There is a dramatically accelerating shift happening in the visible “Protestant” church, even in the last five to ten years. It seems that there are three major movements that are swiftly moving to totally redefine Christianity I only have space to speak briefly of them here, although we need to be aware of these trends. They are well documented and I recommend a few websites and resources at the end of this book.
Section 1 Purpose Driven (Seeker Friendly) Church Growth Movement
This movement was popularized by Rick Warren, who applied a market-driven church-growth strategy that was formulated based on ideas of C. Peter Wagner, Robert Schuller and a nonbeliever named Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker is known for management by objectives, or “total quality management” used in the corporate world.
Church Growth is managed through modern marketing techniques. Ideally, neighborhoods are blanketed with surveys to develop profiles of the local demographic, and a church model is created that specific caters to those tastes. In order to have the broadest appeal, messages deemed offensive to the demographic are not given.
Originally, the doctrine espoused by Warren was very orthodox. However in the Church Growth movement the problem is not with what they say but what they don’t say. This movement has been systematically working to “transform” the church and force believers into situations where they must “fellowship” with unbelievers. This has been going on for some time and has impacted thousands of churches from all persuasions. Churches have been pressured to transform themselves to be “seeker sensitive”, minimizing doctrine and other things that would offend unbelievers so that they will be comfortable.
The scripture tells us that the “natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God for they are spiritually discerned.” The message of the cross is foolishness to the world, and rejected by the world, but to those being saved it is the power of God unto salvation. Growing the church by appealing to the natural man forces the message to be convoluted and stripped of its power, and brings unregenerate men into the church.
Again, the agenda of this movement is to redefine the church to “meet the felt needs” of unbelievers. These are finding themselves quite at home in a Church that no longer preaches the Gospel but instead focuses on social programs and making people feel loved. According to the church growth advocates, the church is a place intended to give people a sense of “community”, a “focus for living”, and the “emotional benefit of personal significance.” This is a psychological focus rather than a spiritual one, which has nothing to do with the equipping of the saints for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Fallen man is mystical and spiritual by nature. Therefore he seeks to have a spiritual component in his pursuit of self-fulfillment. He seeks to be religious, but does not want to be covered by the blood of Christ. These systems are very attractive to unbelievers because they meet this “felt need” without requiring for men to repent of their sins and be reconciled to God through faith in the redeeming blood of Christ.
As a result of the seeker sensitive movement especially, multitudes have come into the Church who in some cases have never actually heard the gospel, are not at all familiar with basic bible doctrines, have never had their worldview challenged and assume that the Church should look and feel just like the world. Because of the institutional church’s marriage with the world and their “seeker friendly” agenda, the churches are increasingly filled with tares – almost to the extent that in many places the tares outnumber the wheat. The Church is embracing multitudes who do not believe the Bible should be taken literally, do not believe in the creation account, do not believe in substitutionary atonement, and do not believe in a literal coming kingdom.