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August 1, 2018

Insight Into the Carnal Purpose Driven Church Growth Scheming Mind

By Anthony Wade

Reviewing a new church growth article outlining the seven signs your church is mediocre


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Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. -- Matthew 12: 30 (ESV)

I routinely peruse the church growth guru landscape to see the cutting edge of the next big heresy that the purpose driven church will introduce into the body of Christ. I do this so we are prepared when it comes to our churches and because the bible says to be wary of the schemes of the enemy. Yes beloved, those that have infiltrated the church through Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church are not doing the will of God and in fact are destroying God's church. Realize this encompasses the vast majority of churches today, many of whom have pastors raised and taught under Warrenology. Heretics like Andy Stanley and Mark Driscoll absolutely worship Warren and his teachings on how to become filthy rich as a pastor; I mean how to grow your church for the cause of Christ. One such guru that I regularly check in on is Carey Nieuwhof. Carey is always riding the next big carnal wave of absolute nonsense that the church will embrace. This week he penned an article (linked above) entitled "7 Signs Your Church Is Honestly, Mediocre" and with a title like that I had to see what he had to say. So let us reason together and ask yourself one question as you read along. Where is Jesus and His Gospel? Spoiler alert -- He is not to be found.

"One of the problems many churches face these days is that they're neither great at things or terrible at things. They're honestly just, mediocre. Facebook Live has made watching other churches' services easier than ever, and as I've scrolled through my Sunday morning feed or visited different churches over the years, I've been a little amazed at what I've seen. Unfortunately, there's a lot of mediocrity out there. That probably sounds judgmental, and I'm sorry if that's how it feels. But there's a lot at stake here. When your church is mediocre, it should be no surprise unchurched people aren't lining up to join you and that you're not attracting and keeping the amazing leaders who might attend your church but don't want to get involved because things are so sub-par." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Right from the start we see the focus of the purpose driven church. To have the "unchurched" lining up to join your church. Prior to the Warren thesis on carnal church growth pastors used to be concerned about their sheep, you know, as the Bible commands them to be. They viewed the "unchurched" as the unsaved and were far more interested in them accepting Christ than joining their church. Notice the focus on possibly missing "amazing leaders." This is another hallmark of purpose driven theology that seeks to create cults of personalities as the sheep are trained to follow the preacher instead of the Savior. If you do not believe me try explaining to a Joel Osteen adherent why their pastor is a wolf.

"And don't be discouraged. Every leader and every church can be great at something, regardless of size, budget or location. So it's not a question of being a large church or having a million dollars. It's a question of discovering what you can do well, how you can best express the mission of the church at the local level. It's a question of doing the best you can with what you have. So, how do you know your church is mediocre? Here are 7 signs to look for." -- Carey Nieuwhof

What is the mission of the church beloved? The purpose driven church model will swear that it is to reach the lost. I get that and understand completely why it is so easy to fall into that trap. The Great Commission does say to go into all the world and preach the Gospel but that was not a directive for the church but rather for the individual. We call it evangelism. The church design however is covered by a great portion of the Pauline letters and it is quite apparent that it was designed for the sheep, not the goats. Carey Nieuwhof and the purpose driven industrial complex wants the church solely focused on drawing the lost so they can get more customers. The sheep are considered selfish if they do not cater to the goats as well. In fact, if the sheep complain too much the purpose driven model says they are to be blessedly subtracted from the sheep pen. So the answer to Carey's dilemma here is quite simple. The preached Gospel is the best way to express the mission of the church at the local level. If the unsaved hear it and the spirit draws then God will see fit to add to the church number daily as He sees fit.

"1. You have non-singers singing and bad players playing. One sure sign you've settled into mediocrity is that on your music team, you have non-singers singing and bad players playing. We've all seen that happen. Singers are regularly off key or flat. Musicians are struggling to keep up with chord changes or can't quite get the rhythm right, all the while being glued to their music stands. And the only people who seem to be enjoying it are the people on the music team. Everyone else is wincing or zoned out, or has become so used to it they're now part of the problem. So why does this happen? First, too many church leaders value inclusion over gifting. You ask a few questions and you hear things like: Well, he really wanted to sing. She really loves the keyboard. He's so passionate about music. Yep, except they don't have the talent to match their enthusiasm." -- Carey Nieuwhof

The purpose driven church service is called an experience. It is a production, a show, a spectacle. It is designed to entertain. Jesus said He came to bring a sword that would divide families against themselves but the church today is so compromised away from this that their leaders think the number one sign your church is mediocre is that it has bad singers. Wow. Now, I am not suggesting that people who truly cannot sing should be in the choir but to pretend this is the reason why your church is mediocre is ridiculous. Beloved, if the unsaved do not wish to come to church I assure you it is not the fault of the talent level of the musicians. It is because they do not want God.

"Drill a little deeper, and you soon discover the people who realize this is a problem are far to scared to do anything about it. They feel paralyzed. How do I tell them? I'll hurt their feelings. Hey, they LOVE doing it. How can I tell them they don't have the gifting? And so we let the concrete of mediocrity harden and set because we're too scared to do anything about it. Instinctively you know you've caved into cowardice, but you just can't muster up the nerve to have the hard conversation. If you recognize yourself in this scenario, just know you have to make a choice. You either choose the feelings of three people who can't play or you choose the future and the dozens or hundreds of people you might reach if you actually improved your music." -- Carey Nieuwhof

People are reached through the music. Says no biblical text anywhere. Where is the sufficiency of the Gospel? Where is the sufficiency of Christ? This is what is fundamentally wrong at the heart of purpose driven theology. Warren teaches that it is the pastor who is responsible for the horizontal growth of the church when according to Acts 2, it is solely to responsibility of God. The pastor then abandons his actual responsibility -- oversight of the flock.

"2. Bad Production. In addition to sub-par music, many churches settle for bad production"poor sound, poor lighting and a mediocre team running it all. Often this is a case of trying to do too much. You're better off to have a few good tech things (like a great set of speakers or a few good lights) than to try to do many things poorly. Most churches overshoot their ability here, trying to get as much as possible for very little money. When faced with limited resources (and we ALL have limited resources) investing in a few quality pieces always beats buying a lot of cheap pieces. It's also important to find people who know how to run what you've bought, or even to invest a little in bringing in an expert who can train your team on how to run it. Having a decent soundboard and excellent speakers don't help much if your team has no idea how to run it. When it comes to production, doing a few things well always beats doing many things poorly." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Yes, after many years of biblical review, Nieuwhof has boiled the first two signs of a mediocre church to bad singing and poor sound equipment. I tell you what. Let's play his game and pretend you have all the resources you could want. You buy all the top of the line sound equipment and bring in professional singers, musicians and tech support. There are plenty of churches like that today. Just look at Lakewood, Saddleback or The Potters House. Yet none of them preaches the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Romans, no one gets saved then. So you have tens of thousands of people showing up each week to be entertained beyond their most carnal dreams -- and they are all still going to hell. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for this by saying they would travel the world for a single convert but in doing so make him twice the son of hell that they are.

"3. School Play Quality Live Streams. It's great to see many churches go online"and many churches big and small are now streaming their services. It's so easy to do with Facebook Live, other streaming services and a simple camera. But as you go online, ask yourself: would you watch you ? Honestly, I'll bet the answer a lot of the time is no. Many churches suffer from what I call 'school play' syndrome. Their services look like an elementary school play. Not great lighting, not great production, not great sound, and a lot of sincere people who really don't know what they're doing. Let's be honest. The ONLY reason you watch a school play is because your kid is in it. And the number one question you're asking the entire time is "when will this be over?" So question: if your church service looks like a school play online, why are you broadcasting it? If you're going to be online, audio and video quality matter. Again, you don't need a six or seven figure solution here to make it better. Making sure your online sound is captured through a good set of mics and mixer, a few well-placed lights and a decent camera will help immensely. If you can't get to the point where you can broadcast the music with decent quality, maybe just broadcast the message. The question worth asking is: am I helping people come to Christ by sharing this, or am I keeping people from Christ by sharing this? Maybe ask a few unchurched people who will tell you the truth to evaluate your stream. And don't get discouraged, you may be a few tweaks or simple purchases away from being school-play quality. All of this should help you accomplish the mission, not hinder the mission. And I'm just not sure school play quality broadcasts help much in most cases." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Are we sensing the disconnect yet? Does the Gospel matter at all? Can the Gospel overcome poor production? Can it overcome an uninspiring website or poor streaming? Now in a perfect world, these things should be worked on. We should strive for excellence in what we do but to believe that it affects whether or not people get saved should be anathema. That places our carnal tricks above the importance of the Gospel. Do we believe that God's Word will not return void or not?

"4. A Lame Website. Another sure sign you've settled for mediocrity is your website. Many churches build it and forget it. Sure, hopefully you update it with the current series and a few announcements, but no one has really taken the time to think through it deeply. Chances are everyone who visits your church for the first time in person has been to your website first. After all, that's exactly how you behave. You never go to a restaurant, hotel or even city without first checking it out online, and any new person is going to check your church out online before they visit. Act like that's true. Invest like that's true. Think like that's the case. The home page of your website should be built with your guest in mind. If you don't have a First Time, New Here, or Plan a Visit option with location and services on your front page, you're not thinking about your first-time guest. The most visited pages of your website will almost always be your home page, your message content and (believe it or not), your staff or team page. Making sure those are designed with the guest in mind can make the difference of someone deciding to come or to stay away. Mediocre churches are reluctant to invest time or money into their website. Smart churches do both." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Another technical scheme to draw unchurched people. Yes the website should be updated beloved but that is not the point. This is being presented as a top seven reason why a church is mediocre. We have been through four now and not one word about ensuring the full Gospel. Not one word about purity in worship. The truth is that the website of the church should be designed with the sheep in mind, not the goats. Why? Because the things of God are foolishness to the goats! Now Carey realizes that which is why everything he is trying to reach them with is purely carnal -- singers, lights, live-streaming and now the website. He even compares the management of the church to that of a restaurant except the church was never meant to be big business.

'5. Your Info Isn't Current. Few things tell you a church is mediocre more than out of date information. Whether it's your church sign advertising an event from last month, or still wishing everyone a happy 4th of July in August, or your church website or podcast is three weeks late on uploading the current sermons, having out of date information screams "we don't really care" to anyone passing by. And for sure there are reasons. The sign guy was sick. Or that unreliable website volunteer once again needs reminding. But again, all of that screams mediocrity. You'll have a hard time recruiting high capacity volunteers (and new people) into a culture that does a lot of shrugging and constantly sighs "oh well."' -- Carey Nieuwhof

The purpose driven model only thrives with plenty of volunteers. The shepherd gives up his shepherding duties to be the full time the vision casting leader. As with many of these items I agree in general principle that we should strive for the best in everything we do. The problem is promoting a church growth scheme devoid of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Do you know what says we do not care? Preaching a gospel that cannot save anyone. Refusing to discuss sin and the need to repent. Worrying about carnal minutia instead of eternal consequences. That says you do not care.

"6. You're Resigned to This. Maybe as you've read through this post you think there's no way out. You've resigned yourself to this. Don't. The surest way to ensure a mediocre future is to resign yourself to a mediocre present. I started in very small churches with not a lot of top-tier talent. I get what it's like to have to start with almost nothing. But if you focus on the best you have at the moment, and bring all of that to your mission, you will create a better future. Eventually, more and more talented people will emerge from the crowd and new people will join your mission, and soon you'll be so much further ahead. Was our band always great? No. Was every singer always on key? Nope. Did every volunteer always crush it? Of course not. But we did the best we could with what we had. And you'll soon discover if you do the best you can with what you have, your best keeps getting better. The path to an excellent future is this: constantly improve an average present. I have two full units in my Breaking 200 online course that will show you how to spot, recruit and develop the talent you have in your church that will move you into a far more excellent future. There are principles I learned as I led our church from small and rather unskilled in most ministry areas to where we are today (larger and with many gifted leaders)." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Notice the slight towards small churches. Not surprising coming from a mega church guru but quite telling. What I have found as these end days increase that you are less likely to get the uncompromised Gospel the larger the church becomes. I do not care if the talent is not top tier because they cannot save me nor grow me in my walk with God. Only the Gospel can. We do not need seven steps to a better marriage from the pulpit. We do not need to be the hero of every bible story. Then we come to the sales pitch? Bet you didn't even know you were being made merchandise of in this article but you were! For only $247 you can get this breaking 200 carnal cornucopia of purpose driven slop. For only $247 Carey can teach you how to care more about the quality of your sound system than the quality of the gospel you preach. Only one sign of a mediocre church left.

"7. You're Afraid to Change. So maybe you don't want to resign yourself and your church to mediocrity, but you're afraid to change. I get that. But change bridges the gap between what is and what could be. It bridges the gap between a not-great present and better future. At some point you have to ask yourself, what should I fear more as a leader: change, or never accomplishing the mission? Now go and accomplish your mission." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Beloved. The mission of Carey Nieuwhof is not the mission of Jesus Christ. The mission of the purpose driven church only serves Satan, not the cause of Christ. The bible makes it abundantly clear in the key verses that we either are gathering people to Him or scattering them away. There simply is no third option. The bible also says that no one gets saved without the uncompromised Gospel and in order to draw the unsaved one must compromise the Gospel. I am no math expert but I can figure out this equation pretty easily. Keep your carnal church growth schemes and give me the Gospel.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- August 1, 2018

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.