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May 28, 2013


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Perhaps the problem lies in the definition of church planter? Not long ago, I watched a video on Setzers blog of him interviewing a mega church junior pastor and referring to him throughout as a "church planter".

Now, I am familiar with the guy and was wondering how on earth he qualifies as a church planter unless the definition changed. He makes a 6 figure salary at a mega church that was a mega church long before he came.

Then it dawned on me. The satellite campi! That has to be it. The mega "planted" satellite churches in high end socio economic metro areas where there are plenty of churches, btw. The sermons are downlinked so the "church planter" can be listened to at each location. That makes him a "church planter".

Perhaps Setzer changed the definition and you are simply not up to snuff on it? Lots of changing definitions these days to keep up with. Perhaps there is a category for vanishing church plants?


Unfortunately, I think that NAMB is embarking on throwing millions of dollars of CP funds into these models of churches with "young leaders" at the helm. Where is this idea of "young leader" in the Bible? Where do we see Timothy being told to go to Peter and tell him to step aside because the next generation is here and they are demanding leadership positions. How ridiculous is the idea that college graduates get out of college, go on job interview and explain to the interviewer they don't need to start at the bottom because they are a "young leader" and so the old guys need to vacate the corner office. The only reason anyone pushes this idea of "young leader" is because the young see themselves as superior to the old because of their Calvinism. It's Paul telling Timothy not to let anyone despise him because of his youth - the people Paul was warning against were not other Christians. So today we see that "young leaders" believe themselves as true Christians as opposed to old leaders who reject Calvinism.

But the SBC is headed for some serious failures. There's a reason that throughout history the young have not been put in charge of important difficult things without having gone through seasons of trial and testing. These young men NAMB is pushing to start all these wonderful Calvinist churches all believe they are going to be the next Matt Chandler or Mark Driscoll. It ain't gonna happen and when these men fall away from the ministry because real life ain't like the bubble they've been living in has led them to believe they will leave a lot of destruction behind.

But if only NAMB were keeping track of the particular types of churches they're planting. According to them the only criteria they have is the BFM and they don't bother to look any deeper than that when planting churches. NAMB does not have to answer any questions regarding what they are doing.


Lydia, the Calvinists are now taking over the older struggling churches as satellites, taking away the satellites autonomy so now they are creating is the word bishorphics? The elders at the mother church are controlling all the satellites which goes completely against Baptist ecclesiology, but it is a way for the Calvinists to get more messengers to the State and National Conventions and of course they remove anyone from leadership who are not Calvinist.


Bro.Peter quit being so provocative and act as though only your understanding of scripture and the way to faith is right. Many godly men, including Spurgeon and Edwards, held onto a Calvinistic understanding of scripture. Were not these men used by God for great purposes? To me you seek to divide and hurt instead of uniting and helping the cause of the gospel.

peter lumpkins

Provocative? PROVOCATIVE? Why, I can't believe someone would think I've ever written a provocative phrase in my life!

peter lumpkins

Oh, and by the way, I'm not following how mentioning a failed church plant and asking why it failed is supposed to be considered "divid[ing] and hurt[ing] instead of uniting and helping the cause of the gospel."


Andrew, Baptists have a tradition of wanting to know how money is spent. Well, at least we used to.

Now it is considered an attack on Calvinism to ask? Maybe instead of "provocative" you should have called Peter a liberal. That seems to be the new dichotomy. One is either conservative which now means "Calvinist" or liberal which now means not a Calvinist. Well at least to Mohler's guy Chitwood at the KBC. :o)


Well this just goes to show, "God is sovereign after all!" LOL. Could it be the residents of Forsyth County just weren't part of the "elect"?

peter lumpkins


It is a problem defining "church planter" in light of the new multiple-campus approach to church starts. And, it's very difficult to distinguish the models from a similar bishop-empowered mini-denomination...

peter lumpkins


Yes, we're throwing big bucks at church planting and have no real way of knowing how successful the strategy is. In addition, while it's being publicized that CP money is up, I, for one, suspect something really strange about the so-called rise in CP giving...

William Marshall

Bro. Peter,
I do have an honest question. If we have a larger number of Calvinistic pastors graduating from our seminaries, and if you do not support them going into Churches which are not Calvinistic and they should not plant Churches with NAMB, how can they serve in the SBC? I really am curious as to what you think on this one. Thanks for your time!


Paul Owen

The YRR church planting networks seem to have a cluster of characteristics:
1. They are led by young men of modest intellect and a smattering of theological education. Just enough knowledge to be dangerous. They strike me as the sort of men with little patience for real learning, though they like to have the appearance of being theologically astute.
2. They wear the title "Reformed" as a badge of honor to show their superiority to other Christians. By contrast, term like Baptist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian are used to highlight distinctives in a group, not superior status.
3. Their churches are led by handsome men with attractive wives. These guys were the smug jocks in high school who dated the cheerleaders. They have a charismatic quality about them which can sometimes gain a following. But that does not alwys equate with wisdom or true pastoral gifting.
4. They have little appreciation for the wisdom of the past, or the traditions passed on to them by men of a more godly era.
5. Their services place a focus on lengthy expository teaching, which puts the pastor up on stage for the bulk of the service, and makes him the center of attention.
6. They are intent on being contemporary, relevant and non-traditional in worship. So while they insist on traditional gender roles, the worship of God is conducted according to the fads of the culture. In other words, the face of the church is stuck in adolescence--lots of testosterone, little respect for those who have gone before, combined with generous doses of immature energy.


William, I'm not Peter, but perhaps you won't mind my few thoughts.

#1 the large number of Calvinists graduating from Seminaries shows that the SBC is not being served by the Seminaries anymore. If you are nonCal church looking for nonCal ministerial candidates you have to ignore the resumes from at least two of our Seminaries and be very vigilant of the rest.

#2 where should the Calvinist go? How bout the Calvinists churches support them. Calvinists churches would refuse to hire nonCal so why is it bad that nonCals won't hire Calvinists anymore.

#3 Should NAMB be taking money from a convention of majority nonCalvinists churches and not just plant churches that aren't like them, but these church models have such restrictive church covenants and membership requirements that they would refuse those who are funding their churches membership.

#4 Acts 29 churches and the knockoffs are encouraged to give only to Calvinists causes - they designate their funding around those who are not like them in the SBC.

So in summary should the SBC which at this time is majority nonCalvinist fund people who want to use that money to exclude all those who disagree with them?


I think a post like this is the place to remind everyone that Calvinists are the superior evangelists. Just because we know some who don't baptize people in their churches and church plants fail - just remember Calvinists are the superior evangelists. Because they tell us so all the time to stop focusing on things like numbers and church failures.

The problem with all these Calvinists churches is that there aren't enough Calvinists to move around and join them to keep them going. The growth in Calvinists churches tends to be more lateral - as in people leave one church to join another. Eventually you run out of Calvinists who can switch churches to support the new church plants.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Owen,

Your characterization will not be well accepted by YRR readers but nonetheless it is spot on.

While it cannot be stated by any means as unique to YRR types, some of the YRR celebrities have not proved themselves as morally mature enough to pastor a church. Last year, a very well known YRR celebrity figure in SBC life was quietly released by NAMB without a word about his multiple affairs he had going on on the side while his precious but betrayed wife stayed home with their quiver full of children. He was a celebrated church-planter in Georgia and national keynote speaker for NAMB. I'm not suggesting we "air" our dirty laundry; however, nothing was so much as mentioned about this anywhere in the media that I recall. Sorta the same old thing Mahaney reportedly had going on in covering up child-abusers (though obviously one is criminal and the other is not).

peter lumpkins


Do you recall Jared Moore's post wherein he appeared to be boasting--or, at least unconcerned--if I recall correctly, that he baptized no one in an entire year?


I cannot say what happened to the church Stetzer and his companion started.

I can speak from my experience of starting a church with 5 couples and 4 small kids.

It is tough. There is nothing easy about it, except that you don't have to fight entrenced ideas, past battles etc. because there aren't any.

We have been quite fortunate, and I give every bit of the credit to the Lord. We might be looked at as a success story by some, and a failure by others.

You never can know what is going to happen when you plant a church. One thing is for sure, you will die the death of 1000 dreams.

Other things I would say are that a church is just as legtimate when it has 5 people meeting in living room as when it has 1000 and a building. The average size congregation around the world is much smaller than we often think.

Planting a church is really about pastoring people. Helping them. Our world has a lot of hurting people. Hurting people need help. That's what churches and pastors do.

