Rejected by FiveTwo: How I Failed My Sacramental Entrepreneur Aptitude Test – Guest Article by Vanessa

Rejected by FiveTwo: How I Failed My Sacramental Entrepreneur Aptitude Test

Rejected by FiveTwo

The first time I heard the title “sacramental entrepreneur” I’m pretty sure my brow furrowed with confusion. I know what a Sacrament is. I know what an entrepreneur is. Most of us can get that far on our own, but putting them together makes little sense. Do some googling and you’ll see it comes from the FiveTwo ministry.

Why Is Everyone Talking About FiveTwo?

Now, a lot has been written on them lately, after their Wiki14 conference – the first time they decided to grace social media with a deluge of their material – brought them and their mission to people’s attention. If you want a crash course on this organization, I highly recommend reading Jon Rodebraugh’s latest piece here. He does a great job of laying out the basics and pointing you to some of FiveTwo’s own words worth taking note of. So go read it. Really. It opens in a new window, so I’ll still be here waiting when you finish.

One of the posts he links to notes the following 7 marks of being a sacramental entrepreneur:

1. I’m burdened for Jesus’ lost people. Very simply, I love them; I want to reach them; I think the Church should reach them; and frankly, I enjoy being with them, oftentimes more so than being with followers of Jesus. They’re refreshing. I want them in heaven.
2. I’m tired of the status quo. I am frustrated by problems that go unresolved and practices that need reforming. Today is the day to start moving the ball down the field.
3. I see “beyond” today. I can see what the future would be like if we move beyond today’s changeable reality. And while that future might move through pain, it is full of hope.
4. I multiply growth. More people, more groups, more impact, more cities, more whatever. Somehow when God has me touch things, they increase. Especially disciples.
5. I see obstacles as opportunities. Change is a resource. Rules are made to be rewritten. Not God’s rules, but man’s rules, of which there are an abundance.
6. I attract like-minded, new-start people. People tend to say “yes” to my invitations to follow, and we tend to have a good amount of unanimity in the journey.
7. I start things without anyone telling me I should. I’m talking clubs, ministries, groups, businesses…. Everywhere I go, I’m the guy or gal that launches new initiatives. It just seems natural. This characteristic is probably the most telling of your SE-ness. And if this is really strong in you, years later those initiatives are still happening.

Now, I’ve spent the last month or more making phone calls, contacting fellow laity, and using social media to try and bring this to the attention of, well, everyone. You see, this organization is putting out some dangerous teaching. Dangerous, because first and foremost it’s confusing, and second it appears to directly conflict with the Lutheran confessions.

Why does this matter? Well, first, when salvation is at stake, we should never be confusing. Law & Gospel. Clearly preached. If there’s ever any confusion, we should be quick to set it right with the help of Scripture. Secondly, though, this organization was co-founded by a called LC-MS pastor, Pastor Bill Woolsey, and has the support of a number of other LC-MS pastors, including district presidents. (For more info on that, I recommend reading Tim Wood’s pieces, here and here). Sure, FiveTwo isn’t an officially sanctioned LC-MS ministry or organization, but it is listed on the Texas District’s website (which also happens to link to LINC-Houston, run by the FiveTwo Vice President, Mark Junkans, who gave us this delightful little video making a mockery of the Lord’s Supper), and with an LC-MS pastor as the head honcho (and vice-honcho), well, you’d like to think they were bound to our confessions as found in the Book of Concord, at least somewhat.

To put it plainly, there are some troubling points of conflict between their message and our confessions, and some of our Lutheran clergy have sought to get FiveTwo and Pr. Woolsey to address these concerns.

FiveTwo on Facebook

Last week I discovered that several of these clergy had been heavily moderated by the FiveTwo facebook page. And by “heavily moderated”, I mean, every comment they had written on the page had been deleted, and they were banned from leaving any future comments. These pastors certainly weren’t tiptoeing through the tulips, and I’m thankful for that. Where the salvation of souls is at stake, the last thing we should be doing is prancing around as if this is a mere disagreement over whether the potluck should start at noon or at 1pm. I had, up until that point, ignored the FiveTwo facebook page, but once I perused it a bit, I realized just how confusing some of the material was.

