Back   828 Ministries
Original Content at

April 15, 2017

Purpose Driven Myth-Busting - Resurrection Sunday is Not the Super Bowl

By Anthony Wade

We hear it every year. Easter is the Super Bowl for the church. Let us turn once again to the Bible to debunk Purpose Driven eloquent wisdom.


Image From Article
Image From Article
(Image by Unknown)
  Details   DMCA

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" -- Romans 10: 14-15 (ESV)

We have documented at great length the many foundational flaws within the purpose driven church paradigm. While perhaps well intended, it flips the actual cause of Christ on its ear. One needs only to take a cursory glance at the language changes to see the damage it was designed to wreak upon the bride of Christ. Because the shift in focus is from tending to the sheep to luring the unexpected goats, the church must move away from topics that might drive "seekers" away. Those topics are things like sin, repentance, the cross and the blood; or as I like to refer to them -- the Gospel. With these off the table, it become necessary to lose the customary lingo associated with the church. Those who are not part of the body of Christ were always referred to as the lost or the unsaved but now both of those terms are deemed derogatory and potentially inflammatory. Most people outside of Christ do not fancy themselves lost at all and unsaved indicates they need to be saved.

That is entirely the point.

Nevertheless, Rick Warren bravely trudged on and started referring to the lost and unsaved as "unchurched" and in doing so revealed the true new goal of his false Christianity. That new purpose is to "church" people. The resulting "churchianity" spends its focus and facilities on convincing the unsaved to come back to their church building the following week. To turn that week into a month and that month into a membership class. From there it is a matter of preaching them the buddy Jesus model who Jeremiah 29:11 assures them has a wonderful "purpose" for their lives serving in the Parking Lot Ministry. While this has proven to be a fantastic carnal model for business growth it has not resulted in a single person being added to the kingdom of God.

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)

Yes beloved, only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man but where did we leave the Gospel in this equation? Outside the purpose driven church. Once we decided to compromise the Gospel by refusing to talk about heaven, hell, wrath and judgment, we have stripped away the very power of the cross:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. -- 1Corinthians 1: 17 (ESV)

The purpose driven paradigm is chock full of eloquent wisdom but it completely empties the cross of its power. Now with the new language and new goal in hand the purpose driven church model seeks to grow by convincing goats that they are sheep. Statistics show that the average time someone spends in a mega church is less than three years. That is how long it takes for most people to realize they are no different on Saturdays than they are on Sundays. Many leave the church hurt, confused and still believing they are saved from eternal wrath when they most assuredly are not. The purpose driven church however marches on. As long as they replace the one departing with two new fresh goats, they consider that a net gain.

This is why so much time is spent within the paradigm on leadership, secularism, and marketing. Leadership is practically a fetish within the purpose driven landscape. National and international conferences are held and sought after to improve the leadership of the church. The best carnal leaders in the world are brought in to impart yet more eloquent wisdom upon the leaders of the church. Think about that for a moment. No matter how brilliant they may be as a worldly leader they still think the things of God are utter foolishness to them. These are the people we seek out for how to run God's church and we wonder why it is in such poor shape? Carnal leadership principles save as many people as eloquent wisdom -- zero.

Along with this is a compromising spirit of secularism under the guise of relevance. The purpose driven model teaches pastors they must seek to tap into something relevant in the lives of the unbelievers. That is why you see sermon series on popular movies, sex, or how to improve things like your marriage and relationships. That is why you see secular songs sung during what is supposed to be the time for the corporate worship of God. This secularism has led to the rise of entire denominations and movements designed to conquer modern secular society. The New Apostolic Reformation believes in the "Seven Mountains Mandate"; which is a completely unbiblical belief that Christians must conquer this world in order to facilitate the second coming of Christ. You may think that sounds fringe but it is rapidly gaining momentum. It is not just Bethel and IHOP anymore. If your church is overly focused on politics alone keep in mind that government is one of the seven mountains.

The church binges on marketing. Every week there has to be a "can you top that" mentality. Pastors who turn their churches into a motocross track, a bull fighting arena, or an actual circus are now the norms in the modern church instead of the outliers. Just in the past few years we have seen worship include such songs as Highway to Hell, Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball, and I Like To Move It Move It. The summer season sees many mega churches have weekly sermons where they exegete the summer blockbuster movies. Recently, one pastor had a giant couch on stage he bounced up and down on while another literally skipped through an entire sermon. Why is all of this needed? Because they are trying to bait the unsaved and entice them to come to church. It's fun! Free giveaways for the entire family! Pictures with Santa at Christmas and the Easter Bunny for Resurrection Sunday. I have seen churches do gun giveaways and plasma TV raffles. Why do they need to go to such lengths? Because they are trying to lead the church when it should be led by God. Once you abandon the Gospel, you are on your own. You have to grow your church yourself. If you read the Book of Acts and see the intent for the design of God's church the growth was left up to God and the Gospel was left up to the leaders. Today of course that has been flipped on its ear.

This brings us to this Sunday. Resurrection Sunday. The most important day of the year for followers of Jesus Christ. The day our Savior defeated Satan, conquered the grave and redeemed us to the Father. How does the Seeker-Friendly Industrial Complex refer to this day? The Super Bowl. You cannot go ten stories into a Facebook feed these days without some advertisement for the Super Bowl of the church. Five mistakes not to make for Easter! Seven principles to embrace for Easter! What is behind this hoopla is the fact that Easter Sunday always shows the highest church attendance of any other day of the year. Even the most "unchurched" people turn out on Easter Sunday. So given this fact and the previously stated goal of churchianity to make sure people come back, this day takes on a special significance to the purpose driven pastor. Is it special because Jesus Christ was resurrected three days after being crucified for our sins? No beloved. It is special because there are countless more customers that week as compared to any other! So you have to really implement your leadership skills, ratchet up your secularism and market your church with whatever gimmicks you need to in order to make sure these folks come back the following week.

In 2013, Rick Warren wrote an article giving advice to pastors providing tips for how to ensure that your Easter visitors come back the following week. One of the tips was to NOT preach the Gospel. You heard me right. He said you need to give them a "reason to come back." Here is an exact quote:

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 are 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

So let me see if I have this right. America's pastor thinks that when you may only get one chance to preach the Good News of salvation that you should instead preach about becoming a better parent? I do not recall Jesus saying, "Improve your marriage for the kingdom of heaven is near!"
Jesus tells a story once about a rich fool who decided to make grandiose plans for the future as if he was in control of it and the Bible says that night his life was required of him. That is the point Rick. You cannot just blow off the Gospel by admitting it is their foundational need but hey, we will get to that eventually! What if the lives of your visitors was required of them that night and you spent the last chance they had to hear the Gospel on trying to make them feel more significant? Remember though, the new goal is not to save them. No, it is to church them. They are like a fish you are trying to catch. The purpose driven pastor is seeking the right bait. Rock and roll music designed to appear pious? Check. Disco lighting and smoke machines? Check. The best and most trained voices only? Check. Personalized letters and free giveaway gifts? Check. Compromised message of relevance that will resonate with their carnality? Check. The Gospel? Well we all KNOW that is foundational but c'mon, you have to give them a reason to come back next week! To serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Nah, not good enough. To avoid the fires of eternal suffering in hell? Very unfriendly and unloving of you! Wait, I know! We will start a ten part series on the ten things God loves the most about you and how you can leverage those things to make money and influence people! All for Jesus of course. It seems Warren and the purpose driven movement keeps driving further away from Scriptural truth.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. -- 1Corinthians 3: 5-7 (ESV)

Do we understand how this works or not? So what if your visitors do not come back next week? If you presented the true Gospel of Jesus Christ then you have done your job as a pastor. You have planted seeds for some. Seeds that may be watered later on down the line. For others, you watered seeds planted by someone else who was faithful to the Gospel. For some it may be harvest time. God may have given the increase to some in response to your faithfulness to preach the Gospel. The job of the pastor is to present the Gospel. God gives the increase. The Holy Spirit draws people to the cross. So what's the problem? The goal is still wrong. The pastor wants to church them not see them saved. I mean, sure eventually they can get saved. That's foundational after all but for now, first things first.

And they call it the Super Bowl. As if it was just a game to them. The problem with their analogy is the Super Bowl is a winner takes all proposition. It is just one game without do overs, mulligans or oopsies. Warren and the purpose driven mindset seem to think they are in a best of seven scenario like the World Series. Where no one's life will be required of them after game one. The foundational need for players in the Super Bowl is to win. Not to get around to it next time. For many there is no next time. Some players go their entire career without playing in a Super Bowl, let alone winning it. The analogy is a poor one employed by the purpose driven industry because it shows a lack of understanding of the Gospel, and football. It exposes them for being interested in building their individual kingdom and not the kingdom of God.

