"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Lessons in Dealing with a Disgruntled Member

This post is a personal testimony. It is offered as an illustration on how to deal with a disgruntled member or member(s) of a large church. There are those who say that no church member ought to express opposition to the pastor's decisions. Some say that the pastor is the Lord's anointed, and to question his ministry, or his decision making, or his integrity is simply rebellion against God.

Not so. No pastor is beyond the scope of scrutiny. Further, it is not the questioning of the pastor that is the problem. Rather, it is the response of the pastor to the questions that is often the problem. Many pastors, whether it be for personal insecurity reasons, fear of exposure, or a false understanding of "church unity," will deal harshly with those who question their leadership. This post is offered as an example of how a pastor and church can deal with a disgruntled member in an effective manner.

Secret Meetings and Secret Complaints

There was man at Emmanuel who was not happy with the hiring of a particular staff member. He felt that the staff member displayed personal qualities unbecoming of a pastor (i.e. "impatience," "sarcasm," etc . . .), and the disgruntled member and his wife began to meet with three or four other families to "pray" for this staff member and our church. During the meetings which were held at the home of the dissatisfied member, other issues began to be discussed, issues involving me personally. The leader of the group felt that the hiring of this staff member reflected poorly on my pastoral leadership. Others began to question my salary and ask if the Senior Pastor was making too much money. A couple of the church members had heard that I was a member of the local Country Club and wondered if the church gave me that benefit, etc . . . They decided that they would meet on a regular basis, invite others to join them, and pray for our church.

Eventually someone told me about the meetings. Immediately, there was a mental decision that I had to make. Were these disgruntled members who were questioning my decisions, salary and benefits, and other matters as important to the Lord's kingdom as those church members who express appreciation for my pastoral leadership? I gave an immediate "yes" to that question in my mind.

As a result, I had to ask myself a second question: How can I affirm the people who were secretly meeting and how can I encourage them spiritually, while at the same time not reacting defensively to either their attitude or their questions? The person who had told me about the meetings had been invited himself to attend, and he knew that the group was going to ask others to come and be a part the following Friday. There was obviously an intentional effort to make the dissident group larger. Yet, I had to settle in my mind and heart that my goal could never be to prevent, control or dominate these people in any form or fashion. Jesus came to set people free, and that means disgruntled church members should be free to dissent and disagree with their pastor - and tell others of it! And, I should be free to accept it as from the Lord. It's a little like King David when Shemei was cursing him and Abishai, David's servant said, "Shall I go cut that dead dog's head off?" King David said, "Let him alone. God has bidden him to speak." As pastor, I see every event, even the difficult ones, as God refining my character.

Compassion, not Confrontation

I decided the best way to approach the disgruntled member was to personally contact him and let him know that I knew of the meetings, and that I affirmed all the members' rights to participate. Further, I determined that I would volunteer to meet with them, if they desired, to try to answer all questions they felt important. I also wanted to express my appreciation for their prayers for our church.

And that is what I did. Nobody else was involved. Just me. I expressed to the disgruntled member all of the above and told him I would be more than happy to attend the next meeting and answer any and all questions if he would like, believing that it is always best to communicate directly when there are differences or disagreements.

The disgruntled church member was a little taken aback. Later he told me that he was most surprised at my affirmation that he and the group had every right to meet. He also was taken aback at my expressions of love for him, especially knowing that I knew he was attempting to lead a growing group of dissidents to question my leadership. He would later tell me that this knowledge did not diminish the love and grace I displayed for him personally, and that this was what most impressed him.

Transparency, not Terseness

During our conversation I sought to answer any and all questions he had. We talked about the hiring of the staff member and I explained the process under which he was hired and assured him that any concerns he might have about a pastor at Emmanuel not relating with church members in a gracious manner was an important concern. I shared with him how that particular issue had already been addressed with the staff member in question and how it would continue to be addressed if needed. We then discussed my salary. Our church places all salaries into one lump sum when the budget is presented, and Emmanuel's Finance Committee had made this a practice long before I came as pastor. My preference would be that all salaries be broken out individually within the annual budget, but I have been overruled by the Finance Committee members. However, it is church policy, and a wise one at that, that ANY member who desires to know the salaries of staff members, including the pastor, only has to ask. He demurred and said he really didn't wish to know, but I told him my salary and benefits anyway, believing it was an important question for him to have answered and he was just too embarrassed to ask me.

Then we talked about my membership at the Country Club. I told him that the church does pay the $300 monthly dues, but I pay all my expenses, including meals and guest fees. I also explained that I knew in Enid that some might view my membership at the Country Club as exclusive, but we had a very particular reason for the membership - the people there need Christ as much as the poor. I related how I had been able to build multiple relationships through meeting peole at Oakwood Country Club, and had been asked by many non-churched Enidites to perform funerals for family members, had been able to lead several to faith in Christ, and through my contacts, many Christian family members had become members of Emmanuel. I also told him I loved the golf course (a Perry Maxwell course, no less!).

He laughed a little with me and we discussed a few more issues, and I spent about an hour talking with him about any and all his concerns. I ended the conversation in this manner:

"I may have not been able to answer your questions completely, and even if I have, you still may not agree with my decision making. Please know that your disagreement with the pastor of Emmanuel is not only all right, it is healthy. The main thing you should know is that you have every right to question me, and even if you think I make too much money, shouldn't be a member of the Country Club, or shouldn't have led the Personnel Committee to hire a particular staff member, our disagreement will never be, in any form or fashion, an impediment to me loving you and being a pastor to you. Feel free to relay what we have discussed to those you are meeting with, and know that you have my complete support in continuing to meet. You can invite anyone and everyone you desire to join you, and if you have more questions, I will be happy to come meet with you. If, after evaluation, you feel you can't worship with us because of a disagreement, please know that you have our blessing and full support to join another sister church and we will recommend you with Christian love and grace. Bottom line, I'm never above questioning, nor are you are ever beyond my desire to see our mutual walk with Christ strengthened."

The man teared up a bit. Thanked me for visiting with him, and we parted.

When Leadership Cares About People

Two weeks later, in church, he stopped me. He thanked me for taking the time to contact him, expressing his sorrow he had not contacted me before he had talked with others. He thanked me for answering his questions and addressing his concerns and said that after listening to me preach for 15 years he should have known that I would have responded with grace and transparency to any questions he had. He then expressed his love for me and mentioned how much he respected me. He said the group was no longer meeting, and all of them voiced at their last meeting that they wanted their families to be a part of a church where leaders affirmed them, even when they disagreed.

To this day, this man and the three or four families that met with him those few times remain faithful members of Emmanuel.

Application

I have called Dr. Mac Brunson at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. I left my cell phone number with his personal secretary. I have also called Rev. Blount and left messages for he and A.C. Soud, Chairman of the Trustees of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. My intention is to ask these men a few questions and offer my encouragement to them as a brother in Christ and fellow Southern Baptist pastor. None of them has called me back, but if and when one does, I will treat him in the same manner I did my own church member. Many conjecture that my calls will not be returned. Others wonder why in the world I would make events at FBC Jacksonville my business. I do for one reason only. I made a promise three years ago that should I ever hear of a Southern Baptist experiencing some kind of spiritual or emotional abuse by a denominational or church leaders, I would not be silent and I would do what could be done to help the one being abused who was without "power."

In 2007, an anonymous and disgruntled long time member of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida began a blog called FBC Jax Watchdog. This man had several financial questions, voiced many criticisms of pastoral leadership decisions, and made known his deep concerns over sweeping bylaw changes - all of which he documented. I understand that there are always two sides to every story, and perspectives will be different over these issues depending on whom you visit with from FBC. The issue for me, however, is whether or not a Southern Baptist churchman has freedom to raise questions of leaders, or does he fear retribution if he does. Some have repeatedly and quite viciously taken Watchdog to task for his desire to remain anonymous. I've challenged him on this issue as well, and the Watchdog admits that he has made mistakes out of fear for what would be done to him if his identity were known. But the point of this post is neither to question or defend Watchdog's anonymity or his decision to make known to others his criticisms of leadership at FBC. I have no opinion on the merits of the latter. The point of this post is to question those in power - the leadership of FBC Jacksonville - as to why they took the approach they did when they discovered what a disgruntled church member was doing.

In short, the question to leaders at FBC Jacksonville is a simple one: "Why did you take such a hardball approach with Watchdog?"

Make no mistake, the leadership of FBC Jacksonville knows who the Watchdog is. A subpoena was issued to the internet provider that required the revelation of the identify of the owner of the Watchdog blog. Knowing that such a request for a subpoena would have to include allegations of criminal intent, I have asked the question of A.C. Soud, Rev. Blount and Pastor Brunson if whether or not what some deacons at FBC have shared with others is true - that the allegation against Watchdog (before they knew who he was) was that he was stalking Mrs. Brunson and stealing the Brunson's mail. Again, criminal activity must be alleged for a judge to grant a subpoena for an internet provider to identify the owner of a particular blog. You can't just shut down somebody's right to write anonymously on a blog, even if you don't like what they are writing, because such a right is protected by the First Amendment. What's worse, however, would be for someone to artificially create criminal intent in order to get information regarding a protected identity. But instead of assuming accuracy in the deacons' information of what happened, I would like to ask the ones involved in obtaining the subpoena. Ironically, the Chairman of the Trustees at FBC Jacksonville is retired Florida Circuit Judge A.C. Soud. Further, regardless of how leadership at FBC Jacksonville obtained the identity of the Watchdog, the concern of this post is not with the manner in which they obtained it, but rather, what did FBC leadership do once they discovered who Watchdog was?

Did they go and visit with the man and his family? Did they seek to provide some spiritual encouragement to him? Did they choose to try to answer his questions? Did they attempt to affirm him and his family for their years of service at FBC Jacksonville? Did they display Christian love and grace? Did they affirm them as Christian people and members of the church? My understanding is that FBC church leaders did none of the above but in fact, took the following actions:

(1). Leadership issued a court ordered trespass warning, barring the Watchdog and his family from entering the premises of the church.
(2). Leadership led the church to pass a resolution, led by retired judge A.C. Soud, that no church member shall be publicly critical of church leadership, and werer a member to violate that resolution, the member shall be "confronted" with their gross sin and disciplined publicly.
(3). Leadership went behind behind closed doors with the deacons and others and accused the Watchdog of inappropriate behavior (stalking, videotaping, stealing) without ever sitting down with the Watchdog himself to inform him of their allegations.
(4). Leadership also made phone calls to the church where the Watchdog has joined to "warn" the church of this man and his family.
(5). Leadership chose to make the issue Watchdog's "character" rather than answering the Watchdog's "questions."

The really sad thing to me is that the man in question is a long time, faithful member of FBC Jacksonville who has had family in the church for decades. He is highly educated, respected in the community, and has been faithful in service for years. In my opinion, church leaders are abusive when they attempt to shut down disagreement in the manner that seems to have been taken by the leadership of FBC Jacksonville.

Things must change in our Convention, our denominational agencies and our churches. Real leadership serves, not dominates. Real leadership affirms, not denigrates. Real leadership can withstand criticism, because real leadership is confident their actions can withstand scrutiny.

I am hopeful that other Southern Baptist church leaders and pastors can learn from the two different examples of disgruntled church members given above. What the Southern Baptist Convention needs at this hour are leaders who are servants, desiring to help people in their walk with Christ. Too many of us are "professional" ministers who are concerned with our careers and have lost sight of the fact that our careers actually have names. How should leadership deal with disgruntled members?

The answer to that question will go a long way toward making our Convention and our churches what we should be.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

155 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wade:

1. Excellent illustration of how to handle what you faced. Good job!!!

2. You are correct. We should not have a culture in which decisions are questioned. Everyone should face questions, especially in leading a non-profit, semi-pubic organization like a church.

Just because an idea or practice comes from a pastor, doesn't make it right.

I really do believe that our churches could benefit from some education in this area.

3. Good policy on the salaries. Your committee is correct, I think.

4. A real tough test would be if a group of your members went on and on about your country club membership and would not shut up about it. It seems like you handled it well, and the member with whom you spoke handled it well. I hope it always goes for you like that. The tough part is "What if it doesn't?"

5. I am strictly staying away from "who is right an who is wrong" in this. But your point is a good one - between the parties, the church always has more to lose in acting over-aggressivley. I am not saying they have here, knowing that you feel otherwise. It is a tough question, however.

6. Despite your intentions or motives here (which I am believing are genuine), I do not think that FBC or its leadership would want to get involved in speaking about this to those outside their fellowship, other than to say, pray for us and the Watchdog.

7. Hope the Watchdog likes his new church and that he and his family thrive there.

Louis

Joe Blackmon said...

Ok, see, here's the thing---making the kind of statements and accusations the Dawg has made and doing so anonymously is biblically indefenseable. Period. There is no way anyone can justify HOW he has done what he has done from the Bible. The ends do not justify the means.

Wayne Smith said...

Wade,

Thanks for sharing the example of Christian Love from a Pastor for the Sheep that He is Held Accountable for, by The Great Shepherd Jesus Christ. May God continue to use you to shine a light into all these Dark Places that bring a poor Refection on God’s Church. We just need more Spirit Filled Christians on these Blogs to let the light Shine. I repent of my Sins each night as I know I have committed Many each day. Therefore I am new every morning, Fresh with the Love of the Lord.

Wayne

Wade Burleson said...

Dawg,

You keep mentioning "accusations" that Dawg has made. If you mean changing bylaws, placing wife and son on staff, receiving a land gift of $350,000, etc . . . those are not "accusations" - it is simply a recounting of what has happened.

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

I think you meant to address the comment to "Joe". Of course, I could be mistaken.

The Dawg is not simply making a statement that the pastor was given a gift of land. He makes the accusation that for him to have accepted that gift was wrong. He doesn't recount that Mac's wife is on staff, he makes the accusation the it is inappropriate for her to be on staff.

On a side note, I think it's pretty stupid for someone to take the position of senior pastor at a church and then hire his family for staff positions. Bad idea.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

Thanks for the correction. You are correct, I meant "Joe" in the comment above, not "Dawg."

Joe, you write:

Dawg makes the accusation that for him to have accepted that gift was wrong.

Joe, let me repeat the point of my post. I am not arguing ONE WAY OR THE OTHER of whether or not Mac Brunson should have received the gift, should have changed the bylaws, should have hired his wife and son --- those are decisions made by church leadership at FBC Jacksonville.

MY POINT IS THAT MEMBERS OUGHT TO BE ALLOWED TO DISAGREE, and church leaders should receive the disagreement with grace, be absolutely transparent in every single business action of the church, and should NEVER CONTROL, MANIPULATE OR THREATEN people who disagree with decisions made.

My point is real leadership can handle criticism because they are comfortable with their actions and what God thinks of them.

In His Grace,

Wade

P.S. Joe, just a little aside to help you relate to people. If you choose to condemn someone like the Dawg by saying: The Dawg is not simply making a statement that the pastor was given a gift of land. He makes the accusation that for him to have accepted that gift was wrong! then you might wish to avoid comments like the following:

I think it's pretty stupid for someone to take the position of senior pastor at a church and then hire his family for staff positions. Bad idea.

You have just done what you condemn Dawg from doing.

I am arguing both of you have the right to do it, and Christian leaders should be comfortable with whatever criticisms come their way.

Wade Burleson said...

Louis,

You wrote: I do not think that FBC or its leadership would want to get involved in speaking about this to those outside their fellowship, other than to say, pray for us and the Watchdog.

I agree. But, it cannot be said I have not contacted them first.

My point in posting is to call attention to a systemic problem in our churches, a climate of spiritual elitism where some believe they should be beyond the scrutiny and criticism of either board members or church members.

And, I believe all of us, including laymen, should be first of all people of grace.

wade

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Even if you're absolutely correct in your statement that "making the kind of statements and accusations the Dawg has made and doing so anonymously is biblically indefenseable. Period.", shouldn't SOMEONE from the church offer him a loving hand (instead of one holding a trespass warning)?

I would hope that even if I was completely in the wrong that my own gracious pastor would still extend a hand of friendship to at least TRY to reconcile the relationship.

Charles Brazeale
Neosho, MO

Anonymous said...

I have never seen southern baptists handle situations with either love or grace. Hope someone else has. C. T.

Christiane said...

Dear C.T.

I have: my grandmother, of blessed memory.
Grandfather had a farm in Virginia and so Grandmother was a farmer's wife during the Depression and fed hungry people who came to her kitchen door. She invited them in and served them their meal with her own hands, and then she sat down with them, while they ate. No one was ever turned away.

And they were sent away with food for their families.

When I think about what it means to be a Christian, she comes to mind first.

I honor her memory. L's

Thy Peace said...

Anonymous said...
12:17 anon....i am very very concerned if false accusations were used to get the identity of this blogger (watchdog). Who in their right mind wouldn't be concerned? That is the story of this blog right now, not WHAT was said in this blog, but the RESPONSE that it is producing. I am concerned more than most maybe, having been the victim of false false false and ruinous accusations in the past by a southern baptist church. That's why i am watching this currently every day on the internet that Ihave access to a computer. False accusations stick. They do. For years. Im not kidding. I speak from experience. Just throw it out there and watch it stick and then watch the repercussions. Could be something that is so far from the truth that it wasn't even in the persons conception to do, but i PROMISE you, in about one minute, you can be painted with that brush for eternity. I PROMISE YOU. Especially if your accuser is a church and a pastor. I would love to write a letter and ask someone at that church (FBC Jax)if this is true that they went to this level. I would love to find out if the only church I trusted enough to join in a long long time...(i have since left) really has thrown false accusations at somebody to get their IP number. PLEASE tell me it isn't true. There is a lot of good, sound doctrine that is preached at FBC Jax. Thats the best thing I can say about it. I am sure there are a lot of good things about it. But this is getting really hairy right about now. I would love to ask questions, but I did that once before, and somehow mysteriously my email got banned from that church faster than you could say, uh, mcdonalds. And I never got an explanation why. At that time, I was still a member, and going to counseling there. No more. Cause I didn't understand, and don't to this day. Did my email get banned because I asked a question about what the pastor said in a sermon? Well, gee, what do you think is happening to people who ask a question about whats going on on this infamous blog? I wouldn't want to be a member there and have a question at this point.

Sometimes I still watch this church on TV. Last Sunday they had a man sing a song about never sayin a mumblin word. How does a trespass order and a banning of a member fit that? I wondered at the time.....(in other words, if Jesus never said a word about people who did the things they did to Him...well.....this was just a BLOG after all.)
Like I said, its not the Watchdog, his charges against the church, the Brunsons, the this or the that Im watching. It's the church's response. The churches way of obtaining info on the blogger. The churches charges against the blogger. The watchdog had problems, I'll grant you that. But if anybody thinks Im going to start calling him a stalker and a thief without PROOF, this is the wrong person to pull that trick on.
And I'd sign my name, but I have a family member at this church, and they really don't like this blog, and they don't read it, and they have specifically requested that I never use my name on here if Im going to read it, and I am not signing my real name out of respect for them. Lets just say im a TOTALLY DISILLUSIONED PERSON WITHOUT A CHURCH.

MARCH 3, 2009 3:09 PM

Jeff said...

Wade, This was one your best posts. Thanks for sharing.

Thy Peace said...

Letter to Discipline Committee - And a Fitting Irony

Below is the letter the accused has sent today to the Discipline Committee via John Blount...asking for full disclosure of all charges against the accused, including disclosure of allegations made against the accused regarding criminal action that were stated in front of the deacons. The accused is also asking for confirmation of whether a court order was obtained in order to find the identity the owner of the Watchdog. Some deacons have claimed that these allegations were made to the deacons on 2/23/09.

Would it not be ironic if its discovered that the Discipline Committee and Trustees took legal action and went to a judge to obtain a court order to confirm the identity of the Watchdog...when the church leadership, just a year earlier changed the church bylaws to declare that all members forfeit their right to take any legal action against the church.

As I have blogged before, the intent of the legal action prohibition clause in the bylaws may have been to make it extremely difficult for any member to obtain a court order to have access to financial records of the church. Amazing: members can't take any legal action against the church for any reason, but the church, in its zeal to silence a blog that the believed was hurting the church, may have used legal action to gain access into the private records of a church member - not to be able to minister and reach out to said member, but in order to know who they can issue trespass warnings to and ban them from the church. If they did get a court order, it will be quite interesting to see what legal basis was argued to gain access to the Internet records. Not to mention how interesting it will be to see WHO did this.

Meanwhile we'll wait to hear from John Blount.

And check out a new article at Wade Burleson's blog contrasting methods of handling disgruntled church members.

Here is the email:

"Hello Reverend Blount:

Now that the discipline committee has completed their investigation, made their report to the deacons, and to the church through the official statement read by Judge A.C. Soud, Jr. and ratified by the church, I am awaiting the letter summarizing the deacon's proposed action against me, which you are compelled to send me in accordance with Article XIV of the church bylaws.

As I have requested numerous times since you and Rev. King delivered my wife and I the November 28th letter and trespass warnings, I once again insist that the discipline committee explain the basis of the allegations - that is, exactly how was I singled out, and "positively identified" as the owner of fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com blog site.

I have received credible information that other totally false and harmful and potentially slanderous allegations were made against me, in addition to those in the November 28th letter, at the 2/23 deacons meeting, including:

- that I have been accused of stalking or videotaping Mrs. Brunson while she was jogging; and

- that I have been accused of stealing the Brunson's personal mail or email.

Some that were present at the meeting have said the deacons were told the State's Attorney has been contacted by the church and that the church pursued a court order to obtain our private records from Google and/or Comcast.

