Lakeland Revival Officially Ends
After a major scandal and dwindling crowds, the Lakeland Outpouring concluded [October 12, 2008].
The Lakeland Outpouring’s final meeting was held at Ignited Church—six months after Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley launched daily meetings in the small Lakeland, Fla., community and left without warning Aug. 11 in a cloud of scandal.
“None of us knew how long this would last,” said Ignited Church senior pastor Stephen Strader, who announced on a blog Oct. 2 that, with the outpouring ending, he intends to set up a global apostolic base in Lakeland. “Ignited Church has had a vision [for] an International Apostolic Center. The Lakeland Outpouring has catapulted our vision forward.”
Strader said with the support of “dozens of major leaders” for his apostolic center, he envisions a place for hosting conferences, special events and training workshops. He also announced the creation of Ignited Network of Ministries (INM), an initiative to connect Ignited Church with Lakeland-spawned revivals worldwide.
It was his FFM board in Abbotsford, British Columbia, that later announced that Bentley had confessed to an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. At the time, a senior board member told Charisma that Bentley’s alcohol consumption also had “crossed the line.”
Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, S.C., has since taken the lead in helping Bentley find healing and restoration. Joyner appeared on the platform in Lakeland in June when Bentley publicly submitted himself to the oversight of apostolic leaders Bill Johnson, John Arnott and Ché Ahn.
Joyner told Charisma that Johnson and Texas pastor Jack Deere would assist him in Bentley’s restoration. He admitted that the process would not be easy. “Todd does have some serious issues he must deal with, and he knows it more than anyone,” Joyner said.
Bentley’s faith and exuberance impressed seasoned, prominent revivalists while his wild tactics often tempered the enthusiasm of other leaders. When praying for healing, the tattooed evangelist was known to hit the sick in the stomach with his knee in a move more common among wrestlers than preachers. Bentley even recounted kicking a woman in the face in an act of “obedience to the Lord.”
Yet, with the exception of a few ministers, many charismatic leaders chose to overlook Bentley’s peculiar methods for the sake of what they saw as “fruit.” They claimed the revival stirred many Christians worldwide to pursue God with a renewed hunger.
[TBC: The Lord Jesus clearly disagrees with the assessment of these leaders. “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew:7:16-18).]