Questions for City Bible

The folks from A Year of Sundays are visiting City Bible Church this weekend.

On her twitter feed, Amanda asks if anyone has any stories about City Bible Church, good or bad?

We managed to fill a whole blog with stories from that church, so I do not think we should overwhelm her on that front. However, she also asked if there were any questions we would like her to ask when she visits the boobies on the hill.

I'm throwing this out to you folks. Any questions you would like Amanda to ask when she visits City Bible Church?

You can post the questions below and then I'll point her to this blogpost before the visit.

You can also follow Amanda on twitter feed here.

(Thanks to Pcurtain for the heads up.)

Questions To Ask About Your Church And Pastor/Leadership

We all read them.  Those one time drive by posts about how "no church is perfect", statements saying "my pastor is only human" and the inevitable "our church is great so just get over your bitterness already."  These statements usually stir up those old feelings of anger and take many of us back to the years of spiritual abuse we endured under such ignorance.  I mean let's face it, the issue of bad pastors and mismanagement of money is the main reason why this blog continues to exist.  If CBC and other MFI churches would clean up their act, there would be less need for us to continue.  But every 6 to 9 months it seems like we get another influx of stories about a particular church and/or pastor abusing people.  Over the years we've hit hard on CBC, TCC, CCC, ACC and now we have the awful COTH in the mix.  So for those who make such comments, I've listed a few questions below that a person should be asking about their church and to their pastor. (And if our readers have any good one's they've asked before, please feel free to post and I can add them in).

1. Does your pastor or has your pastor done anything else in life besides pastor? Do they, or have they ever had a "real" job outside the church?

Reason: Usually those that have worked outside the church understand people better and know how to interact with others in the real world.  Also they have some work skills and aren't solely dependent on the church for survival, which is important to the church using its money for other things besides supporting people's livelihood.

2. Is the pastor/church leadership open about the church's financials? How many salaries does the church pay? Where does all the money go?  What are the biggest areas of expense? Are there any outside organizations or charities, apart from the church, the church supports?

Reason: The key to a financially sound church is accountability. If a church is open about it's financials it usually means they are not misappropriating funds.  The more secretive a church is, the more likely there are problems.  If your church does not open the books to the congregation at least once a year or speak openly about where the money goes, you should not be giving your money to them.

3. Do other members feel pressure to tithe?  Are there people who attend your church on a regular basis who don't think tithing is mandatory?

Reason: The mindset of church members is key to determining what kind of church you attend.  If people feel like they have to give all the time, and are fed guilt trips for not giving then it usually means the church is one that makes money a top priority, which in turn means its not a gospel centered church. 

4. Are people free to leave your church as God guides?  Does leadership give people who leave a hard time for it? 

Reason: Leadership that feels like it has to hold onto members and control what church they go to is not good leadership.  Pastors who understand it's God's job to lead peoples lives are the best kind of pastors you can find.  Try telling your pastor (or one of his sidekicks) you are thinking of going to another church and pay close attention to how they respond. If they say, “I’m sorry to see you go, but that’s between you and God not me,” then you probably have pretty good leadership.

5. Is it OK to ask questions in your church?  If your pastor is preaching a message or series on a specific topic (i.e. money) are you encouraged or discouraged from asking questions?  If you disagree with something your pastor teaches, is there an opportunity for you to reach the pastor for clarity?

Reason: Pastors who have a "closed door" policy for members who disagree with them are not good pastors.  Churches that don't foster a democracy but rather run like a dictatorship on a "take it or leave it basis" are generally churches you want to leave.

A Warning About Church Of The Harvest

According to one of our readers there are some problems at Church of The Harvest in Meridian Idaho.

You have no idea how cultish Mark and DiDi’s church is. (Church of the Harvest, Meridian, Idaho).  They are so controlling and they try to rip families apart. This is a serious warning. They try to pull the loyalty away from parents (which is a God-given, legitimate relationship) to the church and the leadership. Things that were said to a friend: “My parents and I are the only thing that stands between you and the wrath of God”, “Your parents don’t love God because they are not in church every time the doors are open – please process this on your own, without your parents”, “You will never be blessed if you leave”, “You can not take any of God’s promises with you that have been spoken over you at this church”, “I’m not even sure you’re saved”, “You’ll never find a church holier than ours”.  Seriously, you have no idea what goes on in that Church. I weep for the destruction that they cause in their wake. The church is so deceptive, they mix so many unsound things with random Biblical truths and the people that are there live in fear. If you ever saw the inside of Mark and Diane Bryan’s church and how it really operates your heart would break. Church of the Harvest is not just a wacky MFI church. These people are dangerous and cruel beyond anything you have every experienced.

Sadly, they view any criticism of Church of the Harvest or the Bryan family as confirmation that they are doing everything right (because the Bible says all who are godly will suffer persecution).  See how twisted that is. They can’t even see what they are doing. They really think that what they are doing is right. They are deceived. Only God can open their eyes. They’ve even tried to control all the negative info on the web! There used to be several places that people could express their complaints about Church of the Harvest, but they bought them and only allow good stuff to be said now (they were public type forums). I never wrote on them, but I did read them and was glad that they were on the web. After reading this blog, I searched again and discovered that they hired someone to “clean up” the first few pages of the google search. Mark and DD Bryan think that if you have any constructive criticism that you are coming against the church and you are a heretic and rebellious. They are vicious.

Some of these people that “get out”, well it’s hard to describe the psychological damage that’s been done to them. They are usually broken, broken, broken people. The emotional and spiritual abuse that happens at Church of the Harvest is shocking. People that come out of their literally have shell shock and what’s that other disorder that people get after fighting in wars? They ask you to violate your conscience over and over again. Many people buy into it hook, line and sinker because it appeals to our natural man. “You tell me what to do, I’ll do it, then I’ll go to heaven”.

It is so sad to see the monster Dick Iverson has created with MFI … and many, many other “churches” that have come out of Bible Temple. The relational dysfunction, the unsound doctrine, etc.  DD Bryan literally feels like they have a new brand of Christianity.

Well here you go current and former COTH members. Here is your chance to voice your stories, frustrations and concerns about the church and no one is going to be able to silence you or take it down.

UPDATE: Wow it seems like there are a lot of people who have been hurt by this church.  We are getting a lot of new bloggers posting stories about that place.  Please remember this is public, open forum blog that anyone can participate in. We only want truthful, first hand accounts of what is going on over there.  Tell your story, from your experience.  Don’t make something up just to tear someone else down.  That being said, I am glad we have provided an outlet for people who otherwise felt they couldn’t be heard.  Blog on!

Profits For Prophets – Its All About The Money

We've had a lot of videos on this blog showing many well known pastors making grabs for money and trying to manipulate and guilt mindless sheep into giving cash to the offering plate.  Here is one I found on YouTube that is definitely worth watching:

I find it pretty amazing that even with an economy in the toilet and tons of evidence out there showing how fraudulent these people are, church goers continue to fork it over. I just can't figure it out.

Anyway, consider this an open video thread.  If you have any good videos to share about the greed and money grubbing ways of some of these crooks feel free to share.  Maybe in the future we can point all the drive by posters who ask "what's the big deal?" to this section.

What is wrong with City Bible Church?

Someone recently asked the following:   

I guess my question would be of the leaders of this blog (which has been a great encouragement to me) is… can they post a statement of what is the false doctrines CBC subscribes to that it might provide me more insight into what to present to my wife (and others if necessary)?

This is a very broad question, and I don't consider myself a leader of this blog, however I am a regular contributor and Catalyst gave me some administrative power (bet he regrets that) so I will address this briefly.  I mean after all, six years of posts and comments is a lot to sift through.  I must also point out though that I only speak for myself and there are likely many on this blog who will disagree with me, but here it goes.

I believe CBC is in the right place with the basics of Christianity.  In fact all Christian churches are really. Heck even the Mormons believe most of the basics. The Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, the Bible, Heaven/Hell…all that is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.  In my eyes, where they go wrong is the method of living as a Christian.  I found that CBC makes the Gospel (Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for our sins) the starting point of being a Christian but our actions the finish line.  (This is in contrast to the Bible, which makes the Gospel the start, middle and finish of Christianity).  CBC tells us you must have faith to come to God, but then actions to be loved by Him.  You must believe in Jesus to be saved by Him, but perform for Jesus to be known by Him.  You ask Him into your heart but He won't dwell there until you show you are worthy enough for His presence.  This is the distortion and falsehood of truth I refer to.  Why?

When Jesus uttered the words "it is finished" He wasn't referring to himself dying on the cross to save mankind as much as He was referring to the fact that the Gospel was completed.  The rat race of performance, penance, and human sacrifice (under the law) was over…humans were finally free.  He fulfilled the law and destroyed all the requirements of the Old Testament.  From then on anyone and everyone were completely covered by the blood of Christ.  Our job is simply to accept it, believe in it, and live for it.  But this is not what CBC teaches.  They say that after the little prayer asking Christ into your life you must move up the spiritual ladder and maintain yourself as a Christian through various forms of actions, disciplines, and beliefs.  You must pray, read the Bible, fast, tithe, separate yourself from your past, disassociate with the outside world, stop doing this and start doing that.  They use scripture like "faith without works is dead" in order to push a philosophy of works and performance as the means by which our relationship with Christ will remain, and our growth in Him will help us move up the level of importance in His kingdom and earn spiritual badges that will eventually put us at the highest level of importance in His eyes.  The better we are, the more faithful we live, the more dedicated to Him we appear, the greater our blessings on earth and in heaven we shall receive.  For the truly great (like Pastor Frank) there will be a place at the front of the crowd in heaven, directly beneath His feet at the throne.  They tell us that because the pastors and elders have spent so many years as active Christians learning in their faith with Bible degrees and the blessings of health and wealth, that they are more accepted by God at a higher level of righteousness, and ultimately more important in His eyes.  This importance gives them a direct line with God and a special mantel of power and authority to speak into others lives and dictate what we should or shouldn’t do.  Then to make matters worse, CBC uses guilt and manipulation to get people to buy into these theories.  They abuse young, innocent, immature people into following their brand of authority, demanding people follow and obey their interpretation of the scriptures and establish a class system of those who do and those who don’t.  And when you are one of those who don’t they barrage you with attacks about your disobedient spirit, unfaithful ways, and hard heart, ultimately forcing you to either conform to their ways or hit the highway.

The falsehood behind this kind of doctrine is that Jesus spent over 30 years on this earth serving with the people, living humble, weak, without riches, traveling from place to place, caring only about healing the sick, caring for the orphans and the children, the widows, and the lost. Jesus preached “come as you are” believe in Him to make you pure, and know that by His stripes we are healed.  He preached our justification is through Him alone.  He had no desire to be a rich king, or a ruling authority on the earth as the Son of God.  Instead he died on the cross to bring peace to us all, so we no longer had to serve God under our own power, by our own means, but instead by His grace.  CBC corrupts the pureness of this by smashing it down into a little box and saying that was great to get you started but now you must put that box on the shelf and start your plate spinning regimen of a quest for perfection to earn a complete place in God’s kingdom.  And should you fail at this quest He will take away His covering of righteousness on you and it will be a long hard climb back to the top of the “holiness hill”.  Being apart of this process creates a level of arrogance in those who are able to achieve such high performance and a sense of failure in those who don’t.  It creates an unhealthy relationship with God, where one views His love for them by how much they prayed or read their Bible that week.  Where one judges the good stuff in their life as a blessing from how faithful to God they are, and the bad stuff by how sinful they are.  People get on that treadmill or hamster wheel of performance, running in circles year after year but really going nowhere.  They tie their whole lives up into the church, sacrificing their own dreams and goals, educational and career desires and pursuits, only to come up short in the eyes of those they so desperately seek approval from.  And in the end, only a small handful of people actually make it to the promise land of God’s chosen on this earth, while the rest of us scrap for the crumbs from the king’s table.

So you see CBC is a breading ground of falsehood.  False theories of work and performance, preached by leaders/pastors who live under false assumptions that they are God’s chosen, and people/members who carry a false belief that they must do something for God to be more loved, accepted and important to Him.

Who are God’s Anointed?

This is a question that comes up a lot on this blog.  And I thought it might be helpful if we as a blogging community determined which people in the world are, in fact, God's Anointed, (aka those whom we cannot harm) and which people are not God's annointed. I'm going to start with my list, but please feel free to include your own "list of anointed" in the comments below.

The following is a list of people who are NOT God's Anointed

  1. Justin Morton (No explanation needed. This also extends to my immediate family.)
  2. Joel Osteen (He's overexposed. Even God's tired of seeing him on TV)
  3. Ke$ha (Her songs all sound the same.)
  4. Frank Damazio (This also includes any pastor afilliated with MFI)
  5. Judah Smith (Does anyone know if Judah Smith has had sex yet? I haven't heard him mention it in a couple days.)
  6. Barack Obama (He's Muhammad's Anointed.)
  7. Lebron James (May you lose every game next year.)
  8. Ben Bernanke (God's 401K has lost a lot of money.)
  9. Sarah Palin (There's an intelligence test required to be God's annointed. She didn't pass.)

And here is a list of people who I believe ARE God's Annointed

  1. Billy Graham (Genuinely Christ-like)
  2. Snooki (God loves The Poof)
  3. Carrie Underwood (God likes country music, what can I say)
  4. Will Ferrill (He was out with Semi-Pro. But God re-annointed him after watching The Other Guys. It's a solid film)
  5. Rick Warren (God really likes A Purpose Driven Life)
  6. Tenley from The Bachelor Pad (God also really likes this show. Who knew He was so into Reality TV?)
  7. Warren Buffet (God has stock options in Berkshire Hathaway)

Updated 8/27
I realize that I don't have any "people of color" on the list of God's Anointed. Unless of course, you count Snooki. But I'm not sure Snooki is even human. (I think she's an angel who fell from heaven.) So, I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a black person that I could include on this list, and then one of the commenters mentioned a name, and I thought, "Of course." So here is the next individual on the list of God's Anointed – #8 Jesus Christ (Yes, Jesus was a black man. Read your history folks.)  

Strippers Protest Outside Church

Not sure how many of you have seen this story, but for the last several years a church in Ohio has been protesting outside a nearby stripclub. The church, New Beginning Ministries, stands outside the club with signs. They also videotape guys going into the club and post their license plate numbers online.  At some point, the strippers had enough and they staged their own protest outside of New Beginnings Ministry, complete with signs and bikinis. 

I was all set to write some snarky comment about how this probably would increase attendance at church or about how much Jesus loves glitter. But then I watched this video of the two women protesting outside, and I was like, "Ouch."  Because, in theory it sounds funny and odd. But in reality, let's be honest, these women need real help. Girls don't get into stripping because they have great homes lives. These clubs aren't filled with Harvard grads and Doctors. Your typical stripper didn't grow up in a warm household with a father who loved her unconditionally. These girls are desperate. And they're likely stripping because it's the only way they can make decent money. And they're probably supporting a drug habit as well.

So why is the church harrassing these girls. Is this really what Christ had in mind when he said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". The church folks shouldn't be protesting outside the club. They should be reaching out to these girls. How many times do you think those girls have been invited over to someone's house for dinner. Or how many times has someone offered to babysit their kids or buy them groceries. You want to stop these girls from selling their bodies, then how about actually helping them find a way out of the situation they are in. Sharing God's grace is going to influence these ladies a lot more than condeming them.

But condemnation is easy. And compassion is hard. So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the church took the easy road.

