Ryan Meeks, the “impastor” of EastLake Church in Bothell, WA announced that he has stepped down from the church he founded nearly 16 years ago, a fitting end for a heretic hellbent on leading his flock of goats astray.
In 2015, Meeks famously announced that his 8000-member multi-site campus would be gay-affirming, making it the biggest church in North America to do so and garnering international headlines and acclaim from progressives and mainstream media. At the time he claimed that nothing would change and that this was their only shift in theology.
With the announcement, thousands left and the church lost millions of dollars. They laid off staff and closed campuses. Within two years, he stopped pretending to be a Christian altogether as he began to openly repudiate the bible, exclaiming “I don’t care if the Bible says, ‘Gay people suck.’ The Bible is pro-slavery, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It doesn’t have a very great view of women leading and teaching. I have lots of things I disagree with about the Bible.”
Four years later, he now describes himself as a “washed-up ex-mega church pastor-turned-mystic humanist psychonaut.” The church is a new age-secular humanist repository, and there is nothing Christian about it.
In his farewell message, Weeks explains that his church “is an idea. It’s an incendiary idea. And in many ways, it was a laboratory for unorthodox and heretical ideas, which was really fun for me.” For the 150 or so people that have remained, they stay because he has been “reimagining the boundaries of what God means” while revealing that the congregation has has “re-democratized love” and deconstructed God so that he became “a unitive loving awareness that sometimes hits you at a sunrise or a sunset or at a concert or in lovemaking.”
Looking back on his journey, he acknowledges that “the slippery slope is real” and that his gay-affirming stance was the floodgate to his heresy.
There have been many, many iterations of what EastLake has been. I mean you think about any point in time. At one point you could have called us a tiny fledgling church plant and then we were a purpose-driven church health award winner in 2006. [Purpose-driven church? Isn’t that another fellow of questionable theology named Rick Warren? You know it is… -Ed.] And we were one of Outreach Magazines fastest-growing churches in America and we were a multi-site evangelical megachurch and we’re a hologram church – that didn’t work, that’s one of the funny ones.
At one point we became an open the largest evangelical open and affirming church and from there we really made a lot of shifts and all of a sudden I think we were something like a progressive Christian church and then we were a rapidly declining church and I don’t know what we ended up, you know a not church or some sort of ‘interfaith spiritual goulash.’
It’s been wild and when I think back through all of that I’m just amazed but I also learned that the slippery slope is real, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense I know that phrase is used negatively, but sometimes if I write a book I may have a chapter called ‘my fantastic ride down the slippery slope’ because it’s true. It’s been wild and it’s certainly come with pain.
The church has been meeting online only and is down to a little over 150 people.