Starts with a preacher-boy
My wife and I desired to help a recently married couple and gave them a couple of documents that would help them better understand their roles within the marriage. The one given to Ben Wiebe, a preacher-boy in another IFB church, described his role including his spiritual responsibilities to his wife and future family.
While not the direct intent of the document, he began to look for validation of the ‘pastoral authority’ claimed by his pastor. Late one evening he asked the assistant pastor (the senior pastor being out of town) for clarification on the subject. His mannerism was quiet and sincere, but the question was not answered that night.
Instead, the following morning and without notifying my friend, the assistant pastor notified all of the men in the church that this young man was into heresy and was to be handled with care.
Then some meetings
Once the senior pastor returned, he asked what had caused the question and found out that I had passed on some information. This preacher then notified my preacher who called me for a meeting in his office.
The meeting with my preacher was quiet and reasonable. We discussed the document and found that the only point of contention was the style of church leadership advocated by the author. I don’t remember him making a big deal of it. We agreed that we should meet with the preachers and my friend to see if we could diffuse this situation. It all seemed quite harmless.
The meeting was in the home of the asst. pastor and the women were excused when we arrived. There were 5 of us in the living room as we discussed the problem. I attempted to explain that there really wasn’t a problem and the entire situation simply wouldn’t have occurred if the asst. pastor had taken the time to answer the question. As I began to lay out the timeline, the senior pastor quickly got out of his seat, yelling at the young man next to me about something completely unrelated. I let him finish his rant and then turn to my friend and advised him to apologize for asking the question. My preacher agreed with my advice. Ben did just that, and also gave a carefully worded apology to the church the following Sunday.
What I noticed
I have two major issues with how that meeting went down: 1) it was okay for a man in his 50s to yell in anger at his own preacher-boy, and 2) my preacher didn’t think twice about approving and accepting a completely pointless apology. Don’t get me wrong: yelling is a tactic used in combat situations to mess with the opponent’s mind. I get that. I also know that the apology for asking the question was sincere, but it didn’t address the core issue: the young man’s question still remained unanswered. Although it wasn’t spoken out loud, everyone in the room knew this.
I hoped to improve the situation
During a discussion with my preacher in the days that followed, I expressed a desire for him to get to know me better. I thought a healthy relationship between the two of us would help him understand that I really didn’t have anything against him or his methods (boy was I ignorant!) We went out for lunch one day and he spent the entire time quizzing me about what was going on in my life that could be improved by a better relationship between the two of us. I let it slip that I didn’t think that Ben would last much longer because of how the situation was handled. I pointed out that his question remained unanswered. I didn’t say much else except to say that we really didn’t know each other personally and I would need time before I could really share my unpolished opinions with him.
I never got that opportunity with him again.
(I wasn’t aware of this until much later, but only a few days after my lunch meeting, Ben’s pastor told him that God had spoke to him saying, “Travis is a snake in the grass.”)
It was now evident that my preacher didn’t have any intention of helping me work through a few questions of my own, so I began looking at other options for fellowship.
It took a few months, but we found an option that looked like it would work, so we quietly ventured out on our own.
Rumors spread; had a deacon corner me - at a funeral no less - and make accusations, so I wrote an open letter to anyone that would read it. I did my best to not wrong anyone and I had to do my part to set the record straight.
What remains is public
I have copies of the emails and documents that went back & forth shortly after. I’ve been told that the letter written to me from the preacher was also read to the congregation. Feel free to read them. They speak plainly to the events shortly after leaving the meeting place at Pembina and First.
What happened to the preacher-boy?
He left the IFB church about the same time I left. He asked me to make sure the reader understands that he is no longer affiliated with that debauchery.
Administrator note: Feel free to ask direct questions in the comments section, Travis can answer them directly.