Rick Warren and the Youth Centered Church III

Having diagnosed some of the problems happening today, we turn our attention to another area.

The Purpose Driven Church plan (or at least, Saddleback Church) calls for a series of Sunday school classes. I’m not sure why, but its become part of the American Culture, this idea of progress. The idea actually comes from the funniest of places – Japan.

America has adopted as part of its culture the concept of Karate. Its easy to find someone who’s had at least one month of Karate classes. So, most Americans are familiar with the traditional Japanese Karate concept of white belt, green, blue, brown, black. Other martial arts added a rainbow of belt or sash colors, such as yellow, orange, purple and red.

Rick Warren incorporate this idea innocently enough into a Sunday School concept, of members “rounding the bases”. You go to beginners class, then to couples class or singles, then to navigators class, then to whatever level 4 is.

It’s a great concept! IF… the new members are learning good, sound Bible doctrine! And in Rick Warren’s church, the only people really learning anything resembling doctrine are the deacons, the pastors, and the Sunday School class teachers.

So what are these people doing? How is Saddleback measuring their progress? I don’t know! I haven’t the foggiest! I can see how Independent Baptist churches could adopt the concept, and actually make it mean something. But what Warren’s doing – I don’t know. Maybe it’s based on how popular you are. or how much coffee you drank. Attendance. Memorization of the Purpose Driven life. Familiarity with some TV show or something. I don’t know.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep John 21:16 (KJV)

The congregation, which belongs to Jesus Christ, is to be fed and nourished by the word of God, through sound doctrine. It’s a great concept indeed, to set up a First Principles class and then an advanced Sunday School class, and maybe a third or fourth after that – based upon knowledge of the word of God. You’ve gone through one curriculum after another. Say, through use of David Cloud’s “Things Hard to Be Understood” or other similar programs.

Warren does not feed his sheep, from what I understand. Warren’s going to have to explain himself one of these days, to the Lord Jesus Christ. And he’s going to have to explain why he did not feed the Lord’s sheep, and why he advocated the use of bad translations of the Bible, etc. Why he refused to encourage his Church to keep the Great Commission. etc.

Christ enjoined us to “bosko”, take the sheep into the pasture to graze and tend them. Then “poi-mai-no”, to lead them to food and water. We are required to feed, water, supervise, tend to. Christ also tied this to love for Him. Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep. (sorry – had a year of Greek. I guess I should use it once in a while and justify all that time staring at flashcards.)

One pastor who visited Saddleback reported that out of all the smorgasbord of Sunday School classes available, there was nothing on evangelism, and no program to reach the lost by the congregation. If any program exists, it is limited to Warren himself. which is odd, because its in his book. Which means Warren preaches one thing, and does another. So in that respect he’s the same as just about every other pastor in the world.

This is unacceptable. The congregation is to be encouraged to evangelize.

What does Warren teach his church? A sample can be found in his purpose driven life book:

  • Love God with all your heart,
  • Love your neighbor as yourself,
  • Go and make disciples,
  • Baptize them into [a church], and
  • Teach them to do all things.

Sounds good, but… that cut out a whole lot of the Great Commission of Matthew 24. It’s sermon-lite. Teaching-lite. “Diet Biblical Truth”. His congregation should be starving to death. I cannot imagine saved Christians staying at Saddleback for long. I know I would have gotten fed up and left very shortly.

Warren has, according to David Cloud, “boiled biblical truth to the lowest common denominator”, just as in his books.

“I’m not going to get into a debate over the nonessentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?” — Rick Warren

Well, how about because Christ commanded you to??? “Nonessentials” include Baptism. If one sprinkles a baby or an adult, they have not been baptized. Call it what you want, but the biblical definition of Baptism is full immersion of a believing adult after profession of faith. We are commanded to baptize new believers. Warren should be openly rebuking denominations that don’t. Warren is also ashamed of being a Southern Baptist – hence “Saddleback Church” – no Baptist in the name.

Does “nonessentials” include the lack of instruction among Lutherans, Episcopals and Roman Catholics about being born again? This missing doctrine, and substitution of church ordinances in their place (calling communion being “born again”), means that the vast majority of the world’s millions of Lutherans and Episcopals are doomed to Hell, along with almost the entire Roman Catholic church. Why be divisive? The Bible commands you to! And you’re just going to blithely stand by and allow millions to go into Hell unchallenged? What kind of Purpose are you being driven by???

What about exposing false teachers, as commanded in Romans 15:16-17? What about teaching your congregation about leading sanctified lives? What about separating from error, false teachers, false doctrines? Warren, with this attitude, is leading his congregation straight to the wolves to graze among them.

This is the end-goal of the Purpose driven, youth centered culture that Warren pushes. Is this what you want for your church? We need Biblical teaching, sound doctrine, growing and discipling our new Christians. Warren substitutes this with entertaining the unsaved, and attracting large numbers of unsaved in his church. Certainly one cannot be saved and have no hunger for the word of God, Biblical teachings, sound doctrine. Anyone who has progressed past Joel Osteen level doctrine will find no nourishment in the Purpose driven life.

And I see signs of the number of unsaved people in the church growing. People who see no problem with violating the Church covenant implies they have no ethics. A truly saved person would have problems with violating a church covenant. Whether you believe alcohol is prohibited in the Bible or not – if you signed a church covenant, you’d feel bound by that. That’s a promise between you and God.

We should not cease to disciple new members to our churches, just because Warren has. Maybe as a result, some will be saved. We need to be aware that the Bible says Jesus came to “save some” and “few there are that find it.” If your evangelism campaign is getting a thousand names but only two people baptized, then you need to re-think things. The modern changes added to the Church in the 20th and 21st Century were man made additions that obviously don’t work. We need to return to strong Fundamentalism, to Biblical doctrine, to separationism.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4 (KJV)

Rick Warren advocates running off the people that won’t go along with the Purpose Driven vision – that would be those Godly church members, the fundamentalists. Like me.

Who’s going to teach all these young people you’re trying to get into the church, if you ignore the 35-50 year olds? Who will mentor them? Who will instruct them in biblical values, teach them the hard-learned lessons of life?

The church has a primary responsibility to care for all the members, not just the ones who are the young.

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:12-15 (KJV)

The key to helping your flock grow is to encourage, care for and feed all three groups. You need the fathers, who instruct and teach. the “young men” show how, mentor, disciple. And the little children… well, the church needs those as well. But let’s not pay all the attention to the little children who learn slower, and neglect or drive off the young men and fathers!


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???