Matt Chandler Proves That the Membership Covenant Is a Legal Document.


This is a public service announcement from TWW to help all of you who want to buy one of Matt Chandler’s *clean* steaks from the Texas Craft Steaks. This picture is NOT a joke even if my words are a bit snarky.He owns this company.

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“I went to law school. And I became a prosecutor. I took on a specialty that very few choose to pursue. I prosecuted child abuse and child homicide cases. Cases that were truly gut-wrenching. But standing up for those kids, being their voice for justice was the honor of a lifetime.” Susana Martinez

Hey folks. I am still recuperating and catching up on some interesting things which will see the light in posts in the coming weeks. However, I realized that I wanted to look again at membership convenants in light of the Matt Chandler scandal in the NYT: Attorneys Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little Help a Sex Abuse Victim in Her Quest to Hold Matt Chandler and The Village Church Accountable

Please reread the NYT (link in above post) and pay particular attention to the  statements surrounding the “You can’t sue the church, you signed the *covenant.*”

I plan to write more on this subject and have someone helping compile a number of comments regarding Chandler coming out of the conference. Chandler appeared and made a statement about his *problem* at the convention that was promptly removed from the website. Thankfully, Leonardo Blair posted it on You Tube. I found Chandler’s statement to be self indulgent. Maybe that’s why the SBC removed the video. They are beginning to understand “optics.*

After viewing the video, you may want to read an old post which I added below the video. It was one of many post I wrote proving that membership covenants are legal documents to help the church prevent you from suing them when they do something really, really bad. It also allows them to do some really, really bad things to you.

In that post, if you are concerned that you have signed one of these contracts, we have a suggestion on how to get out of it.

Folks, do not sign these things. Caveat emptor and all that jazz.


Further Proof You are Signing a Legal Contract Not A Membership Covenant Courtesy of The Gospel Coalition written in 2015

Contract law is essentially a defensive scorched-earth battleground where the constant question is, “if my business partner was possessed by a brain-eating monster from beyond space-time tomorrow, what is the worst thing they could do to me?” ― Charles Stross link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=40263&picture=hand-silhouette
Stop before you sign.

It’s Labor Day and I’ve decided to rerun a post we wrote in 2014 which needs to be discussed for the sake of new readers.

TWW is one of the few blogs out there which discusses the problems with membership covenants which we call a membership contract.We contend that it is a legal contract and that churches will use that contract to keep members *under their umbrellas.*

We advise, when asked (and sometimes even when not asked,) that readers do NOT sign these documents without getting legal advice. We find it odd (or par for the course) that churches rarely, if ever, explain that the member is signing a legal contract. This lack of transparency on the part of the church should be noted by those being urged sign said contract. Why won’t they tell you? Ask them straight out and see what they say…

IMPORTANT FACT: The church will not disclose what actions they will discipline a priori. That means, folks, it could be anything from skipping Sunday school for a few weeks to asking too many awkward questions about the budget or the conferences the pastor is attended. Like Geico, we have seen it all.

What if you have signed such a contract and now regret doing so?

Please read the post which will help you to understand that you have singed a legal contract. However, the legal contract can become null and void at any time of your choosing, even if the church says you cannot leave the church while under church discipline. They are absolutely WRONG. In fact, they are lying to you if they say this.

In the United States, just as you may join an organization, you can leave the organization whenever you darn well please. What authority driven churches won’t tell you is that YOU hold the power and can sue them if they decide to put your *under church discipline* retroactively, MaTT Chandler did that to Karen Hinckley at The Village Church. She had resigned in writing and they *wouldn’t let her.* Needless to say, Chandler got schooled in the matter and backed off, with an apology.

Read on and learn how to get out of your church contract.

One point: I have had a couple of pastors claim that they have *covenants* and would never use it as a contract. Isn’t that nice…. We believe that if the time comes, and they are sufficiently into *I’m the authority around here,* they will discover the beauty of the legal aspects of the church contract.

Please call us if we can be of assistance in helping you to leave your church or to simply drop your membership. Follow the steps below and we can assure you that many churches will back off and the ones who do not are just plumb stupid.

Read on to put the power back in your court.

Happy Labor Day.


 

I had to post this! The quote TGC article and its recommendations are going to pushed next week at TGC’s conference.

Recently, I did a search on church membership covenants/contracts and realized that this website is one of the few which actually is raising questions about this current push to have members sign these things. What don’t they want you to know?

YOU ARE SIGNING (OR HAVE SIGNED)A LEGAL DOCUMENT! 

Yes, I know this is shouting but everyone who is being asked to sign these contracts/covenants or has already signed one needs to know the intent of these agreements. They are not some loosey goosey “let’s all pray for one another” agreement. They are designed to prevent the church from getting sued when they discipline you.

This morning I saw a post at The Gospel™ Coalition website called 5 Actions Churches Should Take in a Changing Legal Culture. 

At first I thought this was going to be limited to the concern that churches would be forced by the government to perform same sex marriages. In fact that is how the article started off. But, the following got slipped in further down in the article.

This advice will be given at next week’s TGC conference.

Download the free Protecting Your Ministry resource, or visit booth 109 at The Gospel Coalition National Conference in Orlando, April 13 to 15, to grab a hard copy and enter to win one of six $500 gift certificates to the conference bookstore.

The post is written by an attorney and she is in the business of protecting churches, not individuals.

Christiana Holcomb is litigation counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom in its Scottsdale, Arizona, office. Holcomb specializes in protecting the freedom and autonomy of churches and ministries.

She strongly recommends that churches adopt a written membership policy.

Carefully read her advice.

5. Adopt a written membership policy.

Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them. As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline. Churches are encouraged to adopt a written membership policy that explains the procedure for becoming a church member, procedures for member discipline, and procedures for rescinding church membership.

Of course, this recommendation does not mean that a church should adopt a form of church government to which it does not subscribe. Churches can still have designated members who affirm they are committed to and part of a church body, even if there is no voting or say in church practices.

Let’s review what she said.

  • Unite is a nice word for signing on the dotted line.
  • If you unite, you agree to the church’s authority over you.
  • If you unite, the church has legal protection to apply church discipline.
  • There is no definition for what violations church discipline is instituted; merely the procedures to do so.
  • Corollary: They can discipline what ever they darn well please and they do so in many churches.
  • There should be procedures for rescinding church membership.
  • Corollary: That means they can also NOT rescind church membership.

The final point is the most important for all to understand in this entire essay. They can tell you that you are not allowed to resign your membership until ….whatever.

A church does not have to give you any say or vote in church practices.

Do you understand this? Let me say it another way. A  church can do whatever they darn well like in the way of discipline and they do not have to listen to your disagreement or concerns, whatsoever. You are merely a silent sheep who gives money to the church. Do not think a *plurality* of elders will give you protection. Elders become elders by agreeing with the pastors in the vast majority of churches.

