Why is Chapel Leadership Not Being Transparent With Members?

So many people I’ve talked to in some of these churches have said “I saw the pastor do that and I should have said something.”

…Church cultures don’t form overnight and they don’t reform overnight.

-Scott McKnight, Toxic Church Cultures | GRACE Live Conversation | Scot McKnight & Boz Tchividjian


On October 1, 2021 The Chapel leadership published two documents, one was the long-awaited “Summary of Findings,” and the second was another “Leadership Update.”

I found both documents to be about what I expected. “The Summary of Findings” could have been called “The Summary of What We Have Previously Revealed” as it broke no new ground. The Board of Trustees, in their Leadership Update of May 22, 2021 stated:

The Board will present the findings to the entire church body, in the spirit of utmost transparency.

Their claim to be transparent rings hollow. In my opinion, the Board of Trustees have been anything but transparent. The format they have put in place for the upcoming membership meetings guarantees them a safe, controlled environment. Questions will be cherry-picked beforehand, allowing them to carefully craft their answers. No provision had been made to field follow-up questions from those in attendance.

In my opinion, the planned public sessions are a continuation of the toxic culture prevalent in The Chapel. Leadership wants you to be well-mannered, mindless giving-units that regularly attend church and pay your tithes, but make no waves and ask no questions.

Below is a prime example of my claim. It was culled directly from the October 1, 2021 Leadership Update.


Submissions are moderated in real time by Chapel employees from multiple campuses. We will use the following guidelines in determining which questions to approve for voting. On Monday morning, we will re- populate any questions submitted in September that align with these standards:

  • Ask questions about the facts of this investigation. We will not approve questions that perpetuate unsubstantiated rumors or gossip, or that make assumptions that have not been clarified.
  • Tone matters. Any submission that is openly derogatory, harsh, or insulting will not be approved. Profanity and offensive language are prohibited.
  • Refrain from making accusations, and do not presume guilt or wrongdoing that hasn’t been publicly clarified. We will not approve questions that accuse staff members, church attendees, or their families of improprieties that do not appear in the Summary of Findings.
  • For the sake of time at the meetings, we can only approve questions that pertain to this specific leadership situation. We will not have sufficient time available to discuss questions pertaining to generalized matters of Chapel history, theology, doctrine, finances, membership, etc.
  • Statements that are not inquisitive, and simply offer a comment or critique, do not necessitate an answer, and therefore will not be approved for voting.
  • Duplicate questions will not be approved. If you have followed all of the above guidelines, and your question still does not get approved, it is likely that someone else has already submitted a question that is too similar to yours.Townhall MeetingsAs a final reminder, we will recap the Summary of Findings and offer additional insight by answering questions we have received through Slido during our series of townhall-style presentations. Choose to attend one of the following meetings, as they will be identical in content and format.

Credible sources have shared information with me that I had hoped I wouldn’t need to write about. I had hoped that with the numerous promises of maximum transparency made by the Board of Trustees they would have revealed this information to members of The Chapel. But after reading the documents of October 1, it has become clear that just as nothing new was revealed in the Summary of Findings, nothing new will be revealed in the upcoming membership meetings.

Over the past several weeks I have seen some hints among Chapel members of what has been revealed to me, so I know word is getting out, but I think it is important that as many members as possible are made aware of what I know.

I have been told that the Green Campus is a very healthy church, both financially and numerically. Tim Armstrong was reportedly jealous of the success Mike Castelli, the lead pastor at the Green Campus was having. Armstrong hatched a plan to “buy out” Mike Castelli. I was not advised how much money was offered to buy out Mike Castelli, but I was told the offer had a “non-compete clause’ wherein Castelli would have to agree to not start another church within 50 miles of the Green Campus. Armstrong’s plan was to remove Castelli and then he would move to the Green Campus, replacing Castelli.

Mike Castelli told Armstrong to go fly a kite. Armstrong then moved to terminate Castelli.

Castelli asked the Board of Trustees for help and informed them of Armstrong’s abuse four weeks before he was fired!

Members should want to know how much money was offered to Castelli, where this money was coming from, and who else besides Armstrong knew about the buy-out offer.

Below is a clip taken from Toxic Church Cultures | GRACE Live Conversation. Listen for this key quote from Scot McKnight – “They (toxic pastors) know that people will trust them, so they take advantage of the trust and as long as they can get by with it, the church seems to be flowing along perfectly.”

 

 

Fortunately for The Chapel, they have in pastor Mike Castelli a man who cannot be manipulated through fear or favoritism. Tim Armstrong finally met his match – a man he was unable to control and stood for righteousness.

 

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, Josh Lough, an assistant pastor at the Akron Campus stated: “Is what is happening to this church an attack from Satan? Yes. Is sin involved? Yes.”

Really? The last we heard from former Senior Pastor Tim Armstrong was from a written communication published in the “Leadership Update” dated July 30, 2021. Here is what Armstrong said, there is no confession of sin, nor do I believe there ever will be.

 

Chapel family,
My family and I are deeply grieved by the present circumstances. We have often said to one another that this may be the most difficult trial of our lives but that we desire above all else to traverse these days with humility, godliness, and honor. My greatest desires are for the unity of the church and staff and therefore agree with the Trustee’s that it would be best for me to resign my position as Senior Pastor of The Chapel. I also realize that you as a church have been facing difficult trials. My last charge to you: Set your heart; Follow the Lord carefully; Follow the leaders and Guard the unity of the church and your relationships with one another. I wish these days to be the best of days at The Chapel in the way you respond and follow those who have charge over your souls. It has been a pleasure for me to serve and lead you over the course of the last seven years. Please know that I will not cease to pray for you in the future.
In Him,
Tim Armstrong

Chapel members, it is left to you to do the right thing.

The Chapel Summary of Findi… by Todd Wilhelm

The Chapel Leadership Updat… by Todd Wilhelm


Comments

Why is Chapel Leadership Not Being Transparent With Members? — 61 Comments

  1. “Questions will be cherry-picked beforehand, allowing them to carefully craft their answers. No provision had been made to field follow-up questions from those in attendance.”

    Certainly! An authoritarian patriarchy must control every jot and tittle. Cherry-picked questions = deceptive answers. The pew has absolutely no say in the matter and will never know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The beat goes on.

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  2. “I have been told that the Green Campus is a very healthy church, both financially and numerically. Tim Armstrong was reportedly jealous of the success Mike Castelli, the lead pastor at the Green Campus was having. Armstrong hatched a plan to “buy out” Mike Castelli” … Castelli told Armstrong to go fly a kite”

    It amazes me how many church leaders don’t know Scripture:

    “For there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed, nor anything private which is not going to be made public. Whatever you may say in the dark will be heard in daylight, and whatever you whisper within four walls will be shouted from the house-tops.” (Luke 12:3 Phillips)

    house-tops = blogosphere

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  3. “Josh Lough, an assistant pastor at the Akron Campus stated: “Is what is happening to this church an attack from Satan? Yes. Is sin involved? Yes.”

    Really?”

    Actually, I would say Pastor Lough is right. Perhaps the attack/sin is not coming from the outside, but from high places within.

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  4. Samuel Conner: It seems odd to respond to the success of a sister congregation by seeking to remove the leadership and prevent them working anywhere nearby.

    Pure and simple jealousy.

    “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30)

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

    Ask yourself … in the Chapel mess, has there been a demonstration of love and kindness … or envy, boasting, and pride? Is there peace in the body or a smell of rot?

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  5. Thank you, Todd. I am an ex-Chapel-attender, and still have my grapevine, but I had heard nothing about the buyout.
    I was sad and discouraged by this entire situation, but now am simply appalled. This may shed light on the depth of Jim Mitchell’s involvement. Even if he “only” enabled Armstrong in this buyout offer, he was complicit. And the trustees???
    Yikes.
    Just as Chapel leaders were counting on things settling down… thank you again for your contribution to letting us seeing behind the curtain.

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  6. I’m beginning to wonder if authoritarianism is ubiquitous in evangelical American churches and if the best way to be a part of a church is to have a certain tolerance and understanding of it. I wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can, and try to resist the lure of “The Inner Ring”. That way, if it all comes crashing down, I’m not so invested in one particular church at the expense of the overall health of the Church.

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  7. Paul K: lure of “The Inner Ring”

    It’s real. I witnessed it several times during my 70+ years of doing church in America … unspiritual, unqualified “elders” pulled alongside “pastor” to get inside the power circle by being yes-men to his every whim. The inner ring relishes being superior to the poor pew peons who have no voice, only pocketbooks. Of course, none of this has anything to do with being followers of Christ, a royal priesthood, heirs to the Kingdom … just a bunch of good ole boys playing a dangerous game of church. If one of you is listening in, repent or else!

