One of the arguments I often hear in favor of megachurches is that they offer so much more than a small church can. They have programs for every age and with all of the tithe money, they can create larger events involving more people for a larger impact. If that is true, then why charge for these events? Why not take in all of that money and then pay to give away the Gospel?
Let me take Gateway Church as a case in point.
Pizza is Extra at Gateway
Gateway Church took in about $139-million in 2016. By any measure, that is a substantial level of giving by those who believe in church. However, Gateway’s policy is to charge a fee to youth group members for their pizza at youth meetings. Members are asked to give more money to help students who can’t pay the fee. I don’t understand this from a church which takes in $139-million.
In addition to giving your creative members something to do, this could be viewed as a community outreach. However, why couldn’t this be free to the public? Isn’t that what the funds are supposed to go for? Outreach?
There is another show I will mention but I do so not knowing if the show is a Gateway event or a Michael Jr. event (what does “organized by Gateway Church” mean?). Michael Jr. is a professional comedian who attends Gateway Church. He is planning a show at the church in September with admission prices ranging from $20 to $35. He also has some kind of formal relationship with the church and has given performances for free in the past. Perhaps, Gateway’s financial problems are worse than they are letting on.
If I was a giving unit at Gateway, I would wonder what is up. The church has funds to sponsor an inaugural gala but not a summer musical or pizza for youth group kids. I suppose the gala is one of those things that a small church can’t do, but then I don’t understand why any church should do that.
Consider the title an open question. Readers, let me know what I am missing. Perhaps Gateway is wisely spending the funds on lots of ministry. If so, it would be good for Gateway to open the books and let the members know where the funds are going. Mars Hill Church resisted that until the bitter end. It would be a shame if Gateway failed to learn from that situation.
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Gateway Church is still pruning the vine.
I confirmed today that Associate Senior Pastor Bobby Bogard has been let go at Gateway. Bogard was the head of Gateway Network and the pastor who famously said God had given Gateway a mission to rich people. In a speech earlier this year Bogard said:
And so, as we look at our bulls eye, God has called us, to reach professional people. That’s our bulls eye. We’re still gonna help the down and out. We do it every week. We’re still gonna help single moms. We do it every week. We-we’re still going to uh, look and help marriages and blended families. We’re gonna work through their issues. But our bulls eye is the business professionals. Matter fact, in one of our depart- we have a whole department that’s built towards reaching business people. I’m talking about people with influence and large capacities of wealth. That’s our bullseye because we feel like that’s something God’s graced us to do.
If it is also true as I have been told that many of Bogard’s former staff have also been let go then the Gateway Network may have some trouble hitting the bulls eye.
The website still has Bogard’s bio but I was told that there have been so many changes that the IT department is having trouble keeping up.
Two sources from the mega-church community have informed me that more layoffs and changes may be coming in October.
Gateway’s troubles may not end there. Gateway sold bonds to help finance rapid growth and some of those are going to come due over the next several months. Some of the 55-million in debt that Gateway leaders reported earlier this summer might be related to the maturity of those bonds. Alas, if the church doesn’t have the funds to make good on those commitments then there may be more pruning to come.
For more on Gateway Church, click here: Gateway Church
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The American Association of Christian Counselors hosts a regular conference in September which is often as much glitz as professional development. Contemporary Christian music artists sing (Mercy Me this year) and big name speakers speak (e.g., Eric Metaxas). There are also professional workshops and training sessions and materials to buy galore. Full disclosure, I have presented workshops at these conferences and once upon a time was on the AACC advisory board even though we rarely advised anyone about anything.
This year’s conference looks almost like a meeting of President Trump’s court evangelicals and religious defense team. Eric Metaxas is a keynoter and the leaders just added Jack Graham and Jay Sekulow. AACC owner Tim Clinton is right in the middle of the court in the image to the right.
See below for the Trump court evangelicals just added:
I got this information from an AACC member who is tired of how politically focused AACC has become. Although I don’t think a mass exodus is coming, I am hearing rumblings that at least some counselors have dropped membership and others are considering it.
I hope there will be a session on healthcare reform and the persistent demand of Republicans to drop basic benefits like mental health coverage which many of the AACC members rely on for their livelihood and their clients need to get treatment. I also hope there is a session on narcissism and that it is well attended.
Perhaps, Trump’s new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci can give a session on clean communication and dealing with the press. Court evangelicals would just eat that up.
“They [Louisiana Democrats] purportedly separated themselves from Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves,” Barton told WND. “However, they ignored the fact that African-American civil rights leaders in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries openly praised Jefferson for his repeated efforts to abolish slavery in the United States, and even around the world. They understood a reality that today’s shallow academics and uninformed activists ignore: Virginia state law did not allow Jefferson to free his slaves, despite his desire to do so. So he worked to free all slaves throughout all of the United States. Those efforts are worthy of commendation – something Louisiana Democrats refuse to do.” (emphasis added)
Barton and the author of the article Paul Bremmer are bothered by Louisiana Democrats because they renamed their annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. The LA Dems said the move reflects “the progress of the party and the changing times.”
My point is not to defend the LA Dems; they can do whatever they want with their dinner. Rather, I want to point out again that Virginia law allowed slave owners to emancipate slaves after 1782, and many slave owners did so. With the 226th anniversary of the writing of Virginia plantation owner Robert Carter’s deed of manumission coming on August 1, it is a good time for the reminder.
Virginia’s law on manumission changed the law to allow slave owners to free slaves via a deed of manumission filed at the county court house or upon the death of the owner in a will. The entire Virginia law, passed in 1782, is reproduced at the end of this post (see also the laws of Virginia; scroll to page 39).
