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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: @peace ()
Date: November 11, 2006 06:47AM

This is why I have not posted, I didn't want to be scolded. You have shown me that this board is completely biased. You seem angry all the time when it comes to anyone from PC.
My input was from my heart, I'm sorry it wasn't deemed worthy. You continue to state maybe, and seems. I hope that changes because I truely feel you are very mistaken in most of your postings. But that's ok, this is your board and you control it.
God bless you

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: November 11, 2006 06:59AM

Anyone interested in learning about how people from Praise Chapel operate should pay close attention to the response from "@peace" above.

Note that when he or she is asked direct questions that could be easily answered by an open and friendly church, "@peace" attempts to not only ignore them, but place the blame on the board and its "angry" moderator.

But what "@peace" is doing is dishonest, withholding information and not answering.

This person would fit the description of a "troll."

he or she was here or was sent here with an agenda to subvert the board and bother members.

This again confirms the pattern of behavior as outlined by Hawk.

When someone expects meaningful information from Praise Chapel, they are likely to obfuscate and then claim they are being attacked, rather than responding directly as a normal church person would do.

Not very open, and Praise Chapel pastors once again, appear to have little if any meaningful accountability to the people that pay them and the church bills.

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Hawk ()
Date: November 11, 2006 07:58AM

Peace: The last time I answered one of your posts, I was very respectful and honest. If you somehow feel that I am trying to intimidate you and your desire it to jump on the blame game bandwagon as others have, then all I can say is that you a right to feel whatever you may feel.

As far as stating, “facts not rumors” I will present any and all information that I have, to the best of my ability and knowledge; and if such happens to be a rumor then I will state and identify it as such, exactly as I already have. I am not directing you as to what I think or request what you should say or not say, I think I deserve the same right.

I do not continue in any “attack” mode as you claim, but more and more the evidence seems to grow that all Praise Chapels are the exactly the same. Perhaps the only difference that I can tell is the individual personalities that exist between the pastors, but the methodology and implementation of their system appears exactly the same. Individuals come on this message board, representing themselves as leadership members of your church, and I look at not only their behavior patterns and attitudes, but they make the very same types of remarks I heard in the church I was at. They want to shut me up and I have not allowed them to do that, but that seems to bother you quite a bit doesn’t it?

I don’t know about any loving or nurturing PC, as evidenced by the viciousness of the attacks perpetrated by those claiming to be pastors and in leadership who have posted on this board, such as the same attitude, elitism, arrogance, and intimidation tactics as I encountered first hand at the PC I attended. And they are from OTHER Praise Chapel churches, NOT the one I was at. I am supposed to ignore this so that I may not offend anyone? Sorry but the truth is the truth and I will not ignore that. Why is it that they could not respect the rules of this board, remain civil and present a Christ-like attitude if your church is so loving and nurturing? If your church is so wonderful and on the up and up why is it the questions asked by the moderator were evaded and never answered? Instead, they attempt to use wolf-pack methodology in an attempt to intimidate me off this board. Obviously their desire it to silence me.. and for what reason if PC has nothing to hide?

If some other things I say are damaging and hurtful, that is due to the situation created by Praise Chapel in and of it self, and I will not accept your attempt to place the blame on me for that. I speak truthfully and honestly. I have already apologized for any offence some may have perceived by means of my sarcasm and satire. However, I am not going to sit by and change the way I think just because you or anyone else thinks I should.

The individual you stated as my “sparring partner” is a perfect example of the intimidation teqniques used at PC, and I did my best to bring that out so others could take a look at the elitist, totalitarian attitudes that are prevalent within all PC churches.

For pastor Greg to intervene is about the biggest joke on the planet as far as I am concerned. He is part of the system. Sorry, but if the mother church turns a blind eye to what supposedly subordinate pastors do… well let me put it this way. It would be like one of the Jewish prisoners in Auswitch going to the commandant of Buchenwald to ask him to intervene. Sure, he’ll fix the problem allright.

