Shaking Up the Southern Baptist Convention

“The number of churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention grew for the 19th consecutive year, reaching 47,544. That’s a 16.3 percent increase in churches since 1997. 

Membership fell for the 11th consecutive year, to 15 million. Since 2006, Southern Baptist congregations have lost about 1.3 million members. Baptisms also declined, as they have for eight of the past 10 years. Congregations reported baptizing 254,122 people – 26.5 percent fewer than in 2007. The latest ratio was one baptism for every 59 church members.

‘It’s heartbreaking to be baptizing fewer people for Christ, even though Southern Baptists have nearly 2,900 more churches than we had a decade ago,’ said LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer.”

Baptist Press, June 1, 2018

https://publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=251531&picture=black-and-white-background

Black and White Background

Buckle up my fellow Southern Baptists! It looks like we’re in for quite a ride as a new generation of leaders commandeers the denominational ship and steers it into unchartered waters. We caught a glimpse of this possible shake-up in leadership eight years ago at the SBC annual meeting. You may remember a most unusual motion in which “Big Papa D” (Mark Driscoll) and his Acts 29 Network were glorified. Here it is.

Why am I bringing up this messenger’s motion all these years later? Because our newly-elected president, J.D. Greear, had this response back in 2010. (see screen shot below)

https://jdgreear.com/blog/favorite-moment-at-the-sbc/

How very interesting that this rapping church planter, Josh Shank, hails from Greear’s church. So this was a ‘God-ordained’ motion? That’s definitely NOT what I would have called it. Here’s what we wrote back in 2010, when our blog was still in its infancy and when we had just a few readers.


Big Papa D and the SBC (link)

Remember last year’s SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville? There was quite a commotion over Mark Driscoll, whom some fondly call “Big Papa D” 

Five motions were made related to Driscoll and his Acts 29 church planting network, either directly or indirectly. Only one of the motions (there were 31 in all) was brought before the messengers for a vote (GCR).

Here are those five motions regarding Mark Driscoll.

— that “all SBC entities should monitor” funds spent in “activities related to or cooperative efforts with Mark Driscoll and/or the Acts 29 organization” and entity heads should submit a report of expenditures to appear in the 2010 Book of Reports, submitted by Kent Cochran, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, Mo.

— that SBC entities avoid “inviting event speakers” who “are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior … such as cursing and sexual vulgarity, immorality, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol,” submitted by Ida South, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Mathiston, Miss.

— that author Mark Driscoll’s books be removed from LifeWay Christian Bookstores because of his “reputation for abusive and ungodly language and … promotions of sex toys on his church web site,” submitted by Jim Wilson, pastor, First Baptist Church in Seneca, Mo.

— that messengers encourage all SBC entities “to refrain from inviting event speakers” who engage in “cursing and sexual vulgarity, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol,” submitted by Larry Reagan, pastor, Adams Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn.

— A motion by Brian LeStourgeon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Camp Verde, Ariz., sought to have Mark Driscoll “address the concerns of his accusers” at the 2010 annual meeting.

To see how Dr. Danny Akin reacted to the criticism of Mark Driscoll, check out his blog post entitled “My Reflections on the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting” at this link:

In the comments section, Dr. Akin makes the following remark: “That was, by the way, in 2007 before I had even met Mark for the first time.”   It is surprising to us at TWW that this rather new friendship has made such a big impact, both positive and negative, on the Southern Baptist Convention.

Although I have not yet read through all the motions that were made at this year’s SBC annual meeting, it appears that little criticism was leveled at Driscoll. After Dr. Akin delivered his report on Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, one messenger posed a question to him regarding Mark Driscoll.

In case you haven’t heard, something unprecedented took place in Orlando.  The first ever RAP motion was made. Take a look…

Pastor / Rapper Josh received the following accolade from J.D. Greear, a member of the GCR Task Force and pastor of The Summit in Durham, North Carolina.

“OK, here it is… on Tuesday, immediately following the vote on the Great Commission Resurgence, our Summit Church planter Josh Shank, who planted “Youngstown Metro Church” a few years ago in Youngstown, OH, made this motion on the floor of the SBC in front of 11,000 messengers. Clearly, God ordained it to be the follow-up to the GCR resolutions.

This takes guts to a new level, and the 1st official “rap” on the floor of the SBC in 150 years. And a timely call to quit majoring on minors.”

There’s no question that the Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroads. When it comes ot Mark Driscoll, it seems that Southern Baptists are often at extreme odds with one another. One the one hand, some have formed alliances with him and his Acts 29 network through church planting. Matt Chandler serves on the Board of Trustees for Acts 29 and has planted churches through this network, as has J.D. Greear.

Church planting is now the focus in the SBC (for obvious reasons), and it has been fascinating to see how much (or little) members of the GCR Task Force give to the Cooperative Program.  Check out these statistics that we found at the following link:

Leader Johnny Hunt, SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga. Church’s Cooperative Program (CP) giving for 2008: $432,977, or 2.48 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $17,450,278.

Chair Ronnie W. Floyd, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., and The Church at Pinnacle Hills, Rogers, Ark. Churches’ combined CP giving for 2008: $324,500, or 2.2 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $14,719,954.

Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and member of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $55,000, or 4.7 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $1,170,469.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and member of Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $226,467, or 3.47 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $6,529,724.

J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church, Durham, N.C. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $55,500, or 1.77 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $3,139,456.

According to Ed Stetzer:

” The Summit Church has undertaken the goal of planting 1000 churches in the next 40 years. Currently, they have 12 plants around the world.”

We would imagine that those churches are being planted with the help of the Acts 29 Network, not the SBC Cooperative Program, which received little funding from Greear’s church. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the years to come…

Finally, how much longer will Big Papa D be seen as a “DUDE” in the eyes of his followers?


Much has changed with Mark Driscoll since we published this post eight years ago; however, we believe Mark has left an indelible impression on his followers in the SBC. We find their brashness off-putting and not very Christ-like. However, at least some of them (such as the current SBC president) are beginning to admit openly that they are, in fact, associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

We hope you will take the time to read Danny Akin’s reflections on the 2009 annual meeting. Interestingly, two the professors he mentioned in that post are no longer at Southeastern. Their withdrawals are shrouded in secrecy. And he was very naive regarding Mark Driscoll. Once again, your humble, discerning blog queens called Mark Driscoll to task during this same time frame.

And speaking of secrecy, some of our commenters have recently brought up the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and the report they produced. Why is ‘CLASSIFIED’ until 2025?

Here are the members of that task force in case you would like to contact them and ask why they are being so secretive.

The GCR Task Force

Dr. Johnny Hunt
SBC President, Ex-officio member of the GCR Task Force, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia

Dr. Ronnie Floyd
GCR Task Force Chairman, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale & The Church at Pinnacle Hills, Arkansas

Dr. Daniel Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC

Tom Biles
Executive Director, Tampa Bay Baptist Association

John Cope
Senior Pastor of Keystone Community Fellowship, Chalfont, PA

Dr. David Dockery
President, Union University, Jackson, TN

John Drummond
Owner, DMG Development, Panama City, FL

Kathy Ferguson Litton
Women’s Communicator, Pastor’s Wife, First Baptist North Mobile, AL

Donna Gaines
Women’s Communicator, Pastor’s Wife, Bellevue Baptist Church
Cordova, TN

Al Gilbert
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC

Dr. Larry Grays
Senior Pastor, Midtown Bridge Church, Atlanta, GA

Dr. J.D. Greear
Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, NC

Ruben Hernandez
Associate Spanish Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX

Dr. Harry Lewis
Senior Strategist, Partnership Missions and Mobilization Group at NAMB

Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

Mike J. Orr
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Chipley, FL

Dr. Frank Page
VP of Evangelism, North American Mission Board

Dr. Jim Richards
Executive Director of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Dr. Roger Spradlin
Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA

Dr. Ted H. Traylor
Pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, FL

Dr. Simon Tsoi
Executive Director of Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the U. S. and Canada

Dr. Robert White
Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention

Dr. Kenneth Whitten
Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, FL

Uh oh! One of the members of this task force, Frank Page, had to step down due to a moral failing.

In addition, we are very concerned that the IMB and NAMB are not divulging financial information regarding church plants and missions spending. As noted at the top of the post, the number of Southern Baptist churches has increased 16.3 percent since 1997; however, membership and baptisms are in decline. Those who are giving to the Cooperative Program are entitled to know how their contributions are being utilized to advance the kingdom.

As this new generation of Southern Baptist leaders takes the reins of the SBC, they need to be transparent in everything they are doing in order to garner the respect and confidence of their elder Southern Baptists. May they bear in mind that secrecy breeds distrust. The SBC has been a denomination in decline (see the statistics at the top of the post). Do these newly elected leaders have what it takes to turn things around?


Comments

Shaking Up the Southern Baptist Convention — 213 Comments

  1. I would say the SBC will turn, but not necessarily back, it seems they are on a serious slide down. Having observed the fabulous results of individual church take overs it’s a safe bet to say the decline will not only continue, but probably exceed all previous years. Of course some how this will be cast as growth of some sort. Perhaps a winnowing and removal of chaff. Think I will watch from the water and fish.

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  2. mitch: Think I will watch from the water and fish.

    “… our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman … he never asked us more than the first question in the catechism, ‘What is the chief end of man?’ And we answered together so one of us could carry on if the other forgot, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.’ – from “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean

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  3. From the post, “Do these newly elected leaders have what it takes to turn things around?”

    Answered in the post: “… they need to be transparent in everything they are doing…”

    which apparently they are not (transparent, that is).

    It seems that once one elevates oneself, one can do whatever one wants:
    – with others’ money entrusted to them
    – with youth entrusted to their youth pastors
    – with women entrusting their hearts to sound and wise counsel, such as what to do about an abusive husband.
    – with theology and doctrine and teaching
    – with missionary funding
    – with the predators in the leadership network, some criminal, no less.

    Did any of these actions and decisions from top leadership have due process throughout the rank and file that are paying the bills and salaries?

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  4. Ah, the GCRTF files, “classified” until 2025 ……… Hmmm, what if the Father sends His Son for the bride before then??? I wonder if the task force thought about that when they secreted their files away?

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  5. It’s obvious why the number churches grew in SBC since 1997 yet baptisms are down- because seminaries made a hard sell to pastor students who were already leading churches to get their congregations linked up with the SBC. “We’ll give you discount on your tuition!” “Your missionaries can get cooperative funds!” “You can get money to start a new church plant!” (money, money, money)

    We call this “buying up shares”. Two churches in my area fell for it. They are included in the SBC census and now send an annual check to the SBC cooperative fund. Makes the denomination look like it’s growing when in fact nothing has changed; just a bunch of older congregations with new affiliations on paper.

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  6. mitch,

    mitch:
    I would say the SBC will turn, but not necessarily back, it seems they are on a serious slide down. Having observed the fabulous results ofindividual church take overs it’s a safe bet to say the decline will not only continue, but probably exceed all previous years. Of course some how this will be cast as growth of some sort. Perhaps a winnowing and removal of chaff. Think I will watch from the water and fish.

    They will argue the “church” is just purifying itself. They always IMO have an excuse for the decline in membership.

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  7. Fisher,

    Excellent comment!

    Here in the Raleigh-Durham area, we have so many church plants! J.D. Greear was recently quoted in Christianity Today as saying he wants one of The Summit’s campuses within 15 minutes of everyone who lives here.

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/june/jd-greear-southern-baptist-president-candidate-summit-nc.html

    Afterward, several attendees asked Greear when the Summit would launch another location in this or that area. He nodded enthusiastically. The church hopes to one day offer gatherings within 15 minutes of anyone living in the Triangle.

    It’s a no-brainer how he gets an instant satellite campus. I call it sheep shifting. Others have called it sheep stealing. There may be some converts who attend, but if we did an investigation, we would likely find that quite a few Summit attendees are being sucked out of Southern Baptist congregations or other existing fellowships.

    Then there are the college students (not to mention seminary students) who are members of other SB churches and attend The Summit while earning their degree. Are they counted twice on the denomination’s church roll?

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  8. The SBC continues to be a fairly loose association of autonomous churches – pretty big tent actually. You have mega churches, you continue to have tiny churches. Pastors come, pastors go, old leadership dies or fades away, new leadership sets different courses.
    Nothing really unusual about this.

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  9. Hey y’all ……. I followed the link and realized that my husband attended the convention in Louisville as a messenger! However, he never said a peep to me about Driscoll, Greear, rap …… anything ……

    But, unless it involves a covered dish, hubby treats church like a secret society (for men). That attitude contributed to my anger, and my ceasing to attend.
    PS: I happen to know that hubby has joined the Gideons – he hasn’t said a peep to me about it.

    Personal story? Yes.
    But I believe that SBC teachings is a major contributor to hubby’s behavior.

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  10. “Will new leadership in the SBC be able to reverse the trend of declining church membership and baptisms?” (Deb)

    I look for a surge in baptisms at New Calvinist churches under Greear’s presidency – he will emphasize the need for “evangelism” during his tenure. Of course, evangelism doesn’t mean the same to New Calvinists – they harvest the elect, rather than reach the lost. Their “evangelistic” messages are directed at the chosen few, rather than ALL people. And everybody that attends their churches must have been drawn there because they were predestined to do so; thus, they are all baptismal candidates, so get them wet. Even though SBC’s new breed of “pastors” don’t sound a clear Gospel call, the young reformers simply have to say they are going to baptize a load of people and they will show up to get dunked! There will be mass baptisms in inflatable swimming pools on the parking lot. Some of them may get baptized multiple times like Greear. SBC baptism rates will soar!

