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    The $295,000 Beer - Church Planter Fired over Beer and Bible

    The $295,000 Beer - Church Planter Fired over Beer and Bible

    Many of you know Charles Hill.  He's one of the guys behind THE STICKS conferences.  Charles and his family recently moved to Utah to plant a church in a very difficult area of the country.  Little did Charles know that he would soon find his church plant cut off from funding... all over a beer.

    Here's part of an article from The Christian Post:

    Very few things take church planter Charles Hill by surprise.

    But when a group that agreed to support his new ministry work in the middle of a predominantly Mormon community suddenly pulled its financial backing and gave him the boot, he was totally caught off guard.

    Hill had just begun to host Bible studies and reach out to the unchurched and those who were seeking something outside of the dominant religious preference in Utah – where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered – when he got fired.

    He was allegedly let go because he drank half a beer in public during the new “Beer and Bible” meeting he started last month.

    While he was told that was the main issue, he doesn’t have all the details because he didn’t receive a phone call or e-mail from the decision makers, he said. His boss, whom he respects and who had given him permission to conduct “Beer and Bible,” broke the news to him a couple of weeks ago.

    He now has less than 60 days before he and his family – wife and three kids – are cut off from all funding and left “abandoned,” as he put it.

    “It’s troubling,” Hill told The Christian Post. “We’re out here trying to reach people as Jesus would.

    “It’s still baffling to me that when your boss has given you permission that you can still get terminated for something such as that.”

    Hill moved out to South Jordan, Utah, last year, leaving a growing church he founded in Ohio to answer God’s calling in what he says is the most unchurched state in the country. He gained financial support from a denomination – which he declined to name in order to keep things as respectful as he can – after being drawn to and recruited by a dynamic church planter (his boss) in the church body.

    In a city where around seven or eight out of 10 people are Mormon, Hill said he prayed a lot and battled with how he was going to reach people.

    He determined that bars and coffee shops were the few places that he would be able to meet with unchurched and non-LDS folks. He knew that starting a Bible study in a bar could potentially be an issue with the denomination, so he asked for permission from his boss.

    He was given the green light.

    But once word about the “Beer and Bible” meeting spread and reached the upper leadership at the denomination, the 36-year-old church planter was cut from the $280,000 support he was being given for his outreach and ministry efforts. He was only five months away from a church launch in a region where not one non-LDS church exists in 25 cities.

    One of the leaders, who wished to remain anonymous, in the denomination released a brief statement to The Christian Post on Monday, saying: “It’s not an issue of immorality or improper biblical behavior. We simply discovered there were instances in which we were not able to reconcile our differences as it concerns general Baptist principles.”

    Hill, whose father was an alcoholic, said he doesn’t even like drinking and isn’t much of a drinker at all. Though he doesn’t believe it’s a sin, one of the biggest reasons he hasn’t drank alcohol is because as a senior pastor, he didn’t want younger believers to stumble and drink too much.

    You can read more here...

    Here's a video for Beer and Bible:

    I got to talk with Charles briefly at Exponential last week.  He was truly discouraged, but knows that God is up to something.  Take a moment to read his response here.

    Here's what I learned (at least Charles' side of the story):

    1.  He asked for permission before starting the 'beer and bible' thing.

    2.  He was given permission

    3.  He was shortly thereafter told that the group sponsoring him was cutting ties (and funding)

    4.  Charles is pretty much in the middle of Utah with no funding just months away from launching services.

    5.  Charles has not heard directly from the group that was sponsoring him (other than they wouldn't be sponsoring him anymore).  There seem to be no open lines of communication at this time.  Charles has apologized (which I don't think he really needed to do since he asked permission) and even told the group he would not drink again.  No response.

    Regardless of your view on alchohol, this is not a good situation for Charles and his family.  They are trying to reach an area of the country that does not have one evangelical church (but tons of LDS churches).  And they have lost $280k in funding (that's about 95% of their funding).

    If you can help, please contact Charles at his website (linked to above).

    Todd

     

     

     

    Comments

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    1. Delton de Armas on Wed, April 28, 2010

      His twitter name is @chazzdaddy, if you want to follow him during this journey.  I blogged about this on Monday (http://ow.ly/1DrBG) and he contacted me directly… Amazing story.  Great opportunity for the church (little “c”) to be the Church (big “C”).

