Robert Morris' Gateway Church Agrees to Buy Hillcrest Dallas Campus from Jack Graham's Prestonwood Baptist Church

Yesterday, Gateway Church Senior Pastor Robert Morris announced a mega-deal between two megachurches in Dallas, TX.  Robert Morris’ Gateway Church has agreed to acquire Prestonwood Baptist’s Hillcrest campus near I-635 and Hillcrest Road in Dallas. Prestonwood Baptist’s lead pastor is Jack Graham. Officially listed as 6827 Willow Lane, the Hillcrest campus is valued at $20.7 million according to Dallas Central Appraisal District. Morris did not disclose the purchase price.
The video announcement from October 17, 2015 is at the new Dallas.gatewaypeople.com website. You can watch the video at that site. The transcript is below:

Hey everyone.  I have some extremely exciting news for you.  You know we’re always praying about where to open our next campus.  Well I’m going to tell you today.  We are going to open our next campus this spring in Dallas.  In Dallas.  We have been praying about it.  And I wanna tell you how this came about.  Years ago, there was a church, it was called Hillcrest Church and Prestonwood bought that facility in 2011.  And they’ve had a campus there.  But they have felt led to go in a different direction.  And Dr. Graham called me and said, ‘we would like to sell this campus to Gateway Church.’  And Dr. Graham and I are great friends.  We’ve done things here in the city for the Kingdom.  We’ve done things in our nation for the Kingdom.  But I wanna commend Dr. Jack Graham and Prestonwood.  They are so Kingdom minded that when they felt led to go to a different direction, they said, ‘we want Gateway Church to have this campus.’   So we’re in the process right now of buying that campus, 635 and Hillcrest and will open some time this spring.  I’ll let you know when.  But we’re gonna have a campus now in Dallas, Texas.   Thank you Lord.

Earlier this year, Morris, in the 2014 annual report, signaled a move toward North Fort Worth and/or Frisco. With the Hillcrest purchase, Gateway may, like Prestonwood, be moving in a different direction.
GatewayFriscoInitiative
 
The Hillcrest property was first built in 1990, and has over 150,000 square feet with a combined seating capacity of 2,900. Prestonwood paid $18 million for Hillcrest in 2011. At the time, Jack Graham assured his congregation and Dallas’ WFAA Channel 8 news audience that attendance would grow from under 1,000 to over 6,000, and would require 2-3 services per weekend. Apparently, Graham’s attempts to grow the Hillcrest location did not work out.
Gateway’s Lead Executive Senior Pastor Tom Lane has been assigned as the campus pastor for Gateway Dallas.
The Hillcrest Dallas purchase transaction is expected to close December 4, 2015. Gateway will remodel the children’s area, and add a bookstore and café, and plans to launch regular weekend services in March 2016.

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris Calls Blogs "Satan's Hit List"

On Saturday at Gateway Church, pastor Robert Morris went off on bloggers. Watch:

But, but I have to say this, um, I’m really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I’m extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it; here’s one thing, just even the blogs that mention Christian leaders, and I’m one of ‘em. Praise the Lord, I’ve made the Satan, Satan’s hit list now you know, but here’s what blows me away.
You wouldn’t listen to gossip, but you’ll read it. I mean, I have a friend of mine, that made a comment a while back, and it just blew up on the Internet. It blew up. Like he was “changing” his theological position. And really he was saying, ‘our methods are evolving’ but he had to clarify later, ‘my theological position’s not evolving on this issue, but our methods in dealing with people who are in bondage to sin, those are evolving, we’re trying to learn to deal with people who-who suffer with this’.
But on the Internet, everybody had already judged him. And he’s a pastor and he’s a friend of mine. And what upsets me is Christians read filth on the Internet. And they believe it.
And, I, um, you can’t imagine how many people have told me, that ‘this is true,’ “How ya know it’s true? ‘Read it on the Internet’
Anybody can write on the Internet. And the people who write on the Internet are people who would not have a platform, unless they put my name, or Bill Hybels’ name, or T.D. Jakes’ name in it, they wouldn’t have a platform, if they didn’t put someone’s name who already had a platform. Boy, I’m just fired up, I’m telling ya.

