By Paul Proctor
July 4, 2004
A friend and fellow researcher recently sent me a disturbing article from Christianity Today entitled, “Small Groups: The Movement To Change Society.” We share a common concern that the church is being captivated by man-made movements forwarded in the name of Christ. She co-authored an excellent article herself entitled, The Pied Pipers of Purpose, which I consider a must read for anyone troubled by this latest version of Theory and Practice now underway in the postmodern church.
One of the trademarks of this movement is a vague and duplicitous language. Its participants regularly employ terms that mean one thing to biblically literate Christians and often something else to “seekers,” secular society and the enemies of Christ. It enables change agents within the church to craftily guide followers in an ungodly direction without being exposed.
It is quite common for church growth advocates with psychology backgrounds to take scriptural words and apply them to unscriptural concepts while taking secular terms, common to humanists and occultists and apply them to seemingly biblical objectives. The end result is a lot of duped and confused Christians going along to get along.
Some of the more common words used with many meanings are: “change”, “community”, “connect”, “conversion”, “emerging”, “experience”, “healthy”, “facilitate”, “felt needs”, “leadership”, “passion”, “purpose”, “reach”, “relationship”, “relevant”, “renewal”, “revival”, “revolution”, “seeker”, “small group”, “transform” and “vision”, just to name a few. Assuming these terms are referring to spiritual things, believers are innocently co-opted into social programs, mind games and global agendas sponsored by individuals and organizations calling themselves “Christian.”
Here is an excerpt from the aforementioned Christianity Today article that clearly illustrates how easy an alternative agenda can be validated and advanced in the church by simply employing biblical terminology.
“There are two kinds of conversions: a spiritual conversion, which every person must have—and a small groups conversion—which every pastor or church leader must have: A Christian conversion and Community conversion. Small groups are not just another program in a suite of church offerings. Small groups are the church—it's the primary way people get transformed—life on life.”
We know from scripture that for anyone to receive eternal life there must be a “conversion.” (Matthew 18:3) However, the article’s author applies the same biblical word to advance an unbiblical notion; that a “small group” or “community” must also be converted in order to change society. He goes even further to say that it actually TAKES a small group for someone to be “transformed.”
First of all, there is absolutely no directive in scripture that teaches or even suggests a need for group salvation, small or otherwise. God saves men and women individually, not collectively, though many may receive Christ at the same time during a church meeting or revival gathering. They weren’t redeemed as a group or because of a group; nor were they saved in stages ending in a group conversion, but as individuals, once and for all by the power of God.
Each of us is solely responsible for his or her own spiritual condition, conversion and subsequent walk with Christ. To try and turn salvation into a group exercise or experience is to subject oneself to a dangerous form of mind control involving group dynamics; all for the benefit of an ambitious few endeavoring to expedite social change through them.
The idea of small groups came not from scripture but from psychology. In spite of the article’s generally accepted premise, small groups are not more edifying but only more therapeutic. In a small group setting, people are much more inclined to open up emotionally and share their feelings and opinions than they are at a large gathering.
Expressing our feelings and opinions rather than learning the Word of God is the rotten fruit of this practice. It sounds good and feels good to undiscerning participants but in reality, undermines the gospel of Christ and leads us into compromise and the peer-pressure of groupthink. This is the territory of transformational Marxists – an emotional minefield of manipulation and deceit made possible by controlling human interaction.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2
Here the Apostle Paul uses the word “transformed,” to address one’s personal need for salvation, sanctification and edification. However, by applying the word “transformed” to “small groups” and “community,” the article’s author introduces the reader to another agenda; a social transformation; (changing society) validating it by use of a biblical term intended specifically for the individual and his or her own spiritual need, not the social needs of a community. Here, the only “transformation” going on is the transformation of Christianity into socialism; the implementation of strategies, tactics, techniques and training programs that utilize the Hegelian dialectic – the tool of transformational Marxists.
I attended a Sunday School teachers training class a couple of years ago where the attending “facilitator” stated that our job as teachers was to “transform our class.” I immediately interrupted him to say that it was the Holy Spirit’s job to transform people; mine was to simply to teach the Word of God. After reluctantly agreeing with me, he went on to say that establishing and maintaining relationships was more important than teaching biblical facts (scripture).
