Blogging troubles and some answers

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Let me explain that I thought I would be able to keep up with the blog while on vacation, but I have not been able to make my laptop work where I am so that I could get directly to the website. I’m making this post, but I will not be able to respond until I return home. I will catch up then.

I have tried to answer questions and respond to concerns faithfully through the eight years I have served you as executive director for the BGCT, but I would not claim that I have always done that as quickly or as effectively as I should have. There are times that things may have been misplaced or information fallen out of my sight or memory.

I will say what I sometimes would write to my church members when I was a pastor, “If I have not returned a call, failed to respond to a need in your life, not written in response to a letter, please give me another chance. Let me know, and I will try to make it right.”

Of course, one of the challenges I have to reckon with is that when it comes to dealing with personnel issues, I have some restrictions that I have to be mindful of. Every pastor knows that there are things sometimes said about you, speculation as to your motives, accusations made by some folks that you cannot respond to because you have to protect confidentiality, your pastoral role and the church.

But for now let me simply respond to these matters:

Why did I take Jon Becker to our church starting people to see if there was more help that could be given to his church? I explained this to our executive board and I believe it was referenced in the Baptist Standard, although I do not have the article before me.

First, I had no idea that when he asked for help, it was to help pay a portion of his salary. It was my understanding that the church needed the extra help in order to finish getting the church starts ready to be supported by themselves and the church. I was particularly concerned about the two Hispanic pastors who were pastoring the two Hispanic church starts.

In the eight years I have served Texas Baptists, I have been willing to talk to every Baptist, and almost everyone else, who has asked to see me. I have been asked to help some of our institutions as they have gone through challenging times, churches as they have faced needs, and mission needs in Texas and the world. When I could find a way to help, I have. Sometimes, I have not been able to find a way to provide financial help but we have always prayed for one another.

Our new church starting procedures, which Paul Atkinson has addressed on this blog, would have helped make sure that the church was fully aware of our expectations, and our improved ability to track our funding in a timely fashion would have made our church starting people aware that we had already funded the church mission efforts at the level we had agreed to do so. Sometimes, in the past, our church starters had the flexibility to add some extra dollars to help a church get through a difficult time with the new church starts. Because of the problems we have had, that flexibility has had to be restricted and everything has to pass by the Mission Funding Group made up of non-staff people and directly responsible to the Executive Board.

I have tried to be thoughtful and balanced as I have addressed this with regard to the dear folks at First Baptist Church in Weslaco. The reason I have not used any accusations or absolute statements is because I have not tried to talk to them in detail. My staff has been in touch with them and they have been very concerned and cooperative in trying to bring all of this to a good conclusion.

As I see this, Jon Becker has tried to make it as right as he can with the church. He has apologized for not taking them into his confidence and explaining carefully to the church what his intentions were. He has returned the money to the church that he was paid as extra salary from the BGCT-provided church starting funds. Our church starter was not aware that some of the money sent to the church was being directed by the church financial office to pay part of Jon’s salary. The church and the convention are working out the details so those dollars can be returned to the convention. Those dollars will be used to help start other churches.

It would be good for everyone to pray for Jon and his family and for the FBC of Weslaco as they work through this and try to restore a brother and restore the mission funds. I dare to pray that God will be honored by the way this is handled by the church and all of us.

32 Responses to “Blogging troubles and some answers”

  1. David Lowrie Says:

    Charles,

    Thank you for your response. I believe these insights have been helpful. I too know the struggles of trying to keep up. Your explanation make a great deal of practical sense.

    I often remind myself when I face complex difficult situations of the words of John who wrote:

    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
    1 John 1:7 (NIV)

    Thank you for shedding light on this dark moment, and it appears that positive change is in the works.

    I commend Jon Becker for his efforts to make things right with FBC Weslaco, and with the BGCT. I pray he will learn from this experience. I especially pray for his family who find themselves plunged into a time of great uncertainty. I pray the Lord will be their security and strength.

    David Lowrie

  2. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Dr. Wade,

    Are you saying that because Jon got caught and has tried to pay his way out that this incident should be dropped?

    What kind of criminal activity should be prosecuted?

    How many other Jon Beckers are there Dr. Wade?

