December 9, 2023

I’ve tried to keep in touch with John, but it’s been tough. He hasn’t responded to my emails. I’m not going to try calling him again—I’m moving on with my life. Over the next five years, the buzz about John and his congregation starts to wane. Yet, I still catch wind of troubling practices… It’s said that he pays his children’s workers and other staff the bare minimum, while he and Abigail extract tens of thousands of dollars in salary... Read more

December 2, 2023

Over the past ten years, “The Joy Congregation” has grown to more than five thousand members. John is successful! I notice that John and Abigail have a certain magnetism about them. Part of me wants to be just like them. After not seeing John for five years, I unexpectedly bump into him again. In October 2001, I attend a national meeting day about church unity in the city. Suddenly, I hear my name being called out. As I turn around,... Read more

November 25, 2023

After visiting John and Abigails’ Joy church, where my critical questions are cut off – “John speaks for God, you shouldn’t question him” – I’m certain that we’re on different paths. Even though I don’t see John for several years after that, I continue to follow him through the internet, acquaintances, and Christian magazines. 1995 is a great year for John. The Toronto Blessing sweeps through the States. John rents a large hall in Brooklyn and starts with inter-denominational revival... Read more

November 22, 2023

Time and again in the Christian world, we are shocked by good men who fall. Leaders with a nationwide ministry who suddenly vanish as if they were never there. They dedicated their entire soul to God and His cause, but unchristian behavior led to their downfall. They’re now silenced, their legacy swept under the rug, their names unspoken. Imagine if an angel had visited these men when they were eighteen, still full of passion and fire for Jesus. What if... Read more

November 18, 2023

After hearing all the negative stories about John and his wife Abigail from a former elder of his congregation, I unexpectedly run into him one day. In the spring of 1994, I suddenly come across John at an evangelical conference in Philadelphia. We exchange news, and with pride, he tells me about his work in the congregation. How the ‘Joy’ church is growing massively and that God has promised him that his congregation will become the biggest church in New... Read more

November 18, 2023

In the past, the Book followed the people of God. Now, the people of God follow the Book. Is this something to celebrate or mourn? Have we lost something by becoming faithful followers of the Bible rather than of a surprising God? Would our adventures with God be worthy of being written into the Bible if it were possible? The older I get, the more I’m troubled by those phrases that suddenly pop into my head and can linger there... Read more

November 11, 2023

  The first time I met John was in the summer of 1989 when we both participated as eighteen-year-olds in the summer outreach of Youth with a Mission in New York. John and I were to share a room for the entire month of July, and that’s how we got to know each other. We were both ‘on fire’ for Jesus and had the biggest plans: we were going to change the world for Jesus. He in Asia, me in... Read more

November 10, 2023

Imagine Jesus as the senior pastor of a megachurch, grappling with numerous complaints about his leadership style and decisions. This could offer a thought-provoking parable on modern church leadership. I had a terrifying dream last night. In my dream, Jesus has just finished the Last Supper and is about to go to the Garden of Gethsemane with his eleven disciples. At that moment, Mary Magdalene grabs him by the cloak. “Rabbi, I need to speak with you now. Things are... Read more

November 8, 2023

Dive into a fresh and gripping faith-based drama this week! Penned by columnist Matt Vlaardingerbroek, “The Anointed” chronicles the challenges and triumphs of John, a passionate young pastor from the suburbs of New York. Leading a humble Pentecostal congregation, John believes he’s received a message from God that he’s destined to become the most successful pastor in the US. How will John’s ministry fare as he aims to lead a potential mega-church with thousands of attendees? Follow John’s journey through... Read more

November 4, 2023

This article explores the evangelical movement’s necessary transformation from a phase of youthful certainty to a mature state of ‘limping courage,’ a term inspired by Jacob’s transformative struggle with God. It advocates for a form of faith characterized by vulnerability, honest acknowledgment of doubt and weakness, and a humble yet brave stance in the face of life’s paradoxes and uncertainties. Revisiting Evangelical Origins and the Need for Maturation In the initial four articles about the evangelical movement and its trauma,... Read more

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