Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a comment at Wartburg about Redemption Groups

I'm not aware of anyone who has gone through Redemption Groups who has felt like publicly discussing what the content entails and by that I mean by name. I was hearing about the Redemption Groups as I began to have reservations about renewing membership.  I was aware Mars Hill invited CCEF to present a How People Change conference at Mars Hill back around 2006.  I also know that Mars Hill has sold books by Dan Allender. 

Driscoll once said that what Mars Hill hoped to do was to take the best ideas from various other ministries, refine out the things they didn't care for, and then create a uniquely Mars Hill ministry with the best content they found from other places.  In place of CCEF, Dan Allender, and other resources it may be the Redemption Groups constitute the first significant package of materials or product that fits what Driscoll outlined as a goal for Mars Hill in developing internal ministry approaches.  It does not require even a particularly cynical observer to notice that what this entails is assimilation, redaction, and rebranding.  I have written elsewhere that Mark Driscoll is a popularizer of thinkers and notions that are more innovative or productive than he is.  He has never come up with anything original of substance in his entire pastoral career, but he has at times done a good job of popularizing or assimilating concepts from older, better, wiser and more responsible Christian teachers than he is likely to be.

However, Driscoll has had nothing to do in any observable way with Redemption Groups.  That's more a Mike Wilkerson and James Noriega project.  Noriega, of course, has vanished from the elder listings without any comment from anyone at Mars Hill.  He disappeared around the time that MH folks assured us two staff were let go for displaying a pattern of overstepping spiritual authority.  I would take that with a cup of salt.  Now I can grant anonymous summaries aren't in themselves persuasive but the summary below is worth reading.  It's worth reading because while it is general some of the generalities fit with problems I observed in my time at Mars Hill, chief among them a dangerously truncated hamartiology in which all sin is boiled down to "pride" and a real or perceived defiance of God appointed spiritual authority or God (which are often conflated).

Free at last UNITED STATES on Wed, Apr 18 2012 at 02:44 pm

To add a few more things to what David already wrote about “redemption groups”:
1)”Redemption groups” look good paper only, the way they practice is harmful. I physically got sick and threw up when I got home after some intense sessions.

2)If the person resists revealing things about himself for whatever reason, the group would shame him, gang up to attack, denounce him as prideful, hypocritical, out of touch, in a rather brutal manner. Accusations, judgments, shaming are leveled against those who do not play their game.

2)The ugliest Christians are those whom I met in a redemption group at Mars Hill. I had never met anyone of them before walking into the first session; yet, they seemed to know all about my sins and wanted God to break my heart because of my sin. It felt like I was taken captive by the enemy and tortured so that they could get a confession out of me. Cruelty was the word. Is it reasonable to demand vulnerability from strangers? or is it sheer madness?

3)The devil likes to hide himself behind religion and church groups to wreak havoc in the church and the people who run these groups do not see the spiritual warfare aspect of it. “Lord, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”

Vital to the understanding of the Mars Hill Church problems are two key documents for all those who want to know:

a) The ten-page letter from Paul Petry to “the Elders of Mars Hill Church” dated October 25, 2007 (posted on their website)
b) “My story – by Jonna Petry” (on this website)

I believe what the authors say in these document because I can relate to some extent.
“the wounded person is left with a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually… There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse” pervasive in this mega church.

Will you join me to pray for Mars Hill Church?

For another story that involves Redemption Groups read here:
Now I am sure there are people who have had positive experiences in Redemption Groups and perhaps they will share stories and already have.  They're welcome to post a comment here if they like.  There's no way a Redemption Group concept can have a 100% success or failure rate, after all.

No comments: