Facebook is funny. I’m up super late because I like being up super late, and I was looking on the facebook and who should pop up in the “People You May Know” but the youth pastor from my home church in Phoenix. We apparently have a few mutual friends. I wrote about the fact that he was (not surprisingly) found to have been in a 20-year extramarital relationship, but am frankly to lazy to find it and link to it. Following that revelation, I went to various websites and found countless stories from men & women whose marriages he had destroyed by preying on wives by using the power of his office for “counseling sessions.”
Not being one to hold back how I feel (sometimes having a touch of the prophetic can be handy), I wrote him the following message on facebook. It came rather easily to me and it may seem harsh but I stand by every word of it. I believe him to be a predatory monster, and while I believe it’s possible for God to work in the lives of these people, I don’t believe this person has allowed God to work in him. I believe he uses the office of pastor to gain power & control over people & situations and he is very dangerous. If anyone reading this is in the Birmingham area, I pray that you avoid him at all costs, and that you not let him into your church.
So, this is what I wrote. Too much?
“I saw you on here and felt compelled to write something. I’ve read story after story of your predatory behavior in ministry contexts and it makes me physically ill that you are starting over, this time capitalizing on your public demise by cloaking your new venture in the language of “grace”, “scars” and “hope”.
I wish I believed you but I don’t. I see people (mostly guys, by the way – huh – interesting) say how much of a positive influence you’ve had on their lives and ministries and that, sir, is the definition of grace: someone who preys on the vulnerable by abusing the office & privilege of ministry can still have a positive influence. God does that, not you – make no mistake.
You have waited an “appropriate” amount of time as attention has died down, and are now beginning the cycle again. You are creating another cult of personality where you can hide in plain sight with zero accountability – which, after all, is what the megachurch is when you boil it down to its core structure.
I have been to seminary and I have been in ministry for 20 years – in spite of people like you, not because – and I see the type of person attracted to the pastorate. You learned well from Richard Jackson. You have taken his level of narcissism and mixed in your own brand of manipulation and created a new breed of sociopath: Used Car Salesman (charm & persuasion) meets Sexual Predator (self explanatory) meets Jimmy Swagart (feigned contrition).
You have the word Grace EVERYWHERE in your church stuff, along with a novella explanation of your ridiculous logo and you meet in Harley shops. I am not buying it. It screams gimmick. You will be revealed to be a fraud in this new situation as well, which I can only assume is your greatest fear. You can only restart this machine so many times.
I spend a lot of my ministerial energy helping people recover from “pastors” like you. Basically, just telling someone I’m a pastor means I have to overcome a mountain of shit shoveled onto me by people like you who do the things you do for your own gratification without regard to consequences on any level.
You are a dynamic speaker. Fine. Go be a motivational speaker or something. Just get out of the church. At least stop trying to lead them. The trouble is, you have no idea who you are unless you’re on a platform with a Janet Jackson microphone on your head, a crowd of people hanging on your every word.
Unfortunately, I realize this message will have little to no impact and it’s really more for me than it is for you. You will most likely use this in some sort of tearful sermon illustration, emphasizing how sad it is that I’m so angry and that I haven’t forgiven. Frankly, I don’t care what you do, but I am thinking about all the people whose lives are in tatters because of you and how many more people you will take down in your new venture. I’m asking you to stop. Unless, of course, you actually mean it, and you’re all healed now.
I wish I could believe you, but I don’t.”