First, I would like to thank you for taking time come to our site and to read any of these posts, some of which are indeed disconcerting. This particular post is to answer any who may wonder: “Why criticize churches?” or “Why don’t you just move on, forgive and forget?” or “Why name names?” Well, this post is designed to help all who would disagree with what I’ve shared and plan to share, as I “pick up the rug” where much has been “swept under” it over many years! Being silent is the easiest thing to do. I’d actually much rather do that as I am of a quiet nature, but the “fire burns” within of seeking to help others and warn them. Over the past 4 years or so since we left Tabernacle Baptist of Hickory, NC, what we experienced there and at other places has moved me to speak out and share those experiences to help others.
Second, I am constantly seeking to be more Biblical in my learning and my life…as should we all. No believer will “get there” in this life, but we are to strive to that end.
Third, the Scriptures detail the wrongdoing of others, such as the apostle Paul referring to “Alexander the coppersmith who did me much evil” (2 Timothy 4:14), and the apostle John wrote of Diotrephes who “loveth to have the preeminence among them…I will remember the deeds which he doeth…” (3 John v. 9-10). These are two Biblical examples from which I’m drawing.
Fourth, multitudes of folk quietly leave a church or ministry and avoid making any waves. That is fine, but that type of response so often abandons the underlying issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes, folk who leave do not want to hear truth that is being proclaimed. On the other hand, fault may NOT be to the folk leaving. Churches are made up of fallible human beings, including pastors, and they are NOT perfect! Sometimes, churches are in the wrong. Even church constitutions or bylaws can be wrong.
Fifth, the Scriptures tell us “All things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28). This includes both good and bad working together. We’ve found that both good and bad church situations have worked together for our good, and we’re VERY grateful!
Just today, January 10, I received a text from a pastor in WA with whom I’d left a message about possibly helping us promote an online effort called “Doubt Darwin Day.” In response, he sent a blunt “we’re not having you again” text! What ensued was a series of back and forth messages that were indeed eye-opening! I gained more understanding of this pastor’s illegitimate and illogical perspective. When I asked for details about why he thought my heart wasn’t in my presentations, or why the presentations were (his words) “god aweful” and “bad,” he refused.
This left me no reason to take any of his criticisms seriously, especially since he had no specific information to offer that would help me, and waited months to tell me this…of course, long after anyone can remember details. His public words and behavior the times we have been with him in meetings have left me wondering if he is serious or if he’s a believer! He accused me of not being prepared, but he was not even concerned enough about the meetings to announce them on the church sign (see below) or to make sure that an electrical connection for our RV was sufficient.
These things really aren’t a huge deal since we’ve been in meetings many times at ill-prepared churches before, but his behavior was the most disconcerting. He would take the Name of our LORD in vain (as in the text above)! He regularly acted embarrassingly stupid, such as when I took a picture of the congregation from the front of the platform. Just before I took it, he quickly moved over to sit beside my wife and placed his arm around her! Yet, everyone (including us) just laughs off this behavior. Regardless of negative feedback, I believe folk should be warned of individuals like this. Our experience with this pastor is limited to two weeks of meetings over the last 4 or so years. If you live in that area and are concerned about such, feel free to contact us for more information. Negative circumstances such as this can be and have been used of the LORD to help us in many different ways, and I honestly say that I’m grateful. While I’d much rather see the “all things” of Romans 8:28 include only positive experiences, both “good” and “bad” do work together for “GOOD to them that love the LORD.”
Sixth, our purposes in sharing such “telltale” church situations is to praise our LORD for His working in our lives, providing for us, protecting us, and delivering us from or through those situations. Sadly, not every assembly welcomes every believer.
Seventh, like the apostle Paul instructed Timothy, we warn others: “Of whom be thou ware also.”
Dear Reader, if you have any input, constructive comments, or even hate mail, etc. feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be glad to receive, read, and respond.
The LORD bless!
Brother Jeff Setzer, Creation Family Ministries