Friday Challenge (On a Thursday): “Idea Day”

I will give them props for their attention to design. This new generation has learned a few things about presentation.

This past Tuesday a PCC grad hosted “Idea Day” at his church with the mission for pastors to brainstorm ideas for improving the Baptist churches they run. There are videos if you’re so inclined.

From the day’s notes (PDF) we can see such ideas as:

– Lottery ticket style “scratchers” for special day promotion

– During giving campaigns have staff and deacons give their giving commitments to Pastor and then make them public to inspire others to give

– Give $5 Starbucks cards to first-time guests to thank them for coming.

All of which are lovely ideas…and all of which miss the point about why people are fleeing these types of churches. So I thought that perhaps we should have our own Idea Day — not that any of the people from the first day will give it any heed.

So here’s the question: what would these pastors best serve their people by changing?

200 thoughts on “Friday Challenge (On a Thursday): “Idea Day””

  1. I wish it were Friday. Our pastor would go on and on about his own life – diving, hunting, his five acres, his truck, his vacations – all for sermon illustrations of course. Just stop!

  2. My idea: They pride themselves in taking the Bible literally word for word. I think they should start taking Jesus literally–word for word. Start practicing there–and when they have mastered living like Christ, they can move on to the other areas of Scripture.

  3. Well I guess forewarned is forearmed. If I should ever inadvertently wander into one of those churches, I now know not to fill out a card, or accept a gift card. Does anyone else think they are taking an awful lot for granted? Maybe the visitor won’t fill out that card, or will just delete the email and survey. Maybe the visitor will feel stalked and freaked out by the blatant attempts to coral him.

  4. Instead of having a preaching marathon held, coincidentally, during Sunday evening services on Super Bowl Sunday, have a pot-luck dinner at noon and cancel services that night.

    1. Our church has no evening service on Super Bowl Sunday…..to respect/be realistic about the cultural and familial phenomena it is. Our church is also truly elder led….one of them was asked about respect due a pastor or elder and the answer was that people are very mixed up about greatness in God’s upside down kingdom. He said the greatest person in the congregation that weeek may be someone taking a meal (which has been going on for months) to a family with a terminally ill mother or someone assisting one of our widows to a doctors appt. Love is not a gimmick!

      1. Sounds like your elder has it figured out and is living well! His example of the one who feeds and cares for the sick reminded me of what Luther once said, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.”

    1. Deformed theology is not the place to run when leaving the IFB world, in my opinion. One messed up group of people with messed up doctrine to another with the likes of Piper, Macarthur, Mahaney, etc. etc. etc.

      1. True, but remember:
        1) Piper MacArthur and Mahaney do nto represent real reformed theology in the least. In fact, one cannot really be reformed and be a Baptist; it is an oxymoron.
        2) The five solas define protestantism, not reformed theology.
        3) Arminianism is also a reformed theology.

        That being said, I see what you are warning about, and don’t disagree.

        1. I completely agree that Piper, Driscoll, MacArthur, etc are not good representatives for reformed theology. They are a neo-uber calvinism which would have looked foreign in the Reformed area.
          I also agree–although there are many who state that Arminianism and Wesleyan theology are not part of the Reformed era or theology.
          Do you mean you cannot really be Reformed and Independent Baptist?
          Friends of mine who are American Baptist and Anabaptists–and acknowledge the Catholic Presence in Church History–consider themselves dating back into the Reformed era….

        2. Reformed theology as shorthand for “protestant theology that came out of the Reformation” could apply to anything. However, in theology as a practice, “Reformed theology” refers to the theology found in several documents, notably Calvin’s Institutes, the Heidelberg catechism, etc. It automatically precludes Baptist style baptism. Most self-titled “reformed” baptists really just mean that they believe in the five points of TULIP as soteriology.

  5. Without being snarky, I really think there are some basic things many fundy churches could change that would help them move in the right direction.

    1. Abandon the 3 to thrive mindset and don’t make people feel guilty if they only want organized corporate worship 1 time a week. Use other times as optional Bible studies, prayer groups, fellowships etc. etc…not tests of faithfulness.

    I think it is much better to stay longer on Sunday morning and not feel rushed than to go through the motions and hurry away to be able to make the Ryan’s buffet in time before taking a small nap and heading back to choir practice.

    2. You don’t have to change all of your doctrine, but accept that people within your same congregation can believe different things about debatable matters. Preface these issues in your sermons by saying that you are only stating your take on the subject. We all don’t need to be KJV toting pre-tribbers to worship together. And that isn’t ecumenism.

    3. Drop telethon-esque methods of pressuring people for tithes and “faith promise” giving. Build your budget on what people give willingly and not what you pressure them to give.

    4. Hire staff members that went to different seminaries and have different perspectives.

    5. Make community involvement a serious priority and not just a manipulative method to pass out Chick tracts.

    6. Open your facilities up for outside groups to use, such as support groups, Boy scouts, etc. etc.

    7. Keep the emphasis on seeing people evangelized but stop using manipulative techniques to produce numbers.

    1. This is all good stuff, Larry. I would like to add

      8. If you truly believe that the Holy Spirit can and does work in people, then for heaven’s sake, stop trying to push and manipulate people to conform to your exact ways. Talk is cheap. Rest in your belief. If you can’t then change your doctrine and change the word trinity to twin-ity.

