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
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.