The Out-of-Control Bus That Runs Over Sheep
Part 2: The Culture Which Gave Rise to Mark Driscoll
Read Part 1: “We Are Not ABANDONED”
|Leadership Network’s NEXT, Dec. 1997
Leadership Network’s culture has trained several generations of megachurch leaders and spawned the Emergent/Emerging and New Calvinist evangelical “streams” (among others). Precisely WHAT was taught to these leaders that gave them the idea that it is okay for their sheep to “get run over by the bus”?”
|NEXT, Dec., 1997, p. 3
Before proceeding it is necessary to establish that Leadership Network sees itself as a “change agent” organization, and a premier “network of networks.” It believes it possesses replicating “DNA” that can be inserted into existing churches and faith-based organizations across the country. As a training outfit, Leadership Network reproduces its DNA downline throughout its multiplying interconnected networks. From the beginning, the DNA of Leadership Network was intended to become the DNA of the evangelical world.
|Full first page of Dec. 1997 issue
In December 1997, Leadership Network’s Megachurch bus shifted into a new gear and set the path towards “accelerating the emergence of the 21st century church.” They stated that their “new paradigm” would not be “centered in theology” but rather “focused on structure” and organization.” At the right is the full context of the opening quote at the top of this post. In this particular issue of NEXT, Leadership Network announced preliminary organizational structural changes that laid the groundwork for the next few years of paradigm-shifting. This would set the stage for the year 2000, and soon afterwards Emergent/Emerging would be launched.
From its inception the foundation of this “emergence” was fundamentally flawed. There was an inherent defect in the DNA. It did not originate from the Scriptures. It was a foreign organism, not unlike a virus. The full-blown disease is now in evidence at Mars Hill in Seattle. People are feeling the terrible symptoms, but few know its origins. And some may not want to know it.
Leadership Network’s DNA is not about the Gospel of Salvation. It was never about Jesus Christ. The emphasis was always on “structure” and “organization” and the nuts and bolts of how to “transition” the church the church into the new “emerging paradigm.” Yes, its emerging leaders spoke the hip-sounding intellectual language of theology and philosophy. But that was part of the structural change. They were charged with deconstructing the old mindsets of the old theological paradigm and building the new. Everything was to be turned inside out, upside down, and totally gutted. In this postmodern worldview there can be no absolute truth and God’s Word is not the final authority. So the leaders actually threw out the road map and began careening down the road in an out-of-control bus. It was all a grand experiment.
Because their message was not about Jesus Christ, there was never a pathway back home, a bus route leading to real repentance. Once the mission was locked into gear there could be no reversal, no going back. Everything must go forward in the “system.” This principle is deeply embedded in the DNA of the transition. In the reinvented church, sin was re-cast as something in the machinery that needed to be fixed. Sin wasn’t even really seen as a moral issue, it was seen as anything gumming up the works. And if something couldn’t be fixed, or spin-doctored, then it needed to be “abandoned.” Leadership Network’s own business guru, Peter Drucker, articulated this basic organizational ideology:
Change agents. To survive and succeed, every organisation will have to turn itself into a change agent. The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it. But experience has shown that grafting innovation on to a traditional enterprise does not work. The enterprise has to become a change agent. This requires the organised abandonment of things that have been shown to be unsuccessful, and the organised and continuous improvement of every product, service and process within the enterprise (which the Japanese call kaizen). It requires the exploitation of successes, especially unexpected and unplanned-for ones, and it requires systematic innovation. The point of becoming a change agent is that it changes the mindset of the entire organisation. Instead of seeing change as a threat, its people will come to consider it as an opportunity.”
Study what Drucker was actually saying. This term “organised abandonment” means anything “shown to be unsuccessful.” The organization must experience kaizen, “continuous improvement of every product, service and process,” a concept he applied to the church. But it presents problems. First, it simply isn’t biblical, and can’t be found in the teachings of Jesus or the apostles. Much of the books published by Leadership Network leader/change agent authors have attempted to create a theology to justify this. Second, church “organisation” is made up of fallible and infirm human beings – who are not a perfect “product” and can’t produce a perfect “service.” Third, the only way to “improve” human beings is to preach the Word, the Gospel message of salvation that reveals God’s grace, convicts the heart, and leads to our humble repentance. Jesus Christ our Savior died for our sins, and the transformation of the inner man by the power of the Holy Spirit leads us to daily die to self. Fourth, these terms need to be defined. What does “unsuccessful” mean? What happens to people who don’t exhibit “continuous improvement”? What allowance is made for inability, infirmity, or inadequacy to measurably perform “continuous improvement” in one’s daily life? How many people have been thrown under the bus because of this business principle?
|Leadership Network’s NEXT, Dec. 1997, p. 3.
Leonard Sweet, who was a poster boy for Leadership Network during the decade of the 1990s, writing about networking and this replicating organizational DNA, summarized the “gene shifts” from “focus on ‘church growth’ to ‘church health” as new “learning”:
In short, the changes in our learning paradigm require new structures and new core tools for the learning gene–active learning, interactive learning,
mutual learning, team learning, service learning, game learning, leisure/vacation learning, adventure learning, electronic learning, network learning, group learning, distance learning and cyberlearning systems and programs.
Notice that Sweet makes no mention of Bible learning. It is not on his list. It is not in the DNA. A missing gene! Nevertheless, Leadership Network’s networking-by-stealth DNA incorporated thousands of churches into its vast downline empires, that included Purpose-Driven and Willow Creek as well as Mars Hill.
But there was indeed “learning” in Sweet’s new system. It came straight out of the occult New Age movement. It created the road map for the bus route.
|NEXT, Vol. 6, 2000, partial page 1
Gentlemen, start your buses!
In the year 2000 Leadership Network brought to a head its decades-long work of facilitating the “emergence” of a 21st century church by launching a major conference called “Exploring Off the Map.” It was at this groundbreaking conference that the “Mission and Values” of the church were totally overhauled, reinvented, re-visualized, re-imagined and re-created. The conference theme was based on the motif of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Participants were assigned to
✵ Learn to create your own maps. The old ones don’t work any more so you will have to chart your own course.
We first wrote about this event in 2005, and assisted our friend, author and ex-New Ager Warren Smith, with his research on this conference. In his book A “Wonderful” Deception. Smith described how
In May 2000, Leadership Network sponsored a conference titled “Exploring Off the Map.” Quantum Spirituality author Leonard Sweet was a featured speaker at this conference with New Age sympathizers Ken Blanchard, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and others. Disregarding the certainty of God-given prophecy in Scripture, Leadership Network was determined to provide a more optimistic user-friendly “map” to the future. For the conference, Sweet was given the lead role of Chief Scout.(p. 150)
|Ying/yang symbol on p. 1, NEXT, May 1997
Something should be said here about experience. Our personal experience. The postmodern worldview puts great stock in experiential faith. Experiences are widely acclaimed and applauded as genuine and authentic. But our experiences, leading to the writing of this post, may be discounted. Why? Because they don’t fit the “Mission and Values” of the paradigm. Some of us were exposed to postmodernism in the Protestant churches back in the 1960s when the first experiments at changing the map were tried. Warren Smith experienced the New Age, and he has continually warned other believers about where its roads lead. And, as we said in Part 1, we were trained in the change methodologies that operate the bus. Our criticisms of this “Exploring Off the Map” conference may be automatically disparaged, discounted or dismissed. Naysayers, including those of us who warn, are usually tossed under the bus. But, we studied the roadmaps, we’ve ridden similar buses, and we know that this one is heading off a cliff.
It is claimed that “over 500 men and women” attended this “Exploring Off the Map” conference. To date we have never heard a single attendee come forth and repent of their involvement. We pray for a man of courage to speak out about this experience. The intention of this conference was to toss out the old road maps, and plot out a new path for the future. Deconstruction can be destructive. Although the wrecking tools weren’t necessarily visible, and the results wouldn’t be evident for a awhile, eventually people ended up under this bus. We heard their stories. When they didn’t fit the new paradigm, the sheep got tossed underneath. Their pastors had come under the influence of this new DNA and remapped the genes of their local church. Much of this was done under the radar and surreptitiously, and often by deception. We heard stories about local people discovering that their church had come under the networking umbrella of Willow Creek without congregational authorization (even if required in the church bylaws or constitution) or knowledge. Management by a select few at the top – self-anointed and self-appointed leaders with financial incentives – is the structure of governance in this operating system. Don’t be fooled by the “laity” rhetoric.
|NEXT, Vol. 6, 2000, page 1, next paragraph
|Todd Hunter’s report, page 5
Leadership Network admitted that they put 18 months into the planning and programming of this “Exploring Off the Map” conference, and they invested a lot of capital. The stated “mission” for “Corps of Discovery” attendees was said to “look beyond the present-day horizon and explore the changing national and global landscape for the purpose of charting new maps for the 21st century.” This raises an obvious question. The old map would have been what? The Bible? It is often referred to as the road map for Christian believers.
Considering that New Age gurus charted the map, just where did they direct these church leaders? And considering that Leadership Network was highly influenced by the “futurist” beliefs of the New Age gurus – that mankind can create “alternative future scenarios” – what does that tell us about the direction the bus began heading?
At this time period Leadership Network was busy putting its core group of “young leaders” through intensive experiences and indoctrination in these new ways of thinking, believing, and acting. The pressure on these young men must have been extremely intense. The old ways were disparaged. They were given a hammer and told to start pounding away. They had to build a new road from scratch. What a heady adventure! But the mortar for the new road was untempered (Ezekiel 13: 10-15). The new mindset did not permit a return to the old paths. No wonder so many have forgotten how to repent and return to Jesus Christ and the simplicity of the Gospel.
Who were these New Age gurus that taught evangelical leaders how to transform the church for the future? To throw out old maps and invent new ones? Here are a few very brief descriptions:
- Peter Senge, a Buddhist New Age leader who developed the concept of “learning organizations” based on systems theory, in which we humans can recreate ourselves by visioning the future. His book The Fifth Discipline was heavily marketed by Leadership Network. Todd Hunter wrote his reflections on the “Exploring Off the Map” conference for newsletter NEXT. Sadly, he esteemed Peter Senge as a “prophet.”
- Margaret Wheatley, an eastern mystic New Age leader who teaches man’s evolution of consciousness into a New Age on earth. Wheatley frequently uses the metaphor of maps, paths, and explorers to describe this process.
- Ken Blanchard, who has been a high profile leader. He is a business guru with obvious New Age leanings, and worked closely with Rick Warren on his Global P.E.A.C.E. plan.
- Jim Collins, who is still on the Leadership Network dog-and-pony-show as a leader training their leaders. His book Built to Last is an all-time favorite. He recently wrote the Foreword to Bob Buford’s (founder of Leadership Network) new book Drucker and Me.
In May 1997 Collins wrote an article for NEXT titled “Building An Enduring Church.” This article employed Ying/Yang eastern mysticism symbols throughout the text, and in the photo below, showing him talking to a group of “30 senior ministers.” Collins explained the concept of “core values” and how they must be shared. Left unanswered is what happens to those people who don’t share the new core values. Tossed under the bus?
Core ideology need only be meaningful and inspirational to people inside the organization; it need not be exciting to all outsiders. A clear, and well-articulated ideology attracts people to the company whose personal values are compatible with the company’s core values, and conversely, repels those whose personal values are contradictory. You can’t get people to share core values… you get the people who are attracted to the values you share. What are you doing today to develop a deep bench of people who share the values of your church? [emphasis added]
|Note the ying/yang on the screen. Photo p. 2, NEXT, May 1997
Take a Look Under the Bus
This article series does not even begin to touch upon a key theme – how all of this impacts the sheep. This article identifies the “Mission and Values” of Leadership Network that had caused so much harm. But it goes beyond this. Read more about the process in Berit Kjos’s article “Dealing with Resisters.”
The business gurus entered the church via Leadership Network, at the invitation of Peter Drucker and Bob Buford, and put forth their own brand of organizational change and methodology. Leadership Network gave them a platform, visibility, credibility, and an eager market for their wares. These men (and women) were exciting, savvy, clever and adept at communicating a New Age worldview through the lens of their own management theories. Their ideas seemed state-of-the-art, cutting-edge, and workable. They promised pastors success, influence, wealth and power. They even helped write new theologies. The church must be redesigned to bring it up to speed for the coming global order of the world. This was Drucker’s vision.
|NEXT, May-June 1998, “Young Leader Universe” page
Despite its utopian pretensions, things have been going wrong with this transformation. The “DNA” of these operating systems is incompatible with the Gospel because it is sourced from the occult. The New Age paradigm is evolutionary. The gurus believe only those who are “aligned” and
“connected” in “synchrony” will “cause a shift in the consciousness of
Earth.” Much of this has been re-articulated by Brian McLaren into Christian-sounding language.
These New Age business gurus envisioned the church as a corporate
“organism,” a “system,” an “entity” in a mystical sense. In their New
Age worldview, there is no room for “cancer” in the “body.” Cancer must
be eradicated, eliminated, excised – abandoned. How much of this toxic ideology has seeped into the church?
Mark Driscoll’s “under the bus” statement transcribed below, which was posted in its entirety at the “We Are Not Anonymous” site of those who have fled Mars Hill (audio clip: http://tinyurl.com/pjkbylp). Notice Driscoll’s opening statement: “You cast vision for your mission.” This is directly out of the Leadership Network training manual. Notice what Driscoll says next: “and if people don’t sign up you move on.” What happens to these people? Driscoll employs the exploration motif of the “Exploring Off the Map” conference: “There are people that are going to die in the wilderness.” His people, his sheep. If they gum up the works they need to be discarded. His bus runs on the new operating system.
Mark Driscoll: Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission and if people don’t sign up you move on. You move on. There are people that are going to die in the wilderness and there are people that are going to take the hill. That’s just how it is.
Um. Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people.
Um. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (chuckle) and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options, but the bus ain’t gonna’ stop.
And, uh, I’m just a, I’m just a guy who is like, look, we love you, but this is what we’re doing.