So we know you’re reading Rev. Morris. Now if there is something you think is factually wrong in anything you read here, please don’t hesitate to have one of your people get in touch with me.  Like you, I don’t want people to read filth or untrue info.
 

Citing International Call, Robert Morris Tells Another Gateway Church Crowd He is Cutting Back

On the 13th, Robert Morris told his 10:45 am audience that he is cutting back on his preaching at Gateway to the 4 pm service. In August, he told the 12:30 pm Sunday crowd the same thing. Watch:

Transcript:

You’re not seeing me as much as you used to, live that is. But I wanted to actually explain that to you. And so I’ve told the technological guys to not send this service to the other campuses, to go ahead and play the 4 o’clock service from yesterday at the other campuses right now. I’m doing something a little differently, and I’ve found that if someone just explains it to you then you can say, oh, OK, we get that. For a long time as the church began to grow — I started the church when I was 38 — and we grew and had three services and then four services and then five and then we had six services a weekend. Three on Saturday night and three on Sunday morning. Thomas would lead worship for all those services.  It just got very difficult to preach the same message with the same burden and the same intensity, six times a weekend.  Ya know? And so we began video messages.  And then that led us actually to begin our first extension campus which was North Richland Hills.  Which is completely video messages.  And as we’ve gone along, then we started to say we even we had the uh opened this campus here at Southlake, we said, ya know, Pastor Robert will never preach,this came out of the eldership, no, he’ll preach no more than three times a weekend.  And so even though we had five here I would preach the 4 o’clock and then rotate to the rest of the services.  Uh, but that ‘no more than three’ actually in my mind was at least three.  And again, I started the church when I was 38.  I am now fifty (fake cough) years old (laughter) hu-huh, fifty-four and um,I don’t have the strength I used to have.  I don’t have the energy I used to have.
And then, I’m doing other things, like right now I have a, a book deadline.  I preached last week , during the week for vid- on video for them to show to the largest church in America uh, which is Pastor Craig Groeschel Life Church.  They have about 72,000 in attendance each week. Ya know I’ll speak in a while, I mean I’ve got lots of things on my plate you, you understand that.  And I know that God’s called me to not just be the pastor of Gateway Church, but to somehow affect and change the world.  And uh, ya know, this past Thursday was uh a conference call with Dr. Tony Evans and Dr. Ronnie Floyd who’s the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  And we’re talking about bringing pastors together, I think I’ve told you this, to bring pastors together next July to have a solemn assembly where we meet in Cowboy Stadium.  We’re asking 75,000 pastors to come together to pray for our nation.  And uh obviously our nation needs prayer (applause).  So, so there is uh a national and international call on my life as well, and I know that.
But the other thing I realized is, is it sometimesI’ll come at 4 o’clock and I’ll preach and I feel like God puts his hand on it.  And it’s got the anointing of the Holy Spirit on it.  I’ll come back then to another service such as maybe let’s say 10:45 and preach and I  think to myself that wasn’t near as good as  yesterday.  I just wasn’t uh as clear uh, I, I didn’t have as much of a burden as I did yesterday.  I kind of left my burden.  I couldn’t get it back.  And so I wanted you to know if you don’t see me live as much as you used to it’s not because I love you less.  I want you to know that.  It’s because I love you more.  And I really wish you’d hear the guy who spoke yesterday at 4 o’clock because he did a much better job, than I did, ya know,  today.  So ya understand what I’m saying?  So I’ll be, you will not see me as much, even at the Southlake Campus as far as live, but you will hear the word.  And we’ve seen this.  Ya know we have five campuses, 24 services a weekend and we’ve seen these extension campuses grow and some of them I’ve never spoken there live.   But we’ve noticed that God’s Word is not limited by whether the person is live there or not.  God’s Word can come through technology just as strongly.  So I just wanted to explain that to you.  So if you want to, if it’s important to you to see me live, uh then come to the 4 o’clock service.  Or Walmart.  I’m at Walmart a lot (laughter) uh those are my okay so.  One of those you’ll see me alright.

