I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. - Acts 20: 20 (NLT) Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. - Proverbs 29: 18 (KJV) Vision is a big buzz word in the church today. Within the seeker friendly and purpose driven church models of growth vision is central. Conferences are held to discuss vision. Pastors are encouraged to focus more on vision than on preaching the Gospel. As if there were some scheme of man that can do what the Gospel cannot. When you boil down the purpose driven church that is what we are left with. Man scheming to do what he must not believe God can do on His own. The reason why they struggle in vain is that they are using a worldly understanding of vision. When the foundation you seek to build on is carnal in nature it is not surprising that your vision is equally carnal. Rick Warren says in the Purpose Driven Church: “Church growth is a partnership between God and man. Churches grow by the power of God through the skilled effort of people.” This is a glimpse into the seeker friendly, purpose driven mindset. In their world, God is our partner instead of our Lord. As such they feel compelled to assist God instead of simply obeying Him. Churches that grow in God grow through the power of the Holy Spirit, not the skilled effort of people as Warren believes. The Apostle Paul explains: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (NIV) Paul's explanation flies in the face of the purpose driven foundation. We need to resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified beloved, That is where the power lies to grow the church. Paul was a learned man. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He could have allowed human wisdom to rule but instead he resolved to leave it all to the crucified and risen Christ. Unlike the purpose driven church, which also states: “On the one hand we are obligated to remain faithful to the unchanging Word of God. On the other hand we must minister in an ever-changing world.” Another window into the false mindset of the seeker friendly mentality. What Warren believes here is that the fact that the world is ever changing is somehow oppositional to the unchanging Word of God! The usage of the word "obligated" also seems to infer that Warren wishes he did not have to adhere so strictly to the Word. The truth is that we must minister in an ever changing world WITH the unchanging Word of God! They are not oppositional! They are complimentary! It is because the world is constantly shifting that people need to see that the church does not change. Does not waver. Does not compromise. However, for the consideration of the seeker friendly mindset I present God's 20-20 vision, conveniently found in one of the key verses; Acts 20: 20. Here we find the Apostle Paul saying goodbye to the leaders of the Ephesian Church. While there is so much to learn from his entire address we find in verse 20 the mindset that is in direct opposition to the seeker friendly, purpose driven mindset. Whether in public or in private, Paul never shrank back from telling them what they needed to hear. This is in direct opposition to the modern theories of church growth that defer the truth to try and convince people to come back to their church. Sin and repentance are given a back seat to hyper grace and a sugar coated gospel. Just this year Pastor Warren wrote an article for pastors; giving them five tips for writing to the Easter church visitors, who probably would only visit that one day of the year. Here is a direct quote from this article: Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either start 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’re 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. Within the seeker friendly purpose driven thinking, the Gospel will not be a good enough reason to come back to church! He advises instead to shrink back from what these people desperately need to hear in favor or human wisdom and a vision that saves no one. The one chance he might ever have to present these lost people with the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ and instead he thinks it would be better to preach about how to live this mortal life with some sense of carnal significance. The second key verse comes from Proverbs and is often used in the worldly conferences on the need to create a man made vision to build the church. Where there is no vision, the people perish. The problem of course is that the word vision here is not the same word that the world uses today. Perhaps some alternate translations would clarify: When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. - (NLT) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (ESV) Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction. (NIV) Clearly the word vision here does not mean vision the way the backers of modern church growth use it. It means divine guidance - not human wisdom. It means prophetic revelation! Where do we find prophetic revelation and divine guidance? Do we find it in the theories of man? Do we find it by adhering to secular leadership principles? Do we find it by being more seeker friendly, purpose driven, or relevant? Is it found in preaching a sermon series that brings no glory to God and shrinks back from the Gospel? No. It is found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That unchanging surety in a world gone wild. Without the Gospel the people perish. Without divine guidance the people perish. Without a prophetic revelation of the Word of God the people perish. We should never shrink back from telling people what they need. The true vision from God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Anthony.