Monday, December 15, 2008

Watch Emmanuel's Christmas Pageant LIVE!

Watch the sixth of seven performances of Emmanuel Baptist Church's 35th Annual Christmas Pageant. Broadcast will be Tuesday night, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. Click here to register.


New BBC Open Forum said...

Just curious. Is your church charging the people who attend? What is your opinion about churches charging people to attend their Christmas and Easter programs? said...

We don't charge.

I really have no opinion on churches that do.


New BBC Open Forum said...

No opinion about churches that charge people to hear the gospel? Wow.

I'm glad your church doesn't charge and I'll try to tune in tomorrow. If a church has to charge to present a Christmas or Easter program, they need to scale back the program.

Bellevue Baptist in Memphis will be streaming their Singing Christmas Tree production live tomorrow and Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. CST on 316Networks or through Bellevue's website. That's free, but if you want to see it in person you have to buy a ticket, and once there, you'll be encouraged to pony up a voluntary donation.

Anonymous said...

I just cannot pass this know I love your blog and have learned so much from you and so totally respect take this as a joke...but i thought my computer had malfunctioned...Wade Burleson, no opinion...did I read that right? HA!


Anonymous said...

New BBC, the "donation you are asked to pony up" is normally referred to as an "offering." Happens as often as having food in most So. Baptist churches. :)

John Daly said...

If there's food being served I can see a charge for members but never for visitors.

Jake Barker said...

The program must be good. My wife and I were in Enid, Sunday afternoon and Emmanuel's parking lot was packed full....even had folks directing the parking. It was hard to believe the number of folks at a church on a Sunday mid-afternoon.

Bob Cleveland said...

I've always felt that a refusal to form an opinion as to someone else's actions, to which you are not a party, is the essence of "judge not...".

Scott Shaffer said...


I think it is quite possible to form an opinion without judging, at least in the sense Jesus meant, but it is impossible to judge someone without first forming an opinion.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Bob: I've always felt that a refusal to form an opinion as to someone else's actions, to which you are not a party, is the essence of "judge not...".

Well, I am "not a party" to the thousands of abortions performed every day in this country. However, I do have a very strong opinion that abortion is wrong. Matthew 7:1 has to be one of the most misinterpreted and misused verses in the Bible. By your definition and that of most of the world, having an opinion regarding right and wrong makes one "judgmental."

Alan Paul said...

Wow. Baptists will find ANYTHING to argue about and play one upsmanship over- even a simple ad for a church event. How sad.

Anonymous said...

New BBC open Forum,

After reading your blog, and if I am to assume that all of this stuff is true, your church I must say is a disgrace to the convention.

That being said, I thought the interpretive dance was awesome. I would most certainly allow it in my church and could only hope my kids did as good a job. But if not and if their hearts were in the right place then glory be to God.

But seriously. What is up with the people at BBC? Are they happy that their pastor is another Patterson/Brunson type? Funny that I never heard in Expository Preaching class an illustration like that of the dining room set. While the son preached against Osteen, the father preaches "Jesus wants to bless you."

I like Wade, have no opinion either on the inappropriateness of charging people to attend a worship service to the Living God in Heaven.


New BBC Open Forum said...

Anon 9:30,

No, the word used was "donation." I didn't hear the word "offering" one time.


There is no food, and everyone, member and visitor alike, has to purchase a ticket.

In past years they've offered 10 complimentary sponsor tickets to each member to distribute in the workplace and community. (Last year that number was cut to 8.) Anyone could show up before each performance without a ticket and be seated for free. But so many people have left Bellevue and with the economy on the downturn the money is drying up, so they decided to charge everyone. Never mind that there have been plenty of empty seats left for every performance. Anyone who wanders in still has to purchase a ticket. Based upon the number of tickets left as of one week ago, the number of seats in the auditorium, and the number of performances, someone estimated they'd already taken in around $440,000. (Bet that got the attention of some of you guys!) That number has certainly gone up since then as more tickets have been sold.

