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Author Topic: H2O Church at Bowling Green State University  (Read 59555 times)
theresearchpersona
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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2010, 10:10:52 pm »

And I am surprised that someone would tell you to not talk to the leaders or attend a meeting.  I think it is always best to take on these things head on and not believe someone who post on the net who may have some things from their past that affects  their opinions.

You'd say that, however, when confronted with the details that there's obsfuscation, approved and defensive answers to questions or certain kinds of questions, including regular repetition of such answers and deflections among the GC leadership (high to low)--doesn't even, necessarily, require formal meetings to do, though there are those too, since they can just let the feel-good attitudes and laxity spread, and testimony after testimony of how they have not been up front, and continue to refuse to be, even when confronted with writing from their own pens, audio from their own mouths, and one person after another lining-up when they disclaim the "slanderers" as "bitter people talking from the past" who counter, "but we're currently here/were just here". When I started posting here I was currently in the thick of it; when the original site came online, it was a bunch of people who got trampled at MY Church--oh, and John Meyer of Fort Collins amongst other pastors there held a church-wide (that is, invited everyone to come) meeting to discuss a "unrepentant, refuses-to-be-disciplined, in-sin, following-satan, slanderer-critic", wouldn't give us the web address, gave false definition of slander and said that it was sin to even listen to the supposed slander, handed-out an error/weakness statement we've never seen before (that I later learned some of the more influential pastors of the movement were beginning to call a mistake and repudiate) as proof that it was all nothing, and then demanded we all hand it back in before leaving. What wonderful, open, trustworthy men to go to.

(And it once hurt to say that, by the way, because these men pretended to care: two months after finding a new congregation, by the way, the next year, ten-year "friends" of Meyer's and the other pastors showed-up for having been thrown out. Their sin? "Could you please teach theology?". John's response, "I don't have any". Their reaction? "What!?, but John, if you don't have theology, you don't have anything". John's "final answer": get out, don't gcome back (and that to the other families that they'd talked with in noticing that the same stuff was repeated year after year, and nothing of substance, depth, or even precise, was ever taught).

Just in case: I'm not trying to be a jerk here, just pointing these things out in warning. Anyone out there that wants to be investigative does well to start at gcxweb.org (all core teachings of the current GC, in some of the foundational documents of those things, though there's a known, admitted--at a men's conference in the west--pastor-only two-inch notebook of "stuff" I'm still curious about).

Interestingly enough, your comment echoes the sorts of things they would say to divert attention or obscure view from what they did, were continuing to do, planned on, and etc..

As for,

Unfortanately you can probably find someone talking poorly about every Christian organization or church out there.  Check it out personally don't trust someone elses opinions

Statement one is highly probable, and experience brings me to tend to agree. Statement two, however, would mean that Christ Jesus himself and His apostles were sinful idiots for daring command that the sheep be vigilant, and that His messengers and those charged to care for the sheep, expose false teachers and their evil works--which tend, mind you, as the scripture puts it, to transform themselves into angels/messengers of light, their works appear good, their words sound good, but the end thereof, to which all who follow them come, is destruction.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 10:15:43 pm by theresearchpersona » Logged
Rebekah
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« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2010, 07:04:19 pm »

Good post, TRP. Great description of why "just talk to the leaders to clear up any 'misunderstandings'" doesn't work very well.

Any former pastors out there want to pass along the info from the "two-inch thick binder of 'stuff' out there"? I'd also love to know what they say when they're not afraid of being criticized by "slanderers."
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BGgrad
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« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2010, 05:57:18 pm »

I am in agreement that there will always be ample conversation regarding negative experiences with churches/denominations. As a former member of GCC, please understand that we have felt isolated - then rejected. Seeing that I am not alone by reading these posts is affirming to me. People do need to be aware in order to make decisions. Check out those other sites that some people have posted here.

I met my husband and my dearest friends there at GCC. I credit them also GCC for being the church in which I gained my salvation. The groups and friendships really added to the joy that I was experiencing in gaining this new life!

Yet - there was also a confusing trend. First I was enjoying Bible study fellowships. Fun! Then I began to go to the church and hear the teachings. Some I agreed with, some I didn't. Since I was a new Christian, I supposed that the teachings were correct. They were using the Bible, chapter and verse.

