A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

Tov or Toxic Church? An Interview with Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer

February 24, 2021 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 1 Episode 18
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Tov or Toxic Church? An Interview with Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer
Chapters
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Tov or Toxic Church? An Interview with Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer
Feb 24, 2021 Season 1 Episode 18
Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker

In this episode, we chat with Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer about their new book that's making waves called A Church Called Tov. This book is extremely important and is a prophetic call to the Church to form a goodness culture that resists abuses of power and promotes healing. We chat about recent scandals of abuse and coverup in the modern church, why we've created toxic church cultures and how we can move toward more beautiful cultures of goodness (Tov) in our churches.

Also, we get some dirt on Scot from Laura about some fun and mildly embarrassing stories from growing up with a biblical scholar. Fun times!

The whiskey featured in this episode is Belle Meade Bourbon from Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, TN.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we chat with Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer about their new book that's making waves called A Church Called Tov. This book is extremely important and is a prophetic call to the Church to form a goodness culture that resists abuses of power and promotes healing. We chat about recent scandals of abuse and coverup in the modern church, why we've created toxic church cultures and how we can move toward more beautiful cultures of goodness (Tov) in our churches.

Also, we get some dirt on Scot from Laura about some fun and mildly embarrassing stories from growing up with a biblical scholar. Fun times!

The whiskey featured in this episode is Belle Meade Bourbon from Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, TN.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

00:00

[Music]

00:15

welcome to a pastor and a philosopher

00:17

walk into a bar

00:18

the podcast where we mix a sometimes

00:20

weird but always delicious cocktail of

00:22

theology

00:23

philosophy and spirituality

00:25

[Music]

