Acts 29 President Matt Chandler Under Fire for Removing Staff Alleging Abuse & Changing Story About Removal of CEO

By Julie Roys
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Five years ago, the U.S. staff of the church planting network, Acts 29, approached Acts 29 President Matt Chandler with a letter outlining concerns about “bullying” and “misuse of power and authority” by the group’s CEO, Steve Timmis.

The staff expected to have their concerns heard and considered. Instead they were fired, forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, and told to hand over their computers.

“We trusted Matt,” one of the fired staff members, who wished to remain anonymous, told me. He noted that at the time, he and the other four staff who sent the letter attended The Village Church, where Chandler is the pastor.

Yet a week after the five met with Chandler, they received an email requesting that they meet with two Acts 29 board members—Bruce Wesley and Leonce Crump.

“We were excited about the opportunity to talk about our concerns with the board,” the former staffer said.

However, he and his colleagues met with Wesley and Crump, there was no discussion. They were simply told that Acts 29 was consolidating all its operations in the U.K. and that their jobs were being eliminated.

“We were all in shock,” the staff member said, adding that people were “devastated” and in tears. He said when one of them asked Wesley and Crump if they had read their letter, the board members said they didn’t want to talk about it.

“We were all in shock,” the staff member said, adding that people were “devastated” and in tears.

Last week, the Acts 29 board removed Timmis from his position as CEO for allegations that sound very similar to the ones raised by the five former staff. In a statement, Acts 29 said that the board had become “aware of some accusations of abusive leadership” against Timmis “a little over two weeks ago.”

An article in Christianity Today (CT) gave specific accounts of alleged abuse by Timmis and noted what had happened to the Acts 29 staff who had reported abuse in 2015. When asked about what happened to the former staff, Chandler told CT that at the time, he saw the issue as a clash in leadership styles, not as an indicator of abuse.

I reached out to Chandler for additional comment, but he did not respond. I also reached out to Wesley and Crump, who no longer serve on the board but continue to pastor churches in the Acts 29 network, but they did not respond. (Wesley is lead pastor at Clear Creek Community Church, a megachurch in Houston, and Crump is pastor of Renovation Church, a megachurch in Atlanta.)

However, the former staff member with whom I spoke said the issues raised by him and his colleagues were more serious than mere differences in leadership styles. “Given what we shared with Matt and the board, I fundamentally cannot accept that,” he said.

Former staff reported abuse, not different leadership style

Yesterday, Steve McAlpine, an Australian pastor and blogger who had told his story of abuse by Timmis to CT, sent me the letter that the five staff had sent Chandler in 2015 (posted below).

In the letter, Chris Bristol, former Acts 29 communications director, writes that Timmis once insisted that Bristol give Timmis “unconditional loyalty.” Bristol said the request came immediately after Bristol had conducted a board-requested review of Timmis. Bristol added that Timmis said, “Don’t speak poorly of me to anyone, just like my wife wouldn’t say anything negative about me to anyone.”  

Bristol likened the type of loyalty that Timmis required to the “lack of accountability and openness” at Mars Hill Church, where Bristol had previously worked. (Mars Hill was pastored by Mark Driscoll, the founder of Acts 29, who was removed from Acts 29 for “ungodly and disqualifying behavior.”)   

Similarly, Tyler Powell, former Acts 29 assessment director, wrote that a phone call he once had with Timmis was “the worst phone call I’ve had with someone I work with” other than “Sutton Turner yelling at me over the phone.” (Turner was an executive elder at Mars Hill who apologized publicly for helping perpetuate a culture of fear and intimidation while at the church.)

Timmis once insisted that Bristol give Timmis “unconditional loyalty . . . Don’t speak poorly of me to anyone, just like my wife wouldn’t say anything negative about me to anyone.”

Powell’s assistant, Leanna Dusek, wrote in the letter that Timmis’ “communication style is often threatening, passively aggressive, and demeaning, all of which I believe is bullying.” She added that Timmis created a “culture of fear” that effectively squelched input. “Most of our staff meetings consist of Steve speaking and everyone else keeping silent,” she wrote. “I don’t feel like my input is valued, and I don’t want to be shamed.”

Casey Smith, Acts 29 global content director, mentioned that he had witnessed two instances where Timmis “spoke openly and quite disparagingly” about Americans, American Christianity, U. S. megachurches, Acts 29 Board Members’ wives, and women who taught and led workshops at an Acts 29 retreat.

The staff conclude in the letter that Timmis operates with a “constant need for control, micro managing, lack of trust, and fear based oversight of our staff.” They further complain that Acts 29 had placed Timmis “in a position of unchecked authority.”

Chandler changes story about Timmis’ firing

Further compounding issues with Acts 29’s handling of alleged abuse by Timmis are the two different stories Chandler forwarded about why the board removed its CEO.

On February 4, Chandler sent an email and video to the “Acts 29 Family,” informing them that the board had decided that it was “time for a new season of leadership” and that it was sending Timmis on a “4-month sabbatical and paying him through the end of 2020.”

In the video, Chandler said that Timmis needed a sabbatical “where he can kind of rest and recover. He has wrung himself out for this network . . . So we’re gonna give him a chance to recoup and recover from that.” 

Chandler also praised Timmis and urged Acts 29 members to bless him, noting that under Timmis’ leadership, Acts 29 had grown from 300 churches mostly in the U.S. to 800 churches globally.

However, the next day, Chandler sent a second email, noting that the “issues surrounding” Timmis had “garnered media attention, demanding that we share more specific details about the decision to transition Steve out of the CEO role.”

It was then that Chandler disclosed that the board had received accusations of abusive leadership against Timmis two weeks prior, had launched an investigation, and had “found evidence” that Timmis should be removed “immediately.” Chandler said he was not more forthcoming initially because of “legal ramifications” and because “employment decisions involve real people” the board members “love deeply” and “for whom we continue to pray.”

Steve McAlpine, who said he had connected with the fired staff six months ago, said he found Chandler’s words and actions to be disingenuous. “The fact that you eulogize (Timmis) one day and then the next day say he abused people—and then you say you found out two weeks ago when it was actually five years ago” is problematic, McAlpine said.

Allegations that led to Timmis’ firing came from within Acts 29

In the CT article about Timmis’ firing, it states that 15 people who served under Timmis told the magazine about a pattern of spiritual abuse by the former Acts 29 CEO. However, according to CT reporter, Kate Shellnut, as well as McAlpine, the allegations that led Acts 29 to remove Timmis apparently came from within the organization, not from those whose experiences were reported by CT.

McAlpine said several of the fired Acts 29 staff contacted him after reading a series of blogs he had posted recounting his negative experience with Timmis and bullies in the workplace. Also contacting him were people from the UK and other countries who said, “My goodness! This is what happened to us!”

Steve McAlpine

McAlpine said he and some of the others shared their experiences with CT.

But according to Shellnut, she had not yet contacted Acts 29 for comment when the board voted to remove Timmis on February 3.

After the February 4 announcement, Shellnut said she reached out to Acts 29. It was then that she learned that the allegations were coming from people currently within Acts 29. She said everyone with whom she had talked prior to this point was either connected to Timmis’ church, The Crowded House (TCH), or were former Acts 29 folks.

“So I do see the Timmis decision as independent,” Shellnut said, “though the issues appear to resemble the same kinds of things as the TCH and former Acts 29 folks experienced. . . . To me, the fact that they made the decision independently confirms that this is a pattern of behavior and not just these exceptional cases of people having a one-off bad experience with a leader.”

McAlpine said he views the simultaneous revelations about Timmis both within Acts 29 and outside the organization as providential.

“We didn’t trust (Acts 29),” McAlpine said. “We were never going to approach them.” Yet he said he was stunned when within days of the CT article publishing, Acts 29 removed Timmis. “You couldn’t make that up in a movie.”

I reached out to Chandler and Acts 29 specifically inquiring about what prompted the recent investigation, but no one responded.

The former Acts 29 staff member with whom I spoke said he wants to know why the Acts 29 board responded so differently to the recent allegations about Timmis than it did to his and his colleagues’ allegations years ago. “What was different from the accusations we brought? Were they more severe? More well-documented? Was it from someone with more clout?”

19-Page Letter that former Acts 29 staff gave to Matt Chandler in 2015:

2015 Letter

 

Transcript of Chandler’s video announcement about Timmis:

ChandlerVideoAnnouncement

 

First Announcement Chandler sent to Acts 29 family:

First Announcement_Timmis

 

Second Announcement Chandler sent to Acts 29 family:

Second Announcement_Timmis

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53 thoughts on “Acts 29 President Matt Chandler Under Fire for Removing Staff Alleging Abuse & Changing Story About Removal of CEO”

  1. The Evangelical movement is now as corrupt as the Catholic Church. Congratulations all you hypocrites and modern day Pharisees! Down with mega churches and celebrate pastors!

  2. The control of information and people from the entire leadership becomes more clear as information seeps out. The situation with the just fired “CEO”, with a nice severance package, seems not to be limited to a single person but one with the entire leadership system. One would think that previous experiences with Driscoll would serve as a wake up call but since that is clearly not the case, it begs the question about where the issues really lie. Keep digging Julie as there’s certainly more to this story that needs unraveling. I’m also wondering how governance and theological systems play a role in such stories as they seem to be very common in certain types organizations with strong, central leadership lacking in checks and balances. Jesus called leaders to be servants and not to Lord it over people like the gentiles.

  3. Two things:
    1) Can you imagine if Christianity Today wasn’t doing a story on this and pastors, and staff of Acts 29 were left in the annals of history with this video announcement of why Steve Timmis is gone??? Unbelievable. A spiritual abuser would’ve gotten a hero’s welcome all over the place. Unconscionable.
    2) Watch Chandler’s nervous energy in the video….every time he mentions Timmis he fuddles around with his wedding ring. He’s giving himself away there.

  4. Oh, and by the way, Leonce Crump has been under investigation for spiritual abuse at his church. Leonce and Steve Timmis were the architects of the re-org of Acts 29. At Renovation Church, Leonce pushed out the elders who were bringing up accusations of abuse. Time is ticking before that story is told.

  5. I just don’t understand how Chandler could sort of dismiss the 19 page letter 5 years ago as simply a “leadership style” issue. A leader’s style leads to a culture and all these stories scream “bad leader” and “toxic culture”. For these people to put together such a letter and send it took great courage! Everyone involved in a Christian organization will have their own line of where “bad management” ends and “spiritual abuse” begins, but Chandler should have seen the clear writing on the wall here and made sure the board acted on it and either gotten Steve Timmons someone who could better oversee the day-to-day with the staff or replaced him altogether.

    Instead they not only let go all of the Dallas staff (Which may or may not have been the right decision operationally), but they let another 5 years go by of bad management and apparent alienation of those both inside and outside the organization before being forced to make a change by the CT article appearing. Besides being sad, it’s just bad oversight.

    1. It’s possible Chandler dismissed it as a leadership style issue because he saw himself and his “style” in Timmis.

  6. Matt Chandler also defended, protected and idolized C.J. Mahaney even though I sent him thousands of pages of evidence from 2013-2019 regarding Mahaney’s heavy handedness, deceit and the conspiracy he managed that covered up the sexual assault of young men and sexual abuse of children in Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries starting in 1980. Thank God that evidence has finally prevailed. Scores of national leaders that practically worshipped him, now see through him. The same should happen with Chandler. He too cannot be trusted. Timmis should have been removed long ago just like Driscoll should have been removed long before he was forced out. None of these men meet the character qualifications in Scripture for leaders.

      1. There are no consequences because there is no accountability… Acts 29 members and their churches should focus on Acts 15. Any ecclesiology where there can be no binding resolutions and discipline is not a Biblical ecclesiology.

  7. I used to listen to Chandler until he gave that interview for HBO where he said homosexuality wasn’t God’s best for people. It was a politicians response, and he said Obama was a great president. How can you say that about a president that joyfully praised Planned Parenthood. Now this… It truly is sad.

    1. Josiah, I hope that Julie Roys’ investigating report isn’t to difficult for you to understand and comprehend. May I highly recommend that you pick up at the supermarket’s checkout the National Enquirer. This highly acclaim magazine is more your speed. There are many pictures, large fonts are used, the fluff articles are very EZ to read and using one’s brain is not necessary. A book report is not needed.

    2. Serving Kids in Japan

      A “real job”? Like what, do you propose?

      Do you mean one in which Julie struts onto a stage once a week in skinny jeans, and bloviates for an hour on end? Then leaves surrounded by security personnel, completely insulated from the pesky concerns and questions of pew-sitting Christians, while claiming that she’s “ministering” to them? All whilst demanding absolute and unquestioning loyalty from all those around her?

      Oh, wait, Julie can’t do that. She’s a woman. That “real job” is only for the manliest of men, like Driscoll, Timmis and Chandler.

      Too bad. I guess Julie will just have to go on being a journalist.

  8. Serving Kids in Japan

    Thanks for your follow-up to the CT article, Julie. This provides important background, and fills in a lot of detail.

    “Bristol added that Timmis said, ‘Don’t speak poorly of me to anyone, just like my wife wouldn’t say anything negative about me to anyone.’ ”

    Am I the only one worried about Timmis’ wife now?

  9. One of the characteristics that Acts 29 looks for church planting is an entrepreneurial aptitude This is found on their videos on the characteristics of a church planter. Unfortunately, Jesus never used this word to describe Christian ministry. When Christian ministry is run to protect the stake holders,rather than being authentic, disaster is around the corner.

  10. Yet another dysfunctional 501(c)3 corporation parading as a Christian church network. Considering who created Acts 29 I’m not really surprised about this news. I pray that God continues to raise up truth speakers who expose the wolves in the midst of the flock.

  11. No confusion as to why believers might consider home churches. Trend line: Mega church – Mega Pride/Mega Greed/Mega Power. Sick of the pride, deceit, coverups.

  12. Not that Hockett

    You all make me sick. Hockett you are the worst. You all sit and point fingers and judge motives… at what point did any of you die on a cross and the rise from the dead to earn that right.
    Pathetic. Try looking in the mirror before you call someone else a Pharisee. Are any of these men perfect? Nope. But does that give you the right to do anything less than restore them gently lest you yourselves fall into sin?
    In the words of our Savior, “you brood of vipers. You white washed tombs. Which of your moms shagged Satan?”
    And yes, those are all the words of Jesus to those who considered themselves religious and placed themselves in judgement over others. You are a disgrace to the name of Christ.

    1. Not that Hockett,

      I don’t understand all the details of this situation. All that I have read is the article, the 19 page letter the staff wrote in 2015, and the recent public announcements. I’ve never been to an Acts 29 church much less present at the meetings. What concerns me is what looks like the overlook and coverup of the 2015 19 page letter of concern laid out and posted here and that it looks like nothing was done about it. Do you have board meeting notes to suggest otherwise and the concerns and issues involved? If there are no board notes I have to go with the view that it wasn’t taken seriously and there was a coverup. Secondly, why does this abusive leader deserve more gentle correction than those who wrote the 19 page letter that were supposedly treated with ire when they went through the right channels to do things? Why didn’t they afford the same gentle correction?

