kby Mike Ratliff
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “ Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:16-17 NASB)
This ministry began as part of an effort to resist the overtaking of huge parts of the SBC by the Purpose Driven Paradigm. I was a deacon at a small Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas, but had served in the same capacity at a much larger SBC church in Oklahoma. At that church I had witnessed one of the first PDC takeovers in Oklahoma, which was in the mid-1990’s. I lost many friends who stood up to the change and were told by the pastor(s) that they either went along with the changes or they weren’t welcome. During that same period I was so busy I really didn’t know what was going on. I had no idea who Rick Warren was, but I did know that our entire staff flew out to California to spend a week at Saddleback Valley Baptist Church for indoctrination. In any case, by the time my company relocated me from OKC to Tulsa in 2000 most of the people at that church were strangers to me and when I taught classes, I was not ever allowed to go any deeper with them than the shallow end of the kiddie pool.
In 2001 I was recruited by the company I work for now and we moved to the Kansas City area. We became part of that little Baptist church in Olathe, Kansas and all was well. However, something wasn’t right. My wife went for a visit to Oklahoma and while there fell and broke her ankle. I had to fly down there and drive her back to Kansas for her ankle to be repaired by an orthopedic surgeon. Our pastor came to sit with me while that was going on. Did we talk about my wife and her operation? Did we talk about our family’s spiritual needs? No, he knew about our spiritual journey in Oklahoma because he had traced back our membership history to see if I would make a good candidate to be a deacon. In any case, when he came upon that large church we had come from that had gone PDC he got real excited.
The problem was that there was a very large church just a few blocks north of ours that was growing like crazy and was building a new building, but about the time we had moved to Kansas it was still meeting in the Public Library across the creek from our church. What was their secret? Why were they growing like that and we weren’t? They were Seeker Sensitive. He wanted to know all about our experience at our old church and I got the impression he wanted me to help him implement it there since I had been through it on a very large scale before. He left before my wife came out of her anesthesia. I had simply told him how the whole thing had affected us and how quick our church had changed and how we had lost all those members who had been the backbone of the church and suddenly we were a church full of young hipsters who really knew nothing about the Bible and had no patience for doctrine. He simply shrugged that part off.
Fast forward to 2004-2005. God took me through a serious personal revival. I have written about this many times before. In any case, at the end of August of 2004 people in our church were coming to me for counseling rather than the staff. By this time I was a deacon, but I really didn’t fit in with the other deacons. Suddenly, all through 2005 and the beginning of 2006 we began to get a lot of pressure from the pastor a few of the other deacons to read Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church. At this same time I had become deeply involved with Ken Silva and blogging about what was wrong with the Seeker Sensitive paradigm and how it was not the correct way to do church. When our pastor gave me that book to read I knew I had to address the problem to him and the other leaders. I did a great deal of research on the Purpose Driven Church model and wrote a position paper against it. I gave it the leadership and this resulted in my wife and I being removed from all responsibility in that church. We left the Sunday before they started their 40 days of Purpose. I never heard from the leadership again.
The Purpose Driven paradigm is just one aspect of the growing apostasy in the visible church. The tragic thing is how the Church has basically lost the last three generations of spiritual leaders who should have been trained in proper Bible Study and how to properly do ministry. Instead, they have been trained to minister as if the Church was a business. I am convinced that God is calling those who do know the truth to replace those who have corrupted themselves by becoming part of the Compromised Church. Who is it that can take up the slack, to step up to the plate, speak the truth in love to all those whom God directs to listen? Well, there are many good pastors out there. There are many good spiritual leaders out there. The dividing line between those ministries and those of the Compromised Church are clearly defined and so we we can find them. However, there are so many of God’s people who have been chased out of their PDC churches like I was because they wouldn’t put up with the apostasy there. There are many people God is drawing to Himself that need to hear the truth. Who is going to speak it to them?
11 For the Scripture says, “ Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “ Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “ How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:11-15 NASB)
Is God calling you to be one of those whom He will send into the battle? Well, I am no pastor or evangelist, however, I can teach and I can present the gospel. However, If God sent me to do those other things I may not think I could do, it makes no difference because I know that I must go and that He would make it work for His glory. How about you?
I believe the greatest need in our 21st Century Church are church leaders who will not compromise the truth, who will preach the whole gospel without trying to make it appealing to the flesh, and will disciple their disciples. Also, I am convinced that God is raising up a group of people in these last days who will be used by Him in an extraordinary way for the Kingdom of God. The Christian Research Network is a good example. Our team is very varied. We are all unique, but God is using this ministry in a very powerful way. However, since I became a team member, I have found many others out there who all seem to be responding to the call to “take up the slack” and help as many people as they can to find the truth. It has blessed my heart to read their comments, visit their blogs and websites, fellowship with them and find our common ground of sorrow for the state of the Church in our time. This sorrow, I believe, is from the Holy Spirit grieving for the rampant apostasy and outright heresy passing for Christianity today.
God is Sovereign and He loves His Church and will never stop building it until it is complete. In the meantime, get ready because He will not stand for the corruption we are witnessing now to continue unabated forever. Perhaps those He is raising up to “take up the slack” will have to minister in an environment that is anything but safe. Look at how Christians are treated in China, North Korea, India, Sudan, and all Muslim countries. Didn’t Jesus say that we should expect to be persecuted for Righteousness sake? He was persecuted for it and all who follow Him will be persecuted. If we desire to live godly lives in obedience to our Lord then we will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) Even so, we must not shrink from the call and we won’t if our hope is in heaven instead of here in the temporal.
The state of the Church in our time can cause us to despair if we take our eyes off of our Lord. However, as long as we have breath we must proclaim the truth to this lost and dying world. We must never stop rebuking those who try to pass their apostasy off as Christianity, but at the same time, we must do so in love from the motivation of healing and restoration. Our responses to them must be spoken from a humble heart that is bound to the truth of God’s word. We have hope because our treasure is in Heaven, not here. Our faith is in our Lord, not some religious system. Our walk before the face of our Lord must be one of devotion to our Lord keyed by spending time in His Word and in secret prayer. We must not look at our faith as being tied to religion. Instead it must be bound to our Lord and we must serve Him in building His Church in the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!