Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rick Warren as 'A Model of Faith'

I have to admit that I have problems with mega-churches, and many of their pastors. And it is also the case that I have been critical of Rick Warren's mega-selling "The Purpose Driven Life" as being too individualistic and other-worldly in some aspects of its theological underpinnings. But you can tell a lot about a man from the way he responds to prosperity, and Rick Warren has responded in truly Christian fashion and deserves to be commended for it in the wake of his enormous success in publishing.

In a recent article in U.S. Today (June 5th edition) Tom Krattenmaker chronicles the recent campaigns of Warren against AIDS and poverty especially in Africa and against global warming as well. Though one might think Bush-backing Warren and liberal Christian Bono make strange partners in such campaigns, in fact they are in agreement about the need for the church to respond to these globalizing crises that threaten to destroy a whole continent, and take down other continents as well in the process.

Warren recently told the Philiadelphia Inquirer "The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, its been known for what it's against... I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against." Amen to that brother. Warren is also tired of partisan spirit that really is a sort of party spirit that does not honor the particularism of the Gospel or its message. As Krattenmaker points out, Warren stresses that he's not for the right wing or the left wing but for the whole bird. Amen to that as well. Just need to make sure the bird one is holistically endorsing is the Gospel bird, and not a turkey.

Warren provides us with a prophetic model that is not politically driven but rather issues driven. Warren does not do political endorsements or jump on party bandwagons. Good for him. He stays focused on the issues and the implications of what he takes to be the NT teaching. This means on the one hand, that in regard to the issues listed above he may seem like a liberal Democrat to some, that is until you hear him talk about abortion, stem cell research and same sex intercourse or marriage. Warren clearly believes in the social Gospel and this leads him to take positions on varying issues on a issue by issue basis, not on the basis of some party loyalty platform or ideology. Good for him.

Warren has always believed that salvation only comes through Christ, but he believes that there needs to be a graciousness in the presenting of the Good News to all. The way I like to put is this--- all are welcome to come to Jesus and his community as they are. The church should be a hospital for sick sinners, not a museum for saints. But no one is welcome to stay as they are, whatever their particular sins. Nor should they expect the church to baptize their sins and call them good.

In his ecumenicity making common cause with people on an issue by issue basis, and in his stress on both the spiritual and the social Gospel, Warren reminds me of that earlier figure of catholic (i.e. uiniversal) spirit--- John Wesley. Wesley use to say, in his letter to a devout Catholic-- "if your heart is as my heart on this issue, give me your hand." I quite agree with this approach. Warren seeks to be broad where the Bible is broad and inclusive and narrow where the Bible is narrow and exclusivistic-- particularly in regard to salvation only coming through Jesus.

Of course this sort of approach will not appeal to all conservative Christians. It will not seem partisan and apologetically driven enough. I however think that Warren has the balance and implications of the Gospel right in this regard. And he deserves to be commended for it. He understands that being obnoxious for Jesus is not what we are called to, however stridently we may oppose the various flaws and sins of our culture. So I say to Rick "Well done good and faithful servant-- carry on in season and out. And don't be discouraged by your cultured and not so cultured detractors. Jesus had the same problem, and responded in the same ways."


Benson said...

Dr. Ben,

Thanks for this post. It is encouraging to me that though you have reservations about "The Purpose Driven Life," you are still in a place where you can encourage and edify the body of Christ. Sometimes, I think those who oppose mega-churches and their pastors (of which I am NOT one) paint them with such a broad stroke that nothing they do or say can be seen with any value! It almost seems that they are automatically suspect B/C they are in this group. Obviously you are beyond this low road as you have posted a great depiction of how citizens ought to relate within the Kingdom of God! There are a lot of people that we can disagree with and yet respect and encourage them for their loyal and meaningful contribution as a citizen of the Kingdom! Thanks for making this clear.

Grace. Peace.

Adam said...

Well said. I may not agree with Warren on everything but it is hard to argue with the way he is living his life and using his influence. We certainly have to respect him for this - and look to him as an example.

Marc Axelrod said...

Dr. Witherington:

Well said. Rick is a model servant of Christ. He has a genuine desire to see sinners saved and to use whatever mammon he has to serve others. I read someplace that he is a reverse tither, giving away 90% of what he makes.


jb said...

dr. witherington,
this post is a great example to me of ephesians 4:29. thanks. it's refreshing.

Ruud Vermeij said...

