Why are you watching that? It will only stress you out!” That is what my husband said recently when he saw me watching one of a few documentaries that have interested me: Amazon’s “Shiny Happy People,” Hulu’s “The Secrets of Hillsong,” and Hulu’s “God Forbid.”  All stories of ministries that were started by sincere people (I am assuming), grew, took on a life of their own, and have had those in leadership fall in very public ways, causing the hurt and fracturing of many lives.   

Why did I watch them? Did they stress me out? Yes. They did. But that stress quickly changed, causing me to enter a state of deep processing and self-evaluation. It was good for me to watch them because, for me, they are used as a sobering reminder and warning of what could happen to any of us if we are not “…sober-minded and watchful. Because our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). 

I have a perspective of one who is familiar with and even benefitted from some of the ministries that were highlighted in these documentaries, but am now appalled by the inaccurate teaching that has ended up influencing so many and has dishonored the name of Jesus. As I watch and read, not only about these specific stories, but the responses of the people who are watching and reading along with me, I have many emotions and thoughts. I am feeling:  

  • Sadness: because Brian and I know so many families who have followed this kind of teaching, raised their children in it, and now their families are fractured.  
  • Frustration: at how we, as believers, often find it easy to pounce on (and highlight) the errors of others and forget the fact that we have errors in our thinking as well. 
  • Empathy: knowing these precious parents are sincere and only desire what is best for their children and families.  
  • Irritation: at how easy it is to become impressed with ourselves and to think it is okay to allow people to hang on to our every word.   
  • Anger: at how easy it is for us to follow a man and forget to be discerning.  
  • Embarrassment: that I was once drawn to some of these teachings because I was a rule follower and a people pleaser.  
  • Grateful: because my husband finally said, “This is not what I want for this family!” and he helped me see beyond it and back to biblical truth.  
  • Fear: that I may have messed up my kids with teachings that I thought seemed good at the time but walked away from. 
  • Self-righteousness: when I observe the families dressed in their conservative clothes with their 18 children, and yet I forget that I could have been there too.  
  • Cautious: often fighting the temptation to keep the church and teachers at a distance. 
  • Humbled:  that my family is somehow still intact, by the grace of God.  
  • Thankful: that God continues to use me and is still teaching me.  
  • Compassion: for the fractured families and for the children who grew up in cult-like teaching and were hurt by it. 
  • Concern: for those who are deconstructing and praying they do not react and move from one type of error to another type of error…from one extreme to another. 
  • Passionate:  about telling the younger generation that God is faithful no matter what they see happening around them in parts of the church and to challenge them to ask God to help them see what their generation is believing that is not accurate.  
  • Determined:  to keep God and his Word between me and any teacher or teaching I hear, remembering that our knowledge of divine things is imperfect and incomplete.  

Yet, I am also hopeful! Why? Because as I “set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7); and I “fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”, (Hebrews 12:2), I can rest in the truth of 1 Corinthians 13:12 that says that “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  

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