  3. An Apology for Jon Becker (Charles Wade style) « Spiritual Samurai Says:

    […]  https://texasbaptists.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/blogging-troubles-and-some-answers/#comments […]

  4. David Lowrie Says:

    Dear David (Spiritual Samurai)

    There is no question that Jon Becker made some very serious mistakes in his handling of our mission dollars. He apparently convinced himself that his additional work should be compensated and that the BGCT was a possible source of this income. Our system was based on trust, and Jon faced the temptation of padding his income and gave in. Only Jon knows for sure what his motive was, but there are some indications we need not overlook.

    1. Jon paid the money back. Only he knows his true motive, but it is safe to say this was the right thing to do.
    2. Jon lost his job and possibly his career. Assuming Jon is our brother in Christ, which is a safe assumption, then we can assume that the Lord is discipling one of his children. As you know the word discipline means to teach not to destroy. The Kingdom of God will not be advanced by the destruction of Jon and his family, but it could be advanced by his life and ministry being transformed. Grace gets messy sometimes.
    3. Charles Wade has taken the bold step to speak out about these matters and to shed light on what happened, why it happened, what needs to happen and what we have learned. I commend him for this action.

    I don’t see what we would gain by prosecuting Jon at this point. It would seem the right course of action would be to meet Jon at his point of confession and restitution and grant him forgiveness and grace. This does not mean it is time for Jon to return to the role of pastor, but it does mean he is our brother in Christ and it is time to offer him a hand and to help him up.

    David Lowrie

  5. VB Says:

    Pastor Lowrie:

    You always show such grace. Your voice has been one of reason through all of this. And that’s admirable.
    However, while I have no desire to prosecute Jon Becker, I do just want to understand.
    There is no indication from Weslaco that Jon made any such apology. There is instead (read other posts on this blogsite) that many in Weslaco feel cheated and frustrated. I’d guess based on the past few days of blogging here that a couple of them are about to show up and get mad all over again that Dr Wade continues to maintain that anyone in Weslaco knew Becker was receiving this money. The financial reports DO NOT show this money. I asked Dr Wade three questions as soon as he came out of the shoot. Simple questions. 1) if the financials don’t show this money – which they do not – what’s the deal? 2) when Becker came to the BGCT to build this church from a third service what was the precedent? 3) when he came back for the last $3000 he kept $2800 – any comment?
    Dr Wade answered one of those (the last). It is frustrating and confusing. Surely somewhere these answers exist?
    I am hoping that Dr Wade will be more forthcoming. I feel like there needs to be some closure. Question marks don’t lead to closure. This is a bold step for Dr Wade. And frankly I wondered why he would take it knowing that some people (like the samurai) would come at him in such a way. But it is the communication he has opened and we are waiting.

  6. David Says:

    paul.atkinson@bgct.org

    charles.wade@bgct.org

    david.nabors@bgct.org

  7. Jim Wade Says:

    I would like to say a word of appreciation to David Lowrie for his sensitive approach to blogging. For the past 18 months one or two bloggers have been engaged in an unrelenting effort to destroy the ministry and reputation of my brother. One, especially, has borne false witness against him by calling him a liar, and accusing him of being dishonest. He has put motivations in his heart that, I feel certain, were never there. Defamation of character is a serious offense and even more so when it is one minister defaming another.

    There is a profound difference between questioning someone’s judgement and questioning someone’s honesty. Honesty is at the core of one’s being and one’s Christian commitment. Charles is my older brother and I have observed him as a teen-ager and as an adult. If there is one word I would choose to describe him, it would be “honest”, honest in all aspects of his life.

    I would also like to thank the other David who has responded to the blog. I don’t know his last name, but his thoughtful observations are also very much appreciated.

  8. Lee Saunders Says:

    I believe Dr. Wade is probably the first Baptist state executive director to become a blogger. At last year’s state convention, he led an open question and answer session. His willingness to do these things goes a long way with me, and I think that needs to be recognized by according him the Christian respect and gentleness that the Bible requires in all of our dealings with each other.