My now husband and member at the time, started noticing disturbing issues: separating seating/activities by sexes, members being handpicked for ministry and training, members being encouraged to change majors to go into fields that would "benefit the church", members being paired together to complement each other in the ministry, donate tons of money, etc. etc.  I had liked someone there, and they were advised not to date me because I was a new Christian, unequally yoked, and they had tapped this person to go into the ministry. He wanted to be a deacon.

When I met my husband shortly after, it upset this member. His walk was never the same after that, and I believe he lost his faith after that. God will deal with those people for misleading people away from a walk with Christ. There were many that walked away. When we began to question tactics and ask questions, we were counseled by Kenny (the pastor) and told we were slandering the church. People were even calling it "Kenny's church"! (those comments were the last straw for us). All of our friends shunned us and would never speak to us again. We made the choice to leave and struggled with this sudden loss. It was like a death. My best friend was never the same, although we have all moved on and serve in our churches and our family members are all believers. I lost those friends that told me about Christ. I lost the fellowship of those that could help me grow.

Those of us that left at the same time are best friends. We don't talk about GCC, but about the wonderful times we had at BG. Please stay away, tho. There are other organizations. Our daughter is going to BG in a few days and has seen the wonderful info about H2O. It looks cool. We warned her about it, but instead decided to look things up to see if they had changed. After reading your posts, we will share this with her. She's not planning on going, tho, thank goodness. We experienced heartache and loss. The only 1 way ticket to God is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2011, 08:32:37 pm »

Greetings everyone.

I trust that many of your concerns have the right intentions.  I have personally heard that back in the late 80s, early 90s that there were some issues with GCC churches being cult-like.  However, my question for each person responding to the mother is this:

Have you attended the BGSU h2o church in the last decade? Or at all?

If you have not, then I believe you have little experience to speak from in judging this group.

As for me, my qualifications include being a member for the past 5 years.  And Concerned Mother, if it means anything now (2 years too late) I can say from experience that I love this church.  The community is authentic, the leadership is above reproach.  I know Matt O., Bryan Wiles, Matt Pardi.  I know them personally.  I've had great conversations with these pastors.  I've even been mentored by two of them over the past few years.  They are godly men who care a great deal about the members of the church.  They devote some of the best years of their young life pouring into college students such as myself and your son, growing us and training us in godliness.  I can say with confidence that this church was an integral part of my spiritual growth, and without it, I probably wouldn't be as strong as a believer as I am today.  So if you have any questions, please ask me. I probably know your son. I'm probably close friends with him too.

This church might be a little different from some churches in america, however, primarily in that it is a campus ministry.  The culture is different but the call is the same. Love God, love people. Make disciples of all the nations. 

BGgrad, I am sorry for your experiences with h2o.  The only piece of consolation I can offer you, is that I believe the church is not the same from what you have described. I am sorry that you turned your daughter away from attending h2o church. It has great a community and love for God.

For anyone who reads this post and considers whether or not they should attend h2o, ACT, CRU, Impact, Veritas, or any other christian ministries on campus, please don't hesitate to simply ask.  I would highly encourage you and your children to check out h2o.
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« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2011, 08:52:13 am »

Greetings everyone.

I trust that many of your concerns have the right intentions.  I have personally heard that back in the late 80s, early 90s that there were some issues with GCC churches being cult-like.  However, my question for each person responding to the mother is this:

Have you attended the BGSU h2o church in the last decade? Or at all?

If you have not, then I believe you have little experience to speak from in judging this group.

I have never attended BGSU h20 but have attended a church called the Rock part of the GCC Organization: 

Is your church part of GCC? I was looking at the church web site and there is only a list of your partner churches. Or are you part of GCM? Does GCM still exist?

Does your church still train it's own pastors? If you do, what kinds of qualifications does a pastor need?

Are your pastoral training documents public?

On average how long would it take an aspiring pastor to become ordained in your organization?

After my original post - I haven't talked to my son much about H2O.  I just spoke to him recently and discovered he is involved in a biweekly group called P.I.T.  (Pastors In Training).  Does anybody know anything about this type of thing?  My son says its basically a Bible study for those who think they may be called into the ministry and not necessarily a pipeline into GCM.

FYI - I decided to attend a service on campus with my son last week and the folks seem friendly enough.   I have attended a lot of different types of churches.  This didn't seem much different from most except it had the typical college/youth emphasis with the rock music and light message with repetitive, doctrinally light, praise choruses.

