Missional Disciple”SHIFT”ers: The next new thing

ExponentialAre you hearing words like “Missional,” “Multiplication,” “Acceleration,” “Church Growth,” “Future Travelers,” and “DiscipleSHIFT?” Then you might have been exposed to the Exponential conference happening in the Purpose-Seeker-mergent Church.
Folks, it is everywhere these days. But is it in the Bible?

What is this movement is really about, and why are so many mainline evangelical churches getting sucked into this “movement?”

Jesus Himself gave us our mission in Matthew 28:16-20. Our individual responsibility is to pick up our cross and follow Him daily, and the Church should be about equipping us to do that. Of course, no church wants to be known as anti-missional. But why are so many evangelical churches who have adapted the Peter Drucker/Saddleback/Willow Creek/Leadership Network business model of “doing church” now so eager to pile onto the missional bandwagon?

Look, there’s no doubt that some good nuggets and catchphrases can come out of a conference like Exponential. One speaker at the most recent live simulcast even had the audacity to suggest churches should stop pleasing people and start pleasing Jesus. This Idaho pastor even suggested that churches need to start disciplining again. I would add that we might want to also share the Gospel in each and every sermon, and call people to repentance, rather than have them raise their hand with their eyes closed (no peeking, I see that hand), and ask Jesus to come into their hearts. But in the end, we’re still talking about planting churches that are for the unbeliever – which is unbiblical.

Who is leading these conferences and this new charge?

Last year’s 2012 “Sifted” conference was headed up by Bill Hybels and Wayne Cordeiro. This year’s next chapter of Sifted is Exponential. with Rick Warren, whose Saddleback Church is hosting the big Exponential event later this year; Craig Groeschel, Francis Chan and others:

The 2013 conference theme, DiscipleShift, focuses on moving the church planting conversation beyond missional versus attractional to a deep and passionate discourse around disciple-making.  Exponential 2013 (April 22-25) in Orlando will explore these five crucial shifts.

Unfortunately, there is something more going at these conferences. In fact the conferences themselves are an outreach of a darker mission: Transformation.  A new global revival. A unity of peace. What could possibly be wrong with that, you ask?

Researchers Lynn and Sarah Leslie sum up what’s happening in today’s NeoEvangelical Church:

“Various churches and denominations claim to be undergoing ‘transformation .’ This word no longer refers to the humble sanctification of the individual believer. Rather, it now refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary overhaul of the global church, including the ‘transformation’ of cities, societies, cultures, marketplaces, and more.”

Movements like this and a plethora of other conferences with compromised gospel messages have set the table for the great falling away (Apostasy) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.

There were a few voices in the wilderness crying out against this coming deception a decade ago.  At the time, most of us weren’t listening. We thought Equipping Leaders to ‘Lead like Jesus’ was a great thing. We thought Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life might draw people closer to Jesus. We even thought his Global P.E.A.C.E. plan sounded neat.

We were so, SO wrong.

We need to stop following the latest trends and language used by the “company headquarters” lead by theologically liberal neo-evangelicals teaching the local franchise how to remain culturally relevant.  Do you understand the liberal agenda hiding behind the word “missional?” Being a “radical,” “missional” Christian is slowly becoming the “new legalism.”

We need to repent, warn other brothers and sisters in Christ, and snatch as many as we can from this fire. And then we need to be about the business of His true calling.

We don’t need mega-superstar book authors or business growth leaders to show us how to do that. We need faithful pastors and elders to turn off the simulcast streams, get their heads out of the latest self help books and back into the Word of God, to equip the saints and prepare them for what’s to come. And we need to protect these dear sheep from wolves by avoiding them, not marching them down the aisles of our houses of worship and holding them up as those we should be following.

If we continue to sit at the feet of New Age synthesizers, compromisers, and downright false teachers – the very wolves Jesus warned us would come -our churches will be swept away into the wide, wide river of relevance.

Is it finally time to say, not in my church?

Want to dive deeper into what you’ve just read?

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16 Responses to Missional Disciple”SHIFT”ers: The next new thing

  1. Larry says:

    Excellent. A true prophetic voice.


  2. Pauline Haney Hughes says:

    An excellent post. I have lost touch with the movement for a few years and this is excellent information to have. Thank You 😀


  3. Justin says:

    I'm not sure I get the point of what it is that you are trying to say. I was at Exponential this year and if I could sum it up in one line it would be something like: "We need to stop trying to get shallow converts and instead create real life-transformed disciples that follow Jesus in everything." And you don't agree?

    I'd like to know more what you stand for then. I'm fine with you critiquing Exponential or anything else that you don't like, but what are you trying to draw me towards? All I see here is "Exponential bad" but you don't give me what a good alternative is.


    • Amy Spreeman says:

      If all you see here is "exponential bad," then you haven't ventured past this article. And it is obvious that you didn't even read it, or you would have noticed that I did acknowledge some good out of the message.


  4. Thank God for Rick Warren, and others who are teaching the church to be missional. They are making disciples through this process. Why should the world be able to claim all the leadership principles? God is the one who created it. Maybe you guys should focus on winning souls rather than wasting our time attacking and scrutinizing those who are winning souls.


  5. Kelly Carter says:

    This article was a bit, well, odd, and is notable in that the writer seems so uninformed. It strangely confuses missionality with the concepts of discipleshift, and then somehow seems to link both with Rick Warren, calling the whole thing "the movement" and "this movement." It made me wonder if the writer knew very much about any of these very different approaches to ministry. And then, to call transformation a "darker mission"? The idea of being transformed by Jesus, and seeing churches and society transformed by Jesus is about as biblically centered as one can get. I had the impression that anything in which the writer is not directly involved is going to receive criticism, but the critique is unfortunately uninformed, superficial, and well off the mark in terms of evaluating these things by biblical standards.


  6. chris says:

    As if the "church" were a building instead of the Body of Christ. I read the article once and mistook it for satire, read the comments and the article again and then realized that the author was actually serious.


    • andy kanapoulos says:

      chris (and kelly), if you needed to read it a 2nd time, and you still haven't "gotten it" still by a complete 2nd pass, you probably never will (just like kelly above you).

      this article was very accurate, and an underestimation if anything, of what is going on with these conferences and their social gospel.

      btw, your "church" comment shows the seriously horrific level of teaching you are receiving from your emergent church conferences. time to leave them, so you can move on from milk to meat (if you even know what that means),



      • chris says:

        Reading my comment again and seeing the harshness with which you responded, I see that I was unnecessarily critical so I offer my sincere apologies to my Brother in Christ. I would like to explain my philosophy to you and get your take on my thought if at all possible. If the church is the body of Christ then we therefore ought to be bringing our friends who don't yet know Jesus into the church building in order to help disciple them. If my thought is erring please show me where. The article above can, in my opinion be best summed up by the following quote from the article: "Our individual responsibility is to pick up our cross and follow Him daily, and the Church should be about equipping us to do that." Let me be clear, I don't disagree with the first part at all but I'm wondering if there are any verses that support the latter part about how it's the church's duty to equip us to take up our cross daily.



      • Dave Stockhover says:


        I am in no wise a theologian but I'm going to attempt to answer your question that you have posed. Let me start by saying that I am not attempting to be belittling or mean spirited in any way because it may come across in this fashion on a blog post. I'm simply replying in a manner as if we were sitting at the table having a cup of coffee.