    I was not there at FBC Weslaco to know exactly what happened, or what the individual motives were. Obviously, there were some flaws in the system that opened the door to the problems, and these were enhanced by the pressure from competing interests of two state conventions. It has always been my belief that a pastor or church staff member should never have anything to do with the church finances, other than to provide counsel and advice. Had that simple principle, and the current BGCT guidelines for disbursing funds for new church starts been in place, a pastor would still have his pulpit, and the BGCT would have had one less black eye. So we learn from our mistakes and we move on.

    We are dealing with brothers in Christ here, which means that the authority for a resolution is the scripture, and not the law. That includes repentance, forgiveness, and restoration of a right relationship with God. The hard consequences of these actions have been felt by those who made the mistakes in the first place. They are not likely to be forgotten. Prosecution would not accomplish any Biblical or spiritual purpose.

  9. David Says:

    Jim Wade:

    I completely agree with your comments about those blogging negatively regarding recent BGCT happenings and about Dr. Wade. If your brother truly were the lesser man that those individuals repeatedly have stated—not merely suggested—that he is, those people might well find themselves today sitting in courtrooms around Texas answering charges of libel and slander. That those crimes already have taken place is without question, though I doubt that Dr. Wade ever will choose to pursue those matters with those bloggers. And I am, with you, astounded how it possibly can be that another person referred to as a “minister of the gospel” is the one guilty of such offenses.

    The Savior each of us claims to have encountered personally and to have been transformed by laid down the guidelines within which those now following Him are to live—particularly when difficulties arise between us. My references to Matthew 18 have been downplayed by some posting here; a reading of the text again, though, will help all of us understand that we are to seek to “win our brothers” if ever they actually offend us and not to seek to win our cases against them.

    Again: “go to the source first” is the best approach.

  10. BT Says:

    Did Jon apologize to the BGCT? Would that just be between Dr. Wade and Jon? Would that just be between Jon and Nabors? I know, I know – “go to the source first” is the best approach.

    Dear Dr. Wade,
    Did Jon apologize to the BGCT?

  11. wackypreacher Says:

    Jim Wade,
    I have met your brother on a couple of occasions and have found him to be a kind and humble man. I have been deeply concerned that several brothers in Christ have chosen to defame and tear him down. I am reminded that we are to “be kind one to another, forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven us.”
    It must hurt the heart of God to see us shooting each other with harmful words.
    Those who throw hurtful words and accusations towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are like a man standing next to the campfire with his pants on fire. Hurtful words will come back to burn our pants.
    Know that you and your family are in my prayers. None of us want to have hurtful words and false accusations thrown at our loved ones. It hurts all of us.
    Words do hurt.

  12. wackypreacher Says:

    Just so you know my name is Bob Cheatheam. Wackypreacher is part of my e-mail address. I am just being upfront and not trying to be anonymous. Sorry if I gave that impression.

    Bob Cheatheam

  13. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Who is apologizing to the people in the Valley? How is the cause of Christ advanced by tolerating criminal activity. This is not a moral slip. This was a crime.

    Dr. Lowrie, I do appreciate you, however if you will send me an email address I would like to send you some information that I have not made public to protect innocent people who are still in the Valley and vulnerable to Becker. After that then let me know if you still think I am being harsh.

    [Portion removed after e-conversation with Samurai] I do not expect any sympathy or praise for what I have written or said. I knew exactly what would happen when I started this quest and accepted the consequences.

    When I was younger I did things that were against the law. I had my day in court. The court showed mercy to me. If the court chooses to show mercy to Jon that would be wonderful, but it should be the court that decides, not Charles Wade, not David Lowrie, nor David Montoya.

    We are sending the wrong message to just let this go.

  14. spiritualsamurai Says:

    David,

    I have never told a lie about Charles Wade. I have never commited libel or slander. I stand by my words thus I never worry about slander or libel. I would love to have the opportunity to have my words proven in court.

    Defend Dr. Wade all you want that does not change the fact that he enabled ValleyGate and the actions of Jon Becker.

  15. Brady Says:

    It is obvious that Dr. Wade and/or those who work with him do not understand what a blog actually is. When you put a public blog online and use it to “answer questions” then you should be prepared to ask whatever questions are asked. Looks to me like there are guys specifically designed to blunt criticism and questions of Dr. Wade.

