Layoffs Coming to Gateway Church Amid Millions in Spending

The fourth largest church in America is in the midst of what has been called a “pruning.” According to sources in a position to know, Gateway Church is in the midst of gradually laying off one-third of current staff. According to sources who wish to remain anonymous to avoid repercussions, Gateway leaders are downplaying the layoffs, calling them a “healthy pruning.” Without referring to the downsizing, Gateway is offering a resume writing workshop to help to those who have been “laid off or fired.”
GW Resume Writing
While the classes will no doubt be helpful, it is worth asking: Why does a church which took in over $127-million in revenues in 2016 need to lay off staff? Gateway’s annual report for 2016 is below:
Gateway Annual Report 2016
First of all, it is worth noting that Gateway is a massive enterprise with a fund balance of over $155-million. At first glance, I have a hard time understanding why Gateway makes their youth group pay for their mid-week pizza snack and is downsizing operational staff. Gateway has not responded to my questions about the matter.
Curiously, Gateway reports $13,123,084 in “non-operating expenses.” Non-operating expenses refer to funds spent not in keeping with an organization’s mission.  As a non-profit, Gateway is supposed to spend donor funds on mission related purposes. If the non-operating expenditures were shown as a deduction from the “revenue over expenses-operations” as was Gateway’s practice in prior years (e.g., 2015), the statements would show a combined spending in excess of revenues (a net loss) of $9,617,522. It appears that Gateway altered their presentation to make the loss less obvious to statement readers. While non-operating expenses can refer to interest payments and other permitted purposes, it is fair to ask why there is no description of these expenses which comprise just over 10% of 2016 revenues.
Possible Non-operating Expenditures
Inaugural Ball sponsorsDuring 2016, Gateway’s founder and Lead Pastor Robert Morris was a vocal supporter of the GOP and now serves on Donald Trump’s advisory committee. Gateway Church helped sponsor a inaugural ball for Donald Trump which took the Morris’ away from their annual January churchwide fast. At the same time, Gateway Church began charging the youth group for their weekly pizza snack at meetings. While the youth group paid for their pizza, the Robert and Mrs. Morris were spending Gateway’s funds on a pricey inaugural gala. With Trump winning the presidency in November, it seems likely that some of those sponsorship funds would have been committed from 2016 revenues. Listen to Tony Perkins thank the sponsors of the gala which celebrated “the great victory.”

In September 2016, Gateway sponsored and hosted a Solemn Assembly of Christian right pastors to pray for the nation. Although the event was a downsized version of the original plan (75,000 pastors in Cowboy stadium), the promotional video makes it clear that the event sought political change through a religious event. Is any of this political activity in Gateway’s non-operating expenses?
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljR6pOifHoY[/youtube]
 

Robert Morris' Message to Gateway Church from the Inauguration

While the youth group kids in his church have to pay for their youth meeting refreshments, Robert Morris and Gateway Church co-sponsored one of the glitzy inaugural balls to celebrate the victory of Donald Trump. In a pre-recorded message played to his congregation inauguration weekend, Morris sounded a non-partisan tone. However, as we now know, the church co-sponsored an inaugural ball where Morris declared Donald Trump the “right guy” for president because the church came together in unity. Watch the message to Gateway Church:

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris Dines in Style While Youth Group Kids Pay for Pizza

Recall that Gateway Church founding pastor Robert Morris told his congregation two weeks ago that God wanted him to break the annual churchwide fast in order to eat the food served at Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to video served up by the Family Research Council, Morris did more than attend the festivities, he helped sponsor them. Gateway Church was one of nine sponsors of the Faith, Freedom and Future inaugural ball hosted by FRC’s Tony Perkins (Gateway Church, the only church involved, is circled in red below) in celebration of Donald Trump’s victory.
Inaugural Ball sponsors
Tony Perkins gave a shout-out to each sponsor.

