Weeks Where Decades Happen

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Friday, October 6th to today (October 13th) marks one of those weeks. It appears a major geopolitical tectonic shift occurred on Saturday, October 7th. We won’t know the full historical significance of the Hamas surprise attack on Israel for several years. This is a tragic and horrific situation sent shockwaves around the world. While I am deeply disturbed and saddened, I will try to provide some analysis.

In America, it exposed two significant issues. First, it further exposed just how divided we are as a nation. Second, it exposed just how vulnerable we are.

The second exposure (our vulnerabilities) is a result of the first. But, I don’t want to follow what I believe is a secondary symptom. I want to focus on the first exposure. In his book, “Faultlines” Dr. Voddie Bauchum uses the analogy shifting of the earth’s plates and the resulting earthquakes to describe American culture today. So, I’ll employ the analogy in a similar manner.

The first exposure (divided nation) demonstrates the various worldview, cultural, and ideological fault lines within our society. These fault lines run deep where common ground is difficult, if not impossible to locate. It feels like the very ground is shifting under our feet. At its core, these fissures are competing worldviews. And they are under tension.

Worldview is the lens through which we view, interpret and engage reality.

It is what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. Everyone has a worldview, regardless if they realize it or not. Worldview is seen in how we, believe, live, and behave.

At the center of the current clash are two fundamental questions, the answers to which lead to two different answers and destinations.

1. What is the problem with the world?
2. How do we fix it?

Christianity, Postmodernism, Secularism, Islam, Marxism, etc. will answer those two questions very differently. In a pluralistic society like America, worldviews will clash and create fissures. This doesn’t mean all worldviews are equally true. Some worldviews are shaped by the contours of reality while others attempt to reshape reality to impose their desired vision on reality.

Because analogies are helpful, let’s use another one.
Reality is like gravity. A man can claim to be able to break the law of gravity by dawning a superhero cape, climbing a three story building, and jumping off. However, he will not be able to break the law of gravity. Instead, he will fall to the ground and break himself. Thus proving the law of gravity.

Reality is the truth of how things actually are. The better we understand reality and live consistently within its contours, the more coherent our lives will be. From a biblical perspective, God created reality as a framework. He provided humans with logic and reason as both a map and language to understand, communicate, and live within the framework. When we intentionally or unintentionally get out of sync or reject reality, we break ourselves (like the man who tried to break the law of gravity).

Simply put, reality is experiential truth. It has laws and boundaries. As much as I would love to play basketball like Michael Jordan or swim as fast as Michael Phelps, no amount of effort, positive thinking, or physical manipulation will ever make me Jordan or Phelps… Not even close. God created me as Lance. He created you as who you are. We have our own distinct qualities, gifts, talents, limitations, and weaknesses. However, we all possess intrinsic value and worth as God’s image-bearers.

I’ve said it before, reality (truth) bats last, and reality is a slugger. Work with reality not against it and life will go much better. Therefore, if we want to solve the issues in our society, we need to properly diagnose the problems within our society. After all, if we misdiagnose the problem, the cures we create will end up harming the people we’re trying to help.

In his recount of life under Russian persecution, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago:

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.”

August of 1905, The Daily News newspaper editors posed a question to readers, “What is wrong with the world today?” G.K. Chesterton responded:

“Dear Sirs,
I am.
Yours Truly,
G.K. Chesterton.”

These men were answering the question, “What is the problem with the world?”

The Bible clearly states the problem with the world is sin.

And sin infects every human heart. Sin originates and is located in individual hearts. Then, it works its way through society. Either that is true or it’s not. If it’s true, then we’ve identified the Problem at the center of all other problems. The Gospel provides the cure.

If we’re going to attempt to wrap our heads around what is going on in our world like Israel or our own families, we need to have the proper worldview lens to accurately understand them. Then, we bring solutions that help instead of harming people. Those solutions will be grounded in the Gospel and Christ’s redemptive work through His redeemed people.

We are living in a civilizational moment in which there are “weeks where decades happen.” We must understand all of the cultural and geopolitical tectonic shifts are driven by worldviews. Earth’s tectonic plates build up pressure and eventually shift, causing earthquakes, so it is with worldviews. Tension builds and things move causing rapid shifts in a short timespan… Even as these worldview pressures and tensions are hundreds of years in the making.

In the final analysis, when faced with “weeks where decades happen” we must think biblically and ‘worldview-ishly”. Then we must pray faithfully and act with moral courage in the areas God has assigned us – leaving the results to Him.

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Church Leaders Silencing Employees Using Legal Agreements?

“Money being offered in non-disparagement agreements can be a messy and sometimes profoundly evil transaction. At times people are asked with an offer of money to hide acts that are wrong, evil, and even criminal; some are asked for money not to talk about a corrupted institution.”

 

Steve Rabey (MinistryWatch)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

There is a worrying trend among churches.

Big churches are paying big money (your tithes and offerings) to hire attorneys to legally bind employees (and former employees) with non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, separation agreements, severance agreements, and similar legal tools in order to SILENCE them.

MinistryWatch’s Steve Rabey said regarding “Nondisclosure agreements — and their cousin, non–disparagement agreements… Money being offered in non-disparagement agreements can be a messy and sometimes profoundly evil transaction. At times people are asked with an offer of money to hide acts that are wrong, evil, and even criminal; some are asked for money not to talk about a corrupted institution.

…no one with a theologically-informed ethic should be thinking of non–disparagement agreements when the issue is dirt on the floor in the church. Such a person, instead of advocating silence, should be advocating rebuke and repentance and a return to basics, including unflinching truth telling.”

Others have criticized NDAs on moral, ethical, and legal grounds, arguing that:
– They are virtually unenforceable;
– Their real purpose is to intimidate people into silence;
– In churches and ministries, they can foster working environments and cultures that prioritize privacy over transparency, concealment over accountability. (link)

I’ve worked in the business world where these tools are legitimately and appropriately used. The problem arises when these agreements are used by church organizations.

From the outset, I am NOT claiming ALL church organizations are doing this. Most local churches (of all sizes) operate in humility, faithfulness, and fidelity to Scripture. However, we’re seeing a trend (see resource links below this post).

I’m going to address this issue and bring it to light. Hopefully, this will lead to healing and restoration in the church. Biblically, church leaders are accountable to their congregations, employees, and God.

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God;” 1 Peter 4:17

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:2-3

“For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:22-23

There is a growing awareness that church organizations are implementing coercive binding agreements and other legal devices. These agreements are directly tied to financial compensation and/or severance packages, the purpose of which is to legally bind a former employee to silence. Some church organizations see themselves more as business entities than the body of Christ.

– Are these agreements ethical or moral?
– Are these agreements biblical?
– Does this belong in the church?
– What would Jesus Christ say about church organizations using such agreements?

NDAs, Separation Agreements, and other similar such agreements have ZERO place in the church.

They are coercive and toxic. They put former employees in bondage to their former employers. They cause harm to those with the least institutional power (the employee). These agreements are used to bully former employees. Once implemented, former employees are forced to separate from their church family and/or are shunned by staff. These agreements do not edify the church nor do they glorify God.

Forcing an employee to sign an agreement tied to money in exchange for their silence is evil (period). After all, what does a church organization have to hide that requires the coercion of an employee to sign a document that forces them to be silent in exchange for money?

Beginning today, this is going to stop.
Beginning today, I encourage church organizations to rescind all such agreements immediately.

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear…”
If you are a pastor, church officer, church executive, elder, etc. and you have used non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, or other coercive separation agreements tied to compensation in exchange for silence, you’ve been put on notice.

The Light is coming and church organizations have a choice…

Repent of the harm you have inflicted and rescind these agreements or “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light.”

Defining Terms:

Non-disclosure Agreement:
“A contract in which one or more parties promise to keep information confidential, and not disclose it to any other party without proper authorization… Also referred to as an “NDA,” “confidentiality agreement,” or “proprietary information agreement,” such a contract outlines the nature of the confidential information, without disclosing it specifically… NDAs are most commonly used in businesses when the need to establish a confidential relationship with employees or contractors arises. Such information may include trade secrets, proprietary information, client lists, database information, or any other information considered to be vital to the business.” (source)

Non-disparagement clause (or agreement):
“A part of an agreement, such as an employment contract, separation agreement, or marital settlement agreement, which stipulates that the involved parties are prohibited from making any negative statements, remarks, or representations about each other. Such clauses are in prevalent use to prevent (ex) employees from adversely affecting the business of employers with disparaging public statements either during or after the employment period has ended.” (source)

“The other place you might encounter a non-disparagement clause is in a separation agreement—a document you may be asked to sign if you’re being fired, laid off, or are otherwise leaving on bad terms… “Companies will make signing the non-disparagement clause a condition of getting your severance money and/or benefits.” (source)

Separation Agreement:
“Most employee separation agreements require the employee to waive any potential legal claims. These could include employment law, compensation, and discrimination claims. For employers, this is often the primary purpose of the agreement.

In exchange for waiving the claims, an employee separation agreement can offer a severance package to the employee. Severance is not required, but it’s often a good incentive for the employee to sign the document. It can also help enhance a company’s reputation.” (source)

Typically, these arrangements are embedded in agreements issued by the church organization (usually when an employee leaves or is forced to resign or terminated).

Should churches use NDAs or other such agreements? The answer is ‘No’.

I have yet to discover a legitimate biblical reason. Someone will retort, “But, what about protecting the ‘reputation of the church’ and the ‘reputation of Christ’ against slander or negative perception?”

“These agreements ostensibly ensured that both the church and employee “act in a Christ-like manner, avoiding gossip and destructive slandering that causes division, rather than unity.” (link)

Libel, defamation, slander, etc. have to do with lying about someone or something that occurred. There are legal remedies for that type of behavior. 

Furthermore, telling the truth, even if it is negative, is not slander or gossip.

Church leader, if you have a problem with an employee within a church organization, the solution is found in the Word of God not some pagan ‘best practices’ business arrangement.

Here’s the deal, don’t be evil. Don’t mistreat people or attempt to cover up unethical behavior. There is no biblical reason for a church to implement agreements that bind people to silence using financial benefits and legal threats. The legal threats and vague legal reasoning contained in these agreements make the person feel trapped while all the power resides with the institutional leaders. This leads to self-separation by the former employee and silence where conflict, spiritual abuse or worse has occurred.

Someone will say, “Oh, you’re being divisive.”

No, I’m being honest. These unbiblical agreements are divisive by nature. So, who’s being divisive? The one implementing them or the one exposing them?

I know an instance where church leaders instructed employees not to speak to a former employee or discuss anything related to the church because doing so would amount to gossip and divisiveness. So, employees who were friends with a former employee essentially shunned their former teammate. Some feared losing their jobs if they spoke to the former employee. That’s cultish behavior.

Imagine being told this by a church leader one day and running into your friend (former employee) at a store the next? Would you fear reprimand, if leadership found out you spoke to a friend? At worse, would you fear losing your job? Think about it.

In conclusion, I am NOT claiming all church organizations are doing this. But the trend is growing. There are no biblical or ecclesiological reasons for church leaders to bind current or former employees to silence through non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, separation agreements, or any such binding agreements. Nor should the tithes and offerings of the congregation be used for attorneys’ fees or unconstitutional severance / separation packages.

Guess what? It’s going to stop. People are getting wise to the game.

The light is coming and accountability with it. It will be much easier to repent personally and ask for forgiveness privately than the alternative.

Church Leader, you can circle the wagons and attempt to protect your institutional power… But know this. The truth bats last, and he is a slugger.

Solution: Repent of the harm you have inflicted and rescind these agreements or “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light.”

If you are a church leader (staff or elder) and you have implemented these agreements to coerce or cover-up wrong-doing or silence people, it may be time to resign. You’re most likely unfit for duty as a shepherd of God’s beloved people. Your sin can be forgiven but you’re unfit to lead ministry.

Will there be a Part 2 to this post, we’ll see…

I recommend every pastor, elder, deacon and ministry leader meditate on Ezekiel 34:1-10 “Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel”

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

 

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.”

Resources and links:

Thou Shalt Not Disclose: How Churches and Ministries Use Legal Agreements to Silence Victims and Conceal Sin
https://ministrywatch.com/thou-shalt-not-disclose-how-churches-and-ministries-use-legal-agreements-to-silence-victims-and-conceal-sin/

NDAs are a tool for toxic church cultures
https://religionnews.com/2022/09/08/ndas-are-a-tool-for-toxic-church-cultures/

Silence of the sheep – Christian nonprofits and churches have adopted practices from the for-profit world of avoiding liability, sometimes leading to devastating outcomes
https://wng.org/articles/silence-of-the-sheep-1617298243

Should Churches Use NDAs? It Depends.
https://www.nae.org/churches-use-ndas/

Should a Church Use NDAs?
https://www.churchandculture.org/blog/2022/9/12/should-a-church-use-ndas

When Christian Ministries Ask Their Ex-Employees Not to Talk
How a corporate world practice became mainstream for evangelical nonprofits and churches.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/quick-to-listen/christian-ministries-non-disclosure-agreements-non-competes.html

NDAs Kept These Christians Silent. Now They’re Speaking Out Against Them.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/july/ndafree-campaign-confidentiality-nondisclosure-abuse.html

Sign or face the consequences
https://wng.org/sift/sign-or-face-the-consequences-1617422845

Should Christian Organizations Use NDAs?
https://abfifer.com/blog/2021/12/should-christian-organizations-use-ndas/

What are Red Flags For Spiritual Abuse in Your Church? with Teasi Cannon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suiB7_MUv2I

Spiritual Abuse and the Church: Why Should We Listen? with Teasi Cannon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dseigzUaGRI

What Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?
https://www.findlaw.com/smallbusiness/business-contracts-forms/what-is-a-non-disclosure-agreement-nda.html

What is an employee separation agreement?
https://www.adobe.com/sign/hub/how-to/guide-to-employee-separation-agreements.html

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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How to recognize Cultural Marxism and Critical Theories

“The Revolution won’t happen with guns, rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation. We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.”

 

Max Horkheimer (The father of Critical Theory)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Do you know how to recognize Cultural Marxism and Critical Theories? I’m here to help!

Cultural Marxism and Critical Theories destroy what they claim to care about (period).

Critical Theory is Cultural Marxism

  • CRT (Critical Race Theory) is Cultural Marxism applied to ethnicity
  • Intersectionality is Cultural Maxism applied to social interactions
  • ESG (Environmental, Social and corporate Governance) is Cultural Marxism applied to business
  • Stakeholder Capitalism is Cultural Marxism applied to economics
  • SEL (Social, Emotional, Learning) is Cultural Marxism applied to child psychology
  • DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is Cultural Marxism applied to institutions
  • LGBTQ+ is Cultural Marxism applied to sex and gender
  • Trans Rights is Cultural Marxism applied to human identity
  • Queer Theory is Cultural Marxism applied to anything considered normal
  • Liberation Theology is baptized Cultural Marxism
  • Progressive Christianity is Cultural Marxism applied to Christian theology through eisegesis and deconstruction
  • Climate Change is Meteorological Cultural Marxism
  • Universal Healthcare is Cultural Marxism applied to healthcare
  • “Leading from behind” is Cultural Marxism applied to diplomacy
  • Open Borders is Cultural Marxism applied to national sovereignty
  • My Body, My Choice is Cultural Marxism applied to human reproduction
  • Green Energy is Cultural Marxism applied to energy production

Two Questions you always needs to ask:
1. Who benefits most? (Who actually gets the power?)
2. Who is harmed most?

Here are a few examples….

CRT:
Beneficiaries: Race hustlers, leftists, DEI trainers, International NGOs (ie. WEF)
Victims: Ethnic minorities, children, communities, and the justice system

ESG:
Beneficiaries: Global corporations, large banks, International NGOs (ie. WEF and UN), politicians
Victims: The poor (think children working in cobalt mines for electric batteries), retirees and pension-holders, and laborers, the natural environment (replacing forests and fields with solar panels and windmills).

SEL:
Beneficiaries: Government School administrators, International NGOs (ie. WEF and UN) academics and nonprofits that produce SEL curriculum and training, psychology industry.
Victims: children and parents

DEI:
Beneficiaries: DEI industry ($7.5 billion in 2020 – Estimating $15.4 billion by 2026)(1), governments, Global Corporations, large banks, International NGOs (ie. WEF and UN).
Victims: small and medium-sized businesses, students, workers, tax-payers, local and national economies

You get the point… Funny how the World Economic Forum and United Nations seem to be at the top of the food chain. Elites don’t care about issues effecting people, they care about power.

Take a moment to THINK critically and assess the situation. When Cultural Marxism (Critical Theory) is applied to anything, it harms the very people and institutions it claims to liberate and empower. In other words, Cultural Marxism (Critical Theory) is a huge scam for money and power dressed up in altruistic vocabulary and appeals to emotion. In the words of Doug Wilson, “It lies! It lies like dead flies on a windowsill.”

If you hold to any of the ideas above and you are not a Davos or Global elite, you are being used by people thirsty for power and control. That sounds harsh but Cultural Marxist elites use people to amass power and money for themselves. The language and sentiments hide a self-serving agenda.

The Revolution won’t happen with guns, rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation. We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.”

Max Horkheimer

Father of Critical Theory

Understanding Cultural Marxism (Critical Theory) in all its disguises

Karl Marx had a vision based on materialism and economic struggle between the Bourgeoisie owner-oppressors and the Proletariat worker-oppressed. He believed there would be a revolution where the Proletariat would overthrow their Bourgeois oppressors. The result, as Marx envisioned, would be total equality in outcomes and a utopian state.

When Marxist revolutions failed to materialize in America and the west, Antonio Gramsci (Italian Marxist) theorized that the Cultural Hegemony (dominant cultural power) hindered it. Gramsci concluded that a Marxist revolution could not materialize in wealthy, stable and capitalist societies. For Antonio Gramsci, the problem was worldview and culture not economic and material (as Marx believed).

According to Gramci, elites in America and the west controlled and oppressed the lower classes through cultural institutions (academia, education systems and universities, the church, politics, judiciary, civil service, media, entertainment, the family and marriage).

Gramsci’s vision was to create a counter-cultural power to overthrow the dominant oppressive power structure in the west by infiltrating cultural institutions. Then, conditions would be set for a Marxist revolution. Gramci believed communists and socialists needed to subvert western culture from the inside. He termed this ‘a war of position.’

What began with Marx was adapted by Gramsci (Cultural Marxism) is now called Critical Theory. The term Critical Theory was a coined by Max Horkheimer – its another way of saying Cultural Marxism. According to Horkheimer, it is a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory intended “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.”

Critical Theory (Cultural Marxism) as a Worldview

Today, Critical Theory (Cultural Marxism) is a bonafide worldview that competes with Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Secularism, New Ageism, etc. Critical Theory identifies invisible power structures in society between oppressed groups and their oppressors. This is also referred to as Power Dynamics. The goal of dismantling oppressive structures. Again, Critical Theory is repackaged Cultural Marxism.

The critical theorist is in a constant state of critique, dividing people into oppressed identity groups determined by gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, etc. Their goal is overthrow the oppressive group and liberate the oppressed group. The problem is that this never happens because Critical Theory is a sham designed by Marxist – Leninists to obtain power.

David Horowitz wrote, “A radical SDS activist once said, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” In other words, the cause of a political action – whether civil rights or women’s rights – is never the real cause; women, blacks and other “victims” are only instruments in the larger cause, which is power.”

In conclusion…
It’s all about gaining power… Equity, social justice, inclusion, diversity, and the utopian vision rhetoric are simply tactics employed to divide people and in order to obtain power. We must admit, Marxists have been very successful in their long march through the institutions. Marxists don’t care about the ‘little guy’ unless the ‘little guy’ can be used as cannon fodder to obtain political and cultural power. Take a moment to observe how powerful elite revolutionaries use minorities, engineer language, and employ tactics of division to pit people against each other in order to obtain power. 

So, when you hear the newest catch-phrase emerging from academia, globalists, and the media – you can be almost certain it’s just another flimsy wrapper for Cultural Marxism.

The solution is to be equipped with a biblical worldview and cultural intelligence in order to speak truth to error because Cultural Marxism destroys what it claims to care about. Don’t buy into the Cultural Marxism lies and all their alluring catch-phrases. Counter those lies with the truth. The truth will set captives free who have been enslaved by false ideologies like Cultural Marxism and the Critical Theories.

What do you need to speak the truth about today that if you didn’t, you would regret it tomorrow?

Want to learn more? Check out the ‘Culture and the Christian Worldview’ seminars…

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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Is your church going liberal?

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” 

 

2 Timothy 4:3

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Author’s Note: Below this post is a link to ‘Her Faith Inspires’ podcast hosted by Shanda Fulbright on this topic. We go a little deeper. After reading, head to the link below!

A pastor doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to be a heretic or stray from orthodoxy.

A church doesn’t have to hoist a giant BLM or LGBTQ+ flag to be considered liberal… Although, I’d definitely recommend avoiding churches that do so.

Liberal theology elevates human reason as authoritative while the Bible is seen as erroneous, possessing little to no authority. In reality, liberalization of a church is death by a thousand cuts. In other words, straying occurs slowly and incrementally over time. One must take in consideration a church’s theological commitments, doctrinal positions, and preaching over a span of years. History and trajectory are important.

I will share a few warning signs.

Controversy
If church leadership begins to avoid controversial issues, this is one indication of that church going liberal. Excuses range from the “seeker-sensitive” mindset where leaders try to convince the congregation that preaching about controversial topics “gets in the way of the Gospel” to labeling all controversial issues as “political.” Both excuses in all their various forms are copouts. Avoiding controversy is a cover for the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25) and cowardice (Revelation 21:8). Both lead to sin.

Compromise
In a church, compromise is an attempt to morally relocate the difference between good and evil, and right and wrong somewhere in the middle. Compromise is usually packaged as something new and it’s never good. It is a theological and doctrinal reorientation around worldly culture rather than the Word of God. A little compromise here and there becomes normative. (Compromise is largely a function of the philosophy of pragmatism – more on pragmatism later).

Liberal theology takes on many forms and can be hard to recognize. Theological and doctrinal compromise rarely begin in the pulpit (unless the pastor has begun to privately compromise the truth). Actually, compromise typically begins in smaller communities within the larger church community – in small groups, classes, and/or church committees. From these smaller enclaves, compromise works its way into the wider church community.

Progressive Christianity is a current trend of dangerous theological and doctrinal compromise making its way through churches. If a teacher is promoting a “new and different interpretative approach to Scripture” or “deconstructing power and privilege in the Bible“, you are seeing compromise and false teaching. The teacher may be a nice guy with a seminary degree, but Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” too (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Eventually, compromise leads to a total rejection of biblical inerrancy and authority. Again, this occurs very slowly.

Criticism
If you observe a leader isolating and insulating themselves against criticism or feedback they don’t like, it can indicate a trend toward liberalism. No one enjoys criticism or critique because it grates against our pride, sensibilities, and emotions. However, we can learn from criticism and feedback, even when it’s way off base because it contains some kernel of truth. When criticism, critique, or feedback comes from people who’ve supported and been committed to a fellowship for years, it’s probably a good idea to listen and humbly acknowledge there’s something to learn.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is not just aimed at the congregation. Pastors and teachers are to be taught, reproved, and trained by the Word as well.

When a church member critiques or challenges a leader, it’s a great opportunity to meet, open bibles, and discuss (reason together). However, when barriers to access are raised, its time for concern – because the leaders don’t want to listen. If they don’t listen, they don’t learn. If they amplify positive affirmations but don’t listen to the congregation, they lose connection with reality.

Convictions
When a church is going liberal, it begins to alter or subtly back away from long held convictions. This is closely related to compromise. For instance, if your church has been committed to protecting and promoting the sanctity of human life for many years only to begin avoiding discussion about the sin of abortion, it’s backing away from a conviction. When ‘hot button’ issues like surgical mutilation of children, sterilization, or Marxist indoctrination of children in schools, or public promotion of drag shows for kids are avoided or ignored, there is a problem.

The Bible has something to say about all of these issues – the Bible calls them ‘evil.’ When Christians remain silent in the face of evil being foisted upon our neighbors who we’re commanded to love and children we are to defend, we are seconding evil’s motion.

Compromise and backing away from convictions lead to backsliding individually and liberalism theologically.

Moralistic Therapeutic
When sermons and teaching sound more like therapy sessions, there is a problem.
When messages are devoid of conviction and a call to humble repentance only to be replaced with ways to improve your life or become a better person, your discernment radar should kick in. Don’t be fooled when biblical narratives and feigned exposition are used as backdrops for moralism or the therapeutic. They are not preaching the Bible, they are using it as a prop for a watered down gospel.

It is important to note that the Moralistic Therapeutic is extremely difficult to spot because the language and tone lulls the congregation to sleep. Why? Because in reality, God created us as emotional beings with needs. In addition, Christians desire to be godly and good. A moralistic TED-talk sermon manipulates those desires. Furthermore, everyone struggles with depression, grief, joylessness, trauma, etc to some degree. So, a therapeutic message appeals to people’s emotions. However, when the clear admonition, conviction, and edification of God’s Word is twisted to sound like a TED-talk or self-help book, liberal theology is just below the surface. No one should feel good about their sin. 

Nickels and Noses
When church growth, attendance, and giving become primary drivers of decision-making, the door is wide open for liberal theology. 
When entertaining the goats is more important than the feeding the sheep, there is a problem.
When church resources are diverted away from serving people to funding operations that are geared toward entertainment and marketing strategies, mission drift is occurring. Furthermore, Big Data is big business in the church world today. Christians are being treated like consumers. Who’s responsible for growing Christ’s Church? Man or Jesus Christ?

The congregation is no longer viewed through a theological lens. Instead, the congregation is viewed through an economic and marketing lens. There has been a paradigm shift away from the mission of the church toward pragmatism and franchise-styled thinking. This leads to empire-building, marketing gimmicks, and protecting the institution in order to keep the people and money rolling in. Does this sound like a biblical description of the Body of Christ?

Many pastors don’t speak truth boldly because their customers (I mean) congregations may be offended and leave the church (taking their tithes with them). In these pastors’ minds, it’s better to sooth the congregation’s consciences, tone-down convictions, compromise with the world, avoid controversy and criticism to keep the lukewarm congregation coming back. This results in churches focusing efforts and resources on keeping their customers happy, comfortable, and entertained. The faithful members who are committed to the truth and obeying God’s Word are pushed out for speaking up (labeled as divisive, disloyal, trouble-makers, and distrusting of leadership). Little do these fearful pastors know they are sawing off the branch on which they sit. (See Proverbs 26:27)

I could ramble on, you get the point.

Driving toward solutions – What are we to do?

– Pray.
– Praise God for the Church – the body of Christ.
– Repent of our self-centered idolatry and compromises with the world.
– Return to our first love – Jesus Christ and his holy Word – obey his commands.
– Recover the mission of the church – a community committed to truth (John 8:46-47), a community of love (John 17), and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
– Restore a full-orbed Kingdom vision for our place in God’s world for his glory! (Ephesians 2:10)
– Pray again (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. – Titus 2:1

What about you? What ways do you observe churches ‘going liberal’?

 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Want to dive deeper? Listen to my interview on ‘Her Faith Inspires’ podcast with Shanda Fulbright. Go to the podcast homepage here…

LEARN ABOUT THE FORGE ROOM FOUNDATION.
TRAINING EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.

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The ‘Why?’ behind the Forge Room

WE ARE TRAINING EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.
FORGING A REVOLUTIONARY LEARNING COMMUNITY, LIVING BOLDLY FOR CHRIST.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

The only organization on earth capable of reorienting society toward reality, virtue, and human flouring is the church. The only roadmap is the Bible. The only captain is Christ.

People change, organizations change and churches change. My calling remains the same.

God’s call led me into lay-leadership of our church’s pro-life ministry in 2012. He sustained me and exponentially grew the ministry and its impact, despite my short-comings. God is faithful.

God’s call led me to join staff at our church in 2014 to lead Local Missions (community outreach). God blessed and multiplied His ministry through bringing lay-leaders with gifts and talents I do not possess. They were vessels of God’s strength and grace in reaching thousands of people for Christ. Our message was clear, “we are a church without walls.” God is good.

God’s call placed me on the ramparts as a watchman in 2020 as dark ideologies attempted to mount a siege against our fellowship. My responsibility was clear; understand the enemy and his schemes, discern between friend or foe approaching the gates, and relay what I saw to those inside the city.

“For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman;
let him announce what he sees.
When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
let him listen diligently,
very diligently.”
Then he who saw cried out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
whole nights.
And behold, here come riders,
horsemen in pairs!””
– Isaiah 21:6-8

God’s call sustained me once again as organizational focus changed and shifted. God revealed a vital need where something was missing that I could create and contribute. The fellowship needed to be fortified in the faith, equipped with understanding of the times, and encouraged to stand firm – shining as lights in the darkness. God is wise.

God’s call on my life has always centered around protecting the most vulnerable – the unborn, the orphan, the trafficking victim, the elderly, the unprotected youth. You can read my story here to understand I was once the antithesis of this. But, God took the evil I committed and turned it for good. Even when I am unfaithful, God is faithful.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?”
– Proverbs 24:11-12

I cannot and will not remain silent in the face of evil as I did in my younger days. I am accountable to God, my wife, and my children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

I’ve reached two conclusions; First, for the most part, Christians have been fighting a defensive battle (even as we claim to be on the offense). Second, the American church suffers from the fear of man, a focus on self-preservation and empire-building, and protection of the institutional church (as a business). We’ve traded our God-ordained birth-right for a cheap bowl of marketing gimmicks. The results are; a loss of mission, moral confusion, and a sense of prevailing darkness. Well-meaning Christians have retreated to their ‘holy huddles’ and rabbit holes of Sunday church attendance, home, work, entertainment, and Christian activities (as sanctioned by the world).

Someone once said, “When the light of the world retreats inside walls of the church, the world becomes a very dark place.”

I prayed, “Lord, what would you have me to do? I’m your’s to command.”

On June 16, 2022 a vision began forming in my mind. I saw a joy-filled, spirit-led, faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and vibrant community of sold-out Christ-followers so distinct from the world, they shined like the brightest stars in the sky. I saw people on fire for the Lord and loving their neighbors. I saw hundreds and even thousands of Christians breaking down the walls of church buildings to serve as ambassadors of our Savior and King. I saw Christ being honored and glorified in our city. I saw entire families being brought into the fold through the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. I saw prayer meetings, big and small breaking out all over. I saw a recovery of a full-orbed Kingdom vision and public theology as Christ-followers engaged within their sphere of relationships.

I saw classrooms, seminars, and forums filled with eager Christians in learning communities being equipped to serve God’s purposes in this generation and this city. I saw people investing in people who invest in people – creating disciples who will disciple the nations and generations in our city.

Today, I see a recovery of what is good, true, and beautiful on the horizon. I see answered prayer unleashed on our city. I see renewal and local churches pouring fourth light like never before.

All of this is totally impossible… or is it?

My prayer is… Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)

J.B. Phillips paraphrase puts it this way, “Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!”

As a pastor and leader, I’ve led the charge against human trafficking, exploitation of the vulnerable, abortion, euthanasia, and destructive ideologies. By God’s grace, great work has been done in these areas! We must celebrate what God has done through His faithful people. But, things in our community continue to worsen and decay. It’s not for a lack of awareness or funding or services. We have some of the best people and organizations serving trafficking victims, women in crisis pregnancies, orphans, the elderly and protecting the hearts and minds of children in our schools. The problem is cultural virtue is decaying because Christian leaders are telling their followers to abandon societal institutions like education, arts and music, media, and politics. Thus, our communities become very dark places.

The church isn’t lacking in programming or resources or personalities, we’re lacking in prayer, fortitude, and Gospel G.R.I.T. (Guts, Resiliency, Integrity, and Tenacity). Our Savior, Jesus Christ demonstrated all of these virtues as he “set his face like a flint” and marched to the cross, through death, and sat upon his Kingly throne.

Most Christians live as though we have a King without a Kingdom. Meanwhile, evil, chaos, and brokenness ravage our children, families, and communities – and churches!

Michael S. Craven stated, “While Christian faith is deeply personal it was never intended to remain private. This reductionism and privatization of Christian faith have left the contemporary Church with little to offer a desperate world other than a prescription for personal salvation, the only real implication of which is realized when you die. Unfortunately, this truncated gospel has left the Christian confused and uncertain with regard to what they are to be doing in the meantime.”

Again, we’ve made great strides in our fight against issues like trafficking and abortion. However, things continue to get worse. Most individual efforts are focused on arguing against and fighting at the point of crisis (ie. rescuing victims, protecting the vulnerable, or political action). I encourage, support, and participate in those efforts.

Sadly, the church sits on the sidelines, or complains, or remains silent or avoids critical cultural issues at all costs. I participate in the anti-trafficking community, serve on boards of ministries, attend school board and city council meetings, and advise crisis pregnancy centers. Local church involvement is always missing. Christians get involved but local churches tend to shy away from ‘controversial’ issues like trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, human sterilization, and perceived ‘political’ issues.

Silence on an issue of good versus evil is not going to win lost people to Christ.

Eric Metaxas said, “There are a lot of pastors that say, “I don’t want to fight (against moral evil)… I just want to “preach the Gospel.” I mean, if slavery is an issue, should you not talk about slavery because you might offend someone in your congregation? What issue will you be silenced on that is a God issue? That is an issue of good versus evil, because you have been persuaded somehow that if you don’t talk about that issue, you’ll win a convert. A convert to what? What dead, useless gospel are you preaching?”

Richard Owen Roberts said, “During the present time of moral and spiritual declension, the church is daily losing ground to the world. Each false convert that is added to an already adulterated work adds to the decline and hastens its pace. We have already reached the point where the negative impact of those who profess to be Christians and either are not or are badly backslidden is greater than the positive impact of those who profess to be Christians and truly are. Thus, the church is going backward instead of forward.”

Christ alone can heal and revive His Church. The church isn’t a franchise. Jesus Christ, not man, is responsible for building His Church. The “church growth movement” is an open door to liberalism, compromise, and false-teaching. Today, we find ourselves on a recovery mission of sound doctrine, faithfulness, and public theology.

God’s calling on me is clear and fortified. God moved the location and context of my vision. No longer is it limited to a single local church. It is a bigger enterprise for equipping and mobilizing the Church in our city in order to push back against the darkness and infuse God’s goodness into our community.

Based on my research, our communities will continue to degrade. Trafficking will continue to get worse, new forms of abortion will increase, sterilization of children will become normalized, euthanasia of the elderly and ill will increase, and the indoctrination of children and organizations with sex-ed, Marxism, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) / SEL / ESG doctrines will destroy any last vestige of moral virtue and human flourishing. Not to mention, the harsh rhetoric and cancelling of dissent or truth will continue unchallenged.

Moving forward, what are we about?

Christianity is a public truth.”

– Lesslie Newbigin

We must recover a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; faith, holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal for sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Christ is Lord over ALL things. We serve as ambassadors of His Kingdom – reflecting our King’s image, redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live. We need a recovery of cultural virtue like in the days of William Wilberforce in order to make good culture and protect the sanctity of human life.

“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”
– William Wilberforce

With this in mind, we launched the Forge Room Foundation in May of 2023.

A forge is “a furnace in which iron or metal is heated and hammered into form. Any place where any thing is made or shaped. The act of beating or working iron or steel; the manufacture of metalline bodies.” [Noah Webster 1828 – American Dictionary of the English Language].

A forge room is “a place or establishment where iron or other metals are wrought by heating and hammering.” [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary]

A forge room is a motif of the Christian life and journey. We are constantly being grown, tested, sanctified, and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Until Christ returns, the sanctity of human life will always be in danger. Threats against the weak, the vulnerable, and children are unending and will continue to grow.

We’re accurately Identifying the Problem:
We are living in a Civilizational Moment. Christians need strong biblical community and equipping now more than ever. Over the past hundred years, the Christian faith has become privatized as we have abandoned society resulting in darkness and moral confusion. Dangerous ideologies are invading our families, schools, and churches.

Like the German church in the 1930s, the American church is overcome with fear and remains virtually silent in the face of evil. As a result, the Church has lost its public witness. Our action or inaction today will shape the next century.

We’re Creating and contributing Solution:
The Forge Room Foundation is creating localized learning communities – providing training in worldview, cultural intelligence, and biblical theology – bringing light into the darkness.

We must repent of our silence. We must develop the life of the mind and heart. We must cultivate Gospel GRIT (Guts, Resiliency, Integrity, and Tenacity) in local churches. We must recover the Gospel of the Kingdom!

“The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

– Michael S. Craven

We’re Encouraging and mobilizing appropriate Action:
We will develop a full-orbed Kingdom vision, confidence, and wisdom to serve generations yet unborn for Christ.

Are you ready to live boldly for Christ in this generation in our city?

Will you partner with us in this mission? Join us for a course and check us out (click here)

In conclusion, God will sustain and grow His ministry and its impact, despite my short-comings. Why? God is faithful.

Learn more about Forge Room here…

Resources to encourage you and give you hope

Article: Recovering the Gospel of the Kingdom by Michael Craven

Sermon: How to Be a Man of Courage by John MacArthur

Article: THE THREE WORLDS OF EVANGELICALISM by Aaron Renn

Book: Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch

Book: A Christian Manifesto Paperback by Francis A. Schaeffer

“Evangelization requires that we proclaim, not only God’s saving grace, but the norms by which he intends those who are in Christ to live. In no way do mere human beings redeem culture by engaging in creative activity. This is presumptuous. Only God in Christ redeems his fallen creation. We are at most agents of his kingdom, manifesting his saving grace in everything we do — including the shaping of culture.”

– David T. Koyzis –

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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Signs Your Church, Ministry, or Business May Be Failing (Part 2)

You’re the problem with your organization!
You’re also the solution!

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

HOW TO AVOID LEADERSHIP FAILURE

You are the problem with your organization!
You are also the solution!

In Part 1, I shared a few signs your church, ministry, or business might be headed into decline based on Jim Collins’ book, “How the Mighty Fall.” The goal was to outline how to accurately diagnose the problem. Read Part 1 before moving ahead.

In Part 2, we’ll begin discussing how decline relates to you as an individual leader and what you can do to avoid it. At the end, I provide four helpful resources.

As leaders, we need to ask important questions:

Where am I as a leader?
How does my team experience my leadership?
Where are we as a team?
What is the condition of my organization?
Are we healthy and thriving?
Are we on mission?
Are we drifting away from our mission?
Are we at risk of decline and failure?
Have we abandoned the core principles that made us successful in the first place?
Are we measuring the wrong things?
Do I even really know the people in my organization on a personal level?

Problem:

Isolated leaders, insolated leaders, high staff turnover, pragmatism, institutionalism (self-serving), mission ambiguity, gaslighting, defensiveness, fear, promoting ‘yes men’ over wise men, sanctioned incompetence, poor communication, gossip, malfeasance, quiet firing, spiritual abuse, and lack of vision plague Christian organizations today. Yet many leaders retreat to their ivory towers, revert to blame-shifting or scapegoating. People are seen as problems to be solved instead of sheep to be shepherded. Goodwill and good ideas vanish. As leaders distance themselves from problems and criticism, they push away people with good ideas and solutions who could help. A brain drain ensues and toxicity slowly poisons the entire organization.

How do we avoid such things and guard our witness for Christ? I’ll share a few thoughts.

Getting at Solutions:

Where am I?

Have you ever participated in a land navigation or orienteering exercise?

“Navigation is the art and science of determining the position of a ship, plane or other vehicle, and guiding it to a specific destination. Navigation requires a person to know the vehicle’s relative location, or position compared to other known locations.” (National Geographic)

“Land navigation is the discipline of following a route through unfamiliar terrain on foot or by vehicle, using maps with reference to terrain, a compass, and other navigational tools.” (Wikipedia)

The primary key to successful land navigation is not locating your destination. The essential first step is locating your current position on the map. If you don’t know where you are, you will never reach your intended destination (period). When things get chaotic or difficult, we need humility to ask, “Where am I?”

Humility (I can’t stress it enough).

Deep understanding is vital to healthy leadership and will result in healthy church, ministry, and business. If the leadership is unhealthy or toxic, it will poison the entire organization. Leaders must understand we are sinners and imperfect. We need to allow others into our lives to help us. We need others to show us our blind spots. We must remove façades that veil the truth about us. We must allow God to deal with our pride and selfish ambitions.

Humility is at the core of leadership.
Personality, passion, gifting, competence, compatibility, and character apart from a deep authentic humility are worthless.

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” – James 3:13 (NLT)

In February of 2016 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 58 days later, he was gone. Early on in my dad’s treatment, by God’s grace I realized I was not in the right condition to lead my ministry. I was responsible for 1000+ volunteers, leaders, nonprofit partners, managing budgets, strategic planning, and vital relationships. In addition, needy people in our community depend upon the church to help them. In a season of loss and grief, it was all too much! So, I handed over all leadership authority and responsibility to my second in command. He’s smart, humble, and consistent. He is a great leader. As I entered the crucible with my dad, my team mate masterfully guided the ministry. Everyone worked together to stay on mission.

A couple months after my dad died my second in command quietly handed the ministry back to me. The shepherd needed shepherding during a stormy season. God used my father’s death to humble me. God provided a humble servant to take the helm for a season. Like a good harbor pilot, my teammate handed me the wheel after guiding the ship out of the rocky harbor to safer waters. Praise God!

Reality on the Ground:

A leader must be transparent and honest about where he or she is and where the organization is at all times. A leader must ask for help, feedback, and receive it with gladness. Remember, people are watching. As a leader you are bearing witness to God’s work in your life and through the organization. Your team will forget a lot but they won’t forget how you cared for them.

When you know where you are and possess the humility to ask for help and admit mistakes, you can provide good care for your team. In turn, they will care for you. Trust is the currency of any culture. Humility fosters trust.

In conclusion, know where you are and the condition of the people in your organization. Cultivate humility by letting people into your life and investing them. Don’t hide weakness, problems, or failure. Share them with your team and ask them questions. We’re all human and people tend to help those they can relate to. We trust who we know.

Leader, look in the mirror everyday and realize you’re the problem with your organization… You’re also the solution. Be the kind of leader people want by their side in the storms and battles of life.

Leadership Resources:

  1. The 360 Interview
  2. Gemba Walk
  3. Read a Proverb everyday for 31 days (repeat)
  4. Book: The QBQ

In part 3, we’ll cover more…

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

LOOKING FOR MORE?

In addition to this blog, explore additional content on my Substack!

If you enjoy Revolution of Man blog, podcast, and videos - Consider subscribing to my Substack. Substack is a reader-supported publication that also allows me to reach a broader audience. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming paid subscriber.