Pete Wilson* Joins Tullian Tchividjian, Dustin Boles, and Perry Noble on the *We’re Baaack* Conga Line

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Conga_Line_(2681876523).jpgConga Line: Creative Commons

* With a guest appearance by Maurilio Amorim, Pete’s buddy

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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Tchividjian, Boles, Noble starting churches for *imperfect* people and hold themselves up as role models

Several days ago, I wrote about Dustin Boles making a return to the pastorate after a well known fail.

Then there is the growing concerns about Tullian Tchividjian reentering the ministry with his second wife Stacie (TT divorced his first wife and had a relationship with Stacie whom he later married). She has also confessed to a rather dubious personal history. He now proclaims that he was not involved in the abuse of women and that all of it was consensual.

Perry Noble started his Second Chance Church after being fired and confessing that he was an alcoholic. Then he seemingly pulled back on that announcement and said he had anxiety issues. He is now divorced.

They spout a common theme of sins, problems, mistakes and short order recovery which makes them perfect role models for the rest of us shlubs. They exhibit a curious silence on their road of repentance. Divorce also enters the picture except for Boles.

Noble, Tchividjian and Boles now proclaim that they are in a position to help other people recover from their problems or sins or mistake (they seem to use all terms) by starting churches emphasizing grace, forgiveness and recovery with a sound track of Kum Ba Yah playing sweetly in the background.

Pete Wilson is reportedly a teaching pastor and small groups pastor at Northridge Church, Plymouth, Michigan while still living in Nashville and working for the A Group

I was contacted by a person at the church. As he/she relayed this information, I was startled, to say the least. I called the church for confirmation but have not received a call back. That usually means that the answer to my awkward questions are “Yes.” However, the information on social media is so extensive that I’m going forward with the story.

I plan to do this story in two parts. This post is about another pastoral failure who has found his way back into ministry in a rather unique way. Basically, Wilson is flying in and out of Michigan, while still maintaining his face at The A Group.

For those who you who do not know about The A Group and Maurilio Amorim, I wrote a post a couple of years ago which some people might find interesting…Pete has been a long time friend of Maurilio and even brought one of his closest Cross Point associates, Jordyn Wilson, along with him when he transferred over there. I’m sure Maurilio would be devastated if Pete left The A Group given that they do a lot of outreach to church organizations..,.

I plan to write more about the new commuting practices of church pastors next week. These ain’t your old timey circuit riders, baby. Relevancy is now the name of the game.

Northridge Church  in Plymouth Michigan.

Northridge Church is lead by Brad Powell. According to one source, he makes all of the decisions about everything. There are reportedly some elders who basically serve as *yes* men although I was told there may have been some mild push back on the hiring of Pete.

It is hard to find out much about the leadership from the website. However Powell shows up front and center. Powell presents himself as a rainmaker, claiming he is waking up the world for Jesus.

Today, NorthRidge is not only revived, but thriving. Under Brad’s leadership, the ministry has flooded the surrounding communities, creating an entirely fresh culture of faith. And because the church continues to grow in impact and influence, Brad remains certain of his and NorthRidge’s mission to Wake the World Up to Jesus.

The bio on his own website for his book reads like a CEO’s vision  for some mid-level company with a jab at the people who were in the church before Brad came to save them from irrelevancy.

If you are a leader seeking a blueprint for change—or a member praying for a miracle—this living example can serve as a springboard for your church. Transitioning NorthRidge Church into a thriving congregation, recently named the Midwest’s “Fastest Growing Church” and “One of the Top 50 Most Influential Churches,” was hard work but eternally worth it. Though once irrelevant and dying, this church is now reaching thousands of people for Christ and providing the hope of renewal to churches around the world.

Given his rhetoric, it is no surprise to me that he decided to bring in Pete. Powell doesn’t care that Pete doesn’t live there. He doesn’t care that Pete left his church in the lurch. Pete knows how to *relate.* Maybe with Pete’s help, Northridge could become the fastest growing church *in the world* and that, folks, is what constitutes a real church.

The church even has a performing arts school that gives kids discounts if they sign up friends. And even adults can learn how to cardio hip hop to keep those tickers ticking and the giving units giving.

 

Here is a tweet showing what good buddies they are. Brad even had his *creative team* put together a rap to welcome Pete to the pulpit or stage or whatever hip thing they call it .

 

Here is one of many videos of Pete preaching at Northridge.

What does Northridge Church know about Pete?

Pete Wilson and Cross Point Church: Until There is Truth, Lessons Will Not Be Learned

I believed sources that said that Pete left the church without leveling with the elders. There is something I redacted that is now relevant. Months before Pete resigned, he was reportedly living separately from his wife. After putting up with Pete’s stuff, Brandi filed for divorce. I also was told (from a close source) that Maurilio’s wife also went through a divorce at the same time. I know that both of them were heartbroken. I do not believe that either of them were the cause of the divorces.

I do have a question. i would hope that Northridge church members have asked for the truth about Pete’s divorce. Were they told he was divorced?

Pete Wilson Is So Exhausted and Burned Out That He Became the President of the A Group.

Pete told his church, shortly after he returned from his sabbatical, that he was *burned out.*  This prompted all sorts of sympathy posts about pastors and burn out. I call it *baloney.”

Think about it. A pastor who is so burned out, after months of a paid vacation sabbatical that he immediately (3 weeks later) takes a position as the President of a business? A business run by his buddy who needs a nice pastor’s face on his website? Was this job just a happy blessing from God for all of Pete’s hard work? Ask him.

To make matters worse, the church called in Dino Rizzo to comfort the church who lost their *exhausted* pastor. You can read about his history in the post…

When Pete left, he brought along his closest associate, Jordyn Wilson, to work at The A  Group. Another associate, Holly Brown left as well..

Cross Point church experienced a decline in giving and giving after Pete took off

The person who called me said they heard Pete say that he lost all of his friends when this happened. What a shocker…Has anybody asked him why that might be? Did he just pick stupid and mean friends? At least he is still friends with Jordyn but she is quite a bit younger than him…

From what I can see there is no repentance, no truth telling, a divorce which wasn’t discussed much, and maybe some other activities that have not been fully disclosed.  This is what is considered a good resume for a teaching pastor at a church which is changing the *world?*

Sometimes I wonder…church which claim they are changing the world often appear to be conformed more and more to the image of the world I see around me. In my opinion Pete Wilson is no role model and Northridge members should ask lots of questions. Why is their hard earned money is paying for some dude to commute back and forth from Nashville?  Does this sound like a guy who really cares about the people in the church? Also, do the members of this church merely want a guy who can give a *good talk?*  There are cheaper ways to do that. More on that subject on Monday.

