The church has a long record of not being very good with power and money, perhaps that is why Jesus seemed to model a life without much of either. The recent news from Florida is that Todd Bentley is stepping out of the limelight after admitting to an extramarital relationship with a female member of staff. This sad news is likely to mean that many who had put a messianic hope in Bentley will lose their faith, and become totally disillusioned with the Chrisitian faith, or at least the charismatic arm of the family.
‘We should have seen this coming’ scream many commentators, or ‘we saw this coming’ which is what they really want to say. Of course it isnt totally true, nobody knew Todd would have an affair, albeit purely ’emotional’ as Fresh Fire point out.
The truth is that this shouldnt be seen as Todd being the incarnate demon that some try to portray him as – rather he is just a human being, a flawed, weak human being, like the rest of us. He is subject to the temptations that we all are, and for some time he has been in a position where the temptation to abuse his position must have been huge. Lots of good people have affairs, and sadly that is unlikely to stop – it is how we come out and deal with these situations that leave a lasting legacy.
But the main point is that these multi million dollar, high profile campaigns are incredibly intense situations. The sheer amount of money riding on the success of conferences and ministry events is incredible, and builds its own momentum. You have to promote the ‘big name’ speakers or ministers in order to get the income you need to pay for the event you’ve been putting on. You need to encourage the TV coverage, the soundbites, the wacky stunts, the feeling of superhumanity in the key attractions… and that takes its own toll.
I am a personal believer in the path of powerlessness, living with less. I dont agree with the philosophy of needing to do ‘big’ events – each person is dealt with on an individual basis, there are plenty of us, we dont need to rely on one ‘big name’ speaker or minister to pronounce to the multitudes. These big scale events rely on a level of corporate cognitive dissonance, the mass suspension of disbelief, which is different to belief itself, and even an element of hysteria (although I dont like the last word, as it relates directly and unfairly to women).
Yes I’m sure there is a place for mass gatherings, I count festivals and celebration events in this, but lets not build these as the central point of ministry – they become black holes which suck up into themselves huge amounts of cash and spew out waves of power, both of which can be totally toxic, and can wreck marriages, lives, ministries, fragile faiths, etc.
In one article one of the fresh fire leaders has written, there is a strong urge for people not to be put off from going to one of their big conferences, at which Todd had been scheduled to speak – obviously he wont be speaking there now, but they promise instead another ‘surprise’ speaker. I’m sure this event is already booked and paid for… the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere!