Rick Warren & The Youth Centered Church

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (KJV)

In another blog, I commented on the blatant youth worship going on in churches today. I think that after sober reflection it is not a product of oversight, and certainly I mean no rebuke to the Pastors of my church. We are to rebuke not an elder (1 Tim. 5:1).

However, I think perhaps the pastors to be unfamiliar and unaware with the source of the problem. I’ll state that yes, I have the answer, but I doubt the church will be willing to put the answer in place.

But first – what is the problem? The problem is Rick Warren.  The issue is that Rick Warren has shown that although he truly believes he is right… he truly is also wrong. David Cloud has well documented all of Warren’s doctrinal errors. I’m going to show his methodology.

Warren decided – for reasons unexplained – to pass out index cards and asked the members of his congregation to write down the call letters of the radio stations they listened to. “Nobody wrote ‘I listen to organ music.'” he boasts. Well, that’s not what you asked. You asked them to write down the call letters of a radio station, like WBRY (just picking 4 letters at random). I know most radio stations list their call sign with the prefix W. So the next 3 were random. What radio station do I listen to? BBN. Next question.

I also guarantee that nobody wrote on the cards, “I listen to appalachian mountain music”. Because he didn’t ask what kind of music you listen to. He asked for the call letters of the radio station you listen to. This is a surprising thing I’ve noticed about Rick Warren that most people don’t seem to catch.

Warren will tell you about his actions – and then quickly knock down a straw man before you have the chance to ask, “Why is this pastor asking about radio stations?”

Would it not have been more correct to first tell the congregation, “Listen, I’m thinking about changing our worship music. Let’s have a poll. How many of you would prefer to keep it traditional, and how many would prefer loud rock music?” And then issue cards where people could check a box.

Or better yet, read what the word of God has to say about music, and look into teaching materials on the subject. And yes- there’s teaching materials on the subject that indeed address it in detail. This should be any pastor’s approach.

Now let me tell you what Warren intended. Warren intended from the start to have rock music in his church, when he concieved this purpose driven plan (which he admits in his seminars for pastors was when he was back in seminary – which is not the impression he gives in interviews and books). Otherwise, he would have been more above board on the issue. But he ingeniously states “I asked them to write down what radio station they listened to. And let me tell you, not one person wrote down “I listen to organ music.” Well, I addressed that above.

I’ll make a parenthetical remark that I’ve attended one (and visited another) Independent Baptist Church. Both King James Only, both Fundamentalist, both with hymnals, a piano player, choir. No Christian Contemporary music anywhere, just hymns, melodies, psalms. you know, like that book says, the one Rick Warren quotes sometimes. The Bible.

And guess what? They were attended mostly by the people in the age range that our church (and Rick Warren) is targeting. The overwhelming majority of the congregation was in their 20’s – early 30’s.

Back to the subject, the implication Warren makes is that we should be worldly to attract the worldly.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2 (KJV)

Is Warren’s Purpose Driven Church plan biblical? I’ve only quoted my first verse, and we already see it says the opposite of Warren’s Purpose Driven Church.

Be not conformed to this world.

Okay, then how should Christians, and their church be? We should be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Warren’s purpose driven church plain and simple, asks the unSaved to come to his church – and give up nothing. He makes them feel good about themselves, suggests merely believing in Christ. He then tells them they are saved.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:19 (KJV)

The point of James 2 is that belief, in and of itself is not enough. Nicodemus in John 3 demonstrates a belief in Christ in the opening verses.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:2-3 (KJV)

Well, this is indeed a serious problem! Nicodemus showed the belief in Jesus that Warren advocates – and Jesus right away tells him that mere belief in Jesus is not enough! Ye must be born again! The words used show Jesus Christ specifically sayting that everyone must be born again.

So we see another great jumping problem with the Purpose Driven Church – it is populated by professors of Christ, and few possessors of Christ.

Well, what happened to all those people that were attending Warren’s church who were Godly Christians? Warren himself answers that in his “Pastor’s toolkit” newsletter Nov. 14, 2007 – just get rid of anyone who won’t go along with it.

Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you’re choosing who leaves. You say, “But Rick, yes, they’re the pillars of the church.” Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up … And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions. — Rick Warren

So, Rick’s plan is, “make the church attractive to the worldly – and anyone who opposes the vision, chase them out.” There’s no advice there to search the Scriptures, to prove all things, to be a good Berean… Paul commended the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures to see whether these things be so…

But Rick Warren has proved to be a master of taking verses out of context, and applying them to suit his purposes, something explicitly warned against in Hermaneutics classes in every Godly Bible College and Seminary. That’s isogesis, not exegesis. We are to take what the Scriptures say in context. I shoud not try to fit the Scriptures to my preconceived conclusions – I must fit myself to the proper interpretation of the Scriptures.

It’s like the classic joke of, “I have the perfect sermon – I just need a Scripture to go with it.” Not content to read the Bible to find the verse that supports Rick Warren’s personal theories, he turns to other translations, searching many translations to find a verse that seems to supports his conclusion the closest.

At the very least, I must conclude that Rick Warren is out of God’s will. I hesitate to call him a wolf in Sheeps clothing, but I’m really not seeing any other conclusion I can come to.

In the quote above by Warren, he uses plays on words to subtly manipulate the minds of pastors who are listening, and often subconsciously looking for the next clever play on words they can borrow for a sermon.

“Be willing to let people leave the church.” The pastor’s greatest fear.

“And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do.” This is a ring of truth, that Pastor’s don’t like. It now places a stamp of legitimacy on everything Warren says.

“But when you define the vision, you’re choosing who leaves.” This hits pastors in two areas. Now they can take control of who leaves – and there’s always one or two in your church you’d love to see leave! Now pastors are nodding. Yes. If it means growing the church, we can let a few leave.

“You say, “But Rick, yes, they’re the pillars of the church.” Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up … ” Play on words. They hold up ceilings… and hold up progress. Now Warren’s advice is legitimized by his turn of phrase. yes, those people are now the villains – why they’ve been holding up progress for years! The pastor no longer feels like the villain.

“And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions.” That puts a nice air on the deliberate choice to get rid of a few conservatives in the Church. Who the Pastor initially was one of, but he’s forgetting that, caught up in the magic of Warren’s subtle tongue. Kind of reminds you of another subtle tongue – the one that was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.

These pastors little realize that there are pastors elsewhere in the country (and world) praying , “Oh LORD, just send me a few godly men and women!”

Add to this a great deal of New Age teachings, New Thought and other alarming issues – and its obvious that we should be running from Rick Warren and his teachings.


Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???