America’s 50 Most Influential Churches – Many Pro-Contemplative/Emergent

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 The Church Report has released their annual“America’s 50 Most Influential Churches” poll. The list is compiled each year by getting the input of around 2000 church pastors and leaders. Last year’s list, on which we reported, is very similar to this year’s. Willow Creek (Bill Hybels) is in the number one spot, and Saddleback (Rick Warren) is number two. As was the case in last year’s poll, many of the churches (and pastors) that made it into one of the 50 spots for 2007 are pro-contemplative and/or pro-emergent churches/pastors. Here is our list of the ones that fit that group:

#1 Willow Creek (Bill Hybels)
#2 Saddleback (Rick Warren)
#3 Fellowship Church (Ed Young)
#4 North Point (Andy Stanley)
#5 Life Church (Craig Groeschel)
#6 Granger Community Church (Mark Beeson)
#10 Sea Coast (Greg Surratt)
#11 Mosaic (Erwin McManus)
#12 Mars Hill (Rob Bell)
#13 North Coast Church (Larry Osborne)
#18 Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (Bob Coy)
#27 Calvary Chapel Capo Beach (former pastor Chuck Smith Jr. – now called Capo Beach Calvary)
#31 Menlo Park Presbyterian (John Ortberg)
#35 Wooddale (Leith Anderson)
#39 National Community (Mark Batterson)
#45 Oak Hills (Max Lucado)

There are several others churches that made the list that do not necessarily fall into the contemplative/emergent camp (at this point), but show indications that they may be heading that way. Some of those will undoubtedly make it on the Lighthouse Trails report next year as contemplative/emerging spirituality is becoming more the norm than the exception.

In our report last year, what we concluded with a statement that still holds true this year:

Many of the 50 are part of and participate in the “new evangelicalism” that approaches Christianity from a business viewpoint with strong New Age affinities. If indeed this list by The Church Report is an accurate estimation of influential churches, it is a valid statement to say that Christendom is now in some very troubled waters, both in North America and around the world.

Lighthouse Trails believes that real godly influence should be attributed to the many unrecognized Christian pastors throughout the world who have stayed true to the Word of God and faithfully preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. These shepherds of the body of Christ do not compromise truth with church-growth, seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven and New Age practices. These are the pastors (and their churches who support them) who should be honored. They are the ones who will stand against the seducing spirits and doctrines of demons that will usher in that false “coming one” who opposes and hates Jesus Christ – the only name in which salvation lies.

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