The Problem with the Purpose Driven Life Movement: Cookies?

An anonymous quote many years ago that comes to mind when we think about the Purpose Driven Life (PDL) cult that is infecting Christianity:

“Come to the dark side. We’ve got cookies.”

The quote is laughable, because we can’t imagine that the Galactic Empire (of the Star Wars franchise) would offer the galaxy cookies to join the ‘dark side’. A sovereign empirical power across the galaxy offering people cookies to join their side?


It suddenly makes the sinister characters of the Star Wars film look stupid, childish and open for mockery if anyone in the Galactic Empire or Imperial Force dared to entertain such a campaign.

You may be asking what this has got to do with the Purpose Driven Movement. We are going to take the Cookie Campaign concept from the above quote, however we do not want people thinking we are comparing the dark side with true biblical Christianity.


The bible describes the Christian God as three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is also omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. The most amazing aspect about the Christian God is that He came to earth, as promised from the ancient writings, as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. This was the Wisdom, Word and Power of God incarnate. And Jesus, the Messiah lived up to all the titles of the Old Testament bestowed upon Him. One of the most important titles was ‘Lamb of God’. It was John the Baptist who pointed Israel to the Messiah by boldly declaring,

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” John 1:29-31

The Christian gospel is based on the fact that this omnipresent, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God in human flesh, took away the sins of the world on the cross on which he died. This was how it was prophesied in the scriptures:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

The scripture exhort that ministers preach this Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). This is because faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). And this is how we are to make disciples, according to Christ and His teachings. The Word of God is the power to draw people to be saved. Furthermore, the church is for Christians to receive the Word of the Gospel every Sunday.

However, God has already judged, rejected and called out the Purpose Driven Life cult.

God claims they are, “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” because they have the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:2-5.)

Christianity relies on the Power of God’s Word to lead people to Jesus Christ for their salvation and forgiveness of sins. While Christianity believes faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God, the PDL cults believe faith comes through relevance and being relevant to the culture. As long as they think they are being relevant, people might actually come to church to be saved. However, the PDL message does not have the same power as the Christian message of salvation.

The PDL tap into the psychological vacuum of the human ‘animal’. This human ‘animal’ has been taught by Darwin’s philosophers that everything was created by chance and we are all animals trying to figure out why we are here. The title of a famous artwork from the artist Gauguin comes to mind:

“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”

And what message does our pop culture reinforce to those who are despairing?

(Here is an example of it from Disney’s Pocahontas.)

It’s as if Rick Warren (recognised as the father of the Purpose Driven Life cult) was inspired by Disney’s Pocahontas in 1995, absorbing its message, writing his successful ‘Purpose Driven Life’ in 2002 and daring to suggest that Jesus can be MORE attractive if we told the culture that anyone’s purpose in life can be better if they just add Jesus.

16CWCPortrait_Rick Warren

Warren clearly capitalised on the world’s ‘felt needs’. People wanted to find a purpose to their life. So what did Warren give the world?

He may think he gave them Jesus. However, he offered the world a lie:

“Join Christianity: We’ve got purpose-driven cookies from God.”

In other words, God’s purpose for you is far better than the world’s purpose for you.

Unfortunately, the world, (and now the church), just wants these ‘cookies’.

Those big delicious purpose-driven ‘cookies’. God can keep making it better for us!


So how do PDL cult leaders reinforce the idea to Christians and non-Christians alike that God wants us to live a life of purpose if it’s not found in the bible?

Unless they twist God’s Word, they can’t. Which is why so many leaders in the Purpose Driven Life cult are starting to rely on movies (not the gospel) to reinforce the idea that God wants people to find their purpose. Then they have to continue to rely on pop culture to give the impression that Jesus is all about giving people purpose. However, one of these Jesus’ is not like the other.

The Christian Jesus has come to save us from our sins

The PDL Jesus has come to change your life so you can live for a purpose.

That’s a different Jesus and a different gospel. They’ve claimed the methods must change but not the message. But the message has changed. The worst thing is that these PDL leaders deny the power of God’s Word to draw people to church to be saved. They rely on pop-culture i.e. movies, to do that.

When we are so desperate to outreach with ‘cookies’ like this, the world laughs at how pathetic it looks. Here is David Hughes from Church by the Glades explaining why he does movie themes for church. You will notice his method changes the message and that he presents the false Jesus (as we have just  described) to  fulfill’s a goats “purpose-driven life”:

If it is not God who has drawn them but sensual entertainment, then these same sensual gimmicks are not going to keep them attending this type of “church”. They need to feel convinced by their leaders they have found their God-given purpose. And Purpose-Driven Life leaders KNOW THIS.

This is why PDL leaders roll out gimmicks week after week. This is why they keep making amazing promises that next week will be ALWAYS be better… or give the impression that what they’re doing is making their disciples more purpose-driven. This is why they rely on music, smoke machines, inspiring magazine preaching-type messages and movies to keep people coming back to church.

Most importantly, PDL leaders need to convince their members that their purpose-driven pastor has a purpose-driven church to impact and change society (otherwise, what’s the point of being purpose-driven if you’re not offering anything relevant or helpful?).

As a result, because they are so busy attempting to be important, purpose-driven and relevant, Jesus turns into an idol to suit the desire and needs of the unbeliever’s pursuit to find ‘purpose’. This means the PDL leaders won’t know how to deal with those who are asking for more purpose-driven teaching. Sadly, this causes the sheep to starve while the goats are fed… and the show goes on. The real Jesus gets thrown out with His sheep while the goats flood the pews to be inspired by the Purpose-Driven Life of their relevant Purpose-Driven Messiah who is teaching them how to live out this purpose-driven gospel.

The end result? You have goats defending their Messiah and their earthly ministry, not sheep defending Jesus and His heavenly ministry. (We see them on our sites all the time.)

Finally, the worst thing about all this is that the church STILL comes out looking bad.  Why? It sends the wrong message about the true gospel and it makes the world groan and avoid us further.

If we’re wanting people to believe in an all powerful, all knowing God, why are we enticing them with the message of Pocahontas? Why give them gimmicks? The movie spoilers? Novelties?

Why are we giving the world the impression that ‘cookies’ like this can make them become a disciple of our Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ?

If leaders think they are doing God or the world a favour by using ‘cookies’ to get people through church doors to embrace their ‘purpose’ rather than take up their cross daily, then the world has every right to laugh and Christians have every right to leave.

And that’s as deep as the PDL cult gets.


Categories: Purpose Driven Life (PDL)

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3 replies

  1. This makes me so sad. So many people are being lead astray, but probably believe they are destined for heaven.

  2. Jesus said “feed my sheep” from His word, not the junk food the world produces. We are called out to look different than the world.

  3. Good article. I left Church by the Glades, the church featured in both of the videos shown here, right after the Halloween “service” last October. Sadly, I was there for both the “get in the car” sermon, and the Pokemon service. I remember being thoroughly embarrassed during that Pokemon “worship song.”

    The sermons at Church by the Glades were like Tony Robbins’ motivational speeches, with one or two Bible verses taken out of context to proof text whatever David Hughes felt like talking about. There was no expository preaching, and no solid exegesis. Lots of personal anecdotes and jokes. I’ve tried waking up some of my friends who are still there, and I’ve encountered just the sort of hostility you’d expect from cult members when dealing with someone who left the cult. David Hughes constantly labels people who question his methods “haters”, and encourages his followers to do the same. I was angrily told the other day that I don’t understand the mission of that church, and that it uses carnal methods because it is trying to attract carnal people. Which violates James 4:4, and since the Gospel isn’t being preached there, there’s little chance that those carnal people will come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They do seem to come back for the next show. Goats love a good show.

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