The attorney who wrote this is with the Alliance Defending Freedom
Remember: this advice is only for the freedom of churches to restrict your freedom via legal methods.

TWW recommends that potential members of churches carefully consider if they are willing to give away legal protection and their freedom by signing these covenants. This blog has highlighted story after story of poorly applied and abusive church discipline. We are currently sitting on a huge story of a well known, TGC linked church that applied church discipline in a shocking manner. We hope to be able to tell the story within the next 2 weeks.

How to get out of a previously signed covenant.

You may be able to get out of a covenant/contract by following the advice in this TWW post. We are still working on a resource page on this matter since we seem to be one of the few sources educating church goers of this concerning trend.

Once again, you are signing a legal contract no matter what cutesy, spiritual name they apply to it. 

Here is a brief excerpt from that post!


The Membership Covenant

Did you know that most churches consult attorneys to draw up these covenants? Are you aware that they were developed, not for purposes of sweet fellowship, but to protect the church in case an angry church member sues them? Did you know that some angry church members are actually justified? For those of you who have signed such a document (Dee has and has successfully gotten out of one), were you advised that you were signing a document that had been vetted by lawyers? (Dee was not). An open and honest church should advise unsuspecting potential members of this fact and encourage them to seek similar advice.

How to Resign

Three years ago, I spoke with a nationally well-known attorney who informed me that the only power that churches have is the ability to throw members out of the church. They can do that with very little recrimination. But, they could have some legal trouble announcing a member’s supposed “sins” to the full church if said member employs the following procedure. What we are about to discuss has been “run by” legal experts. However, TWW states categorically that this should not be taken to mean it is an official legal position. Please seek advice of an attorney for an authorized opinion.

The Steps:

  • Resign your church membership prior to the all-church announcement. Better yet, before harsh discipline is applied.
  • Keep your lips sealed.
  • Do not tell anyone that you are going to take the following action. You do not want Sally Sycophant (we all know a few of these) to run to the pastors and report this, giving them an opportunity quickly schedule the all church gossip session.

The Letter:  (We give special thanks to ARCE, who knows a thing or two, for sending this format to TWW.)

1. Send the following letter, return receipt requested (and tracking, in case the Post Office lets them have it without returning the card).
2. Put the return receipt number on the heading of the letter (you can get the form with the number at the PO, before typing the letter).
3. The format

Date
To the pastors and administrators at ____________ church.

This letter is notice that I am not longer a member [attendee] at _______________ church, effective with the date of this letter.
As a non-member, I am no longer subject to any of your discipline as of (date on letter). After (date on letter), any publication, notice, or speaking about me by any church staff or recognized church leader is no longer authorized by me.
Any negative remark or statement about me, any encouragement that people shun me, or any action other than deleting me from your records will be evaluated for possible legal action for libel or other tort claim against the individuals involved and the organization.
If any one asks about me, refer them to me, any other action may result in a tort claim against you.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. You must desist from any act that may harm my reputation or me or come between me and other persons of my acquaintance. Legal action may ensue.
Sincerely,

Sending this letter and the aftermath

  • You must mail the letter on the date on the letter and they will not receive it for a couple of days thereafter.
  • Keep a copy, print out the tracking showing when it was delivered, keep the green card or, if it is refused, the returned letter (they are legally responsible for the content if they refuse it).
  • Document any response or any failure to comply. If they (leadership or staff) call, listen but do not talk, except to say “I disagree” if they make a false statement about you.
  • Document the conversation.
  • Go to an attorney if they proceed to trash your reputation or that of your business.
  • Do not respond by trashing the organization.

Comments

Matt Chandler Proves That the Membership Covenant Is a Legal Document. — 100 Comments

  1. I’ve come to see covenant/contracts like this as a huge stumbling block.

    A specific sub-issue that I think may take on a lot more importance has to do with whether ANY agency that works with local churches in cases of abuse can actually be “victim-centric” instead of just “institution-protective” if the church has this kind of membership covenant/legal contract in place.

    Still reflecting on this, but I suspect I won’t be able to find any way in which covenants aid abuse survivors in personal recovery or seeking justice or preventing their perpetrator from further access to vulnerable people to abuse.

    If so, we should take the presence of a membership covenant as an automatic indicator that the organization cares more about risk reduction and limiting liability than anything to do with compassion and care for abuse survivors. And I would question the claims of being “pro-survivor” by any agency that works for the church that has a covenant.

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  2. brad/futuristguy:

    . . . we should take the presence of a membership covenant as an automatic indicator that the organization cares more about risk reduction and limiting liability than anything to do with compassion and care for abuse survivors.

    I initially read your statement as

    ” . . . take the presence of a membership covenant as an autoCRATIC indicator . . . .”

    I guess either word works in this case.

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  3. This is a public service announcement from TWW to help all of you who want to buy one of Matt Chandler’s *clean* steaks from the Texas Craft Steaks.

    WTF is a “Clean Steak”?
    Came from a CHRISTIAN Cow (like in the Steve Taylor song)?
    And “Craft Steak”? I thought “Artisan Socks” were THE type example of Hipster Pretentiousness.

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  4. I recently read the membership contract for a well known local church where a member is required to attempt reconciliation through the church before seeking a divorce. Rather than being pastoral, this adds insult to injury for someone who has encountered abandonment, abuse, infidelity, etc. by subjecting them to unwarranted scrutiny.

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  5. brad/futuristguy,

    Per my therapist which I saw today:

    Institutions like TVC practice risk minimizing to themselves, not for the kids.

    Referencing the June 10 post, quotes from Chandler in a Q&A, his relating pedophilia to alcoholism is a red herring. The idea is that a person who molest a child are out of their mind, it must be alcohol. It’s used by institutions to deflect away from them so they don’t have to dig deeper. My abuser/molester used it as an excuse for his abusive activities.

    So if that mindset is connected with covenant churches, yep keep your children away.

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  6. In reference to the video, the church should have announced from the get-go that Tonne had been arrested for SUSPECTED child sexual abuse. It would have saved them a great deal of trouble. Often, those details appear in the local news, anyway. Done this way, no one would have expected them of a cover-up. Then, Tonne should NEVER have been allowed to go on to another church’s ministry. Some churches do vet their candidates thoroughly. Years ago, a former pastor used me as a reference (without asking!) for the Christian non-profit I was with. He didn’t have anything illegal in his background of which I was aware, but he had never been able to lead a church effectively. I let my supervisors know that and said he would be a poor fit. He wasn’t hired. My current church does both a criminal background check on paid staff, elders, and anyone who volunteers with children. We also check references with the question as to whether or not there is a reason a person should not be employed or hired by the church. Nothing is full proof as people only are in the system if they have been caught, but we meet best practices from what law enforcement had told us.

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  7. Nancy2(aka Kevlar):
    Okay.I watched the video.
    May I dub the Village Church lead pastor Matt “Poor Me” Chandler, now???

