Problems With Promise Keepers
Copyright (C) 1997/2003
By Phil Scovell
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction of the following is granted by the copyright holder,
Phil Scovell, if such reproduction is done in the spirit in which
it was given. It may not be reproduced and sold for financial
gain without written permission of the copyright holder: Phil
Scovell. Electronic formats may be distributed freely but this
copyright notice must remain with each copy and the text cannot
be altered in any way. For convenience, this copyright
notification may be placed at the end of the document if
840 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80226-8017
Toll Free: 888-936-0001
PROBLEMS WITH PROMISE KEEPERS
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,
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
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
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
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.
End Of Document
Go To HOME: The Zeneith Tube Website: RedWhiteAndBlue.org