Controversy

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