If you are looking for an ego boost in starting a church, you had better lose that in the first week, or you will not last.

Also, don't expect things to be fair. God will bless some guy you think is a goober with a free building and 1000 people in the first 2 years, while you sweat with 50 people and are under the constant threat of losing your rental space and not finding a replacement.

And don't expect your denomination to laud you. We were almost killed in the crib by our own state denoniminational organization. The people that lead the state offices now can't believe what happened to us.

You will get help from the unlikeliest of sources. We had people bless and help us along the way who were not, or barely, Christian. You just have to get used to that irony.

There is no doubt that the "church planting" thing is cool nowadays. But there is nothing cool about it.

Most plants don't make it. When that happens, what do you do? Look back and rejoice at the people you were able to help while you ministered.

That's what it's about anyway - people.

Scott Shaver


I think a starting point might be be to trace the historical rationale for why the SBC for a period both avoided and saw a waning of Calvinistic influence.

We didn't notice the signs while attending NOBTS (late 80's, early 90's)except for the use of James Kennedy's EE. Subsequent "SBC" versions followed.

The growing question in my mind has now to do with both the historical as well as theological support for the wane of hyper-Calvinism in SBC history. Might be the key to not repeating mistakes of the past.

As far as them serving in the SBC? Will ultimately depend on whether or not local churches and the folks in the pews can tolerate TULIPS in their midst. SBC has no control over that
dynamic. At least not in medium to smaller churches.

It is possible for SBC trained ministers to cross denominational lines in their pursuit of service (calling). Saw quite a few pastoral defections from the SBC immediately following and in the latter days of the "conservative resurgence". Check on the number of SBC trained and former pastors that moved to the Methodist denomination post 1985.

Door to and from the Presbyterian Church swings on a double hinge as well.

Paul Owen

You are spot on. How much discernment does it take to tell you are dealing with false shepherds when they take the sexual norms of the culture and somehow craft a "Christian" message around them? These men, if they had an ounce of godly character, would focus their preaching on the cross and the gospel, and not get distracted with trendy teachings which appear to be taken straight from the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine. The fact that "how to have hot sex" has become a commonplace topic in their pulpits and marriage seminars tells you all you need to know about the spiritual depth of these men. Come on Church! Wake up!


Peter, Jared and Mr. Unity will attack anyone who asks how many they baptize. Jared just recently used his platform at Voices to launch an attack against those who question the fruit of his church pointing to numbers. He tried to turn it around that people thinking numbers are important are the bad guys. And Mr. Unity went off in a comment stream about FBC Dallas because the name escapes me the Pastor pointed to church growth as God blessing the church - Mr. Unity wanted to know what was being implied about churches without growth. They protesteth a little too much. It just never occurs to them that they could be doing it wrong.


Here ya go Peter, is this what you were remembering? I think it got reposted recently but maybe he wrote another one like it. Not only does he defend not baptizing anyone but people who point out he's not baptizing anyone are foolish.



Something many won't know about NAMB, planting, and your CP dollars -- CP dollars, via NAMB, are being used to prop up *existing* churches if those churches have been successfully taken control of by Calvinists because, as far as they're concerned, that church now IS a plant!

I know firsthand...I left one of them.

And, strangely, the elders didn't track me down and threaten...er, share with me their concerns for my soul like you've heard Calvinist leaders do for all their sheep....

Seems that, if you either know or figure out who and what they are and are well-known and articulate enough to explain it to others, they're HAPPY to have you leave!


Some Mars Hill (Driscoll) pastors are now working for Sojourn here which is SBC. I keep trying to figure out how they can afford all those pastors/event planners/minister of this and that considering the size of their respective campi. You are not going to convince me that guys like that are paid 20 grand a year unless I see the paychecks.


Paul Owen, I would only quibble with "handsome" men. :o)

Wm Marshall wrote:

"I do have an honest question. If we have a larger number of Calvinistic pastors graduating from our seminaries, and if you do not support them going into Churches which are not Calvinistic and they should not plant Churches with NAMB, how can they serve in the SBC? "

I am not Peter but I do have an idea that is sort of dated. But how about the mission field? Not as glamorous I know. Not sure the YRR guys would be up for the hardship involved.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Owen,

Only recently were some in SBC blogs posting about whether it's OK for Christian men to refer to our wives as "hot". A profound ethical inquiry indeed. How much our lost culture needs to know an answer to such a deep, thoughtful question...


Peter, hot is mild to the way Driscoll publically talks about his wife. In his famous SOS sermon he brags about oogling her and talks about specific parts of her anatomy that he likes. Of course we have an SBC Vice President who has posted that he thanks God for the ministry of Mark Driscoll with his misogyny and pornovision.


"Something many won't know about NAMB, planting, and your CP dollars -- CP dollars, via NAMB, are being used to prop up *existing* churches if those churches have been successfully taken control of by Calvinists because, as far as they're concerned, that church now IS a plant! "

Trapper, that is happening here a lot. I know of 3 where YRR were sent to pastor and there is NO WAY any of them can sustain the pastor. One of them is pastored by a well known SBTS prof's son. No way is that church supporting him. One of the 3 also has quite a few older folks who have sustained it for years with a part time bi voc pastor. The new YRR one talks about sex all the time and they are disgusted. I am of the impression if there was no subsidy, they would close or go back to a bi voc pastor. 2 of them are in low income areas that used to be solidly middle class and are now multicultural areas. One of them is inner city and has seminary students driving in. All are Calvinist. One of them was taken over by a now new President of one of our seminaries and what little part time staff they had were fired.

It never dawned on me they might be considered church plants.


"You will get help from the unlikeliest of sources. We had people bless and help us along the way who were not, or barely, Christian. You just have to get used to that irony."

I can attest to that myself. Very true.

Scott Shaver

Aren't there some things obvious for the express purpose of not being spoken in public?

Jared Moore

Peter, if you or Mary are going to talk about my article, at least represent it accurately. I didn't boast in zero baptisms. I boasted in the ministry our church did carry out. I said several times that I'm never satisfied with our number of baptisms, regardless how many we baptize. As long as unbelievers exist on Earth, we have work to do. Please represent me accurately.


There's no doubt that Ed Stetzer has been SBC's primary link to Acts 29. While at NAMB, he was on the Acts 29 board of directors and has been a frequent speaker at their Boot Camps and other "resurgence" venues. He would be considered a prominent player in the reformed movement, but remains elusive on his exact theological leaning. In 2007, he told Baptist Press that he joined the Acts 29 board after speaking at their conferences, establishing a friendship with Driscoll and also procuring “NAMB upline approval.” In that article, Stetzer noted that "few other Southern Baptists have this opportunity, and I would rather choose to risk and influence than to pass up being a positive force among the guys at Acts 29.” http://www.bpnews.net/bpfirstperson.asp?id=25221

So much for a "positive" influence on Acts 29. Young, restless and reformed SBC pastors who idolize potty-mouth Driscoll and Stetzer have disrupted several traditional works in the convention as reported on this blog and elsewhere.

I Wonder

I wonder if the failure might be attributed to the fact that the pastor spent more time in other places than the one he was planting a church in. I have noticed that so many of the guys I know who are planting churches spend week in and out traveling all over to either speek at or attend a conference. Couple that with the fact that most of them are just preaching whatever new series they bought from Driscol, Piper, Stanley,Grochel........
I can not figure out how that is planting a church.

peter lumpkins

Hi Jared,

Please note I mentioned your article from memory and noted that in my comment--"[Jared] appeared to be boasting--or, at least unconcerned--if I recall correctly, that he baptized no one in an entire year?" If I didn't characterize your article correctly, I beg pardon.

On the other hand, your article that Mary linked above is hardly clear that you intended to portray that you're never satisfied with your number of baptisms, regardless how many you baptize. The entire article stands as a rebuke to "arrogant" people who judge your ministry at a distance.

In addition, Jared, I find it interesting you claim you're never satisfied with your number of baptisms, regardless how many you baptize, but then state to me your article "boasted in the ministry [y]our church did carry out." Excuse me? If you're never satisfied, then how can you boast in what you carried out? Furthermore, in the article,you make it clear that any genuine work done is done by God alone--"We cannot produce genuine repentance, faith, and baptisms; it’s a work of the Spirit alone"; but then turn right around here and suggest you "boasted in the ministry [y]our church did carry out" in the article.

For these reasons and others I'll be glad to list if I need to, Jared, your article was a bouncing ball of confusion. Hence, pardon us in love if we really didn't get your point then or now.

