Purpose Driven Resisters Tells Part of Story

Wall Street Journal Article on Purpose Driven Resisters Tells Part of Story

Today's Wall Street Journal article, "Veneration Gap - A Popular Strategy For Church Growth Splits Congregants," written by WSJ reporter Suzanne Sataline, was based on interviews that Ms. Sataline had with many people, including an editor at Lighthouse Trails and several of the researchers we know. The interviews extended over many weeks and equaled hours worth of discussion. Ms. Sataline also interviewed former members of churches that had become Purpose Driven, and for that reason those members were no longer at those churches.

While Ms. Sataline's effort to tell the story of how so many churches are in disarray because of the Purpose Driven movement is commendable, the article is lacking in that it left out some vital factors in understanding the seriousness of what is taking place in churches throughout North America. It is of course possible that Ms. Sataline's article was altered by editors at Wall Street Journal and the final version was beyond her control - thus it is not our intention to criticize Ms. Sataline but rather to bring to light issues that in many ways have become obscure. Given the fact that so many people have now testified to the great damage, the unkind and often cruel treatment and the dangerous integration of non-biblical, New Age ideas into the Christian church through Purpose Driven, it is possible that the Wall Street Journal article could do more harm than good. By omitting the real key issues, readers may be led to believe that criticisms of Purpose Driven are trivial and thus unimportant.

First, the article fell short in describing the underlying foundation of Purpose Driven, which is humanistic, ecumenical, and a betrayal of faith, and emphasized symptoms or signs of the movement (e.g.. removal of hymns and pews) rather than the dangerous and deceptive nature of it. The article said that critics, or resisters as Rick Warren has called them, are concerned about church growth tactics such as "mission statements" and "simplistic Bible teachings," and while this may be true, we know from the countless emails and phone calls we have received that those who oppose Purpose Driven would describe their concerns as far more serious than that.

Secondly, there was an underlying theme woven throughout the WSJ article depicting older, traditional church members who reject Purpose Driven versus younger, contemporary ones who want it. Today, after we read the WSJ article, we contacted Charles Jones, the man in Mississippi who is discussed in the WSJ article. Mr. Jones told us that, prior to he and other members leaving Iuka Baptist Church (where he had attended for over 59 years), he had been removed from a deaconship position and said that when the new Purpose Driven shift took place, "the older folks were totally left-out," and leadership positions were given to younger members, sometimes new believers. Jones said that two other deacons were pressured to resign. This disregard for older, seasoned believers has become an earmark for Purpose Driven churches. At Lighthouse Trails, we have received many phone calls from older saints. A typical phone call would be from a man or woman in their sixties or seventies, who along with other members of their church, were concerned over the lack of biblical integrity of Purpose Driven and tried to persuade church leadership to reevaluate the decision to incorporate it into their church body. Jones told us, "We've been studying the Bible for a long time, and we recognized this was not biblical teaching." Sometimes those who call us say that after decades of attending church, they have no where to go - all of the churches in their community have become or are influenced by Purpose Driven. Recently, Rick Warren told followers, "If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it's been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it's been plateaued for 20 years, you've got to set in for the duration! I'm saying some people are going to have to die or leave. Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it's true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change." (from Purpose Driven Resisters - Leave or Die)

The WSJ article accurately showed that "Congregations nationwide have split or expelled members who fought the [Purpose Driven] changes," and that Purpose Driven training for pastors and leaders meant "help[ing] them leave if they don't stop objecting" and "when those congregants join a new church ... pastors should call their new minister and suggest that the congregants be barred from any leadership role." But what the WSJ article unfortunately left out was just how villainous "resisters" are viewed and treated. The article mentions a man named Rev. Dan Southerland, president of Transitions. It did not tell, however, that Southerland is a member of Saddleback Church and the author of a book called Transitioning, which is sold on Rick Warren's website and used to train leaders. In that book, Southerland states: "We have experienced two major sources of criticism during our transitions. The first is Christians from more traditional backgrounds.... Not all of our traditional backgrounded Christians have been critical - just the ornery ones. Our second source of criticism is traditional church pastors. Again, not all traditional church pastors - just the meaner ones" (p. 116). In that same book, Southerland refers to opposers as "leaders from hell." In an email sent to us by a former Purpose Driven church member, a field representative for Rick Warren told the former member's pastor to do whatever he had to do to get rid of complainers. It is Rick Warren's mantra, "Whatever it takes," that seems to justify such attitudes. Lighthouse Trails has witnessed these tactics first hand. Recently, Saddleback Church told Lighthouse Trails that they believed we had broken into their server and that Federal agents were "working on the case." (see more) This accusation followed a series of emails from Rick Warren and phone calls from other Saddleback men over the last 18 months. In addition to our own experiences with opposing Rick Warren, we receive phone calls and emails every week by those who tell us how they were ostracized, ridiculed and intimidated by pro-Purpose Driven church leaders when they even slightly questioned the changes taking place.

While we believe that the Wall Street Journal article can have value because it does alert the general public to the dangers of the Purpose Driven movement, and while most news stories on Rick Warren are filled with the positive attributes and amazingly lacking in any serious concerns or tangible criticisms, we regret that the article did not mention anything about Rick Warren's promotion and endorsement of contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) and the emerging church. These aspects were carefully explained to the WSJ reporter with the hope that this story would show that the real reason why so many people are opposed to Purpose Driven goes far beyond the removal of pews and hymnals. We believe Rick Warren is removing the very tenets of our faith and replacing them with a seductive and sensual spirituality that ultimately diminishes biblical Christianity and the true gospel message of Jesus Christ.

To Mr. and Mrs. Jones of Iuka, Mississippi and to all other brothers and sisters who have courageously stood for the faith in spite of ill and undeserved treatment, we salute you and thank you for being such examples of those the church really needs.

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