Thursday, November 16, 2006

Refugees and Exiles

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there has been a mass exodus from the CLB (church we left behind, ht robby and maynard). This has opened the door for many interesting conversations. Mostly we've just tried to listen as people process their experiences and their reasons for leaving.

The basic gist of the teaching now is that in order to access God's grace on your life, you must be properly submitted to apostolic authority. Community is also heavily emphasized. Individual preferences must be sacrificed for the corporate ideal. Under this process of reform, the body can then grow to a place of maturity and perfection.

Some interesting things that I've heard are being taught:

"Agreeing to disagree is unscriptural."

"A true apostle, like Paul, would never put up with people disagreeing with him."

"The apostle is like the brain in the body, and the rest of the body members should respond in instant obedience to the brain."

"Because I represent God's apostolic authority in your life, you should look past me as just a person and respond to the things that I say as if it were God speaking to you."

The scary thing is that the leadership truly believe that they are speaking for God in all that they do and say. There is a pattern of problems within the leadership that existed many years before the church became "apostolic." However, this teaching has empowered the leaders abuse of their authority.

That's all just background.

Last weekend, I attended a simple church weekend. The couple presenting the information have a long history with the people from that church. Due to the timing of all that is happening, many of the refugees from the CLB were at this meeting.

This changed the dynamic of the weekend from not only discussing simple church, but also ministering to the shock and trauma of these exiles. I was amazed and encouraged to see God at work in the hearts of these people. It was not a bitter, angry group.

They were people who had lost hope. Their dreams had died under the heavy authoritarian teaching. The life of the Spirit in them had been stifled. It was so incredible to see that spark restored and encouraged, to see them given permission to dream again.

For me personally, the fellowship was rich. Worshipping with the group was incredible, even though it was only led by a CD. The weekend filled my soul in the ways that I was hungry for. I can't really understand why this feels like family, when I've tried for two years to make my home at the local community church.

I'm not sure what this will mean for our family. I believe that we will continue in some type of transition. The kids enjoy the church we attend, and my husband and I do also. Some of the families at the meeting are pursuing the simple church concept. We may end up involved with them in some way also. We're going to try to stay open to whatever God has for us next.

I feel a sense of closure about the CLB and all that happened there. We have many people asking us now about why we left 2 1/2 years ago. We feel free now to tell the basics (not necessarily all the gory details) of our story.

Yesterday, I typed an explanation of the circumstances involved in our decision to leave. I'm considering printing it for those who have questions, because it is easy to get sidetracked into personality issues when telling the story. I'm also considering posting it here.

Something I wrote to a friend just a couple of weeks ago:

"I think there will come a point someday where we will be in a situation to commit ourselves to another group of believers, and hopefully I'll be ready then."

God seems to be doing things all around us. I pray that we will know and understand what our involvement should be.


Anonymous said...

It's good to hear from you Grace. I miss you.

I don't have much to add, but I'm glad you are finding some peace and closure. It's what I hope for myself some day.

I'll pray that God will guide you with wisdom about what these recent events mean for you and your family.

Cindy said...

it's great to see such postive things happening in and around you! it's been a long time in coming for you, hasn't it? for what it's worth, your writing reflects a peace about it that has a greater depth lately.

Robbymac said...


This sounds like great news, Grace. Keep us posted. If you decide not to post it here, you can always email me a copy... :)

Robbymac said...

P.S. The bullet points you listed are straight out of the Shepherding Movement. I've been concerned that we (meaning, charismatic churches in general) were ripe for another manifestation of that authoritarian and abusive teaching.

Ugh. Spit. Puke...

Pam Hogeweide said...

ditto with me on all of the above.

Because I represent God's apostolic authority in your life, you should look past me as just a person and respond to the things that I say as if it were God speaking to you


Anonymous said...

What amazes me is this.

Martin Luther stood up to papal tyranny and declared that Jesus alone is our mediator, not the church as an institution.

So he founded the Protestant Church to declare independence from spiritual tyrants, and ever since then our churches have been building our own empires ruled by our own tyranical popes.

We need another Reformation.

Pam Hogeweide said...

or a revolution.

grace said...

I hope the same for you too. It's been an interesting few weeks, and especially interesting that we are suddenly more open to whatever possibilites God brings our way.

Yes, it felt like a really long time, and I struggled with doubt and discouragement along the way. I guess I really could have trusted God, but it is always easier when you can see the other side. I think it was important for me to come to a place of acceptance anyway without knowing what the outcome would be.

Thanks for the comment about my writing. It really means a lot to me.

My husband agrees completely with you. He has said that this wave of the apostolic movement will, in the end, be known as an abuse movement. I'm interested in the book that Alan Hirsch has coming out about apostolic ministry. I believe that the real apostolic ministry will probably be in the missional and simple churches.

That is so true. Luther's reformation accomplished getting the Scriptures into the hands of all believers, away from the control of the clergy. I believe the "next reformation" will accomplish getting ministry into the hands of all believers, away from the control of the clergy.

So yes, another reformation, or as Pam said, a revolution, either works for me. ;)

Anonymous said...

My own experience similar to this was nearly twenty years ago, and mostly forgotten. But it still stirred something in me to hear you say you're turning a corner on this. May the Lord continue to build on this.

grace said...

Thanks Dave. The first couple of years were a little rough, but I know that it was just a bump in the road on our overall journey with the Lord.

Bob said...

"I think there will come a point someday where we will be in a situation to commit ourselves to another group of believers, and hopefully I'll be ready then."

I hope this day never comes, Grace. Because that will be the day you exchange the glory of God for the fellowship of man.

I'm unsure why we feel we need to "commit" to some body of believers. Shouldn't we seek to feel fellowship with all believers, in any context simply because we share a common heritage?

Of course, I think somewhere along the way, folks that gather regularly will have to drop the part of their culture that looks for people who want to "be one of us".

grace said...

Wow Bob, thanks for your comment, you've got me thinking.

I'm still unclear in my understanding of how we should be committed in community with a specific group of believers.

It seems to me that the one another scriptures from the NT indicate a committed relationship with a community of believers. Perhaps we've defined that more permanently and exlusively than what was intended.

I guess maybe I see it as a both/and, that while I commit myself to a close group, I also continue to see myself in the extended fellowship of believers, rather than simply "my group."

I'm definitely still processing these ideas.

Volkmar said...

"True apostles hide themselves. False apostles hustle themselves."

My wife and I have experienced most of the abuse of authority that you have described. Real eye-opening. One question that kept being thrown at us was, "So, why don't you reconcile with the Pastor? You know that's what you're 'posed to do." Our answer; "How are we to reconcile with a wolf in shepherd's uniform??"