Newfrontiers : TOAM

So it is that time of year again. New Frontiers have their annual conference at Brighton called TOAM (I think it stands for "Tragically Only Alpha Males" or something similar).

Worth looking at their main speakers (6 men), oh well maybe not then.

Lets try their leadership track speakers. There are 33 of which 29 are men and 4 women. Great, some progress you might think. The four women are:

  • Liz Holden
  • Beverley Landreth-Smith
  • Ashleigh Smyth
  • Wendy Virgo

However, before we get too excited:

  • all 4 women are the wives of New Frontiers Pastors, all but 1 (Beverley Landreth-Smith) have their husband as a speaker at TOAM. Clearly it is only ok for Beverley to speak without her husband speaking as well because we are reassured "Beverley has a passion for gathering women for days together, and has organised a number of women's conferences in the Home Counties region" – so quite safe, she only talks to women.
  • 3 of the women (all but Ashleigh Smyth) are speaking in the track for women (wonder which men will go to check that what they say is ok).
  • Ashleigh is supporting her husband in the track about marriage and parenting (probably playing a key role in the session on submission and sex).

On the other hand, trying to be fair, Kate Simmonds (Australia) is listed first as one of their Worship Leaders. Better hope she does not try to sneak in any teaching in that worship.

As usual New Frontiers keep as quiet as they can in public about their policies on gender. I could not find anything specifically about their policies on the TOAM website. So as usual it all has to be done by looking at the outcomes. 

So far that does not look good but I'll try to track blogs to see what I can glean (note I don't generally bother watching video as it just takes too long and is hard to quote and respond to).

In the past, so far as I am aware, nobody has reported on any TOAM session led by a woman. I hope that this year that might change, although given the sessions timetable I don't expect to find any such sessions very edifying.

51 thoughts on “Newfrontiers : TOAM

  1. J. Plumlee

    I like your humorous touch here. It takes the edge of a serious issue.
    For some time now I have been following your blog from across the big pond. To be more precise, from the windy city of Chicago. I discovered your blog when I did a search for articles on submissive wives.
    Thanks for bringing this issue to the attention of your readers.

    Reply
  2. Tel

    David,
    Just wondering why you are always keen to critcise (attack, even) New Frontiers in general, and Adrian Warnock in particular.
    It’s clear that they have a different church understanding than you hold, but then again, many other Christians hold similar views. The Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Churches, large parts of the C of E, for example. Why just New Frontiers?
    Actually, I am not complaining, because your links have led me to some excellent teachings on their site, but I am just a bit sad about your critical attitude shown towards fellow Christians.
    You should know that I share your views on gender issues, but I don’t think NF are necessarily deserving of your constant attacks, sorry.
    By the way, on this occasion, your links don’t work!
    T

    Reply
  3. Charity

    Hi David,
    Apparently, according to Adrian’s”>http://adrianwarnock.com/2010/07/toam-eleven-things-that-cant-be-blogged/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AdrianWarnocksUkEvangelicalBlog+%28adrianwarnock.com%29>Adrian’s most recent blogpost PJ and Ashleigh Smyth’s seminar has been cancelled, but no reason is given for this. So all is well, the women are just teaching the women!
    Your links work perfectly well for me, by the way.
    Charity

    Reply
  4. Charity

    Hi David,
    Apparently, according to Adrian’s most recent blogpost PJ and Ashleigh Smyth’s seminar has been cancelled, but no reason is given for this. So all is well, the women are just teaching the women!
    Your links work perfectly well for me, by the way.
    Charity

    Reply
  5. Dave

    Simon, Thanks for that hope his recovery goes well.
    Tel, When the widow kept bothering the Judge do you think those around might have got irritated.

    Reply
  6. Dave

    Tel,
    a) no time to do everything
    b) they concern me more than others due to trying to hide what they think. Plus being more aggressive
    Adrian because he is such a public spokesperson for them. Plus also tries to hide reality of what he thinks.

    Reply
  7. Simon

    Surely it’s more an issue of you thinking they think something different to what they think they think?