00:29

well welcome everyone we're really

00:31

excited to have a couple special guests

00:33

on the podcast today

00:34

we'll be talking with the reverend

00:36

cannon dr scott mcknight which i just

00:38

think is the coolest

00:40

title ever i don't know what it means

00:41

but it sounds really cool to me

00:43

and his daughter laura barringer who

00:46

have authored a book together

00:47

recently called a church called tove

00:51

it's really good really interesting i

00:53

should say at the beginning that this

00:54

book contains some heavy themes in our

00:56

conversation about it also contains

00:58

some heavy themes we discuss things like

01:01

sexual abuse

01:02

and so if that's a problem for you or if

01:05

you have young children we wouldn't

01:06

recommend

01:07

this episode for them but for everyone

01:09

else

01:10

this episode is is an important one and

01:13

i think uh

01:14

if you're a pastor if you've ever

01:16

considered being a pastor

01:18

uh or if you're a parishioner at a large

01:20

church

01:21

especially mandatory this is definitely

01:24

an episode that you should listen to

01:28

well scott mcknight and laura behringer

01:30

thank you so much for joining us today

01:32

we're super excited to have you

01:33

thank you for having us it's really nice

01:35

to be with you good to be with you yeah

01:38

excellent for our listeners who might

01:40

not know

01:41

who you are and know what world you

01:43

orbit in and all that business [ __ ] you

01:45

what can you know i know that'd be crazy

01:48

that'd be crazy

01:48

but could you just in case for those

01:51

four people uh let us know who you are

01:53

all right i am scott mcknight and i am a

01:56

professor of new testament

01:58

at northern seminary in lyle

02:01

illinois which is a pretty much a

02:04

western suburb

02:05

i'm an author and i've been teaching for

02:08

almost 40 years

02:09

amazing i am scott's daughter i am laura

02:12

and

02:13

talking about world that you orbit in i

02:16

am a teacher

02:17

so this path is an unlikely one for me

02:20

that i'm sitting in this chair talking

02:21

about

02:22

abuse in the church but i am the

02:25

co-author

02:26

of a church called tove with my father

02:28

scott mcknight

02:29

so we're we're going to be talking today

02:31

about the the book that

02:33

scott and lord just wrote called a

02:35

church called tove

02:36

tov is the really really fun word that

02:38

i've had some fun with

02:40

in the past as well and scott you took

02:42

it and made it into a name on

02:43

on this book and you both just really

02:46

really took this concept of tove

02:48

this ancient hebrew word and really

02:50

turned it into something that i think

02:52

a lot of churches need to pay attention

02:54

to so can you just first of all tell us

02:56

what what in the world is this

02:57

three-letter word

02:58

all right when i uh wrote the first i

03:00

think it was the first blog post

03:02

about willow creek i i dropped the

03:06

statement

03:06

in the blog post that the church

03:10

needs uh goodness

03:13

we need more goodness culture and

03:17

i knew uh that the hebrew word behind

03:19

goodness is tov

03:21

but i had so many people ask me

03:24

questions about that word

03:27

why did i use goodness where can we

03:30

learn more about goodness

03:32

why is goodness important so i decided

03:35

to do a little bit of a study

03:37

uh this was independent of writing the

03:39

book on the meaning of tove

03:41

in the in the old testament and i got to

03:44

tell you

03:45

i i did not realize

03:49

how pervasive this term is in the hebrew

03:51

bible the old testament

03:53

and how significant is and the word that

03:56

i

03:56

the expression that i use for it now is

03:59

that it is a master

04:00

moral category it summarizes

04:04

who god is what god is like what god has

04:08

made

04:09

what god has designed and what he wants

04:11

of his people

04:12

in this world he wants them to be told

04:15

so good

04:16

soto so tov yes you do actually do you

04:19

got into my head a little bit i

04:21

found myself saying tov every once in a

04:22

while so much of this book

04:24

is formed and shaped or seems to be

04:26

formed and shaped by what happened

04:27

at willow creek community church with

04:29

bill hybels the senior pastor there

04:31

and your experience as church members

04:32

there what it seems like so

04:34

would you guys both mind sharing about

04:36

your experience prior to a little bit

04:38

but

04:38

particularly as the allegations came out

04:40

and they kept coming

04:42

and they kept coming and how the elders

04:44

responded and

04:45

as the whole church is in crisis just

04:48

bring us into the emotions and what's

04:50

going through your mind and what your

04:51

conversations were like

04:52

just bring us into that world a little

04:54

bit well the story started for us so

04:57

the story broke on i believe it was

04:59

march 23rd

05:00

2018 and i was sitting at a mexican

05:04

restaurant down the street with my

05:05

husband we can both remember exactly

05:07

where we were when the story broke for

05:09

us we had been

05:10

we were not attending willow creek at

05:13

that point we had left

05:14

about a year prior but we had met at

05:16

willow creek attended there for about 20

05:18

years

05:19

and always respected bill's leadership

05:23

now admittedly i never really knew bill

05:27

i met him one time i stood in line to

05:30

meet him

05:31

but we always respected him as a leader

05:33

and as a pastor

05:35

and so we read the headline these

05:38

allegations against bill hybels and we

05:40

were both like oh brother here we go

05:42

again we didn't we just kind of shrugged

05:44

it off didn't believe it

05:46

got in the car we're driving home and i

05:47

started reading the article out loud to

05:49

my husband

05:50

and we both looked at each other and

05:54

it was alarming because we knew the

05:55

names of the people we know the women

05:58

and we also knew the names of

05:59

betty schmidt for example was an elder

06:01

who was supporting the women

06:04

john and nancy ortberg jim and jimmy and

06:06

liam miato these were names that

06:08

these were not people that they were

06:10

they're people of character and

06:11

integrity

06:13

and so we right away we're dealing with

06:17

this

06:18

tension between the churches saying that

06:21

the allegations are false but this group

06:24

of people that we know to be

06:26

people of integrity and character are

06:29

also

06:30

are saying that it's true and somebody's

06:32

not telling the truth and either

06:34

way it's very disturbing well we called

06:37

my dad as soon as we got home

06:38

and that's really when the story started

06:41

to unfold for us as mark and i were

06:42

still not sure what to believe and

06:44

my dad told us that night that he'd seen

06:47

this hundreds of times

06:48

it's a pattern that churches followed he

06:50

really hoped it wasn't true but the

06:52

likelihood that all of these people were

06:55

lying

06:55

was very low well yeah i mean to me

07:00

we loved willow creek chris and i

07:02

attended for 10 years

07:04

and we liked a lot of the ministries

07:07

there were so many things going on that

07:09

was good

07:10

but uh i'm a seminary professor and a

07:13

lot of my students

07:14

are pastors and those who aren't pastors

07:17

most of them are very involved in

07:19

churches

07:20

bill hybels is one of the most

07:22

influential pastors in the world

07:24

and i felt betrayed because this is a

07:28

man that i had praised

07:30

i had told my students he was a good man

07:33

i felt betrayed

07:34

because this is a church that

07:37

people use as a paradigm and a model

07:40

and so i thought

07:44

okay this is this is what's happened

07:46

this is going to become

07:48

a story told in seminaries

07:51

for the rest of my life not by me but

07:54

this

07:54

this will become a test case a

07:57

hypothetical case

07:59

in seminary classrooms of

08:02

what happens why it happens when

08:06

when pastors fall like this and we

08:09

discover that behind the curtains

08:11

there were things going on that should

08:13

never have been happening for a pastor

08:15

the other thing that was so hard to wrap

08:18

our minds around

08:19

was it wasn't just the pastor i mean

08:22

that was hard enough to grapple with but

08:24

it was this whole

08:25

system it was like peeling back the

08:27

layers of an onion

08:28

and just betrayal is a good word feeling

08:32

betrayed by people that we had thought

08:34

were

08:36

i i mean not that i don't believe that

08:38

they're christians but these were people

08:39

that we thought were living in truth and

08:42

to see and hear what they had been doing

08:44

to people

08:45

it just it was very disorienting

