Rick Warren

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 4

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 4

Dealing with Resisters
Who Refuse to Compromise their Faith

by Berit Kjos

“I also believe that pastors are the most strategic change agents to deal with the problems society faces.”[1, page 20]  Rick Warren

A “change agent… should know about the process of change, how it takes place and the attitudes, values and behaviors that usually act as barriers…. He should know who in his system are the ‘defenders’ or resisters of innovations…. Try to identify resisters before they become vocal….” Ronald G. Havelock, The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education.

“Change leaders must also be prepared to deal with members who choose to ‘stay and fight.'”[3, page 91]  Leading Congregational Change (published by Jossey-Bass)

“The purpose driven life is being promoted in almost every church in my town. The banners are hanging everywhere! … We pretty much stand alone with a few friends.” A visitor to our website

Part 3 of this series, “Small Groups and the Dialectic Process,” triggered a stream of letters from troubled Christians around the world. They had watched as the focus of their churches shifted from Bible-based teaching to purpose-driven experiences. Many had sensed something wrong but couldn’t define the problem. Some wondered how God’s guidance fit into this tightly controlled man-made system. They had asked questions, but no one could calm their concern. They had tried to warn their pastor and friends but had been rebuffed. Some were even told to find another church. All shared the pain of rejection. The following letter from Pat Johnson illustrates the struggle faced by those who cannot, with a clear conscience, go along with a church that embraces the world’s transformative marketing and management methods:

“I just read ‘Small Groups and the Dialectic Process.’ Absolutely dead-on! At the end of it, I read this paragraph which took my breath away: ‘In today’s Church Growth Movement, resisters are usually sifted out fairly early in the process. In the next installment, we will look at some of the ways non-conformists are assessed, exposed, vilified and dismissed from the church families they have loved, served and supported.

“I have been forced out of two churches for being such a ‘resister.’ I am a normal wife and mom and teacher who would not conform and, as you stated above, have been shunned and vilified. This has caused me considerable heartbreak and torment. For years I have struggled to cope with the shock of losing my church family and being branded as divisive.

“The ONLY way I have been able to come through this is to return to my Lord and trust His Word only. For years, I didn’t really realize that I had drifted away from Him. Then when the storm hit, I didn’t have the means to withstand it. By His grace and mercy, I have emerged from the mind-hell that shaming and shunning create….”

Vilifying and shaming “resisters” is nothing new. Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah described the rejection and mockery they endured for speaking God’s truth. At least one early Church was torn by similar hostilities. The apostle John told us about a church who modeled the kinds of tactics used in the Church Growth movement today:

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustlyaccusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.” 3 John 1:9-11

In 17th century England, Pilgrims and Separatists faced ridicule, torture and imprisonment for refusing to conform to the Church of England’s demand for total conformity and universal participation. During the Spanish Inquisition, non-conforming Protestants were beheaded while villagers flocked to watch the show. In China today, millions of believers who worship their Lord outside the state-controlled church risk beatings and death under the capricious hand of Communist prison guards. Human nature doesn’t change, and social barriers to cruelty against non-conforming Christians crumble as Biblical morality yields to the world’s sensuality.

Who were targeted by the media after the tragic bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building? Christians, conservative radio hosts and homeschooling parents together with Militia groups and criminals! Day after day, the media’s accusing pens pointed to suspected foes of American oneness — those whose “enraged rhetoric” had created a national “climate of hate and paranoia.” And their emotional appeals worked! It’s easier to shout, “Stop spreading hate!” than to encourage rational debate.

The same is true in postmodern churches. Like secular change agents, from UN visionaries to local educators, church leaders are being trained in the latest business management theories. They envision a unified community where all members participate in the required “lifelong learning” and facilitated consensus groups. No one would be exempt from the continual assessments that measure cooperation, monitor compliance and provide leaders with the feedback needed to periodically adjust the process. All would be tracked through a vast networks of databases available not just to the local church and government but, eventually, also to the United Nations.  And resisters — those who stand back and question the process — become enemies to this quest for oneness and solidarity. 

And no wonder!  “Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,” warned Jesus, “therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you…. for they do not know the One who sent Me.” John 15:19-21

One reason why people conform to the seductive “change process” in evangelical churches is the fear of loss. Rejection hurts. But such fear is useful for today’s change agents. Just as severe public punishment has through the ages been used to frighten the masses into outward conformity, so fear of personal rejection now prompts people of all ages “to go along to get along.”

In order to transform churches from the old ways (where pastors preach and everyone learns the Scriptures) to the Total Quality Management model, “transformational leaders” must find ways to curb resistance to change. The popular church management manual, Leading Congregational Change (LCC), promoted by Bob Buford‘s Leadership Network, offers a well-used plan. “This is a book you ought to read before you change anything,” said Rick Warren in his hearty endorsement. Ponder its definition for resistance and the tone it sets:

“Address Specific Pockets of Resistance. Resistance is the ‘opposite reaction’ to change…. [It] can come in many different forms—confrontational or passive-aggressive, from known troublemakers or loyal supporters, as a result of a specific change or of an incorrect perception.” [3, pages 90-91]

Since change agents must be totally committed to their strategic mission or purpose, they must also view dissenters as wrong. While some issues can be negotiated, this is not one of them. Successful transformation depends on persuading the vast majority to share their single-minded focus. Those who disagree with their manipulative strategies are viewed as intolerable barriers to the ultimate goal: a new way of collective thinking, being and serving.

In the end, the specific vision or stated purposes matter little. What counts are the unity and conformity derived from the common focus, the feel-good group experiences, the peer pressure, and the facilitated process. The only real obstacles to mass compliance are those (usually faithful members) who oppose the essential steps to top-down control and infect others with their doubts. You may recognize some of the steps:

1. Identify resisters.  In the Church Growth Movement, the resisters are those who question the need for systemic change (total restructuring of all facets), distrust the dialectic process, and criticize the transformational methods. What’s worse, they refuse to shift their primary focus from the actual Scriptures to the positively phrased “purpose” or “vision” or “mission statement.”  LCC warns change leaders about this problem:

“Change leaders should expect resistance to team learning. … Recognizing and making this resistance explicit to other team members tends to lessen its grip. It takes time for a group to emerge as a team, and all the concerns and resistance related to teams will resurface during this period.” [3, page133]

Rick Warren is more subtle, and his references to health versus disease cloak his hostility toward “unhealthy” members who resist his agenda. In The Purpose Driven Church, he writes:

“When a human body is out of balance we call that disease…. Likewise, when the body of Christ becomes unbalanced, disease occurs…. Health will occur only when everything is brought back into balance. The task of church leadership is to discover and remove growth-restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur.”[1, page 16]

Scott Peck, famed author of The Road Less Traveled, uses the same analogy. “There’s a term therapists use; it’s ‘resistance,'” he writes in Reflections on Leadership, “which refers to people who don’t like to or want to be healed or converted, so they resist.”[5, page 92]

The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education by Ronald G. Havelock tells it like it is. This popular manual for transformational leaders was funded by the U.S. Office of Education and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1973 and continued to receive government funding until the 1980s. Since then, it has been foundational to the training of teachers, pastors, politicians and change agents in diverse fields. A few years ago, it was promoted on the churchsmart.com website. (The page has since been removed). Comparing Havelock’s model for change with the management process taught by Bob Buford, Rick Warren and their common mentor Peter Drucker, one quickly sees the similarities. All use the same basic formulas dressed in different words, phrases and illustrations. Like LCC, Havelock’s book prompts change agents to watch out for resisters:

“Many social systems also contain some members who assume the active role of resisters or critics of innovation. They are the defenders of the system the way it is, the self-appointed guardians of moral, ethical, and legal standards…. Resisters of various orders have been very successful in preventing or slowing down… diverse innovations.”[2, page 120]

“Resisters’ may be identified for having spoken out previously on the innovation or from having come to you with objections…. It is important, however, to try to identify resisters before they become vocal and committed on this particular innovation.”[2, page 122]

Charlotte Iserbyt, in her revealing book, the deliberate dumbing down of america,(sic) shares her observations of a meeting she attended many years ago when she worked for the US Department of Education:

“The presenter (change agent) taught us how to ‘manipulate’ the taxpayers/parents into accepting controversial programs. He explained how to identify the ‘resisters’ in the community and how to get around their resistance. He instructed us in how to go to the highly respected members of the community… to manipulate them into supporting the controversial/non-academic programs and into bad-mouthing the resisters…. I left this training—with my very valuable textbook, The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovations in Education, under my arm—feeling very sick to my stomach and in complete denial over that in which I had been involved. This was not the nation in which I grew up; something seriously disturbing had happened between 1953 when I left the United States and 1971 when I returned.”[4]

