Chapel Hill Bible Church and the GRACE Report:When the Priesthood of the Believers Became the Priesthood of the Priests

Give thanks: pexels

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. Erma Bombeck


Program note: I plan to take Friday off to celebrate my birthday, which is on Sunday, as well as to recuperate from three days of shopping and cooking. Also, I have to figure out something that Jeffrey Chalmers has suggested.


I am terribly sad about the continued problems at Chapel Hill Bible Church. This church was once one of the more intellectually challenging and spiritually satisfying churches that meant so much to me. Some of my thoughts on various Biblical issues were formed in that dynamic and culturally diverse fellowship. I was interviewed yesterday by a journalist who was able to elicit some of my feelings on what I consider the decline of the church. But, I left when I saw what I believe to be authoritarian and theologically rigidness (warrior Calvinist stuff) change a lovely church into a confusing morass of heavy-handed pastor-centric rule. In my opinion, it was no longer the priesthood of the believer but the priesthood of the priest. I miss that early church and am grateful for that early ministry to my soul.

“At the end of this post is the “entire summary of the GRACE report. More on that shortly.

The priesthood of the priests.

GRACE appears to have seen some things that I saw and experienced. These were things that contributed to my leave-taking.

GRACE was made aware that CHBC has experienced numerous changes in the past ten years. One type of change described to GRACE was a shift away from grassroots and congregant-led ministries toward ministries that are staff-led, which meet criteria determined by staff. The timing of these changes seemed to coincide with when the lead pastor and the executive pastor started their pastorates, as stated by one respondent. As GRACE said, “GRACE is not attempting to assess whether the changes are good or bad themselves. Rather, GRACE is assessing the transparency of leadership during the transitions and how that impacted church culture and the trustworthiness of the leaders.” Discovery, the Chinese Ministry, and the Sonlight Choir were listed as examples. Participants who had been hurt by these transitions, as well as other leaders, were quoted in the report:

• A Discovery ministry leader described to GRACE that messaging regarding the designation of the ministry in the presence of elders “left the leadership of the ministry feeling confused and uncertain about the ministry’s future.”
• Leaders of the Chinese ministry described to GRACE how they felt CHBC “stopped supporting the ministry.”
• A Sonlight leader recalled an email describing reducing support to the choir. “…it will still get some money to help you out but we’re not going to help you out anymore. We’re not going to make copies. You are not going to have an admin that you can talk to. You guys are on your own.”

In GRACE’s analysis of the handling of these lay-led ministries, they noted there are often legitimate reasons for bringing change to ministry. As GRACE stated: “the common thread[s] GRACE heard in these accounts and others [were] reasons not clearly communicated, leadership not honoring and listening to those who were deeply invested in these ministries, the timing of communication, mixed messages, poor follow through, and other related dynamics [that impaired] trustworthiness and transparency. The way in which changes were handled, and a lack of transparency regarding those changes, contributed to distrust.”

A couple of days ago, I saw this ridiculous tweet.

Dane appears to be upset that people leave the church (maybe even his church.) He insulted the intelligence of thoughtful Christians. I left an increasingly mean, autocratic church and found an incredibly loving church where I have served joyfully for years. No, Dane, it wasn’t about me. It was about them. Sorry if things are tough on your end.

I wrote seven posts about the mess at CHBC. I was approached by a surprising number of folks, some of whom didn’t know that others were contacting me. I wrote those posts to support them. One elder told me I was “attacking the church of Jesus Christ.” I told him I was helping the church of Jesus Christ. What he meant was that I was attacking the priesthood of the priests. Sadly I have been shown no particular kindness from these supposed “priests” who seem to find it hard to, in all humility,” reach out and try to understand why I cared so much for the 85+ people who signed a petition about problems in the church.

Only a summary of the Grace Report, written by the elders, is available.

Only the “priests” can see the full report in a locked room guarded by a “warg.” In other words, don’t even attempt to see it. I have been told that a deacon resigned from the church, saying something to the effect that the summary written by the elders does not tell the whole story.

The leadership at CHBC demonstrates that they know better than GRACE.

Perhaps the more amusing part of this summary is that the elders wrote, under recommendations at A5, that the whole report should be given to the congregation. The priests said, “No.” This response is a recommendation by GRACE experts with experience in these circumstances. The leadership of this church appears to demonstrate that they know better. No surprise to me.  This spells further trouble for the church. In my opinion, this was a dumb move that may come back to bite them In the noes.

Lead Pastor Jay Thomas often participated in hurtful, insulting humor.

As GRACE noted, “In the scope, GRACE was asked to assess CHBC’s care for those who are hurting, whether the source of pain was at CHBC or elsewhere. A main way CHBC can care for those who are hurting is through pastoral care. If done well, pastoral care is an effective way CHBC can offer peer support.” In general, caring for others requires making the other party feel safe in the relationship, particularly when they have experienced recent trauma or past trauma. Caring certainly should not cause additional harm.

GRACE reported that they “heard multiple accounts from individuals who recalled witnessing or being the recipient of insults and name-calling by leadership.” Some instances of this type of communication occurred within hearing distance of congregants.

• One congregant recalled the lead pastor and some leaders speaking poorly of other staff who weren’t present and said, “the degree of harshness that I saw, it wasn’t biblical, it wasn’t loving, there was no grace shown.”
• A former staff member described experiences he had with the lead pastor “in which jokes and humor went too far to the point where the individual felt personally attacked.”
• “Another former staff member recalled an instance when she heard two pastors making fun of another staff person in that staff person’s absence immediately after a staff meeting in which the staff person had shared a certain theological view.”
GRACE noted that “much of this communication was couched in humor and innuendo. The communication left witnesses and recipients feeling confused and humiliated. Indirect, veiled, and subtle put-downs couched as jokes are sometimes used by others because it affords the communicator the ability to deny any ill intent or argue they are being misrepresented or misunderstood if others take offense. The communicator might say at that point, “It was just a joke!” They may also minimize any harm caused by the communication.” They go on to state that ‘the descriptions of uncaring and hurtful insults, name-calling, and jokes shared with GRACE reveal that this form of hurtful communication has been experienced by staff members as early as 2012 and as recent as 2022, revealing a pattern of communication over time that has not been adequately addressed and reformed.” The person most often mentioned related to this form of speech was the Lead Pastor. GRACE noted that this type of communication used by those with more power toward those who held less power can be particularly hurtful.

“A follower, such as a staff member, should not have to be put in a position where they are unsure of whether their leader is crossing boundaries, uncertain as to what their leader really thinks of them, and uncomfortable with the denigration of others in their absence. Followers should not have to be put in a position where they have to decide whether or not to say something about the appropriateness of their leader’s communication.

