Matt Chandler, Village Church, Acts 29 Network, and The Long Overdue Funeral For Frat Boy Christianity

mattchandler

 

UPDATE FROM JOHN: As of this writing, Matt Chandler and The Village Church have issued a lengthy statement regarding these events, which can be read in full HERE. In it, they directly address many of the mistakes and missteps discussed in this piece and to the linked articles within it, accepting some responsibility. While they are only words, they are encouraging ones and necessary to bringing about much-needed healing, restoration, and change. While the situation itself and the systematic breakdowns that led to it cannot be remedied or excused by a simple statement, I welcome it and pray that it is the beginning of a true path toward a healthier, more compassionate, more loving Church for everyone. However, accountability for this situation and for these leaders begins, not ends here. Until and unless they show otherwise, I will choose to believe in the possibilities present here and to nurture them to fruition in whatever way I am able. This has always been about protecting, hearing, and caring for all people, and I have great hope that this can be a new beginning for we who comprise the Church; a beginning that as I state below, I will gladly be a part of. 

 

In recent weeks, a great deal of information has surfaced regarding Dallas megachurch The Village Church led by Matt Chandler, head of the Acts 29 Network, in what can only be described as a terrible mishandling by their leadership of a moral failure by one of its leaders; most critically the treatment of the man’s now ex-wife, who despite leaving the church, has been the subject of all sorts of intimidation and shaming by those in authority, which is sadly common in these decidedly patriarchal communities. Matthew Paul Turner lays out a good simplified overview of the situation, and here is a wonderful piece of investigative reporting by Amy Smith to help provide all the detailed documentation currently available. Below is my raw, gut-level response to these events and the all-too familiar patterns on display here. It’s not very pretty, but we’re dealing with something quite ugly here—and something needs to be said. 

Dear Matt Chandler, Village Church Leadership, Acts 29 Network, and Their Associated Christian Gentlemen…

The party’s over, dudes.

I’m afraid we’re going to have to shut down the Christian Boy’s Club forever. It’s been a long time coming.

This glorified, sanctified religious frat house management system you’ve been operating within has well exceeded its usefulness. At this point it’s doing a tremendous deal of real harm out here where honest, decent people are trying to figure out just why the heck Church leaders can’t seem to act like human beings, especially when it comes to the sexual misconduct of their own.

I’m trying to figure it out too. Maybe you can help me. 

Maybe you can explain to me and to everyone else, just who in the hot-and-humid Hell you think you are, and what you think gives you the right to malign and harass and victimize a decent, honest, deeply hurting woman for refusing to “play ball” and abide by the disgusting behavior of her former husband (and your employee), and why you think Jesus is cool with all these back room, closed-door shenanigans.

You see, guys, as nasty and worrisome as this one incident is on its own, (and it is), we see in it a shameful repetition, a story that feels all-too familiar; one that seems like merely the latest involving you, your leaders, and your cozy network of white pastor men behaving badly.

We only recently endured Mark Driscoll and that whole debacle, and yet here we are again. It’s like continually recycled garbage that looks slightly different but still stinks just the same. The patterns begin to repeat themselves; a series of intimidating internal memos, a hastily shuffled organization structure, a temporarily reassigned pastor, a brief media blackout, and a few short months until its business as usual, or until another awful mess oozes up to the surface.

Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe it’s the system you’ve built and fortified that’s broken here? Maybe on a fundamental level it’s the way you do what you do that breeds this kind of dysfunction and sickness; which enables male ego to grow unchecked and unchallenged. That’s the slippery part of Complementarianism; it’s always in danger of either elevating and devaluing gender worth, rather than celebrating its diversity. 

Here in this latest situation as in many cases, when there is dissension or unwanted bad press in your midst you often retreat into the cloistered safety and comfort of self-defined “church discipline”. I’m sorry, but in the most loving and gentle manner I can muster, I’m calling BS on all of it.

What has been on display here is a whole lot of things: bullying, coercion, harassment, guilt, and tough guy intimidation all wrapped up in a shoddy religious shell, but I’m confident saying that it isn’t anything Jesus would want his name on, and as a Christian I don’t want it associated with me either. No matter how you spin this, what it boils down to is a self-preserving cluster of male peers policing themselves and determining what constitutes fairness for them and for those they oversee, with little real accountability beyond what they have set in place.

Church elders are supposed to be wise, seasoned, impartial overseers who can deliver difficult truth to leadership; not golfing buddies and wingmen.

And here’s the really crazy part of all of this, the part that so frustrates: When Christian leaders like yourselves look around incredulously and ask why people are exiting and disowning the Church in massive numbers? It’s because of this. It’s moments like this. It’s leaders like you. It’s the testosterone-fueled hubris you unknowingly perpetuate that makes following Jesus a really tough sell for those who witness it. There’s a profound disconnect between the ministry he was building and what this is, and people can see it from a mile away.

I know this might be news to you, how sick and sinister this all has become. You’re too close to it to recognize it anymore. That’s why it’s a blind spot.

I know that you’ve been raised in this polluted, toxic church culture for decades and so you can’t see when it isn’t normal or healthy or holy. I know you’ve all studied at the same seminaries and hung out at the same conferences, that you’ve written the forewords to one another’s books and planted one another’s churches, and that you’ve made small fortunes on the kind of back-scratching, palm-greasing nepotism that our political system’s most experienced lobbyists would marvel at.

I know that since you began this journey because you believe and desire to serve, that you’ve convinced yourselves that you’re doing the Lord’s work and that it’s you who are being martyred and persecuted in times like this, but really you’re just being outed. Thanks to a free media culture, the stuff you’ve done so comfortably in the dark and been so adept at keeping hidden in the past, is all being dragged out into the light,—thank God.

You may dismiss this because my language is strong and my manner direct, but I hope that you won’t. Jesus didn’t turn over the temple tables because he was mean-spirited, violent, and reckless, he did it because he was passionately consumed with protecting and honoring the things of God.

Maybe I’m coming across as far less than understanding, but it’s because I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how you and your cozy brotherhood have so deluded yourselves that you believe this is anything resembling Christ; that it is at all Good News. I love the Church as you say you love it, and so I speak into those moments and places where it is being less than it should be.

This isn’t Christian Community and it isn’t Biblical leadership, it’s the kind of top-down, secretive, steaming horse manure that we’d shut down a fraternity house for, and it’s time here too.

I am a Christian and a man and a pastor, and I’m tired of you representing me. Yes we’re supposed to be brothers in Christ, but lately I just don’t feel like we share our Father’s heart on this matter.

I may sound simply bitter, but I am actually grieving deeply and tired.

I’m exhausted making excuses for you to those who rightly find your tactics unfathomable.

I am worn out trying to help people severely damaged by you and groups of men like you.

I am tired of the stories of those who have been shunned and silenced because they crossed or questioned you.

I am sick of seeing the terrible toll you have exacted on those who have served in your system and of the hidden poison that runs through your institutions.

Most of all I am ticked the heck off at the way you have used the Gospel of Jesus to somehow build a Kingdom of bros who bully, and who feel completely justified in doing it.

Thankfully, all of this is coming to an end.

Pretty soon, nothing will be able to be kept hidden and trust me, that will be the best thing for you, for those who have suffered in silence in your service, and for the Church that desperately needs to be in order to be a better reflection of the love and character of Christ to all people. My great hope is that you still aspire to this.

I want to believe that you truly care for Karen Hinkley. I want to believe that beneath all of this noise and mess that you are all sincere and forthright; that your faith and your motives are pure and that you really do want Jesus to be the star and not yourselves. I can’t know those things, so I can’t assess your intentions. I can only tell you what I see from here.

I so want to have peace that this is the last of this sad stuff. I don’t have that right now.

A funeral for part of what you’ve built is coming, yet it will not be a moment of sorrow, but jubilation. It is for the greatest good that you reexamine the whole thing, even if it has to be dismantled and recreated from the ground up with clear eyes and recommitted hearts and a relentless push toward Christ alone.

If you are willing to do that, I’ll gladly and joyfully do it alongside you. 

But make no mistake, the Boys Club has to and will be shut down, so that the diverse, open, safe, redeeming Kingdom of God can be ushered in.

It will be well worth it.

 

 

 

(Note: Obviously the term “frat” is not intended as a direct statement on Greek life, but to identify the kind of cloistered male brotherhood that is on display in these unhealthy church leadership structures, the kind that indeed would not be tolerated in most fraternities. There are undoubtedly thousands of college fraternities which engage in nothing like the behavior mentioned above, and if that is not made clear in the writing, I apologize.)

 

 

 

 

 

170 thoughts on “Matt Chandler, Village Church, Acts 29 Network, and The Long Overdue Funeral For Frat Boy Christianity

    • Yes, and I approve of your tone and language, Jon. What you’re writing about is not an academic issue. Kids are being molested, as we speak, at Churches all over the country that are full of members who feel justified in looking the other way because they think that “nice Christians” should just shove unpleasant things under the carpet and that loyalty to the Church super-cedes their legal and civic responsibility to report child abuse to the police.