I don’t know what it cost to sponsor the formal affair but, in my opinion, that money could have gone to a more important purpose.
Pizza.
Like most youth groups, Gateway Church serves food during youth meetings. For adolescents, food is a draw since they always seem to be hungry. At the same time, many such groups attract teens who might not eat well at home. At one time, like most churches I know, Gateway Church served food at no cost to the youth group attenders. Now, to help “steward” church funds, teens have to pay $2 for their pizza. Since teens have to pay, this means some kids can’t eat because they really can’t afford it. Thus, Gateway Church is actually soliciting church members for donations to help buy pizza for needy youth group kids. This news comes from one of Gateway’s youth pastors:Gateway pizza

In this season, 60% of students showing up on Wednesday nights at Gateway NRH come from families who do not attend Gateway or another church. We’re reaching our community!
We’ve served pizza on these evenings for many years, not for hype, but to be helpful. To ensure we steward our budget well as we grow, we’ve started charging $2 per plate (two slices of pizza, desert and a bottle of water).
$2 a week seems small to most of us, but it is not possible for some families. I’m okay with giving “free” pizza to those in need, but there’s little lasting value in a freebee.
A student hearing, “Somebody at Gateway cared enough to buy this FOR YOU” is way more meaningful than, “Just take this; it’s free tonight.”
If you would like to purchase one or more pizza tickets for us to bless students with, email us at studentsNRH@gatewaypeople and we’ll send you instructions for either a cash or card purchase.

I know one way Gateway could “steward” the budget better.
It seems to me that pizza for needy kids should be easy for a church that can afford to co-sponsor a presidential gala. Tickets sold for $450/person and rooms at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill (where the ball was held) were $1000/night with a four night minimum. This was no pizza party.
According to the youth pastor, a donation to the pizza fund shows caring for those needy students. What does it show that Gateway’s leaders lavishly spend tithes and offerings to celebrate a Trump victory but can’t spring for pizza?
C’mon Gateway, your donors have already given their tithes and offerings. Can’t the kids have some pizza on the House of God?
 

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris Gets a Break in the Fast to Eat Inauguration Food

At the first of each year, Gateway Church leaders ask members to fast for 21 days. The December issue of Gateway Life magazine describes the event:
GW 21 day fast 2
This year, God has given Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris a break from the fast. Because of the inauguration and the Super Bowl, Morris will do something different. Watch:

Transcript:

But even if you’re not able to attend the conference, the thing that I love about the first of the year at Gateway is that we come together.  Whether it’s through the fast, or the devotional, or through the conference.  But we come together and we recommit ourselves to the Lord.  So I wanna tell you thank you so much for, for that.  And just encourage you to fast some way.  Just so you know, I’m gonna go a little longer than 21 days than what the Lord has told me.
And someone asked me about this awhile back because, I’m going to the inauguration in a few weeks and then there’s the Super Bowl in February.  And I have a reprieve for the Inauguration and for the Super Bowl.  From headquarters.  So, the Lord and Debbie told me that we’re gonna do something different during that time.  So, but I just want to encourage you.

And why not? The inaugural menu looks very special.
Inauguration lunch menu
Surely the Lord wouldn’t want his servant to abstain from any of that.
Gateway and Morris have been strong supporters of Donald Trump. A Gateway source told me that Franklin Graham spoke at Gateway’s First Conference (Jan. 1-4) and called Gateway the greatest single backer of his Decision America Tour. That 50 state effort was, in essence, a GOTV drive for the GOP and Donald Trump.

Robert Morris: God Needs Us to Pray So He Can Heal the Land

As noted earlier today, Gateway Church hosted The Gathering yesterday. Robert Morris is the founder and senior pastor of Gateway and kicked off the afternoon session with pastors. It appears that the attendance was modest, between 140-200 pastors. Watch:
Transcript:

Let me welcome you and let you know where we’re going today, and a couple of things like that, and how this all got started. I’m gonna share just for a moment, have an opening prayer, and then we’ll have one more worship song, and then Dr Tony Evans, who’s the head of the Executive Council, that we’ve called this together, this Solemn Assembly is going to-to bring a word to us. So just to let you know, we were praying and talking a few years ago about what we could do to bring our nation to God. We could say, ‘bring our nation back to God’ but I’m not sure our nation’s ever been totally to God. Huh-huh. But we want to bring our nation to Christ, and we know that.
And that’s the most important thing is for us to come before Him. And that scripture reading I was thinking about the “IF’S” and the “THENS” And y’know, the most famous verse, and so sometimes when a verse is well known, we tend to forget the “theo-pneustos” part of it, the God-breathed part. But it’s still God-breathed. And that’s 2nd Chronicles 7:14. “IF my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will – no doubt about it – I will hear from heaven. Will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.
So, a few years ago as we were meeting, we said, “You know, I think the best thing we could do to help our nation is pray. And let’s call a Solemn Assembly and ask people to come together and pray and so that happens tonight at Seven. We are completely full tonight plus overflow. And we are simulcasting to many other churches, and we welcome those of you who are joining us by simulcast.
But we also said, let’s gather the pastors and the leaders together in the day. And let’s have a prayer meeting before we have the Solemn Assembly at night. So that’s why we’re here.
I wanna tell you one thing that you wouldn’t normally say to pastors without having the time to explain it, but I wanna tell you something that-that’s not theologically correct, but it actually is, when I get around to it. You ever preached a sermon like that?
God needs us to do our part. And when the Lord told me that a few years ago, that He said, “I need you” I explained to Him why that’s not theologically correct. I went to Criswell Bible College but I know that’s not theologically correct, because God is self-existent, self-sufficient, and self-sustaining. And I said, Lord you don’t need anything, and he said, “I need you.” And then the Lord began to explain to me what He was saying. God decided to partner with us. And that’s where the IF and the THEN comes in.
You know, God parted the Red Sea, but Moses raised the rod up. I coulda done that. I coulda raised a rod up. That’s a natural thing. My part’s always natural. His part’s always supernatural. So what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna do our part. And we’re gonna come before Him, and we’re gonna pray. And so I wanna ask you just to join me now, and let’s let this be that first opening prayer, and please agree with me, where two or three are gathered, let’s agree.
Lord, we come and agree that today can change something in our nation. God, we come and agree, Lord, that if we will pray, that-and seek your face, and turn from our wicked ways, that you will hear from heaven, no doubt about it. You will hear our prayer today. And you will forgive our sins, and you will heal our land, and we receive it today, in Jesus’ name, and everyone said, “Amen”.

As Tony Evans did after him, Robert Morris recited the incantation to get God to change his mind (2 Chronicles 7:14):

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Here I will repeat what I wrote about Tony Evans’ misuse of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

I have never understood why people mistake this as a promise to America.  American citizens are not His people called by God’s name. This verse is not addressed to Americans. This verse is the second half of a sentence started in verse 13 and concerns the dedication of the Jewish temple led by King Solomon.

11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

God made an agreement with Solomon regarding Israel. On behalf of America, who made such a covenant?
This promise was made in a very specific way to Solomon about the very homogeneous Jewish nation. Despite a majority Christian population, there is no civil requirement to keep Christian morality. There is no civil requirement to even be a Christian to serve in government. It is very simple, these verses have nothing to do with us. We are not a new Israel.
There is nothing wrong with praying and repenting. However, a nation such as ours doesn’t do it, people do.

In the past, Morris’ needy god asked Morris’ permission to move The Kings’ University from California to the Southlake campus.

What Original Source Did David Barton Use for His Louis L'Amour Story?

