Wednesday, February 20, 2008


There is a world of difference between shepherding and Shepherding. The first, shepherding with a small "s" is merely the concept of a loving teacher or pastor or even congregation member helping a new Christian to understand the faith. It's what we're all supposed to do.

The second, Shepherding with a capital "S" is a formal set of beliefs and teachings that are hurting a lot of Christians and driving them from the church with running, open wounds on their hearts. It's this second one, Shepherding, that I want to address, because it's spiritual abuse at its worst.

Shepherding began around 1974 as a good idea.

The original concept of Shepherding was created by five south Florida pastors – Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter and Don Basham – as a way to deal with what they saw as dissolution in the Charismatic movement. It stated that the pastor of a church provided an umbrella of protection for the congregation, shielding them from the evil outside. To enjoy this protection, the congregation had to submit to the pastor's authority. The idea was to develop strong disciples for Christ.

That sounds Biblical enough. But the movement went bad about as quickly as kudzu overrunning a barn in Tennessee; virtually overnight. It seems the faster it grew in popularity, the worse it became. Eventually, Shepherding gave the pastor total and ultimate authority over all his congregation, including what they ate, what they wore, where they worked, who they married, and how many children a couple could have. The pastor also had the authority to tell congregation members where to go to school, what to study, what to read, what movies to watch, who their friends would be, and how to worship God. People who didn't like what the pastor, the elders, or the cell group leaders told them to do were called rebellious and subject to extreme discipline. Shepherding quickly devolved from an idea to help disciple a congregation into sheer tyranny. All of this was done in the name of accountability and discipleship.

Mumford apologized and publicly repented for the movement in 1990, and it kinda died out, maintaining a loose life through smaller, more obscure churches and ministries.

But about the year 2000, it resurfaced again, in the guise of the Mentoring/ Accountability/ Discipleship programs.

Same fleas, different dog. Call it what you will, Discipleship, Mentoring, Accountability, Discipline, Covering; it is still Shepherding.

It's funny, but if the program has a small letter in its name (i.e., accountability), it seems to be pretty good. If it hosts a capital letter (i.e., Accountability), it's another form of Shepherding. Just a thought; something to look out for.

Shepherding is based on pride, manipulation and arrogance. I've lost track of the number of Charismatic Christians I've heard recently say things like "I mentor twelve people!" or "I have twenty submitted to me." Sounds like a multi-level marketing downline, not a church! Unfortunately, this kind of attitude is no longer limited to just the Charismatic churches (Word of Faith, Pentecostal, Assembly of God Church of God, non-denominational). It is now infecting the Evangelicals as well (Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, Nazarene).The Sacramentals (Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Orthodox) seem to be avoiding it ... so far.

The concept of discipleship, accountability and mentoring are noble in themselves. What Christian doesn't want to be a good disciple of Christ? In the old days, being a good disciple was learned in Sunday School, through time spent in prayer, by studying the Bible, and living the Sermon on the Mount with one's neighbors.

Accountability is also a good concept, especially for those of us who are flawed and have habitual sins in our lives. But it should be lateral, as in friendship. A good friend will not let another friend remain mired in alcoholism or pornography.

And mentoring is just an outgrowth of the teacher-student relationship, as in the violin teacher who sees a gift in his pupil, and gives her more time than just her thirty minutes a week. He encourages her to try new songs, enter competitions and stretch herself on her fiddle.

It is when these noble concepts cross a line and become Shepherding that the problems arise. A sure sign that they have crossed the line is when phrases are flung like snowballs ... phrases such as “You need someone in your chain of command,” and “You need to be accountable to someone,” and “You need to be submitted to someone,” and “You need a covering.” This is when good ideas go bad.

The current trend in Discipleship began as a good idea; a way to raise up mature Christians who could raise up more mature Christians. But it has an innate problem. It is based on the idea that Paul was Timothy's spiritual father. He may have been, but where else in the Bible do we find that we are supposed to have any other spiritual father other than God Himself? The concept of having to have a spiritual father who is human, and be a spiritual child to another human being is not Biblical. If it happens, it happens, but it should be an organic thing, not organized like a bridge club in a small Georgia town.

Accountability began as a way to keep the pastor from running off with the church secretary and the funds (which is in itself negative, because that's assuming the pastor is going to fail and sin) and quickly became a way of controlling people for our own purposes, which are usually selfish. According to the Mentoring / Discipleship doctrine, Christians must be discipled by one Master in an authoritarian relationship to be a true disciple of Christ. This is supposedly set up after the system that Jesus had over the twelve apostles. This subordinate relationship with another Christian is necessary to bear "fruit," which is specifically defined as the replication of more disciples. So, the Discipleship / Mentoring concept establishes a hierarchical chain of members by placing men in the position of Master and Disciple. In business, they used to call this a Pyramid Scheme. In the pre-Civil War South, it was called slavery.