    In the meantime, God is looking on at man’s feeble efforts to get this thing right. And, of course, some do. Today, on a foreign field in a remote part of the planet, a faithful servant of God (perhaps even an SBC missionary) will baptize a new believer in a river. Before that glorious event, he heard the Gospel preached – the message of Christ for ALL people, believed what he heard, knelt to say a sinner’s prayer, repented of his sins, and received Christ as Savior. He will be called a Christian and will live like one as best he can, while struggling to survive in a hostile world. Someday, he will meet Christ again.

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  11. molly245: Is mark Driscoll still affiliated with Acts 29?

    No, he was ousted from leadership of the organization he founded. His potty-mouth preaching and assorted other misbehavings finally caught up with him. An SBC pastor now leads Acts 29 – Matt Chandler, The Village Church.

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  12. What is a ‘women’s communicator’? Are women a separate group who need to be communicated with in the church? Are all the decisions made by men and then ‘communicated’ to a subordinate group who are not really full members of the church?

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  13. At FBCJAX Heath Lambert took over for Mac Brunson. He said in a letter to me that he “so wanted Mac Brunson to stay.” I was later told by someone who KNEW that he wanted Mac Brunson to leave in the worst way. Let’s say he did things that brought that about. Then when I wondered why Mac Brunson and Heath Lambert didn’t speak in Mac Brunson’s last service, and questioned it, I was written this bit about Heath Lambert wanting Mac Brunson to stay. I believe, from the reading i’ve done in the last five weeks, that Heath Lambert is a strict calvinist from the al mohler school of calvinism. And what people in the “counseling” center at FBC Jax better know is that the ACBC counseling is calvinist in doctrine as well, and believe that Jesus only died for the “elect”. Exactly how do you think that’s going to fit with your mental health counseling if the counselor you have thinks you are non elect and unpardonable and Jesus didn’t even die for you? Is any of this gossip? No, because it every bit happened to me and was said to me and I was in the counseling center for awhile. I honestly didn’t know about calvinism, this deep dark plot to take over the southern baptist church, or the beliefs of calvinists until the last 6 weeks. So, I was fooled, and I think of myself as pretty non-foolable. Boy, was I wrong. The thing I’m having SUCH a hard time with right now, is that Mac Brunson was supposedly out of the school of Paige Patterson, or the non calvinists…so I cannot for the life of me reconcile in my mind a. Why he brought Heath Lambert to FBCJAX in the first place and B. why he left the church to him and took off when the going got tough. I’ve heard it was to “save the church” but the church with the LIGHTHOUSE on it, for EVERYONE, has now become a calvinist stronghold. I saw that thing about don’t let the calvinistas take over like this…well they just did at FBCJAX. As for the southern baptist convention, this is how it will go down…church by church and piece by piece. And these pastors will say WHATEVER they have to say to cover their tracks. The other most depressing piece of it all. I don’t know what cause they think sneakiness and craftiness is serving. But transparency? Nah…I don’t think so. The one and only communication I ever had with Heath Lambert, I was told by someone it was a lie and I would tend to believe it. I asked Mac Brunson as well, and got no response. That doesn’t mean, however, that the facts aren’t out there if you ask for them. If you can’t trust the first thing a person ever says to you, I would say you can’t trust the rest either. And I’m up the creek cause FBCJAX is the only church I have a ride to. The southern baptist convention, the great commission, the whole thing is done and God will have to expose it. And everybody is keeping their mouths shut while it crumbles. The work of God.

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  14. Most organizations go through stages similar to the human life cycle: birth, growth, maturity, and death. Religious denominations are no exception. I would put the SBC on the growth chart between maturity and death. A once-great soul-winning denomination has already forfeited its denominational gifting of evangelism, its reason for existence. The infighting has gotten worse as divergent theologies compete for the throne. God’s plan of salvation has become lost in the jots and tittles of the doctrines of men. The glory of God has departed. The only hope for a people called Southern Baptists, with whosoever-will on their lips, is at the local church level – that battle has already been lost at the national level in its seminaries, mission agencies, and publishing house.

    The Body of Christ, however, is still alive and doing well – Praise God!!

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  15. The 1,000 missionaries sent back home and the sealing of the GCRTF documents, both things that greatly unsettled me.

    No one questioning 9Marks, or rather – it was just assumed and the unspoken rule that this was the only viable option to do ecclesiology and church. Where are the competing ideologies, open and free good Baptist criticism?

    None of this is my business – especially as a woman, though. It wasn’t even my business how women were being treated, how I was personally being heartbroken everyday. That was all up to them and to their decision and interpretation behind closed doors.

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  16. Not sure how accurate the baptism stats are. We went to a non denom church that “combined” with a Southern Baptist Church years ago. I think the pastor had dreams of a huge church. He tried to model willow creek, then Saddleback. Massive guilting about giving, little transparency about what church was doing with money. Adult Sunday school went away, small groups became almost mandatory. One of the weirder things I thought was the push for kids to get baptized. They would give kids points to buy things from the prize store if they got baptized. My elementary school daughter called it out. I thought I had some understanding why baptists don’t agree with infant baptism, but it seems odd that a kindergartner fits their criteria.
    It seemed to me the church was getting some kind of credibility from SBC by boosting numbers.

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  17. Grainne:
    Are all the decisions made by men and then ‘communicated’ to a subordinate group who are not really full members of the church?

    Oh, definitely. At out church, there is a men’s meeting the week before the monthly business meeting …… where the men decide what will be brought up for a vote at the business meeting …….. no gurlz allowed. We sit and wait in the sanctuary while the men meet in the library. Women are not allowed in the Holy of Holies!

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  18. emily honey: The 1,000 missionaries sent back home and the sealing of the GCRTF documents, both things that greatly unsettled me.

    Traditional Southern Baptists should have stood up and cried aloud when those missionaries were recalled … millions of voices en masse demanding accountability. When it didn’t happen, I knew then that the pew no longer gave two hoots about world evangelism – that the SBC I had known was no more.

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  19. mot,

    One characteristic of authoritarian groups is explaining the departure of members/attenders with “God’s getting rid of the deadwood.” I actually heard that statement when I was attending an abusively controlling church (charismatic and part of the Restoration Movement).

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  20. Here’s the primary reason for the lopsided ratio of new churches vs. new members: the reformed theology crowd uses NAMB dollars to plant new-start reformed churches, since it is becoming increasingly difficult to get present SBC churches on-board with their Calvinist theology, rigid church discipline and lack of love for the brethren!

    For example, when our church refused to “partner” (i.e.–get taken over) with a reformed church, they started a new church plant less than a mile from us. I think that’s a pretty nasty tactic, but also pretty stupid, since we are supposedly on the same team.

    It’s all about power and control for these guys–and if they can’t take over an existing church, they’ll start their own, just to try to destroy the other church by siphoning off people (sheep shuffling). Even the world doesn’t do business that way! God help us!

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  21. If you want your heart to break over the SBC, read the comment stream on Thom Rainer’s blog post about 6 church metrics. Not concerned with his blog, but the comments will absolutely sicken you so have a sound stomach before you try this.

    Talk about hirelings.

    Deebs, maybe we need a post from ya’ll in response to them?

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  22. Max,

    All they heard is “give more money”. Stewardship questions not allowed. Such sinful questions are hateful gossip as one cannot prove anything anyway because they are deceptive and secretive. Sigh

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  23. What I hear you all saying is that when the new cals start a new church plant in some area that new church attracts members from the existing churches.

    Why?

    What do people see in the new church that they did not see in their old church that caused them to move to the new church plant? It must have been something, but what?

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  24. okrapod: What do people see in the new church that they did not see in their old church that caused them to move to the new church plant? It must have been something, but what?

    Good question. Sometimes it’s the music style, the age group of people attending, perhaps some people like to “church hop” and just like to try something new.
    But frankly, the underlying reason is that the new church wants to control everything and everyone within the church, and a new plant ensures that they can do that without congregants asking a lot of questions!

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  25. I don’t think declining attendance is strictly an SBC phenomena.

    Church is losing it’s relevance. I can only speak from my own experience but I was ok being Christian until I went to an evangelical church and it opened my eyes to what the bible is really all about.

    This is what drove me right out.

    1) Intolerance – if you don’t believe in the bible strictly as written then you aren’t Christian, I don’t want to judge my co-workers, my friends, and other assorted humans who don’t fit into that definition of Christianity (the church I attended also lumped Baptists and, no surprise here, Catholics and other denominations in this category)
    2) Bigotry – They had an asian pastor that they actually called “Asian Joe”. Needless to say, Joe didn’t stick around too long. The church caters to many cultures but the leadership (except for the “ethnic ministries” pastor) are all of European descent. But no one seems to think this unacceptable behaviour! My wife wasn’t too impressed being of mixed culture herself but still attends the church, the leadership seems untouchable.
    3) Membership contract – even before I read about it here, there was no way I was signing that thing. Interestingly they have removed the contract from their website. I suspect it is now rolled into their membership classes. I would be interested if this is becoming a trend to get folks invested first and then spring the contract on them.
    4) Church growth programs – be it “Purpose Driven Life” or “Operation Andrew” – cultivate your friendships to get them into church. My friends are real to me, not potential congregants.
    5) Everyone has their place – singles for single fellowship, Africans for African fellowship, men for men’s fellowship, women for women’s fellowship, Filipinos for Filipino fellowship and on and on. My wife and I are of different cultures and one of the pastors informed her there was a fellowship that fit her culture…we’re together as couple. Maybe it was nothing but it’s just darned odd to my thinking.

    I stayed for 5 years until I finally had to pull the plug.

    I suspect a majority of frontline Christians don’t believe in a lot of the dross that’s being peddled but at the same time seem incapable of going against the leadership.

    New folks have no interest in signing up for this. I also think that there’s enough people who reach critical mass and bail (I sometimes wonder what happened to “Asian Joe”). And many who suffer abuse probably also quit.

    I can tell you that absence does not make the heart grow fonder. My absence eventually caused me to reject most of the bible. It doesn’t fit my worldview.

    I’ve mixed it up with a number of Christians on this blog over the issue of whether I actually have any morality due my lack of faith. And from those exchanges I gather that there are a number of Christians (and I’m sure that other religions have them too) that de-humanize the unbeliever to the point that they are no longer a real person.

    Once they fall into that “unperson” bucket then any actions become possible – it’s ok to lie to them, steal from them, dislike and even hate them – even to the point of killing (think some of the anti abortion activists). This is not the majority of Christians and I’m willing to bet that when push comes to shove most of church leadership would be appalled as well.

    But when you’ve got people on threads stating that slavery is not incompatible with Christianity then there’s something very, very wrong.

    I’ve brought these points forward many times so thanks for indulging me once again. I’m probably sounding like a CD on repeat.

    As always appreciate the discussions.

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  26. Deb:
    molly245,

    You ladies didn’t pick up on Josh’s video?

    It’s a form of Augmented Reality (AR). Just like Pokemon Go, but more advanced, because its real and mobile.

    Josh becomes a caricature…of himself. The image comes and goes as people move in the field of view. God has a sense of humour, and Josh got punked.

    It’s the shirt he put on that morning. The shirt is the superimposed image. Go back and look again.

    @ 0.20 Josh drops his right arm and the heads move aside. He will literally become a bird brain, momentarily, amoung other imagery.

    I’m a little reluctant to mention my observation, because a litteral view of life may be hilarious to the viewer, but aggravating to others, especialy online.

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  27. okrapod: What I hear you all saying is that when the new cals start a new church plant in some area that new church attracts members from the existing churches.

    Why?

    In my area, New Calvinist churches are primarily populated with young folks in their 20s-30s, with a spattering of 40s-50s. IMO, the primary attractant are “dude” preachers and the music style. A typical SBC-YRR church plant looks like this: church in a converted building (warehouse, strip mall store, etc.), coffee lounge in the foyer (free coffee & pastries!), stack of free ESV Bibles at the “sanctuary” entrance, walls painted black in the sanctuary to draw attention to lighted stage (spot light on pastor propped on stool), cool band (whining guitars, drums), praise & worship team in tight pants. Contrary to popular belief, Generations Y & Z are not pulled from area churches because Neo-Cal is serving up orthodoxy and truth … the above gimmicks are pulling them in. Additionally, youth view everything about their parent’s faith as fuddy-duddy compared to the bells and whistles of New Calvinism, so they migrate to the new church in town.

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  28. Jack: … absence does not make the heart grow fonder… Christians … that de-humanize the unbeliever to the point that they are no longer a real person. Once they fall into that “unperson” bucket then any actions become possible – (

    When a fellow church member is reduced to a tithing unit (their $$$) or a volunteer (their time and effort) then absence definitely does not make the heart grow fonder. Absence becomes the opportunity to reconnect with one’s own heart and humanity and with God after suffering the abuse of a calculating snake oil fellow church member-in-charge (“leader”) and his/her enabling fanclub.

    “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:16

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  29. Lydia: All they heard is “give more money”.

    Well, NAMB had plenty of money to spend on new church plants, while IMB suffered! At the same time those missionaries were being called home, NAMB was spending $60 million per year to start 1,000 new church plants (primarily with YRR pastors). I realize that the funding streams for NAMB and IMB are different, but what should have been SBC’s overall priority? Spread the Gospel on foreign fields or plant reformed theology in North America?

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  30. Root 66: Sometimes it’s the music style

    When an SBC-YRR church planter comes to town, he knows that the single most important person he can bring with him (perhaps even more important than himself!) is a cool “worship” leader.

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  31. Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    Just read your comment over at SBC Voices, Nancy – you go girl!

