{Update 7/11/24}What Is the Story With Summit Crossing Community Church Whose Founding Pastor, Mark Sellers, Was Arrested for Sexting With a Teen? An Introduction.

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Woman With Red Hair, Crying. Public Domain

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


Thi story has been updated to reflect that Sellers was a founding pastor of the church. 7/11/24


Summit was an Acts 29 church.

Summit Crossing Community Church, Huntsville, AL, was founded in 2001. Some members believe it was initially part of the SBC but became nondenominational and joined the Acts 29 organization, as documented on their website.

This will be the first of several posts dealing with various issues. In my opinion and experience, Acts 29 is known for its harsh, authoritarian leadership, which often emphasizes church discipline in a manner that some find abusive.

Mark Sellers, a church employee and founding pastor, has been arrested for sexting with a teen.

Sellers, the former Director of Missions and Community, was charged with electronically soliciting a child. A community member reportedly approached a church member, who reported this to the church, which reported it immediately to the authorities. I texted the Executive Director of Ministries, Matthew Wilson, who authorized me to post the following statement.

Summit Crossing Community Church strives to be a safe place for all in our community to know Jesus, connect in gospel relationships, and live on mission in the world. That commitment guided Summit Crossing’s response to troubling allegations regarding a now-former church employee Mark Sellers.

On the evening of May 13, leaders of Summit Crossing became aware that a church employee had been sending sexually inappropriate and explicit text messages to a teenager. The following morning, leaders filed reports with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (Child Protective Services) and local law enforcement.

At the request of law enforcement, Summit Crossing waited to take disciplinary action against the employee until the investigation was complete, but took steps to ensure the safety of our members and staff while investigators worked to gather information. Upon the employee’s May 22 arrest on one count of electronic solicitation of a child under 16, Summit Crossing terminated his employment and indefinitely suspended him from returning to church property or events.

We are deeply grieved for those who have experienced this sinful behavior by one of our employees, and grateful to the family that initially came forward to report it. We remain in contact with them and are following their wishes regarding how we can support them moving forward. We are also saddened by the impact this will have on the former employee’s family and are committed to supporting and caring for them in the days ahead.

Why did church leadership rehire Mark Sellers, who was credibly accused of being outed in the Ashleigh Madison website scandal in 2015?

According to Matthew Wilson, Mark Sellers was allowed to resign in 2014 due to financial issues. However, others in the church contend he was asked to resign due to the Ashleigh Madison scandal. According to one credible source, Sellers had two accounts on the site: one for males and one for females. Sellers apparently claimed he was hacked, something that was reportedly disproven. His computer and phone have reportedly been seized by law enforcement.

The critical issue is this. In 2020, the church leadership rehired Sellers despite knowing about the scandals. Why? I know many readers recall the Josh Duggar scandal in which he made some appearances on the Ashleigh Madison list. In an expected explanation, Duggar claimed he was hacked and eventually confessed. Eventually, Duggar would be sentenced to prison for child pornography found on his computer. Judge Who Sentenced Josh Duggar Calls Child Pornography He Downloaded ‘Horrific and Sick.”

Why did the church ignore Sellers’ history with Ashleigh Madison? It is inappropriate for a Director of Missions and Community to have this in his history. At the bare minimum, red flags should have been noticed. Indeed, the church leadership most likely knew of the Josh Duggar scandal, and this decision raises concerns about the church leadership’s understanding of child sexual abuse.

It is not normal for a 49-year-old married man to have a sexual interest in a teen. Does Sellers have a paraphilia?

This is not simply sinful behavior. It is far more complex, and it is high time that churches wise up. This is not “repent, and all is well.”

I know folks might get sick of me always bringing this up, but it appears that some church leaders have their heads in the sand. A week ago, I wrote the following post, which I think might be helpful to church leaders who find the subject makes them a bit squeamish. Warning: When Dealing With People With Paraphilias, Things Are Likely Worse Than You Imagine: On Jonathan Elwing, Donald Logan, and Robert Morris.

Here is a link at the National Institutes of Health: Paraphilia by Kristy A. Fisher and Raman Marwaha that explains this.

Paraphilias are persistent and recurrent sexual interests, urges, fantasies, or behaviors of marked intensity involving objects, activities, or even situations that are atypical in nature. Although not innately pathological, a paraphilic disorder can evolve if paraphilia invokes harm, distress, or functional impairment on the lives of the affected individual or others.

