How the Church Growth Movement Manifests Itself at GCC

John Macarthur’s Purpose Driven Ministries

This section will show that the church growth model is operative in the two singles ministries at GCC and that The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) is a church growth org. This section will briefly expose the 2 singles ministries (which were exposed 2 years ago) and then it will expose in detail the church growth org, TMAI.

Two ministries at GCC that adopted the TQM/PDC model are the singles ministries called The Foundry and The Guild. These ministries, as of 2 years ago (2006), had both the structure and the language (buzzwords) of the TQM/PDC model. Soon after these ministries were exposed, The Foundry removed 15-20 pages (I counted 19 pages removed) from their website. These pages weren’t changed; they were removed. The pages removed were the pages that contained the language which indicated the presence of the PDC model. In similar fashion, The Guild also removed many pages from their website. In removing pages from their websites, I firmly believe that those who oversee The Foundry (Mr. Rob Iverson, Kurt Gebhards) and The Guild (Tom Patton) were engaging in an effort to further conceal the presence of this model within these ministries. Due to these changes and deletions, much of the evidence in this paper regarding the Guild and the Foundry has been deleted from their websites. Since these ministries were exposed, the Guild has changed its pastor. For these reasons I will refer to these ministries in the past tense. Many of the removed pages can be viewed here.

The information given in the section about TMAI is all new and up to date. Most members of GCC may not know anything about TMAI. I will show conclusively that TMAI is a church growth org run by men with church growth backgrounds. The expose on TMAI is lengthy and so I beg for the reader’s indulgence.

The Guild

“Catch the Vision at the Guild”

The opening page of The Guild website stated: “We purpose to dramatically impact GCC, our workplace, and the world around us with unrestrained expressions of the love of Jesus Christ through worship, evangelism, service and discipleship…” Worship, evangelism, service and discipleship are four of Rick Warren’s five purposes (ministry being the fifth). Although these purposes are all biblical, these Christian terms take on new meaning when used in the context of church growth. Terms are redefined in the church growth movement (CGM) as a deceptive ploy. Notice that the Guild statement mentions only the “love of Jesus Christ” and not His judgment or wrath. Utilizing a non-offensive type of evangelism is a common mark of the CGM.

On the right column of the Guild website was a section called “Tom Talk.” This section contained a weekly letter written by Tom Patton, the then pastor of the Guild. These letters, which were often, if not always, about “relationship issues,” were closed or signed off with the phrase “catch the vision at the Guild” or a slight variation thereof. Tom Patton closed his letters to the Guild with the following: “Catching the vision is clear communication to all at the Guild,” “Initiate catching the vision for yourself at the Guild,” “Catch the vision of love at the Guild,” “Catch the vision with us from the mountain peak…at the Guild” and “Catching the vision at the Guild is always the right response.”

Recently, I spoke on the phone with a pastor who was working as the “pastor of the day” at GCC. I asked him if the GCC pastors were engaged in vision casting and if he believed it was biblical. This pastor confirmed to me that some pastors at GCC engage in vision casting, and he defended the practice to me as being biblical.

On the wall of the Guild meeting room was a banner which emphasized unity. The “u” in “Guild” stands for unity. Organizational unity is the goal of the CGM. Are the Guild members unified by God’s Spirit or are they (were they) unified in a man-made vision?

The members of the Guild were divided into many teams and small groups. Some ministries at GCC call their small groups “core groups.” Core group isn’t a biblical term. It may be of interest that on the opening page of the Core Discipleship Ministry website is the satanic symbol 666 (a triquetra).  This site also instructs small group leaders in the art of vision casting. If one studies “core group theory,” then one will be studying the group dialectic process [the triquetra has been removed from their website].

Two years ago, the Guild had 12 teams listed on its website. Each team had a purpose. For example, the “Helping Hands” team “purposes to plan, coordinate and, when necessary, facilitate the needs of the Guild…”

One Friday evening I attended the Guild Bible study at GCC. There were about 100 people in attendance and after a short sermon on relationships, Tom Patton told us to divide into small groups. We divided into 5 groups of about 10 men each and 5 groups of about 10 women each. Each group met in a circle and each group had a leader. Tom Patton gave the topics that were to be discussed by the groups. The men and women were given different topics for discussion. The topic for the men to discuss was a social topic that involved relationships.

The leader in my group proceeded to start and direct a dialogue on the topic that Tom Patton had given. Some men in my group were talking about the troubles they had in past relationships (with women) and one man was spilling his guts to the group as he recalled his past relationships. I had gone to the Guild expecting a Bible study. There were no Bibles open in my group and I didn’t see a Bible open in the entire room. After much more dialogue, my group leader stated, “So we can all then agree that trust is important in relationships?” Clearly, my group leader was trying to reach a consensus.

What was going on at the Guild this Friday night? Why did Tom Patton divide those present into 10 small groups? Why were we dialoging a topic on relationships? Clearly, these weren’t Bible study groups; as no Bibles were open. What was the purpose of these small groups? There can be no doubt that these group meetings were dialectic sessions where diversity gathered in a facilitator-led meeting, utilizing peer pressure, to dialogue a social issue to a pre-determined consensus.

During this dialectic session, I asked my group leader why we were meeting in groups. He told me, in the presence of the others, that the purpose of these groups was for “relationship building and bonding.” He didn’t say that the purpose of these group meetings was to study the Bible; nor did he say that the purpose was to build a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said the purpose of the group meeting was for “relationship building and bonding” (with others in the group). That the groups stated purpose was for “relationship building and bonding” further shows that these groups were dialectic (brainwashing) sessions.

“Relationship building” is a necessary component of the dialectic process used in the TQM model and used at GCC. A church whose primary focus is on human relationship building is a church that has ceased to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

At this Friday night Guild meeting, regarding those who study the Bible, Tom Patton stated, “They will study information without seeking transformation.” To what kind of transformation was Mr. Patton referring given that he was “casting his vision” to a congregation participating in dialectic (brainwashing) sessions.

Diversity is a necessary component of the CGM because it is needed for the dialectic process to work (diversity in unity). Was there diversity (mixture of believer and unbeliever) at the Guild? I’ll answer this by saying that when I arrived at the Guild, I was greeted at the door and later ushered into a small group; no one at any time ever asked me if I was a Christian.

The “Guild Single Parents Service Event” was organized by the Guild “Activities Team.” In this event, each Guild single parent who so desired had a “team” assigned to them. The team is “designated to serve the parent.” Nine teams were listed to serve nine different parents. Let me give a few examples from the Guild website. Team 2: “This parent would love it if some Guild guys would spend a day in the park with him playing football and then enjoy fellowship over dinner at an area restaurant.” Team 3: “This parent would love it if Guilders would take him and his child to the Will Rogers Museum, then to Mom’s Kitchen (restaurant), at the corner of Van Owen and Coldwater Canyon!” Team 4: “This parent would love it if Guilders would come to the house and help get rid of weeds and other unsightly things in the yard that are preventing fun summer BBQ’s and green grass! Let’s have pizza and wonderful fellowship!” Team 8: “This parent seems to never get time to herself and would love a ‘day away’ from the home. Ideal would be a pedicure or manicure and then a movie. What a blessing that would be.”

Christians are called to love the brethren. We should help each other. But do Christians need to be organized in teams to help a single parent in need? Should single parents depend on a team or on God for their needs? Christians are placed in numerous teams in the CGM so that they will become accustomed to think in a group and to think for the collective. As I have shown, this collective group mind will also maximize demonic influence over the group members.

The Guild website encouraged the Guild members to support several “Guild Friendly Businesses.” The businesses mentioned included Starbucks and AMC Theatres.

Starbucks is anti-Christian to an extreme, but “Guild friendly.” They sponsor gay pride parades, homosexual organizations, and they have sponsored the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards. They are also pro-abortion as Starbucks financially supports Planned Parenthood as a “matching gift company” (One can see this on the Planned Parenthood website). Starbucks also places pro-homosexual quotes on their cups. Oddly enough, according to one website, the only “Christian” quoted on their cups has been Rick Warren. It appears that the Guild and Starbucks have found common ground in Warren. One is quoting him while the other is/was embracing his ministry model. AMC Theatres, another “Guild friendly” business, distributes anti-Christian, anti-American propaganda.

Was the Guild a seeker friendly ministry? When a visitor went to the Guild, he would be “meeted and greeted” at the door (meeters and greeters are used in the PDC model); food and drink would be offered; there would be guitar music and announcements would be accompanied by a big screen video display. Attendance would be taken and a short sermon would be given (on the night I went the sermon was about relationships) and then small groups would be formed for the purpose of relationship building and bonding. I have been told that these small groups are still being formed at The Guild. On the night I was there they were all planning to go to the movies together. They were planning to see the movie, “Chronicles of Narnia,” which is occult entertainment based on the book written by CS Lewis. They were also planning a trip to Big Bear, a local resort.

Many at Grace Church believe CS Lewis was a great Christian apologist. I have heard at least one leader at Grace Church state that the works of JRR Tolkien are “Christian.” JRR Tolkien was a Roman Catholic and a close friend of CS Lewis, who was Lutheran. According to “Hermetic Imagination: The Effect of the Golden Dawn on Fantasy Literature,” the works of Lewis and Tolkein were strongly influenced by their friendship with the English novelist, Charles Williams, who joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1917. 90. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical order in late 19th and early 20th century England to which many prominent figures belonged. This secret order, along with the Theosophical Society and the Rosicrucian Order, was one of the principle influences on 20th century occultism.

Is “The Guild” at GCC named after the medieval guilds that were infiltrated by Rosicrucianism and evolved into Masonic lodges. “By James I’s time,…a lodge system had already been established within the guilds of ‘operative’ stonemasonry and had begun to proliferate across Scotland. By the end of the Thirty Years War, a system had filtered down to England. In its general structure, it seems to have coincided most felicitously with that of Andrea’s Christian Unions; and it proved more than ready to accommodate the influx of ‘Rosicrucian’ thought. German refugees thus found a spiritual home in English masonry; and their input of ‘Rosicrucian ideas’ was the final ingredient necessary for the emergence of modern ‘speculative’ Freemasonry.” 91.

The Guild website also displayed photos from trips to Catalina Island, the Hollywood Bowl, cruises, museums, chili cookoffs, miniature golf, ice skating, Medieval Times Outing, Mountain-day trip, Speed Zone Outing, and beach parties. At one time, the Guild website announced the “Guild 2006 Winter Games Day” on their events page. These activities shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the Guild Activities Team “purposes to provide a fun, comfortable, and dynamic atmosphere for fellowship…” One would have a hard time finding a more seeker friendly ministry than the Guild, unless one goes to the Foundry.

The Foundry

Visions—Core Groups—Ice-breakers—Relationship Building—Leadership Development—Radical Transformation

The Foundry ministry also contained both the structure and the language (buzzwords) of the PDC model. This ministry was divided into many “core groups” and ministry teams. On the Foundry website is a page titled “core groups” which gives a definition of core groups. It states, “Core groups are gender specific groups of 4-10 designed to provide all members of The Foundry with an opportunity to build deep and abiding relationships.” This proves that the stated definition of the Foundry “core groups” matches the stated purpose of the Guild small groups: relationship building. Notice that the stated “core groups” definition did not say that the “core groups” were for Bible study; nor did it state that the “core groups” were for building a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear, that through their “core groups,” the Foundry, like the Guild, has enabled the dialectic process by creating an “environment” for the purpose of relationship building. This is antithetical to Biblical Christianity because faith in and obedience to God hinders relationship building.

Let me provide examples of some of the language of the change process (PDC) at the Foundry. Every team in the Foundry had a “purpose.” The Foundry website stated that “there are nineteen ministry teams that are divided into four ministry groups.” For example, the Integration Team “purposes to be an instrument used to encourage and facilitate active involvement from every member of The Foundry by planting them in Coregroups and Ministry Teams. We work together with the Visitor Team to welcome new visitors and pursue their involvement within the Foundry.” This is the same language as Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Model. This is where the pastor will plant you in ministry; tell you where you will serve; and tell you how you will serve. The Integration Team went on to say: “Team member responsibilities include…pursuing relationships and encouraging involvement. It is also expected that every member of the Integration team would be an active and faithful participant in a Coregroup.” This is what is required of the members of Saddleback Church (Warren’s church) and all PDC’s. At Saddleback, all members are required to sign a covenant agreeing to participate in a small group (core group). In TQM, all must participate (no child left behind).

The Killer V’s (New Visitors Team) “exists for the purpose of serving new visitors. This includes meeting and greeting…” “Greeters” are at Saddleback Church and the PDC’s. “Meeters” and “greeters” are part of the “seeker friendly” CGM. The Killer V’s go on to say: “at its core, we are a Care team…” What is a Care team? In some church growth orgs, a CARE team is an acronym that stands for “Create A Relational Environment.” In Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Church”, CARE ministries are described. “Mission of CARE Groups To connect and grow people in Christ through relational environments.” 92.

The Killer V’s then state: “We want to meet the needs of all visitors, provide them with information, and ultimately get them involved in Core Groups and Ministry Teams.” This is the language of Rick Warren’s PDC. Meet the “felt needs” of the new visitors and then plant them in ministry. This type of approach to ministry denies the power of God because only He can place one within the body of Christ. Also, these teams at the Foundry, busy shuttling people through to leadership positions in ministry, directly violate the Word of God; for as James 3:1 states: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”

Another ministry in the Foundry which was violating James 3:1 is called “The Leadership Group.” A team within this group is called “LIT.” “LIT purposes to develop leaders who will influence the body of Christ by reproducing themselves.” Although this purpose is not given in God’s Word, it is from the TQM/PDC model. In TQM, a leader/change agent is to recruit others into the dialectic process, and then “transform” them so that they are now leader/change agents bringing others into the process, and thus, “reproducing themselves.” The term “Leadership” is used quite often in the CGM as it is in the world. In the CGM, the term “leader” refers to being a “change agent” who leads others to change (transformation).

Let me provide more examples of the transformational language of the CGM (TQM/PDC) within the Foundry. “Local Outreach” stated, “Our vision is to make radical followers of Jesus Christ.” “Radical followers” is new paradigm language. The Global Outreach team “purposes… that sinners everywhere may come to radically transforming, saving faith in Jesus Christ.” In the PDC model, “radically transforming” is language that refers to the effects of the dialectic process and does not refer to the transforming power of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. They also wanted to “evangelize cross-culturally” (multi-culturalism/bringing diversity in unity).

The Graphics Team “never allows a design to go out until it has a majority consensus within the team.” The synthesis phase of the dialectic process is when consensus is reached in the group. In TQM and the dialectic process, truth is arrived at via consensus (what all in the group can agree upon and feel good about). The Logos Team “purposes to serve GCC by facilitating and growing the capacity of the Logos Bible Institute.” The Service Team said, “We need people on this team who are self-starters. To get this team functioning to its full capacity we need people who will head up different ministries and run with it.” Where is God and His sovereignty? This team also mentions “the facilitation of service opportunities.” The Foundry also had teams with psycho-social names like its “corebuilder team.” Lastly, in the “New Visitor Welcome CD”, Kurt Gebhards, the Foundry pastor, mentions the “purpose” and “vision” of the Foundry.

One particular core group in the Foundry, the only one that provided a description of itself, stated, “What is core group about? Core group is about God, people and relationships.” The description went on to say: “Our core group is about flexibility and meeting one anothers needs… Our preliminary list of core group activities includes small things everyday like eating at fun (and good) restaurants, playing tennis or golf to bigger things like going to Dodger games! Core group should be profitable and enjoyable!” These activities were meant to reinforce bonding, to facilitate relationship building, and to create a dependence on the group. Each event this core group took part in becoming another session in group dialogue.

One Friday night I attended a “Bible study” at the Foundry ministry called “310.” After about a half-hour of refreshments and socializing, we sat down for announcements and the new visitors were introduced. I was asked to stand, and with Bible in hand, the leader proceeded to ask me several “ice-breaker” questions. In a group of about 35 people, I was asked the following: “How did you find out about us?” “Where do you live?” “Do you know any good restaurants?” “What do you do for a living?” “When is your birthday?” “Can you tell us about a particularly memorable birthday you’ve had?” There were 4 visitors that evening who were asked to stand and submit to these ice-breakers. After the ice-breakers ended we took a break so that people in the group could meet and greet the new visitors. By the way, I was told by the Foundry leader that these questions were ice-breakers (he used that term).

