Church, Complementarianism, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Six Questions for a Potential Church

Originally published March 27, 2015

church questions1

Have you ever had to look for a new church? Even with recommendations from godly friends, it can be hard to know which churches and pastors are doctrinally sound, and, of those doctrinally sound churches (because you certainly don’t want to go to one that isn’t doctrinally sound), which ones would be a good fit for your family.

There are lots of great articles out there with good, probing questions you should ask about the theology and doctrine of a church you’re considering. (I would recommend this one, this one, and this one. Also, make sure you understand these doctrinal issues and that the church you’re considering lines up with Scripture on these issues.) However, there are times when the answers to these types of questions don’t give you the whole picture of what is actually going on in a church on a day to day basis. In other words, sorry to say, a church can give you all the right answers on paper (or on their web site), but their practices don’t mirror those answers. Additionally, there are some non-doctrinal issues that are important to know about that questions about soteriology, baptism, biblical inerrancy, etc., won’t give you the answers to.

My husband and I are currently looking for a new church for our family. Since we are Southern Baptist and somewhat familiar with the handful of Southern Baptist churches we’re looking at, we already know the answers to the most important questions (the inspiration of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, the way of salvation, etc.) But I want to zoom in a little more on the finer points of belief and practices of these churches, so here are some questions I might ask the pastor of the church we would potentially join.

1.
Which Christian authors have had the biggest impact on your life, beliefs, and ministry?

When I ask this question (and look over the pastor’s shoulder at the titles on his bookshelf), I’m listening for the names of authors and pastors, living or dead, that I know are committed to sound biblical doctrine. If I hear a name like Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Rick Warren, Beth Moore, or any Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation personality, I’m going back to ask more probing doctrinal questions. If I hear multiple names like those, I’m outta there.

2.
Are you/this church complementarian or egalitarian?

Now you may not be familiar with those terms but any Christian pastor should be. It is a current issue in evangelicalism, and it’s part of his job to stay abreast of such things. I’m not looking for a pastor to be an expert on this topic, but he should be familiar with the terms and have a working understanding of the issues at play as well as the applicable Scriptures, and he should embrace and practice complementarianism as the biblical position.

Because I have been given the right “on paper” answer to this question in the past only to find out later that the church’s practices didn’t match up with its profession, I will probably ask the follow up question: “In what positions of leadership are women currently serving? Do any of them hold authority over men or instruct men in the Scriptures?” If I hear that women are (or would be allowed to in the future) teaching co-ed adult Sunday School classes, giving instruction during the worship service, serving on committees in which they hold biblically inappropriate authority over men, etc., that’s problematic.

3.
Can you give me some examples, from any time during your career as a pastor, of church
discipline issues that have arisen and
how you have handled them?

I’m looking for three things here. First, what does this pastor think constitutes a church discipline issue? If he thinks it’s necessary to discipline a female church member for wearing pants instead of a skirt, that’s an issue, because he’s disciplining someone who’s not sinning. If he doesn’t think it’s necessary to discipline church members who are unmarried yet cohabiting, that’s an issue because he’s not disciplining people who are sinning. Church discipline should only be exercised over unrepentant sinful behavior.

Second, is he afraid to exercise church discipline? Generally speaking, someone who has been a pastor for many years and has never handled a church discipline issue is either woefully ignorant of the biblical requirement of a pastor to rebuke those in sin, or he is afraid to rock the boat because he might get fired. Both of these are huge red flags.

Third, how does he exercise church discipline? Does he follow the steps outlined in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures with a heart to see the church member repent and be reconciled to Christ and the church body? Is he harsh and condemning? Is he firm enough in his resolve to carry all the way through to disfellowshipping a church member if necessary?

4.
How much oversight do you (or an
associate pastor or elder) have over the
women’s ministry at this church?

With this question, I’m trying to find out how much the pastor knows about what’s actually going on inside the women’s ministry (if they have one) and how much responsibility he takes to make sure all teaching and activities are in line with Scripture. Does he research and approve all teaching materials before a women’s Bible study commences? Does a women’s ministry director have complete autonomy over all materials and activities? Are all of the women in leadership positions in the women’s ministry godly and spiritually mature? Would any of the women’s ministry leadership raise a stink if someone showed them from Scripture that a Bible teacher whose materials they use or a women’s ministry activity they enjoy is unbiblical?

5.
Does the music ministry at this church follow a
minister of music model or a concert model?

There’s nothing wrong with Christian concerts per se, but my husband and I feel strongly (notice, I did not say “the Bible says”) that the worship service is not the place for one. We believe that a minister of music, preferably one who is ordained to the ministry, should lead and take responsibility for the church’s worship in a pastoral role. He should be trained in the Scriptures, preferably at seminary, in order to rightly handle and apply them to the music portion of the worship service and other music programs. He should also be trained in music theory and conducting so that he is able to lead in the practical aspects of music.

By contrast, we do not believe that making the music portion of the service like a concert, in which a band gets up and plays in a dark room with a laser light show and a smoke machine and the congregation can sing along if they want to, if they happen to know the songs, and if they are able to follow the ad libbing of the lead singer, is conducive to worship. We believe this tends to make the worship band into entertainers and the congregation into spectators, whereas the minister of music model fosters an atmosphere of “we’re all pulling together to do the work of worship as a unified body.”

This is not about contemporary music versus hymns, it is about one worship model versus another. It is our conviction (again, not a biblical mandate, but our strongly held conviction) after more than two decades in music ministry ourselves, that the minister of music model – regardless of the genre of worship music used – is the one most conducive to strong, biblical congregational worship. So this is something we’re going to want to know about, even though it is not necessarily a doctrinal issue.

6.
Do you preach topically or expositorily or both?

Topical preaching is when the pastor selects a topic to preach on (parenting, money, etc.) and uses biblical passages that apply to that topic to form his sermon. Pastors who preach expositorily usually preach through a book of the Bible from beginning to end before moving on to the next book.

Both are valid forms of preaching as long as God’s word is rightly handled and applied. However, it has been my experience that pastors who preach exclusively topically have more of a tendency to lift Bible verses out of their context in order to make them fit the topic they’re preaching. This is usually not as much of an issue for pastors who preach expositorily because they are simply preaching the Word, verse by verse, in its context.

Additionally, expository preaching gives church members a better understanding of Scripture and how it fits together, and exposes them more thoroughly to a wider range of biblical truth than exclusively topical preaching does. Therefore, I am looking for a pastor whose preaching style leans mostly towards expository, but who isn’t afraid to preach topically if he believes the church needs instruction on a certain topic.

So, those are some of the questions I’m thinking about asking. What questions would you ask when considering a new church?


For more resources on finding a new church, or what to look for in a church, click the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Have I told you lately that I love you? (Some of us are old enough to remember that song! :0) I really do love all of you readers and followers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ.

Sometimes in an article I’ll say something like, “If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you probably know that…yada, yada, yada.” Well, some of y’all haven’t been around the blog for a while, and to that, I say welcome! It’s always great to have more of the fam gathered ’round.

But because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a Cliffs Notes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

And finally, let me get you newbies some answers to the questions several of you have asked recently. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

Are there any sound Christian musicians anymore?

Yes, they’re just few and far between, and not as well known as the unsound ones. Check out this article which contains both artists to avoid and doctrinally sound artists, plus other helpful resources:

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music


My sister just got ordained by her church as a minister, also she is involved in deliverance ministries. She believes that God speaks outside of Scripture and promotes many false teachers. I’ve been praying for wisdom and compassion and the right opportunity to share. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

It is heartbreaking when a loved one forsakes sound doctrine and does a swan dive into the cesspool of rebellion and false teaching. If you need to approach a loved one in a situation like this, here’s some help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? (While this article is about approaching church leaders about false teachers, the same basic principles apply when approaching a loved one.)

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher 

Discernment: A Spiritual Battle, Not a Logical One 

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It? 

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken


Which translation of the Bible do you recommend?

I think the two best English translations out there right now are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard (NASB). I also highly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. Check out more info on Bible translations, some to avoid, and more great resources here:

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?


Are you on any other social media that is in favor of free speech? I have deleted Twitter and am attempting to get off Facebook but I would still like to follow you.

