Shepherding/Discipleship Movement Survivor's Blog

The present-day impact of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement from the perspective of a former member of Morning Star International (now Every Nation Churches and Ministries).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jesus Christ Alone

As I stated in my last entry, over the last several days I've reflected on my new-found freedom in Christ, and have been so burdened to tell others about it. I don't know if "new-found" is the right terminology or not, since I have been free in Christ since January 1998 when I surrendered my life to Him, but if one remains in a jail even with the door wide open, afraid to leave the security of the jail, and not exercising that freedom, then I guess "new-found" still works.

Two years ago, when the Holy Spirit began speaking to me about this next season in my life and what He was to have me to do, He told me that He was going to use me to "bring a word to a body that has forgotten that Christ is the Head." It wasn't until several months later when I was reading Colossians that I realized this was a direct reference to Colossians 2:19, "He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow." I got chills... I had been searching and confirming and reconfirming that what God told me was in accordance with Scripture, and here was proof staring me in the face. In larger context, this was exactly what I was experiencing in my former church movement and seeing in many areas of the church at large... a return to Old Testament-style legalism. Colossians 2:16-23 (NIV) reads:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

So even though those who claim that "follow the delegated leader" brings them to a closer relationship with God, talking about how humble they are now, all the visions they have, how they've learned that through following, obeying, and honoring so-and-so they are following, obeying, and honoring the Lord, in actuality they have lost connection with the Head and risk drawing people further away. CHRIST ALONE IS THE HEAD. WE ALL FOLLOW HIM. Church leaders, ministers, pastors, the so-called five-fold ministry, rank-and-file, everyone.

Speakword, a fellow former-Every Nation member from South Africa recently posted a link on his blog to an excellent series of articles discussing the detailed roots and history of the "covering doctrine." I believe that the "covering doctrine" as practiced TODAY in Every Nation churches (yes, as in today, now, after the "reorganization"), particularly but not exclusively in the US, comprises the core of a false gospel where leaders become Christ to their followers, if not in name, certainly in practice. I agree with Speakword that it is idolatry. I also believe that it adds works to salvation, because if one does not unquestionably obey their leaders, then one's very salvation is called into question.

Though as I've stated before both here and on FACTNet, the issue isn't just when the practical applications of these teachings go "too far" and abuses occur. They have to be dealt with at their theological root. Time and again, the leaders of Shepherding-style movements, including Maranatha Campus Ministries and now Every Nation, have repented of "abuse" and "control." But not of the root theology that led to the abuse and control in the first place. Rob McAlpine, the author of the above linked series of articles states, "the fatal flaw was not in the existence of the abuse, but in the foundational assumptions that gave credence to the teachings on submission and authority."

I am "covered" by the precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And not only "covered" in an Old Testament sense but cleansed free from sin. Read the book of Hebrews. Read Jesus' admonishments in the synoptic gospels that "so shall it not be among you."

I know that one of the objectives of "covering" and "accountability" is to keep people free from sin. This is not necessarily a bad objective, just a human solution to a spiritual problem that only God can solve through the power of the Holy Spirit Who indwells all believers in Christ. Sadly, as the periodic scandals and failures among leaders who teach and practice this doctrine illustrates, quoting the apostle Paul, these human, legalistic practices "lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." They didn't work in Old Testament times, and they don't work today, other than to point us to Jesus Christ as our only hope.

A friend gave me a note of encouragement the other day... it meant so much to me. I hope this person doesn't mind me quoting this here.

We need to trust in God and be faithful to what He has called or shown us to. [. . .] You don't need me to check up on you and you don't need an accountability board. You stand or fall with the weapons God has given you as long as you use them.

There may be some who say, to quote an Every Nation leader I heard say derisively some time ago (about someone else) when teaching about how to hear from God, that I'm just an "uncovered woman." To them I reply, I AM FREE IN CHRIST!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!


Blogger Eimi Mitchell - Motivational Speaker said...

Amazing amazing amazing! I was a part of the worship team at a local MSC church. My last Sunday was last week. I have a meeting with the pastor tonight... I pray that God will help me, I'm nervous as heck. I will not tell my story here, but would love to talk with you if possible. If you would be fine with that please look at my myspace account .com/eimi

PS, your post is posted JUST in time! I praise God.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Alesja Lavrinovica said...


I' ve attended the same congregation on the other side of the globe.

I can completely understand what you' ve been through.

In my present church I needed to be delivered from the spirit of control which crept in just in couple of years..

2:59 PM  
Blogger E6AHCK said...

I was under Keith, under Jim, under Bob G under Bob Mumford. I got shunned after a breakfast at Shoneys. There were lots of cell group meetings reminiscent of Oliver Cromwell's roundheads. The last I heard Keith was selling beer and Jim died after a heart transplant. I don't care about the others, because I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy -- the living apostolic church.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this. I only just came across the name of this movement I was a child during. The questions you asked that emerged from your own discovery hit home with me. I felt so alone for so many years in that horrible experience and now there is not only a name I have for it, but there are other people out there.

9:37 PM  

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