Designated Receipts Top CP gifts: The SBC Ship of State Is In Peril | Part One

October 9, 2015

Will Hall | Editor
Baptist Message, Louisiana

**This article was originally posted HERE and is used by permission**
For more information on Will Hall click HERE and www.baptistmessage.com

For the first time in Southern Baptist Convention history, dating back to 1929 when a unified national budget was first proposed, designated receipts topped Cooperative Program gifts distributed by the SBC Executive Committee.

Moreover, what was a historical precedent in 2013 was repeated in 2014, making it the second time for this phenomenon to occur since the Great Commission Resurgence reforms were approved in 2010.

Now, the SBC Executive Committee has released the final numbers for 2015, indicating a third straight year of upended giving, with Baptist Press reporting Oct. 2 that gifts through the Cooperative Program amounted to more than $189 million, but designated giving exceeded $195 million.

12-YEAR TREND
Although this apparent new norm has taken place since the GCR reforms were approved (including the creation of a new category for giving, “Great Commission Giving” to “celebrate every dollar given”), information published in the SBC Annual shows this phenomenon has been developing since 2004.

That year the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering leapt by more than $20 million and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering jumped by $5 million, with the combined increases bringing designated giving within $854,987 of overtaking the Cooperative Program as the preferred channel for funding Southern Baptists’ national causes.

CP                           Designated

2015           $189,160,231          $195,013,413

2014           $186,567,611          $194,678,166

2013           $188,001,276          $193,106,286

2012           $191,678,994          $190,744,940

2011           $191,878,645          $191,878,066

2010           $191,763,153          $191,324,526

2009           $199,822,090          $193,175,951

2008           $204,385,593          $203,016,164

2007           $205,716,834          $204,996,501

2006           $200,601,536          $191,428,618

2005           $195,948,423          $189,729,834

2004           $189,865,255          $189,010,268                             

2003           $183,201,694          $165,985,967

2002           $182,323,110          $170,092,122

2001           $176,962,402          $170,947,075

2000           $178,298,880          $163,269,485

But, there has been a dramatic shift since 2010 as well.

4-YEAR SHIFT
Unfortunately, looking at the 12-year transition year-by-year masks within the data the dramatic impact the move toward designated giving has had on Southern Baptists’ cooperative missions and ministries.

But, using 2010 contributions as a baseline and comparing each succeeding year to that benchmark reveals an obvious shift toward a preference for designated giving that has had a negative effect on funding for all national ministries that receive CP support.

However, this method also shows the two mission boards have been able to offset the loss in CP funds with gains in designated giving through their respective annual special offerings.

During this four-year span, the Cooperative Program experienced a cumulative loss of $8.9 million in gifts, while the two special offerings saw a combined $28.5 million windfall.

NOTE: 2015 data is not included in the calculations below because AAEO and LMCO information is not available.

CP

2014           $186,567,611          – $5,195,542

2013           $188,001,276          – $3,761,877

2012           $191,678,994               – $84,159

2011           $191,878,645             + $115,492

2010           $191,763,153          —————            

– $8,926,086

 

AAEO

2014           $58,151,828            + $3,810,137

2013           $57,004,211            + $2,662,520

2012           $54,471,057               – $129,366

2011           $56,040,868            + $1,699,177

2010           $54,341,691            —————            

+ $8,042,468

 

LMCO

2014           $153,002,394          + $7,339,469

2013           $154,057,852          + $8,394,927

2012           $149,276,304          + $3,613,379

2011           $146,828,116          + $1,165,191

2010           $145,662,925          —————            

+ $20,512,966

The IMB and NAMB receive large shares of the SBC Allocation Budget, 50.41 percent and 22.79 percent, respectively (more than 73 percent, combined) and both experienced significant CP losses from 2011-2014 relative to the baseline year of 2010—about $4.5 million (IMB) and $2 million (NAMB). But each receives 100 percent of their corresponding special offering. So during this timeframe, the IMB netted an extra $16 million and NAMB’s funding was boosted by $6 million, overall, when CP losses are balanced against the respective gains each saw in designated receipts.

LOTS OF MOVING PARTS
In looking at the overall picture, there are a number of factors in play:

— SBC churches are receiving fewer contributions to the extent that undesignated gifts to our 46,500 churches dropped from a little more than $8.91 billion in 2010 to less than $8.75 billion in 2014 (a loss of about $163 million in gifts).

— During this timeframe, these same congregations experienced a loss of 520,980 weekly attendees (6,195,449 worshippers in 2010, and 5,674,469 in 2014), and this has had a profound impact on giving to state and national causes.

— Meanwhile, the first of the Baby Boomers reached retirement age on January 1, 2011. Importantly, on that day, as well as each day since, 10,000 members of this generational cohort turned 65 years old (representing a jump of about 3,000 persons reaching that age per day). As pertaining to SBC giving, many Southern Baptists have transitioned from earning a salary to receiving social security payments and retirement disbursements, affecting what they are able to contribute.

Yet, despite these negative data points, on average, it appears Southern Baptists are giving more than they have before on an individual basis: about $103 more per person per year (nearly $1,541 in 2014 compared to $1,438 plus in 2010), or a per capita increase of 7.23 percent from 2010-2014.

Unfortunately, the extra $586 million given last year by Southern Baptists could not make up for the drastic drop in funding caused by the loss of 520,980 regular worshippers during this timeframe (an estimated $803 million lost in potential contributions for 2014).