    Until recently, SBC Voices never had any blog pieces by wimmenfolk. It’s part of their new attempt to look female-friendly. But in their heart of hearts, the New Calvinists are still a complementarian put-women-in-their-place bunch of guys. When all the Me-Too stuff settles down, they will go back to their old ways and start subordinating and minimizing their girls again.

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  32. Max:

    When all the Me-Too stuff settles down, they will go back to their old ways and start subordinating and minimizing their girls again.

    That is exactly what I believe and expect.

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  33. Lea: *ragefacepalm*

    Also, the king (in this ridiculously old and fictional story!) apparently lived happily ever after, so doesn’t sound like a bad ending, SBC.

    Bwaaaaahaaaahaaahaha!

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  34. Max: When an SBC-YRR church planter comes to town, he knows that the single most important person he can bring with him (perhaps even more important than himself!) is a cool “worship” leader.

    Max,
    That would totally NOT be me! As a worship leader, I’m probably about as square as Spongebob! However, the oldsters like the hymns we sing and they can really raise the roof sometimes! I love them, and when I hear of churches who kick the oldsters out in order to be hip and cool, I say, “Send them on over here!” We have several seniors who were victims of such nonsense.

    It’s a crying shame, especially when the scriptures specifically say that taking care of widows is one of our primary functions as a church!

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  35. Root 66,

    I love those old songs with the split choruses …… alto, soprano, tenor, bass …… all seperate, yet in harmony. And, if I am an “oldster”, I’d never admit it! : )

    My mom sings soprano in a local trio with a high tenor and a deep alto.

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  36. Max: Contrary to popular belief, Generations Y & Z are not pulled from area churches because Neo-Cal is serving up orthodoxy and truth … the above gimmicks are pulling them in.

    And when somebody sets up down the street with BETTER gimmicks?

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  37. Max: But in their heart of hearts, the New Calvinists are still a complementarian put-women-in-their-place bunch of guys. When all the Me-Too stuff settles down, they will go back to their old ways and start subordinating and minimizing their girls again.

    Barefoot and Pregnant, Mouthwash and Kneepads, or both?

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  38. ___

    “57,762,169 Precious Souls And Counting?: A Long Standing Strategic Trend Challenged, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Time to reshape the U.S. legal landscape?

    huh?

    Looks like women’s reproductive rights ‘adjustments’ might possibly be on the USSC judiciary table in eighteen months…

    What?

    A gathering of unborn children might soon be around to tell their tale?

    could b.

    Dare to dream… (1)

    (tears)

    ATB

    Sòpy
    —-
    (1) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pe6KVIqR1UU

    ;~)

    – –

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  39. I do not have any love for the neo-cals. The names of the men listed, the ones I know of I have problems with their overly strong arm tactics. The ones I don’t know of, well, I don’t know of them.
    The decrease in numbers of the members of the SBC churches may have other reasons that are the cause. I am only one person. But I have been involved in 3 SBC churches that were run by the old guard. The church rolls were intentionally or not, I could not say, grossly inflated. Steps were taken to “clean up the rolls”. Do we want to have “members” that no one can remember and haven’t been to the church for decades? I don’t believe these “members” truly met the definition of a member. Again it may only be my experience, but I suspect it was a much more pervasive problem. There were not as many members of SBC churches as the convention reported. Attempts have been made recently to have more accurate numbers. This is only my own observation. I am a nobody and have no inside knowledge other than what I have stated above.

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  40. linda: read the comment stream on Thom Rainer’s blog post about 6 church metrics.

    I got like two down and got to this:

    I said, “So, each adult who comes through your door has to bring $50 to put in the offering plate to meet your budget; children, youth, and college students don’t contribute. They are an expense.”

    He looked shocked and said, “I never thought about it like that.”

    I thought, “Where is your business sense”?

    All those children are just little non-contributing parasites according to this guy! #NotLikeJesusDude

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  41. Ken A: There were not as many members of SBC churches as the convention reported.

    Well, I was (until recently) a 60+ year member of SBC. Here’s my perspective on membership. For years, SBC has reported around 16 million members in 45,000+ churches. In my experience with several SBC churches, about half of the folks on church rolls are dead, done, moved, or otherwise unaccounted for. So the “real” membership would be about 8 million. Of that number, only half could be considered active members (going to church 2 or more times per month). Thus, on any given Sunday you might be able to locate 4 million Southern Baptists.

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  42. Root 66: I love them, and when I hear of churches who kick the oldsters out in order to be hip and cool, I say, “Send them on over here!”

    Reading between the lines at that Thom Rainer blogs comments section, one church that changed to reach ‘outsiders’ (I’m guessing that means younger people) lost all their older *serioustithing* members. Shock of shocks, they suddenly had a money problem!

    Churches that kick out all the older members are incredibly stupid if they want to keep the lights on.

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  43. Lea: Churches that kick out all the older members are incredibly stupid if they want to keep the lights on.

    Churches need the wisdom of age, coupled with the energy of youth. Young folks to speed things up, old folks to slow things down. And, as you note, the pockets are a little deeper in the 50+ age bracket. A church near me was taken over by the New Calvinists, who proceeded to make it difficult for the older members to stay. After their departure, they had to cut back on weekly services because the electric bill was too high.

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  44. Victorious: Anybody remember Marabel Morgan and her “meet him at the door in cellophane?”

    Ew.

    Although that reminds me of something I heard about sororities at my school wrapping people in cellophane and circling their fat dimples…

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  45. Victorious,
    I don’t remember the cellophane part (she did advocate looking sexy for one’s husband), but I remember her (The Total Woman). The Wittenburg Door (evangelical satire magazine) wrote an article about her entitled “The Totaled Woman”.

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  46. What do people see in the new church that they did not see in their old church that caused them to move to the new church plant?It must have been something, but what?

    They’re deceptive either way, whether taking over a church or in recruiting people to a new one. They pretend to be the new cool church on the block and usually offer gifts or host big neighborhood events. The membership covenants are purposely vague so you don’t know what you are getting into. They practice a lot of the things that cults use to “love bomb” people into coming.

    It’s only once you’ve signed the covenant, thinking it was no big deal, that they start calling you into private meetings with an elder to correct you. They threaten to excommunicate you if you ask questions, stop coming, or anything else the elders don’t want you to do. They also threaten to make sure every church you go to after leaving will know you are still a member of their church and under church discipline (though they won’t say it’s just because you left–they will lie).

    It’s a bait and switch, just like the church takeovers. As we’ve seen many times before, they have no problem lying. And NAMB is spending huge amounts of money on these tiny church plants to attract visitors.

    For an example, the phrase “respect the elders” is in a church covenant I am familiar with. That phrase alone was what was used to threaten a woman who tried to leave her husband and the church after being violently abused. They said only the elders can decide if she is no longer a member and she is still under church discipline there. Members, particularly women, have no authority to make those decisions.

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  47. Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    Oh my goodness! I am suffering shock that churches like that still exist. My husband and I have attended 2 conservative Baptist churches in the UK and never heard of anything like that. Baptist church polity is congregational led and every church member has the right to introduce issues for discussion. We were well served by women and men deacons and women and men pastors. We are astounded at the oppressive and unbiblical complementarian codswallop pervading the church here. Having been startled to hear myself being referred to as a “sweet soul sister” I have done my best to fit in with baking cookies and crying frequently. I actually love cooking, but love teaching theology more. And, as Max frequently points out, preaching the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to ” whomsoever will” takes precedence over everything.

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  48. Max:
    Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    Just read your comment over at SBC Voices, Nancy – you go girl!

    Until recently, SBC Voices never had any blog pieces by wimmenfolk.It’s part of their new attempt to look female-friendly.But in their heart of hearts, the New Calvinists are still a complementarian put-women-in-their-place bunch of guys.When all the Me-Too stuff settles down, they will go back to their old ways and start subordinating and minimizing their girls again.

    Just a few years ago SBC Voices was chiding/banning people who said anything negative about Driscoll or Mahaney. They had the “true Gospel”. I find their deception, pretense and hypocrisy just plain old evil. Too bad the women they publish ( Most are pastors wives) don’t call them out. But it’s part of a larger strategy. And people WILL fall for it.

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  49. okrapod:
    What I hear you all saying is that when the new cals start a new church plant in some area that new church attracts members from the existing churches.

    Why?

    What do people see in the new church that they did not see in their old church that caused them to move to the new church plant?It must have been something, but what?

    It’s mostly based on appealing to emotion. Whether it’s more “seriousness” or more entertaining or more cool or “we have the true Gospel”. A big push to hook people into a social group right away. Momentum is crucial.

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  50. Lydia: Just a few years ago SBC Voices was chiding/banning people who said anything negative about Driscoll or Mahaney. They had the “true Gospel”. I find their deception, pretense and hypocrisy just plain old evil. Too bad the women they publish ( Most are pastors wives) don’t call them out. But it’s part of a larger strategy. And people WILL fall for it.

    Lydia am I correct that Voices has been called Pravda?

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  51. Sòpwith: A gathering of unborn children might soon be around to tell their tale?

    could b.

    Dare to dream… (1)

    (tears)

    Deebs, this is probably too political.

    Sopy: I’m going to tell you two things. 1) Half of all fertilized eggs do not implant. It kind of blows a big huge hole in the doctrine that life starts at conception when half of fertilized ova are simply sloughed off. 2) Women got abortions before Roe v. Wade. Women will get abortions after Roe v. Wade is overturned. The only difference is that back before 1973 rich women went to New York or California for abortions and poor women had to trust to the tender mercies of the local underground abortionist. The same thing will happen when Roe is overturned, except we can probably include the friendly local drug dealer selling what s/he swears is misoprostol.

    This is the failure of the pro-life movement. It had 45 years to demonstrate its commitment to life, but it demonstrated instead that it couldn’t gut it up to provide financially for women after birth. It demonstrated it wants to get rid of birth control. It demonstrated it was not in favor of teaching teenagers all about preventing pregnancy, not just abstinence. I could go on, but I’ve ranted on quite enough.

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  52. ishy: It’s only once you’ve signed the covenant, thinking it was no big deal, that they start calling you into private meetings with an elder to correct you. They threaten to excommunicate you if you ask questions, stop coming, or anything else the elders don’t want you to do. They also threaten to make sure every church you go to after leaving will know you are still a member of their church and under church discipline (though they won’t say it’s just because you left–they will lie).

    “Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?”

    This is essentially what they use to ‘discipline’ you in the OPC. Of course, the pastor decides if he believes you are participating ‘faithfully’ enough, or if your are ‘delinquent in doctrine or life’. Indeed, who isn’t? I assure you, all people are ‘delinquent in doctrine and life’ including all pastors. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, does scripture suggest such blatant authoritarian control over people. This is surely the same sort of ‘vow’ Calvin used to ‘discipline’ (we now call it torture and/or murder) those who did not cross their t’s just right – or simply proved to be a threat to his tyrannical empire.

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  53. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    You paint all prolifers with the same broad brush. That is not fair. At least among the people I know, not one of the things you mention is true. Just because some are that way does not mean all are. Further, the fact that some fertilized eggs never make it does not in and of itself prove anything. Abortion is a cruel means of getting rid of what some would view as an inconvenience. Personally I think it is murder. Maybe that’s also too political.

    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Deebs, this is probably too political.

    Sopy: I’m going to tell you two things. 1) Half of all fertilized eggs do not implant. It kind of blows a big huge hole in the doctrine that life starts at conception when half of fertilized ova are simply sloughed off. 2) Women got abortions before Roe v. Wade. Women will get abortions after Roe v. Wade is overturned. The only difference is that back before 1973 rich women went to New York or California for abortions and poor women had to trust to the tender mercies of the local underground abortionist. The same thing will happen when Roe is overturned, except we can probably include the friendly local drug dealer selling what s/he swears is misoprostol.

    This is the failure of the pro-life movement. It had 45 years to demonstrate its commitment to life, but it demonstrated instead that it couldn’t gut it up to provide financially for women after birth. It demonstrated it wants to get rid of birth control. It demonstrated it was not in favor of teaching teenagers all about preventing pregnancy, not just abstinence. I could go on, but I’ve ranted on quite enough.

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  54. Why, do we need to keep planting churches, they are literally everywhere in the US, the SBC has more churches in the US than there are McDonald’s. We have the churches, we just need to focus on getting people to go to them. And, so far the Conservative resurgence and the Neo-Calvinists haven’t managed to do it.

    I’m a millennial and I don’t want rock music on Sunday morning, I don’t want to worship in a darkened room, and I don’t want a preacher acting like he is a hipster. I don’t want Sunday morning to feel like an extension of Saturday night clubbing. I want Sunday morning to feel different than every other time of the week, because it is a special time. I want a preacher who is preaching the word, naturally, not trying to be a condescending version of what he thinks I want to hear. I want Hymns that do not mimic top-40 radio, and sound like soft pop love ballads, and with an emphasis on congregational singing, not a performance. I want someone who accepts that God grants us all free-will and that we are all equal before God, regardless of gender, race, education, etc… Find me that church and I’ll be there every Sunday.

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  55. truthseeker00: I assure you, all people are ‘delinquent in doctrine and life’ including all pastors.

    The New Calvinists are interesting in that they’ve got an argument for this. It’s unique in what I’ve seen. They claim that everyone is so degenerate that they will always act like they are. They don’t use the traditional Baptist belief that the Holy Spirit regenerates you and your actions. But since pastors are “specially called”, they don’t have to be corrected, can’t be evaluated, and can correct others. The members that prove their submission to these men are truly regenerate.

    Nevermind that most of these guys have decided that they are in charge for no other reason than they want to be. And nevermind that there’s no logical reason in their own theology for demanding control over members if everyone is an evil worm and can’t be good.

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  56. Root 66: the underlying reason is that the new church wants to control everything and everyone within the church, and a new plant ensures that they can do that without congregants asking a lot of questions!

    You’re right! TWW one year ago posted an excellent article detailing the takeover of an independent baptist church by a neocalvinist pastor who eventually linked the church to the SBC (http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/05/15/a-successful-church-takeover-using-stealth-strategies-in-the-calvinista-playbook/.)

    What the author of that post couldn’t tell you (because it hadn’t happened yet) was that after that pastor completely took over the church, got HIS men in place, changed the church constitution and made sure women were never allowed to speak (not even to read the Scripture publicly).. after ALL THAT he resigned in Aug 2017 and left to plant a church in Florida with NAMB Dec 2017.

    This very same pastor told the search committee when he first came, “I plan to pastor here till I retire.”

    Why would a guy who had everything his way suddenly leave? My spouse wasn’t surprised at all. “He changed a lot of things at that church but he couldn’t change everything. He got bored and went to start something he could completely control.”

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  57. Fisher:

    What the author of that post couldn’t tell you (because it hadn’t happened yet) was that after that pastor completely took over the church, got HIS men in place, changed the church constitution and made sure women were never allowed to speak (not even to read the Scripture publicly).. after ALL THAT he resigned in Aug 2017 and left

    Why would a guy who had everything his way suddenly leave?My spouse wasn’t surprised at all.“He changed a lot of things at that church but he couldn’t change everything.He got bored and went to start something he could completely control.”

    Mark Dever, of 9-Marx infamy, also calls his design to take over and destroy churches a “five year plan.” Perhaps that pastor didn’t want to wait that long and finally grew impatient. Much of what they do is a waiting game…and if they can hang around longer than the holdouts, then they can get their way. Our former YRR pastor did that, but tried far too soon to make all the necessary changes before people were on board. It became his undoing, and godly people in our congregation called him out on it. He then abruptly took his ball left! To that I say, “good riddance!” Pastors that wish to be served rather than serve have absolutely no place in the church.

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  58. 9Marks Dever is building a Baptist monastery/frathouse next to his church for all the young men flocking to him for training on this:

    https://capitolhillcorner.org/2017/06/10/capitol-hill-baptist-church-to-build-five-townhouses-on-church-parking-lot-at-501-a-street-ne/

    Capitol Hill Baptist Church To Build Townhouse Complex on Church Parking Lot at 501 A Street, NE

    “The church plans to use the units as temporary residences for pastor-trainees and a host pastor who will oversee the operation of the units.”

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  59. Jerome,

    Sounds like an indoctrination camp, to me. That way, Dever can make sure that the trainees will take over and destroy churches correctly—and “biblically”! 🙁

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  60. Lea: Weird, they already had five townhouses or so 20 years ago. How could they possibly need more than that?

    The young reformers flock to the shrines of their idols – they need lots of room to gather on their pilgrimage to the holy site. Dever has reached god status in their ranks. They must hear the master speak, perhaps even touch him or snap a selfie with the great one. They will be indoctrinated by the best of the best to return home and oppress their church members, Biblically of course.

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  61. B Badger: One characteristic of authoritarian groups is explaining the departure of members/attenders with “God’s getting rid of the deadwood.” I actually heard that statement when I was attending an abusively controlling church (charismatic and part of the Restoration Movement).

    This is covered in The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. Reverse membership, church discipline.

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  62. Lea:
    Jerome,

    Weird, they already had five townhouses or so 20 years ago. How could they possibly need more than that?

    Also I’m sure the church needs that parking.

    Lea,

    Perhaps they don’t need the parking, since Dever excommunicated all the unregenerate riff raff who wouldn’t sign their church covenant! 🙂

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  63. Max: They must hear the master speak, perhaps even touch him or snap a selfie with the great one. They will be indoctrinated by the best of the best to return home and oppress their church members, Biblically of course.

    Max, don’t forget that their oppression needs to be “gospel-centered” as well!

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  64. ___

    “Given Ample Warning, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    ishy, This is an outstanding comment.

    The internet is replete with reference on both toxic churches and toxic members within these churches.

    What to look for?

    Just punch this into your browser:

    How to identify a toxic church?

    :~)

    – –
    Notes:
    Nine Marks of an Abusive Church | The Wartburg Watch 2018
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/07/11/nine-marks-of-an-abusive-church-2/

    Ten Toxic-Faith Characteristics | The Wartburg Watch 2018
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2010/08/03/ten-characteristics-of-a-toxic-faith-system/

    -=-

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  65. Root 66: their oppression needs to be “gospel-centered” as well!

    Certainly! They will be introduced to all sorts of gospel-centered how-to methods while they drink gospel-centered coffee and consume gospel-centered pastries. It will be a jolly good gospel-centered time with their hero of the faith.

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  66. Max: Train her up in the way she should go.

    It’s also power and position for them. They are higher up in the institutional pecking order. Remember, Mrs Criswell taught a mixed “small church” at FBC Dallas. Her SS class was over 300 people and on the radio. There are ways around the rules —depending on who you are.

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  67. Max: Certainly!They will be introduced to all sorts of gospel-centered how-to methods while they drink gospel-centered coffee and consume gospel-centered pastries.It will be a jolly good gospel-centered time with their hero of the faith.

    Frankly, I could go for a pastry right about now…whether it’s “gospel-centered” or not. I really prefer “cream-centered”, though! 🙂

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  68. Lydia: Mrs Criswell taught a mixed “small church” at FBC Dallas. Her SS class was over 300 people and on the radio.

    In other words, Mrs. Criswell was pastor of a church larger than the average SBC congregation! Preacher vs. teacher is a blurred line in SBC life. Some of the best pastor/teachers I met during my 60+ year SBC tour of duty were women (but tell anybody!). They didn’t seek a title, they just used their gift.

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  69. Will new leadership in the SBC be able to reverse the trend of declining church membership and baptisms?

    Will new faces in the Politboro be able to reverse the crumbling of the USSR?

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  70. Lea: Jerome,
    Weird, they already had five townhouses or so 20 years ago. How could they possibly need more than that?

    “BUT HE’S GOT SIX!!!!!”

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  71. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: This is the failure of the pro-life movement. It had 45 years to demonstrate its commitment to life, but it demonstrated instead that it couldn’t gut it up to provide financially for women after birth. It demonstrated it wants to get rid of birth control. It demonstrated it was not in favor of teaching teenagers all about preventing pregnancy, not just abstinence.

    It immediately fell into infighting among all of its One True Ways.

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  72. Max: The young reformers flock to the shrines of their idols – they need lots of room to gather on their pilgrimage to the holy site. Dever has reached god status in their ranks. They must hear the master speak, perhaps even touch him or snap a selfie with the great one. They will be indoctrinated by the best of the best to return home and oppress their church members, Biblically of course.

    And after a couple generations of such Biblical Overseeing, the name Jesus Christ will acquire the same baggage as the name Adolf Hitler.

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  73. Root 66,

    I could never understand why donuts (doughnuts) needed a hole! It would be far better if they were filled with something like jelly or, as a last resort, cream-filled. Which brings me to the topic: New Calvinism is sort of like a donut – it is missing something.

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  74. Headless Unicorn Guy: “BUT HE’S GOT SIX!!!!!”

    Ha.

    In all seriousness, it’s probably something to do with the tax laws for ‘parishes’, which maybe should be limited. Also, DC real estate is crazy high. The church if they ever sell would make a mint.

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  75. Max: Which brings me to the topic: New Calvinism is sort of like a donut – it is missing something.

    Funny you should mention that. One of the things that tipped us off that there was something wrong with the direction in which our church was going–our YRR pastor was making things ‘disappear.’ We stopped doing things because he viewed them as “unnecessary” and “unbiblical”. I don’t think we had a single fellowship during his pastorate. He never preached from the Gospels. He also didn’t want us to have VBS. He eliminated the different Sunday School materials and forced LifeWay’s reformed “The Gospel Project” on us. He wanted to control which hymns we sung. He also attempted (unsuccessfully so) to eliminate the invitation at the end of the service. He was constantly trying to take away things that made our church unique and special.

    It’s difficult to explain to people that it’s not so much what these guys do and say that is damaging, as much as the damage caused by what they DON’T do and say.

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  76. Root 66,

    Max,

    To dovetail onto what I’ve already said: The biggest thing that was missing at church was a clear and simple proclamation of the Gospel (the REAL one!) Once he left, we had a pastor come and do pulpit supply and he shared a clear, honest, simple Gospel message–with an invitation. I literally wept. I didn’t realize we had not heard it in so long!

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  77. Ct: so I cannot for the life of me reconcile in my mind a. Why he brought Heath Lambert to FBCJAX in the first place and B. why he left the church to him and took off when the going got tough.

    I’m only guessing, but I think Brunson was trying to boost dwindling attendance.
    “We’ve been in decline for 20 years,” Heath Lambert said (last month). “You can’t keep declining: You have to stop it and then start growing.” Somehow by last September, Brunson had lost a power struggle and Lambert was announced as Co-Senior-Pastor. Mac was given time to find a job at a smaller church before resigning.
    I think this whole episode represents a much larger trend, as you mentioned. Unfortunately it has received little attention, what with the higher-profile sacking of Patterson and all the sex scandals.

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  78. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: 1) Half of all fertilized eggs do not implant. It kind of blows a big huge hole in the doctrine that life starts at conception when half of fertilized ova are simply sloughed off.

    This is a very crucial parameter in the discussion you describe and will be even more critical as embryonic genetic engineering becomes accepted. Do you have a reference for the “half” figure?

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  79. Root 66: One of the things that tipped us off that there was something wrong with the direction in which our church was going–our YRR pastor was making things ‘disappear.’ We stopped doing things because he viewed them as “unnecessary” and “unbiblical”.

    This is always the weirdest part of reports for me.

    Although, I remember saying about previous churches that you knew they were in trouble when they started eliminating things (although I think I was thinking of stuff like the ‘harvest party’ not sunday school).

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  80. Dee,

    I hope you will not delete this. I promise it will be my last post on the matter. You closed the other thread, and in so doing you severely misrepresented me. I hope it was not intentional. I hope you take the ninth commandment seriously enough and are really as concerned about the truth as you claim to be and have seemed to be over the years.

    You summarized my position as:

    Slavery in the Bible was not a problem whatsoever.

    That is not true. I never said that. I specifically said it wasn’t the ideal. I said that in the situation the Bible was written it was sometimes the only solution to certain social problems and that I would certainly not call for its reinstitution.

    Racism is not mentioned in the Bible so it is probably not a problem

    I also never said that and I most certainly do not believe that.

    Women should fear their husbands like they fear God.

    Not in exactly the same way. I only pointed out the same word was used when Victorious was asking about my position.

    Women should stay at home, tending the hearth.

    I never said that, nor do I actually believe that should be the case for every family. My position would be that the focus of a woman’s care should be the home (that’s what Paul says), but that women if they want to work certainly can. My wife happens not to work outside the home, but I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have told her that if she really wanted to work outside the home, I wouldn’t have an issue. She wants to be a homemaker and has always wanted to be a homemaker.

    Men should be *in authority* and women should not.

    My position would be that men should be leaders in the home and in the church and women should not. I realize you don’t agree. But I don’t hate you for it. Nor do I think that people who hold to it are stupid. I used to hold the egalitarian position.

    Anyone who doesn’t agree with this obviously *gospel* erudition needs more education.

    I’m not sure what this is. I was just presenting my view. Others were presenting theirs. Obviously they believe I am wrong and I believe I am right. Fine. That’s what happens in a disagreement. I think everyone of us—myself included—needs more education in the Bible. We never should stop learning.

    Got it. Disagree.

    I know

    Robert: If Jesus is God and if God inspired all of Scripture, the words of the Apostles are the words ultimately of Jesus
    The problem with this statement is the problem illustrated by your entire commentary on this blog. If the words of the Bible were so clear, we wouldn’t have disagreement.

    I didn’t say the Bible was clear on everything, nor do I believe that. I hold to the traditional Protestant view of perspicuity that the essentials of salvation are clear. I don’t believe any of the issues we’ve talked about are salvation essential issues. And I think a lot of the stuff complementarians such as Piper have said is foolish, wrong, and dangerous.

    I have no problem with saying Romans and the Gospels are equal in value and authority.

    Good. We can disagree on interpretation of specific passages, but no Christian with a high view of the Bible should have a problem with what you just said.

    I do have a problem when some people, you as one example, totally understand every intent of every verse in the Bible and then expect everyone to see it precisely your way because you somehow possess superior and godly wisdom and everyone else on the planet who disagree with it are stupid.

    I don’t “totally understand” every intent of every verse in the Bible, and I never said I did. I don’t think anyone who has commented is stupid and never have said as much. I have firm beliefs on certain issues. So do you. I don’t read your comments and firm position against the “Calvinistas” as that you believe they are stupid. Why are you reading mine in such a way. I haven’t said anything with a stronger tone than you ever have.

    Perhaps the worst thing I did was to refer to someone as a “snob” for believing that we are more enlightened and civilized than ancient peoples. Frankly, I think one of the biggest problems with moderns—including myself on many occasions—is that we look down on people who came before us as being less enlightened. But I have never called anyone stupid here that I can recall.

    Such thinking is naive and indicative of the root problem. You know what ALL of it means and you attend a church which agrees with you.

    I don’t know what ALL of it means and never claimed to. I also don’t agree with everything my church has taught, though I agree on the most basic issues. Are you going to tell me that you go to a church that disagrees with what you believe? Didn’t you leave an SBC church because it didn’t agree with you?

