Does the Acts 29 Network Attract People from the US Military? Looking at this Question Through the Lens of Two Acts 29 Churches: Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington in the D.C. Area and Bryan Laughlin’s Remnant in Richmond

I was unsuccessfully recruited to Acts 29 Redeemer Arlington by an Air Force Captain. After enduring the false accusation as time passed I wondered if the Acts 29 network attracts members of the US military. Do members of the United States Marine Corps and Army who live very regimented lives attracted to a legalistic organization like Acts 29? Against all that I heard of a situation in Bryan Laughlin’s Remnant Church. 

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

George Orwell 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

G.K. Chesterton 

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west,and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Matthew 8:5-13 NIV

US military guiding a convoy in Afghanistan 

His name at this blog is referred to as Andrew White. That name is a pseudo so know that whenever I have written about him it is not his real name.  He was in his late twenties, or possibly 30 when I met him. He came from a military family. As he told me his father was a hippy who then joined the United States Air Force (USAF). Andrew grew up constantly moving every time his father had a permanent change of station. He considers Colorado Springs to be his home. His father I believe taught at the United States Air Force Academy. His home had taken in cadets from the Air Force Academy and sponsored them. This program also happens at the Navy Academy.  Interacting with the cadets inspired Andrew to go to the Air Force Academy where he graduated in 2005. He married his wife Jillian whom he met in high school. He gave up playing sports to do drama and spend time with his one day wife. The person who married him was his Navigators director at the Air Force Academy. Andrew was stationed at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Joint Base Maguire-Dix, Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. And there was one other aspect that needs to be mentioned as I write all this, Andrew thought that his former Sovereign Grace church, soon to become Acts 29 was the healthiest church that he had ever been in during his life. 

When I met him I was in a faith crisis and I started out with William Lobdell and graduated to Christopher Hitchens. Andrew proselytized me aggressively. I opened it up when I confided that I no longer believed in God. The pressure I was under to attend a soon to be Acts 29 church was profound. It was more intense then what I had undergone in college when I was thinking about converting to Mormonism. Andrew was an Air Force Captain just drawn to Redeemer Arlington. He always sung its praises. He talked about the order. He spoke about how naturally he fit there. He discussed his interaction with people who were talked about on a blog called SGM Survivors. Looking back on everything today I have one image that burns in my mind that describes the situation. Have you ever had those times when you go out into your backyard on a warm summer’s night; and you notice the insects bouncing around the porch light? There is always one moth that is large, and bouncing against the light. It keeps dancing and going around the porch light in circles. You can’t figure out why a moth is so blindly attracted to that porch light. Andrew White was like that moth. The porch light was a former Sovereign Grace church that was becoming an Acts 29 church. In time Andrew gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at my name, ability to earn income and more. I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the United States military. You can read about that in, “How I Managed a False Accusation Given Birth to by a USAF Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 Days.” That incident which was the darkest season of my life, is what triggered this blog. The raw psychological pain is what drives it. The fact that it popped up in my Mom’s hospital room before her death is inexcusable. As my Mom spent the last months of her life on earth she didn’t have to worry about me finding a way forward because of what someone with “sound doctrine” did. Later on I did another post that asked the question if a graduate from the Air Force Academy which is a rape culture was drawn to a family of churches bleeding child sex abuse stories because the military culture has struggled with that issue of rape and assault. You can read more in, “Is Eric Simmons’ Redeemer Arlington a Rape Culture Like the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs?” As time has passed I wondered privately to myself if the legalistic Acts 29 culture attracts people in the United States military. That was on my mind when I heard about another Acts 29 church that is having issues down in Richmond, Virginia. 

