Welcome to De-Commissioned, a place for former members of the Great Commission movement (aka GCM, GCC, GCAC, GCI, the Blitz) to discuss problems they've experienced in the association's practices and theology.

You may read and post, but some features are restricted to registered members. Please consider registering to gain full access! Registration is free and only takes a few moments to complete.
De-Commissioned Forum
April 21, 2019, 11:07:39 pm *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 
  Home   Forum   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: AUTHORITARIANISM in GCx Churches  (Read 2993 times)
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« on: October 25, 2018, 07:54:05 pm »

Authoritarianism in GCx Churches


“Toxic Faith” by Arterburn & Felton lists Authoritarianism as characteristic #2 of a Toxic Faith System.  The authors explain this leadership dictates whatever they feel is right or wrong.  They believe that everyone should submit to their rule without question.  Importantly, they note that these leaders mistake the position for one that is free from accountability.  Those under them are picked because they are easily manipulated or fooled.  These compliant board members, elders, or deacons thereby give credibility to the leader’s actions. They “become the coconspirators of the persecutor and permit the toxic leader to persecute without interruption”.  This forms a dangerous illusion of accountability.

If this sounds familiar, it is because this is what so many of us have experienced in GCx churches still today and yesterday.  Here are just some of the voices (from this site) of those victimized by authoritarianism in GCx Churches.



I managed to separate myself from GCx only after finding this forum, and reading the accounts of people who had feelings and experiences that were not only similar to my own, but in other cases, pointed to a future for myself, and my family, that I did not want. This future is not made readily apparent when you join a GCx church. ...Pressure is brought to bear to bring you into conformance ever so slowly, and none too delicately. You feel vaguely guilty about the issue until you finally submit, and do as you've been asked to do, whether the matter is time, or money, or resources.
-arthur


So for me, I left because the church was controlling my whole life in a wholly non-biblical way. Instead of allowing every one to express their own gifts and pursue their own dreams, with the church as a support network, it was being used to manipulate and control hundreds of young single people.
-Differentstrokes


It has taken me a long time to figure things out with the GCM mess at my campus. It helps to know that I’m not crazy and that these things really were taught, with pressure. I am so glad to be out from all the pressure to be “good” members (with) all the unspoken, yet powerful rules.
-soundstoofamiliar


Accountability was used to an extreme to exercise authority of leaders and church discipline.  I'm not saying accountability is wrong, far from it.  Here's the difference.  GCC uses it to break down and emotionally control members for the most part.
-Immortal_Raven


Anytime you elevate a pastor (who was "recognized" by other "elders" who were "recognized" by "elders" in a chain of succession that goes all the way back to...McCotter...who...years ago proclaimed himself an apostle) to a position that gives him authority to tell church members where to work, who to marry, what church to go to, how to spend your money... preaching to them, ‘You should give the controls of your life to the men God works through, or to surrender your will to a leader or to the movement’; you have fallen away from anything resembling "orthodox Protestantism" and moved into sect territory. ...This is NOT orthodox Christianity and I don't think the NAE would approve.
-Linda


I was at Stonebrook in Ames from 1993 to around 1998. My husband had been with GC in the very early days but had left because of all the control issues they had.
-cmofames


Veiled threats, subtle intimidation, sowing discord with friends and family. It really is just an extension of the abuse they practice in-house to collect and control members...
-G_Prince


I think they have functioned from the beginning of their ministry from the ultra-authoritarian view point, and I don't think they realize what they are doing. I think they are sincere, and sincerely wrong about their interpretation of Scripture when it comes to the role of the pastor. I think they are believers who have gone down the wrong path and they are blind to what they are doing... It takes so long to see through the manipulation of these pastors. They tout their behavior as love and concern, but in reality they are all about controlling people under them and hanging on to their position and power.
-GodisFaithful


I ended up going on a church plant team to Miami, where there was also a culture of control, and no freedom of independent thinking, including getting approval for the types of books you read.
-Liz


In my opinion, this movement is a cult. The leaders are deceptive towards their own followers. ...Their rottenness festers more in the area of wanting to control how people think, work, play, sing, read, pray, vote, procreate, study, and talk. Don't support them.
-ISU Alumna


Some time ago I was active in campus fellowship at Drake University. During this time there was excessive abuse of power. People were told who they could and could not date and (also) told...not to spend as much time with specific people of the opposite sex. Reasons for these measures usually lacked any biblical support other than the good old "I am your elder. I am telling you this. You must submit (to) me" mantra... Throughout the years, Drake CF continued to use strict control measures on others...
-Alex


I realize that I was persuaded against my will by the authoritarian teachings of the leaders in Ames.  
-lone gone


Here’s one example of un-Biblical authority of some of the leaders ~ a grown man decided it was time for he and his family to move to a far away location and they counseled him not to because it was not God’s will for him to do that ~ to which I said to my husband:  “How could they know what God’s will is for him in this situation?” ...The weaknesses in GC continue to manifest themselves because of a lack of proper Bible teaching & understanding from the pastors, which filters down to staff and everyone else... Of course, not properly interpreting the Bible also leads to the un-Scriptural use of pastoral authority, something that has been mentioned much at this forum.  
-Truth Lover


These individuals asserted a great deal of control over your lives for a long time and you're rightly concerned about "how far" they would go. Issues like you've described aren't just abusive, they show a clear ignorance of respect for boundaries.
-namaste


