Tag Archive | jennie allen

IF:Gathering – updated review four years later

Four years ago I posted a few articles looking at and critiquing the women of She Reads Truth (SRT) and IF:Gathering.

This week a reader emailed a question to me. She wanted to know what I thought of the women of IF and SRT now, after four years had gone by. She asked mainly about She Reads Truth. I’ll update my thoughts on that movement on another day, but today I’m going to focus first on the IF:Gathering:

She asked great questions and valid ones, to be sure. I had thought about doing an update, and her question spurred me to do it. In God’s providence and timing, last week the two women of Sheologians, Summer White and Joy Temby, did a podcast reviewing IF:Gathering. Yay! I listened to it. I am including notes on their insights and review. My thoughts will follow.

As a side note, the Sheologians ladies (Summer White and Joy Temby) mentioned how difficult it is to do discernment ministry. Not that the Sheologians, or even I, focus solely on discernment. But whenever we feel called to write about a person, teaching, or movement in the discernment spheres, it is hard. It is hard on the soul to listen and hear such things said about our God or against our Jesus. It is hard to write negatively. It is hard to think of the people that will be hurt by the conclusions we come to. It’s hard – but it’s important. So we do it.

We don’t do it lightly. I pray, I do hours of research, of course consult the Bible, and I check in other discernment ministries, like I did with the Sheologians. I work hard to be accurate and fair, being biblical without compromise despite a certain person’s or movement’s popularity. That said, here is a synopsis of Sheologians’ PLUSES and PRAISES of IF:Gathering:

  • They said that the IF ladies produce a conference well, and they know a lot about organizing and using social media and the internet to get their message out.
  • They mentioned that the Huffington Post did an article about the women and their movement a few years ago, noting in the article the movement’s emphasis on social justice. Sheologians said that if even a secular publication notices a Christian movement, it’s something. I’ll make a few notes about the social justice and popularity below.
  • The Sheologians noted that the IF website and live gatherings are known for their beautiful long tables laden with flowers backlit by fairy lights, gifts, womanly takeaways, and Pinterest-perfect backgrounds and tablescapes. Summer White wondered, what is the IF:Gathering attracting people TO? If you stripped away all of this, would they still come? Is the movement focused solely on aesthetics? Summer said that Jennie Allen addressed this in her speech, downplaying the aesthetics part of their movement and was relieved because of Jennie’s assurances.
elegant-ladies-taking-tea-delphin-enjolras-

Note- Not an IF:Gathering, just a simulation of one*

  • The Sheologians praised the IF:Gathering emphasis on the local church as important, and liked that the IF ladies stated that biblically equipping women is their goal. Summer White said that in Jennie Allen’s speech, Allen said that it is the church that must grow. That if the IF:Gathering disappears, who cares as long as local church is strong. This was the right priority, they said.

Sheologians’ MINUSES and CONCERNS of IF:Gathering

  • Many minutes went by in Jennie Allen’s speech without scripture, no Gospel talk, no talk of sin. When sin was mentioned, it was framed as part of our ‘brokenness’ or just that the devil was after you.
  • When Allen did mention sin 20 minutes into the speech, she made joke about sin, undermining confession of sin and undermining local church by joking about not confessing sin to people you’re in an actual relationship with.
  • The Sheologian women noted that Jen Hatmaker and Sarah Bessey have spoken at the conference. Both these women are overtly and obviously heretical. This is a problem.
  • Too much of a focus on emotionalism at the conference. There was a wrackingly grief laden testimony from a women whose small child died. Sheologians agreed that faith through grief can help, but there seems to be an over-emphasis with IF ladies. Also, that is the extent of it, there is no scriptural digging. Lots of emotion but not a lot of Jesus. They noted that story time is only beneficial as long as it ultimately points to Jesus.
  • Women do not need more emotionalism, we get that in our daily life we need to be pulled away more than running to it.
  • Jennie Allen got the Trinity wrong in her 2014 book Restless. She wrote that the Holy Spirit is a form of Jesus Christ. He most definitely is not, Summer White said. He is the Third Person of the Trinity. He is God.
  • There’s a lot of ‘God told me’, which is another mixed message since they talk a lot about women being in the scriptures, so why the emphasis on God directly telling them things, Summer White mused.

Sheologians’ Conclusion

Ultimately the Sheologians noticed that the IF Ladies say one thing and do another. They say they want to promote the local body, but joke about confessing sin to people you actually worship with.

You can’t preach the importance of the local body when you’re going to remove the necessity of confessing sin to people you’re in a relationship with.

You can’t preach importance of local church when you invite speakers who also undermine that doctrine with their heresies and various declarations against the church.

They could not take the IF ladies’ stated commitment to the Bible seriously when they constantly speak of directly hearing from God.

MY THOUGHTS

My warning about the IF:Gathering remains the same as four years ago, if not more fervent. Imagine, a woman who writes a book misrepresenting the Trinity formed a movement that same year where they intend to equip other women. This cannot be.

Direct revelation, ergo, Bible not sufficient

Their continual stance IS direct revelation. Regarding direct revelation, Jennie Allen revealed at the first IF:Gathering how IF got started. The ladies’ penchant to say ‘God told me’ that Summer noticed is in actuality not just a millennial-youth casual phrase. It is based on something terribly unbiblical. Here are Founder Jennie Allen’s words, transcribed from a Youtube clip that is still up, link below:

For one second I want to give you a behind the scenes of where this all came from. About 7 years ago, a voice from the sky…[nervous laughter] which doesn’t often speak to me, but that day, there was this whisper. It was the middle of the night actually. It was ‘gather and equip your generation. … and for two days my bones hurt.

