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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Evangel Lies: By What Purpose Be Driven?!

"Tell me since when do the means justify the ends and you build the Kingdom using the devil's tools?" - Derek Webb, A Love That's Strong Than Our Fear

I ran across this article the other day by Rick Warren in the Christian Post. The method of "soul winning" that Warren suggests is so flawed that I don't even know where to begin. A fine-toothed comb is not needed here. He starts off on a bad foot and keeps stumbling all the way through. So, I'll just start where he begins to go wrong--the very beginning.

"The longer you’re a believer, the less you think like an unbeliever. After you come to Christ, your interests and values change."

[This is probably one of the only true statements (if not THE only one) in the whole article. But it's all down hill from here...]

"Because I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, I think like a Christian. I don’t normally think like an unbeliever. Worse than that, I tend to think like a pastor and that’s even farther removed from an unbeliever’s mind-set! That means I must intentionally change mental gears when seeking to relate to non-Christians."

[Here, he makes it see as if thinking like a Christian is a terrible thing ("Worst than that..."). We are SUPPOSED to be far removed from the mindset that we were once in--before we were redeemed in Christ. It shouldn't be too terribly hard for us to remember what it was like to be an unbeliever; after all, we all used to be one (not to mention the occasional fits of unbelief that we still have even as Christians).]

"If you look at most church advertising, it’s obvious that it was written from a believer’s viewpoint – not from the mind-set of the unchurched. When you see a church ad that announces, "Preaching the inerrant Word of God," who do you think that ad appeals to? Certainly not to unbelievers!"

[Just because a term may offend someones sensibility doesn't mean that it should be negated. Besides, the term isn't going to appeal to unbelievers because it's not supposed to. That's what makes them unbelievers. He assuming hear that unbelief is docile and passive, when the bible clearly declares it as hostile and suppressive when it comes to the truth of God's word.]

"Personally, I consider the inerrancy of Scripture as a non-negotiable belief, but the unchurched don’t even understand the term. If you’re going to advertise your church, you must learn to think and speak like unbelievers. The spiritual terminology that Christians are familiar with is just gibberish to the unchurched."

[It's funny how the inerrancy of Scripture is such a non-negotiable for him, yet he negotiates the declaration of this claim before unbelievers. I can almost guarantee you that it's not the theological nomenclature (big church words) that is going to be the problem for the unchurched person--he's assuming that they won't know what "inerrant" means or that it won't be explained; it's the claim itself which they will stumble over because it's not what they want to hear.]

"I’ve often heard pastors complain that unbelievers are more resistant to the Gospel today than in the past. I don’t think that is true at all. More often than not, resistance is just poor communication."

[I find this statement to be somewhat ironic; it's usually a poor communication of the Gospel that will draw people by the millions (i.e. Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren, etc.)]

"The problem is that message isn’t getting through. Churches need to stop saying that people are closed to the Gospel and start finding out how to communicate on their wavelength."

[Truth often times is hard to hear, especially when you tell it straight. The last thing in the world that a sinner wants to hear is that they are indeed a sinner; naturally they're going to draw back. His suggestion of finding out how to communicate on their wavelength is more than just a simple act of making the gospel relevant to the culture. He is actually suggesting here that we usurp and negate the power of the Gospel by changing it to fit their felt needs.]

"No matter how life-changing our message is, if we’re broadcasting on a different channel from the unchurched, it won’t do any good."

[That's just ridiculous...in preaching the Gospel we are trying to persuade them to change to channel--to see that their watching the wrong station (to stick with his analogy). What ultimately won't do any good is for us to be on the same channel that their on; using worldly means and methods will never bring anyone to true saving faith in Jesus Christ.]

"How do you learn to think like unbelievers? Talk to them! One of the greatest barriers to evangelism is that most believers spend all their time with other Christians. They don’t have any non-believing friends. If you don’t spend any time with unbelievers, you won’t understand what they’re thinking."

[Besides this being a weak argument, there needs to be a major clarification on this point. Yes, you should have friends and acquaintances who are not Christians (if you're living in this world, it would be almost impossible). However, the way that we should relate to them should very different in many ways than the sort of relationship that I have with someone who is my brother and sister in Christ. With those who are in Christ, I can fellowship and worship. This is not possible with unbelieving friends. Due to the fact that we are on "different wavelengths", these are things that they can't necessarily relate to and can't be a part of (notice: Judas is not present at institution of the Lord's Supper--Jesus dismisses him beforehand). Our job is to witness to our unchurced and non-believing friends. If we don't we can't call them friends and we definitely can't say that we love them.]

I began Saddleback Church by going door-to-door for 12 weeks and surveying the unchurched in my area. I wrote down in my notebook five questions I would use to start Saddleback:

[Aaah, the five points of Warrenism!! Here are the practical implications of a "Gospel-less Gospel". What you are about to see laid out before you is nothing more than a marketing campaign to get more butts in seats. He more concerned with counting noses than saving souls.]

1. What do you think is the greatest need in this area? This question simply got people talking to me.

[There are better ways to start this conversation; this is a control technique. You don't want to lose any potential "customers" right away.]

2. Are you actively attending any church? If they said yes, I thanked them and moved on to the next home. I didn’t bother asking the other three questions because I didn’t want to color the survey with the opinions of believers. Notice that I didn’t ask, "Are you a member?” Many people who haven’t been inside a church for 20 years still claim membership in some church.

[What?! That's such a horrible assumption to make. What if the church is apostate? What if they're not being taught? What if it's a CULT? However, we have to consider what all of this is based on. This further solidifies the earlier point that he is not concerned with the salvation of the soul. True membership in a church can be confirmed by any number of simple follow-up questions. But this is not his concern. It's just business.]

3. Why do you think most people don’t attend church? This seemed to be a less threatening and offensive wording than: "Why don’t YOU attend church?” Today many people would answer that question with "It’s none of your business why I don’t go!” but when I asked why they thought other people didn’t attend, they usually gave me their personal reasons anyway.

[Most people who have strong convictions about not going to church or not believing in God aren't going to shy away from telling you. Most times, in fact, you probably won't have to ask or push too hard. You shouldn't even care what they think about why other people attend church--it's irrelevant to their salvation. What if the response is, " Because their weak, and they're fools to believe in a fairy tale." ? Now I have a question: How exactly does this fit into your data and statistics for how you're going to build a church? Are you willing to turn into Flannery O' Connor's character, Hazel Motes, and tell them that you are gonna solve that problem and start a "church without Christ"? At what point do you engage them with the Gospel and get to the heart of the matter? Warren never does. This idea has serious consequences, as we will see as he continues this line of questioning.]

4. If you were to look for a church to attend, what kind of things would you look for? This single question taught me more about "thinking like a unbeliever” than my entire seminary training. I discovered that most churches are offering programs that the unchurched are uninterested in.

[I don't even know what to say. That's a slap in the face to whatever seminary that he went to and it also shows his low view of teaching and preaching the Gospel at the same time. Of course the unchurched are uninterested in church; they don't know Christ! This a gross misunderstanding and bastardization of the Church of Christ from the Head of the Church himself. The church's mission in the world is to be the bearer of the Light of Truth in Jesus Christ. A non-believer isn't gonna want to have any part of that UNTIL he's been transformed by the Holy Spirit; and how does that happen? By CHURCHES (and members therein) preaching the whole truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to said unbeliever.]

5. What could I do for you? What advice can you give to a minister that really wants to be helpful to people? This is the most basic question the church must ask its community. Study the Gospels and notice how many times Jesus asked someone, "What do you want me to do for you?” He’d begin with a person’s needs.

[Here's the nail in the coffin. The church already has its marching orders; it's called the Great Commission. To ask the unchurched and the unsaved what it is the THEY would WANT from the Church is a horrible thing to do. I guarantee that they aren't going to WANT to hear about Jesus. Again, if this is their response, what do you do? It's back to Hazel Motes all over again. Because he has neglected the Gospel up to this point, he might as well misquote it. Jesus never says IN ANY GOSPEL, "What can I do for you?". The only person that Jesus answered to was the Father, God. We are to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. Not to ask them what they want to hear.]

This survey has been reprinted in dozens of books and articles. Several thousand churches have now used these five questions in their own communities. One denomination that I consulted with used these questions to start 102 new churches on a single day! If you haven’t ever surveyed the unchurched in your area, I strongly recommend that you do.

[The only thing left to boast are inflated numbers and himself because he surely can't boast Jesus as the Christ, the Cross, the Resurrection, or even the mercy of God. It's just not there. It's not even in the undertones of his inquiry. He's concerned with what they feel they need, not with what they ultimately need; Salvation from the Wrath of an Just and Righteous God. I would not heed his recommendation to use these questions as a model for building a true church. A Church that's built on anything less than the confession that Jesus is the Christ is not a church at all.] Acts 2:14-47, 17:16-34

Mark Driscoll - Cultural Values and the Preaching of Repentance

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. - Matthew 16:15-18 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2 ESV

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. - 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ESV

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1 Timothy 4:16 ESV

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. - James 4:4 ESV

"Men are fools till they submit to the word of God." - John Calvin

Soli Deo Gloria,


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