Del Rey Church in the Los Angeles, California area tells people they don’t want members unless they are serious. This post looks at this 9 Marks church in the Evangelical Free Church of America. Plus I also bring in a recent Tim Challies article about members causing problems. This post looks at how Neo-Calvinists look at members as the issue when they ignore the likes of Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney and others.
“If the problems you have this year are the same problems you had last year, then you are not a leader. You are rather a problem on your own that must be solved.”
“We reject Arminian theology, which allows no room for God’s sovereignty.”
What Del Rey Church is opposed to
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Playa del Rey is a part of the city of Los Angeles. It is a beachside community on the west side of the city and has a population of 12,129. The area is known for its sand dunes and in the 1920’s it was advertised as the last coastal area of Los Angeles to be developed. Part of the community were affected by the use of eminent domain when the city of Los Angeles was expanding Los Angeles International Airport in the 1970’s. Throughout its history Playa del Rey many famous Hollywood actors and legends such as Cecile B DeMille and Charles Bickford had beach front homes here.
Del Rey Church of the Evangelical Free Church of America
The roots of Del Rey Church go back to 1958 when about 100 Christians met from Los Angeles Evangelical Free Church to discuss doing a church plant. They decided to eventually do one in Playa del Rey, California as many people were migrating from the downtown area of Los Angeles to the suburbs and new neighborhoods. This was the era when people began to move more toward the suburbs in American history, this of course was made possible by the expansion of the highway system and the use of the automobile. The people in this meeting eventually purchased a plot of land, built a church and had their first worship service on August 30, 1959. During the 1960’s and 1970’s the church grew. In 2010 the church went from one worship service to two.
Today this church is led by Dr. Matt Jones who has led Del Rey Church for 15 years. He probably came on board in the 2000 to 2002 timeframe. When you look at this church’s theology you can see that at one point it was theologically hijacked into the Neo-Calvinism camp. I would be fascinated to know how many people left, and if there are any stories about this church I would love to write about it, especially as The Wondering Eagle writes about the Evangelical Free Church of America. Matt completed his bachelors degree in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible in Chicago. He later completed masters degree in Apologetics at Biola University, and a second master degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. And finally he completed his doctorate at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola as well. Matt is all about “sound doctrine” and later in this post we will have the opportunity to explore that as well. When it comes to personal information Matt is married to his wife Erika and they have four children Micah, Elijah, Talitha, and Havilah.
Del Rey Church is also affiliated with The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks. To learn more about 9 Marks I would recommend reading, “9 Marks: What is it? How Mark Dever Undermined it and Made it Worthless.” Plus you can read their theological distinctives and what they are opposed to as well. What stood out for me in studying this church is that the boast in how they reject Arminian theology. I honestly wonder if this church believes Armenians are Christians. For the record I am neither and more in the middle, but I have written why I reject reformed theology, and do so because it makes the problem of evil worse. To read more I would direct you to “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Makes the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut.” When I was working through EFCA West and calculating the growth of Neo-Calvinism/Reformed theology I immediately put Del Rey Church into the Neo-Calvinist camp. But when I was studying the website I came across this page called, “Reasons Not to Come to Del Rey.” It is based on an older Acts 29 article that was written in 2011. Remember the DNA of Mark Driscoll still is a problem in the Acts 29 network. Yes this is the same Mark Driscoll who taught that women are penis homes and that a repentant women gets down on her knees and performs oral sex on her husband. In the language of the Neo-Calvinist movement I guess we could call this the “Gospel Centered Blow Job” since it came from Mark Driscoll. But let’s analyze this article on the Del Rey Church website. I am going to write and comment below in red in response to this Del Rey Church article.
(Adapted from Justin Buzzard, “Top 10 Reasons Not to Join a Church Plant,” Acts 29 Network, March 2011)
Del Rey Church is really a home for anyone. However, not everyone who comes or attends will decide to make it home. In order to be upfront and offer a realistic picture of the challenges of belonging in a community, and so you are aware of some of the wrong reasons why people join a church, we offer this list to challenge folks to take an honest assessment of their own expectations and motives in considering joining our church.
