And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 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 2:42-47 (ESV)
One of the chief causes of the end times apostasy we see all around us today is the Purpose Driven Church model. Rick Warren wrote the book in the 1990s and it seems every up and coming pastor since has been taught all of the purpose driven tenets. The result is a church that is focused on those that do not come to church while the sheep of the Lord are starved methodically. The individual churches become cult of personality silos that worship the CEO Pastor-Dude instead of God. An outgrowth of this phenomenon is the emergence of "Christian" leadership gurus who hock their wares to pastors just dying to grow their church into a book deal, I mean for Jesus of course -- wink wink. One such guru which we routinely review is Carey Nieuwhof; whose teachings are breathtakingly carnal but many obviously flock to. The link above is to his latest offering on five questions a pastor should ask themselves if their church is not growing. This promises to be an utter train wreck so let's strap ourselves in and reason once more together beloved:
"Chances are you didn't get into leadership to see your church stop accomplishing its mission. One of the primary missions of the local church is to reach new people with Christ's love, which, naturally, implies growth. But almost every church (and almost every organization) faces seasons in which growth stops. Some haven't seen growth in years"or decades. I was on a call with some leaders recently from a large growing church who told me that last year was the first time in 15 years they hadn't grown. They're addressing it and are back on track, but it was a tough year. I can relate. I have been in church leadership for 19 years. We seen growth almost every year (the majority of which has been from previously unchurched people), but there were two periods in which we stalled out. Those are tough seasons for leaders. What was effective before has stopped being effective now. A malaise sets in that's difficult to describe. As a leader, you're not exactly sure how to get things back on track. Ideally you'd be asking questions before you hit a slump, but life isn't that simple, is it? So if you're in a slump or see one coming, what do you do? One of the best things any leader can do when they're in a tough spot is to stop making assumptions and start asking questions. Our assumptions got us to where we are, but they won't necessarily get us where we need to go. Here are 5 telling questions every leader can ask when their church stops growing:" -- Carey Nieuwhof
This is a brilliant summary of one of the foundational errors of the Purpose Driven Church. Rick Warren falsely teaches that one of the primary missions of the church is to grow the individual church. This is of course couched with Christianese terms such as "reaching people for Christ" but the reality is a very bottom line metrics of attendance and tithing. If attendance is up and tithing is up then the church is considered "growing." The cold hard reality Warren never understands is it is not up to the pastor to grow his church horizontally -- that is God's job! The key verses summarize the New Testament model for churches and it reveals they were designed for the saints, not the goats. Church is where we break bread and fellowship. It is where we corporately worship God and get fed His word so that we might grow in our faith. What about the lost preacher? What about them? The bible says the things of God are utter foolishness to them so why in the world would you cater your church to them? Do we want them to visit our church? Of course because it might be the only place they can hear the Gospel and the bible teaches us only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man.
We must understand the pressure this puts on pastors today. When horizontal growth is not achieved the pastor feels responsible and that is a God-sized burden because only He decides the number that gets added every day. We read more and more about failing pastors and burnt out pastors and is it any wonder? If you were trying to do God's job you would get burned out too! I know a local pastor who is faithful to the Gospel. He pastors a church of about 200 people and has so for the past 20 years. In speaking to him one day he lamented the lack of "growth" because this mega church mindset is drilled into our heads. I told him if God gave you 200 and the majority end up in heaven you will hear well done my good and faithful servant but if you pastor 5000 and 20% get into heaven? Not so much. Pastors are responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep they have been entrusted with. Let's reason now together through these five questions from Purpose Driven leadership guru Carey Nieuwhof.
"1. Is our sense of mission white hot? - Effective churches have a white hot sense of mission. It's far more than a piece of paper on a wall or something the board recites at annual meetings, it lives daily in the soul of countless people in the congregation. It motivates all the action in the organization. It consumes people. Often a church that has stopped growing has lost the urgency behind it's mission. This is doubly sad in the case of a church because our mission is actually Christ's mission"it's the spread of the Gospel into the world for which Jesus died. Leaders and congregations that are effective in accomplishing their mission are consumed by their mission. It always burns white hot." -- Carey Nieuwhof