  6. Disclaimer: This is just my personal opinion… So don’t jump on me!

    Stop the shtick. Just go back to holy worship. It’s not a club, it’s not a circus, it’s not a theatre, it’s church, and it shouldn’t be anything else. A place of worship.

    Have one service on Sunday morning, then let people enjoy the company of their loved ones. They shouldn’t have to live at the church. They should just be able to get together with other Christians once a week to worship. Then, if they want to get together socially, that’s fine, but keep the two separate.

    Okay, I’m done. 🙂

    1. Thinking out loud here: If they have one meeting per week, how will they pay for the new buildings, staff, cars, schools, trips, and all the pastors’ expenses? Running a business requires money: MeetNGive. Set up an online account so people can give without meeting. Ooops, that is PayPal!~

      My pastor tithed 25% because he believed he was supposed to be an example. When the men voted to give dad a pay raise, without dad’s knowledge, unholy hell unleashed his wrath and the men came close to being canned. He made an executive decision to overthrow the vote. He was a real rough character and I admired him.

      If pastors/preacher boys really believe the horse-pucky they spew, be an example to their flock of sheep and tithe 25% of their Total Income, not just the paycheck …benefits can exceed paychecks.

      Remember: “God will take good care of you, just do as I say, don’t do as I do.”
      That’s not KJV… that is Phil Collins

    2. Natalie, we practice church that way on the mission field. I really like it better than the American way.

      That being said, I’ve been first a couple of times under another name. Can I please have my butt cushion now.

      Thanks

      1. Because you agreed with me, yes. 😉

        I think some missionaries could teach Baptist pastors in the states a thing or two about outreach. But, like JosThoughts pointed out, it’s all a business with them. Sadly.

  7. Ahh so that’s why Jeff Fugate tweeted this the other day:

    @drjefffugate “It’s confusing to young preachers when they hear older preachers use buzz words that they have borrowed from “emergent church”.”

    I knew something must have gotten him stirred up.

  8. First and foremost: Learn what the Gospel is and preach it!

    forget the church growth practices that have failed in the past… for get the Church Growth model all together, purge the Church Growth mindset from your very existence. Preach the Gospel of Christ… every Christian needs to hear the Gospel and be reminded exactly what Christ has done for them.. Then serve one another and the community you live in out of recognition of what Christ has done for you: not out of compulsion but out of gratitude and thankfulness for what Christ has done. Let the world see Christ in you amongst them not some poster image of Christ that only resides within the walls of your club house.

    1. The church growth model is nothing more than the Hyles Bus Ministry Model with a modern cultural mask on it.

      Preach the Gospel to your people (like you know, the actual gospel) and model and teach them to live it out in community, and your church will be as healthy as it can be when it has people in it.

    2. Never met a preacher who said they preached anything other than, “… the Gospel of Christ…[because] every Christian needs to hear the Gospel and be reminded exactly what Christ has done for them.. “

      Have y’all? I appreciate you clarifying that ‘Christians need to be reminded about Christ.’

      1. In the IFB world the Gospel is a one off event. It is for getting people saved… period. To the fundie mindset the gospel is what gets them in and it the law what keeps ’em. Even if they don’t strictly adhere to that philosophy they do practice it.

        The average IFB homily is more about the pastor’s pet peeves and convictions than it is about the Gospel.

        In 30 some odd years of drinking the IFB’s kool-aid there were only a few times I can remember the Gospel being preached as a way Christina live… it was almost exclusively used as a means to an end… to get people to the altar call® so the secretary get their name on a member card in order for the newbie to start helping pay the pastor’s salary.

  9. Here’s a start I would like to see:

    1. Have a group of elders who govern the church rather than just one man who ultimately becomes the dictator.
    2. Have small groups who meet at each others house based upon age and maturity rather than Sunday night and Wednesday night services.
    3. Actually listen to your twenty something-thirty something aged people. They aren’t rebellious teenagers; they have legitimate ideas, concerns, and insights.
    4. Stop with the KJV-only stuff.
    5. Stop with the preaching of unscriptural stuff (e.g. clothing standards, music, going to the movies, TV); just stick to trying to teach the Bible as clearly as possible and with some intelligence.
    6. Require pastors to have gone to a real seminary. (See point 5 for a good reason).
    7. Allow people to dress the way they want to for church (even if they sing in the choir).
    8. Shut down church-led Christian schools. They cause problems in the church. And Christians are supposed to be light and salt IN the world not outside in a commune of our own. Plus students in Christians schools rarely get a good education and have far less opportunities than do their public school counterparts (I was a Christian school kid and am now a public school English teacher).
    9. Let’s find a new approach to missions.
    10. Let’s find a new approach to giving money and where and to whom it goes. (For example, why not fund a local homeless shelter from church funds? or why not pay the musicians and teachers who put in their extra time?)

    Anyway, this would make a great start.

    1. #1. I agree wholeheartedly. It is also practical. Because if you have a rotating group of trained pastors, you don’t have to do a search for some new CEO/Pastor everytime the old one leaves. An unknown usually really isn’t qualified to lead them, having no real reputation amongst the community of believers.

      #6 You know, I will have to say this. Some of the best ministers I’ve ever had were not theologically educated at all. There is something to be said for men or women who can actually relate to the common parishioner. Such is not the case with some theologians with 14 seminary degrees and no real work experience.

      1. I agree with what you say about the pastor being able to relate. But some of the biggest problems in IFB churches are a result of the pastor not knowing how to do basic hermeneutics , etc. Turn to your local IFB radio station and listen to the preachers that come on. It is embarrassing the stuff they say is “Bible preaching”. They often lead people astray because they are not educated enough to understand literature or doctrine or context, etc. A pastor is to be “apt to teach”, but in order to teach he needs to have been educated himself.

        1. I say “amen” 200 times to this.
          Undereducated clergy and undereducated laity are a big problem in most churches today.

        2. I keep seeing people calling for two opposite things here on SFL (and, yes, right now I am making one of those stupid over-generalizations. Sorry about that. I know not everyone says this but I do keep seeing this mentioned): one is that pastors should be well-educated, well-versed in studying Scripture including in the original languages, and the other is that pastors should work a secular job and be bivocational.

          Honestly, these two things don’t work together in real life well at all. A man who invests years in serious study at a seminary (a legitimate one not a church basement one) and has the intellectual capacity to understand Scripture and historical religious trends is not probably going to have training to do anything else, so what is he to do? Find a job as a Home Depot clerk? Pump gas? Push carts in a Publix parking lot? I’m not saying that those jobs are unworthy — I respect anyone who works — but asking a man to be both is super unrealistic.

          Also, how many hours do you want the pastor to invest in his church? How many hours is enough? How long does it take to prepare a quality expository sermon, not just an off-the-cuff rant about his personal pet peeves? We don’t want ivory-tower pastors who act like they’re above their own congregation so a pastor needs to spend time with his people too. How many hours are enough for that? I can tell you from experience: 40 hours a week doesn’t BEGIN to cover it. So then you add your desire to have him work a secular job. The minimum hours he’d probably work would be 20 hours a week (plus commuting time). Now we run into the biggest drawback — family time. With this type of schedule, his family will NEVER see him. He’s being set up for burn-out or serious marriage problems or children who resent him, the church, and God for requiring daddy to never spend time at home.

          There are no easy answers. I do know that one of the primary answers is to have a pastor with the right CHARACTER, someone who is humble and self-less, genuinely concerned about people and sincerely seeking to follow Christ.

          Anyway, sorry about the rant, but I just wanted to share my thoughts when I read people saying that the pastor should be both a highly-read, studious, educated man PLUS be bi-vocational.

        3. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s not the same people saying the pastor should be well-educated theologically as the people saying the pastor should work at another (non-church) job.

          I said the first thing, but I haven’t said the second thing.

        4. Big Gary, yeah, you’re probably right. It probably is different people.

          I guess I’m just sensitive about the best way to pastor a church and when I hear completely opposite desires, it’s a little frustrating because there’s no way anyone could ever meet all the conflicting requirements that people have for pastors.

        5. In the first century there would have been very very few full time pastors. Churches were largely composed of slaves and the poor, often met in places like barns or private homes. Leadership structures were beginning to be established, but other than a very few, the churches weren’t rich enough to have a full-time leader. Paul took his tent-making skills along in his ministry to support himself as he preached the gospel.

          The evolution of the church into a business model needing a paid CEO and support staff came a lot later. A long time later. Since the university system hadn’t evolved, you couldn’t go to get a doctorate in ministry.

          The Church Fathers were largely older men who had the time and desire to study the Scriptures available, meditate and write. Traditions were passed down to apprentices (acolytes) who took on more responsibilities as time passed.

          Many of the early leaders followed a monastic tradition including a vow of poverty. Their leadership was usually itinerant.

          Our modern ministry organizations are completely foreign to what the early church experienced. It is no wonder that Scripture and accepted practice have little intersection.

    2. #8, yes! We were shaking in our shoes when we took our kids out of the only church/school universe they ever knew. We got a three-page single-spaced letter about how we were throwing our kids to Satan and we are salt and light when we look sparkle-y and have obedient children when spotted at gas stations by unbelievers. We had come to realize if our kids only turned out because we had built such a tight box around them AND if they will just fall apart if the box is removed, what type of Christian kids have we raised? It is unsettling to realize that their journey to Christ may well not be tidy and painless and take a while….especially since their parents took 40 years to figure it out! And yes, public school are full of precious, broken people who need hope and love (like us).

      1. I loved my time in Christian school – the “Christian bubble”, as I called it. It was an excellent school with great academics, too. It did very well by me academically, and, to a certain extent, socially. But you’re very right – when the “box is removed”/”bubble burst”, it took a couple years, but I did fall apart. I’m still putting the pieces back together, including figuring out exactly what went wrong where. My (continually evolving) personal opinion is that Christian school (and homeschooling) have a place, but there should be a deliberate emphasis on outside socialization for those kids, to avoid the bubble effect.

        1. I was homeschooled (one of the eeeaarly ones!). Call it more unschooled than anything else. I had no algebra because my mom thought it was corrupted by the Devil, what with imaginary numbers and all that. She would have liked Mrs. Horton from PCC.

