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Friday, March 17, 2006

Update: Calvary Abuquerque Releases Documents

I know many of you have been following our coverage of the leadership struggles at Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque.  It really makes for a great study of classic church conflict situations; only this one is especially sad because it is playing out in the newspaper and tv press in Albuquerque.

The story started here; and we updated you with the news that founding Pastor Skip Heitzip had resigned last week; but no communication has been released from the church since that announcement, well over a week ago.

Just yesterday, the church broke their silence, releasing a series of documents from the church and Heitzig.

Heitzig?  I thought he had resigned?

Well, turns out he has resigned, but the CCABQ board will not meet until next week to discuss whether or not to accept his resignation. 

In the mean time, Skip, through the church, and a newly empowered public relations firm, released this set of documents.  Seems a little weird that Skip is still around and in charge after resigning this church body twice now in about two years.

Again, the purpose of my post here is not really to take sides or to point fingers... but I think this is a fascinating study in church leadership and how NOT to handle things.

It appears that it is now entering the he said/he said phase.  The overall tone of the documents released (and they do have the feel of a PR press release) is that former pastor Pete Nelson was incompetent and that many of the problems that arose did so because, if anything, Pete was given too much power and that he wasn't supervised enough.

There are definitely two sides to every story.  It's just sad when either side in a church conflict need to hire a PR firm to deal with the media, who are all over this story.

In addition, it's being reported that about 650 people attended a meeting last night with the group of men who asked for Heitzig's resignation two weeks ago (the group Skip called arrogant and unbiblical).

This reminds me so much of so many church conflicts that I've seen.  The conflict breaks; then sides rally; and the sides duke it out until one side wins or gives up.  Half the church leaves and the body of Christ suffers... greatly.

We've heard from quite a few CCABQ members who are just tired and confused.  You see, many of them love both Skip and Pete, and this whole conflict is breaking their hearts.  And tearing apart their church.

Let's continue to pray for this fellowship, and the leadership.

Todd

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March 17, 2006 in Church Conflict | Permalink

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Comments

There are so many things I’d like to say about this I don’t even know where to begin. It’s so sad and not only is the press having fun with this, so is Satan. He just loves to see the church rip at each other and so-called “leaders” duke it out and point fingers.

First of all, since when does a board have to decide if they are going to accept your resignation? If I resign, that means, “I’m gone…bye!” How hard can that be?

To say in a press release that, “Pastor Pete Nelson was given too much power and that he wasn't supervised enough”, is the most stupid thing I’ve read yet. He was the pastor…HELLO! Pastors are suppose to lead and with authority. I think if anyone has too much power its Skip. In fact he has power in a church that he isn’t even the pastor of any longer. I have a suggestion for Skip in fact… “Go away” and let the church leaders work this mess out without your influence once and for all.

I wonder two things:

1. Where is something we use to call “pastoral ethics?” Once a pastor left a church, he was gone. His contact with people in his previous church was merely friendly and not pastoral. I was often invited back to do weddings at my precious church and never did so without the current pastor’s agreement. The reason was, I was the “former pastor.”

2. Where is Chuck Smith in all of this? There has seemed to be so much outside influence for men that are not even Calvary Chapel people on the board. So, where is the main man?

As a church consultant I have mainly dedicated my life to helping small to medium size churches. I did so because I figured that mega churches didn’t need a consultant. Now, I’m not so sure. Here’s some free advice.

1. Let Skip go.
2. Ask Pete’s forgiveness for not allowing him to lead and trusting him and working together.
3. Ask the congregations forgiveness for allowing this to happen.
4. Above all else ask God’s forgiveness.
5. Get out of the newspapers and settle God’s business within the church.
6. Get back to the business of the church. Matthew 28:19-20

Posted by: Andy McAdams | Mar 17, 2006 10:46:19 AM

Interesting thoughts, Andy. Having just walked through a similar (though less public) conflict at a 3,000+ member church, I was frustrated that we couldn't find a consultant to help us wade through the muck; they were all focused on smaller churches. Maybe you and I can team up and focus on the big guys!

I am grieved over the release of the documents at CCABQ. As an outsider looking in, they clearly draw lines between Skip and Pete - probably not Skip's intention, but real nonetheless. The question of what to publicize (even just to the church body) and what to retain as essentially confidential is a tough one, and no matter how it is answered, someone will say its wrong. Resolution of this will require far more humility than I see in those documents and far less focus on one or two people (Skip and Pete) - address the situation, any wrongdoing, and possible structural changes.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 17, 2006 12:07:30 PM

Ok, my first reaction is, why is Skip attacking Pete so much? I have not seen anyway release or statement from Pete putting Skip down or calling him a power hungry guy. He just left right, am I wrong? I listened to his resignation and he was very mature from what I can see. Skip seems to be over reacting. He should quite releasing statements and leave the church to conduct its own business. He is not a member of the church it is not his affair except to pray. He said he has resigned but does not look like it to me.
Having said all that, I think Pete needs to write a letter and ask the people to move one.

Posted by: Jade | Mar 17, 2006 3:43:39 PM

From Randy: I was frustrated that we couldn't find a consultant to help us wade through the muck; they were all focused on smaller churches. Maybe you and I can team up and focus on the big guys!

Hey Randy,

You may have something there. And I get the idea you even live near me. I tried to e-mail you and just got your blog. Can you contact me so we can chat?

Andy

Posted by: Andy McAdams | Mar 17, 2006 5:24:48 PM

From everything I have read so far along with personal conversations with a couple of friends from CCABQ, I have to say that I am persuaded this whole conflict has risen to a level beyond the ability of the leadership involved to successfully bring it to a resolve.

They are in desperate need of intervention from mature, trained and anointed counsel and mediation. If they insist on trying to handle this thing without such help, apart from a miracle (which I will surely be praying for on their behalf), they are destined for a one-sided claim of victory, denouncing of the opposition, and a devastated Church body that will not heal and with or without a complete split will surely die in bitterness and perpetuate future mistrust and greater spiritual abuse.

Randy & Andy,

The very thing you are thinking about is what my current life work and ministry seems to be evolving into. For the last 4 years I have been focused on bringing healing and restoration to wounded Pastors and Churches who have suffered from unresolved conflict, relationship and church division.

A little over a year ago I began a season where I found myself being called into the mix of church conflict situations as a mediator/counselor/consultant.

It has been a great experience when people are truly desiring Father's heart to rule in the outcome of their difficulties. Truth has a way of rising to the surface. His light is manifested and real Christians find themselves repenting, forgiving one another, being reconciled and moving forward with a renewed purpose and unity.

But there are often cases when we have one or more people who really are in the whole deal with a high level of ambition, pride and a lust for power and recognition. When these folks refuse to be sensitive to the Truth, hold their ground with being right as crucial to their own identity, and never own any responsibility for missing the mark, the outcome generally requires a complete separation for the sake of the larger body's future healing and growth.

So far, I have done this ministry because it is in my heart to do it and have never asked for any compenstion. However, my wife as well as several pastors and other leaders I regard highly are all telling me I need to put some real structure, organization and intentional pursuit into this ministry and allow it to also become a means of support for my family.

I'm sharing this just to tell you that I also would love to converse with both of you in regard to what you are considering. That is, if I would not be imposing on you.

With 25+ years of pastoring I have certainly experienced these painful conflicts on a personal level. I also bring to the table years of experience in Conflict Resolution as a Certified Mediator and a professional Counselor.

If I could help and/or hook up with you guys to see if the Lord might want to do smething like this, please let me know. If not, i wholly agree with the spirit of your thoughts and will surely be supporting you in prayer.

Posted by: Jim Eaton | Mar 18, 2006 12:48:21 AM

Wow, Jim, how articulate, I love it.

You say,

"It has been a great experience when people are truly desiring Father's heart to rule in the outcome of their difficulties. Truth has a way of rising to the surface. His light is manifested and real Christians find themselves repenting, forgiving one another, being reconciled and moving forward with a renewed purpose and unity.

But there are often cases when we have one or more people who really are in the whole deal with a high level of ambition, pride and a lust for power and recognition. When these folks refuse to be sensitive to the Truth, hold their ground with being right as crucial to their own identity, and never own any responsibility for missing the mark, the outcome generally requires a complete separation for the sake of the larger body's future healing and growth."

How truly heartbreaking it is when a leader we revere is exposed by a crisis as being in the unteachable category you so poignantly describe. We are all praying that is not the case at CCABQ.


Posted by: Bob Hunt | Mar 19, 2006 11:41:25 AM

You can look at the CA issues either as a crisis or as a time of purification. In my heart I believe it to be the latter. The season of pruning and purification is well underway. The one thing that moves me to sadness is to know that so many of the newly saved will flounder because of this. The Spirit of discernment tells me that our founding pastor remains yet to be humbled. He truly is a magnificent bible teacher, but oh how he has allowed Satan to take a foothold! And the sad thing is, I don't think he even realizes that the evil one has done so! Rather than facing the flock in humility, he will hide behind a publick relations firm! Now the spin off begins! God will not be mocked. Every person that refuses to humble himself before our Lord will be brought to their knees. God's timing is perfect. I remain in prayer for my fellow brothers and sisters at CA, and for both Skip and Pete. Our Father God will restore, in His timing, not ours. We miss Pete.

Posted by: Rose Smith | Mar 19, 2006 9:09:23 PM

I agree. A person resigns, they leave. I don't know about why a board is required to approve unless it is in the by-laws. It would be an act of love to walk away from this group and allow healing to begin.

I remember a church in the 1980's - a Korean Baptist Church. About 50 percent of the members were dissatisfied with the pastor and called a vote of confidence. It was split. The pastor stayed but the other group called another pastor. You had two groups singing different hymns in worship and two pastors trying to preach one Sunday that ended in a fist fight at the pulpit between the pastors. Hmmmm. Sad. The one pastor should have resigned with a 50% vote of confidence and let things heal.

Posted by: Dan Moore | Mar 20, 2006 9:15:11 AM

Jim,

Randy and I have both tried to e-mail you. I'd really like to chat with you.

Posted by: Andy McAdams | Mar 20, 2006 11:05:12 AM

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