The annual Leadership Summit from Willow Creek is nearly upon us and you can smell the sheer carnality of it all...
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. -- 1Corinthians 11: 1 (NIV)
The key verse seems pretty straightforward. It does not appear ambiguous or confusing. It is the leadership paradigm that God has provided for the leaders in His church. Do not seek advice about leadership from the world. Do not even seek it from friends or family. There is no need to because God has already given us Jesus Christ and He is sufficient for all things. That is what Paul is simply trying to say here. Christ is our leader so we follow Him. If you see me following Him then follow my example. These are your leadership principles from the Bible. The purpose driven church however has become obsessed with carnal leadership. They have become obsessed with what the most worldly leadership experts suggest instead of following the Biblical principles. It should not be surprising since the model does not believe in the primacy or sufficiency of Scripture to begin with. It also should not be surprising since the goals are carnal. Sure it is always couched in pious talk about growing the kingdom but all it really promotes is growing individual fiefdoms.
In pursuit of the cutting edge carnal leadership schemes, the church will go to no end. There are now entire careers made for people just to provide consultation to churches about how to "grow" or "multiply." Because the purpose driven church model is a carnal business model to begin with it would only make sense to pursue carnal business models of leadership through which to grow it. Follow my example as I follow the example of Bill Gates. The cornerstone hallmark however of the Churchianity Leadership world is the annual Willow Creek Church Global Leadership Summit. This flesh driven exercise in gratuitous self-promotion will be broadcast to 128 countries in over 60 languages. Now, one would think that given this is supposed to be a Christian event, hosted at a mega church, that the lineup of speakers would be chock full of influential church leaders to provide their perspective on how they follow Christ. Right?
Twenty-three percent. That is it beloved. Twenty-three percent of the speakers at this conference will actually claim to share Christian beliefs as we do. Three out of the 13 scheduled speakers. Now do not get me wrong. I am sure that the nine non-believing speakers are masters in their fields. I am sure they will be dynamic speakers who can truly impart some fine carnal leadership training. That is not the point. You do not go to a mechanic who doubts that cars exist. No matter how smart, well versed, and eloquent they might be they all still think the things of God are foolishness to them. No matter how compelling their stories may be. That is not the point. What can they possibly teach church leaders about leadership if their starting point is not follow me as I follow Christ? So let us reason together as we peruse the lineup of speakers for this year's edition of the Willow Creek Church Global Carnal Leadership Conference
Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, has led a brilliant career by all accounts. She is widely considered one of the foremost women leaders in this country. Her passion however seems to be in corporate feminism. In getting more women more recognition and responsibility. I pass no judgment upon that from a worldly perspective it just has no place in the church. One of the problems infecting modern churchianity is the infiltration of carnal paradigms, such as the feminist movement, into doctrines that for thousands of years have been correctly understood. Ms. Sandberg is Jewish, so I hardly would expect her to know the Apostle Paul's teaching as divinely inspired by God, but Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek should know better.
Marcus Buckingham -- author of Discover Your Strengths and The One thing You Need to Know. He is a worldwide speaker sought out for his vision of a "strengths-based revolution." True Christian doctrine does not spend one iota on determining our individual strengths but rather the strength of the God we serve. If anything, the church needs to not revolt based upon strengths but upon our weaknesses. It is within our weaknesses that He becomes strong. Are you wondering what the one thing you need to know is? I wonder if it is Jesus? Is it faith? The atonement? No. Marcus Buckingham believes the one thing you need to know is to discover what you don't like and stop doing it. What I don't like is church leaders taking their cues for leadership from people who do not know the risen Savior. I wish they would stop.
Bryan Stevenson -- lawyer, social justice activist, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which represents the incarcerated who may have had poor or no representation.
Gary Haugen -- lawyer and founder/CEO of International Justice Mission protecting the poor throughout the world from violence.
I put these two together because of the similarities of their profiles. It seems they do admirable work in the world. Beloved this is not an exercise in tearing down these individuals. They ought to be applauded worldwide for trying to protect the innocent and poor and make sure that injustices are corrected. Not enough people are prepared to speak truth to power so I commend them for such but they know nothing about the God we serve and the church's role in these end times. Some might say that we ought to be able to glean life lessons and to that I say no as well. This is about how to lead the church as we head towards the second coming of Jesus Christ. No offense to Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Haugen but I will follow Paul as he follows Christ.
Juliet Funt -- Founder and owner of WhiteSpace at Work, a performance improvement and productivity firm.
Marcus Lemonis -- CEO of Camping World, which sells recreational vehicles. CEO of Good Sam Enterprises, which provides products aimed towards people who own recreational vehicles. Reality TV star
Laszlo Bock -- former Senior Vice President at Google
I put these three together because of the complete detachment from what they do to the Great Commission and the Bible. You can make an argument that the two previous gentlemen are least waging war in a biblical arena when it comes to taking care of the poor and marginalized in this world. But what exactly do these three have to do with the church or the Bible at all? One runs a productivity and performance improvement firm. One sells recreational vehicles. The last one is a former Vice President at Google. All outstanding I am sure from a worldly point of view but completely irrelevant to the church and its mission.
Immacule'e Ilibagiza -- survivor of Rwandan Holocaust of the 1990s. She became a motivational speaker about forgiveness after she forgave her family's killers and also a renowned author. She truly must have a heart wrenching and compelling story to tell but it is apart from our faith. She is an avowed Catholic who wrote a book about how the Rosary prayer saved her life. Not God or Christ, but the Rosary prayer. Included in this prayer is the veneration and deification of Mary. One of the "mysteries" one must pray about while praying the Rosary is called the Coronation, which according to Catholic myth is when Mary was crowned Queen of heaven and earth. Ilibagiza openly states that to this day she prays the Rosary daily and credits it with helping her in every aspect of her life, from literally saving her life to strengthening her faith, easing sorrows, changing heartache into happiness, healing illnesses in herself and others, solving family problems, landing a dream job, finding long-lost friends, and even locating lost keys! She claims to have received so many blessings from the rosary, in fact, that she decided to study its history and origins. In doing so she now believes that it was not just meant for Catholics, but that the Virgin Mary promised a life filled with blessings to everyone from any religion who faithfully recites the rosary daily. So, powerful story of forgiveness and hope? Sure, but what is she doing speaking to church leaders about how to lead their churches?
Angela Duckworth -- academic, psychologist and author. Focuses on grit and perseverance.
Fredrik Haren -- business creativity expert from Sweden.
These are the final two secular speakers and they could have been lumped in with what we have already discussed. I am sure their worldly accomplishments make them nearly peerless but they still think the things of God are utter foolishness. The church does not need to be more academic. It does not need pop psychology. It certainly does not need to be more creative. It needs to go back to the cross and leave everything to the Gospel. Its leaders need to follow Christ so others might follow them to do the same. Here is the really bad news beloved. These nine speakers are more positive than the three remaining speakers who claim to share our faith.
Bill Hybels -- Pastor Hybels is the founding pastor of Willow Creek Church in Illinois. Hybels' brand of seeker friendly church actually pre-dates the purpose driven model by a couple of decades. Hybels canvassed the neighborhood asking what the unbelievers wanted or disliked about church. The overwhelming response was that they did not like all the crosses. So Hybels removed all crosses from his new church and the compromise has continued ever since. He is one of the forerunners and architects of the demonic doctrines tearing apart the bride of Christ in these end times. All one has to do is look at this lineup for his crowning accomplishment, the Summit, and realize how deep he is in the world.
Sam Adeyemi -- Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre in Nigeria. Despite news not being prevalent here in the US for African preachers, he is widely known as a financial prosperity preacher in Nigeria, where 60% of the population lives in abject poverty.
Andy Stanley -- poster-child for purpose driven heretics. The son of beloved pastor Charles Stanley, Andy has carved out a sizable piece of the purpose driven pie. As the years have gone on he has fallen farther and farther away from established doctrines. He once said that the church should not use the term "shepherd" anymore since it is not culturally relevant. The reality is he simply is not a shepherd. He is a hireling who has drunk the purpose driven Kool Aid. He sees himself as a vision casting CEO instead. Last year he raised quite a controversy by essentially denying the sufficiency of Scripture. Upset that so many of his youth would walk away from the faith after going away to college, Stanley proposed that the church needed to move away from the infallibility of Scripture and instead deal with the factual stories within the Bible. These are actual quotes from his sermon last year:
"If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, then as the Bible goes so goes our faith. This is why you sent your kids off to college and they came back with no faith. If the Bible is the foundation of our faith then it is all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards religion. It comes tumbling down when we discover that perhaps the walls of Jericho did not. In archeology class they're told "we excavated the city of Jericho. By the way there is no evidence that a Hebrew people made some sort of trek from Egypt to Canaan. Do you know there are all sorts of contradictions in the OT? There's all these facts and figure that do not add up. By the way, the Bible seems to teach that the earth is only six thousand years old and everybody knows the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 14.5 million years old." If the entire Bible isn't true then the Bible isn't true and all of Christianity comes tumbling down." -- Andy Stanley
"Consequently, Christians have always felt they had to defend the Bible. If you read broadly however you discover that it is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible. You may be able to hang on to the Bible but your kids and grand kids will not. If you left Christianity because you found out the Bible was fallible you left unnecessarily." -- Andy Stanley
"Now I challenge you to embrace the grown up God. Jesus loves me this I know because Matthew tells me so and he walked with Jesus; because Luke tells me so and he was really detailed; because Paul tells me so and he once persecuted the church; because His original followers were martyred believing so. The reason why you should consider following Jesus is not because the Bible says so." -- Andy Stanley
There is a simple word for this and that is heresy. What Stanley fails to realize is that his youth did not "fall away" when they went to college. They were probably never saved to begin with. When you compromise the Gospel you compromise the only thing with the power to save anyone. The world can postulate scientific reasons for the ten plagues of Egypt or discounting the falling of the walls of Jericho but that does not make them right. And this man, who thinks so little about the Word of God, is the most prominent Christian speaker at a mostly carnal church leadership conference.
That should not be surprising beloved. The Willow Creek Leadership Summit has long been a bastion of humanistic teaching that Christians then apply to leading the church of God. The results are all around us. Mega churches growing beyond capacity filled with people who do not know Jesus Christ. They got what they wanted though. Club music and lighting. The best performers. A cult of personality leader to be motivated by. A little shout out to Jesus just to spiritualize the "experience." No crosses though because after all, the cross offends. So does the Gospel. The Willow Creek Leadership Conference? Not so much.
Unless you are truly saved by Christ and you can discern for yourself how offensive this all is to God. To organize an international conference about how to lead the church and have it be facilitated by the father of seeker friendly apostasy, a raving purpose driven heretic, a financial prosperity pimp and nine people who do not even know Christ. We would be wise to not follow this lead beloved.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 14, 2017
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.