Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's with all the yelling and anger?

I saw this statement on another blog:

By the way, the theme for this year's Southern Baptist Convention: "Love Loud: Actions Speak Louder Than Words."

When I read that I laughed. "Loud" seems to be the operative word these days. Steve Gaines yells even when he doesn't seem to be emphasizing a point. He seems angry all the time now. Mac Brunson was
criticized for preaching on Christian civility and love while yelling. Wade Burleson sums it up here:

"I couldn't help but have two thoughts reverberate in my head as Mac preached on Christian civility and love - (1) Why is he yelling so loud? Usually, loud preaching is not bothersome [obviously he hasn't listened to SG lately], but there seemed to be a disconnect between a preacher talking about Christian civility and love while yelling at the people who he says (those of us in the congregation) aren't showing it, and (2) I wonder what Mac's church member - the one who criticized Mac on his blog and then was issued a trespass warning without ever being personally contacted by Mac - was thinking?"

I know what he was thinking. The same thing Wade was thinking.

For the past 2-3 years, Bellevue has been about a year ahead of FBC Jacksonville in this whole "transitioning" process. Remember transitioning? Looks like Jacksonville is catching up.

I found
this video of Mac Brunson addressing his congregation to be quite telling. At first one might think the comparisons to Robert Tilton and Benny Hinn to be comparing apples to oranges, but are they really? I mean, is there really any difference between the "prosperity gospel" preached by these charlatans and the preaching of Mac Brunson and Steve Gaines? And again we hear the yelling and arrogance dripping from his lips as he tells his congregants, in a word, "I told you so."

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Update: Audio from the Wednesday night leadership meeting is now up!

This is a 90-minute audio-only file which begins with an introduction from Steve Gaines, followed by a mini concert by Ryan Wingo, and a 70-minute monologue by SG. The real "meat" begins at 19:10 if you want to FF past the pre-preview of the "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." I highly recommend you listen to at least the first few minutes and the last 70 minutes of this tape. It's tedious and painful in places, and you may have to listen to it in small segments and go back and listen to parts of it several times to get it all. (This is why I recommend downloading it. No doubt at several points you'll find yourself thinking, "Did he really say that?") There are a lot more changes in the works, and only by listening to the entire tape will you be fully informed (or at least as "fully informed" as the leadership will allow you to be at this time). This will also help dispel inaccurate rumors, several of which I've already heard.

Remember over a year ago we heard rumors of plans for such things as a coffee shop, an escalator replacing the big staircase in the west lobby, sofas filling the west lobby, and removal of the big crosses because some people found them "offensive"? The detractors came out of the woodwork and denied any of those things had ever been considered. After hearing nothing further until last night, I had decided those things had simply been pushed to the back burner, but because of the integrity of my sources I always believed there had been discussions of all these things. Granted, discussions don't always mean plans are in the works, but we now know that plans for at least two of those four things are moving forward. (You'll have to listen to the audio to learn which two!)

Go here to download and listen at your leisure (preferred). The file is almost 42MB and may take a few minutes to download.

Go here to listen if you can't download such a large file.

It was announced Sunday morning that beginning Sunday, September 13th, Bellevue is going to a new Sunday morning worship service format.

9:30 Announcement

11:00 Announcement

A "preview" is planned for both the 9:30 and 11:00 services next Sunday, June 21st. The new format will reportedly include a "traditional" service at 9:30 a.m. which will include the choir and orchestra. Whether "traditional" means traditional in the true sense of the word or if it just means the same "blended" service they already have is yet to be seen. I suspect the latter. It will be the same "blended" format currently in use.

The second service is moving to 11:11 a.m. and will feature a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." The word "contemporary" was never uttered, nor was the name Ryan Wingo, but both were clear. Bye bye, Jamie Parker. Hello, Ryan Wingo! I've predicted for over a year that RW would eventually replace JP. It was never a question of if but when. RW doesn't seem to do "traditional," so I've no doubt this is being done primarily to accommodate him, a move which seems more than a bit disingenuous after all the times Steve Gaines has insisted that Bellevue will not have separate services based on style. How many times have we heard him strongly emphasize that Bellevue will have a "blended" service at 9:30 and 11:00 and that we will all worship together?

Here was the answer from the "Communications Committee" about the music:

Why did the music change?

For years, Dr. Adrian Rogers sought to have a blended style of worship. When Dr. Rogers retired in March 2005, Dr. Jim Whitmire led us to update our music while continuing to have a blended style of traditional and non-traditional songs. When Dr. Gaines came in September 2005, he encouraged this process to continue. Dr. Gaines has said he wants all of us to worship together and to not divide the congregation over music with separate traditional and non-traditional music services. The objective is to have a blend of approximately 50 percent hymns and 50 percent new songs in each service.