I had been so "brainwashed" that I thought pleasing God and pleasing Jim McCotter (and other leaders, but Jim was the true leader; the rest were yes men) were the same thing. It has taken years to get over that thought. The thing is, that thought was not directly taught, but was a strong impression. If you don't do what is "counseled" you can't be in God's will and so can't be pleasing to Him. This while being taught that there is no mediator between God and man except Christ. But, Jim put himself as that mediator, interpreting God's will for others.
-nolongergci


I remember writing a paper for a Masters level Counseling course 20 year ago, in which I referred to the controlling and manipulative methods the inner circle of my local GCx church would use to communicate approval and disapproval to mold our lives. And then I feel like a fool for having closed my eyes to it for several more years afterwards.
-margaret


...we left our GC church due to its: 1) highly controlling authority structure, 2) poor theology overall, 3) the embrace of the national elders of contemporary apostleship (something we consider to have been heretical)
-EverAStudent


All I ever heard about conflict was to filter everything through the pastors, and "seek Godly council" - aka gossip. I can't imagine the pastors of our old (GCx) church ever passing up juicy gossip like that. They were quick to pass gossip up and down the line about us!!
-unsubscribed


I've only recently become aware of the danger of Walnut Creek (GCx Church), from a friend of mine, N., who started going there last fall (~2011). ...He has been asked by more than one leader on numerous occasions to give up his promising career in professional golf, which of course takes him out of town frequently (where he does frequently share his faith). He's also heard leaders claim they are the only church "doing it right" at a recent mens retreat. ...(my friend) began to feel like something wasn't right and began to do his own research on the history of GCx movement. ...Much of what I've seen on here rings very true to his experience.
-stayalert


We reminded them that of course the GC distinctives... (authoritarian leadership and "loyalty to GC for life" cult-like sectarianism) were not limited to a few poor word choices in a few recordings, but pervasive and widespread within their organization.
-TerryD



Other descriptions of the dictatorial leadership by the two ”Toxic Faith” authors are quite telling. They go on to say in this kind of toxic environment talents and abilities are used to meet the needs of the leader (in GCx - their idolized organization and its revered leaders), not to reach out to people and serve God.  Anyone wanting to advance in this system must never challenge their authority.  Any negative comment or criticism is perceived as a threat and is eliminated so the ministry can survive.  They seem to create a blind faith in their system of beliefs and behaviors, rather than true dependence on God.

The people above speak to expose and warn us of this harmful authoritarian environment. Please listen to these real voices and consider the kind of church group and leaders you are putting yourself under. It may be very toxic to your faith.




« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 12:40:56 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Cult Proof
Regular (15-99 Posts)
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 67



« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2018, 12:22:41 pm »

Janet this is so good and helpful!  Thank you for taking the time to put it together.
I think the first paragraph defines to a T why there was a certain man appointed as my husband was being abused out of being a pastor. It’s horrifying that what you meant for good someone else set you up to use for evil. 
Logged
Linda
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2317



« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 06:52:08 am »

I agree Cult Proof.

This post is very helpful in painting the picture of the harm done by the authoritarian teaching of this group. Thank you, Janet, for taking the time to research and document all the quotes.
Logged

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2018, 06:31:13 pm »

MORE Authoritarianism in GCx Churches


According to well respected Christian voices, a group can preach the true gospel of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through personal faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and death for them (by receiving him); and yet practice and teach a false gospel for their day to day living. GCx churches do seem to evangelize and share the true message of the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ alone.  But, that is where this organization seems to stop regarding the integrity of the gospel. Sticking around to be shepherded by this group has shown to be quite harmful to one’s soul and faith.  Other “strange” teachings and “doctrine” begin to come into play.  Here is a very helpful statement from CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) on this detrimental occurrence:

“Cultic activity does not always involve a departure from orthodox doctrine. Exclusivism, isolationism, legalism, authoritarianism, perfectionism, and a “persecution mentality” are all cultic tendencies that can occur within orthodox churches or parachurch ministries. Orthodox fringe groups are usually begun by domineering leaders who demand rigid conformity and obedience from their followers.  The personal lives of members are closely scrutinized for “sin.” Strict control is exercised over all habits and decision-making.”*

CBN also goes on to say “A form of overly intrusive church discipline practiced by some fundamentalist and evangelical churches is called shepherding. A church member who is being shepherded reports to a specified church elder or leader in the shepherding hierarchy. Major (and not-so-major) decisions on the part of “sheep” must be cleared with the shepherd.  ...In practice, it was found that the surrender of self-determination was psychologically and spiritually harmful. Also, the absolute control given to shepherding leaders often leads them to abuse their powers.”*

Here is what more former members have to say about their experience inside GCx Churches regarding authoritarianism.  You will notice there are also people who were in the group well beyond it’s early years in which GCx has excused it’s authoritarianism as initial ‘immature zeal’. They experienced authoritarianism well past it’s 1991 “Statement Recognizing Early Errors and Weaknesses in the Development of the Great Commission Association of Churches” written nearly 20 years after the group began.  Thus, some dates are included (where available) to highlight the recentness of this cultic activity still 45 years later.  These former members also write to stop the silencing of Spiritual Abuse in GCx Churches.



For all of us believers in Christ who have read the Bible, the whole concept of GCx heavy handedness and authoritarian methodology is extremely wrong. They are hanging stones around necks and destroying lives. I have witnessed these things with my own eyes -- I have seen big hearted generous people being torn to shreds. ... I will warn all people about the authoritarian model of "leadership" practiced by GCx franchises that I have personally seen in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado.
-boboso   [left ~ 2007]


This is the "Great Commission" [GCx Churches’] attitude on the priesthood of the believer. ‘YOU, a mere layman in the congregation, cannot be trusted to hear from God. Only leaders can’. We've seen quotes from various pastors in the movement teaching this. It gets to the core of what is wrong with it all.
-j


...I would offer my experience for those trying to leave WCCC [Walnut Creek Community Church - a GCx Church in Des Moines, Iowa]...
My experience was that it only took a few months away from it all to really begin to see all the controls that were upon my life. I spoke with a young person who was warned by a bible study leader that if they studied abroad or went home for the summer, they would be vulnerable to the devil and could fall away... The culture put pressure on people to follow these patterns, even though none of them can be found as mandated in scripture. It is interesting to note that a person in GCx can flat out deny that any of these pressures exist if you were to confront them. For instance, when I confronted leaders that these pressures to not date existed, they would deny it and point to the two couples in the student group who were dating (even though they had tried to break them up).
-MarthaH


...[The members] have been taught that it is righteous and God Honoring to mistreat people who "threaten" the organization with dissent or questions. ...The problem is that this organization was founded by people who crave power and control. They use the bible as a vehicle of control.
-OneOfMany


I also left the Manhattan [GCx Kansas] church. ...I know that I was being emotionally manipulated, but I turned right around and did it to other people. Acting like I had all the answers for their lives. Ugh. ...things were too controlling...  They convinced me to change my major (as others have mentioned) which meant losing my scholarship because it was major contingent. I still to this day can not believe I did that. But they really made me feel like I was doing it for God. It's crazy. ...People put so much faith in these leaders... But really, they are just men saying the same thing over and over again in less and less sophisticated language and then emotionally, mentally, and socially manipulating people into believing they speak for God!  ... They hijacked my life.
-escapee   [left ~ 2009]


I was in Solid Rock [GCx Church] at Columbus, Ohio from 74 to 80, [GCx] College Park Bible Study at University of Maryland from 80 to 82, and [GCx Church in] Towson [Maryland] from 82 to 84. ... Just the thought of talking to them, sends me into a panic. I think it's just a throwback from bad experiences in GC. My husband had a very bad experience in GC when three elders reproved him for almost three hours, finally breaking him down mentally.
-Jane


Anyone out there that is a former attendee of Evergreen [GCx church] Bloomington [Minnesota]?  I am considering leaving. ... I was told I am a sinner for questioning things. I told some of the pastors recently about an illness; and I was told it was [because] I did not have my walk right, and it was repeated to me about not having enough faith, not praying enough, etc. Yet, later a medical reason was found for things. When I do question things suddenly people don't want to talk to me... I feel worse now that when I first started to attend. ...As I read through this web site I see that a lot of the reasons I am thinking of leaving are mentioned. ...I am tired of the shame [and] guilt. I see it is getting very controlling and very legalistic.
-wondering   [left ~ 2013]


In GCI [another alias used by GCx] I was taught that spiritual growth was inseparable from obedience to the dictates of the elders. After I left, and got enough distance to start to realize that God wouldn’t strike me dead if I listened to someone else’s point of view...
-Columbus Old-Timer


I attended much more recently, leaving in 2015... ...when things got really bad, where my friends and I were so overwhelmed with all the negative things we were seeing, we tried to talk to R. [name abbreviated], who was head of the Edge [Campus Ministry at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire] as well as Cedarcreek Church [Eau Claire, WI] by that point. We went into it completely hopeful but each concern was systematically destroyed. We were wrong, he said. [This leader said] there weren't problems (except for transparency, which he said would be addressed but never was). And the real kicker, that since R. was in charge, he got to have the final say. In everything. Though he said he didn't like using the word, he did describe himself as the "dictator" of the Edge when we questioned his ability to not let us control any aspect [of the campus ministry], even though it was supposed to be a student run organization; except it actually wasn't. Cedarcreek views the Edge as a college "church plant" which is why the students get no control. This, however, was the first we knew of it. They never told the students they were in a church plant.
-Alexa


I can tell you unequivocally that my stay at the [GCx] church in East Lansing [Michigan] during the late 70s and early 80s was the worst time of my life. ... The reason it was so bad was that I was prey among predators. ... As I look back, the leadership (formal and informal) in the church did a fairly good job of sizing me up - broken home, abusive childhood, self-doubt - and they used my frailties to manipulate and control me. And not just me but others who these predators came to view as prey. They were experts in victimizing the vulnerable. And no one was better at this than McCotter.
-damaged_goods


I was in the Stonebrook Church in Iowa. ... GCx churches have a way of making you dependent.  They insist you ask for counsel for everything -- who to marry, what job to take, whether to go to college, who to live with -- every decision we were required to get "counsel" and you couldn't go against counsel.  I found it difficult after I left to make decisions.  I found it difficult to rely on God and not on the church.
-wastedyearsthere


I'm also from the Summitview Rock, 2008-2012. ... I told them how I'd been kicked off my team and left in the end because my small-group leaders thought I shouldn't be friends with one of the girls on the team anymore; and I disagreed and refused to submit.  ... Thoughtless obedience to other people seems to masquerade for obedience to God in these churches, but it isn't.  I personally have had God speak to me and guide me, and very often I found that following God put me in direct conflict with those who expected obedience to the church from me.  My decision to put obedience to God over obedience to the church was eventually what got me kicked out.  
-2xA Ron  