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  8. Paul K: I wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can, and try to resist the lure of “The Inner Ring”.

    Ahhh … but the Inner Ring wouldn’t like that … you being Christlike and all … you would threaten them by being loving and kind … they would eventually get in your face … they might even try to “buy you out” … doing church without God is an ugly thing.

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  9. Paul K: I’m beginning to wonder if authoritarianism is ubiquitous in evangelical American churches and if the best way to be a part of a church is to have a certain tolerance and understanding of it. I wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can, and try to resist the lure of “The Inner Ring”.

    Just trying to understand your thought processes… Is there an analogy outside of the church where “a certain tolerance and understanding” of authoritarianism would also be acceptable?

    I think most people recoil from this idea when it comes to government (at least when it’s not one’s own political party 🙂 ).

    In parenting, studies have shown authoritarian parenting styles (as opposed to “authoritative,” here for example: https://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/how-to-choose-the-right-parenting-style-for-your-child/) to have adverse effects on children later in life.

    And I think authoritarian management styles are becoming less popular in the workplace: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/02/14/why-authoritarian-leadership-simply-doesnt-work-anymore/?sh=5db0976b6dad

    Maybe I’m operating with a different definition of “authoritarian.” Just curious what your thoughts are.

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  10. translating the Greek “hupotasso” as SUBmit fuels an authoritarian hierarchy, especially those already prone to being controlling… we are witnessing the bad fruit of that misleading translation… “COoperate” is a better understanding of “hupotasso” in a non military context, and “cooperate” makes much more sense with the 50+ “one another” commands in the NT, and the rest of God’s principles!

    here’s support for “cooperate”…
    https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/hupotasso.html

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  11. Paul K: I’m beginning to wonder if authoritarianism is ubiquitous in evangelical American churches and if the best way to be a part of a church is to have a certain tolerance and understanding of it. I wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can

    This was my approach over a span of decades. I think it’s a useful approach from the perspective of avoiding personal entanglement with the pathologies of church leadership. And it can accomplish concrete goods in terms of kindness and mercy shown at a small scale.

    But it has a downside, in that it can function as a kind of lubricant that takes the edge off the sharp corners and helps to prop up (by making the environment more tolerable for the “man in the pew”) what may be a fundamentally toxic church culture.

    It might simply have the effect of delaying the inevitable and helping to prolong the duration of a system that inflicts harms on people.

    My current sense is that if things seem “off”, it may be best to simply walk away. I’ve read that good-hearted idealists imagine that they can change toxic systems and toxic people. In practice, they usually can’t. And it might be that the process of gaining the power that would be required to change things from within would have unintended negative consequences for the person or people who are trying to effect beneficial change. A wise old minister told me that there is a real risk of “becoming what you hate.”

    —-

    Perhaps the way to think about this is that in religion as it many other things, people often don’t learn wisdom from books or even from observation of others’ mistakes; they only learn by experiencing the consequences of their own folly. Toxic churches may not be correctable; they may have to fail in order for space to be created for the people to try something different.

    It’s a bit disheartening that we don’t learn much form those who preceded us. We have to relearn through trial and error in every generation. Perhaps we don’t live long enough to both grow in wisdom and find a way of conveying that wisdom to those who come after.

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  12. Samuel Conner: The thought occurs that “the adversary” tried, in a sense, to “buy out” Jesus during his wilderness temptations.

    Later, however, there was the buyout of another fellow for 30 silver pieces. That buyout did not end well for that guy.

    Even later, a group refused to be bought but became tentmakers and such to fill in the income gaps.

    Buyouts happen. Then and now. Contrast those who refuse to be bought.

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  13. Wild Honey,

    I think we’re working with the same definition.

    Everyone’s comments here have really got me thinking. As I’ve thought a little more about this, I think my last comment may be a bit of an overreaction from involvement in too many churches with high levels of “authoritarian control”. In my life, I’ve only been involved in churches with one unaccountable leader at the top and (for the last seven years before I left) an elder-rule church that had only two elders for the last 2-3 years. This last church was a 9Marks church, and looking through Steven Hassan’s BITE model, it definitely checked some of the boxes, especially regarding thought and information control. It was also a Calvinist church. To me, Calvinism, if you think about it too much, is super weird – I don’t know how a person concludes God is loving while also adhering to Calvinism. There’s so many problems with it. So…in order for a large group of people to go along with it, there’s got to be a certain amount of thought control IMO. But, I accept my Calvinist brothers and sisters as Christians all the same.

