Discipleship Schools: Foe or Friend?

Recently, I was discussing the issue of discipleship schools with a good friend. She brought up a very valid point: discipleship schools are NOT needed in churches today.

Why?

If a young person wants to enter into the world of ministry, currently the best option would be a Christian college or university or a secular university where they major in theology or religious studies. A minor in psychology would help, as well. I strongly encourage anyone who’s entering ministry to take a few classes on Christianity from a secular university, so as to learn the historic traditions of the religion. You will not regret this.

Another option, brought up by my friend, for a young person pursuing ministry is a paid internship. Many churches offer these, and they allow  young people to work for a particular pastor or ministry group, while getting paid experience.

If someone wants to volunteer at a church, there’s always that option. I’ve never heard of a church who turns away volunteers.

The difference between a discipleship school and volunteerism is this: when you volunteer for a church or organization, you aren’t held to anything. You are working for free and free to come and go as you please. You’re not demanded to do certain things–you simply are there to help and can leave when you wish.

Not so with a discipleship school.

If you enroll in a discipleship school, you may hear the term, serving unto the Lord or you may be told that you’re just volunteering to help the church.

What’s wrong with this terminology?

For starters, anytime someone labels what you’re doing “unto the Lord,” there’s a real good possiblity that something unhealthy is going to go on. For example, if you’re cleaning the gym of a church “unto the Lord” it’s going to be extremely easy for the person who’s asking  you to work for them to take advantage of your situation and your attitude. Clearly, Christians have been taught to give to God selflessly, and it’s been our idea that the pastor and church are reflections of God, so giving to them is just like giving to God.

Right?

Wrong.

When you volunteer, just be aware of the following:

  1. You set the time that you work and you get to dictate how long you work.
  2. You should make sure that your boundaries are clear. If someone you’re working for is disregarding those boundaries, you have the right to stop working with them or tell them to stop what they are doing that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  3. You’re not being paid, therefore you are giving something to someone who needs it. That person (whether it’s a pastor, or minister) should be grateful for your help and should not take advantage of you. If so, they’re probably not someone you should volunteer for again.

These days, discipleship schools require young people to give up their freedom to date, restrict any personal contact with the opposite sex, financially contribute to the school, report to a pastor about every move they make, and selflessly serve that pastor for years of their life–neglecting their dreams, financial stability and potential to start a family.

Does this sound like something a HEALTHY CHURCH would want or need?

No.

Readers: Help me define some other reasons why discipleship schools are unnecessary in today’s day and age.

Thinking of going to Master’s Commission? Think Again!

Awhile back, I had a potential MC student ask me about any advice I could give to her, as she was considering going to Master’s Commission 3D, now Experience 3D http://www.leadin3d.com/, at Our Savior’s Church www.oursaviorschurch.com, Lafayette, LA under the pastor Daniel Jones and director Greg Thompson. I wrote the following to her. If you’re considering going to ANY Master’s Commission or “discipleship school” please read what follows below FIRST.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight conversations I’ve had with Lloyd Zeigler, the founder of the MCIN, Master’s Commission International Network and founder of Relevant Church in Dallas, TX.

I’m also going to talk about their financial situation and details on how they spend their money.

Finally, I’m going to update you on how my letters to the MCIN and Lloyd have been handled and the details there.

It was during my senior year in high school that I decided to give up my academic scholarships and attend Master’s Commission instead of college. I regret that decision now. I didn’t start my college years until I was 25 years old, because I wasn’t allowed to go to college while I was in Master’s Commission. I also wasn’t allowed to date while I was in the program, so I didn’t have the normal young experience of falling in love, choosing a partner, getting married, etc. I wasn’t able to listen to secular music, or watch regular tv programs or watch normal movies. Essentially, all of my decisions were made for me. That’s not how God wants us to live. He wants us to live able to read the Bible and make decisions on our own. Will we sometimes need the advice of our parents? Yes! I ask my parents advice a lot! But, my parents’ advice is different from the advice I got from pastors that directed my Master’s Commission group. My parents’ advice is to tell me their experiences and then let me make up my mind. The pastors told me what to do, time and time again. That’s no kind of place you want to be–nor do your parents want you to be there.