Many of the posts were feel-good platitudes, happy words or out-of-context quotes slapped on a pretty picture. My favorite. Not so much, actually. Now, had this been any other ministry – say, an evangelical group or what-have-you – I would have just clicked away and perhaps hidden them from ever showing up on my feed. But, this isn’t another denomination. While the Lutheran ties aren’t obvious, they’re there, and I simply couldn’t sit back and ignore these church-growth, seeker-driven, works-based messages being possibly confused for Lutheran confessions.

So, I started posting. I asked questions. Like these…

FiveTwo Answered Question 1 Five Two Answered Comment FiveTwo Answered Question 2 FiveTwo Answered Question 3

And they responded. (Note: you can see their responses to me on their FB page)

I asked more questions. Like these…

FiveTwo Question Ignored 1FiveTwo Question Ignored 3FiveTwo Comment Ignored 1

And they were ignored.

And then the surprising happened. A message popped up from Pr. Woolsey himself. Now, as far as I knew no one had been able to get a hold of him, and he had never personally or directly responded to any of the questions. Why he contacted me, I’m not sure. But we spoke via Facebook message a few times. He ignored some questions. Answered others. Not to my satisfaction, but he at least answered, I suppose.

Our conversation made me a bit more brazen in my comments. I began commenting a bit stronger messages, like this one:

FiveTwo Final Comment

And tougher questions, like these:

FiveTwo Final Questions

I had his and the organization’s attention, after all, and I was hungry not only for answers, but to hopefully help others understand how some of the posts on the page were confusing to the point that they could mislead folks away from Christ. Apparently I was too hungry for answers and pushed too hard.

The next morning I woke up to a message from a friend “Are you banned?” I quickly went to the page, and sure enough, every one of my questions and comments had been deleted, and I no longer had access to comment on the page. I could like them, could see and share all their content, but my voice was not welcome or allowed.

That rejection confirmed my suspicions — there is an unlisted 8th mark, and I had failed my sacramental entrepreneur aptitude test.

To be a sacramental entrepreneur, you must not question or doubt the message preached to you by the leaders, but simply fall in line, obey and take their word for it when they assure you they’re not heretics. (Because, we all know heretics always proudly wear that label. Oh wait, they don’t?) And here I had dared to question their authority. I questioned the scriptural basis of their words and message. I questioned them. And like any good fascist organization, they will not tolerate being questioned.

Note: Since my attempted silencing and banning by the FiveTwo Facebook moderators, several others have endured the same fate, their words scrubbed, their voices banned. Oddly enough, you can still see FiveTwo’s responses to our deleted comments, as seen here:

Our Synod’s Response

If you’re curious to know what the LC-MS has to say about all of this, well, it sounds a lot like crickets chirping. I spoke to someone at the synod office, and left with the overwhelming feeling that we — the concerned clergy and laity — were mostly on our own and that synod leadership hoped to simply ride this out and let it die down like any other good controversy. After all, bureaucratic organizations are made up of elected officials, and we all know politicians don’t get elected by pissing people off. I understand that, to a point, but I think they underestimate that by doing nothing they are, in fact, pissing people off.

Now, I haven’t been an LC-MS Lutheran for very long. Not even two years now. But it doesn’t — or, rather, it shouldn’t — take a genius to realize what makes us Lutheran is not simply slapping that label on ourselves, but adhering and accepting our Lutheran confessions. Yet, it seems that some in our synod have forgotten that “concord” — that not-so-fancy word for “unity” — is built upon the sharing of these beliefs and confessions, not on our willingness and ability to hold hands, fake a smile, and turn a blind eye when a fellow Lutheran preaches something out of sync with those confessions.

The LC-MS supposedly lives by the phrases: Witness, Mercy, Life Together.

These phrases — Witness, Mercy, Life Together — illustrate how the church lives and works together to proclaim the Gospel and to provide for our brothers and sisters in Christ in our congregations, communities and throughout the world. And in all we do, Christ is at the center, leading us, sustaining us, keeping us focused on our mission. This will never change.

FiveTwo, though, is quite blatantly shoving Christ away from the center and telling everyone that it is us – you and me – who are the sacraments, the means by which people receive salvation in Christ. Jesus is still there, but now he’s shoved in between the lines of the “look at me, look at me” message. And yet the LC-MS, which claims “Christ is at the center” and “This will never change”, has decided it can change, and when it does it’s best not to make a fuss over it. Because we can’t let there be any indication that we are not “working together”, even if that together-ness is nothing but a ruse.

