12 March 2008

Briefly

by Frank Turk

Last week I endorsed Kent and Barbara Hughes' book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, and I implied that I had more to say about this, which I do. But to get there, I want to recap something from 2007.

As a rule of thumb, you should not leave your church. If you want to ask, "yeah, but whaddif ...", check out the posts labeled "local church" here at TeamPyro, and read the comments for all the posts. We have covered this in-depth. Rule of thumb: you should not leave your church. There are good reasons to leave your church, but most people do not really have those reasons -- they want to make their reasons look like those reasons, but their situation is not as bad as they make it out to be.

And I say that in order to say this, briefly: the best reason for not leaving your church is to liberate your pastor's ministry from the success syndrome.

Here's what I mean: while you may couch your resignation letter and exit in confessional terms, it is nearly impossible for you to leave your local church without your pastor receiving this message clearly: "Count me out."

If you want to assist your pastor and his staff (if he has one) in getting over a consumerist or a PDC (profits-driven church) view of the ministry, you can't do that by forcing him to count you.

And I have a broader point to make about the pastoral ministry, but I have to teach the Youth in our church tonight and last week our Youth Pastor gave them both barrels from the book of Job, and the topic of his series is "Reasons we think we don't like God" (the subtitle is "but why God is Great"), and I have to get prepared.

Listen: while your pastor should be trying to liberate his ministry from the success syndrome, you should not be working to shackle him back into the success syndrome. You should be working to help him stay free from those pitfalls -- and you can't do that by running away. Running away causes him to count the numbers.

Think about it, and pray about it.







51 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Frank, I do agree with your default about staying at your church. To truly "liberate" a pastor means praying for him, hard, as you support him.

But I remember talking to a mega church pastor some years ago. He said something to the effect that he wanted people who didn't like what was going on to leave. He didn't want anyone rocking the boat. If such hung around, he encouraged them to find a "new home."

I don't know what else to say.

Al said...

Forcing him to count you.

Short truth. The best kind. From the pastors... thanks.

al sends

Frank Turk said...

Johnny:

I will be dealing with those pastors in the course of this year.

Rileysowner said...

Thank-you Frank. At a recent conference on leader's discipleship the speaker went through the results from recent surveys about pastor's experiences and struggles. Almost all were related to a success driven ministry. One comment I made during the discussion was that the very things that so obviously is destroying pastors and keeping them from growing as followers of Christ are the very things that the average church will reward a pastor for doing. It seems the many excuses for leaving a local congregation that are used today fall right into that area, satisfy the consumer or they will leave.

KGWiley said...

Thanks, Frank, for putting into words what so many in ministry struggle with. Even here, in the "Bible Belt," we constantly deal with this... of course, the real phenomenon is that a lot of people who are leaving enjoy talking poorly behind your back, but won't confess or even admit they've "left" the church when you try to meet with them to find out what happened.

Timotheos said...

Thanks Frank,

Saw a really good list of things that you can do to get rid of your pastor in Our Daily Bread a few years ago. It was sort of tongue in cheek, though. It listed:

Here are four ways on how to get rid of your pastor (from Richard W. De Haan, Your Pastor and You):

1. Say “Amen!” once in a while, and he’ll preach himself to death.
2. Encourage him and brag on his work, and he’ll probably work himself to death.
3. Offer to help out with the ministry of the church and request the name of a person with whom you could go share the Gospel – your pastor just might die of heart failure.
4. Get the church to unite in prayer for the preacher, and he’ll soon become so effective that a larger church will take him off your hands.

DeHaan concludes the list by saying: “If we terminated more apathy and fewer pastors, we would see greater results.”

Frank Turk said...

timotheos:

Exactly.







Now watch for those who are adamant that their pastor is a lost cause to come in and berate us for being too blind.

NoLongerBlind said...

I guess one unspoken but obvious exception to this view is when the "church" one has been attending--for years, prior to conversion--is discovered, after the eyes and ears were opened, to be nothing more than a dead, liberal, (mainline denomination)pastored-by-a-woman, ear-tickling "church"--in name only!

Even So... said...

I am in agreement, of course...I believe a real temptation for pastors (like me) is to keep thinking about a magic number (say 300) where we won't "feel" the losses so much, but that is a trap, becasue if you cannot feel it, you have already lost it...