I don’t recommend the program or any Master’s Commission for many reasons, but the following are more specific and you can find where I’m pulling this information on the top portion of my website under Helpline: Cults and Cults: Signs of an Unhealthy Group is another good one to read:

“Some of the intensive indoctrination techniques they employ (and consequently things to look out for) include
* removing people from their normal surroundings and friends, often with weekend “trips” and “retreats”
* sleep and sensory deprivation
* development of a deep emotional debt
* public confessionals
* low-risk relationships (unconditional acceptance)
* fear of punishment or damnation for even thinking about leaving the new “family”
* viewing all of the outside world as evil or satanic so that any desire to return to it is also evil.

Other things to be on the lookout for are:
* leaders who claim divinity or special relationships with God and insist on being the sole judge of a member’s actions or faith
* demands for total control over members’ daily lives (one of the hardest to recognize once involved)
* isolation and exclusion from the surrounding community
* demands for control of members’ finances
* absolutist views toward difficult life problems and spiritual questions
* special (exclusive) promises of salvation or keys to spiritual understanding (i.e.: “It is only through adherence to our beliefs and our rules that you can be saved”).”

I’d also recommend sending your parents those two articles to read, or you can ask them to read my website. If you want, have them email me.

Finally, I realize that when I was 17 deciding on whether to go to MC or college, the deciding factor for me was that I wanted a closer relationship with God. I wish I could say that I got that, but I didn’t. What I got were people manipulating my thoughts of what God was, and placing themselves in the position of authority in my life. No human being should do that. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Since you’re asking (and since I didn’t seek you out), I’d also like to say, please talk over with your parents some of your concerns. Or if you can’t talk to your parents, please find someone you trust outside of the church to talk to. Make an informed decision, not one based on emotion, or obligation. EDUCATE YOURSELF, and don’t be afraid to read secular information. The only obligation you have is to yourself–making yourself a better person. I personally feel I’ve become a better person through my college education. I highly recommend attending a secular university and studying and working hard. I also recommend staying away from any church or ministry group that has the characteristics of a cult or an unhealthy group, and those 2 resources I recommended above can fill you in more on what that means.

To specify more, I’m going to go through and talk about each one of the above mentioned traits a bit more:

* Removing people from their normal surroundings and friends, often with weekend “trips” and “retreats”
–On several occasions, we’d have meetings or events that would happen in MC and we’d be told that our parents “probably wouldn’t understand, so it’s best we don’t tell them.” This fits in with removing people from their normal surroundings and friends. If you consider where the church dorms are, and the amount of time you’ll be spending away from your friends and family, this is just a common sense thing. You WILL be removed from your friends and won’t see them.

* Sleep and sensory deprivation
–During my third or fourth year in MC, I developed migraines due to sleep deprivation. My doctor told me that I needed to sleep more, and I told him I didn’t have a choice due to the work and time obligations Master’s Commission put on us. I was prescribed medication for it, but it often didn’t work because it had to be taken at the onset of a headache and we were working so much I didn’t keep my medication on me. I’d sometimes have to leave a project in tears because my migraines hurt so badly.

I lived in a dorm with several other girls and there was no peace and quiet for me to rest and get better. Also, during Hurricane Katrina, the tuition-paying students at Our Savior’s Church under Daniel Jones were asked to work 15 hour days and were reprimanded if they didn’t work hard enough. Talk about sleep deprivation! Also, that’s illegal. Many other Master’s Commission groups drove to Louisiana to help work, as well. They are breaking all kinds of labor laws by enslaving minors to work for the church like that while they got government grants. In addition, staff members at nearly ALL Master’s Commissions are treated as “interns” and not paid! How do you like the idea of signing up to be a life-long intern?

* Development of a deep emotional debt–this occurred any time the pastors gave us something or helped us out; whether it was one-on-one counseling or a very tiny paycheck.

* Public confessionals–we were repeatedly asked to go before the entire MC group and confess some sin were struggling with. We were also made to do private confessionals, too.

* Low-risk relationships (unconditional acceptance)–it’s very easy to enter into this group and gain acceptance but it’s very difficult to leave. if you do leave, you lose all your friends.

