C?N just posted this quote from the Christian Post from an interview with Erwin McManus, saying that he is arrogant and has misconceptions over why the church is declining

A cutting-edge church leader known for his innovative ideas on reaching a post-modern generation for Christ contends the reason why churches are declining in America is because they are self-centered.

“My primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent so they see the church as a place there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them,” said cultural architect Erwin McManus, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, to The Christian Post Monday.

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

I am confused where the arrogance and misconceptions are shining through in this quote.  I do not make this statement to be insesitive or cutting, but what would the ODMs say is the primary cause of rapid church decline?  Judging from their theology, it would simply be that God is not electing like He used to.  Or, maybe the seeker-sensitive movement is just coming to full fuition.  If that is the case, according to their theology, God is still not electing as many as he used to.  Either way, they hold a very strange view on God’s relationship with His bride, and His love for humanity.  On one side of their mouth, the ODMs blame the modern church for the decline today.  On the other, they say that God is sovreign and all things are predestined only by Him.  It seems like they may be the ones that have misconceptions over why the church is declining.  At some point you have to sit back and see that this all doesn’t add up. 

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 at 6:18 pm and is filed under Editor, Emergent Church, Ken Silva, Linked Articles, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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28 Comments(+Add)

1   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
January 15th, 2008 at 7:10 pm

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

Its a lot easier to crawl up on a soapbox, point your finger and demand people do exactly what you say than it is to actually love and serve.

2   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
January 15th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

I have to admit to being really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really confused.

A good part of Slice/C?N and other ODMs is the rightful (though ungraciously presented) decrying of the self-indulgence of much of the Western church.

If I had been given this quote without the author, I would’ve guess MacArthur, not McManus.

I honestly hope that someone comes along and explains how this quote shows arrogance.

3   Darren Sapp    http://www.vaporministries.blogspot.com/
January 15th, 2008 at 8:06 pm

What CRN has done here is not Christian, not research, not discernment, and not ministry but it is online.

It is a weak and shallow ad hominen attack. The editor needs give some biblical justification why that post edifies the body.

4   merry    
January 15th, 2008 at 8:26 pm

If there was as much urgency in regard to spreading the gospel as there is discussion, arguments, and gossip among Christians, the whole world would have heard about Jesus by now. :)

5   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 15th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

I have an opinion also why the church has been in decline. I wrote a whole chapter on it called “The Old Testament Church”. This is taken from that chapter in my ebook When Faith Came. I wrote this over two years ago, but I still think it is the cause of some of the decline still today. I am sure there are other factors at play also, but I don’t see it as “self-centeredness” or “self-indulgence” as the cause. I disagree with McManus.

(Page 220 When Faith Came)

The reason that I believe the church has been in decline and disarray is not because it has the wrong structure and needs a new one (i.e. cell/ small group, new paradigm, new thing), but I believe it is preaching the wrong message. When the true gospel is preached, there were thousands added to the church daily, yet there are pastors preaching the “gospel message” all over the world in churches that are struggling for only one or two to be “saved”. The rest of the world is turning away from what is being preached in the “Christian churches” today and toward all sorts of different religions of the world (Wicca, Witchcraft, Hindu, Buddhism, Scientology, New Age, etc.). Today the church has responded by starting to preach “unity of all faiths” to bring everyone back under the banner of “The Church”. I think I know why.
This same thing went on in Paul’s day in the Bible. In Paul’s case, hearing the Gospel message alone did not convert Saul (surnamed Paul). Saul heard the Gospel being preached and thought it was blasphemy.

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any OF THIS WAY, whether they were men or woman, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem (Acts 9:12 KJV).

At that time Saul was a devote believer in (Jehovah) God and the whole Old Testament, (books of Moses, Ten Commandments, the Psalms of David, the proverbs of Solomon, the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and all the minor prophets), and even after all this Old Testament knowledge, Saul (Paul) still went around persecuting Christians in the name of God! He had even sat at the feet of the great Bible teacher of that day, Gamaliel. Which tells me that the true Gospel was hidden from men in the Old Testament.

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets BY THE SPIRIT; (Ephesians 3:3-5 KJV).

Later though something happened in Saul’s (surnamed Paul) life that so radically changed him that the Bible says that he now preached the faith that he once destroyed.

But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed (Galatians 1:23 KJV).

WHAT CHANGED? The gospel message was the SAME! The words hadn’t changed. What changed Paul and turned his life totally around was meeting the one who the Gospel was talking about and having the witness of the Holy Spirit enter into him. Now Paul’s writings are considered every bit as divinely inspired as the Old Testament prophets’ words are!