Jared Moore

Peter, that's the difference between you and me. I don't believe a Christian can just say whatever he/she wants as long as he/she says, "if I recall correctly." I think as a believer, you should try to accurately represent those you're talking about or not comment at all.

Also, for the record, my entire 7th point said, "7. Every pastor, church, and ministry needs to have a healthy dissatisfaction with their tangible results. I’ve served in ministries where we’ve baptized 40+ people in a year, and I’ve served in ministries where we’ve baptized no one in a year. I’m not satisfied with either! You and your church didn’t baptize enough people last year. As long as people are going to hell, we have work to do. Continue laboring in the gospel until all people know God and seek to make Him known! But, enjoy the fruit God produces, whether great or small!"

This is the 2nd time you're misrepresented me over this article. You said a similar statement around the time I wrote the article. I came here and corrected you then. Yet, here you go again making a similar inaccurate statement. I shouldn't have to keep correcting you, unless you know my article better than I do?


Jared, I posted the link so others can determine for themselves how boastful you are. The fact that you think you are in a position to label anyone a fool and rebuke them shows you carry a great deal of pride in what you are doing which is not showing any fruit. It's the opposite of humility to attack people because you are insecure in what you are doing.

peter lumpkins


Let me be clear: to suggest I somehow have a pattern of either misrepresenting what others write or that I do not practice accuracy in describing what others imply is far easier to state than to demonstrate, brother. And, I suggest if you think you can make your case to go for it.

As for me I'll allow the readers to make up their own mind as to whether I normally lack either accuracy or credibility when I make commentary or reviews of other people's work.

Yes, your 7th point is precisely as you quoted. Even so, it does nothing to offset the first 6 points which was nothing more than a rebuke against anyone who questioned a church who baptizes no one in an entire year. You call them "arrogant" people indicating they desired to impose unbiblical "legalism" upon you. You also caricature those who express concerns about baptisms as those who evidently believe "salvations and baptisms can be manufactured."

Furthermore, you never at all addressed the contradictory statements I listed above. The fact is, Jared, your piece is totally confusing. Why then should you be surprised when people don't "get" what you think is a clear point? It's confusing Jared. Plain and simple. Confusing. Thus, don't come back here complaining about our misrepresenting you when you are not writing clearly enough for people to get your point.


"wonder if the failure might be attributed to the fact that the pastor spent more time in other places than the one he was planting a church in. I have noticed that so many of the guys I know who are planting churches spend week in and out traveling all over to either speek at or attend a conference. "

I am hearing that one quite a bit. In fact, one of the small churches pastored by a YRR I mentioned above were concerned about the pastor's travel budget and going to conferences all the time. Makes it hard to build relationships.

Max wrote:

"establishing a friendship with Driscoll and also procuring “NAMB upline approval.”"

Huh? That sounds like MLM. You know what is funny about that? Over at SGMsurvivors blog they have often talked about PDI/SGM method was like Amway with "uplines".

peter lumpkins

BTW, Jared, I'm not going to spend the next 15+- comments with you over whether I did this or did that (which is a pattern you have in mind with comments when you show up on my site; and I will be glad to demonstrate that with other comments if you like). If you've got something else to say, be my guest. But it's clear to me while I have no desire of intentionally misrepresenting your post (rather it's because your post is fundamentally confusing--at least to me--that you think I'm misrepresenting it), I'm nonetheless not buying your defense of it--didn't then and don't now. It's a pitifully communicated piece. Just a fair heads-up so you won't think I'm going to continue this banter.

Nathan Brown

Peter, it is interesting you would ask Jared to make his case. You never make yours. You consistently write with leading insinuations. This blog is the Inquirerer of the SBC. I am waiting to read the headline Peter Lumpkins is pregnant with an Alien. But, I guess the blog would have to change editorial hands before I get to see that.

The post tied to this comment stream is evidence A. You have no idea what happen at the CP you based this post on. You say as much. But, that does not keep you from taking a shot--a rather strange shot.

So, let me play by your rules. I insinuate that you are a hateful man, who lives with a lot of bitterness towards the world.


Dr. Owen,

You just described an SBC-YRR church plant down the road from me, except the pastor is far from handsome! However, he thinks he is and is continually posting new photos of himself on the church website and his Twitter page. I would also add to your list that they all carry ESV bibles and their churches are, of course, controlled by a plurality of elders.

Your point #4 "They have little appreciation for the wisdom of the past, or the traditions passed on to them by men of a more godly era" reminded me of a passage in 1 Kings 12. "King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime ... but Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him ..." The thing that always amazed me about that passage is that the young whippersnapper King and his court rejected Solomon's counselors ... the folks that advised the wisest man that ever lived! I look at some corners of the SBC landscape (particularly certain NAMB church plants) and see pastors and elders in their 20s-30s trying to do church without the benefit of wisdom. That strategy didn't turn out well for Rehoboam.

It's a crying shame that we are losing a generation of young Southern Baptists to the reformed movement with its strange cast of leaders/influencers. We need the energy of youth coupled with the wisdom of age ... the young guys to speed things up and the old guys to slow things down. But how are we to bring things back into balance with the widening theological gulf which separates us? God commands the blessing to be where there is unity ... and we are a long way from that! Agreeing to disagree, getting along to go along is not unity ... but I suspect that theme will emerge in Dr. Page's forthcoming report. Tough days ahead.

Paul Owen

That passage from 1 Kings is a great lesson! I'm an Episcopalian, but if I were a Baptist, I would be alarmed by the tendency of the YRR to avoid the word Baptist in the names of their congregations. It makes a statement that they have little respect for their Baptist heritage. Their identity is shaped more from the T4G platform than anything else. They aspire to emulate their celebrity heroes, which is why they are so addicted to attending the latest sychophantic conferences, wherein people stand around on platforms and pat each other on the back for being so "Reformed" and so trendy. These men do not drink deeply from the rich wells of historical theology, but rather they sip from the muddy puddles of today's shallow fads and cult leaders.

Scott Shaver

Is/Was Harry Potter a fad :)


Nobody has ever said that 'church planting' is easy, without hazards, and on and on. However, the 'church planting lemmings' have elevated themselves as 'the experts' 'the ones to follow' 'the missiologists of our time' 'have abandoned the regular SBC language' and created their own language, click, elitist circles of superior knowledge and 'know it all'. Reject the 'old ways'.....just because they're "old". Accept their new ways, methods, verbage and theology just because they said so and they're new. Frankly, some chilling parallels here with the children of Israel. The pathetic response of our(supposed) conservative leadership?.....well, at least they're trying. Are you kidding me?
Makes you wonder how many church plants the SBC "expert" started and is on-going after 5 years. Frankly, it's a dismal record....yet he has fooled many, draws $180,000+ from Lifeway as an 'adviser/expert' and continues this hoax to this day with little if any accountability or oversight. He also is allowed to bring his 'mini-idolizers' on board like Mica Frieze, who cut his baptisms in 1/2 and 'grew into a decline'....while all the time proclaiming the awesomeness of God.
I hope this 'fad' is burning itself OUT!!!!!!!!

Scott Shaver


In Pete's defense. He obviously stung you. Not so much with his "hatefulness" as his discernment IMO. His logic sounds like a far more viable option than the apple pie al mohler YRR crowd.

Those of us sitting in the back pews don't have to send money to any portion of the SBC we don't support. Bet you dollar to a doughnut those SBC affiliated local churches that want to present yearly or bi-yearly special gifts to the SBC entity receiving their imprimatur can get em there.

And to play by the "rules" you made up and attributed to Peter: I sense that you tend to be hyper-sensitive, hyper-calvinist whipper-snapper, unequipped to hurl at this point anything other than personal attacks.

What did happen to the church in question and how many others have disappeared with NAMB money. Curious pew sitters wanna know.


Reading this blog makes me all the more grateful for the YRR movement.

You all and this hilarious conversation in the thread merely shows why the YRR is necessary and why young SBC pastors arent attracted to your ilk.


It should be noted that the percentage rate of success is significantly higher for A29 church plants than NAMB plants over the last decade.

Thankfully, NAMB leaders have some humility and are learning from A29 and other successful church planting networks. While you all might hate it, the results are God's kingdom further advancing.