Name-calling, jokes, and insults fail to live up to the biblical standards of speech that ought to edify and build up. Paul told the believers at Ephesus to not let any unwholesome talk come out of their mouths, but only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Caring communication is wholesome and promotes the well-being of others. When pastoral care involves the awareness of and concern for the needs of those under the church’s care, thenpastoral communication will be focused on that which promotes the building up of the body in accordance with the needs of the body. Additionally, edifying pastoral communication will serve the good of the whole group – those who listen will also benefit. The descriptions of the communication in this section describe a kind of speech that fails to meet these biblical standards, standards that apply not only to pastors but to all believers.”

I will never be part of a church where the lead pastor is insulting and unkind.

The above paragraphs were a seriously disappointing revelation to me. I never found Jay particularly outgoing or people-centered. My husband once told him that he needed to try to smile more. He did not take the suggestion. In my current church, the pastors are other-centered and are known for their kindness and concern for others. I have never heard one unkind or insulting thing said by them.

To find that Jay Thomas (the elders prefer not to use names, but the only Lead pastor is Jay Thomas.) I am shocked that the elders allowed things to go on like this. With this in mind, I would not recommend anyone attend CHBC unless the pastor leaves or has spent some time in personality reconstruction. Seriously, CHBC, Your lead pastor insults others?

GRACE wants CHBC to forgo NDAS and release all those who had NDAS.

Today I listened to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 14, The Tempest. As Mars Hill began to implode, people became concerned about the apparent automatic NDA applied to all the staff who left. If they didn’t sign the NDA, they would not get severance. Many in the church found this practice wrong. Why would a church want to keep former employees quiet? Isn’t a church supposed to be transparent?

GRACE concluded “[t]hese agreements had the effect of silencing former employees and isolating them upon departure. In effect, these agreements were not transparent and gave the perception that CHBC was taking a posture of protecting the institution through use of these agreements.

…GRACE is particularly concerned about the use of limiting agreements in cases in which there is a power differential. They also warn that the use of such agreements “raise concerns when dealing with situations of sexual misconduct and may have the impact of silencing a victim. Failing to disclose abuse may also have the effect of covering up abusers and their misconduct,” though it should be noted that no instances of sexual misconduct were alleged by any of the witnesses surveyed or interviewed by GRACE.

I spoke with an elder who said, “All churches and businesses use them.” I asked if this meant it was OK. There is no place for the church to use these tactics. It leads me to believe that the church fears its underbelly will be exposed. And more and more, there appears to be much to be told.

CHBC is a strongly complementarian church, and women often feel sidelined.

This is no surprise in a church that has radically changed its theological base to espousing hard-core Calvinism. Grace said;

GRACE concluded, “How CHBC has lived out its stated values has at times been inconsistent with and undermine[d] the values CHBC claims to espouse. While the formation of the advisory committee and a stated apology are good first steps, CHBC must decide which values regarding women in ministry it will follow, and how those values will become part of the very DNA of CHBC.”

Racial issues

CHBC has a long history of ministering to various cultures and races. Sadly, therre has been a decline in the Chinese ministry and concerns from African Americans. Supposedly, the church is aware of this and plans to do more. I hope they can regain what appears to be lost. I’m skeptical.

GRACE noted in their report that the lead pastor addressed his failure to lead well around the topic of race in a 2021 Congregational Meeting where he said, “I have allowed for lack of clarity and tussles over social theory to cloud our Biblical desires and actions. I am sorry. …..I want to grow in my leadership in bringing Biblical truth, clarity, and action to this very important fruit of the gospel.”

The need for a sincere service of lament to acknowledge the harm caused by CHBC.

I hope that the “priests” consider this recommendation from GRACE. So many times, leaders have couched their apologies with caveats. Do the leaders have the wherewithal to do this? I can only hope.

GRACE recommends that CHBC host a service of lament related to the harm addressed by this assessment.A service of lament can be an opportunity for prayer, for acknowledging harm caused by CHBC, seeking wisdom going forward, for honoring those who have been hurt by CHBC, and for acknowledging a shared priority of the church as a whole to do better in the future.

There is so much I haven’t covered, but I leave the elders’ abbreviated summary for you to consider. I would love it if others pulled out some things that jumped out at them. It’s a long one.

Finally:

RELEASE THE ENTIRE REPORT OR FOREVER HAVE PEOPLE SUSPICIOUS, WONDERING WHAT IS BEING HIDDEN.

A deacon supposedly quit, saying the summary is a problem—what a surprise.

summary_grace_report


Comments

Chapel Hill Bible Church and the GRACE Report:When the Priesthood of the Believers Became the Priesthood of the Priests — 100 Comments

  1. “When the Priesthood of the Believers Became the Priesthood of the Priests”

    Sounds about right and says it all.

    Jesus was the final priest, closing the chapter on Levitical priests while ushering in the priesthood of all believers: all believers who follow Jesus, are indwelt and gifted by God’s Holy Spirit, and identified as the Elect, God’s Remnant.

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  2. Twitter is a lousy place for thoughtful reflection. I wouldn’t be too hard on Ortlund. There might be some truth in what he’s saying, depending on *why* you leave, and he should have been careful about how he stated it. But his “Gentle and Lowly” is such a breath of fresh air, so life-giving to the oppressed, that I think Ortlund is one of the good guys who just committed an ill-advised tweet.

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  3. The New Calvinists have diminished long-standing Baptist doctrines of “soul competency” and “priesthood of the believer.” They will never accept Bible truth that each believer is a priest because it brings down the wall between the pulpit and pew and strips power from them to rule and reign. Humble servant leadership is not in their toolkit … they prefer rigid dogma and hierarchy over the congregation working together as the Body of Christ in the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

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  4. dee,

    I’ll defer to you on that. I had a Twitter account for about a month, and it was raising my blood pressure so much that I quit.

    But seriously, if you haven’t read Gentle and Lowly yet, it’s worth everyone’s time. It helped me to see the compassion of Jesus at a time in my life when I was starting to separate from a lot of the oppressive teaching I had sat under.

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  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Wartburgers!

    I’m the chef tomorrow for the family gathering. Please pray for those who eat the dishes I prepare 🙂

    Remember, believer, YOU are a priest and part of a royal priesthood … you have access to God through Christ, the true high priest – you don’t need a priestly mediator … and for that, we should all be thankful.

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  6. Gentle and Lowly is a wonderful book, one I would unhesitatingly recommend to all readers, especially those who have suffered abuse in any setting as well as in the church setting. That being said, I found the tweet unwise on his part and wished better from him.

