Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stuffed Shirts & Their Sycophants

The Cult of Evangelical Leadership, Part 3 

Stuffed Shirt: Someone viewed as exceedingly competent, a notch above others, extraordinary, superior, elite, a surpassing expert, a change agent, above average, higher up, unrivaled, first-class, a higher degree, hardly ever wrong, and wealthier than average. Stuffed Shirts are perceived as formal, pompous, narcissistic, arrogant, excessively elite, stiff, controlled, perfectionistic, smug or conceited; and many are considered to be inflexible, condescending, controlling or reactionary. 

Sycophant: a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning sidekick; naïve or blind follower; a favor-seeking underling. 

The evangelical universe has an over-abundance of Stuffed Shirt Types these days. Parachurch organizations are overflowing with them. Seminaries breed them. Conferences are booked to capacity with them.

Stuffed Shirts exist solely because they are continuously surrounded by vast armies of Sycophants, their own True Believers.

Here is a partial list of Stuffed Shirt Types, the New Breed of evangelical Mucky-Mucks – consultants, experts, leaders, trainers, coaches, change agents, financial stewards, executives, entrepreneurs, professors, investors, managers, gurus, mavens, best-sellers, keynote speakers, advisors, commanders, portfolio managers, senior specialists, analysts, accountants, CEOs, administrators and top honchos.

The above list was compiled from recent scouring of the Internet to see what sorts of conferences BigWig evangelical Leaders and their Multitudinous Organizations are sponsoring these days. All of these Stuffed Shirts flourish impressive credentials as Successful Experts in their field. No Peons Allowed.

This is the new face of Evangelicaldom. It is being overrun with Stuffed Shirt types. Legions of them. They are all plaguing the church in these last days! And they all cost money! Lots of money.

Stuffed Shirts come in all shapes, sizes and kinds. Defying the stereotype of starched collars with formal suits and ties, modern-day Stuffed Shirts appear in a wider variety of disguises – rugby stripes, button-downs, T-shirts… you name it. Casual is hip. You can more easily spot them when they sport their own name brand on their sleeve. In fact, their entire operation will sport their logo.

By definition, a Stuffed Shirt is a Change Agent. But Stuffed Shirts do not all fit the same personality profile. (Some appear humble.)

Here’s the key to identifying one: Stuffed Shirts are the Esteemed Experts. You’re not. Never forget this! You can become an Aspiring Expert, but you will always be the lesser.

Who are the Stuffed Shirts?

Here are a few examples:

  • Erudite Scholars who hash out beliefs in the stratosphere, mixing complex historical lineages with postmodern thought to create new ideologies. These will frequently use obscure language delivered via complicated minutiae of intricately tangled logic. 
  • Concoctors and Inventors develop their own terminologies and theologies. In order to follow them, a Sycophant must become indoctrinated through the Stuffed Shirt’s Bible 101 class, read their books, follow their careers, imitate their mannerisms and methods, attend all of their conferences, watch all their DVDs, and generally glom onto them wherever they happen to go. 
  • Executive Stuffed Shirts in the business world – Managerial Elites who are rapidly turning the church into a Marketplace of Ideas, while integrating their Financial and Corporate Wizardry into a new sort of Theology. Here is one impressive description from Tim Keller's coming big Movement Day, the Executive Marketplace Leaders & City Engagement Track: 
Executive-level marketplace leaders in our largest cities are career-focused individuals who devote much of their lives to the advancement of their career. The great need is to identify and unleash the spiritual gifts and passions of marketplace leaders. This track aims to assist senior-level marketplace executives in building an individual game-plan so that they can have maximum influence in one or more sectors in the life of our cities.
  • Brash Stuffed Shirt Statisticians create intricate formulas for monitoring spiritual implementations and measuring spiritual success. These are often the Psychosocial Engineers who intend to re-organize Evangelicaldom with Military Precision. Rank and File Sycophants must march in lock-steps. 
  • Stuffed Shirt Luminaries who attain notability and nobility at the helm of their movement’s ship, steering it into uncharted theological waters. These are the Demi-Gods and Goddesses who reign over entire Empires of Sycophants. 
  • Financial Stuffed ShirtsCash Cow Types – strategically maneuver assets to fund themselves and other Stuffed Shirts within the Hierarchy of Haves. (Notice that you are a Have-Not.) They straddle the fence between Sacred and Secular, carrying Wealth and Prosperity into the doctrines and practices of the Church to Come. 
  • Servant-Leaders – this is a very popular Monogram a Stuffed Shirt can wear on his sleeve. Sycophants will spot this and be gullible enough to believe that their Stuffed Shirt is merely exhibiting the Elite qualities of Leadership that are a result of being a Humble Servant. 

Impermeable Stuffed Shirts 
There are some unique and peculiar traits possessed by all Stuffed Shirts. Stuffed Shirts are typically Sacred Cows. They can meander towards sin or heresy and get away with it, especially if they do it gradually and progressively. They can do something very controversial and call it a mishap, a foible, a stumble. When they compromise the faith, or engage in an outright sin – they are excused. Not only excused, but justified, and held up as a role model for other Stumblers. Even if they do it repeatedly! They sometimes become even more popular after a noteworthy controversy hits the press.

Stuffed Shirts are venerated as Saints. They do not err. Hanging out a Stuffed Shirt’s Dirty Laundry isn’t as terrible as it used to be.

Stuffed Shirts are invincible. They have a tough veneer. A few of them have been hounded by persistent rumors for years, but remain intact, impervious to any dents in their Kevlar type shirt fabric. Some Stuffed Shirts have been charged with outright heresy, real crimes, or accused of sexual indiscretions. But their Sycophants will make excuses, help peddle their redeemed image to the public, forgive and forget. Even when the Stuffed Saintly Shirt is still running up a tab with Satan!

Many Stuffed Shirts seem so sincere. They truly believe they have a Sacred Calling to rectify deficiencies in the church. They act as though they have a Divine Calling to assist, manage, cultivate, and oversee things that are inferior in the church. These Pragmatists want to spiff up the Bride into a state of Superior Betterment. They believe they are adding Value to the Church, increasing its desirability to Society, especially by engaging in Cultural Renewal to improve the Planet.