* Fear of punishment or damnation for even thinking about leaving the new “family”–this is actually true. you will get punished if you leave the “family.” and they DO call you a “son” or “daughter in the house” and “family.”

* Viewing all of the outside world as evil or satanic so that any desire to return to it is also evil–anyone or anything who disagrees with their theology or dictatorship can be seen as satanic. We were often told that if we questioned them we were rebellious and being rebellious was from Satan. So we were basically being satanic if we rebelled against them.

If you have anymore questions or would like me to send an inquiry to a particular Master’s Commission group (while keeping your name private, of course), feel free to email me at mycultlife@gmail.com.
Good luck in your decision!
Lisa

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STAND

Lisa,

It takes a lot of bravery to stand up for oneself when the opposition is not just one person; but hundreds. And what I don’t think some understand is that you are not just moved to do this for yourself, but also for those that suffered before you; and in hopes to prevent any more destruction to those in the future. We are to follow with blind faith, yes… But not an organization, not a man made hierarchy, and definitely not a human being who is just flesh and blood. We are to follow God with blind faith and no other.

Our loyalty should be to God, not an organization or man.

I’m proud of you for standing and looking injustice in the eye, instead of turning a blind one. I pray for your success and want you to know that you have an ally in me. When I stood up for what was right, I was ostracized but I have NO regrets. I’d do it all over again. I sleep well at night knowing that I didn’t fall/break under pressure. It would have been the easier route…But it would have been the wrong one.

What I witnessed the last month that I was at Phoenix MC was truly heartbreaking.

I wrote a song about that experience. I hope that it conveys to all before us and anyone who is going through it now that they are not alone.

-Audrey Gossett

People talkin shit…

To watch the video that speaks volumes to the current situation (and to people who passively aggressively CONDEMN ME, while sitting around doing NOTHING to fix the situation…AND to people who send me veiled insults via text/email/etc…YOU CAN ALL KISS MY ASS), click here:

Cage the Elephant–In one ear

Some of the lyrics I like best:

“Now I know I’m not a saint,
I been a sinner all my life,
I ain’t tryin to have no buds,
I’d rather keep them in the line,
They wanna criticize you now,
Cast another stone,
Burn me at the stake and see them watch it from the dome,
They say the devil is my pal…
They think they know my thoughts,
But they don’t know the least,
If they listened to the words they’d find the message that’s beneath

People talkin’ shit,
They can kiss the back of my hand”

A Dialogue with Master’s Commission Directors

I recently got an email from a Master’s Commission director who was very kind about my blog, but his last line lingered with me: “Keep doing what you’re doing.  I hope it doesn’t take the good ones down with the bad…”

This has clearly been something I’ve been very thoughtful about since I began this project. I feel really torn on the subject, because I know there are probably some good programs out there; however, I’m not sure exactly how that can be determined based on the current MCIN structure, and

I’ve heard more stories of abuse than I think should be tolerated within any structure–public, private, Christian or not.

Part of my reply to him was the following questions, and I’ll pose them to you, current Master’s Commission directors, and ask that you answer honestly (either in comment form, an email to me, or to your conscience).

I’d love to hear from you if there’s anything you’ve changed in your program, or revamped [after reading my blog]. Do you mind me asking if you pay your staff and support staff at least minimum wage? That’s one of my main concerns for the student workers, since I know all Master’s are typically something that end up being a large work force for any church.

I’m also concerned with the intangible things, such as the level of control the directors and staff put onto the students. In my group, for example, we weren’t allowed to listen to secular music, watch any movie that was not PG or G rated, and we had to dress in a way that was extremely modest or we were forced to change clothing. Do you have any rules like that? Implied or explicit?

What I’m most concerned with, as you can understand, is seeing whole, healthy young adults walk out of Master’s Commission. I’m finding that the more open I’m becoming, that’s sadly not the case [meaning there are a lot of existing wounded young adults who’ve left MC]. I don’t want the cycle of abuse to perpetuate past my years there. It’s wrong and it sickens me. I can’t sleep at night if I know that people are going through what I went through–and sadly a large number of people are.

I hope we can all work together to make the abuse stop. I know the first step is an open dialogue, so I thank you for reaching out and emailing me. It means a lot.