          Compared to that, my academics at BJU were great. But there’s a catch. With every class after the first year, I was putting in extra work to know things very well. That included reading from other materials, extra self-imposed math homework, etc.

          So I really can’t tell whether the good education I got was due to the classes or to me. Oh, I give lots of credit to Dr Gary Guthrie in the math dept and Mr Platte in the history department. They pushed me hard, and I loved it. I did pretty well at Clemson afterward.

          I keep studying on my own, too.

          But I found that most kids from “Christian Schools” we’re woefully underprepared in math and science.

  10. Well I for one don’t believe there is any “magic ecclesiology” that can cure the churches’ ills. Sure, there are plenty of things IFB churches could do to improve, but what really needs to change is their heart. I suspect if their values lined up more with the fruit of the Spirit, we wouldn’t even have to have this conversation.

    1. If they were actually impacted by the gospel (as in genuine conversion of the people including the leaders) instead of being spiritually dead man-centered idol worshipping pagans in religious garb, the result would be lives demonstrating the fruits of the spirit and genuine spiritual live resulting in love for God, the brethren, and everyone.

      That’s in the Bible…

  11. Come as you are day!

    My sister never returned to my Fundy church after the pastor gave a sermon against women wearing pants. She wore her best pair that day. I left the church shortly after, and found a place that was not so legalistic.

    1. Please tell me I am not the only one who shakes his head when an IFBC sign says, “Come as you are.” That is so loaded. You know any poor soul who does will be changed, like it or not.

      1. It should say “Come as you are…so we can have someone to evangelize to death”.

        Do you guys remember the thrill when someone new came to ye olde hokey baptist church of about 100 members or so? It was like chumming for sharks. Reminds me of the scene in the Cars movie when they get a customer in Radiator Springs and go all nutty. And oooh if it were a woman wearing pants, she may as well have worn a sign that says “please tell me about how I need to get saved!”

        1. Somehow between the words and the actual event/process of salvation, someone has done a bait and switch. It isn’t about salvation from actual *sin* any more, it is social reformation. If you happen to be out of sync with their outward view of what a “Christian” is supposed to be, you are worked on to be conformed to *that* image instead of the image of Christ.

          Included is being politically Republican, socially “conservative” (pre-New Deal days!), saying lots of loud “Haymen”s if you are male, softer ones if you are female!, wife subservient, jean skirts for women or dresses, suit coats and ties for men (white shirts!), etc. ad nauseum. Oh, and adoption of a judgmental spirit against anyone who differs from the model.

          Actual relationship with God not required. Hypocrisy a plus. Love Jesus, hate Obamacare because it helps the poor get health care! Love Jesus but hate food stamps, because Jesus wouldn’t feed people for free, would he? Love Jesus and hate LGBT people because Jesus wouldn’t associate with sinners! Love Jesus and (whisper it!) blacks because Jesus wouldn’t support civil rights or the desire of minorities to vote. Jesus was all about being a King with nobody else having any say-so!

  12. Idea Day? Wow!

    For me, the First thing they could do is host an ecumenical conference to explore the reasons people believe differently. No rancor. No accusations.

    Secondly, pastors should sign up for math and science courses. Pastors ought to be able to master calculus and have a good knowledge of the scientific method, natural processes, and logic.

    Third, they should be willing to welcome people who are different to their worship without prejudice. Why do we have to preach against gay marriage? Shouldn’t we be glad to have gay couples come in to hear about God’s love? When they get saved, won’t the Holy Spirit begin to work in their lives?

    Fourth, pastors should call for social justice. They should condemn the stinginess of what employers are paying their workers, the poverty people have to suffer, the homelessness, the hunger even here in the US. They should call for an end to the endless wars and sale of munitions to fuel other conflicts.

    After all, Christ’s Good News should not be about Heaven only, but how we treat others here on earth. The gospel should have power to change lives now.

    Ahh, but if they did these things, they wouldn’t be fundies, now would they?

      1. Jesus asked Nicodemus, “If we tell you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if we tell you about heavenly things?”

        I figure that if a pastor is so ignorant as to not understand “earthly” things, there’s no reason to believe him about heavenly things. If his assertions about earthly things are false, then his credibility is shot.

        With mathematics, I figure reasoning and logic skills should be a part of the pastoral “toolbox” to be equipped for the ministry. It wouldn’t stop all abuse of reason and faith in the pulpit, but it would be a start.

        1. Also pastors should be required to have a”secular” job for a number of years before being allowed to pastor.

        2. Ticey – I would take that a step further and say they should keep a secular job, even if it was just part-time. My old fundy pastor had a part-time job. Then he quit, right when the church bought a new building! He went from a relatively humble man to an obnoxious jerk who had zero empathy for the people paying his salary. He became a raving lunatic at times demanding that the members needed to come forward to the altar after Sunday morning sermons or they weren’t really Christians. Did I mention he turned into a jerk?

        1. I dunno. This group marriage poly-whatchamacallit thingey is sortaiffy.

          Well, Fundy pastors have no problems with public displays of affectation!

  13. We would definitely have more to offer our neighbors if churches decided to not demand an old-testament 10 percent and didn’t try to dominate parishioners’ time by unrealistic demands in order to “please the Lord.”

    I was spread so thin by a demanding job and a demanding church that I didn’t have enough time for my two young sons, much less for my neighbors. It’s much better now, but they are nearly grown up.

    So my idea is “cut the fat.” We really don’t need extra stuff to attend and fund.

  14. The first and foremost thing they need to completely change is their approach to the Word of God. They preach the cover of the Bible (KJV) as opposed to the content. And speaking of content, they need to learn how to actually preach the text of Scripture expositorily (they should follow the writer to the Hebrew’s example) and in a Christocentric way. They need to lose their man centered gospel and adopt the biblical God centered gospel of grace that proclaims that Jesus Christ actually saves sinners, not just makes them “savable”. They need to quit worshiping numbers and trust God to draw who He will through the preaching of His Word (yes, even the NIV and ESV lol). They need to change their man made “standards” into biblical standards.

  15. I was told back in college (BJU) that rock music raised the level of sexuality in dogs.

    An idea for a youth activity could be to take a boombox down to the kennel. Really back that science up, you know….

        1. Christian Socialist, I suspect it was based on Fundy Research.

          UncleWilver, I forget the preacher’s name that gave that “statistic”, but it was at the beginning of the year so we would all turn in our bad music and buy good music from the bookstore.

          Rtgmath, that may have been the time when I began to question all those “facts” that preachers use to back up their agenda. I’m convinced that these things get passed around as fact and no one wants to research it if it helps their message. And I admit, I did get quite a laugh out of my own joke. 🙂

        2. I had a friend who was a music major at BJU. She said that the music instructors told her that one chord (maybe two) out of all of them was “satanic.” She asked how that could be, since they were just arrangements on strings.

          She didn’t tell me what happened after that, but she said that while she was finishing her degree, she didn’t believe *them* any more.

          Anyone with a brain will eventually find something to question, helping them to see the cr** that is being pushed.

        3. rtgmath– Yes, I did. A lot of practice over the years. I was in Fundystan a long time.

          “Dr.” Eric–I likely heard the same sermon or one quite like it near the beginning of a school year at Unusual U, but let it run in one ear and out the other. After my years of bad sermons, I had heard it all before. (I’ve heard Garlock’s Rock sermon numerous times back at ol’ Fundy High, and I it might even have been in the collection of albums at my house growing up. I kind of wish I had it) As a town student, I didn’t have to worry about my music being checked. There was a pretty good oldies station in Greenville in the mid-late eighties, by the way.
          I wish I had a copy of a monograph someone put together at one time using BJU’s music rules to prove Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley’s music should check.

      1. Dear rtgmath:

        I posed my question with a straight face but read your reply with gales of laughter. Clearly, YOU ‘got it!’ Clever boy!

        I suspect that ‘fundy-research’ resembles medieval scholasticism in that it replies to questions by referencing what earlier fundies said on topic before them.

        Christian Socialist

      2. UncleWilver, I would love hear how buddy holly and Elvis music checked! Haha! I wonder if the Beatles could be squeezed in there, too… 😉

        I’m curious as to whether our paths crossed. I was there from 1986 to 1989. Dropped out after 3 1/2 years. I know. But I just couldn’t take any more. I was there to please my parents, but I was different enough that the bojos had an eye out and turned me in for whatever. I never got in a lot of trouble, and wasn’t a trouble maker, but , you know, the fundy thing….

        1. We were there at the same time. I was a “dumb Trade Student”, and married, so I didn’t know a lot of dorm students outside of the aircraft maintenance shop or Delta Alpha. I chose to go to BJ because I wanted Bible classes along with getting my A&P license. I knew I didn’t agree with all of the rules, but figured I could do okay for three years.
          My wife and I actually lost some Fundyness while there.

        2. UncleWilver, I was in Radio and TV (terrible major at the time with turntables and live radio drama training… UGH!), had my spot on WBJU as an announcer which was fun, but I ended up using my electronics training to get a job at our local power company. Go figure. I ended up realizing the SAS would have better trained me for my career.

          I was also a member of Pi Epsilon Phi. Which was such a terrible society they finally euthinized it, mercifully. I was in Pi Ep with Aaron Blumer of Sharper Iron fame, but I doubt he remembers me.

        3. “Dr”, if you look back at this, I wasn’t ignoring you. I work 12 hour shifts 60 miles away, so on my work days don’t do much else. I will have to look for an old handbook and read the music rules. I found a new handbook, and the rules governing music have been removed and replaced with a generic “if it ain’t a hymn, don’t try it” type of phrasing.

          In the early eighties at least, they had a list of things to use to decide if music would check. Things like “stood the test of time”, among others. The person that did the essay took the different guidelines and fit them to some ’50s artists. It was probably things like that that caused them to change from general guidelines to draconian don’ts like this excerpt from the latest handbook:

          The following music conflicts with our mission and is therefore excluded from performance, personal listening, or use in student organizations, societies, student productions, or social media:

          Any music which, in whole or in part, derives from the following broadly-defined genres or their sub-genres: Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, Electronic/Techno, Rap/Hip Hop, or the fusion of any of these genres.
          Any music in which Christian lyrics or biblical texts are set to music which is, in whole or in part, derived from any of these genres or their sub-genres.
          While we recognize that this policy excludes a few pieces that are acceptable (e.g., Rhapsody in Blue), for simplicity of policy, we have excluded the entire genres.

          In other words, Majesty Hymns-good
          Everything else-bad

        4. Hey, I found it! Thanks for the reply. I was talking to my wife today, and wow! We are glad to have moved on from the worries of unrealistic standards that really only cover up the heart.

    1. Boomboxes are so what, 1970s? Much too modern.

      The idea for 8-track players occurred to me, but then I realized that I remember them, so it’s still too modern. Reel-to-reel players should be set up outside the kennels to do research. Contrast the Rat Pack with the Beatles?

  16. Give $5 Starbucks cards to first-time guests to thank them for coming.

    Giving me a Charbucks giftcard would convince me quickly that they are all hype and no substance/quality.

    If I were treated at church like the ideas in the .pdf notes, I would start to wonder when the presentation was going to get around to either an insurance scam or a timeshare offer.

  17. Ideas so far: Lottery tickets, gift cards, fundraising games.

    If you’re going for getting attention, getting people in the door, and getting their money, we already know all about how to do that.
    The casinos, which care about nothing else, provide an exact model that anyone can follow:
    Have a flashy-looking physical plant (and don’t bother spending money where it won’t show).
    Offer entertainment that appeals to people’s lowest common denominator.
    Insert some sex appeal wherever possible.
    Office people the possibility, however remote, of a sudden, seemingly miraculous change in fortunes.
    Put your name on everything.
    Dispense free or cheap alcohol or other intoxicants.
    Have an all-you-can-eat buffet.
    Make sure your signs are bigger and your lights are brighter than your competitors’.
    Collect people’s money in small increments rather than a lump sum.
    Keep telling all the people what a wonderful time they’re having.
    Constantly appeal to people’s baser instincts, such as greed, vanity, and gluttony.

    Many megachurches have done very well with the same principles, with or without modifications.

    I don’t think any of the above has much to do with the real business of a church. But I don’t have attendance in the thousands on Sundays, nor buses running to four states, so why should the church growth crowd listen to me?

  18. No Starbucks! No! Nononono! If you offer Dutch Bros., we could negotiate.

    And I don’t want to know what the elders are giving because I will have some serious self-pity going on when I learn the amount given and compare it to the amount I owe in doctors visits over the past year.

  19. Assimilation System: Step by step action on how we take first time guests and transform them into fully engaged Southern Hills Baptist Church members.

    I know that is only one section of the whole thing. But in that section, church membership is based on completing a class, not on knowing the Lord.

    It is a completely Christ-free, God-free church growth plan. Even on their opening web page, http://www.southernhills.church , you don’t actually find anything out about Jesus or Salvation. The links are sparse to make the web page neat, but even those mostly link to activities or very lightly religious topics.

    It is almost as if they are trying to hide the fact that they are a church. I wouldn’t expect this of fundamentalism. I might expect this of neb-evangelicalism or a more new-agey kind of denomination.

    Was the Pastor of this church really from Pensacola Christian College?

    So what’s going on here? Are some fundamentalists taking a different approach? Or are they simply trying to hide what they really are as they work to “bring them in”?

  20. Practical practices would make churches better.

    Start and end at reasonable times considering children’s bedtimes, the elderly driving at night, people’s basic needs for food and restroom usage, many people’s interest in the Super Bowl, etc. It still angers me how the Annual Business Meeting was held ALWAYS on Super Bowl Sunday. It was done out of spite and “just because” the pastor could. Also, realize that not everyone lives on property and will arrive home in one minute after the service ends. Think about people who have a job other than at the church. Not everyone homeschools and can keep their kids out late for services taking time from their homework/studies.

    Stop wasting time with fluff and stuff that makes services longer. We don’t need to hear three or four (or more) “specials” done by singers. Be organized in how the service is presented.

    Don’t preach topics to people who obviously aren’t in attendance. Don’t yell at the attending crowd about people who don’t go to church. Don’t campaign for people to get up and go to the mission field at the Seniors Lunch. A couple years ago as a visitor, I sat thru a sermon that was mostly gay-bashing. When I looked around, EVERYONE else in the church was a man/woman couple.

    Stop allowing silliness to be the trend in meetings. Pick a carpet color for Pete’s Sake and move on!!

  21. Do activities with other churches. For example, help with the dinners for the homeless or the food pantry drive that the Catholic church organizes. The churches in our town that serve/organize the weekly dinner for the homeless are Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal. Where are all the Baptist churches?

  22. I believe it is the congregations and Bible college students who will have to lead the charge toward change. Their manogawd’s ego (and in many cases, his wallet) is well fed so he has little incentive to get off his pedestal.

    – Stop obeying the pastor’s every whim. Just stop.

    – The deacons and staff need to stop being spineless “yes men”, or they need to be removed.

    – Demand a higher level of education for your children, or remove your kids from the church schools. Don’t blindly believe it when they say the church school kids are ahead of the public school.

    – Learn real church history and don’t just blindly accept the fables contained in The Trail of Blood.

