Guest Post: Open Letter to Julie Roys

By Paul Lundquist
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Yesterday, Paul Lundquist, a former linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators who now works at a chemical factory in the Chicago suburbs, wrote a stunning open letter to me. His observations about the state of the evangelical church are profound. And whether you agree or disagree, I believe Paul’s thoughts are worth considering–not just for me, but for all of us. So, with his permission, I am publishing his open letter here. Paul, I thank God for you. I said it during my talk at RESTORE, but it bears repeating. God is raising up an army of Davids to take on the Goliath of  the evangelical celebrity machine/industrial complex. You, Paul, are one of those Davids.

OPEN LETTER:

I thank God for you.

Your work exposing evangelical corruption is a godsend. May God prosper your ministry. I want all Christians to read your blog and follow your updates and listen with rapt attention to the talk you gave at Restore Chicago.

I know you have paid a heavy price investigating sin in churches like Harvest Bible Chapel and Willow Creek and in institutions like Moody Bible institute, Liberty University, and the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability. And I know that this work came to you unbidden, that it is endless till Christ comes, and that you will need a special measure of grace to endure in tasks that, by the mercy of God, will lead to reform.

So thank you, I thank God for you, and I pray for you.

You have better things to do with your time than read the musings of a pastor-turned-manual-laborer on the evils besetting local expressions of Evangelicalism. But even if this essay never reaches your eyes and is only skimmed by a few friends of mine, it still seemed right to address it to you.

After missionary work in Colombia with Wycliffe I pastored two Chicago-area dying churches that ultimately failed. Many pastors here can tell you that, broadly speaking, when people left our churches in the 1990s they went to Willow Creek, and when they left in the 2000s they went to Harvest Bible Chapel (or to one of those churches’ satellites.) In smaller churches these people taught Sunday School or played the piano or served as deacons, but at Willow Creek and Harvest they typically sat in the audience and watched the show. While that sounds harsh, I’m afraid I know whereof I speak and can cite examples.

In smaller churches these people taught Sunday School or played the piano or served as deacons, but at Willow Creek and Harvest they typically sat in the audience and watched the show.

Willow Creek and Harvest imploded over the last year or so as the appalling behavior of their celebrity pastors Bill Hybels and James MacDonald became known. But these megachurches had been undermining other churches too for decades. As recently as two years ago a former elder at the small church I attended openly criticized the pastor and left for Willow Creek, and an influential deacon advised the pastor to listen to a message by James MacDonald to know what a good sermon sounded like. That deacon left too. The pastor is a friend of mine, and he is godly, humble, soft-spoken, wise, and theologically astute and orthodox. But as numbers dwindled and offerings declined the church let him go, and now he struggles to find a career. I offered to get him in at the chemical factory where I work, but he said he will need to make more money than that to support his wife and three young children, and I’m sure he’s right.

Church death and ministerial failure (I don’t mean moral failure but just the mundane failure to make a living) are complex phenomena with multiple causes that are all subject to the will of a sovereign God. That said, it can still be fairly observed that anyone who tried to pastor a church in the Chicago area in the past 30 years felt the influence of Willow Creek and Harvest like the manager of a Mom-and-Pop store feels the influence of Walmart and Amazon. Two near-orbiting energy-draining black holes.

(A)nyone who tried to pastor a church in the Chicago area in the past 30 years felt the influence of Willow Creek and Harvest like the manager of a Mom-and-Pop store feels the influence of Walmart and Amazon. Two near-orbiting energy-draining black holes.

I don’t mind the collapse of some churches and the growth of others as long as the gospel is faithfully preached and the spirit of Christ is earnestly manifested in the lives of its proclaimers. But such was not the case at Willow Creek and Harvest. I heard enough of Hybel’s teaching to perceive that the center of it was not Christ crucified but “Leadership” (or, more cynically, “Power and Influence”). With MacDonald it was simple greed and self-promotion.

But even where the preaching of these two men sometimes got it right, their personal lives were hopelessly corrupt. Both men lied, constantly, for years. Hybels seduced or tried to seduce multiple women – even to the point of deliberately alienating them from their husbands, and MacDonald’s hostile aggression makes the word “bullying” seem too mild a term for it. While allegations that MacDonald tried to hire an assassin on two separate occasions have yet to be confirmed by police, the character of MacDonald as revealed by intimate acquaintances renders these charges disturbingly credible. When confronted and exposed, both men denied everything, sought to discredit and destroy their accusers, and to this day have refused to repent, submit to discipline, or even acknowledge wrongdoing in any substantial way.