2.  Assess resisters and determine the degree of resistance. Negative or uncompromising attitudes will be tracked using the sophisticated data systems that monitor each member. “Continual feedback” from these high-tech systems (made available to many large churches through Bob Buford’s Leadership Network) provides the data needed to make necessary adjustments. It’s all part of Total Quality Management. As we read in The Change Agent’s Guide, “Resisters should be judged for relative sophistication and influence.” [2, page 122]

LCC’s suggestions fit right in:

Treat Each New Initiative as an Experiment. … People are less resistant to a short-term experiment than they are to a ‘permanent’ change. … An experiment signals that the leaders do not claim to have all the answers. Experiments give people more room to innovate, learn and improve with less risk of repercussion. … Measure, measure, measure. Before beginning an experiment, a scientist defines the desired result and establishes procedures to measure the outcome. Measurement implementation requires clarity about the goal and process for evaluating progress.”[3, page 82]

Continually Monitor the Commitment Level. Healthy congregations have good feedback systems. As change occurs, commitment levels will vary. For some people any change calls for a ‘withdrawal from the emotional bank account’ (Covey, 1989). When the account is overdrawn, people become unwilling to make further changes. As withdrawals are made, change leaders should intentionally replenish the account through acts of kindness, good communication, love and concern.”[3, page 104]

3. Befriend, involve and persuade borderline resisters. Participation in small group dialogues may encourage borderline resisters to trade their traditional convictions for a more permissive fellowship. Some will reconsider their objections and conform to group demands. Others will quietly leave on their own.

“Coercive power only strengthens resistance,” wrote Robert Vanourek in Reflections on Leadership. “…Instead the leader’s skills at ‘facilitating’ the group should be used. The ideas should evolve from the group. Then the leaders can simplify them in a persuasive fashion. Then commitment to the vision can be gained.”[5, page 301]   Emphasis added

The words, “simplify them,” means rephrasing and adapting the group views to the pre-planned outcome — a shrewd and subtle way of giving the people the impression that they actually conceive and “own” the results. This strategy works well in community forums around the world.  As Ronald Havelock wrote in his Change Agent’s Guide, “Increasing pressure against the opposing forces usually will increase the resistance pressure. Frequently, but not always, the wisest and most effective course of action is to focus on ways of understanding and reducing resistance rather than trying to overwhelm it.”[2, page 301]

The most effective solution is friendly persuasion. “For unity’s sake, we must never let differences divide us,” wrote Pastor Warren. “We must stay focused on what matters most — learning to love each other as Christ has loved us, and fulfilling God’s five purposes for each of us and his church.”[6, pages 161-162]

That sounds good. But how can concerned Christians embrace a unity that involves compromising the truth? Only if our primary focus is fixed on Jesus and His Word can we truly share His agape love in a darkening world. For His name’s sake, we can’t let a human vision of unity force us to minimize His truth.

Change agents have little tolerance for such an uncompromising Biblical position. It gets in the way of total and continual change. Therefore, LCC warns its readers to remain vigilant, keep promoting the vision (or purpose) and build congregational support. Notice that the strategic vision, not the Holy Spirit, must guide the process:

“Never stop. The change process never truly ends. … The art of leadership is knowing when to pause and when to press forward….  It is easy to be lulled into a premature feeling of victory after the first round of implementation. Established momentum and alignment will—

  • Spread the vision … to a congregation-wide effort

  • Steadily break down the residual places of resistance

  • Instill a new approach for vision-guided, strategic decision making throughout the congregation

  • Create the mindset and systems that will help the church… maintain or increase its impact on its community.”[3, page 93] Emphasis added.

“There is no ‘next stage,’ but the change process is never-ending. The eight stages of the change process need to be revisited often. This cycle becomes a part of the congregation’s culture and way of life.”[3, page 94]

4. Marginalize more persistent resisters. They obstruct progress and undermine the needed unity, momentum and passion for change. That’s why pastors often suggest to “divisive” members that they might be happier elsewhere. When the unhappy members leave, they usually, out of obedience to their Lord, follow the pastor’s request that they not speak to anyone about their reasons for leaving. The congregation will be told not to ask any questions. Thus the change leaders avoid potential conflict. The LCC summarizes this stage:

“Some loss of members is likely throughout the change process.  Even at this late stage, some people will decide that they are not on board with the vision and that they need to leave. When this happens, leaders must be willing to allow people to find a different place to worship…. The worst mistake is to compromise the vision to try to retain a few members.

     “Change leaders must also be prepared to deal with members who choose to ‘stay and fight.’ When the resistance is overt and destructive, failure to act on the problem is far worse than the cure. The Bible gives clear principles in Matthew 18 for how to handle these conflicts.” [3, page 91]

Actually, Matthew 18:15-17 shows God’s way of dealing with an actual sin — a violation of God’s law or guidelines — not someone who, in obedience to God’s Word, takes a stand. Yet, in spite of the enforced tolerance toward moral and spiritual sins within the Church Growth Movement, there is little tolerance toward those who appear to disobey the top-down mandates of this manipulative management system. Sold out to pragmatism, it often turns a blind eye to Scriptures such as Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than man.”

Pastor Warren is more subtle, yet he models an attitude that breeds intolerance and judgment toward individuals who violate his politically correct guidelines concerning unity and relational synergy. As you saw earlier, he equates sincere Christians who question the adoption of the world’s methodology with germs and disease within the body. And he calls on the church leadership to “remove growth-restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur.”[1, page 16]

What are those barriers? Are they the thoughts and actions that the Scriptures call sins, or are they attitudes and values that clash with psychological criteria for a politically correct “healthy church?” As Pastor Warren demonstrates throughout The Purpose Driven Life, it’s all too easy to prove a point by cloaking the world’s psychological notions in short, simple or paraphrased Scriptures taken out of context.

5. Vilify those who “stay and fight.” At this stage, negative labels, accusations and slander are permitted, if not encouraged, to circulate. Resisters — now labeled as divisive troublemakers — are blamed for disunity, for slowing the change process, and for distracting the church body from wholehearted focus on its all-important vision, mission or purpose. Ponder the subtle suggestions and negative labels Pastor Warren attaches to individuals who question his purpose-driven management system:

“The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers….”[6, page 130]

“Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans—’bunny believers’ who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability or commitments. Many believe one can be a “good Christian’ without joining  (or even attending ) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.”[6, page 133]

“A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation.”[6, page 133]

Isolation breeds deceitfulness.”[6, page 134] Emphasis added in each item

Notice the derogatory implication in each statement. We discussed some of God’s special “solitary saints” earlier. Trusting God alone, they grew strong in Spirit. Those who have searched long and hard for a Biblical church with solid teaching and edifying fellowship may identify with what Rick Warren mocks as “bunny believers.” And the “isolation” of a faithful Christian who obeys God’s call to separation from worldliness and unbiblical fellowship produces purity, not deceitfulness. [2 Corinthians 6:12-18]

Yet unfair and misleading labels continue to undermine the credibility of faithful believers. In the article “165 members ousted from Gardendale Baptist,” Brad Olson wrote,

“Members of Gardendale Baptist Church voted Sunday to expel about 165 members from their congregation because they did not support the leadership of the church’s pastor…. In a letter to the congregation, Micah Davidson, the church’s pastor, called a business meeting after a July 18 baptismal service at which members would vote on the following statement: ‘Pastor Micah is the God-called pastor for Gardendale and is leading us in God’s direction or not.’… ‘If the church votes for me to stay,’ he wrote, ‘those who vote against me will be removed from membership in the family immediately.’

“The vote was about 750 to 165 in favor of the pastor, according to John Gilbert, administrative pastor of the church. Immediately after the vote of confidence, members voted to revoke the memberships of those who voted against Davidson. Gilbert said that of the 165 members who were ‘removed from membership,’ all could come back to church if they ‘signed a covenant for church unity.’…

“Gilbert said the controversy arose over Davidson’s leadership and changes relating to certain programs in the church. ‘Most of it centered around Micah’s leadership,” Gilbert said. “Some people liked it and some didn’t like it. This whole thing is like a divorce. You have new leadership and some of the old leadership decides they don’t want to follow the new leadership.’

“Our church is totally committed to reaching people in the community. Some people were willing to sacrifice some personal preferences [set aside offensive Scriptures and Biblical teaching in order to gain more members?] and traditions and some were not willing to do that.”

“Gilbert said opposition in the church was impeding the church’s progress. He said the members could not vote on every decision Davidson made, but could vote on whether he was called by God to be pastor.’ They just couldn’t continue with the gossip and slander and misinformation,’ he said.” www.caller.com/ccct/cda/article_print/0,1983,CCCT_811_3050141_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html

Gossip, slander and misinformation? Statements from those who were forced to leave the church community they had loved show that their concerns about the shift to a more contemporary model were valid. During a televised interview, one person wept as she expressed both the pain of rejection and the confusing new rules for the church. The actual “misinformation” seems to come from the new pastor and other church managers who have little tolerance for anyone who questions their absolute power and unbiblical commands. No wonder, since contemporary “church leaders” are trained to use tough words to discredit dissenters.

In a review of the book, Making Change Happen One Person at a Time: Assessing Change Capacity Within Your Organization, resisters were labeled “tares in a wheat field.”[7] In other words, a negative Biblical image was used to disgrace those who couldn’t conform. Those who flowed with the change were the “wheat field.” Resisters were tares:

“At the opposite end of the leadership spectrum are the resisters who resemble the tares in the wheat field. They appear willing to change, but use a variety of ever-so-subtle tactical means to prevent the organization from reaching its objective.”[7]

Where pragmatism rules, anything goes. As The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education tells us: “Sometimes collaboration will not work and, when it fails, there are a number of alternatives that should be considered, ranging from complete abandonment to complete deception.”[2, page 131]

No doubt many are being deceived. And all who embrace this process of “managed change” tend to share its hostility toward resisters. Some of you may identify with the pastor who sent us the following letter:  

“I am a pastor of a small congregation in Australia that grew out of a desire for the TRUTH…. Having been branded rebellious and out of divine order for challenging the senior leadership of a large church, (of which I was a pastor) — and having been disciplined by the senior pastor and the elders because I dared to address the errors of our ways and to challenge even our vision and church programs (which were hurting more people than healing) — my wife and I soon found ourselves ‘churchless.’ 

“Following some painful experiences of ostracism and spiritual rejection, I sought God in fasting and prayer for a week in solitude…. Our glorious and faithful heavenly Father finally broke through and after much weeping, brokenness — and repentance for the sins of self-effort and trying to please man rather than God, we were led into His wilderness for more trials and testing. We grew stronger in faith and deeper in His Word than we ever had before, and found refuge and strength in Him alone.

“Since then God has taken us through a time of searching the scriptures and fasting and prayer for His church. In time, God sent those who had also been ‘rejected’ or left the church because they could no longer tolerate the sin, compromise and false or diluted teachings, and we found ourselves meeting and worshipping in homes as in Acts 2. We now meet weekly and are growing in His glorious Word, and in biblical fellowship together.

“Rick Warren’s ’40 Days of Purpose’ is taking this country by storm and just about every church is running it. Before I even looked at it I felt a heaviness on my heart and a check in my spirit….  I began to read the book. Having already heard of the damage done to many churches by his ‘Purpose Driven Church’ years before, I was reluctant to do so, but I felt it my duty to at least look at the material. It wasn’t long before I began to see the deception, not so much by what he taught, but by what was missing.” Emphasis added

6. Establish rules, regulations, laws and principles that silence, punish or drive out resisters. At Saddleback, every new member must sign a “Membership Covenant.” It includes this innocuous promise: “I will protect the unity of my church… by following the leaders.”

This covenant is backed by Scriptures such as Ephesians 4: 29 (“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths….”) and Hebrews 13:17 (“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority….”)

But taking a stand on God’s Word is hardly what the Bible refers to as “unwholesome talk.” And, if church leaders followed the world’s management system rather than God’s way, the command to “obey your leader and submit….” would be overruled by other relevant Scriptures. For example, when the religious leaders in Jerusalem told John and Peter to stop teaching “in the name of Jesus,” they answered, 

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19

Church management consultant and interim pastor, Jim Van Yperen, might disagree. Teaching on submission at a church where he had been hired to lead the change process, he said,

“It’s sin not to submit…. By my refusal to admit it is sin, it’s a further problem. That’s what Satan wants to do. He wants to separate us. And if he can give me the idea that I’m right and you are wrong so I’m not going to submit to you because you are crazy or I don’t like you or I’m not going to listen to you or I won’t come to church… that’s an act of sin. It’s rebellion. It’s sin. It needs to be confessed, repented of and forgiven. Most of what happens in the church that get us into trouble are these relational sins that we want to minimize and say, ‘No I just disagree.’ We’ll talk about disagreement. There’s not a lot of things you have permission to disagree about.”[8] Emphasis added.


Van Yperen wrote a chapter titled “Conflict: The Refining Fire of Leadership” for George Barna’s book, Leaders on Leadership back in 1997. “A leader of leaders,” George Barna calls him. Like other leading change agents, he is “a marketing strategist and communications consultant,” who “has worked with a wide variety of churches, parachurch ministries and non profit organizations in the areas of vision development, strategic planning, communications, resource development and conflict resolution.” His international influence makes his next statement significant. Notice its emphasis on collective, holistic or “systems thinking” — one of the more important outcomes of the world’s new management system and its consensus process. Ponder the far-reaching implication of this postmodern principle:

“Think in wholes, not in parts…. God views sin as a community responsibility. When one person in the community sins, the whole community bears the guilt.”[9]

You saw evidence of Pastor Warren’s holistic views in the chapter on “Unity and Community.” Some of the following rules or principles also reflect a collective ideal.  Violations open the door to various disciplines:

God blesses churches that are unified. At Saddleback Church, every member signs a covenant that includes a promise to protect the unity of our fellowship. As a result, the church has never had a conflict that split the fellowship….”[6, page 167] Emphasis added

“Rick’s Rules of Growth…. Third, never criticize what God is blessing, even though it may be a style of ministry that makes you feel uncomfortable.” [1, page 62]

Who determines what God is blessing? Does the growth come through the Holy Spirit or through the latest strategies in behavior modification?  The assessments that measure progress toward pre-planned outcomes don’t discern spiritual influences — whether from God or other forces. Like public schools, they measure personal change toward collective thinking and readiness to cooperate, but they can’t test the heart or measure obedience to the promptings of the Spirit. So the question remains: are new members added because they were seeking God or because they liked the feel-good fellowship, the sense of belonging and the unconditional respect?

Listen to the words Jesus spoke to the crowds fascinated with His message and healing power. “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life….” Matthew 6:26-27

Peter Drucker‘s unbiblical emphasis on success by man’s standards should stir great alarm among Christians. What happens to people who don’t fit his blueprint for productive human resources? Sarah Leslie, co-author of The Pied Pipers of Purpose, a vital document that makes the complexities and connections behind the new management systems understandable, wrote:

“We’ve come across numerous references in the Purpose-Driven literature to a concept called ‘abandonment.’ It is a Peter Drucker concept that has to do with businesses abandoning parts of their business that don’t make money. In the private sector (churches) it translates into churches abandoning projects that don’t produce pre-defined ‘results’ (the measurable kind, ‘outcomes,’ etc.). This also means abandoning people who don’t go along with the flow — the ‘laggards’ who won’t participate in the transformation. A church split is seen as a good thing, in that it gets rid of those people who are blocking progress towards church restructuring.”

If someone were to rewrite the parable of the Shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to search for the one that was lost, do you wonder if he would check to make sure the one lost sheep would fit the new management standards?


One of the standard rules for small group dialogue tells members to respect every diverse position or point of view. Don’t violate someone’s comfort zone by implying that an unbiblical behavior or lifestyle constitutes sin. As LCC tells us, “Create a safe environment. Participants in the process must feel that they have permission to raise questions, challenge assumptions, and explore a variety of options.In transformational planning, there can be no sacred cows.” [3, page 124] Emphasis added

Do you see the inconsistency? There is little respect for the old views and standards. Resisters within the church have no permission to question or challenge the change process. Why then would its change agents encourage critical challenges to truth in a group setting that discourages clear Biblical answers? And why would the “critical thinking” strategies used by public schools to change our children’s home-taught values now be used to transform churches?

