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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: January 05, 2011 12:34AM

Anon201062 at least has the courage to come onto this forum and speak up for his church - which is more than any of the Struthers leaders have done. If they took a more active role (or perhaps that should be "leadership") in accounting for the more bizzare parts of their conduct then loyal and naive members like Anon201062 would not have to invent excuses for them and blame honest people like Covlass for testifying to things that the leadership know are true and did happen not only to her but, as Treetop has indicated and I confirm, numerous other people.

So to show the true leadership (that the Struthers members are continually told is to be recognised and unquestioned) perhaps we could see an act of leadership here. Could the leader of the Struthers Cumbernauld Church identified in this forum in the Covlass story please confirm the facts of the case.

Did you forbid Covlass from contact with her friend, and then forbid her from establishing any other friendships with people in your church?

Did you accuse Covlass of hiding serious sin on the basis of no evidence of its existence other than your discernment alone?

Have you ever physically removed a child from your meeting hall?

Have you ever instructed people, in public or private, to cease contact with people who have left your church but remained professing Christians?


Presumably you are not ashamed of these actions or seeking to hide your conduct from the public or others within Struthers Churches. Presumably too you do not want well meaning but poorly informed Struthers members who think they are doing good to come onto this forum and claim you and your colleagues would never do any of these things.

So Cumbernauld Struthers leader - never mind what people will think or how telling the truth will make you look - if you believe you have followed God's will in these things (to quote the late Mr Black) "stand to your feet and say so".

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: January 05, 2011 03:07AM

RE" Did you accuse Covlass of hiding serious sin on the basis of no evidence of its existence other than your discernment alone?"


This point by Chesterk55 illustrates what i consider a real moral issue that illustrates the harmful and selfish behaviour at play behind an awful lot of
"propheetic word/ discernment" that goes in in charismatic groups.

Here is the issue. A person may feel he/she has discerned what may or may not be a "word for the Lord". Such persons are often encouraged to basically take what is a "risk of faith". One gets an 'unction. THis could be to take some personal course of action that ONLY affects themselves- say change a job, visit someone, change job, etc. On the other hand it could be to say something in public, either to a group - or - more dangerously - to a certain individual.

Now the person who receives the "unction" will be keen to nurture their walk with the lord, submit themselves to him, be an "obedient servant" and so on.
They basically want to "deepen" their "walk with the lord".

Now if the only positive or negative risks on carrying out the unction are on the "hearer" then fine. No problem. But time and time again it turns out that such unctions are to tell ANOTHER person what the hearer thinks the lord is saying. At this point the risk of the "leap of faith" being taken be the possibly "unctioned" becomes a risk that is transferred to the party being "prophesied" "discerned".

The person who then devoutly passes on such "words form the lord" or "discernments" basically makes a someone else a potential guinea pic and even victim in someone elses "faith journey".

And as is so often the case when things go wrong. There is very little restraint on what constitutes a real discernment other than what "sounds" like a typical prophecy coming from that particular church. It all becomes a matter of style over substance, very often linked to WHO is making the discernment rather than WHAT is being said.


And of course what happens in the end is that it is the people who have exhibited the most "faith" in carrying out their "inner voice" with regard to passing on their "discernment" to others that eventually rise to the top.

And then they get to be more and more bold with their discernments, more and more confident these "words from the lord" are the real thing. ( of course they repress any doubts or scepticisms very often - doubt is such a major sin after all .... ) that they gradually begin to reject any critiques.

And what is the result a church of the "so far unharmed" along with a steady stream of victims of these faith games leaving the church in dismay.

And naturally the mere principle of self-selection and cognitive bias means that the congregation amens everything that their anointed leader says.

This reminds me of a quote i heard once:

"The world is full of cocksure idiots and wise men in doubt."

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: January 07, 2011 08:04AM

Treetop made a valid point when he said "The original question in this topic was a request for more information about Struthers Memorial Church and whether or not it is a cult."

Ive read other articles on this site and others regarding what constitues a cult or the warning signs of destructive churches. I think that through the personal stories and comments made by myself and others it would be safe to say that Struthers Memorial Church is certainly a point for major concern. Some of the major red lights of cultish behaviour as I understand them are set out here. I dont claim this to be an exhaustive list, nor do I claim to be an expert.