        First of all, I whole heartedly agree with the statement made above that your comments about the "church" show the bad teaching you have received. You said, and this is my paraphrase, that if we are the body of Christ, we should bring our friends who do not know Christ into church to disciple them. That is flat out wrong. You cannot "disciple" an unbeliever. You DO NOT DISCIPLE a goat into a sheep. You preach the Gospel to them and then pray that the Holy Spirit will give them eyes and ears to see and hear. 1 Corinthians 2:14 states, "But a natural man does not accept the things of The Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he CANNOT understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (NASB, my emphasis) This is speaking to those who have not been regenerated by the Spirit. No amount of discipling a goat is going to turn it into a sheep. All that "discipling" a goat is going to do is make a goat more comfortable being a goat because they think they are living better and doing nice things. This, in turn, fills the church with nice, socially active unregenerate goats. So, the premise that you bring unsaved friends to church to disciple them shows that you do not understand what the church actually is. That is not your fault. That is what you have learned.

        So, what is the church? Matthew 16….after Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of Living God, Jesus says to him, verse 17-18, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church". (NASB). The Greek word translated Peter in these verses is the word Petros, which means rock or stone. The Greek word translated rock is the word Petra, which means a rock, cliff or ledge. Do you see the difference? One is a Petros, stone, rock…something small. The other is a Petra, a cliff, a ledge, something big. This word, Petra, is also used in Matthew and Luke when telling the parable of the houses being built on sand or rock. Those parables speak of a FOUNDATION being built on rock. The rock must be STRONG to have a foundation built upon it. In the Matthew verses I cited, the rock (Petra) that Jesus was speaking of building His church upon was referring back to the confession Peter had made, that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. So the church is built on a "rock" of people who confess Christ as the Son of God. Unbelievers do not do this.

        Also, you asked about where does the bible speak of the church equipping us to take up our cross daily. Ephesians 4:11-13 speaks to this, I think…"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as PASTORS and TEACHERS, for the EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (NASB). Basically, that's a long way of saying that God gave us pastors and teachers to equip the saints (believers, not unbelievers…sheep, not goats…those in the church, confessing Christ, not those who do not confess Christ) for works of service, to build each other up, to mature in the faith….basically, to sharpen one another. As we do this, we will carry our cross daily, we will speak to our friends and neighbors and family about Christ and who He is and what He's done.

        The church is for Christ's sheep, not goats. When we bring our unsaved loved ones with us to church, that's great. They are going to get to hear the Gospel….if you attend a biblical church, that is, and they will have the forgiveness of sin in Jesus' name plainly laid before them. Repentance will be preached to them. They will hear the call of the Gospel and it's our job to pray that God will grant them repentance and faith. But it, being the church, is not FOR THEM. It is for the saints, to be fed God's Word, to be built up in the knowledge of God, so they can go out and bring this news to a lost and dying world.

        I hope I gave answered your questions.


  7. andy kanapoulos says:

    why did you not post my comment?


  8. gb93433 says:

    Toilet is not in the Bible but I use one.


    • tonibrown64 says:

      Cute gb93433, but irrelevant.

      I was involved in a church plant for a year that is doing exactly this "missional" mayhem ; we were told we would be a church about what we are for not what we are against- hymns deep with theological teaching were discouraged because "unbelievers could not relate to them"- we were given pie charts and statistical data to develop networking skills to get people into the church- a redefinition of sin was taught that eliminates God's law, this way it goes down easier because it isn't so offensive…and I could go on and on. This pastor's "mentor and hero" is Tim Keller- a big, driving force in this dangerous movement. Before leaving the new church I met with the pastor and his wife and pleaded with them to take Keller's ideas to scripture- it fell upon deaf ears, as they gave me a rundown of Keller's impressive credentials and assured me that my concerns were not legitimate. We left immediately but I still pray for them. I conducted countless hours of research for a year on Keller and the short video link below is just one example of how dangerous this guy is to the Truth.


  9. tonibrown says:

    "Missional" is also a big buzz word in the market driven church so I look forward to Gary Gilley's appearance on the show tomorrow. I have read This Little Church Went to Market and I recommend it to anyone who doubts the danger of this movement that is centered around unbelievers and social justice.


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