When a church has the above disclaimer as an introduction you should know its time to run. Its time to flee. This is a warning as to how toxic this place is as a church.
Don’t join Del Rey Church if:
1. You’re looking for the next cool thing in town. (We want to grow by conversion growth, not church-goer transfer growth.)
I don’t think anyone goes to a church because they are looking for something cool. When I have looked for a church I have looked for a place that is stable, loving, kind, and healthy. If a place is boasting as to how healthy they are then that is a warning. A healthy church, much like a healthy person, marriage, or company do not boast as to how healthy they are as an organization. They live it out and it becomes clear.
2. You’re a Christian and you don’t like your current church. (You will find reasons to not like this church. Of course, some churches are whack, so in some cases it is appropriate if it is on biblical grounds of doctrine or morality, but otherwise we encourage you to stay and seek unity.)
Given what they said about Arminians in their statement, which I am wondering if Dr. Matt Jones wrote, how do they define doctrine? For example is part of their doctrine believing that John Piper is the fourth member of the Trinity and the 67th book of the Bible. If I disagree on John Piper teaching that a woman submits to her domestic abuser am I going to have a problem here? Is that what they mean by doctrine.
3. You have a bad track record at churches of being unteachable and causing problems. (You won’t change here, you’ll repeat the pattern. We believe Matthew 18’s admonition of church discipline applies to all local churches, so hopping from one to another doesn’t negate the problem.)
This point is one of the many reasons why I decided to link a current post by Tim Challies into this post. Why is it always the members that are the problem? Why does authoritarian leader always view the members as the issue and never themselves? For example lets look at C.J. Mahaney. Here is a guy that allegedly practiced blackmail and was engaged in the cover up of child sex abuse. When all the criminal allegations came hemorrhaging out, what happened? He fled! The bastard fled and hid behind Mark Dever’s “Gospel Centered” rear end at Capitol Hill Baptist Church here in my backyard. Then he fled again to plant his church in Louisville. All this talk about being a man, and how the church is the dearest place on earth, which I believe is a reference to Charles Spurgeon. But who tore apart families? C.J. Mahaney did. Who tore apart Sovereign Grace Ministries? C.J. Mahaney did. Who caused over 40 churches to break away from SGM? It was C.J. Mahaney. Next look at Mars Hill Seattle and Mark Driscoll. Who caused needless pain and division? It was Mark Driscoll. Who fled from Seattle to Scottsdale, Arizona and let Mars Hill implode? It was Mark Driscoll. Who left a lot of financial problems in his wake at Mars Hill? I believe it was Mark Driscoll. You see Dr. Matt Jones we are going to disagree big time. It long overdue that many churches, and ministries acknowledge the fact that much of the division today is being caused by questionable men who should never be pastors to begin with. To claim that the members are the source, unteachable, etc… is pure and total bullshit. Please forgive the language but to hear this excuse by totalitarian organizations such as your own in light of the history is just really bad. By the way speaking of church discipline…when is Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney ever going to face church discipline. Can you tell me that Dr. Matt Jones?
4. You’re a consumer wanting to “go to church” once a week for a nice show. (We are not a Sunday show. We are a community of disciples on a mission.)
Again I find this particularly arrogant. I don’t think most Christians go to church for a nice show. Instead I think they go to church for worship, fellowship, and to learn. To say this is quite arrogant as it assumes he worst about the people who attend.
5. You want religion. (This church will be built on the radical gospel of grace that emphasizes relationship with God and knowledge of truth, not dead religion or human traditionalism.)