As former church members who have been pursued by the discipline committee at FBC Jacksonville, we believe it right for the committee to disclose all allegations and relevant information gathered by the discipline committee about us that was used as a basis for the actions taken. Since this information is now spread amongst the membership harming our reputation, we need to know exactly the nature of all allegations against us, and what person brought those allegations against us, so that we may clear our name with our friends and family at FBC Jax. We believe this fair especially considering we were not given an opportunity to speak openly and freely without interruption to the deacons that evening. We will now take every opportunity we have available, by whatever legal means necessary, to clear our name. But first we need to know the nature of all allegations, and the basis of those allegations.

We also would like to know if the trespass warnings issued to my wife and I on November 28, 2008 are still in effect, and if so what action must be taken by us to have them removed so that at some time in the future we may worship the Lord Jesus Christ at FBC Jax as the Spirit leads us.

We await your prompt reply."

Anonymous said...

Wade,

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing it. I really liked the way you handled the situation.

Does the principle you're advocating for dealing with a disgruntled member include praying through and giving serious consideration to whether the person's concerns might be valid and therefore necessitate changes on the part of the leader?

It's one thing to say, "You're free to disagree with me. Here's why I and/or the church did what we did. Here's the rationale for the decisions."

It's quite another to say, "You're free to disagree with me. Here's why I and/or the church did what we did. Here's the rationale for the decisions. But you bring up some valid points that I haven't fully thought through before. We might need to revisit some of these decisions in light of what you've shared with me."

Matt

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

You indicated that the Dawg (I use that as a shorthand of FBCJaxWatchdog because it's so stinkin' long. Typing "Dawg" is much quicker) was not makeing any accusations but was just stating facts. He did not just state facts-he made accusations.

Further, the difference between what the Dawg has done and what I said is I put my name to my comments. Also, while I personally think hiring your family into positions like that is, well, stupid, I'm not alleging any sort of inpropriety on Mac's part. I'm not questioning his ethics or his integrity. I therefore dismiss your suggestion that what I said and what the Dawg has alleged are the same thing.

As an aside, I'm not saying that I'm a big ol' Brunson fan or that I'm comfortable with that style of leadership. Further, if the Dawg were to put his name to his opinions I would have narry a problem with what he is saying. I totally agree that leaders can and should be open to criticism. Like James T. Kirk said "It's part of the risk if you want to sit in that chair".

Darby Livingston said...

Wade, thanks for the post, it is very enlightening for those of us still wet behind the ears. One question:

When does the desire for any pastor to humbly allow for disagreement (which I agree with) bump up against his responsibility to confront sin (isn't what your dear members did gossip and slander?)

Granted, you proved the proverb true that a soft answer turns away wrath. Would you consider your private offer to answer the questions of the group a wise method of confronting the gossip/ slander? Kind of "killing two birds with one stone?" This is a sincere question, not a challenge to what you did. Thanks.

it is written said...

Thank You again Pastor Wade..I've only been a Pastor a short time but you have taught me a valuable lesson in dealing with disgruntled members...I now consider you another of my mentors from afar...God bless you and I will pray for you and your ministry always as I wish you will pray for me and my ministry...Thanks Agains!!!!!!!

Thy Peace said...

Thank you Pastor Wade. It's good to know that there are Pastors who sincerely care for the welfare of their members and not afraid to answer the members questioning.

Wade Burleson said...

Matt,

Bingo.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Darby,

Gossip is a sin. However, the Bible says, "Love covers a multitude of sins." I do believe that meeting with others and discussing grievances about me, without coming to me first, was a sin. But, I decided to "cover" that sin and love the people anyway. What I mean by that is I considered it to be a greater evil for me not to listen to the concerns of my members than them discussing among themselves their concerns.

I did, after it was all over, encourage them to remember that next time, it would be healthy to come to me first!

They said, "Absolutely!" and assured me that they would, having no fear of how I might respond to them sharing their concerns.

Wade

Darby Livingston said...

Thank you. You answered my question completely. I get it.

JSH said...

Wade,

When I read this post, one truth comes tomind: Proverbs 26:17.

JS Houston

Wade Burleson said...

JSH,

When I read your comment, this verse came to mind:

Jeremiah 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Thy Peace said...

I recently started listening to Pastor Wade's sermons titled The Long Reach of Your Speech. I can see this post reverberating through those sermons. Very well done sermons. I would encourage all of us to listen to it and learn from it. I am finding that it's easy to listen, but practicing it is hard, and it takes time, persistence and help from The Holy Spirit.

B Nettles said...

Darby Livingston wrote: When does the desire for any pastor to humbly allow for disagreement (which I agree with) bump up against his responsibility to confront sin (isn't what your dear members did gossip and slander?)

There is no bump. I believe that Wade did confront the man in a humble, pastoral, restorative way. He gave the man an out, saying [my paraphrase], "I know you're having these meetings. I'll be glad to help make sure that what you're saying is correct by answering the questions you have. Keep meeting, because I need the accoutability."

The purpose of confronting sin is restoration of the believer. If Wade had thrown an accusation (even truthful) back in the man's face, wouldn't that have been the same behavior the man had exhibited? The example of Christ is that the good shepherd gives up his life for the sheep. And a good pastor doesn't tell one of his sheep to go find another flock, unless he (the pastor) doubts the sovereign goodness of God.

B Nettles said...

Darby,

I wasn't trying to outdo Wade's response.

Part of the problem with Wade's blog is that it takes so blooming long to read through the comment stream. By the time I got to the bottom and typed my response, Wade had answered you, and I hadn't refreshed the comment stream.

All the Best,
Bill

Garen Martens said...

Wade, Knowing who you are, I would have expected you to handle the disgruntled member exactly as you did. You never cease to amaze me with your insight on how to handle every situation. We love Emmanuel and the training we receive there.

Thy Peace said...

Pastor Wade, it might be healthy for all in SBC for you to do period posts on Lessons in Pastoring. This will counterbalance what is being practiced today. Just a thought.

Darby Livingston said...

Bill, thanks.

ml said...

Wade, I really appreciate hearing your pastor's heart as you vividly illustrate the truths of one of my favorite pastoral passages--2 Timothy 2:24-26. While I do believe it is not right to entertain an allegation of misconduct without two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19), there are times when opposition is not about falsely accusing someone; but, rather, simply not agreeing with decisions. Even when the opposition is done poorly, God's servant must let the right convincer do the work of bringing people to repentance. God is a much better convincer than a pastor will ever be even when the one who is in opposition may be held captive. At the same time, let's also remember that church discipline should always have an eye toward RESTORATION and healing, and not amputation of the body. Thanks for sharing your testimony.

Tom Bryant said...

It just shows how unreasonable and unjustifiable the leadership at FBC, Jacksonville are... they have not even returned a phone call from the one who has brought such peace and reconciliation to the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Dear It is Written,

This is an awkward way to contact you but having recently moved to Jacksonville I ask your assistance.

Can you recommend a good Church home? A Southern Baptist church?

From what I read, you are a young pastor and I would like to hear your sermons.

Many thanks,

New Man

Thy Peace said...

From what I read, you are a young pastor and I would like to hear your sermons.

Is this so, Fbc Jax can send trespass warnings to "It Is Written".

I have already been accused and warned and said they would gladly give trespass warnings to me, though I live far away.

PS: I hear, "It Is Written" does visit the Fbc Jax book store to get his supplies.

Tim said...

Tom Bryant,

I thank the Lord that there are men who actually try to make a difference. Were it not for men like Pastor Burleson, pastors who sit on the sidelines and snipe like you would let the average layman be eaten alive.

Anonymous said...

Wade - I have another example of a wise pastor who simply talked to a man that he was told was criticizing him: It was Dr. Jerry Vines a couple of years ago. Some background - don't forget that members did email Mac Brunson privately and asked him to kindly respond to some concerns they shared. He then made the issue about "anonymous emails" and that was his excuse for ignoring the legitimate questions. He then had Jerry Vines come in and use the esteemed speaking spot at the pastor's conference, to preach harshly against...guess what...high preacher salaries being necessary to pastor some difficult people, and then Vines actually made a spitting sound and motion towards anonmyous emails. Mac Brunson stood up and high-fived Vines during the message. Vines was very upset and bitter. And this was his FIRST return to FBC Jax since he had retired at the PC the previous year. So many of his former flock went downtown that night to see their beloved pastor of 23 years for the first time back and he used this opportunity to lash out and hurt the sheep for merely emailing Mac Brunson about some concerns.

Anyway, a blog post went up about what a complainer Mac was, and how he used and manipulated the name and reputation of Jerry Vines to do his bidding. And also, Vines was called out as being abusive, bitter and other non-complimentary things. Want to know how Vines handled it? He simply called the man he was told was the blogger (how they singled out this man is open to speculation, but the man was not entirely anonymous in his blogging) and left a message for the man to call him back. When the man called him back, Vines never mentioned the blog. He humbly and softly spoke with the man, encouraged the man and showed love and concern for the man. He asked about the man's wife and children, and basically began to explain the reasons he was "off his game" that night. He was basically humbling himself and apologizing for his harsh sermon. Again, he never mentioned anonymous emails, or blogs, or any criticism. He could have. Maybe he even should have. But he didn't. And guess what. That sermon was never purchased and put up on a blog. And Vines was never criticized again for that sermon. And those blogging realized that Jerry Vines is the real deal, despite his mega pastor status and despite an occasional mistake. Too bad Dr. Vines can't get Mac to follow his lead by acting with class and kindness and love towards his sheep.

Mac has brought all of this on himself. He drew a line in the sand on anonymous emails and literally asked for the emailers to blog. He was not going to respond to their emails, even after some signed the questions. Then he acted as if the blog was like a beauty shop full of gossips, then he acted as if it had no credibility due to it being written by an anonymous coward, then he acted as if only one or two people were doing all the posting and commenting, and now....well now he seems to be concerned with it.

Imagine, Mac not being able to put up with ONE single man in a mega church who disagrees with him. ONE man. ONE voice of dissent. So Mac and his yes men escalated this matter over two years and now seem to have really given the blog something to talk about.

Thanks for posting this. :)

Dienekes said...

Wade,

Very, very good.

I hereby move that we make the word "gospel" into a verb. As in, "Hey, Pastor Burleson up in Oklahoma had some unhappy members once, and he decided to gospel them. It turned out really well, the Lord was honored, and grace abounded all around!"

Thy Peace said...

To see another good example of Jerry Vines gracious response, look here. This is to do with John 3:16 conference and his reply to David Miller.

happy gram said...

C.T. said: "I have never seen southern baptists handle situations with either love or grace."

I have to agree wholeheartedly. The manner in which Wade dealt with a disgruntled member is refreshing and, sadly, should be taught to aspiring pastors. I sad 'sadly' because grace and love shouldn't HAVE to be taught to those in the ministry.

Thy Peace said...

I have to agree wholeheartedly. The manner in which Wade dealt with a disgruntled member is refreshing and, sadly, should be taught to aspiring pastors. I sad 'sadly' because grace and love shouldn't HAVE to be taught to those in the ministry.

