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Posts Tagged ‘missional’

My husband is out there working, and out and about, has run into a few pastors from our old church.  One pastor spoke to him a bit.  We’re attending a church regularly (by no means becoming members because we have to really examine it).  The pastor and my husband spoke about it, and the pastor told us it was a good fit for our family and a healthy place to be.  He then spoke of the letter (he was one on the list we sent it to) and told my husband what is most important is “your perception.”  An elder told us what was important was that our family found a church we were comfortable in, find a church that’s best for our family.  Wow.  So basically, it’s the “if that’s how you see it it’s okay, go ahead and go to another church.”  It’s sort of a nice way of saying what we brought up doesn’t matter, really.  It’s just our perception of things.  So, since our “perception” is not reality to them, are we just plain crazy?  I don’t think it was our perception that heard the pastor quote Donald Miller and Michael Frost, both of whom are pretty deep into either emergent/contemplative or missional programs.  Michael Frost defined missional in a conference I watched on YouTube (got the context this way) and he said a church centered around missional does not think that worship is the organizing principal, nor fellowship, nor evangelism.  No, it’s the mission of God (as defined by what person or person?) that’s the organizing principle in these missional churches.  Okay, how am I to perceive this?

We have a meeting Monday morning with the lead pastor of the old church.  I do not have any idea how we’re to prepare other than to pray.  I do not want to organize a point by point and sit and tell him things that are wrong.  I feel our letter was pretty direct and he didn’t address much in it that we did hear and see and read in transcript of one sermon his co-pastor preached.  He eventually said that the pastors’ sermons were not full of men’s quotes, not emergent in nature, and did not take Christ out of the central focus.  It’s true, this lead pastor does preach less quotes of men, and he uses scripture.  I don’t really know for sure that this pastor’s sermons were off by a lot.  He did talk about the Nephalim, said things like the angels brought the gospel…a few unusual quotes here or there.  He has preached on contending for the faith in the meantime asking people not to be “Bible Police.”  What?  He does use a lot of illustrations like having an actual boat on stage, or other props (not always a problem though, the visual is effective at times).  One previous member has noted that the focus of the sermons is can at times be how we can use the word of God, or other aspects of the Christian life (like prayer) to get something we want.  Usually, that something is a noble thing like we can feel good by serving others, we can grow our church by reaching the emergent youth, we can pass down Christianity by taking this “young adults are leaving” the church seriously.  We can reach the world and change the world if we only plan and have a vision and then follow that vision.  Plan big plans and make big goals, and there you have it, success.  This is interesting, because I’m not sure Moses had big plans and goals.  I think God had the plans, and Moses was just to obey.  In fact, men’s big plans were never what gets success (as defined by God) but what did get across what God wanted was obedience to Him.  Now, if he wanted to show His glory, God also used disobedience in contrast with obedience.  Look at Pharoah, God used his hard heart to bring glory to himself and also to attain His end.  So, really, what causes “success” is God.  Period.  A pastor may end up with an empty church, and somehow (not in human terms but in God’s way) this could actually be success to God.  This is because God is knows what He is doing.  How successful was Noah when the whole world except his family had to be drowned?  Who failed there?  It certainly wasn’t God’s failure.  So, in terms of pointing out problems in the meeting, I can only say we may point out that the references to vision and plan can be misleading.  We have to seek for God’s plan in things…but maybe not in the big picture as He might not share this with us (okay, we have the BIG picture of Christ’s return, but I mean big in terms of what our lifetime has to do with the whole thing).  However, we do have God’s word for our conduct.  When events occur that push us into God’s bigger plans (if He chooses us for that), then we have His word to guide us.  We can pray and we can get counsel from believers.  We trust God, and we press forward.  It may be that we are killed, or have to have church underground.  It may be that we are starving or in prison.  It may be that we’re just in a holding pattern, living a certain way for a long time as the Israelites did in Egypt.  Hundreds of years and several generations before God made a bigger move.  Years before the Egyptians got worried and then made them slaves.  Years more before they were freed to go to the promised land.  Years of wandering in the desert.  Years and years, when it may have seemed no one had any success.  But God was not unsuccessful through all that.  And in our lives, it’s not OUR vision and OUR plans, it’s not even exciting events.  It’s not our testimony, our story, or our anything.  It may be God’s will that I am a mother, and teach my children.  It ma;y be his will that I live long, and not much happens in my lifetime.  I have to be obedient in my life whether I am meant for leadership and large evident changes, or whether I just have laundry to do for my family.

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Family

Shared the Lighthouse Trails article with a cousin, and she and I spoke on the phone.  When I described what has happened in my church, and the characteristics of Warrenite churches, or missional churches of late, she said it sounded just like what happened to her grandparents and aunts and uncles on the other side of the family.  They attend Nazarene churches, and they have noticed a more “seeker” friendly approach, with rock concerts and the like to draw people.  They have seen changes, tried to confront them, and have been told to like it or lump it, basically.  They have left the church and tried to start another Nazarene church in a nearby community.  They were told that the community was too near the other one and would pull members away from the changing Nazarene church (duh).  So many members have left and have no place to go.  I fear they are going to have to meet independently.  Sad.  These are salt of the earth Christians here being ignored and let go by the Nazarene church and the pastor.  They were members of this church for maaaahhhhaaaannnyyyyy years.  This means nothing to the seeker sensitive pastors.  Not sure they are actually Warrenites, but sounds like it.  I feel for these elderly people, who in the later days of their lives have been abandoned by their own church home.  They are not emerging youth, so they mean nothing.  What of their wisdom, and what of all that can be gleaned from them?

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It’s been an odd 8 months.  We didn’t know anything about contemplative prayer, and the concerted effort by a diverse group of people to shift American (and possibly world) churches toward disciplines, missional focus, and contemplative/lectio divina and other forms of prayer.  Now that we know more, we still have more to learn.  People want to make distinctions between emerging, emergent, emergence etc.  Just read Christianity Today’s blog, and saw a video by Doug Paggitt talking about these words.  The blogger said this:

“In this video, Doug Pagitt explains the relationships between the terms emerging, Emergent, and “emergence.” It strikes me as trying to decide which layer of the Incredible Gobstopper is the actual Gobstopper. But you should decide for yourself.”

Link to the youtube…and blog here… (scroll down as the titles aren’t clickable…) It’ s the Sept.22 2008 entry

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/

I really like the gobstopper picture of it all.  Our church was maybe into layer three of the gobstopper.  The center is the focus on shift/missional (mission of god as defined by some team somewhere).  If your church has been shifting, then they are a part of this gobstopper.  I think it’s better to be in a church with Christ and the gospel as the center…with the focus on the Solas.  The layers are all part of it.  I don’ t know though if Christianity should be described as a layered thing, because it’s not like some secret society where you get higher and higher levels and deeper and deeper secret knowledge.  I think with Christianity either you are or you aren’t, either you believe or you don’t.  Anything beyond that is maturity.  But, for this emerge (merge with something out there) phemomenon, it’s a multilayered thing.  Your church may just be on the very outside, and can probably detatch pretty easily.  The closer to the center, the harder it is not to have been changed (have missional in you…be a part of it).  It’s harder to get out of the whole thing when you have been wrapped in layer upon layer of beliefs and requirements. 

As a person once on the inside of this, then on the outside, it’s an education to see what each layer is abou, and see the connectedness between them.  The outside layer appears to be the inspirational/feel good side.  You can read it and not really get hooked.  The next may be the seeker friendly movement.  Your church may do the 40 days of purpose, but not really change the whole church based upon it.  Small groups pop up, but really they are Bible studies and not just small groups.  Deeper in, your church really means 40 Days and you have small groups, Bible focus is shifted.  No Paggitt (who is he?) no Bell (what) and you still have pews or seats.  Next is the artsy thing, church is more into creativity and more and more pastors mention authors you’ve never heard of.  You have gone from popular/Christianity lite to a deeper “spirituality” with people talking about going on a journey or their story in God’s story, or God’s dream.  This is really where my church was.  We’d have preaching with Bible passages, but beyond that, the pastors used many theories of men to push a mindset about church, our mission (which someone defined for us out there), and what was valuable.  I think the youth in our church were actually on a different level.  At least one pastor was into Rob Bell and that stuff.  Youth were sent to a camp where they taught outright contemplative prayer, praying on a prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, and the like.  The leader of these camps has photos of kids in a pose where they are flat on their backs with feet and arms relaxed…eyes closed.  Supposed to have been a great moment of great closeness to God.  Okay.  We weren’t at that layer in our church, but our teens would have been exposed to it.  I believe the pastors deny our involvement with emergent or whatever it’s called, but our youth were involved.  Because it was an outside source, we weren’t a part of it.  Yeah, right.

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Another sign that Ravi Zacharias has gone to the contemplatives/missional/disciplines side of things…

I read an article today linking a youtube video.  In the video, Ravi refers to Henri Nouwen very positively (about 6 minutes in).  So, what are Christians to do about the leaders of the church, many loved and respected, who show themselves influenced by these contemplatives and/or downright New Age change agent authors?  I know we must pray, check ourselves to see if we are sinning.  This is for sure.  We need to also pray and ask God about our situation.  Are we to confront, speak out, or something else?  I think we need to be very wise, and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Anyone have an opportunity to ask Ravi questions in a forum?  I say someone needs to ask him about prayer or something in a pointed and careful way just as Christ would.  He’s one who might see the error of what he has been promoting, maybe?  I personally want to get in to the Bible Answer Man and call with a prayer question, and ask specifically about his opinion of some of these authors while on line.  I think we should be kind and loving, but also wise…as serpents…gentle as doves (please site the verse for me and make sure I’m not misquoting or taking out of context here…). 

I truly love Ravi Zacharias though I’ve never met him.  I pray for him and his family, and his ministry.  Maybe God will put someone in his path that he can listen to on this issue.

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Came across this little site when looking up information on Dallas Willard. The local youth camp organization my old church is very involved in(at least three I know of are on staff at the youth camp, and I’m sure there are MANY more) is a location listed as a training place for this organization…or whatever it is.  On the board are Brian McClaren and Dallas Willard.  Going through the videos shows how far this thing is reaching into the seminary community at Christian colleges.  Note on this link the little clip they play reveals they want to go back to the “Hebrew and the Greek” through Missional eyes.  Everything must be interpreted through the Missional filter.  These people are teaching the people our children and children’s children will be listening to in church.  The battle is going to be VERY long fought here.  One little family speaking out in our church will do nothing to stop this Missional movement.  The only hope is that God will use what we have done, and those we have educated can get out while the “getting is good.”  Pray, people, pray.  At first I thought it might be paranoid to say we are in grave danger here, those of us who are Christians.  Now, I believe differently.  Anyone take history courses dealing with exactly how Hitler was able to become Germany’s leader?   Even as I write this, I want to take it back.  Paranoid?  Hmmmm….

Impacting how we look at the Greek and Hebrew with this Missional thing?  Worse than Jehovah’s Witnesses rewriting the Bible in English.  Teaching leaders how to look at everything through Missional glasses, and you then don’t have to rewrite anything.  And the intellectuals say, “give me the fork so I can eat this up!” Makes me sick.  Be careful though, it’s subtle.  Notice the code words in many videos on this site.  story, narrative, journey, shift, change, post-modernity, community

Can you find any more?

http://www.allelon.org/history.cfm

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My letter received so far only one response of the three pastors.  An email came today seeking small group materials that are still out, we probably do have them somewhere.  The email was addressed to the other couple in our group and to us, both leaving church.  It was the “we’ll miss you and they’ll be blessed for you” kind of message.  Light, easy, and not addressing the issues at all.  The other couple didn’t have quite the same problems, so the email had to be generic.  Though I knew this would have to be the response, it still hurts.  I’m sure our note is just one of the expected complaints they will get for changing the church over to a “missional” church.   One of my friends says since we made it clear we are leaving anyway, they appropriately responded.  It just feels like they should do more.  But then again, why?  They know they aren’t planning to change.

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Anyone have this feeling?  I wish I was wrong.  I wish I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I am really getting frustrated thinking about how many churches are falling for this falsehood.  All this interconnection.  The Bible says you’ll know them by their fruits.  Wonder if it also applies that you’ll know them by their roots?  (I do not want to write something new into the Bible, so don’t take “know them by their roots” as a Biblical statement…).  Trace the fruit.  You hear your pastor say something about “just say a word while in prayer, say it over and over again but not at all in an eastern meditative way…” during a sermon.  So, you begin to wonder where this is coming from.  I mean, your church went through the 40 days series (is it three books now???) and religiously uses Hybels materials in small group.  Your women go to Beth Moore conferences, and you note your pastor mentions new names.  Campolo, Willard, Donald Miller…every week a new author.  Follow the vines. 

My old pastor positively quotes Donald Miller and in fact used his material for a recent sermon.  www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com has an article that shows what Donald Miller’s roots go down to.  I quote from their page…

“In Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, in the Acknowledgements, Miller thanks New Age meditation proponent Daniel Goleman, who writes books about mantra meditation, Buddhism. He was the editor for Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health

“For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, p. 115 See The New Missiology

Following to the root shows that the plant is not wheat but weeds.  Ugh.

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If you are in a church claiming to be using Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan or claiming a missional organizational stance, then see if this description sounds at all familiar.

“Disciples Initiated disciples have no interest in anything but the vision, the Plan and its direction and materializing on earth. Accepted disciples are learning this and in the meantime have to react to the vision in what might be called a second hand manner; they are occupied with the Plan and with the distribution of the forces which will materialize it. A disciple becomes an Accepted Disciple when he starts climbing towards the vision, towards the mountaintop; he can also register consciously what he has seen and then begin to do something towards materializing it. Newly accepted disciples (who are only learning to cooperate) are valuable as “agents for experiment.” According to their reaction to the imparted truths and Plan, according to their ability to sense the need and to bring the need and the medium of release into relation and according to their capacity to work with the world disciples (who are definitely responsible to the master of the Ashram for some aspect of the Plan) will be the success of the effort in the outer world.”

 

This comes from the glossary of www.soulout.org.  This is not a Christian site.

 

 

Sounds to me a LOT like what is going on in mergent Borglike churches.  Assimilate or die, resistance is futile?  I hope not! 

Of course, I was told by an elder in our old church that everything is on a continuum, and our church is on the spectrum somewhere.  No church is perfect.  Any thoughts on this.

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I will post more on this later, but suffice it to say we are no longer going to the church of our membership.  We entered membership in one church, and it is no longer the same.  It feels like I’ve rejected my very family.  I saw the old lead pastor who is now a pastor of a different department after his sermon and just told him, “I love you…you’ll understand more later, but I love you.”  He told me he’d pray for me.  It puzzled him, I know it.  Now I pray for him.  It’s like I’m disowning my own father when I leave this man, in a way.  I mean, he doens’t know me very well because of our big church, and I don’t know him well either.  However, my affection for him was as that of a father or dear uncle.  He just is a precious man who is now bringing the New Age movement right into our church through “missional” and Rick Warren, and Dallas Willard.  He sincerely, along with other leaders, felt that our churched people, our knowledgeable Christians were getting too comfortable and not serving.  Therefore, they sought a new plan.  They found missional, they found 40 Days of Purpose, they were sold a lie.  Now they have to live in it and it’s going to be hard to unstick the barnacles that go with it.

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One of our pastors loves to read.  Evidently, it’s a lot of emergent type folks.  I spent a few hours with just two names from one sermon last evening.  First, I looked up Michael Frost.  I found a video clip of him speaking and discovered he believes a “missional church” is to be organized around a fundamental agenda…mission.  He did say specifically that church is not to be organized around worship or evangelism.  Okay.  Well, I thought church was to be organized around, uhm, oh, I’d like to HOPE it would be organized around Christ and His Word.  Am I off here?  (snark)  He spoke well of people, that’s for sure stating that “every person bears the image of God” or has a trace of God on their souls, buried in their souls…or something like that.  What of “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?”  This is what he called the imagiodeo.  (did I spell it correctly?).  I don’t think those of us created in God’s image actually have a little trace of God in or on our souls.  My pastor quotes this man positively.  He later quotes Don Miller, and basically takes word for word a quote of his from someone else.  I listened to the quote while hearing a “sermon?” Miller gave at Mars Hill on Story.  My pastor used a word for word quote in similar context.   Don’t try to tell me my church isn’t dabbling emergent or whatever little label they are today.  Missional, emergent, whatever, it’s all the same. 

Icing on the cake of the day:  The sermon contained the phrase “God consciousness.”  Lovely.  New Age enough for you?

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