Thursday, June 12, 2008

Collateral Damage of the Purpose Driven Pastor

My eight year old son's Sunday School class ended 10 minutes before the class that I taught ended. He would quietly open the door, find a seat and listen and wait for his father. The room of adults loved rubbing his head and hugging on him. My son and and I would then meet up with my wife and 13 year old daughter to attend service. This went on for about 2 years.

Then one day my son asked, "Daddy, why aren't you teaching Sunday School? Did you do something wrong?" I assured him I did not do anything wrong, and that I was taking a break from teaching.

A few weeks later, my son asked, "Daddy, aren't we going to church today?" A few months later, my son asked, "Daddy, aren't we going to go to church anymore? Can we go back, please?"

I did not tell my son that:
- the pastor had lied, manipulated, and breached confidentiality (a civil offense under the Commonwealth of Virginia)
- I was removed as a Sunday School teacher for refusing to back down from my originally confidential and discreet position on the Purpose Driven program.
- I was no longer welcome to attend Sunday School at this church.
- the pastor refused to respond in writing for my removal which occurred without a vote by the congregation that originally voted to install me as a teacher and a deacon
- the pastor told my Sunday School class I was removed for challenging his authority
- the deacons claimed I was removed temporarily for an investigation they did not conduct
- the pastor's refusal to allow the congregation to hear the either side of the complaint
- my fellow deacons cutoff the mediation process with a mediator from the state convention
- my fellow deacons sent me a letter stating that they see no evidence of pastoral misconduct or theological issues with Purpose Driven.

No, I did not tell my son these things, but he knew something bad happened because he saw it on the faces of my wife and daughter.

It may be hard to prove in a court of law that Rick Warren owns vicarious liability for the social and emotional harm that was done to my family.

But Warren and his pastor network will have their ultimate Day in Court with The Judge of The Ages.

This is my family's story, and you can read my appeal to the men referred to in this post here.

Does Rick Warren have any moral, ethical, social, legal or biblical responsibility for the consequential harm that his program generates? Does the Southern Baptist Convention share this responsibility as well since Rick Warren is a Southern Baptist minister?

See the rest of the story at Purpose Driven Away From Immanuel Baptist Church .

See related article: Dismembered By Purpose Driven Pastors , SBC President Not Interested In the Victims of Purpose Driven


  1. AnonymousJune 12, 2008

    And the church where this happened is called...?

  2. Asleep...

    At this time I am refraining from names and places in hopes that the church leaders have a change of heart and apologize.

    They Know who and where they are...

  3. I am so sorry you had to go through this awful experience. I hope in the end everyone repents of what they did. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Welcome to the unbiblical church set up we have here! VERY SAD! I pray your family, especially for your son's sake, finds a new church home to fellowship with.

  5. You could leave blanks for the names and fill in our names and church and it would fit. We have gone through a very similar situation. You are not alone - Just hold on to God's Word and don't compromise! We also have 3 children, who are older, but the effect on them was (and is) very difficult.

  6. Jim,

    I am glad you shared this. It is good that those of us who have been "forced out" of our churches where we ministered come know that we are not alone in this. Be blessed my brother.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Seems like the best thing for you to do in the interim is find a new church and move on. The sooner, the better for your son.

  8. Jim - in HOPES they apologize? Matt 18 says if they don't listen, take it to the church. We're waiting...

    (of course it is not a Matt 18 issue, so you are free to mark them publicly right off the bat.)

    I do hope you tell these things to your kids so they can learn to discern. They can understand it and they need to, Ours were 12, 10, and 6 when we went through it, and they understand SO much more for it. We kept them apprised as much as they could understand but made sure they knew that even though adults were behaving badly they should not be afraid or treat them disrespectfully. They also get to see us react to them when we run into them in town. This is a powerful testimony when they really know what has gone on.

    BTW my church was Oak Heights Evangelical Covenant church. I know that Maple Grove Covenant church and Bethany Covenant church (both in suburbs of the Twin Cities) have gone through purpose driven splits. It's like a looong train wreck that never seems to stop. The Northwest Conference Director whined at one of the meetings where they were called in to 'help' that it used to be that they would get 3 complaints about pastors a YEAR or something - and now they get 3 a month, and are currently dealing with 30 church conflicts in their district. (numbers are approximate, I can't remember exactly, but the idea is the same.) I think there are about 120 churches in the Northwest Conference. I'm sure there are plenty of 'problems' that aren't getting brought to him too. But in context, his reason for bringing this up was to make these PD resisters feel guilty for putting him out when his schedule was so busy... making them feel as if they were just the product of their shallow whiny culture and that they were the cause of all these church problems.

  9. minthegap I agree - - but moving on before you realize what the problem is usually guarantees you'll jump right back into another one. Many people leave for the wrong reasons, and end up right back in it somewhere else.

  10. Understood-- it's a good point. You do need to know why you left, but that should make you more discerning in the next place you end up.

    The problem is that if you delay too long, your kids will see someone they've been taught to respect-- a pastor-- taken down a few notches, and they will see a side of Christianity that does not honor Christ.

    You have to guard your language well, and find a new place that they can grow. There will come a time to explain it to them-- why you had to leave, what was going on-- but not at a time when they will question God because of what man does.

  11. Folks,

    Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

    Regarding the public marking of the former church...I do agree. My hope is an active hope. Reconciliation has recently been attempted with the former church and the NEW pastor. It does not seem promising but I am allowing them a little more time.

    When it's brought to conclusion, I will report the results.

  12. It is sad. I recall a multitude of little changes over a five to six year period --- before PDL was even known about in my Church by the average member. The pastor at my Church replaced me as a teacher at one years' close, and told me that I had worked very hard, and needed a breather. I had never asked to step down, but was just benignly cast aside. Very slick. I made the mistake of trusting my pastor, and he systematically gutted our Church. Many in the Church asked why I had refused to continue teaching, and I just took it as lack of knowledge on the situation. Little did I know! My oh my, Rick Warren's parents should be sooo proud of him. I will state for the record that my Church is in Colonial Heights, Va. The name doesn't really matter, since the PDL disease has overtaken most of the Baptist Churches here in one form or another. Well Rick, you got by me, but there is another that will not be so naive! Take pride in the hopeless end that you lead others towards, and know that you will be held accountable. Enjoy the ride. C.W.

  13. Truly sad. My only caveat is we are only getting one side of the story. While not negating the pain you have gone through i have seen many people with a rebellious attitude wonder why they are being removed from their positions.

    If all of the leadership turned against you, my question would be why?

  14. The church in question and the details can now be found in this post:

    Say,"It Ain't So", Immanuel Baptist Church

  15. I also attend an Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville, NC. Our "takeover" has been brewing for several months after our church called its new pastor. During Sunday's (10/5/08) sermon, he drew his line in the sand. If you do not agree with his (and God's) changes, you have another agenda. Those that question his changes....will not leave quietly. If you are not for change, our church will not grow. I had misgivings as he stopped preaching God's word and began a "series" of sermons on change several weeks ago. I sat there on Sunday with my mouth open as he told the people that he knew what God wanted us to do and if you disagree, then you know where the door is.

  16. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for your note. I would encourage you to consider using the existing structure ( Deacons, elders ) in the church to address the expressed intent of the new pastor.

    I am convinced that when these take-overs occur, those that oppose these transitions must stand up swiftly, orderly, and publically regardless of outcome or result and call the pastor into account.

    It is painful, but each Bible believing Christian must stand up to the private ambitions of wayward pastors once he reveals his intent.

  17. Very true. I was on staff at another church where the pastor did exactly the same things and the church went along with it although several of us tried to open people's eyes with facts and Biblical truths. I ended up stepping down since I could not support the pastor and what he was doing. The people took a blind eye to everything which is exactly what is happening at this church.


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