Remember this?
Barton said he got his story about elementary school kids threatening an intruder in a one-room Old West school from a novel by Louis L’Amour. L’Amour was an Americana fiction writer who in 1986 provided Barton with some historical material he used in 2013.
I thought of Barton’s use of that third hand source yesterday when his son Tim told Gateway Church representative Kerry Wood that Wallbuilders only uses original sources for their materials. Barton said professors just have ideas, not sources. Back in 2013, Barton told Glenn Beck that in the 1850s, elementary school kids took guns to school and once saved a teacher from a would be attacker. Since the kiddies had their guns at school, they deterred the attacker from shooting their teacher.
Barton’s source for this story turned out to be a Louis L’Amour fictional novel Bendigo Shafter. Barton later admitted this but said it was fine because L’Amour said the story was true. Barton transcribed an audiotaped 1986 interview with L’Amour as follows:

There’s a case I [L’Amour] use in one of my stories; I use it in the story called Bendigo Shafter. All the kids coming to school used to hang their guns up in the cloakroom because they were miles from home sometimes, and it was dangerous to ride out without a gun. And this is taken from an actually true incident. I use it in my story and tell the story, but it really happened. Now a man came to kill the teacher. It was a man. And he came with a gun, and all the kids liked the teacher, so they came out and ranged around him with their guns. That stopped it. But kids twelve and thirteen used to carry guns to school regularly.

In 1986, L’Amour said the story was true but he didn’t point to any original source as Barton’s son insists is necessary. Without knowledge of the source of the story, Barton changed the details around (e.g., elementary kids instead of those aged 12-13 years) and presented it to Beck and the world as a historical fact.
First, watch Tim Barton tell his guests that the Bartons always use the original sources and then listen to Barton’s yarn to Glenn Beck about the gun-totin’ kiddies.

Maybe it did happen, maybe it didn’t. However, when Barton is telling the story, it is apparently fine to go third hand. When Barton is selling the story, the pitch includes all of those original documents.
This original source pitch is silly. Does Barton have the original copy of the Bible? The Constitution? We all have access to the primary sources for our governing documents. He may have some original documents, but if they are historically significant, they are archived for review by scholars. Good scholars use primary documents. Barton’s assertions here are fact free.
Barton is no stranger to second and third hand sourcing. For instance, his claim about Thomas Jefferson giving his edited version of the Gospels to Indian missionaries is third hand; there is no original source for that one.
See the following links for stories where Barton does not rely on primary/original sources.
David Barton Praises Primary Sources and Then Cites a Third Hand Jefferson Quote
Debunking One of David Barton’s Oldest Stories: Thomas Jefferson and the DC Schools
David Barton Claims Historians Don’t Use Original Sources and That is Why They Attack His Work (James O’Kelly story)
David Barton Uses Jefferson Quote He Says is Unconfirmed (see also this post on the Webster quote)
 

David Barton Is Coming After the Christian Professors

Apparently, Wallbuilders and Gateway Church/The Kings University are cooking up a business deal. Today, on his twitter account, Tim Barton broadcast from the Wallbuilders’ library along with some folks from Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. The broadcast was mainly for the benefit of some Gateway staff. It wasn’t clear to me what kind of deal they were planning but it involved using Barton’s DVDs and books.
Listening to the Barton father and son team in sales mode was interesting. If you buy what they are selling, you would think that no historian gets it right. Truth comes only from Wallbuilders. Barton had some special words for Messiah College history chair John Fea. Listen:

I think Barton is referring to John’s article here for Religion News Service. Since the state constitutions are easily retrieved, I can’t wait to see how Barton will spin this.
I can’t tell if The King’s University is set to make Barton’s materials available to students or Gateway is going to market them. In any case, it was clear throughout the sale’s pitch that Barton was badmouthing actual historians to set himself apart (and of course in a certain way, that’s true).
Now Gateway and/or The King’s University people should find out from actual historians what the truth is. I challenge them to contact me or Fea or Thomas Kidd in their neck of the woods at Baylor to ask why Barton attacks Christian professors so often.

