"The organization maintains an annual funding base of $2 million dollars with ARC churches giving over $8 million a year to missions. Today, over 400 churches strong, ARC has become not only a movement, but a collection of many “tribes” – all with a focus of planting those 2000 churches and impacting the world!"
In Orange County, California the 2014 ARC Conference is in full swing. Have you heard of ARC? It stands for "Association of Related Churches". This three-day conference, which is being held at the Saddleback Church Main Worship Center, wraps up tomorrow and features an interesting line-up of speakers (link).
ARC has recently come onto our radar screen, and here is some of what we are discovering about this church planting network.
According to the ARC website, six pastors met together in 2000 and formed the Association of Related Churches. Those men were: Greg Surratt, Billy Hornsby, Rick Bezet, Chris Hodges, Dino Rizzo, and Scott Hornsby. Greg Surratt, pastor of Seacost Church in Charleston, South Carolina, felt led to plant 2,000 church but didn't have a plan.
Here's what happened next (from the ARC website):
Greg offered both guys [Rick Bezet and Chris Hodges] $25,000 to fund their plants and any monthly support needed to meet budget for their first year – a safety net that bolstered their confidence in planting. Going forward, Greg asked Rick and Chris to invest that same amount back into other church planters. Rick and Chris went on to plant their churches on the same day – February 4, 2001. Their successful launches and subsequent growth became the model for future ARC church plants.
By the following year, other church planters were “reusing” the money originally funded to Rick and Chris.
Billy Hornsby became ARC's president and served from 2001 to 2011. Under his leadership, the ARC network grew slowly at first. In 2006 nine churches were planted. In the years that followed this number was exceeded, and by 2009 around 50 churches were being planted per year. ARC began training hundreds of church planters each year. Billy Hornsby was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the latter part of 2010 and lost his battle on March 23, 2011.
Here's a video recap featuring Greg Surratt and Billy Hornsby.
The following year, Greg Surratt (whose vision was to plant 2,000 churches) became ARC president. As the website states:
The organization maintains an annual funding base of $2 million dollars with ARC churches giving over $8 million a year to missions. Today, over 400 churches strong, ARC has become not only a movement, but a collection of many “tribes” – all with a focus of planting those 2000 churches and impacting the world!
ARC is comprised of quite a few churches as this map shows. Of course, being identified on the map comes at a price — the website indicates that:
ARC will recognize our Partner Churches and Ministry/Organization Partners that have invested in ARC a minimum amount of $2400 annually ($200/month) by placing their respective church or organization on our "Find a Church" page on the ARC website. The "Find a Church" page is our most viewed webpage where people find where ARC churches are located around the world.
ARC plans to plant 24 churches soon, as this list indicates.
Benefits of Becoming a Church Planter through ARC
There are definite advantages to planting a church under the Association of Related Churches umbrella. Here they are according to the FAQ section of the ARC website:
$30,000 – $50,000 toward the launch.
Additional $20,000, if needed, during the first six months to help your new church meet its budget.
Coaching and training from successful church planters and pastors.
Mentoring from some of the fastest growing churches in America.
Access to ARC’s influence and resources.
"ARC Report" video and printed material at the end of the year.
Church listed on the ARC website map.
Regular communication and notification of all upcoming church launches.
Getting back to the ARC conference taking place in California, it's no wonder that church planters and those who aspire to be are flocking to the West Coast. Then there's the Advanced Training event coming up in early December which has a registration fee of $499.00 (you may bring your spouse) followed by the Start a Church Assessment. Of course, travel, food, and accommodations are additional expenses to be incurred by the prospective church planter.
Once a church plant gets up and running, the following financial guidelines are spelled out on the ARC website:
It takes big money to plant a church, and when it comes to funding, our goal is to make sure you have the resources you need. If you complete all steps in the ARC process we will match the money you raise by contributing $30,000 – $50,000 in the form of a zero-interest loan plus and up to an additional $20,000, if needed, during the first six months to help your new church meet its budget.
Starting on month seven, after your launch, you will begin to repay ARC at a rate of 10 percent of your church income. Since ARC churches give 10 percent (or a tithe) to missions, this amount counts as your missions dollars during the repayment period.
Once you have repaid the funds loaned to you by ARC, your missions giving will be 2 percent to ARC and 8 percent or more to your choice of recipient(s).
And last but not least, here is the ARC Team that makes all of this church planting possible. One name particularly stands out – Dino Rizzo. You may remember that Dee wrote a post last November about his scandalous relationship with a church staff member. He was whisked away by his colleagues and now serves as Executive Director at ARC headquarters.
In addition to the expedient restoration of Rizzo, there are other concerns we have about ARC and those associating with this church planting network, which we will discuss in our upcoming post.
I find this very troubling, thanks for sharing the information.
You know what would truly turn much of this around, well thought out church governance with some real teeth and separation of powers. Like creedal statements about theology and doctrine, statements about church polity. I think that might be a useful blog post on resources to help people assess the health of an organization based on finding red or green flags. Just a thought.
This sounds strangely like church franchising or MLM.
When all the data indicate that church attendance is declining across the country in all denominations, where do these guys think they’re going to find enough people to fill and fund 2000 new churche$? I smell ru$tler$.
When these new churches are planted, obviously this is done with a core of existing believers. Is the growth afterwards from new converts, or what used to be called sheep stealing from other churches, also sometimes known as re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
In other words, is this genuine evangelism, or providing a new improved, better church experience including state of the art technology and latest programmes to grow numbers (and coincidentally, revenue)?
I wonder How many recruits and monthly “contributions” are necessary to qualify for the pink Cadillac.
This is basically taking from Peter to pay Paul….
There are no new converts here. The folks are coming from the Baptists or AofG or some non-denominational chrch to fill these new pews….
It reminds me of a McDonalds or Burger King coming to town……McJesus….
If you get in on the ground floor with a new church franchise does that mean that you are forever higher up on the pecking order of the growing business? Or are those who volunteer to be the startup core being used and then thrown aside? In other words, is this some sort of self-advancement or is it some sort of financial martyrdom?
In a pice by Leonardo Blair on CP (8-12-13), Hodges is quoted : “In the spring of 2012, Dino found himself in a very depleted, tired state with an unhealthy relationship with God and his family, and it was during that time that Dino got involved in the early stages of a brief but inappropriate friendship with another woman.”
I find the term “early stages” curious. Did he have a 5-year plan, and did he carry that out only through to the “early stages”? Considering what these early stages actually turned out to be, one wonders what he had in mind for the later stages.
More fads for the gullible. I have a friend who is into this movement big time. About all he talks about now is his new church complete with lights,smoke, and action.
Oh, there’s more, lots more.
We have written extensively on this subject. In fact, it is rearranging the deck chairs and we have proof.
i have told this story a hundred times but let me repeat it. Charles Swindoll decided to *plant* a church in Frisco, Texas. I lived in the area when this happened. Well, the Dallas crowd loves a name. The first day the church opened, over 3,000 people showed up and the church grew from there.
Did a bunch of people in North Dallas suddenly see the light? Nope! They left their former church with less illustrious names in the pulpit and went to Chuck’s church. It is my understanding that one church was almost decimated.
So Chuck wasn’t doing converts. He was merely giving people the benefit of his celebrity. The next morning, at a Christian school my kids attended, lots of moms and kids were yammering about how they shook hands with Chuck. Dee just shook her head.
@ Ruth Tucker:
Read my original story. I think it was far more than that.
What else would we expect? Denominationalising gives way to franchising as our priorities shift from doctrine to money.
Money. You don’t know where it’s been, but you put it where your mouth is. And it talks.
– Michael Dana Gioia
What struck me about the video is how all they can talk about is themselves. What they want, how they want to do it, and how great it is to be involved in this. I think maybe he used the word “God” once in his whole spiel.
They do not talk about ministering to hurting people, feeding the hungry, healing the broken-hearted or anything remotely connected to Jesus’ ministry. Just “pick a YOUNG [and attractive] couple” and give them $ to establish a congregation. Because, as the Bible says, the gospel is about attracting the right kind of people to your club. Oh, wait…
We have a couple of ARC churches in this area, and one of them is really good at attracting non-churchy people and getting them to make some sort of decision. But they do struggle with keeping those people connected and getting them into real discipleship. Not sure about the other church.
My main concern with ARC is that the “pastor” is not accountable to the “sheep,” but to a group of other pastors. There is no mutual accountability… In fact, it is discouraged. And women seem to be kept in a role of “sidekick,” keeping the home in order while the real men of Gawd lead. Sound familiar?
He tried to sell you on Amway yet?
Get in on the ground floor so you can be someone’s Upline…
Chris Hodges is the Pastor of Church of the Highlands which is one of these multiple location churches based in Birmingham with campuses as far away as Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Montgomery and Auburn. Interestingly enough, Highlands is less than 15 miles from David Platt’s former church, the Church at Brook Hills.
I think this is what they all claim (ARC and otherwise). However, hard data is not available. My suspicion is that they are not attracted large numbers of unchurched people since statistics indicate the few churches do this. They just claim it.
Secondly, I think it might be interesting to try to find out the salaries of these pastors. Considering that ARC pastors have advised Steven Furtick, my guess is the salaries are not *inconsequential.*
Take a look at Dino Rizzo and his lifestyle prior to his temporary fall after possibly supporting his paramour. See the link to our post from a year ago. We took a tour of his house that was on the market. There was a local woman who dogged Rizzo and plastered info on her blog, including the lovely living situation of the paramour.
Whoo-som pastors live well these days.
Stay tuned. Starting tomorrow, we will be raising red flags. Dee is gearing up for some irate ARC pastor phone calls on the TWW line like she got the last time. Apparently these guys really do not like discussing money in front of the ATMs who masquerade as members.
I visited the Highlands several times and heard Hodges preach. Dee gets around! I understand that he lives very well.
I would have thought this would disqualify him from ministry. I know there is debate whether something as serious as this permanentaly disqualifies or whether restoration is possible after a long period of time – and how long ‘long’ should be. I don’t know the answer to this, and have never given it much thought except to say that in a sense an affaire means you can never really go back to the situation existing before it happened, notwithstanding it can be completely forgiven.
My sympathies therefore tend towards the permanent dissqualification because of this, but maybe you have to judge each case on its merits and can’t make a hard and fast rule.
Well, these guys do keep track of the numbers, but they can only track the number of people who “pray the prayer and raise their hand” at the end of a service. I worry that many of these are shallow conversions that won’t last, but only time will tell. And this church may not be typical for ARC.
I do share your concerns for the organization as a whole.
But I agree that there are many elements of ARC that are concerning.
Off topic but serious request:
Dee, Deb, you’ve exposed quite well where hyper Calvinism can lead–to the anointed, in authority (supposedly) leader abusing and fleecing the sheep.
I wonder if you would consider the topic of what hyper dispensationalism has done to the body of Christ? Of how assuming we are soon to be raptured off this “evil world” has led to an abandonment mentality?
And of how Baptists dropping postmillennialism has meant dropping any significant attempt at “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Thanks either way.
This is in many ways just the natural devolution of church run on a business model that we’ve been seeing for some time in nondenominational evangelicalism.
Class pyramid scheme/MLM. It was bound to happen at some point.
Ohhh…some things are making sense. I remember when Rick & Michelle Bezet came to my town (2001) to plant a church. Michelle and I met and talked for quite a while at a program our children were attending. It seemed odd to me that someone would want to “plant a church” in a town that was new to them and to which they had no particular reason for moving there. Just out of the blue: “God led us here to plant a church”. If there were other reasons, I’ve forgotten them, because frankly, it didn’t interest me overmuch. We have a lot of churches in our area. New Life Church hit the ground running, but I never spent too much time pondering how a new church could just burst onto the scene and grow so quickly. There are campuses all over the state. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who love NLC and are quite involved. It will be interesting to read about the church planting network that Rick is part of and that made NLC possible. I just never have been more than passingly curious.
Maybe you could make a comment about this on the Open Discussion. It sounds interesting.
“Religious ‘gatekeeper’, where is thy sting?”
It started of so simple?
“believe in me, live forever …” -Jesus
then for more than a thousand years or so, the doors were enclosed in a private enclave.
The Christian religion became a private domain.
people were run over by the bus.
then the printing press happened.
The world was not the same,
religion was not the same either,
The word spread,
A new domain was created,
“The Word” went forth to every individual and every nation,
“believe in me, live forever …” -Jesus
then once again the darkness fell,
day turned to night,
then the Internet happened,
then once again the light came,
the printing press had now gone global,
the light spread,
…once again the word went forth,
“believe in me, live forever …” -Jesus
Simple isn’t it.
“Let there be light” !!!
I looked at the ARC map. It’s interesting. I live in the Phoenix metro area, which areawise is huge, just slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island. Phoenix is also the 6th largest city in the USA.
ARC has six churches here. They’re all on the same side of the metropolis–southeastern side–and four of them are within two miles of the southeast side of Loop 202. (The other two are located in Maricopa and Queen Creek respectively). All of these areas experienced phenomenal growth in the ’00s, going from dairy farms and cotton fields to housing developments and shopping centers.
I can’t help but wonder if that’s how ARC picks where it’s going to start a new church? Does it look for new suburban or exurban development and then plant there? That way, they can pick off the churchgoers who may have driven in to their old church but who now want to go some place closer. I don’t know. I’m just thinking off the top of my head and I could be completely wrong.
He cannae be. There’s hunnerds ae churches in the Highlands, no just wan, an ah dinnae think emdy here kens o Chris Hodges.
While having a look see at Sea Coast, be sure to look into Ezzos. In Charleston, we have to deal with their parenting teachings. I hope they don’t export their parenting techniques to the church plants.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
I get all that except “emdy”. Where/what did that come from?
I heard somewhere that was one of the reasons for the Altar Call in the first place. To get an immediate head count for the Evangelist (and get them up front where they could sign the Dry Pledge).
Veteran & survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay here.
Another survivor I know credits “John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay with destroying Protestant Christianity in America.”
When the world ends tomorrow (at the latest) and It’s All Gonna Burn, don’t expect any long-range planning, daring of great things, or any concept of the future. Because then you have NO Future.
Problem is, the Future has a way of happening whether you have one or not. And when you opt out of that future, the Future will happen without you and you WILL be Left Behind.
(Plus Rapture Scare after Rapture Scare coming and going doesn’t do much for your credibility. Ask Harold Camping.)
Shouldn’t that be “DEE DO!”?
I think it means ‘anybody.’ 🙂
What’s the diff between a “multi-location church” and a denomination with multiple parishes?
Then Swindoll has gone downhill. I remember his books when he was just starting his first mega (EV Free Fullerton) and back then he seemed to have his head screwed on pretty straight.
“But such is the lure of the limelight, how sweetly
It takes hold of the mind of it’s host…”
— Ponyphonic, “Lullaby for a Princess”
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Or Hal Lindsey, for that matter. I have to wonder if the guy doesn’t, in the back of his head, have some disappointment that Jesus didn’t come back in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s….
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Hoop dee do?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
They called it the “anxious seat” early on. And Finney used it as a place for people who wanted to sign on the abolishion movement. Which is a good thing, but very different from how Billy Graham and others used it. And thecurrent version that I’ve seen doesn’t even require you to leave your seat — Just repeat a prayer and raise your hand when asked. And this is not to imply that one couldn’t be converted that way. One of my friends was converted while riding a bicycle.
I think Hodges has a degree in marketing. And Billy Hornsby (Hodges’ late father-in-law) was an early proponent of the “Moses Model” of church leadership.
Well, I just spent some time googling to see if there have been any current controversies in this area. That is how we usually come up with our stories. It is something in the news or being discussed. Or someone has written us and wants to tell a story about abuse.
We have not received any emails of folks wanting to tell their stories. I also have had some trouble finding anything current being discussed. I do have two items which involves the controversy surrounding the book The Harbinger as well as the controversy surrounding the young boy who claimed to die and go to heaven. Apparently, his mom and he are mad at the dad who is exploiting this.
Neither of these things appear to fit in with the authority deal that you are looking for. So, if you see such a story, please forward it on to us.
At the moment, we will be investigating a bunch or weirdness surrounding Gateway Church/Robert Morris which involves the apostolic movement, demon exorcism and the old Flip Wilson stuff “The Devil Made Me Do It.”
He is definitely not Reformed; neither is the ARC, so its interesting that Driscoll is hanging with those dudes who must be manly or he wouldn’t be there. So, I wonder if he is ditching Reformed theology and going into the exorcism business.
At least he has one customer…
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Me too, HUG. It took me years to recover. I don’t think there is much debate because most Christians have become pan-millenialists… They don’t get bogged down with the details, and figure it will all “pan” out. I can’t do that… I have to live in a way that is consistent with what I believe.
To tie things together, I looked up Hodges’ sermons on the “end times,” back when I was researching ARC. As he was telling 20K people that he believes that we are near the end, that we probably don’t have much time, but we need to live like we do just in case, I found myself using some “colorful metaphors.”. If he wants to rob his own kids of their future, then fine, but I won’t subscribe to his dispensational perspective.
Anybody, i think…
Dee–thanks for considering my idea. No, I don’t think you will find a whoop-te-do of controversy since so much evangelicalism is firmly on board with dispensationalist.
As to Colton’s story (friends of friends of the family here) I think they are dispy but not too sure. I don’t know about THE Wesleyan church, just that many Wesleyan leaning people are, but some denoms have moved away from it officially (like Church of the Nazarene.)
But no, wasn’t thinking in terms of someone in authority being the problem, but of the whole theological SYSTEM being the problem. Just an idea based on the number of people I know who walked away from Christianity over the whole idea.
Can anyone confirm whether he put all the money he made from Late Great Planet Earth into long-term real estate investments? I’ve heard opinion that he wrote those books purely for the money.
Just @ GSD:
Just checked the map of ARC churches and was not surprised to find one in my neighborhood of Napa, CA. Like others have reported, it just dropped out of the sky and into a huge warehouse building, fully formed with lights, smoke and a massive sound system. A horde of grinning pastors. From what I can tell, it sucked it’s congregation from other local churches. A church I formerly attended lost many members to the new entity. Of course, it had the coolest youth group, which split the allegiance of some families, because the kids wanted to go to the group with the popular kids from school, while the parents wanted to stay where they got good teaching and pastoral care. The kids win in this situation. Who doesn’t want their kids to like church? The music is loud and infectious and the teaching is via video from another location. Sounds like hell to me, but it does draw well.
I honestly don’t know what to think. There are more than a few churches in my area, which is to be expected with the large population. I was familiar with two of the pastors and feel that their heart is in the right place, and with at least one, their doctrine is sound. My previous church was a church plant and I think part of the reason was the financial pressures brought out the narcissism and other character flaws (lying and gossiping) that were already in the pastor but had been hidden up until that time. But I’m glad we got to see his true personality before we got sucked in for a longer period of time. If the financial backing truly helps advance the gospel, then I’m all for it. Kind of sad, though, how commercial things have become in the church.
“I’ve heard opinion that he wrote those books purely for the money.”
If true my respect for Hal Lindsey just went through the roof there is no more pure reason to do anything than money it defines us, it is crystal clear and tangible, it is pure greed is good it is your friend it will keep you warm at night.
/sarcasm sort of, to my shame part of me thinks like this at times.
I lost all respect for Hal Lindsey when I realised he had been divorced and remarried several times. A man who cannot be faithful in his everyday life cannot be faithful in his spiritual life, i.e. the latter must be something of a sham.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms: greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.” — Gordon Gecko
And now for something completely different:
“He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” — Jesus
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Probably people who write books do it for the money, certainly the publishers are looking at the bottom line. That does not mean that he might not believe it, however. LaHaye et al have apparently made a pot full, some of which apparently went to Liberty U, but that does not mean that he does not believe it. What they are saying is believed by lots of folks who have crossed my path.
This is not about the rapture, but something dramatic might happen. I just read about the Russian malware in some necessary computers for our infrastructure. Apparently Homeland Security has decided that it is time we know this. So I am going to tell you all what to do in case “it could happen any moment.” Go immediately to the grocery store. We all do this in the south at the first snowflake. I believe they may have even made it a law. It does not matter whether you need anything from the grocery store or not, just go. Mostly we get bread and milk, even if the need for it is not apparent. Only after this may you choose to do other things. Of course, if it really is the rapture, these instructions do not apply.
“it takes a lot of money to plant a church”
Through a glass darkly wrote:
I noticed that in the written parts too where they mention the benefits of ARC membership as including “Mentoring from some of the fastest growing churches in America.” Seriously? The point is to learn how to grow fast? I thought the point was to set captives free, comfort the sick, encourage the downhearted.