    Went through that one, took to calling it the ‘wounded lion’ approach by pastors (sic) and other leaders (sic) manipulating emotions to deflect from their own actions.

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  8. It is hilarious that these documents are pushed by people who call themselves “conservative.” Did I miss the Bible verses where Jesus, Paul, the Apostles, etc… said you had to sign a legal document to join the church?

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  9. Hello, I’m basically new to commenting but have kept up with this blog a while and have appreciated the thoughts expressed. My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave. Before I knew too much about Acts 29, we went through the membership class. I couldn’t bring myself to sign the covenant,however, because the approach to church discipline seemed heavy handed and I didn’t know the character of who I was “submitting” to.
    In my last conversation with one of the pastors, he told me that it may say something about my salvation if I wouldn’t become a member. He made no mention of me possibly attending or being a member of a different church that might be a better fit. Only that I might not be a Christian if I don’t become a member of his church. I was flabbergasted of course and feel that this is cultic, but not surprised given my other experiences with this pastor. He also said that my husband would get more care than me(he became a member) and that I would get more than usual because of him, but I would NOT get the same care as an actual member. I’m not sure what he means – he will ignore my emails? Not talk to me in the halls? He won’t pray for me? This feels like he’s playing favorites(James 2), not to mention isn’t that spiritually manipulative and abusive?! I have no intention of becoming a member here, and nor do I care to have their “care.”
    Pastors who make these covenants must have a abusive tendencies themselves, therefore they won’t/can’t support victims because they might be forced to look at themselves.

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  10. brad/futuristguy: If so, we should take the presence of a membership covenant as an automatic indicator that the organization cares more about risk reduction and limiting liability than anything to do with compassion and care for abuse survivors. And I would question the claims of being “pro-survivor” by any agency that works for the church that has a covenant.

    It’s just plain common sense, isn’t it? Membership covenants are a one way contract. You are giving the church entity the power to scrutinize and judge your life and choices and apply consequences to you and your family. The church is not agreeing to hold itself to anything nor do they give you any recourse if they behave in a way that is wrong and detrimental. You get no voice or vote. It is not an exchange; it is just you signing your rights away.

    Even if you love and trust your church leadership, do you know what tomorrow will bring?

    Is there a reason you have to sign onto this agreement? Jesus does not require it. Why do these leaders?

    Surely, any organization that would put together such an adversarial requirement for membership must be looked at as an adversary.

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  11. It is interesting how the pastor abruptly told the speaker how the former youth leader was fired due to drinking and bypassed the issue of what he truly knew about the situation. He basically shut down the questioner. If a confident interviewer received this push back, they would have clarified the question and insisted on getting to the truth of the matter. I wish these men would just speak to the issues instead of focusing on themselves and refrain from preaching when asked to confront issues. We do not need any more platitudes. Maybe I am in a foul mood as the Warriors just lost.

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  12. How antithetical is it to the oft-stated purpose of Bilcial,correction to,have a signed membership with legal force in the secular world crafted by legal minds from said world? After all, goals of gaining a brother versus treating someone as a publican were the outcomes of the Matthew 18 situation, not wielding man-generated authority over one’s salvation as some appear to suggest they do.

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  13. Speaking of reposts, here is a comment from last year that is another illustration of how far this can be taken

    On the thou art the man blog, there are primary documents in which church discipline is being meted out by letter on a woman concerning marriage troubles, complete with the pastor of — per the letterhead — “a reformed and Southern Baptist church” pointing to Scripture here and there. Here’s a line from the first letter pushing for marriage reconciliation of an apparently abusive situation: “this is not just your marriage; this is your soul that is at risk!” As you’ll see (and can read further in the article), consistent application to both parties of standards of conduct is not clear and evident:

    https://thouarttheman.org/2018/04/24/arbca-pastors-middle-sexual-abuse-cover/

    The pastor wrote in the letter to the wife: “There is no provision for divorce for you in this passage. Two things would both have to be true for this to apply: number one, Logan would have to be an unbeliever (and you do not get to decide this issue – – only God, Logan, and the church as a whole are granted such authority) and also number two, Logan would have to be the one who departed; i.e. He would have to have left. Neither of these is true, let alone both. For you to read into this passage something else, something which it does not teach, is to make your imagination the rule of your life instead of God’s plan Word.”

    The pastor adds: “for if you persist in ignoring God’s Word, and insist on creating your own standard to live by, you may prove yourself to be the one who is adjudged an unbeliever who has departed from the marriage.”

    This is while according to the same pastor in this letter as I read it, the husband doesn’t automatically get cast as someone who is salvation is in jeopardy or is an unbeliever. Rather he is called in this context a “husband who does not obey God’s Word”. Again, this is all the same letter, and the husband in question already has been deemed by the pastor as not an unbeliever – – adding that it is God, the husband as well as this guy’s “church as a whole” that is “granted such authority” to “decide this issue”.

    This is while per the other information in the article, the husband was reportedly abusing her in various ways, which by this pastor’s definition would actually make him potentially an unbeliever, right? This is especially the case if being an unbeliever is something that be ‘adjudged’ post-church membership (let alone actual salvation moment and relationship between God and believer), complete with souls being at risk, no? And if so, a whole other reading of applicable Scripture comes into play regarding marriage and unbelievers (or believers-turned-unbelievers by church decree, or so the implication is), no? Despite the contention by the pastor of clarity in this situation, I’m finding quite the opposite.

    Bearing all this in mind, check your blood pressure while this pastor (sic) delivers the following regarding a “husband who does not obey God’s word”. After noting how Christ didn’t return insults or threats when he suffered, the pastor quotes 1st Peter 2:23 — 3:1 about being submissive to husbands. Interestingly enough, what is written about believers and unbelievers in 1st Corinthian 6-7 as well as the peace matter in verses 15 somehow doesn’t come up, despite his references of the chapter elsewhere in the letter.

    The pastor surmises: “if you found your marriage difficult, hard to bear, and unjust, then you found yourself in the same position as Christ”, adding that “God calls you to bear it as Christ did”. He even speaks about God’s “clear command “in this instance, while the guy appears to have made this anything but clear as far as believers, unbelievers, and consistent application of discipline and accountability.

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  14. JDV: He even speaks about God’s “clear command “in this instance, while the guy appears to have made this anything but clear as far as believers, unbelievers, and consistent application of discipline and accountability.

    The church’s curse is not the final word.
    Divine Comedy, Canto III

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  15. JDV: For you to read into this passage something else, something which it does not teach, is to make your imagination the rule of your life instead of God’s [plain] Word. [excerpt from a pastor’s letter]

    Abusive churches are constantly making Christianity up as they go along. In the letter, the pastor looks so hard at his favorite Bible translation that he imagines God has no mercy, justice, love for those who suffer, such as a pregnant woman whose husband repeatedly forced himself on her—while she was on bedrest.