    49 years a Christian, 7 years in leadership at the elder level, and experience in digging in and serving–and being buried lead me to this conclusion. When church leadership will not engage you in conversation that is honest, respectful, and loving in a context of humility, and conversation requires deep, engaged listening, it is time to leave and seek another church body with which to engage.

    Thankful for all of the Wartburg family!

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  7. Ted: I don’t know Ortlund, so I have the luxury of saying that that tweet is the definition of spiritual abuse.

    Many New Calvinists gloss over what they and other Calvinists actually believe. Dane Ortlund is a huge fan of Jonathan Edwards, and he writes glowingly about him. Yet Edwards had a very cruel view of God, and his description of the Trinity seems very unorthodox to me. Maybe Ortlund should write a book about this work by Edwards and explain how it is a such a good thing for the saved to find so much joy in watching the eternal BBQ of the unsaved, even of their own children.
    https://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/contemplated.htm

    Edwards wrote many beautiful works, but he also wrote a good number like this one. And his followers imitate him. This kind of duplicity is what keeps people in the pews who would otherwise run away.

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  8. Max, how true: Humble servant leadership is not in their toolkit … they prefer rigid dogma and hierarchy over the congregation working together as the Body of Christ in the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

    Many pastors talk a good story, but their actions say otherwise. Furthermore, is this authoritarian, downright nasty type of leadership more common in more larger, upscale churches? Where being a pastor is a role or a platform for personal aggrandizement?

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  9. Old Timer: is this authoritarian, downright nasty type of leadership more common in more larger, upscale churches?

    In New Calvinism, it is widespread … from small church plants to mega-mania. While the elite (like Dever) influence authoritarian, disciplinary, non-empathetic leadership across the spectrum of NeoCal churches, there is still a remnant of bad-boy Driscoll behavior in the mix. The whole thing is just a mess.

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  10. I haven’t finished reading the original post, but I read a typo Dee made and started to laugh (no insult intended to you, Dee)….

    From the OP:

    Perhaps the more amusing part of this summary is that the elders wrote, under recommendations at A5, that the whole report should be given to the congregation. The priests said, “No.” This response is a recommendation by GRACE experts with experience in these circumstances. The leadership of this church appears to demonstrate that they know better. No surprise to me. This spells further trouble for the church. In my opinion, this was a dumb move that may come back to bite them In the noes.

    (Bold done by me.)

    Dee unintentionally typed “noes” instead of “nose”, but she might have spoken the truth. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  11. Ted: R: I think Ortlund is one of the good guys who just committed an ill-advised tweet.

    You are very generous. I don’t know Ortlund, so I have the luxury of saying that that tweet is the definition of spiritual abuse.

    I agree that the tweet is textbook abuse. As to Ortland, himself, I don’t know enough. In my opinion, he is parroting/paraphrasing and old saying that has the appearance of wisdom, but is not universal in it’s wisdom. It is very possible for someone to go from church to church looking for the perfect church and fail to recognize what they are contributing to the problems they see. But it is also possible for the church to be the problem and the best thing the parishioner can do is get out. If the leaders of the church are power hungry and laying heavy burdens on those they teach, that is the sin of the leaders, not the pew sitters. Bible is very clear about that.

    What I don’t like about that saying is the idea that whenever something is wrong between two parties it is ALWAYS both parties fault. (though one could argue that in this case, Ortland is saying that perceived problems with your church are always your problem rather than the churches problem, which has a who slew of implications for someone who chooses to leave a Church that Ortland considers to be in doctrinal error, but I digress). That is an extremely unbiblical idea that has infiltrated the church. It is possible to be sinned against and refrain from sinning against your perpetrator. That is what a huge portion of Christ’s teaching was about – how to handle the oppression of the Romans without sinning against them. Paul told us that if we could get away from oppression (slavery), do it. But if you cannot, tolerate it without sinning against the oppressor. There is nothing wrong with leaving a church because they are oppressing their congregants. Quotes like Ray Ortland’s make it sound like there is, and it is never the Leadership’s fault.

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  12. I spoke with an elder who said, “All churches and businesses use them.” I asked if this meant it was OK.

    “BUT EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!”
    (Which is also the near-exact pickup line a same-sex predator tried on me years ago in an attempt to get into my pants. It didn’t work.)

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  13. ION:

    Joy-Anna was the only Duggar sister to attend older brother Josh Duggar’s trial. Some speculate that she was there to find out what really happened to her when she was so young, at the hands of her perverted pedo-predator older brother. (The Duggar parents protect their pedo-predator son, so the violations flourished in their own home with their own daughters being violated by their oldest son.)

    One commenter noted, “It’s interesting she is the one sister attending, considering I think she was left in the dark more than others, due to her age and the extent of her abuse compared to the older girls. She’s been lied to her whole life. Good for her for finding out the truth without giving her parents the ability to gaslight her even more.”

    “Another lamented, ‘Can you imagine knowing that Josh has been around your daughter, and then hearing what he did to you as a kid that you don’t quite remember? That would make me want to throw up.'”

    Link: https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/entertainment-celebrity/one-sad-moment-from-josh-duggars-trial-says-so-much-about-the-familys-past/ar-AA14xmo8?li=BBnbfcL

    NOTE: Those who don’t report are accessories.

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  14. Mr. Jesperson: And the lawsuits just keep rolling.

    Good.

    Those who witness tell their stories but may wait decades for attorneys to represent them, for LE to take crimes seriously, for the DOJ to hear their cases, and for society to care.

    Annie Farmer says this about her cases against Epstein and Maxwell. Farmer first told her story decades ago.

    First nobody listens. Then no one believes. Then no one cares. Finally, no one acts or takes action. Etc. Decades. Until people who are willing to do the right thing show up.

    There’s an example of someone who actually listened, believed, cared, and took action: created a blog to bring light. Dee here at TWW.

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  15. Dee’s post says, “GRACE reported that they “heard *multiple* accounts from individuals who recalled witnessing or being the recipient of insults and name-calling by leadership.” Some instances of this type of communication occurred within hearing distance of congregants.
    • One congregant recalled the *lead pastor and some leaders* speaking poorly of other staff who weren’t present and said, “the degree of harshness that I saw, it wasn’t biblical, it wasn’t loving, there was no grace shown.”
    • A former staff member described experiences he had with the lead pastor “in which jokes and humor went too far to the point where the individual felt personally attacked.”
    • “Another former staff member recalled an instance when she heard two pastors making fun of another staff person in that staff person’s absence immediately after a staff meeting in which the staff person had shared a certain theological view.”
    GRACE noted that “much of this communication was couched in humor and innuendo. The communication left witnesses and recipients feeling confused and humiliated. Indirect, veiled, and *subtle put-downs couched as jokes are sometimes used by others because it affords the communicator the ability to deny any ill intent or argue they are being misrepresented or misunderstood if others take offense. The communicator might say at that point, “It was just a joke!” They may also minimize any harm caused by the communication.” *
    They go on to state that [These words indicate that those at CHBC who are summarizing cut something out of what GRACE was saying here. What did they cut out? ]
    ‘the descriptions of uncaring and hurtful insults, name-calling, and jokes shared with GRACE reveal that this form of hurtful communication has been experienced by staff members as early as 2012 and as recent as 2022, revealing a pattern of communication over time that has not been adequately addressed and reformed.” The person most often mentioned related to this form of speech was the Lead Pastor.”

