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Posts Tagged ‘P.E.A.C.E. plan’

I recently discovered a declining church in our area has looked to my former church for some sort of help.  I listened to podcasts, and the meetings were very interesting.  The direction seems to be a slow take-over by my former church.  *If* this melding happens, the small 50 member church will be under the authority of the eldership of my former church.  They will also get a new name, and no one can answer for sure who will own the paid off property from this little church.  Another issue is that this little church with it’s long history, has a Christian school that appears to be doing pretty well. 

I found a podcast of a meeting also on my former church’s site, and combining all podcasts available (for transparency), I hear a few concerns.  First, a church is down to 50 and that is deemed a failure. This is now an emergency according to both parties (actually, there’s some 3rd party involved) and because of this, the small church must be lead by the larger church.   I hear on the podcasts that the small church is going to get 3 pastors, at least one from my former church, one from outside (I think…it’s different) and the 3rd may currently be in leadership of the small church.  I am not clear on this exactly, but there is not a vote or anything really (they mentioned a vote of affirmation…).  The smaller church is likely going to get a name change, and the arrangements for the school are going to change.  One woman was very foward in asking why this little church wasn’t contacting former members who had left for help or relying and waiting on God instead of going to a big church to come in and run things.  Others have asked why my former church elders have to be in authority rather than the pastors and leadership at their site.  The leadership of the smaller church keeps mentioning (in podcast) the pastor who will be teaching there not from my former church who they like but have not met…but like him because people who have met him like him.  Uh…okay. 

Seems my former church is bringing a team over???and so is the outside pastor guy no one has met from the little church.  So, there will be familes coming in and becoming a part of the whole thing. The three parts joined are to make decisions, but of course, my former church elders are really the ones with authority.

I really feel very bad for this little church.  What say does the congregation have?  The focus is so much on outreach to the community with growth as the hoped end.  However, I only heard the word “worship” mentioned by one woman talking about how the little church has family worship.  The mention of glory to God, focus on Christ, being bible centered is not a factor.  It’s all business.  Sad.

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Moving on in this electronic world is hard.  It’s hard not to listen online, hard not to see people people online either.  We have chosen to leave our former church, but so far the issue hasn’t left us.  When I was overheard, this prompted a call to the pastor and a call to us (I assume it was me as I can think of where I would have been and who I was with…when I was speaking openly in public).  His statement is that the church has denounced emergent and is not headed in an emergent direction.  He says we base our information on a few sermons by a different pastor.  He also says they let go of one youth pastor, but though “we talked about Nooma videos he showed” (which we never did talk about and we weren’t aware) he wanted us to be discreet about that and thought we discussed that discreetness…uhmmmm.  We never had that conversation and thank you for proving our point.  Noomas in the youth is another sign of clear emergent leanings.  Oh, and the pastor says they let several staff members go because of financial reasons, not for the Noomas.  So they may have confronted emergent verbally, but do they see it in their staff?  Pastor claims “emergent” is dying.  Well, the terms may have changed, but the shift of churches is not dying. 

To his credit, his sermons do use scripture very much.  I don’t think Rick Warren is the same as Doug Pagitt.  I do not think Dallas Willard is the same as McLaren.  I do believe they are on a similar path, to change church and to focus on emergent youth OR on self and disciplines from Catholic mystics.  This may not be emergent.  I see other authors label it something else, contemplative something or other…maybe it’s contemplative spiritual disciplines.  To be clear, the church we attended hasn’t come out with contemplative prayer.  It has come out with spiritual formation.  This term alone links back to monks in caves hundreds of years ago.  These monks chanted and used breathing techniques as well as repetition to “meditate.”  Requirements of silence, fasting, and the like for a supposed deeper relationship with God are part of this spiritual discipline thing, as well as spiritual formation.  If the church has a spiritual formation pastor, and plans on lectio divina (as spoken by the pastor’s own mouth) and wants to follow the plans of Dallas Willard, and impliments “moments of silence” often, calls people to fast (not wrong to fast by the way, but it’s part of a larger picture here) then they are part of a movement that is not Biblical.  Focusing on this for spiritual transformation, methods and means not practiced by the disciples themselves.  I would say choosing to be disciplined is not a bad thing.  Saying you need it for deeper relationship with Christ is not accurate.  Discipline can make our Christian lives easier, can make memorization easier, and can help us to start our day in prayer.  Altering breathing, sitting in silence with no activity, these things are strange and unbibical in the context of trying to get closer to God.  Making an effort to give a sacrifice to God in our day is not wrong, as long as we realize our sacrifices are not worthy but God is gracious and merciful and can be pleased by us if we are humble and contrite (which cannot be manufactured).  Service is also a part of the spiritual formation movement.  Service in Christian life in itself is good.  However, service as a way to “get closer to God” is not.  I believe what is wrong with spiritual formation is it’s all flipped.  Service for others flows FROM the compassion we gain in Christ.  We are first made new creatures.  We have to recognize we still have a sin nature.  At any rate, our pastors from our former church were heavy into the spiritual formation books, mostly Dallas Willard. 

The one pastor who was most obvious in his sermons doesn’t make the head pastor bat an eye.  He sees no scary connections when Frost, Miller, and others are quoted.  He doesn’t even ruffle when he’s told about the “christ conciousness” or “christ coursing through my veins” or “you are little christs.”  He even defended the “little christ” comment.  He mentioned lectio divina, he defended Dallas Willard and suggested we read his books.  He defended the teaching by Steve Smith when he visited the church…the teaching that Lazarus had grave clothes and our grave clothes are life’s trials and burdens.  This teaching was strange, and bothered me a great deal and the pastor mentioned lectio divina after these stating, “it’s been around since the reformation.”  

Another pastor we spoke to said if our former church has denounced emergent doctrine and that was our complaint, we couldn’t leave then.  Well, we may not have brought out we don’t agree with following Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and we may have only mentioned Dallas Willard, but our issue is with these things too.  We also feel, and it’s hard to define exactly, but that the lead pastor is manipulative and really makes me personally nervous.  Anyone who knew we were having a meeting with the man said, “good luck.”  He is intimidating.  This alone is a red flag of warning.  In general, people give the impression they don’t really feel safe with him or may feel he’s overbearing.  Don’t know if I can pin it down.  I know I personally have been friendly to him, he’s been friendly back.  He just seems much like a man trying to proove something.  I have met men like him, if I were in single land (before marriage) I would have known two things.  This man would never choose someone like me to date, and I would never choose him.  I feel like he’d be a guy who I would fight with.  I feel like I’d be expected to act a certain way in the home.  He’s not necessarily someone who oppresses women, don’t get me wrong.  I just get that feeling when around some men, that I wouldn’t mix with him.  Usually these guys are driven and goal oriented, intelligent.  However, they seem to be demanding and perfectionistic.  It’s not authority, it’s something else.  Now this is just speculation on my part…please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying he’s a bad man or anything, just most people don’t say he’s sweet. 

Oh, see, I’ve titled this “moving on” and I cannot move on.  That is my problem.  I have got to find a way to get this out of me, let it go.  How do you let go when you think a church is being led in the wrong direction?

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I actually believe our former pastor may mention our names at least in an elder meeting.  Because one of us was overheard talking about the church, I just wonder what will come of it?  During the call, my husband shared that he cannot possibly stop telling people who ask why we left the church honestly what he thinks.  The pastor then said something like, “so likewise, I can share about you spreading rumors and saying things we don’t agree with.”  My husband said he didn’t care what they say.   It may have not been that harsh, really, from the pastor.  It was what I thought my husband said, but it was along those lines.  At any rate, I wonder if there will be some sort of larger group that will hear about this?  At any rate, it is what it is. 

I don’t believe we ever said the former church was 100% emergent.  I do believe we said there were emergent phrases and authors popping up in sermons, and that the youth camp was emergent.  The type of prayer has been mentioned as a problem to pastors, one even contacted the youth camp to get the example of prayer off the web site stating it’s not Biblical.  Last time I checked, it’s still there.   The pastor told my husband about Noomas being shown to the youth…and this was not something we’d ever heard.  It was in the context of, “I thought we agreed to be discreed about [minister X] and the Noomas.”  Huh.  So, though it wasn’t my husband who had this discussion, and I don’t recall us talking about minister X, someone has AND at least one Nooma has been shown to youth somewhere, somehow through this church.  Yet there is denial of emergent creeping in?  The pastor still was frustrated that we made connections based on who was quoted in sermons.  Okay, truthfully, it wasn’t just quotes.  A sermon was framed right from Donald Miller’s stuff.  I heard a podcast and the idea came directly from the podcast of Miller’s.  Even if only one pastor on staff was saying this stuff, it shows he is into emergent teaching and he promoted it right from the pulpit.  To NOT address this is wrong.  So, yeah, since that pastor is still on staff, there is an emergent element in our former church. 

One thing that has been true of our former church is they have been on the Warren P.E.A.C.E. plan.  So, I guess we can call them what?  Seeker friendly?  The pastors all read Dallas Willard and many recommended his works to me to read.  So, we can call the church what?  Contemplative/Spiritual Formation influenced?  The church itself uses terms like “Bible based” and “Missional.”  So, it’s an emergent/contemplative/Spirtual Formation/Missional/Bible influence church.  ECSFMBIC

Of course, we’re supposed to never say this church is emergent because that movement is dying, according to what the former pastor said.  Huh.  Bet there was a day when someone thought the Mormon church was dying too when it was in it’s early years.  Of course, renaming yourself or infiltrating churches through the back door, and many times through the front, doesn’t make you a “church” so much as it makes the churches you.  But, no, pastor…it’s not dying.  It’s doing what it has been made to do, it’s evolving.

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Thank God He’s in control, because Reuters reports a story about the economic crisis being the best opportunity for a New World Order.  Sound familiar?  Anyone see all those scary end times movies at church camp when you were a kid?   Ever think anyone would be so obvious to use the term “New World Order?”  I’ve heard it before, Bush Sr. maybe.  But still, it’s getting kinda interesting in these parts.  Oh, glad God knows what He’s doing!

http://mobile.reuters.com/mobile/m/FullArticle/CBUS/nbusinessNews_uUSTRE4A900K20081110

Check also this article from Lighthouse Trails Research:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1265&c=1

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I cannot express how difficult it is to go to another church.  It feels like I’m disowning my own family, like I’m cutting myself off from them.  Given everything, if the pastors in our old church weren’t showing clear signs of being into contemplative prayer, of merging with the New Age, we’d still be there with the other problems we’re seeing.  I mean, if we were just using the P.E.A.C.E. plan as a model and it seemed the pastors were ignorant to the New Age only, it would be something we could work with.  Even better, if we were doing all the things like missions, serving the poor, concerned about orphans, and doing service projects in the community, that would be fine.  The church promotion and marketing can be a little much, but some of what our church was doing I don’t really see as wrong.  Sending out mailers, trying to attract the community to church, well, for me that seems logical if you are evangelical.  You want to get the world to come in and hear just in case you’re meant to plant a seed for the.  However, the message is tainted.  Just a dusting or arsenic, just enough to make the cake look like it has powdered sugar on it, in fact, it does have powdered sugar.  But it also has that little bit of poison.  I was sad today thinking of my church worshipping and the message being shared, and the pastors having an agenda to eventually teach the crowd how to pray in a contemplative way.  I am sad thinking about how lost our pastors are, how blind they are.   They can talk about god-consciousness just like New Age leaders.  They speak of silence, of Christ coursing through veins, of mission, of being “little christs.”  These things slip into their speech, and no one really hears it (I did, but I’d ask and many would say no and then I’d listen to sermons online later and it would be confirmed).  Today, people filled a church building (our old church), and people were missing the mark.  So we sat with strangers, my kids taught by strangers.  We heard the message, and I listened carefully to every word.  I watched as they prayed, did they have an agenda too?  Maybe, maybe they did, maybe they are doing God’s will or maybe not. 

I did share a bit of our story with the pastor, and he understood.  He knew that shift was going on all around our city.  Just a few weeks ago an older couple visited from our old church.  The pastor knew our church was merging.  He knew of other churches with this problem.  The offered to pray for us, they offered materials for free on the topic of the New Age merging with Christianity.  The pastor even had spoken with one of the many pastors from our church and gave him a book that was a good warning to show this shift.  Did this pastor read the book?  How did it impact him?  I don’t know. 

So we visit a new church, go to lunch.  The kids say it was cool, it was different.  The younger ones liked the new songs they learned, the older ones wished the music was better.  There were only 15 children 10 to toddler.  That is a change.  We are not done looking, but this church at least looks like one that has the gospel message clear.  They are studying the bible and read through the bible in their bible study groups each year.  This is good.  More churches, more people to meet.  I just wish our old church would change.  I’d rather be there.

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Metanarrative, God’s Story, Your Story, emergent, emerging, missional (and I REALLY like missions but recognize this phrase now as used too often to mean something else), our faith journey, bible police, authenticity, plugged in (okay, this can be used anywhere to mean getting involved, but I’m sick of it), small group (whatever happened to bible study people?), tranformational, spiritual formation, we’re so excited (every change is so exciting), we’ll explain it later when it gets up and rolling, you’ll look at this in a whole new way, I highly recommend this book (and it’s not ever the bible)…

There are so many over used phrases, I cannot list them all.  I am also finding there are many over used tactics.  An idea is pre-presented weeks before,  but only in little bits.  Later, it’s advertised with flashy posters or mail out cards.  Usually, whether it’s a sermon or a children’s ministry idea, you don’t really know what it’s about until you are in the middle of the event.  This makes me frustrated.  I’ve been asking our children’s pastor for months what is going to be replacing AWANA this fall and we’re just now getting that there will be some sort of skit night once a month to involve the evidently dumb and lazy family members that have the audacity to just drop their kids off for a program.  I have to decide if I want my family involved, but all I get is a vague, “we’ll tell you later.”  Why can’t they be UP FRONT as to what they are teaching to our children?  Why does it all have to be a big unveiling?  It’s irresponsible to send your kids to do something and not know what it is about at least generally.  I only know the intent is to present the PEACE plan to the parents and children on skit night, and then there will be teaching for the whole month somehow from this.  I know this because someone I spoke with may be planning some of it and shared it with me, not the pastor who is in charge, but the friend who has no idea what the whole program is about either. 

I feel I’m being yanked along, and the plan is to get my children following along first so I cannot be free…

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