So, if you are a Master’s Commission director, or a pastor affiliated with an MC group in your church,

 please take time to answer honestly how you are treating these young youth workers in your church. My advice to you is this: if you can’t afford to pay everyone on staff and support staff minimum wage or better (hopefully better), then what are you doing with that many staff members? You have to make a choice between operating illegally and abusively, and treating people kindly. You also have to make a choice who you are willing to keep, and pay, and who you need to tell that you have to let go. Even if they are willing to work for you for free, it’s WRONG on your part to keep them and abuse that naivete.

Finally, if you know of an MC group who could benefit from these questions, please drop me a line with their name and email address to: mycultlife at gmail.com.

Wear Pink or Be Called Manly

A Former MCA Student tells her very personal story about spiritual abuse and discrimination that happened to her during her years in Master’s Commission of Austin.

MCL: Year you were in Master’s Commission?

 

Former MCA Student: 1998-2000, 2000-2001 Intern under MCA

MCL: City you were in Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Austin

MCL: What were you doing before Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Working and I was a youth leader at my church assisting the youth pastor

MCL: What first introduced you to Master’s Commission?

 

FS: I met people from Master’s Commission in Dallas

MCL: Why did you decide to join Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Thought it would be a great place for me to go since I did not plan on going to college (went to college in the Fall of 2001)

MCL: Who were your Directors at the time?

 

FS: Nathan Davies

MCL: Once you entered MC, what was your impression of the rules that were presented to you?  Can you remember any specific rules? Please describe them.

 

FS: I remember how we had to keep our rooms really really neat!!!!  Nathan could come in anytime and check our rooms.  If he did not like what he saw he would take everything that was “out of place” and throw it in a pile in the middle of the floor.  I remember felling like I was in the military.  I remember one girl stating that everyone should have matching bedding so it would look nicer.  I remember thinking that I did not want to look like everyone else

We had lights out at a certain time.  I really do not remember what time it was, but I do remember that if we as students broke the lights out, we would be in trouble.  If lights out was broken because we were up late working on a project that was fine.

We also had to ask permission from our staff leader before we went anywhere.  I understand that they wanted to know where we were, but if you were not able to find this one person you were not supposed to leave.  I went to the laundry mat with another girl because we were out of clean clothes.  Tim and Victoria came running into the laundry mat and said we did not know where you were and they chewed me out for leaving without permission.  Funny thing is they must have know where I was or they would not have found me.  It was quite embarrassing that it all took place in public, how weird did that look.

I remember that we had a strict dress code.  We had to dress up for prayer and class in the morning, but then we had to change to work.  If you had to go into the church office you could not go in your work clothes.  I spoke with an MC student from a different church and they stated that they have never seen people change clothes so much.

MCL: What was your impression of “20/10?” Did you ever have a hard time staying awake reading your bible? Please explain.

FS: I do not remember the 20/10.  That might have been after I left.  I do remember being required to read a lot.  I could never keep up.  It was not for a lack of effort.  I even remember having to turn in book reports. It was so hard keeping up with all the reading while we were building the coffee shop, cleaning the youth room, and working on many other projects all day long.  On the books that I could not read in time I just skimmed.  I was so afraid that if I did not finish I was going to get in trouble.


MCL: What was your impression of the “no dating” policy? Did you ever have a personal instance where you asked to avoid someone that you had feelings for? Please explain.

 

FS: I thought the dating policy was a little odd, but I just figured that it was because we were all in such tight quarters.  I figured that they did not want a girl getting knocked up and causing problems.
MCL: Did you ever have a conflict with the leadership or directors? Please explain.

FS: I had plenty of conflict, but I never really said anything.  I was actually told by a staff member at one point that I had not grown enough over the time that I had been there (first year) so I was not allowed to go to Royal Family Kids Camp. She told me that God woke her up at 3 am to tell her this.  My thought was that she was not listening to God or he would have told her sooner and when she was awake. I was so sad.  I really wanted to go and work with the kids.  I found it funny that I was good enough to work in the nursery just about every Sunday, but I was not good enough to go to Royal Family Kids Camp.  I was allowed to go the next year and I cam back from San Antonio for four years after that to go to the camp.

MCL: Was there ever a time you were put on the spot and completely embarrassed? Were you ever made to be “an example?”

