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Posts Tagged ‘Rick Warren’

I recall the venom my former pastor spit at us(not literally, ick, that would have been a sight) when my husband and I gave him a letter that connected dots.  It went from pastor’s sermons to those they quoted to others those quoted to heretical beliefs.  Rick Warren didn’t even bother to quote a person who quoted a person today on twitter, he lead his followers straight to Henri Nouwen.  Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves” -Nouwen   Funny that, our former church not only quoted Rick Warren and Dallas Willard, but they have implimented the programs.  Now, with Warren and Willard both being into people who into mysticism…I know my dots were rightly connected.  Sadly, my former pastor tried to hide those connections, tried to make my husband and me look like liars, even called us liars “from the pit of hell.”   Very sad. 

Adam and Eve hid when they sinned.  Of course, I could be taking Nouwen out of context, you see, I have no idea what book that quote comes from.  So, he might be talking about something  good, but it’s such a short quip.  Sounds bad though to me.  The point is Nouwen’s work and quotes show his mysticm, show his affinity for Buddist ideas.  No place for a Christian.

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So tired of looking around and seeking all this seeker friendly/spiritual formation stuff.  I think it’s much like the cults…mormons/JW’s and others only they have walked right into previously decent churches that once did preach the gospel correctly.  However, error was likely there before in small ways.  Then there were weaknesses highlighted.  People wanted to do better, bought into some lies, and then time passed.  Slowly, slowly, these false teachers have taken over.  Our desire for good feelings in church has pushed many to just swallow and follow.  Ugh.  I know I did it.  If I had any inkling there was something wrong I just swatted it away.  So now, we’ve got real problems all over.  The foundations have shifted and we’re not seeing Christ in the church buildings, we’re seeing falsehood.  We forgot our first love and now compromised.  I say we because, well, I was once in this type of church. 

Still, though I know how easy it is to be a party to all of this mess, I am sick and tired of it.

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Ever get the feeling someone has a button that makes this invisible hood around their head soundproofed?  I see it when I try to explain to someone the problems with Spiritual Formation style churches.  I also see it when I speak about problems with Rick Warren’s teachings.  Even if I’m sharing with someone who knows me, knows I left my former church, and begin to point out issues…I get the glazed over look and the sudden comment that they need to wash their cat.  I’m trying to decide which is scarier, a person who won’t see what’s right in front of them and avoids hearing anything critical OR a person who attacks you when you’re speaking the truth. 

People tend to do strange things in churches.  They let a lot of things slide.  Because a pastor preaches about unity, people will try to get along with severe error.  They will take a “wait and see” approach to something that is going on.  A pastor can say a situation calls for a halt on gossip, so then people are afraid to speak to each other about it.  They don’t seek counsel of other believers for fear of breaking confidentiality.  A culture of silence is created.  So when someone speaks boldly and tries to point directly to the problems, the sound proof hoods come out. 

When it happens to me, when someone puts on the hood I sigh.  I sigh and try my best to move on.  You cannot force someone to hear the truth.  I wait for a better opportunity with the person, wait a while to restate myself.  Maybe later a person will be ready to hear the truth.  I can only hope.

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Recently I came across a web page for a ministry called Vision360 co-founded by Steve Johnson, together with Al Weiss, President, Worldwide Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. (this has to do with the little church big church postings….the little church was to be a part of Vision 360 if they decided to hand themselves over to big church).   The mission of Vision 360  is to “serve and empower a collaborative church planting community in 500 global cities by 2025.” The plan is as follows, “Each city will have a City Catalyst who will work closely with the pastors to recruit church planters and business leaders, assess church planters at the national assessment center, raise the funds necessary for the church planters and then supervise the church plants. After money has been raised, each city movement becomes self-sustaining as each church plant will then give back 5% of their general fund offerings to fund future church plants.” This means there will be an outside person involved in each of the church plants, answering back to this organization. It’s almost as if they are setting up a denomination that people in each individual church may not realize they are a part of. These churches are “non-denominational” from what I can see. Each city has a “visionary” and I know one of them myself…from my former church. He’s the lead pastor.

More information on this Vision360 organization is that they are naming the training center after Bill and Vonette Bright. Erwin McMannus is on the board. A Google search cache shows Dan Southerland (I believe he’s from Saddleback originally) was one of the “visionaries.”   They are using the Lausanne Covenant, this is something I know little to nothing about.  Anyone out there know about it?
http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:a8lOoYioBD0J:www.vision360.org/contentpages.aspx%3Fparentnavigationid%3D1341%26viewcontentpageguid%3D7fe6c057-79bc-4c27-903d-c00b93ef49f4+vision+360+dan+southerland&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

So what is this all about? http://www.vision360.org/

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I recieved this very good question and thought I would open it up to get some answers from people more experienced than I. 

“My question to you is…When we talk to friends about the situation with seeker sens/emergent etc….ie Rick warren etc. we are constantly told that we shouldn’t be bashing ministries that God is blessing. How can I argue with that?? What should be my answer???

Hope someone out there can answer this for me??”

My answer simply is that numbers in the pews (or whatever) and activity in a church is not proof of salvation.  Even acts of service is not proof of salvation.   A blessed ministry can have many attenders, or it can have very few.  A church may also not be blessed and can still be doing the right thing.  What about all those who followed God with faith in the past who experienced no growth, no following, and who were persecuted and tested?  What about Job…no blessing at one point in his life, in fact curses upon curses.  You just don’t know God’s will.  Your church may be full of people out there rebuilding their community.  How is that different than the local political action group who is out there getting jobs for people and feeding the hungry?  You know, if you offer free stuff people will come.  Will their hearts be changed?  Depends on if you are offering the message correctly, depends on if there is faith and if God is in it.  We don’t know God is in it because things look good (though as Christians we’re often guilty of making those claims).

Okay, I’m rambling a bit.  Anyone out there with a more coherant response to this one?

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     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?

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Over and over I am hearing of people who have chosen to leave my former church.  Some leave for the same reasons we did.  One person recently let us know they left.  This person really tried to work it out, but just was seeing problems with YouthFront involvement and the P.E.A.C.E. plan from Rick Warren all over the place in the church.  No amount of talking or warning was enough so this person left. 

Others are still attending and thinking of leaving.  They either see the emergent (or emerging) influence or the stand the pastor is taking against “resisters” that shows a lot about the heart of that pastor.  They stay for various reasons, either family that still attends or giving it a chance to change…or for ministry obligations.  They stay, but they won’t sit silent forever. 

There are always those who leave for inconvenience, or because small groups aren’t meeting the needs they thought would be met.  Some fall through the cracks and feel out of place because no one has reached out to them.  Some want to have family service instead of all the seperation between generations.  Some are frustrated with the programs and call to get invovled constantly. 

Busy church can be hard on families.  All of these issues, though they are exactly the same as “I left because I believe the church was teaching things that are not focusing on Christ” are still related.  They are the fruits of these type of churches…seeker friendly wears thin very quickly.  Small groups with improper teaching can leave people feeling empty.  What about when men and women in the small groups aren’t really growing and have conflicts?  All of this comes from church entertainment, program driven churches.  The flock bleeds itself out the back door.  But if you listened to some pastors, this is proof things are working according to plan.

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