Some of the worrying signs are an elitest attitude of the group and the fact that other Christian groups are seen at best as inferior and at worst as 'of the devil'. The leadership is seen as infalliable and there are no menas of external accountabilty. Also any questioning of the leaders actions and motives is seen as doubting God and sinful. All new leaders ar chosen by the current leaders and come from within the group. It is very rare that other ministers from outside of the group are welcomed on to the platform to preach, if this happens at all.

In addition to this members lives are controlled, often with the fear that they will not be 'good enough for God' or will be banned from the group if they are not seen to be complying with the wishes of the leadership. As leaving the group is seen as leaving God, then walking away voluntarily or being banned by the leaders can be seen as falling out of favour with God. As it is drummed into members that other churches don't quite hit the mark of Gods expected standard, even attending a different church can cause confusion and upset. Then add to this the trauma of being rejected by friends and in some cases family because you are no longer a member.

This, as I said is a genral overview of cultic/destructive church behavioural patterns as I understand it. I would certainly be able to point to at least one example either from personal experience or from the accounts of memebrs of this forum have written, that link Struthers Church to every point made here.

Treetop also spoke of the number of people who suffer from mental illness in Struthers church. I suggest its no wonder when you consider these points. I just have two question to ask of Struthers leaders with regard to mental health issues. What is your viewpoint of it? Do you think it is a result of someone who is not walking according to Gods will, or would you say it is it down to demonic activity or some thing else? Secondly how do you deal with people who are depressed? My personal experience when I was very distressed and asked for help was coldhearted and to be told that if my pastor gave me any sympathy it would not help me but if I didnt lke what i was hearing I could leave. Is that the normal approach to people in distress I wonder. If it is then perhaps the leadership should seriously invest in formal training in counselling techniques. I say this not as sarcasm but as a serious suggestion in order to avoid further pain to those who are suffering with emotional issues

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 08, 2011 12:29AM

There are a number of comments I would like to make, the first of which is that anon201062 seems to have gone quiet. Seems a bit of a shame, but I can understand how difficult it is to speak up when you feel outnumbered by people with a different view.

I would take courage however, anon201062. One of the things you said (about peole sharing a flat) led to CovLass accepting your version of events, so it is clear that people are not simply pushing a point without thinking, they are willing to listen and take into acocunt your comments. You may well get other points over, so why not give it a go?

The other thing is that you don't need to be outnumbered however. Your original post said that "for everyone that has an issue with the work god is doing there I can find 50 who have been set free, healed or are finding a freedom in god that is a result of the work the leadership has done, and the work that god is doing in that place."

Well, if that is the case, why not get some of them to contribue? I count 7 people on this forum who have "had an issue" with Struthers so, by your arithmentic, that means you could find 350 who can testify to the great work. Can you not get some of them to comment here? I would love to hear what people actually believe.

One other thing I would like to follow up. Once again, this is a comment by Anon201062, but I am not trying to get at any individual, I am just trying to understand what Struthers believes. The comment is, "I have never known the leaders to be wrong."

OK, let's accept that. The question is, how WOULD you know if the leaders were wrong? What is the process you go through after hearing a sermon to decide whether it is another example of the leaders being right or if this might be the first time ever that they are wrong? If it is possible to judge that something is right, there must be a process and ther possiblity of a different answer. If you take the "abomination sermon" quoted earlier, how do you know that is right or wrong? The Emperor's New Clothes methodology perhaps?

Sorry, but as Hugh Black used to say, "They try to get off the hook but, no matter how much they wriggle, there is no way off that hook, and I don't let them off the hook." Seems to me that if any member cannot inicate how they would know some "word of discernment" was wrong, then they equally cannot know it is right.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: January 08, 2011 02:42AM

Quote
ThePetitor

OK, let's accept that. The question is, how WOULD you know if the leaders were wrong? What is the process you go through after hearing a sermon to decide whether it is another example of the leaders being right or if this might be the first time ever that they are wrong?