It's interesting that the ones who bark the loudest and say "You must have accountability, you must have a mentor, you must have a chain of command" are also thinking "And I'm the one to do it." If someone says to you that "You must have a chain of command," tell them something like "Okay, I'll submit to my Dad and let him mentor me" and see how angry that other person suddenly becomes!

Someone who is actually called to mentor others, by God Himself, is quiet about it. They don't go looking for someone to correct. People come to them and ask advice. The ancient Chinese proverb comes to mind here – “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The onus is on the student, not the teacher. In true mentoring, it is the student who is the focus and the source of initiating mentorship, not the teacher.

Then there is the Covering movement. We Charismatics (and I suspect now that quite a few Evangelicals, too) have been taught that all Christians must have a spiritual covering. That's a polite way of saying that we have to have a boss telling us what to do. So many Christians run around like chickens with their heads cut off, in a total panic, begging “Who is my covering?” Paul is pretty plain about the covering issue, in the only passage in the New Testament where a “covering” is mentioned (at least in the translation that I read). He writes in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But there is one thing I want you to know: A man is responsible to Christ.” Period. Jesus is my covering. Jesus is your covering. Why do we need people to cover us when we have Jesus? What human being can dare say that they can do a better job of protecting and leading and teaching and guiding us than Jesus Christ? What arrogance can make such a boast?

We Christians do not need to put up with Shepherding, Mentoring, Discipleship or Covering. Sure we need shepherds, but shepherds are protectors, not dictators. Sure we need mentors, but mentors are teachers, not tyrants. Sure we need to be discipled, but disciplers are friends, not overlords. Sure we need a covering, but His name is Jesus, not Bob or Percy or Janice or Felonia.

Shepherding pastors and ministers posture and position themselves. They surround themselves with yes men and women to protect themselves. They blast and shoot down any challenge and defend themselves using three scriptures, because, as the Bible says, let every word be established by three witnesses. Some even go so far as to have their “armor bearers” carry guns and rough up any detractor in town.

They develop an aloof attitude and say something that a lot of us have heard ... “Don't touch the anointed!”

Jesus never said “don't touch me.” He said “who touched me?” Paul never said “don't question me.” He said “I will answer your question.” Peter didn't say “don't touch God's anointed.” He listened when Paul challenged him in public. Moses was called the meekest man on Earth. Meek people are touchable. David led his men and lived with them in a cave when we was being hunted by Saul. Our Biblical examples were all touchable. They were all leaders. They were eager to answer questions. They were people who lived with people. They were shepherds who smelled like sheep.

Shepherding is no longer confined to the Charismatic churches. Evangelical churches, mostly Baptist and Methodist, are now following this trend. A recent Wall Street Journal article cites several cases of the growing phenomenon of “disciplining” congregation members.

The pastors who do this say that they are simply doing what the New Testament says to do, in order to correct sin.

For instance, a Baptist church in Michigan had an elderly congregation member arrested and removed during a church service. Her crime? Questioning the pastor's authority and insisting that he follow the church charter and have a deacon board.

A 4,000 member church in Dallas, Texas, requires that all members sign an oath stating that they will submit to the correction and guidance of church elders.

A 6,000 member church in Nashville expelled 74 members for gossip. And a Baptist church in Virginia voted out a member for talking about the pastor's plans to build a bigger house.

The Wall Street Journal article estimates that between 16,000 and 20,000 American churches are now practicing some form of “discipline.”

That tells me that Shepherding is a virus and it is now out of control. It is quite permissible for a pastor to have a disruptive person removed from a service. And it is quite permissible for a pastor to ask someone who is blatantly sinning to leave the church. But this goes beyond that. This is public humiliation. Being shunned and publicly humiliated won't lead to repentance, but will probably drive the person deeper into anger. I'm not saying that the people who were so harshly dealt with were sinning, but let's assume for the sake of argument that they were. Shunning is not mentioned in the Bible as an effective way to deal with sin. The Bible clearly states that the Holy Spirit and God's goodness lead to repentance.

Yep. Shepherding is gaining a foothold in the Evangelical churches. How it got there is beyond me! But it needs to leave.


a seed sower said...

