Pastoral Politics at General Council

52nd General Council of the Assemblies of God

Sometimes business meetings can be funny in their own little way. Especially when politicking gets heated.

Oh, the hi-jinx of business meetings. I actually laughed out loud at one minor General Council tempest that could have had massive implications for the vote for the general superintendent on Thursday.

During the nomination process, pastor Tommy Barnett from Phoenix, Arizona (pastor of one of our fellowship’s largest churches) announced he wasn’t interested in being nominated as he didn’t want to surrender his pastorate, there came a resolution to clarify language regarding the role of the General Superintendent. (The resolution stated that the GS would be responsible to “cast the primary vision” for the fellowship along with other executive officers, to “provide spiritual oversight and leadership” to headquarters personnel, to “strategically network with other fellowships”, to be consulted when hiring staff at departmental leadership or above at headquarters, and to provide leadership to the Tier 1 leaders [a "Vision for Transformation term" for top leadership within General Council].)

I was greatly amused when some clever young fellow from French Lick, Indiana (I think) immediately proposed an amendment to the resolution, adding “paragraph O”:

“He is not required to reside full-time or resign a pastorate.”

It was clearly a nod to Barnett’s impromptu speech. The reaction of Trask and the room was priceless. At least on the streamed feed. Trask whipped around immediately to confirm with the parliamentary experts that the motion was valid (on the face of it, I couldn’t see anything wrong with the motion itself), the room buzzed with conversation, and several long seconds passed. Meanwhile, I laughed, and kept laughing, and almost fell out of my chair.

The motion was seconded.

Oh, this was good. I’m laughing here because not only did Barnett remove his name from the ballot, but he did so in such a way as to make it clear that by removing his name he was rejecting the politics of Headquarters. Meanwhile Trask had made it clear that while the Constitution and Bylaws do not explicitly forbid a general superintendent from simultaneously pastoring, he and his council of experts were interpreting the guidelines in such a way as to require the constitution to explicitly prescribe this as a possibility. As there is nothing expressly permitting it, therefore, it is forbidden. The timing of this resolution, the immediately proposed ammendment, and the look of shock on Trask’s face left me nearly in tears.

In support of the ammendment, the fellow who proposed the resolution argued that at every Council there is “a parade of men who could ably serve our fellowship, but who pull their names because they would have to leave their ministries — and around the world other A/G leaders provide leadership without resigning their present ministries.”

To counter, another minister took the mic and said, “This is not merely a figurehead position, it requires a great amount of effort — more than full time — every week of the year. What person could in, good conscience, pastor a church adequately and give full attention to fill your office?”

To which there was general approbation and applause, requiring Trask to shut it down. The pastor continued, “And I would wish upon this body that we would realize that the dedication required of the general superintendent would, without reservation, damage his ability to adequately pastor a church — unless, of course, the church simply needs a figurehead.”

Nice parting shot.

Chas Decker from Penn/Delaware retorted, “This bothers me that after hearing how the Assemblies of God in America has declined or stayed stagnant while the rest of the world has grown that we aren’t willing to at least try to be more relevant. I understand your position requires a lot of work, but if I may be so brave as to say one of the discouraging things that has been found in the local church has been the irrelevance to the local pastor and to the local church from Springfield.” Then, to support his argument, Decker noted that “Brian Houston is adequately serving both positions in the Assemblies of God of Australia.” He concluded, “With all due respect, change is not bad. Thank you.”

Then Ken Walters from Southern California was recognized by Trask. Walters said, “Mr. Chairman, I appreciate knowing that you or whoever comes next is able to know what’s going on across this vast nation. With Australia, the population of the entire country is less than that of California alone. You could not preach in my church or any church if you have to pastor your own church.” After a few more words, he concluded, “Being in touch happens better if you are allowed to visit all of our churches in the entire country. I vote no.”

Thomas Moore from Florida at microphone #5 had a point of order that, if he had gotten to the mic first would have prevented the debate from ever occurring. He said, “The original resolution is dealing with the role of the general superintendent in his day-to-day operations — it is inappropriate to place this piece of legislation in this place because that deals with the electoral process and qualifications and not with his role in day to day operations.’

And that should have been the last word, but over at microphone #6 Casey Stafford from College Station, Texas, said, “I don’t know the gentleman that referred to the General Council and the General Secretary as irrelevant. I’ve had several executives preach in my small church at my invitation. And I’ve never failed to get an executive on the phone when I call for counsel — but I have been unable to reach many pastors.”

Naturally, laughter and crowd reaction followed that little slap-down. Which, again, Trask needed to curtail. Casey continued, “I believe that we need executive who can devote their full concentration and time to leading a national organization and not divide it between a national organization and a local church.”

The amendment to the resolution failed. Resoundingly. The resolution itself, passed.

I take my jollies where I can get ‘em.

Rich

(I hope I got the spelling of the above names correct, please feel free to let me know otherwise.)

[tags]52nd-general-council, Assemblies-of-God, assembly-of-god, blogrodent, business-meeting, ceo, christianity, church-culture, church-politics, evangelical, evangelism, executive, general-council, general-council-of-the-assemblies-of-god, general-superintendent, indiana, indianapolis, leadership, mega-church, megachurch, pastoring, pentecostal, religion, reverend-tom-trask, superintendent, thomas-trask, tom-trask, tommy-barnett, vision, voting[/tags]

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17 Responses to Pastoral Politics at General Council

  1. apollos says:

    Ah yes, the session was quite humorous with all the banter concerning the GS position, bylaws, etc. I’m watching it on the live video stream.

    It appears as if no one reviewed their copy of “Roberts Rules of Orders” before the session. I remember the first time I read it many moons ago. It’s an absolutely brilliant book for protocol, but it’s literally like pouring NYQUIL in your brain. If you have trouble sleeping at night, read “Rules” & you’ll fall fast asleep. Hospitals could use this book to induce coma.

    Big kudos to whoever is providing the internet feed, it’s working great. We just need Jack Bauer’s voice saying, “General Council events occur in real time!!”

    BTW, the line out of Vegas has George Wood as a 2-1 favorite…betting closes in 1 minute

  2. Rich says:

    Dude, the Bauer and the beeps would be a most excellent addition.

    “Beep … beep … beep … beep … “The following takes place … between 9 am and 10 am.” Beep … beep … beep … shoom!”

    Too bad Keifer Southerland ain’t A/G. Now he would make a most excellent general superintendent. We could add a tagline to our Assemblies of God banners, reading:

    Our superintendent can kick your superintendent’s … derriere!

    And man-bags filled with tools of mayhem — er — peacemaking — would be all the rage.

    Rich

  3. Deanna says:

    Hey Rich…the funniest thing to me were people who claimed that they didn’t know they couldn’t pastor their church AND be GS at the same time, and had a mid-business meeting revelation about it!!!

    WHAT??!!

    I would think unless one just crawled out from under a rock, they would know this information. My 10 year old probably knows this, come to think of it.

  4. I nearly fell out of my chair, too. It sounds like we got the same amusement out of it. I wish I had been able to go and vote, but I was very happy that there was a video feed. I had to work on Friday (they only have dial-up), but Chris kept me updated via IM’s. We even had his father (another minister) in our conversation. It was quite enjoyable.

    P.S. I have a gravatar. It doesn’t show up. Have you ever seen it work?

  5. Rich says:

    Hi, Elaine!

    I also got a kick out of the pastor who said that during presbytery meetings he’d look around and think to himself, “My, we have a lot of testosterone here.” Then he said, “But then I looked and saw all the gray hair and thought, ‘No, there’s not that much tosterosterone.’” Great fun!

    As for the gravatar, you have to use the same email address here that you used to register at site.gravatar.com … my blog currently doesn’t show you with an avatar registered with your current email address. Maybe you used a different one at gravatar.com?

    Deanna, I fully agree with your assessment. I suspect Lindell was either being a bit disengenuous or he really hasn’t been paying attention after all these years!

  6. The gravatar is under that e-mail address. And I just signed in with it just fine. There was another site it didn’t work on either. I don’t know what is up. It doesn’t help that they don’t have their help page up yet!

    Yes that was funny, too. It’s good when people can laugh at themselves!

