The Path to Control: Accountability at First Free Wichita as Led by Chris Brunson

First Free Wichita has long had an accountability program led by Christian counselor Chris Brunson. This is a post looking at the issues of accountability in both evangelicalism as well as Josh Black’s First Free Wichita. Many evangelical accountability programs are created in the image of George Orwell and are means to control people and can be warped. 

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” 

Glenn Close

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15-16 NIV

First Free Wichita Sanctuary

There is a word that gives me chills. Its a word that will stop me in my tracks when I hear it mentioned. Its throughput evangelicalism and you will hear it at every evangelical church you are involved in.  It stands ominous especially in light of the many evangelical scandals that take place. Despite that many evangelical churches still continue to pursue programs and encourage their congregations to engage in them. The word that puts my stomach in knots is…..accountability. 

 

First Free Wichita’s Accountability Program as Led by Chris Brunson

First Free Wichita is a large EFCA church in Wichita, Kansas. This blog has been writing about the issues and problems at First Free as I look at evangelicalism. First Free encourages men to participate in their accountability program which is led by Chris Brunson. Let’s look at the description and then we’ll look at Chris Brunson.

Let’s face it, accountability is scary but we all know we need to do it. God didn’t create us to walk the Christian faith alone. When men gather in the name of Christ for gospel-centered accountability things happen! Chains are broken; joy and hope are found. Uncharted is a no-cost, confidential group for men who have something they haven’t fully shared, maybe with anyone. Issues may include any hurt, habit, or hangup men are facing. It’s time to get real. It’s time to get help. You will find freedom when you face these fears, for Jesus is ready to heal you!

Chris Brunson is the one who runs the program. This blog would also deduce that Chris Brunson is probably a covenant member of First Free Wichita. Remember this is a 9 Marks church.  In doing some research it appears as if Chris Brunson has his practice through Heritage Family Counseling Services. This practice has its own statement of faith and emphasizes that its counselors are members of local churches. This counseling program is also a part of American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, American Association of Christian Counselors and/or National Board for Certified Counselors. Brunson went to William Jewell College and then to Trinity International University where he obtained a M.A. in mental health counseling. 

 

The Problem with Accountability at First Free Wichita 

Accountability in many evangelical churches is often a warped program. Frequently many evangelical churches have no concept of ethics. Professionalism is often devoid as well. This blog can’t tell you how many times I interacted with people and learned that some churches used counseling programs to collect information on members or congregations and also to cover up issues inside a church. Now I am not saying that is happening at First Free Wichita. To date this blog has not heard of any crimes or sex abuse being covered up at Josh Black’s church. If that has happened please contact this blog and let’s explore that issue. But the fact remains that evangelicals have a warped view of accountability. Because of accountability many evangelicals have a warped view of alcohol, sex, and psychological issues. Boundaries or the inability for evangelicals to have healthy boundaries leads to a lot of problems or even codependency.  Someone who has sex with their girlfriend or boyfriend is not a sex addict. And a person who has an occasional beer is not an alcoholic. Many evangelical churches use counseling programs and ministries as a means to gaslight people. As I keep going back evangelical Christian churches and mental health issues if you want to understand many accountability and “mental health” don’t listen to the church leadership or read a Bible. Instead read George Orwell’s 1984. When you see how big brother operates that will prepare you for what Christian counseling is inside evangelicalism. 

But here is why I would not practice accountability at First Free in addition to what was stated above. Problems in this church already exist. Earlier on I wrote about how a well known and established pastor Dan Curnett was fired for not being a Neo-Calvinist. You can read more about this in, “Will First Evangelical Free Church of Wichita Hear the Lion’s Roar? What About the Injustice That has Occurred in Josh Black’s Church?” Now here is the problem who is Josh Black accountable to? Its not the elder board. If you say God I am going to laugh out loud. The fact of the matter is that he is not accountable to anyone. And this is systemic in evangelicalism. Sovereign Grace Ministries operated like this. So did Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago or Mars Hill in Seattle. None of the people who led these organizations was accountable to anyone. People need to learn how to practice discernment. And with that I would stay away from Chris Brunson’s accountability program. 

 

5 thoughts on “The Path to Control: Accountability at First Free Wichita as Led by Chris Brunson

  1. This blog can’t tell you how many times I interacted with people and learned that some churches used counseling programs to collect information on members or congregations and also to cover up issues inside a church.

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!

    When your church can be described as “Just Like Scientology, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that is NOT a good sign.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I think of accountability in the context of evangelical men’s groups, I think of people trying to kick their porn habit. Various surveys from the last decade claim that within evangelical churches, 70% of men, 50% of pastors and 30% of women struggle with pornography. The running joke is that the rest don’t struggle, they just give in. My perception of the culture at large is that smart phones have made pornography use by young people normal and widespread, so seeker-oriented churches are likely to have higher percentages of people with these issues. There is the oft-cited urban legend about the Canadian university researchers who wanted to find out what effects pornography had on the developing brains of young men, but they couldn’t find enough porn-free college students to form a control group.

    Doing something infrequently doesn’t necessarily make you an addict, but if you want to stop, and try to stop, and fail, then you’re an addict. In theory, you could maybe be an occasional user of pornography or pornography-adjacent behaviors without becoming addicted, but most people start on pornography before their brains are developed enough to be that forward thinking.

    There are, of course, many kinds of secret sin that accountability can help with. Sexual sin just comes to mind because it’s so common. At my church, our Celebrate Recovery group is quite diverse when it comes to issues and hang-ups.

    I’m not going to claim that an accountability infrastructure can’t be misused, but whenever I’ve seen one, it has been in the context of small groups led by people who have had the issue that the group targets. So an alcoholics group is not led by someone who has never struggled with alcohol. Confidentiality is strict, things disclosed by other people are not written down, and group members are cautioned about potential legal implications of what they disclose due to the potential presence of mandatory reporters. In my experience there is probably not enough disclosure; for example sex addicts need to not be allowed to chaperone a youth overnight trip but the two ministries often don’t communicate. I’ve always lived in medium population areas or larger, not small towns where everyone knows everyone else all their lives, so it’s probably different in podunkville.

    How would we go about scientifically determining (in a rigorous way likely to get the actual truth) the net benefit or harm of an accountability program? Because obviously, remaining in bondage to sin is a pretty big long term harm, so we shouldn’t just forget all about helping people.

    Like

    • When I think of accountability in the context of evangelical men’s groups, I think of people trying to kick their porn habit.

      Christians seem obsessively drawn to Pelvic Issues, whether drawn by attraction or drawn by repulsion.

      Like

      • Christians seem obsessively drawn to Pelvic Issues, whether drawn by attraction or drawn by repulsion.

        People seem obsessively drawn to pelvic issues. If you’re not, that’s awesome; I’m glad it’s not a stumbling block for you.

        The devil also seems obsessively drawn to them, because of how marriage and sex symbolize the relationship between God and mankind, and he wants to pervert and disrupt that.

        We live in a sex-obsessed society. Our culture says (falsely) that meeting our sexual desires is essential to human fulfillment. Even the purity culture of the 90s pedestalized sex. It’s like we all carry around cocaine between our legs, and have to rely on willpower or luck to not indulge, while the media we consume constantly says “indulge! indulge!” The human sex drive is not inherently sinful, but it is probably the easiest, fastest and most fun* way to produce long-term harm to ourselves and others.

        *Windows 95 joke

        Like

      • But is doing a one-eighty flip (from “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” to “Thou Shalt Not!”) at full intensity really an answer?

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.