Ed Young Jr: Church Pirates Beware
There is a difference between church planting and church plundering.

When I posted the "church pirate" video on my blog last month, I knew there would be response. I hoped there would be. And based on the amount of response I've received, this topic is one that reaches deep and cuts close for many, many church leaders.

I didn't shoot this video as a personal vendetta. This wasn't based on some fleeting emotion. It wasn't done out of spite. I did this video because pirating is something that I have seen happen to far too many churches.

Too many people have joined the movement of a certain church only to later siphon resources (staff, money, etc.) from that church and begin their own work just down the street. Rather than partnering, they are pillaging. And it has led to the damage and destruction of many good churches and great church leaders.

My hope is that as light is shed on this controversial and often taboo topic we, as church leaders, can have some healthy discussion about the reality of planting versus pirating. And as the dialogue continues, I pray that we can all join together to support those leaders who are truly starting new churches the right way and finally keep the pirates at bay.

-Ed Young Jr. is the founding and senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas.

June 13, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 134 comments


June 20, 2008  1:02am

There are always people who join a group or organization to learn how to run the same type of a group or organization themselves. Happens in business all the time. Usually it is done with sneakyness, stealing staff, etc. because the intent of the "leader" is to build his own group with people who have expertese. That's business, and accepted in business. But, this is a Church with ethics, a specific belief system, not a business and the antagonist should not do their business in a business way. They should say what they want in the beginning, ask for the backing in a "nice" instead of sneaky way, learn honestly and I'll bet both churches will do fine without bitterness. Isn't that what Jesus taught, not the usual business way, but the God way to do your activity.

Report Abuse

Margie Allen

June 19, 2008  9:28pm

I'm not a pastor. I've become a lot more tolerant of ambiguity by following these postings, and feel that more love, compassion, idea exchange and positivity are being expressed as the comments go on. I was a counselor for a non-profit 12 step drug/alcohol program in the 70's, and the two leaders, with the support of the Board, decided to split the program down the middle because of philosophical differences. I'll never forget the tears/ pain/people yelling and walking out at the staff meeting where this was suddently announced. People had to choose who they would work for - co-workers were torn apart and re-located depending on which leader they were personally closest to, and families and teenagers were negatively impacted. Although different from the issue in question in these postings, I'm sharing it so people know it's not just in churches where this type of thing happens. It's the human condition as many of you have aptly quoted scripture to demonstrate. Perhaps that's obvious to you. I want to share that my perception of Ed Young's blog was that he was not talking about a personal experience at Fellowship Church - just the issue in general. Obviously there's no way I can know that. God Bless all of you servants of God, whether pastors or not, and the sacrifices you and your families make on a daily basis. God is in control. Thank you for your service and your servant's hearts, and for trying to communicate with each other here. Without attending a weekly church luncheon for the business community for 3 years, and wondering why they kept talking about having a relatinship with God through Christ, and going to their Christianity 101 class, I wouldn't be a Christ follower today. You are providing hope for your communities just like they did. Despite the acrimony sometimes perceived in these postings, you men and women are leading the world to Christ. You are improving the world by following God's will. You are to be highly commended. Thank you for your service. Thank you for taking the time to communicate and improve the body of Christ.

Report Abuse


June 19, 2008  6:35pm

Keep sharing your experiences. It just so happens that our church went through a simialr experience. It's not good for the body of Christ. Ed is right on target. Be encouraged.

Report Abuse


June 19, 2008  2:36pm

Thank you for your comment H. And though I am not a "full time Pastor" I am in full-time ministry. I would submit to you that to feel the sting of betrayal in a church, or to watch brothers and sisters fall into deception one does not have to be in full time ministry, or a paid professional holy man. One could be a simple servant of Christ, serving in the church. The care and responsibility for those in the body is not solely on the shoulders of the Pastor anyways (James 5:20) But I digress... I think what you wrote was passionate and beautiful and a great depiction of what church leadership should be. I am sure that those in your congregation are blessed to have someone like yourself caring for them. I mean that with all due respect. But I would also submit to you, that if Ed had of posted what you just wrote on his blog, this conversation would have never happened. He didn't speak about his care and concern, he spoke about corporations and unethical business practices. He sounded more upset at the "Pirates" and the betrayal than the aspect of the lay people getting deceived and his heart of love for them. We cannot judge a man's heart, but out of the heart the mouth speaks. And unfortunately what you posted in text and what he posted on his blog were too very different things.

Report Abuse


June 19, 2008  11:20am

To Elle, I want to ask: Are you in full time ministry? If not, you really don't realize that the reason pastors are concerned about this is because they are "shepherds" over the sheep intrusted to them. We love the sheep. When wolves in sheeps clothing come in and destroy them, or the very wolves themselves are destroyed because they think what they are doing IS right, we are concerned because WE LOVE THEM. I know, in the church where I serve, we have moved on from this happening in our Body, however, I still love and have concern for those that I feel are truly hurting themselves and others by falling into this trap and thinking that they are doing the right thing. I don't want to see them hurt, but I see them going down a hard path. Yes, God will take care of us, regardless, but I still care about them. This is where you are misunderstanding the heart of Pastor Ed and others who want to address this issue and get right answers. We, as ministers, love the people in our churches and we have devoted our lives to serving Jesus by serving them. Our enemy, Satan, wants nothing more than to cause division. As ministers, it is part of our calling to allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern the enemies devices. If someone broke into one of our church members homes to steal from and destroy them and I could do something to save them from the intruder, I would risk my life to do so. I don't see much difference when the intruder is Satan, who the Bible tells us comes to "steal, kill and destroy." I know Pastor Ed (nor myself) are concerned about finances leaving the church or number loss. Jehovah Jireh is our provider, not the lay people. We care about Christian brothers and sisters who are being deceived, and in turn, deceiving others. I don't want them to be destroyed and that is why this is a discussion that should be handled properly among church leadership. This should not be an argument over right and wrong. This was put out there because it is a problem that ministers deal with in church ministry and we need to lean on one another for answers.