So let us think the unthinkable. The two largest and most influential churches in the Chicago area were led, for decades, by unregenerate men – damned souls, enemies of the cross of Christ who masqueraded as Christian brothers and in so doing sucked dry legitimate ministries and gave despisers of the faith a reason to scoff.

So let us think the unthinkable. The two largest and most influential churches in the Chicago area were led, for decades, by unregenerate men – damned souls, enemies of the cross of Christ who masqueraded as Christian brothers and in so doing sucked dry legitimate ministries and gave despisers of the faith a reason to scoff.

It may be objected that I dare not judge the hearts of men, and that I cannot set myself up as the arbiter of their eternal destinies. Fair enough. Hybels and MacDonald do not answer to me. To their own Master they stand or fall. Someday they and all other fallen preachers like Ted Haggard and Mark Driscoll and Perry Noble and Tullian Tchividjian – along with the rest of us – will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and render an account of deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. The prospect of standing before Jesus fills me with hope because of his mercy but also with dread because of my sin. Outraged righteously indignant accusers like you and me must ever look first to ourselves.

But Scriptural warnings not to judge lest we be judged (Matthew 7:1), to consider ourselves lest we also be tempted (Galatians 6:1), and to take heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12) must be weighed against companion Scriptures that say we will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16), that we are to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1), and that we must hand wicked professing Christians over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20) and refuse to sit at the same table with them (1 Corinthians 5:11). Among the reasons why “reconciliation” with Hybels or MacDonald is wrongheaded is that until these men acknowledge that they are not Christians (as Joshua Harris did), or repent, then fellowship with them is forbidden in the strongest terms. A couple months ago James MacDonald was welcomed into fellowship and allowed to teach at a retreat of New Life Covenant Church. By welcoming MacDonald, New Life Covenant revealed itself to be a fake church, and true Christians must flee it.

New Life Covenant says that it has 17,000 attendees.

In any institution or assembly there are always a few people whose behavior cries out for judgment, and recalcitrant transgressors must be fired, excommunicated, exiled, impeached, imprisoned or what-have-you. No community has ever been free of lethal contaminants. Even Jesus had Judas among his 12 disciples. But it seems that there is a certain point, a critical mass of corruption, beyond which you can no longer pick the few bad apples out of the barrel but have to start over with a new barrel. In 1900 engineers reversed the course of a Chicago River that had made a sewer of Lake Michigan and filled the city with stench and disease – but in 1986 no one could decontaminate Chernobyl. That city had to be abandoned in haste. I wonder: Is the state of evangelicalism today, in the form practiced by its biggest churches, more like Chicago of the 19th century or Chernobyl of the 20th?

But it seems that there is a certain point, a critical mass of corruption, beyond which you can no longer pick the few bad apples out of the barrel but have to start over with a new barrel.

I myself am as much a product of Chicago-area evangelicalism as anybody. My parents met and married at Moody Church, and I studied Bible at Wheaton College and ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Though I’m no expert in anything and have never gravitated toward the center of any circle of influence, perhaps I’ve been around long enough to gain some sense of the spiritual landscape in the sector of Christendom with which I have been most closely associated. There is no escaping the conclusion that it’s just bad around here, really really bad, catastrophically bad, and the need for reform is critical. Though Hybels and MacDonald are gone, for example, their infection remains and their stench lingers. Anyone with biblical discernment who reads the Pastoral Search document that Willow Creek put out to find Hybels’ replacement can only shudder and say, “Oh for goodness’ sake, Willow Creekans, didn’t you learn anything?” And though MacDonald has rightly been fired and declared unfit for ministry, we still have not been entirely relieved – as you well know – of greedy belligerents who flourished in his shadow. Reform efforts remain compromised, and we’re still slouching toward Chernobyl.

There is no escaping the conclusion that it’s just bad around here, really really bad, catastrophically bad, and the need for reform is critical. Though Hybels and MacDonald are gone, for example, their infection remains and their stench lingers.

I conclude my cup-half-empty lament with four items of input. For what they’re worth.

1) Keep slamming corruption.

