Xenos Christian Fellowship


A while back, on a Saturday night, I went to Xenos Christian Fellowship in Columbus for their Saturday evening service, what they call “CT” (“Central Teaching”). Goofy name, to be sure, and they have NO MUSIC, which bums me, but what a COOL church, in this respect: these people really do life together. Xenos is a collection of house churches/small groups, and these people are extremely well-discipled (check out their website, xenos.org) and at the same time involved in each other’s lives. I found myself thinking that I wish I had learned of Xenos 20 years ago, before I headed into ministry, because these people are doing church RIGHT, in many respects. After CT, every week (I think), they have a big deck party with hamburgers and sand volleyball and stuff. They enjoy each other’s company, and build friendships. I hung out and was deeply
impressed. There is a lot of other stuff I liked about it, but I’d encourage you to go to the website and look at some stuff there.


0 responses to “Xenos Christian Fellowship”

  1. I agree! I was an athiest (ew, sp?) for the first 27 years of my life. Last fall I was invited to a home church from one of my friends of 7-8 years. Several other long-time friends had been going for sometime as well. I really enjoyed myself and went to a CT with them shortly after.

    I’ve been going to this church consistantly for a year. My friendships of 5-15 years with my friends who go as well have never been deeper. I’ve developed new, good friends, something I have not done since college.

    Xenos is merely where we go to get a nice big teaching for the week, we really don’t even think of it like church. Just a place to meet and learn a lot about God’s word. And we do not just meet for church and home church 2x/week, I talk to at least one of my friends from the group daily, and we email all of the time.

    It’s the best!

    P.S. Did I mention that I accept Christ last year? Oh, yeah, that’s a little bonus too – accepted Christ, eternal life with God, my brothers and sisters.

  2. I was raised in a Lutheran Christian church and have always considered myself a strong christian. I started going to Xenos my freshman year of highschool (about 6 years ago) with some good friends. At first I loved it. It was exciting, new, and like the others posted here, it was a great time to learn about God and eachother. That was all great until some other things started happening gradually.

    For some reason they began introducing the idea that dating is not a good thing for growth in God. I was told not to sit next to or talk to my boyfriend at the time while at any Xenos functions.

    Next, I confided in one “leader” as they call them, that my father was an alcoholic. They told me I should cut off all communication with them.

    They began to introduce more and more activities throughout the week to keep us busy. Homechurch(tuesdays), thursday night prayer group, CT (Sunday nights), something else on Monday nights that I don’t quite remember. Who has time for school or family when they have Xenos? That’s the idea I guess. If I wasn’t there for some reason on a Tuesday night, for example, I was cornered and questioned by a “leader” about it. The times spent at these meetings slowly got further and further away from the central and pure messages of God’s word, and closer and closer to the ideals that Xenos created. On there website they have a disclaimer stating that they are not a cult. In my opinion, if the church website has to make a disclaimer saying they are not a cult – then something is wrong here. You tell me.

    I was suddenly trapped in, sucked in, and slowly watching all of my friends disappearing into this so-called “church.”

    I finally got out. One night I made the decision to get out, to not have contact with any “leaders” and to not let myself feel guilty about anything. The important thing was my relationship with God – not with Xenos.

    A couple of my friends have since left,one of which chose to leave after the church did not agree in her choice of a boyfriend and some other things along with that and told her she would either have to sign a contract saying she would change her ways and read it aloud before the whole church or be kicked out. Unfortunately though, the majority are still trapped in living in Ministry Houses together. I don’t know if they’ll ever get out to tell you the truth, and that scares me.

    I’m not trying to bash the church. The ideas that they present at first are great, really appealing and they are very welcoming. Sometimes though, we have to be aware of what lies beneath. Many parents, etc. worry that this church may be a cult and Xenos “leaders” are quick to dismiss these accusations with humor and sarcasm….the fact is though, that sometimes humor and sarcasm are a good way to deal with uncomfortable accusations, and may not always be an honest response.