Last year and this year the setting was New York's Rockefeller Center. The "drama" is so corny, disjointed, and badly acted it's painfully embarrassing to watch, much less think of guests watching. One of the main characters is an Italian chef named Luigi who runs around wearing a bushy, fake mustache, jabbering in a thick Italian accent.

This year they grounded the flying angels, which was probably the only big cost (for the tracks and rigging which they rented every year) since they reuse the sets from year to year, and now the angels just come out on the stage and cavort around.

The cast and crew are all volunteers. In fact, open auditions were held -- for anyone in the community. There are many non-members and even non-Christians participating. It's more like a community theater production.

Gone are Mary and Joseph except for two brief appearances with an infant and then a toddler. Gone is the whole wise men/kings procession which used to be one of the highlights as a long procession of kings, wise men, and attendants in beautiful costumes wound their way through the audience to the accompaniment of stirring music and onto the stage to bow before Jesus. This year they simply cut from NYC to Mary and Joseph standing there with the toddler Jesus, and three or four wise men who apparently stealthily walk on from the side of the stage where they're seen bowing in front of young Jesus with the modern day characters milling around them. It's more like a postcard than a presence, and if one didn't already know the story, he would have no idea what any of it means. It makes no sense.

Almost all the beautiful, traditional songs are gone (Handel's Hallelujah Chorus remains for now), replaced by tuneless, unrecognizable numbers and irreverently jazzed-up versions of old songs (e.g. Joy to the World and No Room) which now sound like something you'd hear in a lounge act rather than a church.

The soul-stirring Mary/Joseph/angel trio singing Hail, Favored One is gone. Two angels are lowered from the ceiling in front, a boy, then a girl, but they don't seem to be connected to anything. The boy angel is hanging in front of the windows of Rockefeller Center which just looks ridiculous. He would have looked more at home up there in a Superman outfit and cape. In fact, Joseph might as well be gone altogether since all he does is stand there and smile. Mary sings an unfamiliar duet with one of the modern characters. That doesn't make sense either. So much of what made the production about the true meaning of Christmas is gone or greatly scaled back and has been replaced by senseless, cornball skits by modern-day characters and endless dance routines.

This is the complete text of how the production is described in the promotional materials:

A chill is in the air. The department store windows are decked out with imaginative displays capturing the excitement of the season. In Rockefeller Center, the biggest Christmas tree you’ve ever seen is glowing with lights. There’s no place like New York City at Christmas, and the 2008 Singing Christmas Tree will once again bring a New York City-sized celebration right here to Bellevue. Join Kate, Luigi, and the cast for an unforgettable musical celebration.

Hello? This could just as easily be the promo for a Broadway show. No doubt Kate, Luigi, and all the other characters and dancers will be there every night. What a shame there's so little room left for JESUS, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men, shepherds, and angels.

Re tickets: from Bellevue's website...

This year, tickets are required for admission to the Singing Christmas Tree. If you do not have a ticket when you come to the presentation, you will need to go to the Events Registration Center to obtain one. Non-ticket holders will not be allowed to fill empty seats when the presentation begins. Don’t take a chance on seats being available.

Complimentary (free) tickets will not be available. Tickets are now available at three price levels: $3, $6, and $12 instead of $10 across the board as in the past. While there are no complimentary seats, there are seats at a much lower price point than in years past.

Funny they had to explain that "complimentary" means "free." First of all, it's never been $10 "across the board." The $10 seats were what are now mostly "gold" and "silver" level seats, for sponsors or for anyone who wanted to reserve a particular seat. The "common folk" generally got in free.

Second, the whole (stated) point of the SCT has been to share the gospel with those in the community who otherwise might not hear it. Isn't it great that Jesus didn't think of charging the people who came to hear him speak! I'm reminded of this story someone related about the SCT from two years ago:

Remember the story of the single mom with two girls, who was homeless, had a car and was driving from Texas to family in Kentucky maybe. Her car broke down somewhere near the crosses [on I-40], and she walked into BBC on the night of the performance. They of course let her in, she was saved, as was one of her daughters I think. They gave her food, got her a hotel for the night, got her car fixed, and gave her money for the road. This year, no such story will we hear. Because she won't be let in.

