"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"The Miracle" of Saddleback

You may have read the reports how Rick Warren's Saddleback Church was $900,000 behind in their 2009 receipts heading into the New Year. Rick Warren sent out a letter communicating this shortfall to the congregation, and they responded by giving $2.4 million in just a few days.

This is very interesting. A few comments I have, which are mixed, but I would love to hear views of others regarding this "miracle".

My thoughts:

- Warren was quite successful, no doubt. But was this God demonstrating his mighty power, as Warren says, or was this a demonstration of the power of his cult personality - that he can get people to fork over $2 million plus with a letter? Warren himself said: "This is pretty amazing. That’s a record. I don’t think any church has gotten a cash offering like that off a letter.” Maybe he should run for president, and send a letter out to ask for donations to fix our deficit.

- Notice that Warren didn't try to guilt or threaten his people to get them to fork over the money. He didn't tell them to give it else they would go into debt. He didn't say our economy is a wreck because of their poor giving habits...and by golly he didn't even tell them to give it "undesignated". He just communicated the shortfall, and people responded. I do admire that. Didn't tell them they were robbing God if they didn't give.

- Said Warren in a Tweet Sunday morning: "Radically changed lives at Saddleback 'vote with their wallet' to show their love for Jesus. $2,400,000 CASH given midweek." There is something there that bothers me...that Christians, by writing a check to a mega church at the request of a mega church pastor who says the church needs a million dollars in two days....ARE SHOWING THEIR "LOVE FOR JESUS". Were these people really showing their love for Jesus in their gifts?

- Warren says there were no big contributors, but that every gift was less than $100. I have a hard time believing that. If the average gift was say $75, that means there had to be 32,000 gifts of $75 to reach $2.4 million. I find that VERY hard to believe, that there were no large gifts that contributed to the $2.4 million. Pardon my skepticism on this point.

What are your thoughts? Most churches in the SBC and others were behind double digit percentages in 2009, but Saddleback made their shortfall up quite easily - what is there to be learned in this?

26 comments:

Pastor Pryme said...

I agree with your points, especially your skepticism over the claim of no large gifts. Knowing what I do about Warren (which is all publicly available, not some inside connection), esp. his being a proud member of the CFR, I'm sure that the big lesson here is how he commands and controls without the people being aware of it.

And that's his genius, his conquest through "peace". Of course he'd never threaten people with sin or hell, since those are "hate" words and he'd never use them*. He is a Robert Schuller protege so it always has to be "positive". Remember, this is the same guy who went to Syria and saw no persecution of Christians.


* Not publicly anyway. He reserves them for "dissenters" who question his methods, teachings, or connections.

Bro.Rod H. said...

Ditto Pastor Pryme,Warren is your classic wolf in sheep clothing,a Schuller disciple and a master manipulator.
I don't believe much of anything this guy says or much of what he does!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't get over the mind-control this imposter has over people. Scary thing is, is that I know of so many seminary people that love this fool. Seminary people are usually pretty arrogant ERRR confident in their so-called discernment ability, yet they rave about this moron. They just can't wait to get their own church so they can instill Warren's false teaching, psycology and all other fleshly ways. Oh, and they can't wait to get to rich off of it, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't think God is about the money and you do not show your Love of Jesus by giving money. However, if you have to build and maintain a mega church, with mega salaries and a mega foundation from which to launch your own literary career, then you must convince the people that they need to give money in order to worship God. Charisma is the key here. Use Charisma to get people to like you, follow you, and ultimately, to give you tons of money. Manipulate them into thinking they must do this if they are to be saved. This is the same as selling indulgences. You can get filthy rich selling indulgences. A mere pittance of the money goes to helping the needy, the hungry, the homeless, the fatherless, the widows. Throw a bone to these causes and make sure everyone knows about it and they are ready for another couple of million in donations.

Anonymous said...