Report Abuse

Chris Hewko

June 19, 2008  10:58am

Apparently this one has tapped a nerve - wouldn't you say? My take on the issue, after reading about a zillion blog notes (and adding one more to the list) is that the issue seems to be more personal than it is theological. As an associate pastor in a small Church that has struggled since day one, i have become accustomed to betrayal - from the congregation, from board members, from another staff member, and from other Churches in our community. Apparently Jesus knew something about this too. So what really is the issue here guys and gals? Some of you ought to be ashamed of the ways you have criticized and slandered one another. I hope that the unsaved world doesn't read our "Christian blog sites". The contempt we have for one another in complicated issues will ensure that they don't come through any of our doors. Pastor Ed: my heart breaks with you at having someone you trusted mistreat you. Reminds of of 2 Timothy 4.14. I would suggest as others have that our models of doing Church have turned us all into monsters. Mix that with a bit of sin (i think i still have some if anybody else needs some), place in crisis situation and boil for a few years, and voila - the reason the been-there-done-that generation hates the Church. Why do they like Jesus, and hate us? Maybe we should all go back to the drawing board.

Report Abuse


June 19, 2008  6:35am

Well I have to admit - I went to the Bible to look and see what it had to say about this subject. I couldn't find the word "pirate" anywhere - closest I could find was "Pilate". Tons of church women doing exercise programs these days. I guess that's ok. Paul planted a number of churches - but he never stayed at any of them. In fact, some of them - he seemingly only stayed there a few days before someone beat him up or run him out of town. Longest duration of his stay - 3.5 years at Ephesus. He never once mentioned leaving a pastor in charge of anything. He sure never wrote one letter to the one in charge - all his letters are to "the church at".... The Jerusalem church seemed to be a great place to hang out - until they all got run out of town. Couldn't really tell who was in charge there - Peter, James, or John. I guess no one is making the case for John - Catholics say Peter - Protestants say James. They call James a "pastor" - I never found that in scripture anywhere - guess you have to read between the lines. In fact I couldn't find a single "pastor" in scripture anywhere. I found that pastors actually exist in Ephesians 4:11 - but there was no real explantation. So after all this searching - I'm really kind of confused - what we are doing doesn't even remotely resemble the Bible. No wonder the thing ain't working out too well - and there are so many problems and arguments. I found a good verse about that too: James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Sad to say - I found more substantiation in scripture for Pilates than our current methods of church planting and leadership.

Report Abuse

Rev. Jan Smit

June 19, 2008  3:29am

What is new. It is something that is not only occuring in the Church but also in Ministries. We are a Dutch Ministry working in Thailand and for years were supported by a church in the US. They suddenly stopped supporting us using all sorts of unclear motivations and meantime behind our backs made the move in starting up the same sort of work, took out senior staff (which they used for months in the set up of this work while this staff was stiil on our Foundations payrol) and are using our for five hard working years built up contacts and resources. These are people that are attacking the very root of Gods work planted here and do lots of damage. Are we disappointed by this wordly hunger for power and prestige, yes. But Exodus 20:15 says Thou shall not steel and verse 17 indicates Gods warning in not to covet your neighbours house,......, or anything that is your neighbor's. In the end my dear brothers, these people one day have to confront Jesus when He opens His book at their page. I rest my case. God bless you and feel free to react to my e-mail jan@zcct.com

Report Abuse


June 18, 2008  10:06pm

"God can hit straight licks with a crooked stick!" Author Unknown

Report Abuse

Anthony Fleming

June 18, 2008  9:29pm

Man where do you start with this one! I'm not so much blogging about Ed's comments as a lot of the critics that seem to be drilling him! I believe Ed and Fellowship church are a blessing to the body of Christ. As a fellow Christian I have been concerned about this for a long time. 1. Any time we don't agree with a leader there are these supposed "spiritual" people out there that blast the man's ministry, and basically call the guy a fake. I'm a pastor myself, and I know that other Pastor's are just like me, going out and giving it their best shot, and asking God to bless. We do what we know to do. The Apostle Paul said wether in pretense or in truth I thank God that Christ is preached. That is completely not the spirit of many people out there that love to hammer any leader in the limelight. 2. If your concerned for them pray for them. 3. There are a lot of people out there that are simply discouraging a whole lot of leaders from doing what they believe God has called them to do. If we are so concerned for them, write to them, or talk to them. Most of these people are out there doing ministry.... I don't know where these internet critics think their ministry is... it's not to run around and correct everyone's theology. 4. Church planting: My wife's father is a pastor of a church, and the associate pastor ran off with over 70 members, and spread rumors about the church home. It took them 2 years to get over it. It's one thing to take a "team" of people from a church with the blessing of the senior pastor and start a church at a separate location. But it is another thing altogether, to go and take members from one church, and compel them to come to yours without their blessing. I believe it dishonors the Lord, and stunts the other people's growth.... and it definitely discourages the people left at the church. God Bless Ed Young, And anyone else out there who is actively doing ministry... not just critiquing other people's ministry! Anthony Fleming

Report Abuse
  • Seeing God on the Silver Screen
    An interview with Kevin Harvey on how engaging pop culture might be the best way to share the gospel.
  • Have Stethoscope, Will Travel
    Nurse Kelly Sites talks about her experience battling Ebola overseas
  • Actively Seeking Change
    Daniel Ryan Day talks to us about his attempt to live intentionally different
  • Digging For Truth
    Josh McDowell on the Bible's truthworthiness, the internet, and the future of the church