MinistryWatch’s Top 10 Stories for the Month of February
The following stories had the most page views at the MinistryWatch website during the month of February. We present them here in a “countdown” format, from 10 to 1. The first few sentences of each story are reproduced below. To read the entire story, click on the link. To read the Top 25 stories of 2022, click here.
Todd Benkert, a Southern Baptist pastor who helped force reforms in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination’s sexual abuse policies, has stepped down from a task force he was appointed to last year to implement those reforms. Benkert’s role on the committee became controversial this month due to a public dispute involving a Florida megachurch that restored SBC President Johnny Hunt to active ministry after he had been credibly accused of sexual assault.
Bob Jones University survived a 2022 controversy over renewing the contract of Steve Pettit, its fifth president—and its first without the surname Jones. It now faces calls for board chairman John Lewis to resign over unethical behavior and at least one potential crime he committed in his campaign against Pettit. A newly released letter forwarded to MinistryWatch and signed by friends and alumni of the 96-year-old flagship fundamentalist institution accuses Lewis of numerous ungodly behaviors.
February 8, students at Asbury University gathered for their biweekly chapel service in the 1,500-seat Hughes Auditorium. They sang. They listened to a sermon. They prayed. Nearly a week later, many of them were still there. “This has been an extraordinary time for us,” Asbury President Kevin Brown said during a gathering on Monday, more than 120 hours into what participants have referred to as a spiritual revival.
After an estimated 50,000 Christian worshippers, celebrity pastors and onlookers flocked to a rolling revival meeting at Asbury University over the past two weeks, the school’s administration announced a new, limited schedule for prayer services in hopes of restoring order to the campus in this tiny Central Kentucky town. Asbury University President Kevin Brown made the announcement Feb. 19, telling those attending the revival, “We had authorities that had to redirect traffic away from Wilmore. Our town’s institutions and our town’s infrastructure is just not in a place to absorb the influx of the blessed guests that we have had.”
Mark Wilson, pastor of The Foothills Church of Gilroy, says he was fired by the Foursquare denomination and locked out of the church building. Foursquare is a Pentecostal denomination started in 1923 by Aimee Semple McPherson. One of its most well-known leaders is Jack Hayford, who died last month. The denomination claims 8.8 million members worldwide. Wilson, who has been the pastor of the Gilroy, California congregation since 1990, said the withdrawal process began in May 2022 when, after deliberating, he and his staff and church council sent a letter to the Foursquare leadership informing it that the church would be exiting the denomination.
When crisis hits around the world, as it has in Turkey and Syria, Christians are often first in line to help. That’s a very good thing. However, there’s a reason the Bible tells us to love God with our mind as well as our heart. At times like these, we should engage both. Below are a few principles and tips to keep in mind as you give to Turkey and Syrian earthquake relief efforts. We also have our assessment of some ministries raising funds for earthquake relief.
- Apostolic Glory of Zion Ministry Near Dallas has One of Highest Paid Christian Ministry Leaders in the Country
Glory of Zion International Ministries, an apostolic ministry led by Chuck Pierce, has seen significant growth over the last few years, not only in its revenue but also in the salaries it pays its executives. According to financial information obtained by MinistryWatch, Glory of Zion had revenue of nearly $23 million in 2021, up from $11.3 million in 2017, the lion’s share of which came from contributions. But the ministry has also increased its assets to $19 million, most of which is fixed. It also has over $5 million in cash assets. Pierce, president of Glory of Zion International Ministries, is one of the highest paid Christian ministry executives in the country. His salary from all the affiliated ministries in which he is involved totals $1.7 million.
Saddleback Church, the megachurch long led by Rick Warren, has been ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention for naming a woman to its pastoral team, against SBC teaching. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee decided on Feb. 21 to approve the recommendation from the denomination’s credentials committee that the Lake Forest, California, church “be deemed not in friendly cooperation with the Convention, on the basis that the church has a faith and practice that does not closely identify with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith, as demonstrated by the church having a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor.”
Reports from Asbury University say that a revival has broken out in the chapel of the small Christian college campus in Kentucky. On the morning of February 8, a seemingly normal chapel service took place at the campus’s Hughes Auditorium. It included a message about confession and repentance, according to reports. After the service was over, a group of students stayed behind to continue worshiping. Then more joined them. According to reports being shared on social media, students have been in the chapel for over 24 hours reading scripture, praying, singing, and sharing personal testimonies.
Lonnie Frisbee is a name mostly lost to history, but he could be one of the most influential persons in the modern evangelical movement. There’s no doubt that he is the man who put the “freak” in “Jesus Freak.” And in his life we see some of the best and worst of evangelicalism. And in the way evangelical leaders dealt with him we see a pattern of cover-up that extends even to today. But to understand that, a bit of his biography is helpful.