Note that he says “the bus ain’t gonna stop.” This is the outworking
of “continuous improvement” applied to human lives in tangible and
hurtful ways. The church is the bus that has to keep moving on. Harsh!
Some “gotta get run over” because they stand in the way of this
transformation. And who gets thrown off the bus? Those who “wanna go
There’s a few kinda’ people: There’s people who get in the way of the bus—they gotta get run over!
There are people who wanna’ take turns driving the bus—they gotta’ get thrown off (chuckle). ‘Cause they wanna’ go somewhere else!
Leonard Sweet described team building in his 1997 article for NEXT. He identified “The TEAM Gene” in the DNA, and it requires “very different skills” for leadership, including facilitator and coach. In the new system, the top-down hierarchy of control works differently. People are manipulated and maneuvered into change, often deceptively, which enforces compliance with new methods of coercion. Thus, Driscoll can say that “helpers and servants” and people “who sit on the bus and shut up” are welcome. Why? Because they can fit into of the “Mission and Values” of the organization. As long as they “serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way” they’re okay.
There are people who will, uh, be on the bus—leaders and helpers and servants—they’re awesome!
There’s also just sometimes nice people who sit on the bus and shut up. Um. They’re not helping or hurting—just let them ride along. Um. You know what I’m saying?
But don’t look at the nice people that are just going to sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, “I need you to lead the mission.” They’re never going to. At the very most you’ll give them a job to do and they’ll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that hasn’t been on mission for a really long time, they are by definition not a leader—and so they’re never going to lead.
Finally, look what happened to the leaders who spoke out against the systemic corruption inherent in this faulty DNA. They were tossed “under the bus.” Driscoll explains why: “They were off mission.” The DNA of these leadership organizations cannot tolerate anyone or anything “off mission.” And Driscoll has the audacity to claim that the apostle Paul occasionally “puts somebody in the wood chipper”? What violent language!
You need to gather a whole new core.
I’ll tell you guys what, too. You don’t do this just for your church planting or replanting, I’m doing it right now. I’m doing it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus. Yesterday, we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They’re off the bus, under the bus.
Um. They were off mission, so now they’re unemployed. I mean. You. This will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail. I’ve read enough of the New Testament to know that occasionally Paul puts somebody in the wood chipper. You know?
All this has created a toxic culture. And many are hurt and wounded. This bus system needs to be examined and exposed. People are experiencing the nasty fruits that are evident above. But it is time to examine the roots – the entire cultural milieu that created this devastation. It isn’t just happening at Mars Hill. May God bless those people who have courageously come forward to tell the truth. Their acts of courage are creating a counter paradigm shift, opening a pathway for true repentance. May they lead people back to the simplicity of the Gospel. May many more wake up, flee the toxic stew, study what just happened so they avoid it in the future. And finally – have mercy – pull others out of the fire (Jude 1:23).
therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
1. Peter Drucker, “The way ahead,” The Economist, 11/1/01, bold in original, color added. Original url was: http://www.economist.com/node/770887?Story_id=770887. This quote by Peter Drucker can be found as an opening quote for a Herescope post, OCTOBER 02, 2006, https://herescope.net/2006/10/global-health-leadership-management.html “Global Health Leadership & Management”
2. Leonard Sweet, “Eleven Genetic Gateways to Spiritual Awakening,” NEXT, Leadership Network, May-June 1998, p. 2.
3. Warren Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception (Lighthouse Trails, 2009), pages 150-153. See also: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/discernment/5-29-earth-newstory.htm
4. Ibid., p. 151, which cites articles by Wheatley. See: http://www.margaretwheatley.com/writing.html Also see her article published by Frances Hesselbein’s Leader to Leader journal, “Lost and Found in a Brave New World,” http://media.wix.com/ugd/a7b5e7_1980e72c748b408f9dac5ccadb4687ec.pdf Wheatley was also featured in Leadership Network’s April 23, 2001 “Church Champions” newsletter, where she got a rave review on her book Leadership and the New Science, which delved into quantum spirituality.
5. Smith, Ibid. See the index for the many places where he wrote about Ken Blanchard’s controversial activities and New Age beliefs.
6. Jim Collins is currently promoted by Leadership Network here: http://leadnet.org/book_list/ and for his influence see him listed here: http://awakengeneration.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/the-books-that-andy-stanley-thinks-you-should-read/
7. These words come from a quote by Barbara Marx Hubbard in her book The Revelation, p. 243. Warren Smith quoted this in his book Reinventing Jesus Christ, p. 58.
8. See our article, “Earth: The Old Story, The New Story,” https://herescope.net/2008/05/earth-old-story-new-story.html, also posted here: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/discernment/5-29-earth-newstory.htm and view the charts here: http://www.crossroad.to/charts/new-story.htm