The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.-Pope Francis link
Fall colors as viewed from space-NASA
In our blog travels, we have neglected a growing and successful movement known as the ARC (Association of Related Churches) We touched on a scandal last year involving Dino Rizzo and his paramour. Within that story was an interesting statement which should have caused our antennae to vibrate. Dino Rizzo was spirited away by *the Overseers* (Doesn't that have a Stargate feel to it?) Chris Hodges, one of the Arc's leaders, had this to say to Rizzo's old congregation at The Healing Place.
So, who is this Chris Hodges and why should we trust him with the Dino and Delynn Rizzo comeback tour? From the Apprising Ministries link above we read the following statement to the Healing Place congregation by Chris Hodges
“I know you want more than what’s being said here today — but can you be OK that the seven of us (overseers) know?” Hodges asked. “We’re going to take care of them and we’re going to take care of you. Trust me.”
Here are the questions we should have explored more deeply at the time.
- What is the ARC?
- Who are these overseers and why are they in charge?
- Why did Hodges keep the details from The Healing Place congregation who had provided very, very well for Rizzo's lifestyle?
- Is this a hyperauthoritarian movement? How much do these overseers get paid?
- Why were they brought in to consult on Steven Furtick's compensation since Furtick's church is not a member of the ARC?
- How do the overseers and local pastors maintain control?
- Why did Mark Driscoll flee to the comfort of Robert Morris, a big cheese in this ARC community?
- What do they believe?
- Are they Reformed?
Over the weekend it hit me. Here is a massive movement that mimics the control of the Calvinistas yet is definitely not Reformed in their theology. Finally, a series that could silence our critics who contend that our only interest is in tearing down the Reformed movement. However, as a counterpoint, there are a couple of bloggers out there who claim we are closet Calvinists!
The ARC has many churches and is growing rapidly.
It is an increasingly large association of churches that somewhat mimics Sovereign Grace Ministries in their oversight but it is bigger and continuing to grow quickly. Unlike The Gospel Coalition, there is actually oversight of these churches from ARC central. In my opinion, the organization appears to provide even more input than the Acts 29 network. However we are just getting going and my opinion may change over time.
This is not a small time enterprise, folks! Go to this link to see the numbers of churches involved. I found that there are about 4 churches within easy driving distance of my zip code.
In other words, in order to more fully understand Morris, we must understand the mother ship. Here is a link to a description of some services they provide their member churches. It is worth noting that the ARC provides money to plant ARC churches and, if numbers are any indication, they have been successful in that endeavor, rivaling any organization out there, including the SBC.
The ARC hierarchy is a closed system.
In other words, there is much that is not communicated to the members. My guess is that they will not be thrilled with TWW opening a window into the organization. When we wrote about Dino Rizzo, we received a phone call from an alleged, anonymous "pastor in the ARC" who berated our expose of the Rizzo situation in such a lengthy manner that it took him two phone calls to fully record his tirade.
We will do our best to "stick to the knitting." All source information will be confirmed with links to actual documents and videos so that our readers can make up their own minds about the expressed beliefs, practices and leadership of the ARC.
Some commendable aspects of the Church of the Highlands.
In the interest of full disclosure, Dee has attended several services at Church of the Highlands. Chris Hodges is an engaging speaker who verbally expresses his love for both his family and his church. The main Highlands campus has an incredible set up to care for children with special needs. More churches should imitate their commitment in this area.
They have also set up a Dream Center to care for the medical, physical and spiritual needs of the poor and disenfranchised in downtown Birmingham. Again, all churches should emulate such concern.
the Dream Center campus is home to a 16,600 square foot medical clinic. We have partnered with Christ Health Center in developing a state-of-the-art primary care, dental, counseling and pharmacy operation with the potential to serve more than 30,000 patients annually.
Now, for the rest of the story…
I believe that an in depth look into this association will take quite a few posts. We intend to do as thorough a job as possible. At the same time, we will be covering a number of other stories in evangelical firmament. Do not assume that we are finished unless you see "The End." In other words, we will hop in and out.
We are rather excited about this series because it will cover issues surrounding church structure, leadership, demonology, charismatic practice and belief, authoritarianism, wealthy pastors, dominionism, and exorcisms. We will explore their belief in generational curses as well as the belief that demons can be in charge of cities,countries, and rooms in a house. They also contend that Christians can be possessed which should raise a whole host of fascinating questions.
Some believe that Mark Driscoll will align himself with this group via Robert Morris and set up a church under the oversight of this organization. SGM first integrated charismatic worship with Neo-Reformed beliefs and one of its founders, CJ Mahaney, became a mentor to Driscoll. Driscoll also presided over demon trials which were studiously ignored by his fan boys in the Calvinista circles. Perhaps they thought it was just some charming quirk like cage fighting? Now, it seems like they should have paid more attention.
The Church of the Highlands (COH) Prayer Force Training Leaders Guide link
A copy of this was sent to me by an alert reader who has been following *all things ARC.* This document is chock full of information that is helpful in understanding their beliefs and organizational hierarchy. Frankly, some of it was eye opening. (My poor husband, trying to get some shut eye last evening, kept getting disturbed by me yelling "Listen to this!") I have a copy of it in case it should suddenly go dark.
Here is an overview of some of the beliefs and practices found in the first half of this document. The word that comes to mind is:
1. Miracles, healings and deliverances (from demons/curses/oppression) and getting rid of demonic strongholds should be commonplace.
We will flourish and see souls added daily, miracles, healings, and deliverances if we take the time to go through seasons of planting, watering, pruning, and storms as the plantings of the Lord in His house. (P.3)
…honing our prophetic gifts by following great prophets, or confronting demonic strongholds in our city.
2. Submission to the pastor is absolute and expected.
…We willingly submit to our pastor and desire to serve him.
…It takes faith to follow and support our pastor because we don’t know where the wind of Spirit has come from or where it is going, but we are asked to follow a human being who is dependent on the Holy Spirit for direction and success. (P.3)
3. The congregation provides a covering for the pastors.
… In submission, faith, and humility, we lay down our own agendas and become watchmen for our pastors and the ministries that they oversee. (P.4)
4. Satan mainly targets pastors.
…satan (sic) prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. His main target will be our leaders because of the influence they have. (P.4)
5. The ministry at COH will be greater than the ministry of Jesus
… Jesus wanted our ministry to be even greater than His own ministry while He was on earth. That’s why at the end of His time here, He willingly gave His authority to human beings and said, “Go!” (P.5)
6. Looking happy brings people into the church.
…Pastor Chris has said, “I just want to make sure that as we grow we never leave the simplicity of having a place where people can breathe, where the gospel is positive and life-giving, a place where the lost will say, ‘I don’t know if I believe what you believe, but you guys look happy.’ (P.6)
7. COH must grow.
Highlands should never become so seeker sensitive that we forget how to win the lost. Because of the reality of heaven and hell, growth is not an option – our church must grow. There are 6.6 billion people on earth, 2.1 professing Christianity and 4.5 billion lost people (P.7)
8. The main goals of small groups are to confront and admonish one another. Every member of the church must join one. (Ed. note-Sounds like a blast.)
… Then, we as the church must admonish new believers. This means we warn them of sin and the need to change. This happens best in the safety of a few people. The deep and confrontational part of Highlands where we learn to take up our cross and get the junk cleaned up out of our lives happens most effectively in a small group setting. It’s there that we get real and honest and get the accountability that we need. Life Groups, in particular, are small groups designed to help people close the door on yesterday. The vision of Highlands is that every member be connected in a small group. (P.7)
9. COH has been specifically called to provide leaders to the world.
Highlands has a unique and specific call to be a training center – a factory – to release many leaders, church planters, worship pastors, and youth pastors. Pastor Chris has a vision to train up the best and the brightest to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission. (P.8)
9. The pastors are special recipients of God's grace.
We as Highlands intercessors will have Pastor Chris, each of the other pastors, and the church staff always on our agenda as targets for God’s blessing and favor. (P.9)
10. God's presence is conditional based on the actions of COH.
We do what we do for one primary reason: we want Him to be with us even until the end of the age. We don’t want to ever see a Church of the Highlands without the presence of God. But His presence is conditional – always pray that we stay on point to proclaim, admonish, teach, and perfect. (P.9)
11. The vision must never be questioned.
Allow them to challenge the process (not the vision). (P. 10)
12. COH does not exist for the people present but for those to come. (Readers: think about the Great Commission.)
God, please continually remind us that Church of the Highlands doesn’t exist for those already here, but for those who are not yet here. (P.13)
We are going to stop at this point because we now get into the area of demonology and charismatic giftings. There is some fascinating stuff to come on Wednesday.
This Prayer Force document is targeted to the leaders of the church who have decided to be COH intercessors. I have been trying to figure out why the idea of miracles, deliverances, etc. is mentioned up front (and then again later in the document) and followed by what appears to be a pastorcentric view of the church.
One thought is that they believe that nothing in the miracle/deliverance area happens unless everyone is fully submitted to serving the pastor and his vision.This could have some interesting implications for the pew sitters. Could it be that miracles only occur when the pastor is served? Imagine how that could be used to keep the unsuspecting flock in check.
Lydia's Corner: Genesis 18:16-19:38 Matthew 6:25-7:14 Psalm 8:1-9 Proverbs 2:6-15