Prediction: SBC Entities Will Be Sued Because the *Doctrine* of Autonomy of Churches Is Not Easily Understood or Accepted and Will Be Challenged


Cry

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” “Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis”


 

There has been a change in the public perception of religious leaders and a decline in religious affiliation in religious life in the US

I believe that the year 2020 will begin a decade of difficulties for the SBC as well as other conservative evangelical churches.The last 35 years have seen the worldwide Roman Catholic Church rocked with sex abuse scandals. Here is a CNN Timeline on the matter.

Having been a member of various evangelical churches during those decades, I became aware of the typical evangelical response to the RCC disgrace which went something like this. “If only priests could marry, this wouldn’t be happening.”  This was an arrogant retort which would end with the evangelical church being rocked by their own sex abuse scandals. The fallacy?  A normal priest who wanted to violate his vows would do so with a consenting adult, not with a 5 year old boy. The evangelicals would learn that hard lesson. The SBC was rocked with their own scandal in 2019 which was exposed in a carefully researched post in the Houston Chronicle.

Suddenly the attention of serious sex abuse in churches was shared between the Catholics and  evangelicals/Protestants. Over the last few decades, the public perception of priests, pastors and faith leaders in general has plummeted. In my opinion, this has more to do with abuse than politics but I bet some will disagree. Christianity Today posted The 7 People Christians Trust More Than Their Pastors: Gallup’s latest poll finds Americans now believe clergy (at a record low) are nearly as honest and ethical as journalists (at a record high) written by Griffin Jackson.

Fewer than half of American Christians (42%) believe clergy have “high” or “very high” standards of honesty and ethics, according to breakouts provided to CT. Self-identified Christians were about as likely to rate clergy’s ethical standards as just average (43%), and about 1 in 10 (12%) considered them “low” or “very low.”

Among Americans as a whole, trust in the clergy fell to 37 percent, making it the eighth-most-trusted profession in the country—ranking below multiple medical professions, teachers, and police and just above journalists and building contractors.

…Even with declining confidence in clergy, pastors are by no means Americans’ least trusted professionals. That designation goes to members of Congress, who are given “low” or “very low” ratings by 58 percent of Americans. The majority (55%) of Christians, too, give negative ratings to congresspeople.

…In addition to members of Congress, telemarketers, and car salespeople are largely distrusted. Advertisers, stockbrokers, lawyers, and business executives are also more often perceived as having “low” or “very low” honesty and ethical standards than “high” or “very high” standard

To make matters worse, there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of those who’re  no longer affiliated with any religion. Religion News reported Nones’ now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US

But while most religious groups in the GSS survey either saw dips in affiliation or remained roughly consistent — such as black Protestants and those listed as “other faiths” — one group did see an increase: Mainline Protestants, who have been declining at a steady clip for decades, saw their numbers tick up slightly, from 10.2 percent to 10.8 percent.

Even so, Burge noted that the change is not statistically significant, and more years would have to pass to register if it signifies a resurgence among mainliners. In the meantime, he pointed to another trend: The rise of the religiously unaffiliated tracks closely with the decline of mainline Protestantism beginning in the early 1990s.

I predict that such changes may lead to a negative impact in court cases involving the leadership or hierarchy in evangelical churches.The Houston Chronicle report is key to understanding that public perception is changing and the SBC may be in for a ride on the legal side.

The public has become more educated on the long term impact of sex abuse, especially within the church. They are less likely to give churches a pass for failure to report abuse or for covering up sex abuse. Here are two examples of such lawsuits impacting the SBC.

Virginia

Motion filed to add religious organizations to lawsuit involving church sex abuse

Attorneys have filed a motion to add religious organizations to a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit in connection with a sexual abuse case involving Immanuel Baptist Church in Colonial Heights.

The motion would add the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and the Petersburg Baptist Association to the civil suit already pending against the church and three individuals.

…The motion alleges that Ted Clark threatened one of the plaintiffs to recant his allegation against his son, which enabled Jeffrey Clark to continue working at the church.

Attorneys accuse the Georgia-based Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of failing to take action against “known perpetrators and failed to warn or protect its members from them.”

The lawyer for the plaintiffs said:

Biniazan says there is a two-fold reason behind this lawsuit, one is that Clark’s victims deserve compensation.

“Second, we want to do what we can to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and the only way that I know how to do that, and I’ve told my clients this, as a lawyer is told hold people responsible when they are responsible,” he said. “And the goal and the hope is that by holding entities or organizations responsible, that they will change the way that they do their practices and hopefully prevent this from happening again.”

Read this next quote carefully. The addition of the SBC and others to this lawsuit occurred after the Houston Chronicle report was released.

The additions to the lawsuit come after a Houston Chronicle report detailing 35 Southern Baptist pastors, youth ministers and volunteers who were convicted of sex crimes but were still allowed to work at churches.

Arkansas

The Christian Post reported that Arkansas Baptist State Convention failed to report abuse allegations against pastor, lawsuit claims

The civil lawsuit filed Dec. 16 accuses Arkansas Baptist State Convention Executive Director Sonny Tucker of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to authorities after he was contacted by the ex-wife of Millcreek Baptist Church pastor Teddy Leon Hill about concerns that Hill might’ve been abusing minors.

Lawyers representing an unnamed plaintiff referred to as “John Doe” claim Hill met Doe when Doe came to the church at 13 years old seeking refuge from a troubled home. The lawsuit accuses Hill of sexually molesting and abusing Doe starting in 2014.

In 2016, Hill became Doe’s legal guardian, the lawsuit adds. Doe then moved into Millcreek’s parsonage, where Hill was living.

“Such abuse was perpetrated by Hill in his role as guardian, mentor, counselor and Pastor to Doe and occurred on the church property of Millcreek,” the lawsuit alleges. “The abuse perpetrated included multiple acts of sexual battery with Doe and involved deviate sexual activity.”

Listed as defendants in the suit are Hill, Millcreek Baptist Church, the Diamond Lakes Baptist Association, Tucker and the ABSC. The attorneys claim that Tucker had an obligation under the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act to report the allegations against Hill to the Child Abuse Hotline.

…The state association stressed that it’s taking the allegations “very seriously.” ABSC is represented by the law firm of Friday, Eldredge & Clark.

Here is where it gets interesting. The ABSC claims that the plaintiff just doesn’t seem to understand the relationship between the church and the ABSC. They are going to rely on the argument that *We are all autonomous and you stupid people  should know that.” (I would suggest that the ABSC realize that even those in the SBC don’t get it.)

“So far, our lawyers have seen no indication of impropriety on the part of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention or Dr. Tucker,” the ABSC statement reads. “Rather, it appears the plaintiff does not understand the relationship between the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and the local church and pastor.”

…The ABSC contends that the plaintiff “mistakenly believes that the Arkansas Baptist State Convention somehow controls the local church and should have been monitoring this local church pastor’s actions.”

…The Southern Baptist Convention is not a top-down denomination but rather an association of autonomous churches that govern themselves.

The plaintiff’s attorneys are having none of this. What do you want to bet that they read the Hourston Chronicle report as well?

Also, the article reports that Arkansas and Virginia are going to work together on this hot mess.

“These organizations are working together in harmony,” attorney Kevin Biniazan told the newspaper. “The success of one benefits the other. And vice versa.”

Now, read the last line. The Christian Post appears to claim  that the SBC voted to expel churches accused of mishandling sex abuse.

At SBC’s annual meeting last June, SBC delegates approved a resolution to expel churches accused of mishandling claims of sexual abuse or racism. They also amended SBC bylaws to give SBC’s Credentials Committee the power to investigate complaints against churches in instances of sexual abuse or racism.

In Friday’s TWW post, lawyer Boz Tchividjian appeared to disagree that the SBC churches function autonomously.

Boz called out the supposed autonomy of the SBC polity.

You will recognize what he said about this since many on TWW have said the same thing. He said a system that claims to have little or no authority over local churches would somehow find that authority if a church hired a woman or a gay person as pastor.

The problem with the SBC and autonomy

I have questioned the SBC’s claim of the autonomy of local churches. I’ve had some really smart people explain this over and over again to me and I’ve never fully comprehend the argument. So, when I see a smart man like Boz Tchividjian asking the very same questions, then I realize that this concept is not easily explained or understood. This should send a chill over the leaders in the convention. In fact, it probably is already happening.

Not much has been accomplished by the SBC, ERLC or the Credentials Committee in dealing with sewx abuse in the churches except for their Caring Well materials. That’s really nice but it appears that they are in no position to do much beyond a *read this * suggestion. I have a feeling that things have quieted down because too much action could be used against the SBC in coming lawsuits.

Fewer people in the US and other countries are willing to give clergy a pass on issues like rampant sex abuse. The Houston Chronicle investigation was a game changer. I am not an attorney but I do get the increasing anger when it comes to churches and abuse. I predict tough sailing ahead.


Comments

Prediction: SBC Entities Will Be Sued Because the *Doctrine* of Autonomy of Churches Is Not Easily Understood or Accepted and Will Be Challenged — 267 Comments

  1. In cases I’ve known, where the United Pentecostal Church has been added to a civil lawsuit, they end up being dismissed from the case because they claim that each church is autonomous. At the same time, they award and rescind ministerial licenses, they have legally affiliated churches, where a church has to adopt the UPC by-laws, and they have a judicial procedure in place where people can report a minister (though that doesn’t always bring someone justice). They count their churches as well as church members and constituents in sharing statistics of the organization. While it is true that the UPCI doesn’t know the day to day happenings at each of their churches, I am certain that they do hear about at least some of the crimes that have occurred.

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  2. I agree with the points made above about the lack of respect, or lack of perceived “integrity” of “preachers”. I saw it first hand in a specific “campus ministry” when I was in college 40 years ago. What I saw was “marketing” principles from classic American business/advertising, applied to “evangelizing” so they could taught xxx numbers “saved”….
    I saw guest “evangelizers” really stretch the truth, and not like it when they were “called” on it…. including good old Ravi Zachariah who not just stretched, but lied about his “credentials”
    it all really left @ bad test in mouth…. this is what I find refreshing about TWW….. I can express this and I do not get beaten down for it!

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  3. I agree, @Dee, “tough sailing ahead.” Still processing why I think that (and in fact, that “autonomy” may prove the tipping point problem for the SBC. Here are some thoughts.

    I’ve been in SBC churches at least 30 of the last 45 years, participated in 10 SBC-related church plants including on the launch team for 8 and cultural consulting for 1.

    I also worked in multiple departments for Golden Gate Seminary (recently renamed Gateway Seminary) for 11 years total from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, much of that doing systems-oriented work such as procedure manual writing, editing course catalog and faculty manual, and research/documentation projects related to governance, insurance, HR. I completed about half of a master’s in intercultural studies and didn’t take the Baptist theology course.

    With all of that, I’m *still* trying to wrap my brain around “autonomy.” Not because I don’t get it about independent, local church governance and rejection of outside control — but because of the wild range of inconsistencies I’ve heard in SBCers’ definitions of autonomy, matched by incongruities I’ve seen between their theoretical perspective on autonomy versus their (IMO) self-serving praxis whenever autonomy doesn’t favor “us” in the moment.

    If I step back and just try to describe what I think I’ve seen **when there’s a disconnect between what gets said and what gets done**, it all comes across as the SBC Cooperative Program providing a branded commodity that local churches can buy into. Voluntarily, of course. But the glitchy thing is that the locals tout their participation and the SBC entities’ positive results to enhance local reputation.

    So, the rub comes in when something goes wrong with an SBC institutional entity, or with SBC peer-autonomous churches, and a negative reputation would ensue to the locals by being connected beyond their walls. Or an SBC entity strongly recommends using resources to address crucial ministry problems, such as the Caring Well materials/training on abuse-related issues. Suddenly, it’s all about local autonomy for “us” and responsibility/accountability for “them.” They opt out of cooperation and connection, while still drawing reputation points from being in the Cooperative Program.

    It sounds like a glorious system with interconnections when that suits purposes, and it’s sounds like a voluntary network-non-system when it doesn’t.

    In the worst case scenarios, it boils down to “Autonomy means I do what I want, and not what any outside authority says I should do.” And it causes harm. (1) Say nothing and silently pass the problem person on elsewhere. (2) Fail to carry out legally-required mandatory reporting of known/suspected abuse – or ethically-responsible reporting where a state doesn’t have mandatory clergy reporter laws. (3) Hire legal counsel that has a fiduciary duty to protect the non-profit corporation as its client. (4) Silence those already victimized, through coercion and/or NDAs and other tactics and tools.

    Again, this is how it comes across to me from listening to formal presentations in churches and seminary chapel services, and hearing informal conversations in SBC churches and entities and in hanging out with SBCers in lunchrooms and coffee shops.

    And abuse happens to be the most power varnish remover that strips the veneer right off any false “autonomy” falderal …

    So, yeah, probable tough sailing ahead due to double-speak about a non-system system and authorities without accountability.

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  4. Following the previous thought, given “large numbers of people” entered “the church” through “campus ministries” that were “market driven”, is it really that surprising that many of these now older church members will “turn a blind eye” to “effective” preachers that butts into the pews?

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  5. The subheading “The problem with the SBC and autonomy” can easily be changed to read “The problem with 9 Marks and autonomy” with the type of abuse they dish out. While sex abuse is the basis of this article, I hope lawsuits are filed regarding other types of abuse.

    I find it absurd that leaders who electronically sign ‘agreements’ to be affiliated with these cultlike organizations won’t acknowledge that fact. They’re happy to use any and all material at their disposal to indoctrinate the masses but don’t tell people where the material comes from. And sadly, people don’t care when the truth is placed right in front of them…by a survivor of the abuse. I really appreciated the video of Boz (Friday’s post) standing up for the survivors and pointing out that survivors speaking up are just what these churches need.

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  6. There was a case several years ago where the Florida Baptist Convention abandoned its appeal of a jury’s finding it partially liable in a molestation lawsuit, and quietly settled rather than risk there being made a precedent.

    C.E., a Minor by and through his Natural Guardian S.E., v. Florida Baptist Convention, Inc. et al., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 669

    https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/litigation/b/litigation-blog/posts/january-jury-verdict-round-up-top-5-personal-injury-verdicts

    “This Florida state court action was brought to recover damages for injuries suffered by a teenage boy who had been sexually abused by a male Baptist church minister, Douglas Myers. The plaintiff alleged that the minister had a work history of known and reported sexual misconduct with young boys, but that the church and related organizations that hired him had failed to check with his prior employers.”

    “the jury found Florida Baptist Convention 51 percent negligent, Triangle Community Church 0% negligent, Bay Street Baptist Church 4% negligent, and Lake County Baptist Association 45 percent negligent for the negligent selection/hiring of Douglas Myers…The jury found that Myers was not an employee but was an agent of Florida Baptist Convention at the time of the assault.”

    “The damages trial against Florida Baptist Convention was held Jan. 13 to 18, 2014. On Jan. 18, 2014, the jury awarded damages of $12,500,000 to plaintiff”

    http://www.bpnews.net/41864
    SBC organ Baptist Press put out a story touting: “Fla. convention to appeal jury judgment”

    BUT NO FOLLOW-UP STORY WAS EVER PUBLISHED BY BAPTIST PRESS BECAUSE THE FLORIDA BAPTIST CONVENTION INSTEAD DROPPED ITS APPEAL AND NEGOTIATED A CONFIDENTIAL FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT WITH THE VICTIM.

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  7. The hushed up case’s significance noted:

    https://sbcvoices.com/top-sbc-news-stories-part-2-by-william-thornton/

    “Florida Baptist Convention Settles $12.5 Million Sex Abuse Case”

    [FBC = Florida Baptist Convenion]

    “The abuser was a Florida Baptist church planter…Although he wasn’t an employee of the FBC or local association, a local court held that these were liable due to failing to properly investigate the man’s background. A jury awarded a $12.5 million judgment against the FBC”

    “The salient point in all this is that our system of autonomy and non-connectedness is not absolute. The FBC was successfully sued over a sex abuse case involving a non-employee but an individual who was vetted by the FBC and who received some support from the convention. One hopes that our entities are paying attention here.”

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  8. There are different types of affiliation. I attend, and clerk for, a ~100 attendee/65 member Baptist church that is named in the form Baptist Church. If you come in the front door, the left door has a plaque saying the church is associated with the Conservative Baptists. (The city is so liberal I’ve most often had to explain this doesn’t relate to politics, it relates to biblical interpretation controversies of the 1920s and 1930s.)

    Then our governing document has an article reading “The church is affiliated with Conservative Baptists at the local, regional, and national levels and with the Southern Baptists at local and regional levels, in each case solely for fellowship and cooperative efforts, not to be governed by these affiliated organizations.”

    A far sighted founding member who was for decades the pastor’s assistant/associate pastor of the prior church in the building made sure the part beginning “in each case” was included in this language. She wanted to ensure the independence of the church no matter how confused people got. And people have been confused even in my short time at the church.

    Frankly, overall I’m not surprised that people are confused about autonomy. Most churchgoers are confused about the details of any theological position. (See the Pew surveys with the deplorably high levels of confusion about or non-adherence to basic Christian beliefs.) And church governance is one that people usually only pay attention to when it interferes with their life, which it rarely does.

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  9. L believe if this case goes to trial with a jury, we may see some sparks fly. I am not a lawyer, but it may be a challenge to hold the SBC liable. The Convention may have a bit more time to make things right, but I believe that the window is closing fast. I am sure there will be stronger cases whereby it can be shown that some of these entities had direct access and authority to stop the abuse. If all pastors in all states had the legal responsibility to report highly probable cases of abuse, we would see change. When state law strengthens, we will see more winnable cases. This is conjecture on my part.

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  10. Regarding that prior $12.5 million Florida case that apportioned liability against the Florida Baptist Convention, I wrote about its significance here:
    https://baptistnews.com/article/change-is-coming-to-baptistland/#.XhQRT3dFw2x

    And I concluded with much the same prediction as you, Dee — i.e., that there would be more lawsuits. That was 2014, and now we’re seeing a few more, and I predict there will still be a great many more. “Slow or fast, change is coming to Baptistland.”

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  11. Having years ago gone to a pastor in a church affiliated with one I attended (where the senior pastor was a complete adulterous philanderer), and pleading for help for the church, only to be met with Matthew 18 and it wasn’t polite to gossip and that each of the churches in our denomination were independent, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Patients can’t sue the medical schools their mal-practicing doctors graduated from, but they can sue the hospital where they work.

    I think the secret will be in proving how much oversight the denomination actually has.

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  12. Will the member churches within the denomination stick together or will the SBC splinter?

    Will the ERLC be used to shed churches before the said churches are sued, so as the SBC could void liability?

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  13. Brian:
    Will the member churches within the denomination stick together or will the SBC splinter?

    Will the ERLC be used to shed churches before the said churches are sued, so as the SBC could void liability?

    Reminds me of when GM reshuffled and IIRC tried to weasel out of a recall issue on 2007 Impalas and others where the rear tires would wear down, using the fuse that they were now a different company. Wouldn’t be shocked to see reshufflings and “replantings” (perhaps aided by the NAMB’s efforts and finds) with escaping accountability as a planned byproduct.

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  14. grberry,

    ‘associated…. affiliated….

    …She wanted to ensure the independence of the church no matter how confused people got.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    association and affiliation means there is a mutual relationship, mutual benefit or liability. what affects one affects the other. how can there be autonomy?

    beyond someone saying the words “autonomy” and “autonomous” several times in a row?

    they might as well clap 3 times and spin around, for good measure.

    is it magical thinking to some degree?

    or just something more mundane and dumb, like touting theories but being blind to the fact that they are totally contradicted by the correlating practice?

    like the theory of “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

    in practice, the so-called ‘sinner’ is rejected, ignored, passed over, avoided, lobbied against without regard for their welfare…. no effort is made to try to understand them & their perspective beyond the confines of the box labled “sinner”…

    and the theory of “the beauty of complementarianism”.

    in practice, it’s discrimination, putting shackles on people, denying them opportunity, silencing their voices, uneven scales, unequal weights,…
    ———–

    i can think of a number of christian doctrines and beliefs, which are “theories” that are completely contradicted by the practice of them.

    those that hold to them seem blind to the contradictions. blind to the fact that the contradictions are actually cruel, unjust, dishonest, harmful to others. (& possibly to oneself)

    perhaps they call it ‘faith’, and ponder it no further.

    perhaps they are happy go-lucky about it. perhaps they are uneasy about it, but just go along with it because to do otherwise would be too uncomfortable, inconvenient and costly.
    ————

    with regard to these legal cases, how easy/difficult is it to ‘prove’ that a theory (and the language of the theory as it is defined) is undercut by its practice? and thus no legal grounds to stand on.

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  15. JDV,

    “Wouldn’t be shocked to see reshufflings and “replantings” (perhaps aided by the NAMB’s efforts and finds) with escaping accountability as a planned byproduct.”
    +++++++++++++++

    sounds like the church institution to me.

    we’ve seen this many times, haven’t we?

    all done for Jesus and for his fame. of course.

    and far too many christian leaders respond with silent assent.

    too timid or too much of an ideologue to simply do what any non-christian person can plainly see is right.

    their poor reputation is earned & deserved.

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  16. GMFS

    I’ll return to the topic of the post in due course once I’ve refactored two elements of a program and added in a search function. (I’m also going in to the office of the company I resigned from just before Christmas to drop off a farewell cake, my laptop and Nick Replacement Bear.)

    But first things first, and Wartburgers everywhere will be on the edge of their seats awaiting news of the cricket.

    Anderson trapped Maharaj lbw this morning, leaving the Proteas three down and therefore unable to achieve an 8-wicket win. They remain on course for a 7-wicket win, though. Malan is progressing steadily towards a fine fourth-innings ton (on 67 as I write this) and South Africa need another 302 to win. But every result remains possible early on the final day.

    IHTIH

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  17. Jeffrey Chalmers: I agree with the points made above about the lack of respect, or lack of perceived “integrity” of “preachers”. I saw it first hand in a specific “campus ministry” when I was in college 40 years ago. What I saw was “marketing” principles from classic American business/advertising, applied to “evangelizing” so they could taught xxx numbers “saved”….

    Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Maranatha?
    (From “marketing principles from classic American business/advertising”, my guess would be Campus Crusade.)

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  18. Jerome: SBC organ Baptist Press put out a story touting: “Fla. convention to appeal jury judgment”

    BUT NO FOLLOW-UP STORY WAS EVER PUBLISHED BY BAPTIST PRESS BECAUSE THE FLORIDA BAPTIST CONVENTION INSTEAD DROPPED ITS APPEAL AND NEGOTIATED A CONFIDENTIAL FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT WITH THE VICTIM.

    With accompanying mandatory Gag Order?
    (“No Sign-ee, No Payee”?)
    The Heathen(TM) name of which is “Hush Money”.

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  19. brad/futuristguy: With all of that, I’m *still* trying to wrap my brain around “autonomy.” Not because I don’t get it about independent, local church governance and rejection of outside control — but because of the wild range of inconsistencies I’ve heard in SBCers’ definitions of autonomy, matched by incongruities I’ve seen between their theoretical perspective on autonomy versus their (IMO) self-serving praxis whenever autonomy doesn’t favor “us” in the moment.

    Just like Calvary Chapel.
    Completely Independent “Fellowships” when that is to their advantage;
    A lockstep monolith of a steamroller when that is to their advantage.
    Disperse for Defense, Concentrate for Attack.

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  20. David: The subheading “The problem with the SBC and autonomy” can easily be changed to read “The problem with 9 Marks and autonomy” with the type of abuse they dish out. While sex abuse is the basis of this article, I hope lawsuits are filed regarding other types of abuse.

    I still find the number of people who have accepted 9 Marks beliefs staggering. Their principles line up quite closely to cult strategies. I believe there has been a couple of cases already where the enforcement of covenants has gone to court. I hope there will be more. Not only do I believe the way they use covenants is illegal in the US, I believe their intent is to usurp God’s authority and therefore immoral.

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  21. “Autonomy” when stripped to its bare bones means the ability for an organization to run itself without outside influence. To be an SBC-affiliated church, there is an understanding between a local church and the SBC that the church will support the denomination by participating in funding of national entities. This is done by annual giving to SBC’s “Cooperative Program” and home/international mission programs. If they do that, the big boys won’t bother them … unless they go off the deep end like putting a woman in the pulpit! With that sort of control by its SBC parent, the children are not ‘really’ autonomous … thus, when the children misbehave, the parent shares some responsibility. Passing problem kids (bad-boy preachers) to other churches, without letting the next church know about them, demonstrates poor parenting skills. “Just send us your bucks and we’ll leave you alone” might work with crime syndicates, but is a poor way to conduct yourself if you are called by the name of Christ.

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  22. I am wondering how this will affect church planting networks and other networks of related churches or mission initiatives. Does anyone know if there has been a lawsuit that has named a church plant and added the wider/overarching network to the suit?

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  23. elastigirl: association and affiliation means there is a mutual relationship, mutual benefit or liability. what affects one affects the other. how can there be autonomy?

    Exactly. Just read your words – that’s what I was trying to convey in my comment based on my 70-year snapshot of SBC/local church affiliation. Autonomy doesn’t really exist within SBC.

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  24. Andrew Jones: I am wondering how this will affect church planting networks and other networks of related churches or mission initiatives.

    SBC should really be concerned about this. They have essentially turned a bunch of inexperienced flesh-baby pastors loose in their church planting program. Being affiliated with known bad-actors like the Acts 29 Network adds to the accident-waiting-to-happen. In its scramble to Calvinize the denomination as quickly as possible, SBC’s New Calvinist ruling party put together a church planting program which is more about planting reformed theology than Gospel churches. They rely on an army of young reformers to make this happen. When you release an unproven young “lead pastor” with an “elder board” of youngsters into a congregation of more juveniles, hormones happen.

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  25. South Africa are now only set to win by only three wickets, as van der Dussen has just fallen to Stuart Broad for 17 and the Proteas are now 237-7. Anderson, who is struggling with an injury of some kind and seems to’ve been taken out of the bowling line-up, took the catch at leg slip.

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  26. Only 19 overs remain, however, so if South Africa aren’t able to get the 200 runs they need, it’ll be a draw. Last man out van der Dussen occupied the crease for 140 deliveries for his 17 runs, suggesting that South Africa are indeed playing to bat the game out.

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  27. Jerome: The plaintiff alleged that the minister had a work history of known and reported sexual misconduct with young boys, but that the church and related organizations that hired him had failed to check with his prior employers.

    I feel like this is really a thing that keeps popping up and is a sticking point for me.

    You can do everything right and a predator may still appear. The question becomes what do you do after? Supporting the victim and firing the perpetrator are kind of the bare minimum (and we know how often that actually happens right?). But there is also the question of what comes after.

    WHY do churches CONTINUALLY hire these guys after they have already shown us who they are??? We saw it with Feltner and Savage and a million others. They get passed down the line and the next church either turns a blind eye or doesn’t even both to check references which is downright negligent. Any church that doesn’t check references or ignores them and then ends up with a predator who does harm absolutely deserves to pay for it.

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  28. elastigirl: with regard to these legal cases, how easy/difficult is it to ‘prove’ that a theory (and the language of the theory as it is defined) is undercut by its practice? and thus no legal grounds to stand on.

    IANAL, but I would think there would have to be some type of negligence shown on the part of the association? Were they aware of the situation, were they involved in vetting/hiring/firing? IDK what that would take legally.

    As for the rest, it is magical thinking a bit. However association can mean different things. Maybe the question is how easy is it to break off and whether or not the agency has any governing power? There is generally money involved and that is the real sticking point imo.

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  29. Dee, good article, we talked about the issues with the SBC this past Sunday in the Sunday school class I teach, it was interesting.

    Questions I received, why are we still a member of the SBC?
    Can they ( SBC) kick us out?
    How much control does the convention have over us ( our individual church)?

    The questions were in regards to a different issue than the abuse scandal, but the answers are basically the same

    Since we own our property, and since we control all our decisions, hires, appointments, outreach

    They ( SBC) has virtually no power over us, we decided to join the convention, and we can just as easily decide to leave.

    Now if these lawsuits go against the convention, the convention does have assets at risk
    But we as a singular congregation have nothing monetarily at risk
    We also give only the minimum to the convention, we have an associate pastor that wants to contribute to their retirement plan

    I often ponder how many SBC churches are like my church, we are a member of the SBC association, but it is association of merely convenience

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  30. Benn: They ( SBC) has virtually no power over us, we decided to join the convention, and we can just as easily decide to leave.

    I envision that will change once the New Calvinists have accomplished their mission to takeover the denomination. It’s clear that they are all about exerting control and authority through manipulation, intimidation, and domination … they can only do that if they strip away local church autonomy. If they will shun and excommunicate individuals from New Calvinist churches, the national organization would have no problem disfellowshipping local churches which don’t adhere to the belief and practice of reformed theology (which will become the default within SBC soon).

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  31. Lea: WHY do churches CONTINUALLY hire these guys after they have already shown us who they are??? We saw it with Feltner and Savage … They get passed down the line and the next church either turns a blind eye or doesn’t even both to check references which is downright negligent

    A touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick always supersedes anointing and spirituality in gullible congregations.

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  32. Andrew Jones: I am wondering how this will affect church planting networks and other networks of related churches or mission initiatives. Does anyone know if there has been a lawsuit that has named a church plant and added the wider/overarching network to the suit?

    and @Max: “SBC should really be concerned about this. They have essentially turned a bunch of inexperienced flesh-baby pastors loose in their church planting program.”

    Andrew, I’m not aware of any lawsuit involving a church plant + wider network.

    However, given my background in church planting plus research writing on toxic systems, it’s my opinion that such a lawsuit is practically inevitable. Here’s some detail for reaching that conclusion.

    My background in church planting includes being in the very first wave of NAMB Nehemiah Project church planters and team members circa 2000/2001) and serving as a church planter candidate assessor in the early 2000s.

    In the past few years, I’ve been building the case that the assessment process is flawed in several ways. One is in its definition of a “successful” church planter, which could be faked by a sharp, charismatic, but ultimately self-serving planter.

    Also, the assessment process needed to add more rigorous character disorder screening, like an MMPI evaluation by a certified professional — and not rely on some kind of temperament indicator like Myers-Briggs. In some Twitter threads on this topic, counseling professionals also recommended more stringent evaluations, especially given the research that suggests “religious leader” is one of the top 10 professions that those with character disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder seek out to build a self-benefitting platform. (I’ll see if I can locate some of those threads.)

    In other words, **in terms of screening out potentially abusive (authoritarian) candidates** the process lacked due diligence. Not that authoritarians are all sexual abuse perpetrators. But it seems clear enough from case studies of cover-ups depend on those who have no qualms about manipulating others to protect themselves and their institutions, including when sexual predators turn up in the staff or congregation.

    Also, to my knowledge, there were no background checks specifically for sexual predators included in the assessment process. That may have changed, or may change. But if what I described is fairly accurate of the historical process, if there’s a lawsuit, then the process used at the time of the alleged abuse is relevant.

    When gatekeepers lack due diligence in setting up the screening process and oversight during the training to weed out bad-faith candidates, these manipulators and abuse perpetrators don’t fall through the cracks to get into the system, they walk right through the front gate.

    And then look at the underlying SBC systems involved in assessing and approving candidates. There’s a lot of intertwining activity between autonomous churches and institutional entities — and thus, I would suggest, intertwining of responsibility and potential accountability. When I was in the Nehemiah Project and later serving as a candidate assessor: Candidate applications require recommendations, including from LOCAL CHURCH LEADERS who know the candidate. LOCAL ASSOCIATIONS and STATE CONVENTIONS hosted assessment clinics. Trained assessors were typically a mix of people that came from CHURCH leaders, ASSOCIATION and CONVENTION staff, SEMINARY professors, and NAMB consultants. The NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD allocated COOPERATIVE PROGRAM funding for church planters, which was disbursed through state conventions. Other SBC LOCAL CHURCHES often contributed funds and supplies, and provided VOLUNTEERS for the launch process.

    This should suggest why SBC entities, and autonomous churches who’ve participated at any level in such processes, could have reason to be nervous about legal actions.

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  33. So…reading the dem gazette article about the arkansas case.

    “In February 2018, Hill’s former wife, Carolyn Latham, contacted the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and its director, James Tucker, to report the sexual abuse of Doe and possibly other minors, according to the lawsuit.”Hill’s abuse of Doe was allowed to continue on multiple occasions and for months after Ms. Latham’s reporting,” wrote Gillispie.”

    My bet is they wrote this woman off as an ‘ex scorned’ or something or maybe just as a woman. ABSC deserves anything they get at this point.

    The attorney said they deny the allegations that he or any ABSC employee received information sufficient to trigger a duty to report.”. That’s a big weasel response right there.

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  34. Benn: Since we own our property, and since we control all our decisions, hires, appointments, outreach

    They ( SBC) has virtually no power over us, we decided to join the convention, and we can just as easily decide to leave.

    I think this is true, but I think a lot of members are quite hung on the idea of being Southern Baptist, so it might be harder to actually accomplish that. There’s a lot of churches that find their identity in the SBC, and a lot of members that would refuse to leave. My home church during seminary went through that and it’s surprising the number of people who won’t go to any but a SBC church.

    Now, some of the churches we’ve seen, like Highpoint, pretended to be nondenominational when they were actually SBC. And members were furious when they found out. But there must be other benefits for some of these churches/pastors to be SBC when they are hiding it to the church? Being in the New Cal network? Something else?

    I think what will work the best in the long run is reporting to police and lawsuits. But I do think that disassociation and social punishments do have some effect on these churches. But I feel like we should examine why that is true more than we are.

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  35. Vance: I am not a lawyer, but it may be a challenge to hold the SBC liable. The Convention may have a bit more time to make things right, but I believe that the window is closing fast.

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that despite the SBC’s insistence they are a loose confederation of autonomous churches, they have tons of moolah going to a central location (10 billion per year according to Max, a long time Wartburger).

    Even so, it will be a hard sell to convince a jury that the SBC is responsible for the actions (or inaction) of outlying churches.

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  36. Max: “Just send us your bucks and we’ll leave you alone” might work with crime syndicates, but is a poor way to conduct yourself if you are called by the name of Christ.

    Now there’s a thought, maybe they can get these guys on the RICO statutes.
    They do after all do business like a crew of ‘good fellas’.

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  37. Benn,

    “I often ponder how many SBC churches are like my church, we are a member of the SBC association, but it is association of merely convenience”
    ++++++++++++++

    how is it convenient? how does it benefit you? (simply curious — i’m not really sure)

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  38. Max,

    “A touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick always supersedes anointing and spirituality in gullible congregations.”
    ++++++++++++++

    if there was no sermon, less opportunity for that.

    (the sermon and the traditional church service format needs to be rethought, in my opinion)

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  39. Max:
    I envision that will change once the New Calvinists have accomplished their mission to takeover the denomination.It’s clear that they are all about exerting control and authority through manipulation, intimidation, and domination … they can only do that if they strip away local church autonomy.If they will shun and excommunicate individuals from New Calvinist churches, the national organization would have no problem disfellowshipping local churches which don’t adhere to the belief and practice of reformed theology (which will become the default within SBC soon).

    In the 1980’s the inerrancy of Scripture became the litmus test for the SBC, one may easily see that Reformed theology will become the next test to remain in the SBC. It is for this reason that the seminaries represent New Calvinist theology, seek to turn out pastors who carry this to to new church starts and seek to overturn existing churches. And as in the 1980’s, the issue will again be “doctrinal purity.”

    What is different this time around is that as some churches left the SBC to go to CBF or the Alliance of Baptists because they did not buy into the theological changes, I do expect the SBC to want more control over a church than just an agreement on a rewritten Baptist Faith and Message that is more Calvinistic. Expect a local church to be challenged by the national convention on topics the SBC questions in the local congregation.

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  40. HeadlessUnicornGuy: Good-Ol-Boys’ Network?

    If there were obvious connections/nepotism between the hiring people and the candidate I would agree, but I dont think there always are? This is too common.

    I think they either don’t bother checking references or they seriously don’t care about abuse at all (or in the case of YP’s going after teenagers, blame the girls for everything, when they are girls – because young women are considered a combination of inherently tempting, or active vixens, and men are not considered responsible for their own actions).

    I am honestly leaning towards them simply not caring.

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  41. elastigirl:
    Benn,

    “I often ponder how many SBC churches are like my church, we are a member of the SBC association, but it is association of merely convenience”
    ++++++++++++++

    how is it convenient?how does it benefit you? (simply curious — i’m not really sure)

    Hello Elastigirl, I hope your new year is off to a great start….

    I don’t mind giving my view on why we are SBC at all
    I think it’s just just a way to identify what’s inside
    Just like when krespy Kreme doughnuts puts on the “HOT” sign to say hot doughnuts are ready
    I believe Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodist, baptist, and the like are correct on primary beliefs
    We all just disagree on secondary doctrines, but some of the disagreements are enough to separate us on worshiping together

    I attend an SBC church because I can’t go the IFB ( independent fundamentalist baptist) route.
    So being SBC just tells like minded folk what to expect
    Have you ever been on a trip with the family and needed to grab a bite, and you saw a sign for a mom and pop restaurant, and thought I wonder if this place is any good ?

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  42. ishy: I think this is true, but I think a lot of members are quite hung on the idea of being Southern Baptist, so it might be harder to actually accomplish that. There’s a lot of churches that find their identity in the SBC, and a lot of members that would refuse to leave. My home church during seminary went through that and it’s surprising the number of people who won’t go to any but a SBC church.

    Now, some of the churches we’ve seen, like Highpoint, pretended to be nondenominational when they were actually SBC. And members were furious when they found out. But there must be other benefits for some of these churches/pastors to be SBC when they are hiding it to the church? Being in the New Cal network? Something else?

    I think what will work the best in the long run is reporting to police and lawsuits. But I do think that disassociation and social punishments do have some effect on these churches. But I feel like we should examine why that is true more than we are.

    Ishy good comments

    I’ve known people that think the sun rises and sets within the SBC, ( tradition is very powerful)
    Once you have skin in the game ( the connected elite at the top of the SBC food chain) I get staying and being loyal, but just average pew peons I don’t get the draw, maybe it’s their love to feel important to get to represent their local church at the annual convention just a wag on my part)

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  43. Headless Unicorn Guy: Disperse for Defense, Concentrate for Attack.

    It goes along with collective praiseworthiness but carefully individualized blame.

    Organizations are always, always good. When forced to acknowledge bad behavior, they blame a person. “The actions of this individual do not represent our values,” “This is not who we are.”

    Never a hint that the organization might have created a problem or failed to prevent one. Never a good-faith effort to improve.

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  44. Luckyforward: In the 1980’s the inerrancy of Scripture became the litmus test for the SBC, one may easily see that Reformed theology will become the next test to remain in the SBC.

    It’s clear now that SBC’s “Conservative Resurgence” used inerrancy as their battle cry, but it was really all about a “Calvinist Resurgence.” It took a lot of us non-Calvinist “conservatives” to see through the New Calvinist scheme (Mohler et al.). Any attempts by mainline Southern Baptists to reverse the tide at this point is too little too late. Traditionalists (non-Calvinist) are on the verge of losing all the stuff they amassed over the last 150 years to the new reformers: seminaries, mission agencies, publishing house, thousands of churches … and the average Southern Baptist still ain’t got a clue.

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  45. Muff Potter: You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that despite the SBC’s insistence they are a loose confederation of autonomous churches, they have tons of moolah going to a central location (10 billion per year according to Max, a long time Wartburger).

    Muff,

    I don’t think that Max was saying that all $10 billion goes to a central location. I believe that that figure referred to money take in by all SBC churches, of which an average of about 5% goes to local, state, and national SBC organizations. The rest stays at the 17,000 or so local churches.

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  46. elastigirl: the sermon and the traditional church service format needs to be rethought, in my opinion

    Christ-centered worship, prayer, and unity of spirit would be a good start. Reinstating Jesus as the ultimate authority in all that a church does would be awesome as well.

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  47. brad/futuristguy: In some Twitter threads on this topic, counseling professionals also recommended more stringent evaluations, especially given the research that suggests “religious leader” is one of the top 10 professions that those with character disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder seek out to build a self-benefitting platform. (I’ll see if I can locate some of those threads.)

    Does that hold for Sociopathy as well?
    (From my experience, the two have a LOT of overlap.)

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  48. Muff Potter: they have tons of moolah going to a central location (10 billion per year according to Max, a long time Wartburger)

    That $10 billion number is for “total reported undesignated receipts given in Southern Baptist churches” … most of that supports the staff and ministries of SBC’s 47,000 churches … a little less than $1 billion goes to national SBC entities (but that’s still a lot of moolah).

    An overview of the money-flow in SBC life is summarized at: http://www.sbc.net/BecomingSouthernBaptist/FastFacts.asp

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  49. brad/futuristguy,

    Thank you Brad for your insider perspective of SBC’s church planting process as it pertains to the selection of pastors. You have reinforced my concern about the rush to plant churches without due diligence to screen out potentially abusive leaders. IMHO, as stated earlier, I believe that NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year (with a $60 million annual budget) is more about planting reformed theology than Gospel churches with SBC’s traditional message of whosoever-will-may-come.

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  50. Headless Unicorn Guy: Does that hold for Sociopathy as well?
    (From my experience, the two have a LOT of overlap.)

    Yes. I’ve seen “sociopathy” sometimes used technically as a synonym for Anti-Social Personality Disorder. So an MMPI-type evaluation by a certified professional would be to determine if there are character/personality disorders.

    The *Out of the FOG* website has a lot of both technical and practical information about personality disorders. The ones we most often hear about in relation to spiritual abuse are narcissists and sociopaths.

    https://outofthefog.website/types-of-personality-disorders/

    Meanwhile, in related issues of terminology, I don’t use the technical psychological terms (like NPD/Narcissistic Personality Disorder) to talk about someone unless they have actually received that diagnosis. It communicates okay to talk about narcissism in general, or particular characteristics and typical tactics in specific, without labeling someone with NPD when they don’t have such diagnosis. It could stave off problems by following those guidelines.

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  51. Max,

    Thanks, Max,

    I felt it was important to post that information, especially to give some sense of how much of a Gordonian Knot “the SBC” is with all the specific kinds of interconnections between local churches and official SBC entities. Almost impossible to disentangle the financial, personal, and organizational connections and directions in which money, consumables, and reputation flow. The overall situation and relational connections present many opportunities for conflicts of interest, self-benefiting, nepotism/cronyism, etc. — issues that should not occur in 501c3 non-profits.

    Unless the SBC/NAMB and other church planting networks have finally updated the cultural research and definitions of “success,” they’re likely using the same approach as Dr. Charles Ridley developed decades ago, which was based on a modernist paradigm. Which means it tends to favor hierarchical leadership (which can result in authoritarian submit-to-me-or-else “leaders” at the top of the church plant pyramid) and measuring “success” by numbers as quantitative indicators of organizational growth, rather than by qualitative indicators of transformational impact. I think if we take a deeper look at YRR/Calvinistic paradigms and church planting, we’ll see how that assessment system and descriptions of “success” work well for multiplying toxic Reformed churches with SBC funding. (Sidenote: Not all Reformed theology is toxic, and not everyone who works with NAMB and/or in church planting is toxic.)

    A few years back, I had some exchanges with Dr. Ridley about his desire to update the system. Don’t know what became of those efforts. But still, historically, that highly modernist system was the one in play when I was most active in church planting activities (mid-1990s-mid-2000s) and candidate assessing (early 2000s). Here’s some stuff I’ve written about Dr. Ridley’s system, with links to some of the criteria it uses.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/gospel-ecosystems-and-organizational-systems/

    I’m sure I’ve seen summaries show up online of statistics on how many church plants fail and after how many years, etc. All y’all might want to take some time to check that out, but it’s certainly relevant to the big picture of church planting and why “scramble” is a term that serves.

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  52. brad/futuristguy: My background in church planting includes being in the very first wave of NAMB Nehemiah Project church planters and team members circa 2000/2001) and serving as a church planter candidate assessor in the early 2000s.

    Did you go to the kickoff thing at NAMB? I was there. I actually designed the handbook for that project. I think they also had a reception at one of those conventions.

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  53. Max: church planting

    What is it with the planting? Why don’t they just take exquisite care of the beautiful healthy mature trees?

    My own church in the dying mainline has been around for 200 years. We have enough to do, just to feed our own flock, hold 11 services a week, open our doors to Head Start, AA, etc., run a couple of excellent schools, staff the town shelter, counsel literally anyone who stops by during certain hours, host art and music events, and generally serve as a community asset.

    So no, we’re not opening a Sunday morning nightclub over by the car dealerships.

    /rant

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  54. I was a team associate/intern in the very first semester of the Project, but wasn’t at The Big Kickoff Thing or annual meeting/reception, though I probably read summaries and/or saw introductory videos about the Nehemiah Project. I recall a handbook, plus there were other materials produced by the NP reps at Golden Gate Seminary. (Probably still have all those items, hiding out somewhere in storage. And I still have the Ridley materials for Level 1 and Level 2 candidate assessor training.)

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  55. brad/futuristguy: So an MMPI-type evaluation by a certified professional would be to determine if there are character/personality disorders.

    One major problem I have always had with the SBC is the avoidance of dealing with mental health issues. I remember being told in seminary that if I was going to go with IMB, I couldn’t have ever had counseling of any type. I had mandated grief counseling in secular college after my mother’s passing and apparently even that was unacceptable. Nobody seemed able to explain why the IMB board was so against counseling, though. And I strongly believe that seminary students should go through character and mental health evaluations. Such a process likely won’t catch all predators, but it might catch a few.

    As we were talking about in the other post, just because people refuse to acknowledge problems doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And I’m sure such men are the same men who support other men who are predators and hire known predators.

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  56. Benn: I often ponder how many SBC churches are like my church, we are a member of the SBC association, but it is association of merely convenience
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    A number believe that it is an association of mere convenience.Some go do say as to claim that they are not really Baptists. However, you do provide something to the SBC which likes to claim they are the largest evangelical denomination in the US. You provide the name of your church and the names of your members to the SBC. The people of your church are Southern Baptists whether or not they believe they are. I read the stats each year.

    If any member of the SBC doesn’t believe they are SBC, then they better be told the truth. They should also be given a chance to vote on their association with the SBC.

    You can also hope that you will not be included in a lawsuit. You can’t quit once you’ve have been named as a member of the SBC. If I was in leadership at your church, I might consider that this post is a fair warning of the future. If the only reason you belong is to give some guy a good retirement deal, then figure out another way.

    I bet some really smart person could come up with a better deal for independent churches.

    Also, does your pastor ever attend conferences, etc.?

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  57. ishy: I strongly believe that seminary students should go through character and mental health evaluations. Such a process likely won’t catch all predators, but it might catch a few.

    Totally agree, and the strong recommendation for mental health evaluation of seminary applications was part of the MMPI discussions on Twitter.

    That these are missing, and typically rely on Myers-Briggs and pastoral recommendations etc., is part of a systemic problem — a paradigm of passivity when it comes to prevention by active screening for problematic applicants/candidates, and not solid practices of intervention as problems arise. Which leaves crisis reactions when problems are too big, become too public, etc.

    Such systems do not lend themselves to earning people’s trust. They rely on “things are going great!” sorts of responses, which lack transparency.

    And the whole thing of rejecting counseling is a conundrum. However in the world can we expect missionaries to be effective disciplers when they don’t have any background experiences in being counseled, and where counseling is downplayed?

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, global research shows that 1 in every 3 women worldwide is the victim of sexual abuse/violence sometime during her lifetime. U.S. statistics from the CDC use 1 in 3 women and almost 1 in every 4 men. Whether we’re talking evangelism, missions, discipleship, or counseling — we cannot escape the realities of how this one endemic issue alone affects a huge percentage of the people we connect with every day. For details and links, see this Twitter thread:

    https://twitter.com/futuristguy/status/1185186272291123201

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  58. And in a case where the legal structure and documentation is murky, then how it really functions will be the basis of action. As Max has noted, the associations have power to remove churches for “some” things – that will be scrutinized for how it really works as to whether there is control, influence or other basis of action.

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  59. dee: Benn: I often ponder how many SBC churches are like my church, we are a member of the SBC association, but it is association of merely convenience

    A number believe that it is an association of mere convenience.Some go do say as to claim that they are not really Baptists. However, you do provide something to the SBC which likes to claim they are the largest evangelical denomination in the US. You provide the name of your church and the names of your members to the SBC. The people of your church are Southern Baptists whether or not they believe they are. I read the stats each year.

    I’ll disagree with you there Dee using my church as an example. I’m the clerk, so filling out the annual information survey fell in my to do bucket, and I just did it during December.

    We were not asked to report names of members. We were asked to report number of members. We were also asked to report the number participating in certain categories of mission activity. We were also asked to report names and contact information for pastors, some non-pastoral staff, and typical officers.

    We were also asked to report financials. I didn’t. The truth is, most years our financial contribution is zero. About three years ago we took one Lottie Moon offering but for the last two years we didn’t. Out youth do attend a SBC affiliate organized conference annually and pay the conference fee. And this year one went on a SBC affiliate organized mission trip and did some fundraising for that.

    To elastigirl’s query Benn was responding to, the other benefits than youth programs that I know of are:
    1) One member attended a SBC Seminary at the reduced tuition for members. He is now ordained and a pastor on the opposite coast.
    2) Once in the last four years a leader of an SBC affiliate covered preaching at our church while our pastor was away and none of our regular substitutes could cover. (We have four non-pastor members who are in full time ministry and also sometimes give the pulpit to other members, so rarely do we need an outsider.)

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  60. grberry: One member attended a SBC Seminary at the reduced tuition for members. He is now ordained and a pastor on the opposite coast.

    This is definitely a benefit, though I still wonder how much of a benefit it is to those churches that hide their affiliation. When I attended, the tuition was half, and cheaper than going to a public school in my state.

    I am not the biggest conspiracy theory person, but I suspect there are bigger benefits for the larger churches or their pastors, that may not be advertised to other churches. The only thing I can think of is premiere treatment for your books at Lifeway, but I don’t think that’s a big enough bonus to remain in the SBC and hide your affiliation to your members.

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  61. Friend: What is it with the planting? Why don’t they just take exquisite care of the beautiful healthy mature trees?

    What a beautiful metaphor!

    Friend: My own church in the dying mainline has been around for 200 years.

    Dying mainlines? They’ll be around and thriving long after the mega-biggie-planting-craze has gone the way of the T-Rex (my opinion), because they exist to serve the surrounding communities in a sustainable way.

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  62. Max: When you release an unproven young “lead pastor” with an “elder board” of youngsters into a congregation of more juveniles, hormones happen.

    I say this respectfully and affectionately, but not all of this can be blamed on us whippersnappers. The mildly abusive church we resigned-before-we-could-get-fired from did have all young-ish pastors (20s and 30s), but all the elders were in their 50s-60s. And in our parting interactions with an elder and the associate pastor, it became clear that the elder was the one calling the shots.

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  63. Wild Honey: I say this respectfully and affectionately, but not all of this can be blamed on us whippersnappers.

    Certainly not. SBC pastors and elders in their 50s-60s have caused plenty of trouble in the denomination! One can be spiritually immature regardless of age.

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  64. Friend: What is it with the planting? Why don’t they just take exquisite care of the beautiful healthy mature trees?

    Oh, SBC does that too. The New Calvinists in charge now call it “revitalization” and “replanting” … exquisite names for going in to “care for” a struggling church but taking it over for the new reformation.

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  65. ishy: I remember being told in seminary that if I was going to go with IMB, I couldn’t have ever had counseling of any type.

    I remember when we were undergoing evaluation for an international adoption; the Social Worker told us it was a good thing if couples had undergone counseling in the past, because it showed they were willing to acknowledge and deal with problems.
    That approach makes a whole lot more sense to me than the “you had better be perfect, or at least pretend that you are” approach you mention!

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  66. dee: A number believe that it is an association of mere convenience.Some go do say as to claim that they are not really Baptists. However, you do provide something to the SBC which likes to claim they are the largest evangelical denomination in the US. You provide the name of your church and the names of your members to the SBC. The people of your church are Southern Baptists whether or not they believe they are. I read the stats each year.

    If any member of the SBC doesn’t believe they are SBC, then they better be told the truth. They should also be given a chance to vote on their association with the SBC.

    You can also hope that you will not be included in a lawsuit. You can’t quit once you’ve have been named as a member of the SBC.If I was in leadership at your church, I might consider that this post isa fair warning of the future. If the only reason you belong is to give some guy a good retirement deal, then figure out another way.

    I bet some really smart person could come up with a better deal for independent churches.

    Also, does your pastor ever attend conferences, etc.?

    Dee, as far as being in the convention, so that we can be counted and the SBC gets the benefit of padded member count, you’re correct there( they do derive a benefit from the many churches like mine )

    A lawyer I’m not, but to me I can’t see how we could be held responsible for any actions by a church six states away

    Many have commented about people that take an inordinate amount of pride as to being a third generation sbc’er
    I don’t really get that, but I agree many do that

    I guess part of the disconnect with the SBC, as opposed to say the UMC and the buzz around a most likely vote to split in their upcomimg conference, baptist don’t have district overseers, the denomination doesn’t own the buildings, or any reign over pastors, in any associational body..

    I do agree with you and Boz, if some SBC called a homosexual pastor, or calling a woman as pastor, many would revolt, and demand some sort of action

    To your last point, no my pastor hasn’t attended any conferences, and even our associate pastor who has his retirement in the SBC has even bothered to attend any.

    My pastor has said he is going to Orlando this June, ( we will see)
    Both of our pastors are bi vocational, but honestly one or both should attend, if for nothing to be able to answer questions anyone should have

    I was asked to address the church the Sunday after I got back from Birmingham this year to give my thoughts

    For what it is worth, I don’t have many regrets in my life to date, but one of the few I do have, is not canceling the dinner I was asked to attend, and going to your FSATAT rally, I truly regret not getting to meet you, I admire what you do. You could be enjoying a much more comfortable life if you were not pouring yourself into being a watchwoman on the abuse wall

    P.s. protest at Orlando

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  67. Brian: Could there be a pushback on therapy, because early pioneers of the field, some were atheist out to prove religion as only a stage in the evolution of man?

    In our infamous youth group, we were all told never to study psychology because it would ruin our faith. I put this folk belief into the same category as “your soul has little doors.”

    Heaven forbid we use our God-given minds to develop insights, improve mental health, break addictions, and build stronger relationships.

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  68. Brian,

    “(the sermon and the traditional church service format needs to be rethought, in my opinion)”

    “Which denomination’s traditional service?”–Brian
    +++++++++++++

    the one where everyone comes in, sits down, bows head on command, raises head and open eyes on cue, stands on command, sits on command (spoken or unspoken), raises hands on some musical cue, recites words on cue, and then as the sermon starts they don paying-attention-face and nod head when there’s a planned pause while daydreaming and making a mental shopping list and imagining what’s for lunch.

    then they all leave and no one really remembers what the sermon was about.

    now which denomination would that be?

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  69. brad/futuristguy: I’ve been in SBC churches at least 30 of the last 45 years, participated in 10 SBC-related church plants including on the launch team for 8 and cultural consulting for 1.

    I also worked in multiple departments for Golden Gate Seminary (recently renamed Gateway Seminary) for 11 years total from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s,

    That is a lot of participation in a specific church and ministry environment! Your analysis is rather sophisticated, too.

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  70. Friend: In our infamous youth group, we were all told never to study psychology because it would ruin our faith. I put this folk belief into the same category as “your soul has little doors.”

    Yeah, I don’t think it gets as deep as the history of it. I think it’s as simple as “If you are a REAL Christian, then you won’t have problems because God fixes them for you.” Which is bogus. Individual evangelical Christians have lots of problems. They just don’t like acknowledging them or dealing with them.

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  71. Max,

    “I believe that NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year (with a $60 million annual budget) is more about planting reformed theology than Gospel churches with SBC’s traditional message of whosoever-will-may-come.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    to what degree is this financially motivated?

    like, a franchise. like starbucks trying to put coffee shops on as many streets in the world as possible.

    (i single out starbucks because on a visit to Canterbury, my intrigue with the ancient & ornate Christchurch Gate [1504 is ancient to me, at least] was met with disgust when i looked right and saw that the attached structure was a Starbucks, emblazoned with the exact same big Starbucks sign next to Safeway in my hometown.

    It was such a horrifically BOOOOORING contrast, and disgusting to me that my stupid & invasive American commercial culture follows me everywhere around the globe.)

    so, to me, ‘NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year’ is simply a case of BOOOOOORINGly stupid and invasive SBC commercial culture. a massive attempt to snatch market share for donation dollars.

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  72. ishy: Did you go to the kickoff thing at NAMB? I was there.

    I worked for the SBC from 1995 – 2005 in California and Texas. The NAMB folk and Nehemiah P. came out to San Francisco to see our church planting efforts in 96 or 97 and I got to speak to the NAMB leaders at their big retreat in Georgia where I encouraged them to shift towards organic simple church models with flat leadership. I continued this as a full time consultant with BGCT as part of their church multiplication center where we were planting “emerging” and “postmodern” churches but eventually we came up against the YRR New Calvinist thread who convinced the Baptist leadership that their models would pay back into the system with bigger tithe money and with bigger urban YRR new calvinist style churches with bad boy preachers. We lost. We closed down and the team dispersed to other organizations and projects. There were so many good and healthy models inside the Baptist world at the time but they were enamored with Driscoll and Patrick and their minions. Their loss, in my opinion.

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  73. elastigirl: then they all leave and no one really remembers

    What a devastating takedown. What you are describing does happen in far too many places.

    And yet… people take comfort in ritual. I don’t think the problem is consistent liturgy, but often a lack of skill and care by those who prepare the service, and a lack of interest by those who attend. Worship needs to have substance and integrity on all sides.

    If people don’t want to worship, they should head straight to lunch and avoid the crowds. 😉

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  74. Andrew Jones: I worked for the SBC from 1995 – 2005 … we came up against the YRR New Calvinist thread who convinced the Baptist leadership that their models would pay back into the system with bigger tithe money and with bigger urban YRR new calvinist style churches with bad boy preachers … they were enamored with Driscoll and Patrick and their minions …

    It’s a sad state of affairs when “Baptist leadership” opt for bad boy preachers to bring in “bigger tithe money”! We all know how the Acts 29 alliance worked out for them. Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 founder and President, lost ‘his’ ministry due to various failings … Darrin Patrick, Acts 29 Vice President, resigned due to moral failure … bad boy preachers for sure.
    Unfortunately, “their minions” infested SBC through the church planting program … flesh-baby Driscollites are still alive and well and wrecking havoc in SBC life like bulls in china shops … Matt Chandler is the Acts 29 leader now.

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  75. elastigirl: to what degree is this financially motivated?

    IMHO, I believe NAMB’s YRR church planting program (1,000 new churches per year) is primarily about planting reformed theology rather than a money making scheme (NAMB’s director is Kevin Ezell, Al Mohler’s former pastor … think about it). The church plants in my area are swarming with 20s-40s, but are not swimming in money … mostly college students and young professionals. Perhaps they are getting a foothold in urban America for future dollars, but I wouldn’t say they are contributing much now … just a bunch of young folks enjoying their rebellion against SBC traditional belief and practice (if they even know their church is SBC-affiliated).

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  76. MuffPotter: Friend: My own church in the dying mainline has been around for 200 years.

    Dying mainlines? They’ll be around and thriving long after the mega-biggie-planting-craze has gone the way of the T-Rex (my opinion), because they exist to serve the surrounding communities in a sustainable way.

    And, not for nothing, but my church (of the mainline variety) has very strong fiscal practices. Meanwhile, the church of my youth (which started baptist) ended up losing their building because of funding issues. I suspect some of these non-denoms and many plants will overreach fiscally and fall that way.

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  77. ishy: Individual evangelical Christians have lots of problems. They just don’t like acknowledging them or dealing with them.

    Which is so unhealthy. Maybe this is part of the reason people just act like if they hope problems with various theological ideas (hello comp!) they won’t? It’s all maybe part of the same thing?

    If it isn’t massive gaslighting, that is. (which I think it often is).

    Pretending problems don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. Maybe this is a generalized evangelical issue. I think the comment about ‘some of the originals being atheists’ is more of an excuse than a reason to really discount mental health treatment. We have quite a bit of research on these topics that show things that work, things that don’t. But it’s complex and imperfect. I think people want psychology/psychiatry to be full proof even though we know not to expect this in other physical problems. Treatment of an ailment may have an X% rate and we accept that, while trying to improve. It’s the same in mental health, but it seems harder to accept.

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  78. Friend: And yet… people take comfort in ritual. I don’t think the problem is consistent liturgy, but often a lack of skill and care by those who prepare the service, and a lack of interest by those who attend.

    I take comfort in ritual, but I also enjoy the community aspect. I skipped church for a lot of years, I went back because I wanted to and I’m very happy with that choice.

    As for the sermons, ours are short, but some hit home directly and some are forgettable, as elastagirl said. Some of that has more to do with what’s going on with me. Maybe the ones that were forgettable for me were for someone else? I think that’s a pleasant way of thinking about it. Not everything is for everyone.

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  79. elastigirl: i’m interested in your opinion on to what degree is ‘NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year’ financially motivated?

    Makes sense to me that it’s not so much financial as other things — historical issues, mechanistic multiplication models, SBC “politics” in making Reformed theology more prominent, and keeping the machine going to justify continued spending on church planting programs.

    A few notes about history and current trajectory.

    Andrew Jones shared some important “emerging ministry” backstory to the current craze in church planting. That’s worth a look into for more detail. The more organic approaches to planting took a back seat to the organizational approaches. With them, at least the following features came into prominence:

    * YRR — Young, Restless, and Reformed — more militant Calvinist theologies.

    * Hierarchical structures with tendency toward authoritarian top leaders, demands for unconditional submission by laypeople, church discipline.

    * Connections with Acts 29 and 9 Marks.

    * Avoiding the use of “church” in the name, and avoiding mention of denominational ties in the name, advertising, or website. (This was a more general thing, coming out of the Willow Creek influences and the larger emerging ministry movement.)

    The post linked below gives an overview of the different streams that were all together in the emerging ministry movement.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/timeline-for-young-leaders-network-and-terra-nova-project/

    Meanwhile, one very intriguing note to add about NAMB. To my knowledge, the North American Mission Board has NOT issued any kind of specific statement about sexual abuse. Most of the other official SBC entities have. I’ll be posting a list and links for those on a forthcoming blog about SBC and solutions to abuse.

    But apparently NAMB has some kind of working relationship with MinistrySafe for child abuse prevention resources/training. That is problematic on multiple levels, mainly because MinistrySafe is hired by institutional clients to limit their liability, not to get justice for victims. There is significant documentation about how MinistrySafe … but that’s a story for another day.

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  80. Andrew Jones: I got to speak to the NAMB leaders at their big retreat in Georgia where I encouraged them to shift towards organic simple church models with flat leadership.

    I remember being in a small group at the Pheonix convention (2003?) all seminary class with someone from San Francisco who was active in that movement. Those ideas were kinda new to me even though I had a degree in missions and was studying missions at SEBTS. Of course, in international missions, you often don’t have much of a choice in the size of the church, because of persecution and/or limited resources. But it definitely wasn’t considered an ideal for American churches.

    I was at NAMB when the New Cal turnover started. It was bloody. I got fired for a rather bogus reason, and heard that they only hired women for secretary positions after that. Most of the key traditional Baptist staff was fired and replaced with Southern grads.

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  81. brad/futuristguy: The post linked below gives an overview of the different streams that were all together in the emerging ministry movement.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/timeline-for-young-leaders-network-and-terra-nova-project/

    You bring up something I have been saying for years. The Leadership Network (Bob Buford, Peter Drucker) were instrumental in putting the emerging church (later New Calvinism) on the road in America. Mark Driscoll gives them credit for essentially founding the emergent church (with all its bad side-effects on the American church).

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  82. Lea: Pretending problems don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. Maybe this is a generalized evangelical issue.

    Maybe. Some of the least mentally healthy people I know are evangelicals. There’s a few who I have tried to encourage to get help, and the answer usually isn’t “Only God can help” or “Psychology is bad”, but “We have no problems; Don’t bring this up ever again and don’t tell anyone else.” There’s definitely a culture of denial. I do think a lot of evangelicals are afraid that they are “bad” Christians if they admit to having problems, almost like they are denying God’s existence. I don’t think God’s ever made it a secret that humanity has problems.

    Even my atheist family admits they have problems, whether or not they try to get help with them.

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  83. ishy: I was at NAMB when the New Cal turnover started. It was bloody. I got fired for a rather bogus reason, and heard that they only hired women for secretary positions after that. Most of the key traditional Baptist staff was fired and replaced with Southern grads.

    Further evidence that the New Calvinist movement is militant and aggressive. The Mohlerites are passionate about their cause, but it is a misplaced passion. When it’s all said and done, Mohler’s SBC legacy won’t be as glorious as he thinks it will be. He is destroying a once-great evangelistic denomination to accomplish the new reformation … a brilliant strategist, but deceived … the Gospel message is being replaced by jots and tittles of reformed theology at the expense of souls … his activities are being written in a book in Heaven, to be opened on That Day.

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  84. Max,

    An unfortunate truth. Think about it: Leadership Network’s stated method for who they acknowledged as key Young Leaders and therefore gave more platforms to, were those who seemed to be drawing the most interest/following from among the larger group. Is it any wonder that several of the thusly-designated “spokesmen” (there were no women in the group) turned out to be some of the more toxic celebrities and key influencers in their particular theological stream?

    Their method did not seem to take any thought for screening out men with charisma but who were also narcissistic (and perhaps sociopathic), for the protection of the others involved or for the long-term prevention of toxic people gaining a platform when they should instead be seen as disqualified.

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  85. ishy: Some of the least mentally healthy people I know are evangelicals.

    How could they have sound minds?! Many corners of the American church will drive you crazy after a while! Righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit have been replaced by doing church in the flesh. Instead of refreshing, the organized church is exhausting. Believers with a heart for God can’t survive in it and remain healthy.

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  86. brad/futuristguy: … Leadership Network’s … toxic celebrities and key influencers in their particular theological stream …

    For example: Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren. The Leadership Network taught them how to use gimmicks borrowed from corporate America to grow their churches and movements. Perhaps The Leadership Network is the root of the tree of which has taken the American church off course from the Great Commission … thinking they were doing a good thing.

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  87. elastigirl: (the sermon and the traditional church service format needs to be rethought, in my opinion)

    I agree entirely on this, which is why just getting rid of Mega’s will not solve the base problem. Mega’s are about entertainment and a focus on big numbers. Traditional services of all types have been very effective at creating converts for many centuries, but not disciples. We are not changed by lectures, we are changed by practices which means our lifestyle and values must look like Jesus and not conform to our culture. We must do the things Jesus tells us to, and when we get stuck in some hole unable to make progress in one area of life, we need help and accountability which, again, is not some nice sounding and likely plagiarized lecture. There is way, way, way too much talk and way, way, way too little action.

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  88. brad/futuristguy: Leadership Network’s stated method for who they acknowledged as key Young Leaders and therefore gave more platforms to, were those who seemed to be drawing the most interest/following from among the larger group.

    In the words of Daria’s high-school sister Quinn, they were “OOOOOOOOOO! POP-ULAR!”

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  89. Max: Further evidence that the New Calvinist movement is militant and aggressive. The Mohlerites are passionate about their cause, but it is a misplaced passion.

    “FOR THE REVOLUTION, COMRADES!”

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  90. Lea: I kind of hate these people, tbh. I’m sorry that happened to you. Ugh.

    They’re really shooting themselves in the foot by only allowing SBTS YRR jobs. Just like nepotism, having “right belief” doesn’t make you more qualified. They had a boom for a few years, but I think they are in serious decline now, because their system just doesn’t work in the long term. And some of those fanboys are finding out the promises are empty and those above them are just using them.

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  91. Jerome: As detailed in Founders’ Quiet Revolution manual, they prefer to leech onto existing churches.Think kudzu, tree parasite, or what have you.

    Remember:
    The REAL top of the food chain is The Parasite.

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  92. ishy: Just like nepotism, having “right belief” doesn’t make you more qualified. They had a boom for a few years, but I think they are in serious decline now, because their system just doesn’t work in the long term.

    Like the type example of the USSR, it still took a long time (racking up a LOT of collateral damage) before anyone would admit to it. Like the YRR, their Ideology was Pure and Correct, Perfect in Every Way. Instead, the response was to Double Down: “INCREASE POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS! PURGE ALL DISSIDENTS!”

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  93. elastigirl: how is it convenient? how does it benefit you? (simply curious — i’m not really sure)

    I believe that at least in part this has to do with money. Being a member of the SBC network provides discounts to SBC seminaries, as well as offering retirement packages for pastors. There may be other monetary benefits (kickbacks?) as well.

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  94. Jerome: Remember Timmy Brister?
    He and his mentor Tom Ascol tried launching their own ‘PLNTD’ network about a decade ago.
    It was a dud!

    I bet they got really mad when SBC’s New Calvinist church planting (Acts 29-type) network was successful. The old Calvinists were just too slow and awkward in their attempts to Calvinize the SBC via church plants.

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  95. Max,

    Brad offers a great resource and is worth a read. Its true that LN gave a platform for what was initially “postmodern church” and would later become “emerging church” by 2001, but they were very hands off, allowing the ten (later on 20) representatives (Young Leaders Network) to host conferences and advise churches on ministry to the next generation and what shape those new churches might look like. I was one of those ten, btw. Many of the others in that group of ten were Southern Baptist like me. By the time the YLN had reformed as Terra Nova, and then to some extent as Emergent Village, the connection with them and LN had already been broken. And those original ten were scattered into many different networks but not necessarily EV. I have great admiration for Leadership Network. They supported what they believed to be the best models at the time.

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  96. ishy: some of those fanboys are finding out the promises are empty and those above them are just using them

    If you let someone’s weakness control your strength, they own you. SBC’s New Calvinist elites are not leaders in the purest sense of the word. Leading by manipulation is not a characteristic of true leadership. Mohler “owns” the Mohlerites … puppets in the hands of a great puppeteer … when they wake up to that reality, they feel deceived … in despair and disillusionment, they may never pursue religious things again (that actually could be a good thing, if next time around they seek a relationship with Christ rather than a religion of man).

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  97. ishy: I think it’s as simple as “If you are a REAL Christian, then you won’t have problems because God fixes them for you.” Which is bogus. Individual evangelical Christians have lots of problems. They just don’t like acknowledging them or dealing with them.

    Could it not also be for CYA? Is this not why pastors like Savage are just passed along? They can claim a ‘system’ which does not allow those who have had counseling for such and such a problem, which does not, of course, eliminate those who have the problems but have had no counseling. Which are, of course, the majority.

    It’s easy to say ‘I’ve never received counseling for pornography addiction’, which of course does not mean ‘I have never been addicted to pornography. Semantics is the name of the game.

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  98. Max: For example: Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren. The Leadership Network taught them how to use gimmicks borrowed from corporate America to grow their churches and movements. Perhaps The Leadership Network is the root of the tree of which has taken the American church off course from the Great Commission … thinking they were doing a good thing.

    Driscoll was in our group – Young Leaders Network. We came ten years after the megachurch guys and unlike them, we did not have access to $$ for our church projects. We were also guilty of poking fun at them and distancing ourselves from the megaworld. Rick Warren was kind to us despite the mocking towards that model. While many in that YLN group represented more organic models of church planting and intentional community, probably only Driscoll had his heart set on a huge church and was infatuated with attendance numbers. Although his ability as a winsome speaker and the closeness of his model (with large candles and cool music) to the pastors listening to us made Mars Hill something that could more easily be replicated by existing churches. Driscoll got his funding initially from Spanish River Church and the new Acts 29 network started by the late David Nicholas, funding that was tied to a commitment to 5 point calvinism although David did not share the misogynist new calvinist leanings of the later Acts 29 from which he was eventually ousted. In fact, at the first Acts 29 gathering I attended in Boca in 1998, the lead speaker was a woman. Again, respect to Leadership Network for taking a risk on a stupid young bunch of ragamuffins. The stupid stuff was all our fault and not theirs.

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  99. Andrew Jones: Its true that LN gave a platform for what was initially “postmodern church” and would later become “emerging church” by 2001, but they were very hands off, allowing the ten (later on 20) representatives (Young Leaders Network) to host conferences and advise churches on ministry to the next generation and what shape those new churches might look like.

    But they provided the platform. I respect that LN was trying to do the right thing and that they did not know that the church models being formed under their watch would run amiss. The American church in certain corners has too easily allowed the youth group to run it (e.g., SBC’s current church planting program).

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  100. TS00: Could it not also be for CYA? Is this not why pastors like Savage are just passed along? They can claim a ‘system’ which does not allow those who have had counseling for such and such a problem, which does not, of course, eliminate those who have the problems but have had no counseling. Which are, of course, the majority.

    Most definitely. I’m not sure IMB would have that much of a need for it, because the men who want to make big money and fame generally don’t sign up with IMB. But I’m sure the qualifications were similar for NAMB. And I’m sure that comes into play there.

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  101. Andrew: respect to Leadership Network for taking a risk on a stupid young bunch of ragamuffins. The stupid stuff was all our fault and not theirs.

    Which is not leadership. At some point, LN should have put a leash on the monster … especially after Driscoll got so much interest in his potty-mouth preaching and Driscollites sprang up everywhere … continuing to provide a forum for the exchange of “stupid stuff” has not been a good thing for the American church. Granted, not all that LN has done has been a bad thing … they just missed the target on this endeavor, IMO.

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  102. Andrew: new Acts 29 network started by the late David Nicholas, funding that was tied to a commitment to 5 point calvinism although David did not share the misogynist new calvinist leanings of the later Acts 29 from which he was eventually ousted. In fact, at the first Acts 29 gathering I attended in Boca in 1998, the lead speaker was a woman.

    This history is really fascinating. It seems like Acts 29 was another institution that was “taken over” by force.

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  103. Friend,

    “What a devastating takedown. What you are describing does happen in far too many places.”

