I just heard the story. In Shakespeares play, a man named Petruchio marries then tames a headstrong shrew of a woman, Katherina, by employing psychological torments telling her the sun is the moon, for example, until she agrees, at which point he says the opposite. Expectations to wear multiple hats were strict, high, and unattainable due to limited support and undermining from multiple managers. Each weekend service lasts about one hour. It was a mixture of clinical depression and the churchs lack of response, or inappropriate response to it, she said. I was probably clinically depressed, burned out, completely tired. I agreed to go back. I left/escaped from there when I was 19, she wrote. I remember as children being told that being grumpy because youre tired because youve been practicing choir for four hours, plus school and then choir for two hours after is not an excuse. He wrote letters of regret to victims and church members, and set up a $30,000 trust fund to help . So far all I have is nobody else remembers it. "We've tried to eliminate all the barriers," Merritt said. Then there were the fines. Chauvins situation was different: She didnt leave by choice. , The Church has a Baptist confession of faith and is a member of Converge. Thats when the big shift happened, when we became more cultish.. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Maybe. What kind of church would remove the Bible from their teaching? In the early years it morphed and expanded under the charismatic leadership of Pastor Jim Durkin. So, instead of avoiding eye contact, let's face the tough stuff together, using the Bible as our guide. The Church Just Wants To Get Big. And we never talked about it again., Sarah blames the church culture more than her own parents. Eagle Brook's thriving environment caught the attention of Augsburg religion professor Hans Wiersma. I definitely suffered from sleep deprivation and insomnia, Esther Mandville said. Certainly, as a kid, if you got in trouble at school you were in trouble in literally every aspect of your life. Jason Strand | Message 24 of 127. Ive worked a lot on that, and now Im able to pursue things I like. Merritt recalled the one statement from the pile that hell never forget. Well, the Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about immature believers and celebrity pastors, and he wrote about them in 1 Corinthians 3, For when one says, I follow Paul, and another, I follow Apollos, are you not being merely human? John Alexander | Message 4 of 127. Traditional, non-traditional, doesnt matter. That never would have happened had I not dealt with my dysfunctions.. Music varies from campus to campus, with no organs in sight. The mother of one of the victims caught him when he was pushing her daughter on a swing, she said. Villareal holds the church at least partly responsible. With her mom stuck in the same cycle of abuse, she had gone to the only person she could think of who might be able to help and instead felt dismissed. So over 50,000 people are watching us and listening to us every week. But ultimately, the Lord is the only One who ever deserves praise. I felt like the thing I told her was. One night, he was told at a church board meeting that he needed to get help or he was going to be fired. What did you hear about it? And if you point out that somethings wrong or doesnt seem right? Sometimes I would have to make up a sin, like, Ive been really hating my brother or Ive been thinking about sex and thats bad.. 2023 Lost Coast Communications Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. And with 240 staff members and 27 weekly services, the audience is growing. The Outpost was unable to confirm the COVID outbreak emails and voicemails left with Gospel Outreach went unreturned, and when we knocked on the churchs doors, no one answered. There was one or two times when I thought really seriously thought about giving myself just a ton of insulin, just go out that way, she said. One case that all seven of the former Gospel Outreach members talked about involved a boy who, as a teenager, allegedly molested a number of young girls. Theres this divide: Thats the mens meeting.. What does a conversation with God sound like. That was one of those things that was swept very much under the rug. And it just about took me out.. The music is the best in the Twin Cities. Perhaps Pat Anderson is smart enough to realize that those who voted her out will not let her aberrant opinions become the policy of the Republican Party. On Easter Sunday, Eagle Brook broke an all-time attendance record, with more than 51,000 people showing up at services, and 10,200 people watching online. Then after lunch all we would do is sing until 3 or 3:30. Required fields are marked *. And if God is the One who causes things to grow, then all of us (both full-time vocational ministers like meand volunteers) are only planting and watering, and even that we are doing only by His power and strength. "Most of my adult life I had not attended church except for maybe on the holidays," she said. This will be the 11th campus. Whether it's the temptation of clicking buy now on Amazon or the seemingly endless pursuit of a life-long dream, no one is immune to discontentment. My arms would just be bruised, black and blue, and my parents would be like, Dont antagonize him., The abuse didnt stop there. Eventually someone cries and then we can go to choir practice it was really so predictable like that. "Churches can be so weird," he said. Its definitely a cult, said Esther Mandville, a 24-year-old former member who was raised in Gospel Outreach. My gifting is teaching. What does that tell you? As the pastor of a Twin Cities church, I was bothered by the Feb. 27 front page article No Bibles, no hymnals, no pews. I was going so fast. I literally thought my life was over because they tell you theres nothing outside, that if you leave, you will go