Doctors and Nurses have similar problems, especially bed side manners and how to treat their patients with kindness and love and not rush them through to meet their HMO quotas. Sad. But true.

Thy Peace said...

Sorry for making too many comments.

Pastor Wade, here is a typo:

2). Leadership led the church to pass a resolution, led by retired judge A.C. Doud, that no church member shall be publicly critical of church leadership, and werer a member to violate that resolution, the member shall be "confronted" with their gross sin and disciplined publicly.

A.C. Doud ---> A.C. Soud

Thy Peace said...

Some cases where Google was issued subpoenas:

Blogger Subpoenaed

News-Star: "Holsten's Attorney Subpoenas Google"

A Bronx subpoena

Busting a Rogue Blogger

All the below links are from eff:

EFF Releases How-To Guide to Fight Government Spying

Bloggers' Rights

Free Speech

Privacy

Anonymous said...

It is noted that Mac and PP are 'good friends'.

Well, 'christians' tend to influence one another, don't they?

Both these men are 'fearful' of criticism and challenges to their 'authority'.

Problem is: if their 'authority' had come from God via the Holy Spirit, they would have no fear of any criticism or any challenges.

From WHAT is their 'authority' derived.

Please, don't say from the Bible.
Their actions prove otherwise.

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

Thanks. Not too many comments at all. You have some excellent things to say, great links, and I'm learning a great deal from your writing.

I'll go back and correct my typo. Thanks.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Garen,

Thanks for the comment! For those who don't know Garen, he and his lovely wife travel 40 miles one way every Sunday to attend worship at Emmanuel. They both are a blessing to their pastor!

New BBC Open Forum said...

Excellent post, Wade. However, I have a question about this:

"Further, regardless of how leadership at FBC Jacksonville obtained the identity of the Watchdog, the concern of this post is not with the manner in which they obtained it, but rather, what did FBC leadership do once they discovered who Watchdog was?"

Are you saying the means by which the church obtained information about the accused blogger, even if it was illegal or based on false and unsubstantiated claims of criminal activity, is (A) of no concern to you or (B) that it just isn't the focus of the current post? If it's B, I understand. If it's A, that would concern me greatly. Thanks.

it is written said...

Thanks Thy Peace for the warning..I get many of my resources from other places now..I find it difficult to patronize FBC Jax after how they treated Dr.Dog...New Man I don't know of many SBC Churches in Jax that I could recommend..Possibly North Jax Baptist with Pastor Dr.Herb Revis;;Westside Baptist with Pastor Keith Russell..There's one other that I heard of where the Pastor turned down an offering of money's from a man's lotto win;;Thy Peace may remember the Church and Pastor's name..My Ministry is not an SBC Church..

Thy Peace said...

"There's one other that I heard of where the Pastor turned down an offering of money's from a man's lotto win"

A Pastor Refuses Gift From Lottery Winnings

David Tarkington Speaks on The Gift...

FBC Orange Park

Christiane said...

Wade, that man, the one who distanced himself from you:
you went after him in the manner of a shepherd, and let him know that he, also, was necessary and indispensable, just as he was, even in his state of disagreement with you.

You told him that he mattered: his concerns, his feelings, and he himself, as one of your flock.

It was more than an affirmation.
It was a blessing,
and he knew it.
That's why he 'teared up'.

It was the blessing. :) L's


P.S.
I wonder, how many times we think troubled people present a difficulty to us, when all they really need is to be hugged and blessed?
And sometimes, we are the only ones they trust enough to act out against, because they know that we won't abandon them, no matter what.
Christianity gives us the permission to hug the ones who hurt us, and the bless the ones that curse us. There is something very healing about this, I think.

Anonymous said...

Relationships at church can be difficult, and especially for ministers.

Some years ago, the chairman of our church's pastor search committee apparently suspected that I had a problem with how a pastor candidate was being brought in view of a call. The chairman was correct--though I'd given no indication that I knew about that it was so. The chairman--about 30 years my senior--requested a meeting, and I told him I was happy to have an honest conversation; he took exception to my reference to "honest conversation" and lectured me in my office for about 20 minutes about it. I let him talk the entire time, acknowledging his points though not agreeing. When he had finished venting, I told him, "I appreciate the conversation, and your apparent concern for my stance on matters. I want you to know that anytime you have a concern about my view on things, I'm willing to speak with you about it because I want to be a growing Christian and I can be wrong. If you're right, I'll admit it; if you're wrong and intend to 'dish it out,' I want you to know that--as a grown man--I'm going to 'dish it' right back to you." Then, I told him my stance on how unethically--honestly--the search committee had handled things, and I concluded our meeting with a sincere prayer and a hand shake. The man definitely seemed not to have had anyone my age talk to him as boldly in quite a long time--if ever; it didn't matter, because WHAT IS RIGHT IS RIGHT. Today, that man and I are good friends (and the senior pastor candidate presented now serves our church; I didn't vote in favor of the motion to bring him because the circumstances weren't right, but we serve side-by-side everyday and consider each other friends).

I--as a Christian, a church member, and a fellow-pastor--expect nothing less than the response Wade indicates he gave to the difficult situation in his own church; and, not because Wade is Wade BUT because right is right. If I were a member--including an associate ministry staff member--of Wade's church and learned about the matter before him, I would have told him about the meetings and then said, "Get your coat while I go start the car; you're going to address this matter like Jesus would right now, brother" (or some equivalent with the same meaning).

Christians have NO CHOICE but to do what is right in every situation BECAUSE the Lord Jesus would do nothing less. Please, nobody say, "I'm a growing Christian" if this isn't the kind of thing you mean. And, NO ONE takes a back seat to anyone else in God's kingdom when it comes to pointing out the need when it arises--not to a big church pastor, not to a little church WMU director, not to anybody. We are family in the Lord, and God will have us behave like it one way or another!

"Respect the position of pastor, but the man in the position only if he deserves it" is a great principle to operate by. If the pastor is emotionally secure and spiritually growing, he'll try to live up to his high and holy calling--and admit it when he's wrong. If not, that church doesn't need him and should let him go. Period.

If the shoe fits, where it.

Alan Cross said...

Great post, Wade. What you exhibited here is exactly what I hope to have the maturity to demonstrate to my church. You are right when you say that spiritual abuse occurs when pastors do the opposite of what you did.

Thank you for the encouragement.

Thy Peace said...

A little time travel and reminiscing.

ThyPeace said...
Watchdog, I have been reading your blog for the past 2 months.

I have learnt very important issues concerning ALL christians from your site. They are not directly related to Dr. Brunson.

The first one is about Dr. Sheri Klouda. This is a tragic case, raising important issues whether women are allowed to teach AT ALL to men (scriptural or christian). It portrays Dr. Patterson in a very poor light and lot of southern baptists as going retrograde. I personally feel that women during the time of Christ were better treated than what has happened to Dr. Sheri Klouda.

I understand Dr. Brunson mentioned about what the defence lawyer told him ... it too is sad.

The second revelation is the sexual abuse by pastors. The current case of Darrell Gilyard ... is a process where all the checks and balances have run amok. The result is innocent women and children are sexually assaulted while being counselled. ALL the church leadership and deacons, WAKE UP. There is no need to stonewall, people who are bringing the charges. Just investigate them and do your job.

I also found your links to Christa Brown and Tiffany Craft very educational.

One final resource and wonderful discovery I made from your story of Dr. Sheri Klouda was about Pastor Wade Burleson. I have found his blog to be very refreshing and graceful. He is one in a million. Here is a preacher who can disagree with you objectively and gracefully with style.

I sincerely pray to god, for ALL bloggers to emulate Jesus. If not Jesus, atleast Wade Burleson.

Please bring some grace to our disagreements. We can still do it with objectivity and without name calling. I implore both Watchdog and supporters of Dr. Brunson to tone down the rhetoric and try to stick to points of disagreement.

AUGUST 16, 2008 6:50 PM

Steve said...

I just read a few posts and I have to say, I have NO problem with the Watchdog's anonymity. Our culture has too much history of punishing whistle-blowers to let this one fact get under your skin.

Anonymous said...

LENTEN REFLECTIONS
from Psalm 51

"11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart "

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC Open Forum,

It is (B). only.

If church leaders ever admit (A), then I make that the subject of another post.

I am waiting until they admit what the deacons have said happened.

Anonymous said...

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”


" Forgiveness involves absorbing the pain, hurt, and grief inflicted by another and refusing to lash out in return with violence, revenge, or hatred. Sin builds barriers to relationships. Forgiveness seeks to tear down these barriers. God’s forgiveness in Christ demonstrates how exceedingly painful it is to truly forgive another – a fact evidenced most clearly at the cross"

Anonymous said...

Wade,

You hit the nail right on the head about conflict and how you handled it. I am currently preaching a series from the book of James and this past Sunday, I preached from James 4:1-10. This passage is a basic "step by step" process of resolving conflict. James hammers the key to resolving conflict in verse 10: "Humble yourselves in the sight of God.." That is the key to resolving any conflict.

Pastor Brian Sherwood
Bluffton, SC

New BBC Open Forum said...

Glad to hear that, Wade. However, I don't think they'd ever admit to doing anything illegal or based on false allegations. I think the accused man is going to have to dig for that information, and if the FBC Jax powers-that-be were influential enough to obtain someone's private information in that way, they're influential enough to cover their tracks, too.

Thy Peace said...

" ... they're influential enough to cover their tracks, too."

Lot of times, hubris causes them to make LOTS of stupid mistakes. History is littered with examples of powerful/smart/intelligent/rich people who make these mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Dear It is Written,

First, thanks for responding. I very much appreciate it. I will look those you mention but would still like to hear you speak. I am not "stuck" with SBC alone.

Please don't deny me this opportunity.
Peace be with you,

NewMan

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,

I may have missed it but what ever came of your call to Pastor Brunson?

Can you shed any light on what is going on at FBCJ?

Thy Peace said...

I have called Dr. Mac Brunson at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. I left my cell phone number with his personal secretary. I have also called Rev. Blount and left messages for he and A.C. Soud, Chairman of the Trustees of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. My intention is to ask these men a few questions and offer my encouragement to them as a brother in Christ and fellow Southern Baptist pastor. None of them has called me back, but if and when one does, I will treat him in the same manner I did my own church member. Many conjecture that my calls will not be returned. Others wonder why in the world I would make events at FBC Jacksonville my business. I do for one reason only. I made a promise three years ago that should I ever hear of a Southern Baptist experiencing some kind of spiritual or emotional abuse by a denominational or church leaders, I would not be silent and I would do what could be done to help the one being abused who was without "power."

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC Open Forum,

I have a background in law enforcement and know that the Freedom of Information Act should provide recourse to Watchdog to discover who requested the subpoena, which judge granted it, and the alleged criminal basis upon which the subpoena was requested from GOOGLE and Comcast.

