Saddleback - Pro & Con

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    A BB reader who cannot post asked me about my opinion of Saddleback ministries. Know we've covered different aspects (like PDL) before, but wonder if any would share your personal position on the whole scope of ministries - pro or con.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Jailminister

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    Bro Bob, let me reprint this here from another thread. I am not 100% against Warren, but there are questions.
    Here is a little something to ponder about Rick Warren:
    If numbers were the only standard of success, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren would stand as one of the greatest books of our time. Having sold over one million copies in 20 different languages, it was selected as one of the “100 Christian Books that Changed the 20th Century.” Its supporters include men like W. A. Criswell, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Adrian Rogers, and Jack Hayford. And the church that serves as its paradigm, Saddleback Church of Southern California, has grown from the house where it started (in 1980) to a weekly attendance of 16,000.

    Yet, numbers are not the only measure of success—in fact, they’re not the standard at all. Rather, God teaches that His standard is faithfulness to His Word. After all, 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the purpose of the church is to be “the pillar and support of the truth.” And 2 Timothy 2:15 says that the purpose of the pastor is to accurately handle “the word of truth.” It is “the knowledge of the truth” that leads to godliness (Titus 1:1), and it is “obedience to the truth” that purifies the soul (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus, “as fellow workers of the truth” (1 John 3:18), pastors should seek to minister “for the sake of the truth” (2 John 2), in order that the people in their congregations might be those “who walk in truth” (2 John 4). The biblical standard of success is never numbers, but rather the accurate proclamation of God’s truth (2 Tim. 2:15; James 3:1). With this in mind, Warren’s seeker-sensitive model reveals several weaknesses.

    Entertainment v. Exposition

    A primary weakness in Warren’s approach is that he emphasizes the pastor’s ability to entertain over the pastor’s responsibility to speak the truth. On p. 231, Warren argues:

    I’ve heard pastors proudly say, ‘We’re not here to entertain.’ Obviously they’re doing a good job at it. A Gallup poll a few years ago stated that, according to the unchurched, the church is the most boring place to be. . . . To the unchurched, dull preaching is unforgivable. Truth poorly delivered is ignored. On the other hand, the unchurched will listen to absolute foolishness if it is interesting.

    While homiletics is certainly an important part of preaching, it is not the most important part. For Warren, the presentation seems to be more important than the truth being presented. The Apostle Paul’s priorities, however, were just the opposite—how he preached was not nearly as important as what he preached:

    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Cor. 1:17)

    And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (2 Cor. 2:1-5)

    In light of his desire for relevance, Warren’s preaching is naturally determined more by His audience than by the Scripture. On p. 227 he says:

    One reason sermon study is so difficult for many pastors is because they ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “What shall I preach on this Sunday?” they should be asking, “To whom will I be preaching?” Simply thinking through the needs of the audience will help determine God’s will for the message. . . . People’s immediate needs are a key to where God would have you begin speaking on that particular occasion.

    Of course, Warren is referring to "felt needs" - people's own perception of their needs, which translates into what they want. Again, when compared to Paul, Warren’s method comes up short. Instead of beginning with his audience, simply telling them what they wanted to hear, Paul started with the truth he knew his audience needed (even if they did not want to hear it). He says:

    For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10-12).

    In contrast, the seeker-sensitive model appears to put a higher priority on pleasing the audience than on honoring the Lord. It is no wonder, then, that Warren can say: “Being seeker sensitive in our worship is a biblical command” (p. 243) and “Keep your pastoral prayers short in your seeker services. . . . The unchurched can’t handle long prayers; their minds wander or they fall asleep.” Again, the question remains, should unbelievers determine what we do in the church, or should Scripture determine what we do? Warren’s answer seems to be unbelievers (see p. 189).

    Sensitivity v. Sovereignty

    Because of its seeker-sensitive approach, Warren’s model encourages easy-believism whereas Scripture emphasizes sin, repentance, and self-denial. On pp. 303-305, Warren works through practical steps for persuading unbelievers to make a commitment for Christ. In fact, on p. 219, he states, “It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart . . . . The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.” At least two problems immediately arise with Warren’s model.

    First, Warren dilutes the gospel in order to make it easier to believe. Stephen Lewis, in reviewing The Purpose Driven Church says this:

    Not once does The Purpose Driven Church give a clear gospel message. In asking what people want (rather than what the Bible says they need) has Warren created followers or multitudes based upon their desires or perceived needs? Ironically, in John chapter 6, Jesus rebuked the very people He had just fed, because they only followed Him in search of more bread to satisfy their immediate hunger. Jesus met people’s needs as a way of revealing and/or authenticating Himself before men. Any model purposing to create followers based upon fulfilling perceived needs risks making this into an end in itself. Again, where does The Purpose-Driven Church give people what they really need, the gospel of grace?” (CTSJ 6/2 April 2000, 56)

    Second, Warren denies the sovereignty of God in salvation. By assuming that he can lead anyone to Christ through felt-needs, Warren directly contradicts the biblical doctrine of election. After all, Scripture makes it clear that only those whom God calls will repent (Matt. 11:27; John 6:65; Rom. 9:18-24; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-11; 1 Peter 1:1-2). Warren’s seeker-sensitive approach denies the power of the Holy Spirit to use God’s truth, no matter how it is presented, to penetrate the heart and bring spiritual life.

