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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« Who Said That? | Main | Mike Horton Interviews M. Z. Hemingway Regarding "Issues, Etc." »

$25,000 for This?

Satan%20Sucks.jpgThe "Save the LCMS!" blog posted these photos of the billboards purchased by an LCMS in the St. Louis area.  This is part of the  "Ablaze" outreach now being pushed by the current LCMS president.  (Click here: Save the LCMS!: $25,000 Ablaze Grant for This?!).  

When will these church bureaucrats get it?  Confessional churches (Lutheran or Reformed) are never more irrelevant than when they pull stunts like this.

Since I'm not a Lutheran, let me pick on my former denomination, the CRC (Christian Reformed Church).  When Michael Horton and I began the effort to organize a confessional Reformed Church in Orange County back in 1996 (what is now Christ Reformed), we approached the CRC--the denomination in which I was already ordained.

When we explained what we wanted to do, they looked at us like we had three heads!  The church officials responsible for church planting had already bought into the Rick Warren "Purpose-Drivel" philosophy.  Their mantra at the time was 400,000 [members] by the year 2000 [this was 1996].  These guys tried their best to talk us out of starting a confessional church, built upon the historic Reformed liturgy, redemptive-historical preaching, with weekly communion. They offered us scholarship money to attend Rick Warren's church planter's bootcamp.  I promptly filled out the form and requested funds to go to Princeton to finish up my Ph.D.  They were not amused.  Church bureaucrats have no sense of humor.

To make a long story short, for two years, Christ Reformed was the fastest growing church in the CRC.  Meanwhile, after buying in to the Rick Warren "Purpose-Drivel," the CRC has steadily declined in membership, and has lost its way as a confessional Reformed church.  In fact, membership has fallen well below 300,000.

The moral to the story is that Reformed and Lutheran churches are usually pretty good at being Reformed and Lutheran.  But we don't do "hip" and "with it" very well.  And when they go down that dead-end road, they don't reach the lost, but they lose the saved, and their churches shrink.   And they can't understand why so many of their former members now attend the local mega-church.

My question to the church growth types in the CRC was, "why would people want to go to one of our churches doing a very poor imitation of Calvary Chapel, when the genuine article was 20 minutes away?  They never did attempt to answer, and they took the question itself to be a sign that I wasn't interested in evangelism.

Meanwhile, the LCMS won't support a radio outreach with a proven track record of preaching the gospel and adding to Christ's church ("Issues, Etc.").  But they'll drop $25,000.00 on some stupid billboard campaign that gives every pagan another reason to think that Christianity is an irrelevant religion of stupid slogans and tacky billboards.   But no, the LCMS bureaucrats have bought into this Ablaze nonsense, and they are gonna grow the church, even if they have to kill it in the process!

For another great response to this, Click here: Save the LCMS!: Brilliant!

Reader Comments (18)

It is amazing to me to see that the Reformed and Lutherans can't help but be 10-15 years behind the times...Nothing like seeing those who claim to be against Finney's theology abscond Finney's methods.

Gage Browning
Post Tenebras Lux
March 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGage Browning
It's comforting to know that Jesus said He will build His Church because they sure aren't. Do they think the people of the world are really that stupid.
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
I recently left the CRC denomination, but am finding it difficult (in CRC land) to find a confessional Reformed church.
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEllen
ABC-USA had a similar numerical goal (far beyond current numbers, and ignoring the downward membership trend) - but the problem was and is, at what price to the Gospel would such numbers be achieved, if at all?
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPB
A further minor observation. I know that s*cks has become part of common parlance and is not even one of George Carlin's famous seven words...but does the church have to contribute to the ongoing coarsening of public discourse?
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPB
>I recently left the CRC denomination, -ellen

Are you the one who posted here a year or so ago, whose G.R. CRC had gone of into a Penecostalist "signs & wonders" deep end?

March 31, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlee n. field

You go, boy. Hold the CRC backdoor open for me while I finish my term of office this month(!).


Join the club, we have plenty of tee shirts to go around here in Little GRusalem. Trouble is, tee shirts don't make a church. If you find a confessionally Reformed church around here, let me know. (There's one up in TC named Redeemer Presbyterian if you ever get up that way.)


That may have been me. Synod 2007 refused to hear the minority report on Third Wave Pentecostalism, which was the Reformed report. The majority was open to TWPism...THE MAJORITY!

March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
My story is told on my Home Page to my web site at

I likwise have the Christian Reformed Churches ("CRC") as my heritage, but I have become attracted to and know the most about the Protestant Reformed denomination which has impressed me, particularly with their emphasis and promotion of God's sovereignty and TULIP. See their web site at

It is interesting that both denominations (United Reformed Churches and Protestant Reformed Churches) branched off the CRC, but neither denomination has a church within my large county of one million people, specifically here in St. Petersburg, Florida (Tampa Bay area).