I want you to picture this. Somewhere there is a man who has not known God his entire life. He has lived 60 years on this planet and gone through the motions of life. Raised a family. Worked a job for 40 years. His wife has always asked for him to come with her to church. He has heard the Gospel before and always dismissed it as being for the weak. This year he doesn't know why but he has agreed to go with her for Easter. He has agreed to step into a building that is supposed to house the very presence of God. Where the bride of Christ gather. The peculiar people. The royal priesthood. The children of God. What he does not know is that very night his life will be required of him. A lifetime of stress and high blood pressure will finally claim their prize.

He has one shot left though to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be drawn to the cross but he walks into a church where the shepherd thinks he is a demographic to target. A customer to please. A goat to lure into his sanctuary. The shepherd CEO-dude thinks he is in the Super Bowl and if he can convince this man to come back next week, well that's a touchdown. Except he does not know there is no next week for this man. This is it. Winner takes all. The man walks in and enjoys worship. It is upbeat and positive. He sings about how he is a friend of God, even though he really isn't. He sings about something called the blessing of Abraham which teaches him that he is entitled to some kind of grand inheritance. He sings about how much God loves him and heaven and earth kissing before the person leading worship seemed to go off into a 20 minute chanting tangent. As the pastor-vision caster approaches the pulpit he feels strangely open to what he might have to say. Sixty years is a long time and he is tired. Tired of having to carry the load all by himself. He admires and envies the peace his wife has had since she started this Christian thing. He is ready.

After some jokes, some of which he thinks seem oddly out of place, the speaker goes into a 20 minute message about improving his marriage. The message was engaging and the speaker was polished. There were even some good tips that he really took to heart. He could be a better husband he thinks. Maybe even start coming regularly to this church thing his wife likes so much. When they get home he tells her as much and she is thrilled too. God can work miracles she thinks. This seems like a new beginning. The first day of the rest of their lives. They go to sleep that night and as we already know, he dies in his sleep. He dies in his sin. In his state of rebellion towards God. We may feel sad because we know what comes next and for all of eternity but he had one last shot. The problem is the man charged with bringing the Gospel to his ears treated him like a football. He punted to a later week that the man never had in his future. You see beloved, Rick Warren was right about one thing. The Gospel and his need for Jesus was foundational. The problem is he teaches pastors to build upon something else. Build upon their need for significance or to improve their marriage. You can always get around to the foundation later. No. No you cannot. Who in their right mind builds before the foundation is set? This man had one chance. He walked into the Super Bowl unaware the game was even being played and he lost. He lost because the man with the keys to the kingdom of heaven tucked them away in his pocket for another time and instead spoke to him about his marriage. It was a good message. It was well crafted and delivered. It probably helped some people but it did not save anyone.

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News our key verses exclaim! How can someone believe unless they first hear and how can they hear unless someone is preaching? Please hear me well pastors. This is not a game. Your adversary is not playing. He is trying to run the clock out and you are letting him. You are not charged with growing your church as that is God's job. You are not charged with casting vision -- the Bible should be your vision. You do not need a witty repartee. You do not need to convince anyone to come back to your church next week. You have one job. You have one task upon which you will be judged at a far higher standard than the rest people not in your calling. That task is actually the easy part. God keeps all the hard parts for Himself. We sow or water but He gives the increase. He changes hearts. All we have to do is present the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. It alone has the power of God unto the salvation of men. Not trying to find some relevance with the carnality of the lost. Not with chasing all of the fleshly leadership principles which draws no one to Christ. Not with the slickest marketing campaign Madison Avenue can dream up. You simply do not know who the Lord has drawn to your sermon on any given day, let alone the "Super Bowl." So every time you have the privilege to stand behind a pulpit, charged with bringing the Gospel to the lost. Don't try and church them. Imagine they are like the man described above. He has one shot left to hear the Gospel that has the power to save him. Don't fumble that chance away. Lay the foundation upon which his new life can be built.


Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 14, 2017

Authors Bio:
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 His purpose.