16 July 2007

More like a working Hiatus ...

by Frank Turk


There's this place in Tulsa known as GUTS Church. I have seen it for myself, and I'd post pictures of it here from the visit TeamPyro made there on a fateful Wednesday night, but our only personal contact with the staff at GUTS was when their media director made Dan (our staff photographer for the event) delete the pictures of the preaching he took at GUTS that night.

This in spite of the fact that the event was broadcast live via the internet that night. So I have the one picture I took via my cellphone that night, three pictures Dan took of us as we walked in (forthcoming), and that's it.

Anyway, Phil commented on this visit in passing once, and I did maybe twice—and in one of the liveblogging threads there have been some commenters who have been vocal about their feelings about GUTS.

This weekend we got one comment that said something else:

I wanted to google Guts church today. I found your blog. I know you barely mentioned it, but I skimmed your article. I shook my head when I saw you were attending a Baptist event. You see I was a Baptist for the first 21 years of my life. In fact I attended a large Baptist church in the Tulsa area. I remember telling two different people that I would not try Guts Church because I was a Baptist and always would be. Almost like I was too good for it. Looking back in those 21 years I always thought something was missing from what I could and should be learning. But I could probably still tell you the lessons that were repeated over and over and over in my Baptist church. I indulged a guy I was dating to attend Guts Church once to try to prove to him that I wouldn't like it.

I went in looking for things to be wrong but still trying to keep an open mind. After hearing his sermon and leaving I asked him if he had talked to anyone at the church about me or any of the things I was going through. He assured me he hadn't. So I decided to go back just to make sure it wasn't a fluke that I was able to get something out of his sermons. Pastor Bill said- I am teaching you these things but PLEASE study them for yourself. That stuck with me. I kept going back because the things he kept teaching about were helping me.

For once I felt a difference in my walk with God. I joined the church about a month later.

I have studied these things for myself. I have discussed the topics and sermons with my devout Southern Baptist parents. I told my mom that no matter what church my family had gone to I do not know of 1 that they agreed with 100% of everything. There is one thing that I am still studying- Baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence being speaking in tongues in prayer. But that is for me to study, not just listen to someone tell me that its true or false.

My point is that I'm so disappointed to see that you being from church are allowing posters to poke fun of Guts Church. I think that from my experience I have learned that unless you study it or try it out more than once you shouldn't have opinions on it. Or even judge it.

The posting comments say that you should keep a Christian Manner. I am honestly questioning how some of the "joking" comments are funny? I have a sense of humor but I don't find it funny when it's at someone else's or a church's expense.

Please be careful of things said and written. It could easily turn people away from your church and beliefs. I believe it should be every Christian's goal to Make it hard for people around them to go to Hell by enabling them to see Christ in their life.

May God bless you and provide many successes in your life.

Now, there are three aspects of this comment that I think deserve a response, and I'll list them here:

[1] The implication that GUTS church is changing lives.

[2] The assertion that there is Scripturally-fruitful teaching at GUTS.

[3] The complaint that jokes about someone's church are inherently not funny and may be not part of the "Christian Manner".

You with me so far? Yes, I know: you were afraid you'd never get one of my expository apologetics posts ever again, and you have already packed a lunch. Very good for you.

As far as [1] goes, let's be clear about a few things. The first is this: who can really say something bad about an event which is feeding starving kids in Haiti? Who can say anything bad about someone who wants to do such a thing, as far as that event goes? Let me say plainly that GUTS Church's "Tougher than Hell" Bike rally is, in all social and philanthropic ways, a pretty beautiful thing. While public records about such things are hard to come by (the church web site has no significant history listed, and apparently doesn't list press releases), GUTS also did some significant charitable work for victims of Katrina. They take social action work seriously if they take anything seriously.

