Assemblies of God LGBT

LGBT-Affirming Former Assemblies of God Church Exits Campus Months Later

Jeffrey Walton on March 25, 2021

Less than a year after an Assemblies of God (AG) church embraced “full affirmation” of same-sex relationships and subsequently separated from the denomination, it has also separated from its church campus.

Pastor Dan Matlock of Eikon Church in Kyle, Texas preached in 2020 that Biblical teaching on sexuality “is not a matter of salvation”. The former AG pastor led his congregation out of the 1.8 million member Pentecostal denomination and presided over the change of policy in his local church on same-sex practices.

The Austin-area congregation declared itself open to LGBTQ persons on staff and that the church building would be available to host same-sex wedding ceremonies.

“Next week I want to encourage you to come back to hear some of that encouragement that may show us that this journey, though it may be hard, Church it’s gonna be worth it,” Matlock preached in a three sermon series structured around the change.

It appears a significant portion of the congregation did not come back.

One year later, there are signs that the church has taken a significant loss, but to what degree that is attributable to change in teaching or to COVID-19 restrictions is unclear [Editor’s note: see update below]. Eikon Church lists four staff, including Matlock and his wife Kelly, down from six in 2020. It now meets virtually.

Matlock’s LinkedIn account indicates that he concluded full-time at Eikon Church in October 2020 and now has secular employment in the private sector as a fractional sales associate. The church held an estate sale in September at its former campus that once hosted hundreds of worshippers across two Sunday services. That campus is now owned by another evangelical congregation, and Eikon lists a post office box as an address.

The Eikon Church congregation first refurbished and moved into the building in 2016. At one point it sought to expand a 75-space parking lot that church officials found to be insufficient for Sunday traffic.

In October of 2020 the congregation of Vertical Chapel purchased the campus. Vertical Chapel’s congregation holds to an orthodox understanding of Christian marriage, noting on the beliefs page of its website that “Marriage is sanctioned by God—joining one man and one woman.”

In the case of Eikon Church, changes in teaching were not limited to blessing same-sex unions. In the past year, the former AG church hosted a speaker series on “deconstructing faith” in which “lived experience” displaced the authority of scripture. The series featured those questioning what Pastor Kelly Matlock termed “a very fundamentalist evangelical environment.”

“We just want to normalize this idea of bringing questions and doubts and really deeply interrogating the things – especially the things that we’ve believed for a really long time. Sometimes when we stop and think about them we start to realize that maybe those things aren’t necessarily serving us well or serving others in the world well,” Kelly Matlock said introducing the series. “It can cause us sometimes to have just these deeply rooted questions about things maybe we have believed one way for our whole life and then all of a sudden maybe our lived experience doesn’t so much line up with that anymore and it can start to feel like things are unraveling.”

Few former Evangelical congregations have embraced same-sex marriage, but almost all that have done so saw congregants – and their tithes – quickly diminish.

In 2015, GracePointe Church outside of Nashville was named in Time magazine as “one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community.”

The categorization of GracePointe as a megachurch was a stretch, but LGBTQ activists sought to spotlight it as an inroad for those seeking to change Evangelicals’ views on marriage and sexuality. Members of the church Board of Elders and half of the congregation’s 2,200-person membership quickly decamped following the LGBT announcement.

In 2017, the church, trimmed by staff layoffs, sold its building in suburban Williamson County to a growing multi-site Evangelical congregation and relocated to rented space in Nashville. In 2018, Out & About Nashville reported the pastor stepped down to pursue outside ministry.

GracePointe’s collapse remains a cautionary tale to liberal clergy who seek to quickly lead a congregation in a revisionist direction. Eikon Church’s recent experience appears to offer a further point of reference.

Update [4/1/2021]: I was able to speak with Kelly Matlock who now serves as Lead Pastor for Eikon Church. Matlock shares that Eikon drew an average Sunday attendance of approximately 400 prior to the Clarity series, decreasing to between 300-350 the following weeks before switching to virtual worship due to COVID-19. Some congregants did depart Eikon because of the Clarity series, while others came to the church due to its LGBT-affirming position. Since that time it has been unclear if additional persons chose to depart.

Eikon exited its church campus, the owner of which sought to conclude the lease agreement due to financial changes in the congregation attributed to COVID. Matlock shares that the congregation plans to continue ministry in the Kyle, Texas area and resumes in-person worship at an outdoor space this Easter Sunday.

  1. Comment by Dan W on March 25, 2021 at 8:11 am

    This is just part of the “lived experience” he preached on.

  2. Comment by Reynolds on March 25, 2021 at 9:25 am

    I wonder when they decide to preach against the Gospel do they really think people are going to stay. If you have lost your faith, why not leave and let a new preacher come in. I guess they think they are a cult leader and people are there for them and not the good news.

  3. Comment by diaphone64 on March 25, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me!

  4. Comment by Gary on March 25, 2021 at 10:35 am

    The spiritual version of “Get Woke, Go Broke”.

  5. Comment by David Stewart on March 25, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    This reminds me of a Word of Faith church – ignoring the fact that the movement is a cult- that is outside of Atlanta about 10 or so years back. It was running two packed services every Sunday morning. Then suddenly, the founding pastor and his wife were divorcing. Next founding pastor is gay. Next founding pastor says he is not resigning and the church will be “affirming”. Then, in a matter of months, it implodes.

    Fortunately for that big church mortgage company, the local black Missionary Baptist church about five miles down the road was bursting at the seams and needed a much larger campus.

    The other church relocated to a Midtown Atlanta former hotel, turned partial event facility ballroom. No longer is a church, but he’s still in business, connecting people to other schools of thought.

  6. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on March 26, 2021 at 9:41 am

    David, do you recall the name of the church? I’m interested in learning about their story. It seems to closely mirror GracePointe and Eikon.

  7. Comment by Keith on March 26, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    The Atlanta church’s name was “Church in the Now”. Pastor was Jim Swilley, a relative of the notorious Earl Paulk. His church has also dried up and blown away.

  8. Comment by Keith on March 26, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    FWIW, I don’t think the Swilley/CITN situation has much in common with either Eikon or GracePointe.

    Swilley’s cousin D.E. Paulk is also pastoring an “affirming” church. It’s what’s left of Earl Paulk’s church. Multiple sex scandals drained that church of most of its members.

  9. Comment by Joan Sibbald on March 27, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Evil is incremental for the simple reason that if those who pedal evil laid out their full agenda good people would reject their evil.

    This is why evil changes tactics. Now, evil says good people must be “inclusive” and “diverse” so that “WE can ALL get along.”

    The Bible says, “If you repay evil for good evil will never leave your house.” True!

    I read recently where C-PAC invited men/women who say they’re “transgender” and homosexual to speak at their conference! Polls say 51% of Republicans now support LGBTQ…..

    I repeat, “If you repay evil for good evil will never leave your house.” True! True!

  10. Comment by Brother Thom on March 30, 2021 at 5:51 am

    This same article will be written about the post-separation liberal UMC. We already see the signs and so do they. The liberal Council of Bishops will delay a vote on the Protocol for as long as possible. I the meantime they likely meet in private zoom meetings, chatrooms and by conference call debating their survival, we’ve seen evidence of this too. The recent statement that there is “room for traditional pastors in the post-separation UMC,” and the concessions they will make to them if they stay are just one of many signs. The General Council on Finance has made it clear there is no financial future for the post-separation UMC. These are the things that keep the Council of Bishops up at night, not to mention the reality of the Episcopal Fund running dry in 2023, as stated by the Council on Finance.

    In hopes of winning the admiration (and tithes) of less than 4.5% of the general population, of which only a fraction of that number attend church, the liberal bishops in the UMC are now victims of the age-old saying “be careful what you ask for.”

    While we have no leadership positions for liberals in the dying UMC, we do have room for them in our Global Outreach Ministry at Moyock Christian Fellowship.

  11. Comment by Jim Radford on March 30, 2021 at 11:42 am

    I am in support of inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church, but I am totally not in support of same sex marriages. It’s one thing (and I have been accused more than once of being disingenuous) to have fellowship–koinonia–with gay and transgender people. It’s quite another to sanction a same sex union, and to regard such as a Holy Matrimony, which is supposed to signify a union which is “between Christ and His church.” I do believe, though, that I understand why some ministers, in their heart-felt desire not to exclude gay persons from being happy, think that sanctioning such unions is the right, and loving, way to go: in my mind, this all stems from a post-modern/liberal/progressive agenda to create a base of security for all persons out of a mistaken sense of egalitarian fairness and inclusiveness. I believe that not just a few of the progressive ministers apparently think that they are more just and kind than even (maybe especially) God Himself. Ministers who officiate in such services, are, in my absolutely-not-humble-opinion, are doing the wrong thing. But I still maintain that the church shouldn’t split over this. I keep saying, and nobody cares or is listening, that people should toe the line of truth and of the historical conciliar creeds, stay and fight. But lovingly, of course. However, I am a realist, and I think I know what is going to happen nonetheless. Alas, one more schismatic denomination among many.

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