    Other Theological Considerations

    In his Shepherds' Conference seminar “Evaluating the Church Growth Movement,” Rick Holland identifies several other theological problems with Warren’s seeker-sensitive model.

    Warren assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers (see p. 243). In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service.
    Warren assumes that unbelievers are “seeking,” yet Scripture says, “There is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; Ps. 14:1-3).
    Warren assumes that the gospel can be made inoffensive to unbelievers if presented correctly. Yet, Scripture teaches that the gospel is, by its very nature, offensive to those who hate God (1 Cor. 1:18, 21, 23, 25; 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:7-8).
    Warren assumes that the style of music a church uses is one of its most important keys to reaching the culture (see pp. 280-281). Interestingly, the New Testament is silent regarding this “critical” element of church growth.
    Warren assumes that large numbers indicate true success. He even says, “Never criticize any method that God is blessing” (p. 156) and interprets the “blessing” as that which draws a crowd. But what about the prophet Jeremiah’s ministry? He faithfully proclaimed the truth his entire life and yet saw no fruit. According to Warren’s model, Jeremiah was a failure.
    Final Assessment

    While Warren’s book does offer some practical tips for making a church larger, it fails to expound the foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical. Because it overemphasizes the felt needs of unbelievers and de-emphasizes the priority of clear biblical teaching, The Purpose-Driven Church seems to be driven by the wrong purpose—namely, a man-centered desire for acceptance and influence rather than a God-centered affinity for truth.

    In this vein, the words of Al Mohler are very appropriate:

    One of the fundamental issues of misunderstanding that leads to corrupt churchmanship in our generation is the failure to distinguish between a crowd and a church. The failure to distinguish between a crowd and a church is . . . to misunderstand everything about preaching, everything about ministry, everything about our task. If we think our business is to build a crowd, frankly any of us can do it. There’s a way to bring and draw and attract a crowd. . . . Let us never mistake a crowd for a church [or] think our business is to draw a crowd.
     
  3. Johnv

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    As with any man of the pulpit, some will like Rick Warren, and some won't. Some will find him biblically in line, some won't. No pastor is immune to this. However, those who are more renowned tend to be open to more criticism, but also open to more praise.

    There are thing I like about him, and things I don't. I generally like him.
     
  4. Spirit and Truth

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    If my memory serves me well, he not only promoted the passion movie to the general public and did a teaching series as a companion to the movie, but he also promoted it to many pastors in a gathering at his assembly.I have to put him in the limited biblical discernment club.
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    Warren has some very good stuff about fulfilling our purposes as a church. I think he is probably a good communicator who is weak on exegesis. He does seem to misuse Scripture frequently (as I have said before). I think he has underestimated the impact of culture on his thinking. It seems that the Bible has become something he is trying to fit into culture. I question whether that is the right mindset. I think his approach in practice is, in some ways, flawed.

    Having said all that, he is a man of apparently tremendous energy and work that has impacted many lives for Christ.

    Like many other things, we need to be discerning in our support of him, or any other man ... except me of course ... you can feel free to whole heartedly support me ... [​IMG]
     
  6. Gib

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    I almost could not help myself in trolling this thread..saddleback..Anywho, not wild about Warren's approach, but that's me. He would probably be bored to tears at my church. Both are striving to do the Lord's work. His work will attract more than ours, but numbers don't matter, do they.
     
  7. Amish Dave

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    When you look at Rick Warrens message you just know he is all about free will and not the sovereignty of God.

    It is the attitude that "I must save these people, it is up to me" and when you have that attitude, you will start preaching a false/watered down gospel.

    It is as simple as that folks.

    Yoder
     
  8. colorado_cop

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    What's great about the responses in this thread is that no one is openly condemning him. You have voiced some concerns/dislikes/differences with it/him, but you all say it ultimately comes down to lives changing for Christ.

    About fitting scripture into culture, I don't know that it's a bad idea. Culture is forever changing. The Word of God will not and never has. Thus, as the needs of a dying culture change, we need to make sure that our approach to PRESENTING the gospel stays relevant.
     
  9. Johnv

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    From the die hard Calvinistic view, that would appear to be the case. From the more moderate perspective, a person having free will does not compromise the sovereignty of God. Again, it's more a matter of interpretation rather than impirism.
     
