The New City Network is formally launching a new church plant in Falls Church, Virginia in September of 2019. This church plant which is led by Nate Crew and has Dale Sutherland in the servants leadership team is deeply unhealthy. Sutherland and Crew are related and once again another church highlights the problem of nepotism in evangelicalism. This blog post is designed to warn you to stay away from CityLight Church.
“Nepotism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption.”
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:12-13 NIV
An Overview of CityLight Church
CityLight Church is a new church plant of the New City Network. The New City Network is a church planting organization from McLean Bible. When McLean Bible was theologically hijacked and flipped the New City Network popped up out of the organization. The first call for people to join this new church plant was in the spring of 2019. The first meeting occurred on April 14, 2019 and then May 5, 2019. The church started meeting and has a number of small groups that are ongoing. Its formal launch will occur on September 15, 2019. This is going to be a Southern Baptist Church plant, so this blog post about CityLight is especially timely.
Who is Nate Crew and His Relationship with Dale Sutherland
Nate Crew is the pastor of City Light. He comes to that position after being the Pastor of Young Adults at McLean Bible Church in Tysons Corner. He is originally from Trussville, Alabama. He attended Liberty University and graduated in 2008 with a degree in communications. After graduation he got married and then became a missionary in the Dominican Republic for six months. He then came back to the United States and attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. At Southeastern he obtained his Masters of Divinity in 2013. When Dale Sutherland made a deal with the devil (Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church) to flip McLean Bible theologically Nate Crew was one of the pastors brought on board as non Calvinists were purged. Nate came on board McLean in June of 2014. For the purpose of this post it should be pointed out that Nate Crew married into the Sutherland family. According to my research he is Dale Sutherland’s son-in-law. What that means is that he is married to Dale Sutherland’s daughter. This will create a number of challenges which I will get into below.
Dale Sutherland has also become a part of CityLight Church. He is part of the servant leadership team. Dale comes to this position from his role of Lead Pastor for Strategic Initiatives at McLean Bible Church. I did a biography of Dale Sutherland which you can read in, “Dale Sutherland is Leaving McLean Bible. What Will His Legacy Be?” This church will have deep issues because of the issue of nepotism which I will explore next.
The Problem of Nepotism and an Overview
Nepotism is having a policy that is based on favor granted to relatives in placing them in places of employment or influence. You can find nepotism in small business, politics, entertainment, sports, and religion. The term nepotism came from the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic Popes and Bishops in the Middle Ages. Parliamentary positions were given out to family and friends. Nepotism comes from the Italian word nepotismo which is based on the Latin word nepos meaning ‘nephew.’ When Catholic Popes had families they placed nephews and others into the cardinalate. You can read more about nepotism in the Catholic church here.
Nepotism is not an issue in the regular government due to the civil service. In political pointed positions for example in the White House or executive branch then yes from time to time its an issue. The law about nepotism changed after John F Kennedy appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy to attorney general in 1960. You can read the statute which was passed in 1967. You will find nepotism in the small business world. I encountered nepotism in a small family owned business in California. In this case I saw someone being rehired for a position where he was previously fired for shoplifting. Nepotism is a serious issue inside evangelicalism, after all several churches I have been involved in dealt with this topic. If you would like to read more about nepotism you can do so in, “Is Nepotism a Major Issue Inside the EFCA? From the Spenst’s of Trinity Evangelical View in Plainview to New Life in Hastings, Minnesota. Plus Remembering the Nepotism Issue at the Former Community Evangelical Free in Elverson, Pennsylvania.” Nepotism is going to be an issue at CityLight due to the presence of family members in key positions of the church. The problem is going to exist by having Dale Sutherland and Nate Crew in decision making roles at CityLight.
Why CityLight Church Will Not be Healthy and How it Can Get Dangerous and Why You Should Stay Away
CityLight is going to be an unhealthy church. As previously stated, the roles that Sutherland and Nate Crew will have will be an issue. Plus, Dale Sutherland is going to this church with a cloud hanging over him. According to what this blog has learned there was a volunteer who allegedly preyed on a minor in The Rock Student Ministries at McLean Bible, It was badly mishandled and happened under Dale Sutherland’s watch in formal leadership at McLean. It begs the question that must be asked. If there was a situation of child sex abuse at CityLight could it be handled properly and within the confines of the law? This blog has deep concerns about that very issue.
Nepotism is a contributing factor to many churches that this blog has written about. When family members enter the picture that opens doors to conflict and problems. Let me share two stories that reveal the problems of nepotism. At Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis down in Tennessee the brother-in-law of the pastor was not turned into law enforcement when he was engaged in voyeurism and the alleged manufacturing of child pornography. You can read more about this in, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church.” This blog also focuses on the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). This blog broke a dark story that revealed the issue of nepotism in south central Pennsylvania. Known as Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania what took place was disturbing. The senior pastor’s son allegedly raped his wife while intoxicated. On another occasion he loaded a gun and pointed it at her. Knowing she could be dead in a domestic abuse situation she filed for divorce. The church practiced church discipline on an alleged sexual abuse victim. It was done to protect the pastors’ son. You can read about it in, “Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity” and “Hurit’s Public Excommunication While Alleged Criminal Activity by Brock Estes is Withheld from the Congregation: Appeals for Help Fall on Deaf Ears to Steve Musser of the Eastern District and National Evangelical Free Church of America.”
If there was an ethical, financial or some type of failure in the leadership what would happen? How would Dale react to that issue if it involved Nate Crew? What if it involved Dale Sutherland how would Nate Crew react to his family? Again there is already a cloud hanging over Dale Sutherland based upon an incident that happened at McLean Bible. Nepotism at CityLight can guarantee that this will be a toxic church. This isn’t a New City Church Plant, its a Sutherland family business. It exists to make money and will is flawed even before it takes off officially. Ethics and evangelical Christianity do not exist in the same sentence. CityLight Church proves that fact. When problems happen, and they will, don’t say that you were not warned. This blog took the time to do this post to warn you to stay away. By thinking for yourself you will avoid problematic churches from the New City Network.