Has Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley/Jordan Root Scandal?

Has The Village Church recovered from the Karen Hinkley scandal? This is an overview of the scandal that happened and efforts by Matt Chandler’s church to rehabilitate their image. Plus is a revolt under way at The Village Church over membership covenants? This writer would love to hear from current and former Village Church members about this issue.

“You never get over losses. I’ve never gotten over one loss I’ve had in my career, they always stick with me.”

Tom Brady

Because of the privilege and authority[c] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.[d] Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Romans 12:3-5 NLT

village

A Tweet that helped bring this post about

In the Neo-Calvinist world no one is more dear, more deified and more loved than Matt Chandler. He is the gold standard  for many Neo-Calvinists who must be protected. I have learned this in the course of writing this blog. As I have written about him I have had some in the movement who have reached out to me interested in protecting his image. This happened when a post I had written about Darrin Patrick’s The Journey in St. Louis led to being contacted by the organziation. If you have not read about The Journey you can do so in “Darrin Patrick is Removed from The Journey in St. Louis Amidst Questions; My Main Question…Will One of the Key Charges Also Be Applied to Matt Chandler?” Remember guys Matt Chandler is the brand who must be protected at all costs. But the question needs to be asked…has The Village Church rebounded and recovered from the Karen Hinkley and Jordan Root scandal? My contention is no, and all I have to do is look at The Village Church’s Twitter feed to illustrate my claim. But lets start by re-explaining what happened at The Village Church nearly two years ago. Lets revisit a dark scandal that still hangs over Matt Chandler’s church and casts a long shadow.

 

Overview of the Karen Hinkley Scandal

On May 21, 2015 Karen Hinkley went public with her story at Amy Smith’s Watchkeep and Dee Parson’s The Wartburg Watch. Her story was dark and troubling. Karen was married to Jordan Root and they were missionaries in Asia. She had sold all her possessions because Karen  believed she was going to live her life out in Asia. The Village Church was the sending church of the Roots if I remember correctly. But there were difficulties and under questioning Jordan allegedly confessed to being into pedophilia and that he was sexually attracted to children. The missionary agency evacuated them from Asia and they eventually returned back to Texas. Jordan was declared by The Village Church to be “walking in repentance.” There was tensions and The Village Church tried to manipulate the situation and keep Karen in the marriage. Karen Hinkley annulled her marriage in the state of Texas stating that she married under fraudulent circumstances. Karen had to deal with Matt Younger and Steve Hardin who I believe are still at The Village Church. When Karen annulled her marriage the church threatened to place her under church discipline. Karen had to deal with a pastor who was texting her around the clock and who didn’t respect her wishes. Karen left The Village Church under “disobedience” and she was being shunned by her small group. She left for North Carolina with The Village Church trying to place her under church discipline and invoke her membership covenant. Eventually the situation blew up on the internet.  People began to realize the extent of the scandal at The Village Church.  The individual allegedly into child pornography was being protected and yet Karen was being pursued and threatened with church discipline, when she had Biblical basis for her action. Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson eventually flew out to North Carolina and apologized to her.

What is important to note is that it was just Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson who apologized to Karen. None of the Elders, people in her small group, or others  approached her and said they were wrong. I find all that profoundly disturbing in so many ways.  This blog wrote about the situation and the articles I wrote about The Village Church scandal are among the most well read articles on this website. These are the articles I would direct you to. Of all of them I like the first article personally, I used the title from Matt Chandler’s book “The Explicit Gospel” and weaved it into the blog post title.

  1. “The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants”
  2. “An Open Letter to “The Iron Lady” Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root of The Village Church)”
  3. “An Open Letter to Matt Younger of The Village Church (Dallas Northway Campus)”
  4. “The Village Church’s Letter of Apology to Karen Hinkley (Part 1) A Primer on What is Repentance? What is Forgiveness?”
  5. “The Village Church’s Letter of Apology to Karen Hinkley (Part 2) An Analysis of the Apology and how it Falls Short”
  6. “An Open Letter to Matt Chandler and Why Eagle is Deeply Impressed with The Village Church’s Repentance to Karen Hinkley”

 

Is The Village Church Trying to Rehabilitate their Image?