    We don’t know everything GRACE said because this is only CHBC’s summary and their words are mixed in with direct quotes from GRACE.

    One thing that is clear is that GRACE said this pattern of sin has gone on for 10 years!

    People in leadership have known about it for the majority of that time. GRACE even reports that other leaders participate in it. When this sinful behavior has been brought to the attention of those who are charged with providing accountability for the lead pastor , have they just accepted his explanation of “I was only joking” ? Saying it was just a joke provides “plausible deniability.” But why did they keep falling for that? Maybe it has just been easiest for them to accept that explanation?

    (I think Headless Unicorn Guy is the one who first introduced the concept of “plausible deniability” to this blog in the comments section. It has been very helpful IRL. Thank you HUG)

    The Chapel Hill Bible Church places a very strong emphasis on studying Scripture. So elders would surely be familiar with verses like these where Jesus says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and *the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.*” Luke 6. Or Proverbs where it specifically mentions men who use “ joking” as a cover-up. “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” 26: 18-19

    Given the leaders’ devotion to Scripture, it is hard to understand their failure to take more decisive action. Perhaps they admonished him initially. But then when the behavior continued for 10 years, why didn’t they change their approach? How much longer will they let him slither out of dealing with the heart issues by allowing him to apologize only for his sense of humor? It is hard to understand that they don’t see that their approach has not protected their flock. They know that Scripture says they will have to give an account.

    I’ve been trying to figure out why other church leaders would participate in mocking other people. What comes to mind are experiences from middle school where the dynamics of bullying, mocking, and humiliation are so common.
    When the male bully and his posse or the “mean girl” and her court mock a targeted person, it serves to create a bond of the group members with the bully . It also strengthens the sense of being in the “in” group. It can feel really good to be on the top of the hierarchy in the “inner circle.” But a group culture of mocking others also contains an implicit threat. Members of the inner circle know that if they ever get on the wrong side of the bully ,they too will be cast out of the inner circle and mocked. The fastest way to get on the wrong side of a bully is to stand up to him. So even those with a pang of conscience will participate in mocking others to protect themselves. At least that is what happens in middle school. Are these the same temptations faced by men who are leaders in a church?

    Questions:
    1.Suppose you know a man who has a similar verbal pattern of behavior as the lead pastor described in the GRACE report. And suppose that man was put before your congregation as a candidate for elder or deacon. Would you vote for him? Why (under what conditions) or why not?
    2.Based on the summary provided by GRACE, who else do you think is culpable and needs to repent? What would biblical repentance look like for them?

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  16. Muff Potter: Let’s face it, most of those kinds of people have no conscience.
    Really, they don’t.

    I actually think they do, or did. I knew some of them and they were good people. That is the scary part. It is like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. It seems that a person’s conscience is not seared all at once or by one major act. It seems to get seared little by little, small choice by small choice, until one day, I guess you no longer feel that twinge. Or you feel it but talk yourself out of it. People seem to be pretty good at justifying their actions. Maybe they have a nagging feeling a choice seems wrong, but everyone else is going along. So they do too.

    I keep hope for them, but am realistic.

    I am not talking about the wolves. I am talking about those who get drawn into the “in” group. Adults can be groomed, too. Sexual predators groom parents, not just their child victims. How many times have we read about a coach who is accused of sexual abuse and a whole bunch of the parents will defend him because he’s such a nice guy and so great with the kids and he’s eaten dinner in their homes. And it can take a lot of evidence to pierce all that grooming. Grooming doesn’t have to be connected with sexual abuse. It happens with any abuse of power. People who are grooming are good at maintaining a double life. They show their good side to people they are cultivating. So those people don’t believe the reports of those who’ve seen the predatory side.

    https://twitter.com/ToddGwennap/status/1594759967218745363?s=20&t=XAlR_UrJn1KeD2Yy1r4DyA
    and
    https://twitter.com/profsamperry/status/1595380783661080577?s=20&t=XAlR_UrJn1KeD2Yy1r4DyA

    A wolf won’t last long if he’s not good at grooming. And he’s going to be better at grooming than people are at noticing that they are being groomed.

    I think we should all keep in mind how easy it is to deceive ourselves.

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  17. from the report summary: “the elder charge: feeding, leading, protecting, caring.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    good grief, i’ve never needed any of these things. (at least not since i was a young child)

    i posit that no responsible adult does. what are we, 4 years old?

    the pastor industry creates jobs & their consumer market by conditioning people to believe they need these things.

    and then once the conditioning has taken, people become more docile & passive, sort of helplessly believing they are dependent on the pastors.

    a nanny state, so to speak. run by grown men (many of whom behave like 12 year-olds) who pretend to know how to do these things that are simply not their job to do in the first place.

    it’s all artificial. as artificial as grocery stores manipulating their customers into thinking they’re getting a good deal by inflating their prices and then lowering them as some great sale price.
    .
    .
    your faith and spirituality belong to you. ownership and responsibility are yours, to make informed decisions on what, why, when, and how. and to reserve the right to say, “no, i don’t think so.”

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  18. Eyewitness,

    That is a great comment. It is so true. I know I have been deceived in my life and the older I get, the more I’m aware of it. The hard part for most of us is believing we can’t be deceived. When we are we make excuses-“He couldn’t have molested those kids because I would have known. ” It’s called cognitive dissonance.

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  19. elastigirl: i posit that no responsible adult does. what are we, 4 years old?

    Isn’t keeping your offspring perpetual infants (so you can be their Mommie Dearest FOREVER) something PATHOLOGICAL?

    and then once the conditioning has taken, people become more docile & passive, sort of helplessly believing they are dependent on the pastors.

    In the words of the Prophet Pink Floyd:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaQFtSd0ByM

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  20. Muff Potter: Let’s face it, most of those kinds of people have no conscience.
    Really, they don’t.

    I grew up with a younger brother like that.
    A Manipulating Sociopath with a perfectly-fitted Angel of Light mask.
    (What do you think that Rabbi from Tarsus was talking about?)
    A conscience just gets in the way of What I Want.

