A little over three years ago, I was part of the center of the New Reformed movement.
One of the final straws for me was an event of which I was the Director: Advance09. We brought in heavyweight speakers like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, John Piper, Ed Stetzer, and a few others. The event was held at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and approximately 2500 people showed up.
Overall, as a business venture, the conference went really well. People seemed to really enjoy it. And, it made quite a nice profit.
I’ve written previously about my own obsession with Driscoll and the movement he has definitely helped bring to the masses. In another post, I basically said that the “Prodigal Christianity” model is not that much different than the New Reformed, and will increasingly be perceived as the New Fundamentalism (with the rest of evangelicalism). Then, a few days ago I wrote about my experiences with abusive leaders and enablers at the last church I worked for.
In response to posts like these, some people have asked me why I can’t just let this go. In one of those posts, I made a public commitment to ignore the New Reformed movement. But, I think I’ve realized over the past few months that, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t ignore it.
I can already hear the responses to a statement like this: “What do you know?” “What happened?” “I NEED DETAILS!”
Maybe that day will come. But, for now, I will just state my main reason for lacking the ability to ignore this movement: I believe that the movement is hurting people. I believe it is doing more harm than good.
Just to clarify, I am not saying that each and every person who is somehow involved in the movement is evil, or even intends on hurting people. From my years of experience in the movement, these are some of the most well-intentioned people I’ve ever known. But, as the saying goes…
I hope to spend more time thinking through the reasons why I think this. And, of course, I can only tell my story. But, the more people I talk to who are currently involved in one of these churches, or who have recently left, the more I realize that I am not alone. I don’t think my criticisms are extreme. And, I’ve dealt with my own bitterness and resentment. I can honestly say that I am more happy about life today than I’ve ever been. My criticisms are not a personal vendetta.
If you haven’t heard about the controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Ministries (a large network within the New Reformed movement), please take a few minutes and read this article. As the author points out, this kind of thing should not be seen as rare; it is inevitable. The culture that has been created is toxic. It’s only a matter of time before more of these stories come out.
I hope to keep telling my story. I hope you will listen. And, I hope more and more people will continue to disconnect from this movement.