…The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for paraphilia states explicitly that the patient must have experienced intense and recurrent sexual arousal from deviant fantasies for at least six months and must have acted on these impulses. A paraphilia becomes a pathology, or a paraphilic disorder, only when this behavior causes significant distress and impairment of functioning to the individual or if the paraphilia involves personal harm or risk of harm to others

…However, due to the patient’s reluctance to seek treatment or the legal obligation to obtain treatment, psychiatrists are often forced to exceed the call of duty to the patient to reduce distress but rather focus efforts on protection against potential victimization.

Those with paraphilia are often reluctant to seek treatment. Even when they do, the counselor must focus on preventing harm to another victim.

Read the section called Prognosis. It appears that those with paraphilias are likely to reoffend.

Despite the psychological and pharmacological interventions designed to manage paraphilias and paraphilic disorders; an ultimate treatment or change has yet to be established. Existing interventions merely allow for increased voluntary control through self-management skills over sexual arousal and reduction in sexual drive, with the best-yielded prognosis only from those individuals who are actually motivated to change.[2] Those who do participate in either therapy alone or, ideally, the combined management of psychological and medicinal intervention show improvement with a marked reduction in the intensity and frequency of deviant sexual arousal and resultant behaviors.[18] However, the literature suggests that most sexual offenders are likely to re-offend.[2]

Takeaway point: Literature suggests that most sexual offenders will reoffend.

Please read the full post.

It is possible that other children, both now and in the past, were groomed or worse during Sellers’s time at the church.

It is up to the church to notify all families that may have had contact with him during the periods associated with his presence. That means that if he was present at meetings where children were present or if he assisted in any children’s programs, every family needs to be contacted. There are likely other victims—there almost always are. This is an enormous task but absolutely necessary. Please do not ignore the possibility that there are victims who are too young or confused to understand what may have happened to them.

The church left the Acts 29 network as of January 1, 2024.

This action is consistent with some churches that have been fleeing the organization. Churches Leaving Acts 29 Cite Issues with Financial and Organizational Transparency.

Justin Buzzard, Garden City Church’s pastor, wrote a lengthy blog entry citing 10 reasons why the church had made its decision. Among them were financial and organizational concerns similar to those noted by Needham.

While Garden City Church has given over $200,000 to Acts 29 over the years as part of its membership, Buzzard wrote, “There hasn’t been clarity of a big picture budget to see where the money is going.”

Buzzard didn’t ask Acts 29 for a copy of the budget, but said he knew of pastors who had and were refused.

Needham was one who did. He said he asked Acts 29 Vice President Dave Bruskas for a copy of the organization’s budget and bylaws. Needham said he was told those were “in-house” documents only and that he could not see them.

These events have eroded the trust that Needham and Buzzard have in Acts 29.

That does not mean that the DNA of Acts 29 has been entirely eliminated from the way the church is run.

I imagine church members can expect authoritarian church leadership and an emphasis on harsher-than-expected church discipline. If church covenants are employed, members should be aware that these are legal documents, even if the church leaders say they are not. I have written extensively on this subject. Church Membership CovenantsLegal Contracts that are NOT Biblical!

What happened with GRACE?

I want the church membership to weigh in on what is called Summit’s church-wide program.


Some current and former members found themselves frustrated in this area. Some believed that lawyers Wade Mullen and GRACE were hired to evaluate the church’s safety for children. Others also conveyed that they believed members could speak with those evaluating the church. Some think these initiatives have begun but have never been completed. One person said they wanted the GRACE report, but the church leaders said it was unavailable. Others have said that the training program has not been widely implemented. It is clear that church leaders must do more to communicate their views of these critical programs.

Transparency is difficult when a church is controlled from the top down. Many people are unaware that I take no money for my work. That means no kickbacks for recommending books, lawyers, counselors, etc. I am a committed Christian, and my husband supports what I do. I say this to make a point. Churches that hire a group like GRACE and follow their recommendations do far better than those that do not. Using GRACE and folks like Wade Mullen is smart so long as their recommendations are followed. I know one too many churches that have hidden the reports from their church members.

Finally,

I hope to follow up on this post by writing about some folks who believe the church has treated them harshly. Others believe that there are a number of disagreements that have not been dealt with transparently. I hope to continue this conversation with some present and former members in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, why in the world did church leaders think it was a good idea to rehire Mark Sellers?


Comments

{Update 7/11/24}What Is the Story With Summit Crossing Community Church Whose Founding Pastor, Mark Sellers, Was Arrested for Sexting With a Teen? An Introduction. — 51 Comments

  1. Mark Sellers was not just a former employee, but a founding pastor at Summit Crossing Community Church (SC3). He was known to be the best friend of the lead teaching pastor as well.
    My family, husband (former elder at SC3) and I, are two former members who have been harmfully treated by pastors and elders, who were too emotionally and spiritually immature to engage in a legitimate concern we had, but instead vilified us at a family meeting in front of 800 congregants/friends and left the slander (audio)on their website for months. We participated in Wade Mullens evaluation but were denied permission to read his report. The report was never released to the church and Wade was terminated after he sent it to the church leadership.

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  2. Sue Creekmore: two former members

    Lots of red flags indicating substandard leadership, as ONLY former members would know.

    -rehire of a sex offender
    -authoritarianism
    -lack of transparency
    -letting go of truth tellers
    -community slander & shaming of those who seek transparency
    -rules for thee but not for me people in charge
    -not releasing report to donors
    -taking, even demanding, donor money with no accountability to donors.

    Is the power, vice, money trifecta at play here in a so-called church enterprise?

    God gives the church the 18 spiritual gifts (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4); one of the 18 GIFTS to the church (no money or salary involved) is pastoring or shepherding as listed once in the Bible in Eph 4. Surely God can do better than these red flag bannered leaders that are all in way over their level of competency.

    TWW is where former members gather with intel for the rest of us.

    David Marquet, Navy Commander, has noted that power is in leadership at the top. Intel or knowledge is down through the ranks of the rest of everybody. If they don’t communicate, IOW if the leadership doesn’t listen and/or the rank and file don’t speak up, the ship sinks. “Turn This Ship Around” by David Marquet.

    Keep sharing. Save yourself from sinking ships. Loose lips sink ships? No. Not at all. Lazy leadership sinks ships.

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  3. Sue Creekmore: The report was never released to the church and Wade was terminated after he sent it to the church leadership.

    The substandard leadership did not release the report.

    What do incompetent leaders actually do? Where is their performance? How do they occupy themselves and invest in their leadership position?

    Apparently:

    1. They DO allegiance to their brohood of fellow leaders as they circle the wagons and protect sex offenders. Do families want to follow this leadership? Hopefully not, if they care about children.

    2. They DO cover up to protect their pipeline of funds coming in from donors as they hide their finances. Do donors then want to donate, while denied seeing where their money is going? Hopefully no one is that stupid as to blindly donate to and for who knows what.

    3. They DO seek to control the narrative as they say what they want about whomever they want while condemning membership communications over the Internet.

    4. They DO retain their power while dismissing others who threaten their position or power.

    What would Jesus do? These leaders follow the description of those who executed Jesus, but not Jesus.

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  4. Ava Aaronson: David Marquet, Navy Commander, has noted that power is in leadership at the top. Intel or knowledge is down through the ranks of the rest of everybody. If they don’t communicate, IOW if the leadership doesn’t listen and/or the rank and file don’t speak up, the ship sinks. “Turn This Ship Around” by David Marquet.

    What gets me so mad is that the leaders who conceal the abuse teach the members that abuse is OK because God forgives them. It is no different sin than eating too many hot dogs on July 4th. These leaders should hang their heads in shame for distorting the Gospel in this way.

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  5. dee:

    These leaders should hang their heads in shame for distorting the Gospel in this way.