This is an important one with all the censorship that’s taking place on the major platforms right now. I am currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MeWe, Parler, and Gab. (I also have a YouTube channel, but I’m not really using it at the moment.) My plan is to remain on Facebook and Twitter (and probably Instagram since it’s owned by Facebook) until I’m banned, then utilize my remaining platforms. You can always find the direct links to all of my social media accounts in the Contact and Social Media tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I have tried without success to find the answer to: As a woman is it violating 1 Timothy 2:11-12 for me to present the gospel to a man?

There’s a lot of confusion about what it means to “present the gospel” or “share the gospel” or “evangelize”. Some people use those as catchall terms for everything from a woman pastoring a church, to a mom reading a Bible story to her 2 year old, to posting a Bible verse on Facebook. If what you mean is a one on one conversation with a man in which you explain to him that he is a sinner, and how he can be saved (which is the actual defintion of the aforementioned terms), then the answer to your question is no. It is not a violation of Scripture for a woman to do that. See #11 here.

Got questions about the role of women in the church? Check out these resources:

Rock Your Role: A series of articles examining the Scriptures which pertain to the role of women in the church

Rock Your Role FAQs: Frequently asked questions about real life roles and activities in the church and whether or not women may biblically participate in them


Is X teacher, pastor, or author doctrinally sound?

Check the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. These are the teachers I’ve actually written articles on.

If you don’t find the person you’re looking for there, find the search bar and type in the person’s name. (Make sure you spell it exactly right.) I may have mentioned the person you’re looking for in an article about someone or something else.

If you do both of these and you don’t get any hits, you can be confident that I haven’t written anything on the person you’re looking for. You’re welcome to email me asking about that teacher, but as you know (having read the “Blog Orientation” article linked above) I most likely won’t be able to answer. That brings us to our final resource here at the blog for researching and vetting teachers:

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own


Who are some pastors, teachers, and authors you recommend?

You’ll find a list of several dozen at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I live in X area. Can you help me find a doctrinally sound church?

The Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page has multiple church search engines, churches recommended by my readers, information on church planting, what to look for in a doctrinally sound church, and how to biblically leave your current church. Just click and start searching!

Just a couple of notes:

  • You’ll have to do the legwork of searching and vetting the churches for yourself. I can’t do that for you.
  • If you’ve thoroughly searched every single search engine and can’t find an established church within achievable driving distance of your home, you may need to check around with local friends or denominational agencies, move, or start utilizing the church planting resources. You can email me, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to help. As I once joked with a friend, “I’m not Walmart. I don’t have any churches in the back stock room. Everything I have is out on the shelves.” :0)

Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?

Yes, mine. You can find all of them – all free and all suitable for individual or group study, along with my philosophy of Bible study – at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

No, I mean, can you recommend a pre-packaged book, DVD, etc., study by a well known Christian author?

No, because I recommend that women study straight from the text of Scripture itself (which is what my studies are designed to teach women how to do).

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Discernment

Anne Graham Lotz

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Anne Graham Lotz
Not Recommended

Perhaps best known for being Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz “speaks around the globe…Her Just Give Me Jesus revivals have been held in more than 30 cities in 12 different countries, to hundreds of thousands of attendees.” She is the founder and president of AnGeL Ministries, her speaking, publishing, events, etc., organization.

While the core of Anne Graham Lotz’s teaching historically hasn’t been radically off base, biblically, (i.e. she’s not blatantly teaching Word of Faith, NAR, or other heretical doctrine), she handles Scripture poorly, and there are too many red flags about her teaching and behavior to regard her as a trustworthy teacher of God’s word.

“Called ‘the best preacher in the family’ by her father, Billy Graham…” This opening sentence of her website is how Anne Graham Lotz has chosen to introduce herself to the world: as a female “preacher.” We could take this as a cute, antiquated father-daughter endearment if Anne did not, in fact, preach to men. However, she has no qualms about doing so herself and encouraging other women to do so, habitually violating this prohibition of Scripture. Just a few brief examples of the myriad available:

I Saw the Lord (Men clearly present in the audience at 7:29)

Vision of His Glory (Men clearly present in the audience at 3:36)

Preaching the Sunday sermon at Maranatha Chapel, 2/9/20. At 1:04, Anne says, “I’m very grateful for Pastor Ray giving me this opportunity…and for a pastor to give up his pulpit…I want to say thank you to him for that, and also for the statement that he makes concerning women in ministry…the fact that he would allow me to stand in his pulpit on a Sunday morning and speak to his congregation…so if you’re a woman in ministry, be encouraged.”

