A new article in today’s WSJ talks about the difficulty in churches unifying under a common philosophy, and cites a movement to Purpose Driven as a possible source of conflict.

Mr. Warren preaches in sandals and a Hawaiian shirt, and he encourages ministers to banish church traditions such as hymns, choirs and pews. He and his followers use “praise team” singers, backed by rock bands playing contemporary Christian songs. His sermons rarely linger on self-denial and fighting sin, instead focusing on healing modern American angst, such as troubled marriages and stress.

As membership in Protestant churches stagnated in the 1980s, Mr. Warren, a Southern Baptist in Orange County, Calif., learned from surveys that the region’s Reagan-era baby boomers said they didn’t connect with their parents’ churches. He figured they might find God if they could sit in a theater-style auditorium and listen to live pop music and sermons that could help them with ennui and personal problems. Through Mr. Warren’s Internet marketing savvy, tens of thousands of subscribing pastors learned about his church, which draws 20,000 people each weekend. In the past decade, many pastors jumped to replicate his methods, creating new churches and transforming existing ones.

Christians have long divided over efforts to adapt and modernize their faith. Some believers worry that purpose-driven techniques are so widespread among Protestant churches that they are permanently altering the way Christians worship. Some traditionalists say Mr. Warren’s messages misread Bible passages and undermine traditions. Mr. Warren is “gutting” Christianity, says the Rev. Bob DeWaay, author of a book critical of the approach. “The Bible’s theme is about redemption and atonement, not finding meaning and solving problems,” the Minneapolis pastor says. A spokesman said Mr. Warren believes the Bible addresses sin and redemption, as well as human problems.


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