    2. I speculated as to why Chandler may have branded Timmis’ abuse as a matter of “leadership style” rather than call it what it was. All of us are sometimes blind to the sins with which we ourselves struggle. There is also unquestionably a “bromance” culture among some high-profile Evangelical leaders in which they promote one another’s platforms, yet are loathe to call each other to account, when necessary. If this doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what to say.

      No one is expecting or demanding perfection. We’re taking about years – in some cases, decades – of abuse that has gone unchecked. It’s public knowledge – reported even in the secular media (NYT) – that Matt Chandler mishandled abuse at The Village. He dismissed whistleblowers and protected an abusive leader at least twice (i.e., MacDonald, Timmis). Those choices had real consequences.

      I have no idea “where” these men are in their relationships with God. Determining whether someone’s actions are right or wrong – including other believers – is a duty, not an option. It’s the sins – & covering of the sins – of these leaders that have disgraced the name of Christ.

      What’s your real name? Do we know each other?

      1. “ There is also unquestionably a “bromance” culture among some high-profile Evangelical leaders in which they promote one another’s platforms, yet are loathe to call each other to account, when necessary. If this doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what to say.”

        Sucky a good point. And sadly the sheeple sit by and find this OK.

        Matt Chandler has been able to talk his way out of things before so sadly will Probably be able to do it again but let’s hope not.

      2. Jessica,

        Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

        Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2

        Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11

        Peace

    3. To “Not that Hockett”. This wouldn’t be James MacDonald speaking to us under a new alias would it?

      Irregardless, if you wish to rebuke Jessica or anyone else about their lack of gentleness you would gain more traction if you simply quoted the Bible and let it stand on it’s own. Mixing your own crass angry words with those of our sinless savior Jesus does not advance your cause. In fact, it comes across as blasphemy.

      There is a way to be delivered from the burning anger you feel toward Jessica and others who expose the deeds of darkness. The way is Jesus. He has power to deliver you from that inner rage and to set you free from the unwholesome talk which proceeds from your mouth. You can turn to him at any time and he will deliver you if you truly repent.

  13. I am not really interested in being drawn in to a ridiculous argument by a shill of a disciple of a unorthopraxis Phariseeical “church” network, I will say this much about the the Acts 29 tree and the fruit that it produces, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matt. 7:15 Let be obedient to the explicit teaching of Jesus here. All else is pure b.s. According to Jesus His holy angels are preparing to cut this thing down and throw it into the fire. Matt. 3:10 and others

    Jesus words about the Pharisees are still alive and speaking to us today with our current crop of Neo-Pharisees like Chandler, Timmis and Driscoll, “Woe to you, teachers of the law (Acts 29) and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” This verse is particularly fitting seeing as this concerns the overseas “church” planting network of teachers of a law that makes their followers into serfs who either obey without question or are mercilessly whipped. To call this institution “Christian” is pure blasphemy and disregards most everything Jesus Christ actually plainly taught…

  14. It is interesting to see what gets approved and what gets deleted on here. I saw a post earlier today that specifically called out this blog and cited sources for inaccurate and biased reporting.

    Now it’s gone… “things that make you go hmmmm”

    MisterJesperson makes me laugh …. out loud…. proverbs has a lot to say about the futility of correcting a fool, so I will chose to overlook his ignorance … but not before I laugh silently to myself and say a prayer.

    1. Insulting posts by anonymous trolls who use as their alias the negation of a real person with the guts to use her name will get deleted. I left “Not That Hockett”‘s first post up only because people had already commented on it. But if you’d like to comment further “Life of Brian,” please use your real name.

    2. Trolls got to troll. You laugh at Jesus teachings? I have experienced hell myself once. It remains the most real experience I have ever had. We lack the fear of the Lord in our generation. Trolls are the worst. You need to repent and get a conscience about what is right and wrong. Being a narcissist will just earn you an eternity of torment. “TheLifeofBrian” says alot about you. I agree with Julie if you want to be a jerk, at least have the courage to use your own name…

      1. So let’s talk facts for a minute. Just for kicks. Since I doubt anyone will actually get to see this.

        1. The word prejudice comes from the Latin words prae and Judicio which means to “prejudge”

        I would assert that that a high percentage of this blog and the comments are written with extreme prejudice.

        Please don’t misquote me or take my words out of context (something that this blog loves to do… examples will follow). I am not a fan of JimmyMac or of sexual perverts or predators. But when I was a little kid in junior church they taught me that a good counterfeit mixes in an occasional truth. So simply because there is an occasional truth in a post does not condone the shoddy, inaccurate and biased prejudice that is demonstrated here on a regular basis.

        And I’m not even going to call out the childish name calling (trolls) or the passive aggressive accusations (rage) or the fact that “Satan” is a regular contributor to the comments sections…. I’m curious is that an unnamed spouses way of getting involved? Wait, I unfairly named a name again and made an unfounded accusation through innuendo. (Forgive me for the pointed irony and the making of a point through satire).

        2. Mrs. Hockett in response to your question about whether or not we know each other: it betrays your inner sense of decency that you would ask that question. Somewhere inside of you there is a value (albeit hidden) that someone shouldn’t point out inaccuracies or inconsistencies or our own hypocrisy unless they have a relationship that would afford them a closer relationship than the one that you share with those you accuse on a regular basis (whoops, sorry, I meant to say than you and I share… but you get my point). Inside something feels wrong about someone calling you out in a public form rather than meeting with you face to face, particularly if they have a relationship with you. Otherwise it just feels like slanderous conjecture… hmmmm… something to think about before your next post perhaps.

        3. Regarding the comment of Acts 29 and skinny jeans… well… I’m going to comment on this simply for fun. Your ignorance betrays you. Acts 29 members regularly mocked the skinny jean crowd. Realize, I’m not defending them. I’m just accurately stating the facts. Something that to be fair, I’m going to say you have little of. Because if you can’t even mock the accurately for whether they are supporters of skinny jeans, well, let’s be honest. How can we trust any of your other accusations to be accurate.

        But for those who are still ready (if this post is allowed to stay up) 🤷🏼‍♂️

        4. Lets talk truth claims vs facts. Mrs Roys claims in her bio that she is “intellectually rigorous” and parents an “uncommon truth.”

        But then again materialists claim that the earth is 6.8 billion years old and we all know that they make that up too.

        The irony of that claim and the “articles” on this blog is that Mrs. Roys counts on her audience not fact checking her stories.

        In January there was a “bombshell” revelation that Franklin Graham had a large salary. Something that I hope the sponsors of this blog realize was first reported by the Charlotte Observer in August of 2015 and was not the “work” of an investigative reporter. But she did the minimum and linked to the original article.

        However it was inaccurate and biased in the misrepresentation of the facts. The actual story was about how Graham didn’t want a salary. He didn’t take a salary. And his goal for retirement t was to work without a salary beginning at the age of 70. Given that at the time the article was written his father was 97 and still alive I would think that seemed pretty noble.

        Particularly since the article stated that Graham had not been paying into his retirement. He had not even been taking a salary. He had zero involvement and influence over the board. It was the board who insisted that he take a salary. It was the board who had waited until the economy improved to basically fund his retirement account.

        Now considering that Graham has a goal of working for free and using the financial principles of the Bible it was actually a wise move for the board to the board to temporarily fund his retirement t in that way. Particularly since a Simple VanGuard index fund has been averaging over 20% the past few years. In the long run, Graham is actually exercising better stewardship of Kingdom Resources. But not only was none of that included in the article but it was conjectured that he was somehow greedy and running a behind the scenes scam. Yet, the story was 4 years old and he was quoted as saying, “I know how this looks and it makes me uncomfortable, I would work for no compensation if I could but the board has stated that they want to ensure their CEO is compensated.” Realize this statement is after several years where he took zero compensation.

        5. That is just one instance. There are many more. I hesitate to go on but I will highlight one more.
        In an earlier article (accusation) about Matt Chandler. This blog has accused him of not caring. The commenters if this blog accused him of living in an ivory tower.

        But when I read the article the facts begged to differ. The facts of the situation were that someone sent a correspondence to several mega church pastors accusing James MacDonald. And only one responded. Quite appropriately given the situation at the time. But did the blog name those who didn’t respond?

        No. Rightfully so. Because no one knows if they ever even saw the email. Odds are that sort of spam never makes their inbox. But the one pastor who thoughtfully responded (albeit in a manner that was unsatisfactory to the blogger and those who joined the lynch mob by commenting) was dragged through the mud.
        Ironically, it seems like his only error was being forthright and thoughtful and actually responding to the second inquiry. Something that again he did not need to do. Double standard?

        I would say yes. So much so that the charge against him of being uncaring or aloof doesn’t even make logical sense.

        And people wonder why I would not want to use my real name on a blog that reflects such a low standard for “uncommon truth” and “logical rigor.”

        1. Thanks for using your name, Graham.

          Public figures and events are subject to public discussion, both on a comment board and elsewhere. I made clear that I was speculating as to the reason that Chandler dismissed Timmis’ abuses as a leadership style and stand by my comment as reasonable conjecture. I’m a fan of people sharing their opinions in response to facts reported on blogs — even opinions I disagree with.

          Take care.

        2. Graham,

          Your comments #1-#3 are just opinions about people who comment on this blog, so there’s not really much in there that begs a response. Although, I will say that I became lax on monitoring comments here because I was buried in reporting work. From now on, “Satan” will not be allowed to comment. I don’t want this comment section to be a place for satire or attack. I want for all of us to engage respectfully and seek the truth together.

          As for comment #4, it’s rife with falsehoods. First, you imply that I tried to mislead readers by implying that I had initially reported the “bombshell” of Franklin Graham’s large salary. You write: “I hope the sponsors of this blog realize was first reported by the Charlotte Observer in August of 2015 and was not the ‘work’ of an investigative reporter. But she did the minimum and linked to the original article.”

