PLAYING CHURCH BY THE NUMBERS
Resources to aid your Understanding
Children in Sunday School still play the little “hand motion” rhyme that chimes, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and look at the people”. Interestingly enough, this most basic way of playing church games is not at all unlike the way many adults play “big church”. An adult version of this children’s rhyme could realistically ring, “Here’s the church—see a magnificent, warm, friendly, religious edifice. Open the doors, listen to the great rock music with religious prose; thrill to the stellar, entertaining drama; experience God in our personal enrichment encounter groups; hear a self-esteem building message that details how becoming a Christian will bring health, wealth, perfect relationships, and complete psychological fulfillment; and take particular note of how the house is packed with people every Sunday.” This game is becoming more common with each passing week, and pastors are flocking by the thousands to buy the how-to books and attend conferences that instruct them in the methodology of the “new paradigm” plan. The truth is that the game plan for the new paradigm church works. It may not work as well in every instance, but it does work. Compounded upon course of events of events outlined in the preceding chapters of this manuscript, the religious pragmatism sweeping North America is influencing those who call themselves Evangelicals and even Fundamentalists to accept and promote men, methods, and programs that will lead all of mankind into the One World Religion of Antichrist. As one may suspect, these methods and programs are based on the desires and whims of the popular culture rather than the Word of God. In essence, to ostensibly win the culture war and lead multitudes to Christ, the Evangelical Church has identified with, has become edited by, and has surrendered to the popular culture. The culmination of these forces has negated the plan for the local church as prescribed in Scripture and created in its place Outcome–based Religion.
The first seven chapters of this manuscript described factors throughout history that contributed to the rise of Outcome-based Religion. In summary, the entire history of the Church has been characterized by multiple assaults by the forces of Lucifer in his attempt to defeat God. These assaults have come as ambushes along the banks of the River of History as its waters flowed through Paganism, Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation, and Modernism before arriving at the present point of chronological geography. Furthermore, external factors from the course of secular history and the political landscape not only exerted influence, but molded attitudes and values in preparation for the coming One World Religion of Antichrist. This combination of contributing factors (especially since World War II) is now culminating in Outcome-based Religion. The apostasy of Outcome-based Religion is not as easily detected as that of Modernism and other blatantly heretical teachings. The Modernist openly denies (among other things) the Virgin Birth, the Vicarious Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the Inerrancy of Scripture. Those who ascribe to Outcome-based Religion may oppose the heresy of Modernism, but will be more than willing to compromise with the Modernist or even ignore the clear teachings of the Word of God to attain their ultimate purpose—exponential church growth.
BIBLICAL MODEL FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH
One may legitimately ask the question, “What is the biblical plan for the local church?” While the answer to that question can be found in only one place—the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God-- the search for the answer is actually not that difficult. The books of I Timothy and II Timothy were written to a young pastor, and Timothy was given guidelines relating to the most critical aspects of pastoring a New Testament Church. The applicable principles in these books are easily noted:
1. The pastor is to study the Word of God. (II Tim.2:15)
2. The pastor is to nourish his membership in the word of faith and good doctrine. (I Tim. 4:6)
3. The pastor is to rightly divide the word of truth. (II Tim. 2:15)
4. The pastor is to preach the word. (II Tim.4:2)
5. The pastor is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort the members of his church with doctrine. (II Tim. 4:2)
6. The pastor is to commit the deposit of truth to faithful men in order to insure that this truth perpetuates itself to subsequent generations. (II Tim. 2:2)
7. The pastor is to utilize the inspired Word of God for:
d. Instruction in righteousness (II Tim.3:16)
The second phase of the search for the answer should be conducted by searching the book of I Corinthians. This epistle was written to deal with specific problems that arose in the church at Corinth. These problems in the church at Corinth are better identified when the members of the church understand the following principles:
1. Preaching the Word of God is foolishness to
those who are lost. (I Cor.1:18)
2. It pleased God to save them that believe by the foolishness of preaching. (I Cor.1:21)
3. God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (I Cor.1:27)
4. The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit. (I Cor.2:14)
5. The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. (I Cor.3:19)
6. God is not the author of confusion. (I Cor.14:33)
The books of II Corinthians and II Thessalonians add the concept of Scriptural
1. The believer is not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. (II Cor.6:14)
2. The believer is to withdraw himself from every brother (fellow believer) who “walks disorderly”. (II Thes.2:6)
Based on these principles, the teaching of the Word of God is very clear:
When believers assemble on the Lord’s Day, the emphasis of the meeting should be on preaching the Word of God. This preaching, in turn, should emphasize doctrine. Other passages relate the other aspects of the meeting such as singing, prayer, and fellowship, but the overwhelming emphasis of the New Testament is on preaching. It is by expository preaching that the Word of God is expounded, explained, and enlarged. Thus, the preaching of the Word of God is to be the focal point of the worship service, and such preaching should “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” as outlined to Timothy. In this manner believers are corrected, edified, and equipped to face the trials and temptations encountered outside the walls of the church.
In the book of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul also speaks of unbelievers who may be present in the church meetings. (I Cor.14:23) Therefore, the meeting of believers is not closed to those that are lost, and thus evangelism must be a vital component of the church service. However, the primary focus of the gathered church is geared to the saved—not to the lost. It also goes without saying that (Scripturally speaking) membership in the local church is reserved for those who are born again. Any “church” that opens its membership roles to any individual that denies saving faith in Jesus Christ is not a New Testament Church. The true church also must (according to II Corinthians and II Thessalonians) separate itself from any other religious organization that denies the fundamental doctrines of the faith, or any Christians or “Christian organizations” that “walk disorderly”.
A NEW WAY OF PLAYING CHURCH
Outcome-based Religion completely ignores the afore-mentioned principles of the Word of God and employs the insertion of mundane, humanistic philosophies into the Church. The synthesis of these philosophies with Biblical Christianity produces the “new way of doing church”—or better yet, a new way of “playing church”. For if a church subordinates or synthesizes the teaching of the Scriptures for the methods of mankind, this church ceases to be a true church (see Chapter 1). The process of building such an organization also ceases to be a true ministry, and in its stead simply becomes a religious game. This game is not to be taken lightly, for this game carries the highest stakes of any game in the world today. Hanging in the balance and riding on the results of this game are not only the lost souls of this present generation, the spiritual growth of those members of new paradigm churches, but the entire legacy of true Christianity. Outcome-based Religion will not perpetuate itself-- when doctrine is cast aside as an unnecessary ingredient or an obstacle to church growth, no firm foundation is established—and the house is built on violently shifting sands. The game may indeed continue into future generations, but all vestiges of truth will subsequently become lost with the passing of time.
Thus chimes the eleventh hour, and the future of true biblical Christianity is dangling precariously by a mere thread. More than at any time since the First Century, that which today’s true born-again individuals do will profoundly make a difference for the future of Christianity. Furthermore, if nothing is done, and if the true believers continue to blindly traverse this precipitous path, will those of the subsequent generation who call themselves Christian be prepared for a world moving closer to the coming of Antichrist? Will those church members (or game players) of the next generation truly be saved, or will they be totally deceived as a result of the lack of theology, doctrine, and expository preaching? Even more, what must the current generation do to bring the ship back on course? Do today’s Bible-believing Christians understand the game, the players, the new definitions, or the rules of the game? Preparation for war against this movement must be made, and the battles must be fought. The time has come for Bible-believing Christians to take their heads from the sand and prepare to stop the juggernaut of Outcome-based Religion.
THE BATTLE AGAINST OUTCOME-BASED RELIGION
The stereotypical model of the American male is the guy who sits in front of his TV set every Sunday afternoon from August to January to cheer his favorite NFL team. The “real man” of today eats, drinks, and breathes football, and any male of the species who does not aspire to this weekly spectacle is deemed a “wimp” or is known by any number of various and sundry derogatory titles. On the other hand, the stereotypical wife of this “real man” is totally ignorant of and oblivious to the NFL. She does not understand the game, has no desire to understand the game, and detests with a passion the kickoff of a new season. However, on occasion, a wife will decide that she can better relate to her husband and spend more “quality time” with him if she learns to love the game of football. This task will not be easy, as she is at a distinct disadvantage. For she will never learn the game by asking her husband—in the mind of the “real man”, there is no place for girls in football. Thus, in order to accomplish this gargantuan feat, she must approach this unknown and uncharted territory in stages. She must: 1) Learn the definitions before she can understand the rules, she must then 2) Learn the rules, and finally, in order to really spend the quality time—i.e. discuss the crucial match up of for instance, a Michael Vick vs. a Brett Farve—she must 3) Learn something about the heroes of the game.
The same is true of those Bible-believing Christians who are preparing for the battle in facing Outcome-based Religion. Many members of a new paradigm church feel something has gone vastly aerie, but they cannot quite put their finger on the problem. Even though they may even experience a vague sense of discomfort with the proceedings of the church, they are slowly pulled into the web of deception. Even if some resist to the point of fighting the transformation of the church, they are openly ostracized for “not supporting the pastor” or standing in opposition to the “working of God” in the ministry. Those who object too loudly are isolated to the point that they are totally marginalized, and have no influence to derail the juggernaut. Therefore, all believers must be educated to the methodology of Outcome-based Religion, for no church is exempt from this new and deceptive form of apostasy. One must know the definitions of the terms, know the rules of the game, and know the leaders in the movement. Without this knowledge, the combatant will be doomed to failure and the battle lost. Thus, each of these areas will be subsequently detailed to give the believer the necessary artillery with which to go into the battle.
DEFINING THE TERMS
The definitions utilized by the proponents of Outcome-based Religion be must be carefully evaluated. As discussed in a previous chapter, definitions of certain words (such as tolerance) have been changed by the modern culture. Thus, words or terms with one definition in a previous generation may be completely changed by a subsequent culture. While for the most part, this process is completely innocent, the redefining of terms may also be used as a deceptive ploy in manipulating those who are functioning under the misapprehension of the previous or out-dated definition. Therefore, it is critical that proper definitions be utilized when interpreting the rules of the church game. The following definitions and explanations must be understood:
PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH—The Purpose-Driven Church is a term
coined by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church south of Los Angeles.
The idea is that a church should set its sights on its ultimate purpose and
structure its methodology to achieve that purpose. The term “purpose-driven”
is synonymous with “outcome-based”. In his book, The Purpose-Driven Church,
Warren lists the process of becoming “purpose-driven”. For the purposes of
this report, the word “outcome” has been substituted for “purpose”. The meaning
is the same. His plan is as follows:
• Define the Outcome
• Demand the Outcome
• Base activities to achieve the Outcome
• Initiate the program to achieve the outcome. (1)
The outcome in this case is exponential church growth.
NEW PARADIGM CHURCH—Again, Pastor Rick Warren, in his groundbreaking book, The Purpose Driven Church, states that his book is written to offer a “new paradigm”. (2) The basic definition of new paradigm relates a “new way of thinking”. In this case, a new way of thinking about how to “do church”. Reason dictates that if this is a new way of thinking in the ministry, the old way of thinking must be seriously flawed. This must then lead one to evaluate the “old way” as critiqued by Pastor Warren in his book. The “old way of thinking”, according to Warren, is characterized for the most part by those who continue to attempt to communicate the Gospel to our modern culture in an “outdated style”. (3) Warren’s philosophy exhibits the pre-immanence of style over substance, which is contrary to the heart of biblical teaching. The Bible declares that a man is to “Study to show himself approved...rightly dividing the Word of truth...” (4) The Bible is also clear that God speaks to His children through His revealed Word. The day of dreams and visions (in spite of the erroneous teachings of those involved in the Charismatic Movement) are past (I Corinthians 13). However, when one advocates style over substance in the case of a church, that individual is, in essence, stating that the process used in growing the Church is more important than the doctrinal teaching of the Church. Warren dismisses any problem with this dangerous methodology by declaring, “...Your style of worship says more about your cultural background than it does about your theology.” (5) If this were the case, and if culture dictated a worship style utilizing acid rock music, drugs, and orgies---would this not imply a flawed theology? This illustration may well be absolutely ludicrous, but it clearly exhibits the extremes that can be derived from the so-called “new paradigm” approach to ministry.