I don't think God is about the money and you do not show your Love of Jesus by giving money. However, if you have to build and maintain a mega church, with mega salaries and a mega foundation from which to launch your own literary career, then you must convince the people that they need to give money in order to worship God. Charisma is the key here. Use Charisma to get people to like you, follow you, and ultimately, to give you tons of money. Manipulate them into thinking they must do this if they are to be saved. This is the same as selling indulgences. You can get filthy rich selling indulgences. A mere pittance of the money goes to helping the needy, the hungry, the homeless, the fatherless, the widows. Throw a bone to these causes and make sure everyone knows about it and they are ready for another couple of million in donations.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - if you want to listen to an excellent sermon on suffering, why Christians suffer, what this suffering means in a larger global context of why anyone suffers, listen to John Piper's sermon delivered 12/27 at Matt Chandler's church.

I had to listen to it multiple times to get the full meaning of the message.

You can listen to it here:

The Village Church Sermon Archive

I like that the Village Church also posts transcripts of sermons. I would like to see churches do more of that, since most of us are much faster readers than listeners. John MacArthur does this for all of his sermons at Grace to You.

Anonymous said...

The ability to get great financial support for any mega church is a fascinating phenomenon. It's interesting to see "what sales pitch works". There must be a school of "higher learnng" which meets in order for the mega pastors to train these boys to accummulate wealth and riches. Strange indeed, when one considers that most of these entities do very little, if any to assist the downtrodden, poor, or needy which are all around them. Just goes to show that many are called but "few" are chosen. Some of the most cold and insensitive persons I have ever met were mega pastors. Many have a total disregard for what they say or do as long as the "goal" (?) is accomplished. I recall the Bible declaring that the righteous will not be forsaken or seen begging for bread.

If God desires a church to prosper it can be done without letters of solicitation, tv commercials, bake sells, cookies, bazaars, special offerings, etc, etc, even a "put us in your will campaign". They try to get your money even after your dead. Some put the "wealthy" on guilt trips in order to "get the money". Now if the congregants all went deep sea fishing and each caught a fish which had a 20 dollar gold coin inside of them, now that would be something else again. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

A fool and his money are soon parted!!!

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with everything that Rick Warren says or does (especially when he is out of his element and off topic), I believe that he is a bright spot and a good spokesman for Christ.

I have never read The Purpose Driven Life. I must be the only guy in the US who can say that.

This event demonstrates, again, that people will give to something about which they are truly enthused. Casting a positive vision is the best way to encourage people to give. That is clearly Warren's forte.

It is not surprising to me that the people of Saddleback would give to get their church out of a hole. I don't know anyone personally who goes there, but my impression is that the people genuinely love the congregation and Rick and are excited about the ministry there. No guilt is needed to try and motivate them.

I do wonder about the math and no gift being over $100. I would be surprised if Warren actually knows that. We do not permit our pastor or staff (except the Director of Administration) to see who gives what to the church.

The other point I take away from this is whether the church is going to make some systemic changes to deal with the economic realities that are now present. If they come back next year with the same deficit, I would be wondering how well the place is run.

Louis

Pastor Pryme said...

Warren is a good businessman and organizer and salesman.

Problem is, the church is a Body, not a business or club.

And no one on the CFR is to be trusted. I say this out of study and research, not ignorance. The man went to Syria and betrayed both his country and his faith, which alone is grounds for dismissing any amount of "good" he appears to do. He is a Dominionist, a globalist, and an ecumenist, who tells pastors to get rid of anyone who doesn't get with his program.

Atheists can do good deeds, some of them to the point of putting Christians to shame. So can Mormons, and even some Muslims. On the other hand, some who have pristine Christian doctrine display cold blood and stony hearts, worse than many unbelievers.

Clearly, we cannot judge on the basis of either doctrine or deeds alone, but only both together. And Warren's actions, his less publicized teachings, and his twisted Purpose books tell us all we need to know about him.

If we who are charged with guarding the flock do not begin exercising discernment, we will be harshly judged.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Reading your post, I see you are catching on. The tactics might be different depending on the guy' personality but the long term goals are the same.


"Warren was quite successful, no doubt. But was this God demonstrating his mighty power, as Warren says, or was this a demonstration of the power of his cult personality - that he can get people to fork over $2 million plus with a letter?"

This is exactly cult of personality. That is why Warren sent the letter. It is also why there was a corresponding press release and we are reading about it.

