Matt Chandler – Pastors aren’t in it for the money!

My thanks to Anna, author of the blog “No Eden Elsewhere,” for forwarding much of the valuable content I have included in this article today. She has done a marvelous job exposing abuse in her blog and if you haven’t seen it I would encourage you to check it out. -TW

Here is a recent clip of Matt Chandler, the lead pastor at The Village Church, giving a Sunday morning talk to his faithful followers.

Unsurprisingly, Chandler takes a shot at social media, indirectly blaming them for people leaving church. Chandler stated that “Church has always been a mess, there’s just social media now.”  He is correct in saying church has always been a mess, but I would argue that social media is simply the medium people in our day utilize. Unquestionably it’s a very effective medium, getting news out nearly instantaneously on a global scale. In the Apostle Paul’s day he had to pen letters on parchment and then have them hand delivered. Martin Luther had to put pen and ink to paper and then nail his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. No telling how many people left the Roman Catholic church due to Luther pointing out the corruption among church leadership. Reaction by church leadership in 1517 was not unlike the reaction we see today from the Evangelical Celebrity Pastors such as Matt Chandler.

What I will question today is the statement made by Matt Chandler from the video above:

“They’re (pastors) not in this for money, or power.”

Chandler’s statement is what I label a “broad-brush” statement. Just as it would be foolish of me to claim that all 700 Acts 29 pastors are in it for the money or power, so too, it’s foolish for Chandler to claim that 700 Acts 29 pastors are not in it for the money or power. Chandler has enough life experience to know that among 700 pastors there will be a percentage of them in ministry with ulterior motives.

With this in mind, I want to draw your attention to some items that got my attention. The individuals I mention may or may not be chasing money and/or power. I simply want to lay some things on the table and folks smarter than I can investigate further and perhaps come to some intelligent conclusions.

You will recall that in an article I wrote last week titled “My Visit to The (it takes a) Village Church,” I mentioned Chandler in relation to a company that he had a financial interest in called “Texas Craft Steaks.”  In researching the company it appears Matt Chandler and his business partner, Lance Autrey, owned the company from 2017-2019. The company still exists, but under different ownership.  I have emailed the company and asked them whether Matt Chandler is still a part of the company, but as of this writing I have not received a response.

Below is a screenshot from “Relevant” in 2019 naming Chandler and Autrey as co-founders of Texas Craft Steaks.

Here is a screenshot of Lance Autrey’s “Linked in” account showing the dates he was the “Chief Executive Officer” of Texas Craft Steaks.

Who is Lance Autrey? He is a chiropractor and an entrepeneur who has apparently started up many companies. In conducting research it appears he currently is involved with about 10 different LLCs.

Autrey states below that he attends the Village Church in Highland Park. It is unclear how or why he became business partners with Matt Chandler, but Chandler is not the only individual in Christian ministry that Autrey has worked with.

It appears not all of Autrey’s business ventures have been successful. Below are two LLCs that are no longer in existence due to tax forfeiture. Note that Ranch Development Partners has Autrey and Zachary Allen listed as Managers. Zachary Allen is a former pastor, but more on that later.

Chandler is also involved in another LLC with Autrey called Armis Dei.  I couldn’t discover what this business does. Armis means “arms” and Dei means “God” in Latin, so it could be a Christian organization as in “you are safe in the arms of God”, or perhaps it is a firearm company. If anyone knows please advise me in the comments.

Around the same time Chandler got invovled in Texas Craft Steaks he and two other pastors from The Village Church started an LLC called SomaSolutions. The company was dissolved in April 2020. The other two pastors were Josh Patterson and Brian Miller. Patterson was the main man in the recent TVC church service where the announcement of Chandler’s indiscretions were announced. I am not familiar with Brian Miller. He is no longer pictured on the web page of The Village Church in Flower Mound, but perhaps he is a pastor in one of the spin-off campuses. Again, anyone with knowledge of this please advise me in the comments.

Here is a partial listing of companies Lance Autrey has been a part of:

Note that right below Matt Chandler’s name in the connections section is the name Shane Everrett. Shane is on staff at Watermark Community Church and worked with Matt Chandler in his pre-Village Church days.

In 2020 Matt Chandler became involved in a non-profit called “Schoolhouse Mountain Retreat.” Below is a listing of those involved in this organization. Matt Chandler, Lance Autrey, and Zachary Allen, among others are listed as Directors.

The address on file for the Schoolhouse Mountain Retreat is Zachary and Jennie Allen’s home address. Matt Chandler is listed as the Director.

I could find no information on Schoolhouse Mountain Retreat. They are required to file a 990, but GuideStar had no record of the form.  It could be because the IRS is backed up and has not yet posted the form.

I now want to move on to Zachary (Zac) and Jennie Allen. Based on their appearance on some of these LLC listings they appear to be friends with Matt Chandler.

Here is some information on the couple.

Zac Allen was the founder and lead pastor of Austin Bible Fellowship. The church was merged into Austin Stone Community Church. I am unsure if Zac continued pastoring or if he went right into investing.

I had never heard of Zac or Jennie Allen prior to researching this story, but Jennie Allen seems to be a bible teacher similar to Beth Moore. She has written several books and is reportedly worth $16 million.  I have no idea whether that wealth was accumulated through Christian book sales, etc., investments, or inherited.

Jennie Allen’s latest book is “Find Your People” and she has spun off a study guide and a booklet for small groups. She also has a podcast based on the book.

Matt Chandler seems to be familiar with her book as he has used the phrase “find your people” in one sermon and quoted her in another sermon.

“IF Gathering” is Jennie Allen’s non-profit organization. In addition to Zac and Jennie Allen listed as directors there is also an individual named Larry Cotton.

You may recall that Larry Cotton was an assistant pastor at the church where Jules Woodson was sexually abused by Andy Savage.  When Jules told her story publicly Larry Cotton was on staff at Austin Stone – the church that had merged with Zac and Jennie’s church.

Based on this I find it highly suspect as to why, in 2021, the Allens named Larry Cotton a director of Jennie’s non-profit.

I realize this is a lot of information to dump on you, but I believe I have barely scratched the surface of all these connections. I hope readers to can add information to what is found here.


Comments

Matt Chandler – Pastors aren’t in it for the money! — 132 Comments

  1. Matt Chandler is one busy man. It takes a lot of energy to pastor a church as large as TVC. Then add to that having all these ideas and such for these other companies.

