Sniffing for New Wolves
I do not wake up most mornings thinking, “Today, I am going to search for and expose a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” but I have enough garbage crossing my path each day that I could write volumes on the people and materials that pass as Christian.
Still, it was the title of his posts that caught my attention, “5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Church is Geared to Insiders, Not Outsiders,” and “How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches.” Ok, what?!
I admit I was tired when these titles came across my newsfeed. In fact, I had my driving glasses on, so his name appeared, “Care for new wolf.” I thought what kind of name is “new wolf” for a Christian guru? I needed to switch to my reading glasses.
If you read my articles, you know I don’t like false teachers, nor false teaching. Unfortunately, I have been deceived by pseudo-Christian teachers for most of my life. I will read something that sounds right, and then years later, that teaching will be exposed as false. It is grueling.
Most Christians are unaware of the ocean of false teaching they are subject to through their lives. False teaching touches every doctrine and practice. As time has passed, and through much study, I am in a better position, but I never forget the confidence I had while holding to errant positions. It is humbling.
So, who is this new wolf guy? Well, when I changed my glasses, I saw his name more clearly. My reading glasses also allowed me to look more extensively at his material. Carey Nieuwhof is a self-styled church growth and leadership guru. I can tell you he hates small churches, at least the ones who do not care that they are small churches. The other thing I noticed in reading some of his material: the name, Jesus Christ, does not appear much in his work.
Let’s consider his church doctrine, first. So the church exists for outsiders? Honestly, I have never heard this twisted idea, ever, in my life and ministry. The church of Jesus Christ is the bride of Christ, not the whore of Babylon…at least that is what I always thought. We do have a commission given to us by our Lord (Mt 28:19–20), but it is to suffer for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10), not to entertain goats and wolves with “music that has guts.”
Nieuwhof continued his list that proved which churches were not fulfilling his world-pleasing ambitions. Announcement length, preferred seating, worker bee assignments, and God-forbid, who are these people who talk to one another in terms that sound biblical! May it never be! Really, these are the issues?
The second article I surveyed had 10,400 shares on Facebook. I cringed. 25,000 people actually follow this guy, who I have never heard of until a few years ago. Clearly, I am out of the church growth loop (another way of saying, “irrelevant”). This guru’s church growth idolatry was clearly splattered on the titles of most of his articles. I scrolled to my own chagrin, but I marveled that people actually read this stuff.
The second article shunned small church pastors and blamed them for pastoral care interests, which is one main cause hindering growth. Really? Pastoral care hinders church growth. Nieuwhof writes, “I rarely, if ever, counsel people. Why? Because I care about people too much. Instead, I send them to people who can actually help them.” Can you imagine Jesus saying something like that? Is that what a genuine pastor says? I always tell people that if you have not shared a meal with your pastor, then he is not your pastor. He may be the man on the jumbotron at your church, every Sunday, but he does not care for your soul, if he does not even know your name.
Honestly, I have not been this repulsed in a long time. I did survey a large number of titles, beyond reading these two articles, but it was not even necessary to further my research.
In a word, I do not know Carey Nieuwhof’s heart, and I am not his judge on the day of reckoning, but it is the work of a shepherd to be aware of wolves, even sniffing the air for their scent. To whom it may concern, I smell something not right, as if there were a new wolf in town.
August 2, 2021