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The Church Growth Movement's Evolution Into The Emerging Church
Part 1 - Sciences, Marketing, Surveys, and Demographics: Following God?

"They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them" 1John 4:5

If you built a church with the World - You have a Worldly church

By Greg DesVoignes

My original article on the Church Growth Movement (CGM) was written in the early 90s and republished on the web in January of 2000,  This current 2018 article refers back to the original and provides a historical look at the deception used by this movement and it's evolution into the even deeper deception of the Emerging Church today.

In this article I will present an analytical and biblical view of what has been termed "The Church Growth Movement" [CGM] what was its counter part, "The Purpose Driven Church" and into it's evolution into what has been called "The Post Modern Church", "The Emergent Church", or "The Emerging Church" (EC). Thousands of churches have become involved in using the techniques of these movements over the past thirty years in efforts to cause the numbers in their churches increase along with their version of personal growth. But are there problems with it?

Have churches unknowingly compromised with the world? Have they unknowingly aligned with sources and techniques common to the New Age, but not common to the Bible? Yes they have. And it started out with what appeared to be good, but maybe even a wrong intention; increase attendance.

Sometime back in the late 80's or early 90's my church as well as many others became involved in the ways of mega church, Willow Creek and the CGM.  Initially those who attended my church began to see some changes going on in how church was being done in format, looks, and terminology.  I was giving classes on recognizing false teachings at this time and my initial inner response to these things were a feeling that something was not right.  The things that were going on did not seem to be of God.  I did not have an on-line ministry back then, nor even a computer to do any research or networking.  However, as it turned out, this was the response from others in various churches who would later contact me who belonged to churches that went to this model.  It eventually came out that the church was going to follow the model of a successful-in-numbers mega church called Willow Creek.  Many embraced this, but many did not.  I was one of those who did not.  It bothered me a lot and I eventually left the church.

One night while laying in bed and praying, I asked God to show me if these things that were coming in from Willow Creek and the changes, were of Him or something else.  Now up until that time I had never had a vision of anything, nor had asked for one even while I was praying.  But as I asked God to reveal to me what was wrong (if there was) of these changes coming into the church, there was an immediate flash before my eyes of an evil looking "creature" that could only be described as demonic.  It appeared so fast that startled me and I sat up. The image was also gone that quick.  It never happened before and has not since.

This was pre-computer times so I was not influenced by any images I may have seen that would just be some sort of a memory pop-up.  It was small, light colored, and had an extremely skinny body, arms and legs.  Its arms were open to it's sides.  It's hands were also open and fingers extended wide and it had an angry look on its evil face.  It was suspended and frozen in place.  It was after this that I started to research what was behind the CGM.  It took about two years to come to the point I felt I had enough to see what the CGM was about and write about it.  In the mean time, as mentioned before, I had left my church.

So this and the following articles on the CGM are based upon that research. But not too long ago, but almost 30 years later while doing some research I came across a photo of statue of a demonic entity that almost matched that flash of the image I had.  The photo on the left below is what I came across and is of a Babylonian demon called Pazuzu.  He was supposed to be king of demons. He has wings and has the tail of a scorpion.  His hands are in the position of "as above, so below" sign.  You will see references to this sign and that phrase in other articles, as the occult concept behind the sign is being referred to and  taught today.

The picture on the right is close to the image that flashed before me; looking somewhat like Pazuzu but no wings, similar pose.  I cropped the wings of of the Pazuzu statue to show this.

Pazuzu (Louvre, Paris) Similar looking entity in flashed image

In addition of being the Babylonian king of the demons, he is also the king of Abyss and known as "the destroyer".  I find it interesting (and weird) that in Revelation 9:11 there is a demon king of the Abyss called Apollyon and Abaddon (the destroyer) who is released during the Tribulation to cause havoc on the earth.  More on this thing in another article.

Changes In The Church

Back in the late 80s and early 90s Willow Creek in Algonquin, IL was one of the first mega churches.  Led by Pastor Bill Hyblels it boasted a membership of about 15,000 people back then.  It had a large and nice looking "campus" and a church structure that looked like a modern office building instead of the traditional church. It was the icon of what was thought to be church success at that time.  And it, along with institutions like Fuller Institute of Church Growth, and even a business institution I was unaware of, had a plan: duplicate this enchanting model and grow your church.

I will get into the sly mechanics of how this model got into the churches back then shortly.  But first let's look at some of the fundamentals of the CGM.  Most of the materials I use for references in the original article were actually sold by Willow Creek or Fuller at that time.

CGM Fundamentals

A cursory look alone at the CGM indicates there is a problem concerning how the body of Christ is built, and what is being used to build it. It was defined by its own experts as, "A group of pastors, denominational executives... who allow their ministries to be governed by Donald McGavran and fellow participants in the CGM". Peter Wagner, Win Arn, others, Church Growth: State Of The Art, Tyndale, 1989, pg. 284.

