Open Letter to Rick Warren


Dear Rick,

thank you for your book The Purpose Driven Church. It seems sensible for any organisation to have a clearly defined aim and stick to it.

However, I believe your first purpose is out of tune with Jesus. You write,

"Purpose #1 Love the Lord with all your heart. The word that describes this purpose is worship. The church exists to worship God. How do we love God with all our heart? By worshipping him!" (page 103)

I believe this is a fallacy. If you search the gospels, you will see that Jesus never raised the subject of worship with his disciples. How could the central activity of his followers today be one that he never talked about? It does not make sense.

You quote Matt 4:10 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only' as if this was something he taught his followers, but Jesus spoke these words to the Devil during his temptation, as a reason for not worshipping the devil. In John 4, Jesus said people should worship God in Spirit and in Truth, but this was said to an adulteress who had raised the subject of worship as a way of changing the subject from the sins she needed to turn from. Jesus' reply is in effect a rebuke - what is the use of 'worshipping' as you call it if you are living in sin? Worship without a godly lifestyle is an insult to God. Make sure any worship you do is in Spirit and Truth! So neither of these occasions was an instruction to his followers. Indeed, further down John 4 we discover that far from worship, it was doing God's will that was meat and drink to Jesus (verse 34).

2 John verse 6 explains it well. 'This is love; that we walk in obedience to his commands.' The way to express love to God is by obedience. Jesus gave 180 commands to his followers in the gospels. Worship was not one of them. Indeed, gathering together to worship is a distraction for the Christian church, whose job is to obey Jesus. I believe this is a matter which we all need to address.

Best wishes, David Pennant, Woking, UK