    – King James Onlyism is cultic, and is a ploy to make it very difficult for you to break free and find a new church. After all, yours is probably the only KJVO church in the whole area. See how that works? It becomes “us” vs. the rest of Christianity.

    – Refuse to allow the church’s college to micromanage your personal life. Just say no. They need your money more than you need them. Remember, there is a public college nearby that will give you a better education – oftentimes for less money.

    Demand an end to racist dating policies. If the church or college refuses – LEAVE. Do not be party to such evil. And don’t go quietly either.

    – TRACS accreditation will not cut it. Look for regional accreditation for college.

    – Do not let the church calendar run your family’s life. You and God know what your family needs. The pastor does not own you.

    – Stop being gullible to the well orchestrated fund raising schemes. You are being played, so stop being a willing participant. If your church is large, your Fundy pastor is probably living at a much higher standard than the congregation and taking some pretty plush vacations too.

    – You know how the pastor is always cautioning everyone to be careful about criticism?
    Ignore all that because he is being self-serving. Start talking about what is going on.

      1. Would you have listened, I Came Out? I wouldn’t have. It would have been blasphemy and Satan trying to lure me away from the True Path. I used to long for a place where I could “serve God” without the temptations and distractions of “The World” That is just stupid. I see that now. The whole point of serving God, contrary to what the men in charge said, surely is to show Him to the world, not to serve the “saints”. Man. What I realize now is that I wanted to be some place where the voice inside me could be drowned in Kool Aid. Even then I recognized that constant re-enforcement was the only way I could hope to be what was required of me.
        My suggestion, if these Churches want to boost attendance, follow the Quiverfull Movement. It has worked for centuries in one form or another. Make little IFBs, train them up and send them out to make more. My sister and her husband actually said, we are going to have lots of children so to strengthen the assembly. (Peeb for local church) So far they have eight.

        1. Quiverfull – I don’t think I ever want to hear that word again. I think we had a 3 month sermon series on that once. 9 months later a nursery full of future fundies.

          If someone could have got to me before I got entrenched in the fundie ways I might have listened. After that… I was trapped in fundieland until just a few years ago. My turning point to going all-in fundie was when I was still playing in a University pep band. At a basketball game news camera caught me and I was on the 10:00 PM news. I got called to a special “Prayer” meeting with the men the next Sunday night. If someone could have got to me that Monday morning, maybe just maybe, they could knock some sense into me. Instead I spent the next 11 years doing what my MoG wanted me to do, saying what my MoG wanted me to say, and paying what my MoG wanted me to pay for remodeling the church basement 15 bazillion times.

        2. I overheard this conversation at a party (of non-fundies) once:

          Q: Your cousin is pregnant again? Didn’t the bank just foreclose on their house? They already have 3 kids.

          A: Yes. Well, at church (SBC) there was a sermon series about building God’s kingdom. The Muslims have a lot of kids you know, so they decided to have another one.

        3. That poor baby. I think the phrase that makes me most crazy is, “We leave family planning up to God.” I am pretty sure that’s what God gave you a brain for.

      2. There was a point when I was still reachable too. After that passed, it took years for me to be able to see my former Fundy church objectively again. Once I smelled a rat, my search for truth began in earnest. Hearing of the pain my friends and others had gone through (after we actually started sharing about our experiences instead of following the no-talk rule), was extremely eye-opening. Even though we were part of a large church, we had become isolated by the “never say anything bad about the church leadership” rules.

  23. Hold on sec, there is biblical precedent:

    Matthew 3:
    1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
    2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
    4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
    5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
    6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

    John’s ministry was struggling, until…
    Where it says he ate locusts and wild honey, in the original Greek that means he swallowed a live goldfish. This brought people out by the hundreds.
    Then John started giving away prizes and his ministry exploded once again.
    This is all in the original……

    1. If I had a nickel for every sermon at pcc I heard that could be summed up as “so it turns out John the Baotist, or Paul, or Peter, or Jesus was just like us”, I wouldn’t have had to deliver pizzas in an unsafe chevette at nights!

      1. One of my comments to my IFB pastor when he started this sort of thing was that the Church is an organism, not an organization! He was supposed to be a shepherd, not a CEO.

        He didn’t understand, and he wore the church out with three years of this nonsense. The church did not grow. It shrank.

  24. Lay out church finances in detailed and clearly explicated spreadsheets at the annual meeting–except for tithing. Keep tithing at a single aggregate figure.

    1. C’mon, the only legitimate purpose of aggregating figures is to keep the pastor’s compensation package a secret and to hide the shamefully low salaries paid to the individual Christian school teachers and office workers!

  25. Adopt this dress code: “Don’t wear anything so shiny or jingly that people keep having to notice you; don’t wear anything you would be embarrassed to wear outdoors in the business district in broad daylight; and don’t stink. And if you have a job that tends to leave an indelible odor, we can waive that last requirement.”

  26. Get a lectionary designed to lead your flock through the entire Bible in two or three years of regular services. Generally each service will have three readings: one from the Old Testament, one from a Gospel, and one from elsewhere in the New Testament. Have every passage read out in its entirety before you preach. Preach exclusively from these assigned readings–you don’t have to include all of them, but you must include at least one. Stay on topic. Also, if you don’t know something off the top of your head, look it up.

