#62 Post Script The Rebellion of Korah

[Editors in his original blog Tik wrote a story that occurred after he left MCM . This based on interviews and email with Mike and Missy Caulk  completed in 2007. We believe it is valuable because it demonstrates how sub-leaders in authoritarian groups are both victims and victimizers.]

The Rebellion of Korah

Squealer consoled the animals saying, “Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”  From “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Ann Arbor, Late 1983

Clickety Clak Clak Clickety Clak Clak …Clik clik…Ring

Missy pulled the paper out of the IBM selectric. Her brows furrowed as she read it carefully. Perfection was required…and perfect was not easy in the days of IBM selectric type writers.

No word processors, no spell check, no computers, just Missy, the type writer, and a bottle of white out.

Actually there would be no white out used on this letter…they had both agreed on that. It had to be perfect.

In appearance and in wording.

She glanced down at the trash can half full of wadded up papers…representing their previous attempts at getting it right.

Missy had plenty of experience with this kind of stuff. She had actually served as Bob Weiner’s personal assistant in Paducah…typing letters…making travel arrangements…picking his clothes up at the dry cleaners…anything that Bob needed to make his life easier. What she was doing was second nature by now and she also figured if she could handle Bob and his craziness she could now handle anything.

She was one of the core group of people from Bob Weiner’s inner circle. Bob and Rose both trusted and respected Missy.

“How’s it look Miss…?” it was Mike Caulk speaking and he paced up and down in front of the desk at which Missy sat.

He rubbed his hands together and then took the sheet of paper from Missy.

Mike, dark-haired, tall, and athletically built, was a natural leader and someone young guys just wanted to hang out with.

And to be like.

He sat down opposite of Missy and ran his hands through his hair. He slowly re-read the letter for the hundredth time.

“Well…?” Missy asked.

“Okay…it looks good.” Mike said. “But just read it through one more time. It has must be just right.”

For it they went through with their plan this letter would go out to every pastor and co-pastor within MCM.

It was more than a letter…it was a virtual nuclear strike that would shake the foundations of MCM and threaten the autocratic leadership of the group.

************

Mike and Missy Caulk married in an arranged MCM style marriage. It had been tough sledding at first but by the time they got to Auburn in 1978 they had ironed out their problems and had become a great team.

She was, as I have told you, one of the members of the MCM inner circle…she had been converted by Mildred Russell, Rose Weiner’s sister-in-law. Missy was tough, passionate, opinionated, and determined. If she did not like your opinion or actions she would tell you flat-out, there was no guessing about what Missy was thinking.

You could immediately read it in her expression…it is either sunshine or thunderstorms with Missy…and it is never boring around her.

Never.

The fourth day after my MCM blog was up I got a simple and direct e-mail from Missy, “Hey Tikie…I am enjoying your blog you are doing a good job.”

Nothing else- simple and to the point with a very clear opinion on what I was writing.

Oh, and I must also tell you that Missy expected others to have the same passion and willingness to speak up that she did. She preferred that people to tell her to her face what they were thinking, even if they disagreed with her.

Especially if they disagreed with her.

But this strength was also her weakness, especially in the upside down world of MCM.

Missy a pastor’s wife,  was known by all MCM members as one of Bob’s former  hand maidens, and, as his former and trusted administrative assistant. She was an early disciple of Bob’s sister-in-law…. and all of this made her word law, whether she realized it or not… for better or worse.

Mike Caulk, in contrast, was an easy-going guy, in many ways the opposite of Missy. Nothing seemed to rattle him or concern him, at least not on the outside.

He was a true comedian right out of the Jerry Seinfield mode, before there was a Jerry Seinfield.

His almost crazy antics in the pulpit and his humor made him extremely popular with the brothers. He was a sports nut and a witty conversationalist. He was simply put: a natural youth leader, youth pastor, or high school coach.

Of course, like most of us, his gifts were warped and distorted by MCM and he found himself doing things he hated in the name of MCM.

In the name of Jesus and God’s Kingdom.

