A video has begun to widely circulate showing Venue Church pastor Tavner Smith and Worship leader Lexi Elisha allegedly sharing a kiss at a restaurant, confirming a long-rumored affair, according to sources.
For the uninitiated, Tavner became the Executive Student Pastor at Redemption World Outreach Center (now Redemption) in Greenville in 2008, SC. He was mentored by megachurch pastor Ron Carpenter and has distastefully been called the ‘protege’ of King of the Narcegetes, Steven Furtick. After the Lord ‘spoke to him,’ he went off on his own and founded Venue Church in Chattanooga, TN in 2012.
As one might expect, his theology is a jumbled mess of prosperity preaching, wretched theology, charismatic mumbo jumbo, vision casting, the pursuit of ‘impossible dreams’, an unsatiable ask for money and seed-sowing, and constantly positioning himself as hearing directly from God and being the conduit to the heavens.
Like most cult of personalities, this led him to escape accountability, with no elders or guardrails, much like Mark Driscoll at his current church. The structure was created to allow him to indulge in his baser passions without anyone being able to call him out on it, resulting in rumors swirling for years that he was a womanizer and engaging in some Very Bad Things.
Then the proof.
Tavner was caught sharing a dinner and a kiss, and in response to this evidence of not just an ‘affair’ but rather of CLERGY SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, eight employees of the church quit, sending the 1000+ member congregation into turmoil.
Tavner has three kids and has been married to his wife, Danielle, for 18 years, but she has been invisible from his social media pages for months. According to court records, he and his wife began divorce proceedings last May. While almost all employees were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) under the threat of massive financial penalties, not all of them were, and certain employees, members, and former members have begun talking and pointing out disconcerting things.
Colton Helton, a former employee and former member that we have been in contact with, shared the following.
Like most narcissists and much like Mark Driscoll, Tavner used the security team to bar entry to anyone who spoke badly of him who he was upset with, with the Chattanooga Times Free Press reporting:
“Destiny Santos, who served on the church’s security team, told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that she was instructed to bar certain people from the megachurch. “Anyone that spoke bad about him or the church went onto this watch list with code names and explanations as to why they’re not allowed,” she explained.
Santos also alleged that Smith would regularly take credit for the work of others. “All everyone ever sees is him giving away a check to this school on the news or volunteering at a soup kitchen or giving back here,” she said. “Newsflash: he didn’t do any of that. He shows up when the cameras get there. We did everything. Like we volunteered at the soup kitchen. We gave away the clothes to the homeless. We cleaned up the streets. We raised the money to give to the schools. We did this and we did that. And he just shows up, looks nice on camera.”
This is a mess, and we sadly expect it to get worse before it gets better, with further reports coming later this week.
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