The Masters of (Spiritual) War…and Wares

Former Southern Baptist President Bailey Smith once hatched a scheme called the “Soul-a-Month Ministry.”  Smith took stock of the total expenses of his ministry[1] and the number of salvations it was reporting and determined that it was spending $48 for every person it led to salvation.  Smith’s advertising pitch was a simple one; send his ministry $48 a month and you’ll be helping save one soul.  In effect, Smith had invented a soul-of-the-month club.  (Smith’s methods of recording salvations were as questionable as the wisdom as giving him $48 a month.)  This particular facet of his ministry is now defunct but Bailey Smith is still helping to pitch gospel sales schemes worthy of QVC and HSN.  Smith is a featured player at a ministry found by former Jerry Falwell, Sr. acolyte Jesse Connors, truelife.org.

President and CEO Connors looking presidential on his smart phone.

The President and CEO of truelife.org, Jesse Connors, looking very busy and presidential on his smart phone.

For $39 a month, a 70-member church can join truelife.org (larger churches have to pay more).  Membership benefits include (among others) being listed on the truelife.org church directory,[2] a comprehensive start-up kit (whatever that is), and even a truelife.org trademark license.[3]  According to its recent advertisements, which I received because I am “interested in promoting evangelism at my church,”[4] truelife.org can “double” my church’s size with its “proven strategy.”

true life plan

Apparently I doubling my church size involves paying truelife.org a monthly fee to receive some invitation cards and videos.  Using them, I can attract more people to my store church.  I can double my church’s size after just one sermon! Wow!  Double the size?  Just think if every church in the whole world would pay them $39 a month then the entire world would be saved in a matter of decades (that’s how math works, but maybe not the Holy Spirit).

Hard work not required, size doubled "after one sermon"

Hard work not required, size doubled “after one sermon”

That there is a huckster in Lynchburg is old news.  What is noteworthy is the number of prominent apologists, pastors and denominational personnel who are helping to push the salvation snake oil sales pitches of Connors and company.  The industrially incestuous bunch of promoters includes former Liberty University board member Johnny Hunt, Falwell’s son Jonathan, Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham, Southern Baptist seminary presidents Paige Patterson and Danny Akin, and apologist and author Josh McDowell.

hunt ham

Perhaps the most glowing endorsement of truelife.org comes from Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Hunt’s alma mater):

“TrueLife.org takes evangelism, discipleship, and local church growth to innovative new heights.”  

Not only is truelife.org “innovating,” it’s “groundbreaking” according to Pastor Jonathan Falwell:

“Truelife.org is a ground breaking evangelism and discpleship tool which creates a culture of invitation at your church”

The printing press, the Wright Brother’s plane, the Apple II, and truelife.org….ground breaking and innovative.  That’s some marketing pitch! It could be that there is a ground breaking and innovative tool is available for the low price of $39/month….or….it could be that the idea that worldly marketing schemes somehow work for making genuine converts is a scourge of both Christendom and capitalism.  I’ll go with the latter since I don’t think the Holy Spirit is going to be undersold by Bailey Smith and friends.  The old adage that there is a sucker born every minute rings tragically true.  What’s even more tragic is that the suckers appear to be in control of the purse strings of local churches and are willing to buy into truelife.org at the behest of men like Danny Akin, in whom they have unwisely placed their trust.  I don’t know what Akin, Hunt, and company were paid to promote this salacious scheme but as the old protest song says, “All the money you made will never by back your soul.”  One thing for certain is true, the worlds of the Lord Jesus Christ are clear.  He said, “I will build my church.”

[Contributed by Seth Dunn, host of The Christian Commute]

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

[1] When a professional evangelist refers to his “ministry” he is often not referring to his gospel-sharing pursuits but rather his nonprofit corporation to which you can write a check.  Often times, the “ministry” is named after the very person who convinces the lost person that he needs to get saved…himself.

[2] Remember in high school when this money-making scheme was called “Who’s Who”?

[3] Too bad Peter and Paul didn’t know about trademarks.

[4] I guess that means that I’m not interested in promoting evangelism at my church if I unsubscribe.

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@gsethdunn

Seth Dunn

Editor at Pulpit & Pen
Host of the Christian Commute Podcast
Member, Evangelical Theological Society
@gsethdunn

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