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Archive for February 26th, 2009

A few years ago at lunch, a friend of mine and I, were relating our concerns for our different churches.  It seemed we were both hearing the same things from the pulpits, though, her church sermons were ahead of what I was hearing by about six months.

We compared notes and found that we were both hearing the same packaged sermons, or packaged ideas of the 5 Signs of a Healthy Church….and Where Did the Church Measure Up on the five “healthy” signs. 

This sermon series was clearly being presented to begin to shift the congregation and church into a ‘seeker-sensitive’, market-driven mode.  After my church finished with this series, the pastor, still riding the same wave, presented some canned sermons from  an Andy Stanley series called The Foyer Environments.  This went on for weeks as well.  This was eventually followed with sermons on changing our focus to being on a journey with God and others.  The term Sunday School was changed to Journey Groups.  We were becoming “relevant” to the outside world.   This was followed with the Nazarene Publishing House’s small group study of  The Quest, by Frank Moore.  (The Quest is a 40 day study patterned after Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose.)  Our next emphasis was small groups.

Back to my friend:  She began confronting the leadership in her church on the topics and actually found several sermons from an online source that the pastor presented as his own.  Eventually, she and her family left after seeing the slide into the Warren/Hybels seeker-sensitive, market-driven phenomena.  

Our family left our church as well, only after trying for over 18 months to point out to the leadership that the Rick Warren/Bill Hybels/Andy Stanley strategy for growing a church was not the Biblical way to grow a church, or bring the people of the church into a mature faith.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Romans 10:17     (Emergent influences were beginning to enter in as well and overlap with the seeker format.  The Youth Group was having Rob Bell’s Nooma videos shown to them.)

It is so sad to see pastors run after the enticement of these mega-church deals at the expense of giving their congregations the solid food from God’s Word.  Gone are the days of expository preaching because it is not seeker-friendly and might offend an unbeliever….and besides, it takes lots of time to study God’s Word and exegete out solid teaching and application.    The early history of the Nazarene Church states that it was supposed to be a believer’s church.

If you have experienced this at your church, or are experiencing this same pattern at your church, the blame may not be with the universities, but the blame might be found with all the conferences that Saddleback, Willow Creek, and North Pointe Community offer during the year.  (I know my pastor and staff were/are fans of Andy Stanley’s Catalyst and Drive Conferences presented annually at North Pointe.  They would come back pumped and ready to implement the next market-driven ideas.)

I was astounded to come across a list of Nazarene churches who are listed as members of the Willow Creek Association.  It costs $249 a year to be a member, and you get all the sermon outlines, power point slides, music suggestions, etc….along with many other perks.  You can check the Membership Benefits at this link:  https://www.willowcreek.com/membership/member_benefits.asp

 

Here is a list of Nazarene churches (as of this date) that are members of Willow Creek:

  • Arkansas:  Bentonville COTN  –  Rogers First COTN
  • Arizona:  Crossroads Nazarene Church – Orangwood Nazarene Church – Oro Valley COTN – Tempe COTN
  • California:  Montrose COTN – New Life COTN – Oroville COTN – Porterville COTN
  • Florida:  Highland Park COTN – Venice COTN
  • Iowa:   Oakland COTN
  • Idaho:   Boise First COTN
  • Illinois:  College COTN – First COTN (Lemon) – First COTN (Ottawa) – Harvest Community COTN – Mt. Prospect International COTN – Rock Island First Nazarene
  • Indiana:  Grace Point COTN – Kokomo First COTN – Valparaiso Nazarene
  • Kansas:  Church of the Nazarene (Garnett)  – First COTN (Hutchinson) – Grace Community COTN
  • Massachusetts:  Beverly COTN
  • Maryland:  Bel Air COTN – Gaithersburg COTN – Hagerstown COTN
  • Michigan:  Brighton COTN – Central COTN – Clare COTN – First COTN (Jackson) – Mason First COTN – Orchard Ridge COTN – Richfield COTN – Warren Woods COTN
  • Missouri:  Harvester COTN – Webster Groves COTN
  • North Carolina:  Pineville COTN – Powerline COTN
  • New Jersey:  High Mountain COTN – New Hope Community COTN
  • New Mexico:  Holiday Park COTN
  • New York:  Bronx Bethany COTN – Calvary Community COTN – First COTN (Richmond Hill) – Fishkill COTN – Moisaic COTN – Trinity COTN – Valley Stream COTN
  • Ohio:  Beavercreek COTN – Bedford COTN – Dayspring Community COTN – Grove City COTN – Highpoint Nazarene – Lima Community COTN – Marion First COTN – Northwest COTN – Parkview COTN – Shepherd COTN – West Carrollton COTN
  • Oklahoma:  Bethany First COTN – Central COTN
  • Oregon:  Portland First COTN – Salem First COTN
  • Pennsylvania:  Ephrata COTN – First COTN (Allentown) – New Holland COTN – Selinsgrove COTN – Stillmeadow COTN
  • South Carolina:  Midland Valley COTN
  • Texas:  Texarkana First COTN
  • Virginia:  Southside Nazarene
  • Washington:  Kirkland COTN – Othello COTN – Puyallup Nazarene

The link to check for church membership into the Willow Creek Association is here:  http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_info/find_a_church/ProfileSearch.asp 

 

Perhaps if  Willow Creek had been around during the days of John Wesley, he would have had  time to learn to golf and not spend so much time reading and studying God’s Word, compose convicting sermons, and check up on the spiritual growth of  the membership in his churches.   I wonder if he would have followed the methods of some of the secular worlds finest business leaders?  (See who the line up is for the next Leadership Summit.)   http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/2009/

 

In closing, if your church belongs to the WCA of churches, and/or your staff people go to seminars at Saddleback/Willow Creek/North Pointe,  then no doubt, your church is being influenced with business strategies and also emergent influences….and whatever the next big new whiz bang fad to appear on the scene will be.

God has His own methods for drawing people unto Him.  His Word.  Get into it.  Study it.  Preach from it.

2 Timothy 3:16    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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