TD Jakes “Model Ministry”?
Also recently, I wrote Ed Lewis about CE National's featured :”model church trips” happening this week (May 14-15,2011) to Bishop T.D. Jakes' church. Here;' the letter I wrote a few days ago and the response of Ed Lewis:
Ed responded On Wed, 5/4/11,but I am unable to document a private email here. Suffice it to say that
he took personal offense at my concerns and both thanked me for sharing those concerns and yet stated at the end of the letter: “Hope you understand that keeping things like this going (i.e. sharing concerns, personal dialogue, etc.) is fruitless and a “tool of Satan to keep us away from the task HE has given us.” if what I am doing is fruitless and (gasp) a “tool of Satan” then why thank me for my concerns?
I gave a final response:
May 5, 2011:Dear Ed,
Thank you for your response and I mean that. I am glad you took the time to read my concerns and let me say at the outset, I will no longer trouble you with my concerns about what CE National does and that includes any phone calls or email. If this be our final letter between us, I just wanted to clarify some important features of what I wrote about.
First, let me apologize for offending you by sharing my concerns. I had no intention of any kind of personal attack and gave no personal assessment of your Christian life. I apologize for any tonal issues, i.e. that I “sound” angry as I wrote this latest email but let me assure you, any indignation is not directed to you as a person. I merely addressed you and TK as representatives that lead CE National but again my intention was not to slam your personal walks or works for Christ.
Thank you for clarifying what “model ministry” means more fully. I hope you can see that when something is hailed as a model it means that it is exemplary in some way and that we should be open to emulation which is a concept fraught with potential spiritual danger when one takes into account false teaching and the fact that CE National has no knowledge of what is actually being taught before they take people there.
I believe that taking young people into these places is a bit more serious than taking pastors and leaders there, although I think the potential damage can occur albeit in different degrees and spheres.
I appreciate your zeal to learn from other churches except that I know, for example, what Bell and Jakes have and are currently teaching. When you hear that the leaders of an organization do not know the danger, you get concerned. Thats the place I'm writing from, bro. I am sorry that was eclipsed by my phraseology.
I'll address my comment that was probably most problematic: I wrote: “The only things some of these churches are modeling is a path away from the biblical moorings that the FGBc was once known for and is rapidly forsaking in several key areas of the fellowship.”
You took this as a personal slam and assessment of your direction. Read it closely. It is a reference to the unbiblical nature of the actual ministries that are being hailed as “models' and yes, I have misunderstood what was meant by that term at least a little and this statement is too reactionary. Forgive me for my tone and wording but the concern is there. “The several key areas” phrase involves what I know as a widespread influx of concerning teachings among us as a fellowship.
My last point is for your consideration. Perhaps the purpose of these trips is not to get taught their theology or doctrines but, inevitably, some of that is “caught' and the potential of that is great with youth. At 412 Commission time, the young people were definitely taught things and error can be infectious in a spiritual sense. This is my main reserve about the practice of hailing some of these ministries as “model”. They are impacting this culture but with what? A mixture of truth and error.
Granted, as you pointed out, we all struggle with this in our ministries and we have books on our shelves with heresy and aberration. But let me assure you, the teaching of modalism, the questioning of the essentiality of the virgin birth or universalism is a far more serious content than different views on baptism or eschatology.
Once more, here's my evidence as cited by CE national articles for why I believe that these trips may be modeling and teaching more than one might think:
On Mar. 23,2006, CE National advertised their upcoming Remix 2006:
Ministry is more caught than taught—and we caught it!” (Taken from: http://www.cenational.org/cenational/newsBlog/index.asp?IDNum=913 ).
It is clear that the participants are exposed to teaching at these visits;
in 2008: 1 Timothy 4:12 gives an amazing charge to young adults "...set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." The 412 Commission is an exciting program designed to nurture young leaders in an effective discipling environment. http://www.cenational.org/412commission/412Home.asp?homePageLinkCode=homePage
Consider this entry by a girl who participated on this 412 commission and what she has to say concerning the influential teaching she received at her visit to Bell's Mars Hill:
CE News Online Email | See Previous Issue
412 Commission Semester Wrap-Up:
And in 2010:
“One of the unique parts of this board is that at least one time per year, the directors meet at a "model ministry" to observe and learn about new ministry ideas, philosophies, and strategies.”
In closing, I appreciate what you do personally for the Lord and for your willingness to respond. I am concerned though about the admission that CE National is unaware of some of the elements of the ministries that I share my concerns about. I will trouble you no longer with these concerns as I believe you lament the 'lack of trust”i appear to be displaying concerning your discernment and direction of CE National. I am a little bit stymied at how one is even able to share concerns with others who have been in ministry forty years or more in this fellowship. My observation is that there is no genuine forum in the fGBC to discuss these issues and so my writing to people seems radical and out-of-line. I am being misunderstood in for my attempts to share my concerns in these areas.
Ed, please understand that I am concerned and that is all. I love you in the Lord and have no personal animosity towards you. I am and always have been at peace with you in my heart and as a person. I regret that we cannot continue dialoguing on these things. Thank you for writing back.
In Christ, Steve
So there you have it. This is my final attempt to ever trouble CE National again and as far as I know, this weekend's visit to these model churches will continue unhindered and I can only imagine what will be next. Probably more model ministry trips, more contemplative promotion, lessening discernment, censorship of those who disagree and oh yeah, upcoming conference will feature yet another Hindu temple trip to be conducted on the same day as we present Daniel Pierce and the Greensboro church plant.