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The Purpose Driven Church Heresy Part Four -- Blessed Subtraction

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So he told them this parable:"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. 'Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. -- Luke 15: 3-7 (ESV)

The Bible says we are not be ignorant of the schemes the enemy uses. Revelation assures that his time is short but warns us that because of this he is filled with fury. With time running out, every person the devil prevents from hearing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is another that will not come to the Lord before it is too late. Every baby Christian he is able to keep on spiritual milk is another that cannot help with the lost. As we close out this series on the damage wrought by the Purpose Driven Church through the Seeker Friendly industrial Complex, we come to one of the most insidious schemes that the devil has used for over two decades now inside the church, Blessed Subtraction. This is one of the underpinnings of the Purpose Driven Church model. What is that? It is only one of the primary guidelines for all newbie pastors today. Remember, The Purpose Driven Church was designed as a manual for up and coming pastors. It took the general principles of the new Seeker-Friendly and Emergent Church models and placed them on steroids. We have already covered the shift in viewing the unsaved as merely unchurched. We examined the shift in how the pastor views himself now as a CEO vision caster instead of as a shepherd. We also saw the shift from the focus of the church being the edification of the saints to the entertainment of the goats. Blessed subtraction however brings it all together. The basic premise is this. If your sheep want to leave -- let them leave. In fact, encourage them to do so. They do not matter now. Only the vision does. Only the metrics of carnal success matter. So long as you replace the one sheep with two more goats -- that is considered a net win. Don't believe me? Here are the words directly from Rick Warren himself:

"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" -- The Purpose Driven Church

Ahh yes, a more carnal mindset you cannot find. Pillars are holding you back. Dissension? Not to be tolerated. Questions? Not to be entertained. We can see how all the phases we have examined play into this. Since the value is no longer as the person needing salvation, it is easier to let them go. Since it is just about being "churched"; they can always go down the street and go to a different church. Since the focus for the pastor is now on casting vision and running the business that is what takes top priority. Any pillars that are questioning that vision need to go. The overall focus of the church is not on the sheep anyway. Instead they are no focused on bringing in the next round of goats. Consider the following scenario that plays out in churches every day. Perhaps it will ring true to situations you have seen or gone through yourself.

Bob has been going to Calvary Church for 20 years. He was saved there. His family was saved there. He has helped out in many ministries in the past and was always fed, as sheep ought to be. But his pastor retired and the new guy they brought had a vision he claims God gave him. Supposedly that vision was that Calvary would grow from the paltry number of 200 sheep to 2000! He even introduced this vision in a four part series that was heavy on catch phrases but light on the Bible. Bob notices that the sermons are shorter now and seem to involve topical subjects that people can relate to as opposed to expositing the Word. Worship has all become new age. No more crusty hymns. The new choir voices and musicians do not seem familiar to Bob at all and he knew everyone at one point. He is not even sure if they are members or saved for that matter. On Easter the pastor starts a three part series on improving our relationships and the worship set was so loud it gave Bob a headache. After months of prayer, he asks to speak with the pastor in private. The pastor's "armor bearer" explains that the pastor is just too busy and sets him up for an appointment with one of the associate pastors. That meeting goes poorly as the associate pastor accuses Bob of being selfish and tells him he needs to think more about the lost. A month later, he receives a letter revoking his membership because of "tithing irregularities." When he comes to church that week he finds out through his ministry workers that he has been removed as ministry leader. When he asks why, he is told it is because he is not a member anymore. He pushes back asking about the new faces in the choir and band and he is told that they are all saved and members, even though he knows better. Completely marginalized and without a word about his 20 + years of faithful service, Bob leaves frustrated and bitter. He has been blessedly subtracted.

Sound too outrageous? I know people this has happened to. Many people. I know purpose driven church leaders who flat out lied about people to get rid of them. Manipulated other sheep to turn their backs on people they wanted blessedly subtracted. Meanwhile, look at the errors. Bob is the only one correctly concerned about the lost because only the Gospel can save them. If you think we are all in this together just try leaving a church. You will find out quickly who your real friends in Christ are and who are merely playing church. To the point of this writing however is that pastors think this is perfectly reasonable! I will give you a national famous example:

Here's what I've learned. You cast vision for your mission and if people don't sign up you move on. You move on. There are people that are going to die in the wilderness and there are people that are going to take the hill. That's just how it is. Um. Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. Um. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (chuckle) and by God's grace it'll be a mountain by the time we're done. You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options, but the bus ain't gonna' stop. And, uh, I'm just a, I'm just a guy who is like, look, we love you, but this is what we're doing. There's a few kinda' people. There's people who get in the way of the bus. They gotta get run over. There are people who wanna' take turns driving the bus. They gotta' get thrown off (chuckle). 'Cause they wanna' go somewhere else. -- Mark Driscoll

