Take a breath for the following… a little long winded as usual.
Well it’s only appropriate to congratulate Crossway Community Church Langley Surrey along with its now defunct surrogate Redemption Hill Church and all their directors & leaders at the time (already aforementioned) and “legal counsel” at that time on its wooden anniversary of the unsanctioned much unanticipated “spirit led”, at the time, and ill fated Redemption Hill church plant “missional outreach program”- a typical hipster church descriptive action point mouthful.
Unfortunately it was somewhat of a murky endeavour all around to say the least, even involving the in house Russian church support and it’s associated finances which were curiously and inexplicably cut off somewhere around that same time and that without remedy or explanation when asked directly. Leaving unanswered questions as to where those funds were diverted cloaked behind nondisclosure agreements.
Finances for both Crossway Church the church planter, and Redemption Hill the “church plant”, was left in a fiscal cloud of clever ambiguity and a shrouded cover up of at least 3 pre-“church plant” years of fiscal spending each in the range of $500K (chump change compared to the many church “non-profit” businesses out there they wish they had, yet yours and my chump change none the less) that still remains unanswered to the almost several hundred silent departed stakeholders to this date who chose rather to quietly vote with their feet. But hey, this is the highly unregulated, self regulated, internally “reviewed” reformed / evangelical church we’re talking about. God’s cool with all that, He must be, after all He sovereignly allowed it…..so we tell ourselves as well taught students of the unadulterated “Word of god” – small g. It’s all water under the bridge and forgiven covered by His thickly slathered and scholarly applied grace, right?…. Right! … Until it happens to the next unsuspecting ill-informed crowd- along with the associated abuses and intimidations that accompany angry men being questioned with matters they would rather have remain covered while retaining salaries- as it often does in christendom at which point may then include you and your family being indistinguishably entangled….
Either way “Praise god” that the gospel is being preached to the ends of the white upper to middle class earth where each of these men and many like them continue to shift to often still ending up, like weeble wobbles, with a dedicated Ponzi’d style following in the same “church leadership” industry. Hanging up new signs, establishing new strategic “missional” mergers and thus fulfilling the internally (to themselves) celebrated, heroic mission statement of “Making Disciples”.
As I’ve said before congratulations and a Happy Final Wooden Anniversary remembrance to all participants and you couldn’t have picked a better more prophetic day than April 1st to kick off such an event and church plant reboot (aka “Crossway Church ver. 2.0” and Redemption Hill Church – “the place with only plain burgers to start”, yes that’s a real thing) to have as a fitting legacy and memorial to your names and years of “gospel centered commitment” and an “exemplary servant leadership” model.
You were fortunate under the umbrella of the much extolled and hammered programming of “the sovereignty of god” (although we all know He had nothing to do with it) to have managed to pull that one off, amidst many stunts over the years, in the hurried confusion and fog of war and observed cult like espionage as many in christendom do when the sense of entitlement to “gods resources” are at personal jeopardy and with impunity.
