Checking the Boxes

This e-mail recently went out to all employees of Crown College, Temple Baptist Church, and Temple Baptist Academy:

survey1
(click to embiggen)

The link takes you to this survey which apparently Clarence Sexton expects his people to fill out EVERY. WEEK.

survey2
(click to embiggen)

We often talk about fundamentalism being a series of boxes that have to be checked. In this case the metaphor is made literal.

I can only wonder how many employees suffer the agony of falsifying their report because they lack the resources to complete all the requirements and also lack the option to leave. Unreasonable standards eventually make liars of everyone.

220 thoughts on “Checking the Boxes”

    1. Jesus didn’t have to do that for the disciples because they were supermen, not the lazy, good-for-nothing, bums that poor pastors have to put up with these days.

  1. The thing doesn’t even make sense. If these are the goals for every employee, who is the “I” that is trying to emphasize this to the employees.
    And visiting what? Is that a follow up question to the witnessing and visitation question? Is it visiting the church?
    It is like a 3rd grader came up with this.

    1. I agree with you, Scorpio. When I first saw this, it didn’t make sense to me either.

      First he states, “These are four things I AM trying to emphasize to our employees this year.” That’s a declarative statement. So why then are the employees supposed to check them? He said all four are being emphasized. Are you to choose a person to visit and then focus on ONE of those things that will be the focus of your visit? In which case, why not put the check list AFTER you list the name and time of visit?

      I’d be confused if I had to fill this out.

  2. I can’t seem to link to the survey, but it doesn’t take much of my imagination to picture it. “Unreasonable standards eventually make liars of everyone. ” How true is that!

        1. Gee, I just submitted one, for visitation in 1984, under the name George Orwell, and I can do it all over again!

        2. IT IS STILL UP. I’m assuming they haven’t checked the responses yet and don’t yet know that their uber tight security has been compromised.

  3. Support the “Lord’s” work with tithes and offering. Hmm. The employees get paid and then have to check a box to say they will give it back? Yeah that seems legit. Sure it does, because all employees support their employers, right? This kind of stuff creates that weird fundy multiple personality thing. There are so many who are one person when they have to be and another person when they can be.

      1. I wonder how Clarence would like it if you told him you were sending your tithes and offerings to Habitat for Humanity or Bread for the World or the Heifer Project– you know, a group doing the Lord’s work.

        1. None of the ministries you mention are inherently IFB of KJV only so clearly they are not doing the Lord’s work. They clearly are apostates :^) Obviously the Nearly Inspired Version of the bible has warped your understanding!!!

        2. I was 16 or 17 when I saw a sign in a Christian bookstore advertising Operation Christmas Child. I thought it seemed so exciting to buy gifts and pack shoeboxes for needy kids in other countries.

          I was told we could not participate because we didn’t know the churches and pastors in the other countries. They might not be doctrinally correct.

          I was pretty crushed.

        3. I have heard the ”doctrinally correct” spiel so many times. God cares more for a freezing, starving, sad person’s doctrine so much that we are to let that person go comfortless, that’s what Matt. 25:35 and James 1:27 really mean, It keeps coming back to dissonance for me. I knew it was wrong but I obeyed and it finally broke me.

        4. If I were a betting man – I’m not – I would bet that not everyone who was healed by Jesus followed him. Jesus knew that, but He healed them anyway. Maybe jesus issued a doctrinal questionnaire to each person before he healed them, but there is no record of that, not even in the KJV

        5. Yeah but remember when Peter asked Jesus what John was going to do and Jesus said….. oh yeah, he said, it’s between John and me, mind your own business!

        6. No need to bet, Paul, we know the answer.
          Remember the story of the ten lepers?
          Only one even came back to thank Jesus.

        7. Then there were the Gadarenes, who kicked Jesus out of town after he exorcised a demon from one of their people.

        8. “I knew it was wrong but I obeyed and it finally broke me.”

          Miriam, thank you for voicing succinctly what is in my heart. For many years I suppressed my inner conflict with the things I knew were wrong in fundamentalism. I went along. I told myself I was trying to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. My wife encouraged me to be “okay,” to keep going for the sake of the children’s programs, for her fellowship with her friends.

