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Contemporary Church Movements
Part Two

When you are done reading this portion of the text proceed to the EXAMINATION by clicking on the appropriate link.

The next movement we will examine is the “Modern Charismatic Movement”. This movement actually had its formative experience in San Francisco, California during the Isuzu Street Pentecostal Outbreak of 1907. The movement grew very slowly during the following six decades until it finally found its fuel in the early 1970s with what has often been called the “Jesus People Movement”, which was a counterpart extension of the “Hippie” movement of the late 1960s.

The charismatic movement and the Jesus People united in southern California projecting two specific congregations into the forefront of the movement. These were the Santa Ana, California based church - Calvary Chapel, and the Foursquare denominational church pastored by Jack Hayford in Van Nuys, California called the Church on the Way.

These two churches set the role model to co-labor and promote this charismatic movement in motion across the United States and Canada, utilizing the quickly growing Pentecostal denomination of the Assembly of God and its affiliated churches.  It also made  strong use of the new wave of Christian media like the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Christian Broadcasting Network which was founded by former presidential candidate Pat Robertson. The movement’s educational foundation quickly became the Oral Roberts University located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The movement also birthed the format of contemporary Christian music genre known as “Praise & Worship”. Two major music publishers and promoters forged the way for what over 75% of the Protestant Christian churches in North America now utilize as a song repertoire. They are Hosanna Integrity Music of Mobile, Alabama and Maranatha Music in southern California.   

The movement placed a strong emphasis on the spiritual feelings and emotions, and generally promoted in a very intuitive and maybe even a mystical experience in its churches and conventions. Up until the late 1990s it remained extremely dogmatic in its position on the spiritual gifts as listed in I Corinthians chapter 12.

The newest generation much less dogmatic about the classical Pentecostal influence to the movement. They appear to have started a process of distancing themselves from the many excesses and moral failures of their former leaders.   

Finally we will discuss the Post-Modern / Emergent Church Movement, It has been a slowly evolving movement that started in the mid 1970s. Its beginnings could probably be classified as unintentional, eve though the movement is now very intentional. The earliest prototype was begun outside of Chicago, Illinois in Park Ridge and is now world renown for its size and style of church programs and ministry. It is Willowcreek Community Church founded by Bill Hybels, and later led by author John Ortberg.

Willowcreek was founded in October 1975 in a rented theatre with about 125 people and within two years it had swollen to over 2000 people attending each weekend. Willowcreek set the standard for “community” churches wanting to identify themselves as “seeker friendly”. Bill Hybels said this of his church and the movement it spawned, "I've come to believe more deeply than ever that the local church is the hope of the world."

The Saddleback Valley Community Church was founded by Rick Warren on Easter Sunday 1980 205 people in Lake Forest, California. Saddleback developed an unusual ability to create more than 200 programmed ministries targeted at age and gender specific groups within its congregational population. Saddleback also conducted some of the first experiments in the development of satellite campus churches in San Clemente, Irvine and Corona, California. These “satellites” viewed a uniform message each week from Pastor Rick Warren.

Founded in the mid 1990s in Pasadena, California, Mosaic is the concept church of Erwin McMannus author of a bestseller book titles “An Unstoppable Force”. The church incorporated the latest technology and operated out of seven different locations which would periodically move and change. They started out as a plant of the Southern Baptist Church, but shortly after the initial services they disaffiliated.

The following are remarks made by the movement’s pillars and chief supporters.“If I could only require one text for all my divinity students, if I could only recommend one book for every religious leader, this would be the one.” Leonard Sweet  (Professor of Evangelism) - Drew University, Madison, NJ. “Erwin is not predicting the future, he is demonstrating God’s next wave as the prophetic leader of a multi-cultural authentic faith community. A must read.”
Michael Slaughter  (Lead Pastor), Ginghamsburg Church – Tipp City, Ohio.Uprising is a thoughtful and restless look at what the church needs to do and be if it is to touch the soul. I hope it produces restless and thoughtful readers.”John Ortberg (Teaching Pastor) WillowCreek Community Church, Park Ridge, Illinois

The movement places a strong emphasis on community life and connectedness, using buzz words like “journey”, “gathering” and “seekers” to help the parishioner and followers of the movement connect in a “non-religious” way. The movement receives the most criticism from their conservative traditional evangelical counterparts because they are notoriously very poor definers of theology and doctrinal positions. Most of the groups and the churches involved with the movement try desperately to avoid doctrinal discussions or positioning themselves with a well defined group or position. They often project that doctrinal positionship is problematic and only serves to divide the church.

The teachers and pastors generally teach in a homiletic genre known as “felt needs”, which attempts to reach people at the core of their personal need base so as to stimulate their self image and esteem in a positive manner with a Christian influence. Biblical texts usually are incorporated into their worship and teaching events. They are highly visual and utilize the fine arts in a very strong way when applicable and possible. 

It has yet to be seen what will become of the movement and if its treatment of the gospel and the corporate worship experience. It may prove to be a blessing or a detriment. Like the Pseudo Revivalist Movement it seems to project a higher interest in quantity more so than than quality. The newest generation of the movement seems to be highly duplicative of their forefather’s ideals and directions.   


It is recommended that each online student listen to an audio lecture by Dr. Bill Brown titled “Postmodernism and the Emerging Church” which is available on audio CD or audio cassette free of charge from the Thomas Bilney Theological Seminary. You may request this product by sending a self addressed double stamped envelope to the address below. Mark your envelope “CHS 103 Dr. Bill Brown”.   


Here is the core lecture outline:


Lecture Outline by Dr. Bill Brown of Cedarville University


Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.(NAS)


Post-Modernism Defined


How did we get here?

Classical Period (2000 BC – 1400 AD)

Modern Period   (1440 AD – 1960 AD)

Post Modernism  (1960 AD – current)


Disillusioned with PROMISES

The focus is on ME

All that matters is NOW


The Emerging Church


1). The most recent movement to challenge the STATUS QUO of the  conservative evangelical church.


Discussion about the “Church”

  1. more concerned about preserving its STRUCTURE than following Christ  
  2. more concerned with EXTERNAL conformity
  3. the church promotes a RIGHT - WING political agenda
  4. the church hates HOMOSEXUALS
  5. it really doesn’t care about the POOR
  6. it does not try to understand true ARTISTIC endeavor
  7. the church has used the Bible to support SLAVERY and RACISM.


2). A term describing churches that focus on CREATIVE METHODS to engage the Post Modern culture.

Different Methods

Different Practices


3). A pejorative term describing a person who rejects traditional conservative DOCTRINE


Flash Points in the Emerging Church


Knowledge / Truth

The Bible



         When offended by it – We withdraw

         When we are delighted by it – We assimilate it

         Distressed by the culture – so we engage it (Biblical Pattern)


The Take Aways…….


A truth and three callings………..

We live in a POST MODERN culture.

We are called by God to grow in our knowledge of  SOUND DOCTRINE.

We are called by God to aggressively engage the CULTURE

We are called by God to prioritize unity and love for other BELIEVERS





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