The EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent Bob Rowley blocks me on Twitter. This is a post in response to that action and asks some questions of the EFCA leader. This behavior also raises questions and shows why the EFCA needs transparency, plus it also reveals why the EFCA needs to train its staff and personnel on social media etiquette. The Wondering Eagle forgives the EFCA District Superintendent.
“In Social Media the “squeaky wheel” gets the oil. You have to put yourself out there, to find people who will relate or even debate with you, depending on what you are looking for.”
“Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.”
Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”
Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands[g] of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”
Matthew 26:50-54 NLT
The District Superintendent of the EFCA’s Texas and Oklahoma
On Saturday afternoon I was driving around the Washington, D.C. area. I was listening to a sermon from McLean Bible. The largest mega church in the D.C. area was theologically hijacked resulting in David Platt taking the reigns. So in preparation for a post I am writing on this ongoing situation I was listening to a couple of talks. I took a break when I had a chance and jumped on Twitter to see what is happening in the EFCA and also with a number of evangelical personalities. After all this blog writes about the EFCA. In the process I learned that I was blocked on Twitter by the EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent. This is the highest level person in the EFCA that has blocked me. I actually ran this by a couple of other people to get their thoughts. One individual down in Georgia told me, that Bob Rowley obviously didn’t read my most recent post about the EFCA. You can read that post in, “How Should the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) be Viewed? Well it’s Complicated.” From time to time I have written about the EFCA District Superintendent. You can read his biography in, “Analysis of the Texas – Oklahoma District of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” I have also written about Bob Rowley’s Twitter habits previously. You can read that in, “EFCA’s Bob Rowley Likes a Deeply Controversial Tweet from President Trump on Twitter. In Light of the Upcoming EFCA Theology Conference Does the EFCA District Superintendent of the Texas and Oklahoma District Comprehend Racism?” That previous post was not easy to write. I sat on the information for at least two months and sought opinion from a couple of other people. I was encouraged to write about it after people learned of Bob’s position and pastor. The blocking by Bob Rowley raises a lot of concerns that need to be discussed. The social media age is complicated and the challenges it poses needs to be considered as well. But lets look at this in more detail.
Bob Rowley teaches on being like Jesus
Is this how Jesus Would Act?
In the YouTube video above you have Bob Rowley teaching in a sermon at Dallas Theological Seminary. The talk the EFCA District Superintendent gives is that we should be like Jesus. Its a good talk, I listened to it a while back. But here is the problem. When a prominent EFCA leader blocks someone on Twitter are they acting like Jesus? After all how would Jesus act? Let’s remember that Jesus surrendered himself at the Garden of Gethsemane. He allowed himself to be taken into custody. He allowed himself to be tried by the Roman government. He allowed himself to be whipped and beaten. And then finally he allowed himself to be executed and humiliated in the process. Jesus responded by surrendering. Jesus did not become defensive and fight back. He did the exact opposite.
Now compare and contrast that with the EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent. When a couple of tweets were sent in the past or when I saw something and wrote about it, this is the manner in which he chose to respond. He chose to respond by blocking on Twitter. Jesus was not authorterian in his behavior. The only time was when he got violent in the Temple. Other than that Jesus allowed himself to be questioned. Think of the story of Nicodemus. He engaged people with questions. He often responded to a question by posing a question. If Jesus had a Twitter account I highly doubt he would block people in the same manner that Bob Rowley recently did.
Transparency is Needed by the EFCA, and What this Means for the Texas and Oklahoma District
One of the biggest issues in the EFCA is that of transparency. When The Wondering Eagle told the story of EFCA/Acts 29’s Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina Matt Boedy wrote an article about the need for transparency inside the EFCA. You can read that article in, “Matt Boedy on Evangelical Free Church of America Autonomy and the Need for Transparency.” This response by the Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent is actually counter to that transparency. Instead it helps build walls and is an attempt to eliminate discussions about the EFCA. In the end this will not work and will backfire in the end. How will this backfire? Its quite simple. By his response the leader of this EFCA District has signaled to many people that he is not be approached and/or asked questions. Think of the ramifications of what that means for at least 65 EFCA churches in Texas and Oklahoma. From San Antonio, to Pearland to Houston, to Ausitn and Waco and then up north into Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Enid. Rob Rowley effectively shut down discussions and communicated that he is not to be approached. Bob likes to plant churches, after all from my research he is well known as being a church planter; but he doesn’t want to deal with problems or issues that arise. For the people who are members or attenders or maybe someone who just walked through a door of an EFCA church in Texas or Oklahoma, where are they going to go if there is a problem? A church hijacking, church split, child sex abuse situation because of the Sunday school teacher, or more. Can they approach the district leadership if they know that it blocks people on Twitter and responds in such a way? That it a serious concern that the EFCA should be thinking about.