Preaching the Sunday sermon at Bridgeway Community Church, 2/16/20. At 0:40, Anne says: “I want to thank Pastor Anderson for his affirmation, his support, his encouragement, of women in ministry…To be in a church, on a Sunday morning, and for a pastor to give up his pulpit to me is a rare privilege.”. Two Sundays in a row. A nearly verbatim spiel. Not that “rare,” apparently.

Anne also yokes with numerous false teachers.

Priscilla Shirer and New Apostolic Reformation “pastor” Samuel Rodriguez have both written endorsements for one of Anne’s books. Rick Warren and Beth Moore have each written forewords for Anne’s books.

Anne has written several devotions for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 website.

Anne calls false prophet and rabbi Jonathan Cahn her “friend” and publicly allies with him, spiritually.

Anne also participated in The Return, a September 2020 prayer and revival event organized by Cahn. Additionally, Anne sits on the board of advisors of The Return with Cahn and false teachers Pat Robertson, “Bishop” Harry Jackson, Robert Morris, Marcus Lamb, and John Kilpatrick, as well as Steve Strang– publisher/founder of Charisma Magazine, and Gordon Robertson- CEO of CBN.

Also participating in The Return1 were Che Ahn and Cindy Jacobs – “apostles” and major players in the New Apostolic Reformation, and Michael Brown, who often functions as an apologist for NAR (and other) false teachers on his radio program.

Again, Anne sits on the board of advisors for this event / organization. She cannot be ignorant as to who these people are and what they teach.

On the same day as The Return, Anne also delivered one of the featured prayers at her brother, Franklin Graham’s, Prayer March 2020. (It is unclear to me if, or how, these two events were connected.) Also featured at this event were numerous heretics and false teachers, including TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), Matt and Laurie Crouch (heads of TBN), Jonathan CahnJentzen FranklinRobert Morris, and Paula White.

Anne has appeared on disgraced televangelist and false prophet Jim Bakker’s show:

Anne participated in, promoted, and was a featured speaker at the 2020 Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, an ecumenical event touted as a time for Jews and Christians to pray together in unity. (Christians are not to yoke with any unbeliever who denies Christ as the Messiah, including Jews.)

Anne has poor hermeneutics and often mishandles Scripture. In her excellent analysis, Anne Graham Lotz and Her Narcissistic Interpretation of the Transfiguration, Erin Benziger carefully and biblically walks us through Anne’s eisegesis and allegorization of the story of the Transfiguration.

In a video tease for her book, The Daniel Prayer, Anne completely ignores the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and claims it as God’s promise to America. 

The following year, as chair of the 2017 National Day of Prayer Task Force, Anne mishandled the same passage the same way, combined it with a mishandling of Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, and claimed that these passages are God’s promise to “heal” America’s moral ills if we will just pray hard enough. Neither of these passages are about, nor apply to the secular nation of America. They both pertain to God’s covenant people, Old Testament Israel, at a very specific point in history.

This is indicative of Anne’s general hermeneutic when it comes to anything having to do with politics, America, social issues, foreign relations, etc. Her standard practice is to eisegete all of those things into Old Testament Scripture, taking God’s warnings to Israel as though they were literal warnings to America, and claiming God’s promises to Israel as literal promises to America. This is not rightly handling God’s Word.

Anne’s teaching on extra-biblical revelation (i.e. “hearing God’s voice”) is muddled at best. At times, such as in this excerpt from her teaching video Journey to Jesus Part 1: How to Study the Bible

…she correctly emphasizes that God speaks through His Word, yet in this same video (and other venues such as this article at Decision Magazine, How to Know God’s Voice) she also seems to teach extra-biblical revelation by saying we can mistake other people’s voices for the voice of God, that some people aren’t hearing God speak, and continually using phrases like “listening for God’s voice.”

In her article, Preprayer 2016 Anne explains and endorses unbiblical “circle-making” prayer. Similar to Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, Anne re-tells the story of Honi the circle-maker, then says:

As I look ahead into 2016, I feel compelled to draw a circle around this city, this state, this nation… and pray!  Until God answers. Do the same. Please.  On this first day of the New Year, draw your own circle.  Then pray for everything that’s inside of it.