 

Acts 29 Remnant and the US Military 

When I heard about the issues transpiring at Bryan Laughlin’s Remnant Church there was something that happened which puzzled me. I poked around on the net and spoke with a couple of people you used to attend Remnant. I had a long, in depth conversation with someone and in the discussion he said something that raised my curiosity – especially after what I went through with Redeemer Arlington. This member of the military in talked about the flow of people from Remnant who were military. He listed all these members of the United States military who had attended the Acts 29 church. He recalled an Air Force chaplain. He spoke about a couple of active duty Marines and he kept listing people who left, and as I listened to him I wanted to know more about this issue. I also had an interesting situation as well. In researching and putting these posts together I drove down to Richmond and attended a service at Remnant. After the service a person to my right approached me and extended a warm welcome. If I remember correctly in the conversation he explained to me how he was a member of the Virginia National Guard. In the conversation he also referenced others in the military involved in Remnant. I was intrigued when this was said to me inside Remnant on a Sunday morning. It had independently confirmed what another person had told me. I walked away from that Remnant service thinking to myself and asking the following question. Why do members of the military get involved in Acts 29? Does the culture attract people? After all the DNA of Mark Driscoll still remains in the organization. 

 

Do Members of the Military Gravitate to Acts 29? Does the Culture Attract Them? 

The culture in the US military varies upon the different branches of the United States Armed forces. This is actually a joke I heard a while back. If you were to state that the building is to be secured this is how the different branches would respond. 

  1. The Navy would turn out the lights and lock the doors. 
  2. The Army would surround the building with defensive fortifications and concertina wire. 
  3. The Marine Corps would assault the building and use overlapping fields of fire from all appropriate points on the perimeter.
  4. The Air Force would take out a three year lease with an option to buy the building.  

Of all the branches the most intense I would say is the Marine Corps and followed by the Army. Next would come the Navy and then the last would be the Air Force. In the military,  life is regimented and disciplined. If you ever have a chance to speak with some one who has gone to boot camp or graduates from a military academy as an officer discipline guides them both. In the military life can be strict, demanding and the culture is about following the chain of command.  Image is everything as members of the military have to be properly groomed and their uniform has to be exact. My question is the following…does this kind of culture attract people to organizations like Acts 29? Acts 29 is legalistic. Think of the membership covenants that these places generate and create? Plus also when you are the property of the United States government its not too far to have the mindset that you become property of a place like Remnant or Redeemer Arlington. After all its about submitting to the pastor and following orders. Is it that far off for a Captain in the Army to submit to a Major any more than someone would submit to someone like Acts 29 pastor Jordan Kauflin or Bryan Laughlin? Its about following the chain of command. Does the military culture be reinforced by organizations like Acts 29? Are members of the military who are effectively property of the United States government so used to being controlled that being controlled by Acts 29 is normal? 

Here is another question that comes to mind. If a member of the military calls Acts 29 healthy does it also mean that the military has warped their understanding of the Christian faith? Do they have no idea of what healthy faith is if the are attracted to organizations that produce people like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler or more? Or could it also be that members in the military, especially those who are career focused have a difficult time differentiating between faith and the culture they are in? After all if that has been their life would they have other experiences to compare to? I am not trying to be difficult I am just asking questions. But is that the reason why an Air Force Captain called Redeemer Arlington “healthy?” Is that the reason why I heard that so many people in the military became involved in Remnant? This is a theory I have and as always I am open to other points of view. I will let you weigh in on this below. That is it for the day guys, I hope you have a good day Remnant! 

2 thoughts on “Does the Acts 29 Network Attract People from the US Military? Looking at this Question Through the Lens of Two Acts 29 Churches: Jordan Kauflin’s Redeemer Arlington in the D.C. Area and Bryan Laughlin’s Remnant in Richmond

  1. I’d also be curious to know if the answer to your question is different for women in the military. Thinking about your story of a church telling a member she could not be a police officer, I’d think that military women would find these churches very off-putting. A military woman is in a position of responsibility, and often authority over men, and yet these churches are telling her that her place is to be subservient and obedient to men. Did you encounter any military women in your experience with these churches?

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  2. Pingback: Open Letter to Bryan Laughlin (When is the Senior Pastor of Remnant Deploying to Afghanistan?) | Wondering Eagle

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