I recently came across an article written by Dave Marriott, pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church titled, “The Threat of Team and the Life Business: A Warning to Fellow-Shepherds”. As honorable as I think his intentions were, he completely missed the mark. I appreciate what he is doing as a Pastor and a brother in Christ, however his poor lack of judgment only gives ammunition to the enemy that loves to see the Church divided.
After reading this article, I could not help but think of that funny grade-school exercise where person “A” whispers something to person “B”, then person “B” whispers it to person “C” and so on.. When it finally gets to person “Z”, the original message gets distorted so much, that in many cases it is un-recognizable. I think this is what happened to Pastor Marriott in writing this article. He claims that, ”throughout the course of countless talks and adequate research” he has identified perceived dangers (which are just negative opinion from critics). Then, without going to the source for clarification (or Person “A”), he gathers data from what I would call Persons “W,X,Y and Z” and then writes his misguided opinions on the internet for all the world to see. I am very disappointed in Pastor Marriott’s behavior in doing this.
Now I am writing this as a lay Christian, but there is plenty of clear teaching in the scripture to illuminate why Pastor Marriott’s behavior merits correction. Before I attempt to answer his alleged violations, here are three points as to why I am so disappointed and why his article deserves rebuke:
1. Seek facts from the source: the founders of Life Leadership
Matthew 18:15 (ESV) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
If Pastor Marriott thought that a fellow brother in Christ was off track (or a group of believers), why wouldn’t he seek resolution with Persons “A” directly?? For example, he could have contacted Orrin Woodward (Chairman of the Policy Council), or Dan Hawkins (another Policy Council member that lives less than an hour from his church) or any of the other Life Founders? This behavior is not acceptable, especially from a Pastor.
2. Resolve differences and misunderstandings with the source: the founders of Life Leadership
Proverbs 11:13 “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, A lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among the brethren.”
Pastor Marriott chose not to seek facts from the source (NOTE: Third party misguided opinions do not make facts). Next, Pastor Marriott chose not to address his concerns with the source. Finally, Pastor Marriott chose to spread gossip and become a talebearer against fellow believers on the biggest mountaintop he could find – the world wide web. This is a deliberate attempt to sow seeds of discord. There is no argument that justifies this behavior and a Pastor does not have special license to behave this way, especially against other believers.
3. Redeeming the time and working together
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
I would like to recommend to Pastor Marriott, to stay focused on what he has been called to do: to continue faithfully serving his flock and the spiritually sick – not spend precious hours attacking other Christians. We are on the same team. Life Leadership, when properly promoted, is a mighty force for good in this fallen world. Why is it that the Christian faith is the only faith where it finds false justification to shoot its own people?
Now, lets speak to his alleged “5 Dangers with the Team and the Life Business”:
Alleged Claim: “The Team is not Christ-Centered in its Approach to Life”.
Rebuttal: Life Leadership’s founders are definitely Christ centered. Sorry if the wheel diagram threw you off, Pastor Marriott! The founders of Life Leadership certainly agree that only Christ alone can transform a life. Pastor Marriott takes a simple diagram and draws this conclusion? Really? The truth is that the core of Life Leadership is practicing the Apostle Paul’s example of MARKETPLACE MINISTRY (Acts 17:16-34).
Acts 17:17 (NKJV) “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”
The leaders of Life Leadership do not hide out in their churches; they are out in the marketplace regularly. How many other business leaders in positions of influence are engaged in marketplace ministry?? How many should be? How many other companies (outside of Life Leadership and maybe Chick-Fil-A) have a Chairman of the Board regularly share his Christian testimony. How many other businesses host quarterly events where the Gospel is shared to thousands of new people – clearly and without apology?
Just in case you don’t understand marketplace ministry, this is where you meet people where they are at first. You get out of your confortable “Christian circle” and connect with people, finding ways to serve them at their level first.
1Cor 9:22 (NKJV) “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
Pastor Marriott continues this article by writing about spiritual growth assuming that Life Leadership does not share his viewpoint. On the contrary, the leaders agree with Col. 3:4, John 14:6 and Col.2:8 whole heartedly. Life Leadership is not a church, it is not the Holy Spirit and it is not some empty philosophy. Life Leadership is actually connecting earning influence in the lives of lost sinners by first serving them. This may even include people that the Christian Church at large have failed to reach. Contrary to what Pastor Marriott claims, the leaders of Life Leadership are actually trying to fill the Churches on Sunday. Instead of attacking this group of brave men and women, why not encourage them in their works? Monday through Thursday nights at the church may be great times to tend to the needs of existing believers, but the statistics show that there has never been a greater need for brave Christians to engage in Marketplace Ministry (and their role in the church is just as important as the believers that attend mid week church events):
Allow me to share some startling statistics:
- According to a 2013 article by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, “more than 40% of Americans say they go to church weekly. Research actually shows that less than 20% are actually in church.”
- According to the same research, “somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year”.
- According to Steve McSwain in the Huffington Post article titled, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore”, “Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the “religiously unaffiliated””.
Life Leadership’s leaders are engaged in helping to turn the tide and use real leadership and marketplace ministry to ultimately lead people to spiritual truth.
The next attack by Pastor Marriott was because of a guest speaker, Oliver DeMille. Again, Pastor Marriott gets his information from a third-party and twists the facts. Oliver DeMille was NOT invited to this leadership conference to join or lead a prayer meeting. He was invited in to share his political and economic research on the founding fathers of America. He was brought in to share principles about what creates freedom in a country, not his spiritual beliefs.
To summarize Part 1, the core leadership team of Life Leadership are constantly praying for God’s will to be done and they are constantly working hard to be a mighty force for good in this fallen world. I encourage you to go to the next live Life Leadership event and see for yourself.
Stay tuned for Rebuttal, Part 2!