Warning! Northside Family Worship Center in Cumming Georgia is now called Eastgate Church [www.eastgatechurch.org
]. My concern is Roger and David continue to try and distance themselves from a long history of church problems. As a 15 year member of their church in Novato - Marin Christian Life Church - I witnessed first hand the destruction their leadership and doctrine had on people's lives. During my time at their church, there were several significant church splits. These splits were not just a few disgruntled members leaving over doctrinal differences, but associate pastors, board members and key church leaders leaving.
Here's a brief list of church splits I witnessed and my perspective of the key issues:
1987 Associate Pastor Mike Horn and large group of congregants leave. Issues: unsure as I was not connected to this group of people.
1989 Key members and financial contributors Tripp & Barbara Curtis leave. Issues: alleged impropriety by one of Roger Houtsma's sons, false doctrine, and nepotism.
1992 Ron Enroth's Churches that Abuse book (read online for free: [www.ccel.us
]) comes out and causes huge uproar in the church as an anonymous couple name Marin Christian Life as a destructive church in chapter 4. Several sermons, prophecies, and prayer meetings are aimed at "walking in the light" and how God doesn't recognize "anonymous" because they can't walk in the light. Book is dismissed and alleged sources slandered for their part in the book.
1995 Associate Pastor David Mackay and a large group of congregants leave. Note: Pastor David was a very well loved pastor. He was co-pastor with Roger and traveled overseas to participate in many of Roger's "crusades." Issues: Roger Houtsma's leadership, control, narcissism, and nepotism.
1999 Long time board members, financial contributors, and World Outreach Crusade Directors Peter Omran & Troy Taylor leave along with a large group of congregants. Issues: Financial impropriety, false doctrine, plagiarism, and nepotism.
2001 Largest church split ever and several hundred people leave over the course of a year including associate pastors, worship leader, choir director, and the bookeeper for both the church and Roger Houtsma's World Outreach Ministry. Issues: immorality, financial impropriety, false doctrine, and nepotism. This split was the result of allegations Roger's son Nathan, the pastor of King of Kings Church in Chico, CA was involved with a 17 year old girl. He was married at the time. There was an investigation into the extent of the involvement with the minor, but no charges were ever brought. The Assemblies of God investigated, but certain ministers let their credentials lapse so no disciplinary action was able to be brought. During this same time, the bookeeper also presented a long list of financial allegations to the church board and the Assemblies of God. Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma, and Greg Mervich (the Christian Life School Principal) all received large severance packages and moved to Georgia with their families and a small number of board members and congregants. The church in Chico eventually closed its doors.
I bring this history to light because its important to understand where church leaders come from and what they have left behind. Anyone currently or considering involvement at Eastgate should review this history carefully. The "fruit" or results of the Houtsma's ministry/leadership has been a long history of splits, divisions, fleeing co-pastors, congregants and key leaders, and closed ministries.
Another concern I have is with regards to this specific name change. One of the Houtsma's core teachings was around the glory of God and how God would raise an end time generation (Elijah Company / Tithe Company) who would usher in God's glory. Eastgate states on their home page that this new name comes from Ezekiel 43:4 "The LORD's glory came into the temple through the east gate" (God's Word Translation 1995). In a recent blog post by Senior Pastor, David Houtsma he writes "OK, I admit it. I have a vision to be the most influential church on the block....." [activerain.com
]. While God's glory and "being the most influential church on the block" sound enticing to Christians who want to live a radical life and change the world, these emphasis stem from heretical doctrine and often lead to control, manipulation, and unhealthy community. Please see Roger Houtsma's personal view on the Latter Rain movement here: [www.rhwo.org
]. Even though the Assemblies of God denounced it as a heretical move, Roger never does the same. He espouses the awesome nature of this "revival" and attributes any problems to leaders without character.
I hope this will help anyone currently attending or considering attendance at Eastgate church in Cumming Georgia.
Northside Family Worship Center has been previously covered in a topic here: [forum.culteducation.com