A closer look at shepherding – Cont.

The shepherding movement came as a result of the Jesus People or Jesus Movement. The Jesus Movement was a movement that formed as a result of the Hippies in the 60’s realising that there was more to life than just freedom, and turned to the Lord.
A group of men came together to bring a balanced view to this movement. This was due to the chaos of the Fort Lauderdale Ministry. This group of men thought it wise to create a system where they would mutually submit themselves to one another. This would be a system of accountability. When they had done this they reporting having a supernatural experience that bound their ministries together for life. The members of this group where:

  • Derek Prince,
  • Don Basham,
  • Bob Mumford
  • Charles Simpson

Later on Ern Baxter joined this group and they became known as the “The Fort Lauderdale Five.”
Their teachings where centred on authority, submission and discipleship. They entered a new doctrine into the church where a person was to submit to another person. It was the disciple under the pastor and the pastor under the shepherd. All major life decisions where to be submitted to this person, or mentor. This system might sound nice but it created the problem of the individual Christian having two Masters. The one being man and the other being Jesus Christ or God. Another way of looking at it could be to say that Jesus was the shepherd over the flock and within the flock there was another shepherd that shepherded you personally. What happened though was that given enough time the personal shepherd gained more and more authority over the life of the one being shepherded and Christ lost more and more of His authority in our lives.
In light of the above it begins to make sense why there are so many people out there that are willing to defend a spiritual leader without question. For instance when I point out errors in Rob Rufus’s doctrine people will tell me to stop persecuting a man of God. It is similar that when a false prophecy is pointed out lets say in the case of Bennie Hinn, all his followers will call me a heresy hunter, or tell me to stop blaspheming the Holy Spirit. They never once will stop and say, “hang on a minute, that prophecy was false” or take a look at the bible to see what God thinks of false prophets, or how that are to be expected in the end times.
When a person attends a NCMI church, they will notice a couple of important key words that are likely to enter their ears. The key words are as follows:

  • Covering
  • Covenant Friendships / Relationships
  • Spiritual Family

Regarding covering, who is a Christians covering? I believe the answer is easy; it is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Regarding Covenant Friendships / Relationships and the Spiritual Family. This doctrine is dangerous because if a person is to leave a particular group, or break off a friendship with their mentor, that where breaking a spiritual covenant. This in the eyes of the church, at least at a doctrinal level is the same as divorce. People who are reading this who have left an NCMI church would have noticed that when they left they where basically ex-communicated. People that you have been friends with for years would now not even talk to you. This is the same as the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine of dis-fellowshipping and is a direct result of the covenant relationship doctrine.
This movement is often referred to as something that was, not something that is. Because of the horrendous failure that the Shepherding movement of old had, churches today are very reluctant to associate themselves with the movement. Many churches do however believe the basic principles that the shepherding movement taught.
Within the Charismatic movement there are two branches. The Prophetic and the Apostolic. The Prophetic branch rejects the tenants of the Shepherding movement while the Apostolic accepts the tenants. NCMI falls into the latter.
A short look at some NCMI church website visions and values show you that they are in fact a Heavy Shepherding Church.

NCF Pietermaritzburg: Covenantal relationships
Westside Church: Close, covenantal relationships
Urban Life Church: Building covenantal relationships

In fact all NCMI relating churches fall under the covering of NCMI. It is a great big spiritual pyramid scheme.

NCMI churches claim to believe in the Priesthood of all believes, but you have to wonder if it is a real belief when they have a church structure like this.
As Christians we have a royal priesthood, are able to discern, interpret, as fellowship with God on our own, without the need of a priest. It is the basis of the Reformation and what separates us from the Roman Catholics. As you can see from the diagram, NCMI places people into different levels of spirituality, with everyone under each level being accountable to the one above. What this basically does is re-introduce the Priesthood to the church.

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8 comments

  1. Thanks, I find it interesting that the more I look into the Shepherding Movement, the more I can relate it to my old church. It is almost scary sometimes how I was deceived for so long

  2. Hi,

    It’s unfortunate that you’ve been exposed to spiritual abuse and I’m deeply concerned to hear it has come from relating churches – I’m still in an NCMI church and stumbled across your site.