      I don’t think that God will be happy with the excuse, “but I didn’t like the blogger’s tone,” when he asks people why they did nothing to prevent women, children, and other marginalized members of their Churches from being abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

      • “I don’t think that God will be happy with the excuse, “but I didn’t like the blogger’s tone,”…”

        I absolutely love this! Can we get over our need for everything to be ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ and just get on with the job of protecting the vulnerable and caring for the needy! It reminds me of the Tony Campolo quote: “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

      • @John: Sorry I spelled your name wrong. 😉

        @livingliminal: Thanks for the great feedback. Hearing the voice of common sense is always great. Yes, what I call the “tone police” are committing a logical fallacy by attacking someone’s character in lieu of addressing the issues they’re talking about.

        It reminds me of the following legal saw:

        “If you have the facts on you side argue the facts. If you have the law on your side argue the law. If you have neither the facts or the law on your side call the other guy a scoundrel.”

        And it would be different if the people accusing someone of being bitter, hateful, unloving, ugly, etc. also cared about sexual abuse victims.

        But in almost 5 years of advocating extensively against sexual abuse by Churches that belonged/do belong to an organization called Sovereign Grace Ministries, I have seen thousands of comments online made about something pertaining to someone’s hateful tone or attitude.

        In only one of those instances did someone also show concern for victims.

        To me that demonstrates that the true intent behind all the comments below attacking John’s character are not about love; they reflect a desire to shut-down any meaningful dialogue about unpleasant issues/sins/crimes pertaining to sexual abuse in Churches.

        So yes, I do ask people who personally attack me and other anti-abuse advocates in forums the following question:

        “I understand that you don’t like me/my attitude/my haircut, etc. and maybe you’re to feel that way (especially about the haircut most of the time) But are you willing to tell God that what you perceive as my personal shortcomings was a good reason to ignore the facts I communicated to you pertaining to sexual abuse in your Church/Church community?”

        That does seem to give people pause.

        Thanks again for the feedback.

  1. John–I am sorry to say this but your tone comes across much like the tone you accuse Mark Driscoll of. I hope you have investigated this issue thoroughly (talked to both sides personally) and have all your facts straight or you are no different than your accusations here. I quit reading your posts recently because I felt you were just on a campaign to condemn anthing evangelical (thrwing out thebaby with the bathwater). Try for a week or two focusing on some of the great things many (most) evangelicals do instead of being like the media and just focusing on their shortcomings. The church I work with is in the camp you seem to not like (mega church) but I wish you knew (I hate having to do this) how many thousands of dollars we spend helping single moms keep their electrocity on etc., recently provide 7 solar powered deep water wells for a disease infected area in Malawi etc. etc. Yes there are a few bad apples out there, but focus on some of the good ones bro!

    • Hey Tim, the difference is, my tone is one spoken fully in the light and to peers who I have no control or power over. It is not a hidden, bullying, angry thing done by a leader to one under his authority.

      Tone has nothing to do with it, but tactic. I am a Christian speaking about the world around me in whatever way I feel called to.

      I write about all sorts of issues, both positive and sick in the world and many of them are connected to the Church. If you believe that Karen Hinkley was not treated in appropriately by church leadership here, you’re allowed that perspective, but since I do feel that way, then not speaking would be a greater sin. Many times we only support another’s authenticity of it lines us up with our beliefs.

      I am part of that amazing wonderful Church ands have been for nearly two decades. That’s the very reason I push back when i see it being misused. There are absolutely many “good apples” out there, but that doesn’t mean we stay silent on those who may not be.

      Thanks for reading, man.

      • Of course you have the right to speak and there is always a need for prophetic voices pointing out the wrongs in the church. I just wonder if you talked with Matt Chandler to hear the whole story before you label him a frat boy Christian. I’m not even saying Village handled it right. I was just surprised by your rhetoric. Paul tells us in Gal. 6:1-3 to restore people with humility and gentleness because of our own shortcomings. I’ll admit your rhetoric put me on the defense. Had you been more gentle and humble instead of kinda frat boy going after frat boy I might have responded differently– sounds like an excuse I know but the way things are said is important.

        • It would be nice if we could all talk one on one, but unfortunately we don’t live in a Matthew 18 world any longer with everyone having extremely public ministries and less and less human interaction. Most of these megachurch pastors barely give face time to their own members, and in fact the issues I’m responding to in the piece involve someone on the inside of that church, who still did not get what I would call fair treatment.

          I do believe Amy Smith’s piece gives a great deal of the story; enough to respond to.

          I’d be more than happy to talk to Matt Chandler, however that isn’t as important to me as speaking up for the person involved who does not have a massive media at their disposal.

          Trust me, I’m more than aware of my own flaws, failings, and sins, but it doesn’t mean I don’t continue to push back when I see dysfunction elsewhere.

    • I think you’re creating a straw man argument my friend.

      Lots of Churches are able to help single moms keep the electricity on and hold self-confessed pedophiles accountable for their actions. It’s not an either or situation.

      As for focusing on the good things, those of us who advocate against the cover-up of child sexual abuse might have more time to do fun things if more so-called good Evangelicals stood up to the great evil, enabling pedophilia, that is affecting almost every mega-Church in some way.

    • Amen. I ran across this blog actually google searching how to join the village church…My family and I have been going and it has made such a huge positive impact our all of our lives. If anything we’ve learned there is the keep our eyes on the father…just saying

      • “Amen. I ran across this blog actually google searching how to join the village church…”

        So you’ve been attending this Church but you needed to do a Google search to figure out how to join it? It sounds like TVC doesn’t give people much personal attention.

        I hope you’re keeping your eyes on your kids, too, given your decision to take them to a Church in the midst of a big pedophile scandal that is likely to only get worse.

        Just saying…

    • The question is whether the good the church does outweighs the evil that it does. “Mene Mene Tekal. Heckle and Jekyll. We other Christians out here have your Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical numbers. You might be surprised at how many people are keeping a score card on you.

  2. “frat boy Christianity”–that is a grand slam, my brother. May your words have their intended effect, reach the intended audience, and expose this toxic style of leadership for the unChristian practice that it is. Between this and the Duggars (and all the similar situations which have not yet come to light) I am grieving too–so many innocent people have been hurt and will be hurt until the rest of us stand up to frat boy Christianity and say ENOUGH

    • Yes—but we need to be doing something else too. We need to be teaching our children to “tell on” the dirty old men and women who abuse them sexually in the closets at church. Let them know that it is safe for them to speak to you about it and that you will never blame them for the fact that it occurred. These old letchers tell the kids things like: “And if you tell anyone what happened here in this closet, your mommy and daddy will leave you and never come back again.”

      If you want to really put the FEAR OF THE LORD in these pedophiles, raise up a generation of fearless tattle tales. That’ll fix their butts good!!!

  3. Again John! You have hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your clear vision and your willingness to speak truth to power.

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  5. isn’t watching child pornography technically sexual immorality and therefore adultery? I would say this is an easy one, no grey area here!!

    • Sadly this system is hared wired to protect the man, which is part of the issue here. In a normal setting this offense and the follow-up would have been much less filled with intimidation and guilt for the gentleness wife.

      • so in other words, in this case the wife has a legitimate reason to divorce but the church is giving her an ultimatum that she must stay married or be removed from church membership. So it is an act of coercion? Possibly because there are other interests at stake other than the dignity of the wife.

      • John, why do you assume that this is a system hard wired to protect the man? Why can we not assume the same actions would have been taken had the wife been guilty and the man wanted out?

        • The patterns already well established, the absence of female leaders across these networks, the way that young male leaders are always allowed to have too much power and influence. It’s not merely tho incident, but a resume of the structure.

      • In following all of this.. I truly (and sadly) wonder how the response of the church leaders’ expressed desire to “support and protect” Karen would have looked had they embraced the wisdom and experience of women leaders and elders. There could have been at least one voice, if not a chorus of voices, that said, “Whoa, hold up guys, I’m not sure those actions demonstrate the care I know you want to convey.”

  6. Whenever people say, “But look at all of the people who get saved through their ministry!” I think your point here is the right response: “When Christian leaders like yourselves look around incredulously and ask why people are exiting and disowning the Church in massive numbers? It’s because of this. It’s moments like this. It’s leaders like you. It’s the testosterone-fueled hubris you unknowingly perpetuate that makes following Jesus a really tough sell for those who witness it. There’s a profound disconnect between the ministry he was building and what this is, and people can see it from a mile away.”

    • Yes. And Jesus was a very female sort of guy, having blended within himself the best traits of both male and female. I have noticed over the years that high school jock/coach types gravitate to Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches—not sure why. All I know is that they are always putting on huge church conferences to tell these jock nitwits that you can love Jesus and “still be a man.” Who in the Hell ever defined manhood as being a jock nitwit. When I see jock and coach swagger and that stupid walking gait they all have, I say, “What happened to him. His mom must not have loved him enough or something.” No one is impressed. Take my word for it. The real men out here think you are all big jerk—because you are.

