We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Apostate Mega-Church

Yesterday I read news about a married pastor of a mega-church in a Arizona, who resigned after it was discovered he has been involved in affairs with multiple women.  The news article didn’t specify if the women were members of his church (which has a regular average attendance of over 6000).

Now, I got curious about what this pastor’s church looked like, so I “Googled” the place and skimmed through the various pages in the church’s site.  I felt that a good place to start was to look at the staff and their qualifications, etc.

Aside from the normal staff pastors one would expect to find for a church, I found they have the following “pastors”:

Lead Pastor.  This is the one who resigned, and so now they have an “Interim Lead Pastor.

Executive Pastor of Expansion.  Say what?  His degree is a B.S. in “Justice Studies.”  I’m afraid to ask.

Executive Pastor of Weekend Experience.  And this one is a woman.  She has a degree in “Communications Studies” and attended a “School of Worship.”  I wonder how one “pastors” a “weekend experience”?

Executive Pastor of Operations.  With an MBA.

Mercy Ministries Pastor.

Care Pastor

Spiritual Formation Pastor.  This one is a woman.  She’s currently reading Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer, among others.

Pastor of Spiritual Formation.  This one is a man.  I don’t understand what the difference is between a “Spiritual Formation Pastor” and a “Pastor of Spiritual Formation.”

Missional Community Pastor

Children’s Ministries Pastor.  This one is a woman.

Connections Pastor.

Other staff members include (not including numerous administrative assistants):

Teaching Team.  Two men, both founding pastors of other churches, and both live in other states.  So how are they a “teaching team” at this church?

Director of Local Justice Ministries A young woman who, in addition to going to a state university, also attended the “United States Sports Academy.”  The books she was currently reading tell me a lot about her:  Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning and One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  I wonder what her job consists of?

Local Justice Coordinator.

Recovery Director

Funeral Coordinator

Director of Marriage Ministries

Marriage Coordinator

Each part of the children’s ministry has a “Lead” person:
Children’s Resource Ministry
Childcare Ministry
Nursery Ministry
Preschool Ministry
K-3rd Ministry
Large Group Ministry
Special Needs Ministry (TWO “Leads”)
Nursery/Toddler Coordinator (Sat.)
Nursery/Toddler Coordinator (Sun.)
Preschool Coordinator (Sat.)
Preschool Coordinator (Sun.)
K-3rd Coordinator (Sat.)
K-3rd Coordinator (Sun.)
Large Group Coordinator (Sun.)

Then we have the team for “Students”, including two more “pastors”:
FOUR56 Director.  I’m guessing that means 4th-6th grades.
Junior High Pastor.  His degree is in Sociology  
High School & College Pastor. Oh boy, a Fuller Theological Seminary grad.
High School Director.  

The there’s the “Communications” section:
Director of Communications.
Graphic Designer & Animator
Graphic Designer
Communications Coordinator

The “Connections” team, aside from the “Connections Pastor,” has the following staff:
Connections Coordinator
Guest Services Coordinator
Connections Caller

And let’s not forget their “Worship” section:
Creative Director.  Look at what he’s currently reading:  The Ender series, Henri Nouwen and Karl Barth.
Youth Worship Director.  Lots of tattoos, which seems to be the norm for church leadership and staff positions nowadays.
Music Director One of his current reading books is Rob Bell’s Love Wins.
Worship Director.  
Youth Worship Coordinator.

With all the pomp and circumstance of this mega-church, they also need a “Production” team.
Production Director

Tech Arts Director
Audio Tech Director

And of course they have a Finance section, Facilities section, and a “Board of Servant Leaders.”

This mega-church has a staff larger than probably most corporations!  And certainly larger than the congregation of many churches.  This “church” has more programs than you can shake a stick at!

You can probably imagine what their “Worship Culture” is like - very entertaining, and they call it a “worship experience.”  And they have ore programs than you can shake a stick at!  

They have a book store, so I thought that would tell me a lot about them, but they don’t show you what they have.  However, the photograph of some shelves shows only one book clearly:  Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster.  

Running such an organization obviously takes money, and their statement shows a weekly need of $162,000, with the current weekly giving of $191,105.  WOW!  Maybe if they had fewer staff members they would have a smaller budget!  But, hey, they allow you to use your credit cards for giving your “tithes and offerings.”  (I wish Christians would quit using that word, “tithes.”  - We DON’T HAVE TITHES!!)

Well, let’s sum up what I see here.  It is apparent that the philosophy of the market-driven mentality is standard with this “church.” They violate Scripture by appointing women “pastors.”  They are very much involved in the apostate “spiritual formation” theology, appear to have a “social gospel” focus, lacking of discernment apparent by the reading material admitted to by staff members, and worship services which look to be more like productions of entertainment.

I did not waste time listening to any sermons.  With what I see of their operation, I would be surprised if they had consistently good messages, and with what I see of their site I wouldn’t attend if they DID have good messages - after all, how solid can your teaching be when support the whole mysticism of “spiritual formation.”

With their apparent love affair with the ways of the world, is it any wonder that their lead pastor had affairs with women?


Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

My first thought as I was reading down the list of their staff, "wow, they have more people in the ranks than most corporations do".

Then you said, "This mega-church has a staff larger than probably most corporations!"


And I'm with you - I detest hearing the word tithe. New Covenant, folks, New Covenant. No tithe for the church. Oh, and we can't rob God (per the oft misused Malachi verse), either.

I too doubt that church in AZ is solid. Sounds like a market-driven circus.


John said...

Great research. Thank you. Very contemplative place, it seems.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, it really wasn't much "research" - it was just reading what is on their site! Anyone want to volunteer to listen to a sermon?

Louise said...

Glenn, I'd like to hear what they have to say.

Thanks for all your research,
Louise Moore

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Louise,

Well, if you listen to one, I'd appreciate a report :)

Jack Morrow said...

Such is the direction of evangelicalism. I think the secular equivalent of "pastor of weekend experience" might be "producer" or "director," or perhaps "stage manager." sucNewq

Joe said...

What passes for a church in today's society amazes me. While I am a great believer in organization, the organization must serve the cause of Christ, not the other way around.

And I am gratified that I am not the only proponent of the New Covenant.

When is Jesus ever going to be sufficient in and of Himself?

Mary said...

There are times when I sit back wonder "If Jesus were to visit churches such as these in our time, would we appreciate the love the message He would give, or would we become so angry and hateful that we would crucify Him all over again."

I have attended churches such as these and have left the building feeling so empty.

And yes, you are correct, the lie of the New Covenant tithe should be understood in its proper context.

May God be with you all.

Louise said...

Hi Glenn, I will listen but I don't know who/where this church is.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Louise,

My goof - I forgot to install the link. I'll do that now, but here it is for you:

Doug Evans said...

All these pastors! And when each one was asked what they are reading right now, only two said "The Bible"

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Yes, I also thought that was pretty telling.

Louise said...

Glenn, I tried to listen to one 'sermon' but so help me, the man lost me in all his worldly teaching. And to call this a 'church' ... well, I would have my doubts about that. They have more staff than our local city government.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Wow! Thank you so much for your time and that report. About what I expected.