When A Traditional Church Is Changed By A Non-Traditional Pastor.

Recently I asked a long time friend to give the gist of what is happening in the church she and her husband attend.The Pastor is using Rick Warren’s philosophy and the results are unfortunate.

We have a young pastor(38) and he’s been here 3 years now.In three years he has borrowed $300,000 to “remodel”the sanctuary and refurbish some other areas of the church,installed a pricey sound system,computer program that projects the songs and his sermon notes on the wall.That was reasonable.The church has supported him.He went to two Sunday services and we attended the early 8:30 service and then went to Sunday School.

I began to teach a class that went from 10 members and expanded to 38 in one year(the largest class in our church).Next he added a staff,a youth pastor and next a “ministry team”(huband and wife) for the song service.But of course he ditched the organ(brand new donated from the organist) and purchased key boards,wind instruments,drums,etc.to “modernize”the sound.When a few asked why we just chanted “praise”songs over and over and louder and louder,the Pastor advised us that the Baptist Hymnal had songs in it that were not”scriptural”!When asked specifically”what songs”,he mentioned”I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”He says this is not true,we are now saints!I can’t even find that song in the book and I am just a sinner saved by grace!

Now we have $280,000 still left on the debt and we’re in the 3rd year of his ministry.  He announced in a Sunday School teachers meeting for the new year (this fall) that we were going to 3 services (8:30, 9:45 and 11:00).  We were also “flipping” Sunday School to Sunday night at 6 and no worship service.  But, changing the name of the service from Sunday School to “life empowerment”!

If a teacher, you can have the meeting in your home on any night your group chooses and teach whatever “feels good” for your group!  Managing Finances, Worship, Bible Prophecy, etc. are just a few.  The others can teach from the ole SS quarterly.

So far, the 8:30 and 9:45 services are gaining the most attendance (but neither is crowded).  The 11 AM is very “thin”.

He wants the $280,000 debt paid off ASAP so he can begin “phase II” of the church.  You guessed it, a newer, bigger sanctuary!  From $2 to $5M is his “vision” from God!  His major pitch is “we want to win more souls to Jesus!”  But, most of the people coming in are just from other churches…

He has said, “It’s dangerous to disagree or be a stumbling block to “God’s vision” that he has, it could even cause your untimely death”.  (sounds like a line from the Sopranos!).

I have resigned teaching my class as I can’t go along with his “vision”.  We attend  church but go on Sunday night when it’s convenient.

Attendance is off on Sunday Nights but he says, “that’s ok, if we lose some people,, we’ll just get some more “new” people!”  So much for the 90 and 9 sheep theory!

Keep in mind, jour church is a rural area of a small county.  We are not connected to ______or any other major “boom town”.  The area is not building up because of lack of industry or jobs.

The shameful thing is the debt will kill the church(established in 1954).

He says in almost every service- “If you are not happy here and can’t support God’s plan, perhaps you need to find another church!”

Many of these people have been here at this church for many years with their family(kids,grandchildren,etc).  and they don’t want to “move”, so they keep coming.

He has surrounded himself with “yes people who worship his every thought”.  If you question or show  your lack of support you are put on the “invisible list of non-supporters” and excluded from the visionaries”.

I’m on that list and I’m glad.  I have a peace about my decision to not teach.  It hurt, because I really love to teach and our class had grown so close.  But, I too hear from my Jesus,and He has told ME that “obedience is better than asacrifice”.  I’m called to be obedient and take the narrow road and keep my eyes on the true Shepherd.

Please pray for this church.  I pray that the truth will come forth before  it is too late and the enemy seals the door on another small church being gorged to death by it’s pastor’s desire for fame.

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25 Comments on “When A Traditional Church Is Changed By A Non-Traditional Pastor.”

  1. Jim Says:

    Classic Warrenizing of the church… If enough people make the effort to educate themselves as to what is happening in this church, and refer to elder rule instead of the CEO rule, they can stop this pollution of the Gospel and their congregation.

    Bob DeWaay of Twin City Fellowship is offering his book, Redefining Christianity at a discount for bulk orders. Get this book in enough hands and steer that church back to the Bible!

    See http://www.cicstore.org/servlet/Detail?no=1


  2. Pollution of the Gospel is an accurate descriptionof what is happening in many of our churches.Thanks for ihe info.on the book,Redefining Christianity.

