15 May 2008

Purpose-Driven *Decline*

Over at "Save the LCMS" one "Athanasius" has posted this about the real, realized fruits of the purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive methods used by our Southern Baptist friends. Perhaps the most incisive comments would be: "Let him who has eyes to read understand," and "Let the buyer (of purpose-driven drivel and seeker-sensitive schlock) beware!" Here's the post:

While President Kieschnick is in the middle of transitioning the LCMS into a "Purpose-Driven" denomination the Southern Baptists are actually waking up and realizing that so-called 'culturally relevant' and 'seeker-sensitive methods' are not growing their denomination but are instead shrinking it.

The Christian Post is reporting on statements made by Paige Patterson, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. According to the Christian Post:

Weak preaching and cultural adaptability are just two of many reasons Southern Baptists give to explain the decline of membership and baptisms.

"[T]he shallow state of preaching has exacerbated the lethargy of the church and left the lost with no real Word from God," said Paige Patterson, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in a column in Baptist Press.

"The pastor ought to be the major source of theological understanding and the most able teacher of the Bible,” he added.

"Anemic pulpits create anemic churches and denominations."

Since the release last month of the latest data on Southern Baptist membership and baptisms, both of which declined, Southern Baptists have speculated why the largest Protestant denomination in the country has been seeing lower numbers.

"Well, the time has come to identify the real problems," said Patterson.

Many church leaders have been calling for change to respond to what many identify as a shift from modern to postmodern culture. And the latest statistics showing shrinking numbers has made that call even more urgent. But cultural relevance has led many churches to lose the holiness of God and a thirst to be like God, Patterson noted.

A prominent conservative Southern Baptist, Patterson said he is the first to admit that "dullness and 'Baptist tradition' were too often the rule in our churches." But the suggestion that churches must chase after culture in order to be effective in evangelistic efforts is "misguided," he said.

"The more attune to culture Southern Baptists have become and the more we have incorporated the world into our worship, the more our baptisms have dropped!" Patterson noted. (Emphasis Added)

In other words, adopting Seeker-Sensitive methods viz. Rick Warren's Purpose-Drivenism or Bill Hybels Willowcreek methods will do nothing less than insure the long-term DECLINE of the LCMS.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't surprise me.

Kiesch and the gang are about 5-15 years behind the curve, as usual.

It just kills me when Lutherans latch onto these things. They look really ridiculous.

Let's stick with the tried and true.

Is it really that difficult?

Let's learn from our So. Bapt. brothers and sisters!

He who has ears to hear, let him.

Especially folks at the Purp. Palace, and all of us -- especially those who are tempted by the drive to be purpose-driven and "relevant" (Lord, spare us!)

Randy Asburry said...


Mike said...

Only a fool would say in his heart that God does not exist. When one hears that "still, small voice" I think it natural that someone would look outside of him/her self for understanding. I think what people struggle against is the institutional church. It is difficult to find present relevance in 14th Century hymns and writings. My understanding is that Christianity and culture feed off each other, similar to how a plant and the soil need each other. For all the talk about faith and good works, I don't believe that one can be a Christian, a follower of Christ, and not have their behavior affected. In that context, good works is evidence of faith at work. There is an older movie with Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro called The Mission. In it, Jeremy Irons plays a Jesuit assigned to a jungle village in South America. He converts several villagers and regular Mass is held. While incorporating the proper form and substance of Mass, the villagers add to it by listening to Mass in their native language and using their own instruments to play hymns. At the end of the movie, after the "Institutional Church" has wrecked havoc, what you see is a young girl reaching out for the musical instrument she used to express her faith during Mass. The message I hear is my faith is stronger than the institution. The institution is lead by people, and unfortunately people are prone to mistakes. Certainly, my own Catholic faith is not free from some enormous whoppers. My problem with "The Purpose Driven Life" and much of what passes for cultural relevance is that it reduces church and the religious life to the level of the latest pop diva. Much of what I hear from some of these churches is an encouragement to look inside themselves, find the Christ within, make the message be relevant to you. We as Americans want the easy answer and we want it now. Being a Christian takes work and effort, thought and prayer. Understanding takes time. The problem with cultural relevance is people aren't encouraged to look outside themselves, to be unselfish to seek the "Unmoved Mover". Only a fool would say in his heart that God does not exist. The reason that person is a fool is because they do not recognize from where the presence of God in their hearts comes from.