crazy, do drugs, become a lesbian. Villareal confided in her, telling her about the abuse shed been suffering at the hands of her stepfather, including his habit of taking her clothes. The father is the ultimate authority. Hey, are you missing Christmas? Sarah escaped when she was 19 and drove to the house of a friend whose entire family had left the church six months earlier. When there was a potluck, girls would bring a dish. The thing thats really hard for people who grew up in this religion is knowing how to explain how its a cult. The church staff turned an old K-Mart into an $18 million facility. In late March, the church opened its newest campus in Anoka. He worked out an agreement with Strand that he will always be available to offer advice but will not do so in an encroaching manner. Embarrassingly to admit, I was horrified, Chauvin said. Watching. Theyre fallen from grace. If you do something evil? Almost all their money ($53million 2020-2021) goes back into the church, not back to the community. Unfortunately, the cons are many. In the days that followed, other former members reached out wanting to tell their own stories. I realized I was in a place that makes me unhappy. Theyre being subjected to the same thing I was, but theyre also perpetuating it. She said something like, Remember, we dont put care into our appearance for ourselves; we do it because there are people here who have to look at us.. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Roger's reflections on grace, God and other grand topics. By year 10, Merritt said the church had grown to over 5,000 people. All that's just to help people who've never been to church before or people who've gone away from church.". Eagle Brook megachurch opening Lakeville branch, its 8th in MN. Pat Anderson is a big tent Republican. She reported it to the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office, she said, and officers here contacted officials in Thurston County, Wash., but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence. I told my mom and [my parents] had him buy me a new pair of rollerblades. Some of the safeguards we put into place for the church are that all of us have a lengthy floor-to-ceiling window in our offices by our door so that anybody can see into the offices when they walk by, he explained. David Sczepanski, the pastor and sole school administrator, was brought in. Merritt led the church for . The very first weekend the Anoka location opened, 6,545 people showed up, with some watching from the hallway as the venue flooded with visitors. Villareal said sometimes a young man will initiate matters by going to his father and saying hes ready. They described the tight-knit congregation of roughly 150 people as zealous and insular and the church as a place where children are forced to spend long hours singing, arranged marriages are the norm and negative emotions are considered selfish and sinful. Weekly church attendance was 25,340 people in 2022. What's bad about Bob? he said. I was like, What do you mean? She said, If you have to think about it, it probably wasnt., She told me if I became virtuous then the Lord would give me a husband and take me away from all the abuse.. (This same passage was employed by Christian slavers as justification for human bondage. While it might not be weird, Eagle Brook is certainly unique. I don't mean that they should be entertained, because I think God's word is the most compelling thing on the planet, but so often we take God's word and we just bore people with it and to me that's sinful," Merritt said. I remember looking around the room going, Were all depressed and just not talking about it., All of us were just constantly sick. It was not fun to be around.. You Betcha: Real advice for real marriages. The Bible is the foundation for all that we teach and we hope that we can join hands with every Bible-believing church in the Twin Cities to reach as many people for Christ as we can. Another girls mom approached her and commented on her appearance. DeSoto said the cruelty of these scenarios didnt really become clear to him until after he left the church and had some time to reflect. 2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Worse was getting singled out for judgment.  The senior pastor is Jason Strand. So, we've created . PUBLISHED: December 28, 2015 at 11:01 p.m. | UPDATED: January 20, 2016 at 11:49 p.m. Minnesota's largest church has gotten a lot larger thanks to a $17 million contribution. Search past episodes of Eagle Brook Church Podcast. Christmas 2016. Which, I believe, is why it is so popular- nobody asking you where you were last Sunday, no committees and such to dodge, etc. Her mom suffered from gaps in her memory due to the emotional and physical trauma, Villareal said, but when she tried to talk to other women in the church about the abuse she was told to come under and stop gossiping. Eagle Brook will pay $6.2 million for the church's campus, which spans an entire city block on the west side of downtown Minneapolis I always wondered who they were, she said. It can ruin you, Merritt said. But Merritt is happy with the fact that in all the years he has been with Eagle Brook, there has not been a single scandal. Why cant you stop peeing the bed? Or it was shameful and hidden, just not brought up., One day, feeling numb and depressed, Villareal went to church without doing her hair or makeup. Put this image on your website to promote the show -, Report inappropriate content or request to remove this page. Paulsums up thissectionwith a not-to-be-forgotten truth: it is God who gives the growth, whether in an individuals spiritual life, or in a churchs statistics. But some churches are growing and one in particular is exploding. She described her stepfather as excessively controlling and emotionally volatile, often having all-out screaming arguments with her mom and regularly spanking Villareal