An often (not always but definitely often) bizarre society and culture of religious people- agreeably of which I once was- that are content to exist and function within the self exalted “servant leadership” “trust us” model nearly exclusively and with almost zero checks and balances and no independent 3rd party journalistic type oversight poking or investigating into the business practices of this unregulated or more accurately and disturbingly self regulated “non-profit”, guerrilla warfare style of church leadership industry with its many cult like evangelical siege factions and Big Eva “coalitions”. Often (not always but definitely often) led by propped up preachers and pastors who are brilliantly happy to preach to their people the idolatry, vanity and even sinfulness of owning too much “in storage lockers” and yes – lest I forget – “If you invest more in your future in things like RSP’s, your property, your stuff, equity in your home which is your property, more than what you tithe in a year to your local church? You might have a problem with covetousness…” (once again that’s a real thing, and who is or what represents the kingdom of god or the tithe here on earth? Yup you guessed it…”the church” and its professional “cadre” of teachers of the law, right David? ) If that’s not enough you need to also watch for the sinfulness of paying attention to current events, news and have an abhorrence of the “gossip filled” “sinful evils” of the internet. Almost sounds like well known Orwellian type cults doesn’t it? Yet it isn’t, it’s a description and condition of many of todays so called gospel centred, evangelical or reformed mainstream churches from Louisville Kentucky, to Westminster Colorado to Vancouver and Langley BC and many places in between. A perfect storm and incubator for an effective inculcation of the mind from being able to think beyond the collective or question strange or concerning events thereby securing a committed “covenant member/ partner” audience and paying community. In essence if one isn’t careful to dawn your own tinfoil hat when “submitting” to much of this well crafted codependent indoctrination, this will continue to be the “new branding” (old bag of tricks) proliferation of the gospel in many corners of North America. Just add water and reap the harvest of resources almost saying whatever you please, reigning from a 2 foot elevated stage and a stratospherically dangerously elevated mind. (Oh yes, be prepared to be informed that I am the one full of pride and dangerously elevating myself, that’s normal and expected practice)
Though you may look good having divested yourself of the SGM Sovereign Grace Ministries / Churches cult at the time and just in time to strategically save yourselves and career futures from the impending damaging blow back for all associated to them in the faith leading industry, it’s clear as with CJ Mahaney and many of his cohorts continuing with business as usual, you all can thank the strange god fashioned after a figment of your own hermeneutic interpretive imaginations that “the church” leadership industry doesn’t have actual real world professionals like Kathy Tomlinson, Janet Brown or, God forbid, a reality check from “everyone’s nightmare” the often controversial and exceptional say it like it is Bruce Allen looking into and probing the behind the scene “sins” (much like many of you did into people’s lives even intruding into families and still do by the sounds of it), practices, threats, aggressive tactics, and love bombing bait and switch nonsense that so often presents outwardly according to your own internal assessment as Pollyanna-ish “neighbourhood relational evangelism” and “faithfully following Christ and loving Jesus”.
In the real world many in this, dare I say to where it may apply, God forsaken church business environments would have been run out of town- as some of you have or been forced to change careers – as some of you have. So maybe He is at work upending the tables of the “money changers” in some who either recognize their folly or simply move to a new location looking for the next Ponzi’d mid to upper middle class church audience (or career) opportunity of those who will “give generously”. Effectively He is at work giving you your hearts desire as my title implies evidenced by the impenitent trail of wood, hay and stubble left behind and the familiar speak that is still so easily recognizable much like the tell tale trail of an invasive garden slug. Granted as some were running around town at one point as a former band titled “Penitent Thieves” though humorously poetic in its “demonstration” of humility, forethought and a “theologically sound” title, it isn’t quite the same as actually doing it.
It’s for these unapologetic, impenitent, “no fault” reasons that continue to take place within these strange walls of missing or misplaced reason and twisted logic that you continue to hemorrhage people looking for the real Christ often absent where the strategic plea for mammon cleverly weaved or smuggled into “sermons” and the hypocritical control over how people ought to think “Biblically” begins to take centre stage. Many now outside those and similar walls love Jesus just as much as you like to declare you do for all to hear, however we don’t need megaphones or mics or stages or an audience along with all that baggage that is being generated within what often is only a struggling sausage factory old boys club adorned with well crafted imaginary trinkets and images of “deep thoughts ‘of first importance’ about god” swiped off the backs of your shrines of prideful mental assent to “the dead guys” and your living “quotable” contemporary idols of validation which are then carefully and strategically aligned to pummel as with nail and hammer into the minds of the faithful which then gets neatly packaged and captured for social media rhetoric & “doctrinally sound” alluring propaganda. Many of “the dead guys” of which are likely rolling in their graves at the ways in which their writings are used, abused and misconstrued, some of which I’m sure we’re equally much like today’s church “leaders” in their time, spinning interpretations as a desperate means to manage people by ensnaring the mind.
Many are discovering that it’s often safer for all especially for children and young families often most vulnerable, and the gospel has more real plausibility of being received…. out here in the real world of faithful followers where Christ resides amongst your so called “sinners”. Away from the holy huddled ninety nine of so many congregations who are convinced of themselves amongst themselves and by themselves of how saintly, healthy and “gospel/ cross centered” they are. “Sinner” being the operative labels given and freely used, traded and endorsed within “the huddled gathering” yet a label rarely considered to be functionally applicable to their own conduct beyond the often lauded pulpit demonstrations of humble commiseration of failings bearing no circumstantial consequences.