    And yet… people take comfort in ritual. I don’t think the problem is consistent liturgy, but often a lack of skill and care by those who prepare the service, and a lack of interest by those who attend. Worship needs to have substance and integrity on all sides.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i’ve been to many, many churches over many years. It’s all kind of like this, across the board. it’s like no one wonders “what is the purpose of this? why do we do it this way? is it even time well-spent?”

    i can see that people take comfort in ritual. I ask myself, what’s the goal? what’s the purpose? how helpful is the ritual towards these ends?

    is it ritual for its own sake?

    religious culture ascribes a huge amount of ‘gravity’ into the concept of church as the locus of God’s activity.

    it simply is not true. God is no more active in an institution than God is in an individual.

    this ‘gravity’ or authority extends to church leaders, if not in the form of special vestments then in the form of special reverence, special treatment, benefit of the doubt, latitude, perks,…. trust. a sort of mystical belief that whatever they say is a form of the voice of God.

    this is simply not true. it is all smoke and mirrors. God is no more active in a pastor than God is in a lay-person.

    and so i wonder, while we take comfort in rituals, to what extent is it all smoke and mirrors? is it worthy of the gravity ascribed to it?

    i wonder…. because i see churches (in general) as being self-serving ritual machines. and it ends there.

    i see churches (in general) sometimes doing a little bit here, a little bit there for humanitarian causes if they have any leftovers. after having satiated itself with ritual and revenue.

    it seems all very wrong to me.

    what’s the big deal about ritual when people in the church’s community are cold, hungry, can’t find work?

    if i’m ever going to go to church again, i want a group of people who make helping meet needs in the surroundng community and world at large the priority — investing in ourselves with rituals come after. as for revenue in the name of God, that’s for others and not for us.

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  104. @Andrew (yo, bro!) and @Max. I have some mixed feelings about Leadership Network.

    Yes, at least they supported what was emerging when it was nearly impossible to get anything by GenX-friendly authors published, there were no speaking tours for younger generation voices, etc. Many significant connections, conversations, and resources came out of the opportunities the Leadership Network provided through Young Leaders Network.

    But I guess what I’m seeing as I process this alongside of issues with the North American Mission Board and church planting — is that a “hands-off” approach can be harmful in the long run, as can be too much hands-on authority/decision-making.

    FWIW, from the spectrum of responsibility I’ve been developing the last 5 years or so, I would say that Leadership Network and NAMB hold some level of **indirect responsibility = COMPLICITY** for not taking proactive steps to prevent abusive leaders from gaining a platform. And NAMB holds a level of **more direct responsibility = CULPABILITY** for platforming/promoting a particular paradigm that continues to demonstrate problems with abuse. There have been some disastrous consequences from all of this, but it is a system of both culpable and complicit parties that has brought this about.

    p.s. For those who didn’t know, Andrew Jones and I have been friends for going on 25 years now. I’ve helped document some of the frontline ministry he and his family spearheaded in the 1990s, we’ve occasionally taught together. Big respect for his commitment to following Christ wherever the Spirit leads, and serving some of the more marginalized people globally. One of my heroes of the faith. Also forever thankful Andrew and Debbie welcomed me as a guy with “a postmodern mind trapped in a Boomer body and having an out-of-generation experience” and not freaking out. 🙂

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  105. brad/futuristguy: Meanwhile, in related issues of terminology, I don’t use the technical psychological terms (like NPD/Narcissistic Personality Disorder) to talk about someone unless they have actually received that diagnosis. It communicates okay to talk about narcissism in general, or particular characteristics and typical tactics in specific, without labeling someone with NPD when they don’t have such diagnosis. It could stave off problems by following those guidelines.

    The real problem with, not just churches, but basically all institutions is with people who have any of the dark triad of personality disorders with selfish ambition looking to get access to whatever power there is to exercise over others in the institutions we have. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_triad

    While it can be too easy to start sticking labels on people, in regards to anyone in any kind of authority over others, we are told to judge their fruit. Jesus and John the Baptist had no problem calling the religious leaders snakes and other such terms. If we are to be like Jesus, then to be so nice as to not label anyone with clear fruit of a Dark Triad P.D. is just plain stupid. It helps no one. There are many in religious institutions with one of the three P.D.s and Jesus told us to beware of them. When anyone in power or among their lieutenants is acting in evil, self-serving ways, they are simply snakes or sons of the Devil. Being too nice is as big a problem as being too harsh when dealing with people. Jesus is the kindness of God. And yet he called the religious leaders with words that were the most insulting of the day. A good translation, I believe and use regularly, is white-washed septic tanks. Our institutions including the SBC have many of them vying for power and Mammon at the top.

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  106. brad/futuristguy: Andrew Jones and I have been friends for going on 25 years now

    Yes, Brad and I have been both culpable and complicit in each others lives in a very good way. 🙂 I think resourcing networks are responsible for locating and spotlighting healthy godly leaders with a model worth noticing and perhaps learning from. But sometimes what happens is the ministry becomes quite strong and independent and no longer needs anything from the network (Willow Creek) and even worse, sometimes latent narcissism or character faults are not detected until later. But you bring up a good point, Sir Bradley, that there comes a time for a network to speak out, retract their support and even warn the wider church about a potentially harmful influence connected to something/someone they once promoted. As for legal culpability when things go pear shaped, this is on a whole new level . . . which brings us back to the theme of this thread.

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  107. Andrew Jones,

    ” LN gave a platform for what was initially “postmodern church” and would later become “emerging church” by 2001, but they were very hands off, allowing the ten (later on 20) representatives (Young Leaders Network) to host conferences and advise churches on ministry to the next generation and what shape those new churches might look like.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    just shooting from the hip, here: it sounds like The Leadership took it upon itself to decide for everyone what church should look like. and that to some extent you were party to it.

    it all reeks of ‘superpac but christian’, and dark money. shadowy entities that pull the strings behind the scenes.

    i’ve observed my former AOG church being swayed in directions that very much go against the denomination’s position papers.

    in my observation, they fell prey to agendas that were woven in secret by entities far removed from the AOG, which infiltrated christian culture at large according to design and plan.

    all of this is a major reason i refuse to go to church. I’ve seen how i’ve been a pawn to a larger agenda behind the scenes.

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  108. Andrew: Ron Wheeler has the skinny on the terrible phone call to David Nicholas who was “stunned” to find out what had just happened. https://ronwheelerjr.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/i-am-not-anonymous-2/

    “The fact that Mark is an incredibly talented leader and charismatic personality, cannot in any way substitute for the simple Biblical requirements of being Christ-like, much less the qualifications of being an Elder. I can make a Biblical case from Titus regarding his being overbearing, quick-tempered, self-controlled, upright, and holy, as well as 1 Timothy regarding being above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, not quarrelsome, and a good reputation with outsiders”

    This sums up nearly every leader in the New Calvinist movement, as far as I can tell.

    And had Acts 29 and other people listened, the huge number of people hurt because of Driscoll would never have happened. Character should never be upended in the church because of charisma.

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  109. elastigirl: Brad, i’m interested in your opinion on to what degree is ‘NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year’ financially motivated?

    This might seem off topic, but let me throw it out there, and perhaps you will see why I believe it applies. We often question why people do what they do. Who planned the ‘Conservative Resurgence’, a.k.a. the ‘Calvinist Resurgence’ and why? Similar questions could be asked about The Gospel Coalition, ACTS29, etc. Is the perpetration and cover up of abuse which is coming to light orchestrated, systemic or random?

    I would suggest that, whatever the individual or group motives are or were, we need to look past them to see the bigger picture. And here’s where you might have to hang tight – could it all be a part of Satan’s plan to deceive us?

    I know most mock and belittle the concept of conspiracy. Yet scripture suggests, IMO, that what is going on in the world we live in are the last gasps of a lost battle. Satan knows he cannot win, but his goal is to do as much damage as he can while he still has the opportunity to flail about. And his preferred targets are the children of God.

    Deception is his only game at this point. And the most magnificent ruse he ever came up with was to use conspiracy theory to inoculate people against his genuine conspiracy to deceive and harm them. Because the only way a conspiracy can ever hope to succeed is to remain undetected.

    So, if you are still with me, the real, ongoing conspiracy of Satan MUST remain unknown in order to be effective. This suggests the possibility that the vast majority of those leading the charge are not even aware of whom or what they are serving. It can even be you and I. And this gets to the point I am trying to make.

    We cannot really know the true motives of anyone, including ourselves and the movers and shakers in the religious world. (The same principles apply to the secular world.) Patterson, Mohler, Driscoll, Chandler, etc. could just as well be sincere, and convinced that their plan will usher in the kingdom of God, as be power-hungry, narcissistic money grubbers. Satan is happy to use either to get the job done, but especially the deceived do-gooder.Because the more they believe in what they are doing, the more trust they will inspire and the more harm they can do.

    Our mistake is to focus on motivations or alleged conspiracies. Such are difficult if not impossible to understand, and if we get the overarching biblical conspiracy behind all of the evil in the world, we don’t really have to figure out its vast infrastructure. If our real concern is for people, and their eternal souls, we must avoid the seduction of being drawn into theories and ideologies. The way the real conspiracy works is for people to be seduced into supporting the conspiracy, by being convinced that it is the right team, God’s work on earth.

    As long as we understand that, and the uselessness of trying to assess the motives of the individual players, we can focus on discerning the fruits of the various entities that arise. This includes the institutional church as a whole, as well as individual churches, organizations, pastors and people. Any of these entities can be false or well-meaning. It doesn’t matter. Both exist. What matters are the end results of their works – their fruit.

    If it becomes clear that a particular institution, church or pastor is toxic or dangerous, we need to recognize, confront and put a stop to the deeds that are doing harm. That, in a nutshell, is what TWW does so well. Even if most don’t believe they are confronting the big C Conspiracy of Satan to sow as much confusion, harm and destruction among God’s people as possible. However you want to view it, the role of people with a heart for God and others is to shine a spotlight upon evil wherever it exists and encourage all to reject it. If that’s wearing a tinfoil hat, so be it.

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  110. Max: LN should have put a leash on the monster

    Oh our stupid stuff was not so harmful. The occasional joke about the intelligence of mega-church attendees and about James Dobson (it wasn’t me who called him a dickhead, btw) which we probably regret. Once I dressed in Bob Hope’s golfing attire and spoke to pastors with a bag of golf clubs next to me. Cant remember why but it kept us all amused. HA HA!!! By the time Driscoll’s misogynist comments emerged publicly and in one of our conferences (2000AD) causing us tell him he could no longer speak that way and be part of our conferences, the group had already left Leadership Network and were no longer associated with them in any way.

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  111. My mother has been in hospice for weeks now and I just got a call from my brother that she is likely in her last few hours before graduation. So I would appreciate prayers for the Jesperson family, rather or not you like me or agree with what I have to say. Thanks to anyone who does. It is appreciated far more than I can effectively communicate.

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  112. ishy,

    Your comment gets at a core issue — not just for the SBC, but for any association, network, franchise system, denomination — the differences between:

    ** A person who is QUALIFIED by gifts, skill level, and spiritual maturity to serve in public roles of influence, teaching, oversight in church/ministry.

    ** Those who are UNqualified at this time in their combination of gifts, experience and skill level, and spiritual maturity, but may be qualified eventually for that role or another.

    ** Those who are DISqualified — likely permanently and regardless of gifts, experience, and skills — for false beliefs and practices, character defects and behavior patterns which inflict great harm on others.

    I could be wrong, but it’s become my observation that any organization which doesn’t have the biblical contours right for what constitutes Christlike roots and fruits for leadership will typically excuse and “restore” DISqualified people as if they were merely UNqualified. Nope.

    They will also be overly lenient on UNqualified people, allowing them to take on roles of public influence far beyond what is appropriate, expecting them to “grow into them.” Nope.

    The organization may also have stringent doctrines about “church discipline,” but these, oddly enough, don’t seem to get applied to leaders with DISqualifying character deficiencies and behaviors.

    These destructive patterns end up being key factors in a religious system that typically fails to intervene well in crisis situations of abuse, and fails to implement processes and structures that promote prevention of abusers gaining access to potential victim pools.

    Potentially relevant to why SBC churches and entities may face lots of lawsuits in the decade to come.

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  113. TS: Could it not also be for CYA? Is this not why pastors like Savage are just passed along?

    I think people like Savage are passed along because nobody thinks it’s a problem that they are taking advantage of the youth group. That’s not CYA, that’s an ethics question.

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  114. elastigirl: i’ve observed my former AOG church being swayed in directions that very much go against the denomination’s position papers.

    The AoG church here is New Calvinist. The pastor posts some atrocious stuff on social media.

    But, of course, New Calvinism was pretty opposed to majority Southern Baptist belief when they decided to take over, despite what they might claim. I don’t think they care about theology half as much as the ability to manipulate leadership structure.

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  115. ishy: Character should never be upended in the church because of charisma.

    When that happens, you basically have tony robins, but pretending to be religious. I honestly wish a lot of these guys would just go and be motivational speakers instead of pretending to be christians and ‘pastors’. [perhaps they don’t because they would fail/it’s too risky, but it feels more honest]

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  116. elastigirl: you now have credit.

    Thanks. Not that I am looking for it. I also share culpability and complicity. I shared the stage with a younger Mark Driscoll and my presence may have been taken for commendation. It was bitter-sweet and also a stain on my record. It also took its toll on my wife who did not like YLN and told me in 1997 that Mark Driscoll was a “future cult leader”. She suggested I not join the group but I did anyway. Later on she also, like you, could no longer attend church. In the last year of her life, we had some marriage problems related to that choice I made – when I spurned her advice and went in a direction she did not approve of. On top of that, the director of Emergent Village de-friended me and I lost many good friends over that. So much loss and damage. But also some good times and helpful advice given to the churches, esp. regarding less hierarchical, less manipulative, more sustainable and more relational models, that I wish had been heeded.

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  117. Lea: [perhaps they don’t because they would fail/it’s too risky, but it feels more honest]

    I think there’s probably more money in gullible Christians, plus they are probably much easier to market to with the right connections and through publishing with Lifeway.

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  118. Andrew: there comes a time for a network to speak out, retract their support and even warn the wider church about a potentially harmful influence connected to something/someone they once promoted

    Which is my primary concern about The Leadership Network. It’s OK to tell the church at large “We messed up on this one.” Acts 29 might consider doing the same.

    Andrew: As for legal culpability …

    … accountability always floats up. Determining where “up” is in the emergent/resurgent world has been difficult. With the wayward history of some of those ministries and their ministers, “up” doesn’t appear to have had a heavenly origin.

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  119. Andrew,

    so, i’m trying to figure out who exactly i’m talking to here.

    it’s true, you said dickhead and i admire you for that.

    i’ve marveled for years at how silent christian leaders in general have been concerning M Driskle. how they they put one principle or another over people. how they are clueless to how their ideas which they casually broadcast with ease land with devastating weight on people at ground zero. how timid they are.

    to what extent could you have spoken out loudly against Mark Driscoll, and spoken again, and did not?

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  120. Andrew,

    ok, somehow i hit enter and sent the comment just above through. after reading your most recent comment, though, i had wanted to hold back.

    i appreciated the honesty & humbleness of your comment.

    but i accidentally hit enter & there it is… the question i’m always whole-heartedly ready to ask of any and all christian leaders who did not use their position of influence to aggressively call out M. Driskle.

    but this morning, i apologize for the bulldozing nature of it.

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  121. elastigirl,

    In above comments, Andrew has already characterized his regrets over inactions. Over the years, I’ve not seen him let himself off the hook for this. In fact, quite the opposite, as he expressed above.

    But let’s not miss the fact that he stepped up and took at least some actions re: Mark Driscoll as far back as 1999. It may not have been as loudly as we — or he, in retrospect — would have liked. But he was in a situation of direct connection with Mark and did/said something at a time when almost everyone else did/said nothing.

    There are some historical statements from him documented and quoted in the case study I produced on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill — also, the overall context of those 1999 events is in this post.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/capstone-2-7-mark-driscolls-culture-of-contempt/

    Here are the texts of those publicly posted comments Andrew made, years after the events in question, giving some perspective. (For source links, see my post.)
    .

    ~ Post by Andrew Jones on his Facebook page (August 8, 2014).

    August 8, 2014

    In a letter sent out today, the American church planting network called Acts 29 suggested that Co-Founder Mark Driscoll step down from ministry and informed him that he, and his Mars Hill Churches, were being removed from the network. The letter outlines a list of complaints including “ungodly and disqualifying behavior”.

    We had a guy like that. Back in the 90’s in the Young Leaders Network.

    We had a guy who consistently offended the church leaders in our audiences, in particular the ladies, with ungodly and disqualifying behaviour. We warned him he could not act like that and be part of our network. Eventually he left. But he was soon picked up by other less discerning networks.

    Hey, wait a minute . . . ITS THE SAME GUY!!

    .

    ~ Comment by Andrew Jones on his Facebook page (January 3, 2015) in a post about the Young Leaders Network “inner circle group” of which both he and Mark Driscoll were a part (January 3, 2015). According to a communication from Andrew, the specific incident he speaks of here (referred to indirectly in the quote above from August 8, 2014) occurred at a Seattle event in 1999. [UPDATE: Andrew corrected the year from 2000 to 1999.]

    after we told driscoll he had to mature his character or leave our group we were quiet we didn’t bring it up for more than a decade and now we are wondering if our lack of public warning made us complicit in his abuse. I don’t think Paul regrets his warning regarding Alexander the coppersmith. “Lest we forget”

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  122. elastigirl: Andrew,

    so, i’m trying to figure out who exactly i’m talking to here.

    Who am I? Another dickhead, obviously, and . . apparently the guy who killed the emerging church. Fact is, I didn’t really but took the fall and became the villain in Phyllis Tickle’s book Emergence Christianity. My side of the story is here https://tallskinnykiwi.com/2014/06/emergent-dust-storm/

    But back to your question about Driscoll and speaking out and also Max’s comment regarding networks detracting and apologizing for legal reasons as well as ethical.

    BTW did we not see this happen a few weeks ago in the charismatic circle regarding Todd Bentley?? A bit late perhaps.

    Re: Mark Driscoll. I did not speak out publicly because 1. I figured the network(s) he was in would soon figure it out but I misjudged how long it would take them. Dammit! Don’t you think those people would spot patriarchy when they saw it??? [DONT ANSWER] 2. He was in a totally different YRR new calvinist world than I and I probably would not have had any sway or cred as a one of those “liberal”emerging church people that they were distancing themselves from. 2. I tried to remain Mark’s friend as long as I could so that I could talk sense to him. There came a point where he stopped answering my emails, I assume because his new circle of friends were all 10,000+ pastors and I was not part of that group.