for such transgressions as getting an answer wrong in her multiplication tables. We never really got much science or literature. We love THE Church. Mandville recently went to visit their dad on Fathers Day, in part to prove to my sisters that Im not a demon spawn under the control of Satan, she said. Back in May, two former members of Gospel Outreach of Eureka, a church that grew out of the Christian hippie commune at Lighthouse Ranch, contacted the Outpost to report a COVID-19 outbreak among the congregation. Females are not as respected as the church would like you to believe. I will not be leading another church. Chauvin was working as a part-time teacher when she first heard that Todd had molested two girls. Eagle Brook Church is a Baptist Evangelical multi-site megachurch based in Centerville, Minnesota. Chauvin recalls watching the movie version of Taming of the Shrew because it fits into their theology very well, she said. Ray DeSoto, who grew up in the church with his brothers, described Durkin as a positive character who would welcome homeless refugees from the beach into his religious commune. So the key is never to get close to that line. Im always checking on people around me.. DeSoto said his older brothers disaffection began with typical teenage angst and questioning. After over nearly three decades of leading what has grown to become the largest church in Minnesota, pastor Bob Merritt has retired from the nine-campus Eagle Brook Church. He told me there were four godly young men waiting in line to marry me. That failed to convince her to return. I decided this is a cult and I left.. And until you give someone the permission to dig around in your life a little bit, you may not ever find out until it's too late.. Trusted by 5,200 companies and developers. Regularly, our sources said, one student would be singled out for some infraction, such as having a bad attitude or failing to recite the Ten Commandments, and be made to confess and repent. Posted by Roger Knowlton on May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized, Tags: Celebrity pastors, Chuck Swindoll, Dale Burke, Fullerton Evangelical Free Church, I follow Apollos, I follow Christ, I follow Paul. That was, like, a big rule: You dont talk to anybody that left the church, Abigail said. Cupholders? I am not going to be doing interim work. Truxton, a member of the church since 1958, eventually confessed to committing the sexual acts. The former members of Gospel Outreach said talking to people from outside the church was discouraged, and so virtually all social interactions, including work, school and family, occurred within the group. Return to homepage. "If I can add some humor around that, people are in their seats [nodding their heads, saying] 'yup, yup, that's me.'". You might be surprised to know that most (if not all) Christians have experienced doubt in their faith. "So we try to reduce the weird factor.". Eagle Brook wants to redevelop about 19 acres of land in Minnetonka, but neighbors fear the church would draw hundreds of churchgoers to their quiet side of town. And I was just split wide open.. Seeing Spirits // Does God really fight for me? Free church at the corner of Bastanchury Rd. The circle meetings usually end up with everyone fiercely berating one person, trying to get them to break and give themselves over, like breaking a horse, Chauvin said. The best Podcast API to search all podcasts and episodes. We're glad you're here! I had an associate who basically wanted my job and he didnt get chosen. Its all very interesting, looking at it afterwards, she said. 1,892 talking about this. An irregular but steady stream of young adults have defected from Gospel Outreach in recent years or escaped, as several of our interviewees characterized it. Eagle Brook Church is a Baptist Evangelical multi-site megachurch based in Centerville, Minnesota. "The trappings of a religious institution seem to be missing form Eagle Brook's worship space," he said. The church teaches that depression and other mental health issues are the result of selfishness, Villareal said. Shed make fun of how I dressed. (Though the school is only accredited through 10th grade, Villareal said, The boys generally continue taking classes until grade 12, [and] the girls will only take select classes if any at all past age 16, as theyre generally placed in teaching positions. Youre in constant fear of being ostracized because the community is honestly all you know.. If youre selfless, if youre here to serve and be a vessel, then you dont have any time or energy to be sad or anxious or depressed. Sczepanski would invoke Incurvatus in se, a Latin phrase used to describe a life turned inward. I find it interesting that when the Republicans voted to put the two amendments to the state Constitution (marriage and voter ID) on the ballot for the fall elections, there was critical outcry for bringing up moral issues and side-stepping the real fiscal issues. If you werent daily giving your all for the glory of Christ, why were you even here?  