The EFCA Needs to Train its Leadership on Social Media Etiquette
When I wrote, “First Free Wichita Wants to Introduce you to the EFCA; Plus The Wondering Eagle’s Long Term Goals and Agenda with the EFCA” there is a point I focused on that is particularly relevant to today’s discussion. I mentioned that the EFCA needs to train its staff and leaders on both ethics and how to engage on social media. EFCA personalities need to understand social media etiquette. Learning how to engage on social media is key, especially in an age where everything is done online. How you behave on social media can backfire on a person. In this case its backfiring on the EFCA. This is an especially challenging issue for people like Bob Rowley and those who are older. I don’t mean that in a negative sense, but instead the reality is that we have maybe 2 generations today that grew up before the internet was rolled out in the mid to late 1990’s. Those who are older I think struggle with how to respond, engage and discuss online. And I think some people don’t realize that what they say or do on social media can effect them. The best case I can think of to compare and contrast on social media is the students who survived the Parkland shooting in Florida. I am referring to Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, Mia Freeman, David Hogg, Sarah Chadwick, Laura Hogg, Sofie Whitney, and others. You can read about them on social media in this Vanity Fair or NY Times article. My question is that if any of the students from Parkland tried to engage Bob Rowley would he block them as well? Does Bob Rowley for example know about the Streisand effect? If not, Bob can read about that in the following post I wrote about an EFCA church in NE Pennsylvania. “The Juvenile Behavior of Marc Ramirez, Tim Sheare, Karl Dyrli and Fellowship Church in Dallas, Pennsylvania on Twitter.”
For me I don’t take this personally, instead I view it as more of a generational issue. Bob Rowley highlights why the EFCA needs to train its leaders, pastors and personnel on social media awareness. The denomination needs to train people on how to engage, respond, process, understand, and more. The EFCA will not survive in a digital age if it can’t adjust quickly and adapt to a fast changing culture. The internet is the modern version of the wild west. The sooner that this is realized and understood the better it will be. And Bob Rowley and others will be better off in the long term.
I Forgive you Bob…
To the Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent I want him to know that I forgive him. He obviously never saw how I documented and wrote about how the EFCA responded to Hurricane Harvey in Texas. It was a lot of work but being a student of history I knew it was important to document and preserve as much as I could on social media. You can read those Harvey posts below.
- “Galveston Bible Church is Requesting Help as they Respond to Hurricane Harvey in Texas.”
- “Trinity Fellowship in Friendswood, Texas Publishes Solid Advice on how to Start the Recovery Process from Hurricane Harvey.”
- “Hurricane Harvey Hits Houston, and How 15 Evangelical Free Churches and the National EFCA are Responding; Plus Some Guidance for the EFCA Concerning this Issue.”
- “Recommended Reads: Kate Bowler in The Washington Post on Why People Dislike Joel Osteen; and the Babylon Bee on Joel Osteen Sailing Around Flooded Houston Passing Out Copies of “Your Best Life Now”
- “As Hurricane Harvey Aims at Houston Jaron Jones of Shine Bible Fellowship Gets It; How Many Evangelical Pastors Fail to Address Situations in their Midst.”
While sometimes I write about difficult topics and information the fact of the matter is that should not be avoided. While a few things I write are difficult there are also a number of things written about that are positive. There are several examples from the Texas and Oklahoma District above. It would be easy for me to write a combative post in response. For me I hope this strikes the right balance. Asking some difficult questions while using this as an opportunity to show why the EFCA needs to train their staff on social media etiquette. That said I am going to camp out in the Texas and Oklahoma District more these next few weeks and do some digging and researching. To the Texas and Oklahoma District, know that you are loved. Please take care of yourself.