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The Dark Side of Spiritual Abuse -- Part 2
By: Philip Harrelson
To give a little history as to how some of the heavy-handed authoritative traits came into play among pastors you have to trace back to the charismatic movement. Out of the charismatic movement there was the evolving of a concept called “shepherding.”
The Latter Rain movement actually had its earliest beginnings in the late 1800’s and was born out of the Methodist and Holiness camp-meeting environment. It would continue to generate momentum and experience growth during the post-World War II years and be much encouraged by the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Marked by extreme excess and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit, this activity led to the production of “prophets” who had little use for personal holiness and consecration. After a while it appeared that they only had a desire for their own personal kingdoms to grow.
As time went by these intruders became susceptible to moral and ethical failures. The subsequent fallout from their failures caused many who followed them to be led astray by their repulsive actions. In an effort to recover from these shenanigans a group of leaders came together and formed what was called “The Shepherding Movement.” Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham were the primary founders of this loosely formed organization who determined that its sole purpose would be to form a system of personal accountability. Later a fifth leader, Ern Baxter would be added to make up what was referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale Five.”
They decided that their work would be modeled after the pattern of Paul mentoring his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus. They would work toward building a system of accountability that would form deeper relationships among pastors, ministry development at all levels, and ethical standards with emphasis on moral and financial dealings.
The whole system worked with the idea that anyone who came into the church needed a“shepherd.” After witnessing the moral collapse of several prominent men, this seemed to be a good and necessary thing. Who could object to the need for spiritual leadership and accountability? It became very heavy on authority and control in a manner that even simple decisions of daily living had to be monitored and approved by the pastor/leader of local congregations.
As an example, the leader would have to make the final decisions on car purchases, home mortgages, and job opportunities. In some cases, the “shepherd” would designate who young men and young women would marry to the degree that the marriages were arranged and carried through. The “shepherd” would have almost complete control over the personal finances. The parishioners would bring their paychecks to him and he would cash them and take his cut which was oftentimes more than 10% and give them the remainder. So as you can see the role of the pastor changed into an extreme form of authoritative control.
Some of the characteristics of the Shepherding system are as follow:
• Discipleship only takes place when one is committed to the group, cell ministry, and its leader.
• The only hope of salvation is extreme devotion to the shepherd of the group. This indicates the leader has more power to save than does Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ does not work directly in the life of the follower but rather He works through a system of delegated authority that flows down from the shepherd. You are to submit to this man as you would submit to God.
• Our relationship with God is not primary but rather it works in tandem with the power of a shepherd who has total control over the present, material world we live in.
• Our obedience
[ read more...]
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How important are relationships anyway? I don’t know about you, but in my life, one of the things that has caused me the most pain, is relationships with other people. The relationship between myself and my parents when I was growing up was a most excruciating experience. I nearly took my own life as an adolescent because of the painful experience of relationships in our home. My brothers and sisters beat up on me and literally tortured my brother and I at times.
I have to admit, my understanding of proper relationships or relationship skills was pretty messed up for almost half of my life. For that matter, even for the last 20 years of ministering to others, I have to admit, I have suffered painfully at the hands of relationships with people. People I have trusted have stolen from me and lied on me. People I have loved, have hated me. People I have helped have turned on me. I don’t know about you, but relationships with other people, have really hurt me.
On the other hand, my relationships with some other people have been my salvation. Had it not been for a relationship with a friend in High School, I may have never been introduced to Christ. My relationship with my Pastor helped mold my character as a young man. My relationship with other ministers has solidified my faith and walk with God. My relationship with other Christians, has renewed my faith in people and allowed me to experience a proper relationship experience. In fact many of the brothers and sisters in the church are closer to me than my own siblings. My relationship with my wife has given me something to work towards every day. My relationship with my children is my passion.
Relationships. A good relationship can make you, but a bad relationship can destroy you. The chance we take to have a good relationship is almost not worth the risk to many people. They have been so hurt by relationships that they choose rather to become introvert and avoid relationships with other people at all costs. Their way of avoiding another painful experience is to avoid all close relationships.[ read more...]
Have you ever thought of the various motivators in your life?
Early in my life I found my father to be a great motivator. His way of motivating is not one I would quickly recommend. I remember one morning when my brother and I were making a little too much noise, a little too early in the morning. Dad wanted to encourage us to “Quite Down!”. His way of motivating us to a more docile nature was to cause our heads to come together with such force as to render us almost unconscious. This was one of the more unkind ways my dad had of motivating his kids.
Thank God that all the people in my life weren’t so barbaric in their way of motivating me.
