“I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” [Ecc 9:13-18 NIV]
Jennie Allen, IF:Gathering Founder, Shares IF : Equip Vision from IF Gathering on Vimeo.
Let’s take a brief look at the “IF Gathering” money situation. The Non Profit cashed in on both rounds of the PPP loans/government handouts. The first loan was approved in May 2020 and IF Gathering complied with the requirements of the PPP loan therefore the loan was forgiven.
The second loan was approved in February 2021 and IF Gathering complied with the requirements of the PPP loan therefore the second loan was also forgiven.
I have ethical issues with Christian churches and para-church organizations taking free money from the tax payers of the United States, but that is an argument for another time. The point is IF Gathering netted $448,000 of free money from the PPP loans. But, as everyone knows, there really are no free luches.
Next I have some screenshots of the Revenue IF Gathering has reported on their 990 forms for 2019-2020. As you see below, the 2021 actual forms have not yet been released but the IRS has provided extracted financial data.
IF Gathering had a total revenue in 2021 of nearly $5 million. Not bad. The executive compensation was $315 thousand. Other salaries and wages was $940 thousand. The executives were not listed in this summary.
In 2020 Revenue was significantly lower but executive compensation was only $15 thousand lower while other salaries and wages were $210 thousand lower. You will also see the list of key employees and note that Jennie Allen, the founder, received a salary of $89 thousand. This is not totally accurate though, as I will explain in the 2019 form.
Immediately below are screenshots taken from the actual 990 form for 2019. I made the second screenshot large to make it easier to see. You will note that Zac Allen, Jennie’s husband, did not receive a salary but he did receive nearly $10 thousand of “other compensation.” This could be an automobile allowance, a housing allowance, or some other form of compensation besides salary.
You will also notice that Jennie Allen’s compensation is listed as $89 thousand, but she has other compensation in the amount of $20 thousand. So she is actually pulling down about $110K for the year.
The form below is a summary taken from the actual 990 which is partially shown above. It’s just like the summary for years 2020-2021.
So where does Matt Chandler fit into IF Gathering? Well, he is a featured speaker at IF Gathering gatherings and he also speaks in some of their podcasts. I would guess he is paid nicely for his services, but I have no way of telling what his take is.
Lauren Chandler is also a huge fan of Jennie Allen, as you can see from her endorsement below.
Follow the money is what always, always needs to be done. And please forget about all the things that people say. Only pay attention to what they actually do. There is where you will actually see where their heart is.
Great post, Todd.
That endorsement shouldn’t make me gag, but it does. Maybe the problem is with me. I don’t know. But it just doesn’t sound sincere. IMHO it’s too slick.
As a 42-year veteran of the advertising business, I recognize ad copy when I see it. That endorsement is ad copy. And I must admit that, as ad copy, it’s actually pretty good.
But that’s just it. Ad copy is (perhaps) somewhat tolerable when it’s peddling widgets. But when it’s peddling God Stuff, it’s kind of sick-making.
This is sickening, but not surprising.
“The Power to Change”
“How the Gospel Helps Us to Live Differently”
Actually, this appears to be not different from other self-help snake oil sales campaigns.
Jesus and His disciples were neither travelling salesmen nor self-help publishers.
The Gospel is the Good News as witnessed, lived, and shared FREE by Jesus, his followers, and God’s Holy Spirit.
The business of church including evangelism, discipleship, & fellowship, is NOT church. Hello…
Jesus, his disciples, and his followers had nothing to sell, and were not salaried. Room and board as they travelled about (a ride on a donkey thrown in here and there) is NOT salaried.
Hospitality for fellow church people: YES!
The Gospel as a means to wealth and affluence? No way.
The government may not recognize that the Gospel is neither a business nor a salaried endeavor.
However, followers of Jesus should recognize this and NOT be securing this “loans”.
I agree with Todd. Churches have no business securing PPP funds from the government, which is from taxpayers’ 9-5 earnings.
Whoever does this, it’s a big major tell.
Should the local mosque be securing these PPP funds from taxpayers? No. Keep the greedy tentacles of religion out of the taxpayers’ earnings.
Everyone can pay for their own religion. Or no religion.
In the case of Jesus’ followers, the accoutrements are not necessary. In meager times, fall back on God our Father, His Son Jesus, and God’s Holy Spirit – all FREE. Secure one Bible, a one time purchase. That’s it.
Of all religious systems and beliefs, Christians should be the ones leading the way on this. Unfortunately, in the US, Christians are soaked in and sold out to what money can buy: celebrities, social clubs, superficiality.
Money can never even approach the substance of what is spiritual: walking in the Holy Spirit following Jesus, with God as our Heavenly Father.
Methinks there is a correlation between the CT article and Todd’s posting. The more that the public views Christianity as money/politics/power, the more the public becomes more personally spiritual and less invested in the local church, even the good ones.
Inchurch “spiritual” formation around celebrity leadership and a society social club doesn’t qualify as spiritual formation (malformation, maybe?).
As it says in Revelations, First Love is lost in the mix.
Back to basics, then, for the Dones and Nones.
Skip the celebrity pastor middleman with his sycophants, aka the church social club.
Ava, you’re right–yet another snake oil campaign. Self-help and New Age garbage is increasingly flooding the church. Consequently, it’s increasingly difficult to find a church that emphasizes the word or offers sound expository teaching.
Dee, batten down the hatches–hope you’re safe from hurricane Ian.
“PPP loans/government handouts … I have ethical issues with Christian churches and para-church organizations taking free money from the tax payers of the United States, but that is an argument for another time”
Agreed. As we’ve learned, there has been lots of abuse of PPP loans (in the billions) … it’s not hard to believe that some “Christian” organizations took advantage of the opportunity. I guess separation of church and state and 501(c) status don’t apply in pandemics. But, government bailout of other entities got pretty extreme, with little oversight.
“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost!” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Which is why you don’t hear too many sermons along this line from the 21st century pulpit. Rich Religion is the name of the game in far too many corners of the American church.
You can’t buy the Holy Spirit! Simon the Sorcerer attempted to do this in the early church and Peter didn’t think too much about the idea:
“When Simon saw how the Spirit was given through the apostles’ laying their hands upon people he offered them money with the words, “Give me this power too, so that if I were to put my hands on anyone he could receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “To hell with you and your money! How dare you think you could buy the gift of God!” (Acts 8:9-25 Phillips)
Well, it’s increasingly clear that the Dones and Nones can’t find the basics in too many American churches these days (genuine faith, love for Jesus, love for each other, prayer, repentance, fellowship, seeking God, taking care of widows and orphans, evangelism, mission, etc.).
Ava, Max, spot on again!
I would like to see more people stand up with a resounding NO when we are told the rise of the dones is not the same as the rise of the nones. I would like to see an even louder NO when the decline of organized churches is seen as the decline of THE CHURCH.
I may be the beginning of finally doing church the way the Bible teaches.
The self-help/psychology section is the largest department in Christian bookstores.
fat fingers this morning, lol. Make that the telling them NO when the rise of the dones is seen as THE SAME as the rise of the nones.
All I see here is are fairly unremarkable tax filings for a non-profit. Certain Todd’s view that “I have ethical issues with Christian churches and para-church organizations taking free money from the tax payers of the United States” can be fairly debated… not sure these filings tend to prove or disprove that point, except as a general proposition equally applicable to all faith-based tax-exempt organizations (regardless of moral/theological alignment with TWW). To know if the wrongfulness insinuated here is being applied equitably by TWW authors, I’d be interested in seeing the Form 990s of the churches they deem as ethical in their finances. (This is of course a purely rhetorical interest… churches are explicitly excluded from the 990 filing requirement by section 6033 of the Internal Revenue Code).
Maybe they contracted with Draper’s firm from Mad Men?
And Biblical Counseling (AKA screaming weaponized Bible verses at them) is an improvement?
Best to avoid both like you would Ebola.
P.S. And when you get into NAR and Spiritual Warfare types, they’re not that different from the Shirley MacLaine set to begin with.
Which is why they’re Nones and Dones.
And if they were driven off by being on the receiving end of Weaponized Bible, Weaponized Jesus, and Godly Abuse, good luck getting them back. Would any Cold War refugee go EAST back over the Berlin Wall?
Back in the day (30+ years ago) I worked for a company doing business research. One project was analyzing the growth of “Christian” bookstores. My boss (who was a believer), called them “Jesus Lite” bookstores and actually labelled them as such in our final report. Personally, most of the serious theology books I own today I found in local used bookstores–not the Christian ones. How sad.
