Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Steve Kelly and Wave Church - Cultic Teachings on Leadership

The following is a link to my podcast reviewing the sermon "Is Your Destiny Connected to Your Leader?", by Steve Kelly of Wave Church in Virginia Beach, VA.

This link leads to the email exchange between myself and Wave Church Associate Pastor Clayton Ritter on December 30, 2012.

The following is a copy of the email sent to me by Frank Rue (shared with his permission).

from: Frank Rue 
to: Tony-Allen
date: Thu, May 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM
subject: Re: Greetings; Wave Church

Tony-Allen -

We were given an audio cassette (it was a while ago, haha) of "Your Destiny is Connected To Your Leader", and it was much more direct than the more recent one you've mentioned. The more recent one is a lot more tame. I wish I could dig up the old one, but it is not available anymore.

My wife was the Executive Administrator for our church in New Jersey, and our church was the church in the Wave Network that was responsible for making most of their materials, including the Network Church Handbook. I still have copies of the handbook, electronically, and it contains the requirement of listening to the original "Your Destiny is Connected to Your Leader" language. This requirement is for leaders of the church (pastors on down through small group leaders). The handbook is certainly something I can dig up, if you think it would be worth the time.

When our pastors in New Jersey were caught in adultery, Steve Kelly himself came up and gave a "talk" wherein he said anyone who went against him or the elders was using witchcraft and manipulation to divide the church, and to have nothing to do with them. Also, when I had a disagreement with the pastor earlier in my time there, my wife and I were shunned until we "repented" and apologized to the pastor and then publicly for having "gone astray". No, we didn't sin—we literally just disagreed with and spoke up about it to the pastors directly. For that we were branded "rebellious" and "arrogant", and people were told we were "working through things" and we "needed to be left alone".

Further, our pastor's wife (also considered a pastor) spoke on being a "Prodigal". She equated the story of the Prodigal Son in the bible to the idea that a person sometimes makes bad choices, turns away from the church (read: gets kicked out), and cannot be contacted at all until they are pitifully begging for forgiveness, at the end of their rope and totally broken. My wife personally was contacted by a former church member once (who we did not know was kicked out) and, upon asking her small group leader about what to do, was told NOT to respond to the former church member and to ignore her so she wouldn't be "sucked into her hurtful world", or something of that sort. 

I know of a particular ex-military leader who once participated at many Wave Network events as a speaker. He once questioned something Steve Kelly said whilst at a Network Pastor's Breakfast, was reprimanded, and then was ostracized by all of the pastors in the network over the next 6 months. Effectively, no one had him speak any longer at any of their events or churches, and he was forced to find another outlet for his ministry. When he called to ask Steve Kelly what happened, he was gruffly refused by the administrative staff and told that Steve Kelly didn't have time for his phone calls.

This is all common practice among the Wave Network churches (and Hillsong churches, for that matter), Wave itself, and our former church. It is almost exclusively the reason for the label "cult", frankly, though there are a number of other reasons which more than qualify the "churches" for such a moniker.

Hope this helps!


This link sends you to Frank Rue's Disconnect Church blog. It mostly covers The Connect Church, which is part of the Wave Network, but many of the issues are the same.

This link sends you to Frank Rue's Diakonos blog. Plenty of posts here are well worth the read. Of particular interest, in regards to this topic, is his Cult of Personalities post.