Learn to Discern, Personal Stories, Recovery Process, Safe Churches, SPIRITUAL ABUSE RECOVERY

“Do Good and Do No Harm” Project by Brad Sargent aka FuturistGuy


Spiritual Sounding Board and The Wartburg Watch are supporting a Go Fund Me Campaign to help Brad Sargent finish the first stage of  developing resources that will assist survivors of church abuse.

Most of my long-time readers know Brad aka “FuturistGuy.” I met Brad after spiritual abuse author Barb Orlowski pooled people together she thought might be able to support me right after I found out I was being sued by my former pastor. Brad, himself a spiritual abuse survivor, took special interest in my case. Because he had studied spiritual abuse and followed abuse trends in the church, Brad had a sense that my lawsuit story might represent a new and trending kind of abuse by pastors and church leaders. From the early days in which the media spread my story, he started documenting statistics, following news articles, interviews, blog articles, key people, court documents, and even following up on abusive activities by my pastor long after we won the lawsuit.

Sure enough, he was right about the lawsuit trend, and we have seen other pastors sue congregants (i.e., Pastor Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia and Pastor Steve Wingfield of First Christian Church of Florissant).

But the wonderful thing is that Brad had my case organized and documented so well, that others who have been sued could read it, get an idea of what a church lawsuit case entails, get ideas of possible issues they might encounter, etc. Now, the BGBC (Beaverton Grace Bible Church) Archives has become more than a helpful resource, it’s actually a template for other cases (see Lourdes Torres vs Doug Phillips case).  I have sent the BGBC Archives link numerous times as people contact me about lawsuits or potential lawsuits. A lawsuit a very scary situation to be in, and having good information is so helpful for survivors.

My case is only one example of how Brad has used his skills to help others. Since I’ve known Brad, he has gathered information and documentation on other public cases: Prestonwood Baptist case, Alex Grenier/Tim Taylor vs Pastor Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia lawsuit (Who Would Jesus Sue Campaign), Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, Emergent/Progressive leader Tony Jones, Lourdes Torres vs Doug Phillips lawsuit, and that’s just off the top of my head. This guy knows spiritual abuse very well and is my go-to guy for information, brainstorming, support, etc. This does not include the many cases and documentation of abuse prior to the nearly 4 years I have known him.

Brad is like an encyclopedia when it comes to spiritual abuse and systems of abuse, and I was thrilled to find out a few years ago that he was in the process of writing training curriculum. I’ve read a lot of books out there on abuse. When you are new to the subject of spiritual abuse, they are very helpful, but Brad’s material is new and different. It puts tools in the hands of church leaders, Christian organizations, lay people, etc.

And I just love the “Do Good and Do No Harm” title because that is what what we should all strive to do as Christians.  The Do Good and Do No Harm message is the framework of the content. I’m excited to see this material in the hands of Christians who want to make sure their ministry work is based on the “Do Good and Do No Harm” motto as we walk out our faith in love and action in dealing with others. Let’s face it, when there is abuse in an organizational structure, the work produced there is rubbish. We want to be good stewards of our time and efforts in our ministry work and I think that is what this material will help accomplish.

Please pray and see if you feel led to help Brad get this work completed.  Dee Parsons of The Wartburg Watch is also spreading the word.  I am honored to do this for Brad. He has meant so much to me.  ~Julie Anne

brad sargent


Here’s the link for the “Do Good and Do No Harm” GoFundMe for Brad Sargent, and below is his description of his project:

In the last 7 years, I’ve been producing a training curriculum for social justice start-ups and church planting endeavors to “Do Good Plus Do No Harm.” I began it after losing my job when the economy tanked in late 2008, and have put many hundreds of hours into it.

The project started out as a curriculum about culture and ministry. But it evolved, because I needed to process a lot of experiences with spiritual abuse and in working with non-profits and church plants. I believe we can do ministry better, in ways that don’t inflict the kind of damage on others that we’ve unfortunately been seeing in the Church and community for many years. So, it’s now a 3-volume project on how to understand systems, discern trustworthy vs. toxic leaders and organizations, and set up sustainable projects.

I believe “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” will help other abuse survivors process their experiences, and find redemptive ways to make a difference so what happened to us doesn’t happen so often to others. I’ve also designed it with lots of “indicator scales” so it can be a base for evaluating how safe – or sick – a church, ministry, or organization is. (The need for some evaluation system like that keeps coming up in conversations among survivors.) And who knows, it might even end up as a ministry development guide for those who are “Done” with institutionalized churches and are looking for alternative routes for Kingdom service in their communities. It’s all kind of the outworking of what my business card says: “Superhero Sidekick: I help people identify, validate, amplify, and activate their superpowers. And, hopefully, help them keep from distributing their kryptonite krud on others.”