Dr. Matt Jones, have you read about how Mike Anderson, the former director of The Resurgence at Mars Hill in Seattle described the organization after he left it? He said the following it his post called, “Hello, my name is Mike, I’m a recovering True Believer.” In that post Mike talked about how harmful religion has become and he compared it with the same destruction that some engage through prescription drug abuse, alcoholism and more. This is what Mike said, “I’ve seen many friends make bad choices in their 20s. For some, regular partying quickly turned into alcoholism; for others, prescription drugs led them into dark places. For me, it was religion.” Now Del Rey Church is using an article to explain itself that came from the denomination where Mars Hill Seattle was home. Isn’t that profoundly ironic? You don’t want religion but you are using an Acts 29 article from an organization that has a lot of systemic and systematic flaws? I think I’ve made my point and I will move on to the next part.
6. You have an agenda. (We have our vision, our mission, and our values. Your private agenda does not supersede them.)
This one is also pretty bad and assumes the worst that people bring an agenda when they come to church. While some may go to get married or meet friends that is just human nature I would suggest. But beyond that I think this point it pretty bad. Again see my comments from point 4.
7. If you’re a wolf. (We will sniff you out.)
Okay according to Distance Between Cities there are 2688 miles between Washington, D.C. and Del Rey Church, Church. This blog writes an awful lot about wolves and those who are teaching and in ministry who should not be. For example earlier this year I wrote the following post about Mark Driscoll called, “A Wolf Rises in Phoenix: Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church.” There are many concerns I have about Del Rey Church and those concerns are what is bringing about this blog post. Yes you are being sniffed out…all the way from the East Coast of the United States. I would not normally say that about someone or an organization but let’s consider that there are many wolves in the Evangelical Free Church.
8. If you think this will be a nice little church that stays the same size, where everybody knows your name, and you have the lead pastor’s cell number on speed dial, and we have a picnic lunch together every week. (By God’s grace, we want to grow.)
Of course you want to grow….some of these organizations are businesses out to make money. I expect nothing less. After all there are franchises like Wendy’s, Subway, Starbucks and more…and then there are churches more interested in growth. This says a lot about the health of the church when this is the goal. By the way..growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.
9. If you think this will be easy and smooth. (This will be hard and difficult; this will be a fight, a battle, and a challenging mission.)
Wow where did we hear this before? Wasn’t it C.J. Mahaney who once quipped change is here to stay? No rhyme or reason to what was done? How did that go? I would love to hear your answer Dr. Matt Jones on my question.
10. If you want to hold on to your comfortable life. (You must lose your life.)
Sure I will do this as soon as you and the leadership disclose your salaries and reveal how much you make. In the name of Jesus and in giving up a comfortable life this also applies to you as well Dr. Matt Jones.
With that said, we hope you will join us and join for the right reasons. We exist to enjoy God by making disciples of Jesus Christ through the teaching of God’s word and loving people in genuine community. We are a home for you.
How many Christians are pumped and psyched? Hopefully this response will give some people in the Playa del Rey area something to consider as they realize how legalistic this article is.
Today the problems are many in the church, but the hurt and harm caused by individuals getting upset because their particular way was not established or maintained is more often than not in the center of most unholy debates and the root of passions out of control. These kinds of attitudes and actions never bring God glory. If we would just remember that it is ALL about Jesus, the church would be a better place (or rather people), and we at Del Rey Church are committed to this end.
Matt, Matt, Matt….again look at point 3 which I wrote above. When are you going to admit that you idols, the ones that you bow down and worship? The ones whose books you most likely use in Sunday School, etc… are a major problem? Who was caused more conflict the average pew sitter or C.J. Mahaney? Who was caused more conflict, the single mother or Mark Driscoll? Who has caused more conflict the young professional or Mark Dever? Who has caused more conflict, the senior citizen or Al Mohler? Be honest now Dr. Matt Jones.
Tim Challies Whines
Is this Tim Challies in Toronto?
On October 31, 2016 Tim Challies at his blog wrote the following blog post called, “The Cracks Begin at the Bottom.” In that post which I consider a disaster for Tim Challies (should I expect anything more from him?) he writes about how members can often be the cause of problems. How they create conflict, and cause division. Like the Sunni Muslim he calls for people to blindly submit to church authority. For the record Tim is referring to the situation in the Millennium Tower in San Francisco.