08:49

man yeah we're 99 miles north of you

08:52

guys here in chicago area we're in

08:53

milwaukee area and

08:55

i remember where i was when i read about

08:56

it because like you said scott bill

08:58

hybels is a legend

08:59

highly respected and i just remember

09:02

having the same thoughts as you guys

09:03

just i didn't know anybody personally

09:05

but

09:06

in your first chapter of this book you

09:08

guys talk a lot about culture in a

09:09

church culture and that

09:11

churches have cultures whether or not

09:13

pastors church leaders or even

09:14

congregations know it

09:16

you've got a culture that's been built

09:18

in can you explain that a little bit

09:20

this idea that a church has a culture

09:22

in what might that culture look like and

09:24

who's shaping that culture and how

09:25

intentional we might be

09:27

i think this is a really important point

09:28

that not enough people get in the church

09:31

yeah and this was uh this was a big part

09:33

of our conversation

09:35

between laura and me well but also mark

09:38

and

09:38

and my wife chris we had this

09:40

conversation a lot and i kept saying

09:42

it's a it's a culture

09:44

it is extraordinarily rare that a pastor

09:46

can get by with what bill hybels or

09:48

james mcdonald

09:50

or cj mahany or the southern baptist

09:53

pastors that were disgraced in the

09:55

houston chronicle we could go on

09:57

roman catholic priests in the curia

10:01

of of the vatican those things don't

10:04

happen

10:05

normally on their own in an

10:08

isolated fashion there is something that

10:12

there is some kind of culture that

10:14

encourages and permits

10:16

and legitimates and justifies and

10:19

protects

10:20

so that this goes on david brooks

10:23

in a book i read is called the second

10:26

mountain

10:27

said something that just stunned me when

10:29

i read it so i

10:30

i say it everywhere i go now never

10:33

underestimate the significance of the

10:35

environment in which you work

10:37

i'm summarizing that to make you the

10:39

kind of person that works in that

10:41

environment with comfort

10:43

this is this is vital and in studying

10:46

new testament studies there's a

10:47

wonderful guy

10:48

named matthew krausman who who wrote a

10:51

book on a technical phd

10:53

on on romans in which he argued

10:57

that cultures develop in this way that

11:00

there's there are behaviors at the

11:02

bottom let's just say

11:04

everybody's behaving a certain way this

11:07

keeps going to the point that it becomes

11:10

an agent

11:11

it becomes an active agent not a person

11:15

but

11:15

almost personified so that saddleback

11:19

church is an agent north point community

11:23

church with andy stanley is an

11:25

agent willow creek is an agent

11:28

elmbrook church in milwaukee is an agent

11:32

and you experience it and it impacts

11:35

people

11:35

in a sense so we impact it to create the

11:38

culture the culture then comes back

11:40

to work upon us and influences us

11:44

to be the kind of person that works in

11:46

that culture if you don't like that

11:47

culture and you

11:48

fight it you will be eliminated

11:52

if you stay you will become like that

11:56

culture

11:57

and i believe that churches every church

12:00

is a culture and we need to become

12:04

discerners of our own church's culture

12:07

so that we can see what is shaping us

12:10

and it's you know we like to think it's

12:11

just the bible or it's just

12:12

god and me and we're being shaped in so

12:15

many ways

12:17

everybody who talks today about

12:18

spiritual formation

12:20

talks about the significance of

12:22

community and group

12:24

forming us into the agents or the people

12:27

that we are

12:28

and a church is a culture and we we need

12:31

to be aware of that we participate in it

12:34

the leaders participate in it impacting

12:37

the people the

12:38

people that influence the leaders the

12:40

leaders then

12:41

uh allow the church or the church allows

12:44

the culture to become an agent that

12:45

begins to make us

12:46

all fit into this church culture in such

12:49

a way that we behave

12:51

in a way that's approving to that

12:54

culture

12:55

yeah i want to ask you here about the

12:57

interplay between the culture

13:00

and individual character or individual

13:03

intention because

13:03

you say it really strongly in the book

13:05

early in the book you put it this way

13:06

you say

13:07

a rooted culture is almost irresistible

13:11

and you italicize irresistible and then

13:13

you say if the reinforcing culture is

13:15

toxic

13:16

it becomes systemically corrupted and

13:18

corrupts the people within it

13:20

so how much room is there here for

13:21

individual character and individual

13:23

choice because i think we'd all like to

13:24

think to ourselves

13:26

if i had been at willow creek or if i

13:27

had been wherever and i had seen that

13:29

kind of thing i would have resisted you

13:30

know i would have done something

13:31

different

13:33

but it seems like you're saying we're

13:34

fooling ourselves is that right

13:37

well kyle this is this is a good

13:38

question i i do believe that humans have

13:41

individual agencies so yes

13:43

uh we can resist the culture uh but

13:47

if you are in a strong culture

13:51

now i'm starting to talk the language of

13:53

of the cultural anthropologists

13:55

if you are in a strong culture

13:58

you will be worn down by resistance

14:02

because it's too powerful to resist

14:06

and i i've had people

14:09

from some of these churches that we're

14:11

talking about not just willow creek

14:13

say the culture was so powerful

14:17

that i could do nothing about it i spoke

14:20

up

14:21

i tried to resist it was impossible

14:25

now those people all were witnesses to

14:28

the fact that they weren't corrupted by

14:30

that culture

14:31

so we can avoid the corruption

14:34

that's a little bit different and it's

14:36

possible from those who try to resist

14:39

the culture

14:40

and change it there are many people kyle

14:43

who just flowed along on and bob along

14:47

in their inner tubes on the culture and

14:50

are not recognizing it aren't resisting

14:53

it

14:54

aren't um aren't affirming it but

14:57

they're just

14:58

part of the culture and they don't know

14:59

it and and increasingly in mega churches

15:02

there's just way too many people who are

15:04

just participants

15:05

in that way they just watch they're

15:08

observers

15:10

yeah do you think that's endemic to the

15:13

mega church

15:14

system itself the smaller the church

15:18

the less you can be simply an observer

15:22

the bigger the church the more

15:24

likelihood

15:25

of the presence of observers now what i

15:28

mean by an observer is someone who just

15:30

comes

15:31

watches church and goes home without

15:34

being responsible without being called

15:37

on the spot

15:38

without asking to do anything they just

15:41

come and watch it's the way i go to a

15:45

milwaukee's brewers game i'm just

15:49

a watcher unless they're playing the

15:52

cubs

15:54

and then right now i'm not too happy

15:56

about the cubs

15:59

i did notice laura you did pop in and go

16:01

cubs in there and um

16:03

had to just let you know i still love

16:06

you

16:14

laura you you said you spent 20 years at

16:16

willow creek that's

16:18

a lot of your adult life i'm assuming

16:20

you spent

16:21

and now you're at it sounds like more of

16:23

a high church probably smaller church

16:25

can you describe those church cultures

16:27

and did you even know it would you've

16:29

known this 15 years ago

16:31

10 years ago five years ago this culture

16:34

at willow creek

16:35

no and it's a that's an interesting

16:37

question you guys were just talking

16:38

about

16:39

the observer i think that in large part

16:42

was

16:43

me i well i guess i was more than an

16:46

observer because i was involved in the

16:48

section ministry

16:49

and had a close community at willow

16:52

creek

16:53

but it took being removed from

16:57

that church and that culture to be able

16:59

to see the toxicity of it

17:02

so when i here's one example when i

17:04

started going to an anglican church

17:06

i noticed right away there was no

17:09

there's no production

17:10

there's no screen it's not about a

17:13

person who's coming up on stage to talk

17:16

there's no standing up and cheering and

17:18

clapping for people

17:20

and i know i did not see

17:23

i i can honestly say when i was at

17:25

willow creek i did not

17:27

see it i did not see i was just part of

17:30

it everyone stood

17:31

and clapped so i stood and clapped and

17:35

i i have to own my part in

17:38

perpetuating the celebrity culture that

17:40

existed there

17:42

and it's i believe personally from my

17:45