The Cream of the Crop Stuffed Shirts were trained by the Elite Professional Stuffed Shirt organization, Leadership Network. Here they were taught programs and practices that redefined primary biblical doctrines and directives. Here they learned the arts of Dialectic Engineering, Progressivism, Radicalism, and Change Agentry for Global Community Transformation.

Stuffed Shirt Stars were launched onto career paths to become Leadership Network’s Elite Transformational Agents. They were hand-selected, well-funded, given book contracts, propped up in ministry, given churches, set on the conference circuit, and marketed with a unique Image of Hipness. Lesser Stuffed Shirts were also recruited into important roles that aligned them, and their organizations, with the Big Scheme of Things in the Mega-Stuffed Shirt world. Stuffed Shirts need Accessories to complement them.

Not surprisingly, Stuffed Shirts operate via Peer Pressure. Stuffed Shirts don’t want to be ostracized by other Stuffed Shirts for nonconformity to the New Way of Doing Things. Note: a small-time Stuffed Shirt can be a Sycophant for a Bigtime Stuffed Shirt. This is the Herd Mentality. Follow the Leader.

Symbiotic Sycophants 
Which brings us to the point about Sycophants. Sycophants are Lemmings. They go wherever the Stuffed Shirt goes, even if off they head off a cliff. Why do they follow? In hopes that the Spiritual Elitism and/or Financial Success of the Stuffed Shirt will rub off on them.

There is a Symbiotic relationship between a Sycophant and a Stuffed Shirt. A Sycophant's role is to elevate the Stuffed Shirt to his superior expert role. Sycophants are an essential part of the process. A Stuffed Shirt cannot exist in his Supremacy without many underlings who function as cheerleaders, facilitators, networkers, conference attendees and book purchasers. Sycophants are expected to be advertisers of a Stuffed Shirt’s ideas, theologies, projects and brand name. Sycophants pay to do this. It helps fund the Stuffed Shirt’s life calling, including his Halftime retirement plan.

The role of Sycophant has key requirements: Don’t think. Don’t analyze. Don’t ask questions. Just accept. Just follow. Sycophants are expected to adulate, imitate, emulate and admire their Stuffed Shirt. The self-esteem and life’s purpose of a Sycophant must be tied to the ideas, plans, visions, theories, theologies and ambitions of the Stuffed Shift that they follow. Name-brand loyalty is another key to Stuffed Shirt survival. Sycophants must proclaim in unison, “I am of Apollos” (1 Cor. 3:4), especially in order to disdain any of their Stuffed Shirt’s competitors or opposition.

Stuffed Shirts use Snake Oil for aftershave. They have clever ways to guarantee that they will remain in Sacred Sainthood regardless of opposition. In fact, some Stuffed Shirts seem to be made of Teflon. They will often band together into newly-created Entities for Elites that are given clever marketing names and new conference circuits. The list of Stuffed Shirts as keynote presenters is always filled with Impressive Credentials. No one ever has a Bad Hair day in their Conference promo photo.

Deflecting Criticism 

Stuffed Shirts wear Bulletproof Vests. Below are a few clever methods that Stuffed Shirts will use to stay in Positions of Power and Influence, deflecting any criticism or opposition that comes their way:

