#Wiki14 / @FiveTwo – The Data Speaks, Part Two

Our previous article focused on the people associated with the FiveTwo Network and how they relate to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS). This time we’ll focus on FiveTwo’s formative influences. The findings are disturbing for Confessional Lutheranism if the FiveTwo organization is allowed to continue hiving within the LCMS as a shadow synod.

FiveTwo’s “Sacramental Entrepreneurship” model is social entrepreneurship glossed with a light Lutheran varnish. Like all social entrepreneurism, it reduces to the fusion of business fads with do-goodism. Corporate strategy and marketing are the business disciplines that most inform social entrepreneurship. They are also the most impulsive and mystical fields in any business school, and whose chief characteristics are change for the sake of change.

At its heart social entrepreneurship is a type of universalism whether it manifests in secular or “faith-based” forms. The secular offshoot is the contemporary social justice movement and all its agonies about race and class. Faith-based versions such as FiveTwo display, alarmingly, many of the traits of last century’s Social Gospel cult that J. Gresham Machen fought tooth and nail. Social Gospel adherents are adamant that Scripture enjoins us to make God’s Kingdom on earth, and have attached a soteriology to acts of mercy. The modernists have attached the language of return on investment and key performance indicators.

Let’s then call this movement what it most is: the Neo Social Gospel (NSG). If the Social Gospel is the formal principle of NSG, then Moral Therapeutic Deism is its material principle.

Replicating Relevance

Although FiveTwo strives mightily to project innovation, relevance, creativity, and leadership, it is actually just the mutation of an ancient pathogen that is lethal to Christianity in the absence of Word and Sacrament rightly delivered.

There are literally dozens of precedents where the word “Entrepreneur” has been paired with something denoting faith or Christianity. For example, “Gospel Entrepreneur” is very common, as is “Faith Entrepreneur“. Interestingly, there is a “Spiritual Entrepreneur” with a link to FiveTwo. This begs the question: should we expect to see Charismatic Entrepreneurs and Word Faith Entrepreneurs at #Wiki15?

One key vector in this specific genre of faith-entrepreneur pairing goes back to 1996 when Mike Slaughter published Spiritual Entrepreneurs: 6 Principles for Risking Renewal. It is worth excerpting Slaughter’s bio in full because it is echoed so closely in the nomenclature that FiveTwo and others like it use (emphasis my own):

Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church, is in his fourth decade as the chief dreamer of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. His life-long passion to reach the lost and set the oppressed free has now made him a tireless and leading advocate for the children, women and men of Darfur, Sudan, named by the U.N. as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Mike’s call to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted will challenge attendees to wrestle with God and their God-destinies.

This is the language of the synergist. Word and sacrament ministry in a formal setting is deemed deficient. It is we who must pursue the lost, rather than the Holy Spirit, preferably by setting up shop where unbelievers have built a church out of their own passions and imaginations. Above all, we must “do community”. This is the religion of deeds-not-creeds – the business of feeding men so long as it’s not the bread and water of Life.

Slaughter is a pioneer, but he’s not the motive force behind NSG. That dubious distinction is claimed by the papal office that effectively oversees the NSG enterprise – Leadership Network. That organization is responsible for legitimizing the “ministry marketplace” espoused by Slaughter, and the notion that ministry needs corporatist champions. Ironically, ministry marketplaces are associated with idolatry in the Bible, and Jesus was violently opposed to people making merchandise of church. Indeed, wherever you turn in the Leadership Network ecosystem money is front and center.

Leadership Network even has its own blasphemous creed, entitled “We Believe in the Church”, presumably to displace those dusty old Ecumenical Creeds. Here is the opening of Leadership Network’s creed:

We believe in kingdom innovation.
We believe in kingdom innovators.
And we want to see both multiplied and shared.

The content, sentiment and intent of this creed is replicated and multiplied in FiveTwo and every NSG enterprise. It is language absent from Scripture, but our Old Adam loves the idea that God is pleased with our efforts, and that helping someone is the same as saving them to eternal life.

