Address Or Dismiss!

First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale implodes over challenge to pastor’s iron rule

How does any baptist church that purports to operate under congregational rule (or not!) unilaterally dismiss members without . . . .

√  a properly called congregational meeting of the church membership

√  a congregational vote on each and every member

√  the majority vote of the membership present and voting

√  a genuine opportunity for those “dissident” members to address the congregation before any such vote

“On Friday night First Baptist trustees, seemingly under the control of Lead Pastor James Welch, released an email that expelled from membership —  much like Catholic excommunication —  an entire dissident faction, an estimated 200 churchgoers.

The group has been pressing for dialog about finances, the future of the property-rich institution and Welch’s controversial, top-down management style. He took control of the church in early 2019.

There could be no more dramatic example of that style than the trustees’ Friday night purge.”

The leadership explains their decision and actions in an email.  Their email (and the pastor’s in-person explanations concerning his actions) [1] argues that they have been biblical in their decision and actions.

The leadership uses such words as  . . .

  • patient
  • peacemaking
  • mediation
  • repentance
  • discipline
  • unfruitful
  • hope and pray
  • restoration
  • harmony
  • leadership
  • persevering for Christ
  • passion
  • biblical standards
  • etc

All good biblical words . . . . employed to explain and/or defend what was called a “Friday night purge” of 200 members!

Not sure that what was done by leadership is as biblical as they would like to publicly maintain and purport!

I often wonder how many people [2] have to express their discontent and/or leave (and in this case — be summarily removed from membership by the sole action of the very leadership being charged with wrong-doing) before the assessment is that there is really a problem — a leadership problem!

Are there really 200 members who don’t have legitimate concerns about the direction of the church?

Does the pastor, leadership, or ministry believe that there are not still others who also have misgivings the decisions and actions of those in charge?

Does the pastor, leadership, or ministry . . . .

√  believe that there are not those who are repulsed by the brusque dismissal of those members?

√  believe that they have effectively addressed the problem by the dismissal of those 200 members?  There are far more than those dismissed members who see and feel the same way.

√  believe that there are still those who have left in their hearts and minds; it is just time and circumstance that will lead to their leaving?

√  not believe that pastoral influence has been severely marred by a lost respect and sense of integrity?

√  not grasp that most realize that “congregational rule” has been set aside on the altar of expediency?

Too often, relationships control, loyalty to people over personal integrity is the pattern, power and authority go to the head, local churches take yet another step backward — for years if not decades.

Apparently, for some . . . 
It is easier to dismiss the people
than address legitimate problems!

. . . . . .

. . . . . . 



First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale implodes over challenge to pastor’s iron rule

Church’s statement of faith — “Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation, each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord.”

https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/2020/10/14/alleged-whistleblowers-suit-against-fort-lauderdale-church-raises-red-flag-for-nonprofits/?slreturn=20210403083012

https://www.christianpost.com/news/florida-church-members-vote-to-fire-pastor-but-board-disputes.html

https://www.change.org/p/all-church-members-vote-of-no-confidence-for-pastor-james-r-welch-first-baptist-church-of-fort-lauderdale-fl

Click to access Notice-to-Membership-Rev-11_6.pdf

1. Pastor Welch speaking on the church by-laws
https://vimeo.com/firstbaptistftl

Pastor Welch addressing the church conflict
https://vimeo.com/firstbaptistftl

Pastor Welch explaining “Best Practices.”
https://vimeo.com/firstbaptistftl

2. Or who has to leave before someone takes note that there is a clear problem with a church or ministry.

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