I think that Leadership and Pastoral Leadership conferences have jumped the shark. They are sooooo 2006 and they quit being innovative a long long long time ago. I knew things were getting desperate in the world of leadership conferences when Rick Warren slapped a new label on his same old tired Purpose-Driven leadership materials and renamed it Radicalis. Did he think that no one would notice that its the exact same curriculum he's been pushing for 25 years?
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
I can think of hundreds of other things I rather be doing than attend an outdated rehash of leadership leftovers in yet another multi-day so called 'transformational' leadership experience.
And has anyone noticed that it is the exact same people who keep getting invited to speak at these events? Seriously, how many times do I need to hear Perry Noble complain about the mean bloggers who aren't 'man enough' to come out from behind their laptops? Even the young avant garde emergent types are getting old and fat and their kewl trendy jeans, shirts and glasses are looking as relevant as a re-run of Love American Style.
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that.I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
Seriously, the pantheon of so-called innovative church leadership demi-gods sure seems to be seriously lacking innovation lately. Apparently the well spring in their "valley of vision" has run dry and there's nothing really new under the leadership sun. So they have nothing better to do than invite the same speakers to say the same things in the same auditoriums singing the same songs delivering the same leadership pep talks. Even Perry Noble wore the exact same clothes two years in a row at the conference that his church hosts (No kidding! Here's Perry at the 2009 Unleash Conference. Here's Perry at the 2010 Unleash Conference.)
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
Some have tried to keep the leadership industry alive by creating a new Christian Leadership Code Language that we're supposed to read their books in order to decipher and apply to ministry. They throw around words like missional, intentional, incarnational, experiential and relational as if these words actually mean anything real. But these words are now as cutting edge and edgy as venti, grande, macchiato and frappuccino. I think those terms are yawn-al, boring-al, stale-al. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
R.I.P. Leadership Conferences. You taught us that if you live by relevance you also die by relevance. You were kewl for a season. But I'm bored with you now.
Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
By today’s new ‘Church Leadership’ standards Jesus was a clueless leader who obviously wasn't in tune with the 'worship experience' needs of His time and culture. Fact is, when you read the New Testament biographies you don’t read about Jesus discussing the latest leadership philosophies, church branding strategies, church marketing practices or the latest ideas for designing and creating holistic audio visual environments to help create the perfect mood for people to have an engaging worship experience.
Instead, when you read the New Testament you discover that Jesus often taught outside and Jesus’ teaching events were far from seeker-sensitive. When you compare Jesus' leadership practices to the new and improved leadership principles of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leadership Network and others you'd have to conclude that Jesus was a complete failure as a leader and was in the dark when it came to meeting the felt needs of His target market.
A prime example of Jesus' utter cluelessness is found in the Gospel of Mark chapter 8. In the opening verses of that chapter we learn that Jesus held, for lack of a better term, a three day long “outdoor church conference” where He was the featured speaker. Here’s what Mark records about the event.
“In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1–3)
Yes, you read that correctly! Those who attended Jesus' three day long ‘outdoor church conference’ were outside, exposed to the sun, the wind and the elements. Oh and there was no food provided until the END of the event. What was Jesus thinking?!
Can you imagine the comments that Jesus and His disciples received in the customer satisfaction response surveys after the event? I’m sure they got responses like the ones listed below.
Question: Were you satisfied with the location for this conference?
Answer: Are you kidding me?! The Judean countryside is no place to hold a three day long church conference. Not only did I get a sunburn and a windburn, but the stench from 5,000 sweaty men being baked alive for three days totally ruined my ‘worship experience’.
Question: What did you think of Jesus' teaching?
Answer: First of all it’s difficult to listen to a man drone on and on and on for THREE DAYS without anything in your stomach. Why didn’t Jesus just keep His teaching down to 30 to 45 minutes? Seriously, how does Jesus expect us to remember all of that stuff? Laptops, the internet and Twitter haven’t even been invented yet and most of us are poor uneducated people and don’t have the resources to even take notes. It would have been way better if Jesus had passed around some handouts with fill in the blank sentences so that we could at least have some way of applying His relevant points to our lives and experience some ‘life change’. This was no way to motivate people to become world changers.
Question: What did you think of the food?
Answer: We were baking and starving in the sun for three days before the the first and only meal was served. Jesus waited until we were all ready to pass out from hunger and exposure before He decided to throw us a bone and miraculously divide up some bread and some fishes. Why did Jesus wait until the end of the conference to feed us? Why didn’t Jesus do that neat little miracle two or three times a day during the conference so that we didn’t have to listen to him on an empty stomach?
Question: What were your overall impressions of the conference and what would you like to see done differently at our future conferences?