But the commenter's post was not concerned about the social work Bill Scheer and his church do: it was about the way lives have changed because of fruitful teaching. And that's really [2], but let me say something here under the heading of [1] before we get to the apologetic nuts and bolts. A call to social action by a charismatic leader is not the same thing as Gospel preaching. Suddenly realizing that one has a fairly-shallow ethical life (as we all do when we are between the ages of 19 and 25) is not the same thing as suddenly receiving the word of God for the first time.

Social action and activities are good, and good upon those who do them. They are not the same as the Gospel and in fact can be a distraction from the Gospel in spite of Jesus' plain teaching that good works are the fruit of the Gospel. This is not calling Jesus a liar, or calling into doubt the clarity or truthfulness of Scripture: this is simply underscoring the critical point that all who do socially- or morally-encouraging things are not doing Gospel work.

If you need some Scripture to fortify that for you, my suggestions would start at Luke 18:9-14, where Jesus makes it clear that the Pharisee (which, in His day, didn't mean "hypocrite" but "teaching pastor"), who took solace in being a good guy, was not justified, but the tax collector—who only relied on God's mercy, and knew the depths of his own need and sinfulness—was the one justified that day. Another suggestion would be Rom 1-2 in which Paul makes it clear that the Law's only purpose is to condemn men of sin, teaching us our need for Christ. Yet another would be Gal 5—if it is good works which are the measure of our Gospel-compliance, why does Paul tell us that circumcision (a God-established ordinance and covenant-keeping sign) will make the sacrifice of Christ of no use?

That said, let's think about the matter of Scripturally-fruitful teaching—about point [2]. Let me say first of all that every pastor has a soft day—he's human. So it is prolly impractical to visit someplace once and say, "well, his application of the historical/grammatical hermeneutic grid on the pericope he chose for this message was lacking in epistemic foundation to the text. He's a false teacher." Everyone has one day once in a while where they have to, for example, talk about the missions mission of their particular church, and in that they may have difficulty tying their message to any particular text because they are not talking about the reason we do missions, but the today-fact that these are the missions we are doing: "look—here are our missionaries."

So everyone can have an off day, and the content in that case has to be considered in the context of what the pastor was clearly speaking to.

Everyone with me?

OK. So on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at the 9 PM sub30 service, we got there late—and found a dance-off not only in progress but in full throw-down. After the music stopped once, to the credit of whoever was MC, I did hear someone say, "remember—let's keep it clean, OK?" So there was no dirty dancing going on, and I'm not personally so much of a prude as to say that dancing is itself an evil in which Christians should never participate.

But we were in what appeared to be the main sanctuary of the main building, and the music was really, really loud (Dan correctly remembers for me that it was Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Music"), and they were dancing off for a cash prize.

After the prize was awarded, (we didn't actually see who got the prize, but Phil was convinced that the girl who did the triple back-flip should have won) a fellow took the stage (there was no way to call it a pulpit as there was no pulpit—only band equipment) and began talking.

Now, you can listen to one version of this sermon—one that's cut off in the podcast, and is from what sounds like the "normal" Wednesday service rather than the "college and career" service—here. And in that, there are some interesting features. For example, there's the opening offer to take credit and debit cards for the offering—which has to be considered in the amazing ability of GUTS church never to fail to ask for money in any context and at every opportunity. There's also this fellow's riff on the OnStar navigational system.

But this fellow—and let's not be coy, it's Bill Scheer, pastor of GUTS—begins "preaching" from Matthew 12. Here's the whole passage, from the NKJV, which was his translation of choice:

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."
Um, well, also to be fair, this is actually the passage he cites, and upon which he delivered a message:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
Now, what kind of talk can one deliver on that passage of Scripture? Let me say that if this is all you quote from this passage, you could make any kind of talk you want out of it. And frankly, Pastor Scheer did.

You can hear where he goes with the grownups on the linked audio; with the sub30's, he first dismissed both John Maxwell and the Emergent church in the first breath, then proceeded to give a very Maxwell-esque "leadership" talk. Then he went on to stress the necessity for strong leadership, a great vision, and an interesting bit about how he's a smarter and better parent than his parents were, and how he's also smarter and more worldly than his kids. There was also the part near the end when Pastor Scheer quipped that you can't have church in a coffee house, but then as he dismissed he pointed out that they have a coffee house there in the church, and you could have a cup o' joe on your way out.

