About Lakeland [and some more]

“Todd Bentley’s announcement that his marriage is ending has thrown our movement into a tailspin—and questions need to be answered. . . It was not supposed to end like this.” Charisma editor J. Lee Grady comments on Lakeland revival’s Todd Bentley marriage crisis and asks prayer for the family. HT: John Piper at Desiring God.

Lots of conversation going on in the blogs. Interesting quote from Andrew Strom from August 1st related to Peter Wagner’s laying on of hands [video] which happened only 2 months ago. “I wonder if Peter Wagner ever imagined that by endorsing Todd Bentley he may be sowing huge seeds of destruction in his own movement? -Perhaps only time will tell. “ Link

UPDATE: more news revealed – read it in the coments.

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

28 Comments

  • sad news. it would be easy to jump on the band wagon and say that this proves that it wasn’t of God as many on the net will no doubt do. i don’t think it’s as binary as that.
    instead of being quick to condemn (separation/divorce is on the unwritten list of favourite evangelical sins, along with adultery and homosexuality), we ought to pray for those christians that may be hurt in this whole process and pray for todd bentley, his wife and 3 kids.

  • I agree with Carlo – when Ted Haggard had his meltdown, I said I was going to leave the Haggards in peace UNLESS he chose to do something hypocritical. I kept my word UNTIL he came out and said he was “cured of his homosexuality” and going into counseling. (We had the same thing with the former governor of the state of NJ who came out as a gay man and then engaged in a very public outing/divorce with no regards for his daughter. He now wants to be an Episcopal priest.)
    Unless Todd B. starts to use his pain in a similar public fashion for his own self-interests, I say give him space to grieve.
    Becky

  • what saddens me most about this is all the people who have been praying and hoping that some disaster would fall on Todd Bentley that would ruin him. i’m not all that impressed with what he has been up to with his ministry down there, but I’m sickened by the thought of all those who are now celebrating his ‘destruction’.

  • Wow….. (agreed Becky)
    Other point would be… over this past year, there seems to be a “spirit of divorce” over lots of areas, yeah, biggest target is marriages, – but makes me wonder about Covenant in general and alliances in relationships. (church & world) (church and church) ect..
    What and why do we “Yoke” ourselves? Some of this is just what the world needs to see and some of it, we need to learn to cover each other in a loving and restorative way. Convicted ME at least, to spend more time on my face bring that stuff straight upward, then on the computer.

  • Yes… now we need to pray for Todd, where previously we (some) were beating a path to watch him perform. I feel so sorry for him, and hope AND pray that he withdraws to some semblance of normality in order to be reconciled with his wife and family. I also think further attention needs to be given to the masters of bling who put on these shows and bill them as ‘revival’. They, and those that jump on their bandwagon need to seriously check their gullibility rating. Meanwhile hundreds are left wondering what happened, and are given the sop that now we need to pray for Todd. The words ‘horse’ and ‘stable door’ spring to mind, and the words of Bob Dylan – “…only a pawn in their game”.

  • Having blogged a considerable amount on Bentley/Lakeland, I echo the thoughts above.
    What also saddens me is the speed some in the Charismatic church are now critiquing the “revival”… it’s easy to do that in hindsight, perhaps some of those leaders should have been more discerning when everything seemed hunky-dory. There seems to have been such a desperate need for the next Toronto that anything would do; despite Bentley’s connection with Bob Jones/KCP, financial questions, extremely dubious claims being made on stage etc. all of which where brushed under the proverbial carpet. One has to ask whether this more of a move of God TV than a move of God!?
    The whole thing saddens me, from start to finish.

  • Didn’t some guy called David commit adultery and some other guy Moses commit murder and another one, Paul, well… he was the worst of sinners! Maybe the main lesson is never never never to exalt the ministry and always always always to exalt the Most High God. These events no more prove or disprove that Lakeland was from above than anything else. Let’s hope WE the Church can learn from OUR mistakes in this episode too and take out our own planks first.

  • Hal Lindsay was divorced three times. What should be therefore make of a pre-tribulation eschatology?
    I think marriage troubles in ministry couples often say more about the workaholism, superhuman long hours, ungodly pressure to perform well on a stage, and lack of holistic balance in life that many ministers fall into more than it does about whether they believe the gifts are operating today or not.
    all of us should keep guard and have others speak truth into our lives and marriages, and not just ministry professionals who might be just as unbalanced as we are.
    just my two cents.

  • “all of us should keep guard and have others speak truth into our lives and marriages, and not just ministry professionals who might be just as unbalanced as we are.” I say amen and add, lets labour to keep watch of ourselves rather than peer into the good or bad that is happening in others lives.
    Lakeland, ‘outpourings’, Todd Bentley, are just words to me and unless Andrew blogged about this I would never have known. People get all caught up in the amazing things happening in this ministry, ‘did you hear about so & so and their divorce?’, lets pray for the same thing to happen in our church. I say get on with being simple followers of Jesus, stay close to others (e.g. confess our sins to one another and be honest with who we are), and lets move beyond the need to have youtube ministries & tabloid Christianity.

  • thanks matt [see you at greenbelt???]
    heres a snippet from that link. can i say that although this is a HUGE BUMMER and even more of a caution for us all, i admire the leaders of this ministry for being forthright and honest about the situation.
    from their website:
    We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.
    On behalf of the Fresh Fire leadership and the Board of Directors we wish to apologize to our friends and partners and to the larger body of Christ and to ask for your forgiveness. ”

  • Andrew – yes good that they are being honest and forthright in the first part of this update, but I’m afraid I see the second half of that piece as little more than a pitch to keep supporters as on-side as possible.

  • Sorry, yes. Surprised, no. Will there be a “next Todd Bentley” or a “next Lakeland?” Undoubtedly. What will those of the Charismatic persuasion have learned from this chain of events? Nothing.

  • Sorry, yes. Surprised, no. Will there be a “next Todd Bentley” or a “next Lakeland?” Undoubtedly. What will those of the Charismatic persuasion have learned from this chain of events? Nothing.

  • you are right in that there will be more and there have been many already. The Red River revival came to mind today – great move of God and physical manifestations but also some emotional and sensual liasons that were connected to it – this is the revival that moved the Methodists ahead of the Presbyterians.
    But is it a charismatic chain of events? no – its a human chain of events and we should all check ourselves. again.

  • agreed Andrew, as soon as i saw that post on “charismatic persuasion” that is the first thing that came to mind, before i read your response. seems whoever is in the limelight get hit, but their are far to many that are dying on the field of battle- unseen –
    guess my biggest frustration is that there we’re those that wanted “crap” to happen – just so the dis-creditation validates their judgments. Which.. is basic Charismatic Witchcraft (using an opinion and praying that, rather than the heart of God) Though the title is Charismatic … it’s not a denominational requirement … more so… any manipulation in prayer that seeks it’s own agenda…
    all i can pray or ask in simple terms… is- “God have mercy, Christ have Mercy and Holy Spirit move in the gaps.”
    shalom,
    K8

  • Other thought is… “the gifts are without repentance”- so i’m not gonna deny the miracles based on the actions of man. – For miracles are an action of God, – if HE used an Ass to speak thru, – HE can use any of us, at any time, no matter what is going on. yes, marriage is of major importance, and yes, personal stuff affects ministry, – but it still goes back to Who is the Healer, Who is the restorer – Who is God? God’s Mercy Seat sits above the Judgement Seat….
    We all have weakness, but He also says “MY grace is sufficient for thee, My power is made perfect in weakness”
    Just wish, hope and pray- for once, the Body act as the Body of Christ, in form and function and in a loving way, with all the Authority of the God head, act accordingly. Love is the Key, and the weapon, that the enemy has no defense against.
    Loving Fiercely,
    Cathryn

  • Andrew – you raise some very good points regarding using this event as a teaching moment for ourselves. This is why I go ballistic when I see people doing moves when they’re repping the church here in the United States (my apologies to anyone who has ever been at the end of one of my rants). I’m all for having a good time (I’m a Whiskeypalian after all) mind you. But the spiritual buzz that can transpire during any event filled with charismatic speakers can be quite heady indeed – add to it the combo of talking late into the night in mixed company where you add in say alcohol, hotel rooms, casinos, hot tubs, swimming pools (basically any environment where people aren’t wearing much clothing), night clubbing and other enticements and it’s easy to see how any religious leader could stumble and find themselves in some sticky spiritual situations. I cover Christian carnage for a living and it really pains me to see people I know who have a lot to offer the kingdom start to implode. (I’m defining leader as the person who is standing in front of people with a microphone in hand.)
    I can see places in my own life where due to stress, loneliness, etc., I entered what I term that murky gray area when I was helping someone who was in a pastoral crisis – somewhere down the line commandments aren’t broken but boundaries are crossed. Fortunately, I had some caring Christians who pulled me in before things got too out of hand and I got into a spot like my brother Todd Bentley. I am grateful beyond belief for those who serve as my accountability group and pray that he can find a similar group of souls.
    I love Shane Claiborne’s motto to always travel in twos so he has an accountability partner and I’m really starting to see the wisdom here of this tactic (assuming of course that one chooses a partner, who has the maturity to pull one aside instead of joining in the games so now you have two religious folks behaving badly.)
    I also hope Todd doesn’t go the way of Ted Haggard and the NJ Governor I referenced but takes some time to really heal. Tammy Faye Bakker represents an excellent example of someone who redeemed herself and ended up doing some transformative work helping others. Meanwhile her husband Jim has done such a number on his son that it’s unreal. So we can choose life or death in these situations. I just know that God is never finished with any of us but we have to first turn our heads towards him.

  • Hey Becky,
    Thanks for your honesty in sharing on such a “viewed” blog… that tran-Parent-See really goes far. Murky Grey really fits on some things/areas – and i’m glad you had those there that were helping rather than tearing down…
    My home town was Bloomfield (sopranoville) NJ- so i watched the scoop there, even though i was living in NC at the time.
    The life or death thing is also the power of the tongue; that holds the ability to declare “blessing or a curse”- So when we speak “about” things, or given the privilege of speaking “into” things or situations… it holds weight. Turning heads and hearts upward is always the beginning of healing and restoration. Lifting heads and hearts upward is the position of intercession to get clearer vision and understanding to pray for each other with His desires and passions.
    Since i share in the freedom of some good Scottish whiskey, and one of the first investments after some dosh comes in.. will be a hot tub for those to decompress after laboring for the Harvest- keeping all that in mind…. it’s a good reminder to caution.
    Andrew, since John is here, we’ve been listening to Gary Chapman’s marriage teaching CD’s… (i’m burning a copy for Caroline and John and can send a copy yer way too… ***yes, i have Gary’s permission to copy them! He knows what walks thru our doors and hence, i think i have a copy of every book he’s written too!) With all the conference and revival stuff, it would be nice to have more teachings like that as a tool and a reminder. Would be nice to have a Bride Revival- and in it all, the teaching of our true identity in the mix. As Derek is fond of saying, “everything has it’s shadows” – weaknesses or what ever you’d like to call it……….. but if we were functioning in our True Transformed Selves, it would be easier to avoid the trip wire that transect the high wire of walking in this Kingdom circus.

  • Cathryn – thanks for the feedback. I debate sharing my story but I chose to do so (while leaving out any details obviously) to hopefully show people I’m not being a judging prude but rather someone who has been driving down that road but through the grace of God, the brakes were put on in time. (In my situation I was a friend trying to help a broken male religious leader.) My guess is this problem impacts male religious leaders on a much greater scale mainly because 1) they tend to be the ones with the microphone the bulk of the time; and 2) The fawning fans (both male and female) tend to congregate around the men.
    I see this scenario as akin to the path where one goes from social drinker to alcoholic – there are warning signs that what was a fun social activity (I love chilling out in a hot tub or jacuzzi with a group) has morphed into a toxic cocktail that could kill one’s ministry and possibly one’s marriage – and if left untreated can eventually lead to an early death.
    I stress the United States because like it or not, we’re seen as a Christian nation and we tend to judge our religious leaders rather harshly when they fall or engage in “bad boy” behavior. A night out of heavy drinking with godly giggle groupies in one’s hotel room could be a career killer even if “nothing happened.” In a post-Christian culture, a holy hipster might be able to pull said moves without impacting one’s ministry – though I do think the damage done to one’s personal life could still be enormous.
    I said Whiskeypalian because that’s the term the Southern Baptists lobbied at my family (late dad was a priest/college professor) when I was growing up in the South but I prefer a good single malt myself.

  • Unfortunately it seems that this whole episode was wearily predictable. When I said to my wife this morning ‘Guess what has happened to Todd Bentley’ her second guess was a sex scandal.
    Leaving aside the pain of a relationship break-up (if that is possible), the whole Bentley phenomena seems to me to be symptomatic of a flabby kind of Christianity – where the emphasis is on personal experience and the drug-like dependence on the warm-fuzzy feeling at a large over-hyped ‘worship events’ where large over-hyped evangelists do wonderful things and everyone else stands in awe.
    If there is a problem here, it lies not in the brokenness of a relationship, but in the tendency of all of us to elect Christian superstars, allow them to acquire stupid amounts of prestige and power, and then be surprised when they crash and burn.
    The truth is, as Becky says, we have probably all been there. Whilst we may not all have broken particular commandments, we have broken the spirit of them – and so, according to Jesus we have broken them all.
    The difference is that not all of us have (or even aspire to) public positions where we infer that we have a special spiritual anointing from God. Surely the point is not that men sometimes have inappropriate non-sexual relationships or sometimes have hard times in marriage. It is no surprise that we are broken people after all.
    The point is that we should never allow anyone to ascend to such spectacular heights because it is incredibly spiritually dangerous, and in a superhero-based society, that is something we need to seriously think about.

