CHURCH GROWTH OR A NEW FAD
(This article was originally printed in May, 2004)
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal. 3:1)
The modern Church is attempting to fulfill the Great Commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15) and “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mat. 28:19), with an emphasis on numbers, while ignoring or changing the Message of Truth – the Cross. Today Pastors are being offered worldly methods for Church growth that are demon inspired. There are two formidable streams of thought for Church growth flowing in churches all over the world. One is called “The Government of Twelve” originating with Cesar Castellanos. The other is the “seeker sensitive” Church model, with the two largest influences being “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren and Bill Hybel of Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Although both of these streams for Church growth share similar attributes, there are distinct differences which we will address in future articles.
1. Similarities - Both are built on the marketing principle of a pyramid.
Bible – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12).
2. Similarities - Both are designed for control of the laity, with The Government of Twelve being the ultimate in control.
Bible – “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans (the Nicolaitans had ungodly control over the laity), which I also hate” (Rev. 2:6).
“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Rev. 2:15).
3. Similarities - Both have their local Church members sign “covenants” of loyalty and submission to the local Church.
Bible – “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin” (Isa. 30:1).
4. Similarities - Both teach total submission to Church leaders, even if the leader may be in error.
Bible – “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).
5. Similarities - Authority and total submission to the local Church leaders are the key word for these movements. Everyone must be under authority – that is under their authority.
Bible – “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mat. 15:14).
6. Similarities - Both utilize standard cultic mind control methods.
Bible – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1).
7. Similarities - Both practice “enforced giving”: by recording the tithes and offerings of Church members, they can make sure members are giving the correct amount based on their income.
Bible – “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10).
8. Similarities - Members who do not give the correct amount are held back from leadership.
Bible – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11).
9. Similarities - In some instances, Church members are banned from going to, or listening to, other preachers or teachers who are not under their control.
Bible – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of Hell than yourselves” (Mat. 23:15).
10. Similarities - Both control relationship, ordering people to stay away from friends or family outside of their group.
Bible – “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
“But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
“For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mk. 9:38-40).
11. Similarities - Some even demand Christian members to seek permission from their leaders before marrying.
Bible – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (Jn. 16:13).
12. Similarities - Both run a reporting structure where members watch other members and confidential information is passed up through the leadership pyramid.
Bible – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).
13. Similarities - Both employ “time control” by requiring members to be in classes four to five times a week. Endless compulsory meetings are called and members are expected to show up. Failing to come results in punishment of a sort (I will discuss later).
Bible – “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
14. Similarities - The local Church is an important phase in their onslaught. The Government of Twelve claim no Christian work can be outside the local church – “their local Church” (I will discuss later). Both hold Pastors’ conferences and one-on-one meetings to recruit Church leaders to join under their leadership.
Bible – “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
“And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
“And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Mat. 23:5-7).
15. Similarities - Both are systems that bring their members under an ungodly control system like the Roman Catholic Church system with its Cardinals and Bishops.
Bible – “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Mat. 23:4).
16. Similarities - Both call their Sunday morning services “Celebration.”
Bible – THE ABSENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
17. Similarities - Both have the small cell group meetings during the week. All new converts and regular Church attendees are placed in the cell group format with its leaders. The leaders are required to mentor the members of their group, take care of their needs, calling and visiting with them to impart into them the Christian lifestyle.
The local Church and the leaders insert themselves between the Christian and God. Instead of the Christian being convicted by the Holy Spirit the Christian receives false conviction from men. Christians are led by the rules of the Church and not by the Holy Spirit. There is no room for the Holy Spirit to do His work in the life of an individual under their control. The Church controls their lives, their time, their money, their children and creates a dependency on man rather than dependency on the Holy Spirit. Christians who should become stronger become weaker as their dependency on their leaders and the Church organization grows. This is what the Church and its leaders desire since it makes these Christians more controllable. This is a spiritual counterfeit for the workings of the Holy Spirit and it is a slow poison that crushes the spirit of the Christian. Christians find themselves struggling to meet the standards of the group. Constant meetings, the controlling pressure, the stress, and the condemnation from the leadership takes its toll. The Christian tries harder and sadly, family time goes, husband and wives have no time for each other, children suffer, with the Church, and what the Church leader demands, taking up all the time of the Christian. The desire of both Church growth systems is that the Christian be totally controlled by what the Church tells them, with the G-12, as stated, being the most controlling.
Bible – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
“Of sin, because they believe not on me;
“Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
“Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (Jn. 16:7-14).
18. Similarities - Both are ungodly, because they are not Scriptural. The worst offence of all is how they torture Scripture. They twist and take Scripture out of context, using any translation of the Bible they can find to further their cause. The Bible is not read to find God and His Plan. It is used and twisted to show man’s plan.
Bible – “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:16).
Next month I will be explaining these systems in greater detail. They are systems and they are man made. The Holy Spirit through Paul said:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1).