Posts Tagged ‘Willow Creek’



Peter Drucker

By Roger Oakland Understand the Times International The seeker-friendly model was the brainchild of Peter Drucker. The concept of finding out what a consumer would like in a church has been a very successful way to get people to come to a church. At least for a while! This consumer-friendly model worked as long as sinners were not faced with the message of the cross, hell, and other convicting things the Bible teaches.

However, as everyone knows, trends come and go like waves on the ocean. The seeker-friendly wave will not last forever. This, of course, is predictable. Fallen man has had a spiritual void since the fall of man. Satan is more than happy to fill that void and has always had a deceptive plan to do so. This is why I was not surprised when Pastor Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek church-growth model, announced that their church had repented from their seeker-friendly ways and was now moving towards a method that would transform Christianity by introducing spirituality. Here’s how one Christian reporter explained the transition:

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You? co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong. [1] Click here to continue reading.


Lynne Hybels’ “God”

By Jim Fletcher
Prophecy Matters

Lynne Hybels is a woman of vast influence in the evangelical world. She and her husband, Bill, founded Willow Creek Community Church in 1975; today the Willow Creek Association (9,000 member churches worldwide) is one of the most influential groups in Christendom. Willow Creek’s annual “Leadership Summit” often hosts speakers well outside of evangelicalism’s mainstream. Even a cursory examination of the Hybels’ worldview reveals a strong lean toward so-called “Progressive Christianity” (example: hosting speakers like Bill Clinton and Tony Campolo).

In the past few years, Lynne Hybels has become an activist for all sorts of causes, including the crisis in Congo, Christian persecution in the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . .

Since the ‘70s, Lynne Hybels and her husband have been mentored by people sympathetic to the Palestinian Narrative, including Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. In October 2008 she attended a conference in Amman, Jordan, led by Arab Christians from “Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and the West Bank.”

Since that time, Lynne Hybels has been very active in promoting the so-called “Palestinian Narrative,” which points to Israel as an occupier of Arabs. The narrative is classic PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) propaganda, but Hybels’ networks allow her the luxury of promoting this worldview—couched in the language of “non-violent resistance”—which is also shared by Millennial influencers such as Donald Miller and Cameron Strang.

(Both Miller and Strang have accused Israel, in print, of virtual war-crimes, including the harvesting of organs from Palestinians, and outright murder of Palestinian women and children by the IDF. To date, Miller in particular offers no documentation for his allegations.)  Click here to continue reading.


LTRP Note: For a number of years, Lighthouse Trails has identified Andy Stanley as part of the emerging church and has considered him to be a bridger (bridging the gap between the emerging church and evangelical Christianity). This excellent book review by Gary Gilley shows an example of the (sometimes subtle) deception that occurs in many of the books being written today by prolific and popular Christian figures.

By Gary Gilley
Pastor and apologist

Endorsed by everyone from Rick Warren and Bill Hybels to Dave Ramsey, Steven Furtick and Jeff Foxworthy, Deep and Wide reveals Andy Stanley’s “secret sauce” (p. 17) which he believes makes his church not only great but a model others should adopt. Stanley’s goal has been to create a church that unchurched men, women and children love to attend (p. 11) and by all accounts he has succeeded. The first of five sections tells the story of the birth of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, first as an extension of his father’s (Charles) church, then as a split, in which several thousand people eventually left the mother church to join Andy’s. Andy knows this is not the best way to start a church, but is honest and transparent enough to admit that this is what happened. Conflicts with his famous father were inevitable and Andy chronicles those as well.

Deep and Wide promotes the seeker-sensitive, market-driven approach of “doing church.” There is virtually nothing in the book that hasn’t been said or done by his “hero” Bill Hybels and others that teach the paradigm. From basing North Point’s programming on surveys and secular management (p. 14), to seeing people as consumers (p. 16) and a target audience that must be attracted and pleased (p. 15), to erroneously believing that the unbeliever should like us because they liked Jesus (pp. 12-13), to virtually every aspect of what they do, Stanley is parroting the philosophy of Hybels. Ironically this model is the same one that Hybels and Willow Creek recently admitted did not accomplish their goal of making followers of Christ (see my book This Little Church Had None, pp. 23-35).

