Thom Rainer: You Are Too Dumb and Divisive to Vote for Church Staff


Big Eyes

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion. William Inge


 

Well, this tweet sums up my irritable response to Who should select the church staff? by Thom Rainer.

Rainer appears to have a rather low view of the ability of church members to have a say in who gets to select the staff for a church. Mind you, he does appear to think the members should vote for the senior guy. Forgive me if I suspect that he barely tolerates the little people messing with this illustrious office but, for the sake of discussion, we’ll give it to him.

It appears to me that he thinks the senior dude should have the say but it might be a good idea if he asks a few of the dudebros ,just in case. This technique is well known in the medical world in which a consultant is the guy who helps the attending “carry out the body.”

Rainer often does a good job looking down his nose at the little people.

Congregational votes for staff can be problematic. Pastors should do a thorough work to prepare for that vote. No, I am not a fan of congregational votes for staff members other than the pastor. Most of the members do not have nearly the knowledge of the prospective staff member as those making the recommendation, whether it’s a pastor or a committee. Sometimes the process can become a popularity contest. Sometimes members in the church are mad because their cousin was not chosen. If a congregational vote is mandated by polity or bylaws, the pastor should be fully prepared to answer any or all questions about the candidate before the vote takes place.

Let me say something to Rainer. I’ve been in many a church in which the lead pastor does select associate pastors like his own son or his soon to be best buddy who will nominate him to the council of a select gospel™ organization.

He seems to think that only the little guys make the selection of ancillary staff a *popularity* context. Good night! You should have seen a former church, new senior pastor who, for his first sermon, mentioned John Piper and Mark Driscoll in the opening run on sentence. He selected his best buddy who was a CJ Mahaney look alike and speak alike who, upon being introduced to one group of adults, explained that we were all equal but made sure everyone knew that he was the one with *authority.*  Dee turned to her husband and said “We are so screwed.” We got outta there.

Rainer gets quite concerned about divisiveness. Therefore, he wants the little guys to stand down. I actually feel bad for Rainer and his 30 years of churches. I am in a church in which congregational votes work and there aren’t knock down drag out fights over the matter. Sometimes, I suspect that Thom Rainer may be a little thin skinned, imagining that all disagreements are attacks on his carefully won *authority.*

In the end, I believe church members should vote for those who will function in any capacity as pastor/minister. I am so sorry that Rainer, as he leaves his extremely lucrative position at Lifeway, has such a dim view of church members. It was those church members in SBC churches who contributed their hard earned dollars to making sure that Rainer was paid so well that he retires at 62 with the ability to winter in one location and summer in another. 

Maybe he’s correct. Maybe we are stupid one and he is the one who made out very, very well.

 


Comments

Thom Rainer: You Are Too Dumb and Divisive to Vote for Church Staff — 198 Comments

  1. Gracious! No wonder our former pastor wanted to do away with congregationalism! It prevents nepotism and despotism all at the same time! We were wise to stand our ground. It’s amazing to me how many ‘church leaders’ rail on the stupidity of the congregation, yet gladly take a paycheck from them! Maybe we should ask the members at Harvest Bible Chapel or some other gargantuan megachurch if they wished they would’ve had some say in some of their staffing decisions…

    Isn’t it interesting that Thom Rainer chose to retire only AFTER flying Lifeway into the ground? My daughter worked for them when they started making so many bone-headed business decisions under his brilliant ‘leadership’. Now, they have pretty much closed all of their stores.

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  2. I was just chuckling over Church Curmudgeon’s tweet in response to one of Ranier’s dumb comments. I think Ranier is the perfect example of a dudebro who is successful despite their abilities.

    Ranier: “Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service drives away first-time guests.”

    Church Curmudgeon: “We’ve tried all these things and it works. Thanks, Dr. Rainer!”
    https://t.co/U9m5R0gP6r

    I wonder… What are the statistics for churches who retain more members? Do they have greeting times? Of course, that sort of thinking isn’t acceptable for mere members like me, right?

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  3. And this shows he doesn’t believe the other pastors on staff are as worthy as the “Senior” Pastor, which is a bunch of baloney. Just because your calling is to music or education or youth or children or whatever doesn’t mean it’s any less God’s calling on your life than preaching. I’m tired of this super reverance of one pastor over all others…..

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  4. Fae Mr Rainer’s post:

    Sometimes the process can become a popularity contest. Sometimes members in the church are mad because their cousin was not chosen.

    I had to laugh at this. And sometimes it can become a sucking-up-to-the-CEO contest, and sometimes the CEO is mad because the congregation express their sinfulness by asking him questions.

    ROFL!

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  5. He selected his best buddy who was a CJ Mahaney look alike and speak alike who, upon being introduced to one group of adults, explained that we were all equal but made sure everyone knew that he was the one with *authority.*

    “All Animals are Equal
    BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”
    — G.Orwell, Animal Farm

    Headless Unicorn Guy: Thom Ranier or Comrade Napoleon of Animal Farm (“OINK! OINK!”)?

    PEGGED IT IN ONE!

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  6. Rainer has a low view of everyone except himself. I worked at Lifeway for eleven years until the day I didn’t. If you had 10 years and were 55 you were toast. He ran LW into the ground and the only one who benefited was Thom.

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  7. I just found out the attitude that “The pew-sitters don’t need to know” is thriving in the elder board of my own small church. It’s a non-denom elder led church in which the elders periodically choose men for the board, then present them to the congregation to “affirm” or “not affirm” by anonymous ballot. Once I have known of someone “not affirmed”, probably because he was not well known. And then a big deal is made to “install” them during a service, pray over them, the whole nine yards. So the congregation feels involved.

    But recently an elder abruptly left the church. Nothing official was announced as weeks passed. A former elder (now elderly) suggested the board make a brief announce of his departure because he’d found out via the grapevine and that was a poor way to disseminate information. Another former elder (also now elderly) suggested the same thing and that silence looked as if there was something being hidden. I made a suggestion to the chair that they do the same thing, because quiet rumors were stirring: Was the departing elder in disgrace? Had he left his wife? What was going on?

    This was more than two months ago. Crickets. Questions are still quietly floating. When I eventually asked an elder, a friend, if the board had discussed our suggestions to announce the departure, he was irate with me and called me “arrogant” for being so sure I was right that they should announce it. The board is apparently of the opinion that it would create gossip to announce, “We are sad that So-and-so has left the elder board. We’ve appreciated his service to us for X-number of years. If you’d like to read his resignation letter, please email the board. We wish him and his family well.”

    The quiet gossip is already there because it looks irregular for a leader to disappear without a word. But I’m glad we have a clear picture of what the current elder board thinks of the congregation: we are so unimportant we don’t have to be informed.

    And no, there was nothing improper happening with the elder who left. His wife simply wanted to attend the church where her brother is. Desperately, insistently. So they left in quietness. It only matters that he left because he was a leader and we make a big deal of our leaders being “called by God” to serve.

    So. Not only is our congregation not permitted any meaningful say in WHO our so-called leaders are, we are not even permitted to know when they LEAVE! Sheesh.

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  8. Rainer: “If a congregational vote is mandated by polity or bylaws, the pastor should be fully prepared to answer any or all questions about the candidate before the vote takes place.”

    Shouldn’t the pastor be fully prepared to answer questions regardless of whether there is a congregational vote? To be otherwise would seem to indicate a lack of knowledge of the candidate or the position being filled.

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  9. Thom Rainer posted this to Twitter this morning:

    “Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service drives away first-time guests.”

    I replied:

    “You know what else makes people not want to even enter your churches, Thom? Hiding child sexual abuse. This goes on and on and on. You people have never repented of the ongoing abuse of children. I could go on with other things, but churches are UNSAFE for children. #EmptyThePews”

    No response, naturally, but he hasn’t blocked me yet.

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  10. ishy,

    Knowing what we know about child predators in general AND the apparently lax controls around volunteers and pastors at TVC, it would not even BEGIN to surprise me that this person was also abusing children at TVC. But given the way TVC approaches these incidents (i.e., sweeps them under the biggest rugs they can find), families who may have children who were abused are likely to NEVER find out from TVC. They might find out from the paper if/when this guy gets charged. And then ask questions.

    This is a horrible, horrible way to handle child sexual abuse and I have no problem with calling Thom Rainer out on that. Until the churches deal with their child sexual abuse coverup problem, the churches are not safe UNLESS you do your due diligence and make sure they’ve got a good program in place.

    Not that I want to make suggestions to Dee, but Dee, maybe some guidelines for parents seeking to determine if their church is doing a good job of screening volunteers and staff?

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  11. ishy,

    The Village Church seems to ALWAYS take the work of the perpetrator that nothing happened at TVC. It seems to me that they can’t possibly know if anything happened at a TVC event without making an announcement in their services that “a perpetrator has been among them and please ask your children if this man has had inappropriate contact with them.”

    TVC is naive to the point of negligence in regards to the cunning of perpetrators. Their churches are not safe because of this.

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  12. Does anyone know of churches or denominations that do not allow the senior pastor to select, or at least have a big influence, on his or her pastoral staff? I suppose it could work, but I would find it very difficult to be responsible for the performance of people I didn’t want to hire, and didn’t have any real voice in their hiring. I also would find it hard to take responsibility for the vision and direction of the church, since those things would conceivably be implemented by people that may have a different idea of ministry than I. I understand that the United States used to appoint the second-place finisher (in electoral votes) as Vice President.

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  13. I was appalled that Mr. Ranier made no mention in his article of the role of prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit in selecting staff members! Is not Jesus the head of the church? Wouldn’t it be wise to ask Him who he wants in that position? Is Jesus not capable of guiding even lowly pew sitters who are seeking his will to make a wise choice?

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  14. Brian: Could the alleged pedophiles blog post have been an attempt at grooming?

    That’s how it appeared to me.

    TVC keeps promising they do things right now, but these secret meetings are anything but right. And as Anna pointed out, she knew at least one person whose child was involved with Andy around was left out, because they had left the church. No one should trust TVC with their children ever.

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  15. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Wow . . . how far the SBC has moved from its roots. In 1979 I departed Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with M.Div. in hand to my first pastorate in Chapel Hill, NC. The authoritarian fires that would erupt in the “conservative resurgence” of the SBC were already smoldering. One of my professors offered a prophetic statement: “The discussion of the seminaries being liberal is a smoke screen. Those who want takeover the Convention don’t just want control of the agencies and seminaries. Their goal is to control the local church.” As we say here in Tennessee, “‘nuf said.”
    As for the years I served as a senior pastor, I was instrumental in the calling of many staff ministers, but Baptist polity WAS built on congregational control. I liked it that way as staff needed the support of the entire church, not just the pastor. Thus the entire church needed to be part of the calling process by voting.
    At this juncture, I think the SBC should do one of two things: 1. Just sell out and join the PCA. 2. Rename itself the “Reformed Southern Baptist Convention.”

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  16. An interesting remembrance about Baptist polity . . .
    My third pastorate was a small town “FIRST Baptist” church, so you know what that means in terms of local importance . . . Anyway, lest I digress. A local physician joined the church and made it clear from day one he wanted to be a deacon. He mounted an effective campaign and was elected to the deacon board the next year and even gained the chairmanship. About three months into his term, he announced that, “Rather than the church being guided by congregational voting, I think we need to go to a system where the top three tithers in the church become the “elders” and all control of the church falls to them. I am prepared to vote on this motion during this meeting.” A holy hush fell across the room.
    In a few moments, an older deacon, who was not one of the top tithers stood and quietly said, “Son, I think you have your churches mixed up. This is a Baptist church where everyone has a say. I think it might be a good idea for you to move your membership to a church that wants to play by your rules.”
    Three months later, the physician did just that . . . he departed for a Reformed church in town where in fact he did become the “Head Elder” who promptly kept the church in turmoil until it split and died five years later.

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  17. The real problem is often not the polity form or who votes for what. The problem is deeper.

    Many pastors and ministry leaders in the church world can’t stand to be told “no”.

    They think they are called to lead. They may answer to a board, a congregation, whatever. But those are often details. They want to manipulate those boards and congregations to become rubber stamps.

    This was/is the root problem with Mahaney, Patterson, Akin, Mohler et al. No one ever says “no” to them.

    Most congregations would affirm whomever the pastor recommends for a staff position. Rainer just wants to skip the process because it’s divisive.

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  18. Oracle at Delphi: Most congregations would affirm whomever the pastor recommends for a staff position. Rainer just wants to skip the process because it’s divisive.

    Exactly! My experience has been that most congregations typically confirm those who are recommended for staff positions. Most of the time, it’s no big deal. Rainer, on the other hand, is just afraid that people might ask questions or have better ideas, and as an ‘leader’ in the church, he can have NONE of that!

    Our former Neo-Cal pastor left our church in a huff mainly because the congregation told him ‘no’!
    We wanted no part of his desire to ‘Calvinize’ our church, and we stood up against him. He saw that as a threat instead of considering the possibility that he might be wrong. I urged him to reconsider, but this whole sneaky-church-takeover-thing is an “all or nothing” kind of affair! But in the end, the only one who wound up being divisive was him…the rest of the church was fairly united against it!

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  19. Sarah:
    I was appalled that Mr. Ranier made no mention in his article of the role of prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit in selecting staff members!Is not Jesus the head of the church? Wouldn’t it be wise to ask Him who he wants in that position?Is Jesus not capable of guiding even lowly pew sitters who are seeking his will to make a wise choice?

    Excellent observation! And as I seem to recall, the Apostle Paul said that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” God’s Kingdom doesn’t operate like a Fortune 500 business! Without Christ, we can do nothing at all. However, in Rainer’s world, the Holy Spirit and His guidance is tragically absent in the decision-making process.

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  20. time the Ascol clan managed to beat back criticism from congregants:

    https://world.wng.org/2015/05/the_family_business

    “The Ascols, a pastor’s family in Cape Coral, Fla., had…a particularly tumultuous season in their church in 2010…deacons…ganged up against the senior pastor with the explicit goal of firing him. They called the pastor a liar, accused him of gossip and bad temper. Meetings ended with people jumping up and yelling.”

    “most of the six Ascol children had grown up, but they still attended the same Baptist church their father pastored…they concluded, ‘The devil is attacking the ministry’.”

    “‘That year was probably the closest I got to being, ‘I’m done—done with this church. I’m walking away’,’ said Sarah Ascol, the oldest. ‘It shook us—shook our whole family’.’

    “After all the rabble-rousers rolled out, every PK jumped in to fill the gaps left in various ministries”

    Joel Ascol: ‘we’ve gone to war to fight for this church'”

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  21. Thom Rainer is showing a remarkable lack of trust in the very people he knows and teaches. What does he think of the US jury system, and of voting in elections for public office? If church members can’t be trusted to size up job candidates for their own congregation, they can’t possibly discern guilt in a court of law, or identify the best person running for a senate seat.

    Oh, I know, church is different, and none of the usual rules apply.

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  22. “Congregational votes for staff can be problematic …”

    What Rainer is really saying is that he doesn’t want the pew to stand in the way of more New Calvinists (his tribe) infiltrating the SBC. If church members don’t want to get with the flow, that would be “problematic” for the New Calvinist movement.

    “Pastors should do a thorough work to prepare for that vote …”

    What Rainer is really saying is that New Calvinist pastors, who have already infiltrated the flock by stealth and deception, should indoctrinate the pew with reformed belief and practice to “prepare” them before he replaces congregational polity with elder rule.

    In the meantime, the Bible stil exhorts church members to choose their leaders (Acts 6).

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  23. Jerome,

    That article was really troubling. If that is how many pastors and their families view ministry and the people they are ministering to, no wonder there is such a lack of trust on both sides of the pulpit.

    On a side note, the author’s father was scheduled to preach on a Wednesday night, and her family thought she might be dying. Her father considered canceling preaching, but just prayed for his daughter and left. And the daughter thinks this was the right thing to do. A Wednesday evening sermon that most people will soon forget compared to being at your daughter’s side when she passes into heaven.

