Lesson 2: Their Origin: How They Got Started What This Class Is NOT Intended to Do Not to be unkind
Not to present a haughty, un-Christlike spirit Not to attack Community Churches (in general) Not to attack a particular Community Church Not to treat them unjustly in any way Not to misrepresent them in any way Not to ridicule or belittle any person or organization Not to say, Were so much better than you What This Class Is Intended to Do To follow the soul-saving instructions of the Lord: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God (1 John 4:1; cf. 1 Thess. 5:21) To follow the highly-praised example of the Bereans:
They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). To fairly examine the teachings of a popular religious movement in light of the teachings of Scripture, by presenting their teachings in their own words and comparing them with Gods teachings in His own Words Psa. 119:105, 130; John 3:19-21; 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Eph. 5:13; 2 Pet. 1:19 To examine whether we are in the faith/the truth (2 Cor. 13:57), as there is only one faith (Eph. 4:4-6) To sharpen our knowledge, inform our hearts and fortify our faith in the faith of the gospel (2 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3; Prov. 3:5-6) Community Churches:
What Are They? What Are We Talking About? 2010 Handbook of Denominations in the U.S. (pp. 272274): One of the most important trends in American Christianity since 1980 has been the rapid increase in the number and size of congregations with few or no ties to traditional denominations. Increasingly in the 1980s and 90s, energetic and entrepreneurial ministers responded to population shifts by establishing congregations that reflected the musical and social tastes of the baby boomer generation. Some of these dynamic congregations have become megachurches that are larger than some denominations. Doctrine is rarely the defining feature of the churches in this category.
Community Churches: What Are They? What Are We Talking About? 2010 Handbook of Denominations in the U.S. (pp. 272-274): Community Churches are a result of the desire to eliminate over churching in some communities; to replace the restrictiveness and divisiveness of denominationalism with self-determination and Christian unityand, by addressing specific needs within a community, to make religious expression more immediately relevant. Since each church is adjusted to the needs of a different community, there is a great variety among Community Churches in worship, work and witness styles, and methods. The number of mega-churches continues to grow. Over two million
people worship in mega-churches each week. There are now over 1,300 mega-churches with more than a thousand worshipers (more than half are in CA, TX, FL & GA) Community Churches: What Are They? What Are We Talking About? 2010 Handbook of Denominations in the U.S. (pp. 272-274): Mega-churches may be compared to the shopping malls and warehouse stores that proliferated during the same period of American history. They offer a dazzling variety of services under one roof: counseling, worship, private schools, support groups, teen clubs, movie theaters, health centers, sports teams, travel agencies, business associations and food courts. The theology and doctrine of community churches and megachurches varies according to the beliefs of the pastor
Some New Paradigm churches advertise themselves as churches for people who do not like church. Many community and megachurches adopt some of the attitudes, style, and practices of the Pentecostal churches, but are less fervent in their promotion of tongues, healing, and prophecy. Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago) Senior Pastor: Bill Hybels Saddleback Church Senior Pastor: Rick Warren
(near Los Angeles) The textbook being used by Community Churches Willow Creek Its Origin Willow Creek is one of the most successful and famous community churches, and it has developed its own national network of similar growth-oriented non-denominational congregations. The church grew out of a popular youth ministry of the South Park Church in Park Ridge, Illinois, which included about 1,000 teenagers. The group was led by Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of Willow Creek, who employed
contemporary music and drama as a way to apply the Bible to the lives of American teenagers (Handbook of Denominations, p. 284) Later, they felt compelled to offer this innovative and creative style of service to an adult audience. Incorporating contemporary music, drama, and multimedia technology, the new congregation first met on October 12, 1975, in Palatines Willow Creek Theater with an initial turnout of 125 people. In three years, attendance grew to 2,000 peopleOne Saturday service was added, then another. Now, 20,000+ attend six weekend services. (http://www.willowcreek.org/history.asp) (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2382.html) Saddleback Church Its Origin In 1979in Southern California, Pastor Rick turned his attention to
those who didnt attend church regularly. Two weeks after Pastor Rick and Kay arrived in the Saddleback Valley, they began with a small Bible study, meeting with one other family in the Warrens small condo. On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church held its very first public service and 205 people, most of who had never been to church, showed up. Today, it is one of Americas most influential churches, with approximately 20,000 people attending the weekend services Pastor Ricks 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church put the principles that led to the churchs success in print Now, more than 200,000 church leaders from around the world have been trained in Saddlebacks purpose-driven philosophy. (http://www.saddleback.com/aboutsaddleback/history/)
(http://www.saddleback.com/aboutsaddleback/ourpastor/) Willow Creek How It Got Started A door-to-door survey of the local community taught them why people stayed away from church. When Hybels decided to plant a churchhe took survey teams through the community, asking those people who admitted to being unsaved or unchurched, why they didnt regularly attend a church. According to Hybels, the survey revealed that people: didnt like being bugged for money found church boring, predictable, and routine didnt think that the church was relevant to their lives always left church feeling guilty (the Christian message