I plan on staying connected with my son and have been thinking about talking to one of the pastors about what I've read on this forum.  Does anyone have any specific information about this particular college church?

BTW if you attend H2O or are on staff there and you are reading this post feel free to weigh in.  My son mentioned that someone at the church recognized my user name and asked if I was his Dad. But if anyone has information about P.I.T., I would appreciate it.
 

Do you have information for jer9 on P.I.T. meetings?

http://h2ochurch.com/#/welcome





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« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2011, 09:05:01 am »

Answered part of the first question just now....http://gcmweb.org/who/default.aspx
  Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2011, 06:57:30 pm »

For reference, from the 2008 US GCC Church Directory (http://gcxweb.org/Misc/ChurchDirectory-2008.aspx):
Quote
MN    Northlands    H2O--University of MN    Patrick Schultz    www.h2o-revolution.com    Crookston
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 08:02:32 pm by puff of purple smoke » Logged
H2O Guy
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2015, 07:37:37 am »

I've been involved in H2O at the University of Cincinnati for 5 or 6 years now... and I'll be honest I'm pretty discouraged by the broad, sweeping statements made here.

Hear me out... I'm not saying anything about the GCC movement or whatever in the 1970s, 80s, even 90s. I don't know anything of that. What I do know is the accusations of H2O church displaying the same problems that GCC did 30 years ago are straight up wrong. There's never been any authoritarian kind of pressure to remain involved in H2O or to serve your tails off. There has never been any kind of sketchy practices regarding "secret teachings." I've been to LT 3 times and haven't experienced any cult-like anything. Just a summer of working and growing in the Lord. Growing in learning the Bible, in reaching out to friends with the gospel, etc. I've been to "PIT" before, although we (Cincinnati) haven't done it for years... and nothing is weird about it. Literally the idea is to teach the Biblical qualifications for a pastor and try to move towards that. What's interesting is that I've gotten the vibe from these posts that we're not "for" other churches or groups or that we're all about advancing the name of H2O or something... and that's false. In fact, often we tell people to get heavily invested SOMEWHERE regardless of if that happens to be our church.

I love Campus Crusade. I love local churches and have Godly Christian friends in those churches. The only time we tell people to dig in/dive in is for people that kind of float around and just attend services as opposed to digging into the Scriptures in Godly community. And, we wouldn't say that we are the only place you can do that by any means. Our staff team (I'm one of them) are friends with other staff teams in the Cincinnati area.

Truthfully I'm just baffled. I don't know about the history of this movement elsewhere. In fact, the churches that are most often criticized on this website aren't at all associated with our movement at this point. But, what I do know is what our churches are like right now and it's nothing like a cult. Nothing like all the negatives you describe.
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xray342
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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2015, 07:17:23 pm »

H2O Guy: I was never a part of H2O or GCx, but was (implicitly) a member of another group at the University of Cincinnati that you probably know: Disciples on Campus (the International Churches of Christ). So I can spot an abusive shepherding movement a mile away. Smiley I'm sincerely hoping that the H2O churches (including Toledo and UC) have completely broken away from the abuses of GCx in the past, but I must play the role of a skeptic because the doctrines of authoritarian shepherding/discipling are like cancer and tend to propagate from one generation of a local church's leadership and membership to the next generation. This is one of the many reasons I left the ICOC in 2006 after its original leader Kip McKean was removed from leadership in 2002. There were calls to reform, but no real reform occurred.

One of the rules of being in a cult is not knowing that you're in a cult. You realize that you're in a cult when you take your assumptions and practices and anchor them to an objective standard. Books like Cults in our Midst and Toxic Faith helped me compare the ICOC to other cults and abusive authoritarian systems and helped me realize that the ICOC was still deeply cultic.

Please let me ask you this question: what is the role of the Holy Spirit in your discipling relationships?

P.S. Also please note that the H2O church at Ohio State and the H2O church in Columbus (H2O City, I think) are having their leadership training program now.
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H2O Guy
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« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2015, 03:00:21 pm »

Xray, thanks for responding. And, truthfully, we have students that are involved in H2O Cincinnati now that wanted to be removed from DOC because of their practices. Evidently it was obvious to them as well. Yikes.

A couple things regarding your comments, before I get to the question. First, I'd like to hear what you mean by authoritarian shepherding/discipling. Give me some examples. Not because I want to be defensive about them if they're there, but because I sincerely think that the negatives you saw in GCx are really far removed from what we do.