experience that it can be really hard to

17:47

see when you're in it

17:48

and i'm thankful that i left it and so

17:51

that i'm able to see what

17:53

the toxicity was but i didn't see it at

17:56

the time

17:57

and i don't think most people do see

17:59

recognize their culture

18:01

you know i don't know the name of the

18:03

author but it's a clever title

18:05

it's the color of water this um

18:08

a culture in a church and i think you

18:11

have to have

18:12

analytical tools that you learn by way

18:15

of theory and education someone helping

18:18

you see

18:20

so that you can detect a culture in any

18:23

group in any church

18:25

and chris my wife is a psychologist

18:28

and she has helped me see over the years

18:32

the culture of institutions i've taught

18:34

in three major institutions

18:37

and i've been able the first one was

18:40

particularly i taught at trinity

18:42

was particularly difficult to discern

18:45

because i was so

18:46

young and just trying to survive you

18:48

know

18:49

but then when i went to north park i

18:52

began to

18:52

recognize a different kind of culture

18:55

and at northern we have a different

18:56

culture

18:57

but you have to have some tools you have

18:59

to have some equipment

19:01

you have to have some learning and

19:03

experience to recognize

19:05

cultures otherwise you'll just you'll

19:08

just believe

19:09

whatever is said from the platform about

19:12

what's actually going on you just think

19:13

well

19:14

that's what that's what the pastor says

19:16

that's what that's what is

19:19

scott if it's okay i'd like to dig into

19:21

some bible verses a little bit

19:22

so you you talk about in uh chapter

19:25

three

19:27

several verses that are often used uh

19:30

by ministers who are accused of

19:31

wrongdoing as kind of procedural

19:34

defenses

19:35

not defenses of their behavior but

19:36

defenses against

19:38

bringing up their behavior so this is

19:40

particularly

19:41

uh passages in matthew 18 first timothy

19:45

5

19:45

1st corinthians 6 that you talk about

19:48

and you say that the way they get used

19:50

is profoundly unbiblical can you explain

19:53

what you mean by that

19:55

okay let me let me start with one that i

19:57

think is pretty easy

19:59

in first timothy it tells us that no one

20:03

is to lay a charge or make an allegation

20:05

against an

20:06

elder apart from two or three witnesses

20:10

all right now that is that is an

20:11

interesting verse and i've heard it used

20:14

it was used at willow creek of why the

20:16

women

20:18

should not be making accusations against

20:20

bill hybels

20:24

well here is a reality kyle

20:28

most men who abuse women sexually

20:32

don't do it in public i think the

20:34

chances are less than one percent

20:37

i mean it's unless it's on video and

20:40

that they didn't realize it was on video

20:42

they do these things privately which

20:44

means you could

20:45

never a woman could never lay an

20:48

allegation

20:49

against a pastor or an elder a bishop

20:52

whatever you want to call him

20:53

unless someone else was there and saw it

20:56

matthew 18

20:58

is used that if if you have an offense

21:01

against someone

21:03

you should go to that person privately

21:06

if they don't respond

21:07

you go to two or three you bring two or

21:09

three witnesses and if that doesn't

21:10

happen you go to the whole church

21:12

that seems like an orderly process for

21:15

offenses

21:16

but what if it is a

21:20

teenage girl raped

21:23

by a leader in the church

21:27

is she to go to that person privately

21:31

and to try to redress the situation

21:35

this is profoundly foolish

21:38

re-traumatizing

21:39

re-victimizing of the woman so those

21:42

verses are important but they have to be

21:45

taken in context

21:47

i called willow creek on the spot on my

21:49

blog and said

21:50

let's go to deuteronomy where a woman

21:54

was sexually abused raped perhaps that's

21:58

what it sounds like

21:59

out in a field where no one saw it

22:03

and it's amazing the jewish law i talked

22:06

i i checked this with two different old

22:08

testament scholars

22:09

and i said the law seems to suggest

22:13

that the woman's voice was going to be

22:15

believed and trusted

22:17

over the man's and the old testament

22:19

scholar said

22:20

absolutely that's exactly what it's

22:22

saying

22:24

so that that would mean

22:27

that um matthew 18

22:31

uh first timothy uh first corinthians

22:34

six is

22:35

you know you're not to go to the public

22:37

authorities uh you're supposed to stay

22:40

inside the church churches have proven

22:42

they have no idea

22:44

how to handle sexual abuse cases how to

22:46

investigate

22:48

uh so this is outside their parameters

22:51

and

22:51

it just drives me to say we have to

22:54

listen to different verses

22:56

for the context that they're bringing

22:57

out the assumptions

22:59

and learn to use the proper text

23:03

and i think in this case deuteronomy was

23:06

the text

23:07

that was most like the situations at

23:10

willow creek

23:11

i've got plenty of stories of these

23:13

private type things too

23:15

so what i'm saying about willow creek

23:17

there applies to about

23:19

500 churches in the united states in the

23:21

last 10 years

23:22

yeah and you guys have you guys

23:24

obviously made a choice

23:26

to include people's names to name

23:28

institutions

23:29

where abuse has happened where cover-up

23:31

has happened where even i'm thinking of

23:33

the village church in

23:34

houston i think it is matt chandler's

23:36

church where you show this

23:38

example of a membership covenant where

23:39

they basically legally in a legally

23:41

binding fashion don't allow anybody to

23:43

bring any lawsuit against them for

23:45

anything it blew me away

23:47

but you guys obviously made a choice to

23:48

name names and i'm really grateful you

23:51

did but i'm sure that didn't come

23:53

lightly that decision and you talked

23:54

about that and collaborated

23:56

tell us about why you decided to name so

23:58

many names

23:59

name so many institutions in real time

24:02

it's important to the victims that the

24:04

names are named

24:05

it's important to them that their

24:07

stories are heard

24:09

and it really was never a question

24:12

for my dad and me it was just something

24:15

that

24:15

i felt sh was the right thing to do

24:18

i'm sure some others disagree but it

24:21

wasn't a decision we made

24:23

necessarily for us but it was for

24:26

those who have been victims of abuse so

24:29

that their stories are the ones

24:31

that are told now okay yeah this is um

24:35

this is critical on this one is that the

24:37

victims

24:39

when you minimize

24:42

and diminish names and protect it

24:45

under some abstraction the

24:49

the victims feel like they're protecting

24:51

the perpetrators

24:53

so that's that's important thing and

24:56

it's

24:56

it's something that uh frankly a male

24:59

white

25:00

culture of churches doesn't

25:03

have an instinct for so if you ask the

25:06

women should we have named the names

25:08

every one of them to a person said yes

25:11

interesting okay first of all

25:14

uh i would also say the stories that we

25:17

tell in the book are public

25:19

information we are not doing an expose

25:23

of information that nobody knows about

25:26

now look

25:27

we probably told some stories that we

25:29

probably told a lot of stories that

25:31

most people didn't know anything about

25:33

but it's not because

25:34

we dug up stories as investigative

25:37

journalists it's because

25:39

they didn't know about these stories

25:41

okay we did tell

25:42

the story of one young woman at willow

25:45

creek

25:46

who hadn't told her story in public like

25:48

this before

25:49

but she cleared it with us and with

25:51

lawyers

25:52

the second thing is it's real this is

25:54

the reality these are names

25:57

it also makes the stories credible if i

26:00

say

26:01

a pastor in the midwest

26:04

abused what may have been a person in

26:07

his church

26:09

and that's where i leave it it's you go

26:12

okay

26:13

what does that mean if i say james

26:16

mcdonald

26:17

cussed out so and so and give the name

26:22

you go okay that's this is real stuff

26:24

now this is what's interesting to me

26:26

i i've had just one person tell me they

26:30

didn't like that i use names

26:32

and i said the precedent for using names

26:36

is the bible look at abraham

26:40

you know he gives his wife away a couple

26:42

times stupid behavior

26:44

look at solomon look at david

26:48

look at look at the whining of david in

26:50

his prayers as well

26:52

look at peter peter gets hammered in the

26:55

gospels

26:56

he gets hammered by paul in antioch in

27:00

galatians chapter 2.

27:02

look at the book of revelation naming

27:04

names

27:05

all right so names are reality

27:09

we are real people with real names and i

27:12

think it gives it a graphic reality

27:14

the other side for me is i'm a professor

27:18

when i name names my students

27:22

i'm also an author and now a podcaster

27:26

when i name names i know

27:30

that people say he could someday name my

27:34

name or they say

27:37

i don't want my name name like that and

27:40

it can

27:41

exercise a moral exhortation to them

27:45

to watch themselves i'm not looking for

27:48

people to name

27:49

but i believe that naming the names was

27:54

neither divulging of of things that

27:56

weren't known before

27:58

these are stories that are out there and

28:00

at the same time they're going to

28:02

function

28:03

as a way of warning people

28:06

that uh they're real people and what

28:09

they do

28:10

could be known they love having their

28:12

name out there when it comes to

28:13

selling books and being the best

28:16

preachers in the world but

28:18

not sure about this yeah i'm with you um

28:21

that's the other side of it and that's

28:22

the truth

28:23

is that they love a lot of these people

28:26

love the glory the glitz of

28:29

being praised for for their great

28:32

accomplishments

28:33

but they despise uh having their name

28:36

having been criticized

28:40

now i know we're talking a lot about

28:41

abuse the book isn't just a book about

28:44

abuse in the church but that's really a

28:46

big catalyst for it and

28:48

there was a shocking quote that you guys

28:49

put in the chapter about 12 churches

28:51

nurtured justice you talk about rachel

28:53

dennhollander a lot

28:55

who was abused by larry nassar at

28:57

michigan state and

28:58

has gone on to become an advocate for

29:00

abuse victims

29:01

in really beautiful potent ways she's a

29:04

believer

29:05

as well and she's quoted you guys quoted

29:08

her from christianity today in a 2018

29:10

interview where she said

29:11

church is one of the least safe places

29:13

to acknowledge abuse

29:15

and church is one of the worst places to

29:18

go for help

29:19

now i'm a church guy i love the church

29:22

i've

29:23

given my adult life to the church i'm a

29:25

jesus guy

29:27

and that right there coming from a

29:30

christian in particular but that right

29:32

there coming from an abuse

29:33

victim is shocking that the church is

29:36

one of the least safe

29:37

places to reveal abuse the church is one

29:39

of the worst places to go for help

29:41

when that's supposed to be our job

29:45

elaborate on that like is that is that

29:46

as shocking to you as it is to me

29:48

it's part of the reason why we felt

29:50

called to write the book that we did

29:52

there's too many instances of an abuse

29:55

victim coming forward

29:56

and rather than being cared for and

29:59

loved

29:59

and healed they are treated

30:02

as as if they just go into

30:06

institution protection mode and they

30:09

silence the victim discredit the victim

30:11

to save the reputation of the church

30:14

and that is exactly what happened to

30:16

rachel dunn hollander she

30:17

most people know her as the gymnast and

30:20

who spoke out against larry nassar but

30:22

she also had a horrible experience

30:25

trying to come forward as a victim of

30:27

abuse in her church

30:28

yeah in a church that is uh famous for

30:31

its claims to be

30:32

theologically rich and biblically

30:35

obedient

30:37

but the simple obedience of empathy and

30:40

grace

30:41

and love and care

30:45

for a victim a wounded person

30:48

was violated by that church and so i

30:52

i i agree with what laura said is that

30:56

and what rachel den hollander said time

30:59

and time again

31:00

we have encountered people who when they

31:03

came

31:04

forward about something going on at

31:07

church

31:08

were just pounded it's just

31:12

well think about it if you are calling

31:16

a leader a pastor in a church

31:19

on the spot for a sin that violates

31:23

let's just say his or her pledge for a

31:26

sin

31:27

that impugns that person's character

31:30

and reputation as a great christian

31:35

then they have two possible responses

31:38

this is exactly what i told lauren mark

31:40

on the first night

31:41

willow has two options it can either

31:44

seek the truth

31:45

humble themselves before the truth or

31:47

they could come out swinging

31:49

and they came out swinging and that is

31:52

the common pattern

31:53

to defend themselves how many of these

31:56

pastors

31:56

and look i told lauren mark i said if

31:59

they come out defending themselves

32:00

there's going to be some more women who

32:02

come forward and then they might try to

32:04

defend themselves again

32:05

eventually they're going to lose this

32:07

argument it's best to tell the truth

32:10

and this is the way institutions protect

32:14

themselves and it's it's sickening and

32:17

it's hideous

32:18

that we claim the gospel of truth and

32:20

then when confronted like this

32:23

uh the churches the churches and leaders

32:27

you know they deny the truth yeah

32:30

and then like telling the truth after

32:32

the fact after you've already tried to

32:34

defend yourself loses all

32:35

power i mean it really does too late at

32:38

that time you say

32:39

you say in the book that what the

32:40

leadership of a church does first

32:42

reveals its culture

32:44

that seems so true i'm reminded of ravi

32:47

zacharias who was in the news

32:49

recently he's dead now but his the

32:51

ministry he left behind is still

32:53

reeling from recent allegations yes and

32:55

their responses were to come out

32:57

you know that this lady laurie ann

32:59

thompson is lying

33:01

she's not telling the truth and signing

33:03

nda

33:04

one thing after another and uh they've

33:07

not done well

33:08

on the on here's a here's a ministry

33:10

that defends the truth

33:12

of the gospel that's what its goal is

33:16

to get people to admit the truth and

33:18

hear

33:19

they've not done so well dave ramsey is

33:22

another one

33:23

i hadn't even heard about that oh boy he

33:25

got scorched in religious news service

33:28

two two three weeks ago i can't say i'm

33:31

surprised

33:31

as i read the first half of your book

33:33

which is mainly about toxic cultures how

33:35

to identify toxic cultures what makes a

33:37

toxic culture

33:38

in a church and then you switch into the

33:40

lovely space of how to cultivate a tove

33:42

culture

33:43

and when you start talking about jesus

33:46

in the gospels and you start quoting

33:47

jesus in the gospels

33:50

the contrast to me between jesus and the

33:52

gospels

33:53

as jesus that we say is our messiah our

33:55

leader the one we follow and give

33:57

ourselves to

33:58

and we contrast that to let's just say

34:02

church leaders let's just say church

34:03

leaders the way they act the way they

34:05

talk the way they respond to people the

34:07

way they

34:08

teach even and the whole thing the

34:11

difference couldn't be starker i mean it

34:12

just

34:13

blew me away that we have a bunch of

34:14

people who say they believe in jesus and

34:16

preach jesus but they

34:17

have no idea how to live like jesus and

34:20

how to lead like jesus

34:21

and it also got me thinking i bet if

34:24

jesus was around today

34:26

pastoring a church in america i'll bet

34:29

you any money he'd be seen as a failure

34:31

as a pastor

34:32

like those methods don't work for

34:34

growing a mega church would you agree

34:36

well uh you've used the right words for

34:39

me you know

34:40

you you've uh you've hit my triggers

34:43

that i like to

34:44

i like to kind of pound the pulpit about

34:47

we measure too many churches by the word

34:50

success

34:51

when the word success means uh

34:54

how big of an audience we can gather on

34:56

a sunday morning

34:58

and i do not know where this came from

35:02

it's a distinctly american phenomenon

35:05

when churches in europe were in diocese

35:09

you know you went to your local church

35:12

you know the idea of getting a bigger

35:14

church and everybody else they would say

35:15

you've got too many for your church

35:17

we're going to have to build another

35:18

building

35:20

we we now have uh we now have this

35:23

american phenomenon

35:24

of trying to see how big of a church we

35:26

can and then we glorify

35:28

the pastors who do this jesus

35:31

measured let's use the word success for

35:34

him

35:36

and i and i call this the jesus creed he

35:38

measured it by people who learned to

35:40

love god

35:42

and love others as themselves and so

35:46

a genuinely formed person for jesus

35:49

is someone who loves god and loves

35:51

others

35:53

we don't measure that we don't have any

35:55

attendance

35:57

boards in our churches for the

35:59

percentage of people who are

36:01

loving versus the percentage of people

36:04

who are creeps

36:05

you know we don't do that we measure how

36:08

much money came in

36:09

we measure how many seats were filled we

36:12

measure

36:12

parking lots we measure the size of the

36:15

building

36:16

and the you know the budget

36:19

and we have yielded

36:22

surrendered the very core of what

36:25

spiritual formation is supposed to be

36:27

about

36:28

in the pages of the bible tove

36:31

is never measured by numbers yeah

36:34

guys like me are the source of a lot of

36:35

this problem senior pastor lead pastor

36:37

of a church

36:38

we get we just feel so good about

36:40

ourselves as our church is growing and

36:42

the budget's growing and

36:43

we how many baptisms we had this year we

36:46

love that stuff

36:47

but also it's a church culture like

36:50

