106: Scot McKnight & Laura Barringer | Church Culture: Goodness vs. Abuse of Power

106: Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer | Church Culture: Goodness vs. Abuse of Power

Scot McKnight & Laura Barringer

Scot McKnight blogs at Jesus Creed, which explores the significance of Jesus and the orthodox faith for the 21st century.

Scot is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of some seventy-five books, is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, IL.

Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the USA and abroad.

Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham (1986) and has been a professor for more than three decades.

Scot McKnight was also ordained by Bishop Todd Hunter to the Diaconate in Churches for the Sake of Others, a segment of Anglican Churches of North America.

He and his wife, Kristen, live in Libertyville, Illinois. They enjoy traveling, long walks, gardening, and cooking. They are active in their church, Church of the Redeemer.

They have two adult children, Laura (married to Mark Barringer) and Lukas (married to Annika Nelson), and two grandchildren: Aksel and Finley.

Laura Barringer is a teacher of kindergarten students.

She is the co-author of Sharing God’s Love: The Jesus Creed for Children and wrote a teacher lesson and activity guide to accompany the book. She is also co-author of A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing (October 2020).

Laura is a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and currently resides in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mark, and three beagles.

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Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer join me to discuss the abuse of power in the church, creating a goodness culture, and how the western business model has negatively impacted the church. Topics they wrote about in their book A Church Called Tov.

Questions Scot, Laura and I Discussed:

  1. (3:39) Your family attended and served at Willow Creek Church for a number of years.  What were some strengths and weaknesses you observed while attending?
  2. (7:33) The two of you have written A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing. Laura, will you share a bit of the back story that led you to write this book?
  3. (15:47) “We form church cultures, but we are simultaneously formed by the cultures we’ve helped form.” In relation to the church, Scot unpack that a bit for us.
  4. (18:56) What are a few early warning signs of a toxic church culture?
  5. (22:57) Something I have witnessed personally is the mis-application of Matthew 18, which you write about in Chapter 3 of the book.  How is Matt. 18 mis-applied in abuse culture and how is it to be appropriately applied?
  6. (30:17) What is Tov? And how is it more than a works based goodness?
  7. (34:28)  The portion that particularly struck me was how the western business model has taken root in churches. The focus has become achievement and accomplishment rather than holiness and Christlikeness. Unpack that a bit for our listeners.
  8. (42:13) As we close, what would you say is a good first step to take if you are a member of a church and are experiencing that feeling of “ugh…I think this may be happening in my church”?

Quotes to Remember:

“When people are confronted with their sins that are shocking, and will destroy their ministry they do certain patterns.”

“Never underestimate the power of the environment you work in, to gradually transform who you are.”

“Good characters produce good cultures, and bad toxic characters produce toxic cultures.”

“If the pastor is a celebrity, and if there is constant talk about loyalty, and that we’re the best church in the world….I am going to be very, very suspicious.”

“If I see loyalty, constant building up, bragging about the church, and the pastor, and the musicians, I’m going to be suspicious, because they’re holding people up at a level that is going to detract from Christ.”

“Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. It is also a term used a lot in Judaism. But it is a term that makes Christians scared.”

“We are called to be good (tov). Now, the key thing in the New Testament is that we are not tov on the basis of effort. It is not something that we create ourselves. The Holy Spirit is at work in us through God’s grace, and the transforming power of God’s grace and the spirit, so that over time, someone who follows Jesus and spends time in the presence of God, the Spirit, and the Son will become tov-er than they were before.”

“If you are connected to Jesus, you are connected to someone who is all together tov (good), and if you spend time in the presence of someone who’s all together tov, you’ll be tov-er.”

“We would go to these training sessions led by Bill Hybels, and he called it Fill. He wanted your section to fill. It was all about inviting people in and making sure that the seats had bodies in them.”

“When the pastor becomes a leader, the leader is not a pastor.”

“Churches are no longer hospitals for sinners that nurture people into Christlikeness. They are entertainment centers that attract people and build numbers.”

Scripture References:

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:

Scot McKnight quote on Christians being scared of the word goodness
Scot McKnight quote on be suspicious of mega church pastors who are celebrities
Scot McKnight quote on becoming good (tov) as you are connected to Jesus
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