Standing Ovations: What’s the Difference Between Highpoint Church and Willow Creek Community Church

There was so much posted this week, we’ve decided to highlight this pictures and let the discussion continue under all the posts on WCC and T4G18.

Church members and leaders do not get why they shouldn’t do standing ovations for pastors who have been accused of sexual impropriety. Sadly, many of these standing ovations are preplanned by the leaders. The members get the message and the world looks on, bewildered.

By the way, Andy Savage’s website is up and running. You, too can give money to PayPal to support Savage.

Willow Creek Community Church

Highpoint Church


Comments

Standing Ovations: What’s the Difference Between Highpoint Church and Willow Creek Community Church — 239 Comments

  1. In the Roman Empire, an Ovatio was a celebration of a victorious general, second only to a Triumph (which in the Empire was reserved only for the Emperor — “AVE CAESAR! IO, TRIOMPHE!”).

    The only difference was in a Triumph Caesar rode in a chariot and in an Ovation the general walked through the parade route on foot.

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  2. When I was an undergrad many moons ago (laye 70’s, early 80’s) some campus ministries really focused on the “production” aspect of “ministry” and they told me they specifically targeted leaders in the greek system since they were “campus leaders”….. even back then I heard how they “adivsed” the student “leaders” how to present themselves at the weekly “productions” and this “advice”, to me, came across as focused most that it was appealing to the audience..
    Fast foward many years, this “staging” has gotten even more “professional”…. in the early 90’s my church adopted the seeker sensitive approach, and our church leadership spent significant time learning the Willow Creek way, and I think I still have scripts for seeker service “dramas” filed away… I saw first hand how this stuff is done… and the pictures Dee has posted are soooo they way these mega “stage” things….
    Anyway, a 180 degree difference from my childhood fundamentalist church… alas, I am really begining to wonder what is the better way….. both approches are so fundamentally flawed..

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  3. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    this “staging” has gotten even more “professional”….

    1 – Crossed a line, perhaps? Where is that line?
    2 – Regarding T4G, (perhaps a throwback to fundamentalism) vs. Seeker Sensitive/WC (against tradition): both are TWW recent topics, both have issues with sexual immorality and predation, denying individual voices to get to the core. What’s up with that?

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  4. Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:

    and yes, I have experinced both…

    With the variety of stylistic innovation in churches, style doesn’t seem to make a difference with the problems of the end product.

    There is something else essentially wrong, and a paradigm shift needed. What is foundationally wrong and what is needed, no idea.

    Thinking: Both templates have this guy at the top who is the face of it, running things, and either predatory (Savage, Hybels, etc.) or giving the predators a pass (SGM, Conlee, Piper, Wilson, etc.)

    The local New Testament churches don’t have a face at the helm of each. They seem to be kind of anonymous except for their location (“the church at Ephesus”, “the church of Laodocia”, etc.). The original disciples are known by name, but they were transcient, without territory, and not identified with any particular local group, association, synod or network. It seems they disdainfully told others NOT to follow them. Mainly the disciples seemed to be going where the Holy Spirit directed them, trying to stay out of trouble and trying to stay alive.

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  5. The fundamentalist also have corrupt leaders, not just giving others a pass…
    Do not forget the ultra hierarchical RCC and the pedo priest.
    I could rattle of a number of other past and recent protestant flavors with significant corruption….
    … point is, they are failed human organizations; the more they claim they have true/most effective/ectra way, the harder they fall…

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  6. Well, if they got a standing ovation in a church, they must be innocent, right?!

    For people so consumed with optics, it is amazing to me that they miss how bad this sort of thing makes them look.

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  7. I have a couple thoughts on the clapping….. part of it is the production mindset and the “seeker” approach. Seekers and new believers are much more likely to applaud I think because they are simply being polite. They would clap at a performance or a good speech, so they clap at church. I do not think the motives are all bad.

    Part of me, however, appreciates the old “fundamentalist” or liturgical approach to church because I just want to be silent and take everything in. I also do not want to clap because I understand that in church I am not taking in a “performance”.

    But…. when you combine the seeker approach with the celebrity pastor mindset, what you get is a bunch of people that might forget where they are. Or worse, they never learned to differentiate being in the Lord’s house from being at a concert or ballgame. Andy Savage is no different than Bryce Harper or Elvis in their minds. SGM may be legalistic in some ways but they have their own brand of seeker sensitivity from what I saw at CLC.

    I have no clue how those people gave Andy or Bill standing ovations…. but I think so much of it was from being conditioned. Most of those people did not consciously say “I am going to applaud this sin”. I am not making excuses and it made me mad to see it, but I think it boarders on being brainwashed.

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  8. Divorce Minister wrote:

    For people so consumed with optics, it is amazing to me that they miss how bad this sort of thing makes them look.

    Yes, knowing the bad press that the Highpoint standing ovation received, there should have been an alert flashing on the big screen at Willow Creek: “Please DO NOT Stand, Applaud, and Shout.”

    Weeping, kneeling, and praying would be more appropriate responses by God’s people upon hearing reports that your pastor may have been acting badly.

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  9. @ George:
    In the “campus ministry performances” they motioned for students to clap! It would be natural for these students, when they graduated from College to go to a church that was more performance, than old fashioned worship ( sing hymns out of hymnals), oriented, and expect a live band instead of an old lady, or man, playing an organ!

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  10. unbelievable! That Andy Savage has a “GIVE” button on his web site, Do these guys EVER consider that maybe they ought to find a real job to support their families like everyone else for the real Gospels sake? No, I am sure that if the thought did cross their mind someone else on the tithe dole would quickly talk them out of it for fear that it is something they might have to do some day. It TRUELY is about fame and money.

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  11. George wrote:

    I have a couple thoughts on the clapping….. part of it is the production mindset and the “seeker” approach. Seekers and new believers are much more likely to applaud I think because they are simply being polite. They would clap at a performance or a good speech, so they clap at church. I do not think the motives are all bad.
    Part of me, however, appreciates the old “fundamentalist” or liturgical approach to church because I just want to be silent and take everything in. I also do not want to clap because I understand that in church I am not taking in a “performance”.

    George,

    You have a really interesting point on the clapping issue. I’ve seen times of worship when clapping seemed to disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes it can totally be so inappropriate like these standing ovations that are carefully crafted to manipulate people.

    Continuing on that same thought—I was reading something along that line. In the book Plans, Purposes and Pursuits, Kenneth Hagin wrote:

    “In the visitation, Jesus discussed clapping with me from the Scriptures. Jesus said to me, “Clapping is neither praise nor worship…..To clap is to applaud….The world claps. Saints praise……There is not one single scripture in the New Covenant about anyone clapping their hands.”

    Hagin: “People get excited and clap, but their clapping prevents everyone present from hearing what the Holy Spirit wanted to say…We need to identify when to clap and when to lift our hands in praise. Clapping at the wrong time can cause the anointing to lift from the service.”

    Now I’m not saying that clapping is wrong. Just that it can disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit unless we are sensitive enough to know when to clap and when to listen quietly. We need to understand how to move with the Holy Spirit. I agree with George that there’s a time to worship in reverence without the disruption of clapping.

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  12. Donna wrote:

    unbelievable! That Andy Savage has a “GIVE” button on his web site, Do these guys EVER consider that maybe they ought to find a real job to support their families like everyone else for the real Gospels sake? No, I am sure that if the thought did cross their mind someone else on the tithe dole would quickly talk them out of it for fear that it is something they might have to do some day. It TRUELY is about fame and money.

    But it might be set up to pay counseling bills for Jules if she chooses that route in her recovery, or it might be to help him set up a servant evangelism outreach rather than a lead pastorate one in which the issue of being above reproach will not be as relevant. Right?

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  13. Avid Reader wrote:

    George wrote:
    I have a couple thoughts on the clapping….. part of it is the production mindset and the “seeker” approach. Seekers and new believers are much more likely to applaud I think because they are simply being polite. They would clap at a performance or a good speech, so they clap at church. I do not think the motives are all bad.
    Part of me, however, appreciates the old “fundamentalist” or liturgical approach to church because I just want to be silent and take everything in. I also do not want to clap because I understand that in church I am not taking in a “performance”.
    George,
    You have a really interesting point on the clapping issue. I’ve seen times of worship when clapping seemed to disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes it can totally be so inappropriate like these standing ovations that are carefully crafted to manipulate people.
    Continuing on that same thought—I was reading something along that line. In the book Plans, Purposes and Pursuits, Kenneth Hagin wrote:
    “In the visitation, Jesus discussed clapping with me from the Scriptures. Jesus said to me, “Clapping is neither praise nor worship…..To clap is to applaud….The world claps. Saints praise……There is not one single scripture in the New Covenant about anyone clapping their hands.”
    Hagin: “People get excited and clap, but their clapping prevents everyone present from hearing what the Holy Spirit wanted to say…We need to identify when to clap and when to lift our hands in praise. Clapping at the wrong time can cause the anointing to lift from the service.”
    Now I’m not saying that clapping is wrong. Just that it can disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit unless we are sensitive enough to know when to clap and when to listen quietly. We need to understand how to move with the Holy Spirit. I agree with George that there’s a time to worship in reverence without the disruption of clapping.

    I went from a liturgical setting to a non-liturgical one, with one benefit I think being that it was not natural for me to clap at the end of certain things, including musical performances. I still consciously avoid it in that section (though I do clap along to songs of worship where appropriate).

    This is not to be different but to be mindful of the purpose and timeliness of what is being offered. I don’t feel led to clap for people in a place of worship when the object of the attention and pride should be a God. It’s definitely an every person’s conscience matter, but as some comments note, people can go along with calling, laughing, etc. reflexively, and I prefer to be very cautious when it comes to matters of the faith.

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  14. JDV wrote:

    Avid Reader wrote:
    George wrote:
    I have a couple thoughts on the clapping….. part of it is the production mindset and the “seeker” approach. Seekers and new believers are much more likely to applaud I think because they are simply being polite. They would clap at a performance or a good speech, so they clap at church. I do not think the motives are all bad.
    Part of me, however, appreciates the old “fundamentalist” or liturgical approach to church because I just want to be silent and take everything in. I also do not want to clap because I understand that in church I am not taking in a “performance”.
    George,
    You have a really interesting point on the clapping issue. I’ve seen times of worship when clapping seemed to disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes it can totally be so inappropriate like these standing ovations that are carefully crafted to manipulate people.
    Continuing on that same thought—I was reading something along that line. In the book Plans, Purposes and Pursuits, Kenneth Hagin wrote:
    “In the visitation, Jesus discussed clapping with me from the Scriptures. Jesus said to me, “Clapping is neither praise nor worship…..To clap is to applaud….The world claps. Saints praise……There is not one single scripture in the New Covenant about anyone clapping their hands.”
    Hagin: “People get excited and clap, but their clapping prevents everyone present from hearing what the Holy Spirit wanted to say…We need to identify when to clap and when to lift our hands in praise. Clapping at the wrong time can cause the anointing to lift from the service.”
    Now I’m not saying that clapping is wrong. Just that it can disrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit unless we are sensitive enough to know when to clap and when to listen quietly. We need to understand how to move with the Holy Spirit. I agree with George that there’s a time to worship in reverence without the disruption of clapping.
    I went from a liturgical setting to a non-liturgical one, with one benefit I think being that it was not natural for me to clap at the end of certain things, including musical performances. I still consciously avoid it in that section (though I do clap along to songs of worship where appropriate).
    This is not to be different but to be mindful of the purpose and timeliness of what is being offered. I don’t feel led to clap for people in a place of worship when the object of the attention and pride should be a God. It’s definitely an every person’s conscience matter, but as some comments note, people can go along with calling, laughing, etc. reflexively, and I prefer to be very cautious when it comes to matters of the faith.