  10. Amish Dave

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    I condemn him and his preaching of a false gospel.


    From a conversation I had with a Pastor friend of mine a couple of months back:

    If you have the time, get a copy from someone of the PDL and read chapter 7 where he gives his invite to be a Christian and the gospel he presents. It is easy believism in it's worst form. .

    "Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you." He then adds: "If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!"

    This is not the watered down gospel, it is a false gospel, which is no gospel at all.

    Warren uses 15 different translations in his book "The Purpose Driven Life". One of them is a Jerusalem bible which is a catholic bible.

    He twists scripture or goes to whatever translation is going to best prove his point. I am not a KJV only guy, but you do have to use only the best translations out there.

    What sounds like s a good approach is really unscriptural and dependent on man's effort, not God's.

    Commercializing Christianity and making it mainstream is not the gospel. "Hip" Christian music, t-shirts, WWJD bracelets, seeker sensitive services and all their ilk are a product of not believing in the sufficiency of scripture to work in the lives of people.

    Let me leave you with this.....

    Macarthur:

    The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God, the decisive factor in salvation. It speaks of conversion as a "decision for Christ." Such language and such doctrine have begun to color modern ministry. The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit's convicting work and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church
     
  11. colorado_cop

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    From Amish Dave:
    "Commercializing Christianity and making it mainstream is not the gospel. "Hip" Christian music, t-shirts, WWJD bracelets, seeker sensitive services and all their ilk are a product of not believing in the sufficiency of scripture to work in the lives of people."

    I don't necessarily agree with commercialization either, my friend. However, show me ONE scripture that says it's wrong to have current musical styles. The hymns that you sing every Sunday, when originally written, were that day's popular musical style. So, get over your hate of current music. It's hypocritcal, albeit 150-200 late.

    Also, I've heard the term "seeker sensitive service." I honestly don't know what that means. Could you define or someone define? Thanks.

    Also, it's apparent your dislike of most things modern is just an opinion, because it absolutely can't be backed up by scripture. And since that is the case, you should keep your mouth shut and stop hurting the cause of countless ministers and pastors who are trying to a generation that wants nothing to do with mainstream religion, which is what you espouse (a certain dogma over simply a relationship, with is what Christ died for).

    Oh yea, If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, thou shalt be saved. Now, that is scriptural, and I've never read or heard anything from Rick Warren that says anything different. Maybe you should investigate on your own instead of listening to this friend of yours.
     
  12. SaggyWoman

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    I have met Rick Warren.

    I have met some of his staff.

    I have seen Saddleback building and saddleback "church" at work.

    I like a lot of things about Saddleback.
     
  13. jshurley04

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    Rick Warren is like any thing else in ministry, you take the good stuff, which there is alot of, filter it by what is possible in your local culture, and use what comes out and discard the remainder. He openly states that what he does will not work in the vast majority of churches or even communities, he presents things that have been successful for him for others to use or to spawn new ideas that fit the local culture where the pastor is at who reads his material.

    Scripture is Supra-Cultural, meaning that it fits into all cultures. It does not mean that what you do in Podunk Holler, USA is right for what I do or what anyone else does anywhere else. Scriptural principles work everywhere, it is the methods that must change. If you are a yelling preacher then don't go to Latin America, that style is offensive and no one will hear you. But just because we do it our way in America does not mean that it must be done that way everywhere. This is the ultimate point of Rick Warren, take what you can use and ignore the rest.
     
  14. All about Grace

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    The earlier post outlining the problems with Warren simply illustrate how many people completely misunderstand the PDC model.
     
  15. All about Grace

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    I don't have time to address all the issues raised in Jail's post but I will deal with a few of them as I have time.

    numbers are not the only measure of success—in fact, they’re not the standard at all.

    That is why the PDC model is about church health and not church growth.

    Entertainment v. Exposition

    It is inaccurate to suggest Warren emphasizes entertainment over speaking the truth. Warren's point is this: it does not matter how true something is, if it is not delivered in a way that engages its hearer, the listener will not get it. That does not mean we water down the truth. It simply means communication should be engaging. I can stand before my audience and read a list of 100 truths, but if I do not communicate them in a way they will actually "hear" what I am saying, they will be viewed as irrelevant.

    Of course, Warren is referring to "felt needs" - people's own perception of their needs, which translates into what they want.

    Another common misconception of felt needs preaching. Jesus often dealt with people at their need level.

    The mistake here is that the jump is made from felt needs to "what they want." This is a faulty assumption. Felt needs preaching is not about giving them what they want. It is about addressing real life issues from a biblical perspective. If you listen to Warren teach on preaching, you will recognize that felt needs are both recognized and unrecognized. Hidden needs are addressed by the question "what do they NOT know or recognize that they need to know or recognize?"