Additionally, I don't think that just because one of the "rules" of being in a cult is not knowing you're in a cult means that everyone that's involved in a Collegiate Church must be a fool and blinded by their practices. Understand a few things: first, what we do at our church isn't indifferent from other healthy churches I've been a part of in different stages in my life. In fact, churches that have nothing to do with us seem to do things either the same way or a very similar way to how we do them. Which leads me to think they're not in any way strange or cultish. Additionally, a lot of our church network is currently partnered with SBC... meaning they don't seem to think we do things strangely either. You might say "well, they just aren't able to see the damaging habits of the church because they aren't really involved." And that might work if it weren't for the fact that one of our staff members at H2O Cincinnati was involved in a lot of other churches/college ministries (mostly SBC) and has meshed with our church seamlessly. He was 33 when he joined our team.

Anyway, regarding your question about the Holy Spirit... He plays a major role. I mean, the Holy Spirit plays a major role in every part of my faith I think. It's hard to answer the question specifically, because of the nature of God's Spirit speaking to us and using us in ways that sometimes we're not even aware. I imagine the question you're really asking is if the Spirit leads me to certain people to disciple. And, if that's the case then I'd say yes but not always. Sometimes I think God leads me to certain people in our church to invest in and other times I just invest in people that are in my small group. Although the latter can be Spirit led too. If there's something else you're asking about the Spirit's work in my discipleship relationships then sorry if I'm misunderstanding!

EDIT: after thinking about it more I'm sure you're asking more about whether or not the Holy Spirit is the authority in someone's life that I'm discipling (as opposed to myself). And, the answer is yes... absolutely. I'd say that, to be honest, I'm extremely hesitant to speak "for" God. I don't know God's plans all the time, so I speak with caution. I don't even pretend to know His will for my own life.

Finally, yes, Leadership Training was happening in Columbus this year (partnered with SBC) as well as there was one in Colorado. I was at the one in Colorado this year (as staff). Again, I'd suggest that they're quite different from what I've been seeing described on this site. At the YMCA in the Rockies, you work 40 hours a week for the Y. This is often meant to help you meet people not a part of LT to reach out to them with the gospel. You have one project day. One day off. Tuesdays and Thursday evenings have LT Sessions which is much like a church service with worship music and a message. If there's more that you're curious about in this arena, please ask! Again, I'm not convinced that the LT of 20-30 years ago is the LT of today.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2015, 08:39:28 pm by H2O Guy » Logged
margaret
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« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2015, 06:44:17 am »

I really appreciate the honest discussion happening here.  H2O guy, the old GCx practices are still in play at some of the LTs, maybe not yours.  I was "discipling" a college girl about 7 years ago (and now, I hate the word 'discipling' for what I've seen it mean in our local church, but that's another whole topic), and she saw pretty quickly (at LT) that the name of the game was conform or be condemned. When she got back to campus, she and I would get together, and I could not argue with her objections. I agreed that things were wrong, and I was embarrassed for my church, and its leadership practices. That was probably when I started seeing clearly that I was also embarrassed to invite people to my church, for fear of people seeing the heavy-handed style of leadership, and "approval if you conform/ disapproval when you don't."
This particular girl had a strong enough self confidence that she didn't NEED this kind of group acceptance, and she left the church.  I still liked her enough that we still got together for coffee and such, and for several months after she left, she was still messed up spiritually; e.g., she said she didn't want to read her bible, she couldn't pray, etc.  that's just not right! I think it was around this time that I joined this site and started reading around, and seeing that she was experiencing what SO MANY others on here had gone through.
You can see the date I joined, and the gap until I started posting regularly (namely, the time I left GCx)
I, too, couldn't read my bible or pray much afterwards...you get so confused about associating the leadership WITH God, and I'm still not fully recovered, but I am getting there.
I like your EDIT:, H2O guy...that's exactly what I saw in our local church and said out loud..."You don't trust the Holy Spirit in people. You tell them what to do, rather than letting Jesus lead them." And if one didn't do what he said to do, one was labelled as "having trouble with authority."
Ok, that's all I can say about that right now.  I'm getting too worked up
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 06:48:00 am by margaret » Logged
H2O Guy
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« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2015, 07:09:36 am »

I'm sorry to hear that margaret... that you were so negatively affected by a church in that movement. Regarding LTs... how can you be sure those practices are still in play? I feel like I have a fair bit of confidence in the men that are directing them. At least the official LTs that are associate with Collegiate Church Network (collegiateLt.com) in addition to the one that happened in Columbus this year since I know the men leading H2O OSU.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, again, that's really sad to me. Genuinely, when the question was asked about the Holy Spirit it seemed like a no brainer that He's involved heavily. If He's not, what am I even doing? I will say that I for sure speak boldly (and often bluntly) into peoples lives when I think they need to hear a specific truth the Spirit is guiding me to. But, again, like you said, I trust the Holy Spirit inside the individual to speak to them through that... perhaps not in the way I intended.