For our gospel came NOT unto you IN WORD ONLY, but also in POWER, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Let me explain further. During Paul’s day, the Old Testament was being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. People had heard it taught for years, even from their youth, yet the world turned from the Old Testament and toward witchcraft, idol worship, Greek and Roman gods, and many other different religions just like today. The reason being is salvation and peace with God could not be gained through the Old Testament. Its purpose was to make people realize their fallen state and their need of a Savior. The Bible calls the Law the “ministry of death” because it cannot give life even if you keep it to the very letter (2 Corinthians 3:6-18 KJV)! In fact the New Testament gospel was so different from what the people were use to hearing in the preaching of the Old Testament that they claimed that it turned their world upside down!

But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; (Acts 17:5,6).

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and SHALL CHANGE the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:8-15 KJV).

What I hear being preached in the churches today, and on TV, and radio is a big move to go back to the Old Testament. And like Paul’s day, the world is once again rejecting what is being preached and turning back to other religions for salvation and to try to find peace with God because they cannot find it through the Old Testament church that has evolved today. You can only stone someone for so long and then they are going to get up and go looking for bread elsewhere……..

F Whittenburg
http://www.christiannewbirth.com/whenfaithcame.html

6   Neil    
January 15th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

I think saying “the church is in decline” is incorrect. American churches may be in numerical decline, but that says nothing about “the church”, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.

Neil

7   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 16th, 2008 at 12:55 am

Neil said: “I think saying “the church is in decline” is incorrect. American churches may be in numerical decline, but that says nothing about “the church”, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.”

I was also talking in my previous comment about the numrical drop as the decline in the “organized religion” we call “the church” today. I should have been more specific. The Bible does talk about a great falling away from the faith in the end, so we may just be seeing a fulfillment of the prophesy (2 Thess 2:3 KJV).

When I left the Baptist “church”, some men in the congregation would pray under their Hebrew prayer shawl and the congregation would also be singing “Come Holy Spirit”. Does this give anyone any insight into the theology that is being embraced by “the church” today? The Hebrew prayer shawl has become very common in the church today. Has anyone thought to stop and wonder, why (1 Corinthians 11:4 KJV)?
People can pray how the want and worship how they want, that’s between them and God, I am just using the Hebrew prayer shawl as an example to show the move back to the Old Testement by the church.
I pray blessings on the Jewish nation, because they are God’s chosen people, but I am a Gentile who by the New Testement, has been made a partaker of the Jewish inheritance, not the Jewish religion, as Paul taught also.

But I certify you brethern, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither recieved it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in TIMES PAST in the JEWS RELIGION (Mosaic Covenant), how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: (Galatians 1:11-13 KJV).

I think many have forgotten this warning from Jesus to the CHURCH at Philidelphia!

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which SAY they are JEWS, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee (Revelations 3:9 KJV).

If you want to stem the decline, there is one way.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 12:32 KJV).

The “church” today doesn’t need a “new paradigm shift” to be effective, IT NEEDS A NEW TESTEMENT!!

F Whittenburg
http://www.christiannewbirth.com/whenfaithcame.html

8   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
January 16th, 2008 at 6:57 am

Oh, merry, stop confusing the issue with facts. ;-)

9   jazzact13    http://jazzact13.blogspot.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 9:12 am

Why is the church in decline (assuming it is)?

Probably lots of reasons, some having to do with the church, other with those outside the church. Certainly, the various scandals from WoF haven’t helped, and the fact that those people gained so much money by hook and crook hasn’t said much for most Christian’s discernment.

On the other hand, we have to keep in mind the state of those in the world, that “men love darkness rather then light, because their deeds are evil”.

I suppose there is plenty of blame to go around. The church perhaps hasn’t always presented itself in the best way, though unlike McManus seems to think, I have a good bit of respect for the ‘average Christian’–the people who live and work and try to deal with their various responsibilities in what they see as a Christian way. I would bet that most of the dirtying of the name Christian comes not from the average Christian, but from the big names.

I don’t like McManus’ statements. There’re the sort of “You’re selfish and you’re not doing enough” rhetoric designed to cause guilt in already harried people who probably don’t have enough time as it is for their varied responsibilities.

10   Chris P.    
January 16th, 2008 at 9:17 am

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

Uhhh……. that is not so in the authentic church.
Whp is braodbrushing now?
Criticizing structures, methods, and denominations is justified, as they do not represent the one true church in total, or at all.
This does not affect “election” at all. God is still adding daily all who are being saved. The problem is men like McManus, the ecm, and most of what is represented here, etc think they have something to do with salvation. Preach the Word, as that it was brings faith, and let the Holy Spirit do His job.
All “methods” are irrelevant.
If you ask me, McManus was really describing the post-modern church that has been coming into existence. It is the most self-indulgent, and immature thing going.
He requires obedience and not sacrifice/religion/mystery/liturgy………
As for Fred’s comments, I am against the wearing of prayer shawls and all the trappings of the Hagee/Stone/ Messianic cult. I find all wannabe religion to be obnoxious. That being said, the church pays scant attention to the OT, much to its detriment. We should be able to preach the Gosepl from the OT, Jesus did.

11   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
January 16th, 2008 at 9:47 am

I don’t like McManus’ statements. There’re the sort of “You’re selfish and you’re not doing enough” rhetoric designed to cause guilt in already harried people who probably don’t have enough time as it is for their varied responsibilities.

I think its less “you’re not doing enough” and more “you’re not doing the right things”.

12   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
January 16th, 2008 at 9:56 am

He requires obedience and not sacrifice/religion/mystery/liturgy………

So you’re all for obedience based religion and salvation now right? Is it safe to say you’re obeying Jesus for your salvation?

Hey if you guys can take people out of context, I can too.

Careful Chris.

Joe

13   jazzact13    http://jazzact13.blogspot.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 10:14 am

–I think its less “you’re not doing enough” and more “you’re not doing the right things”.–

Perhaps. That’s not an unreasonable way of seeing his statement, though I can also see the “youre not doing enough” in it, too. Perhaps it some of both.

At any rate, as chris p pointed out correctly, it’s painting with a broad brush, and it’s not something I can say that I see as someone who is “in the congregation”, so to speak.

Maybe it’s a bit of a thing with me. I don’t like it when preachers go on like this, with general and vague condemnations of people who are either literally or figuratively under them.

Understand, I have nothing against being critcized when it’s warranted. I don’t see McManus’ remarks as being helpful, though. It strikes me as simply more guilt-causing rhetoric.

That might even be acceptable, if he were speaking to people who are guilty. But at least what is given above, I can’t say that he is.

I think about how God through the prophets criticized His people, and most often He didn’t just condemn, but also gave the reasons why–they disobeyed the law, they worhsipped idols, they did this and didn’t do that, etc.

14   Neil    
January 16th, 2008 at 10:29 am

If I had not been told that the McManus – I would have thought it was MacArthur or Silva… not sure who that indicts…

As for who’s more selfish – the modernist church of our parents or the post-modernist church of our children: I’d answer – “Yes.”

As for – “The Bible does talk about a great falling away from the faith in the end, so we may just be seeing a fulfillment of the prophesy (2 Thess 2:3 KJV).” – that whole argument is way to ethnocentric for me to swallow.

Neil

15   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
January 16th, 2008 at 10:58 am

Jazz,

I need to push back on something you said.

I don’t like McManus’ statements. There’re the sort of “You’re selfish and you’re not doing enough” rhetoric designed to cause guilt in already harried people who probably don’t have enough time as it is for their varied responsibilities.

that statement is exactly what McManus is pushing back against. We are all so busy in our work, home, family, mninistry, small groups, discipleship classes.., so what get’s pushed to the backburner? Evangelism. Unfortunately, Americans have lost some sort of responsibility (guilt might work too) for reaching the lost.

16   Neil    
January 16th, 2008 at 11:03 am

Nathan,

I’ll open a brief window into my head – as frightening as that may be…

I am on staff at a large, but by no means mega-church. Lately I have become more and more aware of the the fact that we have offered so many “program” for our people that they cannot be in the world because they are too involved in church stuff.

YES, I am seriously thinking I should start preaching that too many of our people are too busy doing “church stuff.” of course by “church stuff” I mean all the stuff that is good, but not best – or missional.

17   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
January 16th, 2008 at 11:12 am

I think it stands to reason, from much of what you can read from emergent authors, and see from EC peeps, that the EC is more about ‘evangelism’ and ‘reaching out’ than many congregational churches that I have been to.

Joe

18   jazzact13    http://jazzact13.blogspot.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 11:37 am

–that statement is exactly what McManus is pushing back against. We are all so busy in our work, home, family, mninistry, small groups, discipleship classes.., so what get’s pushed to the backburner? Evangelism.–

But that just raises questions about what is meant by evangelism. Is work a part of it? What about home and family? One may assume that most ministries have at least some focus on evangelizing.

My point would be that ‘evangelism’ has to do as much with the day-to-day living out a biblical life, rather then only with direct outreach and speech. That’s not to denigrate direct God-talk with people, that is necessary, but living the life is important, too.

19   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 11:59 am

Neil,

YES, I am seriously thinking I should start preaching that too many of our people are too busy doing “church stuff.” of course by “church stuff” I mean all the stuff that is good, but not best – or missional.

I often state that I am against a Program Driven Church…
Yet, I am also quick to state I am not against “programs”….

The big difference to me is the focus of the program. Is it just an alternative to the world? and if it is, which does not mean “bad”, is it a pale shadow of the worlds version?

Also, is its focus pushing out or looking inward. Is it just to get people in the doors or to get those in the doors to go out and live lives in such a way that they show Jesus.

