TESTIMONY: My experiences in a seeker-sensitive and purpose-driven church (David Choiniere)

by David Choiniere – Guatemala/Guatemala-City  site: Dominionismo en todas sus formas

I want to share my story of my experience at Real Life church. That is the name of a church where I live. I went there in 2008 but left after such a frustrating time. The problems were multiple and I had such difficulty intregrating into the church.

Real Life church is basically a seeker sensitive church. They follow the method of Bill Hybels from Willow Creek. The services were interspersed with videos, in fact the sermons were divided into two parts with a video inbetween. The sermons were mainly motivational, a lot of positive stuff about how God wanted to bless us. They also had disco lights during the worship time and even dry ice to make for special effects. They even blinked the lights at the people leading the worship to make them seem surreal when they moved. It was more what you’d expect at a rock concert. And, of course, the music was quite loud with rock overtones.

They were not preaching the gospel of prosperity outright but it was part of a total package of how God wants us to live nice and be in good health. The pastor actually used to say that he was called to reach the entrepreneurial class of the city and so they put on all kinds of financial seminars to attract the businessmen and women. This attempt to attract the entrepreneurial class seemed a way to attract people with money so as to get bigger tithes and offerings.

I tried to get to know people by getting involved but I felt stymied in my efforts. I felt that they rejected my efforts to get involved in the various ministries. One lady even insulted me when I said I wanted to get involved in the children’s ministry. She was in charge of the children’s ministry. I tried to talk to the pastor about all these problems but he would not answer my phone calls. He even ignored my letter that recounting my frustrations. I finally found a way to contact him through a contact link on the website and he accused me of making things up with the desire to cause trouble. That was never my intent. I tried to get counselling as I had numerous problems in my life at the time. But the counselor at the church seemed to ignore me too. The church seemed more like a social club than a church. They did not make a real effort to reach out to others. People went to meet with their friends and do business too.

I was also getting upset that they were having many seminars and and charging a hefty price. Every year they had a video conference where they taught ‚leadership principles‘. This was done directly through Willow Creek. What this had to do with the gospel was a good question, I guess not much but the conferences were very popular. I did not have that kind of money and so I didn’t go.

Their men’s retreats were even more expensive and seemed a way to weed out the less financially endowed. If you had money you could chill out with the pastor, if you didn’t tough luck.

I got the impression with all this that the churches‘ main concern was the money. You had to pay for everything. Even music concerts were paid concerts.

They bought a radio station in which they put on light programming that they had started a few years before on another Christian radio station. They had a staple radio show called Vaya Con Dios in which they mixed motivational books, books on finances with other so-called Christian books. They just talked about the contents of the books in conversational style. Very light stuff.

I should say that on the radio program they purposely avoid words they consider to be loaded, words like sinner, cross, saved, salvation, hell, and repentance.These words are central to the gospel message. Their argument was that they did not want to put any obstacle in the way that might offend people who were not saved. That is the philosophy of seeker sensitive churches everywhere.

They used the techniques of Bill Hybels to grow their church. Hybels started Willow Creek by doing a survey. Hybels asked what the people what they disliked in the churches and why they did not go to church. Then he asked them what they wanted and started Willow Creek using that information as his guide. It all sounds good but in the end they create a social club where people go there to meet their friends and make business deals. Spiritual concerns seem to be much lower on their list of priorities.

NOTE: The Robert-Schuller-student, Bill Hybels is titled by C. Peter Wagner as an Apostle (!!!)

Later they constructed a building, which was to become their main centre, only they did not put a church name on it but, instead, called it Convention Centre Illumina, which they rented out to outside groups which wanted to hold conferences. One time they rented it out to a beauty pageant but the outcry was so great the pastor eventually apologized. Still, the damage was done. That’s what happens when you mix the world and the church.

The church has started using multiple sites as a way to increase its status and influence. At the sites people can watch the preaching on a video transmitted live via internet. That way they can avoid a possible long drive to the main location. Still, the church system smacks of a McDonald’s franchise.

I spent a year there but I would not recommend it at all. We need to go to a church where the gospel is taught in all its power and where Jesus is centre.

Be careful about selecting a church. There are many that are preaching a compromised gospel. They may be seeker sensitive or purpose-driven or maybe some other plan pleasing to men. These churches want to please men and not God. They would not know what the real gospel message it it hit them in the face.

God bless you

Jesus is Lord


posted by Siegfried Schad © David Choiniere all rights reserved.


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