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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Vic Young Interview 4

A few weeks ago, Vic sent every registered active pastor in the FGBC the paper he is presenting to Oxford. (I reviewed his paper here). The day before BNYC, I called Vic and interviewed him.

You can find out more about Vic and Fountain of Life Bible Church by following the links. You can read about his conversion and the beginnings of Fountain of Life in and also his answers about the difference between faith and reason. Vic has also shared why he is concerned about some of evangelicals current popular trends.

CC: I found the four points that you took from Hybels’ sermon in 1990 to be pretty interesting. I thought what I could do is take those four points and just name it, and you tell me what the concern is with each of those points:

a. Anonymity:
People want to just come in and not get involved. For example, here’s one from two-three weeks ago. I went in to see my eye doctor. He said, “Hey, are you the fellow I see on TV and read about in the newspaper?” I said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Do you go to church anywhere?” He said, “I go over here to Grace Fellowship.” Now Grace Fellowship is a very large church in this area that really utilizes the Rick Warren Purpose Driven Philosophy. Yet, I know the pastor is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. I know he loves the Lord, believes the Bible is inspired and inerrant Word of God. But they really adhere to the Purpose Driven Church Growth Movement. I said, “Well, they teach a good theology there. I know what they teach. I’ve been to the church on my vacation time. Are you a member?” He said, “Oh no, no, no. I’m Jewish. My kids like to go there because they’ve got all these neat programs. I’d rather be out on the golf course. But it’s a good atmosphere.” So here’s a cat that can go in there, get lost in the crowd, take advantage of the entertainment factor, the wow factor, the fun factor, and not have anything required of him. I can come in, be anonymous and go back out.
b. truth presented at an introductory level: Yeah, don’t deal with sin harshly. Don’t get up there and say homosexuality is sin. It’s just like Rick Warren, when he was asked on Dateline if he preached on abortion. He said, “Oh no no, that just upsets people.” We need a positive message. Introductory level. Let’s bring them in, give them a positive message, so they can go out with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Maybe later down the road, when we get them in a class or something we’ll start to deal with hamartia, maybe a little bit. But not now or we’ll run them off.
c. time to make a decision: Let me look at Christianity and see if it fits into my lifestyle. Don’t rush me. Don’t push me. Don’t preach on sin. It goes hand in hand with the sin factor.
d. excellence in programming, creativity, humor, contemporary worship, relevancy: Obviously, this is a paper, not a book. I could have expounded on each of these topics in depth. This format doesn’t afford that. Here at our church we have great music during our worship. We’re always doing different things. But the whole idea behind the church growth movement is the fun factor. The wow factor. Whatever it takes. We are instructed in I Corinthians 10, whatever we do, do it to the glory of God. We see the same thing in Colossians 2 and 3. But in the church growth movement, it’s about the wow factor, the fun factor, the entertainment factor.

Have you ever been to Saddleback church? (my answer: No.) Oh man, it’s the slickest presentation. You’ll think you’re at a Broadway presentation. You have the best singers, musicians, best orchestra. I believe in doing everything we do to the glory of God. But it’s another thing to try to be competitive to the world and cater our music, cater our art, cater our talents to be comparable to the world. For example, in a lot of contemporary Christian music right now, which I’d cover if I ever expound on this paper to a book. I love contemporary Christian music. However, the secular market has so penetrated the contemporary Christian music market that whatever is big right now in the secular market, the Christian market will find some cat that can sound just like that guy. You would think they just changed the words. When Christians ought to be leading. Christian music ought to be breaking new ground. Instead, we’re taking, and this is indicative of the church growth movement, we’re just copying everything of the world instead of having our own identity.

CC: In your letter that accompanied the paper, you state the FGBC is the most biblical Christian Body you have been privileged to associate with. However, you’re also deeply concerned with the impact the “church growth movement” has had on our fellowship. Can you share any specifics?


This is my last year of being on the Fellowship Council. At National Conference this year they’re offering a class on Purpose Driven. Some of the larger churches have been invited to what they are calling “The Gathering.” Church growth movement has been so pushed and propagated in the Fellowship as well as, when I was on the CE board, a lot of the Willow Creek teachings. And I think these men are sincere. But I think, and I use this term cautiously, but I think ignorant, you know, ignorance is just a lack of knowledge. This is how I refer to it in the paper. They see the numbers in the Fellowship are dwindling. We’re basically an older church and it’s dying out. The stats are there. We looked at them on the Fellowship council. And so it’s almost panicky. What can we do to keep this from happening, to see the church grow and to save the Fellowship? And I think they are reaching out into areas of the church growth movement that they don’t need to. I believe it’s the most biblical [fellowship]. I’ve been associated with the Presbyterian Church of America, the Christian Church, Missionary Baptist. I’ve got a lot of different affiliations in one shape or fashion. That’s why we chose to affiliate with the Grace Brethren. I like the fact that it is not a denomination. It is a Fellowship. I love their unofficial credo, “The Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible.” I believe they come from a basically reformed background. Not “hyper,” but definitely reformed. Yet, the very thing I think is our Biblical strength, is our biggest weakness. It is because every church is autonomous, other than our basic credo of the basics of salvation. It leaves a lot of wiggle room. For example, I know there are one or two professors at the college who are very weak in their belief of historic, Biblical creation. Particularly dealing with the 24 hour day issues and such. In fact, I had confronted someone about his book that had what I thought were a lot of deconstructionist ideals. It surprised me that a lot of Brethren ministers had never read it, yet it’s being used there at the school. After I made my confrontation, and they brought a bunch of folks down to Roanoke to show me that I was wrong. It was pretty interesting, because after we had that meeting, Dallas Theological Seminary came out with a report stating everything that I had stated. I’m not saying they are extreme liberals, but the seed, the incipient seed. The seed of a more modernistic view is being detected in the Fellowship and that needs to be exposed now before it has a chance to germinate.

CC: Vic, we both love our local churches, and certainly as pastors, can strive to protect our Body from becoming enamored with the “church growth paradigm.” But for a fellowship of autonomous churches, is there anything that can be done to curb this trend in our larger fellowship?


Really, things such as your blog, such as my paper that I sent to every minister in the Fellowship. That’s all you can do. Just like I said in my letter that I enclosed, “the things that bind us are greater than the things that we differ on.” This is not a salvation issue, but it is a dangerous issue. Because, in my affiliation with the Church of the Brethren many years ago. Very conservative, to the right, Christian organizations have often times swung like a pendulum in the course of history to the opposite direction. And when you get on the slippery slope, it can slide exponentially.


  • At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Question: Which seminar at conference was about Purpose Driven?

  • At 1:11 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i was at the adult conference, but at the youth conference, kurt johnson came to speak to youth leaders.

    we were encouraged to hear his advice on youth ministry because:

    a) he's at saddleback
    b) his youth group is big

    those were the reasons that were stated for us on a couple different occassions.

  • At 1:11 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i meant to type i WAS NOT at adult conference.

    my fingers (at 6 words per minute) move a little too fast for my brain at times


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