Many church members have significant, rational and perfectly legitimate concerns about multiple matters pertaining to circumstances leading up to Pastor Wicker’s early resignation, about how his departure was clearly forced and handled in such an inexplicably abrupt and impersonal manner, and about the series of shortcomings in the official responses from church leadership regarding these matters; all leading to more and more troublesome questions.
Sadly, multiple calls for transparency and outward expressions of legitimate concerns about these events and other issues (in accordance with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18), have been met with unreasonable and openly hostile responses by certain church leaders and staff. Individual church members expressing these legitimate concerns have been repeatedly admonished, mistreated, intimidated, and publicly marginalized. This treatment is alarming, misguided, and objectively unmerited, and has led to deep division within our church. Ironically, instead of promoting any genuine unity, this type of volatile response only serves to foster what many perceive as an unnecessary, unbiblical, and wholly inappropriate spirit of factionalism and intimidation in the church.
Furthermore, this atmosphere of intimidation only serves to undermine the credibility of the supposed unity of the church staff and of the committees. In light of the leaders’ volatile responses, it would be unreasonable to expect that church staff and members of the committees could actually do anything other than tow the “party line”. To make matters worse, this unfortunate dynamic of the presumption of infallibility of our current leaders and committees, the atmosphere of intimidation and the avoidance of transparency only serve to promote further cynicism within the church. All of this is terribly unnecessary and harmful to the staff, the church body and to its individual members.
Instead of leading on this issue, the current church leadership has simply canceled multiple FBCN meetings (in which these issues might have been addressed with the Church in a transparent manner) without any commitment to reschedule. Even when the assistance of a third party specialist was offered to help mediate, the leadership declined his assistance.
Much of this has unfortunately been done under the guise of “unity”. As Christians we can all certainly agree that, all things being equal, unity is good, desirable and certainly biblical. However, a unity that is in error is self-evidently not good and unbiblical. Furthermore, had Jesus placed greater value on immediate unity over righteousness in the house of the Lord, He never would have overturned the tables of the money changers, nor confronted the hypocrisy and error of many prominent and well-respected religious leaders of the day. Legitimate expressions of concern and disagreements with our brothers and sisters in the church leadership, when based on principle and done with pure intentions, should not be dismissed or categorized as “divisive”. We think Jesus’ example of standing on principle is quite clear on this.