What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. - Romans 3: 9-10 (ESV)
"Kensington is a place where everyone can belong, contribute, and make a difference. Our goal for you is that once you walk through our doors, you will feel welcome as well as feel like this place is like home to you and your family. Our hope when you are with us is that you will feel the warm welcome and hospitality of a group of people that are excited you are there and interested in getting to know you."
If you read the above quotes from a website but did not know what Kensington was, could you tell it was a church? Could it just as easily be talking about a new community center or neighborhood program? Is there any mention of God at all? These are actually three snippets from three different site pastors of Kensington Church in Michigan. They currently have seven sites and an annual operating budget of 10 million dollars. You know, just like Jesus designed in Acts, sigh. In fairness, some of these pastors did at least mention God but whenever He was referenced it was always couched in seeker speak to assure those unsaved readers that church is not there for God. It is all about you:
"We believe that God loves everybody (I mean everybody) and He has an incredible plan for your life. I hope you'll check out the Orion Campus and discover a Jesus who loves you and a mission worth your life."
Now beloved let's not get lost in the weeds here. God does love everybody. He loved them so much that He sent His only Son to die for their sins. The problem is that most people do not truly love God. Sure they love the bumper sticker God they create. They love God as long as He does not try and actually be God in their lives. The cold harsh reality is that we love our sins more than God. So we excuse our sins. We marginalize them. Make ourselves feel better about them by comparing them to other people's sins. God? We simply recreate Him in our own image. To fit our sins. To truly be what we seek after - ourselves as God.
Does God have an incredible plan for your life? Absolutely. For Peter that plan was to be crucified upside down. For Dietrich Bonhoeffer it was to die in a German concentration camp while proclaiming Christ. Do you want to know the real incredible plan God has for your life? To save it. Eternally. To see you come to penitent faith in His only Son.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. - 2Peter 3: 9 (ESV)
So yes, God does have an incredible plan for your life but I do not think we understand what that actually might mean. For the Apostle Paul, God once said that He would show him how much he must suffer for His name. The problem with the seeker friendly, purpose driven church model is they pretend that this purpose is about you when it is supposed to be about God. The king of the seeker friendly world is Joel Osteen and his wife made headlines last year by admitting that even the act of worship for them was a selfish act when she said this in a service:
"I just want to encourage us to realize when we obey God, we are not doing it for God. I mean that is one way to look at it. We are doing it for ourselves. Because God takes pleasure when we are happy. That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning - just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church. When you worship. You're not doing that for God really. You're doing it for yourself. Because that's what makes God happy. Amen?" - Victoria Osteen
No Victoria. You do not get an amen for making worship to be about you. But that is the slope that the seeker friendly, purpose driven churches are on. When you make church out to be about the unsaved then you are no longer about the Father's business. Instead, you have traded that in for the entertainment business. All of the sermons must be culturally hip and relevant as opposed to biblically accurate and convicting. The true purpose is no longer about saving souls but rather it is about expanding your church membership. To do that, you have to make the unbeliever feel as if their life of sin is OK. That this "Jesus thing" is something they can just try out. Hang out for awhile, see if you like it. What blasphemous nonsense. As Victoria indicated however, true seeker friendly, purpose driven worship is no longer about God. It is about entertaining unsaved goats. We saw this earlier in the year when one mega church played Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Hillsong London performed the club hit, "I Like to Move It, Move It." During corporate worship. Kensington Church will not be outdone however. Here is a clip from an opening part of a recent "worship experience" at Kensington:
Yes beloved, that was All Night Long by Lionel Richie. The song about life being so good you just have to dance in the streets. Jamming all night long. I remember the song growing up in the 80s but I do not recall it ever having anything to do with God. At all. Like not even close. So why one should ask, is this the opening song of a church service? Because that is the false teaching of seeker friendly, purpose driven church growth plans. One pastor actually played ACDC's "Highway to Hell" before giving a sermon this year. Another church had a live rodeo in the sanctuary where the pastor rode a bull. Yes, a live bull. Another church turned the sanctuary of God into a motocross track and had professional motocross personalities there to perform jumps for the congregation.
But Kensington is not all about false worship. They are also about false messages. They follow the blueprint for seeker friendly, purpose driven church and then some. On their website you can find a "Getting Started" manual, which is chock full of absurdities that fly in the face of the Bible but would make Rick Warren proud. The first page openly admits that they are messy imperfect people who just want to have a dialogue with you. So "check em out" and "let's talk." If this language sounds familiar it is because you can hear it at every single seeker friendly church in this country. When Carl Lentz, site pastor for Hillsong NYC, was asked to state where his church stood on gay marriage his answer was that they had a stance on love and everything else was a conversation. It reminds me of the Garden of Eden. The mistake Eve made was before she ate the fruit. It was in engaging in the conversation. But despite being messy, imperfect people, Kensington promises that you will receive "relevant messages, backed up by top-notch music and creative arts." This is another staple of seeker friendly, purpose driven theology. That there are no more "sermons." Instead there are messages that strive to be relevant to the unsaved. In order to accomplish that of course you have to be relevant to the world, even though the Bible says to be friends with the world is to be enemies of God. Nevertheless, Kensington marches on and in case you think I am kidding, here are the titles of the last four messages given:
"The Best is Yet to Come"
"Needy People (Why you and the church need each other)"