I reported on the “solemn assembly” previously.
This post is a follow up on the earlier post where he announced the same news to the 12:30 pm service. It seems odd to me that he waited a month to tell that audience essentially the same thing.
One wonders what happens to his burden when he is preaching at the other churches (e.g., at Bayside Church in FL on Sunday). No wonder he doesn’t have the energy for his church since he has so much on his plate.
Having said all of that, I know it is not my business how elders of Gateway Church want to spend the tithes of the members who are compelled to give.

Robert Morris Announces Solemn Assembly of 75,000 Pastors at Cowboy Stadium in July 2016

Just in time for the GOP and Dem National Conventions, Robert Morris and friends want to get 75,000 pastors in Dallas’ Cowboy Stadium to pray for the nation. Morris announced the big solemn assembly in his Saturday (8/8/15) sermon at the Southlake campus of Gateway Church. Big names involved include Tony Evans, Sam Rodriguez, and Southern Baptist president Ronnie Floyd. Watch:

Transcript:

You know, I was just standing here thinking, I am really, really glad, to be in church.  I’m just, I just, really enjoyed worship.  And I hope you feel the same way.  Um, I will, just to let all of you know, so you can be in prayer and also so I like for you to know things like this because it’s, we feel like at Gateway Church, obviously we’re part of the body of Christ  and um God has given me a role, in the body of Christ as well. So I’m speaking at the Southlake campus on Saturday, uh but on Sunday morning I will be at Oakcliff Bible Fellowship with Dr Tony Evans tomorrow morning or this morning if you’re watching this Sunday morning, I hope you got all that figured out.  Um, and Dr Evans and I have been talking about for a while along with some other pastors that we feel have given us leadership in the body of Christ to help.  Uh Dr Ronnie Floyd, is one of these on the Executive Committee with us who’s President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Um, Sammy Rodriguez uh who’s the head of uh Hispanic congregations all over the world, over 400, 000 churches.
Uh, we are planning, just so you know, we’ve already got, put the reservations and all.  Next July uh we are calling a solemn assembly and asking 75,000 pastors to join us in Cowboy’s Stadium for a day of prayer for our nation, isn’t that good? (applause)

The national conventions for both parties are also in July. This looks like a perfect occasion to organize for the GOP nominee. The timing makes it seem more like a political event than a prayer meeting. When they are announced, the invited speakers/prayers will make the intentions more clear.

Robert Morris Speaks Conception in Mother's Day Sermon

This weekend, Robert Morris dropped his new book Truly Free at all Gateway Church locations. My understanding is that the book is on “deliverance” or healing illnesses, including mental illness. I intend to scrutinize those sections. This is the book where he claimed to have a “doctorate of literature.”
This is also Mother’s Day weekend. Morris preached a sermon about mothers and ended it with a prayer for women who want a child but have not been able to have one. There are many men and women who loath these days for various reasons and one thing I have learned is that there is almost nothing that makes any of that better other than the next day coming. Because of the sorrow involved, I understand the impulse of a pastor is to do something to demonstrate compassion.
Having said that, I question whether today, or any day, is a good day for this “name it, claim it” intervention.
Morris here (at 1:45) says, “I speak conception”

If you’re desiring, maybe you’re a mother desiring to have another child, that’s fine too.  Or you don’t have a child but if you’re married and you’re desiring to have a child whether it’s another child or a child now would you just stand up.  And ’d like to pray for you.  Would you stand up, just stand up right now at all the campuses.  I know it takes some courage.  I know that and I’m not trying to embarrass you, you know that.  I’m just asking you to respond in faith.  Could we just stretch our hands towards you – if you just look around, again at every campus if you see one of these ladies standing if you’ll just stretch your hands toward them.  Let’s agree in prayer right now.  Hallelujah father, thank you Lord. Lord thank you for these ladies and thank you for the miracles you’ve already performed.  And Lord we know that this desire is not a bad desire, it’s a desire that came from you.  And so Lord I’m asking you right now if there’s anything medically that needs to be healed will you heal it in Jesus’ name.  Lord will you bring healing right now.  And lord I ask you, as scripture says, you opened her womb and she conceived. I’m asking you Lord to open the wombs of these ladies. And I’m asking you Lord to bless them with a full and healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  Lord I ask you in Jesus’ name.  And in Jesus’name, I speak conception, and Lord we thank you and we receive Lord the children are a blessing from the Lord, we receive these as blessings and I bless my sister’s in Christ right now, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

On one level, I enjoy listening to Morris. There usually isn’t much substance, but he is often an entertaining speaker and in this one, he had some good laugh lines. However, I offer this post to get us thinking about offers of healing in the church. In this case, what if a woman didn’t want to stand up? Morris called standing a response “in faith.” Will some women chastise themselves for a lack of faith? What if the reason for infertility is with the woman’s husband? Will Morris save that prayer for Father’s Day? If Morris’ spoken conception doesn’t work for those women standing, then what are we to conclude?
Very interested in reader feedback on this one. Discuss.

Robert Morris: The Yellow One's the Sun

Preachers, think twice before you use other people as illustrations.
Easter Sunday at Gateway Church Robert Morris preached about Jesus as the Son of God (link to the sermon on the Gateway site). He speculated about Jesus and the Father playing catch with the stars and Jesus creating the Earth as his school science project. Apparently Morris delivered the sermon to more than one crowd because the sermon on the website does not appear to be edited. However, in another delivery, Morris added a little joke (apparently a rip-off of Brian Regan) at the expense of the kid in school who isn’t “the brightest kid in class.” Watch:

Now, the depiction of the Trinity is troubling here. Is Jesus God’s little boy?
Readers who have experience with Morris/Gateway: Is it common in sermons to poke fun at less fortunate folks? I don’t want to seem picky but the disabled are stigmatized enough already. I doubt parents of kids with intellectual disabilities saw the humor.
Readers: Am I overreacting or does Rev. Morris owe his audience an apology?

Robert Morris Scrubs Reference to His Doctorate of Literature

Earlier this month, I pointed out that Robert Morris referred to his honorary degree from his own university (The King’s University) as a “doctorate of literature.” This sounds like a real earned doctorate but in his case it is not. Morris has not completed any college degree and has acknowledged using ghostwriters to write his books.
Since that post, Gateway Church’s website has been scrubbed of references to the “doctorate of literature.” For instance, here is the previous church bio, before the post:
RobertMorriswdoctorate
If you go to Morris’ church bio now, you will see that the reference to the doctorate is missing.
Robertmorriswodoctorate
It has disappeared from the Facebook page as well. It does still appear on this Amazon author’s bio as well as a smattering of places around the web. It does not appear on the Gateway website. There has been no comment from Morris or Thomas Nelson just crickets and scrubbing like it was never there.
 
 

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris Claims to Hold a Doctorate of Literature

