In the summer of 2000, Mike Lueken had every reason to be proud as a pastor of Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California. Every Sunday, thousands of people flocked to Oak Hill's sixteen acre campus with its 35,000-square-foot facility, and the church was doing everything that a thriving, suburban megachurch with a $2 million budget was supposed to do. But then Lueken took a class at Fuller Seminary taught by Dallas Willard. The experience led to a complete change of course for him and Oak Hills Church.
"[Willard] was teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and conveying the heart of the gospel through Jesus' teaching, and I felt I was sitting there listening to something I'd never heard before," Lueken recalls. "We realized that we had to rethink what the gospel was about. Does the Bible teach only the gospel of heaven and forgiveness of sins? Or is it about a new way of living that involves the power of God, the peace of God, along with your sins being forgiven and going to heaven when you die?"
Lueken's story illustrates the change occurring among today's pastors, change that reflects new—or renewed—interest in a fuller picture of the gospel and in a sense of mission.
In order to gain a better understanding of these changes, Leadership conducted a survey in May 2008 asking nearly 700 evangelical pastors how their perceptions of the gospel and mission currently compare with their understanding a decade ago. The results clearly indicate that pastors' attitudes and beliefs are shifting.
What the survey actually says
The survey was designed to uncover movement, not simply raw numbers, and this is important when analyzing the data. When asked if "the kingdom of God is a present reality, a future reality, or both," 37 percent ...