DJP said...

217.

Frank Turk said...

The magic number in our church is 400, and I hate it that we know that. We're trying to unknow it.

VcdeChagn said...

Thanks Frank. I really enjoyed the series last year. It came at a time that were seriously considering leaving our home church.

The Lord used your series (sorry, no credit for you :) ) to encourage us to stay where we are. We did, and our ministry there (we were already heavily involved) has been blessed.

Thanks for making it clear last year what the Bible has to say about being called into fellowship with believers.

One comment I made during the discussion was that the very things that so obviously is destroying pastors and keeping them from growing as followers of Christ are the very things that the average church will reward a pastor for doing.

Sounds like the world. Smells like the world....must be the world. The world wants us to seek the poison and consider it beneficial.

NateKwak said...

Hello. I was wondering what you thought of a particular situation I was in.

I became a member of a church soon after becoming a Christian back at home. However, I moved to UCSD to go to college several months afterwards, and became heavily involved in the church there (about 2 hours away from my original church). Now, four years later, I'm moving back home. I have the choice of either staying in San Diego with the church I'm most involved in, or to go back to my homechurch. Either way, I feel like I'd be "leaving" a church. What'd you think?

DJP said...

400 = megachurch

RememberPolycarp said...

I hope this does not sound off-topic, but our last two church departures, both from a mainline denomination, had one thing in common: leadership was beginning to sympathize with, accommodate, and/or incorporate various aspects of the emerging church movement (falsehood). Most people in these congregations did not see most of this for what it was because they are, quite frankly, ignorant of this movement and its ramifications; they seemed entirely on-board with these "new" ideas because they saw them as means and ways to promote a "successful" church (i.e. larger numbers). On this note, I think it's important to see just how seeker-sensitive and growth-minded the emergents actually are, despite their protestations against the corporate model and/or church growth programs. Both camps have a fraudulent "gospel" and a horizontal focus, so it is little wonder there would be a number of parallels between these seemingly opposite parties. From our last two church experiences--places with a "healthy" number of people--and our small, newfound congegation where Truth is declared and embraced uncompromisingly, the emerging church is seen for what it is, and the pastor cares little about "relevance" or popularity, I am convinced that in the years to come, meeting places for true followers of Christ, where a true gospel is declared, will become smaller and smaller.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Frank Turk: "Rule of thumb: you should not leave your church. There are good reasons to leave your church, but most people do not really have those reasons -- they want to make their reasons look like those reasons, but their situation is not as bad as they make it out to be."

RememberPolyCarp: "... our last two church departures, both from a mainline denomination, had one thing in common: leadership was beginning to sympathize with, accommodate, and/or incorporate various aspects of the emerging church movement (falsehood)."

RememberPolyCarp, based on what you've written, I think you have a solid basis for making a decision that is an exception to Frank Turk's general rule of thumb.

Pax all.

Richard D said...

Frank - as I recall, most of the people who wrote that they wanted to leave their church when you posted on this topic before, wanted to leave because their church was going the way of Willow Creek - so "I'm outa here" probably wouldn't contribute to the Pastor having the consummerist mentality if he already has it.

And I have to agree with johnny dialectic - the pastors I have known who wanted to change the personality of their churches in order to draw more attendees in have consistently said, "If they don't like what I'm proposing, there are many other churches in the area from which to choose."

SolaMeanie said...

Two songs come to mind when reading this. One from the pastor's point of view as referenced by some commenters:

"I'd Like to Help You Out, Babe. Which Way Did You Come In" by Wanda Jackson.

From the congregant's point of view:

"Lesson in Leavin" by the late Dottie West.

Joking aside, this is a subject that I am sure conjures up a lot of pain for a lot of people. It's never easy to leave a church, assuming that you're one that has been heavily involved and has a host of close relationships in the church. Those who are church hoppers and change congregations like they change socks don't factor in to my thinking much. They'll never be satisfied, and if they ever do find a perfect church, it won't be perfect once they get into it.

My current question is, if you are indeed in a conflict over false doctrine etc, is it better to leave or is it better to let yourself be kicked out by the leadership for objecting. I've heard strong arguments on both sides.

Michelle said...

In my experience in a previous church that embraced the market-driven philosophy of ministry, the root of the problem was a lack of biblical discernment in the leadership. The Purpose-Drivel, uh Driven, model was just one of several fads they embraced.