OH excellent article brother, most excellent. You helped confirm some things that I have faced in the past, like the "you must have a covering" thing..I have passed this on to others, God Bless you Sir

stephen said...

these thing are happening you just conform it, I the lord to show me the way of this because I thought something was wrong with me, but having read your book I have to get out of that church. exactly what you said is exactly whats going on. I am a victim of these abuse. months I've been asking the lord for answers about what am seeing taking place in church.exactly what you said is exactly whats going on in the church, have been at the mercy of the pastor, he said my child died because I rebelled against him,he make you feel if you leave the church you will get sick and die, lies. thank God for the work you are doing, you need to publish inserts from your book on our daily express news paper in Trinidad and Tobago.God bless you.

joy said...

I started to research "spiritual abuse" many years ago. My studies showed that over-control or misuse of power took similar patterns in various Christian or Bible based groups. This led me to discover shepherding which was basically denounced by many popular ministries and eventually died out but in actuality it crept underground; many aspects of this appear within many word of faith and also other groups. Many popular ideas are widely taught & accepted as if they were Biblical but are not, or are at least distorted. Jesus taught as Christians we are NOT to be like the world's hierarchical systems. It is natural for the unsaved but as Christians those who lead must be the lowest servant, not demanding others serve them. We are to focus upon and serve and obey Jesus alone and love one another, which love takes different forms depending upon our individual gifts and call within the Body. I believe there is good evidence that Satan has infiltrated the church and that there are some leaders who are not even saved but are deliberately serving Satan and their fruit shows they are harming others. Some could just be hurting and dysfunctional people, some are in error or weak. All of us are nothing without Christ, and so we are to love all persons but not expose ourselves to those who are harming us when we have a choice. We don't have to martyr ourselves when it isn't necessary and we can still remove ourself from the abuse the that person having access to us. You can still get teaching online or on tv without the personal contact if it proves to be harmful. There will always be some conflict, hurt, and problems in Christian groups but we can listen to God and He can show us that in some cases it is time to leave. In every case it's good to also examine ourself and to learn from the experience and not allow it to destroy us.

Anderson Raymond said...

Hi Everyone,
I'm from United Kingdom London, City(GB).I met this spell caster called Dr IyaryI of online and so many other, but i decided to go with this particular spell caster and this is about 2 weeks ago.I needed the spell caster to reunite me and my lover because she started behaving strange and a day came she text me and told me she cannot continue with the relationship anymore, that she just want to be alone.But a close friend of hers shows the guy to me that she was now dating.So i contacted this spell caster because i was totally heart broken and i smoked and get drunk till i could not even notice if am standing or lying.This spell caster told me not to worry, he gave me hope that am to have her again just like old times, and i provided all the requirements, and in just 5 days, my ex lover called me crying over the phone asking for me to forgive her for her stupid act, and she swore with her mother grave to love me and never hurt me again.This was what the spell caster earlier told me and it came after he has done the spell and that same night, my lover came back to the house to me. I have never seen spell as powerful as this but now, am convinced that Dr IyaryI is the best ever, You can contact him through him email address: or or And also Reach him on WhatsApp Number: +2349057915709 Thanks Dr. Iyaryi

Cathal Mc Hugh said...

We are Ireland based major/Direct providers of Fresh Cut BG, SBLC, POF, MTN, Bonds and CDs and this financial instruments are specifically for lease and sale.We are one of the leading Financial instrument providers with offices all over Europe.
we always deliver on time and precision as Set forth in the agreement. You are at liberty to engage our leased facilities into trade programs, project financing, Credit line enhancement, Corporate Loans (Business Start-up Loans or Business Expansion Loans), Equipment Procurement Loans (Industrial Equipment, Air crafts, Ships, etc.) as well as other financial instruments issued from AAA Rated bank such as HSBC Bank Hong Kong, HSBC Bank London, Deutsche Bank AG Frankfurt, Barclays Bank , Standard Chartered Bank and others on lease at the lowest available rates depending on the face value of the instrument needed, Our Terms and Conditions are reasonable.
1. Instrument: Bank Guarantee (BG)/SBLC (Appendix A)
2. Total Face Value: 10M MIN to 50B MAX USD or Euro
3. Issuing Bank: HSBC, Deutsche Bank Frankfurt, UBS or any Top 25 .
4. Age: One Year, One Day
5. Leasing Price: 4+ 1%
6. Sale Price: 32+2%
7. Delivery by SWIFT .
8. Payment: MT103-23
9. Hard Copy: Bonded Courier within 7 banking days.
If you have need for Corporate loans, International project funding, etc. or if you have a client that requires funding for his project or business, We are also affiliated with lenders who specialize on funding against financial instruments, such as BG, SBLC, POF or MTN, we fund 100% of the face value of the financial instrument.
Inquiries from agents/ brokers/ intermediaries are also welcomed; do get back to us if you are interested in any of our services and for quality service.
Name : Cathal Mc Hugh
E-mail :
Skype id :

Richardson McAnthony said...