  • The Office of Stuffed Shirt is a good one to stand behind. Because of the “office” they are above reproach. They then can demand subservience and submission. 
  • Multitudinous expansions. Diversifying. Networking. No longer coming under one single hierarchy of authority. These practices permit the Stuffed Shirt to adapt his wardrobe. He can change his shirt whenever he needs to change his role. This permits him to leave a bad scene and hop into another role. It is a good escape hatch in case things get nasty. Occasionally there are wardrobe malfunctions! 
  • Public accolades. Some Stuffed Shirts become so famous that no one dares question or accuse them of anything. When even the mainstream press likes a Stuffed Shirt, watch out! When the average public becomes Sycophants, no one will want to hear anything negative. 
  • Ecumenical councils are great to hide behind. Stuffed Shirts can get away with anything when they don their Ecumenical Garb. Who oversees parachurch organizations? Other Stuffed Shirts, who are also Sycophants, who have achieved equally high levels of compromise! 
  • Act super-ordinary. Watch out! It is an act! Stuffed Shirts with acumen love to flaunt their normality. “Just an average Joe,” they say if anyone questions, and then they will produce a photo-op with their good-looking family doing nice things. Note: Many do not practice what they preach. 
  • Put the Sweet Wife on the Conference Circuit, standing in pulpits with other Stuffed Shirts. The Stuffed Shirt’s Wife will be touted as some sort of Expert about Something Popular in Church or Society. This will increase Stardom and Respectability for the Stuffed Shirt. 
  • Use Mega-Star Status to the best advantage in every situation. Stuffed Shirts must ensure that their Sycophants truly believe that their level of achievement is unattainable and even divinely ordained. When they have a vision to jump, everyone must jump. Don’t think, just jump! He’s the pilot, he knows what he’s doing. 
  • Progressive compromising. Publish a series of books or articles that start out conservatively but progressively become worse each new book. Some Sycophants notice when the Stuffed Shirt is eroding from biblical Truth. In such case the Stuffed Shirt will refer them back to the original conservative work and assert that this is the true belief. 
  • Develop a Statement of Faith that suits all purposes, seasons, and beliefs. Use wiggle-room language that can mean all things to all people. A very clever appeasement tactic indeed! 
  • Hold a Conversation. If colleagues notice and begin to write articles questioning an errant, eroding and/or emerging Stuffed Shirt, he will respond by engaging them in a dialogue and lead them to consensus. Common Ground is an effective strategy to diffuse all opponents. Other Stuffed Shirts (who are often also Sycophants) are particularly susceptible to this mollifying strategy. It feeds their ego to feel like they are part of the “Conversation.” 
  • Be overly Polite and Nice. Politeness masks many bad things. Being Nice deflects criticism. “He’s such a nice guy,” his critics will say. And forget what they were upset about in the first place. 
  • Wining and Dining,” i.e., schmoozing and flattering. A very effective method of silencing any opponents. Invite critics and roll out the Red Carpet. Wow! Impressive! 
  • Build a rich organization that is made up of upper middle class, well-educated people. No one else quite fits in. This works like a charm to diffuse criticisms of any Stuffed Shirt. Everyone surrounding him is monochromatic and the peer group reigns supreme. The poor become an object of ministry. And the rich get richer. 
  • Expect or demand absolute loyalty. Particularly important when there is a brand name at stake. There are perks for loyal Sycophants! No dissension allowed! Yes, it does happen. More often than you think. 
  • Distinctives. This is a key element for any Stuffed Shirt. His Distinctives are what makes him superior. His Sycophants soon learn his Distinctives by rote and become promoters of the same. Any who challenge this are referred to the Code of Holy Distinctives of the Stuffed Shirt. If his Holy Distinctives actually become New Theology – WOW! That’s really impressive! It makes Fawning Followers feel very blessed to be a part of his new movement. 
  • Be Strategic. Stuffed Shirts love to launch Strategic Initiatives that further their Vision and goals. Sycophants are required to “buy in” to the Grand Vision and sacrificially implement it. Sycophants are told they are “Stakeholders” when, in reality, it is the Stuffed Shirt who is driving the stake. 
  • Special powers. Some Stuffed Shirts claim to have Special Spiritual Abilities that others don’t have. Some have even formed organizations that ordain and anoint Stuffed Shirts into their ranks. These special powers keep Sycophants in a state of awe. While in this state they are very compliant. Sometimes they are motivated by promises that they, too, will gain these special powers if they follow their Stuffed Shirt. 
  • Deception. Certain Stuffed Shirts employ strategies of deceit and lying. This is because Sycophants are usually quite gullible and will believe anything. This is also much more common than you think! The easiest way to deceive is to not tell the WHOLE truth of the matter. Stuffed Shirts are often engaged in activities that are highly questionable. So they keep potentially controversial things under the radar. 
  • Act superior. This is the basic definition of a Stuffed Shirt and this is what they are best at doing. Some have it, some don’t. Let’s hope you don’t! 
The Truth: 
 One might note in the descriptions above that there is something missing: Jesus Christ. Yes, this is a sad common occurrence these days. It seems that the Methods and the Means are becoming much more important than worshipping the Saviour. The Stuffed Shirts’ Mega-Programs and Gigantic Projects are now the focus, not Jesus Christ, the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him… Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 5:9 and 12:2)

In the Stuffed Shirt Universe, being Elite is key. And therefore everyone trained by the Stuffed Shirts focuses on Higher and Greater and Upper levels of Man-Made Status and Significance. But what did Jesus say about His ministry focus?

And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.”
(Mark 9:33-37)

Part 1: Sacred Cows & Stars. 
Part 2: CA$H COW$ & FAT CAT$

Note that much of the subject matter in this post is covered in a multitude of previous Herescope posts spanning 2005 to the present -- posts which have exhaustive documentation on these topics.
Written by Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


The Cult of Evangelical Leadership, Part 2 

 Fat Cat[1] 

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them;
Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle
and between the lean cattle.

(Ezekiel 34:20) 

Cash Cow: “A cash cow is a product or a business unit that generates unusually high profit margins…. A customer or organization that has no control over its spending.”[2] 

Fat Cat: “A rich, greedy person who, due to ownership of large amounts of capital, is able to ‘live easy’ off the work of others.”[3] 

The widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4). It is one of the most durable myths in Evangelicaldom. Leaders perpetuate the myth with their endless fundraising. “Your dollar will help my project to ... fill in the blank.” These leaders say they are doing “the Lord’s work” and every mite you send to them will “bless you” in return.

But is Evangelicaldom fueled by widows’ mites alone? No! The whole Mega-Ministry Empire operates like a giant Cash Cow, and its Reigning Monarchs act like Fat Cats. Since most Fat Cats are treated like Sacred Cows, their people rarely question them about money matters. But where does all their money come from? Surely not just from tiny widows’ mites!

“Seed-faith” giving was re-branded as “Faith-Promise” giving in the 1970s by the new army of dark-suited Church Growth Consultant Fat Cats, who used persuasive and subtle techniques to finance the rise of denominational-less Community Centers – a new breed of Cash Cow Mega-Churches. Meanwhile, the Prosperity Teacher Fat Cats issued prophecies about a “great outpouring of wealth,” and promised if you followed their teachings you’d get rich.[4] “I must be doing something wrong,” a friend complained. “I keep giving them money but I am not getting wealthy. What is wrong with me?” She didn't ask what was wrong with the Fat Cat, nor question what might be wrong with his teaching.

The well-oiled Evangelical Cash Cow Machine operates on Fat Cat Big Money but it reaches into your pockets incessantly, too. Hang on to your wallets! Everything costs money! Cash Cows thrive on the money derived from conferences, book sales, DVDs, promos and special events.

The gospel isn’t free anymore. The Gospel of Salvation is still free – you can read it online here: But the other gospels that Fat Cats manufacture? – these cost money. You have to buy their books, curricula, training, workshops or programs. You have to invest in their exclusive formulas and innovative strategies for church or personal growth. Presumably these investments will reap benefits for you. Benefits like status, significance, stardom, influence, self-esteem, profits and promotions. That’s the thinking.

Most Cash Cows cultivate their Image. Money talks, people listen. The Elites have it. Chances are, you don’t. It is only human nature (unredeemed) to want to associate with, emulate, imitate, and esteem those with lavish lifestyles and lucrative endeavors. But understand this – these Fat Cats want YOU to finance THEM! They are busy building an empire and it is your job to be the cannon fodder.  Well, okay, maybe it is not that bad, but note that it is YOU who are expendable. YOUR money, your time, your talents…. all part of THEIR plan.

Question: Is your money going to the Lord Jesus Christ? Or to a Fat Cat who is building a Cash Cow Empire?

Empire Builders & Their Costly Gimmicks 
The Modern Monks of Status and Significance flaunt the latest fashion, and do all their “emerging” through chic urban artistic and cultural pursuits – all of which comes at huge price. Can you afford it? Just try to emulate it! Richard Foster wrote The Freedom of Simplicity, but the actual cost in real-life to go plain and simple was sky-high. I know; I tried it. Leadership Mucky-Mucks travel the globe while espousing sustainable lifestyles, and sacrificial missional tithing. YOU are the one who must become sustainable and sacrificial, not the Fat Cats.

Eradicating poverty is a popular slogan for those who want to build the kingdom of God here on earth. This is a great agenda to support because it deflects attention away from the well-financed Cash Cow programs. Sadly, mission work has now become “transformational,” and it costs way more money to share the complex, culture-changing, new-fangled gospel programs than it used to cost sharing the plain Word of the Gospel. Concerning one such conference, Ed Silvoso promised:

These practitioners are men and women who are leading transformation churches, directing companies that are uprooting corruption and eradicating systemic poverty, and in so doing they are seeing the Kingdom of God bring down the Gates of Hades. They will be available to connect with you, sit down for a meal, answer questions, exchange insights, and by the end of the week when you go back home, nothing will be the same.[5] 

Yes, Silvoso's right. Nothing will be the same, and next week your checkbook will be emptier. Are you having trouble coming up with enough grocery money to buy potatoes, sugar, flour and eggs? Never fear! Invest in the T.D. Jakes Cash Cow and:

  • Learn to make money from what you were born to do 
  • Increase your cash-flow immediately 
  • Relieve all financially related concerns 
  • Develop 8 income streams to create generational wealth [6] 

Another promo for the same T.D. Jakes conference advertises that if you want to be a “VIP” you can pay $100 EXTRA, in addition to the regular fee. Who wouldn't want to be a VIP?! Here’s what you get for your initial investment with T.D. Jakes... MORE MONEY!!!....

Why CONQUER? With 23 million people looking for a job and many families and business in search of financial security, it's time to end the economic drought. When you attend CONQUER on November 15 & 16, you will: 
  • Expand your ideas into new markets 
  • Develop 8 "REAL" income streams 
  • Meet the people that will mentor you to wholeness and success 
  • Learn how to make your 1st million dollars 
  • Turn your gift into a corporation 
  • Attend a special women-only "financial relief" session 
  • Develop Wealth from your natural gifts 
  • Attract leaders to serve your vision 
  • Monetize Facebook and Twitter to Market Your Dream Learn leadership skills that give you the edge[7] 

Do you fancy yourself an up-and-coming Leader? Were you raised in the self-esteem generation? Register for a hip leadership conference where “Everyone is a Winner” – after you cough up the $319 registration fee.[8] The road to becoming a Fat Cat is paved with gold. Your gold.

Mega-Cat Rick Warren is being featured at the Orange County, California “OC Business Summit” on October 19th that will “highlight some of the world's brightest minds in business development, entrepreneurship, and marketing.”[9] Warren is also doing a course on “Contemporary Preaching” at the online Global Church Learning Center, a project of Billion Soul Network where Leonard Sweet is a major player. Here’s how you can get rich quick off a billion souls:

Last week, a key Billion Soul Network investor chose to give $155 toward each new membership for the next 50 Global Church Learning Center Memberships! We now only have 34 Memberships left! He has chosen to do this so that the price can remain at $195 instead of the regular price of $350 per year. That's right! If you or someone on your team chooses to become a GCLC member right away he/she will receive a $155 discount for joining. All of these will be gone soon! 

A Special Billion Soul Investor Rate
 $195 For Annual Membership[10] [bold in original]

The reader may wish to start calculating the added costs of travel, airfare, fancy hotels, workbooks and meals to attend all of these Cash Cow events. For example, you are cordially invited to have “Christmas Dinner with Chuck and Nancy [Missler] on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at their new home, The River Lodge, Reporoa, New Zealand. Only $55.00 per person. Limited to 50 people!”[11] This type of exclusive offer obviously only applies to those who are already well on the road to Prosperity. Fat Cat Wannabes and their Big Donor cousins enjoy this type of special attention.

Tim Keller, intent on Transforming New York City and other cities, is sponsoring an October 2013 Mega-Event for his Mega-Plan. You can attend the “New York City Leadership Center’s Movement Day 2013 Summit,” and stay at the ritzy New York Marriott Marquis Hotel at 1535 Broadway. Only $149 per person to attend! Keller, an emerging Fat Cat, is launching a massive Cash Cow program – a “Leaders Changing Cities Through Gospel Movements” campaign for the purpose of “building the Kingdom together.”[12] There is no reference to the Gospel of Salvation. Rather, the conference registration promo states:

Our Mission is to Cultivate Gospel Movements in Cities by
  • Facilitating unity and collaboration amongst Christian leaders to address today's urban issues.

Keller's Grandiose Plan to impact “whole cities and cultures” will effectually create a whole new strata of elite, well-educated Salaried Evangelical Professionals – the list includes: “Ministry and Marketplace Leaders,” “urban church planters,” “Church Planting Network Leaders,” “Dynamic Leadership,” “Alliance Building” types, “Social Sector Leaders,” “Emerging Leaders,” “Marketplace Leaders,” “Non-profit Leaders,” “Church, Business and Government Leaders,” “Prayer Leaders,” “Collegiate Ministry Directors and Practitioners,” “Youth Ministry Leaders and Practitioners,” “Community Mobilizers,” “Marketplace Executives,” and, oh yeah, don’t forget… “Pastors.”[13] 

Everywhere you turn in Evangelicaldom you will find opportunities to UPGRADE your Status by giving more, which results in more Prestige. At Cindy Jacob’s you can become a “Premium Member” for $20/year and get a “Stand for Right” wristband with a USRPN pen and bookmark. For $40 you get all this, plus a “Stand for Right” coffee mug or T-shirt. And for $80/year you will receive a “specially designed USRPN Personal Prayer Journal.”[14] 