I also understand that the above statement can be troubling for people that have experienced abuse through their discipleship relationships, but I imagine it's only troubling because you don't know me and you don't know what it is I'm saying. But, a couple things on that: First, exhortation is a gift that God has given me and I intend to use it. I think it'd be foolish to not use gifts God gives us out of fear that someone from a different background might misunderstand or something. Second, it's definitely a delicate balance. Using that gift but also not pretending to speak "for" God like I was talking about before. I would say, however, if something is explicitly sin in the Bible then we can know for sure that it's wrong and not have to dance around "what the Spirit might be telling them."

Hope that all makes sense. The more I hear all this stuff from you all the more I am convinced that our church isn't in any way like the old GCx.
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margaret
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« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2015, 07:32:48 am »

True, I can't know if all LTs still operate that way.  I just know that our region's LT operated that way 7-8 years ago. 
Yes, exhortation may be a gift, but the pastor in our former church seems to thrive on pointing out people's sins, and bringing them up months and years later to remind them, which was very manipulative. It "kept people down" so to speak. He'd have the small group leaders share their sins from the week, as well as the individuals in their respective small groups.  Just ridiculous.
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« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2015, 09:01:02 am »

This thread was started many years ago when your church was affiliated with GCM which was started by GCC. In fact, as recently as the mid-2000's, I have an e-mail from Brent Knox stating that the GCM Board of Reference was the GCC Board of Reference. Then, a couple years ago, GCM churches became Collegiate Church Network Churches (yet another name change, but a good idea to remove the "Great Commission" from the name altogether), but as far as I know, no one has ever distanced themselves and corrected the bad teaching of the past.

Some of the board members of CCN, go back to the early days of GCC. GCC leaders have never corrected their bad teaching. There was an error/apology statement, but they never corrected the things they apologized for, so, in my book, an apology that is not followed by correction, is no apology at all. It's posturing.

I do think the best thing people can do is know the history (and, frankly, the recent history/teaching of GCx is troubling, we were not a part of the group in the McCotter days, and we joined after the 1991 Statement of Error) as well as listen to current teaching.

But, again, I don't believe your church identifies with GCx anymore.

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« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2015, 11:28:25 am »

Yea, I was around in the McCotter days.
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« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2015, 11:38:55 am »

Thanks for your responses! I have to start my response with your answers given about the role of God the Holy Spirit in your discipling relationships. If you look at Church history, just about every abuse or counterfeit of Christianity can be traced back to theology. Most of the time it's an issue surrounding the nature of God. The discipling/shepherding movements that can be traced back to the 1950's and 1960's (the ICOC/ICC, GCx, Maranatha/Every Nation, The Way International, etc.) share a common thread regarding the role of the Holy Spirit within discipling relationships, namely that the shepherd/discipler takes either part of or the entire role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person they're shepherding/discipling. God the Holy Spirit indwells, infills, empowers, guides, convicts of righteousness, and sanctifies (and other things I'm not mentioning here!) each individual Believer. These individual Believers walk in step with the Spirit and also walk alongside other fellow Believers who themselves are in step with the Spirit in the context of a local church (most importantly a local church, but with other Believers in other congregations and across denominations). This is where they can be held accountable and be discipled/shepherded. This balance is crucial.

My concern is that your response sounds very, very similar to those who are involved in the ICOC and Disciples on Campus. The focus on discipling is not three-way (receiving from those more mature, giving and receiving to those at your level of maturity, and giving to those less mature) or even two-way (receiving from those mature and giving to those less mature), but one-way! The ICOC/ICC focuses almost exclusively on the just receiving aspect. (In other words, who are you being discipled by?) Your answer appears to be focusing on the just giving aspect, in particular those who are generally less spiritually mature than you. This is a clear red flag in my mind of the lack of balance in discipling/shepherding. If a local church or denomination or ministry wants to implement a form of structured discipling/shepherding, everyone must participate for it to work, both giving and taking in proportion to their maturity, ability, and role.