As we might expect, with her numerous ties to false prophets and New Apostolic Reformation heretics, Ann has begun to dabble in NAR-esque prophesying.

In his July 7, 2014 episode of Fighting for the Faith, Chris Rosebrough deftly analyzes a message Anne says God gave her for the United States.

In the Charisma News article Anne Graham Lotz Gives Prophetic Warning About 2016, Anne predicts “As I look ahead into 2016, I believe our national and global situation will get worse,” and “I have been repeatedly warned in my spirit that the enemy is advancing. It’s something that I know.”

Anne seems to be a lovely and caring person, not to mention very patriotic. I know she’s a sentimental favorite to many because of her father. Those are all endearing qualities. But we must put feelings and nostalgia aside when we evaluate whether or not someone is qualified to teach. James 3:1 is clear that teachers will be judged more strictly, not given a pass because they’re nice people or related to a beloved spiritual figure. Anne consistently mishandles Scripture, yokes in ministry with heretics and false teachers, and preaches to men, encouraging other women to do the same. She is not a trustworthy teacher, and I recommend that you not follow or receive teaching from her.


Additional Resources:

Anne Graham Lotz at Berean Research


1If you closely follow conservative politics, you may wish to examine the list of names of the participants in The Return.

Discernment

Jennie Allen and IF:Gathering

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jennie Allen / IF:Gathering
Not Recommended

Jennie Allen is “a Bible teacher, author, and the founder and visionary of IF:Gathering,” an annual conference for women. She also blogs, hosts the Made for This podcast, and speaks at IF:Gathering and other events.

The IF:Gathering conference organization (now including IF:Pray, IF:Lead, IF:Equip, IF:Table, IF:Local, IF:TV, and Discipleship Collective), around which most of Jennie’s ministry centers, was “inspired by the question, ‘If God is real…then what?‘.” If God is real– is a troubling premise for an ostensibly Christian ministry. The Christian existence does not center around the pablum possibility that God is real, but on the rock-solid, stake your life and your eternity on it certainty that He is not only real but the Creator of, and Sovereign over, the universe, and the only hope of salvation for sinners. If God is real…then what? as the foundation of a Christian ministry is somewhat akin to If 1+1=2, then what? as the foundational concept of a Mensa-esque organization for the top mathematical minds in the world.

As to the “…then what?” part of the equation, Jennie’s and IF’s solution is woefully unbiblical. Jennie has an established history of embracing and partnering in ministry with false teachers, female “pastors,” and women who preach to men. Just a few of the many available examples:

Some of the guests on Jennie’s podcast have included Priscilla Shirer and Chrystal Evans Hurst (ep. 08), Beth Moore (ep. 04), Christine Caine (ep. 09), and “diversity expert” and Black Lives Matter supporter, LaTasha Morrison (multiple episodes).

Since the launch of IF:Gathering in 2014, Jennie has habitually featured false and biblically problematic teachers and female preachers/pastors as speakers and as part of IF’s leadership team:

Speakers featured at IF:Gathering over the years (many of them appearing multiple times) have included: Jen Hatmaker (here, in 2015), female “pastor” and homosexuality advocate Melissa Greene,  Ann Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff, Rebekah Lyons, Lysa TerKeurst, Jill Briscoe, Shauna Niequist, Angie Smith, Kay Warren (Rick Warren’s wife), female “pastor” Jenni Catron, Christine Caine, female “preacher” and author of Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey

female “co-pastor” Keisha Polonio, female “pastor” Jeanne Stevens…

Lauren Chandler, female “pastor” Layla de la Garza, Beth Moore, and others. (2020)

My guess is that all of the women who have spoken at IF have no qualms about preaching to men, and there may also be more female “pastors” in the bunch, but I was unable to research each of them, so I will just say, a large number of the women who have spoken at IF disobey God’s Word by preaching to men and/or “pastoring”.

