What Do You Think Of Pastor Rick Warren, "Purpose Driven Life/Church" Author?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Eightball, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. Eightball
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    Eightball Senior Member

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    I used to be a fairly consistent church going person, but in recent years, I started to observe some things in my church and others in general, that disturbed me. I went through my younger years attending and being a member of a fairly large church in California. The services were never dull, as there was very strong messages from the pulpit, and very "moving" music, and worship. This was back in the 70's. I was basking in this wave of the Jesus movement, and since then gradually started to wonder if this is really the way God/Jesus intended it to progress. I'm not questioning the omnipotence of our creator to make it correct, but I wonder if the American, Evangelical, and even main stream Protestant church is following a scriptural track in how they present the Gospel, or Good News.

    As church attendance has dropped considerably in most churches across the U.S., there have been some anomalies, to that trend, such as a large church called Willow Springs in Illinois, and Saddle Back Church in Southern California. These two churches have been adding membership at a breath-taking pace, and the Saddle Back's Pastor, Rick Warren has written a couple books on how to have this phenomena happen in your church too. One book is basically intended for non-lay people and is called, "The Purpose Driven Church" and the other for both non-Christians, and Christians, is called, " The Purpose Driven Life".

    As mentioned before with the overall decline in membership, churches, both large, medium, and small(congregation-wise), have been clamoring to find answers to this situation. Rick Warren's formula for stimulating membership growth has been embraced by literally thousands of churches across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. I don't have enought space to detail his formulae, but basically it involves making churches "Seeker Churches" or more comfortable for those that aren't believers, or Christians. In other words, traditional church services are being scrapped in favor services that make less reference to biblical terms, and more towards secular entertainment that will attract the masses. Warren feels that the service shouldn't emphasize too much biblical terminology, as this will turn away those that aren't Christians, and of course, shouldn't the church be doing everything possible to attract the "lost". Of course the term, "lost" is also not emphasized because this would upset, and turn seeking folks away.

    Warren, believes the music in the local church needs to reflect the present time and culture also, and as a result, much of the traditional hymns of the past, "Amazing Grace", "Rock of Ages", etc. should be taboo in worship, and replaced with contemporary music that un-churched folks like.......Again the emphasis to to be light on the Jesus references and other biblical terminology. In fact, "sin" is really taboo, with Warren's style of attracting the "lost".

    Now, I am not advocating a return to stark, cold, traditions, with benedictions, and memorized prayers, and "hell" and "damnation" sermons where the preacher's spit flies into the front rows of the church. I am wondering if the early church, right after Jesus's ressurrection followed Warren's methods?

    Because a church starts to lose attendance, there will be an obvious loss of revenues via tithing, and that means the church must tighten their financial belts. Large churches have large budgets. Facilities that house services, have large heating and A.C. bills. There's upkeep of all kinds, as well as salaries to be met with the normal staffs of these mega-churches. These churches have a Senior Pastor, numerous Associate Pastors, Office personal, Custodial, and others to keep this non-profit megolith running.

    Rick Warren, has offered a type of "salvation" for these churches that are literrally, in panic mode with their dwindling flocks, and the expected loss of moneys to maintain the "status quo" atleast.

    Now, my concern is mostly this. If faith, is the driving force of the Christian religion(please don't split hairs with me over calling it a religion, please), then where does this clamoring or panic for a way to grow the congregations back up and even beyond come from? Jesus said to His disciples to go forth into all the nations and tell them the Good News, and then there would be a harvest of souls as a result. Jesus also said that not all would believe, or accept this Good News. I'm concerned that the present day church in America, has in some way adopted the corporate mentality to survival and lost it's roots, or has atleast shelved or placed those early roots for it's existence in the background. Warren's philosophy, is supported in his books with numerous bible verses, of numerous translations, and many have questioned some of his applications of these verses in supporting what he teaches.

    Is the purpose of the church to make church more attractive to the non-believer by creating an atmosphere that is secular in order to bring them in? Is the church losing it's roots in faith, that "All things work together for good .........."(Romans 8:28) through grabbing for all kinds of ways to build up membership/attendance?

