Re: The Trapped Pastor
Here is a post by std_for_ever posted on Escape From the Fellowship.
I have only read this one post in this thread. It is here that I must inject a much needed point. I have yet to meet a single Fellowship Pastor that was qualified to be a pastor. The averge
fellowship pastor doesn't have any formal biblical training, no formal counseling training, no managment skills, ... The average fellowship pasotr is launched soley because he kissed butt better
than any of the other disciples. Proof of this can be found in those churches that have pulled from the fellowship and succeeded in staying a church. They operate just as Ken described. The follow
the fellowship pattern but drop the fellowship name. Worthless.
If a fellowship pastor ever comes to see the scam, he should at least attempt to be an honarable man and stop scamming those in his church by posing as a pastor.
If he had any b***s at all he would use a Sunday Morning sermon to lay out his exact findings, conclusions and intentions of leaving. He can inform the fellowship of his plans right before he locks the door on his way to the moving van. He should encourage everyone in his church to go find a healthy church to attend and offer them a list of such places. In other words he shouldn't just leave, resign, or pull the church from the fellowship. He should fold it up right then and there with no further services to be held. If he is smart, he will sell off all church assets and give the money to another church, or just donate them to another church. (Required by law when a 501c3 folds up). Since the building lease is probably in
his name anyway, closing the doors could be quick. What he needs to do is make sure there is nothing left for his mother church or the fellowship to come and posses.
If the fellowship pastor cannot do the former, he should do as George Piper did. He stood up on a sunday morning and told the church he had resigned and was leaving the state. The Kileen church is still there and none the worse for his exit.
- [If he had any b***s at all he would use a Sunday Morning sermon to lay out his exact findings, conclusions and intentions of leaving. He can inform the fellowship of his plans right before he locks the door on his way to the moving van. He should encourage everyone in his church to go find a healthy church to attend and offer them a list of such places. In other words he shouldn't just leave, resign, or pull the church from the fellowship. He should fold it up right then and there with no further services to be held.]
In February of 1993 I was remaining in the church building after prayer meeting to have my own time of private prayer and reading the Bible for my own enjoyment. I had been doing this for several months. What had been leaping out at me in the New Testament, and even the Old Testament, was the grace of God on His people. The whole legalistic trip of the fellowship was becoming more and more obvious to me. What Paul said about people serving men rather than God was also just too similar to what I was involved in. The description Jesus gave of the those who would be His leaders, servants of the church, was in stark contrast to the arrogant leadership of the fellowship, especially the leader himself.
I also was grieved by the severe hatred with which we treated those who left. The last three years we had heard sermon after sermon about what dogs those who left were, especially the leaders and pastors who left in 1990. Those who were once heroes of the faith were now the enemy. Old Man Mitch himself told me they were "suck egg dogs".
The media rules were also an issue for me. They were the height of hypocrisy. There was no way a thinking person could avoid the fact that this was indeed hypocritical. Leaders were watching all kinds of movies in motels, even renting rooms for that sole purpose, and then throwing people out of public ministry for going to see the same movies in the theater.
I had been observing Calvary Chapel for a number of months. We had been taught to preach against mega churches for years. I started listening to the local Calvary pastor on the radio. I found his messages Biblically sound, and I enjoyed the teaching style. I also greatly enjoyed listening to Chuck Swindoll. In my studies of the Bible I could not escape from the fact that Jesus, Who would have to be considered the perfect example, went into the synagogue, sat down, and taught. We were told that teaching ministries were lukewarm. So if the Son of God showed up in the flesh today, Mitch and the gang would say He was not an anointed, on fire preacher. I was seeing so many things like this where they were teaching things totally contrary to the Bible.
As I continued to sit there in the church it was like the lights went on. I saw it. I saw the religious slavery and the gospel of hate, fear, and condemnation that Wayman O. taught us all. I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't just go along with it any more.
I came up with a plan. I would slowly reverse my teachings. I knew that just totally changing everything at once would tend to destabilize people and would bring the fellowship police to my door. However, I decided that I would take the time to undo as much of the false doctrine that I had been teaching as I could. I felt a tremendous peace about doing this.