    Its time to just stop stonewalling and answer the questions. One of the smoothest tricks of all in the Christian community is to accuse those who are asking questions of being cruel, mean, and unforgiving. I especially like the one that says we shouldn’t ask questions on a public blog (which was instituted by Dr. Wade) and that we should ask the questions in private. A public sin exposed on a public blog should be answered publicly!

  16. Manuel Gautreaux Says:

    To Dr. Wade,

    On the article posted on 11/14/07 in The Baptist Standard, “Former pastor returns money to congregation; church agrees to give finds to BGCT”.

    I would like to state that I appreciate your statement thanking FBC-Weslaco congregation for its efforts to return the money.

    ” Your willingness to initiate this response without any urging from us speaks clearly about the wonderful character and integrity of your people”.

    “the wonderful character and integrity of your people” are the words that do describe the members of our church. We do have great members. We do have great leaders. We do have a great church staff.

    I look forward to reading that letter send to leaders of FBC-Weslaco.

    Again, I want to say thanks for acknowledging what kind of members are at FBC-Weslaco.

    (I know there are many, many, other church congregations in Texas that can be described this way. I’m just partial to FBC-Weslaco)

  17. Ferrell Says:

    Manuel,
    Thanks for this word. The character and integrity of First Baptist in Weslaco is appreciated far and wide. Dr. Wade will be back from vacation soon, and I’m sure you will hear from him.

    Everyone,
    I’m going to take some vacation next week, so my voice will go silent for awhile. Don’t cheer, please.

  18. dhl Says:

    Don’t cheer, please.

    No cheering . Have a wonderful Thanskgiving, Ferrell.

  19. BT Says:

    On the article posted on 11/14/07 in The Baptist Standard, “Former pastor returns money to congregation; church agrees to give finds to BGCT”.

    One of the hard lessons learned was a term called “shaping.” Shaping means I tell the truth with a twist. The twist is that I either do not look as bad in the truth as I should or I look much better than I should. Just a note to my pastor friends. We must watch ourselves in shaping.

    From the article:

    “Most of the membership of First Baptist Church never understood it was starting another congregation, and former Pastor Jonathan Becker claimed the BGCT funds as a salary supplement for leading the new church.”

    “Most” could be read as most of the membership that does not attend business meetings. “Most” could mean only a few committees knew of the plan. In reality, “Most” means only 2 or 3 people knew what was happening and “most”, the other 200 -300 attending members knew nothing. A little shaping if you ask me.

    “Becker noted he have gave the money to First Baptist Church in Weslaco of his own accord without the congregation or the convention asking for it.”

    Now “of his own accord” implies that he did this within his own thought process. Should anyone mention that he sought legal council prior to this decision. Should we assume that there was pressure from congregations expecting him to make things right. No church sent him a letter asking for the money to be returned. Please, please do not think Jon thought he had any other option. Without shaping, I see a picture of wordly sorrow. Sorry I got caught!

    Manuel Gautreaux, your congregation has shown a wonderful picture of grace while in the midst of a storm. There is no shaping in that statement.

  20. John Says:

    BT,

    I wrote the article you reference. I assure you I was not attempting to “shape” the story one way or another. I was simply trying to provide an update of where things stand. The two specific paragraphs you deal with actually are the two that I spent the most time on. I’ll try my best to explain the language choices I made.

    I will admit the term most is inexact. But I had to be inexact because I don’t know the exact number of people who were aware that FBC Weslaco was attempting to start a church by first launching it as another worship service. I suspect you are correct that the number is very low. But no one told me how low. Nearly every person I spoke with however, used the term most. Because of that, I decided most was the most appropriate term, despite its weaknesses. It was true to the people I spoke with.

    As to the phrase “of his own accord,” that is nearly a direct quote from Becker. If he sought legal counsel, no one provided that information on the record. I’m not saying he didn’t. Just that no one indicated that was true. Nor did anyone mention pressuring Becker.

    BT, I hope this helps explain why I made the choices I did. I was simply attempting to accurately convey what I was told on the record.

  21. dhl Says:

    Jon Becker told several members of FBCM and FBCW that he had legal counsel on much of what has transpired (his ridiculous request for an enormous severance package from McAllen for one). Whether or not a lawyer told him to or not to write that check is unknown. And what is not mentioned here is that Weslaco – as of last week – had still not actually accepted (cashed, deposited etc) that check. This is according to members and staff there. Maybe their lawyer told them not to. Or maybe they have now. But the check was written at least three or four weeks ago.

  22. VB Says:

    Thanks John. Your input helps.

  23. Manuel Gautreaux Says:

    Hello John,

    I am member of FBC-Weslaco. I understand that you were trying to give an update on the situation.

    I am not sure who you talked with at FBCW. I would have suggested using “almost all” instead of “most”. That may have been a more accurate description. I have heard “only two or three people knew” what was going on. I have no information on who those people are. During a business meeting of our church, that question was asked, “Who are the two or three people?”. No one there could provide that information. For me, it does not matter now.

    On the “of his own accord”, I have come to my own conclusion on that matter based on what I have personally see and heard. Until the matter is official concluded, I will not express it in a public forum.

    John, I appreciate the quote you used in the article from Dr. Wade describing our church (my post above).

    This whole situation has been a difficult one to deal with on a personnel level and a church level. I know that God is making us a stronger congregation and preparing us ready to do His work. May God continue to bless FBCW.

  24. BT Says:

    John,

    I really was not aiming at you. My point is that most is vague at best. It would be interesting to know the actual number involved in this “church start.” Journalism involves many things and a big variable is space available. Shaping is alive and well in every church and a lot of pastors are champions. As elementary as how many did you have in worship? A pastor replies, “It was a full house.” Truth is two ladies and three men. Just a Saturday morning joke!

    I did not mean to offend you. Please accept my apology. Jon Becker has been king of the shapers as long as I have known him. My hope is that we all realize, as I have in my own life, that shaping is just a fancy lie. For your report on the situation, most is most if that is what you were told. Most, however, could have been reported as “nearly everyone” if people were brutally honest with you.

    I still look for repentance in Jon’s life. Repentance according to Jesus makes us a candidate for forgiveness. In forgiveness, Jon could be restored.

  25. John Says:

    BT, no offense taken and no apology is needed. I appreciate your willingness to listen. I’m not a perfect writer, but if I can continue to examine what and how I write hopefully it will continue to get better at it.

  26. Brady Says:

    Comments on here sure have slowed down. Perhaps its because nothing is actually being answered…

  27. BT Says:

    Brady,

    You offer some insight there. We don’t get answers and we lose interest. Kind of like the BGCT itself. The longer there are no answers, the more people will connect with other groups that at least show interest. It is the same in our churches. If we ignore the questions of our people, they leave and find a church that will be interested and care for them. You can only wonder how churches are feeling in the midst of all that has happened.

  28. Paul Atkinson Says:

    BT and Brady,

    Is their a question that I can answer? I am on vacation and have a little more time to spend blogging… I really want to help.
    Paul

  29. Brady Says:

    Paul,

    I would like to hear from Dr. Wade’s own lips (or internet answer) whether or not he offered Jon Becker money to get FBC, McAllen back into the BGCT fold.

    That is a very simple question and can be answered with either a yes or a no.

  30. BT Says:

    Paul,
    Enjoy the vacation! I believe all of the questions have been asked more than once. Most are directed at Dr. Wade and it has been made clear that he is out of pocket. The answers are going to need to come from him.

    He involved himself in the blog and people have made note of many of the things he has said. They are looking for clarification. Thank you for your willingness and availability.

  31. Paul Atkinson Says:

    Brady and BT
    I am sorry that I can’t answer these for you… I will keep following this stream for awhile… If I can help, just ask… Please understand I and my entire church starting team desires to do whatever we can to help you and all Texas Baptist get past the sins of the past… and with grace move to a future with those lessons learned… and partner with existing churches to start the next generation of churches that will help us reach Texas for Christ, we really do need each other is not just a neat tag line with me.

  32. Brady Says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for your note and openness but Texas Baptists are not going to be able to “get past the sins of the past” unless Dr. Wade is willing to openly and honestly answer the questions that are being asked. No answers on the blog that you guys created just isn’t going to cut it.

    I am optimistic about the future with someone like you in leadership. The “problems” in the Valley should never have happened if the leadership in the Valley and in Dallas had been paying proper attention. Otto and Jon were smooth but they should never have been able to pull it off.

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