  7. Rich says:

    You have to use exactly the same email address when signing your post here as you do on gravatar.com … exact. Case matters, and stray spaces could mung things up.

    For what it’s worth, your email address on these posts is all lowercase.

    Rich

  8. Well, I don’t know if this will work, but I did get the image to show in it’s own window somehow.

  9. Deanna says:

    Rich,

    Just FYI, I went back and watched it AGAIN on the download the A/G made available. Cameras don’t lie. Notice the time between when Tommy Barnett makes his statement about removing his name because he was not willing to resign his church, and the time Lindell gets up to make his announcement. It’s so much time, it’s amazing. I didn’t time it but I know it has to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes maybe more? Suffice it to say it’s a really long time and anytime during that time he could have gone to a mic and asked for clarification, question, comment, point of order, etc. Why did he wait until several votes were taken? He couldn’t get to a platform in time? Does it take 30 minutes? If anything he should have realized, he was way behind Wood and Garrison and wasn’t going to win anyway, so why make the announcement? Why didn’t he just let it go?

    Do you think the announcement was made to smooth things over with his church, in going back to them after the election and not winning – and yet letting his name stand?

  10. Dear George Wood, Pastors and Members of the Assemblies of God Churches,

    Talk about “the pot calling the kettle black”, I find it nothing short of astonishing that Tommy Barnett could even be considered for the position of Gen Supt of the AOG based on this evidence in Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan vs. Scripture book by James Sundquist:

    “Ken Blanchard—the featured speaker at First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix on November 27, 2005. I listened to this sermon on compact disc. I was so shocked and dismayed at the list of false teachers he embraced in this speech, I was compelled to write Tommy Barnett, their senior pastor, who had invited him. To date he has not responded to any of my e-mails or follow-up inquiries. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

    December 9, 2005

    Dear Pastor Tommy Barnett,

    I just finished hearing the CD of Ken Blanchard speaking at your church recently.

    I can only hope you are simply not aware of Ken Blanchard’s

    http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Richard-Foster.html

    http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1093746,00.html

    http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pdym.htm for comprehensive

    List of KenBlanchard’s New Age endorsements

    For complete expose see:

    http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~emcd/index5.htm

    http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/management/blanchard.htm

    Rick Warren’s Global PEACE Plan vs. Scriptural Teachings on Peace teachings and endorsements, including many he touted in his sermon to your congregation.

    The most startling of all was his glowing view of Nelson Mandela. Are you aware that Mandela is a devout Marxist? Here is a quote from Mandela . . . can you possibly think as Christian that Blanchard would be his devotee? “When you don’t feel good about yourself, it is hard to feel good about anything or anyone else. . . . The only way to get out of this vicious cycle is to begin to believe in ourselves. . . . You are a child of God. . . . We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us it’s in everyone. . . . “Don’t wait therefore for someone to tell you how wonderful you are. Just simply believe it, know it! Look deep within yourself. As we get to know and affirm ourselves for who we are, we become aware of the divinity that we share. What better place to find God than within ourselves.”

    I find it equally astonishing that you or at least one wise among your congregation would not stand up and challenge Ken Blanchard’s glowing endorsement of Norman Vincent Peale, a mentor to Robert Schuller, whose heresies are well known.

    Blanchard further endorses, in his sermon to your congregation, Rick Warren (SHAPE), Bill Hybels, and Zig Ziglar, all three of whom promote occultist Carl Jung’s Temperament Divination and Personality Profiling. I proved that Warren is a false teacher in my last e-mail to you. Blanchard also promotes Jung via DISC Profiling, invented by Wonder Woman comic strip author William Moulton Marsden, who used Jung archetypes to create a female heroine who put men in bondage.

    http://www.takeheed.net/news17.htm

    http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/text/peace-un-2.htm

    Blanchard also spoke glowingly of John Ortberg, who signed a letter to President Bush appealing to him to give some of the land of Israel to the Palestinians, bringing a curse upon himself from God to anyone who tampers with Israel’s God-given boundaries. (God has married [“Beulah”] that land to Israel . . . no one else has a right to divide it up . . . read Psalm if you doubt what God will do to those who dare to carve up the land of Israel.) Blanchard also commends Bob Buford, whose account and defense of Mother Teresa (95%) [percentage represents Buford’s idea that she only need 5% to close the gap to 100% between her and the Lord], who saw no reason to convert a Buddhist, is beyond the pale.