    2. Daniel Davis on Wed, April 28, 2010

      not to get too far off the subject - but it seems a beer and bible event would be a strange way to reach Mormons.

    3. Peter Hamm on Wed, April 28, 2010

      He’s not trying to reach mormons that way, Daniel. He’s trying to find a unique and positive way to reach non-LDS un-churched in that area.

      This is a travesty, and his boss should be fired before he is. But, imho, neither should.

      I say let’s all have a beer tonight in Charles’ honor and pray for him!

    4. Benny Salas on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Good Morning! Several things I get and don’t get about the way this looks and sounds like. Allow me to not over spiritualize things because there is an element of both relevancy and caution intertwined in this that I want to be careful and clear on my views and my views only. If someone comes to the leadership team and says “hey, I like to start a Beer and Bible study at the local tavern”, someone should have thought through that a little more carefully. Yet if you agree to it, don’t back out now and leave the guy and his family with no support! Stay true to your commitment and have accountability set-up to ensure this doesn’t become a beer fest. Also, did they really think that this was a good idea??? Wow, the church is messing up on its discernment and interpretation of scripture.

      Is it a cool, relevant and creative idea? YES! Does it mean that the leaders are living in SIN because they are at a bar? NO! I have gone to sports bars before to watch a UFC fight or playoff game so I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to go to one. Is his heart in the right place? I can’t determine that because I’m not his pastor, accountability partner or mentor so I can’t judge what they are doing based upon a video clip and article.

      It’s also tough to imagine that reading the bible while drinking a BEER is anything more spiritual that getting together at a coffee shop, home group, Sunday service or other setting too! I get the strategy behind what they are attempting to do, but I dislike when people say “Jesus would be hanging here having a BEER with us if HE were walking the earth today”..... You don’t know that, so stop assuming what you think He would be doing!! ..... I tend to think He would be, probably flipping tables and not waiting on them because people walk a fine line between whets biblical and acceptable.

      Yes our culture would accept someone doing a bible study or BEER and BIBLE study, but its borders the line too much of secular Christianity. We all know what happens when you have people getting drunk in a BAR let alone with a group of people trying to reading the bible….. (Just imagine, not a pretty good testimony for the church). What will be the next Bible Study “BONG and BIBLE”????

      This issue really depends on how you filter your convictions in alignment with the scripture. We know the bible says in Ephesians 5:18 (New International Version) “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”.... of course it doesn’t do not drink…. I won’t argue that! I personally don’t not consume any hard liquor or such that would lead to me being drunk… Basically Iím a “PINA COLADA kind of guy, hold the alcohol please…...” lol.

      Looking back at the video, we have to agree that alcohol leads to being incoherent! To say that we have child care means that I’ll just drive home a little buzzed with my family in the car. Thatís just irresponsible no matter what youíre doing. How many Beers is too many? Is their like a Beer level that determines “DRUNK vs. NOT DRUNK”? Nope, the question is some people can’t control it and being in situation that may stir up a past addiction or struggle doesn’t help anybody experience Freedom from our issues if thatís the case.

      As the church we are called to be salt and light, to preserve and illuminate and expose the world to the presence of God here on earth. We have to live by a different standard regardless if people don’t relate or feel it’s religious! We are all religious in our own way so let’s stop fighting the convictions of the Holy Spirit and rationalizing as it being traditional.

    5. Bryan on Wed, April 28, 2010

      In related news, the same Baptist organization voted to redirect funds to a new project.  Project Buffet Extension was met with 100% approval and will begin next week.

    6. Duane on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Tough spot. But my weird tangent question is this: how would I get $295,000 in funding for our church plant???

      I’ve never visited Utah, so I’m not familiar with the cost of living, but why in the world do you need $300,000 to plant a church? Could it be done for less?

      Not sniping, just wondering. And praying for Charles & fam.

