Mike Hess and I (Phineas) attended Hyles-Anderson College at the same time during the early 1990's. We did not know each other very well during those years since I was an off campus student and he was living in the dorms. We both worked in the bus ministry--he worked on the Chicago routes and I worked on the local "A" bus routes in East Chicago. We became re-acquainted over the last year through the Sharper Iron website--I am so glad that we have been able to share some wonderful fellowship and look forward to much more of the same for many years to come. Mike used to share blog duties at "The World From Our Window" and now has his very own blog called, "Extreme Fundamental Makeover". I asked him when we first started if he would make a guest post for us here at Bread and Circuses and he graciously accepted our invitation--so without further adieu, enjoy!
"When one does not adhere to the doctrines of grace you are forced to allow your methodology to transform your theology. Hence, we have First Baptist Church of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson College. To this day, they lead the world with their pragmatic "“do anything for numbers" tactics.
It was a summer day in 1996 shortly after I had been married. I was called into Ray Young'’s office (then bus director) and was to be asked to be a division leader. A division leader was the highest position that any student at HAC could hold as a non-staff member. Having been totally enamored with position and loyalty, thanks to a steady dose of that teaching being pumped into me every day of the week for two years now, I would do anything that the "“man of God" told me to do. I accepted the call to duty and became director of nearly ten different bus routes on the south side of Chicago. Ready to take on the world and get Bro. Hyles'’ attention, I was eager to find new and innovative ways to coerce people to ride our buses and win the latest gimmicky contest that displayed the glory of man and his ability to impress God by not being "“mediocre"”. I had already won trips to Gatlinburg TN, the Canadian Boundary Waters, and several other keepsakes that were once owned by Young and Hyles (e.g. suits and ties). This kind of sounds like the methods that were used during the early apostolic church period to encourage Christians who were being tortured and beaten to death for their faith in Christ…..right???
Now began the numbers race. I would do anything that I could to win over the respect and admiration of Young, Hyles, and the rest of my college cohorts. One of the main tactics used by those at HAC is motivation by recognition. Those who "“produce"” numbers are the ones who are elevated to the status of rock star and celebrity. Here are some examples of what Young told me in regards to my new position:
"You are being brought on to produce. You have produced in the past and that is what is expected of you now."” Now I wonder...Produce what??? People who are passionate followers of the Lord Jesus Christ or people who are simply another "notch in my belt"?
"The attendances need to grow in an immediate time frame."” Now I wonder...Why? To produce Christ-like holiness in the lives of those who ride the buses? Which is more important numerical growth or the growth of Christian fruit in the lives of God's people?
"There should be no question as to where your loyalty resides in regards to Bro. Hyles. Your division and your loyalty personally should be public and intentional."” Nothing about uplifting, exalting, and treasuring Christ--that took second place to lord Jack--always has and still does at FBCH.
"Make sure that special attention and rewards are given to those who produce."
Much of this was during our campaign to baptize 10,000 converts (circa 1995-96). I now see that this has been more than doubled by Pastor Schaap. I shudder to think about some of the methods that have been used to coerce this number of unsuspecting souls to enter the baptistery waters without any grasp whatsoever of the Gospel. In order to accomplish these kinds of goals, Hyles and Young would call for "Baptism Saturdays"”. These were Saturdays where we would go into the African-American neighborhoods in Chicago (blacks were not allowed to ride the buses on Sundays--only on secluded bus routes that came in the afternoon when most of the church was gone). Normally, we would rent a black church on the south side of Chicago with a baptistery and use it to baptize scores of black children. This would produce several thousand baptisms a year. These would also be included in the count that went out nationally at Pastor’s' School and would also be added to the 100,000 member church roll. Sounds like a good way to go about doing church, right? Sounds like the pattern laid out in the New Testament, huh?
I wonder how many of those 10,000 people who were baptized that year can tell me the name of one deacon at that church today. I would venture to say less than a dozen of these 10,000 could. What about the 25,000 who were baptized last year? The saddest part about this is the fact that I once fell for this hook, line, and sinker. Why? Was it for the glory of God? Was it for the pursuit of personal holiness to the glory of Christ? Was it for the glory of Christ to be spread to the far reaches of the Chicagoland area? No...simply put (and I take personal responsibility for this) it was all for the praise of man and the recognition of others. This was our motivation and the tactics used by the abusive leadership at HAC to produce their "“numbers"” and to get their recognition for the glory of Jack--nothing more and nothing less."
Extreme Fundamental Makeover