What To Do When @RickWarren Stops Following You

What To Do When @RickWarren Stops Following You February 17, 2012

Got this in the in-box this week:

So I ask you, dear readers, what should be my response?

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  • Scot Miller

    Have a beer?

  • I’d be most concerned that Christian Reggae is no longer following you.

    Are you even relevant anymore if *they* don’t follow you??


  • Chris

    Start wearing Hawaiian-looking shirts constantly in an effort to woo him back?

    Actually, should any kind of response be necessary?

    In a somewhat related note, whatever you do, don’t make that gwetmore3 guy mad with any kind of response to him- if that’s actually him in the picture, he looks pretty hardcore.

  • James

    Take it as a badge of honor and then see if Paula White will fill the void.

  • Why respond?

  • When your heart gets broken, Tony, you just move on. You. Just. Move. On. There will be others who love you and leave you. You. Just. Move. On.

  • Rob

    I would take 40 days for time to discern, perhaps, his purpose?

  • Tim

    i’m so disappointed that people have already made witty comments about both christianreggae AND gtwetmore–beat me to the punch.

    Possible Responses:
    1. Start leaving incessant, rambling vm for rwarren, “Not sure if you listened to the entire thing last time, so I just wanted to make sure you knew it was me,” “Tony here again, just letting you know what my latest tweet was.”
    2. Contact Zondervan, convince them to drop all of Warren’s books to $.99 until he adds you back. I can give you 9 simple steps if you’re unsure how to go about doing so.
    3. Call Bono to intervene, perhaps he can host a Guinness Summit

  • Ben

    Guess that means you are officially outside the Evangelical fold now? Rick Warren is kinda like our pope….

  • Tom

    Ask yourself WWPD-What would Piper do? “Farewell Rick Warren”

  • Time to put on the sweatpants, buy a carton of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, and watch some sad, sad movies. 🙂

  • Alan K

    I would not blog about it.

  • Jim Hampton

    Didn’t you once tweet that you would unfollow anyone who followed Warren? Isn’t this a bit like calling the kettle black? 🙂

    Seriously, is a response even needed?

  • And in the same week that he comes out as an “Anabaptist”…..

  • angie

    Glad I didn’t unfollow you this week!
    I’d hate for my photo to be included in this line-up!

  • I’m more interested in which of your posts finally pushed him over the edge. I’m betting it was the one about Chicago.

  • TJJ

    Either you have lost your purpose, your drive, or your life as you know it. You better start following him on twitter and hope you get it back.

  • Ngk

    People follow you on twitter?

  • I’m surprised he was following you. I wonder if Rob Bell got an e-mail like this when he announced he was leaving Mars Hill.

  • Justin

    I can’t imagine that this would actually bother you all that much. You have a very particular vision of the church and Jesus, some will get on board, some will get off. It just so happens that the guy you have publicly criticized again and again unofficially gave you a “Farewell, Tony Jones.” And who can blame him? I’m surprised he had actually followed you this long. Maybe he’s not a bad dude after all?

    Beyond that, whereas a great deal of evangelical Christians, guys and gals who at one point followed you with great vigor, are losing interest. Your posts and writings are moving closer and closer towards an unending sense of bland complaints about how evangelicals are wrong and the church is flat.
    I would have purchased your last book if the title would have been anything but negative. I understand that you are provocative and push the envelope and everything. But that dissension only lasts so long. At the end of the day your inability to construct, instead of de-construct, may be the reason for your continued declining book sales, lowering of your very public (and well-deserved) platform, and loss of voice.

    You are like the actor/director who did some incredible blockbusters early on in his career. But after some public criticism of high profiled actors and directors, public fits, said person will learn nobody wants to work with him anymore. This actor will do artistic films, ones that he is very proud of and may be his best work yet, but no one is buying. M. Night? Kevin Smith? Tony Jones?

    In your defense, you created a movement. The emergent church was beautiful for about 5 years. Clearly the movement has fizzled. And we learned that a very specific and limited audience (Indie Film Anyone?) responds favorably to the work of the emergent church. The (emergent) church is flat indeed.

    If you love what you are doing, keep doing it.
    But if you seriously want to know why you got this unfollow, sit down with someone who will be honest with you and go from there. Take a year away from public ministry and just work on you. You’ve been through a lot in the last couple years and you could use a break. Get a job in the church where no one has heard of you. Learn to love people again. And hopefully you’ll learn that a lot of people love you. And hopefully you’ll learn that the church ain’t that bad.

    • No, I don’t seriously want to know why he unfollowed me. I don’t actually care. This post was meant to be funny.