Secondly, the New Paradigm Church is intentionally designed for rapid growth, for church growth is the desired outcome of Outcome-based Religion. In order to achieve this outcome, the design of this type church is based on business principles and marketing demographics. The problem that arises from this methodology is seen in the biblical revelation, “the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish” (I Corinthians 1:18). The Bible also teaches that Jesus himself is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”.(I Peter 2:8) Based on this seeming contradiction, the question then must be posed: How do you market a product that is offensive and foolish? The answer is simple. You must change the product’s “curb appeal” in order to divert the perception from one of offensiveness and foolishness into that which will appeal to the target market. These necessary changes inevitably result in a departure from the Word of God and a creeping apostasy that will ultimately erase the last trace of truth in a very short period of time.
A final and very disturbing aspect of the “new paradigm” label is the fact that the term “paradigm” was popularized in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Marilyn Ferguson in her book, The Aquarian Conspiracy. This book was another groundbreaking work that characterized the inner working of the New Age Movement with the term “Paradigm Shift”. Ms. Ferguson contended that new spirituality garnered by New Age philosophies would eventually lead to a “critical mass” in human consciousness to bring about a major Paradigm Shift to initiate a new level in evolution from homo sapiens to homo noeticus, the god-man. To equate Rick Warren with Marilyn Ferguson may seem to be unfair, but a few simple questions should be asked: Why would a Baptist preacher incorporate New Age terminology to describe his new methodology of church growth? Should any Bible-believing Christian utilize any type of terminology that would equate him (fairly or unfairly) with those involved in occult practices? Should not common sense dictate that such comparisons would be drawn with the utilization of this terminology? Would some involved in occult practices not possibly see this terminology as a signal that things are not as they actually appear in the Church Growth Movement? Though all of these questions may be answered in a positive manner, just the use of this terminology is at the very least—disconcerting.
THE UNCHURCHED—Those individuals who are not active members
in any church are “the unchurched”. These are the individuals that the New
Paradigm Church seeks to reach for true church growth. Pastor Rick Warren
is positioning Saddleback Community Church as “a church for the unchurched”
(6) If one were to ask again: What is a true church? The answer would be the
same—A true church is body of born-again believers gathered for worship, fellowship,
and to be equipped for service. Once a church accepts a single member that
denies personal salvation in Jesus Christ, this organization ceases to be
a true church. How then can a church become a “church for the unchurched”?
Is this very phrase not an oxymoron? When this transpires, the church is no
more than a club, and the ministry no more than a game.
EXPOSITORY PREACHING—Expository preaching is the verse-by-verse preaching of the Word of God. This has not only been the preaching method of the most notable Bible preachers since the Protestant Reformation, but also the method given by the example of Isaiah in the Old Testament: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall be made to understand doctrine?...For precept must be upon precept...line upon line...” (5—Is.28:9-10)
PRAGMATISM—Christian Pragmatism is the philosophy that declares, “If something works, it is working as a direct result of the blessings of God”. While it is true that this is the case in many instances, a broad, general statement of this sort is simply not true. If one were to ascertain that this is the case, the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) would be the 2 most blessed organizations on the face of the earth.
The acid test for any religious organization or methodology is very simple: Does this organization or methodology conform to the principles of the Word of God? If these principles are violated, the success, growth, or any other positive measurements from a human perspective are resulting from another source than the “hand of God” on these so-called ministries.