    Our minds, our brains come from God. Christianity has a few basic principles that are easy to remember and harder to live out. It can take a lifetime to learn how to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Within the bounds of a love that we can recognize as love, we have the freedom to imagine a life free of suffering. What a blessing that a wife knew enough about love to imagine an escape from violence.

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  16. Elizabeth: In my last conversation with one of the pastors, he told me that it may say something about my salvation if I wouldn’t become a member.

    Your “pastor” does not understand God’s plan of salvation as he ought … it has nothing to do with church membership … this is a problem inherent with the theological tenets of New Calvinism.

    Elizabeth: He also said that my husband would get more care than me (he became a member) and that I would get more than usual because of him, but I would NOT get the same care as an actual member.

    Your husband should not be OK with this! I suggest that both of you put your behind in your past and exit that Acts 29 church; they are playing Driscoll hardball with your souls. It is not a spiritually healthy place to be.

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  17. Elizabeth: he will ignore my emails? Not talk to me in the halls? He won’t pray for me?

    That’s called “shunning”. It’s a common disciplinary tactic in New Calvinist churches, akin to high school behavior. Believe me – having experienced that – it’s better to be free in Christ than bound by the jots and tittles of a church membership covenant! Church is voluntary. It’s better to be shunned by the pastor and church members when you encounter them at WalMart than to continue to subject yourself to aberrant belief and practice of an Acts 29 church. This female subordination nonsense would end if enough women ensnared by New Calvinism would declare “Enough is enough!” and start dragging their sorry husbands/boyfriends and their wallets out of the mess! Never, never, submit to illegitimate authority!

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  18. Elizabeth: In my last conversation with one of the pastors, he told me that it may say something about my salvation if I wouldn’t become a member.

    Hubris. Maybe tell them you can’t join until you’ve personally determined the salvation status of every individual in leadership at the church.

    I love how they think ‘more or less care’ is some sort of threat. What care???? Maybe he really won’t talk to you in the halls. His loss probably not yours.

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  19. Lance: It is interesting how the pastor abruptly told the speaker how the former youth leader was fired due to drinking and bypassed the issue of what he truly knew about the situation.

    What I would like someone to ask is if drinking is a bigger fireable offense than child abuse. Because that is….not good.

    If you are doing it because you prove drinking 100% and this is CYA reasoning, say that.

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  20. JDV: Two things would both have to be true for this to apply: number one, Logan would have to be an unbeliever (and you do not get to decide this issue – – only God, Logan, and the church as a whole are granted such authority) and also number two, Logan would have to be the one who departed; i.e. He would have to have left. Neither of these is true

    1. This is so abusive of the pastor and

    2. People make such a big deal of this passage, trying to beat women over the head with it to get them to stay in these abusive marriages, when Pauls actual point seems to be more ‘don’t leave your pagan husband just because he hasn’t converted to Christianity yet’. Some of these pastors need to be taking a seat here because they are way off.

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  21. We attended TVC several years ago. One day our homegroup leader invited me to coffee and tried to manipulate me into attending more by offering me the opportunity to lead our group discussion. I very frankly told him I’d be happy to participate but wouldn’t be there every week because my wife and I occasionally travel on the weekends or have other priorities.

    The next week we went out of town and my wife started getting texts from the homegroup leaders wife who was asking my wife “whether we were going to commit to the group or not” my wife replied “I guess not”. Shortly thereafter we left the church because we rightly surmised that this behavior was being driven by a staff dictum to start taking attendance in home groups, like ole sunday school rather than being the nebulous organic gospel buzzword community that they initially sold it as.

    Shortly after we left, the Karen Hinckley saga unfolded and we were so glad we had left. We haven’t gone to church since and every time I get an inkling to go back I read this blog and realize that church (with rare exceptions) is not so much of safe place anymore. Its actually safer emotionally and physically to not attend.

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  22. Lea: and you do not get to decide this issue – – only God, Logan, and the church as a whole are granted such authority)

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember paul wagging his finger at people about who was making this determination! He assumed the spouse knew, right? they are in the best position to know.

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  23. The continuing emphasis on formal contracts to be a church member further express the difficulty in our current generation appropriating the doctrine of grace over works. Back in the 1970’s, I was first attracted to faith by the love and care of a wonderful church and loving members. They asked no questions, accepted me without question, and when I professed my faith, I was asked to sign nothing.

    How quickly those days are leaving us . . .

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  24. Awesome advice! Reading this on your blog 3 years ago helped me to resign – and forced HBC to cancel the “Matthew 18” meeting they’d planned in order to slander me. More evangelicals need to read this.

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  25. Spence: The next week we went out of town and my wife started getting texts from the homegroup leaders wife who was asking my wife “whether we were going to commit to the group or not” my wife replied “I guess not”.

    LOL. This is the correct response.

    Like when telemarketers would call on the phone and say ‘don’t you want to save money’ I would say NOPE. and they had no answer.

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  26. Elizabeth,

    “My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    leave.

    life is too short to be associated with narcissistic sociopathic control freaks.

    life is too short to be in a cult.
    —————————-

    “In my last conversation with one of the pastors, he told me that it may say something about my salvation if I wouldn’t become a member. He made no mention of me possibly attending or being a member of a different church that might be a better fit. Only that I might not be a Christian if I don’t become a member of his church.

    He also said that my husband would get more care than me(he became a member) and that I would get more than usual because of him, but I would NOT get the same care as an actual member.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I am so sorry for these circumstances.

    sound as many alarm bells and warning signals as you can. yelp review? dear editor in the local paper? this group is truly dangerous and is not above accountability, no matter how they spiritualize it away.

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  27. Elizabeth: My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave.

    Elizabeth, the conversations that you’ve described with your pastor reveal spiritual abuse. You should leave that church.

    There are a few books you might consider: The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson & VanVonderen; and Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth.

    But first, leave.

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  28. JDV,

    One more thing about that letter. Paul was super chill about people deciding to leave their husband and remain unmarried. If they were following his words, they wouldn’t kick up these concerns until someone got re-married. And yet, we never see that.

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  29. Lance,

    “It is interesting how the pastor abruptly told the speaker how the former youth leader was fired due to drinking and bypassed the issue of what he truly knew about the situation. He basically shut down the questioner…….I wish these men would just speak to the issues instead of focusing on themselves and refrain from preaching when asked to confront issues.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    let’s call him by his name, Matt Chandler.

    i noticed that he allowed for a pause after this. And got some laughs from the audience.

    i noticed this emboldened him, and (if i’m remembering correctly) faced the audience at that point and went into self-righteous preaching mode (as you mention).

    i’m so full of revulsion… was anyone there at this Baptist 21 event not brainwashed? (besides journalists)

    judy woodruff of Newshour should have been in the other chair.

