You Thought Skynet Was Bad? Wait Until You See What Is Coming to a Church Near You

You could go crazy thinking of how unprivate our lives really are – the omnipresent security cameras, the tracking data on our very smart phones, the porous state of our Internet selves, the trail of electronic crumbs we leave every day. Susan Orlean  link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=26775&picture=autumn-forest
Autumn Forest

The end at the beginning: Do not sign any membership agreement that allows them to track your attendance, your expected donations and your participation in church activities. If you do, be prepared to be disciplined. Don't say we didn't warn you. 

Now back to the beginning. I received the following communication from a long time reader. I smiled when I read it because I realized our blogging community has had a positive influence on how she analyzes Christian rhetoric.

I've read your blog for a few years now and found it really helpful. Thanks so much for what you do. My church sent me a login link to this site last week: https://churchapp.co.uk ( ed.-aka ChurchApp)

It was out of the blue and although of course I'd consented to have my details in a paper member's address book, I had not consented to this. Apparently we are moving that address book to here. 

Looking around the site I am quite perturbed at what you can do with it, contacting children without their parent's knowledge? Recording member's attendance! etc.

I find the language quite concerning, 'monitor church health' 'manage adult contacts' etc.

Was wondering what your opinion would be on this, am I going crazy or is this a total privacy violation and showing a worrying controlling attitude to members? 

Members of SBC churches are a bunch of ignorant losers.

Last year, we wrote Start Taking Attendance at Church and Make Those Disobedient Members Show Up! featuring some thoughts by Thom Rainer As everyone knows, the SBC has seen a decline in membership and in baptisms. The Deebs have long contended that there are numerous factors that have influenced this decline not the least of which is the Conservative Resurgence within the SBC. This combined with "hit you over the head" Neo-Calvinism, strict gender roles, a hard line view on young earth creationism, and the rise of the celebrity pastor class in a neat package. Add onto this the never ending focus on gay marriage while conveniently overlooking the divorce statistics in the SBC, bizarre and harsh church discipline (see The Village Church, Capital Hill Baptist Church, etc.).

However, Thom Rainer believes that the real problem with declining membership in the SBC is YOU!


A major decline in conversions leads to a new focus on blaming church members for a decline in attendance at churches.

Interestingly, on 10/4/13, Rainer wrote Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance link. In it, he offers 5 solutions to declining church attendance which he claims have been of help in hundreds of churches which he did not identify. Darn…. it would have been helpful to know which ones to avoid. Focus particularly on #5.

  1. Raise the expectations of membership.
  2. Require an entry class for membership.
  3. Encourage ministry involvement.
  4. Offer more options for worship times.
  5. Monitor attendance of each member.

In that post we quoted Kevin DeYoung who is also deeply concerned about your reasons for skipping church.

The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.


Profit based businesses get it and offer tracking software

This past June we wrote Membership Covenant Abuse: A Rebuttal to Leadership Journal Post on Church Discipline In the post, we introduced you to facial recognition software which will be used to *prove* to your leaders that you were not in church.


And now, here is a new product for church leaders who want to track whether their members are attending enough meetings. Introducing Churchix. No more pretending you were in church since you can easily hide in a church with 6,000 members and 5 weekend services. What a tool to increase the number of people that a church can now *lovingly* discipline!

Churchix is a face recognition event attendance desktop application. Churchix identifies event attending members in videos and photos. All you need to do is enroll high quality photos of your members into the software data base, then connect a live video USB camera or upload recorded videos or photos – and Churchix will identify your members!

Churchix is designed for Church administrators and event managers who want to save 
the pain of manually tracking their members attendance to their events.

First of its kind, Churchix provides you with accurate data on members attendance in your events and services.


Introducing another gospel™ way for *them* to keep track of you.

In business school I learned that,when companies smell a way to make a quick buck on a new product, they will circle the flame like moths. What usually happens is the first few companies make lots of long green. As more enter the business, profits begin to fall and latecomers lose their shirts while early entries see their profits stagnate and eventually fall.

Within a couple of years, I believe that people will rebel at being tracked as well as become incensed that money is being used to keep track of members instead of caring about missions, etc.

Welcome to CHURCH APP.

Here are some of the things this company can do for your controlling church leadership.

1. From the home page: keeping the pastor in control!:

ChurchApp allows unlimited users to manage unlimited amounts of data, from anywhere. Putting you back in control.
Know who's serving where
Small groups: Visualize groups and members, track group attendance, monitor church health.

2. From the reports button of attendance tracking page (at top of page) they know when and where you are!:

If you have organised your church into various sub-groups, then you will love this report. ChurchApp's Attendance Averages report enables you to track attendance and see statistics for each contact group you have created.

If you record your weekly attendance on a person-by-person basis, it's likely you'd like to see that in one clean and simple view. ChurchApp's Attendance Summary report show the last 4-12 weeks of attendance for all your contacts.

 Each report is customisable, allowing you to query tags, dates and the locations of members in your church attendance database.

3. From the features button of attendance tracking-Its all about growth (at tope of page):

Create categories and groups for every area of Church life you need to track. Customise the database management system to gather the information you want — without limits!

ChurchApp allows you to get a clear picture of your church's growth, so you know where and how to invest.

4. From the online giving page: your giving profile:

The Giving module links in to your ChurchApp address book to help build a giving profile for each giver. You can even build a giver profile if they're not in the main Address Book – 

5. Go after those who are not giving:

Do you want to increase the amount of givers who've signed a gift aid declaration? The declarations missing report shows you all givers who don't have an active gift aid declaration.

6. Further help to know who is giving what:

It generates a list of givers, showing the total of all their donations within the time-period chosen.

6. And guess what? You can even choose your own color for the *Donate Button.* Wowza!

TWW Warnings

These applications will lead to more frequent church discipline.

I learned an important lesson in business school. Companies provide goods and services because they detect changing wants and needs. I do not blame the companies who provide these services. They are there to make money and they know that their services are being demanded by controlling churches.

I predict that these applications will be used to go after members who do not toe the line. They will know where you are and where you are not. This will apply to church attendance and small group attendance. They will know how much you are volunteering. They will watch your giving and will question any sort of perceived lack of giving.

We sincerely believe that these programs will be used to discipline members. Your mega church leaders will be able to know where you are and are not, even in a church with 12,000 members. They will have proof that you didn't show up to your last small group meeting, that you are not giving enough to build the next coffee bar and that you are skipping as much church on Sundays as your rarely there celebrity pastor.

If you do not wished to be tracked:

They need permission to track you. Be careful when you sign any membership forms. It is highly likely that there will be a release for the church to track you in those papers. If they track you without your permission, ask to have your name removed from the list. This may mean resigning from membership. You must request this in writing and send it by certified mail for proof.

If they refuse to remove you from membership, they are in violation of the law in the United States which permits you to resign from a voluntary organization.

Let's end with the beginning. This is very important. 

Do not sign any membership agreement that allows them to track your attendance, your expected donations and your participation in church activities. If you do, be prepared to be disciplined. Don't say we didn't warn you. 

 

Comments

You Thought Skynet Was Bad? Wait Until You See What Is Coming to a Church Near You — 329 Comments

  1. It’s so easy to see how this can be misused. My gym has a system that allows you to use a pin # to sign into classes, track your reps and weights on the machines, etc. The gym director strongly encourages everyone to use this system. Supposedly it is secure. But I refuse to use it. I’ve already signed into the gym; they don’t need to see every little thing I’m doing. I can see how easily that information could be used by marketers, insurance companies, etc., in ways that I would not welcome.

    Same goes for church monitoring. This need for control is absurd. There is absolutely nothing of benefit to church members; it’s just a way to give church leaders more data to control the people. I can think of a thousand ways this could be used to invade the dignity and privacy of church members.

  2. Let’s track how many times pastors show up to preach each week-end. Where’s the app for that?

  3. Sheesh. I’m so glad I live in the boonies where most of the churches within a comfortable driving distance are way too small to do this “Big Brother” nonsense!!! How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???

  4. I am having trouble finding the words to describe how much this Sky App nonsense disgusts me. It has come to this in the Church? This is not OK. This is not right at all. This is unacceptable control-freakery, and anyone who remains a member of a ‘church’ that employs such tactics has only themselves to blame.

  5. Even before I scanned the article and rushed to the comments (hey, I am just being honest, OK?), why oh why did I get the feeling that the SBC would show up in the article. Soon to be followed by all kinds of reformed/calvinist church organizations.

  6. Before I finish reading the remainder of the post, I wanted to comment on this part:

    ChurchApp allows you to get a clear picture of your church’s growth, so you know where and how to invest.

    The info has been out there for years that married couples who have children still at home are around only 20% of the U.S. population and as of last year, it was in the news on many a site that single adults now out-number married couples (in the USA).

    Despite the fact there are declining marriage rates and increasing amounts of not-married and childfree, churches have their heads in the sand and continue to organize churches, ministry events, sermons, etc, as though it’s still 1954 and 90% of the population and/or church membership is married with children.

    Even when presented with current demographic info, many churches choose to ignore it anyway. So why would any of them bothers with some of these new apps that track who is showing up?

    Other than using it to track donations and bleed people dry (financially speaking) they sure as heck aren’t going to help adult singles and the childless when they note that 80% or more of their church or city is unmarried and/or childless. They will keep chasing after the married with children couples.

  7. Leila wrote:

    Same goes for church monitoring. This need for control is absurd

    Now, now. You will remember in the Gospels, like in the story of the 99 sheep and the 1 lost one, that Jesus said(*) he used RFID chips and GPS to find the one lost sheep.

    And he said the sheep all had to sign (or make an “X” on the signature line) to agree to be electronically monitored.
    ———-
    *I totally put those words in Jesus’ mouth.

  8. That this post may be prophetic is horrific and would seem unbelievable except for what has already happened to those trying to get AWAY from abusive power and control. They were the ‘canaries in the mine’ . . . those early victims. So we know already that there exists ‘churches’ ready and willing to treat people poorly for the sake of some trademark ‘gospel’ that bears no resemblance to the Good News of Our Lord.

    I’m thinking that these ‘churches’ are very far from ‘safe’ for people who are easily led and intimidated by ‘authority’ and very fearful of public disgrace within their closed communities where they are known by others in the same organization . . . I don’t know how these innocents can be protected from their own naivete but I can see how it wouldn’t take much to cow these poor sheep.

    Thank God for TWW and it’s vigilance. Something evil this way comes. And it feeds on power and control over those who don’t know how to cope with this kind of abuse in the context of a ‘church setting’ they thought they could trust for themselves and their children. God have mercy. There is the presence of real evil in this kind of abuse . . . that is what is so frightening.

  9. I said on much older threads it’s only a matter of time before these types of churches either chain members to the pews or start churning out T-800 (Terminator) cyborgs programmed to track down wayward members.

    You decide to skip church one Sunday (or are too sick to go), and I can see a Terminator dispatched to your house, tossing you over its shoulder and saying in an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent,
    “You are in failure to comply with church protocol. I have been directed to bring you in.”

    Hmm. I guess this might make Deb, Dee, and the rest of us on this blog Sarah or John Connors?

  10. What really creeps me out about the Church App is the fact that data about giving is included. I wouldn’t want to go to a church where any staff member can see how much I give any time they want. I can also imagine software glitches and suddenly that info would be released to the entire membership. What a nightmare.

  11. Christiane wrote:

    Thank God for TWW and it’s vigilance. Something evil this way comes. And it feeds on power and control over those who don’t know how to cope with this kind of abuse in the context of a ‘church setting’ they thought they could trust for themselves and their children. God have mercy. There is the presence of real evil in this kind of abuse . . . that is what is so frightening.

    You have voiced my feelings exactly. There is nothing to be done about it besides educating people and shining a light in these dark places – they can’t be allowed to just operate with impunity! The darkness hates the light – so pour it on!

    What they do in the name of sweet Jesus just breaks my heart, as it breaks my heart that people fall for it. It is totally of The World, to say no more.

  12. Nancy2 wrote:

    How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???

    At first glance I got a little chuckle, but on second glance I think it’s not so far fetched! I mean, who’da thunk we’d be seeing this type of “control-freakery” as roebuck put it even a year ago!?!

    Unbelievable!

  13. This sort of power and control is everywhere. Companies are using it on their employees and we have a generation coming up that knows absolutely nothing about privacy as they tweet every thought or A picture of every meal they eat. They check the box on terms of agreement for every app they download without reading it. And our government will have records of every illness and bad habit.

  14. Oops hit send too soon. I am not convinced that the younger generation will have as big of a problem with this is some might think. I think they will be very used to this sort of thing.

  15. Last neocal I attended the pastor monitored tithing, had a list of exactly what everyone gave, and refused to allow anyone to do anything in “leadership”, including teaching a Sunday School class, if they were not giving a sufficient amount as unilaterally adjudged by pastor.

  16. roebuck wrote:

    The darkness hates the light – so pour it on!

    well, I just posted the following over on Thom Rainer’s blog, so I hope it helps if it gets through moderation . . . at least I tried:

    “Christiane Smith says

    October 30, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    if the goal of a Church is that its people have to be forced or intimidated into ‘staying’, then said ‘Church’ is dying from something more serious than the departure of its members

    Look deeper . . . what would cause leaders of such a Church to inflict ‘discipline’ that involves abuse ? . . . find THAT darkness and eliminate it, and such a Church will be able to come back into the light of Christ again”

  17. Used to attend a mega church. We skipped giving to them for a month to assist a church plant who needed it more. I started getting emails inviting me to “classes” on giving. Coincidence????

  18. Nancy2 wrote:

    Sheesh. I’m so glad I live in the boonies where most of the churches within a comfortable driving distance are way too small to do this “Big Brother” nonsense!!! How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???

    Wha?? I found this Big Brother tracking thing to be far worse at small churches in the boonies. In fact, every abusive, controlling, micromanaging pseudo-Christian cult I’ve talked about attending on this forum was a tiny church of 70 regular attenders or less in a small town.

  19. I’ll tell you what’s coming: microchips implanted in members to track their coming and going, “for the sake of the Gospel”, of course.

  20. I think for many churches the problem comes from wanting, for good reasons, a better way to stay connected with people. Even in a medium sized church sunday mornings for staff are hectic days, it can be easy to not catch that “Joe” has been not showing up….maybe there is soemthing wrong going on and I would like to know, because I care. I do personally get a bit wary about tracking money by the staff. Our sr pastor deliberately avoids all knowledge of giving so that it can’t ever even subconsciously effect him.

    I work at a fairly large church and of our biggest internal issues is effeciently knowing what is going on with people in a varieIty of places within the church. When I came on staff my responsibility is for people post college through 30’s. I asked for a list of those specific people so I could connect….they had no way to actually make that list. So…it took me literally months to “track” down people. not for anything specific other than being able to say, “hey, I’m Adam, just wanted to connect with you and see how you are doing”

    We also have issues with a couple hundred volunteers on any given sunday and we constantly run into issues where “sally” is a greeter but also signed up to sing….and we don’t realize it until that morning. We would love an effecient way to track stuff like that.

    All of that to say…I think the skynet degree is not ok…but I can understand how good intentions could lead a church down a path where they adopt a program that will be abused.

  21. Adam Borsay wrote:

    but I can understand how good intentions could lead a church down a path where they adopt a program that will be abused.

    I want to reiterate that it WILLLLL be abused. If not today, eventually. Someone at some point will start using the tools in a way you didn’t intend to initially.

    I just want a way to send an email to all “men” “under 40” for “young mens bible study” and “paintball”.

  22. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I want to reiterate that it WILLLLL be abused. If not today, eventually. Someone at some point will start using the tools in a way you didn’t intend to initially.

    I had this one professional job where the bosses wanted to implement time charts. They wanted us to start accounting how we spent our time. Nobody on staff wanted this, for various reasons. I suspected from the start it would be used against us, to punish us by the one Evil Boss.

    They told us the first meeting they would never use the time sheets against us.

    But guess what happened? Yep, I called it right. In the ongoing months, Evil Boss would nit pick over our time sheets (we had to photo copy them, turn them in every Friday). She would use them to scold us, pressure us, complain we were giving too much time to Project X and not enough to Y or what have you.

    I despised those time sheets with a holy passion. We were told by the bosses that the time sheets were going to be for a good purpose and not be used against us…
    But they ended up being a time wasting nuisance and used against us. I can see these church app things that track donations and attendance being the same way.

    I know I’ve said this before, but I’m not understanding the obsession with going to church meetings.

    I am such a home body couch potato and an introvert you’re lucky if I show up to your church once or twice per year, let alone every single service or pot luck. I would gladly tell these control freak churches to go get bent if they started hounding me about how often I do or don’t show up.

  23. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I think for many churches the problem comes from wanting, for good reasons, a better way to stay connected with people. Even in a medium sized church sunday mornings for staff are hectic days, it can be easy to not catch that “Joe” has been not showing up….maybe there is soemthing wrong going on and I would like to know, because I care. I do personally get a bit wary about tracking money by the staff. Our sr pastor deliberately avoids all knowledge of giving so that it can’t ever even subconsciously effect him.
    I work at a fairly large church and of our biggest internal issues is effeciently knowing what is going on with people in a varieIty of places within the church. When I came on staff my responsibility is for people post college through 30’s. I asked for a list of those specific people so I could connect….they had no way to actually make that list. So…it took me literally months to “track” down people. not for anything specific other than being able to say, “hey, I’m Adam, just wanted to connect with you and see how you are doing”
    We also have issues with a couple hundred volunteers on any given sunday and we constantly run into issues where “sally” is a greeter but also signed up to sing….and we don’t realize it until that morning. We would love an effecient way to track stuff like that.
    All of that to say…I think the skynet degree is not ok…but I can understand how good intentions could lead a church down a path where they adopt a program that will be abused.

    The problem is the model of a handful of self-anointed “leaders” trying to care for all that flock, as if they had the right, ability, competence or insight to even attempt it (they don’t). When head pastors and associate pastors decide to fire themselves and get real, productive jobs and step down and become just plain sheep, submitting to other sheep, then at that point the body can start doing the work that a handful of harried, busy on Sunday pastors are presently attempting and then it just might get done. Your model is garbage, harmful, foolish, destructive. Until that changes, forget it.

  24. Dan from Georgia wrote:

    why oh why did I get the feeling that the SBC would show up in the article. Soon to be followed by all kinds of reformed/calvinist church organizations.

    I don’t know. Perhaps you have some thoughts you could share with us?

  25. Nancy2 wrote:

    How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???

    I’m all for fitting the pastor with one so the congregation can track him.

  26. Law Prof wrote:

    The problem is the model of a handful of self-anointed “leaders” trying to care for all that flock, as if they had the right, ability, competence or insight to even attempt it (they don’t).

    I’ve seen other people raise the point if not here on TWW on other sites that the mega church problem creates all sorts of problems, one of which being the preacher doesn’t personally know each member.

    I’ve seen people argue on other sites that churches should grow no larger than 200 – 300 people, that way the preacher will more of less at least know the names of most (or all?) of the members.

    Maybe it is kind of pointless to go to a church where nobody knows who you are?

    On the other hand, I get a little anxious if church people know my personal business. Some of them are judgy judgingtons who will chew you out when you share your Personal Stuff with them. So it can be comforting to attend a church where you can slip in and out and not be known too closely.

  27. @ Daisy:

    I should have proof read that before hitting “post” on that last comment. It contained all sorts of weird mistakes.

    I said, “on other sites that the mega church problem creates all sorts of problems…”

    I meant, “on other sites that the mega church trend creates all sorts of problems…”

  28. Daisy wrote:

    I am such a home body couch potato and an introvert you’re lucky if I show up to your church once or twice per year, let alone every single service or pot luck.

    Me too, Daisy! That’s why I’m so grateful for E-Church here at TWW!

  29. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I think for many churches the problem comes from wanting, for good reasons, a better way to stay connected with people. Even in a medium sized church sunday mornings for staff are hectic days, it can be easy to not catch that “Joe” has been not showing up….maybe there is soemthing wrong going on and I would like to know, because I care. I do personally get a bit wary about tracking money by the staff. Our sr pastor deliberately avoids all knowledge of giving so that it can’t ever even subconsciously effect him.
    I work at a fairly large church and of our biggest internal issues is effeciently knowing what is going on with people in a varieIty of places within the church. When I came on staff my responsibility is for people post college through 30’s. I asked for a list of those specific people so I could connect….they had no way to actually make that list. So…it took me literally months to “track” down people. not for anything specific other than being able to say, “hey, I’m Adam, just wanted to connect with you and see how you are doing”
    We also have issues with a couple hundred volunteers on any given sunday and we constantly run into issues where “sally” is a greeter but also signed up to sing….and we don’t realize it until that morning. We would love an effecient way to track stuff like that.
    All of that to say…I think the skynet degree is not ok…but I can understand how good intentions could lead a church down a path where they adopt a program that will be abused.

    People who are devoted to the well being of each other stay connected in a myriad of ways. They don’t farm it out for “leaders” to do for them. What you are suggesting is not the Body of Christ. And that is the problem.

    Church is not about micromanaging a persons spiritual and social life by leaders.

  30. Bill M wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???
    I’m all for fitting the pastor with one so the congregation can track him.

    Now you are talking. Let’s track his internet usage, too.

  31. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    I just want a way to send an email to all “men” “under 40” for “young mens bible study” and “paintball”.

    Couldn’t these types of events be announced on Sunday and “sign-up” sheets provided on a bulletin board?

  32. Well, Orwell’s dystopia did have telescreens all over the place, no?. Glad I don’t own a ‘smart device’ and have an old fashioned flip phone like Reddington’s in the TV hit Blacklist.

  33. Bill M wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:
    How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???
    I’m all for fitting the pastor with one so the congregation can track him.

    “Sure Pastor, I’ll consent to being monitored, right after you turn on your cell phone locator and authorize me to access it”

  34. Law Prof wrote:

    Your model is garbage, harmful, foolish, destructive. Until that changes, forget it.

    I know that you are an educated, intelligent and thoughtful commenter, but on this particular topic I would respectfully disagree. The model isn’t the problem, its the people in charge that are the problem. I have been a pastor for a church under 100, churches in the mid 100’s and now on staff at a church of a couple thousand. The same problems and issues exist at ANY size of congregation.

    An unhealthy model, at any size, is the expectation of singular control. A healthy model is shared leadership and investment into people. I could be, based on experience and skills, a senior pastor of a mid to large sized church, but I far prefer being just a body on the staff at a large church. From being in the trenches I see a much greater degree of member care saturation(aka each person who attends cared for and engaged with) at this large church than was feasible at significantly smaller churches. You have never heard of our sr pastor because after going on 40 years at the same church he has never written a book, written a column, spoken at a conference or visited as a guest pastor other large churches. Even though he is by far the most gifted teacher on the staff he shares teaching with a rotating cast of “jr” staffers and serves elsewhere on Sunday mornings. Last year I am not sure if he preached much more than half the time.

    There are hundreds of “large” churches like ours who no one is even aware of because we just keep silently plodding along serving people at our church and in our community. Our mantra is, “if we disapeared tomorrow, would anyone in our town care”. And if the answer is “no”, then we got to change what we are doing.

    Some of the most dysfunctional churches I have seen are small ones. We just are never aware of the weekly implosions that are occuring thanks to domineering ego maniac pastors and/or unhealthy church members because they are small.

    Models are rarely the problem. The people running them are. Find humble, God honoring leaders and regardless of size, theological secondary positions, denomination, or style, you will have a great church. But even if all the other stuff is “right”, self-serving selfish petty leaders will make it a living hell for everyone involved.

  35. Victorious wrote:

    Couldn’t these types of events be announced on Sunday and “sign-up” sheets provided on a bulletin board?

    In a church with more than a few hundred people, if you announced on Sunday morning EVERYTHING that was going on, you wouldn’t have time for anything else. And, most of those announcements are only applicable to small subsets of those in attendance. Being able to communicate to the people who specifically would be engaged with that particular “thing” is of great value. The only things we announce on Sunday mornings are events that effect everyone.

  36. @ Daisy:
    They need to know how to invest the budget on marriage Bible studies to get all the single women married. If they preach that message often enough, singles spontaneously get married.

  37. Lydia wrote:

    They don’t farm it out for “leaders” to do for them. What you are suggesting is not the Body of Christ.

    I agree and don’t agree as well. Even in the first church the Apostles “farmed out” different aspects of “member care”. A healthy church doesn’t expect and set up for a senior pastor to be the end all and be all of the church. A healthy church has a healthy pastor who equips the people of the church to serve one another (by training and example).

    Something that is always been true of people, but growing increasing in “practice” is our need to be cared for and to have friendship, but our closing ourself off from the world. Thirty years ago if you DIDN’T go to church you would feel completely disconnected, so you went, and rolled up your sleeves and came to know people and be known by them. Today, we can conduct all of our relationships through a computer screen and never really be known. THe people who MOST need people to build into them are also the MOST likely to “hide”. It’s not about micromanaging, or, keeping up numbers…its recognizing the intrinsic worth of the indiviudal and pursuing them because they matter.

  38. Law Prof wrote:

    Wha?? I found this Big Brother tracking thing to be far worse at small churches in the boonies.

    Even at my church (average attendance: 95), we can pay tithes/make donations via electronic banking transfers.
    On one road, you can leave one town (pop. 2,172), drive 10 miles and pass my house …… drive 14 more miles and pass my church ….. drive another 6 miles and enter the next town (pop. 4,423).

  39. My point..in part…. so does the church share this information with.. George Soros, UN, IRS etc etc etc.

  40. I am truly sorry for what I have to say/write now, because I love my Christian brothers and sisters, including those of you from the States. Indeed I became a Christian here in Hong Kong very much because the Holy Spirit lead a wonderful bunch of America ladies, as well as other nationalities, to pray for me.
    Yet I am now brought to having to confess that I am finding American Christianity exhausting! Not, I hasten to add, Christians, just the institutions!
    And I am brought to my kness praying for what is happening; and praying that these issues do not become part of our ‘church’ life outside of the US.
    God bless you all who are fighting the great fight for Him AND common sense in your churches.

  41. Bill M wrote:

    I’m all for fitting the pastor with one so the congregation can track him.

    Random thought: my daughter had her vet put a microchip in her dog so that she can track him on her cell phone when he jumps the chain-link fence. (Big grin, here!)
    Victorious wrote:

    Couldn’t these types of events be announced on Sunday and “sign-up” sheets provided on a bulletin board?

    That’s what we do —- way too redneckish for the hipsters. We have church bulletins that are printed out and made available every Sunday.
    Jamie Carter wrote:

    They need to know how to invest the budget on marriage Bible studies to get all the single women married.

    Might help if they allowed women to dicuss the lessons and participate in classes that are NOT gender segregated. Hey, how much money does it take to test that theory??? Kinda hard for a guy to get to know a purty gal in a setting where the gal is not allowed to speak! (This from a woman who met neither her deceased husband nor her current husband at church!)

  42. This kind of monitoring is ridiculous.

    But we should project these unhealthy behaviors only on churches where we know them to be used.

    Projecting the use of this product to churches of a denomination or a particular theological persuasion is not thoughtful.

    However, I look forward to the identification of particular congregations that are doing this.

  43. Adam Boursay:

    You present some interesting challenges that earnest church staff face today.

    Some people have interesting ideas about THE model of church that is legitimate and all the others are wrong. That kind of limited thinking has been around since the first century.

    I wish you the best as you serve, and am glad for your sensitivity to the abusive nature of these products. I hope that your sensitivity is shared by others in your congregation so that there is no technological or other abuse there.

  44. @ Clarissa:

    “Yet I am now brought to having to confess that I am finding American Christianity exhausting!”
    +++++++++

    I know what you mean, Clarissa. i hope your area does not import or accept exports of this. I no longer attend largely because of that very thing. i was so busy, so preoccupied, so wound up that i had nothing left for my kids, my neighborhood… my neighborhood. how ridiculous that all i have to offer, all that God can do with me as a vessel, is locked up in the insular church community, for its own sake and to keep it going. far from where I live. my neighborhood — that’s where i focus my energy now. where i live. as proud owner of my own spirituality and faith.

  45. Christiane:

    Great comment on the Rainer blog.

    There are some who lack an understanding of the importance of fellowship and there are those who can be undisciplined, but I agree with you. If a local church offers the Good News and is a place of love, you won’t be able to keep people away.

    I, too, would put my energies toward seeing that the church is the kind of place it should be rather than brow beating.

  46. Anonymous wrote:

    However, I look forward to the identification of particular congregations that are doing this.

    Mush agreed, it would be great if a mole at ChurchIX or ChurchApp leaked their subscriber list. It would certainly fulfill the criteria of shining a light to reveal the true nature of some “leaders”.

  47. Law Prof wrote:

    I’ll tell you what’s coming: microchips implanted in members to track their coming and going, “for the sake of the Gospel”, of course.

    LOL, just imagine. “God already knows where you are and what you’re doing…..why can’t your spiritual leadership know? Are you trying to hide something?”

  48. I wrote a post about how celebrity pastors become divisive. I talk about Mark Driscoll, myself, and a member from Redeemer Arlington who tried to get me involved. I also discuss the launch of Paul and Jonna Petry’s Joyful Exiles and how that affected things. The point of the post is to explore how Neo-Calvinists worshipped Mark Driscoll and made him their God. How sad it is when religion is just as destructive as drugs or alcohol.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/how-celebrity-pastors-become-divisive-mark-driscoll-andrew-white-eagle-and-the-launch-of-paul-and-jonna-petrys-joyful-exiles/

  49. Jamie Carter wrote:

    They need to know how to invest the budget on marriage Bible studies to get all the single women married. If they preach that message often enough, singles spontaneously get married.

    Is THAT how it works? 😯 🙂

    But yeah, in all seriousness, I’ve actually seen a small number of marriage-obsessed Christian blogs that actually think that churches should preach on marriage even more than they already do, because not only will this approach 1. supposedly attract more single adults but it will somehow 2. get them married.

    I have no idea how focusing on marriage any more than they already do (which is constant) is going to get any one married, and it actually causes singles to bail, to want to avoid church.

  50. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Models are rarely the problem. The people running them are. Find humble, God honoring leaders and regardless of size, theological secondary positions, denomination, or style, you will have a great church. But even if all the other stuff is “right”, self-serving selfish petty leaders will make it a living hell for everyone involved.

    I will respectfully disagree. The model of having a “leader” rather than being a servant is inappropriate. I’ve now had the experience to see humble men come into these positions of “leadership”, i.e. power, and be corrupted by it. They became controlling, proud, and arrogant. Yes, there appears to be a larger crop of narcissists coming out of pastor schools of late, but the flawed system is what is attracting them.

  51. __

    Addendum: “Narrow Is Da Road…”

    ICU?

    hmmm…

      These calvinesta churches have apparently already got youze (their members)on the ‘highway’ to a multitude of 501(c)3 religious abuse; whats next is anyones guess…

    huh?

    forget da member$?

    huh?

      These new book$roger$ Calvinist Celebrity Pastor$ ™ are leading all these poor calvinesta teething ‘church’ pastorial ba$tards to the promise (confrence) land…

    Their ‘jesus’ is taking them on a one way ride?

    …don’t stop um?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D3rtFfGmH6Q

    🙁

  52. Hebrews 13:17
    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

    Once again TWW is demonstrating through this latest post their total lack of understanding of true gospel-centered Christianity. If your church leaders deem that software which tracks members attendance and giving helps them keep better watch over members souls than they have a God-given mandate to utilize that software. According to the Scripture passage above church members need to joyfully submit to their leaders decision to use this software. Furthermore, there should be no groaning about it (way too much groaning is evident from many comments on this site.)

    I also fail to understand the opposition to face-recognition software and cameras placed in strategic locations throughout the church. These are simply additional gospel-centered tools that help church leaders keep watch over your souls. Additionally, TWW often writes about child abuse in churches. Think of the possibilities to safeguard your children afforded by the implementation of face-recognition software and cameras. Photos of convicted sexual predators (these photos could be obtained from law enforcement as well as web-sites such as “Stop Baptist Predators”) could be loaded into your software and cameras strategically located in the church parking lot could alert you to the incoming danger prior to the abuser gaining access to your building.

    Also of possible interest to your faithful readers is an upgrade currently being developed for ChurchApp software which will allow church leaders to both identify potential members who show promise of developing into future church leaders as well as identifying members who pose a danger of sowing seeds of disunity within the body. This upgrade will integrate seamlessly with current ChurchApp software. Members will not even notice its presence.

    This new gospel-centered tool can easily be implemented simply by gaining the consent of members via a new clause added to church membership contracts. Once members sign off on this new clause church leaders will be able, with a few simple keystrokes, to bring up key information tailored to preferences set by church leadership. So, for example, church leaders will be able to determine if you have signed up to attend Together 4 the Gospel conferences, placed orders for good gospel-centered books recommended by church leaders, or downloaded and listened to sermons by such inspirational leaders as John Piper or C.J. Mahaney. Once church leadership has identified members who have done these types of activities positive reinforcement can be given and these winsome individuals can be groomed for future leadership positions.

    Conversely, members can also be identified who make a habit of routinely visiting blog sites such as TWW or other divisive/ subversive websites. Church leaders are then alerted to closely monitor these individuals and who they associate with as they are likely divisive individuals. Armed with this information church leaders can then closely check the divisive members attendance and giving records and build a strong case for church discipline with the intended outcome of excommunication to rid your church of divisive members.

  53. @ Jim Challies:
    Jim, if you know if any churches who are looking for computer people to integrate those programs, let me know, please!!! My son-in-law is an expert in virtual software. He makes his living setting up and programming new systems. My daughter is almost through with all of her certifications in programming. Iwould love to see the havoc we could cause in the church leadership! ; )

  54. Even if this weren’t a ridiculous, offensive idea (it is), what makes folks think the data mined from attenders and members will be secure? There’s hardly a week that goes by without another story in the news about data leaks from banks, health care systems, intelligence targets…all of which know vastly more than the average church staff about digital security.

  55. Jim Challies wrote:

    Furthermore, there should be no groaning about it (way too much groaning is evident from many comments on this site.)

    Not on this comment, great stuff Jim. I’m looking forward to the new upgrades that will give the anointed greater control over my wayward life. Is there a pre-release version? Can I sign up to be a beta tester?

  56. Daisy wrote:

    On the other hand, I get a little anxious if church people know my personal business. Some of them are judgy judgingtons who will chew you out when you share your Personal Stuff with them. So it can be comforting to attend a church where you can slip in and out and not be known too closely.

    As I’ve shared on here in the past, I have my own reasons why I don’t share personal stuff with church folks (but they overlap with your reasons). I reserve sharing of personal issues for my much more understanding group of “nominally” Christian friends, and, of course, you all here on the blog.

    If I were feeling cantankerous, it’d be fun to go somewhere that has implemented Churchix, connect my phone to their guest WiFi upon entering the building, and browse to TWW. The fun would be doubled if someone were on hand in the control room to record the warning sirens going off. 😉

    (That scenario is not technically possible, but speaking as an IT guy who’s familiar with the analytics that you can get from enterprise-grade WiFi systems, it’s not as far fetched as you’d think…)

  57.   __

    Tommorows$hockshop: “Back To Da Church Future: “Wheel’d, Rolling, N’ Multi-Chair’d Access’d?” ™

    hmmm…

      A ‘healthy’ (c) christian church in the United States in the future IMHO will have no church building, have no 501(c)3 incorporation, ‘demand’ no tiths, have no central office of ‘religious control freaks’, won’t use the bible ta make stuff up to use ta get Kind Folks ta do bad or weird stuff, won’t make Paul the Apostle’s stuff into a sticky theological rote noughous pabulum compulsivity system, whew! , won’t require membership ageeements,won’t chase kind folks down who ‘choose’ to leave, and the ‘real’ person of Jesus will really, really mean something, and they probably won’t need insurance coverage for lawsuits, or no fancy lawyers none neither… Cough Cough!
    …back to da NewTestament?

    Dream on ?

    ‘BattleFront’ ?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V2xp-qtUlsQ

    When you pray in earnest ta Jesus, ‘faith’ takes over to see you through…, hum, hum, hum…one day, probably, you’re gonna need it!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HKh6XxYbbIc

    hmmm…

    @ 88 proverbial miles per hour…you’re gonna see some ‘serious’ stuff…

    “…think da best, plan for da worst?”

    Yep.

    Datz what I do.

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    Comic relief: “Back To The Church Future Theme Song”, on hard drives” 🙂
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r-kEtQvaqwI

    😉

  58. I wouldn’t last a day in a church that monitored everything I do. For one thing, what I give is between me and God – I give in cash and don’t get a receipt for taxes. I also don’t give exclusively to a local church, I have other ministries/charities I give to. I also have health issues and when I was going to a local church I missed quite a few Sundays because of them. I can’t believe there are people (Jim Challies & Bill M) here actually advocating for this Orwellian approach and implying objecting to it is rebellion. You’ve been brainwashed is all I can say.

