Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Hybels’

     I remember a time when I would get together with people and study the bible. I recall doing this in college.  We did have social Navigator meetings, but we also were taught how to do bible studies with others.  We even were encouraged to read our bible daily.  They called it a quiet time.  We were to study the bible, and dig into the word.  Often there would be a workbook with questions for a guide, but it really was about looking at the text.  I had one of these yearly while in college, if I recall right.  I even led one, though I felt very ill prepared.  Still, we did study the bible, and did go through it.  When a challenging person I met in the dorms would say, “you have to be baptised in my church to be saved” I could often dig with the group for verses to counter this person.  We could prepare for our daily lives, and could be encouraged by the scriptures.

When I got married, we were friends with a seminary student.  We got our own little bible study together.  We studied John for a year, and it was a great time.  We brought in a few other young people, and a few were unsaved.  It was a great time of fellowship, and a great time of digging into the bible.  We continued to study with this couple and a few others until we moved away from each other across the country.

When we lived in Seattle, we attended a bible study group.  I don’t recall it being called “small group” but bible study.  We did find it a bit frustrating because we’d go through a guide book and often it would be very simplistic.  However, we did stick to the text.  We socialized, we supported each other in illness, job loss and in gain, miscarriage, one woman had a drug addicted spouse, in new babies, and in moves (many of us moved and helped each other).  We did study and talk about the bible, we never focused on a book that had bible verses in it, but instead did studies on books of the bible.  We might also do a topical study but it was all pointing back to a block of scripture.

We moved back to Kansas and found a church with the word “bible” in it’s name.  We got involved in a small group.  I still called them bible studies, because that’s what I thought of when we would get together with a group of people with pens and bibles.  We began with the simple books on books of the bible or a topic, all focused in studying the bible and what it said.  However, after a few years, we began to do topical study and it wasn’t really about the bible.  We’d study things like marriage, our personal gift inventory, finances, or how to witness effectively.  We’d take personality quizes, financial inventories, study our love languages, or our spiritual gifts.  We’d discuss these findings outloud in the group.  It was very self focused, and yet it was also a time when we’d reveal personal things in a group.  We’d have projects during the week which took time.

Always, my husband and I would fight for studying a book in the bible.  We felt so good one year because we were able to get into the book of Acts.  We kept trying to get back to that kind of thing.  It was so wonderful to just dig, to  hear scripture read aloud every week.  It was a growing time. 

Small group for us was really mostly about the friendship.  We did have great relationships, and I believe our friends in those groups were mostly Christians who really desired to study God’s word and fellowship in Christian brotherhood.  We wanted to pray for one another, that was always a point that showed really what the groups were about for the people in them, the prayer support.  That’s where the caring came in.  People also did things to help each other in times of need.  There was nothing wrong with this, in fact it was one wonderful aspect of the groups that made up for all the books we went through.

The group would often get together and decide what we were studying.  This is how we ended up eventually pushing for bible study in the actual bible.  It became the desire of the leaders of our group (we eventually became leaders…with another couple).  We wanted to get into the meat.  However, there was always a pull to books like “The Five Love Languages.”  I was even one who suggested we do Max Lucado studies, partly because I felt these books got you into the text. 

One thing kept happening that was annoying to us personally, and I believe maybe others in the group though I cannot be sure.  The church would, at least once a year, have a series.  Usually it was a Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, or some other book.  It was not biblically focused although it did contain bible verses.  This series would run along side sermons.  I believe once there was no book, but the pastors had a topical study with their own studyguide for the group (though I believe this wasn’t manditory).  The manditory church wide study also involved a DVD…easy to pop in, easy to run right through. 

The group would meet, go through the DVD, discuss it, have a prayer and snack time.  These were very simplistic, and annoying.  I never objected outright, I found though we made comments at times during the DVD to keep ourselves entertained because we were bored.  One time my husband lead this and did feel some sense of accomplishment, he’d not lead the group alone before.  We did still get annoyed with the book and DVD though, it just was not very deep in biblical information.  It was more poor entertainment than anything.  The most entertainment we got actually, was making fun of the DVD in subtle ways. We usually also spiced up these times with personal testimonies and other activities rather than just plugging along in the book and DVD.

I recall getting less and less satisfaction from small group.  Not from our friends, but from the bible study part.  There were people in the group also who said they really desired to study in a book of the bible rather than in these men’s books.  We recalled our time studying Acts, and the comment was that it was a great year. 

So, what happened?  I believe churches in this trend of church wide study of books by men, and even topical study books, are in a cycle of immaturity.  These  churches have leaders who want to reach the seeker, and are refusing to even call themselves Christians but want to be Christ followers instead.  They’ve substituted men’s wisdom (which is foolishness) for God’s word.  They’ve substituted a focus on the living Savior for a focus within the man. 

It’s all about five steps, or if that gets old, about finding the mystery.  I almost feel these churches actually run in some sort of cycle.  First they entertain you, then they talk about how entertainment shouldn’t be what we’re about.  You feel guilty because you realize you’ve been entertained, and you agree, more should be happening.  So you are told you need to find your spiritual gift, and another small group theme begins.  Later you’re told it’s easy to become selfish or self foucsed in sermons, that we focus too much on busy life and on ourselves, then you’re challeneged to find your purpose, and another church wide study begins on Purpose Driven or whatever.  Then you go along happy for a while, and you’re told you need to reach out to your neighbor, and Hybels study comes along when you learn how to witness.

The next step in the cycle is discussing the youth, and how we’re missing them.  We’re also studying too much.  Youth like action, boom…you’re out picking up trash in a park or painting a school yard in service.  Eventually, you begin working on going deeper in your relationship.  You need to get closer to God, so we’ll discuss spiritual disciplines.  There you go, you’re deep.

Far, far away is the church life you had to begin with.  Sunday school with bible study, or some midweek bible study is impossible.  No longer offered at church.  Sure, you might get your group to go along with studying a book of the bible, but likely not for long.  People hear how good so and so’s book is, and they suggest it.  If you become the leader, which is encouraged, you need to let the group decide what to study until the church leadership decided to invade with an all church study.

Where did bible study go?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Just take a look at this “Tribute to Bob Buford.” I didn’t watch them all, but fast forwarded to Bill Hybels (20 minutes). He uses the account of the “Rich Young Ruler” to make a point. The point I hear (and even my 9 year old picked up on it without my help) is that Bill Hybels thinks he could have “done it better” than Christ with the rich young ruler. To some it might be subtle, but to me it is obvious and quite disturbing.

Oh, and as a bonus at the end of the clip, my daughter noted “Look, all those books and no bibles.”

http://www.leadnet.org/tribute25.asp

Read Full Post »

Like being intwined in seaweed, or brambles in the forest, we Christians are often entangled in things that make it hard to walk the path of truth.  We get into men’s teachings, and follow men.  We get into the world’s ways, become woven together with these ways.  Soon, they become a part of us, like barnacles on a whale, entwined and braided, the thorns have broken off and splinter inside.  Cutting ourselves free will hurt.  I can say, when I read about influences in the church these days I see this entanglement.  Entanglement with the mystics and the belief that it is supposed to be a part of Christianity.  The claim that to be deeper with Christ we must pracitice spiritual disciplines.   I thought Christ was our mediator, and that nothing we do can save us.  The sacrifices desired are a “broken and contrite heart….” and not contemplation. 

From personal experience, I saw entanglement coming from my very own pastors.  If writers like Nouwen, Willard, Hybels, and Warren are producing good fruit, then why do pastors who are following after them continue to loose long time Christians who are serious about following after God?  It is not the numbers that are the measure of fruit, but I believe (and I am not God so anyone out there can correct me on this) that wise people will stick with a wise pastor if God doesn’t call them to something else.  If you are loosing elder members, you might consider why.  If a church looks like the world, then it might as well be the world. 

The entanglement is confusing.  I have asked elders and pastors about contemplative prayer.  I’ve gotten some interesting answers. 

“Do not let terminology frustrate you, the Bible speaks about contemplation” (this also included transformation and meditation).  My question further would be “does it include spiritual formation?”  We didn’t ask much about that as we had enough issues…

The lead pastor of our former church said, “If you are referring to lectio divina, it’s been around since the Reformation.”  Interesting.  Many things have been around since even before the Reformation, and that doesn’t make them right.

I have heard other unsatisfactory responses when it comes to such entanglements.  “Why would you attack a ministry that has done so much to advance the kingdom” and there’s always the “you’re being unloving.” 

It hurts when people pull on the tangles, no one ever likes the rats brushed out.  It can pull and hurt.  Cutting out the cancer and treating it hurts.  What is hard, is that we were warned the weeds would grow among the fields.   We are to snatch some from the flames, but we will not be able to untangle all the knots until the return of our risen Lord.  This hurts all the more.  We can do our part, and it will not be enough but we are still called to do it.  It is finished in Christ Jesus.

Sadly, I have to admit I am entangled too.  The world is on me, though I am cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  I pick up a thorn here, a barnacle there.  I get caught up too.  I am sure the first thing that will happen after I rejoice in seeing Jesus is sheer on my face mourning.  At least for the second He allows it.   I so long to be untangled. 

Maranatha.

Read Full Post »

My husband and I have been speaking with a friend who sees exactly what we see in terms of emergent/seeker friendly/contemplatives/Warrenite/Hybels and others as a problem.  He also asks some good questions. “When and why might it be necessary to completely disassociate with particular groups?   Or when could one still associate to some degree, but with discernment?”

Any thoughts?

Read Full Post »

I am finding it interesting that every time we bring up the new age/emergent or contemplative prayer issues with certain people in our former church we often get denial.  Then we get the comments about how “it’s your perception that matters” and “you have to do what’s best for your family.”  Interpret these statements as “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” because that is what is meant.  People don’t like conflict, it’s evident that our former church leaders don’t want to think about conflict.  Many don’t want to think about the truth either.  They won’t do the basic research, or they’ll trust internally the comments of others and won’t look it up for themselves.  I found it so frustrating when I was first realizing things were going on, I would ask around.  I felt I got flimsy answers.  People trust the elders and pastors and believe they will have looked into this.  Though the emergent church is in our area, some of the pastors’ and elders’ children attend an openly emergent church…and the youthcamp has an emergent church leader/author getting known nationally, and the church has people on staff at both places, most didn’t even know what emergent church is.  Pastors and leaders strongly deny a problem.  We have never been so bold as to say outright the former church is emergent, but have pointed out the elements. 

Some saw the elements emergent.  However, we were cautioned not to worry about Rick Warren/Hybels as they certainly weren’t the same. You know, it’s true, they aren’t the same.  One elder did say things are on a continuum, and I believe that may be the case with Warren/Hybels and the seeker friendly stuff.  They are like marijuana, Rob Bell is meth.  I think Dallas Willard is in there somewhere, maybe speed?  Some authors are ecstasy.  I don’t know the true effects of drugs to make this analogy work well.  However, either way, these different authors and leaders can lead one to another.  I think actually once you go down the path a bit with these guys, it’s harder to go back to the lighter ones.  In fact, I am sure Bell and Warren actually don’t agree with one another and may dislike each other’s church models.  They have something in common though.  It’s contemplative prayer, it’s deconstructing church as it was and reconstructing it differently.  It’s mishandling of scripture as means to an end.  This is the common ground.  This is the genius of deception.  No one realizes where a 40 Days of Purpose campaign can go in the long run, in five years or so.  No one knows that their pastor has been trained how to deal with resisters.  No one realizes their suggestions will come off as sin (because resisting change is one of the things thou shalt not). 

Our former pastor denies the church is emergent and they’ve even spoken out against it.  Okay, but as one friend pointed out, they’re “not NOT emergent.”  They are influenced  by things emergent.  Noomas in small group, the youth camp, the leaders’ children going to an emergent church, the preaching from some pastors with blatant quotes of emergent leaders all point to the influence.  We were so blind to it, but thats because in our small group we tried to run it like a Bible study.  That’s because we worked with out kids in Awana and Sunday School classes and we taught them the gospel and the truth of the accounts given.  It’s also because we didn’t realize the language used in sermons has a double meaning.  We were being deceived even if it wasn’t intentional.  The pastors slowly present things to get the church further down the path to contemplative prayer (watch out, I think it’s coming to many of your churches out there).  It’s so slow, so subtle.  If you are having silence without a call to prayer, your church may already be in it.  We were at first being deceived, and then the questions came to our minds.  Later we were in denial.  Once we could no longer be in denial, we knew we had to decide.  Stay or go.  Also, how were we to function if we stayed?  We told some, we decided it would be wrong to keep our mouths shut.  We prayed, we spoke to elders.  We got resistance to change.  Finally, we decided to go and spoke to one pastor and he saw the emergent (but not the Hybels/Warren issues as a problem).  He suggested the letter, and suggested the open and frank way we wrote it.  He didn’t want us to leave, he wanted to fix the church through our loving confrontation of the issues.  We sure tried.  However, the pitbull pastor wouldn’t hear it.  He did hear some things, but mostly, he heard us attack him. 

So, now we are free.  It’s so tempting to believe we can change things.  Change can only come if hearts are soft.  God knows what He is doing.  We prayed, we did what we thought we were led to do.  After that, it’s not up to us.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been told by someone that yes, Rob Bell, Pagitt, Foster…Donald Miller are Emergent and the practices/statements they make are not Biblical, but Warren/Hybels, Dallas Willard, and even Brennan Manning are good guys and not into that stuff.  They are not in the same league, according to some.  They say the associations are weak.  Maybe they are on different paths when it comes to religion, but I think not (especially Brennan Manning).  I believe Warren/Hybels teachings are like entry drugs.  Maybe it’s an easy smoke or a pill to pop.  They are not hard core up front, but still are stepping into false teachings.  People will say, “no one is perfect, no person is a perfect preacher or writer.”  True, but I believe there are people who make mistakes and then there are those who are misleading many, many and not changing or willing to hear that they are misleading though the evidence is there.  Of course, I’m told I have to be willing to hear and maybe I’m the one not listening.  I believe Willard comes with his spiritual formation and disciplines as a bridge (like a bit harder drug, don’t know personally so I don’t know what would be an inbetween drug).  Then, when you’re hooked, you might actually go for some  Mike King, Manning (who appears to be nice on the surface too), Pagitt, Bell, and more.  Eventually, you might actually become a Buddist Christ follower.  Why not, you’ve already gone this far.  Of course, I’m sure your children will become agnostic/atheists.  After all the confusion, how could they not? 

Of course, I could be jumping to conclusions…especially since I am talking about associations and possibly misunderstand contemplative prayer.  Though it looks and sounds like meditation (new age type) because it’s centered around a verse or the name of Jesus, it couldn’t possibly be bad, right?  (sarcasm)

Read Full Post »

We have maintained contact with one pastor from our old church as he is very concerned with the changes and the emergent message.  He did email today and shared that the lead pastor is planning in some way to address the issues with the emegent church.  This is good news, but I fear it may not go far enough.  I hope that the church recognizes the influence of Dallas Willard and others (Beth Moore, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren) is part of the problem.  There is a disconnect with the “emerging” side, not realizing they are headed in the same direction.  Emergent have just gotten further down the path.  Maybe we should meet with this lead  pastor, at least to point to the truth and to his responsibility to adhere to it and preach it.  He cannot make the elders change their votes and change the system, but he can preach the truth even if it risks his job. 

On another note, we were called last night by an elder asking if we knew why people left (there are others, of course).  Specifically, it was asked if changing the children’s midweek program was the issue, which it wasn’t by itself.  He also asked about another couple’s reasons for leaving, which I felt was not entirely appropriate because we may know what we’ve been told, but should we be sharing?  In general is one thing, but a specific couple is another altogether.  It’s starting to sound like they at least notice the numbers headed for the door and want to fix this problem.  However, if they have been following the Warrenite system, they will expect this loss of people and will be proud of themselves for getting through this rough time.  We shall see in a few years how they’ve handled it…and if they’ve changed or not.  My husband is not at all interested in going back.

Read Full Post »