Rick Warren Warns Church Planters on Following Trends, Focusing on Growth Over Quality

"The success of your ministry isn't about size or speed, regardless of those 'large church lists.' God isn't going to judge you based on those things because those are human measurements." CPost

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Bert Perry's picture

....something in me cringes at what seems to be a huge lack of self-awareness on his part.  Not just the deal about a megachurch leader noting that bigness is not everything, but that quote about being as "dull as a guy who didn't go to college".  Personally, I'd love--despite my degrees--to be as "dull" as the eleven apostles who (Paul being the exception) did not go to college, or Spurgeon, or Bunyan, or Moody......I know he didn't mean to be obnoxious with that comment, but honestly.....a little bit of self-awareness on his part would be wonderful.  Mirror, Stat!

....and one big issue I've got with him is that he's claiming that "skill", and not prayer or faithfulness, is the key to his success...OK, so are we to then assume that Saddleback is a monument not to the work of God, but rather the skill of Rick Warren?  As many here know, I am no fan of big churches, but even I can (and ought to) concede that a certain portion of the success of big churches at least should be the work of the Lord.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Bert, can you link to where he puts skill up against work of the Lord as you've described?

Never been a "fan," but what I've seen of Warren's writing/speaking... doesn't sound like what he would have meant to communicate.

But the warnings in the OP coming from him... ironic.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

I know some pastors who pray more than I do and their churches aren't growing," Warren said. "I work hard but I know some churches that work much harder than I do. Dedication doesn't grow a church, skill does."

He doesn't explicitly set it up that way, but what is the clear implication of Warren's claim that skill grows the church?  See what I'm getting at?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

Where does God in His Providence setting the size for His church come into Mr. Warren's thinking?

Bert Perry wrote:

I know some pastors who pray more than I do and their churches aren't growing," Warren said. "I work hard but I know some churches that work much harder than I do. Dedication doesn't grow a church, skill does."

He doesn't explicitly set it up that way, but what is the clear implication of Warren's claim that skill grows the church?  See what I'm getting at?

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Larry's picture

Moderator

He doesn't explicitly set it up that way, but what is the clear implication of Warren's claim that skill grows the church?  See what I'm getting at?

I am no defender of Rick Warren, but isn't it true that doing right things in right ways (skill) is generally better than meaning well but doing wrong things (dedication)?

Think about preaching: Is it enough to be dedicated to preaching? Or should one also try to develop preaching skills in terms of study, sermon construction, and delivery? Isn't the latter better?

It may be that all Warren is saying is that, all other things being equal (i.e., prayer, dedication/commitment, gifts, etc.), skill will grow a church better than dedication alone? And if so, is that really disputable?

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, I'd love to put it that way, but the context he's using here is the methods for growing a church, and my objection is that it all seems rather open-ended.  For example, it apparently included some fairly non-Christian viewpoints in his church's diet and exercise initiative.  World reported on that a while back, as did others.  Mehmet Oz, a Swedenborgian, is one of them.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

If I say that hard work and sweat grow good crops am I denying that rain grows crops? I can't read Warren's mind on the quoted statement, but it's certainly possible that he intends to emphasize the value of skill without denying the necessity of God's gracious work in the process... or the necessity of devotion or anything else.    There are many factors... very few are exclusive of other factors.

As for the whole size thing, it's nice to see RW question the value people put on that, but his own practice doesn't seem consistent w/the idea. There are advantages to breaking a church up when it becomes huge. But perhaps he believes there are also advantages to large congregations that outweigh the disadvantages in his case.  It's not impossible that he's right, but I'm skeptical. 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Craig's picture

“In speaking about his success” 

Success? How do you define a successful church?  Should a church even think about being successful or is that an idea that has come about due to the American church being shaped by American culture? Read about Warren and his three legged stool and you will learn what his idea of success is.

“Dedication doesn't grow a church, skill does”

I thought Jesus built the church.  Oh, that’s implied? He never mentions Jesus.

"If you want a church that lasts, you have to build it on purpose, …. blah, blah, blah, blah…”

Build it on everything but the sound expositional preaching and teaching of the word of God. Oh, that’s implied? He never mentions the Bible.

Mike Harding's picture

Rick Warren has damaged the church.  His philosophy has been picked up by otherwise good churches and that philosophy has ruined those churches.  The Warren model is a mega-entertainment model with dumbed-down doctrine and preaching, including the gospel in Purpose Driven Life.  The Warren churches are extremely worldly and they gut all the conservative churches around them by appealing to the worst instincts in people.  I like to call it "The Killing Fields".  Warren has franchised the church like Burger King.  It's big religious business.  I am glad to see he realizes now that his model is seriously flawed, but it's too little too late.  The damage has been done all across America and the world.  Mark Dever once said at a weekender that Warren wasn't qualified to lead a Bible Study.

Pastor Mike Harding