What is our world coming to when churches won't even present the gospel without charging for it? How does anyone come up with such an idea and NO one stands up to tell them they are a fool? Scary!!

Scary, indeed.

(Word verification: trashily. Pretty apt description of some of the caliber of some of the performances in this year's SCT.)

Looking forward to seeing the performance from Enid tonight!

John Daly said...

Uhhh, BBC, might be time for a new fellowship to attend. I like going to the live Nativity scenes, you really can't be the realism. Although it's a little strange seeing Joseph & Mary change shifts every 15 minutes :)

New BBC Open Forum said...

"What is up with the people at BBC? Are they happy that their pastor is another Patterson/Brunson type?"


I don't want to hijack Wade's blog with the issues at Bellevue. (The SCT was on topic. The rest of the BBC mess is not, at least not in this thread.) Apparently many of the people left are either content or just holding on and afraid to speak out. You're welcome to come over to our blog to continue this particular discussion.

The dining room furniture story was... ummm... different, huh?

New BBC Open Forum said...


LOL! Ya think?

Anonymous said...

BBC - Hearing one side of the story certainly makes the church sound as if they have made a series of bad decisions. I was going to suggest you find another place to fellowship as did NV.

However, since you have since given the impression that you have already left or soon will be leaving, my attention instead turns to you as I wonder why you feel it is appropriate to speak of the church as you have when you are not attending there or soon will not be attending there?

I think you and that congregation need a 4 week series (every service) delivered by John Piper.

And then do it again the next 4 weeks.


Bob Cleveland said...


No disagreement, but BBC expressed disdain, disbelief, or dissomething that Wade expressed no opinion about those other churches.

Failure to have an opinion on something like that is more to be admired than questioned..

Anonymous said...

I attended the second performance Sunday! Packed out and excellent!

We came Tuesday night last year and couldn't find a seat. I don't think that will be a problem tonight. Hope there are some who come. Roads are HORRIBLE and ice covered. Please be careful one and all cast members. I'll be watching.

Tue Dec 16, 08:48:00 PM 2008

New BBC Open Forum said...


At least you put it more kindly than most. After Steve Gaines ran roughshod over what was formerly a thriving church, one of the most commonly heard phrases there, including from the pulpit, was... "If you don't like it, leave." This to people who'd been there 20, 30, 40, 50 years or longer. People who helped build that church (lower case "c") through their offerings, time, sweat, and sacrifices. People who weren't opposed to change (it's not "all about the music"), but people who recognized that something was terribly wrong.

"I wonder why you feel it is appropriate to speak of the church as you have when you are not attending there or soon will not be attending there?"

Oh, I don't know. Maybe for some of the same reasons Wade still speaks of the IMB. Or maybe I'm just eeeeeeevil! Please refrain from questioning my motives when you know nothing of the situation. If I didn't know better I might think you were judging me.

Sorry, I'm not a fan of John Piper, but thank you for your thoughts.

John Daly said...

Okay I'm currently watching, is anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Yep. Doug from Japan

Anonymous said...

I don't know that people watching would be on the blog. Two separate sites.

Zack Barnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Working on my computer.

Watching it live now.

Anonymous said...

Carol from Panama City.

Anonymous said...


Really enjoying it.

Anonymous said...

The candle song is cool!!

John Daly said...

Yea, that's my favorite so far.

Anonymous said...


What size church is Emmanuel? I just ask because there seems to be a full orchestra and if this is the sixth of seven performances, it seems to be pretty large, but I thought Enid was only a community of 50,000. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Nope. You are right. Half the town belongs to Emmanuel.


Anonymous said...

The drama portion begins after the opening concert. I was there the other night, and I can sure tell you the gospel is shared. My teenage niece asked Christ into her life after the evening performance. Pretty powerful crucifixion and resurrection scene.


Anonymous said...

You will be told at the end that the drama portion of the pageant is based on a real man who was a member of Emmanuel in the 1960's and died in a rescue mission in Laos in the spring of 1969 flying an old Skyraider. Pretty cool story. I was there the night the pilot's son was recognized.

Ramesh said...

I just started watching about 15 minutes ago. I did not realize that Pastor Wade is a good speaker, very articulate. I guess he has to be, for a senior pastor. Lot of times, it's hard to visualize how one sounds when one is reading the blogs. I did hear Pastor Wade preach only once on the internet. I had just forgotten.

Ramesh said...

BTW, I am watching from Philadelphia, PA.

Anonymous said...

That dude is awesome!

Anonymous said...

What dude?

Anonymous said...

The preacher dude. Great presentation.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying the gospel presentation. Very clear throughout.

Thanks for offering this!

Anonymous said...

Excellent work Emmanuel. Watching from Hungary. I have a group of new believers around the monitor. I know that for some in the US, this is old hat, but let me tell you, there are a bunch of open mouths here in Hungary. They've never seen anything like it. Keep up the good work.

As we watch my wife is translating the good news into the language of a couple of locals who are asking questions about what they are seeing. Right now Christ is dying on the cross (of course, the pageant representation). I wish you could hear the questions.

Great job Emmanuel. Keep preaching the gospel.

One of your M's.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good word M. We are praying for you.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Bob Cleveland said...


Please tell all involved how much I've enjoyed and appreciated it.

You included (can I be your agent?).

Anonymous said...

I watched the entire presentation with my granddaughter over the internet. Thanks so much for doing this for not only your community, but for the world.

Grandma Chaney

Anonymous said...

All I can say after watching the Christmas Pageant is that whoever has ever called Pastor Wade Burleson a liberal owes him an apology. He may be liberal in grace, liberal in patience, and liberal in all the good qualities of Christ, but I've never seen a clearer presentation of the good news than what I heard given tonight. I know liberals, I work with liberals, he ain't no liberal.

Ramesh said...

Thank you, Emmanuel Baptist Church. It was good. I should try to catch up on Pastor Wade's sermons that are archived.

Anonymous said...

Great show!

Grace to you all.

Anonymous said...

Thy Peace.

Listen to Pastor Wade's Christmas message called "Counselor" from two weeks ago in the series "The Christ We Know." I think you will like it and it will give you a sense for what it is like to listen to him Sunday after Sunday. Let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...


You had to buy a ticket to get the pre-show dinner.

Ya didn'know?

Great Pageant!

Anonymous said...

"message called "Counselor" from two weeks ago in the series "The Christ We Know."

Right before the Pageant I watched last week's called: "The Mighty God" It was really less of a sermon and more of a testimony of passion for the Christ. I even got goose bumps at one point when he made the point that if Jesus had not called Lazarus by name and had simply said "Come forth!" that it is possible that every dead body in earshot would have burst out of their graves in obedience to the King of Creation WOW!

I love it that I can always learn new amazing things about my Lord.


New BBC Open Forum said...

Great presentation of the gospel message, Wade! I'd lose Elvis and Helga next year though. I was about ready to click out after those two but decided to give it a little longer, and I'm glad I did.

I invite everyone to watch Bellevue Baptist's Singing Christmas Tree production tomorrow night at 7:00 CST on or through Bellevue's site.

Again, great job!

Anonymous said...

"I invite everyone to watch Bellevue Baptist's Singing Christmas Tree production tomorrow night at 7:00 CST on or through Bellevue's site."

Or you could NOT watch with me and protest by going to Prayer Meeting and praying for Dr. Financial Gaines.


Anonymous said...


I think the Elvis thing was just an opening lighthearted song.

You might be interested to know that the "Elvis" in the Pageant was Brent Price, point guard for the Houston Rockets, Washington Bullets, and Sacramento Kings. He played at both South Carolina and then transferred to OU. He's the brother of Cleveland Cavaliers All-NBA and Dream Team Mark Price.

You may not have liked it, but I thought it was the best Elvis I've ever seen.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"I think the Elvis thing was just an opening lighthearted song."

Fair enough. But how do you explain Helga? ;o)

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Or you could NOT watch with me and protest by going to Prayer Meeting and praying for Dr. Financial Gaines."

I think he needs new living room furniture.

Seriously, I think you should watch. I believe you'll see quite a contrast between what we saw tonight versus what you'll see tomorrow night.

To their credit, Bellevue puts on the Memphis Passion Play before Easter every year, and that has always been more like what Wade's church did tonight... except of course you have to buy a ticket.

Anonymous said...

BBC said, "Sorry, I'm not a fan of John Piper, but thank you for your thoughts."

Hence, the cause of your grief and the church's grief (including Gaines and the other members) has reared it's ugly head.

Good luck with everything though.


Anonymous said...

Our congregation's sanctuary choir partnered with the sancutary choir of another local SBC church this year to present a tremendous Christmas musical. The combined choir has sung at both churches--on Sunday morning and evening, December 14--and will sing the musical tonight at the local prison. If you're reading this thread today (December 17), please pray for hearts to be stirred among the prison population and for souls to be saved! Thanks.


New BBC Open Forum said...

"Hence, the cause of your grief and the church's grief (including Gaines and the other members) has reared it's ugly head."


Huh? There you go again, shooting off your mouth about something about which you know nothing. I suppose my not being a John Piper fan around here is the unpardonable sin. (I imagine Steve Gaines loves him.) If that's the case, so be it. I will not apologize for choosing not to endorse a man who has written such gems as "Why a Woman Shouldn't Run for Vice President, but Wise People May Still Vote for Her" (hey, if it's wrong for her to run, it's wrong to vote for her) and "co-edited" the "bible" for CBMW. Not thinking John Piper hung the moon is NOT the cause of the problems. An abusive pastor (and those like him) and his little band of yes men are the problem.

Anonymous said...

I watched the Pageant from the computer this year. Great job. This is the seventeenth pageant I've seen and the crucifixion, rising scene still moves me. This year was no exception.

Anonymous said...

BBC - If you would give more thought to the One who "hung the moon" and less thought to your own self appointed police work of other people, you might actually enjoy Piper and his message.

With your attitude as it is now, I can see why you dislike Piper and anything he says.

Your attitude and Piper's message clash horribly.

I have zero interest in any further exchange with you, so you may have the last cheap shot and I will bid a simple goodbye.


Anonymous said...

Awe, come on Sl1m Shaddy,

Surely you jest. It should be obvious that he does not hate Piper. Piper is a card carrying Calvinist to the Glory of God. BBC is a breeding ground for Arminians. It should go without saying that that the members (or former members) of BBC will tend to pronate in the opposite direction of Minneapolis. Don't get me wrong, I love Piper. I even gave every attender at my Easter Sunrise Service this past year a book of his. But I think that cooperation and civility should not be based on whether or not one prays to Bethlehem 5 times a day.

Speaking of right back...


New BBC Open Forum said...

Godspeed, SL1M.

Thank you, K, but I'm actually neither Calvinist nor Arminian, and unlike some of the people here, I "bow" in the direction of no man. I respected Adrian Rogers but didn't agree with him on every point by any means. And I don't "hate" John Piper, nor do I disagree with everything he says. I just find it difficult to get past a lot of the things he has said, not to mention his close association with the CBMW. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his Calvinist beliefs.

Anonymous said...

I think I might be the only one, but I got your point KMC. :)

Let me add that I have always appreciated your theology but hated your comments (pro or con Wade, no matter).

However, recently your comments have shown an amazing improvement.

Thank you. And leave your theology alone.

The real SL1M shady said...


I, too, have seen a wonderful improvement in Kevin's tone and spirit.

Well done KC.

Anonymous said...

So happy to see you all getting along with each other in the Christmas Spirit. :) L's

FINALLY !!!!!!!!!
(I hope it lasts.) :)

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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