By staying, sure the pastor wouldn't have had to count us in or out, but how would staying have addressed the real problem: a lack of discernment?

Like others have said, the leadership was only too pleased to see us leave because we didn't go with the flow.

Gordon Cheng said...

People do leave churches for all sorts of reasons, some of them good.

So far I've been a member of ten congregations, and been encouraged by the leaders of five of them to leave. In no particular order, the reasons included

1. To go to theological college.
2. To become an assistant minister.
3. One never gave a reason.
4. At another it related to a sermon I preached on 1 Timothy 2 on women's ministry (my view is theologically complementarian).
5. At another the reason was that it would be 'good for me and good for the gospel' (in the sovereignty of God, it was. There may have been other reasons, but they were not made public).

We're blissfully happy at the church God has led our family to, and where we've been for four years now. And I'm starting to feel less paranoid about being encouraged to leave again. ;-)

My basic test for joining and staying in a church (and sometimes, for leaving) is 3-fold.

1. Is the gospel preached (including the bits people don't like to hear) with some evidence that people are attempting to put it into practice? (The faintest scintilla of response in the hearts of some will do)

2. Am I being encouraged and finding opportunity to 'speak the truth in love' (especially including the gospel, and especially including the bits people don't like to hear).

3. Would I feel comfortable inviting my non-Christian friends to come and hear the teaching?

If the answer to those 3 questions is yes, I should stay. If the answer to any of the questions is no, I should stay and work to do something about the problems until it becomes clear that what I am trying to do is undercutting or opposing what the leadership is trying to do (being invited to leave might be one indication of this).

I admit my three-pronged test is nowhere near as succinct as the rule "You should not leave your church", but I think it may potentially end up being more biblically faithful and effective for the growth of the gospel.

Stefan said...

For the record, being a new Christian, I've never disagreed with anything Cent has written on the matter of leaving a church before. I've deferred to his judgement, and I still do.

One question, though. If a church is already firmly purpose-driven and someone leaves, wouldn't that be the kind of negative "metric" that that kind of leadership would pay attention to? Then again, they wouldn't respond to that by suddenly preaching the Gospel (the ideal response)...they'd probably just dig more of a hole by making the sermons more topical; adding or revamping the programs, etc. They'd probably see such defections as clearing house of the stick-in-the-mud "fundies."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

My current question is, if you are indeed in a conflict over false doctrine etc, is it better to leave or is it better to let yourself be kicked out by the leadership for objecting. I've heard strong arguments on both sides.

Does your question change its perspective if you're a pewsitter versus whether you're in church leadership, say as a pastor on staff or as an elder?

Frank Turk said...

Here's my problem with the "it's my pastor's fault" comments that a post like this invariably draws: as I said last time, only about 6.5% of all pastors are "megachurch" pastors; and in the worst case, another 35% are in that in-between state where they might be hoping to "finally" get 500 on the rolls.

Let's be charitable to the objectors and say this: if 40% of the pastors out there are convinced of the success syndrome -- meaning, they ought to have churches of 500 or more, and they ought to be growing -- then corrective action is -necessary-, not -optional-. And blogging about it isn't going to help the church.

There's a real issue here that I think we ignore when we start on the "I've never been in a church where ..." road: it's the issue that the church is a necessary consequence of the Gospel. That is, if you're a disciple of Jesus Christ, it's not optional for you to belong to a local church.

If that's the case, my suggestion, then, is that people not be trouble-makers but slaves of Christ. You know: if Paul could minister to the Corinthians, you -- who has far less authority than Paul did, and who is probably less spiritually mature than Paul -- could probably minister to your local church which is, undoubtedly, broken.

The long-term point of this iterationm of this series is to (in the first place) uncover the pitfalls of pastoral ministry, then second to point at the ways to combat those things, then third to point at how you -- the layperson, the sheep -- can come along side your pastor and/or elders and help them get better.

Because you need to get better, and they need to get better.

Frank Turk said...

Sola:

it's better to for them to say, "you are not part of what we are doing". It gives you freedom and it places the responsibility for your leaving where it belongs: at the feet of the elders responsible for your spiritual well-being.

It turns out they do the right thing (for you) for the wrong reason by telling you to go, and you wind up doing the right thing for the right reason by leaving.

