Doug Jacoby Letter to Henry Kriete
Feb 3, 2003
I devoured your paper when it came yesterday morning.
Like Gordon, I agree that the gist and thrust and theme are all on target. Matt 23 and many other passages apply to our movement and especially to its leadership system. Some things could be stated differently--some things you wrote actually need to be erased and reconsidered--but I am so much in agreement with the content and spirit of your open letter that I feel only the need to commend you.
I've said for years that most of the people we lose walk away due to our controlling leadership style, far more than any other factor. I have been disagreed with and criticized, but am holding my ground. Our numbers-driven style has made people feel disrespected, used, and even belittled. For the sake of our many, many programs, congregations have been deprived of spiritual food and refreshment, and our weak Bible knowledge as a movement is testimony to that. People are crying out to be fed, not with three-point pep-talks but solid exposition of the Word. Our culture of mistrust, monitoring, and even military style ministry moving has backfired and proven its own bankruptcy. We have not led by the golden rule, and all of us are implicated, you and me included. Some spoke out consistently, but were quickly marginalized. Others spoke out sporadically, but most said little if anything. A massive, glaring corporate and collective sin of omission.
Our people noticed this, verbalized it, certainly felt it. Our critics were often more in tune than we were. We would have gone about building our churches very differently if we had not succumbed to short term thinking and humanism. Although I know many will not agree, I still maintain that of our ¼ million ex-members, the majority leave because we fail to be family--from the top down. This makes it so much easier for them to be confused by false doctrine, allured and reclaimed by the world, or alienated in their relationships to members. We err when we blame their leaving on these secondary factors. Most kids do not run away from a loving family. If they do run away, one must look first at the parents. We have done everything but this.
Praise God that at last we are beginning to scrutinize our leadership and spiritual parenting on a large scale. I have a vision of thousands returning to the fold, and of thousands more not even being tempted to leave. So much of our hard work has been wasted, as the vast majority of our members have defected. This is heart-breaking. It is a deep tragedy.
Many leaders worldwide are alarmed at what's happening, but still lack urgency. They "don't get it." (I hope I do.) Profuse apologies will ring hollow if we continue to lead and think and preach in the same way as before. A wake-up call is needed. No--we've already had several of those. We require a trumpet blast, a clarion call, a blaring alarm. We face a crisis; the "unity conference" and its "unity letter" only began to scratch the surface, though they were a good start. Yet without further impetus, we may lack the momentum to see through the reforms our churches so desperately need. The UK churches have shown us so much, and like you I trust this will be thoroughly discussed at the next worldwide meeting. (November seems like such a long way off!)
With these things in mind, your letter is most welcome.
Your fellow worker,
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