Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another War Story From A Wounded Warrior

The following letter was first sent to me as a comment on my recent blogpost, Always Right, Sometimes Wrong! Because of its length and relevance, I have decided to publish it here as a new blogpost. The author is known by me but will remain unidentified.

Greetings Ralph,

I have been pondering your latest post concerning a time you say you were wrong. Lately I seem to be finding myself in that same position,.....trying to determine where I went wrong in some basic judgement.

More than forty years ago I promised to write a book on Church Leadership. I never did, and everyone knows there have been a plethora of them written by others. I do have one nagging problem that I can’t seem to shake. There is an often told story that illustrates it best.

A breathless young man wearing a baseball cap and a windbreaker with a crest and the name of an organization imprinted on them, ran up to a gas station attendant and asked, “Say, have you seen some people go through here wearing hats and jackets like mine?”

“Why Yes,” the attendant said, “they went through here about half an hour ago.”

“Well, I have to catch up with them,” he said, “I’m their leader.”

My observation is that the Church today has a leadership vacuum that has always been predictable and will continue to grow worse so long as men continue to tamper with tried and true biblical principles.

Ralph, perhaps people like you and me have simply lived too long for our own good. The idea that we ought to preserve the “Old Religion,” the "Old Paths," or the “Faith of Our Fathers,” is often ridiculed and has become passe in this “enlightened age.” Thanks to Robert Schuller, who begat Bill Hybels, who begat Rick Warren, who enabled Barack Obama, who wants us all to “just get along,” new preachers are coming out of seminaries with new techniques designed to attract crowds and send them out feeling, oooooh, ever so good.

Your treatment of the issue is both well researched, and right on target. As is the case in the (so-called) gay-liberation movement, we are being asked first to “LISTEN.” Then, we are asked to simply “CONSIDER.” Then they ask us to “TOLERATE.” Following that, we are told to “ALLOW.” What follows are the steps of “BLESSING,” “EMBRACING,” and “CELEBRATING.”

The issues you refer to in your (blogpost) are happening everywhere in churches great and small. What has become commonplace in mainline denominations is now well established in formerly fundamental Baptist Churches and yours is no exception. May I explain ?

I have been especially attuned to movements toward the Willow Creek/Saddleback/Garden Grove business model. It isn’t hard to see when (or where) it rears its ugly head.

One of its marks is the departure of folks who say anything in opposition to it’s gaining control. These silent departures are seldom questioned and excuses for their growing numbers in exodus are quite artful. In fact, I have heard, more than once, of the leadership cadre telling a person that it might be better if that person simply went away, "....seeing as how you don’t like what we’re doing here.”

Another mark of this beast is not new. In fact the mainline CULTS have been practicing it for years. It is Mind Control 101. Those who employ the tactic may truly believe they know what is best for their congregants but, as in the illustration, the leader is most often running far behind the group.

In Mind Control 101 we hear lots about “programs,” and “productions.” There are lists and formulas for church growth and there is the sense that everyone must, as you say, get into a consensus mindset (a kind of groupthink). Anyone who isn’t a team player is marginalized and figuratively sent to the woodshed. It’s my guess you have been taken to the woodshed, haven’t you ?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Latter Day Saints use this tactic to their advantage. Of course, in this valley we have the church of Scientology; a masterworks of Mind Control 101. Without exception, men dominate these false World religions, and mainline evangelical churches often seem drawn to their methods.

Extra-Biblical books like “The Prayer of Jabez,” {Wilkenson} “Purpose Driven Life,” “Purpose Driven Church,” “Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions,” {Warren} “Simple Church,” {Geiger} “Your Best Life Now,” {Osteen} “Tough Times Never Last - But Tough People Do,” {Schuller} and “Self-Esteem-The New Reformation” {Schuller} have all mesmerized and become a means to an end for thousands of learning Christians -“babes in Christ,” if you will.

And with the actual fact that multiple thousands of American pastors preach the same Bill Hybels or Rick Warren generated sermons every week, having subscribed to their on-line pick-a-sermon clubs, you have some of the more dangerous incursions confronting the Church to date.

All of this was prophesied by the ancients, and by Jesus Himself. Our problem, (yours and mine), is that we chafe at the idea of standing by while prophetic end-times events engulf our beloved churches. We would stay with the “WALK” and the “WAY,” and not tamper with it's God-directed success.

Ralph, a church that pushes people away, in order that some "leaders without followers" may accomplish their own grandiose ideas, is doomed from the get go. Let’s pray someone wakes up before Jesus calls us Home, and our church is found to be nothing but wood and stubble.

Author' Identity Withheld


Anonymous said...

Great letter. Sad we're in a situation where something like that has to be written, but it must be written.

Roger Gilstrap said...

This modern day thinking is as wrongheaded as it can be. The church is not a place for unbelievers. They are certainly welcome, but the church is a place where believers grow and then go out to serve. Trying to make the church attractive to unbelievers is very foolish. If unbelievers feel comfortable in the church, there is something wrong with the church.

"Seeker sensitive" is a total misnomer, because there is no such thing as a seeker. "There is none that seeks after God." Using worldly means to attract a crowd may well attract a crowd. What is the result of that? A worldly, compromising church.

Those of us who believe this are becoming a minority, but that does not make it wrong.

Daisy said...

Wow. Totally 100% agree. I can't even articulate the frustration I've had lately with my larger church "family." Is it part of God's plan that we feel this way? Am I too focused on the mess instead of Christ? I don't know. I need the summer off to just look at my sweet babes and pray that I rediscover how to worship Him with my daily life.

See ya in the fall, Ralph.