    Just be safe out there when looking for a church. I would not recommend Xenos. Every church has faults, yes, but a church should not be controlling. Keep your eyes open and your hearts focused on God.

    love,
    me

  3. The above comment is very sound and balanced. We must give our whole heart and love for our Lord Jesus Christ. To have an intimate relationship with Him who died for us is the most important thing in the whole world. Read John chapters 14 -16 and find out that Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us and speak to us about the decisions of our lives. The church is very important but the church or its leaders must not be overly controlling to the extent that they become like “god” over the members’ life. There are decisions that we must pray and seek God for guidance, the function of the leaders is to give godly and wise advice and also to pray with the members- in order to arrive at the decisions. (William Tan)

  4. It’s odd that you would say your friend was threatened with being kicked out because of her choice of boyfriend, because the church website specifically states that “ungodly dating” is not something you can be kicked out for, and the elders have to approve kicking someone out. (http://www.xenos.org/classes/leadership/appdis.html and http://www.xenos.org/aboutxenos/faq/discipline.htm) Are you sure that was the whole story? If the leaders really were acting that way (if true, it seems pretty extreme), I hope before you decided to leave you let someone know. I know most people in Xenos are not like that and higher leaders would sure want to know so they could stop the person from treating others that way.

  5. Lindsay, you have made many subtle yet serious claims against Xenos.
    “For some reason they began introducing the idea that dating is not a good thing for growth in God.” If an individual told you that dating is always disadvantageous, that couldn’t reflect the church’s view. The lead pastors actually wrote a book on how to date successfully, about which a Tyndale House editor said: “[H]onestly, I have never come across a book on dating and marriage preparation that is so thorough, so biblical, and so compassionately presented.”
    “Who has time for school or family when they have Xenos? That’s the idea I guess.” I think that’s not a good (or fair) guess. You imply that the church’s meetings are not truly intended for the prayer, ministry, Bible study, or fellowship that they facilitate, but that they aim to distract people from school and family.
    “The times spent at these meetings slowly got further and further away from the central and pure messages of God’s word, and closer and closer to the ideals that Xenos created.” I share your wariness of human-made ideals, so can you share examples of these? The church is known for trying to avoid human-made traditions and values.
    You seem to suggest that the church is cult-like, yourself proving the church’s need to respond to such an accusation. If the church lacked integrity or really was a cult, I would not expect it to have such a thoughtful and biblical response to suspicious people. http://www.xenos.org/aboutxenos/faq/cult.htm You also suggest that Xenos is not a real church (“so-called church”). I would be interested to know your definitions of “church” and “cult.”

  6. Wow. I didn’t think everyone would react so much to my post. Funny how everyone reacted to something AGAINST Xenos for once. I was just telling my story. everything that i wrote is completely true. i’m not going to sit here and defend myself, but I will answer your questions. Yes I have made serious claims, claims that I stand by 100%. I guarantee you this, I am NOT the only one who feels this way. Carol, you said this to me, “I know most people in Xenos are not like that and higher leaders would sure want to know so they could stop the person from treating others that way.” I have news for you, it was a group decision made by the leaders. I know what I am talking about, I don’t appreciate being made to sound like I am blowing things out of proportion.
    Carol- You questioned my friend being kicked out because of her choice of boyfriend? Would you like to talk to her about it? She would be more than willing, I’m sure.

    Maybe I am calling this church a cult. Lets see if that is a valid claim…

    Lesley, you asked me to define a cult and a church? Ok, here you go.

    Church- place where christians gather to celebrate, praise, worship and learn about God.The visible church consists of all the people that claim to be Christians and go to church. The invisible church is the actual body of Christians; those who are truly saved. The true church of God is not an organization on earth consisting of people and buildings, but is really a supernatural entity comprised of those who are saved by Jesus.

    Now let me go straight to what makes a cult a cult as this seems to be the what is at question here.

    Cult-
    A totalitarian control over the lifestyle and time of its members – to dictate exactly what its followers should read, how and with whom they should spend their time, and even what they should do in off hours. This totalitarian control is necessary for the leaders to indoctrinate the followers in everything they do, and is also an attempt to separate them from anything not associated with the cult. This is why cults often live together in groups.

    A charismatic, self-appointed leader with complete authority – Cult members are taught not to question the teachings, practices, or ideas of the leader. Many cult leaders truly are charismatic people, and are able to influence people to believe them. It is common that a cult member is not told everything up front when joining the group, but that they are taught increasingly controlling ideas and teachings as they go. In the case of some of the more well-publicized cults that have come and gone, it is also common that the leader’s ideas and demands evolve over time, becoming increasingly controlling and restrictive.