    Your simplistic explanations regarding slavery, the role of men and women in the home, racism, authority, etc. outline clearly why there is a need for people of good will and love for the Scriptures to have places for respectful discussion.

    I don’t believe I gave a simplistic explanation regarding slavery. It was very nuanced. A simplistic explanation would be “Slavery is good and should never be abolished” or “Slavery is always and everywhere bad and to own slaves in every setting is wholly incompatible with the Christian faith.”

    Do you think I was being disrespectful because I said believing the epistles had less authority than the gospels was not a Christian position? But is that has been a universal belief at least among Protestants.

    You don’t discuss. You pontificate.

    I was actually having quite a good discussion with Victorious and was starting to have a discussion with you. Victorious even commended my respectfulness.

    Do you not understand that many people, people who love the Lord and the Scriptures, disagree on a number of issues?

    Yes. Did I EVER accuse anyone of not loving the Lord? The worst I can think of is saying that some positions weren’t Christian positions. But I believe everyone—including myself—who loves the Lord has certain beliefs that aren’t Christian but find their origins elsewhere. Our goal should be to study so that our beliefs become consistently Christian.

    That may be difficult for you and may even be threatening to your personal faith because you may need to have everything tied up with a neat little bow. That’s OK.

    Your disagreement with me concerning these matters is not threatening to my personal faith nor is it difficult for me. Neither do I believe I need to have everything tied up in a neat little bow. I never will, even in eternity.

    God did say we are to not cause a weaker brother to stumble. That is why this conversation is going to stop.

    Am I the weaker brother?

    I wish you peace in your journey.

    And you as well.

    One final note—I think you are doing valuable work in exposing abuse in the church. I read many of your posts, and I overlook your harsh and what I see as sometimes ill-informed comments against “Calvinistas” regarding their beliefs that have nothing to do with covering up abuse. But like it or not, if you want to see things change, you need people who run in my theological circles to listen to you. And they are not going to listen to you if you misrepresent what they have said as you have done to me. I don’t know that it was intentionally dishonest; some of these issues generate a lot of heat when people are talking. But you have significantly misrepresented me, even bordering on slander. I appeal to you as a fellow Christian not to do such things.

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  81. Deb,

    “gatherings within 15 minutes of anyone living in the Triangle” sort of fits the “where else will they go?” approach, perhaps crossed with the “ic you build it, they will come” philosophy.

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  82. Lea,

    Lea,

    He was always wanting to eliminate any attempt of the church to reach out into the community. However, if one holds truly to the tenets of TULIP–outreach is unnecessary, since everyone is already predestined anyway. His premise was that of Piper’s: if we would get our worship right, we wouldn’t need outreach. Unfortunately, I don’t see a biblical precedent for that theory.

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  83. Root 66: However, if one holds truly to the tenets of TULIP–outreach is unnecessary, since everyone is already predestined anyway.

    I think churches with some elements of tulip theology maybe less focused on ‘soul winning’ but that doesn’t preclude outreach or good deeds. So, that sort of stuff is a choice.

    What I don’t understand, is why you would eliminate all these things that are for the church itself. You would think that would be a huge part of what church is. I don’t understand how these people view ministry at all, but I think the ultimate answer is that they want CONTROL and anything that predates them they can’t control. It’s not really about theology.

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  84. Lea,

    BINGO! At the end of the day, it’s all about control–not Christ. Anything that wasn’t controlled or approved by him was eliminated (or he attempted to eliminate it!)

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  85. Root 66: Anything that wasn’t controlled or approved by him was eliminated (or he attempted to eliminate it!)

    I hope he wasn’t successful in removing the cross on the wall in the sanctuary. None of the New Calvinist church plants in my area display a cross.

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  86. Lea: Although, I remember saying about previous churches that you knew they were in trouble when they started eliminating things (although I think I was thinking of stuff like the ‘harvest party’ not sunday school).

    If you take enough stuff away from people they will get hungry. Hungry people will eat whatever is served. It looks like a plan from my perspective. And it looks a lot like politics; not like the feasting in the kingdom that one might expect.

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  87. Max,

    No, he didn’t get quite that far. He did however, want to remove the flags. I think he wanted to do this only because Dever did it at Capitol Hill Baptist. There were too many veterans in our congregation to let that happen, though!

    He went on and on about how things like flags “distract from the gospel”. If your gospel (little ‘g’) is that weak, I really don’t think I’m very interested in it! My Gospel (big ‘G’) conquered sin and death and is coming again!

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  88. okrapod: If you take enough stuff away from people they will get hungry.Hungry people will eat whatever is served.It looks like a plan from my perspective.And it looks a lot like politics; not like the feasting in the kingdom that one might expect.

    Yes, we were fed a steady diet of Mark Dever, Tim Keller, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul during that time. I would have rather sat at the Lord’s table and feast from the riches of His Word!

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  89. Jarrett Edwards: Why, do we need to keep planting churches, they are literally everywhere in the US, the SBC has more churches in the US than there are McDonald’s. We have the churches, we just need to focus on getting people to go to them. And, so far the Conservative resurgence and the Neo-Calvinists haven’t managed to do it.
    I’m a millennial and I don’t want rock music on Sunday morning, I don’t want to worship in a darkened room, and I don’t want a preacher acting like he is a hipster. I don’t want Sunday morning to feel like an extension of Saturday night clubbing. I want Sunday morning to feel different than every other time of the week, because it is a special time. I want a preacher who is preaching the word, naturally, not trying to be a condescending version of what he thinks I want to hear. I want Hymns that do not mimic top-40 radio, and sound like soft pop love ballads, and with an emphasis on congregational singing, not a performance. I want someone who accepts that God grants us all free-will and that we are all equal before God, regardless of gender, race, education, etc… Find me that church and I’ll be there every Sunday.

    Amen, Jarrett.

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  90. Root 66: He did however, want to remove the flags.

    I suppose the young reformers are disgusted with Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations. The lure of hot dogs and fireworks may be too much for them on July 4th, however.

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  91. Root 66,

    “Funny you should mention that. One of the things that tipped us off that there was something wrong with the direction in which our church was going–our YRR pastor was making things ‘disappear.’ We stopped doing things because he viewed them as “unnecessary” and “unbiblical”.”

    This is exactly what happened at my former Church. None of it was discussed or announced -it just disappeared. people found out the hard way what life could be like for them if they started asking questions. But an awful lot of people went right along with it without asking questions and even defending the method in which they disappeared. It’s chilling with the rank-and-file will go along with because someone who is popular or has a title did or said..

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  92. Robert,

    Robert the glaring problem in all of this is that a huge movement presented comp Doctrine as the gospel. It’s a choice.

    I think people are free to organize their marriages anyway they want and it’s none of my business. I believe churches are free to organize anyway they want and it’s none of my business. I am free not to attend them. 🙂

    I do enjoy debating doctrines but that’s different than coercion or even deception. Comp doctrine was never debated in these churches. It has been presented as the true gospel for 30 years. Personally I can drive mac truck holes through that assertion and through the Cherry Picked Bible verses for it. A big fat clue is that there is not one single place in the Old Testament that prohibits women from teaching or Leading Men. And God is pretty clear about what he prohibits. 🙂 Jesus Christ did not change that.

    And I can promise you that the very last place I would look for “agency”is a pastor as the women at the SBC rally for women were begging for. My agency comes from God, me and the laws of our land.

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  93. Robert,

    ” I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have told her that if she really wanted to work outside the home, I wouldn’t have an issue.”

    Yeah?
    After my daughter got her driver’s license, I told her that she could get an after-school job as long as she kept her grades up. But, she was not a legal adult, an I was still her legal guardian.

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  94. Lydia: Her SS class was over 300 people and on the radio. There are ways around the rules —depending on who you are.

    Who you (generic you) are can definitely have tremendous pull.
    Cheryl Brodersen (Papa Chuck’s daughter) now teaches a somewhat regular Bible study over the FM airwaves (KWVE here in sunny Southern California*).

    Rank and file women however, are still excluded from Calvary Chapel’s school of ministry.

    *KWVE is a very lucrative radio empire still owned by Calvary Chapel.

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  95. Lydia: But an awful lot of people went right along with it without asking questions and even defending the method in which they disappeared.

    Makes me think of:
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    — By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn —

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  96. Max: In my area, New Calvinist churches are primarily populated with young folks in their 20s-30s, with a spattering of 40s-50s. IMO, the primary attractant are “dude” preachers and the music style. A typical SBC-YRR church plant looks like this: church in a converted building (warehouse, strip mall store, etc.), coffee lounge in the foyer (free coffee & pastries!), stack of free ESV Bibles at the “sanctuary” entrance, walls painted black in the sanctuary to draw attention to lighted stage (spot light on pastor propped on stool), cool band (whining guitars, drums), praise & worship team in tight pants. Contrary to popular belief, Generations Y & Z are not pulled from area churches because Neo-Cal is serving up orthodoxy and truth … the above gimmicks are pulling them in. Additionally, youth view everything about their parent’s faith as fuddy-duddy compared to the bells and whistles of New Calvinism, so they migrate to the new church in town.

    There is also the promise of authenticity and community. Small groups or “lifegroups” are heavily emphasized. People who have been burned by or are dissatisfied with other church experiences can be drawn to that. They buy the “we’re not like THOSE churches, we’re just imperfect people wanting to follow Jesus” schtick.

    Lifegroups unfortunately only provide an illusion of community and are really just a social club. True discipleship doesn’t happen either as the lifegroup leaders are not gifted, equipped or called to teach but are just the pastor’s yes men. They regurgitate the pastor’s teaching. Just indoctrination, no true discipleship.

    Many people catch on and leave. It seems there is lots of turnover. But if they develop ( or should I say deceive?) a big enough core they can keep the machine running.

    Someone mentioned Thom Rainer earlier. One of the things he says about church growth is people don’t volunteer or tithe unless they’re involved in a small group – just Sunday morning attendance won’t cut it. So in these church plants there is all this talk about community and small groups and the congregation thinks it’s about their benefit when the reality is it is just a way to ensure that that they are giving financially. Pastor will even have lifegroup “leaders” check up on members to make sure they are giving.

    That was my experience at least.

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  97. Lydia: Robert the glaring problem in all of this is that a huge movement presented comp Doctrine as the gospel. It’s a choice.

    He spent half of the last thread telling everybody who disagreed with him on this or any biblical interpretations that that wasn’t Christian and they didn’t believe in the bible. dee shut it down because it was just going in circles so I’m not addressing the rest. Meh.

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  98. Lydia: He should be required reading in high school.

    I tried to read something or other of Solzhenitsyn and could not-way too many words. All those Russians use way too many words. Do they still have Cliff’s Notes? Or better yet, Classic Comics? Some of us need some serious help.

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  99. Lydia: We have to draw the line somewhere unless we are just barbarians. Perhaps at government funded abortions and selling aborted baby parts?

    I agree. Why should I be forced to fund something my conscience revolts against?
    The example you’ve provided is every bit as horrific as Papa Song’s recycled fabricants in the film version of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

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  100. Jack: I don’t think declining attendance is strictly an SBC phenomena.

    Church is losing it’s relevance.

    There’s no need to apologize for calling attention to problems you see.

    “a wise man loves correction”

    The “irrelevance” that occupies my attention most of all is that the way that Evangelicals tend to conceive of the meaning of the Gospel — that it is about God’s provision of a way to avoid bad things that would otherwise happen to you after you die — has no way of appearing relevant to people who don’t believe that bad things happen after you die. Decades ago, back when the SBC was still growing and evangelistic methods such as “The Four Spiritual Laws” and the “Evangelism Explosion” questions were still reasonably effective, many people who were not of Evangelical conviction nevertheless had some shared cultural christian background with the evangelists, so that the message (of escape from post-mortem bad outcomes) could make sense to them.

    If “the good news” only makes sense in the context of “the bad news” that it is the answer to, you have a real problem if people don’t believe the bad news any more. Maybe that sounds crass, but I think this conception may be widespread. Theologically sophisticated church officers have put it to me that way, that you can’t really appreciate how good the Good News is until you appreciate how bad the bad news is.

    So, if faced with a culture that no longer believes in the bad news, does that mean that we must first be messengers of the bad news before we can hope for the Good News to receive a favorable reception? What should we call ourselves? “mal-angelicals”? “ECTangelicals”?

    In the first century, the Church faced the question of whether one had to become Jewish (circumcision, Law of Moses) in order to become a follower of Messiah Jesus.

    In our day, we have an analogous question: do you have to believe in post-mortem punishments in order to be converted to faith in Jesus?

    —-

    Personally, I don’t think you do, as I have come to suspect that the conventional present-day way of thinking about “the wrath of God” as focusing on post-mortem punishments may be mistaken. (I don’t mean to step on toes in writing this; before burying me in comments, please read Romans straight through and note every instance in which Paul speaks of “wrath”. It may change your life).

    But for those who remain committed to infernalism as the “wrath of God” back-story in light of which the Gospel is Good News, evangelism is going to be more and more difficult in the future. It is hard enough to persuade people that someone rose from the dead 2000 years ago (while Jesus’ resurrection is kind of peripheral to present day Evangelical thinking about the Gospel, it was absolutely central to the thinking of the early churches; Paul even included it in his “how to be saved” summary in Romans 10). Trying to persuade them of the reality of ECT and that they deserve this and that’s why they need the Gospel is going to be even harder.

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  101. Anon in the North: So in these church plants there is all this talk about community and small groups and the congregation thinks it’s about their benefit when the reality is it is just a way to ensure that that they are giving financially.

    And for some people, it is both for their benefit and a way of building that connection to a church that gets people giving. It can be a symbiotic relationship if done correctly, but I agree some lifegroupish things are not well run and accomplish little that isn’t social.

    I am a big fan of social opportunities in church. They cross the line when they become some sort of elaborate spying ring, though.

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  102. But if the bad news is true, it doesn’t really matter if folks believe that now or not. Or if they have to be convinced of the bad news to hear the good news. Truth isn’t found by vote, but by revelation.

    Real world example: doc tells man he needs a colonoscopy given a high rate of colon cancer in his family. Man believes that is hogwash, refuses it, and dies of cancer. Did not matter a hill of beans if believed in cancer, in genetics, or in screening being effective.

    In the same way, if hell (whether eternal conscious torment or annihilation or whatever form it would take) is real, it doesn’t really matter if the unsaved accept the idea of it or not. And you really cannot save them from the penalty of sin by offering them greater fulfillment instead.

    We went around that mulberry bush already in the garden of Eden.

    Yes, there will be some with the attitude “I won’t believe a word you say as long as it is about the hereafter and sin.” So be it. Calvinists would call them non elect, Arminians call them hardened hearts, most systems call them lost.

    We cannot lose the gist of the gospel–Jesus died to save sinners–by offering a more palatable watered down “Jesus died to make this life more fulfilling.”

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  103. Max,

    You are exactly right. We just attended one of these churches where my sweet niece sings in the band in Minneapolis called Mercy Hill. Warehouse, dark with spots lights, all exactly how you described. The pastor shared 3 cute stories about himself and several other cute stories and threw in a verse or two. No cross anywhere to be seen. The week before, I was given a tour of the new million dollar sanctuary at Providence Baptist Church, in Raleigh. It felt like dark movie theatre. Gone was the beautiful cross than hung for years. All I could imagine is that some workman stuck it in a closet. When I asked, “Where is the cross?” I was told that now they flash it up on the wall at various times during the service. On the stage stood large panels that flash lights. I felt like the attention was no longer on the cross, but on the “performers.” Maybe Providence will ask C J Mahaney back for an encore as I bet he’d love that spot light. But, the bathrooms are wonderful.

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  104. mitch: I would say the SBC will turn, but not necessarily back, it seems they are on a serious slide down. Having observed the fabulous results of individual church take overs it’s a safe bet to say the decline will not only continue, but probably exceed all previous years. Of course some how this will be cast as growth of some sort. Perhaps a winnowing and removal of chaff.

    That anything like “Rejoice! The Chocolate ration of Twenty grams has been INCREASED to Ten!”?

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  105. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: (not sure why it included the whole comment when I hit “reply” and not “quote)

    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    I was just suddenly reminded of hearing my mom in the 1960s advocating for reproductive rights in the form of birth control and safe abortions. Don’t get her wrong; she hated the idea of abortion, but she was a realist in a time when desperate women were forced to resort to coat hangers and back-alley practitioners.

    She would have cheered the Roe v. Wade decision.

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  106. Max: A typical SBC-YRR church plant looks like this: church in a converted building (warehouse, strip mall store, etc.), coffee lounge in the foyer (free coffee & pastries!), stack of free ESV Bibles at the “sanctuary” entrance, walls painted black in the sanctuary to draw attention to lighted stage (spot light on pastor propped on stool), cool band (whining guitars, drums), praise & worship team in tight pants.

    Instant Rave — just add Ecstasy!

    (hmmmm… Ecstasy for Communion, like tequila & reds in that scene from Tommy…)

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  107. okrapod: If you take enough stuff away from people they will get hungry. Hungry people will eat whatever is served. It looks like a plan from my perspective. And it looks a lot like politics; not like the feasting in the kingdom that one might expect.

    Anyone ever read up on the history of Calvin in Geneva? He gradually rewrote all of the city laws, eventually eliminating almost all forms of entertainment and strictly controlling what people could do, listen to, read, eat, how high a woman could wear her hair, what names were acceptable for their babies, etc.

    Then came the ‘discipline’ for breaking the rules, aka banishment, torture and burning at the stake.

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  108. Anon in the North: Lifegroups unfortunately only provide an illusion of community and are really just a social club. True discipleship doesn’t happen either as the lifegroup leaders are not gifted, equipped or called to teach but are just the pastor’s yes men. They regurgitate the pastor’s teaching. Just indoctrination, no true discipleship.

    Many people catch on and leave. It seems there is lots of turnover. But if they develop ( or should I say deceive?) a big enough core they can keep the machine running.

    Someone mentioned Thom Rainer earlier. One of the things he says about church growth is people don’t volunteer or tithe unless they’re involved in a small group – just Sunday morning attendance won’t cut it. So in these church plants there is all this talk about community and small groups and the congregation thinks it’s about their benefit when the reality is it is just a way to ensure that that they are giving financially. Pastor will even have lifegroup “leaders” check up on members to make sure they are giving.

    Participant beware.

    If the purpose of the institutional church, bells and whistles etc. (state-of-the-art building, pristine landscaping, classy music/choir, kids/youth programming, something for the old folks, highly paid attractive pastors & staff, etc.) is to perpetuate itself – then funding is the bottom line. How to keep it going when participant wages may not supply?

    A friend said years ago in Germany, when his ancestor was a laborer supporting his large family, the local priest came calling, demanding donations. Our friend said his great-great grandpa switched to Lutheran since he couldn’t afford the other, to support his children. (“Children over church.”)

    E-free came from abolishing pew rents. George Müller eliminated passing the plate, the cost of church.

    The spiritual gifts are free via the Holy Spirit. Music programs, buildings and staff leverage a high overhead – people in full time need a living wage, but not planes, yachts.

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  109. ___

    “The spilling of innocent blood.”

    hmmm…

    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    An Abomination: ‘Hands’ that shed innocent blood. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

    huh?

    The blood of fifty-seven million unborn babies (to date) have been spilt upon American soil.

    What?

    How will that blood be avenged by the Lord? And who will shoulder the responsible? Will the land of America possibly one day vomit out it’s inhabitants for this deed?

    🙁

    – –

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  110. jyjames,

    Maybe “people in full time” isn’t even right. Didn’t Paul seek not to be a burden, by being a tent maker? And weren’t his collections mentioned in his writings for the purpose of helping the needy?

    Of course, there’s also the verse about not binding the mouths of the kine that tread the grain… but I don’t think that extends to ever-expanding staff.

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  111. Muff Potter: I agree.Why should I be forced to fund something my conscience revolts against?
    The example you’ve provided is every bit as horrific as Papa Song’s recycled fabricants in the film version of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

    What I don’t get in the debate is that evangelicals seem to want to restrict or eliminate birth control—but doesn’t safe, effective, affordable birth control mean fewer abortions?

    And considering the “purity” teachings beloved of evangelicals, men can’t help themselves—so let’s condemn their victims to unwanted pregnancies?

    It just doesn’t make sense.

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  112. Anon in the North,

    In today’s economy: Perhaps it’s time to focus on the church as gifts (as in free, no one pays for a gift) of the Holy Spirit and bypass the accoutrement or trappings.

    Followers have transitioned from meeting on a hillside (Jesus) to cathedrals (high church) then back to a white-washed clapboard shelter with a steeple perched in the countryside to Vegas style electronic show places and Crystal Cathedrals.

    Somewhere in there people met in homes, too. No additional overhead. However, with the immoral discrepancies sanctioned by and practiced by church leadership nowadays, not sure who would want church in their home. Dangerous for the family.

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  113. refugee: What I don’t get in the debate is that evangelicals seem to want to restrict or eliminate birth control—but doesn’t safe, effective, affordable birth control mean fewer abortions?

    And considering the “purity” teachings beloved of evangelicals, men can’t help themselves—so let’s condemn their victims to unwanted pregnancies?

    It just doesn’t make sense.

    Do evangelicals really think that by eliminating access to birth control, women are going to hold the line and refuse the advances of the poor hormone-driven men who simply can’t help themselves?

    It’s all on the woman. Again. And she’s the one who ends up with the consequences. Again. The man can just walk away. Just because the curse gave Eve pain in childbirth, it must continue to be inflicted on women into eternity?

    Definitely “done”. The church has no hope to offer my daughters. Not if this is the kind of “morality” the church is going to try to impose on *everyone*—unbelievers as well.

    I grew up hearing that “boys will be boys” and men have to sow their wild oats… so where does that leave women?

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  114. refugee: Maybe “people in full time” isn’t even right. Didn’t Paul seek not to be a burden, by being a tent maker? And weren’t his collections mentioned in his writings for the purpose of helping the needy?

    You are right. Full time is probably a luxury, that who can afford nowadays. Maybe we all should be in our Bibles and take responsibility seeking God. And see what comes of it. Surely God would not organize us into a black hole money pit of authoritarianism.

    Matt. 11:28-30
    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    Private planes and yachts for the staff is neither easy nor light for the constituency.

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  115. ___

    Almighty God in His word takes credit for forming children in their mother’s wombs; Is this a lie?

    hmmm…

    Dee Holmes , Respectfully, I can assure you that the Lord Jesus knows the ‘fallen innocent’ ™ by name, and most likely has a special place for them in His big heavenly house.

    Is not their spilt blood precious to Him?

    ATB

    Sòpy

    ❤️

    – –

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  116. ___

    Grasping At Straws: “Individual responsibility, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Dee Holmes,

    hey,

    R v W may be over-thrown, as you say, and women may still consider aborting their unborn children by various means, yes, but over turned, it will no longer be on the U.S. Government’s onus, and thus no longer on the American people’s shoulders as a nation, or on their their children’s nickel.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    🙂

    – –

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  117. refugee: It just doesn’t make sense.

    I agree. I used to think a lot of things but more information has changed my mind. Promote safe sex, birth control, and good education.

    And for heavens sake if someone has a miscarriage don’t deny them needed medication because of ‘morals’. That case alone May have changed my mind permanently to the ‘do your job and if you have moral objections pick a new profession’ side.

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  118. refugee: What I don’t get in the debate is that evangelicals seem to want to restrict or eliminate birth control—but doesn’t safe, effective, affordable birth control mean fewer abortions?

    I don’t get it either. I completely support safe and effective contraception.

    refugee: And considering the “purity” teachings beloved of evangelicals, men can’t help themselves—so let’s condemn their victims to unwanted pregnancies?

    It just doesn’t make sense.

    No it does not make sense. I have long advocated that people of faith re-think a stance on human sexuality with an eye for reason, common sense, and a responsible pragmatism, rather than immovable dogma.

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  119. refugee,

    “What I don’t get in the debate is that evangelicals seem to want to restrict or eliminate birth control—but doesn’t safe, effective, affordable birth control mean fewer abortions?

    And considering the “purity” teachings beloved of evangelicals, men can’t help themselves—so let’s condemn their victims to unwanted pregnancies?

    It just doesn’t make sense.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    as i see it, what members of christian culture are trained to trust and accept on faith is not scripture and not God, but rather the party line and the party people. the upshot is that they short-circuit the process of working out the logical and actual conclusions & consequences of their beliefs.

    i’ve observed this of highly educated, very intelligent, well-intentioned people of integrity.

    if they are able to feel cognitive dissonance, it is misinterpreted as “so THIS is what living by faith must be like!” it is validating, proof of being on the right track faith-wise, rather than the alarm bell a more sober individual would be able to perceive.

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  120. elastigirl,

    I do not believe we realize how much we are brainwashed, mind-controlled, manipulated – whatever you want to call it. It comes in many forms, but if we are naive and unaware, we succumb with no knowledge of how we are being controlled by others for their own purposes.

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  121. elastigirl: “so THIS is what living by faith must be like!”

    Live by faith in Christ, not church, I guess. Engaging with a church, in reality, must be more like dealing with car salesmen than jumping off a diving board.

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  122. jyjames,

    “Maybe we all should be in our Bibles and take responsibility seeking God.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    as i see it, if i can take responsibility for my health, my finances, my home, my family, my pets, my vehicle, my actions, my citizenship…. surely i can take responsibility for my spirituality.

    i don’t need to pass it off to a professional to manage it for me.

    which often means waiting to be acknowledged as visible. once that happens, if you’re lucky, you’re put on a leash and led to a glass kennel small enough to fulfill a role the professional decides is appropriate for you.

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  123. truthseeker00,

    gawd, me too. i felt the dissonance, though — didn’t know what to do with it. at the time, i was tortured with the thought that it meant turning my back on God.

    yeah, that sure sounds like God — a diminuitive despot marching around on short legs requiring me to turn off my conscience and how dare i step out of formation.

    😐

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  124. Max: while they drink gospel-centered coffee and consume gospel-centered pastries

    I thought it was gospel-“saturated” coffee. But I could be winsomely confused. In any case, we should be “intentional” with our coffee sipping…

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  125. Robert: But like it or not, if you want to see things change, you need people who run in my theological circles to listen to you.

    Don’t you think that sword cuts both ways?

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  126. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “we should be “intentional” with our coffee sipping…”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    well, don’t you think we should first meet with the Pastor of Coffee to make sure we’re not sinfully sipping? i mean, only he would know for sure.

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  127. elastigirl: Pastor of Coffee

    Shhhhhh! Don’t give them ideas…

    Plus, there are all those thorny issues about whether or not any flavors should be added to the most pure dark beverage – beware the half-n-half of the Pharisees…

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  128. Finegold: I felt like the attention was no longer on the cross, but on the “performers.”

    That’s because it is. Instead of prayer altars, the young reformers erect stages to provide room for their pride to strut about.

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  129. Anon in the North: Lifegroups unfortunately only provide an illusion of community and are really just a social club. True discipleship doesn’t happen either as the lifegroup leaders are not gifted, equipped or called to teach but are just the pastor’s yes men. They regurgitate the pastor’s teaching. Just indoctrination, no true discipleship.

