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Author Topic: GCx Church Leaders Practice Brazen Intrusion into Members Personal Lives  (Read 12684 times)
Janet Easson Martin
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« on: November 16, 2022, 10:37:17 pm »


GCx Church Leaders Practice Brazen Intrusion

into Members Personal Lives


Introduction



Rebuke seems to be a powerful stick in the hand of GCx leaders to intimidate and maintain authority.  However, it is the opposite of how Jesus instructs leaders and elders to practice and demonstrate authority.  Paul tells us that False Teachers tear their people down to build themselves up, (which he also compares to wolves who tear up and feed on sheep).

The audacity of leaders (both elders and those under them) to often arrogantly judge us; in presuming to know our motives, and putting us in "our place".  This behavior seemed modus operandi for many GCx leaders.  It created a condescending and demeaning environment for those under its "care".  It was easy to conclude you were not good enough to really minister or make a difference in the kingdom of God.  How mistreated and misled we were!!!

Sadly, many GCx leaders seem to compete with each other on how many people they could "reprove".  They are actually knocking down, disrespecting, insulting, negatively labeling, verbally lashing, shaming, and showing contempt toward others in their practice of "reproving".  As would follow, the leaders' disciples or under leaders also feel the right to use these same tactics to "disciple" those under them.  

"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough"

Galatians 5:9


"You have such admirable tolerance for impostors who rob your freedom...
put you down—even slap your face!
"

2 Corinthians 11:20 The Message


Very very few of these so-called "corrections" were from God's Spirit or his Truth. What a horribly unhealthy introduction into the "body of Christ"! No WONDER God warns us to flee from them!


"I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision
or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift
of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways
of circumcision in trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for
the obligations of the slave life of the law
."

Galatians 5:2-3. The Message


There are innumerable testimonies on this site of brazen intrusion into members personal lives using false authority (claimed to be “God’s”); and intimidating rebukes to redirect and exploit entire lives for the organization’s use and glory —not God’s.

One former GCx member and contributor here describes the level of personal boundary-crossing and ensuing destruction so well. Her summaries clearly expose the audacity that has transpired for decades and is likely still occurring in many GCx-loyal rooted church leaders. Her posts lead off this topic and will continue throughout.




What bothers me is that there is this incredible pressure to conform to a certain lifestyle, which is clearly extra biblical, and say that the “dedicated/ the history makers/ the ones who will reach the world” will follow this lifestyle.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why on earth people think it is okay to set up a system where people must ask permission to live a certain way. … I mean, I feel like when people hear about this odd discipling system, people should be falling out of their chairs in shock by the incredibly skewed example of discipleship.

-AgathaL’Orange


It has been a little more than 2 years since I left the GCx CULTure.  At the end of a recent road trip my wife and I stopped and met with an old friend from my GCx branch, the son of an early member/elderpastor from Ames. My wife and I were quite dumbfounded by his assessment of what marriage is all about. Direct quotes: "The purpose of marriage is to have children" and "If you are not ready to have children, you shouldn't get married"

The problem I see with this philosophy is this: of the purpose of marriage is to make babies, then people who aren't having babies, or can't have babies, have a purposeless marriage. That is ridiculous! Further more, there was a very authoritative tone to these declarations. Like "I'm right, and you don't understand the Bible if you don't agree with me" This is an excellent example of the overreach of leadership in GCx branches.

I hope people who are reading this will be aware of this mentality among some GCx branches. I hope you will (if you are blessed with a spouse) have a full life serving Christ whether or not you have children. It is for freedom Christ has set you free. (gal 5:5) I am so glad to be out from under the yoke of slavery I experienced at GACC.

-Moontrap    [left ~ 2015]


When we were just married, many were intrusive about offering advice about when to start, and about how many [children] to have. The pastor was particularly persistent about encouraging us to "not be afraid", and that "children aren't as expensive as you think they are", and the "ideal family is a large family". Families with large numbers of children (5+) would offer uninvited testimonials about how grateful they were that they were not frightened into having fewer, and how God provided for all of them. And yes, we heard about the "quiver". In hindsight, I always felt pressure to defend our decision to limit the size of our family to a number we knew we could provide for and spend time with. …

Knowing what it feels like to be pushed, we are very careful not to hold it up as THE right choice, and we NEVER offer unsolicited advice!