The answer is simple but shocking. First, LCC tells Christian leaders that, “Using critical thinking intentionally to challenge the mental models of an organization is a key skill. Critical thinking is the process of taking a fresh look at a problem by stripping away the assumptions and constraints that may have been imposed in the past. It requires probing deeper than most groups are comfortable doing.”[3, page 120-121]

Second, the goal for change agents in mega-churches matches the goal for UNESCO’s worldwide education system. Concerned parents who have been watching the changing education system will be familiar with the term critical thinking. In the Glossary of our 1995 book, Brave New Schools, we defined it as “Challenging students’ traditional beliefs, values and authorities through values clarification strategies and Mastery Learning.” 

Don’t minimize the significant parallel between the school and the purpose-driven church. The words and phrases used by the two systems may differ at times, but the manipulative management methods and change processes are the same. Both fit into the “seamless” structure of the global management system. Both would agree that it’s okay to criticize and tear down the old ways of thinking and believing. But it’s not okay to criticize the global vision for a utopian future or the march toward solidarity in a new world order. Both the vision and the method were planned by socialist leaders back in 1945 through 1948, when Alger Hiss, Julian Huxley and Brock Chisholm (the first heads of the United Nations, the UNESCO and the World Health Organization) outlined the ambitious plan for global solidarity through education and mental health standards around the world. Their vision hasn’t changed in the last 59 years. If anything, it’s stronger and more acceptable to our culture and churches than ever. 

Where do God, the Holy Spirit and the Bible fit into this monstrous worldwide system that uses deception and behavior modification to mold Human Resources for the Global Workforce? They don’t. That’s why schools must either ban or adapt religion to the ultimate goals of our globalist manager. And that’s why change agents assigned to transform churches must redefine Biblical terms, paraphrase Scripture verses, and determine which truths are useful and which are offensive. Behind the familiar sounding mission, vision and purpose statements stands a system that leaves little room for the actual guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is no room for God’s ways if they can’t be conformed to the detailed man-made plans for change.  

Confidence and peace in the midst of change and struggle

Man’s grandiose aims and deceptive strategies never surprise God. He sees the end as well as the beginning, and He warns us to watch for signs of things to come. He tells us to guard against the world’s illusions and promises His strength in our weakness. He calls us to separation unto Him even as we love the lost and share His truth.

He tells us that His ways, His truth and His nature never change, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The almighty Father and sovereign Lord of the Old Testament is still our Father and Lord in New Testament times. And this holy and righteous “Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30).

By His grace, His faithful followers find “refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us … an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:18-19). But those who hop on the bandwagon of “continual change” have no such anchor. Nor do they know where their ride will end, since they leave behind the unchanging absolutes of God’s Word.

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ….” Philippians 3:18-20

Those whose hearts are set on eternal life, but walk with Jesus in this life, will share in His suffering and rejection. Even His disciples complained about some of His teachings, which was anything but politically correct. In John 6, we read His response to their grumbling:

“’Does this offend you? … It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’”  John 6:61-67

What about you? Walking with Jesus may mean that you must speak unwanted truths, share the offense of the cross and separate yourself from the crowd. But when you face hostility, rejection and abandonment, Jesus is there — softening the pain and replacing it with His sweet presence.

After reading Pat Johnson’s opening letter, I asked her how God strengthened and sustained her during the painful exclusion from her church “family” and friends. May her answers encourage you:

  • By never leaving me even when I turned away from Him in hurt and anger
  • By forgiving me daily for turning to the flesh and mercifully waiting for me to return to Him
  • By speaking to me loud and clear through His Word.
  • By increasing my faith, a prayer of my heart for a long time
  • By steering me away from the instant gratification that the rock and roll churches tend to foster
  • For teaching me to have more confidence that I am His child and am able to hear His voice
  • By teaching me about His providence
  • By lovingly revealing my own sin in response to being shunned
  • By giving me a wonderful husband who has loved me without condition, even though this trial has surely tested us and our marriage
  • By restoring my relationship with my parents and siblings.  (They believed we had belonged to a cult.)
  • By giving me 3 very active children to keep me going and focused and feeling loved, even when I was so very rejected (I was very worried that they would turn from God and reject His church, but thus far, it hasn’t happened)
  • By pruning away my self-pity
  • By keeping me healthy and giving me the gift of running
  • For giving me encouragement from believers on the Internet when I had no one else to turn to that understood the dynamic of controlling churches/church leaders
  • By showing me that there is no other way but through humility
  • By freeing me from the dangerous practice of pleasing man (a life-long sin)
  • The thing I am grateful for the most is the first thing I started with: He has never left me or forsaken me (though many have).  This, to me, is mind-boggling and requires a faith that has only come from severe rejection by those I have loved and trusted.

“…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are

— hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed…

— perplexed, but not in despair

— persecuted, but not forsaken;

— struck down, but not destroyed

— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

1. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), page 20.

2. Ronald G. Havelock, The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education (Educational Technology Publishing: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973). According to Charlotte Iserbyt (note #4) “This Guide, which contains authentic case studies on how to sneak in controversial curricula and teaching strategies, or get them adopted by naive school boards, is the educator’s manual for bringing about change in our children’s values. Havelock’s Guide was funded by the U.S. Office of Education and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and has continued to receive funding well into the 1980s. It has been republished in a second edition in 1995 by the same publishers. [Ed. Note: Why is it that the change agents’ plans and their tools to “transform” our educa­tional system never change, while parents and teachers are told, repeatedly, that they must be ready and willing to change?]

3. James H. Furr, Mike Bonem and Jim Herrington, Leading Congregational Change (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000). Authored by James H. Furr, Mike Bonem, and Jim Herrington in 2000, it was published by Jossey-Bass, the main publisher for the Peter Drucker Foundation (now called Leader to Leader) and the “Christian” Leadership Network founded by Bob Buford.

4. Charlotte Iserbyt, the deliberate dumbing down of america (sic), http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/

5. Larry C. Spears (Editor), Reflections on Leadership (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995); pages 92, 301.

6. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002).

7. Book review: Making Change Happen One Person at a Time: Assessing Change Capacity Within Your Organization (Amacon, 2000), posted athttp://www.booksunderreview.com/Society/Genealogy/Surnames/Organizations/Organizations_13.html

8. Jim Van Yperen. Transcribed from taped message. Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church (CLCBC), Illinois, Sunday evening, April 14, 2002.

9. George Barna, Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1997), page 254.

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven – Part 5

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 5

Spiritual Gifts and Community Service

By Berit Kjos – July 2004

“The Church of the 21st Century is reforming itself into a multi-faceted service operation.” Bob Buford, founder of Leadership Network and founding president of the Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.[1]

“More and more social needs are being met by these private organizations rather than large government bureaucracies…. Peter Drucker has called this private sector of social services the fastest growing segment of economies around the world.”[2]

“[Rick] Warren says, ‘I read everything Peter Drucker writes…. Long before words like ’empowerment’ became popular, Peter was telling us that the secret of achieving results is to focus on your strengths, and the strengths of those you work with, rather than focusing on weaknesses.”[3] 

“[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“God has a unique role for you to play in his family,” writes Pastor Warren. “This is called your ‘ministry,’ and God has gifted you for this assignment: ‘A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.‘ [1 Co 12:7-8, NLT] Your local fellowship is the place God designed for you to discover, develop and use your gifts.”  [4, page 134] 

Yes, that’s partly true. God calls each of us to specific roles in the Church. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote,

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge…. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Yet, His work through us isn’t limited to “the local fellowship.” God will use the gifts He gives us wherever He sends us. He will equip us for any assignment He gives us — when we hear and follow Him. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” [1 Thessalonians 5:24]  While your service to Him may start at our local church, His true Church reaches around the world. Pastor Warren points that out in a later section of His book.

Today’s popular church surveys and “continual assessments” are misleading tools for discovering our spiritual gifts and place of ministry. Yet they — along with peer opinions and personal “experimentation” — are among the tools new members of Saddleback Church are encouraged to use to “discover,” record, and develop their spiritual gifts and potential for service. Though God doesn’t command us to “discover” our gifts, the man-made rules of the new church-growth hierarchy do.

So do powerful globalist leaders and management gurus. As Peter Drucker tells pastors,

“The pastor, as manager, has to identify their strengths and specialization, place them and equip them for service, and enable them to work in the harmonious and productive whole known as the body of Christ.”[5]

Peter Drucker’s vision of the global management structure can be divided into three sectors: (1) the government sector, (2) the private (business) sector, and (3) the social sector. In the last or “third sector,” the key provider of social services would be churches. That’s why his efforts in the last decades have focused on church management and the leadership training needed to train church members to serve their communities.

Bob Buford, the founding chairman of the secular Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, also founded the “Christian” Leadership Network, which helps pastors and church leaders build “successful churches” based on Drucker’s management policies and communitarian philosophy. The Drucker-Buford success story now reaches around the world, and the main trophies of his organizational talents are the mega-churches in the United States. 

So why is that a problem? When the world’s secular managers tutor church leaders in church management in order to equip the “social sector” to fulfill the government’s vision for social welfare, God’s ways and truths will be compromised. In partnerships between the governmental and social sector, the former (which sets the standards and helps fund the projects) will always rule.  Notice the blend of truth and distortion in Pastor Warren’s next statement:

“When we use our gifts together, we all benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated. This is why we’re commanded to discoverand develop our spiritual gifts. Have you ever taken the time to discover your spiritual gifts? An unopened gift is worthless.” [4, page 237] Emphasis added

In the well-defined purpose-centered atmosphere of the postmodern church, discovery and development depend more on human plans and management formulas than on faith in God and the silent work of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that’s why Pastor Warren suggests,

“Begin by assessing your gifts and abilities. Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Ask other people. Paul advised, ‘Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities.’ [Romans 12:3b, The Message]  Make a list. Ask other people for their candid opinion…. Spiritual gifts and natural abilities are always confirmed by others.” [4, page 250] 

They are? What if your spiritual gift has nothing to do with your natural talents or personal preferences? What if God gave you gifts that would show His exceeding greatness, not yours? In stark contrast to Pastor Warren’s view of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul said,

“I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Did you hear that? God uses weak but faithful believers who will demonstrate His power, not their own talents. In fact, our own talents are often the opposite of our spiritual gifts. History shows us how some of God’s most powerful messengers served in total weakness, all the more demonstrating the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.  Now as then, many of His servants come to Him as quiet, shy introverts who would fear speaking their name in a group and would shudder at the improbable thought of ever speaking in front of a group.

That’s where I was years ago: shy, avoiding groups and dreading attention. But when I surrendered my life to my Lord Jesus Christ, He filled me with His Spirit and gave me the absolute assurance that His strength was sufficient in my overwhelming weaknesses.[6] Then, as I immersed myself in His Word — trusting His promises and seeking His will — I found that every time He gave me an impossible task, and I said yes (often after agonizing struggles and sleepless nights), He provided the love needed to overcome my fears, the words needed to counsel the needy, the courage to stand in front of a microphone, and the message needed to encourage His people. It was all by the wonderful, gracious gifts of my Lord and Shepherd! His life had filled this broken earthen vessel to overflowing!

I still don’t know what my permanent spiritual gift or gifts are. Different challenges in my life have called for different gifts. None, other than perhaps service, matched my natural inclinations. That’s why I chose to study nursing. But God had a different plan. He showed me that to use His gifts, I just needed to keep my heart and mind fixed on Him, not on myself — “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Then any assignment He would give me would be matched by the spiritual gift(s) and resources needed to triumph in Him. 

Notice that Pastor Warren used a quote from The Message to validate his last point “Begin by assessing your gifts and abilities. Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at.” But the corresponding verse [Romans 12:3] in any of the standard translations has nothing to do with “assessing your gifts and abilities.” It simply reminds us “not to think” of ourselves too highly — an important warning considering today’s emphasis on self-esteem. It warns us to guard against pride and inflated egos, and it complements the two preceding verses: “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…. And do not be conformed to this world…” (Romans 12:1-2).

In other words, when we, mere humans, try to use business practices to measure and monitor what God is doing in the spiritual realm (instead of trusting and obeying Him and leaving the results in His hands), we are likely to get everything wrong. When ambitious visionaries reinvent God’s churches according to their strategic goals, humanist psychology and sophisticated data processing, they evade the Holy Spirit. Cloaking their own lofty plans and vision in Biblical words and phrases doesn’t help. Instead, it deceives open-minded people. And when today’s detailed management strategies point the way, there’s little room for God’s intervention. In other words, it’s hard to be Spirit-led if you are driven by organizational purposes.

These organizational purposes include experimentation. “In the living laboratory of Saddleback Church, we were able to experiment with different ways to help people understand, apply, and live out the purposes of God,” Pastor Warren wrote in Developing Your SHAPE to Serve Others.[7] Apparently, Saddleback’s “laboratory” experiments involved assessing “measurable results” against pre-planned outcomes (or purposes), which give little credit to what God might do outside the boundaries of the manmade standards. As Warren wrote in The Purpose-Driven Church:

“To remain effective as a church in an ever-changing world you need to continually evaluate what you do. Build review and revision into our process. Evaluate for excellence. In a purpose-driven church, your purposes are the standard by which you evaluate effectiveness.

     “Having a purpose without any practical way to review results would be like NASA planning a moon shot without a tracking system. You’ll be unable to make midcourse corrections and will probably never hit your target.” [8, 151-152]

“Just start serving, experimenting with different ministries and then you’ll discover your gifts,” said Pastor Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life. “…I urge you never to stop experimenting…. I know a woman in her nineties who runs and wins 10K races and didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was seventy-eight!”  [4, page 251]

So she discovered that she enjoys running races. But what does a new hobby or physical exercise have to do with discovering spiritual gifts? Pastor Warren’s next statement doesn’t help answer that question:

“Paul advised, ‘Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.'” [Gal 6:4b, The Message] Again, it helps to get feedback from those who know you best. [Perhaps a reference to the small group each church member must attend.]

    “Ask yourself questions: What do I really enjoy doing most? When do I feel the most fully alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted?  Am I more of a thinker or a feeler? Which do I enjoy more–competing or cooperating?

    “Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you have learned. Review your life and think about how it has shaped you. Moses told the Israelites, ‘Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.” [Deut 11:2 TEV] [4, page 251-252]

When you compare Pastor Warren’s Bible references with standard Bible versions (we included the NIV even though it, too, presents some dubious interpretations), you see how they change the essential message.[9] The first of the two verses quoted by Pastor Warren, Galatians 6:3-4 may seem a bit confusing, but the word “prove” or “examine” is used repeatedly in the New Testament with reference to examining your heart and walk with God — and has nothing to do with discovering your spiritual gifts.

For example, 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” It’s a warning to those who think they are Christian but were never really “born of the Spirit.” But such translations are unacceptable to postmodern church leaders who view all unbelievers as potential church members or “pre-Christians” just waiting to be caught up in the Church Growth Movement (CGM) by their marketing strategies.

According to the old Hebrew manuscripts, Deuteronomy 11:2 (the second Scripture in the quote above) emphasized the significance of actual eyewitness reports of facts: what the people knew to be true because they (unlike their children) were eyewitnesses to what God had done. In contrast to learning “about the Lord through your experiences,” their understanding was based on the objective fact of what they had actually seen with their own eyes, not on second-hand information or subjective, feeling-based experience. This emphasis continues in the New Testament. So to validate the gospel he recorded, Luke pointed to “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word….” Luke 1:2

KJV: “And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm.” Deut 11:1-2

NKJV: “Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm.” Deut 11:1-2

NIV: “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm;” Deut 11:2

TEV: Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.” [4, page 151-152]  

Led by Moses, God’s people had seen the amazing miracles of the sovereign God of heaven and earth. They had faced His disciplines and knew the consequences of putting “common sense” or human intuition above the commands of their Lord. “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart,” wrote a grieving prophet centuries later (Jeremiah 11:8).

Trusting their own inclinations, the people turned a deaf ear to God’s directions until their foolish choices and self-focused ways had blinded them to His goodness and devastated their land. “As I live,” God warned them, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.” Ezekiel 20:33

The church’s place in the 21st Century community

Why would God’s churches implement the world’s management system? To grow and be successful? To make an impact on the community? To gain more control? To win fame in the Christian community? To find acceptance in the world?

These may all be true, but you see a more obscure reason when you look at the larger picture. Behind all the lofty promises and seductive promotion hides a purpose that has little to do with truth and God. It has everything to do with the structure of global governance for the 21st century.  And, as you saw in earlier parts, it’s grounded in the pragmatic policies of Peter Drucker (“the world’s pre-eminent management thinker”) and his vision for a “healthy community.” In his mind, the “pastoral mega-churches are surely the most important social phenomenon in American society in the past thirty years.”[10] 

Bob Buford echoed that belief in a book titled, The Community of the Future. In his chapter of the book, “How Boomers, Churches and Entrepreneurs Can Transform Society,” he wrote:

“Religious organizations are already far and away the most dominant part of the social sector…. Therefore, in terms of both money and volunteers, churches are already in a position to play a leading role in the years ahead. But because of its innovative organization, which affords it the size and scale to do things that have real community impact, the Next Church holds perhaps the greatest promise of converting good intentions into real results.”[11]

The “real results” are not simply success in caring for the needs of the community. The goal is to create a new kind of humanity — the global citizen, the group thinker and willing worker needed for the global village. Bob Buford goes on to say:

“The social entrepreneur transforms a process in the social sector, also with a view toward extracting a higher yield. Here however, the ‘product ‘ is neither a good nor a service (as in business) nor a regulation (as in government), but a changed human being. In June 1996, I hosted a gathering of people who fit this profile. They were all people who had excelled in their careers as entrepreneurs, having started or built successful, innovative businesses. Now they were innovating in the social sector….

Whatever the issue, the attraction for them was not the need per se, but the prospect of getting results, of actually bringing about a change in human lives and circumstances. This is a distinguishing feature of social entrepreneurs, they do not engage in charity, but in transformation. They ask, ‘Are people actually different as a result of my efforts?’

This result orientation is a new paradigm for social sector work. Traditional philanthropy, including the welfare state, has tended to apply resources to problems without much accountability for near-term, measurable results. Indeed, many in the nonprofit world balk at the very idea of measuring results and performance….

Who are the models of innovative social entrepreneurs? They include Millard and Linda Fuller of Habitat for Humanity…. Eugene Lang of the I Have a Dream Foundation (a secular organization partnering with globalist education leaders such as iEARN), and Kenneth Cooper of the Aerobics Center in Dallas…..

The questions, according to Peter Drucker, are What are we doing to encourage them? and What are we doing to make them effective? … What we need is a changed society, a revitalized community, and nothing less than a civilized city.”[11]

Neither the coveted “transformation,” nor the “measurable results,” nor “new paradigm for social sector work” have anything to do with Jesus Christ, our Lord, nor with the cross that makes us one with Him. If people call themselves Christian, as in the mega-churches, that’s fine as long as their faith doesn’t hinder the social transformation. In other words, if Christianity can be molded to fit the new view of Christianity as “helpful energy,” it can be useful. But the Holy Spirit cannot be permitted to interfere with the measurable social goals of tolerance, unity, and participation in the dialectic process.

Bob Buford left the secular Drucker Foundation to found the “Christian” Leadership Network, which helped pastors and church leaders build “successful churches” based on Drucker’s management policies and communitarian philosophy. Buford’s success story now reaches around the world, and the main trophies of his organizational talents are the mega-churches in the United States.

Do you wonder why Ducker’s disciple would focus his time and talents on the development of “large churches”? Like his famed tutor, he sees the church as an essential provider for “leadership training and “service learning” in the “social sector” of the envisioned community. He knows that “the government sector” will be incapable of providing all the services needed for the envisioned global welfare system. Nor can the “private sector” (business) accomplish the job. The burden must be shifted from a government sector to the social sector, and the strongest and most organized institution within the social sector is the large, multi-faceted church. No other institution has the human, financial and motivational resources to train leaders and servers that can accomplish the job. To accomplish the task — leadership training, service-learning and actual community service — the large “pastoral churches” around the world must be brought into faith-based partnerships” with the governmental and business sectors.

In The 21st Century Church, Dr. Robert Klenck summarized this new network of systems with a quote from the Leadership Network’s Compass Magazine. Its May, 1995, article titled  “After Church Growth, What?” stated:

“The next movement will grow partnerships, not properties.  Partnerships, alliances and collaboration will become the norm, rather than the exception, and the relationships will be built on new loyalties and a new common mission. … The next movement will grow people, not parking lots. … These same people are in the congregations of the 21st century and they are going to be the ‘point people’ for the partnerships and alliances that will achieve the vision beyond the property line.”

“The Church of the 21st Century is reforming itself into a multi-faceted service operation.”[1] Bob Buford

As Dr. Klenck points out, these large service-oriented churches “’sanitize’ their surroundings of religious symbols ostensibly to keep from offending unbelievers… but that this ‘sanitization’ also ‘happens’ to bring them into compliance with partnership agreements with the government.  There are approximately 100,000 schools entering into these partnerships with religious groups.”[12]

In The Pied Pipers of Purpose, Lynn and Sarah Leslie together with Susan Conway bring a warning we need to remember:

“Many advocates of government-funded faith-based charities believe that the end justifies the means, and will point to the ‘results’ as evidence of a good work being done. These good-intentioned people probably don’t realize that their activities further the political goals of communitarian societal transformation. These folks may not understand the long-term negative repercussions of cooperating with this new system of governance. In a communitarian worldview any truly private entity (family, charity, church and small Christian school) poses a direct challenge to the ‘common good.’ In the future, the luxury of granting special “rights” to a group of people who profess and practice biblical separation will no longer be tolerated by communitarians. Separatist practices and beliefs do not align with the ‘common good.’”[13]

Since God calls us to serve the poor, the imprisoned, the broken and the lame, community service makes sense. But genuine Christian service also involves the freedom to share the whole gospel, not a message watered down by politically correct guidelines and dialectic consensus. Any partnership with the government sector or the business sector will involve accountability to politically correct standards and guidelines that should be unacceptable to those who love God’s Word and cannot condone politically correct limitations on their freedom to share the gospel as the Spirit leads. No matter how great a person’s “felt needs,” the greatest needs are spiritual. And only Jesus Christ — through His Word and Spirit — can meet those needs. That’s true both for the server and those who are served.

“Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ,” wrote Oswald Chambers. “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him…. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?”[14]  If so, we have lost our first love….

In the new global management system, service is considered successful if it is based on measurable standards that are met. But how do you measure the secret work of God’s Spirit in the hearts of the needy? Only God can measure the success of His work in a man, for –

no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God…. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-14)

“The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service,” warned Oswald Chambers, “to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you… Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal….”[14] 


It’s true. “…the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.   For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God….” Rom 14:17-18 How would you measure “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”? How would you measure Mary’s service to God in Luke 10:38-41? She was commended for sitting at the feet of Jesus, while Martha prepared their food. You might be able to measure the results of the meal, but how do you measure Mary’s love for Jesus? No man can. Nor does God approve of man’s measures for comparing human performance. Remember how God disciplined his people because David measured the size of his army! [1 Chronicles 21:3-22]


God sets the standard for our work in Him. He provides the resources, and He will give the rewards. He is our beacon, our strength, or guide and our beloved! Him we must obey and Him we will serve. 

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” Eph 6:5-7



1.Leadership Network, NEXT, December 1997. http://www.leadnet.org/allthingsln/archives/NEXT/dec97.pdf

2. Master’s Degree in International Service at http://www.ipsl.org/programs/maprogram.html

3. “Community Connections

4. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002). 

5. The Business of the Kingdom,” Christianity Today, Volume 43, No. 13, November 15, 1999.

6. We are not to be “driven” by anything. Instead, we need to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross….” (Hebrews 12:1-2) “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

7. Brett and Dee Eastman, Todd and Denise Wendorff, Karen Lee-Thorp, Developing Your SHAPE to Serve Others, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002). page

8. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995).

9. See Part 1 of this series at Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven?

10. http://www.wesleymission.org.au/ministry/sermons/21church.asp 

11. “How Boomers, Churches and Entrepreneurs Can Transform Society,” The Community of the Future, page 44, 44-46.

12.  The 21st Century Church

13.  Lynn and Sarah Leslie, Susan Conway, “The Pied Pipers of Purpose” at http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/pied_pipers_of_purpose.htm

14. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers1935, 1993), January 18 and August 30.

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 6

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 6

Social Change and Communitarian Systems

by Berit Kjos

This is an important, but unfinished introduction to a very revealing set of links:

Today’s Biblical illiteracy, which is well documented by George Barna, has left churches vulnerable to countless marketing ploys and psycho-social strategies that lure God’s people away from His narrow ways. Cloaked in theological terms and Biblical promises, the new highways become all the more alluring.

Keep in mind, there is far more to the current paradigm shift than meets the eye. For example, behind Saddleback’s mostly clean Christian image hides a plan for global transformation and social restructuring that is hard to imagine. The sophisticated church assessments and data technology that help Christians “discover their spiritual gifts” and prepare for ministry fit right into the communitarian visions of trained leaders and facilitators inside and outside the church.

The new “systems” view of the world focuses on a three-member partnership between the private (corporate) sector, the governmental sector and what’s now called the third or “social sector” (which includes churches).  Each would be made up of managed “systems” — all interconnected through networks, standards and leadership training.  The basic blueprint for these vast networks was prepared by Peter Drucker, the communitarian mastermind behind the “systems theory” of how to manage everything.

Drucker called Rick Warren ‘the inventor of perpetual revival,’[44] and Saddleback Community Church is a starring example of the success of his pragmatic theories.  The following links and quotes expose some of the connections and philosophies that drive the Church Growth Movement:

1. The Drucker Foundation: “The Drucker Foundation worked to realize a vision of the social sector as an equal partner of business and government based on the belief that a healthy society requires three vital and effective sectors working together to change lives. The Leader to Leader Institute will build on the Drucker Foundation legacy by pursuing its mission in three primary goal areas:developing social sector leaders of character and competence; forging cross-sector partnerships that deliver social sector results; and providing leadership resources that engage and inform social sector leaders.”

2The Leader to Leader Institute Vision 2010: “The Leader to Leader Institute will chart the future path for the social sector to become the equal partner of business and government in developing responsible leaders, caring citizens, and a healthy, inclusive society[This is where the small groups and dialectic process enters in]

     “The Foundation will bring the best leadership and management voices from across the world to people of the world with a focus on providing social sector organizations with the ideas and tools that enable them to better serve their customers and communities.

     “The Leader to Leader Institute [the former Drucker Foundation] will realize this vision by… spotlighting social sector innovations and teaching the generic lessons of leadership and management to all three sectors…. Packaging knowledge and experience into tools for social sector leaders in critical areas such as: fund development, marketingvolunteer management[This is where the surveys and assessments of spiritual gifts and talents fits in] collaborationself-assessment, innovation, and measuring results….”


3. Emerging Partnerships: New Ways in a New World: “A Symposium organized by The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, sponsored by The Rockefeller Brothers Fund [December 1996]….

    “The Drucker Foundation believes that a healthy society requires three vital sectors: a public sector of effective governments; a private sector of effective businesses; and a social sector of effective community organizations [the focus is on large churches]. The mission of the social sector and its organizations is to change lives. It accomplishes this mission by addressing the needs of the spirit, the mind and the body–of individual, the community, and society….

     “As government cuts back social spending, many people expect the social sector to absorb much of the anticipated need for services….

     “The one million nonprofit organizations… that comprise the social sector have only one common characteristic–their tax exempt status. It is their diversity–in mission, philosophy, and community–that uniquely qualifies them to deliver effective services to the community. … We are now talking about a true partnership to build community and produce people who are needed by healthy businesses and a healthy society.”


The large community oriented and purpose-driven churches fit right into the new communitarian model for organizing institutions and monitoring people. That’s why the Rockefellers are involved. 


The Lilly Endowment “a private foundation…that supports community development, education and religion,” has also helped fund the Drucker Foundation. But more recently, it has shown its support for Baptist leadership and pastoral training. Strangely enough, the two — Druckers communitarian vision for the “social sector” and seminary training in community-building — fit together. The article, “Golden Gate Seminary Receives $300,000 Lilly Endowment Grant tells us that the funds would provide “hardware, software, renovations and training needed to fully integrate up-to-date technology” with the seminary’s training program.



This grant makes all the more sense in light of a new partnership between Golden Gate Seminary and Saddleback Church. The Baptist seminary will build a new branch on the Saddleback campus to train church leaders to use the digital data tracking technology needed to meet and monitor community needs around the world. 

The next link sheds additional light on Golden Gate Seminary’s postmodern orientation:

4. Church Growth Scholar Advocates Radical Change in New Millennium: (By Cameron Crabtree) “The evangelical church in North America must undergo radical change with new kinds of leadership in order to fulfill its redemptive mission in the postmodern context of the next century, a church growth scholar told conference participants at Golden Gate Baptist TheologicalSeminary.

“‘This ongoing process of dying in order to live should not unnerve us if we are reading the scriptures right, for crucifixion followed by resurrection is at the very essence of the ministry of Christ,’ said Eddie Gibbs, professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary.

     “Speaking during the annual meeting of the American Society for Church Growth at Golden Gate Seminary’s Mill Valley, Calif., campus, Nov. 12-14, Gibbs warned churches must embrace transitions or ‘forfeit the possibility of exercising a transformational ministry within changing cultures.’

     “In the shift from a modern era emphasizing rationality and unified progress to a postmodern era characterized by pluralism, ambiguity and relativism the church is facing a context in which former concepts of self-identity and purpose are being challenged.

“‘The church itself will need to go through a metamorphosis in order to find its new identity in the dialectic of gospel and culture,’ he said. ‘This new situation is requiring churches to approach their context as a missional encounter.’

“He said the cultural changes with which church leaders must grapple are: -Global. “There is nowhere to run to.” -Rapid. “There is no time to reflect.” -Complex. “There is too much information to absorb.” -Comprehensive. “They affect every area of life.”


Did you notice how the second paragraph puts the crucifixion into a new context? The current “metamorphosis” of the church has nothing to do with the crucifixion! Instead, it adapts the heart of the gospel to a human agenda, putting God’s unchanging Word into a postmodern context. As Pastor Warren does throughout The Purpose-Driven Life, it contextualizesBiblical truth, using it to validate its message rather than to preach the Word.


To “embrace transitions” churches must embrace Georg Hegel’s dialectic strategies. This process, embraced by Marx, Lenin and Stalin, uses the tension between opposites (thesis andantithesis) to create synthesis and prepare people for change. This dialectic process involves continual social change following a pre-planned purpose. 

Look at some of the history behind the psychological strategies that prepare church leaders to build churches that complement the envisioned 21st century community:


The History of Faith at Work: “But a change was on the way. In the first place, the new leadership was open to change. … Smaller groups allowed greater openness and emotional intimacy. In that environment new procedures developed.

     These procedures were partly the outgrowth of the Human Potential movement and related behavioral principles and processes. Transactional Analysis with its emphasis on personal O.K.ness, the National Training Laboratories with their interest in honest and open encounter, Parent Effectiveness Training which argued for seeing the child as a person, Esalin, Gestalt and a host of other workshops, laboratories, strategies and training centers — all put the total human being at the center and pleaded for a greater awareness of personal growth and identity. …

      “Under the leadership of Faith at Work, and with some funding assistance from the Lilly Endowment, a series of clergy conferences was held in the spring of 1970 in six American centers: Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York…. The result was the Leadership Training (Development) Program which was launched with another grantfrom the Lilly Endowment in the fall of 1970….


      “The objectives of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-delight, of group building, and of discerning gifts governed the institute program. Here as elsewhere there was an effort to fuse Biblical faith with insights from the behavioral sciences.” Rom 12:2


Bob Buford, the founding chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management (now titled “Leader to Leader Institute), made his management strategies available to Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback years ago. Among the sermons offered for sale at Pastor Warren’s website, www.pastors.com, is a 1997 sermon credited jointly to Rick Warren and Bob Buford titled, “Leaving a Legacy.”

Buford left his top role at the Drucker Foundation to found Leadership Network, which seems to serve as a virtual arm of the Drucker Foundation offering management theories, training and technology to large churches around the world. Through its global network of large churches, Buford has been bringing Drucker’s management structures to pastors and church leaders around the world. His website, leadnet.org, tells us more:

5. To Everything There Is a Season: “Leadership Network moved to Dallas and has grown to be a primary resource to which 21st century congregations and church leaders turn for information, innovation, and networking. Under Brad’s leadership, our services expanded to include networking the next generation of church leaders through the Young Leaders Network and theTerra Nova project. We launched the Leadership Training Network that has focused on equipping and releasing the laity in ministry and service. Our large church forums have grown to include urban as well as suburban churches and a new network is focusing on missional church leaders who are pioneers in community transformation.”


Did you notice the word “missional” again? It was used in the earlier statement by Eddie Gibbs, professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary who spoke at the Golden Gate Seminary. Let me repeat his explanation: “‘The church itself will need to go through a metamorphosis in order to find its new identity in the dialectic of gospel and culture….’This new situation is requiring churches to approach their context as a missional encounter.'” In other words, the dialectic process (facilitated small groups) must synthesize (blend) the two opposites: “gospel and culture.”