      And, not to be a nitpicker, but The Church Is Flat is a positive title, not a negative one. The Church Isn’t a Hierarchy would be negative.

      So would God Hates the MegaChurch.

      But, of course, I didn’t title my book that.

      • MisterTee

        What? I thought the title was The Church Is Fat.

      • Justin

        I realized you weren’t asking a legitimate question. Most of your patrons took it as subtle sarcasm, and sarcasm ensued, some of which poked fun at Mr. Warren.

        And I apologize for misrepresenting the spirit of your latest book. I should read it. Truth is, I love your books and your writings. Youth Ministry, the Disciplines Book, Dispatches. I’d probably like Flat too!

        But clearly I’m not alone in my reflection regarding your very public ministry. And if there ever comes a point when you want to have sincere dialogue as to why perception regarding your thinking/writing/speaking has shifted, I’d welcome that.

        Thanks for your response. I wish you well.
        My apologies if these posts have been flat.

        • Justin, my question was sincere. Explain it, please.

  • Dan Hauge

    Um, shrug your shoulders and go back to eating breakfast?

  • Mark

    Wow, it just got real up in here. Whoever Justin is, I kind of agree with him. I’ve always been a big fan of you Tony. Early on, it felt like you were the only one who would say what we were all thinking. Not so sure anymore, now your saying things that on most days I would have a hard time with. You have moved and changed and its left many of us behind, Rick is not alone in tuning you out. That is not necessarily a bad thing because that shift may be what you were hoping for. I still listen to what you have to say just to challenge myself. I don’t mean to be discouraging but this is the reality of all this, the Rick Warrens and people like me are checking out slowly but surely. We aren’t going down in a blaze of glory trying to make you look like us or attacking your ideas, we are just tuning into other voices.

    • Mark, I’m open to your critique. Can you give me an example of 1) something that I said in the past that you appreciated, and 2) something I’ve written lately that you haven’t?


  • Jb

    I just wanted to say that I still read, and I am still enjoying the content. I often tell my husband “Tony wrote something interesting today”. It gives us something spiritual (or sometimes just funny) to dialogue about.

    Sure there are slow days. I wish you posted more and more content when you did. I especially appreciate the Lauren Winner series because you were more vulnerable.

    And it’s “you’re”, not “your” that you were looking for in your 4th sentence, Mark. 😉

  • But is @RealRaggae still following you?

  • Sean Rice

    With the death of the Emergent Church, you stopped being a relevant voice a few years ago Tony. Your only claim to fame these days is being a liberal Christian college professor, and there are already lots of those . I only follow you these days because of the influence you have on students at Fuller; if I were to cut my feed reader down for convenience, you’d probably be about 7th on my list. Scot McKnight still has scholarship credibility on his side. You don’t. With that kind of perspective on things I am surprised Rick Warren was following you at all man.

    • Sean,
      I don’t agree with everything Tony says, but you don’t need to be spiteful. I thought the responses here were going to be funny…they were more sad than funny— to the funny ones, kudos! To the haters—practice what you preach. Love each other! Build one another up! Even if you don’t agree or even if they do wrong! Build up! show respect…or at least a little restraint?

  • He (obviously?) has not been following you for quite some time. If ever.

    It’s like this is just him ‘coming out.’

  • Geez, people, I was kidding. I thought you all would find the humor in it. Thanks to those of you who did.

  • Kelly

    What an opportunity for reflection this has provided for you! I mean, first of all, who cares if Rick Warren chooses not to sit with his iPad and read the latest way you have criticized him. If you were using this blog to talk to him, then pick up your cell phone and talk to him. Second, your readers above are right. We are surprised you are surprised (if, indeed, you are surprised.) Styling yourself as a prophet is to choose a tough path. Prophets were reviled, ostracized, mocked, and some martyred. You were “de-friended.” You are in our prayers.

    But my suspicion is that you are not surprised. In fact, I think you’re bragging.
    And that brings me to the point of my posting here.

    You have really meant a lot to me during important phases of my life. You have provoked me to think and act in ways that have grown my faith. You and Tony Campolo and Brian McClaren have made important formulative contributions to my spiritual life. But (you just knew that word was coming) somewhere along the way for all three of you, and a couple of others (Doug Frank, etc.), the important poking of the prophet has become the sour grapes of a candidate for therapy who needs to work out your issues with your parents (the evangelical church, which brought you to the faith and is still the home for many of us by choice, in spite of its many faults) and just give it a freaking rest. I always read you (and I still do, always looking for that fresh insight you used to have) and then sit back and sigh at the deconstruction that just never ends, swearing I won’t read you again.

