Sep 182012

Attorney’s claiming to represent Bob and Gayle Grenier and Calvary Chapel Visalia have sent notice of their intent to file a “defamation” lawsuit against several persons connected to the ongoing Calvary Chapel Visalia controversy.

Titled, “Preservation Request to Registrar, Webhosting Provider and Website”, the letter goes on to state:

“Our office represents Bob & Gayle Grenier and Calvary Chapel Visalia. The aforementioned parties intend to file a lawsuit in Tulare County Superior Court against individuals who have made defamatory statements against Bob Grenier and members of the Calvary Chapel Visalia Board of Directors.”

The letter specifically cites the following “individuals that have posted comments on the website as follows”:

1. Alex

2. NotAlone

3. Admin

4. Tina Jenkins

5. Edna Silva

The letter goes on to state, “We anticipate filing a Complaint within the next month and as such anticipate issuing appropriate subpoenas to third parties as well as discovery requests to defendants within 120 days.”

The firm representing Calvary Chapel Visalia is stated to be Williams, Jordan, Brodersen & Pritchett LLP of Visalia, California and the letter is signed by Nick Pritchett.

 Posted by at 1:27 pm
Sep 102012

This article describes what should be the Model, rather than the Moses Model. It looks, smells and feels like Jesus in contrast to what is currently normative in much of Evangelicalism.

I’m rarely surprised in a good way. This is one of those times.

A pastor in Tillamook, Oregon gets it…like no other I’ve seen to date.

Pastor Jeff Crippen, thank you. God is speaking through you with regards to these issues, IMO, and they are important words for the Evangelical Church at large.

Please share this with as many as you can. If this becomes normative for Evangelicalism, Calvary Chapel, you-name-it…what an awesome and righteous thing we’d see…

The following letter is a tool that I have written.  My desire is that it be sent to pastors to help open their eyes to the misuse of power and control in their churches, and to caution them regarding how very easily any of us can become guilty of lording it over our people.

In particular, I want to assist pastors and church leaders to understand that one extremely common scenario which is occurring in our conservative, Bible-believing churches with alarming regularity, concerns how we are mishandling cases of abuse (both domestic and sexual) that are brought to our attention and/or occurring right under our noses within our own congregations.

Readers are freely granted permission to reproduce this letter and use it to good ends.  Please do not alter or change the wording.  We would be very interested in hearing from anyone who uses this as a tool to call the body of Christ to justice and wisdom in dealing with the oppressed.

To the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Pastor Jeff Crippen,
Tillamook, Oregon

Letter to Fellow Pastors

Dear Pastor:

The evil of domestic and sexual abuse is in our midst.  By “our,” I mean our conservative, Bible-believing churches.    Churches just like the one I have pastored for nearly 20 years now.  We are not doing well in confronting the perpetrators nor in effecting justice and kindness for their victims.

None of us learned about this evil in seminary.  As a result, we are largely blind to it.  Lest you think that you surely would see it if it were in your church, and that for the most part your church is free of it, let me assure you that those very thoughts reveal our blindness.  The evil of domestic and sexual abuse either was – is – or is going to be in your church.  And even more frightening is the confirmed fact that when it comes to your congregation, you (like me in the past) will not deal with it rightly, if you even see it at all.  None of us would like to think that we would ever be an ally of evil against an oppressed victim.  Yet this is what will indeed happen in your church and ministry unless you prepare yourself.

Permit me, if you will, to share my story with you in the hope that you can learn from it, and that we might all then bring the glory to Christ which we desire to.

How Our Church Did Things

First, let me share with you some of the lessons the Lord has had to teach me over the years, and which I am still learning.  It took some really hard “knocks” from Him to get my attention.  In seeking to reform this church, myself and our elders wrote a new book of church order (bylaws).  In what we believed to be faithfulness to Scripture, we instituted the following practices:

  1. Women could not vote.  The men, as the head of their families and wives, voted.
  2. Women could not pray aloud in prayer meetings.  Only the men.

Our church was, and still is, virtually entirely home school families.  Men were to be the head of their homes and women were to be in submission to their husbands.  Books such as “Me Obey Him?” and child-raising materials from ultra-conservative organizations circulated among us (the kind that basically say:  homeschooling is God’s will for every Christian family, etc).

We truly desired to do “better” in following Christ than all the other typical local churches around us that were, in our opinion, largely compromised with the world.  No one sat down and mapped this all out.  We embraced these things over time.

The Lord Arrested Our Attention

And then the Lord blew the lid off of our pride.  I won’t give the details, but a terrible incident of sexual abuse of a child occurred among us.  At the same time we found ourselves being recruited by an abusive man as allies against his wife. These are the things that divide churches!

These events propelled me into the study of abuse, domestic and sexual, in an effort to better understand how these things had crept up on us and what we needed to repent of.  I wanted to know if there were signs we could look for that would help us detect abusers and their victims much earlier.  And so I began to read.

Over time, and by no means at my own doing, we came to realize that we had created an environment in our church that was abuser-friendly.  Evil-friendly.  We, as leaders, had encouraged our men to lord it over their wives and families rather than loving them.  We had created an environment that was unbiblically oppressive to women.  Myself and our elders, over some period of time, began to realize this – by the Lord’s mercy in showing us – and we began to make some changes.

Implementing some Positive Changes

Women in the church can now vote.  Women can pray aloud in prayer meetings.  In the course of preaching my sermon series on abuse, I acknowledged to our church (and I have continued to do so) that we had not done enough when teaching and preaching on the subjects of marriage, headship, and submission.

We had failed to clearly describe what headship is not, and what submission is not.  We came to the realization that abuse – a pattern of coercive control employing any one or more of emotional, verbal, sexual, spiritual, physical, financial and social mistreatment of the other spouse – is indeed biblical grounds for divorce and that we would no longer insist that a husband or wife was required by the Lord to remain in a relationship in which the marriage vows had been habitually broken.

We rejected what we consider to be unbiblical and exaggerated patriarchy that is promoted so widely by books and organizations within our conservative Christian circles.  We still cling solidly to the position of the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word and thus are by no means getting on some liberal “band-wagon” to make everyone happy.

We are calling upon other conservative, Bible-believing churches and pastors to do the same things and to stop creating abuser-friendly cultures in our churches.  It is important to become educated and wise in regard to the mentality and tactics of abuse.

My first steps

My first step in this process in our own church, with the support of our elders, was to preach a 21 part sermon series entitled “The Psychology of Evil.”  Why that title?  Because you will not find any more fruitful field of study to help you understand evil in its bare, essential form than the study of the psychology and methods of the abuser.  Behind his deceptive facade, the abuser is a living, breathing textbook on evil.

I highly recommend to you the following books:  Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.  Our own book due to be published in the Fall of 2012,  A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church.  Not Under Bondage, by Barbara Roberts; and the two fine books by George Simon Jr., In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance.

Getting a Grip

I would like to make a suggestion to you that may well be as hard for you to hear as it was for me, originally.  It is simply this – if you have been dealing with a marriage in your church in which one spouse has been claiming to have been abused, and if that situation (as it so often does)  has come to the point of threatening the unity of your church, or at least being something like a thorn to you that just won’t go away, then the source of the problem may very probably rest with you and your leadership rather than with the marriage partners themselves.  I have had to face up to this personally and as I said, it took the Lord giving me some pretty hard blows to get my attention.

What do I mean that the real problem very likely rests with you?  I mean that if your church is characterized by any or all of the following mentalities and philosophies, then evil, abusive individuals will find it a friendly place for them, and victims will suffer.  Injustices will be done to victims, all the while the leaders believing they are handling things scripturally.

Taking Stock

Therefore, if your church:

  1. Embraces a theology  that presumes a church member/professing Christian really is a Christian, regardless of how they are living,
  2. Emphasizes the headship of the husband and father and the submission of the wife and mother without getting right down to the “nitty-gritty” of what abuse of headship actually looks like, so that the men in the church even “squirm” in the pew if they are guilt,
  3. Does not, like we used to, permit women to vote or to pray aloud,
  4. Teaches that the marriage covenant is not to be broken, that divorce is wrong.  That sounds biblical, but what it usually translates into is the clear implication that abuse is not grounds for divorce.  That abuse victims, normally women, are pleasing God and suffering for Christ by remaining in a marriage to an abuser,
  5. Discourages (in some cases forbids) a wife from saying anything negative about her husband,

…then I suggest to you that it is not fundamentally the troubled marriage that is threatening the health of your church, but it is the climate that has been created which inevitably deals injustice to victims.

Injustice Destroys Unity

As more and more people in the congregation begin to realize this injustice, unity is destroyed.  As we, pastors and leaders, dig our heels in further, all the while telling ourselves that we are standing faithful for Christ in this, we only add fuel to the fire.

There was still another hard thing that I had to face:  just what do we think of women?  The fact is that most conservative, Bible-believing pastors like ourselves actually look down upon women.  We see them as inferior beings.  We object to this charge, but our actions betray our real attitudes.

I had to ask myself, “Jeff, just exactly what is it that is going on in your head when a woman walks into your office and asks for help?”  The answer I ultimately saw was “I see her as an inferior being and I talk down to her.”  Really, and with ruthless honesty – “What does Pastor _________ think about a woman who walks into his office?”  “What does he think about his wife?”  Don’t rush to answers.  The first responses we give are usually wrong.

Pastor, if you and your church are dedicated, Bible-believing Christians who have been working to do your best to serve Christ, the chances are quite high that you have made some of the very same errors we did.  From my study of the growing number of cases of abuse uncovered in our churches, from hearing case after case of victims who have been terribly treated at our hands, I venture to say that you are not immune to these errors.

Seeking a Remedy

This means that, as in our case, the remedy for the threatened division or injustices rendered in your church lies mostly with you and your leadership, not with any one situation you are dealing with.  That is to say, my prescription is that you and your leaders plead with the Lord to show you things that need to be repented of and changed.

What would happen in your church if you went before your people, after some genuine self-examination, and confessed to them that you have not done well in this matter.  If you stated that  you have created an oppressive environment for women.  State that by God’s grace you are resolved to set about making it right?  What if you went to any specific woman in a particular case you have handled, and confessed these things to her?  And then set out to re-tool the culture of your church?

Many times we tell ourselves that these abuse victims (sometimes men, but usually women) who come to us asking for help have a “log” in their own eye and are just looking for the speck in their spouse’s eye.  But, brother, I tell you that I had said the same thing about people in those kinds of situations many times.  I am afraid that now I see there was an even bigger log in my own eye.

Persecution for Christ or Oppression of the Weak?

In order to do that, I had to put aside my oft-repeated argument that I was “standing for Christ’s truth and was being persecuted by sinful people.”  Yes,  persecution is going to come if we stand for Christ.  But when we are doing wrong, when we are oppressing the oppressed and being duped by evil, the fallout is not persecution for Christ.  It is the bad fruit of our own crippled thinking and wrong-doing.

I trust you take these words in the spirit they are given.  They are meant to do good to Christ’s church, to your ministry, and to the souls of those you oversee.  I realize that in some cases these things are calling for radical change on your part.  All I can say is that we have made those radical changes here and are still working on them – and we aren’t looking back.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Jeff Crippen, Pastor
Tillamook, Oregon

 Posted by at 8:31 am
Sep 062012

Brian Brodersen Part 4 in his “Revival” series…it’s like the FED’s QE…I’m guessing there will be many more “parts”…this series keeps on goin’! 🙂 I think there’s some good stuff in BB’s recent missive, but I don’t know if I agree with this quote below as the definition of “Revival”…the Scripture seems to indicate that we really are incapable of “loving God with all of our heart” etc. Seems quite an over-sell and false litmus test for “Revival” to me (at least according to Scripture):

This is the searching question to consider: Do you love Jesus Christ with all your heart? Can you affirm that? Not around your peers, not to impress anyone publicly, but standing alone before God, can you affirm, “I love Jesus Christ with all of my heart”? Can you say honestly, “Lord, to the best of my knowledge and to the best of my ability, I am completely sold out to You and committed to doing Your will”? If you cannot say that with conviction, then I suggest you need revival.

Kellen Criswell is quickly becoming one of my favorite CC Pastors. He seems like a real guy who is less concerned about presenting a False Piety image…and more concerned about really reaching folks who need to hear and experience the true Gospel:

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:19)

A few weeks ago I found myself at a punk rock show at a bar in Salt Lake City, Utah. Admittedly, it was one of the last places most people expect to find a Christian pastor. I’m not saying that to make myself look cool, edgy, or controversial. It’s just the truth. And many Christians and Christian pastors have a hard time swallowing the idea of a pastor hanging out in such a place.

Chuck Smith affirms Intelligent Design and expresses his own struggles in the past with questions about the existence of God etc. I really like this…and have gone through a similar process. The old coot is stubbornly irresponsible in not exercising good leadership and Church Discipline as the Apostle of the Church at Calvary Chapel…but he’s right on a lot of stuff, like this:

Maybe there is something to atheism, I thought. Maybe all this spiritual stuff is nothing more than the creation of man. I went through a period of real misery, almost sinking from the weight of my oppressive thoughts. Maybe God doesn’t exist. Maybe it is all man’s concepts and ideas, since man appears to need to believe in something. The more I entertained thoughts like these, the more I sank emotionally. And then I thought, Maybe God doesn’t exist—but it’s easier to believe that He does exist than to believe that He doesn’t. As I looked at the world and the universe, I found it much easier to believe in the existence of God than to believe that everything I saw came into being by sheer chance.

Danny Lehmann of YWAM and a teacher at Calvary Chapel Honolulu wants you to be well-read…including John Calvin! LOL. In yo face George Bryson! 😆 I think it is fear that keeps many in Calvary Chapel from considering the vast array of perspectives in Christianity…fear and ignorance. A weak Faith needs to be locked up, protected, barricaded from outsiders! A strong Faith is built on “work out your own Salvation in fear and trembling”…that’s a Holy Fear. Read up. Read broadly. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Don’t give in to the Bryson fear-mongers of the Calvary Chapel Association. Bryson is an ignorant fool and should be on the other side of the pulpit…and should do the first priority, which is swallow his pride and do whatever it takes to get his family back together. CC’ites, Chuck Smith’ers…listen to the Criswell’s and the Lehmann’s…don’t let the Bryson’s fill you full of nonsense.

