Ed Young, Jr. on “Church Pirates”

Orginally published on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 4:22 AM
by Todd Rhoades

Ed Young, Jr. recently recorded this at a staff meeting at Fellowship Church in Dallas. What is a 'church pirate'? It is a person who serves on a church staff who suddenly decides to leave the church and start a new church 'plant' in the same city. Sounds like Ed may have been burned on this one a time or two. Take a look and let me know what you think.

For your response:  Have you ever had a church pirate on your staff?  Have you ever been a church pirate?  Let me know your thoughts on this subject!

This post has been viewed 5866 times so far.

  There are 147 Comments:

  • Posted by Rick White

    Just curious.  To those that agree with Ed and say that this is “not God’s plan” for starting or planting a church:

    What’s your biblical reason/s?  Ed gave a corporate example...but I’m not sure what biblical reason any of this can be based on outside of someone’s heart being one of envy and strife while planting said-church.  And as a follow-up...how can one assume all guys that go such a route have envy, strife, etc. in their heart?  This just seems random, weird and creepy to me…

    “If you’re that big and bad, go out and do it yourself”.  What kind of statement is that?!?  Is this what he really thinks is at the heart of men that are called to plant churches--that we’re “big and bad”?  My motivation is the Gospel and the God who called me...not my rather insufficient abilities.  Does he really think a called pastor should “do it yourself” to be legit? 

    This is all very troubling if taken at face value.  Perhaps he’ll shed more light on all this by giving some background story to help understand why this is so personally agitating to him right now…

  • Posted by

    Wow, sounds to me like three are alot of church pirates or potentioal church pirates out there who disagreed with Pastor ed young. I don’t think pastor young has a confidence problem or that he is worried about some youg buck moving in on his turf. It is about respect, honor, loyalty and maturity as a leader.  Real pastors don’t just up and go they wait and are sent .

    Someone said pastors have a hard time letting younger leaders reach for their full potential, but maybe the pastor sees areas of weakness that could back fire on the young pastor if he steps out to early. But thats the problem today very few people are willing to submit to their pastor when it’s not what they want to hear.

    Some of you obviously are not pastors and have no understanding of the spiritual attachment a pastor has with the flock God has made him overseer. And while it is true no pastor ownes his sheep. they are his by means of responsability. And for someone to come in and steal that, well i don;t think God’s blessing will be on that new ministry that was not started in a honorable manner. And remember numbers and growth is not always God’s blessings. Even a deadly infection can grow.

    I completely agree with Ed Young. And all of you who have criticized him… you will agree with him too when it happens to you. Thank you and God Bless

  • Posted by adam mclane

    One thing that struck me with this video is the lack of understanding Young has with how business works. He referred to something like “this would never happen in the business world.” Well, that’s correct if that person signed a non-compete prior to being hired. But in 99.9% of jobs in this country that isn’t the case.

    As someone who has working in “corporate America” he is just denying simple fact. There is little any company can do to stop an ex-employee from starting a business in their former employees backyard.

    Without “pirating” this country wouldn’t have some of our best companies, products, and innovations.

    I think Young should change his thinking and think about the Kingdom of God instead of his lil kingdom.

    We all know that each church reaches a certain type of person. He should be happy that a person would take the risk and try to reach people Fellowship missed.

  • Posted by

    While I certainly disagree with Ed Young Jr’s thought process and undue concern for people stealing “his” sheep, there is certainly something very wrong with what he is calling “church piracy.”

    When you train leaders up, you are training them how to lead a ministry and reach people for Christ in whatever way your church feels is the most God-glorifying way.  If this leader who is brought up doesn’t spread out and go somewhere else in the nation or in the world, but instead stays in the community he is ministering to, what does that community get that it didn’t already have?

    Granted it is a totally different thing if you split from your church because of heresy or some other very Biblical reason, but I am assuming that these scenarios aren’t what we are talking about here.

  • Posted by

    This is completely asinine!!

    Another rant and rave by an aging pastor desperately trying to keep a hold on the numbers that define his success. Some of the statements he makes are just ludicrous.

    Nobody ends up in jail for starting a competitor company. They can be sued if they signed a non-compete, but not jail time. And to call someone on a staff for 20 YEARS a disloyal “pirate?”

    Just for the record, I’ve planted within the last year, 2 1/2 miles from the church (of about 200 people) I attended for 3 years, with the pastor’s blessing. That church was planted 5 years ago from a “megachurch” only 3 1/2 miles from there. Also with the pastor’s blessing.

    The goal is to reach the lost. We need to get beyond the idea of building our little kingdoms and realize that God builds His church.

    Anytime people are being discipled into the Christian life, we should rejoice, not grumble about how many people were “stolen” in the process.

  • Posted by


    “Interesting.  Based on the title, I though the article was going to be about churches that “pirate” Christians from other churches.  I guess “church pirates” come in a variety of flavors.”

    I think your post got overlooked, but this is also a great point.  What about the megachurch that gets planted in a town and starts “pirating” people away from the smaller nearby churches?  Shouldn’t there be just as much consternation towards those pastors as to a person who breaks off from another church to start his own?


  • Posted by

    I think some have missed the point.  Ed is not talking about legitimate church planters.  he is talking about church transplanters.  People with wrong motives.

    As to “owning” the sheep, pastors are not owners, but they are shepherds who will give account to the chief shepherd.

    I am amazed at how many have judged Ed’s motives.  As I watched the video, I saw a heart of concern.  I guess it is because I have been there.

  • Posted by

    I guess my idea of church planting is different than Ed’s.  I agree with Ed Stetzer when he said the church planting should be in a church’s DNA.  Training leaders and lay workers and then sending them out in the same part of town or different, to reach the lost.  I’ve seen this model work so many times, and the “sending” church is blessed because of it. 

    In our area of the country, the metro area is growing so rapidly that there are large areas without a church within five miles of people’s homes.  I wish more churches would send out a member or two of it’s staff and some of it’s church members to start a church.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Ray writes [Just for the record, I’ve planted within the last year, 2 1/2 miles from the church (of about 200 people) I attended for 3 years, with the pastor’s blessing.]

    And I hope with his assistance, maybe. And THAT is the difference. Some of you guys haven’t seen what happens when someone joins a staff with the express purpose of splitting the church. It’s horrible. That’s what Ed’s talking about. (Did you all actually hear what he said? Some of you it appears didn’t.)

    [ What about the megachurch that gets planted in a town and starts “pirating” people away from the smaller nearby churches?] Good point. I have a counter. What about the town that is filled with churches who so worship tradition that they are only filled with the silver-haired set. What if no church moves into that town that actually appeals to people who are younger, and they all die in their sin? What if they don’t plant a church because they are afraid of offending the people who can’t seem to change their methods (never the message of course)?

    That would be a tragedy. If there are churches in a community that are making a difference and reaching people who are lost, great, if there aren’t… then we need to plant new young churches to replace the old ones that we are seeing die away.

  • Posted by

    What I found interesting is the comment he makes about church planting in rich suburban areas.  How often do people say that they are called to start a church in the inner city?  How many suburbanites choose to go to a city church bringing in their money to help with that church’s needs.  So often we choose churches that will meet OUR needs instead of seeking a church where we can meet its needs.  I also thought by the title the discussion would be about new churches that come in and pirate away parishoners.  That would be another one for good discussion.

  • Posted by paul merrill

    I visited the Young church - and I must say, it seemed all about Hollywood & Mr. Young. In the store that is part of the church, his photo graced the cover of nearly every end cap. Books by him, for him and about him.

  • Posted by Rick White

    Peter...I’m so sorry that you’ve been involved with church splits and the staff that create them.  That’s terrible and hurtful for the kingdom.  I’m also sorry that you’ve seen far too many churches be ineffective in communities where you’ve lived...thus necessitating new churches that will reach that commuity.  I sympathize with both your points. 

    I would only ask that you re-listen to Ed’s message without those filters being so dominant.  It’s easy to find solidarity with Ed’s entire message with your experiences.  For those of us without those experiences, we might have heard a very different message and picked up on very different language than you.

    All I ask is that you admit that your filters might be affecting your hearing...and I promise to do the same.  I actually think Ed said some good things...but they were overshadowed for me by some snide remarks he inserted along the way.  Just consider it.

  • Posted by

    I have planted 2 churches, one in a low income, inner cite area and another in an urban suburban area.  I am less than 3 minutes from the church that we planted from.  In out first year another church came out of the church that planted us about five minutes from us and we sent almost 50-60 people.  We were less than a year old. 

    I think that the reality is that within 15 minutes of where we are are several hundred thousand people who do not know Christ.  We planted all our churches with these people in mind.  I pay very little attention to the size of other churches since there are so many people who they do not reach. 

    I understand Ed’s comments.  They in some ways seem poorly communicated.  I do know people who have pirated as Ed calls it.  I think it is stuff that probably did not need to be said, he said it to his staff.

  • Posted by

    The senior pastor SHOULD initiate new churches in community centers and homes and start them himself if he does not have leaders that can do it. With the approval of my church of 600 in attendance in Hayward, CA I drove across the San Mateo bridge to Foster City, rented the community Center, and using Rick Warren’s church plant letter with permission ("At last a church for those who have given up on church") I planted a new church where 264 people showed up at the very first meeting. A cop on the beat walked in and asked me, “What is going on here?” It was such a “new” unchurchy crowd that during a “get acquainted sharing time” a man got up and said, “What the hell, I gotta share this, yesterday I got a hole-in-one at the local golf course!” There were only cheers and applause. Can you imagine what would happen in the typical stuff-shirt “normal” church if some guy jumped up and shared that testimony. Well, when the applause calmed down I said, “Sir, how about starting a sharing time in your home?” He did and I led it to get it started the following week. In about 6 weeks he accepted the Lord in his own home! I never pass an offering plate in any of my churches, just a box or two for VOLUNTEER no-pressure-giving in the lobby. Minister friends have difficulty believing it but offerings increase when no pressure-plate is passed under every nose! The Foster City church met at 9 AM Sundays and grew. Each Sunday I drove back to my Hayward church and preached at 11 AM worship. A senior pastor needs to encourage leaders in his church to go out into the neighborhoods and offer help and plant any kind of church fellowship that will draw the unchurched and unbeliever. If a pastor only builds his one ‘“EMPIRE" then competition will inevitably appear.

  • Posted by

    Yup...a group of us founded a church only to have the second pastor we called whoosh in and “steal” our work...changing the constitution to be what he wanted to protect his job forever, making elder rule, changing the location, the chairs, the time of worship, the leadership,and running off anyone who dared challenge his position.  Oh, did I mention he hurt many beautiful Christian people while splitting this church in a small community?

    On top of that, he did another number to assure his position forever in the church.  The only result was to leave a work we had poured our hearts into and leave this person to our Heavenly Father who says, “He will replay.”

  • Posted by Camey

    Leonard: That type of church planting is totally different than what hubby and I were approached about back in 2005/2006. If it had been that type - we probably would have jumped at it honestly.

    I think it is good to point out that we all watch Ed’s video with our own blinders on from past experiences as well as current. Peter is far from being the only guilty one. Just sayin....

  • Posted by

    Yup...a group of us founded a church only to have the second pastor we called whoosh in and “steal” our work...changing the constitution to be what he wanted to protect his job forever, making elder rule, changing the location, the chairs, the time of worship, the leadership,and running off anyone who dared challenge his position.  Oh, did I mention he hurt many beautiful Christian people while splitting this church in a small community?

    On top of that, he did another number to assure his position forever in the church.  The only result was to leave a work we had poured our hearts into and leave this person to our Heavenly Father who says, “He will repay.”