So, we have one more guy on the conga line. I cannot wait for the typical, ho hum explanations about forgiveness, grace, restoration, King David and the same, tedious yackity yack. Warning, If it is the typical stuff, commenters will be and should be embarrassed by the lack of depth in the teaching that they have received from these guys.

PS: For Willow Creek followers, guess who else is getting teaching gigs at Northridge?

Steve Carter!!!


Comments

Pete Wilson* Joins Tullian Tchividjian, Dustin Boles, and Perry Noble on the *We’re Baaack* Conga Line — 153 Comments

  1. Pete Wilson* aka NOT the politician from California. That guy is a former governor, US Senator, Mayor of San Diego, and state representative. Not the same guy. This Pete Wilson is a pastor with a PAST.

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  2. I got this email from a janet today. Look at what she says about Boles? You can fool lots of people lots of times.

    ‘Please note that the usual restrictions on personal attacks and other rude behavior still apply here.’Does this apply to your continuing effort to dog Dustin Boles as he begins a new chapter in his life? From what I’m reading I can conclude that ‘The Wartburg Watch’ refers to your relentless search for other peoples’ warts.

    This is how these guys make bank!

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  3. dee:
    I got this email from a janet today. Look at what she says about Boles? You can fool lots of people lots of times.

    ‘Please note that the usual restrictions on personal attacks and other rude behavior still apply here.’Does this apply to your continuing effort to dog Dustin Boles as he begins a new chapter in his life? From what I’m reading I can conclude that ‘The Wartburg Watch’ refers to your relentless search for other peoples’ warts.

    This is how these guys make bank!

    The sheer amount of cognitive dissonance required to defend Dustin Boles is mind-boggling.

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  4. dee: “… dog Dustin Boles as he begins a new chapter in his life … From what I’m reading I can conclude that ‘The Wartburg Watch’ refers to your relentless search for other peoples’ warts.” (janet)

    Let’s see now … some of those “warts” included child abuse, adultery, grooming/stalking church members, alcoholism, plagiarism, misappropriation of church funds, lying/deception, and assorted other failures … by pastors!

    Wartburgers don’t have a problem with Dustin Boles starting a new chapter in his life … we just aren’t too keen in him starting a new chapter in ministry. He disqualified himself from that sacred privilege.

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  5. “Pete Wilson is reportedly a teaching pastor and small groups pastor at Northridge Church, Plymouth, Michigan while still living in Nashville and working for the A Group”

    “Why is their hard earned money is paying for some dude to commute back and forth from Nashville?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i would be livid that my donations were funding this commute. how ridiculous.

    if a picture paints a thousand words, that photo of the 2 of them….

    enough to fill a dissertation on how silly is this religion of ours.

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  6. Will it be considered persecution when the secular entertainment industry starts writing sitcoms themed on these reinventions? It seems like an under-exploited niche and there is loads of material.

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  7. Samuel Conner,

    “Will it be considered persecution when the secular entertainment industry starts writing sitcoms themed on these reinventions? It seems like an under-exploited niche and there is loads of material.”
    +++++++++++++

    omg yes!

    i’ve mentioned this from time to time — i think i’m sort of willing it to happen…
    christian culture is a christopher guest film waiting to happen.

    a mockumentary, in the tradition of Spinal Tap.

    it would absolutely write itself.

    can’t you just see it! Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Catherine Ohara, Bob Balaban, john michael higgins, jane lynch, jennifer coolidge…rob reiner makes a cameo appearance…

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  8. Samuel Conner: Will it be considered persecution when the secular entertainment industry starts writing sitcoms themed on these reinventions? It seems like an under-exploited niche and there is loads of material.

    “Pastors with a Past” on Netflix
    “The Whole Evangelical Circus” on Amazon
    “Hipsters of the Church” on Hulu
    “The Redemption Express” on Disney

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  9. Serious question: Is it common within the megachurch system that a disgraced pastor or deacon go into some marketing firm geared towards megachurch development and planting? Or they try to start their own firm, such as Josh Harris or one of the guys from Harvest Bible Chapel?

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  10. Brian,

    This is an interesting question. It reminds one of the “revolving door” between the national legislature and the lobbying industry, and other examples can be found (MIC, for example).

    I think one could credibly argue that this is a manifestation of the philosophy that “unfettered markets” are the solution to all problems — the mega- movement is a kind of “market” for “buns on benches”. Unfortunately, IMO is has a Gresham’s dynamic effect that bad religion drives out good.

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  11. dee,

    Several years ago at a high school grad party for my son, they played a sound track which had song popular during my later high school years….. I thought I was in a time warp…..until I looked in the mirror

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  12. ishy,

    Samuel Conner’s question on a possible TV program being germinated out of the megachurch pastors life styles and what you are reporting here has sort of come to the same point. The current program called “Greenleaf”. It’s about a pastor of a megachurch and his family, their unscrupulous daily lives.

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  13. Brian: “Greenleaf”

    Wow, and in its 4th season — goes to show how out of touch I am. But I suppose that it’s a testimony to the power of human enterprise — any market niche that can be exploited will be.

    Art imitates life, but unfortunately probably also influences life.

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  14. Jeffrey Chalmers: hair, the whole “image thing”

    Oh, that’s the whole idea behind “The A Group” which Pete Wilson heads. As noted on their website “Our design isn’t just stunning — it’s strategic. Every picture, video, word and piece is thoughtfully crafted …” From the haido to the tight pants, it’s all about having the right image to draw a gullible church crowd with money in their pockets. All flesh, nothing spiritual about it.

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  15. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    They’re using photographers that operate at a professional level, in terms of quality, not in the sense of their paid or not.

    Pete’s watchband matches his trousers. Looking at other photos of Pete from some of Dee’s past post, all the photographs are staged, not spontaneous. The photograph in this post doesn’t look like the photographer just bumped into them.

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  16. Brian: all the photographs are staged

    “Everything we do starts with a plan and ends with a purpose.” (The A Group)

    When these tools are used to deceive folks into attending church, I doubt that they get an “A” in Heaven.

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  17. Brian: Pete’s watchband matches his trousers.

    “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “Vanity of vanities! All that is done without God’s guidance is vanity, futile, meaningless — a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 AMP)

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  18. Samuel Conner: Will it be considered persecution when the secular entertainment industry starts writing sitcoms themed on these reinventions? It seems like an under-exploited niche and there is loads of material.

    HBO has a series on now called “The Righteous Gemstones.” It’s described as a comedy about a famous but dysfunctional family of American televangelists. John Goodman is the father. If I had endless money and time, I’d sign up for HBO to watch this, just because I love watching John Goodman.