    Exactly. Such small groups are also intended to keep an eye on the sheep. The leader reports members to the pastor who are questioning his teaching. If it persists, the pastor will talk to the member, which may eventually lead to discipline, shunning and/or excommunication from the church.

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  130. Max: That’s because it is.Instead of prayer altars, the young reformers erect stages to provide room for their pride to strut about.

    I have sung and played in many churches, including several that have gone New Cal. A couple of groups I was in were wonderful, but more likely that not, a contemporary worship leader will be chosen purely for their talent and thirst to be in front, and the fact that they are male, and not because of their character and whether they are following God. And sadly, a few of the talented worship leaders I’ve known that were also godly people were quickly trampled by those wanting the spotlight as the church got bigger.

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  131. Those holding high offices in the SBC must have a choice; the can either submit or face the skeletons of their past like Page, Patterson, and Pressler. Even the Megachurch pastors like Brunson seem vulnerable. The usurpers will be viewed as heroes because of the hateful things these men have done and the political positions they’ve taken. But, this new generation seems to be full of tyrannical chameleons, each supported by an army of dedicated soldiers.

    Read this article and you’ll see how Greear views himself.

    https://jdgreear.com/blog/our-church-the-sbc-and-the-cooperative-program/

    Also read about Raleigh White Church. This seems to be a precedent for how individual churches will be handled in the future. An aging all white church named after an individual named Raleigh White started sharing their building with an all black church with the intention of giving them their building after a few months, but got kicked out of the SBC for racism just before the annual meeting. To get back in the must repent of their racism and submit to the reinstatement process of associational and denominational leadership.

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  132. truthseeker00: Anyone ever read up on the history of Calvin in Geneva? He gradually rewrote all of the city laws, eventually eliminating almost all forms of entertainment and strictly controlling what people could do, listen to, read, eat, how high a woman could wear her hair, what names were acceptable for their babies, etc.

    Then came the ‘discipline’ for breaking the rules, aka banishment, torture and burning at the stake.

    Calvin and the magistrate in Geneva were linked at the hip. He tried to force a Christian Utopia on the city by using the strong arm of the law. Nothing was done in Geneva which did not receive his approval. The civil authorities may have done the actual imprisonment, torture and execution of those who challenged the errors of Calvin’s theology, but the reformer was behind it all.

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  133. ishy: a few of the talented worship leaders I’ve known that were also godly people were quickly trampled by those wanting the spotlight as the church got bigger

    I’ve seen this, too. Just because one has a musical talent doesn’t mean he is spiritually gifted. Spiritual worship leaders are sometimes pushed aside in favor of a performer who can draw a crowd. Worship does not really take place under such leaders. Give me 5 minutes in a song service and I can spot the members of a worship team who are glorifying Jesus vs. those who are glorifying themselves.

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  134. Sòpwith: it will no longer be on the U.S. Government’s onus, and thus no longer on the American people’s shoulders as a nation, or on their their children’s nickel.

    Do some research. It’s not on their nickel.

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  135. elastigirl: well, don’t you think we should first meet with the Pastor of Coffee to make sure we’re not sinfully sipping? i mean, only he would know for sure.

    You jest, but I swear my former pastor was that controlling. We once were having a service at the new senior care home, and the woman in charge came up to us and complained that the pastor would not let them help set up the chairs, as they were supposed to do. He had to set each one up himself, to ensure that they were ‘perfectly’ aligned and symmetrical. Took him an hour. She thought he was nuts. I think she was very perceptive.

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  136. Lydia,

    I have Lydia. They don’t get funds for abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger, the mother was raped or is a victim of insest. It has been this way for 40 years via the Hyde Amendment. Congress made it permanent recently. There has also been four or five investigations into the body parts being sold with no charges brought. I believe Sessions is thinking about further investigation. I hope they do check it out until they are convinced one way or the other, and charges should be brought if necessary.

    BTW – I am pro life and support a woman’s right to make choices regarding her body. I don’t believe I can force a woman to make the same choices I might make or not make.

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  137. ___

    “The Winds Of Social Change, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Sòpwith: “it will no longer be on the U.S. Government’s onus, and thus no longer on the American people’s shoulders as a nation, or on their their children’s nickel.”

    Bridget: “Do some research. It’s not on their nickel.”

    ***

    Q. Vetting the right to shed innocent blood?

    Q. Vetting who gets to pay for the shedding of innocent blood?

    huh?

    The 2016 democratic presidential promise to abolish the Hyde Amendment is yet another signal that abortion activists are progressively moving away from their previous mantra of “safe, legal, and rare,” to something more akin to abortion “any time, for any reason, at no cost…”

    The Hyde Amendment is currently renewed annually by Congress and could possibly be either repealed or codified in the future.

    Therefore the proverbial congressional and senatorial nickel slot machine is still in pa pa pa play…

    The American tax payer pays their salaries the last time I checked.

    Ching! Ching!

    The beat goes on?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=to0irFedGqc

    Get down on it?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qchPLaiKocI

    A subject for our prayers…n’est-ce pas?

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Iss9xKyqAeA

    ;~)

    – –

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  138. Anon in the North,

    That was almost identical to my own experience. So much emphasis was put on community/life groups and “being authentic,” etc. So much emphasis in fact that I heard on more than one occasion that you should only be hanging out with people you intend to see in eternity. AKA your only friends should really be those people in your community/life group. You were “heavily encouraged” to meet with your group at least once a week, and each group was under the authority/guidance of a group coach who worked closely with the group leader. This coach reported to the coordinator who eventually reported to the lead pastor. It was so subtle the way that they slowly isolated you from anyone not a part of the group.

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  139. A decade ago I was involved in the re-planting of a Southern Baptist church. When we began the process, no one was more excited than me about the possibilities of impacting our community for Christ.

    Just before we were going to launch the church with a new constitution and by-laws, we had a Q&A session with the two men who would be our pastors/elders. They were pushing everyone to be involved in a community group, and someone asked what would happen if a church member decided not to join a community group.

    One of these pastors responded “Well, they would be put under church discipline.”

    That was the last straw for me. My husband and I walked away and never looked back.

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  140. Deb: They were pushing everyone to be involved in a community group, and someone asked what would happen if a church member decided not to join a community group.

    One of these pastors responded “Well, they would be put under church discipline.”

    Frequent TWW readers have learned that it is wisdom, when considering a church, to ask for an audience with the pastor and elders. Ask pointed questions about their belief and practice. Don’t let them elude your inquiries. Of course, if they are of the YRR tribe, you can’t trust some of them to tell you the truth. Others will deceive you if they are more concerned about your pocket book rather than your soul.

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  141. Sòpwith: The American tax payer pays their salaries the last time I checked.

    This is what we pay them for — to make laws. If you don’t want them to consider abortion laws then you need to live in a different country. This is how the process works.

    “On January 24, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7, which, according to the press office of Speaker Paul Ryan, “makes the Hyde amendment permanent.”[10]

    If this is how you look at it then you might want to think of all the other ways Congress passes or doesn’t pass laws that cause death.

    Congress doesn’t spend much time on this subject any longer, but it looks like they may do so again. But maybe you don’t want them to spend your tax money to try to overturn R vs. W now?

    This country spends my money in ways I disagree with “Biblically.” Does that make me complicit in their wrongdoing because I pay taxes? Should I demand my taxes not pay for these things?

    In the end, no matter what a country decides on this issue, it’s the “individual” who is responsible for the decision. That is where change will come.

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  142. Deb: someone asked what would happen if a church member decided not to join a community group.

    One of these pastors responded “Well, they would be put under church discipline.”

    Sounds like Communism!

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  143. Jarrett–I’m in the Ozarks, so guess I cannot help ya. We attend a small Church of the Nazarene. Many of those have full on contemporary, but traditional ones can still be found. Believe in free will, are conservative, treat women as equals.

    Re abortion: I am an adoptive mom, and fully realize that colors my thoughts. But you see, many of us in the pro life movement HAVE adopted the kids no one else wanted. Not the cute healthy babies, either.

    I don’t feel that anyone has to be willing or able to foot the bill financially for the irresponsible actions of others in order to oppose killing infants.

    And I do believe the biggest failing of the pro life movement is in not articulating clearly to the world exactly what happens during most abortions. “Unwanted pregnancies” don’t just magically disappear. Rather, small infants are torn limb from limb, crushed, and beheaded then sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, all without any form of pain killer.

    Imagine subjecting the father or mother of that infant to the same treatment and stand back for the horrified rejection of that thought as some sort of punishment for having sex when not willing to bear or raise or financially support that infant.

    Then why on earth do we support doing it to the infants.

    For the record, I support unlimited free birth control, clear education on the hows and whys of pregnancy, no fault surrender of children, and support those Christians doing all they can to help support the moms and kids.

    Did not yell at the birth mom as evil or refuse to help even when it cost and it hurt. So please don’t tell me pro lifers don’t care.

    We just care as much for the life of the baby as for the comfort and convenience of the mom and dad. In fact, we care more about life than comfort and convenience.

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  144. Bridget: This country spends my money in ways I disagree with “Biblically.” Does that make me complicit in their wrongdoing because I pay taxes? Should I demand my taxes not pay for these things?

    Stepping aside from the abortion issue for a minute, then yes, people are complicit when governments require or permit things and when governments spend tax monies on things which the people deem to be wrong. I am thinking for one example about some of the issues which the public schools have faced and some of the opposition that has been brought against such things, including but not limited to sex, gender, social theory, racial bias, certain things omitted or added to the curriculum which may seem minor to some but which seem major to others (phonics, cursive, certain math algorithms and such) and how the local monies are spent by local governments.

    If one says nothing and does nothing then one is silently complicit. But withhold taxes? Well, certainly there are some ways in which some monies can be diverted toward other causes, or there used to be if one simply chose to itemize deductions, and I dare say that accountants know lots more than that how to get it done.

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  145. Bridget: Sounds like Communism!

    HUG frequently draws parallels to the New Calvinist movement and the Nazi/Hitler Youth movement of the 1930s-40s. There are a lot of similarities: indoctrination, blind allegiance to leaders, denounce the faith of their fathers, arrogant, militant, stealth, deception, etc.

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  146. Deb:
    A decade ago I was involved in the re-planting of a Southern Baptist church. When we began the process, no one was more excited than me about the possibilities of impacting our community for Christ.

    Just before we were going to launch the church with a new constitution and by-laws, we had a Q&A session with the two men who would be our pastors/elders. They were pushing everyone to be involved in a community group, and someone asked what would happen if a church member decided not to join a community group.

    One of these pastors responded “Well, they would be put under church discipline.”

    That was the last straw for me. My husband and I walked away and never looked back.

    Very smart move IMO.

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  147. ___

    “Abandon All Ye Who Are The Unwanted Unborn Here…?”

    hmmm…

    Bridget,

    Hello,

    Respectfully, you could of asked me what I meant by the particulars of my comment. Instead you choose to press me with a proverbial two by four. I guess you have your reasons. What concerns me most, is that the God I serve, hates the shedding of innocent blood. And two, that the American people for forty some years have had to shoulder the burden of the blood of ‘potentially’ some 57 million Americans to date, who could have served their country in many meaningful ways. I morn their loss, and their lack of opportunity, who by their contribution, could have made a profound difference. As for our hallowed congress, these wonderful individuals should not have to come to Washington as representatives of their respective states and districts, and have to continue to decide who must pay for the innocent blood this nation’s God so abhors. Our nation’s unwanted unborn children IMHO deserve better, the American people, and God’s service as well.

    *

    I have had the gracious opportunity to meet with many women over the years, who have turned the corner, and who see clearly now…
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcCp7488puc#fauxfullscreen

    I have shared their tears…

    I still hear their cries mourning for the loss of their children…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    🙁

    – –

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  148. Lita:
    Anon in the North,

    So much emphasis in fact that I heard on more than one occasion that you should only be hanging out with people you intend to see in eternity. AKA your only friends should really be those people in your community/life group.

    … It was so subtle the way that they slowly isolated you from anyone not a part of the group.

    Weakening social connections between believers and unbelievers is a good way to shut down opportunities for numerical growth through conversion of unbelievers. The neo-cals are not going to be able to turn around the trajectory of the SBC by this kind of control of the people.

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  149. Lita: in fact that I heard on more than one occasion that you should only be hanging out with people you intend to see in eternity.

    IMO the only real effective witnessing we do is when People can see god in your life. If you stay in an insular group, that will not happen.

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  150. linda: So please don’t tell me pro lifers don’t care.

    I fully believe *you* care. Many others do as well.

    However the ones who go all ‘what about abortion’ in response to any moral crisis? What they are doing isn’t helpful or caring. I hate them and grew up prolife and am quite sympathetic to that viewpoint.

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  151. mot,

    While, I know there are other’s with concern over expressions of patriotism in churches, I often wonder if the push against patriotism/Christian Nationalism among the Neo-Cals is less about their concerns about idolatry and more about their dislike of freedom and freewill. Especially, considering that they do not have a problem with the near idolatry of their “leaders.”

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  152. Jarrett Edwards:
    mot,

    While, I know there are other’s with concern over expressions of patriotism in churches, I often wonder if the push against patriotism/Christian Nationalism among the Neo-Cals is less about their concerns about idolatry and more about their dislike of freedom and freewill. Especially, considering that they do not have a problem with the near idolatry of their “leaders.”

    I do not understand how people let other people control them, almost without questioning.

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  153. Sòpwith: Respectfully, you could of asked me what I meant by the particulars of my comment. Instead you choose to press me with a proverbial two by four.

    I have no idea why you are saying this now. I thought we were having a bit of a conversation. I apparently didn’t understand your comment, then. I’ll leave it at that.

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  154. okrapod: then yes, people are complicit when governments require or permit things and when governments spend tax monies on things which the people deem to be wrong.

    How can this be? I may have voted a different way, but was not in the majority; but I am still complicit.

    Men/women in government have a way of making decisions we didn’t think they would make when they were first voted in.

    okrapod: If one says nothing and does nothing then one is silently complicit.

    Often times one says something and does something but it still goes the other way. I don’t think those people are complicit if decisions go a different way.

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  155. Bridget: Often times one says something and does something but it still goes the other way. I don’t think those people are complicit if decisions go a different way.

    Excellent point. Neither do I. I think there are two things at work. One is whether or not one can get things actually accomplished or whether what one does is like spitting in the ocean. So, no, I do not think that somebody is complicit or not depending on the outcome of their actions.

    On the other hand there is the issue of personal integrity. If, for example, we are responsible in the judgment for what we did regarding the hungry/ naked people does that mean that we are personally responsible for solving the issues regarding poverty for the nation? Obviously not. But we are responsible to do whatever little we can for whatever is sitting at our gate. For several reasons. For whomever we do even a little something, a cup of cold water, at least they are helped that much. And according to Jesus we are rewarded. Also, it sets an example, a witness to use baptist christianese, and we are required to be a candle on a candlestick. And at a personal level we are doing ‘works’ which contribute to our own sanctification or else progressive justification (mixing a few catholic ideas here) or at minimum making ourselves a better person. Progressively changes the image of Christ in us into something more like Christ. Becoming more Christlike.

    And at a feisty level in myself, it gives me a sense of freedom and even power to say to ‘the problem’ that they/it can take me down and take me out (like the TKD masters told the kids) but they cannot make me quit trying. It is the quit trying which I see as complicity, and personal defeat, and a betrayal of what we are/ can be in Christ.

    So, some people like the Deebs can blog and actually be a part of getting things done. I can’t do much. But Friday I went to the oncologist and interacted with the doc, the PA, the nursing assistant who typed stuff in the computer, and the oncology nurse who shot me full of some bone strengthening chemical which may help delay if not prevent a fracture, and eventually the scheduling clerk who sets up future appointments. So, since I was a patient, and since work spaces like that are my natural habitat and I know what it feels like to work like that, I exercised by ‘ministry’ (baptist lingo again) and said a word of actual evidence based and non-sentimental appreciation of what each had actually done-something possibly which most patients might miss and which was helpful to each person. Example: I told the scheduling clerk, who had just made a mistake, that I had told her before and was now telling her again that she had a good attitude and that this was an encouragement to me. She said that indeed she did not have a good attitude, sad to say. So I told her she was faking it well, nobody would know. By this time we were both laughing. That was so much a nothing to say, but not to have done it, IMO, would have made me complicit in ‘helping’ a difficult work situation drag somebody down.

    So, back when it mattered and when I could, I shifted a little cash toward the church (a good one) and took the deduction and psychologically shot the finger at the gov and some of its stuff while doing so. That is what I am talking about. If everybody did this, then revenue would indeed be down and studies would be done and journalists would journal and try to stir things up, and who knows what people will do to stay elected.

    Besides, it is great fun.

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  156. okrapod: On the other hand there is the issue of personal integrity. If, for example, we are responsible in the judgment for what we did regarding the hungry/ naked people does that mean that we are personally responsible for solving the issues regarding poverty for the nation? Obviously not. But we are responsible to do whatever little we can for whatever is sitting at our gate. For several reasons. For whomever we do even a little something, a cup of cold water, at least they are helped that much. And according to Jesus we are rewarded. Also, it sets an example, a witness to use baptist christianese, and we are required to be a candle on a candlestick. And at a personal level we are doing ‘works’ which contribute to our own sanctification or else progressive justification (mixing a few catholic ideas here) or at minimum making ourselves a better person. Progressively changes the image of Christ in us into something more like Christ. Becoming more Christlike.

    Yes, I totally agree with this and hope you didn’t think I advocated doing nothing.

    I grew up in a large, poor family. But we fostered new born babies until they went to their adoptive homes. I now serve as a voluntary court appointed special advocate for children in foster care. There are so many ways people can help others if they choose. It dies not need to happen within the church walls. In fact, I found very little being done from within the churches I had been part of, unfortunately. There were many reasons that this was the case. I won’t go it to it unless someone is actually interested.

    okrapod: So, back when it mattered and when I could, I shifted a little cash toward the church (a good one) and took the deduction and psychologically shot the finger at the gov and some of its stuff while doing so.

    I would add that there are many reputable organizations where one could give that would help those in need. A person can often get more information about where the money actually goes in the secular non-profits than in the Christian non-profits.

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  157. Bridget: hope you didn’t think I advocated doing nothing.

    No, I was just blowing off steam. Two of my grandchildren were abandoned as newborns in China, so I am kind of verbal about adoption instead of abortion when possible, and I get over the cliff sometimes against racism in all its variables. I mention racism because of the stats on who mostly gets aborted in this country. Not implying anything particular with that.

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  158. ___

    “The Making Of CalvinBotz ™ , Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    The New seminary scholastically brainwashed indoctrinated Calvinist by stealthy means and slay of hand, sneak into unsuspecting 501c3 churches today and teach John Calvin’s Augustinian Gnostic man-made theological systematic mumbo-jumbo doctrine that his god sovereignly saves whomsoever he wills, condemns the rest, and that the will of the parishioner, YOU —not at all cooperate in your own salvation.

    The New Calvinist making of stealthy religious Botz?

    Whew!

    Before you know it church folks, your transformed into a ‘CalvinBotz’ ™ !

    SKreeeeetch!

    CalvinBotz, March, March, March…

    hahahahahaha

    Whoever heaps odium upon John Calvin’s doctrines of predestination and election, openly honors the truth of God’s word, and the validity of Jesus’ gospel words: “Whosoever will may come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” — Jesus; Rev. 22:17b.

    *

    It’s ok ta sign up for the water Jesus gives… It has God’s mark of heavenly approval. 🙂

    *

    Take as much as you desire, there is plenty to go around!

    *

    ♪♩♪♩ hum, hum, hum .. “Whosoever will may come, whosoever will, whosoever will; send the proclamation over vale and hill;
    ’tis a loving Father calls the wand’rer home: whosoever will may come!”

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NQi-OSXznrY

    ;~)

    – –

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  159. okrapod: Stepping aside from the abortion issue for a minute, then yes, people are complicit when governments require or permit things and when governments spend tax monies on things which the people deem to be wrong.

    Such a thought has me wondering what options an American citizen actually has. I disagree with the military spending, wars, torture, and countless, countless other things American dollars support.

    In all honesty, what can an individual do? If I give up my citizenship, where can I go, and would I be able to take what little money I have to support myself? Who would welcome me, at risk of offending the mighty U.S. If anyone has good answers, I would love to hear them. I missed the first hippy movement, but am awaiting the next. Maybe we oldsters would be smart enough to not be sidelined by drugs and sex.

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  160. mot: I do not understand how people let other people control them, almost without questioning.

    In many cases, it is a subtle process where folks in the pew are not aware of the extent of a church leader’s influence being imposed upon them. Church members are far too trusting of the pulpit – you simply can’t take that position any longer … the enemy has come in like a flood! Pulpit narcissists control by deception, manipulation, and intimidation. Pew sitters are often caught unaware of the snare simply because they trust church leaders to do the right thing … we have to get over that! When you are considerin a new church, pray for discernment, keep you eyes and ears open, and always find out where the back door is.

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  161. okrapod: Stepping aside from the abortion issue for a minute, then yes, people are complicit when governments require or permit things and when governments spend tax monies on things which the people deem to be wrong.

    See, I disagree with some of that. First of all there is a difference between the government requiring something, the government permitting something, and what the government spends money on.

    When it comes to the government permitting something, I do not believe that individuals are complicit in the activity permitted. By just permitting something the government is neutral on the subject and it is therefore up to the individual to take on the moral responsibility for the action. Abortion, is a perfect example. While the government allows it, and I am against it, the only people complicit in abortion to me, are those who have abortions, those who work at abortion clinics, and those who support and advocate for the procedure, not every citizen.

    When it comes to the government requiring something and what the government spends money on, it is on the individuals responsibility to fight against immoral requirements. But, I do not see many things that the government requires as being immoral, since the end of government required segregation. Even if the government requires you to pay for contraception, which you might disagree with, I do not see you as morally complicit, it is the individuals who use the substance that is morally responsible. When it comes to what the government spends money on, it is up to individuals to vote for Representatives that will spend money on things that you support, and to lobby for the government for what you want them to spend money on, but I do not believe that every person is complicit in what that money is spent on. Remember, in the Bible we are told to “Give unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s” which means early Christians were expected to pay their taxes to Rome, even though Rome would use those taxes to persecute them. Therefore, by your logic, the early martyrs would have been complicit in their own deaths. More recently, the world and the church did not condemn ALL Germans as complicit in the Holocaust, only the Nazis.

    I do not believe in corporate responsibility. When we stand before God, on judgement day, he will not take us to account for the actions of our Government, our churches, or even our families, we will be judged on our individual actions.

    I see the government as morally neutral, what our government does is represent the culture of the country. If we don’t like what the government does it is because we have lost the culture. Christians have focused too much on trying to legislate morality, because it was easier, than trying to change the culture. Christians should be buying movie studios, tv networks, record companies, news organizations, etc… instead of politicians, and producing SECULAR entertainment that still promotes and complies with their social aims in order to change the culture outside of the church. It would be easy to create movies and tv shows that are pro-life, promotes family values, are anti drugs, etc… without making them explicitly Christian and scaring off the exact people whom you want to and need to reach, to change the culture. Instead, we separate ourselves into only explicitly “Christian” ghettos, like CCM, Christian Rock, Christian Rap, Gospel, Faith-based movies, all of which can be great but they are preaching to the choir and does not change the culture outside.

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  162. What Happened: Read

    Note Greear’s source of further info to which he linked: “P.S. On a related note, I thought Jack Graham’s and Mark Driscoll’s recent discussion about the value of networks/denominations was intriguing and helpful.”

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  163. What Happened: Also read about Raleigh White Church. This seems to be a precedent for how individual churches will be handled in the future. An aging all white church named after an individual named Raleigh White started sharing their building with an all black church with the intention of giving them their building after a few months, but got kicked out of the SBC for racism just before the annual meeting. To get back in the must repent of their racism and submit to the reinstatement process of associational and denominational leadership.

    That is the strangest story I have ever seen. I do not understand why a racist church would have decided to share and intend to give their building to a black church, and then act the way that they did. However, I am also upset that the SBC is supporting the church planting of an African-American congregation as well, the SBC should only be supporting churches that are geared to ALL races, there shouldn’t be white or black congregations and churches in the SBC,especially newly formed ones, only congregations and churches, with no emphasis on the racial makeup.

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  164. You go girls! Keep speaking truth to power. We love you for it.

    As to the SBC, it sounds like some of the words from that classic song but The Who, Won’t get Fooled Again

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

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  165. Max: In many cases, it is a subtle process where folks in the pew are not aware of the extent of a church leader’s influence being imposed upon them.Church members are far too trusting of the pulpit – you simply can’t take that position any longer … the enemy has come in like a flood!Pulpit narcissists control by deception, manipulation, and intimidation.Pew sitters are often caught unaware of the snare simply because they trust church leaders to do the right thing … we have to get over that!When you are considerin a new church, pray for discernment, keep you eyes and ears open, and always find out where the back door is.

    amen.

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  166. Dave A A: I’m only guessing, but I think Brunson was trying to boost dwindling attendance.
    “We’ve been in decline for 20 years,” Heath Lambert said (last month). “You can’t keep declining: You have to stop it and then start growing.” Somehow by last September, Brunson had lost a power struggle and Lambert was announced as Co-Senior-Pastor. Mac was given time to find a job at a smaller church before resigning.
    I think this whole episode represents a much larger trend, as you mentioned. Unfortunately it has received little attention, what with the higher-profile sacking of Patterson and all the sex scandals.

    I had it wrong. Sorry. He was forced out…I didn’t know that. Till today. There are some people in this situation who i honestly believe need help to figure out their motivations behind their own behaviors. Dr. Brunson isn’t one of them, but needless to say this is just all too sick for words.

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  167. Ct:

    and you know what…everybody is declining. FBC JAX sits downtown in Jacksonville, which is rapidly becoming the murder capital of the world…it’s dangerous sometimes down there. People watch on the internet. The church has started two churches elsewhere in the city. So why is it a great surprise that the attendance is declining? I haven’t seen it do anything but go down even further since Lambert took over.

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  168. Shaking Up the Southern Baptist Convention …

    “All that is impermanent will be removed, that is, everything that is merely “made”, and only the unshakeable things will remain. Since then we have been given a kingdom that is “unshakeable”, let us serve God with thankfulness in the ways which please him, but always with reverence and holy fear. For it is perfectly true that our ‘God is a burning fire’.” (Hebrews 12:27)

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  169. okrapod: Two of my grandchildren were abandoned as newborns in China, so I am kind of verbal about adoption instead of abortion when possible, and I get over the cliff sometimes against racism in all its variables.

    Your (generic your) deeds define you, no matter how much Christian theology (past and present) wants to claim otherwise.

    The operands faith and works are connected by the operator ‘if and only if’, it’s bi-directional, one is a sufficient condition for the other to exist.

    C.S. Lewis argued for the reality of this principle too.

    May you one day awake to a goodly inheritance in Olam Ha-Ba.

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