    I remain shocked and saddened that you would not know about at least some of these false teachers that Blanchard promotes and endorses. I was compelled to bring this all to the attention of the listeners of Sonlife Radio Network (72 stations), and will continue to do so in the upcoming national radio interviews I will be doing in 2006 exposing Rick Warren’s global PEACE plan vs. Scripture.

    I hope and pray that you take heed to my words and those of Dr. Opal Reddin in her October 27, 2005, open letter of appeal and warning to all Assembly of God churches, which she wrote on her deathbed, one month before she was promoted to Glory. [Dr. Reddin was a matriarch in the Assemblies of God denomination]. I have spent thousands of hours researching these men’s teachings. I also hope that you go before your own congregation and repent for having brought Ken Blanchard to 190 Support for a Palestinian state within the present borders of Israel and at the expense of Israel is also a common view within the Church Growth movement, as evidenced by a July 23, 2002, letter to President Bush containing the following statement signed by John Ortberg: “We commend your stated support for a Palestinian state with 1967 borders, and encourage you to move boldly forward so that the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state may be realized.”

    Source: http://www.northpark.edu/centers/middle/mideast.letter_to_bush.htm

    Rick Warren’s Global PEACE Plan vs. Scriptural Teachings on Peace speak to and mingle with your flock.

    Kindest regards in Christ,

    James Sundquist
    Director, Rock Salt Publishing” SOURCE:
    http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Global%20PEACE%20Plan.pdf

    Now Gary Benedict, President of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination has in like manner as signed a letter with 33 other pastors which is a blueprint for hijacking the land of Israel.

    James Sundquist
    Director, Rock Salt Publishing

  11. Dear George Wood, AOG Pastors, and Member of the Assemblies of God Churches,

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, I find it nothing short of astonishing that Tommy Barnett could even be considered for the post of General Superintendent, as based on the following documentation from my book Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan vs. Scripture, he should have been disqualified from consideration as well as exposed:

    Ken Blanchard Ken Blanchard was the featured speaker at First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix on November 27, 2005. I listened to this sermon on compact disc. I was so shocked and dismayed at the list of false teachers he embraced in this speech, I was compelled to write Tommy Barnett, their Senior Pastor, who had invited him. To date he has not responded to any of my emails or follow-up inquiries. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

    December 9, 2005

    Dear Pastor Tommy Barnett,

    I just finished hearing the CD of Ken Blanchard speaking at your church recently.

    I can only hope you are simply not aware of Ken Blanchard’s teachings and endorsements, including many he touted in his sermon to your congregation.

    The most startling of all was his glowing view of Nelson Mandella. Are you aware that Mandella is a devout Marxist? Here is a quote from Mandella…can you possibly think this is Christian that Blanchard would be his devotee?

    NELSON MANDELLA:

    “When you don’t feel good about yourself, it is hard to feel good about anything or anyone else…The only way to get out of this vicious cycle is to begin to believe in ourselves…You are a child of God…We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us it’s in everyone…

    Don’t wait therefore for someone to tell you how wonderful you are. Just simply believe it, know it! Look deep within yourself. As we get to know and affirm ourselves for who we are, we become aware of the divinity that we share. What better place to find God than within ourselves.”2

    I find it equally astonishing that you or at least one wise among your congregation would not stand up and challenge Ken Blanchard’s glowing endorsement of Norman Vincent Peale, a mentor to Robert Schuller, whose heresies are well-known. Blanchard further endorses, in his sermon to your congregation, Rick Warren (SHAPE), Bill Hybels and Zig Ziglar, who all three promote occultist Carl Jung’s Temperament Divination and Personality Profiling. I proved that Warren is a false teacher in my last email to you. Blanchard also promotes Jung via DISC Profiling, invented by Wonder Woman comic strip author William Moulton Marsden who used Jung archetypes to create a female heroine who put men in bondage).3