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Centu,

Why don't you and F.T. Friel attend this thang dressed as Jake and Elwood. I want to know what Hybels is up to :)

http://www.growingleadership.com/
Conferences/nova/nova_presenters.asp

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...
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ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Sola,

Could you quick link that hypertext 4me?
Thx bro

Gene said...

I stayed at my church for eight years after the original pastor left as it slowly changed. The first seven with a pastor who had no idea what the bible said. When he left the new pastor went totally social gospel. I stayed until they tried to force me into the “40 days program”. I sent them a letter telling them to remove my name from the rolls; I could not be a member of a PDC. They had two members call me to find out what was wrong. The first one, after I tried to explain my reasons for leaving, told me he didn’t know what a PDC was and wasn’t too interested in doctrine. The second one was a man I respected very much and tried very hard to explain why a church should not follow Warren’s teaching. He asked me specifically what was wrong in the book so I got it and began to tell him what chapter to look in to see where I thought Warren had lied. He didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. Finally I asked him if he had read the book. He told me he had not; even though the church had gone through all the preparation and was about half way thru the “40 days”. To me leaving this church was like getting a divorce. I feel to this day I was wrong in leaving my church. Gene

Rileysowner said...

Here you go All for One/One For All Click Here

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Gene,

Sorry to hear your grief, I been there.
I must ask though. Do you "feel" it was wrong

or

Do you know it was wrong.
___________________________________
I was "feeling" it was wrong to when I spoke up to leadership about the funky stuff. They kinda kept saying- who us? Several head pats later I knew something was up so I sat down w/ my favorite elder. I started to match up the bible w/ the EC doctrine. He looked at me quite surprised, and said, "Hey man I really don't get into the doctrine thing" -I was so stunned I just walked away. We left the church a week later. About a month later I received a call from his wife that he (the elder) was cheating on her and that it wasn't the first time.

Now couple that coincidence (cuz that's really all it is) w/ about a 50 bold face lies from leadership.

I know I made the right choice, Jesus Christ knows I made the right choice.

Six months later I got a visit from a assocpastor whom I liked but knew was emergent because at the time he was denying being emergent I found the online emergent outreach for the church. Anyhow, after pleasantries about the family etc, I asked him straight out what was accomplished on the cross.

His response- I'll never forget it

I don't know?
___________________________________
I know I made the right choice, Jesus Christ knows I made the right choice.

By the way I know and agree with Frank's position on this. I'm just saying after two years it was inevitable.

You see Gene, the wolves know how to make you feel, but you know the truth.

SolaMeanie said...

AFO..

I assume that you're referencing the song titles when you ask for hyperlinks? I didn't link to anything this time, just mentioned the titles.

The songs really don't have anything to do with the subject matter lyrically. I just thought the titles were great for what's being discussed, LOL.

S.J. Walker said...

Solameanie,


The song that come to mind for me is
"One less set of foot steps (on you door)"-- BY Jim Croce

S.J. Walker said...

Didn't think I was old enough for that one did ya.

Hadassah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RememberPolycarp said...

All for Once/ Once for all: Thanks for sharing your experience, as my guess is that there are many, many other true followers of Christ who leave churches these days because the ec, like cancer, has spread into their congregation, despite whether or not it is named as such or whether or not people are even aware of the fact that the pastor's new interest is indeed another emergent heresy. Because the liason between a once-faithful church and the corrupt world of emergents is often the youth and/or college pastor, I'm working-out a theory that this occurance is much more planned and strategic than people might think--that good churches all over the world have (younger) associate, high school, college pastors who are emergent (unregenerate), having recently graduated from liberal seminaries, and waiting patiently for senior leadership to retire so that they can eventually move into senior pastorates and fully "emerge". Sounds far fetched? Just to test this theory with a small sample for starters, I called 6 churches that represent major denominations and which have senior (older) pastors who would clearly be considered Godly men who have served their congegations faithfully for years/decades, yet whose only fault might be their lack of awarenessm or caution, of such heretical movements afloat today and their subsequent tolerance or apathy towards them. In calling these churches, it was my purpose to speak not with that senior pastor, but rather with the college pastor. To each of them, I had a simple question: what do you think of the emerging church movement? Without going into all of the details each phone call went into, I'll suffice to say that none of them saw the ec as dangerous, wrong, something to guard against, etc. There was a bit of range, as two of them were entirely emergent and wanted me to know how great "renovare" has been for their ministries! The other four ranged from highly sympathetic to apathetic, yet I couldn't help but think through all of these chats that these "pastors'" senior pastors either know nothing about the ec or equate it with other movements in the past decades that have furthered the gospel, despite what might be unconventional in appearance. Oh, it is tragic that such is the thinking by those who should be senior shepards on guard against wolves. Rather, they attend a conference or read a denominational newsletter where they first hear about the ec, then assume this is a youth-related topic, and subsequently ask their college/youth/associate pastor to do some research on the topic and report back to them. The emergent wolf in disguise says "sure pastor...I'll be glad to do that for you" yet in his mind he's thinking "I'll inform this 'unenlightened' old man all right...I've got my sights on his job".