Continuous Quality Improvement for Cash Cows costs money. Want to expand your church, increase your profits, and turn it into rapid growth organization involved in Kingdom collaborations? Here’s what the Leadership Network, the Premier Organization that trained pastors how to become Fat Cats lording over Cash Cow Mega-Churches, advertises:

Accelerate your efforts to develop a culture of generosity in your church through a series of highly specialized, interactive gatherings, enhanced by relationships with fellow pace-setting churches. Outcomes include an increase in financial stewardship and generosity among church members, increased funding through donor support, and funding for mission initiatives.[15]

Extravagant lifestyles are the norm in Cash Cow universe. For example, is this Elephant Room curator/pastor an emerging Fat Cat?:
  • James MacDonald is rumored to have made “OVER $1 MILLION DOLLARS per year from various income streams connected with the church.”[16] 

Extravagant operations can be a financial windfall for any savvy Pastor. One Leadership Network Fat Cat explains:

The new official statistic is that there are more than 5,000 multisite churches in North America. That’s more than 5,000 different churches, each of which has two or more different geographic campuses – one church in two or more locations.[17]

Indeed, Multi-Site churches are a huge source of Operating Cash. The off-site churches are usually required to tithe upline, giving a generous amount of additional operating capital to the Mother Church. These “multi-site” churches are built around the charismatic figurehead of the “visionary leader” – a “meticulously stage-managed image of a spiritual giant” who preaches via satellite in a “carefully scripted and controlled environment.” In other words, a Multi-Site church is the perfect Cash Cow situation for a pastor who wants to become a Fat Cat. But some question this sort of multi-site leader:

You don’t know if he’s a gambler, a prescription drug addict, or an abuser of children. You know nothing about the man save for the image that is meticulously crafted, cultivated and finally “beamed” to your campus for your spiritual consumption. Consequently, you don’t truly have a pastor. Instead, you have a pleasing “image,” an “image” that knows how to turn a witty phrase as he delivers a sermon he often didn’t even write by his own hand.[18]

Cash Cows and Fat Cats finance the 7 Mountain Mandate to build the Kingdom of God on Earth. This comes in as many guises as there are many streams of Dominionism. Craig Hill, who runs the Family Mountain in cahoots with Os Hillman (who runs the website), has published a new book Five Wealth Secrets 96% of Us Don’t Know. The aptly named Hill says the problem is that “96% of us have never been taught to practice the Five Secrets that result in natural, supernatural, and generational wealth multiplication.”[19] Mountain Building requires Monetary Multiplication.

In fact, some Fat Cats have very creative Cash Cow operations that collaborate with downline marketing and other money-making schemes. See Quantum Collaborator David Van Koevering's website for an intriguing example. TheElijahList even advertised Hyssop Health Therapy in conjuction with Van Koevering's teachings on Quantum Physics (8/07/12).

There's even money to be made in hyping potential eschatological disasters; returning Nephilim for example. Some of this works like an elaborate gambling operation, predicting dates and events. For example, you can attend the New Age conference “Maya 2012: Transform at the Source” (see with L.A. Marzulli this December 13-22 to watch firsthand “the birth of the Great Cycle of transformation and renewal!”

The Other Money 
Despite the public fund-raising hooplas, it is a myth that Brother Fat Cat’s Mega-Ministry depends on widows’ mites – small, humble contributions. In fact, it is much more sophisticated than this. Fat Cats get money from other Fat Cats. It is how the game is played.

Where does all the money come from to finance the Evangelicaldom Empire – the big media moguls, the large advocacy groups, the huge mission endeavors, the megalithic parachurch movements? The money most likely comes from a host of foundations, philanthropic entities, other non-profits, and complex financial organizations that offer sophisticated “giving” strategies. Some demand accountability and attainment of outcomes. Others target specific causes and agendas that may be political, cultural or... even spiritual. But this is just the tip of the iceberg….

Extravagant giving is the norm in the Fat Cat giving universe. For example:
  • The Koch Brothers, “whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars,” funds the political Right in America, which is intertwined with the Evangelical Right.[20] 
  • Chick-Fil-A, which came into controversy for funding anti-gay marriage activists as part of its multi-million dollar giving.[21] 

Just so you aren’t buffaloed, be aware that the Cash Cow entities that finance the Evangelical Universe aren’t always in the foreground. These creatures pasture in the back forty where they can flourish sight unseen. They often act in herds, making operations they support, and breaking those that they dislike. And many recipients cloak their financial Fat Cat sources. No wonder so many church groups now utilize elaborate screening devices to handpick elders for their board of directors! And this point doesn't even begin to consider the interlocking boards of directorates of Evangelicaldom's massive and diverse Parachurch Empire.

Money talks. These Mega-Cow foundations distribute Megabucks. From you can read about certain Fat Cat Financiers such as:

National Christian Foundation 
National Christian Foundation (NCF) is America’s largest donor-advised fund focused on the unique goals of Christian givers. As the 22nd largest charity in the country, NCF helps Christians give more by providing innovative charitable solutions and expertise. Through their home office in Atlanta, GA, and national network of Affiliates, NCF has granted more than $2 billion since 1982 to thousands of churches, ministries, and nonprofits. When it comes to maximizing charitable gifts for Kingdom impact, the nation’s most generous givers, professional advisors, private foundations, churches, and nonprofit leaders trust NCF 

The Maclellan Foundation, Inc. 
The Maclellan Foundation, Inc. is the largest of the Maclellan Family Foundations, as well as the oldest. Incorporated in June of 1945 by Robert J. Maclellan, his son Robert L. Maclellan, and his sister Dora Maclellan Brown, the Maclellan Foundation, Inc. has served the evangelical and Chattanooga communities for over sixty years. With a heart to invest in evangelical faith-based solutions throughout the world and to encourage wise giving among Kingdom Investors, the Maclellan Foundation, Inc. partners with many ministries worldwide ... 

