Here I go again.. I didn't ever go to the camps so the only experience I had of anything remotely to do with deliverance at Struthers was in talking to a person- who was really quite a troubled soul, an unhappy person - who said she'd gone to Mrs Gault saying she thought her troubles were caused by demons and was told by Mrs Gault that she was quite sure she had no demons and might just need some form of counselling.... I know there will be many who have had a vastly different experience, it just seems to me to be fair to note that, in that relatively recent instance, the person wasn't immediately whisked into a back room for deliverance ministry
Reading your quote of course the question people might be asking is what was it that got this poor vulnerable person convinced they were demon troubled in the first place? Welcome to Struthers!
So even if the teaching from the pulpit was the cause of this it would not be too astonishing if occasionally someone got better rather than worse advice from a Struthers leader. I suppose the message of this forum is not that they always get it all wrong but:
1 they get it wrong an awful lot and people feel badly hurt by what happened to them
2 in 700 plus posts and 2 years no one who claims to believe in Struthers, its leaders and its teaching as a special way to God is capable of coming onto this forum and making any serious coherent defence of what they do that stands up to any scrutiny at all.
Only 2 people who claimed to be still in Struthers (excluding the special case of Blackwatch!) posted once each and 2 other people stating they were no longer members tried (a bit better) to defend it based on the fact it wasn't too bad for them in the brief time they were there. Maybe that is okay advice – if you do go to Struthers for a while get out before the walls close in.
But one thing Struthers did seem to do to all of us is lower our expectations of what a church pastor does. Now knowing many and various excellent church leaders and pastors I can see how it should work. The leader is the servant of the people and is always seeking to get the person from where they now are to:
1 being free and able to grow and enjoy living their Christian life and
2 being able to serve God and the church through encouragement and opportunity to use their unique personal gifts.
So in that context a good church leader puts their arm around a person and gets them what they need to achieve this. So if they need deliverance from an addiction they get help with that (maybe a one off prayer but more likely a serious addiction counselling programme). If they need understanding they help them enrol on a Christian education course and get that understanding. If they need counselling they don't just say, “you need counselling”, slap them on the back and ignore them for the next few years; rather they help that person get to an appropriate counsellor and get whatever help they need.
I know many people in Struthers who I think desperately need Christian and life counselling and not more condemnation sermons or encouragement to scream till some demons come out. I know of no one who has been placed in touch with a counselling organisation by a Struthers pastor and I have never heard from the pulpit any endorsement of a counselling service or (in my time) any Christian agency outside Struthers. Quite the opposite they often claimed: “God has given the leadership in this church everything that the congregation need or will need”. How is that working out for the members I wonder?
Part of this I have always assumed to be because some people might get counselling that identifies their guilt and shame and depression as having it's root in their inability to question the damage being done to them by Struthers church and teachings. According to the experiences of people on this forum that could be the root of the emotional and sometimes psychological problems for which some, at least, seem to need serious medication.
Its all very well for Mrs Gault to say “you need counselling” but if that counselling later indicates that the person had problems because of an unhealthy belief in the infallibility of the Struthers way then what would her advice be?
And Cbarb is correct in that the degree of Struthers pastoral involvement in people lives is based not on their membership or faithfulness to the organisation but how much your leader likes you. So my question, Squareone, after the suggestion of counselling for the needy person was anything done by Mrs Gault to make it available to the person? Or was this not someone the leader wanted to spend any more time on?
If not Latigo have this quote in one of their early articles about the need for the Struthers church leaders to be honest enough to let people know where they stand. They suggest the leader tells each person in their congregation one of two things:1 I believe God has placed you in my congregation for a reason and I want you to get all the help I can give you to develop your life in Him. We should meet together and seek to plan for the deepening of your spiritual life, identify and make space in this church to develop your ministries and gifts and seek to understand what your needs of me as your Pastor are, to help you find fulfilment for all your human need at every level in Christ.
2 I am not drawn to you. I do not regard you as someone I have any feeling of pastoral care for. If you improve you attitude and performance in the following ways ____________________ I may find I am interested in being involved in your spiritual walk at some time in the future. If you want to attend meetings at my church in the meantime, that is okay, but whether you do or not will make little difference to me.
I would agree this is exactly what needs to happen. The leaders probably won't do it but the church members should speak to their own church leaders and ask – “leader, which one of these two am I to you?”
Personally I wish my church leader had told me years earlier the truth - she was happy to take my money but no longer remotely interested in having me in her church. Looking back I now see she wasn't remotely interested in how my Christian life was going for about 8 years before I left and she effectively stopped speaking to me for about the last 4 years.
As I say they lowered our expectations. I now know real pastors simply couldn't behave like that. Real pastors actually care about all those God has placed in their churches. First indicator is they spend some time with everyone not all their time with some.