We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. CS Lewis
A most stunning part of this saga is that Rizzo is allowed to be a pastor and an “overseer” at all. Over the ensuing years, I would find myself writing a number of posts on this strange yet lucrative group. I bet you don’t know that this group continues to be the fastest-growing Christian “group of churches” in the US.
Prayer Force and all sorts of stuff
The most frequent request that I receive is for a copy of the now hidden from the public document called The Prayer Force Manual. This document trains people in the Church of the Highlands (which is the mothership of the ARC) on how to defeat demons and other such entities. Yet, the document is strangely worded. For example, did you know that when demons are around, flowers don’t grow?? Well, if you don’t believe me, let me refer you to a document that I put together: The ARC (Association of Related Churches) Is Planting Churches, Looking for Flowers, and Scoping Out Demons. This will give you an overview of this organization.
I have a copy of the actual Prayer Force manual (the whole thing) which is hard to come by. Once I wrote about it, it disappeared from being publicly posted at the Church of the Highlands. I have one favor to ask. If you really must have a full copy of this document (not the synopsis in the last link, do NOT request it in the coming week or so when I anticipate being overwhelmed with requests.
Also, If you want to see “clueless in action,” come back for Part 2 which I plan to post on Friday. I have no other word for it.
Dino Rizzo has a rathered checkered sexual past but that doesn’t matter to the ARC/Chris Hodges. He’s a rainmaker.
Let’s go back to my first ARC post to get the background: Dino Rizzo, Stovall Weems, and Steven Furtick: Banking on the ARC? The following is quoted from that post. Some of the links from one source about Dino’s relationship with a woman who was not his wife have been removed. Here is one still up. However, I remember reading them with astonishment. Here is what was alleged.
- Rizzo was the lead pastor of the huge Healing Place church.
- He had an alleged long-term affair with a woman who was put on the payroll of the church.
- When it was revealed, Chris Hodges made an appearance in front of the church and said Rizzo and his wife were going away and that the church was to trust him. Rizzo would never return.
- Rizzo got a nice pastoral job at Hodge’s Church of the Highlands
- He is now Executive Director of the ARC and is also listed as a Founder of the ARC (Hmmmm)
- Any pastor who has a long-term *relationship* with a member of the congregation or with an employee of that congregation should never, ever be allowed in the pulpit again. Warning: Don’t try “King David came back from it” gambit. You will be embarrassed. Think about what I just said. Was David a pastor? Such a person may be restored to his membership in the congregation, not the pastorate.
- Not taking this stuff seriously can come back and bite you on the nose.
It done bit them on the nose.
Lawsuit #1: Vibrant Church (ARC) sued by a woman who was allegedly sexually molested by Jason Delgado. Dino Rizzo allegedly covered it up.
The Dispatch posted Former Vibrant church intern sues for sexual harassment.
It alleges then senior pastor Jason Delgado made unwanted sexual advances by “various electronic means,
…The suit further claims Eagan, who was an intern at the church, was given a poor evaluation by her supervisor, identified as Laurel Jones. The suit said Jones did not provide documentation to support the poor evaluation but told Eagan she was “too sexy” to be an intern.
…“Mr. Jason Delgado used his position of confidence, and his knowledge of Mrs. Eagan’s situation to fulfill his sexual perversions.” the suit states. “At best, this is a deliberate manipulation of those in need to fulfill unnatural, sexual fantasies. At worst, this is a calculated sexual predator, with his free pick of vulnerable victims.”
Apparently, Delgado’s dad (asst pastor), mom (human resources director), and up to 25 others were told about this, including Dino Rizzo, the *overseer* of Vibrant Church
The suit also said an umbrella organization of the church, identified in the suit as XYZ Corporation also to be named in the course of the trial, did not intervene, including defendant Dino Rizzo, who the lawsuit claims investigated Eagan’s claims. (Ed We assume XYZ means the ARC
Rizzo is listed as executive director and founder of Association of Related Churches (ARC) on that organization’s website.
Lawsuit #2: Dino Rizzo and Greg Surratt (another ARC pastor/leader type) allegedly covered up alleged sexual predation by Pastor Joshua Mauney.
