The BIG Lesson Learned From the Aftermath of the Missouri Men’s Conference

By Shane Idleman Published on April 18, 2024

Let me begin by saying that I know that it’s extremely hard to be a pastor in these times. Toss in the armchair quarterbacks on social media, and the pressure only intensifies. But, at the same time, we are at a very critical turning point for Christian leaders — and we saw much of the reason why at a men’s conference hosted by James River Church in Missouri last weekend.

What happened there? CBN News explained it this way:

In a deviation from his planned sermon, [Pastor Mark] Driscoll called out what he saw as the spiritually problematic kickoff to the two-day convention, which was hosted by James River Church, a megachurch led by Pastor John Lindell. Driscoll took issue with the opening ceremony at the Great Southern Bank Arena, where stuntman Alex Magala performed.

Magala is an acrobat who had previously competed on America’s Got Talent. For whatever reason or motive, the conference organizers thought it was appropriate to have a bare-chested man dressed in an all-leather outfit swallowing a sword while performing a pole dance.

Confused? So was I!

Driscoll said the conference organizers had invited the “Jezebel spirit” in with that performance. At that point, Lindell shouted from off stage that Driscoll was “out of line” and removed him from the platform. Lindell then took to the platform himself, stating that Driscoll should have addressed his concerns privately and not from the stage, citing Matthew 18. (In my opinion, he wasn’t out of line at all; a gross public display demands a public rebuke.)

After the fiasco, Lindell and Driscoll joined each other on the platform to talk it through. But during that conversation, Lindell made a jaw-dropping statement: “Do not criticize the person with the anointing of God on their life. It will lead you to barren unbelief.”

Yes, you read that right. That’s pretty unbelievable.

How Does This Happen?

In my opinion, it’s often because leaders have drifted spiritually from the pure faith. Instead of spending hours praying, fasting, and repenting, they are too busy for God — and like Samson, they “know not that the Spirit has departed.”

In addition to praying for Lindell, Driscoll, and all the men who were at the conference, I’m also praying for Alex Magala, who is reportedly a new believer. This isn’t his fault. I hope he doesn’t get discouraged in his faith journey by the fallout but learns from it.

So what can we all learn from this?

The BIG Lesson: Pride Must Die

Whether it’s a pastor kicking the Bible like a football on stage on Superbowl Sunday, not being willing to verify that someone has been healed after proclaiming them to be so, or leaving “controversial terms” out of marketing material, the amount of pride in the church is astonishing.

An American Idol mentality exists within our walls; millions crave center-stage attention. The church often reflects the character of Hollywood more than the character of Christ. As Andrew Murray once wrote, “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”

Many want recognition but not the brokenness that comes before God exalts a person; the honor but not the humility it takes to receive; the limelight of the stage but not the loneliness of the prayer closet. This must change!

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E.M. Bounds once said, “Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.” Humility is life-changing.

Where are those with uncompromising power and authority in the pulpits today? The one thing that all the great revivals in church history had is the one thing we often lack: the genuine power of the Spirit. The very thing we need is the very thing we are quenching and grieving.

Let Me Be Blunt

If we want revival (which is our only hope at this stage in the depravity game), churches must stop these silly gimmicks to draw a crowd, and instead, focus on drawing the presence of God.

Whether we have the whole story of how the decisions were made that led to the event at the men’s conference or not, the display of carnality evident there reflects a severe lack of discernment on the conference organizers’ part, and they should publicly repent, clarify, and apologize for it, because the public is confused.

As one person wrote on social media, “But 100s came to Christ!” during the event, as if this absolves everything else. On this point, we must remember that God “using” something doesn’t always mean that He “approves” of it. People are saved in bars and after brawls; the exception never overrides the rule. What I would ask is, “Was the Gospel message candy-coated or delivered straight to the heart when those conversions took place?”

Look in the Mirror, God Is Waiting

To begin this journey of leading our nation back to God, we must look in the mirror and ask a hard question: Is my spiritual apathy affecting the dire situations going on in our nation and the churches?

As I’ve said before, Costco carts are full but prayer closets are empty — our border is bursting yet our hearts are not breaking. The BIG lesson to take away from this event is a small thing that makes a big difference: We must humble ourselves, repent, and move forward in the strength of the Spirit.

We are waiting on God to move on our nation’s behalf … but could it be that God is waiting on us to humble ourselves before He does?


Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at

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