I do agree that some churches have programs for everything… even alternative AA meetings which do the same thing. I can see if one has fundamental differences with AA to have a difference, but to just do a “Christian”version of AA seems redundant and a waste of resources.

Another thing about “programs” is, do they keep people out of doing ministry? I went to one PDC (purpose/program) and had to jump through so many hoops and take so many classes just to lead a bible study, I just gave up. After I left that church I started the church plant… but it took me a year to finish all the hoops before I could even be considered a “legit” bible study of that church! Meanwhile I went to the church I go to now and attended it twice and the third time sat down with the pastor who asked me to be an intern pastor at that church… One I see followed “programs” the other the “Holy Spirit…

Which is my biggest thing… when programs replace the Holy Spirit…

I hope I am coming across clear here.

iggy

20   merry    
January 16th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Wow, at my church there aren’t even that many people involved with church stuff. A lot of people just come to church on Sunday morning and keep a pew warm. These are the people who fight about whose canned beans are better, and threaten to leave the church because their food accidently wasn’t set out at a potluck.

I really appreciate the Christians I know who get out and knock on doors and share the gospel. If every single Christian could do that, it would be great! :)

21   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 16th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

“Which is my biggest thing… when programs replace the Holy Spirit… ”

Amen Iggy, many times programs and groups in the church are designed to be the “Comforter” instead of the Holy Spirit.

F Whittenburg

22   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
January 16th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Merry,

These are the people who fight about whose canned beans are better, and threaten to leave the church because their food accidently wasn’t set out at a potluck.

Classic. Simply classic. I know Christians like this. One stormed out of practice for praise band because we wouldn’t give her her own solo microphone….(ps, she can’t sing, she’s tone deaf…). I mean..it’s worship singing, not solo performance singing. We weren’t being mean about it, we just wanted her to sing with the other people.

I’ve seen the potluck thing too, total shenanigans.

Joe

23   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

F W,

I also think that many “pastors” try to be the Holy Spirit in others lives… it is amazing that some want to control others so much. They seemed to have forgotten they are pastors for the Chief Pastor… and not the Chief Pastor themselves.

iggy

24   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 16th, 2008 at 12:50 pm

“I also think that many “pastors” try to be the Holy Spirit in others lives… it is amazing that some want to control others so much. They seemed to have forgotten they are pastors for the Chief Pastor… and not the Chief Pastor themselves.”

Amen, Iggy! Good reminder! The pastors job is to show the congregation how to have a true relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, not to become that relationship and the congregations “spiritual father”.

Feed the FLOCK OF GOD which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over GOD”S HERITAGE, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Sheperd shall appear, ye shall recieve a crown of glory that fadeth not away (1 Peter 5:2-4 KJV).

I think too many churches today have members that are “children of the pastor” instead of “children of God”, born of the pastor, instead of born of the Spirit.

F Whittenburg

25   merry    
January 16th, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Joe C,

Yes, the canned bean incident really happened . . . It was two sweet ladies at my church who hate each other. One brought a jar of canned beans to a potluck, and the other lady (in charge of putting food out the table) for some reason didn’t want home-canned beans (health or safety related issues, I’m not sure). Anyway, big argument ensued, with the canned bean lady threatening to leave the church (the pastor talked her out of it). It was one of those things that I found absolutely hilarious, but I didn’t want to laugh too loud . . . anyway, enough gossip. The point here is that many Christians really don’t seem very urgent about spreading the gospel. Sad, IMHO.

26   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
January 16th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Neil,

I completely understand! We are about to go through some MAJOR changes at one of our venues. Everyone is too busy doing “ministry” to connect with non-believers. We are actually shutting down the building Monday-Saturday. Nothing is allowed to happen there. All ministry is now being moved to apartments, homes and work places. We have completely shut down 2 ministries because no one has come to Christ in those ministries for two years. We need to start taking drastic measures if we are going to stop playing church and BE the church.

Jazz… I would say that if we were living and doing relational evangelism, we would not be in decline. Most Christians have little to no non-believing friends in their life. When you ask them who they could lead to Christ, it is usually something like the mail-man or the Starbucks barista. If every Christian was investing in at least one non-believer, the church would look DRAMATICALLY different.

27   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
January 16th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

F Whittenburg…

we also have WAY to many mature Christians who are still looking for a place to be “feed”. We have created an incredibly dysfunctional institution.

28   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 16th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

“we also have WAY to many mature Christians who are still looking for a place to be “feed”. ”

I noticed that too.

“We have created an incredibly dysfunctional institution.”

I still see “builders” operating in the church today doing all sorts of “building”, functional and dysfunctional.

A wise man once said, “One may build a church, but it will not be Christ’s church”.

F Whittenburg
http://www.christiannewbirth.com/whenfaithcame.html