Generous Giving 
Generous Giving is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to spread the biblical message of generosity and grow generous givers among those entrusted with much. The Maclellan Foundation, a recognized leader in Christian grant making for more than 50 years, launched Generous Giving in 2000. Privately funded, Generous Giving does not solicit donations, permit solicitation at its events, or award grants. But Generous Giving is more than an effective organization; it is the manifestation of the passion and compassion of many dedicated individuals who work together to create a safe, inspiring, and enlightening environment in which Christians can learn more about the joys of generosity, free from pressures about where to give or how much to give. Generous Giving works to affect transformation in the hearts and minds of God's people with the goal of creating revolutionary generosity 

Matthew 28 Foundation 
The Matthew 28 Foundation helps Christian leaders develop generous people within their spheres of influence – in their churches, ministries, businesses, and families. Matthew 28 provides education and consultation services to support and further their mission ... [22] 

This is the tip of a gigantic iceberg. This list could go on and on. Follow the money trail if you want to find out who actually controls the agendas of the organizations you see in Evangelicaldom.

The Truth:
As Pastor Larry DeBruyn once warned, there are dire spiritual consequences for those who get caught up in the lucrative world of Cash Cows and Fat Cats:

Prophets for profit are proliferating, and millions are buying into spiritualities that are cheating them out of their eternal life savings.[23]

All this excessive financial activity is a sign of the times:

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
(Revelation 3: 17-18) 

1. and 
5. Ed Silvoso, Email 8/31/12, “30 Days From Today Hawaii Becomes God's Pulpit to the World!” advertising the ITN Conference See Pastor Gary Gilley’s review of David Platt’s book, Radical, for another example: See also the review at: 
6. Email from Dr. Robert Watkins of Kings & Priests Unlimited, 8/20/12, advertising scheduled for Nov. 15-16, where you can “join Robert Watkins, T.D. Jakes, Dale Bronner, Luther Ragsdale, Evelyn Watkins, Bruce Cook, Johnny Enlow and other seasoned business experts.” You can even earn 20% from referring others this event by going to this link and signing up.
7. Email from Dr. Robert Watkins of Kings & Priests Unlimited, 10/1/12/12, advertising scheduled for Nov. 15-16. 
8. “Catalyst Conference/Atlanta/Oct. 3-5/Register Today” e-mail sent out by Todd Rhoades 8/21/12. Too late! You missed the opportunity to have rubbed shoulders with Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel and other Sacred Cows! 
9. Check out the other speakers. 
10. Email from James O. Davis, Second Billion, “Rick Warren's Course On Contemporary Preaching Coming Online!” 10/10/12, 
12. To register see: 
13. and start looking at all of the webpage information. These quotes came from: Note that “Halftime” is a project of Leadership Network. See also:,,,,,,, Also see: and note that Keller has launched a New City Catechism to go with this movement
14. Email from Mike Jacobs (Cindy’s husband), 10/2/12, from the United States Reformation Prayer Network at 
15. Leadership Network e-mail, 9/6/12, “What’s Next from Leadership Network” advertising “Leadership Communities: The Goal: Twice the results in half the time.” To underscore the complicated financial arrangements of doing this, here is more how this was introduced: "Generous Churches (EUROPE)
First Meeting: April 22, 2013 in Lisbon, Portugal
Designed to address the increasing need to build a culture of generosity in churches throughout Europe, Leadership Network is partnering with Stewardship (UK), Crown Europe, Christians Against Poverty (CAP), and the Lausanne Committee, to facilitate the European Generous Churches Leadership Community.” See: Note that your church must have “an average weekly attendance of at least 500 members” to qualify. 
17. Warren Bird, “Multisite Churches Number More than 5,000,” Leadership Network, ADVANCE, Sept. 11, 2012. 
18. Quotes are from “Multi-Site Churches: Paving the Road to a “Cult of Personality,” 
19. See Os Hillman at and where he is touting Change Agent One-Day Seminars to help conquer the Business, Media & Arts & Entertainment Mountains. Also see: 
20. Jane Mayer, “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama. 
21. See articles such as, “Chick-Fil-A Re-Evaluated Funding for Anti-Gay Marriage Groups – ABC News,”
23. “False Profits & False Prophets: Financial greed: occasion for spiritual deception,” By Pastor Larry DeBruyn, 2/24/12, 

Read Part 1: Sacred Cows & Stars.
Note that much of the subject matter in this post is covered in a multitude of previous Herescope posts spanning 2005 to the present -- posts which have exhaustive documentation on these topics.
Written by Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Sacred Cows and Stars

The Cult of Evangelical Leadership 

Sacred Cow[1]

“Most errors in matters of faith are contagious and infectious;
the reason is, because ordinarily an error is broached by some,
and entertained by others, in satisfaction to some lust,
as favouring some evil desire and inclination of our minds,
and so naturally pleaseth those who have the same evil propensions.”
– Matthew Poole

Billy Graham was probably the first real superstar in the rising evangelical pop culture. Some men had fame, but Billy had charisma and was widely admired. He possessed stage presence, a handsome face and good hair, a zeal mixed with just the right dose of humility, access to big arenas and unlimited crowd appeal. He was the first Big Star.

Mankind has always desired heroes to worship. And some men have been extraordinarily gifted, dynamic, and attractive – possessing superior talents and abilities. It is human nature, after all, to put eminent men on pedestals and exalt them as bigger-than-life Super Heroes. Some men are thought to be more than mere mortals.

Hollywood contributed to the celebrity ethos in America, and even Jesus Christ became a Superstar in the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera of 1971. Rock ‘n roll artists paved the way, turning themselves into instant Idols. The Beatles led the music culture far beyond Elvis into the visionary pursuits of Eastern mysticism, transcendental meditation and drugs. Idolatrous teenage fawning over rock stars was mightily facilitated by altered states of consciousness. Star-following became a way of life in America. Fans, a term derived from “fanatic,” became the norm.

From the earliest days of the modern evangelical movement the church followed the same sociological patterns as the culture at large and elevated certain men to Superior Status. By the late 1970s, as the broader evangelical media became an integral part of the American church landscape, leaders naturally – and unnaturally – arose. The television ministry became a new channel for popularity. In this climate of excess, Robert Schuller built his exotic Crystal Cathedral. The old humble revival meeting circuit gave way to the popular conference circuit. Prominent leaders like Pat Robertson and Dr. James Dobson rose to the forefront. Evangelical Stardom was birthed.

Soon it became popular to name drop. “I attended a conference where Joyce Landorf spoke,” a friend bragged in 1978, “and I got to meet her IN PERSON afterwards!” The glitz, glitter and glamour of stardom had rubbed off just a little on a lesser mortal. Stardom flourished wherever Fans multiplied.

Somehow Born-Againers never quite repented of their proclivity to follow the Stars. And a cult of leadership idolatry arose and became utterly acceptable. The only ones who seemed to notice with dismay were pastors who watched their own dethroning as their sheep flocked to the new ministry experts. Stardom took over the lucrative job of herding the sheep/fans.

There was money to be had in Stardom. Sacred Cows are Cash Cows. The Stars thrived on publicity. They published books, wrote articles, went on tours, ran the gamut of conference circuits, and addressed receptive audiences from behind the fancy new plastic podiums in rising megachurches. Some Star Performers launched their own media outlets, and others formed mega-ministries. Their name became their brand name. Evangelical show business became big business.

The parachurch ministries, which had previously lurked in the background as small mission-minded groups, mushroomed into the mainstream. A plethora of parachurch organizations arose to meet every possible sociological, psychological, economic or theological need. Each parachurch group featured its own Superstars – rank Showmen who marketed their niche product to the pan-evangelical church at-large. Some were Snake Oil Salesmen touting their wares, deceptive and deceitful.

Meanwhile, “felt needs,” a desire-driven psychology, was the profitable fuel feeding the new Priesthood. “What he said made me feel so good; it felt so right,” was the popular refrain. Formulaic methods of crowd arousal were mixed with exuberant sessions of emotional catharsis, creating a sensation of hyper-spirituality. A Star had to know how to make people feel happy.

Other Stars were propped up as the Scholarly Elite – the psycho-spiritual Experts, the business Gurus, and/or the mystical Change Agents. Sometimes, as in the case of Leonard Sweet, one man exemplified all three! Churches were Big Business after all, especially the megachurches. Consultants were needed to enhance ministry performance and profits. These purpose-enhanced, self-esteem-driven programs were based on secular management systems and tightly controlled standards. Big Box church leaders were trained to herd sheep into caged programs with pre-determined outcomes. Stifling. Sucking the life out of the sheep in order to obtain pseudo-spiritual results.

Leadership Network, aptly named, trained an entire generation of evangelical leaders in the mechanics of sales and service à la Peter Drucker. Marketing dynamics became an essential component of the new evangelical methodology, replacing genuine conversion with a bell curve to shift the paradigm. Note: Laggards could never become Leaders. Only those willing to push the envelope of transformational change need apply for Stardom. Thus, a new fad-driven culture emerged in which the latest craze dominated the evangelical media outlets. Conferences and organizations proliferated under every agenda-propelled Star. Fads for Fans!

The Image-driven Pastor became the mark of new leadership. An emerging pastor must become an Icon – the next Evangelical Idol. Slick Superstars were stage-managed, and careers were launched by Leadership Network, which specializes in guruship training via indoctrination in change theory. New-style “hip” churches were invented, attractional theologies were concocted, and carefully hand-selected Celebrities were placed on blazing career paths to head up the Emergent movement. A “hip” image-conscious counterculture was expected to push the boundaries of biblical orthodoxy into the New Age. Each new Leadership Network-fashioned Charmer developed his own brand name. “Image is everything.” Iconographic leadership.

Being at the top got chummy. Leaders endorsed other leaders. The Cult of Leadership became self-promoting and self-perpetuating. Backscratching Stars scored brownie points with other like-minded Stars. There was room at the Pinnacle of Success for more Spiritual Elites. The basic ground rule at the top was simple: “Only Endorse, Never Question.” The escape hatch, in case an associated Venerable Star fell off the deep end or became controversial, was also simple: “Deny Association If Expedient.”

Servant-Leaders promulgated the myth of humility and asceticism. These were the new worldly Monks who enjoyed monetary success while chanting medieval mantras, publishing rambling books, and contemplating their rising spiritual acumen. It wasn’t enough to have worshippers and admirers. Plans grew more grandiose. They would charm the socks off of peons in the pews by jumping on the stewardship bandwagon to change the planet. Social justice, eradicating poverty and global transformation – how hip! The “missional” church would become Planetary Stewards. Stardom for Stewards!

Smoke and mirrors characterized a certain segment of the leadership phenomenon. These men, naming it and claiming it, rose to fame and power by hype and extravaganza. Money, travel, influence, popularity, and extreme materialistic prosperity characterized a new breed of Braggadocios who thrived on incessant publicity and multiplying flocks of admirers. The more money promised, the more faithful followers to be had. Become rich by sending $uperpastor $tatus your dollars. Gold dust might even fall on your head!

The New Apostolics traveled with their own band of self-appointed Prophets – Celestial Cheerleaders who gave them the extra-spiritual endorsement of exaltation. More than elites, these Apostolic Stars brazenly proclaimed their Superiority over not just mankind but even Heaven itself! Their aim would be Divine Dominion, and to enforce it they organized their followers into downline networking schemes that promised prosperity and passion, even godhood. They built their empire on the elite Gnosticism of secret spiritual messages that only their own self-anointed Mucky-Mucks could decode. Their pedestals would become Mountains where they claim they will reign. King of the mountain. With the downline sheep under their feet. Tithe upline and the man at the top becomes the Doyen of Dollars. A powerful and prosperous Stardom indeed.

