Is this spiritual abuse?

A video excerpt of a sermon by Jim Standridge, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Skiatook, Okla., has gone viral on the Internet, inspiring hundreds of comments about the Christian minister storming from the pulpit during his message to admonish a congregant for falling asleep and then calling out other worshippers, one of whom he decries as “the sorriest church member I have.” 

The video has about 83,000 views and well over 500 comments from offended, outraged and concerned viewers, some of whom have suggested that Standridge’s words to congregants lacked love, failed to represent God’s grace, and reflected arrogance.

While the hour-long sermon, made available on Immanuel Baptist Church’s website and shown below, reveals Pastor Standridge sternly speaking out several times against congregants, the matter-of-fact minister said he was only doing what he has been given the authority by the church to do — help keep the house in order by holding parishioners accountable.

“I would like you to think about the reality of your life and who you are, and how important that is. For who you are, the gift that God has given you is very important,” Standridge begins his May 19 morning message.

However, about one minute and 10 seconds into the sermon, upon noticing that the did not have the full attention of one particular congregant, the preacher changes gears. “Son, look at me,” Standridge begins, smiling at the youth. “I’m the man, baby. I didn’t come here on no skateboard. There’s churches that will teach you and set up a skateboard for you, but I’m trying to set up eternity for you. I love you.”

Standridge eventually goes on with his sermon about the importance of every individual’s life, using a worshipper by the name of Joe to illustrate how a relationship with Jesus can make a difference in a person’s life. Citing Joe’s divorce and “first family” he lost to “the courts,” the minister then applauds the man for being simple in his approach to Christ. However, he then calls out Joe’s current wife from the pulpit and demands that she stop questioning her husband’s “dignity” and “insight” and instead submit to him. “While he may not be as smart as you think he might be, I say to you, he’s smarter than you ever thought about being,” Standridge says, intermittently pointing at the woman, identified as Angela.

The preacher, who had declared that he was there “representing the king of kings and lord of lords,” again picks up his message to the general congregation, but at 40 minutes into his remarks, Standridge appears to lose all patience with the young man who again had nodded off. Storming from the pulpit, Standridge says, “Don’t you lay your head. I’m important, I’m somebody.”

“You say, ‘Well, he may never come back.’ Well he aint’ here now,” Standridge says afterward as he walks between the main aisle separating the pews. The minister then calls out a man whose wedding he was to officiate and declares him “the sorriest church member” who is “not worth 15 cents,” presumably because he has been absent from church. Standridge follows up the open rebuke with a bear hug and tells the man he loves him.

Conscious that he was being recorded as at other times of preaching, Standridge asks, “Are y’all keeping the camera back there on me, in the little video room? Good.” He then admonishes the cameraman for “having a little attitude adjustment that we’re gonna fix.” After soon declaring that he “really feels good now,” Standridge, now back at the rostrum, returns to his sermon, intermittently continuing to call out congregants.

Complete article and videos here

By only having this story and video to judge by I’d have to say even if he hasn’t been (abusive) in the past, he’s on the road to becoming an abusive Shepherd simply because his actions could result in scattering the sheep. 

Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?  You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. (Ezekiel 34)

Reading how this pastor came off the platform in order to publicly call out the young man who dozed off reminded me of another preacher and incident of an attendee falling asleep;

Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20)


8 comments on “Is this spiritual abuse?

  1. I am appalled at Jim Standridge’s behaviour. Did this pastor forget the verse from the Book of Matthew “Judge not lest ye be judged”? I just cannot imagine a pastor telling a member of his congregation “You’re not worth 15 cents.”

    • Yes it is appalling Felix, but sad to say i’ve heard similar things said from behind a pulpit. One church i attended was ripped apart by the pastor going off the deep end like this guy did…and i mean that literally, for many long-time members walked out and never returned. But like in the instance of the church im referring to, many of us saw it coming so were not that surprised, so its hard to believe this congregation didn’t see something going on with this pastor prior to this incident.

  2. “I’m important, I’m somebody”

    A sad little king on his sad little throne. Jesus is just wall-paper for him.