Moreover, the drop in CP funding for national causes (from $191,763,153 in 2010 to $186,567,611 in 2014) came amid sacrificial cuts in staffing and ministry programs by many state conventions in order to give more to SBC causes:

Baptist Press reported in March 2015 that 23 of 42 state conventions have responded to the 2010 GCR initiative by increasing the proportion of CP gifts they forward to national causes with the intention of moving toward a 50/50 split with the denomination.

–Furthermore, these good faith actions have come as state conventions are dealing with the phasing out of Cooperative Agreements with the North American Mission Board, affecting about $51 million in funding. In essence, these funds have been redirected from state conventions to NAMB. But, NAMB’s role for nurturing pioneer state conventions has been “left” for the larger state conventions to pick up.

SBC leaders at various levels within the denomination have identified a number of behaviors to explain the decline in Cooperative Program giving – alternately pointing the blame at (1) churches for giving less of a percentage of what they receive, (2) individuals for failing to tithe on what they earn, and (3) the denomination as a whole for selecting entity leaders who are godly men but poor examples themselves in supporting the Cooperative Program with their own churches’ budgets.

But lost in all this discussion about the decline in giving is the point that, now, there is another dimension – churches are designating more to national causes than what is being received for SBC missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program.

Part Two Coming Soon!

 

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William Thornton

I appreciate the compiling of data but there’s nothingnew here. Churches have been indicating a clear preference for maintaining or slightly increasing their designated giving (almost all LM and AA) for several years while decreasing or holding flat their CP giving. Additionally, some states send directly to IMB and bypass the EC for a portion of their giving and many churches do the same. Both of these would ntemsify the stats that demonstrate an increasing preference for designated giving.

NAMB has a vibrant national church planting program that has gamed traction among the churches and I’d expect and IMB has always had priority with much of the convention. In a few years I’d expect LM to be equal or greater in amount to the CP receipts of the EC.

I look forward to part 2.

    Lydia

    “I appreciate the compiling of data but there’s nothingnew here. ”

    How about we strive to understand the meaning behind what is “not new” For one thing, how can you call NAMB church planting program “vibrant” when we do not have access to specifics and measurements for “success”. Try finding out how much to whom and where when it comes to NAMBS infatuation with Driscoll and Acts 29? How much to Sojourn. Do SBC churches understand that church planting out of NAMB has mainly focused on Reformed only? Do they understand they have been funding new church plants with Driscoll DNA all over them?

    Talk about head in the sand. Who needs anything “new” when this mess is left!

      Max

      From the 2015 NAMB Ministry Report:

      “In an average year 1,000 churches disappear from the SBC database”
      “In 2014, partners reported 985 church plants”

      Consider the math. As traditional churches close, NAMB church plants replace them … paving the way for potential theological shift by attrition. As Lydia notes “we do not have access to specifics.” There is no check-box on the application form for church planters indicating theological persuasion (other than adhere to the BFM), but I can tell you in my area they are all led by young reformed pastors and their young “elder” teams.

    Dr. Will Hall

    William,

    I don’t mean this as a zinger, but I fear you sound like Rehoboam’s brash young friends (1 Kings 12).

    If you’re praising this trend among churches, let me show you the bigger picture:

    Great Commission Giving was implemented in 2011. It includes ALL gifts through the CP as well as to LMCO and AAEO, along with other direct gifts for SBC causes. The first year the total amounted to $695,694,322, rising to $777,452,820 in 2013, before collapsing to $637,498,179 in 2014 — a $58 million drop from its beginning (and a hefty decline of $139,954,641 in one year).

    Using metrics to assess your description of NAMB’s church planting program as “vibrant,” here’s how the Class of 2010 stacks up against all church plants across multiple denominations:

    — Survivability [AVERAGE]
    >> started with 943 church plants with 757 surviving through 2013 (the latest ACP report at the time) – or about 80 percent; aaccording to the Church Survivability and Health Study 2007, about 81 percent of church plants survive through year three

    — Membership Growth [UNKNOWN]
    >> 7 percent growth in membership; membership information was not assessed in the CSHS 2007 research

    — Attendance Growth [BELOW AVEREAGE]
    >> 20 percent jump in attendance; compared to a 33 percent jump for the average church plant in the CSHS 2007 report)

    — Baptisms [WELL BELOW AVERAGE]
    >> baptism ratio of 1:13, as reported by Kevin Ezell using membership numbers; church plants in the CSHS 2007 study had a composite baptism ration of about 1:6

    As for giving, the Class of 2010 contributed $3.3 million to missions (up 12 percent for the year), or just under $4,360 of giving per church plant (through the Cooperative Program, LMCO and AAEO, combined).

    NAMB did not give a breakout of “missions giving” and did not report how much the Class of 2010 received in undesignated receipts. But, total receipts for church plants in the CSHS 2007 averaged $70,000 per congregation, so it appears the Class of 2010 is giving less than 10 percent for all missions work.

    ==============================

    Regarding IMB’s effectiveness in the harvest fields, in 2010 the International Mission Board announced 360,876 baptisms overseas.

    Five years later, according to the IMB’s 2015 Fast Facts, baptisms had dipped to 190,957.

    However, it is not known how much of the 169,919 slump is due to an IMB procedural change started in 2010 to “no longer include reports from partner conventions and unions” in order to more accurately reflect “the board’s work and influence” in the field. Also, although overseas baptisms have fallen from 2010 levels, the 2015 total exceeds the 114,571 baptisms in 2014.

    BTW, nearly 600,000 baptisms were reported in 2007.

    Regardless, the IMB has reported starting more than 242,682 new churches since 2005 (more than 124,000 reported church starts from 2010-2015). Yet, these churches don’t appear to be reproducing, at least in terms of baptisms. I think it is reasonable to expect one baptism per church at least.

    Finally, have you read the notes on this forum from missionaries in the field about David Platt’s short tenure as their leader? (I mean the substantive comments, not opinions)

    ==============================

    Regarding your prediction about the growth of LM and AA, I address that in part two.

    In short, if LM exceeds CP, it will be a pyrrhic victory. Not only will seminaries suffer, but so will NAMB, and, for every $100 lost through CP (to national causes) IMB loses $50.

    Moreover, LM is growing, but it is experiencing a serious drag coefficient (aviation term) and all indicators show it will start trending downward soon. It certainly is not on a flight path to double, which is what would need to happen to compensate the loss of CP.

    I’m afraid you are short-sighted if you think what is happening is a good thing for Southern Baptists’ cooperative work.

    — WKH

      William

      Zingers are fine Willbut hold off befor you lump this old codger with Rheo’s friends.. I’m not praising anything, just observing. I am unable to give a long reply jus now but will later.

        Dr. Will Hall

        William,

        The “Rehoboam Syndrome” is not an age thing, but an attitude. I used the word “young” to describe Rehoboam’s confederates, but they were likely 40 years old or a little more, and Solomon’s advisers probably were pushing 80 and beyond.

        I called your comments “praise” because you referred to NAMB’s church planting effort as “vibrant.” I apologize if I misunderstood your feelings about the developments your described.

        — WKH

Scott Shaver

Thanks for this revelation Will. World of hurt coming down is how it looks.

William

Will, most of your comment to me was about NAMB and church planting, the metrics for such. I’ll leave that for another, separate topic. I’m sure SBCT will be up for discussing that.

Concerning the CP and designated giving, we passed the milestone at the EC a couple years back where DG exceeded CP giving. I’m not seeing that those two totals will ever be flipped back to where CP is the greater sum. But it is not to be ignored that an ADDITIONAL almost $300,000,000 was given in CP gifts by the churches all of which was retained by your state convention and others; hence, CP is still the dominant funding stream even though it ain’t what it used to be.

I recognize that state conventions have been hit hard by lowered CP giving by their churches, since there are few alternative funding streams available to the states. It looks to me that if the LBC can maintain funding your paper at about a half million dollars annually, that is to be appreciated. Here in Georgia the Index decided to stop printing papers and disband the trustees. If your state’s churches believe keeping over 60 cents on the CP dollar is appropriate, I’m all for it. In many states churches would prioritize their mission giving to devote more to the designated mission offerings because they feel that the 63% or so is too high. Not my decision to make about Louisiana Baptists. The LBC can make their case and divide the CP dollar accordingly as they see fit.

The oldest trend in SB life is the decline of CP as a percentage of church undesignated offerings. This has hit state conventions harder than the entities. Still, $191m to be allocated to the seminaries and mission boards and the smaller entities is a huge sum.

IMB and NAMB can easily make their case for the special offerings. They have been moderately successful in outlining a vision that SBs feel deserves slightly increasing support. Seminaries can generate revenues from tuition, housing, and alumni and friends. State conventions are pretty much stuck with convincing their churches that the majority of that CP dollar given deserves to be spent mostly inside the state lines and not spent on seminaries, NA or international missions.

Great Commission Giving is a reporting category that has not established itself as of yet. Some states don’t report it. Some churches ignore all of the reporting. I don’t know what conclusion you can derive from those figures.

I join you, Rick, and others in declaring the CP as our main cooperative giving channel. Churches have chosen to agree, since most of their SBC giving is CP, not designated. They just don’t agree to the numerical degree they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

I look forward to part 2.

    Dr. Will Hall

    William,

    I’ll gladly discuss the financials of the Baptist Message, but not as a distraction to a discussion about your claims of a “vibrant” church planting movement by NAMB.

    Briefly, I would say that when a state paper goes digital only, it must be funded 100 percent by CP because of lost ad revenue from the print.

    So, it’s not necessarily a good thing to go fully online.

    Just so you know, the New York Times generates about 70 percent of its revenue from its print edition, which is why it continues to run the presses. Digital just doesn’t monetize to a level adequate enough to replace print–at the moment.

    (BTW, Baptist Press is wholly dependent on CP).

    The Baptist Message is developing a plan with our trustees for how the Message will transition to more of a digital emphasis as our constituency moves more in that direction.

    Generally speaking, if you’re older than 45 years, the odds are you prefer a paper in hand, and if you’re younger then 45, you’d rather read your news online (typically via YouTube, etc.). My team released a new digital format in June (the plan was in work before I arrived) and already we’re working on our 2.0 version which will be more of a one-news-stop type of media outlet that updates “to the minute.” But we’re also working to expand our market share in print because there is a large marker that has not been tapped. I sense our constituents appreciate our efforts to pay part of the freight and leave more CP for other ministries.

    As for your claims about NAMB’s church planting movement (to me and to Lydia, below), I’ll repeat the information Kevin Ezell shared at the annual meeting in Columbus for the SBC Class of 2010 (at the three year mark) as compared to the research NAMB published in 2007 for church plants across denominations:

    — Survivability [AVERAGE]
    >> started with 943 church plants with 757 surviving through 2013 (the latest ACP report at the time) – or about 80 percent; aaccording to the Church Survivability and Health Study 2007, about 81 percent of church plants survive through year three

    — Membership Growth [UNKNOWN]
    >> 7 percent growth in membership; membership information was not assessed in the CSHS 2007 research

    — Attendance Growth [BELOW AVEREAGE]
    >> 20 percent jump in attendance; compared to a 33 percent jump for the average church plant in the CSHS 2007 report)

    — Baptisms [WELL BELOW AVERAGE]
    >> baptism ratio of 1:13, as reported by Kevin Ezell using membership numbers; church plants in the CSHS 2007 study had a composite baptism ration of about 1:6

    As for giving, the Class of 2010 contributed $3.3 million to missions (up 12 percent for the year), or just under $4,360 of giving per church plant (through the Cooperative Program, LMCO and AAEO, combined).

    NAMB did not give a breakout of “missions giving” and did not report how much the Class of 2010 received in undesignated receipts. But, total receipts for church plants in the CSHS 2007 averaged $70,000 per congregation, so it appears the Class of 2010 is giving less than 10 percent for all missions work.

    Additionally, in 2011 NAMB reported 1,003 church starts and 985 in 2014.

    As for suspicions about what kind of church plants they’re starting, NAMB can put those concerns to rest by simply providing the data. It should be easy to poll the Class of 2010 and subsequent cohorts whether they have ties to other denominations or networks (like Acts 29) and whether they have an elder-form of church polity, etc.

    Why hide the data?

    As for your discussion about state and national causes, let me be clear that “states” do not “keep money.”

    As you know, a state convention, like any other Baptist entity makes its case to churches in terms of the missions and ministries that the convention provides to support the work of the churches in the state. The same is true, likewise, regarding the state missions offerings for which it makes appeals.

    The bottom line is the churches decide, not the “state.”

    In case you have a short memory, Louisiana was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and a month later by Rita. Louisiana Baptists see the need to continue rebuilding and even build beyond what was before in order to reach the lost in our state.

    Moreover, in Louisiana, churches have chosen to take the approach to raise all boats by increasing support through the Cooperative Program. That could change, but Louisiana Baptists seem to feel they adequately share in cooperative ministries with the support they forward to national causes through CP and the special mission offerings (while not losing a grip on our state).

    I don’t get the feeling they see the need to give more to NAMB when it has increased its investments by $135 million in five years. Likewise, it remains to be seen how they are going to react to the IMB overspending itself into a crisis that hurts people from Louisiana who are on the field.

    With that said, I have to admit I’m a newcomer here, but I’m excited about what I sense the Holy Spirit is doing here. It is special.

    — WKH

      William

      I appreciate the interaction and response. I’d feel sure SBCT would welcome an article devoted to NAMB’s church planting…but I understand people wish to talk about what most interests them. I’ll contribute when the article is written and posted. For now it is unarguable that SNA is a “vibrant” initiative, has engaged and gathered life from SBC churches and pastors. My friend Rick P. et al have to settle at the present for arguing that the plants might be suspect, and that after positing a conspiracy by NAMB. I’ll let you and Rick argue what might be true if we had facts. I’ll merely note that all plants affirm the BFM and give a higher than average percentage to the CP.

      State conventions do indeed keep CP monies, most of it. In doing so they have been known to employ creative accounting presentation techniques. I am ambivalent towards LBAs percentage of CP kept, as I am about your paper being in the CP budget for half a million or so.
      I sympathize with state convention staff and leadership to the extent that theirs is a difficult job.

        Dr. Will Hall

        William,

        You are making a broad brush accusation that slanders a lot of people when you use such terms as “creative accounting presentation techniques.” Please give me your name and phone number and I’ll talk directly with you about this matter rather than counsel you online. I don’t know your experience with Dr. White and Georgia, but I know David Hankins at Louisiana and he’s as above board as anyone I know. He was that way at the Executive Committee as well. As for your concern about how Louisiana Baptists appropriate their funds, it seems you don’t appreciate the biblical concept of autonomy. I admit, I have been here all of about four months and I have a lot to still learn about the state, but I know from working with the churches here after Katrina and Rita, they have a soul-winning attitude and I perceive from my short time in the area they are putting together the different elements to win the state for Christ. The Holy Spirit is moving here.

          william thornton

          Will, you are several years late to this conversation sooooo, maybe it’s a bit premature for you to counsel me or presume to know what I know or appreciate or not know or do not appreciate about autonomy but I am always happy to speak to my Christian brethren and fellow SBC laborers. I assume your contact info is available. I’ll email you with my phone number.

          I have always been highly complimentary of Robert White. The accounting presentation techniques are not nefarious but they are creative and many state conventions have clarified the way they explain their CP percentages.

            Dr. Will Hall

            As the saying goes, “Better late than never.”

            If you have something specific to say about “creative” accounting techniques by Bob or any of the other state execs, I welcome the conversation.

            Otherwise, your comments sound like gossip.

            Likewise, I welcome any specifics that define your concept of “vibrant.” It’s a little vague without metrics to back it up.

              William Thornton

              I welcome criticism and challenges to what I’ve written but not to what I haven’t written. I’ve said ‘something specific about ‘creative accounting PRESENTATION’ techniques often, starting about five years or so ago. i’ve never accused any SBC entity of creative accounting. You have been quick here to use the words ‘slander’ and ‘gossip’ towards me. It might help foster a cordial conversation not to do that.

              State conventions have been free and loose in classifying their spending so as to avoid showing what they keep of a CP dollar in state. Georgia used to state plainly, “We divide each CP dollar equally with SBC causes” when 60 cents sayed within our borders. That was a creative manner to present the accounting of CP revenues. This is not so much true now, as many states give a straightforward accounting without confusing and deceptive sub-categories.

              I’ve heard and read many pastors, especially younger ones, complain about this. I’ve even heard your former colleagues in nashville offer mild concern about it.

    Dr. Will Hall

    William,

    You stated: “Great Commission Giving is a reporting category that has not established itself as of yet. Some states don’t report it. Some churches ignore all of the reporting. I don’t know what conclusion you can derive from those figures.”

    Because of all the different footnotes in the SBC Annual for all the different financial data, I crosschecked GCG against (1) Total Mission Expenditures as one means of comparison, and, (2) simply added CP, Lottie and Annie as another check. GCG tracked downward and so did the other two “indicators.”

    Finally, according to the research literature, you should expect to see results from a strategic reform within 2-4 years of implementing it.

    The Southern Baptist Convention does not operate like the typical corporation with regard to the relationship it maintains with the nearly 46,500 congregations which cooperate at various levels (local, state and national) in missions and ministries. However, it is not unreasonable to expect to see some measurable differences on key metrics at this point in the GCR initiative (GCG being one of them).

William

Lydia, there are a couple of areas where I take great delight in your incisive and laconic replies. On NAMB’s vibrant SendNA program, they are starting a large number of churches all of which affirm the BFM. Existing churches and pastors are engaged and motivated in the program. Survivability and longer term results have yet to be seen. I recognize that you, rick, and others have, uh, suspicions about the types of churches being planted.

    Lydia

    “Lydia, there are a couple of areas where I take great delight in your incisive and laconic replies.”

    Thank you William. I don’t know how consistently “brief” I am. As to incisive I choose to believe you mean “remarkably clear”. :o)

    “On NAMB’s vibrant SendNA program, they are starting a large number of churches all of which affirm the BFM. Existing churches and pastors are engaged and motivated in the program. Survivability and longer term results have yet to be seen.”

    Perhaps a great place to start would be the SBC’s “church planting expert” at LifeWay. How about an comprehensive analysis shared publicly of what worked and what did not work using OPM? There have been several failures that could be studied in depth by third parties, of course. Most churches do not review the BFM. That seems to be a document for the leadership to use to cover many tracks. Most are not even aware of “s” debate and what it meant for the days to come.

    All I am calling for is transparency and accountability. People have a right to know how their money is being spent. And it is a maxim that the further away your money goes, the less accountability. As tax payers, we know this. The recent IMB financial mess and convenient “solution” seems to make that very clear. We had no clue with SBC lock boxes and stealth methods? These are not men of integrity and character. Both sides who have participated in such shenanigans with OPM.

    ” I recognize that you, rick, and others have, uh, suspicions about the types of churches being planted.”

    I don’t have “suspicions”. I see them clearly in my neck of the woods and other places where I have contacts. NAMB gave OPM to many Driscoll trained (At Acts 29 boot camp–are you aware of what the young minds of mush were taught?) church plants. How many of these church plants are using the approved by the great men Marx 9 church discipline methods and CJ Mahaney’s shepherding cult methods where child molesters are protected and considered the same sinner as the 3 year old molested child? Why would anyone send money to IMB where Platt has not offered up his own “blank check”? What are people smoking? Why so naive after years of patterns of behavior and horror stories?

      Tyler

      Is it possible for you to comment on anything without mentioning Mark Driscoll, Mahayne, or Calvinism? Does it just sit in your mind all day?

        Scott Shaver

        Tyler:

        Why not mention Driscoll, Mahaney, or Calvinism? That’s all some folks previously have been wanting SBers to fill their ears and minds with…….Whattsa matter?…have they now become liabilities?

          lydia

          “Why not mention Driscoll, Mahaney, or Calvinism? That’s all some folks previously have been wanting SBers to fill their ears and minds with…….Whattsa matter?…have they now become liabilities?”

          Well, there is a good point. For years they have been actively promoted as strong leaders or preaching the true Gospel. Basically: Look at me! Buy my books! Attend conferences where I speak!

          So, we paid attention.

          (Never mind all the rotten behavior. After all, we remain wicked sinners so it does not matter)

            Tyler

            Lydia, is it possible that your behavior online has been rotten as well? I know mine has in the past. I think its something we could all see in ourselves, especially when we compare ourselves to our glorious Savior. But I genuinely would encourage you to turn your mind on other things as well.

              Lydia

              “Lydia, is it possible that your behavior online has been rotten as well?”

              As compared to what? Having a molested 3 year old put in the same room as her molester and told she is just as big of sinner as the molester and to forgive? Or how about buying my way on the NYT best seller list with OPM who thought it was going to help people globally? Oh, my the list is long. Mainly using our precious Savior to amass followers and create power/fame and wealth in Christendom. Despicable.

              I don’t buy into your sin leveling religion. You want to make telling the truth about charlatans a sin. That is what your religion does.It turns everything upside down until you cannot even tell right from wrong. If it were the 16th Century I would be well punished by now. It will never be my normal. And hopefully more folks wake up before they are disciplined for wanting out of a marriage to a pedophile who watched children being tortured for gratification while claiming to be a missionary. (who was not disciplined). But of course, one is to ask their leaders first. No Holy Spirit, needed in your religion. Those are just a few examples of the rotten fruit of your religion. It is poison and a culture of death. You should be ashamed you cannot see it. And yes, I realize few “men” really care about the vulnerable innocents. They are more interested in protecting each other. We have way too many examples.

              I encourage you to turn your mind to truth. It is not quite so profitable, though. And you will have to give up some of your icons and look to Jesus Christ, instead. Grow up, Tyler.

              Scott Shaver

              Tyler:

              I would encourage YOU to quit whining :0

          Tyler

          Not at all. In fact, I just read a great book by Mahaney and cherish Calvinism. And Driscoll never was a Calvinist despite his claim. My point is, if thats all you think about constantly then thats probably where your heart is at. If I write an article about how cats are awesome, Driscoll or whoever should not be brought up. Believe it or not, some of us have bigger priorities that fill our minds rather than dwelling on secondary issues 24 hours a day.

            Jerry

            Glad to know I’m not the only one who never bought Driscoll’s claim to be reformed. That was a joke.

            Lydia

            My heart is with their many victims and those they took advantage of for profit.

            Lydia

            ” Believe it or not, some of us have bigger priorities that fill our minds rather than dwelling on secondary issues 24 hours a day.”

            Sadly, it does not surprise me that molested children and those hurt by the shunning and authoritarianism are secondary to you. I have noticed that people from your movement never mention the victims of these charlatans.

            Rick Patrick

            Please elaborate on this theory that Mark Driscoll, the founder of the Acts 29 Network, was not a Calvinist. One of the five core values of Acts 29 is the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, understood in this context as referring to Calvinism. The confessional statement for Acts 29 is incontrovertibly reformed. I am really not one to defend Mark Driscoll on anything, but I have no reason to doubt that he was sincere when he claimed to be a Calvinist and started hundreds of Calvinist churches. Could you please explain the basis for your theory? Has he publicly renounced his alleged Calvinism? Or does he claim to be a Calvinist, while you just don’t accept him as one? What’s going on?

              Tyler

              Rick, if you listen to any of his definitions of the extant of the atonement, election, and even total depravity you will find that he is not and was not a Calvinist, though he was influenced by Calvinists. You are right that Acts 29 is Reformed, but that has more to do with other men who helped found it.

                Andrew Barker

                Tyler: Your response betrays a lack of understanding as to how Calvinism operates. There is no absolute definition of Calvinism. TULIP is certainly not universally accepted which is why on occasions you will find people quoting that Calvin didn’t hold to everything in ‘Calvinism’! So the best you can say is that by your standards Driscoll is/was not a Calvinist. But you will need to define more clearly as Rick has asked you already, why exactly you think he is not a Calvinist. But don’t be surprised when you get complaints from other ‘Calvinists’ because one things for certain, your definition is not going to be acceptable to all of them!

                  Tyler

                  Andrew, don’t patronize me. I know Calvinism. I know it well. That’s how I know Driscoll has never been a Calvinist. In fact, this might prove that its YOU who doesn’t understand Calvinism. And it would take me hours to go through those past sermons I heard years ago to quote Driscoll on a site in which most people would probably care less even if I did. But any real Calvinist who has heard his sermons on election, Romans 9, or what have you know he is not a standard Calvinist. In fact, In the book “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her” real Calvinists critique his view of the atonement. And his exegesis, I remember, of the “God hardened Pharaohs heart” passages are actually more Arminian than Calvinist. I don’t know one Calvinist scholar or historic Calvinist figure who would agree with it. No real Calvinist would agree with him. In fact, when someone tells me that Driscoll is a Calvinist that confirms one of two things: They have never heard a Driscoll sermon on Calvinism or they do not understand fully what Calvinism is. But please, do not insult my intelligence.

                    Lydia

                    Tyler, You might want to ask why the YRR promoted Driscoll so long because he had “correct doctrine”. I remember first hearing of Driscoll in Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”. He referred to him as the cussing pastor who mentored him. Driscoll was emergent back then but he saw where the dollars were flowing, I suppose, and became part of the YRR movement. They embraced him with open arms.

                    CJ as the head Apostle in the People of Destiny complete with “prophecy mics” before he became a Charismatic Calvinist totally embraced by the YRR movement.

                    I don’t think the movement is much impressed with your litmus test. :o)

Lydia

“s it possible for you to comment on anything without mentioning Mark Driscoll, Mahayne, or Calvinism? Does it just sit in your mind all day?”

When I am on an SBC blog or a blog discussing Christian trends, yes. They (and 9 Marx authoritarian discipline) are the epitome and result of the YRR movement. Driscoll DNA is all over SBC church plants from the NAMB/Acts 29 partnership. Mahaney is now an SBC pastor. We desperately need to learn the lessons from all the horror stories and scandals. Not sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing bad has happened or saying “sorry” is repentance.

    Tyler

    And I think all of those people and types of people would agree.

Lydia

Tyler, You are naive. I am surrounded by arrogant YRR and have been interacting with the type for the last 10 years who are in love with authoritarian thinking and behaviors thinking it is pious. I have tried the kid gloves, appeals to basic humanity and decency, etc. I wasted my time..

Follow Christ. Not man. You are wasting years. You are totally immersed in Thought Reform. (I do think the process of leaving that world will be hard for many who try. Some become athiests and totally reject the determinist god. It will be like leaving a quasi cult situation as you have never been taught to be an independent thinker or about the Holy Spirit and therefore cannot even recognize basic right and wrong)

    Andy

    Lydia,

    I don’t doubt your experience, because I have seen similar attitudes as well. But I think it is ALSO either naive, or perhaps simply too narrowly focused, to blame these abuses and authoritarian attitudes soley on a soteriology. Men like Steven Furtick and Perry Noble show us that, They have similar total control in their churches, and yet are not calvinists. It’s not a Calvinist thing, it’s a power thing. Now, we can say that this new calvinism has, in many cases, failed to teach its young men humble servant leadership; but that doesn’t mean that a calvinist church CAN’T teach such things, or that some don’t already. I have seen Driscoll clone talking reformed heads, and I have also seen and known humble, self-sacrificing, reformed baptists who love and serve their wives, lead bible studies at public high schools, and move to muslim nations to share Christ. There is no one-size fits all.

      Tyler

      You’re right Andy, I have several Reformed friends who are missionaries that are risking their lives in countries I’m not even allowed to name because they are an immediate physical threat to them. Praise God for both Reformed and non Reformed believers who are actively giving their lives for the Gospel. I know 100’s of each personally.

