Problems With Promise Keepers

                                          By

                                     Phil Scovell






                          Copyright (C) 1997/2003

                            By Phil Scovell

                          All Rights Reserved



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          Phil Scovell
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          Denver, Colorado  80226-8017
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                     PROBLEMS WITH PROMISE KEEPERS


                                          By

                                     Phil Scovell




               Is Promise Keepers a success?
               If  one considers the statistics, the famous guest speakers,
          the press  reports, the  testimonials of  returning pastors,  The
          growth of  a few thousand the first year  to perhaps a million in
          the last  meeting, one would  be crazy to  say otherwise.   Well,
          here goes.  
               Let me parenthetically state that  I'm not denying that good
          comes from Promise Keepers.   Any time Jesus Christ is magnified,
          the  Word of  God  is preached  courageously  and Christians  are
          challenged to  live Godly, there  will be favorable results.   I,
          however,  question the validity  of Promise Keepers  as something
          God ordained.
               One of the first meetings  Bill MCCartney held to  introduce
          Promise Keepers to the body of Christ was in a large local Denver
          area church.  I was there.  I came without any preconceived ideas
          and a desire to see for myself what Promise Keepers was about.  I
          went with my son and my brother-in-law.  My brother-in-law is not
          born again but had been invited and he came with his son.
               The  worship was  excellent and  was  like any  other church
          service  with which  a  Christian  would be  familiar.   I  began
          feeling uneasy,  however, within the  first five minutes  of Bill
          MCCartney's sermon.
               Let  me  stop  here to  state  that  I do  not  question the
          sincerity of Brother  McCartney nor do I doubt for  a moment that
          he is  anything  other than  what  he  claims publicly.    I  do,
          however, question  his motives for establishing  Promise Keepers.
          By that I mean, not that I doubt he wants  to reach men, not that
          I  doubt he wants  to give God  the glory,  not that I  doubt his
          faithfulness and dedication to Christ as the Lord of his life and
          not that  I question  the way  Promise Keepers  handles financial
          expenditures.  I have heard, on the other hand,  things about his
          Bible  doctrine which  concern  me.    Not having  discussed  his
          beliefs  with him  personally, I refrain  from comment here.    I
          will,  and do,  however, make  a  personal judgement  on his  own
          public statements  concerning the  birth of  the Promise  Keepers
          ministry,  their goals  and the  methods  by which  they will  be
          achieved.
               As  I  said,  I  immediately  became  concerned  about  Bill
          McCartney during the  first introductory meeting.   He started by
          telling a joke about his wife.  He said, jokingly,  his wife went
          to the doctor for an exam.   The doctor reported that her breasts
          were that  of a  twenty-year old woman.   Brother  McCartney then
          said he asked his wife what the doctor said about her "forty-year
          old butt."   Mrs. McCartney reportedly  replied, "He never  asked
          about you dear."  The laughter was horrendous.
               A couple  of weeks  later a pastor  friend of  mine attended
          another  of these  preliminary  Promise  Keeper  rallies.    This
          pastor,  knowing I  attended the  first meeting,  inquired of  my
          impressions.  I  expressed my concerns.   I asked him  if Brother
          McCartney   repeated   the   joke  about   his   wife's  doctor's
          appointment.  He said no but  had heard something about it.   Out
          of  respect  to  Mrs.  McCartney,   I  didn't  repeat  the  joke.
          Apparently  someone, if  not  Brother McCartney  himself, decided
          such a joke was perhaps inappropriate.  I never heard anyone ever
          say he told that joke again in any other Promise Keepers meeting.
          In fact, I never heard anyone  express any concern the first time
          the  joke was  told.  But  then it  was Bill McCartney,  The Bill
          McCartney; the  national champion  football coach,  who told  it.
          How could  it be wrong?   I wonder how  his wife would  have felt
          knowing her breasts were being  talked about in front of hundreds
          of "Christian"  men.  This is one Christian  man who won't give a
          dime to  someone who would  joke publicly or privately  about his