According to The Roys Report in Lawsuit Accuses Church Planting Group of Allowing Florida Pastor to ‘Sexually Prey’ on Employee
ARC knew that Joshua Mauney, ARC’s former national director of church planting, had a history of sexual misconduct. Yet, ARC allowed Mauney to plant and lead Newsound Church (now Sound Church), a former ARC member church in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. And during his time there, the suit alleges, Mauney raped and sexually assaulted Doe, his female assistant, on numerous occasions.
The lawsuit is being brought by a woman identified as “Jane Doe,” and alleges that ARC knew that Joshua Mauney, ARC’s former national director of church planting, had a history of sexual misconduct. Yet, ARC allowed Mauney to plant and lead Newsound Church (now Sound Church), a former ARC member church in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. And during his time there, the suit alleges, Mauney raped and sexually assaulted Doe, his female assistant, on numerous occasions.
The next quote by Roys had me laughing so hard that I choked on a piece of lettuce. I call this the SBC “We really are all autonomous so don’t sue us” defense.
Also accused are three other pastors of ARC member megachurches—Justin Dailey, pastor of Action Church, in Orlando, Florida; Dave Sumrall, pastor of ITown Church, in Fishers, Indiana; and Shaun Nepstadpastor of Fellowship Church, in Antioch, California.
All five men served as “overseers” of Newsound Church and were appointed by ARC, the suit says.
The Roys Report reached out to all five men for comment, but only Surratt responded.
Surratt denied any wrongdoing by ARC with either Newsound or Vibrant Church, claiming ARC has no “ecclesiastical or legal authority” over member churches.
…Similarly, Surratt claimed that neither Rizzo nor pastors Dailey, Sumrall, and Nepstad were not acting in any official capacity with ARC while overseeing NewSound.
…The lawsuit also provides a link to ARC’s constitution, but that page apparently has been removed. (Ed: Reminds me of the disappearance of the Prayer Force Manual)
…When read the portion of ARC’s Constitution quoted in the lawsuit, Surratt said, “That’s not true.”
When asked if the lawsuit misquoted ARC’s bylaws, Surratt said, “I don’t know anything about that.”
(You have got to see the photo of Mauney that Roys posted. Loving the too-tight, white t-shirt showing off that body look… )
Rizzo got involved. It looks like Rizzo and the ARC made sure that the pastor got more $$$ than the victim. It makes me wonder if Rizzo had some experience in dealing with this sort of matter…
When Doe reported that Mauney “had been inappropriate” with her, the church told Doe to contact Rizzo, the suit alleges.
…The lawsuit claims that Rizzo interrogated Doe and asked her “if she wanted to be devious and make the church close down.” The suit says Rizzo also connected Doe with Justin Dailey of Action Church to whom she divulged the “whole story.”
About four days later, Dailey sent a letter to Newsound’s congregation, telling them Mauney had resigned but not mentioning why, the suit says.
It adds that Dailey then sent Doe a form to sign, stating that she would not sue Newsound nor speak to anyone about her abuse, and offering her $21,000 in severance. The suit claims Newsound and ARC also “gifted or paid” Mauney $70,000 after he resigned.
It is my opinion that Doe should, and will eventually get far more in compensation than Mauney. Shame on Rizzo, Surratt, and the ARC.
It is no surprise to me that Dino Rizzo and other members of the leadership team of the ARC are being named in these lawsuits. Rizzo’s own little debacle at The Healing Place was handled by Chris Hodges and the ARC. Rizzo went quickly back to making bank in the ARC. Why should he take victims seriously? Did he ever apologize for what happened at The Healing Place?
Stay tuned fr Part 2.
Creation is groaning.
Its very support beams have stress cracks.
Let’s compare Noah’s ark and Hodges’ ARC:
1. One gathered animals, while the other gathered abusers
2. One sheltered God’s creation, while the other sheltered the “church business superstars”
3. One provided for the multiplication of God’s creatures, while the other provided for the multiplication of like-minded 501(c)3 entities.
I’d rather not go on, because all of this is upsetting. Wolves are celebrated and sheep are shamed for leaving a bloody mess after they are attacked. It is so wrong.
To me, what is even worse, is our country is SO fractionated politically, religiously, racially, etc…
The degenerate behavior of religious leaders just adds to this..
And, IMHO, covering up these ABUSIVE religious leaders is DEPRAVED
Instead of being interested in signs of demons growing or not, it seems pretty obvious having perverts that can not keep their bodies off of others, in LEADERSHIP roles is a pretty obvious sign of “not G$dly” behavior/signs???
They cannot focus on the Lord because of their ongoing sins, so they seek other things to lure in and keep the followers: battling enemies (from demons to politicians to masks), creating events (with superstar performers and top-of-the-line tech support), letting the audience in on the inside-scoop (revealing secret conspiracies and angelic wars), and manufacturing emotional experiences (through lighting, music, and manipulative speech).
When you can’t make it all about God, you have to work hard to create an alternative. When it’s not about God, you will feel threatened by inconvenient truth and exposing of sin. When it’s about the stars or the organization, you start justifying the covering up of sin, claiming it’s what God would want done. As I said, it’s so wrong.
Haven’t read the post yet. I was distracted by the fact that that church looks exactly like a middle school. Ugh. Why would you want your church to resemble a place where your kids spent three of the most miserable years of their lives?
Flowers won’t grow when demons are around? Well, my Word of Faith neighbor — who changes churches every few months and once attended a local iteration of Steven Furtick’s megalopolis — told me I have a demon. I guess that explains why my azaleas keep dying.
“For example, did you know that when demons are around, flowers don’t grow??”
So that’s why our flowers struggled this year! I needed an Excorcist, not water!
Church of the Highlands looks super lush. Must be all the fertilizer coming from the pulpit…
Coming to a church near you!
Doing church upside down … which, of course, is not ‘the’ Church at all.
” that church looks exactly like a middle school. Ugh. Why would you want your church to resemble a place where your kids spent three of the most miserable years of their lives?”
well, arrested development & all…
maybe this sums things up quite nicely – christian culture, a religion of redeeming middle school.
“The Gospel 12-year old, at any age! A biblical approach to being the big man of your campus and his adoring cheer leader accessory!”
Well, they behave like they never left.
“Joshua Mauney, ARC’s former national director of church planting, had a history of sexual misconduct.”
Church planter pervert. What’s the pervert planting?
In any case, add more names to the database: Rizzo. Delgado, Dailey in Orlando, Sumrall in Indiana, and Nepstad in California… and obviously the perversity is systemic and rampantly widespread in the ARC network.
In contrast to Chalmers’
Put a YUCK! sticker on the lapel of each of these pastors to warn children and all decent people to stay away. Toxic. Deadly.
Max, it does sound a lot more like a political movement that justifies the abominable behaviors of its ‘great leader’/demogogue by saying he’s been ‘annointed by God’.
In somewhat related news, TGC announced the next T4G conference will be the last:
The article pretty much avoided the topic of abuse and coverup except to briefly frame it in terms of a social media problem.
Dee – lettuce not choke on this. Keep sufficient liquids nearby.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
“C. J. Mahaney’s charismatic Calvinism and buoyant attitude kept the mood light and familiar [at the first conference].”
“Pastors younger than 35 may not even realize what they’ll miss… Now you can visit almost any country and find a group of Reformed pastors working together for the gospel despite their different views on baptism, eschatology, spiritual gifts, and ecclesiology… It accomplished a vital mission, and its fruit will endure long past 2022.”
“Recently, while browsing through my contact list from nearly 20 years in professional ministry, I had to pause due to discouragement. Dozens and dozens of names—nearly half my list—wouldn’t welcome any message from me… In ministry you’re always losing friends. You don’t always learn why.”
“From left to right, many pastors find more in common with even unbelievers who share their political and cultural assumptions than with believers who affirm the same doctrine. Allegiance to parties and politicians obscures friendships in the fog of suspicion that has overtaken so much of the American church.”
“Not everyone will mourn T4G, no stranger to conflict in the last 15 years. These controversies have forced many pastors to reckon with the church’s response to abuse, to recall one example. Long after the final T4G, we’ll still struggle to discern fact from fiction as we stand on the outside of complex church dynamics, including those involving our friends.”
There are just so many opportunities for comment from the peanut gallery in this article. It’s hard to choose just one.
Speaking of just one… “ONE example.” “To recall ONE example” of abuse that forced pastors to reckon with the church’s response. Can anyone say “ostrich with head buried in the sand”?
And blaming your chosen career for a loss of friendships (not the passive “oh we’ve lost touch” but the active “won’t welcome a message from me”) shows a serious lack of introspection. (Though, in fairness, he also mentioned losing friends to suicide in this section, for which he has my sympathy. Though, it’s weird to say “they won’t welcome a message from me” about someone who is dead.)
Kill the messenger. Works every time. NOT.
“What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears, we proclaim to you…” 1 John 1. Apparently God is not on board with this in-name-only “gospel” org. (Back in the day, a so-called gospel/religious coalition killed God’s Messenger, Jesus.)
The gospel good news is God exposes predators, delivers from predators and holds them accountable, Psalm 10. Bravo SM that does the same, walking in the Light, also 1 John 1.
So many “non-demonational churches”, what ever that means, want to “market themselves” as “Look we are NOT like all those “other” churches, come to OUR church, the “One True Way”…
Obviously not on the qualifications list in Scripture for church leaders, nor a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Payday someday … repent or else!
“I saw the visible manifestation of the “Young, Restless, Reformed.”” (Collin Hansen)
As have churches across America! Good people have experienced the manifestation of an YRR army which has taken over their churches through stealth and deception, excommunicated dissenters, disrupted expressions of Christian belief and practice which did not conform to reformed theology. Thanks a lot Collin for your role in restoring the gospel which is not ‘the’ Gospel to the American church. I’m thrilled to hear that this will be the final T4G … congratulations, your mission was accomplished … the Body of Christ has been negatively impacted by it.
Collin, some of those friends were no doubt trying to lovingly steer you away from the aberrations of New Calvinist belief and practice. You didn’t listen. The NeoCal movement used you as a trumpet for their militant and aggressive disruption of the Church; you may realize that someday and grieve.
AKA Chairman Calvin’s Red Guard in the Great Calvinista Cultural Revolution.
Holding up their Little Red Books of Tweets of Chairman Calvin’s Channelers.
Where Muff & I are, it means re-labeled Calvary Chapel Clone.
“Killing is the solution to everything. No more person, no more problem.”
— Comrade Stalin, dictator and mass-murderer (2-3x Hitler’s body count)
This is about what I thought when I read it…. I was also struck by the comment about “the mission” the YRR pastors/followers has been affected by left and “non-believers”..
Gee, I guess non YRR can recognize that covering up of abuse, especially SEX abuse of children is wrong….. maybe how we treat each other is just as important as having the “correct theology”…
The more I reflect on this “statement” from TGC, the more I am left with my draw dropping..
Holding court at the Kewl Kids’ Table, forever.
“They have never left high school. They will never leave high school. And they will Never, Ever let any of us leave their High School.”
— political editorial, circa 2007
Back in 2010 when I had a bout of depression, my SIL told me I had a demon. She’d been listening to a “Spiritual Warfare Expert” who also prophesied over Obama’s 2008 election that “Now My judgment on America begins”.
Didn’t “The Gift of Discernment(TM)” mean something other than smelling-out Demons and Witchcraft in every closet and under every bed like a Witchfinder-General? Didn’t it used to mean “Seeing the reality beneath the appearance”?
The same reason Bella from Twilight wanted Sparkly Vampire EDWARD (swoon) to “Embrace” her before she turned 18: So she could stay in High School FOREVER with her Sparkly Soulmate.
All I can say is that bored Mormon housewife who wrote that Author Self-Insert Wish-Fulfillment must have had a high school career far different from mine.
Traitors, Thought-Criminals, and Goldsteinists.
Purity of Ideology overrides everything.
Ask the quicklime pits outside 1790 Paris, the mass graves of GULAG, or the Killing Fields of Cambodia.
To New Calvinists (whether they admit it or not), there is no true church but the NeoCal reformed church. Believers on the “left” who disagree with the tenets of reformed theology (that would be 90+% of Christendom worldwide) are essentially non-believers. They alone are the “remnant” … such arrogance!
IMHO, the only way to reverse the tide of the New Calvinist flood is to get past jaw-drop and knee-drop instead … a genuine revival birthed in humility, prayer and repentance would flush error from the church, but I don’t see much movement in that direction.
Honestly, at this point I’d rather see people stop focusing on their own sinfulness. They should serve their fellow humans instead of spending all year praying for forgiveness. Remember how many, especially women, have been trained to immobilize themselves through feelings of guilt and endless demands to pray more, and to do nothing for anybody but the nuclear family and church.
Repentance can also mean donating to the community food bank (instead of buying Pastor a new jet), or getting a covid vaccination (instead of railing about imaginary microchips).