    Tyler

    Lydia, One day at the marriage supper of the Lamb I hope that God sits us by each other. Maybe we can have some good laughs and enjoy Christ together for eternity. God bless, dear sister.

      Lydia

      “Lydia, One day at the marriage supper of the Lamb I hope that God sits us by each other. Maybe we can have some good laughs and enjoy Christ together for eternity. God bless, dear sister.”

      Tyler, I will never understand your world. You insult with one of the typical sinning rebukes of discussing an uncomfortable Christian celeb’s behaviors that are totally protected by the Gospel Glitterati, I respond by not backing down from the insults and then you post a “platitude” like above. So which is it? Before I was “sinning by mentioning” as an implication. Now I am a dear sister? Ok, fine. But understand that not everyone buys into the platitudes and we have learned to fasten their seat belts for the next wave of arrogant incriminations for daring to mention the behavior of charlatans in the Name of Jesus. Spend some time thinking of their victims for a change. And how those victims might view Jesus Christ because of what was done to them. This is serious business.

        Tyler

        Will do! God bless dear sister!

Lydia

“I don’t doubt your experience, because I have seen similar attitudes as well.”

Andy, I think a big part of the Christian life or living out the Kingdom is to walk along side with others who have been hurt/abused, etc. This means their experiences are something I cannot ignore. As my late mother used to say, “I am not here to see through people but to see them through”. Therefore one does not have to experience something personally to see that it is wrong and that the person needs help.

” But I think it is ALSO either naive, or perhaps simply too narrowly focused, to blame these abuses and authoritarian attitudes soley on a soteriology. Men like Steven Furtick and Perry Noble show us that, They have similar total control in their churches, and yet are not calvinists. It’s not a Calvinist thing, it’s a power thing. Now, we can say that this new calvinism has, in many cases, failed to teach its young men humble servant leadership; but that doesn’t mean that a calvinist church CAN’T teach such things, or that some don’t already. I have seen Driscoll clone talking reformed heads, and I have also seen and known humble, self-sacrificing, reformed baptists who love and serve their wives, lead bible studies at public high schools, and move to muslim nations to share Christ. There is no one-size fits all.”

It really boils down to power and quantity. Right now, the Neo Cal movement has the quantity and power. The power comes from taking over resources/assets like the entities to increase that power. There is that whole “inner ring” thing going on like what C.S. Lewis wrote about. And they are obviously more stealth/covert aggressive. Furtick and Noble are so obvious as to be a bit embarrassing. They are like a PT Barnum side show. I thought Driscoll was as obvious as they are but was told over and over on the other SBC blog, he preached the “true Gospel” so we were to overlook everything else or we were just being hateful I also thought the former “Apostle” Mahaney was a bit obvious (especially after discovery on the civil lawsuit and his own brother in laws testimony about protecting child molesters) but now he is an SBC pastor in Louisville with many perks from SBTS for his family and cronies who fled with him

You know, someone said today that if they are building earthly kingdoms perhaps that is our cue they are not the real thing. I am inclined to agree. There is nothing worse than wrongs done to others using the Name of Jesus.

Now, the mainline Calvinists I have had dealings with in the past were not authoritarian. Yes, they have ecclessiastical courts and such. But they seemed to have dropped the hard determinism/pastor worship and were focused on a more social Gospel. I can see why now. So I can agree with you in one sense about it not just being about soteriology. Personally, I do believe that authoritarianism is easier to affirm and codify if one is using Calvin’s ST. Focusing on Free Will and a person’s responsibility tends to not play well in determinist circles. People might start to believe they have a right to question what they are taught. I have yet to see a YRR handle that well. Even at Starbucks. :o)

    Andrew Barker

    Lydia: “Furtick and Noble are so obvious as to be a bit embarrassing. They are like a PT Barnum side show. I thought Driscoll was as obvious as they are but was told over and over on the other SBC blog, he preached the “true Gospel” so we were to overlook everything else or we were just being hateful I also thought the former “Apostle” Mahaney was a bit obvious (especially after discovery on the civil lawsuit and his own brother in laws testimony about protecting child molesters) but now he is an SBC pastor in Louisville with many perks from SBTS for his family and cronies who fled with him ”

    Can’t say I’m a fan of the Furtick Noble type churches but I’ve never been to one let alone been part of one so I’ve no real idea just what they’re like. But neither of them, to the best of my knowledge took money or funding from the SBC to get started. But the same cannot be said for Driscoll and Acts 29 who have used SBC funds (they would say legitimately, some wouldn’t) to fund church plants and Mahaney who is now piggy backing on the SBC. At least that’s my assessment. The SBC appears to be quite happy to list Sovereign Grace Louisville under it’s banner but I’m not totally convinced there is mutual respect. If you look at the SGL website it talks about the family of churches and then says they ‘also’ partner with the SBC for the purposes of training and gospel mission. There’s no real commitment on show at all. I don’t know the ins and outs of SBC membership, or even if there is formal registration, but as an outsider looking in, this is one church with it’s feet firmly planted in both camps and ready to jump one way or the other if it suits them. Call me old fashioned but to be in a family involves a marriage and the use of the word ‘partner’ smacks of those who don’t really want to be seen as belonging and wish to retain some independence. Does anybody know if Al and CJ have a prenuptial agreement of any sort? Just askin’. :)

      Lydia

      Andrew, I would guess that Furtick most likely received some church planting funds from the SBC. Too bad it is impossible to find these things out.

      “Does anybody know if Al and CJ have a prenuptial agreement of any sort? Just askin’. :)”

      I think it was in the form of some very large donations by CJ/SGM to SBTS somewhere around 2007-2011. It was around the time T$G got going. It was actually printed in their magazine. Very large donations. Like Presidents Circle or whatever they call it, donations. That goes to show why it is so important for pew sitters to have control over making budgets and a vote. At SGM they were basically a shepherding cult so they followed whatever they were told.

      Andy

      Just fyi for Andrew: a church qualifies to be an sbc church, (main benifits are being permitted to seat sbc messengers at the convention, and getting sbc seminary discounts)…merely by giving a very small amount to the CP each year (I believe for most churches, the minimum amount is something like $250.).

      There is no board or body that thoroughly evaluates member churches. There is not even a requirement to affirm the BFM. To my knowledge, only having a female pastor, or affirming homosexuality have caused churches to be removed…beyond that, you are correct, each church is very autonomous…in fact, the way SGC has stated it on their website is a correct way of saying it. Individual autonomous churches voluntarily partner together for larger missions and ministries.

        Lydia

        “here is not even a requirement to affirm the BFM. To my knowledge, only having a female pastor, or affirming homosexuality have caused churches to be removed…beyond that, you are correct, ”

        Wish they had the same views on churches that protect child molesters and child pornographers. But a female pastor seems to be much more evil.

Andrew Barker

Andy: I would be interested to know if you think Lydia is “either naive, or perhaps simply too narrowly focused?” Well, which one is it Andy? You don’t sound too sure?

    Andy

    Having looked up the definition of naive, it would have to be mostly the second, although there is a small part of the definition of naive that simply means “lacking experience” that would apply to my statement…so she either she has never actually met a humble Calvinist, or she has encountered them but was too narrowly focussed on bad Calvinists to notice…I have no way to know which it is.

Johnathan Pritchett

The second silliest thing on this thread is the notion that Driscoll isn’t (or at least wasn’t) a Calvinist.

But…the silliest thing on this thread is the notion that if one thinks Driscoll is (or was) a Calvinist, then one doesn’t understand Calvinism.

Aside from being an obvious non-sequitur, Driscoll was certainly a Calvinist. His “unlimited/limited” atonement view was simply a variant on the sufficiency/efficacy idea all Calvinists affirm in one form or other. This would be like saying Shedd wasn’t a Calvinist, and Bruce Ware ain’t one now.

We may as well say, on these nonsensical “shibboleth” type demands, no Credo-Baptist can rightly be called a Calvinist or Reformed because they don’t baptize infants and some Calvinists are Dispensationalists (sorry MacArthur, you aren’t a Calvinist) and some are even charismatics (sorry Storms and Grudem, you are no Calvinist either). But that would be as silly as saying Driscoll isn’t a Calvinist.

After all, my former pastor and Credo-Baptist-Dispensational-Calvinist Steve Lawson blurted out at the Strange Fire Conference that “…a charismatic Calvinist is a contradiction in terms.” Uh-huh…but a Calvispensationalist ain’t?

As for “historic” Calvinism or “modern” Calvinism, there is a false presumption that Calvinism is monolithic. Not so at all. It has been expressed in different shades like anything else, with disagreements among them on this or that sub-point in either exegesis or theology.

However, if T.U.L.I.P. generically speaking (and however qualified in the details), represents Calvinism broadly, Driscoll affirms (or affirmed) it. Who is to say what he affirms now, but the claim above that “Driscoll isn’t a Calvinist” simply smacks of “No True Scotsman” nonsense cloaked with “you don’t understand Calvinism if you think so” ad hominem distraction.

    Tyler

    Wrong, Its not just his “unlimited/efficacy” view (which yes, a real Calvinist would not hold to). His doctrine of election and irresistible grace are wrong as well. I can’t think of one historic Calvinist or Calvinist scholar who would affirm his views here (Nor Calvin himself). Bruce Ware would not agree with Driscoll on them as well (though he does hold to his view of the atonment, I would mark him as a 4 pointer. Haven’t read Shedd so can’t speak to him.). In fact, it was a Calvinist years ago who first showed me the errors of Driscolls so called “Calvinism.” So I guess he could be said to be a 2 point Calvinist…but if it doesn’t look like a duck or quack like a duck, well, it aint a duck.

      Andrew Barker

      Tyler: Thanks for the comments. You really are making my point for me. There really is no universally accepted definition of Calvinism. Even if you accept the ‘5 points’ you will find people who define one of the points differently. So trying to claim Driscoll is not Calvinistic is a lost cause, although I can well understand why you may not wish to be associated.

      By the way, I wasn’t trying to patronise you and I have no idea how intelligent you are, although some of your comments display a lack of critical thinking (IMO).

      In general, I would suggest that anyone who holds a view which says God elects people to salvation according to his good pleasure (oh how I loath that phrase!) would be classed at least as Calvinistic in their thinking, regardless of what other views they held on atonement etc.

    Tyler

    Dispensationalism and Calvinism are unrelated. You are presenting a straw man here. The extant of the atonment is directly related to Calvinism

Lydia

Tyler, Driscoll referred to himself as Reformed all the time which made large swaths of Reformed (non YRR) furious. They often came on blogs railing over it. Many Lutherans get real testy if you lump them in with Calvinists and declare they have nothing in common.

They all have the Reformation in common. They all have this underlying idea that Christianity really came into full understanding in the 16th Century whether they carry on with certain particulars or not.

Even those who insist non cals are arminian are working from that era’s paradigm.

If we have to identify with history in that sense, a better focus is Jesus Christ. That way we can leave the doctrrinal gurus , sects and religious politics in history where they belong as lessons for what not to do as believers.

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