Mike and Missy, as you have read, led one of the most successful ministries in MCM at Auburn. They nurtured and raised up at least twelve full timers (including yours truly)…and had then gone on to successfully plant the Ann Arbor Ministry, one of the bright stars of the MCM Great Send Out. Additionally least 120 people from Auburn scattered to the winds during the Great Send Out a real tribute to Mike and Missy’s ability to develop young leaders for MCM.

So by this time, two years after the Great Send Out, Mike and Missy seemed to be one of the best ministry teams in MCM. With Missy being the driver and organizer and Mike being the public face of the Ministry.

And MCM, itself, was on a roll, or so it appeared.

It had doubled in size  due the Great Send Out expansion. It then attracted the attention of Christian Right Wing political movement in the US including the endorsement of Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition.

Bob was in demand as speaker because of the US Reagan right wing revolution. MCM seemed on the cutting edge of all the new change in the US. Bob’s speaking engagements outside of MCM rose geometrically. Because of this new publicity Bob appeared in the right hand column of the Wall Street Journal as one of the rising stars in the Reagan Revolution in 1985.

Heady times for Bob Weiner these were and MCM appeared unstoppable.

But the flaws and the evil at the heart of MCM were going to be exposed nationally…and were coming to light even as MCM neared its apogee in late 1984 and early 1985.

Over the last ten years Mike and Missy had seen both the good and the bad in MCM. But like Miltie they thought the good would win out and that they could reform MCM…well they thought this for a long while, at least.

Mike writes, “As we saw it, protecting the young people under our leadership from the whims of MCM was one of our primary missions. With that aim we often shielded our young people from the raw ambition and the more abrasive egos that were at the core of Maranatha. “

Mike and Missy’s protection of their Auburn flock from the destructiveness of top leadership backfired, however, on those of us who went into full-time ministry during the Great Send Out.

As tough as it might have seemed at time, the  Auburn MCM ministry was actually a moderately run flock. In many sites (such as Miss. State or University of Florida) someone like Miltie would have never survived. Although don’t misunderstand me, Miltie had to conform at Auburn, as did everyone.

So we at Auburn  had been somewhat protected  by Mike and Missy…as is shown by my own shock when exposed to MCM corporate (International Offices or IO, as it was known). The exposure to the politics and mafia-like brutal tactics at HQ disheartened people like Matt and me who did not understand  how MCM’s top leadership clique operated.

And it almost destroyed Matt’s and my Christian Faith.

Many others caught up in the Great Send Out actually did have their faith and their lives destroyed beyond repair, or so it seemed.

But Mike and Missy could not completely protect their flock (as they saw their MCM church) from the leadership.

When the brass from Gainesville showed up at Auburn, or Ann Arbor, it disrupted the local ministry and upset Mike and Missy’s work. But because their financial and membership numbers were among the best those visits by the top dogs were few…but harrowing.

Mike wrotes, “Protecting you guys, Tikie, from harassment was not always possible, however as people from Gainesville IO (international offices) came to “minister” or when we had regional or national MLTS conferences contact with the top people from MCM was unavoidable. We always worried about Bob, Joe or the other guys coming into town because of the effect it had on our people.

Mike and Missy were blinded, at least for a while, to this conundrum: that they must shield low level members from the top leadership to prevent the flock from being poisoned and discouraged. This the  anointed MCM leadership that supposedly had a pipeline to  God’s plans.

As I have written previously I noticed from the start the dissonance between Mike and the Gainesville (or IO leadership). Mike always appeared very nervous when he was around the MCM big shots like Bob Weiner and Joe Smith.

The other problem of course focused on finances.

The problem of finances and funding was one of the main reasons I left MCM.

I have friends in Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) [Editor; now CRU] and the amount of monthly support that I raised ($ 1,500/month or the equal in 2006 of $ 3,750) was an amount more than adequate to support a single CCC minister on campus. But of course MCM was NOT CCC; it was a money-making, power-driven, entity and it would suck every nickel it could out of the local MCM sites and out of the pastoral staff- and then some.

CCC takes a 2.5 % administration fee off of all donations. Period. No hidden fees, no special offerings…nothing else. Ninety five precent of CCC staffers are self-supporting raising their own funds.

But MCM imposed several layers of taxes and fees in addition to the ongoing special offerings that  fired out at the local pastors nonstop. But Mike, as a pastor for seven years in MCM, had learned how to handle this issue…with a deft touch that made us “newbies and doobies” in the full-time ministry look silly.