  3. There are a WHOLE lot of CULTIC behaviors going on in non-cult churches these days. It is often intended to be a more “spiritual” way of doing things, but it ends up being just another exercise in manipulation and carnality. Of course we have seen this sort of thing in the church since the very days of the apostles. Nothing is ever really “new”. When people get bored with the Gospel of Truth, they pursue strange ways of finding entertainment for their souls. In the past I have been involved in large and thriving churches that have collectively gone off this “deep end” in pursuit of “just a little more of God” and have seen those churches collapse in a pile of ashes. Sadly, they rarely own up to their own foolishness, which means they end up wallowing in darkness for a long time. It is very sad, but in the past, when our children were young, their was really no choice for us but to move out quickly when we saw these sorts of things coming since we did not want our children to suffer spiritual consequences from these aberrations. Now that our children are grown, we are not so sensitive in that regard, but fortunately, we are now in a church that has in many ways “been there”, “done that”, and has come to a point where they have owned up to their past foolishness and they are now more than satisfied with the simplicity of the Gospel. That has been a refreshing experience. Genuine “revival” is a sweet thing and a blessing from God, but their is a carnal and fake form of “revival” that leaves only a pile of spiritual “carcasses” in its wake and that is a curse on the church and on our nation. And there is all too much of it around.

  4. apologies friends but I watched the whole of the sermon and I discerned a man who loves his scripture and preaches it and who loves and knows his congregation intimately not only their day to day lives but their spiritual lives aswell. Did those who criticised prayerfully watch the whole video. His mistake was in calling out people personally in a public setting. Not so public if its just between congregation and pastor in the context of family but we live in an age where anything that is videoed is open to public scrutiny and distortion according to what is shown. That’s not the pastor’s fault but ours.

    • Hi Jan…

      Sorry its taken a couple days to release your (and other) comments. We’ve been bombarded with daily thunderstorms here. 🙂

      As far as this pastor, i can believe he loves his congregation and may be a faithful follower of Christ. If you’ve ever been a member of a church where the pastor begins to become abusive (which i pray you haven’t!) then you’ll know it doesn’t happen overnight, nor does the pastor start out as abusive. This is what makes it so hard and terribly sad on a congregation.

      Personally i’ve seen pastors (2 actually, in 33 years) go from being wonderful, loving, caring, men of God for many years, to being abusive control “freaks” who would publicly attack members of their congregations, just like this pastor in the article did…and over time their behaviour only grew worse.

      What i saw in this article was a man of God in spiritual trouble and heading down a dangerous path: one who needs to recognize his behaviour was wrong and quickly repent….and then ask for forgiveness from his congregation.

      His mistake was in calling out people personally in a public setting. Not so public if its just between congregation and pastor in the context of family but we live in an age where anything that is videoed is open to public scrutiny and distortion according to what is shown. That’s not the pastor’s fault but ours.

      I think it was a little more then just doing it publicly. It was “what” he said also.

      This church, like many churches today, apparently videotapes the pastor’s sermons, so he knew what he was saying was being recorded. Also, i wondered how it got on youtube??? I didn’t check to see if all this pastor’s sermons are uploaded to youtube…i know some churches do that by having an account just for that purpose. But however this particular clip did get into the hands of someone, it had to come originally from a member of this church. Someone from this church wanted it out there for the world to see. A cry for help? Could be.

      This congregation needs prayer…even more so then the pastor.

  5. Hi pj
    sorry to hear about your thunderstorms – it’s a lovely sunny day here! I am going to give this pastor the benefit of the doubt – I’ve looked briefly at a few of his sermons at his church web site and he’s sound. I know that what he said appeared to be wrong but I think he was misunderstood. Anyway that’s it from me on this – I hope I’m right and he and his church go from strength to strength – who knows God’s purposes – maybe one person watched the whole video or some other video of his as a result and became convicted as a result!

    • Well we still have rain and flooding here Jan…and the latest forecast is saying it’s going to be sticking around. On our local news today they showed photo’s of people’s basements flooded…one house had 4 feet of water in it’s basement, caused from runoffs! Glad to read the sun is shinning somewhere, ahaha!!

      Concerning this pastor and church, i pray you are right too Jan.

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