I remember Mrs. Klewer. She was my 8th grade English teacher who motivated me to learn to read. She allowed me to get a passing grade if I would read a short story of about 20 pages. The reading material was probably on the 1st or 2nd grade level. However, she knew that even this was a great challenge for me and encouraged me in my struggle. As soon as I finished the short story, she put another one in front of me. And so on and so on, until I was getting straight A’s in her class and found a love for reading which I never knew I had. Throughout my high school and college career I would get straight A’s in English because of the gentle nudging (motivating) of someone who could have overlooked my potential but didn’t.
Motivators, some times they come in the form of the Policeman who writes the citation motivating us to “slow down”. In other times they are the kind hearts around us who cheer from the sideline of our life, “You can do it!”. We are all motivated by something. Money. Recognition. Love. Personal Ambition. This list could get very long and would change depending on the person making it.
I wonder though, how often I have allowed God’s Purpose be my motivation. His Purpose takes me beyond my personal goals. Why do I want to be a good preacher? Is it to be heard of men and recognized as such? Or is it so I may persuade men and women to come to the Lord?
Why do I want to be a good father? Is it so my children will call me blessed and so I would have the respect of my neighbors as being a good father? Or is it so my children will learn of my example that their Heavenly Father too is One who can be trusted to keep them and minister to their needs.
What is God’s purpose in my life? I want to find it. I want to know it.[ read more...]
HE GOT UP AND OUT, NOW WE CAN GET THROUGH
I want to tell everyone; “Because He lives, I am able to overcome whatever.” I am so grateful for the Cross where my sins were nailed and wrath was endured by Jesus, but without the Resurrection all would be for nothing. His rising tells all loud and clear: He was right, His teachings are correct, His sacrifice was enough, divine justice has been satisfied, the blessing of the Holy Ghost would be coming as planned, and anybody who will believe will receive.
Oh, just to think how Jesus defeated the devil in three places: on Earth, on the cross, and through the tomb. I just can't even describe just how I feel. We who have been redeemed and born again know the empty tomb is far more than a story: He lives and lives within us…. The total history that has been accomplished by that empty tomb should inspire each of us to become better Praisers, Givers, and Livers. To think that God, Himself, designed the entire episode so that we could be set free from our sins and become fit vessels for His Spirit to indwell. The raising of Jesus from the dead has revealed the great power of God Himself, for in doing this, the defeat of sin and Satan is now totally obvious. Jesus is alive, making this thing called Christianity a living demonstration of glory and power.[ read more...]
1Th 1:6 “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:”
A young upstart in the ministry once asked an elder more seasoned minister, "When will I know that I am leader in the Church?" With that the seasoned minister responded simply, “When you are being followed.”
Leadership in God’s church is not position. It is not having or being in an office. Being elected by a group of people neither actually causes you to become their leader. They may have elected or chosen you to do a job, but that does not mean that you are their leader. Leadership only happens in the church when you are being followed.
Jesus’ followers literally followed him through deserts, mountains, and stormy seas. No obstacle was too great for the opportunity to be near to the master. Here is where many church leaders find out if they’ve made the grade or not. One statistic tells us that very often after a building program, many pastors too often leave a church to find another pastorate. Why is that? Could it be that the parishioners didn’t like the color of the paint the pastor chose? Did they not like the way he conducted the business of the project? Was too much money spent? Too little accomplished? Wrong decisions? Bad decisions? A leader will know if he is truly a leader if he followed even after a storm.
When Jesus’ followers were in the ship that was being tossed by the waves, they cried out to their leader and he healed the situation they were in. Here is where an elected person becomes a leader of people. Knowing what to do in the storm will validate your leadership. Knowing how to act in a crisis elevates you above your fellow. Not everybody is capable of making tough decisions. Only a leader worth following knows when and how to step to the forefront and take charge of a chaotic situation.[ read more...]
There are seven things sheep want from a shepherd:
- They expect shepherds to be concerned for their safety. People want the assurance that their organization is wise enough to survive in turbulent times and will provide for their futures. A protector who is concerned with the welfare of his flock won’t hesitate to communicate the possibilities and the perils looming on the horizon.
- They expect shepherds to know them by name. When a responsible shepherd enters the fold, his sheep respond to him because he calls them by name. We cannot underestimate the value of establishing a connection with every person on our team – even if that number is large. The bond is strengthened each time people hear us speak their names.
- They expect shepherds to be gentle and kind. When people you serve are less than cooperative, it’s not an excuse for retaliation. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about his war experiences, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” If you feel the urge to lash out at those around you, get tough on yourself. That’s where discipline yields the greatest harvest.
- They expect shepherds to rescue them. What is our response when one of our employees becomes distracted? Do we let him stay off course and struggle to find his way back, or do we stop what we’re doing and give him our attention? Jesus said a good shepherd would leave a flock of 99 to go after the lost sheep until he finds it. That’s true of leadership.
From the earliest messages of the Gospel that were preached by Jesus, until today, preachers have wanted their message to be heard by the masses. We have done everything we could to ensure that our preaching can be heard.