    A focus on withholding truth from non-members – Many cults teach their followers to be completely open and truthful within the group, while at the same time they are encouraged to be secretive and evasive when questioned by people outside of the group. This is another form of mind control-instilling guilt in the members if they hold anything back within the group. The members are taught that outsiders wouldn’t understand or that they would only make fun of the ideas and practices and requirements for living within the group. Only specially-commissioned members are appointed to recruit members from outside. New members are usually encouraged to keep silent or even lie, especially to their families and close friends.
    http://la.essortment.com/whatisdefiniti_rjli.htm

    You asked for my definitions. There they are. Let me tell you that in my personal experience, and in many others that I know, the explanation of a cult certainly applies to Xenos. I am not offended by your questions, rather, I am perfecly willing to discuss my issues with Xenos. Any more questions/things you can’t quite grasp? Let me know.

    Alright I’m done for now. Like I said though, I am more than willing to discuss this further. I’m actually very interested to hear what you have to say in response to this.

  7. Lindsey,

    Find it funny how you got such fast and direct responses to your post? Only fair to share with you that you got Dennis` attention and he directed the majority of the Xenos College Ministry to your original post…

    From: “McCallumD”
    Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006
    Subject: [collegeministry] implausible message

    “so check out this blog from some chick who used to be in the HS group. It’s sickening to think this kind of thing is on the web. I love the way she has the leaders deciding who she can sit by and date. but we should all think about this and be careful to avoid all controlling behavior.

    See the mostly positive blog at http://www.byron-harvey.com/2004/03/20/xenos-christian-fellowship/

    Bravo Lindsey,
    I commend you for speaking your mind and saying how you truly feel. Your not the only one who has had to deal with Xenos` social engineering. I know for a fact you are not fudging the truth about how you were asked to interact or rather not interact with your boyfriend at meetings. Eventually in Xenos, requests such as this become geared tward who your closest friends “should” be. It leads to being pressured to move away from established relationships to invest more time into your Cell group, making them your closest friends. Until you eventually grow and split your Homechurch into two, then wash, rinse, repeat this structured social engineering, in the name of accomplishing “God`s Will” and growing “His Church”, with complete disregard to the relationships that are severed and lost in the wake of this cycle….

    Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006
    Subject: Re: [collegeministry] implausible message

    “I know when I first started to come around about a 1 1/2 years ago, I thought there were way too many meetings. That’s because I really wasn’t prepared to sacrifice ‘my’ time to truly walk with God. Even now I still feel somewhat overwhelmed by the time commitments, but really, what else would I rather be doing with my time? I know me and a large amount of other college students can do the college thing, maintain good grades, and do this ‘Xenos Church’ thing. But yeah, I agree with Luke, I’m glad she’s not trying to bash us.”

    I feel for the young man who made the above post. Xenos has made him feel that thier structure is the only path to really walking with God and that he was the selfish one, for not at first being completely committed to the overabundance of schedule consuming meetings per week. Funny that the majority of college aged Xeniods will speak in private about feeling overwhelmed and burned out, but not publically, because “how can doing God`s work be tiring?”

    Contrary to what the average Xeniods response will be to this admittedly blunt post, due to time and space at this particular moment, I do not hold an anti-Xenos view. I`m just pointing out quickly that pigeon holing many unique individuals into a narrow structure, may not be the most effective way to healthfully get the Lord`s work done.

    Lindsey, you and your friends, are invited to email me directly at [email protected] for I am currently working on a biblically based report to be publically presented to the Xenos brothers and sisters, with the intent of helping them in love to see a broader perspective.

  8. I think the UNFORTUNATE part about Xenos is that it is lay led. What I mean by that is the people in the church who don’t have any formal Xian leadership training are the ones who lead in the home-churches. What is unfortunate here is that, just as we are all messed up, these lay leaders all make mistakes…and as lindsey knows well, some times the mistake is that lay leaders will get really controlling; to the point it is un-biblical.

    I think, lindsey, that you need to go back to the leaders who did this, or to the “higher” leaders in the high school group or the church. You have an opportunity to really serve, not just in helping lead the leaders at fault here, but also in serving the rest of the community in Xenos by ing a healthy response to something you don’t agree with!! I think that this action of going back to work out your quarrel relationally is going to help out yourself and the church. I would remind you of Ephesians 4:1-3; “diligently preserve the unity” of christian brothers and sisters.

