Does the Purpose Driven Church Compromise Repentance?

From the Purpose Driven Website FAQ itself:

Is Pastor Rick marketing Christianity – and compromising the message of repentance in the process?

One common misconception about evangelistic/seeker services is that they use a marketing ploy catering to consumers. But the truth is that every style of worship service caters to someone: A traditional service caters to those who grew up in that tradition, a formal service caters to formal people, and an emotional service caters to emotional people. If you want to know which “consumers” your church is currently catering to, just try changing your worship service next week. You’ll discover very quickly who they are!

The real issue isn’t whether you target but who you target. We shouldn’t be surprised that most members never bring lost friends with them to church when everything we do in our services is geared to the long-time Christian who understands all the phrases and knows all the tunes. Even in churches that have evangelistic sermons, you often find every other part of the service is aimed at members. When we send mixed messages, we get mixed results. When Pastor Rick planted Saddleback Church, he deliberately decided to “niche” the services: one service for growing Christians, the other for non-believing friends. The evangelistic service is called “seeker-targeted.”

The evangelistic services are designed so someone without any religious background can understand everything that takes place. They’re also designed so members can bring their non-believing friends to the service, knowing that the message will be focused on the Gospel. Our members are constantly on mission to bring their friends and neighbors to these weekend seeker services. As a result, we’ve baptized more than 1,000 new believers each year for the last decade.

http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/AboutUs/WhoWeAre/FAQ.htm.

Somehow or other, the question about repentance never quite gets addressed.

So lets check their purpose driven statement of faith:

* God is bigger and better and closer than we can imagine.
* The Bible is God’s perfect guidebook for living.
* Jesus is God showing himself to us.
* Through his Holy Spirit, God lives in and through us now.
* Nothing in creation “just happened.” God made it all.
* Grace is the only way to have a relationship with God.
* Faith is the only way to grow in our relationship with God.
* God has allowed evil to provide us with a choice, God can bring good even out of evil events and God promises victory over evil to those who choose him.
* Heaven and Hell are real places. Death is a beginning, not the end.
* The church is to serve people like Jesus served people.
* Jesus is coming again.

I’m still not too sure what they are preaching. Jesus is mentioned, but not repentance, or even salvation. The Bible is a guidebook for living – but is it Truth? Do they believe the gospel but are being palatably vague? What are they actually selling, here?


9 thoughts on “Does the Purpose Driven Church Compromise Repentance?

  1. Warren operates almost everything he does at an entry level for the unchurched.

    I’m not saying this is necessarily right, but you, as others, would have a more in-your-face shock-the-sinner evangelical and religiously precise statement of beliefs, and the unsaved-unchurched would take one look at it and walk away, whereas they would take a look at Warren’s list and say to friends who invite them, “Well, OK we’ll check it out”.

    And that’s the whole point of what he’s attempting to achieve. You want to throw the whole book of judgement, wrath and sin at people who are totally afraid that all God wants to do with them is judge them for sin and pour out his wrath on them.

    I guess it’s quite easy to work out why the average sinner prefers to give Warren’s church a go and not the church the legalsists are proposing.

    Whether Jesus approves of either method remains to be seen.

    Jesus’ promotion for life with the Father included the statements that God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten Son to save the world, and not so people would perish, or be destroyed, but have everlasting life with the Father, and that he wasn’t sent to condemn the world, but to save it, and introduce it to the potential for eternal life.

    When Jesus told people to repent, he was, in effect, telling them to have a change of heart, which caused a change of mind, and a change of direction away from their old life of sin and into life with the Father.

    I have issues with some of Saddleback’s doctrine, even their wishy-washy statement of beliefs, to an extent, as well as some of the methodology, but it is clear they know how to appeal to the unsaved-unchurched in way which draws them into contact with Christians, the Church, the Word of God and the Father.

    But as I say, that is just the entry level.

    Then they take them through foundational and new believer’s courses, followed by more advanced teaching and training for purpose and ministry. If people give their lives to the Lord on that journey, then how can you really find fault with their methodology, which seems to be really effective.

  2. “Jesus’ promotion for life with the Father included the statements that God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten Son to save the world, and not so people would perish, or be destroyed, but have everlasting life with the Father, and that he wasn’t sent to condemn the world, but to save it, and introduce it to the potential for eternal life.”

    True, and there are other ways to put things than just to yell at people, “You need to repent!” How about talking about being born again – becoming a new creation. There’s nothing negative about that.

    But if anyone has questions about whether purpose driven people need to be born again, to be Christian, they can’t tell from this website. So no wonder people question – it’s not clear at the source.

    If it isn’t clear, how do we know we can trust their methodologies when they are promoted in our churches? Are we just supposed to believe its OK because someone says it is, when we can’t substantiate it?

    “Then they take them through foundational and new believer’s courses, followed by more advanced teaching and training for purpose and ministry. If people give their lives to the Lord on that journey, then how can you really find fault with their methodology, which seems to be really effective.”

    So the ends justifies the means, does it?

    If it works, then don’t question it.

