Entries Tagged 'Peacemaker Ministries'
The Reminder We Shouldn't Need
That whole Judy Dabler scandal that Christianity Today broke yesterday in a bombshell report? I’m one of those who experienced her spiritual abuse at a church I attended long ago. As a survivor-turned-pastor, I wrote my thoughts over on Open for Business on what we can learn from this and other such scandals…
The lesson every Christian needs to internalize is this: listen. Each of us is responsible for our brothers and sisters in Christ. If they are hurting, listen. If seemingly untoward things happen, don’t make excuses. And, don’t — I repeat, don’t — believe the lie that “these are just minor things” that will hurt the Church’s reputation if we blow them “out of proportion.” That lie still smells of the sulfur of its place of origin.
Christians, we can do better for God’s Glory.
Unfolding My Story: Why Christians Must Act
A year ago today, I spent most of the day on the phone. Fear knotted up my stomach as I looked towards the meeting scheduled the next day with my old pastor before one of the deans at my school. One of the mediators at the company the old pastor sits on the board of was trying to pressure me into signing a dangerously vague legal agreement and suggesting I would get myself in trouble with the school if I did not (which wasn't true, but was still unnerving to hear suggested). By this point I had watched as the pastor and those helping him mercilessly attacked not just me, but twice as cruelly had begun to try to undermine my mom.
Every time another person's story comes to light and I hear the fear, the pain, the brokenness that I experienced come to surface in another person — another victim — I know more than ever two things. First, if only Christians would take action against churches gone wrong, this would not happen. Second, as a Christian, I am amongst those who bears responsibility to act, as I will explain below.
Unfolding My Story: The Aftermath of Abuse
It began one year ago today. A simple plea that some questionable activities be stopped on the computers I administered at my old church turned into an all out war aimed at silencing me legally, vilifying me to my friends and destroying my work towards ministry. Eventually, the war grew so that it also took aim against my family and friends. I have discussed each one of those matters in the past and if I wanted to, I could document them meticulously. That's not my point today. Today, I am writing about the aftermath that makes it hard to even remember what life was like before.
Unfolding My Story: Propaganda
Once people started to learn what was happening to me and my family at our old church, some people stepped up to try to help. This did not serve to cause the pastor to rethink his actions, but to annoy him — he complained to me, and, in fact, to the councils one night, about how he was having to waste time “explaining” things to people who were concerned about what he was doing to me. By “explaining,” it turned out, he meant convincing people that the things they were doing to me were not happening at all. If someone questioned an action that was harder to conceal, such as why the church would go to my seminary and jeopardize my work there, the questioner was told, for example, that the church was really trying to “help” me by getting “counsel” for me.
Unfolding My Story: Twisting Scripture
In my encounter with those using Peacemaker materials at my old church (part 1 and part 2) , a large part of the church abuse that came forth arose through the misapplication and misinterpretation of Scripture. That the misapplication of the Bible intermingled with Peacemaker teachings was key to my experience is part of what makes Peacemaker Ministries' own use of Scripture all the more troubling.
Consider when Peacemaker asks , “Why a Peacemaking Team?” Here is part of their answer:
Because God calls his children to serve their leaders and to advance their vision to build his church. (Emphasis is Peacemaker's.)
Really? The article goes on to explain how pastors should teach this emphasis to their leadership, and particularly their peacemaking team, which can then “remind” the congregation of “core values.” Leaders being served by those they lead fits our normal worldly logic, but does it fit the Bible's view of leadership? Is that how Christ taught by example?
Unfolding My Story: Church Abuse and Trust
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of moving on post-church abuse (see my first part of this story) is the matter of regaining trust in people. How could something like this happen? How can it not only happen, but — generally speaking — how can it happen and so few were willing to stand up against it? How can more abuse be going on at the very same church right now and the leadership does not care enough to stop it?
The last question is the hardest to swallow. Just weeks ago another person started being harassed at the old church in ways not very unlike what I faced. The leaders of the church know the person has been hurt, yet they do not act. They know other people have also faced situations like what I faced and yet they do not act. Only a handful of people are willing to rock the boat, others either do not want to see or are fearful of the guns turning on them should they admit that they see.
This is not the way things are suppose to be.
Unfolding My Story: The Dangers of Peacemakers
I said the time had come to start unfolding my story of the last year. It is a tale that added to my vocabulary the phrase “my old church,” as I was given no substantive choice but to leave the church my family had been in for generations. The cost has been painful and severe in numerous ways. The whole generational thing never seemed all that important until all of these events transpired and I realized all that had to be given up.
Why talk about it now or even at all? I have wrestled with that. As I reveal bits and pieces, it will be for two reasons. First, abuses in churches happen far more frequently than I think any of us would like to believe; people need to share these things to help them from happening again and to let those currently going through them know that they are OK, that they are not alone in facing abuse and just because a church is doing these things doesn't call into question God's love for them. It is perhaps one of the greatest scandals of the Church that we attempt to cover the evidence of our failures; I am convinced frank, open communication is far more in line with God's love of truth in the light and would do a great deal to restore the world's view of the Church.