Basil Wrathbone

I noticed the other day that an older Southern Baptist church in town was re-named, taking Baptist out of the name and calling it a "community" church. This piqued my interest, so I went to the web and saw that this was being referred to as a "church re-plant." By calling it a replant, the SBC has created a clever scheme to receive funding from NAMB and to boost the church planting numbers they share with everyone. This information should be segregated from what is a true "church plant" so we know what is going on in the SBC. Also, I would like to note that church planting like Ed Stetzer attempted will never attract people because there is no sense of permanence. These guys go into these areas, start a Bible study, plant a church, and then treat it as something they can just up and leave whenever they want to leave. People sense that they are being manipulated and then flee these short-term entities. I tell you what I want to see, I want to see a pastor go into a community and invest himself into the lives of the people. This is the only way a church will succeed in God's eyes.

Rick Patrick


Thanks for reporting this news about Stetzer's former church plant. While no one rejoices over a failed church, at least we can be glad there is an information source for Southern Baptists to receive such relevant news, since typical religious media outlets ignore these stories.

I think we need to view this case as part of the larger picture of SBC church plants. IF INDEED we are over saturating our communities with more Reformed SBC church plants than our communities desire and are willing to support, then our missiological strategy is flawed. Whatever the ratio might be of Calvinist to Traditionalist churches among the established fellowships in our convention, it is unwise to exceed that level among church plants. We should plant theologically relevant churches.

peter lumpkins

Hi Nathan,

You appear confident I "never" make my case about the subjects I deem worthy of commentary. Wow! Over 1,200 posts in the last 6+ years and I never have made my case. Poor me.

You further state my site to be the "Inquirerer [sic] of the SBC." Why of course, Nathan. Thank you. Is this why so many of the YRR read this blog despite their hate for this blog?

What is more, you claim "The post tied to this comment stream is evidence A. You have no idea what happen at the CP you based this post on. You say as much. But, that does not keep you from taking a shot--a rather strange shot."

I'm afraid I don't get your point, Nathan. What does the Cooperative Program have to do with asking the questions I asked? My questions are not based on the CP. My questions are based upon the present non-existence of the Lake Ridge church. Unless, of course, you'd like to dispute my claim that the Lake Ridge church plant still exists. We're all ears here, Nathan.

While you are at it, see if you can find the other two church plants Lake Ridge church reportedly planted. Josh Malone says of the Lake Ridge church plant:

"They [i.e. Lake Ridge church] have already been a part of planting two other churches in Georgia and are comitted [sic] to being a church that plants churches." http://joshmalone.com/tag/lake-ridge-church/

Personally, I'd like to know the names of the two churches Lake Ridge planted and see if they are still in existence. Do you think you could find out for us and post the info here?

Finally, while you may "insinuate" all you like I am a "hateful man, who lives with a lot of bitterness towards the world," know you are not "playing by my rules" to borrow your image. I actually link to the sources from whence I infer my conclusions so others may judge whether I'm either misrepresenting the sources or have simply illegitimately drawn an incorrect deduction. On the other hand, what you've done here is make emotionally-driven insults you apparently imagine to be really powerful rebuttals to what I've written.

peter lumpkins

Well, hello Matt Svoboda!

I'm really surprised it took you so long to show up. It’s been almost a month. Last time you commented, you accused me of becoming “worse than liberals when discussing conservative politics.” You had managed to stay away for almost a year and a half. Back then you logged on to characterize my blog as a “good example” of those who disagree about Calvinism not being able to “get along.”

And, now you show up and what do you contribute as an opening salvo? Well, it’s all about my blog and me again. In short, we're the pits. Why you YRR types cannot address the ideas without making it personal is anybody’s guess. Don’t ya’ll know by now your practice of rapid-fire insults is not having a neutralizing effect upon this site?

And please be aware, I have no goal of attracting YRR to my “ilk.” None. Zero. I’m much to old for one thing to worry whether people are attracted to me or not. I write not to get a following; I write because I believe what I am writing is true.

Now as for your second comment, bravo Matt. Again, I say, Bravo! You actually make a real contribution to the thread since you state a claim about the subject of the post rather personally poke somebody (either me or another) in the eye. You claim:

“It should be noted that the percentage rate of success is significantly higher for A29 church plants than NAMB plants over the last decade”

Please don’t take this the wrong way, Matt, but do you have any evidence upon which you base your claim? Evidence which we could consider to verify your bold claim? I know of no objective studies which have dealt with A29 or other church planting networks and their success rate either individually or comparatively to church plants in the SBC. Understand: I’m not saying no objective studies exist; only that I don’t know of them. And, if they do exist, I’d give a year’s worth of Starbucks to get a hold of them.

What is more, we’ve got Lake Ridge church plant that didn’t make it, presumably along with 2 church plants Lake Ridge planted that also didn’t make it. Is this evidence for or against A29?  Well Lake Ridge was connected to both A29 and the SBC so perhaps they cancel each other out. Not sure how missiologists will handle that one when they finally do get around to studying church planting networks.

Anyways, Matt. If you get a chance, please leave the links and/or names of the objective studies which affirm your claim.


Andrew B

Peter, I think this post is very telling:

It should be noted that the percentage rate of success is significantly higher for A29 church plants than NAMB plants over the last decade.

I'm not so sure the words 'success' and 'decade' sit very comfortably. Unless of course you're young and under the illusion that 10 years actually is a long enough time to measure success.


The YRR never have to provide facts for their statements. And if the facts don't line up they'll just lie. Mr. Unity is still pushing the lie that the SGM case got thrown out for lack of evidence. It doesn't matter how many attorneys would tell him he has no clue what he's talking about he will continue to push the lie that CJ was found innocent for lack of evidence. The validity of or amount of evidence is not considered at that point in the case because the phase of the case where the evidence can be collected hasn't even begun. How can a judge throw out a case for lack of evidence when neither side has entered the discovery phase to uncover evidence? To continue declaring that CJ was found innocent for lack of evidence is nothing but a bold faced lie.

Nathan Brown

Thank you, Peter. The problem is now clear.

You don't read and understand what people actually write. And, apparently you forget the context of the conversation.

You don't understand my reference to the CP? Your post was about a church plant (CP, for short).

Now, it all makes a lot more sense.


Paul Owen,

When we started a church over 20 years ago, we did not put "Baptist" in the name. We started the church with people who were not from Baptist backgrounds, but basically believed in the doctrines espoused by Baptists. We were able to come together on being part of the SBC. We did not put "Baptist" in the name.

I would also say that we are really committed to Baptist distinctives (e.g. regenerate church membership, high view of scripture, autonomy of the local church etc.)

Some churches that have "Baptist" in their names (due to history) do not really hold to Baptist doctrine, which is another irony.

Finally, I see that this may also be a trend in other types of churches. One really good local church here is Church of the Redeemer. It is an Anglican Church, a split off from a local Episcopalean congregation. The new church doesn't have "Episcopalean" or "Anglican" in the name.

Fewer and fewer people today believe that denominationalism is important. I believe that this feeling is having an influence in the naming of new churches.



You made an interesting comment about young ministers in evangelical circles being attracted to some of the more Reformed minded speakers, leaders etc. Of course, Mohler and Dever come to mind.

I believe that your observation is a correct one.

I believe that there are both cultural and theological attractions for this.

At the SBC annual meeting, for example, 9 Marks will have Mohler, Dever, Platt and others addressing young people in a separate meeting after the larger meeting adjourns.

One thing that I have noticed in these meetings and the other times I have heard Mohler, Dever, Platt and others speak to young crowds of ministers is that their topics are intensely theological and weighty. I have never heard them actually speak about "Reformed Theology," which is interesting. I am sure that the do that, but I haven't seen it. Also, in my presence, they have never discussed the so-called Traditionalists. There is no debate with or invective hurled at the Traditionalists. They don't even discuss them.

I have heard that if you start talking about your opponent (I use that term loosely because the differences on the spectrum are miniscule), that actually makes your opponent up to be an important person and it gives them space in your presentation.

I don't know if these observations mean anything, but I have seen that.

One thing I will add, however, is that it will be interesting to see how much fallout there is over how SGM and its leaders, mainly C.J. Mahaney, handle sexual abuse in their midst.

The statements coming from the Gospel Coaltion and T4G were simply awful. And I say that as someone who is generally friendly to both of those groups.

I had a young person call me just last night who is considering the ministry as a vocation. He will be a junior in a prestigous university. He has really liked much of what Mohler, Dever et al. have to say.

But he was so saddened by the statements coming out of those groups and the continued promotion of C.J. Mahaney as a 21st Century church leader, despite all of the history of SGM and all that has been revealed in the Dettweiler documents, the several year presence of support groups dedicated to helping people recover from their time spent in SGM churches, and the apparent way they attempted to handle sexaul abuse by treating it in-house in the church instead of immediately going to the police, that he is seriously questioning the judgment of these guys.