was too negative with sin, etc.) (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2382.html) (http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/hybels.htm) http://www.wisconsinchristiannews.com/view.php?sid=1005) Willow Creek How It Got Started Pastor Hybels worked to create a church that corrected these issues Through the Willow Creek Association, the church is developing its own denominational identity, but the distinguishing characteristics are those of style and structure rather than doctrine or history. Currently there are about 8,000 congregations in the AssociationTens of thousands of church leaders have
been trained in the Willow Creek model (Handbook, p. 284) Saddleback Church How It Got Started In November 1973Idrove 350 miles to hear Dr. W.A. Criswell speakrenowned pastor of the largest Baptist church in the worldI had no doubt God had called me to ministry, but I was unsure if God wanted me to become a pastor (Purpose, p. 25) As I listened to this great man preach, God spoke personally to me and made it very clear that he was calling me to be a pastor. Then and there, I promised God Id give my entire life to pastoring a single church if that was his will for me. (Purpose, p. 26) During the summer of 1979, I practically lived in university
libraries doing researchI was twenty-five years oldAs I sat there in the dusty, dimly lit basement of that university library, I heard God speak clearly to me: That's where I want you to plant a church! My whole body began to tingle with excitement, and tears welled up in my eyes. I had heard from God (Purpose, p. 33-34) Saddleback Church How It Got Started I decided that we would make no effort at all to attract Christians from other churches to Saddleback. We would not even borrow workers from other area churches to start Saddleback. Since I felt called to reach unbelievers, I determined to begin with unbelievers, rather than with a core of committed Christians. This was not the way all the books on church starting
said to do it, but I felt certain that it was what God was calling us to do. Our focus would be limited to reaching the unchurched for Christ, people who for one reason or another did not attend any existing church (Purpose, p. 39) I spent the first twelve weeksgoing door-to-door talking to people...I wanted to listen first to what they thought their most pressing needs wereFelt needs, whether real or imaginary, are a starting point for expressing love to people (Purpose, p. 3940) Saddleback Church How It Got Started Six years earlier I had read Robert Schullers book Your Church Has Real Possibilities, which told how he had gone door-to-door in 1955 and asked hundreds of people, Why dont you go to church? and What do you want in a church? I wrote down in
my notebook five questions I would use to start Saddleback: 1. What do you think is the greatest need in this area? 2. Are you actively attending any church? If they said yes, I thanked them and moved on to the next home. I didnt bother asking the other three questions 3. Why do you think most people dont attend church? when I asked why they thought other people didnt attend they usually gave me their personal reasons anyway. 4. If you were to look for a church to attend, what kind of things would you look for? 5. What could I do for you? What advice can you give to a minister that really wants to be helpful to people? (Purpose, p. 190-191) Saddleback Church How It Got Started
After about eight weeks I summarized what wed learned about the unchurched and their hang-ups about church in a philosophy of ministry statement. It became the blueprint for our evangelism strategy (Purpose, p. 41) Next, I wrote an open letter to the unchurched of the community based on what wed learnedI just figured that an open letter to the community might be the fastest way to get the word out about our new churchThe first sentence of that letter clearly stated our focus and position. It said: At last! A new church for those whove given up on traditional church services. It went on to explain the kind of church we were starting (Purpose, p. 41) Saddleback Church How It Got Started The letter addressed the major concerns of the unchurched and
announced a church service designed to counteract the most common excuses they gaveThe entire tone of the letter was written to appeal to what the unchurched were looking for (Purpose, p. 193) I knew that if our church was going to attract and win the unchurched, it was going to take a different kind of service than I grew up with. What style of worship would be the best witness to unbelievers?...We even planned a dress rehearsal (Purpose, p. 41-42) Saddleback has helped establish over 30 daughter congregations around the country and appears to be moving towards becoming its own denomination. Warrens 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church made Saddleback and its pastor internationally famous. The church reports that over 350,000
church leaders have been trained in his model of church growth (Handbook of Denominations, p. 281) Why is The Community Church called The Community Church? Because of its desire and intent to create a church that appeals to the wishes of what the community would have the church to be What would happen if a church sought to appeal to the wishes of what the Lord would have the church to be? How the Bible Says to Start a Church Recognize the origin of the Lords church goes back to the
day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and MUST be modeled after that/HIS church. Go back to the Bibleit alone has Gods plan for His church. Plant the seed, which is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). When the pure Word of God is planted, it will grow the same church in any land (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17). Follow the pattern of the Word of God for every aspect and work of the church (2 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5; Col. 3:17). Giving man what he wants in a church (his felt needs) creates mans church, NOT GODs! We need to/must give God what He wants in His church!
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