Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland and an Email from Jeff Estes

Jeff Estes from Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland warrants a quick post. Calling someone unintelligent and uninformed is pretty low. The previous night I wrote an overview of Acts 29 and highlighted how Mark Driscoll’s DNA is still present. Jeff Estes proves that in his terse comment to me how the problems in Acts 29 still remain.

“To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well mannered.”


“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me…All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

Jackie Robinson

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Writing this blog has been a lot of work. Its been a lot of research, along with time and effort. There are many times where I crawl into bed late having worked on a post exhausted and ready for sleep. Keep in mind I do this blog while working. But would I trade anything? Am I complaining about the effort? No…because the truth is that I enjoy it. I view all the people I work with and have gotten to know as a blessing. They can, and often are all over the spectrum. Let me illustrate…

I’ve exchanged emails with those who are in the midst of a faith crisis. We discuss and talk about differing perspectives and different ways to view faith. Recently I discussed theology with a professor at a seminary which I enjoyed. In the past couple of weeks I have had several discussions or email exchanges with pastors. I spent nearly four hours on the phone with one and hung up at 1:30. My blog which also writes about the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) has attracted interest from some inside the EFCA. On the flip side I also write about atheism and secularism. I attended the Reason Rally and wrote about it. I love and respect the atheist community as I like their thinking. Some of the people who attended that atheist event are finding this blog and emailing me. I had one recent exchange with someone who encouraged me to attend the Center for Inquiry’s Women in Secularism conference in Arlington, Virginia. I write all this to point to the fact that I have a lot of interactions all across the board. 98% of the emails I get are cordial, kind and respectful.

Then there is Jeff Estes who is the Director of Worship and Arts at Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland. This is an Acts 29 church which will tell you the trajectory of this post.


An Email Exchange

Whenever I write a post to the best of my ability I try to get it into other people’s hand to give them the opportunity to respond. For example when I write an article from Desiring God or The Gospel Coalition I have tweeted, or emailed the post back to the author. Why do I do this?

  1. I believe its common curtsey to let someone know they were written about.
  2. I believe it shows respect for the person in acknowledging them.
  3. I want to give them an opportunity to respond. Its only fair. If I give criticism I need to be able to take it. The goal of this blog is not to do a drive by blogging, the equivalent to a drive by shooting.
  4. I believe we need to have opportunities to discuss and view things from differing perspectives. We don’t grow nor do we do well when all we do is withdraw into out tribe and listen to like minded people. That’s why I’ve told people like Jordan Kauflin (Redeemer Arlington) in the past if he wants to ever grab a beer I am fine with it. Its why I’m getting together with non theists because I like to hear things from their perspective.

Last night I did a post about Acts 29 called “Wanted: Stories about Acts 29 Corruption, Inappropriate Church Discipline, Membership Covenant Issues, Church Implosions and Polity Problems in the Denomination.” I did the same kind of post with the Evangelical Free and its how I brought me the story of Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania.  Today I sent the following email to all the Acts 29 churches in the Washington, D.C. area.

Good afternoon Acts 29:

I wanted to draw attention to a post I wrote that is an overview of the Acts 29 network and a review of the Acts 29 churches in the Washington, D.C. area/corridor.

I am particularly interested in the following:

  1. Polity problems
  2. Connections to Mark Driscoll in the denomination
  3. Membership covenant issues
  4. Un-ethical church discipline
  5. Abuse of power
  6. Child sex abuse issues
  7. Acts 29 plating with the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA)
  8. Issues in The Village Church
  9. Acts 29 implosions
  10. Acts 29 connections or penetration of Cru/Navigators

This blog grew out of an event with Redeemer Arlington, and its my goal to make sure that no one gets hurt.

Having explained all that I wish you a good day,

Very Respectfully,

David Bonner

This was the terse response that Jeff Estes sent in return:

Please don’t send me junk like this. It is the most unintelligent, uninformed & UnChristlike “article” I’ve ever read.