This post reminded me at a book I am currently reading. It is about the history of the Salvation Army. (Sorry, it is in Dutch: "Met de vlag in top" by Johan Ringelberg.)
Almost from it's very start the Salvation Army did not only have a mouth (proclaiming salvation through Jesus alone,) but also had hands and feet right into the failing parts of society.
In 1890 William Booth published a book: "In Darkest England and The Way Out".

Jim Martin said...

Well said! Thanks also for the graciousness in affirming a man of character even though you may not agree with him on everything. Too often, if we disagree, we just dismiss the person.

Ken Fields said...


While I agree witht the majority of your comments, there is one comment that bothers me a bit.

You said, "Warren has always believed that salvation only comes through Christ, but he believes that there needs to be a graciousness in the presenting of the Good News to all."

Warren, according to his website, does not believe that salvation only comes through Christ. Here is what you will read concerning this issue on the Purpose Driven site.

Question: What about people who live in a country where they have never heard about Jesus? Will they be able to get into heaven by some other way?

Answer: There is only one way to get into heaven, through what Jesus did on the cross for us. He paid the price for our sins on the cross, no one else could do that because He alone is God.

What about those who haven't heard about the cross? They can be saved the same way that the people in the Old Testament were saved. The book of Romans tells us again and again that Abraham was saved the same way that we are, by his faith. Abraham didn't know the name of Jesus or that one day Jesus would die on the cross for his sins, but he trusted all that he knew about the God who had shown Himself to Abraham. Because of that trust, when Jesus died thousands of years after Abraham, the same forgiveness that was offered to us was given to Abraham.

God still reveals Himself to people who haven't heard the name of Jesus today. Romans 1:19-23;10:13-21 tells us that, even by nature itself, we can all clearly see who God really is. None of us can stand before God and say, I didn't understand." We all live as His creations in the world that He has made... the evidence of the love and grace of God are all around us! Let me be clear about what this means. A person who trusted in God without hearing the name of Jesus would be of the heart to immediately recognize that Jesus was the name of the one they believed in if they were ever to hear His name and story. They would know, just as Abraham would have known, that this is the truth about the God they have been following all of their lives. Someone who has begun to walk in the light is always able to recognize a brighter light.

When Warren propogates this faulty view of Christ and the Gospel, it is difficult for me to applaud his humanitarian efforts.

James Gregory said...


I personally believe that it is possible to believe in the God of Jesus Christ and without hearing the Gospel one can be saved; if this were not true, then Abraham could not have been saved by his faith. Those who have heard the Gospel have no excuse and no one who has not heard the Gospel has no excuse for not believing in the Father. However, those who have not heard the Gospel yet believes in the God of Jesus Christ would have to fall under the same category as Abraham, for they have believed without having seen or heard the Gospel. This does not mean that there is no need for the great commission to go out into the world and spread the Gospel. We must remain faithful to Christ and as his Church reach the ends of the world so that all might know about the love of Jesus Christ.

I have no problem with Warren's statement, especially because he still affirms that there is absolutely no other way to come to eternal life in heaven with God, and that way is Jesus Christ.

To all else,

I don't know what you all consider a mega church, but I go to a church that has about 7,000 members and is highly focused on getting involved in church, in the community, and in world service too, which is in part inspired by Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Church, as well as The Purpose Driven Life. We may not have to agree with everything that he wrote in those books, but there is a great deal of information that is well worth putting into practice, and the church that I participate with has done well to do so and has greatly blessed the individuals of the church, the local community, other churches, and other countries. To close I would like to say that if a "mega" church does well to reach the individuals of the church, the local community, and also the ends of the earth, then it fulfills the purpose Christ has for it, and if an itty-bitty church does not reach beyond its own walls, then it has failed Christ. All churches despite its size should be fulfilling its God-given and Christ-centered purpose; any church that fails to do so, whether it is large or small, is in the wrong. I think we ought to be more careful when we make remarks about "mega" churches as even these are still part of the Church just as much as little churches are.

Ben Witherington said...

Thanks to you Ken for this post, but Warren is perfectly clear that Christ is the only way of salvation. He is not saying that Abraham's faith would have saved him if Jesus had not come, died and risen from the dead. He, like many others, takes the (defective) view that Christ's death was effective for Abraham retroactively because he responded properly to the revelation of God which he had received. On this view, each will be judged according to how they respond to the light they received. This is a very different view than suggesting that there are multiple ways that one can be saved.