    I really do admire the energy.

    But if I were a member at TVC I would kind of wonder.

    I would not want to attend a church where the pastor had all of these side deals and businesses.

    But we really don’t know anything about these businesses. They could be innocuous.

    An example. WA Criswell, longtime pastor of First Baptist Dallas was not known as a wealthy person, even after decades of ministry.

    Until a layman, Jack Pogue, who had become a Christian under Dr. Criswell’s ministry, put Dr. Criswell in some businesses. Criswell did not participate in the operation of businesses, but he did share in the profits. And Pogue remained Criswell’s friend until Criswell died. Pogue even personally attended to Criswell for months during his last illnesses.

    But this stuff with Chandler has a much different feel.

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  2. After decades of following Christ, I am rethinking much about the Christian book business and am thinking about a new perspective.

    I can’t say I’ve come to a firm conviction, but I’m moving in this direction.

    It’s called the “Dorean Principle”, based on a Greek word.

    It holds that the true principle behind proclaiming the Gospel and Christian teaching should be that it’s free. That people shouldn’t charge for the Gospel and Christian teaching.

    Churches, Christian ministries, parachurch organizations, authors should be funded by donations, not fees. Support should be from co-laborers, not customers.

    The promoters argue that this standard was the primary standard used in the NT to tell the difference between sincere and insincere teachers.

    This is a very interesting video about the idea.

    https://youtu.be/S8N5l0dX-Ws

    The prima

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  3. Oracle at Delphi: It holds that the true principle behind proclaiming the Gospel and Christian teaching should be that it’s free. That people shouldn’t charge for the Gospel and Christian teaching.

    Churches, Christian ministries, parachurch organizations, authors should be funded by donations, not fees. Support should be from co-laborers, not customers.

    The promoters argue that this standard was the primary standard used in the NT to tell the difference between sincere and insincere teachers.

    Completely agree. All of the costly accoutrements for Christian living, IMHO, are completely unnecessary.

    What is necessary are the gifts, GIFTS, of the Holy Spirit to church members for the church: Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4. Gifts are FREE by the way. No one pays for a gift.

    In our capitalistic society, our church culture has substituted purchases of stuff for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are bombarded with gotta have this book, that music, go to those conferences, chase after that leader, videos, tapes, whatever can be sold for a profit ETC., so we can become better disciples of Jesus. This is an outright lie.

    Jesus and his disciples sold NOTHING. There are no money transactions to following Jesus. NONE.

    There are a few wealthy people like Zacchaeus or like the rich young ruler, however, who may need to hand over their profits to the poor, in following Jesus.

    Following Jesus is never about making money. Sharing about following Jesus is never for profit, for money.

    Salvation is a gift. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the church through individual church members, making the Holy Spirit gifted church budget at $0.00. Jesus and his disciples NEVER collected money or raised funds.

    If a church org group of people have enough resources to own buildings and pay staff, perhaps it’s OK, if that is how God has directed them to use their resources. However, for church people who cannot afford these accoutrements, buildings and staff are clearly NOT necessary, according to the NT model. People can do church without money, because clearly Jesus and his disciples did.

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  4. “The Lord directed those who preach the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14 AMP)

    “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but I, the Messiah, have no home of my own — no place to lay my head” (Matthew 8:20 TLB)

    “The Lord appointed seventy others … The harvest is abundant for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation, but the workers, those available to proclaim the message of salvation are few … I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not carry a money belt, a provision bag, or extra sandals … eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10 AMP)

    Ministry in the 21st century has little resemblance to this. I realize things have changed a lot since Jesus gave that commission, but I wonder how many pastors today would be willing to accept the above compensation package if God required them to?

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  5. Ava Aaronson,

    “People can do church without money, because clearly Jesus and his disciples did.”

    I agree with the sentiment here for sure. Christian ministry should not be a for-profit enterprise, and holiness/spiritual gifting/blessing cannot be purchased. I do want to point out, though, that Jesus and co. had financial support from well-to-do patrons (and patronesses). And there is the principle that the laborer is worthy of their wages. IMO churches need to compensate staff fairly, and not expect volunteers to carry staff level workloads. Not doing so creates its own serious problems.

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  6. CMT: IMO churches need to compensate staff fairly, and not expect volunteers to carry staff level workloads.

    I’m no longer a Southern Baptist since the NeoCals took over, but during my long tenure (I was a 70+ year member), I felt that the healthiest churches spiritually in the SBC were in rural America, led by bivocational pastors. Those small bodies of believers rose to the occasion with various gifts God had given them to come alongside their part-time pastor/full-time secular employee to do Church pleasing to God … not all, but a lot of them. Their pastors served in obscurity, never reaching Chandler-status and never trying to.

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  7. Ava, I’ve thought about that issue as well–salvation is free, as is prayer and healing. We don’t need conferences, videos, books, etc. in order to follow Jesus Christ.
    A couple of pastors that I know donate all proceeds from the sales of their products to their church, or for legal reasons, a charitable organization. The figures regarding proceeds are stated in the annual financial report for their church. They give away copies of their work as well.
    And, unless you’re a “big” name, the great majority of authors who publish “Christian” books (myself included), are lucky if they receive any royalties or proceeds for the hours of hard work creating the content. Personally, I’m fine with that, since writing and publishing rarely makes you rich. I’m reaching the point where I’m not sure I even want to write for or be a part of so-called “Christian” publishing.

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  8. Todd
    I am so glad you put this down in a post. It really hit me just how extensive this stuff is. When does Chandler have time to do the sermon? I wonder if he gets any help with that part of his life? Who knows? No wonder thos last years of his life were overwhelming. It makes me tied just reading what’s going on.

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  9. Oracle at Delphi: It holds that the true principle behind proclaiming the Gospel and Christian teaching should be that it’s free. That people shouldn’t charge for the Gospel and Christian teaching.

    Every church I have ever belonged to works via voluntary donation of amounts determined by the giver. Some people contribute a lot of money, some a little, and some give none at all.

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  10. Dee, there actually is an organization that will write sermons for pastors for a hefty fee. I’m not naming the company, but I think some SBC pastors used it. There was a brief scandal ago. Back in the day I proofread and lightly edited a couple of books for a pastor. I can attest that he spent hours writing them.

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  11. Ava Aaronson,

    I think you are mistaken. Different early churches had collections for other churches including Jerusalem as can be seen in Acts and several of the letters.
    As for continuing gifts, Chrysostom writes in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, that they”ceased years ago.” (When discussing the identity of the man of sin. ) This view didn’t start in the Reformation. (I came across it last night as I was finishing my studies in 2 Thessalonians in the Orthodox Bible).
    Back to the Word of God. It plays a vital role in the life of the church and is handy corrective for those who feel they’ve worked everything out without it.

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  12. The idea of the clergy being professionals, and therefore needing that level of support, is definitely not biblical.

    I have come to believe the whole idea of clergy is bogus. However, I will say there are many old time Baptist (not SBC) churches in Appalachia and the Ozarks that do have “preachers.” They do not run the church, do the counselling, or any of the other jobs of the body. They receive no pay. A few do receive gas money if they go preach far from home for a short time, such as special meetings.

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  13. Max,

    I have not met many bivocational pastors. The ones I do know seem to be among the more humble and down to earth of the pastors I’ve met. I’m sure there are a lot of positives to keeping one foot in the workaday world, and not being fully dependent on a church role for one’s income.

    On the con side, it is easy for bivocational ministers or highly involved volunteers to be pushed past their limits, essentially ending up with two full time jobs (one of which probably pays poorly if at all). I’m thinking of a youth pastor’s wife I knew who was expected to act as her husband’s unpaid assistant in his ministry role, while also being a homemaker and primary caregiver for their three young kids. It was a recipe for burnout and caused her a lot of harm. I don’t necessarily think we need more full time church staffers, but IMO it is very important for churches to make sure that those who care for the community the most are also cared for themselves.

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  14. CMT: it is easy for bivocational ministers or highly involved volunteers to be pushed past their limits, essentially ending up with two full time jobs (one of which probably pays poorly if at all).

    Agreed. Attending church should be a refreshing experience (joy in the Lord), not exhausting. In my younger years, I volunteered for a lot (teaching, bus ministry, building projects, etc.). After reaching near-burnout, I learned to say “No” … it was liberating! I once had a worship pastor (who was recruiting folks for a Christmas program) tell me “God told me that you are supposed to take the lead role” … to which I responded “Hmmm, God didn’t tell ‘me’ that!” and declined the deceptive offer.

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  15. Oracle at Delphi: Chandler uses Docent or other sermon preparers.

    Oh, well, then he needs all those business ventures to pay for them!

    I’m not a big fan of the Message version of the Bible, but I like how it translates Jeremiah 23:30:

    “I’ve had it with the ‘prophets’ who get all their sermons secondhand from each other. Yes, I’ve had it with them. They make up stuff and then pretend it’s a real sermon.”

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  16. Money from co-laborers would include donations from congregant, Christians to other congregations to ministries, missions, writers etc.

    Customers would be those who are charged money in order to obtain a book, attend a conference, get a tape etc.

    The argument is not that Christians can’t give money to other Christians, but that the money should be based on a unity of belief and mission.

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  17. some thoughts on “in it for the money” —

    In recent weeks I have been watching a Korean period drama called “Dae Jang Geum”, which is set in the 16th century court of the Emperor of Korea. It’s a touching story, but also sorrowful.

    Something that is made clear early in the story is that nearly all of the Emperor’s advisors and administrators, on whom he relies for the running of the Palace and the implementation of his rule over the nation, are corrupted in some way, using their positions of power for personal advantage more than for right administration of the Emperor’s rule.

    I think it’s widely recognized that public service vocations ought not to be used for personal advancement at the cost of the public good. I think that this is widely recognized to be also be true of christian ministry vocations.

    The thought occurs that it isn’t just public service and christian ministry vocations that ought to be fundamentally about being agents of God’s blessing to others. Essentially all vocations ought to be thought of in this way (trying to think “christianly” about “vocation”). When vocation is regarded to be mostly about “serving my interests by providing for my needs”, perhaps something has gone wrong — perhaps one has lost sight of one’s neighbors, or has stopped loving them.

    Perhaps it’s another aspect of the consequences of the Fall.

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  18. Ava Aaronson: In our capitalistic society, our church culture has substituted purchases of stuff for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are bombarded with gotta have this book, that music, go to those conferences, chase after that leader, videos, tapes, whatever can be sold for a profit ETC., so we can become better disciples of Jesus. This is an outright lie.

    Unregulated capitalism, as well as a far-right political ethos is as woven into their culture (fundagelicalism) as the warp fibers on a modern textile loom.

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  19. a ‘steak’ company

    alas, if only that venture was meant to prosper the hungry poor

    I guess we all have our priorities

    and when did ‘preachers’ start acting like ‘entertainers’ on ‘stages’????

    you wonder sometimes if certain congregations have ever heard ‘the Word’ spoken in reverent voices? one hopes that the Holy Spirit works with what there is for the sake of our souls, and such is ‘grace’ that we CAN hope for this

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  20. Samuel Conner,

    It is called “Conflict of Interest”, and as a professor at a “evil, secular humanist” state institution, I am up to my ying yang in “conflict of interest” forms/policies/procedures that I have to deal with…
    Like it seems to all to often, tge secular world is ahead of the “evangelical world” when it comes to oversight of “moral” issues..

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  21. I’m not at all competent to say what is happening with Texas Craft Steaks so maybe someone with a business brain can explain the following:-
    CorporationWiki notes
    11/7/2019 Certificate of Formation
    11/23/2021. Reinstatement

    “Texas Company Reinstatement

    Forfeited Existence is an inactive status indicating that the Texas corporation or limited liability company failed to file its franchise tax return or to pay the tax due thereunder. Status is changed by secretary of state when certification of the delinquency is received from the comptroller of public accounts.

    A Texas company forfeited under the Tax Code can reinstate at any time, so long as the entity would otherwise continue to exist by:

    Filing the required franchise tax report
    Paying all franchise taxes, penalties, and interest
    Filing an application for reinstatement
    A Texas company that was terminated for non-tax reasons:

    Voluntarily – can only be reinstated within 36 months of being terminated.
    Involuntarily – has no time limit to be reinstated after being terminated. However, it will only be considered to have continued in existence without interruption if the entity is reinstated within 36 months of being terminated”

    Does this mean that they didn’t pay their taxes or something like that? And that is why there are new owners in the company – James P Russell, Jon Douglas, Matt Russell?

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  22. Searching for Matt Chandler, CorporationWiki notes that as Matthew L Chandler he is President of Acts29 Network, Director of First Baptist Church of Highland Village, and a “Person” at The World Village. As Matthew Chandler he is a Member at Texas Craft Meats LLC, and a Member at Armis Dei LLC. Armis Dei is Latin for the arms ( weapons) of God.

    CorporationWiki is free to register with and it does good connection diagrams. Mr Matthew L Chandler has 34 connections.
    https://www.corporationwiki.com/Texas/Flower-Mound/matthew-l-chandler/32489382.aspx

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  23. Is Acts 29 adding to God’s word, or just foolish Calvinists thinking, incorrectly, that they can drive a Christian narrative. The underlying issue is that Calvinists think they know a secret. They think they sing from a songbook that is true. But it’s not true. John 3:16. Matt Chandler is a Calvinist, that’s the antithesis. Calvinism hews to the world, that’s it’s true habitation because they cannot truly understand grace and love. Galatians 3:28 is God’s word and we have complementarianism? Really?

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  24. CMT–I have known more bivos than full time preachers, along with those who just preach supply. It was from one of them I first learned this thought: nobody is paying our SS teachers, who often put in long hours of prep time. Nobody is paying (yeah, back in the day)the pianist or the song leader. And the pianist is open how many hours of practice she does a week. Why pay the preacher more?

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  25. christiane: when did ‘preachers’ start acting like ‘entertainers’ on ‘stages’???

    I suppose there have always been entertaining ministers and ministries, but from my old vantage point, church as entertainment took root in the American in the 1950s. The Great God Entertainment is now preferred over the One True God. Americans need amusement and they can find it in most communities across the nation on Sunday morning, in churches which serve up the unholy to supposedly the holy. Such places have crowded out the serious things of God to provide theater for the masses who sway to the beat of the drum, listen to shallow sermonettes from unqualified pastors, and give standing ovations to sinners.

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  26. Max: I once had a worship pastor (who was recruiting folks for a Christmas program) tell me “God told me that you are supposed to take the lead role” … to which I responded “Hmmm, God didn’t tell ‘me’ that!”

    “God Told Me That…” should be approached with the same forethought and caution as “Please Castrate Me.”

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  27. Rick Dale: Is Acts 29 adding to God’s word, or just foolish Calvinists thinking, incorrectly, that they can drive a Christian narrative. The underlying issue is that Calvinists think they know a secret.

    Gnostic = “He Who KNOWS Things”.
    Occult = “Hidden, Secret” as in “Speshul Sekrit Knowledge known only to a Special Few Illuminati.”

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  28. christiane: like ‘entertainers’ on ‘stages’

    Christian entertainment in the first century was much different. Christians entertained the Romans by being thrown to wild animals in arenas, becoming human candles for Nero’s garden parties, crucified on crosses along roadways. Yep, the dudebros have it easy these days to work their aberrant belief and practice without persecution. Getting slammed on social media ain’t so bad considering.

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  29. Thanks for researching this. Its a perfect picture of “follow the money”. I think Jeannie Allen goes to Matt Chandler’s church in Dallas. She’s also good friends with David Platt. It is one tight network of people who look out for each other. They do speaking engagements together, and promote each other’s books. David Platt just spoke at a conference this summer with Jeannie Allen- I think in Atlanta for young adults.

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  30. CMT,

    I mentioned above, some church groups can afford buildings and paid staff. However, some cannot. Salaries and buildings aren’t essential, as the NT documents.

    We were missionaries overseas and worked with vibrant churches that had neither buildings nor salaries. God the Father, Son, and HS were present, however. Essential.

    As missionaries, our expenses were paid by supporters but we entered and left our positions with nothing. No money for us involved. We essentially donated our work and several years of our lives. This is close to how NT missionaries functioned.

    Collecting for widows, orphans, and the poor in our churches? Yes, that, too, is in the NT.

    Both supporting the bare basic needs of missionaries and collections for the poor, however, are a far departure from what goes on in our top heavy gilded institutional churches today.

    We were in a church for awhile that won national architectural awards for its campus and buildings. Lots of visitors showed up to have a look. I would never recommend elite architecture as a church priority.

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  31. linda:
    CMT–I have known more bivos than full time preachers, along with those who just preach supply.It was from one of them I first learned this thought:nobody is paying our SS teachers, who often put in long hours of prep time.Nobody is paying (yeah, back in the day)the pianist or the song leader.And the pianist is open how many hours of practice she does a week.Why pay the preacher more?

    I’ll grant you I’m not winning any music awards, but I’m the volunteer pianist for my (non-mega) church, and while I practice daily, I guarantee my (real) pastor is spending a LOT longer on his sermon than I am on piano practice. He’s working hard to be faithful to the text, clear, and helping us apply it. And he’s actually pastoring the individuals of the church in their various needs throughout the week. I have no problem paying him to be a real and actual pastor. But these guys who just stand up in a pulpit once a week, often preaching something written by a sermon prep service or plagiarized from some other speaker, are a different story.

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  32. Max: Christians entertained the Romans by being thrown to wild animals in arenas, becoming human candles for Nero’s garden parties, crucified on crosses along roadways.

    These were all Roman forms of execution. And nobody did public execution snuff shows like the Romans.

    “Thrown to wild animals in the arena” was a snuff version of “the wild beast hunt” events, just with condemned criminals (often deliberately crippled and bloodied beforehand) instead of trained Bestiarii (gladiators experienced in hunting/fighting animals).

    “Becoming human candles” — the tunica molesta — being burned alive in this particular manner was the punishment for arson; as Nero’s propaganda blamed this new cult for burning down Rome in the Great Fire, it was deemed appropriate.

    (As far as anyone can tell, the Great Fire was accidental; Nero actually ordered government relief for those made homeless, but made a couple blunders and ended up eminent-domaining the entire burned area to build his new Imperial palace, the Domus Aurea. This did NOT endear him to the Romans who got displaced, so the rumor spread that Nero had started the fire to clear the land for his pleasure palace. Rumors that included giving Caesar the tunica molesta. Nero (who was much younger than people think, at the time he was in his mid-twenties) had to find someone to deflect the mob – to paraphrase Sabaton, “Caesar’s orders were precise: Who was to be blamed and Pay the Price?” The human torches for his garden parties were one of the things that turned Romans further against him, as it became more and more obvious that Caesar was doing this to deflect the rumors and nothing more.)

    As for “crucified on crosses along roadways”, the cross was the standard method for torture-killing lowlifes (Roman citizens were beheaded with a sword or strangled by a leather strap). And crucifixions along the roadways were THE way to Make an Example; after the Spartacus rebellion was put down, the Appian Way was lined with crosses from Neapolis (Naples) to Roma (Rome). Wiwa Roma.

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  33. Lowlandseer: As for continuing gifts, Chrysostom writes in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, that they”ceased years ago.” (When discussing the identity of the man of sin. ) This view didn’t start in the Reformation. (I came across it last night as I was finishing my studies in 2 Thessalonians in the Orthodox Bible).
    Back to the Word of God.

    You need to look at what you wrote. Some long dead experts in the N.T. contradict scriptures and you raise their status above the Apostle Paul. The Orthodox Church in Russia is currently raping, torturing, killing, stealing, need I go on. Their head man came out of the FSB formerly KGB. You really need to pay attention to your sources. You left the Word of God, as you plainly stated. Prophecy and preaching die together along with all 18. Also, I have been used in all of the gifts at least once in my life. They are not dead. If they were then so is the Holy Spirit that gives it.

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  34. R: But these guys who just stand up in a pulpit once a week, often preaching something written by a sermon prep service or plagiarized from some other speaker, are a different story.

    Flying hither and yon in their private jets.

    Does your pastor have his own private airplane? Multiple residences? Pricey ripped jeans and fancy footwear? No? He manages to legitimately pastor without these accoutrements?

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  35. Ava Aaronson,

    “I would never recommend elite architecture as a church priority.”

    Agreed… and yet there is something undeniably compelling about a medieval cathedral!

    I’m pushing back a bit not because I think pastors, or missionaries, or churches should get rich and have grandiose buildings. It’s that I’ve been in churches where many hours of “free” work a week are demanded from people who don’t actually have the time or energy, and aren’t being adequately supported. But it’s fine because “it’s for Jesus!” No thanks to that.

    R,

    “he’s actually pastoring the individuals of the church in their various needs throughout the week. I have no problem paying him to be a real and actual pastor.”

    Yes, he’s being a shepherd, not just a speaker. It makes sense for that to be a paid job in most cases. I can’t remember where right now, but I know in one of the epistles Paul talks a lot about how those serving the church deserve financial support. But, that he himself chose to forgo that at times and pay his own way, to avoid burdening a church that was apparently impoverished. So it’s situational, too.

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  36. What is it that draws people to these guys (Chandler and others) and causes them to shell out their hard earned bucks?
    America is a consumer culture that’s why, and Chandler sells something that they’ll buy.
    If there was no market for what these guys sell, they’d dry up and blow away like autumn leaves.
    I think John Mellencamp put it best when he wrote:

    “Oh but ain’t that America for you and me.
    Ain’t that America something to see baby
    Ain’t that America home of the free
    Little pinks houses for you and me.”

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  37. CMT: churches where many hours of “free” work a week are demanded from people who don’t actually have the time or energy,

    IMHO, not church. Slavery. Abuse.

    God’s presence among his people has nothing to do with money and labor (Sunday should be a day of rest). The production you describe is not needed and never church.

    The Holy Spirit offers gifts to the church to be church. GIFTS. The rest is icing on the cake. Peripheral.

    Whoever came up with the cockamamie idea of a slave-driving, pricey, church production show was obviously not walking in the Spirit but the flesh.

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  38. CMT: there is something undeniably compelling about a medieval cathedral!

    Not for the slaves who built it.

    A friend from Europe said she grew up in a godless society and also felt for sure that God was NOT present in the fancy gaudy gilded monstrosities that were called “churches” in her childhood city.

    She volunteered to translate for a Jewish Messianic Rabbi that came to her city. From him, she learned the truth about Jesus and became a Christian.

    When we visit Europe, I think about her reactions to “church” in her European city of origin. Definitely merits pause.

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  39. dee:
    Todd
    I am so glad you put this down in a post. It really hit me just how extensive this stuff is. When does Chandler have time to do the sermon? I wonder if he gets any help with that part of his life? Who knows? No wonder thos last years of his life were overwhelming. It makes me tied just reading what’s going on.

    Brings to mind what was written about the schedules of David Platt (and Ed Stetzer):

    https://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/09/15/david-platt-may-be-many-things-but-he-will-not-be-a-pastor-to-the-people-at-mclean-bible-church/

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  40. Ava Aaronson: Does your pastor have his own private airplane? Multiple residences? Pricey ripped jeans and fancy footwear? No? He manages to legitimately pastor without these accoutrements?

    Speaking of pricey clothing and fancy footwear, check out the first five minutes of fluff from TVC this past Sunday.

    https://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/the-two-builders?mode=watch

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  41. Church embroidery is a rare art, difficult to master. I learned what I could through books, and bought materials from the few remaining sellers. I have sewn stoles, using traditional patterns and fabrics, and hand-stitched linens for Communion. It does my heart good to know that the items I made are used in worship services, and treated with care. These little works will outlive me.

    Worship items and worship places are often beautiful because people of faith express their devotion through their eyes and hands. The beauty of a church, whether a simple Quaker meetinghouse, or a Romanesque church, or a stone altar by a pond, is intended to offer glimpses of God through the work of human hands.

    Some traditions reject anything ornamental. Some reject instrumental music. Some forbid women to sing. To me, freedom in Christ means freedom to express ourselves through painting, stone carving, writing, singing, learning languages, playing the trumpet, dancing, gardening, volunteering, working.

    The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.

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  42. Friend: freedom in Christ means freedom to express ourselves

    And not lord it over others for pledges & peonage to do our projects.

    Establish the work of our hands – one prays … Psalm 90
    But idols are the work of human hands … Psalm 135

    Embroidery etc. can be nice, but is neither necessary nor required for church.

    Anything built by slaves, no matter the beauty of the outcome, is an abomination – just ask the slaves, if they even lived to see their slave labor’s results. Expressing oneself through the slave labor of others is evil. Nowadays these projects are bought and built via harnessing a cult following to pay.

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  43. Todd Wilhelm: the first five minutes of fluff

    I guess I wouldn’t call it fluff – it’s pretty hardcore transactional “gospel”: (he gets right to the point, which is your money in his pocket)

    “If this blesses you, send in your money. And support your local church” – buildings, salaries (overhead). Nothing about local church needy widows, orphans, and refugees (which the Bible says we should be addressing with resources, once we have cared for ourselves and our own).

    Re: needy widows, orphans, and displaced people, we can say it is all their own fault, ignore their needs, then fork over our paychecks to the preacher guys & their projects. But the Bible does not support this.

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  44. Ken F (aka Tweed): They cannot freely choose to do otherwise.

    This is just “bondage” — we can choose how to pursue what we desire, but we have great difficulty changing the fundamental orientation of our hearts’ desires.

    As to the cause of this, predestination is one possibility; there are others. From the perspective of one in bondage, it scarcely matters; what is needed is a liberation that he is unable to provide for himself.

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  45. Muff Potter: What is it that draws people to these guys (Chandler and others) and causes them to shell out their hard earned bucks?

    A touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks … not to mention free coffee/pastries in the foyer, superb audio/visual entertainment, cool band, and well-tuned praise & worship team. It’s the greatest show in Flower Mound TX where TULIP is displayed in all its glory.

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  46. R,

    Apologies in advance if this does not format correctly:

    R, you miss my point entirely. Yes, if your “pastor” does those things he should be paid accordingly. Just don’t call it church. You see, in doing those things he actually robs those called to do them of the opportunity to do it. The body of Christ should be doing those ministries. And our supply preachers did not need 40 hours a week to open the scripture to us. They put in, in their own accounting, roughly the effort the rest of the body was putting in doing the rest of those ministry jobs. In a truly Biblical group where EVERYONE does the work of the ministry, there simply is no need to support anyone for doing full time work, travelling evangelists like Paul excepted.

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  47. Ava Aaronson: Wonder if Jesus and the disciples had stylists? Image creators? Maybe that was more of a Scribes and Pharisees – who were not the good guys – thing in his day.

    Trying to find a sympathetic interpretation, perhaps one could regard this to be a kind of “adaptation to the audience”. Paul famously wrote that he had become “all things to all men, that by any means I might win some.”

    There’s a place for adaptations that lower barriers to the reception of a true message. Of course, it is possible to go too far and compromise with audience expectations that it would be better to oppose.

    Perhaps the deeper problem is that the message has become kind of detached from the messenger. “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” can’t really apply to the relationship between celebrity christian superstars and their followers. Are the followers supposed to themselves aspire to celebrity?

    I think the ministry model is all wrong.

    Speaking to large groups of people is more nearly the task of an evangelist than of a pastor of a congregation, who cannot shepherd people he doesn’t know well. Unfortunately, it seems that in large congregations, small-group ministry (which is notionally where ‘shepherding could’ take place) can get repurposed for social control — which is important in large groups with large expenses that must be funded.

    I don’t have high hopes for the future. There’s a Gresham’s dynamic of the bad driving out the good and I don’t see how that can be opposed at sufficient scale to change the direction of the future.

    Friend,

    Not intending to be contentious, but I think there is a problem, at least in principle, in later generations that inherit the benefits of things that were done in the past through questionable or downright evil means. An example is that many US corporations are descended from entities that in the 19th century benefited from slavery. Present-day profits, distributed to shareholders, are in part the consequence of the past history. I think that there is a taint, and one should at least be aware of it. If nothing else, one should strive to not repeat the sins of the past.

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  48. Friend:
    Ava Aaronson,

    You are coming close to saying that anyone who attends church in a well-designed building is a proponent of slavery, an idolator, and a deluded cult member. Is that your opinion?

    A Walmart-sized industrial tilt-up with a little church facade and steeple pasted onto its main entrance (all built as cheap as possible because It’s All Gonna Burn) is NOT a “well-designed building”.

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  49. Samuel Conner: Not intending to be contentious, but I think there is a problem, at least in principle, in later generations that inherit the benefits of things that were done in the past through questionable or downright evil means.

    “The two main ways to get rich are crime and inheritance. Your father does the crime and you inherit the benefits.”
    — Dilbert

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  50. Ava Aaronson: I guess I wouldn’t call it fluff – it’s pretty hardcore transactional “gospel”: (he gets right to the point, which is your money in his pocket)

    I think he was talking about the long monologue that follows the money request and the scripture, concerning the pastor’s experience doing a wardrobe make-over.

    Quite a few eye rolls from me on that one. And I suspect, that I am exactly the audience he was reaching for.

    1. It annoys me when guys claim to be useless in the style department. In most cases, it is learned helplessness AND/OR a certain form of stubbornness that has more to do with a weird concept of masculinity than it does with them not having a sense of “style.” They request help, and then it turns out they do have a very strong sense of what they are willing to wear. And they get all condescending about women being good at “these things.” Interestingly, it’s the one place these men will allow a woman to condescend to them.

    2. If the fellow likes his brown jacket, let him have his brown jacket. There are worse things in the world than someone with winter coloring wearing some fall colors. Furthermore, if his jacket is functional, fits, and he likes it, I see absolutely no good reason to spend money to replace it. And clearly, he’s a little sore over it, and should have put his foot down on keeping the jacket.

    That was a really weird and materialistic way of illustrating the concepts taught in the Parable of the houses built on Stone vs Sand. Nothing catastrophically terrible will happen if your jacket doesn’t match.

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  51. Friend: You are coming close to saying that anyone who attends church in a well-designed building is a proponent of slavery, an idolator, and a deluded cult member. Is that your opinion?

    I think that is a little strong. And I am an Architect, with a strong appreciation for beauty. My thesis for graduation, was a church. There is a time and a place for beauty, but there is also a long history within the church of over-emphasizing beautiful objects rather than human need, and even exploitation of humans to get the beautiful objects for the church. This goes along with confusing the emotional experience that a building (or any other works of the hands) can inspire with an experience with God. While I was working on my thesis, my professors really struggled with the idea that I was not trying to create a building that somehow inspired spiritual experiences. I was trying to create shelter for the purpose of God’s work. But at the end of the day, I understood, that God doesn’t need my shelter for His work.

    Beauty inspires me. Beauty is one of God’s gifts to humanity. Using my God given talents in voluntarily creating beauty, glorifies God, and can bless the church. But God works where and when and how God sees fit, and it doesn’t require my, or any other individuals talent to do so.

    I think that is Ava’s point: when you boil it down to the necessities, beautiful things are not on the list. I don’t see anywhere where she is saying that those things are inherently sinful (which other groups have definitely done).

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  52. Samuel Conner: I think that there is a taint, and one should at least be aware of it. If nothing else, one should strive to not repeat the sins of the past.

    And one of the issues discussed during the Reformation was the splendor of the Roman Catholic Churches (especially in Rome) built on the backs of struggling peasants’ tithes, offerings and indulgences.

    This is not a new idea at all. There are whole styles of church architecture built around the concept of simplicity. And that exists in response to the over-indulgence of other groups. Sometimes, they went so far as to call God given talent “sin.” But other-times they rightfully called out exploitation for it’s vanity.

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  53. Ken A: Mega church that is mainly about making business connections? What else is new?

    That’s one of the reasons I call the mega phenomenon Mega-Mania. The Leadership Network (Bob Buford, founder) played a key role in connecting religious mega players. Mark Driscoll said LN essentially launched the emergent church and offshoots of that (e.g., New Calvinism) by connecting all the dots to make it happen. Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and other mega leaders all credit LN for influencing their ministries … Mega-Mania is all about connections and networks of various sorts.

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  54. Mr. Jesperson: The Orthodox Church in Russia is currently raping, torturing, killing, stealing, need I go on. Their head man came out of the FSB formerly KGB. You really need to pay attention to your sources. You left the Word of God, as you plainly stated. Prophecy and preaching die together along with all 18. Also, I have been used in all of the gifts at least once in my life. They are not dead. If they were then so is the Holy Spirit that gives it.

    And God has spoken to me “0” times – there was a dream about amazing pancakes but that around the time I cut refined sugar from my diet.

    But seriously. man, those pancakes looked so fine, perfect stack with the square of butter on top…syrup perfectly moving down the sides in a divine slow motion cascade….oh yeah – the holy spirit spoke…

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  55. Didn’t JMacD have a bunch of LLCs? Seems odd that a pastor would be listed as one of two contacts but there is no info on some of the businesses.

    Also, is Matt normally this intense/angry in his preaching? I haven’t been a follower of Chandler so the only clips I have seen are on this site or Julie Roys’ site. All the clips I have seen are outakes where he is intense/angry.

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  56. ES,

    Well stated, and thx for sharing your story.

    We worshipped in a church that met in the shade of a tree in the Sahel. I believe they fully experience the presence and fullness of God, even in their sparse facility.

    A prayer lady at our church says, “If God is all you’ve got then God is all you need.”

    The anawim persevere regardless of circumstances, and they are the closest to, and most blessed of, God.

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  57. linda: In a truly Biblical group where EVERYONE does the work of the ministry, there simply is no need to support anyone for doing full time work, travelling evangelists like Paul excepted.

    Good point. And, as aforementioned, like Paul, when we were sent out as missionaries, we began and ended our mission with no money. During our tenure overseas, our needs were met by supporters. No more, no less.

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  58. ishy: I still believe that anyone who plant a church in an affluent area with the intention of creating and maintaining a megachurch is not doing it purely out of the generosity of their hearts.

    “The typical household in Flower Mound, Texas earns about $131,500 annually, the sixth most of any city. After adjusting for the area’s low cost of living, the median income in Flower Mound is the highest of any U.S. city.”

    https://www.wfaa.com/article/life/two-north-texas-suburbs-rank-among-americas-best-cities-to-live-in-study-says/287-483713346

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  59. Lowlandseer: Good day to you Sir.

    Good day to you too! I understood well what you said. I am well familiar with the doctrine of demons known as Cessationism. I admit it is a false doctrine based on bad logic that irritates me more than most any others, including Calvinism. This is because of what it says about the Godhead and where it leads logically if you follow it through.

    First of all, Paul speaks about a day where these gifts, and by that all 18 of them by count of another commenter here, no longer is needed. This is obviously at the end of this universe. We will not need them in the New Jerusalem for we will be perfect and God will no longer be hidden. Until then we need all of them to build Jesus’ actual Church. This is simple logic.

    But what really gets to me is that the Bible states that all of the gifts belong to The Holy Spirit. As long as they all operate all is well for these belong to this part of the Godhead, not us. But in history the institutions calling themselves God representatives got so corrupt that they were obviously not using any of the gifts properly. And the supernatural ones stick out like a sore thumb. So they came up with an excuse for their lack of the gifts. Blame the Holy Spirit.

    In my mind if you believe this doctrine taught by demons then you are either logically led to a place where, when you repeat these as “truth,” that you place yourself above the Godhead and tell Him what can and cannot be done. Or this leads believers to a place of Atheism where the H.S. is simply dead. I find this arrogant, rude in a very over-the-top way. The reality is that God is not deaf, dumb or powerless. He can do whatever He wants, whenever. All else is just making ourselves God. In my book nothing is as insulting to the H.S. then this.

    Some are led to this false doctrine because they have trouble logically thinking arguments through to their logical conclusion. Others want to believe this because they got burned in an Charismatic church or they visited and noticed that everything that was being called “supernatural” was a fake parlor trick. But this only proves that there is a whole lot of fake out there. That does not prove everything is fake. Just the opposite. Things that are real are copied for a reason. They are powerful. Hence the imitation. The reason that there are Bolex watches is because Rolex exists and they are very expensive. The Holy Spirit is alive and it does what it wants through humble and faithful vessels. The likes of John MacArthur has no power to stop that any more than the Devil does.

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  60. Carolyn: Also, is Matt normally this intense/angry in his preaching? I haven’t been a follower of Chandler so the only clips I have seen are on this site or Julie Roys’ site. All the clips I have seen are outakes where he is intense/angry.

    Chandler isn’t always angry, but you don’t have to search too long to find an “angry Matt” clip. He probably could use more sleep. He should read the book his fellow celebrity, Kevin DeYoung wrote titled “Crazy Busy.”

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  61. ES,

    Under the shade of the tree was not ugly but definitely minimalist and still beautiful.