Why I Continue To Blog On City Business Church

This comment just came in a couple of days ago:

NoStatusQuo: I have been following the blog for a long while, sort of lingering. I am a young woman, attend City Bible Church in Portland Oregon (can’t give any more details at the moment) and at first was completely offended by the posts here. But, I have to be honest… over the last year, I’ve totally begun to agree with nearly everything I read here. Really, I feel like someone who has woken up from a dream. I grew up in the church and have always known it as the only (my) church. I’ve definitely attended others, but it was frowned upon greatly when I left temporarily to try out another church for an extended period of time. I really appreciate what you’re doing in a lot of ways, by offering a chance for us to examine what we’ve always known. I have a lot of things to pray about and a lot of situations to think about, but right now, I honestly feel trapped. I can’t expose who I am, but I wanted to ask you to continue supporting others who have come to realize there is something majorly wrong in the leadership.

NoStatusQuo (and anyone else currently in her shoes) I say get up and run and never look back.  The feeling of being trapped is only in your head.  Yes it's a long and tedious process to shed the years of mind altering brain control that City Bible has on your life, but once you have fully awoken from the dream and your head is out of the clouds, you will finally live your life serving God the way it's suppose to be lived.  So much so, you will ask yourself "why didn't I go sooner?"  That giant weight on your shoulders will be lifted, you will become a new person.  I'll be honest though, you will probably lose some friends and maybe even family (if they go there too).  You may even be asked not to come back (as I was).  Your best help is prayer for strength, advice from others who've been there, a good Christ centered, Gospel preaching church and faith.  Never lose your faith, no matter how difficult the road out can be.  I know a lot of people who spent years (if not their whole lives) at CBC and it takes a good 5 to 10 years to undo all the damage, but eventually you overcome it.  If you do leave, good job…and welcome to your new life!

Never Underestimate The Power of Blogs

A recent post questioned this blogs ability to change anything at CBC (or any church for that matter) and that got me thinking.  I've been so wrapped up in politics I haven't given much thought to the other things that our out there, but I do wonder — how effective are blogs?  In particular this blog?

To me blogs are great because you can comment on what people write, there are no editors (very obvious from all the typos), we can write whatever the heck we want (yeah free speech), whenever we want, and most people do it for free.  Blogs can ignite an issue and spread the word in a matter of minutes.  They have become a force in this country — from politics and religion to stories about family vacations and newborn babies, the power of the internet seems to have taken everyone by storm.  Love them or hate them, it seems like everyone is writing on a blog these days and people are turning out in large numbers to read them.

So what about this one?  Is it really making a difference at CBC and beyond, or are we just blowing smoke up our butts?  I for one know that I have pissed a few people off with some of the stuff I write (even some good friends), but I really wonder if it goes beyond that?  Who are the hundreds of people who read this thing on a regular basis?  Where do they come from?  Why do you choose to read this blog?  I'd love some truthful responses here.

Thus Saith Maestro

Pastor Donna playing a violin prophetically over Pastor Joel

Here is a picture I found on flickr. The caption to this photo said:

Pastor Donna playing a violin prophetically over Pastor Joel 

Now, I'm going to jump to a few conclusions here, and would love if someone who was there could actually clarify…but…

If you ever need proof that these "Conferences" and "Churches" are nothing but hype, see the above caption. How in the hell do you "play a violin prophetically"? What was the violin saying? Was there someone to interpret the Violin Prophet? Do these people even know what the word Prophetic means?

And look at the picture of the Pastor, sitting there as though King David were anointing his head with Holy Oil…it's a violin buddy…it's just music…its emotion…it's all hype. I'm sure it was a beautiful song…but I'm curious what it told him?

Here is my guess to how that all went:

Violin Prophet: Hum, hum, hum, hum…hum, hum…

Pastor Joel: Yes Lord.

Violin Prophet: Hum, hum, hum, hum…HUM!!! HUM!!! HUM!!!! (crowd screams wildly)

Pastor Joel: (Raising hands above his head) Thank you Jesus! I receive this word.

Violin Prophet: Hum, hum, hum, hum. (Pastor Joel begins to cry, Violin is placed back in its case).

The End

Give me a break.