Doesn’t OFTEN speak to her?

Jennie went on to advise that

not all voices from the sky are God, FYI, but if it IS God he will give you what you need to accomplish what he spoke.

And this women who can’t figure out the Trinity can figure out which voice from the sky is God’s and which is the devil’s?

clip here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3FA_3gJ1oI&t=

If the clip disappears, let me know.

Margaret Feinberg was a speaker this year at IF:Gathering 2018, and is known for her book “God Whispers: Learning to Hear His Voice” and is a woman who even a liberal book reviewer called an evangelical mystic.

To me, this destroys any credibility the IF Ladies have in urging women to dive into scripture. Obviously for the IF women, it’s important to dive into scripture, as long as there isn’t a voice from the sky giving other orders or whispering into your ear. Then the Bible goes by the wayside.

Popular

HuffPo wrote of the movement back when it first started, piercing the notice of even that secular publication. I always go back to Luke 6:26 which I call the curse of popularity.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for according to these things their fathers used to treat the false prophets likewise.

Their first conference sold out in minutes. They were popular even at the start and are gathering even more steam as time goes on. This to me is suspicious, because of the verse. People don’t generally clamor in droves to a solidly Gospel Bible study, in fact, they reject it. Whenever something is instantly wildly popular, be suspicious.

Social Justice

The IF:Gathering is based on social justice, not a Gospel emphasis. They want to equip women with the biblical grounding SO THAT they can be ‘unleashed’ (whatever that means) to go out and promote “healing and reconciliation in the world.” The following is transcribed directly from their own words, an affirmation to the US Federal Government on their non-profit IRS returns,

To gather a new generation of women, equip them with the tools to know God more deeply and live out their purposes and unleash a movement to promote healing and reconciliation around the world.

2014 HuffPo article: ‘IF:Gathering’ Of Evangelical Women Focuses On Social Justice In Austin, Texas

This new wave of evangelical women is fueled by an ever-growing online culture of high-profile women bloggers and savvy social media types who have laid the groundwork for the new focus. [in Christianity of social justice]

While Christians are called to display kindness and charity to those less fortunate, and to meet saints’ needs, it is not our calling to rectify the sins of man globally. Social Justice is not the Gospel. Here is GotQuestions on Social Justice.

Emotionalism

Though we as women do feel things deeply, and it is our calling and privilege to nurture, we go overboard with the emotions sometimes. Emotional testimonies are not the Gospel.

The IF:Gathering IRS statement of purpose unfortunately includes an attitude of feelings regarding Bible verses rather than equipping women through teaching its intended meaning. Here is their statement of purpose transcribed. Links are below in the resources section.

“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.”

Associations

The Sheologians made mention of several speakers whom the IF ladies had invited to speak at their annual gathering that illustrated problematic associations. Associations are not by themselves an indicator of solidity in a teacher or program, but it is to be taken into consideration. The Bible strictly warns to stay away from those who promote heresy. Mark and avoid them, (Romans 16:17), shut the door and do not even let them into the house. (2 John 1:10).

False teachers corrupt the divine standard and pollute the word, drawing away the unwary and are out greedily to kill, steal, and destroy. Therefore coffee klatches, sympathetic conversations, and mild-mannered toleration is not the biblical method for dealing with them, and are unwise in the extreme to employ.

In its first IF:Gathering, the speakers included feminist heretic Sarah Bessey and Bible-rejecter and church hater Jen Hatmaker.

This year’s Gathering, which concludes tonight, includes

A list of 2018 participants is here in pdf form.

IF:Gathering’s Board of Directors for each of tax years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 consisted of Larry Cotton with his wife Diann also as a Director. Sadly from the NY Times last week we learn that Pastor Cotton, who led Austin Stone Community Church, was “placed … on leave last Friday while it investigates “his qualification for his current role of leadership.” This was due to Cotton’s alleged participation in the coverup of a 1998 allegation of sexual abuse by a youth against one of the other pastors working with Cotton at the time, Andy Savage. While the statute of limitations has run out and Savage will not be prosecuted, the fallout of the accusation includes investigation of Cotton into his possible part in the incident and alleged coverup, so he is relieved of ministerial duty. It will be interesting to see what the IF Ladies, especially Jennie Allen, who called both Larry and Diann mentors, will say or do, if anything.

Associations matter.

I believe enough credible and long-term information exists to illustrate that submitting to Bible studies generated by these women is not healthy for your spiritual life. That pursuing unleashing, global healing and reconciliation, and social justice is not the Gospel call to women for a long-term or even short term lifestyle. That these ladies are to be avoided. There are other women to learn from. My stance is that women do not have to learn from women. They can and should learn from men. But if you feel compelled to search for women to learn from, Bible studies or devotionals to obtain, here are a few choices. I also enjoy and take inspiration from  the older missionary stories, such as Gladys Aylward whose story is captured in A Little Woman or Elisabeth Elliot, or biographies of theologians’ wives such as Martin Luther’s wife Katherine Von Bora, or Susannah Spurgeon for example.

Ladies, please stay away from IF:Gatherings.
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Resources and Links

2014 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns, EIN 46-1978383

2015 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns

2015 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns (change of accounting period)

Mission&Vision Source of information about of non-profits and private foundations.
If Gathering > Financial Report
Financial Report If Gathering From 2013 To 2016
click to enlarge

The End Time on IF:Gathering 2014

Painting above is titled Elegant ladies taking tea by Delphin Enjolras, not an IF:Gathering

If:Gathering: more information, including video claiming direct revelation

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.

jennie1
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