    Reply
  8. Eutychus

    Simon – no. It’s a question of what they do not being what it says on the packet whilst simultaneously making a distinctive value out of being open, honest, and relationship-based.
    The rank and file might not spot that, but the ones at the top most certainly know.
    Read the link in my sig for more.

    Reply
  9. Tel

    Whatever it is, I think it is always sad when Christians end up attacking each other, or looking down on other Christians, on the basis of interpretation of doctrine. There are gazillions of Christians around the world who belong to a denomination where only males are ‘in charge’. What’s more, that was the position of Methodism until relatively recently.
    New Frontiers may not be perfect (who is?), but there is no doubt that God is blessing their work. I wish them well, as I do for my Roman Catholic friends, even though they may also be ‘tragically only alpha males’.
    T

    Reply
  10. Dave

    Tel,
    You do make a key point here but I don’t think you realise it :-)
    “There are gazillions of Christians around the world who belong to a denomination where only males are ‘in charge’.”
    The key about New Frontiers is that this is not just in the denomination but very much so within the home/marriage as well. Just go and read it. Then compare to the Catholics and see there are significant differences. That is why I focus on this (just as others focus elsewhere).
    This is not about perfection is it about basic justice.
    If some were late joining the fight against slavery does that mean they could not campaign once they joined? The direction of change is important and New Frontiers are pushing an agenda for change away from equality very hard.

    Reply
  11. Tel

    Trouble is that you are making it personal, and some of your comments have been somewhat ungracious.
    It always strikes me as perverse that it is often those from a liberal persuasion who are the most intolerant of other people’s beliefs and practices.
    And yes, I did read your post about “right and wrong”, and I didn’t really agree with much of that either.
    Still, that’s the joy of being in a broad church ;)

    Reply
  12. Dave

    Tel,
    I still have a lot of learning and growing to do.
    I would not apply the label liberal to myself.
    I struggle a lot with the idea of being tolerant of other peoples beliefs and practices that are themselves intolerant. To what extent should we tolerate intolerance?
    Not sure which other post you mean, but I am sure you disagree with many of them :-)

    Reply
  13. Tel

    Actually, more often than not, you make a lot of sense. It’s just the bicyclist, inclusivist, pro-gay, anti-New Frontier stuff which irks somewhat. Come to think of it, when you exclude that lot, there’s not much left!
    Still, 42 remains a must-read, so keep up the good work! ;)

    Reply
  14. Dave

    “the bicyclist, inclusivist, pro-gay, anti-New Frontier stuff”
    I know. The gospel is irritatingly challenging isn’t it ;-)

    Reply
  15. Hannah

    I’ve been quietly observing through Twitter and blogs what’s been happening this week and have been disappointed to note that yet again, all the tweeting and blogging going on from TOAM is, for the most part, from men. When you look at the lists of speakers and people tweeting from the event and bloggers etc etc they all start to look depressingly similar. Obviously there are a handful of women tweeting and talking about it but it’s really noticeable how women seem to be pretty silent/in the background over the whole thing.
    I was watching some YouTube footage of one of the old NFI bible weeks from the 80s and it was interesting to compare and contrast with today! So many women wearing headcoverings back then, for one thing – and a lot of restorationism (practically amounted to complete dismissmal of other denominations which rankled somewhat).

    Reply
  16. bello

    newsflash:New frontiers do things differently to methodists.
    God is blessing the movement. Get over it!
    I can’t believe a church leader is using his blog to troll newfrontiers all the time.

    Reply
  17. Mad

    Bello,
    As someone who is in a NF church I am pleased that Dave raises issues about Nf on his blog beacuse I agree with him Issues to do with the role of women are not debated within the church even though I know many have similar concerns. I keep praying that one day things will change.

    Reply
  18. Ruth

    Hi,
    I am a female who has just come back from TOAM in Brighton. I was blessed and edified. Before you slander a movement of God, you should look into it properly. We are taught from the Bible that women and men are equal in God’s eyes but have different roles – which is biologically clear in the fact that women have babies and men don’t, among other differences. I have been on a year training programme where both male and female are raised up as leaders and have biblical training. New Frontiers are more concerned about being Biblically based and preaching the gospel than compromising biblical standards for the sake of culture or popularity.
    It is sad to see such slander coming from a minister (I assume this from your picture). I pray God’s blessing on the Methodist church, despite some difference of opinion – as long as the foundation of Jesus being the Son of God, saving us by his grace, remain the same, we are not in competition but are serving the same God.