To survive as a Pastor you had to learning to work in the jungle of MCM.  To use a differing analogy I guess you could term it learning how to swim with the sharks and not be eaten .

Mike wrote, “The financial demands were of IO (International offices) were all of insane. They, as you know, would come at us helter skelter with financial requests. The demands for more funds, and more funds…then urging us to get even more funds out of those, “Stupid kids”. At Auburn and later at Ann Arbor we would stash extra funds into “camouflage accounts” whenever we had surpluses over our needs. We never told IO about these ‘camouflage slush fund’ accounts, of course.”

“When the requests for MORE and SPECIAL funds came …if we felt that we had “bled” the flock too often we would draw these “rainy day” accounts down…or on occasion if the cause was just down right flakey we would do the same. Many pastors secretly called Gainesville IOU rather than IO because we were taxed and over taxed to pay for various needs, mission projects and other causes.”

Where all of this money actually ended up was a mystery.

Mike and Missy had learned that if they kept the money flowing to Gainesville they could protect the flock.

But for what reason?

Why should they stay with a system whose leadership would infect and corrupt their people, their flock? This was the same leadership who continued to make outrageous financial demands, and who Mike and Missy had come to realize was corrupt and insidious.

Leadership that was hurting the very people Mike and Missy were protecting.

At Ann Arbor Mike and Missy had managed to avoid the help from Gainesville in planting their ministry, although they had a visit or two from Joe and Bob. They brought all the talent from Auburn they needed to get the ministry started including working lay brothers and sisters to give a sound financial footing to their Great Send Out planting.

Hawker, a young home-grown evangelist from Auburn hit the campus preaching and sharing…while JC was their other ace in the hole…providing a music group that topped the Praise Band.

You may recall that JC was Auburn’s Jack of all trades musician. He was an extremely gifted arranger and composer of music. Once at Ann Arbor he put together a music group and a small orchestra that quickly became well-known around MCM for its professionalism.

JC and his band quickly attracted Bob’s attention, and what normally would have happened is that MCM corporate (IO) would have “stolen” JC AND his band from the Ann Arbor fellowship. Then IO would have then taken them to Gainesville, as crazy as it seemed. But Mike would not allow that to happen, and so the real problems started.

Mike tells us a little about the final MLTS that he and Missy attended:

“When we traveled to what would be our last MLTS  our music team was honored by being asked to lead the music through the 3 day event. (JC had done a magnificent job in attracting training and co-coordinating this group.) This was the first close contact many of our students had with the national leadership team in general and with Bob in particular. It was, how shall I say, a less than spiritual experience. Bob has many strengths but grace under pressure is not one of them and many from the team came away from the event disappointed and disillusioned. But more to the point this meeting proved to be the classic “last straw” for Missy and me.”

It was a disaster for Mike and Missy because their core group of young leaders and on fire followers of Jesus at Ann Arbor (some of the sharpest and most sincere in MCM) were exposed to Bob’s and MCM’s callous and vicious nature up close and upfront.

They also firsthand saw the back biting and maneuvering and pettiness that existed and thrived at the top. About who would sit where, who in leadership were allowed on stage…who would get the glory and the limelight…and who, in upper leadership, during this MLTS, would be relegated to a backseat role; and then “re-elevated to the top-tier once again by Bob and Joe for whatever reason in the next MLTS.

The entire worship and leadership team of Ann Arbor came back from that MLTS disillusioned and disgusted by the contrast between the ideals that MCM preached and the lust for power, money, and prestige that drove  the top leaders in the organization. This was no different from my recoil at brutal tactics of Leo Lawson, Bob Weiner, and Nick Pappis that I saw first hand after I moved into leadership.

But this was not news to Mike and Missy. They lived with this reality of MCM for over ten years.

They write, “The 2 months leading up to the Dallas MLTS in 1983 were some of the more traumatic in our 10 years of  service with Maranatha. The national ministry was under examination from other parts of the [larger and mainstream] church, criticisms from parents, and scrutiny from the national press.”