Note:  The late C. Peter Wagner of Fuller Institute of Church Growth was a self proclaimed Apostle and leader of the apostate "New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR) made up of followers of Dominion Theology.

According to this book, the CGM roots go back to the 1970s when Donald McGavran and C Peter Wagner joined together at Fuller Theological Seminary where it was birthed.  As will be seen later, there is also more to this.

What were the principles of the CGM that churches and ministries open themselves up to be governed by? Church Growth participants do not refer to their principles as Biblical truths, but "worldwide truths which, when properly applied with other principles contribute significantly to the growth of a church". Ibid., pg. 284. Therefore, ministries that follow the principles of this movement are actually being governed by the philosophies that the world holds to, and not God and his Word.

What world truths or philosophies are churches submitting to as governing their ministries and causing their numbers to increase? "Church Growth" itself is defined as, "striving to combine the eternal principles of God's word with the best insights of contemporary social and behavior sciences...". Ibid. This translates into churches being ruled by, and following theories. These include the theories of sociology, anthropology, psychology, statistics, marketing, cultural relevance, and the ideal within each one.  In short, it is attempting to incorporate the teachings of the world (including business concepts) with the word of God.  Bad move.

So what was happening is that churches who follow the CGM were incorporating the same "sciences" and tactics that the corporate world is using to attract consumers, and much more.

Through a slow transformation process, the structure and character of these churches eventually manifest "business" and "entertainment" and "arts" appearance. It was something they said was more "culturally relevant" and appealing to the modern "baby boomer" at that time.  This transformation process was sold through sermons, staff and lay leadership training, required membership classes and "accountability" groups, with materials and "consultants", primarily out of Willow Creek Community Church and Fuller Institute of Church Growth.  But there were other significant influential persons and entities involved in this that I was not aware of until recently.  I will get to them in this article.  Yet even today in 2018 I found that the CGM principles and techniques are still being sold by "consulting" companies.  It too is a business.

However, as we look at scripture, we find that man's techniques of the world cannot build a church, that God warned us not to follow the principles of the world, and not to add to His word. So let's compare what the CGM says, with scripture.

Wrong Principles: From the World

First, the CGM experts note that the principles of God are eternal. That is true. And since God's principles are eternal, i.e., what was said, and what worked almost 2,000 years ago and before, must apply to today. Thus, what happened to the eternal principle, "and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved". Acts 2:47, or "...who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling"? 1 Tim 1:9.

It appears to me that since the eternal principles here are [1] that it is God who called us by His spirit, [2] that the calling was a holy calling, [3] and that it was the power of God that added to the church; [4] there were no principles or techniques to purchase; then this should also apply today.

Did Jesus call his disciples with sociology, psychology, anthropology, marketing, or any "world wide truth"? What is holy about these things? Most of them contradict the word anyway. Did Jesus preach a social gospel, an evolutionary gospel according to anthropology, or train his disciples to use the principles of the world along with His eternal principles?  No. Then why do would we need the principles of the CGM?  We don't!  He certainly did not make a business out of gaining followers.

Secondly, another eternal principle of God that Jesus said is, "Upon this Rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matt 16:18. Upon whom is the church to be built, and who will build it? It is Jesus who builds His church and it is upon His eternal words from which it is built. Oh, but it must be all right to help it along. After all, back then it was "we live in the 90's" [now, its the New Millennium]; we are a different culture today, right? In an apostate sense, yes!

This brings us to the third eternal principle. In Exodus 25, which is a foreshadow of the church and how it is to be built, God gave Moses the materials and the plan by which he was supposed to build the tabernacle saying, "And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it". Thus it is God himself who shows us how the church is built, not the world.  It is God who instructs us in His word.  This is how it is supposed to be built. [Read Acts 1-2]

God says in a fourth eternal principle, "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. So keep them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people". The principles of the CGM are in opposition to what God has said. For even they admit that they are "striving to combine" the ways of the world into the word of God.  But many, many, do not understand this is opposing God's word.  Who would want to pollute it?  Satan.

A Lack Of Confidence In God's Word

Why was this happening then and why is this happening today? Why is it that these CGM experts can call God's principles eternal, but then reject them as being relevant and powerful today? Christian writer and preacher John McArthur assessed it well. He said, "Contemporary evangelism has been beguiled and sabotaged by a ruinous lack of confidence in God's word... They have accepted the notion that scripture does not contain all we need to minister in these complex times. So they turn to human expertise in the fields of psychology, business, government, politics, entertainment, or whatever they think might supply some recipe for success that's lacking in scripture". John McArthur, Our Sufficiency In Christ, Word, 1991, pg. 117.