          I actually did much more than link to the Charlotte Observer, I wrote: “According to the Charlotte Observer, Graham’s 2013 salary for Samaritan’s Purse alone ($622,000) made him the highest paid CEO of any international relief agency in the U.S. at the time.” So I was very clear where that information came from.

          You also accuse me of manipulating the facts to make it look like Graham was greedy, when you say he actually gave up his salary. It is true that Graham gave up his salary from BGEA for a year after it was reported in 2008 that his combined pay with BGEA & Samaritan’s Purse was $1.2 million. He also reportedly gave up payments from the BGEA to his retirement fund.

          But the suspension of Graham’s BGEA salary only lasted a year. And in 2011, the BGEA board resumed paying Franklin a six-figure salary, according to the Charlotte Observer. And in 2012, BGEA resumed paying into Graham’s retirement fund. (In 2014, the payment just for retirement and benefits was an additional $109K.) In 2015, it was reported that Graham made $880K in combined salaries. Currently, we don’t know how much Graham makes because BGEA has declared itself an “association of churches” so it doesn’t have to report executive salaries anymore.

          Also, it is true that Graham said he resumed taking a salary from BGEA and six-figure payments into a retirement fund because of urging from his board. However, it should be noted that a number of Graham’s relatives are on that board and Franklin Graham is chairman of the board.

          Regarding comment #5, I have never accused Matt Chandler of not caring. That is an opinion and I don’t put my opinion in news pieces. However, I did report that Chandler responded to a plea for help in exposing James MacDonald in 2012 with a negative response–not only would he not help, but Chandler said he would do all he could to oppose the bloggers exposing MacDonald. I also included Chandler’s explanation for his 2012 response. You are welcome to interpret those facts in any way you wish. But please, do not make false accusations about my reporting.

          1. Thank you Ms. Roys for telling people to use their real names. If is worth pointing out that the individual who went by “LIFEOFBRIAN” now gives the name “GRAHAM CHAPMAN.” Graham Chapman was the (now-deceased) Monty Python troupe member who played the lead role in the blasphemous film “Life of Brian.” You are not communicating with a sincere individual here but with a prankster who is eating up your time. Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:6 comes to mind. God bless you.

  15. I am also wondering if the same type of leadership style that was uncovered in Harvest Bible Chapel has bled into the Great Commission Collective…

    1. Granted, I am just one person (two, if you include my husband’s experience, as well) at one church in what is now the Great Commission Coalition, but… YES.

    1. “Satan”… I don’t want the comment section on my blog to include satire accounts. It’s just too easy for the conversation to degenerate into attacks on those with different opinions. Would you please comment using your real name? Thanks.

  16. Several Things:

    -First, I am greatly disheartened by the insulting comments being posted here, they are not God honoring or appropriate. We can strongly agree or disagree without being insulting and taking anonymous cheap shots.

    -Second, we should be grateful for Julie’s willingness to report on the issues with today’s evangelical church using carefully researched information. Remember, she lost her job because of courageous reporting. How many of us would be willing to take that risk?

    -Third, the time has come for the evangelical church in America to abandon the mega church model/evangelical celebrity culture and return back to the days of strong local churches, led by God fearing pastors who clearly taught the Bible and genuinely cared about their congregation. Such pastors labored faithfully, often for very modest pay, in churches with good checks and balances for both paid and lay leaders, so that no one took undue advantage of their position. I grew up in such a church, and I will say without hesitation that churches like this were strong beacons of light in their communities, exerted a strong influence for God and the Bible, commanding the respect even of those who strongly disagreed with the church’s biblical stands.

    – Greg

    1. Paul,

      I’m a bit disheartened that you thought you needed to point out the obvious to Julie. She is a fine example of an investigative reporter and I’m sure that she totally caught the “easter egg” in the post from “Graham Chapman.”

      I for one can personally vouch for her skills. Though she may not remember we worked together on a project many years ago. So I’m sure that didn’t slip by her.

      I’m a bit concerned by the allowance of “wild honey” though. I’m not sure if she is simply a child of the 70s or if she is trying to communicate something else.

      Greg, I appreciate and empathize with your defense. And by no means am I defending unchecked or unbiblical leadership in a large church, But I can’t help but question whether the problem is the size of the church. Were the “good old days” really that good? I mean wasn’t that the generation of churches where out of 1,147 counties in the USA that not one of them (not a single one) grew or even kept pace with population growth and the percentage of individuals attending their collective churches?

      I’m not sure that model returned us to the book of Acts either.

      Just something to consider before you make a generalized statement against a generation of pastors and their families who sacrifice more than most of us could ever realize simply because it is a simplistic (nostalgic) argument.

      But it’s cool. I gave many years of my life in service to our nation to defend the rights of people like you, Paul, Wild Honey, and Graham Chapman to get on your phone and use your thumbs to publish your thoughts and opinions.

      Semper Fi

      1. Somehow I did not post my previous answer correctly, so will try again.

        I talk about returning to churches like we once had not for nostalgia, but because churches like that, which still exist, were effective in their communities without the high expense and lack of accountability too often found in the megachurches.