What is interesting to me is that FBC church leadership would have had to request the subpoena before they knew the identity of Watchdog. I believe it is a very, very serious offense to allege criminal conduct for the purpose of obtaining information about a person who is writing things you do not like. Of course, it would be difficult to prove church leadership fabricated the criminal basis for the subpoena because they could always say the pastor's wife WAS being followed or the pastor's mail WAS being stolen --- but it wasn't by the man who they discovered was the WATCHDOG through the information provided them through GOOGLE and Comcast by order of the court subpoena.

But (and this is a big but; pardon the expression) - if church leadership actually did allege criminal conduct to the courts in order to obtain the subpoena, and if they did discover the identity of Watchdog through the subpoena, then church leadership might have stumbled big time if they did the following:

(1). First, they used the information obtained through the subpoena to place a no trespass order on the Watchdog and his family. They then are admitting that the basis for which they obtained the subpoena (criminal conduct) is true.

(2). Second, if they informed others, including deacons, that the person they have identified as WATCHDOG was stalking the pastor's wife and stealing their mail, then they have accused a man of criminal conduct without ever going to the man himself (whatever happended to Matthew 18?)

If those two things were done, as is being reported by some FBC Deacons who were in the meeting last Monday night, then church leadership has very likely crossed a clear boundary of the law in order to silence dissent.

And, if it can be proved that the above actually occurred, then church leadership may have much greater problems on their hands than the Watchdog's blog.

We'll see.

Wade

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thy Peace,

Notice I said "influential," not bright. :-)

New BBC Open Forum said...

"I have a background in law enforcement... "

Which reminds me, they're up to Part 6 now.

Thy Peace said...

Pastor Wade, my guess is they used Debbie Brunson to file a personal motion (outside of Church) to identify the blogger. I do not know, if this will absolve them.

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

I honestly don't know how they did it. That is why I called - to ask. It's one of the reasons I don't anticipate receiving any return calls.

Wade

Thy Peace said...

For what it is worth, I have repeatedly pleaded with fbc jax leadership through Watchdog blog comments, to fight this The Christian Way. If they did, Watchdog would become irrelevant and the blog would fade away.

For some reason, they never truly understood what The Christian Way is or they were consumed with Watchdog's blog and comments.

Time wise, money wise, resources wise, they and everyone would have saved LOTS if they followed Pastor Wade's procedure.

FBC Jax Member said...

Rev. Burleson,

You seem to indicate that the church identified the Watchdog correctly. The Watchdog seems to indicate that he was not identified correctly.

Can you clear this up?

it is written said...

Thy Peace the reason this will not end pretty is because Brunson could possibly be a TARE and not WHEAT?

Dr. Phil said...

Pastor Burleson,

Dr. Phil here, the SBC Psychiatrist. You and I have had our differences. We are different in many ways. It's obvious by our writings that you have a softer heart than I, but I darn guarantee you that when Dr. Munson, Dr. Flattersom, Dr. Hately, and those accustomed to bullying get a dreaded phone call from you, their palms sweat like the sidewalks here in Seattle on a foggy March morning, their hearts beat faster than the drummer's sticks on the Rolling Stone's Bigger Bang Tour, and the back side of their pants look like my aunt's newly turned black garden soil.

Thy Peace said...

I personally do not believe they are bad apples, but this is a clear case of bad barrels. The barrel being they becoming consumed with WD's blog and other influences.

Check this out: Phillip Zimbardo - Bad apples or bad barrels?

Wade Burleson said...

FBC Jax Member,

Watchdog will need to answer for himself. My point is there is no way any trespass order would be issued, abslutely no way any announcement of identity would ever be made to deacons unless church leadership knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who Watchdog was. And, according to the deacons, they knew who Watchdog was through information released via court order from GOOGLE and the Internet provider hosting the blog. What Watchdog does to protect his actual name from being made public is his business.

oc said...

Joe Blackmon said...
"On a side note, I think it's pretty stupid for someone to take the position of senior pastor at a church and then hire his family for staff positions. Bad idea."

And...

"Also, while I personally think hiring your family into positions like that is, well, stupid, I'm not alleging any sort of inpropriety on Mac's part. I'm not questioning his ethics or his integrity."

OK. You said it twice. So in your estimation, what makes it so "stupid"? And just another question. What if a staff position was invented in order to justify the employment of a family member?

Anonymous said...

this post was really interesting Pastor Wade. I enjoyed reading how you handled the issue. The post was timely for me as well. Here comes my question, posed to one and all who may care to offer advice.

I am a member of a small family country SBC church. In these economic times...our treasurer report for the third straight months shows low take and high expenditures, we are way in the red and running out fast. High expenditures showmostly for "Pastor Expense" which is not itemized, and also large utility bills that do not match up from month to month but rather show in gross and unexplained fluctuations.

Given that I feel we need to be diligent with God's money, and sincere concern for our rapidly dwindling finances, I would like to ask more about the bills and what is being paid and how the money is allocated. However, anyone asking questions of anything at conference is seen as a threat to "unity" and troublemaker. Plus, they all just want to go home and they get really irritated if they aren't eating dinner by 12:30.

The pastor is highly sensitive of anyone asking questions of him or how he does things. The deacons are lined up behind the pastor and don't scrutinize the money nor any of his decisions either. Ever. It is kind of a benign dictatorship.

I am flummoxed as to how to ask abut the bills. I am in no way suggesting malfeasance! No, just wondering how things work and how we dedicate the money to what and why. Any suggestions on how to go about this?

PS I and the pastor do not have a good relationship, though nothing harsh or overt, just coming from the last time two years ago I...asked a question.

call me Anonymous & Scared

Jeff said...

At my previous church I used to have a pastoral expense account. However, it was part of my salary. I would set aside so much for the year to buy books and stuff like that. If you looked at our monthly statements you might think the church was paying me extra, but in reality it was part of my salary.

gmommy said...

"...they knew who Watchdog was through information released via court order from GOOGLE and the Internet provider hosting the blog"

There have been several things I wanted to comment on today but chose not to. There is just too many things wrong with what is being said and done.
It seems so easy for people with different opinions to throw at the other one ...with confidence... that their opinion isn't biblical.
What's biblical seems to be more about which side of the fence you are on.
But obeying the law shouldn't be as subjective in my opinion.

At the time of the cover up of the staff sexual predator at BBC, my doctor happened to be a deacon officer.
I went to see my doctor for blood pressure issues.

I learned from this visit how willing Christian leaders are to barely make it under the radar of the law when it serves their purposes.
The deacon officer explained to me that the pastor wasn't obligated to report the confession of the minister that he had sexually abused a child because at the time of the confession to SG....the victim was over the age of 18.
He was actually very proud to share that with me.

So rather than err on the side of right, for the victim, and be above reproach...they were proud to just make it under the wire.
The assistant DA made statements to the contrary in the paper.He asked why church members or anyone would not want to report a crime to the authorities.

Now Mac and his bunch take every advantage of the law to serve their purposes. No telling what strings they pulled to find out the identity of WD. They did whatever it took to get the information they wanted. It never had anything to do with reconciliation or doing what was biblical.

Many of the pastors and Christian leaders make dysfunctional alcoholic families look healthy.....and make non Christians look much more honest and kind.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Your picture on your post is of me slamming the door. I became angrier because the lights were off in the hall and I was afraid I’d fall down the stairs. It was pitch black as I inched along feeling the wall getting angrier and angrier. I bumped into another wall, so I went back the other way. I had already decided to sue if I broke my leg.

I had an attitude adjustment when I found I was the only thing in a very large closet of my alma mater North Texas University. Running out, I didn’t dare look if the professor was on the floor laughing.

Thanks for a wonderful post, and I hope those in the wrong get an attitude adjustment.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Rex Ray,

That's funny! Embarrassing, but fuuny.

Anonymous said...

MIRACLE NOT FIRST

There once was a place where the Spirit roamed
Jax knew He was there asking to come in

He was calling and convicting of sin.
Now something else is in His place

Call it pride but hide your face
If you say it they won’t call
They’ll kick you out, try to make you fall

The Gospel Plain and sinners saved
That’s the Miracle that God gave

It came from Him not any man

It was the Gospel
Preached faithfully

Not marketing firms
Or Trespass Warnings

Not satellite campuses
Or iron fisted control

Tell me now what’s really First?!

Is it the Gospel Or Christian love?

Where is the Miracle?
It is gone.

The people came, what they found
Was Jesus waiting, a holy sound

Lives were changed every week
Baptismal waters full with the meek

Where is the mission we had right here?

The building grew when the souls
Realized their sin and let Him in

We didn’t build it just to fill it
The Lord brought the harvest
He fulfilled it

Now where is that lost soul
Who needs the Lord?

Where is the Miracle?
What is First?

Now we have become a charade
Fakely smiling, in we parade

Knowing some have been kicked out
Suspicion, fear, no dissent,
That’s what it is all about.


Oh Holy Spirit please return!
Banish this ungodly strife
May the fire of the Spirit burn!

May we seek your soon return
To this place where you were First
And that was the Miracle.


author: anny mouse 3/4/2009

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Wade - thank you for a post that shows true servant leadership from a pastor.

A question: what if in your case there was an anonymous blogger, and you truly did not know the identity of the person. You know people in the church read it. And its critical of your ministry and leadership decisions.

How would you handle it?

Wade Burleson said...

Watchdog,

No offense. But, I would ignore the blog. In time, if someone were to tell me who the anonymous person was, I would do precisely what was explained in this post. It's my practice to never read anonymous letters. I will at times respond to anonymous comments on this blog, but that is rare. You have explained to me the reasons for your need to remain anonymous, and I have explained my reasons for why I think you should reveal your identity. Your anonymity is a mute issue now. Church leadership aggressively went after your identity.

Bottom line, the actions taken against you only seem to legitimize what you have been writing. I tried to explain to the International Board of Trustees this very principle. When you aggressively go after someone who is saying something you don't want said, and take hard ball tactics to shut him down, you reveal an insecurity in your own actions and ministry.

Wade

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex Ray,

That'd preach.

Man, would it ever!

debbiekaufman said...

Jax: You do realize that they are using your anonymity against you. It is providing fodder for much of their case.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I think if the Watchdog were a member of Wade's church (or a pastor like Wade), if he had questions he wouldn't feel the need for anonymity. It's "pastors" like Mac Brunson who have demonstrated their quest for revenge against anyone who dares question their "divine anointedness" (that's how they seem to view any question) who cause the need for anonymity. From what I've observed, I don't think Wade has to worry about this "problem" in his church as he's demonstrated he's quite open and approachable.

Now, something off topic that no one else has mentioned and at the risk of catching flack from you and/or your church members, I do want to make one comment regarding your country club membership you wrote about. Let me preface it by saying it's absolutely none of my business what or how your church compensates you or whether or not you belong to a country club, so I'm not trying to tell you or your church what to do. Let me just say that from an appearance standpoint, it seems to me it would be better for a church to pay a pastor a lump sum salary (I don't think it's fair for any part of a pastor's salary to be tax-exempt that no one else's is, e.g. housing allowances -- after all, why should it be?) and let him pay his country club dues or whatever else he desires out of his own pocket -- from his salary. I don't think churches should be in the business of buying country club memberships with members' tithes and offerings regardless of how the church or the pastor justifies it. JMHO and again, absolutely none of my business in this case. It was just something that jumped out at me.

