What it takes to build a popular church today.

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Jailminister, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. Jailminister

    Jailminister
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    A contemporary-styled "Seeker Service" aimed at drawing in the unsaved and the unchurched from the community must replace the traditional Sunday worship service. To do this successfully, the church service must be non-threatening, familiar and comfortable to the "seeker" (the unsaved visitor).
    The dress must be casual. The typical "Saddleback Sam" (a researched composite of the unchurched yuppie commonly found in Saddleback Church's surrounding community) dresses up for work all week, and he wants to "dress down" on the weekends. (As we shall see throughout this article, Saddleback Sam's likes and dislikes are what determine the style of the church service.) Attendees and church staff alike shun any ties, suits and dresses. Warren, dressed in a casual shirt, khakis and loafers told his seminar audience, "Get comfortable. This is as dressed up as I get in this church. My idea of winter is I put on socks, and obviously I don't think it's winter yet."
    The music must be contemporary. Not only must the lyrics of the music be more recent, but the style of music should be that which the unsaved hears on a daily basis. The entertainment composite of the Saddleback sound system, band, singers and presentation would rival that of any secular rock concert. Warren stated that one of the first things a church should do is "replace the organ with a band." But he went on to say that if a band was not feasible, then at least a church could purchase a keyboard that will incorporate midi disks in order to give the sound of a band. Furthermore, the purpose of the church choir should be "backing up the soloist. That's the 90's way to use a choir rather than just having them sing."
    The message must be only positive. We consider this to be the most flagrant flaw. Yes, the saved and unsaved alike can feel better about themselves after a message that often mixes psychology and an uplifting Scripture text. Such topics as dealing with guilt, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, mood enhancement or motivation for success will encourage the worldly, weary individual. But what is God's command to the faithful undershepherd of the flock? Far, far different.
    The ministries of the church must be geared to meeting the needs and special interests of the thousands who attend. Support groups for depression, eating disorders, infertility, family and friends of homosexuals, post abortion, and separated men and women were abundant. Many ministries were intended to bring together ones with similar business or professional interests, common recreational interests and so on. We could not find one single ministry listed in Saddleback Community Church's bulletin that involved the taking the Gospel message out to the lost in the community. In fact, Warren scoffed at the idea of passing out tracts or going door-to-door since "Saddleback Sam" is offended by such old-fashion, out-moded forms of evangelism.
    Doctrinal instruction is not given to the church as a whole on the Lord's Day. Despite the fact that the early church clearly sets forth the example that doctrine is to be taught on Sunday to all the church body, at Saddleback, doctrine is only taught to sub-groups of the congregation apart from the regular church services. Warren emphasized Saddleback's strategy of moving new members "around the bases" by having interested Christians take special classes to prepare them for service. Although Bible study groups also meet together, our question is this: Why is not the pulpit used to proclaim the "whole counsel of God" to the whole congregation assembled before it on the Lord's Day (Acts 20:20-31)? Why make serious, systematic Bible instruction an option, heard only by the relatively few in the crowd who desire to "round the next base"? The whole counsel of God is to be proclaimed, to all seated before the pulpit, all the time!
    A spirit of compromise must prevail in the church that is to experience dynamic growth. The embrace of contemporary culture and style will most assuredly set the desired mood that totally opposes the Biblical mandate to earnestly contend for the faith and separate from error. What works, what is least offensive and what is positive and uplifting is what should define the ministry, according to Warren. The church leaders who are interested in dynamic growth must embrace the attitude that says, "Don't try to tell me the Bible requires holiness and a style for worship and ministry that is different from that of the world." This "grace-in-your-face" attitude is so prevalent today because of church elders who are not willing, or not aware of how, to instruct ones to behave in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15).
     
  2. rbrent

    rbrent
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    But Jailminister-

    If we do it the Bible way, we won't be BIG!

    If we're not BIG, no one will respect us.

    If we're not BIG, we'll look like ministerial failures.

    If we're not BIG, and getting BIGGER, what will we brag about at Fellowship meetings?
     
  3. 12strings

    12strings
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    Pardon me, i usually stay over in the music forums, but this got my attention.

    1. Jailmaster, I think you may be putting some words in MR. Warren's mouth a bit. While i don't agree with every single part of his book (Purpose Driven Church), He is very clear that the purpose of all of this is not to dilute the message, but to remove the artificial barriers we have put up a church recently...to remove every offense except that of the Cross.


    2a... If we do it the BIBLE way, we will "become all things to all men" and people will come to Christ.

    If people come to Christ, the church will grow and spread.

    Some of these "Growing" churches may become quite large.

    God forgive us if we begin to Boast in ourselves over this work of HIS.

    2b... If our churches are not growing, is our best response to simply assume that "we are being too faithful to the Word to attract people"?
    "We're just in an area that isn't growing"..."We are 'defending the faith', 'holding the line'!"

    What is a better philosophy of a church that follows Jesus...?

    -"Here we stand" or "There we go!!!"
     
  4. USN2Pulpit

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    These are quotes that I recognize, and statements that are deserving of investigation. To many times, we use these excuses instead of addressing some of the old and meaningless traditions we substitute for real worship.

    That is not to say that old is bad and new is good. Personally, I prefer a blended worship style (as far as music goes, at least). There are many valuable and meaningful traditions as well - and they should not simply be thrown into the rubbish bin in favor of PowerPoint and praise bands.

    But this is all beside the point. Many people cast stones at PDC's, but give little attention to their own shortcomings (preferring to cast stones and give excuses instead of addressing real problems). If people are being reached and saved through the ministry and outreach of a PDC, then I say praise God! And if your church is reaching out to people with the love of God using a different ministry or outreach architecture, then I say praise God for that, too.
     
  5. rbrent

    rbrent
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    A few months ago, the Pensacola News Journal ran a series of articles on the Purpose Driven Life and the Purpose Driven Church.

    They quoted many folks who were participating - Baptists - Methodists - Presbyterians - and some Catholics.

    All professed to be getting something from the program although there was precious little doctrinal content from any of them.

    I always cringe when a secular newspaper "puffs" a movement or a book or a preacher that de-emphasizes doctrine and instead, emphasizes everyone getting together and getting along, at the expense of doctrine.

    Unity that is not based on scriptural truth is false unity.

    Church growth that brings in multitudes of folks but does not scripturally challenge them to salvation and spiritual growth and doctrinal belief, is false growth.

    Christians do not need support groups for their individual sins and ministry teams and pop/rock/country/feel-good music to promote "growth."

    They need expository preaching and forsaking the world and its psycho-babble, feel-good preaching.

    By the way, there's nothing wrong with being big - the church in Jerusalem grew exponentially after the resurrection.

    And they did it without the psychologizing, use-the-Bible-as-a-self-help-book approach of the Purpose Driven Life.
    Emphasizing only the positive and ignoring the negative is a perverted way to approach the scriptures.

    It produces self-affirming, self-loving, anti-doctrinal, I'm okay - you're okay believers who profess to believe in "HIM" but who aren't really sure who HE is.

    We need to be reminded that a man is not crowned except he strive lawfully (II Tim 2:5).

    Jesus didn't "cut" his message or emphasize only the positive, so as not to offend anyone.
     
  6. All about Grace

    All about Grace
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    Just another example of a critic who fails to truly understand what a purpose-driven church is all about.

    I would say that the fact they regularly baptize over 2k adults in a year ought to let us know they do not dilute the gospel. As a matter of fact, Saddleback's requirements for church membership are far stricter than most Baptist churches I have seen.

    Once again, it is so easy to attack straw men. They burn so much easier than reality.
     
  7. Daniel

    Daniel
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    Having heard Rick Warren personally, read the PDL book carefully, etc. I can say the start of this post is off base from reality. Warren strongly advocates using all these means for the central purpose of getting the gospel opportunity that we could normally not get in the 21st century world. SBCbyGrace's response is on target with reality.
     
  8. Jeffrey H

    Jeffrey H
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    Jailminister,

    Grace is the only reason that anyone can be "born again"(Eph. 2:8-10). How else do you teach salvation outside of His work of grace? I would rather be in a "grace-in-your-face" church than a "look-like-us-or-your-not-a-christian" church.

    In reference to your comments about dress, Scripture teaches to dress modestly and that's it - nothing more, nothing less. There is no biblical command to wear a suit, coat-and-tie, and dress shoes. We honor God by simply being modest in our dress. He's not really impressed with our fancy suits is He?

    --Jeff
     
  9. Jeffrey H

    Jeffrey H
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    Are you saying these are bad things?
     
  10. USN2Pulpit

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    Quite the opposite, in fact. He is "no respecter of persons."
     
  11. Mike McK

    Mike McK
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    Not having read the book, I can't comment but, jailminister, you seem to have a lot of anger and you never once attempt to explain why these are bad things.
     
  12. Jailminister

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    I thought I would wait a little while before posting again. I wanted to hear from a variety of opinions.
    First let me say that I did not write the initial statement. I got this from someone that has read the material and been to Mr. Warren's seminar.
    Secondly, It does seem that there is a variety of opinions on this type of reach out.
    Thirdly, If this is the way it was suppose to have been done, I wonder why God had to wait for Mr. Warren to be born and grow up before He gave us this word of knowledge.
     