    I would also point out that the FORTUNATE part about Xenos is that, despite this lack of control exerted by the formally trained leaders, the church seems to be growing in a healthy way!! People are really knowing God through this church.

    Lastly, I think that it is a good, critical mind that could analyze a situation and deem Xenos worthy of being “cult-like”. I would encourage anyone posting things like this here to do 2 things. First, browse around the xenos website and see what they are actually doing (or if you could risk it, go to a meeting yourself). Secondly, check out a few passages from the bible and reconsider why it is that people in Xenos are giving an “unusual amount of time” to things of God…Mark 8:34,35; Mark 10:21-23, 28-30; Matt 10:37-39; Matt 19:28,29

    these are just a few and everyone would be doing well to ask themselves…”WAS JESUS A CULT LEADER?”

  9. Wow…what an…interesting read. I’m actually good friends with Lindsay, and after hearing about all of this from her, and reading through the posts, I couldn’t help but throw in my two cents. Well, here goes nothing.

    I started going to Xenos in the 6th grade (Almost 8 years ago) And it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I absolutely adored it, and continued to love it al throughout middle school. Through it I grew an unreal zeal for the lord. It was phenomenal..And I made some of the best friends that I kept all throughout high school..well, most of it, anyways.

    Throughout those middle school days my parents were insanely wary about xenos, and in all honesty, I can’t blame them. We were 11 and 12 year old girls going out till 11 o’clock on friday nights with people that they did not even know. Frankly I’m amazed my parents let me go, but they knew I was responsible and just told me to keep my gaurd up. Good thing I had them around to ground me.

    Because, when I moved up to the high school ministry things got distinctly different.

    The focus appeared to move away from God and his love every meeting towards me being pulled aside and asked what sexual sins my friends in relationships were getting into.

    I was appalled. I told the ‘leaders’ that I did not know what ‘sin’ they were getting into, that it was none of business and frankly far less than none of theirs.

    Friends of mine were pulled aside by college leaders and asked ‘do you put your hands down her pants’ in reference to sexual sin. I was disgusted and sickened.

    I left the ministry in the 10th grade, for reasons unrelated to this issue, which in retrospect is strange….At the time I found it unsettling, yes, but not a reason to leave.

    I left because I felt at odds with the messages that Xenos was sending out. I was discouraged from exploring other religions and learning about the fundamental principles they followed. I have always been the type of person who will logically discuss/search out answers before coming to a single conclusion and it bothered the heck out of me that Xenos felt I should quell this urge. Now that I’m older and wiser and have taken courses on Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions and studied many things on myself I have to the conclusion that I believe in the God that believes in me…In other words, I am of the belief that they’re is a higher power but he does not discriminate. He loves us all, anyone who chooses to believe there is more to this place than, well, this place.

    I have expressed this thought to many xenos followers and they tell me I’m wrong…well, maybe I am, but I do NOT agree with the dogma and indoctrinations that Xenos has set up.

    I have watched too many of my friend be pulled aside and told that, simply because they are in a relationship of longer than three months, thye must be involved in sin and therefore need to cut off their relationship. Told to cut off contact with family members and friends who are not christian…My own beliefs, political, spiritual, and otherwise were apparently wrong and they did not fail to let me know this. I was furious. My beliefs are my beliefs, and xenos did not try and nurture this or any of the individuality my friends and I had…they want to almost mold every one in to the perfect little xenos boys and girls…My friends and I used to joke that the leaders and ‘good christians’ in Xenos all seemed like clones…at the time it was funny, now, it’s scary.

    I can’t speak at all about college ministry having never been, and I never intend upon going either. But I can say that the friends I have who do go, only interact with people within the church. It all seems weird to me.

    In my experience Xenos did not reach out to or love many of it’s followers, instead it alienated,and, indeed ostracized both myself and many of my good friends. Leaving my best friends and I in the last few months of high school with an irrepairable schism, that still exists today.