    But still! There is room for all sorts of comedy, dramedy, murder mysteries, etc., set in the Evangelical sphere.

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  19. Brian:
    Jeffrey Chalmers,

    They’re using photographers that operate at a professional level, in terms of quality, not in the sense of their paid or not.

    Pete’s watchband matches his trousers. Looking at other photos of Pete from some of Dee’s past post, all the photographs are staged, not spontaneous. The photograph in this post doesn’t look like the photographer just bumped into them.

    We trust that they have already worn themselves out adorning the Gospel with good deeds, as the righteous men of old were wont to do, before they resort to such shallow techniques of image-burnishing.

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  20. dee: The Wartburg Watch’ refers to your relentless search for other peoples’ warts

    The overarching culture of compliance in much of Christianity is a root cause.
    There will be no change because compliance was built in from the beginning.
    These guys will always find followers and earn a lot of money.
    Information is the only weapon that works and that’s a mitigation not a cure.
    Hopefully this keeps at least some people out of the morass of toxic faith and assists others to get out.
    Ultimately I found faith too toxic. It took a long time to deprogam, Christian thought still has a strong hold on me.
    I may never be completely free.

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  21. For a slightly different wrinkle, RC Sproul Jr. has announced on his podcast that he’s working to open a seminary in Fort Wayne that emphasizes character traits in its teaching. If you don’t have the hair or physique for the pulpit, I guess that’s what you do.

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  22. Brian: Samuel Conner’s question on a possible TV program being germinated out of the megachurch pastors life styles and what you are reporting here has sort of come to the same point. The current program called “Greenleaf”. It’s about a pastor of a megachurch and his family, their unscrupulous daily lives.

    That occurred to me, too. There’s also a new one coming out on HBO that’s more of a comedy called The Righteous Gemstones: https://www.christianpost.com/news/hbo-releases-trailer-for-new-televangelist-comedy-series-the-righteous-gemstones.html

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  23. Brian: They’re using photographers that operate at a professional level, in terms of quality, not in the sense of their paid or not.

    I think that’s true with almost everything at megas nowadays. Secular musicians are hired to lead worship. Professional sound and video teams. And of course, “professional” pastors who have been chosen not for their character, but for their charisma and ability to attract large crowds.

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  24. Muff Potter,

    it’s funny… i have no qualms about mocking christianity. i see it as wholly distinct from jesus christ (and i completely recoil at the thought of mocking jesus christ).

    i’m a ‘christian’ in theory… well, a heretic to some.

    (i hiked with someone in my longstanding prayer group; we got into ‘theological’ conversation, i was honest and transparent… and now i’m wondering if this person is going to stop coming to the prayer group. it really sucks.)

    me? a heretic? perhaps that word is worthy of Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate cult…

    if God responds to a ‘heretic’s’ prayers are they still a heretic?

    ramble-a-rama, here — all to say, christianity is human-made. it’s what people have made out of the memory, concept, and teachings of Jesus Christ. (well, this is my view, at least.)

    for better and worse. such as using ‘Jesus’ to form business conglomerates, patriarchy, & totalitarian societies.

    heretic is a badge of honor, really.

    i think i’ll make a t-shirt: Heretic For Jesus.

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  25. “Pete Wilson joins the rest of the gang: Boles, Noble and Tchividjian in using their failures to pretend they are good role models so that they can, once again, collect $$$$$ from the unquestioning faithful.” (Dee)

    This is an interesting dynamic in Christianity Lite. The unquestioning faithful seek out pastors with a past … if the shepherd ain’t holy, it makes them feel better about themselves. It’s been said that you don’t have a testimony if you’ve not had a test. IMO, men of God pass the test … preacher-boys like Wilson, Boles, Noble, and Tchividjian failed the test. There’s a vast difference in men of God and preacher-boys … and a vast difference in the spiritual depth of those who follow them.

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  26. Friend: “I’d encourage everyone to take a breath, think about baseball and relax.” —R. C. Sproul, Jr., on day one of a job that lasted two days

    How PRECIOUS(TM)…

    (Wasn’t this the ManaGAWD that held keggers with underage kids to justify his own drinking? AKA “Everybody’s Doing It!”?)

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  27. When we moved I must confess we pretty much ruled out any church that advertised itself as “not full of perfect people” or “a hospital for sick souls” or “for those that don’t have their act altogether since we don’t either.”

    Do not misunderstand. I am in a confessional church that begins all services confessing our sins. I do not claim perfection.

    But I DO believe a healthy church calls us to repent of sin, and while of course we never get that perfect or become totally perfect, a healthy church does blamed well expect us to bring forth fruit meet for repentance.

    While they are calvie or so I understand, I do think maybe MacArthur, Way of the Master, and Spurgeon come closer to the truth on that one issue than the “no repentance required” sort. Free grace yes yes yes but it has gotten so distorted now free grace teachers openly teach that requiring any repentance for sin for salvation is a heresy that insults Jesus and makes His death on the cross null and void, since now there is NO sin not already paid for, and only belief Jesus is God is required.

    Wasn’t there a Bible verse about that? Something about trembling demons?

    My recollection is Luther, Wesley, Calvin, Spurgeon, Tozer, Jernigan, Uncle Bud Robinson, Adam Clark, and a whole raft of preacher/teachers of various systematic theologies held repentance for sin was part of salvation. Not the requirement to clean up your act to be saved, but the deep knowledge you were sinful, fear and dread of its penalty and its bondage, and at least a desire to turn and go the other way.

    Of course, that blows the whole self esteem movement out of the water and takes me off the throne of the universe, so guess we ditched that one, huh?

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  28. Max: This is an interesting dynamic in Christianity Lite. The unquestioning faithful seek out pastors with a past … if the shepherd ain’t holy, it makes them feel better about themselves.

    This “demand-side” dynamic may be at work, but it seems to me that there must also be a “supply-side” dynamic in that gifted servants of the church who have strong consciences and who stumble are less likely to put themselves forward in the future; they recognize that they may not be best examples to the flock. I think this means that we have a dynamic in the churches (and I’m sure that it happens in other areas of human endeavor) in which “talented but bad” men tend rise to the top.

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  29. Samuel Conner: who stumble are less likely to put themselves forward in the future; they recognize that they may not be best examples to the flock

    A good sign that they have repentant hearts. On the other hand, the cast of characters that we have been addressing on TWW have not demonstrated that … they have unashamedly launched unrepentant comebacks.

