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Sheep-Beating 101 - Purpose Driven Spiritual Myopia Regarding Why People Leave Church

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"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -- Matthew 10:34-39 (ESV)

The Purpose Driven Industrial Complex top objective is to protect the brand at all cost. In order to accomplish this they are forced to look at what is plain and make it murky. They are forced to apply the purpose driven paradigm to all dynamics occurring within the church. In one wing of the complex we have the Christian "leadership" experts such as Carey Nieuwhof who makes his living applying pure carnality to church leadership. Myopia is defined as a lack of intellectual foresight. Spiritual myopia is simply not being able to see from a spiritual perspective. To be so carnally minded that the things of God never occur to you. The above link is to Carey's most recent offering outlining five reasons why people leave your church. So it is designed as all things in this genre are; to prop up purpose driven pastors and make sure they have their excuses ready, lest they be forced to actually go to scripture and God for the answers. So let us reason once again as we peer into the purpose driven mind.

"No matter how long you've been in leadership, it still hurts when people leave your church. It's somewhat easy to understand people leaving when things are going poorly-- when there's conflict, division or dysfunction. But what most leaders aren't prepared for is the reality that people will leave when things are going well. Even when they're going really well. In fact, some people leave because things are going well, or because you're getting healthier. As surprising as this sounds, every time you make progress as a church, you'll lose people. This comes as a shock to most leaders. And it can be very disheartening, especially if you don't realize some loss even in great seasons is 'normal'." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Peeling back the layers of purpose driven teaching we first come to the notion of a church "going well." You see the progress Nieuwhof is referring to is not spiritual progress where the sheep are growing in Christ but business progress. Is the church growing? Are tithes up or down? What Nieuwhof always fails to realize is that not all growth is healthy. Sometimes it is a sign of something systemically wrong. In the body it might be a malignancy and it is no different in the body of Christ. The first error here is the notion that the pastor is responsible for the horizontal growth of his church. He is not. He is responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep entrusted to him. So what is really going on behind his spiritual myopia? Since the progress he refers to is simple numerical growth what he cannot see is what was compromised in order to achieve that growth. Maybe the worship started singing self-centered drivel instead of praise to God. Maybe the pastor cut his sermon into a sermonette. Perhaps the Gospel is never preached anymore. Sin and repentance become taboo topics. So the biblically grounded people do what they know they must -- they leave. The Carey Nieuwhof's of the world think people are leaving because they do not like growth when the reality is that they do not like how the growth was accomplished.

"So why do people leave even when you're making progress at your church? Simple. The people who are at your church today are there because they like it the way it is. Change that (even for the better), and some will leave. It will shock you. It will disappoint you. It will leave you scratching your head. And it's unavoidable. But you need to keep moving or else you'll be paralyzed by focusing on who you want to keep, not who you want to reach." -- Carey Nieuwhof

There are two points of discussion here. First we see the second grievous error of the purpose driven movement in the notion that the church needs to be focused on "those you want to reach" and not "those you want to keep." This is exactly what Rick Warren teaches to up and coming pastors. Under the guise of evangelism and the Great Commission, the church tosses the sheep to the curb in pursuit of more goats. Yet if you read Acts, this is backwards. The church is for the sheep, not the goats. I know that is a tough teaching to swallow in these purpose driven last days but the bible is clear. Do we want the lost to visit our churches? Of course because that is the most likely place they will hear the Gospel, which is the only thing with the power of God unto their salvation. But you do not water the Gospel down as to not offend them! Just read the key verses beloved! The Gospel is meant to be offensive to those who are perishing! Just think how offensive Carey's statement here is. That pastors will be paralyzed by focusing on the sheep God has entrusted to them instead of people who think the things of God are foolishness to them? The second thing wrong here is the assumption that people leave because things change. That misses the point made above -- why did it change? How did it change? This casual dismissal of God's sheep and trying to blame them for leaving the pen door open is obscene. Now Carey launches into his five reasons why people leave church:

"1. You Cast Too Big A Vision. What? Casting a big vision can cause people to leave? Absolutely. A big vision is inspiring. It's also threatening. Vision threatens people because, inherently, vision challenges the status quo. It calls out the best in people. It asks people to think bigger, to think beyond themselves, to push past the status quo and to sacrifice. And not everybody's up for that. As a leader, it's critical to sift through you motivation every time you cast vision. If the vision is really about you, your ego, or your insecurities (you need to grow bigger to feel good about yourself), healthy people will resist it. (Wise, godly people can help you sort through your motives and see them accurately.) But you can have a beautifully motivated, compelling vision and still have people walk out the door. As exciting as the future is, some people prefer the present. Others live in the past. You can't build the future church on people who live in the past." -- Carey Nieuwhof

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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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