Community Chapel was a Pentecostal church that I was a member of from 1978 to 1988. When I joined, I thought it was one of the best churches in the world, but to my bewilderment it split in 1988 while embroiled in several horrible scandals. In just a few years it saw most of its members scattered to the winds, becoming a mere shell of its former self. In 2006 the church that had once been Community Chapel, but was by then operating under a different name, dissolved completely and is no more.
During the course of its collapse it became obvious to me that the teaching of the Chapel had been defective from the start, and that its founder and pastor, a man named Don Barnett, not only taught a doctrinally and historically twisted version of Christianity but was emotionally disturbed before he'd ever founded the Chapel. I came to see that what he created at Community Chapel had nothing at all to do with real Christian faith but was a bizarre, dysfunctional caricature of it, more rooted in the desires and fears of his strange personality than in anything else.
Eventually, having resolved the issues that had led me into the Chapel, I found my way back into a good church. That was more than ten years ago. So why do I have a Website devoted to Community Chapel issues today? Why does all of this matter now?
It matters because people through their neediness are always being led by false promises—claims of experiencing intimacy and power with God—into forms of Christian faith which aren't as extreme as the Chapel but which nevertheless in a similar way lead to confusion, uncertainty, and instability. Then the choice is between hiding it for a lifetime or succumbing to burn-out and despair, if not to abandonment of the faith or outright hostility to it. The truth needs to be told about such movements so that those caught up in them can find their way out of them into real faith in the real gospel of God's grace in Christ instead.
So here I present the most important lessons I learned from Community Chapel and Bible Training Center. Each article had its genesis in postings I made on one of several different online forums for ex-Chapel members in the years 1999-2009, and are edited, expanded, or condensed versions of articles on my older Chapel site to which the link is given below in the box at the bottom of the page.