GracePointe Church

November 9, 2017

GracePointe and the Elusive LGBT-affirming Megachurch

A once-large Nashville-area Evangelical congregation that made headlines after its pastor announced that the church would conduct same-sex marriages is selling its campus and relocating to rented space.

After his announcement of LGBT support in 2015, Pastor Stan Mitchell of GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee was profiled in Time magazine. But what was a much sought-after sign of Evangelical movement towards LGBT affirmation may have been wishful thinking on the part of cultural progressives pouring money into programs that aim to shift Evangelical pastors’ views on sexuality.

A Consequential Change

Time’s Elizabeth Dias identified GracePointe as “one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community.”

GracePointe, with 700-800 weekly attendees at its height, was not actually a megachurch, typically defined as a congregation with worship attendance greater than 2,000 persons.

Perhaps more so than oldline Protestant denominations, pastor-driven structures of Evangelical churches are well-attuned to their constituency. Evangelical institutions that have waffled about Biblical teaching on human sexual expression – such as World Vision’s short-lived policy change allowing those in same-sex marriages to be employed by the Christian nonprofit – have quickly reversed course as donors promptly redirected their giving elsewhere.

GracePointe was no exception: a 2015 article from the Nashville Scene reported significant departures: both members of the church’s Board of Elders and half of the congregation’s 2,200-person membership quickly decamped following the LGBT announcement.

“A happy ending has not materialized,” the Scene reported. “Members have left, and the very fate of the church is at risk.”

Changes ultimately were not limited to teachings on sexuality. In August, the Nashville Star reported that GracePointe would share space with another progressive congregation, now describing itself as “unapologetically interfaith”.

A visitor to a recent service counted approximately 240 attendees, a fraction of the number that once participated.

“The public embrace of LGBTQI people and same-sex relationships by Mitchell and GracePointe Church in 2015 has led to a major decline in attendance and revenue,” Out & About Nashville reported in September. “The half-empty lot bears evidence of a minor exodus over two years of congregants.”

GracePointe has listed the 12,000-square-foot modernist chapel and 22 acre property where the church has met since 2009. The property, initially listed in February at $7.5 million, was dropped to $5.7 million in March and $4.9 million in April according to real estate records. The property is now under contract according to the Franklin Patch, and the sale could finalize by year’s end.

The loss of more than half of the congregation has hurt GracePointe’s financial stability, Mitchell told Out & About Nashville. The congregation is hoping the sale of the church property, along with budget and staff cutbacks, will improve finances.

Gracepointe’s ministries and staff have scaled back. The church now styles itself as “a progressive Christian community” complete with $20 T-shirts for sale declaring that “Love is a Human Right” in all capital letters. Aside from archived video sermons by Mitchell, the web site features little else about church programs, staff or ministries. Mitchell and a lone administrator are presently the only staff listed on the church’s web site.

Canary in the Coal Mine

While GracePointe was not the flagship church that LGBT advocates had hoped for, Mitchell continues to appear before appreciative progressive Christian audiences. This month he participates in a Little Rock-area panel discussion on LGBT issues alongside Peggy Campolo, wife of Evangelical Left evangelist Tony Campolo, liberal Episcopal priest Ed Bacon, and Jay Bakker, son of televangelist Jim Bakker.

Fresh from consolidating victories in several mainline Protestant churches, LGBT activist groups have been eager to make inroads into the large U.S. Evangelical population. Secular philanthropies such as the Arcus Foundation have long supported LGBT-affirming caucus groups within the Protestant Mainline, such as the Reconciling Ministries Network that operates within the United Methodist Church. Groups with a primary focus on the Evangelical community, such as the Reformation Project – which seeks wider LGBT acceptance within evangelical churches – are also among grantees.

The Arcus Foundation granted $150,000 to the Reformation Project in 2017 “to train and equip evangelical leaders to advocate for LGBT acceptance and equality.” The grant follows prior Arcus funding for the group in 2016 and 2014.