None of that shows up in these excerpts. Is it elsewhere on their website, Dee?
Businesses who rely on customer traffic (or alternatively businesses who rely on a particular type of labor supply) will do a location analysis which is part of a larger feasibility study which is part of the business plan.
The relevant demographic and psychographic data are available at a very granular level nowadays, and computational power for modeling is also cheap. So, the analyst thinks about what kind of customer is most desirable, or the mix of customers that is needed to make a project or business feasible. Then the analyst determines where to find out those customers are and, better yet, forecast where they will be based on things like forecasts of household formation growth and what those households look like and forecasts of growth in raw population. Most importantly, the location analyst and decision-makers above the analyst would want to look at forecasts of employment growth in the economic base of a market and where those employers are located, because employment opportunities attract more customers with steady income.
If you are a large network, you can rank many more options according to how the expected returns from each potential location look. This is obviously an advantage if you are national or at least regional because your options are greater and you can spread the data collection and analysis over multiple locations. You can more effectively allocate the resources, perhaps taking into account the location preferences of the available staff. Plus a large network is constantly gathering additional data from the existing locations so that the location and feasibility modeling can be refined.
Of course, that’s only what a church planting network that is interested in *economic* returns might approach its location and “liturgy” decisions. And we all know that cannot possibly be what drives these decisions, right, because it’s all about Jesus, isn’t it? I’m quite sure that the locations in Phoenix as well as the takeover targets and church plants are driven mostly by how unchurched or unevangelized an area is. 😉
In other news, a couple of space exploration milestones are approaching; one more rapidly than the other.
It is now less than a week before the Philae lander is due to be deployed by Rosetta, hopefully to land on Comet 67P/C-G some seven hours later. A lot could go wrong with this, and it could all end fruitlessly, but I hope it doesn’t. Comets are much more interesting than they sound.
Secondly, New Horizons is now within two astronomical units of Pluto; that is to say, less than the diameter of earth’s orbit. New Horizon’s historic fly-past of Pluto is due in July 2015, and moreover, a suitable Kuiper Belt Object has been found for it to visit next, a few years later still.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
My goodness, you all know all this stuff. You are making some of the rest of us look pretty mundane. But I guess it is not so bad. I know how to make sauerkraut in an earthenware crock under the kitchen sink. Just saying.
I agree with his lifestyle discrediting his position. I know a little about this situation, and I believe that the content of his teaching flowed from historical events in the church and in the world. Without that historical context it is nearly impossible to understand how the 1988 meltdown happened.
IMO it’s yet another example of a system that is closed to correction because it is based on a particular set of unquestionable certainties and, in some cases, unquestionable personalities. The dynamics for that were set in motion well before Lindsey arrived in Dallas and the Jesus Movement in its various manifestations spread the dispensational view, including Lindsey’s particular interpretations. Similarly, the dynamics for New Calvinism were set into motion before anyone ever heard of John Piper.
As for Hal Lindsey himself, I think he believed in the true gospel but was drawn away by the fame and money which may have made other personality issues come into full flower. That is not to excuse it at all but to explain it so that we can understand it and apply the lessons, both doctrinal and personal, appropriately to ourselves.
I would caution people that swinging from Dispensationalism to Postmillenialism will not cure the underlying disease of looking for certainty where certainty is not intended to be found. Postmills can be prone to veer off into Reconstructionism, and Amils can be tempted to make the institutional church the goal of God’s redemptive plan (i.e. Augustine.) Somehow I think God’s plans will not fit into our boxes, and we will never find the Bible Code that answers all of our questions.
I think it is also important to carefully distinguish what we are talking about. Dan Wallace or Darrell Bock are not Hal Lindsey and are certainly not John Hagee. Gary North and Doug Wilson do not represent the totality of Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism is not represented in total by either Roman Catholicism or Kim Riddlebarger. There are some excellent multi-perspective books on eschatology which are very enlightening, particularly those which have a response-from-the-opposing-views format.
Well, see, you are way ahead of the curve. Fermented foods are all the rage now, so there will be a great demand for your low-tech crock technology when the sun finally decides to burp in our direction.
Personally, I am a firm believer in the new ice cream diet that guarantees significant weight loss while improving ones’ overall personal disposition.
apparently Lindsey’s net worth is about 42 Million. Good for him, thats a way to work the business.
Recommendations would be appreciated, if you have time. Not like I need more books in my to-read pile, but I value your opinions.
And the ice cream diet sounds like it’s worth testing.
I’m curious, are you talking about “Heaven is for Real”? It was book and then came out as a movie earlier this year (starring Greg Kinnear) and racked in a lot of money for the investment (over $101 million on a $12 million investment). Or is this another about another kid? As for other near death experiences, Esquire magazine claims to have debunked Dr. Eben Alexander’s story. I can’t link to it because it is behind a paywall. When I looked at it last year, I used some trickery to view the text (that I can’t seem to reproduce now).
Anyway, just curious, but I WOULD like to read something about The Harbinger. I have been half-tempted to read it if I could check it out of the library and compare it to a *extremely* popular book making the rounds in the Mormon community (Visions of Glory) that came out the same year (2012). Not that I buy into this wibbly wobbly end-timey wimey stuff from either direction, but I did find it curious these two books came out so close together.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
I can’t confirm that. According to the Wikipedia, many of the books he’s published since Late Great Planet Earth appear to be rewrites of that book. I remember reading There’s a New World Coming in the later 1970s and being very very impressed (as well as very very impressionable). I don’t remember if it was a knockoff of the first book or not.
The one thing I can confirm is that one of my law school classmates (who was quite a bit older than me) had known Lindsey when she was younger and was VERY VERY UPSET when he criticized her for joining the Catholic church when she got married.
Oh, there’s quite a bit on that website But self sacrifice is not one of them.
Darn-black helicopters pay.
“(over $101 million on a $12 million investment).” if accurate that is a wonderful Return on Investment, that is a sacrament of the highest kind. I am impressed.
So that’s where Gary and Anne ended up after they left Chatsworth. Having experience with the Ezzos going back to 1995, I’m sorry to hear that they are still profiting from their highly questionable parenting advice.
This lengthy comment is from Brad Sargent. He does a lot of information gathering on the Internet. It is so helpful, I decided to post it in the thread.
I thought it might be useful to get some input from a former church planter. I have a background in church planting (serving on something like 8 start-up teams between 1995 and 2001), church plant strategy design (2000-2001), and church planting assessment using the method developed by Charles Ridley (early 2000s). What I’ve been doing since then that relates, I’ll get to in a bit …
So, FWIW, a few thoughts on the whole “systems” side of ARC.
This sounds like the typical methodological model for planting used in since at least the 1990s that we called “The Big Bang” Marketing Model. In a nutshell: Go to a new place, gather a team, work on creating a huge start-up activity-promotion that will attract people in, hold preview services, do The Launch (typically within six months of arrival), get rolling quickly because if you aren’t self-sufficient relatively quickly you will have financial problems – especially when your seed funding from denomination or network runs out.
The Marketing Model uses an attractional approach that seeks to draw people to a charismatic leader and to a building where they have relevant teaching, engaging worship, and nice people. This tends toward creating a culture of consumerism that focuses on lively experiences more than deep discipleship. It also often uses a generic framework for organizing, instead of long periods of listening to local people and translating biblical concepts into understandable terms and forms of meeting and teaching that fit organically with local culture. In other words, it easily devolves into a machine. (When church planting strategist friends realized they could “do the marketing model in their sleep,” that was their wake-up call that the system is too mechanistic and minimizes the role of the leading of the Holy Spirit.)
Perhaps one of the distinctives of ARC is requiring financial commitment to support the network in planting churches that plant churches. But this replication concept is nothing novel, just the financial aspect and running it organizationally instead of letting it happen organically.
A couple of core problems in many church planting system, in my opinion, go back to the assessment method used (and often misused). From the Level 1 and Level 2 trainings I took, I believe it is based in a modernist paradigm with an inherent definition of “success” that ends up emphasizing quantitative measurements of impact: how many people attend, how much money people gave, how many people participated in a program or got saved or were baptized. I also believe it is slanted toward a CEO approach to “leadership,” with looking to a singular leader who is “the” visionary to get buy-in among followers.
The assessment didn’t seem to work so well in getting accurate readings on a couple of issues. For instance, I witnessed a “leader” who scored well on the church planter assessment and so got funded, but who turned out to be classic spiritually abusive overlord. Maybe adding a form of the MMPI, administered by a qualified mental health professional, should be a “must-have” section to weed out prospective planters who have no conscience. An inventory like MBTI or DiSC just doesn’t cut it for that purpose, useful as they may be for understanding other issues.
Also, the assessment doesn’t differentiate what cultural settings a candidate might best fit in. For instance, a church planting candidate friend had the odd experience of receiving an average score under 2.0 out of 5.0 from the traditionalist team leader using the Ridley assessment. Meanwhile, the more younger-generation-friendly assistant assessor who heard the exact same 200-plus minutes of interviews, gave the candidate an average score over 4.5 – based on a strong suitability for work in holistic paradigm contexts, such as post-Christian settings.
All this is to highlight some differences between *organizational* models and *organic* models of being/doing church planting and therefore what kind of church typically results. ARC appears to rely on a highly conventional-culture, marketing-oriented, machine-creating model. Frighteningly, however, where they cannot escape the organic aspects are in the “spiritual DNA” that goes with all of who they are. If all is as you’ve indicated from your research, Dee, and with more to come, then it looks like ARC is revolving around a “culture of commendation” for someone who is disqualified by character and behavior from positions of leadership. That would also mean there is likely a lot of “conditioning” going on to reinforce the appearance of everything being okay, to silence any opposition, to deflect criticism, to enforce conformity … not all that much different from what we see in any toxic system. And that means it is potentially being implanted directly or indirectly elsewhere. Isn’t that the same problem we’ve witnessed unfolding at Mars Hill, with too many replicants of Mark Driscoll likewise inflicting damage on other leaders and parishioners? Or with reports of passive-aggressive leadership control in Acts29 churches?
What comes to mind is something Price Pritchett said in The Ethics of Excellence: “The organization can never be something the people are not.” To which I add my own corollary: “The organization will eventually become whatever its leaders are.” I’ve seen that principle play out in the creating of control systems of extreme compliance, or chaos, or charisma. And what do any of those have to do with Christlikeness?