    Regarding the Emerging Church movement, which I did not kill btw :-), I contacted the foundations that I had raised funds from to support the global emerging church movement (nothing in USA and nothing connected to EV) to warn them that the umbrella term that was covering so many models of organic/house/cafe church planting in so many countries was either being colonized by some myopic North Americans or perhaps was finding a new default description with USA at the helm, which often was not representing the way of doing church or theology that we were seeing in other countries (although much of it was very good) and the term itself was now becoming toxic due to the huge amount of criticism, much of it quite stupid and false. Thus we were not going to use it anymore to save ourselves from the backwash of unwarranted criticism. I also gave a heads up to the various ministries overseas. 6 months went by. But problems with EV escalated, and people were now conflating EV with EC, and so I blogged to the world (or the 5 people reading my blog) that we would no longer be using the term “emerging church”. This added to the dust storm that Phyllis writes about. More info on that link above.

    I was probably more vague than I should have been coming out publicly but at the time there was much more detailed information about the controversies on other blogs and was becoming common knowledge.

    Hope that helps a bit.

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  123. One thing some forget: while SBC churches are autonomous, meaning they can stay or go at will without jumping through hoops like those wanting to leave the UMC, so is the SBC. That is, each local association, state convention and the SBC can set their parameters: do this and we recognize you as an affiliate in good standing, do that and we don’t.

    So when an SBC church hires a woman pastor or a homosexual, both clearly stated in the rules going in that you cannot do that and be part of the SBC, the SBC is free to disassociate with them since it retains its status as autonomous also.

    Think of it this way: you become BFF with a neighbor. Over time the neighbor begins to do things you find reprehensible. You break off the friendship. It is a free world and you certainly have the right to pick your own friends.

    So do individual churches, and so does the SBC.

    You may find some of the rules of the SBC galling. If so, go elsewhere. That simple.

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  124. Andrew,

    I suspected you’d likely respond. I posted what i did kind of preemptively because I’m planning to be out for quite a while, working on a site bringing together reference links and resources specifically about abuse issues in the SBC.

    So, later gator, and looking forward to your post. Censored or not.

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  125. linda: So when an SBC church hires a woman pastor or a homosexual, both clearly stated in the rules going in that you cannot do that and be part of the SBC, the SBC is free to disassociate with them since it retains its status as autonomous also.
    ….
    You may find some of the rules of the SBC galling. If so, go elsewhere. That simple.

    I think what people find galling is that the rules seem to have their priorities flipped as far as who they want to cut out?

    If the question is godly woman pastor or abusive male pastor, which is the SBC most concerned with? I think we all know the answer.

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  126. elastigirl: what’s the big deal about ritual when people in the church’s community are cold, hungry, can’t find work?

    Churches should absolutely solve problems in the community, and support members in times of hardship.

    For me, ritual brings gradual change. I’ll think in a new way about a familiar phrase. Something in a sermon might help me understand an event from childhood. Praying might help me gain detachment from a current problem, or even find an idea to try out.

    This isn’t just about church. I go through a 45-minute ritual in private several times a week. At the end, I feel more at peace and more competent to face the day. But church (…now that I am attending again…) has more varied content than I generate at home.

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  127. elastigirl: i want a group of people who make helping meet needs in the surrounding community and world at large the priority

    So does the Creator of the Universe, particularly if they do so in the precious name of Christ. He reveals Himself to such people. Those who elevate religious ritual to the top of their heap (faith without works) miss God.

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  128. elastigirl: Brad, i’m interested in your opinion on to what degree is ‘NAMB’s current scramble to plant 1,000 new churches per year’ financially motivated?

    This might seem off topic, but let me throw it out there, and perhaps you will see why I believe it applies. We often question why people do what they do. Who planned the ‘Conservative Resurgence’, a.k.a. the ‘Calvinist Resurgence’ and why? Similar questions could be asked about The Gospel Coalition, ACTS29, etc. Is the perpetration and cover up of abuse which is coming to light orchestrated, systemic or random?

    I would suggest that, whatever the individual or group motives are or were, we need to look past them to see the bigger picture. And here’s where you might have to hang tight – could it all be a part of Satan’s plan to deceive us?

    I know most mock and belittle the concept of conspiracy. Yet scripture suggests, IMO, that what is going on in the world we live in are the last gasps of a lost battle. Satan knows he cannot win, but his goal is to do as much damage as he can while he still has the opportunity to flail about. And his preferred targets are the children of God.

    Deception is his only game at this point. And the most magnificent ruse he ever came up with was to use conspiracy theory to inoculate people against his genuine conspiracy to deceive and harm them. Because the only way a conspiracy can ever hope to succeed is to remain undetected.

    So, if you are still with me, the real, ongoing conspiracy of Satan MUST remain unknown in order to be effective. This suggests the possibility that the vast majority of those leading the charge are not even aware of whom or what they are serving. It can even be you and I. And this gets to the point I am trying to make.

    We cannot really know the true motives of anyone, including ourselves and the movers and shakers in the religious world. (The same principles apply to the secular world.) Patterson, Mohler, Driscoll, Chandler, etc. could just as well be sincere, and convinced that their plan will usher in the kingdom of God, as be power-hungry, narcissistic money grubbers. Satan is happy to use either to get the job done, but especially the deceived do-gooder.Because the more they believe in what they are doing, the more trust they will inspire and the more harm they can do.

    Our mistake is to focus on motivations or alleged conspiracies. Such are difficult if not impossible to understand, and if we get the overarching biblical conspiracy behind all of the evil in the world, we don’t really have to figure out its vast infrastructure. If our real concern is for people, and their eternal souls, we must avoid the seduction of being drawn into theories and ideologies. The way the real conspiracy works is for people to be seduced into supporting the conspiracy, by being convinced that it is the right team, God’s work on earth.

    As long as we understand that, and the uselessness of trying to assess the motives of the individual players, we can focus on discerning the fruits of the various entities that arise. This includes the institutional church as a whole, as well as individual churches, organizations, pastors and people. Any of these entities can be false or well-meaning. It doesn’t matter. Both exist. What matters are the end results of their works – their fruit.

    If it becomes clear that a particular institution, church or pastor is toxic or dangerous, we need to recognize, confront and put a stop to the deeds that are doing harm. That, in a nutshell, is what TWW does so well. Even if most don’t believe they are confronting the big C Conspiracy of Satan to sow as much confusion, harm and destruction among God’s people as possible. However you want to view it, the role of people with a heart for God and others is to shine a spotlight upon evil wherever it exists and encourage all to reject it. If that’s wearing a tinfoil hat, so be it.

    Mr. Jesperson,

    Prayers for you and your family. May God strengthen you as you suffer the great loss of a beloved one.

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  129. Jerome: Linda, what exactly is the rule on this? Do you have a source?

    It’s in the Baptist Faith and Message, in the section on the church.

    “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

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  130. yes, and there was a resolution passed years ago, but right on the website it says that neither resolutions nor the Baptist Faith & Message regarding this are binding on Southern Baptist churches:

    Southern Baptist Convention > Frequently Asked Questions > Can Women Be Pastors or Deacons in the SBC?

    http://www.sbc.net/faqs.asp

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  131. brad/futuristguy: I could be wrong, but it’s become my observation that any organization which doesn’t have the biblical contours right for what constitutes Christlike roots and fruits for leadership will typically excuse and “restore” DISqualified people as if they were merely UNqualified. Nope.

    They will also be overly lenient on UNqualified people, allowing them to take on roles of public influence far beyond what is appropriate, expecting them to “grow into them.” Nope.

    According to what I plainly see in the scriptures, I do not think that you are wrong. I fully agree with all of this. Joyner just mailed out a letter today justifying his role with Todd Bentley. He does exactly this that you mention. And he does worse. When bad fruit comes out of one of us thinking we are obeying the leading of the Spirit in our life, instead of repenting, he pulls the “God told me to that! card.” I have made grave mistakes with things I once thought God was leading me to do. I repented. It was not Him telling me to do it. I got confused and I am prone to mistakes. I do not think there is anything worse in my camp than people pulling that card out and using to justify the unjustifiable. It makes God out as culpable for our sin, which He never, ever is…

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  132. Jerome
    Name a church with a female pastor that was allowed to stay in the SBC?

    I don’t believe the section on automony is wholly true, I don’t believe the section on Calvinism is wholly true, so why should I believe that part is true? I’ve seen New Calvinists lie before.

    Nor do I believe it’s all on the state associations or that the resolutions are followed to the spirit or the letter. The SBC has rules and they are stated. Otherwise they wouldn’t have used the BFM to kick out thousands of missionaries over two lines.

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  133. Lea,

    Lea, your paradigm is false. If the SBC wanted the predatory pastors out of the denomination, they would screen better. With the numbers of seminaries out there, the number of qualified male candidates out there should be sufficient. The SBC isn’t the only denomination out there that promote male only pastors.

    I thought the idea was to increase women’s participation in churches to help root out and defend churches from predators and abusers.

    My opinion only, if women as pastors is promoted over the idea of women’s participation to stop predators, using the U.S. military to defend that point, people will stop supporting Dee and her colleagues.

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  134. TS00: And his preferred targets are the children of God.

    Deception is his only game at this point. And the most magnificent ruse he ever came up with was to use conspiracy theory to inoculate people against his genuine conspiracy to deceive and harm them.

    …We cannot really know the true motives of anyone, including ourselves…

    I would gently disagree with these viewpoints. God is far stronger than Satan. It’s not a contest. I refuse to feel singled out for special attack.

    There is nothing magnificent about using a conspiracy to cover up a conspiracy, but I would be genuinely interested in knowing an example of this.

    Most folks have a basic understanding of their own motives, in my view. Again, would you please be so kind as to offer an example? I would like to understand.

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  135. Friend,

    “For me, ritual brings gradual change. I’ll think in a new way about a familiar phrase. Something in a sermon might help me understand an event from childhood. Praying might help me gain detachment from a current problem, or even find an idea to try out.

    This isn’t just about church. I go through a 45-minute ritual in private several times a week. At the end, I feel more at peace and more competent to face the day. But church (…now that I am attending again…) has more varied content than I generate at home.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    thank you, friend, for your very gracious and thoughtful reply.

    i’m sick of christian rituals because they are forced on people in order to make the pastor legit. in order to make the church legit. and i’m sick of doing them, pretending they mean something to me.

    it’s kind of like when i worked in my high school snack bar. i’m still sick of french fries.

    I’ve OD’ed on the christian rituals of communion, baptism, the notion that christian music = worship (it’s unbearable), ….is a sermon a ritual? well, i make no secret of what i think of those.

    i have to say, though…. your comment and Brian’s article about Sasquatch-related ‘rituals’ (yes) have got me thinking.

    it’s casting the word ‘ritual’ in a new light. beyond rituals as something one does simply because it’s the norm. (communion is on the calendar every 1st sunday of the month so we do it. baptism is the expectation so we do it. 3 fast songs and 3 slow songs is the expectation so we do it. worship-face and the n@zi salute is what they’re expecting so we do it.)

    well, no one was expecting sasquatch rituals — and some guy does them because it represents something meaningful to him and he wants to do it. and that totally inspires me!!

    friend, tell me what rituals you do because you want to. because they mean something to you.

    (if prayer is a ritual, that one i do regularly. in my own business-like way.)

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  136. Max,

    brad/futuristguy,

    thank you both for taking the time to share your thoughts, in a very comprehensive way.

    church planting feels like an unwelcome intrusion into one’s community. to me, it feels like it’s entirely about them, and not about the community at all.

    i tend to think money is part of the equation. an investment in the future, when said YRRs are OldRRs, and earned and saved into their coffers.

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  137. ishy: I had mandated grief counseling in secular college after my mother’s passing and apparently even that was unacceptable. Nobody seemed able to explain why the IMB board was so against counseling, though.

    That’s completely bizarre! Grief counseling is a very good idea after a major loss. How could anyone be against that?

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  138. Friend: What is it with the planting? Why don’t they just take exquisite care of the beautiful healthy mature trees?

    My own church in the dying mainline has been around for 200 years. We have enough to do, just to feed our own flock, hold 11 services a week, open our doors to Head Start, AA, etc., run a couple of excellent schools, staff the town shelter, counsel literally anyone who stops by during certain hours, host art and music events, and generally serve as a community asset.

    I’ve always felt like this is what church is really meant to do. Jesus told Peter 3 times “feed my sheep.” It seems like with most churches, once you are ‘in’ no one gives a rip how you are doing anymore, it’s all about ‘those people out there’ that no one has actually met. If we were a truly loving community that took good care of each other, I think people would be more attracted to church than any outreach/marketing campaign can rustle up.

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  139. linda: One thing some forget: while SBC churches are autonomous, meaning they can stay or go at will without jumping through hoops like those wanting to leave the UMC, so is the SBC. That is, each local association, state convention and the SBC can set their parameters: do this and we recognize you as an affiliate in good standing, do that and we don’t.

    So when an SBC church hires a woman pastor or a homosexual, both clearly stated in the rules going in that you cannot do that and be part of the SBC, the SBC is free to disassociate with them since it retains its status as autonomous also.

    Think of it this way: you become BFF with a neighbor. Over time the neighbor begins to do things you find reprehensible. You break off the friendship. It is a free world and you certainly have the right to pick your own friends.

    So do individual churches, and so does the SBC.

    You may find some of the rules of the SBC galling. If so, go elsewhere. That simple.

    Why don’t they simply make a rule against being a sexual predator and back it up with action, then?

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  140. TS00: We often question why people do what they do. Who planned the ‘Conservative Resurgence’, a.k.a. the ‘Calvinist Resurgence’ and why? Similar questions could be asked about The Gospel Coalition, ACTS29, etc. Is the perpetration and cover up of abuse which is coming to light orchestrated, systemic or random?

    It seems like, to me, there are 2 basic roads in life. One is the way of love and the other is the pursuit of gain. We all come to forks in the road of life all the time and have to choose between these 2 ways. Some people never even consider the way of love; the way of gain is the only thing that makes sense to them. Some are seduced into it and lose their way. Some try it, learn, and turn back and start again. Some follow gain wherever it takes them, without question. Name the gain- money, power, appearance, position, numbers, importance; it’s all gain. It’s all stuff. Is it any wonder those who put gain first become kind of similar to each other in outward appearances?

    You might say God’s way is the way of love and Satan’s is the pursuit of gain.

    There’s nothing wrong with gain in and of itself, if a person has an opportunity to gain possessions or whatever- it is when you come to those forks in the road where you must choose between one, or the other, that the die is cast.

    Anyway, that’s kind of how I see things, for what it’s worth.

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  141. linda: SBC churches are autonomous, meaning they can stay or go at will without jumping through hoops like those wanting to leave the UMC

    Are you the same Linda who wrote the following here a few months ago? Please explain:

    linda on Thu Nov 07, 2019 at 11:56 AM said:
    “There are some state conventions who have put reversion clauses into effect. If a church borrows money, say for a building program, from the state convention they may have to sign a paper stating that after this, if the church ceases to be SBC the building reverts to the SBC or state convention or local association. As I understand it, that may be the case even if the congregation has paid the loan in full. So much for autonomy.”

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2019/11/04/will-mcraney-s-attorney-strikes-at-the-achilles-heel-of-the-southern-baptist-convention-the-autonomy-of-local-churches-and-stateassociations/#comment-415533

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  142. Jerome:
    An SBC church with a female pastor?

    Here’s one with five:

    http://highridgechurch.com/staff/pastors/

    http://www.sbc.net/church/2015092284/high-ridge-church

    I stand corrected, though I will point out none of them are “lead” pastors.

    I also want to say that by posting that here, did you ever consider that church might lose their women pastors because someone will pick it up and pressure will start to be applied for them to be removed or the church be removed?

    My point is that there is most definitely “rules”, no matter what the SBC FAQ says. There are a lot of Southern Baptists who treat the BFM as binding, including the IMB who used the new BFM to fire thousands of people. And just because resolutions are passed doesn’t mean that’s how it actually works.

    I don’t think you realize what kind of persecution women actually go through in the SBC, particularly women who want to be in ministry, nor the social pressure that actually exists over keeping women out of ministry.

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  143. elastigirl: friend, tell me what rituals you do because you want to. because they mean something to you.

    (if prayer is a ritual, that one i do regularly. in my own business-like way.)

    It took years for me to develop a routine that worked. While I am exercising, I quietly recite a half-dozen prayers and passages that have meant the most to me. Then I go through a sort of emotional inventory to gauge where I am that day. At the end, I recite a few more prayers.

    The prayers help me focus beyond myself. The inventory helps me gently examine small challenges and bigger difficulties. I slowly memorized much of the content. The routine owes something to the daily examen of Ignatius of Loyola. It also draws on the one-day-at-a-time approach of 12-step programs (which I deeply respect even though I don’t happen to need them). Fun fact, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the Serenity Prayer years before it was discovered by AA:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

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  144. This whole thing about “rules” is exactly what dee’s post is about. Just because churches are supposed to be autonomous doesn’t mean the SBC doesn’t have ways of enforcing the BFM and other social rules. It also doesn’t mean that the state associations have as much power as they are supposed to have. The leaders of the SBC at the top levels has found all sorts of ways to enact what they want, from brainwashing future pastors at the seminary level to supporting Calvinist church takeovers to strict requirements for new church plants to how pastor retirement is handled by Guidestar, to spreading rumors and posting a picture of a state association director at NAMB to get him fired.

    Social rules can be enforced even if they aren’t written down, but the SBC does have male-only pastors listed as a core tenet of being Southern Baptist. Just because something is declared non-binding doesn’t mean it can’t be enforced in a variety of ways.

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  145. elastigirl: i’m sick of doing them, pretending they mean something to me.

    If they don’t mean anything to you, you should absolutely not do them. 100 percent.

    (And, after college dorm food, it took me YEARS before I liked fries much and it put me off dr pepper forever.)

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  146. elastigirl: church planting feels like an unwelcome intrusion into one’s community. to me, it feels like it’s entirely about them, and not about the community at all.

    What has passed as “church planting” in recent decades, perhaps.

    However, if it weren’t for a humble little church plant I stumbled into in the late 1970s, there’s a strong possibility I would not still be following Christ. It turned out to be which was one the two best church experiences of my entire adult life.

    That great experience in connection, discipleship, and community came just after a devastating church split that finally broke out after seething under the surface for 3 years. That toxic process was so traumatizing that I was at a crossroads that either Christianity was a total crock — or something had been terribly wrong in what we’d been taught or how. I’m thankful that a church plant with a spiritual mature pastor was there to help heal those wounds as I kept on following Jesus.

    I wrote about this during my years of involvement in church planting.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/recovery-from-spiritual-abuse-part-2e-mentoring-and-moving-toward-hope/

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  147. Lea: (And, after college dorm food, it took me YEARS before I liked fries much and it put me off dr pepper forever.)

    In Old School D&D days, Dr Pepper (NOT Mountain Dew) was the drink of gamers.
    My old DM even wrote it into the game as a magic potion (Regular DP was an Elixir of Life/Resurrection; Diet DP was the Elixir of Death (no Raise Dead possible).

    And once working the Cal Poly Rose Float, we were set up in Rosemont Pavilion next to the Dr Pepper float and were always sneaking over to cop some hot DP. Discovered that the right amount of lemon would completely neutralize the taste.

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  148. brad/futuristguy: if it weren’t for a humble little church plant I stumbled into in the late 1970s, there’s a strong possibility I would not still be following Christ. It turned out to be which was one the two best church experiences of my entire adult life.

    Wonderful to know, and a handy reminder that new churches can be good, can refresh the spirit and bring something needed to a community.

    I live in a place with every flavor of Christianity. Many folks don’t. But in either case, there can be renewal without a calculated takeover plan, and maybe even without an assertion that everybody else is going to H E double toothpicks.

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  149. HeadlessUnicornGuy: hot DP

    EW!! I was used to drinking a lot of unsweet tea which wasn’t available on campus and the water tasted terrible in that city. I blame this for the ‘freshman15’ in large part (although late night chinese food didn’t help).

    I like fries again but never dr pepper. It just tastes gross to me now.

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  150. ishy: Just because something is declared non-binding doesn’t mean it can’t be enforced in a variety of ways.

    Correct, the SBC purports local church autonomy on this and in fact has yet to itself expel a church for having a female pastor, but exercises pressure in may other ways. The expulsions one hears about are from local and state bodies:

    example:

    http://www.bpnews.net/45692/tenn-assoc-disfellowships-church-with-female-pastor

    “LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. (BP) — A Middle Tennessee Baptist association has voted to withdraw fellowship from a congregation that called a woman as pastor.”

    “Though the SBC has never withdrawn fellowship from a church because it had a female pastor, associations and state conventions have voted to exclude congregations with women pastors.”

    “Messengers to the association’s annual meeting also voted to refer to the association’s executive committee the handling of a reversion clause in Greater Tabernacle’s deed, which states, ‘If [the] congregation ever ceases to be affiliated with either the Lawrence County Association of Baptists, the Tennessee Baptist Convention or the Southern Baptist Convention, the real estate conveyed herein will revert to the Lawrence County Association of Baptists’.”

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  151. elastigirl,

    You are very welcome. Yes its complicated, personal, dangerous, risky, emotionally draining to stand up and put forward an accusation against a person or ministry, esp. for someone with much to lose. It takes time. Prayerfully waiting for the right moment. Collaboration with others behind the scenes. Getting the facts straight and hoping a loose cannon does not throw out a false claim which will disqualify the true ones.

    A worthy example would be the Ortbergs speaking out against Bill Hybels.

    Prob. not the time to discuss it here at the long tail of this post but maybe one day Dee could start a convo and Brad could write a chapter on the mechanics of doing it right.

    “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss? (Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects)

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  152. Yes, same Linda. But there is a difference, and it is a biggie: unless the plan of separation passes this spring, any church wanting to leave the UMC will pay dearly. And no church can ever become UMC without accepting the reversion clause. The SBC has unfortunately in some states tried to do that, but were able to only get a reversion clause on churches borrowing money from the state convention. So while it is impossible to ever be UMC without a reversion clause, it is possible to be SBC without a reversion clause.

    Just do not borrow money from them. Ever.

    To my scanty knowledge I do not believe any state associations demand reversion clauses just for an independent church affiliating with the SBC. (Some would like to do so!) In SBC churches the church holds the deed, period, unless they choose to sign on to a loan with a reversion clause. (Some have tried to make them retroactive I have been told, and it failed.) In the UMC that is not the case. The local church only holds the property in trust for the UMC. Which is another way of saying the UMC owns it.

    Or put it another way: local church decides to affiliate with the SBC in 1940, pre any question of reversion clauses and takes no loans never signing on to a reversion clause. That church decides the SBC has gone calvie and the local church is dispy. They can leave. Basically they can just stop attending all associational and convention meetings, take SBC off the sign, stop sending money, and/or send a letter saying “we gone.”

    Had that same local church decided to become Methodist in 1940, stayed around when the Methodist Church became the UMC, they would have had to accept a reversion clause and now if they think the UMC is progressive and they are a conservative local body, wanting to leave, well adios amigos send the UMC the keys to the building. Unless, that is, the separation plan passes this spring.

    As long as the rules of any group are not retroactive rules, I believe the group can enforce them. I disagree with my Amish neighbors on women’s dress codes and electrical usage but I would never join them and then constantly harp how wrong they are and how I am such a victim. By the same token, since I believe homosexual behavior is a sin I would never join a liberal Episcopal congregation and then set out to convert them to my thinking.

    Women, homosexuals, and other groups feeling shut out in the SBC have the right of free association to just leave. Go elsewhere that agrees with you. And SBC churches have every right to set membership standards and revoke membership of those that violate them. In that sense, so do groups of churches have a right to say what their standards are and disfellowship churches that do not uphold those standards.

    But then I am a stinker that thinks the Boy Scouts of America had every right to not allow girls in, and the Girl Scouts have every right not to let boys in.

    People can and do vote with their feet and find compatible groups.

    So yeah, some leadership in the SBC would like a blanket reversion clause but there isn’t one. There is in the UMC.

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  153. Friend: Most folks have a basic understanding of their own motives, in my view. Again, would you please be so kind as to offer an example? I would like to understand.

    I think you’ll find this belief strand in most brands of Christianity and to varying degrees:

    “Even on my best day, my motives are suspect.
    Suspect for being prompted by self interest…
    And always tainted by, what’s in it for me?”

    There was a time when I believed this without question too.
    That time has also past. I now believe that doing the right thing is its own reward because ‘rightness’ has an independent existence in all humans regardless of faith or no faith.
    It would explain why an elderly couple who are atheists took in a woman and her two little ones from Guatemala and keep them safe from the ICE patrols.

    I think it can also go a long way by negation in explaining why some fundagelicals along our Southern border can be totally OK with putting little kids in cages with no blankets and poor sanitation.

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  154. Andrew,

    Amen to what you’ve stated, Andrew. It is complicated and calls for wisdom to call out malignant leaders and toxic systems.

    In my understanding, part of what it means to do the Jesusy thing as a good neighbor to others is challenging leaders who disqualify themselves from the right to a role of public influence due to character disorders, and unrepented behavior patterns of sin/evil/abuse. If we discern the problem, silence is not an option, and you’ve suggested some great guidelines on how to go about speaking up when an abusive person needs to be called out.

    “He who allows oppression shares the crime”

    ~ Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536

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  155. elastigirl: the one where everyone comes in, sits down, bows head on command, raises head and open eyes on cue, stands on command, sits on command (spoken or unspoken), raises hands on some musical cue, recites words on cue, and then as the sermon starts they don paying-attention-face and nod head when there’s a planned pause while daydreaming and making a mental shopping list and imagining what’s for lunch.

    then they all leave and no one really remembers what the sermon was about.

    now which denomination would that be?

    Now that sounds like everyone I have been to, except you forgot the part where the guy in front of you falls asleep and starts snoring. And someone is going to stand up and claim that this is the church that Jesus is building and that is why He died. So that there can be many lectures with much snoring…

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  156. brad/futuristguy: “He who allows oppression shares the crime”

    ~ Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536

    Erasmus, now there was a multi-dimensional thinker!
    He (my opinion) was in stark contrast to Calvin and Luther who for the most part were one-dimensional zealots (my opinion again).

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  157. Mr. Jesperson,

    “Jesus is building and that is why He died. So that there can be many lectures with much snoring…”
    +++++++++++++++++

    ha — what a thesis statement. that would be mine if it included a little bit more information.

    how are you and your family?

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  158. Andrew,

    “…its complicated, personal, dangerous, risky, emotionally draining to stand up and put forward an accusation against a person or ministry, esp. for someone with much to lose. It takes time. Prayerfully waiting for the right moment. Collaboration with others behind the scenes. Getting the facts straight…”
    +++++++++++++++++

    beyond the time needed to get the facts straight, what else requires time?

    i feel that christians give leaders far too many passes, and tolerate and enable all kinds of truly egregious things.

    case in point: saying “dickhead” in a majority of christian settings will be what provokes a litany of”YOU, SIR, are out of order! may God have mercy on your soul!”

    here’s what will NOT provoke a response: plagiarism, lying, deceiving, manipulating, exploiting financially, misogyny or racial discrimination, abuse of all kinds and covering it up…

    those same christians who get all righteous and uptight at salty language (which is all relative anyway) tolerate and enable things that truly harm others, that are truly criminal.

    i truly don’t see why christians shouldn’t call out their leaders with the same conviction and aggressiveness with which any other influencer and powerful entity in society is called out.

    waiting until the time is right means others will be harmed in the interim. means christians will continue to give silent assent to crimes (against the law of the land, the law of what is good & right & true & honest) for that much longer.

    will dig their credibility whole that much deeper.

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  159. elastigirl: this is simply not true. it is all smoke and mirrors. God is no more active in a pastor than God is in a lay-person.

    and so i wonder, while we take comfort in rituals, to what extent is it all smoke and mirrors? is it worthy of the gravity ascribed to it?

    i wonder…. because i see churches (in general) as being self-serving ritual machines. and it ends there.

    i see churches (in general) sometimes doing a little bit here, a little bit there for humanitarian causes if they have any leftovers. after having satiated itself with ritual and revenue.

    it seems all very wrong to me.

    Now you are sounding like me. I first went to a 501c3 service 49 years ago. Some have very old rituals (RCC), some medium old rituals(Old SBC) and some that the head pastor made up very recently. (Bethel, Redding) The point of all of this appears to me to give people what they want. But that is not what the Lord’s Prayer is all about. So while we repeat a prayer about giving Jesus what He wants, in practice these 501c3’s are all about giving the people what they want. This is not ever what church was designed to be according to the New Testament.

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  160. elastigirl: case in point: saying “dickhead” in a majority of christian settings will be what provokes a litany of”YOU, SIR, are out of order! may God have mercy on your soul!”

    I had a run in a number of years ago with one of the elders in the SBC church I quit a couple years ago. In addition to me telling him he was applying Matt 18 incorrectly, I got a bit animated and used the f-word on him to see what he would do. When he chastized me for my language I got very calm and told him I did it because I wanted to know if he cared more about me or about my language, and his reaction gave me the answer. That conversation did not go well for him. His Matt 18 plan later blew up in his face when the actual facts came out. I never got an apology. We continued to attend the church for another couple of years, but I never recovered my enthusiasm for it.

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  161. elastigirl: God is no more active in a pastor than God is in a lay-person.

    Well, Kevin DeYoung would disagree:
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/what-is-preaching-and-who-does-it/

    There is so much wrong with this short article that I don’t know where to start. Maybe the last sentence?

    God’s voice is heard in the Sunday sermon, which is why we are right to give preaching the central place in our worship services…

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  162. TS00: If it becomes clear that a particular institution, church or pastor is toxic or dangerous, we need to recognize, confront and put a stop to the deeds that are doing harm. That, in a nutshell, is what TWW does so well. Even if most don’t believe they are confronting the big C Conspiracy of Satan to sow as much confusion, harm and destruction among God’s people as possible. However you want to view it, the role of people with a heart for God and others is to shine a spotlight upon evil wherever it exists and encourage all to reject it. If that’s wearing a tinfoil hat, so be it.

    I do certainly see this and believe this. Others here get too distracted by human players and groups, which keep changing generation to generation. Each one has its own that are false. They eventually die off and many things change. Still the evil one behind the scenes is still the biblical God of this World. It is easy to become lost in the trees and miss the whole forest. Yet we are supposed to know the scriptures, believe them and develop a world-view that is compatible with Jesus. We are supposed to have His mind. To ignore the fact that we “do not battle against flesh and blood, but principalities and rulers in heavenly places” is just a foolish way to make a lot of noise, but do little good in the end. There are many around making a lot of noise, but who lack the power that the True Church has, wherever that things is and whatever it is doing today.

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  163. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “God’s voice is heard in the Sunday sermon, which is why we are right to give preaching the central place in our worship services…”
    +++++++++++++++

    God’s voice was heard in your F-word.

    or so i reckon.

    God’s no prude.

    or so i reckon.

    (although Aunt Polly might be! :O

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  164. linda on Thu Nov 07, 2019 at 11:56 AM said:

    “There are some state conventions who have put reversion clauses into effect. If a church borrows money, say for a building program, from the state convention they may have to sign a paper stating that after this, if the church ceases to be SBC the building reverts to the SBC or state convention or local association. As I understand it, that may be the case even if the congregation has paid the loan in full. So much for autonomy.”

    linda on Thu Jan 09, 2020 at 11:57 AM said:

    “do not borrow money from them. Ever.”

    “To my scanty knowledge I do not believe any state associations demand reversion clauses just for an independent church affiliating with the SBC. (Some would like to do so!) In SBC churches the church holds the deed, period, unless they choose to sign on to a loan with a reversion clause. (Some have tried to make them retroactive I have been told, and it failed.) In the UMC that is not the case. The local church only holds the property in trust for the UMC. Which is another way of saying the UMC owns it.”

    Linda, among Southern Baptists it is NOT just loan-related. Even if a congregation has never taken strings-attached-$$$ it may still find itself hamstrung by one of these troubling clauses. Examples…

    Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists counseling churches to revise their constitutions periodically, tells them to add the clause:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20080705193514/http://kncsb.org/legal/Constitution_and_Bylaws.pdf

    “Have you reviewed your church constitution and bylaws recently or in the last few years? It is extremely important that these documents be periodically reviewed (at least every five years)

    “in order to protect the future usage of its property to make sure that such property remains in the hands of Southern Baptists…a reversionary clause should read something like this:

    “Should this property ever cease to be used as an active and cooperating Southern Baptist
    Church in the (name of association to which the church is a member), a non-profit religious
    corporation, or the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, a non-profit religious
    corporation, then and in that event title and interest in this property shall revert to the (name of association to which the church is a member) or its successor in interest.”

    similar Arizona Convention situation discussed here, again they tell all churches to do this:

    https://sbcvoices.com/autonomy-of-the-local-church/

    “Should the Church messengers be denied such recognition and voting privileges by the ASBC…the title to the above described property shall revert to and become vested in the (local Southern Baptist Association’s name), or its successor, to be used for a church or mission in harmony with and affiliated with the ASBC.”

    The convention can kick out a congregation and then take its building on that pretext!

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  165. elastigirl: the notion that christian music = worship (it’s unbearable), ….is a sermon a ritual? well, i make no secret of what i think of those.

    On this one I completely agree with you. And that is a more recent change in my thinking than much of what I say. I am still rethinking what I once took for granted and looking hard at the fruit. I recently realized that the typical worship time in the churches I have gone to represent .3% of my whole week. And yet so much emphasis is put on that and to many of the people I got to know in my part of the church, that is worship. To me the whole idea is absurd. Isn’t what I am doing the other 99.7% of the time more important to God? Do I need music to worship? And I am a musician and I like music very much, but that does not automatically mean that God likes it as much as I do. His ways are very much higher than mine and so are His thoughts.

    If what I do with almost all my time is not worship, then what does He really think of my .3%? It all gets back to centering back to Jesus and what He thinks and wants from me. And no third person can take that responsibility for me. Many of us have wanted to have a third party be our priest for us. This has created the idolatry problem which is the sheeps’ fault. The wolves that we put up on pedestals have no power over us if we do not want nor think we need them. Satan knows this and sends his servants to quench our carnal desire. It takes courage to look yourself in the mirror and go face God with humility and ask Him what He wants from you. We are called to be a nation of Priests. To reject that call is just rebellion and then guess what we get to reap from that?

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  166. History related by Nathan Finn suggests most North Carolina churches will have the clause on the books if they were around in the 1950s. Not loan-related.

    https://sbcvoices.com/resolved-the-case-for-resolutions-by-nathan-finn/#comment-28166

    “State convention leaders…urged all BSCNC churches to amend their bylaws so that, in the event of a…vote to disaffiliate, all the assets would remain with the minority who wished to remain SBC and BSCNC. Most churches complied.”

    One state convention doing the right thing:

    “Approved the request from the Calvary Independent Baptist Church (Mount Airy) to remove the reverter clause from their deed.” (2010 Annual Report of the Baptist Convention Of Maryland/Delaware)

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  167. elastigirl: how are you and your family?

    I am doing alright. My mother is a believer. I have a great deal of faith in the afterlife and I could say more, but it would upset Dee. My mother had not been herself since ’94 and had not spoken a word to me, or most others either, in the last seven years. I am glad that she is done with her suffering. We are the ones still in that, but at least by partaking in sufferings, Christ’s character is being built in us. At least, if we cooperate with the process.

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  168. Relevant to the many current discussions about SBC and systemic abuse, I just went live with my “SBC Abuse Solutions” website. I’ve been contemplating this kind of site for several years, as a centralized place to bring together various writings I’ve done on the SBC, to help people identify, research, and resolve systemic abuse.

    https://sbcabusesolutions.wordpress.com

    Researchers may especially appreciate that I’ve provided details/links for each official SBC entity: nonprofit corporation’s legal name, address, webpage on the SBC site, entity website, EIN (unique Employer Identification Number issued by the IRS to a 501c3 non-profit corporation), ProPublica profile page (which links to required Forms 990s), and any recent official statement(s) regarding sexual abuse issue. Accrediting agencies are included for the six SBC seminaries.

    It seemed only natural to develop my writings about the SBC into a case study site. I’ve participated in SBC churches/ministries for 30 of the last 45 years and have written a lot lately about overlaps between toxic systems and problems in the SBC. The site is about 75% finished. I plan to complete the rest this month.

    I’ve designed it for those who believe that SBC local churches and official entities NEED to change–and that we CAN implement genuine and long-lasting systemic changes. But I’m reminded of the old joke:

    How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Just one, but the lightbulb really has to want to change!

    Same with the SBC — does it, as a wider system, really want to change or not? 2020 looks to be a watershed year for Southern Baptists, as they must decide whether to make significant progress on systemic abuse.

    SBC Abuse Solutions is likely the most detailed case study I’ll ever produce with background info; analysis of system issues; and practical guidelines for processes to evaluate problems, implement change procedures, and follow through with relational and organizational repairs.

    I hope these reference + resource materials help repair damages inflicted during past and present abuse situations in the SBC, and foster stronger intervention into current cases, ministry to survivors, and systemic safeguards for prevention of victimization in the future.

    And with that, now I go hide in my office and keep my nose to the grindstone to work on editing the rest of the material for this SBC site, and then continue with the training materials on how to identify and deal with malignant people and toxic systems.

    I’ll plan on dropping by TWW occasionally to see what’s the happs …

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  169. Brian: My opinion only, if women as pastors is promoted over the idea of women’s participation to stop predators, using the U.S. military to defend that point, people will stop supporting Dee and her colleagues.

    Admittedly I don’t quite grasp this, but let’s narrow it. The US military has had women chaplains for a couple of decades now. That has not stopped the military from carrying out its mission and occasionally fighting crime in the ranks.