Arcus explained that its 2014 grant to the Reformation Project enabled “training of LGBT-affirming Christians to use scriptural arguments in dialogue around acceptance within conservative churches in Kansas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.”

The group “plans to use support to reach out to millennial and older evangelicals who struggle with condemnation of homosexuality.”

A grant of $75,000 was also awarded by Arcus to the interdenominational Union Theological Seminary in New York City “to help the Union Theological School expand its Pro-LGBT Evangelical Christian Network, to serve as a counterpoint to the religiously grounded homophobia often promoted by conservative evangelical churches.”

Arcus has been a long-term supporter of a politically liberal public policy organization, Faith in Public Life. In 2015, “the organization received funding to continue its work with evangelicals, seeking to shift religious leaders toward a publicly visible stance in opposition to discrimination.”

It remains to be seen if groups like the Reformation Project and Faith in Public Life are ultimately successful in shifting views among prominent Evangelical pastors. In the meantime, LGBT advocates will continue their search for the elusive LGBT-affirming megachurch. Where they won’t find it is at the former GracePointe campus in Franklin, Tennessee, now vacant.

UPDATE [11/14/2017]: The Nashville Tennessean reports that the Franklin campus of Cross Point has signed a lease agreement with Grace Pointe with an option to purchase and will move into the former GracePointe property. Cross Point is a growing multi-site Evangelical congregation in the greater Nashville area. According to Cross Point’s web site, “While Cross Point’s ministry is innovative, what we believe about God is not. Our core beliefs are centered in Christ and His message as found in the Bible.”


31 Responses to GracePointe and the Elusive LGBT-affirming Megachurch

  1. No surprise. When your main selling point is that you are indistinguishable from the world, why would people bother? They get the same “religion” for free 24×7 from public schools, mainstream media, government, colleges & entertainment. http://wp.me/p5O8SK-69C

    Hopefully churches will learn not to be taken in by wolves like Vines, the Campolos, etc. They are just another tool of Satan to destroy your church.

  2. Fr. Richard Jones says:

    Divide and conquer is the LBGTQ strategy. Wolves in sheep”s clothing which attempt to devour a weak church which was built on sand. Ultimately, the LBGTQ agenda will devour itself because Satan always over plays his hand. I thank God that His promise is that the gates of hell won’t prevail against the Church.

    • Carlene says:

      Thank you Father Jones. One thing I don’t understand is how can people be morally pure or sanctified walking in sexual immorality? It is one thing to say the LGBT community wants Christians to accept same sex marriages. However, how are we suppose to deal with bi-sexuals. Should a woman be married and have a female wife and a male husband? The churches need to realize we need to defend our faith against immorality. Will our churches have bi-sexual ceremonies. After all if we shouldn”t discriminate against lesbians and gays getting married then we shouldn’t discriminate again anyone in LGBT? Our churches are being attacked and will be destroyed if we don”t stand up and defend our faith.

      • Sam says:

        I feel so very sorry for you not having the appropriate understanding of what it means for someone to be bisexual. I pray you get to know someone who is bisexual so that you may educate yourself on this topic. I pray God opens your eyes to see that His children are all around you- gay-straight- bisexual. If you woke up tomorrow and had feelings for the same sex and tried your whole life to pray those feelings away without fail and yet still had them- I wonder if your understanding would change. I can only hope you dive into this issue a bit more and try to understand and give the lgbt community the same grace Christ has afforded you. That is if you truly care about God’s children enough to.

