By Elizabeth Prata
Three years ago I had an inquiry from a sister in the faith about the woman of She Reads Truth and the IF:Gathering. In looking at these two organizations, which feature overlap of the woman who founded and participate in them, I discovered they adhere to and teach an aberrant theology that is unhealthy for woman. A series resulted.
Three years later, the IF:Gathering and its woman have only embedded themselves deeper into the faith and are tainting even more women with their brand of liberal theology, shaky hermeneutics, usurping lifestyles, and their idol of social justice.
Last week I received two additional, separate inquiries from women who sent me material which showing why they were concerned. I decided to post about this para-church/social justice/liberal organization once again. I am adding new information.
The title “IF:Gathering comes from their premise, “If God is real, then what?” The statement on their IRS forms as to the purpose of the organization is to equip women by having them share their feelings about Bible passages posted online. I’m not joking. That statement is taken from their IRS tax form statement of purpose: (click to enlarge)
These women teach other woman, usually younger, based on a foundational question that doubts God’s existence. Their entire activity is one of simply hedging bets.
The gathering part is actually brilliant. They purport to disciple women in gatherings at homes and other locales, sometimes churches. They know to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. That’s why the embeddedness and vigorous activity is hidden from view. There aren’t posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets. etc. There’s texts, social media whispers, person-to-person promotion.
IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. There are A LOT OF GATHERINGS. Look. This map is three years old and their gatherings are only increasing in number:
The idea to disciple women is a good one. However, that is an activity that the church is responsible for. These gatherings take place outside of the auspices of the local church and its pastoral authority.
The gatherings were born from the mind of a young woman named Jennie Allen who heard God whisper to her, and then decided to step out from her church to enact this so-called God-whispered “vision to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out God’s calling on their lives. So Jennie, “together with a team of friends, formally established IF:Gathering. … Some of the first friends to believe in her vision put aside their own individual ministries to leverage their collective influence for the glory of God and the good of His Church.” (Source, source).
They left their churches and ongoing ministries to follow a young woman who’d heard a whisper and wanted to establish Bible studies to study a God they doubted existed in order to equip women to enact social justice, reconcile the world, heal the nations, and disciple a generation. Hmmm. I’m not being satirical. All the previous verbiage is from their own statements.
IF is a social-justice, parachurch organization. Women from different churches and from the local community meeting to study the Bible is a good thing, but the lack of oversight and the covert (social media) nature of it bespeaks problems from the start.
I live in a rural county in Georgia with a population of about 27,000 people spread through five towns in an area of over 286 square miles. My town itself is small, about 1,113 people, and it’s the largest town in the county. And this month there are not one, but two IF gatherings in my town. IF is everywhere, pastors, leaders, and ladies!
From the 2013 IF pastor’s packet:
In the first two years, our gatherings have reached more than a million women in 50 countries worldwide.
Rather than re-hash the information I’d first published three years ago, I’ll simply offer some new information. First I’ll list some bullet points of concern. Then I’ll post lists of speakers who are involved with IF. Lots of links throughout.
Basic concerns with IF:Gathering:
Founded on Direct Revelation: Founder Jennie Allen said she heard a whisper from God telling her to start a discipleship group. (source). Direct revelation is hazardous to one’s soul.
Doubting God: The premise itself is based on study of a God those gathered doubt exist. IF God is real? Doubt is not noble. The bible says doubt is a destroyer of life. (James 1:5-8).
Lack of male oversight and involvement: Jennie’s husband Zac says he provides theological oversight, but he is listed as working only 10 hours per week, and the only other males on the Governing Board are Larry Cotton, who is listed as working 1/hour week and Treasurer Jonathan Harper, who is also listed as a 1-hour a week. The 40-hour/weeks are put in by Jennie and Lindsey. It’s Jennie’s baby, she is listed as Principal Officer on the tax forms. It’s led by women, Lindsey Nobles is listed as CEO. In fact it operates as a para-church organization with little local accountability and pastoral oversight.
|IF:Gathering IRS tax return year ending 2015. Source Guidestar|
The IF:Gathering’s premise is flawed and so are its goals. Again, from their IRS form, it states that their goals are to foment a ‘global movement’ that ‘promotes healing around the world’. Is that what the Bible says women are to do? Instigate a movement for healing? Did Jesus even come to promote healing around the world? And just what IS “healing”, anyway? More on that just below.