BTW, after reading the partial clip of Mt 12:25 to sort of launch his talk, he never came back to it. He had a lot to say about social vision and great leadership—that is, you have to follow great leaders—but he never got back to what Jesus is talking about here, which is the blasphemous blindness of the Pharisees who called Him demon-possessed.

Now, I subscribed to the GUTS podcast to give Pastor Bill a chance to change my mind about his love for Scripture and his willingness to actually preach what it says rather than what he is willing to say. Rather than add a page on what I heard there, I encourage you to subscribe to that podcast immediately and listen to it this week until you have formed an opinion about it. Listen to at least 2 whole podcasts.

In my book, the claim that the teaching at GUTS church is spiritually-fruitful is, in the best case, one woman's opinion.

The last question is whether or not jokes about someone's church are actually funny or part of the Christian manner, and in that I'd like to say that, first of all, Pastor Bill doesn't have any problems making jokes about other people's churches. If we can resolve that problem, we can start the rug-beating of TeamPyro for finding semi-charismatic motivational speeches amusing.

Thank you for asking.


Al said...

"I believe it should be every Christian's goal to Make it hard for people around them to go to Hell by enabling them to see Christ in their life."

Good goal... I would start with the Gospel. I would end there too, though there is room for dancing in between.

There is a guy in my office (weighs over 300 lbs) who is using the Physician Weight loss formula. Not the program just the formula, says he does not need the pep talk or the expense. It seems to be working for him though he says it is tough, real tough.

On the upside I got all his Jalapeno Smokehouse Almonds.

al sends

Anonymous said...

Resistance training Frank. Your wasting time doing all that Cardio, and prone to actually losing muscle mass as opposed to fat. Cardio increases your heart rate beyond the fat burning zone and makes you crave carbs. Email me @ gsurf76@gmail.com if you want some more info. Gadbois and Felden can vouch for my personal fitness expetise. :-)

Great post by the way. Perhaps if so many SBC churches preaching wasn't so watered down, people wouldn't be as susceptible to think emotionalized hype is good teaching. (not that this a a uniquely SBC problem, obviously)

Kay said...

*pays attention to the weight loss tips*

FX Turk said...

Garet --

The last time I was on this kick, I dropped 20 lbs and was within 5 lbs of my best weight since College -- which would probably be my best weight ever as I entered college a good bit underweight. I did that via low calorie intake, lots of water, and staging my carbs early in the day (immediately after my workout) to kill the craving. That was the last time I was a 34 waist, fwiw.

I also have the distinct honor of having barely-high BP. When my weight goes down to the high 170's, my BP goes back to a nice, even 120/70. My guess is that if I get down to 170, I'll have fine BP.

Everyone is an expert on weight loss and whatever. Everyone I know who has actually lost the weight counts calories, eats less after noon, and has changed their lifestyle from couch-riding to bike-riding or some form of aerobic exercise.

No offense, dude, but I'm a late-comer to the fitness thing. If I had been actually fit when I was 25, I'm sure I'd be a resistence guy today. I am instead a fat old guy who is going to stop being fat in spite of being old from now on.

donsands said...

"Social action and activities are good, and good upon those who do them. They are not the same as the Gospel and in fact can be a distraction from the Gospel"

Made me think of the Shriners Hospitals.
What a marvelous thing they do for children.
And yet their false gospel is unquestionably twisted, and deadly.

Very good thoughts cent.

Solameanie said...

I find it odd that your cameraman would be asked to delete his pictures. It's a public event, and as you point out, was being broadcast. As a former journalist, I am not sure such a thing would hold up in court, but I am not up to date on current broadcast law.

I am getting SO tired of all these gimmick churches and ministries. Why don't they just start selling cotton candy and elephant ears along with their Mocha Java? They can put the booths right next to the Willard's Whizzer roller coaster out in the parking lot.

