Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some Never Learn

I know that this is not new news any more, and others have already commented on this, but I will give my two cents any way. Bill Hybels has apparently had a life changing experience after the facts revealed through their evaluation of their ministry. After years of instructing multitudes of churches and leaders about how they should be doing church, they have come to realize that what they have been doing has not been grounding people in Scripture and maturing them in the faith. As Phil Johnson pointed out in his post, isn’t this what many have been warning about for years, because Willow Creek was failing to follow a Biblical model for ministry? And it is only now, as a result of their own poll, that they have realized the truth. Wouldn’t they have avoided all of this had they followed a Scriptural model of church ministry?

What is frustrating is that there is not really any hint of true repentance for their actions. The only remedy they are going to offer apparently, is some new program for training on how the congregation can read, learn and apply the Bible for themselves. Now, I think that teaching people how they can read and learn the Bible for themselves is extremely important and certainly should be a fundamental part of what a church does. And it is also true that Christians should not rely solely on the church to provide all of their spiritual nourishment, spoon-feeding them all truth. Christians need to take responsibility for their spiritual growth. But in addition, God has ordained that there should be leadership that assists with that process as well. (Ephesians 4:11-16) And the church is biblically obligated to provide solid Bible teaching to help believers grow. This is why Paul exhorted Timothy to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 3:15, NASB) Pastoral leadership is to labor in the Word of God, seeking to teach with precision and accuracy. In fact, those who "work hard", putting forth greater effort at preaching and teaching are considered worthy of greater honor (1 Timothy 5:17). This describes seeking to teach the more in-depth truths of Scripture. That is fundamental to contributing to the spiritual maturity of the congregation. Simply offering what is essentially a do-it-yourself kit is not going to achieve what they think. People need to be exposed consistently to solid biblical preaching. Also fundamental to the ministry is a mutual exhortation and accountability, and this can only occur as members have opportunities to share biblical truth with one another, challenging one another.
What is even more astounding though is what else is taking place at Willow Creek. You would think that after their discovery, they would be inclined to return to the Word of God, and be even more vigilant to make reforms to align themselves with Scripture. But instead, they are now cozying up with leadership in the emerging church, scheduling Brian McLaren as a keynote speaker at their youth conference. This is not the first time that they shared the platform with an emerging leader. They have had Rob Bell speak as a guest at their church before. So perhaps it is a case where they are exchanging one error for another jumping on the Emergent bandwagon.

But a similar revelation was also shared by Gilbert Bilezikian some time ago. Bilezikian was one of the founders of Willow Creek.

But these sudden revelations that what they have been doing has not proven beneficial has been realized by others in the popular seeker church movement. Take Sally Morgenthaler's realization that falls in line with what Bill Hybels has come to realize. I wrote a post on this awhile back. But then she partners with popular emerging church leaders Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders of the wolves who would enter the flock in Acts 20. But instead of warning and protecting the flock, leadership today is merely going to allow the wolves to come in and play with the sheep. This graphic from Phil Johnson at TeamPyro captures the essense of the situation.

I am afraid that the evangelical church has become so removed from the truth, that even when they seem to come to their senses, they lack any real discernment to implement any true reforms.

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