Jeremiah 5:26 (The prophet speaking for God):…” for wicked men are found among My people…they set a trap, they catch men.”
The Prodigal Prophet Part 3
My fellow blogger and I just returned from our second annual Cracker Barrel Summit with an old friend that many know as the Georgia Blogger. There is much good going on behind the scenes and TWW hopes that, in the near future, we can report on the positive developments.
Blogging can be a source of much good for those who have been hurt by the church. There has been much pain caused by pastors and church leadership. Blogging is one method to facilitate fellowship, understanding, and revelation. For many, it can be a place to begin healing. For others, it is a method to prevent abuse.
Today, more than any other day, we have experienced, as well as better understand, the immeasurable value of this venue and are more committed than ever, to continue this journey.
In our last post, we left the God Squad, growing in numbers, with Jake at the helm. One day, Jake and Paul (another leader) attend a conference in London where they meet Derek Prince, a leader in the American Shepherding movement. Deb will talk about Derek Prince later this week.
Through Prince, they are introduced to the new shepherding methods, which involved the implementation of a strict hierarchical structure of leadership. These leaders would then disciple the other followers. Upon returning to the group, Jake eagerly begins to put into practice this novel idea. Of course, Jake was the leader and Dylan was the follower. This would prove to be disastrous to Dylan and others.
Dylan and friends, wishing to follow God, sign up to put themselves under Jake’s leadership-he was to be their earthly shepherd. Dylan, who had become a teacher after college, is asked to be full -time assistant to Jake. Although he loves to teach, he quits to take on this new role. During this time, with Jake’s approval, Dylan got married to a young woman, Zan, who had been discipled within the group. She would prove to be a wonderful support to him.
Dylan, ever introspective, now believes he accepted this position because it gave his ego a boost. The more we, at TWW, encounter these hierarchical groups, the more we are aware that leaders take on an almost mystical aura. There seems to be a belief that God has somehow specially anointed such leaders. Some of this aura rubs off on those who surround him and Dylan, understandably, committed to this "shepherd", accepts his new job.
Jake disbands Friday night meetings and, instead, focuses on Praise Services. With Jake, calling the shots, and all of his followers jumping to obey, they coordinate a well-oiled machine, which attracts a following. As the numbers attending the Praise Services grew, their group became known throughout all of Northern Ireland.
American evangelical dignitaries started to visit because the group was getting large. However, these were not just any American leaders. They were the leaders of the American shepherding movement. Dylan says that they acted like CEOs inspecting a business. In fact, Jake had (or was about to) put himself under their authority. This would mean that American shepherds were calling the shots in Northern Ireland.
Dylan talked about the demands of these American visitors (or do I mean divas?). For example, he had to make sure that they were fed the best of food. He told of one scenario in which he was told to cook an egg for EXACTLY two minutes. He had to stand guard over the egg lest it be overcooked and need to be thrown out. He described his feelings of anxiety in trying to serve these men properly. Were the roots of today’s mega-pastor demands incubated with an egg timer in Ireland?
However, he mentions one man, Wayne Dunn, who was a positive influence. He was an ex -leader amongst the Jesus people and the head of large church in Kansas that was made up of ex-hippies and drug addicts. He apparently never asked for an offering in his church, fully trusting God for support. Eventually, he would leave the Shepherding movement in disgust. Other shepherding leaders started a lie that he fell away from the faith. In the meantime, the shepherding model was heavily taught at all of the group meetings from this point forward.
A Brief History of the American Shepherding Movement:
TWW wrote two posts focusing on this abusive movement. The following is a synopsis of these posts entitled: "The Shepherding Movement-Reformed, Revamped, Ree-diculous." Here is a link.
"The Shepherding (Discipling) Movement, which had disastrous effects on charismatic Christians in the 1970s and early 1980s, is now REFORMED and REVAMPED. Incredibly, some Calvinistic (Reformed) groups have latched onto shepherding as a method of control, which begs the question, “Is God truly sovereign if shepherding is the method churches use to control their flocks?”
How does a pastor implement “Shepherding”? The first step is the pastor becoming extremely AUTHORITARIAN. The decision-making responsibilities rest solely with the pastor(s), and the members have little, if any, input into the direction of the church. Such pastors begin to “lord” their positions over their congregants
The catalyst that started the Shepherding Movement was a moral failure in a charismatic ministry in South Florida. In response to this failure, four well-known Charismatic leaders – Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham – came together as the crisis response team. These men, realizing they were equally vulnerable to moral failure apart from accountability, agreed to submit themselves to each another. This mutual submission became a supernatural experience for them, and they bound their ministries together. Eventually, Ern Baxter joined the core group, and “The Fort Lauderdale Five”, as they became known, was established.
These five “anointed” men began to teach on authority, submission, and discipleship. The doctrine that reshaped the charismatic community was that every individual must be submitted to another person and that all major life decisions should be submitted to a “shepherd or pastor”. It became a system in which elders or “shepherds” acted as spiritual leaders responsible for the entire church. Individual church members were assigned to specific elders and were “submitted” to them. Over time, a religious system developed in which a blind obedience to “man” was promoted.
Another doctrine that these leaders emphasized was “Covenant” relationships or “Spiritual Family”. When one entered into a discipleship relationship, it was permanent, as was one’s association with a group of believers. Members were in a “Covenant” with one another. If someone left the relationship or the fellowship group, they were breaking a covenant. These kinds of religious systems often place more emphasis on one’s “spiritual family” than one’s natural family. If a misguided shepherd is in charge of such a system, cult-like behavior is the logical result.
Unfortunately, all kinds of abuse resulted from the shepherding movement. Extensive documentation exists describing the abuses that took place. In hindsight, what started out as a method of accountability morphed into a system of enslaved people.
The end result of shepherding is that it puts the submissive person in a position of having two masters – Jesus Christ and a personal shepherd. Over time the shepherd gains more power and control over the one being shepherded, and Jesus Christ is terribly overshadowed.
As time went by, the fruit of these doctrines became obvious to charismatic leaders outside the movement. Some of these leaders confronted the “Five” in what has been called the “Shootout at the Curtis Hotel.” The Fort Lauderdale Five eventually parted company, and Derek Prince and Bob Mumford distanced themselves from the teaching."
Email from Dylan:
I wanted to clarify the involvement of Dylan’s group with the “Five.” He sent me the following email a couple of weeks ago. I asked him if he had ever heard of CJ Mahaney or Larry Tomczak. I also asked him if he had ever heard of any of the names of the groups that Larry or CJ had been affiliated with. Here is his response. Pay close attention to his last sentence.
“Shepherding in Ireland came in through the Fort Lauderdale 5 around 1976
or so – our fellowship got involved via Derek Prince, one of the FL5
Others were Charles Simpson, Don Basham, Bob Mumford and Ern Baxter.
We were shepherded by one of Derek’s junior apprentices called Abel
Kern from Michigan.
I’ve heard of Larry Tomczak – he may have written in the Shepherding
magazine of the time called New Wine.
These authoritarian movements keep morphing and renaming themselves.”
We will continue on with Dylan’s story tomorrow.
Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 24:1-25:46 Mark 10:13-31 Psalm 44:9-26 Proverbs 10:20-21