FS: I was made as an example.  We were working on the set for Hell’s Alternative and I was assigned the task of pinning an extra piece of fabric to the curtain to make it longer.  The curtain did not touch the floor.  I was given a pile of black fabric that did not match the black curtain.  I wanted it to be perfect because I was afraid that Nathan would make a big deal about how bad of a job I did  if it was not perfect.  I asked two people that were not doing anything to assist me because it was hard to pin it with all the extra fabric and making sure the safety pins did not show on the outside.  After we had pinned up a good portion I went to the front pew where Nathan was sitting.  I stood there by him not saying anything (MC students had to wait until they were acknowledged to speak if a staff person looked busy).  I stood there for almost a 1/2 hour and he never even looked at me, so I went back and finished up the curtain.  We ran out of fabric before curtain, that is when I found out that the so called “extensions” were not made for the curtains specifically as I had thought.  Nathan had us all come into the youth room and gave us icecream to thank us for all our hard work.  I took a seat in an armchair.  One of the other girls wanted to sit in the same seat, but I had beat her so she sat on the arm of the chair and put her legs across to the other arm.  He then tore into another MC student and then into me.  I had wasted several hours and many people’s time.  He could not believe how bad of a job I had done and it would have to be done all over again.  I was then called into one of the offices in the youth room with Tim, Victoria, Kathie, and Nathan.  Nathan told me how I made him sick to his stomach.  He told me that I always walked around with another girl hanging on my arm.  I was shocked.  Many of the MC girls held hands, played with each others hair, and rubbed each others backs.  I did not like doing that stuff.  I was getting in trouble because someone came up to me and hooked arms with me while we skipped like in the Wizard of Oz and because another girls decided to sit on the arm of a chair that I was in (we were not even touching).  They told me that I was too manly.  They were calling me a lesbian without coming out and saying it. When the meeting was over I went to one of the Sunday School rooms and I cried for two hours.  I just imagined what things would be like if I was dead.  Then I thought it is time to leave and I thought about walking/hitchhiking back home (which was 5 hours or more away) did not tell anyone what happened.  I wondered if anyone would miss me.

 

I was able to deal with what had been set before me.  I found that they wanted me to wear pink to look more like a girl.  What a joke!!  I loved pink, never had a problem with it, but I just never found anything that I liked in pink.   I was also told that I needed to be more open with Kathie.  She set up nightly meeting with me so we could talk about what happened that day.  I informed her that I was an open book, ask and I will tell.  I was told that I knew what I needed to tell them and they expected me to come to them.  This did not last long because she did not have time to meet with me.  I was also told that I needed to stop hanging out with certain people that I had a strong friendship with and make a friend ship with another certain person.  I did not like speaking with this person because things that were said went back to staff.  I attempted, but all my attempts were ignored.

I was told that not wearing make up made me look like I was not presentable. I had put on some make up, but it was not enough.  A certain person chewed my butt  for 15 min telling me how I needed to wear make up.  Other students were walking by and could hear what was going on.  I tried to explain how I had on make up.  I was then quizzed on what I had on.  I responded that I was wearing what they had told me I needed to wear.  I was then told that I needed to wear more.  I explained that I ran out of and I was told to borrow the make up from someone else.  Borrowing others make up is gross, there are diseases that are transmitted that way.  Me being rebellious did not borrow anyone’s make up and I did not put anymore on.

Just an FYI to all those that thought I was too manly, I have been married for almost 5 years to the love of my life, and I love to get dressed up when I want too not when I am told.  I still wear blue jeans and t-shirts and I do not look sloppy.  I still don’t wear make up and my skin looks great!!  It has taken me a long time to realize that God has made me a beautiful woman and that I don’t need anything else to make me look better especially make up.

MCL: What was the most difficult thing you faced once you were back in “the real world?”

FS: I went to a church that had an MC program in San Antonio.  I never thought I would have problems because I was in MCA.  People that were in their MC group knew my name before I introduced myself to anyone.  At the new church their MC group had a meeting about me.  They thought that I was a spy from MCA that was coming to see what they were doing.  Their MC pastor had some problems and went to Nathan.  I had to explain myself over and over again that I was not in MC anymore and that I was not there to spy on them.