    Make that “should be God!”

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  15. JYJames wrote:

    Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:
    this “staging” has gotten even more “professional”….
    1 – Crossed a line, perhaps? Where is that line?
    2 – Regarding T4G, (perhaps a throwback to fundamentalism) vs. Seeker Sensitive/WC (against tradition): both are TWW recent topics, both have issues with sexual immorality and predation, denying individual voices to get to the core. What’s up with that?

    Church just went through justifying a massive and unprecedented building funding focused largely on the staging, lighting, and acoustics. The strawmen throughout that were voluminous, in terms of casting the current experience as palpably inadequate (though multiple visitors I knew told me — unprompted — how much they liked the current setup).

    Specific references came of the need to be up to date for the younger generation, even while aspects of the update did not appear compatible with that. Whether the updates will have any proportional merit to the time and funding outlay they demand remains to be seen. What is not in question is the reality of the debt level that the tens of millions of dollars being spent by church members, as well as the challenge that creates for addressing other needs outside the church walls such as evangelism and outreach.

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  16. JDV wrote:

    Whether the updates will have any proportional merit to the time and funding outlay they demand remains to be seen. What is not in question is the reality of the debt level that the tens of millions of dollars being spent by church members, as well as the challenge that creates for addressing other needs outside the church walls such as evangelism and outreach.

    So the line crossed could be twofold:

    – resource$ misallocated to the staged [worship] show instead of widows and orphans
    – time focused on the same instead of evangelism or outreach and discipleship.

    Some would say the staged show is put on for outreach or to bring in and win over with state-of-the-art praise-worship-entertainment.

    (We’ve brought our teens to Christian rock concerts and fests. We bought tickets and purchased CD’s and what-not. Mixture of venues from high tech to acoustic in the park. Kids loved it all, regardless. No need for a church fund or donations.)

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  17. By the way, Andy Savage’s website is up and running.

    Tag line on his site is “Making God Make Sense”, apparently all the coherent one liners were already taken.

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  18. Donna wrote:

    unbelievable! That Andy Savage has a “GIVE” button on his web site, Do these guys EVER consider that maybe they ought to find a real job to support their families like everyone else for the real Gospels sake? No, I am sure that if the thought did cross their mind someone else on the tithe dole would quickly talk them out of it for fear that it is something they might have to do some day. It TRUELY is about fame and money.

    Exactly! He has learned nothing.

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  19. I think that Andy’s website was just re-activated with no changes.
    If you look at the site you’re directed to in order to give, it shows a date of 2015. I believe this was the set up date.
    So, yea, I don’t agree with it at all, but I don’t think it’s new.

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  20. Legend has it (and this may or may not be true) that, when given an Ovatio, a victorious general would also be accompanied by a trusted slave who would continually whisper in his ear the phrase Memento homo, meaning, “Remember you are a man” (as distinct from, a god, or an emperor).

    It’s hard to know what the equivalent would be in this case, since the evangelical church would not routinely give an Ovatio to a conqueror such as Rachel Denhollander.

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  21. ION: Software development

    For Wartburgers struggling to launch Eclipse on their Mac High Sierra OS, because the “anywhere” option isn’t even showing under system preferences / security, the following command-line input:

    sudo spctl --master-disable

    will fix this problem.

    IHTIH

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  22. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    P.S. Obviously, Eclipse is just an example – the same problem can be encountered with many other perfectly trustworthy apps downloaded off the interweb. What often happens is that you get the misleading error message:

    [xyz application] is damaged and can't be opened

    In which case, you need the fix outlined above.

    IHTIH

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  23. George wrote:

    Seekers and new believers are much more likely to applaud I think because they are simply being polite. They would clap at a performance or a good speech, so they clap at church. I do not think the motives are all bad.

    I think for some it’s sycophantic leader worship, for some it’s peer pressure and for all it’s group thinking in action. I think it’s the fully indoctrinated that lead the charge, not the newbies.

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  24. Max wrote:

    Thersites wrote:
    Tag line on his site is “Making God Make Sense”
    A young New Calvinist pastor in my area uses “Making God Big” … as if He wasn’t big already!

    That is ridiculous. Can you get a pic of that by any chance? I would love to post it.

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  25. Thersites wrote:

    By the way, Andy Savage’s website is up and running.
    Tag line on his site is “Making God Make Sense”, apparently all the coherent one liners were already taken.

    I didn’t notice that. I guess he thinks that God is not capable of helping people make sense without Savage’s assistance.

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  26. George wrote:

    I have no clue how those people gave Andy or Bill standing ovations…. but I think so much of it was from being conditioned. Most of those people did not consciously say “I am going to applaud this sin”. I am not making excuses and it made me mad to see it, but I think it boarders on being brainwashed.

    It is so sad to me that they didn’t even think that they were applauding sin. Do you know how many media outlets covered Savage’s standing O? Peop;e outside the church got it. Why don’t people inside the church?

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  27. Max wrote:

    A young New Calvinist pastor in my area uses “Making God Big”

    The problem is not whether God is big, for most it is whether He is real. A bunch of pastors worshiping mammon with half baked tag lines is not making God real, if anything it occasions further skepticism. If Savage’s “god” is so big then why are all the pictures on his site of himself.

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  28. Kind of OT: As an Uber driver, I never know who I am going to pick up. On thursday, I get the people that get in while saying’God Bless You’. They proceed to tell me that they had spent 21 years as missionaries in Puerto Rico. ( Why do good Catholics need missionaries?) and then proceed to bash the PR as ungrateful American haters. When I pointed out that PR IS American, he tried to continue ranting. I stopped him and told him that as long as he was bashing people, he was NOT a Christian and I didn’t want to hear anymore. Nice quiet ride for the rest of the trip.

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  29. @ dee:
    Because pew peons are not suppose to think….. just follow the vision of the leaders…. and if you question the vision, the stone starting flying..
    W/r to the AS web page and $$, not all surprising… Mark Driscoll still asks for $$; after all if his mismanagement of $$$…. truest incredible

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  30. dee wrote:

    Many mega churches these days spend more money on making people feel like they are attending a show on a cruise boat.

    Always thought they lit up the stage like a casino while doing a Vegas show and collecting $$$ from the cheap/free seats.

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  31. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    Because pew peons are not suppose to think

    Don’t think while emptying your pockets.

    God deserves our undivided adoration, although Moses, Jacob, Abraham, etc. actually argued with God, so God Himself can deal with our thoughts and arguments. We can and should be mindful with God. He created us with brains to think.

    It’s disturbing that in a church setting a person may come to a moment of surrender with God and then a leader steps in but, as Jesus said, “…do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. All their deeds are done for men to see….” Matthew 23: 3-5. Classic bait-and-switch. Andy Savage’s website would fall under this category.

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  32. just my immediate thought, here:

    when someone(s) are on ‘a stage’ & they do something truly good and inspiring, clapping is a natural response.

    as natural, spontaneous, & unconscious as entering a warm kitchen on a chilly day with bread baking in the oven and everything olfactory makes one go “sigh…..mmmmmmm”. even if it’s not expressed out loud, it’s expressed inside.

    a piece of music played with great skill and in-the-moment inspiration, and most people can’t help but clap. they have to do something…

    you can’t be stoic when you are moved. it’s like stifling a sneeze.

    seems to me church (religion in general) causes people to overanalyze everything. and people feel a touch of paranoia over something like the completely natural impulse to sneeze, & so they stifle it.

    some religious people create legislation to protect against the slippery slope of sneezing and so everyone stifles their sneezes (hyperbole, here, of course).

    but it also seems to me that while this ‘overanalysis’ and over-awareness is happening, church culture simultaneously fosters loss of awareness. such a strange dichotomy.

    people in church are just as likely to stifle their natural impulse to clap as they are to freely clapclapclap away for things that mean nothing and in response to having been manipulated on a grand scale.

    so, it seems to me that clapping is not the problem. it’s loss of awareness of what one is clapping for.

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  33. To answer the original question, Willow Creek should have learned something from Highpoint’s model, after all that media firestorm, and dee and others asking them not to endorse a standing ovation.

    They did not listen, confirming that they cannot learn from wise counsel.

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  34. elastigirl wrote:

    so, it seems to me that clapping is not the problem. it’s loss of awareness of what one is clapping for.

    That’s profound. In performance mode, clapping often means transition. This song is over, and we’re moving to the next performance. We bring that performance mentality to church.

    As one of our local guys says, as he is transitioning from one part of the service to another, “Put your hands together if you love the Lord today.” To me, that means, “I need you to clap so you know we’re shifting gears.”

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  35. Donna wrote:

    unbelievable! That Andy Savage has a “GIVE” button on his web site

    The “Resources” on his site also just consists of Andy’s books for sale. Interestingly each sales link goes to Highpoint’s sales website powered by Square. Two things strike me about this, there is still a link between Savage and Highpoint, and why does a church have a merchandising website. These preachers and their book sales, can I stop by their website and turn over a few virtual tables?

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  36. dee wrote:

    Many mega churches these days spend more money on making people feel like they are attending a show on a cruise boat.

    Having never been on a cruise and having only been in clubs and concert venues, and having been in only one megachurch (the local Hillsong franchise), all I can compare it to is a large club or concert venue, complete with fog machine, black painted walls, lots of electronics and a craaaaazy sound system. Not church.

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  37. @ JYJames:
    The emphasis in the early Church was on elder leadership. The job of senior pastor as we have it today in the church did not exist in the NT Church. They had a plurality of elders who governed the Church. The focus of course was on Christ…He was the focus…it was Christ’s Church. It was not Pastor Bob’s or Pastor Mike’s Church

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  38. elastigirl wrote:

    clapping is not the problem. it’s loss of awareness of what one is clapping for

    Good words. Spontaneous expressions of emotion are OK in church if they are focused on Jesus, rather than Christian celebrities. I know that doesn’t sound very Baptist, but I’m a Bapti-costal at heart. I look at much of the 21st century church and ask myself “What happened to Jesus?!”

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  39. dee wrote:

    Many mega churches these days spend more money on making people feel like they are attending a show on a cruise boat.

    They ‘are’ on a cruise boat sailing on a wide, but shallow, sea.

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  40. @ Max:

    “Good words. Spontaneous expressions of emotion are OK in church if they are focused on Jesus”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    what about beauty and joy for its own sake?

    if you go to the opera, the ballet, the symphony, the theater, (at times the movie theater), and experience something truly magnificent, wouldn’t you freely clap *for joy, for beauty*?

    as well as a heart-felt thank you for the human being whose artistry, skill, perserverance made it happen?

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  41. Will wrote:

    The job of senior pastor as we have it today in the church did not exist in the NT Church. They had a plurality of elders who governed the Church. The focus of course was on Christ…He was the focus…it was Christ’s Church. It was not Pastor Bob’s or Pastor Mike’s Church

    Thanks, interesting.

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  42. elastigirl wrote:

    a piece of music played with great skill and in-the-moment inspiration, and most people can’t help but clap. they have to do something…

    Amen. Like those hauntingly beautiful solo violin passages in Scheherazade.
    When a virtuoso puts his or her all into it from his or her very being, I’m bettin’ that Jesus would clap too.

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  43. Lydia wrote:

    Look up the psychology on the color blue.

    Just did. All part of the emotional manipulation machine.

    That shade of blue gives me a headache if I stare at it too long. Bit like staring at blue neon lights.

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  44. Will wrote:

    The job of senior pastor as we have it today in the church did not exist in the NT Church.

