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Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Date: May 28, 2010 09:28AM

I was previously a member of a church led by the Houtsmas, and it has been a difficult journey to recover from that experience. If by my posting, I can spare someone else that trauma, I'm happy to do that.

The cultic and spiritually abusive practices of this group are documented in Ron Enroth's book, Recovering from Churches that Abuse (Chapter 4): []

The Houtsmas (Roger, Janice, David, Nathan)
Pastor H = Roger V. Houtsma, at that time, senior pastor of Marin Christian Life Church in Novato, California. (That church is now New Life Christian Center and has a different pastor; whether or not it's still spiritually abusive is unclear. Roger Houtsma, his wife and sons now lead Northside Family Worship Center near Atlanta, Georgia. When the Houtsmas moved to Georgia, many of the "old faithfuls" followed them across the country. This group has multiple Bible colleges, both in the US and in other countries.)

Here's another link about this group: []

Links related to the Houtsmas:

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Date: January 25, 2011 04:34AM

I have received some private messages regarding these churches and wanted to add some additional details.

First, if you are attending one of these churches (or any other church and have some concerns), I would recommend reading
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen. See if the book describes any of your experiences.

Also, I'd strongly suggest looking at various lists of characteristics of cults. Note that most of the characteristics are NOT about doctrine but about the system and behavior of the group. Here's a good link: []

Nonetheless, the Houtsmas do teach things that are outside what is generally considered orthodox Christian belief. For example, they borrow heavily from Latter Rain teachings (especially George Warnock). If you want to do your own research and learn about these teachings, put some of these terms into your search engine: Latter Rain, Kansas City Prophets, Paul Cain, Manifest Sons of God, Kingdom Now Theology, Joel's Army, George Warnock. They believe in sinless perfection, i.e., that Christians can (and should) reach a state on earth where they no longer sin and have achieved perfection.

I hope that is helpful to someone.

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 25, 2011 10:31PM

That site from prem rawat is one of the best sites for someone to visit when trying to learn whether a group is healthy or not.

The section on love bombing includes flattery.

I would just like to confess that love bombing and flattery, when skillfully done, are not at all obvious to the target.

For years I thought of flattery as something that would be easy to detect, something like what we see in comedy routines on TV or in the movies, where a story is set up so that the audience is intended to recognize that someone else is being flattered.

Will tell you, the reader, that I have been on the receiving end of flattery, and did not recognize it at all for what it was.

Successful love bombing and flattery perfectly match up with your own blind spots and biases. They will be invisible and will make you feel wonderful or at least feel hopeful or relieved.

In my case, I felt like a failure and was told I had a special destiny. That personal aspects that I considered faults or flaws were actually signs that I had special talents, and was meant for a special destiny.

What this did was make me all the more dependent on the person who was doing the flattery.

Another form of flattery is to identify whether someone is ambitious or fed up with his or her current job and to hint to them that they have a special vocation to join the ministry. A leader may hint that you are a potential successor.

A very effective kind of love bombing or flattery is to tell you that you have a special destiny and then either tell you directly not to divulge it to anyone else, not even your spouse, or have it be the kind of thing that you must not think too much about, for fear of your being egotistical and then no longer worthy of this special destiny that you are told you have but are then told you must not think about, lest you become unworthy of it--a perfect recipe for a catch 22.

Later you may find out that many other persons were told the exact same thing and also, like you, told to keep it secret.

My being afraid to think much about this alleged special destiny of mine kept me from thinking deeply enough to

1) wonder why I was told something that would be guaranteed to inflame my ego and derail up my prayer life

2) By not thinking about this, I never imagined that the minister who love bombed me was getting a big ego kick for himself by hetzing me up

3) That this meant I felt more isolated from my pals, dared not tell them and thus become all the more dependent on the minister who had flattered me in this way.

That friends, is how love bombing and flattery actually work. When administered by an expert, love bombing and flattery are forms of seduction that are tailored to your hopes, fears and to your own blind spots. You wont recognize it at the time and (heavy sigh) it'll make you feel good.

THe way to test this is- pay attention to the way the flattery and love bombing generate inner turmoil. Paying attention to other non flattering relationships and work will be difficult. And...this inner turmoil will mess up prayer life.

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Date: February 22, 2011 06:47AM

I don't want to hijack this topic in anyway, but I have added a new topic since this church has changed its name again. That topic can be found here:

I'm also pasting that particular content here in case anyone comes looking for information on Northside Family Worship Center.

Warning! Northside Family Worship Center in Cumming Georgia is now called Eastgate Church []. My concern is Roger and David continue to try and distance themselves from a long history of church problems. As a 15 year member of their church in Novato - Marin Christian Life Church - I witnessed first hand the destruction their leadership and doctrine had on people's lives. During my time at their church, there were several significant church splits. These splits were not just a few disgruntled members leaving over doctrinal differences, but associate pastors, board members and key church leaders leaving.

Here's a brief list of church splits I witnessed and my perspective of the key issues:
1987 Associate Pastor Mike Horn and large group of congregants leave. Issues: unsure as I was not connected to this group of people.

1989 Key members and financial contributors Tripp & Barbara Curtis leave. Issues: alleged impropriety by one of Roger Houtsma's sons, false doctrine, and nepotism.

1992 Ron Enroth's Churches that Abuse book (read online for free: []) comes out and causes huge uproar in the church as an anonymous couple name Marin Christian Life as a destructive church in chapter 4. Several sermons, prophecies, and prayer meetings are aimed at "walking in the light" and how God doesn't recognize "anonymous" because they can't walk in the light. Book is dismissed and alleged sources slandered for their part in the book.

1995 Associate Pastor David Mackay and a large group of congregants leave. Note: Pastor David was a very well loved pastor. He was co-pastor with Roger and traveled overseas to participate in many of Roger's "crusades." Issues: Roger Houtsma's leadership, control, narcissism, and nepotism.

1999 Long time board members, financial contributors, and World Outreach Crusade Directors Peter Omran & Troy Taylor leave along with a large group of congregants. Issues: Financial impropriety, false doctrine, plagiarism, and nepotism.

2001 Largest church split ever and several hundred people leave over the course of a year including associate pastors, worship leader, choir director, and the bookeeper for both the church and Roger Houtsma's World Outreach Ministry. Issues: immorality, financial impropriety, false doctrine, and nepotism. This split was the result of allegations Roger's son Nathan, the pastor of King of Kings Church in Chico, CA was involved with a 17 year old girl. He was married at the time. There was an investigation into the extent of the involvement with the minor, but no charges were ever brought. The Assemblies of God investigated, but certain ministers let their credentials lapse so no disciplinary action was able to be brought. During this same time, the bookeeper also presented a long list of financial allegations to the church board and the Assemblies of God. Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma, and Greg Mervich (the Christian Life School Principal) all received large severance packages and moved to Georgia with their families and a small number of board members and congregants. The church in Chico eventually closed its doors.

I bring this history to light because its important to understand where church leaders come from and what they have left behind. Anyone currently or considering involvement at Eastgate should review this history carefully. The "fruit" or results of the Houtsma's ministry/leadership has been a long history of splits, divisions, fleeing co-pastors, congregants and key leaders, and closed ministries.

Another concern I have is with regards to this specific name change. One of the Houtsma's core teachings was around the glory of God and how God would raise an end time generation (Elijah Company / Tithe Company) who would usher in God's glory. Eastgate states on their home page that this new name comes from Ezekiel 43:4 "The LORD's glory came into the temple through the east gate" (God's Word Translation 1995). In a recent blog post by Senior Pastor, David Houtsma he writes "OK, I admit it. I have a vision to be the most influential church on the block....." []. While God's glory and "being the most influential church on the block" sound enticing to Christians who want to live a radical life and change the world, these emphasis stem from heretical doctrine and often lead to control, manipulation, and unhealthy community. Please see Roger Houtsma's personal view on the Latter Rain movement here: []. Even though the Assemblies of God denounced it as a heretical move, Roger never does the same. He espouses the awesome nature of this "revival" and attributes any problems to leaders without character.

I hope this will help anyone currently attending or considering attendance at Eastgate church in Cumming Georgia.

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Date: February 22, 2011 07:38AM

As noted in another posting, Northside Family Worship Center has changed its name to Eastgate Church. For more details, see this posting: []

I also want to highlight some connections between Northside/Eastgate and New Life Christian Center (formerly, Marin Christian Life Church). Both churches are run by relatives of the Houtsma family.

On staff at Eastgate Church (formerly Northside) in Cumming, Georgia:
-David and Robin Houtsma, senior pastors
-Roger and Janice Houtsma, associate pastors--parents of David Houtsma
-Jason and Alisha Ballew, youth pastors—Jason is Robin’s brother.

On staff at New Life Christian Center (formerly Marin Christian Life Church) in Novato, California:
-Caleb and Rachel Klinge, senior pastors—Rachel is Roger and Janice’s niece (and David’s cousin).
-Tony and Sonya Martinez, children’s pastors—Sonya is Rachel’s cousin (and Roger and Janice’s niece and David’s cousin).

Is it wrong for family members to be in ministry together? No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. However, there’s a reason that most companies prohibit family members from supervising one another. It makes meaningful accountability difficult. Loyalty to family can easily cloud judgment. This has happened with this family, on numerous occasions.

Another note: New Life Christian Center sent out a pastor and members to plant another, associated church in Sonoma, California. The name of this church is Lighthouse Christian Church, and the pastor is Steven Reyes. []

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: fredjackson ()
Date: March 03, 2011 11:48PM

Sorry to hear about your past experience. I attend Eastgate. I don't see the things you reference about being practiced.

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: just4life ()
Date: March 11, 2011 02:33AM

I agree with FredJackson.

I am not one for entering these online posts as they are more of a waste of time, but when I see a young girl with tears in her eyes accept Christ in her heart.. come on this is what we are supposed to be doing to bring the lost to Christ and not bring out dirty laundry..
John 8:7

I have been to a number of churches and at last a church that has life in its praise and worship and Gods word is preached with truth.

Its a sad day when " fellow Christians" have such bitterness in their hearts,

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 11, 2011 02:36AM

fredjackson and just4life:

Since you both are well-acquainted with the church you should easily be able to answer these questions.

Is the church democratically governed through an elected board that serves fixed terms according to its bylaws?

Is their an annual budget, which discloses in detail all salaries, compensation and expenses paid out from church funds?

Can the pastor be fired by the board and is his salary set by the board?

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: just4life ()
Date: March 11, 2011 02:55AM


Those are very good questions. As an occasional visitor I don't know the answer but will look into this.

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Re: Roger Houtsma, David Houtsma (Northside Family Worship Center, MCLC)
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 11, 2011 03:54AM


These are very basic questions regarding church accountability and financial transparency.

Most Protestant churches have these safeguards along with denominational oversight and educational requirements for staff and pastors.

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