Sunday, August 11, 2013

Video Room Kingdom

Several weeks ago I was introduced, by way of a YouTube clip, to Pastor Jim Standridge of Immanuel Baptist Church in Oklahoma. “Bro. Jim” as the church's website calls him, was delivering a sermon on May 19th of this year when a parishioner dozed off mid-service. A visibly irritated Standridge called attention to the young man and then descended from the pulpit to confront him directly. Having publicly chided the attendee for his drowsiness, Bro Jim then turns his attention to another young man who is attending with his fiancée. Calling him out by name, Standridge asks the couple “What makes you think I would marry you? You’re one of the sorriest church members I have. You’re not worth 15 cents!” 

A few moments later he announces that he is “the real deal” and then begins moving back toward the pulpit before announcing that if they want him to leave all they have to do is tell him. He charitably announces that will be more than happy to pack up his “little Connie” in his “Buick Enclave” and find some “Podunk church that don’t know up from down” and give his “life to them”. For good measure he calls out the behavior of one member’s wife and sisters, tells another woman that her children will “turn on you” and appears to insult the financial stability of a man named Joe Basket who possesses neither a “pot nor a window”.  However, all of this pales in comparison with the disdain he has for “Young Cox” in the media booth.

For the next several minutes Bro Jim berates the A/V nerd for various transgressions up to and including attempting to establish his “own kingdom in the video room”. Having successfully aired his grievances, Standridge takes a sip of water and continues to deliver his planned message as if nothing had happened. 

The entire sermon (including the rant) can still be seen on the church’s website and is also available as a podcast. When interviewed about the tirade, 76-year old Standridge stands by the incident and claims that he has even received e-mails and letters of support. Having spent the past 24 years as the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist, he has no plans of stepping down anytime soon.

Having viewed this footage several times, here are my thoughts:

  • Never, ever piss off the A/V nerd. He probably relished every second he spent editing, encoding, and uploading this little gem to YouTube. I bet Cox hasn’t partaken in a labor of love this pure since finalizing his outfit for ComicCon.
  • While one could argue that the others were being chastised for real or imagined moral transgressions under their control, it was just plain spiteful call out Joe Basket for being poor. Maybe he was recently laid off or perhaps he has been bankrupted by medical expenses. What I do know is that no one attends worship expecting the senior pastor to use their specific financial hardships as an anecdote. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mr. Basket didn’t “accidentally” back his Datsun into Bro Jim’s Buick Enclave when leaving church that Sunday.

  • I have been attempting to use Standrdige’s body language in the video to discern the exact moment when he thought to himself “What the Hell, I might as well turn this into Festivus” and I have settled on the few seconds it takes him to walk back toward the pulpit after his encounter with the betrothed couple.
  • Sadly, I am dying to hear the backstory on Kelly’s wife and sisters whose behavior was so abhorrent the pastor was forced to make “holy war” on their behalf. Were they operating a brothel out of the Fellowship Hall? Did they distribute peyote at VBS? Were they willfully complicit in Lance Armstrong’s decision to use performance enhancing drugs?
I don’t know what Brother Jim’s intentions were, but they quickly devolved into unwarranted personal attacks. I would even venture to guess that he made reference to several situations that had been revealed to him in confidence and for that there is no excuse. Regardless of their shortcomings, these people did not deserve to have their private spiritual struggles televised and referenced in a podcast. 
I suppose his congregation has the right to decide who ministers to them, but if I was a card-carrying member of this church you can bet that I would be more than happy to help he and Lil’ Connie load up the Buick. This was nothing more than shameless self-aggrandizement disguised as spiritual accountability. In the midst of his outburst, Standridge stated emphatically that “you can’t get this at any other church in town” and for that we should all be immensely grateful.


  1. This man is preaching "tough" love !

  2. This man was abusive and ego-driven. He did not display the self-giving love of Jesus Christ.


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