Robert Morris Says The King's University is Fully Accredited

On June 4, Robert Morris told his congregation that The King’s University is “fully accredited.” Watch:

The entire message is here. Start at 2:22 to get the segment above.
(Transcript)

A few weeks ago, we recognized graduates, and I wanted to say something then but I just forgot, but about three weeks ago we had the Kings University graduation commencement, and if you, woo, there’s a student.
And so if you don’t know, the King’s University was began, begun in 1996, by Dr. Jack Hayford, who’s one of our Apostolic Elders. And about seven or eight years ago, I became the Chairman of the Board of that university. And then, about four years ago, three to four, about three years ago, we transitioned the main campus from California to here.
In essence, we as Gateway Church now, are taking the mantle, or the stewardship, of that university from Dr. Hayford to continue it. We have over 700 students, and just few and it’s all the way from Associate, Bachelors, Masters, all the way to Doctorate level, but just three weeks ago at our commencement we graduated 105 students from the university.  So, I’m grateful.
It’s a fully accredited university. If you’ve got someone, a child that just graduated from high school, and you want to keep ’em around for a year before they go somewhere else, then, I’d like for you to just consider the King’s University, and get that foundation, a Biblical teaching, and then they could go on to some other university if they’re going to pursue another degree. So, anyway I wanted to mention it to ya.

TKU is not regionally accredited and doesn’t claim to be on the school website. Regional accreditation is the standard required for the easy transfer of credits between other regionally accredited schools (e.g., publicly funded universities, private liberal arts colleges). Even then, it is ultimately up to the school whether or not all credits transfer. When Morris advises parents that the school is “fully accredited” and “the first year” can be completed at TKU, he is overselling the school. Although other non-accredited schools might take TKU’s credits, I doubt very many regionally accredited schools would do it. At the least, prospective students and parents should find out what other schools accept TKU credits.
If pressed, I suspect Morris would refer to the articulation agreements promoted by TKU and accreditation by two organizations which specialize in Bible colleges. The articulation agreements are with other small Bible colleges. The accreditation bodies also focus on Bible and ministry training schools:

The King’s University is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) (15935 Forest Road, Forest, Virginia, 24551, 804.525.9539) at the Category IV level (through the first professional doctorate level) and by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) (5850 T.G. Lee Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32822, 407.207.0808). Both the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Association of Biblical Higher Education are members of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

TRACS and ABHE are both listed as national accrediting associations on the Department of Education’s website and as such provide some benefit to prospective students moving around in the world of ministry and Bible training. However, being accredited by a regional group would allow those credits to transfer to other regionally accredited schools.
TKU’s relationship with TRACS has been in flux. Last year, TKU voted to terminate the relationship with TRACS but then backed away and maintained their membership. Without offering any judgment about the quality of education available at TKU, I can still offer a advisory to parents and students considering the school. If one is considering a transfer to a regionally accredited school after TKU, I suggest consulting the destination school first to find out if the TKU credits will transfer.

Is The King's University Expanding or Contracting?

The school that God asked Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris to host is having a rough patch. According to the most recent board of directors report, the school has lost three branch locations since 2015 and may close another (Olathe, KS) very soon.
Currently, on TKU’s website, Morris promotes the multi-campus model and claims that TKU will expand the number of locations by 2018.
TKU History Campus
The school boasts that plans call for “20 or more campuses worldwide by 2018.” However, a review of the recent board report paints a different picture. Most students attend the Southlake campus with significant declines in number of credit hours at most campus locations. Three locations have left TKU since 2015 (see the locations in dark grey below).
TKU Extension Campus List
According to the report, no documentation exists for the Hong Kong campus and the NZ campus is under review. Olathe is being reviewed to determine if it is “feasible to continue.”
In the May 2016 president’s report, it is clear that the administrative staff want to move away from multiple campuses:

First, I (along with the administrative staff) have concluded that it would be in the school’s best interest to pivot away from the directive to establish teaching locations on (at least 30) mega-church campuses. The past three years have provided us with ample evidence to conclude that this labor intensive, complicated, expensive plan is not producing the kind of results we had hoped (see Teaching Locations Map on page 46).
Additionally, we have experienced some significant setbacks in our campus extension efforts. For instance, one year ago we were operating on 10 extension sites around the country with two other locations approved and preparing to launch. However, at the end of this academic year, for various reasons, we are positioned to go into the next academic year with only 7 sites in operation (none larger than 60 students) and neither “approved” location willing to move forward (see Teaching Locations Map on page 46).
Second, these “setbacks” have contributed to our resolve to pivot away from this campus expansion model and embrace instead a two-pronged strategy that emphasizes the intensifying efforts to build a healthy, dynamic home campus with over 1,000 resident student by 2022.

In the April 2016 executive committee minutes, one of four challenges was to change the multi-campus model.
TKU Multi Campus
With most campuses in decline, it hard to understand how TKU (or Gateway University as it will soon be known) gets to 20 campuses by 2018. In fact, it appears that the board is going to move away from that approach altogether because at least five of the campuses are stagnant and creating a drain on TKU’s limited resources.
To be fair to TKU, enrollment is up to 747 total students (502 FTE) which represents a 55% increase over five years. However, the promise of a growing multi-location system appears to have faded without prospective students’ knowledge.
Current students who cannot transfer may be left without a clear way forward. Since TKU is not regionally accredited, their credits won’t transfer to accredited schools.
I wonder if campus coordinators are aware that they will be closed down. The ethical thing to do would be to discourage any new enrollments since those students won’t have a future at the regional campus.
What this will probably mean for Gateway Church is a greater burden on their budget since the school now relies on a $1/year lease of facilities as well as cash donations to TKU. Since everything is moving to Southlake, the expenses for a residential campus will no doubt require a greater commitment from the church.

For Mothers Day, Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris Speaks Conception

He did this last year too. One of Mark Driscoll’s friends and benefactors, Robert Morris believes he can speak conception to infertile couples. Listen to part of the sermon actually delivered yesterday:

This is a transcript of the first view minutes. Near the end of the prayer, Morris “speaks conception” to infertile couples (at about 4:00 in this clip).

I do wanna pray over a specific group of ladies.  I do this nearly every Mother’s Day.   Um, and that is, if you want to have a child.  And the reason I do this is for some reason God has blessed this prayer when I pray it.   And I don’t even know why or understand it.
I was getting my hair cut a while back in a specific, where I get my hair cut, and, um, they, there was this lady who I overheard talking about miscarriages and not being able to have a child and she’d been praying for, I think, 12 or 13 years or something.  And I just got so burdened so we, I, just went over to her and she got up at the same time I got up and I said, ‘I’m sorry to overhear your conversation but I’m pastor of a church, and would you mind if I pray for you?’  And so I prayed for her right there in the salon.  And, um, um, she uh, started coming to the church.  She got saved.  Her family got saved.  And, uh, her husband, and they started coming to small group and she had a baby.
And, uh, so, and what’s amazing is, I was getting my haircut there again today, and we were talking about that and they said, ‘uh, Robert, we, we have people that ask to get their haircut in that wing (hand motion towards wing) of the salon – that are trying to have a baby.  And they get pregnant!  And then we’ve had employees that say, ‘can I transfer to that wing (more jerking hand motions towards wing) of the salon?’ And they get pregnant so um.   So, uh, I’m gonna pray for you now.  You don’t have to get your hair cut there.  It is a good place, but….

I offer this without much comment on the stories of pregnancies being influenced by where in the hair salon Morris — pastor of the third largest church in America — sat to get his hair cut.
However, these stories and the rest of the sermon is about hearing from God in dreams and the ability to do miracles. Those outside evangelcalism wanting to understand the diversity under that label should make a distinction between evangelicals who believe such things happen frequently and those who don’t.