    Reply
  19. Dave

    Ruth,
    I am so glad you were blessed and edified by TOAM. I can’t see what I have written that would give you any idea that I would think otherwise.
    I totally agree that women and men are equal. Maybe you can explain to me how the line up of speakers at TOAM demonstrates that.
    Maybe you could also point me to some women who are leaders within New Frontiers. I don’t understand how that could fit with Wendy Virgo’s book from last year. That makes it clear that women cannot be leaders but are there to support men.
    I reject your view that because women can have babies they should have different roles in the Church, that does not come from Scripture and is not supported by experience in Churches that encourage women as equals nor in other spheres of life.
    You are clearly unaware of booth the huge biblical basis for equality and the wonderful biblical preaching from many women.
    Claims that other Churches have “compromised biblical standards for the sake of culture or popularity” are not made true by repetition. There is plenty on here demonstrating the opposite. I recommend exploring other viewpoints, even those of other women in New Frontiers.
    PS Slander is verbal, Libel is written

    Reply
  20. fat prophet

    I have watched this conversation with some degree of interest because for me I am always tempted to ask a very important question.
    The questions is quite simply ‘Who was the first person to preach the gospel of the risen Lord? and what gender was She? I think I should say I rest my case!

    Reply
  21. Dave

    Ruth,
    To put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) I recommend that you take a look at an example of how God is at work in the women who are full leaders in the Methodist Church.
    Sally, a friend and a Methodist Minister with full pastoral charge of several churches, shared this tonight: An encounter with God….. I find it so exciting to celebrate how God is calling and equipping women in leadership within the Church.
    I hope that one day New Frontiers will allow the women that God is calling within them to fully respond to that call.

    Reply
  22. Adrian warnock

    Dave, you didn’t catch me at a good time this time. There is no conspiracy, PJ was taken down sick just before the conference and diagnosed with cancer. Thats what those sessions were canceled. I tire of these conversations to be honest. I find it insulting that you continue to Insist on asserting that complentarianism leads to domestic violence, automatically demeans women, is a modern import from the USA, and is totally without support in the Bible. All of those statements are blatant untruths. As far as women having value, significant leadership roles, sharing the gospel with men and women, being liberated and valued, and the genders relating together as equals I could not be more strongly in favour. The women in our churches tend to be totally released and happy to serve the Lord together. And no, I don’t just mean the married women either. What astonished me is that people who claim to be Christian can be so intolerant of dissent. As this is an area where genuine Christians disagree we should be gracious towards ome another and accept one another without laying aside our convictions. I almost get the feeling that you would like to ban churches that differ from you on this. Prehaps you would rejoice in removing the freedom of religious beliefs and practice this nation has enjoyed. I wonder if you would be happy to see Catholics, Muslims, many Anglicans, and countless others become illegal In this nation. Can’t we all just agree to disagree on this? Cant you do us the decency of not claiming we believe something we don’t ? Are we really your enemy? Should Christians not endeavor to treat each other as siblings?

    Reply
  23. Blue, with a hint of amber

    Dave: Claims that other Churches have “compromised biblical standards for the sake of culture or popularity” are not made true by repetition.
    Nor are just about all the claims you regularly make about complimentarian teaching / churches.
    Adrian: Are we really your enemy?
    Having read this blog for a couple of years, I think the only reasonable answer from Dave is a very definite “yes”.
    The equivalent to modern day slave owners who need to be overcome.
    The wonderful godly women in the Methodist Church serving God, being used by Him and released into their gifting are a sign Dave is right.
    The wonderful godly women within newfrontiers serving God, being used by Him and released into their gifting evidently either do not exist, or are somehow worth less.
    Even at it’s base level having a bit of egalitarian back slapping (Comments 4,5,6) about a seminar being cancelled before finding the person doing it is having an operation for suspected cancer is a pretty low ebb.

