Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reason #Six: He's my Hero!

My DH (Dear Hubby) took on the whole POWER TEAM in a face-to-face confrontation and he won! Let me tell you, that took some guts!!!

Allow me to explain:

A couple of months ago, DH received an e-mail stating that "The Power Team" would be in some churches and schools in the area. [Mistake #1: not doing his homework, taking the time to call for recommendations]

The Power Team arrived on schedule, with John preaching in the morning services, and the team performing Sunday through Wed. night, 7pm. All went well, for at least the first day, with the exception of a rumor that John might be heading off to go hunting after the first service, which proved untrue. [Mistake #2: leaving the details to staff, communicating primarily through them]

The team performed so well on Sunday night that a very generous offering came in. When our secretary approached John with the envelopes, he dismissed her arrogantly with a wave of his hand and said, "Just put them over there." (No "thank you's", no manners, not even a bit nice!) This was just one example of the progressive revelation of "true colors" as the days passed.

To their credit, the Power Team packed out the church each night, and masses of people responded to the altar calls. They took the message of salvation into the schools, and faithfully put on their show for anyone who would watch--even appearing on a local television station. From an observer's point of view, it was a great success.

Staff meetings provided a whole different point of view, however. Team members were reported to have been downright rude, not to mention ungrateful, to volunteers who provided food after the services. They were seen at Denny's after one meal by several members of the congregation. So, they didn't like our food--oh well!

Meanwhile, DH sat through each successive night, his angst growing at an alarming rate. The offering pitch was his biggest contention, for it seemed to grow longer and more manipulative each night. I asked DH point-blank if it was the money that upset him. Was he at all envious or disturbed at the church-going, tithe-paying people giving so generously to this "cause"? To be honest, I know it did anger him, that weekly offerings have been so meager, and church finances were down quite a bit, and in one day these people "milked" $20,000 from the same crowd.

DH finally approached John on Tuesday night, the third "performance" of the Power team, before the service began. He responded to John's query about the flow of the service, by asking him to "tone" down the offering pitch and shorten it by half. Well, that night John pulled out all stops on the offering time and it was longer and more heart-wrenching than ever. The ultimate "straw" was when John made the plea for $10,000 more to cover expenses, saying they'd already brought in $2,000! (No, I didn't forget the extra zero, but he did!) DH came home fuming, and stewed over that all the next day.

The showdown occurred on the last night. John appeared five minutes before the service began, as was his pattern. He went to great lengths to avoid DH, even hurriedly taking one of his team members aside and praying for him, as he saw DH walking toward him. Not to be daunted, DH waited until John was seated on the front row in the sanctuary, and made his move.

After a few lines of small-talk, DH stated firmly, "I'm taking the offering tonight." "Okay, you take yours and I'll take mine," John retorted. "No, you don't get it--I'm going to take the offering tonight, not you," said DH. "No!" said John. "Yes!" "No..." "Yes!" Suddenly, angry and red-faced, John rose up out of his chair, stormed up to the platform, and shouted to his team members, "You won't believe what this preacher is trying to do!"

At this point DH didn't know whether John would grab some bricks and start heaving them at him or whether he would just flatten him with one blow. What if he did get punched, would he be tempted to hit him back and get into a fist-fight right in front of the whole sanctuary? What if the crowd thought it was a staged act, and started to cheer them on? The one thing DH did know was that this situation could get out of hand very quickly, and he was afraid, very afraid.

He wasn't going to let a big bully intimidate him, though, so he followed John right on up the stairs of the platform, turning his back on the audience, and proceeded with a very heated confrontation with John and his side-kicks in front of the whole church for about fifteen minutes!

DH clearly specified his reason for not allowing John to take an offering, saying that he had been using false doctrine and deception to manipulate his people into giving money. He cited specific phrases and quotes John used the night before that were just plain wrong. All the while, John was not backing down one inch, instead rallying his Power team members around him.

Some of the comments made were outlandish, some were humorous, and some were just sad.

John: "We won't get near the amount of money, if I don't take the offering."
DH: "Yeah, but you'll sleep better tonight."

John: "I learned all of my offering techniques from other pastors."
DH: "Well, that doesn't make it right!"

John: "You can't steal money from me; you have to let me take this offering!"
DH: "You have a choice, you can let me take the offering, or I can make an announcement and send all these people home, and be assured that I will tell them why."

The classic line, and the clincher to win the confrontation was this statement by DH: "John, you are out of control. This is my church and these are my people. I'm going to take the offering tonight, and if I have to, I'll call the police and have them haul you out of here!"

After that, the show went on without a hitch, culminating with a grand finale--the preacher, my DH himself, broke a big pile of bricks on stage. He smashed through six bricks, but he told me later his adrenalin was so pumped he could have broken more. When the show was over, he had three kids come up and ask him for his autograph!

He wasn't done with John, yet, though. Amazingly, John had calmed down and was purring like a kitten in DH's office. John was singing a different tune, about how sorry he was, and how DH had made him reconsider his actions and motives. Then he told DH, "No minister has ever talked to me that way before. You've got a lot of {guts}! (Actually, he used a different part of the anatomy.)

In retrospect:
DH told me that was the hardest confrontation he had ever had in his life. I am convinced that there was a lot more going on than a Power Team on a power trip. Though it had all the makings of a playground encounter with a bully, this wasn't just about egos and brute strength. DH, the shepherd of his flock, was in an all-out spiritual battle, defending the church against a demonic spirit of intimidation. [Mistake #3: not being "wary of wolves in sheep's clothing"]

My DH won the fight; and he is my hero!