Things like this seem particularly distasteful to me when a church (not speaking of your church but any church) charges admission to hear a presentation of the gospel.

it is written said...

Herein lies the problem..I wish that every Pastor were like you Wade;;But unfortunetly their NOT...If Dr.Dog goes to these people then not only does he get thrown out of the Church he's been a member of for many years;;He also faces revenge in the secular world...The problem again lies in the facts that something is seriously wrong with Mac and his leaders when they can't be approached with geniune concerns..I'm a sinner saved by the Grace of God and yet I can approach the Throne of Grace without fear of being reproached for just asking the Lord something I don't understand...The Bible is replete with references of false servants who infiltrated God's people as supposed Sheperds..And the way that Brunson has handled this among other questionable decisions leave me wondering who side is he ON!!..And I personally have no problem answering anonomous e-mails as long as the person I'm corresponding with does not become ridiculous..Then I drop back to not throwing My pearls to the swine!!!

oc said...

Watchdog said:
"A question: what if in your case there was an anonymous blogger, and you truly did not know the identity of the person. You know people in the church read it. And its critical of your ministry and leadership decisions.

How would you handle it?"


Wade, you told Watchdog that you would "ignore the blog".

Would you ignore it if the accusations against you were true?
I think there is something very wrong in ignoring the truth, whether it comes anonomously or not. I hope I'm misunderstanding
what you have said.

oc.

Wade Burleson said...

OC,

If the allegations were not true, I would ignore the blog. If the allegations were true, I would hope I would have the grace to change my behavior.

But, frankly, there is usually something wrong in a climate where members of your church feel fear to the point of having to blog anonymously. I would hope we created a climate that when people express disagreement with leadership decisions they simply voice their disagreement.

I am reminded of what Solomon said about the actions of the righteous as compared to the actions of the wicked.

"The wicked flees when nobody pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

If I were to write a verse, I would write this:

"The wicked chase down and silence their accusers, but the righteous stand boldly in front of all enemies and accusers."

How's that OC?

wade

Wade Burleson said...

It Is Written

See BBC's comment above. I think he's right, and by the way, I understand what you are saying.

Michael said...

I can think of a good reason to remain publicly anonymous, job searches. if 'Dawg' publicly revealed his identity then changes he might have a more difficult time getting a new job. They say that companies are now starting to google job candidates names to see if there is any information on them and then to see what sort of person they are.
Were Dawg to reveal his name he might get labeled as a potential troublemaker by any company he wishes to be employed with.

Wade your fine with publicly revealing your identity because you have a rock hard support group that pays your salary and Pastors are really sort of expected to be out on the edge of things.
Whereas in a normal person, these qualities are not always desired and sometimes it is a basis for removal from job candidacy.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Debbie Kaufman wrote:

"Jax: You do realize that they are using your anonymity against you. It is providing fodder for much of their case."

Actually, I think WD's anonymity has worked in his favor. If he'd signed his name to his blog, Mac and his boys would have just dismissed him as a nobody and kicked him out rather than gone on an illegal witch hunt and shown their true colors. By not taking Wade's advice and ignoring an anonymous blogger, Mac & Co. may have now opened a bigger can of worms than they can swallow.

It's people like you who are making an issue out of anonymous blogging. You and I have been over this in private e-mail (you contacted me to argue over some incredibly vague, unsubstantiated accusations regarding "all my comments" and criticized me for blogging anonymously, and I explained my reasons which you seemed to accept understandingly), so I've no desire to rehash it with you here or anywhere else, but I would simply refer you to this comment from the previous thread.

Word verification: tenesc

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC Open Forum,

You make a good point about the Country Club dues being paid from the pastor's salary. Let me give you the reason why the Finance Committee has determined it not be.

The membership is not in my name. It is in the church's name. Unlike most memberships, when the member leaves, the stock goes with him, but at this particular club, if the member leaves, the stock ($5,000) is lost. Thus, since the membership is in the church's name, it is not Wade Burleson that is a member, it is EBC Senior Pastor. Therefore, were I to leave, the new pastor of EBC would be the member - and nobody, including the church or the new pastor, would have to pay the $5,000 stock membership fee.

An illustration of the common sense financial wisdom displayed by the FC can be seen in the following illustration. EBC has had five pastors in their history. If every pastor was required to buy stock to be a member, then $25,000 would have been paid to the CC (and $20,000 lost) when four of the pastors left. Even the pastor's salary comes from "tithes and offerings." But because the membership is in the church's name, only $5,000 has been paid, and the church pays the dues, not the pastor (dues must be paid by the stock member). The pastor pays for all his expenses, including food and guest privileges.

Again, you may not agree with how the FC's approach and the wisdom in it, but those are the reasons for their actions, and I hope your question and my response is an illustration how people should dialogue.

Blessings,

Wade

it is written said...

Dear Wade though I might agree with BBC on the country club issue...The way you handled BBC opinion is what makes you head-over-heels more wise than most Pastor's!!!

oc said...

How's that? Well Wade, that's excellent! I already thought well of you anyway, but I guess I just wanted it spelled out a little more concerning the unique circumstances. And I wanted to bring out a little more the contrast of a good pastor versus a dictator. And I got you to unwittingly do so. :)

And frankly, yes of course,there is obviously something very wrong in the climate of FBC Jax that some have been forced to blog anonomously for some time now.
And I thank you for being brave enough confront this issue.
oc.

Wade Burleson said...

Michael,

I agree with your assessment of a layman not desiring his name to be Googled.

That is why the question of Watchdog's anonymity is now moot for me.

I will be posting an article that shows anonymity is not intrinsically evil. It all depends on one's motive, and I'm not sure any of us can judge Watchdog's motive.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Dear Wade though I might agree with BBC on the country club issue...The way you handled BBC opinion is what makes you head-over-heels more wise than most Pastor's!!!"

I agree. Thank you, Wade. So, if I understand you correctly, it was $5000 to join and $300 a month to maintain the membership?

The whole concept of "a church" having a country club membership is still distasteful to me personally because of the image it projects, but as I said, it's none of my business. If that's what the members want to do, that's all that matters. I appreciate your kind explanation.

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC,

Thanks. You got it!

Thanks for asking.

Wade

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Everyone,

Wow. Pretty soon, there will have to be a 'Christian Witness Protection Program' to protect those people 'targeted' for telling about abuses in their church.
What will happen to Watchdog and his family? I think his wife has been hurt enough, from what has been written so far.
I am fearful for them, because of what happened to Dr. Klouda, and knowing that Mac is friends with PP. Very brutal treatment is not outside of bounds in some circles.

This all needs to stop.
When those who 'shepherd' prey on the flock, they need to be stopped.
My own faith has had to face that reality very painfully, and there is no other way out of it but complete honesty and thorough openess on the part of all. Otherwise, more harm is done, and the suffering is incalculable.

It must be true that, if a person becomes a 'shepherd', they are then targeted by the forces of Satan for destruction, and need the support and vigilance of the whole Church to fight off the dark forces that would cause them to harm themselves, others, and the Church. So the worst thing Christians can do is 'look away' when comes a 'shepherd' who is in trouble and causing harm. Better to try to 'help' him by intervening to stop him from hurting others and thereby hurting himself in the process.

No one is 'alone' in the Church.
We all have 'a dog in this fight' but only some of us have dogs that are 'the hounds of hell'.
If Mac is out of control, he is in trouble and needs our help.
When Watchdog is 'targeted' and his wife is weeping, they need our help.

The 'hounds of hell' cannot prevail against the combined deep prayers invoking the intervention of the Holy Spirit. No one is 'alone' in the Church. We were not left here unaided.

Christiane said...

That was me, L's, not 'anonymous'.
Sorry.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,

I wonder; isn't the way you handled the disgruntled members simply the way all of us are supposed to behave? I mean, your actions therein seem to stem from instructions to all believers, not just to elders.

Which would, of course, include bloggers, commenters, etc etc.

Wade Burleson said...

Bob,

Absolutely.

However, there should be, according to Scripture, a higher degree of accountability for pastors to act this way.

Anonymous said...

But then there is the 'priesthood of all believers' and its responsibility that we all have towards one another.

Anonymous said...

Half the folks posting comments in this thread are anonymous, and Wade is responding to half of them--although he doesn't do that??

'Way too much concern for "anonymous" and "not anonymous" at this blog site!

Take every word under consideration. Throw out what isn't true or doesn't apply. Do something about what is true and does apply. Move on with life. Don't be arrogant or unreal.

Simple.


David

Wayne Smith said...

New BBC Open Forum,

Do you see how Pastors get Stressed Out with all the Sinful People they have to deal with???

Some Pastors are Intelligent enough to know they need an outlet. Hitting that small ball instead of Shouting at People is more like the correct thing to do.
There is a definite difference in your Blog verses Wade’s Blog. Wade is relaxed and calm because He has His Eye on the Ball. God wants us to have our Eyes on the Ball all the time.

Wayne

Anonymous said...

Wade:

You're right--I choose to remain anonymous when posting comments at this site, for the reasons I've mentioned several times before.

The point of my comment just above is: consistency--and to emphasize again: THERE IS NOTHING AT ALL WRONG WITH POSTING COMMENTS AT THIS SITE ANONYMOUSLY.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, and I'm not trying to insult anyone here--unlike some of those who visit here. But again: consistency. Otherwise, in this thread, you couldn't reply to many folks here.


David

oc said...

NBBCOF,
I agree with you concerning the country club memberships.

To me, that in itself smacks of elitism. But I have to admit that it's easier to swallow if the pastor is not smacking the sheep around between tee times.
oc.

Anonymous said...

Look at it this way: a good game of golf in the fresh air is cheaper than spending time in the hospital for a stress-related medical condition.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,

Of course, but if we're all supposed to behave in a similar manner, then it'd seem to be as much a sin for me to disobey that, as it would for you.

Christiane said...

REFLECTION FOR LENT:

Prayer From a Holocaust Survivor

'Pray
for the time
when all the preachers of hate
are silenced;
and man
finally becomes
his brother's keeper'

So May It Be Said, 'Amen'

Rex Ray said...

Which is worse “a stress-related medical condition”; or ‘whiffing” the ball three times straight on a T-box while friends laughed?

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Do you see how Pastors get Stressed Out with all the Sinful People they have to deal with???

"Some Pastors are Intelligent enough to know they need an outlet. Hitting that small ball instead of Shouting at People is more like the correct thing to do."


Wayne Smith,

Do you see how Sheeple get stressed out seeing some Pastors living like CEO-Kings, abusing their Sheep and their Position (nepotism, accepting $300K land gifts, living in $MM houses, pocketing thousands of $$$ from Holy Land tours, lying from the pulpit, breaking the law, turning a blind eye to sexual molesters in their churches [see "breaking the law"], etc.) and being unwilling to answer a Simple Question, return a Phone Call, or respond to a Signed Letter or E-mail from one of the Sheeple, all the while exhorting the Sheeple to "Give Generously" to "God's Work"? (Not addressing this to you at all, Wade.)

I agree "hitting that small ball" is much preferable to "Shouting at People." Much preferable. (So maybe it would be therapeutic for "pastors" like Mac Brunson and Steve Gaines to take up golf.) My point is it might make a more positive statement to hit the small ball (and repeatedly go look for it) on the municipal golf course alongside the unwashed masses instead of at a country club, especially if the church is footing the bill.

RKSOKC66 said...

I don't have any problem with country club memberships except that most of them involve golf privledges and I don't know how to play golf.

Instead, I have "worse" (i.e. more expensive than golf) hobbies than that I indulge in.

More important than sports or hobbies is how we manage our overall finances by putting God first and by not getting "head over heals" in debt.

The financial meltdown stems from greed on the part of both the financial system as well as consumers. The problem is that there are quite a few people who have become "innocent victims" of the greed in the system.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City

Wayne Smith said...

New BBC Open Forum,

Sorry for the misunderstanding that you experienced!!! I said Pastors and Pastors are the one’s that Obey Jesus Christ in the Feeding of His Sheep. I don’t think it was Goat’s that are unable to get the Message.

Wayne

Paul Burleson said...

I would think that pride over being able to be IN the Country Club, were it present, would be sin AND pride over NOT being IN the Country Club, were it present, would be sin also. So, maybe, like a lot of things we disagree over as christians, the issue we disagree over isn't the issue. Maybe the heart is the real issue after all.

This might apply to anonimity in writing comments and blogs, Country Club memberships or no memberships, and a host of other things we can discuss/debate as long as we don't take one side or the other as being absolute truth on the issue. Maybe since those kinds of things aren't referenced in scripture we can have our personal opinions without getting personally offended if someone disagrees.

I've always thought something suspicious about anyone who gets mad when their view of truth is challenged anyway. Then I read this comment. "I advance this thesis: That when a Christian’s beliefs are not truly rooted and grounded in the Word of God and when they are not resting in faith in God’s integrity and truth, defending faith becomes a personal matter." [ And they're capable of getting very angry. My addition to the quote.] This indicates, to me at least, that when we get mad at each other over issues we discuss it may be a sign of a lack of biblical roots [not to memtion a lack of spiritual maturity] in what we are saying about the issue being discussed.

Leave it up to an old guy to wind up trying to sound spiritual. :)

Anonymous said...

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Matthew 10:25

Look folks, they need Wade more at that country club.

Wayne Smith said...

Paul,

When I say God wants us to keep our Eye's on the Ball, I'm referring to the Written Word, the Bible. I'm another Older Senior citizen still being Sanctified.

Wayne

Anonymous said...

So, Mac is on a 'power-trip' from hell, his wife is cheering him on, and the Watchdog is about to be inundated with torments worthy of PP.

Is there Good News left ?

Jon L. Estes said...

There is an interesting scenario unfolding.

1 - FBC has banned someone they claim is the watchdog from the church.

2 - Watchdog has stated, on several occasions, that the person being banned is not him.

3 - Wade has talked with the watchdog

4 - Wade, a very good writer, writes as if the family being banned is the watchdog and family.

5 - Wade was asked to clear up the confusion being created by him saying the banned family is the watchdog family.

6 - Wade says to ask the watchdog.

7 - Confusion still looms.

Therefore... Wade knows who the watchdog is and writes as if it is the man of the house who has been banned, but watchdog says it is not him.

Both can't be correct.

Nothing against the watchdog but I side with Wade and his ability to clarify positions with words and believe the watchdog is the man banned from FBCJax.

Has FBCJax released the names of the family banned?

I use the term "banned" and there may be a better term but I think it fits what is happening in FL.

Wade Burleson said...

Jon Estes,

I think the issue is not about whether or not the Watchdog has been accurately identified by FBC anymore. The issue is whether or not Watchdog wants his actual name on the internet. The answer to the latter is no.

jle said...

Thanks Wade,

I do think if the wd is the one who has been banned and he has also denied the person being banned is him publicly, even behind the mask of anonymity, his credibility has taken a bigger dive then the stock market. Not because of anything anyone else has stated but what he himself has said.

With all that is going on at FBCJax, transparency and honesty must be a priority for wd if he is going to demand it from Dr. Brunson.

Anonymous said...

Jon Estes: "Watchdog has stated, on several occasions, that the person being banned is not him."

Reply: Can you give us one example of where the watchdog stated he was not the accused? I've read his blog and he speaks of the accused, but I have not seen him confirm or deny he is the accused.

Jon L. Estes said...

Anon, look at the pdf link provided by watchdog in his posting the reply letter from the accused.

http://www.newbbc.accura.net/Response.pdf

Take note of the second paragraph, which starts...

I deny the accusations you are making about me.

I have saved a copy to my hard drive just in case it inadvertently comes up missing.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Wayne Smith wrote:

"Sorry for the misunderstanding that you experienced!!!"

I'm not sure what I misunderstood. Earlier you said to me: "There is a definite difference in your Blog verses Wade’s Blog. Wade is relaxed and calm because He has His Eye on the Ball."

So I guess I can conclude from that you're saying I am not relaxed and calm and do not "have my eye on the ball." I'm actually one of the most relaxed and calm people you'd ever meet, and I'm not angry, I'm simply disgusted by the behavior of some who call themselves "Pastor" and those who set them on pedestals. I think Wade is, too, but he's just sweeter about it than I am. :-)

Paul Burleson said...

I would appreciate it if that were seen as "anonymity" and please don't ask why I did it the other way. I don't know and just saw it myself. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon Estes,

I interpreted that to mean the accused man was denying the accusations of being divisive, disseminating false information and calling and contacting members using Sunday School rolls, but I can see how you might interpret that the way you did. I do not know if the watchdog is the accused or not, but I would like to see where the watchdog ever said, "I am not the accused man." Lots of people have asked but I do not think he has ever said he is or is not.

jle said...

Anon,

I know of no other way to interpret it since the letter of accusation in reference states:

You have been positively identified, by name and address, as the owner of fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com, a site you own, manage and/or control.

If the accused is denying the accusations being made, this is one being made and he is denying it. If he is the watchdog, then his words are not correct. If he is not, then his denial of being the watchdog stands in opposition to what Wade heavily infers.

Both can't be right.

I would ask that you reconsider your interpretation.

happy gram said...

Paul Burleson: We have been having trouble getting hooked up with at&t u-verse. we have had several young, inexperienced technicians come to the house and pretend they know what they are doing and leave quickly. the problem still exists. last night a 'senior' technician came to the house. he was here 3 hours until midnight. he made several calls to the att site to get help. he worked tirelessly. i asked him what was the difference between him and the other guys. he looked at me from behind his bifocals and replied, "upbringing." i asked him what he meant and he said "i was raised to do a good, thorough job and not quit until it was done."

i have been reading wade's blog for some time and the latest post about resolving conflict has already been applied by myself to friends, family and co-workers. his response to negative, sometimes accusing comments has been cordial, compassionate and forgiving.

what is the difference between wade and some others? i would quote the senior at&t technician and say "upbringing".

well done.

Anonymous said...

Lenten refections:

"May you praise the Paschal Victim,
immolated for Christians.
The Lamb redeemed the sheep:
Christ, the innocent one,
has reconciled sinners to the Father.
A wonderful duel to behold,
as death and life struggle:
The Prince of life dead,
now reigns alive.
Tell us, Mary Magdalen,
what did you see in the way?
I saw the sepulchre of the living Christ,
and I saw the glory of the Resurrected one:
The Angelic witnesses,
the winding cloth, and His garments.
The risen Christ is my hope:
He will go before His own into Galilee.
We know Christ to have risen
truly from the dead:
And thou, victorious King,
have mercy on us.
Amen. Alleluia."

Victimae Paschali Laudes
Gregorian Chant
written 1048 A.D.

Christiane said...

Lenten Scriptures
from Psalm 27

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of You,
"Seek His face!"

Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:

I WILL SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THE LAND
OF THE LIVING "

Anonymous said...

Jon Estes: I would ask that you reconsider your interpretation.

Reply: I think you need to take it up with the watchdog because I do not know if he is or is not the accused man. Like Wade said, to me that is a moot point now.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing that you set such a great example for all people of the world Wade.

Thank you for being awesome.

happy gram said...

do i detect a bit of sarcasm in anonymous' comment? maybe envy?

jle said...

Anon,

Some might consider it moot and that would favor wd but if they are one in the same, he has said differently.

I do ask, would wd let MB get away with such a conflict in something he said? I think the answer is obvious. NOPE!

Anonymous said...

Mac Brunson has struck gold at FBC/JAX. Not even PP has taken such a haul, as far as we know, (could be wrong, there).
Just goes to prove that there is a lot of money to be made in the religion business.
Thanks, Mac.
(Does anybody know a good web site for people selling ministerial 'dgrees'? I'm in.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

As I used to tell the salesmen who reported to me, I'd a whole lot rather have them able to sel gude, than spel gude.

:)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Estes said:

"Has FBCJax released the names of the family banned?"

I'm not sure Jon, but call the director of communications at FBC and perhaps she'll tell you when the press release is coming out that will identify the blogger.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

How can they 'ban' the entire family? What did the wife and children do to be 'banned'?
What kind of religion does something like this?

Paul Burleson said...

Happy Grams,

Thanks for the kind words. In reality, with regards to their parents, Wade and his three siblings are more survivors and exceeders than they are anything else. For which both parents are thrilled.

Anonymous said...

At least one comment posted between 1:35 and 1:43 is now missing from this thread.


David

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 11:06 - they didn't ban the family exactly, but they served trespass warnings the night before Thanksgiving - one to the husband, one to the wife. So the end result is they did ban the whole family except for the time period when the family decided to continue taking the kids to their church functions - during which time the mother sat in her car in downtown Jax waiting for the kids to finish worshipping. They did that for about 3 weeks, then when it was apparent the church would not rescind the trespass warnings, they sought another church home. The church's view is that they didn't want to ban them, but they issued the trespass warnings to force the man and his wife to meet with a "Discipline Committee" of the 6 most powerful men in the church: the president of the trustees, chair and vice chair of deacons, and a few others. So their view is the "ban" was the result of the accused not submitting to meeting the committee exactly on their terms.

As documented on the Watchdog website, it was anyting BUT a biblical discipline process - not even close. And apparently the church used its legal resources to obtain a court order to identify the blogger. Praise God from whom all court orders and trespass warnings flow....

But trespass warnings, court orders, and non-biblical discipline process are not the important issues. As ace investigator Jon Estes has reported, THE most critical issue is who is the accused, is the accused the Watchdog, and the Watchdog/accused must be open and transparent, and Who's on first and what's on second. Love ya, Jon. You keep us smiling.

oc said...

"How can they 'ban' the entire family? What did the wife and children do to be 'banned'?
What kind of religion does something like this?"

A "religion" just might do that. And therein lies the problem. The relationship has been forgotten. Some have forsaken their first love.

Thy Peace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thy Peace said...

"How can they 'ban' the entire family? What did the wife and children do to be 'banned'?
What kind of religion does something like this?"

This appears to be the reasoning of fbc jax:

"Next point. About the discipline committee and the actions taken towards this church member. The discipline committee acted in a legal and biblical way with this situation. The member contributed to this blog. He slandered, which is illegal. He deserves no sympathy and the actions taken against him are justified. As far as his wife goes, the husband represents his family. He is the head of the household. His actions are reflective upon his family.

It's good to hear that the discipline committee is in full swing."
Robert L. Peeples
DECEMBER 7, 2008 3:17 PM

Thy Peace said...

"How can they 'ban' the entire family? What did the wife and children do to be 'banned'?
What kind of religion does something like this?"


Could the cause be Complementarianism?

Anonymous said...

But Watchdog: what isn't clear now is whether or not you are the man accused. Wade suggests that you are; you have indicated that you aren't. Now we all are wondering.

If you read this thread again, please clarify the matter. Thanks.


David

Thy Peace said...

Wiki: Complementarianism

Complementarianism is a term used to describe a conservative theological view held by many in Christianity and other world religions that men and women have different roles and responsibilities, as manifested in marriage, religious leadership, and elsewhere.
Though the notion is found in other religions, this article focuses mainly on how certain Christian groups understand their anthropological theology to require a complementarian view of sex and gender. Complementarianism is a more moderate view than historical hierarchical tenets prescribing a male priority on religious grounds.
The term is derived from the hermeneutical hypothesis that men and women are designed to complement or complete each other on the basis of their gender. The opposing viewpoint is Egalitarianism, which maintains that women and men are equal in marriage, religious leadership opportunities and elsewhere.

The Complementarian position

Complementarianism holds that "God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and in the Church."[1]

Kevin M. Crowder said...

I doubt that I have anything constructive to add to this discussion (do I ever?) but here goes nothing. :)

I am pleased, from one perspective, that Wade has not been beat up over the CC membership. At the end of the day, when we wash everything out, the cost can likely be justified. But this is only the case if all things are not equal. And let us face it--they are not. I want to make a comparison for no other reason than to prove a point. Wade, to my understanding has some theological education, but does not possess a theological degree--not even a Master of Divinity. This would disqualify him from applying to become pastor of many churches in the SBC. His salary is, I am going to guess, in the neighborhood of 85-95k, including the CC membership of 300.00 per month. Wade also has something like what? 20+ years in ministry? He operates a successful blog, has published 2 books and many articles on history and theology. He has served on many boards including the trustee board of the IMB, the world's largest Great Commission Ministry EVER! He has held or holds the title of Reverend, Pastor, Teacher, Husband, Father, Son, President, and dirty rotten scoundrel. :)

I on the other hand will graduate in 3 years with a MDiv and 4 years of Pastoral Experience making 10,500 a year with a then coming due 700.00/month student loan payment. *scratches head*

Here is the difference: I have never for one moment neither doubted nor worried about how the Lord will provide for my needs, nor my impending educational debt. However, my worry and fear is that when a group of my congregants gather for the purpose of tearing me down and "praying" and I find out--- that I will be unable to handle it with grace and love and understanding. I know me too well. That is not in my character. I have prayed this week that the Lord would allow me to act like Christ as He has allowed Wade to act like Christ. Thankfully I have not had to endure an act such as that which Wade had to endure. To date I have had only a few "tiny" issues. The Lord has blessed with "tiny" victories.

One of Wade's disgruntled congregants emailed a year and some months ago telling me that Wade was known as "velvet steel." I knew another man once who was called that and the connotation was very bad. I immediately applied the same connotation to Wade. My posts showed it. I have since come to think of this differently now as applied to Wade. I am thinking that velvet went out in the 80's and a new material might well need to be applied here. None the less, Wade's grace and solid biblical theology are the envy of this young Pastor/Theologian. May the Lord one day use me in such an encouraging way. May I be able to respond with grace when my pastorate, my character, my manhood, and my pride are attacked in one swift move. May I smile with a smile of love that comes from Christ. For of myself, I am not equipped in that old nature to respond with grace. I am only programmed to return fire. Lord continue to reprogram me.

k

Thy Peace said...

"But Watchdog: what isn't clear now is whether or not you are the man accused. Wade suggests that you are; you have indicated that you aren't. Now we all are wondering."
-----------------------------------
1. They wanted you to know that they caught the Watchdog;

2. They wanted you to know the accused left in a cowardly way to hurriedly join another church before A.C. Soud and his band of Merry Trustees and Discipline Committee members could get their hands on him ("that 'wascally wabbit', we almost had him and he got away!"); and

3. If any of you other plebe decide to follow in the accused's footsteps and you engage in any of the sinful conduct of the accused, they will aggressively hunt you down and do the same thing to YOU and your wife that they did to him and his wife.

I'll address #1 in a later post. They obviously believe they caught the Watchdog, and they believe they have proof. Good for them. So I'll grant them that they acted in good faith based on the evidence they have (which they still have not provided to the accused despite repeated requests for it - more to come on this later) making it impossible for the accused to answer their claim.
Fbc Jax Watchdog: A Lie and a Breach of Trust by the FBC Jax Leadership

Thy Peace said...

"May the Lord one day use me in such an encouraging way. May I be able to respond with grace when my pastorate, my character, my manhood, and my pride are attacked in one swift move. May I smile with a smile of love that comes from Christ. For of myself, I am not equipped in that old nature to respond with grace. I am only programmed to return fire. Lord continue to reprogram me."

Amen, Pastor Kevin.

Charles Page said...

Wade

If your staff member comes to you and confesses to having sodomized his own son seventeen years ago, what would you do?

You handled the other situation pretty good and having law enforcement experience, what would you have done.

Now do consider the exposure in the congregation and the community of this.

We have a good idea what Rogers would have done. Kept it quiet and pay lawyers and people involved a lot of members money. We know what Gaines did because he did not have the access to member's money that Rogers had.

Gaines' approach blew up in his face. With Rogers we would still probably never know about it.

What would you do?

Since you are dealing with Jax speculations speculate on Bellevue.

jle said...

WD,

THE most critical issue is who is the accused, is the accused the Watchdog

This is not the most critical issue but I can understand why you would want it to be.

The critical issue is, if you and the accused are the same you have been less than honest... something you would not let slide past your blog if MB were found in the same situation. Wait, you have called him out for being less than honest.

The issue in a nut shell is hypocrisy. I don't mind you asking MB any question, or calling him out on any issue but to put oneself in such a position (as you have boldly done), you need to make sure you don't walk the guilty path you claim others are walking.

If you and the accused are not one in the same you are in safe territory. If you are the same person, something dishonest has been presented and it needs to be made right. IMPO-OC

Anonymous said...

FOR 'AUTHORITATIVE' PASTORS,
a reminder from PSALM 12


"5 "Because of the oppression of the weak

and the groaning of the needy,

I will now arise," says the LORD.

"I will protect them from those who malign them."

solomon said...

Pastor Wade,

I'm a member of Bellevue Baptist Church, so I've had more exposure to blog wars than I've ever wanted. I've observed the "Watchdog's" behavior over the last couple of years, and I have every reason to question his integrity.

I've perused a few of your threads, and I can easily see that you have a desire to discover truth and suppress falsehood. Therefore, I don't think it's necessary at all for me to caution you against associating your good name with someone based on the very general criteria that he is also blogging against something larger than himself. I've had to tell many people just that, but in this case it is surely not necessary. Actions speak much louder than words ever could, and the watchdog's actions clearly do not match his words.

We had an incident in Memphis last year in which an undercover detective's identity was compromised by a photo on a blog. The blog routinely shared to the public the inner workings of the Memphis police department, and these revelations put several detective's lives in danger. The MPD went to court to have the identity of the blogger uncovered, but was unsuccessful because they could not prove to the judge's satisfaction that there was criminal intent. It's not a trivial matter to get a court order in these cases.

However, if the statement was accompanied by credible multiple witnesses, or security footage of criminal trespass a court order would be much more likely. Even so, it would not be of the nature "tell us who owns such-and-such website". It would be more of the nature "we have reason to believe that Mr. so-and-so, who has been observed trespassing on private property, stealing mail, and following women around town with a camera, - we believe that he also owns such-and-such blog. Your honor, we'd like a yes or no, does Mr. so-and-so own this blog?" The judge is much more likely to grant this request since it does not reveal anyone's identity, it is simply a confirmation or denial.

To me, the only fault of the leadership at FBC is that they did not go to the watchdog. They told him to come to them. For years the anonymity of the man prevented it, but when they finally uncovered who he was they should have gone to him and resolved the problems. Or at least tried. Instead they apparently told him to come and sit at their feet.

Perhaps this, more than anything the watchdog ever wrote, is a powerful indictment of the leadership at the church. Or perhaps part of the story is still missing.

Regardless, I hope you will exercise the utmost caution before you fully accept this man's story as fact, and will make further efforts to communicate with Mac Brunson. As you wisely wrote, every story has two sides.

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said...

Excellent post, Pastor Wade.

I wish you were leading the SBC and teaching the up and coming Pastors. Great example of humility and Christlike love!

I feel I would receive the same type of response from my Pastor if ever warranted. True, transparent leaders are able to lead this way.

Thank you for your example, I hope that this is passed around to many. I so wish Pastor Brunson would have handled things this way. I applaud Dr. Vines for the way he has appeared to graciously handle several things that have happened recently as well.

We need to start a new blog entitled - "REAL LEADERS, REAL LIFE, LIVING LIFE TRANSPARENTLY" and include personal stories of transparent, Godly leaders. Hmmmm, sounds like a pretty good idea...

Anonymous said...

Wade, someone at the Florida Times Union linked this blog - that's how I found it. I have to say that your attitude almost makes me wish I still believed, and that you were my pastor.

Lynn said...

I like your approach.

Here's another situation for you. I was attending a conservative church and started to question my whole faith. I loved going to my very tiny class each Sunday and asking questions.

It became clear to me and broke my heart that my questions were not all that welcome. I was told in an obvious but indirect way that this was so.

I felt quite hurt that my attachment to these people was not really returned by them. Their doctrine was more important, it seemed.

I really don't have any ill feelings toward any of them at that church, but I was hurt. It would have meant a lot to me to have the pastor and his wife come by and just listen to me and maybe say, "Well, I'm sorry you are questioning Christianity, but please know that we love you, would help you if you ever need it, and you are welcome any time at our church."

Instead the pastor's wife told me that if I stopped coming to church, the devil would have me.

How lovely.

So in case anybody wonders how to treat someone who just happens to be losing their faith, do Pastor Burleson's approach. They may still lose their faith, but they will have nothing bad to say about how that particular church treated them.