I can't help but wonder how this is going to work for people who attend Sunday School. If you go to an 8:00 class but want to attend a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band," you have nearly two hours to kill in between. If you attend a 9:30 class and want to attend the "traditional" service, I guess you're out of luck. If you attend an 11:00 class and want to attend the 11:11 service, again, you're out of luck. It seems with the declining attendance and shrinking budget receipts the most logical thing to do would be to go to one "blended" worship service at 9:30 and move all SS classes to 8:00 and 11:00 (or 8:00 OR 11:00). It would save on utilities and on a really good Sunday they might even come close to filling the auditorium. Have all Sunday School classes meet at 8:00, and Steve can keep his watch on and preach as long as he wants!

Germantown Baptist used this format for a while. The 9:30 traditional service would be packed while the 11:00 contemporary service would be sparsely attended. Eventually they eliminated the 11:00 service. It seems first-time visitors would come to the 11:00 service and be so turned off by the whole thing they would never return.

Other than to stroke Steve's new son-in-law, I can't possibly understand why they think this is going to be any more successful at BBC than it was at GBC. Will they be bringing in the funky lights, backdrops, and smoke machines to add ambience?

The idea for a contemporary service at 11:11 isn't original. Second Baptist in Houston, Texas has been doing the
same thing for some time. In searching for examples of other churches with 11:11 services, I came across thousands of hits for something called the "11:11 phenomenon." Here are but two:

The 11:11 Phenomenon

The Meaning of 11:11

I'd never heard of this, but apparently 11:11 has significant meanings in numerology. Whether the time 11:11 was chosen because it's easy to remember (easier than 11:00?), because it sounds cute, because Ed Young's megachurch does it, so SG will have time between services to change from a suit and tie to more casual attire, or for some other reason, considering the connotations which accompany "11:11," Bellevue might want to rethink this particular idea.

It wouldn't be the first time something appeared to be changed because of questionable associations. I'm sure anyone who's been inside Bellevue's auditorium or has seen TV or internet broadcasts of Bellevue's services has at one time or another noticed the large "JESUS" banner hung from the ceiling above the pulpit.

When that banner first went up (what year, anyone?) there was a large inverted triquetra symbol on the bottom of it.

Sometime in early 2006 the banner was removed, and the triquetra was replaced with a simple gold crown.

The question has always been why? Why go to the trouble of taking it down and having someone remove and replace the symbol and then rehang it? I'm willing to entertain the possibility there's an innocent explanation. Or perhaps the answer lies
here. It seems the triquetra, traditionally a symbol for the Trinity, is sometimes also associated with the occult, especially when inverted. A couple of years ago I talked with a lady whose adult child visited BBC after being away a while who said her child was shocked to see the inverted triquetra symbol on the banner. It was a short time later she noticed it was changed. So, did someone else notice it, too, and clue them in?

Trinity Baptist Church in Cordova has made liberal use of the triquetra (non-inverted) in their church. The church happens to be on Trinity Road, and the symbol appears on everything from their sign to their website to their publications to their choir bibs. Even their bimonthly newsletter is called The Triquetra. If one was offended by a single appearance of the triquetra on a banner at Bellevue, then one might be advised to wear a garlic necklace and carry a crucifix to enter Trinity!

Look, I am not offended by the triquetra or the use of 11:11. When I see the triquetra I understand it represents the Trinity -- although the inverted version doesn't make much sense. I think "11:11" is at worst a bit gimmicky, but to me it's not offensive. All I'm saying is if the triquetra was obliterated because of its inferred association with the occult, then by the same logic, shouldn't "11:11" be ditched because of its association with numerology? It would be a shame to print "11:11" on all those publications only to find out later that it has sinister connotations.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang

Christa Brown has written a new book entitled This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. Since I haven't had a chance to read it, I can't yet offer a review; however, Christa introduces it here and here.

Associated Baptist Press > Book says SBC lacks system of preventing sexual abuse

Some of the responses have been interesting (albeit predictable) as illustrated in this subsequent
blog article.

I said this article would have little to do with BBC, and that's true. It seems the PW story was one of so many that it was mentioned only in a footnote on page 165.

Christa says, "I think I've finally figured out how this all works. It's pretty simple really: Once you say that you were sexually abused by a Baptist minister, it doesn't really matter WHAT you do because, if you've opened your mouth, there will be plenty of stone-throwing no matter what. (I wish Baptist leaders would just post a sign somewhere and say this up-front. That would be easier -- at least we would know what to expect. You know... sort of like a no trespass sign: 'WARNING: No talking clergy abuse survivors allowed in Baptist-land.')"

Congratulations on your new book, Christa, and thank you for all you do to keep the spotlight on the problem of clergy sexual abuse and your support of the victims.

Thursday, June 04, 2009