Two to One Odds That HBC Elders Are the Borg!

[before blasting some Borg] Lt. Commander Worf: "Assimilate this!" link

Picard_as_Locutus

Locutus of Borg

This is Part 2 in the series looking at Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald. See Monday's post for a helpful overview on the matter.

The Infamous HBC elder video:

When my kids were little, their schools would have "plays" to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Usually, they would start with about 5 kids, dressed in period costumes, standing in a line. Each would have a small speech. One might start,"I am George Washington and I was the first President." Then another might say "I am Paul Revere and I warned the colonists that the British were coming." They would all nod together, looking appropriately serious. Meanwhile, the parents in the audience would mutter that little Susie got to play Martha Washington because she was such a suck up to the teacher and Joey, who played George Washington, probably got the part because his daddy gave the school $50 grand the previous year. This pageant mentality describes this "elder" video to a tee.

This cockamamie video will go down as an example why people are leaving churches in droves. So, I guess I need to thank James MacDonald and these elders for illustrating the loony maneuvering that poses for "elder oversight" in many of today's churches. As you watch the video or read the transcript, ask yourself the rather obvious question. The two guys they are discussing were part of the elder board until recently. They, along with other elders  and a former chairman of the elder board  were once "God's authority" at this church. Then, suddenly, they were not. How come? How does one morph from saint to Satan? 

Then ask yourself a question. Why would I give money to this enterprise? It would be like throwing it away in a casino. Oh yeah, that's an uncomfortable analogy as you will see shortly.

Update 9/26: Special thanks to a reader and Paul Dohse

 

I am suspicious that someone might arouse the current elders from their stupor and they will see the error of their ways and the video will disappear, never to be seen again.  So, I want to thank my good friend, Julie Anne Smith who called me yesterday and encouraged me to use the transcript of the video from her website Spiritual Sounding Board here.

Pastor James MacDonald:  I am so thankful to be a part of this church.  This church is such a great blessing to me and our family and I just want to remind you that God has entrusted a spiritual authority to the local church and every local church has an authority under God.  We believe that the Bible that the authority of the church is vested in the elders.  And that when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church.  That’s about as serious as serious gets.  Here are four of the elders in our church that have a message for us that we would do well to take heed to, so listen very carefully.  These four men are speaking on behalf of the entire elder board of our church on every campus – listen now.

From Left to Right:

My name is Paul Inserra.

My name is Steve Huston

My name is Randy Williams

My name is Jamie Harrison

Paul Inserra:    All but one member meeting is successfully behind us. We come to you today further fulfilling our pledge for greater transparency with a sad but necessary message from our entire elder board of our church.  We need to communicate with you regarding the discipline of two former elders and their combined effort with other former elders, all outside Harvest working to discredit our elder board and destroy our pastor.

Jamie Harrison:  Three elders who broke with the rest of our 30-member elder board in June have continued to spread discord through their false and unrelenting viewpoint.  It was unanimously rejected by the elders over many months and with finality in our June meeting.  They made their point, we rejected their opinions, but they refused to submit to elder consensus, choosing instead to sow discord and create division.  This is a very, very serious sin, one that we are told in Proverbs 6 that our Lord hates.

Steve Huston:  This week, the elders received a letter with 13 accusations against our pastor and his integrity,  all of which the elders have already unanimously rejected multiple times, nothing new, just a continued refusal to accept the consensus of the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel.

If these men would express even a fraction of the constant and ongoing grace and humility that we see so frequently in our pastor, they could move beyond their bitterness to healing.  Their current refusal to do so is defiling many people and that is great sin.

Randy Williams:  Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh have been notified that they are under church discipline and no longer welcomed in our church until they repent.  A copy of our board resolution regarding their conduct was given to them personally, and can be seen online under Elder Updates.  Please pray for their repentance and victory over persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness.

Paul Inserra:  Together these men continue to lead and seditiously promote an attack on the credibility of the church elders, our governance of church staff and the integrity of our pastor.

Jamie Harrison:  Their goal is to discredit our pastor and to divide this church and we call upon the people of the Harvest family to make sure this does not happen. This problem is not new.

As Paul said in 2nd Timothy 4, “Alexander, the coppersmith, did me great harm.  The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him, yourself; for he strongly opposed our message.”

Steve Huston:  Church matters are not to be tried in the court of public opinion.  Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority, for any reason,  is satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly.   Those who have no standing in a local church, but continue to assault it from outside with factious messages must be rejected according to the word of God.  We warn the people of Harvest Bible Chapel to separate themselves from these false messengers. Don’t stand in the middle, don’t seek to mediate.  Please avoid these former Harvest elders at all cost,  lest you incur great detriment to your own soul.

Randy Williams:  To be clear, the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel – 30 men – who meet frequently and closely with Pastor James and know first-hand his character and conduct, want you to hear that we the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel are completely satisfied with Pastor James’ growth and grace, including the way he responded to the three dissenting elders from January through June, and sought reconciliation with former elders as directed.  Pastor James has gone out of his way repeatedly, to seek counsel, submit to consensus, and welcome and even solicit contrary opinion for the betterment of the church.  The elders of Harvest stand behind his character and integrity without reservation or ongoing concern of any kind.  Great pains have been taken to review and learn from these accusations. But there are no ongoing issues of any kind.   We are satisfied and grateful to our pastor for his Christ-like behavior.

Steve Huston:  We call upon the people of Harvest Baptist Chapel to support these actions of the elder board as biblical.  Titus 3:10-11 says, “as for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.”

Also 1st Timothy 5:20 says, “as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, [which, is, what we are doing] so that the rest may stand in fear.”

Randy Williams:  Before honor, comes humility.  In one week, we gather in one service to celebrate God’s amazing 25-year faithfulness to this church, but God is winning a mighty victory in and around us today. Nothing is covered, nothing is unresolved, nothing is ongoing – only this attack from the enemy.  Let us examine ourselves, for unconfessed sin and seek to live in fear of the Lord,  lest bitterness overtake us.

Let's take a look at the "gospel" claims of these "gospel" elders and their "gospel" pastor.

Bad news: The Borg have taken over Harvest Bible Church.

We believe that the Bible that the authority of the church is vested in the elders.  And that when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church.  

So all of the elders who left, including the former chairman of the elders, are not part of the collective.This does recall the Borg from Star Trek. Who were these beings? From Wikipedia:

The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the Collective, or the hive. A pseudo-race, dwelling in the Star Trek universe, the Borg force other species into their collective and connect them to "the hive mind"; the act is called assimilation and entails violence, abductions, and injections of microscopic machines called nanoprobes. The Borg's ultimate goal is "achieving perfection".

Now, as soon as a Borg unit went off message or was not doing what it was told, it was usually destroyed. Conflicts or independent thought was not permitted. The Borg collective was always right. Who made sure of that? The Borg Queen who watched over the collective to make sure things were perking along.

Now, why did I go off on that tangent? Valid questions and concerns were raised by former elders about salary, lifestyle, debt and McDonalds' view on leadership which, in my opinion, was a bit condescending (see yesterday). Instead of honestly dealing with the issues, the current board got rid of the people who resist their hive mentality. The remaining elders became a supposedly unanimous collective speaking for God or was it James MacDonald? I am not so sure.

Since the current elder collective can't take the "malfunctioning" Borg Units off line, ( the police would not take kindly to this), they do the next best thing-get rid of them. "Discipline" (Dee's favorite undefined word) is applied.

the discipline of two former elders and their combined effort with other former elders, 

But shouldn't another question be raised? Why did so many former elders malfunction at the same time?

As a nurse, I have been trained to ask questions when a patient's personality changes. Could it be a biological cause such as a brain tumor? Could it be a nervous breakdown? Maybe something is happening at home that is causing this? All of these former elders, along with the former chairman of the elder board, morphed from godly men who were selected to be elders because they loved the church and supported MacDonald, into seditious individuals, suddenly seeking to destroy the pastor and hurt the elder board.

  • all outside Harvest working to discredit our elder board and destroy our pastor.
  • Together these men continue to lead and seditiously promote an attack on the credibility of the church elders, our governance of church staff and the integrity of our pastor.
  • choosing instead to sow discord and create division.

So everything was supposedly hunky dory. Then, these guys went bonkers and decided to destroy the pastor? For no reason? Was it mass psychoses? Did someone slip something into their water? Did they contract an alien virus? Or, maybe something was happening at the "big house" and they were the wise ones?

They needed to submit to the Collective and they would not do so.

…their false and unrelenting viewpoint.  It was unanimously rejected by the elders over many months and with finality in our June meeting.  They made their point, we rejected their opinions, but they refused to submit to elder consensus,

Were the former elders actually malfunctioning or simply connecting the dots?

You can read about the $500,000 salary and $1.9 million home in our post from yesterday link.

  • They expressed concern over a $60 million debt
  • They were concerned about the salary and lifestyle of the pastor 
  • They did not like the derogatory remarks made by the pastor towards the elders
  • There was an issue with gambling on the part of the pastor

I have an MBA. I think that the concerns raised by the former members of the elder collective show superior functioning in their processors. So, what's the problem? Apparently, there is some glitch in the current elder collective.

The proof of the current elder collective's malfunction

They refuse to discuss the concerns of the former elders, claiming that all of them have been rejected. However, they do not list them. Why? Are they afraid of something?

…the elders received a letter with 13 accusations against our pastor and his integrity,  all of which the elders have already unanimously rejected multiple times, nothing new, just a continued refusal to accept the consensus of the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel.

Due to their apparent inability to accurately portray the concerns, they begin to lob words without meaning, raising concerns about systems overload. 

  • their bitterness
  • defiling many people 
  • great sin

Further proof: the "Satan" word. This alone would warrant a recall of the current elder units. Also, I thought they were claiming that this was an attack by the former elder units, not "the enemy." They are not making sense.

Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority, for any reason,  is satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly.

…only this attack from the enemy.

These elder units appear to have a malfunction in their processors. Why would they have to learn from the accusations if the accusations were not true? 

Great pains have been taken to review and learn from these accusations. But there are no ongoing issues of any kind.   We are satisfied and grateful to our pastor for his Christ-like behavior

The former members of the collective appear to be doing a great job in communicating their valid concerns. So much so that they are being isolated. The tactics recall an influential Earth soldier: Sgt Shultz: "I see nothing. I hear nothing" link

Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh have been notified that they are under church discipline and no longer welcomed in our church until they repent.  A copy of our board resolution regarding their conduct was given to them personally, and can be seen online under Elder Updates.  Please pray for their repentance and victory over persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness.

Oh yeah, as for a spirit of superiority and self-righteousness, look not further than the current HBC Borg Queen who said link:

If you want to remove me, you’re going to have to sue me to get me out of here.  And gentlemen, I have two things you don’t have: control of the pulpit and the control of the money.  So good luck.

A piece of advice: Borgs who live in glass Cubes should not throw stones. This is the first time I have ever heard of an effort to protect church members from former elders. This shows, at the very minimum, the lack of judgment by those who are in charge of determining who should be an elder. (Update 9/27-Let me clarify. What I meant was: If it is the singular goal to get a bunch of yes men on the elder board, then they failed. These former elders are speaking their minds. In fact, the are acting like real elders.) It also says something about the current elder board who made the mistake of putting their asinine words onto an ill- produced video and posting it on their website! Do they not understand how ridiculous they sound? That move alone shows that there are real issues back on the home world.

Gambling and James MacDonald

Your humble blog queens beg your forgiveness. We somehow overlooked an important piece of information on James MacDonald. It appears that MacDonald is known for previous gambling behavior here and here and here. Please let me assure you that we are not trying to impose a legalistic rule on gambling. Dee once dropped $1.90 in a Las Vegas casino. Yep-she started with $20 and came home with $18.10. She also bought a lottery ticket twice when the amount topped $100 million. She was hoping to be able to take the entire readership of TWW on a tour of mansions of the mega-pastors. Alas, it is not meant to be…

There is an old saying in the substance abuse world. "If people think you have a problem, you have a problem." If you read the posts, you will see that some people felt there was a real problem with the pastor's behavior. MacDonald was forced to admit it and claims he has retired from gambling. However, gambling is often a compulsive behavior and can be difficult to stop.

MacDonald confessed to gambling in private homes and in casinos link during a sermon in November 2012. He claimed to have ended the practice by the time of the sermon.

As you heard in the audio, James MacDonald has confessed to gambling in private and in public.  He now sees that his liberty in Christ in this matter is an offense to some within his own body; and as an elder, he has agreed to lay this down for the sake of his weaker brother.  We are glad to hear that as of Sunday, MacDonald is willing to bring his personal lifestyle on this matter in line with his public admonitions to others.

In addition to confessing his struggles to lay down his personal gambling practices, MacDonald also discussed the fact that he has hurt many people over the years with his “intensity” manifested in hurtful words.  

If I have my dates right, it appears that MacDonald was gambling about the same time he was asking for an increase in salary and increasing the debt of HBC to around $70 million. During that time, there appears to have been some concerns that a couple of staff members were also involved in gambling link. Interestingly, it appears that MacDonald preached against gambling during the time in which he admitted to gambling. (Quote found in above links.)

Did you know that 90 million Americans go to casinos every year.  They spend $300 billion on gambling. That’s 1/3 more than we spend on education.  That’s 4 times the amount given to religious institutions.

Why, why why all the gambling?  Dishonest gain.  Trying to make money and looking for an easy way.  A shortcut.  Now, gambling and lotteries to get rich quick is dishonest.  Ephesians 4:28  says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands, the thing that is good.”