Goals are postmodern and extra-biblical: As Tim Challies said, the words reconciliation and healing have a different meaning to the postmodernist liberal than they do to the Christian fundamentalist:
“…perverts the Biblical meaning of “reconciliation.” The Bible does not use this word arbitrarily, but speaks of the reconciliation of man to God and how this can be accomplished. It speaks of redemption! Salvation! Our ministry of reconciliation is not relational healing of myself to my neighbor (right and good as that may be), but the far more important relational healing of a sinful man to a holy God.
Ann Voskamp. Does she even know how to use the English language anymore? Below is a recent tweet. I thought teachers were supposed to be ‘able to teach’. (2 Timothy 2:24). Being able to teach presumes a facility with the language so as to communicate truths in a way that will edify the hearer. Voskamp’s gone beyond #babble all the way to to #Babel.
The remaining list of IF speakers and participants was sent to me by a concerned sister, which I appreciate. I am familiar with many of the women, and unfamiliar with several. I’ve used the links sent to me and also added links and statements from their own words where applicable. As always, do your diligence and research yourself.
Jenny Yang (self-described “visionary who works on behalf of refugees as the Vice President of Advocacy & Policy at World Relief.” AKA social justice).
Jeanne Stevens: self-described teacher who urges women to “take any opportunity to encourage people to live boldly from the fullest part of themselves”. Rather than die to self and live in the strength of the Spirit? Jeanne is also a Female Pastor -Co-Pastor of Soul City Church with Husband.
B. David Smith: (“B. David loves helping people cultivate their artistic potential and use their gifts, voice, and lifestyle to create God encounters”. What does that even mean?)
Tann Smith (Singer at Andy Stanley’s North Point Church. Need I say more.)
Angie Smith (“Her greatest passion is to make the Bible feel accessible and relevant”. Again with feeling the Bible and not studying/knowing/believing)
Roce Anog (“helps people who don’t speak the majority language to express their worship to God with the use of music, art, dance, storytelling, and food”. So she helps people learn about God through dancing and food? Nope. 1 Corinthians 8 has something to say about that.)
Amena Brown (poetess, which is cool. vision-caster, not cool. Friend to Louie Giglio and Passion conference. Uncool.)
Jo Saxton (Female Pastor. A director of yet another ‘movement’ whose goal is “to CHANGE the world by putting DISCIPLESHIP and MISSION back into the hands of everyday people.” Emphasis theirs. I guess ordinary people haven’t been living and dying for the Gospel these last 2000 years.
Keisha Polonio (helps leaders of Tampa’s microchurches)
Bianca Olthoff (author, Bible teacher)
Christy Nockels (singer)
Shelley Giglio (wife of Louie Giglio)
Esther Havens (photographer)
Lindsey Nobles (CEO & strategist of IF:Gathering)
Ellie Holcomb (singer)
Andrews Lage (singer)
Latasha Morrison (“justice fighter, a bridge builder and a champion of people. Through the work of her non-profit Be the Bridge, she is fostering healthy dialogue around the topic of race.” Just like Lydia, Esther, Proverbs 31 woman and Mary. Oh wait.)
Kate Merrick (writer)
Rebekah Lyons (wife of Gabe Lyons)
Vivian Mabuni (Campus Crusade for Christ worker)
Britt Merrick (pastor, surfer, founder of Reality Churches (multi-campus)
I hope any of this information helps you. IF gatherings are occurring every day in living rooms and lawns near you. The brand of Christianity they promote is far from the Bible’s and I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from it.