Today’s post came about due to a tweet that The Village Church sent on November 28, 2016. The Village Church which went through the above fiasco published an interesting article on their blog. The post is called “Micah and Kendell Spence” and its on a blog about Village Church stories. The post is about a couple at who came from an ultra conservative Bible college. At that Bible college they struggled with and were hurt by the double standards. They grew distrustful of the college they were in and the church. After graduation they left and eventually got involved in The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. It was there through a small group that they found healing from being hurt by the church according to the story posted on the blog. They were able to learn about God, untangle their emotions and learn about grace. Here is how Kendall described it on The Village Church blog post.

Micah and Kendall’s hearts break for others who have been wounded by hypocrisy and are bound by the chains of legalism. Kendall has experienced the importance of meeting others where they are and seeing them with God’s eyes firsthand. “Take time and sympathize with them,” she said. “They have to come to the realization that we’re all broken. That person who hurt you is a broken sinner just like you are.”

In the tweet that The Village Church sent it stated how one couple who had been hurt found healing in the small group. Obviously what went through my mind when I read this is how this church is trying to rehabilitate their image. Especially after it took a such a massive hit in 2015. The Village Church and Matt Chandler is remembered for imposing church discipline on a woman who annulled her marriage to an alleged child pornography addict. As that image hangs over this church its my understanding that a new development in the story of The Village Church is occurring.   

 

Is there an Uprising at Matt Chandler’s Church over Membership Covenants? An Appeal to Current and Former Individuals Involved

Recently I got an email and I learned that there apparently has been an uprising amidst The Village Church.  From what I understand The Village Church is wanting people to commit to membership and sign membership covenants and people are bucking the pressure and resisting it from what I have heard. Matt Chandler sometime this past summer gave a sermon in which he said something to the following effect. He allegedly said that if people at the Village Church are not going to sign the covenant then they needed to leave so that another person can take their seat. It was something like that from what I understand. I am poking around and am trying to find the sermon. If I can get my hands on it, I will listen to it and do some analysis of the talk.

I have an appeal to any current or former members of The Village Church. If you have heard of any news about this can you please contact me? If you know which sermon it is can you let me know? If there are any stories with The Village Church I would like to hear about them and get some understanding as to what is happening. For those from The Village Church who want a better understanding of membership covenants the following post explains the problems with them.  My email is wonderingeagle261@gmail.com

 

Has the Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley Scandal?

Before we explore the question of has The Village Church recovered from the Karen Hinkley scandal we need to ask the question. How healthy is The Village Church and the Acts 29 network? It is my contention that the DNA of Mark Driscoll still remains in the organization and that many issues still exist. The Stranger in Seattle published this article in February 2012 about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Seattle called “Church or Cult?” I still believe this article holds relevance. In March 2012 Mark Driscoll resigned from Acts 29 and the organization which was based in Seattle was then moved to Dallas, Texas and under the control of The Village Church.  This happened because Joyful Exiles was launched and people learned about what happened to Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in Mars Hill. Then in August 2014 word came forward that Mark Driscoll taught that women are penis homes, and he talked about a “pussified nation.” Shortly afterward Acts 29 kicked Mars Hill Seattle and Mark Driscoll out of the organization. So the Acts 29 organization already has a tainted and troubled history. A year later the Karen Hinkley scandal occurred which just was inevitable in my opinion. I am honestly wondering what is the next scandal going to be out of The Village Church?

