In Rick Warren’s article “Six Physical Factors That Affect Your Worship Service,” which appeared in The Christian Post, Warren attributes the success of worship to comfortable and aesthetic facilities. Drawing an analogy between stadiums and sanctuaries, Warren contends that pews are the cultural equivalent to the “cheap bleacher section at ball games.”1 He advises pastors to imitate those “box seats” that “are prized at stadiums.”2 It seems that with pews, pastors also run the risk of making people uncomfortable with seating that is too close together. “Personal Space is highly valued in our society,” Warren observes.3
Of course, the tried and true church goers may not know they aren’t up to society’s standard of being uncomfortable; and this is why Warren’s advise emphasizes duplicity, and begins with a supposition: “If you can get away [with] replacing the pews, I’d advise it.”4 If pastors can, then the fun can really start.
Once a pastor can replace the pews with movable chairs, he can begin to exercise control over the minds of the worshipers by milieu manipulation and group dynamics. The first thing to eliminate is the skeptical, or discriminating, mind.This can be accomplished by placing the chairs so that “people can see some of each other’s faces.”5 This way a pastor who has adopted the PDL sermons, replete with personal anecdotes and humorous stories, can work these to his advantage. When he can get people to see other people laughing, he can cause them to suspend their judgment of his anemic sermon out of respect for the happy occasion. This is the use of group dynamics in a controlled environment, and the fun is just starting.
As this new church is in the “planting” stage,6 it is important to give appearance of success. Warren instructs pastors to “always set up less chairs than you need. It’s encouraging to your people when additional chairs must be brought in as people arrive.”7 There is one more indispensable part of this musical chair deception if it is to be a Warren success: sound.
Invest in the best sound system you can afford. If you’re trying to cut costs, do it in some other area. Don’t skimp here. Saddleback grew for 15 years without our own building, but we’ve always had a state-of-the-art sound system.8
Could this mean taking out a second mortgage?Maybe they could sell those pews to a local stadium for cheap seats. Hey, it’s not about you; and it doesn’t seem to be about Him either. As can be seen by Warren’s choice of scripture for authorizing this program of pleasure seeker deception, It’s about pleasing society. To justify making facilities the heart of worship, Warren misapplies Titus 2:10, taking the verse completely out of context.This is the context:
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Tit 2:7-13)
This scripture is about the adornment which is manifested in the conversation, behavior, and the life of a saint; not in the facade of a building. Interestingly, it is also about sincerity, and not covertly setting something aside (purloining), and about fidelity, or good faith. Sound is important, but it is sound speech, or teaching that does not deviate from truth.
1 – 8. Rick Warren, “Six Physical Factors That Affect Your Worship Service, “The Christian Post, March 08, 2007.
4. (emphasis addeded)