To be fair to anon201062, I suspect that by "I have never known the leaders to be wrong” he/she just means “wrong" in HIS opinion. Everyone of us has to come to their own conclusions as to what is wrong or right. One may apply different criteria as to how such a judgement is to be made, but its clear that anon201062 means to say that he/she simply hasnt ( up to now ) found her/himself in DISAGREEMENT with anything said by any of the leaders. Which is fair enough really.

ThePetitor seems to be wanting to get into some kind of epistemological discussion here as to how one can “know” anything. This is always going to be some mishmash debate as to the
usefullness or veracity of ones personal experience, gut feeling etc, coupled with the place for authority, expertise, scripture, interpretation and so on. And naturally a Struthers apologist is going to add copious anocdotal “testimony” along the lines of “before I joines Struthers i had problem X, someone in Struthers made, or helped me make X go away, ergo I should devote myself to following Struthers leadership unquestioningly.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: January 08, 2011 06:54AM

Id just like to ask one question regarding whether anon or any other Struthers member has ever found the leaders to be wrong. Is it actually conceivable that any of the Struthers leadership COULD ever be wrong? One of my earliest experiences of being a part of the Struthers church was that the leaders are never wrong. Even if they appear to be wrong then they are actually right because they are privvy to some extra special anointing or knowledge.

One of the original points made by Clive was about his concerns of the unquestioned obedience given to and expected by leaders of SMC. A church that requires its members to blindly follow what the leaders say and not ask questions should in my opinion should set of huge alarm bells. Anon201062 says he has been a member of Struthers for 20+ years and can say that he has never known a leader to be wrong with regard to spiritual/pastoral matters. I wonder in this time if he has ever questioned something he heard, either in his own mind, with other Struthers Church members or with a leader themselves? This is not meant as a dig at anon201062, as I have genuine respect for the fact that he came here and spoke up, something none of the Struthers Church leaders have yet to do.

I know that for a time I tried to silence the doubts and questions I had. Even when I knew that what was said was 100% wrong I attempted mental gymnastics as I attempted to fall in line with the ethos that the leader is always right, especially as the other options were to leave voluntarilyor be banned.

On the latigo214 site there is a page that contains quotes from a sermon preached by an SMC leader on questioning. In it she says "Have you ever noticed in scripture how many questions the enemy asks ? He's always questioning... And so he questions in your mind. So he brings a questioning – its almost like .. a questioning spirit. ." [www.latigo214.info]

Do Struthers leaders really believe and teach that to ask questions of them is to be in collusion with satan? If this is the case then I suggest there is little wonder that people who want to be a part of SMC would ever (admit to) entaertaining thoughhts that the leadership may be in error.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 08, 2011 01:57PM

Quote
seekingsusan


ThePetitor seems to be wanting to get into some kind of epistemological discussion here as to how one can “know” anything.

Fair point, (and a a brilliant explanation of how we might make a decision by the way!) I can see how we could get distracted into that, but my intention was more just to ask whether a judgement is really being made at all - not so much HOW do we/people in Struthers make a judgement, more DO people in Struthers actually make a judgement at all?

CovLass has picked this up by asking COULD the leaders ever be wrong. I guess that is what I was trying to say.

My experience was the same - that I tried to quosh any doubts because the message was that the leaders were always right. I was certainly personally told that questioning was wrong, so ended up in a position that whether I asked questions or not was a condition of my continued active membership.

That really creates a new question - is accepting that the leaders are always right an important part of active membership of Struthers? If so, then I guess you would expect all active members to say the leaders are always right, but it doesn't really tell you anything about whether thery are right, just that they are following the formula.

As you said SeekingSusan
"The world is full of cocksure idiots and wise men in doubt."

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Treetop ()
Date: January 10, 2011 03:35AM

It seems that most posters on the forum here have questions they genuinely want answered, rather than just expressing criticism. Many of the questions asked on Latigo214's site [[url=http://latigo214.info]www.latigo214.info[/url]] seem to get at the issue of 'biblical teaching' compared to 'church practices.'

"The church has no "policies" as such other than biblical teachings. " Anon201062


It is entirely correct to have biblical teachings as the basis of a christian church and most Struthers members testify they are trying to follow God's Word faithfully.

However, it is alarming if no formal policies or Code of Practice exist on, for example, Child Protection – or if they do that leaders / members seem unaware of them. After all, some biblical teachings (such as child discipline & tithing) are ambiguous, so basing them on the Bible can result in many different interpretations. There's nothing about policies etc on any of Struthers' websites, other than a very basic statement of faith.

Can anyone tell me if this lack of clarity about statements of belief and expected practises of church members is associated with cultish groups?

It's almost like
* they try to draw you in first with promises of freedom ("all you have to do is follow God's Word from the Bible"),
* then gradually tie you up in expected behaviours as you become more involved ("your growth depends on agreeing with everything the leaders tell you") ,
* until in the end, in your mind, you're trapped ("if I leave then everyone will think I'm following a lower pathway").

Can any Struthers member (current or ex) confirm if a leader went over the church policies and expectations of members BEFORE they became a member?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: January 11, 2011 03:40AM

Treetop

You hit the nail on the head, thats exactly how it was for me. I brought into the promise that I would only find true freedom if I joined Struthers Church. Then only after I had moved to Scotland I began to get the message that the leaders should be obeyed and that certain things were expected. When what they asked was way off, I felt or was made to feel that if I left I was somehow walking away from the promised freedom I could have in God into a lesser spiritual walk. Yet with retrospect I have been a Christian for 24 years and I had never felt so bound and restricted in my faith and towards God as I did in the time I went to Struthers Church.

Regarding membership, maybe Im not the best person to ask as I wasnt there that long. However Anon201062 said that they didnt have a set membership like you would have if you became a member say of the Assemblies of God church. Therefore I assume that there is no detailed staement of faith such as they have. I have certainly not seen nor heard of one.

With regard to the rules/policies/code of behaviour or however one would refer to that. I have never ben given a copy or told we believe this that or the other, either formally or informally by any of the leaders. Yes we all have the bible as a guide for Christian living, but with regard to the specific things they believe such as not dying your hair, not eating black pudding, not drinking any alcohol at all, not watching television etc, well I picked that up either through various Struthers members telling me it was sinful to dye my hair etc or through messages such as the abomination sermon highlighted on the latigo site. Just to note I wasnt at the church when that message was preached but heard many of that style, suddenly hitting you with how 'sinful' a certain act was when you had no previous knowledge it was even unacceptable, let alone having been told it was an abomination to God.

However Im not sure if there are any such statements of faith in existance. Im pretty sure they dont have a formal membership and thats fair enough however it would be helpful if they could lay out what they do believe and why. Perhaps such a document would help to ensure al the leaders were singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak and would serve to hold them accountable



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/2011 03:42AM by CovLass.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 11, 2011 06:21AM

Hi all, seems that's the point, isn't it. If there were actually no rules at all, I guess that might be difficult to argue with, but there are rules, or at least expectations and "advice" which includes public bullying.

So, if there are rules - no alcohol, no TV other than the news (and I remember a sermon saying that a TV wasn't necessary for that, you could always listen to the radio); females must have theri head covered (Oops, sorry, that WAS an irrevocable rule - it has not been revoked), where are they written down? Is it not reasonable to tell people what they are getting into?

Also, what's the point of all these rules? Where is it getting them? Are people actually filled with joy? I was in Struthers for a number of years, and I don't remember anyone showing much joy. In private, all other than the fresh young people were frustrated and confused.

One other big question is why do they isolate themselves? The "Great Commision" is to "Go into all the world, preaching the Gospel..." and Jesus of course spent his doing things like having meals with tax collectors and sinners. Well, here's an invitation. I will happily go out for a meal with an individual from Struthers - and I will even pay. Any takers for a meal with a sinner, or is that not allowed?

I think we now have at least 2 questions for anyone who was or is involved with Struthers to answer.

1) As Treetop says - Can any Struthers member (current or ex) confirm if a leader went over the church policies and expectations of members BEFORE they became a member?

2) Did you, as a member of Struthers, feel free or (to quote CovLass) had you "never felt so bound and restricted in my faith and towards God as I did in the time I went to Struthers Church"


My answers are:
1) No
2) I felt totally bound, not free, both during my time and for years afterwards.


Any more questions?

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