When someone asked Steve Gaines why he doesn't preach on Wednesday nights this was his response. I suppose his reasons fly out the door when he's busy preaching at other churches.
This was the answer the "Communication Committee" gave:
Why doesn't Dr. Gaines preach on Wednesday nights?
"Because our congregation is quite large, Dr. Gaines has chosen Wednesday nights to attend committee meetings, meet various church groups, and attend a variety of church events in order to meet as many people as possible. Dr. Gaines also encourages us to hold all committee meetings on Wednesdays and Sundays to allow members to spend more time during the week with their families. Does Dr. Gaines preach any other time besides Sunday? Yes. Currently, he preaches to men at Morning Manna, Thursdays at 6:30 a.m., and to 18-29-year-olds at i2 Memphis, Thursdays at 7:00 p.m."
Morning Manna meets maybe 4 months out of the year -- one morning a week. I2Memphis is defunct.
I remember the
excuse reason given 2 1/2 years ago was that those speaking engagements were already scheduled before he came to Bellevue. Fair enough. (So I guess it was okay with the people of Gardendale that they were being taken advantage of, too.) Now here we are 2 1/2 years later. Are you telling me all these speaking engagements for 2009 were scheduled that long ago?
Speaking of "meeting as many people as possible," do they even have visitation at Bellevue? It's a serious question. After all the times I visited Bellevue and filled out visitor's cards, not once was I ever contacted by the church in any way. Not before joining and not after, not by a Sunday School teacher or deacon, not by phone call, letter, or e-mail. (Which I'm sure begs the question, "Why did you join?" Let's just say it wasn't because of the friendliness of the people. But this isn't about me.)
Oh, did everyone receive their automated phone message from "Brother Steve" last night reminding everyone to set their clocks forward? I listened to the whole thing and about dropped the phone laughing when Steve said, "Donna and I love you very much." I've spoken with Steve Gaines face to face. As someone else said about his experience, the whole time it's as if he's looking over your head to see if someone more important is waiting. That was certainly the impression I got, too, but I digress.
Now you can add a Wednesday night this month to the list. Steve Gaines will be preaching at Valley View Church in Louisville, KY, a church with the reputation of being one of the most seeker-sensitive PD churches in the area.
He didn't preach at Bellevue this morning. The pulpit was filled by Russell Moore of SBTS, and there's another speaker tonight. So once again, Steve's being paid to be... where? Preaching at another church while your church pays another preacher to preach at yours? Can you say "double dipping"?
On another cruise? This was a recent cruise on which Steve Gaines was a speaker.
On another tour? Here is but one example.
Or is he on another "mission trip"? A few weeks ago the whole Gaines family was touring the Holy Land. Before that the oldest Gaines daughter and husband Ryan Wingo were in Morocco. Are you telling me Bellevue pays a music assistant who's barely out of college enough to afford a trip like that? There was the much-publicized India trip in 2007, the one the Commercial Appeal covered with an 8-page spread complete with photos of the Bellevue women yucking it up in their Indian finery. Someone commented to me recently that if one is not wealthy but desires to travel, one should become a Baptist minister, marry a Baptist minister, be born to a Baptist minister, or be friends with a Baptist minister so they can travel the world.
Recently the Gaines family traveled to Honduras, reportedly just so that Steve could preside at the ordination ceremony of a pastor there. Did the church pay his way for this trip? Did they pay his family's way?
Have you ever noticed how these Baptist men and women are always beautiful, well-groomed, and clean, often dressed in native costumes, in the photos of them on their "mission trips"? Then ask yourself, was Lottie Moon or Mother Teresa clean and pretty in her photos? Was anyone even there to take photos? Or did these women stop long enough to be photographed? Most Baptists don't know what the heck a "mission trip" is. They often stay in 4-star hotels at night or at least "in high style" compared to the people they're "ministering" to. They eat food specially prepared for them. Why should churches foot the bill for preachers and their families and friends to see the world just because they call it a "mission trip"? What is wrong with this picture?
There are plenty of faithful, loving pastors who do not fleece their congregations. They are right there in the trenches, preaching, visiting, caring for their people week in and week out. I salute them. Then there are the others, the ones who seem to view the pastorate as little more than a chance to enrich themselves (speaking at each others' churches and at the seminaries for thousands of $$$, book deals, selling sermons, making thousands in profits from tours, etc.) and to benefit their families and friends. It's not a pretty sight.