Devotional - Insight Into The Flawed Seeker Friendly Thinking Of Rick Warren

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. – Colossians 2: 8 (NLT)

    There is a war going on for the lost in society. On one side stands the ruler of this world, Satan. On the other side stands the vehicle God has chosen to deliver the Gospel message, the church. You can trace the tactics of the devil as far back as the Garden of Eden and see that his strategies do not change. His game plan stays consistent. He does not try to nor need to over analyze anything:

    “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” – Genesis 3: 3-5 (NLT)

    The devil is a liar beloved and his strategy is to get you to doubt what God has already said. In the case of Eve, He said it directly to them and in our case He has said it to us through His Word. That is why we must not treat the Bible as some vague collection of short stories, cobbled together for our entertainment. It was given to us as a mighty Spiritual weapon against the lies of the enemy.

    On the other side is the church, which is charged with a single task – bring the Gospel to the corners of the earth. It is only the Gospel that has the power people need to be set free in this life. It is only the Gospel that has the keys to eternal life. It is only the Gospel that everyone needs so desperately. Only the Gospel; the Good News of Jesus Christ:

    When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” – Luke 4: 16-21 (NLT)

    The world is captive beloved; they are imprisoned as we once were. They are blinded by the devil. They live oppressed lives and only the Good News can remove that yoke, cure that blindness and break those shackles. Unfortunately, where the devil knows to not change what works, the church seems to think it is about them. The past several decades have seen a rise in man-centered logic permeating the delivering of the Gospel message. The key verse from the Apostle Paul warns us specifically about such empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense which are derived from human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Let us not lose sight of that last point Paul is making. We sometimes forget that the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit. He is the only Spirit that comes from God but the world has its own spirits and principalities and minions of Satan. So when we see these theories of church growth that distort and pollute the Gospel with well crafted human arguments they actually come from the enemy himself. There are only two choices. If it is not coming from Christ then it is coming from what is opposed to Christ.

    The other main point here in the key verses is that we need to be on guard, lest we are actually “captured” by the empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense. We actually start to “buy in” to the notion that compromising the Gospel is the only effective way of delivering the Gospel. Of course no one realizes or announces that they are compromising the Gospel; they just do it and wrap it up in the name of Jesus. It will come disguised to your churches as community outreaches, secular based programs to help people, or the latest Christian fad. Everyone else will be doing it so it will seem right. Remember, Paul refers to these as “well crafted arguments.” They will sound right. But broad is the path that leads to destruction. The path is broad because there are a lot of people on it beloved. Do not confuse popularity with approval from God.

    Amidst the circle makers and Joel Osteen’s of the world is perhaps the king of the modern seeker friendly-emergent church movement – Rick Warren. The author of the Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church, Warren has long enjoyed the title of “America’s Pastor.” Unfortunately, with great numbers of people to please comes great compromise to please them. Warren has been caught on the wrong side of the ecumenical movement once too often. Even recently, he sent a tweet out during conclave that the evangelical community should fast and pray that the Cardinals of the Catholic Church pick the right man to be the next pope. Never mind that Catholic faith believes the Pope is Christ’s representative here on earth or the myriad of false teachings it embraces. Moving past that however I was recently made aware of an article written by Pastor Warren which appeared on With Resurrection Sunday approaching the article was entitled, “Five Tips for Writing to Your Easter Visitors.” The basic premise being that because Resurrection Sunday sees the highest attendance of people you usually never see again, pastors should take the time to write a letter to those visitors to encourage them to come back. No problem there. Three of the tips were pretty basic, like using common language and signing your first name. But nestled in the middle of these were two tips which reveal the flawed thinking of master of secular rationale masquerading as religion. The third tip was listed as:

    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’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.

    Where to begin? Let’s try and go in order to avoid confusion. Warren states emphatically that a pastor should always start a sermon series either on Resurrection Sunday, or the Sunday following. Based upon his rationale for “what they want,” a better marriage, friendship or to be a better parent, it seems clear that Warren is referring to a sermon series on something that he views as practical. How deeply flawed is this line of thinking? You openly admit that the vast majority of the visitors only come on that one day and you would actually recommend preaching a message about how to improve your marriage? So they go home and improve their marriage, never return to church and eventually end up in hell? What about if they were single? Then they get no temporal benefit or eternal benefit? Resurrection Sunday is the single most important day of our faith and Warren recommends starting a series on addressing a worldly need. This cuts to the very heart of what is wrong with seeker friendly-purpose driven nonsense. It supplants the Gospel in terms of primacy. The one time visitors need to hear one thing beloved – the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to hear the word “sin” because they know in their hearts they have strayed. They need to hear the word “repentance” because they know they need to make it right with God. Can you imagine if that day was the only chance someone had to hear the Words that can give eternal life and instead they heard part one of a four part series on feeling more significant? And then their life was required the very next day of them? Pastor Warren doth think too much. Preach the Gospel. It is smarter and more well crafted then we can ever be and it has the added benefit of being exactly what everyone needs to hear. The seeker friendly mentality however thinks the most important thing is to create an attendee of your church instead of a follower of Christ.

