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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: April 28, 2011 08:56AM

Quote
Rensil
I think we should be careful not to dismiss every pentecostal-type church as being unhealthy just because some are. ...
We mustn't throw the baby out with the bath-water, in other words.

Agreed, however it is interesting to note that at least one person here mentioned cases where some person went for healing via a leader - and when it didn't
happen - was blamed for being at fault - most likely due to sin, lack of faith -not "pulling through" demonic posession - exactly the kind of thing Derren Brown
talks about several times in the programme. The "healer" of course is never in the wrong. How many times do leaders in the SMC apologise for not delivering a successful healing because THEY didnt have enough faith or "holiness" ?.

It is well known that many in the SMC movement readily endorse people like Benny Hinn - and encourage their church members to go to the massive rallies whenever he is "in town". If the struthers leadership can show such lack of judgement or "discernment" - and be taken in by Hinn and his organisation, what does it say for other decisions they take ?.

It seems to me that it is the pentecostal churches that place undue emphasis on "experience seeking", tongues, talk of miracles, and - basically "spectacle" - preferable involving huge crowds - that are the most in error. But for sure not all charismatic churches these days are like that. For sure there is balance to be found , and there are certainly charismatics and pentecostals among those in the Emerging Church.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Biscuits ()
Date: April 28, 2011 05:04PM

Firstly, thank you to everyone for posting. It has been so interesting to read of the common experiences of many – which are, in fact, identical to mine. Sadly, it seems that predominantly we can only see how damaging SMC is once we are ‘out the other side’.

I was a kid and a teenager in SMC, and although I loved the worship and the very real presence of God (totally addictive), I felt under the most extreme pressure to perform. I remember in one Saturday night kids’ meeting in Glasgow, the leader made everyone sit in a circle and asked everyone who had been baptised in the Spirit to raise their hands. (This by the way is synonymous with speaking in tongues – I was once at a camp where a poor teenage girl got verbally shot down for suggesting that even although she didn’t speak in tongues, she knew she was filled with the Spirit). Every kid raised their hand – even the tiniest ones – then everyone was encouraged to share their experiences of when it happened. Naturally, the age of ‘being filled’ decreased rapidly with each story being told.

As I remember it, there were certain places, things and brands which were acceptable, and others which were not. Make-up, ear-piercing and (in my day) Bebo Norman were a big no-no. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings (Mary Black was a big fan), photography and anything made by Apple were things you should invest a lot of energy in. It seemed to lie on the shoulders of a few people in a kind of ‘magic circle’ to determine what was kosher, like foreign holidays (at my time forbidden, now ok) or strappy summer tops (oh, the embarrassment of a friend being asked to change at camp!). It was exhausting keeping up with what I was allowed to do. I attended meetings every single night of the week and twice on a Sunday – and similar to what others have said, absence was always noted and strictly followed up.

Superiority was encouraged – working with other churches was not. And all the time I remember the fear of being found out to be not good enough, or not holy enough; not living up to what the leaders planned out was a terrifying thought. Stories filtered through to us teens (sadly can’t vouch for the accuracy of them) that certain people had been dissuaded from marrying the person they wanted to because the leaders had deemed they were not the right person for them. I was terrified for falling for the wrong person and having heartbreak heaped on shame!

I do remember a couple of people leaving the church while I was there and the whole affair being massively hushed up. There seemed to be a hardness, and a blatant lack of compassion – in a way that I have seen very similarly demonstrated by members of the Westboro Baptist Church when someone makes the heart-breaking decision to leave their whole family’s chosen way of life. My experience of leaving was very similar to everyone else leaving SMC – first questions, then shunning, then ex-communication.

One final thing I would say is that I have heard some of my acquaintances still in SMC say that it is a growing, vibrant church. Vibrant maybe, I suppose that’s in the eye of the church-goer, but I find it pretty hard to swallow that it’s growing. The ‘leadership’ team doesn’t seem to have changed for ten years as I can see it, and when I look at recent pictures of activities in the church, I recognise everyone in them. Strikes me as a big odd, is all.

Needless to say – God is no man’s debtor, and what the devil means to harm us, God only brings to prosper us. He has taught me so much through the whole experience and I have an ongoing hunger to know God at a deep level. I just pray so much I will never again be dogmatic, blinded and hard - God is just too full of love!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: April 28, 2011 05:32PM

I agree with Susan that the problem comes when we take our emphasis of the bible and place it on experience. The main problem is you then have someone telling you what your experience should be like, whether its valid, how the experience can never be challenged and many other parameters on a persons experience of 'God'

I have been attended a number pentecostal churches during my Christian life. Some being the church I was a member of, others I was just visiting and I have seen a whole spectrum of behaviours and attitudes. Ive seen the stuff where people were barking like dogs/clucking like chickens. I've also seen the almost trance induced states brought about by shouting in tounges for over an hour. Thankfully those experiences for me at least have been in the minority and Ive had some biblically sound, geuine and caring leaders, none of whom were perfect, but with the exception of Struthers leaders, they were approachable and willing to answer questions and admit mistakes.

I can relate to the experience of prayer for healing/deliverance at Struthers. I'd often see people go out for prayer as the result of a genral "appeal" to receive "ministry" and them be totally passed by from the leaders or made to stand at the front for ages whilst the leaders prayed for others who hadnt even come forward and as an after thought they got one of their "underdogs" to pray for the person right at the end. Of course the justification was that they didnt feel "drawn" to pray with that person mainly due to the person having terrible sin in their life or not being ready to receive what God wanted to do, even though they had responded to an appeal for ministry. This was just another attempt to belittle people and keep them in their place. Many would be greatly upset that the key leader hadnt prayed over them. I for one felt extremely awkward and embarraed the time I went forward for prayer on a saturday night in Glasgow and was left standing there for over half and hour, being by passed whilst others received prayer and was left until last. Maybe people may think Im paranoid but Im sure it was used as some kind of statement against me.

I also experienced a "deliverance" session and again can identify with what others have said. The session took place in Dianas office with her and her young protege. There was little conversation at the start and I was told to begin praying in tounges. As time progressed I was encouraged to pray more ferverently (louder) and I ended up shouting tounges until I lost my voice. There was no prayer in English as the other 2 also prayed in tounges and nothing happened. After about 20 minutes Diana brought things to a close and told me that the reason othing had happened was because I still had sin in my life and I didnt hate my sin enough. I was then encouraged to confess more sins as this was they key to being "set free" (and being allowed to actually talk to and befriend other people in church) Im almost embarrased to say that I was scouring over my past with a fine toothed comb, recounting stuff I did when I was 12 and 13 before I was ever a Christian. It was at that point I contacted my old pastor from an Elim church and was advised to get out of their as it was spiritually abusive.

At the end of the day any church should teach its members to judge prophetic "words" and other "spiritual experiences" against the word of God. However the problem with Struthers is members arent allowed to question the "anointed leaders" on anything and until a healthy questioning is encouraged (although apparently it now is since the March 12th sermon) then thos kind of thing is going to keep on happening and people are going to keep on getting hurt.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: April 29, 2011 03:57AM

Hi Biscuits

Welcome to the forum and sharing your experieces. I can relate to what you said about the leadership breaking up relationships between men and women. I seen a lot of that while in the Cumbernauld branch of SMC. Not only that but the pastor tried on occasions to break up married couples who were having problems in the church I.E. The woman or man who wasn't really in agreement with Diana, would be continually criticised from the platform and as usual everyone would know who she was talking about. This of course would put a strain on the marriage, for the person in dissagreement with Diana would always feel that their husband or wife was supporting Diana and not them. From what I know two happily married people have now split up and going there own way. The woman failed to see Diana as right anymore and left church. Her husband stayed on he is well used in the church by Diana. The pastor then one Sunday morning announced to her congregation that the woman in question had committed adultery and that they had split up. Even if that was true if the woman wanted to go back to her husband, how could she ?after such an announcement. I have seen her split up couples whose partners were not in the church through her so called decernment. No one should have that sort of power over anyone. The Cumbernauld branch is full of unmarried women, so the pastor has them just where she wants them- under her control.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: April 30, 2011 02:19AM