    The church I’m considering attending now has some similarities in structure. It’s governed by an elder board (but elders are approved by congregational vote and have term limits). But those differences (voting and term limits) are kind of BIG differences. Sure, in both cases (my former church and this new church) the elder board is going to be a bit of an “Inner Ring”, but in one case there’s a couple safety measures in place. Also, this new church is “Staff-Led, Elder-Protected”, so the elder board oversees the lead pastor who oversees his staff. There’s a division between elders and staff even though elders do staff-like things. It’s a structure that has some real accountability in place.

    I think I’m just really jaded and suspicious because of my past church experiences.

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  14. One more thing…

    My last church had different “membership” and “teaching” doctrinal statements. The membership statement was boilerplate evangelical – no mention of Calvinism or young-earth creationism. However, the teaching statement was cribbed from MacArthur’s GCC. This set up a weird dichotomy where a person could be a member but fall into this kind of purgatory if they didn’t adhere to the teaching statement. IMO, having two statements and only teaching one in the membership class was deceptive. I’m not saying the elders were being purposefully deceptive – I think they were trying to be inclusive. But doing so prevented me from understanding where the church really stood on many issues. This is information control as defined in the BITE model.

    This really made me suspicious of bifurcated standards for members and clergy.

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  15. Paul K: It’s a structure that has some real accountability in place.

    May I inquire: is there a supracongregational authority, such as a presbytery of elders of related churches, who collectively exert accountability over the elders of the local congregation?

    Autonomous independent churches can have “safe-looking” internal governance structures but, because they are autonomous, can readily go astray without any option for corrective measures. Such groups are generally one by-laws change away from transformation into something that could be toxic.

    If this is an independent congregation, perhaps closely read the by-laws and determine how difficult or easy it is to change them.

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  16. Samuel Conner,

    I just received the bylaws yesterday, and have read through them.

    A 2/3 majority vote from the elders can amend the bylaws (that would be 4/5 current elders). The only exception is any amendment to Article 8 which has to do with the purchase of property. Changing that requires congregational vote.

    To reiterate, the lead pastor (the guy who stands up on stage and dazzles the crowd) is not an elder or a voting member of the elder board. So, he can’t go in and change the bylaws.

    This is an independent church in the Christian Church tradition.

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  17. Paul K: wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can, and try to resist the lure of “The Inner Ring”. That way, if it all comes crashing down, I’m not so invested in one particular church at the expense of the overall health of the Church.

    We left a church due to its dysfunctional decision-making. Because we had tried and tried to help, we were exhausted by the time we quietly left. The search for a new church was draining. Most congregations had a way of handling newcomers, and we started to feel alien at the second place we visited. Finally we went to a church where they just greeted us in a normal, recognizable way. The place has had ups and downs, but it’s quite healthy. The pastors listen to me. Things change and improve.

    A lot of people leave a tradition/denomination but don’t look at another one, because they have been taught and taught that everybody else is wrong. Fortunately, I grew up in a family that straddled two denominations, so I felt comfortable exploring the Kingdom.

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  18. Why is the highest popular submitted question regarding authority? Not authority of God, but the percepted non submission to the authority of a dictator…. They are trained well… As for Josh Lough, I had personal spiritual abuse experiences with him that made me “laugh” at his sin quote…. They are playing the control and quiet the congregation game. Promising transparency but never providing it until people give up or leave…. I left a couple years ago.

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  19. Ken F (aka Tweed): It’s worth a try. But authoritarian systems tend to identify people who don’t play their game and they make it untentable for all but the obedient.

    George Orwell brings this to the surface in his novel 1984 via the character Parsons.
    Though he (Parsons) appears on the outside to be a devout party member, he gets turned in to the thought police by his own daughter for muttering against the system in his sleep.

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  20. If TA had plans to take over Green, it was because he destroyed Akron. His plans were ruined when he saw the Green congregation fight for MC. If he would have succeeded, he would have destroyed Green also, I have no doubt. Whereas the Akron campus is protesting because of wrongly taught authority issues, Green fought to keep the pastor they respected and loved.