  13. All about Grace

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    ...which in no way makes them a credible critic or expert on Warren's methodology.

    Based upon what the critic wrote, it is clear he/she has no genuine grasp of PDL or PDC.

    Simply because methodologies are non-essentials.


    This reasoning is so flawed it really does not deserve to be addressed. You have just omitted God's work in any person's life post-NT (there goes the Reformation).

    Warren has simply articulated in a clear and relevant way what the NT clearly teaches. They are not Warren's purposes but God's.
     
  14. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
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    All emphasis mine!

    The way? Has this been stated? Or is it ONE WAY? ( This almost sounds like the KJVO argument??)

    --had to wait for Mr. Warren to be born and grow up before He gave us this word of knowledge.
    Why did God wait for Billy Graham, Charles Stanly, you, me or anybody else?
    Are you sure you mean "had to wait " or chose to wait?

    Just remember God didn't cotton to Job's criticism of His handling of things; IMHO you're treading where angels fear to tread!
     
  15. Jailminister

    Jailminister
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    No I am asking the questions. I have seen many of these flash in the pan evangelical drives over the years and most don't last long. What I have seen that works is the prechinfg of the truth of the gospel. Pony rides may bring them in but will it keep them.
    Oh well if it works for you than more power to you.
     
  16. Jailminister

    Jailminister
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    Have a nice day [​IMG]
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    While I disagree with much of the PDC paradigm, condemning it is not helpful because the purposes are the purposes of the NT church. When you at the NT church and ask "What are we to be doing" ... the answer is evangelizing, teaching, worshipping, fellowshipping, and serving. And the NT church needs to be organized around those purposes.

    Too many churches are organized around a schedule of services. You ask "Why do you have a Sunday night service?" The answer is "Because that is what church are supposed to do." That doesn't work. Form follows function. Let's decide what we are supposed to do and then do it.

    As I say, I have a great number of problems with the way in which Warren has implemented the PDC model. He is not the originator of the PDC; that goes all the way back to the NT. He simply applied it in a particular way and then published a book about it.
     
  18. vaspers

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    What is very weird about my past church's application of its Purpose Driven Church program (which I was not involved in, it was before I joined this church)...

    ...as a direct result of the PDC program, they demoted the Announcements, which are extremely important for unity, involvement, and edification, to last thing right before dismissing for lunch. Every activity and event took a nose dive from that decision. They said "announcements detract from the music service focus, so dump them into the tail end of the morning service." But nobody pays attention to announcements at end of service, they are so obsessed with lunch plans and so bored from the sermon.

    The other change was to get rid of classic, scripturally rich hymns, and replace them with monotonous, repetitive, hypnotic "praise choruses" that are one line over and over and over and over again. A real "dumbing down" of the worship service, let me tell you.

    Now is The Purpose Driven Church book to blame? I don't know. Never read it. Not interested in it. But that's how my past church applied its lessons, supposedly.

    Does anybody else detest that singing one line praise choruses as much as I do? Like "Jesus you're beautiful, beautiful, so beautiful" over and over again, maybe one or two more lines, but so monotonous and boring and empty of doctrine. What does that mean anyway, Jesus is beautiful?

    Can't find it in the Bible, but I'm not saying it is a bad thought, just strange. Jesus is handsome, beautiful, what is this idea striving at? Weird.
     
  19. Jeffrey H

    Jeffrey H
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    vaspers,

    It sounds like your church tried to take every component of the "Saddleback" model and transplant it. Rick Warren warns churches not to do this. Your local church is unique with different needs.

    My pastor has looked at The Saddleback program and likes some of what he sees. However, there are some elements that would not fit well at our church. For example, using a full comtemporary worship service would be a disaster for us. Instead, we use a blend of doctrinally sound comtemporary songs and traditional hymns. We avoid contemporary music that is repetitive and monotonous.

    Our church is in East Texas, not California. Different traditions, different cultures.

    Blessings,
    Jeff
     
  20. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    We have our announcements at the beginning because they distract from teh theme of the service. Once we start our singing, we focus it all on a particular theme that I want to be the sole focus. Interrupting that theme with announcements distracts from the them. Announcments don't create unity anyway. The things you announce may do that, but the announcements don't. And I don't want them at the end because I want people to be thinking about the message. To complain about not breaking up your service by announcements seems a little misguided to me.

    Our music is more traditional, with some choruses mixed in. We are very selective about what choruses we use and they are all accompanied by the piano. We use an acoustic guitar on occasion.

    The things you mention are not inherent in the PDC model.
     

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