My problems with this sort of view which is still Christocentric, but does not require a confession of Christ for someone to be saved are as follows: 1) Warren's key text does not prove what he wants it to prove-- I mean Rom. 1.18-32. What that text, in tandem with other Romans texts say is that NO one properly responded to the light they had received but rather exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Paul is here talking about the Gentile world, but he later says that 'all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory' and that all would include Abraham.

2) Rom. 10.7-13 seems clear enough in saying that it is Jesus one must confess and believe in, in order to be saved;

3) Warren seems to not realize that confessing Christ is indeed required by Paul for salvation, at least in the Christian era;

4) Warren also does not seem to realize what Paul's eschatology is, as revealed in Rom. 9-11. There in Rom. 11 Paul looks forward to a day when 'all Israel' which presumably will include Abraham, will be saved when 'the Redeemer comes forth from heavenly Zion and turns away the impiety of Jacob' (i.e. Israel). In other words, Paul's view is that Jews who have not confessed Christ will have a chance to do so after the full number of Gentiles has been saved and when Jesus returns.

What Warren misses altogether is that for Paul there are three tenses to salvation-- I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. In order to complete the arc of salvation one must go through all three phases of the process. It is only when Christ returns and 'every knee bows and tongue confesses' that we will find out who recognizes the true Lord willingly and wittingly, and who does so unwillingly like the demons in Jesus' ministry.

The eschatological conclusion of salvation at the return of Christ and the resurrection is when these matters are all finally settled-- not now, and not even at death for those who die outside of Christ.

At least in the case of Israel, Romans 11 suggests there will be a chance to be regrafted into the one people of God (which is Jew and Gentile united in Christ), when Jesus comes back. For more on all of this, see my Romans commentary.

Warren like so many others makes the mistake of thinking that salvation is complete here and now, or perhaps when one goes to heaven, when in fact this is not the view of Paul or Jesus. They both look to an eschatological conclusion of salvation when "many will come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham" at the messianic banquet.


Ben W.

Benson said...

"I have to admit that I have problems with mega-churches, and many of their pastors."

Dr. Ben,

This seems like such a general statement to me... I know the force of this post was in a positive tone toward Warren's dealings with wealth, but I wonder the following:

Why do you "have problems with mega-churches, and many of their pastors"? When I was at Asbury, I found this to be true of many of my profs. but never really recieved a good explanation for why this is the case. I read your previous post re. Joel Osteen and couldn't agree with you more... but there are MANY mega-churches and the line I quoted above is perplexing to me. Could you explain?

Marc Axelrod said...

I wonder what we're going to do when we get to heaven, because the biggest mega church in history is up there :)

Michael F. Bird said...

Good post on Rick Warren. I for one am really getting sick of right-wing evangelicals harping on all the time about what they are against, we never hear what we should be for. Also, if ya wanna have a laugh at the expense of mega-churches, then chase down the clip from the US Sitcom "The Family Guy" that is floating around the blogosphere. It is a huge send up of Mega-Churches!

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Benson:

The problem with mega-churches is several fold. I will just share a few things.

Firstly any given mega-church is in fact a whole bunch of churches in one with all kinds of sub-communities, various worship services and the like. There is nothing at all that that whole church regularly does together as one body of Christ at one time. Why not?

Because it physically can't be done unless you are meeting each week in the superdome, and if you did that it would be so impersonal that you would be lost in the sea of faces. So instead umpteen different worship services, often umpteen different types of worship services are offered on the Wal Mart theory that we ought to provide one stop shopping for all, and the consumer can pick what they like.

But in fact this whole line of thinking is wrong headed. Worship services are where we are supposed to all come and give worship to God-- its not about consuming according to our tastes, its about producing.

Notice how in 1 Cor. 11 Paul says to his converts in Corinth, when you 'all' meet together you should eat together, share the Lord's Supper together, worship together etc.

And it needs to be personal so everyone is known by name, and can contribute as well as be held accountable for their Christian lives.

Notice for example what Xenos Christian fellowship in Columbus Ohio does. It began as a house church movement and then had big meetings on Wednesdays where all would come together for education. The primary thing was the small group with its intimacy and accountability. The shared big meetings in rented space, plus the same leadership for the whole entity binds this church together.

Have you noticed how mega-churches mostly do not do creeds, where people testify to what they believe, nor do you have times of prayer where prayer requests can be made and persons can pray personally for other members of the congregation? Why not?

Because no one knows all these people in a mega church-- its not a family meeting that's taking place its a gathering of familiar strangers whom we don't really want to get that close to, except on a by choice basis.

