Is Master’s Commission a Cult?

Another forum post that can be found here: In order to comment on the forum, or take the quiz, you must register as a user.

Do a quick google search for “Master’s Commission Cult” and you produce 31,700 URLS linking you to the subject. There have been forum discussions before this one about Master’s Commission being a cult, but most of them were in random forums without a larger Master’s Commission or ex-Master’s Commission readership.

I hope that this forum will be a more centralized location for people to gather together and spread the word about, because there’s nothing like feeling ALONE after leaving one of those groups. It’s so liberating to find out that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who left and feel exactly like you and I do!

Welcome to the discussion,

9 thoughts on “Is Master’s Commission a Cult?”

  1. Although I never attended masters commission I found myself intertwined with it due to several of my closest friends who attended the school.
    From an outsider’s point of view, and as someone who had left the church completely several years before I ever came across Masters commission, I felt I could really see it at face value and urged my friends to leave, if not right away then as soon as they finished the year.
    I was amazed but not surprised seeing the lives of the people who left or graduated post-MC many of whom started to follow a very self destructive path after they were liberated. It was almost as if they had to distance themselves as far as they could from anything they were taught or had experienced while in MC. Many of these people didn’t find balance in their lives for years after wards, whether it was from constant psychological abuse from current or graduated students who still believed, or just the lasting affect that the school had on them. I personally don’t believe in a god, but personal beliefs aside, whatever faith you have, whatever you believe in, whatever you believe MC to be, believe that Masters Commission is a destructive force. But most of all believe that it is the right thing to turn your back and run from it.

    1. Danny,
      You’re absolutely right that most of us who left MC or graduated post-MC have had to distance ourselves from anything MC related. Some people I know have followed a very self-destructive path, too. Some people have had to experiment to find their own boundaries. Many people have dealt with depression. I recently spoke with someone who’s counseled dozens of former MC’s and he said that depression and low self-worth are two traits that are a common thread with all of us.

      After being so closed off from society and forced into living life in a “bubble,” we were used to being sheltered. We were used to having decisions being made for us. We were used to being told that we were wrong when we made decisions ourselves. So, naturally guilt and fear are going to follow us, as well.

      Part of why I’ve made this website is so that I could tell my story and encourage others to talk about theirs. Talking about mine (online, in therapy, to friends) has done wonders for me. It’s started the long process of getting back to “normal” living–what I had pre-Master’s.

      Most of all, I agree and appreciate your sentiment here: “I personally don’t believe in a god, but personal beliefs aside, whatever faith you have, whatever you believe in, whatever you believe MC to be, believe that Masters Commission is a destructive force. But most of all believe that it is the right thing to turn your back and run from it.” I couldn’t agree more!

      1. It’s interesting.  I’m torn between agreeing with you and disagreeing with you.  As a Master’s Commission Alumni (having done the program for 3 years), I very much appreciated my time in MC.  Yes, it was difficult but mostly due to the people I was mentoring and the choices they made.  Having been out of the program for 3 years, I still appreciated that time.  I learned about God, made incredible friends, and learned what I wanted to do with my life.  I suppose I knew I was taking years off the “normal schedule” instead of going to college, but since I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, going to college would have been a waste of money and time.  Having mentored young men and women with significant emotional issues, and just being able to love on them and help them, I realized I wanted to be a social worker/counselor.  Were there things about the program that I didn’t like?  Absolutely.  Were there things that I didn’t like but were good for me? Yes.  Was I burnt out after I left?  Oh, yes.  Are there things that I would change?  Yes.  But I think Master’s Commission offers an oasis to leave and spend a year cultivating a relationship with God.  Sadly, depending on the leadership that is guiding you, this can definitely go awry.  We also must be careful of the influences we have in our lives-parents, friends, pastors, mentors etc.  I was glad for the people who mentored me, for they fostered a mentality of questioning leadership.  I was taught that the bible and Jesus were the standards to which everything else-even pastors-were compared.  However, many people aren’t like that.  I’ve seen many people crumbled under the “intensity” of the program.  For ours, at least, we had rules but they made sense and (at least I knew) they wouldn’t be there my whole life.  However, there were casualties of our program too, my sister being one of them.  Why do some people grow so much and others fizzle out?  I don’t know.  I’ve seen some amazing people hate MC, and I’ve seen other amazing people love MC.  What makes the difference?  Are the people that love it brainwashed and ridiculous?  No.  That would be unfair to judge their relationship with God so harshly.  What Jesus’ said is quite radicle, so perhaps they ARE following it, and we are not.   