For almost four years, I was an active member of a group that is identified by many individuals as a ’”totalist” aberrant Christian organization’ (TACO)(Pile, 1990).  They are “totalist” by virtue of their attempts to control almost every area of the member’s life.” ... This term defined gives an accurate picture of my experience within this [GCx] church. Almost every friend that I was allowed to have was a member of my small group. The only people that I was allowed to have contact with outside of my small group were those who I was “reaching out” to, who were not members of my church or did not know Christ.
-sistanchrist


I was involved with the Summitview in Greeley [Colorado] from 2009 till January of 2013. ... I also left because I used to be in a concert band and was told that it is best for me to sacrifice it for God. They were pretty controlling toward me and tried to tell me what to do. I was told that I if I don't do something [they counsel] that it is actually disobedience to God. ... I have so many complaints about them that its ridiculous.
-clarinet20


GCx taught that the elders/pastors are effectively the husbands of everyone in the congregation.  All the congregation members have "married" the elders by joining the church.  In this way, the members must obey them as if they were literally their husbands.  Worse, to resign from the church is to commit the sin of divorcing the elders...  ... Many of us were charged with the sin of "divorcing the church" by resigning.  Many were also charged with "committing spiritual adultery" for later joining non-GCx churches.
-anonymoustoday


I am current GCC member. The topics that my pastors have discussed, usually end up being repeated several times. I have noticed that sometimes they target people or are used to make examples of others. I would agree that the topics usually come from a defensive position. I have seen that they use it to control, not trusting that God will work in our lives...
-curious


One needs the full counsel of scripture and their own personal direction from the Holy Spirit to obediently apply [scripture] in their own life in each circumstance. [However,] the message from B. [GCx Elder] seems to present a more heavy handed approach of making people feel like if you don't do the specific things that he is listing, you are not obeying God.
-Clear


One has to learn to separate the notion of divorcing GCx, from the notion of divorcing God, because the two are not the same -- though they might feel the same. We might feel like we're betraying God by leaving -- and really, what hubris of GCx to make people feel so indoctrinated, as to feel like this is so! No church should have such a business making people feel that way.
-FeministRebel   [left ~ 2003]


...when I was in the [GCx] cult and as a new mother, I asked a few other young mothers to come for a play group. At the play group I shared with the other young mothers what I read in the scriptures that morning. The other mothers decided to do the same. The pastor's wife (did not have any children) found out and boy was I in trouble!  I was given very clear and strict directives: the bible could not be discussed unless what was shared was "pre-approved" by the pastor and only if the pastor's wife or the pastor was in attendance.
-calgal


 ...if you are a member of Candlewood [GCx Church in Omaha/Lincoln Nebraska] you are not allowed to live your own life, let alone be your own person. I do know that God changes a person over time as that person pursues [Him], but God does not force his way onto you. This church does. ... You cannot pursue dreams, have time to yourself, or even moments of privacy. They demand you to get under their control or else they give you the cold shoulder, even if it was just life happening.
-Child_of_Arkham   [left ~ 2017]



Finally, CBN warns through its online course on ‘Discerning Cults’ that “Christians should beware of any group or church that demands excessive submission...  Christ came to make us free (John 8:34-36; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5). He himself is the “one shepherd”.  (John 10:14, 16).”*





*From CBN Online Courses:
https://www1.cbn.com/content/chapter-6-discerning-cults

« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 01:30:46 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Cult Proof
Regular (15-99 Posts)
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 67



« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2018, 07:30:35 pm »

Again this is so helpful!!!!  Thank you!!!
Logged
PietWowo
Veteran (100-299 Posts)
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160



« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2018, 12:07:20 am »

MORE Authoritarianism in GCx Churches


According to well respected Christian voices, a group can preach the true gospel of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through personal faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and death for them (by receiving him); and yet practice and teach a false gospel for their day to day living. GCx churches do seem to evangelize and share the true message of the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ alone.  But, that is where this organization seems to stop regarding the integrity of the gospel. Sticking around to be shepherded by this group has shown to be quite harmful to one’s soul and faith.  Other “strange” teachings and “doctrine” begin to come into play.  Here is a very helpful statement from CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) on this detrimental occurrence:

“Cultic activity does not always involve a departure from orthodox doctrine. Exclusivism, isolationism, legalism, authoritarianism, perfectionism, and a “persecution mentality” are all cultic tendencies that can occur within orthodox churches or parachurch ministries. Orthodox fringe groups are usually begun by domineering leaders who demand rigid conformity and obedience from their followers. The personal lives of members are closely scrutinized for “sin.” Strict control is exercised over all habits and decision-making.”*

CBN also goes on to say “A form of overly intrusive church discipline practiced by some fundamentalist and evangelical churches is called shepherding. A church member who is being shepherded reports to a specified church elder or leader in the shepherding hierarchy. Major (and not-so-major) decisions on the part of “sheep” must be cleared with the shepherd.  ...In practice, it was found that the surrender of self-determination was psychologically and spiritually harmful. Also, the absolute control given to shepherding leaders often leads them to abuse their powers.”*

Here is what more former members have to say about their experience inside GCx Churches regarding authoritarianism.  You will notice there are also people who were in the group well beyond it’s early years in which GCx has excused it’s authoritarianism as initial ‘immature zeal’. They experienced authoritarianism well past it’s 1991 “Statement Recognizing Early Errors and Weaknesses in the Development of the Great Commission Association of Churches” written nearly 20 years after the group began.  Thus, some dates are included (where available) to highlight the recentness of this cultic activity still 45 years later.  These former members also write to stop the silencing of Spiritual Abuse in GCx Churches.



