Purpose Driven Problems
How do congregations and pastors deal with change? This is a good case study, provided in a new Wall Street Journal article. It’s a "must read."
Rick Warren states that the divisions in congregations using his "Purpose Driven" materials are to be expected, for "There is no growth without change and there is no
change without loss and there is no loss without pain." Interesting attitude. Apparently it is "ok" for "change agents" to come across with this attitude, with the "ends justifies the means" thinking that I’ve noticed among so-called "missional-minded" pastors. And, I have heard the same thing coming from the mouths of "confessional" pastors. But in either case, I don’t find much "pastoral" about it. I recall how many years Martin Luther patiently introduced change in Wittenberg, never trying to push through significant changes, but doing so only after *years* of patient teaching and instruction. The man didn’t even stop dressing like a monk until nearly eight years after he posted the 95 theses and several years after he got booted from the Roman Catholic Church!
I’ve watched "confessional"
pastors and "church growth" pastors tear congregations apart when they try to railroad and ramrod changes through, so this is not a liberal/conservative phenomenon. Labels also fail at this point, as they so often do. Are "confessional" pastors not interested in the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? Some may give that impression with how they react in knee-jerk fashion to anyting that might be new or different or how they seem to think the future of the church lies in what seems to be nearly a repristination of some "golden era" from the 1580s or 1930s. Are "church growth" pastors not really too interested in doctrine and our Lutheran Confessions? It may seem so when one notices how quickly they speak of mission and doctrine as if they are two different things and how they seem unconcerned to maintain a genuine Lutheran identity in both doctrine *and* practice. Again, this is not a liberal/conservative or confessional/missional issue. I’ve seen guys swoop into parishes that may not have as fully developed a liturgical life as they may think is optimal and institute changes in months and then wonder why people are not too keen on the idea? I’ve seen pastors who believe the key to church growth are PowerPoint screens slap them up with little warning and then wonder why they have a hostile congregation on their hands.
What is interesting, however, is the response that such inept, unpastoral bungling receives. I’ve seen guys wrap themselves in the flag of "orthodoxy" and get buried with it. I’ve seen guys appeal to "mission" and get a free pass. Of course, there are always exceptions to all generalities, but this is what I’ve noticed over the years. Why is this? What does it mean?
Also, it is continually puzzling to me how it is that some non-Lutherans understand the problem with the whole "Purpose Driven" fad while some Lutherans have a hard time coming to grips with these truths. As one pastor puts it in the article: "The Bible’s theme is about
redemption and atonement, not finding meaning and solving problems."
Read the article. You’ll find it interesting.