A "change agent... should know
about the process of change, how it takes place and the attitudes, values
and behaviors that usually act as barriers.... He should know who in his
system are the 'defenders' or resisters of innovations." Ronald Havelock,
A Change Agent's Guide to Innovation in
"There is no privacy in
the church. We are called together to work out our salvation with fear and
Leaders are change agents." 
Jim Van Yperen, The Shepherd Leader.
"In and through community lies the
salvation of the world. Nothing is more important." [see
note] M. Scott Peck, Introduction
to The Different Drum: Community Making and
"Think in wholes, not in parts.... God views sin as a community
responsibility. When one person in the community sins, the whole community
bears the guilt." Jim Van Yperen, Leaders on
Bill Liniewicz and his
family can no longer share in the fellowship at Chain of Lakes Community
Bible Church (CLCBC) in Illinois. Like other members who questioned
the new church management, he has been banned from the communion table. By
declining a series of "counseling" sessions and by failing to attend a "Solemn
Assembly" -- a special congregational meeting for the purpose of public
confession, brokenness, reconciliation and healing -- he supposedly proved his
"unwillingness to submit" to his spiritual authorities. There's only one way
that "insubordinate" people like Bill would be welcomed back into fellowship:
they must follow the steps to "reconciliation" determined by the new interim
reconciliation would mean compromise, for he could neither trust the new
leadership nor agree with the proposed program. And disagreement was,
apparently, unacceptable to the new leadership. As Jim Van Yperen, the
"intentional interim pastor" would soon teach, "There's not a lot of things
you have permission to disagree about."
What, then, was Bill's
initial sin? During one of many "adult group forums" held to introduce and
discuss the new church agenda, he had shared his lack of peace, called for
spiritual discernment and asked some challenging questions about the
psychological strategies that might be used to produce change. He had reasons
to be concerned.
It all began with some
unresolved issues in the church. The last senior pastor had left and CLCBC
continued to struggle with disunity. The old-timers still saw Bible teaching
as the main focus, while others preferred the feel-good relational "church
growth" approach to "doing church." When the assistant pastor suggested
outside consultation, the board agreed. It soon met with Metanoia Ministries,
headed by Van Yperen. His team assessed the congregation, presented a
diagnosis and proposed a solution.
You met Jim Van Yperen in Re-Inventing
the Church, Part 1. He wrote a chapter titled "Conflict: The Refining Fire
of Leadership" for George Barna's book, Leaders on Leadership, and is a
respected "change agent" for churches. "A leader of leaders," George Barna
tells us in his book by that title. He is "a marketing strategist and
communications consultant," who "has worked with a wide variety of churches,
parachurch ministries and non profit organizations in the areas of vision
development, strategic planning, communications, resource development and
As expected, the results of Van Yperen's
surveys, interviews and assessments showed serious conflicts -- or more
specifically: "systemic, structural problems." The conclusions were presented
to the church body, which hired Van Yperen as "intentional interim pastor."
"I invite you into a process where, in
this church, we will practice salvation," Van Yperen told the congregation in
his Sunday morning sermon on March 10, 2002. "We will grow up together to the
glory of Jesus Christ."
What does that mean? We tend to hear
Biblical words through the mental filter of the traditional church, but the
new postmodern context changes the old
meanings. So when the "intentional interim pastor" promises to "lead a
spiritual/discovery/change process that seeks to understand and to embody what
it means to be the church," some might wonder what to
expect. But, as Bill discovered, not all questions are welcome.
Van Yperen's workbook, Making
Peace, presented some goals of the ministry -- and introduced some phrases
central to the new church management system. Keep in mind, whoever defines,
discovers, dialogues and decides the terms will help steer the
"Define what God's Word says about
conflict and community,
"Discover how these principles
apply to your church community,
"Describe what it would look like
to practice redemptive community,
"Discuss what would have to change
in your church to be redemptive,
"Decide how God would have you
change your mind,
"Do it! Start making and
So, how does Van Yperen make and practice
One of his sources of inspiration is M.
Scott Peck who wrote The Road Less Traveled and The Different Drum:
Community Making and Peace. The latter book gave Van Yperen his model for
"four levels of community," which supposedly illustrate and guide the journey
from "fake community" to "real community" -- the place of true peace. Chaos
and conflict are essential to this upward journey.
"Peck would say, 'The only way to deal
authentically with chaos is to live in it for a while," explained Van Yperen
during his weekly leadership training session (5-13-02) "Which means
brokenness, not trying to get rid of this [the chaos] too soon."