        Is MC a cult?  Maybe sometimes, and it depends on which one-each MC is different.  But was it good for me?  Yes.  Jesus calls us to go and make disciples.  Growing up, I was never discipled and had no understanding of the Christian life.  I was discipled in MC, and taught to find God for myself, which, in turn, is what I tried to instill in others.  Christianity is not about rules, it’s about knowing God.  So, although “rules” like don’t sleep around or stop smoking weed, might be necessary at first, I (and others around me) tried to teach people how to seek God and then learn to find their own standards with God.  For when they leave, they wouldn’t have the structure or the rules.  They would only have them and God.

        Mass discipleship doesn’t work.  However, one on one discipleship does.  MC has it’s problem, but I think it had the seeds of what Jesus asked us to do.  Sadly, most of the Church has failed in its charge to disciple; and MC sometimes goes overboard or downright Pharisaical in its discipleship which can break people.

        I guess the best decisions of my life were 1) going to master’s and 2) leaving master’s.  Yes, there was recovery time, but God had me in that program for a season and did a marvelous work in my life.  Was there difficulty and pain? Yes.  Did the imperfect humans in that program hurt me just like they can everywhere else?  Yes.  But God is bigger, and I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  People suck everywhere.  But God is good.  I think what was most difficult was the disillusionment that christian leaders and christians could be humans too.  I wanted them to be perfect- I expected them to be Jesus, and they are not even close.  I am not even close. So, God taught me to forgive them, just like I need to be forgiven, and that has value too.  

        I am who I am today because of the experiences of my life.  And because I (try) to walk with God, I get through each experience better than I was when I began.  One day, maybe we will learn to disciple people as God intended, but I doubt any of us really know how to do it perfectly.   

        (just food for thought as I’ve been perusing through your blog)

      2. I’m new to this site and trying to figure out what this is all about cause I had a positive experience with MC from 2004-2006 at MCUSA in Phoenix, AZ.  I think I’ve got it now though as you stated here that you do not believe in God.  This explains everything…  I’m not saying that MC cannot do any wrong its just that from your worldview its impossible to see the benefits of giving a year of your life to know God and make Him known, the ethos of Master’s Commission…


    MC was definitely not in mind when I wrote these articles years ago. But those of you who’ve asked the question as to whether or not MC is a “cult” may find it helpful to study them. I think they will give you objective bases to use as you consider whether or not your affiliations were “cultic” or not.

    I know little to nothing about MC other than that it was used as a model for my own movement’s attempt to develop urban ministry models for discipleship and evangelism. I do know this – anytime someone assumes the role of spiritual leadership and formation over a group of people, the danger can always be there. Some “chapters” of an organization can become “cultic” .. in ways certainly not easily seen.


    rev rafael d martinez
    spiritwatch ministries

    1. Rev Rafael,
      Thanks so much for your comment and for the links. I appreciate the links and will check them out.

      I do agree that the spiritual leadership aspect is when things can get out of hand. In MC groups, the difficult thing is that they’re not monitored and some of the founding tenants almost encourage and promote the cultic or destructive teachings.

      Again, I appreciate your comment.

  3. I was wondering what your opinion is (if any) on Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Many in this community shun it for being a cult-like church with a strong Word-of-Faith (“Prosperity Gospel”) inspiration. Bill Johnson, the senior pastor, has been rebuked by the vast majority of true Christian leaders in Redding. I’m obviously not a fan of it but can you tell me if you suspect that it is or it isn’t a cult? (or anyone else who wants to chime in)

    Thank you!

    1. Sung,
      I’m not familiar with Bethel Church, but I can tell you there are some great websites out there that talk about cults (Rick Ross’ site and one called and the characteristics. It’s good to read stories of other cults (the politically correct term, of course, is unhealthy or destructive group) and compare notes on teachings, behaviors, etc.

      My guess is that if many of the leaders in the Redding area are onto his teachings for being dangerous, they probably are.

      My site will be developed more in the next few months with the resources page easier to find. I have many links and articles gathered on the subject, and they’ll be posted up there soon.

      Thanks for reading and I hope that we can all work together in educating people about the dangers of destructive teaching in unhealthy groups.

  4. Your information should reach more people somehow. I have seen how the MC Pastors have targeted the lady of the household in order to “set the hook” . In many cases the girlfriend, wife etc. leaves the current spiritual relaionship with her current mate (who is by biblical terms, to be the spiritual leader of the couple) and eventually leave the entire relationship in order to remain within one of these “Dr. Feelgood Churches”. Is this really the intentions of religion or God? I would think not. Seems more obvious about the almighty dollar and people are actually falling prey. It is puzzzling, but then I think about the liberal world that we live in today and realize everyday that people like these MC folks are just good enough to use the actual tools (Bible) [Politicians (Constitution)] to accomplish exactly the opposite of what these articles were intended to protect. Thanks for getting your word out. I would love to help, let me know what I can do.

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