So the question remains has The Village Church recovered from the Karen Hinkley scandal? I would say that no it has not recovered. Today The Village Church is known as an organization that protected a guy who was allegedly into child pornography and then went after his former wife in attempting to impose church discipline on her. You have to remember that many people never heard of Acts 29 or The Village Church until this entire episode happened. Remember what they say about first impressions? For many people that is the first impression of The Village Church. That is what makes the information I came across about people resisting the membership covenant so crucial. People are learning that membership covenants are flawed, troubled and reckless. Plus people at The Village Church are connecting the dots and they realize that what happened to Karen could also happen to them.  After all life is hard enough as it is, things happen. Remember that in the end we are dealing with fundamentalism pure and simple in the Neo-Calvinist movement. Now if these problems are happening at ground zero of the Acts 29 movement then let me ask the question. What does that mean for Wade Meyer’s Missio Dei Communities in Peoria, Arizona?  What does it mean for Bill Riedel’s Redemption Hill here in Washington, D.C.? What does it mean for Kolbert Schultz’s Missio Dei Falcon in Falcon, Colorado? What does it mean for Bob Thune’s Coram Deo Church Community in Omaha, Nebraska? What does it mean for Bliss Spillar’s Redemption City Church of Frederick, Maryland? It means what happened in Dallas and even Seattle can and will happen in other places. In the course of time we are going to be hearing about such stories that will be very troubling. It should give a person pause before they sign a membership covenant or get involved in Acts 29. I view that piece on The Village Church blog about Micah and Kendell Spence as a desperate attempt to recover from the hit they took in 2015. The problems from that situation will continue to play out for some time to come. Again that is it for today, take care and know that I love you!

 

21 thoughts on “Has Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley/Jordan Root Scandal?

  1. Wow! Those membership convenants are scary. I didn’t realize how commonplace they had become. Glad people are becoming more aware of the danger. Many thanks to you Eagle for educating us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this reminded me of this Newsweek article I seriously considered FIVE years ago…Andrew Sullivan’s cover story from April of 2012 was “Forget the Church- Follow Jesus”. It doesn’t seem like much has changed, does it 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A friend called me yesterday about something interesting. Her church was taken over about 3 years ago by young calvinistas out of Southern Seminary. A lot of people have already left and the new leaders have managed to cut every single program and committee. IOW, the pew sitters are cut our of everything they used to do. I have been warning her about membership Covenants.

    Yesterday she said a couple went forward to join the church and the calvinista pastor announced to the congregation that the couple had passed his membership interview. Say what? No one had heard of that before. She is now wondering if they signed something in the interview. In the past it was the entire congregation that voted to accept new members.

    My guess is the church is bleeding members so they are trying to be careful about introducing something for current members to sign.

    So watch out for membership interviews with only the pastor?

    They get more and more deceptive and clever.

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    • Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington had a twist on that if I remember correctly. The members being processed could be interviewed by the congregation. That sounded weird to me when Andrew said that, but no I have heard of interviews before.

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  4. Eagle,

    You may have inadvertently hit upon something when you wrote:

    “What does that mean for Wade Meyer’s Missio Dei Communities in Peoria, Arizona?
    What does it mean for Bill Riedel’s [snip]?
    What does it mean for Kolbert Schultz’s [snip]
    Bob Thune’s [snip]
    Bliss Spillar’s [snip]”

    I thought the church belonged to Jesus, not to these guys. Perhaps this is part of the problem. People (including you) perceive that these churches belong to mere people, rather than to the Lord, who is the true shepherd & the true Head of the church body.

    Just a thought.

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  5. This (“5 Reasons to say no to church covenants”):
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/05/five-reasons-to-say-no-to-church.html

    The article makes 5 primary points:

    (1). A church covenant makes the Holy Spirit irrelevant in my life.

    (2). A church covenant replaces my one true Mediator with inferior mediators.

    (3). A church covenant makes the institutional church equivalent to the Kingdom of God.

    (4). A church covenant by its nature is designed to protect an authoritarian structure.

    (5). A church covenant requires something more than a simple “Yes” or “No.”

    It concludes with: “I need no covenant to guarantee that God will finish the work He’s begun in me.”

    This has been in my “favorites” folder for some time.
    The comments section is illuminating & discusses many sides pro & con of this issue.
    Great starting point for the discussion.

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    • I have been trying to figure this one out for years: How is normal church membership different than covenant membership? I have been encouraged or admonished many times to consider becoming a member (with my former congregation–haven’t encountered it with my new one yet), but I have yet to hear anybody present a coherent argument from Scripture about why official church membership (in any form) is a desirable thing. I have repented and believed, I have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (as a believer–although I know there’s some differing thoughts in this area)–I am a member of the Church. Why is it so necessary to be a formal member of a local church?

      I have been faithfully, regularly, and actively (weekly or more) participating in the life of the Church through a local congregation (current for 2.5 years, previous for 15+ years, and the one before that (we moved) for 6 years), through caring for the orphan and the widow and the poor, and through sharing the Gospel around the world, yet I’ve never been considered an official member of any congregation (nor do I particularly wish to be). I’m sure there are plenty of church members out there who haven’t darkened the door of a sanctuary in ages (and I know that in some of these cases, church leadership doesn’t bother to find out why).

      I don’t understand how traditional, formal membership is really any different than this “new” covenant membership. You might not actually sign on the dotted line for traditional membership, but most churches have a little ceremony where you verbally commit to the church and the church votes you in. I’ve heard that these verbal commitments can be just as binding–and the whole congregation is there as witness to boot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How is normal church membership different than covenant membership?

        The difference between prole and (Outer) Party?
        Opening up the posssibility of advancing to the Inner Party/Ring?

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  6. I am almost sixty years old, and when I first became a Christian things like drinking wine, movies,swearing and dancing were all considered “not something a Christian should do.” The new pastors now are so cool because they drink, dance and go to movies and do not consider themselves legalistic at all. I must say they are far more legalistic than when I grew up they just changed over what they consider legalistic. I would never attend a church that made me sign a membership covenant, or confide in a pastor knowing he was telling the elders, etc. That is the most legal and unloving thing I can think of and I am glad I attend a church where they think all that jargon is not of Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I must say they are far more legalistic than when I grew up they just changed over what they consider legalistic.”
      This strikes me as true. Their main rule appears to be “thou shalt obey the pastors”. Because their rules are not spelled out in detail their orders can be readily adapted to hammer the poor schlub who dares disagree.

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      • Capriciousness can be just as effective an instrument of Terror as 24/7/365 Total Control.

        Remember “Hooliganism” under the Russian penal code — so vague and broad it can mean anything those in Power say it means.

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    • Legalism is being re-defined. That is part of the problem today. When people think of legalism they think of no drinking, no dancing and KJV only. People need to remember that things are being re-defined.

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  7. Hi, I thought I’d point out that Missio Dei here is beyond Peoria. There are meetings in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, all near where I live. Here’s the overall link: http://missiodeicommunities.com/

    I’d note that their relatively simplistic view of the Bible (mentioned at the top of their beliefs), their young male eldership (no women leaders except a single female deacon) and their describing people as in a Family, and Learners, Servants, and Missionaries gives me the willies. It should go without saying that the Acts 29 connection REALLY makes my hair stand up on end. I am pretty sure this place wouldn’t be good for me.

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  8. Pingback: Mark Galli at Christianity Today on Church Discipline; My Question When is C.J. Mahaney, Mark Driscoll or Steve Estes Facing Church Discipline? | Wondering Eagle

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  10. I am a covenant member of the Village Church and I’m so thankful for our covenant. Our church is one that believes in being intentional about church membership. Signing a covenant is really only offensive if you don’t want to be truly known, One doesn’t have to be a member if he merely wishes to sit under gospel preaching or take part in missions or outreach. Many wish to blend into the crowd (I myself am naturally bent that way) and there is nothing wrong with that. But eventually, one needs more than a sermon or a few friends to hang out with. You will realize that to truly grow into utter dependence on Christ, that you need the biblical community that church membership provides.) It’s comparable to a marriage covenant. If you want to just sleep around with no true committment, then you don’t get married, but how selfish is that? In a marriage, which is not a contract, each spouse enters a covenant where the other (spouse) is viewed better than him/her self.

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    • RH I want to thank you for your comment and speaking your mind. As a member of The Village Church you are free to hang around and participate in discussions. Diversity of opinion is good and it makes the blog healthier.
      I have no problem with church membership, however I have deep concerns about membership covenants. I find them legalistic, burdensome and heavy. While community is important I have to ask you RH…what is wrong with Jesus teaching of “let your yes, be yes and your no be no?” Why an elaborate membership covenant that has been vetted by attorneys and more? The true test of The Village Church’s membership covenant occurred with Karen Hinkley and in the end of that scandal The Village Church didn’t look well. I want you to know that I value your perspective RH, and I hope you will hang out here and offer another point of view. I am trying to create a diverse community and there is a lot with The Village Church to write about as well as 9 Marks, TGC, and so much more. Please take care and email me if you need anything.