In 2020, Jason Strand became the senior pastor of the church. She was a proponent of pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Republican. Her dad followed her and tried to order her to come back home with him but she resisted, with support from her friends family. After all that was said and done, our church took off again. "The kids loved it too," she said. After the attempt, she remained despondent and numb. I wasnt doing well, he admitted. The most stressful scenario for many of the kids came during the morning circle meetings, where students would gather with Pastor Sczepanski to talk about his latest sermon and other spiritual matters. Sounds like something your grumpy neighbor struggles with, right? Eventually, we spoke at length with seven former members of the church, all of whom felt it was important for the larger community to know what goes on there. Theyd say [to students], The sky is green? and wed say, Yes. The grass is blue? Yes. Youre supposed to repeat back illogical things to teach you not to disagree with what the leadership tells you.. He volunteers with the church's recovery support group. When Id try to say something from my own opinion, they would kind of attack you, Abigail said. They wanted you to adhere: Dont stray off the script., Chauvin got the same message. Wed climb trees for hours, run down to the beach, jump off the bluffs. My parents didnt intend on being morally wrong [or] bad parents, but they take all their issues to the church. There was this self-policing to find the one who was the most out of line so everyone could gang up on that person to explain why they were utterly failing and in sin and need to repent. They would push you for honesty but if you werent giving them what they wanted you had to make it up, Mandville said. Robinson and others said that eventually Todd wound up admitting to at least some of the crimes hed been accused of, but his only punishment was that he wouldnt be allowed to marry anybody in the church. It messed with your immune systems, the stress and the amount of sleep we were getting it just wasnt good for your body., As a teenager, Sarah was prone to illness and infections, which she later attributed to stress. Young women tend to accept their fate. She was told that Sczepanski had a talk with Todd and warned him not to do anything like that again or else Sczepanski would be legally obligated to report him. And so we just don't allow that stuff. What's Our Responsibility to the Next Generation? Reached by phone, her stepfather declined to comment on any specific things Celeste alleged, but in general, he said, I really dont want to tear down the church and I think that shes not accurately representing the way that I raised her.. Esther Mandville said the only way to get off the hot seat was to admit guilt and show remorse, even if it was a performance. Our history [classes] relied a lot on the Bible, Villareal said. Abigail said Gospel Outreachs instruction used similar tactics. Hope youll give us another try and check out some other articles. It is affiliated with Converge. Gospel Outreach emerged from the hippie utopia that was Lighthouse Ranch, a commune of ragtag spiritual seekers, recovering addicts and countercultural Jesus People who, during the 1970s and 80s, lived and worshiped at the abandoned Coast Guard station that once sat atop Table Bluff. Every weekday at 7 a.m. they hold a mens meeting where they pray, drink coffee and discuss various matters, sometimes rendering binding decisions on issues ranging from child discipline to marriage approvals. Other voices: From the lab or nature, look to China for COVIDs origin, Jermaine Fowler: How forgotten Black history has been recovered by rogue scholars, Hastings delivers improbable rally to stun defending champ St. Michael-Albertville in 3A wrestling final, John Shipley: Timing on Lindsay Whalen decision seems odd, Two graduates allege in lawsuits sexual groping by fellow students, frat-like culture at St. Thomas Academy, Boys section hockey: Mahtomedi breaks away late from Chisago Lakes to earn state tourney return, How much is too much? Thats you having independent thinking. All the music, the meetings youre hardly sleeping. Anyone who finds themselves on the outs will be shunned completely. My son, who was 15 years old at the time, said, I just want to know why my dad's angry all the time. And it wrecked me, he said. It was very loose, not a lot of parental oversight. It's the type of music he says people listen to during the week -- so why not Sunday? She realized after leaving the church that shed been suffering from depression for years by that point. Regardless, according to Robinson, Todd did go on to abuse other girls and she was one of his victims. And, to be honest, if you struggle with this, you probably dont think you need to tune in. He didnt show Abraham what was ahead. Guest Speaker John Dickerson | Message 84 of 127, Guest Speaker Kyle Idleman | Message 98 of 127, Guest Speaker Jon Weece | Message 114 of 127, Guest Speaker Kyle Idleman | Message 116 of 127, Guest Speaker Bob Merritt | Message 117 of 127, A Time To Think About What Really Matters, To Have Relationships that Flourish (Greg Speck), Proven Biblical Money Principles (Dave Ramsey). At one point it was all I could do to feel. Watching. Can doubts and faith coexist? It did take me a year to realize that, but I would definitely describe it as a cult.. It starts with spanking but leads to much more and reporting it is considered uncovering your fathers nakedness., Sarah said she was beaten and molested by a younger church member. Its an abrupt stop from a life that I have lived for 30 plus years. Chauvin started college at age 30 and is now in the nursing program. You feel like you're truly connecting with people and sharing your faith. Gospel Outreach School is registered with the California Department of Education as a nondenominational religious private school offering first through 10th grades. Martin Luther employed the phrase to describe human nature as so thoroughly corrupted by original sin that it curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.. You did go to any and all choir practices or else your zeal was questioned, he said. Bob Merritt | Message 25 of 127. The mentality is that everybody is totally depraved, she said. To Villareal, this hammered home a message shed been getting all along at Gospel Outreach that women are accessories who should look nice, regardless of what they may be feeling. Lutherans and Catholics make up almost half of the state's faith population. If the elders decided he qualified, theyd recommend someone to him for marriage, she said. At first my dad didnt think it was that big of a deal he thought it was just my hands, Abigail said.