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Accusations Against Publisher of "50 Most Influential Churches" List

The Christian world is abuzz with a news report that was published yesterday by the Associated Baptist Press (ABP) and filled with accusations against Jason Christy, publisher of The Church Report. I wasn't sure if ABP was a legitimate journalism source, but became more interested in the report when Christianity Today Magazine reprinted the report on their website late yesterday afternoon. That seemed to give the report some legitimacy--at least in my mind.

Several people in the blogosphere sent me the article. They thought I would be interested since The Church Report published the list of America's 50 Most Influential Churches that I previously blogged about here and here. They were suggesting that the integrity of the list is now in question because the source of the list is allegedly a fraud.

I have no way of knowing whether the article contains lies, truths, or half-truths--so I decided to do a little investigation on one accusation mentioned in the article related to the list.

Hannah Elliott writes in the article:

...The list of "50 Most Influential Churches" in the country was published on The Church Report's website recently. According to Christy, the list was provided by John Vaughn of Church Growth Today, a Missouri-based consulting firm. Vaughn has said he stopped contributing to The Church Report last January."

The clear insinuation by Ms. Elliott is that the publisher of the list lied, and that John Vaughan did not provide the list of most influential churches.

John Vaughan is a friend of mine, so I decided to go right to the source. I spoke with John today and it appears that Ms. Elliott was incorrect. John did provide the list of influential churches to The Church Report. Although he was aware of some of the accusations, he decided to partner with Jason Christy one more time. John released a press release this afternoon (available below) which read in part:

...A couple of friends had expressed concern about Jason to me earlier and cautioned me to be careful. Since I had written the Most Influential Churches article for him in 2005 and 2006, I decided to submit it one more time as I continued to give Jason benefit of a doubt until I knew more information.

So, the only piece of Ms. Elliott's story that I can prove or disprove I have found to be false. I have no idea if any of the other troubles that Mr. Christy is accused of are true or not. I just pray that the watching public won't be dismayed by the fighting happening between competitors in the Christian publishing world.

Links:

  • John Vaughan's full press release 8/2/07: Download vaughan_press_release.pdf
  • Original article by Associated Baptist Press here.
  • Reprinted article by Christianity Today Magazine here.
  • Press Release Response by Jason Christy here.

Update 8/5/07: Because it's obvious there are many people who are emotional about this issue, and because finding the truth about Mr. Christy is not the focus of LeadingSmart.com, I'll be closing all future comments on this topic.

Update 8/14/07: In the past couple of weeks, I've heard from several people whom I trust who have had dealings with Jason Christy, and I now believe it is highly probably that most of what Ms. Elliott wrote about Mr. Christy is correct. I wish she had talked with John Vaughan before printing the one sentence that I found to be incorrect, but nevertheless, it looks like Mr. Christy's checkered past and lack of integrity is catching up with him.