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)
This week we are exploring the palpable changes within the church culture as a result of the Purpose Driven Church and the ensuing theories of church growth that have exponentially grown since the 1995 publication by Rick Warren. It seems nearly every up and coming pastor today is trained on the Purpose Driven model. The problem with this is that the model is wildly unbiblical and has in fact been leveraged quite brilliantly by Satan in these last days to cripple the church and create swaths of unregenerate goats that have been promised a salvation they do not possess. We examined in Part One, the shift of how the lost are viewed. Prior to the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex, the lost were considered unsaved. This meant the thing that was lacking, which the church must focus on, was salvation. Now Rick Warren teaches that we should refer to these people as "unchurched". The devastating results should be expected and obvious. A church that no longer truly focuses on salvation can dumb down the sinner's prayer to nine words, as Rick Warren literally did in the Purpose Driven Life. A church that is no longer focused on the salvation of lost souls can get easily distracted and bend more readily to the world. When we allow the goats to dictate what church ought to be that is how we end up with cross-less churches, bloodless churches, and churches that simply do not have the power to actually save anyone. Beloved, Matthew 7 teaches us that there will be plenty of churched people in hell but when someone is saved, they are with Jesus in Paradise.
This brings us to Part Two of this series and today we will continue in this line of thought to examine how the shift in viewing the unsaved has actually resulted in an unbiblical church that goes against the principles God has laid out. The church has a purpose, to use Warren vernacular. Jesus spoke very clearly about the role the church is supposed to play. We are supposed to be a shining city on a hill. We are supposed to be the light in a world filled with darkness. We are supposed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the only power of God unto the salvation of men. The world is supposed to see us as a peculiar people. We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to love where they hate. We are supposed to turn the other cheek where they seek vengeance. We are supposed to be at peace where they panic. Why? So that they would want what we have. So that they would ask about this God we serve that allows all of these flesh denying characteristics. Beloved, time is running out and we are instructed to be very wise when dealing with the lost because the time that is left must be redeemed:
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. -- Colossians 4: 5-6 (NKJV)
It is because the church is so vital to the plans God has, that the Bible is filled with cautious instruction about it. How many gifts of the Spirit can be displayed and in what order. Qualifications for elders, deacons, and pastors. Correct gender roles in a service. Then there is the actual blueprint for the church found in the key verses today. Taken from the second chapter in the Book of Acts, the key verses show what the early church was like. It shows the model for how it should operate. The sheep devote themselves to the apostle's teaching and to the fellowship. Today, the apostle's teaching is the Bible. We are to commit ourselves as a church to devotion towards the Word of God. We are to study it. We are to go deeper in the Word with each passing day. When you follow the purpose driven model however you cannot go deeper in the Word because your target audience still thinks the things of God are foolishness. This is why we see people like mega-church pastor and purpose driven guru, Perry Noble, refer to people who want to go deeper in the Word as the "jackasses in his congregation." This is the same guy that thought it would be fun to play Highway to Hell from ACDC during a church service. This is the same guy who played Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball during worship. Yes, the same guy who preached a sermon once where he rewrote the Ten Commandments to make them more palatable. This is what the purpose driven model does to young pastors. To Perry, the people that want to go deeper in the Word of God are the jackasses in his church. How pathetically sad when we consider that the true model for the church is to always go deeper. Perry doesn't follow the Bible though. He follows the Purpose Driven Church:
FINALLY I was reading something about a church that I believed could and should be taking place"and the Lord used your writings as a catalyst to spur me AND encourage me. I would say that the Lord used you to"
Teach me what church CAN be
Show me that if you do not have a plan in ministry that it will be obvious to everyone that you have no plan!
Teach me patience as I read all 399 pages"and then I did it again!
Show me how to stay focused"no matter what people say about me! (I am still learning this!)
Show me that people CAN receive Jesus--even if the pastor wears Hawaiian shirt!
Show me that pastors can be on television and represent Jesus in such a way that the rest of us do not look stupid!
This is an excerpt from a public letter to Rick Warren by Perry Noble. Gushing and praising him for writing a book that he could believe in. That old Bible thing? Nah. No reason to go deeper in that when you have Rick Warren teaching you what a church CAN be. A church CAN be a breeding ground for heresy and false conversions. A church CAN be a place where a pastor calls his sheep jackasses. Or you can follow the Bible and see what God says the church can be. But look at the sheer and utterly carnal nonsense Perry Noble learned from the Purpose Driven Church! That you have to have a plan for ministry. Never mind the Bible, which is the plan God gave. We need a scheme. He learned to not listen to people who are rightly critical of him. To essentially become unteachable and unreachable. Does the Bible teach no accountability? Apparently another lesson he learned from the Purpose Driven Guru is to dress however he likes. Perry routinely preaches in tee shirts. Warren prefers Hawaiian shirts. I do not think clothing matters too much but it is interesting that these are the things Perry learns that stand out to him. Nowhere is there anything about doctrine, the Bible or God. Just mecentric blather.
The flip side of the responsibilities of the church is what role God plays. The final verse from the key verses today indicates quite clearly that God adds to the overall number who are saved. We must remember that salvation is always the work of the Lord. For example, on the Day of Pentecost there were 3000 people saved. Peter preached the Gospel but God saved them. The analogy of church growth I like to use is simple horizontal and vertical growth. Horizontal refers to the overall number of people in the body of Christ and the vertical growth refers to their spiritual maturity in Christ. In the traditional model as God has ordained, the pastor is responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep the Lord has entrusted to him. The horizontal growth of his individual ministry is entirely up to the Lord.
Not so according to Rick Warren.