An open letter to Tim Spanburg of Christ Community Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. This is a quick response to a sermon he gave on August 30, 2020. This blog wanted to address a couple of issues with Tim about community, evangelical culture and what I have learned from evangelicalism.
“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.”
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28 NIV
Sunset over the Kansas plains
I listened to your sermon from Sunday August 30, 2020. And I wanted to write a response based off what you said. In your sermon at 1:06 you said a blogger wrote about Christ Community Church banning singing. And you said that the blogger claimed that Christ Community was abandoning the mission of God. That blogger is not me. Though I have written about Christ Community Church and will continue to do so in the long term thus far have only written three posts about you. The first is about what you wrote in regards to Romans 12 and the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read that in, “Tim Spanburg of Christ Community Church’s Shawnee Mission, Kansas Writes About Romans 12 in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The second article is about your plea for people to wear face masks for the benefit of your son. That can be read about in, “Tim Spanburg of Christ Community Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas Pleads With Evangelicals to Wear Face Masks so His Son Can Go to Church.” The final post looked at how face masks were being encouraged at The Gospel Coalition and among many Neo-Calvinists which this blog respected. You can read that in, “Brett McCracken and The Gospel Coalition Push Face Masks in the COVID-19 Pandemic and The Wondering Eagle is Grateful For Neo-Calvinists Taking Such Action.” Many of my posts have been positive. I don’t write puff pieces but in the case of Christ Community I have had the unique opportunity to write some posts that are positives. Lot of times I hear about scandal and that is how people reach out to me. In Christ Community’s case l have heard positive aspects. That doesn’t mean I won’t be critical. A few weeks ago I wrote a critical post about Tom Nelson. I looked at his praise of Ravi Zacharias in the wake of the academic scandals, sexting and other issues that have been dogging him for years. You can read that in, “From John Welborn of Salem Church Recommending James MacDonald to Tom Nelson of Christ Community Church Praising Ravi Zacharias. Does Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Explain How Corruption and Scandal Are Ignored?” But l take it on a case by case basis.
I listened to your sermon twice. You seem to have a hopeful view of the church. And yet you did comment on how the church does not look as good in the COVID-19 pandemic. This blog wrote about how the pandemic is going to bring out the worst of evangelicalism. You can read that in, “How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Going to Reveal the Dark Flaws and Systemic Issues of Evangelical Christianity.” But you seem to have a positive view of the evangelical church. This entire blog consists of my journey through and away from evangelicalism. And how I have also rejected evangelicalism. You can read that in, “Reflecting on My Decision to Reject Evangelical Christianity. Its Too Corrupt, Political and Intellectually Shallow.” While you think the church can be to critical, my claim is that it is not critical enough. Scandal and abuse show otherwise. My experience with evangelicalism is that it is corrupt. I have come to have deep regret over all the years that I spent in the movement. From seeing how sex abuse harmed a church, to being a whistle blower inside a mega church in a dangerous situation. Then to reeling from a false accusation from someone influenced by Mark Driscoll who was in Sovereign Grace. Evangelicalism in my experience is beyond saving. The rise of Christian nationalism in 2016 popped up in the last church I tried and that was what transitioned me to the dones. I have since abandoned going to church and am on my way to being spiritually nothing. Evangelicalism from my view is corrupt and not salvageable. While these posts may create some consternation with some in the EFCA the goal is that while many like myself are done. Hopefully the organization can get its act together so that in 2030 or 2040 people are not being burned and fried.
The biggest problem in my view is that evangelicals don’t care when they hurt people. Nor do they care when people are hurt. Evangelicals never go back to individuals that were hurt to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, lets work this out and in the name of Jesus let’s reconcile and work things out.” A sincere and honest apology from a guy from a Sovereign Grace now Acts 29 church was all I wanted. But that will never happen. And as I see in my journey in writing about the EFCA that won’t happen in other situations in modern evangelicalism. Even when Jesus in Matthew said to put down your offering and reconcile with your brother, Christians, churches and denominations do not believe that at all.
Let me use the EFCA to make a point. Just west of you in Wichita this blog is writing about problems in Josh Blacks’ First Free Wichita. You can look them up in this blogs archives. Wichita is a good case as to how the Neo-Calvinists are violating the EFCA’s “Significance of Silence.” Then there is another situation this blog is writing about. If you are like many EFCA pastors you are probably influenced by Larry Osborne. This blog has been writing about alleged sex crimes that are happening in his North Coast Church outside San Diego. You can read about that in, “The Issue of Sexual Abuse and When a Predator Walks Freely Inside North Coast Church” and “The Alleged Story of Jacob Cutler and Statutory Rape and Other Criminal Allegations Inside the Eleven Twelve Ministry at North Coast Church.” Given the allegations of sex crimes coming forward it will be interesting to see how the EFCA will respond. Congregationalism has its limits and challenges and abuse is also a test for the model as I keep finding in the EFCA across the United States. Even so in this abuse situation coming from Larry Osborne’s church it will be interesting to see how the EFCA both at the district level and including Greg Strand at the National will respond to this mess. If Larry Osborne is put on the platform to speak at the next EFCA One or other conference with all this abuse coming out then one knows that the EFCA is not a healthy organization. Oh and Tim, I think you would be really surprised as to how well an atheist can know the Bible. I have interacted and seen some atheists speak about scripture and have knowledge of it better than your co-pastors of Gabe Coyle, Andrew Jones, Reid Knapple and others. I don’t say that mockingly but there are a lot of atheists who know the Bible well. Its different when you are inside a bubble vs. being on the outside.
Anyhow well I just wanted to write you a quick note based off your sermon. While I was not the individual who criticized you for not singing I did want to write a response to some of what was said. And then I also wanted to share some thoughts. I will be writing about Christ Community Church again. Both positive when appropriate And if necessary scandal though l hope that does not happen. And when the pandemic is over and I can travel again I will be out to Kansas and Missouri and I will attend. It will mostly be to sit in the back, take notes and continue to do analyses of the EFCA and its challenges. If you want to talk that’s fine and if not that is fine also. Please stay safe in the pandemic. Wishing you the best.