This is not the occasion to unpack Leadership Network, but please educate yourself about its origins and outgrowth via the genuinely insightful work of Chris Rosebrough (@PirateChristian) on the organization’s ideology. Ed Stetzer has also published an unintentionally revealing article about the movement and its “investment” mentality.

Leadership Network has been very successful in penetrating non-denominational evangelical and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches. We characterize that as First Wave NSG, which took about 30 years to reach full maturity. Second Wave NSG has commenced, and it has an ecumenical strategy.

A hybridized, self-learning and adaptive systematic theology is now well formed (see the Wordle below for the key buzzwords) and starting to infect a broader spectrum of churches. The most appropriate term to use would be Chameleon Theology. Its first line of attack is always orthopraxy because once you evacuate that, orthodoxy falls easily.

It is no surprise that NSG Chameleon Theology should appear in a Confessional Lutheran setting. We have already seen it making inroads with Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and, even, Islam.

Second Wave Influence

In an attempt to better understand the players in this second wave, we completed an analysis of Amazon Kindle book sales, starting with Bill Woolsey’s Seven Steps to Start. We believe Kindle sales are most likely to reflect the NSG target market which skews to the apprentices needed for replication and multiplication.

Identifying the first six “also purchased” books, and repeating the process for each first ranked book, we were able to generate a scored ranking of the most influential people and books in this theosophical echo chamber within a house of mirrors. The infographic below shows the degrees of influence, orientation and focus, and association with Leadership Network. The Second Wave is confirmed by the absence of books by Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Ed Stetzer. The young turks are moving on.

Mike Breen is currently at the apex of the influence network, and his work reflects the most distinct traits of NSG – to make the obvious obscure, usually by abusing alliteration, and to apply law only. For example, Breen has a rather pretentious blog about the death of the American church if “our enemy” gets his way through:

  • A culture of CELEBRITY (affirmation)
  • A culture of CONSUMERISM (appetite)
  • A culture of COMPETITION (ambition)

And a Social Gospel closer to beat the sheep with:

“We are now into the second decade of the 21st century and we find ourselves still, for the most part, refusing to sacrifice what we want for what God is asking of us and his Church. Will we have the courage to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed? Will we do the things that cost us so that his Kingdom may advance?”

Three points, obfuscation, alliteration, and a stern word of law. Very NSG. There is nothing very American about those items, and certainly nothing that needs a treatise, or the incorrect application of Law and absence of Gospel. Celebrity, excessive consumerism and excessive competition are simply breaches of the Ten Commandments. Why not just say so?


FiveTwo is incompatible with Confessional Lutheranism, and it has no place within the LCMS. The LCMS must ask Pr. Woolsey to repent of this sinful distraction, and receive the forgiveness Christ won for him in His life, death, resurrection and ascension. Failing that, there are plenty of denominations and organizations were FiveTwo would be an excellent fit and very welcome.



Second Wave NSG Nomenclature




#Wiki14 / @FiveTwo – The Data Speaks, Part Two — 38 Comments

  1. So, will Pres.Harrison let this heretic remain in the LCMS or will he take the necessary steps to discipline him and if this pastor is unrepentant, will he be excommunicated? All confessional Lutherans are patiently awaiting an answer–preferably before the next synod convention!

  2. wine – due to a CCM ruling last year President Harrison has no direct oversight of any individual pastor in the LCMS – that is the responsibility of that pastor’s District President. However, President Harrison does have direct oversight of the DPs.

  3. I heard Pastor Chris Rosebrough on Issues,Etc. talking about FiveTwo yesterday. Pastor Wilken said he had invited Pastor Bill Woolsey to be on the show too but he declined. ‘Glossed with a light Lutheran varnish…’ Very well said.

    In Christ,

  4. Harry and wine,

    There is nothing stopping President Harrison from writing and speaking against the 5/2 guys.

    We have countless papers issued from the President’s Office on mercy programs but nothing on the doctrinal problems in the LCMS and yet pure doctrine is the cause of the church whereas mercy is only a fruit of pure doctrine.

    The problem is at the trunk of the vine. If it is not addressed the vineyard will rot from the root and die.

  5. @Harry Edmon #3

    Regardless, I don’t believe anything within the LCMS political system is preventing Rev. Dr. Harrison from making a clear and direct statement denouncing FiveTwo and rebuking its leaders. Somebody show me where the idiotic bylaws state that the Synod President can’t publically state that he believes specific cases of heterodox teaching and practices are wrong.

    One has to look no further than Woolsey and FiveTwo to see that anyone can say anything within the LCMS, even if what is being said is heterodox. The LCMS leadership has handed the microphone and pulpit over to Woolsey and walked away.

  6. Tim Wood,

    Great article yet again! Your discussion of the Leadership Network got me thinking about how FiveTwo is going about “growing” their heterodox leaders. Based on a quick look it appears that FiveTwo is working on a Coaching program. The website is under construction, but states that a new Coaching Program will be launched in Feb 2015. I can’t wait……..


    Then, it’s apparent that Woolsey’s Crosspoint Church has its own Leadership Institute (CLI). Yet another key mechanism to expand their FiveTwo synod.


    Finally, below is a link to, and verbiage from, FiveTwo’s website. The concept of enlisting 1 apprentice for every 10 leaders in a Local is again troubling. It’s the old “Everyone is a Minister” ministry concept. Such initiatives serve to harm the Office of Holy Ministry in countless ways.

    The first goal for every FiveTwo local is to identify and enlist one apprentice for every 10 leaders in a Local. Apprentices are key leading metrics. No apprentices, no sacramental entrepreneurs who start new ministries that lead to baptizing 1 person for every 10 in worship. Get it? (If you’d like to learn more about how we do our residency program at CrossPoint so that the residents are self-funded, send me an email. Let’s talk.)

  7. “The first goal for every FiveTwo local is to identify and enlist one apprentice for every 10 leaders in a Local. Apprentices are key leading metrics. No apprentices, no sacramental entrepreneurs who start new ministries that lead to baptizing 1 person for every 10 in worship.”

    It kind of sounds like an Amway program.

  8. @Randy #8
    Then, it’s apparent that Woolsey’s Crosspoint Church has its own Leadership Institute (CLI). Yet another key mechanism to expand their FiveTwo synod.

    Deja vu all over again… this time they’ll appeal to the egos of lay people as well as pastors, who had the [invitational] PLI at the beginning of Jerry’s empire building. Non-Lutheran roots… non-Lutheran ivy decaying the walls… Why didn’t they go join the ***A with their brothers in non-belief!? 🙁

  9. @Rev. George Naylor #9

    Pastor Naylor,

    I think you’re on to something. Except, in Woolsey’s case, the pyramid is inverted, thus requiring the recruitment of 1 apprentice per 10 leaders in order to continue elevating the current leaders/pastors to the positions of supervisors, then local managers, then regional managers, then Vice Presidents, then President/CEO. Yahtzee! Eureka! I finally get what a Sacramental Entrepreneur is.

    A Sacramental Entrepreneur is one who elevates his boss to higher levels, thus releasing the boss of cumbersome duties such as Word and Sacrament ministry.

  10. If anyone can tell me:

    Is “Doxology” orthodox Lutheranism, or is it yet another intramural cult?

  11. @Randy #11
    Except, in Woolsey’s case, the pyramid is inverted, thus requiring the recruitment of 1 apprentice per 10 leaders in order to continue elevating the current leaders/pastors.

    I’m not sure the pyramid is inverted. Sounds like “everyone’s a leader” [“everyone a minister’] and the “apprentice” is the first step up…
    very like Amway, [or that women’s Ponzi scheme, where if you work hard enough, you’ll earn someone else a pink Cadillac. (Girl Scouts is good training for this one)]
    But it does separate Woolsey and company from the great unwashed and move them into the “executive/consultant” seats.

