The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (NAR) as part of a series exploring where it appears Mark Driscoll may land for “ministering” in his post-Mars Hill Church career. I contributed several comments to this thread, since I had done some in-depth studies of the NAR as part of my case studies on involvement of the NAR Council of Apostles and Prophets with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring, and with its incubating the Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare movements. Continue reading
The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Demons, Tongues, and Healings at Chris Hodges’ Church of the Highlands (ARC). It is, in part, an expose of ARC – the Association of Related Churches – which seems to have a substantial level of involvement in the “strategic level prayer” and spiritual warfare practices, and possibly also elements of a prosperity gospel and Word of Faith teachings. This critique applies to the New Apostolic Reformation movement as well.
Because of my background in studies of this particular prayer movement, along with spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping, I added several comments to the thread on this TWW article. I recommend reading my article on Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Mapping (2008) as a more systematic backdrop to the detailed analysis pieces here. Continue reading
Futurists, Scenarios, and Spiritual Abuse Survivors
All the futurists I know do a lot of general research and reflection on culture and change. But at some point the information needs to be narrowed down to help specifics client or group figure out how they want to navigate the issues that are most relevant to them. One of the ways futurists do that is through scenarios. Scenarios take into account the information gathered on trends, and related analysis, and put them into a realistic story form that seeks to capture the emotional impact people will feel in struggling to cope with unavoidable changes. Rather than dictating answers to the client’s questions of “So what?” (meaning) and “Now what?” (resolve to act), the futurist facilitates a process for the client to discern and decide his/her/their own answers to them. The scenario doesn’t have to be about distress and disaster to be effective. Various kinds of conflict can be effective sparks for discussing where the client is at in the midst of these changes, and what is plausible in moving on from there. “Success” can create change just as much as conflict can. Continue reading
Suggestions for Spiritual Abuse Survivors in the
How, When, and Why in Sharing Our Accounts of Recovery
I’ve been writing about spiritual abuse and recovery since 2008. Part of what started me down this path was when I took Barbara Orlowski’s survey about experiences of spiritual abuse, responses to the perpetrator and organization, and the recovery process. Sadly, I had multiple severe experiences to draw from, but I must say that the process of completing her survey made a significant difference for me in understanding what happened to me, how bully leaders work over the people under them, and areas I needed to continue healing from.
I’ve also helped people process their story to write it for themselves. And I’ve written other people’s accounts for them, or set up investigative archives for several lawsuits or other major situations involving spiritual abuse. [Unfortunately, I’m not available to do any of these right now, so please don’t contact me to ask if I can help you. I’m swamped with finishing production of a curriculum series.]
At least journaling about our experiences of spiritual abuse and recovery is a process I highly recommend. You’ll likely find yourself exploring issues and answers you might never get into otherwise. But what happens if you’re feeling a nudge to do something more than just “process”? What if you sense you may be led to do something with the product of all that processing? Is it perhaps time to tell your story? And if so, how do you know when to do this, and what you should include? In this article, I’ve captured some practical how-to advice on these and related questions. Hope you find it of help … Continue reading
There is far more discussion these days on “systems dynamics” in churches and ministries, especially those that are showing themselves to be toxic. I believe we in the spiritual abuse survivors movement are now exploring these issues because of how much emerged in 2012 on the machinations behind the scenes in ministry organizations like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Mars Hill Church, and numerous other individual churches and mega-churches around North America. I’m especially concerned for all the “collateral damage” of people who’ve been steeped in the Sovereign Grace Ministries network, as they come to terms with the allegations and documentation in the class action lawsuit that has been filed. The “survivor community” is not just about individuals survivors or families who exit toxic churches and how to heal, it’s about entire entities and how to confront ingrained strategies and structures and methods and messages that have tainted the spirits of the people immersed in them.
The need to help new waves of survivors and “nones” will never go away, but it feels like a radically new dimension of diagnosis and treatment has opened up, for dealing with organizational dynamics that need either radical transformation to survive, and closure to shut down. But these are not topics we’re generally aware of. At least, not yet. Where do we go to learn more? Here are links to two case studies …
General Resources on Spiritual Abuse and Recovery – as of March 2012
I’ve been working on this reference/resource list for a while now. If all goes well, I’ll be updating it periodically. It’s a select list (but I’m trying to get it more and more comprehensive over time). I’m looking for Christian books primarily, plus a few that are from other religious/spiritual backgrounds and some academic volumes. I’m also including a few select titles on spiritual abuse and cults that are now considered “classic,” regardless of whether they are Christian in their perspective or not. Overall, this includes books that deal with such topics as:
- Authoritarian Leaders
- Church Discipline
- Dechurched Disciples
- Faulty Teachings, Heretical Teachings, and Cults (some general, some very specific)
- Legalistic Theologies
- Recovery and Restoration
- Religious Addiction
- Spiritual Abuse
- Toxic Churches/Organizations
I also wanted to put these books in chronological order, as a potential study tool for understanding how the history of wider Church-based concern about “malignant ministry” has developed. This is in part because, as a 20-something-year-old, I endured a devastating church split that came closer to claiming my faith than anything before or since. That was in 1978, and it would be a dozen years before some of the very first (and also what have turned out to be some of the very best) resource books were published for survivors of such horrific experiences. All I had then were the Scriptures, a few friends to process things with, and a tenuous clinging onto Jesus Christ, that gradually over time turned into a tenacious commitment.
If you prefer an alphabetical version of this list, it is on this page: 4 Spiritual Abuse Book Lists and Visual Bibliographies. I’m also including scans of the book covers in that version.
January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”
January seems to be the traditional time to offer a look back and a projection forward. We start the month off with New Year’s resolutions, and close it with the State of the Union presentation by the President of the United States. For a few years now, January has been designated as “Spiritual Abuse Awareness” month. So, I wanted to post a list of “barometer” readings of recent events plus suggest emerging issues that help us identify indications of change in the atmosphere on this issue. Continue reading