I’ve mentioned the Shepherding Movement a few times, and lately have had a couple of request to explain something about what this movement was all about. Rob McAlpine‘s forthcoming book, Post-Charismatic contains a good overview of the movement as well as the Latter Rain and other charismatic movements… the book should be out shortly, but I can’t just link to it yet… so here goes.
In the early 1970s, four well-known charismatic leaders responded to a moral failure among charismatics in south Florida. Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Charles Simpson felt a need for personal accountability and covenanted together for this purpose, submitting their lives and ministries to one another. Ern Baxter, who had ministered with William Branham, was later added to the group and they became known as the “Ft. Lauderdale Five.” They formed Christian Growth Ministries in 1974, and in the movement that they began, the accountability they shared became an emphasis that all believers should submit to a “shepherd” in order to be discipled in the Christian life. Their prominence helped gain wide acceptance for their teaching, which included what was felt to be correctives to the charismatic movement at the time. Other charismatic leaders began submitting to the authority of the Ft. Lauderdale Five in what was known as “covenant relationships.” A network of cell groups was formed, with members submitting to a shepherd who in turn was submitted to one of the five or a representative who was submitted to one of the five. At its height, it was estimated that some 100,000 people were involved in this network in the USA. In conjunction with this pyramidal authority structure, the movement taught that every believer needed to be under a “spiritual covering” from a leader in authority over them. Other doctrines taught by the movements included echoes of Latter Rain theology, such as restorationism.
Full article here:
Cartoon used with permission by David Hayward. The Naked Pastor blog. Canada.
Christians around the world are critiquing Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s ByLaws, Membership Covenant, Statement of Faith and other documents on The Wartburg Watch blog. GBFSV is my former church and excommunicates any church members for being Bereans and having critical thinking skills. A middle-aged woman in finance, a doctor in his 70’s, and then me.
Todd Wilhelm, a U.S. citizen who is a Christian and lives and works in the United Arab Emirates, blogged about the problems at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley and their use of the authoritarian, heavy-Shepherding 9 Marks model of running a church. (The ONE Biblical mark of a ‘healthy church’ in the Bible – LOVE – didn’t make the list of 9 Marks.)
Todd Wilhelm’s Thou Art The Man blog article was also republished on The Wartburg Watch, here:
Darlene posted this on The Wartburg Watch about Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s Membership Covenant, ByLaws, Statement of Faith and other documents.
“By the way…reading the By Laws from your former church [Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley] alone (not even getting through the entire document) reminds me of being put in a stranglehold. Rigid power structure is what comes to mind. And what is it with not wanting people to attend often without committing to signing the membership covenant/contract? Something to the effect of….maybe you should just find another church to attend if all you want to do is come to our services. Very strange.”
Muff Potter commenting on The Wartburg Watch blog about Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s Membership Covenant and other authoritarian documents. “Holy you know what! That’s quite the manifesto they require you to sign onto. Tell me though, do they recruit many of the kids fresh out of Stanford [University]? Or are they just a lot of wind on their growth projections?”