Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Are You Dancing? II -The Worship of Warren

I will borrow from a previous post to start off with.

An Organ Grinder was someone who traveled around town and played a tune on a portable organ for money. Oftentimes the grinder would have a monkey with him who would dance to the music and would walk around and collect money from those observing.

I bring up Organ Grinders because the church often reminds me of the monkey who dances around when the music starts playing. The question is, “Who is playing the music?”

Yes, I think the lost world is playing loud music. I also think that there are some possibly under the guise of “Christian” that are playing it; namely Rick Warren.

As a pastor I am sickened by the throng of “Christian” literature that is on the market that is meant to be a help in the ministry that I serve. We have Bible studies that are flavored with The Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith and who knows what else. And then we have the plethora of Purpose Driven drivel.

Mr. Warren has international attention at his disposal at any moment. He sells truckloads of books and is considered the guru in church growth.

As a pastor the idea of church growth will get most of us to turn our heads for a second look. We want our churches to grow. We want to see the Kingdom enlarged. We want to see God honored and His people growing. But upon closer examination, the diet that we are being fed from Mr. Warren and his ilk is so watered down that I am not sure what it is supposed to resemble. Let me share a few concerns.

“The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life , 2002, pg. 231) [emphasis mine]

I have had to read and re-read this quote many times. To me this is a lowering of the value of the Sword of the Spirit which is exactly what Satan wants for the Christian.

I must admit that I am very hesitant of something that the masses are falling in love with; especially if it is about the Lord. It seems that everything that Rick Warren says is put into print and sold at a price. Why should someone who wants to “help” pastors sell their ideas that supposedly came from God?

According to Romans 3.23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

This alone lets me know since everyone is born a sinner and separated from God that their nature will run from anything that does not glorify the flesh. It reminds me of when I was a child and I would be playing and then…there it was. The ringing bell! It was none other than the ice cream truck as he drove through the neighborhood ringing his bell. Children would scramble for change and bolt out the door to see if they could catch him.

So, ministries and bookstores tell us that our ministries are not complete or fulfilling the calling that Lord has placed on our lives until we read the latest offering of Purpose Driven nonsense.

How to increase baptisms at your church
by Rick Warren
As pastors, we all want to see more people celebrate brand-new relationships with Christ through baptism. Nothing symbolizes life change like it. We’ve baptized more than 20,000 people in the past 26 years at Saddleback. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two about giving people an opportunity to make this kind of commitment. Here are some tips to help your church increase its number of baptisms.
http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=267&artid=9616&expand=1 [emphasis mine]

I suppose by the numbers stated above that I should listen to his “thing or two” about moving people to make this commitment.

I remember serving as an associate pastor in North Georgia where I served under a godly pastor who is now with the Lord. I distinctly remember him being questioned by the pastor search committee. “Can you tell us how many people you baptized in your last church?” The soon to-be pastor said, “If you will tell me how many people look like Christ in this church I will tell you how many I baptized in my last church.” They sat silent. At that moment God starting teaching me that it was His business to save and it was my business to be holy and share Him. It was not my business to bring the masses in and have membership and baptism campaigns.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 1Cor. 3.5-6 [emphasis mine]

It appears that as pastors we have been led (slight of hand?) to focus solely on numbers, comforting sinners, solving the social ills of today, and getting along with each other and all the while ignoring the holiness of God, the demands of God, the sin of man and the substitute provided by God.

“What you win people with is what you win people to.”
-The godly pastor that I mentioned earlier

As pastors we are to hold God and His perfect Son up for everyone to see.
It is our job as pastors to teach the church to put Jesus Christ on display. We are to reflect the image of Christ to a lost world. We are not to “draw” people in with our music, youth programs and whatever else we can muster. We have to let them know of the demands of God. We have to let them know of His holiness and their sinfulness. We have to let them know that they are separated from God and without His intervention first, they are Hell bound. This is not about scaring people; it is about the facts laid out in Holy Writ.

The only way that a sinner can be changed and reflect the image of Jesus Christ is for God’s Spirit to invade that person’s heart and change them.
We are not to make a sinner comfortable in his/her sin. To do so would be to compromise His holiness and righteousness.

Pastors, I encourage you not to abandon the Word of God for a book-study or how-to methods. Mr. Warren is not the guru in church growth. He is the guru in growing a business that he calls a church.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2.46-47 [emphasis mine]

Who is playing the music that you are dancing to?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding Christians that it is God and His Word, not the word of men, that should be important to us as Christians. God calls those who come to him. As Christians we must filter everything we that we read and hear through God's Word.

Anonymous said...

A lot of wrong information and things taken out of context here, so I'll just give you two easy ones:

"The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.”

Read in context, he is NOT saying that Christians shouldn't attend Bible studies. He is saying that many Christians go to study after study, fill their heads with knowledge, but put no action to that knowledge, and thus aren't really 'acting' on what they know. Who would disagree with that?

"It seems that everything that Rick Warren says is put into print and sold at a price. Why should someone who wants to “help” pastors sell their ideas that supposedly came from God?"

Warren has never copyrighted his sermons and has given them away for 25 years just to help pastors. Saddleback has given away much.

Dead Theologians said...

Anonymous #1,

Thanks for the post. You are so right. It is not about us. It is solely and totally about Him. The churc belongs to Him.


Dead Theologians said...

Anonymous #2,

You cannot speak for Warren here. He made the comment and if he meant differently, he should have clarified it.

Pastors.com does sell its services.

It matters none to me what Saddleback gives away. My fear is that the whole counsel of God is not being preached. You know, sin, Hell, judgement, grace alone, faith alone and Christ alone.


Andrew said...

Dear Dead Theologians, I appreciate your point about numbers not being important, but anonymous #2 has clearly corrected you on the two quotes. Rick Warren clearly did not mean what you thought he meant about the value of bible study, and he doesn't put into print and charge for everything as per your quote. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that one could criticize about Rick Warren, and it is important to weigh a man's words and actions as you are doing. And, of course, salvation is not about superstars, but about God's Holy Spirit working.
Blessings, Andrew


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