The Dude Bro Culture and Atheists Acting More Christ Like than Christians

For a day I wish you could step in my shoes and read the emails I get and hear what I wake up to at times. Sometimes its heart breaking and other times its surprising. I received several emails over the past few days by a couple of atheists, and a secularist. Those emails had more grace, love, and kindness in them than what Jeff Estes sent. The saddest thing is that in the context of things back to back it is interesting to see someone outside the Christian faith have more love than the Acts 29 pastor. I have to say…over the course of time some of the rudest emails I have gotten have been from Acts 29 pastors. The dude bro culture of “I can beat you up” and “I’m a man” is both pathetic and sorry. Here is the truth of the manner if you have to scream out loud about authority then the truth is you don’t have any. If that terse response to insult someone is going to be the way forward then that speaks volumes about the health of Redemption City Church. According to Redemptions’  website the advisory team of this church is Chris Atwell from Portico Church in Charlottesville, Jason Conner from Portico Church Arlington and Joe Holland from Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church. If this is the company that is kept by Joe Holland, Chris Atwell, and Jason Conner then this speaks volumes. After all birds of a feather flock together.

As I contemplated this I also wondered the role Jeff Estes has in Redemption. Plus where does the Senior Pastor Bliss Spillar stand? Is Jeff Estes,  Bliss’s hatchet man? Someone who goes around and does his dirty work? It also begs the question what goes on in Redemption City Church? Do people cage fight? Do they brag about the hair on their chest? Of does someone like Jeff Estes give an expository talk at times proclaiming how they can beat you up while jumping up and down?

Its profoundly sad that there is a deficit of niceness, kindness, warmth and love today. I wrote last night about how the DNA of Mark Driscoll is still a major problem in the Acts 29 network. What is that DNA? Condemning, lording, hammering, controlling, being terse, and insulting people. Calling someone the most unintelligent and uninformed is less than kind. In the case of Jeff Estes I think he has a lot of growing to do. And I think he has a long way to come. When people outside the Christian faith can be warmer, loving and kinder than an Acts 29 pastor you know that something is seriously wrong. As such the response by this church warrants a quick post, and I decided to do a public service for the community of Frederick, Maryland. This will tag the church’s website and when people are looking for a church home they can find this post and decide to stay away. You know the most satisfying responses I get in this blog is when someone will contact me and say that they thought about attending  (X) church and they found my post and read it and decided to stay away. So hopefully this will result in that happening as well. I look forward to getting an email in the future from someone in the Frederick area who told me they decided to stay away from Redemption City Church and thanking me for this quick post.

So Jeff you can return to your MMA, and the boasting of conquering a female for the glory of God! As for me I would rather hang out with a skeptic, share some food and build a friendship that has more purpose than withdraw into a shell. I won’t email you again instead I will let you discover yourself being written about on the internet.

17 thoughts on “Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland and an Email from Jeff Estes

    • LOL…I thought the same thing when I learned. There are too many Estes at this blog. I wondered if Jeff is a long, lost distant cousin of Steve Estes. If Redemption City Church does any questionable church discipline I will be more than happy to write about them. Actually if there are any stories or situations at this church I would be happy to give those people the platform and intervene on their behalf.


    • Jeff Estes behavior Bill is pretty telling. Respect is earned not given. But for that to be his first response tells me this is far from a healthy church. Its toxic to its core. I am convinced there are stories in Acts 29 churches like Redemption City Church and this blog is going to find them and tell them in the course of time. Some of the nastiest emails I get are from people in Christian ministry. Go figure.. But the emails I have received from Acts 29 staff from across the country has been telling in itself.


  1. Here is the other thing that I have wondered about which I think could be a fascinating case study by a psychologist or someone who understands mental health issues. But does Acts 29 and authoritarian churches attract mentally ill people or those with personality disorders? Is that how people drunk on authority like Jeff Estes, Mark Driscoll, Steve Hardin (The Village Church Dallas) etc… get involved? I would love for someone to explore that topic.


    • What fascinates (concerns) me far more is the number of people who follow those types. I would be much more interested in figuring that out. I know that part of it is the desire of some to be part of something “big”, or bigger than them, or to be part of a “winner” or on the “winning team”. There will always be the “front-runners”, so to speak, those who follow the crowd, the lemmings.

