of compromise to achieve social harmony between opposing groups and/or belief systems." 
This seductive quest for unity and "community" found a ready following. Church leaders and members shared a common concern for alienated families and hard-to-reach youth. Many began to soften the gospel, marketing God's promises while hiding His call to repentance. That "old-time religion" with its unchanging truths and outmoded values seemed all too staid, boring and restrictive for the post-modern culture. So, to bridge the widening gap between church and world, churches began to redefine both themselves and the gospel. A rising network of management theorists, visionary leaders and church consultants stood ready to guide the process. [See chart]
Today, vast leadership networks with their compromising partnerships are winning converts in churches everywhere. They beckon Christians to befriend their communities and share the gospel -- but soften or avoid Biblical words, truths and standards that offend the world. These include words such as sin, guilt and wicked as well as "divisive" social issues. Such topics could offend potential church members -- called "consumers" in the new language of "Total Quality Management."
In other words, freedom to express certain theological or moral positions is already being quenched. Voicing genuine concern about gender issues or the unbiblical influence of public schools could disturb another person's comfort zone. In fact, any Biblical value or attitude that clashes with global standards for "tolerance, diversity and unity" has already become taboo in many churches across the country.
"We seem to have come to a point in the Church that anyone who speaks anything about anyone that is deemed to be 'unkind' is chastised for their 'judgmentalism' or lack of Christ-like love," writes Rev. R. J. Rooney. "It is really quite frightening. It is nothing more than the ancient belief that mankind can create our own Utopia."
Today's leadership networks offer tools for measuring progress toward the new political correctness. The church survey below was prepared by the Search Institute and published in Prescription for a Healthy Church. It resembles the sliding scale introduced by educator Sidney Simon decades ago as a tool for testing, exposing, and changing a student's attitudes. Promoted as "values clarification," it was one of many behavior modification strategies used to change, not clarify values. Now the same tactic is used in managed churches to imprints a new standard for communication on the minds of members. [See Sex Ed and Global Values and "find" Values Education]
"An Attitude Check for Your Church"
1. Focus on the negative,
the problems, the fears
Focus on the positives,
the hopes, the possibilities
9. Isolation and competition
Cooperation and support
10. Commitment to "our kids"
Commitment to "all kids"
The list on the left side "represent common attitudes that shape children, youth and family ministries." These must be changed. The right side "represent some of the key attitudes that contribute to building assets." That's where the church is heading, helped by the psycho-social strategies developed by behavioral psychologists. Where does your church fit on this scale?
The first point not only measures church attitudes, its subtle suggestion helps create a social atmosphere that frowns on any genuine criticism of popular values or public policies. Even when spoken in love, Biblical warnings could be considered intolerant or hateful. Paul Proctor's earlier description of The People's Church illustrates the process.
The ninth and tenth points shows the shift from individual thinking and responsibility to group thinking and community responsibility. As Hillary Clinton put it, "it takes a village...." In this collective society, personal freedom and individual choice must yield to a planned community consensus.
If this was an obscure movement led by New Age teachers, it could be readily dismissed. But its organizers and promoters are respected Christian pastors, leaders and authors, men and women whom few dare question. Yet they support a worldwide transformation that -- like yeast in a lump of dough -- permeates and connects every branch of the global village. Its quest for growth and unity fuels a growing consensus which is pressuring Christian families churches everywhere to embrace the world's disdain for "unhealthy" Biblical thinking and "intolerant" traditional values.
[See Reinventing the World]
"So the time is ripe for a 'sea change' in the way we do missions," writes Michael McLoughlin (Youth With A Mission, Marketplace Ministries). "A 'sea change' is an entire shift in our thinking and our methodology towards missions. Without this change, we risk the temptation to retreat into our cultural Christian ghetto surrounded by our spiritual walls of the fear of compromise, suspicion of technology and reluctance to risk." [Back to the Future of Missions]
But how can "compromise" be part of the Christian walk, when God's Word tells us to "not be conformed to this world"? (Rom 12:2) Church leaders and managers who use phrases such as "entire shift in our thinking" and "reluctance to take risk" are echoing the language used UN educators to promote their human development programs. This language describes today's sophisticated management strategies designed to mold a compliant global workforce whose worth will be measured by their solidarity based on politically correct values and by their service to "the community." [See Serving a Greater Whole]
The paradox in this transformation is obvious: If you count knowing the Truth more important than experiencing unity, you would allow open discussion and put an end to the manipulative "facilitated dialogue" toward a common consensus. But if your goal is unity or solidarity, you have to lower the bar, enforce the new social rules and set aside important truths. A managed illusion of unity is incompatible with personal freedom to follow God. And when this quest for unity becomes more important than the quest for truth and delight in God's Word, new hostilities will surface. We see it already in the new guidelines for silencing contrary voices and quenching the influence of those who -- for conscience sake -- refuse to conform.
Next: Part 2- Church Management and Global Missions
1. Lyle E. Schaller, The Very Large Church: New Rules for Leaders (Nashville: Abignon Press, 2000), page 15.
2. Ibid., page 17.
3. Carl George, Author, Church Consultant, The Open Church, <http://www.openchurch.com>, click on "endorsements."
4. Lutheran leader Richard Webb, promoting a forum for young church leaders through Young Leader Networks
5. Mike Bickle, Kansas City Fellowship pastor, quoting the supposed voice of God
6. M. McLoughlin, YWAM, Back to the Future of Missions
7. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating a New Civilization (Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1994), page 19. See Toffler Associates at <http://www.toffler.com/aboutus/default.shtml>.
8. Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO, 1995, p.11.
9. Paul Proctor, The People's Church.
10. Rev. R. J. Rooney, Conviction.