          The more I stayed, the more hurt I felt. One can only stand that sort of thing for so long. I stayed in way too long. My wife and daughter are still there, and the deleterious effects of it continue.

        9. RTG, the break hasn’t healed. It has begun but some broken things can never be made right and certainly we will never get back those years or gain the lost potential. Thinking about my family makes me so sad. I am one of seven children and only three of us have escaped. The others are in so deep, I don’t know how they could ever get out although I have seen cracks but they are so quickly hidden. The children break my heart. I am really sorry your wife and daughter are still buried in it, too.

        10. Big Gary, re: the story of the ten lepers, the only one who came back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan, regarded by God’s Chosen people as a Reject, an Outcast…..

  4. As usual, a fundy Under-Lord exercising his small fish/smaller pond neurosis. I wish some of these guys had just got a decent education from a real institution and gone into business or something. At least then they wouldn’t have to paper over their greed with God’s name.

  5. “The high road is not choosing between the good and the bad but choosing between the good and the best and always choosing the best. The Christian life is the unending pursuit of Jesus Christ.” -Pastor Clarence Sexton
    There you are, the Centre of God’s Will. What happened to resting in Jesus as per Matt 11:28?

    1. I remember that “good vs. best” well: Today should be the day you are closest you’ve ever been to the Lord, but if you are still in the same place with Him tomorrow, you’ve backslidden.

      Rephrased: today’s center of God’s will is tomorrow’s sin of complacency.

  6. “When will you be visiting?”

    Ooh, future tense. So an employee could just say when he was sort of hoping to maybe visit if other stuff doesn’t require him to do something else – and not be a liar?

    (just noting the loophole)

    My former Fundy managawd required an activity form advising the actual number of visits and calls made, cards sent, services, etc. FOR VOLUNTEERS. If you failed to turn it in, the head of the dept. you volunteered for would ask you about it because they had to give a public account for their dept in front of the entire congregation before each Sunday evening service.

    It was oppressive and ridiculous.

    1. Everyone in the church who did anything (SS teacher, ushers, choir members, sound technicians, video people) were required to fill out forms indicated the number of hours one spent in “soul-winning”, how many times we went through the plan of salvation, and how many people were saved.

      Purely for statistics, they said, but if you didn’t fill them out, they came after you.

      1. Exactly, all those categories. And yes, they were very, very important to the pastor. Every victory night there would be a booklet with all the annual stats on a bar graph, comparing to prior years.

  7. This doesn’t make sense. Weren’t the employees already supposed to be doing these things on an ongoing basis as part of their qualifications for employment? So why the “re-certification?” They must think their employees are a bunch of backsliders! Says a lot anout the working conditions…

        1. Leon Trotsky might have said he would be visiting between 3 and 6 at the Moloneyville Rd facility. (Sheriffs Dept detention facility in Knox Co, TN

  8. I worked for two, thankfully reputable, Christian organizations. Never was I required to fill out something as ridiculous as this! We did have a “contact” survey, monthly, for one of the groups. But, it was submitted anonymously and the stats were collected to make sure that we were serving (in terms of meals, homeless housing, etc.) the people we said we were committed to.

    I wonder what Sexton does to the workers who don’t send in the form?

    1. At our church, the secretary first noted that she hadn’t received our paperwork. Then, the dept head came down on us. Then, depending how important you were, the pastor would talk to you. You would be dismissed from your position if you didn’t follow the rules (that was the threat).

        1. Ayup.

          I’ve had the pastor tell me “I don’t see how I can keep you in ‘X’ position because you are not doing “Y”.

          But he left me in the position all the time I was there.

        2. He also said that it wouldn’t be fair to others if they asked how come I did “X” without doing “Y”.

          If I had been smarter (more sarcastic?), I would have replied: “I thought everyone did ‘Y’ because they loved the Lord, not to hold their position.”

          Or “Wouldn’t it be wrong to do ‘Y’ only for the sake of doing ‘X'”?

    1. Unfortunately you hit the nail on the head. I’ve worked for these “ministries”. When cash is low and attendance is down, the hammer drops. Look at West Coast, it’s a sales machine. Unsaved people are treated as and called prospects. Chappell is on his staff to keep selling and always maintain a healthy pipeline of prospects. That is disgraceful. He uses the same tactics and terms I use for my job as a sales manager!