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  30. SiteSeer: Headless Unicorn Guy: WTF is a “Clean Steak”?
    Came from a CHRISTIAN Cow (like in the Steve Taylor song)?

    Life imitates art! Taylor was prescient.

    That’s actually the definition of “clean steak”?
    No Skubalon?

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  31. JDV: He even speaks about God’s “clear command“…

    Just remember that “God’s clear command” also means the Demon Locust Plague of Revelation is “clearly” helicopter gunships armed with chemical-weapon “stingers” and piloted by long-haired bearded Hippies. And all the other Plagues of Revelation are “clearly” Global Thermonuclear War.

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  32. Elizabeth: I was flabbergasted of course and feel that this is cultic, but not surprised given my other experiences with this pastor. He also said that my husband would get more care than me(he became a member) and that I would get more than usual because of him, but I would NOT get the same care as an actual member. I’m not sure what he means – he will ignore my emails? Not talk to me in the halls? He won’t pray for me? This feels like he’s playing favorites(James 2), not to mention isn’t that spiritually manipulative and abusive?! I have no intention of becoming a member here, and nor do I care to have their “care.”

    Talked recently with someone who also left the same SBC church about a year ago over apparent financial issues on a massive scale (we’re talking millions of dollars) and a staff structure that by and large closed ranks and resisted accountability and oversight. This person had been one who dared to ask questions about the financial issues, to which satisfactory answer were, let’s say, elusive.

    She also moved and had asked someone in one of her church groups to stay on the email list in order to keep getting their prayer requests. A deacon assigned to her spoke with her and then sent an email indicating that though people can request still receive prayer list emails, the former member’s strong feelings about the church had this deacon adjudging herself that it was best to make a clean break. Yep, this woman learning who needed prayer was too dangerous, I guess, to the powers that be because she had shined a light on massive financial issues. (John 3:19 comes to mind.) Priorities, don’t you know.

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  33. elastigirl: i noticed that he allowed for a pause after this. And got some laughs from the audience.

    Reminiscent of the standing ovation for Andy Savage after his gross sin was revealed. There is a spirit resting on certain corners of the American church … and it ain’t holy! When the Great God of Entertainment is on the throne, “preachers” perform for an audience which applauds and laughs on cue.

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  34. Lea: Some of these pastors need to be taking a seat here because they are way off.

    Nay nay; these guys often have attended T4G workgroups, read TGC/9 Marks blogs, and of course cracked the spine of some of the books dished out at one conference or another. (Who needs to actually examine and wait on the Holy Spirit’s direction as to what Scripture says or does not say when those casting themselves as anointed authorities are willing to share their exegeses — or proof-text and extrapolation/wresting as the case may be — from their lofty heights? “Top men” have spoken! Worked for the Pharisees…)

    Equipped (sic) as such, many of them fashion thus qualified to freelance accordingly in the lives of those they consider sheep they’re hired to shepherd. And because many of the congregants don’t know better and are deferring to those who are supposed to know the Scriptures, we see the fruit of this when errant teachings are enforced — and amplified with top-down abuses of authority.

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  35. Spence: a staff dictum to start taking attendance in home groups

    New Calvinist “LifeGroups” are designed to corral church members into weekly holding pens so the small group leader (= spy) can keep an eye open for possible dissenters. Depending on the teaching ability of the leader, they may also be weekly indoctrinations into reformed theology (grace-grace-grace) or just social hours. He reports back to the elders if he senses any unrest in the flock, such as concerns about the lead pastor’s sermons or questions about belief and practice at the church. LifeGroup leaders who do a good job in this capacity will be considered for future elder positions, where they can look and feel important (whether they are spiritual men or not), with the ability to join the inner circle with pastor. Small group members who are caught not following in step with church leaders may be taken aside for a lecture, discipline, and/or end up being shunned/excommunicated. It’s such a lovely system these new reformers have.

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  36. Luckyforward:
    The continuing emphasis on formal contracts to be a church member further express the difficulty in our current generation appropriating the doctrine of grace over works. Back in the 1970’s, I was first attracted to faith by the love and care of a wonderful church and loving members.They asked no questions, accepted me without question, and when I professed my faith, I was asked to sign nothing.

    How quickly those days are leaving us . . .

    I fear the evidence is that this is a reaction to the powers that be knowing that because of demographic realities, numbers are going to continue to go down across the Christian Industrial Complex board, which affects their bottom line. If however, some of the bleeding can be stanched by ramping up the pressure on the levers that they figure will keep people in the pews and funding their salaries and brick-and-mortar projects, many of the hirelings are gong to be all over that.

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  37. JDV: Yep, this woman learning who needed prayer was too dangerous, I guess, to the powers that be because she had shined a light on massive financial issues.

    I agree: in that case, the church’s reason for cutting off access is just a way to punish a whistleblower.

    However, prayer lists are sensitive things. Our church has two. The public list has first names (last name optional) printed in the bulletin and prayed aloud during services. A separate list, for long-term and confidential concerns, is shared very sparingly. The person requesting prayer chooses which list to be on. Detailed reasons are rarely shown.

    I have seen another church’s prayer list, circulated by email, that (ahem) allows people to pray specifically: “Suzanne Smith, arrested for shoplifting; Bill and Ann Jones, considering a divorce; Kareem Williams, decided to cease cancer treatment.” Such a list should never be sent outside the church. Personally, I would not share my prayer concerns with a church that had such a juicy list.

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  38. Max: elastigirl: i noticed that he allowed for a pause after this. And got some laughs from the audience.

    Reminiscent of the standing ovation for Andy Savage after his gross sin was revealed.

    “I kill my own mother and still they cheer me!”
    — Caesar Nero, in Paul Maier’s historical novel The Flames of Rome

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  39. JDV: JDV on Fri Jun 14, 2019 at 12:28 PM said:
    Luckyforward:

    I think it is backfiring though. A man told my sister that his and his father’s church asked to see their financial info. He and his father both stopped going to church and said they will never go to church again.

    A preacher in my hometown told the teens whose parents did not come to church that they were trash. Those teens stopping going to church and so did the other teens whose parents did come to church. 20 years later none of those people have been back.

    Preachers keep getting caught in huge scandals. I am from a small town and a preacher here got high and ran over a little girl and killed her. The preacher of the biggest church in my town had an affair with my grandmother. She had seven grandchildren and her oldest grandson told everybody.

    Churches are screwing with everybody and people are saying I am never going back.

    I was brainwashed that I was of the devil if I did not go to church and still I will never go back. People who don’t go to church are a million times nicer than those that do.

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  40. ION: Space

    AWWBA, the next launch of the Falcon Heavy will be (at the time of writing) in 10 days’ time, on June 24th. The payload will include some solar sails… does it get any more interesting than this?

