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)
We often have these idealistic thoughts that dominate our thinking and one of them is church should be a place where no one gets hurt. While ideally true, the church is made up of other humans and therefore the notion of creating a Utopia is simply not plausible. Humans hurt other humans. We are in fact pretty good at it. That includes Christians who have mastered the art of hurting people and feeling morally justified in doing so. The scourge of the church hurt phenomenon has accelerated in these the last days. The love of most inside the church is growing cold. A significant factor contributing to this is how pastors are taught today within the Purpose Driven Industrial Complex. Fifty years ago pastors were, pastoral. They shepherded. They cared about the flock because they believed the key verses today. They understood that Jesus obtained the church with His own blood and therefore is precious in His sight. So if Bob was a pastor being taught 50 years ago he learned to care for the church of God but today he would be taught to care for the church of Bob. That is what the purpose driven paradigm sets up. Individual silo churches that are more associated with the cult of personality leader than with God. What is worse, Rick Warren teaches young pastors that shepherding? That's for suckers:
"Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you're choosing who leaves. You say, "But Rick, yes, they're the pillars of the church." Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up " And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions" -- Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Church
The Purpose Driven Church is mandatory reading these days for pastors. Here we see Warren mocking those that crave pure doctrine instead of the purpose driven slop that Warren advocates for. Don't think for a second the message is lost. The opening line from Mark Driscoll's infamous "pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" rant is "I am all about blessed subtraction." Another Warrenite, Andy Stanley has advocated for not using the word shepherd anymore because he claims it is not culturally relevant. This is the backdrop for why so many people are being hurt by the church today. That is the first big distinction we need to make. I am not speaking about people who got hurt by other people in the church. I am speaking about people hurt by the church. They litter the Christian landscape today, still bleeding from their wounds and refusing to trust another church again. Now that we have an understanding of why people get hurt, let's take a look at what to do.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test! -- 2Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
Beloved the very first thing we must do is test ourselves. Now I know, most will just reflexively react that they "know" they are saved but that is a dangerous game. Let us deal with some biblical realities. The key verses teach that Paul knew that wolves would infiltrate the church and not spare the flock. Wolves teach false doctrines, preach a false gospel, and present a false christ. The bible also say that we can believe in vain -- meaning we believe but it gains us nothing. Romans teaches us that only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man. That means without the true Gospel -- no one gets saved. Despite the fixation on revival the bible actually prophesies a great end times apostasy, or falling away. The vast amount of television preachers you see operate apostate churches. They focus on material prosperity, usurping the power of God or idolizing this country instead of the true Gospel. Rick Warren once taught pastors that if they wanted Easter visitors to return the following week they should not preach the Gospel in order to "give them a reason" to come back. That is what apostasy looks like beloved. It is important that we test ourselves because if you do not recognize you have been taught falsely, you potentially will seek out another church that teaches the same heresy. If you think this is not dangerous let us look at the end result of not testing yourself:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 7:21-23 (ESV)