Of course, the real issue is not whether something works, but if it is biblical. Therefore, in section two, Stanley attempts a scriptural justification for his church model. This is easily the most disappointing aspect of the book as Stanley, who has a master’s degree from Dallas Seminary, makes no attempt to engage the key Scriptures dealing with the doctrine of the church. His only venture into biblical exegesis is a feeble, terribly flawed and out of context examination of the counsel at Jerusalem in Acts 15 (pp. 85-91). Stanley comes up with a strained interpretation of the text because he uses what some call rhetorical hermeneutics in which Scripture should be interpreted based upon the characters actions, not their words (pp. 86, 90-92, 298-299). Using this interpretative method, Stanley believes, “Everything [Paul] taught should be defined within the context of what takes place in Acts 15.” And since the conclusion drawn by the council was minimalistic: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell” (p. 91), the church today should require very little as well (p. 92). Wrapping (or, better, ignoring) everything else in the New Testament pertaining to the church around this concept, Stanley offers this strained understanding as the biblical foundation for the local church. Click here to continue reading this book review.

The Who’s Who List in Bringing the New Spirituality into the Church

By Chris Lawson
Spiritual Research Network

Each of the following authors professes to be Christian and/or uses biblical terminology in his or her writing, yet promotes at least one of the following serious false teachings: contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), the emergent, progressive “new” spirituality, the seeker-friendly, church-growth movement (e.g., Willow Creek, Purpose Driven) and/or Yoga. This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)


Abbott, David L.

Adams, James Rowe

Allender, Dan

Arico, Carl J.

Armstrong, Karen

Artress, Lauren

Assagioli, Roberto


Babbs, Liz

Bakker, Jay

Barton, Ruth Haley

Bass, Diana Butler

Batterson, Mark

Baxter, Mary

Bell, Rob

Benner, David

Bennison, John

Bentley, Todd

Bickle, Mike

Bjorklund, Kurt

Blanchard, Ken

Boa, Kenneth

Bolger, Ryan

Bolz-Weber, Nadia


Bordenkircher, Susan

Borg, Marcus

Bourgeault, Cynthia

Bronsink, Troy

Brother Lawrence

Brueggemann, Walter

Bruteau, Beatrice

Buchanan, John M.

Budziszewski, J.

Buford, Bob

Burke, Spencer


Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg

Caliguire, Mindy

Campbell, Joseph

Campolo, Bart

Campolo, Tony

Canfield, Jack

Card, Michael

Carroll, L. Patrick

Chalke, Steve

Chalmers, Joseph

Chinmoy, Sri

Chittister, Joan

Claiborne, Shane

Coe, John

Coffin, William Sloane

Collins, Jim

Crabb, Larry

Cron, Ian

Crossan, John Dominic

Crowder, David


De Mello, Anthony De Waal, Esther

Demarest, Bruce

Dillard, Annie

Dowd, Michael

Dykes, David R

Driscoll, Mark

Drury, Keith

Dyckman, Katherine Marie


Edwards, Gene

Edwards, Tilden

Egan, Harvey

Epperly, Bruce

Evans, Rachel Held


Felten, David

Fleming, Dave

Flowers, Betty Sue

Ford, Leighton

Fosdick, Harry Emerson

Foster, Richard

Fox, George

Fox, Matthew

Friend, Howard E., Jr.

Funk, Mary Margaret


Garrison, Becky

Geering, Lloyd

Gibbs, Eddie

Gire, Ken

Goleman, Daniel

Goll, James

Graham, Dom Alfred

Greig, Pete

Griffin, Emilie

Griffiths, Bede

Gru, Jean-Nicholas



Haas, Peter Traban

Haight, Roger

Haliczer, Stephen

Hall, Thelma

Hansen, Mark Victor

Hays, Edward

Hazard, David

Healey, Charles

Hedrick, Charles

Hildegard of Bingen

Hipps, Shane

Holmes, Emily

Hougen, Judith

Humphreys, Carolyn

Hunard, Hannah

Hunt, Anne

Hunter, Todd

Hybels, Bill


Ignatius Loyola, St.