    There’s so much in the 21st century church that did not exist in the 1st century, that NT Christians would not recognize it as Church.

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  45. elastigirl wrote:

    if you go to the opera, the ballet, the symphony, the theater, (at times the movie theater), and experience something truly magnificent, wouldn’t you freely clap *for joy, for beauty*?

    Yes. But, I go to those places to be entertained. I go to church to worship. I’m not so fuddy-duddy that I haven’t clapped in church after hearing a talented singer, but I don’t recall clapping at anything a preacher has said or done.

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  46. As to the Andy Savage website, it does seem strange, whether or not it is new or relaunched, that he is willing for it to state in the About section:

    “Serving as the Teaching Pastor at Highpoint Church (hyperlink to Highpoint Church’ own website), Andy teaches every Sunday at one of its two campuses and is the lead visionary…

    and then later:

    “In addition to his duties at Highpoint…”

    Has he forgotten that he resigned?

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  47. JYJames wrote:

    Max wrote:

    There’s so much in the 21st century church that did not exist in the 1st century,

    And apparently, vice versa.

    For example … a pursuit of holiness.

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  48. Max wrote:

    Yes. But, I go to those places to be entertained. I go to church to worship.

    On more than one occasion a former pastor disparaged people in the pews because they did not exhibit the same enthusiasm as they did at the football game. Back then I simply did not buy into his comparison, now I would be appalled by his confusion.

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  49. Gary Boswell wrote:

    “In addition to his duties at Highpoint…”

    Has he forgotten that he resigned?

    There is still the opportunity to cash in from additional donations and book sales through his website.

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  50. @ Jack:
    If you step back and think about, again the T4G and YRR crowd through to the egalitarian seeker services, to my campus ministry experinces 30 years ago, all seem to rely on emtional manipulation…. which causes me to ask, Is my faith just the result of emotional manipulation, and on a grand scale, does G$d need us to “reach people” through emotional manipulation? It really does seem that the current “celebrity” pastor emphasis is just lifting up “emotional manipulators”??

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  51. I would be interested in people’s thoughts on the body language of the Hybels family while they were up on stage being prayed over. First of all, it seemed odd to me that the whole family was there, but I’m not familiar with how Willow Creed does things. I’ve watched the video three times and Bill seems to be standing with his hands clasped behind his back, not touching either daughter Shauna or wife Lynne. Lynne kind of huddled up next to him and I couldn’t tell if she was touching him with her right arm or not. It looks like daughter Shauna put her arm on his back during the prayer. But son Todd stood somewhat apart from the rest of the family with his hands in his pockets the whole time. Wouldn’t you think that a man concerned about his family would have his arms around his daughter and wife during this very difficult time? And it surprised me that Todd didn’t reach out to touch his mother in comfort or support. Did anyone else think the tableau was odd? Or am I missing something(s)?

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  52. Thersites wrote:

    On more than one occasion a former pastor disparaged people in the pews because they did not exhibit the same enthusiasm as they did at the football game.

    I suspect his church members probably preferred to go to football games than to hear him preach like that! There was a lot of enthusiasm in the Roman stadiums to watch Christians thrown to the lions.

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  53. Child Advocate wrote:

    I would be interested in people’s thoughts on the body language of the Hybels family while they were up on stage being prayed over. First of all, it seemed odd to me that the whole family was there

    Hybels was forced to “retire” 6-months early due to the emerging allegations against him. I’m sure he planned to have his whole family on stage for a future glorious exit, since they were involved in his Willow Creek experiment. But that honorable event was short-circuited.
    Given the reason for this last bow at Willow Creek, it was not a good idea to drag his family up there IMO – very awkward and agonizing for them I’m sure. It reinforces in my mind that this has been all about Hybels.

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  54. @ Max:

    you’re no fuddy-duddy at all.

    i agree, entertainment is not the point of church. (actually, for the longest time i haven’t been sure what the point of going to church is — but entertainment isn’t it, that i know).

    i don’t think of responding to joy and beauty as entertainment.
    i think beauty & the stirring power in art is every bit God as are acts of kindness, integrity, self-sacrifice. As reading / hearing scripture.

    similarly, i don’t think of responding with verbal/physical conviction/emotion to truth and inspiration in someone’s speaking presentation as entertainment.

    however one responds, whether internally or outwardly means nothing other than what they felt like doing.

    again, i think it comes down to awareness of what you are being moved by, and why.

    (oh, i absolutely hate to admit this,… but here goes:

    there was one time while deep in 1st Church of Dysfunction that i caught myself nodding with conviction and a “mmhmm”, too, during a sermon — only problem i was daydreaming at the time.

    i felt myself do it because it was “the right” response to have at that moment. and it was like ice water in the face when i suddenly realized “i have no idea what was just said”. This goes against my deepest philosophies. if it’s possible to betray oneself, i did.

    I think that was the split second i started my mental evacuation — took a while for the physical & social evacuation to catch up)

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  55. elastigirl wrote:

    oh, i absolutely hate to admit this,… but here goes:

    there was one time while deep in 1st Church of Dysfunction that i caught myself nodding with conviction and a “mmhmm”, too, during a sermon — only problem i was daydreaming at the time.

    i felt myself do it because it was “the right” response to have at that moment

    OK, since we are confessing things … I have been known to shout “Amen!” after a good sermon point. Yep, right there in church to the great dismay of folks sitting around me. But, I suppose the darkest thing I did as a Baptist was to raise my hands to praise the Lord. I should have known better, but something just came over me. After a while, I settled down and became like the more civilized worshipers around me. However, to this day, you still can’t trust me in church (in a good way, of course).

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  56. Max wrote:

    it was not a good idea to drag his family up there IMO – very awkward and agonizing for them I’m sure. It reinforces in my mind that this has been all about Hybels.

    Projecting himself as the Christian Family Man that he isn’t. Image.

    Will his marriage stick? He apparently doesn’t mind the double-mindedness (James 1:8 A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways…) of teaching faithful marriage imagery while having stealth but real sidechicks offsite. Does his wife appreciate the double-minded marriage? Are Hybels’ faithful and followers equally fake? The influence ripples out from the leadership center.

    Seems like duplicity, as in Andy Savage’s purity teaching camouflaging the assaulting a minor. Fake. Creating nonsense instead of “Making Sense”.

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  57. elastigirl wrote:

    i don’t think of responding to joy and beauty as entertainment.
    i think beauty & the stirring power in art is every bit God as are acts of kindness, integrity, self-sacrifice. As reading / hearing scripture.

    I feel the same, which is why I wouldn’t characterize a performance of Scheherazade as ‘entertainment’ in the banal sense of the word.

    … Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things…

    And Scheherazade most certainly fits the bill.

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  58. Thersites wrote:

    She sure stole the show

    From her heart. Innocently. Down home church without a [big budget high tech staged celebrity superstar “flavor of the week” as Hybels’ staff termed] show. Just people praising the Lord, and inspiring others. This video might work for echurch here.

    Our children have brought their instruments to church to play. For free and without accolades. No fame, no fortune, no recording contracts, no ministry legacy, no namebrands. Simple. Volunteerism.

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  59. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Legend has it (and this may or may not be true) that, when given an Ovatio, a victorious general would also be accompanied by a trusted slave who would continually whisper in his ear the phrase Memento homo, meaning, “Remember you are a man” (as distinct from, a god, or an emperor).

    A mega church’s board almost fired their founding pastor, Bob Merritt. He writes about this in his books. Coincidentally, in searching for his name, and I discovered that Merritt had delivered his “Come to Jesus” story at a Willow Creek Summit – how his church board was going to fire him unless he started listening to them and respecting them: “you are only a man” so shape up because we have Jesus and may just not need you.

    https://willowcreeksa.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/ministry-meltdown-by-bob-merritt/

    Apparently, Bill Hybels didn’t pay attention to a speaker hired for his own global summit. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

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  60. elastigirl wrote:

    there was one time while deep in 1st Church of Dysfunction that i caught myself nodding with conviction and a “mmhmm”, too, during a sermon — only problem i was daydreaming at the time.

    i felt myself do it because it was “the right” response to have at that moment. and it was like ice water in the face when i suddenly realized “i have no idea what was just said”. This goes against my deepest philosophies. if it’s possible to betray oneself, i did.

    Such a great comment! Really describes the path I’m on now. My mantra has become “I won’t say your words.” If I don’t 100 per cent believe something, I will not say it, especially in a church setting. I’ve started to notice how so many church people all say the same cliches. I’m not going to participate in that anymore: I’m tired of being an ideologically possessive husk of a person.

    Thanks for sharing that. I know how disconcerting that can be.

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  61. @ Muff Potter:

    yes, hauntingly beautiful. so mysterious.

    i think music (some pieces more than others) us utterly life-giving. i think if there was some kind of life-giving-meter, we’d see all creation responding. animals, plants,…i even think air, water vapor, and rocks respond somehow. i can think of no other medium that conveys pure inspiration like music can.

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  62. @ Ricco:

    “I’m tired of being an ideologically possessive husk of a person.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    husk of a person i understand. can you explain ‘possessive’? i’m slow tonight.

    (watching vintage re-runs of Sesame Street in a dark living room as i type. so incredibly nostalgic. i remember it all,… the cartoons, the muppets, the music, the sets, Gordon, Susan, Bob are as familiar as memories of my grandparents…. just amazing)
    —————-

    “If I don’t 100 per cent believe something, I will not say it, especially in a church setting. I’ve started to notice how so many church people all say the same cliches.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll pretty much stop singing. a few lines here & there i could sing and mean. but other than that,…. good grief. i just stood in the back by myself and swayed, thinking & expressing my own thoughts.

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  63. JYJames wrote:

    Max wrote:
    I should have known better, but something just came over me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QivliBtpnY
    Another soul that had to demonstrate her praise to her Lord in church: “I’ve got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul…”

    Oh what a joy to watch her. Takes me back to my days in church when my children were little. I miss it. But things are different today. My prayer is for the joy of the Lord to fill the hearts of those who love Him, regardless where they are. But the other side, knowing what we know, is to wonder how many of those children have been abused… i can’t get over that knowledge now. And that breaks my heart.

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  64. GMFS

    On the topic of music and its power to move, I believe I’ve mentioned the transition between the 3rd and 4th movements of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. But at the same time, nothing is subjective like music. Different music moves different people in different ways, presses different emotional buttons. People in different situations, or at different life stages, or of different prevailing temperament, are drawn to different kinds of music as well. And because music moves us very deeply, it can make us very judgemental of people who are not moved in the same way. IOW, it reinforces “us vs them” very powerfully.

    The practical upshot of this is that christians can become extraordinarily bitterly divided over music. It’s not uncommon for music to be the focal point (albeit not the only cause) of congregational splits here in the UK. This is because the new style of music is so obviously evil, sensual and sinful that the traditionalists cannot in conscience sing it – it epitomises the lack of true godliness in the new generation. At the same time, the old style of music is so obviously stuffy, pompous and full of dead ritual that the modern believers cannot in conscience sing it – it epitomises the lack of true godliness in the old generation.

    This is why to my mind – as daft as this may sound – one of the most important life-skills for a christian to develop is the ability to appreciate, or at least to respect, other people’s music.

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  65. Thersites wrote:

    By the way, Andy Savage’s website is up and running.

    Tag line on his site is “Making God Make Sense”, apparently all the coherent one liners were already taken.

    I read it “Making God Make Cents”

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  66. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    And because music moves us very deeply, it can make us very judgemental of people who are not moved in the same way. IOW, it reinforces “us vs them” very powerfully.