    Reply
  24. Dave

    Adrian,
    I want to respond, point by point.
    “There is no conspiracy, PJ was taken down sick just before the conference and diagnosed with cancer. Thats what those sessions were canceled.”
    If you read what I said about the cancelled session my only comment was to wish PJ well for recovery. I would never attack anyone over cancer nor would I expect or want Ashleigh to do anything but stay with her husband in those circumstances.
    “I find it insulting that you continue to Insist on asserting that complentarianism”
    Sorry I will not use the term complementarianism, I find it offensive and an attempt to decieve. Complementarianism is a made up marketing term. We are talking about male headship.
    “leads to domestic violence” Then respond to my many posts that point to evidence that this is the case. Show you understand power dynamics and can demonstrate (against all the evidence) thahighlyt institutionalised powerlessness does not make violence more likely.
    “automatically demeans women” your evidence? We can line up many many women who, will describe their experience of being demeaned by male headship. You have ignored plenty of comments here by women in the past – try asking them.
    “is a modern import from the USA” As a start look at all the people you quote for male headship on your blog (Mark Driscoll, Soverign Grace, T4G, …).
    “is totally without support in the Bible.”
    Deborah, Junia, Priscilla, Mary(s), Phoebe, Esther, Ruth, … There are plenty of scholarly studies that explore the Biblical evidence. To claim there is no support is totally disingenuous.
    “As far as women having value, significant leadership roles, sharing the gospel with men and women, being liberated and valued, and the genders relating together as equals I could not be more strongly in favour”
    Show me. Where are they? Where were they speaking at TOAM? Which Churches are they leading? Where are they on the New Frontiers theology papers? Where are they in the New Frontiers leadership? Where is there anything anywhere on your blog demonstrating this claim?
    “The women in our churches tend to be totally released and happy to serve the Lord together.” What about the many who have commented here who do not feel this, are they lying, or don’t they count because they are women. You never respond to their comments – why?
    “What astonished me is that people who claim to be Christian can be so intolerant of dissent.” as for example where you have called Steve Chalke a blasphemer? Where T4G, who you support, claim that anyone allowing women to be equals damages the gospel. Where is your tolerance of dissent from your view?
    “I almost get the feeling” what on earth does that mean? I don’t get that feeling at all.
    “Can’t we all just agree to disagree on this?” On what? Whether New Frontiers are open and honest about their belief in Male Headship? Whether it is an oxymoron to claim equality and different roles?
    “Cant you do us the decency of not claiming we believe something we don’t ?”
    - I claim you believe in male headship (and I take that directly from what you say, although I admit I won’t dress it up with the mariketing term complementarianism). Is that wrong?
    - I claim that TOAM had no women as speakers except as detailed in my original post above. Is that wrong?
    - I claim that New Frontiers tries to keep very quiet on it’s views of women but that we can see the real view through the behaviour and the leadership. Is that wrong?

    Reply
  25. Blue, with a hint of amber

    If newfrontiers “keep very quiet” about their position on gender, then why is it so well known?
    Why does it feature prominently in their books, magazines, articles? And in their recent “values” series?
    Almost every time Terry Virgo is interviewed in any Christian media it is one of the questions.
    How is it “hidden”?

    Reply
  26. Dave

    Bwahoa,
    “Nor are just about all the claims you regularly make about complimentarian teaching / churches.”
    You mean, two repetitions do not make an argument.
    I agree. I am always willing to discuss specifics. Try me.
    “Adrian: Are we really your enemy?
    Having read this blog for a couple of years, I think the only reasonable answer from Dave is a very definite “yes”.”