  3. Now I have time to reply a bit more.

    FL said:
    “You want to throw the whole book of judgement, wrath and sin at people who are totally afraid that all God wants to do with them is judge them for sin and pour out his wrath on them.”

    As usual, FL, you draw an extreme conclusion – judging me from my mild question you assert that I am some sort of insensitive, hellfire and brimstone extremist. Discrediting the question by asserting that the asker is a nutcase. Typical.

    Next you said:
    “I guess it’s quite easy to work out why the average sinner prefers to give Warren’s church a go and not the church the legalsists are proposing.”

    So now you, of all people, are calling me a legalist! For wondering if the purpose driven church talks about repentance or being born again – the basics of salvation!

    On the last site, I seem to remember you accusing me of being too liberal. Make up your mind!

    Why are you so defensive when questions are raised?

    To clarify things –

    1. The question about repentance is the literal text from the purpose driven FAQ page. The words used are theirs, not mine. It is something they are often asked – showing that lots of people question this.

    2. Secondly, even though they themselves raised the question using the word repentance, they also chose not to address it. The people this is theoretically answering are not the seekers, they are Christians wondering whether the gospel is actually preached. So why not assume that the reader is educated enough to know what repentance refers to, and just say, “Yes, we explain about repentance in the new believers classes/in our church services” or whatever, rather than raising the question and then ignoring it completely.

    Even if they do preach the gospel, they seem to avoid the topic of repentance here (or a more positively phrased equivalent) as if it is a dirty word – even though they brought the subject up!

  4. Well you might be a liberal literalist, or literal liberal! OK, I’ll confess, I went too far. Sorry!

    But some people, not you, obviously, do take it out to that extreme, so I think we can do damage to the gospel message, and particularly the truth about repentance, by underemphasising or overemphasising what it means.

  5. * God is bigger and better and closer than we can imagine.
    Isn’t that what some unbelievers/ New Agers believe? That there is a God ‘bigger and better’ out there, ‘closer then we can imagine’. Just that they haven’t found the right one yet?

    * The Bible is God’s perfect guidebook for living.
    Wrong. That is completely wrong. We have something much greater then a book that’s even more perfect to teach us how to live- the Holy Spirit.
    The Bible is God’s truth written down for us so that we may not fall into error or get caught up by the winds of doctrines and dodgy philosophies. It’s a book that clarifies what the Spirit in us is saying.

    * Jesus is God showing himself to us.
    And all the non-Christian’s now believe.

    * Through his Holy Spirit, God lives in and through us now.
    What about teaches us, guides us, gives freely the fruits of the spirit, frees us, empowers us, etc. ? You get my point.

    * Grace is the only way to have a relationship with God.
    Vague. Not gospel orientated.
    Through Jesus’ Christ faithfulness and willingness to bring the world back into a right standing with God, believing that His blood has redeemed us from our fallen condition that we can now truely have a relationship with God.

    * Faith is the only way to grow in our relationship with God.
    No. Abiding in His Spirit or abiding in Him is the only way to grow in our relationship with God. Our faith didn’t save us, nor does it sustain us. It’s His everlasting goodness/ faithfulness to us, once me make that decision that Jesus Christ is Lord, that makes us grow in our relationship with Him.

    * God has allowed evil to provide us with a choice, God can bring good even out of evil events and God promises victory over evil to those who choose him.

    False. God never allowed evil to provide us with a choice. When we make the wrong choice, or choose to do the wrong thing, out of His goodness, He shows us what is right and turns the what is evil to that which is good.
    The second part of this statement is more on the ball. But why they choose to have this up on their statements of belief is on me. GOD HAS ALLOWED EVIL, does not welcome me to read the rest of the statements due to people’s common knowledge that ‘God is good’.

    * Heaven and Hell are real places. Death is a beginning, not the end.
    Hm… Meaningless statements. Iraq and Venus are real places. So what?
    People automatically have an odd assumption that they are automatically going to go to heaven.

    * The church is to serve people like Jesus served people.
    WOW! Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. +10% right.
    We are called to serve, but that is not what the church is for. Can anyone provide scriptures to back this claim? I can think of a few, but they’re fairly vague.

    * Jesus is coming again.
    Great. About the only good thing this belief statement has said.

  6. If you don’t have the exact set of beliefs, within a narrow range, God will condemn you to Hell forever.

    Remember, God is making millisecond by millisecond recordings of your neurological state. Be careful.

  7. True David. He will judge those more severely who teach inaccuracies and cause the meeker to stumble…

  8. Remember, specksand planks, this is entry level stuff for unsaved-unchurched people, so it is deliberately incomplete, whihc you could cal misleading, but in fact it is a tool to these people. It draws a person nearer. It is not supposed to be the full doctrine. That’s what makes it wishywashy for many of us, but effective for Saddleback.

    The bit where he says God allows evil to give us a choice really irritates me, and is one of the reasons I disliked and distrusted his book. It’s wacky doctrine. God doesn’t need to use evil for anything. He is just and holy, and there is no evil in him.

    It’s a corny way of explaining the presence of evil without mentioning the cause of evil. It gets people in, but it’s really very wrong.

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