  • Posted by

    I think Ed Young has been around this mountain before, he is a great guy and does a great job for God, but I do think that he needs to look at the reason people leave and start another church, sometimes the head guy is so dictatorial that people become “Pirates” because they are tired of “Captain Bligh” “ and the way he runs the “Bounty” so rather than confront the captain they leave and start on there own.

    We also need to realise that in America most mega churches are mega because they “pirated” people from other churches, he did it in Grapevine, Bishop Jakes did it in Dallas, there are very few new converts in the mega churches, and then you have to put up with the kids of the “Captain” who are now taking over the ship without any qualification except blood.

  • Posted by

    We had to fight for an adult Bible study for two months and for the cross to be where he wanted the big screen.

    And oh, have any of you ever heard the policy that you can’t lead little children to the Lord under 12 unless the parents are present?

  • Posted by Rick White

    Dedicated...do you attend Fellowship?

    Also...would someone like to plainly spell out the background for these comments?

  • Posted by David

    I have never heard Ed Young Jr. speak before.  Since I am a pastor in a much smaller church in rural eastern oregon it is a little hard to relate to his staff meeting with almost as many people as our church has.  It does seem like he is ranting and on his soap box.  Why would he need to communicate this to his staff unless he is attempting to prevent some from bolting to plant another church. 

    Now instead of thinking about staff leaving to start another church as right or wrong what if we thought about this in a different way.  What if Fellowship Church were to regularly “birth” churches in their area.  This is different than staff leaving to start a rival church but rather it is a commitment from the leadership to bless and send out a group with a shepherd to start a new fellowship in another part of the city. 

    This would then eliminate the accusations that leaders such as Ed Young are building churches that are a monument to themselves.  It would also empower many leaders to shepherd God’s people and preach the word.  Leaders would not have to “sneak” away from the flock to pastor but would be trained up and sent out with the blessings of the existing leadership.

    Consider all of the statistics that point towards church plants being far more effective at reaching the lost than established churches.

    Just a thought.

  • Posted by

    Ed Young is so correct in what he is saying.  What I had experienced is the church swept out from underneath you, as a pastor, by a board member or several board members, who within several months placed a family member as the pastor.  It is no wonder many pastors are leaving the ministry in droves.  There will be one day when, I believe, I will pastor again, but right now I am enjoying my family who has suffered greatly because of many untruths cause by rumors of several who where connected with the family, who is now in control of the church.

  • Posted by

    Dedicated does have a point:  the worst church pirates tend to be seizing the whole ship at smaller congregations, and typically join with this in mind.  Sadly, too often the head pastor has some issue and has alienated the people who loved him and the church enough to confront him about it.  Most often, the “pirate” was plotting the takeover from the moment he joined the group, having sensed a weakness in the congregation.

    But churches who are sending out members to start new churches rarely encounter the problem of their members being “stolen” by a former staff member.  Occasionally the new plant will outgrow the parent church, but that’s okay.  As a parent, it thrills me to see my children prosper and I know that as I age, my place in this world and in their lives changes.  It doesn’t mean that I need to redecorate my house and throw out all my old Creedence cd’s in favor of the latest pop phenomenon so that they won’t move out.  If I’ve done a good job raising them, they will move on in their lives, but enjoy a visit “home” and keep good memories of it.

  • Posted by

    I couldnt even read all these comments for posting my own, the majority of you guys are morons. 

    You are jealous of the giftings that God has given Ed Young.
    You are jealous of the blessings that God has given Ed Young.
    You are jealous of the growth there church has been trusted with.

    So you all just sit back in you recliners and throw bombs at him.

    If a person would come near any of your churches and start a church, and take one of your members you would all run to your mentors crying and get ticked off at God.

    You need to learn from Eds experience not use it as a target to shoot at.

    Go pray through and post a comment on eds blog apologizing.

  • Posted by Carole Turner

    Yea, he’s hurt, he’s ticked and he will HOPEFULLY regret this sermon/ video later.

    He’s not being a peace maker he’s being a @#@$ stirrer.

    Grace to him and all that he refers too.

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