So, what have I done with all that? Starting about 10 years ago, I started working on paradigm and culture tools that could potentially help people figure out their own “cultural GPS” and where they might best fit in ministry – not necessarily serving in a people group just like themselves, but figure out what kinds of cultural distance and differences they’d experience with wherever they sense the Spirit leading them. I’ve worked with social transformation entrepreneurs more than with church planters, and we’ve been creating tools for assessing the *qualitative* impact of personal and social change – values like authenticity, cultural sensitivity, collaboration, mutuality, optimization, and sustainability. These can’t be measured with “nickels and numbers” or “pewsitters and pennies.” (Wow, those expressions are from the pre-inflation era!) And I’ve posted a lot of research writing that hopefully will help prevent spiritually abusive people and practices from getting into churches and church planting movements.
I guess that means I’m still on church planting teams, just in a postmodern-friendly way that works with “nones” more than “sums,” and robust organic methods instead of the rusty organizational models.
More about the Ridley system and church planting assessments:
$42 Million from the End Time Prophecy racket.
While he was laughing all the way to the bank, I didn’t stop having flashbacks like a Nam Vet for 15 years! The one who told me he was in it for the money was my therapist back in the Eighties helping repair the damage his Rapture Gospel did to me. To this day I will not look out of a kitchen window that faces east and I have a harder time trusting God than a Jew trusting Hitler.
Thank you for making me laugh.
Im glad folks see that but the other side is that the money they make could go to real Gospel work. Gospel work can be defined in the Sermon on the Mount in my opinion. Thanks for the blog it has really helped me.
Put “eschatology views” into the search bar at Amazon books. It brings up some multi-perspective books that you can browse. There are books which consider the question of the millennium and the rapture and hell.
Going across the discontinuity-continuity spectrum:
The best representatives of current thinking on Dispensationalism are Darrell Bock and Craig Blaising. If you are interested in classical Dispensationalism for historical perspective, then I recommend Dwight Pentecost.
Historical premill is best represented by George Ladd. I would avoid Russell Mooore’s more recent book because it is so poorly written and edited.
Baptist Amills are represented most recently by Sam Storms, although my caution regarding him is that he is even more obnoxious than I am. The TgC boys love him, though.
Reformed Amills are represented well by Anthony Hoekema and more recently Kim Riddlebarger.
I’m not as familiar with non-Reconstructionist classical Postmill thinking, but I think that Lorraine Boettner made a good case for that view in Three Views on the Millennium.
If you want to read the lunatic fringe of Reconstructionist thinking (my opinion only), then you can browse the Chalcedon Foundation site.
Overall, I think Three Views of the Millennium is a good overview of the issues surrounding the Millennium, though it is not as strong on the historical premill position, IIRC.
The best book, IMO, to read regarding the issue of continuity-discontinuity, which is the question about the relationship between the Old and New Covenants and between Israel and the Church, is Continuity and Discontinuity edited by John Feinberg. It is a collection of essays on various aspects of the topic written from different viewpoints. It may not be in print, however.
Another way of looking at eschatological questions is the preterist-futurist spectrum. A helpful book I have for that is Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary which compares the preterist, idealist, futurist and idealist interpretations of Revelation side-by-side.
This is a good start on an overview of the positions and issues. It is not exhaustive, by any means, and hopefully others have some suggestions, too. Beware of straw men. They are everywhere. Check the references and the reasoning, which is my standard admonition.
My proofreader says I mentioned Idealist twice and left out Historicist in the views of Revelation.
As usual, you are spot on.
We are learning together. 🙂
Not to change the subject or anything, but i suspect you’re a not-so-secret fan of Doctor Who. If so, are you counting the days ’til “Death in Heaven” airs? (Great title, i think.)
And Peter Capadi is just plain superb. Didn’t think i would like him, but he is ahead of Tom Baker in my affections now, which i never though possible!
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
You know, dispensationalism has been around for a while. In my childhood it was the Scofield Bible thing. I have racked my brain and I can’t equate what you and others experienced with anything that was a part of dispensationalism at the time. Something must have gone terrible awry somewhere along the way. I read Late Great and thought-same old, same old. I don’t know why this is but it is like people talking about two different things. Anyhow, I am sorry that happened to you all. Sounds really bad.
For lots of us (high church Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox) the world of dispensationalism is exotic, to say the least.
More seriously, i can sum up my understanding of things quite simply:
Christ returns. The End (and The Beginning).
That’s what I remember, too, but that’s probably because we got vaccinated with an attenuated version way back when. Kids who came up in the frenzy of the 1980’s got the mutant strain that was out of control with the hell houses and scary movies based on….speculation which became confused with “facts.”
There is a fascinating article I read once upon a time on the history of the Chafer and Machen breakup. It wasn’t always such a polarizing issue in the Presbyterian church, and in the overall picture of the time, they shared more in common than not, being both Presbyterian and inerrantists when denial of the reliability of Scripture was on the ascendancy among Presbyterians.
I think that when Dispensationalism went viral, it also became sensationalized and therefore profitable. In certain circles, the particulars could not be questioned, so error got baked into it and elaborated and exaggerated by the intransigence in the camps. Then there was Hagee and his two covenants nonsense, and TBN, and then the movies and it went totally off the rails into speculation that was nothing like it started out.
Church history is very interesting.
ARC: so you tithe, then in time your church gives a tithe of the tithe, which goes back to ???, led by ???. Smacks of PDI/$GM B$ building model. It is like Nazis selling huge industrial ovens to Jews in the late 1940’s. Come on maaaaaaaaaan! $o $ad… How utterly $tupid!
That’s a good summation and probably the best approximation of what can be known. But speculation is so much fun!
Thanks Gram3, I really appreciate the list. I think many like myself and HUG were damaged by a lack of perspective, not knowing there was any debate beyond whether it will be a pre/mid/post tribulational rapture before the millennium. In some corners of evangelicalism, that is the full range of options presented. ARC included. And now I’m trying to figure out how to expose some of these folks to a much wider world without triggering a fear response.
When I read one of Brad’s comments and posts, I feel like a Piper Cub who wandered into the wake of a B-2.
Brad would like that.
“Back To Da Wartburg Watch E-Church Future, Perhaps?”
(Deebs, feed da Delorean…)
Zap! Sizzle! Boom!
Wartburg Watch will recognize E-Church Partner(s) from around the globe that have invested in ‘spiritual abuse victim encouragement ‘ (SAVE) . No money is required to register. The “Find a E-Church” page is anticipated to gardner the most webpage views where people can find E-Churches that are located all around the Internet.]
—> Where we are going ta ‘church’, we don’t need roads…
We don’t need brick and mortar bloatware churches either, and busy little pompous highly overpaid 501(c)3 ‘pastoral pulpit-ground-a -pounders N’ theyz staffers.”
Be set free.
Jesus’ truth will set you free: ‘Believe in Me, live forever…’
(smiley face goes here)
Intermission: “Back to da Future E-Church?”
I don’t consider myself a “fan” of Doctor Who, maybe more of an appreciator? Because I don’t generally make a practice of watching TV, I catch the episodes on the fly. That said, I really like Peter Capaldi as the current Doctor. (But I did wonder if anyone would catch my remark about the end times. *giggle*)
It is one of the few TV shows i keep up with, though i am nowhere near being a “fan” in the sense that some are. I started watching late-night Tom Baker reruns back when i was in grad school, and have always thought it a fun show. Though i kind of miss some of the thrown together with tinfoil and crepe paper costumes and sets from the old days – it gave the whole thing a feeling of “we are gonna pull this off with no budget at all!” feeling. And they mostly did.
Apologies for repetition. I’ll blame it onthe switch to standard time.
In Glasgwegian (and a few other Central Belt dialects), “anybody” has two syllables. The middle ones are considered spurious; hence, “emdy”. I think it’s rather clever… but I find languages really interesting generally.
Up here in the Frozen North (AKA Upstate New York), when a winter storm is forecast, we all run to the grocery store to buy eggs & bacon for “if the electric goes out”. The mystery is, of course, how people sitting in the dark expect to survive on raw eggs & equally raw bacon. (Personally, I buy Oreos & Campbell’s pork & beans. Needless to say, this makes me a Snowbelt Heretic).
This is sad, but true. Yet, in point of fact, the “rapture” is a latecomer on the Christian scene, having appeared in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, as a private revelation to a young woman somewhere in the British Empire. (Would it had stayed there).
If you’ll all forgive my stating the obvious, it takes big money to plant a pyramidal motivational speaking business. But it doesn’t take big money to plant a church.
Peter did not have big money. So on the oft-celebrated occasion where he and John met a man born lame, and therefore abandoned in that economy to a life of begging, Peter could only give him what he did have. The men of money would do well to ponder what a valuable marketing opportunity this presented Peter and John with – even though they themselves were arrested and imprisoned, many bought into the message and the tithing-base grew to around five thousand – shortly before, it had only been three thousand. Imagine what Peter and John could have accomplished if only they’d been backed by an organisation like ARC.
The oft-derided Bill Johnson has argued that we cannot match the successes of the early church as long as we value a book they did not have more than the Holy Spirit whom they did have. For “book” you could easily substitute “budget” in that sentence, although neither I nor Johnson would for one minute argue that budget can replace Bible in real life.
To paraphrase Futuristic_Brad’s Corollary that The organi[s]ation will eventually become whatever its leaders are, I think we can say that the organisation will never be able to lose its initial priorities. A “church” that is founded on an abundant supply of money will never truly be about anything other than money. It may market itself on the hook of being “all about Jesus” but this “Jesus” will only love compliant people who have disposable income. This in turn is because what he/it really wants to do is dispose of that income him/itself.
We would go buy fuel for the camp stove, make sure the manual can opener worked, buy canned pork n beans, tuna and mayo, and bread. The furnace could operate without electric then, now almost all require juice to function. One winter we had a week when the furnace, running full tilt, could not keep the house above 60 degrees F, and we had a baby on the way. By the next winter, we had a new furnace that paid for itself in a lower gas bill in less than two seasons.
Check this out: a coal or wood burning Warm Morning stove with a pan for hot water on top, kerosene for light and maybe for cooking (or maybe a wood stove for cooking) and feather beds on top of the mattress because there was no heat upstairs. This was daily winter reality, not just when a storm was coming. My people did a little bit better because we had a coal furnace and electricity. What I described was the home of more than one relative and several friends. One maybe could not do that in upstate NY but it worked pretty well in KY. So storms, which are not that bad in that area, were not much different from plain old January.
But we see so little snow here that we make as much out of it as possible. One night I came back from a call at the hospital at about 2 AM and there was a light snow falling. I got the children up out of bed to see it. Said look here kiddies, this is called snow and where I come from this used to happen rather frequently in the winter.
Guy Penrod sings Tender Tennessee Christmas on his new CD–about where the snow does not fall at Christmas time. Sorry, folks. Nostalgia goes malignant when you get older–it can be a problem.
Two quotations from Calvin Miller:
“Since the Second Coming is going to be so obvious, maybe we should just keep busy about the things of God rather than working on our apocalypse charts. We’ll know Him when we see Him.”
“Watching the skies is not as important as seeking the lost. Serve Christ and not the calendar.”
Agree with you both. Grew up on dispensational doctrine. ( 50’s ) Something must have morphed in the late 70s .
Ohmugosh … every time I read one of his comments/posts, this overwhelming urge to edit everything he says comes over me! 🙂
I am thinking that this topic needs to go to the open discussion page like Gram3 suggested, so I am posting something there about something Al Mohler said on the topic. Mercifully short but I hope on topic over there.
I lost it for Hal back in the 1970s when he was wearing $1500 suits….
Especially since they were $1500 leisure suits.
Their teaching has profoundly effected the churches in Charleston. They have immense power in the large home schooling community here. Because they can insinuate themselves into the families of the home schoolers and thereby cause divisions within a wide range of church communities.
Actually, I’d place the “going viral” frenzy as starting in the Seventies instead of the Eighties. Just with the communication systems of the day, “going viral” was a slower process than today, taking a little time to peak. If you want to split the difference, the frenzy began in the Seventies and peaked in the Eighties.
Briefly, besides controlling access to food what else are they doing?
Wasn’t the first time something “went totally off the rails into speculation”. Think of those elaborate Medieval systems of Angelology and Demonology, speculated generation after generation from minimal initial sources, each generation taking the previous one’s as FACT and adding their own speculations (which the next generation took as FACT and…).
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
In other words a segment of the post-war boomer generation. I wonder why.
It may have been “same old, same old” to you, but what about someone encountering it for the first time? Especially when it’s backed with Cosmic-level Authority?
And then there was the Seventies. Cold War Hysteria, where everybody KNEW Global Thermonuclear War was Inevitable, 110% probability of Human Extinction (through Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War) before the year 2000, It’s All Over But The Screaming. Constant drumbeat like Global Warming today.
Looking back, Hal Lindsay just slapped a Christian Coat of paint on Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War(TM) and added a Beam-Me-Up-JEESUS Escape Route. For Real True Christians ONLY. Do You KNOW You’re Saved? Are You Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure? Are You Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure…?
And somewhere along the line (helped by those Jack Chick tracts with their Great White Throne J-Day scenes), Christ got turned into a Cosmic-level monster whose number-one obsession was to burn the world (and all in it) to ashes and throw as many as he could into Eternal Hell like a Cosmic Dr Mengele. All because of YOUR SIN SIN SIN! Do You KNOW You’re SAVED…?
And that way lies Madness.
I think I might have written that out by analogy in a My Little Pony fan novel I collaborated on last year. Though the scene is too long to post here, it involves Princess Celestia — the show’s benevolent, approachable, and playful god-figure — being viewed as a monster by other species than ponies because of long-ago wars between predator and prey.
dee, OBO Futuristic Brad, wrote:
Very important observation. I can’t help feeling this is inevitable in a pyramidal organisation, especially one built around the need to recoup, at a minimum, its up-front investment. The thing is that each local branch will be reporting to at least one layer above it that is staffed by people who will meet the local branch members rarely, if ever. So they can’t grasp the steady growth of love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, goodness, kindness, faith or self-control (which, to paraphrase Paul, answer to no legalistic system of measurement). They need numbers.
The Dee / Futuristic Brad Partnership further wrote:
Again, I suspect that’s the most reliable way of generating successful distributed franchises.
Is that “leisure” to rhyme with “seizure”?
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I agree that it started in the 1970’s and took off in the late 70’s and peaked in the run-up to 1988. I posted a comment on the open thread about how things looked from my experience.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Leisure is an instance of Americans using proper spelling but mispronouncing an English word.
Well, in fairness, it did take a lot of Polly Esthers to double-knit an entire suit.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
The way I see it, the conventional modernist ways of processing information typically seem to analyze and divide, then categorize and conquer — which quickly leads to overemphasizing the differences instead of building on the commonalities. Hence, we end up with hierarchies where top levels are increasingly distant from the everyday realities of those at the bottom, and middle-managers are “tasked” (I *hate* that word as a verb!) with keeping the “utopia” going (ironically, inevitably with dystopian tactics). And value rarely trickles down from the top — rather, the resources from the bottom bubble up and we know where they land …
Anyway, I do find pyramids a helpful way to visualize hierarchies. Here’s my dystopian “Pyramid of Responsibility” for spiritual abuse:
I listened to a lecture series by a linguistics professor once, and one of the take aways was that we make too much of “laws” of pronunciation or grammar or spelling. Basically, the way to pronounce something changes with time and the norm is determined by how many people do what. Same way with grammar and spelling. The “laws” are not like laws of nature but are rather either descriptions of how people do or else rules for publication and not much more. Written language lags behind speech in changing, but it eventually changes. At which point I found myself screaming with Mel Gibson “freeeeeduuuum.” He was limiting himself to discussing english language and US dialects.
One other thing I ran into a couple of days ago. Some of you all were talking about language usage in the US so I googled some stuff. Now, information changes from site to site, so take it for what it is worth. One site had a map of areas of the US based on speech patterns (a little different from what I had seen before but not much) and according to them the area I come from (southern midlands from the western slopes of the appalachians to about mid texas and roughly from the ohio to the gulf) has a basically similar word usage as the southern appalachians themselves and –drum roll–we retain more residuals of elizabethan english than even modern british english. I had heard that before about the appalachians, but not about us.
So, are we “correct” since we use some older terminology and tradition/historicity is everything? And besides, thing ought not change so much. Or are we just behind the times and need to move along? Or was the linguist right–language is what it is and is constantly changing and that is all to the good.
Just had a thought. Maybe that is why I am comfortable with the ESV? Hmmm.
well, not if applying the ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ rule 😉 bad form any way you look at it
I must agree….I use phrases that sound right out of the KJV…..sprinked with 17th C. French phrases.( 5 minutes from Louisiana.)
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Actually, I beg to opine that this is almost universal, though it is especially prevalent in religious movements. It works with tradition, too; it’s very hard to repeal legislation laid down by previous generations, because if it was in existence when I joined the church then it must be sacred and untouchable.
I’m sure you’ve come across the phrase “man – movement – monument”.
I used to be pretty “anti Church planting”. Primarily my opinion was shaped by the fact that the vast majority of church plants that I was aware of were all popping up in growing, upper middle class communities where prestige and money were easy to obtain.
I feel somewhat differently today.
Now, I still feel much of church planting that occurs is too easily decided by where the easiest monies are to be found….but….some stats encourage me to be more open to the concept.
The main one is that even with the same numerical growth in a communities pre-existent churches, that a new church plant has a direct effect on unchurched and non-believers becoming Christian. And some of the studies show that there is a high percentage of those new converts who are in it for the long haul. So, if a goal is to see MORE people reached for Christ in a given area, one of the surefire ways to do so is by encouraging fresh ministries to start there.
This of course can’t be done by divorcing the church planting effort from important concerns that many here have already pointed out.
As far as my experience with ARC…I know of one church with that group. It was planted approximately 4 years ago and is the 14th fastest growing church in the US. They are about to open their 4th campus. I don’t know how other ARC related churches operate, but what I have seen from this particular one is encouraging.
Their big “marketing splash” was a huge bookbag give away(their main location is right on the line between wealth and poverty) that included school supplies, free haircuts, etc. They took advantage of their proximity to people with money to funnel it into impoverished areas. About 3-4 times a year their “big” events are all similar things. They show up at Laundromats in government housing areas and do the entire communities laundry while providing tutors and other programs for the kids. They have ministries primarily focused on single moms.
They are very sleekly marketed and well funded. They fit most of the definitions of a church that TWW doesn’t particularly like(complementary, leader driven, charismatic individual sr pastor—who also was their worship leader for two years until they hired someone) But I personally know of a dozen people who have never stepped foot in the door of a church who went, got baptized and now lead ministry teams into the poorer areas of the community.
I have met their Sr Pastor once and part of me isn’t particularly a huge fan of his. But I do know that for at least this time period they are doing pretty amazing stuff for people who are often ignored and not ministered to and I have seen peoples lives do a complete 180 thanks to what is going on there.
I know a lot of good work goes into your writing Brad. What I have to say is not about you and your writing, but me and my sensory response. Now I can say that pyramid image was disturbing, especially when applied, as it is, to Christ’s church. It makes me want to climb in a cozy den (maybe even with a bear) somewhere and never enter a church again.
Here on the Gulf Coast, when a hurricane threatens from the Gulf, the first thing the store runs out of is milk….how they plan to store all that milk without refrigeration is a mystery I’ve never solved….I agree, I need Keebler Club crackers and Wolf Brand Chili to get through the power outages…
OK, I guess I should not have omitted the wink smiley.
What kind of name is that anyway – “Association of Related Churches”? It doesn’t mean a thing, at least not beyond “Association of Associated Churches” – another definition from the department of redundancy department.
If it means anything, it means “we are an association of churches, and what we have in common is that we are associated.”
What I fear is that they have in common is the the backscratching. Let me explain:
It seems to me that this is what these churches have in common:
1) strong pastors with weak elders that don’t have much of a say in the IMPORTANT aspects of running their church
2) no oversight by and accountability to the pew-sitters, those who provide the money
3) the only oversight comes from other pastors from out of town who provide oversight to each other, and who have similar “comfortable arrangements” (to quote Mr Collins form “Pride and Pejudice”)
4) these pastors are probably very nice to each other and cannot and do not want to provide real oversight (see Paul Tripp’s remark on the Mars Hill BoAA)
So, essentially, the pastors of these churches scratch each other’s backs.
They should rename the ARC. They should call it the ABP – Association of Backscratching Pastors. It’s not about the churches, anyway, it’s mostly about these pastors.
Os Guinness in “Fit bodies fat minds” makes the connection between Dispensationalism and anti-intellectual withdrawal from the secular world. George Marsden in “Fundamentalism and american culture” has a similar take on things.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
And remembered after I hit “post”:
I came into this with a 160 IQ, the accompanying emotional/personality development retardation, a science obsession, a head filled with 10+ years of natural-talent speedreading with no idea how to sort it out, and possible low-end Aspergers. Plus extreme vulnerability to guilt manipulation.
Some years ago, RHE had an “Ask an Aspie” guest Q&A posting, of which a couple things jumped out at me. First was the Aspie in the Q&A recollecting elaborate runaway scenarios of how to escape or hide from the Antichrist’s Enforcers when (not if) they came for her. (Any minute now… Any minute now…) The second was an aside that counselors advise Aspies to NOT repeat NOT become involved with “certain types of religious movements” because they trigger such runaway mind-freakouts.
It’s a BUZZWORD BINGO! name.
Straight out of Dilbert.
i.e. Completely Self-Referential. That is never a good sign.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Also “Rags to Riches to Rags in three generations”, a bit of folk wisdom you find in both English and Chinese.
According to James Lileks of Minneapolis, where he is it’s “powdered milk and toilet paper”. He once did a very off-the-wall speculative essay on the sort of survivalist iron rations you could make out of the two.
@ Gus: PREACH IT!
Idealist Generation on the Strauss-Howe Cycle, raised during a prosperous decompression letdown from a crisis era. Which results in Speshul Little Snowflakes who are THE First in all History to Ever Get It Right.
“Nine out of ten New Ideas are really Old Mistakes. But to a generation who wasn’t around the last time those Old Mistakes were made, they seem like Fresh New Ideas.” — G.K.Chesterton
(To which I add to old G.K. “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”)
My old DM used to ask me “HUG, you’re a Baby Boomer. Why are you so down on Baby Boomers?”
To which I replied “Yes, I’m a Baby Boomer. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
That hurts my heart just to listen to it. I think maybe my generation was born into depression then war and after that neither the cold war nor the impending apocalypse seemed all that different. Gram3 suggested we were inoculated with a weak strain and developed immunity. Yes, that and we got some antibodies at birth from our mothers, our parents also having lived through a lot. Besides all that some of us, that would be me, don’t really have much of an imagination. It is a mixed blessing. On that continuum some of us are pretty far toward the lower end. Well, again, I am sorry that happened to you.
I’m somewhat conflicted on this, because on paper I’m a great fan of the evolution of language. The idea of not being able to expediently split an infinitive really needs consigning to the dustbin of history, for instance, as well as the dogma that you can’t use a preposition to end a sentence with. On the other hand, I’m loathe to break either of those stupid rules because I have an irrational fear that if I do, someone will think I’m being ignorant… sigh.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Some of us are still bound by the rules which distinguished written grammar and composition from speech which were markers for literacy. I agree with your proposal to rescind the rules we have to slavishly put up with.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
My thinking is that if someone is going to judge me or come to conclusions concerning me based on my writing ability, or lack of, and the whims of my ‘smart’ phone, then said judger has more pressing issues to deal with than my writing 🙂
And that’s a runon sentance to add to my writing sins 😉
In other words . . . I’ve stopped worrying about the comment box.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I hear you HUG,those Chick tracts were in a world of their own. Nasty. My fundamentalist BIL used to leave those in the rest rooms of his service station….yikes, made for one scary bathroom trip.
I’m sorry that was your introduction into Christianity. I don’t blame you in the least by being repulsed by anything resembling it.
Sorry if the images were too triggering, Bridget. There are some fairly graphic illustrations there. Personally, I find the image of “The Enforcer” particularly disturbing for the violence shown in it — and it’s matched in another (as-yet unpublished) segment about “negative conditioning,” picking up the storyline where that same “silver guy” faces other sorts of intimidation factors in an abusive environment. And “The Dictator” in the floating chair kinda creeps me out.
Actually, I took pains in selecting images specifically so those of us who are more visually oriented can get the concepts from the pictures intuitively before necessarily even reading the surrounding material. Seems to be working with the destructive ones. Looking forward to publishing material with ones that depict recovery, reconciliation, and joy …
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
from Article 9 Statement of Conciliation:
The Corporation shall seek to produce reconciled relationships through its ministry and among its staff. Recognizing that litigation and an adversarial legal system tend to produce adversaries instead of reconciled relationships, it shall be the policy and practice of the ARC to favor and promote a Biblical approach to dispute resolution in all relationships, following the informal process described in Matthew 18 or, if necessary, Christian conciliation in accordance with the rules of the Institute for Christian Conciliation, in lieu of litigation. This commitment to engage in conciliation will be implemented to the fullest extent possible in relationships between Board members, staff, volunteers, contracting parties, and trade creditors.
Translation: YOU MAY NOT SUE US.
I wonder if this also applies to the average members of ARC churches.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Let me see, how does this go? I am about to set you free, brother. Let me explain it to you. It is a foregone conclusion that there are those who think you are ignorant. It is too late to protect your reputation or defend your image of yourself. How do I know this? You have opinions and you speak/write them for all to hear. There is a 100% probability that there are those who so disagree with you that they already think that you are ignorant, or worse. There is no amount of accuracy of speech that will change their minds. You are only hurting yourself in letting yourself be bound in this way. So, be free. You have nothing to lose at this point except a certain temerity about kicking up your verbal heels. The horse is out of the barn. It is too late. You have already outed yourself. Burst free into the joyous liberty of those of us who do not give a rip. Bless you brother and thank you Jesus.
In your heart you know I am right.
Not only am I seeing parallels between this and Acts29, but it’s looking like a new defacto denomination based on Greg Surratt’s original church with an almost episcopal polity. I couldn’t help but be struck by how overwhelmingly top-down the entire structure is, with everything overseen and all important decisions made by about seven people, probably with pope Greg at the apex. Officially incorporated in the state of Louisiana, this thing is like a mutated combo of denomination and multinational corporation, or wants to be. They claim their targets are unchurched people; from what I’ve read above, they are also sheep-stealing and probably don’t go to the trouble to try and distinguish between the two.
Their statement of faith appears right in line with the Nicene creed, but doesn’t really go beyond that. They mention the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but what do they understand that to mean? Are they charismatic, are they baptist, do they see that and the Lord’s supper as sacraments, or what? Are they reformed, arminian, or trying to be some amalgamation? Maybe that’s a clever ruse to get you to actually come to one of their churches to find out what they’re really about.
Reading too much Lindsey leads into a kind of ‘Hal on earth’.
Sorry, couldn’t resist!
Where to start:
1. The extreme role expectation for boys, girls, men, women.
2. Preemptive discipline – requiring children to be seen and not heard even from an extraordinarily young age. (I’m a disciplinarian and I find this extreme level to keep children from inquiring and being inquisitive.)
3. The inability for these kids to manage time as they get older. They don’t know what to do if an adult isn’t managing their life.
4. Making everything a hill for the parents to die on – all in the name of teaching self-control. However, natural consequences aren’t available to teach the child so that later in life the kids can have real self-control without adults tell them what to do.
5. Parents are “responsible” for their children turning out “right.” We have parents who won’t allow their children to come to any events that aren’t parent attended – i.e.: no children’s Bible studies and no youth groups.
6. Extreme literalist approach to the Bible. It is really not the word of God, but rather a textbook or owner’s manual. There is no room for thinking differently or having differences of opinion of what the Bible says. You disagree; you are evil and leading people astray.
I’m sure there are more. But this is what is coming to mind.
Good pun, dude.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
I heard that started in either Age of Reason or Victorian times, when the idea was to systematize English grammar to make English Just Like Latin. (If so, again the ghost of the Roman Empire rises from its grave…) I remember all these elaborate verb conjugations such as “Shall Have Had” that NOBODY ever used outside of a grammar textbook. (English only has three or four verb forms, and conjugates by prefacing the verb with an auxiliary verb, usually a form of “to be”.)
English began as a succession of two trade pidgins, the first between Saxons & Danes and the second a hybrid between Anglo-Saxons & Norman French. And like all pidgins, elaborate grammar and verb conjugations got dropped early on.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
It is good…
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
A lot of silliness started in Victorian times, having a great deal to do with separating the upper classes from the common folk. I don’t know whether you’ve come across the slightly archaic “English english” phrase “good breeding”. It reflects the fact that the upper classes literally believed themselves to be (in modern parlance) the genetic superiors of the people who actually did the work.
This doesn’t just apply to speech, either. It applies to all the arcane, esoteric and entirely non-functional rules of “etiquette” that evolved in the 19th century. One (English) writer I’ve come across put it very well:
For the English, food is merely an obstacle to good table manners.
Sad, but – to a diminishing extent – true.
The four levels according to G.Orwell:
1. Big Brother (Dictator)
2. Inner Party (Enforcers, Commenders, Benefiters)
3. Outer Party (Negaters, Diverters, Silencers)
4. Proles (Avoiders, Applauders, Pawns)
And according to Game of Thrones and Dune:
1. Royal Houses
2. Great (Noble) Houses
3. Lesser (Gentry) Houses
P.S. And according to Mark’s Hill:
1. Visionary Pastor Marky Mark
3. Wanna-be Elders
4. Tithing Units
So you are saying that the Ezzos have a great deal of influence in Charleston?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Interesting thought. IMO, all they did is break Protestants into more factions. Protestants love their factions.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
How do you say it in your neck of the woods?
Great questions. We are looking into lots of stuff about them and will be writing posts in the days to come. My guess is that there theology is flexible so long as the human ATMs are coming through their doors. Deb has some interesting stuff about the legal connection in this group which she is writing about tonight.
Wait until tonight. The legal ties in this group are interesting.
Did Polly Esthers also knit Nehru collars!
Did you read how they took care of Rizzo after his dust up?
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
That sounds so much better to say someone shows evidence of good breeding than to say that is evident that someone was not exactly raised in a barn.
I agree. So many are attempting to make Jesus’ church run with a business model. Making God’s house for profit.
I imagine this group sues those who disagree with them.
Have you heard the expression “Boy/Girl,where are your raisin’s [at]?”
Worse is the attempt at marketing the gospel to make it appeal to the secular culture around it. Adapting the message to meet needs – that almost never include the need for forgiveness of sins (that word is conspicuous by its absence) with repentance and a changed life.
Well, let’s see how that works out when they don’t pay their “trade creditors.” That’s assuming that they can get any trade creditors, or any kind of creditors, to supply them with anything under those terms.