Stefan said...

Rememberpolycarp:

This topic (EC creeping in via the youth/college ministry) has come up so much from commenters "in the field" on this blog, that a few months ago, I inquired into the possibility of this happening at my own church. I'd encourage others to make discreet inquiries as well.

In our case, the elders exercise doctrinal oversight, vet new pastors thoroughly, and require those youth pastors without more formal training to go through our Bible school.

RememberPolycarp said...

Glad to hear it Stefan, but as I mentioned, my concern is that churches without the discernment/scrutiny of your church may be in the thousands...easily!

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

This stuff is getting mainlined
alright - like heroin:(

Cent, sorry for the off topic

You can see what Hybels is doing though, can't you?

Erwin McManus quote:
“My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ,” (said in a telephone interview) “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right” (from The Barbarian Way) (referenced Lighthoustrailsresearch.com)

Stefan said...

Rememberpolycarp:

Yeah, that's the problem.

Frank Turk said...

I wouldn't put too much stock in the "antiChristian" language as I think he's making a pretty clear point which I would agree with:

If the objective of our churches is to make more institutions and clubhouses, let me say clearly that I want nothing to do with such a damnable project. Jesus didn't come to make a tame people who wear nice suits and eat at a restaurant after the Sunday meeting. Jesus came to save people from clubs and institutions and lunch.

Now: would I agree with McManus on what that means in practice? I think on-net, probably not. I could be wrong about that, but I think his view of church life is a lot different than mine and they have different centers. But if the goal is to make everyone "Christian" in the same way we might make them "AMWAY salesmen" or "tea drinkers", forget it. Nobody would die on a cross for that.

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Frank,
I totally (I think) understand your post. Fact is I haven't read too much on/from McManus.

But I can tell you this my friend. Regarding where the EC wants to go w/doxy and praxi will put Jesus right up there w/ Matthew McConaughey. If you think Jesus is your homeboy, jus wait till the antichrist snuggles up to you and tells you how pretty your eyes are:) I'm not talking you personally in a brokeback sense but in general. I went to a SS church for 8yrs and years ago I used to bartend professionally. Turning Jesus into a hipster (every mans man and womans dream)is bad news.
If that's what authenticity looks like run.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I wrote on the previous thread by DJP (on Herod, Jesus, and the Seeker-Sensitive) that different definitions and understandings of what the Gospel Message is will influence and shape how both individuals and churches fulfill the Great Commission.

Here's an excerpt from an interview that supports my thesis:

"Ask ten people for a definition of Evangelicalism and you will find ten different answers. For some evangelicals the Gospel has been lost to the entertainment business. For others it is a means to justify consumerism. And still, for others, it is an obscure journey without a destination or reliable map. We need to reclaim the center once again.

At the heart of evangelicalism is the Gospel. At the heart of the Gospel is the truth about God and man. God is holy, righteous, and loving. You lose one of these and you have lost the Gospel. Humans have dignity as God’s image bearers, yet they have been corrupted with sin. God’s Son is our only hope for restoration. We must call upon God for mercy. Each one of these components, when lost, produces a different Gospel and, hence, a different Evangelicalism.

If Evangelicalism is to survive (and I believe that it can), we need to get back to the Gospel. If this means that a conversation needs to happen about what the Gospel is, then we need to push for this conversation. But people need to come informed beyond their own subjectivity or we will just have more “gospels” and a greater identity crisis in Evangelicalism."

From: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/c-michael-patton-of-reclaiming-the-mind-ministries-the-internet-monk-interview

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Psalm27:10 said...

Based on the respect I have for TeamPyro I have purchased four copies of "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" to give to Pastors I know - even though I yet read to the book.

I actually know 12 pastors - so if the four Pastors I am in closest relationship with react to the book at least as well as TeamPyro has, I will spring for the other eight copies and give those away.

Could end up becoming a long distance mailing campaign.

I agree with "don't leave your church" - leaving should be rare, by exception only, always the best terms possible - always within Christian charity and peace.

The article caused some sober reflection - and I am still not done reflecting.

I would like to report that there are many who would like to find a good church to join and serve - who understand and respect the "9-Marks" - but remain in church search mode.

My "sober reflection" centers on searching the scriptures, prayer, and bringing my new found [after reading the article] fear to the Lord about picking too many nits.

For five years, my wife and I served and worshiped in one local congregation and loved it.

Our problems ensued with a transfer out of state and half way across the country to a very "liberal" area.

After arriving, and now approaching 9 years, we have been in 3 churches.

Currently we are in search mode.

We served four years in one church - later asked to teach the catechism. We agreed with 90% ... it was the 10% on infant baptism being salvific that became problematic.

Here [I hope] is an example of a "good departure”: We met with the Pastor and exchanged ideas and scriptures and figured out it was best to depart in peace.

He volunteered to be our pastor until we ended up in a mega church - part of a mainline – but known for its bible teacher.

The mega church main line pastor was neither a mega-church proponent nor a stereotypical mainline guy.

This Pastor is a gifted expository bible teacher and bible student. We served in missions even taking a foreign trip. We were there two years when the 60! Elders launched a "season of listening" based on complaints from less than 5 out of 3000 who attend. To this day we don't know what the complaint was.

My wife and I met with the elders and suggested that the books of Matthew Chapter 18 and I Timothy 5 were sufficient to guide us - with the goal of reconciliation - to mirror our reconciliation with Christ.

Blank stares.

The Pastor ended up leaving.

The denomination then legalized ordination for homosexuals as a local option.

We wrote the elders and asked for a way to depart in peace, which they granted.

We then served in a mission church plant for 16 months... which migrated into sermons on "God loves you the way you are" and the use of words like "missional" and "contextualizing".

The cross the blood atonement were out, Jesus as ever-loving life coach in.

The Pastor poured wine during his weekly "bible study" where we were told things had to change or the church would die.

Reading Donald Miller books were more valued than bible study, and expositional preaching was ridiculed.

We were told the Sunday morning service is designed for non-believers.

Net-net: starving sheep and entertained goats.

I met with the Pastor and we both agreed that our philosophy of ministry was quite different. No anger no arguing … just a recognition that we need to move on.

Almost 14 months have transpired and we have been in church every Sunday.

From fundamental churches [I don’t mean in the “good” sense … i.e. the good fundamentals that were issued in the 1920s in response to creeping liberalism] … to churches using Rob Bell NOOMA videos as supplements to the sermon … to a solid conservative but a bit-too-Mary-centered Anglican denomination.

Am I too picky?

Here is my prayer:
“Dear God, in the Name of your Son Jesus the Perfect Shepherd, please place my wife and I in a church you want us to serve in, and keep us from false choices. Grant us eyes to see from your perspective as is written for in the Scriptures, so that we may love you and serve you with all our hearts and minds, and learn to love others as we love our selves. We ask your Holy Spirit to guide us, so that we may glorify you and magnify your Purposes.” Amen.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Am I too picky?

No. I really like your previous sentence about how some churches are starving sheep and entertaining goats. That was funny!

Here's something that I read on another blog. What do you all think?

"I think it’s important that we refrain from making sweeping judgements and assessments of ’seeker-sensitive’ churches. If the heart of the pastor is to reach people with the true message of the gospel, to see people pass from a state of being spiritually dead to one of being spiritually alive, then his heart is certainly in the right place. Lee Strobel came to know the Lord at such a church (Willow Creek). He definitely responded to their approach as a nonbeliever. Now Lee is a gifted evangelist who has been used by God to reach many for Christ.