          wife's breasts even if he has won a championship.
               I  was  also   bothered  by  what  happened   after  Brother
          McCartney's  sermon  that  night.    A man  stood  up  and  began
          explaining all the  projected goals for Promise  Keepers over the
          next  few years.   Immediately thereafter, he  asked everyone for
          $25  to  enroll  for  the  first  of  the  July  Promise  Keepers
          conference.  So far;  so good.  Then  this man told us that  they
          would  take cash,  checks and  credit card  registrations on  the
          spot.  In  fact, they even provided money changers at tables just
          outside  the auditorium  for the  convenience  of making  correct
          change.   These  helpers also  would take  their credit  cards in
          order that  they could  register immediately if  they wished.   I
          don't know why, but the story of Jesus making a scourge of cords,
          overturning  the tables and  driving out the  money changers from
          the  temple, suddenly sprang to mind.   Somehow I had the feeling
          we might be investing in some kind of a Christian business rather
          than the house of God but maybe it was just me.
               Something else that greatly disturbed me  in that very first
          meeting  was the  lack of  an altar call  and the  invitation for
          salvation.  My brother-in-law sat in the same row with me and, as
          I  mentioned, is  not born  again.   It was  suggested that  many
          nonchristians  were in  fact  in attendance  that  night, yet  no
          public or  private invitation of  salvation was offered.   I know
          altar  calls  of some  sort  were extended  during  other Promise
          Keepers conferences but  none were given that first  night and no
          explanation of salvation  was offered by anyone  publicly at that
          first  meeting.   Money  was  solicited, of  course,  and even  a
          suggested  offering over  and  above  the  registration  fee  was
          encouraged  but  no   Gospel  invitation   was  ever   mentioned.
          Apparently it was just money Jesus needed.
               In that first meeting, Brother McCartney made mention of his
          heart's  desire to  reach men  for  Christ.   He mostly  focused,
          however, on Christian  men living Godly  lives and leading  their
          families for Jesus.   He did mention, fortunately, the  salvation
          of  souls  at least  once.    Unfortunately,  I have  heard  many
          testimonials of those attending subsequent Promise Keeper weekend
          rallies and  not once has anyone  rejoiced in the number  of lost
          souls coming to Christ during  the meetings.  I trust there  have
          been  some but  no  one  I've heard,  privately  or publicly,  as
          mentioned  it.   He also made  it clear  that he wanted  to bring
          denominations together via Promise Keepers.   The reason for  all
          of this, he stated,  was to have the ability to  make a political
          statement nationally to the country and more specifically, to the
          government.   His futuristic  vision for  Promise Keepers  was to
          reach hundreds of thousands of men, bringing them all together in
          unity, in order that others would see that Jesus Christ was Lord.
          He made  some statement to the effect that  if we had hundreds of
          thousands  of Christian men meeting annually in such conferences,
          perhaps  even millions  some  day,  that  others,  including  our
          government, would have to notice and listen to our voice.  Hence,
          a  influential voting block?   That's what it  sounded like to me
          and, I might add, to my unsaved brother-in-law.
               Finally  there  is  one  other   concern  I  had  about  the
          conception  of Promise  Keepers and  that is  the nature  of it's
          birth.  Brother McCartney stated that he and a  friend, I believe
          it was a  pastor, were driving to Pueblo,  Colorado for a meeting
          or  something.   He said  they were  rejoicing  over how  God had
          blessed Brother McCartney  in the past couple  of years; bringing
          him into  the "limelight"  nationally by  capturing the  national
          college football championship.  Brother McCartney stated that his
          friend suggested  that perhaps Bill should do something with this
          national attention and  that maybe God indeed wanted  to use this
          newly discovered fame for His glory.  As they worshipped the Lord
          and prayed together  on their way to Pueblo,  Promise Keepers was
          born.  At  least this is  the way it  was explained at the  first
          meeting but perhaps things have changed since.
               Let me comment personally on  these things I mentioned which
          concern me about Promise Keepers.
               1:   Jesus did not  die for para-church ministries;  He died
