Thursday, May 10, 2007

A contaminated timeline

For those who believe belonging to a church is a license to publicly bash it (and for those who do so even without belonging to the church in question), I bring forth for you consideration some prescient observations from Keith Solomon, someone who has, for awhile now, been part of the discussion regarding events at Bellevue Baptist Church. I quote him thusly, and like so:

I've seen a lot of bloggers telling people to refer to the 'Integrity Does Count' timeline for an accurate account of the events surrounding Bellevue. They speak as if it's completely true without any bias or spin whatsoever.

I don't expect whoever wrote it to be perfect, but I do expect a humility and desire to be as accurate as possible, even when admitting to error. That's true in everything, but especially when dealing with the body of Christ.

One of the events that is listed in December 2006 is a party our singles had:
December 2006
Career and Singles celebrate the New Year with a “Black and White Hollywood Night” party. The “Hollywood Parties” originated at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

To be honest, I don't see anything wrong with the party even if the theme did originate at Saddleback. However, it did not and saying that it did is a deliberate falsification that should be removed if the timeline is to have any credibility with me. To deliberately ignore the facts because you think you can get away with it is the worst kind of deception in my book.

This is where they got the idea that the parties started at Saddleback. There isn't a year listed, but Friday, February 10 would make it 2006.

Here is a flyer from the singles department from 2002. Under 'Special Thanks' you'll see mention of a 'Hollywood New Year's' party. Since this was 4 years before the Saddleback party, I don't see how the theme could have originated there based on the Saddleback link.

So is this a big deal? I think so. First, everyone who has printed this off and handed it out has been passing around a lie. Is it a big lie? Well, the party was evidently a big enough deal to make the timeline in the first place. Before handing it out in the future, everyone should mark that line out. I think anyone who has already handed out the timeline should contact everyone who received it and tell them that there is at least one mistake on it, too.

Second, it clearly speaks about the men who created the timeline. This image was sent (by someone else) to IDC in March, but there was never an answer or any action taken whatsoever. Men of integrity would instantly remove anything questionable (or clearly wrong), but the event remains.

Third, why are we arguing about parties anyway? Would Steve Gaines' behavior be more acceptable if the party hadn't taken place?

I just can't help but wonder how many other events have been doctored up. If they'll ignore one mistake, why not more? The sad part is that it's so unnecessary. There's more than enough dirt for them to use without resorting to fiction.

I see a lot of irony in the name 'Integrity Does Count'. I believe it does, and that God honors it's presence. I'm not a professional fruit inspector, but I haven't seen much evidence that God is working through IDC.

The NBBCOF puts a lot of importance on fruitfulness. Is IDC sinking or swimming? There sure has been a lot of dissention among the ranks.

Maybe they should create a list of their accomplishments thus far so that we can judge for ourselves whether or not we should support their efforts.

Until then, I'll keep Proverbs 11:3 in mind.
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.


One additional observation, if I might: Who, exactly, makes up (pun intended) "Integrity Does Count"? Demanding accountability from others while hiding in the shadows starts off as being humorously ironic; however, it soon devolves into common hypocrisy.

Don't let that happen to you.

--Mike

24 comments:

MOM4 said...

FYI,
You are correct in stating that the Hollywood Block Parties did not originate with Saddleback. They were promoted WAY back in 1993 by the Willowcreek Association - I remember well the one I made the mistake of attending. I understand that the one at Bellevue was not as bad as the parties hosted by Saddleback, not "that bad" I was told, so in all fairness, even Steve Gaines can't totally corrupt some things.

solomon said...

Okay, time for an integrity check. This is courtesy of none other than NASS, the ruler of the NBBCOF. (Apparently SG pulled up the wrong year's results for the Nashville Marathon on the internet when he was preparing his sermon.)

I figured I might have to explain this to someone, and one person has asked, so here's the point. The point wasn't that he didn't do his research on this particular issue but that if he isn't concerned about adhering to the truth in a situation as inconsequential as this, how can he be trusted in matters of greater importance? It really doesn't matter if his research assistant (if he even had one) is stupid or lazy (a 6th grader could have done a better job), or he didn't stay until the end of the event to see the winners (which means he is being willfully dishonest or at the least negligent), or that he doesn't do his own research -- the point is he didn't get the most basic of facts right, and that tells me he's not any more believable when he says anything else.

Personally, I think the sermon was prepared (by him or someone else) before Saturday, so the winners weren't known and that he (or someone) was just lazy and pulled this stuff off the internet thinking no one would notice. I think when he said it was the 7th annual event this was further evidence that the information came from the internet rather than firsthand knowledge.

So call it "nitpicky" or whatever. In the grand scheme of things it's not important that Steve Gaines was in error on this particular issue. It's the much bigger issue of which this is a symptom.

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10


What an INCREDIBLE coincidence that she would write those words today! So, does that statement hold true for IDC, or is pastor Steve Gaines supposed to be held to a higher standard?

solomon said...

mom4,

I'd be interested in hearing about your experience. Bellevue also had a 'Hollywood' party in 1993 in the old College/Career department. That was shortly after I became a father, so I don't know anything about it. I also don't know anything about the 2002 party other than what the flyer says.

However, I did talk to a former teacher in the Career department about this year's, and he said that there was nothing out of the ordinary about it.

But let's not lose sight of the forest. The issue isn't about parties, it's about integrity. As you have now confirmed, the 'Hollywood' format did not start at Saddleback. And yet, IDC put that forth as a fact. It was mentioned on the NBBCOF back in December that the format did not originate there, but IDC included it anyway because it suited their own purposes. They were told it was not true after they went online, shown evidence, and STILL refused to admit their mistake.

Now, thanks to their unresponsiveness, the evidence is out there for everyone to see (and no, I don't regret the consequences of their actions.)

As NASS so astutely pointed out, The point wasn't that he didn't do his research on this particular issue but that if he isn't concerned about adhering to the truth in a situation as inconsequential as this, how can he be trusted in matters of greater importance?

Do we really want IDC leading the fight?

MOM4 said...

Keith,
I have reviewed the IDC timeline and I am in the belief that whoever is responsible for it believes that the information is factual. HOWEVER, I say that to say this - I have emailed them over another discrepency and it is sill not corrected. I have heard that they are having trouble verifying information thru several sources. My issue was that the 25K to FUMC was delivered on Love Offering Sunday last year and they have it in Sept. 06. I may be wrong, but so far NO ONE at the church is willing to verify it.
As far as the Hollywood party goes, the particular parties held at Saddleback and Willowcreek are secular and not somethng I would ever want to attend again (I attended my one and only as a chaperone). My understanding about the one at BBC is that it was tame in comparison to what the CGM promotes.
At any rate, we can nitpick it all apart if you wish, just like we can nitpick IDC apart, but the fact is that they are the only ones making any effort to get to the bottom of the deceptions that have become a major part of BBC. Even if SOME of their information is incorrect, it is still more truth that the administration has EVER revealed.

bepatient said...

Even if SOME of their information is incorrect, it is still more truth that the administration has EVER revealed.

I will let someone else take this one. I just wanted to make sure it got noticed.

MOM4 said...

bepatient,
Have at it, it makes no difference to me. Truth is Truth, no matter how many ways you try to hide from it.

solomon said...

mom4,

FWIW, the 2007 Bellevue Hollywood party was not completely secular. I was told that there was a 'praise' band and that they had a prayer time at midnight. My thought is that it was held to give our singles a place to hang out on New Years without any drinking, smoking, or dancing. I know that some of the more liberal churches in town got together and had a singles dance that night, and I think our church wanted to keep our singles away from it. Even if the theme had been instituted at Saddleback (which it wasn't), it adds nothing to IDC's case against SG.

Anyway, as I said originally, I don't expect IDC to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I understand that we all have jobs and families we must give priority to. However, I do expect for them to have the integrity (or at least the common sense) to admit to their mistakes and correct them.

This is a big deal, because ultimately we are counting on God to win the victory for us. The entire nation of Israel was defeated because just one man kept a few items of treasure from the fallen city of Jericho. Once that sin was cleansed, victory came quickly.

In the long run, it doesn't matter if IDC reveals ten thousand facts that the leadership has kept hidden if there is even one deliberate deceit or half-truth in their case. God will not be honored like that. He won't even listen (Psalm 66:18).

Far and away the biggest issue I have with Steve Gaines is the credit card issue. I don't care if he uses it for personal things as long as he pays the appropriate taxes and reimbuses the church. As far I as can tell he has done that.

However, by the time the informational meeting was held he had made direct charges to the card account. The card was not swiped, but the account was charged. For him to pull a piece of plastic out of his wallet that Sunday night and boldly say that he had never once used 'this card' for personal use counts as deliberate deception in my book. I don't think any charges were out of order, but that statement was.

Deception is a sin. It doesn't matter if it's IDC, SG, NASS, Keith Solomon, or anyone else. We are handling holy things, and we shouldn't even try to touch them unless our hands are clean.

MOM4 said...

Keith,
I agree with the truth being the truth. I don't "think" IDC has made a deliberate attempt to mis-state any facts, but are providing what they know to be true until the powers that be at the church can and will verify the facts. If they have, I will be surprised and I will address that issue with a few of the folks I know and see what gives. The Saddleback Hollywood party is famous and most everyone I know thinks that it did originate there, but it is most definitely part of the CGM which had it's beginnings more than 20 years ago.
I totally agree with you on the credit card issue, and although that is the tip of the financial/lying iceberg, it is not the issue with paying it back that is the problem - he is committing an illegal act any time he charges a personal expense to the church, whether it is by credit card, billing charges or spending cash advances improperly using the church's name, whether he pays the tax or not. It is a violation of Federal and State Law and he should know that. If perhaps he claims he does NOT know that he is breaking the law, someone in Finance should have told him. I have it on good authority that he has been repeatedly told and brushes it off arrogantly. He considers himself above the law, above reproach and above Matthew 18. I wonder what storm is in store for Bellevue with him at the helm...

Mike Bratton said...

MOM4 said...

...

I totally agree with you on the credit card issue, and although that is the tip of the financial/lying iceberg, it is not the issue with paying it back that is the problem - he is committing an illegal act any time he charges a personal expense to the church, whether it is by credit card, billing charges or spending cash advances improperly using the church's name, whether he pays the tax or not. It is a violation of Federal and State Law and he should know that. If perhaps he claims he does NOT know that he is breaking the law, someone in Finance should have told him.


The number for the Appling Farms precinct of the Memphis Police Department is 373-3883.

The main number for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is (615) 744-4000.

And the number for the Memphis branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is 747-4300.

I have it on good authority that he has been repeatedly told and brushes it off arrogantly.

We'll consider the source of that statement.

On the other hand, I have it on extremely good authority that there are some folks in this ongoing nonsense who like to threaten the lives and reputations of those who disagree with them, yet their targets show them grace.

--Mike

MOM4 said...

We'll consider the source of that statement.

As you wish.

And the number I will need is the IRS. Do you have that one too?

maybejustmaybe said...

Mom4 said:
I agree with the truth being the truth. I don't "think" IDC has made a deliberate attempt to mis-state any facts, but are providing what they know to be true until the powers that be at the church can and will verify the facts.

My question:
So IDC can post whatever they "know to be true" and they will leave it until "the church" verifies the facts? Even in the face of having received information from church members that what they "know to be true" is not, in fact, true?

That's not just dishonest, that's blackmail, IMHO.

bepatient said...

Mom4,

the point is that it isn't TRUTH- and if you discount everything the administration says because one part of it is untrue, the same standard must be held for IDC.


What you expect of others, you must be willing to display yourself.

Memphis said...

IRS
901-545-3243

solomon said...

mom4,

I don't know a lot about the federal regs regarding use of the credit cards, but I do know that it's deliberately misleading to say that you haven't used a piece of plastic to charge an account when in fact the account has been charged. I don't know if any laws were broken. I'm reasonably certain that all personal charges were reimbursed and that tax was included on all purchases, but I'm 100% certain that if one of my daughters tried to deceive me like that she'd have to eat standing up. In my house, integrity counts but a lack of it comes with a cost.

Again, let's not lose sight of the forest. IDC knows very well that they have questionable information published. They keep up with the NBBCOF, as evidenced by this post:

faithnhope said...
To Integrity Does Count,

I noticed on your timeline you state that in the fall of 2005 "Rob Mullins Thursday night Bible Study for college students is cancelled."

The College Bible Study (CBS) was held on Monday nights, not Thursday. Since I noticed this error just glancing over the list, I think it's reasonable to assume it contains additional errors as well. I respectfully suggest that the 'draft' copy be removed from your web site until you've had a chance to finalized it.

Thank you,
Faith Jackson

12:51 PM, February 19, 2007


This is how the timeline now appears:

FALL 2005
The Rob Mullins Monday (not Thursday) Night Bible Study for college students is cancelled.


It almost seems like they are open to correction. But here's another post from last year:

anonymous said...
ezekiel wrote,
I think that is part of this debate. Do we draw the line at raucus dancing parties in the church? A pedifile ministry? Just where, do we draw the line...

zeke,
Trust me on this, there is no overarching scheme behind the singles party. Rick Warren won't be there. He didn't plan it, and it's not the next step in his conspiracy to take over Bellevue.

Honestly, we had a 'Hollywood Party' in the college and career department 14 years ago!

There won't be any dancing. It will simply be a night for single adults to get together and have some fun. Is there anything wrong with that? Trust me, Hollywood won't be 'idolized'.

As for where we draw the line, why don't you tell me? It sounds like it's already drawn. I welcome your opinion.

10:27 PM, December 30, 2006


Since there was question about whether or not the Hollywood parties started at Saddleback last year, what research was done to verify it as fact before the timeline was written? Answer: none.

I see that IDC is expanding their fiction writing, too. Here's part of the disclaimer on their 'Appropriate Responses' page:

The following dialogues are fictional but represent what we, at Integrity Does Count, Inc., believe a pastor should say in direct response to the following conversational situations or in an effort to confess his wrongdoings.

I'd suggest that they put a disclaimer over the timeline:
The following timeline is partially fictional but represents what we, at Integrity Does Count, Inc., believe happened at Bellevue, or at least think might have happened. We have no proof of many of the events, but we don't really care since it's so hard to prove that something that never happened didn't happen and it's unlikely that we'll get caught. Even if we do, we're all anonymous so there's no personal risk on our part.

There's no reason to believe that Bellevue ever planned anything like a prayer labyrinth, but it sounds bad so we'll say they did. We're counting on people's gullibility, so please don't tell anyone we're lying about so many things.


I don't want these people messing up my church.

I DEFINITELY don't want them running it!

MOM4 said...

Keith,
I agree totally with what you are saying about the credit card, I was only expounding on the fact that it is a much bigger picture than him just lying about using the card (from the pulpit, no less) which should have been a firing offense, but was glossed over instead.

As far as IDC goes, I am of the understanding that someone there is working on seeing that things ARE correct. IF they are not, shame on them. I do not know the specifics of who is in charge of the website, but if it is negligence on their part, they need to give their job to someone who is more responsible. I will go on to say that what truth is on there is more than the administration has ever given us, and for that, I am grateful.

junk99mail said...

From the fortune cookie I got with my dinner tonight:
In silence man can most readily maintain his integrity.

solomon said...

That explains why IDC doesn't answer its correspondence.

solomon said...

Maybe someone can answer something I've been wondering about for a while.

This is from the IDC timeline, but we should all be familiar with it:

The meeting ended abruptly when a motion to adjourn was made immediately after a motion was made to require open quarterly business meetings and to adopt the Southern Baptist Convention's position on the sexual integrity of the ministry. The motion to adjourn under Robert's Rules of Order is a privileged motion and is not subject to debate.

Didn't the congregation vote to adjourn? Wasn't it a majority rule? I know I wasn't imagining things. Just because the motion was made the meeting wasn't over. It was when more than 50% of the members present expressed their desire to end it that the meeting was adjourned.

I voted to continue, but I was in the minority (my wife killed my vote, FWIW).

IDC's verbage makes it sound like the instant the motion was made the meeting was shut down.

The meeting ended when the majority voted, not "when a motion to adjourn was made".

Why has this not been pointed out?

Mort said...

It does beg a question. When a motion is made, seconded, and approved by a majority of the congregation, what should then happen?

1) Abide by the motion
2) Ignore the motion

Big Bear said...

This is a first for me (to post on a blog site).
I too have found it very interesting a web site or organization calling for "openness and honesty" as an indication of "integrity" will not reply when asked through their web site for their board of directors.

Another incorrect "fact" on their list. Having known Bill Street since college days, both before he received Christ and after, I know for a fact that Steve Gaines was not his college roommate. Yet this website posts this as a fact, as if that would be a sin had they roomed together and Bill were now on staff.

Amy said...

Sol wrote asd stated on IDC web site
The motion to adjourn under Robert's Rules of Order is a privileged motion and is not subject to debate.

That's correct. It's not subject to debate - goes straight to a vote. When someone makes a move to adjourn and it is seconded,a member can't ask to be recognized and speak for or against adjourning.
I didn't look at the time line, but I am sure the frustration was that they couldn't speak against adjourning when their motion hadn't even been discussed, not to mention majority ruled and the meeting ended. If BBC followed their bylaws and had monthly meetings, Josh Manning's motion would have been the first motion discussed in un-finished business. Since there are no planned meetings, it will die on the vine.

Amy said...

Mort said-

It does beg a question. When a motion is made, seconded, and approved by a majority of the congregation, what should then happen?

1) Abide by the motion
2) Ignore the motion

After the motion is seconded it becomes open for discussion. However, people can make motions to adjourn, move to make an ammendment,call for a vote, etc... and that's when the majority votes and rules

I only watched a few of the tapes of the BBC meeting, but there were several big mistakes made (both sides). That parliamentarian gave wrong advice to BM in his favor. I posted my observations earlier on this blog and will find them and reference them (please note- I could be wrong, what I know is from GBC meetings, but it is elementary stuff).And that "Your point is not well taken"- is not RR at all. The moderator can't pick and choose what he wants to deal with.

Amy said...

I will quote myself, from the Bratton: Point is Not Well Taken thread, thusly, and like so:

Mike,
When I saw what you wrote I found the video you were referencing.In the five minutes I watched, I noted the following, which may be why BBC Admin. wanted the videos pulled. If you use RRoO, you need to play by the rules, not just the rules that suit yourself. The way the crowd was voting, BM should of just followed the simple rules, he probably would of gotten what he wanted and wouldn't have to worry what folks might figure out.

"Your Point is Not Well Taken"

When BM shut that guy's Point of Order down, because he questioned moving the motion to a vote at this time because members had been given no time to consider the committee nominees, it was not well taken because BM didn't want it- not because he was out of line. He was also wrong about acknowledging a call to vote that is shouted out- that motion is one that must be recognized by the chair, just like an adjournment. Plus, the guy that wanted to amend the motion with the conflict of interest concerning committee members was valid in doing so. An amendment can add, subtract, alter, even completely change a motion.

Just Sayn'

4:21 PM, April 19, 2007

Memphis said...

This morning, when BBC asked all the great grandmothers, grandmothers and moms to raise their hands, I looked for a microphone so I could make a motion that the cameras not scan the crowd and place them on the IMAG screens, but I could not find a microphone available.