At the EFCA’s Eastern District blog Dave Boerema of EFCA’s Apex Ministries wrote a post about mega churches. This blog suspects Boerema’s article is about David Platt’s McLean Bible. Dave Boerema glows over the mega church and talks about his personal repentance. In this troubling article he misses all the stories, scandals and problems that have occurred in mega churches. From Willow Creek to Harvest Bible Chapel to Mars Hill Seattle. This post will remind Dave Boerema of the facts.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.“
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:12 NIV
Recently there was a post at the Eastern District blog for the EFCA that deserved a response. I have been thinking about what to say to Dave Boerema and have been chewing on this for a while. Before I get into Dave here’s some background on him. He attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1997. He then worked in youth ministry inside the EFCA for twenty years. His last posting was at the Hershey Free Church in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. In March of 2017 he became the Associate Director for EFCA’s ReachStudents. And then in 2019 he became the director of Apex Ministries inside the EFCA. Apex works at resolving next generational leadership issues with a strong emphasis on discipleship. You can read the formal EFCA announcement on Dave right here.
Dave’s Post on the Eastern District Blog About Mega Churches
In July of 2019 at the Eastern District blog Dave Boerema wrote about visiting a mega church on the East Coast and taking students there as well. The name of the post is called, “Megachurches Aren’t Evil: 4 Things I Learned From A “Famous” Church.” He wrote about how the experience was pleasant and that there were positive aspects to the mega church model. They are not, as he described it evil. In a post that was borderline flattering. He wrote about how after he left the mega church he repented for thinking badly of it. In his article he stresses four aspects that he learned from the experience. And then there is this quote which to me means that you point people in the direction of the celebrity pastor. “Whether we are the senior leader, youth pastor or Sunday school teacher, we have the privilege and responsibility to point those we lead to the real hero of the Church. Here is what I observed that any church or leader can do.”
- Keep the main thing the main thing -Point people to Christ and left Christ keep their attention.
- Provide easy next steps – Help people see that serving the church and the community is an overflow of Christian community.
- Know what you’re good at and do it well – Don’t try and be the church down the road.
- Love your people well -Love people and remember that people will remember you for your love.
He closed out the post with the following which is almost a praise for this particular mega church.
The podcast and books coming from this mega-church are gold for today’s church and its leaders. But the real treasure that can, and should be, sought after is the humble, purposeful and eternal impact that can be made when a church and its leaders point its people to fame of Christ and not its own. And a close second… free coffee.
Did Dave Boerema Visit David Platt’s McLean Bible?
So after reading that post I spent a couple of weeks on and off asking myself. Which church did Dave Boerema visit? Hopefully its not Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church in North Carolina. That place has a lot of issues. There is also J.D Greear at The Summit in Durham, North Carolina. However, in thinking it over this blogger is wondering, did Dave Boerema attend David Platt’s McLean Bible? For me the give-away is the comments on the coffee. Coffee at McLean Bible is on the first floor and its had a reputation for having expensive coffee. This probably pales to what happens at Hershey Free Church which is led by George Davis as well as West Shore Evangelical Free which is led by Trent Thompson.
However if Dave Boerema thinks that David Platt’s McLean Bible is healthy he needs to study the place better. Is Dave aware that there are allegations of sex crimes that have been covered up that have taken place at McLean Bible? One of the mother’s in a dark situation left the following comment which I turned into a post. “Did McLean Bible Cover Up a Child Sexual Predatory Situation? A Comment on The Wondering Eagle Raises that Question.” That doesn’t look too good especially in light of the crisis of child sexual abuse inside the Southern Baptist Convention. But there is more, is Dave aware that McLean Bible was theologically flipped and that happened with Mark Dever’s assistance from Capital Hill Baptist Church? 150 staff were purged and many forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. Some of the staff is dealing with illness and others have developed mental health issues from the stress of the experience. It was a dark situation where the church leadership was abused. You can read about that in, “Were the Purged Staff at McLean Bible in 2016-2017 Required to Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, and Thus Allegedly Silenced About Their Spiritual Abuse?” Then McLean Bible joined the Southern Baptist Convention without the church knowing about it. When David Platt was being pushed into power, I attended the meeting where elder Larry Cooper lied about the church joining the Southern Baptists. Later on Christianity Today reported on McLean Bible joining the Southern Baptists. You can read more in, “According to Christianity Today McLean Bible Joined the Southern Baptist Convention in 2016; If True Why did Elder Larry Cooper Lie Before the September 21, 2017 Town Hall Meeting?” Does any of this sound like a healthy or solid church?