    A couple of observations.

    NCMI is pretty diverse and covers a broad range of the protestant spectrum, from fairly conservative reformed-type churches through to heavily hyper-faith Charismaticism. The nature of the NCMI model, which by definition attempts to be “organic”, means that there’s going to be diversity. Because of the rate of growth of the movement, as well as the leaders’ attempts not to make the movement ‘denominational’, mean that there are going to be a mixed bunch relating to NCMI, and not all of them are the same. It sounds to me like you’ve experienced a pretty rotten NCMI church.

    I can safely say that there are a few pretty solid NCMI churches, however. I have a feeling that the South African ones have a tendency (once again, not all) to become fairly shepherding-style and hierarchical. It’s not the case here in Australia; those that do attempt to establish that sort of thing have failed in the past (praise God).

    While I can agree with a lot of what you are saying, I think it’s unfair to lump all NCMI churches into the shepherding barrel. In fact, my church is very flat in it’s organisational structure and we have lay-people (the genuine priesthood) preaching from the pulpit regularly.

    One more thing on apostles/prophets and ‘the team’. I know we’re getting into semantics now, but I only know of one person who has ever claimed outright that he is an apostle – and that was Rob. The rest suggest that they are part of a team that function “apostolic-ly” and ‘prophetically’; not that they are apostles and prophets. I believe that this perspective is the mainstream view of NCMI and can be justified in scripture. Very few would claim to be anointed by Jesus Christ himself, and that we should staple their sermons into our bibles. They would claim to be gifted with governance and would hold a (scripturally supportable) perspective that the church needs to be governed.

    You’ve opened a very interesting can of worms that NCMI really needs to deal with and up until now have been unable to do so. Keep asking questions. Please know that I’m not proposing for you to come back, you’ve got your own convictions and I’m fine with that. Just know that there are some good things about this movement, and that there are some things that they are trying to come to terms with.

  3. Thank you so much for your comment. I do believe that there are some good churches within NCMI. I have experienced this myself, and don’t want anyone to think that I am bashing any particular church when I write these posts.
    My attacks are directed at the NCMI system, which I believe is flawed. It is said that all churches under the NCMI banner exist individually from the movement, but then there are things like LTT’s and Accountable Relationships that I believe make their individuality void.
    I think that there are a lot of good churches out there, but they are usually the smaller, newer relating churches. The bigger churches are where the problem seems to be.
    I was also very interested to hear the Rob was the only one to claim apostolic authority. This is something that I will take into account in future posts. I still believe NCMI is apostolic in nature.
    Posts like this make me smile, because all you usually get when confronting the errors in the group is a cold, hard slap back. I think that it is wonderful that you acknowledge the problems and present the good. God bless you.

  4. Thanks concerned – I too agree that this type of talk is far more constructive than slapping each other around. That said, I just want to make a few more comments/clarifications.

    You said:

    “It is said that all churches under the NCMI banner exist individually from the movement, but then there are things like LTT’s and Accountable Relationships that I believe make their individuality void.”

    I suppose how you define “accountable relationships” will shape your outlook on this. Maybe I’m naive, but I kind of see the relationships between churches and the apostolic team as friend/family. I’m accountable to my wife. I don’t grudge her input – I appreciate it within the context of a solid relationship.This is the ideal, and there is certainly a divide between the ideal and the real. I’m pretty sure that a local church is able to step away from NCMI if it chooses to, and does so by cutting ties with the apostolic team. I’m sure, just like in a marriage/divorce, that there’d be some serious considerations before that decision was made – but the relationship is never forced on the other party from the outset. It’s not an arranged marriage.

    But I suppose my question to you is: should the local church be completely independent? It seems like you’re almost advocating a type of isolationism. In your view, should churches be accountable to eachother?

    As for the LTT, it’s more like a Christian contiki tour than anything else; meet some people of the same demographic (in this case, moderately charismatic Christians). I’m not sure you can suggest that an LTT voids local church independence.

