by Phil Gray
“Training Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s Churches” is the motto for New Church Specialties, a Christian consulting organization that largely reaches Nazarenes. But New Church Specialties and the affiliated New Church University (where pastors and leaders are mentored and trained) are a conduit for the new spirituality, and their G12 Master’s Plan could potentially expose thousands of Nazarenes to contemplative spirituality and the emerging church.
While New Church Specialties does mentor and train leaders from various denominations, a 2008 Annual Ministry Report reveals that 62% of NCS’s 2008 income came from Nazarene churches with Salvation Army, Wesleyan, and other denominations covering the rest. The report says that NCS’s vision is “changing the way churches communicate,” and its mission is to “assist the starting and strengthening of churches worldwide.” But evidence shows that this changing and strengthening of churches is going to be done using, at least in part, contemplative/emerging authors.
New Church Specialties is offering to their followers books by New Age sympathizers Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren, and Ken Blanchard for instruction and guidance. 1 Leonard Sweet, author of Quantum Spirituality, has worked on a number of occasions with Rick Warren to bring about what he refers to as a “new spirituality.” 2 A well-documented expose on Sweet’s beliefs can be found in Warren Smith’s new book, A “Wonderful” Deception. Smith shows that Sweet has been influenced by major New Age proponents such as Matthew Fox, David Spangler, and a number of others. One of the most, if not the most, outstanding figures for New Age spirituality, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is said by Sweet to be “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice” (see p. 118, AWD). Such a misconception – de Chardin is perhaps the New Age’s “major voice” but certainly not true Christianity’s.
Ken Blanchard, also used by NCS, has been promoting and endorsing and writing forewords for New Age meditation authors for many years. From Deepak Chopra (7 Spiritual Laws of Success) to Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic) to Anthony Robbins (Unlimited Power) to Jim Ballard (Mind Like Water), and others, Blanchard has been consistent in showing his affinity with New Age meditation teachers. All of these books just mentioned teach and/or promote eastern-style mysticism. In a book titled, What Would Buddha Do At Work?, Blanchard states in the foreword: “Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I … invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work.” In 2007, Blanchard wrote the foreword to Jim Ballard’s book, Little Wave and Old Swell, a book in which the front cover says it is inspired by Paramahansa Yogananda, a Hindu guru (the book is kind of A Course in Miracles for children – god in all).3
The book New Church Specialties is using by Leonard Sweet, The Church in Emerging Culture, is a compilation of five authors including emerging church/futurist/mystic proponent Erwin McManus and atonement denier/emergent leader Brian McLaren. McManus has an interesting way of viewing Christianity. He states: “My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ” and “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right” (see link above for sources). He admits that his popular book, The Barbarian Way (a book that David Jeremiah advocates) has a core of mysticism in its foundation.4
A 2008 Lighthouse Trails article, “Is General Baptist Ministries Going Toward Contemplative?,” discusses New Church Specialties and its founder Larry McKain. Sadly, that article points out that Church of the Nazarene General Superintendent Dr. Jim Diehl endorses the work at NCS. Lighthouse Trails explains that when Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing first was released in 2002, Jim Diehl read that book and contacted Lighthouse Trails by phone to say he wholeheartedly agreed with its message. Other endorsements of NCS include an array of denominational leaders. 5
How is New Church Specialties going to be able to impact thousands of Nazarenes and other Christians? New Church Specialties has implemented a program that can potentially serve as a catalyst to bring the spirituality of Sweet, McLaren and Blanchard to countless unsuspecting Christians. This program is best known as G12 (Government of 12). NCS refers to this as “The Master’s Plan.” In short, this is a church-growth technique adapted partly from Korean pastor David Cho and Colombian pastor Cesar Castellanos, which promises substantial church growth. The Master’s Plan proposes that true church growth can only come about through a CELL structure where a leader will vigorously train 12 people, who will train 12 people, who will train 12 people. While numbers often grow with this structure, there are disturbing testimonies of abuse and discipline if one does not follow implicitly the CELL leader over him or her. An overview of NCS’s Master Plan (written by a Nazarene pastor in Anaheim, California) lays out The Master’s Plan in more depth, acknowledging that a “disciple” will need to meet with his 11 brothers and sisters up to three times a week and remain committed to them for “life.” The Encounter Weekend Retreats provide further training to disciples, including the very problematic (occult in origin from Agnes Sanford) “inner healing.”
In view of how extremely pervasive mystical contemplative spirituality is throughout most of Christianity today (and in view of NCS’s promotion of contemplative advocates), this G12 structure could literally cause contemplative to explode in thousands of lives very rapidly.
As with most false teachings, there is an element of hiding the truth regarding NCS’s G12 implementation. In the overview, it states: “Avoid the use of the phrase ‘G12’ in your public discussions. Call it The Master’s Plan or The Discipleship Model or some other generic name. For some reason, some people get worked up over the phrase ‘G12.'” The Master’s Plan hopes to eradicate traditional programs like Sunday School from existence: “Existing ministries will either move over to The Master’s Plan or they will wither in time and die of their own natural causes” (p. 29).
New Church Specialties’ coupling of contemplative/emerging authors with the G12 Master’s Plan could have major affects on so many and could bring to fruition Leonard Sweet’s comments about the christ consciousness: “The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people ‘in-phase’ with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another” (p. 147, Quantum Spirituality), but this is not the Christ of the Bible, but as Paul warned is a “another gospel” and “another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4). Nazarenes should take note not to implement New Church Specialties into their own local churches but rather to cling to the truth of God’s Word, which rejects the panentheistic, interspiritual nature of contemplative spirituality.
For those who don’t quite understand or who may even be skeptical, consider the following: New Age author Marilyn Ferguson, who wrote the classic book The Aquarian Conspiracy, said that 31% of all people who are involved in New Age spirituality entered it through the catalyst of Christian mysticism (i.e., contemplative). This is not surprising when you hear what mystic Richard Kirby said: “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics” (see A Time of Departing). Anyone who realizes the truth of this has to be motivated to take a stand on one side or another. Neutrality in this case is not an option.