As long as they don’t completely ignore it. We’ve redefined “sin” so much in the 21st century, I think the church has lost touch of God’s heart in the matter.
I have noticed that about some non-denominational churches especially. The church building does not have anything to distinguish it – probably the slightest religious ornamentation would make the building look dangerously “Catholic” in their eyes.
True story. Years ago I happened to visit such a church and I was talking with the pastor or someone, I forget. He saw me glance at a large cross (not a crucifix) on the wall. He stood between me and the cross and made a nervous gesture and said,”We’re not Catholic!” He was evidently afraid that even the most minimal religious art or symbolism would make me think the Pope was about to drop by.
I agree – so much. I think there is more to the story than it is no longer needed. I suspect it’s tied to money, as in no longer being profitable. This was just a piece to make it sound godly(tm). It is related to the OP in covering for abusers.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
And general lack of awareness for how one’s actions and inactions effect others.
… of the bovine kind?
Remember what Calvin did to the churches of Geneva, the same thing the Wahabi do to their mosques.
Protestantism at its most sterile:
“If Enemy (so-called) ‘Christians’ do X, We True Christians must do Not-X!”
Remember all those Puritan journals from Old Massachusetts.
The number-one subject was Navel-Gazing Sin-Sniffing. To serious OCD levels.
Not only does it paralyze you, it opens you up for heavy-duty Guilt Manipulation.
But now a Privilege of Pastoral Rank.
“TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!!!”
Divine Right of Kings.
(i.e. the Christianization of God-Kings.)
“Back when we had slavery, ‘Overseers’ were those whose job was to keep the slaves in line.”
— Alien Nation
And like the owners, overseers often had a taste for Brown Sugah.
Just like Calvary Chapel:
Completely Autonomous and Independent when that is to their advantage,
A single steamroller in lockstep when that is to their advantage.
Disperse for Defense, Concentrate to Attack.
Shame on Rizzo, Surratt, and the ARC.
How can you feel shame when You Can Do No Wrong?
I agree with you but also think this is not going to be a problem for kind-hearted people who have been abused by the church. They will continue to question themselves and their motives for the foreseeable future.
Churches do certainly have some folks without a functioning conscience. Generosity and service might start to awaken the conscience in ways that spiritual abuse disguised as prayer and worship cannot.
Much of sin is not the flashy kind that makes a good come-to-Jesus story. It’s a lack of love, an unwillingness to learn, a narrow belief in an easy system, a habit of blaming others for all their misfortunes, a tendency to conform instead of thinking.
*It’s also … and many other things.
The theological arguments relating to the iconoclasm issue that was eventually settled in the 7th ecumenical council are very interesting. One can make a very good argument that the removal of religious art is a form of Gnosticism that reflects a faulty belief in the incarnation. Here is an EO perspective on this:
Roman Catholics make similar arguments.
(I am a pretty bad protestant by now – probably a danger to others).
I think it’s because the money was drying up. It was always about the money. To save face they need to quit while they are ahead.
Agreed. Those are the sort of sins Jesus rebuked the churches for in Revelation … and still representative of certain churches today.
Who on earth from the public would want to join a church and be on the inside? He’s vaunting all the hooliganism as if returning from a drunken vacation. “It was bad but it was good wasn’t it?” The Fathers ate wrathful grapes and us the children are more hung over on their fictions than they are. They told us they were nearly as degenerate as us, but now we’ve gone away they are only pretending to regret it.
Comrade church perps have their own ways & means: gaslighting, silencing, ignoring, researching accusers & messagers outside of the realm of the accusations, bullying, authoritarianism, church discipline of the victim witnesses, “healing”. (“Healing” after an offense is in essence to silence the reporting about & exposure of the predator. Jesus healed diseased and crippled, not sinners. Sinners were called to repent and pay reparation to their victims.)
Hansen clearly feels that T4G has largely accomplished its objective to launch a YRR army into pulpits across the land and the new reformers can continue to Calvinize the American church, with only minimal support from T4G moving forward. Mission accomplished. As he noted in the article “It accomplished a vital mission, and its fruit will endure long past 2022.” No doubt, but as Scripture notes, there is good fruit and bad fruit.
Very much agreed.
Couldn’t that be rephrased to “Sinners were called to take responsibility for what they’d done”?
“You know what the Bible calls that guy? A FOOL.”
— tag line of my old college roomie Jim