Israel had this same problem and frequently took assistance and combined the "best insights of contemporary social and behavioral sciences" from the world of the nations around them, including those from Babylon. For while they were supposed to go in and take the land God had given them by His power, they themselves were many times converted to following the world. The results were disastrous. They were seduced, spiritually turned away from God, and then taken over and ruled by the very systems they were intrigued by.  Eventually they were taken captive by Babylon and their temple to God destroyed. As we will see, the same thing happened in this CGM system and continues today.

A fifth eternal principle from God asks, "To whom then will you liken God?" Or what likeness will you compare with Him". Isaiah 40:18. In verse 12 God shows the arrogant ignorance of man, by comparing the heavens with the span of His hand, and in verse 22 compares the inhabitants of the earth to grasshoppers that he has provided a tent for. In other words, what can we grasshoppers come up with that can compare with what this great and mighty God has done and will do among the "best insights" of the works of the world? Is it God's word that needs assistance from man? Or is it man that needs everything from God? The CGM misses the point.

The Frog In The Kettle

The transformation of a church into the CGM model is accomplished over a period of several months to a few years, the latter recommended by the experts. In fact, it is interesting that some of these experts recommend that pastors who desire to implement these philosophies and techniques do not try to transform their current churches, but start a new church based on these philosophies. Why? It has been well proven that this movement has destroyed churches. It did cause church spits, and many times they were cruel.  Even though CGM leaders knew this and stated this, they still provided the techniques to transform a current existing church! 

It usually started with a trip to a seminar sponsored by a mega church such as Willow Creek in the Chicago area. Church pastors and staffs attended a "dynamic" public service, listen to speakers give ideas on how to make a church grow, and then get an eye full of the programs and the impressive buildings and their facilities. They come back excited about what they have seen and learned. Possibly a few months later, new ideas and terminology will start arising.   One business related phrase I always disliked that is still heard today was, "We want to give back to the community for what they have given to us".  New buzz words were being thrown out that appeared to have no relation to churches and did not make any sense.  Striving to "Excellency", "keeping the status quo", "create community", "social action", were just a few of them.

The pastor may present a "vision" for the church and come up with a "vision statement" like a business does.

The Change Masters

However in CGM methodology, presenting the new vision requires tearing down traditional Christianity. Not that some tradition should not be done away with, i.e., traditions of men added to biblical worship, which is worthless; but this is quite different.

Jim Dethmar of Willow Creek at that time said, "Change only occurs when there is significant disillusionment with the status quo. This is 'Change Theory' ". So, that is what begins to happen. Tearing down of the existing church subtly begins. Jim Dethmar gives a suggestion on how to do this when he says, "...a simplified view of how to do change is find something that is wrong, it might be a little one, and rub it raw, irritate it". {Willow Creek Seminar Tape} And so the "rub" begins.

Marilyn Ferguson, writer of the popular New Age book, The Aquarian Conspiracy, says the same thing about how you cause a change in thinking to this New Age model to shape a new order in the world.  She says,

A major task of the Aquarian Conspiracy is to foster paradigm shifts by pointing out the flaws in the old paradigm and showing how the new context explains more—makes more sense. As we will see, the most powerful transformative ideas from modem science connect like parts of a puzzle. They support each other; together they form the scaffolding for a wider worldview.

Each of these major ideas is a whole in itself, a system for understanding a spectrum of phenomena in our lives and in society. Each also has uncanny parallels to ancient poetic and mystical descriptions of nature. Science is only now verifying what humankind has known intuitively since the dawn of history. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy" P.J. Tarcher, 1981, pg 151

So that is what is being done within the CGM.

This new vision has to do with being culturally relevant. You may hear that the church needs to create a non-threatening environment, in order that it may attract "seekers".  You heard then and still hear, that the church has to be relevant to the culture. That "non-threatening environment" may mean several changes to accommodate the modern "seeker". There may be discussion as to whether or not it may be offensive to a seeker if you raise your hands while worshipping. Sunday services would change to seeker services for "unchurched Harry".  Any Christian related images have to go (crosses etc).  They are replaced by banners or images depicting the sermon messages.  Over the years occult related symbols came into use by the Emerging Churches, replacing anything that may look Biblical.  There was, and is, a definite movement going on.

Messages drift away from expository verse by verse teachings out of the Bible, to topical subjects. Not that topical teaching is wrong, but you will hear less and less of Biblical teachings and more use of psychology, sociology, statistics, etc., things you get out of modern college classes and business relation seminars.

For instance, you would start to notice more quotes from business leaders, and others such as Peter Drucker [Father of modern business management], psychologists such as M. Scott Peck, or Stephen Covey [the latter two are New Age idealists]. You will hear less of messages of repentance and the cross, but more of felt needs, along the lines of Abraham Maslow's theory of "hierarchy of needs" philosophy: Get the needs taken care of first, and people will come to God [quite opposite of "Seek ye first, the kingdom of God..."].