    Also, I think I may’ve thought of a way beyond the jellyfish-shaped hold on the 6c-graded orange route on Panel 8 at the local climbing wall. It involves a desperate-looking mantleshelf move, but it’s not as desperate as my previous attempts to pull beyond the jellyfish on the utterly useless slopers immediately above it.

    IHTIH

    IHTIH

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  41. JDV: I fear the evidence is that this is a reaction to the powers that be knowing that because of demographic realities, numbers are going to continue to go down across the Christian Industrial Complex board, which affects their bottom line. If however, some of the bleeding can be stanched by ramping up the pressure on the levers that they figure will keep people in the pews and funding their salaries and brick-and-mortar projects, many of the hirelings are gong to be all over that.

    Some 35 years ago, I worked in the HQ of a restaurant chain that was circling the drain. One of the reactions of Top Management (“Top Men have spoken”) as things deteriorated was to Golden Their Parachutes by sticking their hands deeper and deeper into the ever-shrinking till.

    I managed to bail out and find another shop before it got to the “What do predators eat when there’s no more prey?” (and the all-important bickering over the Iron Throne while the White Walkers sweep in from the North).

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  42. Nick Bulbeck: It involves a desperate-looking mantleshelf move, but it’s not as desperate as my previous attempts to pull beyond the jellyfish on the utterly useless slopers immediately above it.

    Sounds like Screamer Country.

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  43. Friend: I have seen another church’s prayer list, circulated by email, that (ahem) allows people to pray specifically: “Suzanne Smith, arrested for shoplifting; Bill and Ann Jones, considering a divorce; Kareem Williams, decided to cease cancer treatment.” Such a list should never be sent outside the church. Personally, I would not share my prayer concerns with a church that had such a juicy list.

    FEATURE, not bug.
    (How else can you keep up on all the JUICY gossip while still being Holy and Respectable?)

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  44. Max: New Calvinist “LifeGroups” are designed to corral church members into weekly holding pens so the small group leader (= spy) can keep an eye open for possible dissenters.

    You mean Party Cell Groups with Thought Police Commissars?

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  45. Max,

    Not really the sole domain of the New Calvinists. Shunning or “The Ban” was common in anabaptist circles long before the good old USA appeared on the scene, even to the extent of exclusion of a wife from “Bed and Board”.
    (The Radical Reformation, p743).

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  46. Headless Unicorn Guy: (How else can you keep up on all the JUICY gossip while still being Holy and Respectable?)

    Baptists don’t have gossip, they have prayer requests 😉

    I would argue that ‘so and so shoplifted’ is probably too juicy for an email, period, because email is not a secure line of communication in any way and any email can be forwarded…

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  47. Lowlandseer: Not really the sole domain of the New Calvinists. Shunning or “The Ban” was common in anabaptist circles long before the good old USA appeared on the scene …

    Yeah, it’s an archaic practice that largely disappeared from Christendom … until the New Calvinists retrieved it from darkness to manipulate, intimidate, and dominate church members.

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  48. Elizabeth: My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave.

    If what you say is true (and I’ve no basis to doubt it) then you are faced with one of the most important choices you’ll ever make.

    You CAN leave. No-one has the power to stop you. The choice is to believe that, or to believe those who dismiss your salvation if you leave. If you stay, it may seem easier in the short term. But you’ll be in slavery for years.

    You’ve no reason to believe me when I say this; you’ve never met me. All I can say, from bitter experience, is this: If you let religious leaders take dominion over you, and give in to their demands to give them the right to treat you like dirt, then they will. And it may be a long time before any possibility of freedom comes round again.

    Get out. Now.

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  49. Friend: I have seen another church’s prayer list, circulated by email, that (ahem) allows people to pray specifically: “Suzanne Smith, arrested for shoplifting; Bill and Ann Jones, considering a divorce; Kareem Williams, decided to cease cancer treatment.” Such a list should never be sent outside the church. Personally, I would not share my prayer concerns with a church that had such a juicy list.

    I don’t really have a problem with such a list, because I like to know why I am praying for a person and there should be no secrets among the Church. But, I also grew up in a small church where instead of being put on a list, you would make prayer requests aloud during the service. And, the church was small enough that we all knew everything anyway.

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  50. Max: Yeah, it’s an archaic practice that largely disappeared from Christendom … until the New Calvinists retrieved it from darkness to manipulate, intimidate, and dominate church members.

    I’m afraid shunning is not an innovation of the New Calvinists. It’s been a tool used by spiritually abusive organizations for decades.

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  51. Jarrett Edwards: I don’t really have a problem with such a list, because I like to know why I am praying for a person and there should be no secrets among the Church. But, I also grew up in a small church where instead of being put on a list, you would make prayer requests aloud during the service. And, the church was small enough that we all knew everything anyway.

    I am more comfortable taking the time to bring my concern for someone to God, who knows far more about that person’s deep needs. Even if I have the basics, how should I know whether God wants the arrested person to be let off the hook, pay a fine, spend a night in the pokey?

    It’s great that you were in a small and trustworthy church. Many church members think they have a Christian duty to marginalize a teen with a DUI, shun a couple with an infidelity problem, or invade the hospital room of someone who is dying. Sometimes people recover better, from illness or sin or especially shame, without a lot of attention.

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  52. Robert M: I’m afraid shunning is not an innovation of the New Calvinists. It’s been a tool used by spiritually abusive organizations for decades.

    Spiritually abusive people and organizations have been around for millenniums . . .

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  53. Elizabeth,

    Welcome, Elizabeth, and I am truly sorry that you are experiencing what so many of us also have with authoritarian, spiritually abusive churches. May I just share that I know, from personal experience, how doubly hard it is when your spouse does not see what you see, and does not wish to leave.

    I would not presume to tell you what to do. I just want you to know that others of us have been there. And for me at least, I came to the point where I had to put my relationship with God before my relationship with my spouse. I know them’s fightin’ words in our circles, but I did not see any other alternative.

    It isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. But my conscience would not allow me to remain, and I have, over time, gained a great deal of peace and healing after getting out. I’m not sure my marriage will ever recover, and that is a sad thing to have to acknowledge. But when it comes down to the wire, we are individuals responsible to God above our relationships with all others. I will pray that God gives you courage, strength and wisdom as you seek his direction.

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  54. Elizabeth: My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave.

    My husband and I have been in this situation, twice. First, at an A29 church, where he was the one to recognize unhealthy patterns and I was not ready to leave. Second, at an HBC plant, and this time I was the one wanting to leave. In both situations, something finally happened that was so ridiculous, the spouse with the big blind spot could no longer excuse it. At the A29 church, financial insolvency that was blamed entirely on the congregation. At the HBF plant, leaders coming to our house and questioning my “heart” and “ability to submit to leadership” in front of our children.

    No idea how how entrenched your family is, or how long you’ve wanted out. Just wanted to encourage you to continue to be a loving voice of reason to your spouse. I echo TS00:

    TS00: I would not presume to tell you what to do. I just want you to know that others of us have been there. And for me at least, I came to the point where I had to put my relationship with God before my relationship with my spouse.