In addition to Beth Moore speaking at IF:Gathering 2020 (and scheduled to speak at IF:Lead 2020), Jennie’s partnerships and displays of affinity with her are far too numerous to list (just Google Jennie Allen Beth Moore, and you’ll see what I mean) and have been going on for years. A couple of recent examples:

A webinar with Beth Moore:

An IF:Gathering video with Beth Moore:

Mutual admiration on Twitter: 

And here’s Jennie at a meeting “with twenty women leaders [including Bianca Olthoff] under the wisdom of Christine Caine and Joyce Meyer.”

Jennie has worked with and has been a featured speaker several times (including 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020) at the Catalyst conference, which is not only co-ed (so Jennie is teaching/preaching to men) but is also plagued by doctrinal problems and has featured a plethora of false teachers including founder Andy Stanley, Brian Houston, female “pastor” Charlotte Gambill, Brandon and Jen Hatmaker, and Rebekah Lyons among many others.

I can’t seem to locate a statement of faith for Jennie or what church she currently attends, so you’ll have to infer what she believes by reading her books and blog, but I have learned a few specifics about her theology. Jennie is a proponent of the unbiblical Enneagram. Jennie believes in extra-biblical revelation, and started IF:Gathering because “a voice from the sky” told her to. Jennie often focuses on “dreaming” (in the sense of future goals or creative aspirations), a concept foreign to Scripture. I downloaded her “Dream Guide” for 2019 and found some of her statements troubling:

 It really is as simple as this. Do the best you can in this world and as you’re going, love God and give Him away to people.

“Do the best you can in this world”? Where does the Bible say that? “And as you’re going, love God”? Like it’s an afterthought or an accessory to your life of “doing the best you can”? No. It really is as simple as this: Repent and believe the gospel, and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

When we create and thrive for the good of others, you’re participating in God’s redemptive work of making the world better. 

Again, the Bible doesn’t teach this anywhere. “God’s redemptive work” is not “making the world better.” The Bible clearly says that “the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants,” and, “the world is passing away along with its desires.” Furthermore, “God’s redemptive work” is to save people. That’s the entire point of the whole Bible. His redemptive work was completed in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to save sinners. And if you want to “participate in God’s redemptive work,” you don’t “create and thrive” (whatever that means) “for the good of others,” you share the gospel with them and disciple them as we’re commanded to in the Great Commission.

..this is our goal, to create beauty out of chaos and thrive.

Also not in the Bible anywhere. Also not our goal. As Christians, our goal is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, pursue holiness, and carry out the Great Commission. All of which are in the Bible.

Dreaming is an incredible privilege. It is a stewardship of the opportunities God has put in front of us.

Not to sound like a broken record, but, again, none of this is in the Bible, and the second sentence doesn’t even make logical sense. To “steward” something is to use it wisely and for a godly purpose. To do something with it to the glory of God. Sitting around “dreaming” isn’t doing anything. In fact, since “dreaming” isn’t something we’re instructed to do in Scripture, it’s actually squandering the “opportunities God has put in front of us” – opportunities like sharing the gospel, serving others, studying our Bibles, prayer, worship, etc. – which are things Scripture instructs us to do, in favor of sitting around relying on our dreams.

At the end of the “Dream Guide” are several “conversation card” questions about how you can improve yourself in the coming year. One of them is pretty good: “How could you better plug into and serve the local church?”. The rest are fairly narcissistic, and there’s nothing about studying Scripture, growing in holiness, prayer, or repenting of sin. Additionally Jennie quotes only one passage of Scripture in the entire booklet, and she quotes it from The Message, one of the worst versions (it’s a paraphrase, not a translation) of the Bible out there.

And regarding “being a strong woman in the church,” while Jennie mostly stays vague and neutral, she does touch on a few biblical concepts:

18:35- “What my husband heard from me was: My wife has strong gifts and a strong passion for God, and she wants to serve Him, and she’s not because of me.” As if she couldn’t passionately serve God with her gifts by being a godly wife and serving and submitting to her husband.