    I try hard (but admit I do not always succeed) to make it clear that the enemy is the view not the person holding the view. I agree that is hard when we feel passionate about things and I know I respond when I see injustice and attitudes that do not seem to care about that injustice.
    “The equivalent to modern day slave owners who need to be overcome.”
    No. It is more the equivalent of the slave trade not the slave owners.
    When one person, Adrian, stands as the most visible advocate of male headship within New Frontiers it is not surprising that his statements attract attention.
    “The wonderful godly women in the Methodist Church serving God, being used by Him and released into their gifting are a sign Dave is right.” Do you claim that is not the case?
    “The wonderful godly women within newfrontiers serving God, being used by Him and released into their gifting evidently either do not exist, or are somehow worth less.” Where are they? They were not speaking at TOAM, they are not in the leadership of New Frontiers? Adrian has not linked to them or celebrated them.
    But more than the positives. we need to consider the negatives. There are plenty of women who comment here and write elsewhere whose gifts have not been welcomed in new Frontiers, what about their voice?
    “Even at it’s base level having a bit of egalitarian back slapping (Comments 4,5,6) about a seminar being cancelled before finding the person doing it is having an operation for suspected cancer is a pretty low ebb.”
    Please note that I have a very open policy on comments. It is very rare for me to edit or delete them. So comments do not always reflect my views. You can see there are many negative comments about me (such as Ruth above).
    You will find my only comment on that subject was to wish PJ well for a full recovery.

    Reply
  27. Dave

    Bwahoa,
    “If newfrontiers “keep very quiet” about their position on gender, then why is it so well known?”
    1. relook at my post sometime earlier about the New Frontiers website and this issue.
    2. Look at what you wrote in an earlier comment about all the wonderful things women are doing in New Frontiers. You are not alone in trying to hide the restrictions on women by talking up what they are allowed to do.
    3. Look at the stuff for TOAM and my original post above. There is no public statement that women can’t speak (and many claims they can) you have to dig through the lists of speakers and the programme to notice there are no women speakers, then you have to ask why and then you get attacked for slander etc. This is aggressively hidden, to uncover it you have to risk being accused even by your friends of being a pretty horrible person.
    4. It is hidden because male headship is very carefully marketed as complementarianism.

    Reply
  28. Blue, with a hint of amber

    You will find my only comment on that subject was to wish PJ well for a full recovery.
    My concern is it does shed some light on the kind of attitudes that are being stirred up. “Ha, ha, something has gone wrong for them”, whatever it was, illness, travel, it was unknown, is unkind.
    Do you claim that is not the case?
    Of course I don’t. There are women in my Church who lead, shape, encourage, care for, teach etc. Why would I think they wouldn’t do it in yours? Your paradigm and Church government are different, your definition of leadership, membership, eldership is different, the way you do the sacraments is different but the gifts are there.
    Am i right in thinking in an Anglican Church with a female vicar only she (and a few others) can lead the communion? Is that the same for Methodists? In our Church any woman member could lead the communion (and several have / do).
    “Where are they?”
    Well a couple of thousand of them were at the conference. Tell you what Dave: next year, if you can, come along for a day? Or why not visit the church in Leicester? Or Nottingham?
    But more than the positives. we need to consider the negatives. There are plenty of women who comment here and write elsewhere whose gifts have not been welcomed in new Frontiers, what about their voice?
    What about all the evangelicals who comment here and elsewhere who feel marginalised and driven out of the Methodist Church? What about their voice? How does that compare with your experience / vision for the Methodists?
    I am certain that there are both men and women who felt their gifts were not “welcome” in newfrontiers. Just like a newfrontiers elder I know well was a former Methodist circuit preacher.

    Reply
  29. Dave

    Bwahoa,
    Just one more point before I go to the dentist.
    You will notice that the comnents very quickly accused me of personal attacks on Adrian, as has Adrian. So go back and read the original post – no mention of Adrian at all.
    It is not me accusing anyone of slander. Stop playing victim and look at the tactics male headship supporters use.

    Reply
  30. Dave

    Bwahoa,
    (distracting myself from sounds & smells in waiting room at dentist)
    All your claims for what women do in New Frontiers are meaningless as you believe in Male Headship. For you roles in church, family & society are restricted by gender. That is what you do not like to say clearly.
    Comparisons to evangelical in Methodist Church are ridiculous. Look at Martyn Atkins our general secretary. Some may choose to leave because others do not agree with them. But there are no restrictions on their role.

