See also Apostasy of Rick Warren
Purpose Driven Church – No Cost Christianity
by Susan Bertalotto
Do the following scenarios sound familiar in YOUR church?
“The pastor is preaching differently. He now preaches ‘sermon series’. And the topics for the next two to three months are printed on a card and mailed to my house. The topics he’s using are from life experiences, and we rarely use our Bibles anymore. We’re not even encouraged to bring our Bibles. It’s like our church changed from ‘preaching from the Bible’ to telling life stories and finding paraphrased scripture to fit the story.”
“We don’t have an ‘altar call’ anymore. People who want to get saved just fill out a card, or prayer is offered, but the pastor says ‘no one wants to embarrass you or put you on the spot, so you don’t need to come down for prayer if you’re embarrassed to do so’. Jesus says in Luke 12:8 that ‘whoever confesses Him before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God’. And isn’t it biblical that people get prayed for? What’s going on?”
“When was the last time we had communion as a church body? Since when can’t we have communion on Sunday morning anymore? If someone gets offended by the remembrance of JESUS (Luke 22:19), are we supposed to stop doing it to make them feel ‘comfortable’?”
The Purpose-Driven Church (PDC) curriculum and book were written by a Southern Baptist named Rick Warren. He is the senior pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA. Included in the book are very detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to run the Sunday morning service. It is amazing how the PDC affects the Sunday morning service! There are to be no silences in the service. Everything has to be programmed beforehand so there are no surprises. So there is no place for God. The ‘audience’ is not encouraged to seek God in the Sunday morning service. God is put in a box for an hour and a half while man ‘draws people to God’.
In the beginning, the PDC was created to bring unchurched people into the church, get them saved, and disciple them with the doctrine of the day. The major flaw with that thinking is REMOVING THE HOLY SPIRIT from the equation. Because the Holy Spirit is not a part in bringing people to God (bridge events and ‘comfortable’ services are supposed to take care of that), the Spirit of God is subdued in churches that are ‘Purpose-Driven’.
According to Mr. Warren, ‘There is no such thing as Christian music. There are only Christian lyrics.’ (Purpose Driven Church pg. 282). Shouldn’t the Spirit of God be behind Christian music and lyrics? The PDC book does not refer to the power of the Holy Spirit until the end, seemingly as an afterthought.
IDENTIFYING A PD CHURCH
One way of identifying a PDC is the jargon and acronyms. Here are a few:
Core Meetings, S.A.L.T. Meetings (Salt and Light Together), Bridge Events, BASE Classes (101, 201, 301, 401), baseball diamond classes, ‘Our Target’, Life Development Institute, Seeker Services, Community/Crowd/Congregation/Committed/Core illustration, ‘Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission’, S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual gifts, Heart (Motivation), Abilities, Personality, Experiences), C.L.A.S.S. (Christian Life and Service Seminars).
If your church is PDC, your pastor has access to (and is probably using) the sermons and outlines from Saddleback Church, and is using a paraphrased Bible for scriptural quotes. The sermons and outlines are very much the same as the one you heard last Sunday (and the Sunday before) — usually with points that use the same first letter or are in the form of an acrostic. They are basically assembly-line sermon series . Your pastor did not get these sermons from the Holy Spirit through prayer and fasting! Also included are life-stories, skits, and video clips (perhaps some of them inappropriate to be seen by children).
The bridge events (reaching out to the community) are non-events – inoffensive and innocuous. Jesus and God are usually absent, in Name and in Spirit. Everything is organized and controlled by the church staff to make everyone feel comfortable, and to make the attenders feel ‘happy’.
FEEDING ON MILK
In Romans 8:8, Paul says, “So then those who are living the life of the flesh, catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature, cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him.” (The Amplified Bible) Why would we want to please man when God is the One we serve and love?!
Hebrews 5:13-14 “For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness, for he is a mere infant, But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.” (The Amplified Bible)
The PDC is designed to keep you wanting the milk, not the meat, of the Word of God. If you want anything more from the teaching in your church, you will be labeled a complainer, a person who is unwilling to help the new Christians who are being spoon-fed.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says “For the time is coming when people will not tolerate sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching for something pleasing and gratifying, they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” (The Amplified Bible)
Unfortunately some have chosen to use another way to ‘reach people for Christ’, with distortions, deceptions, and pride. We don’t need man-made programs to help people know they need God. God has already outlined that for us in His Word. There is too much sin, flesh, and garbage between man and God. But we humans, in our infinite wisdom, bombard them even more garbage. Promises to take care of their ‘felt-needs’, promises of ‘no-cost Christianity’. When all they need is JESUS to pull them out of their sin and show them the Way to God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the WAY and the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” If we truly believe that, then we must live it. Let’s always keep our focus on what is true, and we will only find that in the Word of God.
‘No-cost Christianity’ is not an option according to the Bible. In the Ministry 301 class, the way a person is supposed to find his spiritual gifts is to fill out a personality profile, find his S.H.A.P.E., and then go into the ministry. But in 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord told Paul “My strength is made perfect in WEAKNESS”. God does not glory in our strengths. He glories in our WEAKNESSES, our self-denial (take up My cross and follow Me), our willingness to put away human desires and follow Jesus (humbleness). Worldly and business values teach us to find our strengths and use them to make our mark in this world. But the Bible teaches the exact opposite! Do you know of any time your pastor has taught (on a Sunday morning) that we as Christians must allow God to work through our weaknesses, not our strengths and egos? Most likely not! That is a very unpopular teaching, but it is a very fundamental instruction from the Bible. There is a cost for following JESUS. The cost is completely turning away from SIN, the cost is denying our own desires and following the Word of God, not a compilation of stories to make us feel good. This teaching dulls our spirits, keeps us from seeing the real truth. It may feel good for a time, but in the end it is not satisfying.
God is wanting His people to stand up for His righteousness, not hide under a cloak of ‘niceness’ and ‘feel-good platitudes’. If we truly want others to know God, we must have the BOLDNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT to show them who is God.
Be careful of the material you are being taught in your church through the PDC curriculum since NEW AGE spirituality is the basis for some of the classes and sermons.
WE BUILD PEOPLE
WE BUILD PEOPLE strategy is a Rick Warren-endorsed adaptation of PDC, implemented by the Assemblies of God.