So many people I’ve talked to in some of these churches have said “I saw the pastor do that and I should have said something.”
…Church cultures don’t form overnight and they don’t reform overnight.
-Scott McKnight, Toxic Church Cultures | GRACE Live Conversation | Scot McKnight & Boz Tchividjian
I found both documents to be about what I expected. “The Summary of Findings” could have been called “The Summary of What We Have Previously Revealed” as it broke no new ground. The Board of Trustees, in their Leadership Update of May 22, 2021 stated:
The Board will present the findings to the entire church body, in the spirit of utmost transparency.
Their claim to be transparent rings hollow. In my opinion, the Board of Trustees have been anything but transparent. The format they have put in place for the upcoming membership meetings guarantees them a safe, controlled environment. Questions will be cherry-picked beforehand, allowing them to carefully craft their answers. No provision had been made to field follow-up questions from those in attendance.
In my opinion, the planned public sessions are a continuation of the toxic culture prevalent in The Chapel. Leadership wants you to be well-mannered, mindless giving-units that regularly attend church and pay your tithes, but make no waves and ask no questions.
Below is a prime example of my claim. It was culled directly from the October 1, 2021 Leadership Update.
Submissions are moderated in real time by Chapel employees from multiple campuses. We will use the following guidelines in determining which questions to approve for voting. On Monday morning, we will re- populate any questions submitted in September that align with these standards:
- Ask questions about the facts of this investigation. We will not approve questions that perpetuate unsubstantiated rumors or gossip, or that make assumptions that have not been clarified.
- Tone matters. Any submission that is openly derogatory, harsh, or insulting will not be approved. Profanity and offensive language are prohibited.
- Refrain from making accusations, and do not presume guilt or wrongdoing that hasn’t been publicly clarified. We will not approve questions that accuse staff members, church attendees, or their families of improprieties that do not appear in the Summary of Findings.
- For the sake of time at the meetings, we can only approve questions that pertain to this specific leadership situation. We will not have sufficient time available to discuss questions pertaining to generalized matters of Chapel history, theology, doctrine, finances, membership, etc.
- Statements that are not inquisitive, and simply offer a comment or critique, do not necessitate an answer, and therefore will not be approved for voting.
- Duplicate questions will not be approved. If you have followed all of the above guidelines, and your question still does not get approved, it is likely that someone else has already submitted a question that is too similar to yours.Townhall MeetingsAs a final reminder, we will recap the Summary of Findings and offer additional insight by answering questions we have received through Slido during our series of townhall-style presentations. Choose to attend one of the following meetings, as they will be identical in content and format.
Credible sources have shared information with me that I had hoped I wouldn’t need to write about. I had hoped that with the numerous promises of maximum transparency made by the Board of Trustees they would have revealed this information to members of The Chapel. But after reading the documents of October 1, it has become clear that just as nothing new was revealed in the Summary of Findings, nothing new will be revealed in the upcoming membership meetings.
Over the past several weeks I have seen some hints among Chapel members of what has been revealed to me, so I know word is getting out, but I think it is important that as many members as possible are made aware of what I know.
I have been told that the Green Campus is a very healthy church, both financially and numerically. Tim Armstrong was reportedly jealous of the success Mike Castelli, the lead pastor at the Green Campus was having. Armstrong hatched a plan to “buy out” Mike Castelli. I was not advised how much money was offered to buy out Mike Castelli, but I was told the offer had a “non-compete clause’ wherein Castelli would have to agree to not start another church within 50 miles of the Green Campus. Armstrong’s plan was to remove Castelli and then he would move to the Green Campus, replacing Castelli.
Mike Castelli told Armstrong to go fly a kite. Armstrong then moved to terminate Castelli.
Castelli asked the Board of Trustees for help and informed them of Armstrong’s abuse four weeks before he was fired!
Members should want to know how much money was offered to Castelli, where this money was coming from, and who else besides Armstrong knew about the buy-out offer.
Below is a clip taken from Toxic Church Cultures | GRACE Live Conversation. Listen for this key quote from Scot McKnight – “They (toxic pastors) know that people will trust them, so they take advantage of the trust and as long as they can get by with it, the church seems to be flowing along perfectly.”
Fortunately for The Chapel, they have in pastor Mike Castelli a man who cannot be manipulated through fear or favoritism. Tim Armstrong finally met his match – a man he was unable to control and stood for righteousness.
On Sunday, May 23, 2021, Josh Lough, an assistant pastor at the Akron Campus stated: “Is what is happening to this church an attack from Satan? Yes. Is sin involved? Yes.”
Really? The last we heard from former Senior Pastor Tim Armstrong was from a written communication published in the “Leadership Update” dated July 30, 2021. Here is what Armstrong said, there is no confession of sin, nor do I believe there ever will be.
My family and I are deeply grieved by the present circumstances. We have often said to one another that this may be the most difficult trial of our lives but that we desire above all else to traverse these days with humility, godliness, and honor. My greatest desires are for the unity of the church and staff and therefore agree with the Trustee’s that it would be best for me to resign my position as Senior Pastor of The Chapel. I also realize that you as a church have been facing difficult trials. My last charge to you: Set your heart; Follow the Lord carefully; Follow the leaders and Guard the unity of the church and your relationships with one another. I wish these days to be the best of days at The Chapel in the way you respond and follow those who have charge over your souls. It has been a pleasure for me to serve and lead you over the course of the last seven years. Please know that I will not cease to pray for you in the future.
Chapel members, it is left to you to do the right thing.