    Is a fast growing church a "sign" that it is following biblical methodology? Is a church that loses membership, not following biblical methodology necessarily?

    Does man in the end control the church, or is the church truly owned by the Creator of all things?

    Is Rick Warren's phenomenal church with literally thousands of members a result of growth via standing upon biblical principles, or might it be a "hodge-podge" of secular, and biblical to give it credentials before the Christian world?

    If a church hasn't the facilities to produce Broadway-like musicals as worship entertainment to attendees, is it missing something crucial?

    Rick Warren isn't doing crazy antics.....ala Benny Hinn, or Kenneth Copeland, but is greatly respected in the main stream evangelical movement. In fact, even some Catholic churches, and Episcopalian churches as well as main stream Protestant denominations are applying his methods to stimulate growth in their respective churches.

    Yet, Warren's books are on the best seller list, and now many Christian books stores sell, "Purpose Driven Lives", paraphernalia, such as shirts, booklets, and trinkets. This is becoming in itself a large industry.

    Because Warren's teachings are embraced by a multitude of churches, does that validate his teachings as biblical, and God-ordained in direction? I remember somewhere reading in the bible that there was a wide road and a narrow road, and that many would take the wide road. Also I remember something about the bible warning about some teaching would tickle the hearer's ears, and sound awfully good, yet be awfully false. Wide roads are easy to follow, and narrow roads metaphorically hint at a "tight squeeze" to navigate them. As I remember, Jesus, and later his Apostles, told us more than once that the Christian road was not going to be easy. There would be ups and downs. Yes, Jesus would make the "yoke" lighter for our lives, and in a monumental way, would give us liberty through his life passed to us by faith in Him. At the same time, His life imparted to us, would also mark us for ridicule, respect, disdain, and many other inflictions as a result of standing for His principles.

    Where does Rick Warren's methodology fit into this?

    I'm tired of having my ears tickled with Christianized entertainment. In fact the Home Church movement is starting to sound rather nice, yet I know that even those type of churches that emphasize getting back to "Book of Acts" methodology, may be missing the real focus too, yet in a different way. I don't think Jesus came to show us how to mimic His Life, but to allow His life to be displayed through us, like a lamp. We are the container for the light source, but not the source.

    I'm concerned that Warren's methods, are more man's attempt at helping God out, and God definitely doesn't need our help. We are referred in the bible as vessels to be used.........not originator's of brilliant schemes to help ourselves out of a pinch, and disguise it as helping God.

    I'm looking forward to all of your opinions.
     
  2. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    8Ball, here are my thoughts:

    1. I read The Purpose Driven Life. I found it to be a good book, filled with Scripture references, about God's general will for people's lives. I think that Rick Warren has, by writing that book, shown Scriptural truths to thousnads - perhaps millions - of people who otherwise would have never seen them. I think his theology is basically sound.

    You mentioned that the book had no mention of sin, death, redemption, etc. I don't think that was the purpose of the book. There are plenty of books like that out there, and I'm sure that as a person digs deeper into Christianity, he/she will discover those doctrines as well.

    2. As far as "mega-churches," I have an issue with them in general. I think churches should be in the business of expanding and building new branches as the congregation expands. This allows churches to be located in the neighborhoods where the congregation lives. I also don't see how the senior pastor of a megachurch can "pastor" - in other words, how do 30,000 people get spiritual assistance if they need it? Even if only 1% of the congregation wanted to talk to him each week, that's 300 people! So my only issue is with megachurches, not with Warren in particular.
     
  3. Eightball
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    Eightball Senior Member

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    I appreciate your comments, but still have a problem with a Madison Ave. approach to the gospel.

    I believe that the church is adopting some of the methods that have done well for corporations, but doesn't develope believers into mature Christians.

    The foremost emphasis in New Testament scripture is disciplership, not "bait and switch" using the excuse that it's ok to be a "wolf" in "sheeps clothing" if it works for winning the lost. I see Warren's attempt, as sacrificing the sheep to bring in the goats literally.

    I still see this "seeker" movement likened to a drowning man grabbing for straw. The commercialization of products with this Rick Warren spawned movement, are unfortunate in my opinion.

    Another interesting phenomena was this "Prayer of Jabez" obsession that happened a couple years back. So much was ministry was built/developed across the country, based on this very short Old Testament prayer. No one even knows much about the background of Jabez, but there is a danger in keying in on specific scripture and basing a ministry on it.

    One good test for Warrens approach would be to introduce it to third world churches and see what they think. I think that they would be upset, and see only materialism, self/fleshly, and totally unrealistic direction in this.

    Do we entertain them and then "jump" them like a sneeky Amway Distributor does?
     
  4. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    I think that items like the Prayer of Jabez, Purpose Driven Life, etc. have their place. But there are plenty of programs at church (or should be) to deepen a Christian's faith. Just because someone offers a little bit less deep study doesn't mean it's not useful.
     
  5. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Just wanted to make a few comments:


    Just so you know, before I comment, i definately dont think that the Evangelical and main stream protestant church is following a scriptural track in how they present the Gospel. If i thought they did i would be an evangelical and mainstream protestant. Course I still think that there are alot of good people there along with some real dumb people who make them all look bad.

    Should it really be a surprise that many of the modern approaches to the Gospel are not correct? For thousands of years the Gospel has been the same. and while faith does need to be relevant to people in all ages that doesnt mean faith should be secularized to attract more people. Whats the point of promoting a faith isnt any different than the rest of the world? it loses its power to help if you "dumb it down" to the secular world so to speak. The steps to sharing the Gospel are pretty simple (not always easy to do but simple to understand). 1) Learn the Gospel 2) get the Spirit 3) Testify.

    You can invite the Spirit in with certain types of music. But trying to get people to accept the message by being "hip" or "cool" according to the worlds standards is never the way to share the Gospel.

    This is a myth. Church attendence isnt dropping its increasing actually. its just dropping in "Mainstream" churches. The Churches that are growing are the ones that actually require people to live it. There are several studies on this phenominom. I had to read a book for one of my classes on American religion during undergrad. cant remember the title though.

    As for the actual book itself i cant comment since ive never read it.
     
  6. Eightball
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    Eightball Senior Member

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    I think that the Spirit of God isn't attracted to music, but is welcomed into a broken and contrite heart. Music is a means of worship and adoration, but in and of it's self, it has no spiritual qualities. I know that the church of Acts didn't have full instrumental music, and eloquent sopranos, but it florished.

    Membership.....I totally agree that the church is growing, it's just not doing it through man-made schemes. I think that the membership drop in the American, organized church is a way of discipline via God.......or a pruning process to force man to realize that it's God's church not man's.

    Ever notice that the church seems to truly expand where there is suffering.......when things get comfy....the church starts getting weird, and unscriptural in it's attempt to capture it's Spiritual roots.
     
  7. clumzgirl
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    clumzgirl Member

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    Wow, there must be a big difference between PDLife and PDChurch. I found PDL to be incredibly helpful, educational, etc. From what you've described, it kind of sounds like Warren has a plan for McChurch. Taking the analogy further, just because you can get food and fill yourself at McDonalds, it doesn't mean it's good for you or will satisfy. Same with churches. Just because it's thriving membership-wise and financially, it doesn't necessarily mean it's getting through to people in the way it should.
    On the other hand, just because it's a megachurch, it shouldn't be discounted completely. I'm sure there are some very dedicated, true Christians there.

    Personally, I find huge churches intimidating and cultish. But that's just my humble opinion. I prefer the traditional hymns, liturgies, etc. I find reassurance in routine. I know many churches incorporate "early" services for those who prefer contemporary worship. Same with youth groups. There are plenty of ways to make all feel welcome without sacrificing basic tenets and turning church into a Fortune 500.
     
  8. Eightball
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    Eightball Senior Member

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    I apologize if my original thread made you think that I didn't think believers existed or frequented maga-churches. To the contrary, I believe that many do, yet, I still wonder if this is the atmosphere for healthiest, individual growth as a Christian.
     
  9. clumzgirl
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    clumzgirl Member

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    No. I believe it would be too easy to get lost in the flock, so to speak.
     
  10. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    I agree.
     

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