For two years I have prayed that the movement I departed from would have their eyes opened to the freedom we have in Christ and begin to really love the least, the last, and the lost. Last week when 20/20 aired their segment on the abuses that have happened in the IFB movement, the responses from many in the IFB has confirmed yet again, that I will never go back.
They had an opportunity to rise up and offer words of healing to victims of abuse, and yet they chose to defend their name instead. They could have openly rebuked those arrogant abusive ‘pastors’ and they could be teaching the people how to vote them out. They could be reiterating the fact that they cooperate with the law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of sex offenders from their groups.
They did not.
There are some matters that can be handled ‘in-house’ such as stealing food from the food locker, when a staff member’s child gets in a battle on the playground with another child, or even when a deacon has trouble with drinking. But when men in the church molest and rape young girls, it’s time to go outside the church for help. When the pastor tries to convince parents not to call the police, not push for a trial, and keep the child silent, it’s time to go to the local law enforcement for help.
Many independent churches don’t have accountability above the pastor. Many churches have submitted for so long that any amount of questioning about how the pastors are dealing with these matters is met with control, hostility, and banishment from their churches.
This is not a biblical church.
The elders, bishops, and deacons in the churches in the bible do not lord over the people.
Jesus said “It shall NOT BE SO AMONG YOU.”
We are all equal.
Yes, even the women.
Just prior to the 20/20 episode there was a blog post by a prominent youth pastor among the IFB who shared a letter he got from a female student from an IFB college. There were many comments on the article. Some were quite harsh, most were outpouring of love and understanding, and several who stood in agreement with the girl. There were some comments that flat out said that the legalism in their movement is a major hindrance in the lives of the people. But my comment was deleted.
Here are some of the other comments he allowed to remain on his blog:
Posted February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
The young lady in the letter is sincerely asking Bro. Schmidt to help youth workers and parents, but what she may not realize is that, over the years, dozens of kids in his own youth group have turned their backs on God and have pointed their fingers at him saying the same thing, “Our parents and youth workers were not there for us.” Is it Bro. Schmidt’s fault? Did he not have the discernment or wisdom to help them with their struggles?
Maybe the heart issue that needs to be addressed is this propensity of young people to carry bitterness and point fingers. Young people watch dirty sitcoms because they enjoy them. They idolize pop culture heroes because they want to be like them. They listen to wild music because it feels good, and then they say, “If our parents and youth workers had done a better job, we would not be dealing with these issues.” Maybe as youth workers and parents we need to teach our young people to take responsibility for the bitterness and lack of forgiveness in their hearts. Maybe these are the vile, dirty sins of the heart that we are allowing to slip by unnoticed.
God is interested in the condition of our hearts, but every man is responsible for his own heart. I do not see in the Bible where teens and young adults are exempt from this responsibility.
Posted February 23, 2011 at 4:32 am
I believe this letter goes very much to the heart of the problem in our fundamental movement. I would add, though, that although we parents have used this supposed “pursuit of excellence” from an external perspective as we raised our children and often had to face serious negative results, if the policy of our churches do not change the emphasis likewise I see 2 things that will be perpetuated: the children will remain in a conflict situation where they hear a church leadership rhetoric emphasizing what the Lord did not; and the PARENTS will continue to be ‘raised’ to promote the externals and not the internal relationship with the Lord Jesus.
Posted February 23, 2011 at 6:59 am
I agree that “Rules without Relationship breeds rebellion”. It is sad when parents miss the mark and think that their rules and consequences of breaking those rules are the end all. You have to have rules, but you have to have the right Relationship (with Christ)! Parents, we’re not being all we can if we don’t get this point!
But I’d like to say that too many teenagers are looking for excuses and too many people parents and youth workers are catoring to that! Teenagers, do you really think that you’re going to stand before God and blame your parents? If you’ve been taught the Bible, than you know right from wrong, the consequences of disobedience and the blessings of obedience! Great lessons all of us can learn from this!
Posted February 23, 2011 at 8:39 am
I guess by the looks of things I pretty much stand alone here. I think this is a joke! Dad gets the blame for the girls rebellion. I have seen this happen many times in my 35 years of preaching but when it does there is something wrong at home. The home is NOT a “good” fundamental godly christian home. The home is a mess! The family is one way at church and another at home, in other words they are phonies! This kind of stuff sells books but all it really needs is strong preaching. My wife and I raised 8 kids in church. We have two full time preachers and one missionary. The rest are serving the Lord in Ind. Fund. KJV Baptist churches. There are many many many just like our family.
Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:13 am
I wanted to say thank you to the young girl who wrote this to Bro. Schmidt. It must have taken a lot of courage to share that not knowing the response that it would bring. Thank you for allowing God to use you to remind all of us what is important as parents. I’ve been married over 11 years with two young children at home, one with the Lord and one on the way. Every day I try to do what the Bible says I should do as a father, and every day I feel like I fall short. My earnest desire is that no matter who they become or what they do in life, that they will have a heart for God. When I mess up everything else, I always try to share my heart with my kids. I want them to see how much I depend on God and how much I need him in everything that I do. I hope that even though they may not know every Bible story and and may not be able to quote much scripture, that they will have a heart for God. If God has our children’s hearts; He can help with all the areas where we fall short. Thank you again for sharing; it has made a difference in my life and that of others. God bless!
Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm
I definitely understand where this younglady is coming from… My dad is an independent fundamental baptist preacher… And I attended Bible College. But I can remember my parents not having time for us because they were so busy as were we with ministry that I think we all lost sight of God’s first institution- FAMILY. I can actually recall setting up a “pastoral” appointment to tell my dad somthing… I was having trouble and needed his guidance and I set up an appointment. When he asked why I did that I replied that it was the only way I knew he would definitely talk to me… If it was on the church books. Needless to say none of my parents 6 children attend church regularly. I know of 4 at least that have very lil if anything to do with God. My brother said that my parents “religion” left a bad taste in his mouth. I guess I wish someone would have emphasized that christian teens have struggles and that sending a kid to camp is not a cure all for lacking parental guidance and love. I am not bitter I would like my testimony to inspire other parents out there to take the extra time…. My dad helped other families with their relationships while all of them in our family fell apart.
And here was my response, that was deleted:
“Dear Brother Schmidt,
I echo the writers words loud and clear. I am UTTERLY thankful that you have HEARD her soul in this and have shared this publicly.
I was in the IFB movement for almost 15 years and the rigid rules almost destroyed my family. We did everything the preacher said we should do to turn out good kids. He promised that his teachings would work every time. But time and time again we saw kids from good homes fly straight into the face of drugs, alcohol, jail, and various other torments. But it’s not just the rigid rules, it’s the hypocrisy of the leaders. (not all of them) but a good number of them who insist their way is the only right way. And when those leaders put their own families on the pedestal, and even their own daughters are highlighted as THE example and the other teens KNOW BETTER.
They see those kids with the pastors and deacons aren’t looking. So I wanted to share with you that it’s not just the rules. It’s the lies. The sweeping under the rug. The constant suspicions of “sin” in others. It’s all these things that take place in many churches, not just those of the IFB movement. It would really really help if pastors would say very clearly, they do NOT have all the answers, that’s why we walk by FAITH. I can’t tell you how many nights we spent crying, sobbing, with our teen daughters when we left the IFB churches. Our family was so crushed by everything, it piles up year after year. The weight of the Law crushes people. We can’t live up to the Law and we aren’t supposed to. Not the OT Law and certainly not the church’s made up laws. We need GRACE. Good old fashioned
RADICAL lavishing GRACE. We need to know that we will all fall at some time or another and that doing all these church activities and scripture memorization is NOT our foundation, our foundation and only Savior is Christ. Preaching at people about sin doesn’t free them from it. Christ does that. Preach grace, please preach grace. Guidelines and boundaries in life is great, it’s part of discipleship..but lets make sure not to allow those guidelines and rules deceive us into thinking we won’t fall.
