Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?1 Corinthians 1:12–13
Even if you don’t recognize all the names in the above passage, you get the idea that when people divide into factions that they exclude others and treat the one they like with more deference, respect, or courtesy. Conversely, those that disagree with them are vilified, dehumanized, and shunned.
A storm has been brewing for several years in the church that I have been attending. Actually, three storms or waves of controversy. Things finally hit the boiling point during the last two weeks. People have been taking “sides” and going after each other on social media and other platforms.
Instead of coming clean about what transpired, the church has told its members that its none of their business. They are maintaining that “it’s a personnel matter” and thus they have no intention to tell anyone what happened or apologizing to those that quit their jobs because of the crappy way they ignored the “personnel matters”. Yep, plural issues; more about them in a minute.
Folks, personnel matters are not in the Bible. We are given a command on how to deal with dissention in churches by Jesus himself.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.Matthew 18: 15 – 17
These folks think they are a “Bible Church?” That’s laughable. I guess the Good Book doesn’t apply to them, it’s just a tool to whack everyone else.
On the other hand, this group was supportive of the leadership’s willingness to fold like a cheap suit when the governor said they were non-essential, I guess they’d rather please Caesar than their Savior. On this point they’re a consistent lot anyway.
Lastly people forced to experience these situations don’t act based on reason but are governed by emotion.
Now that I’ve given you an idea of what’s happening, let’s get to the why. From this point on, hip waders are recommended because the crap is going to hit the fan.
Folks this is literally a three-ring circus.
In ring number one is the school administrator that didn’t pay the teacher’s money which was withheld from their pay checks to the appropriate government agency. If memory serves, this agency is the guys that are currently hiring 87,000 agents willing to use deadly force against taxpayers. Her attitude was no worries. When the school was notified of the oversight, this genius just threw the notices (plural) in the trash so nobody would see them. This went on for the better part of two years before she was busted for being stupid. Oh, she was not the treasurer, so I don’t see why she saw fit to interfere. After tens of thousands in penalties, interest, and principle were paid, she was fired. (Makes you wonder what else wasn’t reported about her conduct.)
A certain segment of the congregation thinks she was shafted and treated unfairly. They maintain she was innocent. This is based upon the idea that she is a nice lady so she couldn’t have done it. Another group thinks she is lucky not to be serving time in government custody.
In ring number two are both the ordained ministers on the payroll. They needed to hire an outside mediator to help them reconcile “issues.” Being this happened during Covid, makes me wonder. You’d think the degree of ankle grabbing done by the church staff might not have been as unified and harmonious as it appeared. The only thing worse than the wholesale surrender of worship and church authority to Gavin Newsom was the Scripture twisting done from the pulpit to try to rationalize obeying the government when they ordered the church shut down.
Heresy is not too strong a term for the sermon allegedly based on Romans 13 that was put forth to justify capitulation to the whims of the State. It was as masterful as any scary cult stuff you get warned to avoid. The Scripture twisting from the pulpit was remarkable in its boldness and deceit. Rarely have I seen Holy Writ so grossly manipulated from the misapplication of “The Word.” The pastor verbally contorted the Bible in the same fashion as a clown stretches balloons into grotesque animals or a corner vendor shapes his dough into pretzels. Before long, the epistle written by the Apostle to the Gentiles is placed firmly upside down and its contents are proclaimed to mean the exact opposite of the plain context and historical background of the text.
In ring number three is the main event, the hostile workplace issue that dragged on for almost three years. Word is that employees of the church filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing because the church board failed to act after repeated complaints. I was told, gosh shucks, the board is volunteers so we shouldn’t expect them to act on such complaints. Such matters are way out of their league.
Finally, enough pressure was applied that the church had to hire a labor attorney to investigate the issues. In the course of conducting the investigation, much of the church board had to recuse themselves for conflicts of interest because they were either related to participants in the controversy or material witnesses to said violations.
The findings of said investigation are embargoed but the recommendations that the attorney made were reportedly adopted unanimously by the same governing body that had failed to act for so many years. What those recommendations are has not been disclosed either. They are embargoed too. In fact, everything having to do with it is embargoed. Curiously, following this vote, the Senior Pastor announced his resignation with two weeks’ notice.
What’s that saying about where there’s smoke …
Oh, due to the resignation of the Senior Pastor, the mediation mentioned in #2—which went on for about seven months—is null.
Some board members claim no causality between the findings of the investigation in number 3 and the pastor’s resignation. Considering that the Senior Pastor is the one that was accused by a multitude of people as the one fostering the hostile workplace stuff, that is laughable. The number of people to jump ship under his leadership is remarkable. The only way to know what the relationship between his resignation and the investigation is if the investigation findings are released.
Following their unanimous vote, the board thought it best to send their minions to various church events to calm the sheep that might be considering jumping ship. Their approach reminds me of my Navy days when we were on the Alaska Cruise. The captain came on the ship’s intercom one afternoon and said, “I can’t tell you what we’re doing out here but you’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work”.
Hint to my blog readers and members of the board, don’t send a known weasel out to try to calm the sensibilities of the masses. Having a person of such dubious character saying “anything you might wish to know is none of your business” can hardly be regarded as a competent strategy. The board’s position is trust us; we know what’s good for you. Wasn’t that Gavin’s line on closing churches during Covid?
When asked about the Matthew quote above, we are told the Bible doesn’t apply in the internal working of the church. Only state law matters. (If you think this sounds like the same rabbit hole that we just went down with Covid, I would wholeheartedly agree.)
Oh, we were also told that to make anything public would be to expose the church to litigation. Better to cover up the offenses. Again, opposite of biblical teaching. Oh, ditto for any type of apology to those that suffered under an unrepentant task master that created the alleged hostile work environment.
Folks, I’m not even on Facebook and the stuff that I know that was posted there is highly corrosive.
I could get into the tall weeds on this topic but why? I think you get the picture. It’s beyond ugly, it’s downright toxic. Irrecoverably so.
In the midst of all this, it did get even weirder. The spokesmen of the board are scared to death about the membership suffering or the weekly offering declining more. People have left the church over this—more on that in a minute. The sermon hymn last Sunday was “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love”.
The message from the church board is you have no right to know what happened. Its none of your business. But trust us. Stay here and we can go forward together just don’t expect us to do that healing stuff. Oh, and keep tossing money in the collection.
Lost in all this is that Biblical stuff about restitution and reconciliation.
This is a labor law, personnel matter, and you have no right to know even though you are the ones paying their salaries.
Based on my experience, this is how this will playout. A group of people will definitely leave over this mess. People act emotionally not intellectually to such things. Then in about six months, another group will exit. These are the ones that stayed to see if things will get better and they didn’t meet expectations.
Oh, we were told amidst a tidal wave of weasel words that the pastor didn’t have to resign. Folks, this ain’t his first rodeo. He left to save face. Better to retreat and live to fight another day.
Lastly after getting run out on a rail, the disgraced pastor got a going away party sponsored by the church and held on church property. My wife and I went out of curiosity. The number of people that didn’t show up was illustrative as well.
My attitude is that we’re leaving shortly for Idaho so in many ways we don’t have a dog in this hunt. I’m not emotional about the office mismanagement as much as the failure of the pastors to lead during Covid. The pastor needed to go because he lacked a spine to do the right thing. The fact that it’s not his reflex to trust Scripture speaks volumes to me.
Lastly, on the spineless comment, this pastor would occasionally say something right from the pulpit and the very next Sunday he would begin the service with an apology because a few people got offended by his comment the previous week. He would then retract what he said, ask for forgiveness, and promise not to do it again.
Again, where’s the Bible? Jesus said his words would be an offense. Many quit following Jesus because people disagreed with him or didn’t understand his words. At one point he even asked his disciples if they would leave too.
A church that can’t follow the Bible when it might have a cost is not worth defending. It needs to be vomited out. I’m thinking really hard if my money will continue to go there or elsewhere during my remaining time in Elk Grove.
This church has problems because the pastoral sermons stay in the shallow end of the theological pool and don’t give the meat of the Word to their members. So, when times get tough, we get to watch everyone play the baby game because they’ve never matured from the church’s teaching; or lack thereof. “Safe” sermons are worthless ones and sadly way to frequently given.
Just as I was preparing to post this blog, I get an email from the board. Guess the board meeting a couple days ago was not poorly attended like days gone by. Anyway, they sent out a communique tonight. I will redact a few names but let you have a feel for what was sent.
In October of 2021, the Church Council received complaints of hostile work environment from Church staff against a Pastor … In April of 2022, the Church Council retained an attorney … to conduct an internal investigation into those complaints as well as allegations of inappropriate behavior.
… the attorney, worked with a sub-committee appointed by Church Council to establish the parameters of the investigation. The purpose of the investigation was to dismiss or substantiate the hostile work environment allegations. The scope of the investigation involved gathering information from the complainants, the pastoral staff and members of the Church Council. (attorney’s) scope was limited to conducting unbiased interviews, gathering information/fact finding, creating a report and recommendations, and presenting this information to the Church Council appointed sub-committee.
Following an extensive investigation, it was determined this Pastor’s conduct did not rise to the level of unlawful hostile work environment under California or federal law. The investigator did conclude, however, that there was inappropriate conduct.
The sub-committee and Mr. (attorney) recommended a corrective action plan to address the inappropriate conduct and prevent it in the future. Some of the recommendations, by law, are prohibited from being disclosed.
I’ll keep following this situation in case it warrants another post.