    Very true. The original reformers considered the organ the devil’s bagbipes, and they apparently destroyed them when they could. But now organ music is considered holy (if not old and stuffy), and newer forms of music are called satanic.

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  67. @ Child Advocate:

    Very astute observations, IMHO. I love reading body language. That BH couldn’t even reach out to touch his family, his loved ones, that they didn’t reach out to emotionally embrace him, that his wife saddled up to him as she did, speaks a sad story.

    Max, in my youth, as a newly saved young Jewish girl, I was quite, um, exuberant in my worship. Makes me blush to think about it now. But I really was so excited to have had those scales of blindness fall off. The reality of Jesus, of God being real, was overwhelming to my soul.

    If a preacher orders the congregation to “repeat after me,” I clench my teeth and refuse to be manipulated. How can I repeat something when I have no idea where the thought is going? What an egomaniacal thing to do to a congregation! You can tell me your ideas, it will be up to me whether or not I agree, but to ask me to blindly buy into what you are selling? No. Absolutely not. And, if you pull that play out of your book of tricks, it’s highly likely that you will be dismissed as legit in MY book! Because true teachers of the Word have no need to manipulate me. Their duty is to present the Word, and they know that it is the Holy Spirit which will convict the hearer without needing to resort to the use of peer pressure for accolades.

    The conviction of the Holy Spirit to Truth is an amazing experience and cannot be duplicated nor counterfeited.

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  68. Re MUSIC … many years ago, a visiting missionary and his wife told an amazing story of their calling. I don’t at all remember what the husband spoke about, but his plain, unassuming wife? Her words have never left me,

    Her task (where in the world they lived has escaped me over the years, but it was probably tribal) was to learn the patterns of music of the locals and to write music about God that would resonate with them. She taught me that the music of our childhood, whatever it was, is the music that is most touching to our hearts throughout our lives. Music that stirs me the most in worship is Hebraic. Because that’s who I am. I don’t expect it would touch most people in church as it does me. The young missionary did not expect to take, say, Amazing Grace, into the jungle and expect people there to have a heart response. Instead, she found the sounds that would produce it, and wrote verse specifically for them. Amazing calling.

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  69. Remnant wrote:

    The conviction of the Holy Spirit to Truth is an amazing experience and cannot be duplicated nor counterfeited.

    Amen! Truth (the Word) + Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) = Revealed Truth. One can receive a lot of information in church ‘about’ faith, put a personal encounter with the living Christ as Truth is revealed by the Spirit is the stuff that real faith is made of. It is the fuel of the Kingdom of God in the here and now … everything else is just religious activity.

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  70. @ Child Advocate:
    I am so reluctant to read into these things. We have become an emotional display = facts, society. The problem is the stage, IMO. That is the root of all of it. As far as family dynamics goes, the parents chose the limelight for their life. They are stuck with that decision and people’s responses. They spent their career saying, look at me! Ok. Now we are. My favorite is when these pastors demand privacy while using public platforms to rehab their image.

    But What is to be done for people who can’t cry in public but are sincere honest fair people? Or people who are not comfortable with public displays? Or, people who were raised to control their public emotions, including anger? I thought that was a good thing. My teens talk about this all the time. If one can cry at school (high school!) they can pretty much manipulate the response. (Oh yeah, they cry later but not in public and it’s hearbreaking)

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  71. @ Remnant:
    “Max, in my youth, as a newly saved young Jewish girl, I was quite, um, exuberant in my worship. Makes me blush to think about it now. But I really was so excited to have had those scales of blindness fall off. The reality of Jesus, of God being real, was overwhelming to my soul.”

    That is precious. And a reminder for us to value getting to really know our fellow believers.

    I totally agree about not repeating what the pastor tells you to say.

    We had an interim pastor before the YRR took over and this guy was quite the performer. I was appalled. He would have people stand up, Open their arms to receive his blessing. This was NOT how that church typically operated. So, I was amazed at how many went along. But was also proud some old saints did not. That was a great example to discuss such cultic behavior with childr3n and how adults go along who don’t want to appear uncooperative. But the truth is it was wrong of the guy on stage to do that.

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  72. Lydia. wrote:

    He would have people stand up, Open their arms to receive his blessing.

    Folks, if you are in such a place, let that “pastor” see your elbows and butts going out the door rather than open arms to receive what he has to offer! Much has been said on TWW about authoritarian leaders who control, manipulate and intimidate their congregations. If a pastor can get you to blindly receive ‘his’ words, you most likely will end up cursed not blessed.

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  73. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    This is why to my mind – as daft as this may sound – one of the most important life-skills for a christian to develop is the ability to appreciate, or at least to respect, other people’s music.

    This can be also expanded to respecting other forms of worship. Social psychology tells us that people with a same worldview tend to get along better with each other.

    So whether the congregation uses a liturgy or dances around the room is irrelevant.

    But it’s when you can no longer question the actions of a church when the whole church exercise falls off the rails.

    That goes beyond the experience of worship one prefers. When you have to embrace every sermon, when doubt is forbidden, when some men and women are “chosen” above others. When you can’t have honest dissenting conversations.

    You have a bunch of people in a room all nodding and praising, saying & doing all the expected things. But it’s like a Potemkin Village, a shiny facade that’s decaying on the hidden side.

    After viewing the websites of both Highpoint Church & Willow Creek, then reading what goes on behind the scenes culminating in these standing ovations you see how they are nothing more than Potemkin villages as well.

    Like Supertramp states – sign up your name so you can feel acceptable, respectable…

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  74. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    GMFS

    On the topic of music and its power to move, I believe I’ve mentioned the transition between the 3rd and 4th movements of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. But at the same time, nothing is subjective like music. Different music moves different people in different ways, presses different emotional buttons. People in different situations, or at different life stages, or of different prevailing temperament, are drawn to different kinds of music as well. And because music moves us very deeply, it can make us very judgemental of people who are not moved in the same way. IOW, it reinforces “us vs them” very powerfully.

    The practical upshot of this is that christians can become extraordinarily bitterly divided over music. It’s not uncommon for music to be the focal point (albeit not the only cause) of congregational splits here in the UK. This is because the new style of music is so obviously evil, sensual and sinful that the traditionalists cannot in conscience sing it – it epitomises the lack of true godliness in the new generation. At the same time, the old style of music is so obviously stuffy, pompous and full of dead ritual that the modern believers cannot in conscience sing it – it epitomises the lack of true godliness in the old generation.

    This is why to my mind – as daft as this may sound – one of the most important life-skills for a christian to develop is the ability to appreciate, or at least to respect, other people’s music.

    I like this. True.

    I imagine there are some like me who enjoy quiet, or nature’s quiet . . . birds, crickets, grass, trees, water, wind . . . all make lovely sounds.

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  75. Lydia. wrote:

    The problem is the stage, IMO. That is the root of all of it.

    Agreed. There’s a lot of talk today about being “Christ-centered” in the 21st century church. IMO, the American church began to drift from Christ as its center when a new breed of “pastors” decided to construct platforms over prayer altars to give them more room for their pride to strut about. They then went about attracting an audience to view their performance by whatever gimmick it took to get them in church and into their pockets.

    If we are going to get out of this mess we call “church”, we need to truly reestablish a Christocentric criterion by which everything that is said and done in the gathering of God’s people is focused on worshiping Him and Him alone. That, of course, will take men of God rather than preacher boys … right now, those are rare and endangered.

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  76. Lydia. wrote:

    Like country music!

    As per Nick’s point on differering tastes, the guy that had my office before me played county all the time, I joked with him that I hired an exorcist for the office before I moved in.

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  77. A Country musician was once challenged to write some song lyrics to fit the title Laughter, Sunshine and Happiness.

    Easy, he said.

    Oh, Laughter, Sunshine and Happiness
    Were the names of three puppies who starved…

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  78. Mercy wrote:

    JYJames wrote:

    Max wrote:
    I should have known better, but something just came over me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QivliBtpnY
    Another soul that had to demonstrate her praise to her Lord in church: “I’ve got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul…”

    Oh what a joy to watch her. Takes me back to my days in church when my children were little. I miss it. But things are different today. My prayer is for the joy of the Lord to fill the hearts of those who love Him, regardless where they are. But the other side, knowing what we know, is to wonder how many of those children have been abused… i can’t get over that knowledge now. And that breaks my heart.

    I had the same response, Mercy! Oh, kids! Are you ok? Do you need protection?

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  79. Deborah wrote:

    Oh, kids! Are you ok? Do you need protection?

    “If any of you take advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.” (Matthew 18:6)

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  80. @ Muff Potter:
    Lolol. This is perfect serendipity.

    I am on the Wi-Fi at a Uni school of music. When I first clicked on your link it said it was blocked. Lol. So i switched to data to see what you linked. Cracking up.

    See, told ya. It’s baaaaad!

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  81. Lydia wrote:

    I can’t place the flag. But hope you are having a good time.

    Jet lag is always fun to tackle, but things are going well. The flag now seems to show up.

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  82. Lydia. wrote:

    Like country music!

    Except that when you play rock backwards you get satanic messages, but when you play country music backwards your life takes a turn for the better: your dog comes back and your truck starts running…

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  83. Thersites wrote:

    On more than one occasion a former pastor disparaged people in the pews because they did not exhibit the same enthusiasm as they did at the football game. Back then I simply did not buy into his comparison, now I would be appalled by his confusion.

    Most American churches are made for extroverts by extroverts.

    Introverts, the socially awkward, and those with social anxiety disorder need not apply.

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  84. Gary Boswell wrote:

    Andy teaches every Sunday at one of its two campuses and is the lead visionary…

    What is it with these wanna-be famous preachers, or the already-famous ones, and the buzz words?

    I am so sick of them tossing around the word “visionary.”

    This guy (worked as a pastor) was just arrested for sex crimes against a minor, and on his Twitter page, he describes himself as a “visionary.”

    ‘Highly respected’ Alabama evangelist arrested on charges of molesting a teenage boy
    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/04/highly-respected-alabama-evangelist-arrested-charges-molesting-teenage-boy/

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  85. Daisy wrote:

    Most American churches are made for extroverts by extroverts.

    Introverts, the socially awkward, and those with social anxiety disorder need not apply.

    Agreed, I am in the middle of the spectrum but could fill a book with observations that match your description. Our culture apparently values personality vastly more than character and that has permeated into the church.

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  86. Thersites wrote:

    Agreed, I am in the middle of the spectrum but could fill a book with observations that match your description. Our culture apparently values personality vastly more than character and that has permeated into the church.

    I just did a blog post on my Daisy blog whatever number months ago about some Christian guy, (Re: ‘Don’t Be Yourself’ Essay by Greg Morse), who said being introverted is a sin. A sin.

    I’ll bet that Morse is an extrovert, and of course, extroverts aren’t going to signify extroversion in the “sin” category, only introversion.

    Here’s a link to his page:
    “Don’t Be Yourself” by Greg Morse
    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/don-t-be-yourself

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  87. I had the same exact thoughts. I think BH should have been up there with the head elder. He body language of Shauna and Lynne made me a little sick to my stomach. Todd’s i found very interesting. @ Child Advocate:

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  88. @ Daisy:
    A couple of weeks ago this reformed guy named Derek Rishmawy tweeted “Don’t EVER follow your heart.” Matthew Pierce (hilarious guy, btw) tweeted back, “So I guess you are Reformed, huh.”

    This whole don’t be yourself, never follow your heart, total depravity stuff has been destructive in my life as well. I know I’m not all that I could be, but constantly thinking of myself as a horrible, depraved worm isn’t a healthy way for me to live.

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  89. Ricco wrote:

    I know I’m not all that I could be, but constantly thinking of myself as a horrible, depraved worm isn’t a healthy way for me to live.