FX Turk said...


Do you remember the outline for his talk that night? For the life of me I can't remember his 6 points, but I wish I could compare them to the passage just to show the readers how far afield he went.

Compelling vision, Outstanding leadership, ... what were the others?

FX Turk said...

And isn't it bizarre that those points are not the ones in the on-line audio and video of that night? They must have had an equipment failure. I attribute it to Phil's charismata of bringing natural disasters to anyplace he goes ...

FX Turk said...


In order to make the meta a complete brawl, I have a response to your comment.

I have been thinking about what I have seen and heard at Guts Church for almost 2 weeks now, and I have to admit something: I have a hard time attributing actual ill-will or intentionally-corrupt motives to what Bill Scheer and his curiously-young staff are doing there. I admit that I see some pretty stunning parallels between Scheer and the late Gene Scott, but I can't bring myself to believe that Scheer is the kind of transparent shyster that Scott was.

candy said...

Frank. Now if YOUR church had a dance contest you could get in some extra cardio.

DJP said...

Ohhh, boy....

Isn't one of them to get painted into a corner with Scheer?

I can't remember, beyond that none had the remotest ghost of a relationship to Matthew 12.

David Rudd said...

this isn't completely related, but it might be interesting...

what would be the 3-5 things you look for in a "good" sermon? present illustration might be a good springboard for this one?

FX Turk said...

Brief and imperfect summary of what a good sermon looks like:

[1] Gospel-centered, even from the OT.

[2] Text-based, placing the specific text in the context of the book it occurs.

[3] Recognizing a biblical anthropology.

[4] Spoken in a common language

[5] Demonstrates specific call(s) to action.

Unknown said...

"Frank. Now if YOUR church had a dance contest you could get in some extra cardio."

Unquestionably the best comment of the day on any blog I read.

DJP said...

Candy does slip in the sly ones.

DJP said...

Frank, it disturbs me that GUTS has its own Pyro tag. This suggests that there could be more posts on the subject.

Kim said...


I think you should ingore any and all weight loss tips. Only stress and anxiety have worked for me, and I wouldn't recommend those to anyone.

Stefan Ewing said...

It is very sad to read about people who grew up in lacklustre churches, did the church thing, and rightly found it wanting; then think traditional churchgoing Christianity is the problem, and that the answer is in some new denomination, or the latest evangelical trend, or some other religion, or even atheism.

The true answer is in getting back to the Gospel—the real Gospel—proper Biblical teaching, preaching, and discipleship training, which alas is apparently in short supply these days.

Anyhow, stress and anxiety? I think in most people they indirectly cause weight gain rather than loss, for a variety of physiological reasons. Unless one is so stressed that all he or she consumes is pure caffeine to keep going (vicious cycle, I know), with no time for food....

DJP said...

Well, Kim, there's also crushing grief and depression.

But then again, they can also work the OTHER way.

bassicallymike said...

"It is very sad to read about people who grew up in lacklustre churches, did the church thing, and rightly found it wanting; then think traditional churchgoing Christianity is the problem, and that the answer is in some new denomination, or the latest evangelical trend, or some other religion, or even atheism."

That is the "Throw the baby out with the bathwater" reaction. Very commonplace, especially with folks raised in fundamental/legalistic type churches.

Neil said...

Hiatus, schmiatus

Mark said...

Yeah, I know I know...this probably belongs on another post, but this is the most current post.

Tony Jones was recently on Al Mohler's radio program which was hosted by Russ Moore.

Haven't got to hear it yet, but it looks interesting.


Ps. Frank, I am also working towards some weight loss. I know..as petite as I am.

Phil Johnson said...

Nice to see the return of comic-book art.

We need a new Biblezine parody now.

Stefan Ewing said...


