We'll start with the terrible chapter: techniques on reading the community. It seems that both Doug Fields and Rick Warren believe that if a church spends most of its resources tending to the people that already go there, then we are coddling the insiders and ignoring the outsiders. That's simply not the case. The church exists to rehabilitate its members every week with worship and fellowship. It's not to the detriment of the outside, because the outside is just as welcome in the doors.
But just the same, here are Doug's ideas on reaching the lost:
“A preference of worship style seems to be more sociological than theological.”
Who says it has to be a style? You’re getting music and worship confused again. They work together but are not the same. Worship is not a style. Worship is the way you live. A worship service should not be following a style but following what God ordains and it should be respectful, not crapped together at the last minute. Everything must have meaning. I’m not against electric guitars or drums, but I am against reducing worship to ulterior motives and gimmicks.
“Until students are environmentally comfortable, they won’t be theologically aware.”
So Finney-ish. You’re looking to your own powers to contrive a spiritual high rather than relying on the Spirit to move in the students. The Bible shows how the Spirit moves: not through lights and music but through the preaching of the WOG, through the proper administration of sacraments and church discipline. If you want lights and music, great, but that’s not what makes people theologically aware.
“Many visitors will evaluate your entire ministry based on how they were greeted when they arrived.”
Sometimes I do like being invisible, but it is flattering when someone notices you and seems to appreciate you. And what is wrong with organ music and senior citizens singing, anyway? Sure, one member usually really sticks out and sings off key, but your prejudices are going on the other direction. They need to feel welcome, too. You need the best of both worlds.
“God wired us with the capacity to laugh, and we shouldn’t view fun as ungodly.”
But we also have to know the difference between having fun and being disrespectful in worship. There are ways to have a meaningful and fun worship service, but you don’t need extra embellishments because you are trying to bribe people.
I do agree with getting them involved.
“I have put information into my message that would impress my deceased seminary homiletics professor instead of a message that a living fourteen-year-old crowd student could understand.”
And what is wrong with them? I find that students are more intrigued by meaty theology rather than fluffy sentiments.
I do agree with the Pray, Point, Plot, Personalize, and Practical plan. If nothing else, I agree with that. But it’s also going to be meaty.
Next, we get to the chapters that I agree with, labeling aside.
First, we reach the congregational people through small groups. I can't agree more. Especially when you run a mega-church like Saddleback. Without small groups you will have no community, and honestly, if a church gets that huge, it probably should divide into smaller churches and not congregate around one man.
“A leader who can nurture a group of students will experience a depth of ministry never reached in just being up front and running the show.”
This is why we don’t label our people with Cs. The same thing will work for all people. We do reach the community people. We are at Shepherd’s Staff. We feed them both food and the Word on Thursday nights, and many come on Sundays. We have seen homeless people get homes, carless people get rides, and families get prayer. There’s no pop culture gimmick involved. It’s not what we can get out of it. Just our genuine love. Seriously, Saddleback only reaches out to people for what they can get out of it, not genuinely wanting to meet their needs. If the numbers are good, then the individuals don't matter. We'll just label them.
And chapter 9
Finally, he had a pretty good idea with the more Committed members. He recalled a guy he discipled who later left the church. He said, he had the discipling right and the interaction right, but he never prepared him on how to live his faith during the week. Jesus did all that and then prepared his disciples for his death. We have to prepare our kids for when they are free from their parents, not just give them head knowledge.