      He gets mad at his people when he looks over on a Sunday morning and no one is lined up to be baptized.

  9. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my fundy parents in the past began giving their offering in cash, because they suspected record-keeping wasn’t as private as they expected. Sure enough, in the following weeks they received several not-so-subtle hints about tithing appropriately.

      1. I’m trying to figure out how some could possibly steal $60,000 in cash in a calendar year. That’s about $1200 per week, which is 6,000 $20 bills – it’s not like he is slipping 6,000 bills into his pocket.

        And don’t deacons count TOGETHER to prevent this kind of thing. I’ve counted money, and there were always at least one other person.

        1. GR, your reasoning might be a bit off. Five $20 bills equals $100, so twelve times that many would equal $1,200. Sixty $20 bills would still be quite a wad, but not impossible to smuggle out of wherever the money was counted. If you can do that every week, you’ll end up stealing a bundle. Maybe the other deacon took a regular bathroom break?

        2. No, I figured it’s twenty $60 bills. That’s manageble if you’re wearing a polyester suit. 😉

        3. Yes, we were told the money was always handled by at least two deacons and no one was left alone with the money.
          It is just my personal suspicion, but had his employer (NASA) not conducted an internal investigation, this might never have been “discovered”. If no one saw a deacon shoving cash into his pockets each and every week for like 4 years or so…well, no one was watching very carefully.

      2. That, and not getting the tax deduction. In this particular instance, I think it was a temporary thing to confirm suspicions more than anything. They’re no longer at that church, but alas, they just moved on to another fundy church-like machine.

        1. Not once but twice, a man I knew casually walked out with the collection plate, all cash the Peebs don’t do anything else, at a large Bible conference. He just sat in the back row and walked out with the cash. Wrong, but you have to admire his uh, initiative. He got to do it the second time because he asked forgiveness after he had spent the first lot. Another things Peebs don’t do is police and he knew this obviously.

        1. Well, he “forgot” to report his criminal monetary increase to the IRS, so got some prison time for that too.

  10. In my former fundy church we were often subjected to a sermon during the month of August on how we intended to “serve the Lord” in the coming year. This came complete with a checklist of church activities which we were to fill out and place in the offering container. But always, the activities were in the context of the church itself. Obviously, one did not “serve the Lord” outside the church doors and “giving to the Lord” always meant giving to the church, not to any service organizations which might include “liberals” or non-Christians such as the local food bank.

    1. So the four Habitat Houses I helped build through a program at work don’t carry over? Or any of the conferences in which I taught with a para-church organization outside my own church?

      I already knew my trips abroad didn’t count, because I wasn’t “church planting” per se. Teaching or building or repairing things aren’t as important as yelling from the streetcorners and pushing tracts.

      1. I’m sure caring for orphans doesn’t count either. Guess I’ll have to quit taking in kids so I can spend more time knocking on doors and interrupting family dinners.

      2. Building things in heathen lands is good. You can come back anytime, UW, once you’re done visiting your flown nesters. But yeah, I’m apparently a librul missionary now–just lost a fundy supporting church this week.

        1. I would very much like to head south and visit you again. Sorry to hear about the support loss. Probably because you don’t teach KJV English to the Ticunas.

        2. You know, my church in Costa Rica sent missionaries to Queens, NY. There seems to be more heathens in one square mile there than in all of Costa Rica.

      1. Yeah, the Peebs have these things they call “Brother’s Meetings” at which finances are discussed. The one time my husband spoke out was to suggest buying blankets and thermoses for a local men’s shelter that was trying to cope with record low winter temperatures. Homeless men where freezing to death on the streets and in abandoned buildings. He got a dressing down and the money went to a “labouring brother” who took his whole family to England to “encourage the Brethren” there. I am sure that’s what Jesus would have done.

        1. Man, you’d have to have an unbelievably cold heart to refuse to buy blankets for people who are freezing to death.

    2. To be fair, I don’t think this is just a fundy thing. Our Lutheran church recently finished a series on “giving” – focused not just on money, but also time and talent. This concluded in December with encouraging regular attendees to complete “commitment cards” for 2015.