    If they had any shame . . . . Oh, and if they had one iota of integrity they would fire the pastor and then resign en-masse to allow folks with a better moral compass to assume leadership.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

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  6. “In my opinion and experience, Acts 29 is known for its harsh, authoritarian leadership, which often emphasizes church discipline in a manner that some find abusive.” (Dee)

    I guess the New Calvinists think the following Scripture applies to them, as they go about taking over non-Calvinist churches by stealth and deception and disciplining the spiritual daylights out of church members:

    “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force as a precious prize.” (Matthew 11:12 AMP)

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  7. “Transparency is difficult when a church is controlled from the top down.” (Dee)

    Herein lies a core problem with elder-rule polity. Too often, we find New Calvinist churches led by young pastors and young “elders” who have proven to be spiritually immature, who often resort to controlling a church through manipulation, intimidation, and domination (= 9Marks). IMO, congregational governance is the proper model for doing church and the only way to prevent train wrecks like this from happening. Would the congregation have voted to rehire Sellers if they knew his background?

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  8. Sue Creekmore: My family, husband (former elder at SC3) and I, are two former members who have been harmfully treated by pastors and elders, who were too emotionally and spiritually immature to engage in a legitimate concern we had, but instead vilified us at a family meeting

    You will find friends on TWW who regularly comment here … who have also experienced discipline, shunning, and/or excommunication from New Calvinist churches for simply questioning the actions and teachings of church leaders. The NeoCals talk a lot about grace-this and grace-that, but seldom exercise the Grace of Jesus. Their method and message is driven by a misunderstanding and misapplication of grace, IMO. Arrogance is the primary identifier of the New Calvinist movement, not love.

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  9. Ava Aaronson: allegiance to their brohood of fellow leaders

    The lure of the inner ring – with its power, prestige, and protection – has been the downfall of many young reformers in the New Calvinist movement. It’s just a silly religious game, but with disastrous consequences when it comes to situations like this. Covering for abusive dudebros trumps concern for victims.

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  10. There is a pattern where power has been consolidated at Summit Crossing over the years. You can see it in bringing former member committees in-house. “Family Meetings” have become “Member Meetings”, family members have voices, organizational members answer to a governing board. Being a member at Summit Crossing doesn’t even carry the weight of being able to hold your board accountable. With the adoption of the latest bylaws this January, the elders “may from time to time seek the wisdom of the collective membership” to either “affirm or not affirm the decision” made by the elders. In other words, there is no requirement to hold votes and no requirement to abide by the member vote.

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  11. Afterburne,

    We are sadly realist now. It has been 27 months, and still no repentance, reconciliation or even acknowledgement of their wrong doing/sin. We can’t imagine how they sleep at night. Every pastor and elder has disqualified themself.

    We still pray for them; we pray for God to shake His church and illuminate the truth in undeniable ways, so that the blind, passive followers will finally stand up and yell “enough!”. The story you reported on in this post may be the very tool God uses to clean His house.

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  12. Sue Creekmore: God has been faithful and surrounded us with family and believers who have been willing to remind us of God’s plan again and again, and speak with us in truth and love.

    You are fortunate to have a spiritual support group … you won’t find “truth and love” in New Calvinist ranks. Come back and see us, Sue … you will find ‘mostly’ truth and love here with the exception of occasional drive-by trolls who defend bad-boy church leaders to the last breath.

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  13. Sue Creekmore: We can’t imagine how they sleep at night.

    Oh, abusive church leaders sleep just fine at night, for they truly believe they are right and you are wrong. And it’s worse with New Calvinists … they justify bad behavior because they sincerely believe they alone hold truth and have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the “true gospel” to the church (Calvinism = Gospel to them). A little stealth, deception, and abusive leadership are OK with them in order to accomplish their mission. They are wrong of course … that’s why 95% of Christendom have rejected the tenets of reformed theology for the last 500 years … there’s just no truth and love in most of it. They talk more about reformed icons (Piper, etc.) than they do Jesus.

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  14. Max: New Calvinists … they justify bad behavior because they sincerely believe they alone hold truth and have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the “true gospel” to the church (Calvinism = Gospel to them). A little stealth, deception, and abusive leadership are OK with them in order to accomplish their mission

    What do they have to worry about?
    Everything they do was Predestined by God’s Will before the foundation of the world.
    And as The Elect, they also have a Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free Card signed by God Himself!
    What can God possibly to to them? They’re His Special Pets!

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  15. Max: You are fortunate to have a spiritual support group … you won’t find “truth and love” in New Calvinist ranks.

    You’ll have a hard time finding it OUTSIDE of New Calvinsim, too.

    Remember that meme that’s been going around?
    “There’s no Hate like Christian Love”?