WORSHIP—This is a term that has been redefined by the modern culture. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “worship” is shachah. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as “worship” is proskuneo. In both cases, the definition of these words is “to prostrate oneself in humble homage”.(7) This simply conveys to the believer that true worship of a Holy God involves total submission and humility. In contrast, it seems today that the Charismatic influence on what is perceived as worship is looking up and raising hands to God while swaying to “Christian” rock music. Dan Lucarni, in his book, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement, relates the following testimony from his personal experience:
The bottom line comes to this: Worshipping God is not about the worshipper, but is about God. Worshipping God is not intended to make the worshipper feel better about himself, for true worship of a Holy God will cause the worshipper to see himself as he really is before the magnificent, incomprehensible, holiness of God. True worship is not accompanied rock music that appeals to the flesh. True worship involves submission to the truth of the Word of God. “The true heart of worship is the heart that bows before God and submits to his Word, no more, and no less.” (9)
The worship of the new paradigm is completely opposite of that which has
just been described. It involves fleshly music, the charismatic influence
of looking up to God, and making the worshipper feel good about himself. Those
who tout Outcome-based Religion feel that lost individuals do not have a problem
with God-- they have a problem with the local church. They want to leave the
church service “feeling better about themselves instead of being called to
self-examination, sincere repentance, and faith toward a holy God”. (10).
Therefore, the service must be one that does exactly as described by Dan Lucarni—they
want to participate in worship with God and elevate themselves
in fleshly pseudo-worship rather than be humbled in the presence of God’s
SEEKER SENSITIVE— According to “church growth experts”, the population of the United States is becoming more and more spiritual. This new spirituality is not the spirituality consistent with the teachings of the Word of God, but is more of an inner quest for happiness, true fulfillment and purpose in their lives. These same experts also reveal that the average unchurched, lost man is friendly toward God, but is turned off by the church. (11) This individual then is seeking a way to God, but wants to make an “end run” around the traditional church to get there. He feels the Church is irrelevant and is a failure in meeting the needs of its members. He feels that the Church cannot relate to him where he lives, and therefore he cannot feel comfortable in a church service. In spite of all of the inhibitions created by the church, he is still seeking for God, and the resulting inner peace that finding God will bring into his life.
The natural conclusions drawn from this dilemma is a condemnation of the Church by those who desire a new paradigm. They contend that the fault does not lie with the individual seeking God and certainly not with God Himself. Therefore, according to the new paradigm crowd, the old way of “doing church” has failed modern man. Modern man is seeking for fulfillment and happiness, but those stuck in the rut of the old way of thinking have, in effect, condemned the current culture through a complete lack of identity and empathy with their world. Thus, there must indeed be a new paradigm--a new way of thinking, and a new way of doing church that is sensitive to the needs of those seeking God. The Church must become “seeker sensitive” or this generation will be lost.
In many ways, the Church has truly failed. The Church has failed to fulfill the Great Commission. The Church has failed to live a separated life to the point that the lost cannot see Jesus Christ exemplified in its daily actions. The Church has failed to set a high standard of Godliness. The Church has become so engrossed in and enamored with the world that it is very difficult to discern most Christians from their lost neighbors. The members of the Church are so busy with their jobs, families, and recreational schedules that they no longer have time to do the work of the Lord. Yes, the Church needs to change, but that change is far from becoming “seeker sensitive”. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ need to obey Scripture. In particular, the members of the Church need to obey the command to “...Be ye holy as I am holy”. This is the most repeated command in the entire Word of God, and yet most Christians completely ignore it. Personal holiness is exemplified by a righteous, separated life. If this is the case, Christians are not to become like the world to gain the world. The “seeker sensitive” approach to ministry demands that the seeker be made comfortable when he comes to church. How does the church insure the seeker is comfortable?
1. The church should not have pews or appear too formal.
2. The seekers are encouraged to “come as they are”. No specific dress code is required, but casual dress is encouraged.
3. The dress of the ministry team and pastor should also be casual.
4. The setting should include the latest in video and audio technology.
5. Dramatic productions with spiritual themes should be used to subtly convey a religious or moral message.
6. Preaching of sin, self-denial, and self-examination will really make the seeker uncomfortable. Therefore, sermons should be geared more to life applications, stress reduction, meeting felt needs, daily relationships, parenting, self-esteem, and other subjects based more on modern psychology than on what “thus saith the Lord”.
7. The music played in the service should mimic the style of music the seeker hears daily on his favorite radio station.
8. The King James Bible should not be used, but various modern translations will make the seeker more at ease.
9. The seeker should sense that the church will meet his needs and offer the keys to the fulfillment and happiness for which he yearns.