    7. Mark Jaffrey on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Sounds like what happened is that the decision in the organisation to fund this outreach was taken by someone (possibly Charles’s boss) who was a little less conservative than the top dogs and thought that it would be ok, and neglected to check that an organisation famous for it’s views on abstinence would be happy with this style of outreach. Charles has done nothing wrong, and if this were a secular employer, would be well within his rights to sue for wrongful dismissal.

      This is a management / decision making / internal communication issue, where unfortunately Charles is having to pay the cost for bad communication within the management structure and a failure to set or follow policies for making funding decisions.

      Sounds like the outreach initiative would be better matched to a different denomination, one with more flexibility for this kind of creative solution.

    8. Matt Steen on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Duane,

      Keep in mind that the $295k is generally spread out over 3-5 years, and it is covering all costs until the church becomes self sustaining which can take a while.  Many plants are encouraged to raise between $300,000-$500,000 to support themselves over the first three years.  This number is not all that unrealistic. 

      I will say that I AM surprised that it is all coming from one organization.  For the faults of this organization, I am impressed that they are willing to step up and financially support a church plant like that.

      Matt

    9. Tony Bedora on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Benny,
      You justify the crude violence of UFC but not beer. Interesting way to argue something especially since Jesus made and drank wine and told Peter to put the sword away. Just sayin’.

    10. Steve on Wed, April 28, 2010

      I know this denomination and because of it this the very capable Missions director has resigned. Once again biting off the nose to spite the face.

    11. Charles Hill on Wed, April 28, 2010

      I want to chime in real quick. THANKS TODD for your LOVE IN CHRIST for putting this out.

      1. I am not an alcohol fan. 2 places to meet non-LDS: bar [we don’t even have 1 official bar…we meet at an “Applebee’s” type place] and coffee shops. Our beer is 1/2 percentage of normal, and we enforce a 2 beer limit, so it would be 1 normal beer.

      2. Childcare is for ALPHA [sans alcohol and on a different night], not B and B…come on!

      3. We just last week [great timing huh?] sent out our individual support packets to friends, families and churches. Our main support was $250K spread out over 2 years. The other 30K was for THE STICKS. And quite true…cost of living is much higher hear, but a typical church plant needs 300-450K to start WELL. Of course, the results are up to Jesus.

      4. Thanks for the support friends, and even the disagreement. Come on out…open invite to see 25+ cities without 1 non-LDS church in them…it will blow your mind. That’s why we left our friends and family to answer the call. [Oh…just to add some insult: there are only 91 churches [70% are 60 or less people at that] for over 1M people!] I just preached in rural Arkansas and there were close to 200 church in a county of 40K!

      5. I have one potential planter coming for a visit next month…how about you? [Or just come on out if you are not a planter we could use a visit or encouragement…you will in shock at what you see].

      God will provide, and if not, people pay a lot to fly out and here and camp in the mountains…we will do it for free:)

    12. Peter Hamm on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Charles,

      Your heart… we need more like it…

    13. Brian L. on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Hey Charles,

      Just wanted to let you know that our denomination is also planting a church in Utah (Just south of Salt Lake).  Not meeting in an Applebee’s or anything like that, but still meeting and hoping to launch services soon.

      Apparently God is moving hearts for planters to go to Utah.  That’s awesome.

      Praying that your funding comes in soon, and that many will find Christ through your ministry!

    14. Eddie Jones on Wed, April 28, 2010

      I love the heart of Charles Hill. You inspire me…We do similar things to reach the UnConvinced of our community. We provide Designated Drivers to 2 bars in our community and we also provide home-cooked meals to the employees of a local strip club. Keep rocking it

    15. CS on Wed, April 28, 2010

      Charles:

      Thanks for being willing to discuss things here.  I have a few questions, if you don’t mind.

      -You said that the only two places to meet non-LDS people are at bars and coffee shops.  That makes sense given their avoidance of alcohol and caffeine.  But what about other public forums that LDS and non-LDS alike visit, like grocery stores, restaurants, and libraries?  Did you use mass-mailers in contacting the community?  What about going door-to-door and sharing the Gospel with people?

      -I also understand how it may be, “easier,” to hit up the non-LDS in town, since they would be probably opposed to Mormonism.  But did you reach out to the LDS people and share the Gospel with them, too?  What strategies did you use there?


      CS

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