    Blanchard also spoke glowingly of John Ortberg, who signed a letter4 to President Bush appealing to him to give some of the land of Israel to the Palestinians, bringing a curse upon himself from God to anyone who tampers with Israel’s God given boundaries. (God has married ["Beulah"] that land to Israel….no one else has a right to divide it up….read Psalm 83 if you doubt what God will do to those who dare to carve up the Land of Israel). Blanchard also commends Bob Buford whose account and defense of Mother Teresa (95%) [Percent represents Buford's idea that she only need 5% to close the gap to 100% between her and the Lord]*, who saw no reason to convert a Buddhist, is beyond the pale.

    I remain shocked and saddened that you would not know about at least some of these false teachers that Blanchard promotes and endorses. I was compelled to bring this all to the attention of the listeners of Sonlife Radio Network (72 stations), and will continue to do so in the upcoming national radio interviews I will be doing in 2006 exposing Rick Warren’s Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan vs. Scripture.

    I hope and pray that you take heed to my words and those of Dr. Opal Reddin [in her October 27, 2005 open letter of appeal and warning to all Assembly of God Churches, which she wrote on her deathbed, one month before she was promoted to Glory. [Dr. Reddin was a matriarch in the Assemblies of God denomination]**. I have spent thousands of hours researching these men’s teachings. I also hope that you go before your own congregation and repent for having brought Ken Blanchard to speak to and mingle with your flock.

    Kindest regards in Christ,

    James Sundquist
    Director
    Rock Salt Publishing

    * Brackets added since this letter was sent in order to explain 95% reference to Mother Teresa.

    ** Brackets added since this letter was sent in order to identify Dr. Reddin for the reader.

    Support for a Palestinian State within the present borders of Israel and at the expense of Israel is also a common view within the Church Growth Movement, as evidenced by a July 23, 2002 Letter to President Bush containing the following statement signed by John Ortberg:

    “We commend your stated support for a Palestinian state with 1967 borders, and encourage you to move boldly forward so that the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state may be realized.”

    Source: http://www.northpark.edu/centers/middle/mideast.letter_to_bush.htm

    SOURCE for entire excerpt: http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Global%20PEACE%20Plan.pdf

    *****
    Now Gary Benedict, President of the Christian & Missionary Alliance has. in like manner, signed a letter to President Bush, with 33 other Evangelical leaders, which is a blueprint and appeal to hijack the Land of Israel.

    So please sound the alarm on His Holy Hill at the Assemblies of God to warn everyone about Tommy Barnett!

    Sincerely in Christ,

    James Sundquist
    Director
    Rock Salt Publishing
    http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/False-Teachers.html

  12. To dispel any notions that Tommy Barnett should not be disqualified for even consideration as General Supt of the AOG, visit:

    http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Global%20PEACE%20Plan.pdf

    Then search for Tommy Barnett

  13. Pingback: The UPCI is not alone in Political Issues - Apostolic Friends Forum

  14. Nate Elarton says:

    James seems angry

  15. Common Swift says:

    I wonder if Pastor Barnett is aware that the defrocked Ted Haggard (a recent addition to his congregation) is now privately soliciting donations from former supporters.

  16. Randal Ross says:

    I have only visited this blog a couple of times. There are a lot of intersting comments but I am concerned. Is there really that much dislike between “mega churches and “small churches? For all the religious nit picking you don’t feel a lot of love here. Sorry, just an old preacher looking in.

  17. Josh Reading says:

    I think it is ridiculous the political nature of the US AG – I am from Australia and our movement continues to move forward because leaders of movements within the movement who Lead in every day life, NOT Administrators Lead the Movement.

    The Leader of the AG wherever it is needs to be an Apostolic style voice of leadership that LEADS not Administrates.

    The US AoG seems way to top heavy, too much head office business rather than leadership that empowers and equips the local church to reach the NOW generation not dream about past victories.

    The people that lead through their active influence due to their churches should be the ones leading – it is a disgrace that men like Tommy Barnett should not be leading the US denomination.

    4 Life,

    Josh

    LifeCity Church Canberra Australia
    http://www.lifecitychurch.com

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