22:31- “I know that the obvious question that everybody wants to know the answer of is ‘What about roles and positions in the church?’…But I think we oftentimes get so distracted by that…that we are missing all the work that God has for us. And, you know, my view on that is every local church is going to have a different opinion about that…So wherever you go, Scripture just says, ‘Don’t be divisive,’…but the bigger issue to me is the way we view each other, the way we value each other…” Notice Jennie uses no Scripture to answer the “obvious question” everybody wants to know the answer to, she only gives her personal opinion that we are getting “distracted” by this legitimate, biblical question, and that the bigger issue – to her – is not what the Bible says about the role of women in the church, but “the way we value each other”. It’s a problem that “every local church is going to have a different opinion” about the role of women in the church because there is only one position on that issue that’s biblical. The local church doesn’t get to have an opinion on that issue, the issue is decided by Scripture and the church is to submit to and uphold Scripture’s teaching on it. Furthermore, Scripture does not just say, “Don’t be divisive.” Scripture is abundantly clear what the role of women in the church is to be, and both individual women and church leaders are to obey it.

The fact that Jennie consistently and unrepentantly platforms female “pastors” and women who preach to men at IF speaks much more clearly about her personal (and unbiblical) opinion on the role of women in the church than her finessing answer here.

27:21- The interviewer asks Jennie, “What does submission mean?” Her response is much too long to quote, so I’ll summarize. The first words out of Jennie’s mouth are, “That word? To me?” She then proceeds to give a not altogether unbiblical answer about how she loves submission, but it is mainly her opinion and personal experience with her own husband, not Scripture, and primarily centers around the fact that if she brings something to her husband for a decision and he decides unbiblically, he will have to answer to God for it, not her, and that she will have no accountability to God for any sin she might commit in the process. “It’s gonna be awesome!” she chortles, as the audience laughs along, as though there’s something funny about her husband standing before God and giving an account for his decision, and her blaming him for it. Jennie then pivots to describing how “that word [submit] has been used like a pistol to [many women’s] heads” and says “so the fact that that word has a bad rap makes sense to me…Here’s the problem, guys, we’re divided, but there’s reasons on it for both sides.” She seems to be saying that submitting or not submitting is not based on Scripture’s commands, but on personal experiences and situations, and that both submitting and refusing to submit are equally valid choices depending on our own experiences, feelings, and opinions. (And, no, I am not saying women should “submit” to being abused. That’s not the biblical definition of submission.)

Jennie seems like a lovely, genuinely caring person, and earnest when she speaks and writes, but none of those things qualify someone to teach Scripture. And in this case, Jennie is disqualified by her errant theology and unbiblical practices. I regret that I’m forced to recommend that you not receive teaching from Jennie Allen, her materials and conferences, or anyone connected to the IF organization.


Additional Resources:

IF:Gathering:

Important questions for church leaders at Berean Research

Almost: Our Encouragement and Concern with the IF:Gathering and
Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode at Sheologians

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information, including video claiming direct revelation at The End Time

IF:Gathering – updated review four years later at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information at The End Time

Thinking of attending an If:Gathering? Please read this, it’s eye-opening at The End Time

Book Reviews:

A Review of Jennie Allen’s “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul”

Other:

Review of Jennie Allen/Beth Moore webinar, and the ‘big announcement’ revealed at The End Time

Discernment

Jackie Hill-Perry

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jackie Hill Perry
Not Recommended

Jackie Hill-Perry is a writer, speaker, and artist…[she shares] the light of gospel truth through teaching, writing, poetry, and music as authentically as she can.” Jackie is a Christian hip hop and spoken word artist who has released two albums, and two books. She first began to gain a following with her debut book, Gay Girl, Good God, her personal testimony of God saving her out of a life of rebellion and homosexuality.

Jackie’s initial foray into public ministry had her associating with well known Reformed (or, Reformed-ish) organizations with a reputation for doctrinal soundness such as Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She was even featured in the film American Gospel: Christ Alone, a documentary which presented the biblical gospel juxtaposed against the prosperity gospel. And, indeed, she still maintains many of these types of ties. For example, she is a featured speaker at the upcoming 2020 TGC Women’s Conference, and she recently announced that she will be pursuing her Master’s of Divinity degree at RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary).

Over the past several years, Jackie has publicly associated herself and/or yoked in ministry with a plethora of false teachers. I believe part of this stems from the fact that Jackie, like Jen Wikin, has has been added to LifeWay Women’s stable of women’s “Bible” study authors which, through LifeWay ministry events, has affiliated her with a number of false and problematic teachers. In addition to my normal concerns about someone yoking with false teachers (i.e. the Bible says not to, and disobeying God’s Word is a sin), I am concerned that LifeWay is using Jackie (for her reputation for being doctrinally sound) to lend credibility to the false teachers they promote, and I’m also concerned that Jackie’s previously doctrinally sound reputation is now suffering by being associated with these false teachers.

