Tag Archives: discipline

Pastor Matt Chandler demonstrates healthy leadership and genuine wisdom

Pastor Matt Chandler has done evangelical and Reformed leaders a huge service, if they’ll pay attention to what he recently said.

In a recent sermon, Chandler admitted that church discipline had not been handled properly, and he asked forgiveness. As you read the list of things for which he asked forgiveness, consider the implications of each one:

  • Will you forgive us where our counsel turned into control?
  • Will you forgive us where we failed to recognize the limits and scope of our authority?
  • Will you forgive us where we allowed our policies and process to blind us to your pain, confusion and fears?
  • Will you forgive us where we acted transactionally rather than tenderly?
  • Will you forgive us where we failed to recognize you as the victim and didn’t empathize with your situation?

I haven’t been this encouraged by the words of evangelical and/or Reformed teachers in a long, long time.

Chandler gets it. Even if he and his elders really messed up, Chandler is admitting it, apparently making it right, and showing the way forward.

That is leadership.

I’m sure some people could accuse me of consistently negative comments about Christian leaders.

But I don’t want people to pay for their sins. I want people to make real changes that will prevent many bad situations from happening.

I want good leaders instead of bad leaders. I want humane leaders instead of ideological leaders.

I want leaders who know how to leave bad ideas, policies, and practices behind.

If leaders are too frozen in their dogmatic perspectives or too in love with their reputations to remain humble and open to concerns and warnings, then the second best thing I can do is point out their contradictions, failings, and secrecy in hopes of keeping others away from their ministries.

All humans have failings, and all wolves have fangs.

Sure, I’m just a tiny bit of plankton in the Internet Ocean, but I have to yell when I see people being misled and manipulated.

Matt Chandler’s recent sermon encourages me. He shows us all that he’s willing to place his flock above his ego.

Isn’t that Christ-like? To lay down oneself for others?

Matt Chandler also startles me into realizing that real leadership and insight still exist in some evangelical/Reformed churches.

Crosspost: Voddie Baucham, Shy Kids, and Spanking 5 Times Before Breakfast

First, my wife educates our children at home.

Second, the faddish curricula denounced by the author in her post below are indeed poisonous.

Third, something is extremely wrong with the Bible-believing Protestant outlook in the United States when Voddie Bauchman becomes an expert to anyone about anything (then again, he didn’t invent the idea of spanking little kids constantly for each minor infraction).

While Ed Stetzer and others try to revitalize churches in the U.S. through studious engagement with missiology and evangelism, they remain silent about the plethora, the hoards, the multitudes galvanized by dangerous kooks. It takes a certain amount of brainwashing, “groupthink,” or “social proof” for the galvanized multitudes to exist, but meanwhile, outsiders look at the child-rearing beliefs propagated by the dangerous kooks and intuitively know those beliefs are horribly misguided.

Let me be crystal clear: I’m not equating Stetzer and Bauchman.

But I’m not sure how Stetzer and his well-intentioned followers will distance themselves from people like Bauchman. Apparently, on the surface level, in the sense of daily language, the former believes nearly the same theology and doctrine as the latter.

I doubt there will be much success for Stetzer and his cohorts when “Christian” means everything from child abuse to self-help tips, and when the Bible can say anything, when any slender biblical phrase becomes an adequate foundation for a crazy interpretation — which sounds like a caricature of Freudian literary interpretation! Bauchman, Freudian literary critic — who knew? (Be sure to read the accompanying post below.)

The message of Christianity cannot be “spank your kids a lot, for every infraction.”


Also, consider: Maybe Stetzer would have more help today if Christian adults hadn’t years ago wrecked their children by following egotistical, over-confident men with Bibles and a smug sophomore’s ability to assemble proof from a text.


No — but don’t stop believin’.


Homeschoolers Anonymous

Crosspost: Voddie Baucham, Shy Kids, and Spanking 5 Times Before Breakfast

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on June 17, 2013.

One of the traps that we got ourselves caught in was looking to religious leaders for guidance on how to raise our children. It’s ok to seek guidance, but we didn’t always check what we learned with scripture. We read a lot of books and went to parenting seminars/classes over the years:  Train Up A ChildShepherding a Child’s HeartTitus2.com, Ezzo’s Growing Kids God’s Way, etc.

We weren’t the only ones. Some of these books/classes were trendy and many churches across the states would jump on the bandwagon. During the mid 1990s, I spent time visiting homeschool forums online and I’d hear of new parenting books/programs popping up…

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Considering Tiger Woods’ Buddhism

The Times of London posted an interesting article about Tiger Woods at TimesOnline, which included a good quote about the golfer’s religious life:

Woods does not talk much about the fact that he meditates, something he learnt from Kultida, his mother, who is a Buddhist. “In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life,” he said. “It is all about what you do, and you get out of life what you put into it. So you are going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life. That is one of the things that people see in what I do on the course.”

Two things are important to me in this quote. First, it expresses the value of meditation in training one’s mind to focus: “you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life.” Second, it expresses a view of salvation and afterlife: “[to] set up the next life.”

I have to admit on the second part, I like the Reformed Christian idea that says you cannot work hard enough to set up the next life, therefore accept grace through faith!

On the first part, however, I wonder if some people will confuse the views of salvation and the afterlife with the discipline of meditation. Or, if some will dislike Woods’ views of salvation and the afterlife so much, they’ll dismiss the discipline of meditation. That would be a bad idea. Some research suggests that meditation strengthens the brain.

An article in the June 2007 edition of Men’s Journal addressed meditation techniques in which a person would relax and focus on a repeated phrase. “When Harvard researcher Sara Lazar recently compared the brains of American meditators to a control group, she found that parts of the cortex responsible for attention were on average 5 percent thicker,” according to the article.

And that’s just a piece of the research that’s available on things related to the mind, the brain, focus, attention, and mental discipline. (The emerging field of neurofeedback directly relates to some of these issues; in some cases, neurofeedback helps participants create a meditative focus.)

“Parents and teachers tell kids 100 times a day to pay attention, said Philippe R. Goldin, a Stanford University researcher, last year in New York Times article about “mindfulness training” in schools. “But we never teach them how.”

Certainly non-Buddhists will want to proceed with caution, but there is some evidence that certain types of meditation and focused attention will be beneficial in ways that have nothing to do with views of salvation and the afterlife.

Meanwhile, I really like the following segment from this post by Pastor Jimmy Fuller of Harbour Lake Baptist Church in Goose Creek, S.C. (complimenting a Baptist — might be a first for this blog!):

Speaking of golf, I watched Tiger woods lose his first golf tournament of this season last weekend. I must say that I was disappointed that he didn’t win. Though Tiger and I would disagree theologically, he, a Buddhist and I, a Christian, I have to say that I admire many things about him. First of all I salute him on the basis of his character. He is a great role model for kids and adults alike when it comes to character. And his character came from a great relationship with his mother and father as he was growing up, particularly his father Earl Woods. Tiger said about his dad, “My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That’s why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. … it works, it works.” Someone asked tiger about being a role model and he commented, “I think it’s an honor to be a role model to one person or maybe more than that. If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person’s life in a positive light, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what it’s all about.” And when it comes right down to it, all of us are role models to someone—our children, our family, or friends, our neighbors. We should never treat that as though it were a small matter. We influence them either positively or negatively, but influence them we will. And our influence on others will have a definite impact on the lives of those know and love. Remember, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)I also admire Tiger for his work ethic. He didn’t get to be the number one ranked golfer in the world by being lazy and irresponsible. He worked at it. He spent (and still spends) long, disciplined hours on the practice range honing the skill and talent that God has given him. And why?—Simply to be the best. Tiger was quoted as saying, “That’s why I’ve busted my butt on the range for hours on end and made changes to get to this point where I’m able to compete at the highest level in major championships. That’s where you want to be.” There is no doubt that Tiger desires to be the best. We too should desire to be the best at what ever we do. It honors God, it honors our family, and it honors us individually. I am teaching my grandchildren to say and believe someone is going to be the best—it may as well be me!

I really liked that last line: “someone is going to be the best — it may as well be me!”

-Colin Foote Burch

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‘Church discipline’ has potential of hiding authoritarian, even cultic leadership

The Wall Street Journal recently published a story about “shunning,” in which a pastor or congregation pushes out a church member for sinning.

The problem is that some of the sins involve moral errors as simple as questioning a pastoral decision. Here’s a portion of the WSJ article:

On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. “And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P.”

Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff’s officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs.

The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey’s real offense, in her pastor’s view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he’d charged her with spreading “a spirit of cancer and discord” and expelled her from the congregation. “I’ve been shunned,” she says.

Her story reflects a growing movement among some conservative Protestant pastors to bring back church discipline, an ancient practice in which suspected sinners are privately confronted and then publicly castigated and excommunicated if they refuse to repent. While many Christians find such practices outdated, pastors in large and small churches across the country are expelling members for offenses ranging from adultery and theft to gossiping, skipping service and criticizing church leaders. . . .

 A devout Christian and grandmother of three, Mrs. Caskey moves with a halting gait, due to two artificial knees and a double hip replacement. Friends and family describe her as a generous woman who helped pay the electricity bill for Allen Baptist, in Allen, Mich., when funds were low, gave the church $1,200 after she sold her van, and even cut the church’s lawn on occasion. She has requested an engraved image of the church on her tombstone.Her expulsion came as a shock to some church members when, in August 2006, the pastor sent a letter to the congregation stating Mrs. Caskey and an older married couple, Patsy and Emmit Church, had been removed for taking “action against the church and your preacher.” ….The conflict had been brewing for months. Shortly after the church hired Mr. Burrick in 2005 to help revive the congregation, which had dwindled to 12 members, Mrs. Caskey asked him to appoint a board of deacons to help govern the church, a tradition outlined in the church’s charter. Mr. Burrick said the congregation was too small to warrant deacons. Mrs. Caskey pressed the issue at the church’s quarterly business meetings and began complaining that Mr. Burrick was not following the church’s bylaws. “She’s one of the nicest, kindest people I know,” says friend and neighbor Robert Johnston, 69, a retired cabinet maker. “But she won’t be pushed around.”In April 2006, Mrs. Caskey received a stern letter from Mr. Burrick. “This church will not tolerate this spirit of cancer and discord that you would like to spread,” it said. Mrs. Caskey, along with Mr. and Mrs. Church, continued to insist that the pastor follow the church’s constitution. In August, she received a letter from Mr. Burrick that said her failure to repent had led to her removal.

The article goes on to point out that Allen Baptist is an independent church, so Mrs. Caskey cannot appeal her case to a church hierarchy.