Following leadership resignations, Next Level Church closes its doors

  • Next Level Church’s greater Concord location at 79 Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke is shown on Feb. 14, 2018. Monitor file

Published: 2/25/2023 11:05:21 AM

The Next Level Church, a modern Christian congregation with five locations across New Hampshire, has closed its doors due to a leadership crisis and organizational issues following multiple resignations from the organization’s executive team earlier this month.

After former employees and volunteers leveled accusations against the church’s directional team for bullying and financial misconduct, the leaders resigned, leaving only four pastors for the seven locations spread across three states. They decided to close rather than continue.

“Given the leadership departures and accusations against them, coupled with an unsustainable debt load and various other challenges and complexity, we do not feel we can lead forward,” the remaining four pastors – Bryan Levangie, Michael Grayston, Pablo Lopez and Shane Becton – said in a statement. “With a heavy heart, we unanimously agreed that we could not see a path forward to sustain this ministry, and we have each resigned from our positions at Next Level Church.”

Josh Gagnon, Daniel King and Walt Robbins resigned from the directional team earlier this month, and Roman Archer resigned in December 2021.

Next Level Church was founded in 2008 in Dover by Gagnon and his wife Jennifer, and it quickly expanded to locations in Florida, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including one in Pembroke.

This multi-church model’s non-traditional approach set it apart from other churches. The services frequently featured Christian songs set to upbeat rock music, and the sermons were live-streamed on large screens throughout all locations by lead pastor Gagnon.

The church held its final Sunday service in New Hampshire and Massachusetts on Feb. 19 at Concord, Keene, Somersworth and West Boylston locations. This Sunday, the church will hold its final service for its Florida parishioners.

This is not the first time the church’s operations have run into difficulties; the multi-church model’s expansion in Pembroke did not sit well with the town.

When Next Level Church opened its Pembroke location in 2016, it got off on the wrong foot with the town because the tax-exempt church took over a building in an industrial zone the town targeted for business development and tax growth.

However, pastor Daniel King, who has resigned, said that the church would give the town an annual “blessing,” which would be similar to a tax bill that the church would pay if it were not tax-exempt.

Seven years have passed, and according to Pembroke town administrator David Jodoin, the town has not received any money from the church.

The Monitor’s email to the Pembroke church was returned, stating that it was no longer in use.

The four pastors filed their resignations last Friday and called for further investigations into allegations against the church’s leadership.

“We believe the seriousness and volume of the accusations being aired require an investigation to establish the facts, accountability and any appropriate restitution and reconciliation,” the pastors wrote in a statement.

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan covers environmental and energy stories in Bow, Hopkinton, Dunbarton and Warner for the Concord Monitor. In 2022, she graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in journalism, specializing in investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is always looking for new ways to incorporate data and visual elements into her stories. Her work has appeared in Energy News Network, Prism Reports and Crain's Chicago Business.

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