“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
Todd and I wish to thank a reader who, as usual, sent us good tips on Watermark. I don’t know if he wishes to have his name out there. So, for now, he will remain anonymous.
Watermark Church has been accused of controlling behavior
Watermark Church is purportedly a nondenominational church in Dallas. They have about 11,000 attendees and have invested heavily in expensive buildings in and around the Dallas area. Here is where to find the covenant. It has the usual stuff like submission, gossip, blah, blah, blah. For those of you who have signed this at Watermark, did they tell you that it is a legal document? It is there to protect the church leadership and it does not protect you. If you need assistance in this situation, I can tell you how to remove your name from a covenant.
For those of you who don’t know Watermark Church, Dallas, here is some background. Our good friend, Anna runs the blog No Eden Elsewhere which is referenced in this Wikipedia article. It was her website that drew public attention to the controlling nature of Watermark which has also been recorded in Wikipedia.
I lived in Dallas for 10 years and still have contacts in the area. I was told that one woman was not allowed to take on a new job by her small group. Sadly, she did what she was told.
Todd Wagner’s *I ain’t saying nothing to you pew-sitters while stepping away for a season* talk.
Here is a link to his talk. I cannot embed it. Here is my synopsis of his talk. I am quoting him except for my sarcasm which should be evident.
- He is intentionally powering down to go to war with sin.
- He is discussing *radically dealing with sin.* (He will not be successful for those of you who read your Bible because he hasn’t really specifically confessed any sin.)
- He says he follows Paul with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
- He asks for forgiveness for not being attentive to his own needs. (See how hard he works for you shlubs.)
- He was supposed to slow down but he just sped up.
- He claims he is not burned out or out of energy. In fact, he has more energy due to the challenge of this update.
- The problem is that he is *not full of Jesus.* (Huh? What does that mean in a specific manner?)
- He is not burning out but he is burning up *leadership capital.* (ROFL- Whatever that is.)
- There were numerous expressions of my flesh. (Do tell, Todd. Do tell.)
- It’s called sin. (What sin is he talking about? Leadership capital burnup? Is that even in the Bible?)
- It appears he was saying that he was working so hard he wasn’t hearing from those who couldn’t keep up. (See how hard he works for you.)
- He claims there is no hidden or disqualifying sin. No sexual immorality or financial issues. No physical altercations. No foul language. His wife and kids are doing fine.
- He has not been leading in the usual grace that he shows his friends. (So, he’s usually the most grace-filled man you know.)
- He’s been impatient. (And everyone else is not? Get specific.)
- He was dull to hear the admonishment for the *not so bad* sins.
- He needs a faithful brother around him to speak up.
- That’s it. Nothing more.
- He wasn’t asked to step down and doesn’t need to step down.
- He just needs to step away or step back.
- He has to do the hard work of the heart.. (Let’s define this as opposed to Christianese.My husband’s a cardiologist. Can he be of assistance? )
- Don’t look for a scandal. (Then why is he stepping away?)
- He was overlooking *respectable sin.*
- Pride kills. Pride is the sin. (Ummm-everyone deals with this. So why step down?)
- He claims he doesn’t act prideful since he is not over-impressed with himself. (See, he may have pride but it’s a not-so-bad kind-of pride.)
- He wants to live in a constant state of repentance regarding pride.
- The elders helped him to see his issues.
- He (Todd) is going to *shepherd me.* (Good night! Is this in the Bible? Shepherd me?)
- Forgive him for his inattentiveness to the pew-sitters. (All mega pastors deal with this. You guys are giving units to be controlled.)
- He needs more time to listen and to see. (What, exactly?)
- He agrees with the elders.
- It’s not a paid leave (But it really is, isn’t it?)
- Claims he won’t write books during this time. Keep an eye on this one.
- He says he wants to be there for another 20 years.
- “I love you all and serve you.” (He doesn’t know most of your names.)
- Everyone claps but not enthusiastically. (I was a bit surprised by this.)
Elders now join in…
- The elders repent together every week.
- We make war against our sin.
- We love Todd and his humility.
- Elders really shepherd one another.
- He’ll be around for another 20 years.
- They are bringing back two elders *for this season.*
- We are adding a new elder but it has nothing to do with all of this. This guy is good. Wrote a book…(Watch how this develops.)
- Todd is repentant.
- Do not gossip, assuming the worst, and sowing seeds of discord and division. (So, nothing is wrong and everyone better be quiet or discipline will descend.)
Todd and the elders are *cooking the books.*
Let’s be frank. No one steps down for some innocuous sin. There is no one who does not struggle with pride and other sins. Read Martin Luther. I had a pastor once who talked about *cooking the books* when it comes to sin. I think that is what is happening here. By cooking the books, we delude ourselves that our sins are really better than the sins of others. We’re OK. Nothing to see here.
Think about what he said.
- There is no disqualifying sin.
- He works harder than anyone else at his job.
- His sin is not being attentive to his own needs.
- He used up his leadership capital. What in the world does that mean? Did Jesus talk about this?
- He’s not going on a paid vacation but he really is.
- He is going to shepherd himself??? A scripture verse, please.
He has presented himself as the guy who didn’t really do anything bad. In fact, he loves you all so much that he worked himself to death. The elders don’t want anyone to gossip. There is a good reason for saying this. I believe that something really bad happened and they are not going to tell the church what it is. Also, keep an eye on that new guy they’re bringing on.
Here it is summed up. “Nothing to see here folks.
Do the people of Watermark know that they are a 9 Marks Church? Be forewarned.
Can someone can let me know if 9 Marks material is well known amongst the members? Todd and I have been writing about the inherent problems in 9 Marks churches for years. They use heavy-handed authoritarianism to beat up the unsuspecting members. Have you ever heard of retroactive church discipline? They practice this. You are not allowed to leave the church without their permission. If you do, they punish you. They put you on a discipline list until you do what they ask. And you must join another *acceptable* church immediately or they will add you to the punishment list of you don’t. They will also send letters to the next church.
When you signed the membership covenant, which I call a contract, you have given them permission to go after you. Courts stay out of internal church politics wehile you are still a member. I’m sure you are thinking it’s only applied if you do something really bad. You would be very wrong. Todd Wilhelm, who helps write this blog, was the recipient of such punishment when he was a member of UCC Dubai. (That is a 9 Marks church and the lead pastor is BFFs with Mark Dever.) Todd’s sin? Well, he spoke up against the church selling CJ Mahaney books. When they wouldn’t, he decided to leave the church. He didn’t want to be a member of any church which supported CJ Mahaney. He used to be a member of one of those SGM churches. For those of you who don’t know him, Mahaney is a close personal friend of Mark Dever. Do you know what Mahaney is accused of doing? Here you go.
Since he refused to join a church immediately,(Taking time to investigate new churches is somehow a discipline issue), he was placed on their discipline list. They call it something silly like “Member Care” list. In this group of churches, the pastor is king and the people are to be ruled.
Your pastor and the elders appear to be good buddies with the 9 Marks’ Mark Dever-the lead big cheese. Be forewarned. Read their literature and be careful if you try to leave your church. If you need help to get out or help to understand the legal contract that you signed, let Todd and me know. We can help.
Today I saw a tweet from a guy who said he forgave Pastor Todd. I asked him “For what?” He didn’t answer because there is really nothing to say. He forgave him for something but cannot clearly express what that was for. he muttered something about Todd should be * kinder.* Everyone needs to do that. If that was the case, there would be few megachurch pastors left in the pulpit.
We are planning to discuss the Regeneration program shortly now that it is used for kids. (Seriously?)