    Does the evangelical church need correction and prophets? Of course. But correcting my child has never been effective when my methodology involved throwing her under a bus.

    Moments of reflection are often compelled at surprising turns. During the Grammy awards, while the incomparable Adele sang, the camera panned the audience and we saw Lady Gaga watching her. And there was just something about her face that told me she had just become aware of something I (and others), listening to Adele, was thinking: your shtick is getting tiresome, Lady G.

    Tony, you have opened this door, and I thank you. You have meant the world to me for years, but I am tired and weary of what you are becoming. The gracious Christianity heralded by the new emergent church has long ago gone past, and now is reduced to bragging that you have pissed off Rick Warren.

    • I’m not bragging, Kelly.

      Rick Warren is quick to criticize other Christian leaders. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      Wanna know why I don’t criticize Joel Osteen on this blog? Because he never criticizes other Christian leaders.

      • toddh

        My favorite Joel Osteen quote was from about a year ago when someone asked him about a couple of blogosphere lightening rods: “Mohler? Driscoll? I don’t know who those people are.”

  • Jb

    Wanted to chime in again to say that all the folks who proclaim that the “Emergent church” is dead or has fizzled out or is flat, etc., has clearly missed what the Emergent church is/is not. Haven’t you written time and time again about these “Emergent church is dead” claims, Tony?

  • JTM

    Gotta say Tony….Justin above pretty much nailed it. You wanted to be on the evangelical portal here, and you were so happy about that, I assume because you wanted to actually have some readership. But for the most part, your drumbeat of negativity and criticism and complaint and whining and fault finding of everything evangelical only turns off and turns away a great many people on this portal. I wish you had a positive message, I wish you had some love and mercy and compassion and encouragement for evangelical church members, and pastors and leaders.

    I wish you had something inspiring to say. But it seems you don’t. I am a believer that one accomplishes much more by lighting a candle in the dark, than by jusr cursing the darkness. Yeah, its a clique, but one you should really think about.

    Fact is, Mr. Purpose Driven Life has done far far more…. helping far far more people…with far far more needs all around the world than you have ever even thought or dreamed of doing.

    A new focus that extends love, hope, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, grace, to the least of these, which for you would be fundys and evangelicals, whom you seem to so much despise…..but who are still bros and sisses in the Lord that is your growing edge. I hope you find it.

    • JTM, I didn’t ask to be on the evangelical portal because it would bring me traffic, and it hasn’t. I simply didn’t want to be categorized exclusively as a “progressive.”

      • JTM

        Why did/do you want to be categorized as an Evangelical? My guess, and correct me if I am wrong, is that you wanted/want to exploit the very group you criticize, in terms of hoping to sell more books and get more attention and get more speaking opps and business for your ministries/businesses, because there are alot more evangelicals out there than progressives of emergents or liberal or whatever.

        • ME

          One way to love your neighbor is to give him/her the benefit of the doubt until you have strong reason not to. Else, you are really accusing yourself. What has Tony done to make you think he’s a money whore?

    • mountainguy

      “A new focus that extends love, hope, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, grace, to the least of these, which for you would be fundys and evangelicals, whom you seem to so much despise…..but who are still bros and sisses in the Lord that is your growing edge. I hope you find it.”

      sweet lovely words that made sense until Rick Warren wanted to become Falwell with hawaian shirts. But perhaps he should be more concerned with the vile he has received from fundamentalists and so-called discerners like Ken Silva. Believe me, compared with them this post is full of love.

  • nathan

    People! sheeeeeeesh. My eyes just rolled so far back I can see the inside of my skull.

    Tony was obviously joking.
    He’s also said so a couple times in the comment thread.

    And thanks everyone whose “feedback” amounted to you finally offering your “therapeutic” insights into Tony’s psyche/motivations/work.

    It added to the humor of the initial post. Very funny.
    The only sad thing is how you weren’t actually attempting to be funny.
    Talk about being overly serious.

    Pretty much confirms that a lot of you church folk need to pull the poles out of your behinds AND how we need voices like T to remind you of said need.

    It was lovely how so many of you came out of your resentment closets. A rare moment of religious people being honest. Too bad you all missed the point.

    • Frank

      And sadly Tony continues to miss the point which is why he got the responses here. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

    • Nathan! Yes!

  • Kelly

    Sorry….I did not mean to offend, and I absolutely hate to miss a good joke. Apparently, in my post, I failed in both. The single post was not the issue, but rather a catalyst for the cumulative impact. Some of us are really trying…and weary at the same time.

    I apologize for any offense.