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  21. Headless Unicorn Guy: I grew up with a younger brother like that.
    A Manipulating Sociopath with a perfectly-fitted Angel of Light mask.
    (What do you think that Rabbi from Tarsus was talking about?)
    A conscience just gets in the way of What I Want.

    I thought I remembered that. I thanked you in an earlier post for introducing the concept of “plausible deniability” to these boards. Extremely useful for seeing past the sleight of hand.

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  22. Eyewitness: Questions:
    1.Suppose you know a man who has a similar verbal pattern of behavior as the lead pastor described in the GRACE report. And suppose that man was put before your congregation as a candidate for elder or deacon. Would you vote for him? Why (under what conditions) or why not?
    2.Based on the summary provided by GRACE, who else do you think is culpable and needs to repent? What would biblical repentance look like for them?

    I asked these questions upthread but the pace has moved quickly. I would be very interested in people’s answers.

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  23. elastigirl: and then once the conditioning has taken, people become more docile & passive, sort of helplessly believing they are dependent on the pastors.

    I don’t know.

    My time in an evangelical church, most people like and support these clowns.

    Those tithes keep rolling in.

    Easy answers, safe answers, snug in your own community, with other like minded individuals.

    When you get down to it, church is inherently anti democratic. Heck, god didn’t even want the Israelites to have a king, let alone equal representation by voting.

    A lot of these pastors consider themselves judges. That’s why they look shell shocked in there police booking photo.

    The Nine Inch Nails put it this way in “Head Like a Hole”

    Bow down before the one you serve
    You’re going to get what you deserve
    Bow down before the one you serve
    You’re going to get what you deserve

    God money’s not looking for the cure
    God money’s not concerned about the sick among the pure
    God money, let’s go dancing on the backs of the bruised
    God money’s not one to choose

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  24. Eyewitness,

    Q1: Now? No, I wouldn’t. 15 years ago? Hard to say. I wouldn’t like the person. But I’m not sure I had the wisdom to recognize that I didn’t like him because he wasn’t displaying the fruits of the spirit. I was prone to focusing on “doctrinal orthodoxy” rather than really evaluating the behavior. Disliking someone who is abrasive and authoritarian was something I had been taught was rebellion on my part. I had to get burned before I began to recognize that I really needed to pay attention to the fruit. Specifically the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc) rather than the fruits of legalism. I’d been taught to focus on legalistic behavior. I think back on some of the people that I trusted to lead and realize that mutch of what spilled out of them was hatred.

    Q2: Well, the Elders for one. I would also guess that there is a certain core group of members that failed to stand up to the Elders and the pastors. And probably the pastors. Beyond that, someone closer would have to say.

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  25. Eyewitness: People who are grooming are good at maintaining a double life. They show their good side to people they are cultivating. So those people don’t believe the reports of those who’ve seen the predatory side.

    Discernment is one of the 18 gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ, on equal standing with the other 17 HS given gifts, even equal to pastoring.

    Romans 12: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, administration, mercy.
    1 Cor 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, languages (speaking & interpreting), apostles, teaching, serving, administration.
    Eph 4: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.

    All 3 of the above texts emphasize the equal value of all of the gifts. We’ve never been in a church where the leadership valued or even allowed participation of all of the gifts. There are theologies built around NOT recognizing some of these gifts in the church. There are probably seminaries that teach against the inclusion of these gifts given by the Holy Spirit in churches.

    Perhaps if all 18 gifts were permitted to participate in the Body of Christ, the church would function more like the Body of Christ.

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  26. Ava Aaronson: Discernment is one of the 18 gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ, on equal standing with the other 17 HS given gifts, even equal to pastoring.

    “Discernment” used to mean the ability to look past the appearances to see the reality beneath.
    Nowadays it means smelling-out DEMONS and WITCHES hiding in every closet and under every bed.

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  27. ES: I was prone to focusing on “doctrinal orthodoxy” rather than really evaluating the behavior.

    Just like all those Christian Cult Watch organizations of the Seventies.
    Parsing Doctrine and Theology under an Electron Microscope for Correctness while ignoring destructive control-freak behavior towards their people. Ignoring abuse as long as the Ideology was Pure.

    Didn’t help that the Theology of the Cult Sniffers (Rapture Ready Jack Chick Fundagelcalism) was the same as the abusive Not-a-Cults they gave their blessing – “ONE OF US! ONE OF US! GOOBLE! GOBBLE! ONE OF US!”

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  28. My parents are OG members of CHBC, and I grew up going to the church on Mason Farm Rd. I became not-a-Christian later. Nothing tickles me more than watching evangelical Christians embarrass themselves publicly, showing that their “Moral Majority” is really moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy.

    That said, I do not think y’all should be pushing for the full release of the report. I know people who submitted initial feedback and others who were interviewed by GRACE. The full report has all of that very personal information in it. Even if the report’s sources were anonymized in some way, I’m sure discerning church members and others would be able to figure out who said what about who when.

    People provided feedback/interviews because it was a confidential process by GRACE. Those same people would be hurt even more if what they said in confidence became public. You already don’t like CHBC (join the club). Seeing the full report isn’t going to change that. You think that keeping the full report secret protects Jay Thomas and the rest of the “priests” (debatable, now that everyone knows that they suck thanks to the summary), but it also protects all the innocent people that were given a safe space to detail their pain.

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  29. Eyewitness,

    In response to question one…

    The associate pastor at a former church of ours was candidating for the senior pastor position after the former senior pastor retired. He had a reputation of being “hot-headed.”

    The former senior pastor had groomed him (no pun intended) for the position, and had advised the congregation to hire him as a replacement.

    The former senior pastor had also trained the congregation to never say no to him, over the course of his 15 or so years there. He was a man of good character, so things more or less went ok. My husband and I joked that it was a benevolent dictatorship. But this was short-sighted in the long run.

    The associate pastor was promoted. The congregational vote was nearly (or perhaps entirely) unanimous. (My husband and I weren’t members, didn’t vote.)

    We left after (a) a pattern of deception emerged and (b) he turned his hot-headedness on myself. We made the elders aware of the situation. They did nothing. They thought he’d mature into the position. He is at least in his mid-forties; I don’t know how much more maturing they think he’s going to do.

    The bit we’ve heard from former staff and congregation members who have left is that the deception and heavy-handedness is continuing.

    A long-winded response to say that, at least in this situation, the congregation was set up for failure by the previous (well-intentioned) pastor. He trained the congregation to never say “no” to the senior pastor. He and then the elders made excuses for the hot-headed associate pastor much in the same way overly-benevolent parents sometimes make excuses for the misbehavior of spoiled children. There was also a lot of nepotism between staff and elder board (also begun under the former senior pastor), which probably didn’t make it any easier when things escalated after the promotion.

