Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beth Moore: Southern Baptists most valuable brand?

I like Beth Moore, our Southern Baptist female Christian rock star. In fact, I like her preaching better than many of the men I hear and I'd guess that my church has bought and used every product she has marketed.

IRS Form 990s, available online for charitable organizations, are sometimes interesting reading and her organization, Living Proof Ministries, reports the following on its 2009 Form 990:

Her reported compensation is modest, $207,000 for 2009.

The organization’s cash and temporary cash investments on hand are substantial, $5,483,538. I suppose that would be called sitting on a big pile of cash.

The organizations total assets (mainly cash on hand plus real estate) are $10,877,258.

Revenues, product sales and honoraria was $4,370,613 in 2009.

I’m a greedy capitalist pig and have no problem with Beth Moore or Charles Stanley or Adrian Rogers’s estate marketing their sermons (uh, 'talks' rather than sermons in Moore's case), books, or whatever but if one doesn't understand that this is big business on this level, well, that would be na├»ve.

People like to speak of personalities in terms of ‘brands’ (Robert Reccord, former NAMB head famously told Mary Branson, one of his employees and author of "Spending God's Money" an expose of NAMB under Reccord, that her job was to “brand him”)and I’d speculate that Beth Moore might be Southern Baptist’s most valuable brand these days.

And what would LifeWay's balance sheet look like without her?


Anonymous said...

I'm sure that if she's truly a functioning, tithing to her local church Baptist then her pastor loves her.

Stephen Fox said...

Dr. Thornton, you keep talking like that and you're gonna find yourself unaffiliated.
Do Read God's Own Party by Dan Williams. You need to pick up a copy soon, and Big Daddy Weave's tribute bio of James Dunn.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather be unaffiliated than part of the SBC or CBF leadership. They are both focused on power, money, and politics plain and simple. Just stay in your church and be the best pastor you can be.

Jonathan said...

Anyone remember the litmus strips in HS chemistry class? For those of you who do not, these were those little rectangular strips of paper that would change color when placed in contact with a particular substance. Very useful in checking PH balance, acid/base composition, etc...

Beth Moore is like litmus paper in SBC life. Except, when she comes into contact with SBC leaders, the individual leaders show their colors. If Moore is the SBC's most valuable brand, it is because her humble diligent work has touched the lives of millions of Southern Baptist women (and not a small number of Southern Baptist men). New Beth Moore studies have become an event because of the quality of the discussion groups that are gathered in thousands of churches.

Yet, I've heard, from a number of conservative SBC leaders and pastors of influence, that Moore is one of most dangerous people in conservative evangelicalism (the other two folks frequently mentioned are Kay Arthur and Anne Lotz). Why? Because there is a risk that, in certain settings, there might be men present when she is sharing, teaching, proclaiming, etc...

We are in an era where 1) SBC leaders are comfortable arguing that a seminary is a church (for the purpose of breaking promises to a female professor of languages) and 2) the funds that SBC leaders control is declining each year. As long as 2 is true, Lifeway shelf space is safe for Moore.

Anonymous said...

It seems that God always provides the financial answer for, first, Baptist Book Stores, and now Lifeway. First was "Experiencing God" by Blackaby, then the CR's answer to the NIV, (whatever that Bible was called) and now Beth Moore.

Our more Prophetic brethern/sistern would probably have the reason for this...I just think that it is very timely.

Joseph Patrick

Anonymous said...

BM is untouchable in my church. Her Bible studies are very popular.

Since she is one of the most visible Southern Baptists thousands of SBC churches use her studies, I recommend that next year's Pastor's Conference include her on the program. If we can find room for non-SBCer, we can find room for her. If the PC is afraid of her then Bryant Wright can get her on the program for the annual meeting.

Heck, she could give the LifeWay report with Ranier.


Matt said...

@ Jonathon

I am not sure what is scarier, that men might be present and involved in a Beth Moore study, or that they might actually learn something!

When I was in seminary, I pastored a small country church that decided it wanted to do a mid-week in-depth study. Beth Moore's study on Paul was chosen because it was what the lady (who, by the way, was the only person willing to teach other than myself) teaching wanted to study. The men did not have a problem using her material, and I would dare say that she taught us all quite a bit about Paul.

I'm sure some SBCers wouldn't be happy with that, perhaps not even Beth herself. But with her broad appeal, I agree she probably is the SBC's most valuable asset. I think what we found so appealing about her material was that it did not seem to have any kind of agenda, except to exegete God's Word and to apply it's principles.

Both male and female Southern Baptists would do well to emulate her.