I saw all of the negative posts on the Facebook page of T4G from people who are supportive of T4G.

I would be interested to hear if you have any thoughts about how this may affect the enthusiasm for T4G and other Reformed minded groups.


Poor Nathan, is going to miss the total irony of a discussion with the young throwing off Baptist that he demonstrates nicely he has no clue what the Baptist jargon has been since before he was born. In Baptist land CP stands for Cooperative Program - not church plant. But yeah somehow it's Peter who doesn't have a clue.


"I would also say that we are really committed to Baptist distinctives (e.g. regenerate church membership, high view of scripture, autonomy of the local church etc.)"

Another problem is defining what those distinctives mean. They may not mean to Mark Dever or Al Mohler what they mean to other SBC pastors/leaders.

Even "autonomy of the local" church can mean ruling elders, no real priesthood of believer, not congregational voting but yet, authoritarian structure for the SBC at the same time. It is really is getting weird.

Regenerate church membership can mean whether or not the pastor thinks you are regenerate and if you disagree with him and the ruling elders, you are not.

My new rule is if there is no congregational voting and the pew sitter cannot see a detailed budget --time to go. Trust but verify. We have too many unaccountable leaders in SBC secret meetings as it is.

Time for the pew sitters to stop paying for authoritarianism. They are enabling all of this.

When someone is rewarded with a high paying job for a vanishing church plant, it sounds like the Obama Administration. The liberals are the ones who want to micromanage our lives and look to trust them for answers. I see no difference in that thinking and YRR thinking.


"You all and this hilarious conversation in the thread merely shows why the YRR is necessary and why young SBC pastors arent attracted to your ilk. "

Matt, You must have been very proud of your leaders at T4G for taking down the facebook posting of their statement when all those negative comments came in....many from Reformed people!

I suppose deleting all those comments shows why the YRR is necessary. And more stuff is disappearing every day. Seems your leaders were so out of touch, they had no clue. Such manly men deleting disagreement. As the Reformed Matt Redmond said in a tweet yesterday, Whole lottin deletin goin on.

And if I remember correctly, sadly, you are the one who once declared over at SBCV that if the hiring committee at a church does not know the right questions to ask you about doctrine, then their own ignorance is reason enough for you NOT to tell them you are a Calvinist. That is the face of the YRR movement that is becoming more and more well known. Such love and respect for the people you expect to pay you.

Your only hope is that there are enough people out there to continue to pay you for such callousness. Which means the more gullible the better for you guys.

peter lumpkins


Yes, and I'm not so sure the way those are treated on the net who take their words to mean one thing when they've pulled a rabbit out of the hat by meaning it in another is not the same way they deal with local church conflict--blame the reader/recipient rather than the communicator. Like Jared Moore apparently couldn't accept the fact that he totally botched communicating in his "rebuke" post toward those who questioned his seeming unconcern for baptizing no one but rather "boasted" in what his church "actually did do" in ministry, Nathan does not seem to understand that using what is a standard abbreviation for Cooperative Program (CP) in a comment on a post about church planting does not automatically make the use of the abbreviation any less confusing.

All one has to do is a quick search on Baptist Press to gauge the number of times "CP" is shorthand for Cooperative Program. And, I'll give a shiny new penny for every time Nathan can produce "CP" as shorthand for "church planting" on Baptist Press.

Paul Owen

1. If you are openly committed to Baptist distinctives, as you claim, why did you leave Baptist out of your name? Perhaps because it would alienate people who would not identify with Baptist distinctives? How then would you avoid alienating them in your allegedly distinctively Baptist preaching, worship and ministry? See the problem? I suspect you don't, which is the real problem.
2. The same problem arises with so-called Anglicans who hide their identity through renaming their churches. It's increasingly common among trendy Presbyterians as well. Hence you have supposed Anglicans worshipping with trendy contemporary music, shedding their clerical gowns and liturgical calendar, tossing out the Book of Common Prayer, and adopting silly evangelistic programs like Christianity Explored and the Alpha Course.
3. Yes, denominational distinctives are becoming less important, because people today are increasingly shallow and ignorant of historical theology.


Dr. Owen,

As a long-time Southern Baptist, I don't really have a problem with the trend to take "Baptist" out of the church name. It's how some of these "re-plants" are taking place that bothers me ... traditional churches being split by young pastors deceiving search committees regarding their theological leaning.

An SBC-YRR church planter in my area actually did a very amazing thing. Below the title of his snappy church name, he inserted "Reformed" on the sign out front. He then proceeded to explain on their website what reformed theology belief and practice would be in this new church. While I don't agree with his theology, I appreciate his integrity!

As the SBC settles further into mixture in the camp under a one size fits all BFM, perhaps we should take this young pastor's lead. Put some fresh paint on the 45,000+ SBC churches: "Reformed/Calvinist" or "Non-Reformed/Non-Calvinist." That way all prospective church members would know exactly what they were walking into. But, then, I'm a simple man who looks at black & white - unable to see gray.


"I have heard that if you start talking about your opponent (I use that term loosely because the differences on the spectrum are miniscule), that actually makes your opponent up to be an important person and it gives them space in your presentation."

Nice try, Louis. You either let the other guy define you or you define yourself. They can not mention you in a million years and STILL define you by implication. Ever worked on a political campaign?

The REAL reason Mohler, Dever and those guys do not mention TRADS in an SBC venue is that they are too smart for that. They would not dare. They do it in such a way as to say "Calvinism is the only place to go if you want to see the nations rejoice for Christ". And they are talking to their young sycophants. They set up Calvinism as the Gospel. The only truth. The young sycophants do not question this because they follow man not Christ.

I have double dogged Mohler in some comments for a year now to say the same thing he said in the T4G video to the convention. Let us have him saying it on the record to the entire SBC and we can watch it over and over on youtube in our churches.

Mohler's problem is he needs our money. The goal was to get control of the SBC entities, control the money and make the SBC Calvinist. He has done quite well using Non Calvinist money to do it. The YRR will applaud that because they think it is for a greater good and to Glorify God. It is Stalinesque. But that is how the YRR think: We know best for you and we have truth.

These guys are deceptive, insulated and isolated. They are surrounded by yes men and have no accountability.

peter lumpkins
"They are surrounded by yes men and have no accountability."

We now have the perfect smoking gun--C.J. Mahaney

Paul Owen

I guess my question is "why?" If a church is not ashamed of its distinctives and intends to stand for them, what is the advantage of keeping Baptist (or Anglican or Presbyterian) out of the name? It seems to me to be a sign that a group is embarrassed about their historical identity. But I agree with you that the problem is much deeper than labels.


"They are surrounded by yes men and have no accountability."

Mohler Moments, Piper Points, and Driscoll Drivel will eventually run their course. Accountability always floats up and a day of reckoning will fall. Countless disillusioned YRR pastors will scatter, with nothing but heartache left in the pews. In the meantime, our true enemy is having a heyday in SBC ranks.



It's really not that tough.

It is not a Baptist Distinctive to name one's church "Baptist."

In the Baptist world, a congregation can name the church whatever the people want to name it.

I guess you guys can't do that.

You are correct that today many people are uneducated and don't know church history. Many of these people rely on labels for some vague notion of church affiliation. There is nothing good about that.

So why play to that weakness?

We would rather they understand the distinctives, some of which I mentioned, rather than relying on or getting hung up on a label.

Baptists in the U.S. are the offspring of Separatists in England who, understandbly, left the Church of England.

We actually have a church history class being taught by a young man who has his ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, and it is a very good class.

We also spend a great deal of time with Baptist distinctives. Our church, for example, owns its own property because it is autonomous. In the Episcopal world, even if the property is deeded to the congregation, the property is held for the Diocese.

Baptists would never agree to such an arrangement.

The people in our church know the difference.

I believe that one of the main reasons people do not care for denominationalism is the stale, rigid and unchanging nature of some denominations.

Many young and old people of all denominations are looking for modern expressions of timeless truth.

The Anglican church I mentioned is not hiding its identity. Not by a long shot. And it is very faithful to orthodox doctrine, more so than some of the local Espiscopal churches.

They are actually more faithful to the tradition of the Church of England in doctrine (e.g. believe Jesus's pronoucement that marriage is between one man and one woman vs. the new Episcopalian position on so-called "gay marriage.)

Which is more faithful? To use the Common Book of Prayer and to reject Jesus' teaching on marriage, or to use a modern prayer book and to follow Jesus' teaching on marriage?

Which group is actually more knowledgeable of church history? The group that follows Jesus' teaching or the group that does not?