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  30. Wild Honey,

    “The former senior pastor had also trained the congregation to never say no to him, over the course of his 15 or so years there….

    …We left after (a) a pattern of deception emerged and (b) he turned his hot-headedness on myself.”
    +++++++++++++++

    would you be able to comment on how the senior pastor trained the congregation to never say no to him?

    and what was the deception, and hot-headed circumstances toward you?

    it’s a given it was all unethical, unreasonable & nincompoopy-ridiculous, but i’m curious.

    (Only if you’d feel ok about sharing the information)

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  31. Headless Unicorn Guy: Just like all those Christian Cult Watch organizations of the Seventies.
    Parsing Doctrine and Theology under an Electron Microscope for Correctness while ignoring destructive control-freak behavior towards their people. Ignoring abuse as long as the Ideology was Pure.

    Notorious predator RZ was lauded as a Christian apologist. Posthumously, His org (mainly his family) is attempting to keep the RZ fraudulent legacy alive.

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  32. Eyewitness,

    In terms of “theological mocking”, I have experienced this for DECADES…. Not so much the last two decades ( at a Prebyterian church now)..
    I would argue that so much of Fundamentalism and it’s child, evangelicalism, is based on “theological mocking/belittling “ anyone that does not “toe the line” with respect your “flavor” of Christianity…. It is so ingrained that I do not think most people in those “worlds” even realize it…

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  33. Eyewitness: 1.Suppose you know a man who has a similar verbal pattern of behavior as the lead pastor described in the GRACE report. And suppose that man was put before your congregation as a candidate for elder or deacon. Would you vote for him? Why (under what conditions) or why not?

    Pastors cloak their control factor with collaboration through the hiring process.

    About a year after hiring, changes take place, and the control begins to be established. During that year of latent control, the new pastor builds a following (brown shirts, red league, etc.) who will support him no matter what. He carefully removes detractors. He shifts himself (with his loyal ingroup supporting and fortifying him) into the position of a strongman. All actions are backed with his theology – thus it’s “God” anointed and appointed.

    Playbook: “Strongman” by Dr. Ruth Ben-ghiat, NYU.

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  34. Eyewitness: Given the leaders’ devotion to Scripture,

    Selective. That devotion is to use Scripture for their MO.

    Satan used Scripture in his dealings with Jesus.

    Jesus notes religious leadership use/misuse of Scripture:

    https://wildmustangmall.com/blog/f/blind-guides-vipers

    Even the titles (pastor, teacher, rabbi) in church, according to Jesus, are wrong. Not a practice approved by Jesus at all. Jesus forbids the use of titles in church, in the Body of Christ. Obviously, the titled become the entitled and there is to be no such thing in the Body of Christ.

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  35. Ava Aaronson: There are theologies built around NOT recognizing some of these gifts in the church. There are probably seminaries that teach against the inclusion of these gifts given by the Holy Spirit in churches.

    There definitely are, and very mainstream, but so ingrained is it that they don’t know they are doing it because they don’t see meaning in those Scriptures.

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  36. Mike Easter,

    Hi MIke
    Thank you. for your comment. GRACE always recommends the entire report be made public. That is part of their initial meeting. GRACE, above all, is well aware of the problems this might cause and can recommend safe ways to do it. The question for those who believe it should not be released is this…

    Do you really think you know more than GRACE how to handle these reports safely and confidentially?

    My guess is that GRACE offered its help to the church and the church turned it down. I totally trust GRACE, as do victims who have worked with them. I imagine the same trust is not given to the pastors and elders.

    As for guessing who spoke with them, I think most people know.

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  37. Michael in UK: There definitely are, and very mainstream, but so ingrained is it that they don’t know they are doing it because they don’t see meaning in those Scriptures.

    And quote those same SCRIPTURES(TM) for Justification.
    SCRIPTURE(TM) to give Divine Right and Cosmic-level Sanction for whatever they want to do.

    (I know the drill. I’m not that far from Ground Zero of Calvary Chapel, and they DOMINATED Christianese AM radio in the area.)

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  38. Ava Aaronson: About a year after hiring, changes take place, and the control begins to be established. During that year of latent control, the new pastor builds a following (brown shirts, red league, etc.) who will support him no matter what. He carefully removes detractors. He shifts himself (with his loyal ingroup supporting and fortifying him) into the position of a strongman.

    “On the Last Day of June, 1934…”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AOcWV-pvPQ

    “You can’t stop me now —
    I’m Stronger than you all,
    Stronger than your Law!”
    — Al Stewart, “The Last Day of June 1934”

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  39. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Discernment” used to mean the ability to look past the appearances to see the reality beneath.
    Nowadays it means smelling-out DEMONS and WITCHES hiding in every closet and under every bed.

    Ava Aaronson: About a year after hiring, changes take place, and the control begins to be established. During that year of latent control, the new pastor builds a following (brown shirts, red league, etc.) who will support him no matter what. He carefully removes detractors. He shifts himself (with his loyal ingroup supporting and fortifying him) into the position of a strongman. All actions are backed with his theology – thus it’s “God” anointed and appointed.

    Prior to the hire of the lead pastor , the church actually did recognize those gifts. Gifts often labeled as “charismatic” were considered legitimate gifts but not emphasized or elevated over other gifts. They were not practiced during the worship service however but more in smaller groups.

    Once the current lead pastor was hired, any truth-tellers were of course pushed out. (Some people consider that kind of “truth-telling” to be the gift of prophecy) Some of those with gifts of discernment spoke up but others departed quietly. I Cor 12: 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,… but leaders did say, “We have no need of your kind!” and the organization has been operating short of many with those gifts since.

    Your second quote could be an exact description of what occurred with a slightly different timeline. Moves to latent control had started within the first 6 months. The ascension to strongman took a couple more years.

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  40. Eyewitness:
    Prior to the hire of the lead pastor , the church actually did recognize those gifts. Gifts often labeled as “charismatic” were considered legitimate gifts but not emphasized or elevated over other gifts. They were not practiced during the worship service however but more in smaller groups.

    Once the current lead pastor was hired, any truth-tellers were of course pushed out. (Some people consider that kind of “truth-telling” to be the gift of prophecy) Some of those with gifts of discernment spoke up but others departed quietly. I Cor 12: 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,… but leaders did say, “We have no need of your kind!”and the organization has been operating short of many with those gifts since.

    Your second quote could be an exact description of what occurred with a slightly different timeline. Moves to latent control had started within the first 6 months. The ascension to strongman took a couple more years.

    Ava Aaronson: iscernment is one of the 18 gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ, on equal standing with the other 17 HS given gifts, even equal to pastoring.

    Romans 12: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, administration, mercy.
    1 Cor 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, languages (speaking & interpreting), apostles, teaching, serving, administration.
    Eph 4: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.