This, my friends, is exactly how the “transformation” they speak of takes place – teaching us to put human relationships, our feelings and the feelings of those we bond with emotionally OVER the Word of God. If we’re not going to teach the bible then we shouldn’t call it bible study or Sunday School. We should call it what it is – group therapy.
Adam took the forbidden fruit Eve offered him in the garden in spite of the Lord’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Scripture says Adam was not deceived. He made a fateful choice that day to disobey the expressed Word of God, valuing his relationship with Eve more than his relationship with God. Now we’re doing the same thing with human relationships in the postmodern church and calling it “being relevant to the culture,” when in fact, it is compromise and corruption disguised as love and compassion.
Good teaching occurs regardless of a group’s size. All it takes is a knowledgeable, Spirit filled teacher and a humble willingness by participants to be taught. If large groups were unteachable, there would be no Sunday morning sermons and conference leaders wouldn’t bother to rent huge conventions centers and auditoriums for their presentations. It is however, hard to teach anything of substance to those who come only to share their feelings and be entertained by a charming personality.
Small groups keep people in check, largely in the dark and less concerned about the overall direction of a church body and thus more manageable by its leadership and those guiding them from without. While feeling “connected” to their own little crowd, there is often a clear disconnect when it comes to the church as a whole because attention is always diverted toward the small group.
Another downside to small groups is the often-overlooked fact that they require more walls, rooms, space and teaching materials to accommodate each of the classes. And, as a result, more money is needed to provide space for them – sometimes a lot more. This makes small groups expensive and, more often than not, compels churches to borrow money from secular institutions to do what God has not provisioned them for. And, in doing so they become servants to their lenders instead of their God, repeatedly forcing the church into yet more compromise down the road just to meet the numbers. It should also be noted that other more pressing needs frequently go unfunded or under funded as a result.
Having more groups also requires more teachers. And, in order to fill more slots, the church often recruits less qualified individuals who might well end up doing more harm to a class’s theology than good. Just because someone is available and willing to teach does not mean they should. The bible is very clear on this issue.
“My brethren, be not many masters, (teachers) knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” – James 3:1
Another point that needs to be made here is that in spite of the church growth movement’s “global vision”, it is not the job of the Church to “change society” but rather to call sinners out of it. Jesus did not come and die on a cross to change the world but instead to save you and me from it.
By contrast, the world is replete with evil forces ever working toward change. And, from the look of things, I’d say they’ve been successful. If God’s plan is to change society, I would have to say He is failing miserably and has been for thousands of years. Society as a whole is no better now than it was when Cain killed Abel. And frankly, in many ways it’s worse. Proponents of the church growth movement, however, are telling us that revival is underway. Who are they kidding? Quite a few, actually…
Of course there’s nothing wrong with society changing for the good. In fact, if there were more people in this world that followed Christ and obeyed His Word, it would indeed be a better place. But, Jesus did not commission us to “go ye into all the world and change society.” And, if we take our eyes off of Him and look to the world with a view to change it, in our pride, we will instinctively set our own agenda, make our own plans, implement our own schemes and devices and concentrate our efforts on getting results rather than being obedient.
The CGM is attempting to fabricate the “Kingdom of God” here on Earth; ultimately joining in the uniting of the world’s religions and cultures, slowly and incrementally, under an interfaith guise of tolerance and understanding; the same utopian philosophy and dream global elites and occultists have been working toward for centuries, now cloaked in something called “evangelization.”
You see “God” is just another of those ambiguous terms that means different things to different people. And, it is out of respect for this universal “God” that divisive doctrine is readily discarded for the sake of world unity and truth is exchanged for a manufactured peace. Remember, this is a religion of relationships at work here and church growth leaders are systematically bringing us all together using our feelings and emotions in preparation for a new world under an ecumenical God.
In the meantime, the Lord is calling His own out of it; saving them one soul at a time; building His church for a Kingdom He told Pilate was “not of this world.”
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” -- 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18
There is indeed more than one gospel being taught today – more than one Jesus being proclaimed and clearly an alternative agenda at work. We would do well to make sure that we are a part of the one Christ ordained and not the one being organized and coordinated by His nemesis posing as an angel of light.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:6-10