This is a direct quote from a former mega church pastor. Mark Driscoll was once the golden boy of the reformed evangelical world. The brash, often inappropriate Driscoll built an empire in Seattle at Mars Hill Church. Well over 15,000 people each week to show up and hear the guy in the Mickey Mouse shirt preach God's Word. Driscoll is an avowed Rick Warren adherent however and this quote bears that out. He is the purpose driven pastor we have been speaking about. Look at this quote and the striking similarities to what we have been speaking about. Driscoll obviously felt that his responsibility was to cast the vision, not shepherd the sheep. If people do not sign up for that vision just move on. Leave them to die in the wilderness! How horrible a statement is this! That people who simply disagree with your silly godless vision are compared to and thought of as, the nation of Israel who believed the bad report about the Promised Land! Too many pastors waste time trying to move those stubborn stiff necked sheep who simply want your vision to line up with the Word of God! Then look at the next words from Driscoll's mouth! I am all about blessed subtraction! He may as well have been preaching out of the Purpose Driven Church that week instead of pretending to be preaching out of the Bible! Then look how this man, who is called to be a shepherd of these people, refers to those who dare to disagree with him. Dead bodies. They are just a pile of dead bodies to him and he is leaving them in his wake. The purpose driven pastoral mindset is you either get on the bus or you get run over by it. There are two types of problem sheep according to Mark Driscoll. Those who get in the way of the vision will be run over and those who want to take turns driving will be thrown off. How utterly disgusting beloved. Keep in mind that Mark Driscoll continued to lead Mars Hill for years after this quote. Eventually he would fall from grace completely due to stealing $200,000 of tithing monies and plagiarizing every book he ever wrote. I guess he did not see that in the vision he claims God gave him. It does however take us to our key verses for today, the Parable of the Lost Sheep:

So he told them this parable:"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. 'Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. -- Luke 15: 3-7 (ESV)

This parable renders the teaching of blessed subtraction anathema. Jesus is not content that 99 sheep stayed. He is only monumentally concerned that one has wandered off. He will pursue that one lost sheep until He finds it. He does not seek to try and replace it. He does not mock the one stray sheep or try to run them over. We saw in one of the earlier devotionals in this series that when you stop seeing yourself as a shepherd, you stop thinking you are responsible for the sheep! Recycling your flock does not make you a shepherd; it makes you a hireling:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. -- John 10: 11-16 (ESV)

The hireling does not care about the sheep beloved. To him they are just someone to run over and leave in their wake. Just another in the pile of dead bodies. I once was in a church where the pastor literally said that if you could not reconcile with someone you had issues with inside of the church that you should leave. In a sermon he said this. Then two weeks later he preached on the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Talk about an exercise in missing the point. I know a pastor who took over a church and just a few years later nearly everyone was gone and replaced with new people. This was a calculated effort; not some mere happenstance. Recycling your flock does not make you a shepherd; it makes you a hireling.

Because all of those who have been blessedly subtracted still matter to God. He does not care about your carnal vision because He already gave you His vision. It is called the Gospel. He did not give pastors keys to a bus but rather keys to a sheep pen. Every pastor, preacher, teacher and leader in His church will be held to account for every single sheep that was entrusted to them. The Purpose Driven Church model has wreaked havoc throughout the body of Christ for over 20 years now. Who knows how many lost sheep litter the Christian landscape. Wandering. Hurt and abused. We have seen in this series the various teachings that have all come together to form this perfect storm of organizational heresy.

1) The unsaved become the unchurched. By shifting how we view the lost we assure them of not being saved. If our goals are merely to "church" them then we no longer focus on the real problem -- their salvation and need for a Savior. This is how so many will stand before Jesus on the last day saying, "Lord Lord."

2) Marketing the church to goats instead of sheep. The fallacy believed for far too long now is that the church is meant for the lost. It is not. It is meant for the saints. It is meant as a place to fellowship. It is meant as a place to break bread together. It s designed as the place to be fed spiritually and grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For baby Christians to mature and mature Christians to be empowered by the truth of the Gospel. Do we want the lost to come to our churches? Of course! That is where they are supposed to hear the Gospel preached! Not a four part series on how to make their sex life more interesting or their marriage stronger. When you market to the unsaved you must compromise to get them to come in because the things of God are still foolishness to them. So you must put on a rock concert for worship. You must make the Bible about them. You must remove the crosses so they do not get offended. The other end result? You must starve the sheep by default. You cannot entertain the goats and feed the sheep at the same time.

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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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