There are plenty of blogs out there where you can find an array of angry articles and hostile comment sections due to the recent devastation involving Jack Schaap and the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church movement. Plenty of folks are coming out of the woodwork, telling their stories on Facebook and on their own blogs. Most of the stories I have seen focus on First Baptist Church of Hammond specifically, but let’s not forget that there are many IFB churches where these same things are happening. There are wounded people all over the world, because of the abusive system that has been taught in IFB colleges for years!
How does something like this happen in so many churches in the same movement? Do not think you are alone in this kind of chaos, many church denominations suffer from abuse. There is a lot to take into consideration in diagnosing the root of the problem, but you can start with investigating the type of church governance that Hyles taught for so many years, of which Jack Schaap carried the torch for. I have Jack Hyle’s book, ‘Hyles Church Manual’ and I have to say that this book is full of reasons why this toxicity has continued for so long. The pattern of church governance throughout this book is accompanied by narcissistic mind control techniques. In my opinion, Jack Hyles suffered from mental illness yet was intelligent enough to create a religious saga that closely resembles a high profile soap opera.
Many will cry out, “Don’t use a broad brush to paint all IFB churches as cults“, but if they learned their form of ‘church’ from the Jack Hyles’ inheritance of theology and church governance, then it is highly likely that abuse will happen in their churches and they will use the same methods Jack Hyles used when abuse happened in his church. If you speak to as many former IFB members as I have you will see that hundreds of IFB pastors have dealt with abuse in the exact same way. If there are any IFB churches that sincerely haven’t had ANY abuse happen and they’ve been around for a long time, then kudos to the pastors who found a different way to run a church.
People can disagree with doctrine, but when it comes to a system that has a faulty infrastructure to begin with, then they are destined to topple at some point. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will close their doors, but it does mean that leaders will fall and victimize someone (or many). The only way an IFB church will ever close it’s doors is if the people stop going and the community around them is made aware of how toxic it is. I’m not so sure this is likely to happen, as cults have been around for ages and are still operating today.
In the following image we see the mentality that Hyles had about hiring staff members:
“One hundred percent UNQUESTIONED loyalty… NEVER a reflection or a doubt….just a little criticism and he would have been ERASED from consideration.“
In this image we see how he felt about staff salaries (er um, or rather how he felt about his own needs):
“If the pastor is more concerned with the staff member’s salaries than his own, they will be more concerned about HIS NEEDS than their own.”
Also, notice just above where he advises that you make it sound like his staff is highly qualified. In the page before this he instructed that all his secretaries were to be paid LESS than a business secretary. In my world we pay secretaries based on their level of intelligence, hard work, and experience. We do NOT pay them based on how high a level we can put them on a pedestal in the eyes of the people.
This book is so eerie as it is the same cookie cutter approach many IFB pastors still use today. This book is full of manipulation and SCARCELY a bible verse to back any of it up. The section on how to select deacons is laughable as it is exactly how deacons are chosen in many churches today. If even ONE deacon on the board does not vote a man in, then they are NOT considered. The deacon board is chosen before it ever goes to the church and the church thinks their vote actually counts, but it doesn’t. The pastor in Hyles’ approach has a system of how to find out if a member is loyal enough to join based on the doubt his current deacons have about those nominated. Remember he said, “Unquestionable loyalty, not a hint of critcism or doubt”.
Sadly, it sounds like Hyles could have gotten his method of running a church from a communist. Afterall, he did serve in World War II and maybe he experienced some PTSD or other kind of trauma that spawned this legacy of church abuse. Who knows? Many former IFB members testify that their churches felt communistic. Have you seen “Boy in the Striped Pajamas“? You may need to get it from Netflix and see it right away.
This book is riddled with scenarios that made me gasp from one page to the next and reminded me that not only do many IFB churches create clones, but the pastors themselves are clones of what is described in this book.
If a church is built on this unstable infrastructure then you will have many wide open doors for wolves to sneak in unaware. There are healthier ways of organizing a church, but do NOT use this Hyles method! The unquestioned loyalty methodology gives far too much room for the flesh to kick in and begin controlling every aspect of a congregation and very little, if not NO, accountability to protect yourselves. The traditional church governance and teaching methods of the IFB, as passed down from Jack Hyles, is toxic to the core. Any church leader or bible college that trains up new leaders to run a church like this man did is doing an incredible disservice to the Body of Christ.
Christ has made us FREE from the religious bondage that many are being suckered into. Even Hyles knew this when he dissociated from the Southern Baptist Convention. You too, are free to dissociate from toxic church environments and choose a congregation where you can heal and grow in faith without being placed into bondage.
Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”