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February 1, 2016

Carnal Leadership Idolization, The Purpose Driven Paradigm, & Star Trek Theology

By Anthony Wade

A recent article pits the purpose driven "Leader Pastor" against the biblical "Sheep Pastor."


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So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. -- 1Peter 5: 1-3 (ESV)

Beloved, the Bible is so clear if we are willing to put down our own reasoning and listen. Far too often however, we start to think we know better. That we can add a little here or enhance a little there to help God along with His plan. This notion is foundational to the Purpose Driven Church model, which the vast majority of churches in this country ascribe to. The premise of Rick Warren's teachings to pastors is that they are responsible for the horizontal growth of their churches. That they have to "cast vision" for the congregation to buy into and to those that don't; you show them the door. For fans of the Star Trek movies series, this is known as Spock Theology. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. There is no question that this is fundamental to Warren doctrine. He writes about this concept and has called it "blessed subtraction." The problem of course is God is a fan of Captain Kirk Theology:

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. - Luke 15: 7 (ESV)

Captain Kirk believes in the opposite logic of Spock in that the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. That individual people are what matter. This verse shows that is how God views life as well. In the beginning of the Book of Acts we see God clearly spell out that the church leaders are responsible for the vertical growth of the church, not the horizontal growth, as Warren preaches. It is God who adds to the number in the church as He sees fit. The Bible also clearly teaches that it is only the preached Gospel that is the power of God unto the salvation of men. Not slick marketing campaigns. Not smoke machines and fancy light shows. Not relevant messages that people can relate to. Beloved, the Bible says that narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and few are those who find it. That is why heaven rejoices over one sinner repenting. That is why pastoral leaders ought to be singularly focused on their sheep and preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead however they have become enamored with the Warren teachings and that has led to them to see themselves as vision casters instead of net casters. They have become obsessed with using carnal metrics to determine if they are successful. They have created an idol out of the concept of leadership.

Think about it. If your pastor runs a church according to purpose driven parameters then I guarantee they spend some time in pursuing leadership techniques. Bill Hybels famous annual leadership conference is only the tip of the iceberg but is an excellent microcosm of the modern church's idolization of carnal leadership. Routinely, 75% of the speakers at this allegedly Christian conference are completely in the world. People will say that we can learn leadership principles from CEOs and public leadership figures and my opinion is we should not. If I want to learn how to lead a corporation in this world then I would seek out a successful CEO. If I want to learn how to lead a church then I would turn to Christ since it belongs to Him. It is His body. How foolish we can be! To think that someone who does not even know Jesus Christ can teach us anything about leading His church!

Do not think for a second this is not a scheme of the enemy. Who else benefits from what we have seen in the landscape of modern Christendom? To get the people charged with tending to the flock of God to focus on something other than actual shepherding! Andy Stanley, who is a strict Rick Warren adherent, actually said that we should no longer use the term shepherd because it is not culturally relevant! Dear Lord how unbiblical can you get? If you want to see how God has outlined leadership for pastors just look at the key verses. The very first exhortation here is that leaders must shepherd the flock! Sorry Andy. Your job is not to cast vision. It is not to prepare for the church you want instead of the one God has entrusted to you. It is to shepherd the sheep! What is interesting here is there are no further commands, just direction as to how we are to shepherd! Think about that for a moment. The instructions are to shepherd and nothing else. Not under compulsion. Not for shameful gain. Willingly and eagerly. Not being domineering. By being an example. Wow. There's a leadership conference that needs to happen. But the church continues to play by the Warren playbook and the cancer is spreading. Today on Charisma News was an article by Joseph Mattera entitled, "Why These Two Pastors Keep Judging Each Other."

The premise set forth by Mattera is that there are two types of pastors. One of these he refers to as sheep pastors and the other leader pastors. He believes sheep pastors only have the grace to function with hands on ministry and personally touch those who are part of their congregations. Leader pastors however have the grace and vision to develop other leaders. Wow! If that is not a hunk of carnal wisdom I do not know what is! Somehow Mattera bases this upon Romans 12:8:

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. - Romans 12:8 (NIV)