Do the pastors or trained laity visit all the sick? Do they visit in the homes of their parishoners? Do they get to know them personally? Only a distinct minority have this sort of relationship with the pastor or the staff in such a church setting. And why?

Because it is not physically possible for one ministry team to personally minister to that large a group of people. That is to say, they can't have the sort of relationship with their charges that Paul or any of the other NT pastors had with theres. Nor do they equip enough lay saints to do all this either. What's wrong with this picture?

I could go on but this will suffice.



Bill Barnwell said...

Most "Senior" pastors I know of churches of 1,000 or more (and even less) do not personally do any house visits, hospital calls, etc, rather than occassional counseling because they are "too busy." Those tasks are left to others on the ministry staff or to lay volunteers.

My generation is not as prone to recieve house calls from ministers, and a lot of unchurched people (who visit a service) find the pastoral visit freaky. One guy I know who got saved and involved in his church remarked that the first time the pastor came to visit he thought the pastor was coming to see how money they had. I personally prefer prearranging my house calls unless I'm dealing with the type that will never make a committment for anything, then I just pop in. But there's other ways to build relationship and community with your people. I'd like to think that pastors, even of larger churches, could still make time for their people other than just those in leadership.

Marc Axelrod said...

I pastor a church in NE Wisconsin, when I got called to this congregation, the number one item of priority was for the pastor to make pastoral house calls, the number two item was to preach and apply the Word.

I suppose it wouldnt be this way if I was ministering in a more suburban area. But every church culture and community is a little bit different.

Back to the previous point, many megachurches do have small group fellowships. I remember reading that this was a burden of the Willow Creek Community church, and in the early 1990s, they inaugerated a small group ministry.

To make a long story short, megachurches need to find a way where its members can do the "one anothers" mentioned in scripture.

James Gregory said...

I think that we need to be careful about what we write regarding other churches and Christians, because the world is watching and the last thing we need is for them to see us arguing about what is the God-ordained size of a church.

To make my point brief: all churches have problems of their own regardless of its size, because it is made up of imperfect human beings. No church is perfect, and every one of them have room to improve.

By the way, I mentioned earlier that I go to a 7,000+ member church; however, I just relocated from Northern California where I was going to school, and the church that I went to there was about 300. That church had far worse issues than the mega church I attend; it was impersonal, it lacked tithing, it was superficial, and it lacked community service for starters. Just because a church is rather large does not mean that it is the worse church possible, so don't be guilty of stereotyping.

Terry Hamblin said...

For the past 30 years I have belonged to a church that has had between 350 and 600 members. For about 20 of those years I was part of the leadership team. Even at this size - quite large for the UK; quite small for the US - it is impossible to know all the members. Splitting up into house groups of 12-15 for midweek meetings and pastoral care helps, but leads to forced groupings of people who don't necessarily gell. All very well for teaching patience and forebearance, but too much of a challenge for some who drift away and become effectively unpastored. Unless these groups are continually rotating you still don't get to know many members.

But very small churches suffer because there are not enough gifted preachers to go around, and they miss out on Bible teaching.

I visited the Xenos Fellowship in Columbus and felt that they were making a good fist of what is a difficult problem. My mother's church sometimes struggles to make double figures in the congeregation. For all the problems of very large churches I would rather have them than the problems of a very small church.

Ben Witherington said...


Its not an issue of stereotyping, its an issue of social dynamics. Of course no church is perfect, and there are better and worse large and little churches. This is not relevant.

The issue is how ought pastors relate to their people. Should they relate to them as Jesus says a Good Shepherd should--- calling them by name and treating them personally or not? No one can have a personal relationship with 6,000 parishioners-- not even close. The question is a relational one.

Bill I quite agree that a minister shouldn't just show up at someone's house uninvited, but that doesn't mean that a personal approach is not necessary and important.

When you actually read the leadership material in the NT, you learn that you are supposed to be treating these people as Jesus would. You learn that they are your Christian family, your brothers and sisters in Christ. You are supposed to be modeling the love of Christ for people.

Of course I agree that the minister must equip the other saints for ministry, so a good deal of this can also be done by parishoners if they are trained and equipped. Stephen's ministries is a good form of this.

I speak as a person who has grown up in large churches and knows their dynamics, and I certainly wouldn't say that I didn't benefit a lot. I did. The pragmatic value doesn't settle the question of what we ought to be doing.



yuckabuck said...