    Now a clarification. You said:

    “I was also very interested to hear the Rob was the only one to claim apostolic authority. This is something that I will take into account in future posts.”

    I don’t think I made myself clear – sorry. I’ve heard Rob say that he’s an apostle. I’ve never heard any of the other guys (Tyrone, Dudley, JD, Chris Weinand etc.) claim this for themselves, and I have heard them speak a lot. But I want to make clear that he may not be the *only* one. Just the only one I’ve heard say it explicitly.

    You said:

    “I still believe NCMI is apostolic in nature.”

    Undeniably. Whether this is a bad thing or not comes down to, as you’ve rightly identified, your interpretation of a few NT scriptures, particularly Eph 4. I advocate measured and mild apostleship. I see no reason to write off this gift, which is for the body of Christ, while embracing other gifts such as those of service or the role of a pastor, which is almost universally upheld.

    Yet I would shy away from anyone who asserts themselves as an apostle. I believe there’s a difference between the gift and the office: the office was for the establishment of the canon of scripture (which is closed in my worldview, just for the record) and the church in its infant form. The gift is for ongoing governance within the body. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but I think the best way that this could happen is through a group or team that share responsibility. This perspective is, admittedly, based on a combination of an attempt to remain Scripturally honest, balanced with a little pragmatism which tends to agree with Lord Acton who said “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. So let me just say that the role of an apostle is the most open to becoming misused.

    A few scriptures that have led me to hold this position when balanced with Eph 4… 1 John 2:27; Hebrews 5:12; 2 Thess 2:15. These scriptures say that we need no-one to teach us, because we are anointed ourselves; yet they emphasise staying true to the Word and the teaching of teachers and apostles.

    Anyway, enough for one post. Sorry it’s so long. I’m just letting you know where I’m coming from.I’m hoping that I’ll be able to understand where you’re coming from, and perhaps even get to the core of your dissatisfaction with NCMI.

  5. “But I suppose my question to you is: should the local church be completely independent? It seems like you’re almost advocating a type of isolationism. In your view, should churches be accountable to eachother?”

    I think you mis-understand what I meant; I don’t think that I was clear enough. I do believe in accountability. I believe that NCMI uses the individuality of each of the churches under its banner as an excuse to distance itself from the abuses that occur within the relating churches. The question has to be asked as to who is ultimately responsible for these abuses, in this case in the apostolic system of things (which I strongly disagree with). I believe that if Tyrone is aware of such abuses, and they go unchecked, then he is as guilty as the ones that abuse. The buck stops with him.
    There has to be a certain level of leadership that is carefully balanced. I believe that NCMI has failed to do this. Make sense?

  6. Hi,

    I don’t have time for a thought out well delivered message right now, but I attend an NCMI relating church in Canada and wanted to mention the pyramid picture you have relating the authority structure of the movement is not as I have been taught anyhow. It’s closer to what you mentioned. Jesus covers everybody, so heirarchically there are two levels. Jesus and everybody else. Then administratively, functionally there is leadership so we can move in purpose with direction and calling etc. So it’s taught as eldership being the point of the arrow, seeking guidance for the direction of the arrow, and communicating that vision to the church so to speak and the rest of us provide the weight behind the arrow that gives impact into the particular region we are located in. Anyways, of any church ‘system’ I’ve been apart of in my life, my experience with NCMI has been by far the least heirarchical and most expressive of the priesthood of all believers. Not trying to be critical, just share a perspective. Another time I could comment on other topics perhaps, or start a discussion.

  7. I was a member of an NCMI church and the pyramid was explained but they said that the pyramid was on the side with the elders out front and they are able to see ahead of everyone else because they are out front. They would also say that there is no B team only an A team. This pyramid on the side seemed wow, thats awesome and they generally belive they are doing the right thing these leaders of churches – most are very sincere, but no matter what side its on, there is still that coming over the rest of the people, and if you are seen not to submit to them you are thought of as ‘a bit of a loose canon or not fully submitted to God and looked down upon’. This I witnessed of others because I was on leadership toeing the line for a long time. I eventually left myself. Jesus is my shepherd.

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