Don’t misunderstand, much is forgiven around all this, but as in the real world and as within the pages of the Bible, the wake of damage still ongoing- a fire fuelled by a trail of wood, hay and stubble- on such a key anniversary should not be forgotten or buried just as you rarely let your people forget “the sinfulness of sin coupled with how bad we really are (btw feel free to use me as your example of this in your private discussions or sermon address to effectively discourage similar behaviour, I remember how we use to hear about the personal private even sexual “sins” of others or of those who “left the church” used as a perverse means of fostering “special” inner trust and loyalty, a definite red flag confirmed by the experiences of others as well) so that the gospel is that much more glorious” rarely extending the grace to your hearers you freely and privately behind the scenes grant yourselves. Especially when the courage to take responsibility as we all have to, will forever remain outstanding for these types of preachers, pastors and their scribe minions or ministry leaders (the S.S. D.E. company men types and TACL women who stand in as “validators” giving credence to this dystopia then presented to all as “the wise elders” who can’t imagine life outside the establishment otherwise all their years of “elder brother” “dedicated commitment” may have been embarrassingly for nothing but wood, hay and stubble) and they simply move onto their next “hearing god’s leading” venture, gig, ministry, mission outreach, worship conference, conference vacation, mission trip works appeasement, upper middle class “church plant”, leadership opportunities, discipleship “training”, mergers, takeovers, splits or whatever one may want to attribute to a god fashioned after the figment of ones own “hermeneutic” interpretive imagination. All while simultaneously dawning transparent blindfolds, seeing, distinguishing and acknowledging compliant members in “the collective” yet perceiving nothing else.
As I’ve stated before some of these stories, open addresses and accounts of events are just the tip of the iceberg in these mainstream reformed and or evangelical church environments. It would be impossible for me to put down all the ways in which the leaders I once “submitted to” and associated with along with many like them in similar churches affected so many trusting and innocent lives and I would add changing some of them to the point of stealing faith right from their hearts and souls all the while threatening humiliation and questioning associations of “concern”. A version of responsibility you will never hear from men like this other than the shameful rhetoric that such individuals either hadn’t received the “effectual call of god” or weren’t truly in the faith to begin with, never for a moment, when asked, considering that it could have been YOU bringing people to their end. BTW the use of the word innocent earlier is a deliberate effort because that is a word they rarely teach on and almost disassociate themselves from believing of anyone even in general terms thus programming and maintaining the weight of “our guilt” bore at “the cross” thus securing the need for their interpreted compulsion week after week of what a forgiven sinners life ought to resemble within the collective which often lines up with what will further the agenda and good name of the church securing future resources. To get all such stories out would involve writing a book of my experiences as some have suggested and getting the permission from the many people I’ve spoken to over recent years to add their stories without names, a task I have no ability in nor time beyond blog accounts and open addresses.
The long and short of all this is if any of this story or narrative is part of your own experience and journey in church life, any denominational church life with any kind of church leadership or pastor… it may be time to seriously consider extricating you and your family for their own well being especially if children are being raised in this type of environment of subtle covert spiritual abuse, cleverly disguised subversive control and abuses of authority without any real oversight. You are not alone in wondering why 2 + 2 = 5, especially where the name of Jesus is being used.
As difficult as it may seem or will be for a time to actually walk away from these communities that apart from the leaders were very meaningful, the truth of the matter is that the community itself is influenced by these propped up “godly” leaders in the way they “oversee” and “govern” and if some event is taking place in ones life that may bring about a significant personal weighted decision, group leaders within the community often feel obliged “out of love and concern”(I use to be such an individual through carefully worded instruction and teaching) to involve these pastors and leaders who in the end may have a particular financial bia$ and or a desire to give elevated oracle like “biblical counsel” in the decision you’re making for your family rather than trusting the god they say they believe to lead people independently whether their church is in that future or not or whether future resources are at jeopardy or not. Yet the result of making the difficult decision to leave these environments either for one that is healthy or leave all together to weave your own community, is freely being able to walk, talk and think outside these religiously addictive, toxic echo chambers (where the air is thin and rhetoric fills the void) to once again discover your relationship with Christ and the people He brings into your life including even once distant family. People that respect boundaries without using hive mind indoctrinations to “speak into your life” or give empty defences such as “I’ve examined my heart and seen nothing wrong on my part”. Recipes for future mental health challenges and another red flag.
