“For I am the LORD, I change not.” Mal. 3:6a
The days are getting darker and the shadows are growing longer, my friends. Looking around at the landscape of the world, things are changing so quickly that one can hardly keep up. Naturally, we, as a society, and Jesus’ church in particular, are being kept so busy with life that we hardly have any time to recognize the signs of the times as they unfold around us. All the same, the signs are there. Just as the scriptures prophesy, the powers that be will usher in the end of the end culminating in a one world hierarchy governed by one man, that man of sin spoken of by Daniel the prophet, the Antichrist. These ones are happy to see their well-laid plans succeeding; poor and frightened sheep are much easier to control rather than well fed and self-sustaining ones. Naturally, by self-sustaining, I mean, as opposed to government-sustained, but I digress. One particular thing about even the most conservative independent churches that I have received God’s privilege to observe is they seem to be acting in a very nervous manner, as if they have lost their bearings, as if they have no Shepherd. They are definitely consumed by the signs of failure all around them, such as low attendance, ungodly children, an aging congregation, and by extension, little attention to the things of the Lord outside of the church edifice. They are keenly aware of the world pressing around them; they know of the pressures of the various global social agendas. Then, measuring their perceived success against that of the mega-church down the street with it’s thousands-plus adherents, they stare sadly at their shoe tops.
“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.” Psm 73:3-7
It would seem that they are losing their grip of influence vs. the grip that the world has on their people. This is what happens to pastors, particularly younger pastors without a great deal of context to draw their strength from: they decide the solution is to compromise, just a little, from what the “old fashioned” church used to be. They think they need to make their church look at little more like what the unsaved are used to, to draw them in, but they are being deceived. They forget that the church is a body of believers. It was never designed for the unsaved to feel comfortable in, but instead for a body of saved believers to grow together. Any of the unsaved people are still sitting in the parking lot, as it were, until they finally get saved. Only then do they join the true church.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:41
They also believe they need the church to be a little more like the world to keep the carnal Christian in his or her seat, to keep them entertained, but that is humanism; worldly, sensual. In reality, every seemingly insignificant adaptation to the church smudges the distinctive between the world and the church: the challenge is to keep the outside away from the inside.
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Gal. 5:9
When the two begin to look more and more like each other, the distinction is lost. Where will the unsaved seeker turn to and come apart from the world? They will have nowhere left to turn to anymore, all they have left is some vague and unsatisfying replica of the world. So, what does this compromise look like? Like a slow moving train wreck. You can know what is about to happen, but there is nothing you, as a person, can do about it, and if you do say something you are mocked and accused of being critical and divisive. Just so, when we trust in man rather than God, we can expect the outcome: death of the church.
Compromise comes in many varying degrees and its justification comes from the fear of failure, and fear comes from our enemy, Lucifer, that age old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan. What will we do about growing the church? That very question was asked by the likes of Bill Hybels and Rick Warren many years ago and they came up with their business model of church. This model was introduced in the 1950’s with a 1955 book written Donald Anderson McGavran entitled, “The Bridges Of God – A Study In The Strategy Of Missions”. It introduced a prosperity style of market driven church with the intent of creating massive church growth. Robert Harold Schuller, who was born in 1926 and died in 2015, was the wildly popular founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Crystal Grove, California. He rose in popularity by teaching “positive thinking” on his long running television show called, “The Hour of Power” from 1970-2010. Robert Schuller, using the great influence of Norman Vincent Peale, and his books, “Power of Positive Thinking” and “Positive Imaging”, moulded his new age “possibility thinking” to form his ministry. He bragged that some of his greatest students included, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Bill Hybels, born in 1951, is the founder of Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association (WCA). The church now boasts 20,000 worshippers at six church locations each weekend, according to it’s 2016 website; and the WCA, is a “quasi-denomination”, as described by Gary Gilley in his 2006 book, “This Little Church Went To Market”, which goes on to say, the WCA, “is a loose association of hundreds of churches that have shown an interest in the method and philosophy of church growth as espoused by Willow Creek Community Church.” Rick Warren needs no introduction although we have not heard a lot about him lately. According to a Barna survey, the number one and two most influential books on global church leaders today are Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Life” (2002), and “The Purpose Driven Church” (1995), respectively, with “The Purpose Driven Life” selling more than 30 million copies by 2007, according to a number of internet sources. Now, he is back with the “PDC16”, the 2016 version of his popular Purpose Driven Church program, which was originally created by Peter Druker, a self-described “social ecologist”, according to his website, and a successful business management guru and, as we know, aggressively shepherded by Rick Warren. Both, Hybels and Warren found themselves dissatisfied with the direction of their churches and employed a business strategy to increase growth. But, in the end, instead of seeing spiritual growth and the church changing the hearts of the people to God’s Word, the world entered into the heart of the church, and destroyed everything they should have held dear, instead of selling out. They turned to psychology to satisfy their covetousness, but once the world entered into the church, it took its grip and would not leave, changing the church from the inside. Now, our own churches have the same question and are coming up with a plan as well. You see, rather than turning to a person, they are turning to a plan. They are thinking to themselves: don’t just sit there, do something; while God is saying, don’t just do something, sit there! What is this plan you are talking about? A business plan. The answer is, WE have to do something. Is that a good plan? Is that God’s Plan? We can pick on Bill Hybels and Robert Schuller, but what are WE doing? The very same thing – turning away from God and toward a program. This plan or program usually consists of committees, meetings, strategizing, fundraisers, programs, pigeon-holing, compartmentalization, leaving precious little energy to focus on being strengthened spiritually. How are we to recognize that this has crept into the church? What elements have changed that we may not be aware of? Is this really as serious a danger as you say? Let’s take some inventory:
The most potent deception Satan has in his arsenal is his music. It is much like the fruit in the Garden of Eden. It is hardly resistible, because the fleshly side of us loves it! There are so many opinions about music and everyone seems to have their own belief, or, if no belief, at least they the right to refuse to believe your warning. That does not mean the warning against worldly music is wrong! There is good music to feed the soul and spirit; and, there is wrong music that feeds the flesh and should be rejected with extreme prejudice. Music is never neutral. Believing such a thing is to show ones abject ignorance on the subject at large. As has been discussed recently in a previous CTW NEWS, the backbeat rhythm, sensuality of scooping and sliding to notes, beat anticipation, and overuse of syncopation feeds the flesh and is contrary to God’s Word in I John 2:15; love not the world. But, what our dear fearful pastors are allowing is very subtle. They will not bring a set of drums onto the stage, but they have no problem bringing in the beat that it makes. They will not play a CD of the original CCM musician as background music in the church, but they will play a CD cover of the same song, in an adapted version, by a local, accepted group of their choosing. Same songs. Same beats. Same dangers. Same destruction.
