Project Update: May 2016 ~ Part 1. Last 3 Pieces of Development Done …

One of the more difficult things I’ve had to deal with regularly in putting together a book is when I sense I should write up something that feels at the time like it’s just a distraction. A blog article on some seemingly irrelevant topic. A comment on a friend’s Facebook post. And, perhaps most angst-producing of all, a full-blown case study or resource bibliography on a situation of spiritual abuse.

These may take anything from a few minutes to many days of work. They seem to delay the finishing of my field guide project – or worse, leads down what seems like a rabbit trail that creates (yet another) false start or extends the end of when I can get this project finished. The kicker is, they often end up being the source for easy extraction of a relatively polished piece for the book. In terms that social scientists, computer coders, and other professionals use, these case studies turn out to be my “proof of concept.” That means they show that the ideas I’m working with are relevant, and work in at least a relatively small-scale situation. Who knew … And I hope I’m not fooling myself here, but I do trust that maybe in retrospect it’ll be more clear how the Spirit may actually have been leading me in this, all the way along.

Anyway, I do sense that the era of such seeming distractions for this book is over, and it’s time for one last push to get over the finish line, hopefully by mid-July. More on that goal and timeline recalibration in Part 2 of my update. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share three last pieces of content development that have come out of those unexpected articles and comments and case studies from March and April. They’re important pieces of the puzzle, and the natural extension of the work I did in putting together sets of 15 indicators of trustworthy versus toxic organizations.

  1. Some experiments with definitions and descriptions for the term “spiritual abuse.”
  2. Four categories for evaluating leadership qualifications and disqualifications.
  3. “The Grid of Background Factors” – and how spiritual abuse isn’t found only in one kind of theology.

These are all crucial elements in book #1 in my multi-book series on how to “Do Good Plus Do No Harm.” The first book is a Field Guide that overviews practical concepts, applications, and early-warning indicators for deconstructing systems that damage (which looks at how and why things go wrong when we want to do what’s right, how to repair damage if it happens), and setting up spaces that empower gives a comprehensive approach for enterprise start-ups and organizational renovations with work environments that are trustworthy instead of toxic. And now, the three elements … Continue reading

Project Update: May 2016 ~ Part 2. And 1 Last Push for the Finish Line …

With the development of the three items I shared in Part 1 of my update, I’ve come to a natural stopping point to evaluate what’s next. And after a few days of praying about it, and discussions with several close friends, here’s what I’ve concluded: I need to try for one last push to get this first book project over the finish line by mid-July.

I started editing the series in January 2009, and would greatly appreciate prayer for getting this first book done! The material is relevant to real-world spiritual abuse problems that people keep asking me about, and I’m able to articulate answers better and more quickly these days. My revised outline is in very good shape, and I have about half of the chapters/articles done. I have a stack of other bits and pieces on the concepts and film studies, ready to type up, paste together, and polish into the final draft.

Also, the timing feels crucial. I have one priority client I’m editing for periodically right now. I’ve worked with her on many world-changing projects over the past 10 years, and she needs to wrap up her current projects by mid-July. I’ll have large gaps in between periods of editing for her, so I can work on my project. Also, I have no other projects scheduled until later this summer. And, I know from experience that the hotter the weather gets, the lower my ability to concentrate and my stamina to write for long hours.

So, this two-month time frame seems optimal. I really could get done in July if it’s possible to keep going now. It’s always way harder to restart after a long stall than it is to keep rolling. But my main problem is that I don’t have the finances to get through this period. In fact, I’ve used up my financial reserves and am quickly getting behind. I am reposting the GoFundMe link to the fund-raising campaign that Dee Parsons and Deb Martin at The Wartburg Watch and Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board graciously started for me in November 2015. That helped immensely by raising enough for a couple months toward finishing the project. If you are led to give, great. If not, no worries. But I would definitely appreciate prayer for this one last push …

GoFundMe link for “Do Good and Do No Harm”: https://www.gofundme.com/an8jtj7p

Or, if you prefer, there’s a PayPal button at the top of the right-hand navigation bar on this blog.

Thanks — Brad

An Open Letter to “Together for the Gospel”: Don’t Tether Your Future to C.J. Mahaney’s Past

In the mid-1970s, my sister Romae [pronounced row-MAY] embarked on a journey into activism for those who survive abuse and violence. It began when a friend of hers needed help to escape a situation of physical and emotional battering. Seeing the terrible impact of domestic violence on her friend catalyzed an unknown strength inside my sister. It propelled her in the direction of advocacy for survivors and activism in society. Romae felt compelled by her faith in Jesus Christ to do something that would make a difference for the future. From that point forward, her ministry and service expanded to others who were frequently left to otherwise suffer alone — and who often found themselves abandoned by churches.

Frustratingly, for almost 40 years she found that theologically conservative, evangelical churches were the least responsive to opportunities she offered to train staff and congregations on child sexual abuse prevention, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Still, Romae persevered in this calling to support survivors and prevent more victims. Sadly, she passed away five years ago. But Romae left a legacy of help and hope, along with a fragrant awareness that her strength to carry on as an advocate and activist always came from Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and people’s prayers.

This day — April 12, 2016 — we come to a spotlight moment for “Together for the Gospel,” a theologically conservative, evangelical movement that claims to be dedicated to promoting the good news of Jesus Christ. C.J. Mahaney has been given a prominent public role as a T4G speaker and spokesman. There are protests because of Mr. Mahaney’s dominant leadership over the system of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches, which has remained mired in criminal convictions of child sexual abusers, and additional allegations of systemic protection for abusers, failure to report known/suspected abuse, and traumatizing victims and/or neglecting them.

Despite years of documentation about the spiritually corrosive SGM/SGC system, and appeals to various organizations to stop shielding Mr. Mahaney from the consequences of his leadership, still he speaks for and at T4G. This causes great agony to SGM abuse survivors, their families, and those who stand with them. Continue reading

Today, At Last, I Became a “Screenager” as Futuristguy Blog Turns 13!

Today, April 1, 2016, I turn 13. Well, not me, exactly. But sort of. My blog turns 13, which means I am now officially a “screenager.” Kind of a long time online for somebody my (real) age. It means I’ve been blogging more than 20% of my entire lifespan! And by the massive word-count from all my writings and bloggings, it would certainly seem to be I’ve been sitting here doing nothing but writing for 13 years …

Anyway, I started blogging on April 1, 2003, mostly at the insistence of a few friends from the “emerging ministry” WabiSabi event in Austin, Texas, earlier that spring – primarily Andrew Jones, Shannon Hopkins, and Jessica Stricker. I purposely picked April Fool’s Day to launch, just because my life so frequently seems like it’s at the edge of silly. Or over the edge into the absurd, actually. Continue reading

March 4th and MARCH FORTH!

Today and this weekend, I’ll be able to spend quite a bit of time working on my book project, Do Good Plus Do No Harm. I’ve already gotten most of the bits and pieces of text sorted into the appropriate main folders (18 chapters), and created the “stem” file to compile all the material into order within that chapter.

Next, I have to go through all the subfolders (usually 5 to 8 per chapter) to mesh all the bits and pieces of information in those, and put the results into the stem file.

Then I’ll list the articles in each stem file so I have a reference table of contents ready for when I start shifting articles around.

Then, edit the stem files.

Then sort out the individual articles into the four major compartments:

  • FIELD GUIDE (short articles on essential topics, with many art illustrations.
  • INDICATORS (how-to’s for measuring what matters for trustworthy versus toxic leaders and organizations).
  • WORKBOOK (case studies, media studies, simulation games).
  • RESOURCES (longer articles and descriptions for those who want more information).

Then, carefully catalog the numbers and titles of the 250 to 300 art illustrations I’ll need to license.

Then, carefully catalog the titles of 200-250 films, and 150-200 books I reference.

And then, voila! Just about done!

At this stage with such a complex project, a lot of “writing” actually turns out to be file management and digital glue. Who knew?

I don’t expect to be able to get this all done in one weekend, but maybe in one month. We’ll see. But regardless, this means I’m *many* steps closer to the finish line!

Hip-hip-hooray and hallelujah! And now, time for a break and an inspirational chit-chat with Mr Coffee …

RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Former Mars Hill Church Leaders and Alleged Co-Conspirators

Earlier today, Warren Throckmorton posted RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Former Leaders of Mars Hill Church. You can find a PDF of the 42-page complaint at this link. Filed by Brian and Connie Jacobsen, and Ryan and Arica Kildea, it names Mark Driscoll and John Sutton Turner, along with other alleged co-conspirators.

This RICO lawsuit against leaders of what was Mars Hill Church has been in the making for a long time. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. This is an extremely serious matter, and I believe there is a significant amount of information about alleged wrongdoing available. I spent at least 300 hours during 2014, researching and analyzing details in order to produce a case study on Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. If I remember correctly, it’s about 70,000 words – the equivalent of about a 160-page paperbook book.

On the first blog page of that case study is a summary of my reasoning for why I believe this type of lawsuit against Mars Hill leaders is justifiable; the allegations are not trivial matters. And note that I wrote most of the material on that page December 1, 2014. I originally put it on my blog as an article: Capstone 2-6: A Lawsuit Against Mars Hill Church Could be a Just Cause Because … I think you’ll find the entire article informative, but here is the key section of that page and post, just as it appeared over a year ago: Continue reading

My Guest Post on Spiritual Sounding Board

This morning I did a guest post on Spiritual Sounding Board: The Legacy That a Defamation Lawsuit Left to the Survivor Community.I think it’s an important piece of history for spiritual abuse survivors.

On February 22, 2012, Julie Anne Smith was served papers about her former pastor suing her and four others for $500,000, for alleged defamation. She’d posted critical reviews online of him and his church – Beaverton Grace Bible Church. The defendants won the lawsuit and Julie Anne continued her online presence with BGBC Survivors, which eventually became Spiritual Sounding Board. In less than four years since, this blog has had nearly 1 million hits on its home page! Here’s the final paragraph in my post:

But really, who would’ve thought that a lawsuit that seemed meant to intimidate and destroy, instead sparked resources to comfort and edify? Thanks, Julie Anne, for investing yourself in finding a redemptive edge within a destructive situation, and thereby bringing light and hope to many … You.Rock.

Worth a read, and a prayer of thanksgiving to God for how Julie Anne has invested herself in ways that make a difference for the Kingdom!