Church of tares

I am taking some time off.  I will be back next Tuesday.  I have already posted the following video on my Facebook page. I think you should take the time to watch it (3 hours).  I did it this afternoon and it really filled in a lot of blanks for me as well as taking me back to the days of the start of this ministry. Several of my CRN friends are featured in interviews in this piece or they are quoted. The research is solid. I am posting it everywhere I can because I have many Christian friends who still consider Rick Warren to be a solid Christian leader. After you watch this I pray that you will see the truth about him and the entire Church Growth movement. – Mike Ratliff

Who is it that will take up the slack?

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.

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Emergent Fallacies and The Dummying Down of the Church

by Mike Ratliff

I listened to a fantastic interview today on Crosstalk Radio from the 17th. It featured Ingrid Schlueter interviewing Chris Rosebrough. The title of the show was “Emergent Heresy – A Warning.” One of the most difficult things for me over the last few years has been in addressing the heretical things that the emergents were saying, but it seemed that there was absolutely no foundation or structure to their confusing attacks on the truth while using some of the same doctrinal words that we us in Christian Orthodoxy. This interview tied much of the confusion together for me so that I now understand that simply addressing a salient heretical point here and there with them is like trying to kill a swam of mosquitos with an ice pick. This issue really isn’t that these Emergents are messed up theologically, but that they are not Christians at all. Their religion is not Christianity, it is some other hashed together conglomeration of philosophies that have become anchored in our churches because the source of their followers are coming from our youth groups who are easily duped into their lies because they have grown up in churches in which there is no solid Biblical training. Their local church has been fed a dummied down theology that is void of biblical truth.  Continue reading


I wish the reader to know that I truly was grieved to see that Richard Abanes felt that he needed to continue his dealings with me. As the pastor of a very small congregation known as Connecticut River Baptist Church (CRBC), who had seen their teacher attacked by Mr. Abanes concerning a pastoral article which I had written called The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to then protect my integrity in front of them. One needs to keep in mind at this point, that prior to all this, I was simply teaching a precious few, and really had no personal intentions of elevating my work beyond that scope. Continue reading

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 5

Spiritual Gifts and Community Service

By Berit Kjos – July 2004

“The Church of the 21st Century is reforming itself into a multi-faceted service operation.” Bob Buford, founder of Leadership Network and founding president of the Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.[1]

“More and more social needs are being met by these private organizations rather than large government bureaucracies…. Peter Drucker has called this private sector of social services the fastest growing segment of economies around the world.”[2]

“[Rick] Warren says, ‘I read everything Peter Drucker writes…. Long before words like ’empowerment’ became popular, Peter was telling us that the secret of achieving results is to focus on your strengths, and the strengths of those you work with, rather than focusing on weaknesses.”[3]Community Connections

“[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“God has a unique role for you to play in his family,” writes Pastor Warren. “This is called your ‘ministry,’ and God has gifted you for this assignment: ‘A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.[1 Co 12:7-8, NLT] Your local fellowship is the place God designed for you to discover, develop and use your gifts.” [4, page 134]

Yes, that’s partly true. God calls each of us to specific roles in the Church. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote,

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge…. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Yet, His work through us isn’t limited to “the local fellowship.” God will use the gifts He gives us wherever He sends us. He will equip us for any assignment He gives us — when we hear and follow Him. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” [1 Thessalonians 5:24] While your service to Him may start at our local church, His true Church reaches around the world. Pastor Warren points that out in a later section of His book.

Today’s popular church surveys and “continual assessments” are misleading tools for discovering our spiritual gifts and place of ministry. Yet they — along with peer opinions and personal “experimentation” — are among the tools new members of Saddleback Church are encouraged to use to “discover,” record, and develop their spiritual gifts and potential for service. Though God doesn’t command us to “discover” our gifts, the man-made rules of the new church-growth hierarchy do. Continue reading

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 4


Dealing with Resisters

by Berit Kjos







“I also believe that pastors are the most strategic change agents to deal with the problems society faces.”[1, page 20] Rick Warren

A “change agent… should know about the process of change, how it takes place and the attitudes, values and behaviors that usually act as barriers…. He should know who in his system are the ‘defenders’ or resisters of innovations…. Try to identify resisters before they become vocal….”[2, pages ix, 122]Ronald G. Havelock, The Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education.

“Change leaders must also be prepared to deal with members who choose to ‘stay and fight.'”[3, page 91] Leading Congregational Change (published byJossey-Bass)


“The purpose driven life is being promoted in almost every church in my town. The banners are hanging everywhere! … We pretty much stand alone with a few friends.” A visitor to our website



Part 3 of this series, “Small Groups and the Dialectic Process,” triggered a stream of letters from troubled Christians around the world. They had watched as the focus of their churches shifted from Bible-based teaching to purpose-driven experiences. Many had sensed something wrong but couldn’t define the problem. Some wondered how God’s guidance fit into this tightly controlled man-made system. They had asked questions, but no one could calm their concern. They had tried to warn their pastor and friends but had been rebuffed. Some were even told to find another church. All shared the pain of rejection. The following letter from Pat Johnson illustrates the struggle faced by those who cannot, with a clear conscience, go along with a church that embraces the world’s transformative marketing and management methods:

“I just read ‘Small Groups and the Dialectic Process.’ Absolutely dead-on! At the end of it, I read this paragraph which took my breath away: ‘In today’s Church Growth Movement, resisters are usually sifted out fairly early in the process. In the next installment, we will look at some of the ways non-conformists are assessed, exposed, vilified and dismissed from the church families they have loved, served and supported.

“I have been forced out of two churches for being such a ‘resister.’ I am a normal wife and mom and teacher who would not conform and, as you stated above, have been shunned and vilified. This has caused me considerable heartbreak and torment. For years I have struggled to cope with the shock of losing my church family and being branded as divisive.

“The ONLY way I have been able to come through this is to return to my Lord and trust His Word only. For years, I didn’t really realize that I had drifted away from Him. Then when the storm hit, I didn’t have the means to withstand it. By His grace and mercy, I have emerged from the mind-hell that shaming and shunning create….” Continue reading

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 3

Small Groups and the Dialectic Process

by Berit Kjos – March 2004

“The importance of helping members develop friendships within your church cannot be overemphasized. Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.” Rick Warren [2, page 324]

“This book is about a process, not programs. It offers a system for developing the people in your church and balancing the purposes of your church…. I’m confident the purpose-driven process can work in other churches where the pace of growth is more reasonable….

“Saddleback… grew large by using the purpose-driven process…. Healthy churches are built on a process, not on personalities.” Rick Warren [2, page 69, 70]

* To understand the meaning of “healthy” in this context, see The UN Plan for Your Mental Health
“Encourage every member to join a small group,” says Rick Warren. “… Not only do they help people connect with one another, they also allow your church to maintain a ‘small church’ feeling of fellowship as it grows. Small groups can provide the personal care and attention every member deserves no matter how big the church becomes…. In addition to being biblical, there are four benefits of using homes: Continue reading

Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 2

Unity and Community

by Berit Kjos, January 2004

“God says relationships are what life is all about.” Rick Warren, [1, page 125]

Relationships are the glue that holds a church together. Friendships are the key to retaining members. A friend once told me of a survey he took in a church. When he asked, ‘Why did you join this church?’ – 93% of the members said, ‘I joined because of the pastor.’ He then asked, ‘What if the pastor leaves? Will you leave?’ 93% said ‘No.’ When he asked why they wouldn’t leave, the response was ‘Because I have friends here!’ Do you notice the shift in allegiance? This is normal and healthy…. Think relationally!” [2] Rick Warren, “Relationships hold your church together.”

“I want to stress the importance of continually emphasizing the corporate nature of the Christian life to your members,” wrote Pastor Warren in his church management manual, The Purpose-Driven Church. “Preach it, teach it, and talk about it with individuals. We belong together. We need each together. We are connected, joined together as parts of one body. We are family!”[3, page 328]

Yes, those who truly belong to Christ are one in Him! We are part of a vast wonderful family that reaches around the world and stretches through time into eternity! In fact, the fellowship we have in Christ—with those who share the same Spirit, follow the same Shepherd and delight in the same Scriptures—brings us a tiny foretaste of the joy we will share with our heavenly family for all eternity. Continue reading

Spirit-Led or Purpose Driven? Part 1

by Berit Kjos

November 2003

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word!Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things….” 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Our website began to receive requests for information about The Purpose Driven Life last year. So Andy and I bought the book, read it quickly and were troubled by some of its claims, promises and paraphrased “Bible” references. But we also found many true and encouraging pages. Since we didn’t want to criticize Rick Warren or confuse those who apparently were helped by his book, we left it on the shelf. Continue reading

Can A Leopard Change Its Spots?

by Mike Ratliff

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 ESV)

compromise [kom-prom-mize]


1. settlement of a dispute by concessions on each side: everyone pleaded for compromise, the compromise was only reached after hours of hard bargaining

2. the terms of such a settlement

3. something midway between different things


[-mising, -mised]

1. to settle (a dispute) by making concessions

2. to put (oneself or another person) in a dishonourable position


being, or having the nature or, a compromise: a compromise solution [Latin compromittere to promise at the same time]

compromising adj

Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006

As one who left a church because it becoming Purpose Driven back in 2006 I awaited with much anticipation the results of Bob DeWaay and Chris Rosebrough going to Saddleback to interview Rick Warren. Bob’s book Redefining Christianity is a wonderful exposition the PDC paradigm. Chris is part of our discernment team at CRN and has an awesome blog called Extreme Theology. In any case some of us were a bit surprised when Bob and Chris returned saying what a wonderful host Rick Warren was and how there was no acrimony between them as they discussed the issues. Continue reading

Is God’s Design Purpose Driven?

by Mike Ratliff

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

The very first line in Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life is, “It’s not about you.” On the cover the subtitle of the book is, “What on Earth am I here for?” I am convinced that most people who buy this book or study it in classes or programs at their churches are looking for “the way” to find God’s will for their life and are hoping that through this study they will find it and will finally be able to get into stride with Him. The fact that the book is packaged attractively and marketed shrewdly has not hurt how far it has spread or how deeply it has become entrenched in huge numbers of churches. If we give the book a cursory examination it appears quite obtuse or benign. Perhaps it’s just another cleverly packaged and well-marketed self-help book for Christians wanting to know how to better serve their Lord. However, God has already given us His Word and provided teachers and preachers who should be rightly dividing it so that we can know His will.

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