I have seen some churches so involved in the work of the church that their children looked more like orphans running amok inside and outside the house of God, rather than good, church going and Bible believing families. Many churches have so many programs that the workers nearly outnumber the worshipers. Naturally, I am not saying there should be no one to work in the church. The Bible clearly outlines that specially chosen deacons, with specific scriptural requirements were appointed to work in the church. But, there are so many programs now: nurseries, bus drivers, Children’s church, Sunday school teachers, parking lot attendants, people in the front and people in the back with sign up sheets for all the programs within the programs…goodness! I have heard the complaints of people who said they were so overworked and they, “needed to be fed” not having been in a service, literally, for weeks! I personally knew someone who was a bus captain in one of the very largest bus ministries in all of North America who admitted to me that she had not read her Bible or had a personal relationship with her Saviour, “for years”! If you can admit this sounds like your church, maybe it is time to get back to the basics. Get back to the person of Jesus and drop the program. Here is an idea: why not bring back all ages of the Sunday school before the Pastor’s preaching in the main service. (Did you know that, historically, saved children and children of Christian families always stayed together in the main meetings. “Sabbath School” was initially started in the late 18th century by Robert Raikes to evangelize unsaved children with meetings held on Saturdays.) Don’t worry. They will not understand everything, but they will understand something! Is not that the way God deals with us? And, if there is one in attendance who will not keep still in church, if their own family is not there, why not have them “adopted” into a family for the duration of the service and sat down beside an adult or two. In time, with patience, they will come around. They might even get saved! Bring the babies in from the nursery with all the helpers. If the baby cries take them out until they calm down. I have heard adults who make more noise than the babies, we don’t forbid them, do we?
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt.19:14
The dear workers are sheep that need to be fed. They need to grow! They cannot be sustained by a sporadic sermon here and there just as we could not physically be sustained with a sporadic meal here and there, but only by regular meal times. What does the Bible say is the better thing to do? Straight from Jesus’ own lips:
“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Matt.19:14
Another thing I have observed in our good old conservative churches are Antiochan preachers with an Alexandrian education. What do I mean by that? Quite simply, preachers that use the King James Bible, (KJB) and claim it openly as their final authority in all matters of faith and practice, and then define it’s words using known false doctrines from the critical text and scholars. For instance, I recently heard a preacher preach on a verse from the KJB;
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Luke 14:2 KJB
He then went on to preach that the Bible did not teach we are going to a mansion, but that instead, that we are going somewhere with “many places” or “many rooms”, and replaced the word, “mansions”, with the word, “places”. He went on to justify it by saying we have a lot of “misunderstanding”, due to our cultural ignorance of the time. Where did he get that from? Compare the KJB verse above to the New International Version, (NIV) verse provided for you here:
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” Luke 14:2 NIV
This Pastor was preaching from, and stands on, the King James Bible, but he preached the doctrine taught by a corrupted critical version originating from Alexandria, Egypt. He may as well have been preaching from an NIV! If I did a poll of everyone that heard that sermon and asked them if they caught onto that, I would say, very few, if anyone would have caught onto that. This kind of compromise is that deceptive! Do we know what are we doing?
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col. 2:8
These worldly philosophies and influences are very dangerous to the flock. You would not give poison to your children, why give this to the church? My dear pastors and friends, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid! God is still in control. God is still on the throne, although He is ready to stand up to prepare himself for the judgment at any moment. God will provide as long as we do not look away from him to focus on the waves. Jesus wants our attention and our vision directed toward Him. This is His work, is it not? Why do we need to inject the world into our church to shock life into it and corrupt everything inside. Seeking after success of the corporate business church model through compromising programs, music, and doctrine is asking for trouble. Do not let that little leaven in the door and it will not affect the whole of the church. Be thankful for what you have, knowing that your Father in Heaven knows what you need, oh we of little faith! ~R.
© Remi Fernhout 2016