For all of us believers in Christ who have read the Bible, the whole concept of GCx heavy handedness and authoritarian methodology is extremely wrong. They are hanging stones around necks and destroying lives. I have witnessed these things with my own eyes -- I have seen big hearted generous people being torn to shreds. ... I will warn all people about the authoritarian model of "leadership" practiced by GCx franchises that I have personally seen in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado.
-boboso   [left ~ 2007]


This is the "Great Commission" attitude on the priesthood of the believer. ‘YOU, a mere layman in the congregation, cannot be trusted to hear from God. Only leaders can’. We've seen quotes from various pastors in the movement teaching this. It gets to the core of what is wrong with it all.
-j


...I would offer my experience for those trying to leave WCCC [Walnut Creek Community Church - a GCx Church in Des Moines, Iowa]...
My experience was that it only took a few months away from it all to really begin to see all the controls that were upon my life. I spoke with a young person who was warned by a bible study leader that if they studied abroad or went home for the summer, they would be vulnerable to the devil and could fall away... The culture put pressure on people to follow these patterns, even though none of them can be found as mandated in scripture. It is interesting to note that a person in GCx can flat out deny that any of these pressures exist if you were to confront them. For instance, when I confronted leaders that these pressures to not date existed, they would deny it and point to the two couples in the student group who were dating (even though they had tried to break them up).
-MarthaH


...[The members] have been taught that it is righteous and God Honoring to mistreat people who "threaten" the organization with dissent or questions. ...The problem is that this organization was founded by people who crave power and control. They use the bible as a vehicle of control.
-OneOfMany


I also left the Manhattan [GCx Kansas] church. ...I know that I was being emotionally manipulated, but I turned right around and did it to other people. Acting like I had all the answers for their lives. Ugh. ...things were too controlling...  They convinced me to change my major (as others have mentioned) which meant losing my scholarship because it was major contingent. I still to this day can not believe I did that. But they really made me feel like I was doing it for God. It's crazy. ...People put so much faith in these leaders... But really, they are just men saying the same thing over and over again in less and less sophisticated language and then emotionally, mentally, and socially manipulating people into believing they speak for God!  ... They hijacked my life.
-escapee   [left ~ 2009]


I was in Solid Rock [GCx Church] at Columbus, Ohio from 74 to 80, [GCx] College Park Bible Study at University of Maryland from 80 to 82, and [GCx Church in] Towson [Maryland] from 82 to 84. ... Just the thought of talking to them, sends me into a panic. I think it's just a throwback from bad experiences in GC. My husband had a very bad experience in GC when three elders reproved him for almost three hours, finally breaking him down mentally.
-Jane


Anyone out there that is a former attendee of Evergreen [GCx church] Bloomington [Minnesota]?  I am considering leaving. ... I was told I am a sinner for questioning things. I told some of the pastors recently about an illness; and I was told it was [because] I did not have my walk right, and it was repeated to me about not having enough faith, not praying enough, etc. Yet, later a medical reason was found for things. When I do question things suddenly people don't want to talk to me... I feel worse now that when I first started to attend. ...As I read through this web site I see that a lot of the reasons I am thinking of leaving are mentioned. ...I am tired of the shame [and] guilt. I see it is getting very controlling and very legalistic.
-wondering   [left ~ 2013]


In GCI [another alias used by GCx] I was taught that spiritual growth was inseparable from obedience to the dictates of the elders. After I left, and got enough distance to start to realize that God wouldn’t strike me dead if I listened to someone else’s point of view...
-Columbus Old-Timer


I attended much more recently, leaving in 2015... ...when things got really bad, where my friends and I were so overwhelmed with all the negative things we were seeing, we tried to talk to R. [name abbreviated], who was head of the Edge [Campus Ministry at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire] as well as Cedarcreek Church [Eau Claire, WI] by that point. We went into it completely hopeful but each concern was systematically destroyed. We were wrong, he said. [This leader said] there weren't problems (except for transparency, which he said would be addressed but never was). And the real kicker, that since R. was in charge, he got to have the final say. In everything. Though he said he didn't like using the word, he did describe himself as the "dictator" of the Edge when we questioned his ability to not let us control any aspect [of the campus ministry], even though it was supposed to be a student run organization; except it actually wasn't. Cedarcreek views the Edge as a college "church plant" which is why the students get no control. This, however, was the first we knew of it. They never told the students they were in a church plant.
-Alexa


I can tell you unequivocally that my stay at the [GCx] church in East Lansing [Michigan] during the late 70s and early 80s was the worst time of my life. ... The reason it was so bad was that I was prey among predators. ... As I look back, the leadership (formal and informal) in the church did a fairly good job of sizing me up - broken home, abusive childhood, self-doubt - and they used my frailties to manipulate and control me. And not just me but others who these predators came to view as prey. They were experts in victimizing the vulnerable. And no one was better at this than McCotter.
-damaged_goods


I was in the Stonebrook Church in Iowa. ... GCx churches have a way of making you dependent.  They insist you ask for counsel for everything -- who to marry, what job to take, whether to go to college, who to live with -- every decision we were required to get "counsel" and you couldn't go against counsel.  I found it difficult after I left to make decisions.  I found it difficult to rely on God and not on the church.
-wastedyearsthere


I'm also from the Summitview Rock, 2008-2012. ... I told them how I'd been kicked off my team and left in the end because my small-group leaders thought I shouldn't be friends with one of the girls on the team anymore; and I disagreed and refused to submit.  ... Thoughtless obedience to other people seems to masquerade for obedience to God in these churches, but it isn't.  I personally have had God speak to me and guide me, and very often I found that following God put me in direct conflict with those who expected obedience to the church from me.  My decision to put obedience to God over obedience to the church was eventually what got me kicked out.  
-2xA Ron  


For almost four years, I was an active member of a group that is identified by many individuals as a ’”totalist” aberrant Christian organization’ (TACO)(Pile, 1990).  They are “totalist” by virtue of their attempts to control almost every area of the member’s life.” ... This term defined gives an accurate picture of my experience within this [GCx] church. Almost every friend that I was allowed to have was a member of my small group. The only people that I was allowed to have contact with outside of my small group were those who I was “reaching out” to, who were not members of my church or did not know Christ.
-sistanchrist


I was involved with the Summitview in Greeley [Colorado] from 2009 till January of 2013. ... I also left because I used to be in a concert band and was told that it is best for me to sacrifice it for God. They were pretty controlling toward me and tried to tell me what to do. I was told that I if I don't do something [they counsel] that it is actually disobedience to God. ... I have so many complaints about them that its ridiculous.
-clarinet20


GCx taught that the elders/pastors are effectively the husbands of everyone in the congregation.  All the congregation members have "married" the elders by joining the church.  In this way, the members must obey them as if they were literally their husbands.  Worse, to resign from the church is to commit the sin of divorcing the elders...  ... Many of us were charged with the sin of "divorcing the church" by resigning.  Many were also charged with "committing spiritual adultery" for later joining non-GCx churches.
-anonymoustoday


I am current GCC member. The topics that my pastors have discussed, usually end up being repeated several times. I have noticed that sometimes they target people or are used to make examples of others. I would agree that the topics usually come from a defensive position. I have seen that they use it to control, not trusting that God will work in our lives...
-curious


One needs the full counsel of scripture and their own personal direction from the Holy Spirit to obediently apply [scripture] in their own life in each circumstance. [However,] the message from B. [GCx Elder] seems to present a more heavy handed approach of making people feel like if you don't do the specific things that he is listing, you are not obeying God.
-Clear


One has to learn to separate the notion of divorcing GCx, from the notion of divorcing God, because the two are not the same -- though they might feel the same. We might feel like we're betraying God by leaving -- and really, what hubris of GCx to make people feel so indoctrinated, as to feel like this is so! No church should have such a business making people feel that way.
-FeministRebel   [left ~ 2003]


...when I was in the [GCx] cult and as a new mother, I asked a few other young mothers to come for a play group. At the play group I shared with the other young mothers what I read in the scriptures that morning. The other mothers decided to do the same. The pastor's wife (did not have any children) found out and boy was I in trouble!  I was given very clear and strict directives: the bible could not be discussed unless what was shared was "pre-approved" by the pastor and only if the pastor's wife or the pastor was in attendance.
-calgal


 ...if you are a member of Candlewood [GCx Church in Omaha/Lincoln Nebraska] you are not allowed to live your own life, let alone be your own person. I do know that God changes a person over time as that person pursues them, but God does not force his way onto you. This church does. ... You cannot pursue dreams, have time to yourself, or even moments of privacy. They demand you to get under their control or else they give you the cold shoulder, even if it was just life happening.
-Child_of_Arkham   [left ~ 2017]




CBN warns through its online course on ‘Discerning Cults’ that “Christians should beware of any group or church that demands excessive submission...  Christ came to make us free (John 8:34-36; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5). He himself is the “one shepherd”.  (John 10:14, 16).”*



*From CBN Online Courses:
https://www1.cbn.com/content/chapter-6-discerning-cults



That's a very impressive list of complaints there. Now, we can also create another list of people who have a lot of praise for GCx. The issue with each of these would be context. I'll give you an example.

Richard (not the real name) has problems with homosexuality. He confides in a leader that every time, he goes to the swimming pool, he finds himself lusting after men.... He has a very difficult time with this. The leader encourages him to not go to a swimming pool, even when a lot of his friends in the church invite him, but don't know about his difficulty.

Now, as you can see, the idea of going to a swimming pool or not should not be something that a leader of a church should get involved in. But in this particular case, we have that counsel.... To maybe the dismay of some people.

The above situation is a real situation, that I was very aware off, but most of the rest of the church didn't understand why Richard would never go swimming with them in the swimming pool.

Now, I know some of you might come up with the argument that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual or not. Without going into the topic. I'm just using it as an illustration that we have to know both sides and what is really going on, before making a judgement on these situations above. I'm not saying that the leaders were correct or whatever. I'm just stating that you have to know the situation, before you can even come to any sort of conclusion. And you wouldn't know the situation by just listening to one side. That goes for both sides. But some of these things like being married to elders and leaving the church means that they would divorce the elders, I've never heard of and seems very illogical. If that was true, then a new church plant would also be a divorce.... And GCx was and is all about church planting...
Logged
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2018, 09:14:28 am »

It is written:


“Don't answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.”

