Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Purpose Driven Reformation?

Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren, at the recent Purpose Driven Church Conference, encouraged attendees to work toward a "new Reformation".

From the Purpose Driven website:
Warren told the church leaders in attendance that in his travels around the world he has noticed four coinciding movements in Christianity.

First, the church is exploding in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Africa and South America. Second, Purpose Driven Ministries is bypassing old distinctions between denominations and nationalities and unifying the church worldwide. Third, Warren believes God is revitalizing the local church. Finally, new technologies such as the Internet have helped to build a global, de-centralized network of churches that allows congregations to communicate with one another more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

These four observations, Warren believes, are the framework of the second great reformation of the church. Through this reformation, Warren expects to see:
  • a complete mobilization of ordinary believers.

  • a rapid multiplication of churches.

  • the complete eradication of the five global giants (spiritual lostness, ego-centric leadership, poverty and illiteracy).

  • a new cooperation between churches around the world.

  • the complete evangelization of the planet.
As someone who attends a Lutheran church that identifies itself as "Purpose Driven" I have to admit to being more than a little ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I'm happy to see someone doing something. I'm really happy to see an evangelical movement that mentions things like poverty and illiteracy. I've seen first hand that a lot of really good things can come out of this.

On the other hand, I really don't like this kind of Christianity. Part of it is aesthetic. Aside from not liking Hawaiian shirts, I don't like most praise songs and it makes me uncomfortably when people get weepy during ordinary prayers.

But aside from that I have problems with the theology behind all this. It's hard to say why because you have to really dig to find the theology amid all the hype. And what you do find isn't so wrong that you can say, "black-and-white, that's wrong." It's just misdirected. We can do better.

At the PDC conference, Rick Warren talked about his "P.E.A.C.E. Plan" (Plant churches, Equip servant-leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, Educate the next generation). If you go further and ask what makes the "P.E.A.C.E. Plan revolutionary, you'll find out that it is P.L.A.N.S. (Purpose Driven, Led by small groups, Attacks the global giants, Networks church to church, Sends to the whole world). I'm not making this up.

What can I make from the acronym G.O.O.F.Y.?

I'm reminded of a line from The American President: "People [in the desert] don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference."

I really do think it's great that Rick Warren and company are trying to make a difference. I really hope that God will bless these efforts and bring something wonderful out of them. But I also hope God will have mercy on the Church and let our cream rise to the top and not our grease.

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

He sounds like the sort of motivational speakers my ex-boss used to send employees to hear. Oy veh.