"So instead umpteen different worship services, often umpteen different types of worship services are offered on the Wal Mart theory that we ought to provide one stop shopping for all, and the consumer can pick what they like."

While I hear this criticism all the time regarding churches who offer multiple services which may differ in their presentation, it is not a fair accusation. The idea for diverse services came out of reflection on a significant theological problem: Must we force a person to cross cultural boundaries in order to come to Christ? Does a person have to accept our cultural "identity markers" at the same time they accept Christ as their saviour? Indeed, Dr. Donald McGavren was quite explicit in his book, Understanding Church Growth, that he thought that Protestants were adding to the Gospel by demanding that people with different cultural backgrounds assimilate to our styles of worship.

Of course, a case can be made that McGavren and his followers were wrong in their diagnosis and cure. Whatever their intentions, their remedy has contributed to (but not solely created!) the phenomenon of "Consumer Christianity" which has become so lamentable. A biblical critique might begin this way: As Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one another in love, some give and take among Christians who do not "forsake the assembling together" is inevitable, especially in a society as culturally diverse as ours. While one enters the church by faith in Christ, one will live out relationships in the body with much fear and trembling. etc, etc...

But I appreciate McGavren's raising of the question. While it is definitely true that some of the later Church Growth teachers were ignorant of the theological issues (Peter Wagner- pragmatist, John Maxwell with the CEO paradigm, along with all the marketing experts becoming church consultants), the original framing of the problem was theological, and I have yet to read a critique dealing with those issues.

Another problem I see in some of the comments here relate to a putting on a pedestal of our culturally conditioned view of church, where the "minister" does most of the ministering, and is responsible for all "pastoral visitation." While that may be one valid way of "doing church" in America, there are certainly others. Some focus on the Sunday service as "the church," and others focus on smaller gatherings of Christians in homes as the focal point. If the early church could meet in homes for the breaking of bread, as well as in perhaps larger gatherings at the temple courts (Acts 2:46), perhaps these mega-church pastors have a point? Many mega-church pastors would point out that the Good Shepherd Jesus did not spend all his time ministering to the masses, but instead poured himself into "equipping" 12 other people to "do the work of the ministry."

When I led a "kinship" at the Columbus (OH) Vineyard, I was the shepherd of a church which was made up of about 20 people. From one point of view, Rich Nathan was the "pastor" of a 4000 member church; but from another he and his associates were more like Paul, equipping us to be shepherds over the flock we were ministering to. (Though of course he is not an itinerant like Paul and Timothy.)

While I attended there, I should say that a service or two was held every Christmas day... :-)

Bill Barnwell said...

Clarification, I agree with the personal approach and am also critical of senior pastors of large churches who do not do enough pastoral care. I was just relating some side comments of my own experience and saying that even if these pastors couldn't make regular house calls, they still could find other ways to have a closer relationship with their people.

Let me also point out a huge pet peeve of mine of many ministers, especially the "big shot" ones...they sometimes make themselves inacessible to the outside world and their secretaries are willing participants in this. This is done by shielding the pastors from phone calls, pastors not returning messages, etc.

Can you clarify something you had said earlier when the discussion turned on those who had never heard the gospel? Is your position that those who never heard but responded to the revelation they had are not saved by this recognition, but would be saved if they affirmed Christ at the judgment? If this is your position, how do you distinguish this from the "Second-chanceism" you criticized in an earlier post? Or am I not reading your response in this post correctly?

My problem with the Warren position and others that hold it is that it in my mind would make missionary activity useless if they can be saved without hearing and proclaiming Christ. The strict exclusivist view on the other hand raises questions of "fairness." In one sense, we aren't in a position to question God, but on the other hands, there are real concerns from this position. Why should one be condemned to hell just for being born on the wrong side of the globe? The Calvinist can deal with this easier just by saying God predestined the elect and in doing this He was graceful to save any since all deserve eternal death. Therefore, ANY salvations should be rejoiced, even if the rest are going to be condemned. However, I think there are too many problems with Reformed theology to accept much of its soteriology on various fronts.

The other option is that anyone who seeks will find. Even if one has the disadvantage of being born in the wrong country, if they are truly seeking God, they will find Him. Evidence of this position is former Muslims who converted not due to gospel preaching, which is illegal in their countries, but through dreams and visions of Christ.

In any event, I'm trying to understand your positon on this better. Perhaps I'll get more insight the further I get into "Jesus, Paul and the End of the World."

P.S. everyone, those of us in the Wesleyan persuasion face similar problems with infants/young children/disabled that die because before they can understand the faith. The usual "age of accountability" can run into similar problems that are being pointed out by various people here.

Ben Witherington said...

In the first place, since all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, who gets saved is in no way a justice or fairness issue. If God were simply being fair, then everyone would be lost. Who gets to hear the Gospel under these circumstances is in no way a fairness issue, its a grace issue. Secondly, Paul says that it is universally the case that fallen human beings have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. If, to the contrary there were people out there who positively responded to the general light of revelation in nature and didn't twist or distort this into some form of idolatry (which is what Rom. 1.18-32 says) then things might be different in regard to those who have not heard about Christ. So far as I can see, the NT affirms there are no such folks, and everyone needs to repent and respond to the Gospel when they have an opportunity to hear it.

This however doesn't settle the question of God's promises to Israel (not the world in general, but Israel in specific). Has God reneged on those promises? No. Has God predestined all Jews to be saved? No, Romans 9-11 is equally clear on that point. What Romans 11 does indeed suggest is that when Jesus returns many Jews will respond positively to him and be saved. This isn't seend as second chanceism by Paul because salvation is an issue not resolved finally until the resurrection, at least in the case of Israel.

The question then becomes, what about non-Israelites who have not heard? And the answer is we don't know. But perhaps you have answered your own question, by pointing to Moslems (and others) who have never heard the Gospel preached, but were reached by God through dreams. This example however is somewhat suspect because Moslems do know about Jesus through the Koran, even if they have never heard the Gospel preached.



Benson said...

I am afraid on this one Dr. Ben I am going to have to go with one who said (I can't remember who it was), "I disagree with what you say, but will fight to the death your right to say it."


see-through faith said...

Great post!

Tim said...

My own view on the church size issue is that, if all of the NT churches were house churches, then everything that is essential to church life ought to be possible in a living room! Anything more than that is luxury; nice, time-hallowed luxury, perhaps, but still luxury...

DLW said...

I liked Warren's PDC as a reflection on praxis, albeit one that seemed on the surface to give short-shrift to missiological deliberation, but I think that the out-of-the-box ways that Warren has shown serious Christian leadership on several fronts demonstrates that he values the importance of missiological deliberation.

I guess I see the mega-church as a para-church. I think it'd possible to combine the celebration aspects of it with a local house church groups that meet during the week and that are more decentralized.

As for confessing Christ as Lord, might that not have been before centuries of antisemitic oppression by "Christians" and serve as a contrast to confessing Caesar as Lord? Couldn't one argue that Paul is using a cultural expression to express a transcultural reality of someone knowing of God and submitting themselves to God as they understand THE God of the Universe?


CV said...

I don't understand who someone can comment or or criticize the "megachurches" as if they are all the same. Obviously, some of the other commentators point out differences. But it does seem as if some of the churches or pastors who are Mega are outside denominations. Therefore, it should be even harder to generalize. And if they aren't in a denomination, there would be no oversight if they stray from the Gospel teachings. Or add to the Gospel teachings.

The denomination I belong to has churches with only 15 attending on a Sunday to thousands attending. There certainly would be differences in the other programing of each church, but I know I can count on the worship services having confession, forgivness, Word and sacrament.

Todd M said...

The way I see it, Jesus broke social paradigms by reaching out in love to those that many of His colleagues felt were unloveable, unreachable, or undesireable. That is exactly what those transformed in God are called to do today as well.

DLW said...

There are a lot of different ways one can potentially reach out in love, though.


Felix Mendez said...

Hi! I am Felix R. Mendez, a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. Soon I'll be posting some comments on Mr. Warren's ministry.

Sharon Houk said...

All of your comments bring tears to my eyes and only serve to reveal the heaviness I feel as it relates to these issues.

I am one (of hundreds if not thousands) that has been asked to leave the PDC/Willow model because I took to heart what Jesus said, "go and make disciples." I'm sorry, but programs do not make disciples, people do; and they are not made in 40 days or 12 weeks. Do you remember that Jesus spent three years with his men? Three years.

It's devastating that what Mr. Warren set out to do for good, the Enemy has twisted to lukewarm teaching that is barely more than a motivational, rehearsed presentation with a few scriptures sprinkled througout in many, yes, many church buildings every weekend. This warm "Christianity" is now being spread, not only in our nation but now around the world.

The solution? I wish I knew. I pray daily for it. Meanwhile, I do as Jesus said to do, go baptize, make disciples and teach--one at a time if necessary.