Practicing Discernment: Restoration Church in Northwest Washington, D.C.

This is a discernment exercise for people who read this blog. Your homework assignment is to study Restoration Church’s website and analyze it. Would you go to this church? Or would you stay away? Please discuss below.


“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.”

Casey Stengel

“I can’t afford to be a member of a golf course.”

Jack Abramoff

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true

Acts 17:11 NIV

I do want to encourage people to think for themselves, ask questions and learn how to practice discernment. At this blog I have written two posts about looking for a church and membership covenant issues. I would encourage you to read those as you analyze Restoration Church in northwest Washington, D.C. This church I believe is non-denominational but I will let you decide.  Restoration Church is led by Joey Craft. There are a couple of reasons why I like to do this exercise. One is that as this blog grows more people get involved and it challenges and gets them to think. Second a post is created that will tag the church name and be a resource for people considering this church. There is a lot of bad stuff out there on all sides of the theological spectrum. This allows those of us who are Bereans to shine and ask questions.

Here is your homework. Analyze this website and look at this church. Would you attend here? What red flags or aspects do you find encouraging about  Restoration  Church? Would you recommend this to a family member? Or a friend? Would you invite someone to attend this church? After a few days I will start to weigh in on the comments below. Thanks guys and know that I love you! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Practicing Discernment: Restoration Church in Northwest Washington, D.C.

  1. Aw, heck no. If you’re a Berean, you’ll notice the apostles didn’t have people signing church covenants. Als, the idea that they’re going to check up with your old church? Suppose you were coming out of a bad, oppressive situation? These guys would make it worse!

    While the church does have two female deacons, I noticed there’s only five elders and two of them are also church pastors. But then you look closer and the other three elders are also described as pastors on their profiles. This seems to concentrate the power too much. And elder Chris A has on his profile that he came from the UK to do an internship with CHBC.

    Need I say more? RUN AWAY! -King Arthur in Monty Python.

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  2. OK, I took a look, imagining that I was still back in my Presbyterian days, to see if I would have been interested at the time. At first glance, it’s pretty generically non-denominational, talking about seeking and community and such. On the surface, the kind of thing I might have liked.

    A couple things I didn’t like as I looked further. The church doesn’t have its own building, it uses space in a school. I don’t like the mixture of church and government like that, and didn’t even back when I was a believer. And it limits the number of activities that they can have, since they have only limited access to the space. And as I look over their website, I see no mention of community service activities, except for sponsoring gospel work in Haiti. (And I disapprove of that, helping those in need shouldn’t come with preachy strings attached. The Haitians need clean water and food, and building repairs right now, not more bibles.)

    On their “questions” page I found this: “Whether you are a convinced atheist or inquisitive seeker, you probably have questions. There’s also a pretty good chance that you’ve asked your question only to be blown off or dismissed. Well, we want to help answer your questions.”

    Finally I found what their beliefs are. On their beliefs page, they list biblical infallibility, full-dunk baptism, eternal torment for the unsaved – they may not be officially affiliated with the Baptists, but this sounds like full-on evangelical Baptist beliefs. They want to help answer your questions, but only with their strict fundamentalist answers. If I were actually an “inquisitive seeker” and went there, I’d feel like it was bait-and switch.

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  3. I understand Ubi’s take on the lack of owning a building, depending on what you are looking for that can be an issue. I however can see some merits in the freedom from the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a building. It could signify a group of people less corporate minded where much goes on outside the walls and they only come together as a large group for a weekly celebration.

    Their “Resources/Library” page displays their theology, definitely in the Calvinist camp. I’m not Calvinist but know many a fine Christian who claim that doctrine. My issue is their chosen proponents, aligning with 9Marks and The Gospel Coalition is not healthy. At the top of the “Library” page was “Humility:…” by (C.J. Mahaney). Humility? Maybe they can find out if Benedict Arnold wrote on loyalty or Bernie Madoff about honesty.

    The leadership/Staff page has photos of their elders, if they are elder, then my age is off the scale. They need a lot more life experience. Also there are only five elders and two of them are staff, pastors specifically. This puts all the power into the hands of the pastor, there is little to no chance for accountability, it smacks of an authoritarian structure.

    The “Membership” page totally sinks them from recommendation, they use a signed “Membership Covenant”. Within the covenant is the “submit ourselves to the elders … which is for our good.” RUN. In Hebrews the word “submit” does not mean what they think it means, specifically, allow yourself to be persuaded by, not they are in charge of you. Also their statement “when we move from this place, as soon as possible, unite with some other church” has a troubling history of harassment should you choose to leave. Lest someone reading here for the first time think these are harmless, please go back into Eagle’s archives and see how authoritarian churches have abused people using these “covenants” and using “submit to the elders” as the hammer.