Based on what I've read here and in other fora, I'd agree with you. I also get the sense, however, that it may also be a problem with folks who grew up in liberal, mainline churches, where the crushing weight of sin and the need for repentance and spiritual regeneration are deemphasized, leaving inquisitive individuals to wonder, "What's the point?" and go off to try to find the answer in, say, Buddhism.

one busy mom said...

uhhmmm...dance contests....triple backflips...and being asked not to find humor (or horror) in this .....that's a tough one.

Just please tell me "dance to the music" is not now used as a praise and worship song!

Connie said...

Well folks, the most recent (and current) GUTS billboard proudly announces that this is their 20th year! Not really all that surprising in this town...

Anonymous said...

Frank there is no doubt you can lose weight doing what you are doing. The question is it promoting healthy body composition? And is it the most effective method? The answer to both questions is no.

Cardio for a period of longer than 15 minutes elevates your heart rate (not blood pressure) above the target zone for burning fat. Your body expels energy and to recover craves sugars, carbs and depletes your muscles. Sure over time you will lose weight, but "weight" is subjective. If you are losing muscle mass your weight loss is actually a step backwards from health. I encourage the people I train not to get on the scale because it is misleading to their actual progress.

On the flip side, resistance training fatigues muscles, which to restore themselves burn fat stores and cause the body to crave protein. You stay in the target heart rate for burning fat because the intensity is much lower. You continue to burn fat even when no longer working out because your body is converting stored fat into the energy needed to rebuild muscle. And your body will actually cause you to crave the necessary nutrients to restore that fatigued muscle.

I am not suggesting that you need to join a gym, get a weight belt and some parachute pants and start doing power squats. All you need is a large exercise ball, 15 lb. dumbbells and a thirty minute circuit routine three days a week and you will get much better, healthier results that you would doing five hours on the stair master.

Your diet sounds okay, but I suggest eating more often. Every two to three hours. Heavy on proteins and natural fats. (Nuts and cheeses are great snacks between main meals) More more frequent meals = more digestion = increased metabolic rate = increased fat loss.

It's not about self imposed suffering to lose weight. It's about working smart, not hard.

Just loving on ya Frank. I know sometimes it's hard for old (fat) dogs new to learn new tricks. :-)

DJP said...

Does dealing with commenters on this blog count as "resistance training"?

Solameanie said...


Let's hope we don't get a brawl or a meltdown, LOL.

I agree with you in the sense of not attributing bad motives to the guys at Guts (how's that for alliteration). Indeed, I can't judge their motivations. I see these things as part of a larger problem, i.e. the idea that we can entertain people into the kingdom. It goes even deeper than that. Biblically, just what is worship supposed to be? What is the gathering together of believers for?

I believe it is primarily for believers to worship God, fellowship together, and to be equipped for ministry i.e. learning the Word of God. Evangelism is not the primary focus of the assembly. Evangelism is what you and I are to do on a day to day basis.

Instead, because we have industrialized the idea of evangelism within the walls of the church, we fall into the idea that we have to swell the numbers in the pews by whatever means are necessary. That in turn opens the door for all sorts of error, the Emergent Church included.

I really find it distressing.

Anonymous said...

DJP: Sure does... burning mental fat and building spiritual muscle.

Solameanie said...

I just want you'uns all to know..you have foisted heavy guilt on me in regards to my pear-like physiognomy. I actually drank a weight-loss shake today, and am trying to skip lunch.


wordsmith said...


I think that most (if not all) of the weight-loss gurus will tell you that it is a big no-no to skip meals. The advice to eat more frequently albeit smaller portions is a better idea than skipping.

Word verification: naevpu. Reminds me too much of Nauvoo.

FX Turk said...

Yeah, skipping meals is both painful and pointless. I do much better with frequent healthy snacks than trying to skip two meals and then pigging out for one meal.

The irony is that it is -expensive- to eat healthy.