Terrific verse but it speaks nothing of sheep pastors versus leader pastors. In fact, all it says regarding leadership is that those who have the gift to do so, should do so diligently. Everything else Mattera is imparting came from his own heart, not the Bible. He even goes as far as to suggest that this Romans 12:8 gift of leadership is only possessed by the leadership pastors. That the sheep pastors are actually not good leaders. This as well is not biblically supported. In fact, according to Romans 12:8, as long as the "sheep pastor" leads his flock diligently then he is following the written Word of God. Mattera tries to say that having this dichotomy is good for the body of Christ and provides 15 differences he sees between the two types. Reading these 15 explanations reveals that Mattera views the leadership pastor as more desirable even though it is something he made up and not contained within Scripture. That's right beloved. The sheep pastor is the biblical model as displayed in the key verses and a host of other Scriptures. Paul said if you want leadership -- follow me as I follow Christ. Not ask John Maxwell what is the best marketing idea to have people come back to your church. Within the 15 differences however, we see the insidious nature of the purpose driven agenda and how it is corroding the body of Christ. Let's go through them one at a time.

1. Sheep pastors only have a vision for the people they see while leader pastors vision goes beyond their current congregation. - This of course is at the heart of Warren theology. That a pastor needs to be focused on the church that is still to come as opposed to tending to the flock God has given him. Sure it is always carefully couched in terms of doing both but here is the thing. Unless you are preaching the Gospel you cannot serve both. The church that is yet to come are not sheep. They are goats. This is why you see all of the cute tricks and schemes designed to bring them in. This is how you get sermons based on the latest secular movie instead of based on Scripture. The real sheep are left starving and if they dare to say anything; well there is always blessed subtraction.

2) Sheep pastors personally touch every member. Leader pastors invest their time in potential leaders. - Well at least Mattera is being honest. He almost mocks real shepherding here saying that sheep pastors will hold every hand and visit the sick. What a novel concept! Under purpose driven teaching the pastor is a CEO out to grow the church but according to the Bible he is supposed to be a shepherd tending to the flock. The guise that is always used is the desire to "reach more people" but that falls flat because as we know only the Gospel can save people and only God grows the church horizontally. Yes, you may convince more goats to stick around but that is not growing the kingdom.

3) Sheep pastors produce happy followers while leader pastors produce other leaders. - This is the pyramid ponzi scheme that modern Christianity has become. Nowhere in the Bible does it instruct pastors to produce other leaders. Before you say the Apostle Paul remember that he was more of an itinerant preacher and church planter. Timothy was a pastor and nowhere does the Bible suggest that while he was pastoring at Ephesus he was secretly hoping for a better offer from Corinth.

4) Sheep pastors want to comfort their flock while leader pastors want to challenge their flock. - This is ruse of the purpose driven paradigm. That God has secretly planned some grandiose purpose for each and every one of us and that it can only be fulfilled by serving in the Usher Ministry. What hogwash. Yes, God does have a purpose for us and that is to glorify Him and shine the light of Christ into the darkness. By the way, helping out in your church is commendable, just do not fall for the nonsense that it is God's purpose for your life. What this is within the Warren teaching is the way the church can save money by having the sheep do the work. For the record, true sheep pastors do challenge their flock. They challenge them to be Bereans. They challenge them to deepen their prayer life. They do not challenge them to lead the children's ministry.

5) Sheep pastors desire a great family church while leader pastors desire an advancing family army. - Mattera tries to get a little cute here but this is still just the purpose driven agenda. The "advancing army" is to bring more people into the building as opposed to the kingdom. Not saying this is done consciously but in the end it really doesn't matter.

6) Sheep pastors comfort the disturbed while leader pastors disturb the comfortable. - Sounds really deep until you think about it. Mattera sounds like he is saying that pastors should not be in the business of comforting and consoling their sheep. Perhaps he needs to read the Gospels again. His claim here that leader pastors want to get their congregation to believe God for greater things is again only couched within the purpose driven paradigm. What greater things? Are we talking about deeper faith? Terrific. That is not how it sounds however.

7) Sheep pastors create a comfortable environment while leader pastors look for a "wow moment" every time they preach in order to create passion to fulfill the great commission. - What utter nonsense. The wow is found in the correct handling of God's Word. How many times has someone said wow about a sermon yet been unable to relate what it was actually about? Wow moments feed the flesh. The Gospel stirs the Spirit. This is once again man relying on man instead of on God.