10. The seeker needs to see that the message of the church is relevant to his daily life.
11. The seeker needs to see that Christianity works and will bring immediate results.
The truth of the matter is that the answers sought by the seeker are not the answers provided in the Word of God. God never promises the believer (much less the lost man) that he will live in perpetual happiness. Yes, the believer is given the fruits of joy, but true joy and human happiness are not synonymous terms. From a human perspective, the happiness and fulfillment the seeker so fervently desires may have no connection to God or even to reality. Therefore, the only method by which the church can meet the perceived needs of the seeker is through emotional manipulation and/or deception. In other words, the Church must conform to the culture of the seeker to become “seeker sensitive”. The Word of God contends, “...whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”. (James 4:4) This warning of Scripture demands the exact opposite approach to ministry, and when a church defies the commands of Scripture, that church is simply playing the church game.
DOCTRINE—Doctrine is the foundational teaching of the Christian Faith. Without doctrine, there is no true Christianity. Fundamentalists believe that in order to be saved, an individual must adhere without reservation to the Fundamentals of the Faith. Although there are minor variations on these points, the primary points are as follows:
These concepts comprise the core of biblical truth, and a true believer will stand firm in these truths. Herein comes the proverbial rub: Many (if not most) of the unchurched seekers do not affirm many of these beliefs. As a result, the new paradigm churches minimize the teaching of doctrine because doctrine not only divides, but the expository preaching of doctrine may make the seeker of happiness and fulfillment so uncomfortable that the seeker will never return to the church services. Furthermore, under the new paradigm model, a church cannot expect to grow based on the premise that it offers the truth to those that seek for it. The modern culture is convinced that all truth is relative, and the truth claims of all religions are equal. If all truth claims are indeed equal, the claim of exclusivity to the truth is a definite deterrent to growth. Therefore, the doctrinal view of the new paradigm churches are culturally edited to subordinate the teaching of doctrine to life applications, meeting felt needs, daily relationships, parenting, self-esteem, and other subjects based more on modern psychology than on what “thus saith the Lord”.
SIN—Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church defines sin as “a flawed strategy to gain fulfillment”. (12). This definition is very much akin to that conveyed by occultist, Jean Houston who describes sin as “unskilled behavior”. Both of these definitions fall far short of the portrayal of sin in the Word of God. According to the Scripture, sin is that which alienates the unrighteous individual from a holy God. The Bible describes sin as crimes against God for which the sinner will be condemned to eternal torment in the flames of Hell. The Bible portrayal of sin is far more vivid than the squishy, dumbed-down version of Hybels and Houston. However, the Word of God is truth, and any attempt to soften sin is a game that will result in tragic eternal consequences.
EVANGELISM—The proponents of the New Paradigm Church are not at all wrong when they give a high priority to the Great Commission. As stated earlier, the Church has painfully failed in obedience to this command of Jesus himself. However, those involved in Outcome-based Religion have not grasped the true purpose and mission of the Church. The mission of the Church is the edification of the saints, equipping the saints, reaching the lost for Christ, and subsequently nurturing those converts to spiritual maturity. The third point of this mission statement could be summarized as “evangelism”. The heart of the issue comes to light when one realizes that the New Paradigm Church transforms the entire mission of the Church to evangelism, and subjugates edification and equipping to the point of virtual deletion. The missing ingredient to this formula is the distinction of the mission of the “Church gathered” and the mission of the “Church scattered”. In both cases, evangelism is not the primary mission of the Church. As previously stated, holiness is the major component of Christian life. This applies to both the Church gathered and the Church scattered. After holiness, the primary mission of the Church scattered is evangelism—leading others to Christ. However, evangelism should be assigned lower priority for the Church gathered. The Church gathered is NOT for the sole purpose of evangelism, but edification, equipping, and nurturing. This makes Rick Warren’s statement of “a church for the unchurched” a complete oxymoron. Any organization for the unchurched is not a church. Any who claim to lead such a “church” are simply playing the church game.