If our synod leadership doesn’t step up and address this soon, they might want to reconsider changing our slogan. May I suggest: “LC-MS — our doctrinal welcome mat is clean, because we sweep all the dirt under the rug.”

What Can We Do?

Whether you’re clergy or laity, get off your duff. Seriously. Don’t just look at this situation and decide “oh, that’s too big for little old me” or “meh, I’m just over here in my small congregation in the middle of nowhere and this isn’t my problem”. We shouldn’t be so willing to let heterodoxy or heresy infiltrate our church bodies. We have fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have found refuge in our Lutheran churches after years of being broken by false teachers. They see what is happening, and they recognize it, because they’ve seen these same messages, movements and ministries affect their past churches. Souls are at stake, quite literally. False teaching is harmful. Heterodoxy is damaging. We don’t need to accept this as “just how it is now”, and we shouldn’t accept this as “someone else’s fight”.

Writing letters. Sending emails. Leaving comments on social media. These are great things to do, but as we’ve seen these can be ignored, deleted and even blocked from happening. Making phone calls is better — harder, I know, I hate calling people on the phone, but also harder to be dismissed and ignored. Beyond that, talk to others in the synod – laity and clergy alike. Build awareness about this situation. Rally. Brush up on our confessions, know what we believe and why. Ask questions. And above all, pray.

We have many obstacles before us here, but we have an opportunity to fight this and push back and protect our confessions and our synod from being overrun, distorted, and mangled.

Wait… obstacles… opportunity. That sounds familiar… Am I a sacramental entrepreneur after all?


Comments

Rejected by FiveTwo: How I Failed My Sacramental Entrepreneur Aptitude Test – Guest Article by Vanessa — 28 Comments

  1. It appears that our LCMS laity is out ahead of the clergy. Please don’t be offended, BJS-friendly pastors–this is not directed at you. But Vanessa has done (and is doing) a first-class job of exposing this business. I had not viewed the Junkans video of the Lord’s Supper. I’m not sure I would characterize it as “mocking,” however. He simply devalues Holy Communion, and by so doing, he is, in effect, casting pearls before swine. I guess I’d call it “junking” the Sacrament (pun intended). I’ll have more to say later, but I want to thank you Vanessa, for your hard work and your faithfulness.

    Ya done good!

    Joe

  2. Thanks Joe. The use of “mocking” is meant as in he’s making a “mockery” of the Lord’s Supper, and as you said, devalues it in doing so. I’ve never claimed to be great with verbiage – after all, I’m an engineer by trade and writer on the side.

  3. @Vanessa #2
    OK, I get it. No need to apologize for your verbiage, adverbiage, or nouniage, either. We engineers and writers gotta stick together.

    Have you had a “go” at one of Crosspoint’s (no “e”) sermons yet?

    I just visited the above-linked Facebook page. I’m not a “facebooker,” so it took me awhile to figure things out. I see lots of comments, many of which are at least mildly critical or skeptical of 5/2, and many of which are complimentary. It appears that 5/2 has a response folder full of canned platitudes and quotes, and they just copy and paste from it. After reading about half-dozen of them, I had to escape. Sheesh!

  4. Thanks Vanessa! The Junkans take on Holy Communion is pure “JUNK!” I do believe he is making a mockery of the Supper. Shocking and disturbing to say the least.
    I would add a couple of more ways to help fight, if I may – support those organizations who are on the front lines. Join ACELC, etc. Support them, Issues, Etc., BJS, and others with your prayers, time, talents, and treasures. Some are not good at discussing issues verbally. I, for one, do not do well because my emotions tend to come through in my conversation. But I can do for others who are better adept at this. I can pray, send donations, and volunteer my time to serve where I am needed. I really appreciate you throwing your communication talents into this. God gives us all gifts for the Kingdom.

  5. What a great post! I burst out laughing when you reprised the title in the middle of the post and again at the concluding line

    You are not a failure. You are doing and encouraging others to do what Walther says in Church and Ministry – “At the risk of losing your salvation, flee all false teachers and heterodox churches.”

    Thank you for a great post.

  6. @Vanessa #2
    Thanks Vanessa. I called and left a message at the desk of someone in the Office of the President. I asked that President Harrison comment on the Five/Two problem and expressed my frustration with this heterodox group. Living in a very church growth-type district, I am simply appalled by the inability of the LCMS to address these false teachings/teachers.

