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Building the Castle Instead of the Kingdom

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And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. - Ephesians 4: 11-16 (ESV)

I have always said that no one has done more damage to modern Christianity than Rick Warren. His Purpose Driven Church model is the dominant church paradigm today. Many who would never quote Warren because they understand that he is a dominionist, ecumenical wolf will still adhere to the principles he has taught for decades regarding church organization and leadership. Here are the basic tenets of this destructive teaching with some commentary on each unbiblical point:

* The pastor is no longer a shepherd. He is instead a vision casting CEO who must always lead for the church that is coming instead of the church he has.

Seeker friendly pastor Andy Stanley is on record as saying that we should no longer use the world "shepherd" because it is not culturally relevant. This despite the fact that God uses it over and over again in the New Testament. The reality however is that the modern day pastor is no longer acting as a shepherd. They no longer cater to the flock. The sheep starve to death while a banquet of heretical pablum is served up each week to amuse the goats that are visiting. Christ is the CEO of the church beloved. The pastor is merely an under-shepherd, entrusted to watch over the flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. - Acts 20: 28-30 (ESV)

Nowhere in the Bible is there any mention of vision casting. It is a man made idea. We have a vision - it is called the Gospel. We have the vision caster - He is called Jesus.

* Language must always be tempered to not offend. The unsaved are now the unchurched. Thus the goal is to now "church" them, not save them.

I am not kidding. This term unchurched is routinely how Rick Warren and those who follow these leadership principles refer to the lost. It also gives serious insight into what the focus is really on. It is not about salvation. It is about churching. This is a perfect model for building a castle, but not the kingdom. Warren infamously wrote an article for pastors a couple years ago where in his advice for preaching on Easter he encouraged them to NOT preach the Gospel because they need to give their visitors a reason to come back next week! Because the model is to never offend the seeker, there can be no conversation about their state as a sinner and their need for repentance. Thus when the altar calls come it is designed to "invite Jesus into your heart" or "give Jesus a try." None of these alternatives actually lead to salvation because without repentance, there is no regeneration. All you have are goats who you try to teach to behave like sheep.

* You gear the church activities, worship, and sermons towards the unchurched, not the saved. It is the goats that matter - not the sheep.

In this year so far alone, we have seen during worship sets across the mega church landscape, Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus and the hit club song, "I like to Move It, Move It." We have seen one church put on a circus during service. Another had the pastor and his wife preaching via satellite from their kitchen about how to eat healthier. For Super Bowl Sunday one church had a mock Sportscenter Program and another preached on life lessons found in our favorite commercials. This is in less than six months and it only scratches the surface! There is seemingly no sense of crazy or level of irreverence churches are not willing to go to in order to appear relevant and convince those goats to come back next week.

It is not just worship either. The sermons in purpose driven churches are parodies of the Gospel at best. One mega church this year actually re-wrote the Ten Commandments so people would feel better about their sin. Another routinely preaches that we do not even have to worry about sin because God is never angry with us. We have seen sermon series ranging from your favorite super hero and how to spice up your sex life. The true sheep of God meanwhile are withering away on the vine. I have seen multiple purpose driven pastors insist that church is not for the sheep. That it is designed for the unchurched. That the moment you said amen to your altar call the church ceased to exist for you. I kid you not. Which leads us to our next point:

* Blessed subtraction is encouraged. This means anyone who complains is shown the door.

The term blessed subtraction is literally in the Purpose Driven Church, which all young gun pastors today read as their bible. The infamous sermon from Mars Hill Church, where Mark Driscoll gleefully refers to the sheep he has hurt as a "pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" actually began with the statement that Driscoll is "all about blessed subtraction." If you do not believe me, here is the audio:

Here is why this concept however contributes to building a castle and not the kingdom. The average time someone spends in a purpose driven mega church is less than three years. By that time, they see all the hypocrisy and figure out that they can get all of this worldliness in the world and do not need to wake up early on Sundays anymore. Not to mention the money they save from not tithing anymore. When they depart however, there is no shepherd anymore to leave the 99 and go find the one who has wandered off because the pastor thinks he is a CEO and not a shepherd! On top of that, he has been trained to believe that blessed subtraction is a good thing. The only thing he is focused on is the church that is coming next week. The next round of goats that he can convince to hang around for a couple of years. The end result is a perpetual cycling in and out of unsaved but fully churched goats who will discover on judgment day that they never actually knew Christ at all. The individual castle the CEO is building looks healthy because there are always huge amounts of people. The CEO and those around him all point to this as a sign of success or even divine favor so they never think anything is wrong. Meanwhile however the Christian landscape is dotted with these wandering goats and sheep who rarely return to organized church and become ripe for the devil to attack and bitterness to infect. The kingdom does not grow under the shadow of the mighty castle the CEO is building. The Tower of Babel in modern terms.

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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 (more...)
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