Answer: Aside from the fact that I was hot, got sunburned, windburned, had to endure the smell of 5,000 sweaty Judean peasants while listening to a Bible teacher drone on for THREE DAYS without the ability to take notes or follow along on Powerpoint, with no porta potties and no food in an environment that is nearly impossible to have a descent worship experience...I thought the conference was a raging success (that was sarcasm). I’d rather be boiled in oil by the Romans than attend another outdoor teaching conference hosted by Jesus.
By the way today’s Church Leadership Gurus talk you’d think that the New Testament was just brimming with Leadership wisdom ready to be picked and applied by today’s innovative visionary leaders. Yet, when I read the Gospel accounts, the leadership that Jesus modeled doesn’t even remotely look like the ‘new leadership’ that today’s gurus are selling. The reason for these differences is that Jesus' Leadership Model NEVER had anything to do with customer satisfaction or positive customer experiences.
I know that I am running the risk of being branded as a "Leadership Heretic" but I think that there was obviously something FAR MORE IMPORTANT happening at Jesus' three day long 'outdoor church conference' than religious consumers having their felt needs met or customers having a 'life changing experience'. The key to understanding what that "more important thing" was can be found in Matthew 4:4 which states:
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
Below is a Special Edition of the Fighting for the Faith radio program that exposes the Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of Dan Southerland's Purpose-Driven Church Transtioning Seminar. The list of cult-like tactics employed by Southerland is LONG. They include:
1. Flat out lies and manipulative double speak
2. Blatant Scripture Twisting
3. New & Direct Extra Biblical Revelation and Visions from God
4. Flat out intolerance for anyone who questions or challenges these "new" Extra Biblical Revelations and Visions that are supposedly from God.
All of these cult-like tactics are exposed and discussed in this special edition of F4F. Furthermore, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Dan Southerland's Church Transitions company has been the "go to" company used by Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven businesses to train pastors into Warren's Druckerite leadership methodologies.
Please pass this special edition of F4F along and warn the Body of Christ about these cult-like tactics employed by the Druckerites.
Click Here if you'd like to download the mp3 version of this Special Edition of Fighting for the Faith.
Click on the "Menu Button" on the player below to get the embed code needed to place this Special Edition of Fighting for the Faith on your website or blog.
Sometimes it is important to step back and review, reflect and summarize your work and look for valuable lessons learned.
I've spent some time this weekend doing just that. I've been hosting my radio program for almost 2 years. One of the daily features of my program are the sermon reviews. Each week I review 3 to 4 sermons from seeker-driven / purpose-driven churches. I review them in their entirety and am generally mortified and disappointed at the shallow self-help / felt-needs seminars that have replaced true in depth Biblical preaching in so many of these church's pulpits. After reflecting on the sermons I've reviewed from such churches as Saddleback, Willowcreek, Granger, NewSpring, Elevation, Fellowship Church, LCBC, South Hills, Fellowship of the Woodlands, Mosaic, The Orchard, and National Community, I set out to find one question that could tie all these sermons together so that I could identify the common theme in all of them. Here's the question I came up with:
If I were an unbeliever and I attended these churches and listened to all their sermons week after week, how would I define the term "Christ Follower"?
Here's the answer I came up with after reviewing the sermons preached at these seeker-driven / purpose-driven churches over the last 24 months:
Christ Follower: Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a 'no regrets' life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is an attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.
Based upon this summarized definition, I've come to the conclusion that the world is full of people who can fit this definition but who've never repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. This definition could easily apply to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, it could apply to Emergent Heretics, Unitarians, Muslims and practicing Jews. The reason why this definition of a Christ Follower could be applied to those outside of Christianity is because this is a definition based upon deeds NOT creeds. (Which is precisely what Rick Warren's so-called "second reformation" is all about.) Even worse, Rick Warren frequently admonishes the pastors that he trains to measure a person's spiritual growth by their obedience. If obedience were the true measure of one's spiritual growth then Jesus would have held the Pharisees up as an example of the most spiritually mature Christ Followers on the planet. Instead, Jesus called down woes on the Pharisees because they were outwardly obedient to the demands of God's law but inwardly their hearts were far from Christ. Plain and simple, the Pharisees despite their obedience didn't have FAITH. (Matt. 23:25-28, John 5:39-40).
It is frightening but absolutely true that ANYBODY can modify their actions, just like the Pharisees, so that their behaviors conform with this purpose-driven definition of what it means to be a Christ Follower without ever believing the creeds of the Historic Christian faith and without ever trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins.
Tradgically, the "Jesus" that is presented in the sermons that promote this definition of being a Christ Follower isn't the savior of the world who died on the cross for the sins of the world and calls all nations to repentance of their sins and the forgiveness of sins won by Christ on the Cross. Instead, the "Jesus" that is presented in these sermons is a "life coach", a training buddy and the supreme example of an emotionally well adjusted risk taking leader who lived the ultimate life of significance and purpose. This purpose-driven "Jesus" is there to help you achieve what he achieved and invites you to follow his examples and methods so that you can be Christlike too.