The issues with Millennium Tower begin at the foundation but spread all the way to the roof. The issues in a local church often begin with the membership—even with members who are rarely present or barely contributing—and soon consume the entire congregation. There is a crucial implication here. You may not feel like you have an important role in your church. You may feel like you are of no account. But you have the power, the ability, to bring disunity to your church. You have the ability to undermine its health and stability, to set in motion a series of events that might eventually destroy it. The little cracks that begin in the foundation can migrate upwards, widening all the while.
But if that is true, so is the opposite. You have the ability to promote and maintain unity in your church. And your task as a member of a church is not only to avoid disunity, but to actively pursue unity. You are to pursue unity by submitting to the duly-appointed leaders of the congregation (Hebrews 13:17) and by engaging in loving relationships with your fellow church members (Galatians 6:10). Most of all, you pursue unity by walking “in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). If disunity begins at the bottom and works its way to the top, so too does unity. A strong foundation stabilizes and supports the entire structure. What are you doing to actively pursue unity within your church?
There is a lot to say which I would like to combine in the final analysis of this article.
Issues in How Neo-Calvinists View Members
I decided to also link Tim Challies article into the church statement by Del Rey Church because I thought they were appropriate. They both highlight why the Neo-Calvinist movement is broken, flawed, and corrupt. I looked at that statement on the Del Rey Church and I thought, whatever happened to Jesus teaching that my yoke is easy and my burden is light? What is light about that webpage for this Evangelical Free Church? How many people in reading that honestly want to be involved. The pastor is there for the church, the church is not there for the pastor. Neo-Calvinists have bastardized the concept of leadership. But here is the other challenge as well. In both of those articles they ignore the large glaring elephant in the room, the fact that many celebrity pastors are corrupt and not worthy of teaching. I’m just writing this blog as a guy who shows up on a fairly regular basis. I’m a guy who sits in the pews and listens. I would never crave that kind of fame and attention and to speak before conferences and more. But why must this movement be so condescending and look down at people as though they are but garbage, the problem, and the issue?
But you want to speak about divisive just look at the speaker line up for the upcoming EFCA Theology conference at Trinity in February 2017. The conference is called “Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – God’s Gospel and the EFCA.” The conference is about the 500th anniversary of the launch of the Protestant reformation. Who is one of the main speakers in this event? Its Al Mohler. Earlier this year Al Mohler introduced C.J. Mahaney at T4G in Louisville, Kentucky. In the process we learned that Al Mohler believes that child sex abuse is a joke , laughable and funny. You can read about that in “Al Mohler Extolls CJ Mahaney at T4G While Joking at the Expense of SGM Victims. Does Money Play a Role in the Relationship?” My question to the Evangelical Free Church of America and Trinity Evangelical Divinity school is the following. Do they believe that child sex abuse is a joke as well? Is that why one of the main speakers cracked jokes about C.J. Mahaney and the allegations that plague him on the internet? Since this conference is about the Reformation at 500, maybe its a strong indicator that the modern evangelical church, as well as the EFCA need another reformation as well. You can read about that in “95 Reasons Why we Need a New Reformation.” In January I plan to do a stand alone post about this EFCA Theology conference and look at the speakers and the event in greater detail. The point of saying it here is to illustrate that you have one more personality cult leader who creates problems and needless division. But according to the likes of Tim Challies and Dr. Matt Jones the people in the pews are the issue never the thugs up top. Both articles make my point. There is no love in these churches, system or situations. By the way you know what is also ironic in Del Rey Church? I wonder how EFCA West District Superintendent feels when he visits Dr. Matt Jones when their theological distinctives say they firmly reject Arminianism. Does this church reject Steve Highfill? With that I will let you guys go and I will leave you with a classic to listen to. As always I love you guys!