Mark Driscoll. Image via Mars Hill Church / RNS

Controversial former Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll plans to launch his new church on Easter Sunday (March 27). The Trinity Church will host its first gathering that evening at the Glass and Garden Drive-In Church in Scottsdale, Ariz., it announced on its website.

the Web Editors 02-29-2016

Mark Driscoll. Image via Will Foster/

A lawsuit against past leaders of the now-defunct Mars Hill Church was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle on Feb. 29. The lawsuit alleges that Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner solicited charitable contributions that were then misused for other, unauthorized purposes. The lawsuit, filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, is being brought by Brian and Connie Jacobsen and Ryan and Arica Kildea.

David Jackson 10-20-2015

Image via Brian Snyder / REUTERS / RNS

From the multi-station cafeteria to the gift shop to the theater-style sanctuary, worshipers at Prestonwood Baptist Church believe — or hope — that next year’s election will see something new: long-lost evangelical voters.

“So many don’t vote — it just makes me sick,” said Marjoray Wilemon, a retiree from Arlington, Texas, who has seen a lot of politics in her 94 years.

“I hope that some people will realize what kind of bad shape we’re in.”

Photo courtesy of Hour of Power ministries / RNS

Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Hour of Power ministries / RNS

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, the “Hour of Power” religious broadcaster, once raised $18 million to build his landmark Crystal Cathedral in Southern California’s Orange County.

Yet when he was laid to rest April 20 on the grounds of the cathedral he longer controlled, his fractured family resorted to crowdfunding to cover the costs.

“Dr. and Mrs. Schuller were left financially crippled by the loss of their retirement income previously promised by the organization,” Carol Schuller Milner, Schuller’s daughter, wrote on the site GoFundMe.

“Living on social security for the past years, they were not able to preserve a fund that would cover arrangements for funeral and memorial tributes.”

Christ Cathedral — the name the Catholic Diocese of Orange, Calif., gave the building after purchasing it in 2012 — and a private benefactor covered the funeral’s basic costs, Milner wrote.

The GoFundMe appeal seeks $30,000 to establish a website, an archive of Robert Schuller’s work, and a broadcast of the funeral.

“The funds we seek will help to give Dr. Schuller a lovely, albeit modest, goodbye,” the appeal said.

To date, a little over $6,100 has been raised from 44 donors. Individual donations have ranged from $25 to $1,000 since the campaign’s start April 11. Schuller died April 2 of esophageal cancer at the age of 88.

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church/RNS.

Mark Driscoll, the larger-than-life megachurch pastor who had been accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego, resigned from his Seattle church Oct. 15, according to a document obtained by Religion News Service.

The divisive Seattle pastor had announced his plan to step aside for at least six weeks in August while his church investigated the charges against him. Driscoll’s resignation came shortly after the church concluded its investigation.

“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote in his resignation letter.

Driscoll was not asked to resign, according to a letter from the church’s board of overseers. “Indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter,” the overseers wrote.

Image via Wiki Commons

Pastor Bob Coy resigned Sunday from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Image via Wiki Commons

Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”

A statement on the church’s website reported the news: "On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985."

A call to Coy on Sunday was not returned. But it appears extra-marital affairs may have been one reason.

Evan Dolive 07-05-2013
Tuileries Garden in Paris, SidBradypus /

Tuileries Garden in Paris, SidBradypus /

I’ve said many times before that I believe that some people who were Christians and left the faith or those who reject Christianity altogether do so not because of any objection to the teachings of Jesus Christ. They object to the actions of Christians themselves

The Christian Post recently reported that megachurch minister, Bishop, I.V. Hilliard, of the New Light Christian Center in Houston, made an interesting proposition to his congregation. According to the article, the church’s “Aviation Department” (yes, you read that correctly — aviation department) declared that the pastor’s helicopter (yes, you read that correctly — pastor’s helicopter) needed new blades. Click here to read the appeal letter.

This event is the same song but different verse of the prosperity gospel; this gospel promotes a tit-for-tat relationship with God. Since God wants you to be blessed and rich and prosperous, then giving to God will active that divine power within your life. At issue here is not only Bishop Hilliard’s request of money from the congregation for new helicopter blades, but also that Bishop Hilliard says that you will have divine favor in 52 days or 52 weeks if you donate $52. My initial reaction was “why not $40; that at least is a Biblical number?” Also, that’s quite a lengthy time frame — either a little over seven weeks or an entire calendar year. The problem with this mentality is that you will then start to look for it even if it is nowhere to be found.

Stephen Mattson 05-22-2013
Churches vector,  Baobaby Studio /

Churches vector, Baobaby Studio /

“God is doing amazing things!” is the Christian way of saying, “Look, we’re popular.”

The idea that faithfully following God’s will is associated with people attending (or donating to) churches, ministries, and organizations is a fallacy that can be debunked by simply looking around us. Islam is growing, Mormonism is growing, and so is Kim Kardashian’s Twitter following. They could all use the exact same logic: that popularity equals success. If we gauge God’s favor by the numbers of followers we have then Justin Bieber is probably God’s newly anointed prophet. 

But Christians are addicted to popularity. Denominations focus on church planting, pastors obsess over attendance, budgets rely on congregational turnout, and we pay special attention to Christian leaders who are famous.

In a Westernized culture captivated by success and money, we often make judgments based on the size of a church — or organization, ministry, and community. But our preconceived opinions are often wrong.

Photo courtesy A. Larry Ross Communications

Pastor Greg Laurie, Photo courtesy A. Larry Ross Communications

Pastor Greg Laurie knows a thing or two about prayer in tough times.

The honorary chairman of this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 2) says prayer was the only thing that got him through his son’s death five years ago. When fellow megachurch pastor Rick Warren lost his son Matthew to suicide, Laurie was the man he most wanted to hear from.

Laurie, 60, who leads the evangelical Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., talked about prayer, grief, and what not to say when a friend’s loved one dies. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Julie Polter 04-04-2013

Novels to stretch the mind and heart.

Andre Tartar 04-02-2013
RNS photo by Andre Tartar

Apostle Valdemiro Santiago, founder of the Worldwide Church of God’s Power. RNS photo by Andre Tartar

NEW YORK — The apostle bellowed in Portuguese to a packed crowd in a rented Astoria, Queens, church.

“Get out, spirit of death. Now you are burnt, now you are plucked out by my God!”

A blood-curdling shriek rose from one of the front pews, but Apostle Valdemiro Santiago, founder of the Worldwide Church of God’s Power, didn’t flinch.

“Don’t be afraid, church, by these screams,” Santiago reassured the crowd. “They are the evil spirits being defeated.”

Fourteen years after he started out in the countryside outside Sao Paulo, Santiago sits at the helm of a booming Pentecostal church in Brazil, the world’s fastest-growing evangelical country. He now leads 4,000 churches, including 10 in the United States, where fiery worship and exorcisms form part of the appeal.

Chris Lisee 08-20-2012
Worship concert, rehoboth foto /

Worship concert, rehoboth foto /

Maybe religion really is the opiate of the masses – just not the way Karl Marx imagined.

A University of Washington study posits that worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry – a spiritual “high” that keeps congregants coming back for more.

“We see this experience of unalloyed joy over and over again in megachurches. That’s why we say it’s like a drug,” said James Wellman, an associate professor of American religion who co-authored the study.

The study, “‘God is like a drug’: Explaining Interaction Ritual Chains in American Megachurches” was presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver.

RNS photo by Steve Anderson Photography.

Robert A. Schuller RNS photo by Steve Anderson Photography.

As the Crystal Cathedral tries to find its footing without any members of founder Robert H. Schuller's family at the helm, the only son and one-time successor says "sibling rivalry" played a key role in the California megachurch's decline.

"They didn't want to be accountable to me, their brother," said Robert A. Schuller, the church's former senior pastor, of his sisters and brothers-in-law, some of who were board members and ministry staffers. He chalked it up to "sibling rivalry."

"So they took steps into their own hands to make sure that they had job security."

In an interview Monday (March 19), Robert A. Schuller, 57, said his siblings took advantage of his father's signs of dementia and halted the younger Schuller's 2006 succession to his father's ministry within two years. He left the gleaming megachurch in 2008.

Jack Palmer 11-28-2011

Attack On The Middle Class!!; Union Leader Declined To Endorse Romney Because He ‘Represents The One Percent’; And Now It's Time For The Occupy Obituaries; Pastor Fights HIV Stigma In Southern Town; Do Protestants Need Some Holy Humor?; A Preaching 'Genius' Faces His Toughest Convert; GOP Foreign Policy: Neoconservatives Looking For A Comeback In 2012.

Joshua Witchger 09-26-2011
Evangelical author nears the end of her "biblical year" [caption id="attachment_34082" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Rachel Held Evans"][/caption]
Cathleen Falsani 09-20-2011

Mr. Ebert in 2004."I have no interest in megachurches with jocular millionaire pastors," Ebert writes. "I think what happens in them is sociopolitical, not spiritual. I believe the prosperity gospel tries to pass through the eye of the needle. I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven. I have no patience for churches that evangelize aggressively.

"I have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved. I prefer vertical prayers, directed up toward heaven, rather than horizontal prayers, directed sideways toward me," he continued. "If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must regard their beliefs with the same respect our own deserve."

Aaron Taylor 06-01-2011
I was raised in a charismatic megachurch that prided itself in being "non-religious." Our pastor thought of himself as a grace preacher, and in many ways he was.