And Max, you’re right, psychology and self-help titles are huge in bookstores and libraries.
Also, we in the secular humanist state U’s have allot of oversight with respect to “conflict of Interest”… from what Todd has presented, it “would not be approved” if that structure was used by a faculty member…
And, while I go on about “conflict of interest” rules… they are needed… I have personally seen abuses…. And what Todd presented “smells”
But, when you do it in the “Evangelical Industrial Complex”, no need… heck, Mr Chandler said he is not it it for the money, so I should just believe him!!
I am using my name, so he will have call me something other than a “narcissistic zero”
Especially in that corner where 70 plus percent of fundamentalist-evangelicals chose ‘the Orange Jesus’ over Our Lord . . .
and spare me ‘the reasons’ why they did this, as none of them remotely make any sense except for the pursuit of power, and the greed for $$$$$
somewhere, some people got ‘confu$ed’ and thought they had to cow-tow before a ‘Golden Statue’ on their determined trip into the hell of fascism
Thank you for doing all this research. I agree about the ethical implications of taking loans from the government with no intention of paying it back. She makes a lot of money off of her books too. As many have said before, its all about the money. These “religious” people are no different from greedy, shady politicians.
Chandler preaches against narcissism while demonstrating a narcissistic personality.
For years, I have used a similar term to describe the shallowness in much of the American church … “Christianity Lite”
Please pray, ya’ll. We have a college freshman grandkid in Daytona Beach. She is currently self evacuating to a friend in Orlando. She is used to small town (around 6000?) traffic. She is a capable driver and pretty good pilot to boot, so should be able to handle this, but grandma is a nervous wreck lol. Daytona campus is fairly close to the ocean, and there is some chance of the east coast also getting the storm surge.
Appreciate prayers to keep her and all the good folks this Ian may hit safe.
To be clear: she is driving, not flying.
I wonder if Auxano.com is involved because they do this type of work. Its founder is a friend of Matt Chandler. I suspect huge amounts of church money flow to Auxano.
Hmmm, you’ve stumped us. Which one have we ever declared “ethical?” Which ones do we really know? Which ones do we trust? I’m not sure we could answer this one.
Todd, if you talk about how much the leaders make, IF Gathering might decide to go the way of so many other religious organizations and say it’s a church.
I looked at the IF Gathering’s 2020 Form 990 and found under B. Independent Contractors that $155,952 went to Orchestrate Experience LLC for “Event Production.”
The 2019 Form 990 is even more interesting:
* $280,180 to Orchestrate Experience LLC (Event Production)
* $185,077 to Jenn Jett Ventures, LLC (Product Development–what? But then I found a catalogue they handed out in 2018)
* $128,239 to ACL Live At The Moody Theatre (Event Venue)
You can also buy either a simulcast (to be shown at your church) or the sessions afterwards. Not sure of the price.
IF Gathering wasn’t hurt so much by COVID–their 2020 event was at the beginning of February before it became clear COVID was going to be a problem. In 2021, the event was held digitally.
This year, in 2022, the event was held in Dallas at the beginning of March and apparently sold out Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, TX at a cost of $179.00 a person plus tax and fees. Oh, but if you missed it, you can buy all the sessions for $69.00, or your church can get a license for $49.00 plus the cost per person for everyone who attends, to wit:
I also noticed while reading through the provided ministry packet that Jennie and Zac Allen have been going to Watermark Community Church. I would have thought they were going to The Village Church, what with having both Lauren and Matt Chandler speaking at their 2022 gathering. *shrugs* I know Dee has written a lot about Watermark and has posted writings from other people over the past several years. I know that the former pastor of Watermark, Todd Wagner, was forced out last year after accusations of spiritual abuse. Zac used to pastor a church in Austin, which merged with Austin Stone Community Church about a decade ago.
I mean, to me, this If Gathering is a cush gig, they collect enough money to pay themselves a nice salary, they get to hold a meeting with hundreds of attendees every year, with prominent women speakers from the Evangelical Industrial Complex Then they make more money by selling offsite sessions to churches and individual passes afterwards. And we can’t forget the material culture (an anthropological phrase meaning the stuff people have around them.) I wonder if they saw what Willow Creek Community Church and other churches were doing and decided to do the same thing, but focus on women.
Anyway, other people might find different things if they rummage through If Gathering’s Form 990s.
