Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is a name we’ll hear a lot of over the next few days. His revivalist megachurch in Tampa, Florida chose to have church on Sunday and apparently it was packed. He claimed it was the safest place around and they would never close because “We are revivalists and not pansies.” The crowd cheered. I couldn’t believe it when I saw pictures of their church opened, and then was shocked again when a group text of mine (mostly pastors) posted an article sharing that Howard-Browne had been arrested. My friends and I talked for a bit about whether he should have been, with good arguments on both sides. However, I thought I’d share three reasons why I believe he should have arrested A misdemeanor for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency order.
Category: The institutional church
The thing about Glass Door and Indeed and these reviews is that the companies can’t touch or edit the reviews. They don’t have the control over those employees in those ecosystems, so they can get a bad reputation quickly from treating their employees poorly. By the time I found the site and the reviews, Next Level Church had found Glass Door, began to understand the ramifications of these new sites and their reviews, and then asked their current employees to write an honest review on those sites.
John Crist recently became another in a long line of famous Christian men who found their career and reputations destroyed by a serious breach of ethics. He’s not even the first comedian to hurt the name of Jesus with his actions.
The thing about expectation is it is often not rooted in love, but in pride. I expect you to live a certain way or believe a certain thing or walk a particular road, not because I love you and it’s best for you, but because of the pride I have in my own heart that would be embarrassed if you took a certain path. After all, I influenced you and trained you to be a particular person, right?
In the past, I never wanted to be part of a house church. There’s nothing flashy about that. There’s no place in “America’s Fastest Growing Churches” magazine for my little house church. I’d see these large churches with massive buildings and thousands of attendees and thought, “man what a testament to God’s Spirit being poured out.” Until you get involved in larger churches and then realize that most of those people aren’t even followers of Jesus. That was the part that kept nagging at me. All the time and effort (and tons of finances) poured out to grow the gathering but not adding to the Church.
The times in our lives where we felt closest to being the New Testament Church were when we had a small group of people at our home. We broke bread, we prayed, we worshipped, we read God’s word together… we reached out and blessed others… we met each other’s needs. We were a church.
I tell this story because that experience reminded me of one essential, fundamental truth about Western religion, something I’ve tried to keep before me in the years since: Christians can often be the very least reason to consider Christianity.
The church often seems cram-packed full of disproportionately more broken, hypocritical, deceitful, loud-mouthed, ignorant, combative, hateful, and just plain ugly-minded people than one might encounter in almost any other sphere.
And this should come as no surprise. The church attracts the people that know they’re screwed up. People who think they have their crap together find little reason to turn to God. Thus, it might be considered a legitimate complaint for people to say of the church, “Why do I want any part in that? Those people are a mess.”
First of all, here is a brief explanation of mammon for those who don’t understand the term. Both in Matthew and Luke, the writers quote Jesus as using the phrase (in the KJV) when he said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Most modern translations replace the term for money. For instance the NIV says, “You cannot serve both God and money” and the NLT uses a slight variant when Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
Let’s start from the beginning. This Tennessee pastor from ASBC, an “independent, fundamental, King James Only, Soul-winning church” – where when you attend you shouldn’t “expect anything liberal, watered down, or contemporary” – preaches a message against homosexuality, and then Mr. (I’ll not call him pastor from here on out) Grayson Fritts loses his mind and calls for the arrest and execution of those in the LGBTQIA community.
In an age where our president can literally say (or tweet) anything he wants, and people who previously screamed at the top of their lungs for the head of other leadership with obvious moral challenges now defend the current administration with circular, straw man, and every other kind of bad arguments, I know now that the church lives in this same world of unaccountable leadership.