Thursday, December 20, 2012

FGBC Concerns Pt. 6: Model Ministry Trips (CE National)

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:

From: Steve Mitchell [] Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 10:56 AMTo:;; TKOB@cenational.orgSubject: Resent TD Jakes Concerns (Readable format)

Dear Ed Lewis, TK, and all at CE National,

Greetings from Steve Mitchell and sunny Roanoke. Friends, a few years ago I spoke with Ed about concerns I had over CE National's “model ministry” trips to Rob Bell's Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids. My concerns were largely dismissed and the 412 Commission went anyway to get taught and impacted by Rob Bell who has since gotten even more heretical in his teachings and has gone full egalitarian at his church with women in pastoral ministry. I had hoped that CE National as well as other groups withing the FGBC would refrain from trying to learn from people who had unbiblical aspects to their ministries but, here we are, with yet another scenario that I needed to talk with you about.

This time my concern is at new heights as I read that CE National is planning these “model ministry” trips to churches in Texas, most notable the Potter's House, which is home of Bishop T.D. Jakes. I read this on

Evidence indicates that T.D. Jakes is a “modalist” who denies the orthodox view of the Trinity which is a crucial doctrine of the faith. Please please read the following articles of concern about this man and his teachings.

Is this really a good choice for a “model ministry”? What exactly are we to learn from this church? He would be considered a heretic in the early church and even in today's among professing biblical Christians so I am somewhat mystified at the eagerness to take a trip to the Potter's House .

At least one other church on the list has a woman who bills herself as a “pastor” (Covenant Church of Carrollton Pastors Mike and Kathy Hayes) as did Mark Batterson's church that CE National also hailed as a “model ministry”. So help me understand how field trips to learn ministry methods at churches like Rob Bell's, Mark Batterson's, Erwin McManus, or, shockingly, Word-faith, modalist T.D. Jakes will in any way make the FGBC “more effective” or pleasing to God.

My friends, this has the appearance of the utmost lack of discernment and potential spiritual hazard written all over it. Please reconsider these destinations on your “model ministry” trips. 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.

Please feel free to contact me on this matter at the provided e-mail and phone number. Please consider chatting with me about this because it is serious in light of our earlier discussions.

In Christ, Steve Mitchell Phone: 540-904-5420

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.
Second, I am concerned because of the prevalence of unbiblical trends entering this fellowship. You have known for years where I stood on my Rob Bell concerns and now you know why I was alarmed about T.D. Jakes. I also assumed too much. I thought, especially after our earlier talk about the 412 Commission going to Bell's church, that you looked into the churches CE National selects for their “model ministry” trips. It would never occur to me that you weren't aware of TD Jakes and his ministry.
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:

What could bring over 75 pastors and church staff from across the country together in Southern California, besides the sunny weather? How about ReMix 2006, a weekend experience sponsored by CE National for pastors and church leaders to visit model churches. Attendees were encouraged to review church ministries first-hand, including those of Saddleback (Rick Warren), Mosaic (Erwin McManus), Rock Harbor (Todd Proctor), Grace Community Church (John MacArthur) and others, and look at refining ways to reach our changing culture with the Gospel.

Ministry is more caught than taught—and we caught it!” (Taken from: ).
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.

Jeff Bogue hails it as a wondrous opportunity for ministry and training, even looking at model ministries as various churches are visited. What could possibly be a problem here?
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:

School started and with it we realized how exciting and stretching ministry can be. Along with Liberty classes, we had in-depth studies on books of the Bible, leadership, and a book of various topics that we read together as a team. Through Mike’s teaching, along with Rob Bell, our view of God was blown out of the box we had it in.”
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.