    I’ve only seen one good thing come out of database tracking software for churches – one that was designed to track people who answered alter calls. This helped the church to keep track not only of new Christians who came for help and ensure no one fell through the cracks, but weed out some of those who had a habit of showing up periodically and doing the whole thing over again. They also have a database for their food giveaways as the government requires documentation for USDA food given, not to mention the folks that were going through the lines multiple times and then selling the food. I sincerely hope they don’t expand this.

  59. Dee, just a side note that I am praying for you and your family. I am a caretaker for just one elderly parent and I don’t know how how you manage everything. Please take time for yourself too.

  60. Josh wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    On the other hand, I get a little anxious if church people know my personal business. Some of them are judgy judgingtons who will chew you out when you share your Personal Stuff with them. So it can be comforting to attend a church where you can slip in and out and not be known too closely.
    As I’ve shared on here in the past, I have my own reasons why I don’t share personal stuff with church folks (but they overlap with your reasons). I reserve sharing of personal issues for my much more understanding group of “nominally” Christian friends, and, of course, you all here on the blog.
    If I were feeling cantankerous, it’d be fun to go somewhere that has implemented Churchix, connect my phone to their guest WiFi upon entering the building, and browse to TWW. The fun would be doubled if someone were on hand in the control room to record the warning sirens going off.
    (That scenario is not technically possible, but speaking as an IT guy who’s familiar with the analytics that you can get from enterprise-grade WiFi systems, it’s not as far fetched as you’d think…)

    You are my kinda guy.

  61. This wouldn’t even be ok if the pastors had to give a detailed account of how they spend their working day. Come to think of it, make them produce a detailed timesheet of al their work activities on the church’s dime. And no, “deep thinking on the meaning of double predestination” or “spreading the gospel™ on twitter” while sitting at a starbucks doesn’t count.

    ISTM that the only way to stop this is to hit them where it hurts – money. It will only stop if lots of members resign their membership citing the surveillance as their reason for doing this. And if people leave or decline to become members explicitly for the same reason.

  62. Sorry, for another post, just wanted to apologize to Bill M for including him in my 1st post, I misread his reply to Jim Challies.

  63. @ Jim Challies:
    Oh dear. Looks like this one was taken in by the Challies Clone App. I’ve read the Al Mohler App forces you to wear a suit & tie everywhere you go, and the Piper App contains a Scrabble Cheat.

  64. Did anybody figure out if the IX at the end of “Churchix” is a shibbolethic reference to 9 Marks?

    An app like this would probably be equally useful for monitoring attendance in large university classes. I wonder if anybody thought of this market? Maybe I should send them my resume…

    If I were one of these pastors, I wouldn’t use the app to go after people who weren’t giving–I’d focus on the people who were, and maybe prime the pump a little. Also, I’d have less interest in young singles or couples than in older, wealthier clients who might leave me a bequest.

  65. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – these churches have painted themselves into a corner. Their cultural/theological model is (by their conception) immutable and unchangeable, but it is no longer shared by a growing majority of the population. Their cultural model already biases them towards authoritarian solutions to begin with. And memories of greater cultural influence help generate fear of greater loss and resentment of their current losses. To me, this adds up to a recipe for repeated doubling down on the old paradigms, increased hostility to outsiders, and increased attempts to keep those they still have.

    To make a long story short, I’m saddened but not surprised.

  66. Victorious wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    Adam Borsay wrote:
    I just want a way to send an email to all “men” “under 40” for “young mens bible study” and “paintball”.
    Couldn’t these types of events be announced on Sunday and “sign-up” sheets provided on a bulletin board?

    These churches are just too darn big…..too much money, too much technology bought with said money.

  67. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I just want a way to send an email to all “men” “under 40” for “young mens bible study” and “paintball”.

    Here’s the problem…what if there’s a “man” who’s 41 or 42 who might want to participate? Or (God forbid) there’s a woman who would love to play?

    I see a bit of contradiction in the supposed “solution” or benefits of this type of program. If the care and nurturing and edification of the saints is truly the focus, how is spending 15 minutes on a Sunday for announcements of interest to the entire congregation “too much” time? Maybe cutting a 45-min. sermon to 30-min. wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, announcements of special events show an effort toward a family-type environment rather than a selective invitation based on gender and/or age.

    Just my opinion.

  68. Lydia wrote:

    I am not convinced that the younger generation will have as big of a problem with this is some might think. I think they will be very used to this sort of thing.

    Oh, absolutely, and the younger do not have to be that much younger. For example a passel of my folks went to Disney-Orlando last year and they were tracked, but they had voluntarily signed up for the radio frequency wrist bands that do that. It was optional. So tracking is certainly being done, and frankly at a place like Disney if you are there with kids it has a real safety function as well as being a convenience. So I can see where people would have some positive feelings about being tracked under some circumstances.

    Also after listening to some of the current problems in our schools I can see where physical tracking might seriously be considered as a deterrent to some of the things that are going on during school hours and on school property. On that same thought we now have a system at the schools where our kids go where everything is put online and can be accessed via the parent portal such that every grade and every score and every concern or reminder is recorded and right there on a daily basis. So absolutely some people are going to have some seriously positive feelings about some of this.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this will catch on at churches that want to be in control of things, and no real doubt but that some folks will think it is a good idea. Personally, some church tracks me at their own risk! I already have fantasies of how I am going to take them out verbally if anybody says to me ‘why don’t you…’. But I enjoy verbal combat, whereas those who do not could be seriously hurt by some stuff the ‘leadership’ might throw at them. On some higher level, though, why should church be turned into some combat zone over money? Somehow I must have missed that in the bible.

  69. I have attended two churches that kept attendance records. It was creepy. The guy sat in the back row scouring the (smallish) church and making check marks in his book. Never again will I attend a church like that. And the pastor’s wife sat in the foyer during the worship service scanning all the comings and goings of people. Yuk.

  70. Whoever wants to control you, look out and run! At my local Episcopal parish, the pastor informed me that she never has to guilt anyone into attendance — because of this freedom and the healthy fellowship, people want to be there, they want to attend faithfully — not every single person, but the majority. This obsession with forced faithful attendance and financial commitment speaks volumes to egos and insecurities, controlling tactics, and a toxic manipulative environment. I feel so sad for people caught up in this disobedient-leadership mess (Matt. 20:25; 1 Pet. 5:3).

  71. Adam Borsay wrote:

    An

    You keep using the word “leadership”. I realize this ingrained but it is a big part of the problem since it is not a great translation. Paul described himself as an “under rower”. This was a reference to a slave on the lowest level of a ship. Unseen by others above him but working hard to provide passage for them.

  72. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Models are rarely the problem. The people running them are

    This is what the people of the Soviet Union were told for decades. Remember the recurrent purges in leadership circles? (Which were really power grabs)

    Yes, most definitely, models are a problem because PEOPLE design the models. Now, tools can be used for good or evil but these days since the teaching is that all Christians are part evil we would be fools to trust them with any such tools or provide them the money to buy them.

  73. Hebrews 13:17
    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

    Churchian leaders, religionists and “pastors” (they certainly aren’t “shepherds”) Love to use this verse to assume that they have some God-given “authority” over us common folk. WRONG!

    (Insert Monty Python joke here: “What’s brown and sounds like a bell? … DUNG!!”)

    This verse is not referring to church leaders. “Church” as we culturally and traditionally define it didn’t even exist at the time Hebrews was written.

    The word translated here “souls” can also be translated as “lives”.

    Hebrews 13:17 isn’t talking about some human agent who has positioned himself (herself) between God and His redeemed. In fact, Hebrews 8:6 makes it very clear that Jesus is the superior mediator.

    Hebrews 13:17 is referring to civil leaders who have responsibility for our “lives”, not religious “leaders” who have responsibility for our “souls”.

    Hebrews 13:17 is telling us that we should have confidence in our civic leaders, BECAUSE GOD has placed them in those positions of authority.

    We are to pray for them. We are to recognize that they have God-given responsibilities. When we disagree with them in a democratic society, such as we have in the U.S., we can vote against them. But as long as they are in office, we are obligated to God to pray for them and to have confidence that they are appointed by God for this time.

    Hebrews 13:17 is in NO WAY talking about “preachers” or “pastors” or whatever pseudo-sanctified word that is in vogue today. There is no man, or woman, who holds a position between me and God.

  74. Anonymous wrote:

    Projecting the use of this product to churches of a denomination or a particular theological persuasion is not thoughtful.

    You mean don’t “project” this as possibly used by churches/denominations that have already shown themselves to be authoritarian? :o)

  75. Anonymous wrote:

    There are some who lack an understanding of the importance of fellowship and there are those who can be undisciplined, but I agree with you.

    What does that mean?

  76. Bill M wrote:

    Mush agreed, it would be great if a mole at ChurchIX or ChurchApp leaked their subscriber list. It would certainly fulfill the criteria of shining a light to reveal the true nature of some “leaders”.

    Are you suggesting that some church “leaders” would buy this software without a congregational vote? :o) Oh right, those would be churches run by a handful of elders. Right, Anonymous?

  77. Corbin wrote:

    OL, just imagine. “God already knows where you are and what you’re doing…..why can’t your spiritual leadership know? Are you trying to hide something?”

    According to Leeman, they are your human mediators for such things as discipline. They have a right to know.

  78. @ Jim Challies:

    Well Jim, this is right up your alley. This is how you got your start. Building cult of personality websites then as the cult of personality on site blogger for their conferences.

  79. Aren’t any of these pastors aware or concerned how tracking such information–particularly giving–will likely negatively impact pastoral care? After all, do you really believe one can stay neutral in not weighing one member’s opinion over another based on different giving numbers ($100 versus $10,000/annually)? James warns us against such favoritism in God’s church.

    Plus, the whole charade that this is about “caring” is disgusting to me. To me, it is evidence of a weak faith in leadership who want to “help” the Holy Spirit doing the job of guiding God’s people in such matters.

  80. Niteowl wrote:

    I wouldn’t last a day in a church that monitored everything I do. For one thing, what I give is between me and God – I give in cash and don’t get a receipt for taxes. I also don’t give exclusively to a local church, I have other ministries/charities I give to. I also have health issues and when I was going to a local church I missed quite a few Sundays because of them. I can’t believe there are people (Jim Challies & Bill M) here actually advocating for this Orwellian approach and implying objecting to it is rebellion. You’ve been brainwashed is all I can say.
    I’ve only seen one good thing come out of database tracking software for churches – one that was designed to track people who answered alter calls. This helped the church to keep track not only of new Christians who came for help and ensure no one fell through the cracks, but weed out some of those who had a habit of showing up periodically and doing the whole thing over again. They also have a database for their food giveaways as the government requires documentation for USDA food given, not to mention the folks that were going through the lines multiple times and then selling the food. I sincerely hope they don’t expand this.

    I think the Challies comment was sarcasm. Had to read the whole quote before I realised it tho.

  81. Anonymous wrote:

    However, I look forward to the identification of particular congregations that are doing this.

    Who will do it? Those with the money to do it and at the same time think they can get away with it.

    My former methodist church used pew pads, kept at the end of each pew and passed down for each person to sign when they were there. My current episcopal church ‘knows’ who those who are faithful in showing up are, but keeps written records only for the children and youth and the music department-to my knowledge. At the same time both churches were well aware that there were a significant number of people on the rolls who never came and never gave but who presumably might still be alive-or not.

    IMO if the megas and the rich folks go the route of this technology even small churches will find some low cost way of doing the same thing but just with other methods, if in fact they are not already doing it.

  82. @ Josh:

    I think it might be great fun to psych their system, fill in all the blanks, make 100% and + on their evaluation scale, get publicly recognized as as example to the faithful and then one day in church right in front of them all ‘reveal your issues’ while praising the church for their acceptance of people issues and all.

    Of course that burns bridges, but so what, they were smoldering anyhow.

  83. Divorce Minister wrote:

    To me, it is evidence of a weak faith in leadership who want to “help” the Holy Spirit doing the job of guiding God’s people in such matters.

    Actually, it is about building the brand. There is a lot of competition out there for pew sitters. NO Holy Spirit needed in those places.

  84. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Aren’t any of these pastors aware or concerned how tracking such information–particularly giving–will likely negatively impact pastoral care? After all, do you really believe one can stay neutral in not weighing one member’s opinion over another based on different giving numbers ($100 versus $10,000/annually)? James warns us against such favoritism in God’s church.
    Plus, the whole charade that this is about “caring” is disgusting to me. To me, it is evidence of a weak faith in leadership who want to “help” the Holy Spirit doing the job of guiding God’s people in such matters.

    This is all about power, money, and probably sex thrown in the mix somewhere.
    I can’t find anything remotely resembling this in the New Testament church construct, except for spooky passages in Revelations.

  85. @ Niteowl:
    Thank you so much. I think I am getting organized and am making some contingency plans for the next year which is going to be difficult. My mother in law’s cancer is worse than was first thought and so the time frame for survival is less than a year. My stepfather has declined and will need more help and my mom is quite dependent. Everything just hit at once but I think I will be back to a more *new* normal in the next week or so.

    Thank you for bearing with me. This blog means the world to me.

  86. @ Jim Challies:
    Thank you for making my laugh really hard this morning. I had a case of the blahs and I don’t anymore. Have you considered starting a Twitter account as *The Real Jim Challies.* You could start with something like “i saw the man lying by the side of the road but good time management prevented me from stopping.”

  87. I think there are a couple of theological points that this post brings up that we didn’t address. The first is whether the tithes and offerings of the people are (biblically) to be used to maintain the local church facilities, and salaries (and benefits packages) for those that teach. I know there are a couple of vague proof texts that are used to support this practice, but I think we’d agree that there is a disconnect with the “paid position” of “pastor.”

    The second is why is there even an issue with tracking donations? Why do we not give anonymously so that our compassionate motives for giving remain untainted? Is the tax deduction worth partnering with Caesar to give God his due?

  88. Jim Challies wrote:

    If your church leaders deem that software which tracks members attendance and giving helps them keep better watch over members souls than they have a God-given mandate to utilize that software.

    I have found an awesome post by Jonathan Leeman that, barring further craziness, I plan to post next week. You are gonna love it! So, how are things outside of the Hotel California these days?

    And, I planned to send this link to you. Check out the last paragraph. You will have a good laugh.
    https://baptistnews.com/ministry/congregations/item/30169-church-apologizes-for-botched-discipline-case

  89. Janet Varin wrote:

    The first is whether the tithes and offerings of the people are (biblically) to be used to maintain the local church facilities, and salaries (and benefits packages) for those that teach

    It was quite a revelation for me to study and find the Jews were paying a temple tax to the Romans to upkeep the Temple. When Jesus says “the sons are free”, he is referring to the Romans not having to pay a Temple tax. Totally changes the focus of how most pastors interpret that passage.

    Of course we now know the Jesus, the lowly One, WAS the Temple where God resides.

    But digressing, even in the OT, the poor did not pay “tithes”. In fact, some of the tithe system was to help the poor. And the only folks I can find in the NT who might have received money from the Body were those traveling to spread the Good News and those who were poor and suffering like the Jerusalem church.

  90. Adam Borsay wrote:

    The model isn’t the problem, its the people in charge that are the problem.

    The model is not biblical. It is not of the Lord. When you can check in the New Testament and find where there is a thing called a pastor that is an office and where it is defined as a leader who sits over a board of elders, exercising CEO-type control, then OK, fine, I’ll come over to your side. The problem is, you will not be able to find that because it does not exist. People just made it up.

  91. Dan from Georgia wrote:

    Even before I scanned the article and rushed to the comments (hey, I am just being honest, OK?), why oh why did I get the feeling that the SBC would show up in the article. Soon to be followed by all kinds of reformed/calvinist church organizations.

    Well Dan, I too am from Georgia, if you want to discuss it over coffee I’m sure we can arrange that. But when the SBC is kind of the primary denomination leading this, when the YRRs are kind of the ones making a lot of noise, what do you want them to do? Discuss Episcopalians?

  92. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Victorious wrote:
    Couldn’t these types of events be announced on Sunday and “sign-up” sheets provided on a bulletin board?
    In a church with more than a few hundred people, if you announced on Sunday morning EVERYTHING that was going on, you wouldn’t have time for anything else. And, most of those announcements are only applicable to small subsets of those in attendance. Being able to communicate to the people who specifically would be engaged with that particular “thing” is of great value. The only things we announce on Sunday mornings are events that effect everyone.

    There’s the problem: the model. Large fellowships led by perhaps .05% of the members, this tiny fraction has to get out all this information, they have limited time to communicate it. The mouths have to communicate in 12 minutes to the 1,000 or so butts in the seats who are together (but not really, because their seats are either permanently affixed facing the mouths or arranged in such a way that if you were to ever make them face each other without being so directed, you would not be long for the fellowship) looking up at the mouths.

    Perhaps if the butts started being something other than butts, perhaps becoming true parts of the Body of Christ, and the mouths shut up, information could be disseminated more naturally rather than being compressed into those 12 minutes from a podium under the spotlight.

    The model sucks.

  93. dee wrote:

    I have found an awesome post by Jonathan Leeman that, barring further craziness, I plan to post next week. You are gonna love it! So, how are things outside of the Hotel California these days?
    And, I planned to send this link to you. Check out the last paragraph. You will have a good laugh.
    https://baptistnews.com/ministry/congregations/item/30169-church-apologizes-for-botched-discipline-case

    If I understand what Leeman says, he believes that salvation is a contractual agreement.

  94. Dee wrote “Do not sign any membership agreement that allows them to track your attendance, your expected donations and your participation in church activities. If you do, be prepared to be disciplined. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

    My advice is to not sign ‘any’ church membership covenant. If you are a Christian, you have already entered into a new covenant by faith with the living Christ. It was written and signed in red. The terms and conditions have been specified in the Word; the Holy Spirit empowers you to live by them. No additional agreements or confessions written by mere men are necessary.

  95. Lydia wrote:

    Church is not about micromanaging a persons spiritual and social life by leaders.

    New Calvinist churches are.

  96. Nancy2 wrote:

    Might help if they allowed women to dicuss the lessons and participate in classes that are NOT gender segregated.

    Yes, this is something else I don’t understand about churches. Many of them say they want to encourage marriage, but they tend to segregate the genders (like in Sunday School classes), which hinders marriage.

    Not that a lot of Christian single men go to churches to start with, but if one does show up, I, a marriage-minded single lady would never get to know the guy, because churches (Baptists are really bad about this) generally stick all the women in a lady class and the men in a men’s class.

    How do Christians / churches expect marriages between Christian singles to take place if they don’t make the venue conducive to single adults meeting and talking to each other?

  97. Nancy2 wrote:

    How long before the start trying to make members wear ankle monitors and sign forms for having wages garnished???

    Grinning Ed Young (of Seven Day Sex Challenge fame) has already done the latter — demanding routing and account numbers for “automatic Tithing”.

    “Hold up your checkbooks so we can see your routing numbers! If you don’t, our security cameras are so good WE WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”

  98. Daisy wrote:

    How do Christians / churches expect marriages between Christian singles to take place if they don’t make the venue conducive to single adults meeting and talking to each other?

    That’s what Patriarch-Arranged Marriages are for.

    (Greasing the skids with $20 grand in bride-price cash optional…)

  99. Max wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Church is not about micromanaging a persons spiritual and social life by leaders.
    New Calvinist churches are.

    In this, they imitate their REAL God, Calvin in Geneva.

  100. Lydia wrote:

    Are you suggesting that some church “leaders” would buy this software without a congregational vote? :o) Oh right, those would be churches run by a handful of elders. Right, Anonymous?

    If monitoring passed by a church vote it would be an even bigger red flag. Who wants to hang around a bunch that wants a pastor/nanny?

  101. Law Prof wrote:

    The model is not biblical. It is not of the Lord. When you can check in the New Testament and find where there is a thing called a pastor that is an office and where it is defined as a leader who sits over a board of elders, exercising CEO-type control, then OK, fine, I’ll come over to your side. The problem is, you will not be able to find that because it does not exist. People just made it up.

    Yep.

  102. Law Prof wrote:

    There’s the problem: the model. Large fellowships led by perhaps .05% of the members, this tiny fraction has to get out all this information, they have limited time to communicate it. The mouths have to communicate in 12 minutes to the 1,000 or so butts in the seats who are together (but not really, because their seats are either permanently affixed facing the mouths or arranged in such a way that if you were to ever make them face each other without being so directed, you would not be long for the fellowship) looking up at the mouths.

    Nuremberg Rally model.
    (Or High School Pep Rally.)

  103. @ Josh:

    I’ve certainly learned to be more cautious about when, where, if, or to whom I open up in person (the internet’s not so bad).

    I used to think all Christians were like my mother – very warm, understanding, non-judgmental, but that’s not been the case.

    When I’ve talked to Christians in my time of grief (or during other problems) to get empathy or encouragement, most of them would instead criticize me, offer cliches, etc.

    I’ve learned that if you share your personal pain or problems with Christians, that many of them (especially in real life, in face- to- face meetings) are completely un-empathetic. I am still bowled over by that, I’m still in shock over that.

    I guess most Christians are really not like how my mother was. It was a very disappointing, sad thing to learn. So now I’m more guarded in face- to- face, real life meetings with professing believers.

    I still get annoyed or incredulous with the Christian TV shows where some guests will bemoan the lack of openness and vulnerability among church- goers.

    I’ve heard these guests on these Christian shows plead with viewers to take their masks off and be vulnerable around fellow Christians, to admit their flaws, pains, and problems.

    I sit there and think, ‘Buddy, I’d dearly love to be open and transparent like that, but in my experience, every time I’ve taken the mask off and said, “Hey, I’m hurting really bad or I’m upset about ‘X’, I could use your encouragement, friendship, or concern right now,”‘ I get criticized or avoided from there on out.

    Taking the mask off and getting real with other Christians results in getting your heart stomped on even more, more often than not. So I take a pass on that.

  104. Janet Varin wrote:

    I think there are a couple of theological points that this post brings up that we didn’t address. The first is whether the tithes and offerings of the people are (biblically) to be used to maintain the local church facilities, and salaries (and benefits packages) for those that teach.

    Furtick Mansions and private jets are EXPENSIVE.

  105. Lydia wrote:

    Actually, it is about building the brand. There is a lot of competition out there for pew sitters.

    Marks in Seats, just like all the gimmicks cataloged over at “Wrestlecrap — the Very Worst of Pro Wrestling”.

  106. Eeyore wrote:

    Their cultural model already biases them towards authoritarian solutions to begin with. And memories of greater cultural influence help generate fear of greater loss and resentment of their current losses. To me, this adds up to a recipe for repeated doubling down on the old paradigms, increased hostility to outsiders, and increased attempts to keep those they still have.

    To me, it adds up to the perfect setup for a Grievance Culture, i.e. a culture whose only reason for existence is nursing resentment and obsessed with Revenge against The Other.

    The three axioms of a Grievance Culture:
    1) Once WE were Lords of the Universe, and Everything was Perfect!
    2) Then THEY came and took it all away from us!
    3) PAYBACK TIME!

    Examples throughout history, very few of which ended well.

  107. Law Prof wrote:

    I’ll tell you what’s coming: microchips implanted in members to track their coming and going, “for the sake of the Gospel”, of course.

    Embedded in the Forehead and/or Right Hand.
    And the People followed and marveled — “Who is like unto The Pastor?”

  108. Niteowl wrote:

    They also have a database for their food giveaways as the government requires documentation for USDA food given, not to mention the folks that were going through the lines multiple times and then selling the food.

    My dad goes to a church that has charities around town. One of them is a food pantry (which I’ve volunteered at a few times).

    I found out they have a computerized system in place to ensure nobody takes advantage of them. Like at the holidays, when they give out a free turkey with trimmings, they log it into a computer.

    All the charities around here are connected with each other to ensure that Person X doesn’t get a free turkey from charity X, and then drive down the street to get a second free turkey from charity Z.

    And charity X wants to make sure that each family only gets one turkey (or whatever) from charity X – and not show up three weeks later to get another turkey from charity X again.

    I can see how monitoring people can be good for situations like that.

  109. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Grinning Ed Young (of Seven Day Sex Challenge fame) has already done the latter — demanding routing and account numbers for “automatic Tithing”.

    Now we know why he grins so much!

  110. They will watch your giving and will question any sort of perceived lack of giving.
    We sincerely believe that these programs will be used to discipline members.

    My former cult didn’t have the apps, but not tithing would get you disciplined.
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/70016969184215890/

    I can imagine how an app would facilitate this. I am so done with it all.

  111. Gus wrote:

    ISTM that the only way to stop this is to hit them where it hurts – money. It will only stop if lots of members resign their membership citing the surveillance as their reason for doing this. And if people leave or decline to become members explicitly for the same reason.

    I think that many of them are too afraid to leave. In my opinion, much of fundagelical ixtianity (in both the reformed & arminian versions) is a fear based religion. Fear of hell if you don’t hoe the row the way they tell you that you have to hoe it, and worse yet, you might not be one of the ‘elect’ from the foundation of the world (reformed version). The arminian version (say, Calvary Chapel as an illustration) is only slightly different. It means that you don’t ‘know the Lord’ and were probably never ‘saved’ to begin with.
    Fear is and has always been one of the most powerful motivators known to humankind.

  112. Victorious wrote:

    Here’s the problem…what if there’s a “man” who’s 41 or 42 who might want to participate? Or (God forbid) there’s a woman who would love to play?
    I see a bit of contradiction in the supposed “solution” or benefits of this type of program. If the care and nurturing and edification of the saints is truly the focus, how is spending 15 minutes on a Sunday for announcements of interest to the entire congregation “too much” time? Maybe cutting a 45-min. sermon to 30-min. wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, announcements of special events show an effort toward a family-type environment rather than a selective invitation based on gender and/or age.
    Just my opinion.

    Yes! All churches used to have choirs and anybody who was interested in singing could join.

    If a church is going to have a Paintball Event they should let whoever is interested show up. I could see age restrictions to keep children out for safety reasons, but other than that let it be for men or women of whatever age who WANT to go out and get shot with wads of paint.

    I always thought church should be about bringing people together instead of dividing them. Silly me.

  113. @ Eeyore:

    I liked your analysis and think it’s right on the money.

    You mentioned culture. That got me to thinking of another angle. Even some of the authoritarian churches think that way to keep folks coming through the door is to be culturally relevant, which to them seems to mean, putting in a coffee shop in the church, having the pastor wear skinny jeans, and having a hip, happening rock band.

    When I dare say most of us could live without the cool, hip stuff (the rock band, etc), but just want to go to a non-authoritarian church where it’s safe for us to be who we are, to be vulnerable if we want to be, to get companionship.

    I keep reading articles that say more and more Americans are lonely, living alone, and would probably like Face To Face friendships, which churches could provide, if they would try.

  114. OldJohnJ wrote:

    @ Jim Challies:
    Is my mind so damaged by the exactitude of physics that I can’t recognize satire anymore?

    Yeah, I couldn’t quite tell if Jim was a Poe or for real. I think he was being sarcastic to make a point?

  115. Lydia wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    Models are rarely the problem. The people running them are
    This is what the people of the Soviet Union were told for decades. Remember the recurrent purges in leadership circles? (Which were really power grabs)

    Not to get too far away from the main topic, but this reminds me of some gender complementarians.

    They will tell you if abuse happens in a gender comp marriage or church, the problem is not with gender comp but with the person(s) involved, who are supposedly imperfectly living out gender comp.

  116. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    I always thought church should be about bringing people together instead of dividing them. Silly me.

    I’m of the opinion the “church” today is one of the most fragmented organizations around. We have singles; marrieds; contemplating marriage; seniors; nurseries; tots; teens; senior pastors; associate pastors; elders; deacons; (deaconesses?); men; women; home groups; greeters; etc….

    Of course, the “unity” comes when most are allowed to gather together to listen to a 45-min. sermon and sing a song or two. But leave the children downstairs please so as not to disturb the peace and unity and flow of the service.

    Ugh!

  117. Bill M wrote:

    If monitoring passed by a church vote it would be an even bigger red flag. Who wants to hang around a bunch that wants a pastor/nanny?

    I bet it would pass at many churches like Piper’s old church, The Village, etc. This is what I am MORE afraid of than anything. How much our society has become non thinking lemmings of the “authorities”.

  118. Daisy wrote:

    Yeah, I couldn’t quite tell if Jim was a Poe or for real. I think he was being sarcastic to make a point?

    Perhaps a modern day Dante with an updated version of Divine Comedy????

  119. Daisy wrote:

    @ Jim Challies:
    Is my mind so damaged by the exactitude of physics that I can’t recognize satire anymore?

    Yeah, I couldn’t quite tell if Jim was a Poe or for real. I think he was being sarcastic to make a point?

  120. dee wrote:

    Have you considered starting a Twitter account as *The Real Jim Challies.* You could start with something like “i saw the man lying by the side of the road but good time management prevented me from stopping.”

    That sounds like a winsome idea. I will have to run it by my plurality of elders board and will then submit to whatever they lovingly determine is best for me.
    🙂

  121. “Here’s the problem”
    … going to church is voluntary. This foolishness will stop when people stop…going and giving… especially giving. Going is actually optional…giving isn’t. If only people would take responsibility for their own spiritual lives and start thinking for themselves.

  122. Adam Borsay wrote:

    agree and don’t agree as well. Even in the first church the Apostles “farmed out” different aspects of “member care”.

    Adam, Not to nit pick you because I understand where you are coming from. I was in that world for a long time and still have friends there. I just don’t buy into it anymore.

    Let us be perfectly honest because you mentioned the Apostles as an illustration for delegating “member care”.

    As to Apostles “farming out” member “care”, let us be very careful about mapping what took place in the 1st Century to today. I would have to ask whether those who were waiting tables were paid a salary with a pension plan by a government approved non profit with a housing tax exemption. Not even the Apostles were paid a salary.

    You see, your very livelihood depends on this modern (and more fun!) version of “caring for members”. It is not like such staff pastors are worried about feeding Hellenistic widows who converted. They are worried for butts in seats, the weekly intake and numbers for events. All of it is couched in very spiritual terms. I get it. I used be a part of it.

  123. Daisy wrote:

    They will tell you if abuse happens in a gender comp marriage or church, the problem is not with gender comp but with the person(s) involved, who are supposedly imperfectly living out gender comp.

    Bingo. It can’t be the comp model because that is “biblical” if you read Paul right. (sigh)

  124. @ Steve:

    Steve, people get sucked in for the right reasons. That is the most nefarious part of all this. It is like a bait and switch. Some call it love bombing and it has various degrees depending on just how cultic the group is. Then people don’t want to appear “mean” by disagreeing or making their concerns known. Next thing you know years have passed and all that money gone that supported what you now find repugnant.

    It is a vicious cycle because it plays on people’s trust and kindness. And there are plenty out there to be had.

  125. Lydia wrote:

    Steve, people get sucked in for the right reasons. That is the most nefarious part of all this. It is like a bait and switch. Some call it love bombing and it has various degrees depending on just how cultic the group is. Then people don’t want to appear “mean” by disagreeing or making their concerns known. Next thing you know years have passed and all that money gone that supported what you now find repugnant.
    It is a vicious cycle because it plays on people’s trust and kindness. And there are plenty out there to be had.

    Great points Lydia. It’s just a very sad state of affairs. You’re right… no easy fix for it.

  126. dee wrote:

    Thank you so much. I think I am getting organized and am making some contingency plans for the next year which is going to be difficult. My mother in law’s cancer is worse than was first thought and so the time frame for survival is less than a year. My stepfather has declined and will need more help and my mom is quite dependent. Everything just hit at once but I think I will be back to a more *new* normal in the next week or so.

    I am so very sorry.

    Being a caretaker for one person (let alone more than one) can be so physically and emotionally draining and sad. It’s so hard to watch people’s health or mental abilities deteriorate.

  127. @ Steve:

    Hopefully, people will learn from stories here and other places so they will know the right questions to ask before they join! Or even to recognize some subtle red flags. For example, I tell folks not to even consider attending unless the budget is developed and voted on by the congregation. That one is a non starter for me. That one speaks volumes about what the place is really all about.

  128. dee wrote:

    You could start with something like “i saw the man lying by the side of the road but good time management prevented me from stopping.”

    Dee, there was actually a test performed like this. I was just reading about this or saw it on a Christian show.

    Some Christian group did a study, wanting to see how like seminary students would react in a situation that called for them to put others first, stop to care for a wounded person.

    So, the researchers told the guys that they had to give a speech in front of an audience (and IIRC, the speech had to pertain to The Good Samaritan story). They told the guys they were on a tight deadline.

    They then had some guy pretend to be sick or passed out in the hallway right outside the stage door. So, these young students (who were Christians), were already in a rush. All of them, except for like one guy, stepped over the sick guy to go give the speech.

    When I heard this story, I either wanted to laugh or cry, I couldn’t figure which. Stepping over a sick person on the way to give a speech to Christians about how important it is to demonstrate the Good Samaritan’s compassion. 🙂

    This may be it:
    “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: A study of Situational and Dispositional Variables in Helping Behavior”. JPSP, 1973, 27, 100-108.
    http://faculty.babson.edu/krollag/org_site/soc_psych/darley_samarit.html

  129. Daisy wrote:

    They will tell you if abuse happens in a gender comp marriage or church, the problem is not with gender comp but with the person(s) involved, who are supposedly imperfectly living out gender comp.

    “But this time WE Will Achieve True Communism!”

  130. Jim Challies wrote:

    I will have to run it by my plurality of elders board and will then submit to whatever they lovingly determine is best for me.

    That’s good. Because if you did not lovingly submit to whatever they want, they would have to “push you under their care”
    (see TVC in regards to Karen Hinkley)

  131. Tracking members attendance is not new. When I was a teenage boy 40 years ago I built gas powered model airplanes, and went to completions to race them. I also attended a GARBC Baptist Church. The completions were on Sundaty…. Church people paid attention that I was not attending on these days and I was chastised for competing at these events…. And not being in church on Sunday to here the preaching…

    I have found memorize of going to these meets with my father, who has since passed…. And, my making those airplanes contributed to my “engineering education”…. For some reason, I do not think that the sermons I missed had a “negative effect on me” …

  132. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I think for many churches the problem comes from wanting, for good reasons, a better way to stay connected with people. Even in a medium sized church sunday mornings for staff are hectic days, it can be easy to not catch that “Joe” has been not showing up….maybe there is soemthing wrong going on and I would like to know, because I care

    Staying connected is the real key of whats important. But you can’t accomplish this by treating the people you are trying to connect to like members of a social club, and this is (one of) the ultimate result of using tracking software.
    The only acceptable use of technology I can think of in terms of staying connected are email lists where people can easily opt in to get notified about areas and events they are interested in and can easily opt out.
    If you are really serious about ‘connecting’, that will take a lot of face to face time getting to actually know people and building others up to do the same. In other words, a lot of hard work.

  133. Competitions, not “completions”

    Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    Tracking members attendance is not new. When I was a teenage boy 40 years ago I built gas powered model airplanes, and went to completions to race them. I also attended a GARBC Baptist Church. The completions were on Sundaty…. Church people paid attention that I was not attending on these days and I was chastised for competing at these events…. And not being in church on Sunday to here the preaching…
    I have found memorize of going to these meets with my father, who has since passed…. And, my making those airplanes contributed to my “engineering education”…. For some reason, I do not think that the sermons I missed had a “negative effect on me” …

  134. It’s one thing to count the number of people attending a particular service. I usher one service a month at my church. I count the total number of attendees, record it in a book, and send the count to one of the church’s administrative assistants the next morning. However, they’re only interested in total attendance rather than names of individuals. If my church ever started tracking individuals’ attendance, I would leave in a heartbeat.

  135. Daisy wrote:

    How do Christians / churches expect marriages between Christian singles to take place if they don’t make the venue conducive to single adults meeting and talking to each other?

    That’s a good question. My experience is that churches which promote marriage and family do a much better job of supporting existing marriages than helping singles meet prospective mates and prepare for marriage, at least until the engagement takes place.

  136. Lydia wrote:

    All of it is couched in very spiritual terms. I get it. I used be a part of it.

    Me too. I can think of a couple things that come to mind when contemplating the present model and the use of spiritual terms such as “gospel” “the scriptures clearly say” to defend and perpetuate it: “taking the Lord’s name in vain” and “blasphemy”.

  137. @ dee:
    Oh my, Dee. I am so sorry. I’ve been through parental health issues & decision-making. You have all my best thoughts and prayers for strength, guidance and peace.

  138. This post is entirely appropriate for Halloween since that tracking app is weird and creepy! Great reporting!

  139. Steve wrote:

    If only people would take responsibility for their own spiritual lives and start thinking for themselves.

    Yep. In Southern Baptist life, our pastors used to teach and preach “priesthood of the believer” and “soul competency” … correct Biblical doctrines implying that the individual believer stands before God empowered by the Holy Spirit, capable of his own interpretation of Scripture with the ability to test what is being proclaimed from the pulpit. With the new wave of Calvinism, these long-held Baptist beliefs have been greatly diminished in favor of authoritarian control over the congregation, in which rigid doctrinal proposition (Doctrines of Grace) supersede a personal relationship with Christ. Allowing someone else to think for you spiritually is dangerous ground.

  140. Muff Potter wrote:

    In my opinion, much of fundagelical ixtianity (in both the reformed & arminian versions) is a fear based religion.

    There is the theory that all religions, that is to say religion itself, is based on fear of dying.

  141. Donna wrote:

    Mark of the Beast

    I agree with you. This scary and could cause oppression. No one should know everyone’s business. Everything a person does shouldn’t be viewable, yet I fear this is where the neopuritans are headed. This is prelude to theocracy.

  142. I think we need to start a new type of joke lead in, with the punchline being TWW articles. You know, kind of like the “you might be a redneck if…” thing. Hmmm. Maybe, “You might be in an abusive cult if…”? What do you-all think?

  143. Jim Challies wrote:

    John Piper or C.J. Mahaney

    Thanks for the shout out for me and my humble BFF.
    Howz that big ol’ tower thingy doin’ over there, anyhow?
    I’d been kinda hopin’ the lord woulda done the ol Luthern steeple thing by now, just to get my attention.
    Hedonistically yours,
    Johnny

  144. I know someone must have thought of this already. And I have not been able time-wise to read all the comments yet (sorry),
    but I wonder,
    that young holy person hurrying along the road who looked over and then walked past the fallen victim later rescued by the Samaritan … . was that young religious person hurrying because if he did not make it on time to his temple service, he would face discipline amounting to shame and abuse? Maybe the righteous man was caught up in a system of ‘kissing up’ and ‘kicking down’, a system so prominent in some fundamentalist circles, and so in violation of the paradox of the Kingdom of Our Lord.

    I suppose, even in sacred Scripture, unless the Lord tells us ALL the details, it is not right for us to judge even those who ‘obviously’ appear to be doing wrong, or given the opportunity, refusing to do the right . . .

    How many sins are committed by people trying to keep up with impressing those who judge them and ridicule them and bully them? Maybe the bullies need to be held accountable on the many levels of evil that they release by their own abusive treatment of others. God will have mercy on those whom He will have mercy. ‘Control’ is a sign of an abuser when the person being controlled is NOT respected as one who has dignity as an individual before God.

  145. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    I think we need to start a new type of joke lead in, with the punchline being TWW articles. You know, kind of like the “you might be a redneck if…” thing. Hmmm. Maybe, “You might be in an abusive cult if…”? What do you-all think?

    Kick it off, doc. Good idea.

  146. Several years ago when we attended another church, before our Mega time, a preacher told me not to let church get in the way of my Christianity. Didn’t know what he meant, but I sure do now. All about him and not what we do or think we are doing.

  147. The story of Leah Remini (an actress for those of you like me who are not all up to date on pop culture) leaving Scientology rings too many bells of Parallel Universe with some of these modern practices in what people call “churches.” (Scientology calls itself a church, too, and has *nothing* to do with Christianity, not even in pretense.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/leah-remini-break-church-scientology-wanted/story?id=34854744

    It is an interesting story because it tells one story of how people get involved in these controlling kinds of organizations, and why it is hard to break loose.

    (PS. If this has already been brought up, forgive me. I’m behind on reading the comments.)

  148. @ okrapod:

    muff said: “In my opinion, much of fundagelical ixtianity (in both the reformed & arminian versions) is a fear based religion.”

    okrapod said: “There is the theory that all religions, that is to say religion itself, is based on fear of dying.”
    +++++++++++++

    i think there’s more than a kernel of truth to that theory. how disappointing, though. why can’t religion be based on the joy of living? the joy of living today, of living tomorrow, and for the joy of those who will live after us. making the best and the most out of life for oneself, one’s loved ones, one’s community, the world at large.

    and none of this guilt, shame, censoring of art, cruelty to self & others, squelching of self and others, which would be ‘unjoy’ perversely redefined as overspiritualized ‘joy’.

  149. Lydia wrote:

    They are worried for butts in seats, the weekly intake and numbers for events. All of it is couched in very spiritual terms.

    It is upside down, if I confronted them asking what in God’s name they were doing, I would be accused of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

  150. Mark wrote:

    Donna wrote:
    Mark of the Beast

    I agree with you. This scary and could cause oppression. No one should know everyone’s business. Everything a person does shouldn’t be viewable, yet I fear this is where the neopuritans are headed. This is prelude to theocracy.

    Just like their beloved Calvin in the Perfect Paradise of Geneva.

  151. PaJo wrote:

    The story of Leah Remini (an actress for those of you like me who are not all up to date on pop culture) leaving Scientology rings too many bells of Parallel Universe with some of these modern practices in what people call “churches.”

    “Just like Scientology, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  152. Daisy wrote:

    That’s good. Because if you did not lovingly submit to whatever they want, they would have to “push you under their care”

    And Under the Bus.

    And it’s important that you Lovingly(TM) Submit.
    “It is not enough that you obey big Brother, 6079 Smith W. YOU MUST LOVE BIG BROTHER.”
    — Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, 1984

  153. elastigirl wrote:

    why can’t religion be based on the joy of living? the joy of living today, of living tomorrow, and for the joy of those who will live after us. making the best and the most out of life for oneself, one’s loved ones, one’s community, the world at large.

    Personally, I believe that is exactly the point of the resurrection.

  154. Daisy wrote:

    Not to get too far away from the main topic, but this reminds me of some gender complementarians.

    This is off topic for this thread, but there is a discussion going on about NAMB planter rules. Several pastors commenting say they’d rather drive by a woman in a broken down car on the road than risk their reputation by being seen alone with her!
    http://sbcvoices.com/would-you-qualify-under-nambs-church-planter-code-of-conduct/#comment-305300

  155. @ Piper A A:
    We can tell that you are not the real John Piper. You don’t use nearly enough flowery words to be convincing! Get a dictionary and a thesaurus and try a little harder next time, OK?

  156. @ Jim Challies: I assume this is sarcasm? Sometimes it’s hard to tell on the internet, but these ideas are so outrageous that I’m guessing you’re making a (long) joke.

  157. Nancy2 wrote:

    @ Piper A A:
    We can tell that you are not the real John Piper. You don’t use nearly enough flowery words to be convincing! Get a dictionary and a thesaurus and try a little harder next time, OK?

    And flutter your hands a LOT more.

  158. Nancy2 wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Not to get too far away from the main topic, but this reminds me of some gender complementarians.
    This is off topic for this thread, but there is a discussion going on about NAMB planter rules. Several pastors commenting say they’d rather drive by a woman in a broken down car on the road than risk their reputation by being seen alone with her!
    http://sbcvoices.com/would-you-qualify-under-nambs-church-planter-code-of-conduct/#comment-305300

    Sounds like the first part of a story I heard from this Rabbi from Nazareth…

  159. H. Lee wrote:

    @ Jim Challies: I assume this is sarcasm? Sometimes it’s hard to tell on the internet, but these ideas are so outrageous that I’m guessing you’re making a (long) joke.

    Either way, somebody needs to forward Jim’s comment to the T4G boys, et al, just to see if they will pick it up and run with it! Could be a hoot!

  160. H. Lee wrote:

    I assume this is sarcasm? Sometimes it’s hard to tell on the internet, but these ideas are so outrageous that I’m guessing

    Yep, sarcasm. 🙂

  161. Daisy wrote:

    I am such a home body couch potato and an introvert you’re lucky if I show up to your church once or twice per year, let alone every single service or pot luck. I would gladly tell these control freak churches to go get bent if they started hounding me about how often I do or don’t show up.

    I’m the same, Daisy. (Of course, at my age, I can more easily claim to be old & frail than you can). I get very, very stressed in a crowd of people……

  162. From the post:

    If you have organised your church into various sub-groups, then you will love this report.

    You might well love the report, if you think the church is just a thing to organise. But what if you love the church, not as a thing, or a vision (unlike the inferior or irrelevant vision of the “other church” down the street), but as the people that make it up?

    What these marketeers have missed is the need to factor in an app that spreads love to people.

    This from 1 Corinthians:
    And now, I will show you a useful marketing tip.
    If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, and have no love… if I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries, knowledge and accurate doctrine… if I have faith that can build mountains of converts… if I give all I possess to the building fund and sacrifice my life to the ministry, but have no love, I will always risk being less than totally effective for the gospel…
    … Love never fails to attract people…
    And now, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is reformed preaching.

  163. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Apologies: a single extraneous forward-slash wrecked the formatting of that comment. It should read thus:

    From the post:

    If you have organised your church into various sub-groups, then you will love this report.

    You might well love the report, if you think the church is just a thing to organise. But what if you love the church, not as a thing, or a vision (unlike the inferior or irrelevant vision of the “other church” down the street), but as the people that make it up?

    What these marketeers have missed is the need to factor in an app that spreads love to people.

    This from 1 Corinthians:

    And now, I will show you a useful marketing tip.

    If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, and have no love… if I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries, knowledge and accurate doctrine… if I have faith that can build mountains of converts… if I give all I possess to the building fund and sacrifice my life to the ministry, but have no love, I will always risk being less than totally effective for the gospel…

    … Love never fails to attract people…

    And now, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is reformed preaching.

  164. PaJo wrote:

    The story of Leah Remini (an actress for those of you like me who are not all up to date on pop culture) leaving Scientology rings too many bells of Parallel Universe with some of these modern practices in what people call “churches.”

    I watched her interview on 20/20, & was struck by the same thought….

  165. __

    “Fear Mongering Or Legitimate Concern?”

    hmmm…

      The Wartburg Watch ‘fear ‘that New Calvinist churches, in the future, that utilize surveillance and monitoring software will abuse this new technology, is not necessarily holily unfounded. 

    Wartburg Watch has inferred abuse in New Calvinist churches possibly (and most likely) because of their ‘track record’ of the following: 

    Membership contract abuse.

    The abuse of contact information to pursue and harass, both members who wish to terminate their membership without discussion, and also those who do not wish to continue with their voluntary affiliation with New Calvinist churches for personal reasons. 

    The harboring of pedophiles; possibly covering up the actions they do as well.

    Refusing to contact the proper authorities when sexual abuse occures.

    Supporting Calvinist pastors that harbor pedophiles or cover-up their actions.

    Pursuing victims of pedophillia or those who have identified those that do these things, in an attempt to silence them.

      These actions (noted above) give a fairly good indication of a track record of 501(c)3 church leadership abusing their members. One would be foolish and a poor steward, not to consider the possibility of its continuance is some form or another.

  166.  __

    “Soul Competency And The Priesthood Of The Believer?”

    hmmm…

      “Correct Biblical doctrines imply that the individual believers stand before God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, capable of their own interpretation of Holy Scripture with the ability to ‘test’ what is being ‘proclaimed’ from the pulpit, and thus, the Christian believer is greatly urged to do so.” -Max

      “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

      “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”

    Receive the Word Of God with great eagerness, yet, examining the Scriptures ‘daily ‘to see whether these things are so.

    Keep faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

    Know that the Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 

    Guard your hearts, for out of them flow the issues of life,

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

  167. Jim Challies wrote:

    H. Lee wrote:
    I assume this is sarcasm? Sometimes it’s hard to tell on the internet, but these ideas are so outrageous that I’m guessing
    Yep, sarcasm.

    My apologies – my sarcasm meter was off last night.

  168. Daisy wrote:

    The info has been out there for years that married couples who have children still at home are around only 20% of the U.S. population and as of last year, it was in the news on many a site that single adults now out-number married couples (in the USA).

    Despite the fact there are declining marriage rates and increasing amounts of not-married and childfree, churches have their heads in the sand and continue to organize churches, ministry events, sermons, etc, as though it’s still 1954 and 90% of the population and/or church membership is married with children.

    Daisy is completely right. These churches are hurting themselves by limiting their focus on the 25% of households that include father-mother-child(ren). The church can’t grow because it refuses to see that 75% of households don’t fit their target audience.

    As marriage rates decline, so does their pool of candidates. Expect desperate tactics. From now on, I’m thinking about wearing sunglasses when I visit a mega-church.

  169. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Yep. It all boils down to how individual people are viewed. Even Karen Hinkley, in her traumatic situation, was nothing but a unit to manage and control by the Village Elders.

  170. Max wrote:

    In Southern Baptist life, our pastors used to teach and preach “priesthood of the believer” and “soul competency” … correct Biblical doctrines implying that the individual believer stands before God empowered by the Holy Spirit, capable of his own interpretation of Scripture with the ability to test what is being proclaimed from the pulpit. With the new wave of Calvinism, these long-held Baptist beliefs have been greatly diminished in favor of authoritarian control over the congregation, in which rigid doctrinal proposition (Doctrines of Grace) supersede a personal relationship with Christ. Allowing someone else to think for you spiritually is dangerous ground.

    What’s curious to me is Mohler’s, for example, emphasis on a Protestantism & John Calvin. I’m not certain about where he’s coming from altogether, and you seem to have a good perspective on the doctrinal shift that’s occurred within parts of the SBC because of these new Calvinists, combined with a good understanding of where the departure has taken place relative to where the church is (should) be at today.

    And I just want to throw in here that I was at Covenant Life Church where Mahaney was Senior Pastor, during the time Tomzcak departed CLC, and when Mahaney surreptiously brought in Calvinism while simultaneously heavily emphasizing the laity’s obligation to submit to and obey Mahaney’s authority and that of the Pastors. That experience of mine, I think, parallels what you and other SBCers have described as having had the foundations of your faith replaced without your input or permission – with the exception that CLC was comprised of a more diverse membership, its’ core comprised of former Catholics who were more conditioned to accept ecclesiastical authority over the priesthood of the believer, as you mentioned (which is def my persuasion).

    Having shared that, what seems to be emerging in my view, is this form of Calvinist Reformation with its strong emphasis on church authority, and the place of Pastors to interpret Scripture, and the need for the lay people to submit & obey. It’s as if guys like Piper, Mohler, Duncan et al want to take it back to Geneva and the 16th century and skip the Great Awakening.

    As I’ve been learning more about Calvin, I’m discovering how aligned his thinking was with the Catholic Church. In fact, Calvin believed the Pope was the one who had left the one true Church. Calvin absolutely believed it was necessary for a believer to be baptized, and that baptism is where regeneration occurred and was the start of the Christian life. Moreover, he maintained the Catholic view of the eucharistic and that holding that view was necessary for salvation (as did Luther, which is why he cut off fellowship with Zwingli and the Swiss).

    Calvin thought, like Catholics thought, that the ‘common people’ don’t know what to believe, and so the Pastors of churches must come to agreement so everybody else knows what to do. And I think this is what I see at work in the efforts of these guys involved in the Together For the Gospel – they have come to an agreement, they are the ecclesiastical, magisterial authority to lead the church because they are the ones who have “recovered the Gospel”, and thus they are the ones God is using today to build a refuge for those of “true faith” to run to. And like you, I think this is fallacious!

  171. Janey wrote:

    These churches are hurting themselves by limiting their focus on the 25% of households that include father-mother-child(ren). The church can’t grow because it refuses to see that 75% of households don’t fit their target audience.

    Opening the door to ‘singles’ would be a problem for them to fit into ministry to and with these folks with their current rules of procedure. For one thing, many singles are female, so the male elders and the male deacons if any and the male sunday school teachers and the male group facilitators would be put in an impossible situation-could not interact with the single females but could not totally ignore them and could not empower women in ministry to do the interacting/ministry-so what would they do with the female singles? As to the single men the issue might be why are they single, surely they are not-well, you know and they hate to think about it, and what would they do with all that? But the most difficult would be the single parent families, usually in the demographic of female head of household, who would consume more of the churches resources than they contributed either in money or time-leaving other people to pick up the slack.

    And let us not forget, and I am just basing this on personal experience, singles of any kind and marrieds are frequently not living lives that are similar enough that the marrieds and especially marrieds with kids would be enthusiastic about the influx of people not so much like them-and might take their children and their checkbook elsewhere. Both in the denomination I just left and in the denomination with which I have aligned myself I have seen and read about much turmoil over sex and gender and role of women in the church and to some extent about divorce including people and even whole dioceses packing up and leaving from time to time over one issue or the other. It does not any of it lend itself to an easy solution.

  172. PaJo wrote:

    The story of Leah Remini (an actress for those of you like me who are not all up to date on pop culture) leaving Scientology rings too many bells of Parallel Universe with some of these modern practices in what people call “churches.”

    I just saw that online today! I am soooooo glad that interview made it to air. So often, ABC has been cowed by Scientology’s lawyers into soft-pedalling pieces on their “church” (*spit*), or cancelling them altogether. And Leah is really hitting that cult where it hurts.

    It’s good to see the Cult of Greed and Power getting more exposure. If more people understand that this kind of insidious group really exists in the U.S. today, maybe they’ll take seriously the idea that some Christian churches can be abusive, too.

  173. @ okrapod:

    Follow the money, sadly. It is so sad to see such godless approaches. Jesus meant it when He told us that you cannot serve BOTH God and Money. Looks like Money is winning too often in these scenarios.

  174. @ Janey:

    “From now on, I’m thinking about wearing sunglasses when I visit a mega-church.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I’d say ride your bike in the fresh morning autumn air to the best breakfast spot and have a leisurely one instead.

  175. Jim Challies wrote:

    If your church leaders deem that software which tracks members attendance and giving helps them keep better watch over members souls than they have a God-given mandate to utilize that software.

    Yep. I deem that some humans are taking over God’s own work because He’s not doing it well enough on His own. After all, the Holy Spirit is a still small voice and we know how spiritually deaf everyone else is.

    These select humans are deeply spiritually acute and have direct access to God. They learned it at seminary.

    God-mandated, woohoo.

  176. @ Paula Rice:

    Great comment. I tend to be somewhat off the reservation in how I view what has taken place in the SBC. I do not view Mohler as an ideologue but more as a political strategist. I base this on his path to power at an early age and some of his working partnerships locally and such. You would not believe the propaganda surrounding his appointment at age 33. He was the brilliant scholar who read 3 hard books a day…blah…blah…..

    But every rising leader needs a common enemy/theme to rally young followers and secure his position. And our culture is rapidly sliding into oligarchical collectivism which fits perfectly within the Calvinistic paradigm. The group/faction is everything. The individual who fits into no faction/group is dead. Individualism is considered selfish and not accepted by most factions.

    What is important is that his followers have been so indoctrinated they are true believers.

  177. Niteowl wrote:

    My apologies – my sarcasm meter was off last night.

    I’ve made the opposite error, attributed a dumb statement as satire when they were serious. I think they took it as an insult.

  178. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    And now, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is reformed preaching.

    I laughed but it is so close to the truth it is sad.

  179. Not surprised. These organizations are running like businesses so of course they need ways to track their metrics.

    What disturbs me is the the tracking of giving. They could build a profile on you even if you are not a member. My wife gives to the church regularly but is not a member. She doesn’t give on line but the her name and address is on the envelope for tax receipt purposes.

    But they don’t need a computer system. Before she was married, the church contacted her to join a single women’s group. How they knew she was single, she never did figure out since the church had over 1000 attendees. By the time they had contacted her, she was already engaged to yours truly. I attended the church briefly and for about 5 years kept getting birthday cards from the pastor. I never signed a membership but did give to the church – my name went on the giving envelope – for tax receipt purposes.

    The birthday cards stopped a couple of years after I stopped attending (and giving).

    This was around the year 2002-2003 so I think apps such as this are automating what has been going on for a long time. Like Dee said – demand drives the innovation and much of what is out there is already used by Google, Apple and other marketing groups.

  180. Life has changed so much in the past few years and the church is stuck in a rut. It is not reaching those most in need.
    Yesterday, I performed a marriage in the backseat of a car. It was suppose to be in a park, but we had 5+ inches of rain, so, the bride and groom rather than move it to an inside location, got into the back on an SUV.
    The couple have been together for ten years, decided to make themselves ” legal.” No children are involved, they won’t have any.
    They won’t darken the doors of a church for several reasons, local judges won’t marry people anymore due to the ” gay” issue and politics, so, me, who hasn’t been on a church staff in years was called on to ” do” the ceremony.
    Should I have said ” No” or should I have acted as I did letting them become ” legal?”
    Would I do it again? ” Yes.” And here was my fee. ” I hugged both parties necks.” As we say here in East Texas.
    Would any of these Neo-Cal, YRR guys stepped up here?

  181. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    And now, three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is reformed preaching.

    No, that’s Really Truly Reformed Preaching.
    More Calvinist than Calvin could ever dream of.
    “Reformed preaching” is just Arminianist Heresy.

  182. Lydia wrote:

    You would not believe the propaganda surrounding his appointment at age 33. He was the brilliant scholar who read 3 hard books a day…blah…blah…..

    Don’t forget born from a unicorn with new stars blazing in the sky to announce his birth, just like Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong-Il.

  183. Paula Rice wrote:

    Calvin thought, like Catholics thought, that the ‘common people’ don’t know what to believe, and so the Pastors of churches must come to agreement so everybody else knows what to do.

    Just now it’s CALVIN on the Throne of Peter decreeing Dogma Ex Cathedra, and all his fanboys have followed suit.

  184. Lydia wrote:

    And our culture is rapidly sliding into oligarchical collectivism which fits perfectly within the Calvinistic paradigm. The group/faction is everything. The individual who fits into no faction/group is dead. Individualism is considered selfish and not accepted by most factions.

    Wowzers, Lydia. this sounds like the espresso of the plotline for a dystopian novel! You could write it and make kazillions of dollars. Sadly, there’s a glitch in the Matrix, though. It’s the plot of the *Divergent* series by Veronica Roth: five factions, each with a distinct paradigm of core values and virtues based on what character qualities each faction believes will prevent war. You choose your faction-for-life at age 16, and if you end up factionless you are basically without an identity. Plus there are behind-the-scenes intrigues as various factions’ leaders seek political alliances so they can control everything/everyone and “ensure peace” in post-apocalyptic Chicago.

    However, heroes do arise who are able to save the day — the Divergents. The can do this because their mind doesn’t conform. Their mental flexibility allows them to think beyond just one faction’s paradigm to have greater integration of critical reasoning and personal character. And in focusing on those who are “divergent” in their thinking processes, Ms. Roth seems to have honed in on a key solution to the myopia and conformity that creates conflict under the guise of maintaining peace.

    I suspect that self-perpetuating factions like virulent Calvigelicalism will eventually implode. Their skeletal structures may seem solid, but are actually corroded by “spiritual osteoporosis.”

  185. Paula Rice wrote:

    It’s as if guys like Piper, Mohler, Duncan et al want to take it back to Geneva and the 16th century and skip the Great Awakening.

    Exactly! Good insight, Paula! The folks you note, along with other New Calvinist who’s who, believe they are God’s instruments of the New Reformation. They believe that the church has drifted from God’s plan hatched by Calvin in Geneva 500 years ago and they have come into the world for such a time as this to right the gospel ship (what arrogance). Indeed, they skip over the First and Second Great Awakenings and the spiritual balance of those moves of God during times of genuine revival and spiritual awakening. It’s interesting to note that many New Calvinists view a future Third Great Awakening as a resurgence of Calvinism throughout the world (the true gospel, they say). It’s the age old battle of genuine vs. counterfeit … of Truth vs. half-truth … to distract the people of God from the Great Commission.

    Paula Rice wrote:

    As I’ve been learning more about Calvin, I’m discovering how aligned his thinking was with the Catholic Church.

    No doubt about it. Calvin’s reformation required magisterial authority, patterning itself after the successful model of Catholicism to control folks by a powerful pulpit. The true reformers, in my assessment, were the Anabaptists – many of whom were persecuted by Calvin. New Calvinists (the spirit of Calvin) are still trying to persecute Baptists and the free church of Jesus Christ … whosoever will may come!

  186. Janey wrote:

    From now on, I’m thinking about wearing sunglasses when I visit a mega-church.

    Take elastigirl’s advice and go for a nice leisurely bike ride & breakfast instead. I can almost guarantee that it will be time far better spent than squandering it at a ‘mega’.

    “Of all the commodities allotted to the children of men by the Almighty, time is the most valuable.”
    ~ Unknown ~

  187. Patrice wrote:

    These select humans are deeply spiritually acute and have direct access to God. They learned it at seminary.

    God-mandated, woohoo.

    God-mandated voodoo you mean.

  188. @ brad/futuristguy:

    Hee hee. Art and literature are great ways to express truths, thinking processes, etc, if we can look beyond the entertainment value which I fear most teens don’t. Some of my favorites are Orwell and Dostoyevsky.

  189. Nancy2 wrote:

    @ Piper A A:
    We can tell that you are not the real John Piper. You don’t use nearly enough flowery words to be convincing! Get a dictionary and a thesaurus and try a little harder next time, OK?

    Mara wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Sure, but you gotta love the “Hedonistically yours” part.

    How’s this for the real Piper?
    “Unless one is born again AS A CHRISTIAN HEDONIST he cannot see the kingdom of God”

  190. Lydia wrote:

    Individualism is considered selfish and not accepted by most factions.

    I’m off the reservation, too, as you put it, and I don’t have a lot of patience with those who seek reformation within churches/organizations who show no desire to reform. Calvin, for example, was aware he was breaking away from something, but couldn’t bring himself to say he was breaking away from the one true, holy, catholic, apostolic church. He held to a very strong doctrine of the church. He wasn’t interested in replacing it (although that’s what ended up happening), rather he saw himself in a long line of reformers, working from within. Once he began to call the Pope the anti-Christ and the Pope called him the same, compromise pretty much wasn’t on the table anymore. But Calvin continued in the mindset of a Reformist, saying the Pope had broken with him.

    The conflict that occurred between Calvin & Jerome Bolsec points out how strongly Calvin believed in the exercise of his own interpretative authority. Bolsec was a new convert to protestantism (who wasn’t then) who came to Geneva and challenged a Calvinist who was lecturing on predestination, asking him openly to prove what he was saying based on scripture. The response? Calvin ended up having him thrown in prison. Calvin said the guy was the worst kind of heretic because Bolsec claimed he was able to interpret Scripture for himself.

    Similarly, I think Mohler and his band of brothers are working set in place structures of church discipline by which individuals who dare to different, or who hear from God in ways contrary to their magisterial directives, can be swiftly dealt with and shunned or excommunicated.

    Mohler thinks protestant liberalism and the Jesus Movement were failures, and the gospel was corrupted by abortion rights, feminism, homosexuality, gay marriage, women entering the ministry, etc etc. I think God’s revelation of himself and of his will continues to progress unabated and the gospel is not only intact but has improved. I think Mohler doesn’t accept the areas of advancement, that Christianity needs to go back in order to move forward, and that Calvinism is the key. And I think he and his crew are obstacles and not catalysts!

  191. Max wrote:

    The folks you note, along with other New Calvinist who’s who, believe they are God’s instruments of the New Reformation…It’s interesting to note that many New Calvinists view a future Third Great Awakening as a resurgence of Calvinism throughout the world (the true gospel, they say). It’s the age old battle of genuine vs. counterfeit … of Truth vs. half-truth … to distract the people of God from the Great Commission.

    Maybe without knowing it, these guys are the inspiration for the Left Behind books. What bothers me is their steadfast resolve to soldier on without listening to others. They’re right on course. Nothings wrong with their maps. They know the way, thank you very much, and they’re the leaders. But it looks to me like they’ve already entered the swamplands!

  192. Nancy2 wrote:

    This is off topic for this thread, but there is a discussion going on about NAMB planter rules. Several pastors commenting say they’d rather drive by a woman in a broken down car on the road than risk their reputation by being seen alone with her!
    http://sbcvoices.com/would-you-qualify-under-nambs-church-planter-code-of-conduct/#comment-305300

    Remember all those times in the Gospels when Jesus was all,
    “Hey lady, sorry, I can’t let you touch me, and I can’t talk to you, because if I’m seen with impure women, or women who have shady pasts, the religious leaders and the common people may think I have terrible morals My reputation means everything to me, so I can’t stop to talk to you. Good-bye.”

  193. singleman wrote:

    That’s a good question. My experience is that churches which promote marriage and family do a much better job of supporting existing marriages than helping singles meet prospective mates and prepare for marriage, at least until the engagement takes place.

    A big yep to all that. Churches care about the already married but don’t give a flip about the singles desiring marriage who are trying to get married but who can’t find an eligible partner.

  194. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    It’s not encouraging to the advancement of the gospel! But I guess there’s always the holdouts who hunker down in their bunkers, expecting a big, apocalyptic fight to ensue over their key battle positions which they’re set to defend with cannons and muskets.

  195. I don’t really see anything that looks like a swing toward a moderate position. It looks to me like progressives and traditionalists are getting farther apart on a number of areas. Even if neo-calvinism implodes I am thinking that something will take its place on the far right, especially with the changing political and cultural environment which is drawing lines in the sand which some people cannot and will not cross.

  196. Paula Rice wrote:

    Similarly, I think Mohler and his band of brothers are working set in place structures of church discipline by which individuals who dare to different, or who hear from God in ways contrary to their magisterial directives, can be swiftly dealt with and shunned or excommunicated.

    That is exactly what is happening. Have you read the tortured explanations from 9 Marx Jonathan Leeman on why we need human mediators who hold the keys?

    I am hoping to convince the shunned and excommunicated that they wear it as a badge of honor.

  197. Daisy wrote:

    Billy Graham: It’s a Sin to Criticize Your Pastor
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/billy-graham-its-sin-in-the-eyes-of-god-to-criticize-your-pastor-148875/

    It’s a sin for Billy Graham to say it’s a sin to criticize your pastor.

    I’m hoping this is just a sign of a mental decline, a quote taken out of context, or a hoax, not a heartfelt position. But if the latter, then all I have to say is what a buffoon Mr. Graham is turning out to be. I used to respect him.

  198. Law Prof wrote:

    It’s a sin for Billy Graham to say it’s a sin to criticize your pastor.

    I thought he handled the question well. He was talking about the habit of some people to constantly complain about the preacher, whoever he was and whatever he did, and he noted that this did not mean that pastors were beyond criticism but rather that constant criticism was over the line. Well, sure it is. We used to say that some people had roast preacher for lunch every Sunday. That is what BG was calling sinful. I am thinking that doing that to anybody, preacher or not, is over the line and the constant critic of other people probably needs to repent themselves.

  199. @ okrapod:

    These days the pastors tend to see questioning or analyzing what they teach as criticizing. They have a bully pulpit each week. It would be naive to think that people won’t question or analyze them. The problem is that church is a spectator sport. I realize that is the traditional norm it is just that I don’t see the point anymore of listening to one guy week after week when I can read, study and listen to scholars from all over the world.

    I think this is one reason so many pastors are focusing on becoming a cult of personality. A brand. With membership covenants and such to keep folks in line and focused on them instead of Christ.

  200. __

    A Faux Make-Over: “Toto I don’t think this is Jesus’ church anymore…”

    hmmm…

    “The folks you note, along with other New Calvinist who’s who, believe they are God’s instruments of the New Reformation. They believe that the church has drifted from God’s plan hatched by Calvin in Geneva 500 years ago and they have come into the world for such a time as this to right the gospel ship…” – Max

    Max, these  New Calvinist guys don’t need an excuse, they are ‘God’s Anointed Servants’ ™ bring the ‘true’ gospel ‘light’ to a broken church…

    (sadface)

    …déjame escondo en la sombra de tus alas, Señor O ‘!

    Sopy
    __
    Inpirational relief: Third Day : ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OD6Z1-e7UgU

    🙂

  201. okrapod wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    It’s a sin for Billy Graham to say it’s a sin to criticize your pastor.
    I thought he handled the question well. He was talking about the habit of some people to constantly complain about the preacher, whoever he was and whatever he did, and he noted that this did not mean that pastors were beyond criticism but rather that constant criticism was over the line. Well, sure it is. We used to say that some people had roast preacher for lunch every Sunday. That is what BG was calling sinful. I am thinking that doing that to anybody, preacher or not, is over the line and the constant critic of other people probably needs to repent themselves.

    Fair enough, perhaps I should read the article next time. : )

  202. What gets me is that these places prey on the elderly, and they are often misguided. It’s not new. About 10 yrs ago, my mother-in-law was giving money regularly to the Joni and Marcus Lamb ministry. After she fell ill, my husband stepped in and took over her finances. We realized she couldn’t afford to give the money she was giving to the Lamb’s. They came after us. They wanted her bank account number to start withdrawals. They kept hounding us with letters. I then wrote several letters to them to cease this tactic. I finally had to get on the phone and insisted they leave her alone. I threatened legal action if they didn’t. That got their attention. I feel this is the way keeping track of people at church would go. The elderly are very vulnerable and so are the young people.

  203. Paula Rice wrote:

    What bothers me is their steadfast resolve to soldier on without listening to others.

    The problem with deception is that you don’t know that you are deceived because you are deceived. Soooo … New Calvinists press forward in their delusion disregarding warnings from the watchmen.

  204. __

    “Martin Luther’s Wittenburg Discussion Just Got A little More Lively?”

    hmmm…

    “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”   Martin Luther

    http://www.luther.de/en/worms.html

    “The problem is that church is a spectator sport. I realize that is the traditional norm it is just that I don’t see the point anymore of listening to one guy week after week when I can read, study and listen to scholars from all over the world.” -Lydia

    Yep.

    From all over time as well:

    (for example)…there is the assortment of seventy thousand serious books that are available at Logos:

    https://m.youtube.com/user/LogosBibleSoftware

    (we won’t count what books/audio/video is/are available through-out the internet, as well… 

    -snicker-

    …nail that one time, huh?

    hahahahahaha

    Έχετε έκανε να σοφότερο από τους δασκάλους μου …

    FAIT LUX ?

    “…church times they are a chang’in…”

    Sopy
    __
    Comic relief: Bob Dylan:  The Times They Are A Changin’ (1964)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e7qQ6_RV4VQ

    🙂

  205. Lydia wrote:

    Have you read the tortured explanations from 9 Marx Jonathan Leeman on why we need human mediators who hold the keys?

    I confess I hadn’t but searched for it and was so transfixed after reading it that I ran off to register for T4G but was flummoxed when I discovered I missed yesterday’s midnight deadline for the lowest rate 😛

  206. @ Max:
    I agree. And I’m hoping for a 3rd Great Awakening, too. But if I woke up and discovered those guys were the architects of it, I think I’d promptly crawl back under the covers!

  207. Max wrote:

    The problem with deception is that you don’t know that you are deceived because you are deceived.

    Soooo true!

  208. @ Olivia:
    How about tracking when the pastor is actually studying for his sermon? Or visiting church members? Or going to the hospitals, or jails? Or praying for members? Or helping widows and orphans? I would like to see that app…

  209. me wrote:

    @ Olivia:
    How about tracking when the pastor is actually studying for his sermon? Or visiting church members? Or going to the hospitals, or jails? Or praying for members? Or helping widows and orphans? I would like to see that app…

    Me too!

  210. @ Lydia:

    “Are you sure girls are allowed?”
    +++++++++++

    can they truly deny a female-with-ticket entrance? if I had a ticket, i’d try to procure an additional ticket for a writer of the local newspaper and ask them to accompany me.

  211. I thought about going to T4G, until I saw the price. I will only pay so much to be miserable. Still thinking of showing up at CJ’s some Sunday, which would be free.

  212. __

    “What A Lucrative ‘christian’ Racket?”

    FORGET “warnings from the watchmen?”

    DeceptionRUs? 

    hmmm…

    “New Calvinism Rules!” ™

    huh?

    …isn’t this YRR stuff ok? but it’s such the rave. New Calvinism is a  spiritual deception? Who knew? But for these New Calvinist guyz it’s apparently christian 501(c)3 religious church business as usual. 

    Krunch.

    …but they are spreading legalistic depravity as they push ‘Indwelling Sin’ ™ , planting T.U.L.I.P. ™ and faithfully playing ‘follow dear calvinist leader ‘ (c) as they spread their ‘true’ gospel, follow their ‘sovereign god’ ™  to the promise ‘elect’ ™ land. What more could folks like Albert Mohler and Mark Dever ask for? As the band played on? Play that funky calvinesta music until the Christian churches die?

    could b.

    (sadface)

    Sopy
    __
    Comic relief: “Play that funky New Calvinist music” ?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qe1ScoePqVA

    Edicational awareness : Roger E. Olson; “Against  Calvinism” (an introduction) Audio Book
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LjY2b1khfE8

    🙂

  213. On the topic of Billy Graham’s thoughts on whether it is a sin to criticise* one’s pastor:

    There are two sides to this age-old story.

    TWW was set up (I’m simplifying a bit, but here’s the gist of it) to defend the victims of abuse, in churches, of the vulnerable by those who have influence and authority. In most cases considered by this blog, those with influence and authority occupy a pulpit. They have seated themselves in Moses’ seat and require obedience from many, and influence over many more through their books and speaking engagements. Because these men (and occasionally women) have a very wide reach, and invariably have sought to build and extend that reach, it is appropriate to hold their deeds up to some kind of light. They have, after all, sought to have influence and even authority far beyond their settings of everyday accountability.

    But there are other kinds of congregation than the mega-church motivational speaking empire. In churches that are congregationally-governed, it may be the case that the place of highest influence is not the pulpit. In the worst case, the pastor is a trusting and servant-hearted man and his himself dictated to, and abused by, a powerful clique who are not officially leaders and therefore have no real accountability, but in practice call all the shots. His livelihood is in their hands.

    I can’t agree with Dr Graham in the sense that both models involve the splitting of the local church into self-contained splinters and confining of “ministry” to a narrow professional clergy, and I can find neither in the biblescriptures. But in any model of church, the power-hungry will seek the positions of power and work hard to protect those positions for themselves. And they will, sooner or later, exercise that power by making others suffer.

    * Or “criticize”

  214. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    All of what you have said is well thought through. There are more people, however, who have not been considered. There are those of us who don’t want to have to listen to constant complaints and criticisms including from ole grumpy over there on the third pew from the front who thinks he knows everything anyhow and thinks he can pollute the air and wreck the peace with his constant complaints and opposition to everything that anybody but especially the preacher tries to do. It it like the person who pees in the pool where the rest of us are trying to swim.

    I am thinking that the woman who asked the question of BG concerning some co-worker on the job was just as sick of listening to such as that as I am. Am I biased? Sure. I have never been in a mega where the preacher was the problem, but the church I just left has managed to run off early three of the last three pastors and most of the congregation by certain pew persons who IMO just need escorted out the door.

    Anyhow, I agree that there are two sides to the issue.

  215. Eagle wrote:

    I wrote a post about how celebrity pastors become divisive. I talk about Mark Driscoll, myself,

    You know, I never had you down as a celebrity pastor … 🙂

  216. Donna wrote:

    Mark of the Beast

    I was going to say the mark of the app, but you beat me to it.

    One answer to this problem of tracking people is if the church is so big that the pastor and elders (or whatever nomenclature adorns the particular church) cannot know the names of all the congregation, and therefore know them as individuals, the church has become too big and unwieldy and needs to split. This would not prevent a church being fairly big with the advantages that may bring, but would prevent the mega-empire with all the appeal to human weakness that that can bring with it.

  217. And finally for now, persuant to my recent private and confidential contacts with TWW at the Highest Level, if news of my generous donation of $170,000.00 (in words: ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS) became general knowledge due to an app being hacked, it would be – well – umm – quite embarrassing for all concerned …

  218. me wrote:

    How about tracking when the pastor is actually studying for his sermon? Or visiting church members? Or going to the hospitals, or jails? Or praying for members? Or helping widows and orphans?

    Rank Hath Its Privileges.

  219. @ Jim Challies:
    Wow, I have not read such well-crafted propaganda in quite some time. Nicely done. 😛 Your words are so carefully selected that I could have copied/pasted them from TGC’s twitter feed.

  220. Absolutely Divorce Minister!! Great point !! That way of defining “caring and loving” is usually hidden control.

    Divorce Minister wrote:

    Hebrews 13:17
    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

    Churchian leaders, religionists and “pastors” (they certainly aren’t “shepherds”) Love to use this verse to assume that they have some God-given “authority” over us common folk. WRONG!

    (Insert Monty Python joke here: “What’s brown and sounds like a bell? … DUNG!!”)

    This verse is not referring to church leaders. “Church” as we culturally and traditionally define it didn’t even exist at the time Hebrews was written.

    The word translated here “souls” can also be translated as “lives”.

    Hebrews 13:17 isn’t talking about some human agent who has positioned himself (herself) between God and His redeemed. In fact, Hebrews 8:6 makes it very clear that Jesus is the superior mediator.

    Hebrews 13:17 is referring to civil leaders who have responsibility for our “lives”, not religious “leaders” who have responsibility for our “souls”.

    Hebrews 13:17 is telling us that we should have confidence in our civic leaders, BECAUSE GOD has placed them in those positions of authority.

    We are to pray for them. We are to recognize that they have God-given responsibilities. When we disagree with them in a democratic society, such as we have in the U.S., we can vote against them. But as long as they are in office, we are obligated to God to pray for them and to have confidence that they are appointed by God for this time.

    Hebrews 13:17 is in NO WAY talking about “preachers” or “pastors” or whatever pseudo-sanctified word that is in vogue today. There is no man, or woman, who holds a position between me and God.

  221. XianJaneway wrote:

    @ Jim Challies:
    Wow, I have not read such well-crafted propaganda in quite some time. Nicely done. Your words are so carefully selected that I could have copied/pasted them from TGC’s twitter feed.

    “Effective propaganda consists of Simplification and Repetition.”
    — Reichsmininster Josef Goebbels

  222. @ Lydia:

    “Mohler is friends with the big cheeses thete. Good luck. The religion reporter deleted his quotes in CJ.”
    +++++++++++

    then it’s Diane Sawyer and me.

  223. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Billy or Franklin signing the Old Man’s Name?

    Yeah, I had wondered about that.

    Some news stories I’ve seen in the last couple of years about the Graham family makes me wonder if Franklin is just cashing in on his father’s name and legacy, and how much of this stuff is REALLY written by B. Graham.

    I saw in some news story (can’t remember if this was on TV or online?) that Franklin has done stuff like buried his mother on the Billy Graham amusement park thing, which went against her wishes. His mother had wanted to be buried someplace else; she expressly stated she did not want to be buried at the Billy Graham amusement part/ tourist attraction place, but that is where Franklin had her buried.

    I so totally would not do that, if it were me. If one of my parents said their last wish was to be buried in X location and never ever to be buried at Z, that is where I would bury them. I would not go and bury them at Z. If you really love your parents and are just a decent person, how can you go against a wish like that? But reportedly, that is what Franklin did.

    I get the impression he is using his father’s name to make himself a brand and a buck. I could be wrong, of course.

    The page I linked to in the post above was somewhat balanced, in that it says within that B.G. does say SOME criticism of pastors is okay, but I still find his (or whomever ghost wrote it for him) overall stance that “it’s a sin to criticize a pastor is wrong” to be too much of a blanket statement.

  224.   __

    “CalvinestaMegaBrew?”

    hmmm…

    “Obey your ‘Calvinesta Dear Leaders’ (c) and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your pocketbooks, as those who will have to give absolutely NO accounting. Let them do this with concealed avarice and not with too much growling, for that would be of no advantage to their bottom line…”

      These provebial 501(c)3 religious wolves have mis-appropriated the word of God, and expect ‘you’ to swallow their religious pap. 

      They prey upon the gullibility, ignorance, and naiveté of their intended victims as they enrich their pockets, solely at their ususpecting victim(s) expense. All in the name and authority of their ‘Calvinistic theological religious system’ (c).

    Let the Church PewSitters beware!

    Certainily ALL is not right in RiverCity.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s60hOgqLFGg

    This has been a public service announcement.

    (you can go back ta sleep now)

     -snicker- 

    Sopy

    🙂

  225. okrapod wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    All of what you have said is well thought through. There are more people, however, who have not been considered. There are those of us who don’t want to have to listen to constant complaints and criticisms including from ole grumpy over there on the third pew from the front who thinks he knows everything anyhow and thinks he can pollute the air and wreck the peace with his constant complaints and opposition to everything that anybody but especially the preacher tries to do. It it like the person who pees in the pool where the rest of us are trying to swim.
    I am thinking that the woman who asked the question of BG concerning some co-worker on the job was just as sick of listening to such as that as I am. Am I biased? Sure. I have never been in a mega where the preacher was the problem, but the church I just left has managed to run off early three of the last three pastors and most of the congregation by certain pew persons who IMO just need escorted out the door.
    Anyhow, I agree that there are two sides to the issue.

    The biggest problem is the model. I am biased in favor of the biblical model, which is nothing like our pastor/CEO system.

  226. I was looking on the Internet to see why people changed from Christianity to Islam. One of the reasons was that the church had such low expectations of the members.

    I looked at the 5 things that you warned against, and I can see good reasons that each of them might help with providing a valued experience for members. I agree that they can be abused, but don’t agree that even in most cases they would be abused.

    Maybe you are over reacting? Too much exposure to abuse? Paranoia?

  227. Bennett Willis wrote:

    Maybe you are over reacting?

    Maybe you haven’t dealt with the fallout and mental trauma of either being abused or helping another get out and get over abusive church situations.
    Maybe you don’t get the legal ramifications these membership covenants and big church brothers bring up.
    Maybe you don’t get a lot of things.

  228. Law Prof wrote:

    The biggest problem is the model. I am biased in favor of the biblical model, which is nothing like our pastor/CEO system.

    The model certainly has to be something that people can endure and in which they can function. I am not convinced, however, that what you may be saying is the biblical model would necessarily be a requirement any more than holy kisses and head coverings would be a requirement. Maybe different models are more suitable for different people and different cultures. Of course, I think that the church has some leeway in making current decisions without necessarily trying to recreate first century church culture–so I realize that differs from some folks.

  229. Bennett Willis wrote:

    Maybe you are over reacting? Too much exposure to abuse? Paranoia?

    I might have written something like that years ago. But at some point, evidence and experience makes certain conclusions difficult to avoid unless one is hopelessly delusional or deriving a benefit of some sort from ungodly behavior and belief systems. One man’s paranoia is another woman’s wisdom.

  230. @ Bennett Willis:
    The question to ask is why people feel the need for rules, roles and formulas of authoritarian Christianity or Islam.

    Why is America producing such insecure adults who buy into group think? (Like many of us have)

  231. Bennett Willis wrote:

    I was looking on the Internet to see why people changed from Christianity to Islam. One of the reasons was that the church had such low expectations of the members.
    I looked at the 5 things that you warned against, and I can see good reasons that each of them might help with providing a valued experience for members. I agree that they can be abused, but don’t agree that even in most cases they would be abused.
    Maybe you are over reacting? Too much exposure to abuse? Paranoia?

    Or perhaps you just have no earthy clue what you’re talking about. Just a thought.

  232. okrapod wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    The biggest problem is the model. I am biased in favor of the biblical model, which is nothing like our pastor/CEO system.
    The model certainly has to be something that people can endure and in which they can function. I am not convinced, however, that what you may be saying is the biblical model would necessarily be a requirement any more than holy kisses and head coverings would be a requirement. Maybe different models are more suitable for different people and different cultures. Of course, I think that the church has some leeway in making current decisions without necessarily trying to recreate first century church culture–so I realize that differs from some folks.

    Or maybe the model with a CEO pastor is so distinctly unbiblical as to be a veritable usurpation of the position of Jesus as the head and sole mediator between God and man. I cannot imagine the CEO pastor model being anything under any circumstances, any culture, that is good or helpful.

  233. Bennett Willis wrote:

    I was looking on the Internet to see why people changed from Christianity to Islam. One of the reasons was that the church had such low expectations of the members.

    I have read similar. That may even be true. I don’t know.

    However, the opposite can certainly be true. Some churches, preachers, or denominations push such high requirments in members, or pressure Christians to feel they have to always go “all out,” that it stresses the ones who follow this out, to the degree some of them leave the Christian faith, and/or get exhausted, or have a deep faith crisis.

    Like the young guy who wrote the book “Runaway Radical.”

    His story is here:
    Being “radical” for Jesus: The stories that don’t get told
    http://boz.religionnews.com/2015/02/20/radical-jesus-stories-dont-get-told/

    High expectations, a lot of structure, and demanding religious rules can also drive some people away from faith.

  234. @ Lydia:

    Possibly because everything is changing which is always difficult. At the same time some of the things in our nation seem to be crumbling, like the economy from time to time. Meanwhile the word keeps going out about the next thing to fear, like robots replacing people’s jobs such that the industrial revolution will look like child’s play in comparison. What the..we just lost jobs to overseas while closing the factories and the mills and industrializing agriculture. Masses of the high schoolers already have no hope of anything but minimum wage at best. Add to that shifting political ideas, and terrorism with the ever present threat of the next war. We have superbugs, and shifting ethics, and the constant changes of regs on the job such that people can hardly remember which was the newest reg and which one was to be discarded; a great way to keep people off balance and potentially controllable. One great consolation is dwindling and that would be the idea that one was married to somebody who had your back, but the stats do not show that so much any more. And we have the deterioration of major societal systems, like public education–check out what percentage of the kids in detroit cannot read at grade level for example. Where is the hope? To what can people turn? Well, there is always religion which I suppose is potentially better than political radicalism and sex and drugs and crime.

    Why do they turn to authoritarian religion? Security and certainty and identity and to have something to actually do which might be of value to themselves, because after all if you are a good girl maybe god might take care of you somehow, because for sure nothing and nobody else can be relied on. I think that is why. Fear.

  235. Sorry if someone already brought this up and it has been answered…I am catching up and have not read through all the comments. If it has been addressed then obviously ignore it or delete it and I’ll probably get to the answer in due time. My question is in regards to this quote (which is admittedly tertiary to the main point of the post).

    “The Deebs have long contended that there are numerous factors that have influenced this decline not the least of which is the Conservative Resurgence within the SBC. This combined with “hit you over the head” Neo-Calvinism, strict gender roles, a hard line view on young earth creationism, and the rise of the celebrity pastor class in a neat package. Add onto this the never ending focus on gay marriage while conveniently overlooking the divorce statistics in the SBC, bizarre and harsh church discipline (see The Village Church, Capital Hill Baptist Church, etc.).”

    If this is the case, then to what do you attribute the significantly more steep decline of the liberal mainline denominations? This isn’t really disputed but I can find links if necessary). I think it would be easier to argue the conservative resurgence has mitigated some of the decline, based on the timing of the resurgence and far steeper decline of the denominations that are more decidedly liberal.

  236. I would actually argue that there are too many factors to pick one, or even several, causes. The SBC benefits from having a huge presence in the south with remains more religious than the rest of the US which I would argue is one of the more plausible explanations for its slower decline. I just don’t think there is any way to argue the conservative resurgence had a net negative impact.

  237. @ joey:

    I agree, there are various reasons, but having seen anecdotal evidence, such as my wife and I, as well as two seminarian friends who left after “the crazies took over” (their words) who once were part of the SBC but now will have nothing to do with it, I can say that at least in some cases the SBC has lost people due to the conservative resurgence. I frankly do not think it is a “conservative” resurgence at all, but a liberal resurgence led by liberals such as Al Mohler who never saw a scripture they weren’t cynically willing to warp or twist in pursuit of doing it their own way to serve their self interests.

    Not every person who cares little about the integrity of the Bible (i.e., a “liberal”) is out there slapping a rainbow on their church sign, many liberals are out there twisting the scriptures so as to make themselves out to be mediators between God and man, establishing authority for themselves neither supported by Scripture nor allowed by it. They are every bit as liberal as the ones who twist the scriptures because the axe they grind is hedonism. I don’t care if one’s axe is authoritarianism or hedonism, they are no less liberal just because they say “We uphold the primacy of the Gospel”. The only difference between the authoritarian liberals and the hedonistic liberals is the latter groups is at least honest about their disregard for the Bible, the former group is more devious about it.

  238. One thing I want to say about churchix and maybe I would even be willing to write a post about this at my blog.

    During the Iraqi insurgency and the Afghanistan war the United States military used facial recognition software, recorded eye scans, and finger prints to keep track of insurgents and members of the Taliban. In Afghanistan the Taliban tunneled out of a prison in Kandahar and the military used the technology to capture militants again. The New York Times discussed this technology in this article.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/world/asia/14identity.html?_r=0

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that the SBC is using the same technology to track members that the US military used to follow insurgents, and members of the Taliban? In the end I find this damning of the SBC.

  239. Abusive will always be abusive. It is their nature just like spots on a deer. No apps is going to change that, may some can make it very easy for the abusers to abuse without being noticed. Also may allow the abuser to justify with concern for you. You all know when there is genuine love and concern and when the abuser is at the door. Most abusers fall under that category because they focus is on the money and control and not in your well being and care. If you are poor, these guys will not even bother to call you and would even quickly get you off their books.

  240. There are a lot of ways to get people to come to church. Here is one example.

    Tonight at my church the church will be packed out with people from the larger community-if this year is like last year. Talk about attendance. But here is the thing. They are having a requiem mass for the feast of all souls which is today. The choir will be singing ‘Requiem’ by Gabriel Faure’. (I don’t know how to do the accent over the e on my computer here.) People have submitted names to be included in the prayers. This will be an anglo-catholic requiem mass, not RCC.

    I am not going. I am babysitting the g’kids.

  241. Abused by SGM wrote:

    Abusive will always be abusive. It is their nature just like spots on a deer.

    Yes, abusive is abusive, be it a self-anointed leader in church manipulating, setting people off against each other, and generally twisting the truth, or be it a person edging themselves into a forum populated by those who’ve been abused and giving them “helpful” comments which amount to how people are just “over reacting” [sic], are damaged (and presumably unreliable) goods from “too much exposure to abuse” or are given over to “paranoia”.

    Yes, abusers like to abuse, whether it be gaslighting people in the church, or gaslighting abuse survivors on a forum in the guise of being helpful.

  242. Eagle wrote:

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that the SBC is using the same technology to track members that the US military used to follow insurgents, and members of the Taliban? In the end I find this damning of the SBC.

    Remember when the USSR and Warsaw Pact built a wall across Berlin to keep their people in?

  243. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    First there we were watching John Paul II hanging on even beyond when he was actually hanging on, and now watching Billy Graham apparently doing the same thing-this is no fun for anybody I am thinking. The bible says there is a time to be born and a time to die, but sometimes our biology makes that all very messy.

