16 August, 2007

Youth Pastor Fired - Teaches Too Much Bible

HAGERSTOWN, MD - Youth pastors leave churches on a regular basis. Youth pastors are even occasionally fired. However, youth pastors are not normally fired for teaching too much bible. That's what happened last month at Exciting Grace Lutheran Church.

Jeremy Willis, former youth pastor at Exciting Grace, contacted us at TBNN to tell his story. He is still upset and shocked at the situation.

According to Willis, "After graduating from bible college in Richmond, I really wanted to serve the Lord in youth ministry. I mailed out my resume all over, and was quickly contacted by Exciting Grace. When I visited the church, we had a great meeting. The search committee told me that they really wanted their kids to learn the bible. They said that the parents were not doing a good job of it, and that I needed to be the one to do it. I also met with the youth. The whole visit was exciting and encouraging."

That was in October of 2005. Unfortunately for Willis, by early 2006, the grumbling had begun amongst the parents and youth.

Willis told us, "I went to Exciting Grace looking forward to teaching the bible and leading the youth to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Lord Jesus. Because of that, on almost every occasion that the youth gathered, I taught some bible. We usually also played some games, sang songs, and ate unhealthy food. However, the focus was God's Word. I get thrilled to see teens who dive into the bible. I love it when their eyes light up when they understand a concept for the first time. That was apparently not what some people wanted."

It appears that Willis' vision for youth group differs from that of many of the folks at Exciting Grace.

Wendy Simpson, who has two children in the Exciting Grace youth group, told TBNN, "Kids spend a lot of their day in school. They need a place where they can go to feel relaxed and accepted. They don't need a lot more instruction. They have hard lives at school. Where better for them to have exciting fun than at church? Pastor Willis just taught too much bible."

Rev. Phil Chambers, senior pastor at the church, would not grant TBNN an interview, but did send us a letter. In it Chambers said, "Jeremy Willis is a fine teacher of the bible. However, our youth and parents have a vision of a youth group that centers on the needs of the kids. Youth these days need a place where they can have good, clean fun in a safe environment. Mr. Willis' dismissal has nothing to do with him personally, but rather speaks to the difference in vision about what a youth group should be. Teaching the bible is fine, but just not too much bible."

Willis is currently out of work and looking for another youth position. He summed up the situation this way, "When they interviewed me, they told me they wanted bible. But when I got there, that wasn't the case. What they really want is exciting fun."

Who will be the next youth pastor at Exciting Grace? Mrs. Simpson, who we quoted above, told us, "We need someone who knows their bible, but also someone who likes to have a good time. Skills such as juggling, horseback riding, and pie eating are all desirable."


Nicholas said...

Is this really satire? Sooooo close to what is true -- in fact, I had to keep checking the name of the church to ensure that I didn't know the place the article is talking about!

Good stuff Eric -- You hit the nail head on. Yikes!

Elder Eric said...


I wrote this post in your memory, er, in your honor.


Sewing said...

I second Nicholas' impression: this sounds too realistic!

Chris said...

In most Tom in the Box posts, I usually chuckle while at the same time lamenting the fact that it's often closer to the mark than it should be, etc.

I did not chuckle at this post. This is exactly what I hear people saying about pastors who I think are good teachers.

"Yeah, he's alright, but he hammers on the Bible too much!"

"He appears to be so heavenly minded that he's no earthly good, and I don't think God likes that."

"He mentions the Bible in his sermons waaay too often."

This was a great post, and something I think everyone should read and think upon. And then read Jude, and wonder about all those people who want to have their ears tickled.

And then take a good look at exactly why it is that some of these mega churches are so POPULAR.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I agree that this falls too close to the truth to qualify as satire. My daughters are fed up with the 'fun-focus' of our current youth group and the lack of deep teaching.
We'd all love to have a Jeremy Willis to lead the youth, but don't know how the other parents and kids would feel about that!
btw, love, love, love TTBN!!! Annette

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant TBNN!

Darrin said...

Well said, all of you. But in the OT, wasn't Israel told to "make sure your kids have fun"? (2nd Hesitations 4:17) Also strange how critics in the churches often use the same phrasing as unbelievers (forcing it down our throats, hammering on the Bible, etc.).

Sewing said...

Anonymous: You must be raising your kids right! God bless you.

Andyboy said...

Maybe a church will not fire someone like this, but you can be sure they will never hire anyone like this to begin with. Sadly, I bet even "Bible-believing" churches would fire a pastor for exposing Bible truth.

Qjay said...

You had me right up until you said pie eating and juggling. Even then I thought it was true.

The sad thing is it is so true. Once an Agnostic (older than me) said to me (regarding youth) "You have to go to have fun, play games etc. It's what we did when I was a kid." My response was "And look at what a great Christian you turned out to be." Maybe some day.

Gary G said...

Satire is supposed to be an exagerration of real life injustices, but this one is too close to the truth that it is believable. I was recently fired from a Christian school principal job for voicing my disagreements with the pastor. I felt he was abusing his authority, so he proved it. Sadly our churches today are about control and money, not love and ministering

BLRHODEN said...

This is so close to the truth. My husband (a pastor-teacher) was recently fired from a "Christian" school for teaching the Word of God as TRUTH. It seems that everyone's personal opinions about the Bible are acceptable, but when it comes to teaching what the Bible actually says, no one wants to hear it or believe it.

spunky50 said...

This is one of the reasons that I am going to see if anyone in the Hagerstown/Williamsport MD area is interested in starting a new church that is strong in bible teaching, for first and foremost to glorify God and also equip believer's to know their Bibles and draw them closer to Jesus Christ, which will in turn hopefully give them a desire to go out and share the Gospel message to the unbelieving world. Most of the churches around this area are "seeker-sensative" (give the people what they want mentallity).
If there is enough people interested I would like to get a pastor from "The Master's Seminary." - http://www.tms.edu/
This is the seminary that has been started by Pastor/Teacher/Author "John MacArthur", famous for the national radio broadcast for a number of years, "Grace To You".
He and the Master's Seminary that he founded is "Reformed" in the doctrine of salvation and "Dispensational-like" in the Doctrine of Last Things.
There is nothing that comes close to this type of church in my estimation in this area.
If this sounds like something that anyone would be interested in, or anybody that you would know, pray about it and if so led, you can drop me a note at:
Here is a link to the seminary Statement of Faith: http://www.tms.edu/sof.asp
In Christ, Don R.