Recently a friend and fellow Baptist from Cartersville brought a job posting from CrossPoint City Church to my attention. CrossPoint has advertised an opening for a “Kids Ministry Pastor”. Lord willing, I will be graduating from seminary this December. However, my friend did not bring this open position to my attention because he thought I would be interested in applying for it. Rather, he found the wording of the advertisement troublesome. So do I. In fact, I find CrossPoint troubling as an organization. It is, quite frankly, disturbing that CrossPoint is one of the fastest growing churches in Cartersville. A quick critique of its advertisement for a “Kids Ministry Pastor” demonstrates why. The advertisement is reproduced in full below, along with my commentary in italics.
|The two words that embody the spirit of CrossPoint City Church are passion and potential. When you walk into the doors of CrossPoint, you feel electricity in the air. God is moving and expanding their reach weekly.
“Passion” and “Potential”? Is this a description of a church or the top line of a Madison Avenue marketing manager’s resume? CrossPoint was once described to me by one of its former associate pastors as a “marketing machine”. I think his insider description has proven accurate. Scripture, in its description of Christ’s church, is completely devoid of the marketing terms with which this advertisement is replete. A local church of Jesus Christ should be described simply as “Holy”. CrossPoint gets creative. The organization describes its atmosphere as “electric”. This is a description usually reserved for concert venues and sporting events…shows…entertainment. “Reverent” would be better term to describe a church of Jesus Christ. However, “electric” is likely more appropriate for CrossPoint. A local Baptist deacon once described CrossPoint to me as featuring a “full production band that puts on more of a show rather than leading worship.” CrossPoint, the marketing machine, credits God as the one “moving and expanding their reach”. One might wonder, “If God is doing the moving and reaching why does CrossPoint need a marketing scheme.?” One might also wonder why CrossPoint decided, in this part of the advertisement, to refer to itself in the third person. Seth thinks praising oneself comes off as arrogant; writing in the third person makes it look like someone else is singing the praises of CrossPoint and talking about what God is doing there. In reality, CrossPoint is making its own claim about how great it is.
Just three years ago the church relaunched as CrossPoint City Church, and James Griffin became the Lead Pastor bringing new vision, focus, and passion to CrossPoint. In that time, they have seen the church expand to almost 1,400 people that call CrossPoint their home church. With a burning passion to see the 260,000 people in the region that are far from God restored into relationship with Him, their mission statement is, “We exist to relentlessly pursue those far from God with the hope and love of Jesus Christ. WE WILL NOT WAIT.”
So, the newest pastor has a new vision. Just so everyone is aware, the old vision, focus, and passion of the old pastor of CrossPoint, Michael Lukaszewski, was his secretary. He viewed her, focused on her, and engaged in a passionate two-year adulterous affair with her. When he admitted it and stepped down, the church rebranded itself as West Ridge (becoming a satellite campus of a church in another town). After a while, West Ridge installed James Griffin as pastor. Now, the church has “relaunched” (read that as “rebranded”) under his leadership. The original name (and branding) of the church was “Oak Leaf”. I’m not being loose with words here to call the church a “brand”, Lukaszewski actually wrote a blog about creating what he called the Oak Leaf brand. When he ruined the brand with his affair, the church had to change names.