  • It just hit me this morning that what I’m describing sounds very similar to the power dynamics that go on in academic settings. I remember college students (male and female) throwing themselves at my late father — he was a priest and a professor so that’s two power trips rolled up into one – and my dad was a prodigy (he was ordained at 22) so he lacked the maturity and an accountability group to put the accolades and fame that came his way. He was not at the Todd Bentley level but he was a very large goldfish in a small bowl – he had people who worshipped him in the same manner but on a much smaller level.
    Despite his unsaintly behavior, no one put the brakes on him because he was packing them – his classes were “sold out,” our living room was full of college kids every night and he was in demand as a supply priest. As he began to crash and burn, people started to walk away because the party wasn’t ‘fun” anymore. I saw a similar dynamic with the priest I was trying to help. And I see similar scenarios emerging (pardon the pun) with some rising stars in the EC world where the leader’s peers tend to be one’s community who are also enjoying the notoriety that comes from being identified as on the cutting edge of post-Christianity. We’ve all seen ministries crash and burn due to the cult of personality It’s not not just in Lakeland. As we know, the Christian carnage that ensues when a ministry implodes can last a lifetime. (My brother is a militant atheist for example and has instilled these beliefs in his kids.)
    One of the challenges I see for the emerging church culture is what do we mean by personal morality and how do we hold each other accountable? There’s such a strong (and understandable) push away from the legalistic misinterpretations of the Old Testament in light of New Testament teachings not to mention how Paul’s been abused over the years. But what does it mean for us to be “the body of Christ” given we’re all broken sinners who need a Savior?

  • Hey ya all- there really is food for thought on this commentary thread. I hate the thought that anything on a grand scale would become predictable in it’s leaders falling from the pedestal – that we stuck them on. I think what IS predictable is that it becomes an enemy target, which also includes “friendly fire”- that just creates more of a “fog of war”.
    I think “being the Body of Christ” rest and abides in the power of the Cross, and living out redemption and reconciliation. I think there is often a gap between “praying for someone” and “praying about something”. Since i don’t know Todd personally, for me that means praying for him and his family a covering of grace that provides an atmosphere of thick Love, understanding that it’s His Kindness that draws us to repentance. Also, for me it’s that space to, of reflecting on my own heart- my weakness and judgments and asking Him to forgive me. My hunch is that if the Body stood more in Proxy Prayer and repented as such… it would move mountains of issues and agenda’s out of the way.

  • thanks for posting this andrew, i am another who is out of the loop on stuff of this nature.. i drew some connecting lines and realized a friend of mine from the ‘foundkid’ days actually works at freshfire, and compelled me to email some prayers.

  • late to the thread here though i’ve posted on Lakeland elsewhere.
    i am both sad and not at all suprised. OK i worry about revival hype in any form, it ptomises much and delivers little in terms of what might really be called revival. any thing God Spirit does to bring healing and inspire faith is to be welcomed, but at present much of church culture just can’t seem to allow it to be what it is and wants it to be so much more and it all get’s cranked up and up. i know a nmuber of folks in the UK who’ve been to Lakeland so not just a US phenomena either!
    i got seriously worried about Lakeland when Bently shared his testimony about his past as a sex offender. i have worked in a churc programme rehabilitating sex offenders who were or have become christian, so i am all for helping this people to live well as part of the church. trouble is that sex offenders are like alcoholics and there addiction is more about the need for control and power over others than it is about sex, sex with those not in power is the way power is most easily excercised by those who fell powerless. so at whatver level Todd had received forgiveness and healing putting him on stage and giving him all that power was always going to be about the most unhlepful thing that could happen to him. i think others have well expressed the power pressures of high profile ministry and the attraction often sexual associated with power.
    none of that means God didn’t work through Bently, that has ot be judged on other criteria, but it does mean we need ot e so much wiser abot what we do to people in our churches, especially perhaps those with the most dramatic personal testimonies.

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