And lets not be so blind to think that life is all roses and lolly pops. Building our lives around the church isn’t what gets us through life, it’s building our lives on the foundation that does that. Because as hard as we try to build our homes on the rock, the storm still comes and it’s the foundation that stands the firmest. All our brick and mortar, wood, hay and stubble crashes hard. Just like we see in Japan..the foundations of the homes are still there, but the homes aren’t. We are One with our Foundation, One with Christ our Lord. And one last thought..the ones who just may have it the hardest, are your Pastor’s Wives and daughters.”
My plea for help was deleted. He did not email me. I was hidden and swept under the rug. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. I had tried reaching out to other IFB pastors for help before. This is the third time I got this kind of brush off.
When Jack Schaap first aired his public opinion from his pulpit on the episode of 20/20 he made sure everyone knew how he felt…he stated that his words were ‘the word of God’ and defended his opinions as ‘standing where God stands’. He was quite sure of himself that what 20/20 showed about him was something to be proud of. But a couple days later the video clips of him stating these things were removed from YouTube as a complaint of a ‘copyright violation’. A copyright violation? For a 2 minute video clip of something he said from a pulpit with a 501c3 PUBLIC ministry? Why delete the video if it’s something he’s so proud of? Then a new series of videos were posted on YouTube with the very misleading title “Jack Schaap’s response to 20/20″ which is a 5 part series on “how great Jack’s ministry is”
Deleting and covering up.
Isn’t this exactly what 20/20 revealed was happening in the IFB movement?
Their responses prove that what 20/20 revealed is true.
“Be sure, your sin will find you out”
A real minister, when shown to be wrong, unkind, lacking compassion, would openly admit it, in humility and love, and seek public forgiveness.
A real minister of the Gospel of peace would offer condolences to the victims and their families.
You see, when tragedy strikes and children are abused, the answer isn’t the church. The answer isn’t the church program of getting donned in a suit and tie, or getting a floor length dress and nylons. The answer is not found in arrogantly shouting about how your low opinion of women is somehow God’s opinion of women. The answer is not found in degrading women with weight issues and making fun of their weaknesses.
The answer is Christ. The response of Christ’s people is love and humility.
Usually the reason someone deletes messages, videos, and comments is due to pride. It’s easier for them to delete, than it is to apologize and admit they are wrong. They think that by hiding what they did and trying to move on as if it never happened will work.
But the victims know better.
It’s easier for them to not address your pain, than it is to examine what the problem is and offer compassion.
It’s easier for them to delete videos, hide their own sin, and keep pointing out everyone else’s sins, than it is for them to humble themselves so Christ can lift them up.
Standing higher on their platforms and shouting louder about how they think their opinions are right is not the way of Christ.
Christ is humble. He came to serve, to love, to embrace the oppressed abused and worn. He came to wash feet. He came to lower himself to the lowest possible place.
I think it’s obvious what a real leader is.
Be wise before you submit yourself to abusive, arrogant, lofty, bull horn shouting bullies.
Find a place of grace where being transparent is welcomed and where the wounded are lifted up and the leaders are humbling themselves to ‘wash your feet’ and tend to your wounds.
I had hoped that someone with a high profile among the IFB, like Jack Schaap, might take this as an opportunity to address the many abuses happening in the IFB and BE A LEADER and stand up WITH these victims and proclaim that all IFB preachers (at least the ones who came from his college) would humble themselves and address this growing epidemic and make the necessary changes to be sure matters like these are dealt with swiftly by local law enforcement.
I have yet to see this happen. And I am free to never step foot in an IFB church ever again.
My salvation has nothing to do with which church I go to. It has everything to do with Christ my Lord. The Savior of all.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.