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And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. -- Acts 2: 46-47 (ESV)
Carey Nieuwhof is a church growth consultant and leadership guru. This industry grew out of the Purpose Driven Church revolution that has been occurring over the past several decades. The past few generations of young gun pastors have been raised on Rick's Warren's heretical view of how to grow a church business. It has made cult of personality pastors millionaires many times over. It has ballooned into a billion dollar industry. This despite the fact that at its heart it is simply unbiblical. The key verse is the formation of the New Testament church and it makes it abundantly clear who adds to the number of the saved. -- God. The people worried about attending service together, breaking bread together, and praising God. He added to their number as He saw fit. So it was until Rick Warren's new vision for the church came along in 1995. Warren taught that it was the responsibility of the vision casting CEO Pastor Dude to grow the church. Beloved, what man is responsible for he must maintain and what God is responsible for, God will maintain. One of the first things man did when he took over these responsibilities from God was to shift the focus of the church from the sheep to the goats. Once again, any reading of the key verses or the New Testament shows that the church was established for the saved, not the lost.
With the church now firmly focused on the people who think the things of God are utter foolishness, the church did what it had to in order to draw the goats -- it compromised. The unsaved did not want to see the cross? They were removed from the sanctuary. They did not want to hear about sin and repentance? Fine, let's talk about improving their sex life or their communities. So the lost came in by the thousands. Why not? To get the promise of eternal life without having to change anything? All for just 10% of your income? It was a deal they could not refuse. Plus hot music, a great light show and a motivational speech by a great orator? Do you think 50,000 people show up each weekend at Lakewood Church because Joel Osteen preaches the Gospel? No! It is because he preaches what their itching ears want to hear!
So every now and again, Carey Nieuwhof publishes an article that brilliantly highlights the heresy of building a church while ignoring the kingdom. Today's offering, linked above, is entitled; "Five Hard Truths About Healthy Church Growth." Let us reason together to find out what is really true and healthy.
"Most church leaders I know would love to see their church grow. Similarly, most leaders I've met want their church to grow for what we might call the 'right' reasons: they sincerely want more people to encounter the love of Jesus Christ. That's amazing." -- Carey Nieuwhof
Right from the start we see the true disconnect that Rick Warren has institutionalized. In the blind pursuit for numbers preachers have lost sight of the fact that narrow is the path to eternal life and few are those who find it. Remember, Paul, Apollos and you can plant or water. Only God gives the increase. Romans 1 teaches us that only the preached Gospel has to power to save someone! The job of the preacher is to be faithful to the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit give the increase. Sincerity here is irrelevant. You can be sincere and sincerely wrong.
"And yet there's a strong reaction against growing churches by many leaders. For some reason, many people love to take pot-shots at growing churches and large churches. Some are categorical denouncements. I don't know what to do with those. Sometimes I sense that underneath the anger are jealousy and resentment on the part of leaders whose churches aren't growing." -- Carey Nieuwhof