Since 1976 local and campus papers worked to expose the traumatic reality of MCM. Bob and Joe would simply put this stuff down to persecution for Christ’s sake.

We all did, actually.

I was written about in the Auburn student paper paper as someone who had been hijacked by MCM. Over the years  other very negative articles about MCM plastered the local and campus papers at Auburn. And ny  negative experience as a Pastor with the local campus newspaper at my ministry was also typical.

But MCM had flown under the radar of the national US mainstream press and the national US mainstream religious communities until 1982 or so. This allowed MCM to come into a local community as an unknown and thrive, at least for a while. There was no INTERNET to learn about MCM. No way to Google Bob Weiner and possibly read a blog like this. No real way to warn others about the very insidious and seductive trap that MCM would set for idealistic young people.

But things begin to change though and a national reputation,  mirroring that which MCM garnered on the local level, begin to color the view outsiders had of the ministry. This coverage of the the ministry’s tactics begin to constrain MCM’s  expansion onto new campuses. Earlier the ministry would show up on campus unnoticed, and unchallenged, at least at first.   But now this changed and changed quickly.

For example in 1982 a student member of MCM, at the University of Waterloo, Canada, attempted to castrate himself in order defeat the demons of lust. MCM’s insane emphasis on the taming the sexual desire of young men, and the hours long “hootah” sessions focused on these desires, finally caught with Joe and Bob.

This sensational news picked up by the national press  of this self-mutilation by a young man in MCM exposed the control tactics used by the leadership. This lead to more allegations about cultic behavior and authoritarian by MCM.

At K State, the MCM chapter, led by Marty, my former shepherd, was thrown off of the university because of some of the hard core cultic tactics of that local ministry. The K State Chapter and “Pastor Marty” became the center of a deprogramming controversy, one of the first cases to be written about in the national US media.

But Bob Weiner, convinced of his rightness and the call of God on MCM, asked the Christian Research Institute [CRI] (a respected independent evangelical group) to investigate MCM and give a letter of endorsement to counter the claims of MCM being cultic.

Whether this was arrogance or stupidity on his part I have never figured out. It seemed akin to Jimmy Baker asking Jerry Falwell to investigate and sign off on his Christian Theme-park Financial Scam if you remember this.

Only a lunatic would invite outside scrutiny into the mess of abuse at MCM and its whacky theology.

But there you have it.

Bob, however, told the MCM full time pastoral staff that they had been given, A clean bill of health by CRI,” and in short order, “A very positive report would be coming out.” [Editors: Please internet search CRI Maranatha]. Bob later blamed all of MCM cultic practices on the rapid growth causing the promotion of  inexperienced and young, pastors into full time leadership. This, as you can see, was a lie from the pit of hell as Bob would have put in it one of his sermons. All of the insanity and abuse at MCM flowed directly from Bob’s antics and Joe Smith’s insanity (for Matt convinced me afterward that Joe was literally, and clinically, insane).

But God had to be on their side, perhaps Bob Weiner thought, and God would defeat the enemies of the Green Berets. Reality or outside opinion be damned, or more likely be co-opted.

Now Mike and Missy had been hit hard by all of this and knew that something was seriously wrong with MCM. Things that could not, and would never, be corrected because of the corrupt narcissistic bent of the top leadership.

This unrest came to Ann Arbor where we had a “sharp” kidnapped twice! His father had him seized and “deprogrammed” by supposed professionals. I found many of these deprogrammers were self-anointed vigilantes and nothing more than Christian nerds who had tasted glory but I digress. Our abducted student returned after the first round but on the second they got to him and he left taking along with him several good kids. “

Mike and Missy had to face the fact that they were enabling the abuse that took place through Corporate MCM [IO]. Much as I had enabled and led the abuse of young leaders like “Tikietwo” at my own campus ministry.

And what came the press wrote about MCM nationally, even at Ann Arbor, was true.

And that weighed heavily on Mike and Missy’s conscience.

“The kicker was there was, of course, there was much truth in the criticism being circulated,” Mike writes, “ At this point we purposed to go to the Dallas MLTS to see significant change or resign.”

They begin making phone calls to talk to their friends in leadership around the country…just to take the temperature of MCM at large before the Dallas MLTS.

Then something strange and wonderful happened. We began to hear rumors of upheaval in the system. Whispers had started to filter in that a new day was dawning, that Bob and Joe and the other leaders had taken the criticisms seriously, acknowledged where we had erred and were ready to make amends.”

“We were told major repentance and change were on the horizon… everything was going to change… “No really we mean it this time it really was going to change”. Like starving carp we took the bait and like idiots believed it all over again. So off to Texas with hope springing eternal!

Actually I was growing very skeptical that real change would or could be effected. I had no confidence that Missy and I had it in our power to bring about any real alteration in the status quo. When we finally decided to “secede from the union” and were later accused of fermenting some sort of regional or larger uprising I was taken aback because that was never a part of our thinking. Again we were simply acting to protect our people, and Tikie, as I have written you to protect ourselves.”

Anyway we did travel south with the hope that what we were hearing had some root in reality.”

“ These hopes were dealt a blow prior to MLTS during the staff meeting that often preceded these events. At some point during this meeting Missy and I were “ministered” to by the usual suspects in a “hotaah” session. “

“It was the standard shake-down by Bob, Joe and others listening to your concerns then spending hours convincing you that it was either not true, the result of your obvious dysfunctional upbringing, intricate demonic activity (MCM had one for everything) or some blend of all of them.

There was never a consideration that you a mere “local pastor” had any real insight into why the larger ministry was under such duress. No… just cough-up a few dozen pesky spirits, get some inner-healing, and learn to keep your mouth shut in the future.

**********

Mike and Missy re-read the letter one more time that late winter afternoon in Ann Arbor.

“Okay,” Missy said, “we have talked about it and prayed about…let’s do it.”

Mike took the letter back from her and stepped to the copier and set it for 500 copies…enough for every full timer with MCM and then some.

He turned and grinned at Missy, “Okay Miss…better get those envelopes addressed.”

A new MCM planting at Anne Arbor, with over 150 members (one of the largest plants made during the Great Send Out) was pulling out of MCM . Mike and Missy Caulk, two MCM starsand their entire church were in complete and open rebellion against the leadership of MCM.

Guys like me that left MCM individually, why we were nothing more than road kill on the MCM highway to dominance and glory. No one really cared whether we left or lived or died, as I found out. Big deal, just a casualty of war that happened when you were setting out to build a truly great thing. Case in point I was crying on my parents floor after my brutal encounter with Joe… why Joe was having a nice meal at Lucrenzo’s in Auburn without a care in the world

But what Mike and Missy planned would have a far different affect on MCM.

Their act created havoc for MCM top leadership and the entire ministry. It showed that MCM could suffer major setbacks. That they were NOT always victorious. That there really might be something rotten in Denmark. And that rottenness started at the top!

Mike and Missy’s courageous actions would show other pastors and leaders that they did NOT have to accept the vindictive and controlling and abusive structure created by Bob Weiner, Joe Smith and Bob Nolte.

They were, of course, branded as heretics, thieves, traitors, Judas’s and identified as akin to Korah by MCM’s leadership.

To their everlasting credit.

1 thought on “#62 Post Script The Rebellion of Korah”

  1. But Bob Weiner, convinced of his rightness and the call of God on MCM, asked the Christian Research Institute [CRI] (a respected independent evangelical group) to investigate MCM and give a letter of endorsement to counter the claims of MCM being cultic.

    Whether this was arrogance or stupidity on his part I have never figured out.

    Or a third alternative, Tik.
    Based on my experience on the fringes of two shepherding cults in the Seventies, at the time Christian Cult-Watch groups like CRI defined “Cult” ONLY in terms of aberrant theology, Not repeat NOT in abusive “sociological cult” behavior towards their people. While CRI and the Cult-sniffers were parsing theology letter-by-letter, they would completely ignore the control-freak abuse. (Didn’t hurt that a lot of these groups had the exact same theology — American Evangelical Protestant — as the Cult-sniffers.)

    And a clean bill of health from CRI was worth its weight in platinum for a group like Maranatha. With their Theology PROVEN to be Correct Real True New Testament Christianity and endorsed by theological authority, their Christian Credentials became spotless and the CRI blessing became just another weapon for the beatdown on their Rebellious people.

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