More on Church Pirates

ed young

I posted on Ed Young’s Church Pirate rant a couple weeks ago and we had some discussion here about it. I’ve also gotten a few emails about it. I commented on Ed’s blog and of course I was moderated, buh-bye! Now Christianity Today has picked up on the trail, and they’ve got some interesting comments going over there. Just wanted to keep y’all informed. I think this is a very interesting discussion. Some additional thoughts.

  1. I still respect Ed Young as a leader and pastor, remembering that he is still just a man
  2. I still think his choice of language makes me want to gag
  3. I think that leaders who find success become fearful of losing (anything)
  4. I think that there’s enough lost people (and money) for anyone who wants to plant a church, especially in America
  5. I think that we’ve got WAY bigger fish to fry

Here’s another fun post on the subject.

10 thoughts on “More on Church Pirates

  1. James McLean


    this was my fave comment from the Christianity Today blog:

    “Ed, if I understand you correctly, you are pissed that church planter A is “stealing” “your people, money, etc”?

    Get over yourself. It’s not about you and “your church” It’s about Jesus and His Church. Maybe some of these planters/people have some issues to work out, I don’t know. I do know that comparing a church to a business tells me that you DO NOT get it.”

  2. Steve Eller

    Have you checked out the comments on Ed Youngs post? Obviously they are moderating out the opposing viewpoint.

  3. Scott Fillmer

    I don’t totally disagree with what he is saying but I don’t like it when blogs/sites moderate out views they don’t like. That is not a discussion, that is a statement.

    If you want to have a meaningful discussion you need to hear both sides of the argument and then you can make an intelligent decision on your own about where you stand.

  4. Jay Sellers

    I personally would have left when they started using fuchsia as the primary color on the stage background with red carpet on the stage floor.

    How can we reach people for Christ when we can’t match primary colors in our design scheme?

    Seriously though, hasn’t Pfizer seen enough evidence to suggest that they should develop a Chill Pill just for megalomaniacs? I’m sadly waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one. The Big Brother Is Watching moderation technique at his blog suggests that we’re witnessing the tip of an iceberg emerge.

  5. Karl

    “How can we reach people for Christ when we can’t match primary colors in our design scheme?”

    Okay….now that was awesome!

  6. alex

    Yes Karl, Jay is extremely gifted. You guys would get along great – his moniker is “thetoneguru”. And Jay – you are SO right!

    Steve & Scott – I agree, he’s not interested in a discussion. But why would he be? He’s got a lot more to worry about then us little people.

    James – that was an amazing comment.

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  8. Josh Myers

    I orginally found this blog because I was researching CCB vs. ConnectionPower (we are currently leaning towards CCB), but I stumbled across this post about Ed.

    Five years ago, my church started a new church in a new, fast-growing part of the city, and one of my good friends was sent out as pastor along with 100 of our people. We also sent out another man to be small groups pastor along with him. The church is young and relatively small (150), and like any young plant they have many obstacles, especially financially. They are fragile.

    Less than two years after the church started, the small groups pastor decided he wanted to start a church (he just helped to start one!) and had a meeting with the pastoral leadership of the parent church as well as the church plant. The pastors decided to support him starting a church, but asked him to wait a year or two and go through the denominational process for starting the church (like his current church plant did) and to not pull away people from the fragile church plant to start his own. He agreed to these measures.

    The next week he sent word that he no longer agreed with the measures (breaking his word), refused to meet with the pastors any more, and was going to go ahead with his own plant. He then left the church plant and took with him his entire Bible study group and some others. He proceeded to call all the families in the church on the phone and tell them about his new plant. He continued to make contact and try to pull people away from the church for at least the next six months. The pastor of the church plant didn’t know what to do. His church saw an overnight 25% drop in attendance and a substantial drop in giving. Fringe people who had just started coming to the church felt that this was just another church split going on and typical Christian bickering, so they got spooked and slowly peeled away. A year after the small groups pastor left, the church was down to (50-75) people, 33% of their previous attendance. Morale was low, they had problems paying the bills, and while other mistakes were made, the primary blow was the original one struck by the small groups pastor leaving. The eventually had to dissolve the church.

    This is church pirating. This is what Ed is talking about. There is nothing admirable about this and its insidiousness is not even debatable; it was the main factor that killed that church. This hurt a man’s ministry (the plant pastor) and future job prospects (who wants to take a chance on a guy whose church failed?). In large part, it destroyed a potential successful church plant in a new part of the city where there arent many churches.

    The guy who did the pirate spoof blog seems to have at least some problem with Ed and Fellowship and how they do things. I dont agree, but that is another matter. I am talking specifically here about church pirating, which is a real phenomena. Without question, it is perfidy and treachery of the worst kind.

    I dont know about Ed’s blog and what they moderated out, so I wont talk about that. I will now, however, respond to some of the points you made above, numbered as you did.

    1. I respect Ed too, he has done a great deal for the Gospel. He is just a man, meaning he can make mistakes. He is not wrong here, however.

    2. His choice of language is appropriate. I have seen what these pirates can do. It is a very serious ordeal. A serious subject and, in this case, serious betrayal, warrants a strong response. Jesus responded strongly to many sins and ills he encountered.

    3. That is not what this is about. I dont know Ed’s heart, but I am fairly certain this is not about losing people or lowering his attendance. It is about trust, loyalty, Godliness, and the people who are torn away from a legitimate place of ministry and used for someone’s impatient, selfish ambitions. This is what often happens. Of course, people may be led away from a church and be in a place of ministry in some other start-up. The pirate pastor may appear or believe that he has good intentions in mind. But this is never the way to do it; someone cannot steal from another church (people, money) to start their own, no matter how they think they feel called by God. There is a right way and a wrong way. These pirates almost never listen to wise counsel concerning their decision. They act against the will of the pastor of the church and go it alone. This is the wrong way. It hurts the present church’s ministries and creates dissention in the body. It is done behind someone’s back, usually in an act of betrayal. For Ed, this isnt about losing people, its about all these other things.

    4. Right. There are enough lost people for anyone to plant a church, but not to do it at the expense of any church that is out there that they can leech off of. No one is talking about church planting here. From seeing to Ed’s blog, I know that He is all in favor of church planting (his church started that way and operates that way), but it needs to be done the right way and needs to be fair other churches. There is not enough money for anyone to start a church. Money in church plants is very hard to come by. My church in college ultimately failed because they couldn’t pay the bills. Money was also a large factor in the death of my friend’s church. Small church plants have a hard time maintaining the capital to fund the pastor’s salary and grow the church. Its very hard to start a church with no people and scarce financial resources; denominational or parent church backing makes things a little better.

    5. Again, I disagree. We do have big fish to fry, and this is one of those big fish. We can talk about theology and methodology all day long, but if our churches are being pillaged by leaders/pastors who want to do it their own way at whatever cost, tearing people away from ministries, then its hard to do church. You build a church up and someone can just come along and wreck it (they might not even succeed themselves). How is that reaching people for Jesus and building/maintaining the Kingdom?

    I believe this is a problem in the church today, one that is worth tackling. I thank Ed for doing that. I don’t understand the level of disagreement I see here with what he is saying. I do, however, believe we should talk about it. I hope that this has persuaded you to take church piracy more seriously. I hope you do believe its a problem inside of God’s church.

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