    All 3 of the above texts emphasize the equal value of all of the gifts. We’ve never been in a church where the leadership valued or even allowed participation of all of the gifts.

    This is the text I meant to quote above. HUG had quoted you in the text I posted instead.

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  41. Wild Honey: We left after (a) a pattern of deception emerged and (b) he turned his hot-headedness on myself. We made the elders aware of the situation. *They did nothing. They thought he’d mature into the position. He is at least in his mid-forties; I don’t know how much more maturing they think he’s going to do.*

    The bit we’ve heard from former staff and congregation members who have left is that the deception and heavy-handedness is continuing.

    Almost identical pattern at CHBC.

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  42. Wild Honey: The former senior pastor had also trained the congregation to never say no to him,

    Isn’t there a term for this?

    Who in their right mind hires an employee that, once hired, the employee always gets their own way?

    A pastor is an employee, of real wage-earners, with real jobs, real work schedules, real bosses they report to, and HR departments that have professional guidelines.

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  43. Ava Aaronson: There are theologies built around NOT recognizing some of these gifts in the church. There are probably seminaries that teach against the inclusion of these gifts given by the Holy Spirit in churches.

    This is truly a doctrine of demons, as I have said before. It wishes to cut God down to merely natural while neutering the Holy Spirit. It may have started originally as an excuse as narcissists grabbed power early on and the supernatural was the obvious thing to go, though in that case none of the gifts are free to exercise under the narcissist priest and bishop. The supernatural just served as the canary in the coal mine.

    I despise Cessationism because it dares to tell God-the Holy Spirit–where it can shove up certain gifts. Just imagine having gifts and then a bunch of jerks come along and tell you that you cannot use them. Rude to do that to a human with real gifts, but then tell the creator of all things this. They are all fake according to them. If they have ceased then God is dead. To me this is very insulting to God. Do Not Tell Him What He Can and Cannot Do. Do Not Tell Him That He Cannot Heal Anyone, Anywhere He Desires! Do Not Tell Him That He is Mute and Cannot Speak to Anyone, However He Wants, Whenever He Wants. It is simply rude, arrogant and a complete lie. But I will get off my soapbox now…

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  44. Headless Unicorn Guy: “Discernment” used to mean the ability to look past the appearances to see the reality beneath.
    Nowadays it means smelling-out DEMONS and WITCHES hiding in every closet and under every bed.

    1 Corinthians 12.10 ” … and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages.”

    Nothing here about witch-hunting or closets or under beds.

    I’ve seen this HS gift to the Body of Christ in action and the good it does. The person who had this gift was able to discern a person’s motives in what they were doing.

    It is also a great tool of God to sort out safe and not-so-safe people – whom to trust, whom to avoid on a very practical basis. No need to get into the whole demons and witches thing.

    Some people we deal with on a day-to-day basis are simply in over their competency, for example. From a practical standpoint, it’s best to not count on those people. It’s wonderful and truly a gift from God to be able to sort this out – without making a big deal out of it.

    At a church annual business meeting, this discernment gifted person drew a schemata of the priorities of each of the church leaders who were proposing their projects. Then the gifted person came to the conclusion that NO pastor had children on their agenda. Telling.

    The whole charismatic deal, IMHO, sort of hijacked the whole HS gifts to the church deal. “My children …. ” some lady “prophet” stands up and says some type of word salad Sunday after Sunday. Etc. Very eerie dreary.

    Where I’ve personally seen the gifts of the HS most in action was on the mission field. There were situations where the gifts were evident and super helpful. God comes through.

    We have friends who exercise their gifts here in the States even though their pastors in no way recognize their gifts. For example, an elderly church lady who was definitely an evangelist, everywhere she went, every day. She was faithful to God, not man, in doing this. When we spoke at her funeral about how God had used her for 90+ years, even her own pastor said that the gifts of the Spirit ceased when the last of the 12 disciples passed. The pastor had lots of Scripture to back up his theology, bunny hopping through the Bible from text to text. He has lots of company on this, too.

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  45. elastigirl,

    Part I – Senior Pastor Training a Congregation to Not Say No

    The former senior pastor is someone whose character I trust, having no evidence for the contrary. He was also a very likable, persuasive man who had a knack for getting people to gently come around to his way of thinking. Which is a talent that needs to be wielded carefully even in the best of intentioned of hands.

    My clearest example of not being able to tell him “no” is from when my husband and I served on the missions committee. The committee set the missions budget (as in, financial support for career missionaries), and pretty much nothing else. The committee (seven of us in total) wanted to branch out and try to create fewer missions-related silos in the church. The senior pastor didn’t think it was worth the time and effort, so nothing ever got anywhere.

    There was also a particular missionary that the committee was unanimous in its desire to slowly decrease funding for and move away from. So the chairwoman (who had been on board with the plan) went to the senior pastor to let him know. Next meeting, she came back having been persuaded otherwise, but without really being able to concretely say why. At that point, my husband and I realized nothing would ever really get done around the church that didn’t have the senior pastor’s explicit approval. We jokingly called it a “benevolent dictatorship.”

    I made a good friend at the church who’d been raised in a cult. When the associate pastor was candidating for the senior position, he taught a class we were both in. He said some things that were red flags to me (like, “good communication is when the receiver responds as intended”). Later, my friend said she’d noticed some concerning things he’d said, but went ahead and voted for him as the new senior pastor because he had the recommendation of the former senior pastor, whom she trusted. Said friend left the church about a year after my family did, when the heavy-handedness got too much for her and her husband.

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  46. elastigirl,

    Part II – Deception and Hot-Headedness

    The congregation voted on the annual budget. The first budget meeting under the newly promoted senior pastor in the summer of 2020 went smoothly, as was typical for the church, and the budget was approved.

    The *very next Sunday,* the senior pastor announced that the worship pastor was being let go, that the entire pastoral staff was going through a reorganization, and that the church was “heading in a new direction” “back to the true gospel.” None of these are decisions that are made in the space of one week. So the information was deliberately withheld from the congregation, meaning they could not make an informed decision and vote.

    My in-laws also attended the church at the time. They participated in a daily devotional over Zoom that the senior pastor led during covid social distancing of 2020. By pure chance, my father-in-law realized the pastor was using a devotional book written by someone else and passing it off as his own.

    Come fall 2020, husband and I already had one foot out the door, what with all the rumblings of church discipline (they retroactively kicked someone out of the congregation who’d already left) and “this thing you may not have heard of before, covenant membership.”