His Blog Article at the Eastern District Blog Ignored a Large Number of Scandals and Problems in Mega Churches
When I read Dave Boerema’s post I was disappointed yet again. For me what was a major let down is that there was no reference or acknowledgement of many of the scandals inside the mega church model. It was almost as if they didn’t exist. It begs the question that rests in my mind, when Mark Noll penned, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is no evangelical mind.” Has that theory been validated by David Boerema at the Eastern District EFCA blog? Even when these scandals are being reported in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, or Houston Chronicle? And this is the point person inside the Eastern District and the EFCA as well for generational leadership discipleship? If EFCA President Kevin Kompelien isn’t weeping behind his desk in Minneapolis then there are major problems inside the EFCA. Since Dave Boerema made no reference to some of the scandals that have taken place inside mega church’s lets examine a few.
No Mention of Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Community Church Scandal….
The Willow Creek Model was the model for many evangelical churches. From California, to Texas to Florida and Massachusetts Willow Creek was looked at as the church to emulate. Bill Hybels wrote a large number of books. One of the books Bill wrote is called, “Who You Are When No One’s Looking: Choosing Consistency, Resisting Compromise.” Bill liked to teach about being man, leadership character, etc… Then in the New York Times a story broke in August of 2018 about how Bill Hybels preyed on staff including his executive assistant Pat Baranowksi – even pressuring her to perform oral sex on him. You can read about that in, “He’s a Superstar Pastor. She Worked for Him and Says He Groped Her Repeatedly.”
No Mention of James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel Scandal…..
This aspect disappoints me. As a graduate of Moody Bible Dave Boerema no doubt knows the history of the Stowell family and the links between Moody Bible and Harvest Bible Chapel. This blog has worked with sources and former members inside Harvest Bible Chapel. I even traveled to Chicago to meet with sources and attended a service at Rolling Meadows, Illinoia. I wrote about the experience in, “The Wondering Eagle Visits Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows.” Harvest Bible Chapel is the story of a pastor obsessed with greed and power. James MacDonald regularly purchased bigger homes and treated the church as his own personal family business. Sexual abuse was covered up as well, the story of Paxton Singer is the tip of the iceberg. One thing I will never forget is the time I spent on the phone with a mother who read in the Chicago Tribune that her son’s favorite pastor was arrested for grooming and sexting. She had to sit down with him and ask him questions due to his involvement with Paxton. On a phonecall with her she was livid. She wrote a post about the Paxton Singer situation you can read in, “Guest Post: An Open Letter from a Concerned Mother Disheartened About how Harvest Bible Chapel Mishandled Paxton Singer’s Arrest.”
There was James MacDonald’s rage issues and how he would fire people while angry. You can read about that in, “Harvest Bible Chapel: An Example of How an Employee Would Allegedly Be Fired When James MacDonald Raged. Also, a Weird Easter Sermon in 2013.” Then there was James MacDonald who allegedly took personal pleasure in killing animals which you can read about in, “Does James MacDonald Take Personal Pleasure in Killing Animals?” The church also collected information on people from the counseling program which was used by James MacDonald. Again, you can read about that in, “How was Information From Soul Care Collected for James MacDonald? What Does this Scandal Mean for Garrett Higbee and the Great Commission Collective? Plus Some Advice as Higbee is Trying to Reconcile.” There are the recollections of former Harvest pastors that shared what happened behind the scenes, you can read more in, “Guest Post: Dr. Dale Harris, A Former Harvest Bible Fellowship Pastor Shares His Experience With Harvest Chicago and his Thoughts on James MacDonald.” Then there was the time James MacDonald was allegedly recorded in the studios of Walk in the Word discussing how he wanted to plant child pornography on the CEO’s of Christianity Today’s computer. You can read more in, “Mancow Muller Produces an Audiotape of James MacDonald Allegedly Wanting to Plant Child Pornography on a “Critic’s” Computer. Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Board Promptly Fires Him” Does any of this sound healthy?
No Mention of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church Scandal…
Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Seattle also is another mega church that was a disaster. There was Driscoll’s anger issues and his raging about staff. Mark Driscoll was also obsessed about sex. Over in Edinburgh, Scotland Driscoll actually preached about how a person accepted Jesus through a blow job. In a sermon he spoke about how a repentant woman gets down on her knees and performs a blow job. You can listen to that sermon in, “Reflecting on a Controversial Mark Driscoll Sermon About how a Repentant Woman Gets on Her Knees and Performs Oral Sex.” Then there was the information that emerged when Joanna Petry wrote about how she was convinced that if Mark Driscoll could murder her husband he would. You can read her story here. What led Mark Driscoll to leave Mars Hill was when it was learned that he taught that women are penis homes. That got the attention of the media. You can read about that in this New York Daily News story. By the way do you know who helped get Mark Driscoll started again in Arizona? It was Larry Osborne of the EFCA. It makes me ask the question if the EFCA also believes that women are penis homes also. You can read about Larry Osborne and Mark Driscoll in, “Why is the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Silent on Larry Osborne’s Strong Support for Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church? Does the EFCA Also Believe Women are Penis Homes?”
No Mention of Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Scandals…
Matt Chandler is also popular but The Village Church has a lot of issues as well. Did you know that in 2015 The Village Church tried to practice church discipline on a female who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict? You can read more in, ““The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants.” You can read more about that situation in, “Has Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley/Jordan Root Scandal?” Recently the New York Times published another story about The Village Church mishandling a child sex abuse situation. You can read about the Matt Tonne situation in, “What are the Take Aways From the Newest Scandal at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Involving the Allegation of Matt Tonne’s Sexual Abuse of a Minor?”
No Mention of C.J. Mahnaey’s Covenant Life Church Scandals in Sovereign Grace
Finally here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area you have Covenant Life Church in Gaithersberg, Maryland. This was ground zero for Sovereign Grace Ministries and was led for years by C.J. Mahaney. The corruption at Covenant Life was troubling. Within Sovereign Grace people faced church discipline over not tithing enough. In some of the wealthiest counties in the United States members of Sovereign Grace were giving so much that some were eating oatmeal for dinner. Mahaney boasted of how he demanded sex from his pregnant wife who was vomiting due to morning sickness. The Washingtonian wrote a detailed article about the issues inside Covenant Life and Sovereign Grace. You can read that here.
No Mention of Rod Stafford’s Fairfax Community Church in the Washington, D.C. Area
So I spoke about McLean Bible the other mega church on the Virginia side of D.C. is Fairfax Community Church. This church has a lot of problems, issues with financial transparency and abuse of authority. Fairfax employs a violent sex offender, Eric Nickle, as a minister and then concealed that information from the church. This blog was the whistle blower in that dangerous situation. You can read more in, “Why Does Fairfax Community Church have a Care Director on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry?”
The Evangelical Industrial Complex Needs to be Dismantled and a Challenge to Matt Boerema….
So I hope this article pokes through the cognitive dissonance of Matt Boerema and that it leaves him something to contemplate. While I am writing this from the outside those like Dave need to work to dismantle the Evangelical Industrial Complex. While I am doubtful that can happen I would love to be proven wrong. However in ending this post I will leave Dave Boerema with the following challenge. First there is an obnoxious Twitter parody account of James MacDonald on Twitter. He cusses, he screams, he talks about how #CTisMyBitch. Its the Mega Church Pastor. I would encourage you to follow him on Twitter. (He’s on sabbatical during the summer learning how to extort the flock for more money in the fall) Secondly this blog has interacted with many people from all the churches up above. If Dave wants to meet with any of the people from Willow Creek or Harvest Bible Chapel, this blog can arrange that. It will probably be challenging for Dave to hear first hand accounts but if he’s interested this blog can reach out to people and arrange it. If you are human that will probably change your thinking on mega churches and their challenges. This blog is of the belief that the mega church model needs to be abandoned.