But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. - 2Peeter 2:1-3 (ESV)
Where do we start with this story? Let's deal with the basics first. Pastor Darnell Barrett of New Jersey Hillsong has resigned after being caught up in a quite inappropriate scandal. It appears that Barrett posted racy pictures of himself to his "close friends list" on Instagram. In the pictures, Barrett was shirtless in tightfitting workout pants that quite obviously were chosen because they highlighted his genitalia. The photos carried a message about him trying to fight against his depression and anxiety through the workouts. Barret is 32 years old, married and a father of two. As if this was not sleazy enough, the Hillsong pastor apparently went fishing with the picture for a possible affair by adding someone he knew from church to his "close friends list" so she would also see the pictures. He then messaged her saying he had accidentally added her to his close friends list where he said he shared some real raw 'sh*t with his friends. She was less than convinced of his attempt to pretend this was all innocent. She sent him a message including:
"Darnell, I'm not going to lie, I blocked your [sic] for a second but I've decided I need to say something to you. First off, I'm insulted that you wouldn't understand what you're doing but I'm not f--king stupid. For you to go out of your way to make it seem like you 'accidentally' added me to your close friends" and then, went out of your way to message me about it KNOWING that would make me go look is bulls--t. What pisses me off is knowing that I'm not the only person you've probably done this to. I'm actually horrified by the thought of how many other innocent girls you've manipulated with this ploy of yours"."
The woman insisted that they were not close nor friends but she admitted the pastor had previously reached out to her for relocation advice citing that he wanted to be off the grid but needed a liquor store close by. A message he sent with a heart emoji. All of this within the shadow of the stench of Carl Lentz stepping down from Hillsong NYC for an affair on his wife. So what do we do with this? Just yawn and move on? I think God gives us time to reflect and learn beloved and there are a few angles here worth reinforcing.
The first angle is to properly file this story. This is not a story about the church. This is a story about the apostate church. Hillsong is not part of the body of Christ. It never has been and it never will be. Brian Houston, who runs Hillsong, is a heretic. Remember this is a man who wrote a book literally titled, You Need More Money. Hillsong is so much more than prosperity gospel though. It is the purpose driven heresy on steroids. It literally has no standards for Christian behavior. It was Hillsong London that did the club song, "I Like to move It, Move It" during worship. The sleazy Silent Night debacle? That was the parent Hillsong in Australia. The youth pastor "dressed" as the naked cowboy at a women's conference? That was NYC Hillsong. I say this so we are aware and not dismayed. This will continue as the end times deepen. The bible warns us of such in the key verses. There will be false teachers among us, such as Darnell Barrett. Remember a false teacher can be false according to doctrine or the life that they live not being congruent with the bible. They may have been taught in bible college how to strategically put a sermon together but their life reveals they deny the Master who bought them. Many will follow what? Their sensuality! It is because of people like Darnell Barrett that the way of the truth will be blasphemed. How do you think the unsaved will receive this story? There goes those hypocritical Christians again! They will exploit you with false words! Just ask Barrett's intended victim if she feels like he tried to exploit her with false words. The great apostasy in Thessalonians is well underway beloved. Many are caught in churches like Hillsong and will stand before Christ saying Lord Lord. Just as many are caught in dead local churches following the same purpose driven schemes and seeker friendly dreams. Darnell Barrett is not my brother. He is the enemy of my Father.
Secondly, there is something still to be said for proper behavior as a Christian. As the Darnell Barrett's of the world have risen to prominence there has been a loosening of Christian norms. I am nowhere near perfect here either beloved. It is not cool or relevant to be using profanity as a Christian, let alone a pastor. Nor is the reference to needing a liquor store or the constant harping on fighting depression and anxiety. Let's be real. The warning signs must have been present. I find it incredulous to believe that he was only "raw" with this one person he did not even consider a close friend. Maybe Barrett and Carl Lentz should have been spending more time with their wives and less time touring the world with Justin Bieber or taking gym selfies. There is something to be said for adhering to biblical standards, which leads me to the final point.
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. - 1Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
These verses make up the majority of the biblical qualifications to be a pastor. I have heard many Christians including pastors, claim these standards are unreachable. Nonsense. It is time we start expecting more from those who claim called to lead God's sheep. The sad truth is Darnell Barrett never should have been a pastor but the apostate church seeks cult of personalities to lead their businesses according to the purpose driven church model. They convince them that their job is to grow the church but the bible says in Acts 2 that this is the job of God. So is it any wonder so many pastors, apostate or not fail and fall? You would too if you were trying to do God's job!
So lets wash the story of Darnell Barrett off from us and realize that he may have been more lucky than he now realizes. At least he is no longer misrepresenting God and lying from the pulpit. So pray for him that someone shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him that he might be saved. Oh and if you have not already, mark and avoid Hillsong, including their music.