  • Rob

    To all those who totally missed the point and took the opportunity to lecture Tony in where he’s gone wrong…pleeease…talk about irony

    You guys just don’t get it do you, any of it….

    Thanks Tony for your ongoing good work.

    • Frank

      Actually it’s Tony and apparently you that have completely missed the point! No wonder no one really cares whats being said in your circle other than as inspiration to descontruct it and expose the fatal flaws.

      The real question is: will you learn anything from it? Time will tell.

      • Rob

        Hey, its Trollman again! Why do you bother Frank? Don’t you have anything better to do with your life than continue to spew inane drivel all over Tony’s blog?
        You’ve made it very clear time and again that your views are invariably diametrically opposed to Tony’s so why continue to bore us with them? People don’t come here to read you. Start your own blog and get your own followers.
        Tony, can’t you unsubscribe Frank from this blog? As you can see, reading his comments does nothing for my sanctification 🙂

        • Frank

          Charming! Of course it’s a predictable reaction. When you have nothing substantial to say… Attack! Thanks for proving how weak your position really is.

          • coryke

            Actually, I find this hilarious. The general critique of Tony in this thread (of which your comment seems to approve) is that he is negative and should stop with all the criticism of evangelical leaders.

            And then there’s you, Frank. Rob seems to be pointing out the irony of the critique here coming from you – someone who shows up, commenting on numerous points, invariably critiquing Tony and his position.

            Also, your critique of Rob above is as empty as you claim his comment is. But, never mind. Full steam ahead. Into the breach once more. Remember the Alamo.

            The irony is lovely.

          • Frank

            Yawn! Do you have anything substantial to say, will you actually leand something or will you just continue to miss the point?

  • david james

    Maybe the better question is: “Why was he following you in the first place?” =)
    I mean that as a compliment.

  • Tony, don’t worry, i’ll start following you, that should fill the void! 😉

  • Sean R.

    Wow. Judging from the comments feedback, I’d say Tony Jones finally jumped the shark.

  • Bill W

    Who are these clowns trying to tell Tony what he is to them and whether his vocation is valuable? Talk about egocentrism.

    Those who took this opportunity above to write their “honest,” emotive discoursive dismissal’s of Tony’s relevance are behaving like children, and only confirming that a critical but still Christian voice on the fringe is indeed still needed, and I’m grateful for it.

    As for the the “death” of the emergent church, the DNA of the emergent church itself is decentralized and non-hierarchical, as Tony and others have explained, so why after 5-10 year when the “newness” talk settles down would we expect to be seeing it in the way that we see hyper-organized, established institutional evangelical and mainline Christianity? This was never goal, and so it has not happened. As someone else said, the point has been missed. The “spiritual but not religious” will remain precisely that, which means the emergent church will continue to thrive in their midst, and unlike other churches, probably won’t explicitly bear the name of its descriptor “emergent” or take obvious shape. But new and growing signs of its flourishing are noticeable everywhere.

  • John

    I thought it was funny, but slightly creepy that you stalk your unfollowers.

  • Tim

    Just an observation, similar to how we analyze/discuss the “death of emergent”, I hope we also critique the attractional church/seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven/simple church/missional church models as well. The nobleness of many in all these approaches (including emergent) is the desire for a stronger church. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve learned just as much, if not more from Tony as I have from Rick. Let’s hear it for plurality! (I could go on but it’s not that type of post.)

    Anyway, I enjoyed the humor, some great comments. Actually LOL’d over Jonathan’s Christian reggae comment.

  • TJJ

    Well, I guess be careful what you post and for what you ask for…..you may get what you don’t expect, and clearly you did not expect the response you did get. God Bless.

  • Yes, Alex. I’ll take things Jesus said for $1,000. (sarcasm)

  • JPL

    Important thing I learned about non-Emergent Christians today by reading this thread: most are humorless, self-righteous, vindictive douche bags who’ll take any opportunity to kick at someone they disagree with.

    Important things I learned about Emergent Christians today by reading this thread: Most are smart, have a sense of humor, understand irony, and basically would be a lot better to hang around. Their one significant flaw seems to be an unwillingness to hit the ban hammer on people who basically just come here to throw stones.

    Once again, the clear reality that nothing makes Jesus look so bad as the people who claim to follow him most perfectly.

    • ME

      “Important thing I learned about non-Emergent Christians today by reading this thread: most are humorless, self-righteous, vindictive douche bags who’ll take any opportunity to kick at someone they disagree with.”

      Some may criticize you for painting with too broad a brush, but, not me, I think the fifty something comments in this thread indeed are enough evidence, and a large enough sample, to accurately label the majority of Christians as vindictive douchebags.

      • JPL

        Yes, you’ll know them by their love for each other. You’ll know them by their fruit. I wouldn’t honestly suppose that if we could round up all the Christians in history, the majority would suck as bad as some of these folk. But today particularly there does seems to be an enormous suckfest, particularly in certain Evangelicalish circles. Obviously it’s immensely ironic that they are quite picky about theories of Atonement, the nature of the Trinity, et. al. and yet demonstrate nothing like genuine love, kindness, or even basic courtesy. They tithe from their dill and rue or somesuch, and thus provide my weekly infusion of Schadenfreude.

        • Carl

          JPL, you might want to actually READ your Bible once, particularly focusing on some of the things that Jesus said. You never know, you might learn something. Like how verbally abusive he was against those who wanted to twist God’s words.

          • JPL

            Yep, when I think of Jesus, I think “Man, if only people were more verbally abusive, like him.” Like I said, it’s hilarious what some Christians focus on.

            As for your condescending nonsense, in front of me I have an ESV (in multiple versions), NRSV, KJV, NIV, and HCSB. And yes, I’ve read extensively in these, and many others, over decades of my life. And while it’s true that Jesus broke out such things as “brood of vipers” and “white-washed tombs”, he also said that he who so much as says “Thou fool” to a brother is in danger of hellfire. So I guess that’s a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or maybe, as I tend to think of it, he realized that when he did it, knowing the hearts of men, it was righteous. When we do it, it’s almost always nothing more than self-righteousness.

            Bottom line is that you’d have to be crazy to find anything winsome or attractive in the behaviors of many here, and certainly nothing even vaguely looking like “loving one another.”

            Nonetheless, since you seem to be really twisting God’s word to come up with these asinine arguments, and in the spirit of being more like Jesus, go fuck yourself.

            See, I learned verbal abusiveness from Jesus. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

          • Carl

            JPL, you would have hated the Apostle Paul (a mere man). He called down condemnation and even death on other professing Christians. And don’t even get me started on Elijah… yikes.

        • ME

          I’m sure you wouldn’t really suppose what you wrote. The hyperbole struck me as funny, though. As did all the Tony bashing over such an innocent post.

  • Simon

    I’m stunned by how nasty some people seem to have been in response to this (humorous) post… and I find it rather sad. You produce a very interesting and thought provoking blog – and you don’t/can’t force anyone to read it. I guess I’m quite muddled why people, who clearly find what you share so difficult and unhelpful, continue to read it. Surely it’s not in the hope that they will get a chance, every so often, to tell you what an awful job you’re doing???

    Why do we, who describe ourselves as Christians, seem to have to treat each other so badly. I find it incredibly sad.

    Thanks for your blog – I don’t agree with everything you write, as I’m sure you wouldn’t agree with everything I’d write (if I had a blog!), but I’m very grateful that you take the time to produce an informative and interesting blog. Thanks for all the times you’ve helped me to challenge my thoughts on issues. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly, and I’m sorry some people feel the need to use that as a weapon to attack you.

  • bec cranford

    he stopped following me long before I got kicked out of the Assemblies of God last year. Apparently I may have been a bit viceral in some reactions via social media. Oh, growing. Hey Tony, I am going to see if Benny Hinn might follow you. At least you will hear great hymns of key.
    Love you,
    Your once pink haired post-pentecostal

  • I just wanted to say why the progressive movement is relevant to me, more than the Purpose-Driven church (seems like a reasonable response to this post):

    It has taught me that purpose comes from catching a bigger vision than building a church (small “c”) or system of churches. In fact our church construction efforts can be a big distraction. Certainly the good things churches have done are really appreciated, and I still go to one and love the people there. But what’s the purpose?

    A more progressive view of purpose is that Jesus taught us to care about humankind in a way that the world becomes our “church”. Bring the kingdom of good things and good news to the entire Earth. Isn’t that the great commission? Out of our faith produce a better world, and help defeat injustice, poverty, hunger, exploitation, prejudice, fear, and every kind of evil. (Read the book of James for reference).

    People like Tony SHOULD speak out, because if it’s truth then SOMEBODY should be saying it. Also if it’s truth then some people will learn from it and contribute to a greater calling.

    Final question: would God rather be worshiped or followed? Progressive answer: followed.

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  • Derek

    Just remember… IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

  • Tony,
    This has been an interesting thread to say the least.
    Tonight, Rick Warren tweeted the following: “Couldn’t keep up with 18,000 onTwitter so I cut back to Pastors % my members.BUT I’ll follow YOU on LINKED IN if u invite me.”

    So. Looks like you made a joke. And everybody was right. And wrong.

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