  3. Jim Reed says:

    You may listen to my message on same sex marriage entitled: “The Miracle of Marriage Has Not Changed” on the following link: http://christianlifetools.org/705007

    • Penny says:

      Jim, I went to your website and would like to quote you for others: “To state that moral law and civil law do not mix is a huge mistake which, history has proven again and again, ultimately leads to the destruction of life. Therefore, the best starting place for discussing same-sex marriage is indeed the moral law. It is this very moral law that is being ignored in the debate on same-sex marriage. If we are mere animals, then let’s do what animals do and may the strongest survive. If we are endowed by our Creator with certain transcendent moral laws, it would be only inviting disaster to turn our backs to this reality. The attack on sexual morality will NOT stop at marriage. There will be no higher law to stop the next moral descent to the lowest common denominator. There must be something in this life that is much more than common. There must be some things sacred. The moral foundation of this nation is one of them. ” You are exactly right, Jim!

  4. Eternalwolf says:

    Great article. This just goes to show that these advocates aren’t really interested in going to church or in spiritual matters. They really only have one singular purpose: to promote the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

  5. Scott says:

    When the church embraces all the vile sins that humanity can ascribe to and proclaims they are right and just, it’s doomed already…either here in the mortal realm or down the road in eternity.

  6. Donald says:

    I would not call a drop in weekly attendance from “700-800” to “250” a “minor exodus.” Obviously it is hard for the fake news outlets to speak the truth.

  7. Jessica says:

    My former church where I grew up embraced the LGBT with flags God is Still Speaking attached to the side of our beautiful historic church in 2005. They offer anything goes sex Ed called “Our Whole Lives” to the children. The church is nearly empty and struggling financially to stay open. They had to take down those black & red flags because members’ friends & neighbors asked “is your church a gay church now?” By the way it was a United Church of “Christ” which is failing miserably as you have reported. For me? I spent a couple of years searching for the truth and found it in the Catholic Church.

    • Aria says:

      I read your comment, Jessica and can only say from the personal experience of having grown up in the cult that is Roman catholicism, from which Jesus saved and delivered me, is to run from there as fast as you can. They are a works-based religious cult which teaches a lot of man-made tradition and rituals and mixes many lies which are nowhere in the Holy Bible with a little bit of Jesus. Just their mass alone is utter blasphemy against Him. I IMPLORE you to seek the Lord Jesus with regard to Roman catholicism and read the Holy Bible for yourself. Jesus Himself said, “..and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Roman catholicism is spiritual bondage. I thank my Savior for freeing me from it. I pray you take to heart my words. It will save you a world of grief. God bless you. <

    • Mark says:

      Dear Jessica, welcome home to the Church! I found my way here, too, after much prayer, study, and reading the bible. It is good to be Catholic!

    • Jim says:

      Jessica,
      I was a Roman Catholic for a number of years and finally left that system once I became grounded in the truth of scripture. Despite what you may hear from fellow Catholics, the doctrine of the church is based on human works and not on grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. Hence, the doctrine of purgatory exists in Roman Catholicism, which is not found in the scriptures. Paul wrote in Romans, “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Chpt. 10 verse 17.)” There is truth in the Catholic church but again, their doctrine strays from the scripture. I encourage you Jessica to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help clarify things in your mind. When I first left that church, I was quite angry having felt I was deceived for years. That anger is gone but, my firm conviction that the Roman Catholic doctrine is not in accordance with scripture remains. If you haven’t already sought out resources on line, I encourage you to do so. There are many excellent resources available and pastor teachers such as Tim Keller; Kevin DeYoung; Chuck Smith and Charles Swindoll are but a few that I have found very helpful over the years. God bless.

  8. Leon M. Green says:

    At the deepest levels, they probably still don’t know what they are doing. Jesus said no fornication. We may try to edify, but nevertheless we MUST leave the judging to him at the last day.

  9. Had the constitutional framers (like their 17th-century Christian Colonial predecessors) established government and society upon Yahweh’s unchanging moral law (including Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13), there would no homosexual agenda in America because no sodomite or lesbian would dare risk exposing themselves (pun intended) to petition government for their “rights.”

