Josh Harris’ Former Megachurch Responds to Announcement He’s Not a Christian

By Julie Roys
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The megachurch where author and pastor, Josh Harris, pastored for more than a decade today sent an email to its members in response to Harris’ recent announcement that he’s no longer a Christian. 

Harris served as senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, from  2004 to 2015. And in a letter to the Covenant Church family, Interim Senior Pastor Kevin Rogers wrote about Harris’ announcement: “These updates are hard to hear. We love Josh and Shannon. For most of us, Josh isn’t just some distant public figure. He’s a beloved former pastor and friend. So this news isn’t just a lot to process theoretically. It hits home personally.”

Rogers noted that in 1 Timothy, the apostle Paul “mentions former Christian leaders ‘swerving from,’ ‘wandering from,’ or ‘making a shipwreck’ of their faith.” And he said that though abandoning faith is “sad and confusing, it isn’t new.”  Rogers urged congregants to pray for Harris’ “redemption and restoration.”

“Several times Paul mentions former Christian leaders ‘swerving from,’ ‘wandering from,’ or ‘making shipwreck’ of their faith. So while this is sad and confusing, it isn’t new.”

Rogers also said that people in the church should use the news about Harris as “an opportunity for greater resolve in our own faith.” He urged people to “guard the good deposit” entrusted to them and to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” (1 Tim. 6:11)

In a postscript, the church encouraged those especially wrestling with how to process the new from Harris to view a video from author and retired pastor, John Piper.

Here’s the full letter from Covenant Life Church:

CLC Letter About Harris_Final

 

Here’s the video from John Piper linked in the letter:

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27 thoughts on “Josh Harris’ Former Megachurch Responds to Announcement He’s Not a Christian”

  1. Thank you Julie for your work in bringing this situation/crisis to our attention. This is helping me to really go before God and get clarity from Him in all things. I’m hanging on as much as I can to my faith. However that’s not what is sustaining me. God is! Only by His grace ministering to my soul am I able to process all of the fallouts of pastors in recent days. Praying for all of us and them daily. Blessings and peace to you.

    1. Piper misquoted 1 Corinthians 9:6. “Inherit” and “enter” are not synonymous terms. I would expect better precision in handling God’s Word from the likes of Piper.

  2. To bring MLK into the orbit of Wesley, Whitefield, and Luther, much less Josh Harris, is errant at best and disingenuous at worst.

  3. Thank you Julie for top notch reporting.
    It is so very sad to see this kind of a problem rearing its ugly head within the church.
    This is a good reason for each of us to daily seek the Lord & be absolutely committed to HIM & passionate about our love for HIM & the need to draw closer to HIM daily that our very life would be a prayer to HIM!
    It grieves me to see the enemy so effectively disrupting a church this way.
    Praying for all of those who have been wounded in this evil attack. May the Lord use this to bring a new strength to HIS church that would bring a fresh revival & fire to preach the gospel & make disciples!

  4. I like what Piper has to say but it does not take into account the personal harm that a leaders actions cause by that very sin. It is a disappointing finish to a leaders life to have lived in all the fame, notoriety, and influence only to finish so poorly.

    People need to take the admission found in James 3:1 more seriously.

    1. Serving Kids in Japan

      It is a disappointing finish to a leader’s life to have lived in all the fame, notoriety, and influence only to finish so poorly.

      Who says that Harris’ life is “finished”? None of us knows which way his life and faith will turn from now on. His career as a Christian “leader” is likely over (and perhaps for the best), but the outcome of his spiritual life is far from settled.

  5. Christy Hemphill

    Classic patriarchy church move that although they supposedly “love Josh AND Shannon” the whole letter is about praying for Josh. She deconverted too, and divorce affects women too. It’s like they don’t even realize how low their view of women is.

  6. My own thoughts

    Christy:

    Hello, I did not even realize that Shannon had de-converted too. I wonder if that information is public knowledge?? I have friends at Covenant Life Church and this is the first I have heard about Shannon’s de-conversion. I am sad to hear this. And sad to hear about Josh.

