Hostage Situation: Who’s Missing?

Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”  –Wikipedia 

Did you know numerous fellow church members have left to join other churches but their membership letters are not being sent by FBC Sapulpa?  This is because there is an intentional strategy to hide the embarrassing exodus that is under way.  You WILL NOT see most of these transfers on the clerk’s report at the monthly business meeting.  Do you know why?

Unless you grew up in a traditional baptist church, you may not understand what the “letter” actually is.  Is it a physical document?  Is it a scarlet “A”?  What is it?  This is baptist church 101.  Here is what you need to know.

The three ways to join a traditional baptist church:

  • By Baptism When you are saved and are baptized, you join a church “by baptism.”  Your church keeps a record of your baptism and membership on file from this date forward.  This is your “letter”.
  • By Letter When you join another church of like faith (baptist) this information is sent to your new church.  You are said to have had your “letter transferred” or “joined by letter”.  Your letter is only sent if you are considered a member in good standing in your old church.  (As in you are not currently under church discipline.)
  • By Statement However if for some reason your old church refuses to send your letter, you must join the new church “by statement of Christian experience.”  Your record starts over at this point.  You have no official history of salvation or baptism.

Several sources have confirmed that FBC Sapulpa is refusing to release church members’ letters when they are joining other baptist churches.  This is not an isolated incident.  People who have left to join FBC Jenks, The Way Church, or other baptist churches in the Tulsa Metro are being forced to join by statement. Instead of sending the letters to the departing members’ new churches, FBC Sapulpa is putting them on the FBC inactive member list and keeping their letter.

This ingenious strategy accomplishes a few things.  First, it prevents their names from showing up on  the clerk’s report.  When members simply go inactive the church is not typically notified.  However when they transfer to another church, they show up as “losses” at the monthly business meetings.  Too many losses and it starts to reflect negatively on the power brokers and contradict the “everything is fine” narrative.  If they were to show correctly as losses, it also specifies what church they joined.  This is free advertisement for their new church and FBC Sapulpa doesn’t like competition.

In a real bible believing Christ centered church, members are not viewed as human capitol and losses are not seen as anything detrimental per se.  However in a sick and flailing church like FBC Sapulpa Inc, losses of the magnitude which are currently experiencing are an indicator that something is very very wrong.

Here are some questions to ask yourself at the next meeting.

  • Have you noticed that the number of chairs in the sanctuary has been reduced so it doesn’t look as empty?
  • How many deacons can you name who have resigned in the last 3 years?
  • How many other “regular” church members have left to go to other churches?
  • How many have joined The Way Church?
  • How many membership transfers have you seen to The Way Church?
  • What reason is there for not allowing these members to transfer? (Hint: 9Marks!)

That’s right… it’s still about discipline.  The Sapulpa Messenger warned you about this in our post entitled “You May be OWNED by a 9Marks Church” (available in the members’ blog).  In essence the angry tyrants in charge of the church have put these members under church discipline.  It’s no secret most of them have left under tumultuous circumstances.  Departing FBC Sapulpa without kissing the rings of the kings is not permitted. You will be punished.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself.

  • Can all those people (100+) who have left FBC Sapulpa really be “liars”, “evil”, and “divisive people working for Satan” as the king of FBC Sapulpa has stated?
  • Do they all deserve to be under church discipline?
  • Shouldn’t FBC Sapulpa at least have the guts to tell these members that FBC is not transferring their letter because they’re under discipline?
  • How long will it be before you are the target?

So in summary,  if you’ve left FBC Sapulpa and joined another church make sure you actually got your letter transferred.  Check with the church office to make sure they sent it, but also don’t take their word for it.  Check with your new church to make sure they received it.  Finally, if you’re planning on sticking around FBC Sapulpa with us to follow this thing through to the end, just be aware that the number of friendly people who are capable of voting in a rational manner is rapidly dwindling.

There isn’t much left to salvage… At the end of the day what we are left with is:

  • A campus that is a monument to our pride,
  • A debt ridden church that belongs to a bank,
  • A deacon board that is a chamber of commerce for local business men,
  • Seniors that are terrified of their church staff,
  • Young families who don’t care to be mentored by a ranting out of touch church cheerleader.
  • A church where you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

And if you can’t leave that makes you a hostage.  If you don’t have the will to stand up and fight, then welcome to Stockholm Syndrome.