    Is this normal?

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  24. Max: What Rainer is really saying is that New Calvinist pastors, who have already infiltrated the flock by stealth and deception, should indoctrinate the pew with reformed belief and practice to “prepare” them before he replaces congregational polity with elder rule.

    Yep, our former YRR Neo-Cal pastor always said, “I’m going to teach on that.” That was his way of controlling the narrative so that we would rubber-stamp what he had already snuck in the back door. It didn’t work…we weighed what he said against what we already knew that the Bible said!

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  25. Root 66: our former YRR Neo-Cal pastor always said, “I’m going to teach on that” … we weighed what he said against what we already knew that the Bible said!

    Wisdom. The problem is that too many church members trust church leaders to give it to them straight. They won’t read their Bibles, entrusting the “lead pastor” to teach them “truth” without any effort on their part. You simply can’t do that! Paul was serious when he said “Study to show yourself approved … rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

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  26. Max: You simply can’t do that! Paul was serious when he said “Study to show yourself approved … rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

    And the Bereans studied the Word diligently to see if what Paul was saying was true!

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  27. No, I am not a fan of congregational votes for staff members other than the pastor. Most of the members do not have nearly the knowledge of the prospective staff member as those making the recommendation, whether it’s a pastor or a committee.

    I mean, is it common for congregations to vote on say church secretary, accountant, janitor, etc? I can’t remember if we vote on these things at my church, but we definitely vote on all ministerial positions, and they are chosen by a committee. I can’t say I really disagree that the entire church body might not have the knowledge of candidates but if it done by a committee of members the congregation will usually trust their recommendations (unless there is something really shady going on in the church).

    I think being above board about the selection process is really important, though, and I’m tired of the obvious nepotism that happens way too often in some churches.

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  28. Translation – “They were dumb enough to affirm me to my role at the convention, thank goodness, why would we let Pew Peons interfere with the proper running of our job placement program?”

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  29. Ishy: Rainer: “Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service drives away first-time guests.”

    Rainer is such a dull guy – he always “rains” on parties. Sure hope church folks aren’t listening to his consulting advice. I wonder when he was a pastor if any first-time guests called him and told him they weren’t coming back because church members welcomed them?

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  30. Ishy: Ranier: “Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service drives away first-time guests.”

    We visited a church once where the pastor told everyone to stand up, turn around, and greet the person behind them. Think about it …

    In visiting churches over the years, we were driven away from ones where the members ‘didn’t’ welcome us.

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  31. Max,

    Yeah, that’s a really weird one. I could understand the REALLY old method of “Visitors please stand, so we know who you are” being uncomfortable. (Or maybe only I ran into churches like that – I wouldn’t stand, even if I was the ONLY new face. No, no way.)

    But the 3 minute meet and greet being intimidating? Meh, just look down at your bulletin, no one will accost you.

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  32. ishy,

    ” What is interesting to note is that Landrum & Neal Batman were ROOMMATES, which is a living situation that is encouraged for singles at TVC. ”

    From that article, why is tvc church encouraging single adults to be roommates? That’s weird, right? No one at my church has any opinion on my living situation as far as i know.

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  33. Luckyforward: At this juncture, I think the SBC should do one of two things: 1. Just sell out and join the PCA.

    Honestly, as a presbyterian (not pca), we seem to have better transparency and church participation than i’m hearing out of the SBC these days. At least we don’t have one person making all decisions!

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  34. Lea: From that article, why is tvc church encouraging single adults to be roommates? That’s weird, right? No one at my church has any opinion on my living situation as far as i know.

    Oh, I didn’t even fully comprehend that part. That is super weird.

    I couldn’t even come up for a decent rationalization for it except maybe they didn’t want “Christians” to share apartments with “nonbelievers”. But New Cals tend to be pretty uncaring about such things in my experience, since they believe their election can’t be shared or removed. I was considering the church control issue. A lot of cults have rules like that.

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  35. Lea: He was apparently teaching a ben shapiro book to the kids about p*rn. And having a retreat at his house? This is not a great plan i think in general for a church.

    Yes, those were the behaviors I found very disturbing that he did at TVC. Of course, TVC is gonna claim that nothing happened there, but they (and MinistrySafe) are not experts in investigating such issues.

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  36. ORACLE: “Most congregations would affirm whomever the pastor recommends for a staff position. Rainer just wants to skip the process because it’s divisive.”

    Indeed. Honestly, the voting process is often a formality but at least the option is there to stop something. But what it does do is keep everything open and above board, so people aren’t doing shady things in the background. I think what he really objects to is the passing of *information*.

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  37. Headless Unicorn Guy: Sounds like an M.B.A. to me!

    I know next to nothing about LifeWay, but in fairness, I hafta say…this is happening to brick-and-mortar retail pretty much across the board. There’s a massive shift to online shopping. And, even in the online space, many eCommerce websites are suffering…because Amazon is pretty much taking over the world. :O

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  38. Former LW Employee:
    Rainer has a low view of everyone except himself.I worked at Lifeway for eleven years until the day I didn’t. If you had 10 years and were 55 you were toast.He ran LW into the ground and the only one who benefited was Thom.

    I hear ya, and it makes my blood boil.

    My former employer also practiced age discrimination. I retired; I wasn’t terminated; but, toward the end, I *was* made to feel that I was too old to handle certain assignments (because I wasn’t young, hip, or cool enough to understand the millennial market, even though I’m the mom of two millennials [rolleyes]).

    Unfortunately, I’ve heard it’s really hard to prove age discrimination in court. That’s why it seems to be running rampant. They can get away with it.

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  39. Lea: Indeed. Honestly, the voting process is often a formality but at least the option is there to stop something. But what it does do is keep everything open and above board, so people aren’t doing shady things in the background. I think what he really objects to is the passing of *information*.

    This is exactly right. Most of the stuff voted on during our monthly business meeting borders on the mundane. However, there have been times when something needed to be addressed and the church had the ability to deal with it in an open forum. Transparency folks, that’s the key! Like I’ve said before, if you want to see how the money’s being spent, just grab a financial report at our monthly business meeting.

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  40. ishy: But New Cals tend to be pretty uncaring about such things in my experience, since they believe their election can’t be shared or removed.

    Calvinist version of “Once Saved, Always Saved”?
    I’ve seen how OSAS can go sour in non-Calvinist Evangelicalism.
    It’s called “The Get Out of Hell Free Card/License to Sin”.

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  41. Lea: From that article, why is tvc church encouraging single adults to be roommates? That’s weird, right? No one at my church has any opinion on my living situation as far as i know.

    Because no one at your church is that level of control freak.

    That said, the TVC Requirement might have started as either “Accountability Partner/Informant” or a simple “It is not good to be alone”, but like a lot of other doctrines when Entropy sets in, it mutated into a “One Size Fits All” Dogma. (“YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT!”)

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  42. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Knowing what we know about child predators in general AND the apparently lax controls around volunteers and pastors at TVC, it would not even BEGIN to surprise me that this person was also abusing children at TVC.

    Where there is easy prey (never mind protection by authorities), the Predators will swarm.

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  43. Headless Unicorn Guy: I’ve seen how OSAS can go sour in non-Calvinist Evangelicalism.
    It’s called “The Get Out of Hell Free Card/License to Sin”.

    Yeah, it’s a very different perspective from the traditional free will perspective. Sin rubbing off on them just isn’t a concern and they do some pretty questionable stuff without being bothered by conscience. Whereas everyone I knew at Liberty was terrified of someone else’s sin infecting them and turning them away from God.

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  44. Brian:
    Lea,

    “Being unequally yoked” maybe that’s what they are referencing in the Bible. Would it be applicable in this instance?

    No? It’s a roommate not a romance and there is no need for a single adult to have a roommate if they don’t want one anyways (and can afford it). It’s meddling for meddling’s sake imo.

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  45. Former LW Employee: Rainer has a low view of everyone except himself. I worked at Lifeway for eleven years until the day I didn’t. If you had 10 years and were 55 you were toast. He ran LW into the ground and the only one who benefited was Thom.