I figured it would take me about two years to really change things. First I preached a series on grace. You could feel the weight lift off the congregation. However, there was a lot more that I wanted to change. The forced tongues, the force tithing and giving, the bashing of other churches and Christians, the forced attendance, the forced conferences, the endless alter calls for all who were still not good enough, etc. In the end I wanted to develop a teaching ministry, rather than the hot air sermons of the fellowship which were about as Biblical as Mad Magazine.
Things were starting to change, but then I was "reported". This was about a year after that time in prayer meeting. I had gotten myself in a bit of trouble by preaching at the 1993 April Gallup, New Mexico conference and bashing the leaders for the hypocritical movie rules. So, Lord Wayman was ready to receive the report.
What I was finally called on the carpet for was allowing my Bible study leaders to vote out the movie rules (and for daring to call Lord Wayman a Pope). I was ordered to recant or get out by none other than Dale Reece. Since this vote to end the stupid movie rules was unanimous, I would not back down. The majority of the people in the church did not want to go back to the vomit of the fellowship, so I ended up pulling out.
I still had quite a ways to go in implimenting the changes I had planned on. By bringing the situation quickly to crisis, Waymanchrist was able to destabilize the church, and with the help of an inside man, split it, and whittle it down. I pulled out of the fellowship in April of 1994 and I closed the church in July of 1995 with only a handful of people left, and a mound of debt, mostly on my credit cards and personal loans that I used to plant a man in Panama. That man decided to stay with the fellowship when I pulled. Most of the people in my church ended up at Calvary Chapel, at least for a season, as I had been praising that ministry for some time. Some moved on to other churches after Calvary, and some moved on to other beliefs. Some, who really like the "spirit filled" stuff went to Charismatic churches. A handful ended up at the Potter's House across town, but I think most of those eventually left as well.
That is a brief summary. Next I will contrast this with another pastor who left.
[I have only read this one post in this thread. It is here that I must inject a much needed point. I have yet to meet a single Fellowship Pastor that was qualified to be a pastor. The averge
fellowship pastor doesn't have any formal biblical training, no formal counseling training, no managment skills, ... The average fellowship pastor is launched soley because he kissed butt better than any of the other disciples. Proof of this can be found in those churches that have pulled from the fellowship and succeeded in staying a church. They operate just as Ken described. The follow the fellowship pattern but drop the fellowship name. Worthless.]
Now I will give a brief summary of another pastor who left the fellowship. This man simply resigned and gave the church back to the fellowship. I mentioned him before as the one who said that you cannot work with fellowship people. In the two years preceding my own exodus from the fellowship, this man and I had a few intense conversations about what we were seeing with the hypocrisy and the brutal leadership. However, when I pulled out, this fellow mocked me on the phone while Mitch was tearing apart my church.
He stayed in another five or six years after I left. When he did finally leave he contacted me and even wrote me a letter of apology, which I in no way required. As we talked certain things came out. He said we had no real friendships in the fellowship, but that he wanted to renew his friendship with me. However, I soon found the friendship to be very conditional on my giving him dominance in any conversation. He could talk about the "things of God" but I could not discuss any of my beliefs or my study of astrology with him. He was still very much like the fellowship.
He told me about going to his pastor/leader to resign and to tell this leader exactly why he was leaving. He said that this leader trembled through the entire two and half hour conversation and essentially agreed with all of his objections. However, this leader's constant come back was that there is no perfect fellowship. This pastor asked this leader if what I had told the pastor about the circumstances of my being thrown out was true. The leader said it was true, but that the important thing was that no one found out.
This pastor resigned the church and then moved clear across the country to link up with another church which he connected to through the Brownsville "revival". He got a job doing clean room work, but his ambition was to get a ministry position. He eventually, through writing proposals to the church leadership, obtained a pastoral position. The church was on the "spirit filled" side, i.e., Charismatic.
What is interesting to me is that he used his fellowship experience as a pastor as a qualification to have a ministry position in this church. While I do not subscribe to the idea that you have to have formal training to be a good pastor, or that such formal training would qualify anyone necessarily, I have to wonder. This man, like myself, saw the fellowship as evil from the roots up. Yet, he felt his fellowship experience qualified him for ministry. Could this church, which hired him, be somewhat like the fellowship?
This brings up another issue. The whole idea of believing that you are called to preach has a profound effect on those pastors who leave the fellowship. Just because the fellowship was phoney, does that mean your calling was also phoney? This is something I struggled with. I found myself wishing I had completed my education and done something else with my life. On the other hand, I really did believe I was called to pastor and preach. To say that a fellowship pastor should just chuck it sounds right, but it is not always that simple.
It does seem to be true that most who make in the "ministry" after they get out end up going back to the fellowship pattern. In the case of this man it would be interesting to get some of his current sermons. Is he still threatening people with loss salvation if they don't do what he says they need to do to "stay saved"? If so, he has simply found another group where he can utilize his fellowship background as a spiritual dictator and exploiter.
Eventually he pretty much cut me off. When my divorce was coming down he offered to have me come stay with him, find a job, etc., but I would have to conform to his beliefs if I had done that. He acted pretty much the same as a fellowship pastor.
Meanwhile his fellowship church is still in the fellowship. I have to wonder what the people in the church thought when he left like that, and what the next pastor coming in had to say about it all. He was spared the horror of a church split, and I can't blame him for taking the route he did in regard to just leaving. He moved about 3,000 miles away and saved himself and his family a world of hurt.
My personal opinion is that he has simply gone to a slightly modified version of the fellowship. Is he preaching forced tithing? Is he preaching forced attendance? Is he threatening people's salvation unless they do this or that? If so, that really isn't much of a change. One of these days I will have to get a hold of something he preached recently. That would be very revealing.
[I have only read this one post in this thread. It is here that I must inject a much needed point. I have yet to meet a single Fellowship Pastor that was qualified to be a pastor. The averge
fellowship pastor doesn't have any formal biblical training, no formal counseling training, no managment skills, ... The average fellowship pasotr is launched soley because he kissed butt better than any of the other disciples. Proof of this can be found in those churches that have pulled from the fellowship and succeeded in staying a church. They operate just as Ken described. The follow the fellowship pattern but drop the fellowship name. Worthless.]
Then there is Ron Jones.
First, I want to say that I have nothing personal against Ron Jones. He was kind to me when I got out of the fellowship. However, that does not erase certain facts that I am going to discuss here.
Ron Jones is a Bible school graduate of the Assemblies of God. He hooked up with Mitch in the early days of church planting. He pioneered the church in Flagstaff. After that he returned to the Assemblies and was having success in building up a church. However, upon contacting the Mighty Mitch again he was told by the Seer of Prescott that he would miss his destiny if he stayed with the Assemblies.
So, Ron pioneered in Sierra Vista, Arizona. He did OK there. At one point, he and several others were ordained by Foursquare. At another point, Foursquare offered Jones the church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was a small congregation of 35 people. They did this independent of Lord Wayman. In other words, the opportunity for Ron to pastor this church was given to him by Foursquare, not Waymanchrist.
Ron had fantastic success in Colorado Springs. His church grew to 700 people. He became a favorite at conferences and it was said that the Colorado Springs conferences had a tremedous anointing on them. Ron, like Harold Warner and Greg Johnson, got along fairly well with Foursquare leadership, generally speaking.
Then came the break with Foursquare. Ron basically sided with Waymanchrist, and even took an offering at Prescott conference to buy back the church building there. However, Ron stayed in Foursquare for another full year after the rest of us left. It was under pressure from Lord Wayman that Ron finally pulled out and lost his own building. (This was when the Mighty Mitch met John Holland at Ron's building and prophesied doom over Foursquare.)
To make a long story short, Ron continued to do well over the next seven years but then he decided that he had built up enough of a fellowship of his own to be released from being under Prescott and the Pope. He wanted his church to be like unto Prescott, a mother church of its own fellowship. Wayman did not want to release Jones and the others who approached him about this and this led to the 1990 split.
Jones tried to continue with his ministry but fellowship forces, under the direction of Wayman O., began to undermine his church. He went from 700 down to 350 people in attendance. He was still holding conferences and trying to keep his baby works alive, but things got pretty grim.
Jones told me in 1994 that at one point he got to the place of dispair. He almost called Mitch up and "surrendered". He had been a barber in the past and went out one day and cut hair, thinking that his church might fall apart and that he would have to be making a living some other way than pastoring.
Now, I understand what std_for_ever is saying about the average fellowship pastor. Ron, however, was an ordained Bible school graduate. Yet, Mitch was still able to put him through the same hell on earth that he does to almost every pastor who leaves. Jones was getting more tolerant in his ministry, but that was leading to his church falling apart. So, in my opinion, he returned to the pattern of ministry that worked for him in the past.
To his credit, he did away with the hypocritical media rules. However, he reinforced many of the doctrines of the fellowship. You must come to church constantly, you must tithe to stay saved, you must submit, etc. As a result, he built back up, and exceeded his past growth.
Jones told me himself, in 1994, that he had lost about 85 to 90% of the people he had when he pulled from the fellowship. His strategy shifted from trying to keep people from leaving to recruiting new people at least at the same rate old people were leaving. This is what the fellowship has always done. He told me that he and his wife agreed not to speak about the fellowship any more. He said at that point they started growing.
A few months ago I had a conversation with a woman who had attended Ron Jones' church for a number of years. She and her husband left in 1998. She told of their fear of missing church because her husband was in "ministry" and how he was on the stage with a high fever because that was "faithfulness." She told me of the incredible pressure to give money. She also told me that when they finally did leave that they were totally shunned and considered backslidden. She mentioned that a friend of hers had recently visited Ron Jones church and was shocked to hear him bashing the other churches in town. Sound familiar? She said that when they left in 1998 the church was running about 1200 people.
A while back on Slam the Door, some ex members of Jones church showed up and talked about the enriching of the pastor and those he put on staff. Also, the giving of staff positions to relatives. So Chucky is not the only one. These ex members more or less affirmed that everything we were saying about the fellowship on Slam the Door was pretty much true of Jones' church and fellowship as well.
My opinion is that when the chips are down ex pastors of the fellowship have to make some decisions. Some lay it down and get out. If they remain Christians and want to return to ministry they seek a legitimate avenue to do so. Some, however, return to what worked for them so well in the fellowship, especially if they had any measure of success at all. For a show they change a few things here and there and say that these were the problems. They do not judge the fellowship "ministry" as it ought to be judged.
Jones did lose his church. If 90% had left when I talked to him in 1994, then what would the figure look like now in 2006? What he did was replace that church with people who know not Mitch, and who now look at Jones the same way people look at Mitch in the fellowship.
One ex fellowship leader told a friend of mine that being a fellowship leader was a fantastic experience. He told him it was like having the world at your feet. You were revered wherever you went. You could travel all over the world and stay in nice hotels. You could preach at conferences to enthralled audiences. What some are trying to do, and perhaps some have accomplished, is recapture that lifestyle. They use the methods that got them that lifestyle in the past. They didn't get out of the fellowship because they really judged it, or if they did start to judge it, they back peddled when they saw it was going to cost them everything that they achieved as a fellowship pastor/leader.
I am sorry, but if someone is still using the abusive and exploitive doctrines of the fellowship to have "success" in the "ministry," then they are still the same as Mitch.
Once again, I repeat, I have no personal vendetta against Ron Jones. If anything I would tend to favor him for the way he treated me. However, if someone who had hurt multitudes of people is nice to you, that doesn't negate the facts. I can't say to those people who are abused and exploited by a sham of a ministry, "Well, I think your pastor is a nice guy." That would be adding insult to injury for those poor folks.
So, it is not just the ignorant butt kissers who return to fellowship pattern after they leave Waymanland. It is any of these former successes who are not willing to pay the price to really escape from the fellowship. Why should they escape? They are the ones who ultimately benefit.
[If he had any b***s at all he would use a Sunday Morning sermon to lay out his exact findings, conclusions and intentions of leaving. He can inform the fellowship of his plans right before he locks the door on his way to the moving van. He should encourage everyone in his church to go find a healthy church to attend and offer them a list of such places. In other words he shouldn't just leave, resign, or pull the church from the fellowship. He should fold it up right then and there with no further services to be held. If he is smart, he will sell off all church assets and give the money to another church, or just donate them to another church(Required by law when a 501c3 folds up). Since the building lease is probably in
his name anyway, closing the doors could be quick. What he needs to do is make sure there is nothing left for his mother church or the fellowship to come and possess.]
There are some other senarios with all of this.
When the 1990 split occured, some pastors had never bothered to incorporate. As a result, Lord Wayman was able to get fellowship loyalists in their church to literally throw the pastor out. I heard of one couple who discovered the locks had been changed on their church building. The Serpant, Wayman, had been slithering behind the scenes making legal manuvers.
At first, after we left Foursquare, we were told to incorporate on our own and do our own bylaws. But at one point Lord Wayman offered to send out bylaws that were ready made. The purpose of this was to have the kind of by laws that Wayman could exploit if a pastor was to try and pull his church out.
We were also told that we should not have church members on our official church board. We would have the council made up of men from the church. However, with non profit organizations there is a requirement of a board, usually requiring at least three board members. We were told to name leaders of the fellowship as members of our church board. Gee, I wonder why? We were told that this was to avoid rebellious church board members. It was so Wayman would have his buddies on your board if you tried to pull. I didn't fall for this and most of those leaders who they wanted us to have on our church boards have left the fellowship themselves.
Many pastors got out in one of the two group exoduses, especially 1990. They then looked to the rebel leaders for their guidance. This gave the idea that they were still called and should continue to pastor. This relates to the idea that the fellowship was a good thing that went bad and that they needed to return to the original vision, etc.
Mitch is now using the strategy of getting men to sign this funky agreement that if they ever leave they have to surrender all church assets, physical and human to the fellowship. What those who have signed this piece of paper should do is go to a lawyer who specializes in non profit incorporation and form a new corporation. Have members of the church join this organization and Mitch's piece of paper is moot. Then the pastor could at least have control over the situation if he decides to get out.
Rather than just walk in one day and try to explain all that is wrong with the fellowship it might be better to get some outside education on the Bible. There are courses online that a pastor can take. If a fellowship pastor engages in real Bible study he will immediately see how much of fellowship teachings are bogus. He can then start to teach some balanced stuff. He can also stop enforcing legalistic rules for a season and then just quietly do away with them. He will then have to brace himself for when he is reported, for there will almost always be a zealous disciple out there who will call Prescott out of "concern".
Bottom line is, there is no easy answer. Every situation is different. For those pastors who left after they no longer had children at home it was probably not as bad, for example. For those who were able to get out of town immediately it was probably easier than for those who remained in the same city. All kinds of different factors are involved.
How a pastor does when he leaves, and how people in general who leave do, is related to how much of the fellowship scam they see through. Some go to Pentecostal churches which are almost as severe as the fellowship, and sometimes even get a position in one of them. Some see through the whole thing and never are caught up in anything like it again. Some go through stress worrying about finding another church right away, and some take their time. Some ex pastors lose their minds trying to figure out if their call to preach that they were so sure of in the fellowship is real. If so, what do they do about it?
Jack Harris allowed his church to vote as to whether or not to keep him as pastor or stay with the fellowship. They voted to keep Jack. That church became a part of Praise Chapel and Jack gave it to Larry Nevelle to pastor. It would be interesting to find out how many people are in that church today who were there when Jack took the vote. Maybe there should have been a third choice on the ballot to just get out of the whole thing. Who knows?
Some pastors just ran off with their girlfriend. I know of at least one leader who opted for a generous settlement to surrender a key church. Some became car salesmen. One is reported to be an astrologer.
There are so many different stories. We will never hear them all. I can tell you from experience, however, that when a pastor reaches the crossroads where he must decide to stay or leave, he is in a hot seat that is hard to describe. But just like most people leave the fellowship, most pastors also one day hit the exit for the last time.