Purpose-Driven Church Movement

What's the Answer to the Purpose-Driven church Movement?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
We need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible, and submit to the Bible itself.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself." - Dr. Gary E. Gilley, This Little Church Went to Market

Dr. Gilley deals with today's question in his book, This Little Church Went to Market: Is the Modern Church Reaching Out or Selling Out? What he has to say forms a fitting conclusion to our series answering questions about the Purpose-Driven Church movement -

"1 Timothy 3:15 describes the mission of the church as being the pillar and support of the truth. Whatever else the church does, it must take this commission from God seriously. No one but God's church is interested in such a project - it falls on God's people, the true church, to be the one place where truth is believed, upheld, and gloriously proclaimed. Of course, the truth that the church has to offer has a source - the Word of God. All the church does must emerge from the Scriptures. Every method, program, evangelistic effort, and message the church declares must find its roots firmly planted in biblical truth.

"This leads us to Warren's and his imitators' Achilles' heel: Warren does not begin with the Bible. At first glance, 'The Purpose-driven' programs and message are quite attractive. They seem to speak the language of the people; they are successful; they are saturated with Scripture, much of its teaching is on the mark. Further, many who promote The Purpose-driven Life are sincere and well-meaning. But upon closer examination there is a fly in the soup. It is no ordinary fly either - it is a huge monstrosity, filled with deadly poison. We can attempt to ignore the fly, hoping all will be well, but ultimately we must either deal with the fly or allow it to alter our soup to something altogether different.

"What is the fly? It is this - Warren does not begin with Scripture, he begins with people. His church was started on the basis of a survey asking people what they wanted in a church. He quizzes the congregation on the kind of secular music they like and provides that kind of music. He starts with the felt-needs of people and then crafts a message to meet those needs. He determines what he believes people want to hear and then goes to Scripture to find support for his philosophy of ministry.

"It is right here that we need to step back and carefully examine the purpose-driven philosophy. I have found if you skip the foundation underlying any system that the superstructure can appear beautiful - for a time. Again take Mormonism. Its outward emphasis on family values and morals is certainly winsome. It is its foundation which is faulty. By the same token we need to examine The Purpose-driven Life's foundation. Has it been laid after careful study of the Scriptures? Or are its building blocks made of secular fads, philosophies and pragmatism, mortared together with careless use of Scripture? If the latter is your conclusion, as it is mine, what are we to do?

"Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God's stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself. In our local church we have dropped all commercial Sunday school curriculum - which has been watered down to the point of uselessness and simply teach the Bible. Our 4-5 years old are being taught selected Bible stories. Ages 6-7 will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in those 2 years. Ages 8-9 will go through the Bible yet again. Ages 10-11 are being taught hermeneutics and Bible study methods and applying those methods to the study of the epistles. Ages 12-13 are taught Bible-college-level courses on systematic theology. High school students are taught the Bible with emphasis on biblical discernment. At this level many of them begin to teach children as well as their peers. All adult courses are focused on the study of Scripture, along with classes on church history, theology, and biblical living. All sermons are verse-by-verse expositions of the Word. Certainly our teachers use commentaries and Bible study aids but it is the Scriptures themselves that are studied.

"I have found an amazing thing when people are fed a steady diet of biblical truth they have little craving for cotton-candy fads. Why would anyone trade in the fountain of life for cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13)? Of course many have and do, but the solution is not to crawl into the cistern, it is to showcase the fountain.

"But this 'return to the Bible' approach has one fatal problem - we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. If we do not believe that God's Word is sufficient, then we will not showcase it. If we do not believe in the final authority of the Word then we will look for alternatives. What the church and the world need today are men and women of God who believe with all of their hearts in the sufficiency of his Word. We need a church that is not ashamed of Christ and his Word (Luke 9:26), a church that will boldly proclaim the truth from the housetops. It is reported that Charles Spurgeon once said, 'There is no need for you to defend a lion when he's being attacked. All you need to do is open the gate and let him out.' With Spurgeon, I believe it is time to once again open the gate and let the Word do its work."1

 

References:

 

1. Gary E. Gilley, This Little Church Went to Market: Is the Modern Church Reaching Out or Selling Out? (Darlington, United Kingdom: Evangelical Press, revised and updated edition, 2005), pages 112-114.

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