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39 Responses

  1. jtk says:

    When did churches become based on programs?

  2. Michael says:


    I don’t understand the question.
    What kind of programs are you talking about?

  3. JTK says:

    from Bruce L Shelley’s “ Church history in plain language“:
    Under “Rise of the Megachurch”

    (1) These congregations seldom carry a denominational label…” The name was a symbol of their openness to people with diverse backgrounds and problems: divorce, addictions, and depression.”

    (2) “ worship and these large congregations was marked by fast-paced and enthusiastic, popular, religious music.”

    (3) * this should be a particular interest to the PP audience*
    “ they were built around the attractive ministry of a magnetic preacher who possessed a win some personality.. Loyalty, what there was to be found in the gathering, was usually to the pastor, rather than to a denomination or congregation.”

    (4) “ these large churches seem to have the best that money could buy. Services were available for every imaginable need.”

  4. Michael says:


    That one is easy.

    The birth of the modern church is in the 1920’s and its mother was Aimee Semple McPherson.

    Anyone who hasn’t studied that remarkable woman hasn’t a clue as to the history of modern evangelicalism.

    She had programs…lots of them.

    Her “worship” services included massive musical and theatrical productions.

    She used media like no one before her…and set the standard for being an early adopter of technology.

    I could go on and on…

    She is the fount from which what we see today flowed.

  5. jtk says:

    There are many models of how churches operate, and I’m wondering about the program-based church. The above seems to partially answer my question. The modern non denominational megachurch seems to be the source.

    We Gen Xers have experienced it from a young age.

    I’m on a “mission” to examine the Gospels and the books of Acts and compare the modern church to what we see in those scriptures. And they are soooo different. Of course society is as well, but it seems modern church (especially those that focus on “programs”…is there a better term?) seems incredibly different than what Acts describes.

    All the recent talk about “the system” on here has me pondering these things, as well as my need to help people know and grow in Christ.

  6. Michael says:


    If you think the church in Acts didn’t have programs…you’re reading it wrong.

  7. JTK says:

    Ahhhhhh yes, I know of here.

    And she was fully of controversies too!

    Are the two inextricably linked?😂

  8. Michael says:


    Of course they are…because what evangelical churches are at the core are entrepreneurial projects based on the leaders personality…

  9. JTK says:

    Help me see them.

    I see the feeding of widows and more.

    I see the financial assistance.

    I see (or read into it?) NATURAL organic fellowship that doesn’t appear to be fake…which seems different than some corners of church life.

    I’ve seen fellowship done well as well as horribly.

  10. JTK says:

    Michael, I both see what you’re saying and see evidence quite to the contrary on a small scale anecdotal level.

    “Entrepreneurial projects”

    I’m so naïve (perhaps) that I think, in 2022, that if I could just take you for a month long ride-along you’d see the world differently…

    But if I got the emails you received, heard the stories you’ve heard, if I admired Bowden as much as you do, I’d likely see the world through your eyes.

    I appreciate your feedback.

    And HT to you for the book recommendation i posted above.

  11. Michael says:

    The feeding of widows and orphans was a program…supervised by elders.
    So were the financial projects…and the missions work.

    If you stick to the book of Acts, you miss the big picture.
    The picture is filled in with 1st Corinthians…and in both books you still see all sorts of issues with “organic “fellowships.
    1 Cor 11 is not primarily about the Eucharist, but addresses class distinctions in the church.

    The romanticization of the early church is fools gold.

  12. JTK says:

    What a mystery the Body of Christ can be!
    I read about Johnny Mac and then have 37 years of church experience that looks nothing like that.

    I know Christians that I have truckloads of respect for then know others that leave me scratching my head….

  13. Michael says:


    I have no doubt you see lots of good things.
    We’re seeing amazing things in Ukraine.

    That doesn’t eliminate the sea of nonsense and heresy that has washed over evangelicalism…it means we should be grateful for people like you.

  14. JTK says:

    “fools gold”

    can you say more?

    I try to look at both all of the Bible, and history and my own experience and observations. And I have a very curious mind, with a fairly extensive “network” of friends and acquaintances. And still don’t “understand”….lol

  15. JTK says:

    Ahhh thanks. Depends on who you ask 😂

  16. Michael says:


    As a standard rule, humans have a proclivity to sin…inside and outside the church, in history and today.
    We make systems to be efficient and that ability is a gift from God.
    The early church wasn’t pristine…and just got worse after the memory of Ananias and Sapphire faded…

  17. JTK says:

    I don’t like your answer about Aimee Semple McPherson…
    she seemed like such a complicated mess.

    She sounded like the most dramatic girl in high school drama class.

    I shall have to ponder these things.

    I appreciate your help A LOT

  18. Michael says:


    Sister Aimee is the single most fascinating and important person in church history of the last 150 years.

    She was a genius…I highly recommend the book I posted.

    If you don’t understand Aimee…you don’t understand today.

  19. Michael says:

    If the Jesus People movement was the last great revival…it was led by Chuck Smith…who was the spiritual child of Sister Aimee…let the reader understand…

  20. pstrmike says:

    I understand your point re: Aimee and Chuck Smith. Chuck Smith was a major figure during the Jesus Movement, but he was not the only one, even within Calvary Chapel. Other church groups in Southern California were experiencing an out pouring of the Holy Spirit in various ways. Particularly in the earlier years of the Jesus Movement, it was much more de-centralized. It became much more controllable, more hierarchical, the hippies got older, they divided into their different theological camps, and the day came when the music died.

  21. Michael says:


    My point is that all of that…especially in SoCal…is Aimee inspired and instructed.

    I have to do a hospital visit…be back later…

  22. Em says:

    For the record, I believe Simple Aimee came to us via Canada – like our VP
    Simple Aimee had a ramp constructed in her sanctuary and rode in on her motorcycle…

  23. Michael says:

    Yes, she was Canadian.

    She did shows like that almost weekly…

  24. JTK says:

    I FORGOT the Chuck Smith connection!
    He was a Foursquare pastor before he went to Cali.

    All the more fascinating for the PP audience

    Re: the Jesus People,
    people need a face to describe a movement, and Chuck Smith was the most identifiable

  25. Dan from Georgia says:

    JTK et al…I have NO connection whatsoever to CC and the like, and even I know who Chuck Smith was.

  26. Michael says:

    What I’m getting at is that all the defining marks of big evangelicalism sprang from Aimee…and I’m baffled at why she doesn’t get the attention she deserves.

    There is much…good and awful… to learn from her…

  27. Dread du Jour says:

    Chuck was running from Foursquare when he ran into Lonnie Frisbee. It was hard for him so decouple from his roots. Though Lonnie had no organic connection to Aimee he carried the spiritual DNA and forced CC into more charismata than Chuck could bear. He later dubbed it charismania and pursued Zionism as a unifying standard. Chuck inherited a flood and proceeded to build levees to control the waters.

    Foursquare is following suit. Having doused the free flow of Spirit gifting, they have gone full Wokeistan. They are swiftly transitioning the positional authority to those whose agenda is to partner with race essentialism. They are retraining their leaders to sit in silence as whiteness has to be opposed exposed and curtailed.

    CRT is a programmatic capture of institutions before it is a reprogramming of dogma. Institutions are poor vehicles of Spirit long term but fabulous disseminators of ideology.

    The spiritual heirs of Aimee are being driven out except for the international churches who, like Methodism, are more driven by passionate spirituality than social reconstruction. The true Seven Mountain occupiers are social justice warriors not revivalists.

  28. Em says:

    Pastor dread, VERY INTERESTING PONDER @2:19 ….. very interesting, indeed!

  29. Dread says:

    Of course — these are my thoughts and evaluations and I know I could be wrong as I have sometimes changed my mind… 😇

    I don’t speak infallibly here

  30. Michael says:


    I just looked at their website…and didn’t see or hear anything “woke”.

    I’ve stood for immigrants and border issues for decades…is that woke?

  31. Dread says:

    You’re not that naive to think that would appear in print.

    I did not say they’ve no virtue or truth remaining. And what they’ve done for “decades” has nothing to do with my claim.

    I’ll stand by it as I’ve been dialoging with the exiles. You know Michael justice and this DEI agenda are very seductively similar in language.

    But I could be wrong.

    For sure they are not the Foursquare of Aimee or Jack Hanford.

  32. Michael says:


    My concern is that anything not from the American right wing ideology is now considered “woke”.

    I’m seeing the CRT bogey man used to ruin good colleges, good schools, and good people.

    I’m seeing it applied in places where it’s simply not part of the system.

    There are real issues with far left ideologies…that is undeniable.

    However, the right is using the same tactics…just the other side of the coin.

  33. Dread says:


    Denial of existence is the standard …

    Nothing to see here is the creed…

    I would know nothing of this whole thing if it were not for honest classical liberals who have been ground in the wheels of this movement. They are the prophets who warned me with the church was sleeping.

    The matters I am raising about Foursquare are based on actual experiences of pastors who are being put to the tests of DEI orthodoxy, asked to be silent in online communities, displaced by superintendents who have never been pastors but carry the appropriate intersectional attributes, accused of racism without being allowed to face accusers.

    I don’t deny right wing damnables, not least the prophetic liars, and the refusal to accept a failed election but institutional hegemony has very few havens left among conservatives.

    Call it out if you see it …. we can have healthy discussions. I am game.

  34. Michael says:


    I believe your testimonies come from direct sources.

    We will discuss this further…but I have church coming up tonight and need to get situated…

  35. Dread says:

    Grace and peace Michael,

    Discharging the word in the company of the faithful is that which I miss most.

    We can talk another time.

  36. Dread says:

    On another note

    The mercy-naries Christian and otherwise have flooded to Eastern Europe. They return bearing gifts — the latest strain of COVID19.

    Yes they test everyone who is leaving but infection precedes symptoms and COVID19 is raging among their numbers.

    Mask totalitarians will be thrilled vaccine deniers will be scandalized and our nations irreconcilable divides will expand.

    Much reason to pray.

    It seems that, like Jezebel and her kin, we are cast upon the sickbed and we are not soon to be freed.

    Candlestick is in the wind

  37. JD says:

    We attended a 4 Square church 25 years ago. We never got into the “counterfeit revival” so we left when someone tried to push grandma backwards. They were careful never to mention Ms. Aimee at all and claimed credit to have spawned Chuck Smith. Visiting overseers were concerned about the number of people who got saved and about pressuring and promoting the Mr. and Mrs. Pastor to move on up the ladder within the worldwide organization.
    Otherwise very good people I remember.

  38. JTK says:

    I think part of the answer to your query is that paradoxical things in Christian history make us uncomfortable. Charismatic things make us uncomfortable. She has both.

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