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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Is it wrong to speak out against church abuse?

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Abide
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Joined: 2004/10/18
Posts: 52


 Re:

Quote:

if there is some new rule against speaking about specific people or ministries, I lost the memo. Now most of these discussion were concerning the Scriptural validity of doctrinal issues and the such. But if one was to have first hand knowledge of any ministry or teacher/preacher, I can't imagine the moderators of this site pulling the post. Did you receive any explanation of why your post pulled? If it was how you said it that was at issue, I would encourage to repost the names and ministry in a format that is more acceptable to the sites moderators. The moderators (in my experience) have always been willing to discuss such issues.

I don't know what this is about, but I preceive/discern that the reason why I am still at work is for this particular post.

If i offended you in any way please forgive me, and if by my signature I stirred up something, the Lord knows why I signed my previous post the way that I did. I may sign on under several different names, but I am still the same person, and I love everyone and you very much.

God is not interested in our past as much as he is interested in our present and especially in our FUTURE, AMEN AND AMEN...

God Bless You,
-Angie

 2006/3/3 18:39Profile
Christisking
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Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 672
Los Angeles, California

 Re:

Quote:
If i offended you in any way please forgive me, and if by my signature I stirred up something, the Lord knows why I signed my previous post the way that I did.



You have not offended me in any way at all. I can't find you previous post (maybe your post was deleted too) and don't know what post you are talking about. I was specifically talking about SJ's reference to naming names when it comes to harmful or deceptive ministries or teachers. And SJ's reference to one of his posts being deleted. That he may find out why to avoid any confusion or problems in the future and still live up to his responsibilities to bring to light what he has experienced by name.

Sorry for any confusion ;-)


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Patrick Ersig

 2006/3/3 18:50Profile
sj
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Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 83


 Re:

.

 2006/3/3 19:37Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: a wave

Quote:
I may feel some agression against what i now percive to be a false pressure to be silent about abusive situations but I'm NOT mad at you. I'm not even mad AT these people.


Whew! Has a bit wave has hit me? I'm not sure where we are going.
Earlier I loosely added in a parenthesis about not naming a name and it seems that by trying to avoid a distraction, I inadvertently created a distraction. I'm a bit confused why you asked your original question when it seems that you are already have strong convictions about this.
Perhaps we are thinking of different situations. This is a vast topic after all.
EDIT: I suspect that there are better alternatives to "speaking out against sinners" And that is to deal with ourselves, give ourselves to God and grow in our own faith. A strong offense is a good defence.

Quote:
seriuosly, they are bound.

Do you mean us? If you feel this way about us, then, we may not be the best ones to help you out. Perhaps there is another forum that would better meet your needs.

Also, if you feel we are "bound" then I'm afraid there are barriers to developing trust. We won't be able to help you. Perhaps if you get to know us, you might find that some here have been gloriously set free by our precious Savior!!!!!
Quote:
So please keep giving your advise, and dont be thrown off by my questioning



I will address this in prayer, but at the moment, have no more words or links to offer. I know that the Spririt will guide you as you seek him for guidance.
God bless you.
Diane


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Diane

 2006/3/3 20:28Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re: spotlight on structure

Quote:
I don't see mentioned yet the reality of power structure. Sorry to say, but the ground is not level. There are people who simply cannot stand against the abuse of those who hold power and authority - like a child and parent. Indeed, the child may be part of the problem, but they are dependants. They can't just leave or even challenge the problem because that would too threatening. It is like that in any institution.



Diane,

I would like to add to your important comment about structure. The larger problem as I see it is certainly more systemic then personality driven. In my anecdotal experience with church abuse, abusive personalities are attracted, indeed even shaped, by unbiblical government structures.

For a manual on how to build an abusive church power structure see Peter Wagner’s book “Churchquake”. (I have brought this book up before, but I think it warrants a mention in this thread.) Sadly, the book is helpful only as a “via negative” of good church polity, a how-to manual for building a horrible church governing structure. In it's pages you will probably recognize familiar and hurtful concepts being advocated as biblical and “apostolic.” Wagner, and his “apostolic reformers” advocate giving unilateral control of doctrine, finances, and mission to a single “charismatic” leader. The book recommends that these pastors create printouts of top financial donors and reward them with perquisites like special banquets and trips, as well as inviting them into the “inner courts” of influence with the ‘elders and prophets.” ("A good pastor knows his sheep!" pg.261…sigh)

Now I mention this book not to point a finger at Wagner…but as he is a professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary and a popular author, I think his ideas embody a very disturbing trend among professional Christians who pastor our independent churches. Independent and charismatic churches are too often designed with a radical lack of accountability to reliable spiritual peers, such as qualified elders within the local body. In my experience spiritual abusers never endorse transparency…they build opacity into their lonely office. They may claim they have accountability but it is never within the local body…instead it is from another ‘apostle” outside and beyond the reach of the church. The idea of a plurality of elders is strictly prohibited in this all too popular model for church governance.

Even though I seem to be complaining about the “man” in charge, I would like to restate that it is the system that fosters this. Let me give an illustration from my own household. A few years ago we took in two cats. Recently some visitors pointed out that our two cats have grown as fat as beavers! My wife and I noticed their growth but we never seemed to be as shocked at the sight of their girth like visitors are. Last week, my mother in law observed the root of the problem…she noticed that all of us, from my wife to the kids were feeding the cats randomly without any agreed upon plan or structure. A cat would simply have to brush up against my leg and I would pop open a can of tuna! (Add to their diet the occasional mouse or bird...)

Now that I understand this problem I feel badly, for in another house these same cats would be much healthier.

I think my two full-figured felines demonstrate how even good-intentioned pastors can grow sleek and fat over time without boundaries. Many Christians are all too happy to "serve" stronger leaders who prophecy without accountability structures, raise money without accountability structures, create doctrine without accountability structures, counsel privately without accountability structures, and create missions without accountability structures.

In the end I like to talk about systems more then people…critiquing impersonal systems is easier on the conscience of those who are too cautious to critique a leader. We can more readily talk about systemic issues without feeling judgmental towards a pastor…who may very well be unaware how easy it is to become fat living off of the sheep.

MC


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Mike Compton

 2006/3/4 4:20Profile
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: more on structure

Quote:
In the end I like to talk about systems more then people…critiquing impersonal systems is easier on the conscience of those who are too cautious to critique a leader. We can more readily talk about systemic issues without feeling judgmental towards a pastor…who may very well be unaware how easy it is to become fat living off of the sheep



Talking about systems also helps one see their own role in it. It defrays the hostility towards perpetrators, as they too are victims of a force far bigger. This facilitates mercy and forgiveness rather than tarring and feathering.

I am grieved about the direction PW et al have taken, yet not surprised. As you say, it is not the one person who is leading it, it is a far bigger system that is sweeping away so many of our fine leaders. Absolutely NO ONE is immune.

Some years ago (around 1996) I found this whole movement very refreshing – truly a move of the Spirit, I believe – freeing many from old moldy religious traditions – opening up the reality of the Spirit – promises of New Covenant. I suspect we saw the preliminaries of revival back then. But then the movement became an idolatrous object in itself, with the leaders being put in places far above where they should have been. I could list all kinds of names, authors, and heroes. I have several of their books on my shelves right now. I believe that many of their writings back then were truly inspired of God. I am not prepared to throw out those books. However, for one reason or another so much of the good stuff got hijacked – for various reasons. Now I find myself going back to the oldie-goldies. And that may be what attracted me to SI in the first place.

You know, one would think that the tragedies of the Shepherding Movement was the needed lesson – but it seems not. It is being repeated, and blessed by our highest religious authorities! Yikes! We don’t learn well, do we, from other people’s failures. We just repeat them.

You paralleled you fat cats to ‘fat” pastors. I think that there is another analogy there – and that is fat sheep (though starved nutritionally). They are feeding from TV Christian celebrities and many others, not seeing that they are being set up for manipulation and painful abuse down the road. The pastor in their church is only one of many influences, but may very well be a cog in the bigger system, enablied by all those who have an appetite for religous stuffing.