Below are some things that I was not aware of back at the time I did my initial research on the CGM.

The late Peter Drucker was a mentor to Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.  In a video speech Warren gave eulogizing  Drucker, he said he "admired" and "loved" him. Source: "Rick Warren on Peter Drucker and the Character of Great Leaders" .  And so it was that the management ideas of Drucker started making headway into churches via Hybels and Warren.  For instance an an article on Drucker in Forbes Magazine said of Hybles, "Hybels was a born entrepreneur. With the aid of Buford and Drucker's counsel he built Willow Creek to more than 20,000 parishioners." Source" Peter Drucker and Me", Forbes, April 14, 2014.  Translated this means Willow Creek and it's growth were built with business principles based on the business principles of Bob Buford and Peter Drucker.

What did business management experts have to do with Christianity or religion?  According to a 2005 article in the New York Times, Drucker was an Episcopalian. But he, like many of the false teachers, did not think too highly of God's word.  In part the article said,

"The future was with "pastoral churches," he argued, ones that put a higher priority on answering people's needs than perpetuating some specific doctrine or ritual or institutional structure.

"Very bluntly, people are dreadfully bored with theology," he told the editors of Leadership in 1989. "And I sympathize with them. I've always felt that quite clearly the good Lord loves diversity. He created 2,500 species of flies. If he had been like some theologians I know, there would have been only one right specie of fly."  Source: A Man's Spiritual Journey From Kierkegaard to General Motors, New York Times, November 19, 2005

This being "bored with theology" was one of those "status quo" things that had to be rubbed until CGM churches started to believe it. I recall that after leaving my church and searching for another, it was hard to find one not involved in the CGM.  I went to a service of one church only to hear the same CGM buzz words during the sermon and see a "skit".  After "church" was finished, I asked the pastor if this church was involved with Willow Creek.  His response was, "We have to do something to supplement the boring word of God".  Wow!  And this coming from a person who is supposed to be a teacher of the Word. 

Drucker had this idea of making organizations such as government, businesses, and churches, to be used as change agents of society for the good of the world.     It was referred to as the "three legged stool" where all three institutions work together to create a better society.  We would know it as part of the formation of a New World Order and it is actually going on with these three entities working with each other.  One article said of Drucker;

His core belief was that we are a society of organisations and for society to function well and be healthy, organisations and our institutions need to be effective and responsible”, said Rick Wartzman, Executive Director of the Drucker Institute, an organisation dedicated to keeping Peter Drucker’s legacy alive...

I think Peter would also remind us that it all comes down to organisations functioning well, not just for the sake of profit – that’s just the oxygen they need to survive – but how are they being useful and how are they making the world a better place?”...

For Drucker, business was not about profits – revenue was simply a measure of performance. Instead, it was about the overall effectiveness of an organisation and, subsequently, the impact that it has on society.
Source: A History of Peter Drucker and his impact on management theory, European CEO, December 3, 2015

Rick Warren adopted this New Age three legged stool concept into his Global Peace Plan. And as we will see later, businesses were to be the new religious institution.

What about Buford? Bob Buford, (deceased April 2018) was also a friend of Drucker.  Buford co-founded the "Leadership Network" and the "Half Time Institute".  Buford said he was highly influenced by Drucker and his principles of business leadership.  Let's look and see how Buford played into the past Church Growth Movement (CGM) and the Emerging Church (EC) of today.  The following quotes are from Buford's Leadership Network site as seen today in 2018.

"Through philanthropy and personal engagement, Buford significantly contributed to three of American Christianity’s major landscape shifts over recent decades. First was the rise and proliferation of large-attendance Protestant churches led by innovative, entrepreneurial leaders. Second was the empowerment of Christian lay leaders making a second-career shift from “success to significance” through a “halftime” transition—terms that trace their popularity to Buford’s writings. Third was the formation of the Drucker Institute, a network of organizations designed to further the teachings of management expert Peter Drucker. Drucker not only extensively mentored Buford, but through introductions by Buford, also mentored several high-visibility pastors like Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren."

"During his business years, Buford had spent countless hours talking with and seeking guidance from Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, and he now tapped into Drucker’s guidance for how best to frame Leadership Network. He later remarked that Leadership Network would not be the same—in fact, might not exist at all—were it not for Peter Drucker"

“Bob Buford was a mega-force behind the megachurch movement,” said Robert Lewis, former chair of the Leadership Network board and himself a large-church pastor. “Bob’s unique life influenced thousands and transformed American Christianity by inspiring God-glorifying innovation and real-world results.”

"Bob Buford spearheaded the creation of two Drucker-related organizations: the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management (which, after several name changes, is now The Hesselbein Leadership Forum at the University of Pittsburgh) and the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University (which began as Peter Drucker’s archives and is now a social enterprise whose mission is “strengthening organizations to strengthen society”)."

"Buford’s final and most recent book, Drucker & Me, published in 2014, is his personal story of that friendship and the lessons learned, including ways it impacted church leadership like Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit. In 2015 there were more than 250,000 paid registrations for the Global Leadership Summit. Willow Creek credits this to Bob Buford getting Peter Drucker into the lives of church leaders and encouraging them take leadership and management seriously."

And so it was that decades ago the interjection of the world of business into the church began with the incorporation of the ideals of the business management guru, Peter Drucker, through Bob Buford.  Buford then recruited pastors like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren into the fold.  As we will later see, Buford was also the bridge between the failing CGM and the newer Emerging Church which is filled with ecumenical and spiritual occult leanings.  Contrary to the statement on the Leadership Network site, what was done was not "God-glorifying innovation" .  In 2007 Hybels admitted it did not work.  So in this system it would be the "organization(s)" that could transform society;  not the word of God.  

Actually the Francis Hesselbeing Leadership Forum (Drucker Foundation) has a mission to provide " sector leaders with essential leadership wisdom, inspiration and resources to lead for innovation and to build vibrant social sector organizations..."  "...developing leaders of character and competence; providing dynamic global mentorship, training and service opportunities; and engaging, informing and enhancing the leadership journey of incoming generations of leaders from around the world.  The church would fall under the category of a "social sector" organization. But back to our history.

Making A Corporation

More business aspects would arise in this subtle change to the CGM. Churches came up with Mission Statements, developed a Strategy, a Statement of Purpose, ascribe to Excellency, and make a call to Social Action or to "be a conscience to the world. You would hear of the need to "create community", and the need to use demographics to do so. Accountability groups will form [called "quality circles", or "Peer Pressure groups" in the Corporate world], and will be used along with Cell groups and ministry teams to monitor and bring about behavioral changes, and frequently stress the "vision" and involvement.

Gospel of Socrates?

You would start hearing the term "facilitator" being used. Home fellowships and other ministries would no longer have a leader or teacher, but a "team" facilitator. I have searched and searched, but I cannot find the gift of "facilitator" in the Bible. But I have in secular business and leadership books, and other places. In fact, one ministry facilitator notes that the concept is the "Socratic" method of teaching... saying, "I'm just a facilitator. Instead of lecturing, I try to help them discover for themselves what all this means". {Daily Herald, May 18, 1988}

Socrates used philosophy not the theology of the Bible, which was evident by his attributing evil to ignorance, not sin. Socrates was not exactly an Isaiah or Peter or Paul, but his ways are some of the "world wide truths" the CGM combines.

Along this same thought, Dethmar suggested not having a senior pastor, suggesting that churches decentralize, utilizing teams. This is Drucker's model for businesses.  Drucker was also a proponent of "outsourcing".   In the CGM philosophy, the vision and its aspects run the church through teams and facilitators who must follow this vision. This is strange because Willow Creek had a senior pastor, Bill Hybels. However even he said at that time that the church runs fine without him having to be there.  The facilitators project the leadership vision to the small groups.  The leadership vision was not the vision of God, but the vision of the secular leaders behind the system.

These concepts were also found in the business world. One TQM [Total Quality Management] philosophy for leadership is " be coaches rather than controllers of people, and to facilitate things rather than mandate them". {Effective Management Systems, Seminar material, Leadership Skills}. Since God calls us to teach, preach, lead, shepherd, feed, exhort, rebuke, and many others, this whole facilitator concept contradicts the Word. It is not a "vision" that guides the body of Christ, it is Christ through His Word and Spirit; and definitely not Socrates.

But even up to this day we can see this same concept being used.  For instance, Elevation Church,  a church who falls into the Emerging Church category, follows the "vision" of Steven Furtick, their pastor.  When compared to the Word, his vision departs from it.

Members Only

Membership applications were suggested for those who want to become members. Those who do must have had regular attendance for one year, consistent participation, attend membership classes, have a personal interview, and sign a Statement of Commitment each year. One of the reasons given for this formality is " implement the principles of accountability and commitment to the local body of Christ, as defined in the New Testament and practiced in the early churches..." (Willow Creek Community Church Structure Of Ministry, pg. 11).

I cannot seem to find this formal membership and signing of a Statement of Commitment in the New Testament, nor accountability other than to Christ. I have had some parents tell me that their teens are becoming disillusioned with their youth groups because they have become more of social groups and use peer pressure accountability to change their behavior. I asked one youth pastor who uses the "accountability" concept, if changes in some of the youth in his group were from a heart changed by God, or from the pressure of conforming to the group. He did not know, and did not know if the outward changes were real, or a show because of group peer pressure.

