Are you hearing words like "Missional," "Multiplication," "Acceleration," "Church Growth," "Future Travelers," and "DiscipleSHIFT?" Then you might have been exposed to the Exponential conference happening in the Purpose-Seeker-mergent Church.Folks, it is everywhere these days. But is it in the Bible?
What is this movement is really about, and why are so many mainline evangelical churches getting sucked into this "movement?"
Jesus Himself gave us our mission in Matthew 28:16-20. Our individual responsibility is to pick up our cross and follow Him daily, and the Church should be about equipping us to do that. Of course, no church wants to be known as anti-missional. But why are so many evangelical churches who have adapted the Peter Drucker/Saddleback/Willow Creek/Leadership Network business model of "doing church" now so eager to pile onto the missional bandwagon?
Look, there's no doubt that some good nuggets and catchphrases can come out of a conference like Exponential. One speaker at the most recent live simulcast even had the audacity to suggest churches should stop pleasing people and start pleasing Jesus. This Idaho pastor even suggested that churches need to start disciplining again. I would add that we might want to also share the Gospel in each and every sermon, and call people to repentance, rather than have them raise their hand with their eyes closed (no peeking, I see that hand), and ask Jesus to come into their hearts. But in the end, we're still talking about planting churches that are for the unbeliever - which is unbiblical.
Who is leading these conferences and this new charge?
Last year's 2012 "Sifted" conference was headed up by Bill Hybels and Wayne Cordeiro. This year's next chapter of Sifted is Exponential. with Rick Warren, whose Saddleback Church is hosting the big Exponential event later this year; Craig Groeschel, Francis Chan and others:
The 2013 conference theme, DiscipleShift, focuses on moving the church planting conversation beyond missional versus attractional to a deep and passionate discourse around disciple-making. Exponential 2013 (April 22-25) in Orlando will explore these five crucial shifts.
Unfortunately, there is something more going at these conferences. In fact the conferences themselves are an outreach of a darker mission: Transformation. A new global revival. A unity of peace. What could possibly be wrong with that, you ask?
Researchers Lynn and Sarah Leslie sum up what's happening in today's NeoEvangelical Church:
“Various churches and denominations claim to be undergoing ‘transformation .’ This word no longer refers to the humble sanctification of the individual believer. Rather, it now refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary overhaul of the global church, including the ‘transformation’ of cities, societies, cultures, marketplaces, and more.”
Movements like this and a plethora of other conferences with compromised gospel messages have set the table for the great falling away (Apostasy) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.
There were a few voices in the wilderness crying out against this coming deception a decade ago. At the time, most of us weren't listening. We thought Equipping Leaders to 'Lead like Jesus' was a great thing. We thought Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life might draw people closer to Jesus. We even thought his Global P.E.A.C.E. plan sounded neat.
We were so, SO wrong.
We need to stop following the latest trends and language used by the “company headquarters” lead by theologically liberal neo-evangelicals teaching the local franchise how to remain culturally relevant. Do you understand the liberal agenda hiding behind the word “missional?” Being a "radical," "missional" Christian is slowly becoming the "new legalism."
We need to repent, warn other brothers and sisters in Christ, and snatch as many as we can from this fire. And then we need to be about the business of His true calling.
We don't need mega-superstar book authors or business growth leaders to show us how to do that. We need faithful pastors and elders to turn off the simulcast streams, get their heads out of the latest self help books and back into the Word of God, to equip the saints and prepare them for what's to come. And we need to protect these dear sheep from wolves by avoiding them, not marching them down the aisles of our houses of worship and holding them up as those we should be following.
If we continue to sit at the feet of New Age synthesizers, compromisers, and downright false teachers - the very wolves Jesus warned us would come -our churches will be swept away into the wide, wide river of relevance.
Is it finally time to say, not in my church?