  27. Dump all passive-aggressive sniping. Don’t preach about parishioners. Don’t have special unwritten rules behind the written ones. Don’t freeze people out. Don’t glare at people–use your words!

  28. Shun strong preaching. Shouting, jumping on furniture, spraying spit, pounding your fist…if you would get mad at a toddler for doing it, don’t do it yourself. Study rhetoric instead.

  29. Stop hitting children. I don’t care what pretty name you hang on what you do or where in the Bible you claim to find the excuse. Stop hitting children. If you insist on hitting children, then when they’re grown and you can’t force them to stay any longer, they will leave your congregation, leave your denomination–perhaps leave Christianity altogether. And this will be a millstone around your neck.

    1. This brings to mind a couple of old men in my Baptist church when I was a boy who said from the pulpit, “IF YOU DON’T WHIP YER KIDS, I WILL!”

      Some parents met them quietly after church and said they’d better not lay a finger on someone else’s kids. As far as I know, they obliged.

  30. Destroy purity culture from among you; destroy it root and branch. Account all men responsible for their own lusts, no matter what provocation they may claim. Account all women who bring an accusation of rape truthful unless proven otherwise in a court of law. Stop teaching children to see the entire world as a seething hive of sexual compulsion. Learn to do justice and love mercy.

    1. I know this isn’t what you meant, but the idea of all men guilty until proven innocent and all women innocent until proven guilty sticks in my craw.

      Yes, men should be held accountable for what they do. So should women. And something tells me we aren’t at an equitable balance here.

      And I agree that the powerful take advantage of the weaker. That has to be considered.

      I think my hesitation comes from what I saw with my parents. My dad did hit my mom–and that isn’t justified in any way. But my mom knew how to strip all dignity and self-worth from my dad, and she goaded him for all it was worth. Then when she got hit, it was all his fault, she was the innocent victim.

      Innocent as a demoness from hell, that is. And I have seen this kind of behavior elsewhere, and heard women taunt, “You going to hit me again?” as they verbally abuse their spouses.

      In our haste to mend the obvious violence from one direction, I fear we overlook the violence from another. I confess I don’t know how to address it.

      I’m not saying to excuse violence or rape in any way. But something still feels “off.”

        1. rtgmath: I also want to express concern for the experiences you have shared. And agreement with your sentiment. Our laws out of necessity protect women (and men) from physical violence, but do little to address the verbal abuse that so often precipitates it. I think God in His wisdom will shed light on these injustices in the end.

          the Admiral

        2. Admiral and BJg, thank you both.

          One thing about Time: it doesn’t heal all wounds, as popularly advertised. Some things are brought into sharper relief by the discarding of clutter that obscures the most important details.

        3. I too am sorry for what you went through rtgmath. That kind of meanness leaves scars. One thing you might consider when remembering it is that no-one outside a marriage, not even the children, knows the whole story. I do know that when I was being controlled and spun off balance by my family, the ”brethren” and all and sundry, I was sharp tongued. I regret much now and none of it can be changed. I hope you can clean the mess of pass abuses out of your soul and heal.

      1. rtgmath: I also want to express concern for the experiences you have shared. And agreement with your sentiment. Our laws out of necessity protect women (and men) from physical violence, but do little to address the verbal abuse that so often precipitates it. I think God in His wisdom will shed light on these injustices in the end.

        the Admiral

      2. I’m afraid it bothers me as well. Jenny I don’t know your life experience or exactly where you’re coming from, but I can’t just assume the accused party is guilty. I want evidence. False rape allegations, while rare, do occur.

        1. Dang I don’t have the hang of this blog. I thought my reply would get indented under the post I was replying to.

    1. I second the motion!

      They should just lose the suits. They aren’t professionals. God isn’t impressed by them.

      Well, maybe they are professionals rather like the hit men the mob’s Godfather keeps around him. Strong arm the suckers. Keep ’em paying. “We can do this the hard way or the easy way. You paya you tithe or God the Fatha breaka you legs. God gonna get his somehow.”

      Still, they should lose the pocket squares.

  31. “I found a new handbook, and the rules governing music have been removed and replaced with a generic “if it ain’t a hymn, don’t try it” type of phrasing.”

    Fundies have hymns? I thought their singing was about “Me and Jesus are great pals, and so sorry about you heathens.”

    1. Hymn (hĭm)
      n

      1. A song of praise or thanksgiving to God or a deity.
      2. A song of praise or joy; a paean.
      Free Online Dictionary)

      Since many mogs are set up as minor deities, they probably aren’t particular about who is the object of the hymn.

  32. Holy shit,

    no ties and jeans? are you sure these guys are fundamentalists?

    sorry but lottery “tracts”, what the hell? I know you have a church in vegas but i don’t know about lottery.

    is it just me or did this josh teis guy still like every method from Rick Warren who the IFB oh so much despise?

    1. James, I feel about the same way. The BJU branch of IFB-dom would not approve. On the PCC side, I can’t say. They seem to have gotten stricter on the KJV-only but looser on CCM. And there are a lot of variants.

      So I admit to being confused by this church. Maybe it wants to show a softer, gentler face of fundamentalism? Still, shackles lined with plush are still shackles, an unyielding interior that restricts movement and denies freedom.

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