Paula White

May 10, 2019

Paula White and Concerns Over Ministry Nepotism

President Donald J. Trump’s spiritual advisor and non-denominational televangelist Paula White officially stepped down as senior pastor of her Apopka, Florida megachurch, New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC). She has pastored NDCC since 2012 and made the unexpected announcement to her 10,000-member church on Sunday, saying:

All along I knew that God had said, meaning this, you’re a transitional pastor. Not meaning that I would ever leave Apopka or New Destiny as it was. Not that. But I knew that I wasn’t taking us into the promised land.

And:

The Lord spoke to me very clearly and said if you miss this moment you’ll delay things. Do not miss this moment. So today I am officially installing Pastor Brad and Pastor Rachel as the senior pastors over city of destiny. Everybody stand up on your feet because this is God’s plan.

White then immediately installed her only child Bradley Knight and daughter-in-law Rachel as the new senior pastors over her multi-cultural, majority-black megachurch.

“Welcome to your new beginning,” White declared to standing applause.

Interestingly, White does not plan to entrust New Destiny to her son and daughter-in-laws’ hands entirely. Her new role is now “oversight pastor,” which will allow her to expand New Destiny Christian Center under the new banner “City of Destiny.” She aims to plant 3,000 church plants, be a “pastor to pastors,” launch a university, and, of course, continue Paula White ministries.

White is a controversial Christian figure. She has been called a prosperity preacher and criticized for her unquestioning public support of President Trump, which cost her church between 200 and 300 in members and $10,000 in weekly giving, as reported by The Christian Post. Critics have also questioned her personal life, including the purchase of a private jet, a condominium in Trump Tower, and three marriages.

Here, it is White’s decision to elevate her son and daughter-in-law as her successors that has me rolling my eyes, in all honesty.

Perhaps NDCC’s staff website is outdated, but the staff page lists Doug Shackleford as the executive pastor and Edward Boateng as associate pastor. Just this last month, Shackleford preached during at least two services (available on NDCC’s Facebook page), which tells me that he is likely still on staff. More interesting, White’s daughter-in-law Rachel Knight is listed as “Donor Relations Coordinator.” There is no mention of White’s son Bradley, although a 2017 Christian Post article identifies him as an associate pastor.

It’s not uncommon for Evangelical leaders to establish their children as successors to their massive ministries. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee to a degree, and others have handed the torch over to their sons.

Personally, I’m skeptical of this seemingly nepotistic trend. But at times it is difficult to critique a person’s decision without knowing all of the facts. Does it seem like favoritism to elevate an associate pastor and donor relations coordinator as senior pastors when, seemingly, there are more qualified church members on staff? To me, yes. But I can also understand that it is probably challenging to build a church or parachurch ministry and not want to choose your child, who you trust, as successor. But even for those who built churches and ministries from the ground up, the church is not theirs but belongs to God and entrusted to the congregation.

It’s good that children of famous Christian leaders want to do good works for the Lord. Great! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to bless their child and give them a hand up in life? That’s a parent’s natural instinct. So as a mother, I can honestly say that I would be tempted to do the same if in the same position. Who doesn’t want to see their child succeed? But as fallen sinners, we all want to do things in our own timing and according to our own fleshly desires.

Perhaps it is not for me to say or know if pastors who choose their children as their successors is a precarious trend. The flesh in me wants to call it nepotism. May God convict me if I’m wrong. But may we all be convicted of our own egos and the temptation to determine God’s plans for ourselves, always remember that our purpose is to further His kingdom, not our own.


19 Responses to Paula White and Concerns Over Ministry Nepotism

  1. Jim says:

    The apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy about false teachers- Paula White is of the same ilk as Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers and other spiritual hucksters. It saddens me that she has such a prominent place at the White House. President Trump needs authentic and sound spiritual advice. The health and wealth prophets will do more harm than good.

  2. Mary Frances Begley says:

    Get over it! We do not possess all the information in either subject started here! This is a woman of God who has had many challenges and has met them all through faith; worked hard by faith and stands in faith to further the Gospel! Leave her alone!’n

    • Donna Roberts says:

      Hey Ms. Begley. I think the author did a good job of checking herself. She admitted her feelings about this were personal but if you are a child of God, that could be discernment and a call to prayer. I don’t she should “get over it” as you suggest but perhaps we ought to all “pray over it” Jesus is real. His church is real and He is really going to return and all of us have to give an account for how we behave now. God Bless You, Ms. Mary.