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  11. Thank you for your hospitality and I do pray this is truly a place for diversity in opinion. Let me preface that anything I write is not intended to be taken as an affront on any person here. I will disagree with much of what I have read here and in the comments, but that should not be construed as being hateful as often happens in these types of forums.
    Right off the bat, the verse you referenced (Matthew 5:37) is not an indictment of oaths or for our purposes, covenants. Within the context of the whole chapter and that particular culture, Jesus is not opposing oaths, he is opposing the types of oaths which were rampant in that particular culture. In short, there was an epidemic of oath-taking for every little menial thing. In other words, he was saying, save your oaths for something truly meaningful…. Like marriage for example. I don’t know you or all of your beliefs, but I would venture to say you find nothing wrong with the marriage covenant. Are you willing to use Matthew 5:37 to abolish wedding vows? The reality of what Jesus is referring to is basically lying. Taking oaths, or making promises specifically before God that you do not intend to keep. Matthew 5:37 can simply not mean that oaths are sinful. In fact, we know humans are sinful and break their promises, but does that mean that sinful people should never make an oath? More importantly, should sinful people not enter a covenant with another person? If so, then you’ll need to throw out the whole of scripture where God makes a covenant with his people and commands them to enter into it. And as I alluded to earlier, you should discard marriage vows as well.
    You said that you find membership covenants legalistic, burdensome, and heavy. I would too if a covenant were a contract. I would never sign a contract to join a church because a contract implies conditions that I must meet to be accepted. That would be very legalistic for sure, both figuratively and literally. So, before we make judgments about a local church’s membership process, I think it would be fair to recover the meaning of covenant and differentiate it from contract. They are not the same. A contract says you do something for me and I’ll do something for you. A covenant says “because I love you, I will protect you and because you love me you will honor me”. These are oaths that are deeply meaningful and loving, not legalistic and oppressive.
    Beyond that, this is not an ordinary covenant. It’s one that acknowledges that Christ has met all the conditions of the law on our behalf and absorbed the punishment which is due every one of us. It is essentially a physical representation of the covenant God called his people into much like baptism is the physical representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The goal of our membership covenant is not law-keeping in order to be accepted, but one that invites us to rest in Christ’s acceptance of us so that we may grow into ones who don’t merely keep his law, but delight in the law the way David did.
    One of our ministers wrote about this years ago, but I think summarizes it best.
    “God calls His people into covenant, not only to Himself but also to each other. He calls us to a life of sacrifice, generosity, service and radical commitment to the good of the body. And this happy obligation is most readily pursued within the context of a particular body—a local church”

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    • You said that you find membership covenants legalistic, burdensome, and heavy. I would too if a covenant were a contract. I would never sign a contract to join a church because a contract implies conditions that I must meet to be accepted. That would be very legalistic for sure, both figuratively and literally. So, before we make judgments about a local church’s membership process, I think it would be fair to recover the meaning of covenant and differentiate it from contract. They are not the same. A contract says you do something for me and I’ll do something for you. A covenant says “because I love you, I will protect you and because you love me you will honor me”. These are oaths that are deeply meaningful and loving, not legalistic and oppressive.

      RH thanks for your comment I appreciate it. I view membership covenants to be heavy and burdensome. They came on the scene in the last decade or so. But I view them as being a burden. Let me ask you this…what shows more love in the end…people doing something because they signed a covenant at The Village Church or people who responded out of their heart to help someone in a difficult time. Love should not have strings attached. The other problem you risk is that you create a cloistered community that is not being the hands and feet of Jesus. Read my story about former SGM now Acts 29 Redeemer Arlington. The guy in that story broke off witnessing and helping someone because I was not a member of the church. If that is how help is going to be defined – then why does the Gospel even exist? Jesus didn’t start out the Sermon of the Mount by emphasizing church membership. That is many made, and its done to control people. RH, mark my words you will never see Matt Chandler face church discipline – ever. Church discipline is only for the people in the pews, not at the people up top. Again happy to continue this conversation.

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