I’m thinking I wouldn’t do a thing without a cash payment for the total amount of the entire contract or PO *before* anyone or anything from my business came anywhere near them.
I’m very sorry to hear that. We experienced their heavy influence in our SFV church in the 1990s. The echoes of that influence, along with the added influences of Michael and Debi Pearl and Doug Phillips, haunt that church to this day. As a veteran homeschool mom my heart is grieved by the fact that fellow homeschoolers and other Christian parents are continuing to follow the Ezzos and not their own reading of the Bible, the leading of the Holy Spirit, plain old common sense and a heart of compassion toward their children.
Fears lead people to desire formulas over faith. There are far too many Christians, most notably a huge chunk of the Christian publishing industry, who are all too happy to make their living by exploiting those fears. I have to give the industry some credit for finally turning away from publishing the Ezzos’ books, though. It’s my understanding that they couldn’t get a publisher any longer and must self-publish now.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
That’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I told the pastor of a church that I wouldn’t be coming back because his church services were triggering my Asperger’s. So far I have managed to stick to that.
And now for something completely unrelated:
If you knit illusion art of David Tennant …
… you might be a Doctor Who fanatic. 😉
(Friend of mine knit one of these. It won “Best of Show” at the county fair.)
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Friday programming. 🙂
Aw shucks, tweren’t nuthin’ Ma’am
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Of course, there’s no class system in wee Sco’lund…
They certainly did a Good Thing when they helped Chris Hodges plant the Church of the Highlands.
Deb wrote a post about the Ezzos in 2011:
Here is a website that addresses the controversy surrounding them:
Here is Tom and Evangeline Reed’s website defending them:
The parents I knew who turned to this “ministry” to tell them what to do did so because they were afraid of the world and afraid of making mistakes in their parenting. They wanted a foolproof formula for raising obedient and godly children. While it helped some of them, I know many for whom it did not.
It rhymes with “treasure”, “measure” or “pleasure”.
Aren’t almost all of these nondenominational churches basically Baptist in beliefs? But they don’t use the word Baptist for fear of being mistaken for fundamentalists. And their service will have all rock music, where I guess a lot of Baptist churches still have more traditional music. I never liked the idea of non-denom churches. It is better that a church be aligned with one of the historic denominations – then it is tied to a certain belief system and practices. And there might be some accountability. Usually a nondenominational church has a slogan like “Our only creed is the Bible” – and all that means is they can’t be pinned down on much of anything.
The image — Enforcer beating the crap out of the little silver guy — is supposed to be disturbing. Because that’s what an Enforcer is — breaking the heads of his inferiors on the say-so of the Dictator. And they’ll break any heads they need to so the Dictator (and themselves) can stay on top.
Like Luca Brasi was to Don Corleone.
Or (IRL) Yezhov and Beria were to Stalin.
Or Himmler and especially Heydrich were to Hitler.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Here’s the scene, from the end of the fan novel “Wolf in Pony’s Clothing”. It’s long, and Deb & Dee might delete it for length, but here it is.
The situation is a wolf named Ardi hiding among the ponies has finally blown his cover (after many chapters of screwball comedy situations) and finds himself before Princess Celestia, the benevolent, approachable, and playful god-figure who rules over the ponies. (I consider her to be one of the Valar of that world, incarnated in the form of a giant immortal “alicorn” (winged unicorn).)
Thing is, in Wolf mythology Celestia is “The Burning Queen” a demonic monster who massacres Wolves and other predators so her herds of ponies can cover the world. Ardi, like other Wolves skulking around the waste places of that world, has been taught about The Burning Queen since puppyhood.
Let’s go to the Sun Palace in Canterlot for the scene. See if you can figure a Christian analogy to the subject of this post:
The Burning Queen lowered herself, lay on her belly before him, tucked gold-sabatoned fetlocks under her. “We heard little about wolves for centuries; except for the Timber Wolves of the Everfree, we thought them gone or driven far away into the wilderness. All we heard from Stalliongrad were occasional sightings. Or reports of attacks by feral packs. As far as we knew, wolves-who-spoke were no more.”
Her Royal Tiara-crowned head descended towards him; he yipped in shock at the touch of velvet-soft equine snout against his cheek. Her breath was warm against his face, her scent like a warm spring day.
“As I swore to Queen Vespid,” the pony Princess looked back at the Changeling Queen who stood watching from the side, “I have never and will never mean any harm to beings that can live within the laws of Equestria, be they pony or dragon or griffin or minotaur –” She paused for a moment, and amusement filled her voice. “Or even wolves who pretend to be ponies.”
“I, I won’t be punished then?” Ardi asked, wondering if maybe he just dreamed. “You’ll just –let me go? In peace?”
“Yes, Ardi of Stalliongrad.” She looked him in the eyes; he thought he saw tears forming in hers.
Then, because he had to say it; “But why? Wolves used to hunt ponies, and ponies still hunt wolves!”
The Burning Queen sighed. “Because of what happened long, long ago,” she began, “After the First Age of Discord.”
A rhythm crept into her voice; Pinkie plopped onto the floor and dug into her popcorn. Ardi sensed a ritual opening to an Old Story, and perked his ears to listen.
“Those were dark times, Ardi, everypony. Dark and Terrible. With their maker and master sealed away, Discord’s subcreations rampaged across the land. All the monsters of today’s Everfree, plus monsters even you never heard of, Twilight – the Landsharks, the Beholders, the Ibathene, the Tarrasque. All of them preying on ponies. Dragons and griffins joined in the hunt, as did wolves both timber and flesh.”
“And for centuries afterwards, my sister and I protected our little ponies. We hunted down those who hunted them, drove them away from what’s now Equestria, back into the Wastelands or the Everfree where Discord’s chaos still reigned. Hundreds of years of fighting and blood and death. Monsters, predators, even ponies who wanted to be the next Tirek or Grogar or Discord – King Sombra of the Crystals was just the best-known.”
The Nightmare’s voice came from behind Ardi, and something in that voice set him shivering. “Thou hast never had to face Sombra in his prime, Twilight Sparkle. Only what remained of him after a thousand years – the shadow of his rage, his hate, his craving to dominate.”
Silver sabatons rang on the floor as the Nightmare walked into view. “We were different then, my sister and I – dark and terrible, to match the times. It was then I first took the form and title of Nightmare Moon.” The ponies gasped and Ardi cringed as she shifted to the form she’d taken on Nightmare Night, when the Nightmare Moon statue “came to life” to scare the colts and fillies. Then the illusion dispelled and she was once more Princess Luna, her head lowered. “Twas to make me look more terrible and powerful, to intimidate the monsters and predators. Didst work too well; my ponies also ran from their Princess in terror. To them, I was just another monster that came in the night. And she took me over.”
Before him, the Burning Queen resumed. “After I – lost my sister – then came Syhlex, Lord of Dragons, and his seven sons to prey on my ponies now that I was alone.” She closed her eyes for a moment, as if remembering. “Equestria below us, fair for the taking! The Mare of the Night has fallen, and who fears the Day?” Her eyes opened. “You know what happened then.”
“Syhlex was the last great threat to Equestria. Two centuries after that, Equestria was at peace and growing. Ponies were settling and colonizing along the borders, expanding the realm to the size it is today. Seven hundred ninety-four years ago, I raised the sun for that year’s Summer Sun Celebration at the new colony of Vanhoofer, at the edge of the griffin lands. At the time, Vanhoofer was only a cluster of villages, smaller than Ponyville is today.”
“The Lord Mayor of the colony and Lord Commander of the garrison received me with all the pomp they could muster – you have seen the same upon my visits to Ponyville. After the formal Raising of the Sun, they brought me an ‘offering’, a ‘sacrifice of thanks’.” Her voice became grim. “A captured griffin laid at my forehooves, bound and gagged.”
“I removed her gag and asked her what was her crime? And it was being born a griffin, an eater of ponies.”
The alicorn’s voice began to quaver at the memory; all but the Changeling and the other Alicorn Major shuddered inside.
“She kept begging me to spare her young and to ‘make it quick’ – as you did just now, Ardi. All she asked for herself was a blindfold, so she couldn’t – see her death coming! She expected me to kill her on the spot – trample her beneath my hooves, burn her to ash with sunfire, as I had so many others in the chaos left by Discord! No griffin had preyed upon ponies for over five hundred years, yet to her I was still the griffin-killing monster. As I had been to my own little ponies, the colonists who hunted down griffins and had captured her alive as an ‘offering’ to me. We… We had become their monsters.”
Pinkie stopped crunching as Ardi and Twilight spoke as one. “W-what did you do to her?”
“I let her go, escorted her and her young to their aerie in the Griffin Mountains, and paid the Griffin Chieftans another state visit. Of peace between griffin and pony. Grizelda Sleek Tail returned with me to Equestria, as my personal student.” She looked at Twilight like a dam to her foal or bitch to her pup, extended a wing over the smaller spear-head. “You would have liked her, Twilight, even though she has been dust for seven hundred years. The only griffin student I have ever had. One of her sons even sired the first hippogriff.”
She refurled her wing, turned her face back to Ardi.
“That was almost eight hundred years ago, with the griffins of the Northwest. Perhaps it is time to do the same with the wolves of Stalliongrad.”
Her voice changed back to its previous one, except now with a trace of whimsy.
“Now to answer your first question: No, you won’t be punished. You seem to have done a good enough job of punishing yourself as it is,” Ardi flushed pink in his ears at her words. “And you can stay in Canterlot, or Ponyville…”
Fluttershy squeezed him and squeaked; Applejack snorted. Ardi saw the palomino – and the blue pegasus – fall silent at a glance from the Princess. But judging by the way the earth pony’s hoof scraped against floor, he figured it might be best to stay away from Ponyville for a time.
“Or anywhere in Equestria you wish,” The Burning Queen – no, Princess Celestia – said. “I ask only one thing. That when you return to your wolf pack, that you tell them, tell all the wolves, that they may live openly and freely in my land rather than hiding in wild woods and caves and on lonely moors like scavengers. Just so long as they follow its laws. The old days are more than a thousand years gone. Neither my sister nor I will kill any of you simply for being. Please,”
Ardi’s ears pricked up. Was she pleading with him?
He looked at her, and for the first time saw a mare, not the black-armored and horned Burning Queen of puppyhood nightmares. A giant mare, horned and winged, crowned in gold and shining from within, who looked so very tired and a little sad.
“Please, young wolf. The old days are long gone. Discord is sealed in stone in the Royal Gardens, his subcreations now hunt only in the Everfree. I have lived for more years than even Twilight can count and I have become so very tired of being an object of fear to so many.”
Ardi put his head forward and nuzzled the alicorn’s snout. She nuzzled back, and the other ponies joined her.
“I…” Ardi began, then said, “I will, Burning Quee –” He broke off as she cocked an eyebrow at him. “I will, Princess Celestia.”
In our area, non denoms are almost always Word of Faith, not Baptist.
There’s an interesting pattern that I recognized a while back when I was working on a comprehensive list of Christian books about spiritual abuse that have been published since about 1990. I included books from every theological bent possible.
I didn’t do a list and run a tally, but it kept lodging in my memory and distilled out that the three *theological* problems mentioned most often were:
* Authoritarian leadership and some variation on the Shepherding Movement.
* Word of Faith with its sort of pray it, say it,don’t delay it — or conceive it, believe it, receive it — mantras!
* Prosperity gospel, where God’s blessing you/your ministry is validated with wealth.
It’s all insidious, but it does seem that maybe Word of Faith shows up more often in the charismatic zone of theology, while Prosperity Gospel in the most baptistic zone. Meanwhile, some form of Shepherding seems to undergird all malignant ministries and sick church systems. The worst of the worst will have all three conjoined in a “toxic trifecta.”
P.S. After I really started paying more attention to spiritual abuse survivor blogs starting in about 2008, it still took me something like three more years before I finally understood why those who’d been blogging on the subject kept saying, “The issue isn’t legalism, it’s authoritarianism.”
For those who are Narnia fans, maybe it’ll help to see legalism as a counterfeit of what Aslan does in singing the world into existence in *The Magician’s Nephew*. But instead of good things spring up out of the ground at the sound of His voice, all kinds of corrupt, evil, zombie-ish things spring out of the grounds from where authoritarian leaders sing out their commands.
This thing reads like a retail franchise opportunity. ARC states “It takes big money to plant a church”. Interesting. And here I always thought the model for church planting was established by that long-haired Nazarene with dusty feet walking the back roads of Galilee. Wow, what would the modern American church do without ARC.
In evangelical circles, yes. Especially in home school circles. Their brand of discipline permeates a number of churches. Seacoast has a very, very large home school association that is associated with it.
I’m Episcopalian, we have several families in our church – about as far from evangelical as you can get. That is how wide their influence is. Another church where I mentored a youth minister required all staff parents to take the Growing Kids God’s Way class and promote it. When the youth minister’s wive became pregnant, he and his wife were required to take the class. They lasted through 3 of the 10. The wife has a degree in early childhood education and was livid at what was taught. (http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/parenting-life-groups/)
Growing Kids Gods Way, Charleston have regular conferences and meetings: http://www.growingkidscharleston.org
Christian Schools here promote it too:
Evidently, they have kicked the Son of man to da proverbial ‘curb’?
Having noted, like you, that ARC believes that a churchplant is founded on money, one of the things that I find interesting is the “matched funding” model they use. That is, they do not fund the churchplant themselves, but match (up to a certain limit) whatever funds the churchplant is able to source from elsewhere. This is a common model used by many public-sector grant-awarding bodies, the idea being to encourage resourcefulness and initiative in the recipient organisations. Which is fair enough.
What is different about ARC is that most public-sector grant-awarding bodies do not expect to be repaid at all, never mind to receive a percentage cut of the fledgeling organisation’s ongoing long-term income. So it looks very much as though the matched funding model in use here is in place to reassure ARC that it will, in the long term, make money from the arrangement. With my charitable hat on, I can just about imagine some honest reasons for that. But at the very best, it suggests a deep-rooted friendship with money, which in Greek you might render philogyria – the word usually translated “love of money” in 1 Timothy 6. And it is a root of every kind of evil.
I went down those links. And here’s what I think about the insize of the Ezzos’ heads:
THE EZZOES LOOK UPON MOTHER-AND-BABY AS POWER STRUGGLE AND NOTHING OTHER THAN POWER STRUGGLE.
And in Power Struggle, there are only two possible end states: My boot stamping on your face or your boot stamping on mine. And the only solution if it isn’t is Double Down and STAMP HARDER.
We’ve all seen societies and groups centered around Power Struggle Uber Alles. Do you really want your family to be like that? Do you really want your kids’ first memories to be that Kill or Be Killed Stomp On or Be Stomped On of Who’s In POWER? Do you really want your kid to be trained via osmosis that POWER is all there is or all that really matters? How being in POWER means everything is done to YOUR convenience? And how POWER consists of inflicting suffering upon the Powerless?
If so, he might have a position in Pyongyang or Game of Thrones but probably not anywhere else.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I have noticed that legalistic, cult-like groups have no room for love (I don’t mean the “love” that followers are told to have for the leader of some authoritarian group – that doesn’t count). But legalistic movements are threatened by love, probably because,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
If you are based in fear then punishment is your greatest tool or weapon. Rules are like ammunition for a weapon. Rules give you power. If you are based in fear, then everyone is your enemy – the only way you can “win” is to use and make rules to leverage punishment against everyone else.
I’m not good with a virtual keyboard – extraneous characters appear, words disappear, and copy and paste does all sorts of random things with my Android tablet.
Interesting. I see what you mean. Some charismatic (I mean that with a small “c”) preacher claims to have power to be a broker of God’s blessings to you – but this “grace” has a price… There sure are places like that. But what I was thinking of is, everyone I know who goes to a non denom church has described to me pretty much the same thing. The service is centered around the preacher. The main thing of a sermon is to get the unsaved to make a “decision” for Christ. The success of the church is at least partly based on how many such decisions are made. Baptism is only for those who have made a profession of faith. Communion is infrequent and it is solely symbolic and a memorial and – most importantly – grape juice – no wine! The church probably claims to take the Bible “literally.” The non denom church will likely teach some form of dispensationalism – this might or might not have a big emphasis. It might insist on Young Earth Creationism. All of these things you find in most Baptist churches, but a non denom church service will more resemble a rock concert only with preaching, and the preacher might be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt rather than a coat and tie. These are the non denom churches I know about that claim to be conservative. I know there are other non denom churches that have a more progressive, social Gospel take on things. But they will also have ideas similar to the Baptists about baptism and communion.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
As usual, you cut to the middle and call out the cr@#. It is all based out of the hierarchy that these folks believe exists under God. The number of times I've heard "train up a child" and "rear means rear" makes me want to pull out my Strongs Concordance and apply it to their seat of learning.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
I appreciated that comment if only in that you were prepared to believe the best rather than assuming the worst (whilst obviously not wanting to be gullible).
I’ve seen the opposite of this far too many times in my Christian experience, sadly.
In such a hierarchy, you either Hold The Whip or you Feel The Whip, nothing in-between. And just like the one neo-Nazi I encountered in my college years, guess which one “these folks” place themselves into by Divine Right?
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Yes, this. GKGW portrays family life as a struggle for supremacy between parents and children because the children are born desiring to usurp the parents’ authority in the home. Game of Thrones indeed. The fact that they sell this stuff with our Lord’s name on it really is upsetting.
The scariest part of the Ezzo/Pearl/VF style of parenting for me was the emphasis on training children to distrust their own thoughts and feelings because “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” Breaking down and switching off someone’s self preservation instincts is dangerous, but it appears to be essential to the success of authoritarian homes and churches. They sell it as obeying Jesus’ command to lay down one’s life a and take up one’s cross.
That is just purely awful. Of all places, how did it come to this in the US?
It’s all promoted as wanting to be with others who are like-minded and wanting to glorify God. So they get young parents to sign up for classes under the “godly pretense” banner. It really is like communism for Christians. I had the entire series of books. I quit following the advice when my conscience started bothering me and all the books have been long in the trash bin. The pre-teen information was disturbing just in the fact that they wanted parents to never use anatomical names for anything. They seemed to think it was all too vulgar for Christians. They promoted the birds and the bees language which is simply bizarre to me and wouldn’t help with the awkwardness of puberty nor conveying truth to my children. I never even read the later teen year information after that.
When a *ministry* is too authoritarian for the authoritarians, watch out.
The fact that two churches in this area disciplined and excommunicated the Ezzos should prompt anyone considering their matierials to back away slowly, then RUN.
And if you’re in a church where this is the standard parenting MO and you don’t goose-step into line, your salvation is always questioned. Your volunteering may be welcomed but you’re never really accepted socially. Your kids never get invited to the other kids’ parties, and they don’t come to your kids’ parties.
I actually knew a family whose home business was making a portable rubber spanking device. People called it *the Whacker*.
Please be careful with this, Ken, especially here. There are many of us who have repeatedly thought the best only to have the hammer brought down on us for no good reason. We are justified, I think, in being cautious about putting ourselves in that position again. It’s why I’m not in church. I don’t trust people who say one thing and mean something else and don’t play by their own rules. I’ve been blamed one too many times to believe the best without good evidence.
They trade on the good intentions of the parents who want the best for their children. The parents want guarantees when God does not promise outcomes. But magic formulas sell very well because magical thinking has not been outgrown and replaced by mature critical thinking and examining the Scriptures.
If our pastor or our mom’s group recommends it, then it must be good. How many kids have run from the faith because they think God has wooden spoons tucked away everywhere and is looking for them to do the least little thing so he can give them a good whacking.
So they control access to food, whap on the children and lie to them. And they do this in the name of Jesus. Mind boggling.
I can very much identify with that. It was only small comment, but I deliberately added the phrase ‘without being gullible’.
What I had in mind was judging motives, where I have had the experience of other believers automatically assuming the worst rather than believing the best of things I have done or said. It’s not nice if you are genuinely concerned about something for others to assume you are deliberately stirring up trouble, for example.
I appreciate your thoughts and agree. Speaking for myself, if I have been wounded by a person because that person believes a particular thing, then I react strongly against that belief or practice as a matter of self-protection.
If someone else comes along and says that they don’t believe what the damaging person believes and I believe the best of that person only to find out that they treat me exactly like the first one did and for exactly the same reason, then I’m going to be very suspicious of anyone else who tells me that. And the subsequent people said the first persons were wrong so they added hypocrisy to the mix. It makes for a bit of paranoia and perhaps unwarranted suspicion, particularly when the same scenario plays out time and time again.