Group leader/change agents often use exercises at the beginning of each group session called “ice-breakers.” These ice-breakers may involve funny stories or some kind of light conversation designed to shift the group participant’s paradigm or way of thinking. The change agent wants the group members to begin “thinking with their feelings.” The change agent, through these exercises, is attempting to “unfreeze” the group members from their traditional position so that they can be “moved” and “refrozen” into a compromised state. Group members who see ice-breakers as being harmless or enjoyable fail to understand that they serve Satan’s purpose of shifting ones “mode of thinking” from “facts-based” to “feelings-based.”

“Ice-breaker exercises” facilitate the dialectic process and are used in the PDC model. “Ice-breakers” were developed by Kurt Lewin. As Kurt Lewin stated in “Human Relations”, p. 34, “A successful change includes, therefore, three aspects: unfreezing (if necessary) the present level, moving to the new level, and freezing group life on the new level.” It shouldn’t be surprising that “ice-breakers” are used at GCC because John Macarthur has advocated their use (I will show this later).

As stated, “transformation” in the CGM corresponds to “transmutation” in traditional alchemy, the term used for transforming base metals into gold. In manufacturing, a foundry is a factory where metal is melted and poured into molds. In The Foundry at GCC, Christians are “melted” (unfrozen) and recast (refrozen) in a new mold. In ancient Qumran, there was an alchemical foundry operated by the Essenes, a Gnostic community. The Qumran “foundry” converted precious metals – gold, silver, platinum and palladium – into a substance called “white powered gold.” This white powder of gold was believed to contain properties which, when ingested, transformed the human subject into a “light being” possessing divine powers and immortality. Alchemical guru, David Hudson, maintains that this lost art is now being restored for the “transformation” of the human race:

“…The Bible says that Moses told the Hebrew people that they had not kept the Covenant, so the Manna was to be taken from them, but it will come back in the end times when we would be a nation of high priests, not an elect high priesthood. This is the food, this is the light, that you take in your body. In fact, if you ask a Rabbi if he ever heard of the white powder of gold, he says, yes, we know of the white powder of gold, but to our knowledge No one knows how to make it since the destruction of the first Temple, the Temple of Solomon… This knowledge was not completely lost, the high priests who left the temple when it was destroyed went out on the desert and organized the community known as Qumran, they were the Essenes. As you read in the Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, not only did the Qumran community have a metallurgical foundry in the center of the city, you also find out that…this thing that they were totally preoccupied with, wasn’t Moses or Christ. It says the high priest swallowed the…Holy Spirit, it is the light, the zero point light that is not measurable. But it is in fact, the light or god force within us. It is the teacher that shows us how to know all things, we don’t have to read or study, we just know…” 93.

Gnostics believe they are above reading God’s Word because they have been transformed into gods, having “gnosis” (knowledge), also called the “logos” (word) or the “light” (enlightenment) within themselves. They are believing Satan’s lie: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

In the two hours I spent at the Foundry “Bible study,” the Bible was preached for about 20 minutes. In the 4 hours I spent at the Guild and Foundry “Bible studies”, the Bible was preached for about 45 minutes. Most of the time was spent in socializing and relationship building. Conformity to the new paradigm is attained through “consensus building” as opposed to Bible study. It seems that alchemical transformation of a spiritual nature is taking place at The Foundry.

One should also take a close look at the Logos Equipping Ministries at GCC. Their website stated, “The new identity of Logos Pillars features 3 levels of classes. 100 Bible Foundations, 200 Growth Electives, and 300 Discipleship Counseling.” These 3 levels seem to be similar to Rick Warren’s 101, 201 and 301 courses. Within this ministry is something called “Life Application Logos.” In the CGM, the teaching of Bible doctrine is watered down to “Life Application.”

PART 3 – THE MASTERS ACADEMY INTERNATIONAL (TMAI) LEADERSHIP

ENDNOTES

90. “Hermetic Imagination: The Effect of the Golden Dawn on Fantasy Literature, Charles A. Coulombe, http://www.cheetah.net/~ccoulomb/hermeticimagination.html

91. (Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, The Temple & The Lodge, NY: Touchstone, Rockefeller Center, 1998, pp. 144-45.

92. http://www.summitview.net/caregroup

93. David Hudson Lecture, Part II, http://www.lyghtforce.com/WhiteGold/hudson2.html

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