    The New Calvinists are running everything into the ground that were once Southern Baptist assets … publishing house, seminaries, mission agencies.

    Thank you for your service to the SBC when it was formerly a great soul-winning denomination.

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  46. Max: Former LW Employee: Rainer has a low view of everyone except himself. I worked at Lifeway for eleven years until the day I didn’t. If you had 10 years and were 55 you were toast. He ran LW into the ground and the only one who benefited was Thom.

    The New Calvinists are running everything into the ground that were once Southern Baptist assets … publishing house, seminaries, mission agencies.

    I think that goes back to their dislike of anyone telling them “No.”

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  47. Lea: : At this juncture, I think the SBC should do one of two things: 1. Just sell out and join the PCA.

    Honestly, as a presbyterian (not pca), we seem to have better transparency and church participation than i’m hearing out of the SBC these days. At least we don’t have one person making all decisions!

    A merger with the likes of them PCA is about the last thing the PCA needs. When belief in the 5 points is the only thing they have in common, there would be all manner of trouble ahead.

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  48. Interesting. My church hired a new senior pastor last year; he took office this past spring after completing his doctoral dissertation and following his predecessor’s retirement. There was no congregational vote. The congregational governing body, elected by the church membership, made the final selection. I should note we’re not Southern Baptist.

    The church held several congregational votes in recent years regarding significant financial expenditures, including the construction of a new sanctuary, but has never had a vote regarding personnel in the nearly 20 years I’ve been attending.

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  49. ishy: a decent rationalization

    If singles are living alone, their homes can be hotbeds of sinnnnnnnn. Live-in accountability partners prevent all that.

    I’m not quite making this up. In colonial times, Puritan authorities frowned on people living alone. A single man could establish something of a speakeasy, and it gives me the vapors to imagine what a single woman might get up to. That was the heyday of church discipline, too. In the words of William Faulkner,* “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    *not a Puritan

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  50. Max: Holy Spirit?!Remember, Mr. Rainer is a New Calvinist.

    I saw the post when it first came out last month but only decided to reply to Mr Rainer today. I wrote that I disagreed with his article for a number of reasons:-
    The church with Christ as its Head and the Holy Spirit indwelling the members guiding them by means of the Scriptures doesn’t need to adopt worldly business practices.
    His (Rainer’s) constituent audience are mainly congregational in polity (and SBC) and are quite capable of making their own decisions without outside interference.
    Given all the above, it seems odd that the SBC should endorse his writings but it entirely in keeping with their stance on other things. I pointed out that several SBC mega churches have tolerated egregious sin in their midst but the standard response has been “ We are a convention of voluntary associations and churches and we don’t tell people what to do”. Yet here they are endorsing Rainer’s four points.
    I acknowledged that cliques and favouritism can cause problems in churches but pointed out that the church is made up of fallen but redeemed people. It did not mean that churches had to throw the baby Jesus out with the bath water and they certainly did not need to adopt outside business practices. After all they are probably equally fallen.
    I finished by saying that American Neo Calvinism and writings like his are causing great harm to the body of Christ and that they seem to know little of the Five Solas, Tulip, or the practices of the Reformers or of the Early Church. I emphasised that I had no axe to grind other than to uphold – as a descendant of the Covenanters – “Christ’s Crown and Covenant” and pointed out that the purpose of the Church, according to a marvellous new book called “Reformation Worship”, was simple – Worship and Witness.

    My comment went into moderation and was then deleted. 🙂

    (As an aside I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I learned for example that Huldrych Zwingli introduced a form of Eucharistic worship in which both men and women participated equally. As I’ve said often before, Neo Calvinism is a fraud. Having a pointy beard and drinking coffee doesn’t cut it.)

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  51. singleman,

    My former IFB church:

    1. Hiring a new senior pastor was by a search committee.

    2. Voting on the budget was congregational.

    My prior church, nondenominational:

    1. No congregational vote on anything.

    My current church, no pastor, deacon shepherded (both male and female):

    1. Deacon’s make the final decisions. But, all issues are discussed as part of the entire service. If a member of the congregation has a solution to an issue, they end up taking point on resolving the issue. I’ve only been there since August 2019. It’s worked okay so far.

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  52. Friend: In colonial times, Puritan authorities frowned on people living alone. A single man could establish something of a speakeasy, and it gives me the vapors to imagine what a single woman might get up to.

    Ha, the flip of this makes me think of the story that the all womens dorm at my school was the only (or one of 2?) building in town allowed to have more than 8 women living there or something due to fear it might be a brothel! LOL.

    I love the idea that a roommate will somehow stop illicit activities. If people living with their parents in high school manage, I think grown adults can figure it out.

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  53. Friend: If singles are living alone, their homes can be hotbeds of sinnnnnnnn. Live-in accountability partners prevent all that.

    I’ve been single for most of my life. So I know many evangelicals think that being single means living in sin. There was a cult in Atlanta that used to prey on singles using that very line.

    But the New Cals have some very different beliefs on sin, in my experience. As long as you go to church and “submit”, you won’t sin. Even if you do. Many have this conception of election based on how much sermon listening you do. If you are doing all the church things, then sin isn’t something that happens. Even though we’ve seen from their scandals that it clearly does. But I will note that these views are primarily for men. Women have to be constantly monitored and controlled, because they “always” deceive men and each other.

    So I suspect this is for other reasons. My suspicion is that it’s easier to keep control on people if they are not affiliating too much with those outside the church. But I still don’t think it makes a huge amount of sense.

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  54. ishy,

    I should add that they have strong views about being single over 25 as being in sin, a la Pope Mohler, but it’s because they use marriage as a means of control. Which is another reason why I think this roommate rule is more about control than sin.

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  55. Brian,

    My church also held a vote more than a dozen years ago on whether to change our denominational affiliation. Other than that and the financial matters I mentioned earlier, our only votes typically occur in the annual congregational meeting where we elect members of our governing body.

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  56. Wild Honey: They obviously have not met some of my former roommates.

    I’ve always thought those claims were kinda funny. It’s clear the people that think these things don’t really know any single people. Maybe the under 25 or so set is going out partying, but I have to work on top of doing all chores and most cooking. And my elderly parent lives with me. The highlight of going out during my day is taking the cat for a walk.

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  57. ishy:
    ishy,

    I should add that they have strong views about being single over 25 as being in sin, a la Pope Mohler, but it’s because they use marriage as a means of control. Which is another reason why I think this roommate rule is more about control than sin.

    I guess I’m really in trouble, considering I’m old enough to be the father of a 25-year-old and almost old enough to be the grandfather of someone that age. Then again, I attend a church where singles are simply looked down upon but not necessarily considered sinners. At least not yet.

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  58. ishy: I’ve always thought those claims were kinda funny. It’s clear the people that think these things don’t really know any single people. Maybe the under 25 or so set is going out partying, but I have to work on top of doing all chores and most cooking. And my elderly parent lives with me. The highlight of going out during my day is taking the cat for a walk.

    Yes, I’ve heard we’re supposedly “sowing our wild oats,” so to speak. In reality, all but one of us are well beyond the “wild oats” stage. The only oats I have are the ones I eat for breakfast on some mornings.

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  59. ishy: Maybe the under 25 or so set is going out partying, but I have to work on top of doing all chores and most cooking.

    I lazed around the house all day sunday doing laundry and watching netflix (except for a walk) and it was fabulous. I’m not in that party all night stage of life anymore lol.

    When I was seeing someone I would thoroughly enjoy doing the same, except at his house.

    When I do stuff, it’s much more likely to be day life than nightlife!

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  60. ishy: I’ve always thought those claims were kinda funny. It’s clear the people that think these things don’t really know any single people.

    When you married at 18 like a Good Little Christian, you’re going to get real jealous of singles and read a lot of wish-fulfillment fantasy into singleness. Add in Christianese tunnel-vision on “pelvic issues” and that’s why I figure a lot of Big Name Christians think living single is one continuous (sausage) party. Jealousy.

    Maybe the under 25 or so set is going out partying…

    When I was that age, my “going out partying” meant my regular D&D gaming group (every Saturday at Cal State Fullerton). Or hitting the SF and/or FRP game cons when they came to town.