So no one really knows where the sheep are getting all their food, or what is steering their minds – which are crammed full of religious stuffing. But if you offer them a carrot, they have no appetite for such a thing.

People know that our modern churches are in trouble. And that is a temptation for this “feeding frenzy’. People are “trying” out all kinds of new methods that promise the pot of gold: revival.

About accountability of pastors: I have seen this all the time: They claim that they are accountable to someone “above them” in the hierarchal ranks – like someone at head office several hundred miles away, someone who only sees them in their suits at convention. I’ve been to such events and know first hand that it is all to easy to ignore the crying, dying, crippled sheep huddled in the corners of their churches, and instead use them as pawns to build their own kingdoms.

So where is this accountability going to come from? Our religious community is in danger of building another Roman Church in an attempt to restore the rapidly falling structures. As much as people speak against the RCC, many are all to eager to replace it with another: big buildings, where we all speak one language, reaching to the heavens.… sound familiar?

But then, is that not what Scripture prophesies will happen in the end times? It hits all too close to home, doesn’t it?

Diane


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Diane

 2006/3/4 9:19Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3776


 Re: abuse begets abuse

One point that I believe needs to be taken into consideration here is the fact that abuse likely does not have it's beginnings in the church but in family/cultural systems - even in relational patterns that go back several generations.

For example: In prewar Germany the view of authority was this: the Father is the HEAD of this house. Kids, do as he says, do not question authority. stern, lack of feelings... tenderness.. empathy, blind obedience at all times...

Years later during the post-war trials the accused defended their actions by saying, "We were just obeying orders".

So abuse begets abuse.... victims become abusers...
Diane


_________________
Diane

 2006/3/4 9:49Profile
sj
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Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 83


 Re:

.

 2006/3/4 10:32Profile
sj
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Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 83


 Re: systems v.s. people:

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 2006/3/4 11:00Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re: spotlight on elders

Quote:
I've almost totally changed my mind from the concept that the "one man show pastor is the problem if we had plurality of elders things like this wouldn’t happen!" Because this church DOES have plurality of elders "in fact they are on the cutting edge of that whole movement...



Indeed brother...I think we are actually seeing the same dynamic. Like I commented earlier, this kind of pastor claim local accountability...such as through the elders they have selected. More often then not these elders have been chosen through the sole discretion of the pastor, and instead of acting like a loving accountability structure, they function as a "hedge of protection" against the sheep. (Local "prophets and prophetesses" are elevated in much the same manner...)

edit: Elders need to be recognized as functioning leaders before they are given the titles.

Let's discuss modern elders for a second. I've recognized a pattern that many elders are not selected for their spiritual seasoning, but often they are businessmen or professional administrators selected for their loyalty to the pastor. So rather then demonstrating a desire to "be an example to the flock" or matured in scriptural areas of serving others, they prize eldership as a personal commendation.

The problem with all of this is that these elders are not able to lead the flock during times of pastoral incapacity. Indeed, their presence in a meeting is regarded as superfluous, and people seeking strong ministry from a leader often prefer the pastor to all others. In a recent church I attended, when the pastor ran off with one of the prophetesses, the elders were helpless to run the church...primarily because they were not properly related to the body in the first place. Being tolerated as yes men in easier times had rendered them objects of mistrust during a crisis.

Yet because of their " apostolic training" they too rejected accountability from leaders selected from the body and ultimately the entire church fell apart. The living stones became the rolling stones, as our church family was scattered. Now the building is completely remineralized with a new pastor and new people.

All of this stands in contrast, I believe, to the tantalizing peek at first century leadership we see in Acts 6. In that chapter we see apostolic peers conferring with one another on how to handle financial resources within the local body. In order to protect their spiritual lives with the Lord, they ask the local body to select men who have established themselves trustworthy to handle the temporal affairs of the community. SJ, I sincerely doubt the dubious pastors we once served under would have even understood this passage of scripture.

MC


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Mike Compton

 2006/3/4 13:03Profile





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