Saturday, November 18, 2006

Please pray

I have spent today with my family, watching football, at the paint store, and in prayer.

Over the past several days--well, more than that, actually--I have been burdened to the point of distraction for those who have chosen a "side" against the majority of the staff, deacon body, and congregation of Bellevue Baptist Church. I use the word "majority" because there is, according to what I have read, heard and seen over these past months, a minority who refuse to be satisfied until great damage is done to the church as a whole.

Now, that is not to say that these people wake up in the morning and say to themselves "Let's see what great damage I can do to Bellevue as a whole today!" Quite to the contrary, the vast majority of this minority is no doubt sincere--but also myopic. Their stated concern for Bellevue has led them to a Machiavellian focus on the end result, never mind the means used to achieve that end. They hide behind pseudonyms, generally, except for those in the forefront of the group who have chosen to wear their real names on the backs of the team jerseys for their "side." As a rule, they attack in writing in ways etiquette would forbid in conversation. When they are accommodated, it isn't enough; when their questions receive answers, either the answers are insufficient or else new questions magically appear.

To respond with skepticism regarding their validity of their actions or their ideas, as many have found out, is to be put in the crosshairs, figuratively speaking. And this, to me, is the most disappointing part of the whole sordid affair, even more disappointing than discovering I use far, far too many commas when I write. But seriously... when that "side" pushes, attacks, and defames pastors, deacons, and other church members in general without concern or apology, my heart breaks for everyone concerned--but mostly for the group carrying out such anti-Bellevue behavior.

Yes, "anti-Bellevue." Since the day the dissent moved from a private campaign of whispers within the church body to a public campaign of websites, news articles and forums, it has been attempted to be incredibly injurious to Bellevue as a whole. As most every person's grandmother has said, it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable, but those in the vanguard of the movement against Bellevue show precious little evidence of remembering the saying. Pastor Gaines is Hitler, so they say; the deacons who support him are Fascists, and the majority of the congregation is a group of ignorant sycophants. How, exactly, do these caricatures come across as constructive in nature? How do they bring benefit at this point in Bellevue's existence? Obviously, they do not.

Bellevue Baptist Church has been used of God for over a century in ministering the Gospel to those who need to hear it. I would suggest it is possible to be dissatisfied with the way the church has been, or is, operating without engaging in behavior that damages the church as a whole. Such behavior as we see is anti-Bellevue, though I seriously doubt the heart of anyone engaging in such behavior is.

We should, we must be prayerful in our approach to this time of testing. Whatever your opinion of any given matter in your church, do not use your opinion as justification for assaulting those with whom you disagree--rather, use it as a opportunity to draw closer to God.

--Mike

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, Mike, what if 95% or 90% or whatever % you choose of the majority is wrong?

Better yet, what if you are wrong and every alleged wrongdoing has actually taken place?

What would you suggest the church body do?

Awaiting your edification...

Mike Bratton said...

Anonymous said...
So, Mike, what if 95% or 90% or whatever % you choose of the majority is wrong?

Better yet, what if you are wrong and every alleged wrongdoing has actually taken place?

What would you suggest the church body do?

Awaiting your edification...

12:30 AM, November 20, 2006


In 1980, Kirk Douglas guest-hosted Saturday Night Live; this was the last year it was actually, consistently, drop-dead funny. Bill Murray owned the show, and Al Franken had his comedy partner Tom Davis to actually help Franken be (yes, I know it's shocking) mildly humorous.

But I digress.

Mr. Douglas, of course, starred in the motion picture Spartacus; one of the show's sketches that was a parody TV show, "What If," where outlandish hypothetical questions were allegedly given thoughtful examination. On this "episode," the hypothetical in question was: "What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?" It was a great way to get Mr. Douglas back into Roman garb, as they had him buzzing the enemy with the airplane using hilariously cheesy "special effects." Funny, funny stuff.

You, sir/ma'am, have asked me what Spartacus would do with a Piper Cub.

--Mike

EDITED TO ADD: Well, I should be more thorough. What would I suggest the church body do? The same thing I'm begging members of it to do now--bring the discussion back within the church walls.

29 said...

Mike,

Last night our church practiced (for the first time in my life) Matthew 18. we removed a member from fellowship. this was painful and not something I enjoyed. I would could not imagine it being gossiped about all over the internet, with web pages going into the gory details and blogs trashing the different players.

You are so right: This belongs within the walls of the church.

Mike Bratton said...

29 said...
Mike,

Last night our church practiced (for the first time in my life) Matthew 18. we removed a member from fellowship. this was painful and not something I enjoyed. I would could not imagine it being gossiped about all over the internet, with web pages going into the gory details and blogs trashing the different players.

You are so right: This belongs within the walls of the church.

11:40 AM, November 20, 2006


Thank you for sharing.

And, thank you for not sharing.

--Mike

Anonymous said...

EDITED TO ADD: Well, I should be more thorough. What would I suggest the church body do? The same thing I'm begging members of it to do now--bring the discussion back within the church walls.
__________________________________

Mike,
The leadership of the church had denied the "anti-bellevue" crowd any voice "within the church walls".
The organisers of the origional meeting had asked to have it at 2000 Appling, and were told "no" by Chuck Taylor, Mark D. et all. To this day, MS & CO have been denied the opportunity to address the deacon body or the church "within the church walls"
Unfortunatly, it's taken the "public airing" to even get the formation of the Communication Committee, (btw, I am hearing is doing as little communicating as possible, and won't answer difficult questions with straight answers.)
The point is, we wouldn't even be here without the pressure brought by the "bloggers."
I agree, it is not the ideal nor best solution, but since the church administration has balked at anything that might be unpleasent.

Another question for you.
It's been alleged that Chuck Taylor has made the statement to certain deacons as well as certain other parties of high theological rank in the Baptist hiearchy in Memphis that the pastor of any church is not subject to Matthew 18.

If it's true (that he said that), do you agree with that statement?

I intend to ask the CC committee if that's true when my turn comes up in the choir.

Just My Opinion said...

Mike,

As one who is not on one side or the other I find your writings to be one of the elements of this predicament that I find the most distasteful. You definitely carry a second place to the ‘savingbellevue.com’ website which easily outdistances you in the poor taste category. Jim Heywood has sensationalized his website with half truths and misleading headlines. And his selection of a particular picture was a disgrace to all. I’ve emailed him with my concerns and disappointment.

May I take a moment to address my concerns with your writings and postings. First up would be you continued utilization of labeling anyone that questions our pastor and/or church leadership as being anti-Bellevue. John Crockett said it best when he stated that most of the issues raised were about policy and procedures which is something that can be addressed and resolved. I believe that the Communication Committee is set-up to do just that. But if folks who have questions are in your words ‘anti-Bellevue’ why should the church take time and efforts to reconcile with those who you feel are trying to create destruction? They are not anti-Bellevue but members of our church who have genuine concerns and want an opportunity to have their voice heard. Our church is a membership of people, who should have a voice in how the church is run, should they not? Remember it was our pastor Dr. Rogers who questioned how the SBC was being run. He took it to a vote of the membership and won thus changing the direction of the SBC. Would a person who felt that the direction of Bellevue may be wrong not have the same recourse? Would you have labeled Dr. Rogers anti-SBC?

While I do not believe that a Machiavellian focus is at work in these instance they are a form of half truths and deceit which could lead one to that conclusion. But you must agree if you have no bias that there have been half truths and deceit on both sides of the issue. I continue to read how you sense that these issues should remain inside the walls of the church. And how does your posting work toward these solutions? A reasonable member could easily assume that had there not been an article in the paper, postings on the Internet nor an increased awareness then we would not be where we are today. If the concerns were not important enough to be heard then why do we now have a Communications Committee to meet with fellow members?

In conclusion, I would like to say that I am personally offended that you would address fellow members and believers as anti-Bellevue just because their position differs from yours. Yes, some have taken the low road with their half truths and misinformation. But many are trying to seek out the truth in a more open public way because until recent there was no other course to take. When Chuck Taylor (a dear man of God) said to talk with a deacon about your concerns it made the situation worse. I was surprised at the lack of knowledge and in same cases, the lack of interest, from the deacon members which I spoke. It was only until I spoke with Derrick Calcoate that many of my misperceptions were cleared up. Had there not been a posting on the Internet by Derrick I would not have been able to reach out to him. So the Internet has served a useful purpose in many instances. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

rpm said...

This is amazing!

The orginal issue, "was there an offense", has become, " I have the right and am justified in the airing of all my complaints about my church over the internet".

MKW said...

I keep reading "don't beat the sheep" and other comments directed at the alleged maltreatment of church members by leadership and administration. I found the following devotional thought interesting. None of likes discipline. The byline credit goes to a blog named "teachmedad" and I see much wisdom here:

How enviable is the man whom God corrects. Oh, do not despise the chastening of the Lord when you sin. For though he wounds, he binds and heals once again. Job 5:17,18

Someday, I’ll have to ask my Dad if it’s true. He was raised on a sheep ranch in Eastern Montana. The story I am wondering about is one I have heard quite a few times. It involves shepherds and how they discipline wayward sheep.

According to the story, if a lamb has a tendency to wander off or run away, the shepherd will actually break one of its legs. He will then tend the broken leg - put a splint on it and bind it up. Then for several days or weeks while the leg is mending, he will carry the lamb on his shoulder. If the anecdote is true, once the sheep’s leg has healed, it will follow the shepherd, close at his side, the rest of its life. It will never again go astray.

Now, breaking a sheep’s leg is a bit harsh, yet the shepherd knows it is better for the sheep to suffer temporary pain than to wander off into the wilderness and become lamb chops for some hungry wolf.

Today’s verse tells us God will chasten and correct us when we go astray, and it can be painful. Brutally. But it is for our good. It won’t kill us. And the pain is better than the alternative - becoming rack of lamb on Satan’s banquet table.

Remember, when the Lord wounds, he binds and heals again. He will not leave us broken and bruised. And once we have healed, we will never stray again. How enviable is the man whom God corrects!

Action points:

Take time today to examine your heart. If there is any tendency to stray, make the corrections so God will not have to do it for you.

If you are suffering a “broken leg” ask God to show you the lesson He wants you to learn, and then learn it quickly.

My comment: To those who bleat the loudest, are they simply fighting the shepherd's staff?

Submitted by a "ewe lamb" who tends to be rather sheepish and dumb herself at times ...

Anonymous said...

Mike,
still waiting for an answer.
------------------------------
Another question for you.
It's been alleged that Chuck Taylor has made the statement to certain deacons as well as certain other parties of high theological rank in the Baptist hiearchy in Memphis that the pastor of any church is not subject to Matthew 18.

If it's true (that he said that), do you agree with that statement?

Mike Bratton said...

Anonymous said...
Mike,
still waiting for an answer.
------------------------------
Another question for you.
It's been alleged that Chuck Taylor has made the statement to certain deacons as well as certain other parties of high theological rank in the Baptist hiearchy in Memphis that the pastor of any church is not subject to Matthew 18.

If it's true (that he said that), do you agree with that statement?


I'm still waiting for it to be something other than an allegation.

--Mike