Businesses who have adopted incorporating accountability "quality circles" or "peer pressure groups" in ethics and values programming among their employees, know that it is the peer pressure to conform to the group that forces an outward change.  God is not a part of their system.

Computers are suggested to track class attendance records, tithing, and behavior changes of members [sounds familiar to the Outcome Based Education system]. Why become a signed formal committed member? The CGM people say that this type of membership has benefits. Hmm, it seems that just being a part of the body of Christ isn't enough for membership or benefits. I have not decided yet if this follows the cults or Costco. It is also similar to "Partnering" in the business world where companies sign agreements to do business with another and adopt their values and receive benefits as well.

Are these all aspects of business? Yes. Modern business and business leadership books contain the same teachings and philosophies.

Pleasing The Customer

Next came the demographic studies; a form of sociology used in marketing research. The church may start doing studies of their surrounding area by the use of surveys distributed in the area. Church members may be given surveys to give to friends. These surveys have questions designed to find out why people don't go to church, and find out what would make them come to church. The purpose then, is like market researchers, change and design the church to fit what would attract the population.  This practice is still being used in forming churches within Greg Surratt's  Association of Related Churches (ARC) church planting schemes

But then this marketing may go another step further. It seems the CGM suggests picking "Target Groups", i.e. what part of the population should be targeted to get into church? It usually consists of targeting an age range, but may go beyond this.

Bill Hybels, a forerunner of the CGM and pastor of Willow Creek Community Church says that, "The messages must have high user value... When unchurched Harry comes out here for a service, he's going to be asking, 'What value does my being here have for my life?' So in preparing messages, we keep asking ourselves, 'So what? Jesus Christ was born to a virgin - so what?' That's the question Harry's going to be asking." Chicago Daily Herald, May 19, 1988 "Suburban Living. I don't know about you, but it appears to me that the Bible, the Word of God, the "sword of the Spirit", is not some product that is developed to have "high user value". It also appears to me that if a pastor is anointed by the Spirit of God, and is a vessel of God, then if he teaches out of the Word of God, the Word of itself is of a great value to anyone who hears it.

Many  years ago I had to attend a three-day Total Quality Management seminar [referred to as TQM], which was put on by a management consultant for managers at my place of employment. The first day of the seminar it was De JA Vu. I started seeing the same things I experienced while in a church that had been involved in the CGM [such as what we just covered], and also in many of the books I had studied while researching the CGM.

Curious that I may be seeing the same system of the CGM, I began asking the consultant questions about business leaders and books that I had seen in some of Fuller Institute of Church Growth and Willow Creek advertising materials. He was familiar with the books stating that TQM also used the philosophies of some of the writers I mentioned. During a break, the then Director of the place I work asked me what had motivated me to study modern business aspects. I told him that these same principles were starting to come into churches. He had a most remarkable response for a non-Christian. "I thought a church was supposed to be run by the Holy Spirit". Interesting concept!  But the CGM churches of that time were not run by the Holy Spirit,  just like the Emerging Church of today is also not run by the Holy Spirit.

I suddenly had a thought that God might be pleased if Christian businessmen allowed their businesses to be run by the Holy Spirit! Naw, silly thought. But if the business world is not run by the Holy Spirit, what is it run by? And if churches or other ministries are run by business concepts and not the Holy Spirit, what, or whom are they run by?  They said it; principles and traditions of the world, which is run by the ruler of the world.

User Friendly Changes

Aside from the aforementioned changes, physical changes slowly began to occur. Since it is believed that traditional Christianity turns off seekers and it's icons, Christian symbols start to disappear. Crosses and other such symbols may be replaced by some sort of banner or projection on the wall behind the pulpit that contains a message or symbol representing the current series the pastor is teaching.  As noted before, many Christian related symbols have been replaced with occult ones.

Next the suggestion arises that the physical aspects of the church must be changed to become more user friendly [kind of like big box stores]. Perhaps getting rid of the pews and going to more comfortable theater seats would attract more people, or parking lot parkers to show people where to park would show that this church really has it together.  Many of these churches purchased office buildings, malls and theaters.

Or maybe, as Bill Hybels stresses in CGM conferences, the secret of a successful Sunday service can be attributed to proper lighting, quality sound equipment, an attractive building and others. What do proper lighting and sound equipment have to with anything? This has much to do with the next aspect of the CGM. : Entertainment and emotional / mind manipulation.

Multi Media Manipulation

According to Bill Hybles, drama and music can lower a person's resistance to persuasion, which enables him to communicate the message.  In an interview he said, 

"Hybels also incorporated rousing music and drama to reach people at an emotional level."  Hybels said of this;

'A person's resistance to persuasion is very high when spoken to... but very low when exposed to drama and music. We communicate truth through the back door. People don't even know it's happening.' "
Daily Herald, May 18, 1988.