    That sort of thinking sure didn’t help me out.

    I did a blog post about this months ago.

    I think the Christians who preach this sort of thing (“you’re a worm”) assume any and everyone has too much pride, or a huge ego – which is not true for people like me.

    I’ve had low self esteem my whole life. I needed to hear the opposite message, a more affirming one, telling me that God still loves me, even if I make mistake or am imperfect.

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  90. Interesting post that mentions Hybels:

    Friendship as a Foundation: Moving Beyond Bill Hybels and Anxious Egalitarianism Pt 2
    http://www.danjbrennan.com/2018/04/friendship-as-a-foundation-moving-beyond-bill-hybels-and-anxious-egalitarianism-pt-2.html

    Some snippets:

    Three weeks ago, virtually any red-blooded American egalitarian would have ascribed so much “power” to what they thought was a “healthy” egalitarian model led by Hybels.

    Now we know, with all this stuff coming out— there was a lot of psychological social sexist ministry happening under his leadership that was happening underneath the surface egalitarianism.

    ….Google “spiritual intimacy between a man and a woman” and your search is not going to take you to Missio Alliance, The Junia Project, David Fitch, Scot McKnight, or the CBE.

    There is a void in egalitarian leadership in this cultural moment with an acute sense of anxious egalitarianism. One of the biggest reasons we are here is that Willow Creek egalitarianism never took a woman’s intimate personal power in friendship, seriously. Both men and women have a heightened sense of anxiety right now but for different reasons.

    They never moved past a deeply embedded patriarchal tradition that told women the who, what, where, when, and why in intimate relationships.

    We can call it a superficial egalitarianism, anxious egalitarianism, or we can call it, complementarian lite. Neither complementarians nor egalitarians have addressed the deepest roots of benevolent sexism in their church life or leadership.

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  91. @ JYJames:

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    I didn’t want to quote his entire essay on this blog, but the remainder of it is even better, IMO, than even the part I quoted, so I hope you (and others) click the link to read it in its entirety. 🙂

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  92. Ricco wrote:

    This whole don’t be yourself, never follow your heart, total depravity stuff has been destructive in my life as well. I know I’m not all that I could be, but constantly thinking of myself as a horrible, depraved worm isn’t a healthy way for me to live.

    I’m glad that you realized just as I did that it’s a total pile of horse poo-poo.
    Hopefully more and more people can be freed from these brutal religious systems.
    I think it will happen slowly over time as more and more people visit blogs like TWW and others that allow folks to vent.

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  93. @ dee:
    Because the Highpoint members love Andy. A church is family right? Not rocket science here. The members have walked beside him for years. The good the bad the ugly, The heart aches and joys of life. He is family to the members of Highpoint church. It’s a natural human reaction to someone you love and deeply care for. Duh

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  94. Max wrote:

    began to drift from Christ as its center when a new breed of “pastors” decided to construct platforms

    This is interesting, Max. With Hybels stepping down, I wondered about the pulpit (“a raised platform or lectern in a church or chapel from which the preacher delivers a sermon”).

    Growing up, it was strictly forbidden for anyone to go near the pulpit in the church. Only the head pastor stood there, because he solely was authorized to speak the word of God there. Very serious matter, except for when his bratty kids ran around in the sanctuary carrying on at will during youth night, drinking the communion wine, etc. Apparently the head pastor’s authority was not recognized at home. There he was human like the rest of us.

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  95. Todd wrote:

    Because the Highpoint members love Andy.

    What you are saying is that your wish to express your emotional attachment to Savage trumps attempting to temper your response knowing there is a victim who was deeply wounded? Pause for a minute and think about that…

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  96. JYJames wrote:

    This is interesting, Max. With Hybels stepping down, I wondered about the pulpit (“a raised platform or lectern in a church or chapel from which the preacher delivers a sermon”).

    I like how in a high church type building, the altar is at the center, not the pulpit. The pulpit is off to the side, and it seems like the symbolism of that is intentional. No one speaks for God. We all do our best, and a solid dose of humility is helpful. To me, that is the problem with so many pastors and churches, a lack of humility and a presumption that they speak for God.

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  97. dee wrote:

    Todd wrote:

    Because the Highpoint members love Andy.

    What you are saying is that your wish to express your emotional attachment to Savage trumps attempting to temper your response knowing there is a victim who was deeply wounded? Pause for a minute and think about that…

    This is just sick. These people are beyond . . . .

    I found out that someone I loved since birth had sexually abused someone ten years earlier. I did not applaud them. I had many feelings, including a broken heart, but had no desire to applaud their sin, When I questioned them, they never once denied it, nor made excuses like Andy. This person was much closer, emotionally, to me than a pastor would be to anyone. This person does not “appear” to believe in God, yet he responded as you would think a broken Christian would.

    These people who say they loved Andy and Bill Hybels, and that is why they applaud, don’t have a clue what love looks like.

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  98. Bridget wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Todd wrote:
    Because the Highpoint members love Andy.
    What you are saying is that your wish to express your emotional attachment to Savage trumps attempting to temper your response knowing there is a victim who was deeply wounded? Pause for a minute and think about that…
    This is just sick. These people are beyond . . . .
    I found out that someone I loved since birth had sexually abused someone ten years earlier. I did not applaud them. I had many feelings, including a broken heart, but had no desire to applaud their sin, When I questioned them, they never once denied it, nor made excuses like Andy. This person was much closer, emotionally, to me than a pastor would be to anyone. This person does not “appear” to believe in God, yet he responded as you would think a broken Christian would.
    These people who say they loved Andy and Bill Hybels, and that is why they applaud, don’t have a clue what love looks like.

    When the people of the world have a consience and the people of the church don’t….something is so wrong. I learned this lesson in recent years. It has now changed my vision.

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  99. @ Bridget:

    “This is just sick. These people are beyond . . . .”

    Yes, it is sick! It appears that pastors who abuse have seared consciences. Those who continue to support them are blinded but that only partially explains them continuing to support the perps. Their own pride shows through clearly when they attack the victims or those who are seeking to raise the issues.

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  100. Ricco wrote:

    The pulpit is off to the side, and it seems like the symbolism of that is intentional.

    Is that pulpit more like a podium, meaning any speaker up front can use it to make announcements, etc., too? In my childhood church there was a small podium to the side for others, but the main bigger pulpit in the center was supposed to be God speaking and only through the head pastor, who was a guy, of course. Daunting, as I mentioned above, except when the preacher’s naughty kids would run around and mock their dad, get drunk on communion wine, etc. His own kids didn’t think their dad spoke for God.

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  101. Daisy wrote:

    there was a lot of psychological social sexist ministry happening under his leadership that was happening underneath the surface egalitarianism

    However labels are used (complementarianism, egalitarianism), wherever there is a hierarchy in place between adults, the opportunity for mature relationship is diminished. People don’t have to get to know each other in a thoughtful manner because someone is giving orders, and others are to follow. Not a lot of critical thinking going on. Happens in churches and marriages. Someone comes up with a plan, and the rest put it in place, do the grunt work.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that way about Saddleback, from what I’ve read in his books. Rick Warren, early on anyway, gave the impression that the purpose of the purpose-driven life was to jump on board and institute what is now an enormous operation – his deal. They may do a lot of good, but what if keeping that particular ship afloat is not one’s calling? My guess is that then they do not want you around. Wonder how Jesus would fit in? Wonder how the Holy Spirit fits in now?

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  102. Todd wrote:

    @ dee:
    Because the Highpoint members love Andy. A church is family right? Not rocket science here. The members have walked beside him for years. The good the bad the ugly, The heart aches and joys of life. He is family to the members of Highpoint church. It’s a natural human reaction to someone you love and deeply care for. Duh

    What is your definition of “walked beside him”? Family?

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  103. JYJames wrote:

    With Hybels stepping down, I wondered about the pulpit (“a raised platform or lectern in a church or chapel from which the preacher delivers a sermon”).

    In my comment “a new breed of “pastors” decided to construct platforms over prayer altars to give them more room for their pride to strut about”, I meant to point to the stage where these folks perform, not the sort of pulpit you are pointing out. Stages are meant to entertain. I have been in several older churches where stages have been erected over prayer altars where God’s people once gathered to pray for sick folks, lost folks, personal problems, confess sin, etc. I suppose that sort of intercession is too tacky for modern seekers and their hip pastors to deal with, so they cover them up with stages to lighten things up a bit.

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  104. Max wrote:

    stage where these folks perform

    In the pictures at the top of this blog piece, Hybels and Savage are standing on stages. In addition to delivering “sermons” from these perches, others perform there: bands, praise singers, drama teams. Elaborate audio and visual aids rival Broadway theaters. In that setting, I suppose it’s just natural for folks to applaud the actors who appear there (re: standing ovations).

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  105. Max wrote:

    several older churches where stages have been erected over prayer altars where God’s people once gathered to pray

    Got it.
    Similar to a church where the new guy came in and basically turned the sanctuary (intricate glass windows, European organ, etc.) into a black box with a casino-styled stage up front, as if the church was a former Kmart. Very strange.

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  106. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    “Put your hands together if you love the Lord today.”

    Interesting turn of a phrase. Putting one’s hands together is done in prayer. Repeatedly slapping one’s hands together is applause. Perhaps the church needs more of the former and less of the latter.

    Also, that phrase sounds an awful lot like law. So… if you don’t clap you don’t “love the Lord”? It is dripping with a potential guilt trip.

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  107. JYJames wrote:

    black box with a casino-styled stage up front

    Oh yes, that’s very common at store-front church plants where young pastors set up shop. First thing they do is to construct a stage, paint the walls black, install high-end audiovisual equipment, and recruit the coolest “worship leader” they can find. And when they build it, the people come.

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  108. Max wrote:

    prayer altars

    What is a prayer altar? I never heard that term before you used it here on TWW. We have the concept of an altar, also the concept of a sacrifice, but the context is quite different.

    So what is a Baptist prayer altar? Just looking for information is all.

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  109. okrapod wrote:

    So what is a Baptist prayer altar?

    Well, in older Southern Baptist churches I have attended, the pulpit was on a slightly raised platform above the pews – for the folks to both see and hear the preacher better. In the past, pastors had no microphones to project their voices so they needed that extra help to get the Word out. There were steps leading up to that platform extending from one side of the sanctuary to the other, where congregants would gather to pray before and after the service. They would kneel on those steps and pray. In some places, this “prayer altar” might have been a front row pew reserved for that purpose or a bench along the wall for folks to kneel at. You can still find prayer altars of this sort in old rural churches – at some you will see where knees have worn impressions in the wooden steps and tear stains where folks have wept and prayed over the decades. I have unloaded a lot of stuff on the Lord in the past 60+ years at prayer altars; I always believed He felt my burden and heard my prayers during those times. It doesn’t seem like folks have the burden to pray like that anymore.

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  110. Max wrote:

    I always believed He felt my burden and heard my prayers during those times.

    Yes. Answers to prayer, including forgiveness, guidance, healing, restoration, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.

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  111. Max wrote:

    I have been in several older churches where stages have been erected over prayer altars where God’s people once gathered to pray for sick folks, lost folks, personal problems, confess sin, etc. I suppose that sort of intercession is too tacky for modern seekers and their hip pastors to deal with, so they cover them up with stages to lighten things up a bit.

    I have always wished we’d go away from the traditional concept of a service entirely where the sermon is a focus to a more interactive style where there was more praying and group intercession. I’ve been in a couple of churches who have done that as a special event, but it seems to me that the NT model was much more interactive. Even in my traditional mainline church, which does have a time where they ask for prayer requests, there still isn’t much interaction that isn’t rote. I think a lot of Christians don’t want to really interact in church and want the service to happen to them as they sit there passively.