With my concerns about theology set, I can't buy most of the rest of your arguments. The ICOC has tried to buddy-up with its cousins in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement - namely the mainline Churches of Christ and Christian Churches - but that doesn't mean either denomination endorses the ICOC or even knows what's going on behind the scenes. So even though there is a lot of synergy between H2O and the Southern Baptists doesn't mean H2O automatically gets a clean bill of health. In addition, the abuses that occur with discipling/shepherding ministries can be so subtle that they can be undetectable unless someone knows what to look for and can confirm that the abuse is truly occurring. Case in point with the ICOC/ICC: I received an e-mail a few years ago by a current member of the ICOC here in Cincinnati concerning not feeling well after a sermon. After listening and analyzing its comments, I confirmed his gut instinct because the so-called minister berated the entire congregation from the pulpit and insisted that it was the exclusive responsibility of parents to keep their children from "falling away", even after those children become teenagers. Feelings may be unreliable, but we can't ignore them and sometimes they are an excellent indicator that points to something deeper. However, he didn't leave the Cincinnati ICOC. This is a clear example of how an authoritarian discipling/shepherding system subtlety controls and abuses its followers. For more examples, you need to read the books Cults in our Midst and Toxic Faith like I mentioned in my previous post.

Overall, I certainly hope that the H2O churches and ministries that are separating from the core of the traditional GCx are distancing and removing those abusive practices. However, as we've seen in the cases within and outside of GCx, this is either very difficult or it's not occurring at all. At this time in history we need as many healthy campus ministries and churches out in the world to preach the gospel and I wish I had a clear conscious that H2O was not hindering that in any way at all. It's easy to see with Disciples on Campus, but there are still too many concerns in my mind with H2O. And apparently I'm not the only one.

P.S. I'm trying to avoid the abbreviation "DOC" because it could be mistaken as the "Disciples of Christ", which is one of the denominations which came from the Stone-Campbell Movement in the 19th century and shares a similar heritage to the ICOC, although they're distant cousins theologically.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2015, 12:20:31 pm »

THANK YOU, xray342, Margaret, and Linda !!

I have found the best judges of GCx churches OR those CHURCHES lead by GCx disciples are those who can SEE through the fog. Those who were there themselves and whose blind eyes were opened by the Spirit himself to SEE and HEAR and thus, to leave its infiltrating yeast. How can those who are puffed up by its yeast and under the darkness of it's teachings judge CLEARLY?

Many, many of us heard how "good" GCx is from those STILL IN its persuasion?  A christian counselor once said to me, "Do you really expect them to have an objective viewpoint if they are still IN IT?".
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 12:51:53 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
H2O Guy
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« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2015, 03:11:54 pm »

I'll try to respond in order. Margaret, sure, that can be used as a means of pointing out other peoples sin and manipulation but I don't think that means we throw it out altogether. To be honest, I was hesitant to even mention it, given that not everyone in our network would say they're gifted with that. Most wouldn't. Definitely the rest of our staff team wouldn't (we're small). But, that's sort of akin to saying "well, people can be manipulative when preaching so maybe this movement just shouldn't preach." That's foolish, I think.

Xray, by no means did I give a comprehensive view of discipleship in our church. I have a lot of peers (even non-staff), and a few mentors that are investing in my life. However, and again I'm young so help me with this, I don't see how that's sustainable to always have people investing in your life. What about the 70 year old pastor who doesn't have anyone older/wiser than him in his church? Is he doing discipleship wrong just because he doesn't have anyone above him mentoring him? There isn't always an option for that. And, understand I'm not saying that's what it's like for our church at this point. I'm just contending that the model you have of discipleship isn't always available. It can't be.

I do think at the very least peer-to-peer discipleship is necessary (in a sense of receiving that) but I don't think having a mentor is always an option. To be honest, I'm not sure I buy what you're saying about this. Even if our discipleship model were flawed in the way you suggest it is (I don't think it is how you suggest), are you suggesting it's manipulative to pour yourself out for others?  That doesn't make sense to me. I agree the balance with the Holy Spirit being involved is crucial. I don't see how my responses suggest that He's not present. EDIT: And please, don't twist the statement about pouring yourself out for others into something about intense burnout and not caring for yourself spiritually. That's not at all what I'm saying, and that phrase is Scriptural. Read it through a healthy church lens and you wouldn't read into it.

Regarding your concerns about the Holy Spirit. Again. Just because I think God has gifted me with the exhortation, doesn't mean I use it for manipulation or to tear people down. But, it sort of doesn't matter. You'll read it through that lens no matter what I say... even though it's a gift in the Bible. Even so, I regret singling out this one way God has gifted me because it makes it sound like my discipleship relationships all involve me telling people what to do. And that's nowhere near the truth. Like, not even close. Exhortation is a part of it, and a minor part. I only mentioned it to be open and because it seemed relevant.

And, that's fine if you don't buy into the "argument" about having others in our network that aren't from the "inside." But, at the least, it doesn't condemn us either. So saying it's not valid doesn't mean we're condemned by it either.

I guess I'm not terribly sure what it is you want me to say or do about your concerns. (not just to xray, but to everyone responding). There's nothing I can say or do to convince you that our church and its movement are healthy. If I tell you to come to our church and check it out, it's neither feasible in terms of time investment nor would you actually do that. Everything I say is read through the lens of "manipulative, authoritative cult" even though if it were read through the lens of the Bible it would check out. And, understand I'm not trying to be defensive and scoff at the concerns... I want to take them seriously. At the end of the day I have a lot of confidence about what we're doing. And, I also know we're nothing like Disciples on Campus. Again, because quite a few people from that ministry flocked to us this past year realizing what they were doing was wrong.

And Janet, again, read the above paragraph. You say that nobody inside it can see through the fog. But it's also being said that you can't merely look at it from the outside in and see whether or not these practices are at play. As if someone would have to be really involved in the church to see them. It's an impossible situation. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I'm not really sure how to proceed with the conversation here.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 03:44:47 pm by H2O Guy » Logged
margaret
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« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2015, 12:52:13 pm »

I see where you can feel like you're being squeezed between a rock and a hard place H2O guy.
I also agree that we each have our lenses through which we view, understand, and judge our environment.

I think there are probably healthy local (GCX) churches out there, but several are indeed being led by uneducated men who were self-appointed, and who are now rather self-important, and entrenched in this authoritarian hierarchy M.O. which lends itself to abuse.

I remember writing a paper for a Masters level Counseling course 20 years ago, in which I refer to the controlling and manipulative methods the inner circle of my local GCx church would use to communicate approval and disapproval, and to mold our lives.  And then I feel like a fool for having closed my eyes to it for several more years afterwards.
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xray342
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« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2015, 08:31:13 pm »

Thanks again for your response H2O Guy. Obviously we're analyzing things from two different perspectives and that's the way I expected this conversation to go. This isn't my first trip to the discipling rodeo, but my first trip into the GCx circuit.  Grin

And here's my exhortation to you:

  • Read Cults in our Midst and Toxic Faith. The first is written from a psychologistís perspective and the second from a Christian perspective. Note any and all examples in either book that you have encountered not only in your time in H2O but in other churches you've been involved with.
  • Lead a Bible Study lasting 4-6 weeks concerning spiritual abuse. Use what you learned (primarily in Toxic Faith with backing material in Cults in our Midst) to teach those you disciple in H2O.
  • Lead a short Bible Study (or two) concerning spiritual abuse with other leaders at your peer and experience level and the rest of the leadership of H2O that oversees you. Use what you learned in those books and what you discussed with your small group and discuss with the rest of the leadership.
  • Working with the rest of the leadership in H2O, have a presentation to everyone involved in H2O about the origins of GCx, from Jim McCotter all the way through the present day. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to abuses. The most important piece is to show conclusively that these abuses are no longer occurring and that the discipling structure is healthy and balanced. You probably want other local ministries and their respective leaders there to give their perspectives.

Here's something I told another H2O church leader once: you will eventually be challenged by a concerned parent or family member of one of the students in your ministry that H2O is a cult. In fact, this leader told me this had already happened once to them. It would be reassuring for them if you can walk them through this process. In fact, these things should be taught frequently enough that an undergraduate member would hear them at least once before the graduate.

P.S. This is also the same challenge I would give to any Disciples on Campus/ICOC/ICC leader. However, none of them have taken up this challenge up to this point in time.
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