      I have mixed feelings. As a trustee of the church I know the reasons for the focus – a very small percentage of the church members account for a very large percentage of the overall budget, for instance. Our outreach programs could be far more effective if every member gave anything regularly. The commitment card part, however, doesn’t sit well with me. I didn’t fill one out.

      1. I should point out that the statistics on who gives what are presented to the pastors and board in a very sanitized format. Obviously someone has to see the numbers, but in our instance it’s only the business manager.

  11. Remember…”3 (services weekly) to thrive” & don’t ‘tip’ or ‘rob’ the Lord! 😉 Typical mandate whether it be IFB or SBC, etc. No doubt most of these MOGs want those pews filled so they can start the next ‘building fund’, etc. No person sold out to preach/teach God’s Word need ANY fancy building or frills to carry out the Great Commission. Furthermore, these hirelings need to hold down a full time job & earn their $ like the rest of us.

  12. I’ve been out of Fundystan for a long time, but I remember my church trying to get high school students to sign tithing cards and faith promise cards for missionaries. Pretty scary when you are getting $2.00 a week from your working mom to cover bus fare and lunches for the week. Anything extra that I had I earned babysitting.

    1. I can remember tithing on my $1.50 allowance.
      I don’t know what the church did with that 15 cents, but the church office sent me reminder notices when I failed to remit it.

      1. Maybe it bought a stamp back then?

        I think it’s important to teach children to give, both to church and society, but not to make them fill out forms. You lose all the joy of giving from the heart.

      2. No, Big Gary, say it ain’t so!

        No wonder you’re bitter…

        OMG…Oh My Gosh, I really can’t believe that you received a reminder notice as a kid?! Are you just kidding, or did that really happen?

        I must be naive.

        B.R.1

      1. I tried to be clever a couple of years ago, and sent an email to my (now former) IFB pastor through an anonymous email client. He apparently looked at the routing information and discovered which servers it went through, and found it came from somewhere that only I worked. My email was a complaint about how he and his wife always bought nice new things, ate at fancy restaurants, and took nice vacations, while my family and I scraped along. I also went on about how tithing is scriptural for the modern church, etc. He replied back accusing me of trying to hide my identity from my pastor, and said he’d be happy to discuss it over coffee, and asked how else is a church supposed to get money. He called me the next day or so and asked if I had sent it. I said, “I don’t think so”, and that was pretty much the end of it until May 2014 when I guess he finally had enough of me not tithing and yet still running the sound booth. He called me to a back room along with a deacon, challenged me about not tithing, and asked me if I had sent that email. I said yes, and he said I lied to him, and that email really hurt. I said I was sorry for lying and would step down from sound if he wanted. He said of course he wanted me to, and then fired my wife from cleaning the church and from teaching Sunday school. We went back that night to say goodbye to some people, and that was the end of our stay in Fundystan.

        1. He made it all about you and conveniently avoided the problems you had brought up, along with the fact he had made himself so unapproachable that a member had to send an anonymous email to even dare bring it up.

          Glad you are free of that jerk.

  13. I “worked” in the bus “ministry” at Highland Park BC (Chattanooga) when Clarence the Blowhard was running it. Every Saturday a.m. he had his board up (a poster version of a spreadsheet), with a row for each bus route. The columns were labeled “S”, “B”, and “SB” and stood for “Saved”, “Baptized”, and “Saved & Baptized”. It was all about numbers. Looks like Clarence hasn’t learned anything in 35 years.

  14. Is anyone really surprised? Everyone with whom I have spoken who has worked for Clarence Sexton has said he is a control freak with a temper. You know, fruits of the spirit and such.

    Are we at the point yet where these colleges realize that they are dying out and that God never commissioned people to out and start bible cawledges anyways?

    Crown College, take your worthless national accreditation and do everyone a favor by shutting the doors. It is a waste of money simply to fulfill one man’s vision set forth by pure jealousy that he wasn’t handpicked to take over as king of Tennessee Temple.

  15. Well, now, brother, that was a divine lead in to an out-of-post-context message…

    “Is anyone really surprised…a control freak with a temper. You know, fruits of the spirit and such.”

