By Elizabeth Prata
Seven years ago I wrote a series on the IF Gathering. (2014). Four years ago I did an update. (2017)
The organization reports that in 2021, there were 6,648 IF:Local events in 66 countries. Becuase this para-church organization is still growing so much, it’s time for another reminder in discerning love and care for women everywhere, to avoid IF:Gathering.
The IF:Gathering and its women 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. After 8 years of watching this organization (since its inception in 2013) we can see by now that it is essentially a female takeover of the church as a feminist, para-church/social justice/liberal organization, where women are drawn out from under their pastoral authority of the local church, fed false notions about Jesus and about our own identity, and reinserted as thorns and weeds to infect the local church with these modernly false ideas, only to turn around and recruit more women to do the same. It’s a multiplying movement that fulfills several scriptures about how false doctrine gets into the church.
|Source and video below.|
PROBLEM #1: Their premise is based on doubt.
The title “IF:Gathering” comes from their motto, “If God is real, then what?” The purpose statement on their IRS forms is to equip women by having them share their feelings about Bible passages posted online, and the by-product is to instill or institutionalize doubt. Their IRS tax form statement of purpose states:
If:Lead: equipping women to share and learn through Christ-centered discussions
IF:Austin: a two-day gathering that brought thousands of women together in Austin and at local gatherings across the globe. The gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: if God is real… then what?
If:Equip: a holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online.
PROBLEM #2: It’s based on feelings we have, not on biblical truths revealing who Jesus is
Did you notice the ‘like-hearted‘ community? The Christian faith is not about feelings, but about what we know about Jesus. It’s supposed to be like-minded. This is an organization that calls their homes ‘spaces’, their local communities ‘contexts’, and their goal is to ‘change the world’. Its mission is to wrestle with the notion IF God is real. Using this amorphous, non-specific language helps cultivate the doubt, which is the opposite of the certainty we are supposed to preserve and promote as believers. We’re believers, not doubters. It’s Good News, not Maybe News.
The ‘gathering’ part is actually brilliant. They aim to disciple women in gatherings at homes, dorms, and other locales, sometimes churches. It’s not public, nor it is under the authority of local churches or of men. Participants know where to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. It’s why this is a stealth approach to infect the church. Galatians 2:4 and 2 Peter 2:1 said this would happen. Yet discipleship is supposed to take place within and around the local church.
PROBLEM #3: Secretiveness
There aren’t any posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets that one can see. They don’t normally make known who will be speaking at the annual large Gathering ahead of time. That’s allegedly so that people don’t come for the personalities but for the fellowship and learning. But would you want to spend time and money to go to a conference without being able to vet the speakers? Or your own pastor helping you vet the speakers?
Instead, there’s texts, social media whispers, person-to-person promotion, all of it done in a way that is more subterranean than any other generation’s Christian activity (apart from the actual persecuted church.)
IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. There are A LOT OF GATHERINGS. Look. This map is four 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 and is based on curricula that has shaky scripture interpretations at best.
PROBLEM #4: Founded on direct revelation
The gatherings were born from the mind of a young woman named Jennie Allen. At the first Gathering, she revealed that she had heard God whisper to her, and after a few years 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.”
“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).
So they abandoned their local ministries to go online for the good of the global church? Exactly wrong. Here is Jennie Allen claiming direct revelation from God as the catalyst for IF.
Video is here, 2 min
PROBLEM #5: Draws women away from local churches, the place where we’re supposed to disciple
They abandoned their ongoing locally accountable ministries, to follow a young woman who’d heard a whisper, in order to establish Bible studies about a God they doubted existed, in order to equip women to discuss feelings about the Bible, enact social justice, reconcile the world, heal the nations, and disciple a generation. Hmmm. I’m not being satirical. All that verbiage is from their own statements.
PROBLEM #6: Feminist oriented
The constant refrain in the IF material is that these women will “change the world” (source, 2022 promotion). This is why I call it a stealth feminist takeover. I’m not being hyperbolic, it’s actual, from their own vision statement
I wonder how it works to be submitted to a local church, yet to draw away women from other churches to come to your house to discus your feelings about direct revelation, extra biblical Jesus while then returning to church to ‘take initiative.’
Conclusion- Concerns with IF:Gathering are:
Founded on Direct Revelation: Founder Jennie Allen said she heard a whisper from God telling her to start a discipleship group. (source, also see above). Direct revelation is hazardous to one’s soul. If you test a direct, audible command from God against the Bible and it’s there, you do not need the audible command. If it is not there, it’s a lie and you don’t need it anyway.
Doubting God: The premise itself is based on study of a God that those who gather 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 and severe emphasis on women-led initiatives: Jennie’s husband Zac says he provides theological oversight, but he is listed as working only 10 hours per week at the 501(c) 3 non-profit, and the only other male on the Governing Board is David Willis for 2 hours per week. The 40-hour/weeks are put in by Jennie and Lisa Huntsberry. It’s Jennie’s baby, she is listed as Principal Officer on the tax forms. It’s led by Lisa Huntsberry who’s listed as CEO. The fact is, it operates as a woman-led, para-church organization with little male accountability or pastoral oversight.
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? Unleash movements? These women are mothers. With children at home. The Bible tells us what we are to do: raise the kids, support the husband. Did even Jesus come to promote healing around the world? And just what IS “healing”, anyway?
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.
The ‘reconciliation’ the IF-ladies intend is the latter, promoting relational healing. Hence their emphasis on feelings and their activity of social justice.
Very good critique from Lighthouse Trails on IF:Gathering. Please read. Emergent IF: Gathering Conference Coming to a Town Near You (Coming For Your Daughters and Granddaughters)!
Liberal-to-false teachers as partners and speakers. For example- Ann Voskamp. Does she even know how to use the English language anymore? Below is her 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 list of IF speakers for the recent gathering that concluded in March 2021 is posted but their talks are behind a paywall. Nevertheless, this list is only a quarter of the amount of listed speakers, and demonstrates immediately that the speakers are part of the problem with IF:Gathering leaders’ discernment. Francis Chan, Christine Caine are false teachers, Lauren Chandler and Lysa TerKeurst are heavily suspect, as well as severe concerns with Jackie Hill Perry and Jefferson Bethke (of the ‘Why I hate religion‘ author)
Rebekah Lyons (concern)
I hope any of this information helps you. IF gatherings are occurring every day in living rooms, dorms, (they are coming for your daughters-)
No town is too small, too rural, too citified or too sophisticated to host an IF:Table. The brand of Christianity the women promote is far from the Bible’s call to obedience for women, due to their emphasis on social causes, feminist living and usurping thrust of the IF:Movement, doubting God, and discussing their feelings. I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from any and all IF activities.
IF:Gathering says, IF God is real, then what?
Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Luke 4:3, Luke 4:9)
She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 1 (What They Say)
She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 4 (Women Teachers)