The work seems endless and hopeless, the bailing of a vast sea with one little bucket. But it must be done. For the love of God and for the sake of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, it must be done. Every variety of ministry has its soul-wearying elements, its temptations to forebear – but it seems that the ministry of prophetic whistle-blowing is especially prone to them. You succeed in cutting out a tumor only to find that it has metastasized. You uncover so much wickedness that you teeter on the edge of cynicism and blanket distrust. You come to doubt yourself and your own worthiness to critique (which is a good thing, but still unsettling to experience and a potential silencer of righteous rebuke.) Your mind becomes so occupied with the muck of corruption that you find yourself gasping for spiritual air – as C. S. Lewis did when he wrote The Screwtape Letters and observed, “It almost smothered me before I was done.” But we’re all glad Lewis persevered through that dark cloud and finished the work. As God so calls you, do likewise. Do not grow weary in well doing.

2) Pray for cleansing and revival and reformation, and push for it in public prayers.

Of course, this should go without saying. But I have been to enough evangelical prayer meetings and read through enough evangelical prayer lists to note with despair that they typically contain little more than references to physical ailments (“So-and-so is getting a hip replacement on Thursday”). So the prayers for renewal must be made deliberately. Urge them. By God’s grace I’ll do so myself tomorrow when my Sunday School teacher asks for prayer requests.

3) Do your part to dump the megachurch multisite model.

I do not believe that evangelicalism per se is irredeemable. I am, and will remain, an evangelical Christian because I believe that the traditional evangelical understanding of reality is true, and evangelicalism’s interpretation of Scripture is best among the varying traditions of Christendom. I respect but dissent from the decisions of friends who got fed up with evangelicalism as they experienced it and fled to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.

To me the crisis of Western evangelicalism lies not in its traditional theology but in its de facto ecclesiology. A church is a gathering of God’s people in Christ, not a stadium with a star celebrity whose gifts and charisma attract a crowd. Megachurches of this model are seedbeds of spiritual corruption. Flee them. Never attend a church where the pastor lives lavishly, publishes (that is, has ghostwritten for him) bestsellers, leads cruises, gets interviewed by Oprah, has the ear of a president, or projects his image onto a screen so casual attendees in the attached coffee shop can catch the wave of his spiritual energy. How many of these celebrity shepherds have to be unmasked as frauds before evangelical sheep will realize that the system is unbiblical and corrupt? I will state the matter with unapologetic boldness: All multisite megachurches are spiritual Chernobyls. Evangelicalism is redeemable but megachurches are not. Run away. Attend a church where some humble, unassuming servant of God preaches verse-by-verse through the pages of Holy Scripture.

A church is a gathering of God’s people in Christ, not a stadium with a star celebrity whose gifts and charisma attract a crowd. Megachurches of this model are seedbeds of spiritual corruption. Flee them. 

4) Listen to D. A. Carson’s message, “Leaning Forward In The Dark”

This last one is oddly specific. Go to YouTube and listen to D. A. Carson’s message “Leaning Forward In The Dark: A Failed Reformation. Nehemiah 13.” I do not know any better guide to the perils involved in seeking renewal and reformation among the people of God.

Paul Lundquist works at Flavorchem in Downers Grove, IL, and occasionally guest preaches in churches. Years ago, he worked as a linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He is married and has two children and three step-children.

Below is D.A. Carson’s message, “Leaning Forward in The Dark: A Failed Reformation. Nehemiah 13.” I agree with Paul that it is an excellent message for any of us seeking reform the church. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12:

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62 thoughts on “Guest Post: Open Letter to Julie Roys”

  1. When Christ returns for His Church, He will Not be coming for a muti site campus nor will He be coming for a small single site campus, No….He will come for His CHURCH, all PEOPLE who have put their Faith in Christ and Have been born again …No Buildings no Clubs,no Worship centers.only people…..people who have been regenerated By Christ himself….some of those people will have attended a mega worship center, some a small little country worship center, and some Just met with other believers in their homes…we as believers Must reassess what the CHURCH is because it ain’t a place it’s a people….plain and simple….building up the CHURCH is building up the people that make it.

  2. I agree w/ Paul to commend Julie in her investigating reporting, some of his personal thoughts of the evangelical church and Dr. Carson’s message which I viewed for the entire hour and was truly blessed. I do take exception that he labels himself as a manual laborer rather than a factory worker. For us that do manual labor, there is no shame. (Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…. Col. 323). Second, to say ALL megachurch multisite model is wrong is to throws out the baby with the bathwater. Locally, we find the Orchard in Arlington Heights and Wheaton Bible Church ( where my sons attends) as exception to your statement. Thirdly, you mentioned that you pastored two dying churches that ultimately failed. Please do not take this personally and it is not a reflection of your spiritual gifts and pastoral skills. But if the first church failed, there should have been some lessons learned to develop and grow the second church. Lastly, someone email both Bill Hybel and James McDonald the link to Dr. Carson’s youtube video. As TIU and TEDS grads respectively, they should be reminded that there should be no arrogance at the side of the Cross.