The biblical way to gain income, tell me, is to what?  Work! Just go work!  Just roll up your sleeves or focus your mind or get out there and make something or sell something or do something.  That’s honoring to God, and earning your income through hard work . . . it’s right.  And it’s honoring to God.  And little sneaky short-cut-things and “we’ll buy a few tickets here at the gas station and maybe we’ll get lucky.”  The way to gain wealth is through work, and anything else, biblically speaking, is dishonest gain.

Why is this relevant? Could there be any correlation between gambling behavior and the risky money management at HBC?  Here are two interesting articles on gambling from the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health, both widely respected institutions.There is also a correlation between personality disorders and gambling as well link. These can include narcissism and borderline personality disorder. It is something to chew on and should not be ignored.

I leave you with thoughts from the Borg collective.

Lydia's Corner: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Psalm 35:1-16 Proverbs 21:17-18

Comments

Two to One Odds That HBC Elders Are the Borg! — 252 Comments

  1. “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”

    Those in power always have more credibility than those who do not. The carnal and immature believer, do not know better; so, for a time they have an excuse. However, all believers have a responsibility to read and study the Word for themselves, to know the truth for themselves. If all believers did so, men like these would have know “pulpit.”

    Jeremiah 5:30-31:
    “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
    The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (NKJV)

  2. Should of said, …appear to have more credibility than those who do not have power.

    They would have …no power.

    I would blame my eyesight, but the truth is I got a -D in 9th grade.

  3. When is Harvest Bible Chapel going to open up a church on the Las Vegas strip? Or MGM Grand? Or Circus Circus? 😉

  4. “This church is such a great blessing to me and our family…”

    $500,000 salary and $1.9 million home…

    You betcha!
    How many other goodies?
    And for what?

  5. To download the video, follow these steps:

    1) Click through to the video from the Wartburg Watch page
    2) Start the video
    3) Click on the video
    4) Right-click on the video
    4) Select “Save Video As …”

    I’ve got it sitting on my desktop right now and, really, I can’t believe these goofs expect grown-ups to take them seriously.

  6. Anon 1 wrote:

    Stepford Elders?

    Pirate Christian Radio, “Fighting for the Faith” – Radio Episode:

    The things that were said…by the elders, for the elders, at Harvest Bible Chapel…I was really tempted to play that video with like music from a horror movie playing in the background – it was…I felt like I was watching an episode of The Stepford Elders

    LISTEN: http://fighting for the faith.stepford-elders.mp3

  7. They really should have filmed Casino Royale at Harvest Bible Chapel! Think of the intrigue and suspense!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9fyOFefirQ

    Maybe James MacDonald can settle the future of HBC in a high stake Poker Game in a HBC in Chicago! 😛 Can’t you just see James macDonald as James Bond villain La Chiffre

  8. The head nods were something else. Like bobble head dolls. It was just too much.

    I’m really not so sure what I think about the gambling thing. Your hypothesis could totally be right, he could have a gambling problem. But none of those links really say anything other than that he played poker in private and public and then claimed he was sorry he didn’t give it up sooner when people got angry about it. Is there more to the story? I don’t really think gambling, as long as it’s not obsessive or excessive, is really any big deal. If he was preaching against it while doing it, well that’s a whole other story…

  9. We believe that the Bible that the authority of the church is vested in the elders. And that when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church. That’s about as serious as serious gets.

    In other words, when the elders say these guys are lost, God says it too. And you don’t want to contradict GOD, do you?!?!?!

    @ Anon 1:

    Oh yes, definitely reading cue cards or a teleprompter. Black Shirt Guy on the left gives it away. His eyes stay focused on a point at the bottom center of the screen and occasionally flit back and forth to check for the next sentence. Also Blue Shirt Guy on the right likes to intensely furrow his brows in concern!

    Who thinks that Green Shirt Guy’s nods and head shakes were preplanned for emphasis? Some of them look a little contrived to me.

  10. The biblical way to gain income, tell me, is to what? Work! Just go work! Just roll up your sleeves or focus your mind or get out there and make something or sell something or do something. That’s honoring to God, and earning your income through hard work…

    I’d like to know if MacDonald has investments or a 401k/IRA that generate…what’s that phrase…oh yes, passive wealth (i.e., income) for him. 😉

  11. Eagle wrote:

    When is Harvest Bible Chapel going to open up a church on the Las Vegas strip? Or MGM Grand? Or Circus Circus?

    Eagle – Great to see you. Funny thing, someone very close to me recently went to one of the HBC campuses without knowing any background info. She said that James MacDonald creeped her out and the second thing she said was that it felt like a circus. I told her to trust her gut – – that I believed it to be in good working order.

  12. Moxie wrote:

    The head nods were something else. Like bobble head dolls. It was just too much.

    I noticed it as well. It made me giggle.

  13. “SATANIC TO THE CORE!” I think I just peed my pants. Seriously. This is better than SNL.

  14. “Rebuke them in the presence of all (which is what we’re doing) so that the rest stand in fear.” Um, yeah no. That’s really not the effect this video is having I don’t think.

  15. They give a lot of descriptions without specific facts and examples to back up what they are saying. If they are going to be excommunicating people in front of a church, especially of this size, they should be more specific. (they shouldn’t be doing that anyway). What they are basically saying here to several thousands of people is that these are bad people, they are being kicked out of the church, don’t talk to them. CRAZY! They say they have a “spirit of superiority and self-righteousness”. They themselves, and whoever put them up to this, obviously have the “spirit of superiority and self-righteousness”. A couple years ago I heard Jmac, at the Elgin campus, from out of nowhere from the pulpit yell at three african american’s stating, “you three sit up!!”. I heard him say “you can fake Bible study, and you can fake prayer, but you can’t fake tithing”. He also said “get on the fast track to tithing and giving like everyone else”. – If everyone already is then why talk about it. He spoke in the series on money as though he knew all about how to handle money and everyone else didn’t. Then why did he get the church into 65 million debt when he talks as though he knows all about how to handle finances? Who is the one with the problem of “self-righteousness and superiourity”.

  16. The beginning of that transcript reads like either a Celebrity Puff Piece (spin spin spin) or a Mutual Admiration/********(Ed. note) Society.

  17. Anon wrote:

    “This church is such a great blessing to me and our family…”

    $500,000 salary and $1.9 million home…

    NICE RACKET.

  18. Sue wrote:

    They give a lot of descriptions without specific facts and examples to back up what they are saying. If they are going to be excommunicating people in front of a church, especially of this size, they should be more specific. (they shouldn’t be doing that anyway).

    If a church is going to declare a verdict and destroy the reputations of men they honored for many years, then they’d better produce the evidence.

  19. Someone has wisely copied this video and put it on youtube…

    Not sure it would be kosher to link it here…

  20. We all know (if not word-for-word, then in general) the following episode from 1 Kings 22. Pardon the length of it; I reproduce it here to save you looking it up…

    So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

    “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

    But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”

    … Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

    All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

    …Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

    The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

    Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

    Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.

    Ahab had a bigger “eldership” than Macdonald does, and they were unanimous too.

  21. Anon wrote:

    Start at 42:57…http://0368b5b.netsolhost.com/F4F/F4F091613.mp3

    I have been listening to this. The host makes a great point about how ridiculous the basic premise about Harvest’s view of elder rule is. The idea that when the board speaks with consensus they are speaking for God to the church is problematic. What if the every member on the board is dead wrong? Has God spoken falsehood? Furthermore, the very fact that the three elders dissented shows that the board WASN’T in consensus on the issues they were discussing: MacDonald’s salary, greater transparency, etc. It was only after these elders resigned that a so-called consensus was achieved. Now that they are gone, the issues that they raised will likely be swept under the rug and any other elder who has qualms about the church’s direction will have been shown what happens to those whose conscience won’t let them “go along with the rest of the crowd.” What if the elders who resigned and were excommunicated were speaking the voice of God about these issues to the elder board? Harvest may have catapulted the Lord right out of their assembly!

  22. and the video will disappear, never to be seen again

    Do not fear, I have downloaded the MP4s 😉

    Both in standard and high quality – high quality only applying as a technical term concerning the resolution of the video, but not – alas – to the actual content of the video.

  23. herewegokids wrote:

    Grown men.

    These grown men have approved enormous debt, fancy salaries, built buildings and still cannot get a good script writer. The ability to find a script writer is one of the new “qualifications for elder” in the expanded book of Timothy.

  24. herewegokids wrote:

    Rebuke them in the presence of all

    “Bible words” makes it sound official unless you are like me. Then it gets me to giggling and giggling gets me to thinking about writing another post.

  25. Sue wrote:

    They give a lot of descriptions without specific facts and examples to back up what they are saying.

    You got it! They do not want to say what was involved in the accusations and resignations. Then, the little guys might ask questions.

  26. Sue wrote:

    A couple years ago I heard Jmac, at the Elgin campus, from out of nowhere from the pulpit yell at three african american’s stating, “you three sit up!!”.
    I heard him say “you can fake Bible study, and you can fake prayer, but you can’t fake tithing”.

    When you heard that sermon, it is important to realize that MacDonald was probably still gambling. Money is very important to someone who takes on high risk. Essentially you have a pastor who is willing to gamble with his money. Why wouldn’t he gamble with the church’s money?

    Also, he is able to deflect the sin onto everyone else. The African Americans weren’t sitting up straight. Old James always sits up straight. Therefore he is godly. They are not.

    Such antics are not becoming. But, the again, I do not think MacDonald has reflected “becoming” in quite awhile.

  27. Sue wrote:

    He spoke in the series on money as though he knew all about how to handle money and everyone else didn’t.

    Put it all on 9 Black and spin the wheel.

  28. This scenario is very sad. I don’t understand how multiple elders questioning the same thing can simply be shot down via “elder consensus,” especially when it concerns $60M in debt and gambling. I could understand if the issue was the color of carpeting or something stupid, but not $60M. The wrong people are being disciplined here.

    Their philosophy of “elder consensus = voice of God” is completely backwards. The point of having a board in any type of organization is to allow for multiple opinions to keep the decision making in check. If everyone agrees all the time, something ain’t right.

  29. @ Anon:

    Thanks for the link.

    It really is amazing how ridiculous groupthink can look when it goes public. I honestly do not expect that video to stay up for long as it gets an analysis in the public square. What can seem so normal in your ghetto looks like insanity or comedy to people outside.

    That is their normal and that is what is so scary. There is no reasoning with people like that. Look up cult behavior and you can start checking off the boxes.

    I will never understand what SBC’s Lifeway saw in James MacDonald to bring him in as an advisor/contributor to The Gospel Project curriculum taking the SBC by storm. I think it was wise they deleted his name from not long ago. But the question remains, why him and what did they pay him? Talk about lacking discernment.

  30. Kristin wrote:

    This scenario is very sad. I don’t understand how multiple elders questioning the same thing can simply be shot down via “elder consensus,” especially when it concerns $60M in debt and gambling. I could understand if the issue was the color of carpeting or something stupid, but not $60M. The wrong people are being disciplined here.
    Their philosophy of “elder consensus = voice of God” is completely backwards. The point of having a board in any type of organization is to allow for multiple opinions to keep the decision making in check. If everyone agrees all the time, something ain’t right.

    **thumbs up**

  31. Anyone else notice how they never address the 13 points the former elders have? They can’t. And won’t. They have spoken Ex Cathedra. They speak for God.

    Sheesh! I cannot get over how cultic that place is. Do you all think the pew sitters had any idea?

  32. Moxie wrote:

    he was sorry he didn’t give it up sooner when people got angry about it.

    The old axiom in substance abuse circles is “When people are upset and think you have a problem, you have a problem.” The fat that the issue was raised means that some folks were concerned. he was going to casinos and some folks had talked to him about it on several occasions according to what I read on TED.

    The personality of a gambler is one which involves in taking risks with the hope that the ship will come in. Look at the mound of debt and think about it.

  33. anonymous wrote:

    Not sure it would be kosher to link it here…

    It is kosher to link it here. I f there is an embed code, it is fair game. Could you send me the link?

  34. Someone with a quick theological mind should comment on the premises stated in MacDonald’s preface to the video:

    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church

    2.) Every local church has an authority under God

    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the elders

    I haven’t thought about these issues in any depth, but I would think it would be better to say that:

    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to his Son

    2.) Every local church has an authority to make disciples of Jesus, baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus has commanded

    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the Scriptures and in the congregation, from whom a few godly elders and deacons should be set apart as representatives and/or presidents

  35. Participant Observer wrote:

    Someone with a quick theological mind should comment on the premises stated in MacDonald’s preface to the video:
    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church
    2.) Every local church has an authority under God
    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the elders
    I haven’t thought about these issues in any depth, but I would think it would be better to say that:
    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to his Son
    2.) Every local church has an authority to make disciples of Jesus, baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus has commanded
    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the Scriptures and in the congregation, from whom a few godly elders and deacons should be set apart as representatives and/or presidents

    #3 could obviously be debated. I have no problem with a presbytery or even even an episcopate so long as the intention is pure

  36. Participant Observer wrote:

    The idea that when the board speaks with consensus they are speaking for God to the church is problematic. What if the every member on the board is dead wrong? Has God spoken falsehood? Furthermore, the very fact that the three elders dissented shows that the board WASN’T in consensus on the issues they were discussing…

    Amen! This is a scare tactic, pure and simple. This pastor has ordered his bobblehead elders to frighten an entire congregation into worshiping the false idol of “authority” so they won’t ask legitimate questions. Their grave expressions are laughable. Since when does our hope rest in the hands of self-appointed earthly authorities? Does the “leadership” of this church not teach assurance of salvation or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? The grace of God? Redemption through Christ? Do I even need to ask?

    So Christians publicly shame anyone who asks questions now? It is godly to suppress truth? Can God and Truth be at cross purposes? Maybe it’s time to shine some light in some of these dark corners. Do I need to round up some guys to read from a teleprompter before we can know whether it’s God’s will?

    What a travesty.

  37. @ dee:
    Yeh, it does sound concerning, that is true. I guess there is still part of me that wants to believe these “leaders” aren’t all bad. My old church (an Acts 29 one) had all kinds of subtle hints of spiritual, abuse of authority, being demeaning to women. They also had books in the bookstore of Mahaney, MacDonald, Driscoll and others. These men were revered by our “leadership”. Part of me is still coming to terms with all the crap I was taught. Part of me wants to think these are okay people who are misguided or something. But the further down the rabbit hole we go the more corruption there is.

  38. Another thing: their strategy is so transparent here. “Pastor James says we speak for God, and none of us (head nods, earnest looks) have ANY problem whatsoever with ANY aspect of Pastor James, therefore if you have ANY questions about the character or integrity of Pastor James, you have a problem with GOD!” Because we say so. Doesn’t matter if we contradict Scripture, common sense, and logic. We said so.

  39. Participant Observer wrote:

    The idea that when the board speaks with consensus they are speaking for God to the church is problematic.

    TED commenter “Watchman” points out that this “consensus” is not what we would thnk. He/she says it’s group-think, otherwise known as Hegel’s dialectic. Someone with a quick philosophical mind should help us out.
    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2013/09/17/an-open-letter-to-steve-huston-on-the-subject-of-satanic-language-and-speaking-for-god/#comments

  40. lilyrosemary wrote:

    Pastor James says we speak for God, and none of us (head nods, earnest looks) have ANY problem whatsoever with ANY aspect of Pastor James, therefore if you have ANY questions about the character or integrity of Pastor James, you have a problem with GOD!”

    Ever heard of “Divine Right of Kings”?

    The Christianization of “The King Proclaims Himself a GOD”?

    Well, this is “Divine Right of Pastor/Dictators”.

  41. dee wrote:

    Put it all on 9 Black and spin the wheel.

    Lol. I’m thinking a corners and even bet, 25%/75%. On a more serious note, I don’t understand how anyone can take seriously a group of guys who have racked up $65MILLION in debt. I mean, for pete’s sake, why would anyone trust money to this group of men? This falls into the an area that is so alien to me, I don’t actually have a mental framework to process it.

  42. Moxie wrote:

    But the further down the rabbit hole we go the more corruption there is.

    I have a good friend who reads here. He and I have talked about this issue. He asks why Christian leaders often seem to be corrupt, etc. Does this mean that the Christian faith is not true and a joke?

    I have told him that it is evidence that the Bible is true and that we need grace. I believe the mistake we all have made (myself included) is that we think Christian leaders will be above reproach and always act like good Christians. Well, we might say we know they are sinners but their sin is simply overeating at the church supper of driving 5 miles over the speed limit.

    However, we know that is not the case. I know it is not the case in my own life. Although I am positionally holy, I am functionally still a sinner. That includes everyone else of the planet. Jesus’ death and resurrection did not result in my being sin free. It didn’t with Paul either when he said he still did the thinks that he did not want to do.

    I look at leaders as I look at myself. “Prone to wander” and in constant need of the grace of God. We really cannot do it it perfectly. As Christians, we should not be surprised when a leader screws up. It is inevitable. And that inevitability points back to the reason for the Cross.

  43. @ pauldohse: Thank you so very much! I have already embedded it with a call out thanks to you! Good job! So, how long do you think it will stay up?

  44. lilyrosemary wrote:

    “Pastor James says we speak for God, and none of us (head nods, earnest looks) have ANY problem whatsoever with ANY aspect of Pastor James

    We are the prophets of old. I think it is a very serious situation when people say they are speaking for the Almighty. If they got the message wrong on the upload, that could mean that they are not spreading the truth.. And guess what you call a wrong “prophet?” A false prophet.

  45. I have often commented to my wife with the BORG comparison. The collective also applies to the general membership. Daniel 7-8 shows this BORG as well.

  46. dee wrote:

    lilyrosemary wrote:
    “Pastor James says we speak for God, and none of us (head nods, earnest looks) have ANY problem whatsoever with ANY aspect of Pastor James
    We are the prophets of old. I think it is a very serious situation when people say they are speaking for the Almighty. If they got the message wrong on the upload, that could mean that they are not spreading the truth.. And guess what you call a wrong “prophet?” A false prophet.

    Yes, exactly, Dee. They keep saying how serious it is, and they all look real serious, but if they really got how serious it is to claim to speak for God… they might seriously search their hearts and reconsider their position.

  47. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    On a more serious note, I don’t understand how anyone can take seriously a group of guys who have racked up $65MILLION in debt

    I actually believe that it could be related to MacDonald’s previous brush with gaming. Such personalities routinely rack up incredible personal debt because they know that their ship is going to come in. You know, the odds are that I will win the big one soon. This sort of thinking carries over to all aspects of one’s life.

    In the meantime, the elders really like being told they speak with the authority of God. What’s a little debt when you can approach infallibility. I am not joking. They must speak exactly what God is saying or they are, according to the Bible, false prophets.

    My question: Do they ever consider the consequences of speaking for God and making a mistake? Or even worse, pretend they are speaking for God when they are really speaking for themselves?

  48. @ pauldohse: You are smart cookie! Blogging is changing the face of the church. The church must now face its blind spots. Oh yeah, and get better script writers.

  49. @ dee: Speaking of which, it is a bit of hubris when you believe that you can loose a bunch of elders, put another bunch of guys in the room and now say they are speaking for God? Good night! $65 million and they are doing God’s work? Egads!

  50. Participant Observer wrote:

    Someone with a quick theological mind should comment on the premises stated in MacDonald’s preface to the video:
    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church
    2.) Every local church has an authority under God
    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the elders

    1) What is spiritual authority? What does “entrusting” look like? What is a local church? Where are they mentioned in the NT? Where is the locus classicus for this teaching?
    2) See 1). Also, what does “under God” mean? Why is it important? What does it look like?
    3) See 1) and 2). What does vested mean? How is it enacted? Is elder a title or descriptive? What about churches that don’t have elders? How is this different from the Magisterium? Should it be? Is there a Pope? If there is disagreement among the elders, who decides who is right and wrong?

    Etc., etc., etc.

  51. The fact that elder #2 had the balls to say that anyone who associates with these former elders risks endangering their souls is mind blowing to me. Not only do they speak for God, but they are God!

  52. The following is a link from TED. Please scroll down the comments until you find the ones from “sad”. Please read carefully. This is a person who was with JMac 20 years ago when Harvest started.

    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2012/11/20/repentance-and-qualifications-of-an-elder/#comments

    Here is the post from TED regarding Dave Corning and his public statement. Please scroll through the comments (there are a lot of them!) and find “sad” again. Pretty tough stuff!

    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2013/09/18/david-corning-former-20-year-chairman-of-the-hbc-elder-board-speaks-publicly-for-the-first-time/comment-page-1/#comments

    “By their fruits ye shall know them”

  53. @ anonymous: Oh my goodness!!! Did MacDonald get paid for this? Did the Leopardo give him a discount for doing this? This is so wrong on many levels. What in the world? This is worth a post on its own. I will think about doing this in the near future.

  54. @ dee:

    Keep scrolling and look at “sad’s further comments as well as his from the Dave Corning post.

    The man was excommunicated umpteen years ago because he had Jmac figured out. Dave Corning was one that delivered the bad news to him. Oh how the chickens come home to roost…

  55. anonymous wrote:

    Oh how the chickens come home to roost…

    In our time writing this blog, I have seen this sort of thing happen time and time again. Church leaders sucked in by the pastor and enjoying controlling the flock. They are as apt to be blind as the rest of us.

    However, as time goes on, it starts to sink in. The SGM saga, the problems at Mars Hill and with Mark Driscoll, and many others come to mind.

    I think it would be helpful if former elders reached out to those that were hurt and say “I was sucked in too. Please forgive me.”

    Look, that is what grace is all about. We should not be ashamed about being deceived. It happened in the Garden and it is written about throughout the history of the church.

  56. Erik wrote:

    I emailed the elders at my church the video, and asked them if they were in agreement with that explanation of elder authority. Our church is always promoting conferences like Resurgence,

    You do like to live dangerously, don’t you? Please let me know what sort of response you receive. My guess is that they will not be pleased with you sending them the video. I hope you prove me wrong.

  57. dee wrote:

    herewegokids wrote:
    Grown men.
    These grown men have approved enormous debt, fancy salaries, built buildings and still cannot get a good script writer. The ability to find a script writer is one of the new “qualifications for elder” in the expanded book of Timothy.

    LMAO

  58. I wonder if these guys know the Fix the Family guy? They could get a scary dudes club going…

  59. Erik wrote:

    Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
    1) What is spiritual authority? What does “entrusting” look like? What is a local church? Where are they mentioned in the NT? Where is the locus classicus for this teaching?
    2) See 1). Also, what does “under God” mean? Why is it important? What does it look like?
    3) See 1) and 2). What does vested mean? How is it enacted? Is elder a title or descriptive? What about churches that don’t have elders? How is this different from the Magisterium? Should it be? Is there a Pope? If there is disagreement among the elders, who decides who is right and wrong?
    These are all questions I have also!

    http://spiritualtyranny.com/spiritual-crack/

  60. Participant Observer wrote:

    Someone with a quick theological mind should comment on the premises stated in MacDonald’s preface to the video:
    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church
    2.) Every local church has an authority under God
    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the elders
    I haven’t thought about these issues in any depth, but I would think it would be better to say that:
    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to his Son
    2.) Every local church has an authority to make disciples of Jesus, baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus has commanded
    3.) The authority of the church is vested in the Scriptures and in the congregation, from whom a few godly elders and deacons should be set apart as representatives and/or presidents

    I don’t know whether I have a quick theological mind, but I’m egotistical and vain and (in UK vernacular) fancy myself quite a bit. Oh, and the pressure-cooker’s on downstairs with the potatoes in and the clock’s ticking fast, so I’ll have to be quick. But here goes.

    1) No: to The Church.
    2) Only to the degree that “local church” represents the full consensus and gifting of all believers locally. A local sect loyal to a particular tradition or (worse) a particular pastor/entrepreneur, as is the case with HBC, cannot claim this authority. Multiple “local churches” in one locale are a completely alien concept in the NT, and with good reason.
    3) No: the elders are to lead by example in word and deed. The first thing Jesus is recorded as saying on the subject of ecclesiastical authority (and he gave it directly to the original 12 apostles who were instrumental in writing the Biblescriptures™) is that no-one in his church was to rule over others. There is only one King in the Kingdom, and since he is God, and is omnipresent, he needs no hierarchy between him and those he loves.

  61. “So everything was supposedly hunky dory. Then, these guys went bonkers and decided to destroy the pastor?”

    Yeah, just like the plaintiffs in the SGM lawsuit.

    “This is the first time I have ever heard of an effort to protect church members from former elders.”

    Would the case of Brent Detwiler qualify? He was called a “pastor,” but, I believe, actually served the function of an elder.

  62. The problem with these pastors is that the churches have given them way too much power, power as the CEOs of large organisations, and additional power as spiritual leaders. This is just too much power for some people to resist.

    “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.”

    ― Frank Herbert

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/54212-absolute-power-does-not-corrupt-absolutely-absolute-power-attracts-the

    These large “churches” shouldn’t even exist. Ask Nick Bulbeck about the future of the church, not James Macdonald or his buddy Driscoll.

  63. I have a question. How often does the ‘discipline’ in churches regarding these types of issues (board questionings,etc.) do what discipline is supposedly designed to do. I mean, how many times does the Borg church win and such board members actually come back later, apologize and ask for reinstatement. I would love to hear someone’s story on that.

  64. Erik wrote:

    I am holding out hope for this in my current church. Our family hasn’t left yet.

    Let’s hope they wise up. I am a bit cynical, though. Perhaps your story will end positively. please keep us posted.

  65. Bridget wrote:

    and no response IS a reaponse . .

    Yes, or a terse email. i once wrote an email to a pastor, asking about his interpretation of Bible verses and marriage. I wrote 2 paragraphs and asked if he would let me know if I was wrong in how I viewed the passages.

    1 week later I received an emil that said “Thank you for your interest in marriage.” Nothing else.

  66. gus wrote:

    “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.”

    Darn, that’s good.

  67. I could only make it to the 1:40 minute mark. We had the exact same issue at Mars Hill. You CAN NOT CALL IT UNANIMOUS ELDER VOTES WHEN YOU ARE VOTING AGAINST 3 ELDERS!!! They are contradicting themselves even as they speak. These guys over and over again do not understand the value of stopping and seriously listening to other elders who have a problem with what they are doing. I still personally believe in elder authority, but the unity of the elders can’t be just some token idea. You have to make the hard choices to stop and listen when 1 or 2 elders voice concerns and oppositions. That’s the ENTIRE POINT of the pursuit of unity on an elder board. Oh how it would have blessed Mars Hill back in the day to stop and seriously consider the concerns of ELDERS Bent and Paul instead of firing them when they voiced dissent. When elders don’t listen to elders, they undermine the value of the entire system.

  68. @ Patti: As you know, i think the term “church discipline” is the most ill-defined term in Christianese. They can discipline you for wearing white shoes after Labor Day if they think it hurt attendance by hipsters at their church.

  69. Wendy Alsup wrote:

    And when elders won’t listen to other elders, they are fools to think that their people should listen to them.

    Seems reasonable to me.

  70. gus wrote:

    “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.”
    ― Frank Herbert

    “It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen.” and
    “A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”
    — MacDonald (George, not James)

  71. Wendy Alsup wrote:

    Oh how it would have blessed Mars Hill back in the day to stop and seriously consider the concerns of ELDERS Bent and Paul instead of firing them when they voiced dissent. When elders don’t listen to elders, they undermine the value of the entire system.

    PREACH! Getting rid of everyone who disagrees with you and then claiming to be speaking with unanimous and therefore divine authority because only the bobbleheads remain is sneaky, corrupt, and ungodly. This is not the biblical model of the kingdom. Shame on them for trying to shame everyone into silence when there are clearly very deep ongoing issues within this congregation.

  72. anonymous wrote:

    I think the bus is starting to have mechanical issues.

    All the bodies thrown under it gumming up the wheels.

  73. lilyrosemary wrote:

    Getting rid of everyone who disagrees with you and then claiming to be speaking with unanimous and therefore divine authority because only the bobbleheads remain is sneaky, corrupt, and ungodly. This is not the biblical model of the kingdom.

    This is the model of the Jacobins, the Bolsheviki, and the Talibani.

  74. dee wrote:

    So, when do they throw one another under the bus? It will happen one day.Both of them like to be the “One.”

    1) The Universe cannot have two centers.
    2) What do predators eat after they’ve killed off all the prey?

  75. How can a man call himself a servant of God while he is pushing a church into debt and amassing wealth for himself? Now that is what I call robbing God!

  76. Lots to analyze here, and none of it good. But here’s the main thing for me: These elders are now claiming to speak for God. But when I take a look at the prophets or apostles in Scripture or the few absolutely genuine believers I’ve met during my walk as a believer who have spoken God’s truth in certain situations, I see something very different from what I see in the elders in this video.

    I see people who have no confidence or authority in themselves. They know it’s not about them, and to be honest, they’d tell you it’s a little terrifying to have this weight of responsibility. In short, they are sure about God, but not so sure about anyone else, including themselves. There’s a humility there. Also, to a person, they are transparent and willing to discuss specifics, including their own failings and doubts. Again, because it’s not about them. There’s also not a shred of greed in them; they’re willing to make personal sacrifices. Finally, they are deeply concerned about justice and willing to speak truth to power.

    Now, few of us will have all these characteristics in abundance; we all struggle. But I’d hope that elders in my church would at least have some of them and be tilting in the direction of the rest.

    But I didn’t see evidence of any of these characteristics in this video (quite the opposite seemed to be the case), and that’s a huge warning sign in itself.

  77. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    1.) God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church
    2.) Every local church has an authority under God
    1) No: to The Church.
    2) Only to the degree that “local church” represents the full consensus and gifting of all believers locally. A local sect loyal to a particular tradition or (worse) a particular pastor/entrepreneur, as is the case with HBC, cannot claim this authority. Multiple “local churches” in one locale are a completely alien concept in the NT, and with good reason.

    You know i’m with you on this hobby-horse. Thought of saying something similar, but it sounds more “theological” in your accent! Also, the same “local church” in multiple locales is illogical, so JM’s “church” fails the “local” test on both counts. As I’ve said before, my city has one small group actually calling itself “The Local Church”, and they believe they’re the ONLY church in town. (see Witness Lee) Several competing groups believe as much without saying it. Reminds me of a book I once read, “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti”. My Professor got 3 mental patients together, each of whom believed the other 2 weren’t the real Christ and must have something wrong.

  78. Dave A A wrote:

    A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”

    I am a fan of George!

  79. John wrote:

    But here’s the main thing for me: These elders are now claiming to speak for God.

    The longer I am at this game, the more I realize how the Bible is misused to justify our stupidity. In the end, it points back to the Garden in which we wanted to be like gods. At least the Mormons admit it and have elevated “to become god” as a doctrinal statement.

  80. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    2) What do predators eat after they’ve killed off all the prey?

    Well, according to the film “Predators”, a blood-feud starts between the big Predators and the smaller Predators. Meanwhile, if they’re not careful, the Xenomorphs wipe out the lot of them.

  81. Does anyone else see any connection between this borg/collective/bobblehead/megachurch mentality and the end times apostate church?

    It’s happening.

  82. Dave A A wrote:

    “It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen.”

    I have no wish to rule & reign over anyone in some future Millenial Kingdom and I certainly have no desire to judge angels. Is it possible to approach the Almighty in similar fashion as the nobles petitioned good King John in Runnymede Meadow for a kind of human rights Magna Carta for all?

    Loved the MacDonald quotes Dave! Incidentally, Herbert the elder and his son have a treasure trove of good quotes which usually begin the chapters of their books.

  83. anonymous wrote:

    Does anyone else see any connection between this borg/collective/bobblehead/megachurch mentality and the end times apostate church?
    It’s happening.

    Either that or we are seeing a system failure in The Matrix.

  84. Muff Potter wrote:

    I have no wish to rule & reign over anyone

    I most certainly do. I shall immediately proclaim a 3 year holiday and hot fudge sundaes for all

  85. gus wrote:

    The problem with these pastors is…

    That they aren’t actually pastors as such. Where I come from, pastoral work has to do with being there to support people and visit the sick, baptize (babies, mostly, it must be said), help teach confirmation classes, do marriages and funerals (and to be there for the bereaved and those about to be married), show up on Sunday and be the “leader” of the liturgy (includes reading the Gospel text for each week; members of the congregation read the OT and epistle segments), preside over communion and just plain *be there.* (Oh, and… deliver a short sermon on Sundays, 20 minutes max.)

    The essence of pastoral work is caring for people, helping them – NOT setting oneself up as some sort of tinpot dictator.

    The irony of these kinds of people having the temerity to call themselves “pastors” is not, I’m sure, lost on God himself.

  86. and they will see the error of their ways and the video will disappear, never to be seen again

    Some Christian podcasts have audio of that video available.

    If you want to, you can get a video off You Tube or other such sites by using free services such as Save Vid (there are many other similar sites such as that one, such as “catchvideo .net” and a million others, if that one does not work for you).

    You paste the URL of the video’s page into the URL box, and press “download,” and it saves the video to your hard drive. You can later upload the video to another site.

    If you use one of those services, it may take a few moments for it to do its thing and present you with a list of different formats you can save the video as.

    Of course, whomever owns the original video, if they find you’re hosting it somewhere else, might try to get it removed, but it is another way of getting a video out there if the original host removes it.

  87. dee wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    I have no wish to rule & reign over anyone
    I most certainly do. I shall immediately proclaim a 3 year holiday and hot fudge sundaes for all

    Muff – sorry, but I’m with Dee on this one. You haven’t seen the public sector in our neck of the woods.

  88. numo wrote:

    The irony of these kinds of people having the temerity to call themselves “pastors” is not, I’m sure, lost on God himself.

    Yeah, God’s surprisingly well-informed when push comes to the rubber hitting the road.

  89. John wrote:

    I see people who have no confidence or authority in themselves. They know it’s not about them, and to be honest, they’d tell you it’s a little terrifying to have this weight of responsibility. In short, they are sure about God, but not so sure about anyone else, including themselves. There’s a humility there. Also, to a person, they are transparent and willing to discuss specifics, including their own failings and doubts. Again, because it’s not about them. There’s also not a shred of greed in them; they’re willing to make personal sacrifices. Finally, they are deeply concerned about justice and willing to speak truth to power.

    This is not just insightful but wise. It is possible to recognize false prophets: Jesus said that by their fruit we will recognize them. It amazes me when anyone claims to speak for God but then promptly proclaims that thistles are figs. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

  90. @ lilyrosemary:
    FYI for anyone who doesn’t read John’s full comment, he was talking about true prophets and those who are truly devoted to God. There is a noticeable difference between such people and those who claim to speak for God but appear to be protecting their own interests.

  91. Follow up to my post above. I have saved a copy of that bobble head video on my hard drive, if you should ever need it. You may want to save a copy on your own, too.

    I don’t remember the Bible saying people cannot question elders in a church. 🙄

    These guys seem more to be about themselves or circling the wagons around their preacher than in serving the people in their church.

    Their video is so very defensive I’m more inclined to believe the people they’re railing against in it than them – even if I had never been to the “Elephant’s Debt” blog and had no idea what any of this was about.

    At one point they equated disagreement or some other relatively benign thing (it’s been over a week since I listened to the audio of this, so I can’t recall exactly what, but I remember it being something rather mild) as being of the devil or satanic. 🙄 🙄

    Sometimes I mis-type Satan as “Stan,” by the way. My fingers are in the habit of skipping over the first “a.” So if you see me type something like ‘Jesus was tempted by Stan,’ (or ‘stanic’) you’ll know what I mean.

  92. Daisy wrote:

    So if you see me type something like ‘Jesus was tempted by Stan,’ (or ‘stanic’) you’ll know what I mean.

    I hope you don’t write papers in inorganic chemistry. Otherwise your readership might get SnO2 confused with satannic oxide.

    That was funnier in my head than it looks written down. I’m off to bed.

  93. If you haven’t seen it, here is another jaw-dropper from old Jimmy Mac. I just can’t put any coherent thought in writing after watching this. I always just sit there with my jaw on the floor. This is a “pastor”. How do 10,000 people fall for this garbage every Sunday?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLLDvNQT5fk

  94. gus wrote:

    Both in standard and high quality – high quality only applying as a technical term concerning the resolution of the video, but not – alas – to the actual content of the video.

    LOL!!!
    It is amazing that with all the $millions of high-dollar technical equipment and geeks at HBC, they produced something with such poor production values. Amateurish. And, the biggest violation of Basic Photography/Video Production 101: “Max Headroom.” The bobblehead “elders” heads only come up about halfway in the frame. What an embarrassment on so many levels.

  95. @ anonymous:

    Couldn’t get past the first 2 minutes on that one.

    People can listen to it because they have been well trained by “god’s authority” to listen to and believe whatever “god’s authority” says.

  96. @ dee:

    Too funny! I sent a three sermon link to a pastor regarding marriage and he sent back a one sentance reply that said nothing about what he thought, yet conveyed volumes. He never spoke to me in person about it either. If we weren’t on different sides of the continent you’d think we knew the same people. Is there a secret cloning program going on 😉

  97. numo wrote:

    The essence of pastoral work is caring for people, helping them – NOT setting oneself up as some sort of tinpot dictator.

    This was pretty much the model I grew up with. They lived like the rest of us and we knew them quite well. They were family. Now I read pastor blog posts with serious discussions on whether or not they should have “friends” at church. It is mind numbing. It is some sort of caste system now.

  98. lilyrosemary wrote:

    Jesus said that by their fruit we will recognize them. It amazes me when anyone claims to speak for God but then promptly proclaims that thistles are figs. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

    They are simply redefining what constitutes “fruit”.

  99. @ anonymous:
    Should I keep watching this?! So far I’ve learned that no one should ever criticize pastors or even make suggestions because they’re special and their lives are hard and no one understands them and they’re special. “You can’t help me… so please never approach me or bother me or try to talk to me … unless it’s to say how I helped you with my awesomeness…” Is he serious?

    This is pure manipulation.

    I’m going to keep watching because it really makes me appreciate the pastor at my church (who I know really does have to deal with hard stuff all the time, but I can’t imagine him shaming fellow Christians in this way so that they never dare to offer suggestions…)

    Is he really about to start complaining about having his picture taken? WOW.

  100. @ anonymous:
    OK, I watched it all and I’m extremely disturbed that he seems to believe that followers of CHRIST need to sign a personal loyalty pledge to the pastor.

    I’d also like to point out that when I was in the process of finding my way back to God I called the pastor of the church I was attending because I needed to talk to someone. I had so many questions and doubts still but he made me feel welcome and he encouraged me. It’s interesting that if James MacDonald was the pastor I “bothered,” he might’ve yelled at me for disturbing the Big Important thoughts in his special brain.

    And maybe I wouldn’t have come to know the Lord. It’s interesting how much MacDonald talks about all his many, many heavy responsibilities as a pastor. I think he might be forgetting one.

  101. Did anyone else catch how he puts the responsibility on the congregation to “make” the pastor what he is supposed to be????? How it’s up to the congregation to love him into what God intends him to be– because when you are surrounded by people who love you as opposed to hate you, you grow. That sure puts a lot of pressure on the congregation to keep the love train going.

  102. @ Diane:
    Oh Diane I was feeling bummed out after watching that video, but you made me laugh. 🙂

    They take themselves so seriously!

  103. “@ Diane:
    Oh Diane I was feeling bummed out after watching that video, but you made me laugh.”

    LOL, good!

    Yes they do take themselves waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously. As I was watching and feeling weighted by the negativity and burdens he was placing on the poor congregation, I was just so thankful I was not in that place supporting that.

  104. Just now tuning in and have just watched that video. A bit short on time these days, so unfortunately I have only skimmed the post itself and have not yet read the comment thread, but just wanted to say:

    THAT VIDEO IS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN. IT IS AWESOME IN EVERY WAY!

    * The play-acting “calm demeanor” and “spiritual concern” of the fresh-faced-solemnly-furrowed-browed child “elders;”

    * The solemn voice-of-god imperative from the pretend pastor leading in to the video (“Listen NOW”);

    * The constant playing of the “God says” card and (upping the ante) the “God will punish you” card;

    * The slight misreading of the script at various points, despite the numerous rehearsals that seem apparent prior to filming;

    * The constant use of Bible-as-weapon against others;

    * The wearying overuse of magnifying adjectives like “very” and “much;”

    * The talisman-like overuse of words like “grace” and “godliness” as if the mere act of using the words proves that one understands and is living out the words;

    * — And all of this — do I understand this right? — broadcast to all the church’s “campuses” during a WORSHIP SERVICE???