  7. Well done, John. The amount of control that comes from the leadership of these churches with their covenant memberships is sickening. It’s based on bad ecclesiology and it is hurting God’s people. I’ve seen this happening with these ungodly “covenants” for 30 years, and yet churches don’t seem to be learning yet that no member has ever been helped to maturity by them. Instead people leave in drips and drabs and the leadership calls them rebellious.

  8. Uh-boy. I hardly know what to say. First of all, the church itself appears to be deceitful from the “git-go.” If they are a Baptist church, the word “Baptist” needs to be on the sign out in front of the church. Obviously, they think having that word on the sign would have prevented people from joining their church. What does that say?

    I have never liked the idea of what I call “meagerchurches” because 11,000 members is just too large. While it might be great for raising money to do good things, it would seem to me that some loss of ministerial reality and helpfulness would inevitably occur in a place where a church member is effectively reduced to Member No. 7,983. You see my point.

    My suspicion is that Ms. Hinkley is being judged on the Adam and Eve Model. Eve sinned against her husband and brought the perfection of God’s world crashing down. Ms. Hinkley sinned and brought her husband and the perfection of the “Meagerchurch of Eden” crashing down. “Damned women!!! It’s just like a woman to go and do something like this!!! And they wonder why we men need to get them under control and keep them under control!!!” In Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, it id always the woman’s fault. No matter what happened or which man did it, it is always the woman’s fault. Samantha Field has told the whole world about her rape at Pensacola Christian College and how to this day the college insists that it was all her fault. You can read about it here: http://www.xojane.com/issues/samantha-field-pensacola-christian-college-rape-stalking.

    However, on the flip side, there is the issue of forgiveness for Mr. Root. We have all sinned, and we have been blessed by grace and forgiveness, even though we did not deserve it. Can we do anything less with Mr. Root? And from my reading it was not clear that he had ever physically molested any children. It occurs to me that viewing child pornography might be the “surge protector” that is just enough to prevent these pedophile guys from going out and actually, physically molesting a child. I suppose time and more revelations (or the absence of them) will tell the full tale in this particular case. It seems to me that ultimately every player in this sordid little play is a victim.

    • “It occurs to me that viewing child pornography might be the “surge protector” that is just enough to prevent these pedophile guys from going out and actually, physically molesting a child.”

      Are you seriously arguing that the child being made to pose naked for a picture being viewed by perverts is not being abused?

      • No. I am seriously arguing that those who do view it probably stop there, which saves some child in his potential realm of abuse from being physically molested. I was in no way encouraging the abuse that goes on in child pornography.

        Maybe you can answer a question for me “dip.” There is a thing called child molestation. Why are you allowing people to build special stations (like kiosks I guess) where pedophiles can go molest children. I would think that you would be against such stations and be trying to get them torn down.

      • dover1952, I have no idea what you’re talking about respecting pedophile gas stations. Frankly, I don’t think I want to.

        I will say that you seem to be making lots of generalizations about the people reading and commenting on this blog. For instance, you’re assuming that everyone here belongs to an Evangelical Church.

        I do not and never have. I became interested in child sexual abuse after interacting with victims of it in Churches near my home. Thus, the stereotypes you’re throwing out about people in what you clearly consider to be “evil Churches” don’t apply to me.

        Just something to think about…

        😉

      • Thanks Jannalchan. It is sometimes hard to differentiate the assorted actors here on John’s blog. My apologies. I am a “word person” and I was trying to make a funny with the term “child molestation.” It is kind of like the word “therapist” can be easily parsed into “the rapist.” Child Molest Station. Never mind. Nobody ever gets my jokes anyway. Have a good evening and many blessings to you.

  9. I don’t know Matt Chandler, this marriage, or you. But I imagine that publicly bashing the bride of Christ isn’t something that pleases Jesus. The body of Christ never has been or ever will be perfect this side of Glory which is why we need a Savior in the first place. Romans says, “None is righteous, no, not one.” Not you. Not me. Go make your peace in private. Lay the pen down. God does not need you to defend Him. If He did, He’d be a pretty puny God. And He certainly loves His bride. And aren’t you glad? I am!

    • The “Bride of Christ” consists of people. You cannot protect some while allowing others to go unchecked.

      You are correct that no Christians and so no system composed of them will be perfect, but we call them to accountability just the same. Especially as they lead.

      • But John, you are a leader, too. And this piece is not humble or peace-seeking or honoring to God, in my opinion. We are called to love the brethren. That doesn’t mean that we don’t call each other out on our sin but we try to do it in humility and gentleness. Love that withholds truth is not love but truth without grace is not love either. Jesus was “full of grace and truth”. Maybe you were just fired up and I get that but this piece does not read like you are loving the bride of Christ. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. Peace to you, John.

        • Yes, i am a leader, and that is why I an speaking here. If you can’t see the desire I have for the Church to reflect the love of and character of Jesus, I can’t convince you otherwise. As I admitted in the preface of the piece, yes the language is strong, but it’s because this matters deeply to me.

          There’s a huge difference between “not loving the Bride” and making those in leadership accountable for the things they do in positions of power.

          You love the Church by also defending it. That’s exactly when Jesus turned over tables. This is my table turning. Just because it feels angry doesn’t mean its sinister, it may just be passion for the best things.

          Thanks for reading.

      • “…allowing others to go unchecked.” Yeah, just like the LGBT crowd you fiercely promote? Really? You don’t seem to want any accountability except for your own opinions….and opinions don’t matter to God, do they?

        • You’re most welcome to disagree with me regarding the “LGBT crowd”, however that has no bearing on the topic at hand, or whether or not there are problems of leadership in this situation and on a larger scale. I believe there are, and VC’s recent statement seems to show there is some agreement there. Thanks.

    • Julie, the people who are oppressing the Bride of Christ are the leaders at Village Church. Their doctrine on ecclesiology is wrong and it is hurting people there. Telling them they need to change is love, not hate.

    • Julie. If John were loving the bride of Christ, he would be committing adultery. Jesus is supposed to love his bride. Just think of John as the wedding photographer. You will be closer to reality.

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  11. I assume you know all the details of this situation to make such a severe rebuke and offer such harsh criticism. Otherwise, I’m sure you realize you run the risk of being guilty of what you accuse others of.

    • Amy Smith does a wonderful job of providing many details, and Acts 29 has provided many in the past. I am a flawed human being, so guilty of many things, no doubt, but not the abuse of power that had been on display here. We all fall short, and when we see that happening, wherever we see it happening, it’s necessary to speak. It doesn’t mean we claim perfection, it means we care about people who have been mistreated. Thanks for reading.

    • Well, we know that the The Village Church Pastors think they have the right to publicly harass a woman because she didn’t get their permission prior to having her marriage to a self-confessed pedophile annulled.

      What other details of this situation do we need to know before calling these guys what Jon has called them.

      Thanks for standing up to the tone police, Jon.

      😉

  12. Ummm, did you actually research any of these claims? You’ll find it interesting to learn that the only major article covering the woman’s divorce was written by a feminist… and sorry they were dealing with divorce biblically unlike virtually every other church out there. I’m sorry brother, but you’re opposing an incredible church that the Lord is very clearly blessing immensely.
    Matthew 10:22 and Matthew 7:16-20 come to mind

  13. I’m sorry but I fail to see how you biblically have come up with any claims against this man or church. Show me some scripture where I am wrong in supporting the Acts 29 Network, and Matt Chandler calling for Mark Driscoll’s resignation exhibited church discipline rarely seen and is a testament to how closely tied to scripture this church clings

    • You are welcome to support any group or group of people your faith compels you too. Mine cannot allow these men and this kind of leadership to go unchecked. It’s been proven to allow men to do whatever they want to in the name of Biblical authority and that isn’t OK.

  14. “and they will know you are my diciples by the way you love one another”

    I’m sad for you John. It’s not too late to repent and turn to Christ. He is better.

      • There is a way to do it in a loving way. You are far off from that, in my opinion. There is no room for this kind of ego in the shadow of the Cross.

        Julie, above, quoted some scripture you ignored. Is it your usual practice to ignore the parts of scripture that are inconvenient for you?

        • Ego is what created these leadership blind spots and a system that allows a few people too much power; a culture that continually uses “love” as a reason not to criticize. I love God, the Church, and I love people and that’s why I speak into all situations I see. Karen Hinkley is one of those “people”.

          As a pastor and someone who understands the difficulties of ministry, I also see its dangers.

  15. Thank you for this…I can hear something of your exhaustion, pain and frustration…and whilst I’m guessing you may be criticised for expressing those feelings it really helps me to read them and to know that someone cares that things aren’t right. So many stories like this, and I have my own, each with broken hearted people longing to be heard, acknowledged and validated…and really, really longing for change. You are playing your part…I hope you can hear something like our Father’s “well done” as you keep battling and keep caring.
    Thank you xx

  16. I don’t know why you bothered to write this letter. Don’t you know it’s going to fall on deaf ears. This good old boys club is never going to change. And unfortunately it’s never going die because there are too many sheep that drink the Kool-aid and like to be controlled and abused.