Proverbs 26:4   NLT

« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 09:16:27 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
ReaperofGCM
Regular (15-99 Posts)
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 32



« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2018, 10:33:01 am »

Well said Janet, PW cannot be reasoned with
Logged
Huldah
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 710



« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2018, 12:12:16 pm »

You will notice there are also people who were in the group well beyond it’s early years in which GCx has excused it’s authoritarianism as initial ‘immature zeal’.

Thank you, Janet, for compiling these quotes that demonstrate the ongoing authoritarianism of GC churches.

I would like to add a side note regarding so-called 'zeal.' I`m tired of GC apologists whitewashing their deeds as simple overzealousness. 'Overzealous' implies that they were merely indulging in too much of a good thing. That's not what happened. The attempts to control both thoughts and behaviors, the use of informants within the fellowship, the unannounced late-night interviews, the encouragement for new recruits to break off former friendships and to distrust their families (thus leaving the recruits with no support system if and when the recruits began to experience doubts about the church): these were not too much of a good thing. They were a bad thing. There has never been a genuine apology for those abuses. They have repeatedly been excused as well-intentioned if bumbling attempts to please the Lord, instead of being confessed as the destructive sins that they really were.
Logged
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2018, 01:10:30 pm »

You are absolutely right, Huldah!  I totally agree!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 01:12:56 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Cult Proof
Regular (15-99 Posts)
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 67



« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2018, 01:13:53 pm »

I agree a 100% with Huldah!
This isn’t an issue of being overly zealous; it’s abuse, mind control, and cult behavior.
And it’s not past behaviors from before 1991!  It’s happening right now and it’s painful and confusing and anything but Christ like.

Abuse is abuse and never love gone zealous!
Logged
PietWowo
Veteran (100-299 Posts)
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160



« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2018, 04:20:31 pm »

It's impossible to be overzealous for God... So, a GCxer who would say that would not understand the Scriptures.

Deut. 6:4 says: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart (thoughts) all of your soul  (emotions) and all of your strength (resources). So, that commandment called the Shma would be said by Hebrew children in Israel every day. It was the greatest Command. Both Hillel (more progressive of Judaism, like Pharisees) and Shemay (the tradional side of Judaism, like Saducees) would agree with that. If you love God with everything, that means that there is nothing more left. Because all is all and that's all that all means. So, you can not be overzealous for God. Give me one example in Scripture where that happened.

P.S. You could have zeal for the wrong thing, like Paul describes in Galatians.
Logged
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2018, 06:35:57 pm »

Back to the topic:  Authoritarianism (Deceptively called “Zeal” by GCx Leaders)

For all of us believers in Christ who have read the Bible, the whole concept of GCx heavy handedness and authoritarian methodology is extremely wrong. They are hanging stones around necks and destroying lives. I have witnessed these things with my own eyes -- I have seen big hearted generous people being torn to shreds. ... I will warn all people about the authoritarian model of "leadership" practiced by GCx franchises that I have personally seen in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado.
-boboso   [left ~ 2007]
Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2018, 08:32:23 am »

Another important quote from this site (from a former member) on GCx Authoritarianism:

My GComm [GCx] church was the only church I've ever attended where if you tell a leader that you believe God is telling you to do something, instead of encouraging you and helping you fulfill God's will in your life, the leaders will actually have the gall to argue with you about it. Not because they think God is telling them otherwise, but simply because "God hasn't told me anything about that" or "You didn't seek enough counsel!" Last I heard, one of the names for the Holy Spirit was "Counselor." GComm needs to wake up and realize that being higher on the leadership hierarchy does not make you "closer" to God. We are all PRIESTS according to my bible. The whole purpose of a teacher is supposed to be to teach us how to develop our relationship with God so that we can better follow Him, not so we can follow them.

This belief that leaders are somehow standing in between God and us, and that in order for God to work in our lives he will speak to those leaders specifically about our lives first, is NOT BIBLICAL SUBMISSION.
-Escape From Summitview
Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Apologia
Obscure Poster (1-14 Posts)
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1



« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2019, 10:27:17 am »

The issue with the Rock Church, GCC, and other abusive pastors within the organization stems from like in most cults, false authority based on a man and the organization instead of God. Theology matters and from my own experience from attending The Rock Church Minneapolis for many years, the Bible was not the ultimate authority and instead ultimate authority came from Mark Darling in the life of the church member and than through the other pastors, and than finally through house church leaders. If a member disagreed with Mark theologically, Mark couldn't be challenged. Mark was the ultimate standard (not only to imitate but how the Bible should be interpreted), he set the rules, he couldn't be tested, and he was the voice of God in the lives of those she "shepherded." Like in most cults, bad theology hurts people. When someone comes and says he is from God and wants to preach Gods Word we say fantastic, but we test him and test his teachings to the Word of God like the Bereans did to the Apostle Paul who he in turn called them Nobel, where as if you tested Mark Darling within the Rock you were called divisive.  