  3. William Oris – It is interesting that you bring up the case of God removing candlesticks in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself made threats against five of the seven churches. He praised just two of them. I encourage everyone to study what actually happened to those towns to see what Jesus actually meant by removing those candlesticks. Of the five that were told to repent how many still exist today? Zero. God removed the candlesticks alright. Over the centuries one by one each town was totally destroyed. It was not just the churches that ceased to exist. The whole town went with them. These should be sobering facts to us because we have churches that commit the same high treason as each of these towns. We have no fear of God in this age which has produced Christianity lite instead of light. And look up the two that were praised. There are still churches that exist in those towns all these centuries later. And the towns around them are prosperous, even under the power of Islam.

  4. I applaud the good work you’re doing, as well, to uncover the garbage that goes on in many churches and organizations. I fear what we experience today is the fruit of many decades of values centered on numbers, success, strong personality driven leadership and a business model which I believe Jesus condemned when He said: “It (leaders acting as lords) shall not be so among you. But I also have to agree with the comment from GJ that you simply cannot throw out every multi-site megachurch. There are remarkable exceptions to the writers “rule” that they are headed over the edge. There are hundreds, even thousands of small churches where dysfunctional and toxic leadership has prevailed for decades. The answer is never models, the answer is in character transformation, in servants (not in first order “leaders” but servants) who minister to God’s people in the power and showing forthe the Fruit of the Spirit.

    Any church, organization, school or Christian-led business with Christlike servants at the helm, no matter their size, who focus on Christ’s commission of making disciples (not on “bodies, bucks, buildings or busy-ness”) will bear Christ’s fruit — personally and in the lives of others.

  5. Is there data to support the idea that megachurches are more prone to scandal than smaller churches? I’ve attended smaller churches most of my life, and they were not scandal-free. Small church scandals dont make national headlines though.

    I think this is right on the money in terms of megachurches turning congregants into audience members though.

  6. What is up with all you people. Is it not bad enough the the entire country is so polarized on every issue. Now we are going to debate and polarize some more on the size of a Church. How incredibly sad that Christians are making such a circus about such an issue.

    It is a simple equation. There are Christians sitting home , just them and their Bible and connecting with the Lord. There are Christians doing the same thing in giant Churches and small Churches. I agree with the few people who have said a Church is made up of people , the building that hosts that worship is nothing without the people, and the number of people worshiping together should make no difference either. And as far as who is leading these Churches and any correlation to bad people leading big Churches is hogwash. The last time I checked Jesus has not come back yet and is preaching at some Church, although based on all this discord I wish he would get here soon and slap us all up side the head for such foolish debates among God’s people. All Churches big and small are being led by HUMANS , who all have faults and weaknesses. Remember the Good Book says NO ONE MEASURES UP, although based on this litany of comments there are some amongst us who clearly think they do.

    We should be rejoicing for every Christian in every church no matter what size, and if there are bad Pastors , Elders , or leaders in any size Church we should weed them out. But remember that they will face judgement from the One with a lot higher pay grade than us and our indignant righteous opinions.

    I commend Julie for doing just that, bringing their deceit out into the light of day. But beyond that effort we should not be disparaging Churches of any size who are bringing the Word to the masses. I frankly wish that every Church grew to be a mega church. The world would be a better place than this constant division we now face every day.

    PS : Spend more time praying and less time pointing fingers and even blogging !

    1. I believe you hit on the central problem, “all churches are led by HUMANS.” This has resulted in the enthronement of an unbiblical priesthood, controlling, ruling, governing His Body. Somewhere along the way man inserted himself into a leadership position within His Body and added Titles and Offices, with salaries, compensation packages, etc. Within a 5 mile radius of my home there are over 60 systemized church bodies with human leadership leading some group of believers, called the laity, operating under some human programming model. Very often that model is: short opening prayer followed by 3-4 songs, a few announcements, an offering taken, and a teaching that occupies the bulk of the time, dismissal. There may be some prayer but rarely is this anything more than Pastor led and non- participatory. A Bulletin is often handed out to insure all aspects of the “service” are controlled and go off without a hitch—- so the next “service” starts on time. It is all so explainable, ritualized down to a formula. I completely agree HUMANS are running the show and that’s a huge problem. I believe Christ is to run the show under the Agency of the Holy Spirit, but as long as we usurp His Authority, inserting an intermediary priesthood called the clergy which Hebrews says He no longer recognizes I believe the human systemized church is under judgement. One either finds freedom in Christ OR they get imprisoned in a system of men. These observations have come about over 6 decades within that religious system.
      One other point: as a religious system grows more HUMANS are needed to set the proper controls. So mega means lots of humans needed to keep a lid on things. When I see any church, mega or otherwise I ask what’s the attraction? Is it the technology, the programming, the aesthetics, the Pastor, the beautiful building, the praise music, the social interaction, the prayer, etc. or is it the Presence of Christ. Is He the One being glorified or is the idol called the Program that is worshipped?
      Often, sadly most of the time, it is entertainment and theater choreographed by a human production team. I have found that mega churches become mega churches because they are good at giving people what they want versus what they need. I’m not questioning anyone’s heart or their individual walk with God who may be a part of the religious system because I was a part of it, but I do sense that judgement is upon that “system” itself. As long as HUMANS glory in themselves and what they can produce there’s a big problem.

  7. While the author certainly has his valid points, his is the kind of letter written with heartfelt emotion and righteous indignation that is better off consigned forever to an envelope in the top drawer of his desk.

    1. I strongly disagree. Lundquist has barely scratched the surface of the corrupt, broken and anti-biblical “church” model.

  8. Powerful blog post. Thank you for posting thought-provoking words from Paul Lundquist.

    So much good material here…..so much depth.

  9. “The prospect of standing before Jesus fills me with hope because of his mercy but also with dread because of my sin. Outraged righteously indignant accusers like you and me must ever look first to ourselves.”

    I really like that this man said this. I have been active on watchdog blogs for a number of years now, and I find that this is the biggest problem with them. The evil that they call out is real. But if we never stop long enough to look in the mirror and see what is wrong with us, we just end up being brass cymbals. And the bloggers blind spots are the greatest threat to their work on their own blogs. It is true for each of us that our own sin is our own greatest enemy and threat. When we lose sight of that then we are headed for a crash with no one else to blame but ourselves.

    Regarding the criticism with the mega-church model and structure, I agree with it. They need to cease to exist in their current form. All of them. But I know that that does not go far enough. Ninety percent of Christians go to non-megas in the U.S. The whole structure of our 501c3 system needs a drastic overhaul. Jesus ordered us to make disciples, and not merely converts. The current system is very, very good at making converts who become bigger hypocrites over time. Jesus ordered us to teach those to obey everything He commanded. The current system is based on western lecture form of teaching instead of apprenticeships. The lectures have made us into greater hypocrites and spiritually lazy overall. We need something that produces very different kinds of fruit. Those that think we overall are pleasing to God our self-deluded. Just read about what Jesus’ Church is supposed to look like and do. We do not look anything at all like that. Boz was right about the church being sick. And it is not just the SBC but pretty much all of the denominations.

  10. Another exception to refute the author’s statement in the Chicagoland area is New Life Community Church w/ 27 satellite sites. Dr. Mark Jobe is the founding pastor and president of MBI. He was able to grow a church plant in the heart of Chicago. God will do great things in the city of Chicago through both large and small churches; Church leaders must shepherd His Flock as true servants and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry to grow His Church and His Kingdom.

    1. Re: New Life…check back in 5-10 years from now.

      IMHO, the franchise/multi-site model will not survive this generation.

  11. As someone who has attended very small churches of a few dozen, all the way up to large churches of a few thousand, let’s not completely discredit those who go to large churches to “watch.” You don’t know their story. Several years ago, I moved from a very small church to a larger one, because I was doing so much work that going to service had felt like another job. I could barely sit to listen to the sermon, or someone had to come chase me down to give me communion, as I was literally working the entire service (babysitting toddlers, prepping hospitality for post-service fellowship, making sure the teens are lined up for their part of service, etc). It was an “all hands on deck” church, which taught me a lot about serving, finding my gifts, and how we are ALL the body of Christ. But after a few years, I needed to STOP and go be ministered TO for a while. So I moved to a large church (with plenty of ministries, and, more importantly, plenty of people to support them) with the goal to just ATTEND and ENJOY the worship. It was nice to be able to take part in the entire service – from praise and worship to prayer and communion – without someone tapping me every 10 minutes because I’m “needed in the fellowship hall ASAP.” I grew a lot. I learned that both experiences contributed to my understanding of why we are ALL called to serve (not just the ministry staff) and to make sure that the ministry staff in my church is also being ministered TO.
    So let’s be careful about making presumptions about those “watching” service.
    I look forward to watching the video. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt letter.

  12. A well written letter. The Walmart / Amazon concern does have some merit in terms of impacting surrounding smaller churches.

    Take for example Jr. High and Senior High ministries. Many evangelical churches will typically have a pastor dedicated to those ministries.

    So would the typical evangelical American teenager rather go to a group with 150 kids or to a group with 7 kids…. yup….. you have your answer on why megachurches are crushing small churches….

  13. It’s not the model of church that’s the problem. It’s the people in the church. “All have sinned and come short”. The best we can hope for from any church or leader is less sin and lesser harm. Looking for perfection? Good luck.

  14. The problems the author cited with multi-site, bestselling, celebrity pastors can be reduced to a simple phrase – selfish ambition. And what does James say about selfish ambition? “Wherever you find selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.”

    The point was not, as someone suggested, “Don’t go to a big church, go to a small church.” It is true that small churches can have ambitious, power-hungry charlatans running the show. That’s why the author said, “Find a church with a humble, godly pastor.” Not merely a “small church.”

    This is a universal and fundamental characteristic of fallen human nature – to be elevated and aggrandized in the eyes of men. The temptation in the Garden was, “You will be like God,” and that temptation has driven men in their pursuits ever since.

    I have yet to see one megachurch or multi-site in the contemporary, 21st century vein that was not constructed on the shoulders of a man seeking to build and rule over his own petty kingdom, and a congregation that was satisfied with Christianized self-help pablum and platitudes.

    You’ll never retain a permanent audience of thousands or tens of thousands by consistently preaching repentance and the carrying of one’s cross daily as a condition of discipleship. You’ll never keep the ear of the multitudes by preaching, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” And by that, I do not mean the externals of social justice and community service that have become so popular, or a kind of general obedience to God that costs us a little bit. I mean the inward decrease – where self is utterly dethroned and God is given the place of absolute Lordship and prominence and glory. The place where all our ambitions, plans, hopes, and dreams are put to death…crucified…in favor of giving the Spirit free-reign to set the entire agenda for our lives.

    Thousands followed Jesus…until John chapter 6: “‘This is a hard teaching. Who can hear it?’ And from that time many turned back and no longer followed.”

    It comes as a real surprise among many of the aspiring “called of God” to find out that the Spirit is not the slightest bit interested in the inflation of their names and reputations (egos). As a perceptive person once said, “God is more interested in winning all of you than you winning all the world for Him.”

    Does God never elevate a man’s name to a place of prominence? Indeed, he does. But you can count on this – God made sure the cross had dealt with his ambition first. If it hasn’t, they might have a name, but it was not a name God gave them. If God promotes a man, you can be sure that man is past caring about his own promotion.

    How can you tell? The surest way to know is to look at how much any “man of God” is doing to expand his own “ministerial footprint.” How much self-promotion. How much spending. How much building. The prophetic man whom God raises up does none of those things, because he doesn’t care to gain or retain any of it. Whatever “fame” he achieves is going to have to be solely of God’s doing, apart from any effort or strategy on his part, and he’s entirely content to fade back into obscurity at any time.

    John the Baptist did not “network,” or “work his plan,” or launch funding drives, or hold Monday morning “strategy meetings” with his disciples to build a ground-shaking revival ministry. He was hidden away until the day of his calling forth, and he just appeared on the scene out of nowhere. His star burned white-hot for a very short time before he faded back into obscurity. And he accepted this fate willingly. “The bridegroom has arrived, and my joy is complete. It is time for Him to increase. I must now decrease.”

    “You know, so-and-so has counseled the president ten times.” To quote Leonard Ravenhill, “Well, I can tell you what – John the Baptist wouldn’t have gotten back in to see the president a second time.”

    This rank ambition driving Evangelicalism has to fall. All this strategizing and building to grow the “vision” of men who are really motivated by nothing but a worldly and carnal desire to expand the influence of their own names and bank accounts.

    Many of us have seen ministers leave a present church or ministry for another opportunity “under God’s leading.” But how many of us have ever seen “God’s leading” take them into something smaller? Something that was a step backward in every respect, from a human and worldly way of assessing it? If you’ll think about that for just a minute, you’ll find it very revealing about what is driving most of them.

    It’s enough. We need to stop feeding it.

  15. I want to echo the thanks to Julie Roys here. You’ve been exemplary and godly in your revelations of how the church has behaved. We’re seeing the same things in our own situation, as the Acts29 network and TCH seek to regain control of the narrative. Keep on keeping on.

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