    The kicker came when I caught the pastor MIS-quoting covid misinformation from the pulpit. Thanks to Warren Throckmorton’s blog, I already knew about the misinformation. When I politely inquired as to the source of the pastor’s information, he was dismissive. When I pushed back, he defended himself. He also lied about having prepared his sermon several weeks in advance (it was clear from his mannerisms that this particular part of the sermon had been ad libbed and not scripted).

    And then told me I needed to be “more in the Word and less in the World.” Which was offensive, given that I had been reading the Bible daily for two years at that point and had hardly any time for social media while supervising distance learning with my kindergartener. It was also ironic, given that the Bible says nothing about covid or the CDC, but wordly sources sure do. And then the pastor had the nerve to warn me against my emails “becoming a wedge for the devil.” RUDE.

    My husband was later part of a guys’ group text in which voting and politics came up. And the pastor basically said my husband wasn’t a real Christian because of the political candidate he was voting for.

    I am irritated all over again as I write this. But I have more pity than anything else for the pastor. I am in no way a psychologist, but he strikes me strongly as being an eager little boy who so very much wants to please his distant and perfectionist pastor father. I think he’s in over his head as a senior pastor, and he is trying very hard to be the next John Piper instead of simply being himself as God created him to be.

    I saw him at a local restaurant a few weeks ago, and he pretended not to see me. It was just me and the kids, so my husband (who is both my security blanket and stalwart defender when it comes to dealing with paternalistic or outright sexist pastors) wasn’t there. And I realized that I wasn’t afraid. Which was a wonderful gift. So wonderful that I splurged for dessert with the kids, even though it meant we had to be there later.

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  47. Ava Aaronson: The whole charismatic deal, IMHO, sort of hijacked the whole HS gifts to the church deal.

    To where the only gift becaome TONGUES TONGUES TONGUES TONGUES TONGUES TONGUES and TONGUES.

    At least before Spiritual Warfare got popular. My SIL has this Spiritual Warfare Advisor who was Prophesying left and right about Politics back in 2008 and in 2010 Discerned that a print I bought at a Fur Con had DEMONS in it giving me a Depression.

    “My children …. ” some lady “prophet” stands up and says some type of word salad Sunday after Sunday. Etc. Very eerie dreary.

    PROPHETESS Kat Kerr with the Pink Hair and the Magick Wizard’s Staff?
    At least when she’s channeling God she deepens her voice.

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  48. Ava Aaronson: Isn’t there a term for this?

    Who in their right mind hires an employee that, once hired, the employee always gets their own way?

    Employee, yes.
    A PRIEST who holds the Keys to your Eternal Destiny and can Curse you for all Eternity, NO.

    Yet again, Ava, wasn’t this a major beef the Reformers had regarding Romish Popery?

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  49. Wild Honey: And then told me I needed to be “more in the Word and less in the World.” Which was offensive, given that I had been reading the Bible daily for two years at that point and had hardly any time for social media while supervising distance learning with my kindergartener.

    Why is it that these guys always point to the Bible as some kind of cure-all-magic-talisman?
    Betty’s queen bitc|-| of the women’s group?
    You’re not in the word enough.
    Her hubby Bill rules the men’s group with an iron fist?
    You’re not in the word enough.
    It’s too bad, but some ‘churches’ are havens for the Bettys and Bills of this world, and thanks to ‘the word’ (dryly), they’re able to set up shop and get away with it.

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  50. Dee, thank you for providing Wild Honey a place to share her story and an invitation to continue posting more . . .

    I think that giving ‘voice’ to people who have ‘lived through’ some of the worst abuses spiritually is a kind of ‘healing’ in itself:

    that they can speak about what happened,
    and know that people will listen who care about wanting better for them in future.

    Kindness AND healing – good job, Dee

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  51. Muff Potter: It’s too bad, but some ‘churches’ are havens for the Bettys and Bills of this world, and thanks to ‘the word’ (dryly), they’re able to set up shop and get away with it.

    Yep, along with the Archie’s, Veronica’s, Reggie’s and Jugheads. I read all those Spire Archie comics where the gang go completely evangelical. “Sonshine”, “One Way”. Very hip with the kids…

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  52. Wild Honey: told me I needed to be “more in the Word and less in the World” … the pastor had the nerve to warn me against my emails “becoming a wedge for the devil”

    I call that “Robert Morris Shaming” … remember this:

    “… I have to say this, um, I’m really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I’m extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it; here’s one thing, just even the blogs that mention Christian leaders, and I’m one of ‘em. Praise the Lord, I’ve made the Satan, Satan’s hit list now you know, but here’s what blows me away. You wouldn’t listen to gossip, but you’ll read it …” (Robert Morris)

    So, if you can shame the pew into sit down, shut up, and don’t listen to anybody but me, you can control them. These folks don’t want you on social media, because you might learn something about them!

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  53. Nothing but questions: Don’t know anything about GRACE, but can people pay for an actual copy of the report to get the full report? Are members who have tithed able to recall their giving back if the results are not fully shown? When did Eric leave? When did Josh Cooley leave and what reasons? What about the worship staff that was forced out and was made a big issue (Matt 18) to the congregation? I have nothing but questions and I’ve been gone 5+ years and just heart broken…

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  54. Jack: Yep, along with the Archie’s, Veronica’s, Reggie’s and Jugheads. I read all those Spire Archie comics where the gang go completely evangelical.

    Oh, yeah.
    The Christianese Archie Comics.
    When he was a kid, one of my writing partners (the self-educated autistic son of a steelworker) had a relative who’d keep giving him those for birthdays and maybe Xmas.

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  55. FormerCHBCmem,

    I’m afraid that GRACE will turn over the report to the leaders who were in charge. The problem with CHBC is that the elders are functioning in s a disrespectful manner towards the people who pay the bills-you guys.

    I”m so sad, along with you. We loved the old CHBC. I believe that some of the elders back in 2009, like Phil and Wally actively sought for Jay Thomas to change the Bible church. This was planned many years ago. I also believe that the congregation was not told the full truth.

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  56. dee: mourn the death of a decent church

    Happening all across America as long-time members experience the unloving, uncaring, ungodly takeover of their churches at the hands of New Calvinists. I suppose the NeoCal army justifies such spiritual brutality for the good of their movement, to restore the one true gospel that the rest of the church has lost (to them, Calvinism = Gospel) … they certainly are passionate about their message and method, but it is a misplaced passion. There will be no mourning the death of their movement when it eventually fades into obscurity. But in the meantime, they are causing much grief in the Body of Christ.

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  57. Max: I suppose the NeoCal army justifies such spiritual brutality for the good of their movement

    If the Movement is Righteous enough, it justifies Any Atrocity Whatsoever to bring about its Perfect Paradise.
    Ask any survivor of Cambodia’s Killing fields or the Islamic Republic of ISIS.

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