  3. Hans Wunch Says:

    OK, being the anti-debt monger that I am I must ask, “Where does ANY pastor get from the Bible that it is not only OK, but God’s Will, to go into debt?!? Are we to just leave Romans 13:8 and Proverbs 22:7 on the cutting room floor? Not to mention, that Jesus says we will serve one master, God or mammon (AKA money). GRRRR. To me this is the great Biblical ignorance. I am sorry, I didn’t read in the Old Testament where the Israelites took out a bond to build the Temple or the Tabernacle. Peter didn’t run down to Hebrew National Bank to finance his new “worship center”. I would rant more, but I must quit for now.

  4. dwight easler Says:

    I think the debt is the least of their problems Rev. Wunch. It is the idiotic notion that change means that we must become teh next megachurch. Reggie Mcneil has it right in his book ” The Present Future”. Being missional and investing our lives in the Gospel is treason to those who are seeking to become the next big rock star pastor. Its all about numbers and baptisms at all cost. This mentality will leave everything including the Bible to be the next success story.

    A note about debt. Our church has embarked upon a renovation plan because the church for 30 years has not invested any money into maintaining a 60 year old sanctuary and a 40 year old gymnasium. After 8 months of discussions with contractors we accepeted a plan that will cost $730,000. The annual percentage rate upon such a loan is around 7%. The banks and the contractors tell us that building material and labor are rising at a rate of 10% per year. Now I ask you. If a church believes that it is God’s will to do this work to maintain their current buildings what is teh wisest choice? To borrow the money at 7% or wait and acdcept a 10% increase per year. Gaffney High School decided to wait 6 months to discuss a new football stadium and to raise more money before the construction began. After 6 month s the project cost $900,000 more. Just something to think about. I do not know of many churches averaging 150 that can wait around to raise $750,000. I am anti debt as well but that can come back to bite you in the construction world.

  5. dwight easler Says:

    Another note about this situation. Have you ever noticed that these types of leaders completely reject teh doctrine of the priesthood of believers? Their attitude is that the pastor is the only one that could possibly have a vision of God’s future. I find this to be a huge problem. These types of leaders find themselves isolated because they think they are the only ones that could possibly know God’s will.

    Jim Herrington said in his work that there are 8 necessary things that must take place if positive change will take place in any congregation.

    1. Spiritual Preparation
    2. Urgency to Change
    3. A Coalition of leaders
    4. An established purpose and vision
    5. Continuous communication of the vision
    6. Empowerment of leaders to make the change
    7. Implementation of the vision
    8. Reinforcement of the change

    I just wonder from what I am reading above if the pastor ever talked with any of the congregation about their vision for God’s finest future. I wonder if there is a “my way or the highway” attitude, or if there was ever any discussion about bringing the church leadership to the table to seek God’s will for the future. I do not claim to be the smartest and most inovative of pastors, but I have learned enough to know that a shepherd walks with the sheep he doesn’t drag them or drive them. People who have the Spirit of the Lord living within them can know just as much as I do about what God wants us to change.

  6. Hans Wunch Says:

    Dwight, I don’t disagree with you that the big problem is the preacher’s big ego. THAT said, what would I do about debt? I wouldn’t do it. Here is what I know, God’s economy is not man’s economy. Think about this. Study what the scriptures say about debt. If you come to the same conclusion I do, then maybe this is a test for the church. Think along the lines of the parable of the talents. Maybe it will help you take a long hard look at what is necessary and what is a desire (want vs need).

    Here are some ways I know (and have seen) God bless a church that made a decision to get out of debt.
    1. A church member gets a new higher paying job and is a tither (or more)
    2. A church member dies and leaves money to the church
    3. People catch the vision and decide to invest in their church.
    4. A church member gets a insurance settlement, sells some property, etc etc

    Here are some things that I have seen when churches go into debt.
    1. Their CP giving goes down because they think it would be a wiser use of their funds to take care of their “needs”
    2. Mission support goes down and God doesn’t bless the church as much
    3. A large employer (who many of the church members work at) starts laying off folks, moving people etc. I heard of one church recently that went into debt, before the debt they had a full time pastor and music minister and a part-time youth worker. Now because the jobs left, the pastor had to go bi-vocational and the music and youth guy were forced to move.

  7. dwight easler Says:

    We are spending this entire month discussing stewardship. We have distributed “The Treasure Principle” to every family in our congregation. I believe in biblically training people about debt and proper money management. However, would you ask your congregation to never buy a house through a mortgage? I know of no one I repect more on money management than Larry Burkette and he never said that. Instead he said you must consider secured debt a necessary investment. Would you not consider debt on church buildings in the same manner? Just a thought.

    Just a point of information. I served a church for 6 years that gave 45% of its budget toCP and they still give $10,000 or more to Lottie Moon. I know what its like to struggle with balancing local ministry and missions with CP giving. I am not advocating cutting anything.