-arthur


Implicitly they saw children as lifelong members that are literally born into and knitted into the group.  Numbers were always very important to GC.

-EverAStudent


Here’s a point I think is central to the harm GCM causes. We think it’s normal and then the “bait and switch.” We thought they were a mainstream evangelical church with a zealous group of followers, and we joined excited about the vision.

Then comes the switch.

For awhile, I think a lot of us believed that if only we could be more radical, more “on fire” for God, then everything would make sense. But it doesn’t. … I fully recognize that we’re all sinners. ..

It’s not our sinfulness that’s the problem. It’s their craziness.

-Genevieve


Bingo. I think this goes back to a deeper issue of GCM not trusting that God can and does speak to “non-leaders,” also known as a lack of respect for the priesthood of the believer. Leadership becomes this elevated status where suddenly your thoughts and prayers become more important than the thoughts and prayers of those you are leading. The Holy Spirit’s role as intercessor between us and God gets replaced by men. The result, everyone but the leaders are treated like babies.

-Anonymous


As a member of a pastor's inner circle we were told by him that we should talk like his wife, right down to voice inflection, tone, etc.  This was not presented as a suggestion (even that would have been strange though) but that his wife speaks the "right" way.  Since we left, when our kids watch old home videos they are always like, "Mom, seriously you sound so weird".  As we're watching them, I am so mortified.

-Scout


Unfortunately, I have a good idea of what you experienced.  I remember being rebuked for how I answered the phone. I also was instructed to change my intonation.  I was in one of the GCx churches where nearly all the women, single or married were trying to copy the tone of this one "leading sister" who also was one of the elders' wives.  

Then, a group of us single woman received a weekend of teaching on God wanting us to change our personality! Now, sinful nature I understand, but PERSONALITY ? - that's about the only thing you have left that makes you an individual in GCx.  Made one kind of paranoid that yours wasn't good enough.

… There were teachings that implied you were growing or successfully being discipled if you talked or acted more and more like your "discipler". They twisted the 'imitate me as I imitate Christ' scripture.

-Janet


I just always felt that they [GCx Church] were trying to usurp my parents, God’s and my husband’s role in my life. Get outta my business! This was how I felt even when I didn’t acknowledge it.

All of a sudden it seems clear to me why so many of us have felt hurt, but we can’t exactly put our fingers on WHY.

Well, it seems to me that at every step of the way, many of us have been expected to co-opt our own God given desires for marriage, love, children, relationship with God, using our giftedness, where we would like to live, our money, even our sacred relationships with our spouses, children and parents… and they have turned these into their own purposes.
-AgathaL’Orange


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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2022, 09:07:52 pm »


“...has a number of distinctives. One is a strong emphasis on discipleship; however, “discipleship” in … often looks very different from what most other churches practice. Many who have left the … have reported “heavy shepherding” tactics. That is, they experienced high-pressure, intrusive, and abusive or spiritually manipulative tactics at the hand of the leader they were assigned to.

[another distinctive is] ‘ ...a strict and invasive power structure that uses manipulation and indoctrination to control its membership. Many people have been hurt by this group emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.’ ”  


This excerpt is from the description of a group by GotQuestions.org startling similar to the  characteristics of GCx. These are actually outlined on the “gotquestions” website as a warning to others to stay away from this group. (Link below) Though it is the International Church of Christ or ICOC they are referring to here, one would do well to seriously examine these same traits in GCx or now, “GCx-rooted and loyal” churches.

Former members have reported these abusive tactics occurring over 40 years in their GCx Churches. Their stories continue from above regarding the intrusive invasion of personal lives.




I helped start 2 churches and was in GCI for over 20 years.  I left in 2003 after a divorce and went to a Evangelical church. After getting remarried, my former [GCx] pastor told the [new] church [I was attending] to shun me. He never told me or warned me. He then told me I was not allowed to attend my daughters wedding that year.

-Loro


I unfortunately was a part of the secret meetings where we would write down all the single girls names on a sheet of paper, separating them by "core" and "fringe", and assign people to disciple others. We also assigned where people would live, how small group multiplications would go, who would share bedrooms with who, etc.

The only people who knew about this were the people who were brought into this inner circle, in other words, the ones doing the discipling. No one could see (or at least said anything about) the strangeness or wrongness of it because people were flattered by it and honestly because people love power. But, this is pretty much how it works all the way up - it also works this way at the church planting level. So much is decided behind the scenes, then people are just led to believe they had some level of "say" or autonomy. I've seen this stuff really really mess with relationships. People who would try to buck this system eventually got pushed to the edges until they left.

-escapee


In the summer between my junior and senior college years, I was offered the chance to participate in two excellent educational programs, both of which were offered at the same time. I was not yet a member of GC, although I had recently been befriended by a girl there. When I mentioned to her how tough it was deciding between the two options, she invited me to talk to one of her elders about it. What a great idea!--getting some perspective from a godly man who would take the time to help me make a sound choice. And to think that this man would take time out of his day to help a sister he didn't even know.

To my surprise, the elder told me that neither of my choices was appropriate. As a Christian, I should be investing my time only into things that directly counted for eternity. God wanted me to turn down both options in favor of GC's own LT (or whatever they called it back then). That was a shock. I wasn't even a member of their church, and they were already trying to make demands on me and undermine my education.

-Huldah


..I am most certain (in fact it happened) in my days at WCCC [GCx Walnut Creek Community Church] that we would have been set straight on the "likeminded belief" we were to share.  There was an effort to control the story, no matter what the story was.  And also a need to know all the information in an intrusive way.  I laughed with my husband how this mindset came about and how I feel the freedom to say the truth, what I believe, and be myself in my new surroundings.  I really appreciate this.

... The pressures we felt were unlike any we had felt in any other evangelical group:

We must be committed above all else to the local church– until we die… there is no acceptable reason to leave GCM. Not ever. You should not take a job in another city UNLESS you are part of a church plant. This is just so incredibly unnatural and so different from any other mainstream Christian groups. I have never heard this from any other church denomination.

... it was the first time where I felt that not only was I trying to convert people to Christ, but I was also trying to convert them to my church, and my church alone.

I felt exposed. I felt that too many people were too close to me. It wasn’t a pleasant intimacy, it was a forced intimacy that made me want to run in the other direction. I wasn’t comfortable with the personal level of sharing that sometimes went on in prayer meetings with women, conversations with others, and even sermons, or marriage conferences. There was this strange idea that keeping it real was a good thing. But I think that all of this “accountability” made me feel like I was answering to people not God. There is a place to confess our sins to each other. But I don’t think this should be explicit...

This intrusive environment is not an easy place to grow a marriage. When we should have been forming our own family ideals based on conviction, we found ourselves adopting GCM ideals. When we should have said, “No, we are not leaving our children for this conference,” we reluctantly said, “Okay.” I am so happy now to be free to live our lives without this overwhelming sense of intrusiveness from others. Freedom with personal responsibility is good.

-AgathaL’Orange



Source from quote at top of post
https://www.gotquestions.org/International-Church-of-Christ.html


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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2022, 10:25:27 am »


Here is a former GCx member who experienced condemning intrusion in GCx as late as 2019. These “requirements” to fit the “godly” Christian mold of GCx became things to arrogantly judge their members by. But God sees the heart. How awful to bear the heavy weight of their man-made load. They have zilch to do with character. How misleading and false that they represented inward growth. What a sham that those who loyally kept these GCx requirements were deemed mature, Spirit-filled believers! Probably hard for them to recognize true growth when you don’t possess it yourself.


I attended Stonebrook Church and the Rock ISU from ~October 2014 until I graduated in May 2019. ...

I experienced Pressure to be more and more involved in terms of attending the various conferences/trips throughout the year. I did do a lot - I attended two mission trips, two fall conferences (weekend gathering at this place near des moines with Walnut Creek), all five spring Retreats (weekend at Riverside Bible Camp), and as I said went to Faithwalkers twice. But there was always a sense that it was never enough. In particular, the fact that I always went home for the summer was looked down upon. Essentially, my choice of what level to be involved in things was seen as being in error unless it was to be involved in everything.

I did see a culture where evangelism was basically a chore, rather than something you do passionately as God calls you. There was a program for quite a while where you were expected to share the gospel 5 times a week and pressure anyone you successfully converted to immediately begin doing the same, even if that person had basically 0 knowledge of the Bible...

There was intense pressure to conform to exact small doctrine particulars, even stuff that stonebrook pastors would at times admit weren't essential to salvation...

I'm happy in the Church I'm in now (none of the above issues exist there) and my faith remains strong. I'm glad God isn't confined to the walls of GCM, as I'm not either.

-Flitwick



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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2022, 09:02:33 pm »


I too have lost a child to the DTC.  Their family now, is the DTC [Downtown Church In Des Moines]!  ...I think it has been well over a year since this child has communicated with any member of the family, aside from me, and a sibling. And then we only hear from them when there is news about them, never are we asked how are you, what’s going on in your life.  I was even once given a schedule of how this childs life was being conducted.  5 nights is church events/gathering, one night is “date night” with spouse and one night is time for them to be by themselves to reflect and pray. I have not even seen my child for more than 5 minutes since Christmas, and we are less than 20 miles from one another.

... Concerning a student's relationship to his or her parents, [It is publicly stated by GCM] ‘Great Commission Ministries staff persons are encouraged to help students learn to honor and respect their parents and to publicly teach the Bible's clear instruction on the subject’.  The DTC does NOT follow this.  Instead, they believe that it is their “mission” to, as quoted directly from my child: “the Lord has made it very clear that the young people of des moines are those people i'm supposed to be laboring to no end for.……. this isn't some sort of self righteous excuse, and this is going to have implications on many of my relationships”  

Part of the DTC’s Who We Are statement reads: We are members of the same body and need one another caring for those who have physical, financial, or emotional needs; loyally supporting and defending one another’s reputations; committing ourselves to one another’s spiritual growth; and developing close, edifying friendships. ... Signs of resembling an Occult that I see prominently are that several members of the same family are leading branches of this “church”, and they encourage their members to immediately find a spouse within the “church family” and start creating children.  

I’ve spoken to one individual who was taken on as one their “projects”.  This person was moved into one of their family homes, so as to live with and be taught by current members to become one of them and start leading a better life.  However, refusing to give up family and current friendships, they moved out of the church house, and broke all ties with members of the DTC. They have approached this person again, telling them that living with family will not do them any good but to bring themselves back into a church house so the DTC members can get them back into their way of life.

-secret,  2012




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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2022, 09:03:44 pm »


I started to realize something was radically wrong last summer. I joined a GCM related college ministry my freshman year of college and had been atending for a year. during that time my relatinoshp with a girl i had been dating for all of highschool detoriorated until we broke up. i lost most of my other friends. my parents thought I had gone crazy. I had changed which college i was going to, changed my major, and pushed everyone not involved with this church out of my life.

I realized something was up when my gf finally broke up with me and one of my friends who was a christain asked me why i let the leaders make all the decesions for me. I slowly left the group over time and finally completley left at the end of my sophmore semester.  I havent been to a GCM function for four months now but I still am so lonely.  I can’t go back there though.  I think that it has to do with being with the same person for so long and having it ruined by someone I feel like brainwashed me. I don't know how to forgive them but know I need to.  They ruined my life.  I am transfering out of the college they told me to go to and changed my major back to what I want to do.

-sportsdude713,  2011



My story is long and involved.  ...I have been involved with GCM since I was 18 up until 4 years ago.  I was literally brainwashed for a number of years.  My family is all still going to one of the churches.  My husband thinks I am rebelling against God and won't leave the church.  I have been "shunned" by the church.  I feel my children are in danger ... They are telling him [my son] where he should go to college and what to major in.  His father just this week was encouraging him to keep personal information about his life between just him and the youth pastor and to leave his mother out of it because it should stay within the church.  