MARKET STRATEGY—According to the new paradigm thought, a local pastor should employ the marketing principles found in major corporations to reach their communities for Christ. Rick Warren, for example, identified young, financially secure, white collar, urban professionals as his target market. Saddleback Community Church was then built with the needs of this particular market segment in mind. The key to the market strategy is not the particular demographic targeted, but rather the identifying and developing a strategy to meet the felt needs of those that reside within that demographic. The bottom line is that “if we can convince people that Christ died to meet their needs, they will line up at the door to buy our product.” (13)
CHANGE AGENT—Those who are familiar with Outcome-based Education
are equally familiar with the term “change agent”. This term was one employed
by John Dewey and his comrades in his attempt to advance the Progressive Education
theories that eventually became implemented in Outcome-based Education. In
this situation, the public school teacher was to act as an agent of change
to transform the thought processes of students from the beliefs of their parents
to the “new realities” confronting them in the modern world. In similar fashion,
Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek sees himself as a motivator and an “agent
of change”.(14) His view is as was that of John Dewey. He must facilitate
change from old beliefs to new beliefs—from an old way of thinking to a new
way of thinking. The goal of the change agent is the implementation of a change
of mind without the changed individual realizing a change has taken place.
FELT NEEDS—(As opposed to spiritual needs) Relieve pain, provide happiness, fulfillment, self-esteem (15)
CULTURAL RELEVANCE—The Church of Jesus Christ is defined by and receives its instructions from the written of the Word of God. The Bible is very concise in its assessment that the Church is to be separate from and untainted by the world:
“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed....”
“Pure religion and undefiled before God...is this...to keep
himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27)
These and other scriptures draw a distinct line of demarcation between the Christian and the world. It is this argument that raises red flags when assessing the marketing strategies of the new paradigm movement. In the quest for relevance to achieve the church growth outcome, the culture of the world has begun to define the Church in lieu of the Word of God.
What then defines the modern culture? While the culture of today is most certainly multifaceted, there are those who report that today’s world (and America in particular) is driven from a “psychological worldview”(16). This worldview did not magically appear out of thin air. It grew into existence over the last 80 years of the Twentieth Century, conceived with the World War II Generation. It has been said that the World War II Generation was the “Great Generation”. This contention is not without merit, for the young men and women who reached maturity in the early 1940s arguably lived in a time of unprecedented upheaval. The children born just after World War I were the children of the prosperous “Roaring 20s”. However, many witnessed at a very early age their world crashing down into the murky depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then, as if that were not enough, they were asked to give their very lives on the soil of a foreign land or on the beaches of some remote island. The Bible’s statement, “Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) is certainly conducive of this generation that certainly experienced more than its share of tribulation. They were plunged from a life of relative comfort in the 20s into the “survival mode” of the Great Depression. The flip side of survival mode is not always completely negative, for survival mode (as stated in an earlier chapter) tends to cause one to reassess his or her priorities. This very reassessment led many of these young people to Jesus Christ; and as a result, Biblical Fundamentalism became embedded into the moral fiber of a generation. It was this moral fiber that became the basis for the attitudes and values of the most cherished decade in all of American history—the 1950s.
There was, however, one glaring weakness of the World War II Generation—their parenting skills. While the World War II Generation was achieving the “American Dream” in the “Ozzie and Harriet World” of the 1950s, their children (the Baby Boomers) were growing into the Rock and Roll Generation that would openly rebel against the very culture their parents risked their lives to preserve. Not that the parents of the Baby Boomers were blameless, for one need not possess a degree in astrophysics to look in retrospect at the causes for the rebellion of the 1960s. The decade of war protests, racial upheaval, the sexual revolution, and the drug culture can be at least partially traced to doting parents who grew up with very little material wealth during the Great Depression and wanted their children to have more—more opportunity, more things, more fun. Thus, the Baby Boomers became a generation totally obsessed with self-gratification. As the Baby Boomers then had babies of their own, those children (Generation X) wanted all of the material benefits of Dad and Mom—and they wanted it all immediately. The pattern is now repeating itself with the new generation—Generation Y. Therefore, the materialism of the Baby Boomers has dramatically increased through 2 successive generations, and the resulting cultural landscape consists of 3 generations whose first priority is the edification, gratification, and glorification of the one they see in the mirror. Thus the 3 generations who make up today’s western society can very well be collectively be labeled as the ME Generations. What is in it for ME? How can I feel better about ME? It is all about ME and no one else.
