An Open Letter To My (Our) Critics

Dec 27, 2005

This is the first and only time I will do this—I started not to—but I feel like it has to be done.

There seems to be several people checking out this blog on a daily basis…and for that I am grateful. Blogging has been one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. I love to communicate, both in the written and the spoken word.

There have been many encouraging e-mails since I have begun; however, there has also been a pretty decent amount of criticism…and to be honest—criticism in its purest form doesn’t bother me (we all need it)—but the WAY it is done does.

Let me share a little bit about myself…

God gave me a passion in 1996 to start a church—I didn’t know when or where—I just knew I had to do it one day. That dream became a reality in 1999…and so there was a core group of about 15 people around me and God used us to begin NewSpring.

We had no concept of what a megachurch was; in fact, we were not even familiar with the term. We didn’t know whether we were predestined…I personally think I was predestined not to care! We had no desires to pretend that we knew it all…ALL we did know was that 48% of the people in our community were unchurched—and we were not satisfied with that.

So on January 16, 2000 we had our first worship service with 115 people. Once again, it was not our passion to get our name in the media…it was our passion to reach people in this community who were going to bust hell wide open if they didn’t hear the Gospel…and we wanted to create an environment where we could present the Gospel in a creative & relevant way.

And wow—God has done amazing things…

GET THIS—our church is NOT perfect…we never will be. If you are looking for reasons to criticize our church—believe me, you do not have to look very far. We have made our share of mistakes—and we will continue to make them…it’s a part of what we do.

And I am NOT the perfect pastor—once again, if you are looking for reasons to criticize me then you do not need to look very far. I made a 790 on my SAT, I have a problem with being patient, sometimes I think before I speak—GUILTY! I am only 34 years old and the phrase that best describes me is “young and stupid!”

There have been some people, especially in the past several weeks, that have taken hard shots at me AND NewSpring…you have attacked me personally & made some pretty BOLD and cutting statements…two things you need to know…

#1 - I will not fight with you—I refuse. You see, I am a follower of Jesus Christ—He is my Lord and my God…and if the same can be said about you then we are on the SAME TEAM…sooooo…we should act like it.

Jesus said that people would know we are His followers by our love for one another…and if a non-Christian saw the way that some Christians go after each other because the other person does not cater to their personal preferences—I think it would drive them away from the kingdom.

I can honestly say as the pastor of NewSpring that we are doing what God has called us to do—the WAY He has called us to do it. And that may not please you—but you don’t have to like it. I settled in my mind back in July when I almost died that I am NOT going to wear myself out trying to please people—especially those who would take a shot at me without knowing my heart for people who do not know Christ.

We may be wrong—God may not be in this at all—and if He isn’t and it all falls apart and burns to the ground one day then I invite you to hold a party and celebrate our demise; however, if this is of God—then you are not fighting against us…you are only fighting against God. (Acts 5:33-39)

#2 - Can We Love One Another?

I said it once—I will say it again—we need to love one another.

I know I speak out against certain things—and I will continue to do so—but I will not take shots at people that I do not know…and I will not try to force them into a theological corner in order to label them (are you Calvinist or Armenian?) I learned—the hard way—that before you take a shot at someone that you should at least get to know them…and if you want to be critical of a particular philosophy then that is ok—but to criticize a person—yeah, that’s Christ like—that is JUST what Jesus would do!

You may call me foolish—you may consider what NewSpring does foolish—but wasn’t it Paul that said as long as Christ is preached then it doesn’t matter?

You see—we ARE reaching people—lives ARE being changed—people ARE being reached—people that were neglected by the church, forgotten, pushed away—we are making a difference in this community—and this is only the beginning of the awesome things God has in store.

(There was a comment on a blog from someone in the community who was upset because they do not attend our church BUT felt like their opinion should matter. I have said it from the stage and I will put it in writing—when your church is perfect—PLEASE come and show us how to run things—but if you would spend more time looking at what might be wrong with your church instead of what might be wrong with ours—maybe the kingdom of God could be enlarged a little bit quicker!)

I am GUILTY! I am SO guilty of reading the critics blogs and then obsessing about them, wishing I could just speak with these people and tell them that they have me all wrong. So from now on it is over—no more. I will not post things here in response to what other people write about me or our church on their blogs. If you see something here and you think it might be a response to something you have said or written—you are SO flattering yourself!

I apologize to NewSpring—I apologized to the leadership team yesterday. No longer will I even be looking at these other blogs. It’s not that I do not care about them—but there are too many people in this community AND in the world that are going to hell…and I do not have time to debate Christians about methodology and endless theological debates and in turn neglect God’s call on my life to reach as many as possible for His sake.

I am sorry for almost turning this blog into a warzone—no more—from now on I will be posting things here that are from my heart—from my time with God—from the mistakes we have made, and from the lessons we have learned.

If you want to stop by—great…if you want to send an e-mail—AWESOME. But if you want to criticize us—then STOP and think for a second—people are being SAVED at NewSpring—I read a letter today from a couple who had a horrible marriage and, as a result of coming to our church, they BOTH accepted Christ and now are on the right track. If you are SO convinced that we are wrong then I would be more than happy to arrange a meeting so you, the critic, could tell them their salvation does not matter because we don’t do ministry “the old fashioned way” or because the pastor “doesn’t have correct theology.”

Saying all that to say this—once again—I love you guys—the critics…and you know who you are! I will not fight—I am too busy trying to do what God has called me to do. You do your work and I will do mine…and if I can EVER help you in any way then please let me know…and I mean that! I have read several of your blogs and you know your stuff—and so do ministry the way God has called you to.

But…and one more thing—do you REALLY think God’s call on your life is for your to tear apart other Christian brothers and sister and their churches because they do not agree with every single aspect of your beliefs? Couldn’t that energy and knowledge be better used fighting the kingdom of darkness rather than the kingdom of God. AND DON’T EVEN try to say that in attacking churches like us, Northpoint, Saddleback, etc. that you are doing battle against the kingdom of darkness—that would be an arrogant thing to say—especially since most of you have never even met and spoken with one of the leaders from these ministries!

Whew! That was it—once again it was the first and last time it will be addressed. Have an awesome Wednesday!