Since 2017, Jackie has partnered in ministry with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Harper, Lauren Chandler, and Amanda Bible Williams at various LifeWay Abundance and LifeWay Women Live conferences.

Jackie has partnered with Jennie Allen and Jamie Ivey in an IF: Equip (an arm of IF:Gathering) study, The Good Gospel.

In 2019, Jackie appeared at Rebekah and Gabe Lyons’ Q-ideas Conference(see also):

Jackie has been partnering with Christine Cane for a few years now in her Propel Women’s Activate conferences. Activate 2018 had her sharing a stage with Lisa Harper, Lisa Beverefemale “pastor” Dianna Nepstad, and Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music. Activate 2019, partnered Jackie in ministry with Lisa Harper (again), Sarah Jakes Roberts (daughter of modalist and prosperity heretic, T.D. Jakes, and co-“pastor” of two of his “churches”), female “pastors” Nona Jones and Oneka McClellan, and, once again, Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music.

In August 2019, largely due to the fact that Jackie posted this picture calling Bethel’s Jenn Johnson her “friend”

…many of Jackie’s followers were awakened, for the first time, to the fact that she has been sinfully yoking in ministry with false teachers for some time. She was rebuked by many of her followers and was even disinvited from speaking at Answers in Genesis‘ 2020 women’s conference (at which she had previously been invited to speak) when this news came to their attention. Unfortunately, instead of heeding these biblical warnings and rebukes, Jackie dug her heels in and defended both her actions and the false teachers in this Instagram post

…and in this Twitter post

…disdainfully characterizing those who were biblically right to call her to account as judgmental, arrogant, slanderous, loveless, critical, etc.

You might notice that while Jackie does cite a few Scriptures in these posts, she provides none which support her yoking with false teachers (because there aren’t any). She defends her actions and perspective only with her personal opinions and experiences (note how many times she says “I think,” “to me,” etc.). “…How are we deciding where the lines are drawn?” Jackie asks. The answer should be clear to any Christian and was certainly clear to those rebuking her: the Bible. God decides where the lines are drawn between doctrinally sound and false teacher, not Jackie or anyone else, and He makes that very clear in His written Word.

Jackie repeatedly says that she believes people like Jenn Johnson are just misguided and in need of correction, which would require us to ask, “Jackie, did you correct Jenn and the others you’ve been associating with who hold to unbiblical doctrine? If they did not repent and correct their doctrine (as appears to be the case) do you now consider them false teachers? And if you now consider them false teachers, why are you still partnering with them in ministry?”.

My friend Constance over at the Truth+Fire blog wrote a thoughtful, compassionate, and Scripture-filled article responding to this incident entitled Bye…Jackie?, which I would encourage you to read, as well as Elizabeth Prata’s excellent article (in the “Additional Resources” section below).

In addition to multiple partnerships with false teachers, Jackie, unfortunately, also preaches to men. Just a few of the copious examples:

Preaching the Sunday morning sermon (June 2019) at Progressive Baptist Church:

Preaching at the (co-ed) 2017 Urban Youth Workers Institute National Conference:

Preaching at the (co-ed) Jubilee 2020 conference:

Preaching at the (co-ed) 2019 Legacy ATL conference:

In addition to the concerns about Jackie yoking with false teachers and preaching to men (either of which, as I stated in the preface to this article are sufficient biblical reason to avoid a particular teacher),  Jackie’s remarks and associations (particularly on Twitter) indicate that she is increasingly identifying with the social justice/critical race theory/intersectionality movement. A couple of brief examples:

In the video So…About Racism on the With the Perrys YouTube channel, Jackie and her husband discuss Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, white power, and de-funding the police, among other things. (In case it later gets scrubbed from YouTube, as often happens, you can find excerpts of the original video here and here.)

This Twitter thread speaks for itself:

Due to her numerous violations of God’s Word and false teaching I recommend that you not follow Jackie Hill-Perry or use her materials.


Additional Resources:

Jackie Hill Perry: Discernment Review by Elizabeth Prata

A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture” by Thomas Coutouzis