Let’s examine the new brand and the new “brand manager” James Griffin. What kind of pastor is so self-important that he allows his church to mention his name in its job advertisements? I invite readers to view the pastoral and staff openings listed at the official Southern Baptist website (CrossPoint is a Southern Baptist church). I examined the first ten job listings for the state of Georgia and none of them mentioned the name of the senior pastor of the church. I also doubt that if I visited their websites that the first thing I’d see is a video of the pastor preaching. The first thing featured on CrossPoint’s website is James Griffin preaching. Griffith is apparently such premier caster of “vision” and bringer of “focus” that the church felt compelled to mention his name in its advertisements. Henry Ford…Steve Jobs…James Griffin. Visionaries! Exactly what was the church focused on before the one and only James Griffin got there? Did he bring some kind of new gospel or new Bible? Of course not, no one can do that. However, one can bring a new brand. Cross Point City Church certainly needed one for its “relaunch”
Let’s also examine CrossPoint’s mission statement, which states that it exists to “relentlessly pursue those far from God with the hope and love of Jesus Christ.” That’s certainly part of what a church should do (less marketing savvy people call it “evangelism”). However, a New Testament church is also tasked with equipping the saints for the work of ministry. Most of the work of a New Testament Church relates to edifying those who are close to God as a part of his family. This is not part of CrossPoint’s given mission statement. It is fairly described as a “seeker-sensitive” organization. A Cartersville resident named Phylis described the former “Oak Leaf Church” as “a seeker sensitive church where no one is condemned for their lifestyle regardless of how repugnant it is” which once “had people getting tattoos on the platform in front of the church during a service” and featured “Sex in the City Weekends” where the pastor would take a couple “for an overnighter to Atlanta and encourage them to bang their brains out.” My baptist deacon friend wondered how James Griffin could “be theologically sound in the pulpit but support so many homosexual couples attending without conviction.”
|CrossPoint is seeking out a strong visionary leader who has the ability to develop leaders, cast vision and develop strategies that will promote growth within the Kids Ministry. The staff and serve teams are excited to head into the next chapter and eager to begin partnering with a Kids Ministry Pastor at the helm.
A children’s minister should be able to faithfully teach Bible stories in a accurate, simple, and understandable way. Such a person needs to be able to communicate accounts of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, and the resurrection to kids. Yet CrossPoint seeks a “visionary”? Exactly how is that needed to teach kids Sunday school? “Vision Casting” is phraseology from the corporate world. Corporate officers and senior managers are expected “cast a vision” of success and help their employees achieve it. That CrossPoint uses this terminology gives the impression that it views its member volunteers as employees…unpaid employees who actually pay to work at CrossPoint. Whatever moving into the “next chapter” is certainly involves drawing a salary for arranging the work schedules of an army of volunteers. Nowhere in scripture…nowhere…are church leaders commanded to be “vision casters”. This terminology is just corporate speak and its relatively new to the church world. It usually shows up at churches that try to act like businesses and draw numbers through marketing schemes.
The Kids Ministry team has some amazing staff leading ministry at CrossPoint. With multiple gatherings over the weekend and every gathering continuing to grow, CrossPoint needs a strong team builder who can recruit and develop a strong team in all areas of CrossPoint Kids. Serving is a huge value at CrossPoint and people are encouraged to serve somewhere. The Kids Ministry Pastor should be able to cast a compelling vision and lead serve team members at a high level with the ability to have a 30,000 foot view of the entire ministry and provide support to all areas of ministry as needed.
There are multiple “gatherings” at CrossPoint. That’s careful terminology. They don’t call what they do “worship services” apparently . Unrepentant homosexuals certainly would want no part of worship…it’s a gathering. Notice that this “Kids Ministry Pastor” (is it a pastor for kids or for the kids ministry) says nothing about disciplining believers to maturity. His job is to organize groups and help grow numbers from 30,000 feet.
CrossPoint City Church should be marked for what it is, a biblically unconcerned marketing machine. For years, it’s allowed its female executive director, Suze Jordan, to preach to men at its Sunday “gatherings”. This is biblically prohibited; this is done at CrossPoint. I’ve noticed that long time members of older churches such as First Baptist and Tabernacle Baptist have defected to CrossPoint over the years. The members of these churches, rather than worrying about losing members, should be glad. Their churches are better off, they have less consumerists. They are at CrossPoint arm-waving to vapid Christian rock music. Attenders of CrossPoint should consider finding their way out of CrossPoint and to churches like Tabernacle and First Baptist…ones that haven’t had to rebrand multiple times over the past 100 years. For what it’s worth, I saw a CrossPoint window decal on a car and asked my wife what she thought it was. She thought it was a symbol for homosexuals.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.