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Unsettling.  Ugly. According to the pastor: The PURPOSE of this website and the videos on it is to protect Beaverton Grace Bible Church and our families from ongoing slander and criminal accusations of the worst kind. Meaghan Varela has lied to her family, friends, pastors, the police, the Department of Human Services (Child Protection), the court, and the world. Julie Anne Smith has joined her in her lies and heralded them forth to the world on her blog (BGBC Survivors) dedicated to the destruction of our church and families. Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Meaghan Varela and Julie Anne Smith have given “false witness” against our church and families for four years. The statements and videos on this website tell our story of suffering and surviving their assault. We are the TRUE BGBC SURVIVORS. via True BGBC Survivors | Surviving Four Years of Hate, Reviling Accusations, and Criminal Slander. How horrible. But… what would you do? What would you do if you were accused (wrongfully) of child abuse… if your church was accused of horrible things? I have no idea whether or not any of these abuses actually happened. What I do know is that, regardless, this is a horrible public glimpse into a church conflict. Thoughts? Todd

Here’s an interesting commentary… what do you think?  Great idea, or horrible one? Many church staff in congregations perform several ministry functions even though they are not officially a “pastor”. Special attention to church staff (youth directors, associate ministers, musicians, office assistants, interns, educators, etc…) and their work wellness. Appreciating their work is not enough (a raise wouldn’t hurt). Pastors and church leadership need give more time off in a world where church staff have to do “more with less”. Micromanaging, low pay, unreasonable expectations, many evening commitments, and poorly managed church conflict all lead to staff burnout. Giving the standard “two weeks” vacation is another sure-fire way to burnout staff. Years ago, Google allowed their employees to spend up to 20% of their work time on side projects. What if churches let church staff blog, create, dream, build, write, or encourage creativity through side projects? Allowing church staff to express themselves through under utilized skills or talents may help a church find a new ministry. In addition, it allows the church staff to explore and create – something that is innate within humanity. Suppressing creativity only leads to frustration. Churches would be well advised to use a Google-like project to guard against burnout. // Read more here… What do YOU think? How do you help reduce burnout on your staff? Todd  

Truth be told.  We’ve all been there. Conflict in church settings in inevitable. When should we stay and fight, and when should we leave? That’s a tough question. Joe McKeever makes an impassioned plea about the reputation of the Body of Chris when these conflicts happen. He asks the question (and I think it’s a good one):  Why can’t we just walk away and let ourselves be wronged? In some cases… it really is probably the best answer. Joe writes: Why not let yourself be wronged?  Why not just “take your lumps” and walk away? Do it… for God’s sake. His honor is at stake here. That should matter to you more than your rights. for sanity’s sake.Think of the sheer stupidity of what you are doing. for the sake of your witness. These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. for goodness sake. “All you are doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, and more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.” Only the strongest can walk away from a fight he could win but for which the cost would be too high. 1) Consider the collateral damage to a fight. In brawls on television, furniture gets broken, windows busted, and onlookers injured. In “real life,” churches get destroyed, outsiders get disgusted, young believers get neglected, missions get sidetracked, and the honor of Jesus Christ takes a major hit. The weak among us–the carnal and the cowardly posing as the courageous and the conquerors–will insist these things will resolve themselves, that all that matters is setting someone straight. Back away from such a one. He is your biggest enemy and needs to be quarantined. 2) Consider what Jesus would do. They said, “Lord, speak to my brother. Tell him to divide the inheritance with me.” The trial lawyer in us wants to take that case. “All right, what are the facts? What would be fair? Why is that brother being so heavy-handed and selfish? What does justice require?” Jesus walked away from it. “Sir, who made me your judge? You be careful of greed. Life is not about how much you can possess.” (Luke 12:13-15) This does not compute, does it? For those of us willing to take up every case, who insist on righting every wrong and punishing every wrong-doer, we are not satisfied with the Lord’s answer. Jesus loses no sleep over not satisfying our sense of fair play. He had, as the saying goes, bigger fish to fry. Something He kept calling “my hour” and “the Father’s will.” He was trying to change men’s hearts in order to change their lives in order to transform their destiny. The temptation to take every detour that opened up, even those offering attractive soul-satisfying vistas and feel-good revenge settlements, must be resisted. 3) Consider who we are in Christ. Again and again, the Apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know?” that we will judge the world and the angels? (vv.2,3) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom? (v.9-10) your bodies are members of Christ? (v.14) your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (v. 19) The ramifications of these principles are mind-boggling. Because of who we are in Christ, we can walk away from lesser things, wrong things, and even good things. It’s all because we choose the best things. When you take your brother to court to get your rights, you are defeated before you start. (6:7) So, why not rather be wronged? // Read more here:  Church Conflict: Why Not Rather be Wronged?  OUCH. So… what do YOU think? I’d love to hear your comments below.  Come on… you’ve made it this far… what do YOU think about when you should stay and fight, and when you should walk away, even if you feel like you were wronged? Leave your comment below… Thanks! Todd

Bill Wilson has an interesting piece over at about how to manage conflict when it appears that neither party is really in the wrong: To be sure, there are many questions that have a single, clear answer. For example: Jesus is the Messiah. The Bible is the revealed Word of God. We practice congregational polity. There is a long list of single-answer questions. Some estimate that 95 percent of our concerns fall into the category of one-answer solutions. However, the remaining 5 percent of issues we face in congregational life is where the vast majority of misunderstandings and disagreement occur. Thus, there is great wisdom in being able to supplement traditional problem solving (either/or thinking) with polarity management (both/and thinking). Both combined will outperform either alone. In congregational life, typical polarities include internal/external focus, tradition/innovation, and clergy/laity leadership. Remember, polarities are those issues where there is no single right answer, but there is a polarity to be managed. Such polarities have two or more right answers that are interdependent. For example, when we ask if our church is going to be inwardly focused or outwardly focused, the best answer is a resounding “Yes!” The two polarity poles in the ensuing discussion are programming and care for those who are members of the church (internal focus), and a burden and care for those who are not part of the family of faith (external focus). A healthy church will constantly ask itself how it can do both, not which one is right and which one is wrong. Such a conversation will lead to an ongoing and vigorous discussion about how our church will live a both/and approach to ministry internally and externally. Polarities help us discover the both/and life of faith rather than always insisting on an either/or answer to every question. Neither side of the equation has an exclusive hold on truth. Neither is the right answer all the time. Another polarity every congregation faces is the way in which we navigate the tension between predictable traditions and unpredictable innovations. Healthy congregations know that both are essential for our life together. That’s all fine and dandy.  But what do you do in situations like this? Many of the most vexing issues we face as congregations will never be addressed in a healthy fashion by either/or thinking. It is only when we embrace the proverbial “genius of the and” that we can have a transforming impact for Christ upon our people and our culture. // Read more here… How have you dealt with situations like this? Todd

It’s true.  Change Sucks.  Ask some of the members of The Church At Carrollton, who are none too happy about change. Since Pastor Greg Drake came five years ago, some things have changed.  As noted in a news story, some people are ticked.  Royally ticked, actually. Here are the things cited that have changed: 1.  The church name (it used to be Abilene Baptist Church) 2.  No more ‘hymn book singing’ 3.  Removal of the piano and organ 4.  Printed words to songs are now “replaced by a screen” 5.  Several pews were removed 6.  Some stained glass was partially covered. 7.  Shut down Sunday School classes (these classes met for SS, then left before the service started) 8.  Walking away from the SBC The result?  A lawsuit in county court questioning the legal ownership of the church entity, going back to the original deed in 1876. Here’s the premise:  since the church changed it’s name this year, and is no longer operating under the Abiline Baptist name any longer, the 1876 deed that grated the land to “Abilene Baptist” has been revoked since the new entity is no longer using it for the said purpose of the deed (again, signed in 1876). One of the protesters is quoted in the article: “I just feel like the Lord wanted that to be Abilene Baptist Church, or otherwise he wouldn’t instill in these men back in the 1800s to put that in the deed…The said purposes has got to be Abilene Baptist Church. To me, it’s clear, the purposes are your ministries of the Baptist Church because it states that in the deed.” This guy’s also more than a little ticked that he’s no longer a deacon: “I just had a feeling from the Lord that it wasn’t supposed to be changed, and that’s when [Pastor Drake] told me that he removed me as a deacon. My dad was a deacon there, and I voted for all the former deacons because I felt like they wouldn’t want the name changed.” After all, his dad WAS a deacon. But wait… there’s more! Not long after the civil suit was filed, the church was called to defend against allegations in Carroll County Magistrate Court that the Rev. Drake had been removing flags from the graves of Civil War veterans buried in the church cemetery. Read more:Times-Georgian – Controversy at church where change has alienated some been embraced by others // All I can say is… change sucks. This is one of the more outrageous church conflicts that I’ve seen recently… but you know… things like this happen all the time.  They’re just not written about in the local newspaper (thankfully). I hope that I don’t become like this when I’m older. I hope that if/when I walk away from a church and it’s leadership, it’s about something much more important that hymnbooks, pews, stained glass and the like. I pray that I don’t end up a bitter, angry, hopeless man as I get older. Thoughts?      

One congregation in PA is having a bit of a conflict… in their morning worship services.  I’m surprised, with the advent of everyone having a video camera in their pocket these days, that there aren’t more videos of disrupted worship services, board meetings, and the like making their way onto the internet. If you were the pastor, how would YOU have handled this situation?  (Have you ever had anything like this happen in one of your worship services?) And if you were the congregation member, would you have walked out?  I mean… that’s what the pastor told people to do.  Have you ever been to a point where you could’ve been that guy? Love to hear your input on this one… Todd HT:  Groupsects

Current Events
Seventy “embarrassed and humiliated” Baptists want their pastor removed, saying he stole money from the church, made lewd remarks to women, threatened parishioners with a gun, and was involved in “violent criminal activity,” including waving a handgun at motorists while cruising with two open bottles of alcohol and two loaded guns in his pickup truck. The Rev. Theodore Baines Sr., who stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, presides over 90-year-old Mt. Olive Baptist Church “through threats and intimidation, without ever being approved through vote to be installed as pastor of the Church,” the disgruntled members say in their complaint in Harris County Court. They say the reverend has “desecrated the image and reputation of the church … and has brought shame and ridicule upon the church.” They claim Baines has defamed former, deceased pastors of the church; brandished a gun at a male congregant who dared to criticize him, and forced the man off church grounds; made lewd comments to female parishioners, old and young; “had his son, Reverend Theodore Baines Jr., electronically transfer funds from a bank account of the church to his personal bank account without the approval of the membership body of the church, with such transfers presently under investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges; [and] continually disrespected the church by uncontrollable consumption of alcohol while on duty as pastor at the church,” among other things. The plaintiffs say Baines was arrested on March 11, 2010 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawfully carrying a gun “after police in Fort Bend County, Texas received a call that a man (later identified as defendant Reverend Baines) was waving a handgun at motorists while driving on Highway 59 at FM 2218. Upon being arrested, police said that they found two open bottles of alcohol and two loaded firearms in the pickup truck of defendant Reverend Baines.” They say the incident was reported “in all of the local newspapers and on television,” and embarrassed and humiliated the church. (Via // How do churches get so screwed up? Todd