You seem to have a real fixation with what everyone calls their church.

The most important thing in a church is whether they are being faithful to Jesus. What is happening on the inside of the church is more important than the label.



I was wondering.

What do you think of the term "LifeWay?"

William Marshall

My question was a long time ago, but I will try to speak to those who responded:

It seems that your answer is that Calvinists in the SBC should only go to Calvinistic Churches, which makes sense I guess. Should they be able to plant Churches through NAMB?

Do you think that SBC Calvinists should leave the denomination and join another one?

I pray that many Calvinists are going to the mission field (along with nonCalvinists). And I believe many are. Are you saying that you support Calvinists planting Churches through IMB but not through NAMB? I'm not sure I understand the difference.

Bro. Peter,
You may not have seen the question, but if you have the time I would like your thoughts: If our seminaries are producing more and more Calvinists and you do not support them planting or going to nonCalvinist Churches, where should they serve? Thanks,


peter lumpkins


My apologies, brother. I did see your question but became enamored with the warm and fuzzies from some of the YRR gang (Matt, et al) and thus distracted. Sorry.

I'm afraid I have little to say about it, William. This is a dilemma self-imposed upon the convention by a top-down attempt to steer the churches toward Calvinism. And, you are correct, I see no good whatsoever in intentionally starting "Reformed" churches because graduates have no place to serve. Why not intentionally start charismatic Baptist churches since charismatics have no place to serve? Or Dispensationalist churches since no new church starts I know of are specifically dispensational?

Let's face it: Southern has single-handedly created this mess. AL Mohler drove the seminary to extreme Reformed status (i.e. mostly 5 point Calvinism) when he did not have to. Those who argue Mohler was/is just being faithful to the AP are perpetuating non-sense. The fact is, Mohler didn't have to hire a single professor who embraced Limited Atonement (LA). Not one. Zip. Zero. The AP doesn't mention LA at all. He did so because he wanted so. That's the sole reason.

Now we've got the issue you mention. As sincerely as I know how to answer, I have no proposal which can easily--and surely not painlessly--get us out of the dilemma we're in...


William the question today isn't should Calvinists be allowed to plant churches through NAMB but should NAMB be planting almost exclusively Calvinists churches. Everywhere Calvinists have been put in positions of leadership they have taken over and pushed out all those who are not like them. It's a Calvinist invasion and it's being done deceptively - NAMB refuses all requests for information about what kind of churches they are planting.

Now the Calvinists are actively trying to distract and lie their way through this by saying Calvinists and nonCals have always cooperated let's just shut up certain voices. The truth is available for anyone with eyes to see - the Calvinists don't want to cooperate - they want to take over. Why is that the only people qualified for leadership in the SBC are those who go through Al Mohler and affirm Al Mohler's interpretation of the Abstract of Principles? If Calvinists were truly about cooperation why is that only certain types of people are now qualified for leadership positions? Why are the majority of NAMB church plants only certain types of churches? Where Calvinists are in charge they do not cooperate with those not like them - whether it's at the church level, the association level, state or national. Calvinists have never wanted a seat at the table which they have always had - they now want the whole table and everyone else is to be relegated to the kitchen or even kicked out of the house completely.

Scott Shaver


My personal preference would be not to attend a hyper-calvinist church. As a member of a local Southern Baptist church I would do everything within my power of influence to prevent the church from becoming hyper-calvinistic ... right up to the extent of organizing a vote not to place a person of that theological ilk on staff.

As for Calvinists leaving the SBC to join another denomination, that would depend on how unreasonable they become in efforts to force their theological dogma and galloping creedalism on others.

Based on a lot of what I've seen and read lately, I would say "Yes", by all means feel free new calvinists and YRRs to test the waters in another Protestant denomination.

If they can play nice and avoid elevating their personal convictions and theologies to the level of divine authority, why should they not be free to dabble constructively with any denominational affiliation they desire?


Paul Owen

1. You seem to miss my broader point. Outward forms matter. Would it be ok to seal a marriage with a punch on the arm rather than a kiss? How about if we avoid avoid words like church, or even fellowship, and call it a club? Grace and Peace Club. Grace Community Club. Word of Life Club. And rather than refer to pastors, let's call them coaches. And let's remodel our sanctuaries so they look and feel more like living rooms or coffee shops. And why baptize with water? Why not douse them with Gatorade like a winning team does after winning the Super Bowl? Wouldn't that be cool? I guess you'd have to immerse them in Gatorade though, to stay true to the Baptist principles you claim to value so much.
2. A church which claims to be Anglican while tossing the BCP is not authentically Anglican. A church which claims to be Anglican while redefining marriage is not authentically Christian. Apples and Oranges.
3. As for LifeWay, it would depend on what follows. LifeWay Baptist Church could be a great name I guess.
4. Glad to hear you have a DTS grad teaching church history. Not much for me to complain about there. I hope your church is bucking the trend of theological shallowness in our culture today. But I am discussing the broader trend.



I think the discussion surrounding the model of church planting that NAMB will use primarily and issues of partnership with A29, as well as discussion surrounding the "many locations--one church" model being touted by some today is worthwhile.

For the record, I am a Calvinist. I would not partner with A29. I don't believe in the one church-multiple campus (Episcopal govt. model), and I do think (in almost every case) that Baptist should be in the name of the church (or at the very least the sub-title: "A Southern Baptist Church") displayed clearly for all to see.

However, I do think the discussion has veered to a "All Calvinists want this kind of church planting" vs. "All Trads Don't". I'm not saying you said this Peter, but that the comment thread has moved in that direction.

I don't think all Calvinistic church plants should be "trashed" anymore than presupposing that all Traditional churches have an Invitation where all those who raised their hands after praying the Sinner's Prayer are automatically voted immediately into the church before the pastors and/or deacons have an opportunity to confirm they truly have confessed and believed.

There are poor models of autonomous SBC churches in every shade, color, and size.

So yes, theology could have been a problem at this church. Or it could have been over-zealous leadership using the theology. Or, it could have been many other things as well. Church planting is very difficult. I have been involved in multiple church plants and sadly not all are still in existence, but some are.

I think one point that could be said is what John Maxwell noted, "Everything rises and falls with leadership." Leadership is theology-blind. We have good and poor leaders in every thelogical spectrum.


Dr. Owens writes "If a church is not ashamed of its distinctives and intends to stand for them, what is the advantage of keeping Baptist ... out of the name?"

Sir, the SBC currently has an identity crisis which has a distinct generational slant to it. Traditional Southern Baptists are not ashamed of our heritage, our beliefs, and our practices - we proudly raise the Southern Baptist banner. It's these new folks on the block who want to distance themselves from what they perceive as baggage that will impact their ministries. They reduce "Southern" to a regional, racist connotation and "Baptist" to something that just doesn't translate to the culture like the cool names they come up with to attract members from a variety of religious backgrounds - a community which is more of a crowd than a congregation. Southern Baptist affiliation is craftily hidden in the fine print of their statements of faith "We adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message", which in itself was craftily altered in 2000 to provide wiggle room for theological difference. Maintaining some semblance of SBC affiliation entitles the YRR church planters to access funds they wouldn't otherwise receive, as noted by other commenters.

Paul Owen

Max, I agree with you completely. You hit the nail on the head.


"I pray that many Calvinists are going to the mission field (along with nonCalvinists). And I believe many are. Are you saying that you support Calvinists planting Churches through IMB but not through NAMB? I'm not sure I understand the difference."

William, First of all as to "serving" in the SBC, I have no idea what you are talking about. Our structure/method has changed to accomodate them to the point of excluding others. Mohler loyalists are in all spheres of leadership. So to even suggest there will be no where for them to serve seems a bit ridiculous to me.

As to going on the mission field, my view is that Calvinism works best on paper and in pulpits. It does not work well in practical application. It does work best historically with magisterial government as in church state. In fact, historically those of us commenting here who are not Cals would have been banished, tortured or burned until a few Diests decided church/state government not a good idea. I think this resurgence will wain as Calvinism usually does historically and usually goes liberal or dies out.

And I really do not think it is about Calvinism at all when it comes to the leaders. (That is why some are Calvinists depending on the audience or a "4pter" with other audiences)

My theory is that it is about power and controlling the SBC dollars to usher in some uber denomination and Mohler will be it's leader. It is not that hard to whip up young allegiance with such things as "only we have the true Gospel" and we must bring back "truth" in our churches, etc, ad nauseum.

Our problem is not "leadership" as Nate says above. Our problem is that we as Baptists are LOOKING TO LEADERSHIP AT ALL. We have not been about looking to a human to show us the way. We have been about independent people and churches cooperating for missions. That is not who we are anymore. We have a whole generation who is looking to humans to follow. And that is part of the whole entitlement mentality we see rearing it's ugly head with the YRR.

I believe the SBC as we knew it is dead. I think Al will have a good run but social media won't allow it to last as long as SGM did. They will have to become more and more authoritarian in order to shame folks not to read blogs, etc. Which is usually where Calvinism goes if it does not go more social justice focused.


"I think one point that could be said is what John Maxwell noted, "Everything rises and falls with leadership." Leadership is theology-blind. We have good and poor leaders in every thelogical spectrum."

Nate, Don't get too hung up on Maxwell. He is basically selling the Moses model. Maxwell is part of the problem with what is going on in churches from the old church growth movement and focus on charismatic leaders. He made a bundle selling it to churches. And I personally like the guy I just recognize it for what it is. The commercialization of Christianity. The whole "servant-leadership" thing is also a ruse.

Paul Owen

As I have remarked before, there is a gnostic factor at work in this whole picture. Rigid forms of Calvinism offer a type of gnosis that appeals to those who crave intellectual superiority. This is especially pronounced in Baptist circles, where the doctrines of grace (in their extreme forms) seem so counter-intuitive to the masses, who expect the meaning of Scripture to be more or less accessible to the layman (priesthood of all believers). Because Reformed Christianity has a more distinct clerical class, doctrines which seem less evident to the plain meaning of Scripture find a more natural audience.

What do I mean by gnosis? I mean a collection of evasive exegetical tricks which enable one to deny that Christ died sufficiently for the whole world (not the elect only), and to deny that God both desires the salvation of all men and truly and earnestly offers salvation to all who hear the gospel. These claims so obviously contradict the teaching of Scripture, that only a person with deeper gnostic insight will be able to think otherwise. Certain sorts of personalities are especially attracted to this offer of deeper gnosis and theological enlightenment.

Tim Rogers


In your response to our Brother Nathan you gave a link to Josh Malone's blog archive where he featured the Lake Ridge church start. Something interesting is the sole comment. It is there that a pastor out of Kentucky posted a comment to express his agreement with book and bible study of

    Compelled by Love
. What seemed interesting was the date stamps. The article was date stamped April 2008. The comment was date stamped November 2009. In the comment stream the commenter was searching for the website for Lake Ridge. Thus, less than 18 months later we see (it seems) the church was no longer in existence. Could it be that Malone was writing the article to feature the church because they were in jeopardy of closing the doors when the article went out? Don't know but I find it interesting that a church is featured as being located in "one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and one of the wealthiest..." is no longer in existence 18 months later even when it is led by two successful authors.

Jennifer S

This is one of many things that concern me about Ed Stetzer. ...He fully embraces and promotes Margret Feinberg,(I would like answers about this from LifeWay), He defends and promotes Jonathan Merritt( On his LifeWay Blog).. the man has had gay sex according to Azariah Southworth with him and Azariah claimed Mr. Merritt did not tell his church the truth and that he has had multiple gay sex affairs (Google Queer and Queerer Jonathan Merritt)but Stetzer promotes him. It could be said that Stetzer is the chief of the Emergent church movement within the SBC. So, how has Stetzer helped the SBC ??

Scott Shaver

Which demonstrates why God sends pastors instead of authors to shepherd churches.


Upstream in the comments, Dr. Owen offers this "They have a charismatic quality about them which can sometimes gain a following."

There's no doubt that the most successful YRR church plants are built around the personality of their leader (pastor?). The plant takes on the personality of its leadership, with "pastors" mimicking their idols in message and style (preaching Piper Points, teaching from Keller books, etc.). When the leader leaves (moves up the SBC pyramid), the church dwindles or perhaps disappears. As Scott Shaver noted "Which demonstrates why God sends pastors instead of authors to shepherd churches."

"But when the sun came up, the 'plants' were scorched, and they withered because they had no root" (Matthew 13:6).


Jennifer, Ed Stetzer is not accountable to the peasants and Lifeway doesn't have to answer any questions.

We're not supposed to talk about Merritt. Al Mohler told us we're all liars about homosexuality and Merrit who is a young leader who we should listen to on issues like homosexuality was really sorry when he got caught. So the elites quickly decided that since we're all liars we should just shut up.

Paul Owen

I realize now that Louis (above) must have been asking me about Stetzer's LifeWay organization. I don't know the first thing about them.


Lydia, I'm not agreeing with everything Maxwell said. In fact, Maxwell's quote is not the summation of my comment, but it is relevant and poignant. Everything, whether in the home, church, or nation, rises and falls with leadership. The point is that one can't isolate and assume that only one theological perspective has poor leaders, all of them do. Every church (or church-plant) is one poor leader (pastor) away from destruction.


" These claims so obviously contradict the teaching of Scripture, that only a person with deeper gnostic insight will be able to think otherwise. Certain sorts of personalities are especially attracted to this offer of deeper gnosis and theological enlightenment.

Paul, I would LOVE to see some more indepth discussion on this topic. I want to hear more from folks who have left the YRR movement and why.

What has shocked me the most is the educated middle class youngens being attracted to the YRR doctrines...and i am NOT talking about the ministerial class. But the pew sitters.

As I have talked with several of them in depth who have now left not only the church but the doctrine because they started studying on their own. These are educated people with PhD's and MBA's!

Sadly more and more are becoming agnostic or athiest because their first real exposure to Christianity in depth was with the determinist paradigm of the YRR. I have met a few on blogs and on ex Christians.

The others i have spoken with think they were attracted to something like the "order", besides being love bombed. And more systematized doctrine with the answers (even if a mystery) and an exclusivity of having the answers. So there was a sort of group appeal as in "we are the true church".

Both told me the model is not sustainable if people start questioning foundational premises. That is when they started to get in trouble with their young pastors.

Scott Shaver


Would they rather us talk about them while sending money or talk about them while not sending money? This would seem to be the bottom line IMHO.

Why force SBC leaders to hold their noses from the stench of receiving tainted money from liberals, moderates ... and now Arminians? These are not the labels I would choose for folks still remaining across the SBC spectrum but they do seem to be the labels some SBC leaders and their sycophants prefer.

One gets the impression from their arrogance that the SBC could actually withstand another post "CR" exodus of money, gifts and talents.

Why isn't the possibility of non-SBC affiliated networks of more mutually compatible Baptist churches (non-hyper Calvinist) which really enjoy one another's fellowship and mutual ministry endeavors not more of a concern to SBC leaders? Such networks might even find ways to get more bang out of their mission/education bucks while actually enjoying a good time in each other's presence.

And by way of disclaimer I'm not talking about the kind of networks (i.e. CBF) that shoot themselves in the foot attempting to present a "Baptist" denominational alternative.

So NAMB now plants hybrid Calvinist churches and a good number of us long-time SBC pew sitters can no longer recommend/support at least 2 of our SBC seminaries for theological and pastoral training from fear of what they're turning out.

How long does a local body continue to throw money down a rat hole?

Somebody give me some help here.

Paul Owen

Lydia, this is why I sometimes refer to the YRR and the ORR (theological elites within Reformed Baptist and PCA circles) as the TULIP cult. For these people, it is the gnosic character of strict Calvinism that makes Christianity intellectually appealing. But one of two things tend to happen. Either the novelty wears off (you can only navel gaze at the glory of TULIP for so long), and Christianity becomes boring again, or you focus your energy on criticizing the less enlightened with tighter and tighter boundaries. Thus the fires of such a faith can only stay lit if there is some new theological demon to slay. These people become increasingly ugly, insular and arrogant.

Like all cults, when converts become disaffected with the gnostic message, or come to question its theological coherence, they often simply abandon the Christian path altogether. That is why cultic movements are so dangerous. It's not only that the doctrines are bad, but cults have the effect of cutting people out of the life of the mainstream Christian body. Once the cult has convinced a person that ordinary Christianity is defective, what are they supposed to "go back" to once they realize that the gnosis (in this case the TULIP gospel) they were offered is theologically vacuous?

Scott Shaver


Very cogently stated. I can see it.

Wonder how many of these YRR's will either moderate their thinking or cross over to the dark side within next 10-15 years?


"Every church (or church-plant) is one poor leader (pastor) away from destruction."

nate, how we define "leader" for the Body of Christ is very important. In my studies it denotes "one who has gone before" which has a different connotation than our Western understanding.

I would say it goes more like this with some consideration: every church plant is one poor SERVANT away from destruction.

