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.”
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] 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 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
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.
- “The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants”
- “An Open Letter to “The Iron Lady” Karen Hinkley (formerly Karen Root of The Village Church)”
- “An Open Letter to Matt Younger of The Village Church (Dallas Northway Campus)”
- “The Village Church’s Letter of Apology to Karen Hinkley (Part 1) A Primer on What is Repentance? What is Forgiveness?”
- “The Village Church’s Letter of Apology to Karen Hinkley (Part 2) An Analysis of the Apology and how it Falls Short”
- “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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!