 Now where did this idea come from? On the outside, the business world. It’s a tool used in advertising. 

Why do you think commercials contain music and skits? And why do you think that all of the sudden you want to go to the refrigerator and eat what you just saw? And you don't even know it's happening either! Now the interesting thing about this is that these very same principles are suggested by the New Age as powerful methods to trigger a change in our thinking. Actually what Hybels described is sorcery.  Rousing music and drama has taken the place of the Holy Spirit who, "teaches all things",  and "convicts".  Amazing that in Hybels' view a person resistance is very high when the word of God is spoken, but get some rousing music and drama in and it effects a person's resistance; and.... they don't even realize it.

What is the reason given for the use of drama and music in CGM churches? To reach people at an emotional level. The heavy metal rock bands know this too, don't they? Psychology? If so, where did psychology get this concept? Let's see; music and drama have a power to manipulate a person's mind, a power that can lower the mind's resistance, a power to manipulate the mind to an emotional level, a power that is going on and people don't even know they have been manipulated, a power not seen taught in the Bible. Think about it a minute. According to the Word of God;

"For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved, IT IS THE POWER OF GOD...

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe...

For my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but the power of God." 1 Cor 1:18, 21; 2:4-5

Music in the church is for the corporate praise and worship of God. God said He inhabits the praises of His people. However, in "seeker services" there is not much corporate worship. Just music, and sometimes it is secular music, or music to arouse emotions.  It can be extremely loud and even painful to the ears. There are churches that have earplugs for people.  That should tell them something but it doesn't.  Get the young ones in with a concert atmosphere.   Seeker services are non-participating services, services designed so as not to offend the seeker, or make them uncomfortable.

In some churches like Elevation, their worship band plays secular music at the beginning of some of their services.  They have even played "Purple Haze" by Jimmy Hendricks. If you are not familiar with the song, it is about having a mind trip on drugs.  Hendricks died of a drug overdose.  Speaking of playing secular songs, an Elevation worship member said

"That song has certain undeniable Truths in it that could be communicated on a different level or may connect in a different way with the congregation than a “worship” song. All Truth is God’s Truth, whether it’s sung in a “worship” song or sung on your local pop radio station." Source:

I don't know who told him that.  How can something Satanic contain God's truth? 

Have we become ashamed of our worship? The Word says;

"From Thee comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows to the Lord before those who fear Him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord." Ps 22:25, 26

"I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise Thee among a mighty throng." Ps 35:18

"I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips." Ps 40:9

We have forgotten the purpose of our gatherings together and have turned them into a dog and pony concert show in order to create a non-offensive environment and attract people and prey upon emotions. Pay your vows to the Lord before the people. Follow God, not the principles of the world.

Transcending Cultures

The Greeks were well known for their drama, and it was used to change thinking, politically and otherwise. But then they also followed the gods of the myths, the perverted word of the true God. Don't you find it interesting that although we find accounts of Paul being in Greece that he did not suggest using their culturally relevant methods to reach people? In Acts 17 it plainly shows he was in an area where religion was relevant, but the Word was not, "because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection." Vs. 18.

This account tells us that Paul was speaking in the synagogue and in the market place and finally gave a verbal message to the Athenian council. This offended some, but "...some men joined him and believed" Vs 34, including a member of this most powerful council. All without the use of their own culturally relevant methodology. This should tell us something.

Another example of the power of the Word, and not techniques or special effects, sound systems, or programs, is the account of Jonah. God gave him just eight words to speak to an entire city. "Yet in forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed". Not popular, but when its God's Words given to an anointed person to speak it, things happen. Those eight words of God caused an entire city to repent.

Consider the simple message of John the Baptist. Under the power and authority of God all he said was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matt 3:2. Now here was a pretty un-culturally relevant person. He didn't even preach in the temple! He didn't dress like the acceptable culture of the time, he did not preach a social gospel, a felt needs gospel, a watered down "light" message, as suggested by the CGM. But what happened? The power of the Word happened!

If we can get it into our heads that God's word has power, does not need help, and all we have to do is say what he tells us to say, things will happen. By giving this simple message it says that people from Jerusalem, Judea, and those around the Jordan were going out to him, being baptized, and confessing their sins. That is church growth, and it is the power of the Word of God that causes it.

It Doesn't Work!!!!

Do you know something else? By their own admission, the CGM experts say their philosophies and techniques do not work! Yes, churches grow in numbers, but it is transfer growth, not "...the Lord adding to their number day by day those who are being saved". Acts 2:47. And do you know what their solution is? Peter Wagner of Fuller said they have to look for more techniques!