To understand Peck's vision of the world,
consider his introduction to The Different Drum:
"...the human race
today stands at the brink of self-annihilation. .... Because so few have a
vision of community and so many know that peacemaking must be the first
priority of civilization, initially I thought this book should be titled
'Peacemaking and Community.' But that would put the cart before the
"I am dubious,
however, as to how far we can move toward global community-- which is the
only way to achieve international peace -- until we learn the basic
principles of community in our own individual lives and personal spheres of
Does Van Yperen share Mr. Peck's vision of
global peace and solidarity?
Probably not. Unlike Peck's writings, his sermons proclaim the Lordship of
Christ. His teachings on the cross and resurrection show a true understanding
of Biblical salvation. And his ultimate hope seems to rest in an
eternity with Christ, not an earthly paradise of man-made peace.
Yet, his continual emphasis of
"community" and "change" seem to follow the tracks made by Peck
and other modern visionaries. And the "change process" he uses to resolve
conflict and transform churches resembles the Hegelian dialectic
process which is central to the fast-growing networks of global systems.
Used in the Soviet Union to mold compliant citizens, this process has been
perfected by behavioral psychologists and embraced by schools, corporations,
governments and other organizations intent on "developing" people for the
envisioned global community. These world citizens would think and act
collectively, not individually.
This manipulative program doesn't belong
in the church. Yet, many Bible studies and other small groups in churches, schools and
homes across the country have adopted its rules for dialogue and its dubious
approach to "common ground." It produces an illusion of unity, but the unity
is based on submission to the group consensus rather than submission to
Van Yperen is a gifted teacher and
leader. His articulate sermons bring Biblical encouragement. Most of his
teaching on love, obedience, fellowship and submission sounds Biblically
sound. But some of it turns sharply off its Biblical course and merges with
the postmodern emphasis on group thinking and social solidarity. And his
insistence of unqualified submission  to the "spiritual
authority" of "shepherd-leaders," who interpret and adapt "negotiable"
Scriptures for group "discussion," should raise deep concerns.
For example, in his sermon on March 3, he
told the congregation that, "Ninety-five percent or more of Scripture was
written for and to be heard by a people, not individuals. It was not given
for your personal edification and devotion. That is not the primary
purpose of Scripture."
The following Sunday, March 10, he said:
"[W]e live by the Spirit... we sow to the
Spirit -- all of which are commands for a people, not an individual.
As we collectively.... walk in the Spirit and grow with Him, we will,
in the interactions of our lives, grow salvation....
wants you to grow by receiving His Word in the fellowship of believers and
in the interpretation of that. And in the coming together in the
discussion of it. In the coming together and saying, 'God speak to us,'
Some might argue that American churches
have over-emphasized the individual at the cost of church fellowship and
oneness. True or not, it's still wrong to swing the pendulum into the opposite
realm -- that of mandatory agreement and unity. Throughout history, God has
spoken to individuals as well as nations and churches through His Word.
Forbidding dissent destroys accountability. And discouraging individual Bible
study in order to produce community oneness would only undermine the genuine
unity which grows out of each believer's personal walk with Christ. God calls
each of us to come to Him in a solitary place [see Matt. 6:6], find comfort in His
Word, be filled with His life and bring His love to one another.
Even so, Christians are tempted to let a
new group consensus -- facilitated by leaders trained to "manage change" --
interpret Scriptures and redefine its values. According to Van Yperen,
"Learning comes through dialogue rather than presentation," and this pattern for transformation is fast changing
churches around the world.
"It's an organic movement of God," he
told the congregation in his leadership class on April 22. And it demands a
shift in emphasis -
"from knowing to interpreting"
"from methods to discovery"
"from individualism to community"
"from knowledge to character"
"from telling to inviting"
"from salvation out of hell to an invitation into a way
Please consider each of these points in
the light of God's timeless and unchanging Scriptures. The Berean believers modeled the
kind of Biblical scrutiny needed in our times. "...they received the word with all readiness, and
searched the Scriptures daily to find
out whether these
things were so." (Acts 17:10-11) They didn't
just listen to Paul's teaching; they also checked to make sure it lined up
with Scriptures. Should we do any less?
1. From knowing to
interpreting. In a weekly teaching session with church leaders,
Van Yperen explained his view of Biblical truth:
"We're not going to
negotiate whether Jesus is the Christ. We know that.... But there are
relatively few non-negotiables. After those top five or six or seven or ten,
whichever way you count them, there's a lot of the Word out there that we
have to interpret through faith and listening...."
"non-negotiables"? While God -- by His sovereign will -- has left many
questions unanswered, it's not up to us to clarify mysteries He hasn't
revealed yet. We don't "have to interpret" or "negotiate" those uncertainties
for Him. When we try to describe what He hasn't shown us or explain what He
hasn't fully revealed, we risk adding to a growing body of divisive
speculations and deceptive myths.
Whether we understand a
passage or not, it "is written" with the Spirit and authority of God.
Therefore it is absolute and unchanging.
Yet, Van Yperen continues with this
"There is nothing we
know absolutely because we are not absolute. So I think it's presumptuous
when any of us say, 'I know something you must follow because I know it.'
Even when we do know and we're right, it is a little bit presumptuous --
perhaps spiritually arrogant -- to claim such a thing. Rather, I do think
you can say 'I believe this. ... Will you come with me to prove
Does that sound familiar? Those who
understand the dialectic (consensus) process know that its ground rules
ban both absolute truth and statements such as "I know." Factual
knowledge or absolute certainty would hinder the required compromise and could
offend the group. On the other hand, words such as "I think" or "I feel" imply
a more flexible attitude -- a willingness to conform and bend one's
beliefs in order to reach the preplanned "common ground." In a context
that "negotiates" God's truth and adapts Scriptures to the need, even the
words "I believe" become non-threatening. Stripped of the certainty that
upsets skeptics, they no longer offend the group.
This process demands a willingness to put
more faith in the group and its evolving consensus than in the unchanging
nature of God's Word. Stephen Shields, part-time pastor and technology manager
for USA Today, summarized this evolving trend in his
article, "Christian discipleship in
Postmodernity: Toward a praxis of spiritual
friendship." He wrote, "One of the strands of
postmodern reflection worth considering in this connection is the importance of community and relationships in establishing truth. ... There
are few things more powerful than when Christian has faith in Christian."
warns us not to put our faith in people. Well aware of our compromising nature, Jesus modeled that
caution. He "did not commit [or entrust] Himself to them, because He knew all
men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was
in man." John 2:24-25
While he walked on this earth, Jesus took
His Father at His Word. He memorized Scriptures, quoted what "is
written" and spoke what His Father told Him. Few understood His teaching at
the time, but He knew that the Holy Spirit would soon make His words alive in
individual hearts. Today's popular paths to collective "understanding" -- such
as Hegel's group consensus, simplistic interpretations or feel-good cultural
adaptations -- would have been unthinkable.
Jesus told His followers, “If you
abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the
truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.
2. From methods to
discovery. Van Yperen's shift from
old ways to new ways may sound wise and helpful. But, like other change
agents, he seems to be trading the old ways of teaching, preaching, fellowship
and service for Total Quality
Management, the worldwide formula for managing and conforming people to
the global vision of solidarity.
Adding Biblical words and phrases to validate the planned change, he persuades
the church to implement the world's latest pathways to group
"Leaders are visionaries who see the big
picture, envision great goals and inspire bold work," writes Van Yperen in
The Shepherd Leader. "Gifted leaders are spiritual entrepreneurs. They
are risk-takers and motivators. A compelling vision needs a gifted
Van Yperen's expertise in "conflict
resolution" fits right in. The perceived conflict helps the congregation
accept the need for change, embrace the "compelling vision" and conform to the
new way of thinking.
The two -- conflict and vision -- are
essential to "managed change." A felt or perceived conflict --
along with a strategic vision of a great future -- is needed in order
to make the new resolution palatable to Christian groups. As Mary Poppins
sang, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." The collective
"discovery" of a better world or church will hardly motivate people to accept
radical change unless they also sense a current crisis.
Like Georg Hegel's dialectic process,
today's more sophisticated forms of brainwashing are designed to expose
continual conflict and produce nonstop tension. Both conflict and
tension are essential. They fuel an ongoing demand for continual resolution.
In other words, the contrived tension drives and sustains the process of
The initial conflict becomes a convenient
catalyst to start this process, but it must not be resolved too quickly. After
all, it takes time to reach the ultimate goal: a personal and communal
transformation in the way people think, perceive reality, communicate their
feelings and relate to one another. [See "Paradigm Shift:
As Van Yperen wrote in Leaders on
Leadership, "When a leader arrives too early at 'the answer,' it is
usually by focusing on parts of the problem or individual events instead of
the deeper issues underlying the conflict."