    By the way, if you are not conscious of your listener's needs (the "so what" question of preaching), your message will be PERCEIVED as irrelevant (whether it is or not).

    the seeker-sensitive model appears to put a higher priority on pleasing the audience than on honoring the Lord.

    The Lord is honored when people hear the truth, are convicted of their sins, and commit their life to Jesus Christ.

    It is not about pleasing the audience. It is about communicating the truth in a relevant fashion.


    That's all I have time for right now.

    Here's a question to contemplate amidst this discussion: can something be true and perceived as irrelevant at the same time???
     
  16. colorado_cop

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    The answer to your quesion is yes, for the very reasons you already stated. It hasn't been delivered effectively OR you are not tuned in to the power of the Holy Spirit.
     
  17. Amish Dave

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    I don't necessarily agree with commercialization either, my friend. However, show me ONE scripture that says it's wrong to have current musical styles.


    I never said there was anything wrong with current musical styles. I oppose the slapping the christian label on various things, be it t-shirts, music or their ilk for profit and gain.

    Example: Purpose driven life journals, PDL bible back protectors,PDL note pads and pencils.


    The hymns that you sing every Sunday, when originally written, were that day's popular musical style. So, get over your hate of current music. It's hypocritcal, albeit 150-200 late.

    Again, I have nothing against musical styles as long as the content is truth. Not the shallow praise hymns that we get in most churchs. The only thing that is hypocritcal is your appoach to this discussion which is not in christian love. You seem to be attacking me and I rebuke you for that.

    Also, I've heard the term "seeker sensitive service." I honestly don't know what that means. Could you define or someone define? Thanks.

    Sure, Seeker sensitive is a pragmatic approach to win converts to the Lord by fashioning your services so that they appeal to the unsaved. This is done by watering down the gospel, not preaching doctrine, and moderinizing your music.

    Rick Warren presents a "seeker sensitive" message that presents a shallow false gospel message that is devoid of conveying the truth to man's sin, need for repentance or any mention of hell.

    Warren assumes that the gospel can be made inoffensive if presented correctly. But Scripture tells us that the gospel is offensive to those who hate God.

    His message is that churches and youth groups need to change from a place where believers are to come to worship God and encourage each other to a place that caters to the unbeliever. That if our worship services are not geared towards reaching unbelievers that we are going against what God says.

    Rick Warren says in the purpose driven church: “Being seeker sensitive in our worship is a biblical command” and “Keep your pastoral prayers short in your seeker services. The unchurched can’t handle long prayers; their minds wander or they fall asleep.”

    Should unbelievers determine what we do in the church, or should Scripture determine what we do?

    Also, it's apparent your dislike of most things modern is just an opinion, because it absolutely can't be backed up by scripture.

    And since that is the case, you should keep your mouth shut and stop hurting the cause of countless ministers and pastors who are trying to a generation that wants nothing to do with mainstream religion, which is what you espouse (a certain dogma over simply a relationship, with is what Christ died for).

    Again, you walk not nor rebuke not in love. Thus you are a resounding gong.

    Oh yea, If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, thou shalt be saved. Now, that is scriptural, and I've never read or heard anything from Rick Warren that says anything different. Maybe you should investigate on your own instead of listening to this friend of yours.

    Actually, those were my words to a friend of mine. Not my friends words to me. You obviously have not read my post closely and have chosen to attack me in hate instead of in love. Treat all breathern as you would treat Christ, Maybe a reading over of I John would help you in the future with this problem of yours.

    As far as the gospel goes...see above.

    Dave
     
  18. Amish Dave

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    SBCbygrace asked:

    Here's a question to contemplate amidst this discussion: can something be true and perceived as irrelevant at the same time???

    My reply:

    Since the truth cannot be ascertained mentally but spiritually it is all in God’s hands. As long as we are preaching the word of God as commanded, God will work in those peoples hearts and cause them to truly convert. You cannot reason someone into the kingdom, you cannot hustle and jive them into the kingdom. People get saved when they hear the word of God and then God works in their hearts to accept him.

    You cannot enhance the truth, only present it as it is and let God do the work.

    To say that someone is going to get saved because of any extra-godly effort on your part is to be in error.

    Dave
     
  19. All about Grace

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    Amish,

    Based on your obvious hyper-C presuppositions, you cannot view other methods objectively. It is obvious from the points that you have mentioned in your posts that you have fallen prey to the tendency to attack straw men instead of dealing with reality. Your words convey your failure to understand the PDC model.

    Based on your logic, the preacher has no obligation other than to stand and read from a Bible. After all, God will draw those He desires regardless of methods. Such reasoning often leads to laziness disguised in spiritual garb and a spiritual-sounding excuse to circumvent evangelism.
     
  20. massdak

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    what a tragedy it would be if a person lost his chance of gaining salvation due to the lack of a persons method. do you really believe a person can be lost because of poor methods in preaching ?
     

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