    How can we tell that? By the next point – the usage of the term unchurched. To Warren and the seeker friendly crowd there are two people – the churched and the unchurched. The reality however is there is only the saved and the unsaved. Once again, the seeker friendly philosophy focuses on the church instead of the Kingdom. Warren actually says that we should make sure the sermon series meets the “felt needs of the unchurched person.” Once again focusing on the things of this world instead of the things of eternal life. I love how he then pays lip service to the Gospel by admitting they need a relationship with Jesus Christ, even calling it foundational, but then dismisses it in favor of their needs for friendship and significance. So let me see if I have this right. The need for Christ is foundational but you choose instead to build upon a foundation of becoming a better parent or spouse? Because Warren is right to call the relationship with Jesus as a foundational need but that means you start with that relationship and build upon that. Eventually you can get to being a better parent or spouse but without the proper foundation of having a relationship with Jesus Christ all you are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I know the prevailing seeker friendly response would be – what if they never come back? What if they don’t? At least for the one moment they were in church they heard the Gospel. After that it is always going to be their choice. At least you know if they died that night, they had one chance to come to Christ. Tomorrow is promised to no one. We need to preach as if the lives of our hearers are at stake because they are.

    For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”– Romans 1: 16-17 (NLT)

    I don’t think Warren is ashamed of the Gospel. It just appears as if he thinks it is more important that they physically return to the church building the following week. As if that gets them into heaven. He even states that his goal here is to get them to come back to your church. It is all high sounding nonsense however. Let’s say that you get an extra 500 visitors on Resurrection Sunday then you normally would. You start a sermon series on improving your marriage and it tickles the ears of some and 250 come back! To Warren and the seeker friendly mentality that would be an enormous success because you now have a chance to add 250 people to your congregation. You’ll get around to the Gospel at some point. Maybe even some of them will get saved. But what happens to the other 250 people? They spent a day in your church and did not hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the only thing which could have freed them. It is a matter of how we look at people. To the Rick Warren’s of the world they are unchurched when the reality is they are unsaved. You may say that is semantics but it is not. When you view them as unchurched your goal is to see them “churched.” When you view them as unsaved however; your goal is to see them saved. Beloved, when the Gospel has been proclaimed we have given people a reason to come back. They may choose not to, but they have been given a reason. The fourth point in the Warren article further displays the seeker-friendly mindset as well as the purpose driven philosophy:

    Help them get connected in your church. Let them know about some of the significant assimilation ministries in your church—your membership class, your small groups or your Celebrate Recovery ministry (which I hope you have!). You might do this on your website and simply share the link in your letter or you might have some of this basic info in your letter.

    I included this because the prevailing church model these days is a direct child of the purpose driven agenda. This agenda seeks to build a building, not the kingdom. It forces the needs of the church upon the people who make up the church. It is a fast track for people who are not spiritually ready for leadership or ministry to be used in both capacities. I have spoken with people who were foisted into leadership of ministries even though they had no active prayer life and didn’t read the Bible. They knew they were living a lie but did not want to let the church down. This results in a direct shift away from how can we help the people to how can we help the building. There are people reading this today who serve in ministry or even leadership who know full well they should not be in those positions. The model today is to take people right after a guilt driven altar call, hand them a Bible and some literature, shuffle them off to baptism class, then membership class and into ministry as quickly as possible. The larger churches even seem to compromise on the membership requirement for ministry because the needs are so great.

    I even love the term Warren uses here – significant assimilation ministries. Then the membership class is listed as one of these ministries! This is the latest pattern that is associated with the seeker friendly thinking. Everyone who does anything within the walls of a church is now called a minister. You acted in a Christmas play – you’re a minster. You play the trombone – you’re a minster. I am sorry but you are not. A minister should be someone called to bring the Gospel. Someone who has gone through some sort of training; who can properly divide the Word of God. Quite frankly, someone who also will be held to higher standard according to the Word. This is the end result though of a watered down Gospel – everything gets watered down with it. Leaders who don’t read the Bible? Ministry workers with no prayer lives? People running around calling themselves Minister this and Prophetess that? Everyone scrambling around to build a building. A Baptist church in Dallas Texas just opened a 130 million dollar complex that they call a church while there are over 5500 homeless people in the local Dallas area. Building our own Tower of Babel with an even more grandiose sense of pride.

    Because here is the thing. Unless your assimilation ministries are assimilating people to look like Christ they lead to a dead end. They are carnal in nature and of no eternal value. Warren and the seeker friendly movement seek to grow individual church buildings under the guise of “reaching as many for Christ” as they can. The actual Gospel becomes secondary to helping people find their significance. When you compromise the Gospel however, you do not reach them for Christ. You reach them for your church. I agree that we should write a follow-up letter to visitors from Resurrection Sunday and we should be nice and personable. We should however remind them that only the Savior has the keys to unlock the shackles around their ankles. Only Jesus can save them. Not the Pope, Rick Warren or drawing circles in the sand. It has not changed in thousands of years because it always has been sufficient on its own – just save your high sounding nonsense and human philosophies and preach it!

    Reverend Anthony Wade – April 1, 2013

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