When stating that the culture is all about ME, there are several aspects of pleasing ME that must be explored. A member of the ME Generations can be reached by the following methods:
The first 3 aspects can be addressed by utilizing the tools of modern psychology or by emotional manipulation. The entertainment and amusement aspect is the easy one, for there are many talented individuals who are very anxious to exhibit their talents to any audience willing to observe. To adapt the balance of these methods to the church services requires only a change in philosophy of true worship to fleshly gratification. Suddenly, God becomes more of a “fairy godmother” than the God of Scripture. (17) As a result, the Church becomes suddenly relevant to the ME individual, but does such a church continue to be a true church? Evidently such questioning in today’s new paradigm is totally irrelevant, for the outcome has been achieved—exponential church growth.
CHRISTIAN PSYCHOLOGY—John MacArthur states that the term “Christian Psychology” is an oxymoron.(18) He is absolutely correct in his assessment. There is no such thing as Christian psychology. That which psychology teaches is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Scripture. These principles are as follows:
In spite of the fact that the Evangelical Community has in effect been hijacked by psychology, the New Paradigm Church utilizes psychology as its primary focus. This utilization is found both in “Christian Counseling” and as the basis for pulpit oratories. The dangers involved in these methods are made evident when 1) therapy is accepted as a necessary aspect of ministry and 2) church leaders begin to describe psychological categories as biblical principles. (20) At this point, the hidden dangers of the church game are revealed. Will the next generation even recognize the teachings of Scripture? Or will Freud, Jung, and Rogers set the standards for the church of the future?
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC—Rick Warren is adamant that the music at Saddleback be the style of music that his constituents hear on the radio. As a result, the service of Saddleback Community Church resembles more of a Hollywood variety show than a gathering to worship a Holy God. Pastor Warren should not get all of the credit (or more accurately blame) for this trend. The Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Movement began in the late 1960s with the Jesus Movement. (It was from the roots of the Jesus Movement that Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Church grew.) A more detailed review of music will be made in a later chapter, but for the purposes of definition, some basic points and evaluations will be listed here:
THE GOSPEL—The Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in Scripture is not complicated. It is simply the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to accomplish the redemption of mankind. In his book, This Little Church Went to Market author Gary Gilley explains that the Gospel in the Word of God deals with:
The Gospel also reveres the cross. For in the cross believers understand:
The effects of the cross have also been redefined. The new paradigm view of the cross is as follows:
In summary, the truth of the Gospel is becoming eroded by new paradigm church games, and thus the impact on true Christianity is potentially catastrophic. All of this genuinely leads one to wonder whether the question, “When I return, will I find faith on the earth?” asked by Jesus was rhetorical or with the passing of time would have an obvious answer.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
1. Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids,
MI, 1995, p.110.
2. Ibid. p.80.
3. Ibid. p.65.
4. II Timothy 2:15.
5. Warren. p.241.
6. Ibid. p.193.
7. Lucarni, Dan. Why I Left the Contemporary Christian music Movement, Evangelical Press, Auburn, MA., 2002, p.52.
10. Pickering, Ernest. The Tragedy of Compromise, Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, p.153.
11. Gilley, Gary E. This Little Church Went to Market, Xulon Press,Fairfax, VA., 2002, p.86.
12. Pritchard, G.A. Willow Creek Seeker Services, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001, p.177.
13. Gilley. p.45.
14. Pritchard. p.28.
15. Gilley. p.49.
16. McMahon, T.A. “To Whom Shall We Go?”, The Berean Call newsletter, Bend, OR, April, 2003, p1.
17. Gilley. p.86.
18. MacArthur, John. Our Sufficiency in Christ, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX., 1991, p.59.
19. Gilley. p.63
20. Pritchard. pp.229,274.
21. Gilley. p.131.
22. Ibid. p.44.
23. Ibid. p.59.
24. Ibid. p.44.
25. Ibid. p.59.
Intoduction to this section - CHRISTIAN CHURCHES ARE OPENING THE DOOR TO ANTICHRIST