I feel like my life and my marriage has been ruined by GCM and I am having trouble trusting any church and even God.  Is there anyone out there who can help families like mine or does GCM just continue to get away with what they are doing?  I have read the testimonies and they are all the same all over the country.  People are experiencing real trauma from this group of churches, but what can we do?

-superwoman21971,  2011



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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2023, 09:00:00 pm »



...the entire culture of the [GCx] church lacks proper healthy boundaries. Many pastors/wives have shared from the stage sexual acts they have committed in sin. Members are encouraged to be transparent by sharing sexual acts they perform with their spouse. I believe that the BOT members themselves by participating in a group that lacks sexual healthy boundaries also then lacks a sense of right and wrong in general when it comes to certain types of moral behavior. They too have been taught that the leadership knows what is best for them and is in a spiritually superior place.

I could bullet list events in which pastors or wives share sexual acts from the stage, or small groups during which members were pressured to share sexual acts with their partner, and times when explicit sexual talk took place in church settings. This happens. Over and over again.

-OneOfMany,   2018


That [GCx] [Evergreen Community] church is still not what I would consider healthy; within the past year they placed a registered sex offender to lead a small group. BAD move when abuse has been an issue in your church and some of your same leadership that failed to protect the flock in the past is still in positions of authority.

-Rebel in a Good Way,   2018


I only started to going to a GCM [GCx alias] church in 2005.

I definitely agree that there were inappropriate discussions of sex. My experience has been that the people seemed to wait for a couple to fail at keeping "boundaries"...or for people to have personal struggles with purity, but there were no real solutions to the problem.   It wasn't a real discussion to talk about how to overcome it.

If there were problems with a couple keeping purity boundaries, they were forced to share ALL the gory details of where, when and what happened.  If a couple fell into "sin" they were forced to have more accountability - and in one extreme case ended up getting excommunicated due to a miscommunication between the couple refusing to share the details and the pastor wanting to know everything. ... There was no real useful purpose to sharing the details.

-Left,   2007


One week the [GCx] campus group I was attending decided to give a sermon or rather a discussion on Sex. ... The hard talk consisted of several male individuals who had been asked to give very, and I can not emphasize this ‘very’ enough, very detailed testimonies of their sex lives. I believe the idea was to show how they had overcome their problems with purity. However, the effect was far from encouraging as waves of horror swept over the mixed gender audience. ...

In actuality he had humiliated himself in front of all his friends just so the student group could be considered edgy. I’m sure the plan was first to draw new people in with a controversial topic and then get them talking about how “real” and “open” this group was. No one seemed to consider the mortification it would cause to all in attendance or the discomfort of individual who shared.

-G_Prince



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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2023, 08:13:31 pm »



I felt like I was being watched on campus and being followed by them. I learned the consequences of leaving candlewood, breaking the rules of the leaders, and questioning the leaders. I pondered leaving for a long time, I didn't know if I was ready to be shunned or to have the leadership use me as a example of what not to do.

-Hope,   2015


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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2023, 08:51:44 pm »



My RA was a GC member and her and a few other girls lived on the floor to outreach to people. I accepted Christ and thought the church and GC and the whole thing was just the best thing in the world. They started talking to me about how they thought I'd be a great leader and all that jazz and how I'd make a great church planter, etc. 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.

They bragged about me and paraded me around as an example of the best little convert ever. Ugh. My family actually got really concerned and contacted the school and the police and a handful of other people, all of whom said the church was on their watch lists. . . .

The further I got up the chain the more I just couldn't believe it. People put so much faith in these leaders (I did too!). 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 the speak for God!

-escapee,   2010


The first thing that I was corrected for was not isolating myself with Candlewood [GCx Church] peeps. I had been meeting other Christians that weren't apart of the Rock on campus and enjoying the fellowship. It was suggested that I get to know Candlewood people, look for the lost, and let the found find the lost. I thank God that I was able to connect with Christians because they were in God's family and not associate it to any churches. My life-group leader told me she couldn't get to know me unless I was committed to Candlewood and The Rock. ...

The second thing was not being able to attend all the events. I was taking science classes, working part time, getting to know Candlewood, and enjoying my family in town. I had a hard load of classes with other things that needed my attention as well. I had a hard time balancing my schedule, I often had to skip events. The leaders corrected me so many times for not showing up. I felt that they measured if my relationship with God was on good terms if I attended church and all events throughout the week. I was often tired and needed to balance my schedule opposite the leaders standards.

If you scheduled a group hangout that wasn't in the leaders plan you received correction for overstepping your boundaries.

-Hope,   2015


I've always been studious, I was in a tough academic program, and it didn't occur to me to lessen my academic load to be more involved.  I distinctly remember church members telling me that I should "seek counsel" from the elders about my academic career, but I knew one of the elders hadn't graduated from college, and the others had degrees in fields that were completely unrelated to mine...

I'm not sure when The Cause (I think that was the name) came out, but I remember being pressured to distribute it on campus.  That made me very uncomfortable...  

...my roommate and I started getting honest with each other, and everything came spilling out.  A close friend of his had been effectively shunned, and he was getting pressure from other men not to talk to her any more.   She was shunned because she had criticized the elders for discouraging people with serious mental health issues from getting counseling.

-ValleyNoir,   2007



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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2023, 09:26:44 pm »



After over 20 years in the [GCx] church I left after a divorce and found a wonderful evangelical church. My ex husband and I knew for years how unqualified because of sin and character flaws our GC pastor was. After I was gone from the church for over a year I remarried a man in ministry at a Bible College. My ex pastor told my former church to shun me. He never told me and I only found out through my exhusband. He told people that my current church parternered with him to do that and I made 6 families leave when I left. ...  He then told me I was not allowed to attend my daughters wedding that year.

LIES!!!!!!! I was never shunned at my new church. The elder of my new church was the president of the Bible college my husband worked at. The Bible college president told me that he told my expastor to go in front of the church and tell them that was not true. Of course he did not. Also the 6 families he claimed I had made leave the church when I did, all documented and sent a letter to another GC elder that they had left way before I did--not because of me but character issues with the elder. I learned what I had feared---elders protect sins of other elders.

-Loro,   2017


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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2023, 09:22:26 pm »




I was involved with the Summitview [GCx Church Group] in Greeley [Colorado] from 2009 till January of 2013. I left because I was treated like a 10 year old who didn't know anything about God or the Church. I was raised in the church and I was straight up told that everything I was taught was wrong and unbiblical. 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 to me and tried to tell me what to do and was told that I if I don't do something that it is actually disobedience to God. When I moved to a city where there is another GCC I was asked on several occasions if I was going to that church. I told them no because I was led somewhere else..but you could tell by the looks on their faces that they didn't like the idea of it and you could tell that they are expecting me to fail as a christian. …


There were several times when I had to tell I don't know how many people very personal things in my life and what was going on, yet some how and mysteriously everyone especially the leadership knew about it. I had asked on several occasions to people to please not say anything with out my permission and yet people still did it regardless. They didn't respect me and my wishes at all. It got to the point to where I had to pretty much tell people what they wanted to hear. I never could be my self there in the church whatsoever and I never could trust anyone in the church. It was like no matter who you told everyone was going to know about it.

-clarinet20




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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2023, 06:45:15 am »

Oh yes, the gossip is terrible. But it's okay for the hierarchy of 'leadership' to do it; but those who question the leadership are not allowed to discuss it with anyone--especially this forum!
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2023, 09:40:56 pm »


I agree, Margaret. The callous discussion by some of the GCx leaders and also some of their wives with their “disciples” of heartlessly rating people’s value according to commitment to their group, not God. This likely caused the “caste system” so harmfully prevalent there. They brainwashed us to treat many innocent people like second class citizens.

The point you made, Margaret, about the “GCx” leaders being absolutely intolerant of any negative truth spoken of them or their actions (after people have privately confronted them) while any random or false judgment about us is not only sought out by leaders, but freely shared often when we are not informed.


the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to
one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40



I've been reading these forums for almost 3 years...

I was a actually a leader (though being a woman, technically only allowed to lead women...) That's when I started to see the issues more clearly. I can tell you that as far as I can tell GCM (now CCN) is of the same spirit as all of the other GCx churches. ... All of our weekly "leadership meetings" were primarily gossip circles. We shared specific details about other people's lives... I felt really weirded out by the whole thing, but I was so busy evangelizing, recruiting, planning, organizing, and attending so many events that I didn't have the time to think about it. Honestly, it wasn't until long after I left and moved away that I really started to see these things. ...

One of my friends was labeled as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" because he strongly disagreed with the church and when he spoke out about it it just so happened that people agreed with him and stopped wanting to attend Thursday homegroup, Sunday service, weekend social events, and all of the other time commitments we were "encouraged" to participate in. By the way, his primary complaint about the church was that is was controlling. ...

...my church has only ever been mentioned in these forums as one of the good churches that supposedly wasn't as bad as the others. All this to say, GCM is really no different than all of the other GCx groups and CCN is literally the exact same thing under a new name.

-dreamer,   2013




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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2023, 09:07:03 am »

Oh yes, the gossip is terrible. But it's okay for the hierarchy of 'leadership' to do it; but those who question the leadership are not allowed to discuss it with anyone--especially this forum!

This brings back a memory I don't think I've ever shared here before.

While I was living with a group of sisters off-campus, I had an awkward encounter with a neighbor (non-GC) that I wasn't sure how to deal with. In a meeting with my sister-housemates, I started to bring up the incident because I wanted their advice. One sister cut me off immediately, saying she didn't want to listen to "gossip." But I wasn't gossiping; I was asking for help and insight--like we were always encouraged to do--but by then I was so intimidated by the group ethos that I didn't speak up in my own defense.

It was some time later that I learned that this very same sister was regularly reporting on me (in other words, gossiping) to the leadership. I know now that she was gradually turning the leaders against me. It seems significant that the leaders never once asked my for my side of anything, but simply accepted her version of things as fact.

What a sick, toxic mess that group was. So glad I bailed as soon as I did.
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2023, 08:39:47 pm »

I’m also glad you got out that toxic environment, Huldah. Your roommate not listening to you to compassionately understand an awkward encounter with a neighbor seems insensitive and extremely legalistic. GCx was/is rampant with pretentiously following the letter of the law; along with jealousy, competition, gossip and slander. It was often disguised in soft syrupy tones, but cutting none the less. Putting others down to build yourself up was modeled and practiced from the top down in GCx. McCotter provided that example through his treatment of his fellow “brothers.” There was actually a very worldly environment of stepping on each other to climb up the ladder which Paul warns against in the epistles.

Of all people, God’s people and especially leaders “representing” Him should wisely listen to both sides of any report, before making a judgement. That is so hurtful to be on the silenced end of that.

Since leaving GCx I have attended two different churches for long periods and neither had such a competitive or slanderous culture. People for the most part believed the best of each other. There may be minor exceptions, but not like the awful mode of operation in GCx reporting each other. I’m ashamed to say I was on the bad end of that of GCx (copying others behavior,) in reporting others. I also received obvious distancing from some way before I left.



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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2023, 07:37:59 pm »



I attended an "h2o Manmakers" conference several years ago where all college males came together to listen to the charismatic pastors among them. One of the pastors [name omitted] in front of the entire church, talked about [explicit sexually detailed actions he did] ...  The room filled with awkward laughter and he laughed himself and made a joke... He used that to talk about being open with the other guys in the group. This type of oversharing is rampant in Collegiate/GCM. Tons of emphasis on getting people to share their sins, and by them sharing, and in this case being very flippant about egregious sin, they can get 20 year-old guys to share their sins with each other and the staff. This helps build community, which ultimately is how they "secure commitments" as they would say.

These men are sick. They create systems where they have power, and they run the "churches" how they want to. Once you become a pastor, you operate by a different set of rules, leaving behind a trail of victims in your quest to "make disciples," aka get more people in your church. As they say, you can't pass on what you don't have, and very few of these men have dealt with their emptiness, so they're driven by a desperation success to feed their egos rather than by love of God and others.

-tsessef,   2018



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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2023, 06:48:40 pm »



I am surprised GC [GCx alias] never found themselves in a civil or criminal legal entanglement with breaches of confidentiality. ... a former member demonstrated how confidences were kept under wraps in one corner and blabbed in other corners...  The intention of the disclosure was showing how confidences were routinely violated. ... The former told me how my friend’s issues were common knowledge. Some [of] the examples were clearly for private counseling settings. How the church escaped without legal repercussions, in retrospect, is something of a mystery. ...
-exsheep,   2007


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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2023, 08:35:16 pm »



I don't understand where my [GCx] campus fellowship is coming from. ... people that are several years younger than me and giving horrible advice to these impressionable girls who are away from their families for the first time.  One of the girls receiving counsel from fellowship is my roommate.  She has several neurological/mental illness diagnoses dating back to her young childhood. ... Recently she had been acting irrationally, saying she wanted to die, etc.  I spoke with her family and decided to talk to campus fellowship about her problem. ... Instead of help, they advised her that the medications she was taking were unnecessary and the doctors she was seeing weren't helping her.  They convinced her that all she needed to do was pray more and grow stronger in God to be healed.

I told them everything about her illnesses to try to make them understand that this was a serious medical issue. ... They told a girl with a history of violence, manifestations and suicidal behavior to quit taking medication. ... Another roommate told me that it was standard practice at the fellowship.  She had also been encouraged to stop her antidepressants and therapy and to seek a stronger relationship with God, the ultimate therapist.  Where did her counsel come from? One of the pastor's sons.  So as I finish up the school year, I'm trying to remind myself that all Christians aren't like this.  I'm trying not to struggle so much in my faith but I feel let down and completely lost. I'm scared for these girls and I’m scared for myself.

-ses,   2008



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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2023, 07:39:26 pm »



I would like to say we went to this [GCx] church [in Iowa] from 1991-1993, in the beginning it was a small church and a great place to grow. But then the old pastor and others showed their true colors. ...  we had a young family member die suddenly. We went to church the following Sunday and our life group was meeting afterwards for lunch which the pastor never attended except that Sunday as he did not want me to mention the death of my...nephew unless he was there to monitor what was said. Mind you they had all known this child. But it was made clear they weren't there to hear about or comfort the grieving. ...

Outside of two people in that church, I feel it is fake. God sees the whole picture and truly knows their heart. ... I would not recommend this church.  Let God guide you where you should go. ... Thank You Jesus showing my family the way away [from] their leadership and where we are loved and wanted.

-hurtfamily,   2012



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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2023, 07:59:37 pm »



It was hard to leave. They [GCx Leaders in Columbus, OH] told my roommate Karen to follow me and not let me talk to Anita (who left the group). I was scared but I should just have called the police.

-Free.to.love.Jesus,   2023

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« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2023, 11:04:22 am »



There was also abuse of church office to take another's girlfriend, because "he wasn't mature enough to have one"; the abused brother in this matter "stayed with the group", but he was so devastated he soon dropped out of school. And then there was just the usual forbidding of romantic relationships to all but those who toed the doctrinal line (I didn't, and the sister I was wooing- not my aforementioned future wife- was told to give me the boot).  In other words, it was just business as usual for GCS [GCx]. …

But it still drives me to rage to think of how the "leaders" in "my church" transgressed their lawful authority and took matters into their own hands.  The biblical brackets around this matter are "but only in the Lord".  As a minister of Word and Sacrament these last 23 years, I have had to counsel many a disciple that we are only to marry in the Lord: but beyond that, I have no authority, declarative or otherwise; and I'd never want to live with the burden of giving someone else the marriage I believed they should be in.

Would I suggest an active resistance to those kinds of things?  Absolutely.  It was all done "in Jesus Name", and you know how He feels about His Name being taken in vain.  Abuse and manipulation tarnish the Gospel- and Christians should be zealous about defending the honor of the Gospel.

-Rev. Russ Westbrook,   2012



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