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  16. Max:
    “Transparency is difficult when a church is controlled from the top down.” (Dee)

    Herein lies a core problem with elder-rule polity.Too often, we find New Calvinist churches led by young pastors and young “elders” who have proven to be spiritually immature, who often resort to controlling a church through manipulation, intimidation, and domination (= 9Marks).IMO, congregational governance is the proper model for doing church and the only way to prevent train wrecks like this from happening.Would the congregation have voted to rehire Sellers if they knew his background?

    Well said.

    Many evangelical churches these days have elders (and pastors) in their 30s or even their 20s.

    For example, take a look at the elders of Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church:

    https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/about-us/leadership-staff/

    While it’s not always easy to guess someone’s age, most of his elders look quite young, certainly much younger than he is. Are these men really mature and experienced enough to serve as elders of a church?

    Or are they young, overconfident, ambitious underlings of the Big Boss pastor, hoping to leverage their elderships into leading a church of their own in the future?

    I don’t know. Maybe Dever has been able to achieve the rare feat of putting together a board of young elders who are mature beyond their years (though I doubt it).

    In my view, young men are rarely qualified to be elders of a church.

    The phenomenon of elders in their 20s and 30s seems to be a relatively recent thing, which has become pervasive in independent evangelical and SBC churches which have no supervision from a larger denomination, so they can do whatever they want, regardless of how irresponsible it is.

    As the word “elder” suggests, elders should generally be older and more experienced in life than the members of the congregation.

    It used to be the case that church elders tended to be middle-aged and older. They tended to be people who had considerable life experience – long experience in applying Christian principles in their marriage, social relationships, careers, etc.

    Elders used to be people who members of the congregation could approach for mature spiritual advice. The elder would draw upon their own life experiences to provide advice to younger church members who were going through similar situations.

    Can a 29 year-old elder provide sound, mature, and wise advice on various life issues to members of the congregation? Can a 29 year-old elder provide mature and reliable advice to a church member experiencing tension within their marriage? Can a 29 year-old elder provide mature and responsible Christian counsel to a church member experiencing a moral dilemma in their career (such as a dispute with co-workers, or the temptation to compromise their values in order to gain promotion)? Can a 29 year-old elder provide sound and mature advice to a church member who is experiencing a crisis of faith due to trauma or hardships?

    I doubt it. In general, a young guy who just graduated from seminary simply doesn’t have the wide range and depth of life experiences to be able to give mature and sage Christian counsel to church members who need sound advice on various issues.

    There may be some young people who are exceptions, but it’s rare.

    Having a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University and a diploma from a Neo-Calvinist seminary does not magically turn a 27 year-old man into a mature Christian leader who is prepared to hold the high spiritual responsibility of church leadership.

    Most of these young hip dudebro elders and pastors tend to be very immature, authoritarian, and have very bad judgment.

    Of course, bad judgment is certainly not limited to the young. Lorne James appears to be in his 40s or 50s, and the Catholic bishops and cardinals who covered up decades of sexual abuse were mostly even older than that.

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  17. Commenter23: The phenomenon of elders in their 20s and 30s seems to be a relatively recent thing

    That came in with the New Calvinist movement … young pastors fresh out of seminary who picked young elders of same age … dudebro yes-men … all of them too inexperienced to lead a church … none of them with enough spiritual sense to blow the dust off a peanut. You can find them in most communities hanging out together at a coffee shop tweeting their lives away and not having enough time to minister to church members in need of prayer, in the hospital, or dying in a nursing home.

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  18. we pray for God to shake His church and illuminate the truth in undeniable ways, so that the blind, passive followers will finally stand up and yell “enough!”
    Sue Creekmore,

    Good for you for praying for the ‘passive followers’. If all of the citizens (members) leave, there can be no dictatorial regime.
    I hope you have peace and comfort in knowing that you tried to do the right thing at church, and that you have done the right thing for you and your family.

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  19. dbcooper,

    Well, dbcooper….. I hope a passel of people grab their parachutes and jump out of that plane with its incompetent, self absorbed pilots.
    Sorry, when I saw dbcooper, I couldn’t resist …. I immediately thought of the early 1970s hijacker.

    Thanks for sharing what you know. I don’t think I could have hung around long enough to have gotten that much info!

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  20. Oh, abusive church leaders sleep just fine at night, for they truly believe they are right and you are wrong
    Max,
    I’m not so sure about that. Sometimes I think they know they are wrong and they just don’t care, as long as they can be iron-fisted dictators telling others what to do while they do whatever they please…… and make easy money at it.

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  21. dee: What gets me so mad is that the leaders who conceal the abuse teach the members that abuse is OK because God forgives them.

    No matter how much the NeoCals spin their version of Christianity, church leaders sexting with a teen is not predestined. Those who teach that “abuse is OK because God forgives them” should be reminded that “presumption is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). New Calvinism is built on the shifting sand of cheap grace which is not Grace at all … another gospel which is not ‘the’ Gospel.

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  22. Max: You can find them in most communities hanging out together at a coffee shop tweeting their lives away and not having enough time to minister to church members in need of prayer, in the hospital, or dying in a nursing home.

    This is another very important point.

    A desperate craving for continual public attention (exemplified by constantly tweeting and posting on social media) is unbecoming of a Christian minister, who is supposed to be humble.

    Even worse, some pastors and other prominent Christian leaders have gotten into frequent arguments on social media, and resort to insults and offensive, rude behavior. Joe Carter, the assistant pastor of McLean Bible Church – Arlington, comes to mind as an especially egregious example, but there are plenty of others, such as Owen Strachan.

    Getting into petty arguments on Twitter and insulting people and being sarcastic and rude to people is not appropriate behavior for a Christian minister, who is supposed to emulate Jesus and be dignified and serious.

    By going around insulting people on Twitter, so-called “Christian” leaders such as Joe Carter and Owen Strachan reveal their true character, and it isn’t pretty.

    These attention-seeking pastors and other “Christian” influencers over-estimate their importance.

    Nobody really cares what they have to say.

    So instead of spending hours on Twitter bloviating and arguing with people every day, these pastors should spend more time being humble and trying to follow Jesus’ Teachings.

    I have noticed some things the Christian ministers who I most respect and admire: none of them have Twitter accounts, none of them lead megachurches, none of them are ever on TV, none of them are writing pompous articles for The Gospel Coalition or T4G, none of them are constantly talking down to “average” Christians and bossing people around, none of them are constantly hawking “bestselling” books full of bad advice, and none of them live in mansions.

    As I have commented before, what modern Christian leadership (especially evangelical leadership) needs is humility.

    It’s time for these “Christian” leaders to stop chasing fame, attention, wealth, and power.

    It’s time for them to start actually following Jesus’ Teachings.

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  23. Max: That came in with the New Calvinist movement … young pastors fresh out of seminary who picked young elders of same age … dudebro yes-men … all of them too inexperienced to lead a church … none of them with enough spiritual sense to blow the dust off a peanut.You can find them in most communities hanging out together at a coffee shop tweeting their lives away and not having enough time to minister to church members in need of prayer, in the hospital, or dying in a nursing home.

    The nasty Robert Morris had the nerve to tell his congregation not to seek an appointment with him, because he is busy talking to God and he is too busy to meet with them.

    The narcissism on display is unbelievable.

    Individuals such as Morris are the total and complete OPPOSITE of Jesus Christ.

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  24. Commenter23: The narcissism on display is unbelievable.

    Individuals such as Morris are the total and complete OPPOSITE of Jesus Christ.

    Exactly. See my comment on “nepotism” at Todd Wilhelm’s new post.

    The codependency of the pastor and his followers is palpable during the videos Wilhelm put up on his post. Pastor goes on and on about his brain stuff, his family background, he has a cold, etc. This is church? Teaching? Preaching? All-about-me-ism.

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  25. Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    Sometimes you must stay in it not for yourself but for others. Re-hiring Mark Sellers was a known issue, and the happenstance of it occurring in 2020 could easily be tied to the fact the elders who were vocal advocates against even considering re-hiring Mark were no longer in their positions at that time.

    I think what is the most worrisome, and worth discussing, is that per the church’s timeline they sent to members. As of 5:00pm on Monday, May 13th the elders had been presented credible evidence of Mark’s heinous acts. Now at this point, an organization of any worth would at a minimum suspend an employee pending the outcome of an investigation, but most would probably choose to fire them on the spot. What did Summit Crossing do? They allowed Mark to remain in his influential capacity for NINE DAYS! It has been said he was even seen in the children’s area on Sunday, May 19th, which probably could be corroborated by video from Summit Crossing if they choose to. They have (not so) hidden cameras everywhere in the building. NINE DAYS.