        Likewise, it was not my intention to make a general statement against a generation of faithful pastors. Quite the contrary, I feel those are the type of pastors we need: They teach scripture faithfully, do not desire fame, serve their congregations well, are effective in their community, but unfortunately are often not paid enough. In short, they better exemplify the biblical requirements for leadership, which many of the megachurch pastors (and other large ministry leaders) do not. We are better off paying local pastors adequately and spending money locally, than sending it off to megachurches in the form of membership fees, sermon purchases, and other resources, only to have that money squandered on deer herds and whatever else.

        Likewise, the biblical model for church growth is church planting and evangelism, which is the focus of the kind of churches I am speaking of.

        I have seen first hand the damage caused by the megachurch, big facility, no one dare disagree philosophy, and how much it crippled a once very strong church in it’s community. There was nothing about the model employed there that was God honoring, or effective.

        I am sorry my previous comments did not come out as intended and were misunderstood.

        – Greg

  17. Greg,

    While I appreciate your efforts and your tone I need to respectfully challenge you in your continued confusion between models and motivation.

    To your credit, inspite if it’s logical inconsistencies, your post is one of the first sincere posts that is actually worth responding to on this site.

    For that reason, it will be my second to last post, but your efforts invite me to believe that a response may actually be worth my time.

    Your confusion is that while your personal experience may be that you were hurt by a mega church, another individual may have been hurt by a smaller under resourced church.

    The problem isn’t size. The problem is that both models are led by fallible humans.

    Paul (not the one on this blog) notes to the Corinthian church that they should be wary of creating hero’s. He named himself as one they had created. Does that make him evil? Is he responsible for their sin? Should we call his motivation into question? Was he trying to make a name for himself?

    In his words, “h-ll no” (sorry my greek is rusty so I will use the accurate English translation) 😂

    There can be a failure of leadership in a small church due to lack of accountability and a poor leadership pool just as much as their can be manipulation in a large church.

    Case in point, just read yesterday’s headlines of the SBC church. There were only 80 members, and the entire board knew. So was it size or sin that caused the problem?

    I don’t have a problem disagreeing with anyone over an opened handed issue. I don’t have a problem gently rebuking a heretic over a closed handed issue.

    I take issue when ignorance is fueled by pain which has fostered self righteousness.

    It is easy to submit until we think we are justified in our position. There is a lot of justification occurring in comment section of this blog. But truthfully that is not a surprise because a student will become like their teacher.

    I will make one final post but then I will retire from this blog.

    Mike

    1. Mike:

      I was not hurt by the megachurch, just observed what happened to the one we were married in. Certainly problems can occur also in a smaller church, but having been on the board of one, I can attest corrections are much easier to implement, and there is more involvement and knowledge of what is happening, whether good or bad, and the congregation can more easily hold leadership accountable, whether they be pastors or laymen.

      I stand by my assessment that problems in that particular church were caused by the philosophy pushed by the megachurch movement, and adopted by the pastor at that time, who also removed from leadership any lay people who questioned the wisdom of changes being implemented. The end result was a much weaker and less effective church, which was the point of my posting.

      Not quite sure what you mean by confusion between models and motivation. My point is the megachurch model, as often promoted and practiced in America, is a flawed model that has caused more harm than good, and all too easily lent itself to the excesses we have read about on this blog. It too often was motivated by greed and excess, rather than strong preaching and teaching, and literally sucked millions of dollars from small churches in the form of membership fees, studies, conferences, etc. to support the high spending of leaders. I would list Granger, Harvest, Saddleback, and Willow Creek as examples of my point. Some of those may have improved now, but in the past represented the problem I have described.

      – Greg

  18. I was planning on writing this post later. After my response to Greg had a chance to be read.

    But I am just going to complete the journey now for the purposes of my own mental health.

    I started following the blog prior to this one awhile back. It was called the elephants debt.

    The writers of that blog need to be commended not only for their content but for the way they communicated. They did not write from a place of self righteousness, or arrogance or pain that was masked as innuendo.

    They performed a service. Kept people update and restrained themselves from tainting their task with their own agenda.

    Did they have an agenda? Absolutely. But did they go about their agenda following biblical principles? I believe their reputation over time proved they did.

    Julie, I am sorry for the pain that MBI caused you. But in spite of you deleting my previous urgings to you, out of concern for you and those you influence, my professional opinion and recommendation remains the same.

    Jessica, rather than get myself in trouble with my opinion about you, I simply addressed you sigh the words of Paul to a young pastor that he was mentoring… it is ironic considering that What Paul was warning him about may as well have been the equivalent of a couple of women writing a blog in Ephesus. If it was not so painfully accurate it would be humorous. But I digress.

    To those who comment here out of their deep pain.

    Honestly, I feel your pain. I share your hurt from ungodly leadership. I have served in the churches both large and small and have studied Scripture and evaluated modern applications both out of personal interest and for personal healing.

    To those who have been using this blog or other venues to spout feelings, emotion, and pain that has been suppressed, I urge you to forgive and move on.