    • Fortunately, the “Good Old Boys Club” doesn’t call the shots in the real world. I predict that the following two things will happen:

      1) The Village Church will be hit with multiple lawsuits and criminal investigations, pertaining to covering up child sexual abuse, that causes it to go bankrupt within 3 years.
      2) The Evangelical World will go through, in the next 5 years, the same massive sexual abuse scandal that the Catholic Church endured 15 years ago.

      The “Good Old Boys Club” had a good run but society is tired of supporting corrupt businesses masquerading as non-profit Churches.

  17. Honestly, I don’t know why you bothered to write this letter. It’s only going to fall on deaf ears. This good old boys club is never going to change. And unfortunately it’s never going to die. There are just too many sheep who have drunk the Kool-aid and like to be controlled and abused.

    • Maybe it will fall on deaf ears, but if someone who has been hurt by the abuse of power in the Church feels encouraged or been guilted into silence, it’s worth it.

  18. Perhaps it isn’t the sheep that drank the Kool-Aid that need curated articles like this wonderful piece shown to them. Perhaps it’s those of us former or current “nones” who spent decades “out there” who need to hear each and every variant voice that would counter what sent us away in the first place.

    There’s a definite reaction from friends in my age demographic as I share these. Even if they’ll still not embrace or forgive what they experienced in the form of patriarchial Christianity in America, and its various injuries over past decades, there’s definitely a curiosity. In my case, it’s the LGBT community, over 40, who survived the AIDS era in the 80s and 90s, but there are so many other wounded and extricated people of varying demographics for whom this will truly resonate. There is an often-unspoken gratitude for this level of advocacy among those who’ve spent the longest time tending to wounds deeply inflicted.

    Those of us embittered long ago, who left the Kool-Aid sitting on the tables as we walked out the door, have spent decades hushed by the gatekeepers holding the keys. Rest assured that my brothers and sisters out there are watching and listening with much interest.

    Thank you, Pastor, so very much.

    • Kenny,
      I completely agree with you. I left the Kool-aid years ago as well. Yet, it saddens me deeply, knowing that most abusive churches and leaders will continue on as usual and not even begin to entertain the thought that they might be in the wrong. They will continue to abuse and they will continue to destroy others faith just like mine has been destroyed. The Marc Driscolls, Matt Chandlers, and all their ilk of the world will likely never understand, never acknowledge, and never apologize for the damage they have done. It pains me so. I write this with tears in my eyes.

      • I am so sorry – I really am. There are so many people on social media who have reached out to one another with varied stories, usually pained and all variations (to some extent) on a common theme. We have almost become a dispersed family of sorts (many of us call it the “Church of Twitter”). For me, there’s wonderful comfort in this dispersed group of liked-minded souls, and they really do allow me to withstand the barbs and brutality that can come out of one outrage and scandal after another that makes this headline or that.

        Words penned by John, Mark Sandlin, Jayson Bradley, Tim Fall, Micah J. Murray, Benjamin Corey, and more (these are just some of so many whom I follow) are male clergy and church leaders, role models who counter that toxic bravado, and simply offer their joys and their humanity, and their presence in their work. They would take bullets for others, or “die unto themselves” if you will. It often feels as if I’ve met a slew of elder brothers who would have our backs when we’ve been beaten up by other male figures for so long. They will always have a particular form of gratitude and trust that I reserve for very few.

        Keep the faith – there’s great hope that isn’t always so visible.

        Blessings!

  19. Ok, so here is my question- what would people who claim to be Christians LIKE to see the church do to this husband who struggles with child porn? Kick him out? Tell him he isn’t welcome anymore? Shun him? Make him draw a sign on his shirt that says he is a child molester? What would be appropriate? And the church never said she couldn’t et a divorce, they just asked her to walk through those steps with her. She didn’t want too, which is her choice, but before times were bad she joined a church that asks you to do that before you file for a divorce. I can say that the time I filed for divorce, there was no one who prayed with me and walked through that with me. I was angry, I was bitter and I walked into a courthouse and filed out of pure hatred towards my husband because he cheated. So technically, I was justified but my heart was full of evil when I filed and later divorced. I don’t know what would have happened if people had prayed with me. I prob would have eventually still filed but my heart wouldn’t have been full of hatred in doing it. I wouldn’t live with the regret I have now for that. So it’s set up so people have peace and good direction. Why is that so wrong? No one is saying this isn’t a serious offense but no one likes to admit that sin is sin. God doesn’t see sin any difference. He hates it all. Our job is to point people to the cross. That guy needs Jesus and she needs a hug.

    • There’s a huge difference between properly and completely restoring this man, and forcing his wife to feel obligated to him or to the church for that matter.

      Obviously he needs care and healing, but his wife has been victimized twice.

    • “What would people who claim to Christians LIKE to see the church do to this husband who struggles with child porn?” How about GO TO PRISON! What he did is a crime not just a sin. If he was a murderer or a bank robber, we would not question it.

    • It starters, I would have liked to see the leadership be totally honest with the covenant members. they took a very serious chance for 3 months by not telling the members of Jordans pedophilia while they were “caring” for him at TVC. the leaders were more concerned about Karen’s disobedience to them then they were about children and their parents right to know what they were dealing with.

    • How about counseling with someone who actually has experience in dealing with this kind of sexual issue instead of someone from the church who doesn’t?

      Karen didn’t divorce her husband; she had their marriage annulled as it was a fraud from the beginning. Before she did this, she sought the Lord’s will and advice from Christians she trusted for over a month before seeking the annulment. She was a member in good standing when she resigned. The church wanted marital reconciliation, which is why they didn’t want her to separate her finances from Mr. Root’s. They made it clear that THEY were the ones with authority over every aspect of her marriage. Not her. Not God.

      You really should read all the documents at the WatchKeep site; they’re quite eye-opening.

    • She didn’t get a divorce. She got an annulment. Those are very different things legally. The annulment, after a marriage has been consummated, was granted because the marriage contract itself was void – it didn’t exist in the eyes of the law. It was void because he entered it fraudulently. He committed fraud and his act nullified the marriage contract. It’s really very simple. In reality, the church was asking her to break the law (which is against Scripture, by the way).

      No one is mentioning this, but in addition to remaining in the marriage, she would have been expected and counseled to service his sexual needs as a godly wife. Can you even begin to imagine the horror of that situation? When is it too much?

      He should be in jail.

  20. I guess my main question is if the writer of this article took any time to read into the Village Chruch’s response to all of thisl. Here is an alleged copy of the church’s response to the concern. It truly does sound like a really messy situation, and one that I might argue seems to be being handled faithfully and lovingly by those at the Village Church
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/266531116/The-Village-Church-email-on-5-23-15-to-covenant-members-about-Karen-Hinkley-and-Jordan-Root#scribd

  21. After reading the Village Church’s communication and Karin Hinkley’s, I applaud the Village Church. It seems to me like they are handling this very difficult situation in as biblically faithful and gracious of a way as possible. Good for them for continuing to financially support Karin.

    I can’t imagine what Karin is experiencing, and I pray, and believe, the Lord will bring beauty from this mess for all involved. But the Village Church seems to be doing what God calls them to do in terms of being an agent of reconciliation! If the details of the Village Church report turn out to be false, I will consider standing with John. But until then I don’t see this situation being driven by ‘patriarchy’, a ‘polluted, toxic church culture’, or ‘bullying, coercion, harassment, guilt, and tough guy intimidation’. Instead I see faithful shepherds attempting to lead their sheep. Good job Village Church!

    • How about the picture they are painting for victims of childhood sexual abuse? “Your abuser just needs to apologize to be let off the hook and you should continue to submit to his leadership and authority once he does.” That’s a great way to destroy a victim.

    • I suggest reading Karen Hinckley’s side of the story here –

      http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2015/05/karen-hinkleys-response-to-village.html

      According to her, The Village Church only every provided payments constituting 10% of her income, which they stopped immediately after her husband was fired. They only started them up again once the story started to get media attention.

      Karen Hinckley clearly states, in the article above, that she does not want any quote unquote financial support from The Village Church.

      “If the details of the Village Church report turn out to be false, I will consider standing with John. ”

      Well, now you know they’re false. 😉

  22. Just to clarify, you serve North Raleigh Community Church? Is that the same church that says:

    “Consequently, at NRCC, we’re not too focused on one another’s sins. We believe it is not our job to straighten each other out, but to encourage one another to listen to the Holy Spirit and let God convict us when it is time […] We all sin; sometimes very badly! However, if we believe that God has already forgiven us…if we believe that Jesus’ life And message of atonement has covered sin…then it’s not a good use of our energy to focus on human weakness and failure.”

    Well, if it is I must say this post was not a good use of your energy. Ironic. At any rate, I’m glad I can post this and “need not worry about being judged by [you].”

    Cheers!

    • I never judged anyone in the post to begin with so that’s not an issue for me either. Assessing someone’s actions and trying to determine whether or not they are damaging people has nothing to do with spiritual evaluation. Critiquing unhealthy leadership and making a moral judgement are not at all the same thing, though that is a convenient tactic to avoid responsibility for our actions.

      You’re right, we don’t judge people at NRCC, and we also have completely transparent leadership, a commitment to uplifting the value of both women and men equally, and a culture that has everything out in the open with no hidden mess. We share it openly and gladly. It’s the antidote to the things I see in these unhealthy systems.

      Thanks for reading!

      • I think you missed the irony and I’m not sure how to clarify it. You’re a leader in a church that doesn’t focus on other people’s sins, doesn’t think it’s your job to straighten people out, and thinks it’s a waste of energy to focus on weakness. You write this post that focuses on other people’s sins, seeks to straighten them out, and expends a lot of energy focusing on weakness, and your only response is that while you’re “assessing actions,” making “determinations,” “critiquing leadership,” and “making moral judgments,” you’re not “spiritually evaluating” anyone. Seriously?

    • No Kyle. What he means is that his kind of church does not engage in such criticism, but because of their inherent evil nature, Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches deserve a close and honest inspection and examination.

      For example, in the county where my family lives, white people have never trusted black people. In a rare instance when a black person comes over to the family Christmas party as a guest of a family member, at least one guy in the room is always watching the negro carefully and nervously all evening, with a focus on quick, hair-trigger action because they think negroes are ticking time bombs that might go off any second with no prior warning—and a white man has to be hypervigilant to protect himself and his family from the lone negro maniac in the room. Of course, the negro in the room is an okay guy—friendly and loving as can be—and would not harm a fly. It is the white people in the room who are the nutball maniacs—and every last one of them is a church-going Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical.

      Those of us who experience your behaviors first-hand know that someone has to be critically watching your every move—because you really are nutballs—and you prove it at Christmas parties.

      • Dover: I’m not sure who you’re referring to with the second person (your, your, you, you) in the last paragraph. I left evangelicalism a long time ago–so I trust it doesn’t apply to me. But that’s peripheral.

        I’m all for close and honest inspection. But, I trust, you don’t think this blog post is reflective of either “close” or “honest” inspection of an actual situation. Since we’re into using examples, that’s like someone saying, “I did academic research” because they Google searched or read a Wiki article. Real research? Hardly! At least that wouldn’t have passed in any of my undergraduate or graduate studies. And this blog isn’t an actual attempt at close and honest inspection. It’s a bully pulpit. And, apparently, it’s a pulpit where it’s okay to focus on another’s sins, weaknesses, and trying to straighten them out. But if that irony is lost to you, sorry!

        Cheers!

        • Ironic that you refer to a blog post about a group of powerful pastors mistreating and intimidating one of their own members, by calling it a “bully pulpit”. By their own admission, these leaders were the bullies here. I ‘m disappointed you can’t see that Karen Hinkley was the victim in this, but I can’t change that. This post was the product of a passionate desire to see an injustice addressed and a new direction forged. I believe that’s happening here, thankfully.

    • I just went to the NRCC website and was shocked to find this: ” At NRCC, we believe that sin is not that big of a deal.” Then what is the big deal?

      Also…”A better use of our spiritual energy is to help one another strengthen our connection to the Holy Spirit, allowing the Inner Voice to deal with our shortcomings and sins at divinely-appointed times. Occasionally, God may employ us to help one another deal with some dimension of sin in our lives, but often not. In either case, it is up to us to listen for God’s Spirit, and to obey what we hear.” Just what are you doing to help these individuals then? Seems more like you are yelling at them from your point of view. Nowhere in that statement does it say you get to voice your point of view at someone else. If you’re not helping to heal then you are not helping, right?

      Then there is this tidbit…”At NRCC you need not worry about being judged by your church, but instead be strengthened and supported by your spiritual friends and church family.” I’m assuming that since this couple does not attend NRCC that this statement then doesn’t apply to you or to them, just the folks who attend NRCC. By all means, judge away.

      There is no person to person accountability in these belief statements whatsoever. So just what kind of standard are you holding these folks to?

      Congratulations John, you now know what it’s like to be a fundie and have some convictions. But remember this, you can’t hold someone to your standard of what you call love, that’s not fair to them. You can only show them what Christ has done for them and let them decide if that action meets their definition of love. That can only be done if we agree on what sin is and what effect it has in our human lives and the damage and detriment it causes between us and God. Love can’t be forced, and you are trying to force your view of love. That’s not love.

      To quote Warren Wiersby: “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

      • “There is no person to person accountability in these belief statements whatsoever. So just what kind of standard are you holding these folks to?”

        I’m holding them to standards of integrity, honestly, compassion, decency, for starters. It’s easy to see when those things are not present, and they have not been present here.

        What the bulk of the rest of your comment above implies, is that we (by which you mean, I) have no business speaking into any situations of injustice anywhere. By that rule, then we should all simply stay silently complicit in every bad thing we are witnesses to. I don’t see that as a very high calling and I don’t find anything of Christ in that.

        You’ll be careful to notice if you read the original blog post again, that I specifically mention that you cannot assess the motives or intentions of another (moral judgment), so I do not do this, but that we can and should evaluate the fruit of what we can see. If you don’t believe that’s part of the package deal with a life of following Jesus, I won’t try to convince you.

        You would like to be able to openly criticize me from a distance, whole condemning my critique of another. You can’t have it both ways.

      • My response to the notion that it is primarily the church that purifies and disciples rather than the Holy Spirit:

        “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

    • Kyle:
      I quote:

      “But, I trust, you don’t think this blog post is reflective of either “close” or “honest” inspection of an actual situation.”

      I do think this post reflects a close and honest inspection of an actual situation. To me, the irony is that you’re attacking John’s scholarship and integrity via vague arguments and ad hominem attacks, in lieu of engaging in the type of considered dialogue you claim to respect.

      I hate to break it to you, but your whole line of criticism regarding John’s conduct is just a straw man argument.

      In my opinion, your critical reasoning skills would be unlikely to get you through an English 101 class, my friend.

    • @Kyle:

      ““Do you have an opinion about how well the Village Church is handling the scandal surrounding the Hinkleys?”

      Yes, and the fact that you don’t know that indicates that you haven’t bothered to read any of the comments on this post or just can’t respond to what I’ve said in a serious way.

      If you’re not interested in the subject matter, why are you bothering to post comments about it? Does good scholarship consist of being some kind of ad hominem attack hit man who doesn’t bother to do any research about the subject matter he’s talking about? 😉

      Also, your straw man argument about John’s Church’s statement about sin does not hold up.. Clearly there’s a difference between wondering about whether a fellow Church member committed a sin like watching a porn movie last night and calling out a sin like a major mega Church failing to protect the children in its care from sexual abuse.

      I think we’d both agree that poking holes in someone else’s arguments is a lot easier than coming up with arguments of one’s own.

      I don’t buy your explanation about being generally ignorant about the subject discussed in the article above. I think you have a vested interested in the subject of this blog post and would rather make silly condescending remarks about other people’s commentary on it than bother to create you own.

      I wish you’d prove me wrong yet I know you’ll just write another vague comment with zero scholarship attached to it.

      Have a nice day.

  23. It must be nice to have internet space to blast a church miles away from you for something you have no intimate knowledge about whatsoever. You sit and read select emails posted by one who willfully signed multiple times a covenant that clearly laid out the expectations in cases of marriage and divorce yet who willfully decided that didn’t matter in this case. As if her case is different than any other woman or man who has sought a divorce at The Village.

    You have ZERO knowledge of conversations held in person or over the phone and skype. You have ZERO knowledge that she has posted every email from the church and every email with her replies. You have ZERO knowledge of what she has said to non-Village leaders in meetings and in emails. You have ZERO knowledge of where her heart really is in all this. You have ZERO knowledge of The Village leaderships hearts in all this. You read a blog or two on the internet, and somehow that gives you the right to pontificate on the matter. It somehow gives you the right to insert yourself into an extremely delicate situation, take a side and make yourself look like the strong, brave prince ready to help the helpless, suffering lady from her would be attackers. You mix and match words and stories to get your point across. You present half truths as truth and proceed to make over generalizations about not only a church, but a lead pastor and then an entire network. I wish I had heard of you sooner, because it would be nice to have someone so intimately aware of all the shortcomings of a church, a leader and an entire network and yet not really know any of them. I can only imagine how you might be of service to the universal Church down the road.

    My wife and I were covenant members at The Village for 4 years, and some of the names in the emails are people we know. Like, we actually know them. We didn’t just read their online profile and a blog about them. We have many friends still at The Village who are even closer friends with some of the leaders mentioned than we are. If we know them, I can assure you they really know them. You, sir, do not. My guess is you have never met even one of them. Yet you know their hearts, the motives, their “real” desires in all this and so much more. You make them all seem as though they defend the “man” no matter what. No one, let me say it again a little larger for you and everyone else, NO ONE has or will defend the “man” in this. This is NOT and NEVER has been the issue at hand. It has been spun that way, because people need the big churches to fall like the big corporations. Makes people feel good inside. It make us feel better because they have what we want and we can’t get it so let’s wait until they make a mistake then beat the living hell out of them.

    The issue at hand is two fold, 1) Jordan’s sin which is being dealt with internally and externally with FBI and public officials and 2) Karin’s disregard for the membership covenant that she signed and re-signed repeatedly knowing what it said about marriage and divorce. The Village has been made to look evil because they are actually holding someone to a covenant. Peel back the layers and see the real issue at hand. I can assure you she is not the first woman or man to have gone through this. Of course, I assume you have done your homework on this to know that what I just said is actually true. Surely, you have not just seen this one case and thought, “Ah ha! I knew these guys were evil jerks! And this proves it!” The baseline issue here is someone is being disciplined for not abiding by the very covenant they made with the church. They were not going to make her reconcile with her husband, but their goal was to work toward that end if it were possible. If not, then they would walk with her through divorce or annulment and take the necessary next steps. They have not excused his actions nor have they tried to quietly sweep them under the rug. They have not intentionally withheld information from people, but have communicated with those who needed to know. But because of the sick and entitled society we live in we think we all need to know so we can all make our judgments as you have done here. The Village somehow owes us the details of a very difficult and messy situation. They do not.

    I know the argument that because of Chandler’s public profile you are justified in your public rebuke. So I don’t think you will mind my rebuke of your post here. We are way too quick in the age of immediate information to pass judgments on people and situations we really know nothing about, and it’s unfortunate when another brother in Christ decides that he will join the party and slam a church, a leader and a network when the only information he has to go one is a few blog posts and a selection of emails/texts. Perhaps you feel heroic and brave because you defended the girl, but you have missed the point entirely in all this and have decided to slander and speak maliciously of other brothers in Christ. And for what? I do not know. The heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).

    • Well said Bryan!

      But do note that John isn’t passing any judgments–he’s *only* “assessing actions,” making “determinations,” “critiquing leadership,” and “making moral judgments.”

      • Kyle: Bryan expressed some thoughts pertaining to the actual issues discussed in the article, in addition to criticizing John strongly.

        Are you interested in the subject matter as well?

        Do you have an opinion about how well the Village Church is handling the scandal surrounding the Hinkleys?

      • Jannalchan:

        1. “Are you interested in the subject matter as well?”
        Which subject matter? I only ask because from my vantage point–sitting behind a computer as one who is completely uninvolved in the community and life of any person(s) this pertains to–there’s multiple things going on. If the subject matter is: a) the sin(s) that led to discipline case(s), I have to admit I’m not that interested in matters that are deeply personal, private, and complex that have, as far as I can begin to imagine it, shattered the lives of at least two people. It’s not for me to take their circumstances and make it fodder for blogs, speculation, and gossip; b) the practical outworking of a certain ecclesiology, then, as a former evangelical, I have mild interest. Evangelicalism, which seems to thrive on Independency and Congregationalism, leaves little room for any accountability. This cannot be said of other governing structures (i.e. Episcopalian or Presbyterian); c) the media backlash, then as an observer of culture and society I have a bit of interest.

        2. “Do you have an opinion about how well the Village Church is handling the scandal surrounding the Hinkleys?”
        Let me just say that as a father of five I know how unwieldy disagreements can get so that untying the Gordian knot of confusion is a Herculean effort. I won’t pretend to be Hercules. It’s no shock to find sin even in the church. At least no more shocking than finding sick people in a hospital. I need the greater than Hercules–that’s Jesus. And I’m reminded once again that he didn’t come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. We don’t need to feign perfection but we need to practice repentance–even if the world will hate it.

        Cheers!

    • I can’t fully process your rant, sir, but I think you’re very confused about the following issue:

      Americans do not live in a theocracy run by Christians or members of any other religious group. We also have a long history of believing in an individual’s right to leave a Church at any time for any reason.

      These so-called “Church covenants” are not legally binding as you seem to believe they are. in fact, most of them invite illegal or unethical activities, such as violating clergy confidentiality laws and engaging in cyber-stalking and other forms of criminal harassment.

      If someone wants to set aside a “Church Covenant,” they can still do that in the United States of America.

      I suspect will soon be seeing a series of lawsuits that helps clarify the separation of Church and State issue that you and others involved with this Church are confused about.

      • With my nose squinched, “What!!!” There is no church and state issue here. This is about viewing toddler gonads with lust and the wife getting the cold shoulder from the church when she was not involved.

    • “With my nose squinched, “What!!!” There is no church and state issue here. This is about viewing toddler gonads with lust and the wife getting the cold shoulder from the church when she was not involved.”

      My thoughts were not intended to address the totality of the issues discussed on this blog. Rather, they questioned the assumptions the original poster made regarding the validity and legality of “Church Covenants.”

      I’m sorry I didn’t make that clearer.

      • This blog post is very important, yet I think the Village Church’s primary motive in offering an apology is trying to stave off a much deserved lawsuit from Karen Hinkley and/or criminal charges pertaining to stalking, harassment, and other types of illegal behavior.

        Hopefully, this scandal will encourage people to consider completely avoiding Churches trying to impose ridiculous “Church Covenants” on people, as I think that the leaders of these Churches are unlikely to apologize for or amend their abusive behavior in lower-profile cases.

      • That’s no apology—and it is nowhere near true repentance. All they are doing is saying that Karen is a terrible sinner who betrayed their so-called covenant points and philosophies. Nonetheless, they are going to be merciful to the terrible sinner she is and no longer treat her like the pariah she deserves to be in their sight. This church is a piece of “living garbage” that needs to be flushed down a toilet before the rising smell reaches Heaven.

        What we need to see are some real and true sack cloth and ashes.

        “Heavenly Father. We are living pieces of shit. Much of our church covenant is a betrayal of the love, manner, and spirit Jesus Christ modeled in his walk on this Earth. Karen. We were totally and completely wrong in the way we treated you,and we will never treat you that way again, and we will instruct every member of the church that they too were wrong if they thought and acted as we did—and we will expel any staff member or church member who does treat you that way in the future Here is a gift of $300,000 as just compensation for the wrong we have done to you. Be at peace in our midst and feel assured that we feel at peace and love with you henceforth and forever.”

        That is real repentance—and I am not seeing a shred of it.

  24. John, you sir have no place to be making such accusations and judgments and neither does anyone else who thinks the kingdom of God is “…open [and] safe….” Where in all of Scripture do you find it to be as such?? That’s seeker-sensitive language if you ask me, which is exactly what The Village Church, Acts 29 and Matt Chandler are not because God calls His Church to “be not conformed to this world…” (Romans 12:2). Jesus, Himself, gave us instructions as to how church government aught to be carried out when He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Now first and foremost, what must be communicated clearly is that church membership is a covenant just like marriage is. The only difference between the two is that membership is a covenant between the individual member and the Body of Christ within the local church, including that church’s leadership. When we commit to a local church, our lives are given over to the communion of saints so that our walk with the Lord is helped and guided biblically. We need each other! Especially when it comes to marital relationships within the Church. The leadership of any Bible-believing congregation is responsible for making sure marriages are healthy by holding every couple accountable to their roles and responsibilities as husband and wife. There’s an investment necessary to be made and when it is made, the outcome glorifies God. With that being said, evidently Mr. Root and Mrs. Hinkley are members of The Village Church. The letter above written to the members of all campuses of The Village Church by the leadership, including Matt Chandler, is effectually and biblically appropriate. Sorry that they’re actually obeying Scripture. Mr. Root confessed and owned up to his sin, therefore he did not and will have to enter into formal church discipline. Mrs. Hinkley, on the other hand, has broken covenant with her husband without even trying to be reconciled and, circumspectly, has broken covenant with her church family by refusing to receive and help or counsel in order to be healed of her wounds. She broke covenant. And it is the local church’s responsibility to carry out its mandate from the Bible to therefore discipline the member, which they are faithfully obeying. Also, in church discipline, the member is shown MUCH love and grace and support in order that repentance is reached. The kind of love for one another that Christ said will prove that we are His disciples (see John 13:35). Church discipline is meant to be symbolic of washing one another’s feet because it reflects the affections that God has for His people and, therefore, affirms that it’s the goodness of God that leads a man or woman to repentance. If she continues to run and hide and doesn’t repent, she will eventually face excommunication, which is also biblical. They’re not being quick to do that, obviously.

    Now for you…I would STRONGLY recommend that you seek the counsel of Scripture before you pride yourself in making such a publicity stunt like you have already done. You, sir, are completely out of order and if you have not sought the counsel of spiritual authority, such as the elder board of your church or some other form of church government, there is no room for you to make any noise. Consider Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 4:10-16 when he says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, and are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless….We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things….I urge you, then, be imitators of me” (ESV). What makes us fools? The simple truth that we love Jesus by obeying His commandments. What are His commandments? To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Also, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature and to make disciples, teaching them everything He has commanded us. When we do that faithfully, Pastor John, we will be looked at as scum. Obeying Jesus is not gonna make us look pretty to the world, which makes me wonder why you’re treating Matt Chandler, The Village Church and Acts 29 as if they’re scum to you. Is it, perhaps, because you’re more interested in making people feel comfortable and open and safe in the kingdom of God? That you’d rather do whatever it takes to make sure people like you and are having their ears tickled by feel-good preaching, like what Joel Osteen does to his audiences?? If there’s anyone who needs to his kingdom brought low, it’s that false teacher and anyone else emulating his “theology”. I pray you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and you repent of your incredulous attitude towards the Word of God and those whom only the Holy Spirit can actually empower to obey (true believers).