Maybe we should consider what there is to affirm in these churches instead of always looking for what can be criticized. Maybe some of these churches are actually handling the gospel, and proclaiming it to the lost, better than our own churches. There should be unity among Christians, not infighting. This is a better testimony to the world. All churches have their faults and blind-spots….because all are inhabited by partially blind sinners!"

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Tuad,

I understand and agree w/ everything you said. Like I told Cent, most cases are haystack and not needle. I my position though, leadership admitted they didn't know what was accomplished at the cross (and that wasn’t the only thing). That is not a blind spot, neither a witnessing opportunity, although I tried. The guy was a "humble" Mclaren
follower, couple mouse clicks and there's the reason.

Most influential book(s) you've read besides the Bible

"A New Kind of Christian"
Brian McLaren

See Tuad, He chooses to not know. And since Willowcreek is embracing the EC apostacy- short term, I don't expect a change for the better.

Same 'guy' different question:

What do you think about Rob Bell's comment on the virgin birth?

Ans: "Yeah, that- I understand why he said it, but I don't think he should have said it."
___________________________________
You get rid of the virgin birth- you get rid of Jesus - capiche? (stole that from Driscoll)

This is what we believe, it's fundamental to the faith. But to start kicking out fundamental truth....you get the picture.

RememberPolycarp said...
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Truth Unites... and Divides said...

All for Once, Psalm 27:10, Stefan, PolyCarp, Daryl, et al,

Within Protestantism, my biggest concerns are the postmodern emerging churches and the mainline liberal churches. The theologies within both these strands are rather dubious and suspect.

To the degree that Seeker-sensitive churches move in the direction of both these strands of liberal or postmodern Protestantism, the more displeased I am with Seeker-Sensitive.

I agree that any pastor or church who apes Brian McLaren or Rob Bell, then it's ask a question of yourself after you've had a private conversation with the church leaders.

"Fight or Leave?"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

RememberPolyCarp: (I'm assuming you did not grow up in Christian home either?),

Nope, I sure didn't. You guessed right.


... I see exactly why these emergents and their damnable movement gets under your skin.

Was I that obvious?! Ya know, I don't mind the idea of being "missional", but when the postmodern emerger distorts, misrepresents, or omits the whole Gospel, then I'm filled with theological horror, not to mention disgust. Because then the cancer just starts to replicate and metastasize out of control.

Lets be frank: at best, they are wannabe cool...

Yep. A culturally "cool" Christian.

As far as I'm concerned, a Christian can be "cool" without conforming to the World.

"...which makes their exchange of the incorruptable FOR the corruptable such a pathetic scene to witness."

Whaddya gonna do? If you say something, you'll get major lip backlash. You're being "judgmental", "pharasaic", "intolerant", etc...

No kidding, the emerger honestly thinks he's honoring Christ with his witness, his way of life, and his humble uncertainty about divisive doctrines.

wenxian said...

Hmm... i think the bible is strictly against people counting on numbers as a measure of success in the Lord

[1 Chronicles 21: 1-7]

1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, "Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are."

3 But Joab replied, "May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?"

4 The king's word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. 5 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.

6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king's command was repulsive to him. 7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.

In this context, we see that God was offended when David decided to count the fighting men. And God had every reason to do so: it was God's prerogative to grant success in battle. In another view, the battles won by the Israelites were nothing short of miracles.

David was tempted to sin by counting - using what he could see as a measure of success rather than his faith in God's promise.

Now we apply this to the church. The conversion of believers from utterly degenerate sinners is nothing short of a miracle.

The growth of a church with a gospel that is hated by the world is also a miracle in itself.

So when we number the people and make aims to hit _____, it is akin to sending a message to God and telling him that that number (say 401) is the number WE have set and WE want to achieve it i.e. 'We do not care if God only wants a 300 strong church'.

Also remember that appearances are not important; but the internal spiritual condition. The OT and NT have numerous references on this.

I think it would be awefully arrogant to set such a goal, no matter how nice sounding it would be. As written,

[1 Corinthians 3]7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

God is the one who effectively does eveything, not human beings (we are mere vessels). Thus lets instead just preach the word in love, day in day out, act according to the Word day in, day out. If God wills the church to'grow', then it shall. If it does not grow or even shrinks, it does not mean anything beyond the numbers. It could even mean an improvement of the spiritual condition of the people as all the heretics et al. leave due to good preaching/church discipline.