    Reply
  31. Dave

    Bwahoa,
    read your blog posts over the last 12 months and tell me you don’t attack Adrian.”
    I don’t feel I attack Adrian, yes I disagree vehemently with a great deal of his views particularly on what makes an evangelical, penal substitution, gender and sexuality. I am not hesitant in saying so.
    If you believe that disagreeing is the same as attacking then maybe you are right.
    I would point out that unlike Adrian I do not call people blasphemers or heretics for disagreeing with me, nor do I decide for other people that they are not evangelicals.
    Nor do I use debating tactics such as – “I almost get the feeling” something that you have never said or implied and which completely contradicts what you have actually written in the past.
    Yes maybe he is the individual I disagree with most, that is in part because it annoys me the way he completely ignores any views different to his own. maybe it is also because of the way he makes sweeping statements about everyone/all that winds me up. Maybe it is because there are so many areas of disagreement. Maybe because I focus more on UK individuals. Maybe because of the number of emails I get from women who have or are struggling with their assigned roles in New Frontiers.
    Oh and if you look beyond 42 at my twitter feed where more is happening these days, you will see that Adrian is not particularly singled out.
    Whatever, I am not about to make big changes to what I do.

    Reply
  32. Blue, with a hint of amber

    I guess that is where the purpose or style or theme of a blog becomes apparent.
    If this blog is “My life, the universe and everything” then Adrian Warnock must be either a big part of your life, or a big part of the universe!
    I am afraid I have not entered the world of Twitter yet, maybe one day.

    Reply
  33. Sue

    This blog is a ray of sunlight in a dark room. I nodded, smiled and taught kid’s clubs for 30 years. I was released to serve and visibly participated. I looked like I was okay.
    But underneath, I lived through hell – as a slave. I appreciate anyone at all that takes a stand against male headship. While I was in the situation I could not say a peep against it.
    Now that I don’t have to deal with it, my life has begun.
    Thank you, Dave. You know the other sites, Submission Tyranny, Women Submit, Emotional Abuse and Your Faith, No Longer Quivering,

    Reply
  34. Charity

    I’ve just caught up with the comments on here after several days not reading due to family circumstances. I’m sorry, Dave, that I have attracted negative feeling towards you, for originally posting that the seminar had been cancelled. I read that on Adrian’s blog and it is true that no explanation was given. I’m sorry that my sarcastic tone has caused hurt to some people given the actual reasons, but I had no way of knowing those reasons at the time I wrote the comment which was my immediate reaction to discovering the cancellation just after I had read this blog post. If it has caused hurt to Ashleigh or PJ then I will have no problem apologising to them for that.
    BWAHOA, I would also like to point out that it appears to me that Dave says a lot on his blog in reaction to Adrian’s because Adrian does not allow comments on his blog. The only way to respond to Adrian is to write your own blog post as it is impossible to interact with him on his blog. I’m sure this makes Dave’s blog seem a lot more antagonistic to NewFrontiers that would otherwise be the case. I for one get a lot of comfort from reading his blog.

    Reply
  35. Dave

    Hi Charity,
    Timing is something that people often ignore when reading blogs/comments. We all tend to read thinking that those writing had the same knowledge as we do now. Sadly at times that leads people to make poor assumptions such as the assumption that you knew of PJ’s situation when you posted.
    Thanks for your support.

    Reply
  36. Adrian Warnock

    Charity, Thanks for your kind comments about the seminar situation. I was actually deliberate about not mentioning the reason why the seminar was cancelled. The situation was evolving so rapidly (the first doctors appointment was just before they planned to leave, the lump removed during the conference, and the diagnosis shared by Terry in the last session having been texted by PJ on his return home from the Doctors during the worship time. I wanted to avoid my blog being the place people close to them found out about it. I am sorry if I implied you knew what was happening when you made your comments, I just wanted people to understand that there was no conspiracy. I was looking forward to listening to them both this year, but we have to believe that the sovereignty of God was involved with the timing of this trial for my friends.

    Reply
  37. Charity

    Thank you for your apology, Adrian. I don’t think anybody had suggested or thought there might be a conspiracy! Praying for PJ and Ashleigh…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>