Transparency Hurts

Transparency Hurts

by No comments yet Church Planting, Real Life

Leaders, it’s not only your position that matters. Your disposition and motivation matter too. Life is not exclusively about defense. Life...


Leaders, it’s not only your position that matters. Your disposition and motivation matter too.

Life is not exclusively about defense. Life isn't all about what we don't do.

It's not about who we don't hate; it's about how well we LOVE!

 There has been a cry from evangelical leaders in recent years. A cry to promote and participate in transparency and accountability. You hear statements like "you can't have community without transparency" all the time.

For the record, I whole heartedly agree-- openness is needed!

I think it's a gospel issue.

We aren't accepted (by God) based upon our performance (verses like Romans 5:8 make that crystal clear), and since that's true, we shouldn't feel the weight of proving ourselves to people.

God's grace provides space for openness and active repentance. 

While many are crying for openness from leadership, I find that many are still contributing to a broader Christian sub-culture that constricts movement toward the grace-filled environment that's called for.

We all agree that this gracious environment is necessary for healthy transparency-- don't we?

Let's provide it!

I've taken some time to think before writing this.

I'm not an Acts 29 member, a past Mars Hill church-goer, or even a huge Mark Driscoll supporter. (I have enjoyed some of the books that he's written, but that's beside the point.) Simply stated, I don't feel the need to defend Mark or to distance myself from him. His situation has to do with him, his family, the church he led, and the Acts 29 network. They are dealing with all that has transpired, and only they are aware of all those details.

I recently received a mass email to Christian leaders from xxxchurch.com (the providers of the x3watch accountability app.)

This is what it said:

Hey Guys and Gals,

my name is Craig Gross. I started XXXchurch.com 15 years ago to help people with porn addiction. We then created an accountability app called X3watch.com about 9 years ago and have been helping people stay accountable and safe on the internet ever since. In fact, X3watch now has over 1 million users and counting!

Two years ago, we partnered with Mark Driscoll and the Resurgence to be a major sponsor at the R13 conference, meaning we were able to have our logo and product talked about from the stage. The conference was great, our team met Mark and his staff, and we were able to help hundreds of pastors stay accountable to one another, their spouses, and their church staff.

This is where the story gets hard. I've seen a lot of pastors come and go because of extramarital affairs, flirting, porn addiction, gambling addictions, and a whole mess of other stuff. It's never easy to see a pastor, leader or friends shipwreck their life because of bad choices. Usually they lose their spouse, respect from their kids, their extended family, and their job.

With Mark, the details are different but the core truth remains the same: he didn't have people speaking into his life to help him make the best choices. This was his downfall. He didn't let anyone in to help guide him, to speak truth to him, to coach him, to tell him when decisions might be a bad idea. He didn't make himself accountable. As a leader, if you don't have accountability, your time is coming. You will fall. I'm not saying this to scare you (okay, maybe I am), but it’s for your own good. I hope you all are choosing to be a leader that's OPEN.

I wrote a book called “OPEN." It deals with people coming to terms with all their sins and living a life that is transparent and honest. I want to give you this book FREE. Also I want to give you 50% off of our premium accountability software. This will help you stay accountable online, filter the internet for your family, and help create a legacy worth talking about for generations to come. Simply use the code "resurgence" when you check out at www.x3watch.com. You will get a link to the book once you create your account.

Keep the Faith and Stay OPEN.

Craig Gross

I was disturbed. It seemed like open exploitation...

I talked with my wife about the email, prayed about it, and checked Craig's blog. Sure enough, he had written about his recent email because others had expressed concern. So I read what he had to say. I tried to understand where he was coming from. Near the end of his post he asked "Are you people in my inbox mad at me for buying the list or for the tone of the email?"

So, I wrote him personally to answer.

The issue isn't about x3 buying the list or someone else selling it-- that's the day in which we live.

The issue is about what the X3 leadership team did with the list.

They used Driscoll's name in a negative way to get emails opened and ultimately to sell more product. They exploited Mark's situation. How in the world can this spirit encourage leaders to become more accountable? (Which I agree is needed). I wonder how many on that team deciding to use Mark's name because

...we thought something with “Mark Driscoll” in the subject would get read,

would be cool with their name being used in the same way in a similar situation? There is no room to respond that "we would never find ourselves in that situation" none of us are above transgression. (1 Cor. 10:12) We are all in need of GRACE!

The X3 team doesn't like the lack of accountability among these leaders but they are illustrating the other side of the problem in our faith communities. Neither issue exists in a vacuum. For openness and repentance to flourish, a culture of grace must be preserved (and in many cases established.)

This email wouldn’t be nearly as questionable if it was simply a plea for leaders to be accountable but it ends with a sales pitch.

The letter above uses the same sales spam formula of every other direct marketing email campaign that clutters my inbox. However, at least the diet marketers have the graciousness to use celebrities that have been successful in losing weight rather than posting a picture of a celebrity who has recently gained weight. These guys would apparently post a picture of the most recent and notable overweight celebrity that simply says "don't be fat like this fatty."

When marketing outside the church is kinder than marketing inside the church--we are in trouble!

Perhaps Craig's own accountability structure should be strengthened since this email was apparently approved by them.

Justin Dean's blog post was apologetic but Craig Gross' blog title says it all. "I Don't Hate Mark Driscoll" sounds like a title from a pastor who has just been accused of homophobia.  The gospel isn't being advanced in this way, and the message of accountability certainly isn't being promoted down this path. A course correction is in order.

X3, the question isn't if you hate Mark, the question is if you still love Mark enough to put yourself in his shoes.

Let me reiterate how much I agree that accountability is needed. In fact, my accountability structure looked over this post before it was published. Let's take a serious look at which path get's us to this profitable place. 

* Since the original publishing of this post the title to Craig's post has been changed from "I Don't Hate Mark Driscoll" to "My Run In With Buying an Email List" and Just Dean's site was down all together but is now back up.

Justin Dean has further apologized for his apparent indiscretion here.  

My intent isn't to cover this "news" or to reflect on the ethics of this transaction. I'm not a journalist. The ethics side of this event is an important conversation but not within the original scope of this post.

My hope is to help leaders work together toward a grace filled environment toward one another. 

Craig seems to be managing the fallout rather than owning any wrong doing. Honestly, I'm not sure if I see transparency on either side of this situation. 

In Addition, Christianity Today has effectively covered the story.

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