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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  

When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job. The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls. Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson. “I think justice comes and judgment will happen, but I don’t think that means an eternity of torment,” Holtz said. “But I can understand why people in my church aren’t ready to leave that behind. It’s something I’m still grappling with myself.” via What do you think? Rightfully fired?

The pastor of Greater New Zion Baptist addresses a fight that broke out at the church on Sunday. Pastor Levonia Ray was not there yesterday, but says he’s the focus of the controversy. He says a group of people in the congregation have called for his resignation. Pastor Ray says he will abide by the decision of the members, but that a small group of people have blocked the vote three times. The violence at the church required more than 30 deputies and officers to control the crowd. HT:

This is the question that more and more churches are having to deal with these days.  How do you deal with a pastor who has an addiction.  Maybe it’s an addiction to alcohol or drugs; maybe it’s a sexual addiction like pornography.  The question is… what should be done with a pastor that has an addiction of some kind when it is found out? This scenario has actually happened this past week at Twin City Fellowship.  Recently Bob Dewaay’s health was deteriorating and they weren’t sure what was wrong.  After a bunch of tests, it was determined that Bob had Alcoholic Hepatitis.  Bob had been a vocal part of the discernment movement (calling out those who he though here heretical) for the past years.  As it turns out, the diagnosis was news to everyone in his church, including his elders.  The reaction was quick.  Termination. You can hear how the church responded publicly here.  (It’s in the first ten minutes). How should a church respond when their leader is caught in an addiction? My thought is that the church acted properly in removing the man from leadership (although I think some of the words were rather harsh).  The shepherd of a congregation is held to a high standard, and I think this was the right decision. But what responsibility does the church have in the area of reconciliation? in the area of counseling and help?  and in the area of financial support of this man and his family? I think part of the answer to that question has to do with how the person caught reacts?  Are they repentant?  Are they making excuses?  Are they defiant? And if they are repentant, do you work out a restoration plan with them as a church?  Are they restored to their senior pastor role? And if you, for some reason, decide NOT to terminate, how do you proceed?  Publicly?  Privately?  Seems dangerous to the life of the church either way. As you can tell… I have few, if any answers. Dare I say what happens most often?  When this type of addiction is found in a staff person (especially a person in a senior role); many times the person if quietly fired (without giving a reason) and is simply moved on to another church.  This is what should NEVER happen. What are your thoughts?  If your pastor (or you) were diagnosed with Alcoholic Hepatitis (and no one even knew you drank); should you be terminated, rehabilitated, or what? Todd

It has all happened at the International Christian Center in Staten Island, NY.  Evidently, Pastor Russell Hodgins had access to a church credit card.  According to the article, Pastor Hodgins used the church credit card to pay for both church and personal expenses.  The pastor says he always reimbursed the church for the personal expenses. To the pastor’s defense, he says the accusations were brought against him by a disgruntled employee that he had fired. He says the church’s internal investigation and audit found no wrongdoing on his part. It seems a big issue under dispute:  what happened to the bonus points earned from the purchases.  It appears that the pastor may have used them himself rather than giving the points to the church. The whole thing blew up and became a distraction, said the pastor.  In fact, he resigned over the issue.  His statement reads in part: “In closing, for any procedural mistakes or errors in administrative judgment I may have made, I am deeply sorry… However, I emphatically state to you, before Almighty God, my hands are clean and my heart is pure. As for me and my house, we will continue to serve the Lord.” The Assemblies of God denomination is backing up the pastor:  An official of the denomination said he expected Rev. Hodgins would be assigned to lead one of the Assemblies’ “strong” churches in the near future. He said Rev. Hodgins wouldn’t be given such a post if there were concerns about him.  (Hodgins took ICC from 150 people to over 2000 in 12 years). A couple lessons from this from what I can read from the newspaper article: 1.  Don’t ever, in any situation, use a church credit card for personal use.  It will only invite problems. 2.  Be on the up and up.  Credit card points earned by the church should be used by the church.  Don’t lose your ministry over a free airline ticket or a restaurant gift certificate. 3.  If you make a mistake like this, clear it up quickly and clearly.  Statements like saying you’re deeply sorry for ‘any procedural mistakes or errors in administrative judgment’ sound like they come from the heart of a lawyer, not from the heart of a pastor.  Something more on the line of ‘I goofed up, and in retrospect, it was a stupid thing to do’ plays much better to me personally than apologizing for any ‘error in administrative judgment’. 4.  Hodgins had been a pastor at ICC since 1998… that’s 12 years.  That’s a lot of years of ministry down the drain for something like this. What are your thoughts? Do you have proper guidelines in place that keep you in check financially, expecially with the church credit card? How would you have responded in this situation (knowing only what you know from this article) if you were the pastor?  What if you were on the board or an elder in this church?  Is this something to lose a pastor of 12 years over? You can read more here… Todd

A recent study provides the top ten reasons that pastors get fired.  I know that many who read this blog have been fired for one reason or another over their ministry career.  And for those who haven’t been fired personally, they probably have had a role in letting someone on their staff go.  Take a look at these reasons and see if they ring true for you personally… 1. Control issues (who should run the church) 2. Poor people skills 3. Church’s resistance to change 4. Pastor’s leadership style (too strong) 5. Church was already conflicted when the pastor arrived 6. Decline in attendance and/or conditions 7. Pastor’s leadership style (too weak) 8. Administrative incompetence on the part of the pastor 9. Sexual misconduct 10. Conflict with other staff Does this sound about right?  Have you been fired?  Was it for one of these reasons?  Have you had to fire someone?  Why? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you! Todd PS — There are a few more reasons you could get fired here…

Many of you know Charles Hill.  He’s one of the guys behind THE STICKS conferences.  Charles and his family recently moved to Utah to plant a church in a very difficult area of the country.  Little did Charles know that he would soon find his church plant cut off from funding… all over a beer. Here’s part of an article from The Christian Post: Very few things take church planter Charles Hill by surprise. But when a group that agreed to support his new ministry work in the middle of a predominantly Mormon community suddenly pulled its financial backing and gave him the boot, he was totally caught off guard. Hill had just begun to host Bible studies and reach out to the unchurched and those who were seeking something outside of the dominant religious preference in Utah – where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered – when he got fired. He was allegedly let go because he drank half a beer in public during the new “Beer and Bible” meeting he started last month. While he was told that was the main issue, he doesn’t have all the details because he didn’t receive a phone call or e-mail from the decision makers, he said. His boss, whom he respects and who had given him permission to conduct “Beer and Bible,” broke the news to him a couple of weeks ago. He now has less than 60 days before he and his family – wife and three kids – are cut off from all funding and left “abandoned,” as he put it. “It’s troubling,” Hill told The Christian Post. “We’re out here trying to reach people as Jesus would. “It’s still baffling to me that when your boss has given you permission that you can still get terminated for something such as that.” Hill moved out to South Jordan, Utah, last year, leaving a growing church he founded in Ohio to answer God’s calling in what he says is the most unchurched state in the country. He gained financial support from a denomination – which he declined to name in order to keep things as respectful as he can – after being drawn to and recruited by a dynamic church planter (his boss) in the church body. In a city where around seven or eight out of 10 people are Mormon, Hill said he prayed a lot and battled with how he was going to reach people. He determined that bars and coffee shops were the few places that he would be able to meet with unchurched and non-LDS folks. He knew that starting a Bible study in a bar could potentially be an issue with the denomination, so he asked for permission from his boss. He was given the green light. But once word about the “Beer and Bible” meeting spread and reached the upper leadership at the denomination, the 36-year-old church planter was cut from the $280,000 support he was being given for his outreach and ministry efforts. He was only five months away from a church launch in a region where not one non-LDS church exists in 25 cities. One of the leaders, who wished to remain anonymous, in the denomination released a brief statement to The Christian Post on Monday, saying: “It’s not an issue of immorality or improper biblical behavior. We simply discovered there were instances in which we were not able to reconcile our differences as it concerns general Baptist principles.” Hill, whose father was an alcoholic, said he doesn’t even like drinking and isn’t much of a drinker at all. Though he doesn’t believe it’s a sin, one of the biggest reasons he hasn’t drank alcohol is because as a senior pastor, he didn’t want younger believers to stumble and drink too much. You can read more here… Here’s a video for Beer and Bible: I got to talk with Charles briefly at Exponential last week.  He was truly discouraged, but knows that God is up to something.  Take a moment to read his response here. Here’s what I learned (at least Charles’ side of the story): 1.  He asked for permission before starting the ‘beer and bible’ thing. 2.  He was given permission 3.  He was shortly thereafter told that the group sponsoring him was cutting ties (and funding) 4.  Charles is pretty much in the middle of Utah with no funding just months away from launching services. 5.  Charles has not heard directly from the group that was sponsoring him (other than they wouldn’t be sponsoring him anymore).  There seem to be no open lines of communication at this time.  Charles has apologized (which I don’t think he really needed to do since he asked permission) and even told the group he would not drink again.  No response. Regardless of your view on alchohol, this is not a good situation for Charles and his family.  They are trying to reach an area of the country that does not have one evangelical church (but tons of LDS churches).  And they have lost $280k in funding (that’s about 95% of their funding). If you can help, please contact Charles at his website (linked to above). Todd

Casey Graham says he is seeing a new trend in church staffing:  Firing the XP (Executive Pastor).  But why?  Here are three of the reasons Casey thinks are behind the trend: 1.  They were hired too early Most pastors in a church plant think they need an executive pastor to “get things done”.  The senior pastor is told if they want to grow they have to do less and let others do more, so the pastor hires the XP early on to get things done.  As the church grows the person that was hired was good for the church at 200 but not at 500.  The expectations are usually high for the XP because they are getting paid more than an administrative worker. Senior pastors:  You need to probably hire an assistant early on, not an XP!  The assistant usually can scale with you better than the big salary you will feel you need to pay an XP. 2.  Unclear job description XP’s usually are in charge of everything.  When the XP is in charge of everything it is very hard to define success for the job.  I usually see the XP doing a lot of everything but gets credit for very little.  The XP is then looked upon as someone who manages a lot but accomplishes a little.  When this happens the pastor starts to think, “What do you really do?  Are you really worth 50k?” Senior Pastors: It is extremely important to define very clear goals and responsibilities.  This happens in the hiring process AND the review process.  You should do formal reviews at least twice a year. 3. Controling pastor The pastor is told from conferences and books, “you can’t manage all your staff and meetings by yourself, someone else needs to do it.”  The pastor goes to the XP and says, “I need you to lead the staff and meetings.”  The change results in many people reporting to the XP and few to the senior guy.  This is cool for a little bit and the lead guy feels relief but soon after it falls apart.  It falls apart because the lead guy transfers the responsibility but not the authority.  If the XP still has to go to the lead guy for a yes or no on decisions it will not work.  Also, the lead pastor can start to feel “out of the loop” and things happen that he doesn’t know about and he feels out of control.  When this happens the controlling pastor snatches back the reigns and the XP feels defeated. Take a look at his blog for more insight on this trend, as well as an admonition to Senior Pastors everywhere… What do you think?  Are you seeing this happen more and more?  Have you fired an XP recently?  Or, are you an XP that recently lost his position?  What were the reasons? Todd