    I am a PCA pastor, and have made more than my share of mistakes, and wielded supposed church authority like a club way more than I should have (one time is too many). Having experienced just the smallest fraction of the reality of “Note then the kindness and the severity of God” (Romans 11:22) I have to ask: Do those men have ANY IDEA what they are doing? Do they have ANY IDEA what sort of God whose name they are so blithely invoking as a WEAPON?

    One thing I know is that the God of kindness is severe towards those that would make Him a god of severity against their enemies. “With the measure you use, it will be measured against you.”

    Though I remain anonymous here and so I recognize that this is essentially an empty promise, still I give everyone and anyone permission to come after me HARD if I ever again wield church authority as a weapon against my enemies.

  105. Diane wrote:

    Did anyone else catch how he puts the responsibility on the congregation to “make” the pastor what he is supposed to be????? How it’s up to the congregation to love him into what God intends him to be– because when you are surrounded by people who love you as opposed to hate you, you grow. That sure puts a lot of pressure on the congregation to keep the love train going.

    Classic. I heard this all the time in comp circles. It was the responsibility of the wife to make the husband the leader.

    Uh helloooo. If others have to “make” you the leader, you aren’t.

  106. numo wrote:

    gus wrote:
    The problem with these pastors is…
    That they aren’t actually pastors as such. Where I come from, pastoral work has to do with being there to support people and visit the sick, baptize (babies, mostly, it must be said), help teach confirmation classes, do marriages and funerals (and to be there for the bereaved and those about to be married), show up on Sunday and be the “leader” of the liturgy (includes reading the Gospel text for each week; members of the congregation read the OT and epistle segments), preside over communion and just plain *be there.* (Oh, and… deliver a short sermon on Sundays, 20 minutes max.)
    The essence of pastoral work is caring for people, helping them – NOT setting oneself up as some sort of tinpot dictator.
    The irony of these kinds of people having the temerity to call themselves “pastors” is not, I’m sure, lost on God himself.

    I have not been a part of a tradition like yours for a long time, but given what’s happening in some of the evangelical churches, I find myself being drawn back to your type of church.

  107. Defamation (and not of MacDonald or the remaining elder board) anyone?

    Seriously, I am wondering if these guys spoke to a lawyer before making this video, because it’s not something I would recommend *at all.*

  108. “Number 2, I secretly wish that these two verses were my elders’ favorite verses. They’re not my life verse, but I wish that my elders had these two verses for their favorites. One’s from the pastoral epistles where it says, “Reject a factious man after the second admonition.” I wish that that was my elders’ life verse. How much heartache is caused in a church by elders that forebear for the sake of friendship with a factious man. Reject the factious man after the second admonition. Now reject him doesn’t mean he has to sit halfway back, okay? Rejecting means you can’t come here anymore. Well, I’m sorry. Okay, that means you get to go to a different church. Reject. Do I need to spell that out? Why? Why? Why? That’s so cold. It’s so wise. How much heartache I could have saved our church over the last two decades if I had lowered my expectation, of my ability to change the behavior of others and raise my expectation that people will be as they have been? A factious man is danger to the church and you are released by Scripture to release him. And I’m releasing you to take a small portion of your church’s budget, build a catapult, put it in the church parking lot, and load it regularly. I think we can shoot this one right out of our county. All right?”

    “The thing that keeps the pastor awake is not ultimately the people who left but how they’re gonna affect the people who have stayed and will they be leaving too. That’s what the pastor fears. We tried to do the right thing. We didn’t do it perfectly. We’re not Jesus. We did the best we could. Yeah, I do some things differently, but we’re learning and now some people just gave up on us and they left. What keeps him awake is the knowledge that they’re still talking to people in our church. I don’t have a relationship with them anymore, but you all seem to be able to socialize with them. I’m really the only person who’s out. Are you gonna leave too? Are you gonna leave too? We lost a couple of churches from our fellowship. I met with some of the key pastors here. Because as sad as that is, I needed to be assured that the many, many, many good men in our fellowship are still with me, are still with us. That’s what I needed to hear. I really encourage you to jot a little note to your pastor and say, “I am with you. I am with you. I’m with you heart and soul. You can count on me. We’re not going anywhere. We love you. We believe in what God’s doing in your heart.” He will become the person that you’re praying he will be through your encouragement to be that person. How many people here can honestly say the transforming influence in my life has been the people who hated me? Man, if God had just put more hateful people in my life I could have learned so much. We learn from people that love us. Sometimes they have to love us enough to tell us the truth. That’s all good. But it’s in the context of you can count on me, I’m with you, I’m not going anywhere, we’re in this together.”

  109. What are the legal and financial implications if HBC defaults on that $65MM+ debt? After all, MacDonald has to keep the tithes rolling in to make the payments on the debt. Given the generally moribund state of the real estate market around the US (pockets of activity notwithstanding), I have to believe that the properties in question likely do not equal the size of the debt. I’d really love to see the financial docs on this, no doubt they’d be very interesting.

    Oh, and I really liked Locutus of Borg. Such an apt compaarison!

  110. @ Anon 1: Yep. Also, I really believe it is a vocation, and that many people who claim to be “pastors” have no calling to pastoral work. (As in this instance!)

  111. @ Participant Observer: You know, that’s been my experience as well… I was raised Lutheran, checked out for several decades to be evangelical/charismatic, got thoroughly burned out, and guess where I am again?

    It seems to work better, on the whole, than any evangelical church I’ve ever been part of, but I also want to say that those churches (the ones I was in) all qualify as cults, so… your mileage may vary.

    there are good churches of all sorts; liturgical churches have their own raft of problems, too.

  112. pcapastor wrote:

    One thing I know is that the God of kindness is severe towards those that would make Him a god of severity against their enemies. “With the measure you use, it will be measured against you.”

    Glad you brought this up. So many think the commandment is about using God’s name in vain as in cussing. But it is so much more. It is about speaking wrongly about God on purpose. To use Him for your evil. Or, attributing to God things that are NOT from God. And their twisting around scripture (instead of applying it to themselves!) to do that and attribute it to God is doing just that. That is why we have to be so careful throwing that sort of thing around. You don’t have to blaspheme God to vehemently disagree with people.

    They are using God as a threat for their own ends. That is scary stuff….for them

    I also think they have publicly slandered the former elders on that video. I really hope they get sued. This stuff has to stop and the only thing that will help to that end is if there are a few HUGE wins in court.

  113. @ dee: I think people are just plain burned out; also fed up with “franchise”-style businesses that call themselves “churches.” (I realize that I’m being a bit acid here, but given the material in the OP, it seems warranted!)

  114. @ Patti:

    This happened at my former church. Early on, before I was in leadership, about half the leaders left. Things get so distorted inside that bubble that I have never been able to get a solid answer why, but I think it had to do with rushing into a building project without the money…

    Anyway, one of those leaders, along with his waife, came back after about six months, got up in front of the church and apologized and were reinstated. Interestingly, this guy is still there. His wife has left him, he found out about the pastor’s penchant for the hurting women in the church and confronted him….and he’s still there. When I left, he came into my office and tried hard to talk me out of it. Another leader who had left just before I did (for the same reason) sent an email to all the leaders outlining what they knew, what transpired when they took that to the pastor and why they had left. This guy coutntered the email with his own telling everyone not to gossip – at a leader’s meeting, the pastor’s wife – back-side coverer extrodinaire – told (not asked) the leaders not to even discuss this amongst themselves – nevermind most didn’t even know who ‘this’ was. And he told evenone that it was the ‘Godly duty’ to “shut up and get in line.”

    This guy came back out of fear and guilt. The collective (or hive) mentality is a powerful thing. I am reminded of the scenes in Star Trek Voyager when Seven of Nine begins learning to be ‘alone’….it is scary and the guilt of going against the ‘god appointed leader’ is huge. I went through a couple year peariod where I doubted if I was even still saved because I couldn’t even read the Bible anymore and I hated church. This guy cracked under that pressure and I don’t think he’ll leave again – sadly, I think he’ll go down with the ship, even though it has cost him his wife.

    So yeah, sometimes this shunning and labeling as ‘out of God’s will’ works….

    As an aside, the divorce rate in this church is off the charts. The pastor tell speople that if their spouse what’s to leave them over attending ‘the’ church, let them leave – he uses 1 Corinthians 7 to justify this…..I’ve seen several women leave their husbands because their husbands refused to walk away from this man. Of course, many of the men in leadership there have problems keeping their pants on and there is a pornagraphy issue among the men in leadership….and I didn’t know any of this for the first 6.75 years I went there…..but that last .25 yeras was something else……

  115. numo wrote:

    The essence of pastoral work is caring for people, helping them – NOT setting oneself up as some sort of tinpot dictator.

    Well said.

  116. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    The collective (or hive) mentality is a powerful thing. I am reminded of the scenes in Star Trek Voyager when Seven of Nine begins learning to be ‘alone’

    I miss Star Trek Voyager. I wish they’d do those as re-runs on certain channels instead of the er… ah… the other doo-doo they try and feed us.

  117. dee wrote:

    Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    I am wondering if these guys spoke to a lawyer before making this video

    With all of that debt, I bet you they have all sorts of attorneys running around.

    “I don’t pay a lawyer to tell me what I want to do is illegal. I pay a lawyer to tell me how to get away with want I want to do!” — attr to J.P.Morgan, first Gilded Age

  118. Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    Defamation (and not of MacDonald or the remaining elder board) anyone?
    Seriously, I am wondering if these guys spoke to a lawyer before making this video, because it’s not something I would recommend *at all.*

    Yes.
    And they cannot argue that it was an “in house” ecclesiastical matter. They put that defammatory video out there for public consumption. They are all jointly and severally liable. Just think of what discovery in the lawsuit will dredge up. It is hard to believe these fellows were so foolish. Well, not so hard, I guess. Just look at those bobble-heads. Those furrowed brows. The pathetic production values. Their foolishness may just bring down the whole house of cards.

  119. Years ago, before we left the congregation we were part of in Glasgow, there was a falling-out between the founder/CEO of that congregation and the leaders of another, associated congregation elsewhere in Scotland. The CEO arranged a short meeting with a few of us who had some contact with the associated congregation to explain to us all of the sinful things its leadership had done.

    It so happened that we knew both sides of the story, so that didn’t really wash with us. But here’s the thing. The CEO was accompanied in the meeting by three other elders, and it was the reaction of the youngest of them that to this day I find extraordinary. All the time the CEO was talking, the youngest elder played along with an exaggerated show of shock and dismay, sucking in his breath and tutting in a manner so ostentatious it would not have disgraced a silent movie. The saddest thing was that he did not know the other side of the story and – to our knowledge – never did. He had no interest in establishing the matter on the testimony of independent witnesses, but only in showing his total and unconditional agreement with the CEO.

  120. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    He had no interest in establishing the matter on the testimony of independent witnesses, but only in showing his total and unconditional agreement with the CEO.

    It’s weird that when the “borg effect” sets in, otherwise normal people are led to do outrageous things. I’ve been a part of the borg before. The “hive mind” is very powerful.

  121. numo wrote:

    @ Participant Observer: You know, that’s been my experience as well… I was raised Lutheran, checked out for several decades to be evangelical/charismatic, got thoroughly burned out, and guess where I am again?
    It seems to work better, on the whole, than any evangelical church I’ve ever been part of, but I also want to say that those churches (the ones I was in) all qualify as cults, so… your mileage may vary.
    there are good churches of all sorts; liturgical churches have their own raft of problems, too.

    I investigated Roman Catholicism for a year…now I am interested in Eastern Rites. If that seems like too much of a leap, I have also considered Anglicanism and Lutheranism. I have even considered going back to the denomination I was raised in, The United Church of Christ.

  122. dee wrote:

    @ anonymous:
    To our readers
    Go and see this video!
    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2012/11/20/repentance-and-qualifications-of-an-elder/#comments
    Do you think this is ethical?

    For more along the same lines, see the post at TED that features Tim Challies review of MacDonald’s magnum opus/manifesto, Vertical Church (the logo for which he has tattooed on his arm, as does at least one of the members of the “Vertical Church Band.”)

    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2012/12/21/recent-developments-21-dec-2012/

    http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/vertical-church

    Challies:

    <>

    P.S. Regarding the Vertical Church Band worship music CD, you will notice that MacDonald has writing credits on a few of the songs because he penned a verse or two in the lyrics. This is another stream of income. Rather than letting the musicians and songwriters get the income from their work, MacDonald gets a piece of the pie (perhaps more, as he is at the top of the entire church/corporation’s ladder). I can’t help but remember that similar tactics were used by aggressive music producers back in the early days of Rock N Eoll and R & B. These guys would find fresh talent, sign them to a label, and then take more than their fair share of the profits, often by adding their name to the writing credits. Why has business and profiteering entered the church? Surely Jesus would like to overturn those tables!

  123. Participant Observer wrote:
    For more along the same lines, see the post at TED that features Tim Challies review of MacDonald’s magnum opus/manifesto, Vertical Church (the logo for which he has tattooed on his arm, as does at least one of the members of the “Vertical Church Band.”)
    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2012/12/21/recent-developments-21-dec-2012/
    http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/vertical-church
    Challies:

    Here is the Challies quote I tried to post:

    And then there are times where he shows shockingly poor judgment in illustrating with his own life. At one point he writes about the role of prayer in saving his church from bankruptcy. He prayed to the Lord and then called a contractor whose work had been woefully substandard. “Sensing the Lord infusing [him] with still greater boldness” he told this man, “If you do not ship the remaining steel for free, we will close the construction project permanently, take the entire church into bankruptcy, and I will spend the rest of my life pursuing a legal remedy for all damages incurred by your company’s failure to perform. You have until tomorrow at five o’clock to give me your answer, but don’t call at 5:05, because there is a big part of me now hoping your answer is no.” This kind of personal intimidation does not at all stand as an example of the fruit of the Spirit or the character of a man called to be an elder!

  124. @ Participant Observer:
    He is employing the Ed Young Jr. method of revenue. If he thought of it, it is his. Is there any consideration of the fact that he did this while on the church payroll.

    His salary, according to TED, is around $500,000. For that amount of money, he should be giving far more than 40 hours/week to the church. So, why does he get money if he helps write a song? Was that on his own time? How does the church measure what is on his own time?

    One further question for him and other pastors:

    i am planning on developing a post on this sometime. Regular church members are expected to work in their jobs AND devote a number of hours to the church. Are pastor expected to do the same? My husband averages about 60-70 hours week(depending on his call schedule) and he does not make as much money as MacDonald. Then, he gives time to para-church ministry, etc.

    Do pastors get a pass on needing to volunteer in the church?

  125. TedS. wrote:

    They are all jointly and severally liable. Just think of what discovery in the lawsuit will dredge up.

    I am waiting for one of these situations to land in a court. I am wondering how they will do with the inevitable discovery process.

    Can a lawyer ask the following question?
    “You say that people are seeking your ruin. Why would they do such a thing in your estimation?”

    Or would that be ruled out of order due to speculation?

  126. Muff Potter wrote:

    I miss Star Trek Voyager. I wish they’d do those as re-runs o

    About 6 months ago, we finally figured out one aspect of our smart tv . I have been a long time member of Amazon Prime because I wanted fast shipping. Now, Prime members have access to an incredible number of shows and movies, including Downton Abbey.

    Also, if you do not have a smart TV, you can buy a Roku or Apple box that will access those services. We bought Roku for our not so smart TV upstairs.

    Now, it took me 6 months to finally get the guts to figure it out. But, there are videos on You Tube which show you, step by step, how to set it up. I finally figured it out one night at about 11 PM. I felt like I had dropped Goliath!.

    So, last week, i have started working my way through all of the old Star Trek TNG chronologically. I will then proceed to Voyager and do the same thing.

  127. dee wrote:

    I am waiting for one of these situations to land in a court. I am wondering how they will do with the inevitable discovery process.

    At this stage, it does not even have to land in court to start the discovery process. If the former elders were employees of HBC, they have the right to inspect and get copies of their employer’s confidential employee file – and if they have not already done so, they should request their file immediately. Under Illinois law, the employer must provide an employee, or former employee access.

    Now, what if the employer destroyed or altered the file? They’d be in deep doo-doo, legally.

    See: Illinois Personnel Record Review Act, 820 Illinois Compiled Statutes §§ 40/1 to 40/12

    Employee access to records: Current employee, or former employee terminated within the past year, is permitted to inspect records twice a year at reasonable intervals. Employer must make records available within 7 working days after employee makes request (if employer cannot meet deadline, may be allowed an additional 7 days).

    Conditions for viewing records: Records may be viewed during normal business hours at or near worksite or, at employer’s discretion, during nonworking hours at a different location if more convenient for employee.

    Copying records: After reviewing records, employee may get a copy. Employer may charge only actual cost of duplication. If employee is unable to view files at worksite, employer, upon receipt of a written request, must mail employee a copy.

    Employee’s right to insert rebuttal: If employee disagrees with any information in the personnel file and cannot reach an agreement with employer to remove or correct it, employee may submit an explanatory written statement. Rebuttal must remain in file with no additional comment by employer.

  128. dee wrote:

    @ Participant Observer:
    Do pastors get a pass on needing to volunteer in the church?

    MacDonald might say that our “theology of wealth is not fully orbed,” as he said to David Platt at Elephant Room 1. However, I do not think that MacDonald’s approach has the full support of the New Testament. The Apostles were known for their poverty, not their wealth. Paul often worked as a tent maker while doing his ministry. Elders were supposed to be given “double honor” for their labors in preaching and teaching, but I don’t take this to mean that they were to be paid up in to the upper income brackets. When the New Testament talks about financial support, it is talking about widows escaping dearth, giving to the poor in Jerusalem, etc., not pastors becoming rich. I think what happens is that these wealthy pastors go back to the Patriarchs and Monarchs of Israel for their model of what the church and church leadership should look like. That approach is questionable at best.

    Now to get to the point, I totally agree with your question about pastors needing to volunteer. When I was on a church staff four a couple of years, I found that the staff members, especially the Senior Pastor, was always talking about guarding his time so that he wouldn’t become overworked because of the stress, etc. However, this same pastor was loathe to discourage others from overworking themselves on a volunteer basis in addition to their full-time jobs and family life. The sense of pastoral entitlement is ridiculous given the sacrificial life of the early church. Sadly, I think it is actually taught and passed on to others through the likes of MacDonald, who may have some issues with narcissism via a wounded ego.

    I feel bad trashing MacDonald and those like him, but a reality check needs to be made. Since they are not getting it from their congregations or their elder boards, they are getting it on the like of these forums. Obviously the prayer is that pattern of entitlement, etc. will be overturned for the sake of healthy souls and churches.

  129. @ dee:
    There are also a lot of old shows on hulu for free, and more if you are willing to enroll and pay.

  130. @ Erik:

    I am so impressed by your e-mail to your elders. We will be anxious to hear how they respond.

    If more congregants were as pro-active as you, things would be very different in the conservative corner of Christendom, and Dee and I probably wouldn't have that much to discuss.

  131. @ Participant Observer:
    The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, or SCVO, has an interesting approach to this issue. In a sense their working culture is not dissimilar to that of a (healthy) church congregation, in that they have a mix of paid and unpaid staff, all of whom see their work for the organisation as more than just a job. But one of the services they provide is a information help-line for Scots looking to find out how to volunteer; this help-line is covered entirely on a voluntary basis, including by the paid staff who do it in their spare time.

    And there are, of course, many unknown and unsung pastors who certainly go the second mile serving alongside the congregations of which they are very much a part.

    Which makes me think of a suggestion for Deebs/GTBC. There are several fixed threads for recurring themes here, including “My comment was deleterated”, “Don’t get mad, cook!” and “My goldfish is evil”. Any thoughts on one for pastors and the like who actually reflect credit on their calling? Something like “My pastor dun good?”.

  132. @ Erik:
    If your church rulers are on a power trip they may answer you more quickly if you refer to them leading or overseeing all of you rather than serving all of you. Sorry for the snark.
    I am very interested to kno what you were told at your ‘mandatory’ men’s meeting. I just don’t get that. Even our church which is usually more egalitarian than most has started a class called Man Church. Huh?

  133. @ dee:
    Dee, I’ve been watching all the Star Trek TNG episodes too! Most are available for free on CBS.com. I’m almost finished with S2 and in fact just saw the episode where they first introduce the Borg, so I thought of this post! One of my all-time favorite shows.

  134. Erik

    Really liked the email you sent to these elders – Hope it works out.

    I was troubled when you ended with…
    “Has anyone ever had their elder find out about this site? I was going to “like” this on Facebook, but didn’t because my elders might then come here and see my discussions.”

    Why are you afraid of your elders? – Seeing your discussions? – Here?

    Does that sound healthy to you…

  135. @ Erik:

    Erik

    Just saw this…
    “My whole life I have had this war within me while I try to be what leaders want me to be, but always feeling like I can’t. And, it has always seemed like the problem was from the inside of me. I’m hoping to be free!”

    I can relate…

    Today when those who think they are “Leaders” Quote Heb 13:17 and hint they are “your leaders” and they are responsible – as you elders did @Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 12:07 PM…

    I ask them this…

    You say your a leader – But – Heb 13:17 doesn’t mention pastors/elders/overseers as leaders.
    And – Haven’t you ever wondered why?
    Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ? – And NONE did…
    In the Bible, ALL of “His Disciples” called themselves “Servants.” 😉

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leaders” for **His Body.** “ONE”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    In the Bible – Did any of His Disciples call themself – Leader?
    In the Bible – Did any of His Disciples call another Disciple – Leader?

    If someone calls them self a Leader? – And allows others to call them Leader?

    Are they one of His Disciples?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

  136. @ Erik:
    Great questions. Wish I’d asked my former elders those back when I was afraid they’d find out about this site. Looking forward to hearing their answers, if any. Sadly, fearing you may be “church-disciplined” at the MAN-datory meeting, if these elders are like many. My quick and poor attempt to answer one question– “Like you say, you cannot possible be responsible for all of Quincy or New England.”
    Well, maybe they should be. At least all of Quincy. Seriously. But they’d need to change their conception of responsibility or “accountability” and of “local church”. You are not alone.

  137. @ Erik:

    Hi, Erik.

    What I really wonder is exactly how are they responsible?

    –into what areas of people’s lives does their responsibility extend?

    –what methods do they use to carry out this responsibility?

    –how deeply do they feel they have a right to get involved in people’s lives?

    surveillance in a variety of ways is what comes to mind, and really bothers me.

    even in the form of “she told me that this person said that he did such & such. I think you should tell this to staff person x so they can inform pastor y”, who then writes it down somewhere in either a literal file or a mental file.

  138. @ Erik:
    One other question you could ask– “Are elders biblically synonymous with “bishops”, and if so, why don’t you call yourselves bishops?” (Like TD Jakes)

  139. @ Moxie:

    moxie

    Yes – Very accurate…
    “Part of me is still coming to terms with all the crap I was taught. Part of me wants to think these are okay people who are misguided or something. But the further down the rabbit hole we go the more corruption there is.”

    It took me a few years after leaving “Todays Religious System”
    Before I recognized it as “The Corrupt Religious System.” And was able to label it as such…
    Calling it “The Corrupt Religious System” does sound harsh to many – But…

    Seems lots of folks are recognizing and leaving – “The Corrupt Religious System” of today. Many never leave The Church of God. aka The Body of Christ. (I love His Church.) Most have left “The Corrupt Religious System” – That has damaged so many. The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporations, the IRS calls church.

    Should His Disciples call an IRS Corporation “His Church?” His ekklesia?

    Hasn’t The Whole Religious System, for 1700 years, been *Totally Corrupt?*
    With…
    1 – Elder/Overseers who do NOT meet the qualifications found in the Bible?
    …..(1. Must be Blameless. 2. Holy? 3. Just? 4. Rule well their own house? etc.)
    2 – Multiple thousands of denominations – NOT found in the Bible?
    …..(Baptist, Presbyterian., Catholic, Lutheran, Assembly of God. etc.)
    3 – Multiple Movements – NOT found in the Bible?
    …..(Reformed, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Emergent, etc.)
    4 – Abusive Heirarchy – Abusive Authoritarians – NOT found in the Bible?
    …..(Who Exercise Authority like the gentiles and lord it over God’s heritage.)
    5 – Traditions of men – NOT found in the Bible?
    …..(Money as a Tithe, Go to church, Join a church, church membership. etc).
    6 – Titles/Positions – NOT found in the Bible? (Pastor/Leader/Reverend?)
    …..(Clergy, Doctor, Reverend, Right Reverend, Cardinal, Senior Pastor, Lead Pastor. etc.)
    …..(Titles – Titles everywhere – Except in the Bible. – “Titles”become “Idols”)

    Corrupt – Dictionary

    1 – showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

    2 – debased or made unreliable by errors or alterations.

    3 – in a state of decay; rotten or putrid.

    Isn’t “Today’s Corrupt Religious System” filled with those having
    “a willingness to act dishonestly?” – And are after – Power – Profit – Prestige…
    1 – “money and personal gain” (Celebrity Pastors, Authors, Conference speakers.)
    2 – and make “Today’s Religious System” “unreliable by errors or alterations,”
    to the Bible. How the Bible describes “His Church?” Qualifications for Overseer?
    And because of these “errors and alterations” to the qualifications of Elder/Overseer
    3 – “The Corrupt Religious System” is “in a state of decay; rotten and putrid.”

    And folks are leaving by the millions. And turning to Jesus.

  140. moxie

    Yes – Very accurate…
    “Part of me is still coming to terms with all the crap I was taught. Part of me wants to think these are okay people who are misguided or something. But the further down the rabbit hole we go the more corruption there is.”

    It took me a few years after leaving “Todays Religious System”
    Before I recognized it as “The Corrupt Religious System.” And was able to label it as such…
    Calling it “The Corrupt Religious System” does sound harsh to many – But…

    Seems lots of folks are recognizing and leaving – “The Corrupt Religious System” of today. Many never leave The Church of God. aka The Body of Christ. (I love His Church.) Most have left “The Corrupt Religious System” – That has damaged so many. The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporations, the IRS calls church.

    Should His Disciples call an IRS Corporation “His Church?” His ekklesia?

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

  141. @ Erik:

    “Has anyone ever had their elder find out about this site? I was going to “like” this on Facebook, but didn’t because my elders might then come here and see my discussions.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    I’ve never had an elder. 3rd generation to have grown up in church and none of us ever had an elder.

    We’ve always been free to discuss whatever, however, wherever, with whomever.

    You mention leaders, and what leaders want you to be. I get the feeling these leaders have entitled themselves to way too much territory. Like “SIR FRANCIS DRAKE CLAIMS CALIFORNIA FOR ENGLAND” just because he’s standing on it for a few days.

    You and your unique & special skill set, aptitudes, hopes and ambitions are owned by you, not them. To be applied and developed with much enjoyment as you see fit. When it comes to you, you have the last word.

    Ever watch Airplane Repo on Discovery? I love it when Ken Cage boards a yacht (which he has now repossessed) and when confronted by the pseudo-owner, calmly explains to him “This yacht is now repossessed. Do not get on board.” He has complete authority to say this and do this. He leaves the pseudo-owner’s dignity intact. But he is firm. And he communicates with 100% authority, based on who truly owns the yacht. And sails away.

  142. @ Erik: Do not, I repeat, do not tell them about this site. They will hate it with every bone in their body! We believe in the priesthood of the believer and are anti-authoritarian.

    I couldn’t care less of what they think about Deebs (Dee and Deb). We have gone mano y mano with the best of them, giving new meaning to how to “submit” to church leaders.

    I am concerned that they will express their dissatisfaction by disciplining you for coming to this site. Some pastors have said that these blogs are worse than porn. I kid you not!!!

  143. Off topic

    Just had to share this with TWW readers. Went to the funeral today of a dear older saint. A woman who served quietly in every way you can imagine in her church of 50 years that went from your typical suburban church to a multicultural low income church during those years. I was astounded when her pastor (in the SBC!) read the 16th Chapter of Romans which he admitted was unheard of at a funeral.

    His point was to affirm the women mentioned in that chapter and where this dear old saint fit in. And that these women were bonafide ministers in the Body. Even though some translators did not see fit to even describe Phoebe what she was…a deacon.

    What a blast of fresh air. What a way to honor this dear saint. And the best part? It was truly inspiring to the young women there. It was the talk of the reception afterwards with everyone discussing the many ways women have ministered in the Body.

  144. Dave A A wrote:

    One other question you could ask– “Are elders biblically synonymous with “bishops”, and if so, why don’t you call yourselves bishops?” (Like TD Jakes)

    Because that sounds too ROMISH.

  145. Patti wrote:

    If your church rulers are on a power trip they may answer you more quickly if you refer to them leading or overseeing all of you rather than serving all of you. Sorry for the snark.

    Isn’t “overseeing” keeping animate property from getting uppity? Using a whip?

  146. Wow! Major red flags flying up all over the place during that elder announcement.

    (a) Just because a bunch of people (even elders) agree on something doesn’t mean it is from God. I’m sure the elders of Joel Osteen’s church are all in collective agreement – does that mean that MacDonald and the HBC elders think that the theology and methodology of Joel Osteen’s church is biblically-sound?

    (b) Quoting random Bible verses doesn’t mean that your opinions are based on the Bible. Nice try, though. Maybe take a few exegesis classes, or read “The Hermeneutical Spiral.”

    (c) The elders did NOT have “collective agreement” until they excommunicated the three dissenters. Clever way of always ensuring “collective agreement” – just fire those who disagree, and voila! Everyone agrees! Dee’s point is spot-on: did the 3 dissenting elders all become possessed or infected with a “sin virus” at the same time? How on earth do THREE elders go from “in good standing” to “excommunicated” at THE SAME TIME?

    (d) It’s irresponsible to throw around the “fostering dissent” / “creating disunity” accusation like this. While it is definitely condemned in Scripture, it is done so specifically within the context of ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. The “dissenters” are doctrinal deviants who oppose Paul’s theology, and so they try to discredit his person as a way of discrediting his theology. That is clearly not what is going on right now at HBC.

    (c) There is so much defensiveness here, it’s almost tangible. When I close my eyes and try to imagine how a godly pastor and/or elder would handle THREE dissenting elders, I don’t envision their approach as being like the one taken by HBC’s elders. Regardless of what sort of financial shenanigans are going on, at minimum, there are major issues with MacDonald’s personality and leadership style. The way he is responding to this situation reminds me of some of the things I’ve read about individuals suffering from personality disorders.

  147. Just a quick follow-up after looking through The Elephant’s Debt website.

    After watching the Youtube video (embedded above) of the HBC elders’ statement, I got the impression that the problem involved three men (former elders).

    After reading the “Your Story” portion of the website [http://theelephantsdebt.com/your-story/] , however, I realized that the dissent comes from more than 3 guys. Many folks are speaking out in agreement with the three dissenting (former) elders, and these folks include some HBC insiders (pastors, worship leaders, major donors, etc.).

  148. OK. I just realized MacDonald etc. said the former elders were to be shunned. I’m seeing red here.

    This is what cults do. This is, for example, the regular behavior of the church of Scientology. If a family member leaves, the rest of the family has their eternity threatened if they don’t disconnect. As an aside, that’s what makes Leah Remini’s departure from Scientology over the summer so remarkable because she took her entire family with her. So the cult couldn’t threaten her family.

    What’s being done here with shunning is no different than Scientology disconnection. Let me rent the HBC leadership a clue: when your actions look like those of a notorious space-alien cult, you have a problem, full stop. I don’t think I need to say anything more.

  149. This is coming straight from my heart, and no one put me up to this:

    While I agree that there needs to be a safe place for asking questions and disagreement, I also realize that my words here have been reckless and uncensored. I regret many of them, and this is why I asked them to be deleted.

    We all have different and unique experiences, and maybe we respond to each other’s stories out of that subjective perspective. For example, no one here knew the leadership at my church, but immediately concluded some extreme ideas and generalizations. I feel like I got sucked into some of the criticism, and doubted what I know to be true about these men.

    I came here for a neutral place to discuss ideas, but instead, I presented things only as I saw them, and then also left little to no room for my ideas to be wrong. I’m not right about everything. Like Wade Burleson has said, I may be very well deceived myself.

    I am not in agreement with some things at my church, and it is true that I have not felt a place to openly discuss them with any validation. However, I sincerely do love these brothers in Christ, and I have hurt them just as I feel they have hurt me.

    We are all the church, the body of Christ, and Jesus prayed to the Father that we would all be one. We must love each other. Love is a very complicated thing, as we all know that, but in the bottom of my heart, I truly see that I am guilty of unloving behavior, just as I feel all of involved are. We all need to learn from this experience, and I am remaining hopeful that we all will.

    My family is resigning from membership, and we are going to distance ourselves from the church. Regardless of who is right, or who is wrong, or if that in fact is irrelevant, we are not helping each other follow Jesus. For whatever reason, admittedly knowing I have my own “baggage”, I am not in unity with the leadership. This is creating a bad atmosphere in our hearts, and it is tainting everything.

    I want to publicly say that I do not support the presumptions many of you have made about the character of these men, and I apologize for my role in that. I appreciate that this site, and all of you, want us to have a safe place to discuss our ideas. I do not in any way diminish that. I yearn for that. But, I went too far, and I feel that some of you did also. I am just as guilty of “measuring fruit” as I feel the faulty model of discipleship does.

    I believe the elders when they say they love us. I really do. I think they are wrong about some things, and I hope they will at least consider that. But, I have never experienced malicious abuse or intentional harm to my family. I’ve been very reactive, and we all must admit that seldom comes from the Holy Spirit.

    I love you all, and covet your prayers for all of us during this very difficult situation.

  150. Erik wrote:

    For example, no one here knew the leadership at my church, but immediately concluded some extreme ideas and generalizations.

    I am so, so sorry for the ordeal that you are going through. I want you to know that I do not consider your thoughts and ideas reckless. They were born out of observations and feelings that came from your experience.

    When you and I talked, I reassured that your experience was neither unique or unusual. You found yourself at a blog in which similar experiences has occurred to many of the readers here. Over time, one an begin to see patterns. I cannot share our correspondence but I believe that I outline some of the issues with the information that I gleaned.

    Unfortunately, the response of the church has been “status quo.” Nothing unusual just the sam old, same old. I told you that their response would be an indication of their hearts. You now know what that is.

    I know that you are hurting . I am sorry that your church leaders could not deal with an honest and kind man who was asking some difficult questions. I know that you feel that you did something wrong. I do not think that you did so. I also think that the perspectives that were offered to you are perspectives born of experience and being a bit further down the road.

    As for the Holy Spirit, I don’t know. I think something came out of this that needed to be said.

    We will be praying for you.

  151. Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    I just realized MacDonald etc. said the former elders were to be shunned. I’m seeing red here.

    You should. Unwittingly, HBC and MacDonald have given us an example of what is going on in many churches. When it happens to a little guy, assumption are made that they were just “causing trouble.” They are ignored unless they find a site like this.

    Here is where it gets goof. Elders are picked because of their devotion to the church as well as their unwavering support of the pastor. In many churches, they function as the cheerleading squad for the pastor.

    So, when a group of them quit over the issues, there is a real crisis. The church cannot say they were not good Christians. Heck-they were supposed to be flipping role models. When they pull this church discipline garbage on their own, you know that church discipline is codswallop from the word “go.”

    James MacDonald and his good buddy Mark Driscoll are the resident bullies in their own personal playground which some call church.

  152. @ Anon 1: It saddens me to know that today’s hipster churches headed by brash young men would overlook the value of the elderly.

  153. “B Bereans : Say’in ‘Follow Me’ …Was Christ’s Job?

    hmmm…

    The Holy Scriptures call us to be Bereans, and measure the fellows we are listening to, against the Word of God. 

    That being said:

    That is our check, this is our balance. Any pastor or any elder who encourages otherwise, becomes highly suspect.

    huh?

    Remember, Paul at Berea?

    ok.

    “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily [to see] whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left. ” 
    ◄ Acts 17:10-15 (in context) NAS ►

    hmmm…

     “That’s about as serious as serious gets…”

    Sopy

  154. @ dee:

    Dee

    Since leaving todays “Religious System” I have a little different opinion when…
    You write this about Christian leaders @ Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:56 AM…
    “I believe the mistake we all have made (myself included) is that
    we think Christian leaders will be **above reproach** and always act like good Christians.”

    “As Christians, we should not be surprised when a leader screws up.”

    Yeah – Leaders do screw up – Leaders do sin – Leaders do make mistakes…

    I’m just tired of them “Screwing up” – “Sinning” and – “Making their Mistakes” – on me. 🙁
    And lots of other defensless Sheep. – As we have seen so often…

    If they do NOT know what they’re doing? – Let them go do something else…

    Power Corrupts – and absoulute power corrupts absolutly…

  155. Dee

    And – Where do we find “Christian leaders?” – “Church Leaders?” in the Bible?
    Seems ALL of His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”

    And – When those who think they are “leaders” do screw up, make mistakes…
    They should remove themselves and be a good example to the flock…
    They should go do something else…

    80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged as role of pastors.
    And – 50% of pastors already admit they do NOT like being a pastor.
    And would do something else if they could find a job…
    http://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/

    Come on – that’s 80% – are discouraged – 50% want to do something else if they could.
    This does NOT foster much confidence in todays – pastor/leader/reverends.

    Paul gave some tough qualifications for elder/overseer – Yes?
    An elder/overseer “Must Be Blameless” – Must be above Reproach…

    Today I say – “the mistake we all have made (myself included) is that we” His Ekklesia…
    His Church, His Called Out Ones, Do NOT hold these “So-Called-Leaders”
    Todays – pastor/elder/overseers – accountable …
    to the difficult qualifications found in scripture.

    How many folks have the courage to ask their – pastor/elder/overseers…
    If they meet these tough qualifications?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  156. Anon 1 wrote:

    What a blast of fresh air. What a way to honor this dear saint. And the best part? It was truly inspiring to the young women there.

    Your comment made me think of Rose Dawson as an old woman (played by Gloria Stuart) in James Cameron’s film Titanic. And as Dee has also pointed out, the brash young neo-cals who rule over many churches see limited value in old women. Some will change during their time under the sun, but most will just turn into stultified old men who still believe that the Almighty assigns roles based solely upon plumbing received at birth.

  157. Erik said, “We are all the church, the body of Christ, and Jesus prayed to the Father that we would all be one.”

    Yes, that we would all BE one, not PRETEND to be one. Jesus also said that if we can agree on just one thing then that one thing will be done for us. So why discipline for differing opinions and simple questions? True, sometimes the lines are blurred of just who is the stubborn between those who claim authority and those who just want to assemble together with other believers in Jesus Christ.
    IMO the ONLY reason for a mandatory men’s meeting would be to discuss issues of delicate nature that would only cause unpure thoughts among the genders. Otherwise, yes, I have already made judgement on the men you have followed. I am wondering if any women here have ever ‘crashed’ a men’s meeting and what happened. I’m thinking about ‘crashing’ man church at my church, I wonder what they would do?

  158. Hi, Erik.

    I am so very sorry for these very difficult circumstances. Your decision must have been excruciating. It took courage and conviction to make this decision. This is not unfamiliar to me. I waited far too long to make a similar decision.

    I hope the interaction was helpful. I know you feel it crossed a line in some way.

    I see nothing reckless in what you shared at all. Indeed, the only way to have a candid conversation is to present things as you see them. It was honest and real, without gloss or veneer or a candy-coating.

    Interpretations & assumptions were made by those who responded based on all data available (including the grid of each of our own experiences). I don’t feel any was inappropriate — every human being does this all the day long in response to stimuli and data as it comes to us. Where we learn that our assumptions and conclusions are inaccurate, we acknowledge & recalibrate. Mess and mistakes simply happen, and we clean as we go.

    I believe you when you describe the leaders in your church as being good people & having good motives.

    I hope for good things for you and your family. For peace and inner unwinding and deepest relaxation. That has been my own journey.

  159. See above Coment

    Powered Flight: “Is Some Buddy Clippin’ Your Wings?”

    hmmm…

    Let us learn from the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

    …closer ta home, perhaps:

    huh?

    Let us  examine the Scriptures to see if what James MacDonald says is true.”

    Don’t be fooled:

    READ YOUR BIBLES

    …least someone clip your wings!

    ATB 

    Sopy

  160. @ elastigirl:

    Thank you. My regrets were that I pushed the leaders into a defensive stance. I’m a very passionate person, and inevitably my emotions smudge the clear convictions that I want to communicate. I don’t blame them for disregarding my concerns. I wish I felt comfortable discussing opposing ideas with them face to face. To me, in my experience, it always felt as though they would listen to me enough to show me why I was wrong. But, I understand, because how could I be right if all these christian celebrity leaders were in unity? Who am I to think that I know any better than those guys?

    I haven’t written books like all these people leading these conferences. I’m not even close to having those kinds of persuasive communication skills. But, as much as I have been edified by many things I’ve read in books, I don’t trust any human who thinks they have any greater ability to listen to Holy Spirit than anyone else. If these people really believe God is revealing stuff to them, then why do they sell it? Why do pastors travel all over the world to be trained by humans about God? And why do they think God entrusts another human to take care of His child? There is preaching of “Jesus is enough”, but in practice it doesn’t seem to be so.

    I am comforted knowing that Holy Spirit testifies to my spirit that I am a child of God. I cry out “Abba Father” to the One who knows me fully. I am a child of God, and co-heir with Christ. Jesus Christ is the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. He loves me, in spite of me, He loves me.

  161. @ Erik:

    Hi, Erik.

    “But, I understand, because how could I be right if all these christian celebrity leaders were in unity? Who am I to think that I know any better than those guys?”
    ++++++++++++

    If I hear a bit of sarcasm, it is fully warranted. The pack of professional male Christians you refer to appears to me to be quite inbred. Reading each other, hearing each other, mutually admiring each other, and regurgitating it all back to each other. The fact that you have independent thoughts and a fresh perspective is so darn healthy.
    —–

    “I don’t trust any human who thinks they have any greater ability to listen to Holy Spirit than anyone else. If these people really believe God is revealing stuff to them, then why do they sell it? Why do pastors travel all over the world to be trained by humans about God? And why do they think God entrusts another human to take care of His child? There is preaching of “Jesus is enough”, but in practice it doesn’t seem to be so.”
    ++++++++++++++

    Because ALL OF IT creates jobs, and job security. Fleshes out the job descriptions. Gives them something to do, to justify their salaries.

  162. @ elastigirl:

    No, there is not sarcasm in that. I’m serious. Well, I guess the “christian celebrity” part is sarcastic. I’m saying that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of leaders within the Christian sub-culture that define “church” as this organizational, IRS recognized entity. My ideas seem extreme, or at the least, fringe. leader told me that I am like “those Shane Claiborne guys” who mean well, but are not quite getting “biblical” church government.

    And, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of church organizational leaders who sincerely believe there needs to be a hierarchy of authority. In fact, there is a conference coming to Boston in a few weeks to equip all these church planters to measure the fruit of “unhealthy” believers. The theme of this conference, actually is “Soul Physicians: If church planting is to be about souls and not numbers, church planters must be more than good neighbors. They must be competent soul physicians. Are you clear on the nature of true conversion?”

    http://www.plantnewengland.org

    I’m not being sarcastic at all. I don’t have credentials. I’m not a licensed minister. In fact, I have a track record of leaving several church organizations over the past 20 years.

    So, why would they listen to me? That is why I felt so alone and isolated, like I truly am the crazy one. I’ve questioned my own motives millions of times.

    I just spoke to an elderly woman who has been a follower of Jesus for centuries. She has made some choices that I certainly would not agree with. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter one bit! She will stand before a righteous and holy King, and I won’t be there or have anything to contribute. I have been given this life to love her as my sister, and that is what I will continue to do.

  163. Erik,

    I find your thoughts very familiar. Been there. Questioned it all myself. Especially why they “sell” what they claim the Holy Spirit has given them.

    This “soul physician stuff is not unlike what 9 Marks and many others are doing with “keys to the kingdom” and church discipline. They decide who is spiritually healthy and who isn’t. But most of it boils down to who is a good follower of them.

    It is the most dangerous movement I have seen in a long time. I thought the seeker mega movement was bad but this stuff is right out of 16th Century Geneva complete with young elders masquerading as your magistrate. All they need is civil power and most of us would be toast. They love the power and position too much. I cannot for the life of me figure out why people give them this much power over their spiritual life.

  164. Oh, you are not crazy. You are smart. And that is intimidating to them so they couch it as “love” and concern for you. I know, I have seen it here many times from that same movement.

  165. anon 1 wrote:

    This “soul physician stuff is not unlike what 9 Marks and many others are doing with “keys to the kingdom” and church discipline.

    Did you see the 4 sponsors on the website? NETS (not familiar) TGC, SGM, and… You guessed it already…

  166. @ Erik:

    “guys” who mean well, but are not quite getting “biblical” church government.”
    +++++++

    biblical schmiblical — I’ve developed the Doctrine of Ladybugs, it is biblical, and draws heavily from Paul. We are actually a little low on cash right now, so to fund my daughter’s piano lessons and my son’s football i’ll be planning a conference early in the new year. I have boundaries and refuse to accomodate the world’s preference for busy-ness & work over the Sabbath concept, so i’m paring it down to two 90 minute sessions stretched over 2 days. Cost is $115 per person.
    —-

    Erik, rest assured that your ideas (& motives, I’m quite sure) are shared by thousands of good-hearted, well-intentioned, honest people. Are you familiar with “the nones”? Someone take the baton…

  167. @ Dave A A:

    Mark Dever is setting the stage for reaching NE . . .

    SESSION 1
    CONTEXT FOR CONVERSION: A HEALTHY CHURCH
    SPEAKER: Mark Dever

    It happens in the context of a healthy church (or an episode of Star Trek?) . . . and I’m sure Mark Dever will ‘define’ what it means to be a “healthy church.” Mark Dever might want to invite God to the conference. We wouldn’t want God to miss out on the game plan 🙄

  168. Erik wrote:

    Thank you. My regrets were that I pushed the leaders into a defensive stance.

    You didn’t push your leaders into anything. They chose to take a defensive stance all on their own. You make your choices they make theirs. Don’t let them convince you that “their defensive stance” is your responsibility. My goodness, they are supposed to be the leaders . . . ??

  169. @ Erik:

    Erik

    Thank you for sharing your heart, your concerns, and what is going on.

    What a great question…
    “Why do pastors travel all over the world to be trained by humans about God?”

    Yup – Seems Jesus has a different idea – A better idea – They shall be ALL taught of God.

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    John 14:26
    But the Comforter… *He shall teach you ALL things…

    John 16:13
    ..the Spirit of truth… He will guide you into ALL truth…

    And – John the apostle said – You need NOT *any man* teach you… Go figure… 😉

    1 John 2:26-27
    These [things] have I written unto you concerning **them that seduce you.**
    But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you,
    **and ye need not that any man teach you:**

    And – In the Old Testament – God wants to teach and instruct you – personally.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice, *
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Psalms 32:8
    I will *instruct thee and *teach thee
    in the way which thou shalt go: I will *guide thee with mine eye.

    Sounds to me, by your questions and comments,
    Jesus has taught you many things already.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  170. @ Bridget & Dave A A:

    Mark Dever is setting the stage for reaching NE

    He can try but, speaking as a native, he won’t get anywhere. Preaching to his tiny pre-existing choir is all he’ll do.

  171. @ Erik:

    If church planting is to be about souls and not numbers, church planters must be more than good neighbors. They must be competent soul physicians. Are you clear on the nature of true conversion?”

    So they really are just trying to repeat verbatim what the Puritans did in the 17th century. Edmund Morgan literally wrote a whole book on Puritan conversion tests. Except the dirty little secret? This strategy failed last time because their tests were too strict for their own children to pass, their churches were running out of members, and thus their government would eventually run out of officials because you had to be a church member to serve in government (which meant you had to pass a strict conversion test). Thus the invention of “halfway” membership in 1662.

    This will soooooo never fly in New England.

  172. Okay, I’m totally not being serious now, but I just couldn’t resist these funnies from the Plant New England FAQ…

    In 2011, Wes Pastor, president of NETS, and Collin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition, considered how to bless New England with a regional TGC conference.

    Oh joy. Aren’t we blessed.

    Limited on-street parking is available

    Translation: Of course there’s nowhere to park. It’s Massachusetts, the streets haven’t been widened since 1675 and we ran out of room for parking lots 200 years ago. Also, signs letting you know what road you’re on are optional, and what signage there is may be impossible to understand if you don’t already know where you’re going. 😉

    The conference site is…less than a minute from Starbucks.

    There are also probably at least six Dunkin Donuts within a half mile. Maybe even twelve.

  173. Hester wrote:

    I just couldn’t resist these funnies from the Plant New England FAQ…
    In 2011, Wes Pastor, president of NETS, and Collin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition, considered how to bless New England with a regional TGC conference.
    Oh joy. Aren’t we blessed.

    I not only hail from Olde England, I emigrated 20-odd years ago and live in Scotland. Specifically, in Alloa, an area struggling due to the decline of Scottish mining and resulting structural unemployment. God loves these people. So do I, actually. But rich they certainly ain’t, so I don’t think I’m going to be bothered by too many mega-churchers any time soon.

  174. Hester wrote:

    Are you clear on the nature of true conversion?”
    So they really are just trying to repeat verbatim what the Puritans did in the 17th century. Edmund Morgan literally wrote a whole book on Puritan conversion tests. Except the dirty little secret? This strategy failed last time because their tests were too strict for their own children to pass…

    I’ve been reading a family-history book by my 5th cousin (maybe yours as well) with some fascinating stories of Puritan times. A nephew of my ancestor was the doctor in Salem, who in 1692 was unable to cure some girls of what ailed them, at last opining that they must be “under an evil hand”. But I digress. 7 years later Solomon Stoddard wrote about “the nature of true conversion’:
    “[Wondering] whether they are sincere saints, they labor in it for many years: and one minister gives signs, and they try themselves by them, and another gives signs and they try themselves by those; and sometimes they think they see signs of sainthood and sometimes the signs of hypocrites; and they don’t know what to make of themselves.”
    Just like the current New Englanders in need of “soul physicians”, whose diagnoses I hope will prove less disastrous than that of my ancestor’s nephew!

  175. Hester wrote:

    So they really are just trying to repeat verbatim what the Puritans did in the 17th century. Edmund Morgan literally wrote a whole book on Puritan conversion tests.

    Bingo, that is exactly right. They love the Puritans. Unfortunately, what happened to them? Their descendants became Unitarians for the most part. Nevermind that whole self determinism thing from our Founders that would not have bode well for the Puritan leaders.

  176. @ Bridget:

    Bridget, I have never seen a group of “Christian leaders” that are so quick to blame their followers— as that movement.

  177. Dave A A wrote:

    anon 1 wrote:

    This “soul physician stuff is not unlike what 9 Marks and many others are doing with “keys to the kingdom” and church discipline.

    Did you see the 4 sponsors on the website? NETS (not familiar) TGC, SGM, and… You guessed it already…

    No, I did not see that. Typical. No wonder it sounded familiar. BTW: The arrogance is astounding. “They” are going to “bless New England”? Is that how it works? sheesh!

  178. @ Dave A A:

    “[Wondering] whether they are sincere saints, they labor in it for many years: and one minister gives signs, and they try themselves by them, and another gives signs and they try themselves by those; and sometimes they think they see signs of sainthood and sometimes the signs of hypocrites; and they don’t know what to make of themselves.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s the exact headspace you get yourself into using Puritan conversion tests!

  179. @ Anon 1:

    The arrogance is astounding. “They” are going to “bless New England”? Is that how it works? sheesh!

    Well, New England is the land of Democrats and godless heathens, unlike the Bible Belt which is the source of all goodness and holiness in society. Plus New England has winter and like, it’s cold in winter! Those poor people who have to deal with snow!

    Off sarcasm, of course…

  180. @ Dave A A:

    a family-history book by my 5th cousin (maybe yours as well)

    Who knows. My ancestors are from Rehoboth, MA and Guilford, CT and I probably have others who came on the Winthrop Fleet in 1630.

  181. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Nick — where in England did you hail from?

    Alloa — on a flight many years ago there were 2 middle aged women sitting some rows behind me and I could hear them chatting with a flight attendant — they said they were from “Alloway” (as they pronounced it) and had THE CUTEST, the most amazingly delightful sing-songee accent I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I will never forget it. Would you say that is typical of how “Allowayans” speak?

  182. @ elastigirl:

    Sutton Coldfield.

    Re the two older lassies on the plane, are you sure they didn’t say “Galloway”? The ambient noise in an aircraft might have obscured the “g”. And accents from south-west Scotland (e.g., Galloway, obviously) tend to me somewhat lilting.

    “Alloa” is not pronounced “alloway” but “ahl-wur”. I remember a stand-up comedian from New York observing that New Yorkers speak without using their top lip. Alloa folk speak without using either lip, and more often than not, each word is compressed into a single syllable. The names “Kay”, “Kate” and “Katie”, for instance, are almost indistinguishable apart from very subtle glottal stops and the latter two and an almost-second-syllable in the third.

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    If they were fae Alloa, then believe me, you’d’ve had no idea what you were hearing! One of many reasons I love it here.

  183. P.S. that should have read “very subtle glottal stops in the latter two”. Serves me right for describing Alloa-ish as indecipherable, I suppose.

  184. @ elastigirl: Thanks for the link, which I have every confidence was really entertaining, except that…

    This video contains content from Channel 5, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

    Oh well – it’s the thought that counts!
    🙂

  185. What a blast! Trapping people on an elevator with voice recognition that does not recognize all common accents of English!

  186. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel Files Complaint Against Blogger Paul Dohse, Resulting in Loss of YouTube Privileges | Spiritual Sounding Board UNITED STATES

  187. @ Hester:
    You do know the old saying
    In Boston, the home of baked beans and cod
    Where the Cabots talk to the Lodges
    And the Lodges talk only to God.