This seeker-driven / purpose-driven definition of what it means to be a Christ Follower is fatally flawed and I fear that there will be many people who appear before the judgement seat of Christ saying, "Lord, Lord, we were emotionally well adjusted self-actualized leaders who lived a life of significance and purpose, took risks, enjoyed healthy sex lives in our marriages, celebrated recovery, tithed, volunteered at church and helped dig fresh water wells in Africa" and Jesus will say to them "Depart from me, I never knew you!" (Matt. 7:21-23)
Many Christians have an incorrect view about what the Purpose-Driven Network, the Willowcreek Association and Leadership Network are. Many mistakenly believe these organizations are churches, or some form of a quasi-denomination. They’re not. These organizations are businesses and these businesses offer knowledge based products to the church leader / pastor market.
The reason I am circling back to clarify these points is that yesterday I called on Peter Drucker's disciples, Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels to issue a safety recall for their entire Emerging Church product line. This type of language seemed odd and out of place to a few people since speaking of Leadership Network, the Purpose-Driven Network and the Willowcreek Association as businesses contradicted what many people assumed about them. Part of the reason for this confusion is that two of these organizations are headed up by men who also happen to be pastors.
Therefore, what I want to do in this post is explain the real nature of these companies so that you can properly understand what these organizations are doing and can properly and realistically scrutinize their offerings in a correct and Biblical way. But, this means that I will need to make some statements that may challenge your assumptions about these companies.
In order to accomplish this task I will put forward a series of ‘theses’ that will help paint a realistic picture of these organizations and their leaders. As basic as these 'theses' may appear, many people have not taken the time to think through them and their implications.
Rick Warren is the head pastor of Saddleback Church.
Rick Warren is also the functioning CEO of the Purpose-Driven Network.
Saddleback Church and the Purpose-Driven Network are two distinct entities.
When Rick Warren is preaching at Saddleback he is functioning in a Pastoral Office.
When Rick Warren is making decisions about the direction of the Purpose-Driven Network he is functioning in a Chief Executive Office.
Therefore, the Purpose-Driven Network is a business entity that is separate and distinct from Saddleback Church but it happens to be run by a man who is both a CEO and a Pastor.
Bill Hybels is the head pastor of Willowcreek Church.
Bill Hybels is also the functioning CEO of the Willowcreek Association.
Willowcreek Church and the Willowcreek Association are two distinct entities.
When Bill Hybels is preaching at Willowcreek Church he is functioning in a Pastoral Office.
When Bill Hybels is making decisions about the direction of the Willowcreek Association he is functioning in a Chief Executive Office.
Therefore, the Willowcreek Association is a business entity that is separate and distinct from Willowcreek Church but it happens to be run by a man who is both a CEO and a Pastor.
The Purpose-Driven Network’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
The Willowcreek Association’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
Leadership Network’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
The Purpose-Driven Network develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
The Willowcreek Association develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
Leadership Network develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
Knowledge based products are concepts, ideas, models, methods and practices.
Although knowledge based products are not tangible products like iPods and cell phones they are products none the less.
Knowledge based products are delivered via books, DVDs, lectures, conference keynote addresses, articles and one on one coaching.
Knowledge based products must be developed just like tangible products must be developed.
When the Purpose-Driven Network (PDN) holds a conference at Saddleback Church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where PDN’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
The business conference also happens to be hosted by the church that Rick Warren pastors.
When the Willowcreek Association (WA) holds a conference at Willowcreek Church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where WA’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
The business conference also happens to be hosted by the church that Bill Hybels pastors.
When the Leadership Network (LN) holds a conference at a church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where LN’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
LN, PDN and WA although they are separate companies offer very similar knowledge based products and services to the church leader / pastor market.
LN, PDN and WA all sell knowledge based products and services that are based upon and firmly rooted in the leadership, management concepts and theories of the late business guru Peter Drucker.
Just like McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys all sell hamburgers... LN, PDN and WA all sell Peter Drucker’s business and management ideas.
Drucker’s leadership theories form the common ground for all of the knowledge based products that LN, PDN and WA sell to the church leader / pastor market.
With these theses in mind, there are several other things that you must also keep in mind regarding my call for the Druckerites to issue a safety recall for their entire Emerging Church product line.
I am calling on Rick Warren the CEO of the Purpose-Driven Network to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that PDN helped develop and bring to market.
I am calling on Bill Hybels the CEO of the Willowcreek Association to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that WA helped develop and bring to market.
I am calling on Bob Buford the CEO of the Leadership Network to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that LN helped develop and bring to market.
All three of these Druckerite CEO’s bear some responsibility because of their roles in helping to develop and release the knowledge based product known as the Emerging Church. The reason they are responsible is because none of these businesses have put quality control measures or systems in place in order to insure that the knowledge based products that they bring to market and sell to church leaders / pastors are not infected with false doctrine and heresy.