    Now, leadership claims that the police instructed/requested them to not inform Mark while they gathered evidence. Summit Crossing is an autonomous organization, not beholden to law enforcement. Summit Crossing would not be obstructing justice for immediately firing an employee for cause. (Sending sexually explicit texts to minors while employed by a church seems like a good cause.) It is the police’s job to build the case. The police know it’s not impossible to retrieve data that has been scrubbed from a computer, and Summit Crossing should too with the number of tech-savvy members and attenders this church has thanks its proximity to Redstone Arsenal.

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  26. Commenter23: what modern Christian leadership (especially evangelical leadership) needs is humility

    Humility is a good start to be followed by “pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

    Humility is in extremely short supply in New Calvinist ranks, particularly. Arrogance is the overriding characteristic of their movement. So don’t expect any forgiveness or healing soon amongst that bunch.

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  27. Ava Aaronson: Exactly. See my comment on “nepotism” at Todd Wilhelm’s new post.

    The codependency of the pastor and his followers is palpable during the videos Wilhelm put up on his post. Pastor goes on and on about his brain stuff, his family background, he has a cold, etc. This is church? Teaching? Preaching? All-about-me-ism.

    Seems these so-called pastors are the real whiny snowflakes, not those who point out the problems. Projection it is called.

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  28. dbcooper,

    I’m afraid my big mouth and my temper might have gotten the better of me in a situation like that. Congrats for have the self-control to stick around.

    As for church leaders claims that law enforcement told them to remain hush-hush and let a child predator roam freely …. among their children???……. No, I’m not buying their claims. The only way law enforcement officers/investigation team worth half their salt would ever let a predator roam freely around multiple potential young targets is if and only if they had people on the inside watching the predator’s every move.
    (Besides, why would Sellers have to be roaming around freely on site for nine days cor police to “gather evidence” when they already had “credible evidence”?)

    Nine days….. leaving a known wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing to roam freely in the sheep fold, and waiting to see if anyone happens to see blood on the ground???

    So, did leaders allow investigators free access to their autonomous property? Did they voluntarily give investigators access to data?? I doubt it. If they did, why wouldn’t they be reassuring church members by telling them that their children were being watched over and protected by law enforcement officers the whole time during the investigation?

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  29. Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    As someone who has been a victims of a horrendous crime and in involved with the Alabama justice system from local sheriff dept, county DA, and ALEA, I can 100% see any organization being asked to not fire an employee to assist with the investigation. The average certain would assume law enforcement and justice system isn’t full flawed human beings. It is and they don’t always make the best or right decisions.

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  30. Nancy2(aka Kevlar),

    Here is the official church statement:

    “At the request of the investigator, Mark Sellers remained employed while the police were investigating the reports. Summit Crossing was advised not to fire or tip off Mark Sellers by terminating him. Doing so could be considered obstructing the investigation. Having Mark Sellers on church property during the investigation put our church in a very difficult situation. Matthew Wilson was in daily communication with Detective Taylor-Duncan on the status of the investigation. During this time, either our Executive Director and Elder(s) were near and/or observed Mark Sellers at all times while on church property.”

    I’d be real interested to here from the Madison City Police department why they think firing an employee who violated their terms of employment could be seen as obstruction.

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  31. Commenter23: The nasty Robert Morris had the nerve to tell his congregation not to seek an appointment with him, because he is busy talking to God and he is too busy to meet with them.

    And GOD is So Lucky to have him.

    Reminds me of this one MOMM (“Master of Mighty Magick/occult fanboy) in local fandom years ago. Except instead of God, he was always talking to Merlin, Bast, Odin, or a “Lord Theos of Lost Atlantis”. All of whom praised MOMM for His Mighty Powers and how He Was The Best Apprentice They Had Ever Had. (Even if Morgan LaFey DID keep coming back after MOMM defeated her several times on the Astral Plane…)

    As you’ve all probably guessed, he was the only one who believed all this. To everyone else, he was just an annoying running joke. I think he ended up in a group home/care facility; the last sighting of him was several years ago on Facebook.

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