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  30. Max,

    Our society has “standards/rules/expectations” for various professions. If you remove politicians from this discussion (respecting TWW rules), in general the more responsibility of the profession, the more we expect out of them, and the less tolerance we have for them when they “fall”. For example, BIG expectations for airline pilots, especially when alcohol and drugs are involved… same with passenger boat captains. We have high expectations that school teachers keep there hands ( and other body parts) off the kids, and we typically ban them from teaching after one violation.
    So, clearly, both the Roman Catholic Church AND Protestants clearly have lower moral standards than our secular humanist culture…. preachers “fooling around with” the sheep should be on the same level as air pilots and booze, and teachers and their students….
    To the women e-mailing Dee about forgiveness…. as has been stated many times on TWW.. forgiveness has Nothing to do with qualifications to with be a “preacher”……

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  31. Jeffrey Chalmers: forgiveness has Nothing to do with qualifications to be a “preacher”……

    Just as forgiveness has nothing to do with restoring a fallen “pastor” to ministry. Forgive a pastor who has disqualified himself from ministry “if” he genuinely repents? Certainly. Restore him to the Body of Christ “if” he demonstrates a changed/renewed heart? Certainly. Restore him to the ministry? No. He forfeited that sacred office. There are no examples in the New Testament of pastors who failed morally being restored to their pulpits. Folks usually pull out David as an example of restoration … but David was in the military, not the ministry.

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  32. elastigirl: it’s funny… i have no qualms about mocking christianity. i see it as wholly distinct from jesus christ (and i completely recoil at the thought of mocking jesus christ).

    Same here.
    Jesus of Nazareth.
    I trust in his very literal body and blood.
    And in nothing more.

    elastigirl: i think i’ll make a t-shirt: Heretic For Jesus.

    Now that would really get some blowback!
    Can you imagine the looks from both atheists and fundagelicals?

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  33. elastigirl,

    Hmm…reminds me of a quote I xsne across some tine back…

    “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”
    Stephen Halverson, former Chaplain of the US Senate

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  34. Muff Potter,

    “Jesus of Nazareth.
    I trust in his very literal body and blood.
    And in nothing more.

    t-shirt: Heretic For Jesus.

    Now that would really get some blowback!
    Can you imagine the looks from both atheists and fundagelicals?”
    +++++++++++++++

    i much prefer “Jesus of Nazareth” to Jesus Christ. The former gets Jesus out of the stained glass window and right alongside me. and i love the fact that Jesus is human, just like me. our hands match. (like the scene in Disney’s animated feature, Tarzan). I don’t need the Christ part to remind me he’s also God.

    what are the practical applications for you in trusting in his literal body and blood?

    a lifetime in this religion and i still struggle with how abstract some things are. i loathe pretending they’re not. singing touchy feeling songs about it all, when it’s just so…. abstract. far from being accessible and in touch with.

    the t-shirt…. if i make it, i’ll take orders. first 10 customers get free shipping.

    for more discreet customers, i’ll make the coffee mug.

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  35. Jerome: Tool used in the Houston Chronicle exposé has been yanked off the SBC website?

    Southern Baptist ministers directory suddenly ‘gone’ from the denomination’s website, happened sometime in the last 48 hours.

    A pared-down SBC church directory remains (all names of church staff have apparently been purged from the listings).

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  36. Brian: A motivational speaker being mistaken for a professional pastor?

    In my experience, there isn’t even enough content to call them motivational speakers. I came out remembering nothing useful and not feeling very motivated. I think the music ends up being the motivational factor.

    Comedian, maybe? Storyteller? I hesitate to call them storytellers, because usually the stories really didn’t have a lot of meaning.

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  37. ishy,

    I’ll give a recent example. I went to one of the two local megas a couple months ago. Typical skinny jean pastor and contemporary music from a professional band. It is a bit charismatic, not Baptist, but much more mega in feel than charismatic.

    The service was 2 hours long, a fact which I did not realize when I visited. The sermon was an hour. His point could have been made well in 5 minutes. He told several stories, then literally repeated his point over and over again the last 30 minutes. He ended at 60 minutes on the dot (I looked back at the clock when he stopped). When I walked out, a woman behind me exclaimed, “That was such an awesome sermon!” I was like ….

    He had a charismatic way of speaking that made the sermon seem shorter than an hour, but absolutely nothing else. And people in that church didn’t seem to question that at all.

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  38. Jeannette Altes: “… the church … moved to America, where it became an enterprise …” (Richard Halverson, former Chaplain, U.S. Senate)

    Since Rev. Halverson spoke those words in the 1980s, the American Church has become an expansive Christian Industrial Complex. A new breed of preacher has hit the pulpit with $$$ in mind, rather than souls. The “gospel” has been reduced to shallow messages which appeal to mind and emotion, rather than the Spirit … it is another gospel which is not the Gospel at all.

    “enterprise”: an organization, a business, especially one that will earn money

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  39. Max: A new breed of preacher has hit the pulpit with $$$ in mind, rather than souls.

    Fortunately not everywhere. Yes, we need to combat the bad, but there are still good preachers out there if people want to go to church. (Pro tip: avoid fog machines, whether they are electric or wearing skinny jeans.)

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  40. ishy: He ended at 60 minutes on the dot

    An hour?!?! That’s impressive, and not in a good way. I’d happily to sit through a 60-minute academic lecture, but church is a different setting. There are children and adults, people with different attention spans and medical needs. Some attend against their will. It would be interesting to have people take a quiz afterward identifying the Bible passages cited and the main themes of the sermon.

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  41. Friend: there are still good preachers out there if people want to go to church

    Yes and Praise God for that!! We focus on the bad-boys at TWW; the good guys still outnumber them. I live in a rural area. There are godly preachers here who pastor small churches – they don’t have “mega” in mind, they love their congregations, know the names of their children and their dogs, cry with them and rejoice with them, marry them and bury them, they teach them about Jesus, often ministering on a small salary and working other jobs through the week to make ends meet. On Judgement Day, they will be first, while some of the mega-boys will be last.

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  42. Friend: It would be interesting to have people take a quiz afterward identifying the Bible passages cited and the main themes of the sermon.

    I’ve had folks tell me on Monday what a good sermon they heard the day before at an SBC New Calvinist church plant, with a mega-wannabe young pastor. When asked what Scripture they heard and what the sermon punch-line was, they couldn’t recall. What they really meant about the “good sermon” was the good entertainment they experienced with the cool band and the free coffee/pastries they consumed while listening to the “good sermon.” In that same church, if you did an exit interview of members on the parking lot, they wouldn’t know that they just attended a Southern Baptist church; that fact is tucked away in a remote corner of the church website.

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  43. Max: There are godly preachers here who pastor small churches – they don’t have “mega” in mind, they love their congregations, know the names of their children and their dogs, cry with them and rejoice with them, marry them and bury them, they teach them about Jesus, often ministering on a small salary and working other jobs through the week to make ends meet.