Issler, Klaus


Jager, Willigis

Jenks, Gregory C.

Johnson, Jan

Johnston, William

Jones, Alan

Jones, Laurie Beth

Jones, Tony


Kaisch, Ken

Keating, Thomas

Kelsey, Morton

Kent, Keri Wyatt

Kidd, Sue Monk

Kimball, Dan

King, Mike

King, Robert H.

Kraft, Robert A.

Kreeft, Peter


L’Engle, Madeleine

Lamott, Anne

Law, William


Madigan, Shawn

Main, John

Manning, Brennan

Martin, James

Mattioli, Joseph

Matus, Thomas

May, Gerald

McColman, Carl

McKnight, Scot

McLaren, Brian

McManus, Erwin

Meninger, William

Meyers, Robin R.

Miller, Calvin

Miller, Donald

Moon, Gary

Moore, Beth

Moore, Brian P.

Moran, Michael T.

Moreland, J.P.

Morganthaler, Sally

Mother Theresa

Mundy, Linus

Muyskens, John David


Newcomer, Carrie

Norris, Gunilla Brodde

Norris, Kathleen

Nouwen, Henri


Ortberg, John


Pagels, Elaine

Pagitt, Doug

Palmer, Parker

Paloma, Margaret M.

Patterson, Stephen J.

Peace, Richard

Peale, Norman Vincent

Pennington, Basil

Pepper, Howard

Peterson, Eugene

Piper, John

Plumer, Fred

Pope Benedict XVI

Procter-Murphy, Jeff


Rakoczy, Susan

Reininger, Gustave

Rhodes, Tricia

Robbins, Duffy

Robbins, Maggie

Rohr, Richard

Rolle, Richard

Rollins, Peter

Romney, Rodney

Ruether, Rosemary Radford

Rupp, Joyce

Russell, A.J.

Ryan, Thomas


Sampson, Will

Sanford, Agnes

Scandrette, Mark

Scazzero, Pete

Schuller, Robert

Selmanovic, Samir

Senge, Peter

Shannon, William

Shore, John

Sinetar, Marsha

Sittser, Gerald

Smith, Chuck, Jr.

Smith, Elizabeth

Smith, James Bryan

Southerland, Dan

Spangler, Ann

Spong, John Shelby

St. Romain, Philip

Stanley, Andy

Steindl-Rast, David

Strobel, Kyle

Sweet, Leonard


Talbot, John Michael

Tasto, Maria

Taylor, Barbara Brown

Teague, David

Thomas, Gary

Thompson, Marjorie

Thresher, Tom

Tiberghien, Susan

Tickle, Phyllis

Treece, Patricia

Tuoti, Frank

Twiss, Richard


Vaswig, William (Bill)

Virkler, Mark

Voskamp, Ann


Wallis, Jim

Wakefield, James

Ward, Benedicta

Ward, Karen

Warren, Rick

Webber, Robert

Wilhoit, James C.

Willard, Dallas

Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan

Winner, Lauren

Wink, Walter

Wolsey, Roger

Wright, N.T.


Yaconelli, Mark

Yaconelli, Mike

Yancey, Phillip

Yanni, Kathryn A.

Yarian, Br. Karekin M., BSG

Young, Sarah

Young, William Paul

Yungblut, John R.


Zeidler, Frank P.

This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)

Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Compassion International Mount

To Lighthouse Trails:

I just came across your site in search of some background information concerning the emergent church movement (which I was aware of, but had no idea of it’s size or that it was labeled as such).

povertyI was concerned about a particular speaker at Compassion Intl. and after finding the post at the Lighthouse Trails blog, “Letter to the Editor: What To Do When Christian Charities, Such as Compassion, Turn Contemplative/Emergent,” and reading some articles at ‘Stand Up for The Truth,’ I realized there are many on that particular list that cause concern.

