We call ourselves, loosely, Detox Church Group, because we are seeking healing from our experiences of too many years in the former controlling church. Our group fluctuates from 3 to 7 (until others want to associate with us!) depending on how out the other 4 really are. Not that we are judging them, it's just that they fade away for awhile when they think we have fallen off the path of truth - that is, the path they've perceived as truth - and go back to the trappings we have already detoxed from!
Like all of us, the 4 understand what went wrong in the cult-like church we all fled. But when we are revolted by the old lifestyle, we are surprised to find they are still interested in certain aspects of it. For instance, one of them may mention gold teeth and a desire to go to certain conferences in the south. Another may mention how we should all be reading the latest greatest anointed Christian pop culture book every one is reading. In essence, they are free from the old church but they still yearn for the trappings of the old world. The Israelites in their desert days longing for Egypt comes to mind - not to sound puffed up or dramatic or anything. It's funny, though, how they resurface after they learn, once again, the fluff just doesn't satisfy like it did in the old days. Our arms are open to them and we are learning to stay focused and patient just as we hope others and the Lord will be with us.
In fairness to our meandering 4, we admit how this hyperactive prophetic culture calls to you. It's like a fix you can't get anywhere else - the hyped-up Charismatic worship services culminating in a call to the altar where a treasure trove of personal prophecies awaits you. No wonder undiscerning people trample each other to get there first and stand in line clamoring for the most anointed (popular) one to pray and prophesy over them. (Can't just be one of those measly deacons now can it?!) I'm sure any of us, who have abandoned our respective corporate ships, all have embarrassing stories we could pull out to amuse ourselves with! (If you have one, do tell! in the comment section!)
One thing has become certain, if you are still secretly hoping for gold dust and feathers and personal words spoken over you by other people, then you are not quite free of the addictive hold this culture has had on your soul.
Over the past few years we've slowly come to terms with the fact that what went wrong in the old church goes beyond the dysfunctions of the senior pastor family, although their audacious behavior certainly plays a large part in their malfunctioning world over there. It goes beyond the influence of those who do their bidding, enabling the sherade as well. Once you realize that the problem isn't just with the leaders themselves but instead with the foundation of why they were able to rise to their respective heights in the first place, you then move into another phase beyond detoxing into the restorative health of your faith. You begin to see that the Lord didn't merely deliver you from people who didn't have your best interest in mind, but from a convoluted way of life that held you back from true fruitfulness. When Jesus said that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free he must have foreseen all the religious jive that would ultimately ensnare his followers. He wasn't fond of Pharisaical doctrines then and I'm sure he's adamently against them now. Once you discern truth, then you are free of the complicated rigmarole that keeps you from living simply before the Lord, being led by his spirit every day, to actually be the earthen vessel of clay touching those around you.
The choice is ours. Do we want to hole up at conferences for the rest of our lives listening to preachers bloviate, waiting in healing lines, often paying money for personal prophecy or do we want to spend our time more wisely seeking to make a difference in our own communities? Just add up all the expenses - airfare, lodging, food, books, CDs, offerings and time spent away from work - you do the math! Seems like the choice to remove ourselves from the hype would be a no-brainer, but in reality people are swayed easily by mass hysteria.
How do you begin to disentangle yourself from the addiction of a celebrity-ridden Christian culture that is constantly reminding you what you are missing? Hey, even Dutch Sheets, who we once regarded as real and wise, is constantly downloading the latest word from God how to be vertically alligned and advertising for his upcoming prophetic conference!
The answer is to put your shoulder to the stone of prayerful research.
Thanks to scholarly types who like to research a matter to its very depths (what a gift!), there's a wealth of information surfacing about how the (especially Mega Charismatic type) Church morphed into what it is today. For instance, how did we become prosperity driven, celebrity obsessed, ruled by king-like authoritarian pastors? Pastors who are supposed to be leading the sheep as compassionate shepherds, instead drive the flock with an elitist sense of entitlement. This, of course, is spurred on by the shameless worship of their supporters who enable them to make a living off the tithes and offerings i.e. their hard-earned money that they should be investing where it counts most.
On the helpful informative site called Let Us Reason we discover that the roots of this elitist attitude has to do with the Latter Rain theology which has its roots in Gnosticism [Dictionary.com definition: certain sects among the early Christians who claimed to have superior knowledge of spiritual matters, and explained the world as created by powers or agencies arising as emanations from the Godhead] and a dominionistic philosophy that suggests we Christians are going to inherit (take over) the world to rule and reign before Christ returns. There's also an informative article on Deception Bytes called Why Latter Rain and Dominion Theology is a Lie that explains it in a nutshell. Also Mishel's personal account of her years involved in Rick Joyner's ministry gives telling insight to why this culture has veered insanely off God's original intent for His Church.
I guess my inspiration to write tonight is coming from a place of encouragement - to spur you on to dig in and learn for yourself. We've discussed amongst ourselves that to truly learn you need to want to learn. My partner often quotes "When the student is ready the teacher will appear." When you do dig, and if you come across articles that are long, print them and read them later if you want to spend less time at your computer. I love doing that because then you are free to find other articles while you are in finding mode (and it's easier on the eyes at night). Plus they can be copied and handed out to those like our Meandering Four who need a little eye opening when they seem ready to receive.
So, let the Holy Spirit map out a trail of truth for you, one step at a time. When and if you feel like you are standing at the foot of an insurmountable mountain, simply step aside for awhile till the energy to be a seeker returns. When it comes to getting your own faith back, there's all the time in the world and you should take as much time as you need. There is no hurry - you won't be left out - you won't be left behind. Your path is YOUR path and your timeline is in the Lord's hands. What is the Holy Spirit telling YOU in the still quiet of your heart? If you are ready then what are you waiting for? Others have mined the gold and all you have to do is search and read. There's lots of great information online, as you are discovering already, and you can find out more than you want to know about any topic!
Once you gather the info take it a step further and think about the fruit of these Latter Rain ministries. Define fruit. Discern between what's a bunch of hyped-up fluff that's merely keeping a ministry machine running and what is actually what James calls true religion in chapter 1 verses 26-27: Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
It pays to stay on the trail of truth - it's truly a narrow way - and searching the way we are pointing goes against the flow of the mainstream Christian pop culture right now. But hang in there. The more garbleygook that comes off from that culture, the more true compassion for our fellow men we are going to have and the more fruit that each of us, with the leading and help of the Holy Spirit, will be able to see in our own lives.