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  112. Max wrote:

    They would kneel on those steps and pray. In some places, this “prayer altar” might have been a front row pew reserved for that purpose or a bench along the wall for folks to kneel at. You can still find prayer altars of this sort in old rural churches

    My church has a prayer rail in front of the altar. It mostly gets used during communion. I kind of wish it were used more.

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  113. ishy wrote:

    I think a lot of Christians don’t want to really interact in church and want the service to happen to them as they sit there passively.

    “… happen to them…” That’s a good way to put it.

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  114. Todd wrote:

    @ dee:
    Because the Highpoint members love Andy. A church is family right? Not rocket science here. The members have walked beside him for years. The good the bad the ugly, The heart aches and joys of life. He is family to the members of Highpoint church. It’s a natural human reaction to someone you love and deeply care for. Duh

    The point people are making to you is that the church members didn’t know Andy the man, they knew Andy the stage performer. You know Andy like you know an actor, a politician. You know the image. It’s wrong to speak of love except in the abstract for one whom you do not know. I am supposed to love the world, everyone in it, knowing they are also made in the image of God and loved by Jesus, but I cannot love another in any sort of intimate sense unless I truly know them.

    Probably very, very few people within Highpoint knew Andy at all, and I am willing to bet you simply did not know him in any meaningful sense. Such is the problem associated with pouring out what you think is love but is more like idolatry upon a man who is propped up on a stage under hot spotlights each week—it’s not real, it’s fake. It saddens me that people who call themselves Christians can’t see the distinction.

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  115. dee wrote:

    Todd wrote:

    Because the Highpoint members love Andy.

    What you are saying is that your wish to express your emotional attachment to Savage trumps attempting to temper your response knowing there is a victim who was deeply wounded? Pause for a minute and think about that…

    Don’t expect pauses, don’t expect thinking. It hurts too much to think when an idol falls.

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  116. The Hybels news along with additional published accusations against Paul Pressler caused me to reflect this weekend on how much these two have affected church life over the last 30 years for me as a member of a Southern Baptist church. Hybels on the local church level, as people flocked to his leadership conferences and Pressler on the denomination level as a co-leader of the movement that became known as the “Conservative Resurgence (CR)”.

    The attention given to Hybels’ brand of “leadership” was tantamount to creating a new spiritual discipline. One based as much on corporate methods of marketing as Biblical principals. He became popular as a leadership guru at the same time that corporations were engaging in studies of “Best Practices”. Local churches saw Willow Creek as the epitome of “Best Practices” and started imitating their programs. Sometimes this was done without regard to basic cultural differences that would make something work in one place but not the other. It was really sad to see Sunday morning services that were designed specifically for people who weren’t there (seekers) rather than the people who were (believers). Hybles talked about screening leadership for “Character. Competence, Chemistry”. Character, granted, is important (though not as evident as we thought in this case). The role of the church in engaging people in ministry, however, should be based on calling and giftedness rather than “Competence and/or Chemistry”.

    The SBC is almost unrecognizable from what it was before the CR. A lot of people viewed the entire “Biblical Inerrancy” controversy, as raised by the CR supporters, as a smoke screen for politically motivated challenges to the powers that be rather than any sincere concern for the place of scripture within the denomination. The fact that when these fundamentalist leaning people had achieved their objectives they kept on attacking those that didn’t embrace their culture significantly supports the theory that they were actually after power and influence (and chapel windows). Now that we are seeing the true character of Pressler, it seems even more certain that the movement was not founded on an altruistic concern for the future of the denomination but on the desire for power and control.

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  117. FW Rez wrote:

    caused me to reflect this weekend on how much these two have affected church life

    FW Rez wrote:

    the desire for power and control.

    Thanks for sharing this thoughtful and thought-provoking reflection.
    This is one of the reasons why I tune in to TWW – the forum for thoughtful Faith where all respectful thinkers are welcome to share. Such a rich experience here at TWW, (beyond seeing folks outed who needed that), is the positive side of intelligent people sharing reflection.

    The power and control baseline seems to be common with the big fails (irregardless of spoken theology), but then pride is a deadly sin, and pride goes before a fall/fail. The Bible warns us.

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  118. FW Rez wrote:

    it seems even more certain that the movement was not founded on an altruistic concern for the future of the denomination but on the desire for power and control

    Agreed. The Conservative Resurgence which merged into a Calvinist Resurgence has been about power and control from the get-go. Unfortunately, mainline Southern Baptists are catching up with this reality too late to do much about it, while a once-great evangelistic denomination slowly fades from the scene.

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  119. Max wrote:

    Calvinist Resurgence

    Our guest preacher yesterday was from the Reformed school, more Founders than Neo-Cal… but still too close to Piper for my taste. His description of the sovereignty of God and my personal experience do not line up well. Great guy, wonderful speaker, with a true heart for bringing lost souls to Christ.

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  120. @ dee:

    Thanks. I was real proud I managed to keep the snark in check (mostly).

    Thank you for the great job of keeping these issues in front of us, keeping us informed, and providing us with perspective.

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  121. Daisy wrote:

    Most American churches are made for extroverts by extroverts.

    Introverts, the socially awkward, and those with social anxiety disorder need not apply.

    Daisy, I had never thought about this until you mentioned it. I’m an introvert, in a family of introverts, and modern church has gotten difficult for us. Mostly because of that pressure to conform to the extroverted ideal.

    And, for the record, I haven’t cheered at a ball game of any kind since high school. I’ve heard preachers attempt to use that guilt trip to elicit a response. Doesn’t work on me.

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  122. FW Rez wrote:

    Great guy, wonderful speaker, with a true heart for bringing lost souls to Christ.

    This has always been a paradox for me when talking about the evangelistic zeal of Calvinists. When I talk to them, it seems they are focused on harvesting the elect rather than reaching the lost … a dialogue that is usually lost in predestination mumbo-jumbo. Evangelism and mission seem to be defined differently by Calvinists vs. non-Calvinists.

    However, I certainly don’t want to hijack the thread and get off on a theological tangent since the issues at Highpoint and Willow Creek are not related to theology, just acts of the flesh which have no theological affiliation.

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  123. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    And, for the record, I haven’t cheered at a ball game of any kind since high school. I’ve heard preachers attempt to use that guilt trip to elicit a response. Doesn’t work on me.

    At the second abusive church we attended where I was an elder, the pastor once had an outside speaker come in and this person proceeded to berate us from the pulpit for several minutes because we weren’t being sufficiently deomostrative in our praise and worship time, not doing enough hand-raising, shouting, whatever it was the (in my opinion) covert NPD pastor thought would pass for appropriate praise while he led the worship team with guitar in hand (yes, he led the worship team as well as delivering the weekly sermons and the men’s Sunday School and the youth service and the Wednesday night message—one man show, look at me). It was obvious that he and/or his wife had tipped off this outside speaker as to our deficiencies—it felt very much like being among a group of misbehaving children being scolded by an angry principal. Was all I could do to hold my tongue.

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  124. JYJames wrote:

    Is that pulpit more like a podium, meaning any speaker up front can use it to make announcements, etc., too?

    I grew up in the Anglican Church. There were 2 lecturns, on the left and right, with an aisle in the center that led between the choir seating, to the altar area. That’s where Holy Communion was prepared and served. The altar was central, the focal point of of the space. The lecturn on the right was used by an associate priest or lay person for the reading of the Old and New Testament passages for that day, and the left lecturn was where the priest did a short sermon, usually 15-20 minutes. Very similar to Catholic architecture, without the crucifix.

    So it’s still a bit odd for me to attend a modern church where communion has been replaced by the preach as the main event. The altar has become a pulpit. The organ has become a rock band [and I’ve been in that band]. Everything about it elevates the pastor to rock star status.

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  125. Max wrote:

    Thersites wrote:
    Tag line on his site is “Making God Make Sense”

    A young New Calvinist pastor in my area uses “Making God Big” … as if He wasn’t big already!

    And if you’re familiar with Deep Space and Deep Time, the problem is God Becomes So BIG that what’s needed is God remaining on a one-to-one human scale. (Like this thing called the Incarnation.)

    But the Bigger the God, the Bigger His Predestined Speshul Pets, so Feature, not Bug.

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  126. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I’m an introvert, in a family of introverts, and modern church has gotten difficult for us. Mostly because of that pressure to conform to the extroverted ideal.

    Good book to read, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”
    https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153

    Each of us brings our own strengths to the table and it would be a malfunctioning world without you being who you are.

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  127. Law Prof wrote:

    At the second abusive church we attended where I was an elder, the pastor once had an outside speaker come in and this person proceeded to berate us from the pulpit for several minutes because we weren’t being sufficiently deomostrative in our praise and worship time, not doing enough hand-raising, shouting, whatever

    Insufficient displays of Joy with Great Enthusiasm in the presence of Comrade Dear Leader.

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  128. Max wrote:

    In my comment “a new breed of “pastors” decided to construct platforms over prayer altars to give them more room for their pride to strut about”, I meant to point to the stage where these folks perform, not the sort of pulpit you are pointing out. Stages are meant to entertain.

    “WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS!
    TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS!
    WE’RE SO GLAD YOU COULD ATTEND!
    COME INSIDE! COME INSIDE!”
    — Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Karn Evil Nine”

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  129. Law Prof wrote:

    The point people are making to you is that the church members didn’t know Andy the man, they knew Andy the stage performer. You know Andy like you know an actor, a politician. You know the image

    You only know the role Andy played onstage.
    Which may or may not resemble the actual offstage Andy the Man.
    (Anyone remember the Koine Greek word for “actor onstage”?)

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  130. Bridget wrote:

    These people who say they loved Andy and Bill Hybels, and that is why they applaud, don’t have a clue what love looks like.

    “SEE HIS FACE! HEAR HIS VOICE! FUEHRER! FUEHRER! FUEHRER!”
    — Leon Uris, Armageddon: a Novel of Berlin, describing a Nuremberg Rally

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  131. FW Rez wrote:

    Thank you for the great job of keeping these issues in front of us, keeping us informed, and providing us with perspective.

    @Dee
    @Deb
    @GBTC
    Agreed. Grateful. Also, the conversation, though opinionated, is civilized and respectful.

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  132. Max wrote:

    Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
    when you play country music backwards

    how do you know when it’s backwards?

    Your dead dog comes back to life, your wife who left you returns, and your truck starts running again.

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  133. Daisy wrote:

    brad/futuristguy wrote:
    … but please pay “dues” anyway …

    Yep.
    Churches will condemn you or aspects of your personality or life, but they are sure happy to demand you pry open your wallet and fork over dinero to them.

    “HOLD UP YOUR CHECKBOOKS AND GIVE US YOUR ROUTING/ACCOUNT NUMBERS! IF YOU DON’T, OUR SECURITY CAMERAS ARE SO GOOD WE WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

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  134. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Or
    Welcome to the Grand illusion
    Come on in and see what’s happening
    Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
    The stage is set, the band starts playing
    Suddenly your heart is pounding
    Wishing secretly you were a star
    styx…

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  135. Jack wrote:

    You have a bunch of people in a room all nodding and praising, saying & doing all the expected things. But it’s like a Potemkin Village, a shiny facade that’s decaying on the hidden side.

    Several years ago at his old blog, JMJ/Christian Monist did a short SF piece about a Virtual church in a VR environment similar to a full-immersion Second Life. Including auto-response mode, when your avie (in-game avatar character) makes all the proper “fellowship” Christianese responses without any user input/interaction.

    The only thing missing (which could elevate the story to Black Mirror status) was a capper ending where all the Virtual Churchers were logged out leaving all their avies “fellowshipping” in auto-response mode, and how an outside observer logging in could NOT tell the difference.

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  136. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Several years ago at his old blog, JMJ/Christian Monist did a short SF piece about a Virtual church in a VR environment similar to a full-immersion Second Life. Including auto-response mode, when your avie (in-game avatar character) makes all the proper “fellowship” Christianese responses without any user input/interaction.

    I posted this on Twitter, but a guy down the table from me at church a couple of weeks ago was talking about a mega with a bunch of smaller satellite churches, one of which is in our town. They broadcast the pastor’s message from the main church to the satellites each Sunday (making them even more aptly named, imho). The guy said, “If they can pipe in a virtual pastor, why can’t they pipe in virtual congregants.”

    Having been a Second Lifer for many years, I can honestly say I think sometimes I get better interaction from people in virtual worlds than I do IRL.

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  137. Law Prof, with your particular understanding of abstractions, I’m wondering how many abstractions of Jesus you think modern Christianity has produced, if any, and what does that mean for us in your understanding? This is a real question, feel free to ignore if it’s off topic.

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  138. Thersites wrote:

    Good book to read, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”
    https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153

    Each of us brings our own strengths to the table and it would be a malfunctioning world without you being who you are.

    Thanks Thersites, that looks really interesting.

    So, if the world would be malfunctioning without introverts, would the same be true of a church where introverts don’t feel welcome?

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  139. Todd wrote:

    [Highpoint gave Mr Savage a standing ovation] [b]ecause the Highpoint members love Andy. A church is family right? Not rocket science here. The members have walked beside him for years. The good the bad the ugly, The heart aches and joys of life. He is family to the members of Highpoint church. It’s a natural human reaction to someone you love and deeply care for. Duh

    I was part of a pseudo-christian conference organisation (or “church” as it branded itself) in which the CEO was constantly applauded. We all did it (and I’m not proud of my own role there) because we “loved” and “admired” him. None of us loved him quite enough to speak boldly into his life when he was wrong, though. Not that he would have listened, but that’s only half the point. I hope Highpoint love their popular leaders enough to be straight with them when they need it.

    And also, I hope they are as keen to show love to the shy, the awkward, the struggling and the uncool.

    And finally, I hope they are consistent in treating both of those groups the same and showing partiality or favouritism to neither.

    If they are all of those things, then their love is almost certainly meaningful and (if you’ll forgive the lack of originality) I applaud it.

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  140. FW Rez wrote:

    A lot of people viewed the entire “Biblical Inerrancy” controversy, as raised by the CR supporters, as a smoke screen for politically motivated challenges to the powers that be rather than any sincere concern for the place of scripture within the denomination. The fact that when these fundamentalist leaning people had achieved their objectives they kept on attacking those that didn’t embrace their culture significantly supports the theory that they were actually after power and influence…

    This is a superb description of the hijacking of many a noble-sounding (or indeed genuinely noble) cause for less than noble purposes.

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  141. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    GMFS
    On the topic of music and its power to move… one of the most important life-skills for a christian to develop is the ability to appreciate, or at least to respect, other people’s music.

    Stop making sense. TWW commenters will tell you which music is acceptable for your appreciation.

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  142. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    So, if the world would be malfunctioning without introverts, would the same be true of a church where introverts don’t feel welcome?

    Undoubtedly.

    There are numerous personality-types that don’t fit well in church, TBH. Consider: I’m almost certainly somewhat autistic. But I’m also somewhat extrovert. Thus confounding two stereotypes in one go… the practical upshot is I can be very clumsy and difficult in social settings. This is less true now than it was when I was younger, and hadn’t yet reverse-engineered the unwritten rules of social interaction that most people learn without even realising they exist. But even now, I can’t be something I’m not all of the time. And I certainly didn’t fit in at the cult in Glasgow, which was designed around the money-spinning conference-centre model and in which a slick professional appearance was very highly prized.

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  143. Lydia wrote:

    What is your definition of “walked beside him”? Family?

    My experience with churches like this means that he saw some hilarious/adorable videos of him, possibly with his family, and met him a few times and he just seemed so nice…

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  144. @ ishy:
    “The guy said, “If they can pipe in a virtual pastor, why can’t they pipe in virtual congregants.”

    Brilliant. They would hate that unless you always sent money. But they are well aware that usually won’t happen unless you are there.

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  145. Lea wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    What is your definition of “walked beside him”? Family?

    My experience with churches like this means that he saw some hilarious/adorable videos of him, possibly with his family, and met him a few times and he just seemed so nice…

    Yes. They also got to spend five whole minutes talking directly to him at an event. So they know…..

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  146. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I grew up in the Anglican Church. There were 2 lecturns, on the left and right, with an aisle in the center that led between the choir seating, to the altar area. That’s where Holy Communion was prepared and served. The altar was central, the focal point of of the space. The lecturn on the right was used by an associate priest or lay person for the reading of the Old and New Testament passages for that day, and the left lecturn was where the priest did a short sermon, usually 15-20 minutes.

    We have a similar central, slightly raised space, where communion is prepared and announcements/prayers/liturgy is read. They also do kids choir and other stuff there. And then a higher space for the sermon. It seems to work out fine.

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  147. Lydia wrote:

    @ ishy:
    “The guy said, “If they can pipe in a virtual pastor, why can’t they pipe in virtual congregants.”

    Brilliant. They would hate that unless you always sent money. But they are well aware that usually won’t happen unless you are there.

    I fail to see the difference in watching church on a tv screen in a building or watching from a tv screen in my own house, wearing pj’s, drinking good coffee.

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  148. Child Advocate wrote:

    I would be interested in people’s thoughts on the body language of the Hybels family while they were up on stage being prayed over.

    I have been wondering about this same thing. I’m interested to hear comments.

    BTW I was a 20+ year attender of WCCC until I left about 7 years ago to go to a Bible-believing church. There were too many red flags cropping up for us to stay.

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  149. Lea wrote:

    I fail to see the difference in watching church on a tv screen in a building or watching from a tv screen in my own house, wearing pj’s, drinking good coffee.

    Right?

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  150. FW Rez wrote:

    @ dee:
    Thanks. I was real proud I managed to keep the snark in check (mostly).
    Thank you for the great job of keeping these issues in front of us, keeping us informed, and providing us with perspective.

    I’m with you on that one!!! Some days I can barely contain myself.

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  151. Another good book is “ The Introvert Advantage”GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    Thersites wrote:
    Good book to read, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”
    https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153
    Each of us brings our own strengths to the table and it would be a malfunctioning world without you being who you are.
    Thanks Thersites, that looks really interesting.
    So, if the world would be malfunctioning without introverts, would the same be true of a church where introverts don’t feel welcome?

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  152. Lea wrote:

    I fail to see the difference in watching church on a tv screen in a building or watching from a tv screen in my own house, wearing pj’s, drinking good coffee.

    Depends upon whether you have gas.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh_0KQdQ-1M

    It was a hot Sunday mornin’
    Middle of July
    The choir was a singin’
    ‘Bout the sweet by and by

    Everybody was a swayin’
    And sweatin’ in the heat
    We all bowed our heads down
    As the preacher took his seat

    My sister and my brother stood next to my mother
    In the quiet at the close of the verse
    That’s when daddy cut the big one
    At the Horn Lake Mississippi Missionary Baptist Church

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  153. Lea wrote:

    I fail to see the difference in watching church on a tv screen in a building or watching from a tv screen in my own house, wearing pj’s, drinking good coffee.

    It does seem like there’s little difference when church is reduced to a spectator event without face-to-face interaction except “greet the person next to you” and “sow seed” (tithe).

    Most of all, don’t make waves. Tithe quietly; greet then sit and listen.

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  154. In one of the earliest posts about Willow Creek, someone posted a link to a blog by E.S. Martin at his/her blog site entitled “holy disconnect effecting change.” Esmartinonline.wordpress.com. I can’t tell if E.S. Martin is male or female but I’m going to assume female. She had 9 blogs from February 28, 2015 through November 8, 2016. She said that she started attending a satellite church of Willow Creek in 2007. All of her blogs relate to patriarchal beliefs/gender essentialism/complementarianism in churches and 5 of them relate specifically to Willow Creek. Her writing reminds me of Rachael Denhollander’s expose of Sovereign Grace with her careful research and analysis. The blogs are written from an insider’s perspective and give a fascinating view of Willow Creek’s true views on women. A lot of us have been asking why Bill Hybels and Willow Creek leadership seem to publicly honor and respect women while privately denigrating/abusing them.

    E.S Martin’s last blog, dated November 8, 2016, is entitled “Wealthy, White, Male Domination…at Willow Creek Community Church.” “When scriptural interpretation is in the hands of the powerful and scripture is distorted to benefit and defend the evils of the powerful, the obvious results are evil practices justified as “biblical. This essay is about the biblical distortions from Steve Carter, Teaching Pastor at Willow, that benefit the powerful, specifically the wealthy, white, male.” Again, she has done an amazing job of research and documentation. In one example, “Steve presented the typical ‘benevolent’ Patriarchal model that elevates ‘unity’ or ‘reconciliation’ over justice and full restitution for those who have experienced ‘racism’ or ‘sexism.’ Such distortion of Scripture is similar to when Christian Patriarchalists elevate ‘forgiveness’ or ‘unity’ over justice and restitution for rape or domestic violence survivors. Christian reconciliation has no room for racism or sexism. But, instead of addressing injustice, Steve undermines it with his call for a ‘change of heart.’ Such mentality is typical for patriarchalists who enable abuse and impunity and normalize wealthy, white, male dominance. “ “Yet another horrific biblical distortion in Steve’s message is victim blaming…”
    The next section in this post is entitled “Steve Off-Stage.” This section is fascinating and very disturbing. I have been lurking on Twitter lately following the discussion/news on clergy sexual abuse. I have noticed on several occasions where Steve has tweeted to someone who has been critical of Willow and has asked to have coffee or get together with them to discuss their concerns. I have been puzzled by this and have been wondering if he was genuinely reaching out in humility or if this was just a P.R. move. This is what E.S. Martin says: “There is no point in me approaching Steve on his biblical distortions and promotion of Patriarchal principles. I have tried in the past and only received denials and personal attacks. His most recent responses have been via email. Steve has emailed me and invited me to meet with him as a pretext to get me to stop writing about him. I said no to his invitation to meet and Steve’s true character revealed itself, character in him I had already seen in the past. His passive-aggressive, bullying, dismissive, controlling, arrogant and domineering character quickly surfaced to demand that I stop writing about him and demand that I remove all my posts about him. Steve threw a tantrum via email—as much as a person can throw a tantrum via email. “ The author then goes on to say that she plans to write a post on his email responses and to quote him as a way to point out his immature and bullying character, but this was her last post. I wonder what happened to her. She notes that she tried to communicate with the Elders and senior leaders regarding Steve’s faulty character and biblical distortions and has received excuses and personal attacks from them as well.

    I am really looking forward to hearing all of your opinions on this.

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  155. BTW, I’m in California, so I’m not sure why my posts appear with a Canadian flag…

    More from E.S. Martin’s blog.

    The first blog about Willow Creek is “The Great Compromise-Is Willow Creek Community Still Egalitarian?” The blog talks about the “patriarchal core” of Willow Creek and why, for example, the Executive Pastor can be a woman because her responsibilities are administrative, but the teaching pastor has to be a man. The blog notes that “the only women in our church who have doctrinal oversight are our women elders. However their role is limited and weakened when ‘ensuring the church’s teachings and practices reflect accurate biblical theology.’ The elder board runs as a governance/policy board and they ‘delegate to qualified others’ many of their responsibilities, including doctrinal responsibility to paid staff members. Thus, the women elders have little decision-making abilities—those responsibilities are on the paid senior staff members who are all men. The whole post is fascinating.