Last June they appointed a new President and Chief Executive [Santiago Mellado]. When I went to the website, I read over his biography again… rather than summarize, I would just encourage you to read it.

Blessings,  _________

LTRP Note: Compassion International’s new president, Santiago Mellado, was the president of the contemplative/emerging-promoting Willow Creek Association for 20 years (according to the biography mentioned above). Couple that with Compassion International’s embracing of numerous contemplative/emergent speakers, and concerns about Compassion mount.  It is also troubling to consider what the ramifications may be for Compassion International if Mellado shares the same “Christian Palestinianism” views that Willow Creek leader Lynn Hybels has.

Related Material:

“Christian Palestinianism” & Emergents Lynn Hybels and Jim Wallis Come to Multnomah University For “Justice” Conference

No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift

List of 50 Top Contemplative-Promoting Organizations Adds 8 Runner Ups

List of 50 Top Contemplative-Promoting Organizations Adds 8 Runner Ups

In 2012, Lighthouse Trails posted the “50 Top Organizations With a Significant Role in Bringing Contemplative Spirituality to the Church.” We are reposting this list for those who may not have seen it then, and we have added 8 “runner ups” to the list (see bottom of post). From 12 years of research at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, we have found these organizations to have had a significant role in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church. If you do not know or understand the implications of this, we urge you to educate yourself as soon as possible.

Note: We have not listed any colleges or seminaries in this list. To see our list of contemplative promoting schools, click here. This list below is in conjunction with our recent list of Christian leaders: 100 Top Contemplative Proponents Evangelical Christians Turn To Today.

1.  Acts 29 Network

2. American Association of Christian Counselors

3.  American Bible Society 

4.  Association for Biblical Higher Learning

5.  Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

6.  Baker Books (Emersion)


8. Boundless Webzine (FOF)

9.  Breakforth (Canada)

10.  Center for Action and Contemplation

11.  Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL)

12.  Christian Missionary Alliance

13.  Christianity Today

14. Emergent Village

15. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

16.  Focus on the Family

17.  Group Magazine

18. Henri Nouwen Society

19.  IHOP-KC

20.  Intervarsity Press

21.  Kairos School of Spiritual Formation

22.  Conversations Journal

23. Leadership Network

24.  Lifeway Resources

25.  Mennonite Brethren

26.  Mennonite Church, USA

27. Metamorpha

28.  National Worship Conference

29. NavPress

30.  New Church Specialties

31. Presbyterian Church USA

32.  Relevant Magazine

33.  Renovare

34. Robert E. Webber Institute for Spiritual Studies

35. Saddleback Church

36.  Sojourners

37.  Spiritual Directors International

38.  Teen Mania

39.  The Church of the Nazarene

40. The Ooze

41. The Purpose Driven Movement

42.  The Upper Room

43. Thomas Nelson Publishers

44.  Transforming Center

45.  Wesleyan Church

46.  Willow Creek Association

47.  Worship Leader Magazine

48.  Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project

49. Youth Specialties

50. Zondervan

2014 Update: Runner Ups


2.  Compassion International

3. World Vision

4. Radio Bible Class

5. In Touch Magazine

6. Moody Bible Institute/Moody Radio

7. ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)

8. Assemblies of God

Note: You can get information on any of these organizations using our search engines on both our blog and research site.

Question: How to Find a Biblical Teaching Church?

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Can you recommend how to find a biblical teaching church that is not on the contemplative/emergent/Acts 29 path? My husband and I are feeling so unsettled about how these movement seem to be creeping in to all the churches in our area including the one that we are members at. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Lisa (from Illinois)

Medieval fieldstone church in GermanyOur Comment (from our article “How Do I Find a Good Bible-Believing Church?”):

We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. We usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:

“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”

Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:

1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.

2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”

3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.

In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about “culture” and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to our CD Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and emerging figures.

Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has an extensive “Master List” of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging, hyper-charismatic, River, New Age, “Christian” homosexual, etc. camps. It’s an excellent resource.

When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/Purpose Driven test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and mention of hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the spiritual man.

Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:

Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Roger has these signs listed in his Booklet Tract How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church. May God bless you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

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