Now I do also want to say authority itself is not a bad thing. For the Christian our ultimate authority comes from God and his revealed Word (Bible). I agree with most on this forum who have called for justice and the removal of abusive pastors within GCC and that their abusive authority hurts people. Hurting people is wrong because the ones being hurt are made in the image of God. For those on this forum who are not Christians, I ask by what standard can you say hurting someone is wrong without having Gods Word as the standard? Without God and his revealed revelation through His Word there is no ultimate standard to say any abuse is wrong and we must not let the abuse of GCC and their authority distort our own healthy view of Biblical authority, Biblical church discipline within a church. Its not a matter of if their is a ultimate authority, it is a matter of which one is true. An example of what I am saying would be the those who founded this forum, contribute daily, and are most vocal about the abuses done by GCC are not the ultimate authority or standard on this issue and cant even say abuse is wrong apart from using Gods standard that he has given us that says it is.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 10:37:10 am by Apologia » Logged
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2019, 11:05:58 am »

Thank you for posting on here, Apologia.  I totally agree that we have authority through his Word to call something False that God’s Word says is False.  I also think that we are often given a “gut response” in our spirit to recognize when something is off or wrong; especially when we don’t yet know the exact passage of scripture that the message violates.  When leaders use scripture in error to defend their false teaching, it can be confusing to the young believer.  Twisted Scriptures (those taken out of context to selfishly accomplish a worldly ambition of “religious” men disguised as spiritual) often make it difficult for those relatively new to the Bible.  Reading what several other sound Bible teachers have to say (from scripture) about passages or teachings is very helpful.  “In a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

I will personally try to include more often the Scriptures that I am founding my Toxic Faith and Spiritual Abuse claims against GCx on.  

Welcome.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 11:18:31 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2019, 12:00:57 pm »

But Jesus called them together and said,
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people,
and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.
But among you it will be different.
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.

Matthew 20:25-26  (NLT)


This is the manner of biblical authority clearly set forth by Jesus Christ.  If you are under any other approach, the Bible does not support it.  Here is another quote about unbiblical authority used in GCx churches from a former member.


I am one that endured years of spiritual abuse.  Trying to control all areas of my life. Using the Bible to control. ... Anyone reading these posts still part of this church movement should take heed.  This is a cult.  It took me too long to find out (10 years). ...I remember one of his [GCx pastor] sermons where he called the parishioners his Bride.  He also called himself a prophet. ... I was definitely spiritually abused. I also had a leader show up unexpectedly at my house with the apology letter to convince me to come back. There was so much toxic control and there still is.
-Gladtobegone

« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 03:03:17 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Rebel in a Good Way
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 447



« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2019, 02:08:14 pm »

Being "overzealous" for God:  Matt 23: 15-32, Romans 14 (or any other verse that addresses how some of the early believers wanted to be zealous in their faith by imposing regulations not necessary for Christianity), Saul of Tarsus (who was ruthless in the name of his God before he became Paul).  That's just off the top of my head.  So yes, people who live out their passion for God (what they interpret will please him) will consider themselves zealous, living all out, giving God all of their resources (to the point of tithing herbs), but they can hurt people.  And that is not living according to the Word (Christ).

And now our Greatest Command (which reflects the sections of Scripture referenced) is to love God and love others.  Loving God with "zeal" without equal care and concern for others is not living out the Greatest Commandment. 

It's impossible to be overzealous for God... So, a GCxer who would say that would not understand the Scriptures.

Deut. 6:4 says: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart (thoughts) all of your soul  (emotions) and all of your strength (resources). So, that commandment called the Shma would be said by Hebrew children in Israel every day. It was the greatest Command. Both Hillel (more progressive of Judaism, like Pharisees) and Shemay (the tradional side of Judaism, like Saducees) would agree with that. If you love God with everything, that means that there is nothing more left. Because all is all and that's all that all means. So, you can not be overzealous for God. Give me one example in Scripture where that happened.

P.S. You could have zeal for the wrong thing, like Paul describes in Galatians.
Logged
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2019, 10:22:37 am »

“I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.  But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached...”

2 Corinthians 11:2-4



Paul led these Corinthians to Christ and is writing them after a period of time regarding their ongoing devotion. Here are some questions the Bible entreats us to ask regarding the perplexing mindset these Corinthians have accepted from another “teacher” which Paul warns them about:


1. How many spiritual husbands should they join themselves or be bound to?

2. Who alone are they to be sincerely and purely devoted to?

3. What does Paul imply has happened to their devotion to Christ according to verse 2?

4. How is he afraid that this is happening to them?

5. Do the people responsible for this preach Jesus also?  

6. What differs in their teachings from Paul’s about Jesus according to this passage?




Even though some do not outrightly speak spiritually adulterous words as referred to below, the spirit in which they preach is that they have the same authority and possessiveness as Christ over others’ lives.  God’s word here clearly defines this characteristic as the preaching of False Teachers.  Here is one quote among many on this site that depict the kind of authority claimed by GCx leaders.


I am one that endured years of spiritual abuse.  Trying to control all areas of my life.  Using the Bible to control. ... Anyone reading these posts still part of this church movement should take heed.  This is a cult.  It took me too long to find out (10 years). ...I remember one of his [GCx pastor] sermons where he called the parishioners his Bride.  He also called himself a prophet. ... I was definitely spiritually abused.  I also had a leader show up unexpectedly at my house with the apology letter to convince me to come back.  There was so much toxic control and there still is.  
-Gladtobegone







« Last Edit: March 31, 2019, 12:13:57 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Janet Easson Martin
Private Forum Access
Household Name (300+ Posts)
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 605



« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2019, 07:42:12 pm »

Fantastic quote from this site about GCx Authoritarianism:

“Those who used to have authority in my life forfeited their right to shepherd me
when they used me for their ends and not Christ's.”

-Outtathere
« Last Edit: March 24, 2019, 12:49:39 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  


Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
SimplePortal 2.1.1