Monday, October 3, 2011


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Below there are two separate vision statements from two separate churches; The Crossing church in Elk River, Minnesota, and Elevation Church in Charlotte North Carolina. Examine, compare, and contrast  both statements and ask yourself, "What is peculiar about these two value statements from two separate churches?"
1. The Church of Jesus is the only hope for this world. We orbit our personal finances, schedules and talents around the mission of His church.
2. We are united under the visionary. The Crossing is built on the Vision God gave Pastor Eric. We aggressively defend our unity and his vision.
3. We are an invasion force, not a fortress. We invade our city with Christ. We dont hide from the city and condemn people. We are alway missional.
4. We are a hospital, not a cathedral. We believe Jesus came for broken, addicted, average people, NOT religious people. Therefore everyone is welcome, no one is perfect and anything is possible. WE are a safe place for a dangerous message.
5. It’s all about the weekend, Stupid! We focus the majority of our resources, staff and time on our greatest chance to influence the greatest amount of people.
6. We target man unapologetically. If we reach a dude, we reach the family 85% of the time. So we unapologetically target our services to 20-30 something, beer-drinking, McDonald’s-eating men who think church is a waste of time.
7. We need your seat. We will not cater to personal preferences in our mission to reach the city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep. WE want our back door working properly.
8. We act with racial faith. In order to make a city the hardest place on earth to go to hell from, we will not think small. We set impossible goals, take bold steps of faith and watch God move..
9. We lead with generosity. Our staff and leaders go above and beyond to give sacrificially to the work of God in our city.
10. We are Starbucks, not Old Country Buffet. Simplicity enables excellence. Therefore, we only do a few things, but we do them well. We do weekend services, Crossing Recovery, Small Groups and Cellar Classes. That is ALL we do.
11. We are all about the numbers. Every number is a life influenced. We unapologetically set goals and measure progress so we can influence more lives for God’s kingdom.
12. We are a generation of honor. We freely give honor to those about us, beside us and under us because of the calling and potential God has placed inside of them.
13. The 2-2-2 principle. 2 Tim 2:2 says every Jesus follower needs to teach someone to know what they know and do what they do. Each volunteer apprentices him/herself so the church can move ahead
14. We will not take this for granted. What we are experiencing is not normal. This is the highest calling, and will remain grateful for God’s had of favor.
  1. We Act in Audacious Faith – In order to dominate a city with the gospel of Jesus, we can’t think small. We will set impossible goals, take bold steps of faith and watch God move.
  2. We Are a Generation of Honor – We freely give honor to those above us, beside us and under us because of the calling and potential God has placed inside of them.
  3. We Lead the Way in Generosity – Our staff and church will go above and beyond to give sacrificially to the work of God in our city.
  4. We Are United Under One Vision – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.
  5. We Need Your Seat – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.
  6. We Think Inside the Box – We will embrace our limitations. They will inspire our greatest creativity and innovation.
  7. We Dress for the Wedding – We will continually increase our capacity by structuring for where we want to go, not where we are. We will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives.
  8. We Are Ruth's Chris, Not Golden Corral – Simplicity enables excellence. We place a disproportionate value on creating a worship experience that boldly celebrates Jesus and attracts people far from God.
  9. We Are All About the Numbers – Tracking metrics measures effectiveness. We unapologetically set goals and measure progress through all available quantitative means.
  10. We Eat the Fish and Leave the Bones
  11. We Are Known for What We Are For – We will speak vision and life over our people. We will lift up the salvation of Jesus rather than using our platform to condemn.
  12. We Will Not Take This for Granted – What we are experiencing is not normal. This is the highest calling, and we will remain grateful for God’s hand of favor.
Well, its is obvious that there are striking similarities between both value statements. In fact, some of the points in each statement have the exact same wording. This is peculiar because both churches are hundreds and hundreds of miles apart from each other.
Another peculiarity of these two value statements is that they are both called "THE CODE"; you can see this on their respective church's websites. And within "The Code" is the claim that each church is built on the vision that God gave each pastor. 

