Three years ago I had an inquiry from a sister in the faith about the women of She Reads Truth and the IF:Gathering. In looking at these two organizations, which feature overlap of the ladies who participate in them, I discovered they adhere to a too-forward lifestyle, and teach an aberrant theology that’s unhealthy for women. A series resulted.
Three years later, 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.
Last week I received two additional, separate inquiries from women who sent me material showing why they were concerned over the IF:Gathering women. I decided to post about this para-church/social justice/liberal organization once again. I am adding new information.
|Source and more below.
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. I’m not joking. Here’s their IRS tax form statement of purpose: (click to enlarge)
Did you notice the ‘like-hearted‘ community? The faith is not about feelings, but about what we know about Jesus. Like-minded.
In any case, these women teach other women, 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 where to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. That’s why their embeddedness and vigorous activity is hidden from view and thus their danger is not readily seen. There aren’t posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets. etc. 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 activity.
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. 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.” She further wrote that she-
“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
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 the previous verbiage is from their own statements.
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 IF pastor’s packet: (speaking of the years 2013-2015)
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, 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 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 at the 501(c) 3 non-profit, 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 Lindsey Nobles who’s 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? 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? 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.
The ‘reconciliation’ the IF-ladies mean 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)!
Who is involved with IF?
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 I’m unfamiliar with several. I’ve used the links sent to me and also added links and statements from their own bios 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).
Ann Voskamp (concern, concern, concern, concern)
Lysa Terkeurst (concern, concern, concern, concern)
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 her husband.
Jennie Allen (concern, concern, concern, concern)
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)
Shauna Niequist: (Congratulated Jen Hatmaker for affirming homosexuality, other concerns)
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, Mary and the Proverbs 31 woman. 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. 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 due to their emphasis on social causes, feminist living (i.e, gallivanting off to Africa while the kids languish at home), doubting God, and discussing their feelings. I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from any and all IF activities.
IF God is real, then what? IF:Gathering
Hath God said? Satan, Genesis 3:3