Could it be that 1 Corinthians 1 is really true when it says that through the wisdom of men, man did not come to know God? Wow, what a concept; God's Word must be right! But some how, many just refuse to believe it, or cannot see it.

"God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation..." 2 Thess 2:13

"You did not choose Me, But I chose you..." John 15:16

"Yet others I will gather to them." Is 56:18

"No one can come to Me, unless the Father draws him..." John 6:44

If it is God who chose us from the beginning, if it is He who gathers, and if no one can come to Him unless it is He who draws, then how much time, money and energy must be wasted with all the attractions of man! If it is God who has already done this, no wonder the efforts of the principles of the CGM do not work!

It is interesting that TQM did not work either. This philosophy of business, which was in Japan years ago, was finally dropped because they found it really did not work. It did not work, nor even get off the ground where I was employed. It was a time consuming drudgery that caused burnout, dissension, and division, just as it does in churches today.

As noted previously, in 2007 Bill Hybels came to the conclusion that after spending millions of dollars over a couple of decades, that the model did not work.  He said they increased in numbers, but not in spiritual depth.  In fact Hybels said, "We made a mistake"Source:  Willow Creek Repents? Why the most influential church in America now says, "We made a mistake", Christianity Today, October 2007

In this article Hybels is quoted as saying,

"We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

But Hybels was not even right with this.  Today at Willow Creek, their "spiritual practices" include the occult practice of visualization - guided imagery, Lectio Divina and performing the Catholic Eucharist.  (See "Visualization and Contemplative Meditation: Sorcery In The Church" article on this website.)  He still did not get it.

But do you know what the real thing is that makes me wonder about the phenomena of church transfers to CGM churches and the felt needs, "light" gospels? It is something that Paul warned Timothy about, a significant prophecy. He told Timothy,

"Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." 2 Tim 4:2-4.

But back in the 80s and even today we are told that the church is not culturally relevant; it is out of season. But Paul says to preach the Word, not what the culture wants to hear. He warned that there would be those that would gather to those who taught a relevant gospel, teachings that would fit their own desires. Are we setting up churches to fit the desires of people in order to attract them?  Absolutely!

What Is The Real Attraction?

And of these people who are transferring from other churches to fill CGM churches, what is the attraction? Is it the wonderful programs, the emotion raising drama, the comfortable seats, the professional looking loud concert like music, the light shows, the building and its modern amenities, the non-threatening non-offensive sermons? Or is it Jesus and a desire to get to know Him, to have His word speak to their hearts whether it is a reproof, rebuke, or an exhortation?

How many people would still be around, pastor, if the drama was gone, the lighting did not work, your sound system was gone, and all the things that you used to attract seekers in, were gone, and it was just you and the word of God? What really is the attraction? Is it itching ears, peoples own desires, the programs or is it the Word, Jesus, and what He has to say?

I wonder greatly about those people who transferred into churches that follow a system of the world that does not work, not only according to their own system experts, but according to the word of God. And I wonder, thinking about all the prophesies concerning apostasy and how faith in the Word would diminish, I wonder why many feel it necessary to combine the ways of the world with the "eternal principles of God", and allow themselves to be ruled by some other man made authority and system.

Why do we continue to follow something that does not work? Because there is a blindness caused by this system that seduces. Jim Dethmar of Willow Creek said of the CGM model, "Changing to the Willow Creek model is not something you do because you want to or because you think its a good idea. Its something you do because you have to... you are compelled". (Willow Creek Seminar Tape)

And so people were, and still are, compelled to change to this model; but not compelled by God.

What is it about this CGM model that did compel thousands to change to it? It didn't work, still doesn't under the category of the Emerging Church, and it's not in the Word. Is it listening to a seminar minister speaking the word of God with power, as Paul did? (But not like the "charismatic" teachers of today) Or is it the dynamics of the model that appeals to one's senses and emotions; the drama, the lights, the music, programs, business - like aspects and success? Could it be, as the prophecy says,

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"  Jeremiah 5:30-31

Elshaddai, "The All sufficient One", is no longer Elshaddai. What happened to faith and following the eternal principles of God? Although they speak of these things, they do not follow them. The Word, it seems, is no longer considered sufficient without the philosophies of man.

We are going to have to, once and for all, make up our minds. Are we going to follow the world, or the Word? If we continue to incorporate the world, we are going to have to take the hidden things that come with it, as Israel did. Are we the bride of Christ, or the bride of the world? Paul warned the Corinthians;

"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, the to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ". 2 Cor 11:2,3

Are the CGM principles simple and pure? They neither carry the simplicity of devotion to Christ, and as we will see further in Part 2, nor are they pure.

Go To> CGM Part 2: Business And The New Age