Serial The Anointed: 19. The End Of Joy Church

Serial The Anointed: 19. The End Of Joy Church March 16, 2024

A silhouette of a man lifting his hands in worship against a backdrop of an evening sky. Next to this man are the words: "The Anointed - a faith-based serial."
Follow along with this thrilling serial about the highs and lows of Pastor John.

John has gotten his life back on track, but things are not going well for the Joy Church.

Today, as I look at my phone, press releases flood in. The Joy Church in New York City has disbanded! The foundation is bankrupt. After John was removed as the senior pastor, Abigail was appointed as the new leader of the church. Eric, the young worship leader, became her right-hand man. Two years later, they married and Eric moved into Abigail’s villa. However, the church didn’t attract as many visitors as during John’s time.

Immediately after John’s fall, Joy lost a third of its members. Since then, the number of visitors decreased monthly. This understandably had a significant impact on the core contributors. Due to their new building, the church had a huge mortgage. Fewer members had to cough up the same amount monthly. The television ministry ‘Time for Joy’ was the first to be stopped. But this couldn’t turn the tide.

“Abigail and Eric move to Hawaii. The board members of the Joy foundation are held personally liable for all debts.”

Now, five years after John’s fall, the building had to be sold for profit, but no one wanted to buy it. A major television producer showed interest but for much less than the original price paid. Abigail and Eric saw the storm coming and abruptly resigned. They quickly sold the villa and the house in Florida, moving to the Hawaii within two months, where they bought a beautiful coastal home. The children were already out of the house. Abigail and Eric were financially set and could now live comfortably off their wealth.

The Joy foundation’s board was left shocked. The debt was enormous. They had no choice but to declare bankruptcy and disband the church. However, the foundation’s board members, kind-hearted men who eagerly served Pastor Abigail and did everything she asked, are now held personally liable for the foundation’s mismanagement. This means they all have to declare bankruptcy, sell their houses, and enter a debt restructuring program.

There’s no word from Abigail and Eric. Abigail can’t be held liable. She was ‘merely’ employed by the board and therefore not responsible. That the board members were actually Abigail’s puppets and did everything she commanded doesn’t count. A lawsuit is filed to make Abigail contribute to the debts, but she doesn’t return to New York. The expensive lawyer she hires leaves no stone unturned against the board, and the judge can only place all blame on the responsible board members.

“A shockwave goes through the charismatic world. The power of several leaders is curtailed.”

A shockwave goes through the evangelical and charismatic world. Especially when Christianity Today airs a documentary about the affected board members, the message hits hard. Everyone is outraged, but Abigail and Eric are safe in Hawaii. However, it does affect other churches with strong charismatic leaders. Board members who until now obediently followed their pastor finally take responsibility and restrict the financial policies of several pastors.

They have now seen what can also happen to them. They too can lose their homes and savings because of the leaders they blindly follow. There’s a gradual shift in charismatic leadership. Gone are the days when a pastor can be employed by a church and yet dominate the entire board. The power of several leaders is curtailed, and a few are even dismissed. Will this be the end of the solo charismatic leader? I doubt it… People forget so quickly!

When I speak to John on the phone that week, I notice it affects him greatly. He feels highly responsible for this entire process he started in Joy. He was the one who insisted that board members serve and follow their pastor unconditionally. Now, he sees the results of his methods and dominance. John personally contacts all five board members the same week. Some of them curse him out, but there are others with whom he can talk and visit to ask for forgiveness.

When I meet John a week later, I see again a broken man who deeply regrets what he did and feels powerless at the same time. He no longer has the financial means to help these board members in any way.

 

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Read some background articles on why Evangelical leaders fall: 

 


 

Have you read some my other articles:

 

Matt Vlaardingerbroek, a former seasoned church planter and pastor in Holland’s inner cities, brings Bible stories to life through ventriloquism and magic. He’s authored three books, and founded www.creativekidswork.com, providing over 1,500 innovative Sunday school activities worldwide.

 

About Matt Vlaardingerbroek
At 52, I’ve worn many hats. For 14 years, I have been a church planter in one of Holland’s tough inner-city estates and served as a pastor, deeply immersing myself in community life. I have authored three Christian books and am a regular columnist for the Netherlands’ premier Christian website. A role close to my heart is that of a Christian children’s artist. Using ventriloquism and magic, I breathe life into Bible stories, sharing God’s tales in schools and churches. My creative streak also led to www.creativekidswork.com, a rich resource offering over 1,500 Sunday school activities. This platform aids children’s workers, teachers, and parents globally in imparting Biblical lessons to youngsters You can read more about the author here.

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