We offer fresh cut bank instrument for lease, such as BG, SBLC,Lease and Purchase Instruments can be obtained at minimal expense to the borrower compared to other banking options. This offer is opened to both individuals and corporate bodies.


1. Instrument: Funds backed Bank Guarantee(BG) ICC-600
2. Currency : USD/EURO
3. Age of Issue: Fresh Cut
4. Term: One year and One day
5. Contract Amount: United State Dollars/Euros (Buyers Face Value)
6. Price : Buy:32%+1, Lease: 4%+2
7. Subsequent tranches: To be mutually agreed between both parties
8. Issuing Bank: Top RATED world banks like HSBC, Barclays, ING Dutch Bank, Llyods e.t.c
9. Delivery Term: Pre advise MT199 or MT799 first. Followed By SWIFT MT760
10. Payment Term: MT799 & Settlement via MT103
11. Hard Copy: By Bank Bonded Courier

Interested Agents,Brokers, Investors and Individual proposing international project funding should contact us for directives.We will be glad to share our working procedures with you upon request

Name:Ardan Clooney

Karpjuks Andrejs said...

When I found Dr. Okaya I was in desperate need of bringing my Lover back. He left me for another woman. It happened so fast and I had no say in the situation at all. He just dumped me after 3 years with no explanation. I contact Dr Okaya through his Email and he cast a love spell to help us get back together. Shortly after he did his spell, my Lover started texting me again and felt horrible for what he just put me through. He said that I was the most important person in his life and he knows that now.we moved in together and he was more open to me than before and he started spending more time with me than before. Ever since Dr. Okaya helped me, my partner is very stable, faithful and closer to me than before. I highly recommends Dr. Okaya to anyone in need of help. Such As

1. Love Spells
2. Lost Love Spells
3. Divorce Spells
4. Marriage Spells
5. Binding Spells
6. Breakup Spells
7. Banish a past Lover.
8. You want to be promoted in your office.
9. Fertility Spells/Pregnancy Spells
10. Lottery Spell
Email Dr Okaya On OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM Or WhatsApp on +27814506790

anonimous said...

One of the easiest decision I have ever made was when I accepted to get married to a man I thought was my soul mate, my lover for 2yrs. He was the most handsome and honest man I have ever encountered, he was so kind respectful to me and my entire family. He gave me the reason to spend my entire life with him. I enjoyed 3yrs of love and sweet romance as his wife before the devil came into our home, his ex-girlfriend worked voodoo on him, she made him show me the bad side of him and also caused our divorce. The most annoying part was when she tried to take my life spiritually and physically, fighting to ensure am thoroughly erased from my husband before she takes over. It was getting tensed till the extent that I couldn’t sleep both day and night because she must be there to trouble me.Story short, I used the only available options left which was prophet ogidi a{MIRACLECENTER110@GMAIL.COM} before I lose everything including my life. Prophet ogidi was the last option because every other sources failed and his love spell worked wonders after 7days which saw the evil lady flee from us with immediate effect, the divorce case was reconciled within days as well.Since after the spell, I finally knew how to treat wicked and jealous people and a whole new lot of thing from prophet ogidi Happiness and joy has been in abundance in my family for the past 8months after the love can also call/whatsapp him at 2348182260982

Mr John Paul Nowacki said...

We are project funder as well as financial lender,We have BG/SBLC, specifically for BUY/LEASE at a leasing price value Issuance by HSBC London and other 25 top AA rated Bank in Europe, Middle East or USA. We also secure funding.

Our BG/SBLC Financing can help you get your project funded, loan financing, please let me know if you are interested in any of our services, by providing you with yearly renewable leased bank instruments. We work directly with issuing bank lease providers, this Instrument can be monetized on your behalf for 100% funding.

MINIMUM FACE VALUE OF BG/SBLC = EUR/USD 1 million to 5 Billion+

PRICE = 32%+2%

Intermediaries/Consultants/Brokers are welcome to bring their clients and are 100% protected. In complete confidence, we will work together for the benefits of all parties involved.

Contact Email:

skype: egglerjohnson

Mr Eggler Johnson