1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
There was a twofold purpose in Jesus using the ship as a preaching platform. The first reason was that as vs 1 mentions, the people were pressing against him. The crowd was getting too great. As with any size crowd of people, the natural voice can only go so far. The more people you add to the crowd the less His voice could travel as sound bounces off of obstacles which, in turn, hindered His ability to get His message across to everyone that was there.
This brings us to the second reason why Jesus launched out onto the ship to preach. Sound carries extremely well across water. From the ship, more people could line the shore of the lake and His voice would carry to them without being hindered. (Have you ever been on one side of the lake and heard the voices of people speaking on the other side which might be thousands of feet away? When the wind is still, you can literally hear a casual voice speaking from thousands of feet away as the sound travels across the surface of the lake without hindrance.)
Jesus took full advantage of this simple technique. However primitive Jesus’ sound system was on this day, it worked. It enabled him to get His message to many more people than His previous method of simply standing or sitting in a place on the beach as He taught.
Preachers today face the same dilemma most often. We struggle to get our voice out to more people. We purchase sound systems costing everywhere from hundreds, to literally tens of thousands, of dollars for the simple purpose of getting more people to hear our preaching. We oftentimes stop at nothing to get our message across to more people.[ read more...]
There are times that I really get wrapped up with being important. I mean those times when I am so into the importance thing that the whole world finds it’s orbit around me. I know that you may find that hard to believe, that “importance” could have such a dizzying effect on me but it does.
In fact some time ago, I found myself being very important. Our church was hosting a preaching workshop. Rick Wyser was doing his very good seminar “The Six Should-Be’s of Preaching” and I was feeling particularly important. We had plotted and planned and had all sorts of free books, gadgets, computer programs and all sorts of other things to give out to the participants. Somewhere around fifty ministers came and we were having a tremendous time. Nothing motivates me like talking about becoming a better preacher, so I was definitely enjoying the element.[ read more...]
We live in a world that needs healing. We are surrounded by people who need healing. The pain of this healing is manifold. It comes from the past. It comes from the present. It is physical. It is emotional. It is spiritual. It is mental. Some of these people have received a bad report from the doctor and are desperate for a miracle. Physical injuries of every kind have left others maimed or crippled to the point that they struggle to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Many others are victims of childhood abuses and neglect that have crippled them emotionally and mentally as adults.
These people encircle our churches. They are our members. They are our neighbors. They are the people we bump into at the grocery store and places where we do business. We speak to them on our jobs. We speak to them on the streets. Every day of our lives we are in constant contact with individuals who desperately need a healing of some sort in their life.
But healing does not come. The pain does not subside. The inner and outer suffering is constant and there is oftentimes no help from doctors, psychologists, counselors or even the ministry.
This is very sad, especially when you consider that many people spend their entire lives and fortunes seeking the healing they need.
Just because a person is a member of a church and filled with God’s Spirit does not mean they are not still suffering as the world does. Oftentimes, a person can sit in a church pew their entire lives, and many of them never do completely open up and let God heal the wounds of their heart and mind. Others still are struggling with the news they just received from the doctors. Panic, fear and despair all attack these sweet people as the realization sets into their minds that they may not have long to live or that their malady is something that cannot be healed by the doctors.
For many, the doctors and specialist have done all they can do. Help is not eminent. The suffering is going to continue. Pain, of the heart and mind and throughout the body, is all they have to look forward to. Fear, panic, worry, and anxiety of every kind is constant and is not promised to end.
But God asks the question, “Are You Ready For Your Healing?”
Why does it seem that God heals some and not others?[ read more...]
Most people have problems with finances, but they just don’t know why.
According to the latest surveys, over one-half of all families in America are presently experiencing financial difficulties. And the real truth is many do not seem to know why they are having these difficulties. If these type problems are so common, then it would be important to understand the reasons they exist.
The following is a listing of some reasons of financial difficulties. This listing can be a means of educating oneself in these most critical areas.
- Failure to follow scriptural principles. The Bible is full of guidelines regarding financial principles. In fact, one half of all parables and one out of six verses in the New Testament deal with stewardship. Get the Bible and start an in-depth study of the guidelines and principles in the Word of God.
- Failure to identify priorities. A person and family must identify their priorities if they are ever going to be successful in their financial life.
- Failure to discipline. This horrible word causes people more problems than anything else in the world. Discipline must be exercised in every phase of a person’s life and in the world of finances it is critical.
- Failure to establish goals. A person who has no goal is a person without direction. A person without direction is going nowhere. A person must establish the financial goal for themselves if they ever want to arrive at a successful financial position in life.
- Failure to control spending. A written control is necessary to control impulsive spending. Limits must be established and kept.
- Failure to establish a budget. A budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is a clear guideline of where your money comes from and where it goes. Do not negate the importance of a written budget…it is vital to anyone’s financial success.