    For more on how Yahweh’s immutable moral law applies and should be implemented today, see free online book “Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant” at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/law-kingdomFrame.html.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

  10. Thomas says:

    Its sad to see Tony Campolo who whose to be a fine evangelist and lead many people to Christ in such a bad company.

  11. Terry says:

    The TRUTH. is found in the Holy Bible. Revelation tells what happens to all of those who do not repent of their sins, accept Jesus Christ, and try to live a holy life as HE directed. No sin will enter Heaven.

  12. Robert Johnson says:

    I have been following this “church’s” trajectory downward ever since the Time’s article. What a sad story indeed, watching a leader succumb to his feelings then uphold the word of our Lord. What is even sadder is the very people who helped build this ministry with him were betrayed and those who still believe in him and what he is preaching are being led to disillusionment and ultimately their own destruction. I am all for bringing the good news of our Lord to all people, but in our Lord’s way not the worldly way.

    While he articulates well, he readily admits his own faith can be very shallow at times. With that being said, would not an honest and reverent man recuse and reflect than teach others?

    As always, thank you Jeff for writing about this and the truth that comes with it. May God bless you.

    These verses always come into my mind whenever I read about him or others of the like, that teach and hold the hearts, minds and the eternal life of others in their hands.

    2 Timothy 4
    1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

  13. Mateusz says:

    I think most divide issue iwas establish of protestant churches. Protestants have got very wealth tradition to divide themselves and what is sad divide christians.

  14. James says:

    Sounds alike the UMC that I once belonged to. It went from 1,800 members to less than 300 today within 10 years all because of the liberals that thought they could openly accept LGBT people by putting them on a pedestal and call themselves a “reconciling congregation”.

  15. Tina Peters says:

    This is the most ridiculously futile attempt to challenge the Word of God that I have ever heard of in existence. Such ignorance of who our Creator God is…that He is sovereign, all powerful omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent……that our God is holy….Such ignorance of these biblical truths about who our Creator God is, at best, is just plain gut wrenching sad!! The truths contained in the Holy Bible are immutable! It’s sort of like a cake in that, you can cut it any way you want, it’s still a cake as long as the contents remain unchanged. When you change the contents, it becomes something else. The Holy Bible is the Word of God as long as its contents continue to relay the absolute mind of God in all its savoring glory.
    No bible preaching Christian church will ever attempt to embrace homosexuality or perform gay marriages without losing its position in the Body of Christ as a God fearing congregation. There’s no compromising the Word of God without consequences. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Holy Bible is immutable, yesterday, today and forever!

  16. Sam Wise says:

    It is interesting that the concept of ‘tolerance’ by the Left is a one-way street. You will ‘tolerate’ whatever we say you will tolerate or we will sue you, slander you, and try to ruin you financially. When the weaker hands accept the Left’s call to change; it eventually leads to their ruin.

  17. John Mackey says:

    Stan is a fraud. Numerous affairs and has been married at least twice. Complete scum of the earth. Was “counseling” women privately in his office. This guy is evil and a complete POS!

  18. Nancy Mitchell says:

    I am the 2nd ex-wife of Stan Mitchell and co-founder of GracePointe Church.
    It’s unreal what this man is capable of. Someday I will tell my story.

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Hello Nancy, when the time is right to tell your story, please let me know. Something tells me that this article isn’t the last to be written about GracePointe.

  19. Jacob says:

    Jesus paid the price for breaking boundaries, calling out the religious establishment, and reaching out in love to the “least of these”

    He also foretold that those carrying his message in truth would suffer the same hostility and rejection. Nowhere have I seen a more evident example than GracePointe over the last few years.

    It has been said, the arc of the moral universe is long, and often cruel to it’s purveyors in the present, but ultimately bends towards Gods truth and justice. I believe this is true.

    God bless pastor Stan and Gracepointe church for their courage.

  20. Jack White says:

    Stan was having sex with numerous women at GracePointe. This after being fired at Christ Church for the same thing. He is a scum bag that has no conscious.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *