Update on Todd Bentley - Note from Bill Johnson
"This is a note from our friend Bill Johnson about Todd Bentley that is a pretty good update for those of you who are interested in Todd's restoration and ministry. I will be writing my own report and update later. I thank all of you who have stood by us and the Bentley's through this and ask you to continue praying for their future direction."
~ Rick Joyner
Several of the members of Revival Alliance flew to Lakeland, Florida in 2008 both to observe and bless what God was doing through Todd Bentley. He was taking a lot of hits from highly respected leaders pertaining to that outpouring. We went there to lend our support and possibly add our strengths to the movement. We have all been on the receiving end of similar accusations against what God was doing in our ministries and churches. Each of us had developed a friendship and an informal partnership with Todd over the years. We have had great respect for the gift and anointing upon his life.
Before the Lakeland Revival, I had not only worked with Todd in ministry but also met with him, along with some of the core staff from Fresh Fire Ministry, to help him in the broken areas of his marriage. He was advised to cut back on ministry and get help. He did as was requested.
Fast forward: I was assured that there was great improvement in the Bentley marriage. Todd started to travel again with great breakthrough anointing. Lakeland actually started fairly soon after his return to travel. The outpouring happened exactly as had been prophesied. Interestingly, after some time in the revival, the same prophet who had prophesied the revival also warned of its collapse if Todd’s personal issues weren’t addressed properly.
Within days of Revival Alliance’s time in Lakeland, Todd’s marriage imploded. Both prophetic words were true. We were all grieved for the effect it would have on people who had been touched by Todd’s ministry, especially the young people who looked to Todd as an example to follow. The consequences could be devastating. We grieved over the effect it would have on the Lakeland outpouring itself, as well as outpourings in general. Our hearts go out to those who have given themselves to unselfishly serve the great work of God only to be let down by its leader. We grieved especially for Todd and his family, who would suffer from the choices that were made.
Immediate prayers were offered up for all of the above. Repentance would be needed. Deep repentance. The Revival Alliance team felt it best that I be the one to represent them because of my history with Todd and my involvement with the marriage issues.
My heart has always been for Todd the person, not the ministry. He’s a friend. Ministry is supposed to come out of who we are, not what we can do through our spiritual gifts. In the time that has passed since the initial breakup, I have never met with Todd wanting to get him back in the pulpit. I’ve only met with him and prayed for him to see him healthy, knowing the rest will take care of itself.
Todd and I met fairly soon after things fell apart. During those hours together, I asked the appropriate questions you ask of a friend after failure. I then strongly encouraged him to take advantage of Rick Joyner’s offer for him to move out to Morningstar Ministries in Charlotte, North Carolina. I knew that Rick was both capable and willing to work with him for restoration. Todd agreed.
Rick has the experience in restoration and the “community” setting that would be good for Todd. He is a trusted friend, one of the few I know with the experience needed to work in such a high profile case. (There is such a temptation in high profile cases to make decisions according to how they appear to others, and not directly with the fallen person in mind. People who are moved by the opinions of others work to appease the media and/or the Christian critics instead of working to restore. Rick is more resistant to that temptation than anyone I know. It was and is a necessary trait if we want to see true restoration.)
Over the last three years, I have met with Todd on several occasions, as well as with Rick and Todd together. Rick and I have also talked privately, as he has worked hard to include me on critical issues. It’s not been a lot, but they have both worked to keep me in touch. It needs to be clear Rick and his team are the spear point of this process.
Rick has worked with Todd over every accusation that has been brought up. He has mentioned to me on several occasions that Todd has responded very well to each situation. He has been extremely transparent and repentant over his issues. Necessary steps are always taken to make sure Todd is able to clean up his mess.
Rick called me a while back saying that he wanted to start to use Todd in ministry in a safe place. The safe place idea was for Todd’s sake. The perfect setting for this was, of course, Morningstar Ministry. This is where Rick could observe and monitor Todd’s progress, or, on the other hand, see areas that needed attention. Rick has told me many times how encouraged he has been with Todd’s personal transformation as well as some positive changes in ministry.
The next step has been to release Todd to minister with trusted friends who could benefit from and help in the process of Todd’s restoration. This is in process right now, and the fruit has been good. I have now ministered with Todd in both settings—Morningstar and at a conference in Texas. It was good to see Todd in ministry again. He handled himself well and functioned under great anointing, and much more out of “rest.” The fruit of the ministry was very good.
I have been involved from day one, although at quite a distance—both geographically and in time spent. Whenever I’m with Todd, I talk to him about his family. It’s not that he needs reminding that is an area that needs attention. It is in his heart. I just want to make sure that he is doing everything necessary to serve his family well in this very difficult situation. Todd has always responded well to my questions. I’ve been very happy with his sense of responsibility in that area.
One of the more important contacts in this process has been with Brent Borthwick. He is Shonnah’s pastor. Brent is a trusted personal friend of mine and represents Todd’s ex-wife and kids with compassion and wisdom. He has spent time with Todd since his move to Morningstar and has affirmed that from his point of view, Todd is doing well. He also told me he was pleased at how much at peace Todd seemed to be. Brent’s perspective is important to me, for obvious reasons. He was also able to verify that Todd has taken care of Shonnah and the kids financially in an honorable way and continues to do so.
I am pleased with Todd’s progress as a person, and now as a minister of the gospel. He is more at peace with himself than any time I’ve known him. Most of all, I am thrilled with the job Rick and the Morningstar team have done in serving Todd and trust Rick’s perspective. Todd needed a great leader to stand up with him and for him, but he also needed to fit into a community of believers that would be honest and confronting when needed. This has been provided for him.
How long should it take for someone who has fallen to be restored to ministry? I wish I knew. I had a more absolute answer to that question before I had much experience. After many years now of working with broken people, I no longer know have a set time in mind. Every situation is different. The advice I’ve heard has ranged from “he should never be in ministry again” to “immediately—once forgiven a person should get back to what they’re called to do.” I don’t like either of those answers.
Some have called for extreme punishment. It’s been said, “We must make an example out of Todd.” But if we’re honest, punishment isn’t really for the person who sinned. It is really to make the punisher feel better about the situation for which they have no control. As those who work with broken people we have responsibility for Todd and his family but also for the impact on the body of Christ. Whatever we do, it must be redemptive in nature for all of the above.
I don’t want to do anything that will cause young people to think they can intentionally sin, say they’re sorry, and go about life as though nothing happened. That is so far from reality. Sin has consequences that must not be ignored. (I don’t say this to imply that Todd has taken his sin or situation flippantly. I don’t believe that is true. It is just a possible message I don’t want to convey when we release a person back into ministry.) On the other hand, I also don’t want to miss the chance to demonstrate what the grace of God looks like. There are so many that are in Todd’s position that need to know that God forgives and restores. People need permission to truly live as though they are forgiven. That is the greater story.
In conclusion, I recommend Todd to you, believing that you will be blessed and encouraged by his ministry. But perhaps even more important is the fact that Todd will be a reminder to us that it is possible to stand after such a great fall. We all live by grace, and only by grace. We desperately need examples of those who have walked in integrity all of their lives. But when there is sin, we need examples of restoration to bring hope to the broken people, many of whom are in our congregations. God will use Todd to be a message of restoration.
Redding, California 96003