    • Thanks for your reply. I would contend that much of your language here involving the “counsel of Scripture”, and “spiritual authority” and about Karen’s “covenant with her husband” as well as your clear minimizing of her pain, all illustrate exactly why situations like this are problematic and exactly how these leadership failures work. When you use the protection of the Bible and the extremely fuzzy/subjective concept of Church Discipline in situations such as these where the (almost always male) leaders are allowed to do whatever they please, it is ripe with the potential for women to be abused.

      Karen’s husband destroyed their covenant, not Karen. Your language and your attitude above are exactly why I’ve spoken into this situation, as they are symptomatic of a system that needs to be dismantled. It is part of a far bigger pattern in our church culture.

      Karen was married to her husband, not to Village Church, not to Matt Chandler, and certainly not to you. I would contend that you have far less right and authority to speak about her private relationship with her husband and her response to his failures as her husband, than I do as a pastor to respond to the public records of a church in dealing with a moral failure on staff.

      Again, one can love God and still point out failures in Christian leaders and the structures they have in place that are unhealthy. I’m doing both here.

      Thanks again.

      • And I would kindly and gently add that John is totally right in doing it. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to stay quiet and keep the mouths shut. I am not a good man, but John is. He is doing the right thing here.

    • “And it is the local church’s responsibility to carry out its mandate from the Bible to therefore discipline the member, which they are faithfully obeying.”

      First, let me point out that TVC is a non-profit Church open to the public. Therefore it must respect the criminal and civil legal justice systems of the United States of America. If TVC and its members don’t like that idea, perhaps it/they should move to a different country or start their own.

      Specifically, it’s a local non-profit Church’s moral and legal responsibility to report child sexual abuse to the police and other civil authorities.

      Based on what we’ve seen to date, it seems likely that TVC leaders and members think they’re above the law and have not/are not protecting children from known sexual predators because they think they have the right to adjudicate crimes against society in their own fashion.

      If so, that will lead to lawsuits and criminal charges that well eventually lead to the Church’s demise, whether TVC likes it or not.

      Thus I were you, I’d get off blogs and invest energy in making sure the kids in your Church are safe and the leaders of your organization are committed to abiding by the rule of law.

  25. Let me add one more thing here. While a covenant member of The Village, I can assure there were many things that my wife and I disagreed with the leadership on. In this matter, I believe they have mishandled parts of this whole thing. I think this is a struggle for megachurches everywhere. If communication in a small church breaks down easily, you can only imagine how much must break down in a megachurch. There is a lot to be learned by all from this situation, but to attack, slander and pre-judge them is not acceptable. I’m sure there are many that wish they could go back and change the way things were handled. I’m sure you have the same thoughts about things you have done wrong in ministry and leadership, too. SO maybe throw some grace their way and not assume they are a bunch of male chauvinists out to get women and protect men only. Maybe they actually do care. Maybe they actually want to love both of them well. Maybe they made mistakes that they will (and in some sense already have) own. Maybe they need Jesus now, too, and not accusations and darts thrown at them. Maybe they need prayer as much as Jordan and Karin. I say maybe, but the reality is not that they may need those things, they actually do. I hope you walk back your angry and vengeful post and replace it with a call to prayer and grace and wisdom for The Village, and a call to prayer and grace and transformation for Jordan and a call to prayer and grace and comfort and healing for Karin.

    • Funny. You and people like you never talk like that when people outside of your own camp are sinners caught red-handed. You are quick to jump on them with every sword and knife pulled and ready for action. The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals seem unable to take the heat when it is in their own kitchen. People are just doing unto you and The Village what you have done unto them. Suck it up and take your punishment like a man.

      • You have really been hurt by the church, huh? I’m sorry for whatever has happened in the past. Not all evangelicals are as you think they are. I know you can easily categorize me because that’s the great American way, but you do not know me, my heart, my intentions or anything. If you want to have a real dialogue and not just work off stereotypes, let me know.

  26. Yeah!!! You take that!!!

    I’m so tired of this garbage. I’m tired of morale failures in the church and I’m tired of reading these stupid blog posts. This blog feels like just another frat house throwing eggs.

    Go ahead and stir them up! Grace, love, forgiveness… that’s old time religion. Hate, revenge, and calling like it is… Now that’s religion I can get on board with!

  27. “…decent people are trying to figure out just why the heck Church leaders can’t seem to act like human beings”

    I don’t know all the details of the situation, other than what you’ve written and referenced. However, my point in responding is to say these “leaders” apparently ARE acting like human beings — the fallen kind that are acting just like their fallen nature compels them to act.
    – It’s not just the “frat boy” Christians that fall into this category — gender doesn’t matter.
    – It’s a sign of the times — “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 17-23, ESV)

    You are right to call these people out, but at the same time they must be called to repentance, to cast themselves on the mercies of God, and to pray for forgiveness. The people involved will not be un-hurt and the consequences will not be removed, but God, the God I understand and serve, will forgive.

    Last point. At the same time you have freedom to utilize this blog as a public flogging outlet, be cautious that you don’t ever become the subject of someone else’s blog pointing out your shortcomings, misjudgments, and flaws in a very public way. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:1-6, ESV)

    • Evaluating someone’s conduct is different than judging their moral condition. The former is quite necessary. It’s even healthy.

      “…be cautious that you don’t ever become the subject of someone else’s blog pointing out your shortcomings, misjudgments, and flaws in a very public way.”

      If you live with integrity, you never have to fear of being accountable for your life. If my public words or private acts are called into question by another, (as happens daily with a public ministry), I will answer to those things directly. To use possible future criticism as a reason not to speak into areas of need is silly. Otherwise, nothing unhealthy would ever be challenged.

      Thanks for easing and commenting.

  28. Anyone who comes across this comment please take a moment to stopped and prayed for all parties involved – the village church leadership and members, Karin, Jordan, the children being used for pornography, the providers of the pornography, the mission team, etc? Grace and Peace.

  29. These may not be original thoughts, but I’m slow, so bear with me. 😉 But this paragraph:

    “Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe it’s the system you’ve built and fortified that’s broken here? Maybe on a fundamental level it’s the way you do what you do that breeds this kind of dysfunction and sickness; which enables male ego to grow unchecked and unchallenged. That’s the slippery part of Complementarianism; it’s always in danger of either elevating and devaluing gender worth, rather than celebrating its diversity.”

    Yes, that! This is the “thing” about Complementarianism that has bugged me but I couldn’t put my finger on or name. This is why True Woman and Complementarianism and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) give me the willies. This is why I couldn’t never buy into it completely, no matter how many books I read or manifestos I signed. It feeds the fallen male’s tendency to dominate and control the woman, and allows the fallen female to continue in her exaggerated desire and craving for the male. It does not reverse the “curse” of the fall; it perpetuates it. What was it that God said? “Your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you.” That is a consequence of the fall, not a condition of creation. And we have now built up a theology that helps promote a major consequence of our fall into sin. WAY TO GO Y’ALL!!

    What we see here – and in every instance that has gone before and will come after – is the fruit of this theology. I may be off, but that is what I see – among other things.

  30. Hypocrisy alert. Notice how the fundies and conservative evangelicals here have been so quick to circle the wagons and attack John while they protect their embattled pedophile minister. You would think that John is the one craving toddler crotches. They relish the criticism of other Christians and their churches as apostate, but when the heat gets turned up on their own sin, they do not take responsibility for it. They try to externalize it as if it is someone else’s fault. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Be a man and women and fess up on behalf of your kiddie crotch craver. “Weezuns is a workin’ to obey the law of the Lord and sanctify ourselves by a scrubbin’ real hard on our seeyuns.”

    Get outa my sight!!!!

  31. Your words, “I can’t know those things, so I can’t assess your intentions. I can only tell you what I see”

    Yet you do what you say you can’t — assess his (Matt Chandler) intentions. Then you judge, decide punishment and glorify yourself. May your sins never be on display ( let he who is without sin cast the first stone — John 8 & yes I know the story is not in all ancient manuscripts).

  32. Here is what I think should happen:

    1) Ms. Hinkley should leave this Godforsaken church and find some spiritual high ground somewhere else. She can start here: https://faith17983.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/escape-from-the-abuse-at-your-church/.
    Even though this is not her fault, she will always be treated as an enemy of the church and an enemy of Jesus, and her life in the church will be miserable.

    2) The church leadership really has no other option but to expel Mr. Root. Forgiveness is fine. Do it. But no parent in that church will ever feel that their child is safe as long as he is there. If a poison snake bites you, you can forgive it and let it live. However, once you know that he is a biting snake, you have a responsibility to sequester the snake so he cannot bite anyone else. This is your responsibility of love for your church members. It will also keep the snake from getting a criminal record in the future. So, you are really doing both parties a favor.

