July 16, 2018
Purposefully Driving to Hell
By Anthony Wade
A new leadership article from the Purpose Driven Industrial Complex shows what is wrong with the majority of churches today...
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: 46-47 (ESV)
Christianity is big business. The Purpose Driven Industrial Complex has metastasized into a billion dollar global enterprise. With a wink and a nod everyone swears it is all for Jesus but a closer examination reveals it is pure carnality and greed. The complex applies basic business models of growth to what is supposed to be a spiritual endeavor. The pastor's role changes from shepherd to CEO. God designed the church so that the pastors would be responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep he has been entrusted with. It is God who is responsible for the growth horizontally. We see this very clearly in the summation of the first church in Acts 2; the key verses today. The people concentrated on fellowship, corporate togetherness, studying Scripture and the breaking of bread. It was the Lord that added to their number day by day, those being saved. We see the same principle reinforced by the Apostle Paul:
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. -- 1Corinthians 3: 5-7 (ESV)
God gives the growth to the church, not man. That growth is determined by the preaching of the Gospel, not the size of your kidz ministry or setting up your own coffee shops inside the church. This truth is despite what people like Tony Morgan think. Morgan is the founder of an organization called The Unstuck Group. He fancies himself a church growth expert who can help your church if it is "stuck"; meaning not growing in numbers. What he fails to realize is he removes God from all of his solutions and equations. God does not need our help with His plans. The instructions in the Great Commission or in the Pauline letters explaining church did not include hire the best carnal consultants to game the system. The idea is not to lure people into your church with the same pablum they can get from the world. Only the Gospel has the power unto God to save them. Not your worship leader's faux Mohawk or the best smoke machines available. Let us reason together once more beloved through the latest article from Morgan linked above.
The title, " Want to Reach New People? These 10 Habits Set Your Church Back." Reveals the underlying flaw in purpose driven theology. The church should not be in the business of reaching new people. What? You heard me. One of the greatest schemes of the devil is to convince those charged with running the church to not do it as the Bible outlines. The church is not meant to be a hospital for the wounded or any other silly analogy. It is meant for the protection and growth of the sheep. Do we want the unsaved to come in? Sure! Where else will they hear the Gospel that can change their lives? The purpose driven mantra is to never offend the lost and the reality is the Gospel is meant to offend. They are sinners like you and I and need a Savior. If that message turns them of? So be it. Watering it down however saves no one. We begin:
"What is the first-time guest experience really like at your church? When my team at The Unstuck Group helps a church assess ministry health, one key step we take is to attend and review the church's weekend experience through the lens of an outsider. That's because once you see what an outsider sees, you can't unsee it. Serving in 100+ churches each year, we've started to notice some patterns. What are the most common offenses? Here are the Top 10--the biggest issues with the weekend that we see the most often. Keep in mind, these are only issues for churches that actually want to reach new people" One last thing before I get to the list: Many of these issues show up in the "secret shopper" reports for large churches just as often as in small churches." -- Tony Morgan
Note the usage of the term "experience." This is a code word in the purpose driven landscape. It is no longer hip to call it church. Nope. Instead it is a "worship experience." No thanks, I will stick to what God called it and leave the world of human wisdom to the experts like Tony Morgan. I know this is anathema to most who attend seeker driven churches but as long as the Gospel is preached, I do not care much about the experience the visitor might have to a given church.
"1. The Guest Services area is staffed with people who don't engage with newcomers. The church feels like a private club. Guest service team members are more engaged with one another than with newcomers. Guest services are the "first" in "first impressions." If this team is off, my visit is off within minutes." -- Tony Morgan
Now, I have always found the welcome staff at evangelical churches to be positively gushing to meet new people, so I am unsure where Morgan has been visiting. I will agree the object is not to be rude however the truth continues to elude Mr. Morgan. It is a private club. The Gospel is exclusive which is why so many in the world hate Jesus. He is not one way to heaven -- He is the only way. So I agree people would be friendly but the only thing that matters to the first time visitor is that they heard the Gospel.
"2. The church didn't welcome me and help me know what to expect. There's a general lack of guiding visitors through the worship experience and explaining what to do in the different elements of the services, like singing, offering, etc. Specifically welcoming new people is frequently missed. Someone yells "welcome" and then all of a sudden people start standing up, and then they sing. The only place I sing is in my car or in my shower. Guide me a little more. Invite me to sing, but give me permission to just take it in." -- Tony Morgan
Ugh. You have to be kidding me. These are not children. I remember my first Pentecostal church service. I was confused at first but I could see what others were doing. This is recurring theme throughout a purpose driven church. Everything is about the goats often at the expense of the sheep. You're being nice to them, and giving them more direction cannot save them.
"3. People on stage don't reflect the church's target "customer." The people on the platform should non-verbally communicate this is a safe place, a normal place, to the people you are trying to reach" just by being who they are. Many times the platform presence doesn't reflect that. A lot of churches miss the "75% rule"--having 75% of people on the platform in the same age range (or below) as the people you are trying to reach." -- Tony Morgan
Are you insane? First of all there are no "customers." If there are customers then everything has become transactional. Our Lord and Savior become a product to market and sell. I have seen mega church pastors implore the lost to "try Jesus out" like He was a used car. Give Him a test drive! The Bible says that we are a peculiar people -- not a safe space. The platform presence should be people filled with the Holy Spirit who walk according to the Bible. Their age is completely irrelevant. While we are on the subject, pastors please stop trying to dress like your youth. There is nothing more condescending to young people then listening to a 50 year old man in skinny jeans, a plaid shirt and hipster glasses.
"4. The service order feels like an assembly of separate parts, rather than a cohesive experience. Stop"start"stop"start" Nothing makes me check my watch more than a herky-jerky service. We sing two songs, there's a video announcement, there are live announcements, we have a song for offering, message, another song, communion, closing announcement, benediction" An unchurched person will be thinking, "Get me out. Land the plane."' -- Tony Morgan
Hate to break it to you Tony but everyone unsaved will be thinking get me out of here because they are unsaved! The things of God are foolishness to them it does not matter what order you choose for your service. It does not matter how many parts there are to it. I agree that a church service should run smoothly but to be honest I could care less if it is not as long as I hear the Gospel.
"5. The message is too long. Especially if there were already a lot of other service elements (see the last point), I'm not gassed up for a 45-50 minute message. Tighten it up, add a story, make it applicable, and send me on my way." -- Tony Morgan
Not gassed up for a 45 minute sermon? Too bad. The notion that proper exegesis of Scripture might take 45 minutes does not indicate a need to "tighten it up." If anything, watering it down to 20 minutes is "loosening it up." Add a story? What is this nap time at a day care center? Make it applicable and send you on your way? How does this work:
You are a hell-bound sinner in desperate need of a Savior.
Is that applicable enough for you? This is a prominent problem within the purpose driven mindset. The church is not supposed to entertain people. Seriously. There is not supposed to be a cutting edge worship band with all classically trained choir voices. There shouldn't be disco lighting and smoke machines. There is no need for hipster pastors who can relate to "where you are at." There doesn't need to be 20 minute sermonettes about how this is our best life now or seven steps to a better marriage. All of that serves only to distract from what is needed -- the Gospel.
"6. Lack of application or next steps in the message. I've given you an hour--give me something specific to take away that applies to my real life today." -- Tony Morgan
Once again the arrogant transactional attitude on display. We must understand what is going on here is that the purpose driven models of church growth have taken out the offense of the Gospel. There is no discussion of sin, the cross or the need to repent. As such, church no longer is dealing with eternal issues so it must pivot to temporal ones. Tony Morgan actually believes it is a good idea for churches to be in the business of application to real life today. A few years back Rick Warren wrote an article for pastors giving tips for how to make sure Easter visitors came back the following week. One of those tips was to NOT preach the Gospel. Instead he said start a sermon series that speaks to their lives now such as finding significance or having better relationships. He said you had to give them a reason to want to come back and Gospel would not work. Wow.
"7. Lack of security in the children's area. If I can walk off the street into your kid's area, that's a problem. My team often finds unlocked, dark, rooms in the same hallway as kids programming, along with unattended external exits. This is an issue we see far, far too often." -- Tony Morgan
I would agree. Churches do live in the real world and should take all necessary precautions when it comes to how they deal with children.
"8. The bulletins/programs are too crowded. It looks like the Cheesecake Factory menu. What on earth am I supposed to choose to pay attention to? This is a key first impression piece for a new person. It should welcome them, tell them what to expect and provide key info on kids ministry. Unfortunately, many churches view it as the way to keep all the insiders informed." -- Tony Morgan
Attacking the Cheesecake Factory? Heretic. Seriously it seems as if he is running out of serious points because this is getting pretty petty. Notice the division the purpose driven mindset operates under. There are those everything should be geared towards and then -- the insiders! Those vile people who already belong to the church who for some silly reason think they still matter! They literally do not according to the Purpose Driven Church. Rick Warren recommends that pastors encourage dissenters to leave the sheepfold! He calls it "blessed subtraction." You see as long as you replace the one sheep with two goats, you are ok because it is about numbers of bodies in the pew, not the number of souls saved.
"9. Too many specific, insider-focused announcements instead of a few church-wide announcements. I would add that many churches waste announcement time telling me about all the logistics of what their people could be doing instead of leveraging that time to communicate the "why" behind the activity. They use the time to say, "Small groups will start next week, at 7 pm, in room 202, which is up the steps and down the hall." What would be more meaningful? Share a personal story about your small group and then challenge people who aren't connected to get in one. And really, just stop announcing so many things all together. Point people to your website." -- Tony Morgan
Yeah! Cause everyone has a computer and is skilled at navigating the Internet, right? The bottom line here is that someone cannot sit still for three minutes while announcements are being made then they can leave. That may sound harsh but remember; when you do not operate under the purpose driven model, you have not begged anyone to come to your church. They are there because they either want to or need to. They will survive three minutes of announcements. The church belongs to the insiders beloved. If you are in a church that says otherwise and keeps trying to trick the unsaved to come in, you need to run as fast as possible. Realize that all of what we have reviewed shows that the purpose driven model focuses the church on the goats that might be visiting instead of the sheep that belong to Christ. The opposite presented is the notion of the insiders but that misses the mark. A true church does not focus on the insiders but rather on Christ and His Gospel. This will in turn feed the sheep and potentially save the goats. You don't have to point people to your website, stop handing out bulletins, or even stop making announcements. Just preach the Gospel and let God Give the increase.
"10. The feel of the church--the interior design--feels like nothing else I experience outside the church. It's brown. There are bulletin boards, plastic flowers in the restrooms, churchy banners that mean nothing to an outsider, and sometimes worn out carpet, furniture, and funky smells. The church members and staff have been nose-blind to it all for years, but a new person who steps through your front door will instantly notice all of it. Your first thought reading that list might be that having an outsider attend your service and point all of these things out would be discouraging. Oddly enough, the opposite tends to be true. This experience is one of our clients' favorite phases of the whole planning process. Why? Because as I said at the beginning, once you SEE what an outsider SEES, you can't UNSEE it. If you want to reach new people, start trying to see yourself the way they see you. And, start looking at them the way Jesus looks at them: with a willingness to leave the 99 for the one." -- Tony Morgan
Can you spot the surreal biblical disconnect? The 99 and the 1 were all sheep. They were not goats. Jesus looks upon the unsaved as He does much of the church today -- they are sheep without a shepherd. The shepherd has been replaced by a ruthless CEO who takes strategy advice from Tony Morgan and thinks those who need to grow in Christ are "insiders." Beloved, this is serious business because this is how the vast majority of churches are run today. Instead of a gospel-centric approach it is a goat-centric approach. Instead of a pastor you get a huckster in the form of Monte Hall who wants to make a deal with you. This is a transactional event now. You show up most Sundays, tithe me 10% of your income and service in a ministry and I promise you can have eternal life and sin without repentance. That's the product the purpose driven church is selling. That is how so many will get to this point:
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' -- Matthew 7: 22-23 (ESV)
Read that again. These are churched people beloved. They were prophesying, witnessing miracles and confronting demonic forces! They bought the purpose driven product not realizing it was fool's gold. They stand before the Lord and Lords and suddenly they realize that the God they thought they were serving for decades never even knew them. They were churched beloved. They were motivated. They were driven. They were purpose driven straight to hell. The purpose driven industrial complex is a financial machine. Experts like Tony Morgan know just how to grease the wheels of that machine to get it rolling. His answers and suggestions however are the worst of human wisdom; designed to entertain the lost and lose the saved.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 16, 2018
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.