Surreptitious Sheep-Mongering

How did this tabloidesque culture of the Stars emerge so easily in evangelicaldom? These Superior Superstars owe it all to training the Superstitious Sheep. Fawning Followers, captivated, bow down at their platforms. Time and again the malleable sheep will follow ostentatious or pretentious Shepherds, no matter how far off the narrow way they journey. Fallen Shepherd? Hey! An occasion for even more publicity! The “Touch not God’s anointed” mantra guarantees that meek sheep won’t question the deceptive path. The Revered Stars are above questioning. They are Sacred Cows, after all.[3]

Spiritual starvation tactics work well. Hungry sheep will follow Snakes into the pit, hoping a bit of the Charm of their Stardom will rub off. “Benny Hinn laid hands on me!” my friend exclaimed in awe, after he followed Hinn around the country seeking a cure for his cancer. Clever magician tricks on a spectacular stage entranced him into believing that Hinn – not Jesus – would meet his needs. “But the crowds!” he explained when pressed. “They stretched around the building for blocks!” That made it right. If plenty of sheep/fans follow the leader, then Stardom must be okay. Meek sheep don’t dare question the popular fads of rising Stars unless they want to get a terrible backlash. Some churches will show them to the door.

Bread and Circus – the ancient Roman means of keeping the crowds controlled by superficial entertainment and fleshly delights. The Hallowed MegaStars have fully equipped entourages. They hold huge stadium events with phenomenal lighting, hypnotic loud music and an immense presence enhanced by sophisticated stage mechanics. The effect is awesome. Pizzazz. And it is all peer-driven. Sheep follow the sheep, too. Who would want to be associated with the humble Gospel message in a tiny church with cold wooden pews? Why bother with Pastor Nobody in Nowheresville? The popular hip crowd is going BIG. Follow the crowd! Hang out with Big-name leaders in Big-domed stadiums with giant screens, colored lights, throbbing drumbeats, intoxicating messages. And while the fans are whipped up into frenzy, the new doctrines are introduced. Slick. Subtle. Serpent-like.

The new gospel is M & M – Missional and Misanthropic. It is all about the Leaders, don’t you know?! Compassion? It is manufactured, too. Ignore the “least of these” unless the Superstar can profit from the act of associating with them to appear humbly “missional.” Stand for a photo op with a poor person in Africa – it works! Everyone falls for it time and again! But Stardom is not really about substance. It is all about supercharged numbers, rabid followers, riotous pop culture, lots of moolah and being edgy.

Sacrosanct Cows specialize in keeping their sheep ensnared in saccharine. Craving a nutritional word? The Star-crazed diet is a meager menu of sugar-coated pap. The same biblical vocabulary is there, but yummy new words are added to the mix. Digest the Divine Drivel – it is a pre-packaged deal. Fast food drive-thru religion. For example, here is what is important to Superstar Pastor Wannabes: 
  • How do you deal with an elder board that is out of control? 
  • You've got a cocky and arrogant staff member. Or a guy or gal who is incompetent or untrustworthy. Maybe you hired a real jerk. Making staff changes in the church is really tough... in fact "freeing someone's future" is one of the hardest, yet most needed things we need to do…. 
  • You’re in over your head, and the options are not pretty. You’re overstaffed. You’re under budget. And your people are smelling it. 
  • The local newspaper just wrote an article about your church that is disparaging, or worse yet, totally untrue. Or a disgruntled church member has started a blog about you and your church…. How should you deal with a PR nightmare? 
  • These topics include things like pastoral obesity, muslim relations, security issues in the church, cohabitating seniors, and truth-stretching.[4] 

Speaking of “truth-stretching,” Sacred Cows specialize in it.[5] Their version of the gospel is about Kingdom and Culture, not Christ and the Cross. These Divine Denizens have now reached far beyond the Local Church. They need an expanded arena of operations. First they set up branch churches in other locales. Not church planting – but babies still on the umbilical cord of the mother church via upline tithing and sterile pre-canned teaching. Profitable indeed!

Next, these Pied Piper Pastors play a new tune. They must wield power over more than just their church-based sheep. It’s easy! Simply redefine “Sheep” to mean "Culture." Big Bad Culture, after all, needs changing and conquering. It must become Sacred so a Star can reign over it – especially via sophisticated community transformation methodologies. Stars have Utopian dreams. Sheep are the slave laborers.

Certain Superstars are now advocating opening up their flock to universal salvation – a clever trick that especially increases their numbers and popularity. Thus making it all the easier to fuse Church with the Culture. The two shall become one. No more nasty separation. A large pedestal must be built for any Superstar who achieves this death-defying feat!

Sacred Leaders are a temperamental puffed up lot, you know. They require faint-hearted Sheeple to think more highly of them, preferring them. They believe that the humble should not be exalted, especially if it threatens their own popularity. And any sheep with discernment should be treated as “offscouring.” They invoke one spirit, but believe only the Elite have many gifts. “Let all men glory in Leaders” is their slogan, contrary to I Cor. 3:21. Puffed-up Priests, all of them.

And the sad fact is, despite all of this, the sheep continue their faddish worship of these Sacred Cows and Stars.

The Truth: 

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.(Jeremiah 50:6) 

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:21-25. bold added) 

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.(Galatians 6:3) 

1. The image of the sacred cow is from this webpage. 
2. Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. III (Hendrickson), p. 794, commenting on 2 Timothy 2:16-17. 
3. Sacred Cow: “A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.” 
4. Advertisement for The NINES, by Leadership Network, e-mailed October 2, 2012, See also: and 
5. Related reading: "Purpose-Driven Cows & DNA," 

Note that much of the subject matter in this post is covered in a multitude of previous Herescope posts spanning 2005 to the present -- posts which have exhaustive documentation on these topics. Written by Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group, who many years ago wrote a similarly titled and styled article: “Big Bad Cows and Cars: Green Utopianism & Environmental Outcomes,” published as Appendix XXVII (27) in the deliberate dumbing down of america by Charlotte Iserbyt (Conscience Press, 1999), pp. A-167 thru A-176, posted online at: