“Once you’re out in the realm of experience, you can’t talk scripture anymore because there’s no scripture that’s relevant to something as wild and bizarre as this” Ronald Enroth.
Mark Driscoll left his DNA all over Acts 29. Then Matt Chandler was supposed to be the kinder, gentler leader. Although he is not the President, he is the Executive Chairman. However, did any of us ask if Chandler and BFFs would change the dynamics of the organization? As you will hear, the same old-same old is still present in the system. You know the stuff-“Don’t gossip,” “Matthew 18 always,” “Women are to be seen and not heard unless they are a gal pal of Chandler’s,” etc.
Acts 29 is like the Calvinist wing of the SBC. The new and improved All Souls Church uses the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in this story. I did not find it in the SBC Directory, although the search engine recognized the church’s name.
The simple, typical Acts 29 sort of story.
Although Johnna used the name “Pastor H” in her story, I was able to figure out who the pastor was.
An excellent former pastor left Redeemer Church Burbank and was replaced by Harvey Turner, who has ties to Acts 29. The church met in a nice building. Any church with a lovely building should be aware that they will be a target for acquisition by groups like Acts 29, the SBC’s NAMB, and other groups looking to promote their denominational and group distinctives without having to build from scratch.
In short order, he allegedly told the staff he wouldlno longer meet with women and he would no longer take questions from staff in meetings unless he preapproved the questions. He appointed a man who rarely attended the church but was involved with Acts 29 to the elder board. Turner put his wife in charge of overseeing many of the functions in the church, which included worship.
During this time, the sometimes Acts29 elder board member reportedly showed up to help out… The network was told stories of abusive behavior on the part of Harvey. According to Johnna, the upshot of the supposed “investigation” was allegedly the following.
- Harvey was a good pastor
- The congregation members were goats.
- Some of the dissidents were witches
- If a member doesn’t agree with what’s going on, they should leave.
Over 90% of the church left within short order, purportedly because of the many stories of abusive behavior on the part of Harvey.
Then, Redeemer Burbank closed and reinvented itself as All Soul’s Church.
It is quite possible that this was the plan all along. Many theodudes have a philosophy about taking over a church. If the membership isn’t buying it, get rid of the ones who don’t play ball, even if it means there are only five people left. Those are the true believers. If one looks at the current leadership team, one would see Harvey and Dave Berndt. Dave was an elder at the church’s previous iteration. This is another win for Acts 29, but it might bode ill for All Souls’ new members who have no idea of the history.
Johnna’s Story: Bodies Behind The Bus podcast ( Quiz: How many remember where this phrase comes from?)
Johnna recorded her experiences on the Bodies Behind The Bus podcast. This group describes themselves as:
The Bodies Behind the Bus is a podcast centering on the voices of spiritual abuse victims from within the Acts 29 network. We are the discarded few. We have been abused, gaslit, ignored, slandered, deceived, intentionally hurt, and betrayed. Our stories were manipulated and our voices were stolen. We were left alone with all the confusion, grief, hurt, and pain but today we begin to reclaim our stories and find our voices once again because we matter, and being a body behind the bus is not the gospel.
Here is a link to Johnna’s story on Bodies Behind the Bus. At the beginning of his podcast, you will hear Johnna discussing some of the rules of her previous church.
- Avoid gossip at all costs, even if it involves abusive behavior.
- One must go directly to the person who harmed you, ala Matthew 18. This may mean having to confront one’s abuser which is dangerous and is not advised by counselors when it involves abuse situations.
- Johnna was accused of not following Matthew 18 even though she met with the pastor and the elders.
Johnna realized that things were coming to a head. She asked an elder to join her in a meeting with the pastor. The pastor called her in a rage that she invited the elder. She told the elder of the encounter. Eventually, he met with her and gave her a general apology but would not be specific. He said he would not speak with her about anything “ministry related.” She was fired shortly after that, but the pastor would not tell the church. Two staff resigned, as did an elder. That was to no avail. The Pacific Network exonerated the pastor, and most church members left.
Today, Johnna continues to receive therapy to deal with the trauma of what happened. She has yet to return to church, as do many who are treated poorly and abused.
In my opinion, Acts 29 has not changed in any significant way. Let me leave you with some posts I have written regarding this concerning network of churches.
- Would It Surprise You That Churches Are Leaving Matt Chandler’s Acts 29 Due to Transparency and Financial Issues? I Thought So.
- Matt Chandler Claims He Can Keep Narcissists Out of Acts 29. What Was That Thing About the Log in Your Own Eye?
- Steve Timmis and David Platt Appear to Have Misunderstood the Relationship Between the Law and Gospel Which Has Led to Pain for Their Followers.
- Are Acts 29 and North Valley Community Church, Phoenix, Endorsing Mark Driscoll’s Return?
- A Tutorial: How to Assess the Membership Contract at Fort Worth’s CityView Church
- Church Planting in Acts 29: Where Are the Women?