Just because something is not required doesn’t make it good, right, or honorable to choose not to do it.
(Just as doing something “perfectly legal” doesn’t make it good, right, or honorable)
Yeah, I’d like for all churches taking in over a certain amount (over $200K maybe) to have to file a Form 990. I get SO TIRED of the three megas in my neighborhood holding well over $50 million* in tax-free property within 2 miles of my house, while I pay property taxes. I get tired of megachurch pastors running right up to the line of endorsing candidates but not going over, yet their churches not only don’t pay taxes, they also don’t have to report what they’re taking in and how it’s going out.
And I agree with Todd, the PPP extension to churches was IMHO wrong and a violation of the First Amendment. I would have been MUCH happier if the money had been disbursed directly to employees and not through churches.** It’s not like the IRS doesn’t have that information, after all they were able to tap into that for the stimulus payments. To me, giving PPP money to churches was a taxpayer giveaway to organizations that already don’t pay taxes and don’t have to provide even the minimal information on a Form 990.
*not going to look it up. Property prices have been going crazy here.
** for the record, I got a partial stimulus check with the first disbursement, but didn’t qualify for any disbursement after that, because my income had significantly increased after I changed jobs in 2019. I ended up giving the partial stimulus away, because I was working and didn’t need the money, but I knew people who were abruptly laid off and could use some cash.
Thanks for your prayers! Our girl is tucked away at least what you can be in central Fla. Pray for all of Florida, especially where landfall is expected as a cat 4.
Good news. Thank you for the update.
Lots of money being raked in. Lots of good looking people having their photos plastered all over the place.
I know they could never make money by posting my picture on an internet ad and saying I wrote a great book. The people would say, “Who wants to go watch this ugly mug teach.”
Billy Graham once said “there are two things that attract people, a good message or a good looking preacher, and I’m glad I have a good message.”
Seriously, it is merely self promotion. If you divorce the hype and marketing from the substance of the teaching, it is very mediocre. Matt Chandler is average. Very average.
I understand the actual term in the bookstore business was “Jesus Junk Stores”.
Not in his own mind!
Saw this pattern with too many Fanboys:
A Legend in his own mind, a Bad Joke in everyone else’s.
American Christians are hell-bent on being part of the PROBLEM, not part of the Solution.
And they’re Righteous and Pious (more than Thou) about it.
AND WITH 100, YOU GET EGGROLL!
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,
On that line of thought, as it becomes increasingly clear that more than one member of my family is not neurotypical, I’ve been attending virtual conferences periodically to get a better handle on, well, everything.
What has really struck me is how ACCESSIBLE conference organizers make their message. Free for 24-48 hours, or pay a set (reasonable) fee to have lifetime access to recordings (and transcripts!). Or free to everyone, with an optional donation to help support the message.
They are explicitly secular resources, but I see more of Jesus in his desire to leave the 99 who are doing fine in order to seek the 1 lost sheep than I do in a lot of the “Christian” conference resources out there.
This needs to stop.
Hauling in gunny sacks full-o’-moohlah tax-free is one thing, but being exempted from disclosing where all that moohlah goes, is quite another.
Folks deserve to know where their hard-earned shekels are going, to feed starving kids in Africa, or to buy a brand new gulfstream jet.
My view is no religious organizations should be tax exempt and no religious organizations should have been eligible for taxpayer’s money labeled a PPP loan.
And how does Matt Average pull it off? … with a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks … it’s what makes mega-mania work.
You’re preaching to the choir here.
Mega-Christianity is one of the biggest money-making scams there is.
It really is too bad that virtually no politician (that I know of) has the guts enough to take them on.
Not hard to figure though, said politician(s) know full well that he or she wouldn’t see dog-catcher next time round’, if they tried to upset the gravy-train.
Mega-Christianity is a HUGE voting bloc.
Especially since they don’t pay taxes in the first place?
That is a fair point, and one with which I happen to concur. Though I don’t think the original article does much to establish that point. “Following the money” here leads only to apparently Internal Revenue Code-compliant financial dealings. If the objection is to the Internal Revenue Code itself, I’m not sure what Matt Chandler has to do with it: the objection to tax exemption for religious institutions would reach (with equal force and effect) organizations whose leaders demonstrate good behavior as well as organizations who remove a leader demonstrating bad behavior.