    A big organization can do more than one thing at the same time.

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  170. elastigirl: here’s what will NOT provoke a response: plagiarism, lying, deceiving, manipulating, exploiting financially, misogyny or racial discrimination, abuse of all kinds and covering it up…

    those same christians who get all righteous and uptight at salty language (which is all relative anyway) tolerate and enable things that truly harm others, that are truly criminal.

    i truly don’t see why christians shouldn’t call out their leaders with the same conviction and aggressiveness with which any other influencer and powerful entity in society is called out.

    waiting until the time is right means others will be harmed in the interim. means christians will continue to give silent assent to crimes (against the law of the land, the law of what is good & right & true & honest) for that much longer.

    Bingo on all that. We are told not to be a respecter of persons. How many times have celebs gone after the little sheep publicly, in rash premature ways and gotten a bunch of facts wrong? Then they rarely do that against other celebs, unless they are on opposite sides of some heated theological debate. And in that case there can be even more premature judging and false facts that go on. This is what really gets my goat about Rick Joyner and many others included ones that are highlighted here.

    Also, I do not like the slapping on the back and the praises that celebs give each other, and even worse is when they praise themselves. While I appreciate Andrew’s candor and admitting that he did things wrong (we should all do that for we get many things wrong) I cannot accept the praise that he gives himself. If he said that he wanted to do the best he could, but his flesh prevented him from attaining that, I could easily accept that. And that is because the Apostle Paul who is arguably greater than any of us here commenting called himself “the chief of sinners.” This was a true statement. He looked in the mirror and judged himself, as we are ordered to do. This is our condition. We each have a new character given to us by God that wants to do right. And we have an old nature that doesn’t. We are at war with ourselves. The right we should do is to give all credit to God for because it is “Christ that lives in me” that does all those good things. In our flesh we all do wrong. If I were to praise myself, then I would be praising the wrong person. I see very little true humility in leaders anywhere these days. From Dr. Brown who called himself and the others judging Bentley’s case people of exceptional caliber (What a load of rubbish that is!) to the ones Dee keeping blogging about over and over. Our caliber stinks and the more praise we get from people the worst that stench tends to get.

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  171. Ken F (aka Tweed): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/what-is-preaching-and-who-does-it/

    There is so much wrong with this short article that I don’t know where to start. Maybe the last sentence?

    God’s voice is heard in the Sunday sermon, which is why we are right to give preaching the central place in our worship services… (Kevin DeYoung)

    Jesus elevated prayer to the central place in worship when He said “My house will be called a House of Prayer…”; He then went on to describe America’s Christian Industrial Complex “… but you have made it a den of thieves.”

    The world has yet to see what the Church of the Living God could be and do if only the people of God would allow prayer to become more and sermonettes to become less. DeYoung needs to stop scaring folks into believing that every word that proceeds from the mouth of every American pastor is directly from God … there is too much evidence out there to the contrary.

    “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

    Will we?

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  172. elastigirl: i tend to think money is part of the equation. an investment in the future, when said YRRs are OldRRs

    Yes, the New Calvinist movement – particularly its encroachment into SBC life – is all about a generational shift in belief, practice, and future giving units.

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  173. Jerome: “in order to protect the future usage of its property to make sure that such property remains in the hands of Southern Baptists…

    So…bear in mind this is what i heard from ‘around’ because I wasn’t going there at the time this happened…my old church got tossed out of the SBC for theological reasons and the SBC (or somebody) tried to take the building back because it had been originally set up as a plant from a different baptist church (30-40 years before this went down). The SBC/local church was not allowed to take the building back.

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  174. Friend: Admittedly I don’t quite grasp this

    People who were going to support the stopping of predators are going to support that regardless. If you are holding your support for STOPPING CHILD ABUSE contingent on people agreeing with your position on women as pastors you are a terrible person and never cared about children. Full stop.

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  175. Max,
    Max, I have never been much of a praying man. These days most of my praying is done participating in the liturgy (I belong to a liturgical church; it provides structure).

    Also, I have seen prayer used as a cop-out; all too often, “I’ll Pray for You” is Christianese for doing nothing and feeling good and holy about it. Whenever someone says they’ll “pray for me”, I usually insist they back up that prayer with some physical action.

    This action doesn’t have to be big-time; even minor ones will do as long as they’re actually doing something. Like during my one long-term bout with unemployment in the Eighties, some of my RCIA catechism class gave me fruit from their trees and tipped me off to any job openings they heard about. That sort of action, more common decency than spectacularly spiritual.

    When he was hosting talk radio in the Eighties, one of Rich Buhler’s tag lines was “God lives in the Real World”. And a lot of the Over-Spiritual forget that.

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  176. Max: The world has yet to see what the Church of the Living God could be and do if only the people of God would allow prayer to become more and sermonettes to become less.

    Actually, the world did see the power of such a church once. Acts 17 says it turned the world upside down!

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  177. Mr. Jesperson: While I appreciate Andrew’s candor and admitting that he did things wrong (we should all do that for we get many things wrong) I cannot accept the praise that he gives himself

    Thanks for speaking out. I don’t like the word praise used like this. “Appraise” would be a better word – to ascribe an appropriate level of value to what our little team of activists did in speaking out, or in this case the right timing of when we spoke out. It was such a team effort behind the scenes and I think a lot of us would have posted earlier and perhaps prematurely if others in the group had not suggested it was not the right moment. “The time is always right for you” Jesus told his impatient followers, “but My time has not yet come.” But please Mr. Jesperson, would you help me out by finding and quoting when I praised myself because I just scrolled up through the thread and could not find where I might have done that. Thanks

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  178. Max: The world has yet to see what the Church of the Living God could be and do if only the people of God would allow prayer to become more and sermonettes to become less.

    I agree completely with this statement. Prayer is about approaching our God directly. Sermons are about receiving a lecture while being passive. A passive church accomplishes nothing.

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  179. birdoftheair,

    Thanks … I try.

    When one falls out of the tornado and into the calm of the eye, there’s time to regain perspective on the detritus that’s been spinning ’round.

    So I’ve been tryin’ to do right by those in it who are righteous, by putting the system under Klieg lights and providing what surgery tools that I can.

    There are some really solidly good people in the SBC, attempting to do the right thing. However, there are enough bad-faith actors who want to bypass consequences who have corroded the system. 2020 is the fish-or-cut-bait year for the SBC as a system …

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  180. Lea: If you are holding your support for STOPPING CHILD ABUSE contingent on people agreeing with your position on women as pastors you are a terrible person and never cared about children.

    Great summary!

    Folks with opposing views do link the issues.

    One message: “Maybe if you let a bigger variety of people serve as pastors, you’d have fewer problems.”

    One (extreme) reaction: “Abuse is a fiction to force us to ordain women.”

    But I’m telling ya, we need the women clergy we already have, and not just at the church you choose on a Sunday. They are burying our dead at national cemeteries. They are holding patients’ hands in emergency rooms. In a Catholic hospital, I was visited by a female pastor who was even a Baptist (not SBC).

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  181. Take this out of the SBC context. Company A hires someone. Company A “affiliates” with Company B on projects and because of their arrangements Company B has rights to determine certain specific matters about how Company A does business. Legally, that doesn’t make Company B responsible for the actions of Company A’s employees. It’s not complicated at all.

    That said, what’s going on with NAMB’s defense in Will McRaney’s case is going to prove interesting since the defense attorneys are from a big firm and don’t really understand what’s going on within the SBC and just want to win the case. They’ve made arguments that undermine the SBC autonomy issue. Could end up breaking the dam, which will prove unfortunate for the SBC.

    The firm in Virginia handling the case for the victims is a powerhouse plaintiff’s firm and will do a very thorough and good job trying to make their case. The SBC doesn’t have the kind of money the Roman Catholic church has and can’t withstand this ultimately if Courts allow plaintiff’s to cross the barrier. We’ll see.

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  182. Andrew,

    “It was such a team effort behind the scenes and I think a lot of us would have posted earlier and perhaps prematurely if others in the group had not suggested it was not the right moment. “The time is always right for you” Jesus told his impatient followers, “but My time has not yet come.””
    +++++++++++++++++

    i’m having trouble seeing how Jesus’ statement here is applicable as a basis for postponing holding christian leaders accountable.

    i think a ‘theology of accountability’ can’t help but replace common sense with a Mousetrap game of tangled procedural goggledeegook, preventing any accountability from ever actually happening.

    (although it may get one closer to calculating how many angels are, in fact, dancing on the head of a pin)

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  183. elastigirl,

    …ok, i’ll go further.

    i think there are too many theologies. (i mean how many do we really need?)

    people with theology hats make it their job to stare at the text for far too long, and then they stare some more. (trying to come up with their own unique secret sauce to distinguish themselves, so they have something to ‘sell’.)

    their minds go all swirly, and they come up with all these instructions and processes for this, that, and the other category of living life.

    you should see my theology of ladybugs, which draws heavily from Paul.

    (so, sorry, theology hats –ladybugs are taken. but here’s a hot tip: nobody’s done scuba yet!)

    it’s all like a rohrshach test.

    but if (generic) you have a famous name, then you can codify what you saw in the swirls and call it biblical.

    and then you use fear and guilt, create in-groups and out-groups, & hold people hostage to your swirls.

    and finally come the speaking gigs, books to sell, and the eventual publishing contract accessorized with glossy ‘workbooks’ and dvds sold in bulk with a hefty price tag.

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  184. Jerome–thank you! But just because a state convention urges autonomous churches to put in a reversion clause does not mean they have to do so. They can refuse. Of course, the state convention could refuse to recognize them but who cares? They can be independent Baptists or link with another group. But you would be right that churches that agree to reversion clauses are in the position UMC churches are currently. If churches DID cave and put in a reversion clause I have no sympathy if they lose the building, really. They entered into the agreement, now they must honor it.

    Of course that can also be a good thing. Case in point: our last church was in the Wesleyan family, not UMC. Their denom has drank the “woke” koolaid and they want to leave. District Superintendent told them nope, stay and pay your budgets or else we close you down. Currently staying and paying, but evaluating. Building is old, in major need of repair, poorly planned and constructed. Truth is the congregation would unshackle itself from a major hindrance if they mailed in the keys, disbanded, and formed an independent congregation in another building.

    I suspect that sort of thing may be a factor in the UMC being willing to let folks keep their buildings if the plan of separation passes.

    My experience, and I am NOT saying it applies across the board, is that if you have a reversion clause you are pretty much stuck with denom decisions, agree with them or not, and they can up and just decide to close you down. An autonomous church without a reversion clause can do as it sees fit. They can boot you out but not make you stop what you do.

    So if a church does or does not want women preachers, gay preachers, or preachers with beards the autonomous church can do as they please. Put in a reversion clause and they cannot. Of course without the clause whatever denom or group they are part of can part ways with them.

    Fair enough.

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  185. elastigirl: i think there are too many theologies.

    Honestly I see no reason why each individual cannot have their own theology, made up of what they believe individually. That doesn’t mean every theology needs it’s own denomination/system/money. I would favor larger overarching groups with less micromanaging of individual beliefs. [If only we could agree on the important things, this would be simpler…]

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  186. Lea,

    ” I see no reason why each individual cannot have their own theology, made up of what they believe individually. ”
    +++++++++++++++

    okay… i like the sound of that. only because i think to some degree it’s simply acknowledging what it is to be a christian in practice.

    if the God of the universe can be contained in any one box-tied-up-with-a-bow (or any one group’s peculiarly-shaped box), that is cause for great concern.

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  187. elastigirl: i’m having trouble seeing how Jesus’ statement here is applicable as a basis for postponing holding christian leaders accountable.

    No problem. No reason for you to see or accept Jesus going to the Festival at the right time rather than what the disciples thought was appropriate (now) as applicable to going public with a groundbreaking public revelation – although that passage has been helpful for me.

    Thrilled to hear of your desire to act immediately and not postpone at all. We need more activists. YEAH!!!! There is sooooo much corruption. I just read the global missions report for 2019 which states that last year $190 billion was given to international missions but $260 billion was lost through “ecclesiastical crime”. Add to that the thousands and thousands of ecclesiastical abusers who are still getting away with it.

    Where will you start? Will you do it alone or triangulate as a team? What platform will you speak from? Will you take the time to check your sources? Will you publish multiple posts for each leader or send a single shiny silver bullet?

    I wish you well.

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  188. elastigirl: but if (generic) you have a famous name, then you can codify what you saw in the swirls and call it biblical.

    and then you use fear and guilt, create in-groups and out-groups, & hold people hostage to your swirls.

    And, you can spend a lifetime doing that and then one day be tested beyond what you ever imagined and find yourself slapping your hand over your mouth and acknowledging, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You.” So much for all that book learning and parsing of words. No one yet has solved any of the major dilemmas of mankind beyond “trust” “have faith” “believe that God is good.”

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  189. elastigirl,

    i didn’t say that right. i very much like the sound of that. we all have our own ways of understanding God. since we’re talking about something as huge as the creator of the universe, it’s only reasonable to leave people alone to figure it out the best they can.

    seems to me we are in agreement with Jesus Christ himself if we keep the main thing, the main thing: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

    the last part is not hard to understand. the first part, well…

    best left to individuals to sort that out rather than powerful people interpreting it for others and making their interpretation a rule of law of sorts.

    (nothing like a morning with a free agenda…. i’ll pipe down)

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  190. Lea: I hope this was a happy choice/move, Nick.

    Thanks for asking, Lea! The answer is, not entirely. I loved working for the company, and I’ll miss the folk. But the role itself was terrible; I was working on something that was a) urgent but not important, and b) assumed to be unskilled, so that my experience could and should be overruled whenever.

    So, I’ve stepped right back from the struggle to try and get any old work, and I’ve immersed myself in properly mastering full-stack javascript. I hope, however, that this will be a route into something other than software development.

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  191. Andrew,

    Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to respond.

    I want to respond in kind.

    It’s taken me too long already to sort out the following, so i’m just going with it (so i actually respond instead of not responding). And i hope it comes close to what i hope to say.

    While my comments above reflect very honest and considered thoughts, I’m pretty sure they haven’t been entirely fair. and i want to apologize for that. I recognize it’s very easy for me to spout away from anonymity. From my own little world.

    I recognize that nothing is as simple as it might seem. That most things are more complex than assumed.

    I recognize that hindsight is 20/20, but difficult to navigate when in the middle of it all.

    Public figures have put themselves there on purpose. Leaders have put themselves in the position of influencer on purpose. They seek power to influence. They are in a position to use it. The degree to which they have power is the degree to which it is incumbent on them to use it, and use it responsibly.

    To the degree I’m an activist, I simply don’t have the same kind of power. But from around ground zero, this is what I see (and I’m sure I’m repeating myself):

    Leaders tend to favor principle over people. Err will be on the side that favors the principle.

    Leaders tend to favor the powerful person over people. Err will be on the side that favors the leader.

    I think this is because the theater of leader vs. leader, or leader vs. ideology, happens at such a high level the actual human beings at ground zero whose lives are impacted are not really seen.

    Kind of like greek gods operating high up on mt. Olympus. Or politicians making decisions in carpeted meeting rooms.

    Lightning bolts & liaisons, etc., way up on high. Forgetting about the little people below because that’s too much multi-tasking.

    If I were to be in a position of influence with power to wield – if I had been in your shoes – i’m sure things would be more complex than I would imagine from here. And it would probably be much harder to negotiate something that is in keeping with my philosophies (people over principle) than I would imagine.
    ———–

    To sum this up, I think you have a very good heart, are an honorable person, and handled a very difficult situation with diligence & not recklessness. And I recognize that lofty principles (mine or anyone else’s) are not easy to implement.

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  192. Andrew,

    not sure if that’s sarcasm. i know it doesn’t matter what i think, but it’s an attempt on my part to be affirming, and to acknowledge the good.

    even that sounds patronizing…. i’m trying to communicate positively and graciously, here.

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  193. elastigirl,

    “all of this is a major reason i refuse to go to church.”

    In Matthew Jesus himself told us not to go to church, but to pray in our closet, in private, not on the street corner like the hypocrites.

    Which is one of the reasons I don’t go to church.

    I’ve known many real small church preachers who work hard to help the unfortunate, with a tiny bit of resources. Our next door neighbor has his own un-denominational church, and he comes by our house with a truck load of food for folks who have trouble making ends meet.

    I’m good friends with a highly educated woman recently consecrated a Bishop in the Episcopal church, former professor of Epidemiology, Vet Medicine, learned Hebrew and Aramaic and Latin to become a priest. (Wonder how many SBC men preachers know Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew? Close to none I’ll bet!)

    These folk all do great good works.

    But so many of the “mega-church” folks are only interested in the cash-flow, the count of worshipers, their control over the membership… disgusting, despicable habits.

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  194. Max: DeYoung needs to stop scaring folks into believing that every word that proceeds from the mouth of every American pastor is directly from God … there is too much evidence out there to the contrary.

    Not just DeYoung. Here is what Founders posted earlier today:
    https://founders.org/2017/07/19/seven-fundamentals-of-biblical-preaching/

    As amazing as it is to recognize, I have been called by God to serve as His mouthpiece.

    God speaks through me.

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  195. Ken F (aka Tweed): As amazing as it is to recognize, I have been called by God to serve as His mouthpiece.

    God speaks through me. (SBC Founders’ post)

    ““Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them (His disciples) and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.”” (Luke 9:54-55)

    The American pulpit is full of men who “went into the ministry”, rather than being called by God to that sacred office. If God didn’t put them there, what they say springs from their intellect not the Holy Spirit. Be careful little ears what you hear.

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  196. elastigirl: Andrew,

    not sure if that’s sarcasm. i know it doesn’t matter what i think, but it’s an attempt on my part to be affirming, and to acknowledge the good.

    even that sounds patronizing…. i’m trying to communicate positively and graciously, here.

    NOT sarcasm at all. Just me relaxing into the conversation and writing like myself. Thank you for your nice words. Good to chat with you here. I look forward to more in the future. Peace.

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  197. Andrew,

    thanks, Andrew. I hate to hurt others’ valid feelings, to be hurtful,…. however to say it. i’m really having difficulty with words at the moment. i really wanted to make things right with you, to the degree that was warranted.

    and for the record, i’m all for sarcasm if desired. i remember the time i was talking with a pastor at a church that was new to me, & I made a sarcastic remark (that was funny) — the look on his face… it was as if he’d just been punched.

    i had no idea sarcasm was a sin.

    too many land mines in christianland. best to ignore them and the silly explosions.

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  198. elastigirl: i really wanted to make things right with you, to the degree that was warranted.

    Likewise. Although I was not sarcastic at the end, I might have been a little snarky earlier on. I apologize. If you would like more details about my trigger points, and a fuller apology, email me.

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