Friday, March 17, 2006

Purpose Driven Failure


The so-called Evangelical world and "Church Growth Movement" is full of success stories and very rich folk. Do this, try that, and you'll be blessed beyond measure. Especially if you give more of your money. And if you aren't being blessed, it's your fault. It's full of Pat Robertsons, Rick Warrens, Joel Osteens, and the like.

It's also full of "successful" churches. By that I mean "churches" whose mission it is to entertain, coddle, and make its members "feel good" about themselves. No, or little, preaching of the law and gospel. Just a bunch of how-to-have-it-good-in-this-life psychobabble. And people flock to them in droves. They go over here for awhile, then they go over there for awhile, always looking for the next, best, exciting thing.

And people try to use "the numbers" as evidence of God's blessing. Just like they use money as a sign of God's blessing.

Well, there's lots of things to say about that. That is of scripture. The reality is that life is a struggle until the day you die. And if you're NOT struggling, you better take a good look at yourself. The flesh calls to have it's way. Satanic forces surround us. The world entices us. And Christ himself promises if you follow him you WILL bear a cross. Doesn't sound like a recipe for a successful church in 21st century America to me. But at least its a faithful message to what the Bible teaches.

So, what am I leading up to? Well, this post is going to take a turn from the serious to the fun.

The fact is that not everyone who subscribes to "Church Growth-Purpose Driven Life-Willow Creek-Joel Osteen" Christianity succeeds.

For every Purpose Driven Life success, there are lots of failures. Things that didn't "draw the masses" like it was anticipated.

Scottius Maximus Investigative Agency, another subsidiary of Scottius Maximus Enterprises, has uncovered several campaigns by Evangelical American Churches that failed to pack them in.

Here are the "Purpose Driven Failures":

Wrestle-mania Sunday- "Wrestle with the devil- and win" sounded like a good sermon series to the pastors and elders at Indiana's New Beginnings Church. However, the church was forced to close when their insurance refused to pay medical bills for the 3 people with broken vertebrae, 6 people with shoulder dislocations, 19 people with torn cartilage, and 40 people with lacerations- all the result of a 350 lb. escapee from the local psych ward showing up and claiming to be the devil.

Disco Demolition Night- Everyone remembers the Old Comiskey Park in Chicago, home of the White Sox for 80 years. And everyone should remember the disastrous Disco Demolition Night in 1979 that sparked a riot and almost destroyed the stadium. Well everyone does, except the good folks of the Church of the Harvest in Iowa. The community was invited to bring their old disco records and burn them to renounce the satanic influences of dancing. Let's just say this- the Comiskey Park fiasco looked like a girl scout campfire compared to the carnage that ensued at that church.

Beef Jerky Day- At a non-denominational church in Ohio, ushers were instructed to hand out free packages of beef jerky to anyone who might be a "seeker". Unfortunately the Holy Roller Church across the street had Fried Egg Day at the same time. Since more people like eggs than beef jerky, the concept never got off the ground.

The Bill Orpine Memorial Sunday In The Fight Against Hemorrhoids- Deeds Not Creeds Lutheran Church in Missouri thought it would be a good deed to relieve the suffering from hemorrhoids sufferers in their 5,000 member church by handing out free Preparation H at the door. Considering the offer too embarrassing and too personal, and not wanting others to think they had a hemorrhoid problem, all but 56 people stayed home that Sunday.

Illegal Alien Sunday- Anyone bringing an illegal alien to a non-denom church in a small Illinois town, to be promptly handed over to a US INS agent, would receive an "anointing" at the altar with promises of great blessings in the next year.

The Anton Levay Invite A Satanist To Church Night- Who needs the gospel more than someone worshipping Lucifer? At least that was the idea of one of the deacons of "New Paradigm Lutheran Church" in Nebraska. It didn't work out so well, as the sanctuary was overrun by unbathed vampires on Harleys. Whether the church burned down accidently or on purpose is currently under investigation.

Soap Night and Get Your Oil Changed For Free Night- Whether in part or in full, these two "themes" were inspired to try to "make good" on the Anton Levay disaster. Soap for the unbathed, and an oil change for the motorcycles.

Bring Your Cholesterol Level To Church Sunday- Anyone with high cholesterol was encouraged to bring copies of their blood work and place them on the altar, where a special envoy from Oral Roberts University would pray over it. Litigation is pending as the pastor who came up with the idea suffered a heart attack the next day.

6 comments:

stangmasterflash said...

hmmm... While I'm not sure where all the hate comes from at the beginning of your post, those are some humorous tries at growing the Kingdom.
What I find disturbing though is that you are seeming to lump all the large churches in America together... So you are anti large church? It's really not about the numbers. It's about being faithful to God, and to his teachings. I think every church may have some things they don't do just right. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are not any perfect churches anywhere. That, we'll have to wait until heaven for. In the meantime, rather than spreading hatred and bashing other churches that are doing the best they can to follow God's calling and be faithful to what He has asked them to do... well... I guess examine your own life and make sure that you are doing what He has called you to do.

Scottius Maximus said...

I guess in your world "spreading hate" is calling out false prophets and false doctrine. That is the only thing I am guilty of here. Except maybe some lame attempts at humor. And I am glad to do both.

I am not anti-large church. You have completely lost the point. So let me explain it to you. There are many churches faithful to preaching the law and gospel, both large and small. Conversion is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man. But the focus of much of American Evangelicalism is on what man is doing for God- do this or don't do that, and God will bless you with riches in this world. That is false teaching, and therefore all who proclaim that message are false prophets. Period. It is really that simple.

See, let's go back to Lutheran 101.
1- The Law must be preached to show us how utterly depraved we are. I am exhibit A on depravity, I'm sure you'll agree. If the focus of the church is to "build up and never tear down", then I assume the law cannot be preached, for the proper preaching of the law can only bring despair. So that I only approach God as the beggar I am, totally deserving of wrath. Only a beggar and a guilty man, of which I am both, needs a savior.

2- The Gospel must then be preached. The Good News of WHAT GOD HAS DONE (notice, not man) through the perfect life and atoning work on the cross. That for Christ's sake, God has forgiven the sins of the whole world. And that God is merciful because of His great love. I have nothing to offer God.

That is the Gospel. If anyone preach another Gospel other than this, let him be damned.

"I guess examine your own life and make sure that you are doing what He has called you to do."

Well, I do everyday. That is what we all have to do. And do you want to know what? I find myself incredibly wanting in the area of righteousness. So make no mistake about it. I am a terribly sinful man. I can no more do what God has called me to do than I can keep the law perfectly. And neither can you. Or anyone else.

So what is your point here? To point out my sinful "hatred"? It must be.

I have and continue to break all the law. But hating darkness is not wrong. To which, I can only repeat- I hate false prophets, false churches, and false gospels.

Lutheran Lucy said...

Excellent points Scottius!

Scottius Maximus said...

Thanks again, Luce.

stangmasterflash said...

I agree, we should definitely call out false prophets, false gospels, churches that preach a false gospel... I'm just not sure how ALL of the churches that you mentioned fit into that category. I am aware of some reputations and rumors about these churches, but have you actually studied and attended these churches to back up your statements? It sounds like you are arguing against the "health wealth" gospel, which I assure you that WCCC and Saddleback are strongly against. Rick Warren for example still lives simply, gave back his salary for his whole time at the church and now does a reverse tithe- lives on 10% and gives the church 90%!!

I guess I'm just asking you to keep it real... If you're gonna call out false teachings, do your own homework, and don't settle for what someone else says they think they heard... Don't even settle for what you yourself heard and think you know the reason behind it... make sure you're 100% right.

I haven't searched your blog much, so if you have some hard and fast evidence for your claims I am willing to hear it.

Scottius Maximus said...

Good point. I've never been 100% right about anything. But I don't really have to document anything at all. (I can if you want further evidence). This discussion can end by directing the reader to the following websites:
1. "http://www.willowcreek.org/"

I'll let the site speak for itself with no commentary from me. Explore it. And I'll let the reader reach their own conclusion.

2. "http://www.saddleback.com/flash/default.htm"

Let me direct the reader especially to Saddleback's "What We Believe Page" and see what you find:
"http://www.saddleback.com/flash/believe.html"

How about this? A recent "message" from Rick Warren:
"http://www.saddleback.com/flash/message.html"

Let the reader discern where the law and gospel's places are at these churches. The purpose of the church is to preach the law and gospel. Period. I can go to a psychologist or counselor to get principles for living, although it might, maybe, cost me a little more.

If this is not enough, please let me know. I have plenty more for you to chew on.