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  21. Muff Potter: George Orwell brings this to the surface in his novel 1984 via the character Parsons.
    Though he (Parsons) appears on the outside to be a devout party member, he gets turned in to the thought police by his own daughter for muttering against the system in his sleep.

    And during my time in-country (in a Shepherding Fellowship), The Kingdom of God and Heaven (where we would be Raptured to any minute now) was shown to be a Cosmic version of 1984 Oceania. (“He Shall Rule With a Rod of Iron! And His Kingdom Shall Have No End!”) For years afterwards, I could not hear “Praise the LORD!” without hearing it as “LONG LIVE BIG BROTHER!”

    James Dobson once sais “Christians must spend their time training for the jobs God will give us in the Millenium and for all Eternity.” And a lot of Christians are trying out for the Inner Party Thought Police.

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  22. Connie Gould:
    If TA had plans to take over Green, it was because he destroyed Akron.His plans were ruined when he saw the Green congregation fight for MC. If he would have succeeded, he would have destroyed Green also, I have no doubt. Whereas the Akron campus is protesting because of wrongly taught authority issues, Green fought to keep the pastor they respected and loved.

    Thanks for your comments, Connie. Sorry you had to experience firsthand the “charms” of TA.

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  23. Muff Potter: Dobson’s version of the Millenium would be as brutal as any dictatorship the earth has seen.

    And Christians rejoice at the thought because THEY WILL BE the Author Self-Inserts in Left Behind: Volume 13, the Thought Police holding the whip of God’s Never-Ending Room 101 over the mortals. Here’s Nyssa the Hobbit’s review:
    https://nyssashobbithole.com/main/book-reviews/kingdom-come/

    How Delicious it must be to be the anointed weapons of a God of Wrath.
    SMITE! SMITE! SMITE!

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  24. Paul K: The church I’m considering attending now has some similarities in structure. It’s governed by an elder board (but elders are approved by congregational vote and have term limits). But those differences (voting and term limits) are kind of BIG differences. Sure, in both cases (my former church and this new church) the elder board is going to be a bit of an “Inner Ring”, but in one case there’s a couple safety measures in place. Also, this new church is “Staff-Led, Elder-Protected”, so the elder board oversees the lead pastor who oversees his staff. There’s a division between elders and staff even though elders do staff-like things. It’s a structure that has some real accountability in place.

    I think I’m just really jaded and suspicious because of my past church experiences.

    Thank you, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response.

    And I empathize with the “jaded” feeling. My husband and I are actively looking for a new church because of similar experiences. It is a slog.

    The church we just left had a set-up that sounds similar to the board of elders you describe, with voting by the congregation and term limits. We were actually there for two separate periods. The first time, it was relatively healthy, but not without it’s problems. We returned after having been burned elsewhere, because we trusted leadership and needed to be somewhere “safe.” The senior pastor retired right before we returned, and one of the associate pastors left just a few months after. The remaining associate pastor (who we didn’t know as well as the others) became the new senior. He quickly took the church in a 9Marx direction. Our last Sunday there, he publicly excommunicated a man who’d already left the church (without saying his name, it was all very awkward). When my husband expressed serious concerns to the board about something else, only one elder responded, along the lines of, “I see the problem, too, but don’t know what I can do about it.”

    FAIL.

    Anyway, in this governance model the senior pastor was ALSO a member of the board, unlike what you describe. If I may offer a piece of advice, based on our experience at this church, check the names of the elder board against people on staff. In our situation, one elder was married to the senior pastor’s secretary, and another to the children’s ministry director. This is a conflict of interest that was literally not allowed to happen at my former workplace, but is somehow acceptable in a church.

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  25. Headless Unicorn Guy: And Christians rejoice at the thought because THEY WILL BE the Author Self-Inserts in Left Behind: Volume 13, the Thought Police holding the whip of God’s Never-Ending Room 101 over the mortals. Here’s Nyssa the Hobbit’s review:

    LaHaye and Jenkins long to be whip holders, not whipees.

    Nyssa The Hobbit,

    One of the first things I’m gonna do in that future place, is find a way to fold space (ala Frank and Brian Herbert), build a ship, and skedaddle as far away from the Millenium rulers as I can get.

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  26. Cynthia W.: Headless Unicorn Guy: Christians must spend their time training for the jobs God will give us …

    Dishes and laundry, check.