As far as Garet's advice goes, I am sure he's giving informed advice -- that doesn't work for me. I don't lose fat when I exercise only in the "fat-burning zone". If I don't get into the cardio zone, my weight stays stable. That may defy science, but I can produce the pages of daily weight readings which demonstrated in the first 6 weeks of my last round of de-fat-ifying I lost 1 lb, but in the next 6 weeks where I monitored heart rate and stayed in the cardio zone I lost 12 lbs -- and I gained energy, and had improved BP. If I hadn't gotten sick (I developed a migrain -- a headache which caused nausea and occational dizziness -- that lasted 5 weeks), I would have never stopped.

But, having stopped, I have to get back on the horse.

I realize you are speaking truth, Garet, from a physiological standpoint. What you say is what all the non-quack books on dieting say. I have no idea why your system doesn't work on me.

Solameanie said...

Almost sounds like the hobbit diet. Six meals a day.

Seriously, this particular program my doctor put me on works great. I just have to be disciplined enough to stay on it. The shakes are meal replacements, followed by a low glycemic dinner. It's better than Slim-Fast, and the shakes can be mixed with fruit. You also have a vitamin regimin on this particular diet. And exercise is highly recommended.

Now, if I can just get off my can and do it!

g said...

scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll... shew, I made it. Good post. Not long winded per say... just... packed.

Dealing with commentors on this blog IS resistance training, Dan... even just reading through them.

Turk... just graze like a cow without looking like one. Best "diet" there is.


Phil Johnson said...

Re: having church in a coffee shop (or not)

Here's an intriguing concept.

DJP said...

Hm. Jesus-Mythbusters. I like it.


candy said...

Phil. Do you think Rodney Howard Browne owns shares in that pub church?

Anonymous said...

Sign me up for Pub Church. But I think Cent will have to sit this one out due to his current endeavor...

Solameanie said...


Did you have to bring up Rodney Howard Browne? I had almost forgotten about him, and now I have this horrible urge to begin laughing uncontrollably. Thanks a lot.

As for the pub church, my...ahem... wouldn't that be interesting. We have enough rotten theology coming out of sober pastors, much less from those who've been at the hooch before stepping up to the lectern (or mechanical bull).

Solameanie said...

I should also point this out..perhaps the SBC church in St. Louis got the idea for their "pub church" from the Aussies. I can't remember if it's sponsored by Busch or not, but it's causing a bit of controversy in the Show-Me state.

wordsmith said...

As for the pub church, my...ahem... wouldn't that be interesting. We have enough rotten theology coming out of sober pastors, much less from those who've been at the hooch before stepping up to the lectern (or mechanical bull).

Q: If they've been imbibing in the hootch, how do we tell which "spirit" led them to speak in tongues which no one can understand? ;)

Solameanie said...


Perhaps they "Don't know what spirit they're of." Scotch, brandy or even turpentine.

Perhaps they're going to try and follow along the lines of the churches that use real wine for communion, especially of the Catholic variety. And in those churches, I note with interest that the priest serving communion seems to be the only one who gets to take a swig from the cup. Everyone else gets a wine-dipped wafer. I don't think they show that much restraint in St. Louis.

Kidding aside, from the item on Emergent Baptism not too long ago to this rather off topic item of pub churches and communion, it seems like we have a host of people who are determined to be iconoclastic regardless of whether it offends a considerable number of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

DJP said...

...and the original drive-by hasn't come back to respond to your response.

SJ Camp said...

Did anyone from TeamPyro stay after the service and go up to this pastor and engage him in any kind of meaningful face to face dialogue about the service and to inquire of him what he actually believes?

On rare occasion, I have had conversations with Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Richard Roberts (Oral's son), Morris Cerullo, etc. on aspects of their doctrine. Interesting conversations. Those talks have proven very beneficial in understanding their skewed and often times blatant heretical teachings they assert in the name of Christ.

Was just curious...


Unknown said...

Okay about the very first 'comment' in your post where the person complains about not finding church jokes at all funny. I went to Guts Church for five years, thank god I've been delivered, and Pastor Bill ALWAYS made fun of other denominations. ALWAYS.

Monty West said...
This comment has been removed by the author.