  12. @helen #12
    Hi Helen,

    If you’re talking about Doxology, the organization started by Pastor Harold Senkbeil and Dr. Beverly Yahnke, it is very much a confessional Lutheran group. They have retreats for pastors and their wives. President Harrison spoke at one of the retreats in Springfield, Il that honored Dr. John Kleinig recently. Here’s the link: http://www.doxology.us

    In Christ,

  13. Helen,

    Doxology is quite orthodox, confessional and liturgical. Dr. Harold Senkbeil and Dr. Beverly Yahnke are of the finest Lutheran caliber. Part of Doxology, as I would describe it, is preventing clergy burnout, addressing already existing burnout, and clergy renewal, with components for congregational lay leaders and pastors’ wives. If there is any connection with FiveTwo, I would state it this way: Doxology exists for those FiveTwo pastors who will crash and burn from living so severely under the Law and their man-made theological contraption. Doxology doesn’t discriminate on the basis of where Lutheran pastors are coming from. Doxology applies the best of soul care possible to the hurting pastor with liturgical worship, well-grounded biblical and Law-and-Gospel preaching, and opportunities for private confession and absolution. I can’t think of a more recent and finer gift to our church body in spite of the chaos from within and without.

  14. @Randy #8
    Thank you, Randy. It is very clear that 5/2 and its brethren only do church for unbelievers. Once you are a “believer” (and the means of grace is very much up in the air), you have to be a leader or an apprentice with the function of finding new unbelievers.

    I like the Amway / Golden Products analogy. The outcome of this behavior a recruitment mentality, and a lot of it has to do with maintaining a large enough customer base to carry the overheads. The turnover in these “churches” is enormous and they are breeding grounds for doubt and unbelief. People are driven to despair or exhaustion with the constant demands to be like Christ and sacrifice like Christ, or at least to measure up to the head leader / coach / entrepreneur who’s got his/her stuff together.

  15. Sadly the Synodocrats are in election mode now. Matt, therefore, will be silent on this. Can’t do anything to upset the re-elections plans. Again, I say, how sad! Lord, have mercy!

  16. Sadly, the Synodocrats are in election mode now. Therefore, Matt will be silent on this. Lord, have mercy!

  17. Rev. George Naylor :

    It kind of sounds like an Amway program.

    Funny you should mention that. I was in the Amway program a number of years ago. I have the beginnings of an article comparing the recruitment/mentoring methods of Druckerite/Emergent church growth movements and Amway. I attended an Amway seminar that taught recruitment and mentoring. It was the lesser of the two reasons I became so uncomfortable in my small group leadership training years later.

    Financially, Amway and church growth movements depend on continually and rapidly building the recruitment base and getting that money flowing up. As for duties, mentors are highly motivated not just by money, but position. The more successful they are in bringing folks in, mentoring them and getting them recruiting and mentoring others, the sooner they will be a mentor to mentors, which is less time consuming and frees you up to run seminars and the like.

  18. @helen #13

    You’re right, Helen. The pyramid is upright with Woolsey at the top. However, the 10:1 ratio of leaders to apprentices that he prescribes is essentially an inverted pyramid that exists only at the base of the scheme. Such a mechanism exists to provide a continuous flow of “Lieutenants” into the ground level of his movement. Essentially, the pyramid doesn’t get taller, but instead gets wider as more “Leaders” are unofficially ordained. It’s Woolsey’s way of creating an endless supply of Lieutenants to feed the beast.

  19. Tim Schenks :

    J. Dean :Question: is there any Lutheran book which specifically addresses this issue?

    Exodus 32

    As true and relevant as that passage is… and it is indeed…I was thinking that directly addressed said movements in the LCMS, Tim. But your citation of the golden calf passage does indeed have application.

    Say, here’s a funny question: have the writers here at BJS considered putting their heads together and writing a book about the state of the Lutheran church (both good and bad)?

    Something to think about, gentlemen.

  20. “It is very clear that 5/2 and its brethren only do church for unbelievers. Once you are a “believer” (and the means of grace is very much up in the air), you have to be a leader or an apprentice with the function of finding new unbelievers.” Tim Wood #16

    I was studying my way through the article on Election & Predestination in the Solid Declaration yesterday, and in the context of “once saved, always saved” and how/where Chemnitz et al are telling us to find assurance of our salvation, this very thought struck me;

    The more the “church” tries itself to “save” the “lost”, the more it ends up losing the saved.