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  61. HUG: “When I was that age, my “going out partying” meant my regular D&D gaming group (every Saturday at Cal State Fullerton).”

    We used to go clubbing in college all the time because it was a free night out (if you timed your nights/clubs right) and they let you in under 21. And now I read a bunch of weird incel stuff about how wild clubs are and it cracks me up. These kind of things are only wild if you are. We only went to dance.

    Meanwhile I went out dancing a few years back and realized i’m not 20 anymore, even though we left at midnight! #glassofwineinbedbynine

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  62. singleman: I guess I’m really in trouble, considering I’m old enough to be the father of a 25-year-old and almost old enough to be the grandfather of someone that age

    When I first became active in Bronydom circa 2011 or so, I kept running into Bronies and other fans who were young enough to have been my kids if things had worked out between Ann & me in the Eighties. Most didn’t want anything to do with me; the only exception were the RailBronies, model railroaders (which these days is a hobby primarily for rich retirees, so they had experience with guys my age or older).

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  63. Lea: Ha, the flip of this makes me think of the story that the all womens dorm at my school was the only (or one of 2?) building in town allowed to have more than 8 women living there or something due to fear it might be a brothel! LOL.

    When I was at Cal Poly Pomona in the Seventies, there was a campus urban legend that some joker pulled the fire alarm in the (one remaining) the all-girls dorm around 3 Ayem and more guys came out of the building than girls.

    I love the idea that a roommate will somehow stop illicit activities.

    Only way I could see that happening is if the roomie is a spy/informant for Pastor and the Church Ladies.

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  64. Root 66: Our former Neo-Cal pastor left our church in a huff mainly because the congregation told him ‘no’!

    When Joaquin Phoenix did the role of Caesar Commodus in the movie Gladiator, he said his handle on the character was “a rich-kid prince who has NEVER heard the word ‘No’ in his entire life”.

    P.S. Caesar Commodus had a reputation right up there with Caesari Caligula, Nero, Domitian, and Eleglabius.

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  65. Oracle at Delphi,

    The Book of Genesis has something to say about this…. the original sin is to “be like g$d”…. when someone, or a congregation, says no, they are saying to the leader p: you are not g$d…..
    i am still haunted by the quote of good old “Al” in the You tube video, “ but where else will they go?”…. so if you do not go to one of his “approved” churches, there is no where else to go? Talk about arrogance …. or, thinking you are like g$d?

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  66. Lowlandseer: I saw the post when it first came out last month but only decided to reply to Mr Rainer today … that American Neo Calvinism and writings like his are causing great harm to the body of Christ … My comment went into moderation and was then deleted.

    Too bad, Lowlandseer. Rainer’s followers needed to read your words.

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  67. Friend: If singles are living alone, their homes can be hotbeds of sinnnnnnnn. Live-in accountability partners prevent all that.

    I’m not quite making this up. In colonial times, Puritan authorities frowned on people living alone. A single man could establish something of a speakeasy, andit gives me the vapors to imagine what a single woman might get up to. That was the heyday of church discipline, too. In the words of William Faulkner,* “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    *not a Puritan

    I live just north of Winston-Salem NC, home of Old Salem, an historic site commemorating the Moravians who founded the local community. Among the many still-standing structures from early Moravian history are the Single Brothers Home and Single Sisters Home. Hmmmmmm.

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  68. Wild Honey: I am so behind the times. I really need to get into this podcast thing.

    I hear they are in stock at the S&H Green Stamp Premium Parlor. If you want, I’ll swing by tomorrow in my Stanley Steamer and we can buy podcasts together.

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  69. ishy,

    “Women have to be constantly monitored and controlled, because they “always” deceive men and each other.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    so, women are purportedly “easily deceived”, as well as being deceivers?

    we’re all familiar with how it’s ‘biblical’ that every woman who has ever been born is inherently easily deceived. 😐

    how do they make the case that every woman who has ever been born is also inherently a deceiver?

    or maybe they just make things up. and then seed their communication with subtle suggestions, followed by “i’m just sayin’.”

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  70. elastigirl: how do they make the case that every woman who has ever been born is also inherently a deceiver?

    or maybe they just make things up. and then seed their communication with subtle suggestions, followed by “i’m just sayin’.”

    I think they argue that because women are deceived, if you listen to them, you will be deceived, too. But they go silent and have nothing when it’s pointed out that Adam just chose to sin. Somehow, being deceived is way worse than doing things intentionally.

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  71. Reminder that Thom Rainer’s sidekick Jonathan Howe was just hired to oversee PR for the SBC:

    https://thomrainer.com/2013/01/seven-lessons-on-blogging-from-the-last-three-years/

    “Al Mohler was the first person to push me to blog. Ed Stetzer has given me incredible advice and encouragement in my blogging endeavors…Jonathan Howe is my social media right hand man. This blog reflects his keen mind and unwavering work ethic”

    http://www.bpnews.net/53548/howe-named-ec-vp-of-communications

    “Jonathan P. Howe has been named vice president of communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee effective Sept. 5…Howe, of Franklin, Tenn., will oversee all SBC Executive Committee communications including SBC.net, SBC LIFE, Baptist Press, social media initiatives and other media and messaging strategies. Howe most recently served as director of strategic initiatives with LifeWay Christian Resources, a position he held for six of his eight years at the organization. In that role, he was responsible for the content strategy and marketing of ThomRainer.com, EdStetzer.com and LifeWayPastors.com…Howe also hosted and produced weekly podcast episodes of ‘Rainer on Leadership’ and ‘Revitalize & Replant’.”

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  72. Kenneth,

    Kenneth, I have always attended denominational churches which were all generally well-run. I don’t ever remember a congregational vote to select assistant or associate pastors, and I would not be in favor of it. The churches do have elder type boards, though they are called something else; that group always had a role in vetting associate or assistant pastors. I attend conservative churches but women are on the boards; I’d be outta there if they were not.

    Perhaps because I attend liturgical churches (though we are still evangelize, per the Great Commission), there’s never been a nepotism issue or fiefdom building.

    A pastor should not have unfettered ability to select associate pastors but a congregational vote should not be the determining factor either. Anyone who has ever lived in a community with a condo or homeowners association knows why!

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  73. Priscilla: A pastor should not have unfettered ability to select associate pastors but a congregational vote should not be the determining factor either. Anyone who has ever lived in a community with a condo or homeowners association knows why!

    YEPPERS ON THE HOA!

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  74. Jerome: Howe also hosted and produced weekly podcast episodes of ‘Rainer on Leadership’ and ‘Revitalize & Replant’.”

    “Revitalize and Replant” are gentle words for the hostile takeover of traditional SBC churches by the New Calvinists.

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  75. Priscilla: A pastor should not have unfettered ability to select associate pastors but a congregational vote should not be the determining factor either. Anyone who has ever lived in a community with a condo or homeowners association knows why!

    I had been attending a UMC church, and their pastors are assigned by the association. The congregation doesn’t really even have much input at all.

    But I think there is another element that can really unbalance the process, and that’s money. In the UMC, pastors don’t get to really choose where they go or what they make. SBC churches are quite different and there’s always this underlying belief that if the church makes it “big”, they will be wealthy. A lot of liturgical churches are not very large and I don’t think pastors who go into ministry in these churches are as likely to belief that fame and fortune will find them if they go into ministry.

    When I was a student at Liberty and SEBTS, there was a different perspective on ministry. I encountered a lot of baby pastors who thoroughly believed being a pastor could be equivalent to being a CEO of a large company.

    Many of them were kids of pastors who knew their name alone would help them in this. Some of them had been promised assistant pastor positions in large churches since they were children, whether or not they were qualified or had the character for being a pastor. And SEBTS and STBS are viewed like Ivy League schools for the contacts one can make in that ascent to fame.

    I really think the belief that ministry is a direct line to fame is a huge reason for this problem of pastors of bad character or who are only there due to nepotism.

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  76. ishy: The congregation doesn’t really even have much input at all.

    The early church chose its leaders, but they were more spiritual than 21st century congregations. They had a connection with the Holy Spirit who led them; we do church without the Spirit’s guidance so end up with whoever as church leaders.

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  77. Max: The early church chose its leaders, but they were more spiritual than 21st century congregations. They had a connection with the Holy Spirit who led them; we do church without the Spirit’s guidance so end up with whoever as church leaders.

    I wasn’t making a statement in favor or against this process, only stating it as fact. But there is definitely a marked difference in the type of people that seek to go into ministry in the UMC versus the SBC.

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  78. ishy: I wasn’t making a statement in favor or against this process, only stating it as fact.

    Understood. I was making a statement in favor of seeking the Holy Spirit for selection of church leaders … but I guess the organized church has pretty well gotten over that approach.

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  79. drstevej: So glad to be a retired pastor.

    I bet you were a good pastor, Dr. Steve, deserving of a comfortable retirement under Dee’s table. 🙂

    The problem with some of our church leaders is they are done but just haven’t quit yet.

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  80. drstevej: So glad to be a retired pastor.

    I’m so glad to be a retired church member. The organized church, in its current state, is exhausting. Church folks are wearing themselves out doing things in the flesh, rather than the Spirit. There’s so little that is done which would be considered worship and fulfilling the Great Commission. The American church desperately needs a revival and spiritual awakening, but I don’t see much movement in that direction.

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  81. Wild Honey: I think there are also verses in Proverbs that talk about the “adulteress” and the “wayward woman.” Never mind, of course, that wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a woman.

    Also note that in these proverbs the clueless bloke is deceived by the ‘wayward woman’ and ignores the cries of wisdom.

    Maybe women are not so alone in being easily deceived? This story has been so misused, btw. The point scripture makes is that the woman was not held guilty, as sin is a deliberate decision to do what one knows is wrong. It is NOT a blanket statement that all women will always be deceived about everything. How many men have been deceived by faulty teaching into ignoring the voice of Wisdom when it comes from their wives?

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  82. ishy,

    So many in churches still remain oblivious to the nature of predators and abusers. How silly to state ‘Abuser X is my friend’, which sounds like support for the abuser.

    Yes, predators are clever and sneaky, and will deceive many. Yet, once their true nature is revealed – in this case by his own wife and son – it is time to stop talking about ‘my friend’ and ‘God bringing victory’. This is not a case of a poor, pious succumbing to the flesh. Predators prey upon the trusting, usually encompassing their entire lives.

    When my friend’s F-I-L, a retired pastor, was caught abusing his own grandson, he admitted he had been abusing children since before he was married. Some suspect his own children may be among the victims. How may other unknown victims did he leave in his wake in those churches he pastored for 30 years? How many ‘friends’ did he have there as well? Do you remain ‘friends’ with someone you now know was a pretender, liar, deceiver and abuser? Do these pastors not see how ignorant their statements are, and how traumatizing to the victims?

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  83. Wouldn’t it be much better if they said, ‘I have a personal conflict that makes it a conflict of interest for me to evaluate anything or speak to this, so I’m turning to Bob and Suzie while we try to do our best to support the victim’. They always show what they care about most, which is the dude they know when they really should be recusing themselves from everything.

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  84. Max: Jerome: Reminder that Thom Rainer’s sidekick Jonathan Howe was just hired to oversee PR for the SBC
    SBC elite are inbreeders.

    “IF YOUR FAMILY TREE DOES NOT FORK…”
    — Jeff Foxworthy

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  85. Dale:
    Jerome,

    The PK mentioned in the article (Rob Litzinger) has been sued twice for sexual misconduct by congregants at Church for Life in Santa Maria.

    Santa Maria, California?
    (i.e. the other end of Santa Barbara Country from Santa Barbara itself on the 101.)

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  86. Max: “Revitalize and Replant” are gentle words for the hostile takeover of traditional SBC churches by the New Calvinists.

    “Always use proper Code Words: Relocation. Resettlement. Delousing.”
    — Hauptsturmfuehrer-SS/SD Eric Dorf, Holocaust (70s miniseries)

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  87. Priscilla: Perhaps because I attend liturgical churches (though we are still evangelize, per the Great Commission), there’s never been a nepotism issue or fiefdom building.

    Because liturgical churches have an institutional history.
    Been there, Done that, Got the T-shirt.
    The non-liturgical Megachurch/House Church startups keep reinventing the wheel over and over.

    Rudyard Kipling on institutional history:
    “Gods of the Copybook Headings”
    http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm

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  88. Wild Honey: Headless Unicorn Guy:Eleglabius.

    What a small world, I did my senior honors thesis on the Severan dynasty.

    Then you know the type of Emperor Eleglabius was.
    Was the Severan Dynasty one of those that lasted only ONE generation?
    (The Julio-Claudians lasted three or four, and even the Flavians lasted two or three…)

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  89. HUG: “The non-liturgical Megachurch/House Church startups keep reinventing the wheel over and over.”

    Churches with a lot of policies and a long history have generally had some time to work out the kinks and many of these policies and procedures are designed to minimize issues like nepotism and other such nonsense. People are people and it’s not possible to stop all problems, but I think nepotism or mini unwatched fiefdoms based solely on the decision of one man is not one of them.

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  90. Root 66: Excellent observation! And as I seem to recall, the Apostle Paul said that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”

    I’ve also seen that Rabbi from Tarsus one-liner used to justify Holy Nincompoop Syndrome, i.e. “The more stupid and foolish you are, the more Godly you are.”

    This application does not end well.

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  91. Rainer’s view is a typical Reformed principle. They do away with congregationalism and establish elder boards to make all of the decisions. Result: split churches.

    Pastor Search Committees need to do a better job of vetting the candidates.

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  92. Leslie: “Rainer’s view is a typical Reformed principle. They do away with congregationalism and establish elder boards to make all of the decisions.”

    Except in presby land, with reformed, elders, deacons, etc, we still vote on a bunch of things as a congregation? Including elders, deacons, staff salaries, and a host of other things that crop up during the year. so..

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  93. Lea: Except in presby land, with reformed, elders, deacons, etc, we still vote on a bunch of things as a congregation? Including elders, deacons, staff salaries, and a host of other things that crop up during the year. so..

    I think the authoritarian control comes more from cults than from being reformed. I think they use theology as an excuse to demand control over others.

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  94. ishy,

    Yeah…I think a lot of people here are prone to blame everything on being ‘reformed’ because that’s who they have had bad experiences with rather than the control aspect and are missing the point in the process.

    They shape their polity to limit control to themselves and their bff’s and sycophants, because that is *who they are*. That is what they want. They would do the same with a single pastor and a deacon board. Or with a giant non-denom with a million staff. It all comes down to control and power and sometimes money, not theology.

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  95. Lea: Yeah…I think a lot of people here are prone to blame everything on being ‘reformed’ because that’s who they have had bad experiences with rather than the control aspect and are missing the point in the process.

    There is some truth to authoritarianism being a Reformation principle, though. Calvin was frankly a terrible person. Luther even had some authoritarian views.

    I think the word “Reformed” is a total misnomer, though, anyway, because the Reformation was a lot more than the views of Calvin. And nearly everybody now, except maybe the really conservative Lutherans, deviates quite a bit from all the Reformers.

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  96. I highly recommend podcasts if you have a long commute and the ability to listen in your car or on the train/bus/scooter/fred flintstone-mobile.

    ishy: There is some truth to authoritarianism being a Reformation principle, though. Calvin was frankly a terrible person. Luther even had some authoritarian views.

    I think the word “Reformed” is a total misnomer, though, anyway, because the Reformation was a lot more than the views of Calvin. And nearly everybody now, except maybe the really conservative Lutherans, deviates quite a bit from all the Reformers.

    I second this. The Anglican church has its share of Calvinists as well, and they try to point to the descriptor “Catholic and Reformed”, which usually gets beaten down from the fact that Anglicanism preceded Calvin, and the “Reformed” bit refers to what Luther (and others) wanted to do with the Catholic church. Small r reformed, not Capital R. It was about weeding the garden, not planting an entirely new one.

    One book I enjoyed reading – though it is a heavy read – is “The Reformation” by Diarmid McCulloch.