    Folks freely offering talents of handiwork and such, neither ego-driven nor pressured, can be lovely,

    Leadership or church culture slave driving membership to produce stuff at their bidding or pay for stuff, not pretty.

    Churches or members with stuff throwing their weight around, also not pretty. Stuff never replaces the HS.

    Generosity with humility keeps efforts in the Spirit, not the flesh.

    The NT mentions NONE of the church accoutrements. They did eat together. Nothing about who brought the best apple pie or fried chicken to the potluck. Their relationships? That was a big deal.

    Eliminate all the stuff of church? Not necessary. Elevate the stuff? Also, not necessary.

    Revelation says to not lose our first love. Love God, love others as self.

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  62. Samuel Conner: This is just “bondage” — we can choose how to pursue what we desire, but we have great difficulty changing the fundamental orientation of our hearts’ desires.

    A better answer to the question than what I originally wrote would involve various psychological mechanisms such as Stockholm Syndrome, group think, loss aversion, sunk cost fallacy, narcissism, etc. It’s easier to get into a toxic environment than to get out of one, and it takes either desperation or uncommon humility to be able to admit to being wrong about all the investments into a toxic system.

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  63. Wild Honey: free childcare

    The kids are being indoctrinated in aberrant belief and practice in “children’s church” while their parents are swaying to the beat of cool worship music in the sanctuary and giving standing ovations to failed pastors. But, at least they have a break from the kids for a couple hours! And the beat goes on in Mega-Mania …

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  64. Max: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, that standard of behavior which He requires from us” (James 1:20 AMP)

    Does Chandler preach a God of Wrath?
    Always ready to SMITE! SMITE! SMITE! on a hair trigger?
    If so, he is being Conformed to the Image of his God.

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  65. Max: The kids are being indoctrinated in aberrant belief and practice in “children’s church” while their parents are swaying to the beat of cool worship music in the sanctuary and giving standing ovations to failed pastors.

    As someone who was “indoctrinated in aberrant belief” (the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Jack Chick) during my time in-country, I can attest that said aberrant beliefs NEVER completely goes away. Like Frodo after he bore the Ring.

    And that was coming into it as a teen (with arrested emotional development); imagine coming into that as a kid where you have NO prior life or experience to dilute it. Where you’d have NOTHING in your memories or personality that could counter it.

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

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  66. Headless Unicorn Guy,
    And you know what pulled me out of it?
    Discovering DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
    D&D gave me an anchor outside of Koinonia House Christian Fellowship(TM).
    Through D&D I met other nerds like me. I had connections and contacts that had NOTHING to do with KHCF.
    Now imagine if I’d been RAISED in their cult compound and knew nothing else.
    NO outside contacts. NO outside experience.

    No wonder these churches have all these “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” counterfeits/knockoffs of everything on the outside – your entire life and everyone you know and ever have known are part of that church. You are behind their Event Horizon, with NO outside connections and/or contacts among Those HEATHENS(TM). You have nowhere to go.

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  67. Ken F (aka Tweed): various psychological mechanisms

    Agreed.

    There’s something else that I think is even more fundamental, and that I don’t think about very often. It came up today in a link at my preferred news aggregator. The writer of the linked ‘blog,

    https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-narrative-matrix-hides-the-truth

    is probably way outside the range of views represented in most of the TWW commentariat, but I think the point she makes is valid. Shared narratives are powerful means of social regulation and control, and they don’t have to be true to be effective. The applications to the issue of ‘maintaining control over the membership’ in churches is obvious.

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  68. Ava Aaronson: Under the shade of the tree was not ugly but definitely minimalist and still beautiful.

    I kinda had a beautiful image in my mind. When I was a kid, we used to camp in some locations that provided a church service Sunday mornings. I’ve been to more than one Sunday service sitting on railroad ties arranged at pews, possibly set into a hill, and usually surrounded by trees. I always liked those services.

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  69. Headless Unicorn Guy: Then why do so many churches drive out their creative types?

    Because creativity is stifled by control freaks. Creativity requires freedom of some kind. Freedom and control are two things that cannot coexist in their extremes. The minute high level control enters the equation, the creativity of anyone other than the one in control is quashed.

    That is why “subversive” art exists. Control freaks drive it under ground with their straight jackets of rules.

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  70. Headless Unicorn Guy: Then why do so many churches drive out their creative types?

    Because it can only be allowed to be a certain type of creativity.
    One that is officially sanctioned by the hierarchy.
    Anything that celebrates our humaness for its own sake is frowned upon.
    Which is why you’ll never see, say, Van Gogh’s Thatched Cottages at Cordeville hanging in a Church foyer, but religious themed stuff from the old Italian masters will abound.
    I think that ES said it pretty well at 09:53 PM.

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  71. Max: Todd Wilhelm: Chandler isn’t always angry, but you don’t have to search too long to find an “angry Matt” clip.

    I once saw a bit where Chandler was interrupted a bit by his small daughter and he responded with annoyance towards her – that told me volumes about him

    I know that this was not ‘enough’ to judge someone’s character. But in the end, when the little one is grown, she will ‘remember’, as all children remember those moments when someone paid attention to them, whether it be compassionate or not . . . those moments imprint something, yes

    ‘They’ (whomever) should have edited that ‘interruption’ and ‘response’ out for the child’s sake, if nothing more.

    somethings bother us more than others and I remembered seeing that . . .

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  72. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “Another type that gets driven out are those who challenge the system by asking questions”
    ++++++++++++++

    what kind of person needs systems, and feels insecure (or unable to function) without them?

    what kind of person loves and needs systems so much they protect the system at the expense of human beings?
    .
    .
    a thought experiment:

    christianity is a system…

    is merely having faith a system?

    does having faith automatically enlist someone into a system?

    i hate systems… at the moment i sort of feel like running as fast as i can down the street…
    .
    .
    (but i have no problem being a US citizen – that’s a system.

    i have no problem abiding by the laws of the land – that’s a system)
    .
    .
    why is it i feel greatly disturbed about being in a religious system?

    (answer: it’s the people.

    human beings are marvelous to know and experience, but it seems religious systems tend to bring out the dogmatic worst in too many people.

    and cause people to be nervously afraid of so many things.

    …perhaps thus making them need the system.)
    .
    .
    christianity: a system that changes people so that they need the system.

    ???

    (and is there a word for such a system?)

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