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By Jim Robinson                                                                                                                  Posted January 23, 2008

          A few years ago, a certain pastor was concerned about why his church was not growing.  To get some information about his members’ personal lives, he passed out cards to everyone one Sunday, asking them to write down the call letters of the radio station they listen to most when at home.  He reported later that ninety-six to ninety-seven percent of the returned cards showed that his congregation listened to adult, contemporary rock music.

          Now, one might think the pastor would take to the pulpit the very next Sunday, tear his ash-sprinkled sackcloth in front of the congregation, and say, “Brothers and Sisters, this ought not to be!”—and then preach a heartfelt sermon on 2 Corinthians 6: 17: Come out from among them, and be ye separate!  He might even open the altars at the end and urge his members to make a fresh personal commitment, and pray that God would bring revival and renewal to the church.  At least, that’s what one might hope would happen.  That is what would have happened in most evangelical churches a few years ago.

          In this case, that isn’t even close to what happened.  This pastor decided that instead of fighting the 2000-year-old battle that has constantly been fought—between the church and its surrounding culture—he would capitulate and change the church to fit the culture.  And, he did just that.  Not only with the style of music, but with almost everything else.  The pastor’s name is Rick Warren, his church is Saddleback Church in California, and his philosophy has turned evangelicalism upside-down.

          Warren wasn’t the first to put this revolutionary concept into practice, and by no means is he the only major player, but with his popular Purpose Driven books, he has made the most emphatic impact upon the church world.  Somehow, Warren and his “postmodern” contemporaries have convinced pastors and congregations that change (and they are talking about radical change!) is inevitable and necessary for the church’s survival.

          It seems not to matter that this same message has been proclaimed since apostolic times, only to be rebuffed by Godly defenders of the faith.  It seems not to matter that both Jesus and Paul warned us to stay the course in the face of last-day deception.  It seems not to matter that the New Testament warns us that the true church and the world will never be on good terms.  All that matters, it seems, is making our churches “friendly” to the very world that has done its best to destroy the institution for which Jesus gave His life.  Our grandfathers and grandmothers, who fought against “worldly” influences “to the death”, would be ashamed of our gullibility.

          So, we have “megachurches” now (and churches that are determined to become such) competing with one another over the masses of people who are discovering that “church can be fun.”  Not only are we playing (very loudly) the music that satisfies the crowds, but we are asking the wicked, idolatrous culture to which we are pandering, “What other changes would make you happy?”

          And, listening to them, we have thrown out exegetical preaching, discipleship programs, and prayer meetings.  We have brought in coffee shops, cafes, and boutiques.  Karate, Yoga, and dance classes are offered in midweek “group meetings” (sanitized, and Christianized, of course).  Sunday “celebrations” are like parties, with laser lights, ear-shattering sound, hugs, and high-fives.  “Ministry of the Word” consists of a short “how-to” homily (spiced up with movie clips) about being successful and happy, and everything winds up with an invitation for interested “pre-members” to attend a coffee-and-cookie klatch following the service.

          It’s just a good thing that Rick Warren didn’t also ask for people to write down “What kind of clothing do you like to wear at home?”

          Oh, wait . . . evidently, he did.      What are your thoughts on this article?