    3) The church needs to evaluate itself. Churches that place themselves on a pedestal of self-righteous cleanliness are asking for trouble—and they usually get it sooner or later. Repent of your association with Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson. Apologize to God for even knowing their names, and go back to the Baptist church that Roger Williams created in the 1600s. In 1979, a once great American church was turned into a low-life monster that is as far away from Jesus Christ as the east is from the west. Repent and become something other than what you are. Jesus will thank you for it someday.

  33. This is flipping brilliant. I’m doing cartwheels. I cannot tell you how OVER I am with Male institutionalised patriarchy which has made my life unbearable at times. Bravo for speaking out. Lisa

  34. “It would be nice if we could all talk one on one, but unfortunately we don’t live in a Matthew 18 world any longer with everyone having extremely public ministries and less and less human interaction.”

    Just to clarify? Are you saying that chapter of the Bible isn’t applicable anymore? Doesn’t that go against everything we as Christians should believe.

  35. That would appear to be what several of John’s critics believe. Rather than speak to him privately about they clearly believe are his sins, they’ve chosen they blast him in the comments sections of his blog.

    Right? 😉

    • Some guy at a fundie church gets caught craving kiddie crotches in pictures or on video, and John is the sinner. Now, I gotta tell you. That is rich!!! I can refer you to a good clinical psychologist if you would like.

  36. @Michael:

    I can’t speak for John, yet many Biblical scholars, including some very conservative ones, have said that the Matthew 18 conflict resolution model was meant to used by Christians who had issues with other Christians within their own Church community.

    It does not apply to broad issues respecting big public ministries like the one Matt Chandler is running.

    There’s straight-up Biblical evidence backing up this perspective, as well. Paul had many concerns about the conduct of Churches he interacted with yet felt comfortable writing them letters in lieu of traveling to meet their leaders in person every time he wanted to rebuke them.

    As a practical matter, arguably the structure of mega-Churches precludes employing the Matthew 18 approach in a local Church.

    Matt Chandler appears to have about 6000 members in his Church. 1% of 6000 is 60. Thus if only 1% of his members want to spend 5 minutes on any given day talking to him about his sins, that would take up 5 hours of every one of his days.

    And right now I think more than 1% of Mr. Chandler’s members would love to personally chat with him.

    Thus, wouldn’t it be irresponsible of Matt Chandler to talk to John right now given that he can’t give face time to his own members?

    In other words, John and other bloggers are not the reason a literal interpretation of the Matthew 18 conflict resolution model can’t be used right now. Matt Chandler’s mega-Church model is.

    😉

    • Two points:

      1) This is just one of many reasons why I do not like meagerchurches. Also, I do not view them as really being churches. Each one is usually centered around a famous person in an almost “cult-like” manner. That person is the center of the church rather than Jesus—when it all plays out. The person is usually some kind of personal empire builder who made the mistake of initially following Jesus and then awoke one morning to realize that they were really meant to be CEO at General Motors. They then say, “Well, it is too late for that now, and I am already waist deep in this Jesus thing, so maybe I can build my business and financial empire here in this church. It might take some doing, but with my talent, I can probably pull it off.” Ultimately, the church physical plant and all the wealth and so-called “triumph” it exudes are little more than a wonder-of-the-world monument to the all-powerful Pharoah who was the centerpiece of the church while he was alive. Can you say Kim Il Sung?

      2) The fundies who are visiting here know doggone well that John’s blog is a danger to this monument called “the Village” because he is a sensitive and very competent writer with the ability to move both hearts and minds. He can see through spiritual bullshit like Superman with his X-ray vision, his writing has thousands of followers, and his articles get picked up and distributed worldwide by the major world news and information services. Speaking just for myself, I did not even know about the existence of this “The Village” in Texas, but I do now—and I do not like what I see happening there. I am thankful that John brought it to my attention—as I suspect many thousands of other people are. Maybe the adverse publicity will cause this obscene “monument” to take a closer look at itself and its own behavior—and quit being and acting stupid in the name of Jesus.

  37. John. Submitted with all kindness and respect, I think your bold font update on the apology and repentance at The Village Church was premature, although offered in a spirit of love and hope. I saw no repentance in that apology. I work in the federal government bureaucracy and know this sort of language very well from first-hand experience. Those of us who work there can smell it from several miles away, and our universal term for it is “Bureaucratic Bullshit.” After reading the apology in detail, I came away with the exact same understanding of it as the author of the following article, which I submit to you as my comment here because he articulated it much better than I would have done:

    http://matthewpaulturner.com/2015/05/29/so-can-we-discuss-that-apology-from-the-village-church-because-it-really-missed-the-point/

    The Village Church and its leaders need a good public ass-kicking—and if they cannot do any better than this—they need to disband their so-called “church.” That is honestly how I feel about it.

    • I agree, but I’m giving them a huge benefit of the doubt, trying to show them some Grace, and allowing them the chance to follow through on these words or be exposed as insincere and further manipulating the situation. If that happens, I will be clear and loud in response.

      • While I also question the sincerity of TVC’s apology, I think your statement is very fair, John.

        @Dover, I don’t see much of an apology either. To me, it seems the TVC leaders are primarily making excuses for themselves in lieu of accepting true responsibility for their less-than-wonderful actions.

        However, I agree with John in thinking that giving people the benefit of the doubt is important at times. If you give the impression that you’re going to criticize folks, no matter what they do, they’ll start to ignore you on the grounds that nothing seems to make you happy.

        In particular, I want to do everything possible to encourage TVC to review their Child Protection policies to ensure they comply with the law and prioritize the safety of children over any other consideration.

        Thanks!

  38. Pingback: 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 65): megachurch scandals and the best podcast ever | Simple Felicity

      • @callecyornelius:

        I looked at The Village Church’s podcast site and the most recent talk appears to have occurred on May 21, 2015, not this past weekend.

        The podcast is also released every two weeks so I’m not sure what your statement, “Be sure to listen to the village podcast from this weekend to hear Matt’s response. Not that I didn’t think you would as you do every week,” means.

        I doubt that any future podcasts will say much about this scandal because I suspect that Matt Chandler’s lawyers have advised him not to say anything substantive about Karen Hinckley given that the Church could face libel charges for what it’s already communicated. For example, the e-mail it sent out to all its members (although they seem to have taken Karen Hinckley off the membership mailing list, ironically) contained a lot of factual errors.

        Matt Chandler has also slandered Karen Hinckley generally, of course, within the context of holding her pedophile husband up as a paragon of virtue because he’s still letting The Village Church control his life.

        But I’m sure you knew all that.

        😉

        😉

      • Thank you jannalchan, it is appreciated. Sorry for the delay(I am new to this), each time I post a comment on here it sits for a while saying “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. It is frustrating, but good for my patients I suppose. I am thankful for your prayer, it is very much needed.

  39. Yes, sometimes I get frustrated when comments don’t appear right away, yet I know that the creator of this blog has much to do and moderating comments takes a long time when people are upset about something.

    I apologize for my grumpiness earlier. I do really hope that The Village Church takes this opportunity to review its child protection policies and be transparent about what that review reveals.

    Clearly, I sympathize with Karen Hinckley, yet my greatest concern respecting TVC is that it does not appear to have let members know her husband might be a danger to kids in the Church. Instead, his case was handled “internally.”

    In five years of advocating against child sexual abuse in Churches, I’ve found that approach is the proverbial recipe for disaster. Church leaders need to refer crimes to the police and other civil authorities in lieu of trying to handle them within the Church.

    Given TVC’s size, it may also need to consider assigning someone to accompany a person, on Church property, who may be perceived as a danger to children. That would serve the following two purposes:

    1) Protecting kids in an environment where there’s a lot going on so it’s hard to monitor them individually at times;

    2) Protecting someone who has confessed to being a pedophile from being the target of false accusations pertaining to harming a child.

    Thanks again for the kind words.

    • jannalchan, Yes I moderate comments so that I can ensure profanity and vicious, unrelated personal attacks don’t happen here. I want this to be a different comment section; one where all people can be heard and respected. Until I can find someone to perform this function, I need to do it, which does take considerable time given my other responsibilities. Thanks for your patience!

      • Thanks, John. Please know that my comment about moderating comments was not intended to be critical of you in any way.

        I know where you’re coming from because I’ve had to shut-down the comments sections on sites (I work in web marketing) because I couldn’t invest energy and time dealing with vicious personal attacks and weeding out marketing messages.

        The comment section of your blog is unusual in that it feels like a safe place to express thoughts. Kudos for creating it!

  40. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I, too, am tired. Tired of hearing the same stories over and over and tired of picking up the fragments of single mamas who have been badly broken by their churches. But, I will keep doing it — our entire team will — until there is some sort of reformation. Your article is so very affirming and brings relief to my heart.

  41. Pingback: How should a church respond when a professing Christian has been committing heinous sexual immorality? | A Cry For Justice

  42. Thank you! Yes, Jesus harshest words were towards the money changers in the temple and the religious leaders…’Frat boy Christianity’ – insightful phrase.

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