I’m finally very close to finishing the first 2 volumes, and could really use a boost so I can write full-time for a few months and get them done. I don’t have the “platform” that an established publisher would require, so I’m planning to just do print-on-demand publishing. Once the first two volumes are available, sales will hopefully cover my finishing the third volume and get into the other related trainings, technical tools, and measurement systems I’ve been developing. If you’re interested in sample articles, visuals, and workbook exercises, check out my Futuristguy’s Field Guides site.  I know some of my writings are dense and intense, and I hope you’ll see that I’ve worked hard to make these books accessible and practical.

Finally, thanks for considering helping me out – and my thanks to Dee and Deb at The Wartburg Watch, and to Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board, for getting the word out. Their blogs have shaped the way I understand the larger landscape of authoritarian abuse of power, and I appreciate their work.


P.S. Feel free to leave comments and questions about Brad’s project. He plans to check in on this post and respond.

19 thoughts on ““Do Good and Do No Harm” Project by Brad Sargent aka FuturistGuy”

  1. Brad, you rock! I’ve learned so much from your comments and posts over the last nearly four years. You are a gem to the survivor community.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks all y’all — great to have enthusiastic support, especially since this is one of the main communities I’ve been doing this to help. And special thanks to Julie Anne for promoting the campaign. Been quite a journey since the BGBC lawsuit, eh?

    Anyway, this process has been like a combination steeplechase and marathon, and I’m *really* looking forward to plopping over that finish line relatively soon. Hooray! B-

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Brad,

    I was talking about you on a short road trip with my husband yesterday. He’s got three publications he wants me to write up, and I couldn’t help but think about all your help and amazing feedback when editing my blog posts now almost two years ago. I found our exchanges to be so helpful and encouraging to me, and your insights into writing style were so delightful. I’ve started working on more concrete random creative stuff recently, and that has had you on my heart as well.

    I look forward to see your labor of love and pain bear much fruit — exceedingly abundantly above all you’ve ever dreamed. Peace, strength, and renewal to you!


    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks so much, Cindy, for your encouraging words and prayers and blessings. Writing is one of those long-haul callings that is often lonely, even exhausting, but ultimately worthwhile. Glad that some of the cool stuff that’s been passed along to me through the years in writing/editing has resonated with you and helped in your projects! We can all be a superhero sidekick to someone else … so, it’s encouraging that the use gets multiplied by passing it on. Wishing you well on forthcoming projects — and lots of creativity!


  5. ^^^^Wow – I remember back in the day reading Cindy’s blog and learning so much about spiritual abuse, patriarchy, etc. It’s so, so cool to be friends with probably the best of the best when it comes to knowledge about abuse systems. You both have made such an impact in the survivor community – two live encyclopedias we can tap into for real helpful information! Thank you, both!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Brad, it’s funny with us SGAs (Second Generation Adults who grew up in spiritually abusive religions or families). In many ways, we live life in reverse. The stuff we should have had built into us by the time we hit adulthood ends up being the stuff we have to work on later in life. Yet we can also do the things that others often can’t imagine. I was taught to play to my weaknesses and not to my strengths, and I find that for me, the hardest part of that is now giving myself permission to figure out what I “want” to do rather than what I was told or what I “should” have done.

    You observed how I’d found a niche that worked for me as an Abstract Sequential writer, but that natural Concrete Random girl that is re-emerging borders on terrifying. And like an insect emerging from a cocoon, it’s happening regardless of my level of comfort. Loving models and theories, I just found your linguist perspective so telling. It is a bitter sweet thing to think that a child can be shaped into something they’re not naturally suited to do, but there is also the sense of accomplishment and adaptability that is learned in the doing. I’ve found a tremendous message of hope in that and one of your emails in particular keeps coming back to me as a whisper to keep moving forward.

    I’ve promised to do some creative project (previously deemed worthless to the world) every day, if just for a little while. I keep thinking back to your analysis of my style of writing, and I tell myself that if I could learn one fairly well, I can surely relearn what I buried and what I thought that my spiritually abusive church took away from me. Eric Pazdziora has also been a part of that, too, as any serious or “too devoted” pursuit of music and things creative were squelched to some degree. He posted some facebook stuff that echoed what I thought of as my old life — and it was like God was reading my mail and speaking to me through it. His insight dovetailed so well with what you’d observed, and I’ve thought of it several times a week since my heart took this new turn.

    I hope, pray, and wait with happy anticipation to see so much more of the same from your work. I am so grateful for all of you.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. May the day come when we can find this same place of safety that you and Julie Anne (and Kathi, Tim, and persevering Barb Orolowski) have worked to build right in our own local churches. I’m so grateful to have found this support online through this strange place called the internet, but may all that has come about from so much pain and misery work to change things so that people can readily find this same support in their own local churches. Too many people just don’t. May it change and change profoundly!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ah, and here’s my NACR Daily Devotion. God’s reading my mail indeed.

    Daily Meditation for Thursday 05th of November 2015

    I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
    I will meditate on all your works
    and consider all your mighty deeds.
    Psalm 77:11-12

    Sometimes hope fails us because of the pain of present circumstances. The intensity of the daily struggle can overwhelm us and crowd out hope for the future. We find ourselves unable to focus on a hope-full future because we cannot see beyond the burdens of the present. But we need hope in order to continue the journey. Without it we cannot go on. Without hope there is only the despair that comes when we think nothing will ever change.

    Reviewing our experiences of God’s help in the past is one way of nurturing hope. When present events crowd out hope, leaving despair and fear, we can turn to the disciplines of remembering. It can sustain our faith and renew our determination to continue the journey.

    Remembering is not an easy discipline for us. Our memory is not good. Even miracles seem to age quickly – they become ‘miracles of long ago’. Things that seemed unimaginably wonderful at the time can quickly fade in our memory as present concerns demand our attention. Dramatic breakthroughs in recovery that seemed to be powerful signs of God’s grace and presence may seem painfully ordinary after a few months. For this reason it may be necessary to find someone to help us with the discipline of remembering. Hope can often be renewed by asking a trusted friend to remind us where we have been. An objective review of the journey to this point helps us see God’s sustaining grace in our lives. And that gives us the hope to go on.

    Lord, help me to remember the specific ways
    you have sustained me in the past.
    Help me to remember how I have changed.
    Help me to remember your love and grace
    so that I can grow in my capacity for hope today.

    Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

    From Rooted in God’s Love to which you can also subscribe daily by email:


  9. @ Cindy K. You go, Concrete Random Woman! (Hey … maybe that could, like, be your super heroine name, and you could fight for what’s right by bedazzling your foes with sprays of cupcake sprinkles and, oh, say, torrents of wordles that capture their cliches for Instagram. Or something like that.) (I bet you have many such creative superskills that shall eventually emerge!) 🙂

    Glad the learning style analysis stuff was of help, Cindy. I think it’s one of the insights that has helped me most to survive, since I just don’t seem to be “wired” in any usual way. (But who is?) What a relief to realize my brain *was* working in the very ways that God designed me for!

    Anyway, I’ve been out for a couple days at an intercultural event, and so am late in getting back to this thread. But I had a great conversation with a professor friend of mine that’s relevant. It was about how sooo many churches and ministries are run in ways that make them mono-cultural. One way of thinking and acting seems to be all they know or even want to know, and that’s what they pass on to the next generation. Conformity by all, to those who are in power over that perspective.

    That conversation transitioned over to talking about how even if we’re not in a multicultural-multiethnic group, we still have people with multiple different learning styles as a group. So, will we stay mono-cultural with a group-think mindset? Or, since there is always something to adjust to with people of different learning styles, will we draw insight from others and their perspectives, and learn how God-given diversity can become a strength for us as a group instead of a source of confusion and conflict?

    And so, there it is. Interculturalism is intentional. And we who are dominant Concrete Random in our Mind Style can rock on with all the others when that’s the milieu of our ministries!


  10. Thought I share a mid-November update. I’m very grateful for people’s generosity and prayers. It’s been a great de-stressification to get all my November bills paid and have the rest of the month clear to write! Looks like I might have Volume #1 done in the next few weeks, because I’ve had a productive period lately. I got my promotional website launched, related media pages planned out, and a last stack of notes typed and ready to paste into place. I also got outlining done for workbook sections for all three volumes so there’s continuity.

    And I was recently at an event where I got constructive feedback from people in my target audience. That helps, as it confirms the sense that I’m on the right track with helping people tackle both what TO do, and what NOT to do in organizations and start-ups, in order to deal with abuse!