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  97. ishy: I think the word “Reformed” is a total misnomer, though, anyway, because the Reformation was a lot more than the views of Calvin.

    Agree.

    ishy: There is some truth to authoritarianism being a Reformation principle, though.

    The catholics, luther, calvin, the arminians, even catholics v. protestants in general…I struggle to look back at the history of any of these groups and not see bloody power struggles and control freaks.

    I don’t think you can judge current denominations entirely by what happened 400-500 years ago. Many of them have spent a lot of time thinking things through and massaging out the worst impulses of their particular group. And all theology, all polity, has tendencies towards some variety of evil imo. I think it’s because we are all human and prone to human failings, and particularly the failings of groups of people.

    I don’t think anybody has it ‘right’. I think some options are very bad, and others are mostly decent people who are really trying and open to criticism. Some have room for people who question. Who doubt. Who study and who wonder.

    I know I’ve said this before, but I’m in a different position than people here on this point. The existence of elders doesn’t feel at all authoritarian, but the limiting of what women could do *did*. YMMV on this.

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  98. ishy: I think the word “Reformed” is a total misnomer, though, anyway, because the Reformation was a lot more than the views of Calvin.

    Exactly! You bring up an important point about the Reformation … John Calvin wasn’t the only show in town!

    The Anabaptists and others gave their lives for the cause of Christ during the Reformation. While all of these groups had their problems as they emerged from dark into light, it should be repeated that Reformation did not equal Calvin.

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  99. Leslie Puryear: Pastor Search Committees need to do a better job of vetting the candidates.

    Some have tried in my area, but found that it is not beyond a New Calvinist to lie about his theological persuasion. The new reformers seem to think stealth and deception are OK for the good of the movement.

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  100. TS00: Maybe women are not so alone in being easily deceived? … How many men have been deceived by faulty teaching into ignoring the voice of Wisdom when it comes from their wives?

    Agreed. Granted, I don’t know Hebrew. But in my English translations, at least, the “fool” is always portrayed as a guy. So, yeah, I think either gender is capable of either deception or being deceived.

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  101. Lea:

    Yeah…I think a lot of people here are prone to blame everything on being ‘reformed’ because that’s who they have had bad experiences with rather than the control aspect and are missing the point in the process.

    They shape their polity to limit control to themselves and their bff’s and sycophants, because that is *who they are*. That is what they want. They would do the same with a single pastor and a deacon board. Or with a giant non-denom with a million staff. It all comes down to control and power and sometimes money, not theology.

    Yes. I’ve seen this in a congregational, non-reformed church where the deacon board set itself up against two different senior pastors, as well.

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  102. Priscilla: I don’t ever remember a congregational vote to select assistant or associate pastors

    You’re raising an important point. The real issue is that Rainer believes the congregation is too doltish to vote.

    My church has votes on certain things: lead pastor after exhaustive committee search; annual budget and other major financial obligations; and especially the volunteer leaders. That last vote is key, with a minimum number of candidates required, and some term limit rules so that the same people can’t become perpetually entrenched. That vote is anonymous.

    We don’t vote on everything, but we are adults with substantial authority and control.

    The lead pastor is the only person in the congregation who is not eligible to be a member—and therefore cannot vote. This is a handy reminder to any pastor who wants to cast an exemplary vote.

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  103. Magistos: One book I enjoyed reading – though it is a heavy read – is “The Reformation” by Diarmid McCulloch.

    Reading it right now. I take breaks to listen to books on financial scams…light listening as opposed to HEAVY reading.

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  104. Max: Hate to deviate from the blog topic, but HE’S BACKKKKK:

    He’s back and he’ll still find novel ways to get folks to fork over their hard earned greenbacks.
    A skilled grifter is never out of work.

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  105. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Was the Severan Dynasty one of those that lasted only ONE generation?

    Three-ish, depending on who’s counting. Septimius was succeeded by his sons as co-emperors, but the elder (Caracalla) murdered the younger (Geta). Then the elder was assassinated. He was succeeded by his mother’s sister’s daughter’s son (Elagabalus), who was also assassinated. He was then succeeded by his mother’s sister’s son, who was also assassinated.

    Like Facebook says, it’s complicated.

    I actually did my thesis on the women, since it was unique in that the throne passed through the female line. The Julias Domna, Maesa, Soaemias, and Mamaea. Fun fact, Domna is reported to have met with the early church father Origen.

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  106. Tree: The quiet gossip is already there because it looks irregular for a leader to disappear without a word.

    Having been through a few situations where a church that I thought was great went downhill badly, this is a sign I learned to pay attention to. No one says anything but one day it dawns on you that you are not seeing the faces of the mature Christians in the congregation anymore. They are one by one picking up on something being off and they quietly move on. It seems like most of them believe it is unseemly to talk about it so they just sort of disappear.

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  107. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: But given the way TVC approaches these incidents (i.e., sweeps them under the biggest rugs they can find), families who may have children who were abused are likely to NEVER find out from TVC.

    And given the seriousness that the “sin of gossip” is given at most churches, they will not find out from one another, either.

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  108. Bridget: The Village Church seems to ALWAYS take the work of the perpetrator that nothing happened at TVC. It seems to me that they can’t possibly know if anything happened at a TVC event without making an announcement in their services that “a perpetrator has been among them and please ask your children if this man has had inappropriate contact with them.”

    Exactly, if course that is the wise thing to do and the only thing that makes any sense. But church leaders want so badly for nothing to have happened that they are very quick to surmise so based upon nothing.

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  109. Friend: The lead pastor is the only person in the congregation who is not eligible to be a member—and therefore cannot vote. This is a handy reminder to any pastor who wants to cast an exemplary vote.

    Why? Are all the ministers prevented from being members or only the head guy? Is he allowed to be a member somewhere else? What about the other family members? I’m assuming it is a male pastor, so is his wife allowed to vote or is she also denied membership? What’s the point of hiring someone to be a “lead pastor” but not allowing them to vote, let alone actually lead?

    I was recently the pastor’s wife in a similar situation, and I considered it abusive and spiritual damaging.

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  110. TS00: This stinks. I don’t think these entertainment meccas are churches anyway, but it still stinks. God help those people.

    What I found just as troubling is how skittish the pastors of that church acted when questioned about James MacDonald’s speaking there. It’s as if they knew it was wrong and still did it anyway. They should be ashamed. I hope their attendance for that event is ZERO!

    I can think of no better demonstration of America’s spiritual bankruptcy than for a church to invite that snake-oil salesman to speak, especially since he has shown no sign of remorse, repentance nor sorrow for the many lives he damaged at HBC!

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  111. SiteSeer: But church leaders want so badly for nothing to have happened that they are very quick to surmise so based upon nothing.

    I think this is exactly it. Of course, it did happen at TVC, according to ishy’s link and dee’s new post.

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  112. Root 66: he has shown no sign of remorse, repentance nor sorrow for the many lives he damaged at HBC!

    Nor did his bud Driscoll. Unrepentant comebacks seem to be no problem for New Calvinists. I suppose they figure it was meant to be and “grace” will cover their religious shenanigans.

    Looks like he has shed the black leather in favor of a new bearded look, holey jeans, and sneakers. Good Lord! The man is 60 … give it up!!

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  113. Max: Looks like he has shed the black leather in favor of a new bearded look, holey jeans, and sneakers. Good Lord! The man is 60 … give it up!!

    Maybe he’s going for that ‘homeless man’ look that he did at his church a while back! He just reminds of a kid that never grew up…and was never told “no”.

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  114. Back to Thom Rainer. Rainer is a church consultant. Reminds me of a joke:

    A medical doctor, an engineer, and a church consultant were arguing about what was the oldest profession in the world.

    The doctor started… “Well, in the Bible, it says that God created Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s body. This must have required surgery, and so I can claim with a high degree of confidence that mine is the oldest profession in the world.”

    The engineer responded, and said, “But earlier in the book of Genesis, it states that God created the order of the heavens and the earth from out of the chaos. This was the first and certainly the most impressive application of civil engineering. Therefore, dear doctor, you are wrong: mine is surely the oldest profession in the world.”