you're talking about it's the elder

36:51

board or

36:52

whoever is the the core team who's

36:54

leading just go

36:55

and if you don't believe me just go and

36:57

look at some lead pastors senior pastor

36:59

job descriptions

37:00

and see what churches are looking for

37:02

because it's all about the numbers it's

37:04

all about the accomplishments it's all

37:06

about

37:07

uh what have you done for me lately in

37:09

the church i mean you show that willow

37:11

creek they come out of having

37:12

a narcissistic leader who lies and

37:15

abuses people

37:17

and then they go and they kind of look

37:18

for kind of the same traits

37:20

not abuse they don't ask for an abuser

37:22

but they want

37:23

the big megastar to be leading their

37:25

church that's a culture problem

37:28

that you still didn't learn after

37:30

everything fell to the wayside i mean

37:32

what are your

37:32

thoughts on that we were really

37:34

disappointed and then at the same time

37:36

not surprised when willow creek's new

37:39

job description came out

37:40

my dad actually in the book put it in a

37:42

word cloud

37:43

of willow creek's job description versus

37:46

what the bible looks for in a pastor

37:48

and it's very shall we say revealing of

37:52

the difference between

37:54

what willow was looking for and what the

37:56

bible would say a pastor is

37:58

i mean there were there were lines in

38:00

there like somebody who's well connected

38:02

and

38:03

made it in life and i thought

38:06

what are you doing have you not learned

38:09

from the mistakes of the past

38:11

but like you said just because bill

38:14

hybels is gone doesn't mean the culture

38:16

problem is gone as well and it runs a

38:18

lot deeper than

38:20

i for one realized i have a friend

38:24

who is i think you could call him a

38:27

pastor headhunter

38:29

i mean he doesn't just do it for

38:30

churches but he does it for christian

38:32

institutions

38:33

and he read the

38:37

i posted the job description as a word

38:40

cloud on my blog

38:42

and he read it and he wrote me a letter

38:45

and

38:46

he he admitted he said i'm

38:49

i'm frankly embarrassed by what we're

38:51

doing in our business now he wasn't

38:53

connected

38:54

to the job description written for

38:55

willow creek but he said i'm embarrassed

38:58

by what we're doing

38:59

and he said i i think i have good in

39:02

theological instincts and i i need to

39:05

work on this as to what

39:07

as to what i help churches think of what

39:10

they need

39:11

and to help them with terms and language

39:14

that is more consistent with what

39:15

pastors are called to do

39:18

so i'm hoping that the word clouds on

39:22

matching pages in our book

39:24

will have an impact on churches uh with

39:28

the

39:28

uh with the clear possibility that

39:31

somebody

39:32

is going to copy what i did with the job

39:35

descriptions that they post for their

39:36

churches

39:37

and put it on the internet and everybody

39:40

can see what they're looking for but

39:42

the willow creek job description to me

39:44

was

39:46

as a seminary professor and as a bible

39:48

guy it was just flat out embarrassing

39:51

they were looking for a successful

39:54

entrepreneur and i

39:58

this i don't know what that means for a

40:00

pastor

40:01

and let's be honest that's what most

40:02

mega churches are looking for if we're

40:04

just

40:04

totally honest i mean i'm i want to ask

40:07

the question should mega churches exist

40:09

at all

40:09

like i kind of want to say no i don't

40:11

think it's a very biblical model

40:13

it's not a historical model like you

40:14

pointed out scott should we

40:16

just pull the plug-in megachurches all

40:17

together you know we

40:19

as we were writing the book before it

40:22

went to production

40:23

we had a friend mike bro actually read

40:26

it and gave us really good feedback

40:28

that he felt that we were being a bit

40:30

tough on mega churches so

40:32

we did soften it a bit but the more that

40:35

i read

40:35

and researched about big churches and

40:38

small churches i

40:40

personally have become and maybe this is

40:42

something i need to work do

40:44

my own soul work on but i feel

40:47

very suspicious of mega church mega

40:50

churches and their cultures

40:52

i'm very leery of them and my dad has

40:55

said this and i

40:56

believe the same that it takes a person

40:59

of extraordinary character

41:01

to be able to pastor a mega church and

41:04

not

41:04

fall into the temptation of celebrity

41:08

and feeling more important than

41:10

everybody else and and the power that

41:12

comes with it not

41:13

absorbing that well randy

41:16

you've asked a good question and i think

41:19

i've been asked this 25 times since the

41:22

book has been written on

41:23

podcasts and i have the same answer

41:27

and i'm not wavering on it no i don't

41:30

think the problem is mega churches the

41:32

early church bragged about

41:33

the number of people who were converted

41:35

remember and it was in the thousands

41:38

so they had a little bit of number

41:39

consciousness there but

41:42

the key issue to me is the culture

41:46

and the formation of the pastor

41:49

and the leaders and what kind of culture

41:52

that they're helping

41:53

to form and how

41:57

pastoral the church actually is i can

42:00

remember

42:01

when we were attending willow creek

42:04

um i had a i have a little bit of my

42:08

family a little bit of paranoia about

42:10

every pain i get

42:11

and i wondered if i was having heart

42:13

problems and i remember

42:15

riding on the train in chicago thinking

42:18

man if i die i mean who who would run

42:21

the funeral

42:23

i've never heard this story and i

42:25

thought you know this

42:26

is uh this is an indictment of a church

42:31

because i didn't i mean bill hybels

42:33

didn't know me from

42:34

anybody i think that i would measure

42:38

a mega church's pastoral giftedness

42:42

by the percentage of people who are

42:45

known

42:46

by a pastor type person in the

42:49

congregation

42:51

so you may be in a small group and you

42:54

have a leader

42:55

let's say kyle's your leader his his

42:58

image is big on this screen right now

43:00

he's the leader i know that i can go to

43:03

kyle

43:04

if we have a death in the family or a

43:07

marriage

43:08

or something and i can go to him and say

43:10

can you help us with this

43:12

if if i say geez i gotta go stand in

43:15

line with

43:16

200 other people to find out if there's

43:19

somebody at the church

43:20

who would help my help my with my family

43:22

because my

43:23

my grandpa died i think we're in trouble

43:26

so

43:27

i want to know how pastorally networked

43:29

the church is

43:31

before i'm going to talk about numbers i

43:33

know there are small churches

43:35

that while everybody's name is known the

43:39

pastor is just as authoritarian and

43:42

maybe that's

43:43

that's all the bigger of a church he can

43:45

get because he's such a

43:47

pinhead you know he's uh he lacks

43:50

gifts and he just wants to be in charge

43:52

of things

43:53

so i i'm i'm nervous about

43:56

being too hard on mega churches but i

43:59

what laura said something is very

44:00

important to me

44:02

it takes enormous character good

44:05

to of character to handle that much

44:08

glory

44:09

i mean i've been on some of those

44:10

platforms i've spoken at andy stanley's

44:13

church

44:14

and rick warren's church at bill hypel's

44:17

church i've been on that platform

44:20

it's pretty cool i mean if if you want

44:23

to have influence that's

44:25

that's the platform you know but um

44:29

it takes it takes something it takes

44:32

something special

44:34

yeah laura we've never had a

44:35

father-daughter you know

44:37

guests on on the show and i know that

44:40

there's some there's a really good

44:42

embarrassing story you could tell us

44:44

about dr scott mcknight

44:46

that would you know it would just be a

44:48

gift to the world if it was out there

44:50

not just in your family well okay

44:53

i don't really have anything that about

44:56

him

44:56

but he would embarrass me when we were

45:00

growing

45:00

up dad do you remember

45:04

so our house is between the two high

45:07

school campuses

45:09

okay so as a freshman i would have to

45:12

walk back and forth between

45:14

the freshman building and the main

45:16

campus of the high school

45:18

and my dad would you know what like it

45:21

as a high schooler you're like very

45:24

self-conscious of like

45:25

i don't know your fa your parents

45:27

whatever so i would walk by and my dad

45:30

would be

45:30

in the window like holding up signs

45:33

one time you're holding up a sign like

45:35

hi laura

45:36

or like standing in the window in like

45:39

your shorts when it was super cold

45:41

outside

45:44

i remember him liking to embarrass me

45:47

yeah he also

45:48

we typically go somewhere warm every

45:51

december

45:52

and my dad never i think

45:55

in one time i can remember him getting

45:57

in the water

45:59

oh really what's this and it would be

46:02

like all of us

46:03

all we were just sitting there and all

46:04

of a sudden he was like i'm gonna go in

46:06

the water and we were like what

46:09

and we all like jumped up and took

46:10

pictures like

46:13

okay look i i'm a pretty good swimmer i

46:16

grew up swimming a lot

46:17

so it's not about water it's that

46:22

i don't have any reason to get cold and

46:24

to get wet

46:26

when we go on warm places like that i

46:28

find a

46:29

shade tree and a place that has a

46:32

straight back chair and a place to put

46:35

some books

46:36

and i and i sit there and i read

46:40

i have no interest

46:42

[Laughter]

46:45

except for the one year when he was like

46:47

i'm gonna go in the water and everybody

46:49

jumped up and took pictures yeah that's

46:52

fantastic

46:54

well thanks so much for joining us guys

46:56

this has been really fun

46:57

loved the book it's super important

46:59

everyone listening to this

47:01

should buy it immediately it should be

47:03

as randy said required reading for

47:05

all new pastors i think thank you

47:08

thank you very much i feel a little bad

47:10

because we talked mostly about the

47:11

negative stuff but most of the book is

47:13

about the good stuff

47:14

the positive stuff how to build a good

47:16

culture so

47:18

you'll just have to read and find out um

47:20

you know we've been

47:21

with a lot of interviews here and

47:24

this is a good one you guys have read

47:27

the book you have something to say

47:29

and you know i've been on radio stations

47:31

where they obviously didn't even look at

47:33

the book they just

47:34

had some canned questions and what does

47:37

tove mean

47:38

and well what's what's in the second

47:42

part of your book you know so this is

47:44

we we appreciate it that that you care

47:47

uh i think you're thoughtful and i

47:49

appreciate it very much

47:51

yeah you guys were great hopefully we

47:53

can have you on again

47:54

sometime soon but bless you guys thanks

47:57

again for joining us thank you

48:06

well super fun talking with scott

48:07

mcknight and laura behringer about a

48:09

church called tove this

48:11

really remarkable book and i'd love to

48:13

flesh it out a little bit more

48:14

between the three of us chat about it

48:17

but let's do that over a drink shall we

48:18

kyle

48:19

what are we drinking today yeah

48:21

absolutely great idea so what we've got

48:23

today

48:23

is a straight bourbon whiskey from a

48:27

place in nashville tennessee called

48:29

nelson's greenbrier

48:30

distillery so they make a label called

48:32

bell mead i don't know if

48:34

any of you have ever heard of this but

48:35

they've got several expressions now

48:37

the the distillery is only about

48:40

seven years old or so i think they

48:42

started producing in

48:43

2014 but it's a like a restart

48:47

of a much much older distillery that

48:49

went by the same name

48:51

uh from the night like late 19th century

48:54

so apparently

48:55

in the late 1800s it was like one of the

48:58

biggest

48:58

bourbon producers in the country and

49:01

then prohibition

49:02

shut it down and then the great great

49:04

great grandsons

49:06

of the original owners restarted it uh

49:09

just a few years ago

49:11

and so they're now producing whiskey

49:13

under the label bell mead

49:14

and they're making some some really

49:16

interesting stuff i think uh

49:18

just as of last year they've started uh

49:21

reproducing the original recipe of their

49:24

great great great grandfather which was

49:26

like a

49:27

four-year tennessee whiskey or something

49:29

i haven't tried that one but

49:30

so there's some history to this even

49:32

though it's it's fairly recent

49:34

i've only had i've only had this the the

49:36

straight bourbon

49:37

it comes in at 45.2 percent

49:40

and it's a high rye bourbon like really

49:43

high rides about 30 percent

49:44

rye so really spicy you have to

49:48

have to like that rye flavor but i find

49:50

them really interesting so we were

49:51

trying to do

49:52

tasting shorter and then professor

49:54

whitaker decided to take us to school

49:56

and give us an education about whatever

49:58

this distillery's name is that i don't

50:00

remember don't ask me about whiskey if

50:01

you don't want to hear the whiskey

50:03

let's taste this shall we

50:07

it's got a great nose i think yeah oh

50:10

okay

50:11

you get a little bit of orange on the

50:12

nose

50:14

yeah can you have a full bodied nose i

50:16

was going to say that it just

50:18

it smells and tastes aged it doesn't

50:20

taste young at all

50:21

it doesn't have that new mickey

50:23

sweetness to it yeah no um

50:25

no age statement obviously you know it's

50:27

at least two years old but

50:28

um but it's but yeah it doesn't taste

50:31

new at all it is spicy

50:32

like it brings that that rice spice but

50:35

it's

50:35

full bodied i love the it's dark

50:38

and you can taste it it tastes like the

50:40

barrel i like it

50:42

yeah it's been a dry january and

50:46

so far in february for me when we're

50:48

recording this so i don't know i really

50:49

like it

50:50

i don't know if it's because i haven't

50:51

had anything recently or if it's

50:52

actually that good but it's just

50:54

blowing me away fantastic yeah this is

50:56

uh this is the first thing i've had to

50:58

drink since my

50:59

wisdom tooth surgery which is several

51:01

weeks ago so

51:03

hitting me all in all the right places

51:04

too yeah this is tasty

51:06

they make some they make some

51:08

interesting cast

51:09

finish stuff too like they have a sherry

51:11

cask finish they have a madeira

51:14

finish maybe one other one too which

51:15

i've been looking out for but haven't

51:17

found them just yet

51:19

thanks for the proper pour kyle yeah i

51:21

decided to give you two answers this

51:23

time i'll try to do that again going

51:24

forward

51:25

that's generous much appreciated cheers

51:29

bell mead straight bourbon

51:35

so randy i wanted to ask you this book

51:37

is about

51:38

church culture and you're the pastor of

51:40

a church that

51:41

has a culture and i think it's a very

51:43

obvious culture and somewhat of a unique

51:45

culture and it's

51:46

it's honestly one of the big reasons i

51:48

decided to stay at brew city when i

51:49

visited

51:50

for the first time and you've heard me

51:52

say this before but one of the things

51:53

that convinced me to stick around was in

51:55

my first few weeks there

51:56

i attended a business meeting

51:58

essentially or what you guys call a

52:00

family meeting right it's just still a

52:02

little cheesy but

52:04

at this business meeting you guys were

52:06

talking about stuff i didn't care about

52:08

money and things going on in the

52:10

leadership team

52:11

and there was some disagreement i don't

52:13

even remember what it was about but i

52:14

remember there was

52:15

some rather serious disagreement amongst

52:18

some people there

52:20

but it wasn't like any business meeting

52:22

i'd ever attended at a church before

52:25

because my experience at every church i

52:26

had attended before

52:28

one in particular that i had spent a

52:29

long time at immediately before coming

52:31

to brew city

52:34

like there was no room for

52:37

disagreement with the head pastor that

52:40

was viewed as

52:41

dissension or rebellion if it continued

52:44

right and that's not at all what

52:46

happened at this business meeting

52:48

there was honest open disagreement and

52:51

then like compassionate consideration in

52:53

response and it really

52:55

spoke to me pretty strongly about what i

52:57

could expect from the people in this

52:59

church

53:00

even after just a couple of weeks of

53:01

being there um so you i think

53:04

i don't know how much of it has to do

53:06

with you specifically but somehow

53:08

bruce city has been able to cultivate

53:10

what seems to me a fairly unusual

53:12

church culture so i'm curious from your

53:14

perspective as someone

53:16

who i assume has taken pains to make a

53:18

church culture that's really healthy

53:20

what was it like for you to read this

53:22

book and and was there anything in

53:23

particular that you

53:25

thought maybe could be better

53:28

about the culture that you've formed

53:29

yeah sure

53:31

it's interesting because people ask me

53:33

every once in a while would you ever

53:34

write a book

53:35

or if you would write a book what would

53:36

it be about and

53:38

scott and laura kind of stole the idea

53:40

from me i wouldn't have written a church

53:41

called

53:42

tove but i would have written or i would

53:44

write about

53:45

how to form a church culture because

53:48

i've talked to so many pastors

53:50

so many church leaders and so many

53:51

pastors kids even

53:53

who kind of give me this knowing nod

53:56

saying you got a really crappy job right

53:59

i mean you got to listen to all the

54:01

all the garbage all the bs all the mumbo

54:02

jumbo and people hate you

54:04

and they're they're you know there's

54:06

infighting and all you know all the

54:08

stuff

54:08

and it became a pattern enough to where

54:11

i was like

54:12

no that's not my experience we don't

54:14

have that

54:15

and what i quickly realized was that i

54:18

think too many pastors and church

54:19

leaders don't realize that you can try

54:22

to shape a culture

54:23

particularly if you have a leadership

54:24

team with you

54:26

alongside you that's committed to

54:28

shaping a culture of goodness like

54:30

they're talking about that's committed

54:31

to shaping

54:32

we talk about a culture of honor at our

54:34

church and so that's probably what you

54:35

heard

54:36

me say was you can bring your questions

54:38

you can bring any question

54:40

consider whether that's most appropriate

54:42

in this venue or in

54:44

a different venue but here's what we are

54:46

going to commit to one another to do

54:48

and that's to foster and build a culture

54:49

of honor where we're just honoring one

54:51

another even when we disagree with one

54:52

another

54:53

we tried to build a culture of family

54:55

over and over again and so that's

54:57

probably why you picked up that like

54:58

there's no questions

54:59

no tension that's off off limits because

55:02

that's what family does and we're going

55:03

to act like a family

55:05

so reading this book affirmed that for

55:07

me so

55:08

so much of how i think many times the

55:11

book isn't about this but many times a

55:13

pastor or church leader or the

55:14

leadership team

55:15

are kind of along for the ride of the

55:17

culture of their church

55:18

they're trying to please the culture of

55:20

their church they're trying to they

55:21

it's a culture of consumerism that

55:23

they're trying to feed now

55:25

and they are just along for the ride so

55:28

that's that's a huge part of it but as i

55:30

read this book the biggest thing that

55:32

really affected me that

55:33

made me think and has made me think i

55:36

thought about it today a number of times

55:38

is this reality of the celebrity pastor

55:40

and the narcissistic

55:42

tendencies that people in my position

55:44

can have

55:45

that honestly it's hard not to have a

55:47

narcissistic tendency with for a person

55:49

in my

55:50

my job where you're talking up front

55:52

every single week you're giving

55:54

you're giving yourself to a bunch of

55:58

people

55:58

and that's vulnerable and you either

56:00

have to like be

56:02

an attention slave and and really just

56:04

look for approval from everyone around

56:06

you or you just got to turn into a

56:07

narcissist that doesn't care about what

56:09

people think

56:09

because you know you're delivering the

56:11

goods and when especially when you're

56:13

making big decisions there's just so

56:14

much that goes into the job

56:16

that lends itself to narcissistic

56:18

tendencies

56:19

and that's what convicted me is that i

56:20

see that in myself a little bit

56:22

i know that when left of my own devices

56:25

i

56:25