"- Notice that Warren didn't try to guilt or threaten his people to get them to fork over the money. He didn't tell them to give it else they would go into debt. He didn't say our economy is a wreck because of their poor giving habits...and by golly he didn't even tell them to give it "undesignated". ."

This would not work with Saddlebackers. As Pastor Pryme points out, Warren is a protege of Schuller. How did Schuller get his Crystal Cathedral built and maintained? Positive thinking. The one thing you do not want to do is to get cancer if you attend one of these positive thinking mega's. It is too negative.

Warren is very talented. He is father of church transitioning. He is the one that pioneered the tactic that dissenting a sin. But you would never know it because he is such a positive great guy in public.

If anyone has had the opportunity to read his transitioning the church forums at pastors.com,before he passprotected them, you would see he is actually training wolves. But they are positive wolves if you never publicly disagree, that is.

" Said Warren in a Tweet Sunday morning: "Radically changed lives at Saddleback 'vote with their wallet' to show their love for Jesus. "

This is the stuff you have to watch. This could very well be borderline blasphemy. One should think long and hard before they use the Name of Jesus for such strategies.

"Warren says there were no big contributors, but that every gift was less than $100."

Mega folks believe what they are told. I can assure you it is not true. Can I prove it? No. Just experience.

Notice the wording. Note the amount they collected OVER his original goal.

Keep in mind they set that original goal number for a reason. Most likely they had most of it pledged BEFORE they went public.

Their real goal was to get more than their stated amount. (See, everything has to positive. There can be no failures or they are dead meat. Everything is about success or it would mean Jesus is not on their side)

This is typical practice for mega fundraising. It is not hard to find 1-2 million pledged from a small group before you go public.


" what is there to be learned in this? "

"Man" can do great things.

Now, where are the corresponding budget cuts?

Matt

Anonymous said...

I had a sociology professor in college who was very popular and charismatic. I used to look forward to going to class each week. He taught us that rape was an act of violence, then, this translated into women have the right to dress provocatively. When I pointed out that how women dressed had nothing to do with an act of violence and the right to dress provocatively is an unrelated topic, I was squashed immediately by the Professor and the entire class. That is when I learned that a gifted speaker, with a long term captive audience, can manipulate the crowd to think and do almost anything. It has nothing to do with being chosen or blessed by God. Be careful who you let fill your head with ideas. The gift of discernment is prescious.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Matt and PP: What is the "CFR" (to me that means "Code of Federal
Regulations").

Anonymous said...

Tom, I am not sure what CFR means.


"Casting a positive vision is the best way to encourage people to give. That is clearly Warren's forte.
"

If I never have to hear 'casting a positive vision' again in my entire life, I would be happy. Would anyone want to 'cast' a negative one? And how does one 'cast' a vision? Obviously, it takes a 'great' leader.

And why do we need man made visions for the Body. Isn't Christ and eternity with Him enough for folks? Maybe they need man made visions because they don't really understand the Gospel.

Sorry, but mega seeker lingo is a bit old to me. The 'casting positive vision' stuff has been around for years. It is right out of the pastor as CEO handbook.

Matt

Pastor Pryme said...

Sorry, CFR = Council on Foreign Relations. :•)

Pastor Pryme said...

article on Warren, CFR, etc.

Anonymous said...

Regarding preachers who say you are "obligated" to tithe. And for those that argue since we follow the OT commandments like "do not murder" so we are also obligated to tithe, check out these verses and think about what it means. Now read them again and substitute the word :tithing" for "circumcision." Get the point?

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

It's (the above) is in Da'Book.

Anonymous said...

The message says the above even clearer:

Galatians 5 (The Message)

1 Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

2-3 I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

7-10 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don't toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

11-12 As for the rumor that I continue to preach the ways of circumcision (as I did in those pre-Damascus Road days), that is absurd. Why would I still be persecuted, then? If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn't matter one way or the other. Why don't these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves!

Amen. You can't have it both ways. Am I "obligated" to tithe or not? Is it in da book or not? Are those that teach others not to tithe "doing the work of satan" or not? Mac Brunson needs to be held accountable for what he arrogantly yells and tells his "sheep" what they are obligated to do, and what is the Holy Scripture. (Please don't refer to it as being "da book" That is so disrespectful to the book and to us.)