    Sometimes former fundies can’t seem to shake some learned behavior. Boz of GRACE (of the BJU GRACE Report) responds to some “bizarre” credibility reducing choices of the Truthers.

    http://www.romancingvictims.net/boz.html

  16. Ah yes, the “accountability” sheets. Reminds me of my days at Texas Baptist College under the legendary & monumental IFB douche, “Dr” Bob Gray, (no, not THAT Bob Gray, the “good one”)

  17. It’s all “do, do, do.” Even the first one, which could have potential, is focused on filling out a checklist – “Did you have devotions?” – instead of being transformed into being like Christ.

    What a breath of fresh air it was for me to stop focusing on lists like these and start just LIVING the fruit of the Spirit.

  18. “Brother Billy, thank you for declaring your intent to support the ministry with tithes and offerings.

    As you know, the Lord has called us to be faithful. That is why we are asking you to let us direct your employer to route a tenth of your paycheck to the church’s account. You may, of course, add to this amount.

    If you decline this offer, it will not affect the good will and the fellowship you enjoy in the church, but potential leaders of the Body of Christ need to show that they are accountable to God in the ministry.

    Below is an link where you can upload your most recent tax statements. Be assured they will remain entirely confidential within the ministry team, their spouses, their friends, and any hackers who occasionally get into the church computers.

    Remember, openness and honesty are qualities God prizes!

    1. “Remember, openness and honesty are qualities God prizes!”

      Unless you want to know exactly how much money the mannogawd is taking out of the church and school, or how much of the church’s resources are being used in enhancing his “outside” income. They might give you a partial answer, but rarely if ever a complete one.

  19. These people make me sick. They claim favor with God and yet don’t demonstrate the grace and freedom that is in Christ.

    I need to dwell on something more…uh…Christlike.

    B.R.1

  20. What exactly would be ‘reasonable’ requirements for someone who after all, makes their living full time in the ministry? I would think something at least approaching full time work for full time pay. And without some sort of accountability in place (not that I think this form is anything worth defending) how do the people (whose tithes and offerings pay your salary) know what you do all day?

    1. My response based on my 15 years in fulltime ministry here and overseas:
      -Monthly activity reports that include self-evaluation (not micromanaging every ministry “step”).
      -Team meetings in which you discuss your successes, challenges, effectiveness and spend time praying regarding the ministry.
      -If certain daily or weekly stats need to be kept (like attendance, for example), then they can be submitted on a daily basis, but they go to the admin assistant, not to the “boss.”

      Pastor Sexton’s attempts to micromanage the ministry lives of his employees is, in my personal opinion, a form of over-reach and intimidation.

    2. Michael – What exactly is their “ministry”? In the real world what these people do is called a job. And anyone who is doing a job is compensated by the employer for their time by being paid. In return the employer gets the services provided by the person doing the job. And I would venture to guess that the pay is much lower than someone in the real world.
      What this form is requiring is for people to go above and beyond what is required of them to do their job. And it is done in the name of Christ.
      And let’s not forget that the people who work here are also paying the pastor’s salary. This is nothing more than humiliating the people who are in bondage to this place.
      What question/item on that form allows the people to do their jobs better? None. This is nothing more than a guilt trip by a money-hungry power-freak.

    3. Michael, my understanding is that this form lists demands that Sexton makes on his employees *in addition* to their full-time jobs, not as part of a 40-hour work week.
      Someone please correct me if I am mistaken.

  21. Fundamentalism is all about arrogance and control. It is quite arrogant to think you can dictate things like devotions and tithing on your employees. And this check box and state when you plan to visit thing is so big brother–which is odd. The fundamentalists I know are very libertarian in their politics. I guess they only like having freedoms to themselves and being big brother. If they have to share their freedoms or someone else gets some amount of power it seems that is the epitome of evil….

  22. My first and only Sexton experience/encounter took place when I was with my church youth group during a college visit in the fall of 1999, I believe. Sexton must have taught NT Survey or some basic class to all the freshman. Some poor kid walked into that class 10-20 minutes late…and for who knows why. He got to his assigned seat which was about halfway back in right on the end. Sexton stops “teaching”, walks up to this kid and yells at him for “being late, not being prepared for class, being disrespectful to him and his other classmates, etc.” This went on for well over minute but it felt like an eternity. Completely out of line and uncalled for. His temper was evident that morning. Thank God I never attended that hot mess of a “college.”