That’s wrong! Jesus Christ, our Lord, made a clear distinction between the two. He tells us to be “in the world” but not “of the world.” God’s holy gospel and the world’s corrupt culture are incompatible. They cannot be synthesized! [2 Cor 6:12-18] God’s people must not conform to the unholy world. Yet the dialectic process is driving both Saddleback and other compromising churches further from the truth and closer to the world. [Romans 12:2]


In the past few years, the postmodern vision of the “missional Church” has spread underground like a cancer. One of its “missionary centers” is Regent College in Vancouver Canada, former “home” of  Professor Eugene Peterson, author of The Message:

6. Congregational Resource Guide [Regent College, Vancouver]: “With the current decline of mainline churches in our pluralistic culture, the ‘professional’ pastor has become ineffective and must give way to the ‘missional’ pastorEffective Church Leadership defines and lists the major resources of a missional pastor-leader. The reader will find practical help with the four central tasks of a missional leader: helping people rediscover power in the whole of their lives; helping people become communities of reconciliation; helping people discover meaning in everyday life; and helping people discover how they can make a difference. The missional pastor helps church members discover who they are now on the mission field, their specific mission tasks [that’s why they must “discover” and “develop” their “spiritual gifts”], and the central convictions about ordinary life in light of the gospel. The author gives practical insight into how pastors and key leaders can transform themselves and their communities of faith into vibrant and true mission outposts. A plan for pastoral evaluation and an evaluation worksheet are included.”

The next two links show the same collective “transformation” — based on the same psycho-social strategies — in a secular context. Both articles are written by Rick Smyre, President ofCommunities of the Future. Both indicate the need to motivate the masses to accept the planned transformation. The standard process for motivating people is embrace this collective change is to exaggerate the gap between the current crisis and a lofty vision of an ideal future. In the Purpose Driven Paradigm it would be the gap between a current inadequacy and the noble purpose or vision of future perfection. The worse the present condition — and the higher the envisioned goal — the greater the gap and the more powerful the motivation to change.

7. Building Capacities For Community Transformation: “All local communities are faced with the need to prepare themselves for a constantly changinginterconnected and increasingly complex society. This article emphasizes the needs to develop webs of learners throughout any community who have the capacity to understand the impact of trends of the future and who work in parallel to community strategic planning….

“Without developing new capacities for transformation, communities will continue to try to improve existing ways. It is important to be aware that incremental change and the old ways of doing things no longer work….

“Until an individual sees the need for change, no true change can occur because of the struggle and commitment that is necessary. In addition, until a community environment allows people to be open to new ideas, there is no safe haven for thinking differently. Finally, until local communities begin to see value in talking about ideas, there will be resistanceto real change. …

“No longer fixed and rigid with standardized rules, a pattern of dynamic and constantly changing connections require a change in our human consciousness….

Transformational change reflects a change in the very essence of the institution, concept, method or technique….

“Focus on building a core group of community leaders who have a passion for learning. The potential for all communities of the future is to evolve an overall framework of innovation by developing small networks of learners.”


8. Rewiring a Community’s Brain for the 21st Century: Aligning the Cosmic Dance: “The Principles of Transformational Learning. …Leadership in general will move from top-down direction, prediction, and control of outcomes, to the natural idea of facilitating and motivating diverse people in methods of adapting to changing circumstances….The idea of ashifting context of information will become the new environment of learning. All people will need to become adept at adaptation…. A futures context requires that the idea of a ‘mindset’ be discarded and replaced with the concept of ‘mindflex.’ All learners will need to become comfortable with rethinking, reorganizing, and redesigning….

“Those who are able to understand the changes in context brought about by the transformation of change will be capable of vitality in a dynamic society….

     “Be open to new ideas of any kind. Filter those that do not resonate with an understanding of a new reality. One of the greatest obstacles to learning within a constantly changing society is the need for certainty. The idea of certainty of outcomes will be replaced with the idea of continuity of principles. [Naturally, Biblical absolutes will seem obsolete. They won’t “resonate” with the new understanding of reality.] Certainty of values will be the glue that holds communities together. It will be important for all education and learning to search for, emphasize, and bring to consensus a family of values [such as tolerance, unity, inclusiveness]….

      “Establish experiments and receive feedback…. Focus on collaboration among diverse people and ideas and allow them to combine in different ways… ….Develop a new system of evaluation to judge the systemic integration of core competencies, the ability to ask appropriate questions, and the ability to connect disparate ideas in continuous innovation. …Build webs of learners throughout an organization and community. Understand that the subpatterns of change will demand a new concept of individual learner…. The ideas of ‘learning webs’ will be added to Peter Senge’s popularization of the idea of ‘learning communities.’”


Let’s go back to Bob Buford, founder of the Leadership Network. Buford gave Peter Drucker an amazing compliment in the dedication of his book, Half Time. He called Drucker “the man who formed my mind.” Honoring his mentor, Buford helped fund a 2002 documentary on Peter Drucker’s long life. It was aired on CNBC in 2002.

In 1998, Buford wrote chapter 7 (“How Boomers, Churches, and Entrepreneurs Can Transform Society”) in a “Drucker Foundation” book titled The Community of the Future [http://www.jossseybass.com]. In it, Mr. Buford wrote:

“There are three major sectors in American society: the government, which ensures compliance with laws and allocates resources; the business sector, which proves jobs and fosters economic development; and the social sector, which addresses social and existential needs (“existential” meaning the making of personal choices in the context of a free society). All three sectors must do their part if we wish to create… healthy, socially functioning communities in the twenty-first century. …

“For if we cannot learn to live with each other in vibrant, fully functioning communities, then we will soon have everywhere what we already have to a large extent in the inner city, which is anarchy. And anarchy quickly and inevitably gives rise to tyranny, whether on the right or the left.” (page 35)

The Community of the Future, introduces Bob Buford as “founder of Leadership Network, a nonprofit organization that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship among leaders of large churches and parachurch organizations….  He has held leadership roles with the Young Presidents’ Organization and the World  Presidents’ Organization and has been amoderator of executive seminars at the Aspen Institute.”

The Aspen Institute gained a moment of public fame shortly before sweet little Elian Gonzales was sent back to Cuba some years ago. Because the little boy’s mind had been corrupted with American thinking, the six-year-old had to go through a mind-changing re-entry process at the Aspen Institute. His little friends were transported to the temporary “school” so that the small facilitated group and the dialectic process could wash his young mind of individual thinking and retrain him in collective ways.

Founded in Aspen, Colorado, but linked to the British-based Tavistock Institute for Human RelationsThe Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (AIHS) calls itself “a global forum” which “seeks to improve the condition of human well-being by fostering enlightened, responsible leadership and by convening leaders and policy-makers to address the structural changes of the new century.” This training center for a global army of psycho-social change agents works through offices in Germany, Japan, Italy and France as well as the United States. Its manipulative and transformative conferences are usually held in Aspen or at the beautiful Wye plantation in Maryland .

The AIHS website summarizes its mission and policies in nice-sounding words that few would challenge. For those who look deeper, they reflect the socialist vision of the master-minds behind the world’s sophisticated mass psychology and manipulative consensus process — well indoctrinated men and women determined to crush all hindrances to their quest for a new world order: not quite capitalism, not quite socialism, but Communitarianism or the Third Way. Ponder this statement on its program page

“The Leading Change seminar is both intellectually challenging and immediately practical. For example, research indicates that as many as 80% of all change initiatives fail. A major factor contributing to the high failure rate of change initiatives is a natural, deep-seated resistance to change within an organization. Throughout this seminar, senior executives consider the nature and sources of resistance to change and how to overcome them. They explore ways of making the organizational environment receptive to ongoing change and ensuring that beneficial changes become embedded in culture and practice.”

In 1976, the AIHS published A New Civic Literacy. It offers a glimpse of the philosophy taught and touted at its global conferences — one that shows alarming sympathies with the manipulative education strategies used by Fidel Castro’s team of Communist trainers. The author, Ward Morehouse, writes, 

“Experimental activities should be undertaken  to see to what degree formal learning experiences can shape the world views of Americans so as to make those views more compatible with (or at least less resistant to) adjustments in behavior and attitudes necessary to cope more effectively with problems of interdependence….  

“The kind of educational transformation for which we have argued in these pages will not come easily. Changing complex social institutions in any fundamental way requires unlimited quantities  of sweat and almost certainly some tears, if not blood.”[2]

In light of the above agenda, it’s not surprising that the Aspen Institute is funded by globalist foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (once headed by Alger Hiss) and the Ford Foundation.