  244. joey wrote:

    I would actually argue that there are too many factors to pick one, or even several, causes. The SBC benefits from having a huge presence in the south with remains more religious than the rest of the US which I would argue is one of the more plausible explanations for its slower decline. I just don’t think there is any way to argue the conservative resurgence had a net negative impact.

    Time will tell. I see future schisms within the SBC, especially in light of neo Calvinist teaching of ESS, and other potentially heretical teachings. Also brand loyalty to SBC is not as strong as it used to be.

  245.   __

    “What Ta Do When Da Church Lightz Go Out?”

    hmmm…

     The church Jesus founded, has in the 21st century been easlily beguiled and saduced by the means of cheap grace, and the abundance of electricity. 

    Sure. 

    He (Jesus) said it would happen–He  (Jesus) said one day the lights would go out, as well.

    blink, blink.

    huh?

    Yep.

    (sadface)

    —> The hope that Jesus offers transcends the mis-steps and ill actions of mankind, the tyranny of bad 501(c)3 religion,

    Avail yourself of the ‘hope’ that Jesus offers, today.

    (see da Bible for details)

    You’ll be glad you did!

    ATB

    I will lift my voice to worship You my King, I will find my strength, in the shadow of Thy Wings…

    Cheeeeeeeeeeese !

    Praise You Jesus!; they can’t take the love ‘You’ have to give, away…

    (no matter how hard those jack_buttz try)

    Nope, No Way, No How!

    Batter Up!

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    המגפה שגבעולים בחושך, או של ההרס שמטיל פסולת בצהריים. אלף עלולים ליפול בצד שלך ועשר אלף ביד הימין שלך, אבל זה לא יהיה לפנות אליך. אתה onl

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    Inspirational relief: Tercer Día – “Fija tus ojos en Jesús”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OD6Z1-e7UgU

    🙂

  246. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    That’s what I was thinking HUG. My guess is that he wrote it, and took it to his Dad and said…”Here sign this..” His Dad didn’t realize what he was signing or he was told something else and he signed it unknowingly. Franklin is shady… Franklin illustrates why religion should never be a father-son business.

  247. Mark wrote:

    Also brand loyalty to SBC is not as strong as it used to be.

    If a large number of women come to their senses, get fed up with being second class, sub human members who have to work to please men instead of God and walk out, the men won’t be able to hold the individual churches together.

  248. __

    The Re-Writing Of Dr. Billy Graham’s lifelong ‘understanding’ of the scriptures?

    hmmm…

    “The doom of Hell was not intended for human beings. God created us for fellowship with Him, though many have turned their backs on Him. Hell was created for the devil and his demons, and Satan wants to take the world with him into this diabolical place…” -Dr. Billy Graham, “Where I Am” 

    A present proverbial pseudepigraphic projection? 

    What?

    We will probably never know.

    Best ta stick with his public stadium sermons, huh?

    Can’t re-write Kind Folks need for Jesus…

    ATB

    Sopy

  249. Nancy2 wrote:

    If a large number of women come to their senses, get fed up with being second class, sub human members who have to work to please men instead of God and walk out, the men won’t be able to hold the individual churches together.

    That is true, but the problem is that neither will the women be able to hold the churches together. Trying to manage a household and raising children and holding a job and still maintain a modicum of self and sanity is already such a task that people have to short change something in that mix. Thus the hard core libbers complain when women choose mommy track jobs already.

    A study was done and a book written about this a few decades back. The question was what do women doctors do when trying to balance children, marriage and job get to be too much; what is the weak link and what suffers. Answer: never the children, rarely the job, usually the marriage.

    Try throwing responsibility for the church functioning on top of all that and it won’t work-except for the rich folks who can support their families on only one income and that being the husband’s income. As long as they have few children and as long as he hangs around and as long as she is willing to fix one more blasted covered dish (or preach one more sermon or bury one more parishioner?)

  250. Mark wrote:

    joey wrote:
    I would actually argue that there are too many factors to pick one, or even several, causes. The SBC benefits from having a huge presence in the south with remains more religious than the rest of the US which I would argue is one of the more plausible explanations for its slower decline. I just don’t think there is any way to argue the conservative resurgence had a net negative impact.
    Time will tell. I see future schisms within the SBC, especially in light of neo Calvinist teaching of ESS, and other potentially heretical teachings. Also brand loyalty to SBC is not as strong as it used to be.

    No, brand loyalty in the SBC isn’t what it was in the 50s, 60s, and even the 70s….look at the” seminaries ” and ” divinity schools” that have popped up at nearly every SBC university. This is part of the unraveling.
    My In-Law’s church recently called a man with a BA only from Criswell’s Institue in Dallas. Had questions about him at first, but he seems to be okay.

  251. okrapod wrote:

    Try throwing responsibility for the church functioning on top of all that and it won’t work-except for the rich folks who can support their families on only one income and that being the husband’s income.

    Great comment. I was thinking most “not paid to be a Christian” folks don’t want one more responsibility on top of everything else. They are ‘check the box’ church goers. I just don’t see the point anymore but understand people who do.

  252. K.D. wrote:

    No, brand loyalty in the SBC isn’t what it was in the 50s, 60s, and even the 70s….look at the” seminaries ” and ” divinity schools” that have popped up at nearly every SBC university. This is part of the unraveling.

    My city is an example of this unraveling. Of the four largest SBC churches in town (all large and one qualifies as a mega) three of the four have left SBC and now affiliate with groups who identify as moderate. Meanwhile the local formerly baptist university has long since opened its own divinity school. But and also there is an unmistakable IFB presence replete with actually accredited day schools, one of which is fundamentalist but keeps enough of a lid on it regarding the school so as to stay in business including non-IFB students and the other is more hard core fundamentalist. One of these includes a college which used to be a bible college type, and one of the top of the heap elders at SBC mega used to teach over there back when.

    What I am saying is that SBCness has not only changed but has also fragmented and has suffered dilution of ideas from the competition both on the moderate and fundamentalist ends of the baptist continuum. Now I have just been talking about the big churches where the big money is, but that is the name of the game apparently.

  253. joey wrote:

    I just don’t think there is any way to argue the conservative resurgence had a net negative impact.

    Negative impact? You bet! The SBC is coming apart because of “Conservative” merging into “Calvinist”. It’s obvious at this juncture, that SBC’s small reformed arm (which were mostly in the closet with their theology) jumped on the bandwagon under “conservative” during the inerrancy war to weasel their way to power. The Conservative Resurgence has actually become a Calvinist Resurgence, although that was not the original intent of the CR architects (except Mohler, i.e). There is yet a great multitude of Southern Baptists who are conservative in belief and practice, but not Calvinist. However, in their apathy and prayerlessness, they don’t have enough power to blow the dust off a peanut to halt the proliferation of New Calvinism in SBC ranks. Al Mohler saw the opening with New Calvinism to accomplish what SBC’s old reformed guard could not … Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America. I’ll give Dr. Mohler this … he is an excellent strategist.

  254. Pingback: Linkathon! » PhoenixPreacher | PhoenixPreacher UNITED STATES

  255. Eagle wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    That’s what I was thinking HUG. My guess is that he wrote it, and took it to his Dad and said…”Here sign this..” His Dad didn’t realize what he was signing or he was told something else and he signed it unknowingly. Franklin is shady… Franklin illustrates why religion should never be a father-son business.

    Which is a practical reason my church (RCC) made celibacy mandatory for clergy, back in the times that were the inspiration of Game of Thrones. No marriage, no legitimate heirs of church positions or spiritual power/righteousness/God’s favoritism.

    Remember what happened to Islam after Mohammed’s death — the Shia & Sunni are still battling out that inheritance blood feud.

    Somewhere on the Web:
    “How to become Pastor of a Mega: Be born the son of the Head Pastor with a name ending in ‘Junior’.”

  256. Nancy2 wrote:

    Mark wrote:

    Also brand loyalty to SBC is not as strong as it used to be.

    If a large number of women come to their senses, get fed up with being second class, sub human members who have to work to please men instead of God and walk out, the men won’t be able to hold the individual churches together.

    “Just like Lysistrata, Except Christian!”

  257. If you don’t trust your church leaders, go elsewhere.

    Clearly church attendance is encouraged, even commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

    Clearly oversight of churches is a command (Proverbs 27, Acts 20:28).

    Jesus tracked peoples giving with precise detail (Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1–three separate Greek words).

    If suggest professional therapy for your neurosis and aversion to biblical Christianity and the churches recommended therein.

  258. Paula Rice wrote:

    I’m hoping for a 3rd Great Awakening, too. But if I woke up and discovered those guys were the architects of it, I think I’d promptly crawl back under the covers!

    Agreed! However, I don’t think we have to worry about that. The first two awakenings were preceded by a spirit of prayer. 21st century church folks – whether they be New Calvinist or not – are not known by humility, prayer, repentance, and seeking God’s face (all prerequisites for spiritual awakening). If and when we see a 3rd awakening, it will most likely be preceded by judgment – the organized church in America will need some correction before it experiences refreshing. TWW gives testimony of just how bad “church” is off course.

  259. Anonymouse wrote:

    If suggest professional therapy for your neurosis and aversion to biblical Christianity and the churches recommended therein.

    Good night! You use a proof text without context and then insult us to boot. And you utilize a psychology term without any sort of interview. So, what sacred cow did we step on?

  260. @ Max:
    Max, I’m with you! I found the Wikipedia page on the First Great Awakening an interesting read, especially after I had discovered that absent from Calvin’s sermons or letters were any exhortations for believers to experience personal regeneration or to be born again. With the movement away from dependence on the RCC for salvation (Calvin was the one to tack on the word “Roman”) Calvin wished to maintain a centralized church with the power in the possession of the Pastors over the people. The Reformation served to weaken the dependence on a structured church, opening the way for wonderful revivals in the future where people came to realize salvation is a personal thing and it’s the Spirit, not the rule of man, that binds us together. But
    again, this understanding was completely absent within Calvinism. Which is no surprise, then, that the Calvinists came to be known as “The Old Lights” who opposed revivals. Can’t you see Al Mohler being the same way?

    The Great Awakening bitterly divided Congregationalists between the “New Lights” or “Arminians” who welcomed the revivals, and the “Old Lights” or “Calvinists” who used governmental authority to suppress revivals.Theologically, the Arminians believed that every person could be saved by experiencing a religious conversion and one of the revivals; the Calvinists held that everyone’s fate was a matter of predestination, and revivals were a false religion. The legislature, controlled by the Old Lights, in 1742 passed an “Act for regulating abuses and correcting disorder in ecclesiastical affairs” that sharply restricted ministers from leading revivals.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Great_Awakening

  261. Anonymouse wrote:

    Clearly church attendance is encouraged, even commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

    Yeah, church attendance. ….. church, where you go to worship God – not places where cultic leaders try to people and force people to obey them and not God.

  262. dee wrote:

    So, what sacred cow did we step on?

    The giveaway word Anon uses over and over is “clearly”.

    ‘Clearly’ he/she is superior and has a superior understanding of the scriptures that the rest of us would see if only we would clearly listen to his/her wisdom revealing how clear and undisputable it all is.
    Clearly.

  263. Anonymouse wrote:

    If you don’t trust your church leaders, go elsewhere.
    Clearly church attendance is encouraged, even commanded (Hebrews 10:25).
    Clearly oversight of churches is a command (Proverbs 27, Acts 20:28).
    Jesus tracked peoples giving with precise detail (Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1–three separate Greek words).
    If suggest professional therapy for your neurosis and aversion to biblical Christianity and the churches recommended therein.

    I suggest professional therapy for your lack of understanding of Jesus and what HE said about Himself and God and how to treat others. Also, your kind likes to constantly point out how people are “cowards” yet you come on here and don’t have the balls to WRITE YOUR NAME with your comments. Sign your name!

  264. I would love to see who this anonymouse person is. I assume the blog owners has their email address. I guarantee it’s someone connected to Acts 29, NIne marks/TGC. I would love to publicly out them on social media, as I have already contacted people in this circle for the second time about their spiritual abuse and lack of accountability. Since I continue to receive no response, I am working on contacting a larger publication to get the word out.

  265. Bridget wrote:

    Olivia

    I contend if this is “good enough” for the regular folks, then the equivalent should be used for pastors. Of course, that’s when there will be all sorts of excuses why it doesn’t apply to them!

  266. Anonymouse wrote:

    If you don’t trust your church leaders, go elsewhere.
    Clearly church attendance is encouraged, even commanded (Hebrews 10:25).
    Clearly oversight of churches is a command (Proverbs 27, Acts 20:28).
    Jesus tracked peoples giving with precise detail (Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1–three separate Greek words).
    If suggest professional therapy for your neurosis and aversion to biblical Christianity and the churches recommended therein.

    Semi-finalist in Least Convincing Troll Competition

  267. Anonymouse wrote:

    even commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

    I never saw that as a commandment, but as saying hanging out with other believers can be to your benefit.

  268. dee wrote:

    So, what sacred cow did we step on?

    Maybe a 20 or 30 something new preacher wanting to start up his own mega church?

    You have to have rear ends in the pews if you want authority over people and their tithe money. 🙂

  269. Oh, and I sent my final email to the elder today letting him know I don’t agree with how my ex roommate handled the situation and how she sent a letter to my home group leader about our situation and got other people to shun me, etc. She posted a Tweet about an hour later that said “Philippians 4:2-9 Paul made conflict public and made the path to resolution clear. ‘None of your business’ doesn’t exist in Christianity.” Looks like her Neo Cal beliefs make her believe that airing out people’s dirty laundry to others in an effort to get people to shun you is Biblical.

  270. @ Christina:

    Sorry for your experience. That is awful. So much isn’t private in our modern computer age. Too many persons know everyone’s business and matters that would have been a private matter in the past becomes the worst and mortifying kind of spectacle. Why can’t people just be nice and civil? Bad manners isn’t excusable in my opinion. Isn’t airing people’s dirty laundry synonymous to the sin of gossip?

  271. Bill M wrote:

    Anonymouse wrote:

    Jesus tracked peoples giving with precise detail

    Check out Jim ‘s post upthread as a very good example of satire, sorry yours just fell flat.
    @ Jim Challies:

    Ha ha. You know, I love that Jesus tracks every detail of my giving. I won’t have to explain why I continued to financially support charlatans who use Him for personal gain.

    I suspect our visiting mouse equates elder with Jesus Christ.

  272. I'm so glad there are encouragers like your organisation out there. So black and white and full of judgement. You present a warped and distorted presentation of scripture to suit your end means. You demonstrate that grace has not melted you heart – instead you have hardened it through your own fear. I do hope you don't influence and lead astray too many people as presumably you'll come under the same discipline you threaten on your website. So sad. At least Jesus loves you, even if you are deluded and wolves in sheep's clothing.

  273. Just noticed that you want me to enter my email address and you post a little British flag next to my posts – are you by any chance tracking all of us? Let there be discipline!

    MOD: Read Carefully.

    We do ask for those things. Yes. But we’ve never given out any email addresses entered. Ever. This is how WordPress works. This is ONE way we keep track of SPAMers and people who drop by to rant or issue personal attacks. So if you don’t want to comment and enter an email address, well, sorry. That the rule around here.

    As to the flag. Most people find it interesting. As it can give some meaning to the background behind some of the comments. Again if you don’t want anyone to know where you are from you can not comment. And please know the system for this isn’t perfect.

    If you have issues with these things then you have issue with most all blogs. As far as I know they all collect such information to be able to operate rationally. Sorry if you don’t like this.

    GBTC

  274. Paul wrote:

    I do hope you don’t influence and lead astray too many people as presumably you’ll come under the same discipline you threaten on your website.

    ??? If you are telling people to disregard what they read here lest they come under discipline at their “church” then that reveals a lot. If you are instead suggesting the bloggers are in the business of disciplining anyone, then you are just being silly.

    Paul wrote:

    So sad. At least Jesus loves you, even if you are deluded and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    So are you saying monitoring people electronically is okay with you?

  275. Anonymouse wrote:

    If you don’t trust your church leaders, go elsewhere.

    That is precisely what increasing numbers are doing. As for your prooftexting, you might want to take a closer look at your “proof” which is not as airtight as you think it is. Being a parrot is much easier than being a Berean. And I’ve been as good a parrot as any at times, so I know what I’m talking about.

  276. Max wrote:

    The Conservative Resurgence has actually become a Calvinist Resurgence

    That is the effect, but I honestly do not believe that Calvinism is the cause. I think that R. Albert Mohler is a pragmatic lover of power. I think that he seized upon Calvinism to catch the wave and to hang out with the perceived intellectuals who wear the Calvinist label. I think he and the others push Calvinism because it is the system which is most congenial to their ultimate goals and because Calvinism is the fad in this generation just like Seeker Sensitivity was in the 80’s.

    IOW, it is Marketing 101. Identify your target market and their tastes and preferences and tailor your product and/or pitch accordingly. Use fear and/or sex and/or pride to sell it. Build brand loyalty via tying the brand to the target’s self-identity. When you fuse marketing with political PR, the point of the CR becomes clear. The problem is that there are few true conservatives and many True Believers in the ideology which is currently in vogue.

    Somewhat OT, do you know what, if anything, is cooking at NOBTS?

  277. @ Anonymouse:
    On second read, I think you are either a parodist or someone demonstrating that the ridiculousness has gone beyond parody. If it is the latter, please seek help for your projection and aversion to rigorous exegesis.

  278. Paul wrote:

    I’m so glad there are encouragers like your organisation out there. So black and white and full of judgement. You present a warped and distorted presentation of scripture to suit your end means. You demonstrate that grace has not melted you heart – instead you have hardened it through your own fear. I do hope you don’t influence and lead astray too many people as presumably you’ll come under the same discipline you threaten on your website. So sad. At least Jesus loves you, even if you are deluded and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Did you accidentally post to TWW when you meant to send that comment to 9Marks or some of the other Gospel Glitterati who think they are lords over Jesus’ flock?

  279. I am on a very modest wage at present but I do believe and actually do give monetarily. I know it’s not about breaking down your giving into individual areas (or else I could say “yeah, I pay for the coffee”) but I was concerned when the church I attend moved over to this system and I calculated that even on ChurchApp’s most basic subscription package, the church was paying out more per month than I was giving!

    Charity muggers annoy me and this annoys me. They say it’s for efficiency and better communication, but what was wrong with (more) secure internal databases (just get someone who knows what they’re doing), email, the newsletter and the telephone – and talking to each other face-to-face.

    I’ve now discovered I can’t even change my email address on the system.