    One of the best preachers I’ve ever heard is at a tiny church here. I think a lot of Christians have this idea that big church=good preacher, but I’ve heard a lot of terrible megachurch preachers.

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  44. ishy,

    Are some of the seminaries teaching “megachurch” specific courses? Such as the financial management and financial growth of the “megas”. Also, are they teaching courses based on Napoleon Hill’s growth strategies?

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  45. ishy: I think a lot of Christians have this idea that big church = good preacher

    … or that big church = good band … or good bookstore … or good espresso … or good entertainment for the kids … etc. A sad chapter in the story about the American church and a sad testimony about the condition of some American Christians. Hopefully, this too will pass. But, I suspect that will only happen when bad times fall on the nation. Believers tend to get real when desperation settles around them … they begin to seek God rather than the teachings of mere men. In the meantime, the beat goes on.

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  46. Max,

    ” they love their congregations, know the names of their children and their dogs, cry with them and rejoice with them, marry them and bury them,”
    +++++++++++++++

    now this is someone i respect!

    (although i think the whole pastor/sheep/3 songs/sermon model needs to be scrapped. adults turn into kindergartners excited to be shown that when you have an A followed by an N then by D it spells “AND”! Although “THE” is mysterious, but that’s where faith comes in.)

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  47. Dee wrote: ‘Also, do the members of this church merely want a guy who can give a *good talk?* There are cheaper ways to do that.’
    Why not just have the guy record his speech and put it on the telescreens?
    Another guy, Darrin Patrick, made his comeback as “teaching pastor” by commuting from St Louis to Charleston. Maybe he’s moved now— but why bother if you’re just a talking head?

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  48. Brian: Are some of the seminaries teaching “megachurch” specific courses? Such as the financial management and financial growth of the “megas”. Also, are they teaching courses based on Napoleon Hill’s growth strategies?

    Well, I know the SBC seminaries have a class on “church revitalization”, which may have some content related to that, but is mainly about forcing New Calvinism and covenant hierarchy. But I actually think many of these megas are just copying what other churches do and hiring lots of pastors to make it work for awhile. But as we’ve seen here, it’s really hard to hold that together once it all goes to their heads.

    The bigger ones are probably using consultants like Thom Ranier.

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  49. Hope I’m not speaking out of turn here… the post mentions divorce a few times. In case newcomers are unaware, TWW does not automatically condemn divorce. This post cites a concern about infidelity leading to divorce (instead of repentance and reconciliation). Other TWW posts have mentioned that church opposition to divorce is often used against abused women.

    I do not believe that divorce should automatically disqualify someone from serving as a pastor. However, every candidate’s character and psychological strength should be assessed in advance. This can be done through a discernment process (a committee that includes ordinary men and women in the congregation), an interview process, a psych evaluation, calling for references, etc.

    There should never be a double standard. If Mr. Celebrity Pastor is allowed to divorce and remarry, so should members. I don’t know anyone who has married with the belief that divorce offers an easy escape, nor anyone who divorced on a whim. Churches can nurture lifelong healthy marriage while recognizing that some marriages break down beyond repair, especially in cases of abuse and infidelity.

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  50. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    would you wear it to church?

    (hmmmm…. honest question – what would be the point of wearing it to church? what is the point of wearing it all? to come out of the closet, perhaps? to stop pretending & dare to hope to be welcomed as legitimate, with both common & minority beliefs? to be able to fully engage without concerns of rejection as someone to be wary of? to find kin?

    well, it’s an exercise in putting oneself in the shoes of those of a different demographic, if nothing else)

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  51. Jerome: A pared-down SBC church directory remains (all names of church staff have apparently been purged from the listings).

    This would appear to be a move in the opposite direction of Wade Burleson’s proposal for SBC-wide public list of church officers convicted of abuser. Not only will that not be done, but it will be made harder for others to do the research themselves.

    The pot must really be bubbling for this much effort to be made to keep the lid on it.

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  52. elastigirl: would you wear it to church?

    (hmmmm…. honest question – what would be the point of wearing it to church? what is the point of wearing it all?

    I’m not the type who puts bumper stickers on my car or wears advertisement t-shirts. And I don’t wear t-shirts to church because the AC is always set to refrigerator mode in the summertime in the south and I don’t have enough of an insulation layer to keep me warm. I would most likely wear it when walking the dog or running errands, and then only to create opportunities for conversation.

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  53. elastigirl: t-shirt: “heretic for jesus”

    I’d buy it, wear it picketing.

    I couldn’t wear it to work, because I keep my personal life VERY separate from my work life. Plus, wearing t-shirts with words on them are unofficially frowned upon at the office. But wearing a Snuggie is OK because the place is kept icebox cold for the benefit of the server farms in the building next door.

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  54. elastigirl: i much prefer “Jesus of Nazareth” to Jesus Christ. The former gets Jesus out of the stained glass window and right alongside me. and i love the fact that Jesus is human, just like me. our hands match. (like the scene in Disney’s animated feature, Tarzan). I don’t need the Christ part to remind me he’s also God.

    Good point.
    We’ve all heard the standard kvetch and moan about Jesus being the only way to God?
    I think they’ve got it bass ackwards, I never had to embark on any ‘road’ to God, He came to me, Almighty God himself, literally, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

    elastigirl: what are the practical applications for you in trusting in his literal body and blood?

    Glad you asked.
    I firmly and viscerally believe that If I were to receive a blood transfusion from Jesus of Nazareth right now, my whole genome would start repairing itself on a molecular level. No more snarls in the double helix, and all those A, C, G, and T codes working like they’re supposed to, with no corrupted information effin’ up cell division.
    And best of all?
    A cancelled expiration date for my fleshly existence.

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  55. Brian,

    My husband was part of an SBC pastor cluster for a couple of years when serving at a very small church in the rural Midwest. His frequent frustration was their “big-church bias,” as he put it. Much of the coaching was geared toward how to grow numerically, not too much on serving/discipling the people already in the church.

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  56. Muff Potter,

    “I firmly and viscerally believe that If I were to receive a blood transfusion from Jesus of Nazareth right now, my whole genome would start repairing itself on a molecular level.”
    ++++++++++++

    wouldn’t that be great! i believe that, too.

    but, i don’t see that happening right now, tomorrow, or the next day.

    so, how does it help you / encourage you / strengthen you / exponentially-super-strengthen you right now, tomorrow, and the next day (beyond a placebo-type thing)? what are the practical applications of this knowledge?

    does the practice of communion factor in?

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  57. Wild Honey,

    I’ve read Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success”. I can’t remember the specifics. They talked about working the crowds as if you were a preacher at a revival meeting; Picking people for your organization based on personality traits; How you dressed; etc.

    When the megachurches are discussed here, or if I watch a video of one, I get a weird vibe that they have been incorporating some of his stuff.

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  58. An actual (but very restrained) conga line occurred at a joint synod of two Reformed denominations in 2011. Amway mogul Richard Devos brokered a reconciliation between The Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church; the groups had been estranged for more than a century and a half.

    https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2011/06/celebratory_mood_dominates_his.html

    [delegates from the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America were in a celebratory mood Thursday as they met in an historic joint session at Calvin College’s Fine Arts Center]

    [the two denominations split in 1857…The shift toward greater unity has been gathering steam thanks to a new program launched earlier this year…the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation is providing the seed money]

    [delegates formed a procession line to the Calvin College chapel for a combined worship service while singing to the beat of congas]

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  59. Brian: Serious question: Is it common within the megachurch system that a disgraced pastor or deacon go into some marketing firm geared towards megachurch development and planting? Or they try to start their own firm, such as Josh Harris or one of the guys from Harvest Bible Chapel?

    It seems to me that at least since Hybels’ WCCC and leadership network much of what is called ‘The Church’ has simply been a sort of MLM scheme. How to build your own ‘Megachurch’ by selling sermons, music and programs.

    Thus, we should not be surprised to find what we have found – the church is a den of thieves. The schmucks that wind up as successful ‘pastors’ are simply the most charismatic and narcissistic. This simply is no longer about Jesus, other than using him as the bait for their money grubbing schemes. But that’s just me.

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  60. elastigirl: i think i’ll make a t-shirt: Heretic For Jesus.

    I’ll take a t-shirt. I also have come to the conclusion that ‘Christianity’ is simply a man-made institution, which gained a corner on the market (with a little murder and mayhem) and co-opted the ekklesia.

    I recall many years ago a World Magazine article in which a liberal theology professor was admitting that he no longer considered himself a Christian. I was shocked and horrified. Cause we all know that only ‘Christians’ go to heaven. Now, I could write the same story. Which of course shocks and horrifies all of my christian family and friends. Maybe I could just wear the t-shirt to bed.

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  61. Max: “Revitalization” is a nice New Calvinist word for taking over a traditional (non-Calvinist) SBC church … similar to “replant.”

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

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  62. TS00: It seems to me that at least since Hybels’ WCCC and leadership network much of what is called ‘The Church’ has simply been a sort of MLM scheme. How to build your own ‘Megachurch’ by selling sermons, music and programs.

    Speaking of leadership networks, I wonder how much “the” Leadership Network (Bob Buford, Peter Drucker) influenced the megachurch movement and evangelical theological drift in America. Driscoll once said that the emergent church was essentially spawned by LN. Hybels also benefited from LN involvement. These things just didn’t happen without organization and funds coming from somewhere.

    https://leadnet.org/

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  63. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I think that, strictly speaking, “pyramid schemes” are unsustainable frauds that do nothing other than convey $ from later entrants to earlier entrants. That might be an apt characterization of the mega-church movements.

    MLM enterprises resemble pyramids in the sense that earlier entrants generally receive more benefits than later entrants, but they generally do provide a product or service. As I understand them, they differ from conventional enterprises that provide similar products or services in that they rely on social contacts to promote the product/service, rather than more conventional marketing approaches. The social structure of the participant marketers does have the “shape” of a pyramid, but the “scheme” is not fraudulent.

    TS00,

    My interpretation is that as “conventional” forms of Christianity “plateaued” (in US; don’t have much sense of what is going on elsewhere), well-intentioned people looked for ways to continue to “advance the Gospel”. Bill Bright and Billy Graham come to mind. BB found ways to make “the gospel” easier to say and easier to hear (“the Four Laws”) and BG perfected event-based mass evangelism. Both were “angling” for “decisions” more than “disciples”.

    (Scot McKnight’s 2012 “getting the Gospel right” talk, linked at a recent WW Sunday post, surveys the history that led to this)

    Efficient ways of inducing “decisions” may have made it easier to “scale up” congregations, though probably the “entertainment” character of the meetings is more important.

    It’s also hard to imagine the current mega-church “ecosystem” without American automobile-based culture and the transportation infrastructure that supports suburban sprawl.

    There are probably penetrating sociological studies of US mega-churchdom out there. I don’t think it can be attributed to a single factor.

    I do think that there is in recent decades a similar pattern of what looks to me like failures of leadership (in the sense of leaders serving their own interests rather than the interests of the institutions, and the constituents of those institutions, that they lead [the ‘iron law of institutions’]) across multiple fields of endeavor, business, academia, civil government, and others.

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  64. Mr. Jesperson,
    I still want to know the origin of your comment handle.

    The name “Jesperson” sounds familiar, but I can’t place it anywhere. Searches on the name bring up a serial killer of all things, and I keep getting a vibe that there’s a character in Atlas Shrugged (the Objectivist Left Behind) of that or a similar name.

    I’ve told the origin story of my handle several times on this blog. How about yours?

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  65. Samuel Conner,

    Thinking out loud: Movements, new ways of doing things, start out as spontaneous, people start with the same or similar ideas, end up with someone later getting in front of it and claiming leadership or even authorship.

    (Gap in the train of thought.)

    I was watching a video of a mega, part of the Assemblies of God. The pastor talked about joining “Life Group” so that a person would have people to pray on their behalf.

    Max spoke about Life Groups being used in the SBC. HBC also uses them.

    (Mental block)

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  66. elastigirl: so, how does it help you / encourage you / strengthen you / exponentially-super-strengthen you right now, tomorrow, and the next day (beyond a placebo-type thing)? what are the practical applications of this knowledge?

    It’s a fair question. Right now in this here and now, it doesn’t do me a whole lotta’ real-time good. But like Dorothy Gale, I click my ruby slippers together and believe it anyway.
    The dream of immortality is as old as humankind, and I believe that Jesus of Nazareth can deliver the goods. So from that standpoint, and in answer to your query, it gives me hope, hope for something real and tangible beyond the grave, hope that staves off fear and despair.

    elastigirl: does the practice of communion factor in?

    And yes, the Eucharist is also a good starting point.

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  67. Samuel Conner: … pattern of what looks to me like failures of leadership (in the sense of leaders serving their own interests …)

    There is a spiritual leadership crisis in America, IMO. The pursuit of mega-mania and movement of the month has darn near snuffed out genuine spiritual life in evangelical corners of the American church. If you want to find the real-deal, with faithful godly pastors, you most likely will find it in rural churches where the culturally-relevant craze hasn’t raised its ugly head yet.

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  68. Brian: I was watching a video of a mega, part of the Assemblies of God. The pastor talked about joining “Life Group”

    Oh yeah, the New Calvinist movement has penetrated AOG churches. There’s a mega-AOG church near me that has Driscoll there to speak a couple times per year. In New Calvinism, “LifeGroup” = indoctrination into reformed theology, not much life to it. These small groups coral members into weekly meetings where hand-picked leaders indoctrinate and monitor folks for possible dissenters.

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  69. Samuel Conner: It’s also hard to imagine the current mega-church “ecosystem” without American automobile-based culture and the transportation infrastructure that supports suburban sprawl.

    BIG FACTOR.
    Especially in Southern Calif. and Eastward into the Phoenix area of AZ.

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  70. ishy: Storyteller? I hesitate to call them storytellers, because usually the stories really didn’t have a lot of meaning.

    Many are quite boring as well. You went to seminary to tell me stories about your kids or golf game? Pass.

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  71. Brian: The pastor talked about joining “Life Group”

    IIRC, this language, “Life Groups”, was used in the ’00s to promote small group meetings in the CMA congregation I was then affiliated with. Perhaps it was the same “curriculum”, or maybe just a borrowed moniker.

    Small group ministry became a widespread “thing” decades ago; I’m not sure why but it may have been a way of trying to preserve a sense of interpersonal friendship (as well as individualized ministry) in the context of the inescapable anonymity of large-scale groups. IIRC, small groups were an important part of the “disciple-making” aspect of the ministry of R Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, an early mega-church.

    Tools can be turned to various purposes, depending on the motives of those who employ them. I have the impression (mostly from reading TWW — thankfully did not experience this myself) that in at least some (perhaps in many) of the megas, “small groups” have become an instrument of surveillance and social control of the members, especially in those groups that implement legal membership contracts. That’s an (IMO) insidious bait-and-switch, offering the carrot of interpersonal connection but using it in ways the participants might not consent to if the leaders’ agendas were fully disclosed.

    In the CMA congregation in which I experienced a local implementation of small group strategies, it became something of a by-word as the congregational leadership turned this way and that to find a small-group curriculum that would “work”; over a period of about 15 years they cycled through several different approaches. People began to grow weary (at least in my hearing) of the next small group strategy.

    My sense is that the leaders were trying to employ pre-packaged systems to accomplish what could only be accomplished by Christ-like self-giving leaders. That might be a useful interpretation of the entire present-day mega-church movement.

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  72. Samuel Conner: in at least some (perhaps in many) of the megas, “small groups” have become an instrument of surveillance and social control of the members, especially in those groups that implement legal membership contracts. That’s an (IMO) insidious bait-and-switch, offering the carrot of interpersonal connection but using it in ways the participants might not consent to if the leaders’ agendas were fully disclosed

    This is also the case with New Calvinist mega-wannabes who are “lead pastors” at SBC church plants in my area. Young reformers with “elders” in their 20s-30s who control the pew via LifeGroups. Hand-picked small group leaders are put in place to monitor the sheep and sound the alarm if someone starts questioning the church’s belief and practice. (A reminder: DO NOT sign a membership contract).

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  73. Samuel Conner: My sense is that the leaders were trying to employ pre-packaged systems to accomplish what could only be accomplished by Christ-like self-giving leaders. That might be a useful interpretation of the entire present-day mega-church movement.

    That is pretty much the sense I get at most churches I have tried in the last decade or so. I date myself by recalling when churches were individual entities, reflecting the personalities of the community and congregation as well as the pastor and denomination. Then along came Hybels to systemize, er, seekerize the church into mass entertainment centers.

    Few things have been more painful than visiting the ever shrinking rural church of my youth to find them trying to imitate the modern seeker model. The poor old ladies – most of whom I knew – were perplexed and annoyed at the modern songs and words they couldn’t read up on a screen. I just felt sad for everyone. Ah, for a little ‘Victory in Jesus’. It was once my least preferred hymn, but the sweet little old ladies loved to wail on that one!

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  74. Max,

    Brings back memories of my fairly recent experience of this sort of thing. First there was “The formal interview” before being approved to become a church member. Then, on the night, we were all photographed individually so they could remember who we were. Then in the small group meeting, the group leaders were walking about with their piece of paper telling them what to ask – it was Philippians we were studying. They wouldn’t say which book they were using and they couldn’t explain why they thought that such a framework would provide new insights into the passage, as opposed to allowing a free discussion, referring to other Bible passages that might be relevant, or even digging deeper into the passage to see what we could find. No, it was the guidelines or nothing. I asked them to dispose of my photo when I left a few weeks later.

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  75. Lowlandseer: … formal interview … photographed individually … telling them what to ask …

    Whew! We call that the “Big Brother” approach in America … where a person or organization exercises total control over people’s lives. Sad that a church does that. The Church of Jesus Christ is a free church; any attempt to control your freedom in Christ should be rejected.

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  76. Lea: Life group is just a trendy name for homegroups.

    Yes, it appears to be catching on, replacing “Home Group”, “Bible Group” and “Small Group” of years past. Unfortunately, as has been discussed in the above thread, some churches use “Life Groups” to manipulate, intimidate, and dominate the life out of the pew.

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  77. Lea: Many are quite boring as well. You went to seminary to tell me stories about your kids or golf game? Pass.

    Oh my word, why do so many pastors give sermons about golf like it’s relevant to most people? Most people do not play golf.

    Jesus did at least tell stories that would seem familiar to most people.

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  78. Speaking of the outworking within the north american churchish ecosystem of “iron law of institutions” and leadership self-interest, this item just came into view in one of my preferred daily news aggregators:

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/09/jerry-falwell-liberty-university-loans-227914

    Note to GBTC: it’s a political news site, but the subject matter of the specific article is the “world-ification” of a major conservative christian educational institution.

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  79. ishy: why do so many pastors give sermons about golf like it’s relevant to most people?

    I do not know but I would find it hard to find something I cared less about!

    Lowlandseer, we take picts of new members at my church to put them in the newsletter and on the wall. Like Welcome Bob Smith.

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  80. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Its my name. I do not comment anonymously and think there is too much of that going around.

    On this blog there are times for victims to be shrewd so they will use them. One of the bigger problems on the WWW is that laws have not caught up to reality on the ground. If you walk into a building where there is a debate going on there is no anonymity. So you do not see a lot of trolling, although now in politics you are seeing people going to events just to disrupt them. There is a lot of abuse that goes on over the WWW through trolling. I foresee a time when this will lead to actual violence which will get laws changed. Being a whistle-blower is one thing and being an absolute abusive jerk is something very different. Does any of that answer your question?

    I am not famous. Most famous people do not have the time to come and comment in a place like this. Googling me is not going to get you anywhere just the way it ought to be.

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  81. Westerner: RC Sproul Jr. has announced on his podcast that he’s working to open a seminary in Fort Wayne that emphasizes character traits in its teaching.

    How PRECIOUS(TM).
    Is he still going to be hosting those teenage keggers?

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  82. Max: If you want to find the real-deal, with faithful godly pastors, you most likely will find it in rural churches where the culturally-relevant craze hasn’t raised its ugly head yet.

    Remember:
    NOTHING GETS OLD-FASHIONED FASTER THAN OVER-RELEVANCE.
    It anchors you (in this case, your Gospel) to a fixed point on an ever-moving timeline.
    And as that fixed Present fades into the Past, you WILL be Left Behind, just not in the way you think.

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  83. Brian: Thinking out loud: Movements, new ways of doing things, start out as spontaneous, people start with the same or similar ideas, end up with someone later getting in front of it and claiming leadership or even authorship.

    And each of these movements and ideas and “ways of doing things” has its own life cycle.

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  84. Headless Unicorn Guy: It anchors you (in this case, your Gospel) to a fixed point on an ever-moving timeline.

    I’m just glad my Gospel is eternal and that Jesus is the eternal contemporary. My fixed point has moved with Him along the timeline of my long life; it’s never truly been fixed in archaic belief and practice. I’ve worshiped him in various church formats wherever He is present. I don’t have a problem with a culturally-relevant style as long as Jesus is relevant in it.

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  85. Brian,

    The reason I used Pergamos is the following: If they are using stuff from Napoleon Hill, that’s bringing new age practices into the church. NH talked about the “universal mind”, connecting with it. And, he talked about knowledge floating around in the “ether” (the air and space around us), learning how to pull knowledge from it.

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  86. Max: If you want to find the real-deal, with faithful godly pastors, you most likely will find it in rural churches where the culturally-relevant craze hasn’t raised its ugly head yet.

    I believe you Max.
    Men who are the real deal, men who are men of honor and integrity, are few and far between.
    And even they are being replaced by fops and dandies who have no idea what it means to care for others, because they’re too wrapped up in themselves.

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  87. Tullian Tchividjian was the guest on RC Sproul Jr’s podcast today. I learned from him that the days of a “relatively good person” telling other people how to be better are “over.” What’s needed now is someone who can say that he’s the worst sinner you know, and mean it.

    Also that Tchividjian rhymes with religion.

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  88. Brian:
    westerner,

    He’s trying to make an inference to the Apostle Paul. Paul came clean to everyone. TT didn’t.

    Well there you go, thanks. That’s why it had a tone of familiarity. All I really know about Paul is the stuff complementarians love to quote to shut women up.

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  89. westerner: Tullian Tchividjian was the guest on RC Sproul Jr’s podcast today. I learned from him that the days of a “relatively good person” telling other people how to be better are “over.”

    Since Tullian gave up trying to be holy, he can’t preach holiness to others. I know a lot of relatively good preachers who still tell other people how to be better in Christ. It would do Tullian good to hang out with those sort of folks rather than the cast of characters who support his unrepentant comebacks … they will always be swimming in shallow water together.

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  90. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  91. Max: It would do Tullian good to hang out with those sort of folks rather than the cast of characters who support his unrepentant comebacks … they will always be swimming in shallow water together.

    But there’s no money in that!

    I’d believe a message more if I knew the person was giving up and sacrificing to give that message rather than hoping for boons from it. That is what makes me so tired of the “Christian celebrity” culture.

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  92. ishy: I’d believe a message more if I knew the person was giving up and sacrificing to give that message rather than hoping for boons from it. That is what makes me so tired of the “Christian celebrity” culture.

    There would be no Christian celebrities without pew-sitters dishing out lots of money to celebritize them. No money = no celebrity culture … no Pete Wilson, no Tullian Tchividjian, no Dustin Boles, no Perry Noble, etc. etc.

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  93. TS00: ‘the chief of sinners’

    There was a (better) day in America when church folks were attracted to pastors who lived godly lives, preached a holy standard, and raised up humble disciples of Christ. It seems that the multitudes now prefer “the chief of sinners” in the pulpit … I suppose it has something to do with the appeal of pastors with a past who don’t challenge them to holy living; it makes them feel better about themselves.

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  94. Max: There would be no Christian celebrities without pew-sitters dishing out lots of money to celebritize them. No money = no celebrity culture … no Pete Wilson, no Tullian Tchividjian, no Dustin Boles, no Perry Noble, etc. etc.

    That tells me that they (Christian celebrities) mine most of their support (greenbacks) from folks with disposable income.

    It doesn’t follow that the down-strata living from poverty wages, check to check, are bankrolling these guys.

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  95. Muff Potter: That tells me that they (Christian celebrities) mine most of their support (greenbacks) from folks with disposable income.

    In my area, New Calvinist church plants are funded by young professionals (doctors, lawyers, university professors, etc.) … otherwise smart people who fell for the cultish religious scam. You won’t find many Baby Boomers in attendance – even though some have disposable income, they just aren’t actively recruited as members. The new reformers are out and about to change the next generation of belief and practice by primarily targeting 20s-40s.

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  96. Max: In my area, New Calvinist church plants are funded by young professionals (doctors, lawyers, university professors, etc.) … otherwise smart people who fell for the cultish religious scam.

    And have MONEY.
    Lot$ and lot$ of MONEY.

    The new reformers are out and about to change the next generation of belief and practice by primarily targeting 20s-40s.

    “Give me your children and I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

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  97. Max: I suppose it has something to do with the appeal of pastors with a past who don’t challenge them to holy living; it makes them feel better about themselves.

    Don’t forget the “Pornography for the Pious” dynamic of Really JUICY Testimonies.

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  98. Brian:
    Brian,

    The reason I used Pergamos is the following: If they are using stuff from Napoleon Hill, that’s bringing new age practices into the church. NH talked about the “universal mind”, connecting with it. And, he talked about knowledge floating around in the “ether” (the air and space around us), learning how to pull knowledge from it.

    Brian, as someone who was into D&D when the Satanic Panic hit, I can attest that “New Age” was so overused as a snarl-word that it ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. Just the latest snarl word for Christians, like “Communist!” to a Bircher or “Witchcraft!” to a Puritan Witchfinder.

    I lost count of the times I had to tell Christians that “New Age Music” (of the time) was only vaguely related to “New Age” whatever. The main link between the music and the Shirley MacLaine set was they used that mellow neoclassical/jazz fusion as meditation and make-out music.

    P.S. I live in the Weird Religion capital of the USA; like lunatic-fringe politics, weird religions are a dime a dozen out here.

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