Read a variety of “genres” (types of books ). Early Fathers (i.e. Irenaeus, Athanasius, Tertullian), medieval and modern mystics ( Thomas A’Kempis, Teresa of Avila, Madame Guyon , Brother Lawrence, Andrew Murray), Reformers (Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Knox), Revivalists (Wesley, Whitfield, Finney, Moody), missionary biographies (William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael) and great saints of the past (William and Catherine Booth, Wilberforce, Spurgeon), Bible commentaries (Stott, Wiersbe), specialty books (books revolving around your passions–(i.e. for me evangelism, missions and spiritual discipline), and devotional classics (Pilgrims Progress, Mere Christianity, My Utmost For His Highest etc.)

David Rosales wins the honor of “Sermon of the Week”. Unfortunately, it’s like awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything. I watched it…L.A.M.E. The personal anecdotes about how rough he had it on a Hawaiian vacation and how he had to suck it up was about as relevant to the rank-and-file as a Hollywood celebrity complaining about tough times on a trip to Paris. Rosales is out of touch, has bought into his own celebrity (and carefully masks his pride and presents a false humility). Rosales promotes himself as struggling with sin in the same tired and contrived manner I grew up with in Calvary Chapel. It’s really a tool, IMO, to promote himself.

The technique/script goes like this: 1. Tell a story about how you struggle with a petty sin, usually pride or being ungrateful or being in a bad mood. 2. Use your wife as the White Hat foil to point out how you need to buck up and be the “pastor” and “man of God” and get over whatever petty issue it is and thank God for the tough circumstance (which is usually a trip delay, a cancelled flight, a long lay-over, an annoying fellow traveler, a rude attendant etc). 3. A person usually recognizes the CCSP during this faux-ordeal and expresses their knowledge of their Christian celebrity status. 4. The Wife steps in and acts like the righteous saint she is. 5. The CCSP is convicted of this terrible sinful attitude they have and they put their eyes back on Jesus and get over the terrible trial of being delayed, annoyed, etc. 6. The CCSP ties it up in a bow and presents it to the non-member members of his CC Franchise as an Object Lesson in how humble the pastor is, how Godly the Wife is, how the CCSP struggles with sin (but not real disqualifying sin…no they hide the really good stuff from you), reaffirm they are “someone” by being recognized by the masses, and then “repent” and get their eyes back on Jesus for the trip home, etc. Gag. It’s about as real as a $30 Rolex.

David Rosales, you get the “Sermon of the Weak”…as in it was Weak Sauce and vacuous. Get over yourself and help some folks in a real way. If you’re going to share about pastors sinning…share some detailed gore about your buddies Raul Ries and Bob Grenier…now that’s some real sin and some authenticity!

There’s a whole lot more to Rosales’s sermon/defense from the pulpit regarding getting called out for buddying up with TBN…we’ll cover that issue in its own article to come…

Link to the “Sermon of the Weak” by David Rosales of Calvary Chapel Chino Valley here:

 Posted by at 12:04 pm
Sep 042012

DHS head honcho Janet "Big Sis" Napolitano visited a local Calvary Chapel franchise recently to thank non-member members for "loving your neighbor". Pastor Frank Griffin of Calvary Chapel Bay St. Louis in Mississippi led the CC attendees there in an effort to provide emotional/spiritual support during the recent storm Isaac.

A Calvary Chapel Affiliate in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi got quite a surprise recently…a visit from the Governor of the State…and from “Big Sis” Janet Napolitano herself.

According to a report by local tv station WLOX, Napolitano and Bryant made an appearance at a shelter hosted by Calvary Chapel Bay St. Louis and interim CC pastor Frank Griffin. This isn’t Griffin’s first Storm Rodeo…he helped rebuild CCBSL after Hurricane Katrina wiped it out in 2005.

This time around, Calvary Chapel hosted more of a Help Center for those affected by Isaac.

In a local tv interview, Pastor Griffin explains the role his CC played in helping area residents:

“People that you don’t know and they come walk alongside life with you, it brings hope to them,” Griffin said. “People aren’t as concerned about material possessions as they want someone to listen to, to talk to, to hear their hurts and pains and healing always comes when a brother or sister comes and puts their arm around each other.”

Link to article and tv interviews here:

Ironically, accused child molester and child abuser Bob Grenier, Calvary Chapel Visalia Pastor in good standing with the Calvary Chapel Association and Chuck Smith, reportedly has Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clearances. PR visits and photo-ops for Isaac…check. Vetting, investigating and holding accountable those who represent the church and the government….not so much.

 Posted by at 12:08 pm