    I am in complete agreement with mirele above, their statement “if you come to our church from a healthy church in the area, we want to know why and have an opportunity to discuss this with you and with someone in leadership at your former church” This makes my skin crawl. They will be the judge of what is a healthy church and they will call the other “leaders” to get the lowdown on you. Are you kidding me? Please step back, don’t let yourself be sucked in.


  4. Love this exercise. It’s what I generally do. But, instead of immediately going to the Resources page I played the game and methodically perused the site. As usual, the Resources page is the place to find the “baddies”…. Mahaney, Denver, Piper, Gospel Coalition, 9Marks!!!!!! Bullseye!

    Would someone please tell me what ” other moral creatures” means? Other than humans, if they are angelic or demonic why can’t they just say so?

    Now, I need to shower off the junk……

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  5. I took a quick look. On the surface the church looks pretty good. I read though a few pages and didn’t see much problems.

    Then I went the the “our story” page and see “Tim Keller” mentioned. Then right after I read “What is a healthy church?”. Red flags starts going up in my head.

    I proceed to look for pages like “membership” and “covenant” to see if my red flags are correct. After reading into so many abuse cases, I sort of know what to look for.

    And I found their “membership” page. Yup it is like that. The first sentence on the page is “Membership in a local church is one of life’s most important decisions.” I was dumbfounded. It didn’t say life’s most important decision is “Accepting Jesus into your heart” or “Love your wife just as much as Christ loved the church” or “Forgiving your worst enemy to set yourself free”. All of the above requires days or months of praying, self debating and even sweating.

    I have never imagined joining a church membership will require days or months of praying, self debating and even sweating. It is “perhaps” a warning to warn me about what is to come.

    Now I wouldn’t have any problem if they just said “Membership in a local church is an loving covenant where the church members promise to love you and you promise to love the church members. This isn’t an obligation but instead is out of love.”

    Then I read that “we want to discuss your personal faith story….. with someone in leadership at your former church.” This is beyond a red flag, but an auto no-no-no-no from me.

    Let’s say you left your old church for very legitimate reasons. So what this new church will do is to call up your old pastor and hear what he has to say. So before you know it, it will be your words against your old pastor’s.

    Firstly do you even want to fight and relive your pains from the past?

    Secondly, even worst, perhaps you never told your old pastor exactly why you left. You have very legitimate reasons to leave but you didn’t want to fight. In fact you want to maintain the “friendships” you had with your old church. Now this new pastor of your new church is going to call your old pastor and tell him everything that you told him. So this new pastor is going to break all your “friendships” you had with your old church.

    All these before you even become a member of this new church.

    Of course the likes of CJ Mahaney is immune to such treatment. I doubt Mark Dever called SGM to ask them about CJ Mahaney and why he is leaving.

    The covenant is in a link on the same page. And it is very disturbing. They keep paraphrasing the bible to say what they want it to say. They linked some quotes from the bible but if you actually read the messages, they do not (I repeat, they do not) say what they wrote on the covenant.

    For example Hebrews 13 was just saying that members shouldn’t make life hard for the elders. Of course we agree to that. And if the elder said something that is clearly (I repeat, clearly 100% clearly) biblical, of course we should obey. However it say nothing about obeying elders in absolutely everything. That members must agree with how the elders interpreted the bible.

    So if the elders say you cannot drink any wine, and you complain that the bible (from God himself) didn’t directly say that, you are being disobedient to the elders. But you weren’t disobedient to God. Yet in this church they can discipline and excommunicate you.

    Another example is donations. Now all Christian should donate to their church and toward other international ministries. However when this is in a legal document, the question is how much? What if the pastor suddenly demands 50% of your income? You might think this is crazy. But if you read this covenant, which is a legal contract, it say nothing about what limits are in place. The pastors and elders can demand any amount. And you sign your name and said you will always “contribute cheerfully and regularly”.

    If you talk to the elders, they will tell you that they love you and that you need to trust them. That they won’t abuse this legal document this way. But since when is your faith based on men to behave good? Men are evil. It is Jesus that is good.

    And of course the whole agreement is about what members have to do FOR the church and the church leadership. And what the church leadership CAN do onto the members. It say nothing about what the church leadership has to do FOR the members. Nor what the members CAN do onto the church leadership if things go south.

    So with the above I won’t suggest anyone to join this church. It is too dangerous.

    The SADDEST thing is I honestly know nothing about this church. It might very well be filled with very loving and honest people. It might have a leadership team that is very loving and won’t abuse anyone. However the SYSTEM they use is dangerous. And just by the system I cannot recommend anyone to join this church. Now they are free to sit in, if the sermons are good here. But please never ever sign that membership covenant legal document.

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    • Excellent points, CHIPS. The system is clearly abusive here. Whether it is used that way will depend upon the people and the circumstances. All we can know is that it will be used abusively at some point.

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