  7. My own thoughts

    As a guy: here are my own thoughts. I realize the Media has been beating up Josh Harris and lambasting the “Purity Culture” for his allegedly, “Repressive view of Sex”, etc…etc……. those are the Media talking points. But personally….as a guy…….I read Josh’s book many many years ago, and I personally benefited from it. In hindsight, I have had countless number of females make comments to me that they ” feel safe around me.” At the time, I thought that particular comment was “odd”. In my 20s, I never “connected the Dots and put 2 and 2 together” and I never realized what these same females were really saying……I just thought it was “odd” when women would make that comment. Now, years later, I have heard the tragic real-life stories of women being preyed upon and being violated and assaulted in various forms and different degrees. I have hard the real-life experiences of women being assaulted by PEOPLE they actually know and thought they were friends with….. My point is: I do feel that Josh’s book provided healthy boundaries for me as a male. I feel there are boundaries and clear direction given to me in that book as a male. For example: I feel that the “no face-to-face” hugging rule was a good thing, and Not a bad thing. It was a good thing NOT because it taught or Implied that “Women are the devil”, rather it was a good thing because it reminded me of the need for Boundaries in my personal conduct. As a male, I benefited from that book because it reminded me as a male of my own inner selfish, sinful tendencies. I never got the impression from reading the book that if I followed the so-called, Media name of “Purity Culture” then God would give and award me a shopping list of “X, Y, and then Z.” Rather, I got the impression from reading the book that it was just a human attempt by a human author trying to encourage Biblical norms regarding dating and sexuality. Just my .02……..

  8. My own thoughts

    Homo sapiens or human beings were given the Faculty of Reason by God. The animal kingdom does not have this faculty or tool. Humans were also given the faculty or tool of moral cognition for the purpose of perceiving and understanding the ability to Grasp Moral absolutes ( which is also absent in the Animal Kingdom ). Animals are separate in KIND…..and not just degree……from homo sapiens ( or humans ). God makes the Rules, not me. God makes the Rules, and not culture and not society. God makes the Rules, not the Media. God makes the Rules, and not the ever-changing “Media Narrative”. And God says the way we respond to this gift of immaterial faculties or tools is very important. And to deny the Christian faith is a walk in the direction of dis-obedience to the Creator God who endowed humankind with the faculty ( tool ) to recognize abstract entities and the immaterial laws of logic and the laws of morality. And this same Creator God endowed humankind with the tool to perceive and recognize moral principles known as moral absolutes. And to walk away in dis-obedience to the Creator God is not a good thing…….it is a bad thing. Apostle Paul said that if “Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our whole Christian faith is an exercise in futility and Folly.” Apostle Paul, who went to his death imprisoned and suffering hardship after hardship, taught the dual concepts of a.) Christianity is true ; b.) it involves much suffering and hardship. Perhaps I am misunderstanding Josh Harris?? Perhaps Josh Harris is really leaving “Christianity INCORPORATED” ( the modern Evangelical INDUSTRIAL CELEBRITY PASTOR Complex ) and NOT Biblical Christianity…….???? Perhaps Josh Harris is really leaving “Christianity Incorporated” and returning to historic, Biblically sound Christianity,……if so, then that is a good thing. But I fear that perhaps Josh may be leaving historic, Biblical Christianity due to media criticisms, etc….and I plead with him to consider the above points. You are in dis-obedience to the Creator God who gave you such immaterial faculties and tools. How you respond to them with your Life Choices is important. in closing, grateful for Josh

  9. Lets not forget about David and Solomon and should we mention Samson
    Harris has had a moral collapse pray for him and dont use him for a role
    model.
    I never did from the time he wrote the dopey book “I kissed dating goodbye”.
    I still say stop allowing young so called believers an adult platform which is
    where churches are headed
    Blessings

    1. Amen! AND AMEN!!! You said, “. . . stop allowing young so called BELIEVERS and adult platform. . . .” Honestly, I think we need to find out what the bible means by, “BELIEVER.” Then age wouldn’t be a problem. That word is so often misunderstood from even before Jesus was crucified, and especially from Pentecost onward. I recommend STUDYING it in every place it is used in the NT and write out your notes as to everything it pertained to. God bless!

  10. The Church needs a reset. A “come to Jesus” moment, if you will. Harris was linked with Mahaney. Mahaney was wrought with scandal. His celebrity pastor pals backed him up.