    Kyrie Eleison,
    Diane

  7. Vanessa,

    Nice job in every aspect. I emailed the synod and received this response:

    “Dear Randy,

    Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns about an LCMS pastor. We are so sorry to hear of concern. It’s important to know that our Synod is designed in such a way that matters such as these are handled through a church worker’s district office. Either of these two individuals in the district office – the circuit visitor or the district president – are the best place to receive help with your concerns about the pastor. Please click here to find district contact information.

    Thank you again for writing. May God richly bless your day.”

    It’s easy for them to disregard an email, and that’s exactly what they did. The problem, as Vanessa and others have stated, is that the TX DP is also a huge promoter of this heterodox movement. Harrison knows this. Therefore, the brush-off that we all get when attempting to deal with this, and other similar issues, is a crime. Yes, I said a crime.

    The truth is, the DRP is the LCMS’s “Golden Calf.” DPs, the Praesidium, and the SP himself have no issue collecting our treasure for their purposes. In fact, they’ve used those treasures to create a self-serving idolatrous system and process that promotes self-interest and personal status at the expense of God’s Word.

  8. Those are hard words but true Randy.

    I would add this. As far as I know, President Harrison and his team would support resolutions to address the current DRP to make it less self-serving.

  9. I don’t believe that this issue is with one pastor, but rather with an organization. Hence I don’t really see how the DRP applies.

  10. An overture to overturn the CCM ruling banning ecclesiastical supervision by the Synodical President of individual pastors and churches would be even more appropriate, in my opinion. It’s impossible for me to imagine Walther being bound not to talk to an individual pastor except through his DP, and there is a precedent otherwise from the 1970’s that the CCM did not take into account in their fairly recent ruling.

  11. Well done, Vanessa!!!!

    Good for you to call them on the carpet. I’m telling you, based on what I’ve seen on those seven marks, you could write a book on the problems with much in those statements.

    I still say somebody should go to them and boldly tell them that perhaps they would be at home in a non-denominational setting rather than a Lutheran one.

  12. @Carol Broome #9

    Carol,

    I agree that the issue is far bigger than FiveTwo and Woolsey. Woolsey’s heterodox teaching and practice is just one example of many errors within the LCMS. A common thread that I’ve witnessed with most issues of error within our synod is that the LCMS Leadership and heterodox church workers hide behind the DRP. Pastor Rossow made a great point regarding Matthew 18 on his most recent post. Matthew 18 is the first place they all run to, but they fail to carry the process out as directed in scripture. They fail to get to the point where the church is made aware of the error.

    Don’t get me wrong. The DRP isn’t the root of the problem, but it’s an idolatrous tool that syndocrats and heterodox teachers use daily to facilitate their own bottom line.

  13. If y’all haven’t joined the ACELC yet, I strongly recommend it. It is for pastors, congregations and laypersons. They have been addressing this issue for some time. The church can not grow the kingdom because that is not its purpose. The church is to call out of this world all of God’s elect. There is a big difference.

  14. @J. Dean #11
    Thanks, J. While I didn’t go into detail here regarding my private conversations with Pr. Woolsey, I will tell you I didn’t shy away from speaking my mind.

    As I said in one of my comments – quite possibly the one that caused me to be banned — the pastoral office is one that should require the person be open to answering questions, offering scriptural support for their words, and accepting correction if and when necessary. One who is not open to these should probably re-evaluate their vocation/calling. And I do believe I made that clear to him.

    Which also might be why I was banned…

  15. @Vanessa #15

    Once you made those comments he immediately removed your name from the Sacramental Entrepreneur Christmas Card List. No big deal though. I hear that the cards they’ll be sending out this year are those that play a song when you open them. You know the type. Well, apparently this year’s FiveTwo Christmas Cards play “Highway to Hell” when you open them.

    Apparently for them it’s a song rich in truth and purity of scripture. I don’t see it myself, but then again, I’ve been banned too.

  16. Oh, I get it. FiveTwo’s FB posts are created by a random word generator. Or a guy at a fortune cookie plant. Or a five-year-old.

    Great investigative work, Vanessa!

  17. @Carol Broome #10
    An overture to overturn the CCM ruling banning ecclesiastical supervision by the Synodical President of individual pastors and churches would be even more appropriate,…

    What I’d really like to see is an end to the CCM. Removing enough “by-laws” so that any layman can understand the constitution would be a good idea. In fact, a Reformation would be a great idea. This synod is too weighted down with things that get in the way of the Gospel.

    Now that communications are instantaneous, we don’t need District Presidents or their Empires.
    Ask yourself what they do for the average confessional Lutheran church!? They spend money sabotaging it in most districts I’ve heard from. Who needs this? The combined district office expenses would more than cover the tuition and expenses of seminarians and let them graduate free of debt.

  18. @helen #19
    Helen, what a wonderful idea! I honestly think we need to tear the whole thing down, have a Constitution burning, and start something new! How about selling the Purple Palace and using those proceeds for an endowment that will ensure future pastoral development? That is a cash cow!

  19. @LadyM #20
    How about selling the Purple Palace …

    I’d go for the districts first. Like LWML, they keep 3 quarters for every quarter they send to Synod and fund heterodox congregations and and retreats with heterodox leaders flown in.

    Meanwhile, [dismantling districts will happen when I can ice skate down here on Town Lake in July] confessionals should realize that when they obediently “give to district” they are not “giving to GOD.” Quite otherwise, in too many districts!

    We wonder why poor people would want to support Joel Osteen’s lifestyle…
    and then we pay for our own destruction by paying for “5/2”!!!

    I am not saying “Don’t give.” [I know a couple of congregations which do that, too.] Just try to find out what the money is used for, and how much goes to “overhead”, same as you would when the “combined fund drive” hits you at work.

  20. “when you are talking with the lost, don’t forget to speak their language.”

    Huh? What does this mean?

    I mean, this is one liner snark.

    He doesn’t answer her questions. He just gives her a snarky one liner.

    Vanessa explains clearly and at length what she is asking, and all she gets is this bizarre cryptic answer. Exactly what language does Woolsey think she is speaking to whom? I am guessing she speaks English to other people speaking English. Woolsey uses this snarking “speak their language” thing insinuating that she doesn’t even know how to communicate with people.

  21. Friends, my name is Bill Woolsey. I, along with our BOD, lead FiveTwo. To answer some of your questions:
    1. We are not solely for LCMS churches. Other Lutheran denominations, Anglican, and a few Presbyterian have joined our ranks. So yes, ELCA folks and LCMC folks would be very, very welcome.
    2. Our aim is to stimulate the starting of sacramental (read high view of LS and Baptism) ministries, ultimately and especially church plants.
    3. We do not plant the churches; we simply encourage them and try to provide entrepreneurial (apostolic) knowledge to make that happen.
    4. We are not a network that has a political agenda. You won’t find us politicking for one side or the other.

    Hope that helps.

    Apostolic. He keeps using that word. I am not sure it means what he thinks it means.

    See the full context here http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=4961.0

  22. @Mrs. Hume #23

    “When you’re talking with 5/2, don’t forget to speak their language.”

    OK. Here’s a question for the 5/2 folks:

    “Speaking apostolically in a sacramental sense, how would you dichotomize the eschaton, meanwhile planting an enterprenuer-like community of discipling path-trodders of the baptismal future-life?”

    Watch this space for the word-generated 5/2 response.

  23. Another reason for the need to join and support the work of the ACELC. This is exactly the kind of unbiblical, anti-Lutheran, rejection of the doctrine of election (i.e., sola gratia) that needs to be exposed. Only by faithful catechesis can we hope to educate our people as to why this kind of thinking is opposed to the Gospel. Convention resolutions will not change the heart and mind of the people of the LCMS. As Walther did, we are to bring all this garbage into the light of day and through the Scriptures and our Confessions teach how God ALONE builds His church, and not idolatrous marketing schemes (Acts 2:47).

  24. WORTH REPEATING

    Pastor Rick Pettey :
    Another reason for the need to join and support the work of the ACELC. This is exactly the kind of unbiblical, anti-Lutheran, rejection of the doctrine of election (i.e., sola gratia) that needs to be exposed. Only by faithful catechesis can we hope to educate our people as to why this kind of thinking is opposed to the Gospel. Convention resolutions will not change the heart and mind of the people of the LCMS. As Walther did, we are to bring all this garbage into the light of day and through the Scriptures and our Confessions teach how God ALONE builds His church, and not idolatrous marketing schemes (Acts 2:47).

  25. Mrs. Hume: “He keeps using that word. I am not sure it means what he thinks it means.” Words do matter!

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