    Stay away from places like this where the enemy will rekindle your pain. It will not give you the freedom that you long for or the fulfillment you deserve. It will only feed and fester what the writer of Hebrews calls a root of bitterness. And result in more bondage as you get mired in the past rather that flourish in the future.

    I hesitate to write on because of the track record of deleting my posts and that my ultimate request will be the deletion of my entire footprint from this blog.

    After reading the elephants debt for numerous personal reasons and admiring Ms Roys earlier stands against MBI and HBC, I started following this blog.

    But there was a notable difference. It soon became obvious that while the other blog retired after the “mission was accomplished” and they quietly returned to their lives, that ms Roys now was faced with a deadly combination.

    She was hurt.
    She no longer had the platform to use her skills.
    She had a lot of time on her hands.
    She needed a job and due to her previous actions was quite unemployable.
    And she felt justified in her anger.

    The tone of this blog began to be quite colored by those 5 things, but I made the mistake of continuing to read. I confess i behaves like a gaper on 290. As much as I wanted to “drive by” from time to time I slowed down to look.

    There were many posts where I believed that the “reporting” seemed shoddy and bias was revealed but Proverbs says only a fool gets into someone else’s argument so I stayed out.

    But I continued to read.

    And eventually I could no longer stay quiet. The slander and hypocrisy that was not only growing but condoned was too much. The faulty logic and arguments fueled by limited experience rather than theological or even intellectual truth were multiplying.

    So I responded and became a fool. But not the good type of fool that Paul calls himself in Corinthians. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    My Confession.

    There is zero way that I would trust my real name on a blog like this.

    So like Mark Twain I used pseudonyms.

    Life of Brian was correctly called out as an attempt at humor. Because in my mind there really isn’t a difference between that movie and this blog.

    Graham Chapman was a direct dig at Julie and her “investigative skills”

    I made it as obvious as I could. All she needed to do was google the name, but whether it was laziness or arrogance she didn’t.

    Paul, the character he is credited with in Life of Brian was the unseen friend of Pontius Pilate who I will not name. That was a direct reference to how I felt about my own behavior by posting the blog. And was also a sarcastic jab.

    Finally, Mike Walker. Was a jab at both Julie and Jessica.

    Honestly, I don’t believe there can be an argument made that can separate conjecture as it is used by Ms Hockett and the biblical definition of Gossip.

    Google the name Mike Walker and you will learn that in addition to being a gossip columnist with the National Enquirer, he was a regular guest on the Howard Stern show. Known for his two truths and a lie sketches (seemed appropriate) and for an audio file that was played regularly of a time he got caught on an open mic relieving himself flatulating. Since I believe there is a lot of hot gas expelled on this blog and by the two aforementioned individuals it seemed ironic and appropriate.

    Please note that before you judge my character. I do not nor have I ever watched, listened to or read LIfe of Brian, The National Enquirer or Howard Stern.

    I simply investigated and Googled AND tried to make them as obvious of Easter Eggs as I could.

    Although in full disclosure on the last one I used a bit of deceit behind the scenes with the email address that I chose. I had already surmised that Julie was not the rigorous investigative reporter she claimed but I didn’t want to make things too easy for her. After all, She does claim to be rigorous.

    But in the words of another commentator I realized that I need to take my pearls of wisdom and insight and go home because when you wrestle with pigs it is difficult not to get muddy.

    Since I desire to follow the words of Paul to Timothy I respectfully request that you respect my desire and request to remove all of my previous posts so that I can separate myself from this blog.

    I am purposefully using the email for a previous pseudonym that only Julie would know in order to validate that request is coming from me.

    I realize that includes this one but honestly, writing this was as cathartic as it was for the benefit of anyone else.

    Sincerely

    Muddied Waters
    (Get it?) 😂😂😂

    1. Mike,

      If you find an error in my reporting, please be specific and name it. So far, all you’ve done is judge my heart and motivations–something I don’t do because Scripture is clear that only God knows the heart. You’ve also engaged in a lot of name-calling, either about me or my work. That’s really the lowest form of argumentation and something I don’t engage in either.

      If you don’t have any specific error to point out, please stop spewing on my site. I have important work to do and figuring out your sophomoric psuedonyms does not interest me in the slightest.

      As for Jessica Hockett, her comments are her own and not a part of my reporting (other than one piece in which she was cited as a source). But jabbing at her is not appropriate either.

      1. Wow Julie,

        I confess that I have been a fan but that was hardcore throwing Jessica under the bus like that.

        I never took you as the type of person to distance yourself from a friend.

        “Mike” (whatever his name is) did not really call names. I think he brought up some valid points.

  19. I have to agree with Hannah.

    Mike brings up valid points. You allow the people who comment on your blog to use soph psyedanyms if they agree with you.

    What is worse is that you allow them to make random accusations like the one where Matt chandler is secretly living in homosexual sin. At minimum that is guilt by association but since it is your blog then it is your responsibility.

    Dawn M

  20. Just waking up. I have been following this thread.

    I am surprised that you think what you do is worthy of comparing yourself to Nehemiah.

    Really????

    N

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