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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Purpose(ly) Driven Off from Church - It Doesn't Have To Happen

Recently the Wall Street Journal and Baptist Press have noted a disturbing trend.

Pastors wanting grow their church into a mega church and looking to Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Church" seminars for the instant recipe mix are leaving split churches in their wake. Life long church members with years of service to a particular church are finding themselves ousted as troublemakers and rabble rousers if they oppose the new measures.

But it's not fair to blame Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church methodology or any methodology really. The spirit of Diotrephes can manifest itself in many forms, though many prideful pastors seem to be using Warren's words as a pretext for their self-exaltation. We did hire them to be the Messiah, right? (Oh wait, I think He's already come! That's why there was a church there in the first place!)

I remember reading Warren's book and I remember the part that could be taken to "prove" the need to drive off rabble rousers.

As Warren was building Saddleback from scratch as a church planter, new visitors attracted to his nascent church would say things like "At ___________ we used to do ___________". Since he was building the church from scratch and he had the investment in the church, not they, he'd suggest they may be happier back at their other church. I'll bet many times the left the last place in a huff and it was probably good advice not to seek a "geographical cure" for their personal inablility to get along at church.

When Messiah wannabe pastors though come to a church where they were invited to be a shepherd, the situation's entirely different.

It's the long term members who have the investment in the place.

Their attitude is "he acts like he wants to be here, but we'll give it a few years." That's why folks say it takes 6 years in a church to have maximum impact. Till then, the people still wonder if you'll be gone on the next train.

So when Messiah II (the new preacher) comes in, unpacks his bags, and starts changing things before he even remembers anyone's name - whether it's to help the church be "Purpose Driven", "Liturgical", "Free in the Spirit", "Evangelistic" - you name the symptom in front of the disease of pride - and tries bending people who don't trust him to his iron will, the manure's going to hit the spreader.

I chalk most of these splits in the name of trying to be "Purpose Driven" to pride, foolishness, and utter lack of love. Some of these people posing as pastors can taste success so badly they'd excommunicate their mother from the church as a "rabble rouser" if they didn't coo like a dove after every sermon. They're just climbing the ladder of "pastoral success" and looking for the right rung to launch their mega church reputation from.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

I ran across the blog of a pastor whose writing exudes pastoral love and concern. The man purposely chose a small church - and to minister to other small churches in his area - because of his heart for the small church.

When I checked out his church's website, lo and behold, he lead this small church to be "Purpose Driven".

Do I think his church's adoption of Rick Warren's methodology will cause a split?



He's not pompous, arrogant, or self-centered! That's why. It used to be called having a "pastor's heart". That's not discussed much in the CEO model of the church.

So he's going to use the method to revitalize his church and the cluster of churches he has influence with.

God bless those pastors who are doing what they feel to be the most faithful things to build up the body of Christ.

They'll do so with a pastor's heart that seeks the lost sheep without driving away the "ninety and nine".