    The next blog about Willow Creek is “Steve Carter and Patriarchal Gender Essentialism at Willow Creek.” E.S. Martin documents many instances of Steve’s patriarchal beliefs and teachings, including gender essentialism, which ascribes different aspects and traits of God to men and women (i.e. only men can reflect God’s righteousness and only women can reflect God’s nurturance). Because women don’t reflect God’s righteousness, they are not qualified to truly lead…

    Her next blog about Willow Creek is “Subordinationism at Willow Creek.” “Subordination recognizes the equal deity status of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in essence or being but allocates subordination in function or role.” “…the reason why [this] heresy was created was to give biblical support for the subordination of woman to man…” She has done an amazing job of research.

    Her next blog about W.C. is “The Problem of Donald Miller…at Willow Creek.” She discusses the biblical and theological distortions promoted and taught by Donald Miller. She talks about how “girl” is a degrading term used (by patriarchists) against women and young adult females, sometimes deceptively as endearment. The men and young adult males are referred to as “guys” because it would be too degrading for them to be called “boys.” She gives examples of Steve Carter using the term “girl” to speak in a degrading manner of Miriam, portraying her as a dancing cheerleader rather than as a prophet of God. Apparently, he calls his own wife “girl.” She also mentions Bob Goff referring to his wife as “girl” and scolding the women in a conference audience publicly but not the men because that would be too disrespectful.

    Again, I am really looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say. I wonder what E.S. Martin would have to say now if she were still blogging…

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  156. JYJames wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    I fail to see the difference in watching church on a tv screen in a building or watching from a tv screen in my own house, wearing pj’s, drinking good coffee.
    It does seem like there’s little difference when church is reduced to a spectator event without face-to-face interaction except “greet the person next to you” and “sow seed” (tithe).
    Most of all, don’t make waves. Tithe quietly; greet then sit and listen.

    Do what they say, and no one gets hurt. Where how I heard that before…

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  157. Child Advocate wrote:

    I am really looking forward to hearing all of your opinions on this

    An acquaintance – female pastor – worked at WC for several years. She is known as an expert in her field, publishing books, and now a leader in a mainline denomination.

    About WC, she said the inside story is NOTHING like the image they aspire to, as far as working with women is concerned. She was bullied and belittled by her male pastor colleagues (i.e., she did the work, they took credit, etc.), under the tutelage of Hybels. She finally left WC and went on to … great success elsewhere.

    She is gifted, mature, and kind. Thank God she follows Jesus and not the fakes. We met about five years ago, right after she left WC. Beneath the fashionable and friendly facade, WC is fake.

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  158. Guest wrote:

    Law Prof, with your particular understanding of abstractions, I’m wondering how many abstractions of Jesus you think modern Christianity has produced, if any, and what does that mean for us in your understanding? This is a real question, feel free to ignore if it’s off topic.

    I don’t know how much understanding of abstractions I have, but flesh out what you’re asking a bit more and I’ll try to answer it, for whatever my answer may be worth.

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  159. @ Law Prof:

    Such a great point. Seems I run into this thinking a lot – people believe they “know” vs “know of”.

    Another excellent oberservation was made by someone downthread, @Nick Bulbeck, I think: that “loving” someone entails accountability as well. (I get twitchy bc the abuser just loved to parade that concept to justify himself, but I remind myself that just because he perverted it doesn’t make Biblical love mean something else.)

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  160. @ Daisy:

    I had not thought of it this way before, but designed for extroverts (and the accompanying sin of being introverted) is compelling

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  161. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    So, if the world would be malfunctioning without introverts, would the same be true of a church where introverts don’t feel welcome?

    My guess would be that a church that only values extroverts would be similar to someone being without sight or hearing or a sense of smell, yes you can function without one of the major senses but not optimally.

    I continually rediscover how none of us are complete and we need each other for balance. And it is not simply that one person could balance everything, there are many too issues that come up where different perspectives are necessary and they are in conflict. Have you ever tried arguing two points of view within your own head? Working out differences in an environment of mutual respect is difficult but is beneficial and can be very rewarding.

    I have found it very worthwhile when I have been part of a group of people that got together to hash out solutions, especially when no one person thought of the solution before arrival. The idea of sidelining people in a church because they don’t fit in is a direct contravention of the principle that everyone has a function in Christ’s body, no one is disposable.

    No one is so smart they can dispense with other perspectives and if they don’t value those different personality types, well then they are not very smart.

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  162. dee wrote:

    FW Rez wrote:

    @ dee:
    Thanks. I was real proud I managed to keep the snark in check (mostly).
    Thank you for the great job of keeping these issues in front of us, keeping us informed, and providing us with perspective.

    I’m with you on that one!!! Some days I can barely contain myself.

    I can understand the difficulty. I am constantly having to bite my tongue.

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  163. ___

    These have become 501(c)3 christian entertainers who boast of bonifide sheepskins and shingles, and an ethical demand and a moral obligation of receiving a minimum of ten percent of the individual attender’s weekly salary. They are obliviously learning to discount the validity of scripture, and to rotate their point-person as to reduce the organizational liability surface area and negative impact zone should the need arise.

    – –

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  164. “Steve presented the typical ‘benevolent’ Patriarchal model that elevates ‘unity’ or ‘reconciliation’ over justice and full restitution for those who have experienced ‘racism’ or ‘sexism.’ Such distortion of Scripture is similar to when Christian Patriarchalists elevate ‘forgiveness’ or ‘unity’ over justice and restitution for rape or domestic violence survivors.”

    Being white and male is not a sin. Rape and DV are individual crimes that must be reported, bring a charge and trial. You lost me at distortions of scripture because every white male male is guilty of sexism and every white person is guilty of racism. All are guilty of “actions”? Or existing? This is, sadly, how real victims end up getting trampled.

    After I left the mega world, where I came to loathe it and WC, I kept coming across WC women on blogs dealing with patriarchy. They raved about Hybels and WC constantly. Knowing how Megas work, I thought they were naive and blind to how it really works. I thought WC used egalitarian as a marketing/branding tactic. Sort of a social justice strategy. So beware. It’s everywhere. Using people for another agenda.

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  165. JYJames wrote:

    About WC, she said the inside story is NOTHING like the image they aspire to, as far as working with women is concerned. She was bullied and belittled by her male pastor colleagues (i.e., she did the work, they took credit, etc.), under the tutelage of Hybels.

    That tracks.

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  166. @ Thersites:

    “No one is so smart they can dispense with other perspectives and if they don’t value those different personality types, well then they are not very smart.

    I was raised by an extremely extroverted, fun and sanguine mother. We were involved in everything, knew everyone and gone constantly. Even when we were at home we had company, always All I wanted to do was go home, retreat to my room and read a book. 🙂

    In my twenties I studied personality/temperaments, etc, and realized for the first time I was really an introvert. I simply have to process things. Be alone and recharge. It really helped to understand that.

    God has a sense of humor because I have a very extroverted and sanguine kid, exactly like my mom. (Exhausted!)

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  167. Lea wrote:

    My experience with churches like this means that he saw some hilarious/adorable videos of him, possibly with his family, and met him a few times and he just seemed so nice…

    Sociopaths are always the NICEST people you will ever meet.
    Oozing Sincerity, Concern, Compassion, and NICENESS.
    Until the instant you outlive your usefulness.

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  168. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Legend has it (and this may or may not be true) that, when given an Ovatio, a victorious general would also be accompanied by a trusted slave who would continually whisper in his ear the phrase Memento homo, meaning, “Remember you are a man” (as distinct from, a god, or an emperor).

    Practical people, those Romans.
    But at Highpoint and Willow Creek, that’d be too ROMISH.

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  169. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    I’m an introvert, in a family of introverts, and modern church has gotten difficult for us. Mostly because of that pressure to conform to the extroverted ideal.

    And in churches, “extroverted ideal” means the Backslapping, Glad-Handing Used Car Salesman 24/7.

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  170. JYJames wrote:

    Beneath the fashionable and friendly facade, WC is fake.

    Well, it is difficult to call a ministry genuine which will not display a Cross and preach about Hell because that would be a hindrance to seekers. Every seeker I know of that truly found Christ had to come through the Cross to escape Hell.

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  171. FW Rez wrote:

    The SBC is almost unrecognizable from what it was before the CR. A lot of people viewed the entire “Biblical Inerrancy” controversy, as raised by the CR supporters, as a smoke screen for politically motivated challenges to the powers that be rather than any sincere concern for the place of scripture within the denomination.

    Back in my early Christian days in the Southern Baptists, some pastors would privately snark about “Conservative Resurgence” leaders Pressler, Paige Patterson, and W.A. Criswell as the “Three Popes of the Pecos”.

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  172. Get your facts correct. The WC picture is not of a standing ovation, rather the congregation was standing, uniting in prayer for ALL people involved in this mess. Please stop misleading people with false information.

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  173. Mike wrote:

    Pressler, Paige Patterson, and W.A. Criswell as the “Three Popes of the Pecos”

    Only in the SBC would they have received such celebrity status.

    (to some people, Pecos means cantaloupes)

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  174. @Law Prof
    You presented the thesis that “when most speak of Andy”, their referent is not the man but an abstraction. I agree with this heartily. I extended that thesis to “when most speak of Jesus”, and I was starting to wonder how many abstractions of Jesus were out there as a result. I ended up answering my own question though when I realized I failed to take into account the personal relationship that Jesus has with each of his people. This is (thankfully in my opinion) not true of Andy. So you don’t need to answer my somewhat random question. I do however very much identify with the way you parse through these difficult discussions, and if it’s OK I’d like to ask if you publish on these subjects somewhere? Thank you.

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  175. Guest wrote:

    I do however very much identify with the way you parse through these difficult discussions, and if it’s OK I’d like to ask if you publish on these subjects somewhere? Thank you.

    Not yet. Only thing I’ve ever published on is mind-numbingly dull stuff like taxation. That said, I’m starting to research nonprofit religious fraud, which is something that I can get excited about. But in all honesty, while I’m a pretty good teacher, I’m a pretty mediocre researcher. Some colleagues here are distinguished at it and get all the citations and the love from their department chairs and the research awards…and then there’s me, the plodder.

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  176. @ Guest:
    “You presented the thesis that “when most speak of Andy”, their referent is not the man but an abstraction.”

    I need to remember this because it is so true and it sums it all up!

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  177. Law Prof wrote:

    Not yet. Only thing I’ve ever published on is mind-numbingly dull stuff like taxation.

    Only stuff I’ve pubbed online is articles for the online game zine Freelance Traveller.
    (CREATING Content, not just consuming it — starship designs, technical articles, world writeups.)
    Sometimes the hope I can finish and pub more is the only thing that keeps me going.
    I’m a compulsive Creative, and so much of what comes out of that reaches a dead end.

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  178. Guest wrote:

    @Law Prof
    You presented the thesis that “when most speak of Andy”, their referent is not the man but an abstraction.

    Another example of that is a certain JFK.
    These days, JFK the Myth bears little resemblance to John Kennedy the man.

    “When legend becomes reality, Print the Legend!”
    — The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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  179. Mike wrote:

    Pressler, Paige Patterson, and W.A. Criswell as the “Three Popes of the Pecos”.

    All three Antipopes to the Pope of the Palouse.
    (Like Highlander, There Can Be Only One…)

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