      But there’s something inherently wrong & downright weird about cult-like followers that I just don’t understand, and probably never will.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. it’s all a sham. they know it, that’s why they lash out in anger, aggression and almost Satanic attacks when you come close to really identifying the issues. they are trying to shut you down so they, and more importantly their followers, don’t have to hear what you have to say.
    christianity as a whole is a sham. there is no Holy Spirit to control them or anyone else’s responses. i am a Recovering Know It All partly because the treatment i received for asking quetions and challenging foundations, pushed me further away from official answers and toward asking the questions that undermined the whole foundations of my faith.
    don’t stop with just rooting out the evil and inconsistencies in modern, western christianity. go deeper to ask the real questions. “Stay thirsty”

    Liked by 1 person

    • KIA I appreciate your comment and wisdom. I am grateful that there are atheists like yourself who speak your mind and are vocal. My advice to you is please keep doing that. It is needed and necessary. You showed much more engagement in how you responded than the Acts 29 pastor.


  3. Eagle,

    The two statements you get the most correct here are:
    “if you have to scream out loud about authority then the truth is you don’t have any.”

    And given that Mr. Estes wrote: “Please don’t send me junk like this.”, your response, “I won’t email you again instead I will let you discover yourself being written about on the internet.”

    is precisely the correct response to this.

    You’re both respecting his wishes, and letting him fend for himself.
    It’s a shame he couldn’t or wouldn’t engage in an intelligent & informed conversation. He could have “educated” you & by extension, the many who read your blog or come across it.

    There are two places (one merely a typo) where you may have gone off:
    “Calling someone unintelligent and informed is pretty low.”
    Oh dear, you clearly mean UNinformed! 😉

    Also, I think that postulating in this way isn’t helpful: “Plus where does the Senior Pastor Bliss Spillar stand? Is Jeff Estes, Bliss’s hatchet man? Someone who goes around and does his dirty work? It also begs the question what goes on in Redemption City Church? Do people cage fight? Do they brag about the hair on their chest? Of does someone like Jeff Estes give an expository talk at times proclaiming how they can beat you up while jumping up and down?”

    I understand why you would think & ask such things, but you do far better when you report & stick to facts. These kinds of questions can come off as accusations. If you have proof, bring it. Otherwise… well… perhaps it isn’t the most “Christlike” way to handle it, though Jesus certainly spent a lot of time responding to people with questions. 😉

    I greatly respect that you take the time to email people that you write about. I imagine that you’re probably the exception in that regard, though I could be wrong. It shows that you’re willing & eager to engage & fix things, and attempt to work on solutions, rather than merely point out problems, and it also is fair to those you write about.

    In this case, Mr. Estes has willfully abdicated his right to receive such missives from you in the future. His loss.

    Go well, sir!


    • Ejj thanks for the comment. When I talk about Bliss and the MMA dude bro culture I am referring to the legacy of Mark Driscoll. Some of this is how this crowd operates, there is this ill-defined obsession about what being a man is. A man is loving, kind, cares for those who are vulnerable. In this crowd there is more of a concern about someone’s genitals, which is how they define man. Many Acts 29 are driven and controlled by authoritative and controlling personalities. I recently had someone told me that they were in an Acts 29 church and they were done with membership. A guy in his mid thirties with 2 kids in another part of the country. In this case we’re talking about cultural issues. BTW..thanks for the correction, I appreciate it! 🙂


  4. Honestly, this response is a symptom of the kind of bullyculture that uses ad homs (you’re stupid) to deflect criticism of ideas, rather than engaging with the ideas by discussing them honestly and disagreeing based on facts.

    It’s authoritarian and antithetical to “those who oppose [the truth] he must gently instruct”, which is the Biblical command to pastors facing pushback.

    The lack of gentleness in evangelicalism, online and off, is a serious character and sin issue. A courteous response costs nothing, and might lead to unity in diversity, but narcissistic leadership thinks that strong leadership means curtness is preferable to humility. In the words of the narc many evangelicals are apparently voting for: Sad!

    Any time any Christian prefers to belittle another human being to win or be right, instead of loving, they are rejecting Christ’s example in Phillippians 2.

    Should this pastor read this, my hope is he will not seek to justify himself, but rather deal wth the relational aspect first, THEN respectfully address the ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: A Tutorial Using an Email from Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania | Wondering Eagle

  6. Pingback: Acts 29 Bill Riedel’s Redemption Hill in Washington, D.C.; How Healthy is It? | Wondering Eagle

Comments are closed.