by Bart Breen
Over the past several weeks I’ve spent time researching Nathan’s Voice, an organization local to where I live in Northern Virginia. I wanted to understand the source of some accusations that were being made against a friend of mine. As I did, I realized that there were other things at work that merited attention. I looked beyond the immediate accusations and saw some clear patterns emerge that I think people who interact with it either locally or online need to be aware of aware of in evaluating the credibility of the organization and the accusations it makes.
Jim Wright uses blogs as and identifies himself as Nathan’s Voice, Fulcrum Ministries and Crossroad Junction on social media. There are others he uses as well but these are the main ones.
So, the time has come to have a little chat and get some questions answered. Unless I state otherwise all of the information I am providing is accessible publicly online, is the result of interviews I’ve had with representatives of local churches, members of the local churches involved or those who have interacted online with Jim Wright. The opinions expressed are my own. I am doing this independently and on behalf of nobody but myself as a community service and to provide information that may be helpful for those who find themselves interacting with Jim Wright, Nathan’s Voice, Fulcrum Ministries, or Crossroad Junction.
Wait a minute! Are you trying to smear Jim Wright?
No. I am not trying to smear anyone. Jim Wright is an active and public person on the internet. His websites and his activity are in the public eye and seek to sway public opinion. They are as open to scrutiny as any other organization or person that they choose to address. Jim Wright and his organizations make charges publicly on the internet about people and ministries. When someone chooses to do that, then it is entirely appropriate to ask who they are and if they are credible.
Have you tried to talk with him about your concerns and to solve things that way?
Yes. I have contacted Jim Wright several times. I’ve asked to visit his home church and been informed that he considers me hostile and doesn’t want me present. That’s an odd approach I think because Wright has visited at least one other organic fellowship in the Northern Virginia area and used his blog to judge and summarily dismiss them. Apparently he assumes others will be like him.
I’ve asked to meet with him one-on-one and he hasn’t responded. I’ve sent him questions through Facebook, email, and contact forms on his websites and all but one (which I will share below) has gone unanswered. He blocked me on Facebook after I asked many of these questions several times in public forums and it’s clear that he doesn’t want to answer them. That’s his choice of course, but yes, I have tried to communicate with him. If there are clarifications that can be made to this information, Jim Wright had the opportunity to make them by answering my questions and he chose not to. So, I’ve attempted to find the answers elsewhere. If he wants to let me know any reasonable correction (emphasis on the word “reasonable”), I’m happy to make it. If he claims, as he has before in other contexts, that I have no business putting up information and concerns without asking him first, he’s made it clear he has no intent to answer.
So, you must think Jim Wright is a pretty bad guy in order for you to do something like this then?
I don’t know Jim Wright. I only know what I see him do and say online. Now I know some of his history as well that preceded his internet presence and the persona he tries to create and promote. I’ve heard some good things about Jim Wright as I’ve done this work. He seems to have a very strong heart for Prison Ministries in the area and there’s evidence that he personally involves himself in the lives of people in the local jails and provides different forms of assistance to them. So, no, I don’t think Jim Wright is a bad guy in every regard. I certainly have some strong concerns about some of his behaviors online. He’s well trained and articulate which isn’t surprising given that he’s a retired attorney. He uses that ability persuasively at times. Being articulate and well written however, doesn’t particularly impress me when he doesn’t use that ability constructively Many articulate, intelligent people have strong egos and use their abilities to damage other people and promote themselves. In my opinion, Jim Wright is such a person. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I like about him. As it stands, all I can respond to is what I see online and what I’ve learned from others.
You mentioned that you started looking at things because of something that took place with one of your friends? What is that all about?
Yes. That is what motivated me to search and figure out what was going on with Jim Wright. The situation with my friend is a separate issue from what I am doing here. I am part of a group that is putting together a statement regarding that and Jim Wright’s, other online activities. That stands on its own, as far as I’m concerned. I certainly have a strong opinion there and I will express it. Beyond that however, I live in the Northern Virginia area and am a part of the christian community as well as having connections with local organic fellowships. Jim Wright claims to represent some organic networked churches and uses that claimed relationship to justify his actions in getting out information about other people and organizations. I feel it’s important for people to have the benefit of knowing what the background and patterns of behavior are with Jim Wright, so that they can balance that against his own carefully created and presented online persona. If you want to believe Jim Wright and what he has to say in some areas, that is up to you. I’m not going to refer to other people by name in this article, because this is about Mr. Wright and the big picture of who he is and his repeated patterns. My concerns here go beyond the immediate situation with my friend. My concerns here are to look at Jim Wright and his organizations and see if what he claims adds up and if others should consider him credible.
Did you have any interaction or dealings with Jim Wright before this incident?
Yes. I “met” Jim Wright online around October of 2011. In fact, he posted this message to me here on this very blog.
I say (sic) a comment you left on the Organic Church group on FB, and you said you were in the northern Virginia area. Same here. Would love to find out what’s going on regarding other organic church fellowships in the area. We have several in the Prince William County area. You can contact me through my blog.
We initially friended on Facebook and interacted a few times in different capacities. As I saw some of the things Jim Wright had to say about other people and the way he treated them, it became clear to me that he had a very narrow theological view that wasn’t particularly kind or tolerant toward mine or others. That’s all fine by the way. People have the right to express their opinions and associate with whom they want. After Mr. Wright shared a post I had made and used it to attack me and my beliefs, I chose to block him, which means I no longer saw him or his activity which suited me fine. It wasn’t until I learned about his use of his blogs and social media to attack my friend that I unblocked him and went to see what he was doing. It was at that time that the scope of what he was doing in general and how he was doing it struck me. I started to ask him questions (many of which we’ll address below) about him and his organizations, and he quickly blocked me which again is fine and his choice. As he doesn’t want to answer many of these questions, I’ve taken the liberty to get answers as best I can. If they are not complete, then Jim Wright had opportunities to answer them for me, and has chosen not to.
OK. So what are the questions you have?
I’m glad you asked! (Gotta have some sense of humor in the midst of all of this, don’t we?)
Primarily my questions are what the title says. Who is Jim Wright, Nathan’s Voice, Fulcrum Ministries and Crossroad Junction? Beyond that my questions are, what has he done in the past that might help to understand what he’s doing in the present?
I’ll answer that, but first I want to say something that is very important. Jim Wright is in one sense a public person. He is active on the internet and holds himself out as a public figure. He also too is a private person, and although I don’t think that Jim holds entirely to this standard himself, I still want to make very clear that I am not doing this to encourage anyone to inappropriately or illegally harass him. I am not going to give personal information outside of what is appropriate for what I am addressing here. It’s not hard to find more personal information about Jim by searching on the internet. That is true of anyone (including me.) You will no doubt be able to search and find out more based on what I talk about here. I am in no way suggesting or condoning that you do anything other than take this information into consideration when you are dealing with Jim Wright online. When you do interact with him, you may want to ask some of these same questions of him and note if he ignores them or tries to avoid them. I think you shouldn’t really give what he has to say much consideration unless he’s willing to answer these questions.
So I am clear, DO NOT HARASS JIM WRIGHT. I have no desire to harm him personally nor should anyone else seek to engage him outside of asking hard questions in the public forums in which he holds himself out as an expert/leader. If you believe Jim Wright is harassing you online, then use care in engaging him, as he does have a history of escalating disputes and making very strong and very unpleasant charges.
That sounds like a basic way to cover your butt, but OK, so who is Jim Wright?
I’m sincere. I’m not a lawyer nor am I trying to be one. Jim Wright is an attorney, a retired one at least and he often assumes that role and tone as if he’s addressing a court. The internet isn’t a courthouse. It’s a public forum, and if Jim Wright wants to play “lawyer” there that’s his option. I choose not to play that game. I’m just going to speak plainly and simply.
But to the point. Jim Wright reveals a lot of information about himself, so I’ve pretty much stuck with that. I’m providing a capture here rather than linking to his sites, because people can change what they have up. There’s not much here that Jim Wright doesn’t reveal about himself, but of course, he tries to spin things as best he can to make himself look as good as possible.
Enough already! Who is Jim Wright?!?
OK! OK! Here’s what Jim Wright has to say about himself!
This is his “blurb” on his primary blog, Crossroad Junction as copied directly on May 19, 2013.
Jim is a church sower, public but unassuming, thinker, mentor, teacher, older brother in the faith, motivated by redemption, foe of tyrants, friend of the dispossessed, retired attorney, entrepreneur, private pilot, and so-so bass fisherman.
Well, before you start polishing his halo, spend some time looking around his postings on his blogs and in the social media. You’ll quickly find that these terms are all pretty relative and self-aggrandizing.
OK. Let’s take a look at the claims. Would that be OK?
Good idea! Let’s do that!
Is Jim Wright a Church Sower?
Well … Jim Wright says he’s a church sower and I’d have to agree that Jim does have a history of much sowing. Apparently Jim’s definition of a church, (and actually I don’t have a huge problem with this, but it does play on the ambiguity of the term) can include people having coffee together. I’ve asked Jim Wright to visit his home fellowship, which I believe exists, and he said no. So all I can go on is what he says publicly and looking at what evidence I’ve gathered in talking with others. It appears to me that Jim’s home church is comprised of himself, his wife, his parents, and maybe 6 -8 other people. I don’t know if these people are “regulars”. They may well be a succession of people whom Jim has made contact with through his prison ministry. Aside from what Jim self-reports, speaking with others the impression I’ve gotten is that people who meet Jim as he visits with them in prison (or their families) see him as compassionate and friendly. He claims to open his house and he may well do that in other capacities. Some of those who visit his “home church” however have reported to others whom I’ve interviewed that they find a stark contrast when they visit the “church” setting. They find the teaching harsh and in many cases aimed at other people and movements that are painted as “post-modern” and out of line with Jim’s beliefs. The impression I get is that the tenure of most people in this “church,” is relatively short. All comments point to the conclusion that Jim is the central figure and the model he engages in is more like the shepherding movement of the 80s and 90s which focus on spiritual covering and chains of command rather than organic church which is by definition non-hierarchical. It begs the question as to why Jim Wright even tries to identify himself and his home church as organic at all.
Outside of that, Jim claims to be a part of a network of churches in the local community, many of which he claims he’s had a part in starting. Again, I asked him for contacts and his response to me was in an email:
The fellowships that related (sic) to each other here, as best I understand, are open to all who actually seek fellowship. That, unfortunately, does not describe you based on your numerous hostile posts on Facebook and your clearly stated intent to set yourself up as judge over them – even though you yourself have never demonstrated an ability to function in an actual local participatory fellowship. Nonetheless, I have no say over who a particular fellowship accepts into their gatherings. You can take it up with them individually. I do not control them or speak for them, but simply relate to some of them as one who helps and in a number of cases has been involved in starting them.
That’s an interesting response. If you wade through Jim’s blogs you’ll find he’s visited other local organic churches and groups and on at least one occasion used such a visit as an opportunity to trash the people, the church and their spiritual maturity. I guess when Jim has engaged in this activity himself it’s hard for him to imagine that other people wouldn’t be like him.
It’s somewhat vague too isn’t it? By the way, I have been involved in participatory fellowships, although Jim didn’t ask. I’ve visited and been part in at least one other that Jim himself visited and subsequently trashed. I have no desire to set myself up as a judge. I just want to see them and meet with the people and know who they are, how they function and what they do; no dice with Jim, however. It’s an interesting contrast however. Consider this response later when we look at how Jim claims to represent this “network.” He is essentially the sole voice and claims “elders” for whom he speaks for collectively. I guess it depends upon what hat Jim is wearing as to how well connected he is with these people. He either speaks for them or he doesn’t know them well enough to put seekers in contact.
I’ve spoken with one former participant who was a part of Jim’s home church in 2006 when it was more of a bible study apparently while Jim was in an institutional church and who has visited the group as recently as a year ago and he states that he is unaware of any network of churches and suggests that Jim Wright may be using the term loosely as the home church will switch between homes and occasionally meet in other venues. The same people are essentially participating and all that is different is the location at some given time. Excommunication Letter Against Jim Wright