  8. Hans,
    Could you find it in your heart to loan me $150.00 for ninety days.I hate to ask,but the “need”outweighs the pride.
    I approached Quinn Hooks,but he has an eight year old son.Also Chadwick Ivester excused himself.He spent $150.00 for surgery on his 10 year old dog.Ironically the Vet he uses is the same Vet that Patsy and I see for our personal illnesses.we can not afford a real medical Physician.Hans,if you are not able to come to our aid,we wil understand.We will read our Bibles by candle light and take only half of our medicine.
    Thanks in advance for your response.
    Humbly,
    Bill
    PS.We plan to vote for you in Nov.

  9. dwight easler Says:

    He wants the $150 in advance because he is still waiting on me to graduate or retire from New Orleans DMIN program. Upon my graduation or retirement he will recieve $150 for being my field mentor. If you could help him that would be great. I am sure he had already spent the money thinking that I would graduate soon and now he has to pay the bills. I cannot help him because my son who just turned 8 decided that he wanted a motorcycle for his birthday, my dog has to have her 4th cancer surgery, and deer season is approaching and I need to ensure my own safety with a new deer stand.

  10. chadwick Says:

    Hans & Dwight,

    hottub could really use the $150 dollars. My wife invited hottub and his wife for my birthday supper back in July. My wife grilled four BIG rib-eye steaks . . . hottub put TWO rib-eye steaks in his plate, hoping no one would notice! My wife asked him to please put one steak back . . . hottub acted like he didn’t know he had TWO steaks. I think he may be blowing all his grocery money trying to frame Marshall Fagg, and therefore goes to people’s houses trying to get as much free food as possible.

    Please send the money to hottub’s wife so that she can get themselvs some groceries.

    chadwick


  11. It was the “Pre-dinner”wine that confused me.

  12. Hans Wunch Says:

    Bill, if you need $150 I would give it too you. When we go to lunch of course.


  13. Hans,
    Thank you so much.We could meet for lunch in Florence this Nov.at the SC State Convention.I will be staying at the Salvation Army facility.Just call there and ask for “Poore.”You did understand that it’s $150.00 and not $1.50 didn’t you?Please don’t toy wiith my emotions

  14. Quinn Hooks Says:

    Ashley is a girl, Bill ;) Melissa had her hair cut real short for the hot summer months. :) Ashley also wants to point out she is 8 and a half! LOL
    I will say that I have served as pastor to two churches that would not go into debt. At my first church, the education building and fellowship hall was burnt down (before I got there! However, lightning did strike the pastor’s office and started the fire). We were told to close our doors and join the “mega” church down the road. I would be given a staff position till I could find another church. (How nice) It amazed me to see how God blessed us and poured out His riches upon us. We had donations of 20k and 50k given to the church. People gave what they had and God blessed. We were able to build the new education building and fellowship hall within one year and for less than 100k of projected costs. We called it “God’s building project” in the community.
    Oh, we have traditional services and attendance has grown where I am now. Preaching the Word is more effective than having a hot tub for a baptism pool! ;)

  15. dwight easler Says:

    O great that is the room you reserved for us! I think I will sleep in my car. I spent most of my convention money going to San Antonio anyway.

  16. dwight easler Says:

    Maybe I need to set my office on fire! Thanks for the stewardship idea. Don’t tell the convention they will take it and make a program out of it. They will call it, “Stewardship on Fire!” and charge you $6000 for consultation fees. That could be money in your bank! Hurry and copywrite it.


  17. Quinn,
    I knew it was either a boy or a girl.Lightning struck our church two and a half years ago right after I became pastor there.Covered by insurance.
    I can truthfully say that 3 months after I became pastor at Calvary,the church caught on FIRE.Unfortunately it was the Church Building……..


  18. Dwight,Read Phil.4:11

  19. Quinn Hooks Says:

    I wish more pulpits would catch on fire1 ;)

  20. dwight easler Says:

    You two do not tolerate joking very well. If I am going to sleep at the salvation army during the convention I am coming into the business sessions with an ax to grind.


  21. Dwight,
    Why can’t we all just get along?’

  22. Quinn Hooks Says:

    Hmmm, Dwight, the Civic Center has metal detectors. :) LOL


  23. [...] When A Traditional Church Is Changed By A Non-Traditional Pastor. [...]


  24. [...] When a Rick Warren clone takes over. When A Traditional Church Is Changed By A Non-Traditional Pastor. [...]

  25. Lisa Says:

    To many comments to read but look out for Pharisees. Anytime you have a church that talks about you not being able to have your own thoughts and telling you what you should think verses teaching how to think you have a problem. God may be moving you to a church with more heart.


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