Do Acts 29 Churches Share the Same DNA as the Mothership – Matt Chandler’s The Village Church?

"The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations."

Matt Chandler

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Acts_29.pngActs 29 Logo

Do you know the history of The Village Church (TVC) which, after the collapse of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church, has become the mothership of the Acts 29 Network? The Acts 29 website provides the following background information about Matt Chandler and his church:

 Matt serves as Lead Pastor of Teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas Fort Worth area. He has served in that role since December 2002 and describes his tenure at The Village as a re-planting effort where he was involved in changing the theological and philosophical culture of the congregation. The church has witnessed a tremendous response growing from 160 people to over 11,000 with campuses in Flower Mound, Dallas and Denton.

It's amazing how these Acts 29 churches like to boast about their numbers.  When we first started blogging (2009), we assumed all was well at Mars Hill Church, which was the original mothership for the Acts 29 network.  Unbeknownst to some, Mark Driscoll was not the sole founder of this church planting network.  David Nicholas, a seasoned pastor from Florida, played a vital role in the founding of Acts 29 in 1998.  As Mark Driscoll gained notoriety, it seemed inconceivable that the Mars Hill dynasty could collapse.  But in the sovereignty of God, that is exactly what happened late last year.

Getting back to the Acts 29 church planting network, I, along with my family, was involved in a church re-plant seven years ago.  Looking back at all that has happened, it seems like ages ago.  At the time I didn't know much, if anything, about Acts 29 or Mark Driscoll, but I trusted our church leadership.  So did most of the others in our rather small Southern Baptist congregation.  When the church was officially dissolved in order to make way for the 'new and improved' fellowship, a number of older members left.  It was sad to see them go, but we were thrilled about the prospect of revamping the church so that we could impact our community for Christ.

Once the deacons relinquished their responsibilities (after the church officially dissolved), the pastoral leaders began consulting with some key individuals most of whom had previously served as deacons.  They came up with a new church name as well as a mission statement.  One of the goals – to become a church-planting church – struck me as odd.  I had never heard this phrase before.  Our small congregation barely had the financial resources to support ourselves.  How in the world would we go about planting another church?  I justified in my mind that it must have been a long-term goal.

In the months that followed, I continued to be excited about our revamped fellowship.  A record crowd attended the Easter service.  During our Wednesday evening Bible studies, our pastors occasionally mentioned Acts 29 and Mark Driscoll.  Mark who?  Back in 2008 not that many in the conservative corner of Christendom knew anything about Mark Driscoll, including me. 

Then in the fall of 2008 something happened which prompted Dee and me to begin doing some digging on the internet.  We became alarmed about what we were discovering with regard to Neo-Calvinism, complementarianism, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), Sovereign Grace Ministries, the pushing of young marriages, among other topics.  We also stumbled upon Wade Burleson's blog and learned some disturbing things about the Southern Baptist Convention.

By January 2009 Dee and I were alarmed by what was going on in the Neo-Calvinist corner of Christendom.  My husband and I, along with others, gradually became concerned about the direction our church re-plant was taking.  To address our concerns, the pastors held a question and answer session prior to launching the new church.  One of the former deacons asked a question along these lines: "What will happen should a church member decide not to join a community group?"  One of the pastoral leaders responded:  "Then that member will be put under church discipline."  That was the last straw for my husband and me!  It is important to stress that we had been extremely active in our church prior to this Q&A session.  The gracelessness in that response was astounding!  A number of us pulled out at that juncture, and the church was finally replanted the following month.  While I don't believe this was an "official" Acts 29 replant, it was obviously inspired by Mark Driscoll and his church planting network.

Dee and I launched The Wartburg Watch a few weeks later and have never looked back.  For over six years we have diligently explored trends in Christendom — one of which is this church planting/replanting phenomenon. 

Some time ago we were contacted by a sister in Christ who shared an Acts 29 church replant horror story.  We published her testimony almost two years ago, and given what has recently taken place at The Village Church, we believe her story definitely bears repeating.  What follows are lengthy excerpts from the first two posts in the series.


Replanting Countryside Christian Church Acts 29 Style (link)

Allow me to introduce you to Becky, who hails from Indiana.  She attended Countryside Christian Church from the late 1990s until 2002 when her children wanted to participate in programs at another church.  Becky and her family returned to Countryside in 2006 and joined the church several years later.  A couple years after that Becky, her husband, and their children were 'perp walked' out of the church (more on that later).

Let's start at the beginning… 

Countryside Christian Church was established in Michigan City, Indiana over three decades ago by Rick Jones, who pastored the church until his retirement.  The church was built in two stages with the sanctuary and classrooms being constructed later.  For a number of years the congregation met on Sundays in the gym and demonstrated much prudence in managing its resources.  Everything was done with transparency and accountability.  Eventually, the church borrowed money to complete the construction.  The final result was a 1,400 seat sanctuary, multiple classrooms, a kitchen, gym, and outbuildings for the food pantry.  It was a beautiful facility and a haven for the community.

Countryside Christian Church grew to be a rather large congregation.  When the church was at its largest size, it held two services, and according to Becky weekly attendance ranged from 1,500 to 2,000. 

Countryside supported 12 to 15 missionaries for a long time and ministered to the community through its preschool program, a Celebrate Recovery program, and a food pantry. 

When the congregation needed to fill its worship leader position, it hired a younger man named Kevin Galloway.   Kevin had a liberal arts degree but no seminary training, and he worked as a police officer prior to accepting the position as worship leader.  Kevin’s appearance and demeanor were much cooler than his predecessors – he was a jean clad, guitar playing, soul patch kinda guy.  Kevin and Becky had an amicable relationship, and he appreciated her ministry of knitting hats and scarves for cancer patients.

In early 2008 Pastor Rick Jones retired after a long career.  His successor was Kevin Galloway.  Becky and her husband began attending a small group once Kevin became the senior lead pastor, and they decided to join the church. 

Not long after the leadership change, the congregation began to hear Pastor Galloway using terms like ‘relevance’.   He would tell the parishioners:  “We want to be relevant.”  Six to eight months after that, the congregation started hearing about an organization called Acts 29.  Initially, the older church members were tolerant of some of the changes; however, over time they began to feel marginalized.  The modus operandi of the church changed significantly.

Then in fairly short order, the cool dude pastor ‘canned’ the food pantry by shifting this ministry to other churches in the area.  Pastor Galloway encouraged all staff members to read books on Mark Driscoll’s booklist, some of which were secular books.  The two female staff members refused to read the secular books and in less than six months they were ushered out as quietly as possible.  The lady who operated the preschool that folded was one of the women who would not read the secular material.  Finally, Pastor Galloway forced out the individuals who were leading the Celebrate Recovery program.   At that point, lots of people left the church.   

As these established ministries were being axed, Pastor Galloway (and the church leaders) made strides to plant a church in Valparaiso, Indiana, which was 20 minutes from Countryside.  Interestingly, Valparaiso is an affluent area of the state and also a college town.  The Acts 29 Network requires all its member churches to plant churches.   

During the church planting phase, money was flowing out of the church coffers at an alarmingly rate.  Countryside, which at one time had thousands of dollars in savings, was scraping to get by.  Church members were told they had to tithe.  Where were all those contributions going?  They were being spent on:

– Large pastor salaries

– Health and disability insurance for pastors

– Large cell phone bills

– Whole Life insurance for two pastors at $840/month each

– Expenditures and gas money to plant the new church

The leaders did not say anything about the mounting expenses.   As money got tight, a deacon’s wife said something to Becky about the pastor possibly using church funds inappropriately.  Becky made a request for financial information, and the church secretary handed her a large packet including copies of credit card statements.  One item that caught Becky’s eye was a $250 charge to Nordstrom.  Apparently, the pastor was on a trip to meet Mark Driscoll and had to make a clothing purchase because there was some problem with his luggage (or whatever!)   Becky does not know whether the church was ever reimbursed for that personal expense.  There were other unusual charges on the credit card statement like $288.69 for a pastors' outing to Binny’s Beverage Depot (a liquor store)

In just a few years, Pastor Galloway ran the church into the ground.  The bottom line was that the church had racked up charges on its credit card well over $10,000 (at a 17 percent interest), and the church was only able to pay the minimum balance each month.  Countryside was in dire straits under Pastor’s Galloway’s leadership.

Becky began discussing the church's financial debacle with other congregants and made some negative statements on Facebook about the state of the church like “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid".  Someone in the church spied on church members' Facebook accounts.  If a parishioner said something the leaders didn’t like, s(he) was called in for a meeting and berated.

After three disciplinary meetings, Becky and her husband were informed that they were not allowed to come back to the church.  The following Wednesday, Becky's husband took their children to the evening activities and was rebuked.  "What are you doing here?" was one of the questions he was asked.  The following Sunday, March 27, 2011, Becky and her family decided to attend church anyway and were sitting in the balcony when they were spotted.

After 20 minutes, church leaders approached Becky and her husband and told them that if they did not leave the cops would be called.  They remained seated.  On the left side of the balcony sat an off duty police officer who came over and said if they did not leave immediately he would call the police on duty.  Then he escorted them out of the church and told them to never return.  Becky and her husband have a handicapped child who was 15 or 16 years old at the time; however, his mental capacity is that of an 8 or 9 year old.  He is not retarded but has a special handicap and can only understand things at a 9 year old level.  He was sitting with his family when they were thrown out of the church, and it was extremely upsetting to him.  He was crying and very distressed because of what happened. 

It is certainly worth noting that at no time did Pastor Kevin Galloway meet with Becky so that she could share her concerns. 


Is This Church Discipline Acts 29 Style??? (link)

So what are the rules according to Acts 29 churches, and just who gets to determine them?  Becky, who provided this testimony, had no idea that raising legitimate questions and concerns would result in church discipline.

As a follow-up to Becky's story, we want to share with our readers the correspondence she and her husband Brian received from the elders of Countryside Church.  Do all Acts 29 churches carry out church discipline in this manner?

To:         Brian and Becky ______

From:   The Eldership of Countryside Church

March 16, 2011

The purpose of this letter is to formally communicate that you are no longer considered members of Countryside Church and that members of Countryside Church will be asked to remove any fellowship with you.

You have been called to repentance by the eldership and in following Christ's instructions in Matthew 18:15-20, you are now considered to be outside of our fellowship because of your refusal to repent.

We pray that God will grant you repentance.  Becky, we pray that you would repent of gossip, slander, deception, lying, failing to submit to your husband and failing to submit to your church leaders.  Brian we pray that you would repent of failure to submit to God's Word by failing to lead your wife by continuing to ignore her unrepentant sin in your relationship and home.

This warning and call to repentance has been discussed with you at length through the declaration of scripture and the call to obey God's Word.  You have denied its power and remained in sin.  It grieves us to remove you from our fellowship, but we must obey God's Word and leading.

We would take great joy in welcoming you back to Countryside Church if God should grant you repentance in these matters.

Sincerely,

The Elders of Countryside Church

About a week later the following was sent to the Countryside Community. 

To:        Countryside Christian Community

From:   The Eldership of Countryside Church

RE:  Church discipline and warning to congregation

March 24, 2011

Dear Countryside Community,

The purpose of this letter is to formally communicate that the eldership has notified Brian and Becky ______ that they are no longer considered members of Countryside Church and that the members of Countryside Church will be asked to remove any fellowship with them.

Brian and Becky have been called to repentance by the eldership and in following Christ's instructions in Matthew 18:15-20, they are now considered to be outside of our fellowship because of their refusal to repent.

We pray that God will grant them repentance.  Becky has refused to repent of gossip, slander, deception, lying, failing to submit to her husband and failing to submit to church leadership.  Brian has refused to repent of failing to submit to God's Word by failing to lead his wife by continuing to ignore her unrepentant sin in their relationship, home, and in the church.

This warning and call to repentance has been discussed with Brian and Becky at length through the declaration of scripture and the call to obey God's Word.  They have denied its power and remain in sin.  It grieves us to remove them from our fellowship, but we must obey God's Word and leading.

We would take great joy in welcoming them back to our fellowship at Countryside Church if God should grant them repentance in these matters. 

We warn you, the church, to not fellowship with, nor listen to the continued lies, gossip, and slander that come from Brian and/or Becky.  This sin has harmed many souls and is contrary to the teaching of God's Word.  May our refusal of fellowship honor God through obedience and may God use this obedience in granting and leading this family to repentance.

To the Glory of God,

The Elders of Countryside Church

To the glory of God???  Can you believe this WARNING from the church elders: 

We warn you, the church, to not fellowship with, nor listen to the continued lies, gossip, and slander that come from Brian and/or Becky. 

Furthermore, can you imagine that elders in Acts 29 churches have this kind of control over parishioners?  How frightening!  What's worse, this is a divide and conquer strategy.  If the elders can prevent those attending the church from having contact with those who have left, they can keep those who remain in the dark and under the pastors' authoritah (link).

I have spoken with Becky on several occasions and have found her to be articulate, sincere, and deeply concerned about what is going on in the Acts 29 Network.  After reading the above correspondence from the Countryside elders, I am equally concerned.  As she shared in her testimony, Pastor Kevin Galloway never once met with her to listen to her concerns.  


Here are links to the entire series on Countryside.  We hope you will take the time to read all of these posts because we believe you will see a pattern in how Acts 29 pastors treat members who fail to toe the line. 

Replanting Countryside Acts 29 Style: A Personal Testimony

Is This Church Discipline Acts 29 Style?

Countryside Defaults: Where Is the Acts 29 Leadership in These Situations?

WWCNC: Could Theological Dishonesty Have Contributed to the Downfall at Countryside?

Christ Church – Its Locale and Its Leadership

Countryside/Christ Church: A Case Study in a Church Replanting Failure


In the wake of The Village Church debacle, we are beginning to hear other horrendous accounts of how some members are treated.  Amy Smith recently published some of them here.  These accounts are truly upsetting!  The following comment left under this WatchKeep post seems to indicate that Acts 29 churches do have an inherent DNA that originated with Mark Driscoll.

Anonymous Anonymous said…
I just want to strongly affirm Story #5.

I come from an Acts 29 background, and I want to point out that the three main dysfunctional behaviors shared in Story #5 are indicative of Acts 29 in general. They are absolutely NOT limited to TVC. They are, rather, a product of the inherent "DNA" of Acts 29, as designed and created by Mark Driscoll.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

As I remember back to the replanting process that occurred at my former church, the term "DNA" was often mentioned favorably.  It certainly seems to be part of the Acts 29 lingo. 

Now that some involved in Acts 29 churches have FINALLY broken the barrier of silence, we believe others will be coming forward with their shocking testimonies.  We suspect that there will be much commonality in these accounts, which we believe will further demonstrate that Acts 29 churches do indeed share the same DNA as the mothership.  Obviously, Matt Chandler, President of Acts 29, leads by example at The Village Church.  Does anyone doubt that Acts 29 pastors must follow protocol in order to be part of the network?

Here is Matt Chandler sharing his excitement about Acts 29.

We're just getting started with our examination of the Acts 29 church planting network as it exists today.  In our upcoming post we are going to take a closer look at the trend of planting/replanting churches, and we will be discussing a fascinating article that has just been published in the June issue of Christianity Today. 

After what happened to Mars Hill Church and Countryside Christian Church, one has to question whether it is indeed wise to consult the Acts 29 church planting gurus…

Comments

Do Acts 29 Churches Share the Same DNA as the Mothership – Matt Chandler’s The Village Church? — 373 Comments

  1. oh boy. It would be awesome if A29 churches had the wisdom to learn from all that is going on, but I suspect they will simply dig in their heels further…What’s sad is when the fame of an organization is elevated over the only King.

  2. There is NOTHING biblical or CHRISTIAN about TVC nor about any Acts 29 church that I can discover.

  3. I think we should all take Acts 29 folks at their word…literally.

    Specifically, Acts 29 is UNBIBLICAL because I can’t find it in ANY of the bibles I have.

    They are as unbiblical as Acts 29.

    They are ‘adding’ a chapter to God’s Word.

    18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
    19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. – Revelation 22:18-19

  4. This exponential church planting scheme is a Ponzi scheme. Eventually you’ll run out of suckers, er, converts. For the latecomer church plants, the pool of potential church members will be so depleted, desperate measures will be needed to suck them in, I mean convert them. The driving force behind church planting will be fear of being drummed out of the Acts 29 organization, since a distinctive is that all member churches plant a church. How can the inevitable rivalry among churches and failure of the system not be evident?

  5. Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away. Not necessarily the people but the organizations…, including Leadership Network and anything with their fingerprints.

  6. I got my second post up about TVC’s letter of apology. I broke it down and analyzed it. If you guys want to read it is below.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/the-village-churchs-letter-of-apology-to-karen-hinkley-part-2-an-analysis-of-the-apology-and-how-it-falls-short/

    Its funny I actually wrote that if Matt Chandler really wanted to do some serious and deep repenting he could go to Michigan City, Indiana and meet with Becki Lynn and other members of Countryside and he can repent for what the Acts 29 network did to Countryside and Becki Lynn’s family. Who the %$^# perp walks a handicapped child out of a church? (Grrrrrrrr….)

  7. One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. 😛 You know you leave TVC and TVC sends out a team to hunt you down.

  8. I still laugh when I think of the plundering and looting of a church. The fundagelcial equivalent to Hurricane Katrina looting all within the relatively short distance of Chicago. LOL

    Having been to Dee’s house I can imagine her sitting at her kitchen table choking on coffee as she was writing that, with TULIP or Lily at her feet. LOL

  9. Q wrote:

    Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away. Not necessarily the people but the organizations…, including Leadership Network and anything with their fingerprints.

    Well at least while they are in these organizations people know where they are, kind of.

    They need to go away!

  10. Eagle wrote:

    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

    This is along the lines of what was behind my thinking when I used the term “indentured parishioners” to describe legal-contract covenant members of churches, as it seems, in effect, a modified form of slavery. And later I wondered if such contracts turned covenant members into official agents of the corporation/plantation. Insidious.

  11. @ brad/futuristguy:

    You know Brad in college and grad school I was up to my eye balls studying history. American, European, Communist theory, fascism in Europe, etc… Who ever thought that some of this would apply to the theological landscape today? I mean reading about how Communism works and the principles or power behind it apply to some of what is happening in Acts 29, Mars Hill Seattle, SGM, etc… It just stuns me.

  12. Eagle wrote:

    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. You know you leave TVC and TVC sends out a team to hunt you down.

    You know, Eagle, I have pondered the same idea for many months. And I also concluded that The Wartburg Watch is an “underground railroad” for those of escaping.

  13. Eagle wrote:

    Its funny I actually wrote that if Matt Chandler really wanted to do some serious and deep repenting he could go to Michigan City, Indiana and meet with Becki Lynn and other members of Countryside and he can repent for what the Acts 29 network did to Countryside and Becki Lynn’s family. Who the %$^# perp walks a handicapped child out of a church? (Grrrrrrrr….)

    Yes, it’s terrible what was done to this family. But if the church has already warned them not to come, and the leaders have shown themselves to be such hateful people, it’s best to see the writing on the wall and keep your entire family safe.

  14. “Do Acts 29 Churches Share the Same DNA as the Mothership?”

    Yes. The Driscollian strain of DNA

  15. Form follows function. I really believe this. There are only two type of toilets in the world. And no one has yet to my knowledge invented a better mouse trap. The other side of the coin is that you can look at what it does and get a good idea of what it was intended to do. You can “double down” on the form, as TVC did, but that only confirms that the end result is what the form was intended to produce. Obedience, submission, pain, power, and control.

  16. I just watch one of my favorite movies yesterday. Key Largo. In it, Johnny Rocco, an exiled murderous crime king-pin is making his way back to the United States, to set up shop again, only this time even better. At least with churches once the kingpin is exposed, he’ll never be given another church again.

    By the way, what’s Mark Driscoll and his copyrighted “Mars Hill” doing these days.

  17. Anon wrote:

    “Do Acts 29 Churches Share the Same DNA as the Mothership?”
    Yes. The Driscollian strain of DNA

    It is the BAD seed, the gene that produces the defect that is present at birth and becomes the disabling incurable disease if not removed. BTW, there is a strain of theological thought that says that the proper term is not “reformed” but “reforming”, as not a state but an ongoing process never completed until the end of time.

  18. This stuff is unbelievable! What part of Luke 22:24-27 do they not get!? We are told by our one, true leader that we are not to ‘lord it over’ our brothers and sisters and yet story after story of this exact behaviour emerges daily.

  19. One of the goals – to become a church-planting church – struck me as odd.

    There does seem to be an obsession with church planting. The PCA pastor I have talked about here before, was talking about planting a church when his own congregation was literally only 5 families/30 people. It was very bizarre.

  20. When I was looking for a church three years ago, I was looking for a Reformed church. I didn’t know anything about Mark Driscoll and really the best options in the area looked like Acts 29 or PCA. From a web investigation the Acts 29 looked better, until I came across TWW. This site convinced me to avoid Acts 29, so I tried out the PCA church and have never looked back.

  21. @ Janet:

    I had never thought of church planting in quite that way. It does appear that when an Acts 29 church sets up shop they attract people from other churches. I think it's called 'sheep stealing'. 😉

  22. Eagle wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:
    You know Brad in college and grad school I was up to my eye balls studying history. American, European, Communist theory, fascism in Europe, etc… Who ever thought that some of this would apply to the theological landscape today? I mean reading about how Communism works and the principles or power behind it apply to some of what is happening in Acts 29, Mars Hill Seattle, SGM, etc… It just stuns me.

    I am glad you went there….my undergrad is in poly-sci and I was thinking the same thing….

  23. The question I have is how can someone know they are visiting an Acts 29 church or Acts 29 neighborhood bible study? It is not always so obvious unless you are informed about that world.

    Here is a place to start:

    http://www.acts29network.org/find-churches/

    The big Acts 29 plant in my area, Sojourn, started their own church planting network with help from the SBC. It has Driscoll DNA all over it. And even employs some former Mars Hill pastors and staffers. I still cannot understand how they can afford such a huge staff.

  24. Q wrote:

    Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away. Not necessarily the people but the organizations…, including Leadership Network and anything with their fingerprints.

    I agree.

    I have watched church plants in Minneapolis who associate with them. The thing that stands out is the authoritarian aura. The “Lead” pastor is overbearing, rude, obnoxious, and sounds vaguely like Mark Driscoll. They don’t necessarily preach the same doctrine, but the peripheral teachings are all there. Some of them just take his sermons and re-warm them. There is one that has damaged dozens of families and has been exposed for its ruination.

  25. There were several things that really struck me about this post that have happened to me personally. At my former church, we had one pastor who overused the word “Relevent.” After some time, I realized that one could replace “Relevent” with “cool” or “trendy” and get the same meaning. Of course this was always proof texted with Paul’s, “I have become all things to all men so that I may by all means win some.” But Paul was talking about pedigree and education, not clothing and music trends. Later when I was on the board of trustees, we noticed that this same pastor was overspending on his church credit card. Big time. When we tried to reel it in, he went ballistic, reminding us that HE was the pastor and leader. As the church progressed, many of the older core members began to feel ostracized. My wife and I finally officially left the church on as good of terms as possible. When we came back a cole months later for a special service in which a friend’s child was taking part, the pastor said to us, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!”

    My worst fault is that my sense of loyalty clouded my sense of what is proper in the church. I think there are so many people just like me out there. Not looking for a fight. Assuming the best about their pastor even if he has a pattern of shady habits. I see them commenting here sometimes in defense of Mark Driscoll or now Matt Chandler. I think they are really loathe to believe what is obvious is really true. I know I look back on myself and say, “what a sucker to have let it go on for so long!” But for those like me, I say, stop. Take a look at the facts. Take a close look at your sense of loyalty. Remember loyalty is not a fruit of the Spirit, not a spiritual gift.

  26. Hester wrote:

    One of the goals – to become a church-planting church – struck me as odd.
    There does seem to be an obsession with church planting. The PCA pastor I have talked about here before, was talking about planting a church when his own congregation was literally only 5 families/30 people. It was very bizarre.

    They are little kings and want to build their own empire.

  27. @ Living Liminal:

    Here's how I see it… These stories were never supposed to get out. I guess these abusive leaders thought those whom they 'disciplined' would just crawl under a rock.

    Instead, some of them have reached out to bloggers. 😉

    Best move they ever made as they work through the healing process.

  28. Melody wrote:

    oh boy. It would be awesome if A29 churches had the wisdom to learn from all that is going on, but I suspect they will simply dig in their heels further…

    Double down and SCREAM LOUDER!
    In the Arrogance of Utter Righteousness.

  29. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    They are little kings and want to build their own empire.

    And when there’s more than one Little King with more than one growing Empire?
    The Universe cannot have two centers, and the Iron Throne has room for only one.

  30. @ K.D.:

    I came to view European church history as power politics using religion to either rally the troops or keep people oppressed. It seems to me one cannot really separate European church history from political/social/economic history.

  31. Finally got a chance to compile thoughts/comments from the multiple related threads over the week…

    1- I have no problem with strong membership expectations/contracts……BUT they must be always voluntary. Having a high bar for Church membership can be a good thing. Where these Churches go off the rails is the coercion. Jesus never forced anyone to do anything. He invited you to participate. If you didn’t participate(whether because of sin or other reasons) he didn’t run you down and harass you. I would be ok with the entirety of TVC’s membership contract IF, and ONLY IF, they added that an individual could respond to their conscience whether or not the Elders agreed with them.

    2- Things can be good in theory(membership contracts) but dangerous in implementation. My wife has always joked that she is at heart a communist. She loves the idea of complete societal support and sharing of resources. BUT she knows that the structure of communism allows for being easily abused by central powers with their own imperfections/sins. In the same way, I love the idea of a strong membership contract. But recognize that it is virtually impossible to implement it effectively due to imperfect people. It gives too much power to people who will never, on this side of heaven, be perfect. Therefore, abuse of the power becomes inevitable.

    3- This leads me to have some grace towards the leaders of churches like this. But pragmatically so. As a pastor I desperately want to see mature and maturing believers who are sold out for reaching the lost and growing in Grace. If someone told me “here is a surefire way to achieve that” coupled with stats that seemed to back up their claim(ie, church grew 100% a year for years) I could be convinced to jump on board. The problem is if just being personally holy enough and praying enough kept me from being imperfect and imperfectly implementing a program/system—-I wouldn’t need the cross…..And since I know I need the cross, I know others need the cross…and therefore, implementing a system that is dependant upon my perfection is a terrible idea….

    4- Church planting is a very good thing. I think MORE churches should have a heart to reach people outside of their immediate geographic foot print. And studies show that in a given area that nothing is more effective at reaching the lost than a new church. BUT what I observe from young church planters is church planting next door to a healthy church in a wealthy community. Few are going to underchurched and POOR areas to do so. Apparently Jesus only calls us to plant churches in affluent suburbs where everyone looks like us……Having a supporting and planting church already in a good area that utilizes their resources to plant churches in poorer areas is fantastic. More need to do that than what we observe.

  32. Hester wrote:

    One of the goals – to become a church-planting church – struck me as odd.

    There does seem to be an obsession with church planting. The PCA pastor I have talked about here before, was talking about planting a church when his own congregation was literally only 5 families/30 people. It was very bizarre.

    Growth for the sake of Growth — the philosophy of the cancer cell.

    And in a Pyramid scheme (Hello, Amway!), you have to keep multiplying downlines so the upline and rise to the top of the list. The more downlines you have, the higher the upline rises.

  33. @ Deb:
    Deb wrote:

    Here’s how I see it… These stories were never supposed to get out. I guess these abusive leaders thought those whom they ‘disciplined’ would just crawl under a rock.
    Instead, some of them have reached out to bloggers.
    Best move they ever made as they work through the healing process.

    Definitely the best move I ever made! Thanks to Deebs, Eagle, and all the other brave souls.

  34. Adam Borsay wrote:

    BUT what I observe from young church planters is church planting next door to a healthy church in a wealthy community. Few are going to underchurched and POOR areas to do so. Apparently Jesus only calls us to plant churches in affluent suburbs where everyone looks like us……

    …and where the REAL money is.

  35. Adam Borsay wrote:

    And studies show that in a given area that nothing is more effective at reaching the lost than a new church

    I have been trying to figure this out for many years. I fear the “lost” are most often defined by church planters as those who don’t attend church at all or those who don’t attend regularly and those who are in the wrong kind of churches. At least that has been my experience over a long period of time with this language and the marketing strategies attached to them.

    What seems to be changing is this idea that believers have to attend what is commonly defined as church or they are not real believers.

  36. Q wrote:

    Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away

    What I find interesting is that Matt Chandler was presented as the face of a kinder Christianity. Yet, during his tenure, he has allowed these ridiculous examples of discipline to happen under his watch. i have to believe that he is encouraging it.

  37. Having come out of and survived SGM, all of this A29 mess sounds like:

    “second verse, same as the first; a little bit louder, a little bit worse.”

    There’s nothing new under the sun.

  38. Michaela wrote:

    “underground railroad” for those of escaping.

    I really laughed about this. I got an email from someone who goes to one of the churches we have written about. He says he likes it but he will never sign the membership contract. Now that is one wise individual.

  39. Flicker wrote:

    By the way, what’s Mark Driscoll and his copyrighted “Mars Hill” doing these days.

    Regrouping. If TVC is any example of how the nicer face of Christianity functions, I do not hold out much hope for them as well.

  40. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Having a high bar for Church membership can be a good thing.

    Do you think that TVC showed a high bar for church membership in going after Karen? Let me add to the scenario. Do you think that the high bar on forcing someone to return to a “pedophile” is a high bar-meaning that it is a good thing and demonstrated “serious” faith?

    I know you added the out for rights of conscience. But, should they have attempted to get her to return to the kiddie porn abuser to begin with?

  41. @ dee:

    But the question is, will they allow that? Remember when we heard from someone who had been attending a Neo-Cal church for several months and was basically told: "If you aren't going to join, you need to leave."

  42. dee wrote:

    But, should they have attempted to get her to return to the kiddie porn abuser to begin with?

    I have read comments in the blogosphere by some who absolutely believe Karen should remain in that sham of a marriage.

  43. Deb wrote:

    dee wrote: But, should they have attempted to get her to return to the kiddie porn abuser to begin with? I have read comments in the blogosphere by some who absolutely believe Karen should remain in that sham of a marriage.

    That makes me absolutely sick. When my mother went to her Presbyterian Pastor in 1979 and asked for counseling for her alcoholic, abusive, husband, he said stay with him and submit. If I had heard that today, I would have been all over his sorry a## (ed.).

  44. Deb wrote:

    @ dee:

    But the question is, will they allow that? Remember when we heard from someone who had been attending a Neo-Cal church for several months and was basically told: “If you aren’t going to join, you need to leave.”

    I visited a church here in Minneapolis, and the pastor told me “If you don’t join a small group, we will not let you join.” Talk about control freak.

  45. Deb wrote:

    I have read comments in the blogosphere by some who absolutely believe Karen should remain in that sham of a marriage.

    This is an example of poor biblical understanding.

  46. “Furthermore, can you imagine that elders in Acts 29 churches have this kind of control over parishioners? How frightening!”

    They have the control because the parishioners give them control. Many years ago I had a discussion with a woman who attended a pentecostal church. She was well educated and had a very responsible career in a health profession. I was told by other Christians that her particular church was a cult. She was also told that her church was a cult.

    The church micromanaged her personal life. Decisions had to be cleared by the pastor or his wife. They used the “covering” verses in the bible for control. In fact, I had to be vetted by both the pastor and his wife. Apparently, I was some kind of rebel that was questioning their system. Yes, it was frightening. I saw two people who had ice water in their veins. Yes, it was some kind of cult, but I never could understand why an educated person who can think would put up with such abuse.

  47. Lydia wrote:

    I came to view European church history as power politics using religion to either rally the troops

    We are not too far from that sort of thinking these days.

  48. Eagle wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:
    You know Brad in college and grad school I was up to my eye balls studying history. American, European, Communist theory, fascism in Europe, etc… Who ever thought that some of this would apply to the theological landscape today? I mean reading about how Communism works and the principles or power behind it apply to some of what is happening in Acts 29, Mars Hill Seattle, SGM, etc… It just stuns me.

    Look at how many of us have backgrounds in studies of American-European-world history, political systems, dystopian fiction, church history,

    I was accepted into a political science master’s program in international affairs, with a concentration in Sino-Soviet studies. Didn’t work out, but I spent at least 5 years studying the structures of communism, Christianity in closed countries, and the existence of “parallel cultural” systems in totalitarian states. Add to that ongoing studies in the Holocaust, 2 years studying apartheid, and then the last 7 years doing research writing on systems of spiritual abuse … well … once the paradigms of totalist control systems are on your radar, they don’t suddenly disappear.

    And it’s not “confirmation bias” — where we see control issues everywhere simply because that’s what’s on our radar from our studies. Confirmation bias wouldn’t explain why so many people with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are showing up on site and in the wake of totalist systems — including certain kinds of churches and their extended networks with similar theology and ecclesiology. Have to come up with an alternative explanation for these people with PTSD, in churches for instance, if it isn’t from spiritual abuse.

    Anyway, it all ties together. Look at what Robert Jay Lifton, considered the grandfather of the discipline of trauma psychology, has written about in his very long academic career: the Holocaust, Nazi medical experiments, the aftermath of the bomb in Hiroshima, brainwashing and totalitarianism in the Chinese cultural revolution, stress and trauma among therapists working with clients in Central Europe/former EEU bloc in the post-soviet era, PTSD.

    Abuse of power can be inflicted by malicious people, but also through systems. And one of the redemptive things I truly hope will come out of all these horrific situations of spiritual abuse is a new system for evaluating what constitutes a “trustworthy” versus a “toxic” organizational system, and even an external audit and certification system for equipping organizations for intervening and changing problems in their current systems, and for preventing problems in the future. And, uhh, let’s make it a non-membership approach so ongoing fees and posterministry promotions don’t create an inherent conflict of interest, as it has with ECFA/Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, in my opinion.

  49. If the Acts 29 DNA is Driscollian DNA, then the genome contains many, many genes that are defective. And as gene therapy is, at best, a science frontier with limited success rates, the defects will be passed down from generation of plants to generation of plants, ad infinitum. Animal breeders know that you have to stop the breeding of some lines of animals in order to not have the defective gene continue to spread in the herd to the eventual downgrading of the herd. Stopping the planting of more Acts 29 churches is the necessart to the health of evangelical Christianity.

    Just look at how the SBC is morphing, in part due to the influence of Acts 29.

  50. @ K.D.:

    I have several essays in the works now to include dealing with fundamentalism at a funeral in Montana and some more reflections on atheism. But one of the things I was thinking about come due to a comment by Bill M on how John Piper chose to ignore what is happening in SGM because of his commitment to the ideology of Calvinism.

    I’m thinking of doing an essay on the history of Pol Pot and the Cambodian “Killing Fields” and what happened when a person is committed to doctrine alone at any cost. I would love to compare and contrast that with John Piper’s behavior in supporting CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll at any cost. Think of it as a version of the “theological killing fields” of the Neo-Reformed.

    But I have a number of things on the plate ahead of it. Good God! 61 posts and I feel like I am going to explode because of all the fundagelicalism that I experienced. 😛

  51. Jen wrote:

    Having come out of and survived SGM, all of this A29 mess sounds like:
    “second verse, same as the first; a little bit louder, a little bit worse.”

    Interesting. At summer camp, the version I heard was: “..a little bit louder, and a WHOLE LOT worse.” Which might be more apt, in this case.

  52. Joe2 wrote:

    In fact, I had to be vetted by both the pastor and his wife.

    LOl!! Trying to meet the pastor and the church? Or are you applying for a job at the CIA or NSA? 😛

  53. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Having a supporting and planting church already in a good area that utilizes their resources to plant churches in poorer areas is fantastic. More need to do that than what we observe.

    That is the way that church planting used to be done in the SBC. A sponsoring church worked with the local association to plant churches in underserved or poor communities. Now, however, the money is centralized and that big pot of money is very attractive to people who want to use other people’s resources to push their own agenda. Acts29 gets money from the SBC to plant their churches, but I can guarantee that this is not publicized to the pewpeons.

  54. From the OP:

    We warn you, the church, to not fellowship with, nor listen to the continued lies, gossip, and slander that come from Brian and/or Becky. This sin has harmed many souls and is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. May our refusal of fellowship honor God through obedience and may God use this obedience in granting and leading this family to repentance.

    Apart from all the Christianese terms, it sounds like it might have come from the pen of an “ethics officer” in the Co$, telling members to disconnect with someone out of favour. In fact, if it were written using Hubbard-speak, it would probably look like this:

    “We warn you, our members, not to get in comm with, nor listen to the continued entheta, out-tech and natter that come from Brian and/or Becky. Their out-ethics have harmed the cases of many, and is contrary to the writings of LRH. May our disconnection from them, in accordance with the tech, lead this family of SPs to do their A to E steps soon.”

    I assure you, this has almost exactly the same meaning as Countryside’s drivel. And, just as in Scientology, this shunning has exactly the purpose that Deb pointed out above: to control how much information the members get from outside the bubble, and to either coerce the family into obedience, or cow them into silence and obscurity.

    And, just as in Scientology, it’s not working quite so well anymore.

    “May our refusal of fellowship honor God”, you say? Never in a million years, Countryside. Bullying and cult-like behaviour don’t bring Him honour, and never will.

  55. I believe Lydia posted this question and statement above.

    The question I have is how can someone know they are visiting an Acts 29 church or Acts 29 neighborhood bible study? It is not always so obvious unless you are informed about that world.

    In my case (along with my husband), there were many reasons why we ended up at an Acts29 church in the DFW area (not TVC). I can honestly tell you at that point of attending (over 3 years ago), I had never heard of Acts29/Calvinism/Comp etc. I was raised in the FUMC. I was introduced to the Baptist vane of Christianity during college and upon moving to Texas 11 years ago, continued in that vane. Actually, when I married my husband 10 years ago, we were attending a “non-denominational” church in DFW since he was already a member. This church was loosely affiliated with the SBC. Interestingly enough to me, I never became an official member at the church. I suppose I did by proxy of being married to my husband. They did not have any such member contract that we’re seeing today.
    3 years ago, during a marital crisis of our own, my husband and I found different places to worship. Ultimately what brought us to this Acts29 church (the one I mentioned that we began attending 3 years ago) was this marital crisis. Neither of us did any due diligence in researching the church. My husband found it first due to his daughter recommending it. She was a high schooler at the time, and the main pastor at this new Acts29 plant was a previous youth pastor at a Baptist church. He had baptized our daughter. He was very affable, especially among the youth crowd (many of which are in their young twenties now and prime candidate members for Acts29). My husband attended and loved the young atmosphere (he was 43 y.o then), the vibe, the worship music (music really speaks to him). And the sermon he happened upon was of course preaching on the roles of husbands and wives. I think it convicted him and also allowed him to convict me vis a vis “that’s what the Word says” (if that makes sense).
    I’m a researcher and no matter if it’s a loaf of bread I’m purchasing or large, weighty matters like those spiritual in nature, I dig around to make as educated a decision that I can. My guard was down 3 years ago. I didn’t do research on this particular church mostly due to the marital crisis we were healing from. I also confess, as I look back, I was at a point where if it claimed to be a church, it was a church. Right? It was a good place to worship. Clearly it wasn’t FUMC, Catholic, Episc., PCA etc. Those were obvious denominations that at the time, I confess to you all I was highly judgmental of. I would never set foot back in a traditional denomination again, so I thought.
    As Lydia said, it is not always so obvious unless you are informed about that world. I agree. I also think this is highly likely for the majority of people attending Acts29 churches. At least, up to this point in time. Much has been made public now between the Mars Hill/Driscoll fiasco and now TVC/Chandler.
    There were so many red flags while attending this Acts29 church. We never became official members. That didn’t set well with me, especially the long and windy “covenant.” I was not comfortable with the push to exclusively use the ESV Bible. I was not comfortable with the push to buy and read this person or that person’s new and exciting book (mostly male authors). I was most certainly not comfortable when it was mentioned in home group that some people are pre-destined to hell because God. That was not what I understood God’s desire to be – that all would have eternal life. I was uncomfortable with the obvious Christianese (a term I wasn’t familiar with at the time). The “speaking into your life” and “loving you well” types of phrases. I was ultimately uncomfortable with the constant reminder of our deprivation and sinful nature. Jesus said “it is finished” for a reason. Coming out of a very depraved situation in my marriage, brought about by my own doing, I didn’t need to be constantly crucified. I didn’t need to be crucified at all because Jesus took that on for me.
    I listened to Janet Mefferd quite a bit when I could, when she was on the air. The Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill situation was an eye opener for me (or the final nail in the coffin so to speak). Deep in my bones, I knew in my knowing there was a deep rooted issue not just with Mars Hill/Driscoll but with Acts29. It bled over (DNA) into the very group he started and which is now continued by Chandler/TVC. It didn’t take me long to do the research I should’ve done at the very beginning of attending this church. My research brought me to TWW. I’m thankful for not only the posts the Deebs have written, but for the comments each of you have written. I think I’ve read them all.
    I abruptly left this Acts29 church over a year ago. Although we were tithers, we were not official members. Perhaps that is why leaving was effortless. In fact, not one single person (male or female) ever approached me to ask why I abruptly stopped attending service or home group. Not the pastor, nor elders, nor anyone in the home group we had been a part of for 2 years. My husband continued attending for a few months on his own. He had committed to hosting a men’s bible study at our house during the summer (quick note, as I recall, there weren’t any women’s bible studies). He kept his committment and a few guys came every Saturday morning for about a month. As I understand it, at one point my husband was asked about me. He tried to relate where I was with things but I’m fairly certain he flubbed that up because I hadn’t told him too much at the time. Not for lack of him asking. I didn’t want to taint his opinion. I didn’t want to lead him like a horse to water to the information. He needed to own it for himself IMO. One of the guys who also happened to be an elder ended up taking this information to the main pastor. He did not ask my husband if he could do so. He just did. And Lord knows what was said. The pastor, instead of calling me directly to ask questions or whatnot, called my husband and left a message. HELLO people!! I’m a human. Just because I’m a woman, doesn’t mean you can’t come to me directly, to the horse’s mouth, to find out why I felt the way I did and why I stopped attending. If I wanted to make it their knowledge, I would have. I was very upset that this elder, who was attending a small men’s bible study group with my husband, betrayed his trust IMO by gossiping back to the pastor. I believe my husband did not take this pastor’s call, and after that breach of confidence my husband stopped attending anyways.
    I can’t say I have a story to tell that’s as prominent as the one’s we’ve heard. I can say, as a former attendee and researcher of all things Acts29/Calvin/Comp, there is a disease within this network of churches. There is a disease within its theology.
    What is interesting to me now is the affiliation with the SBC. I believe most SBC goers do not understand what Acts29 is all about. I think a stealth takeover by Calvinism/Comp could happen in the SBC if it hasn’t already.
    I consider myself a done at this point. For how long, I’m not sure. I’m thankful for each of you. I’m thankful I’m not alone. I’m thankful God is shaking up my assumptions and viewpoints on what it means to be His.

  56. I’d like to point out one more concern I had while attending this Acts29 church. Sorry I didn’t mention it above. The push to constantly church plant was foreign to me. On the surface, it made sense. But where things got strange was the realization that these Acts29 churches are sending young people forward to plant. And they are planting in affluent areas.
    There was a constant push in this particular church I attended, and I think TVC/Matt Chandler and Acts29 has pushed this as well, for racial reconciliation. Hence a push to discuss this topic from the top down. I’m not here to debate white privilege etc. I will say this. How arrogant, at a minimum, is it for them to speak against white privilege when they have planted in predominantly affluent, white communities. There was a push to encourage and embrace primarily African American persons to attend our church. Not Asian, not Hispanic, not Indian or Arabic. But the push was for them to attend OUR church. Not the other way around. And not to plant new churches within those minority communities. Very hypocritical IMO.

  57. Melissa wrote:

    HELLO people!! I’m a human.

    You’re a human…just barely. Your problem Melissa is that unlike your husband or the Acts 29 pastor you didn’t have a penis. That is the reason why you were treated in such a way. Forgive me for saying this…but I look at this theology as a theological equivalent of what guys boast about in the locker room in Junior High School.

  58. Melissa wrote:

    The push to constantly church plant was foreign to me. On the surface, it made sense. But where things got strange was the realization that these Acts29 churches are sending young people forward to plant. And they are planting in affluent areas.

    This is just like franchising. Its like what Starbucks, Wendys, McDoanlds, Pizza Hut, Dominos all do. In the end its a business.

  59. Just a formatting question, as I’m reading the post. You have some things bolded, like “Acts 29 church replant horror story” — and I thought maybe it was supposed to be linked to the earlier post? Or is the bolding just for emphasis?

    I’m a little unclear on the timeline in your story, unless the replanting process was drawn-out and took over a year to go from officially dissolving the old church and officially “replanting” the new church. I guess I don’t really understand what all was involved.

    But, yeah. Having read a little past the point where you and your husband left, along with others, I have to shudder. I’ve noticed this punitive attitude (exemplified by the “join a community group or be put under discipline” in your story) before in fundamentalist christians. Some name-it-and-claim-it friends of ours were leaders in a homeschool support group. I remember how punitive their attitude was, towards the membership, for not being more involved, not participating, not volunteering. It was discouraging and demotivating.

  60. @ Eagle:
    I agree. Absolutely a business. $$$. Which is why Matt Chandler, as the Grand Poobah (CEO) must be held accountable. I think of my husband whose job is on an executive team in a for-profit corporation in DFW. If anyone below him were to seriously flub up, he would ultimately be the one with his head on the line. So in the case of Karen Hinkley and the “elders” of TVC that primarily worked with (against) her, their heads should be on the line along with Chandler for having put these arses in the positions in the first place. If only 501c3’s worked this way as the business that they are..

  61. deb wrote:

    @ Melissa:
    Thanks for sharing your experience at an Acts 29 church. I have no doubt that there are others out there who can relate.

    Thank YOU Deebs for allowing me to do so. And for allowing all other stories to be posted here. If just one person has this story resonate with theirs, then it’s always worth it to speak Truth.

  62. refugee wrote:

    Just a formatting question, as I’m reading the post. You have some things bolded, like “Acts 29 church replant horror story” — and I thought maybe it was supposed to be linked to the earlier post? Or is the bolding just for emphasis?

    I bolded those words because that was the excerpt from the first post in the series.

    The next set of bold words are from the second installment in the series.

    Thanks for asking.

  63. Melissa wrote:

    There was a push to encourage and embrace primarily African American persons to attend our church. Not Asian, not Hispanic, not Indian or Arabic. But the push was for them to attend OUR church. Not the other way around. And not to plant new churches within those minority communities. Very hypocritical IMO.

    That is the current new theme in the SBC. Certainly the SBC needs to recognize their shameful past, but the young guys are not facing the root cause of the SBC blindness on slavery. That is the notion that God has created one class of people to rule over other classes of people. It used to be by race or sex. Now, in the Gospel Glitterati churches it is just sex/gender. I applaud the discussion on racial reconciliation, but like you it is very hypocritical in view of their lack of planting in minority areas. However, it is trendy among the youth, and they certainly need a distraction from the decline in support for their gender hierarchy, so it is something we can expect to hear more about.

    The 9Marks Journal has an article by a black young man, and his thoughts about the black church and Complementarianism are a reflection of where this might be headed.

  64. Eagle wrote:

    I’m thinking of doing an essay on the history of Pol Pot and the Cambodian “Killing Fields” and what happened when a person is committed to doctrine alone at any cost. I would love to compare and contrast that with John Piper’s behavior in supporting CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll at any cost. Think of it as a version of the “theological killing fields” of the Neo-Reformed.

    DO IT.
    I’ve used the same analogy for years, because deep down, it’s the same thing.
    REALITY MUST BOW TO THE PERFECTION OF IDEOLOGIAL PURITY.
    Because the Pure Ideology is ALWAYS correct, no matter what.

  65. Eagle wrote:

    @ K.D.:
    I have several essays in the works now to include dealing with fundamentalism at a funeral in Montana and some more reflections on atheism. But one of the things I was thinking about come due to a comment by Bill M on how John Piper chose to ignore what is happening in SGM because of his commitment to the ideology of Calvinism.
    I’m thinking of doing an essay on the history of Pol Pot and the Cambodian “Killing Fields” and what happened when a person is committed to doctrine alone at any cost. I would love to compare and contrast that with John Piper’s behavior in supporting CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll at any cost. Think of it as a version of the “theological killing fields” of the Neo-Reformed.
    But I have a number of things on the plate ahead of it. Good God! 61 posts and I feel like I am going to explode because of all the fundagelicalism that I experienced.

    Two weeks ago, we were in Nuremburg literally across the street from the old Nazi Parade Grounds staying at the Hilton. I could not help but think how some of the same methods used by the Nazis are used by churches today…the Nuremburg folks were different than the rest of Germany. You can sort of see why the movement started there…

  66. Melissa wrote:

    But where things got strange was the realization that these Acts29 churches are sending young people forward to plant. And they are planting in affluent areas.

    Young people are more likely to be True Believers, and “affluent areas” are where the money is. All about the Benjamins, baby.

  67. @ Gram3:
    As always, Gram, I learn much from reading your comments! I’m not in the know on much about the SBC shameful past. It seems much hasn’t changed from past to present IMO.

  68. Melissa wrote:

    I can’t say I have a story to tell that’s as prominent as the one’s we’ve heard. I can say, as a former attendee and researcher of all things Acts29/Calvin/Comp, there is a disease within this network of churches. There is a disease within its theology.
    What is interesting to me now is the affiliation with the SBC. I believe most SBC goers do not understand what Acts29 is all about. I think a stealth takeover by Calvinism/Comp could happen in the SBC if it hasn’t already.
    I consider myself a done at this point. For how long, I’m not sure. I’m thankful for each of you. I’m thankful I’m not alone. I’m thankful God is shaking up my assumptions and viewpoints on what it means to be His.

    Yes, there is a disease, and yes, there is certainly an attempt underway to takeover the SBC one institution and one church at a time. It is very sad for me to see what has happened and continues to happen. I’m so happy you were able to see your way out of the System that devours so many.

  69. refugee wrote:

    But, yeah. Having read a little past the point where you and your husband left, along with others, I have to shudder. I’ve noticed this punitive attitude (exemplified by the “join a community group or be put under discipline” in your story) before in fundamentalist christians. Some name-it-and-claim-it friends of ours were leaders in a homeschool support group. I remember how punitive their attitude was, towards the membership, for not being more involved, not participating, not volunteering. It was discouraging and demotivating.

    I probably should have mentioned in the post that our fellowship had already established community groups, and participation was voluntary. My husband and I were very faithful to attend our group weekly.

    What I had a problem with was the legalism that was later imposed. You must join a community group or face discipline… It still irks me.

  70. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Melissa wrote:
    But where things got strange was the realization that these Acts29 churches are sending young people forward to plant. And they are planting in affluent areas.
    Young people are more likely to be True Believers, and “affluent areas” are where the money is. All about the Benjamins, baby.

    To quote Jerry Maguire, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!”

  71. @ Melissa:
    I love to be able to contribute to the discussions here where I learn so much. Glad you commented and told your story!

  72. Gram3 wrote:

    Yes, there is a disease, and yes, there is certainly an attempt underway to takeover the SBC one institution and one church at a time. It is very sad for me to see what has happened and continues to happen. I’m so happy you were able to see your way out of the System that devours so many.

    Did you know you, along with others here on TWW, have played a part in my seeing the way out of the devouring System?! Thank you. I can’t wait to meet you one day in Glory.

  73. Regarding the affluent going to the affluent I know. I never understood giving out water bottles to love on your neighbors when they can afford it whilst not giving out water bottles to the homeless who need it and have nothing to offer in return. I also don’t think you can manufacture diversity and if your social structure is all the same income you aren’t an accurate representation of the church. Finally, it peeved me to hear a pastor talking Viut the percentage of unreached people in an Anerican city since I know percentages in cities around the world in comparison. Do we really think a whole city will come to Christ if we get in mission?! Of course God can do that, but the church has always been salt and light in a remnant minority’s sort of way. It was when the church controlled the narrative that it became corrupted. Might be good to look outside ourselves, partner with other churches locally and globally for the kingdom of God. Those were my thoughts while hearing stuff in A29.

    @ Adam Borsay:

  74. @ Melissa:
    Your story is excellent. How would you feel about us using your story one day for a post? Would you be interested in adding to it?

  75. Melody wrote:

    egarding the affluent going to the affluent I know. I never understood giving out water bottles to love on your neighbors when they can afford it whilst not giving out water bottles to the homeless who need it and have nothing to offer in retur

    Darn, that’s a great comment.

  76. refugee wrote:

    bolded, like “Acts 29 church replant horror story” — and I thought maybe it was supposed to be linked to the earlier post? Or is the bolding just for emphasis?

    Bolding is just for emphasis. If it was linked, it would be blue.

  77. dee wrote:

    @ Melissa:
    Your story is excellent. How would you feel about us using your story one day for a post? Would you be interested in adding to it?

    Dee, absolutely! I know you’ve offered for me to do that before, and I confess I’ve drug my feet on the matter. I think it’s time to share whatever I can from my experience. It might also be cathartic to really think about my experience and why I am where I am today. If you think it can add value, certainly.

  78. The sheep stealing aspect of all this that Deb mentioned earlier is one that deserves to be explored further. If this network is primarily attracting existing Christians from other churches instead of preaching the gospel and making new disciples, along with too-rapid church planting, this needs to be brought to the attention of the wider Church. The potential fallout here is huge.

  79. My feeling is that Acts 29 is just creating a new denomination with its own very specific distinctions. But the Church is bigger than that and it would be awesome to see that reflected in partnerships locally rather than nationally. I think it’s sad we are seeing a turning inward instead of outward in church movements. Lots of digging in heels, though thankfully there are places like this blog where the Church can congregate.

    Denominationalism tends to become untrusting of outside churches, when I think diversity of conscience and theological understanding can be beneficial to spiritual growth. That is, these days we can choose our local church fellowship but we shouldn’t forget the believers in our community nor fail to support them. We aren’t independent of each other when we are called to love.

    And for the gospel, not TM, it might be a great witness to the world if we united to tell others about Christ. This would require humility and willingness to learn from each other, and even the confidence of our own convictions, but it would be worth it. My two cents.

  80. Eagle wrote:

    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. You know you leave TVC and TVC sends out a team to hunt you down.

    Just like Sea Org Blow Teams from Gold Base.

  81. Eagle wrote:

    Who ever thought that some of this would apply to the theological landscape today? I mean reading about how Communism works and the principles or power behind it apply to some of what is happening in Acts 29, Mars Hill Seattle, SGM, etc… It just stuns me.

    “For the hearts of Men are easily corrupted, and the Ring of POWER has a Will of its own.”
    — JRR Tolkien(?)

  82. Michaela wrote:

    You know, Eagle, I have pondered the same idea for many months. And I also concluded that The Wartburg Watch is an “underground railroad” for those of escaping.

    Over at Homeschoolers Anonymous, they actually had a series of blog posts (reposts from another blog) where they actually DID call themselves “The Underground Railroad” for escapees from abusive Christianese Homeschool/Patriarchy/Quiverfull families/churches and even went into some detail on how they operated.

  83. Anon wrote:

    “Do Acts 29 Churches Share the Same DNA as the Mothership?”

    Yes. The Driscollian strain of DNA

    “I SEE Things (whumpa whumpa whumpa)…”

  84. Eagle wrote:

    Forgive me for saying this…but I look at this theology as a theological equivalent of what guys boast about in the locker room in Junior High School.

    “He SCORED! Heh-huh! Heh-huh! Heh-huh!” — Beavis & Butthead

  85. Studied a bit of politics too-and totally agree. It’s scary when politics seems to reflect the church landscape more than Biblical understanding.

    @ Eagle:

  86. Adam Borsay wrote:

    BUT what I observe from young church planters is church planting next door to a healthy church in a wealthy community. Few are going to underchurched and POOR areas to do so. Apparently Jesus only calls us to plant churches in affluent suburbs where everyone looks like us…

    I was reading an article a while ago that was addressing that. I can’t find it right now, but I’ll keep looking (got to show my sources). As I remember it essentially a lot of high growth/mega churches are basically just passing the same populations back and forth. It seems it’s almost a free market sort of situation where consumers go to the one that entertains the most. From personal experience I’ve seen similar behavior in the pagan and non traditional faiths, though anecdotes aren’t data of course. What fascinates me is how it seems we’ve let faith/spirituality get commercialized if you will. And if that’s the case, well who wants to go shopping in the sketchy part of town. It’s a lot more safe and lot better paying where we know the people. Speaking from an American viewpoint of course.

  87. dee wrote:

    What I find interesting is that Matt Chandler was presented as the face of a kinder Christianity.

    He is. He will persecute, harass, and oppress you with a smile on his face.

  88. dee wrote:

    Do you think that TVC showed a high bar for church membership in going after Karen?

    No, they confused a high bar with coercion. I think it is a good thing to say, lets reason, through scripture, together on this issue before we make any decisions…but…if you don’t want to(with us at least) that’s ok. I would contend that there isn’t something inherently wrong with saying, lets talk about this first(regarding the annulment). In baseball/softball one of the first rules you learn in the outfield is always start going back for a pop up, even if you think it is going to land in front of you…height and distance can be tricky and I have found myself plenty of times forgetting that rule and having a ball keep right on sailing over my head…..

    I am convinced that the power of the Cross gives hope to ANY situation. So it is a good thing to set a high bar towards hope. But that is different than forcing someone else to accept your hope for themselves and punishing them for their lack of your perception of their faith.

  89. Adam Borsay wrote:

    4- Church planting is a very good thing. I think MORE churches should have a heart to reach people outside of their immediate geographic foot print. And studies show that in a given area that nothing is more effective at reaching the lost than a new church. BUT what I observe from young church planters is church planting next door to a healthy church in a wealthy community. Few are going to underchurched and POOR areas to do so. Apparently Jesus only calls us to plant churches in affluent suburbs where everyone looks like us……Having a supporting and planting church already in a good area that utilizes their resources to plant churches in poorer areas is fantastic. More need to do that than what we observe.

    The past few years, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my experiences in church plants in the 1970s and ’80s, church-planting team experiences from the mid-1990s onward, and occasional serving as a church planting candidate assessor for the SBC in the early 2000 decade. Since then, I’ve worked more with UK and US teams who do innovative social change projects, many involving participation of dedicated Christians plus “nones” and “dones.” I expect there’s a lot I’ll have to revise based on all that rethinking. But here are initial conclusions.

    While I still agree that church planting can be a good thing, I believe that, overall, over the past 15 years, it’s frequently transmogrified from a context-sensitive methodology to a uniform, modernist-friendly, organizational-replication formula — a machine, even. Those planters and social entrepreneurs who are more organic, contextual, and missional don’t so much use the tools that way. From what I’ve seen, they are more likely to do community development, social transformation enterprises, and not simply try to plop-and-drop a pre-fab church system in a place where it culturally does not fit.

    A couple of other thoughts about problems in the deep DNA of it all.

    * The oft-quoted slogan of, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches,” goes back about 25 years and comes from … guess who? Missiologist C. Peter Wagner, the uber-leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, which is probably just as authoritarian as the overall profile of Acts29/Neo-Puritan/Neo-Calvinist networks, but at the charismatic end of the spectrum. Are we seeing the degenerative influence of that particular piece of possibly flawed DNA, working its way out in 2nd and 3rd generations of church plants?

    * In my opinion, the now-standard church planter assessment system developed by Charles Ridley uses a very specific profile for a “successful” and “visionary” leadership style that matches a linear, modernist, hierarchical paradigm. However, the more I’ve studied distinctives of how postmodern cultural people and “cultural creatives” process information, and the more I’ve worked with ministry teams of postmoderns, I find that the conventional vision-casting approach is quite opposite to their norm.

    So, it’s no surprise to me that what are now conventional church planting methods draw in planters and teams who are highly hierarchical, theory-into-practice, black-and-white thinkers overall, organizationally structure oriented, with a theoretical vision that they cast but do not necessarily carry (such as, “We’re all about community!” but they show they don’t know how to relate well with people).

    Meanwhile, the postmoderns who are more into immersion learning through projects and action-reflection, who are more organic and non-linear in processing styles, seem to be drawn into missional ministries, community development, one-off projects or multiple different kinds of social transformation projects with the same team … quite a different approach that the now-conventional church planting ecclesiology and methodology don’t really explain well — nor necessarily like, because it doesn’t typically result in brick-and-mortar churches, and really does not support multi-sites or megas.

    * I was editor for the doctoral dissertation of a stellar church planting strategist who concluded that something was seriously lacking in the older mother/daughter sponsored church plant method and the newer sorts of church-in-a-box approaches to planting and replication. To paraphrase a key finding, “I realized I could practically plan and plant these churches in my sleep. But what that meant was the Holy Spirit wasn’t really in it. It’d become a formula, and it was easy to leave God out of it.” I’d been in on the inside of such formulaic type plants myself, as well as ones where the planters showed definite reliance on the Holy Spirit, so I’d experienced the difference.

    So, I guess I’m seeing DNA gene problems in the underlying ecclesiology/missiology, the methodology, the cultural contextualization, the relational dynamics, and the pneumatology of it all. In other words, problems through the entire paradigm. And from my studies of genetics and intersexual conditions, a gene that is missing, broken, or doubled often creates a condition where the person is sterile and also has numerous physical problems to contend with that can even shorten their expected lifespan.

    As we’re seeing with these Acts29 and other recent examples, there’s something off base with a conventional church planting model that so easily divides God’s people into elite leaders versus everyday disciples. I think there’s a lot more thinking to do on this …

  90. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I think it is a good thing to say, lets reason, through scripture, together on this issue before we make any decisions…but…if you don’t want to(with us at least) that’s ok. I would contend that there isn’t something inherently wrong with saying, lets talk about this first(regarding the annulment).

    I think there is an embedded assumption there that the only or even the primary people who can help her think through this are the ELDERS at The Village. I think it is even more important for people who are Christians who are close to her to walk with her. The ELDERS interposed themselves for no good reason, IMO. We would have to assume that clergy have more of the Holy Spirit than either Karen or the other Christians who were counseling her.

  91. Eagle wrote:

    Melissa wrote:

    HELLO people!! I’m a human.

    You’re a human…just barely. Your problem Melissa is that unlike your husband or the Acts 29 pastor you didn’t have a penis. That is the reason why you were treated in such a way. Forgive me for saying this…but I look at this theology as a theological equivalent of what guys boast about in the locker room in Junior High School.

    I just saw this response, Eagle! It’s not my fault I was born without a penis LOL. Or so I would tell them.
    I’d be curious the ratio of male to female in the Acts 29 network. I’d also be curious the primary age group among females in these Acts 29 churches. I find it hard to believe there are many older, wiser and more seasoned in the faith women who attend or stick around.
    So if there are IMO more females on the younger side of the age spectrum, what attracts them to attend these churches and stay? The hopes of finding a husband if they’re single? Daddy issues and the need to be “cared for”?

  92. @ NJ:

    In my faith crisis I proclaimed myself to be agnostic when I was more or less atheist. So I was outside the Christian faith when I was being invited to Redeemer Arlington which was affiliated with SGM at the time. All the abuse, sexual abuse, manipulation, etc…fed my faith crisis and justified my atheism. I talked about how Christianity is a cancer, and the harm it causes and then I am being invited to a church in the SGM denomination (at the time they broke away eventually) which fed the atheism because of how corrupt the denomination is. I wrote about it in this post.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/how-to-respond-to-a-faith-crisis-being-involved-in-a-church-that-is-feeding-the-crisis-or-justifying-atheism/

  93. @ Gram3:

    I would agree that assuming that the tile “elder” or “pastor” automatically SUPER qualifies somebody is wrongheaded and problematic. And I agree, if someone is unwilling to meet with you don’t go forcing your way into their life. We have some friends who make bad life decisions…we clearly could give them good advice…but I have never once thought it would be effective or helpful to call them up and say, “you know what, you should listen to me because you are clearly a dummy….” Which is what impression is created when you force yourself into uninvited contexts…

    That being said, the Biblical description of the role of the local body, and the leadership therein, is to be a place to receive guidance, advice, support, etc. Now, one has to walk the fine line between domineering and demanding that people take your “advice” and offering it freely, but I would be hard pressed to see a Biblical precept for NOT talking things over within your local body and the leaders/elders there.

    This does not of course mean that your local body/leaders are perfect, but the contextual description of the “church” in the NT indicates that we DO indeed bring things to our community for help and advice. If one chooses to not participate in such a way in the life of any particular local body, I don’t have a problem with that. But I don’t think it is wrong for a particular church to say, “This is how we approach issues and we call all of those who call this local body “home” to participate”

  94. This is exactly the problem with Acts29 and the current authority movement!!!! They put emphasis on authority when the only authority is in the Word of God!!! Jeff VanV talks about this in that book of his. These guys don’t realize they don’t have the right to play Holy Spirit; they are only responsible to support believers. And Karen did nothing wrong-in fact she did meet with them until it became apparent they wanted to play Holy Spirit rather than support her submitting to the Lord rather than men.

    Gram3 wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    I think it is a good thing to say, lets reason, through scripture, together on this issue before we make any decisions…but…if you don’t want to(with us at least) that’s ok. I would contend that there isn’t something inherently wrong with saying, lets talk about this first(regarding the annulment).

    I think there is an embedded assumption there that the only or even the primary people who can help her think through this are the ELDERS at The Village. I think it is even more important for people who are Christians who are close to her to walk with her. The ELDERS interposed themselves for no good reason, IMO. We would have to assume that clergy have more of the Holy Spirit than either Karen or the other Christians who were counseling her.

  95. Flicker wrote:

    By the way, what’s Mark Driscoll and his copyrighted “Mars Hill” doing these days.

    He may have found his own Paraguay so to speak in the great state of Texas.

  96. Eagle wrote:

    I look at this theology as a theological equivalent of what guys boast about in the locker room in Junior High School.

    Ruh-roh. Eagle, you might want to look at this video of Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and Mark Dever discussing multi-site churches and other cool stuff. I probably got this from you or TWW a while back anyway.

    Driscoll & MacDonald remind me of the guys boasting in the locker room (my church is bigger than your church) and Dever is the odd man out that they’re picking on.

    This was my first encounter with Dever (about 3 years ago) and it was pretty favorable in comparison to Driscoll, but I’m now beginning to see from experience that his 9Marks network is suspiciously like Acts 29 and probably Sovereign Grace.

  97. Living Liminal wrote:

    This stuff is unbelievable! What part of Luke 22:24-27 do they not get!? We are told by our one, true leader that we are not to ‘lord it over’ our brothers and sisters and yet story after story of this exact behaviour emerges daily.

    I’m beginning to wonder if the problem is those words were spoken by Jesus. Based on what they do and the systems they establish and how much they love the place of honor and the best seats, I cannot imagine they want much to do with what Jesus did or said.

  98. Ted wrote:

    Eagle wrote:
    I look at this theology as a theological equivalent of what guys boast about in the locker room in Junior High School.
    Ruh-roh. Eagle, you might want to look at this video of Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and Mark Dever discussing multi-site churches and other cool stuff. I probably got this from you or TWW a while back anyway.
    Driscoll & MacDonald remind me of the guys boasting in the locker room (my church is bigger than your church) and Dever is the odd man out that they’re picking on.
    This was my first encounter with Dever (about 3 years ago) and it was pretty favorable in comparison to Driscoll, but I’m now beginning to see from experience that his 9Marks network is suspiciously like Acts 29 and probably Sovereign Grace.

    Yes, a pretty infamous video. Two of the three were on the eve of collapse or major comeuppance, I’m sure they never imagined it could happen.

  99. The church I grew up in was actively working to start new churches from the late 1950s through the late 1960s. Every summer, college student summer missionaries would come and spend four weeks in homes of our church members, arriving after the church had held its own VBS (2 wks) and revival (the second week of the VBS). Our church members (mostly women) and the summer missionaries would conduct a two week VBS in a town within an hour from our church, with a revival meeting the second week. This would be repeated in another town. One place would be a first year and the other a second year, and the SBC HMB and state organization would provide a pastor to hopefully get a congregation started in the second year location. Roughly half of the attempts succeeded. Afternoons were spent canvassing the first week at each location.

    Early on, some of the places were a bit farther away, but there was no effort to select communities of wealth, just those without an SBC affiliated church and that seemed otherwise to have few evangelical churches.

  100. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Eagle wrote:
    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
    This is along the lines of what was behind my thinking when I used the term “indentured parishioners” to describe legal-contract covenant members of churches, as it seems, in effect, a modified form of slavery. And later I wondered if such contracts turned covenant members into official agents of the corporation/plantation. Insidious.

    Just think, if they could craft a legally enforceable contract that said you *must* tithe a *minimum* of 10%, so long as you are a member — and then make it impossible to leave if you are under discipline (and any attempt to resign would automatically put you under discipline, so you couldn’t resign, but would have to make yourself such a stench in the church that they’d kick you out and shun you instead).

  101. Flicker wrote:

    I just watch one of my favorite movies yesterday. Key Largo. In it, Johnny Rocco, an exiled murderous crime king-pin is making his way back to the United States, to set up shop again, only this time even better. At least with churches once the kingpin is exposed, he’ll never be given another church again.
    By the way, what’s Mark Driscoll and his copyrighted “Mars Hill” doing these days.

    Um, no, it’s not true that he’ll never be given another church again. Sadly, christians are so gullible to the old “I repented, so you have to forgive me” shtick. MD has been guest-speaking, and making himself out to be the victim. Has anyone started a betting pool yet on how soon he’ll be at the helm of a church once more?

  102. Adam Borsay wrote:

    This does not of course mean that your local body/leaders are perfect, but the contextual description of the “church” in the NT indicates that we DO indeed bring things to our community for help and advice. If one chooses to not participate in such a way in the life of any particular local body, I don’t have a problem with that. But I don’t think it is wrong for a particular church to say, “This is how we approach issues and we call all of those who call this local body “home” to participate”

    The problem is the leaders don’t want matters brought to the community, they want issues brought to them. They do not understand the concept of submitting one to another. It’s a one-way street. They do not understand the concept of leading by example alone, never compulsion. They do not understand the concept of being the least, the last, the lowest. They stand in front of a crowd on a raised stage with the lights on them and all the eyes on them, and then talk of being humble. They are usurping the position of Jesus.

    Of course we should work things out with the community. But in a cult, there is no community, only ugly, divisive faux leaders and followers with the form of community, but none of the reality thereof. Were it a community led by the Holy Spirit, I have to imagine that community would’ve risen up en masse against the tyrant on the stage and publicly condemned him for his treatment of one of the community. A community should have your back. That is not a community.

  103. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Now, one has to walk the fine line between domineering and demanding that people take your “advice” and offering it freely, but I would be hard pressed to see a Biblical precept for NOT talking things over within your local body and the leaders/elders there.

    The Bible certainly has no precept against talking things over with other believers. However, where I disagree is the idea that the elders or even the people in a given local assembly necessarily have preeminence over other Christians. For example, what if Karen’s parents are “elders” in the faith. Why should their counsel be put below the counsel of a pup who has called himself an ELDER? I think that there is no Biblical warrant for an office of ELDER where such office holds authority or is somehow vested with more spiritual insight. Certainly the NT church had elders, but I believe the historical context is that people identify others within their local community who have wisdom, and those elders (male and female) are available to provide guidance to those in the assembly. I don’t think it follows from that that those elders (male or female) have any special right to intervene in anything but rather to make themselves available.

  104. Ted wrote:

    I’m now beginning to see from experience that his 9Marks network is suspiciously like Acts 29 and probably Sovereign Grace.

    I can assure you that they have the same values and doctrines regarding the authority of the local church and the elders. Along with TULIP and Complementarianism. The difference is that 9Marks is more general and so can be adapted to different micro-cultures in the church. That said, Dever is a preppy intellectual with a cultivated manner, so it provides some bit of cover for people who do not see themselves as goofy as Mahaney or as crude as Driscoll.

  105. Gram3 wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    Now, one has to walk the fine line between domineering and demanding that people take your “advice” and offering it freely, but I would be hard pressed to see a Biblical precept for NOT talking things over within your local body and the leaders/elders there.
    The Bible certainly has no precept against talking things over with other believers. However, where I disagree is the idea that the elders or even the people in a given local assembly necessarily have preeminence over other Christians. For example, what if Karen’s parents are “elders” in the faith. Why should their counsel be put below the counsel of a pup who has called himself an ELDER? I think that there is no Biblical warrant for an office of ELDER where such office holds authority or is somehow vested with more spiritual insight. Certainly the NT church had elders, but I believe the historical context is that people identify others within their local community who have wisdom, and those elders (male and female) are available to provide guidance to those in the assembly. I don’t think it follows from that that those elders (male or female) have any special right to intervene in anything but rather to make themselves available.

    Absolutely 100% true.

  106. Gram3 wrote:

    Ted wrote:
    I’m now beginning to see from experience that his 9Marks network is suspiciously like Acts 29 and probably Sovereign Grace.
    I can assure you that they have the same values and doctrines regarding the authority of the local church and the elders. Along with TULIP and Complementarianism. The difference is that 9Marks is more general and so can be adapted to different micro-cultures in the church. That said, Dever is a preppy intellectual with a cultivated manner, so it provides some bit of cover for people who do not see themselves as goofy as Mahaney or as crude as Driscoll.

    Correct. It’s not just a couple pseudo-denominations such as A29 and SGM. It’s a whole spirit behind it all. A29 and SGM are merely symptoms of the underlying problem.

  107. Law Prof wrote:

    Of course we should work things out with the community. But in a cult, there is no community, only ugly, divisive faux leaders and followers with the form of community, but none of the reality thereof. Were it a community led by the Holy Spirit, I have to imagine that community would’ve risen up en masse against the tyrant on the stage and publicly condemned him for his treatment of one of the community. A community should have your back. That is not a community.

    Well said. Now the people at The Village need to decide if their leaders represent them or Jesus and make their decisions accordingly.

  108. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    There were several things that really struck me about this post that have happened to me personally. At my former church, we had one pastor who overused the word “Relevent.” After some time, I realized that one could replace “Relevent” with “cool” or “trendy” and get the same meaning. Of course this was always proof texted with Paul’s, “I have become all things to all men so that I may by all means win some.” But Paul was talking about pedigree and education, not clothing and music trends. Later when I was on the board of trustees, we noticed that this same pastor was overspending on his church credit card. Big time. When we tried to reel it in, he went ballistic, reminding us that HE was the pastor and leader. As the church progressed, many of the older core members began to feel ostracized. My wife and I finally officially left the church on as good of terms as possible. When we came back a cole months later for a special service in which a friend’s child was taking part, the pastor said to us, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!”
    My worst fault is that my sense of loyalty clouded my sense of what is proper in the church. I think there are so many people just like me out there. Not looking for a fight. Assuming the best about their pastor even if he has a pattern of shady habits. I see them commenting here sometimes in defense of Mark Driscoll or now Matt Chandler. I think they are really loathe to believe what is obvious is really true. I know I look back on myself and say, “what a sucker to have let it go on for so long!” But for those like me, I say, stop. Take a look at the facts. Take a close look at your sense of loyalty. Remember loyalty is not a fruit of the Spirit, not a spiritual gift.

    Overspending the church credit cards is a familiar story.

    Your point about loyalty is a good one! I had never thought about it in terms of “fruit of the Spirit” before.

  109. Deb wrote:

    @ Living Liminal:

    Here’s how I see it… These stories were never supposed to get out. I guess these abusive leaders thought those whom they ‘disciplined’ would just crawl under a rock.

    Instead, some of them have reached out to bloggers.

    Best move they ever made as they work through the healing process.

    Amen. It was sites like this one that helped me to see that my feeling that something was wrong was not just my sin speaking to me, but a result of something *actually* being wrong.

  110. @ brad/futuristguy:

    As usual brad/futuristguy, this analysis and description is really, REALLY good. Thanks for bringing your considerable education, experience, and intellect to bear on this. The insight about the disconnect between the now-conventional church planting efforts and postmoderns jumps out at me. The now-conventional church planting models really are franchising, and young postmoderns have been marketed to and monetized their entire lives. I am not surprised that this ends up being a huge disconnect. It is decidedly formulaic and non organic.

  111. refugee wrote:

    Overspending the church credit cards is a familiar story.

    Wonder if they also overspend their personal credit cards? If they can’t handle money (personal or church), what does that say about managing their household well and their qualifications as an older and wiser person who is recognized to help and give advise? In my opinion, it says a lot.

  112. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Look at how many of us have backgrounds in studies of American-European-world history, political systems, dystopian fiction, church history,

    Me too – I have a degree in history.

  113. Adam Borsay wrote:

    No, they confused a high bar with coercion.

    A high bar with communal discernment and Spirit-empowerment and freedom of conscience and perseverance with the saints, is far different from a high bar that is about authoritarian dictates and legal rules and performance conformity and perfectionism of the saints.

    I wonder if the highly linear, hierarchical paradigm behind the conventional organization-centric (non-organic) church planting models has gotten concentrated over the past 10 years or so to morph into the authoritarian monstrosity it has become

  114. refugee wrote:

    brad/futuristguy wrote:
    Eagle wrote:
    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
    This is along the lines of what was behind my thinking when I used the term “indentured parishioners” to describe legal-contract covenant members of churches, as it seems, in effect, a modified form of slavery. And later I wondered if such contracts turned covenant members into official agents of the corporation/plantation. Insidious.

    Just think, if they could craft a legally enforceable contract that said you *must* tithe a *minimum* of 10%, so long as you are a member — and then make it impossible to leave if you are under discipline (and any attempt to resign would automatically put you under discipline, so you couldn’t resign, but would have to make yourself such a stench in the church that they’d kick you out and shun you instead).

    Maintaining a church industrial complex is based in “giving units.”

  115. Deb wrote:

    Yes, I remember watching that video. Did you ever see this one?

    It was much better than I expected, probably because MacDonald did most of the talking. When I saw “bus” in the link I thought Driscoll was going to brag about throwing people under it. You know, like he did that other time.

  116. @ Melissa:

    Melissa, thank you so much for sharing that. I cannot tell you how many similar variations of the same type thing I have heard.

  117. @ Lydia:
    dee wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    I came to view European church history as power politics using religion to either rally the troops

    We are not too far from that sort of thinking these days.

    That is where all the relgious heros come from these days so it makes sense. I wish they would cut to the chase with King Jesus.

  118. @ Melissa:

    Don’t get me started on this one. The ERLC is taking this one on, too. It is weird how one of the most patriarchal people in the SBC is taking that on. But, I know exactly what you are talking about. It is more PR than reality. But the seekers were doing this too. They would actively recruit black professional men because they wanted their elder board to look diverse. Not poor or even middle class ones, mind you, who probably had more Jesus in them than all of them put together!

  119. K.D. wrote:

    the Nuremburg folks were different than the rest of Germany

    That is interesting. Makes me want to look into the why.

  120. Melody wrote:

    I never understood giving out water bottles to love on your neighbors when they can afford it whilst not giving out water bottles to the homeless who need it and have nothing to offer in return.

    An Acts 29 church here was giving out donuts and coffee to parents doing the morning kid drop off at a private school. Your point exactly.

  121. Lydia wrote:

    They would actively recruit black professional men because they wanted their elder board to look diverse. Not poor or even middle class ones, mind you, who probably had more Jesus in them than all of them put together!

    Do only “professional” people qualify for anhtbing now? I see the same problem in wider society; “money” is required to lead and/or to be heard.

  122. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    While I still agree that church planting can be a good thing, I believe that, overall, over the past 15 years, it’s frequently transmogrified from a context-sensitive methodology to a uniform, modernist-friendly, organizational-replication formula — a machine, even. Those planters and social entrepreneurs who are more organic, contextual, and missional don’t so much use the tools that way. From what I’ve seen, they are more likely to do community development, social transformation enterprises, and not simply try to plop-and-drop a pre-fab church system in a place where it culturally does not fit.

    Exactly. There is a lot of push back to that model because of fear of failure that is too obvious, I think, and it eats away at resources for buildings, events, etc. I wanted to do a micro enterprise type of mission in the inner city modeled on what we were doing in Afghanistan at the time which was sort of modeled on the Grahmin bank micro enterprise work in India for poor women. Sadly, it is the affluent churches who have the resources for just this sort of thing.

  123. Bridget wrote:

    Do only “professional” people qualify for anhtbing now? I see the same problem in wider society; “money” is required to lead and/or to be heard.

    They are after a “mark.” 🙁

    Why not give fruit and water out at a homeless shelter, or provide breakfast at the schools who already give breakfast to low income families instead of the school district paying for it?

  124. Someone has possibly already pointed this out above, but there are technically no Acts 29 Churches only Acts 29 pastors.

    Big difference I learned the hard way.

  125. I didn’t mean to quote myself above. Below was the intention .

    Lydia wrote:

    An Acts 29 church here was giving out donuts and coffee to parents doing the morning kid drop off at a private school. Your point exactly.

    Bridget wrote:

    They are after a “mark.”
    Why not give fruit and water out at a homeless shelter, or provide breakfast at the schools who already give breakfast to low income families instead of the school district paying for it?

  126. Matt B Redmond wrote:

    Someone has possibly already pointed this out above, but there are technically no Acts 29 Churches only Acts 29 pastors.
    Big difference I learned the hard way.

    That could be a LOL except it is too sad and true.

  127. @ Ted:

    You should have heard Driscoll’s interview on the Unbelievable radio program by Justin Brierly. Basically Driscoll’s message was: All the Christian men in the UK are wimps!!! Justin had to politely tell him that his wife was a Vicar. Hee Hee.

  128. Matt B Redmond wrote:

    Someone has possibly already pointed this out above, but there are technically no Acts 29 Churches only Acts 29 pastors.

    Big difference I learned the hard way.

    Interesting distinction for a reason. They do have to pledge to be Reformed.They do not plant non Reformed churches. That much I know,too, the hard way. There has been some pushback in the SBC because NAMB helps pay for some Acts 29 church plants but cannot seem to tell donors exactly how much and for what.

    More confusing, their website has a “locate an Acts 29 church”.

  129. @ Lydia:

    Here is the link to Justin Brierley's interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll. Brierley give a 5-1/2 minute introduction regarding the conversation he had with the Driscolls.

    (Trigger Warning:  Brierley is asking questions about the Driscoll's Real Marriage book, and the conversation is graphic at times)

    http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/The-Mark-Driscoll-interview-special-podcast

    We wrote a couple of related posts.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/01/18/driscoll-bitter-toward-the-brits/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/01/19/justin-brierley-takes-on-mark-driscoll/

  130. dee wrote:

    Michaela wrote:
    “underground railroad” for those of escaping.

    I really laughed about this. I got an email from someone who goes to one of the churches we have written about. He says he likes it but he will never sign the membership contract. Now that is one wise individual.

    Glad you got a laugh! Thanks for all that you and Deb do for the rest of us. (My eyes are misting up right now.)

    I am glad that man will not sign a membership contract. At my former church, the pastors/elders told a godly East Asian man, who had been attending for six years, that he was no longer permitted to come to church and he was banned from church property because he did not believe in Membership Covenants and he would not sign one.

    I have really begun to question all of the people who claim that they are *saved* and going to heaven when they can do such hateful, despicable acts to Christians.

  131. @ Deb:

    I think what he means is that, in reality, the only people who count in an Acts29 church are the pastors. Everything revolves around them, their wants, their desires, their rules.

    To me the members just seem to be there to fund the church (pastors) decisions.

  132. And see they called it “serving” which conflicts with my traditional view of serving as exercising spiritual gifts in the church which may or may not be visible to the wider community…I believe many A29 people are genuine in their love for their community, but I also believe in those churches people can serve God in daily life and local community and still be considered a “consumer Christian” if they have no time nor inclination to serve as the local A29 desires them to. I just think there’s some cart before horse and little equipping of the saints to be salt and light where they are day by day. There’s also an agenda, even though most won’t admit it even to themselves.

    Lydia wrote:

    Melody wrote:

    I never understood giving out water bottles to love on your neighbors when they can afford it whilst not giving out water bottles to the homeless who need it and have nothing to offer in return.

    An Acts 29 church here was giving out donuts and coffee to parents doing the morning kid drop off at a private school. Your point exactly.

  133. Think “vision”…

    Bridget wrote:

    @ Deb:

    I think what he means is that, in reality, the only people who count in an Acts29 church are the pastors. Everything revolves around them, their wants, their desires, their rules.

    To me the members just seem to be there to fund the church (pastors) decisions.

  134. Let’s just say Justin was professional and Driscoll was the stereotypical “ugly American” in response. Awful how he attacked on secondary issues and got his feeling butt hurt over gentle pushback. I was embarrassed as an American having grown up in the UK. That’s about when I started reading up on him and yep, it got worse.

    @ Lydia:

  135. Deb wrote:

    @ Janet:
    I had never thought of church planting in quite that way. It does appear that when an Acts 29 church sets up shop they attract people from other churches. I think it’s called ‘sheep stealing’.

    I served in an Acts 29 church plant for 3 years, in a major American city. I can tell you that 99.9% of the church members were people who were already Christians and who came to our church from other churches.

    I also had contact with a few other Acts 29 churches in the city and surrounding areas, and in speaking to their leadership, I received the same info: majority members were Christians from other churches.

    I wonder if it would be good/helpful for someone to start a special page for those wounded by Acts 29 to share their stories? I would contribute my family’s story.

  136. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I wonder if the highly linear, hierarchical paradigm behind the conventional organization-centric (non-organic) church planting models has gotten concentrated over the past 10 years or so to morph into the authoritarian monstrosity it has become

    I think a landmark in the concentration in the SBC would be the BFM2000 which altered the status of the pewpeon and enshrined male priority. As a consequence, those in the SBC had the document to justify their purging and propagating. Another milestone is the first T4g where they went national with the agenda. And also in the mid 2000’s there was TgC which was broader.

    Meanwhile, Piper was gaining a following, and Driscoll was siphoning off SBC funds to plant or re-plant Acts29 churches. Graduates from SBTS and SEBTS began coming online for placement in churches with the credentials they received as “elders” at churches where their mentors taught near the seminary. In Louisville, there are many churches that have been “re-planted” or “revitalized” by young graduates of SBTS. I imagine that might be the case at Wake Forest as well.

    That is a broad outline of how the concentration has occurred in the SBC from my observational perspective. And all the while there was the formation of an impression among the young people that YRR is cool and not your father’s SBC/Non-Denom/PCA. They entered the churches as adults forming a nucleus of very involved members which enabled pastor-search committees to place like-minded people in SBC pulpits. Older people in those churches went along because the kids were enthusiastic about church. There were no checks or negative feedback permitted, and so we have the multi-car pileups and trainwrecks we have talked about here.

  137. Bridget wrote:

    @ Deb:
    I think what he means is that, in reality, the only people who count in an Acts29 church are the pastors. Everything revolves around them, their wants, their desires, their rules.
    To me the members just seem to be there to fund the church (pastors) decisions.

    A couple years into our Acts 29 church plant, our pastors’ bad behavior began to generate some criticism among the members. So – no joke – they got together and preached a sermon series on “How To Treat Your Shepherd.” It was all about how kind and loving the “regular folks” needed to be towards our elders. (Who were all under the age of 30, by the way).

    So yes, you are right. I think that many Act 29 pastors tend to be narcissistic, self-centered, and to honest – somewhat wimpy and thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.

  138. In response to the question concerning the shared DNA of the Acts 29 churches, I looked up the Membership Covenant of the Acts 29 church closest to me. I more or less expected it to mirror TVC but found it to have its own red flags:

    1. Check your own right to discern scripture at the door in deference to that of the elders – “To thoughtfully abide by the biblical doctrine of [church name], and joyfully submit to the pastor-elders and appointed leadership in The City Church as they prayerfully pursue God’s will for the church…”

    2. Commit not to leave to another local church – “To be committed to The City Church as my local church family for my time in Fort Worth…”

    3. Engage in some undefined process known as an “Annual Identity Plan” (really, I couldn’t find what this was anywhere) – “…regularly
    involving myself in “[church name] Life” by engaging in my Village and our Annual Identities Plan…” (they define village somewhere else)

    4. Not sure what forum they have for hearing all confessions of all the sinners: “To confess my sin to God and fellow believers, repenting and seeking help to put sin to death” (I believe there may be a time and place to confess sins publicly but this is just too broad)

    5. If you attend but don’t join, you are a drain on resources (and I guess should go away?)- “But if you’re a Christian who refrains from becoming a member over an extended time (generally more than a year of involvement), you do a disservice to Jesus’ body and bride, and to yourself: you consume from God’s church, but don’t commit to it or sacrifice for it, and you hinder the work of the church family”

    They seem inconsistent in several places including #5 in their understanding of the church as the body of Christ in some contexts and commitment to their local franchise in others. For example, they imply that they cannot provide adequate pastoral care if you haven’t signed their document. It was frustrating attempting to navigate their website to find the relevant docs. You would think that if the membership page had an FAQ section, it would be available in the FAQ section of the website and it was not. This, to me, implies a lack of transparency. On their leadership page, several of their elders don’t look old enough to run for president. More discerning readers will find more issues and better theological footing, but this is a sampling of my observations.

    My only prior knowledge of this church before looking it up is to have noticed the sign on the building they meet in a couple of weeks ago. In general, they seem like well intending folks and perhaps their biggest fault in practice may be that they overuse the term “Gospel”. It could be a tragedy for someone to be involved with this body, however, then have to withdraw because they couldn’t in good conscience sign the document.

  139. Melody wrote:

    My feeling is that Acts 29 is just creating a new denomination with its own very specific distinctions.

    That is exactly what they are doing. But they can’t admit it, or actually call themselves “a denomination” because part of their strategy is to “partner with” (i.e. infiltrate) existing denominations.

    By calling themselves a “network” instead of a “denomination,” Acts 29 has been able to sneak inside of established denominations. As this post demonstrates, tragically this often results in a virtual deconstruction of the former church and the creation of a new church, now strategically positioned inside of a major denomination.

    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

  140. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    And one of the redemptive things I truly hope will come out of all these horrific situations of spiritual abuse is a new system for evaluating what constitutes a “trustworthy” versus a “toxic” organizational system, and even an external audit and certification system for equipping organizations for intervening and changing problems in their current systems, and for preventing problems in the future. And, uhh, let’s make it a non-membership approach so ongoing fees and posterministry promotions don’t create an inherent conflict of interest, as it has with ECFA/Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, in my opinion.

    I’m on board. When do we start?

  141. Mr.H wrote:

    Is there a biology term for this?

    IIRC, I asked if this phenomenon is more like a virus or a metastasis. Nancy, who should know, said it was definitely a metastasis.

  142. Mr.H wrote:

    Melody wrote:
    My feeling is that Acts 29 is just creating a new denomination with its own very specific distinctions.
    That is exactly what they are doing. But they can’t admit it, or actually call themselves “a denomination” because part of their strategy is to “partner with” (i.e. infiltrate) existing denominations.
    By calling themselves a “network” instead of a “denomination,” Acts 29 has been able to sneak inside of established denominations. As this post demonstrates, tragically this often results in a virtual deconstruction of the former church and the creation of a new church, now strategically positioned inside of a major denomination.
    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

    This?

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitoid

  143. refugee wrote:

    Just think, if they could craft a legally enforceable contract that said you *must* tithe a *minimum* of 10%, so long as you are a member — and then make it impossible to leave if you are under discipline (and any attempt to resign would automatically put you under discipline, so you couldn’t resign, but would have to make yourself such a stench in the church that they’d kick you out and shun you instead).

    A situation that happened locally 5-6 years ago: 10 years ago a church plant was started. It was not an Acts29 plant, but similar in style and vision. All of a sudden some issues came to a head, one of which was that their music ministry leader started balking at being required to tithe 10% to the local church. Turns out she, along with all staff, were required to sign an agreement/contract/I don’t know what they called it, but she signed something agreeing to it and then had second thoughts. Long story short, the whole thing led to a church split. Since then, the church has regained as many as it has lost and is now ‘relevant’, offering multiple services, etc. We’ve attended 3-4 times out of curiosity. It’s not ‘going to church'; it’s an ‘experience’.

    But I’ve often thought of their requirement that staff tithe 10% back to the church. Interesting.

  144. My husband’s definition of a seeker church: ‘Some guy in his 30’s, standing in front of a church with an untucked shirt, yelling at me about how awesome God is.’

    I know I’m biased, but I think it’s pretty funny.

    We subscribe to Christianity Today and both my husband and I have read the article you referred to about multisite churches. Looking forward to the discussion!

  145. Mr.H wrote:

    Is there a biology term for this?

    There’s always a virus infecting a cell. It hijacks the cell to mass-produce copies of the virus until the cell dies, releasing all the cloned virii to infect other cells and hijack their DNA to mass-produce copies of the virus…

  146. FW Rez wrote:

    5. If you attend but don’t join, you are a drain on resources (and I guess should go away?)-

    What is the German for “Useless Eater”?

  147. Melody wrote:

    Let’s just say Justin was professional and Driscoll was the stereotypical “ugly American” in response

    Tell me about it! It is horribly embarassing. I had my Brit friends who were visiting last year go to a mega church for the experience because they had a hard time with the concept. They were blown away. Literally speechless.

  148. Mr.H wrote:

    So yes, you are right. I think that many Act 29 pastors tend to be narcissistic, self-centered, and to honest – somewhat wimpy and thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.

    That comes as part of the NPD/Egomaniac package.

  149. Lydia wrote:

    .

    Lydia wrote:

    They would actively recruit black professional men because they wanted their elder board to look diverse. Not poor or even middle class ones, mind you, who probably had more Jesus in them than all of them put together!

    This occurred at the Acts 29 church I attended.

  150. Melody wrote:

    I just think there’s some cart before horse and little equipping of the saints to be salt and light where they are day by day.

    Now you are talking my language. Exactly what is it these guys can teach us about being the kingdom in the real world day after day? They can’t because “ministry” in a church structure is their career.

  151. FW Rez wrote:

    3. Engage in some undefined process known as an “Annual Identity Plan” (really, I couldn’t find what this was anywhere) – “…regularly
    involving myself in “[church name] Life” by engaging in my Village and our Annual Identities Plan…” (they define village somewhere else)

    Yes, Comrade.

    Yikes!

  152. Among the Mormons, “Elder” is a specific title of rank; the “Second Order, First Rank” of their Priesthood, achieved when a Mormon kid turns 18 and starts his two years as a Mishie.

    Mormons I have known have had a sense of humor about being an 18-year-old “Elder”.
    One gamer described it as “Joseph Smith had a Gygaxian love of elaborate Level Names.”

  153. Mr.H wrote:

    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

    It’s called a parisitoid. The ichneumon fly is one example, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay on the non morality of nature using it as an illustration.

  154. refugee wrote:

    Some name-it-and-claim-it friends of ours were leaders in a homeschool support group. I remember how punitive their attitude was, towards the membership, for not being more involved, not participating, not volunteering. It was discouraging and demotivating.

    “The beatings shall continue until morale improves.”

  155. To the glory of God???

    These days whenever somebody talks about “the Glory of God”, I have a vision of a boot stamping on a man’s face. Forever.

  156. Mega churches over here-bless me there are some ok ones- but mostly they remind me of Vegas. And I’ve lived in Vegas. 😉

    @ Lydia:

  157. To be fair I know not all A29 pastors were always pastors-some have real life experience before pastoring. However that problem you mention seems to be a problem at TVC and is a real problem across the board in many American churches IMO.

    @ Lydia:

  158. There are a few Acts29 pastors/churches in my area. A friend visited one of them and came away with this one-word intuitive description of her experience: “Punitive.”

    That’s a good indicator of a fear- and power-based system, because fear as an opposite of love is about punishment. But … “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18, NIV)

  159. First time commenter, long time reader. Love the heart to help the wounded that is on display here. But, can’t church discipline be loving? My dad who commited adultery when I was a teen was disciplined at our baptist church. This led to his repentance and his restoration to our family. How do you ladies think Matthew 18:15-18 or 2 Cor. 5:1-3 or Titus 3:10-11 applies in a church context? Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  160. Mr.H wrote:

    I’m on board. When do we start?

    I suspect some kinds of underground providential movements are already afoot on that, while it’s becoming ever more clear that ECFA and some of the so-called “peace-making” enterprises seem more concerned to protect their fee-payers than to protect the Body of Christ.

    Perhaps what is happening with G.R.A.C.E. on the system issues of child abuse is a role-model for what needs to happen with spiritual abuse and authoritarian systems. Investigative protocols, assessment tools, prevention processes, educational resources, college and seminary and leader training curriculum, networks, etc.

    It seems to me that many bloggers, advocates, professionals, and others with backgrounds in dealing with a range of abuse and violence issues have been connecting behind the scenes the past five years or so especially. Maybe that will end up emerging as some kind of coalition for abuse prevention.

    Those are some related thoughts. What ideas have you got cookin’, Mr.H?

  161. It’s funny. “There but for the grace of God go I” is sometimes berated as the ONLY response of on-lookers over the woes of others. But I still say it to myself on occasion. Sometimes as I look at the predatory pastors I wonder: If I were offered fame and fortune and the tassels of nobility, would I really reject it? I have my own answers to this but still I do sometimes think, there but by the grace of God.

    Jesus was in fact offered all the kingdoms of the world, and said No. He would have ruled wonderfully, except that he would have received his power and authority to rule by worshipping a false god.

    But it’s not just in churches that I see this increasing unholy aggregation of authority.

    Here is a snippet for a comment on a financial site: All centralized hierarchical structuring of society are headed for breakdown this century. The deficits Western countries run are merely an index of the extent of failure of hierarchical control and decision-making for the new age upon us.

    Notice, in this commenters view, he sees a “centralized hierarchical structuring of society”. From what I see, every 501(c)3 is a government-structured entity; it is not just endorsed, it is structured according to corporate structure. If a church gets a loan, that loan still exists even after the exiting of all the signatories, right? The “church” has taken on a worldly structure and life and secular responsibility that surpasses and overshadows the lives of the any and all of the congregants. It’s in effect entirely a legal corporation, now. No wonder Member Covenants and other legal contracts are now becoming de rigueur. And no wonder they retain the right to fire anyone with or without cause.

    But this is what “churches” have been turned into in the US, and much of the western world: centralized hierarchical structuring of Christians. Authoritarianism is merely the mechanism and the reward for taking part. And authority rolls downhill.

  162. Mr.H wrote:

    A couple years into our Acts 29 church plant, our pastors’ bad behavior began to generate some criticism among the members. So – no joke – they got together and preached a sermon series on “How To Treat Your Shepherd.” It was all about how kind and loving the “regular folks” needed to be towards our elders. (Who were all under the age of 30, by the way).

    Oh my word! This is so typical of that movement. However, It is better than Calvin’s Geneva where you had to pay a fine or be punished for criticizing him.

  163. @ brad/futuristguy:
    It’s just a thought, but how about no longer structuring as a 501(c)3? Would it really kill Christians and Christianity to reject tax-deductible contributions and the corporate business model?

  164. Think of the freedom of speech from the pulpit if churches surrendered their 501(c)3 status, and were no longer tongue-tied by IRS retaliation for religious speech that could be viewed as “political”. Look what’s been happening in Texas.

  165. I think it’s not just Acts29 that is responsible. I’ve been seeing or reading of this behavior since at least 2000. Come to think of it, my wife and I quit a church in 2000 just after a new young pastor fresh out of seminary took over the church from the retiring pastor. Within a year of two he held a forty-days-of-finance drive (or whatever it was called) and built a massive Costco (er, that is, a mammoth plain white warehouse-looking church with no visible cross out front, but great parking) on a large neighboring lot.

    They had become Purpose Driven®.

  166. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    There are a few Acts29 pastors/churches in my area. A friend visited one of them and came away with this one-word intuitive description of her experience: “Punitive.”

    With a lot of the Guilt Manipulation preaching I was exposed to in the Seventies (all centered around the Fear of Great Tribulation, Antichrist, and Hell — Don’t Be Left Behind!), I wondered if God had any reason for existing other than to PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!”

  167. Sammy Stiley wrote:

    But, can’t church discipline be loving?

    Yes, I think it can, but it looks a lot more like discipleship than shunning and excommunication. I’ve personally witnessed four cases where the discipline process was effective, but it looked nothing like what we have seen here. Once it was successful, and the other times it was not. In no case I’ve known have any others been put at risk as in this case.

    One led to repentance and great rejoicing among those in the church when the one being discipled repented. One ultimately ended with the church rallying around the victim when the perp did not repent. In that case, it was more a matter of recognizing what had been going on and calling for support for the victim. Yet another time was a criminal financial matter and dealt with accordingly by calling in the police. Yet another time was a husband and wife where there were issues all around. The people in the church were supportive of the couple and the marriage, but the marriage ended because there was nothing left to salvage.

    No covenants, no shaming, no shunning, no mass communication. Just plain members of the church working in various situations, depending on what was required and according to their gifts. There was rejoicing with repentance and welcoming the repentant back, and there was no coercion at all of anyone. Basically, it was like the immune system of the Body taking care of itself and the Body healing itself of different problems in different ways. I’m so happy it was restorative for your family. It has become punitive and retaliatory, unfortunately, in too many cases.

  168. Sammy Stiley wrote:

    But, can’t church discipline be loving? My dad who commited adultery when I was a teen was disciplined at our baptist church. This led to his repentance and his restoration to our family.

    Sammy – I think most people think of a situation like this when they think of “church disciple”…and would be in agreement that kind of situation is exactly what it is for.
    Sadly, now the words raise red flags because of abusive “discipline” being meted for raising legitimate concerns or disagreeing with the pastor or not attending a small group or, heaven forbid, wanting to end a fraudulent marriage with a pedophile. :-/

  169. "The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations."

    I'm not trying to be mean here – I'm really not. But this is such a load of cr@p. What does all this Christian nonsense language even mean? Here is the big "emperor has no clothes" moment – it doesn't mean anything. I think a lot of these guys just parrot cr@p that they heard in seminary or wherever without actually thinking about it. Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what "gospel saturated" means. I'll wait.

  170. Mr.H wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    @ Janet:
    I had never thought of church planting in quite that way. It does appear that when an Acts 29 church sets up shop they attract people from other churches. I think it’s called ‘sheep stealing’.
    I served in an Acts 29 church plant for 3 years, in a major American city. I can tell you that 99.9% of the church members were people who were already Christians and who came to our church from other churches.
    I also had contact with a few other Acts 29 churches in the city and surrounding areas, and in speaking to their leadership, I received the same info: majority members were Christians from other churches.
    I wonder if it would be good/helpful for someone to start a special page for those wounded by Acts 29 to share their stories? I would contribute my family’s story.

    There are no converts. There is no “missionary spirit ” in many of these churches. It is entertainment….we are going to have cooler ” stuff” than other churches……and people wonder why and get mad because so many people now are “Dones.”

  171. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.

    It means whatever the speaker of these absurd words wants it to mean – no more, no less. And it can change with circumstances as needed.

    I completely agree with your assessment of that absurd proclamation.

  172. Flicker wrote:

    It’s just a thought, but how about no longer structuring as a 501(c)3? Would it really kill Christians and Christianity to reject tax-deductible contributions and the corporate business model?

    Somehow U.S. churches survived before such corporate bodies were able to incorporate and be treated as an “individual” entity in the eyes of the U.S. law. And if a group is bent on formally organizing, there are other forms that could provide structural benefits while requiring accountability. Some are emerging forms that have stronger roots in the parallel secular world of social benefit businesses and social transformation entrepreneurship — for instance, check into B Corps and L3Cs (Low-profit Limited Liability Companies).

    And there’s long been a sidebar option of the “bi-vocational” approach for supporting those who minister. That also keeps leaders in real-world occupations which could help devolve some of the theocratic isolation that can happen between full-time paid leaders and everyday disciples.

    I suppose those who have stewardship in the mind and heart would likely contribute financially and participate personally without a legal contract covenant hanging over their head, or the possibility of a tax-exempt receipt in their files.

    But I’m also of the Frank Herbert (author of *Dune*) mindset on the problems of power. Instead of it just being “absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” like Lord Acton stated, Herbert suggests, “Power is a magnet that draws the corruptible.” So, the seemingly perfect organization can be corroded by someone with a penchant for power instead of a spirit for service.

  173. Deb wrote:

    These stories were never supposed to get out.

    Deb, I think you are right! I guess that is why people who tell their stories are labelled ‘bitter’ and ‘unforgiving’. It seems that in the eyes of some christians, forgiveness means ‘shut up and take it’.

  174. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    They are little kings and want to build their own empire.

    Well, he also once wondered aloud what his legacy would be…from the pulpit on Sunday morning. In his particular case it came from an obsession with Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life – though to be fair to Piper on this, I doubt he was intending to promote obsessing about how much other people will or will not admire what YOU did, when he wrote that book. In this particular guy’s head, I think the line between doing great things for God and “leaving a legacy” (i.e., what will other people think of what I did) may have been a bit more muddled than he himself realized.

  175. Flicker wrote:

    Think of the freedom of speech from the pulpit if churches surrendered their 501(c)3 status, and were no longer tongue-tied by IRS retaliation for religious speech that could be viewed as “political”. Look what’s been happening in Texas.

    That is all I need, to be told how to vote from the pulpit.

  176. refugee wrote:

    It was sites like this one that helped me to see that my feeling that something was wrong was not just my sin speaking to me, but a result of something *actually* being wrong.

    Refugee, that was my experience, too!

  177. @ Dr. Fundystan:

    Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.

    Well, my experience with Neo-Calvinists tells me that, in practical terms, it means reminding your parishioners at every turn what sucky horrible sinful unworthy worms they are, then withholding assurance to keep them terrified and coming back for more lest they backslide at some other church that doesn’t TAKE HOLINESS SERIOUSLY (= all non-Neo-Calvinist churches).

    So from a Lutheran perspective, that would be no actual Gospel at all, just loads of Law with a Gospel label slapped on the outside. Because if we label something X, it must be really be X, because we said so. Like this rabbit:

    http://favoritememes.com/_nw/37/42148895.jpg

  178. @ Marsha:
    No, it isn’t being told how to vote. It’s any speech that could be perceived as political, whether is has to do with homosexuality (and gay marriage), abortion, transgender bathrooms in schools, home schooling, parenting, dietary laws, circumcision legislation, or church zoning issues. The list is long. It’s not how you vote, it just talking about these issues that are at risk.

    Just a snippet: “Unsatisfied with violating the rights of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the City of Houston has subpoenaed privileged communications of five pastors (none of them party to the lawsuit) who helped to organize the petition drive. Among other information, the city is requesting communications between the pastors and their attorneys pertaining to the ERO lawsuit, communications between the pastors and their congregants, and even the pastors’ sermons.”

    Not only can’t pastors speak on certain topics, but church leaders can’t even take part privately in the political process without having their private and church-related communications subject to government scrutiny.

  179. This actually happens. I’ve heard of a guy who was tracked down by a group of TVC guys (former friends) sent by the church to intervene and appeal to him to repent. They showed up at his former place of work on the east coast. It’s frightening. @ Eagle:

  180. @ FW Rez:

    You’ve heard of Watermark right? They have a “spiritual growth assessment” that members fill out every year. It is easily more intense than my yearly performance review for my actual job. Who even reviews it? What could that person be doing to serve the poor in the time it takes to do that? You can look it up on Google.

  181. Marsha wrote:

    That is all I need, to be told how to vote from the pulpit.

    I would not go to a church that started pushing politics.

  182. Flicker wrote:

    @ Marsha:
    No, it isn’t being told how to vote. It’s any speech that could be perceived as political, whether is has to do with homosexuality (and gay marriage), abortion, transgender bathrooms in schools, home schooling, parenting, dietary laws, circumcision legislation, or church zoning issues. The list is long. It’s not how you vote, it just talking about these issues that are at risk.

    Just a snippet: “Unsatisfied with violating the rights of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the City of Houston has subpoenaed privileged communications of five pastors (none of them party to the lawsuit) who helped to organize the petition drive. Among other information, the city is requesting communications between the pastors and their attorneys pertaining to the ERO lawsuit, communications between the pastors and their congregants, and even the pastors’ sermons.”

    Not only can’t pastors speak on certain topics, but church leaders can’t even take part privately in the political process without having their private and church-related communications subject to government scrutiny.

    What case are you referring to and the specific title? Is it this one?
    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150220-petitions-targeting-planos-lgbt-ordinance-ruled-invalid.ece

    Where did you pull the quote from? It looks like it’s from a legal document from the pastors’ attorneys.

    If you are referring to a case involving a petition drive that was alleged to have false and unlawful information on the petitions that violated state laws, that is an entirely different matter than the protected speech of clergy under the First Amendment. Voting petitions must comply with state laws.

    The topics you have cited above as potentially political (abortion, homeschooling, etc) are protected speech under the First Amendment and clergy can discuss them.

  183. Deb wrote:

    I have read comments in the blogosphere by some who absolutely believe Karen should remain in that sham of a marriage.

    Yes, and it’s all over social media, as well.

    In the same way, there are is still a sizeable number of Christians who minimize Duggar’s sexual abuse of his siblings under the guise of “But Christ forgave him” or “We all sin” or “he deserves grace.” etc etc.

  184. Michaela wrote:

    The topics you have cited above as potentially political (abortion, homeschooling, etc) are protected speech under the First Amendment and clergy can discuss them.

    In theory only, but not in practice. That’s why we have to have a number of pro bono groups protecting the Christian public from illegal government regulations and prohibitions.

    The article was from… oh, I don’t want to be labeled as a right-winger, but it was from a magazine started by WFB. But there are many articles on the circumstances. I just found one that made sense in a single paragraph.

    If you read the articles, I’d be more than interested in your opinions.

    As an aside, in my view the law is often mistaken for the end-all and be-all of society, of morality, of civil discourse and of what is fundamentally right and wrong. I see it time and again: If something is legal, it is argued as being therefore right.

  185. Stan wrote:

    You’ve heard of Watermark right? They have a “spiritual growth assessment” that members fill out every year.

    When I was a kid, the offering envelopes had check boxes for things like “Brought Bible, Read Lesson….”. I guess they could keep a running scorecard and make it easier for the annual evaluation. Just learned of Watermark recently. Seem to find out about another mega in DFW I had never heard of every month or so.

  186. Flicker wrote:

    @ FW Rez:
    If you have to check a box, your pastor doesn’t know you.

    They outright state that you will not receive the same level of pastoral care if attending but not a “Covenant Partner”. Membership has its privileges!

  187. Flicker wrote:

    Michaela wrote:
    The topics you have cited above as potentially political (abortion, homeschooling, etc) are protected speech under the First Amendment and clergy can discuss them.

    In theory only, but not in practice. That’s why we have to have a number of pro bono groups protecting the Christian public from illegal government regulations and prohibitions.

    The article was from… oh, I don’t want to be labeled as a right-winger, but it was from a magazine started by WFB. But there are many articles on the circumstances. I just found one that made sense in a single paragraph.

    If you read the articles, I’d be more than interested in your opinions.

    @Flicker,

    The First Amendment gives broad protections to religious speech for clergy, and religious exclusions from various laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld those rights. (The New York Times has covered this fairly well.) I have a background working in law offices and legal departments.

    There are countless pro-bono legal groups that advocate for their groups legal interests and rights.

    I would be happy to read the articles you mention, if you would do the courtesy of posting the links.

  188. @ Stan:
    I read the balanced(? It looks balanced) reporting of Watermark at xpastor.org and I had a lot of reactions, the biggest of which that is germane to this article is: What is “love” in a megachurch? That one stopped me in my tracks.

    Again, if your pastor has to have you check off boxes or fill out a survey, he doesn’t know you.

  189. @ Michaela:

    Thanks. I googled “Texas pastors communications subpoenaed” and got a lot of articles about it, including Christianity Today, NPR and, of all things, Snopes. This one might be good for a start; it’s from the ADF, which represents the pastors, but I’ve always respected them.

  190. Adam Borsay wrote:

    2- Things can be good in theory(membership contracts) but dangerous in implementation. My wife has always joked that she is at heart a communist. She loves the idea of complete societal support and sharing of resources. BUT she knows that the structure of communism allows for being easily abused by central powers with their own imperfections/sins.

    An interesting analogy, if I can adapt it. Communism was portrayed with the pretty picture you describe and yet it gave cover to the killing of tens of millions in the last century. It was more than a flawed system, it was murderous.

    While not to the same level, these signed memberships accomplish little good and the “nice” cover story conceals the carnage in peoples lives caused by church apparatchiks in their attempts to control.

    People should be able to live their lives and not have someone control them with zealous government or zealous religion.

  191. Flicker wrote:

    @ Michaela:

    Thanks. I googled “Texas pastors communications subpoenaed” and got a lot of articles about it, including Christianity Today, NPR and, of all things, Snopes. This one might be good for a start; it’s from the ADF, which represents the pastors, but I’ve always respected them.

    OK, I found the NPR article about the Houston case.

    Just so you know in litigation, when doing discovery, it is typical to ask for a whole list of documents and there are even legal templates that you fill out and check boxes. This is standard in law.

    And here’s what a law school professor said in the NPR article:
    “However, Linzer says it wouldn’t impinge on the pastors’ First Amendment rights if the city only asked only for sermons or speeches related to the signature drive. ‘Let’s assume they gave instructions to cheat,’ Linzer says. ‘That would be relevant speech and I don’t see how they would have any First Amendment protection for that.”

  192. Wow. Just for curiosity’s sake, I checked and there’s an Acts 29 church literally just a few miles from my house. Now I want to get my detective on and go investigate.

  193. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.

    Being involved in A29 churches, i’ve heard “Gospel” being used a noun, a verb, an adjective (and maybe other parts of speech).

    I heard a sermon once where the pastor said we need to be “gospeling” each other. you can’t make this stuff up. What does that even mean?

    There is the belief in A29 churches that the gospel is not only a one time decision of salvation but also a way and means of sanctification. However, in their attempts to “reclaim” gospel, it becomes a cheap, meaningless word as it’s used for everything. See TVC’s values – “gospel centered .. EVERYTHING.” Some of the mainline Baptist churches caught on to this a few years ago. At the time, i was a pastor at an Acts 29 church and of course was offended. However, I completely see what these guys were saying.

    The last time i was at this particular A29 church, i heard “gospel” way more than Jesus in the sermon. This whole idea of the concept of the gospel… it actually hit me for the first time… the [concept of the] gospel does not save us. JESUS does. However, in that particular sermon, i came away thinking that they were implying this “concept” is what saves. I’m not saying those guys believe that, but it felt like it. It’s really hard to articulate because the “miss” is so subtle and sounds so good. Why would you not want anything that is “gospel saturated”? That sounds awesome. Until you realize that that phraseology is devoid of any real meaning and just used as a catch phrase to attract YRR folks to your camp. I hope this makes sense. It’s hard to articulate.

  194. @ pcapastor:
    Do you know if MNA supports Acts29 like NAMB does? I always want to type “Home Mission Board” and “Foreign Mission Board…

  195. @ justin:
    I just read an article on Watermark that referred to the leader as “the pastor and dynamic communicator”. I wondered where that title was in scriptures.

    Quote: “Todd Wagner is the founding pastor and dynamic communicator of Watermark Community Church.”

  196. @ justin:
    It makes perfect sense to me. I’ve observed more than once that gospel is abstract and Jesus is personal. Christians don’t have an abstract faith or philosophy; we are related to the living God through faith in Jesus and what he accomplished. I’ve heard a lot of people name-drop Jesus, but I wonder if they have faith in him or in their system, whatever that system might be or not be.

  197. Just in case any of you were wondering… I've needed some time away from commenting here. Life has been a bit stressful, and something about this particular situation with Chandler and co. has been "deja vu all over again" for me (to quote Yogi Berra). I need to keep some distance from it, at least for the time being. Will be back eventually!

  198. Corbin wrote:

    Wow. Just for curiosity’s sake, I checked and there’s an Acts 29 church literally just a few miles from my house. Now I want to get my detective on and go investigate.

    Watch your back 😉

  199. i am a member of the village church in flower mound (TVC). There are many lives being transformed by the gospel at this church. There are also many if not all that are sinners at this church including the elders. However I believer they are serious about the gospel and seeing people’s lives changed by the gospel. I hope the church continues to be transformed as they repent and seek forgiveness and get transformed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that this situation with Jordan and Karen will cause many changes for the Glory of God!! He will because He is sovereign!

  200. @ numo:
    She’s aliiive! Was just thinking about you, especially as I unwrapped the 2, oh yes 2, new pairs of Docs I bought as a congratulations to me getting my 2nd yr Masters work in on time. 1 boots, 1 sandals. Neeeewwwwww shhhhooooooeeees.
    And back to you, hope your break has made you feel much better.

  201. Exactly…. That is one of the core problems with Act29…

    Bill M wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    2- Things can be good in theory(membership contracts) but dangerous in implementation. My wife has always joked that she is at heart a communist. She loves the idea of complete societal support and sharing of resources. BUT she knows that the structure of communism allows for being easily abused by central powers with their own imperfections/sins.
    An interesting analogy, if I can adapt it. Communism was portrayed with the pretty picture you describe and yet it gave cover to the killing of tens of millions in the last century. It was more than a flawed system, it was murderous.
    While not to the same level, these signed memberships accomplish little good and the “nice” cover story conceals the carnage in peoples lives caused by church apparatchiks in their attempts to control.
    People should be able to live their lives and not have someone control them with zealous government or zealous religion.

  202. Amazed by grace wrote:

    I pray that this situation with Jordan and Karen will cause many changes for the Glory of God!! He will because He is sovereign!

    Welcome to TWW, and we are praying for the same thing. May the church elders realize that they are overstepping their bounds when they attempt to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Blessings.

  203. Bill M wrote:

    People should be able to live their lives and not have someone control them with zealous government or zealous religion.

    That depends on what the word ‘should’ means. I think that they should be allowed to and the should be able to. I think that being an adult carries with it this ‘should’ and being a mature christian requires this ‘should’ as a responsibility of adulthood all around. Actually getting that done, however, is a different matter.

    Unfortunately there are lots and lots of people who are not able and/or not willing to live their lives without supervision either because they do not know how to do it (inadequate knowledge and skills) or because they do not think that they ought to do that (do not give themselves permission to do it) or because that level of self determination is something they are willing to sign away in exchange for what looks like security (either because of fear or laziness or self doubt or just plain wanting to be part of the crowd/group.)

    In my experience, being self determinative regardless of the ‘rightness’ of what one may be deciding usually involves open confrontations where everybody gets hurt to some degree and always involves separating oneself from either systems or people or ideas that have proved either wrong or unworkable. People have to be willing to look at the blood on the floor and realize that some of it is their own and some of it is from damage they did to other people even if that was not their intent. Or else, one can just give up the whole idea of living one’s own life and just go along to get along-in everything.

    When it comes to truth, when it comes to responsibility and when it comes to genuine discipleship the go along to get along path is a lesser path, in my opinion. I think that Jesus said ‘follow ME.’ Of course, who really wants to do that because He was headed to the cross???? How much easier and safer? to just follow the crowd.

  204. Some would say friendship and be sincere in that. But mainly, you get on the map of the website. That way people who love Chandler/Acts 29 can find your church in their area. The first thing Acts 29 did when our lead pastor resigned in a rage was immediately take our church off the map, even though he never asked him (ed.) to resign.

    @ Lydia:

  205. Amazed by grace wrote:

    i am a member of the village church in flower mound (TVC). There are many lives being transformed by the gospel at this church. There are also many if not all that are sinners at this church including the elders. However I believer they are serious about the gospel and seeing people’s lives changed by the gospel. I hope the church continues to be transformed as they repent and seek forgiveness and get transformed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that this situation with Jordan and Karen will cause many changes for the Glory of God!! He will because He is sovereign!

    I’m sorry, but after just reading Justin’s comment above, this comment furthers his point IMO.

  206. Amazed by grace wrote:

    i am a member of the village church in flower mound (TVC). There are many lives being transformed by the gospel at this church. There are also many if not all that are sinners at this church including the elders. However I believer they are serious about the gospel and seeing people’s lives changed by the gospel. I hope the church continues to be transformed as they repent and seek forgiveness and get transformed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that this situation with Jordan and Karen will cause many changes for the Glory of God!! He will because He is sovereign!

    You know, I read an apology once that seemed a propos to this situation at TVC. In fact, it could be applied to any spiritually abusive place/situation.
    If you had a glass of drinking water you were consuming, crystal clear and clean, and just a drop of sewage was added to it in your presence, would you continue to consume it?
    No.
    Why when it comes to church environments like TVC/Acts 29 would a person continue to consume with the apparent sewage of thought, theology and action?!

  207. Gram3 wrote:

    @ pcapastor:
    Do you know if MNA supports Acts29 like NAMB does? I always want to type “Home Mission Board” and “Foreign Mission Board…

    No, the PCA (and our church planting arm, MNA) does not have any official relationship with or support for Acts29. There are some PCA pastors, though, who, as individuals, are also part of the Acts29 network — which, as Matt Redmond points out above, would put their church on the Acts29 website. Haven’t checked that out lately to see how widespread that might be, but I would think it would only be a handful?

  208. @ Matt B Redmond:

    Like an elite club. A young SBTS graduate in his mid 20’s I know went to plant an Acts 29 church in a Southern city known for a church on every corner. That was 5 years ago. he visited last year and looks like he has aged 20 years and his countenance is one of being beaten down. He is always sending me pleas for money.

  209. justin wrote:

    I heard a sermon once where the pastor said we need to be “gospeling” each other. you can’t make this stuff up. What does that even mean?

    I believe it means these pastor dudes have a very poor vocabulary. 🙁

  210. Stan wrote:

    Watermark made big news for their church discipline SNAFU in 2007. Todd Wagner compared the legal ordeal to being crucified. I guess we can give Matt Chandler credit for not doing that.

    In my newsfeed this morning, one of the headlines was Sarah Palin (former God’s Choice for POTUS) claiming the Duggars are being CRUCIFIED by the Secular Media…

  211. So, I just looked at the search function of Acts 29 churches and found out that a local church that was planted by my church is now called an ACTS29 church. We had been looking at it. Nothing I saw in my visits suggested any relation to Acts 29.

  212. God-glorifying, cross-centered, gospel-focused, biblically-sound, culturally-relevant, …….

  213. Bob M wrote:

    God-glorifying, cross-centered, gospel-focused, biblically-sound, culturally-relevant, …….

    What’s with all the hyphenated words?

    They have well-versed content editors who understand the punctuational complexities of compound-adjectival forms.

    P.S. U R welcome.

  214. @ Beakerj:
    Well, congrats to you, and what a great present to yourself!

    I think I’m still off on break, though. Honestly, there are times when i need to step back.

  215. Can someone help me find where and how the Acts 29 church plants are being funded by the SBC?. This is something my church needs to know. Is the SBC being transparent with this funding? Very interesting stuff.

  216. Nancy wrote:

    Unfortunately there are lots and lots of people who are not able and/or not willing to live their lives without supervision

    I was looking at it from the perspective of someone usurping authority but you are right, many, if not most, appear to want someone to take care of them, to rule over them.

    The warning Samuel gives to the people of Israel about the abuses they will get with a king is applicable. Can we say Acts 29 is just another version of King Saul?

    Samuel finishes his warning with: “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

  217. Raymondge wrote:

    The now-conventional church planting models really are franchising, and young postmoderns have been marketed to and monetized their entire lives. I am not surprised that this ends up being a huge disconnect. It is decidedly formulaic and non organic.

    Thanks Raymondge … glad it was helpful.

    Culturally “postmodern” Christian friends of mine — mostly in the UK where they’re a generation ahead in terms of post-Christendom, “nones,” and “dones” — have catalyzed some rather amazing personal and social transformation projects over the past 10 years. These include:

    * Producing an international art installation that challenges people to reconsider their perspective about Jesus Christ.

    * A political campaign and community awareness project designed to decrease the demand side of human trafficking by focusing on challenging and changing the attitudes of men who hired sex workers and therefore kept maintaining the trafficking system. This was almost a decade ago, and a demand-side focus really was cutting-edge for the time. They won awards and recognitions for “best practices.”

    * Job training and personal recovery/support networks for women survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, and similar situations.

    * Creating a relational and resource network for emerging social change agents and entrepreneurs.

    * Developing The Transformation Index system of indicators for identifying goals for the impact of social transformation endeavors, and providing ways to measure them *qualitatively*.

    * Create a system for engaging “nones” and “dones” in spiritual conversations with Christians and working together on projects that promote the common good.

    In my view, these are one postmodern-friendly equivalent to “church planting.” Actually, it’s more “community building” through face-to-face interactions and discipling. The core community continues to grow, and a significant number of people who get involved with one project stay connected with individuals they met there, and often get involved in another project.

    This tutorial gives some of the background philosophy on this approach.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/tutorial-13/

    Basically, it’s far more non-linear, organic, missional, indigenous, and relational. It’s oriented toward people who like to immerse themselves in action and reflect afterwards, instead of hear the correct theory and then go try to apply. It’s very different from the fairly up-tight, punitive approach to church being profiled in this post. Instead, it calls forth grace-filled perseverance in relationship with people, rather than demanding perfect submission to leaders and conformity to approved behaviors.

  218. Doc in Fairhope wrote:

    Can someone help me find where and how the Acts 29 church plants are being funded by the SBC?. This is something my church needs to know. Is the SBC being transparent with this funding? Very interesting stuff.

    Good luck. this question has been asked of NAMB by many. evidently the way they do the accounting is it comes out of some big pot of money where they don’t differentiate. but I would think if you are only paying pastors salaries there would be a way.

    I think they want the question to go away.

  219. @ Bob M:

    To add to the mystery.

    I have been attending a church off and on with my hubby that is not on the “List” of Acts29 churches. However, I know that this (newer) Pastor (and church) has been getting help from Acts29 area leaders. So, I’m trying to figure out if this is a pastor in training and the church (or pastor) will be Acts29 or what? what? what? (Maybe Matt B Redmond can enlighten us).

  220. Matt B Redmond wrote:

    Some would say friendship and be sincere in that. But mainly, you get on the map of the website. That way people who love Chandler/Acts 29 can find your church in their area. The first thing Acts 29 did when our lead pastor resigned in a rage was immediately take our church off the map, even though he never asked him (ed.) to resign.

    Lydia wrote:

    @ Matt B Redmond:
    What is the benefit of being Acts 29? I had heard it was money to pay the pastor from Acts 29 partners like SBC NAMB.

    When the network first started building steam, the big “advantage” was the survival rate of A29 churches. MD was telling everyone that 1/2 of churches fell and if you subject yourself to assessment and get the A29 stamp of approval your odds somehow magically go up to 80%. Of course this was 10 years ago and i have no idea how this statistic has played out over time.

    What i learned is that this statistic and others like it play off of church planter’s fear of failure. There is a huge fear that you are going to fail and Acts 29 was fostering this by telling people planting churches is really really hard and you will probably fail if you are not partnered with a network of like minded planters like Acts 29. I believe the way things are set up creates an environment that either leads to despair – thinking you are not good enough to plant – OR – pride – “i’m an official Acts 29 pastor; i’m the real deal.” But when things don’t go as they should down the road, bad things happen. In 2010 for example, there were a suicide, an overdose, affairs, financial improprieties and other things to “escape” done by Acts 29 pastors. The response by the higher ups in A29 was to do more, connect more, try harder, have more buy in. (double down, dig in their heels, etc).

    On a side note, for me personally, after leaving A29, i attended a church planting conference for house churches and a guy literally told me, “you’ll probably fail at your first church plant, and it’s totally fine; none of Paul’s churches are around anymore either.” It was a breath of fresh air for me — don’t fear failure. Be faithful to what God is calling you and let him work out the details.

    Ok back to the point, honestly, there is NO real advantage beyond getting the YRR fresh off of a Passion Conference or seminary to join your church and provide a steady growth stream. I think this is the real reason that pastors are interested in joining the Acts 29 brand.

    As Matt Redmond mentions above, there are NO true Acts 29 churches. It is NOT a denomination. Perhaps the best label for it is an exclusive fraternity. The perceived benefits (networking, coaching, venting, etc. ) that might come from these mentor-to-peer relationships are in many ways a facade. I’ve personally witnessed multiple men who have been coached and seen it done differently (in many cases poorly) – but it is largely a posturing move by the acts 29 pastors who are already in the network to establish a pecking order. Many in A29 pride themselves in being “church planting churches” but in reality all they did was connect with a guy who was interested in being an A29 planter — during assessment he was told that he had to be supported and commissioned by an established A29 church, but it really means lead pastor, that sends him out and gets to add a notch to their belt as a “church planting church”. When the lead pastor leaves, dies, or is fired, the church is removed from Acts 29 status until a candidate can be assessed. Even when the elders of the church officially install a “lead pastor” – he must go through the vetting process w/ Acts 29 – which really doesn’t mean anything. You get on a website and the lead pastor and his wife get to go on a special all expenses paid vacation to rub shoulders w/ all of the other Acts 29ers. I can tell you there is at least one example where a lead pastor (a29 member) was removed from his office and the person that became the lead pastor didn’t give a flip about joining Acts 29 and it made some folks pretty mad. It’s really bad/conflicting ecclesiology. The A29 churches require a plurality of male elders, but when the rubber meats the road, it really is about the “lead pastor”. He is the only voice at the table – as far as connection purposes go. Where this is a slippery slope is involving finances. Acts 29 churches are required ( i believe this is still the case) to give 10% back to Acts 29, but the congregation and local elders have no say over this. (one example of the conflict). Obviously, a lead pastor is only going to appoint elders that are in his corner and are mostly “yes men” to make sure he doesn’t lose a29 status.

  221. Acts29 has certain distinctives. Here’s one along with the proof-texts offered to support it:

    The Elders/Pastors of each local church have been granted authority under the headship of Jesus Christ to provide oversight and to teach/preach the Word of God in corporate assembly for the building up of the body. The office of Elder/Pastor is restricted to men.

    (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:18; Acts 18:24-26; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; 3:1-7; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7)

    I looked up each of those verses. None of them mandate an “office of Elder/Pastor” that is to be held exclusively and universally by males unless those things are first assumed to be true. This is yet another circular argument that is invalid but sounds pious and bibley. The cleverness of proof-texting is that it puts forth the conclusion first, and that results in the interpretation of the proof-texts being colored by the conclusion. People are deceived because they are naive and they refuse to be Bereans.

  222. Bridget wrote:

    I have been attending a church off and on with my hubby that is not on the “List” of Acts29 churches. However, I know that this (newer) Pastor (and church) has been getting help from Acts29 area leaders. So, I’m trying to figure out if this is a pastor in training and the church (or pastor) will be Acts29 or what? what? what? (Maybe Matt B Redmond can enlighten us).

    Bob, did you look at the “candidate” list as well as the officially approved list?

    http://www.acts29network.org/candidate-churches/

    What happens is that when a person gets the go-ahead to start his acts 29 church, (or maybe he has already started planting and then decides he wants to join A29) he is given a list of requirements to be “official”. One requirement is that church attendance has to be at 40 before you are considered qualified. Your church pastor may be either a candidate in the system, or knows that he would not make it through assessment and is just a fan of A29. It could be just that he knows local A29 guys. I know some on this blog will disagree with me, but there are some good guys in a29. Kingdom minded guys that really do care for their city and love Jesus. It may be they are just helping him out for the sake of the kingdom.

  223. justin wrote:

    Bridget wrote:
    I have been attending a church off and on with my hubby that is not on the “List” of Acts29 churches. However, I know that this (newer) Pastor (and church) has been getting help from Acts29 area leaders. So, I’m trying to figure out if this is a pastor in training and the church (or pastor) will be Acts29 or what? what? what? (Maybe Matt B Redmond can enlighten us).
    Bob, did you look at the “candidate” list as well as the officially approved list?

    and i’m sorry i called you Bob. I was reading the name of the person you replied to. Sorry Bridget

  224. justin wrote:

    Where this is a slippery slope is involving finances. Acts 29 churches are required ( i believe this is still the case) to give 10% back to Acts 29, but the congregation and local elders have no say over this.

    Thank you for that informative comment. I think you are absolutely right that their ecclesiology has internal conflicts. The 10% tithe back to the mothership certainly makes it look more like a multi-level marketing arrangement. And the fact that the elders of the local body have no say over this arrangement contradicts the independence of each church and also the governing authority of the elders of that local church.

  225. justin wrote:

    I know some on this blog will disagree with me, but there are some good guys in a29. Kingdom minded guys that really do care for their city and love Jesus.

    I think that is almost certainly true. But why would someone who is Kingdom-minded want to be associated with an organization that is based on marketing and power rather than either the example of Jesus or the authority of the Bible? That is the part I do not understand.

  226. Mr.H wrote:

    So – no joke – they got together and preached a sermon series on “How To Treat Your Shepherd.” It was all about how kind and loving the “regular folks” needed to be towards our elders.

    I see similar things on Christian news sites, or Christian TV shows.

    On the news sites, about once or twice a month, they will publish these “How to support your pastor” type editorials, and Christian shows will have a panel of 5 or 6 preachers sit around in a circle discussing how hard it is to be a preacher.

    I’ve read studies that say most preachers do find the position hard, yes. A lot suffer burn out and quit after five years. I get that.

    But I see so many pampered, spoiled preachers, the guys who live in mansions and have $65 million jets, I get angry when I see the ‘How To Help Your Preacher’ editorials and that sort of thing.

    They make thousands to millions off the lay persons, mistreat and abuse the lay persons, but they turn around and complain or write books / blogs about how the lay persons need to sacrifice even more for their preacher.

  227. Mr.H wrote:

    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

    I was about to suggest the word “parasite” until I saw you used it.

    In biology, symbiotic refers to any diverse organisms that live together, but in this case, the relationship is not necessarily beneficial to both.

    Parasites, for example, have a symbiotic relationship with their hosts, but only the parasite benefits.

  228. Flicker wrote:

    No, it isn’t being told how to vote. It’s any speech that could be perceived as political, whether is has to do with homosexuality (and gay marriage), abortion, transgender bathrooms in schools, home schooling, parenting, dietary laws, circumcision legislation, or church zoning issues. The list is long. It’s not how you vote, it just talking about these issues that are at risk.
    Just a snippet: “Unsatisfied with violating the rights of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the City of Houston has subpoenaed privileged communications of five pastors (none of them party to the lawsuit) who helped to organize the petition drive. Among other information, the city is requesting communications between the pastors and their attorneys pertaining to the ERO lawsuit, communications between the pastors and their congregants, and even the pastors’ sermons.”
    Not only can’t pastors speak on certain topics, but church leaders can’t even take part privately in the political process without having their private and church-related communications subject to government scrutiny.

    Not true…churches can say quite a bit short of actually endorsing a political candidate. Churches can talk about all sorts of social issues with no problem. But it becomes a problem and the IRS steps in if you endorse a candidate. The cases where the IRS has revoked churches’ tax exemptions for certain periods of time all have to do with specific endorsements of candidates, not issues. And there aren’t that many cases, e.g., Church at Pierce Creek from the 1990s, where the church ran a full page ad endorsing whoever ran against Clinton in one election. I’m also aware (because the church’s pastor makes a big point of saying he’s being persecuted by the IRS) of a Southern Baptist church in Buena Park, CA, that has had a run-in with the IRS over a 2008 endorsement of Huckabee.

    There are pastors out there who run “unregistered churches,” but these tend to be of the sovereign citizen ilk. They don’t believe they have to pay taxes AT ALL and the state can’t have ANY oversight whatsoever, but court rulings have disagreed with them in so many areas. The guy I mentioned above is all butthurt right now because his church owes the IRS over $50,000 but he won’t say *why* (and I think it’s either for the Huckabee endorsement or because he hasn’t been paying income and Social Security taxes for his employees). He ranted about it again today on his Ustream and I told him on his Facebook, “How can I trust you to tell me about Jesus when you won’t tell us why the IRS is levying $50K on your church?”

    *off topic***do not read further if you don’t want to hear a rant** As for the Houston issue, both sides made mistakes in this case. The city was wrong to let a broad-ranging subpoena go out like it did. But the group trying to get a repeal on the ballot was also wrong for not managing their petition drive without fake signatures getting in:

    http://www.click2houston.com/news/judge-rules-houstons-equal-rights-ordinance-petition-signatures-invalid/32430822

    And, as a former resident of Houston (I lived there 10 years and went to law school there), I personally find it abhorrent that Christians are opposed to GLBT persons having the same rights to housing and employment as everyone else. Just My Personal Opinion. It’s not merely about transgender restrooms; it’s about the ability to get a job and have a roof over one’s head, which, I think is pretty basic.

    **end of rant**

  229. @ justin:
    No problem about the name and thank you for the extended answer from someone who has been part of Acts29.

    However, what you describe here @ Gram3 is beyond frightening for people in these churches. There is so much splitting of where you build relationship, and what you might or might not get out of it on a personal level for the one male leader, that I’m not surprised of the sad actions that some pastors resort to.

    I believe that there are some good guys in A29, but I pray they get out before they are eaten alive. Goodness, if a pastor is in A29 but the elders aren’t and the church isn’t, but A29 demands money from the churches, how does any of that even work??? Well, except all the members in the church (including elders) exist to serve the one male leader?

    This is so upside down from scripture.

  230. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    In my newsfeed this morning, one of the headlines was Sarah Palin (former God’s Choice for POTUS) claiming the Duggars are being CRUCIFIED by the Secular Media…

    Live by the sword, die by the sword, I say. Both the Duggars and Palin want to be all in the media, but they don’t want the scrutiny that comes with it. When you’re public figures in the USA, you are fair game, and even MORE SO when you put yourself up on a More Righteous Than Thou pedestal.

  231. @ K.D.:

    I’ve been to a few of the bigger churches in person, the ones with huge video monitors, cool rock bands.

    It is surreal to me and very weird, and I’m Gen X. I’m not that old.

    But I don’t get it. These kinds of churches are trying to hard to be hip and cool they come off as being lame. The whole thing is spectacle and also comes across as being a zoo.

  232. @ justin:

    @ Bridget:

    Justin’s comment not Gram3.

    I tried to refer to it again here and it came up Gram3 again so I’m explaining here. (Gram3 must have some secret powers over the reply quotes.) 😉

  233. Living Liminal wrote:

    It seems that in the eyes of some christians, forgiveness means ‘shut up and take it’.

    Yes, this a hundred thousand times over.

    A lot of Christians are very uncomfortable or reluctant to walk along side hurting people and love them out of whatever pain they’re in.

  234. @ justin:

    That’s very helpful information, justin. Thanks for posting it.

    I think one of the main problems with “associations” and “networks” where they aren’t a denomination is there is supposed credibility without any real responsibility or accountability to the network.

    It’s the same kind of thing that seems to have gone on with the Calvary Chapel movement. It looks sort of like a franchise with logo, doctrinal similarity, etc. But the moment something goes wrong — which has happened too many times in Calvary Chapel churches, and some cases quite spectacular — then you hear “we’re an association/network, not a denomination. We don’t have control over these local churches.”

    In the wake of Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll, a lot more people have ECFA on their radar as a paid membership network where it doesn’t seem so clear that the organization can actually do much more than certify that members have had standard accounting audits/statements and generic “good governance.” Look at some of the churches that are members and it’s rather mind-blowing, in terms of situations where there have been case studies, complaints, instances of alleged spiritual abuse, etc., put forward.

    Someday, I suspect the victims of one of the churches in an association like this are going to find a way to file a mega-lawsuit against the non-denomination network that puts a group of churches on a website as “members in good standing” with their association — but one of their own turns out to inflict immense and undeniable damage in the name of the association. Then what … ?

    Seems these are parts of their own [Fill-in-the-blank] Industrial Complex, where there are relational and perhaps even financial conflicts of interest that keep them protecting the image of the organization. Sad stuff for the Kingdom …

  235. Eagle wrote:

    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. You know you leave TVC and TVC sends out a team to hunt you down.

    I’ve said on previous threads TVC-like churches remind me of Sky Net, the self aware network that sends out cyborgs called T-800s (and other models), in turn called Terminators, that hunt down human targets.

  236. @ numo:

    It’s complicated. My hubby knows how I feel about member contracts. I will never sign one. I want to support him, but it is difficult when I can’t hardly sit through a sermon . . . among other things.

  237. Mr.H wrote:

    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

    A similar example is the cuckoo’s egg, and the illustration seems apt to capture the problem of outsider “networks” co-opting insider money.

    The cuckoo lays an egg in another bird’s nest, then leaves. The other parent birds feed the hatchlings, but when the cuckoo chick is large enough, it pushes the real chicklings out of the nest one by one until it’s the only one left.

    The natural world’s nasty version of “home invasion,” and whoopee! More worms for me.

  238. justin wrote:

    I heard a sermon once where the pastor said we need to be “gospeling” each other. you can’t make this stuff up. What does that even mean?

    You need to be “gospeling” each other? LOL.

    I used to watch the Smurf cartoon show when I was a kid. The Smurfs did the same thing with the word “smurf.”

    Smurf 1 to Smurf 2: “How are you doing today, Smurf 2?,” and Smurf 2 might say, “I’m doing just Smurfy today, Smurf 1, how about you?”

  239. justin wrote:

    Ok back to the point, honestly, there is NO real advantage beyond getting the YRR fresh off of a Passion Conference or seminary to join your church and provide a steady growth stream. I think this is the real reason that pastors are interested in joining the Acts 29 brand.

    None of these speaks to me of being a pastor at all. It speaks of making a name for ones self, becoming popular, being successful, rubbing noses with those you think are worthy, etc., etc.

    If you think about it, there is a real advantage in the minds of those male leaders who choose this path. People don’t take action in a certain direction unless there is a reason. We may not know the reason, but they will know if they ask themselves.

    The fact that only the pastors and A29 get advantage from this association tells me that this has nothing to do with shepherding people.

  240. Gram3 wrote:

    The 10% tithe back to the mothership certainly makes it look more like a multi-level marketing arrangement. And the fact that the elders of the local body have no say over this arrangement contradicts the independence of each church and also the governing authority of the elders of that local church.

    Exactly! I’m assuming most of these churches that get an Acts29 cuckoo planted in their nest as lead pastor have a congregational polity so that forking over the 10% Acts29 franchise fee requires approval of the congregations governing board. And NEVER give the minister control over the church treasury.

  241. Gram3 wrote:

    The 10% tithe back to the mothership certainly makes it look more like a multi-level marketing arrangement.

    And if you’re the original Upline — FURTICK MANSION AND GRINNING ED LEARJET, HERE I COME!

  242. lydia wrote:

    Good luck. this question has been asked of NAMB by many. evidently the way they do the accounting is it comes out of some big pot of money where they don’t differentiate.

    Black Budget or just lumped in with “Other”?

  243. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    The 10% tithe back to the mothership certainly makes it look more like a multi-level marketing arrangement.
    And if you’re the original Upline — FURTICK MANSION AND GRINNING ED LEARJET, HERE I COME!

    It appears that Cashflow Dollar will be getting his Gulfstream after all. His “church” has decided to go ahead with the “aircraft project.” I wish I were making this up.

  244. Gram3 wrote:

    It appears that Cashflow Dollar will be getting his Gulfstream after all. His “church” has decided to go ahead with the “aircraft project.” I wish I were making this up.

    Good grief!!!!

  245. Bridget wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    It appears that Cashflow Dollar will be getting his Gulfstream after all. His “church” has decided to go ahead with the “aircraft project.” I wish I were making this up.

    Good grief!!!!

    Gives new meaning to, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

  246. Doc in Fairhope wrote:

    Is the SBC being transparent with this funding?

    No. However, I have a suggestion. Call the mission board’s central office and ask for a list. Their response should be fascinating.

  247. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    “The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations.”
    I’m not trying to be mean here – I’m really not. But this is such a load of cr@p. What does all this Christian nonsense language even mean? Here is the big “emperor has no clothes” moment – it doesn’t mean anything. I think a lot of these guys just parrot crap that they heard in seminary or wherever without actually thinking about it. Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.

    Good points! I agree with your sentiments.

    Re: “gospel saturation.” I have no idea. I heard “gospel” used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. during my 3 years in Acts 29. I never figured out what it meant to them. From my perspective, as a biblical scholar, “gospel” means good news, and its use in the NT drawn from the book of Isaiah in the OT, where it specifically refers to the “good news” of Yahweh’s victory in battle over his (and his people’s) enemies. So I’m not sure how that specific meaning has been abstracted by the Calvinistas to such an extent. It’s a shame. When a word can mean anything, it means nothing.

    Re: “biblically faithful” – this really means something more like legalism, although Act 29 obviously wouldn’t admit this. The goal is for Acts 29 members to adhere to the specific Neo-Reformed interpretation of the Bible. So, really, perhaps it should be “Calvinistically faithful.”

    Re: “missionally engaged.” This is a mixed bag. I have heard of some Acts 29 churches doing legitimate outreach. At my own previous Acts 29 church, we did nothing. (And the elders were quite defensive about this when questioned). The approach was for members to go “hook” people from their workplace, school, etc. and then bring them into the church – sort of an “attractional” method, I suppose.

  248. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Those are some related thoughts. What ideas have you got cookin’, Mr.H?

    I’ll have to be more of a follower than a leader in this, due to limited experience in this particular area, and also time constraints.

    But I have, in the past, considered how beneficial it would be for there to be some sort of broad (Nicean?) Christian coalition who could provide outside accountability for churches in terms of dysfunction and abuse.

  249. justin wrote:

    But when things don’t go as they should down the road, bad things happen. In 2010 for example, there were a suicide, an overdose, affairs, financial improprieties and other things to “escape” done by Acts 29 pastors. The response by the higher ups in A29 was to do more, connect more, try harder, have more buy in. (double down, dig in their heels, etc).

    Justin, thanks so much for your insights! I could never get a grasp on it but it does sound like an elite form of cult of personality. I had heard of the 10% but only 3rd hand. I also agree with you about the “fear” and “needing the Acts 29 elite few to hold your hand because they are Driscoll godly and get it”. I also understand the whole concept of doubling down without checking to see if you are even on the right road. What a recipe for disaster.

    But what you wrote above sends chills down the spin. It really is like giving whiskey and car keys to boys. They are not ready for that sort of power and when it is “spiritual” power, it is even worse. They have done well keeping much of that sort of thing quiet. Except for vague posts on pastor blogs about how hard it is to pastor and they all need more breaks and nicer congregations. :o)

  250. Melissa wrote:

    In fact, not one single person (male or female) ever approached me to ask why I abruptly stopped attending service or home group. Not the pastor, nor elders, nor anyone in the home group we had been a part of for 2 years.

    We were members of our (not Acts29) former church for over 2 decades, but similar outcome.

    When people had left the church before us, I’d called them and talked to them, got their story. I think one person might have called after we left, to ask us about it. It’s as if two decades of time, commitment, tithing and friendships means nothing.

    (not real friendships, I guess)

  251. Lydia wrote:

    . Except for vague posts on pastor blogs about how hard it is to pastor and they all need more breaks and nicer congregations.

    Well, when you’ve never had a job in the real world, you can delude yourself into thinking everyone out in the real world is always affirming and nice and appreciative of you simply because you exist. Therefore nice church people should be especially nice to you because you are an elder. Part of what we are seeing, IMO, is the fruit of a generation of “everybody gets a trophy” because self-esteem. It’s very rich when this thinking comes from the “it’s all about God’s glory” neighborhood.

  252. mirele wrote:

    Not true…churches can say quite a bit short of actually endorsing a political candidate. Churches can talk about all sorts of social issues with no problem. But it becomes a problem and the IRS steps in if you endorse a candidate.

    Clinton has spoken in Black and White churches when he was a candidate as far back as running in Ark elections. As have other candidates or those who are affiliated with them who speak. There are tons of examples of similar. Sometimes the IRS can be very political, too, sadly.

  253. Someone on this thread or another related one posted a link to an Acts29 church. That church explicitly says that the word “elder” in the NT does *not* mean “older person.” I am being totally serious. They put that on their website. Really.

  254. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    But the moment something goes wrong — which has happened too many times in Calvary Chapel churches, and some cases quite spectacular — then you hear “we’re an association/network, not a denomination. We don’t have control over these local churches.”

    The SBC does this, too. They have autonomous churches yet they pay Russ Moore to speak for them to the world. I don’t get it.

  255. Gram3 wrote:

    Part of what we are seeing, IMO, is the fruit of a generation of “everybody gets a trophy” because self-esteem. It’s very rich when this thinking comes from the “it’s all about God’s glory” neighborhood.

    So true!!!

  256. dee wrote:

    @ numo:
    Glad to hear your voice. I was fixing to call you.

    The ultimate Southernism, even more than “y’all”! I haven’t lived in the South for 20 years and yet it’s still “I’m fixing to…” and people do call me out on it.

  257. Lydia wrote:

    @ Gram3:

    LOL! Just like the Mormons.

    Except the 18-year-old Mormon Elders(TM) I’ve encountered seem to have a sense of humor about it.

  258. Stan wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:

    Just like how Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches are independent?

    Fully independent when it is to their advantage to be fully independent and part of a monolithic bloc when it is to their advantage to be so. Note the one constant in both extremes.

  259. Lydia wrote:

    But what you wrote above sends chills down the spin. It really is like giving whiskey and car keys to boys. They are not ready for that sort of power and when it is “spiritual” power, it is even worse.

    Because (above and beyond Mighty Magick), “Spiritual”(TM) Power elevates everything to Cosmic Importance.

  260. refugee wrote:

    We were members of our (not Acts29) former church for over 2 decades, but similar outcome.
    When people had left the church before us, I’d called them and talked to them, got their story. I think one person might have called after we left, to ask us about it. It’s as if two decades of time, commitment, tithing and friendships means nothing.
    (not real friendships, I guess)

    That’s so crazy to me. I’m sorry that was your outcome. Especially since you had so much more time invested in that church community. You would expect better. More. Perhaps it’s a matter of people not REALLY wanting to know why you left. Cognitive Dissonance. I think in some places, it’s also a matter of open discussion, and pressure is put on members to distance themselves from those who “left the fold.” Such heathens. LOL
    I’ve come to discover in this past year what true, dependable friendship looks like. I actually trust the girlfriends I have outside the denomination and outside the faith MORE than the professed “christians”. I trust them more to listen to my heart and know my desires. To respect my personhood. To not try to change me or “save me.” The ones who claim to be praying and “speaking into my life” (only when I attended the acts29 church) where are they now?

  261. FW Rez wrote:

    Flicker wrote:
    @ FW Rez:
    They outright state that you will not receive the same level of pastoral care if attending but not a “Covenant Partner”. Membership has its privileges!

    Our (Episcopal) rector was fond of saying “Membership has no privileges, only obligations!” Meaning: any visitor or nonmember had full access to any church care they needed/wanted. Also meaning: only sign on if you really want to and are really ready. And certainly no membership contracts.
    Another good line: “The church is the only organization that exists for the sake of those outside of it.”

  262. justin wrote:

    When the network first started building steam, the big “advantage” was the survival rate of A29 churches. MD was telling everyone that 1/2 of churches fell and if you subject yourself to assessment and get the A29 stamp of approval your odds somehow magically go up to 80%.

    The same percentage as the addiction/rehab cure rate claimed by Scientology’s Narconon.

  263. Patricia Hanlon wrote:

    They outright state that you will not receive the same level of pastoral care if attending but not a “Covenant Partner”. Membership has its privileges!

    After watching the pastoral care lived out in a few of these churches, I would consider not having pastoral care a major benefit.

  264. @ Bridget:
    it sounds like a bad situation all round. Are you sure you can’t persuade him to visit some other places with you, or else go on your own?

  265. @ mirele:
    Thanks.

    And I like rants. Generally, at least — and this DOES vaguely pertain to the topic — when a person rants, I know where they stand. And I noticed you didn’t once use the words and phrases like season, radical, sharing, broken-hearted, loving discipline, gospel-driven custodial caring, covenantal shame-based righteousness or saturated — Jonah is the only believer that was ever fully saturated that I can think of off-hand. (Okay, so I made some of these up.)

  266. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    * The oft-quoted slogan of, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches,” goes back about 25 years and comes from … guess who? Missiologist C. Peter Wagner, the uber-leader of the New Apostolic Reformation

    Huh. I heard one of the Bayly brothers say at a conference, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology is families.” (or something to that effect) I believe he was talking about inward-focused, quiverfull, like-minded “believers”.

  267. mirele wrote:

    dee wrote:
    @ numo:
    Glad to hear your voice. I was fixing to call you.
    The ultimate Southernism, even more than “y’all”! I haven’t lived in the South for 20 years and yet it’s still “I’m fixing to…” and people do call me out on it.

    Ladies, it is “fixintuh.” One word, accent on first syllable.

  268. refugee wrote:

    Huh. I heard one of the Bayly brothers say at a conference, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology is families.” (or something to that effect) I believe he was talking about inward-focused, quiverfull, like-minded “believers”.

    Church planting is all about the DNA, but it … uhh … sounds as if the Baylys had a different sort of DNA in mind …

  269. dee wrote:

    Patricia Hanlon wrote:

    They outright state that you will not receive the same level of pastoral care if attending but not a “Covenant Partner”. Membership has its privileges!

    After watching the pastoral care lived out in a few of these churches, I would consider not having pastoral care a major benefit.

    dito

  270. refugee wrote:

    Huh. I heard one of the Bayly brothers say at a conference, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology is families.” (or something to that effect) I believe he was talking about inward-focused, quiverfull, like-minded “believers”.

    Bedroom Evangelism, “Outbreed the Heathen” sub-type.

  271. Gram3 wrote:

    mirele wrote:

    Ladies, it is “fixintuh.” One word, accent on first syllable.

    Yes!

    (I have Yankee friends who think I’m quaint.)

  272. DNA and Church-planting.

    But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. The seed is the Word of God.

    But some plants are seedless.

    You can normally start new plants naturally from seed, but since these plants are infertile and can’t reproduce using seed, the limbs are removed and either rooted or bound to a existing plants, and these new plants have the same DNA and are still seedless.

    So it seems is the way with many of the mega-church and church-planting organizations.

    You can normally start new churches naturally from the Word of God, but since these churches are sterile and can’t reproduce using the Word of God, the members are sent out and are either funded or bound to a existing churches, and these new churches have the same DNA and are still lacking God’s Word.

    I know this is highly arguable, but since so much of modern church-speak is metaphorical, I thought I’d mention it.

  273. Gram3 wrote:

    Someone on this thread or another related one posted a link to an Acts29 church. That church explicitly says that the word “elder” in the NT does *not* mean “older person.” I am being totally serious. They put that on their website. Really.

    Gram3, in 1 Timothy 5, verses 1 & 2, the Greek “presbytero” and the feminine plural “presbyteras” are translated “older man” and “older women.” It’s the same word that in context might be used as elder/leader, but here it’s clearly age-related, nothing more.

    If they’re talking about the elder in 1 Timothy 3, verses 1 & 2, that elder (or overseer, as it’s translated in the NIV and ESV) is episcopos. This is etymologically where we get the English “bishop” but that seems to get ignored. Too Romish, and suggests a visiting leader outside the local church. But “overseer” is a good literal translation of “epi-scope,” whether it’s an elder within or a bishop without. Disclaimer: I’m not a Greek scholar, only learned enough to be dangerous.

  274. Ted wrote:

    Disclaimer: I’m not a Greek scholar, only learned enough to be dangerous.

    Well, why let that stop you! Seriously, I don’t remember if they gave a reference back to 1 Timothy 3 or not. However, it is not clear at all, at least to me, that “overseer” is an office at all. From the other uses, it seems to carry the meaning of visitation, maybe like a visiting nurse or, like in the old days, a visiting physician. Yes, they really did exist once upon a time. In the context of Paul and Timothy, it seems reasonable to think that these would be trusted individuals who were capable of discerning false teaching or practice in the new churches. In any event, they were selected by character traits that had been observed and tested.

    I think that in the culture, most advisors/counselors/overseers would *typically* be older, but obviously Timothy was not. The PastorPups make a big deal out of Timothy as if he is youth is a template for everyone. Also I think it is a stretch to make this an office without first assuming the imperial or temple system as the pattern. That’s my opinion as an official presbuteras. 🙂

  275. justin wrote:

    Being involved in A29 churches, i’ve heard “Gospel” being used a noun, a verb, an adjective (and maybe other parts of speech).

    There is perhaps no word in the English language as versatile as the word “gospel”. It can be used as a transitive verb – John is gospelling Shirley. It can be used as an intransitive verb – John is gospelling. It can be used as an adjective – John is one gospelly dude. It can be used as an adverb – John is gospelling gospelly. In fact, it can be used as almost any word in a sentence – Gospel all them gospelly gospellers from gospel-town!

    -With my apologies to Adam Sandler

  276. Bridget wrote:

    @ numo:

    It’s complicated. My hubby knows how I feel about member contracts. I will never sign one. I want to support him, but it is difficult when I can’t hardly sit through a sermon . . . among other things.

    Good for you for not signing! It is amazing the number of wives at my former church picked up on the fact that there were things seriously wrong with that church. Several of the wives also could not stand the sermons, the church, and knew something was wrong. Several wives refused to even go to that church and went to other churches.

    One wife was *disciplined* by the pastors/elders before the entire church for her refusal to attend the church and *submit* to her husband and the pastors/elders. She was following her Christian conscience and going to another church.

    The wife of one man, who warned her husband that there was something wrong with this church turned out to be correct: her godly husband, a doctor, was excommunicated/shunned for dissenting, in private, with the pastors/elders over how they were leading the church.

    Later it was my turn to be excommunicated/shunned, over a children’s sex offender the pastors/elders knew and gave carte-blanche to at the church, even putting him in positions of leadership and trust.

    Heed those warnings you are getting!

  277. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Hester wrote:
    One of the goals – to become a church-planting church – struck me as odd.
    There does seem to be an obsession with church planting. The PCA pastor I have talked about here before, was talking about planting a church when his own congregation was literally only 5 families/30 people. It was very bizarre.
    Growth for the sake of Growth — the philosophy of the cancer cell.
    And in a Pyramid scheme (Hello, Amway!), you have to keep multiplying downlines so the upline and rise to the top of the list. The more downlines you have, the higher the upline rises.

    Kind of like the worker bees and the Queen Bee.

  278. Bob M wrote:

    Q wrote:
    Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away. Not necessarily the people but the organizations…, including Leadership Network and anything with their fingerprints.
    I agree.
    I have watched church plants in Minneapolis who associate with them. The thing that stands out is the authoritarian aura. The “Lead” pastor is overbearing, rude, obnoxious, and sounds vaguely like Mark Driscoll. They don’t necessarily preach the same doctrine, but the peripheral teachings are all there. Some of them just take his sermons and re-warm them. There is one that has damaged dozens of families and has been exposed for its ruination.

    This has me curious enough to want to go undercover and scope out these Acts 29 folks. I looked up some in my area yesterday. YOUTH is their Hallmark. Young pastors, young folks in charge, young families…And on every Acts 29 site that I viewed, it’s all about PLANTING churches. All ya gotta do is have a *calling* – get a following – raise some funds – find a building – and you, too, can be fill-in-the-blank like Mark Driscoll, or Matt Chandler, or the next Evangelical Rock Star!

  279. Deb wrote:

    @ Janet:
    I had never thought of church planting in quite that way. It does appear that when an Acts 29 church sets up shop they attract people from other churches. I think it’s called ‘sheep stealing’.

    Nah,Janet. It’s called predestination – it was meant to happen and God ordained it.

  280. Deb wrote:

    But, should they have attempted to get her to return to the kiddie porn abuser to begin with? I have read comments in the blogosphere by some who absolutely believe Karen should remain in that sham of a marriage.

    Bob M wrote: Talk about control freak. I predict that you will see this more and more.

    It's time to rally the troops and hunker down in the bunker. This is no time to be chicken and run. Stand strong in the face of adversity, especially from those attack bloggers. Perceived martyrdom goes a long way. Some Christians like to think they're being persecuted. It's a motivation factor and draws in a certain kind of mentality. i.e.-persecution complex.

  281. Arce wrote:

    If the Acts 29 DNA is Driscollian DNA, then the genome contains many, many genes that are defective. And as gene therapy is, at best, a science frontier with limited success rates, the defects will be passed down from generation of plants to generation of plants, ad infinitum. Animal breeders know that you have to stop the breeding of some lines of animals in order to not have the defective gene continue to spread in the herd to the eventual downgrading of the herd. Stopping the planting of more Acts 29 churches is the necessart to the health of evangelical Christianity.
    Just look at how the SBC is morphing, in part due to the influence of Acts 29.

    It’s not going to happen. They are motivated by power and arrogance. We can do it better than any of those other *dead* churches out there. It’s like the first heroine high – keep chasing after the high – an endless cycle of addiction. All cloaked in the name of God.

  282. Regarding Matt Chandler’s sermon/apology, here are my thoughts…
    http://matthewpaulturner.com/2015/06/05/regarding-matt-chandlers-sermonapology-here-are-my-thoughts/

    3) I’m prayerfully skeptical because I have a difficult time believing that TVC’s male-dominated environment could ever be a truly safe place for women to disagree with leadership.

    Nearly every single story of church abuse that I’ve been sent by both past and present TVC members–and there are a couple doozies–involves a female who dared to challenge the ideas or rules of a pastor or elder at TVC.

    …. there’s a valid need for parents with small children who attend TVC to ask the elders: What are you doing to keep my kids safe from sexual predators…

  283. Deb wrote:

    @ Melissa:
    Thanks for sharing your experience at an Acts 29 church. I have no doubt that there are others out there who can relate.

    Deb, I think the stories are going to continue to keep coming in. They might begin with a trickle, and end with a torrent. A few decades ago my husband and I left a Christian sect turned cult. When we left, few were speaking out against the abuse. Now, 44 year after the founding of that sect, hundreds of people have raised their voices against the egregious abuse that occurred there. In fact, a number of former members have sites on the Internet exposing all of the abuse that happened during those years. The same will happen with Acts 29. Right now, it’s just a small leak in the boat.

  284. NJ wrote:

    The sheep stealing aspect of all this that Deb mentioned earlier is one that deserves to be explored further. If this network is primarily attracting existing Christians from other churches instead of preaching the gospel and making new disciples, along with too-rapid church planting, this needs to be brought to the attention of the wider Church. The potential fallout here is huge.

    NJ, I would wager that they don’t consider it “sheep stealing.” They would say most of the people in those other churches are *unregenerate.” And they’d blame it on the pastor’s wimpy preaching, and the feminization of the church.

  285. Gram3 wrote:

    The PastorPups make a big deal out of Timothy as if he is youth is a template for everyone

    There are so many problems with that. For one thing there was no such thing as teenage years back then. Boys were put on the path of their vocation at age 7 and apprenticing in that vocation around age 14. For another, life was hard and many did not make old age so 30 was middle aged in general.

    Another problem for them when trotting out Timothy and age is that Tim was in the trenches with Paul before he was left at Ephesus.

  286. Mr.H wrote:

    Melody wrote:

    My feeling is that Acts 29 is just creating a new denomination with its own very specific distinctions.

    That is exactly what they are doing. But they can’t admit it, or actually call themselves “a denomination” because part of their strategy is to “partner with” (i.e. infiltrate) existing denominations.

    By calling themselves a “network” instead of a “denomination,” Acts 29 has been able to sneak inside of established denominations. As this post demonstrates, tragically this often results in a virtual deconstruction of the former church and the creation of a new church, now strategically positioned inside of a major denomination.

    Is there a biology term for this? I know virtually nothing about biology, but I feel like I’ve seen something on Nat Geo where a parasite lays its eggs into another living organism, and then the eggs hatch and the babies eat their host from the inside out. Anyone else heard of that?

    It’s what viruses do. If I remember my biology, a virus infiltrates a cell, takes over the nucleus, and replaces the cell DNA with its own, causing the cell to reproduce copies of the virus. In the end it destroys the cell.

  287. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    "The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations."

    I'm not trying to be mean here – I'm really not. But this is such a load of cr@p. What does all this Christian nonsense language even mean? Here is the big "emperor has no clothes" moment – it doesn't mean anything. I think a lot of these guys just parrot cr@p that they heard in seminary or wherever without actually thinking about it. Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what "gospel saturated" means. I'll wait.

    When I read that, my first thought was, "Oh, look! Another use of 'gospel' as an adjective." Kind of reduces it to a subordinate type word or concept, doesn't it.

  288. Mr.H wrote:

    Bridget wrote:
    @ Deb:
    I think what he means is that, in reality, the only people who count in an Acts29 church are the pastors. Everything revolves around them, their wants, their desires, their rules.
    To me the members just seem to be there to fund the church (pastors) decisions.
    A couple years into our Acts 29 church plant, our pastors’ bad behavior began to generate some criticism among the members. So – no joke – they got together and preached a sermon series on “How To Treat Your Shepherd.” It was all about how kind and loving the “regular folks” needed to be towards our elders. (Who were all under the age of 30, by the way).
    So yes, you are right. I think that many Act 29 pastors tend to be narcissistic, self-centered, and to honest – somewhat wimpy and thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of Acts 29 pastors have no formal training in how to pastor a church. That is from looking at the Acts 29 website. The Christian sect turned cult that I belonged to had many fellowship houses and the male leaders were all under the age of 30. Testosterone + puerile arrogance + zeal can cause a lot of damage. Like a bull in a china shop.

  289. roebuck wrote:

    Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
    Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.
    It means whatever the speaker of these absurd words wants it to mean – no more, no less. And it can change with circumstances as needed.
    I completely agree with your assessment of that absurd proclamation.

    Since having left Evangelicalism, (note, I’m still a Christian), I’m encountering a whole new language on sites like these. It’s a language Christians didn’t even speak 30 years ago.

  290. Bob M wrote:

    So, I just looked at the search function of Acts 29 churches and found out that a local church that was planted by my church is now called an ACTS29 church. We had been looking at it. Nothing I saw in my visits suggested any relation to Acts 29.

    Sounds like a covert operation to me. Get them sucked in and before they know what happened…wham, they reveal their true identity.

  291. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    refugee wrote:

    Huh. I heard one of the Bayly brothers say at a conference, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology is families.” (or something to that effect) I believe he was talking about inward-focused, quiverfull, like-minded “believers”.

    Church planting is all about the DNA, but it … uhh … sounds as if the Baylys had a different sort of DNA in mind …

    I expect our former church wouldn’t fit the Acts29 model as well. At the end they were a Vision Forumist the family-as-idol body with heavy overtones of Gothard (or maybe Federal Vision) salvation by works, though they had a way of defining it as grace. Very isolationist. They seemed mostly interested in attracting like minded mega families. Male professionals were welcome, I guess, especially as prospective marriage material for all those stay at home daughters in the church, but only if they were malleable (willing to learn from and defer to the patriarchs).

  292. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    refugee wrote:

    Huh. I heard one of the Bayly brothers say at a conference, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology is families.” (or something to that effect) I believe he was talking about inward-focused, quiverfull, like-minded “believers”.

    Bedroom Evangelism, “Outbreed the Heathen” sub-type.

    Nail, meet hammerhead.

  293. Ted wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    Someone on this thread or another related one posted a link to an Acts29 church. That church explicitly says that the word “elder” in the NT does *not* mean “older person.” I am being totally serious. They put that on their website. Really.

    Gram3, in 1 Timothy 5, verses 1 & 2, the Greek “presbytero” and the feminine plural “presbyteras” are translated “older man” and “older women.” It’s the same word that in context might be used as elder/leader, but here it’s clearly age-related, nothing more.

    If they’re talking about the elder in 1 Timothy 3, verses 1 & 2, that elder (or overseer, as it’s translated in the NIV and ESV) is episcopos. This is etymologically where we get the English “bishop” but that seems to get ignored. Too Romish, and suggests a visiting leader outside the local church. But “overseer” is a good literal translation of “epi-scope,” whether it’s an elder within or a bishop without. Disclaimer: I’m not a Greek scholar, only learned enough to be dangerous.

    So what was Timothy? Paul spoke about not letting others disdain his youth, yet he was in a leadership/teaching role, I think?

  294. refugee wrote:

    So what was Timothy?

    An exception. Why else would the people question Timothy’s age/youth if they were not accustomed to and expecting older leadership?

  295. Nancy wrote:

    An exception. Why else would the people question Timothy’s age/youth if they were not accustomed to and expecting older leadership?

    That’s a really important point, Nancy. It looks like these “elders”-doesn’t-mean-older churches have turned the exception into the rule.

    If we think through Scripture, we’ll find all kinds of examples of older-generation mentors with next-generation protégés, where the younger person goes on to notable accomplishments. In such cases, we know the names of mentor(s) and protégé(s). We also see different combinations of men and women together as well. Some examples:

    Naomi and Boaz with Ruth.

    Mordecai with Esther.

    Jeremiah (in person or via his writings) with Daniel and his three Hebrew prince peers.

    Elizabeth with Mary.

    Jesus with John, who was the youngest of the inner circle of 12 disciples.

    Paul and Barnabas with John Mark.

    Paul with Timothy.

    Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos (although I’m not sure of their ages).

    If a relatively young adult aspires to leadership, they’re subject to the same biblical profiling of personal character and relational skills as those who are older. No extra brownie points granted for youth and inexperience — at least not in the Bible, right?

  296. To be honest most church plants are hardly biblical anyway. You don’t see any resemblance in the way the apostles established churches. In fact the apostles didn’t established churches at all. The preached the Gospel of Christ and the assemblies formed as a result in the various cities and regions they went to. Essentially the assembly is the church. What Paul and the others would do next would be to establish who were mature enough WITHIN EACH assembly to be
    elders. They were not looking for jobs
    and seeking salaries. The Acts 29 movement needs to repent of its Nicolatian tendency where present.

  297. Darlene wrote:

    Since having left Evangelicalism, (note, I’m still a Christian)…

    @Darlene,

    Do you and your husband go to church? What denomination? I am expanding my horizons when looking for a new church – won’t be evangelical/9Marks/etc –
    and would appreciate any input about finding a health(ier) church.

  298. Since today is the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, I think we might remember that true Band of Brothers, who gave their lives to bring freedom to a world at war with a great enemy.

    From History .com
    “By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches…

    The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).”

    http://youtu.be/9Opg7LwUdPs

  299. __

    “What Is The Gospel Of Calvinism?”

    hmmm…

    1. God is sovereign over all. (God controls and oversees everything)
    2. Man is completely dead in trespass and sin, therefore can do nothing to save himself.
    3. However, God sent his Son to save the ‘elect’, those that God has ‘chosen’ to save. 
    4. Man has absoutely no say in the matter.
    5. If you are one of the ‘elect’, God will extend irresistible grace to you and save you.
    6. Because you are of the ‘elect’, God will grant you perseverance as to be saved.
    7. Because God has chosen some to be damned and spend eternity in Hell, be thankful that as one of the elect, (if your are chosen by God to be so) that in His sovereignty, he has chosen you for His glory. Amen!
    8. According to Calvinism, if you are of the elect, you have nothing to worry about.
    9. If, per-chance, you are not chose by God to be one of the elect, it is nothing personal, John Calvin has written that God is glorified in such actions. 
    10. God sent His Son to save some, good luck, if you are fortunate enough to be of their number.

    This is the gospel according to John Calvin.

    ATB  🙂

    Sopy

  300. __

    What Is The Heart Of The True Biblical Gospel?

    hmmm…

    1. We are accountable to the God who created us. 

    2. We have All sinned against that God and will be judged. 

    3. But God has acted in Jesus Christ His Son to save us.

    4.  We take hold of that salvation by repenting from sin and having faith in what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

    Believe on the Lord Jesus, God’s dear Son and be You saved?

    huh?

    God so loved You that He gave His only Son, that if you will believe in Him, You shall not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16 (adapted)

    “All those who call upon the Lord, shall be saved.”

    This is the gospel as presented in the New Testament.

    ATB

    Sopy
     

  301. Eagle wrote:

    One other thought after seeing how TVC treated Karen Hinkley I am left wondering if there is a Neo-Calvinist version of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. You know you leave TVC and TVC sends out a team to hunt you down.

    That actually wouldn’t be all that surprising.

  302. refugee wrote:

    Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    “The DNA of all A29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see gospel saturated, biblically faithful, missionally engaged churches planted everywhere possible in all types of locations.”

    I’m not trying to be mean here – I’m really not. But this is such a load of cr@p. What does all this Christian nonsense language even mean? Here is the big “emperor has no clothes” moment – it doesn’t mean anything. I think a lot of these guys just parrot cr@p that they heard in seminary or wherever without actually thinking about it. Go ahead, any commenter. Please tell me what “gospel saturated” means. I’ll wait.

    When I read that, my first thought was, “Oh, look! Another use of ‘gospel’ as an adjective.” Kind of reduces it to a subordinate type word or concept, doesn’t it.

    I don’t think any of the people know what it means.
    Darlene wrote:

    Bob M wrote:

    Q wrote:
    Anything that has MD fingerprints on it needs to go away. Not necessarily the people but the organizations…, including Leadership Network and anything with their fingerprints.
    I agree.
    I have watched church plants in Minneapolis who associate with them. The thing that stands out is the authoritarian aura. The “Lead” pastor is overbearing, rude, obnoxious, and sounds vaguely like Mark Driscoll. They don’t necessarily preach the same doctrine, but the peripheral teachings are all there. Some of them just take his sermons and re-warm them. There is one that has damaged dozens of families and has been exposed for its ruination.

    This has me curious enough to want to go undercover and scope out these Acts 29 folks. I looked up some in my area yesterday. YOUTH is their Hallmark. Young pastors, young folks in charge, young families…And on every Acts 29 site that I viewed, it’s all about PLANTING churches. All ya gotta do is have a *calling* – get a following – raise some funds – find a building – and you, too, can be fill-in-the-blank like Mark Driscoll, or Matt Chandler, or the next Evangelical Rock Star!

    Yes, but you can only do it if you are a man. You have to be married to a man if you want a say in leadership. So, if you are a single woman and perceived as a trouble maker for speaking your mind, then you don’t get a husband.