I am likwise interested in attending or starting a church here within either denomination. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you.

March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Hornbeck

I live in PRC land. The ceded from the CRC because they deny common grace, leaving when the CRC affirmed it. From what I can tell, their identity seems to be largely what they aren't, namely deniers of common grace, which really isn't much of an identity, to say nothing of getting the doctrine itself wrong.

I may be off, but it also seems to me that they have a fair amount of hyper-Calvinism in their ranks. They also would've looked at Riddlebarger cross-eyed when he suggested "confessional church, built upon the historic Reformed liturgy, redemptive-historical preaching, with weekly communion." Like the local URC scene, it seems given to low-church, 3 songs and a lecture expressions of Reformed worship.

A couple hours south of you is Auburn Road Presbyterian in Venice (no association with FV, FYI). I know that helps very little, just thought I'd mention it though.
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
Groan! Even the WELS has been slightly infected with the rock n roll "church" stuff! For my part, even with liturgical weakness and hymns based on the psalms, not chants!, I will remain URC. It is the best in my area. Anyone for a prayerboook URC?
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie
Well, well.
Apparently the LCMS had plenty of intention of spending $, spending it on slogan evangelism. Still no appeals for support for Issues Etc?
Was this a case of lets get rid of a fan favorite now, before they can make noise preventing this?

No appeal to listeners?
No warning to listeners?
Not even warning to the host and producer?
I smell a rat!

Todd Wilken did not mess around regarding weak, silly preaching in the church today.
He also did not hesitate to expose political correctness in both the secular sphere and the church.

The LCMS higher brass have made it clear they are more concerned w/ silly marketing slogans than w/ substantive dialog.

Perhaps the LCMS is selling out and turning on its own... all in the name of "evangelism" of course.

Kim, how about an interview w/ DadRod on this where he can inform us, really speaking his mind!
March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
Hello Bill!!!
You live in St. Pete?
You really need to contact Rev. David Harding at the PCA church there in St Pete.
A real good substantive man, interested in Christ being proclaimed as Lord.

March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
<i>Are you the one who posted here a year or so ago, whose G.R. CRC had gone of into a Penecostalist "signs & wonders" deep end?</i>

Yes. Their Wednesday night prayer service is now called " He Heals/The Healing Institute"

The website says, "This semester, join us for worship, teaching by Pastor Dave and others, training, and experiencing the healing ministry of Jesus. We want to reach our community and this region with the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Plans are being made to "go out" with this ministry in 2008."

Thanks for the suggestions. I have visited a couple of churches, but have had issues (minor and humorous but enough to have me not attend....let's just say "matchmaking" experiences...)
April 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEllen
I thought this was rather funny.
April 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDerek
I got so annoyed when I went to Jefferson hills, because I had to wait in line for the espresso girl to pull my latte. No wonder Satan thinks it sucks. While the coffee bar was staffed the whole service, they wouldn't let me bring my drink inside. And then as soon as the service was over, there was a huge line and not enough espresso machines. I was so tired because I came to the 5:00am service (i didn't want it to eat into my weekend) and then I was slumping there missing the old card table with the styrofoam cups, eyes half closed thinking "Satan didn't lie about this place afterall."
April 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLosing the way

I don't know about you, but I'm getting really tired of saying, over and over again, "Remember, Jesus TOLD us this would happen..."


April 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKirby L. Wallace
This is rampant isn't it. I grew up CRC and by a strange series of providences ended up in the RCA. Growing up CRC I was always given the impression that the RCA was much more 'liberal' than the CRC. While that may have been the case in the 1970's, I found the RCA churches in Ontario and Canada in general were far more conservative than the CRC congregations. With the exodus of many over the then creeping 'liberalism' in the CRC what seems to have happened is the CRC has not only caught up to the RCA, but in some ways has surpassed it in fleeing from the three forms of unity and anything distinctively Reformed. Having said that, everything written here is true in the upper judicatories of the RCA as well, and is quickly entering into local arenas as well. As one who strives to hold to those things that are distinctively reformed, I feel less and less at home in the denomination I have been called to minister in. Thankfully, the congregation I serve in is solid theologically, although elderly and getting older.
April 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJim Vellenga

When you responded to Bill Hornbeck about your understanding of the PRCA, you were misinformed. The PRCA denomination is not "hypercalvinistic". We hold to the 3 Forms of Unity which include The Canons of Dort, 2nd Head, article 5: "Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel."
And article 8, "As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in His Word what is pleasing to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to Him and believe on Him."
The PRCA views the preaching of His Word each Lord's Day as central. We call it "the chief means of grace". You called it a "lecture" and that is certainly not how we view it. We are fully aware that when the minister preaches (in as much as it is in agreement with His Word), it is God who is speaking to us. They are not short messages, either, but an expounding of the Word for generally 45 minutes.
January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPRCA member

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