Many of these evangelical and or reformed establishment leaders when I was involved had condescending views of well studied psychological and mental health therapies that are still held from their latest online sermons that discount such advances in human understanding and discoveries within mental health that effectively leave their faithful followers with no real remedies to life’s real challenges other than to seek internal “biblical counsel” from the experts in Bible truth, pastors and teachers- recent “sermon” on “secular” therapies for addiction ie “a dubious message borne from a therapeutic culture that elevates the doctrine of self esteem to an almost secular salvivic status”. Another recipe for deep seated (but necessary for church survival) dependence upon their spiritual insight to provide “true” godly “biblical” counsel to the never ending trials, (frustrated) temptations, and challenges in life thus upholding the illusion of such pastors and teachers being in great demand rather than a people growing and maturing to become independent thinkers with interdependent relationships that are not insular but outwardly empathetic and unafraid as was modelled by Jesus himself. Another typical unquestioned statement “Our faith has too much self reliance and not enough reliance upon Jesus. There is a difference, a world of difference between those two things”. Which then begs the question who then determines on Jesus’ behalf whether ones faith is relying on Him as prescribed or relying on ones self? “The church” and its often compromised teachers of the law? And by what means is such ethereal simpleton ideologies measured that often go far beyond the New Testament measures of the “fruits of the spirit” especially if such “fruit” is not favourable or to your liking? Success? Obedience? Financial “generosity” & consistency? “All in” Commitment? Submissiveness? Unquestioning Support? Loyalty? Leadership/ Discipleship aspirations? Agreement? Endorsement? Compliance? Red flags abound..
And leaving these harmful cloistered environments does not have to result in abandoning ones faith yet sadly often does. After all, unfortunately, these life altering disillusioning events involve people who merely through a series of well orchestrated schemes, “circumstances” and trample opportunities eventually find themselves at the top of the “church leadership” industry heap in clergy positions or coveted and sometimes compelled or coherenced “Care Group” / Ministry leadership roles supposedly representing God. Thus the wake of disillusionment and destructive abusive patterns that often follow is theirs alone to bear & own not the God they claim to represent who rarely if ever puts any of these types of people in those “positions” of “calling”. Nor is there any fact or truth in the fear mongering myth and deception that God will abandon you and your family and any resultant “hardships” in life are a direct result of “walking away from his church, a primary means of god’s grace in your life”. All disingenuous and clever drivel(ous) Hogg-wash aka b******t. Because the hardship of life exist in all of humanity whether believers or not just as rain and sun befalls the just or unjust or as gain can come to the unjust or corrupt (as aforementioned) and great loss can overwhelm the good or upright (yes “good” or “upright” a scandalous posture to the right wing reformed preachers I know) who humbly follow Christ to the point of despairing of life itself. Yet His love sustains all who sincerely call upon Him and who don’t use His fiercely faithful name, love and character as a means of personal gain or social notoriety through what often is a shell game within a charade of an enigmatic “calling” through presumptive appropriation.
(Consider, if you will, the entertainment value and frightening parallel universes portrayed in this most current episode of the sometimes over dramatized series where without question, art imitates life or is it life imitating art. It becomes very evident some degree of research and experience went into the production. Although the mix of New Age philosophies and Christian ideologies in an attempt to portray a range of strange held beliefs may not fully align with reformed / evangelical churches there is no denying their practices and the uncanny key similarities in these toxic environments that many of us are very familiar with is found in some of this script. Thankfully through God’s actual authentic grace and care and the care of others “outside” many are “no longer asleep anymore….” as “rebellious” or “bitter and sinful, unwilling to submit to authority having abandoned the faith”, meaningless authority I might add. At least those were the labels explained to us when people were no longer around in the 15 years I was there and what is still heard of you stating and teaching to your faithful hearers. 😉 )