Robert Carter used that law to free his slaves. In his deed of manumission (linked at the end of the post), Carter said the following:
And whereas I have for some time past been convinced that to retain them [slaves] in slavery is contrary to the true principles of Religion & Justice, that therefore it was my Duty to manumit them, if it could be accomplished without infringing the laws of my Country, without being of disadvantage to my neighbors & the Community at large: And whereas the General Assembly for the Commonwealth of Virginia did in the year seventeen hundred eighty two enact a Law entitled “an Act to authorize the manumission of slaves” now be it remembered that the said Robert do under the said Act for myself my heirs my Executors & administrators emancipate from slavery all such my slaves in the aforesaid Schedule (as are under the age of forty-six years) but in a manner & form as hereafter particularly mentioned & set forth. (emphasis mine)
In his deed, Carter set in motion a process to free all 452 of his slaves over time. Some slaves were children and had to wait until they were adults or could be released to their freed parents. Others were older and required support. Adult able-bodied slaves were able to be freed the most easily. However, he and other slave owners took advantage of this law that was on the books during Jefferson’s time as a slave owner.
Laws were later changed to make it more difficult and less practical to emancipate slaves but there was a window when many slaves were freed. Given Jefferson’s lavish lifestyle and resultant debts, it might have been difficult to free his slaves but it was not because Virginia did not allow it. For some reason, Barton persists in repeating this error.
If Barton wanted to say it would have been difficult for Jefferson to free his slaves, he could just say so. Instead, he misrepresents Virginia law in
such a way as to remove the responsibility from Jefferson. There were times when Jefferson could have freed his slaves and other times when he would not have been able to, but it is wrong to say Virginia law didn’t allow it.
If Jefferson wanted to free his slaves so badly, why did he send slave catchers after those who ran away? Why did he buy and sell slaves? Why did he revel in the fact that slave women having slave babies increased his investment and wealth? In my book with Michael Coulter on Jefferson, we go into Jefferson as a slave owner in some detail.
For more on Jefferson, slavery, and Virginia slave laws, see the following resources.
An act to authorize the manumission of slaves.
I. WHEREAS application hath been made to this present general assembly, that those persons who are disposed to emancipate their slaves may be empowered so to do, and the same hath been judged expedient under certain restrictions: Be it therefore enacted, That it shall hereafter be lawful for any person, by his or her last will and testament, or by any other instrument in writing, under his or her hand and seal, attested and proved in the county court by two witnesses, or acknowledged by the party in the court of the county where he or she resides to emancipate and set free, his or her slaves, or any of them, who shall thereupon be entirely and fully discharged from the performance of any contract entered into during servitude, and enjoy as full freedom as if they had been particularly named and freed by this act.
II. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That all slaves so set free, not being in the judgment of the court, of sound mind and body, or being above the age of forty-five years, or being males under the age of twenty-one, or females under the age of eighteen years, shall respectively be supported and maintained by the person so liberating them, or by his or her estate; and upon neglect or refusal so to do, the court of the county where such neglect or refusal may be, is hereby empowered and required, upon application to them made, to order the sheriff to distrain and sell so much of the person’s estate as shall be sufficient for that purpose. Provided also, That every person by written instrument in his life time, or if by last will and testament, the executors of every person freeing any slave, shall cause to be delivered to him or her, a copy of the instrument of emancipation, attested by the clerk of the court of the county, who shall be paid therefor, by the person emancipating, five shillings, to be collected in the manner of other clerk’s fees. Every person neglecting or refusing to deliver to any slave by him or her set free, such copy, shall forfeit and pay ten pounds, to be recovered with costs in any court of record, one half thereof to the person suing for the same, and the other to the person to whom such copy ought to have been delivered. It shall be lawful for any justice of the peace to commit to the gaol of his county, any emancipated slave travelling out of the county of his or her residence without a copy of the instrument of his or her emancipation, there to remain till such copy is produced and the gaoler’s fees paid.
III. And be it further enacted, That in case any slave so liberated shall neglect in any year to pay all taxes and levies imposed or to be imposed by law, the court of the county shall order the sheriff to hire out him or her for so long time as will raise the said taxes and levies. Provided sufficient distress cannot be made upon his or her estate. Saving nevertheless to all and every person and persons, bodies politic or corporate, and their heirs and successors, other than the person or persons claiming under those so emancipating their slaves, all such right and title as they or any of them could or might claim if this act had never been made.
The delegates continued discussion about the president and approved a proposal to allot the executive a 7-year term. In this proposal, the executive would not be eligible for re-election. They also decided to remove land ownership as a qualification for holding office. The delegates reviewed their resolutions and adjourned until August 6, 1787 in order to allow the Committee of Detail to prepare the draft.
Influences on the Delegates
Delegate Mason from VA used England’s parliament as a model by suggesting the qualification enacted during the reign of Queen Anne. Mainly this involved having an estate worth 600 pounds.
Col. MASON mentioned the parliamentary qualifications adopted in the reign of Queen Anne, which he said had met with universal approbation.
Eventually the delegates debated this and determined that too many good men (they had no thought that women would be able to participate) would be disqualified by these rules.
In Madison’s notes, the end of this day’s entry summarized the resolutions up to that point. There was much that looks like the finished product but there were more compromises to come. The Committee of Detail then took the work and prepared to report the Constitution on August 6.
1787 Constitutional Convention Series
To read my series examining the proceedings of the Constitution Convention, click here. In this series, I am writing about any obvious influences on the development of the Constitution which were mentioned by the delegates to the Convention. Specifically, I am testing David Barton’s claim that “every clause” of the Constitution is based on biblical principles. Thus far, I have found nothing supporting the claim. However, stay tuned, the series will run until mid-September. Constitutional Convention Series (click the link)
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