For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
As we come out from the shadow of Christmas and the birth of our Lord and Savior, we turn our gaze towards the future and the cross. Because the birth of Jesus must result in His death. The manger must lead to Calvary or else all hope is lost. The virgin birth is crucial for it establishes a sinless perfection and confirms prophecy. The empty tomb however completes the plan of Almighty God to reconcile Himself back to His fallen creation. The most important day in our faith is indeed Resurrection Sunday. It is where our blessed hope originates from. Behold! Why do you seek the living among the dead! Hallelujah!
It should not be lost on us that this day also happens to be the number one day for visitors to the church. Even more so than Christmas. Innately, the creation of God seems aware of the sacrifice made on Golgotha and for one day out of the year at least, they seem willing to pay their respects to God. These people represent the unsaved beloved. People who desperately need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ because as our key verse reminds us, it is the only thing that has the power to save them. They need to hear that God sacrificed His only Son so that they might have eternal life. They need to hear that they can be forgiven. They need to hear the word repent. Tomorrow is promised to no one beloved and if they venture through the church doors one time during the entire year -- they better hear the Gospel.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of churches in this country they will not. Yes, you heard that right. You see, the vast majority of churches in this country ascribe to the Warren Theology of the Purpose Driven Church (PDC) and the PDC is not about the unsaved. They are about the unchurched. The Gospel is secondary. Sure it gets plenty of lip service but while it is a "foundational need"; it is apparently not enough of a reason to convince the unchurched to come back again. Don't believe me? Here are the words of the master himself just a few short years ago:
"Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either begin a sermon series on Easter or the next week -- and make sure it's a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the Gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that's their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship, want a better marriage, want to be a better parent, want to feel they're living a life of significance or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It'll give them a reason to come back to your church." -- Rick Warren 2014
This was an article to pastors about how to increase the return rate of visitors from Easter, which was coming up on the calendar. The needs of an unchurched person? Are you kidding me? They need the Gospel Rick. Not your pablum of purpose driven slop disguised as Christianity. Salvation is not just their foundational need. It is their entire need. What good I being a better parent and going to hell? What difference does it make to feel significant only to suffer eternal torment? Give them a reason for coming back to your church? Is that the new goal in Christianity? The answer in the church growth scheme circles is a resounding yes. They mistakenly correlate attendance to salvation. So if the church shows a 10% growth rate, they assume 10% more people have been saved but remember the key verse! There is ZERO chance of someone being saved apart from the Gospel so take your seven part series on temporal significance and expel it from your church! I do not find it coincidental that the opening of the key verse implicates the true state of the heart of people like Rick Warren. They are ashamed of the Gospel. Purpose driven pastors who compromise and refuse to preach Christ and Him crucified for fear that the unsaved may not come back the following week are not fit for the pulpit beloved. They are ashamed of the very thing they are supposed to represent. Remember the Gospel is meant to offend:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. -- Matthew 10: 34-35 (ESV)
The Gospel is meant to offend. It is meant to see people not come back the following week after hearing it. But the seed has been planted nonetheless. Our job is not make sure the person is "churched" because there are plenty of people who will be churched on the final day only to realize they were never saved. Don't believe me? Let's meet some:
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 I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' -- Matthew 7: 22-23 (ESV)
Didn't we cast out demons in your name? Didn't we perform mighty works in your name? Didn't we attend Lakewood Church for 30 years? Didn't we serve in the usher ministry at the Potter's House for twenty years? Didn't we run life groups for Saddleback Church for decades? Away from me! I never knew you! I say this as a backdrop because Easter is but a few months away and Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex is already gearing up. They see Easter as a chance to pad their numbers. To gain a new slate of faithful tithers and ministry workers. You must understand that is how the purpose driven church operates. It is how it survives. It applies the majority of the monies collected for building and salaries. The bulk of the work is done by unpaid "ministry workers" who have been convinced that the nursery is their "purpose." Sure there is also a five percent faux mission fund but even congregants who wish to participate are usually expected to pay their own way. I have seen one local church that had a pastor's wife start a gofundme page to raise five thousand dollars so she could "drop" her Christian rap single. She of course raised the money as people are more into pastor worship than God worship these days. Recently the same church has a pastor asking for a couple of thousand dollars through gofundme so he can buy a new laptop, which he needs for work! It is beyond unseemly and inappropriate. Once again, in case you think some of this is just Chicken Little hyperbole, here is the ad I saw today from one of the purpose driven leadership websites for their new e-book on maximizing your Easter service:
Pastors and Church Leaders,
Easter is the Super Bowl of church attendance -- don't go into it without a playbook. The church has a unique opportunity every Easter Sunday to reach thousands of the unchurched who step through your doors, maybe for the first time this year, maybe for the first time ever. Are you ready for them?
The Super Bowl? Ugh. If you want a playbook might I suggest the Bible? Beloved this is the purpose driven mindset and we must recognize it. If you go to your church on Resurrection Sunday and your pastor is preaching some silly sermon series that cannot save anyone, you need to ask him why he is ashamed of the Gospel! The Bible warns us thoroughly about relying upon human cunning and carnal wisdom and this is exactly what is meant by it! We have a slice of the mind of God Himself. A book we believe to be entirely God-breathed, useful for everything! Completely unchanging, inerrant and infallible. Contained within the Gospel pages is the very power of God to save the lost. The only thing that can save them. But this genius thinks he has a better plan than God. He thinks he has figured out something God must have missed. You don't need the Word of the Creator of the entire universe. No; you need a playbook. This is the Super Bowl after all and it requires something different than just that old book. After all there will be untold numbers of unchurched people coming in"
Except they are not unchurched! They are unsaved! They are apart from God and are staring at an eternity in torment and suffering and you want to preach to them about being a better parent?? Are you serious? Even if we play by your purpose driven carnality and assume that your fantastic sermon series convinces them to come back the following week. What if their life is required of them in between the two Sundays? You had one chance to preach the Gospel to them and instead you spoke to them about feeling more significant. Then they died. This is not some game. This is not the Super Bowl. This is not about your precious church attendance or generating new revenue. Preach the Gospel or get the hell out of the pulpit.