    It’s like (if you will forgive this image) a woman who keeps having babies, only to neglect them and have them taken away by the state, only to have more babies. Or, in more churchly terms, frantically herding sheep into the fold through the front gate, oblivious to or ignoring the fact that half the back fence has been taken out. The point of a sacramental church is that the Children of God are continually being saved in and through Christ, in and through His established means. (All my betters out there please feel free to (kindly) correct anything errorist in that lay-assertion.)

    A different observation, in reference to a previous post on this topic; Remember when we were younger, how the “music” we heard played in the supermarket, etc. was so obviously targeted at old people? In Pr. Abrahamson’s 10/14 post on the subject, notice how the list of “contemporary” music being played at CrossPoint reads like a current WallMart shopper hit-parade? (And before you call me ageist, I’m class of ’85. I was there.)

    soli Deo gloria,

  21. @helen #12
    Having been to one Doxology event, I can say categorically that Doxology is completely and totally orthodox. If you can make one such event, I am sure you will be encouraged and strengthened in your faith. I heartily and enthusiastically endorse Doxology.

  22. I couldn’t help but notice that in the “Second Wave NSG Nomenclature” graphic above, “Jesus” is missing.

  23. @J. Dean #21
    Question: is there any Lutheran book which specifically addresses this issue?

    You might try Pr. Rodney Zwonitzer’s “Testing the Claims of Church Growth.” Also Kurt Marquart, “‘Church Growth’ as Mission Paradigm: A Confessional Lutheran Assessment.” The latter can be found in “Church and Ministry Today: Three Confessional Lutheran Essays” published by The Luther Academy. That particular essay is a devastating critique. And finally, “The Theology of the Church Growth Movement,” by Klemet Preus here: http://www.confessionallutherans.org/papers/klemet.html Preus accurately identifies the Great Commission as CG’s Material Principle.

    I just remembered that several years ago, the CTCR published a paper on CG. Not sure it’s still on the LCMS website. Here is the title “Evangelism and Church Growth with Special Reference to the CG Movement.” September 1987.

    All these resources are somewhat dated, but as relevant today as when they were written.

  24. @J. Dean #23
    Hi Dean,

    I’ve mentioned this book before on BJS – ‘The Fire and the Staff’ by Rev. Klemet Preus. Basically, it’s a book about what happens to congregations when church growth practices are introduced into a congregation by well-meaning but misguided clergy and/or laity. Also, there is Craig Parton’s book, ‘The Defense Never Rests’. This book tells of the journey that Mr. Parton, a lawyer, took from Evangelicalism to Confessional Lutheranism. Chapter 10 titled, ‘Lutherans Imitating Evangelicals’ is especially interesting to the discussion at hand.

    In Christ,

  25. @J. Dean #21

    I knew there was another one: “For the Sake of Christ’s Commission,” the Report of the Church Growth Study Committee,” CPH, 2001. If I remember correctly, the previous administration took issue with some of the committee’s recommendations and statements. Not sure you’ll find this one anyplace, except in Pr. Rossow or Dr. Noland’s attics.

  26. @John Rixe #30
    Thanks. Great stuff! Reading through it briefly, it’s evident that this document is quite relevant in relation to the stuff we see with Five-Two and PLI and TCN. Highly recommended.

  27. And (as I get busted in the past), here are some thoughts and Scripture that also speak about being sensitive to culture, but ignoring God’s Word. And I did get this from God’s Thoughts Wired:

    Popular Christianity doesn’t want to risk offense, for the sake of “love.”
    Biblical Christianity is willing to risk offense, FOR the sake of love.*
    “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” – Luke 11:23

    Popular Christianity says, “It’s not my job to judge or express disapproval.”
    Biblical Christianity says, “It IS my job to let you know what the Judge does, and does not approve.”
    “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:3

    Popular Christianity says, “We’re about what we’re for, not what we’re against.”
    Biblical Christianity says, “We’re about what we’re for AND against.”
    “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11

    Jesus defined “love” as follows:
    “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” – John 14:15-16, 21; 2 John 6

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