I really don’t care whether you chose to remain or not remain in your church. That is of no concern or any importance to me. My purpose here is to present the truth, and relay my experiences and knowledge of PC, and expose the things that go on in there. I am not here to persuade anyone, change their way of thinking, tell them what to say, or tell them what to do.

You claim that PC is not a cult. That is your opinion which you are perfectly entitled to. I hold the opposite opinion, and I contend that all the Praise Chapel churches, all of them are cults, and I offer evidence to reveal that truth.

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Frank Sumatra ()
Date: November 13, 2006 07:54AM

I do not believe Praise Chapel churches are a cult, although there may be a few pastors who have carried over or adopted cult-like behavior and/or practices, especially the ones that were formerly part of Wayman Mitchell's CFM. I personally know two former CFM pastors who left and took their churches into Praise Chapel. One recently pulled his church out of PC and has joined another Pentecostal denomination that is more middle of the road theologically speaking. He was a very hyper-fellowship pastor while in CFM and when he split from them he took a lot of that fellowship baggage with him. In many ways it was like Mitchell had his tentacles deeply imbedded in this pastor's ministry and his church. As time went on he did begin to "lighten up" for lack of a better way of putting it. I know this because when I saw him a couple years ago both he and his wife began to weep at the news that a couple he had sent out years ago to pioneer a CFM church had recently divorced after one of them fell into immorality. They were genuinely hurt and had no judgements on their lips and agreed with me that God indeed was not done with that person. This is NOT the kind of response either one of them would have given 10 years ago, much less 20 when they were deep in CFM. The times I visited his PC church were fairly balanced with a message of love compared to the constant judgement message he had preached in every sermon while a CFM pastor.

The other pastor is still in PC and he is nothing like the CFM indoctrinated guy I knew way back when. I listen to his messages on the web and there is none of this control issue garbage that is taught and practiced in CFM where every pastor is expected to micro-manage every convert with all the perfunctory over-officiousness that trickles down from Mitchell. This guy used to mirror Mitchell's every word! The man just preaches a strong Gospel message now without hammering everyone for more money and without attempting to control everyone in the pews. He teaches God's love now instead of a constant barrage of hateful venom. Folks are attracted to his church because he teaches the Whole Council of God instead of just a small portion of it. He has a church full of folks who don't go there to please that pastor and they don't go there because he let's them get away with sin. He calls a spade a spade and lets God be God and the people can be the people. He is just the messenger and his message is simple: We are all sinners in need of a savior and Jesus is that savior. We can't get to Heaven on our own merits in any event. It's a walk of faith and if we have true faith God's love will shine from our lives to light the path for others to follow. No hammering about tithes, no hammering about being there everytime the doors open and no hammering anyone from the pulpit if they slip and fall. He doesn't play games with people's lives. In short he is not an abusive pastor and he does not teach or practice cult doctrines. But he did not get that way over night. Nor did his assistant pastor who is also a former CFM pastor. These men have come a long way and they don't compromise.

In many ways these guys were so indoctrinated by what was hammered into them daily while amid CFM that it takes a bona fide miracle for them to grasp any sort of balance because of the out of round message they have been taught, and for them as pastors it's particularly difficult because of all the years that they themselves dispensed this lop-sided doctrine.

These three former CFM pastors are not involved in cult activity and they indeed recognize while with CFM they were part of a vicious manipulative machine that preyed on people in the church. I know they have repented and they remain in ministry to reach as many for the Kingdom of God today rather than for Mitchell's kingdom as they did in the past.

I have no clue as to any cult-like activity in other Praise Chapel churches, but I will say this much; If the pastor practices control techniques on the congregation in ANY church that pastor is practicing cult-like activity and that church is sadly embroiled in it. Until pastors take a stand to preach "the Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but The Truth", there will be cult-like activity in their churches. It's the TRUTH that sets people FREE - pastors and their congregations!

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Hawk ()
Date: November 14, 2006 07:57AM

Reading Frank's posting I do not doubt what he says with regard to his experiences, but I have problems with accepting that not all Praise Chapel's are a cult. I feel that many of them are, with some being less cult-like in nature than others, depending on the pastor.

Just what I experienced with some of the comments and spin made by others on this message board only serves to confirm what I feel to be true. It was like being in Praise Chapel all over again. To hear the same kinds of remarks that I've heard over and over in the church I was at, coupled with the same attitudes, that pretty well sums it up for me. But that is not all.

I have mentioned before numerous complaints made by church members and former member directly to the mother church. And, absolutely nothing was done about it. The individuals who made the complaints are told they are the problem, not the pastors. Then what is there left to determine other than they answer to no one, and are accountable to no one?

The mother church must have some form of control over individuals otherwise one of two elements are present. If pastors are at liberty to do as they please, without restrictions what is the limit to which they can go?

How bad must spiritual abuse go before something extreme happens? And when I say extreme, I'm talking about such incidents as JonesTown or Waco.

The first element would be that the mother church has nothing to do with the affairs of the individual churches and all are independant. Then why even have a mother church in the first place? Or, the second element would be that the mother church condones and/or supports such cult-like activity.

Also, I have friends who have left PC to another one, based on other's reports not all are cults, but then I've been told the same demands and other elements are present. In one instance there were three PC churches involved. There is something that just isn't right about all this.

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Frank Sumatra ()
Date: November 15, 2006 04:29PM

Well, Hawk I think a person could be burned in one church and then go away with the belief that all churches are all bad no matter what the denomination or religion. One has to consider the amount of control that comes from headquarters in any church in order to decide if they are all like the one that has problems. Most denominations have some leeway in how a pastor conducts his ministry within certain guidelnes, except the big denominations like the Catholic churches which are pretty much identical as far as doctrine and practice because everything comes from Rome. A lot of Baptist churches vary from one to another as do Assembly of God and Foursquare. Even Calvary Chapel varies from one area to another. In the beach cities of California casual wear is accepted without so much as a raised eyebrow but the more further inland one travels the more dyed in the wool the attitudes towards attire become, which is silly!

I have seen the uniformity in CFM churches and know it exists and has since the beginning because the founder and leader of that organization, Wayman Mitchell keeps a tight reign on all of the pastors. Individual pastors do not have the power to deviate from Mitchell's pattern in CFM.

I do not believe that Praise Chapel has that distinction even though there may be a degree of that type of control from the top down, I seriously doubt that it exists in their ranks. I just do not see anyone in that group with that kind of dictatorial leadership or the ability to carry it out. For one thing a great percentage of them came from CFM so they know all about the control issues and manipulation from Mitchell and none of them are gonna submit to that again from anybody. Perhaps the churches closer to home base are more apt to be in the direct control of the mother church, but at any rate there does seem to be some variation in emphasis on certain things and definitely there is some degree of personal preference among PC pastors as to what they major on.

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Hawk ()
Date: November 17, 2006 02:02AM

Frank, I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph, but still it doesn’t convince me completely with regard to some of the spin and attitudes as shown here, and these are from others in at least two different PC churches, and definitely not in the one I was at. Then why the similarities? Perhaps then as you say, the closer to the mother church then the more similarities would be evident. Is it possible then, for the sake of example, if there happened to be a Praise Chapel in Vermont, being far removed from the mother church, could it be totally different and have none of the elements that define a cult? Perhaps. But then neither are any safeguards present to prevent it from becoming a cult-church either.

Without proper education, and knowledge with regard to methods employed by cults and cult leaders, people very easily walk into these traps and are caught unaware.

Places that happen to be running cults are not going to come out and say, “oh yeah, we’re a cult alright. Come on join our cult, we’re pretty cool.” No, of course efforts are going to be made to conceal that fact. And members involved in cults are not going to be aware of that fact either. I think one needs to look below the surface and pay particular attention to certain behavior patters that would evidence this.

When I describe some of the instances that took place at the Praise Chapel I was at, there seems to be no dispute such events are consistent with that of a cult. Are all PC churches this extreme? No, I don’t think so. Members at other PC churches appear to distance themselves and their particular church from this one, and indicate theirs is different, or “one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch..” but much of the same attitudes and remarks remain consistent with what I experienced. And I wonder why is that?

This leads me to believe that PC in general seems to maintain a pressure and control not so much lording over the pastors as did Potters House Wayman O. Mitchell, but more so lording over the flock. However between the other churches, they appear to be more subtle about how they go about things. I would say one key thing to look for is called coercive persuasion, and it can be very subtle, and very low key.

Dr. Margaret Singer wrote:

[i:2262f7e727]Coercive psychological systems are behavioral change programs which use psychological force in a coercive way to cause the learning and adoption of an ideology or designated set of beliefs, ideas, attitudes, or behaviors. The essential strategy used by the operators of these programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate many different types of coercive influence, anxiety and stress-producing tactics over continuous periods of time.[/i:2262f7e727]

[i:2262f7e727]In such a program the subject is forced to adapt in a series of tiny "invisible" steps. Each tiny step is designed to be sufficiently small so the subjects will not notice the changes in themselves or identify the coercive nature of the processes being used. The subjects of these tactics do not become aware of the hidden organizational purpose of the coercive psychological program until much later, if ever. These tactics are usually applied in a group setting by well intentioned but deceived "friends and allies" of the victim. This keeps the victim from putting up the ego defenses we normally maintain in known adversarial situations.
The coercive psychological influence of these programs aim to overcome the individual's critical thinking abilities and free will - apart from any appeal to informed judgment. Victims gradually lose their ability to make independent decisions and exercise informed consent. Their critical thinking, defenses, cognitive processes, values, ideas, attitudes, conduct and ability to reason are undermined by a technological process rather than by meaningful free choice, rationality, or the inherent merit or value of the ideas or propositions being presented.[/i:2262f7e727]

Dr. Singer also wrote:

[i:2262f7e727]The current effort by cult apologists to deny thought reform exists is linked to earlier protective stances toward cults in which apologists attempted to deny the cults' active and deceptive recruitment practices, deny the massive social, psychological, financial, spiritual and other controls wielded by cult leaders and thus dismiss their often destructive consequences.

These earlier efforts to shield cults from criticism rest on a seeker theory of how people get into cults, which overlooks the active and deceptive tactics that most cults use to recruit and retain members. When bad things happened to followers of Jim Jones or David Koresh, the twisted logic of some apologists implied that these "seekers" found what they wanted, thus absolving the cult leader and his conduct.[/i:2262f7e727]

© 1994 M.T. Singer {The Cult Observer, Vol.11, No.6 (1994): 3-4.}

There does seem to be a few things in common I have experienced. The lack of proper safeguards, and these particular themes taken directly from the CFM Potters House:

Does this sound anything like Praise Chapel?

[b:2262f7e727]Bible schools, Church planting and discipleship[/b:2262f7e727]

The Fellowship rejects Bible schools as a vehicle for church planting. The following are a few reasons given for this:

1. Bible schools are claimed not to be biblical, and are viewed as a medieval institution left over from Catholicism, and are used in imitation of the world.

2. The church posits that Bible schools are unable to do the job of world evangelism. The world population is growing at a rate of seventy million people a year. That means that every day 194,444 people are added to the population, over and above those who die. The cost of training workers by traditional methods is prohibitive. Even if finances were available, the Bible school method is slow and inefficient that the church is not even able to keep pace with the rising population, let alone reach the world.

3. The Bible school isolates the man of God from practical experience, which is meant to come through the church. For most students, the school begins to take the place of church commitment and worship. This leads to bad habits of discipline and isolates them from the very people they are preparing to minister to.

4. All attempts to mass produce disciplines will ultimately fail. Men of God must be hand crafted.

5. The requirements of Bible schools eliminate many who God would use. The requirements of money, previous education, and age would have stopped Jesus and the twelve disciples.

6. The Bible school system puts the church on a standard of "mind" not "heart" rewarding wrong motives, and creating an elitist mentality of really having paid too high a price to reach the poor.

7. Bible Schools tend to put those who can't pastor into the role of pastor trainers.

8. The system builds into the church a clergy-laity mentality that denies the priesthood of the believer, and develops a mentality that some people need to be really committed, and others just need to be saved.

9. Bible schools rob the church of dignity it was meant to have in the preparing of workers and reaching a lost world.

10. They violate the indigenous principle.

11. Practical experience while pastoring, tied to regular Bible conferences is a more effective use of God's money.

12. Bible schools while not evil in themselves are not God's best method.

The above was taken from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia in re: Potters House Christian Fellowship. Similarities?

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: worshipGod ()
Date: November 20, 2006 05:19AM

I am a former "member" of Praise Chapel. I started going there when I was 14 years old and continued going until I was about 22. I know more about the church than most current members because of my previous level of involvement with this cult.

As a teenager I was very much encouraged (pressured) to join ministry. It was implied that if you did not join ministry you were not in the will of God. Other things that members were subtly pressured to do were to be at all services, never talk to any friends or associate with family that did not go to praise chapel. Also any other church activities such as Friday bible study, saturday prayer and weekday 5am prayer meetings were all but made optional, more like mandatory. Otherwise you were stepping out of the will of God.

After so many years the church that I was going to gave "birth" to another church that was a spanish ministry. This is were I began to see all the subtle manipulating ways of praise chapel. I quickly moved up in the ranks of ministry to becoming a new convert teacher, worship leader and leader of the worship ministry. I was also part of what was a lame excuse for a church board. As my pastor at the time said at one of our so called board meetings "This board meeting is to share ideas and help us lead the church in the right direction. I will listen to any suggestions but in the end only I will have the say as to what is done. I am the final and only authority in this church because that is the way God ordained me as the pastor." It was just a way of finding out about the churches problems which I will get more into detail later.

The other issues I also began to see were the ways that our mother church was constantly trying to lord over our church. This is another topic that I could go on and on about but I will stick with the topic at hand.

In our church we had a lot of guest pastors from other praise chapel churches that came to preach. The message for the most part was manipulative, judgemental and very contradictory to the word of God. They always stressed that "you have to listen to whatever your pastor says". It was as if the pastor was telling them the problems that the church was having.

Through being the worship leader we visited many churches and also were visited by many pastors. I easily met over 50 pastors from praise chapel and I can say that they all stand on the same thought of controlling their flock. They try and find out what the latest issues are among the members of the church by way of the church "leaders". They then then prepare a sermon accordingly about that specific issue that "could" be going on (i.e. gossip, slander, commitment to going to all church services, etc.). The church goers then assume that "God spoke to the pastor about what I am doing and I have to go to the altar and repent". When in reality it was a leader whom was told this issue in confidence to which he would forward the information to the pastor who would subsequently prepare the sermon on that topic. The success of a sermon was determined on how many people got up to go to the altar at the end of a sermon. This is a clear way of manipulating the people in the church and the way 99% of praise chapel pastors run their churches.

Being a spanish church and fluent in both English/Spanish I was the designated interpreter whenever we had a guest pastor that only spoke english. One day we had the President of all Praise Chapels in our church, Larry Neville, as I was interpreting he said something that I could almost not interpret because of then manipulative content and falsehood of his statement, he said "I believe that if anyone leaves praise chapel cf they will miss out on the will of God for their life and their eternal destiny."

This almost made me puke right up on the altar, of which I obviously did not but continued to interpret for this so called president. It was all this build up that eventually led me to leave praise chapel and go to bible college under the leadership of Jack Hayford. When I announced this in my church some of the leadership actually came and told me that I would miss out on God's will for going to another church and that Church on the Way would not have the same anointing that praise chapel had.

I left on good terms despite all the negative responses that I received from other pastors but to this day it still turns my stomach when somebody says those two words "praise chapel". I could write a book from all my experiences and all the inside meetings with the leadership of praise chapel that I participated in but for now all I say is this.

Praise Chapel is most definitely a cult from the Top down...

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Hawk ()
Date: November 21, 2006 08:59AM

Finally a fresh and honest perspective without all the spin, smokescreen and false claims that PC is not a cult. Here we have another former member, who tells his experiences at PC that are chillingly similar to what I encountered. I estimate that this particular PC mentioned is at least 100 miles away from the one I was at, yet I see the same exact manipulation, mind games and the keeping of members in a perpetual state of guilt. Which is for no legitimate reason other than to maintain control and lord over the flock. So much for the theory that all Praise Chapels are not the same, and the further away from the mother church the less under the control of the Mother Church. Now that I think about it more, the more preposterous that claim actually is. Of course the Mother Church controls everything.

When I left, it was neither on good terms or bad, I just left. I did have a conversation with a pastor of another Praise Chapel, and all he did was try to distance the church from the goings on of the pastor and leadership. That is their usual standard of course, is to try and lay blame elsewhere. One problem that does remain however, in my case and that of a few friends is that once a person manages to escape from PC, they do not want to let you go. They still continue to guilt trip in an effort to get me to return as evidenced by their latest message to me, stating that, “what I did was not right,” meaning my leaving the church. And now, since I am no longer at the church that “God led me to,” something terrible may happen to me because I’m out of God’s will, and out from under the covering. What a big lie!

What I would like to know is exactly where the money goes, and if not supported by the lower churches how does the Mother Church maintain itself? Secondly, I would like a further detailed explanation of the “Headship Doctrine.” I estimate that it was taken directly from Potter’s House, much like everything else about Praise Chapel.

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Praise chapel...a cult?
Posted by: Frank Sumatra ()
Date: November 22, 2006 04:05AM

Hawk, I gave you a "fresh and honest perspective" about two Praise Chapel churches and the three pastors there I know who were all once part of CFM. I told you that the churches are not like what you have experienced. I knew these guys when they were in CFM and the difference in them now since they are no longer part of Mitchell's cult is as extreme as daylight and dark!

One of these churches is in So CA about 90 miles from L.A. and the other one is in AZ a little over 100 miles from Prescott. These pastors don't practice the manipulation tactics they once did, which seems to be the stuff you experienced in PC at the churches you went to. I am not taking up for Praise Chapel as a denomination nor am I defending them, but I will stand and tell you that these things you mention aren't going on in the ones I cited, nor by the pastors I know. Just to be clear, one of the PC churches I mentioned pulled his church out of that denomination awhile back and has since joined another Pentecostal group. His church is the same as it was, just different affiliation and none of the manipulative garbage from his CFM days in his ministry.

You cannot dismiss my statements based on a reply by someone else who experienced some bad stuff in a PC somewhere. That doesn't mean they are all the same, because the truth of the matter is, they are not. PC doesn't have a powerful leader like Mitchell to maintain the uniformity that CFM has. They simply do not have the resources and the former CFM pastors who are now part of PC simply will not subscribe to that measure of control. This 'headship' thing doesn't seem to be a big part of PC because the churches I know of are very independant! The PC I know of in AZ is very self-contained and very self sufficient. It's a BIG church, with a LOT of property (paid for!) a lot of members (there was talk of running 3 AM services on Sundays awhile back) and for the record one man from a distant state I know personally who was a former CFM pastor was asked to join their full time ministry team on staff declined the offer and he has not been abused, trashed, defamed, spoken ill of in any way nor has anyone parted fellowship or friendship with him over it. What you say just does not wash. It's unfair and just plain WRONG!

For the record Mitchell didn't 'invent' the Headship Doctrine. It's nothing new. Do a Google search on the Shepherding Movement / Discipleship / Headship doctrine etc. There are LOTS of informative websites out there that will clue you in as to the roots, origins and practices etc.

If nothing else I believe you should perhaps do a little checking around about Praise Chapel churches. I think you will find that not all of them subscribe to the abuse and control issues you say you experienced in the ones you attended. Not trying to draw you back into PC because personally I don't believe in denominations. But if one works for you, by all means go there. If not go elsewhere, or do something else with your Sunday.

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