    1. I actually have a Ralph Sexton DVD where he predicts the rapture will happen in 2011 based off…umm…yeah…anyway. If I was ever so foolish as to try to predict something, I would feel obligated to refund everybody’s money that bought my DVD when my prediction failed to pan out.
      I also have Ralph Sr’s autobiography which really is an excellent read.

  23. I am always interested to see my alma muttermuttermutter on here!

    Re: Sexton having a temper. Yes. I was never the target (I was good at not getting caught) but I saw him unleash it on others over the slightest provocation.

    It is an odd feeling for me now that I’m out of that mess. I work in my church in my spare time because I love God and I enjoy it, not because someone is checking up on me.

    Btw, the document is still active and Heywood Jablomi has filled it out several times.

    1. In my experience, most IFB pastors have quite a temper on them. Could be the narcissist in them, and the controlling nature I’ve seen that causes it. They are pretty much all psychopaths.

      1. I’ve seen a lot of angry men in the IFB. Is it because there’s so much fear, and when people are afraid they get angry? Or is it their arrogance and pride that then turns to irritation and anger when people don’t fall into line?

        1. I would say there is a great deal of both. I think there is a great fear of the changing world around them. They find it incomprehensible. They are unable to comprehend its scope or foundations, and to them it is almost as if the change in society was somehow instantaneous. “Poof! Satan is among us!”

          There is anger, first at God for not preparing them for the Devil’s onslaughts. God is not smiting the heathen as He promised. Jesus hasn’t come yet, and they have given Him plenty of opportunity. Science is delving into things only God should be allowed to comprehend, and people are actually achieving rights and being allowed to think and speak freely. What a travesty! The Constitution only allows “Christians” freedom of speech and worship, after all. Fortunately the Constitution does not allow freedom of sex, and they figure that channeling enough of their anger’s energy into politics *might* correct what God has carelessly allowed.

          There is anger at the world, of course. Somehow people aren’t listening to God’s Message coming out of their mouths. Why can’t people see the truth? Why won’t God send fire from Heaven to validate their message? But those ignorant people basking in the love and mercy of God will find all that gone one day as they begin roasting in the fires of hell. They can almost hear the screams already! Sweet!

          And there is anger at themselves. Somehow they are missing out. It can’t be them — but what if it is their own fault? Why is the world so mysterious? Why do they feel so much shame when someone mocks their ignorance? Of course, the remedy is not to learn about the world, but to double down on trust in what they perceive as God and in how they interpret what they believe are the Scriptures.

          At least in the kingdoms of ignorance and fear they create the anger and loathing is directed toward the outside world, not at them! There is the haven they need, the solace they yearn for, the refuge against the Chaos outside.

          And they sit in their chairs at their computers looking at porn and Bible web sites to compose their latest sermons, spittle dribbling down their jaws as they say in wonder, “Wow. Duh!”

        2. Anger is treated as a virtue in the IFB.
          The shouting, screaming, jumping-on-the-furniture, spit-spewing sermons are regarded as the most inspired.
          And the preacher who denounces liberals, gays, pants-wearing women, and men without neckties most vehemently is seen as having the highest standards.

  24. At my job, we had to fill out a weekly form listing a number of things we were supposed to count. Almost everyone made up the numbers because 1) they either didn’t apply but we had to give a number anyway or 2) we didn’t have time to do the tasks.

  25. I kind of feel sorry for the underling who has to compile the results of this week’s responses. The same way I feel sorry for the poor clerks who have to process payments when some wiseass pays their tax bill with pennies.

    But then I imagine it’s someone who hates having to do the survey too and they get a big kick out of it. It’s fun to imagine them taking pains to compile the names and comments exactly.

  26. Why is it just “Pastor” and not “the pastor”? I hate this need to reference a pastor as “pastor” or “preacher” rather than just calling them by their name. Especially when you don’t even use the name after (as in “Pastor Smith” instead of just “hello, Pastor”). Also, it sounds too close to “Master” for me.

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