Recent Blog Posts

A PSA for Parents at Menlo Church

Based on my last emails from the elders, the Town Halls in March, and Menlo Church’s behavior since then (John Ortberg has preached all services and hosted special guests Condoleezza Rice and Max Lucado), I’m getting the distinct vibe that the church has moved on. I wrote my letter to the editor in the Almanac back when I had hope the church might still bring in a qualified, unbiased third party. (... read more ...)

May 14, 2020 ortberg

Menlo Church Town Hall #2

As promised, the second town hall yesterday was very similar to the first. The content of the elder updates was equivalent. The questions were different, but there was substantial overlap in the answers. John and a few different elders answered questions on this topic. I couldn’t help but notice where the answer either dodged the question or chose not to read what was on the card. For example, in response to the question, “Did John support the volunteer’s work with minors? (... read more ...)

March 9, 2020 ortberg

Two Sides to Every Story

Menlo Church doesn’t seem to realize that by trying to keep the volunteer secret and doing such an incomplete investigation, they’ve hurt both the volunteer in question and every other volunteer. We are in the worst of both worlds. The volunteer’s name is a guessing game that unfairly puts others under suspicion. Some people will guess correctly, and without a real investigation, the person’s name hasn’t been cleared. If this person is not a predator, just someone struggling to manage a mental illness, they have been put in a terrible position by John and Menlo Church. (... read more ...)

March 6, 2020 ortberg

Thoughts on the Menlo Church Town Hall

Sunday’s Q&A was a bit less filtered than previous messages from the church. My overall impressions:

1. Menlo Church really doesn’t want you to know who their investigator was, which is too bad for them, because it’s already on Twitter: Fred Alvarez at Coblentz Law. Boz Tchividjian has a great summary of why a practicing attorney cannot be considered independent:

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March 3, 2020 ortberg

Menlo Church Town Hall #1

This will just be a quick blow-by-blow—cleaned up notes, basically. The meeting was relatively well attended. One speaker joked that they would be doing other town hall meetings, and she hoped to see everyone again in the future. The meeting began by introducing the Session members. Not everyone was present but most were. There were short updates from a few committees. One mentioned that elder nominations would likely be opening up soon for two new elders. (... read more ...)

March 1, 2020 ortberg

A Weighing

Two days ago, Menlo Church sent out an email announcing John Ortberg’s upcoming return to the pulpit. They didn’t respond at all to Danny Lavery’s Feb 2 statement or his Feb 6 blog post. They did say they have full confidence in John as their spiritual leader. They said John has been having great conversations with various folks in the church, so I guess I’m just one of those constituencies whose concerns were weighed and found wanting. (... read more ...)

February 29, 2020 ortberg

Secrecy & The Soul

“I feel really strongly that if your ‘good life’ is based upon keeping information a secret, pretending that you did not do something you did, lying to the people closest to you about a serious breach of trust that you committed, you do not, in fact, have a good life. You might have a comfortable life. You might have a life that looks really good to people from the outside. You might have an easy life. (... read more ...)

February 19, 2020 culture ortberg

Menlo Church & John Ortberg - Child-Attracted Volunteer Allowed In Youth Ministry

My church, Menlo Church, has been in the news, and not in a good way. In brief, the senior pastor, John Ortberg, found out about a person attracted to children and failed to prevent this person from working in the children’s ministry—or worse than that, encouraged the person in working with kids, according to the whistleblower, Danny Lavery.

I have attended Menlo Church for over ten years, which means I have been listening to John Ortberg’s sermons for that long. I don’t know John personally, though I have seen him around, and there was that one time our A/V equipment was on the fritz and John drove down to deliver the sermon in person. I was married at Menlo. I know there are many good people at the church.

But I also know what it looks like when church senior leadership isn’t being forthright.

I understand the desire to avoid pointing to troubling information, but I believe everyone, including the church, is best served by having all the assertions out in the open. This post is a chronological account of what has happened, as best I can piece it together.

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February 13, 2020 ortberg timeline