When loyalty to the leader trumps integrity, and folks sit silent, then it’s no longer a church – it’s a cult.
As I’ve previously ministered in other parts of the world, I’ve been alarmed at the growing influence of the so-called “prosperity gospel”.
The prosperity message is simply the latest incarnation of the historically persistent “gospel of self” that’s been a blight on the Church since the beginning. Going back to Simon the Samaritan in Acts 8, there’s always been those among us – with gifted personalities and beguiling, mesmerizing spirits of seeming sincerity – who pimp the gospel for personal gain.
Such God pimps – including John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and their minions – are all over the airways peddling their seductive gospel of “self”.
New Covenant Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia, started out as a great church twenty-five years ago under a gifted pastor who’s since left. Under the current “pastor/elders” (the term they choose for themselves), massive numbers of additional people have left as the church sinks into cult practices and cult doctrines. As a result, attendance has plunged from thousands to barely thirty adults on Sunday mornings.
- Robin Bayles, the current senior “pastor/elder”, has been secretly enriching himself with around $200k annually from church funds for a sizable salary, a generous housing allowance, numerous benefits and various other perks amounting to somewhere around a million dollars in total over the last several years — despite the tiny size of the congregation and the fact that he doesn’t even work at the church but works for an unrelated organization. When his self-enrichment was exposed, he denied it and falsely claimed to have taken only a small fraction of the true amount.
- Robin Bayles has personally acquired and gained wealth from numerous investment rental properties purchased with funds taken from the church. He also has been employed nearly full time for many years — and earns a significant income — from his separate employer. Nonetheless, he has tried to manipulate his shrinking congregation and justify his self-enrichment from church funds with false pleas of poverty.
Yup. It’s true. In 2009, I was “disfellowshipped” from New Covenant Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia – and in an odd sort of way I felt deeply honored!
I first posted this for a few months on my old blog in 2009, but decided to dust it off and make it public once again under its original publication date. Fortunately, it migrated over – with its original publication date and original comments still preserved – when I set up this new blog in late 2009.
I’m re-posting my story because many others have experienced similar fates as they try to deal with abusive leaders who hide their leadership sins behind a wall of unaccountability and by intimidating – and then expelling – all voices of integrity from their church.
I hope my experience encourages others to have the courage to raise legitimate concerns under Biblical procedures, even if it means being kicked out of your church. Stand firm, because there is life after “excommunication”!