I've also witnessed the things which Susie and Covlass have mentioned in the above (recent) posts, yet I'm still heartbroken when I read them. Heartbroken at reading how people have suffered and been hurt in a Christian church and heartbroken for those who are still in SMC, both those who can't see the truth and those who are unhappy and would like to leave, but are held by fear and the teaching that to leave means backsliding from God.

Thanks, Biscuits, for your posts too; I'm glad you got away from SMC when you grew up, despite being brought up in it as a child and teenager. Heartening to know you have a heart that is seeking to know God at a deep level. You will find Him in reality now.

Yes, I've witnessed male/female relationships being broken up causing great pain to both sides, lack of teaching on SMC's views on divorce so that a relationship formed with a divorced person leads to confusion, upset and shunning by other members, marriages deemed to be less important than your service and "call" to SMC, meetings to have priority over caring for your babies and children, breast-feeding discouraged because it kept you away from church meetings. These happen in all branches, not just Cumbernauld and it goes back years so is not a new thing. I was there.

I've also experienced what Covlass describes about going out for prayer and not getting prayed with, while some "favourites" were prayed with every week or very regularly. When you asked about this, you were told the leader didn't feel a draw to you and didn't have anything for you. How does this make people feel? And I was in SMC for years and living as holy a life as I could, so it wasn't because I wasn't in the church for very long. Good that you got out, Covlass.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: May 01, 2011 04:02AM

Rensil said:

" When you asked about this, you were told the leader didn't feel a draw to you and didn't have anything for you. How does this make people feel?"

I think this kind of talk actually highlights a much bigger issue with the ethos behind the SMC - namely the unhealthy focus on persons or leaders.

I've heard so much talk from SMC members that referred specifically to a particular leader. This continually seemed to be and clearly still IS - the modus operandi behind SMC.

Namely leader X did this, pastor Y teaches this, I must get leader Z to lay hands on me and say a few words of discerning wisdom to me. The leader "this", the leader "that".

Contrast this to the church I went to for many years - a church that saw continual growth through 30 years of ministry and has seen countless unbelievers become saved and healthy productive members of the local evangelical community - way beyond the wildest dreams of what the SMC has achieved in the same period.

I can name several key differences between this church ( a tongues speaking and "pentecost preaching" one i should add ) and the Struthers way:

1) In all the time I was there - the overriding talk was along the lines of "the Lord did this", "the lord has led me to X", "isn't the Lord wonderful" etc etc.
NOT "pastor X did this".

Although I and church members appreciated the sermons given by leaders. elders and the like, not to mention all the visiting speakers and ministers from OTHER churches that we regularly invited to speak, the focus NEVER slipped to placing these leaders on some giant pedestal whereby everything depended on their approval or getting their attention.

No. Instead, the overwhelming ethos was that even the elders were merely there to fulfil a task, an obligation , a ministry, one done in TRUE humility. One where at the end of the meeting the talk would never be about "wasnt pastor X good tonight" "didnt leader X demonstrate a wonderful anointing tonight when he/she laid hands on me", But instead about how the lord had laid something on out hearts, "i need to change" etc.

NO NO NO.

IN this church EVERY member was expected to minister to fellow brothers. Hierarchy was gone.

And NO ON, NO ONE, EVER became a mini "star" in this church. How strange that even without this "leader worship" many amazing things happened over the years.

This leadership truly "knew its place". The secret ?. Why the phenomenal growth and influx of converts ?

One word: LOVE.

I think some of the posters here - in their complaints about SMC are still thinking a little within the same old mindset of the SMC and maybe still need to break free from it.

For a christian to be constantly concerned with getting attention from leaders for so and so ministry is missing the point. As our Lord said - the Kingdom of God is within us. We need no "priest" to minister to us. Instead everyone of us are priests.

Sometimes when I think about the way SMC goes about things - the totally unscriptural emphasis on leaders, anointing and the like I cant help but draw comparisons with the catholic church.

The SMC leadership are in their own way "mini popes" acting out a liturgy of their own, within a tradition that is almost as inflexible as that of the catholic church.

The bottom line is that the SMC has really been insiduously introducing a "pseudo priesthood" - one supposedly coming from a reformed, protestant background, but I cannot help but feel that
much of what the Struthers Memorial Church is about has more to do with Catholicism
- albeit a mystical kind
- instead of a health charismatic evangelicalism.


Maybe we should be relieved that the SMC has singularily failed to achieve any of its "revival" ambitions. Its growth over 30 years is well below that of the Mormon Church and other cults.

I may be wrong in this but I heavily suspect that the main attraction of SMC comes from the already converted - people converted by christians OUTSIDE of the SMC - seeking a greater spiritual experience than the one they have - and - on word from someone they know - they give the SMC a go thinking they must be "deeper" somehow".

And some try it and find it does nothing for them, or have deep suspicions early on and never join, and of course some find the experiences they seek and end up becoming "fully paid up believers".



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2011 04:31AM by seekingsusan.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: May 02, 2011 01:32AM

Quote
seekingsusan

I think some of the posters here - in their complaints about SMC are still thinking a little within the same old mindset of the SMC and maybe still need to break free from it.

Firstly I wholeheartedly agree that one of the major problem in Struthers was the over emphass on the leaders. They were alwys right, could never be questioned, acceptance/rejection from them equated to acceptance/rejection from God etc and that is totally unhealthy. It is also identified as one of the characteristics ofa cult. Reading some of the other non Struthers related posts on this forum I see the same thing being repeated within many other groups.

The thing is, many of the experiences people have about Struthers, only make sense from a Struthers mindset. I now also go to a healthy church and if I go forward for prayer and am prayed with by a member of the ministry tea and not the pastor I dont even give it a second thought. I know its not a delberate act on his part to shun me, punish me or in some way to make a statement to the rest of the church that Im not good enough because he hasnt prayed for me.

However in Struthers it was a deliberate statement. People were left standing at the front of the church like lemons whilst those praying, refused to pray for them and in many cases wouldnt let anyone else pray for them either. This was used as a form of control, a form of punishment even. I recall a situation where a young protege of Diana had done something she disapproved of. This guy who had once received all the attention now had this withdrawn until he presumably fell back into line. And its not just prayer I talking about but any kind of help, guidance or anything else that relates to the duty of a pastor.

Yeah when you were in Struthers you soon got to learn that if you got prayed for by leader X Y or Z you were seen to have been somehow accepted and if you didnt, you just wernt cutting the mustard with God. The leaders cultivated this and used it to control people. This is the basis of my complaint against Struthers, that they used the word of God and peoples genuine desire to reach out to God and grow deeper in him to control them. Perhaps this didnt come across too well in my previous post and it sounded like I was just sore because I didnt get prayed for by the leaders as often as I wouldve liked. Thanks for picking up on important point and helping to clarify the situation a bit more.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: May 04, 2011 08:05AM

Quote
seekingsusan
:
I think some of the posters here - in their complaints about SMC are still thinking a little within the same old mindset of the SMC and maybe still need to break free from it.
I think this kind of talk actually highlights a much bigger issue with the ethos behind the SMC - namely the unhealthy focus on persons or leaders."

This forum exists so that people can share comments and experiences relating to their time in SMC, in order to maybe help others who aren't sure what to do next, or wonder if they are the only one to experience hurt in this church. Therefore we have written comments about how we felt and were treated by the leaders. It's about exposing the false teaching and hypocrisy and favouritism which is going on there. We're not writing just because we felt offended or rejected or are full of self-pity, but we are stating facts of what happened and still happens.

I agree that there is an unhealthy focus on the leaders. That is the trap which people who join SMC fall into and then they think it's the norm and the correct way. But most people I know of who have left this church, gradually get rid of such a focus and, in a new setting, they relate to leaders/pastors in a healthy and totally free way, while still respecting them and listening to them, similar to what seekingsusan describes re another church (in above post).

Re Benny Hinn, I never heard any instruction at SMC to go to his large rallies as he never visited Scotland, but perhaps you are referring to England. There was no encouragement to attend or help at Steve Hill's rally when he came to Braehead Arena; his crusade hardly got a mention at SMC, despite the fact that the Pensacola revival was spoken of a lot at SMC and held up to be a truly wonderful and genuine revival; even some of the songs from it were used. Kathryn Kuhlman similarly was spoken about a lot in SMC: the story of her disastrous marriage to a married man and her losing the anointing as a result, was related again and again, generally in connection with the danger of marriage taking you out of God's call and will. And of course, Benny Hinn was very taken up with Kathryn Kuhlman. Yes, looks like there's a big focus on persons and leaders.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: May 06, 2011 06:02AM

Hi all

I would like to retract something I said on post 18 concerning an announcement by the Pastor in Cumbernauld church about a woman splitting up with her husband and that she had committed adultery, this was told to me and may well be wrong information. I apologise my mistake in not sticking to the facts of what I myself have experienced.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: SolaScriptura ()
Date: May 07, 2011 06:01PM

I am so glad that others have had the same experience that I have had! I am also conscious of people having left the faith altogether because they are fed up of not 'feeling' anything or not understanding simple concepts such why God doesnt do everything they ask, when they ask it! There is a sense that if God doesn't give you what you ask for then it's your own fault which is ridiculous and wrong in the extreme! Whereas I say there is a reason why the Lords Prayer says "your will be done"!

I went to this Church for years, the first time I went they prayed for me to be 'baptised in the holy spirit' this seemed to me to have more focus than being born again. It was mentioned in the same sentence be a Christian and be baptised. At first I didn't do anything but when they persisted I just copied them and believed I was speaking in tongues when actually it was just gibberish. I also spoke to a girl who the people didn't like and was told to stay away from her, when I refused I was ostracised. Eventually she was told to leave the Church and I left anyway.

I remember when I wasn't healed feeling sinful, when I didn't have what other's had 'spiritually' I felt useless and as if my relationship with God must have been rubbish. I have since realised I didn't want more of God but more of his Gifts, it wasn't for His glory but my own!

When my friend committed suicide I was told I shouldn't be hanging around with people like that anyway. That really hurt me because I knew I was not 'doing anything wrong' although recognising that we are all sinners, it was not a great sin to befriend someone who was struggling with life.

I pray that God would enlighten them through scripture! The bible is read and God can speak through that, I pray they would see through the hype and see that God is amazing just by being GOD! He is not amazing because he can make you 'drunk in the spirit', he amazing because he is Glorious! Yes he can heal but as Spurgeon says he's not a celestial bellhop to do our own will at out beck an call! We are the servants and he is God! I'm glad God found me again! All Praise to him , glory and honour forever! He is sovereign over all things and he will bring his Children to him through the preaching of the word, he even brings people to himself when people are in error! Our God is an awesome God!

I am a woman and totally disagree with woman ministers and even woman elders to be honest, woman can have other roles in Church and this compliments the men. I also don't think the holy spirit would EVER accuse you of sin in front of people, he can gently rebuke but the accuser is ALWAYS satan! I remember the minister ranting that some people didn't know the difference between the voice of God and the voice Satan and how this was shocking, the reason for this is that they were not told that God's voice is heard THROUGH SCRIPTURE and not your imagination and they were imagining their own desires and worrying that they were not doing it right! Encourage the reading of the word, not experience!

I have had to re-learn scripture and repent of demanding of God and doing things to 'fit in' to the Church! I praise God that his sovereign grace has led me home!

Thanks!

Sola!



Thanks!

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