We don’t believe that the powerful leaders we admire could possibly abuse their power. We don’t want to see because if we see, we must either act or carry the guilt of not having done so. We don’t want to see because it threatens our belief in the virtue of our leaders and the worth of the system. The leadership is perceived as good, based on what is said, preached, taught, or promised, and we tell ourselves that’s the whole truth. We also dread the harm of exposure. What will happen if this truth is known? It will ruin the reputation of the group. Or worse, it will damage the name of Christ. “This is his work; we cannot ruin it.” We believe institutions such as church and family are God ordained and therefore must be protected at all costs. So we cover and deny. We react with disbelief, minimizing, and lying to self and others.
Langberg, Diane. Redeeming Power (pp. 80-81). Baker Publishing Group.
On July 30, 2021 The Chapel Church in Akron, OH published their tenth Leadership Update. You can read the update at this link on The Wayback Machine, or in the text below.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…
We write today with sobering news.
By way of brief background, on May 20, 2021, Pastor Tim Armstrong sought the resignation of Pastor Mike Castelli. Pastor Tim made this decision based on his belief that there existed under Pastor Mike’s leadership a culture among the staff at the Green Campus that did not support Pastor Tim’s overall vision for the church. Pastor Tim felt that these cultural differences were contributing to a breach in the foundational unity of our church. When Pastor Mike declined to resign, Pastor Tim terminated Pastor Mike’s employment.
Around the same time, concerns of a very different nature were brought to the Board of Trustees, involving claims against Pastor Tim of harshness and fear-based leadership toward The Chapel’s staff. The Trustee Chairman called a Constitution Committee to investigate the issues, and the Committee engaged The Center Consulting Group to help with the necessary fact-finding to discern an appropriate path forward.
Pastor Tim and Pastor Jim Mitchell went on paid administrative leave so that these issues could be searched out objectively and thoroughly. Pastor Mike was reinstated, but immediately placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. While it was the hope of both the Constitution Committee and the Board of Trustees to make simultaneous decisions about whether any or all three of these pastors could be reinstated, the significance and complexity of the findings of The Center Consulting Group made it clear that the decisions needed to be made one at a time. Therefore, over the last several weeks, we prioritized and focused our efforts on the issues surrounding Pastor Tim. As Senior Pastor, we believed that the issues pertaining to his leadership of the church staff were paramount.
After extensive review, the evidence reveals a consistent pattern of conduct that substantiates the concerns raised about Pastor Tim’s leadership of the staff. Given this troubling and consistent fact-pattern, The Constitution Committee unanimously recommended to the Trustees that Pastor Tim, in accordance with language outlined in The Chapel’s Constitution, is unable to fulfill the duties of senior pastor and therefore cannot be restored to the role of senior pastor of The Chapel. The Trustees unanimously voted to affirm that recommendation. Pastor Tim agreed to resign, effective immediately.
Pastor Tim wrote the following:
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.
We are grateful for what the Lord has accomplished through Pastor Tim’s ministry at The Chapel. The Saturate campaign is establishing new campuses throughout northeast Ohio. We are seeing disciples made through global outreach initiatives around the world. More kids than ever are experiencing the personal nature of Jesus in life- transforming ways at Camp Carl. Thousands have heard the truth of the Gospel through excellent expository preaching. Though we are imperfect, the Lord is good.
Regarding Pastor Mike and Pastor Jim specifically, they both remain on administrative leave. As previously indicated in this letter, the Constitution Committee and Board of Trustees are approaching the decisions surrounding each man independently of one another. We now intend to resume the decision-making process surrounding the issues related to Pastors Mike and Jim, including the issue of unity among staff members at The Chapel. Our hope is to follow up with each of them individually and then make a prayerful decision on how best to proceed. To do so effectively, we must take additional time. While our initial intention, as expressed in our July 10 update, was to communicate all decisions by August 9, we now realize that the release of further decisions and next steps may occur closer to the end of the 90-day timeline given in our June 5 update.
We understand that changes to the timeline can be frustrating. We are deeply sorry to increase your waiting. We remain committed to honest and consistent communication with you throughout this process. At the close of the decision-making phase, we will be providing additional information from our fact-finding measures in a Summary of Findings.
With respect to ongoing leadership, our current interim leadership structure remains in place for now. The ministries of The Chapel continue as planned. Our Trustees will begin working on long-term organizational and governance plans for The Chapel once all decisions have been completed, related to the three pastors.
We know that the Lord is ever at work in His church. We also know that there is an enemy who wants to destroy this work at every step. Please continue to pray with us for wisdom and courage. Pray that, instead of bitterness taking root, the Holy Spirit would continue to move us in powerful ways to love one another, showing ourselves disciples of Christ. Pray that, in this season at The Chapel, we would serve to advance the cause of the Gospel. Pray for Pastors Tim, Mike, and Jim and for the Armstrong, Castelli, and Mitchell families.
We are grateful for your commitment to the Lord and to His church. Thank you for your patience and your prayers.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope…
The Chapel’s Board of Trustees
Reactions on The Chapel Church Facebook page were varied, but the two most frequently expressed sentiments to Tim Armstrong’s resignation can be summed up by saying “Armstrong has been abusing staff for seven years, it’s about time he was forced out,” or “Armstrong was a great teacher, I love him and can’t understand why all this information is being aired publicly.”
As you read above, the status of Mike Castelli, lead pastor of the Green Campus, and Jim Mitchell, Executive Pastor of the Akron Campus, has yet to be determined. I am not privy to any of the facts in this case, so I am unable to make an intelligent choice on what the outcome will be for these two men. Whatever happens, I am sure The Chapel will take a big hit on membership, many of the former members will likely join the ranks of the “dones;” that is, people who have reached their limit of sinful pastoral behavior and decide they have had their fill of the corporate church scene.
The Chapel is not a proponent of 9Marx doctrine, even so church members undoubtedly are badgered with the Scripture verse from Hebrews 13:17:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
At some point the working stiffs in the pews need to rise up and say enough is enough! It seems to me that the majority of problems in churches today spring from the pampered preacher class, specifically the celebrity class, many whom have led cushy lives and received outstanding renumeration for keeping watch over the souls of those who finance their “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”
It’s past time for these men to worry a little less about giving an account for the lives of their church members and a little more about giving account for their own lives.
It will be interesting to see whether Tim Armstrong will now have to get off his butt and find himself a real job, or whether one of his cronies (Thomas White comes to mind) will offer him another cushy, high paying job.
I think the guy is unfit for ministry. I base that on two things – first, as a member of the Cedarville University Board of Trustees, Armstrong voted to retain Thomas White as the President. This, in my opinion, demonstrated a serious lack of integrity. Second, re-read Armstrong’s statement to The Chapel Church members:
“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.”
Did I miss an apology of any kind? Did I miss a confession of sin? No, the pastor apparently doesn’t believe he has done a thing wrong and thus displays no repentance. This is unbelievable. A senior pastor is not forced from his position without some serious sinful issues.
Were I a part of the leadership team that removed Armstrong there is no way I would have signed off on Armstrong’s statement. Their words also needed to be stronger. As it stands, Armstrong will be able to sell his resignation from The Chapel to his next employer as a mere misunderstanding between him and a few divisive people.
Further, this bogus statement will allow Armstrong to remain on the Cedarville University Board of Trustees. Thomas White should be pleased.
I would guess Armstrong will also be able to keep his “The Worthy Walk” radio program. Hypocrisy? Nah. In the words of Spiro Agnew, those are simply charges from “the nattering nabobs of negativism.” Winsome folks would never be so divisive as to raise the issue. Thomas White will continue recommending CU students to “take a listen to” The Worthy Walk!
Below is a PDF document containing all ten of the Leadership Updates from The Chapel Church.
The screenshot below is likely the surface reason Tim Armstrong initially fired Mike Castelli.
To summarize, I commend the leaders of The Chapel for doing what I believe to be the right thing, that is, calling for the resignation of Tim Armstrong. I will wait until further evidence comes out prior to stating with certainty that the leaders should have been more forceful in their statement and perhaps terminated Armstrong instead of allowing him to resign.
I will also wait to see what the leaders determine to do with Mike Castelli and Jim Mitchell.
I will be watching to see where Tim Armstrong next finds employment.