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.

6 thoughts on “A Dialogue with Master’s Commission Directors”

  1. I know this question is not directed toward me but I would just like to add my little 2 cents if that is okay.

    I was in MCA for 3 years. The last year, my 3rd year, I was only there part time. For one, I lived with a home opener. I was the only MC in Austin to ever live with a home opener (that I know of). I also had to work part time so I was only involved part time with MC. Looking back, I can see that this was the Lord’s plan and way of protecting me.

    I have been keeping up with My Cult Life and The Bishop’s Wife’s updates. I am appalled at the treatment of my fellow students and staff members and those who came after me. There is no excuse for this type of behavior.

    First and foremost, allow me to say that I had a wonderful experience in MCA. I know that the Lord called me there for my two years for a purpose. I would not change that experience for anything in the world. The Lord used MC to transform my life for His glory. Yes, there were times when I was hurt. But I know that when dealing so intimately with people…people get hurt. From what I understand, after my first 2 year, that is when things grew steadily worse.

    You hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph about the number of staff a director takes on. There is really no use for this.

    My “part time” 3rd year I felt so silly and useless. Most of the year I spent planning the groups parties and special events. Oh, occasionally they would hand me something a little bigger. I do not blame the staff personally for any of this. I wanted to be there that year and this was all that was available for me to do. The problem was that I shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I could have grown just as much spiritually going to college, having a job and helping out in youth group. I didn’t need to keep coming back year after year. I believe that this is the major flaw with Master’s Commission. This program was designed to equip and send out for God’s work, not keep as many of the good ones as we can so we look strong and healthy, and can do all the cool videos. 😉

    This hoarding people needs to stop. As much as we want to keep those that we’ve grown to love close, we have to understand that it IS NOT SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY.

    This is just my feelings and experience on the matter.

    1. Rachel,
      Your comments and perspective are greatly appreciated and valued. Your experience is one that I’m sure some readers will be able to relate to, and that all directors will definitely be able to take note of.

      I have also found that Master’s Commission groups universally hoard people and leaders. The worst part is that it stunts their personal growth and some of the other issues are that they’re not properly paid, so it makes it harder and harder for them to financially stand on their own. With limited resources and limited real job experience, it can make it harder for a young adult to move on.

  2. I know that i didn’t want to be a “lifer” but it always seemed that if you really wanted to do something great you had to be in MC. I think a major failure of MC is that there is no exit strategy. There is no where to send young people to do the work of the Lord after they have completed their time. Part of this is because of the relatively low level of real job skills that are developed. I know a lot of pastors who don’t want a person who has only been in MC. They want a person who has gone to college or had some real world experience before trying to jump on a staff.

    1. Hey Aaron,

      Dude, I totally agree with the exit strategy remark. a couple years ago someone asked my what I thought about Masters and I pretty much said that exact same thing. I thought that for two years it was a great experience, and I grew spiritualy. However, the primary thing that was lacking was the fact that the “norm” was to stay in the program. I really wished that after two years people were really encouraged to step out on their own and that college was encouraged instead of discouraged. I think it would have been great if the message was “OK, you have been here for two years, now go out into the world and make a difference” Instead, it was kind of like….well, what do I do now?? And then you were encouraged to stay and help run the program. Anyways man, I just wanted to let you know I think you hit the nail on the head.

  3. I am no longer an MC, but I remember people telling me that they were “lifers”. I said that is not me. I remember sitting out at Mozart’s looking at the lake and the hills. I just kept thinking to myself, there is so much more to this world besides Austin. People did and I am assuming still have the mentality of being a “lifer”.

    TO ALL THE DIRECTORS: I really wish that MC groups would also encourage their student to seek education when they leave the MC program. I never thought that I would go to school, but I am now getting my Master’s. My younger sister assisted me in enrolling in a local community college when I left MC. The MC programs need to have information about tech programs or colleges in their state and about financial aid (most of this is online for free). Many people leave thinking that they are going to be in ministry full-time, but that usually does not happen. People need to have a trade or education to get anywhere today.

    By the way, I may not have had a good experience in my MC group, but there are other people that I have spoken to and they have had great experiences in there MC groups.

  4. I though what a waste to have these amazing, talented, God loving Young People staying right where they were. God said to go forth and yet no one really did. I think you all should have been encouraged to go to college or take your talents out to other ministries. I hurt every time I read these blogs I so wish I could kiss the hurts away.

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