8) Sheep pastors protect the status quo while leader pastors challenge the status quo. - Another worldly concept. The status quo merely means the current state of affairs. If you preach the Gospel and tend to the sheep, why would you need to challenge that? I know pastors who lead congregations of 200 people but the majority are growing in their walk. He will get a "well done my good and faithful servant." I know others who routinely use blessed subtraction and carnal gimmicks to keep their church attendance over a thousand but the majority are goats. The average time someone spends in a mega church is less than three years. Most never go back to any church. These hirelings will answer for every sheep they allowed to wander out of the pen. Acts 20 teaches us their blood will be upon the pastor's head.

9) Sheep pastors ask "what for" while leader pastors ask "why not?" - Here we find some more exceptional truth on display from the seeker friendly mindset. The question should never be "why not?" It should always be whether something is Scriptural. Why not has led to secular music being played during worship. It has led to the false signs and lying wonders movement. It has led to Star Wars sermons and a compromised Gospel. Why not? How about because God said no?

10) Sheep pastors desire stability and predictability while leader pastors desire fluidity and creativity. - Since when is stable a bad thing? The Bible is the most stable thing we have. We do not ascribe to fluidity but to black and white absolute truth. Here Mattera actually says that leader pastors do not want to be placed in a box. We hear this similar complaint from people like mike Bickle and Bill Johnson. It was a prevalent message in the wildly heretical movie, Holy Ghost. The box people do not wish to be constrained by is called the Bible. It is doctrine.

11) Sheep pastors protect the sheep against new ideas while leader pastors operate at the speed of light and taking the road less traveled. - Another completely carnal notion beloved. The Bible is not new. God did not forget to say something when He wrote the Bible. Why look for what is new, exciting, or hip when we already have the inspired Word of Almighty God? We do not need a "new way" of doing church. We just need to follow the directions already given to us.

12) Sheep pastors seek to limit change while leader pastors thrive in divine chaos. - Excuse me but what the heck is divine chaos? Is God a God of order? Of course he is. Who thrives in chaos? Who seeks to sow chaos in the lives of believers? That's right, the enemy. The Gospel works. The Bible is infallible. There is no reason to change it. There is no reason to make it relevant. Just preach it and let God do what he has said He will do.

13) Sheep pastors put their feet in the water while leader pastors intuit what God is doing and saying in the future so their congregation can ride the wave. - Beloved; God is not in the surfing business. We should not be pursuing intuition. The dictionary defines intuition as knowing based upon instinctive feeling rather than reflective reasoning. The Bible teaches us that our hearts are deceptively wicked. We ought not to be relying upon our feelings or intuition, especially when we do not need to! Just open the Bible, read it, preach it, and follow it!

14) Sheep pastors limit their vision to feeding their sheep day by day and week by week while leader pastors maximize their tomorrows by envisioning 5-10 years from now. - This sounds a lot like the rich fool who thought he could just build bigger barns but then his life was required of him. The Bible says that tomorrow is promised to no one. This reminds me of an article that Rick Warren did a few years back to pastors, giving them tips for how to see more of their Easter visitors come back the following week. One of the tips was to NOT preach the Gospel but rather start a series on how to make their marriages better or feel more significant. How naively myopic. What if someone died during the week of Easter and the next? Pastors are supposed to feed their sheep daily and weekly because no one knows the day or the hour.

15) Sheep pastors want to be loved and leader pastors do not care what the sheep think of them. - This is almost too insulting to deal with. Sheep pastors are motivated to love the sheep because the Bible commands them to. They genuinely desire that people grow in Christ. Mattera is right however about leader pastors. They seemingly do not care what their own sheep think about them because they operate in a model where they do not have to. The truly sad thing is Mattera refers to this as "respect" when it should be called what it is. Disdain.

Beloved; this is a breathtakingly honest article that highlights all that is wrong with the Purpose Driven pursuit of carnal leadership. The needs of the one always outweigh the needs of the many according to God. That is the point of the parable of the lost sheep. Star Trek theology aside, just look at what is revealed in this article. This is how the majority of pastors today are taught and how they lead. True shepherding is mocked. Holding people's hands, visiting them when they are sick, comforting them. All presented as negative compared to the brave brash leader pastor who is out there riding waves and casting vision. The problem is that the model of the purpose driven paradigm is wickedly carnal and results in pastors compromising the gospel to grow a church building. It leads to forgetting that their primary job is to protect and feed the flock. It results in using measurements for success from the world and seeking out the expertise of the world to grow as a pastor. That should be insane anathema but instead it is the accepted norm. Beam me up Scotty.

Reverend Anthony Wade - February 1, 2016

Authors Bio:
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 His purpose.