I would like to encourage those who have experienced these tactics to write me a note here. You can write anonymously if you wish.
“Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” The Borg’s declaration might as well be the Church Growth Movement’s mission, with its megachurch culture.
Thanks to a Facebook post, I was led to Berit Kjos’ “Dealing with Resisters Who Refuse to Compromise their Faith,” an article about the deceptive tactics employed by the Church Growth Movement (CGM). Kjos provides ample quotes from the popular church management manual, Leading Congregational Change (LCC), promoted by Bob Buford’s Leadership Network. Rick Warren of course enthusiastically endorsed this manual, “This is a book you ought to read before you change anything.”
As I read this article, I was amazed at the reality of CGM’s treacherous strategies, especially against “resisters,” in many churches. I hear these tactics from almost all those who stand by the Scriptures against the unbiblical methods of CGM. The LCC defines “resistance” this way:
Resistance is the ‘opposite reaction’ to change…. [It] can come in many different forms—confrontational or passive-aggressive, from known troublemakers or loyal supporters, as a result of a specific change or of an incorrect perception.
One “resister” writes:
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.
This is familiar territory for God’s faithful prophets, apostles and disciples. They all suffered rejection, mockery and shaming for proclaiming God’s true Word. The apostle John’s words about the wicked Diotrephes are eerily similar to CGM’s:
Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church (3 John 1:9-10 ESV, emphasis added).
Kjos lists six common treacherous strategies employed by these church growth movements such as Saddleback, G12 and their copies, Hellsong, and Willow Creek, to name a few. In the Philippines, there are several megachurches that fit this wicked movement.
1. Identify resisters.
“Change leaders should expect resistance to team learning … Recognizing and making this resistance explicit to other team members tends to lessen its grip. It takes time for a group to emerge as a team, and all the concerns and resistance related to teams will resurface during this period.” “Resisters” have a target on their backs.
2. Assess resisters and determine the degree of resistance.
“Treat Each New Initiative as an Experiment. … People are less resistant to a short-term experiment than they are to a ‘permanent’ change. … An experiment signals that the leaders do not claim to have all the answers.” An example of this deception is when G12 agents tell a church that has misgivings about its Charismatic practices that it’s okay if the church doesn’t believe in their practices. Then, slowly, they will indoctrinate the church with their Charismatic doctrines and worship.
“Continually Monitor the Commitment Level. Healthy congregations have good feedback systems. As change occurs, commitment levels will vary. For some people any change calls for a ‘withdrawal from the emotional bank account.'”
3. Befriend, involve and persuade borderline resisters.
“Change agents have little tolerance for such an uncompromising Biblical position. It gets in the way of total and continual change. Therefore, LCC warns its readers to remain vigilant, keep promoting the vision (or purpose) and build congregational support.”
4. Marginalize more persistent resisters.
“Some loss of members is likely throughout the change process. Even at this late stage, some people will decide that they are not on board with the vision and that they need to leave. When this happens, leaders must be willing to allow people to find a different place to worship…. The worst mistake is to compromise the vision to try to retain a few members.”
This reminds me of a pastor whom our PCUSA church hired in the early 1990s. In his second or third sermon, he mentioned about the changes that are being made (CGM changes), and to those who don’t like the changes, he said, “we could use your parking spaces.”
5. Vilify those who “stay and fight.”
“At this stage, negative labels, accusations and slander are permitted, if not encouraged, to circulate. Resisters — now labeled as divisive troublemakers — are blamed for disunity, for slowing the change process, and for distracting the church body from wholehearted focus on its all-important vision, mission or purpose.” Has anyone ever seen this tactic?
6. Establish rules, regulations, laws and principles that silence, punish or drive out resisters.
“Rick’s Rules of Growth…. Third, never criticize what God is blessing, even though it may be a style of ministry that makes you feel uncomfortable” (emphasis added).
“We’ve come across numerous references in the Purpose-Driven literature to a concept called ‘abandonment.’ It is a Peter Drucker concept that has to do with businesses abandoning parts of their business that don’t make money. In the private sector (churches) it translates into churches … abandoning people who don’t go along with the flow — the ‘laggards’ who won’t participate in the transformation. A church split is seen as a good thing, in that it gets rid of those people who are blocking progress towards church restructuring” (emphasis added). Exactly what G12 does to every church it infiltrates.