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Purpose Driven Church Growth -- Biblical Wisdom Versus Carnal Wisdom

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And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsand teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. -- Ephesians 4: 11-14 (ESV)

As the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex continues to expand across this world we see more and more focus on the theories of church growth outlined by Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Church, which is now the go-to book for up and coming pastors instead of the Bible. As a direct result we have seen more and more leadership experts pop up across the landscape to offer their own nuggets of carnal wisdom, human cunning, and crafty, deceitful schemes. All under the rubric of "reaching people for Jesus" even though that is the last thing they are actually doing. We must understand beloved, foundational truths in the Bible:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. -- 1Corinthians 15: 1-5 (ESV)

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. -- Acts 20: 26-27 (ESV)

First of all there is only one thing that contains the power of God to save man and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing else can save anyone. Not your fantastic choir. Not your dynamic preacher-dude. Not the smoke machines and disco lighting. None of it can save a single person. Only The Gospel can. Fine, so what is the Gospel according to God? We see in the 1Corinthians verses that the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins; He was buried, and rose on the third day. That there were witnesses to this and that it is in accordance with all Scripture. The last set of verses from Acts teaches us that only the whole counsel of God keeps a preacher free from the blood of his listeners. You cannot play salad bar theology with the Gospel. You must present the entire Gospel if you expect anyone to be saved. So while we all understand that God is love; that is not the entire Gospel. While we all know God's grace is tremendous that is not the entire Gospel.

The Purpose Driven theories of church growth however insist on compromising the Gospel. Sure they do not admit it. Sure, there are plenty of references to Jesus but at the end of the day it is a powerless gospel that cannot save anyone. It focuses the attention of the church upon drawing the lost instead of discipling the saved. It has poisoned the minds of the vast majority of pastors in this country. These heresies are fully supported, taught, and coached. The above link is to Ministry Today magazine online and offers up five reasons why churches never grow past 400 members. There is so much craftiness and cunning in this article. There is so much deceit and scheming. Let us reason biblically together beloved. The first glaring error is the assumption that God always wants to super-size His fries:

"If your church has spent more than five years in an attendance range of between 290 to 490, you are stuck at the 400 barrier." -- Brian Jones

You have to love definitive statements from people who claim to be espousing Christian principles but apparently do not read the Bible. How in the world can Brian Jones KNOW this statement to be true as he has written it? Simple. He cannot. What has he left out as a possibility? How about God's involvement! Is there a chance that God has not allowed the church to grow beyond a certain point? Are there possibly sin issues, doctrinal issues, relational issues that God wants resolved first? Is it possible He simply has decided in His sovereignty that this is the portion allotted to this pastor? This is what is so inherently wrong with the mega-church mindset. It works from the wildly false assumption that God always wants His fries super-sized. Mega-Church heretic Andy Stanley just this past year stepped in it when he lambasted people who attended small churches as being 'so darn selfish!" That is the mega church myopia. Let us reason together and explore the workings of a church growth leadership expert's mind. It provides a fascinating glimpse into what forces your own pastor has to resist in these last days. Here is reason number one, why a church does not grow past 400 members:

The governing board still operates a small-church leadership structure. As a church grows from 100 to 400, frequently the senior pastor has changed, and the church has changed, but the governing elder board has not. To move past this barrier, the board must evolve. Governing board members must wrestle with this question: "Are we willing to change (and even lose our positions on the board) to reach people far from God?" -- Brian Jones

Allow me to translate the "Purposedrivenese" for you. As pastors adopt the purpose driven heresies inevitably there will be people in the church who recognize the falling away from the Gospel. These naturally would be people who are better versed in the Bible and more spiritually mature. It is quite reasonable to assume the board would consist of such people, as most churches start out trying to only name to their board people who meet the Biblical qualifications. When Brian Jones says they must "evolve" he means one of two things must happen. They either must be "blessedly subtracted"; a term created by Rick Warren which means removing people from your congregation; or they must change and embrace the heresy. Hence the "are we willing to change" nonsense. Note the clever false piety they use to disguise what is really going on. The implication is that unless the board members change and adapt to compromising the Gospel, they must not want to reach people far from God. I seem to remember the Pharisees had a similar mindset that Jesus rebuked them for:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. -- Matthew 23: 15 (ESV)

Beloved, the issue is not having zeal to reach people. It is having zeal to reach people with the uncompromised Gospel because it alone can save them. It doesn't matter if you expand and reach record numbers or go from 400 to 4000 if you have left the Gospel behind. You might grow your church but not the kingdom. The second reason given for not growing beyond 400:

The senior pastor hasn't shifted from operating as a hands-on pastor to a leader who delegates hands-on pastoring. We senior pastors never want to stop doing hands-on pastoring. That's part of what makes us who we are. The shift that has to occur, however, is the focus of our pastoring. To break 400, the senior pastor must stop trying to pastor the whole congregation and instead focus on pastoring staff and leaders. Senior pastors must ask themselves this question: "Am I willing to learn a new skill set and modify things I love doing to reach people far from God?" -- Brian Jones

Ahh yes, one of the foundational pillars of the purpose driven church model is the pastor is no longer a pastor. He is now a vision casting CEO-pastor-dude. He is the charisma. He is the cult of personality that everyone flocks to. Jesus? Yeah we will mention Him but the real draw is the guy with the golden tongue who blends that folksy humanism with the just right amount of false righteousness. The pastor is expected to no longer be a shepherd of the flock. Andy Stanley, a staunch purpose driven supporter, is on record saying that we should not even use the term shepherd anymore because it is not culturally relevant. As if the Bible bows to the signs of the current cultural times. Sorry Andy, it doesn't work that way. The Bible transcends culture. Let's see what the Bible says about the role of leaders in His church:

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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