  3. Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary says:

    Clerical nepotism in the independent, non-denominational (IN-D) church world has a mixed record. While Franklin Graham appears to be doing good and well, the son of Granville Oral Roberts isn’t well known outside the Oral Roberts University venue.

    While nepotism in clerical advancement in the UMC isn’t a common factor in appointments, other manifestations of favoritism are not unknown.

    There is a crack in the nepotism scheme, though. In the IN-D world, the direct descendent of a departing pastor may be selected to succeed their parent, but that does not guarantee their success.

    If the successor to an effective pastor turns out to be a disappointment, the laity will eventually seek a replacement. (I witnessed that in a IN-D church where six of my family members attend.)

    Correspondingly, on the UMC side, I’ve watched generally ineffective pastoral leadership come near to driving what was once a successful church into the ground before the Cabinet acted. Same for the occasional overtly incompetent Bishop.

    • Michael Stidham says:

      At least in our conference, I’ve seen some people get their choice of appointments due to family connections. It happens in the UMC too.

  4. Geary Rowell says:

    That “keep it in the family” thing didn’t work out so well for Robert Schuller! There has to be some degree of competency in the donee if it’s going to work.

  5. April says:

    Where is apostolic succession in all of this? Under whose authority is this taking place? “So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to Him…” Some have made God in their own image and have anointed themselves to be His priests. Run, don’t walk, away from this!

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      White comes from a Pentecostal tradition, so her understanding of apostolic succession is different than that of historic, liturgical traditions. In this view, the person’s encounter with the Holy Spirit is one source of authority — although perhaps more grounded Pentecostal Christians will note that this is always tested alongside God’s word in the scriptures.

      White’s declaration that “this is God’s plan” displays her belief in continued revelation, and that she herself is delivering a prophetic message from the Lord. It’s a bold statement, and a significant step further than simply saying “after significant prayer and consultation with others, I believe this is the prudent course of action.”

  6. Creed S Pogue says:

    “Everybody stand up on your feet because this is God’s plan.”

    What was the discernment for that? How exactly did God communicate His wishes to Rev. White?

    We are all sinners and all fall short. Most of us are humbled by that. Some seem to be oblivious to it and have a difficult time distinguishing between their own desires and God’s.

  7. Esther Ruth says:

    I’m not surprised. These independent non-denominational churches run their churches like a corporate business adventure with the pastor as CEO. And this thing about spiritual Inheritance, belongs to their children only. They are kings and queens and their children are prince and princesses. Their kingdom is here on earth, it is obvious because of the prosperity they preach in the here and now.

  8. Stan Jefferson says:

    Since I have been through a situation like this (pastor wanted his son to take over after a tenure of almost 50 years–though not well-qualified) I would say like Solomon in Proverbs 15:22, “In many counselors, there is safety.” I don’t care how godly a person is, they can be prone to make bad judgments. I think she was unwise–at least.

  9. Graeme says:

    Good balanced article, New Zealand mega churches follow the same, promoting the children to rule. Like a business, its leaders dealing with the people they trust. It keeps the money in the family. Right or wrong, time and Jesus will let us all know.

  10. wt carpenter says:

    I prefer the message of love from Barry White not from Paula White
    They asked some Hindu wisemen what they thought about Christianity they said that’s the perspective built around Jesus the Christ ?we support him but we don’t care for the business of the various Christian denominations with their infighting .

  11. A. Siewert says:

    It’s quite clear that Ms. White/Cain is less than she’d like to think and far less accurate than a prophet. That someone can’t identify evil in the current president is its own witness and if that’s not clear, people need a lot more time in scripture.
    If she grasped the text reasonably well, she would also see that the legacy of Jehu makes clear that passing ministry onto children because they are one’s children is a losing idea.
    Franklin Graham has thrashed Billy’s work; the Falwells are faltering. You learn a lot about the foundations of a ministry when a founder leaves and followers take over–Was this rooted in the Word and in Christian community? If it was, it might hold up. If it was built on anything else–fame, personality, attraction power, book sales, a presidential connection, a university, whatever–it’s likely not to hold up.
    Look at Jehu.

    • Christine Truncale says:

      Just curious…do you realize Billy was a Freemason? He wasn’t what he seemed Im afraid and it seemed like many didnt catch this. Something to look into!

  12. Dennis Janson says:

    God told me not to bash these types of people but not to listen to them as Christ’s representatives. I have a right to discern false prophets. I would not listen to any ministry from this Trumpite Woman. (nor any pastor, preacher, etc who said Trump was ‘sent from God.) Any Christian who supports Trump there with in, then must disvalidiate the Bible, especially the BOOK OF JAMES. Trump and God seeking DO NOT MIX.

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