So you have two separate churches hundreds of miles apart, both have strikingly similar value statements, and each value statement is called "THE CODE", and embedded in each "Code", is a claim that their church is built on a vision that the pastor received from God. Doesn't that just seem a little bit odd to you? So what is going on?


This is what's going on. There is a disturbing trend in the evangelical community today that is an offshoot of the "Church Growth Movement", otherwise known as the "Seeker-Sensitive" model. A recent sub-set of the Seeker-Friendly model emerged several years ago called the "Purpose-Driven model".  The links provided offer a brief explanation of these Church-Growth models and the problems associated with them. Basically these are models are built on the faulty premise that if a church is not growing, it is not a healthy church. So in order to grow a church, the church must attract un-churched people to visit their church by making church more attractive and exciting, and salving their felt needs. 


In a Seeker-Sensitive church there is appealing contemporary music (forget those old hymns), dramas, theatrical lighting, and slick Power Point slide shows to match the sermon points. The atmosphere is to be fun and exciting! The pulpit is devoid of any real biblical teachings. Unpopular yet critical Christian doctrines like Sin, Hell and the Wrath of God are rarely if ever mentioned; because after all, if you start preaching about unpopular doctrines, then people might not come back! Sermons are usually short, intertwined with personal stories revolving around a single topic relevant to un-churched people in the community.  

And not only that, the Seeker-Sensitive church offers services to the un-churched designed to appeal to their felt needs; everything from game rooms to cafes to laundromats are available to appeal to the un-churched. Thus the Seeker-Sensitive church becomes a business commodity wooing people through its doors with messages and features that appeal to un-churched people's sensibilities. 

This does not accord with what the Scriptures teach about the institution of the Christian Church. The Church is not just a building but the population of believers who have been saved through faith by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A Church then, as revealed in the Bible, is a congregation of God's people under the leadership of qualified elders who preach the Gospel, shepherd God's people, and equip the congregation to proclaim the  Gospel to an unbelieving world. In other words, the Church is primarily, but not exclusively, for believers.

The "Purpose-Driven" model is all of what the seeker-sensitive model is, with an emphasis on "doing more" to serve God. At issue is the character of founder of the Purpose Driven movement, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, California. He has written two best sellers, "The Purpose-Driven Life", and "The Purpose-Driven Church".

The problem with Warren's books is that he begins with a premise, and then twists Scripture to support his premise. He employs multiple translations of the Bible, some of which are very, very poor translations in that they do not effectively communicate the original intent of the biblical author. Any time a pastor purposefully does this, he is engaging in deception. 

The major victims in these unbiblical models are the very people they are trying to save, because in a Seeker-Sensitive environment the Gospel can become so watered down that it has no efficacy to save. I believe that the vast majority of pastors who employ the Seeker-Sensitive tactics described are sincere in their motives to reach the lost, but they are either spiritually blind, deceived, or they do not obey the doctrine of the Church taught in the Scriptures.

The problem with unbiblical, yet well intentioned trends like the Seeker-Sensitive model is that they can transform, or morph into something it was never intended to be. Specifically, the Seeker-Sensitive model is currently being hijacked and reinvented by false teachers into a seductive, yet dangerous and spiritually toxic brand of Christianity. This disturbing trend is growing in popularity across the country, and the results are devastating!

Here are some of features that these "churches" have in common.... 
  • These churches are lead by a single pastor with virtually no accountability from within their church.
  • These "pastors" claim to have received visions from God on how to conduct their ministry. This contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture and thus they are false teachers and false prophets.
  • In the mind of these false teachers, anyone who questions their beliefs and practices is to question God's authority. Therefore, anyone indoctrinated into this type of church must follow their leader blindly, with unquestioning obedience and submission. 
  • These false teachers preach a false gospel with an emphasis on performing good works and doing more for their church in order to receive blessings from God. Followers are often disciplined for not doing enough or failing to fulfill a particular goal set by their leader. Suspiciously absent from their sermons is any mention of the Gospel.  
  • These false teachers downplay the importance of Scripture and doctrine, mocking anyone who wants to go deeper into God's Word. The leaders imply that they are now the mouthpiece of God, not the Scriptures.
  • These false teachers are typically young males, charismatic, authoritarian, bold, aggressive, vulgar, and sacrilegious. They say and do provocative things for shock value. They often berate and intimidate those in attendance, belittling them for not thinking or behaving in a certain way. The church therefore, becomes a "cult-of-personality", with their outrageous leader as the focal point.
  • These false teachers blaspheme the Holy Lord of Hosts with irreverent speech, crude references, and idolatrous depictions of the Christian God. 
  • These false teachers are obsessed with money, and apply guilt trips among other bullying tactics to strong arm followers into giving more money to their church. 
  • These false teachers insist that their faithful followers commit all their time, talents, and resources to the church in order to fulfill their self-exalting, never-ending mission to reach the world for Christ.
  • These false teachers leave a wide path of personal and spiritual destruction that damns souls, destroys relationships, and causes deep, serious, life-altering scars to those who have been excommunicated or who have decided to leave on their own.
  • These false teachers instruct their followers never to have any contact with those who leave the church, for whatever reason. 
  • These false teachers are very deceptive and cunning. They proclaim to do ministry in the name of Christ, and always say their mission is to bring people to Christ. They proclaim that God is moving and active in their ministry. They pray , quote Scripture, often condemning orthodox Christianity as a brand of religion that Jesus would condemn. Overall these false teachers appear convincing and authentic.   
 Now doesn't that sound suspiciously like a cult? 

WHO IS GETTING INVOLVED?  This  trend I am talking about here is not an isolated case; it is ubiquitous, and it is gaining in popularity across the country. The leaders seem to target young, undiscerning people and families, many of whom have various addictions and problems. These vulnerable people cling to what these false teachers offer, a sense of community and a sense of purpose by doing something for God. More and more people are getting suckered into these deceptive cults.   

I believe for several reasons. Money, power and influence, selfish gain. I don't know if there is any kind of conspiracy among these false teachers, I truly doubt it. They probably do learn from each other though. I happen to think that once this abhorrent model took hold in some churches, other spiritual predators saw the opportunity and potential for their own personal gain. They took the model and tweaked it to their own preference, and just like that you they now have their very own personal cult. And the bigger the cult grows, and the faster it spreads into surrounding communities, the more difficult it is to stop, which means more more money, power, prestige, and influence for the cult-leader.
So what does this have to do with "The Code"? The Code is what makes the whole thing work, at least in the case of The Crossing church and Elevation church. The Code is like a computer operating system that must be installed into the hardware of the unwary, biblically illiterate seeker. The old operating system must be removed and the new one installed, otherwise, no cult. And if there is no cult, then there is no money, no power, no influence, no prestige, etc.

 Once The Code is firmly established into a person ("Indoctrination" in cult-speak) then the leader can have it their way with that person. Once they commit to faithfully following their leader, and the longer they stay in the cult, it becomes more and more difficult to leave. Why? Pride is one reason. Who wants to admit that they have been fooled for so long, and that they have wasted all their precious time, their energy, their resources, and their talents on a system that is so destructive? So people end up lying to themselves, deceiving themselves into thinking that they are on a good and noble path. 

The other reason is intimidation and threats by the cult-leader and other followers. People involved in cults know that there will be dire consequences if they leave. They know that they will be ostracized, they might even fear for their own safety. This brand of false teacher and his followers will often insinuate that to leave the church is to leave God.


So that is the dangerous trend. Some of these cults have thousands of followers, and many more daughter churches than the three Dykstra has. But I think Dykstra has bold and aggressive plans to nurture and grow his cult into a monster. Let's stop this thing before its too late! Casey
"Fighting the Good Fight: A Gospel Ministry"                                                 

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