    Can any church leader be trusted? If they aren’t abusing someone in some way, are they covering up someone else’s misdeeds?

    I went to an SBC/Dever church plant in the area (where we sang songs from SGM and used Dever’s 9Marks garbage) whose pastor/elders conducted spiritual abuse on several occasions (some of which impacted me). After I left, I heard about TGC and Dever not speaking out about Mahaney and of course, the SBC scandals. No wonder the leaders were abusive. Look at their role models!

    No wonder people are fleeing the Church. No wonder the world hates Christians. While all these Christians are out there judging the world and pretending to be perfect, the world sees right through all the lies and hypocrisy.

    God help us.

    Thanks for continuing to shine a light on these dark places, Julie. We can only hope that somehow God uses all of this for his glory ultimately.

    1. Hi @Laura S. you’re statement that we need a “come to Jesus” moment was announced nearly 2000 years ago. The problem is just as you have announced too, that we don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God, Mk 12:24

  11. The institutional church is not a safe place as a whole today – that is what I am finding more and more. I was a young man brought along in larger “on the move” church, and it was a nightmare. I can see why so many are crashing and burning. Josh may think differently with enough recovery and healing time. Hopefully he will be granted the space to do that.

  12. Piper says that 1 Co 6:9-11 could mean that all the “Greats” didn’t go to heaven. “Finding a church,” is absolutely the last thing we need to find. What we need to find is HOW the Apostles and those they taught were actually saved.

    Here’s what I mean, it will be the very rare individual who can say 1) When, 2) Where and 3) *HOW* the Romans, the Ephesians and even the thief on the cross were saved. Who can give book, chapter and verse as to the “When, Where and HOW” THEY were saved. Most don’t have a clue.

    The point is that almost none of the churches today teach the “HOW” and have developed in the last 500 years an entirely new “gospel” which is no gospel at all. I can hear you flout my statement, and you are the one that needs to obey 2 Co 13:5 and test yourself against what we just need to read.

  13. Sadly a lot of the people out here preaching and selling stuff under the Christian banner are not Christians. I’m not saying people can’t fall away because the Bible clearly tells us that they can. However, a lot of people know they’re not really Christians and know that coming in but are Christians for pay. I’m very wary of most of the people out here starting Christian fads and selling Christian this or that and getting paid from it.

    I’m sensitive to the fact that as a very young man he was put on the path to where he is now. It sounds like some one told him he was a Christian when he was a child and he now has the courage and conviction to know and admit that he’s really not. However, I do think he owes the Christian community an apology. I notice he was quick to apologize to the LGBQT community but offered no apology to the Christians he misled. What’s scary is how many people who hopped on his original bandwagon will he influence with this announcement? This is why the rock star Christians are so dangerous. People follow them instead of following God.

    I also find the comments on this article and others refuting this man’s renunciation of his faith troublesome. He was a pastor. I think he should know if he is a believer or follower of Christ or not. Please stop trying to force people to be Christians against their will. This is how this sort of situation happens to begin with. Pray for him, love him, and have compassion for him. Welcome him back if he ever turns back. But accept what he’s said. He should know better than anyone if he believes in Jesus Christ or not.

    1. “It sounds like some one told him he was a Christian when he was a child and he now has the courage and conviction to know and admit that he’s really not. ”

      Doesn’t quite jive with your follow up

      “He was a pastor. I think he should know if he is a believer or follower of Christ or not. ”

      I agree with most everything you say though.

  14. There was a worship leader in my church . He did the same thing but he was in tear he left his wig and 3 beautiful children and he tried to depend but his sexual desire where stronger because he is gay. I respect him so much more that Harris because he made this public so that other will turn from there faith and question themselves but when your truly safe nothing can separate you from God. Obviously Satan has got a hold of him let prayed on our knees for him Jesus is in tear right now but he knew this would happen

  15. Was bullied by groupies of this Harris cult. Now it all comes out he was always homosexual all the time. Should be sued.

  16. Another one bites the dust & shows his true colors- part of the great falling away of the last days. Don’t look to a man or woman, they will let u down. Keep ur eyes on Jesus.

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