    For myself, I also had to remember that my relationship with my spouse was more important to me than where we were going to church. But it’s hard to keep those relational priorities (God, spouse, church) balanced when the church one is so out of whack. Praying your husband’s eyes are opened sooner rather than later.

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  55. Elizabeth:
    Hello, I’m basically new to commenting but have kept up with this blog a while and have appreciated the thoughts expressed. My husband and I have been part of an Acts 29 church for a few years, though I wish we could leave. Before I knew too much about Acts 29, we went through the membership class. I couldn’t bring myself to sign the covenant,however, because the approach to church discipline seemed heavy handed and I didn’t know the character of who I was “submitting” to.
    In my last conversation with one of the pastors, he told me that it may say something about my salvation if I wouldn’t become a member. He made no mention of me possibly attending or being a member of a different church that might be a better fit. Only that I might not be a Christian if I don’t become a member of his church. I was flabbergasted of course and feel that this is cultic, but not surprised given my other experiences with this pastor. He also said that my husband would get more care than me(he became a member) and that I would get more than usual because of him, but I would NOT get the same care as an actual member. I’m not sure what he means – he will ignore my emails? Not talk to me in the halls? He won’t pray for me? This feels like he’s playing favorites(James 2), not to mention isn’t that spiritually manipulative and abusive?! I have no intention of becoming a member here, and nor do I care to have their “care.”
    Pastors who make these covenants must have a abusive tendencies themselves, therefore they won’t/can’t support victims because they might be forced to look at themselves.

    In all candor, these are Acts 29 self-styled leaders. I would expect absolutely nothing out of them except fake cleanness outside and corruption inside. If you expect that, anything decent and honest, deep-down Christ-like that comes from them will be a pleasant surprise. It would probably do you no good whatsoever to ask him just what he means by these different levels of care. He probably hasn’t thought through what he’s telling you and if pressed, would likely hem and haw and say some irrational nonsense and then come to hate you behind your back for daring to challenge him to back up his words. And it’s probably not anything real anyway, just a bully tactic to get you to sign up so he has greater control over you.

    As I’ve said on this forum over and over ad nauseum, I served as an elder in a neocal, it was a church that was part of a denomination loosely connected to Acts 29. In fact, they suggested Acts 29 as a legitimate alternative if someone happened to move to an area without one of our brands. They promoted Acts 29 and Sovereign Grace. It ended up being, of course, an extraordinarily abusive cult. And they tried to shove the membership covenants right straight down people’s throats. That’s the way too many of these people roll.

    Don’t let these people hurt your relationship with Jesus, though. He hates it also when those claiming to represent Him use it to dominate, when they try to use man-made documents to control people and manipulate them. I don’t recall Jesus controlling and manipulating. Ever. That control and manipulation stuff (e.g., “If you don’t sign this paper, we won’t give you same care or love of Jesus we give to those who do”) is from hell. It sure doesn’t sound anything like Jesus. Anti-Jesus.

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  56. If a person is truly committed to love God and their neighbor, then the lack of a contract is not going to keep them from doing it. If a person is not committed to love God and their neighbor, then the existence of a contract is not going to cause them to do it.

    As a lawyer who has written contracts, sued on behalf of clients for the breach of them, and had my organization sued because we had breached them, trust that there is nothing about a contract that changes a heart. You might conform to one because you fear the consequences of not doing so—but is that a legitimate thing to do to someone who has freedom in Jesus?

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  57. Jarrett Edwards,

    ” don’t really have a problem with such a list, because I like to know why I am praying for a person and there should be no secrets among the Church.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    i’ve observed that people in church culture indeed know too many things about too many people. too many very private things, which they share liberally with others. not with bad intentions, necessarily — but because people are trained to be so open, trained to believe they are a family. and they are open with what is happening and has been happening in other people’s lives.

    i’ve noticed that people who are not steeped in church culture are shocked by this. appalled at sensitive and private information about themselves and others sort of being publicly owned.

    i think this is a an error — i think individuals in church culture need to be on guard with this tendency, and exercise better judgement concerning sensitive information about self and others.

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  58. Robert M: I’m afraid shunning is not an innovation of the New Calvinists. It’s been a tool used by spiritually abusive organizations for decades.

    We experienced it at a GARB church. I think it is part of the DNA of any abusive church.

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  59. Friend,

    “Many church members think they have a Christian duty to… invade the hospital room of someone who is dying.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    omg, yes. a totally inappropriate intrusion. i’ve come to see one’s health, one’s dying, one’s death as intensely personal. a sacred thing, only for their closest inner circle.

    again, i am amazed at the liberties christians in church culture take with other people’s lives.

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  60. And about that “clean” red meat Matt Chandler is marketing for your health–

    AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
    https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/diet-exercise-and-your-cancer-risk.html
    Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and instead of processed meat (bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs).

    ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION
    https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/adopt_a_healthy_diet
    Decrease your intake of fats, red meats, sweets, sugared beverages and sodium.

    NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH:
    https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/eating-red-meat-daily-triples-heart-disease-related-chemical
    Compared to people eating diets rich in white meat or plant-based protein, those who ate a diet rich in red meat had triple the levels of a chemical linked to heart disease.

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  61. DebWill,

    Also, let me speak as the mother of a daughter who had a bad brain tumor when she was 3. She is remarkable well now and is a trauma nurse. However, the last thing any family needs to have laid on their shoulders while dealing with a child with a serious cancer is this. “Eat my expensive meat and it will help prevent further Brin tumors.” The amount of money spent on child suffering child is enormous. It costs so much that BC/BS assigned us our own insurance person who watched over the money being spent by the hospital in her care, The ancillary costs are so much that my husband left academic research to go into private practice to help deal with the expenses.

    Look at how much the steak costs on the photo above. And then, there is the guilt laid on the family that they are not doing enough for their sick child. The child now need Chadler’s hamburger

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  62. elastigirl,

    It also doesn’t help when church folks share all the intimate details of their lives with their 500 social media friends, who continue to post and repost. I believe in prayer; I also value my privacy. After my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years ago, I went silent on Facebook until after she passed. One friend had already tried to convince me she could be”cured” by radio waves and a church staff with whom I was close (not anymore, by the way) was going to try and see my Mom to convert her, despite the fact that we had made sure that only family could visit. My mom and I discussed her spirituality at length, and my message about Jesus was as clear as it had ever been. I enjoy social media, but I am very careful.

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  63. dee,

    Dee,

    My husband died of glioblastoma four years ago and it always makes me so happy to hear of someone who beat any kind of brain tumor. I bet your daughter is an excellent nurse due to her experiences with fighting and overcoming that tumor.

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  64. dee,

    Dee, you are so right, and you know from your own story what a family needs!

    Maybe Chandler uses his profit margins from his expensive red meat to help get affordable, accessible fruits and veggies in the many Texas neighborhoods with “food deserts?” Oh, wait–that can’t be true. Texas Craft Steaks is not set up as a 501c-3, tax-exempt charity organization–yet.

    (Thanks for letting me “snark” this morning.)

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  65. Law Prof: It would probably do you no good whatsoever to ask him just what he means by these different levels of care. He probably hasn’t thought through what he’s telling you and if pressed, would likely hem and haw and say some irrational nonsense

    That would be reason enough for me. Sometimes the best way to make it obvious how dumb something someone has said is is to ask questions about it…

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  66. Lea,

    “…He probably hasn’t thought through what he’s telling you and if pressed, would likely hem and haw and say some irrational nonsense”
    +++++++++++++++++

    sounds like entertainment to me!

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  67. Thanks for all the responses. I don’t think I’ll be able to move us out of this church anytime soon, but will do my best. It’s nice to know others see the same issues with this Acts 29 mentality. God knows the truth of my heart and he will always have the last word.

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  68. elastigirl: i’ve observed that people in church culture indeed know too many things about too many people. too many very private things, which they share liberally with others. not with bad intentions, necessarily — but because people are trained to be so open, trained to believe they are a family. and they are open with what is happening and has been happening in other people’s lives.

    And yet, if there is a crime going on in the church, they are remarkably tight lipped about it.

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  69. Linn: After my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years ago, I went silent on Facebook until after she passed. One friend had already tried to convince me she could be”cured” by radio waves

    You can’t imagine some of the ideas, articles, and books well-meaning Christians sent when my husband was dying of incurable cancer. I was just shocked, to be honest, at the things some Christians believe. It made me ask myself, is Jesus just another kooky bunch of fiction?

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  70. dee: “Eat my expensive meat and it will help prevent further Brin tumors.”

    So the definition of “gospelly clean steak” is “$45/lb ($100/kilo) Sure Cure for Cancer”?

    Wwy do I suddenly hear a duck?

    (And after all the “Veganism & Vitamins” Cancer Sure Cures the Medical Establishment Conspiracy is Keeping from You(TM), you’d expect some Red Meat types would try for equal time.)

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  71. elastigirl: let’s call him by his name, Matt Chandler.

    i noticed that he allowed for a pause after this. And got some laughs from the audience.

    i noticed this emboldened him, and (if i’m remembering correctly) faced the audience at that point and went into self-righteous preaching mode (as you mention).

    i’m so fYou are correct-the audience did not help this situation and the interviewer let Matt dictate the the rest of the conversation. This was not a situation to play nice. It allowed Chandler to dodge the issue and turn on the “pastoral” charm.

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  72. “i’m so fYou are correct-the audience did not help this situation and the interviewer let Matt dictate the the rest of the conversation. This was not a situation to play nice. It allowed Chandler to dodge the issue and turn on the “pastoral” charm.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    my working hypothesis is that just about all of the men in the audience have lost touch with objectivity and were like putty

    i’m equally repulsed and incensed by audience, moderator, and speaker.

    and that is why TWW, similar blogs, and journalists like Elizabeth Dias are here. accountability has to come from somewhere.

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  73. SiteSeer,

    that must have been so hard. i’m so sorry.

    christians surprisingly buy into magical thinking and superstition. perhaps it’s a need to have answers, have everything figured out.

    perhaps it’s the net result of too many pat answers that reduce the mysteries of life and and God and spirituality down to simple and predictable cause and effect.

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  74. dee: “Eat my expensive meat and it will help prevent further Brain tumors.”

    “A comprehensive review of thousands of studies on diet, physical activity, and weight conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research pointed to the benefits of eating mostly foods of plant origin … scientists know more about what not to eat – processed meats, salty foods, sugary drinks, red meat – than which fruits and vegetables to pile on your plate. But they do know those foods matter.”

    https://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/seven-easy-to-find-foods-that-may-help-fight-cancer#1

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  75. SiteSeer: It made me ask myself, is Jesus just another kooky bunch of fiction?

    You’re not alone SiteSeer.

    I’ve asked myself the same.

    And yet, I still pray to the God who’s undecided, even though I know full well that on the great roulette wheel of life there might not be a happy ending for me or my loved ones.

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  76. Muff Potter,

    “And yet, I still pray to the God who’s undecided, even though I know full well that on the great roulette wheel of life there might not be a happy ending for me or my loved ones.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    …….i have a hard time not believing that plain ol’ “common sense” (that comes up here often) factors in to sorting out the “now” relative to the hereafter.

    i don’t know how clear i was there.

    i see God-like convictions in people all over the religious faith spectrum. convictions, like compassion and kindness and fairness and generosity and humility, that informs what they do, how they live their life.

    i see unGod-like convictions in people who claim to be christians. convictions, like self-centeredness, desire for power and fame, not bothered by cruelty, greed, laziness, comatose compassion and empathy (see, i could go on and on here),…that informs what they do, how they live their life.

    Common sense tells me that there is something extremely incorrect and untrue about the notion that the hereafter hinges only on whether or not you did the ‘christian’ equivalent of peeling off the little “I Voted” sticker and stuck it to your shirt.

    is this making sense?

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  77. elastigirl,

    or, perhaps i could say it like this:

    i think you can know and understand God/Jesus/Holy Spirit but have no idea that you know them.

    I think you can believe that you know and understand God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and have no idea that you don’t know them at all.

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  78. Bridget: Robert M: I’m afraid shunning is not an innovation of the New Calvinists. It’s been a tool used by spiritually abusive organizations for decades.
    Spiritually abusive people and organizations have been around for millenniums . . .

    Yep, going back at least as far as the scribes and Pharisees in Judea, according to the gospels at least.

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  79. elastigirl: i see God-like convictions in people all over the religious faith spectrum. convictions, like compassion and kindness and fairness and generosity and humility, that informs what they do, how they live their life.

    i see unGod-like convictions in people who claim to be christians. convictions, like self-centeredness, desire for power and fame, not bothered by cruelty, greed, laziness, comatose compassion and empathy (see, i could go on and on here),…that informs what they do, how they live their life.

    Common sense tells me that there is something extremely incorrect and untrue about the notion that the hereafter hinges only on whether or not you did the ‘christian’ equivalent of peeling off the little “I Voted” sticker and stuck it to your shirt.

    is this making sense?

    Elastigirl, your posts so often resonate with me. You put into words so eloquently what I am sensing but unable to wrap up in a good description. This is one of those posts.

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  80. Muff Potter: And yet, I still pray to the God who’s undecided, even though I know full well that on the great roulette wheel of life there might not be a happy ending for me or my loved ones.

    thank you, Muff Potter, it’s good to know I’m not alone. This pretty much describes the uneasy tension I find myself in these days.

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