Let me set a little background first.
Last fall (2007), a friend of mine at church who is reformed (we'll call Betsy), and who has a lot of discernment with what is going on in the church, saw that our youth pastor (We'll call George) had Rob Bell's book in his hand. He also had loaned it to another young man (we'll call John) in our congregation who had a lot of discernment (thankfully!) saying "he had some good ideas" but he (George) hadn't read much of it yet.
Betsy very carefully and lovingly presented George with some information on Rob Bell and the emerging church and how dangerous it is. He of course treated her graciously but then turned around a few weeks later and mentioned to my 15 yr old in youth group that 'some people had overreacted' about stuff like this.
MaryAnn (my daughter, not her real name) knew Betsy had been the one who talked to him. I also knew that Betsy was NOT overbearing and had gone way out of her way to be as gentle and kind as possible.
So this irritated me to no end. Betsy was by this time in AZ for the winter so really could do nothing and I wasn't in contact with her.
MaryAnn mentioned it then to (we'll call him Brad) who is an AFLC Bible School grad who helps with the youth. He responded with how we shouldn't judge other Christians just because they do things differently, etc etc. Same line they always use. So after going around on this for a while, Brad asks "for example, you wouldn't judge our reformed brethren as being false teachers just because we disagree on X Y Z"
I said he is not ACTUALLY making the comparison between Reformed Theology and the Emerging church is he? (e.g. comparing the difference between Reformed/Lutheranism and the difference between Emerging church/Lutheranism as being equivalent).
Well, we did get off on a tangent there because of the unclarity with which the Arminian/reformed blowup was handled in the 1990's. He took great offense at my level of alarm. I started researching what Lutherans REALLY believe. Figured out they aren't really Calvinist! (that may be obvious to some but it wasn't to me for a long time!) Meanwhile, Brad went to pastor. Pastor called a meeting. Jason (my hubby, different from Jason Holt/Jason H), me, our three kids, John (the guy who had started reading Rob Bell's book under George's recommendation) and George.
We all talked about it and seemed to understand each other. Ahhh... well glad that was taken care of.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. We learned about this in the minutes of a congregational meeting. We are not members so didn't go. Maybe we should. We can contribute to discussion but cannot vote or make motions and stuff.
Our youth pastor asked for $750 to go to this conference:
National Youth Worker Conference page on "connecting with God"
This list of 'techniques' at the bottom as well as some of the stuff mentioned in the paragraphs is all Roman Catholic mysticism. Just surf around the site. He was going to the Nashville one but the agenda is nearly identical in each venue.
Pastor Korhonen called Jason Holt (The AFLC National Youth director) who is promoting this as a good place for our AFLC youth pastors/workers to go, and said there's a big problem with just the names on the speaker roster. I hadn't showed him this page yet but I sent him an email with this link and explanation right away.
JasonH is going to do some research and get back to him. We'll see how that goes.
well apparently he "didn't know" that it had that kind of focus. But George has been there before, according to Brad.
If in the following chat log it has no time stamp it means it had been auto deleted by MaryAnn's phone and she is going by her memory of the conversation. We sent a copy to Brad for fixes there.
3:45 MaryAnn: I don't think it's a great idea for George to go to that conference thing he was talking about raising money for.
Brad: The one in Nashville? Why not?
3:47 MaryAnn: Have you seen who's speaking there?
3:51 MaryAnn:The majority of them are emergent/pro contemplative people. I don't find this to be a good idea.
3:59 MaryAnn: That's all you have to say?
Brad: What do you want me to say?
4:02 MaryAnn: I don't know, I guess I wanted you to have an opinion. Maybe you should talk to George about it. I dunno I just feel sort of cheated.
Brad: Why do you feel that way?
4:07 MaryAnn: Because we had this big talk with pastor and you guys where you reassured us that you didn't support this stuff and then he dabbles in it anyway.
Brad: Just because you go listen to somebody or read their book doesn't mean you endorse or support them
4:10 MaryAnn: He's asking for people to raise money for him to go to this thing. If he really wanted to learn about them there are other ways.
Brad: Do you think he'll just blindly accept everything he hears?
4:13 MaryAnn: Is it really worth going to a person with bad theology for that?
4:15 MaryAnn: Why bother doing this, Brad? It doesn't make any sense. Find someone with good theology and learn from them.
4:19 MaryAnn: Except I'm getting better at not getting infuriated with you. I really don't understand what you find logical about it at all.
4:20 MaryAnn: Or right, in any case.
4:24 MaryAnn: That's not the point. I believe George to be a very Biblical man but dabbling in things unbiblical is just a stupid bad idea.
4:25 MaryAnn: You give me the impression that you have no idea how ingrained this stuff is in the church and how much you should be worried about it.
4:26 MaryAnn: Going to something to learn from these people. What exactly does he hope to learn?
4:27 Brad: If you really believe George to be a biblical man then why are you so concerned about it getting into our church from this conference?
4:29 Brad: Are there not unbelievers who have good techniques and methods of working with kids or are Christians the only ones who know how to do that? Can we not learn from them too? Doesn't mean we accept everything they teach but doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from them either.
4:30 MaryAnn: I dont' think that a Biblical person should ask for money from people in their congregation to go to an unbiblical conference.
4:31 MaryAnn: All of their techniques are going to stem from their faulty theology. There are so many better ways to learn how to work with kids.
4:32 Brad: OK I can understand that. Why don't you talk to George about it.
4:33 MaryAnn: I just learned today
4:35 Brad: Where did you learn it from?
4:36 MaryAnn: The website about it
(here I was at the store and sent her a few messages at home)
4:42 Mom to MaryAnn: What was it that Brad said about unbelievers?
4:43 MaryAnn to Brad: For the record I think "can't you sift through someone's crappy theology for an idea" is a productive argument
4:43 MaryAnn (to mom): They can have good ideas about working with kids too.
4:44 Brad: Is or isn't?
4:45 MaryAnn to Brad: Isn't. Sorry.
4:47 Mom to MaryAnn: Oh yeah like the public schools. Great!
4:48 Mom to MaryAnn: However, that isn't what the whole thing is about. I saw Mark Yaconelli had talk about learning to "rest in God"
4:48 Brad: Talk to George about it.
4:49 MaryAnn to mom: umm... so what does that mean?
4:49 Mom to MaryAnn: They can have really bad ideas too. And a little leaven spreads through the whole lump.
4:50 MaryAnn: Yeah, I think my parents are doing something about it. But whatever.
4: 51 Mom to MaryAnn: Public schools dn't have anything to say about how to reach kids with the gospel. It's not about "techniques!" it's about truth.
4:51 Brad: Well be careful how it's done. Because it sure didn't happen well last time.
4:52 MaryAnn: I really don't know what's going on Brad. I feel like I should be really upset and worried but I feel really apathetic because nothing I say seems to Georgeer.
4:54 Brad: I'm just saying there are good ways to go about bringing up an issue and the last time something came up it wasn't done well.
4:56 MaryAnn: yeah I think you guys need to realize that it's not about techniques of reaching people, it's teaching the truth. If kids don't listen it's not because of you.
4:58 Mom to MaryAnn: Dad talking to pastor, may not be same conference.
4:58 MaryAnn to Mom: O drat...
4:59 Mom to MaryAnn: well we will find out. Sure seems like a big coincidence.
4:59 MaryAnn to Mom: Yeah...
5:02 Mom to MaryAnn: Same name same town same approximate town (time) But Brad's reaction is still all wrong. He made excuses for listening to unbeliever tell how to minister.
5:02 MaryAnn to Mom: I know.
5:02 Brad: And just so you know he's been there before and he's going with the AFLC's national youth director and other youth leaders.
5:03 MaryAnn: Does that make it right?
5:04 Brad: It's done no harm yet.
5:05 Brad: Are you going to not come to youth group because he's been there before and has learned from them?
5:06 MaryAnn to Mom: Oh great. Apparently he's been there before and he is going with a bunch of AFLC directors or something.
5:07 MaryAnn: Yeah Brad that's why. It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that I have dance and a musical practice and I live half an hour away.
5:09 Brad: It was a hypothetical situation. Would it keep you from coming if you didn't have those other things? And responses like that don't help you out.
5:09 Mom to MaryAnn: That seems consistent with what we just heard. I think we are right.
5:11 MaryAnn: I don't see the point in going. And if the conference happens to not be the one I found, your reaction to my opinion was all wrong. You don't go to false teachers for ministry advice. You just don't. And if you don't like me being sarcastic, I don't know what I can do about that.
5:12 MaryAnn: If I say "yes, it would keep me from youth group," would it change anything?
5:21 Brad: Probably not. Especially because you already said he is biblical. Even though he's been there before. So his being there hasn't made him unbiblical. So why should his being there keep you from coming?
5:22 MaryAnn: You don't seem to understand my point, or want to. So whatever.
5:22 Brad: OK
5:36 Brad: I guess at this point we just don't see eye to eye. Just like we didn't in regard to George having Velvet Elvis in his office.
5:38 MaryAnn: You don't understand. It's more than that. But none of you seem to understand that. It's gotten past the point of frustrating me. I'm not even angry anymore. There doesn't seem a point to being angry.
6:00 Brad: Do you respect me less, think me to be less biblical than you previously thought? And don't be sarcastic it's an honest question.
6:01 MaryAnn: I think you're naive. It's a dangerous thing.
6:05 Brad: OK so is that a yes or a no?
6:06 MaryAnn: I don't know. I don't know if our definitions are the same. I still
think you're saved if that's what you mean.
6:08 Brad: But you respect me less?
6:10 MaryAnn: Does it Georgeer? I respect you a lot. And I knew we were going to have a discussion like this sooner or later. I hate doing it but I still care enough.
6:12 Brad: OK. I gotta teach soon. Doesn't mean the discussion is closed, OK?
6:12 MaryAnn: Mm-hmm.
6:13 Brad: K :-)
So anyway, Brad again has talked ( complained?) to pastor.
Jason took the issue to pastor also (already had touched base with him on the phone and now informed him he would be talking face to face with Brad). Dunno what was said. I just get more ticked off the more I hear, even from my hubby, who is patient to a fault, (patient with me also I must admit - but too patient with people who are being political and too trusting of those who try to pull the wool over his eyes) so I stopped listening, stopped asking. I have told him so many times when someone was trying to wiggle out of something, or being political/disingenuous, and been right so many times, and he still won't listen.
MaryAnn asked Brad what specifically we did wrong last time. His answer was something like "I was accused of something based on an assumption your mom made about me that was wrong."
?! what in the world is THAT supposed to mean? How is that "specific"?
I wrote to Jason at work (seems that text or email medium is the best way to communicate around here... no one really sits and discusses stuff...when we do it usually ends up we don't see eye to eye on the spiritual things especially since I did the cannonball in the pool on the whole PDC thing at our previous church).
here is what I wrote to Jason about what I'd like answered by Brad:
You will have to rephrase these for clarity of course, I'm just writing chain of thought.
1. What exactly does he think I accused him of? (emphasize that if there was a misunderstanding about his or my or Lutheran theology re:reformed/arminian that is part of any discussion and it just needs to be clarified and talked out, not sure that that is a 'sin' on my part or his part). If he can remember HOW he came to the conclusion I was accusing him of something that would be helpful.
1a. I still don't understand how he thought the comparison between Reformed Theology and Lutheranism was an equivalent comparison to the difference between Lutheranism and Emergents like Rob Bell. The discussion went like this, as he was by his questions (similar to the questions he raised this time) defending Rob Bell. He was in my recollection suggesting we shouldn't name them as heretical because they are Christian brothers and sisters and just have a different style or see some things differently. (oh the irony). And then he said something along the lines of "for example you wouldn't reject our Reformed brethren for their differences would you?"
This has the effect of making the difference between Lutheranism/Calvinism and the difference between Lutheranism/Emerging churchers out to be equivalent. They are not. It is a false comparison. The fact that he seemed to be implying they were the same was HUGELY alarming to me. It would not be as alarming if he was just a church member and not a teacher. If he does NOT believe that the comparison is valid, he should say so. But getting his opinion out of him is like pulling teeth so I am left to extrapolate based on everything else he says. This is VERY TYPICAL of people who are veering off into left field and it is the exact same approach Doug Pagitt uses, as well as a host of Emergents I have LISTENED to. (Yes, I listen to them too! For free! I don't ask anyone to pay for it! I listen, and then I tear apart their bad theology! and I am not or should not be ashamed to do so. But I should probably get off my soapbox now).
2. Looking through the transcript of stuff he sent to MaryAnn ask if there is any other way to interpret what he said re: defending the idea of consulting unbelievers on how to work with youth. Also if he was JUST playing devil's advocate, I think he went way too far in that, because he gives the impression that he is really in favor of the idea. What else are we supposed to think? If he's trying to use the Socratic method he needs to brush up on his skills some more. This is not public school he is teaching where he has to remain 'unbiased' or lose his job. If he wants to play devil's advocate (which can be a useful tool in small doses just like sarcasm and hyperbole) then he MUST bracket it with big old disclaimers and be clear that is what he is doing. He sounds just like Kathryn who would argue the same way and eventually went off into universalism/emergent philosophy. If you are playing devils advocate with kids with less discernment than MaryAnn, and you never say what actually is CORRECT according to Scripture (under the pretense of being objective and letting the kids figure it out for themselves) they may never GET to the point of understanding what is correct according to Scripture, in order that they may be able to compare what they are hearing TO scripture. You must give it to them. That's your job as a teacher.
3. Ask if he can see how alarming it is to have him in a sort of position of authority over kids telling their kids their parents are wrong or behaving badly. I never got that from ANY of my youth leaders growing up even when my dad yelled at one of them once for staying too late yakking with me in the living room.
My own personal experience with going against someone's parents as an adult to a teen: I remember feeling guilty even suggesting to your badly behaving sister that she had to really have compassion on your mom and try to understand her side of things even if she wasn't perfect...I felt really bad about it because it gave the impression your mom wasn't perfect and might do things wrong! I dunno... fwiw... Even that seemed to be going too far for my comfort level. IMO I was really skirting the edge there. Brad has gone way beyond that line. So I guess this would fall under the "proper way to relate to kids and their parents in his position" part of the discussion. George had some trouble with that and Brad has even more. George may have fixed that since last year when he said that "some people overreacted" etc. The thing about someone (Betsy?) expressing concern over Velvet Elvis - btw Betsy tells me she was SOOOOO careful to be gentle and kind in her approach to him. So the thing about being gentle and kind from Brad and George and "George won't listen to you if you just get in his face" stuff rings WAY hollow to me. Betsy is NEVER that way and if her approach isn't good enough for him then we SURELY have a problem with egos, as I have been suspecting.
4. Can we learn from people who have a speaking style that is more forward than you would like? Do we always have to agree on language tools like sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, and exactly when and where it is appropriate to use them or should there be an effort to understand where the person is coming from and their different personality?
5. If I find his approach as offensive as he finds mine, which of us is correct and why?
6. Does he think MaryAnn is too sarcastic? What does he think about all the other adults who think she is a great communicator, witty, has a great sense of humor, and is articulate, level headed, clear thinking, and confident? Are they just mixed up?
If I think of any more I'll let you know. I suppose MaryAnn could send you her questions too if she has any.
it was done badly last time.
1. George loaning John book he hadn't read
2. Betsy warning George about the Emerging church (she has said over and over again she took GREAT PAINS to be as gentle as possible)
3. George overreacting to that loving warning and complaining that some people had overreacted about the emerging church to him - complaining about this to MaryAnn
4. My expression of alarm over this development to MaryAnn
5. MaryAnn's txt conversation with Brad, with me present
6. Brad complaining to pastor
7. Pastor calling a meeting between all of us.
Just which part was done badly?
Last Thursday (10-16) they met for an hour to talk about stuff. Jason wrote up notes and I was so upset I just couldn't bring myself to read them. Jason doesn't defend me much. He has said (to others) that I am capable of defending myself. Well that's chivalrous.
So anyway Jason wrote up his notes from the meeting and sent them both to Brad and Pastor. I dunno how anyone is viewing me now and right now I don't have the stomach to read the notes (he also sent to me).
Sometimes I just want to stay home and listen to good teaching online and forget about going to church where I will surely eventually be labeled as a troublemaker again. My pastor does understand what I am concerned about and shares it. But I am SO GUNSHY now. Even people I agree with tend to tell me I'm going about it all wrong, and I find myself watching them walk away from me. I really don't know what I can change anymore, other than the message. I know I'm not perfect, that I am sometimes cynical or sarcastic, but I look at myself over and over and think what is it that drives people away, makes them tell me to shut up unless I can say it in a way they'd approve (even those who agree with the content of what I'm saying)?
I get so tired of it. Like I said, I know I'm not perfect, but somehow there is more grace for those teaching falsehoods than for those who defend the truth a little more passionately than their peers.
(9:05:52 AM) jason:Got a note yesterday from Pastor re: the Nashville conference.
(9:06:01 AM) terriergal: k
(9:06:33 AM) jason: Don't have it up right now, but the gist...
(9:06:50 AM) jason: The deacons looked more into the conference, some of the speakers, etc....
(9:07:27 AM) jason: And decided to let George decide whether or not to attend, according to his discernment in the Word (or some phrase like that)
(9:08:09 AM) jason: And they were going to tell Holt that was what they decided
(9:08:24 AM) jason: And we were thanked for bringing up the subject
(9:08:27 AM) jason: So I wrote back
(9:09:01 AM) terriergal: oh great
(9:09:07 AM) jason: Thanked him for letting us know the outcome. And told him I was going to talk with George
(9:09:12 AM) terriergal: but are we going to FUND his trip?
(9:09:52 AM) jason: You know, I didn't ask that explicitly. My assumption was that we were. I'll write back to pastor re that.
(9:10:37 AM) jason: And last night I wrote to George saying I wanted to talk with him whatever his decision.
(9:11:20 AM) jason: Had the draft ready in early afternoon, but no address. The church site has very few email addresses. Irritating
(9:16:49 AM) terriergal: ask MaryAnn for his email, i'm pretty sure that's it.
(9:16:54 AM) terriergal: But so far I'm not happy with this outcome
(9:16:58 AM) jason: Yeah, I have it now. Sent the letter last night.
(9:16:58 AM) terriergal: at all.
(9:17:22 AM) terriergal: I'm sorry, but if George wants to go, he can spend his own money.
(9:18:46 AM) terriergal: so are you pleased with the decision so far?
(9:22:33 AM) jason: Sorry, was just pulling up the email from pastor.
(9:22:45 AM) jason: I asked about the funding.
(9:22:50 AM) jason: Here's the relevant quote:
(9:22:52 AM) jason: Also I wanted to let you and Paula know that the deacons discussed George's attendance at the NYWC. They looked at the website and did some checking on some of the speakers. They left it up to George if he still wanted to go, trusting his discernment according to the Word.
(9:23:11 AM) jason: I will also be letting Jason Holt know of their decision.
(9:23:29 AM) jason: No, I'm not pleased. Especially if there's still church funding.
(9:23:35 AM) terriergal: we should put in a request to go to a roman catholic youth conference
(9:23:57 AM) jason: That's part of why I want to talk to George next.
(9:24:03 AM) terriergal: what's the difference?
(9:24:11 AM) terriergal: the deacons don't think it's a big deal
(9:24:20 AM) terriergal: and that IS a big deal
(9:24:32 AM) jason: And it's circulating in my head about what I'm going to teach about
(9:24:51 AM) jason: The funding isn't the sticking point, no.
(9:25:08 AM) terriergal: I thnk you should teach about this.
(9:25:26 AM) terriergal: and why this kind of thing is dangerous. It's getting too little too late again
(9:25:41 AM) terriergal: and I'm ready to start staying home
(9:26:07 AM) terriergal: send the girls to (local small LCMS church) for confirmation or something
(9:27:26 AM) jason: Hadn't thought about (local small LCMS church) for confirmation. I'm guessing the pastor would be willing to catechize them. Probably not actually go through confirmation service (officially) if we're not LCMS.
Jason then went on to say that he was thinking of teaching on the attributes of God. It might stir stuff up. But it'd be the long way around.
I responded that sure, go ahead and be circumspect, that'll work. Just don't be surprised if I don't show up.
I think we should put in a request to go to a buddhist/Hindu/Roman Catholic youth conference, and see if the church supports it.
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