Herescope: The Troubles with Church Covenants

A Warning Twelve Years Ago

The following article was originally published in a 2003 Discernment Ministries Newsletter. Due to a series of moves, computer crashes, and website changes the original article had been lost. It has been archived on Berit Kjos’s Crossroad.to website for many years, and we thank her for preserving it.

Recently, with the rise of investigative reports on the aftermath of Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church debacle, this 2003 article has gained renewed importance. This article is a “snapshot in time.” It represents what was going on twelve years ago when the covenant-signing movement was charging full steam ahead.

Why did we write this? We had experienced this type of church structure earlier, in its formative and experimental years during the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time it was known as “heavy shepherding,” a top-down leadership wielding control over the congregation. This movement was abusive and left many damaged sheep in its wake. During the next few decades we witnessed firsthand the adverse effects as Leadership Network was putting its hierarchical networks into place and developing prototypes for its obscurantist operations for megachurches.

The fallout of this church covenant agenda can now be seen in the deluge of post-Mars Hill disaster reports. High-demand church organizations, with their excessive pressures to conform, have left in their wake much collateral damage. Women, mothers, the handicapped, the infirm, and elderly have particularly suffered under this systemic transformation. They cannot measure up to the “Missional” Type A personality- and performance-driven church standards. Many experienced shunning, or worse, and many have left the faith entirely. Yet there are many saints who kept their faith, quietly serving the Lord far away from the limelights of “healthy, wealthy and hip.”

For twelve years now we have listened to the stories of hundreds of disenfranchised and disheveled sheep who were tossed under the bus. Their heart-rending tales motivated us to continue writing from our unique perspective, standing outside of what is now called the “evangelical industrial complex.” In 2004 we published a sequel to this report, a monograph, The Pied Pipers of Purpose. Shortly thereafter we began publishing articles on this blog recounting Leadership Network and its pivotal role (see a few links at the bottom of this article). What follows is our original 2003 article, still warning about this movement.

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