    LOL. It looks like The Chapel has it all–authoritarianism mixed with patriarchy (referred to as “complementarianism”)

    https://thechapel.blob.core.windows.net/media/g0okrmmu/thechapel_complementarianism.pdf
    “Further, Scripture affirms that God has given the role of headship in the home and elder in the church to men and the role of helper in the home and non-elder roles in the church to women in the church.”

    Maybe Green campus is healthier–but perhaps not “healthy”. Not until The Chapel recognizes these toxic systemic mixes. And, change the elder male-dominated leadership hierarchy, as unfortunately prevalent in most evangelical churches (a carry-over from the business world? Until . . .). A collaborative or cooperative leadership structure (re: Scott McKnight) is a healthy (and Biblical) dynamic– more prevalent in churches with Council or Vestry leadership rather than “elder rule.”

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  27. DebWill: “Further, Scripture affirms that God has given the role of headship in the home and elder in the church to men and the role of helper in the home and non-elder roles in the church to women in the church.”

    The Great Chain of Being.
    Boots stamping on faces, all the way down.
    Ordained by GAWD under Penalty of Eternal Hell.

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  28. Nyssa The Hobbit:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    So that’s how I got a hit from this post.lol

    Hiya Fuzzy-Feet.
    Wanna join the party over here, too?

    I think you can confirm my claims about LB Vol 13 (of 22).

    Oh, and Too-Jewish-Name-to-be-Jewish’s stilted pronouncement when the Righteous lower the boom on Egypt? HE’S TRYING TO TALK BIBLICAL. HE’S TRYING TO SOUND JUST LIKE THE KING JIMMY. Same phrasing, same constructions, same idioms, same tropes.

    I remember LB13’s shtick of everyone in the Millenium and Heaven speaking only Hebrew from a lot of Seventies radio preachers’ private revelations of Heaven. So it was a known idea, widespread in the Fundy community.

    LB13 adds the angle that Heavenly Hebrew is actually Kynge Jaymes Englyshe, or at least uses all the tropes and grammar of that completely-UNRELATED language. (Hebrew is Semitic Language Family; English is Inco-European.) Thought that DOES cover all the bases with the KJV Only types who hold the Language of Bible and Heaven IS Kynge Jaymes Englyshe.

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  29. Wild Honey: check the names of the elder board against people on staff

    It’s not what you know (spiritually), but who you know. In many churches, family connections get you a seat of honor … whether you are in the family of God or not. There are churches in America which have been controlled by prominent families for decades – whether they are elder-ruled or congregational governance. You can figure that out pretty quickly when you are testing the water on a new church … just keep your ears and eyes open.

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  30. Cynthia W.: Dishes, laundry, and child-care! Where do I sign up for this super-fun Eternity?

    You will find the “beauty of complementarity” waiting for you at the nearest New Calvinist church. It’s the one where the men go in first to high-five “Pastor”, with women and children walking humbly behind them … all carrying ESV Bibles.

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  31. Come and listen to a story ’bout a preacher named Jed.
    Poor rural parson barely kept his family fed.
    Then one day he went to Pastor’s School,
    And when he returned, he was a Fundy tool.
    (Gimmicks, that is. Proof texts. Lotsa rules.)

    Well the next thing you know, the Mega Church looks great,
    Buses everywhere throughout the Tri-State,
    New Basement Bible College and Academy,
    With just one man to rule so there is no anarchy.
    (Dictatorship that is. Pastoral Authority. IFB heroes.)

    Well, now its time to say goodbye to Jed and all his ilk.
    Now that he is doing time his wife’s no more in silk.
    You’re all invited to stop in on Thursday about noon
    To commiserate with the former Fundy church tycoon.
    (The Elm Street Embezzler. That’s what they call him now.

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  32. Paul K: the best way to be a part of a church is to have a certain tolerance and understanding of it. I wonder if I can just hang out in the background, form relationships, love people as best I can, and try to resist the lure of “The Inner Ring”.

    Good luck with that MO.

    The sermonizing, i.e. mind control, on Sunday from pulpit to pew, just might take effect.

    Participant, beware. Garden of Eden example, with, “Doesn’t God really mean ….?” mind/word twisters.

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  33. Pastor Burden’s church decided being transparent was in the best interests of the community, but he understands why some churches are more reluctant. There’s a sense, he says, that churches are singled out for blame in ways that other institutions or businesses aren’t. “So I’m very sympathetic to the way that a lot of other churches are trying to wrestle with this. It’s not an easy thing,” the pastor says.

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