If Pastor Warren and Pastor Hybels want to continue moonlighting as CEO’s then they must take responsibility for the doctrinal safety of the knowledge based products that their businesses are developing and selling to church leaders / pastors.
Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels are the Druckerite “trinity”. All three of these men were personally mentored by the late business guru Peter Drucker and these three men more than any others are responsible for innovating the church by purposely changing congregations from a pastoral leadership model to a CEO / Innovative Change Agent leadership model. All of these innovations were strategically crafted under the careful eye of Peter Drucker. And all of these innovations were incubated, introduced and injected into the church through the coordinated efforts of Drucker’s disciples through their different but intimately connected organizations; Leadership Network, the Purpose Driven Network and the Willow Creek Association.
What many people don’t realize is that the Emerging Church is a product created by and promoted by the Druckerites.
If you don’t believe me then it is time for you to listen to or re-listen to my interview with Doug Pagitt regarding the genesis of the Emerging Church. Pagitt provides us with an expert insiders look at how the Emerging Church came into being and got off of the ground. What you will discover is that without the Druckerites there may have never been an ‘emerging church’. The Druckerites formed, bankrolled and promoted the Emerging Church much the same way a music marketing company might form and promote a boy band like the Backstreet Boys or N Sync.
Here’s the interview.
After listening to Pagitt’s retelling of the story of the emergence of the Emerging Church is it any wonder then why Druckerites like Rick Warren and Bob Buford lent their support and credibility to the Emerging Church? They were responsible for creating it.
Take a look at who endorsed Dan Kimball’s 2003 book The Emerging Church. In that list you will see both Druckerites as well as out right Emergent Heretics all singing the praises of Kimball’s book. In fact, Rick Warren AND Emergent Apostate Brian McLaren both wrote the forward to the book.
Why would a supposedly conservative evangelical pastor like Rick Warren want to lend his credibility to the Emergent Church and have his name be directly associated with men like Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and Brian McLaren? Rick Warren is a Druckerite and the Emerging Church is a product developed by the Druckerites. Rick Warren is in fact one of the Fathers of the Emerging Church. That's why he lent his name and credibility to the product.
What’s also patently clear is that when the Druckerites spend time and money developing new church business products they spend zero time and money on quality control. Sadly, the Druckerites are so enamored with innovation that they have no systems in place to vet out false teachers and heretics. As a result, Druckerite products may in fact pose a severe safety risk to the church.
Case and Point: I have been saying for almost 5 years now that Brian McLaren is a heretic and a dangerous post-modern liberal. Yet, McLaren has written articles that have been featured at pastors.com. Rick Warren lent his credibility and endorsement to the Emerging Church movement without even so much as a hint that he had any concerns about the troubling doctrine and theology of its leaders. Bill Hybels has invited Emergent Leaders like McLaren to speak at Willow Creek Conferences and Youth Leader Conferences and Bob Buford’s Leadership Network has been promoting and selling McLaren’s books for years on the Leadership Network website.
What does this prove? It shows that there is absolutely ZERO doctrinal and theological oversight when it comes to the Druckerites and the products that they develop.
In light of the fact that Brian McLaren has finally decided to come clean and lay his theological cards on the table in his new book A New Kind of Christianity AND in light of the fact that McLaren has finally admitted that those of us who’ve been saying that he denies the fall of man, hell, Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement, the inerrancy and authority of scripture and Christ’s return in glory to judge both the living and the dead were right all along...
I am calling on the Druckerites, Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels to issue a safety recall for their ENTIRE Emerging Church product line.
I am calling on the Druckerites to publicly repudiate and rebuke Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt for their heresies.
I am calling on the Druckerites to remove all Emerging Church products from all their youth groups including any books by emerging authors as well as all Nooma DVD’s.
I am calling on the Druckerites to issue an apology to the body of Christ for failing to put the proper safety systems in place to vet out false doctrine and heresy from the products they develop.
I am calling on the Druckerites to convene a standing theological safety committee to doctrinally review and scrutinize all Drukerite products and methods in light of sound doctrine and a Christ-Centered / Gospel Centered Theology. The decisions of this safety committee must be binding.
This safety committee should be comprised of top theologians and church practitioners who still firmly hold to the doctrines and confessions of the Protestant Reformation. For this committee I nominate Dr. Mike Horton, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Alister McGrath, Rev. William Cwirla, Rev. Todd Wilken, Rev. Ken Jones, Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, Rev. Paul Washer, Phil Johnson and the Rev. Jeff Noblit.
It’s time for Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels to do the right thing and admit they’ve endangered the body of Christ by releasing a doctrinally defective and theologically dangerous product. For the sake of the body of Christ they MUST issue a safety recall for their entire "Emerging Church" product line.