          for  the Church.   Promise  Keepers  is, at  best, a  para-church
          ministry.  Will God use it?  Of course.  God's Word never returns
          void.  It is more dependent, however, on how well organized it is
          and  how many pastors get  behind it rather  than the ministry of
          the Holy Spirit.  Does that make it God ordained?
               2:   I have personally  grown weary of the commercialization
          of  the Gospel  of Jesus  Christ.   Credit card  donations, money
          changers, financial hype, and 1-800 Christian order lines all get
          pretty old when it  comes to the ministry no matter  who does it.
          Additionally, all  the money going to support the Promise Keepers
          (the  last meeting cost $45 per person)  would be better spent on
          foreign missions,  street meetings  and out  reach ministries  of
          various kinds in  my opinion, but then I have no national fame in
          which to back up my statement.
               3:   Though I have heard that altar calls have been extended
          in subsequent  meetings, I  have yet to  hear the number  of lost
          souls who came  to know Jesus Christ as Lord  by anyone attending
          the conferences.   I trust there have  been some but then  again,
          the main focus  is getting men to  be the head of  their families
          and to walk Godly.   I thought, though, that's what  pastors were
          already doing  and have  been doing  for decades  but I could  be
          wrong.   I know my  pastor preaches  that message frequently.   I
          wouldn't go to a church that didn't.
               4:  Do you honestly thing Bill McCartney, or anyone else for
          that matter, could  get 50,000 men to come to a stadium any other
          way than to invite national  known Christian speakers to  address
          the attendees?  My point is this.  If it's the Holy Spirit  doing
          the  work,  nationally  known  "Christian  celebrities" won't  be
          needed to draw a crowd.
               5:  I  immediately become concerned  when someone says  they
          want to cross over denominational boundaries or when they want to
          bring denominations  together.  If  we were honest, we'd  have to
          admit  the  denominations are  already  half  the  problem  in  a
          spiritual renewal today.  Jesus didn't die for denominations.
               6:   Though I believe  Christians should vote and  speak out
          publicly concerning Christian issues, consider running for public
          office, and if necessary, be jailed or die for the Bible, I'm not
          too sure we  need a voting block  to force the hand  of Congress.
          What we need  is a revival among  Christians who will in  turn go
          out  and bring  people to Jesus  Christ.   At least this  was the
          instructions Jesus gave  His disciples.  As they  were fulfilling
          his great commission, He would empower them with the Holy Spirit.
          Without, I might add, putting it on their credit card.  
               7:  The history of the birth of Promise Keepers concerns me.
          Since when does  the Heavenly Father  call someone into  ministry
          because he's gained national fame.  Frankly, I've gotten a little
          tired  of  hearing  from  all  the  professional  million  dollar
          athletes,   coaches,   movie   stars,    radio   and   television
          personalities, Hollywood  actors and  actresses, jailbirds,  Miss
          America's, political leaders  and former criminals, who  have all
          come to Christ  and now  claim Jesus  as Lord but  keep right  on
          playing  on Sundays,  making movies,  socializing  with the  same
          ungodly  Hollywood crowds while  talking about how  much the Lord
          has changed their life.
               Whenever   I  have   made  these   statements   among  other
          Christians, most express great alarm.   After all, who would ever
          question  fame  and success!    There was  a  day  in our  church
          heritage  when those who had  burdens for others  and the call to
          ministry, left their jobs and  went full time into their calling.
          Those  days are  apparently gone  forever.   It is,  however, the
          church  for whom Christ died and it is there He will do His work.
          After all, Jesus said, "...upon this rock I will build my church;
          and the  gates of  hell shall not  prevail against  it."   (Matt.
          16:18).  I  long for the day when Christ is once again allowed to
          build His church without the help of Christian celebrities.
               Lighting   55,000  candles   in   a   darkened  stadium   is
          psychologically effective  and  emotionally  appealing  but  then
          Jesus  never needed any psychological pyrotechnics to reach those
          for whom He died.  His blood was enough.


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