Being alone with the opposite sex was really hard for me when I left MC.  It was terrible to be in a car or anything without a second person to be a witness to make sure that we did not start making out randomly.  It took me a long time to get over this issue.

MCL: What were the circumstances surrounding you leaving?

FS: I just kind of disappeared.  I did not have any really tight relationships with anyone. I was made fun of for my car that had a bad fan belt, for being Native American, and for growing up in Holliday, TX (yes 2 “L’s”).  A few of the MC’s said good-bye to me.

MCL: What year did you leave?

 

FS: 2001

MCL: What was your position at the time (example: 1st year student, 2nd year student, Staff, etc.)?

FS: I did two years as an MC and then I was a part of the trial program of interns, it was not really under MC

MCL: Were you blessed when you left? Were you humiliated when you left?

 

FS: No one really cared that I was leaving.  They did not talk to me when I was an intern.  I left just about everyone my phone number and email address so they could contact me.

MCL: How many hours did you work on average during a week?

FS: I never really counted the hours that we worked, but it was sometimes around the clock.  I got really sick from the lack of sleep.

Walking Away From Spiritual Abuse

Walking Away From Spiritual Abuse

The most difficult phase of a spiritually abusive experience is usually the exit process. This is where victims of spiritual abuse usually suffer the greatest losses. Walking away from friends and possibly even family members when exiting a religious group is never an easy process. What makes it even more difficult is when these relationships are damaged or destroyed due to the tendency of spiritually abusive leaders to blacklist and demonize members who leave the church or group.
Many people never leave their spiritually abusive church or group due to the fear of losing a large portion of their life that they have invested into the group. Most of the people who contemplate leaving a spiritually abusive environment have seen an unhealthy pattern of what happens when someone exits the group: Loss of relationships, loss of time and money invested, loss of their reputation, and even fears of losing their relationship with God and being turned over to the devil. These fears are very real, and pose a hurdle for most people who want to leave a spiritually abusive group. Many victims of spiritual abuse wonder what will become of their lives if they decide to escape their spiritually abusive church or group. They have most likely been taught that if they leave the group it is equal to leaving God. They don’t know if they can cope in the real world without the help and support of their church group.
The question then becomes: Should I leave my abusive church? That question can only be answered by you. There will most likely be losses involved. However, you have to decide which is worse – suffering the losses, or continuing to suffer from the spiritual abuse? Let me use an analogy to help you see your situation from a different perspective. Let’s say you were taken prisoner of war in a foreign country. In the prison you become removed from old family members and friends, and develop new relationships with your fellow prisoners and even some of your captors. You spend 10 years in the prison, and then are offered a way of escape. You are then faced with the same decision: Do you leave the relationships made in the abusive environment, which may be very dear to you, to go back to your old friends and family members? The next question becomes, will your your old friends and family members even remember you or want you in their lives again? Are you willing to suffer the grief of leaving friends and possibly even family members behind in the abusive environment after you escape? These are hard questions to answer, but only you can make this decision.
As far as “leaving God’s will” goes, I personally believe that this is the biggest hoax that is used by spiritual abusers. Most spiritually abusive groups create a codependent dynamic in the group that causes followers to become emotionally and spiritually dependent on the group in an inordinate way. The tactics that are used to create this dynamic usually include fear, guilt, shame, manipulation, and brainwashing. Verses of scripture are twisted and used to make members fear losing their salvation if they exit the group without the leader’s permission. It takes a lot of willpower and inner strength to cross the hurdles of these fears and leave the spiritually abusive group.
Members who do end up deciding to leave spiritually abusive groups are usually blacklisted and demonized by the leader, being cut off from association with the group’s members. This becomes another huge hurdle to cross when trying to determine if it is best for your emotional and spiritual health to leave the group. Most members who leave these groups suffer great heartache and grief due to the lost relationships that were left behind in the group. This grief is usually the most painful part of leaving a spiritually abusive group, and can even be the cause of depression in members who leave the groups. This grieving process is not exclusive to leaving a spiritually abusive group, but is common whenever leaving a group of loved ones in a traumatic fashion such as a divorce or death of loved ones. The grief becomes multiplied when you lose more than one relationship at once. Some have even likened it to losing your entire extended family in an airplane crash.
I am not trying to tell you about the grief and loss you will suffer when leaving a spiritually abusive group or church in order to scare you into staying. Personally, I believe it is always best to leave any type of abusive situation if at all possible. You won’t be able to heal and recover from the abuse until you get away from it. However, it may cause you more grief and heartache in the short run to be able to experience a healthy emotional and spiritual life in the long run. If you decide to leave your spiritually abusive church or group, you will find the resources on this website of great value in your recovery process.
It is possible to recover from spiritual abuse. It doesn’t happen overnight, and the recovery process can last a lifetime. There are a handful of books available on the subject of spiritual abuse, but very few if any that provide methods of recovery and healing from it. I have found the best way to recover from spiritual abuse is to find a group of people that can relate to your experience such as the members of the church abuse forum on this website. When you can share your hurts and pains in a safe environment with others who can understand and are sensitive to what you have been through, it can help the recovery process along tremendously.
I hope that you find the resources on this website helpful in your journey through the process of recovery from spiritual abuse.

The above article was quoted in it’s entirety from: http://www.churchabuse.com/articles/spiritual_abuse_articles/healing_spiritual_abuse_001.html

The Controlling, Narcissist Leader/Pastor

The Controlling, Narcissist Leader/Pastor

Ungodly, controlling pastors have hurt many people. The phrase “ungodly pastors” seems to be an oxymoron. These two words shouldn’t go together in the same sentence, but the sad truth is there are pastors and leaders who are only in the position for their own lustful desires.

These dictating leaders can be described by many words – controllers, manipulators, narcissists, psychopaths, cult leaders, false pastors, and dictators, to name a few. There are varying degrees of this type of leadership and some are more damaging than others, but I have seen the negative effects these type of leaders can have on people. Some pastors are just strong leaders, while others are narcissitic psychopaths. If you haven’t ever been around a person like this it may be hard for you to imagine that there are people who go to these extreme measures. But for those who have suffered under this type of heartless leadership, you know all too well how deep the wounds go.

Here are some signs and characteristics of a narcissist, unscriptural leader…..

*Resembles the same attitude Diotrephes had in III John verse 9. He is proud, carnal, demanding, overbearing, impatient, uncompassionate, “loving” only toward those who submit to him, but mean-spirited toward those who do not agree with him.

*He develops doctrines from pet verses that appear to support his view.

*He makes people feel that they cannot make important decisions and know God’s will without him.

*He exalts himself before the people.

*He ridicules his associates, making them look small in the eyes of the church members, thus increasing his own prestige and authority and decreasing theirs.

*He treats men who leave as fools and evil men. All kindness and friendship is withdrawn by the leaders. People are only treated kindly when they submit to his doctrines and “authority.”

*He contradicts himself a lot.

*He is accountable to no one.

*He provokes and intimidates people to get what he wants.

*He demands respect instead of trying to earn respect.

*He wears a phony grin and acts like everything is all right even when things are falling apart in his church.

*He acts as if he knows everything, but he really doesn’t know how to handle problems he has caused.

*He is a captive storyteller and exaggerates the truth all the time. He is able to spin a web that intrigues others and pulls them into his life.

*He has the capacity to destroy his critics verbally and disarm them emotionally.

*He does not recognize the individuality or rights of others.

*He is extremely self-serving and thinks he deserves royal treatment.

*He has no checks on his behavior – anything goes.

*He has tremendous feelings of entitlement. He believes everything is owed to him as a right.

*He presents himself as a genius.

*He has an insatiable need for adoration. When others aren’t praising him, he will praise himself.

*He gives the perception that he lives a grandiose life, but paranoia rules him. He creates an us vs. them mentality because of his perceived hostile environment.

*He lies coolly and easily, even when it is obvious he is being untruthful. It is almost impossible for him to be consistently truthful about either a major or minor issue.

*He is a plagiarist and a thief. He seldom gives credit to the true originators of ideas.

*He is extremely convincing and could more than likely pass a lie detector test.

*He does not have friends.

*He doesn’t not have feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. He feels justified in all his actions because he considers himself the ultimate moral arbiter. Nothing gets in his way.

*He is unmoved by things that would unset the normal person, while outraged by insignificant matters.

*He is cold, with shallow emotions, living in a dark world of his own.

*He can witness or order acts of utter brutality without experiencing a shred of emotion.

*He casts himself in a role of total control, which he plays to the hilt.

*He is tragically flawed in being able to either give or receive love.

*He despises community and emotional intimacy, and so he is profoundly lonely. On the one hand, though, there is something about his loneliness that he likes; for he can attribute it to his unique and superior nature.

*He constantly tests the beliefs of his followers, often with bizarre behaviors.

*He readily takes advantage of others, expressing utter contempt for anyone else’s feelings. Someone in distress is not important to him. Although intelligent, perceptive, and quite good at sizing people up, he makes no real connections with others. He uses his “people skills” to exploit, abuse, and wield power.

*He will favor and offer help to people who are down as long as he thinks they will be useful to him later on down the road. Such favors might include offering employment, loaning money, or offering personal counseling. He may call in his favor if he sees you slipping away. Also, such opportunities help the narcissist persuade himself that he is good, despite the gnawing awareness of the dark cellar at heart.

*He has an inflated sense of superiority which propels him to recklessness; for he is subject to fantasies of omnipotence and unequalled brilliance, and he feels that he is above the law. And it is this sense of superiority that allows him to underestimate the intelligence and determination of his adversaries.

*He is indifferent to injustice and it’s victims, but he rages against the person who is a threat to his charade and/or who refuses to cooperate with his underhanded schemes.

(I have taken a few of these statements from an article I have been reading, entitled Narcissism and the Dynamics of Evil. I decided just to add the link instead of continuing to add to my post. It’s a very informative article.)

All material above quoted from: http://setfree0408.blogspot.com/

Gardner at Our Savior’s Church, or Live-In Slave?

Wow Lisa… I guess I never really knew any part of your story or why you left MC. I was only there for 4 months and during that time I was so wrapped in my own person hell and misery that I couldn’t really see that anyone else was going through the same thing. I was convinced that it was just me and my “discipleship leader” liked to reinforce that belief. I know just how you feel when you sat there contemplating how to escape and toying with the idea of ending it all. It may seem a bit crazy now but at the time, questioning everything you’ve been taught for the last 5 or more years is really scary. I remember fighting with myself and trying to convince myself that somehow everything my body and mind were telling me was wrong. It was demons, my own selfishness, or Satan himself. But it wasn’t any of those things. It was a simple case of manipulation. It was really hard on me when I came to that conclusion because at that point I had no idea who the hell I was or what the hell to believe in. I had been lied to and manipulated for a long time and accepted those lies as the truth and let that consume my life. The next several years became a very trying time of rediscovering who I am. It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that Jacob [Thomas] mentioned earlier. Maybe God created me exactly the way I was. But I’ve got to say I am thankful for that. I now know who I am because of what they put me through.

I don’t know if you knew this or not but Thai Guidry, TJ Guidry, Jordan Belt and I all worked at Our Savior’s Church the summer before Master’s Commission 3D started in Broussard. I didn’t realize it at the time but we were basically live-in slaves. We worked 8 hours a day for 5 days a week maintaining the 30 acres of land that the church sits on. That meant mowing the grass, edging, weed eating, blowing the leaves, maintaining the pool, cleaning the Lodge, prep work for any special services, and basically anything else they asked. Thai and I were pretty much the ones responsible for weeding and edging which is a never-ending task. As soon as you finish edging 30 acres it’s time to start over. I remember one of the pastors telling us he wanted the place to look like a golf course. We did all of this for absolutely NO PAY! We lived in the little pool house in front of the dorms, which flooded any time it rained and we were allowed $50 a week for food.

No not each… $50 in total.

When we finally asked for more money for food we had the same thing told to us. We were ungrateful for what we had and out of line for asking for me. I felt like Oliver Twist. Can I have some more sir?? That should’ve been my first sign of what was to come next.

But at the time it made sense because that’s how the church operated. No one was paid and everyone was supposed to be grateful for “serving the kingdom.” More like serving the money generating machine that is OSC with unpaid labor.

Told by Ryan Baudoin

www.ryanbaudoin.wordpress.com