    I began this project almost exactly 7 years ago. Who knew writing it’d take this long? But I feel like this support campaign has given me a second wind so I can run to the end. (Okay, walk briskly.) Thanks for your part in making this happen!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. UPDATE, EARLY DECEMBER: Significant progress the past few weeks on the workbook and overall project.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my God-given design is to write encyclopedias. (Some here probably realized that way before I did.) However, the calling for this book project has also clearly been to create a scaled-back “field guide.” So, throughout the production of this training course, I’ve had some major issues to figure out:

    (1) How large the various pieces should be in the book versus workbook sections.

    (2) How to fit different elements — text, images, case studies, “lab work” exercises — together in a way that makes sense and isn’t overwhelming.

    (3) How to balance the needs of two interconnected audiences: survivors of various kinds of organizational power abuse, and different types of organizational developers.

    (4) How to keep it a reasonable length, and make the language practical and accessible instead of too academic.

    The combination of answers has eluded me for years. But — good news — it seems I’ve leaped over that last pothole in this steeplechase at last! The issue of the workbook was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place, I feel like I finally have a workable format.

    After a couple weeks focusing on the workbook, I spent a whole week getting files and folders for that framework ready, and now I’m in the process of pasting hundreds of pieces into their slot to get them ready for a final editing.

    I’m feeling encouraged and even more a bit more energized than usual. And it’s getting exciting to know the finish line is very close!

    Meanwhile, thanks again to everyone for your encouragement and support, and hope you all have a meaningful Advent season …

    Liked by 1 person

  12. UPDATE, MID-DECEMBER: This has been a low-key day of multi-tasking on odds and ends, much needed after a number of high-intensity weeks on the book project and eBay sales listings. I’ve often said that most writing/editing days are like taking two college essay exam finals. It just takes time to recuperate mentally. But this project has been like two essay finals a day, four days a week, 50 weeks a year, seven years. Hence, need to steward energy well by taking down time regularly.

    So, to chill out, today I’ve been copying and pasting notes into the right file for the chapter it fits with. While watching the X-Men movie series. Which I’ve seen a kazillion times, more or less, so I can fade in and out on them and not exactly lose the plot line. And it keeps these characters in mind, which is good since I’m using X-Men as a case study in opposing teams where one has a mission for the “common good” (led by Professor Xavier) and the other has a mission for the “greater good” (led by Magneto). Lots to material to compare/contrast in that case study, and apply to contemporary situations …

    Meanwhile, the files and folders are set up for chugging through editing together the rest of the chapters. I’ve gotten the 200+ films I reference categorized and shelved. Most of the 8 to 10 boxes of books I might refer to are reorganized. So, it’s doing whatever tasks I can on a given day to persevere and make progress toward the finish line. And today, it’s fighting off fatigue by multi-tasking with the X-Men.

    Hope you have a great rest of the year and a super start to 2016!

    2016 — the year this project gets finished and printed, Lord willing! Thanks for your prayers along the way …


  13. P.S. For those interested, here are some thoughts of the moment regarding the X-Men movies and opposing approaches to what constitutes “the good.” It’s ironic that Magneto is a survivor of the death camp at Auschwitz – a manifestation of the Nazi’s drive for the “greater good” of the Aryan race – and yet he adopts the same philosophy to protect his fellow Mutants, at least initially.

    The “greater good” typically ends up in self-benefit, under the guise of doing something that promotes a favored group. It was the philosophy of Herod in the slaughter of the innocents, as much as it was of Hitler in his “final solution” for the Jews. But with striving for the “common good,” it’s the philosophy that individuals benefit when the group as a whole makes progress. As in the Code of Dinotopia, “One raindrop raises the sea.” This can’t happen at the exclusion or sacrifice of this or that person, this or that group.

    Those of us who’ve survived spiritual abuse in churches or ministries have experienced the difference. We know how abuse of power ends up for the “self good” for few, the supposed “greater good” for some, and “not good” for us.


  14. I’ve been using this thread for updates on my book project, and here’s the link and introduction to my latest blog post, which reflects some of the thinking I’ve been doing about specific “indicators” for vetting, background checks, and system evaluations, We need these to discern who and what deserves our trust (or doesn’t).


    Recently, I edited a friend’s medical research grant for a follow-up study on a major public health issue. It focuses on identifying specific biological indicators of a particular disease, and figuring out mechanisms for how the interaction of body and “biomarkers” works. If we can discern the connections that predict the disease, then we can work on prevention and improve overall health. This post shares my forthcoming Field Guide’s 15 indicators for discerning what constitutes healthy versus malignant leaders, and trustworthy versus toxic organizations.


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