i could definitely turn into a

56:27

narcissist and i would love

56:29

this culture where everybody praises me

56:31

all the time when i was on sabbatical

56:33

just gone from the church for three

56:34

months i didn't expect that to be one of

56:37

the most refreshing

56:38

things for me as a person and for my

56:40

soul is not hearing every single week

56:43

great sermon oh randy you you nailed it

56:45

this week

56:46

i like hearing that that's a fun time to

56:48

hear that

56:49

affirmation but i learned a month and a

56:51

half two months into sabbatical

56:53

that's toxic for my soul in many ways

56:56

and so is the email that says the four

57:00

points why

57:00

why what you said is theologically

57:02

incorrect that's not good for your soul

57:04

either

57:04

i apologize for that but yeah i mean

57:07

that's what hit me between the

57:09

between the eyes is i have narcissistic

57:11

tendencies and i don't mind the

57:13

celebrity church culture

57:14

that easily happens i mean i was in an

57:16

elder meeting last night where

57:18

when i speak i say things strongly

57:20

usually and especially if i care about

57:22

them a lot

57:23

last night we were talking about

57:24

something that i care a lot about and i

57:26

came through strong and one of our

57:27

elders said

57:28

you can't make decisions just because

57:30

you think that and i was like

57:31

of course i can't i'm not saying that

57:33

i'm just saying what i think but i

57:34

realize that i come off like that and if

57:36

i don't get have strong people around me

57:38

like that amazing woman

57:40

told me last night who is an elder i

57:42

would easily turn into that guy who just

57:44

steamrolls the room

57:46

and everybody says yes to and all of a

57:48

sudden we've got a culture that

57:49

just is a bunch of yes men yeah

57:52

yes men specifically right yeah

57:56

yeah it seems to me like there's this

57:58

constant cultivation that has to be

58:00

there too because as soon as you

58:02

think you've dialed in on something that

58:05

perhaps you look at the churches around

58:07

you and you see

58:08

thank goodness it's not like that here

58:12

and we've intentionally made it

58:13

different and we've we've examined their

58:15

mistakes and

58:16

and we've done something else but then

58:19

that self-righteousness starts to creep

58:20

in and it's the same thing that we

58:21

rejected in the first place

58:22

or the way that

58:26

much of the way that that the message is

58:29

conveyed

58:29

at brew city is because we have somebody

58:34

in the senior pastor role who isn't

58:36

really afraid of what people

58:37

think and that's and if we had somebody

58:39

who was afraid of what people think

58:41

then we would i don't think we would be

58:44

in as healthy a spot

58:46

but then that if that just strays a

58:48

little bit too far out of range then

58:50

then that's playing out in a way where

58:52

like you just laid out it's it's

58:54

unhealthy again and so it seems like

58:55

there's just this constant dialing and

58:57

the moment you try to leave it static

58:59

and say okay we made it

59:01

you're headed the opposite direction

59:02

again yeah yeah i mean

59:05

it's such a fine line and i think what

59:06

scott said about

59:08

what laura said about what scott said

59:10

which was

59:11

in order to pastor a mega church in

59:13

order to to lead a mega church it takes

59:16

an incredible amount of character i mean

59:19

that's just it it's

59:20

such a fine line and i don't pastor a

59:23

mega church i mean our church is 250 300

59:26

people

59:26

but that's enough to make me really

59:28

wonky really quickly

59:29

if we get too high on the celebrity

59:31

pastor culture or

59:33

if we're slamming trash and randy my

59:36

my ego is fragile my wife will tell you

59:38

that and

59:39

it's really easy to get go down a bad

59:42

dark road

59:43

really quickly and stay there and i

59:45

think that's why spiritual direction is

59:47

something that i've discovered that i

59:48

think is absolutely 100 essential

59:51

for pastors and church leaders spiritual

59:53

direction where

59:54

you have a person who's most likely done

59:56

what you've done before

59:58

and they've experienced all the things

60:00

they can resonate and relate to what

60:01

you're talking about and then you bring

60:03

the good bad and ugly of yourself

60:05

not just your pastoral self but yourself

60:07

and

60:08

let it sit there not in judgment but

60:11

in invitation and reflection being able

60:14

to

60:14

dig deep into the reasons behind what's

60:17

on the table that we just

60:18

disclosed and and and showcased that's

60:21

such

60:22

an essential practice for pastors and

60:24

church leaders to have because

60:26

we need we need to have all of our stuff

60:29

there on the table being able to look

60:30

through and look for it i will tell you

60:32

i've never been more in touch with my

60:33

own brokenness than i have in the last

60:34

year and a half since i've had a

60:36

spiritual director

60:37

and that is feels really healthy and

60:39

good

60:40

and uh for our listeners who want to

60:42

hear more about this check out our

60:43

interview with that very spiritual

60:45

director

60:46

mark werner recently released what are

60:49

your guys reflections when you hear

60:51

when you hear about or read about church

60:53

cultures and

60:54

like that quote by rachel then hollander

60:57

of the church being the

60:59

the least safest place in the world to

61:01

to reveal abuse or whatever

61:04

elliott you've worked now in a number of

61:06

churches

61:07

and been kind of pretty high up in a

61:11

number of churches and very different

61:12

churches

61:13

right can you give us some

61:16

hints and tips of what to look for in a

61:19

toxic

61:20

leader perhaps in a toxic leadership

61:22

environment

61:23

and toxic church environment because

61:24

you've been in them

61:29

yeah i have uh it's

61:33

i i think i started to

61:37

become one and that was actually when i

61:39

when i made my exit and i didn't realize

61:41

how close i was

61:43

at that point but looking back i'm so

61:45

grateful that

61:47

circumstances and and maybe some wise

61:49

counsel

61:50

steered us around that it because it

61:53

it's not that i was

61:54

going to become a senior pastor or

61:56

anything like that but

61:57

but the mindsets where i started to

62:00

realize

62:01

that there was there was a large

62:03

audience here and i knew

62:05

which buttons uh to push

62:08

literally in my roles is kind of

62:10

creative and technical but

62:12

uh but there's there's the emotional

62:13

triggers and if you can figure out the

62:15

formula and you've got the platform and

62:17

the people keep showing up because

62:19

you can you can tickle what what they're

62:22

what they're looking for

62:23

and make them feel good about themselves

62:25

that creates this massive amount of

62:27

power

62:28

and in exchange for that experience

62:30

people will offer their

62:32

their affection and appreciation um and

62:35

that is just it creates this high

62:38

and so within those organizations there

62:41

are those

62:42

uh true pastors many of them probably

62:44

won't have the pastor title

62:46

they'll just be kind of among the among

62:49

the people

62:50

they are there but the ones who are

62:52

going to tend to rise to the tops are

62:54

those that are going to be most

62:55

effective at

62:57

i don't think manipulating is too strong

62:58

a word for for what goes on in those

63:01

situations you're

63:02

creating an environment that's designed

63:05

to elicit a response from people which

63:08

in my experience that looked a lot like

63:10

big emotional praise and worship

63:13

experiences

63:15

that where everybody in the room knows

63:17

who actually gave them that experience

63:19

and is really grateful to those people

63:22

that's that's jaded and so i'm hesitant

63:24

to even

63:25

put that out there i think

63:28

what scott expressed was probably a much

63:30

more nuanced

63:32

understanding with much more experience

63:34

and seeing within the the ranks of many

63:36

more

63:37

mega churches but from my perspective he

63:40

was being incredibly generous to say

63:41

that that's a viable structure

63:44

i know there's a lot there's some church

63:47

leaders and pastors who listen to our

63:49

podcast and hopefully that number grows

63:50

and

63:51

you know there's more than i think

63:53

listening but can i just speak to

63:55

the church leaders and pastors real

63:56

quick as we end our time together

64:00

i know the tendency that we have to

64:02

idolize and put on a pedestal the

64:05

the leaders of the big churches right

64:08

whether that's the local leader

64:10

who's just growing and we want to be

64:12

like them but we

64:13

kind of hate them at the same time you

64:15

know um or if that's the

64:17

used to be mark driscoll everyone wanted

64:19

to be mark driscoll we wanted to dress

64:21

like

64:21

mark driscoll we wanted to preach like

64:23

mark driscoll we wanted the following of

64:24

mark driscoll we wanted to swear

64:26

like mark driscoll then you had matt

64:29

chandler or

64:30

rob bell or you know bill hybels or fill

64:34

in the blank

64:35

we've got these people that the church

64:38

world is telling us to emulate and to

64:40

model ourselves after because that's how

64:42

you find success

64:43

and i just want to say pastor and church

64:46

leader i've i

64:47

i know where you're coming from i feel

64:49

your pain

64:50

but can we just look to jesus

64:55

can we just do that can we put the

64:57

celebrity pastor to the side

65:00

can we repent of modeling ourselves

65:02

after a broken culture and can we just

65:05

return our gaze to jesus and lead like

65:08

jesus

65:09

and talk like jesus and make decisions

65:11

like jesus

65:13

and treat people like jesus and

65:16

watch what happens i can't guarantee

65:19

your church is going to grow

65:20

exponentially and you're going to have

65:22

400 baptisms next year

65:23

but i can guarantee that you're going to

65:26

change some lives

65:27

and you're going to have a church

65:28

culture that's beautiful and good and

65:30

you can be proud of

65:31

and it's going to affect you and change

65:33

you and shape your family

65:35

if we just looked at jesus and put away

65:38

the celebrity pastor can we do that

65:43

now we should put some manipulative slow

65:44

music behind him while he's talking

65:48

absolutely

65:53

thanks for spending this time with us we

65:54

really hope that you're enjoying these

65:56

conversations as much as we are

65:58

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66:00

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66:02

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66:10

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66:11

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66:14

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66:16

philosopher

66:17

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66:19

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66:20

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66:22

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66:23

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66:26

thanks again for listening until next

66:28

time this has been a pastor and a

66:30

philosopher

66:31

walk into a bar

66:32

[Music]