Anonymous said...

Now, one last time with tithing substituted for circumcision and my comments in parentheses.

Galatians 5
The Life of Freedom
1 Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let (a money hungry pastor)anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
2-3 I am emphatic about this. (Because I know some slick talking orators will try to get the helpless sheep to fork it over) The moment any one of you submits to tithing or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning (because you won't believe it applies to your preacher the first time you read it): The person who accepts the ways of tithing trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. 4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. (Has it happened in your church or not?) When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects (ie: building programs, big salaries, huge overhead, etc.), you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. (Sounds like you lose your salvation, but that is another topic.) Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

7-10 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you (a new mega-church celebrity?), deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.(perhaps it is the work of satan?) And please don't toss this off as insignificant.(Hear me!) It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. (or permeate a once great congregation) Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you (arrogantly demanding you tithe), whoever he is (even a mega pastor), will bear the divine judgment.

11-12 As for the rumor that I continue to preach the ways of tithing (as I did in those pre-Damascus Road days), that is absurd. Why would I still be persecuted, then? If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn't matter one way or the other. Why don't these agitators, obsessive as they are about tithing, go all the way and castrate themselves!

Amen and Amen!

New BBC Open Forum said...

Re: "vision casting"

"If I never have to hear 'casting a positive vision' again in my entire life, I would be happy."

Amen, Matt! A friend of mine wisely and succinctly put it this way:

"Where has the Lord Jesus ever presented this doctrine? I mean, it's like Jesus is standing somewhere with a bow and arrow, and attached to the arrow is this thing called a 'vision.' Then Jesus releases the arrow and it zings through 'Pastor' and lands on the ground before us. As it lands we bow to it as a sacred 'message from God.'"

Anonymous said...

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I Cor 13:3.

Anonymous said...

It amuses me to see that "Dr Smyrl" has copied Rick Warren's facial hair beard with his "new grown up look" - they could be brothers! :>)

Sad day in Jacksonville, the homeless left stranded overnight in the cold with shelters overflowing while the downtown church building's sits idle.

There's no hurting for monies at FBC - we have the 6 figure affluent preachers busy downtown and their administration planning their soon to be 2010 for annual getaway on River Cruise (Europe,Russia,China, Egypt)

Anonymous said...

CFR? Thats conspiracy talk.....

Former FBC Insider said...

From the LA Times,
"spokeswoman Kristin Cole said, Virtually all of the individual donations were for less than $1,000according to the church, she added. More donations remain to be counted."

Also reportedly the donations came from "22,000 congregants" at that point and that more were being counted since that date.

As someone posted earlier on this blog, most churches don't reveal the giver's names and amounts to the pastors. So, maybe Rick has it wrong and the church spokesperson, Kristin Cole has it more accurately at no more than $1,000 each individual donation.

Where's Richard when you need him to do his math?

Anonymous said...

"Showing their love for Jesus?" Maybe! After all Jesus said "Where your treasure is there your heart will be also!"

jer1022 said...

"Mind control" my rear-end! People have a choice to do whatever they want to do and whatever they feel God wants them to do. For whatever reason, you guys just have a problem with these men who God has chosen to use in a HUGE way!

You also accuse these guys of "man made visions". All through scripture, God communicated His vision through his servants/prophets. From your reasoning, this would be "man made visions" and therefore wrong. If not the pastor, who is going to give it to us...unless you think God is going to communicate His vision directly to you...then, if you tell anyone about, it would at that point (again, according to your reasoning, be "man made")!

God is changing and has changed many lives through Saddleback, and He is changing lives through the ministry Rick Warren! No matter how you condemn Rick and Saddleback, this is a fact...God is using them!

By the way - he does use the terms "peace and hell"...just read some of his writings/books (Purpose Driven for one). I would be careful if I were you, to do just a little bit of reading before you make ridiculous statements like that. Actually, a little bit of reading (directly from the author/pastor, not people who are reporting on what the person says), might curtail at least some of your condemnation!

By the way (#2) - Saddleback did say that the media did not report everything accurately (imagine that)! I go back to the fact that maybe you should go directly to the source on many of these things. Of course, with you guys it really won't matter. You will find something wrong with anything they say.

Jerry