    The church consultant leaned back in his chair, smiled, and then said confidently, “Ah, but who do you think created the chaos?”

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  115. Max: Looks like he has shed the black leather in favor of a new bearded look, holey jeans, and sneakers. Good Lord! The man is 60 … give it up!!

    Like a Seventy-something Michael Jackson standing in front of a mirror in his adult-sized footie pajamas, his plastic surgery going south, screaming at the mirror “I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! REALLY! I AM! I’M YOUNG!”

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  116. Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4.

    Every Christian has been gifted by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ. 18 gifts, as listed, referenced, above.

    It would benefit the Body of Christ, for example, if those with the Holy Spirit-given (FREE, no money involved) gift of discernment would weed out some of the misinformation and miscreants (i.e., pedophiles) and make the Church safer and healthier, as God intends.

    Pastoring, too, by the way, is listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Church, no money involved. (There are times to financially support full-time Christian workers, perhaps, but the actual gift of the Holy Spirit is just that – a gift – to the Church.)

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  117. Andrea: Are all the ministers prevented from being members or only the head guy? Is he allowed to be a member somewhere else? What about the other family members?

    I can understand your alarm, and am sorry for what you experienced.

    This is a really limited thing, and our pastor takes it in stride, as he has plenty of opportunity to shape the things he does not vote on. Our denomination ordains both men and women. Anybody else in the family can be a voting member. All of the other clergy and staff can be members.

    I believe that this is supposed to serve as a subtle reminder that the person in charge is a servant of all, not like a CEO. I think he only mentions it so people don’t think he’s protesting by abstaining from certain congregational decisions.

    Please trust me, this is not an abusive practice; he’s a beloved guy and very hard working. Our denomination is set up to give clergy quite a bit of influence within their congregations. At the church I am describing there’s a good balance among clergy, staff, volunteers, and regular members.

    I hope this explains things clearly. We do have struggles, but not over this practice.

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  118. Tree: our congregation not permitted any meaningful say in WHO our so-called leaders are, we are not even permitted to know when they LEAVE

    And the finances? Those who pay/play(volunteer) should have a say, at the very least. Time to move on.

    The church model of leaders collecting working people’s money & then doing whatever they please behind closed doors is way past its time.

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  119. Thhhom is right. We sheep are too stupid to be entrusted with selecting a pastor.

    We need to leave such weighty matters in the hands of winsome men such as Mark Driscoll, Derek W. H. Thomas, C.J Mahaney, Tullian Tchividjian, Matt Chandler, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, Steve Furtick, James MacDonald, Tom Chantry, R.W. Glenn, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anywabile, Ligon Duncan, Wayne Grudem, Davey Blackburn, John Smyth, P.J. Smyth, Dustin Boles, Andy Savage, and Bill Hybels.

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  120. Ava Aaronson:
    Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4.

    Every Christian has been gifted by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ. 18 gifts, as listed, referenced, above.

    It would benefit the Body of Christ, for example, if those with the Holy Spirit-given (FREE, no money involved) gift of discernment would weed out some of the misinformation and miscreants (i.e., pedophiles) and make the Church safer and healthier, as God intends.

    Pastoring, too, by the way, is listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Church, no money involved. (There are times to financially support full-time Christian workers, perhaps, but the actual gift of the Holy Spirit is just that – a gift – to the Church.)

    They tell us at our Sunday morning local ‘church’ that the gifts of the Holy Spirit do not operate anymore. Apparently 21first century gifts have been reduced to pulpit preaching real loud, some ninty dB of Christian rock band music in a darker room, and the electronic offering plate in the lobby.

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  121. Todd Wilhelm: Mark Driscoll, Derek W. H. Thomas, C.J Mahaney, Tullian Tchividjian, Matt Chandler, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, Steve Furtick, James MacDonald, Tom Chantry, R.W. Glenn, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anywabile, Ligon Duncan, Wayne Grudem, Davey Blackburn, John Smyth, P.J. Smyth, Dustin Boles, Andy Savage, and Bill Hybels

    Whew! Now that’s a cast of characters for sure! Is it any wonder that the “Done” ranks are growing by leaps and bounds?

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  122. Brian: does anyone know the history of the “church consulting” business? When did it begin?

    I’m not sure about the modern expression of it, but “church consulting” most likely began in the mind of Satan in eternity past. “Is that what God said?” The enemy of the church has done a good job placing a consultant over the pulpit as guide, displacing the Holy Spirit. From church growth specialists to pastoral counselors, the great deceiver led us to the 21st century church with all its assorted problems, IMO.

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  123. Brian: “church consulting”

    I suppose you can call Paul a church consultant, but he was anointed by God and he didn’t have an outrageous consulting fee. The church consultants I have known in my 70+ years of doing church, spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, were more annoying than anointed. Instead of agonizing in prayer for God’s direction, they are all about organizing the church to spiritual death.

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  124. Brian: “church consulting” business

    Church consultants are substitutes for personally seeking God. It’s much easier to pay a professional to steer you with methods, rather than spend time in prayer to find the mind of God in the matter at hand. Agonizing in prayer for God’s direction is old school, you know.

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  125. Leslie Puryear,

    IMO, New Calvinists lie to gain control of an SBC traditional (non-Calvinist) pulpit – while in their heart of hearts knowing what they are doing is wrong – because they have been convinced that Calvinism is the one true “gospel” and they need to spread it. They certainly have a passion for their movement, but it is a misplaced passion. This is the danger of the new reformation and the beginning of twisting moral standards to achieve a goal; other deception will follow. It will lead to antinomianism.

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  126. Max: Some have tried in my area, but found that it is not beyond a New Calvinist to lie about his theological persuasion.The new reformers seem to think stealth and deception are OK for the good of the movement.

    “FOR THE REVOLUTION, COMRADES!”

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  127. Ava Aaronson: Todd Wilhelm: We sheep are too stupid to be entrusted with selecting a pastor.

    However, be sure to pay the pastor well.

    The only reason the Lowborn exist is for the convenience and enrichment of the Highborn.

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  128. Tree: It’s a non-denom elder led church in which the elders periodically choose men for the board, then present them to the congregation to “affirm” or “not affirm” by anonymous ballot.

    This kind of setup can also turn around & bite the HEAD pastor in the keister. I grew up in a fairly large, Non-Denominational church(large enough to need 2 Sunday morning services,etc.)that eventually grew to include an accredited private school for children & a semi-accredited Bible/Seminary college founded by our head pastor for students/adults-& not just the Bible student/scholars, but anyone within or outside the congregation who simply wanted to audit a course or attend a class or two could do so….at a members only/discounted rate of course…)
    My parents joined when they were newly”saved” in 1977, then after having me in 1980 they never once considered leaving. Not even in the 90’s when many of the staff & half the congregation split apart(including most of my closest friends who had moms or dads in leadership+we all attended both church AND school together when the church opened a pre-k thru 8th private school in 89’),with most leaving once it became known that the founder/head pastor of our church had “improper relationships” with female staffers.
    Those like my parents who chose to stay, did so because they didn’t know EVERYTHING those on staff did, but they did know how difficult his marriage was to a very gifted preacher in her own right, but one who also struggled with a painful past, a bipolar disorder diagnosis & other unfortunate yet vague ailments of the mind-all of which made him a very lonely & MAN, easily susceptible to the whiles & ways of caring & attentive females….& he really was CONTRITE after all‍♀️
    Long story longer……;) You’ll never guess what happened when more and more members gained control within the church’s ever expanding board of directors……YEP!….they voted him out of his own church and voted in another head pastor from the board! Granted this occurred in 2015 so it probably had nothing to do with the affairs from the 90’s(although maybe it had a little bit to do with his wife finally divorcing him in 2010 followed by the announcement of his engagement to one of the women he was accused of having an improper relationship with back in the 90’s-& well BEFORE her husband died mid 00’s),but it just goes to show how money, accolades, EGO & an ever growing/expanding sense of power can corrupt & shred apart many a pastors”calling”-and many times ruin the lives & reputations of the dedicated women/men who encourage & buttress that”calling”

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