A Kentucky pastor who purged the rolls of his church of members who he says have been attending church poorly, is now coming under fire for how the now fuming ex-members say they were delisted.
Cave City Baptist Senior Pastor Ryan Broers told WBKO he was trying to send the delinquent members of his church a "wake-up call" when he sent them delisting letters this week.
"A lot of the people that the letters were sent to are not attending church anywhere, and this was kind of a wake-up call to them 'you've broken fellowship with God, you've broken fellowship with this church, you need to come back and repent and get your relationship with Him.'" Broers said.
Samantha Esters, who had been attending the church since she was a kid, told WBKO however that the only message she got from the way she was delisted is to never return to the church again.
"I don't ever want to go back to that church," said Esters after receiving a letter informing her of her delisting that was sent out on July 16.
A copy of the letter was posted to Facebook by Cave City resident Jason Pedigo.
The letter signed by Broers and Student & Worship Pastor Steven Wilson, point out to the members how much the church cherished their membership but notes that: "Some circumstance has kept you from performing your duties as defined in the by-laws of Cave City Baptist Church."
It then quotes a section of the by-laws outlining the responsibilities of Cave City church members.
"Members are expected, first of all, to be faithful in all the duties essential to the Christian life; and also, to attend habitually the services of His church, to give regularly to its support and its causes, and to share in its organized work," it noted.
After informing the members that they had been removed from the membership roll for failing to carry out their duties at the church, the pastors added: "It is our sincere hope that you are living a life of faith. A life of faith is certainly more important than having your name on a membership list. It is about worshiping, studying God's words, serving the name of Christ, and receiving the nourishment of the Lord's Supper. It is about gathering regularly with other sisters and brothers of the faith. That is what is important!"
They ended the letter by telling the members that: "The doors of Cave City Baptist Church will always be open to you."
Broers says that the letters were only sent to members who had not attended the church in at least the past year.
"These are people that we haven't heard from, they've received multiple letters inquiring about their membership," he said of the delisted members.
Esters said, however, that she attended the church just three weeks prior to receiving the letter.
"That's wrong," she said about the Broer's statement. "I was in shock that they could kick somebody out, especially after I had just been there a couple Sundays ago."
Some critics of the delisting noted online that elderly people who were unable to attend church were also sent letters.
Since the members went public with their grouse over being delisted, the church has suspended its social media accounts and several calls for comment went unanswered.
Broers told WBKO that any delisted member can call and request to keep their membership alive.
"If anyone wants to come back, they're welcome to come back," Broers said. "There's no hard feelings towards anyone that received the letter. I preach the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts and steps on people's toes," he said.
DeWayne Kidd, pastor at Creekside Church of Bonnieville in Kentucky, said Broers' explanation for sending the letters wasn't a wise move.
"Preachers that like to brag about 'stepping on toes' if that's what you are doing then you are failing. How can sheep follow when their feet are always sore - they don't. They sit hungry, thirsty and in pain. Toes are the wrong target, aim for the heart," he wrote in a statement on Facebook late Tuesday.