If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever." GK Chesterton link
Plenty of room for the new Christians (Seats)
Last night, as I talked with a thoughtful, soft-spoken former member of Countryside, I was struck by a thought. Where is the Acts 29 leadership in the midst of this? They make many claims of support on the website but, when something bad happens, they appear to take a powder. It appears that they continue to promote the pastor involved. What is the motivation behind this? Darned if I know but they must like the guy if he is on the website.
This sort of a situation cries out for leadership but the leadership is publicly silent. Folks, be sure to remember this when your church gets involved with Acts 29. You may find the vaunted leaders of this network missing in action when a screw up occurs.
I was impressed by the demeanor of the gentleman who spoke with me. When he learned of our widespread readership, he asked if I would use a pseudonym for his name. He said that everyone in Michigan City will know who he is as they read this. He answered my questions graciously, in a matter of fact, unemotional manner. In fact, he was calm even when he told me of the "plundering like Moses" incident. That incident will cause most of you, including me, to choke on your coffee.
As of now, we plan to continue to outline the story for our readers today, Friday, and Monday. On Friday we shall address the "elephant in the room." Since the two of us hold MBA's, we view this as a case study, the basis for many MBA classes. On Wednesday, we will review the pertinent facts with an eye to helping our readers to be wise as serpents when confronted by similar organizations and actions. Next Friday, we plan to do a TWW Tutorial in "How to read a website for red flags." I think my old professors would have a huge smile as I apply B school analysis to church successes and failures.
So "Buck," as I shall call him (great idea, Deb), and I discussed a number of issues that I shall present separately. He hopes that his experience will help others.
Buck was involved with the finances of the church. He is a businessman with a great deal of experience. He wrote a letter to the church, in response to an article in the local newspaper. That article, which has already been mentioned, is titled Countryside to *celebrate* new name, location link. As you will see, it was hardly a celebration.
Countryside was the biggest church in Michigan City at the time of the Acts 29 conversion.
Michigan City, Indiana, according to the 2010 census, was a town of 31,479 people link. In its heyday, Countryside reportedly had an attendance of over 1000.
The *metrics* of the decimation
In his letter to the church titled The Rest of the Story, Buck outline the *metrics.* 2008 was the year that Galloway took over the reigns and the decline happened immediately.
- 2008 837
- 2009 657
- 2010 530
- 2011 312 (when the letter was written) with an expected continuing decline
Yet Acts 29 stresses the high success rate of their church plants.
Mark Driscoll said of Acts 29 link
For those planters in Acts 29 who had been assessed, approved, and have become full members, the viability rate is 98.4 percent.
On the current Acts 29 website, they tout link:
97.9% Planter success rate
Since Kevin Galloway is still listed on the website as a church planter, I would assume that he is included in that success rate. So, this raises a question. What in the world is considered a success? If this is it, then I think Acts 29 needs to take another look at their criteria.
People jumping ship is to be expected.
At Acts 29, they say that church planters need to be prepared for people jumping overboard link.
Once affirmed, lead fearlessly through the rough waters, people jumping overboard, sea sickness, and mutiny among the crew. Many people (including leaders and even spouses) will become disoriented, discouraged, and dissenting. Lead the body patiently, lovingly, but firmly – just as Jesus would. But don't lead fearful of losing popularity, friendship, or a comfortable, secure job
If you complain about the takeover, then you might be compared to a hungry lion. From the same article:
Follow God's calling even if it threatens being tossed into the lion's den (Daniel 6). God will shut the mouths of the hungry lions (and disgruntled members) if He is calling you to replant a missional church for His glory.
Basically, you are expected to put up, put out and shut up as the church is essentially decimated. Such language on the Acts 29 website is ill advised and, unfortunately, show with whom their sympathies side. It is not with the people, but the planter. Remember this, folks.
Binny's Beverage Depot Update: Does Acts 29 really need booze for their boot camp?
Buck informed me that the $288 charge for Binny's (which he refers to as a liquor store) was for an Acts 29 Boot Camp taking place in Chicago. He said he thought that Galloway was the one assigned to bring the drinks which were charged to the church. This raises an important question. Is the purchasing of liquor on the church dime for the consumption by the Acts 29 boot camp boys now a requirement or strongly encouraged?
Another church plant failed prior to the start of the all new improved version of Countryside.
According to Buck, during the time period prior to the church name change, another church plant, started by Galloway in Valparaiso, Indiana, 24 miles away, failed. This church met in a rented hall which was inexpensive. However, Galloway reportedly insisted on renting in office in the area which was quite expensive. Questions were raised about the wisdom of this decision.
Acts 29 demands that current churches in the network plant other churches. It appears that Galloway was gung ho to do so, even though the main church was in a nosedive. Buck explained that the number of attendees at the plant were artificially inflated. Galloway reportedly counted the people from Countryside who would go with him to the meetings on Sunday evening. Therefore, people who were members of Countryside who came there in the evening were counted twice. Buck said that even the children were counted as well.
Kevin Galloway's salary, perks and charges
Buck reports that Galloway's salary was $60,000 plus another $50,000 as a housing allowance which allows for a tax deduction. After he became the head pastor, he also insisted on a $840/month whole life policy as well.
The median household income for this area is $48,669 link Without taking into consideration the tax benefits of the housing allowance, Galloway was earning 2.3x the average income for his area while he was driving the church membership into the ground.
As the church credit card got maxed out, Galloway claimed that he had inherited the maxed out card from the previous pastor. However, Buck said that the church had always paid off the card's monthly balances since the pastors only used the card for expenses such as mission trips, etc. Oddly, on this card were charges for things like @$20,000 in office furniture, a nice bike and eyeglasses.
The church building is lost to foreclosure: Did you know that because Moses plundered the Egyptians, we can plunder our churches?
In 2011, Buck states that only 147 tithing families were left and some of those were also planning to jump ship. So, the church mortgage, which was easily handled in the past, could no longer be paid. In addition, the church credit card was maxed out at @$40,000. Buck says that Galloway continued to blame his predecessor. Unfortunately, the day arrived in which the remaining little band of church replanters could no longer manage the mortgage and they defaulted. The bank took possession. Did you know that banks are "foreclosing on churches in record numbers?" link
Darned funny thing happened. We had been told previously that everything inside the church that was not bolted down was removed by Galloway and the remaining church members. Now, I do not know much about defaulting, so I asked Buck the following question. "When you default, are you not ethically supposed to leave the contents of the facility there so the repossessor (the bank) could attempt to recoup some of their losses?"
Buck said that he thought so as well. He reports that Galloway gave a sermon in which he implied that since Moses was told by God to plunder the Egyptians when they left Egypt, that Christians can do the same thing in this sort of circumstance. I started coughing and laughing at the same time and asked him to repeat what he had said since I could not believe it.
Buck said that, in response, the pastor and members removed everything that was not bolted down which included a range, refrigerator, tables, chairs, sound system, computers, etc. I do not know if this is legal in Indiana but I do question the ethics behind the decision.
Was Galloway just channeling Mark Driscoll who also admits to stealing link?
“Our church services started to stink a whole lot less. We scraped together enough money to buy some big honking speakers, and I stole an unused sound console from my old church along with a projection screen, which were sins that Jesus thankfully died to forgive.” (Confessions, p.62)
We never paid for electricity in our office apartment because the building was illegally hooked up to the power grid and all our power was stolen.” (Confessions, p.125)
Digression: does anyone know if Driscoll ever made restitution for the above?
Name change from Countryside to Christ Church.
Acts 29 recommends a name change when replanting a church link. However, from what I read, this is when a replant takes over a failing church and wants to rebrand itself as young and hip. In this instance, Acts 29 took over a healthy, vibrant church and drove it into the ground.
Let's take a look at how Galloway represents himself and the church he led into the ground. All comments are from this link at Acts 29 which continues to feature Galloway as a "certified" Acts 29 church leader.
1. It was their members of the formerly successful church who were to blame since, of course, Galloway knew the correct changes to be made and they, the great unwashed, did not.
The biggest challenges faced were that of folks resisting changes to an established 30 year old church. Many of those folks ultimately left to attend churches that offered them more of what they were used to
2. They needed room for new Christians. (They sure got it-the building was empty!)
thus making room for people coming to faith for the very first time.
3. His advice for new church planters which he should have taken himself.
"Are you confident in your calling and has this calling been affirmed?" If not, run away because this role can kill you, your marriage, and the church you are trying to lead.
4. He believes his church decimation is a sign of God's grace.
We've been through so much as we have led Countryside through deep change. In that, we have lost friends and relationships. God has provided so much strength and grace to lead us and confirm God's calling in our lives. He has surrounded us with wonderful elders and staff to partner and endure with. To be honest and not cheesy-Acts 29 is an evidence of that grace.
Buck claims that over 70% of the former membership are still worshipping God but in different churches. In other words, the replant didn't get rid of deadwood but vibrant members of the body of Christ who, in spite of Galloway's measures, continue to serve Him even while they mourn over the loss of their church which was well known and respected in that community. On Friday, we will continue to explore this story in more depth.
Update 12/11/13 10:30PM EST TWW has left a message for Kevin Galloway at his church, offering him an opportunity to respond to this series.
Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 19:1-21:17 Galatians 2:1-16 Psalm 59:1-17 Proverbs 23:13-14