In the context of the
above chapter, the "deeper issues" refer to a blend of theological, structural
and relational problems. But whatever the conflict, it provides an opportunity
to turn once again to the consensus process for a resolution. "What matters is
that the root issue is revealed so that it can be explored in dialogue,"
explained Van Yperen.
Of course. Ongoing
conflict and dialogue. Both are essential to the process. It takes time to
lead people to the new "discoveries," examine "root issues" and -- through
group dialogue -- rethink their "core values and beliefs." Minds must be
"unfrozen" -- flung open to the new ways of thinking, relating and
interpreting the Scriptures. Then, when the new mental habits have been
established, the leaders must "re-freeze" their changed minds. There can be no
his manual on leadership, Van Yperen explains this constructive conflict with
an illustration from the writings of Dr. Peter Senge, founder and
Chairman of MIT's Society for Organizational Learning, a "global community of
corporations, researchers, and consultants."
"Peter Senge," says Van
Yperen, "writes about the tension between vision and current reality by
describing two poles linked by a rubber band. The rubber band stretches
between the vision and the reality, causing tension."
In light of Dr. Senge
prominence in the world of business management and Jim Van Yperen's promotion
of the new church management, it might be helpful to compare the two parallel
processes. The two sides of the coin -- the sophisticated strategies used to
build collective communities both in the world and in the church -- are
amazingly similar. And both change agents know how to utilize that
constructive tension between a current conflict and an inspiring vision of a
better future on earth.
That's not surprising.
Van Yperen's hearty endorsement of Dr. Senge's 1995 bestselling book on
systems thinking, The Fifth Discipline, leaves little doubt that Senge
influenced his views on organizational change. He specifically credits Senge's
book with his understanding of "the roots of conflict" and the effect of
theology, structure and relationship on social and behavioral
3. From individualism to community. "Only with the
support, insight, and fellowship of a community can we face the dangers
of learning meaningful things," wrote Peter Senge in his article, "Creating Quality
uses slightly different words to teach the same message. Remember his earlier
statement from Spiritual Leadership Formation, "Learning comes through
dialogue rather than presentation." That dialogue takes place in a group, a community.
"The church is not and never will be the church outside of a gathered
community," he wrote in "Shepherds as Leaders."
true? Has God not gathered to Himself believers "out of every tribe and tongue and
people and nation"? Rev 5:9 Most of us will never meet in this life, yet we are
brothers and sisters in Christ, members of the the Body of Christ for all
Van Yperen goes on to say, "Sheep always
graze together. In fact, an animal that feeds alone is usually a sign of
sickness. So it is in the church.... There are no lone ranger
Actually, God's "lone ranger Christians"
are scattered around the world. Many have left the churches they loved because
they couldn't submit to compromising leaders. Most have sought Bible teaching
churches in their community but found only shallow, feel-good messages
stripped of truths that might offend. Some have established house churches,
while others continue to seek genuine fellowship in Christ.
God will surely use those solitary times
to draw His people close to Himself. As we look to Him and the Biblical
teachers He provides, He deepens our love for Him, our dependence on Him and
our understanding of His truth. Thus He trained the apostle Paul during the
solitary years that followed his conversion. Galatians
He trained Moses, David, and Jeremiah
through years of aloneness to put their trust in Him. And countless
missionaries in distant places found their only comfort in Christ as they
sought the lost, shared God's love, and endured hostility and persecution.
Trusting His Word, they can say with Jesus, "I am not
but I am with the Father who sent
Our Shepherd cares for the needs of His
people -- whether they travel alone or in the great company of fellow
believers. In contrast, Van Yperen's assertion that "the needs of one submit
to the greater need of all," suggest a communitarian philosophy -- the belief
that the individual needs must be swallowed up in the "Greater Whole" of the
That philosophy fits right into Dr.
Senge's worldview. The article, "Peter
Senge and the Learning Organization"
mentions Senge's emphasis on dialogue and shared vision." It suggests a "link
here with the concerns and interests of communitarian
The dialectic process,
which is vital to communitarianism as it was to communism, can build the
appearance of Biblical unity through intimidation, manipulation, compromise
and facilitated consensus. In contrast, true unity comes from each believer's
personal faith in our One Lord. As we study His Word, trust His promises and
follow His ways, we become one. We share one hope, one goal, one blueprint for
victory, one source of strength and one Spirit to guide us along the way.
"Fulfill my joy," wrote
Paul, "by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one
mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Philippians 2:2-3. That's
His goal for us, and He doesn't need today's psycho-social strategies to
4. From knowledge to
learning organizations requires personal transformations or basic shifts in
how we think and interact," wrote Peter Senge in Personal Transformation. "...And the only safe space to allow for this
transformation is a learning community."
Or, as Van Yperen says,
"It is impossible to grow godly character outside the church, that is, the
fellowship of believers."
church "fellowship" may even hinder godly character. Leaders who love the
world and fear offending potential members often ignore the Biblical
boundaries and disciplines that help build Christian character. In many
churches, conformity to the culture in the name of tolerance has become more
important than self-denial and self-discipline. In those settings, a
Spirit-led choice to stand alone and refuse to compromise will do more than
any human effort to conform their character to that of Christ.
In spite of their quest for "community,"
some leaders show little tolerance for those who -- like Bill Liniewicz --
resist the process and ask hard questions. So, on March 3, Jim Van Yperen used
the parable of the sower to validate a new standard for submission. Remember,
in the gospels, Jesus gave us His interpretation to the seed that fell
“Now these are the
ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares
of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things
entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." Mark 4:18-19.
Compare the words of Jesus with Van
Yperen's interpretation, one that supports his ban on individual
"Third, we have the
seeds that fall among thorns. ... These are the seeds who hear and roots
take form, but the hearing is always in the form of knowledge -- that
now I know something. And so I assume something and form opinions about
something. And the word does not become fresh in God's work and hands to
change us but becomes something that we possess and sometimes use against
others to prove how we are right and they are wrong. It's a thorny kind of
God calls us to love one another, not use
His Scriptures as forceful clubs to press others into conformity. On the other
hand, we need to know and follow His Word in order to grow in the character of
Christ. For "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
character must be rooted in truth -- on God's guidelines for right and wrong.
When we sin against God we must confess our sin to God. When we sin against
one or more persons, He calls us to confess to those we hurt by our sin.
Repentance is primarily a personal issue between the sinner and our God.
"Against You, You only, have I sinned," said David in his heart-broken appeal to God's
mercy. Psalm 51:4
sees sin in a different way. "Think in
wholes, not in parts..." he wrote in Leaders on Leadership. "God
views sin as a community responsibility. When
one person in the community sins, the whole community bears the
That was true in Old Testament days. But
God promised us, through the prophet Ezekiel, that the time would come when
the guilt of personal sin would be borne by the individual sinner, not by
others: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son
shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the
iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and
the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." Ezekiel 18:20
5. From telling to
inviting. “'Leader as teacher' is not
about 'teaching' people how to achieve their vision," wrote Peter
Senge. "It is about fostering learning, for everyone. Such leaders help people
throughout the organization develop systemic understandings. "
"Preaching is not shepherding.
Teaching is not feeding," says Van Yperen. "... Leaders must see
their flock...as sheep who hurt and need understanding and guidance to
help one another. Our preaching and teaching must nourish the flock, not
answer the intellectual questions...." He illustrates his point with a story about a pastor who
apparently violated this principle. Van Yperen had visited his church and
heard his sermon:
"For the next 45 minutes the pastor spoke
from Genesis about Noah and the ark. 'There are two questions we must
answer,' he said in defense of Scripture. 'Was there really a global flood?'
and "Could the ark really fit two of every species?'
The pastor had done his homework. He
shared volumes of archaeological evidence, scientific data and
meteorological facts. He was earnest to answer these questions because, as
he stated, 'if we cannot accept this story as true we would have to doubt
all of Scripture.'
The pastor was obviously passionate and
sincere. Some of his sermon was even interesting. ... Like so many young
ministers, this well-meaning pastor was answering a question none of us ever
had or cared about...."
Whether Van Yperen cared or not, many
Christians do want answers to those "intellectual questions."
When challenged by pseudo science and anti-Biblical persuasions, they want to
respond with love, truth, facts and logic -- trusting that God will use
the faith and knowledge He has provided. He tells us to "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a
reason for the hope that is in you...." 1 Peter 3:15. While
our hope is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ, others may not
hear His promises until some of the world's confusing barriers and
"scientific" disinformation have first been removed.
6. "From salvation out
of hell to an invitation into a way of life." That invitation is summarized in the introduction to Making
Peace: "All believers are called into a way of life that makes peace. The
place God has given for this is the church -- the called out, called together
community of believers. The Church is God's agent for reconciliation in the
But what does he mean by
peace? Peace and reconciliation between God and people? Between
Christians? Or peace between the Christians and the world?
To global leaders it means unity in
diversity - breaking down barriers between cultures, religions, lifestyles and
Unlike "seeker churches" that ignore
words like "sin" and "guilt" for fear of offending visitors, Van Yperen
rightly identifies sin as the culprit that destroys peace. He calls for
confession  as a means to healing and unity. That's good, as long as
confession flows from genuine conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and isn't
used to manipulate people into submission to unbiblical guidelines.
The problem? God's truths have been put
into the context of the new vision of community -- a vision that reaches
beyond the Biblical church to the world's idea of a managed community. This
vision changes both the emphasis of confession and the meaning of sin. So in
spite of God's promise in Ezekiel 18:20, he defines "sin" according to today's
demand for universal participation in the collective:
"As we submit to one
another and learn to love one another and forgive one another and confess
our sins to one another, we practice salvation.... Sin is never
private. There is no private sin in the church. If there is sin in the
body, it is our sin."
"Ninety-five percent or more of Scripture
was written for and to be heard by a people, not individuals. It was not
given for your personal edification and devotion. That... we have called
that its primary purpose and looked and acted like lone ranger
Christians, each with our private study Bible by our our private
personal pastor and never interacted with others, is a
It could be a sin, if pride drives
our personal study. God calls each of us to communion with Himself. Christians
who can't find a Biblical community that loves His Word can always find
fellowship and peace in His wonderful presence. To discourage the personal
study needed for a personal relationship with Christ would seem to be a
It's easy to see the Bible through
familiar filters which show a preferred but slightly unbiblical perspective.
When taught by a persuasive and articulate leader like Van Yperen, that filter
will affect how the group thinks, acts and views itself, the Bible and God.
Individual Christians who search God's Word themselves can be strong
corrective influences in authoritarian churches that deemphasize "facts" but
do emphasize new interpretations of a "negotiable" Bible.
It's no secret that cults through the
years have twisted truths, denied privacy, redefined sin and pressured people
to participate in group confession. So did Communist leaders and trainers in
China and the former Soviet Union. In his testimony before
the Committee on Un-American activities, Edward Hunter, an respected
authority on Communist psychological warfare, explained the process
which included constant "self-criticisms... confessions and the
ultimate indecent and humiliating disrobing of minds.”
And in his 1956 book, Brainwashing, Hunter
"'Learning' and 'confession' are
inseparable from brainwashing. Everyone has to participate in them, whether
a party member or not.... Confession is an integral part of the rites. In
China there are no exceptions from it for anyone, any more than for
attendance at "learning" classes. The retention of his own individuality by
a single person is recognized as a deadly menace by the whole monolithic
Brainwashing blurs the line between fact
and distortions, between truth and lies. Without facts and absolute truths --
and the mental discipline to cling to those certainties throughout the
horrendous assaults on their minds and bodies -- the POW who faced
brainwashing in Asian concentration camps quickly broke down. In contrast, the
prisoners who knew the absolute certainty of God's Word were able to endure
and triumph in the midst of terrible oppression.
In light of our need as Christians for
truths and facts in this changing world, Van Yperen's message is all the more
"We are not called to know
facts about God, but to know Him," he told the congregation. "Knowing things
about God is not knowing God."
The last part is true, but the first part
is not. Yes, we want to "know God" personally and intimately both as
individuals and as the Body of Christ. Anyone with a Bible can learn facts,
even demons: As James (2:19) wrote, "You believe that there is one God.
You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!"
But if we don't study
and know the facts that God has revealed about Himself, we can't know
Him as He wants to be known. Apart from the God-given truths, it's all too
easy to lose perspective, follow the world's suggestions and accept an
unbalanced or twisted view of our Lord. We need to understand His wrath as
well as His love... His judgments as well as His wonderful promises. We must
remember that -- by His wisdom and love -- He can be both "jealous" and
"angry" when we turn to alternative sources of strength and wisdom, yet He is
neither "tolerant" nor "permissive" as many like to believe.
The Biblical facts --
even the less popular aspects of His nature -- increase our delight in His
wonderful attributes. Together, they enable us to love Him with all our mind
and strength as well as heart and soul. They equip us to resist deception and
stand firm in Christ. And they prepare us to follow Him without compromise or
hesitation, as He intended when He chose us to be His friends forever.
"Blessed is the man who walks
not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor
sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted
by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season...." Psalm
explanation: It has not been easy
to write this article. I have agonized before my Lord concerning the rightness
of criticizing a pastor who desires to serve God's people and heal His church.
Many times over the last half year, I have tried to put this project aside and
ignore these hard issues. Then this morning, as I again prayed for guidance
and confirmation, God seemed to give me a clear answer, both in His Word and
through Van Yperen's taped April 21 morning message. Though I am not a member
of his local church, I am a member of the Christ's worldwide church -- the
Body of Christ. Therefore, we are called to minister to one another -- as Van
Yperen makes abundantly clear in this teaching:
"Some believe it is more loving to keep silent.
But I suggest to you that in the Church, silence is not golden. It's
deceitful. If you know of someone who's been in sin -- or you know of a sin
-- you are called to go, either to confess or to confront. And to do so in a
loving way. Keeping silent never helps....
"Am I my brother's keeper? The answer is: Yes you
are. You are your brother's keeper. Denying truth is not a redemptive
Christian response to good or bad....
You need to learn how to speak the truth. It is
more hurtful to keep silent than not to. ... If you are paralyzed by fear
and doubt, ask God for the faith and the strength. Take courage.
This report shows only a small part of the picture.
It focuses primarily on the strategies used to change conservative Bible
teaching churches, which differ from those used to mold the
church-growth-oriented churches. But both use the dialectic (consensus)
process to conform minds to the new vision of unity. Today's leaders, whether
in churches or the world's organizations, are trained to adapt their process
to diverse settings.
We plan to follow up with a glossary of new words
and meanings that might help explain today's persuasive language and the
subtle new messages behind traditional words.
I pray that God will use this report to show the
dangers of bringing the world's ideology, visions and systems into God's
churches. By His grace, may He awaken His people to the envisioned
transformation, the unbiblical processes and the ambiguous language that blind
our eyes and twist the truths that we love.
1. Ronald Havelock, A Change Agent's Guide to Innovation in
2. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, pages 10 and
3. George Barna,
Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1997), page
Jim Van Yperen, Sunday evening, April
Teaching on submission: "It's sin not to submit. ... By my refusal to admit it
is sin, its a further problem. That's what Satan wants to do. He wants to
separate us. And if he can give me the idea that I'm right and you are wrong
so I'm not going to submit to you because you are crazy or I don't like you or
I'm not going to listen to you or I'm won't come to church... that's an act of
sin. Its rebellion. Its sin. It needs to be confessed repented of and
forgiven. Most of what happens in the church that get us into trouble are
these relational sins that we want to minimize and say, 'No I just disagree.'
We'll talk about disagreement. There's not a lot of things you have permission
to disagree about."
5. Jim Van Yperen, CLCBC Proposal, Metanoia
Ministries, Jan. 25, 2002.
6. Jim Van Yperen, Spiritual Leadership Formation, Metanoia
Ministries, page 6.
7.Van Yperen list some additional changes (for example: "from
mission to vision" in his training manual, "Strategic Leadership Formation,"
Metanoia Ministries, page 10.
8. Van Yperen 4/22
9. Galatians 1:6-8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17Revelation
10. Stephen Shields, "Christian discipleship in
Postmodernity: Toward a praxis of spiritual
11. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page
12. Jim Van Yperen,
Leaders on Leadership, page 254.
13. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page 43.
14. Jim Van Yperen,
Leaders on Leadership, pages 253, 259 (note #7).
15. Peter Senge, "Creating Quality
16. Ibid., page 42.
17. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page 4.
18. Peter Senge
and the Learning Organization at http://www.infed.org/thinkers/senge.htm
19. Peter Senge in
20. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page 22.
21. Jim Van Yperen, 3-3-02.
22. Jim Van Yperen,
Leaders on Leadership, page 255.
Senge 1990: 356
24. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page
25. Confession has been used in many parts of the world to produce
brokenness and submission to totalitarian leaders. Please read "Brainwashing and
26. Jim Van Yperen, 3-10-02.
27. Jim Van Yperen, 3-3-02.
Hunter, Brainwashing (New York: Pyramid Books, 1956), pages
29. Jim Van Yperen, The
Shepherd Leader, page
Original article: Crossroad
Fair Use Notice