We (The Body) has got to stop thinking like children and teaching others(new believers) to remain children. Our true "leader" is King Jesus.

Sorry but as a leadership trainer for 25 years and studying under the secular greats, I get real testy about these things. I personally think it is a HUGE mistake to map secular (Roman) leadership principals to the Body of Christ. They don't map in a good way and it is killing us spiritually.



ORR is Orthodox Presbyterian? We could fit CREC (Wilson) and Vision Forum into that category. I read a blog post by an Orthodox Pres pastor a while back who left it because of the constant conflicts over what he thought was hopeless minutia. He was literally worn out. I wish I could remember the name of the blog. His blog post was excellent.

"But one of two things tend to happen. Either the novelty wears off (you can only navel gaze at the glory of TULIP for so long), and Christianity becomes boring again, or you focus your energy on criticizing the less enlightened with tighter and tighter boundaries. Thus the fires of such a faith can only stay lit if there is some new theological demon to slay. These people become increasingly ugly, insular and arrogant."

This is exactly what I am seeing happen from some of the people who are going to YRR churches here that I know. And I am starting to see some flickers of hope that some are becoming worn out with Piper's navel gazing on Sovereignty and being "most satisfied in Him" because they are starting to ask what that looks like in real life. At some point, what we believe has to be applied to real life.


"How long does a local body continue to throw money down a rat hole"

We have quite a few who designate because they are concerned with what is going on. It did not help that someone we all knew went to plant an Acts 29 church in a medium sized city in Georgia that has a church on every corner, most of them Baptist for crying out loud. More and more people are asking what is going on. What is NAMB thinking?


Dr. Owen writes "... what are they supposed to "go back" to once they realize that the gnosis ... they were offered is theologically vacuous?"

It has been my observation (believe me, much too closely), that many YRR were formerly associated with the "emergent" movement (Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, et al.). When those influencers moved to the looney-tune fringe, many of their followers migrated to the "resurgent" movement (Driscoll, Piper, et al.) for new enlightenment. I'm not sure if some other guru is crafting a follow-up gnosis to keep the troops together, but it certainly appears that the YRR are headed for a train wreck. Who will pick up the pieces?

So Peter ... whatever happened to Lake Ridge Church?

Paul Owen

Lydia, ORR is Old Restless and Reformed! But yes, I've met people in the OPC who definitely fit the bill!

Scott Shaver

Max, Paul, Pete:

It is fascinating (if not chilling) to listen to you guys describe the ebb and flow of dynamics within the SBC over the last 10 or 12 years. Boy have I been out of the loop!

Stepping out of the CR War around 2003 and peeking back in 10 years later is like returning to an even more bizarre version of the same twilight zone.


Scott, I came back around 2004 because I missed voting and I saw things in the mega industrial complex that made me realize how important it was for the pew sitter to see a detailed budget and VOTE on it. I actually MISSED the Wed night business meeting fights. I did not realize how "Christian" they were. :0)

What I found when I came back and started to dig in astounded me. What I did not realize is that the same junk in the mega industrial complex was going on in the SBC but even worse because instead of the young guys worshipping Rick Warren, Rob Bell and Andy Stanley, it was Piper, Mohler, Mahaney, Dever, etc.

The other guys are not looking so bad now. :o)

Paul, ORR-I love it. Guess I did not think of them as old. I hate to ask this but I am trying to get a feel for your Reformed position. Would you say you are close to NT Wright on soteriology?



I get what you are trying to say. I just don't think that church names are that big of a deal.

LifeWay is the name of the old Baptist Bookstores. The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention changed its name to "LifeWay" and they changed the stores to "LifeWay" stores.

I am sure that you think they should still be called "Baptist Bookstore."

But the Convention approved this or approved the trustees that approved this.

So, at the church and denominational level, the SBC and its churches have shown a willingness to adopt new names that don't have "Baptist" in them.

We will not see eye to eye on this issue, obviously.

But on many of the extreme examples you gave, I am with you.

I actually prefer biblical language, rather than church developed language.

For example, I don't care for the term "Missions." I believe to some it can connote condescension and cultural issues to many people. I prefer evangelism and discipleship.


peter lumpkins

Scott, et al

First, allow me to apologize for not interacting more in this thread. I've been so scattered, tossed, pulled, pinched, and diced since I returned from Boston I've not involved myself in this thread like it deserved. Sadly, I responded mostly to yrr guys who've not much use for anything on this site regardless of the subject matter; and offered a belated response to William's fair question. Other than that, I've read but not entered the discussion.

Many thanks to Max, Lydia, Nate, Louis, and others for good feedback on this thread. Especially to Dr. Owen I offer my gratitude, who, in my judgment, gave some striking commentary to consider. It's not often scholars like Owen engage blog threads, but for my money, Dr. Owen is welcome anytime! In addition, Dr. Owen's non-Baptistic perspective especially makes for a richer engagement in dialog.

As for your comment, Scott, concerning the "chill" about the dynamic flowing in the SBC presently I wish I could offer even a flicker of hope. Lydia is dead-on right though it pains me to actually verbalize it--the SBC you knew and I knew...the convention you loved and I loved...is gone.

I remember several years back when I first started commenting on blogs, I mostly hung out over at Wade Burleson's site and, perhaps to a lessor extent, Marty Duren's SBCOutpost. I'll never forget one guy explicitly stating in the midst of the discussion, "I'm praying for the demise of the Southern Baptist Convention." I objected profusely and offered a reasoned case why his view was dead-wrong, even committing that I would do all I could to ensure the survival of the SBC.

Well, as it turns out, contra my "reasonable" objections, God very well may have answered the guy's prayer. Pride pushes me to think his "prayer" was akin to the anonymous but nonetheless divinely inspired sober caution about praying for certain things--"And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul" (Ps 106:15). I'd like to think that, but alas, I have no real assurance of it.

Thus, the reason it's hard to verbalize is, I think we still are emotionally and, at least occasionally, intellectually drawing water from the old well. For the most part, it's dried up. But ever so often, we'll get perhaps as much as a half cup of the former glory, just enough to keep us going back to check for more, hoping against hope the cracked walls of the cistern have been miraculously repaired, and Zion's water once again flows freely to reach the parched peoples of the world.

But the reality?

The time may literally be here to once for all pay our final respects to the Southern Baptist Convention we knew...the Southern Baptist Convention we loved...and seal the coffin shut; then bury it in the ground for good, shut up to where all human organizations must ultimately be assigned in the end.

Lord bless, brother. I look forward to seeing you in Houston. We'll have coffee. I'll buy...


Mr. Owen,

Just how broad a brush are you painting the "Calvinist" With? (Do you narrow it to the YRR folks?)

Is that fair for you to do.

Coming from the Episcopal Church, you know full well that many of it's church's have slipped into apostasy over the years.

I had a good friend, who's father was a Episcopal Priest, He was very conservative and true to upholding Gods word. Would it be fair for me to lump him into the apostate churches he was tied to? I don't think so.

So is it fair for you to paint so broad a brush against the YRR folks?

I attend a full "5 point" Reformed Baptist Church, Could I be a Cult member?

Paul Owen

Lydia, are you familiar with Tony Byrne's excellent blog "Theological Meditations"? The brand of Calvinism he promotes would approximate my location on the theological map. What many Calvinists fail to appreciate is that the Reformed theologies represented at Dort and Westminster reflected a breadth (and depth!) which is largely absent today. I respect N. T. Wright as a New Testament scholar and a bishop, though I don't agree with his views on justification at every point.

Louis, there is a big difference between a bookstore and a church. Marketing, customer demands, and financial realities shape how you name a bookstore. Not supposed to be the same with God's church.

Eric, I'm not sure why you think I am being unfair. I am describing what I have seen, having observed certain kinds of Christians over the years. Am I saying that every Five-Point Calvinist operates this way? No, I am not. I should think that rather obvious.


Scott, I believe you can, with a clear conscience, withdraw your support(CP and recommending students) from our 2 Seminaries, the "new" incoming ERLC leader, and Lifeway. In all these cases they have ignored the fundamental Biblical beliefs of the Conservative Resurgence. They promote and have in Chapel(s) individuals who are immature in the faith to the point of encouraging sodomy, alcohol participation, carnal sexual attitudes and on and on. Is it possible God will not grant us growth and/or revival until we honor Him by living by what He has clearly told us? We can espouse inerrancy and the holiness of God...but until we "act" by what we acknowledge He says...we are simply "empty vessels". Of course, you didn't need me to tell you that.......

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