Robert Morris has built a megachurch in Southlake Texas which has been rated as the third largest church in America.  Given that significant accomplishment, it seems that self-inflation would be unnecessary. However, in his upcoming book published by the Thomas Nelson imprint of HarperCollins Christian, Morris includes a version of his bio which includes a description of a “doctorate of literature” he claims he holds.  See below from the upcoming book, Truly Free:
MorrisDoctorateLiterature
I wrote the church and Thomas Nelson to ask if this “doctorate of literature” was an earned doctorate. Repeated requests were not answered. This “doctorate” is most likely to be an honorary doctorate of letters given to Morris by the small Bible school housed in his church — The King’s University. Morris is currently the chair of the board of the school.
An earlier 2011 bio described Morris’ doctorate as a “doctor of letters” awarded by TKU. This would have been about a year after TKU’s board awarded it to him.
morrisdoctorateletters
This description of the doctor of letters is closer to the reasons why such honorary degrees are given. However, this bio is still misleading. According to Morris, his main work, The Blessed Life, was ghostwritten. He told his Gateway audience in January of this year that a member of Gateway (David Holland), wrote the book based on on recordings which Morris made in a hotel room.  He said the ghostwriter helped him with several books. As it turns out, Morris was given an honorary doctorate for writing books he didn’t actually write.
I understand that many celebrities don’t write their own books, but it is misleading to consider those celebrities to be accomplished writers. They may have good ideas and have enough money to afford to pay a good writer but those books aren’t representative of the author’s writing ability when the listed author didn’t write them.
So in his new book published by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian (as well as the bio on the church website), Morris claims to hold a doctorate of literature when in fact, he was given an honorary doctorate from his own school for books he didn’t write.
When it was discovered that Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage achieved New York Times best seller status via a marketing scheme, Driscoll stopped using “NYTs best selling author” as a description. That was a commendable move. Of course, the proper thing to do for both publisher and author is to present an accurate description to the public.
The ongoing story of Christian authors embellishing their reputations demonstrates the importance Christian leaders place on peripheral persuasion. Perceived expertise is one of several powerful factors operating via the peripheral route to persuasion. Persuasion theory posits two primary routes to persuasion — central and peripheral. In central route strategies, the persuader offers facts and figures with accuracy being important. An assumption is made that the audience is motivated to carefully consider arguments for and against a proposition.
However, in peripheral route strategies, the assumption is that the audience isn’t highly invested in the process but will nonetheless make a decision or render an opinion. Peripheral route tactics influence people to say yes or make a decision for reasons other than the merits of the case. In the situation above, the publisher and author have embellished credentials to communicate expertise in the service of selling books. There may be more personal motives but the effect is that audience members who are motivated by perceived expertise will attribute expertise to Morris due to the embellishments.
Unfortunately, it appears these kind of tactics are embedded features of evangelical and conservative expressions of Christianity.
UPDATE: Just found this article by Phil Cooke on honorary degrees. Bottom line: One should not refer to the degree as if it was earned, or use Dr. in reference to oneself unless one has an earned doctorate.

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris: Jesus is God's Tithe and You Might Need to Downsize to Tithe

The man God asks ‘would that be all right with you?’ (according to Jack Hayford), Robert Morris, is teaching on tithing right now at Gateway Church. In the most important message of The Blessed Life series (his words), Morris says Jesus is God’s tithe and invites his congregation to sell stuff to give to the church.
First Jesus is God’s Tithe.

Jesus gets demoted in this teaching. Instead of Jesus being the “fullness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. 2:9), He is God’s ten percent offering. A question I have is: To whom is God giving His tithe?
Near the end of the sermon, Morris tells his flock that they may need to sell some things to get things right.
[dailymotion]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2fkftz_gateway-church-robert-morris-sell-assets-downsize-your-lifestyle-give-me-the-money_fun[/dailymotion]
“Maybe you need to make some lifestyle changes to do it, maybe you need to sell something to do it, or downsize to do it,” Morris pleads, “Bring it to the house of God.”
I don’t believe we are under the Old Testament law as Christians so I reject teaching on tithing as a legalistic commitment. Morris’ teaching elevates tithing to a requirement which triggers God’s hand. Tithe and you have the Blessed Life. According to Morris, tithing is so important that God used the atonement to teach that God wants your money.
I suspect it does cost a lot to keep up the Retreat Center at Possum Kingdom maintained by the Robert Morris Evangelistic Association.
RMEA 2013 Retreat Use