    All I can say is, be careful with this church and don’t compromise yourself or your beliefs to fit their perfect mold..I’m glad I never did.

    love and peacecakes,
    louise

  10. Lindsey,
    First of all I am sorry you had such a bad experience in the Xenos high school ministry. It sounds like the situations you described were handled very poorly, and it is unfortunate that you have based your view of the church on those. I would challenge you to think about each situation more, and decide what the particular college leader involved should have done. I would also challege you to really examine what was really going on in these situations; was it really just becuase your friend had a boyfriend that she was asked to leave?
    Second, when asked about your definitions of cult and church, you posted something straight off a website. I wonder what your, personal, thoughtout, definitions of these two groups is? And consequently, how Xenos fits in to either one.
    Third, you, yourself, are the one to decide what meetings you come to, and how much time you want to devote to the fellowship. You are not (and should not be) forced to come to every meeting.
    I honestly think it is terrible that you have had these experiences, and my heart goes out to you. It is unfortunate that you got this view of the church, and do not see the really amazing things God is doing here. I am glad to hear you are still actively following God, and I hope that you will continue to grow and reach others for His kingdom. However, finally, I would challenge you to think about His grace. You did have a bad experience with some Christians, but are they above giving grace to? The God of the universe has forgiven them (not to mention you), so are you able to forgive them? Just because someone is a leader (formally trained or not) doesn’t mean that they do not mess up, or that they do not need God’s grace as well. Because, it is clearly obvious, that we all mess up, and we all need (and can have!) God unending grace and love.

    Ames

  11. Believe me Ames, I have thought about each situation and everything that went on in Xenos a great deal. And quite frankly, as the young person that I was, I don’t think that it was my responsibility to question what the college leader should have done it that case. They were the adults in the situation, therefor, they should have known what to do. And it wasn’t just the college leaders mind you.

    About my friend being asked to leave, yes it was because of her boyfriend. I am sick of being questioned on the entirety and the reality of the situations I have been describing.

    I looked through websites of cult and church definitions until I found ones that define them in the way that I would. What is wrong with that? I then used these to compare to Xenos. I thought that it was quite clear how Xenos fit into these definitions from my previous posts. Maybe you didn’t quite catch that. I’m not sure what the issue is here.

    And finally….Why am I being told the same things and preached to over and over as if I didn’t know these things in the first place?

    You said,
    “Third, you, yourself, are the one to decide what meetings you come to, and how much time you want to devote to the fellowship. You are not (and should not be) forced to come to every meeting.”

    Thank you very much but I think that I know that I can decide when I will come to meetings and such. And how dare you say that I was not forced to come to every meeting. You were not there, you have no idea what the situation was.

    I never said that Xenos didn’t preach good ideals at first. Yes their website is very appealing, but I have FIRST-HAND experience. All I was trying to accomplish by my first post was to share my experience in a place where other people were doing the same. I happened to have a bad experience, as many people have. I also know that many people have had wonderful experiences and thats great. I didn’t expect to trigger such a reaction from everyone. But honestly, I’m really glad it did. It shows that people are out there paying attention. I’m glad that it got Dennis’ attention. (although I definately did not appreciate Dennis referring to me as “some chick.” But that is a whole different issue.)

    I am tired of being underminded and treated as if I am simply trying to stir up controversy by some of the people who have responded to me here. While at the same time, I thank William Tan for seeing my post as it was meant to be seen. I also think that since this simple post has escalated into something much more than first intended, that we should find another way to discuss these issues….as there are clearly some major ones at hand. The blog is getting a little out of hand so please let me know how I can contact you if you want to discuss things further. I mean no ill will. I think there is a lot of good that could eventually come from all of this. While this whole thing has become bigger than I originally thought it would…
    thank you, I guess, for taking the time to care about what I originally wrote.

  12. Well, since my email is being published here, I guess I’ll chime in. I’m the lead pastor here, and also lead the college ministry.
    I posted Lindsey’s story to the college group as a warning to avoid controlling behavior. I don’t know who Lindsey or her friend are, but I definitely don’t want to see controlling behavior exhibited by leaders in our church.
    We normally only ask people to leave if they are involved in ual immorality, which is mandated by scripture in 1 Cor. 5, and is in line with the practice of most evangelical churches. I also know of cases where couples have been asked not to sit in meetings when they are groping each other in a way that is distracting and inappropriate for a Bible study. Whether this was the case here, I don’t know.

    But I certainly reject the suggestion that Xenos is a cult, or that we would ever try to get people not to talk to their parents or non Christian friends. We urge people to be engaged with their culture and their families in love. Xenos is a widely recognized mainline evangelical church. Major Christian leaders like D.A. Carson, Larry Crabb, and Os Guinness wouldn’t be coming to speak at our summer institutes if they thought we were a cult. Our books have been published by some of the biggest mainline Christian publishers like Tyndale House, Navpress, Bethany House (Baker) and Kregel. I don’t think these reputable publishers would be putting out writings by cult leaders.
    We don’t have complete control over what happens in each of our over 250 home churches, but we try to make sure biblical standards are followed at all times. Our leaders do undergo training, amounting to two years of classwork, including specific instructions on avoiding abuse of authority. You can read our training materials for yourself on this at http://www.xenos.org/classes/leadership/leadershipandauth.html
    All our other training materials are also online at http://www.xenos.org/classes/index.htm
    We also practice open accounting and offer public access to our books to any who inquire. That is also not typical of cults.
    I’m sorry Lindsey and Louise had bad experiences here, but thousands of others have had positive life changing experiences here, including deliverance from drugs and other destructive habits, formation of lasting friendships, and of course, personal relationships with God.

  13. Hi, Dennis,

    Just a quick word to thank you for posting, as well as the others; I’m pretty much staying out of this one, having launched it with my initial post in which, of course, I expressed my appreciation for your ministry. Suffice it to say that I had no clue that there’d really be much response to the post—and certainly not that there’d be this type of discussion! As long as the discussion can take place in reasonably cordial terms, I’m content to let it continue. I appreciate so much of what I see coming from Xenos (I still don’t get the ‘no music’ thing!), and while no enterprise on this earth will approach perfection—and of course I’m sorry about the experience of these ladies—I think that you’re on the right track there; keep up the good work!

  14. I was in the college Ministry.

    Now, I would not classify Xenos as a cult per se, but in the college group at least, I saw quite a few cultlike elements in the social structure that the church structure fed. Let me take you on a journey. I will probably tip my identity in sharing this, but I am not too concerned with that.

    I moved to Columbus Ohio in the fall of 1996. I was lonely, immature, and depressed, although at the time I would not have said it as such. It was not long till an acquaintance of mine told me about this meeting in one of the dorm study rooms where a bunch of Christians were having a discussion group. At first, I was against it, but he enticed me with the prospect of attractive young females. Being a young man of 18, I went of course.

    Over the next few weeks, I became a regular attendee, debating points of the Christian faith, and giving the arguments that were presented to me more creedance than they were worth, for at the time I was not trained to spot logical fallacies. To an impressionable mind, they made extraordinary claims, claims of God’s perfect love, perfect justice and whatnot. Growing up in a blue collar catholic family, I ate this stuff up.

    Meanwhile, my class attendance started slipping. I had a lot of evening classes, but was encouraged to attend first CT, and then a homechurch, both while skipping out on classes. My grades plummeted.

    Now I do realize I had a choice here, I could have stuck to my studies, and surely my life would have been easier for it, but I was confused, empty, a lost soul, and one of the promises Xenos made to me about God is that with the spirit, you are no longer empty.

    I accepted Christ on easter of 1997. A week later I was kicked out of school for failing to meet the conditions of my academic probation.

    Now, I am grateful for what came next. Xenos took me in, provided a couch to sleep on till I got a job and an apartment, and when my sublet was up, moved me into a ministry house. By this time, I was attending a homechurch, CT, a cell group, along with myriad prayer meetings.

    I was on a spiritual high at the time. I was learning all I could about God, about Christianity, and looking back was starting to be groomed for leadership. My house and homechurch leaders started referring to “when I would be a leader”.

    Meanwhile, I was still as depressed and as empty as ever. When I talked about this with other xenoids, I was told to keep to the path, God would sort it out.

    I also started seeing things that sat very uneasily with me. All other Christian sects were bashed to one form or another, but particularly Catholics, Jehova Witnesses, and to a lesser extant, Mormons. I won’t even go into the venom reserved for non-Christian religions.

    I started missing meetings due to work, or just being too depressed to leave the house. One hear or there did not merit comment, but if you missed more than three in a month, leaders started coming to you to voice thier concerns for your spiritual walk.

    Finally, a few weeks before Christmas of 1998, things came to a head. I had been neglecting some of my house chores for a few weeks (as had other members of the house, but I was singled out it seems) and was put on probabtion. No missed chores for a month or I was outs. Three days before the month was up, I had been out late with friends seeing a movie, and forgot to do some cleaning. I did it first thing in the morning, but the house leaders decided to make me leave. At first, they wanted me out immediately. I managed to get a whole week out of them.

    Needless to say, a week later I was homeless. I was crushed. Everything I had built my adult life around was suddenly gone. I had no friends outside of the church, as outside friends were not forbidden, but they were not encouraged unless they were outreach. My only support network was two hours away, so I went home to my parents.

    The next year and a half were hard. I was removed from any support network, and was slowly slipping into darkness. Only a handful of people kept up with me, I would thank them, but all but one have left that group.

    I moved back to Columbus in mid 2000, a mental wreck. Like an abused spouse, I went back to the only thing I knew, Xenos. I puttered on for about 7 or 8 months, never regaining the acceptance I had enjoyed previously. I was a fringe member, and outsider. Being on the edge I saw the truly bad aspects of that group. The cliquishness, the social control wielded over members, the selective enforcement of morality and the unhealthy focus on “Sexual Sin”.

    My end with the group came with a woman. We started dating, and she was not Christian. I tried to bring her around at first, but she was offended at the groups attitudes towards other religions. We ended up having sex. Knowing I was violating Xonos’ rules, I removed myself from the group. However, that was not enough. Even though I had left of my own accord, they still instituted their church discipline against me, and the few friends I still had in the group were forbidden from speaking to me “For my own good”.

    It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    Since then, I broke away from the false promises of my faith, and found my own way. I conquered my depression, have built true, lasting friendships, and have finally gotten my life back on track, all the things Xenos tells you are not possible without God, with the undertone that to be right with God you must be right with Xenos. Looking back, I see the broken people they pulled into their group, and some have gon on to lead rich, fulfilling lives, I can honestly say as of my last check, there were not that many in the college group that were.

    I have overcome any resentment I had towards that group, a process that took many years. Through it I have become a better person, and in a way, am glad they treated me the way they did. I would not be the person I am today without Xenos.

    I just hope for all those that go to them listening to false promises of fulfillment and meaning in their life, that they find what they are looking for.

    I invite any and all comments to this on my own blog at gothic_oreo.livejournal.com. I will make a public post with anonymous comments aloud specifically for that purpous.

  15. “Major Christian leaders like D.A. Carson, Larry Crabb, and Os Guinness wouldn’t be coming to speak at our summer institutes if they thought we were a cult. Our books have been published by some of the biggest mainline Christian publishers like Tyndale House, Navpress, Bethany House (Baker) and Kregel. I don’t think these reputable publishers would be putting out writings by cult leaders.”

    Well gee!, that sums it up for me…
    Xenos couldn’t possibly be a cult if they are in line with all of these heavyweights. So cult like behavior can be swept under the rug if you get published or pay some hack speakers to come to your church? Why didn’t I think of that?

    “I’m sorry Lindsey and Louise had bad experiences here, but thousands of others have had positive life changing experiences here, including deliverance from drugs and other destructive habits, formation of lasting friendships, and of course, personal relationships with God.”

    This is a stock answer. I love how people in Xenos are always “feeling for someone” or they are “sorry”, yet they feel justified by everything that they do or say. Never mind that he referred to her as “some chick” in an earlier post, and his email stinks of someone who is extremely inconvenienced.

  16. Well, to dismiss D.A. Carson, Larry Crabb, and Os Guinness as “hack speakers” says a bit more about you, Drew, than it does about Xenos. Whatever these men may be, they certainly aren’t that, but rather some of the finest, deepest, and most committed evangelicals I know of. Perhaps their involvement with Xenos doesn’t end the debate, but these are neither men easily fooled nor able to be bought off…

  17. While I appreciate the level of theological clout these speakers hold, and while they may see Xenos as a fine institution, they aren’t a part of it…They aren’t members of the church and dont really see it’s inner workings…we’ve all admitted to the amazingly powerful sway Xenos has at first.

    It comes off as an amazing place. It’s once you become a member you get sucked into these home churches, cell groups, prayer groups, ministry houses etc, that your life slowly becomes consumed by the church and not much else.

    Happy To Be So’s comment terrifies me, because I can see some of the girls whom I loved with all of my heart during high school ending up with that as their story.

    I’m just so thankful that its not going to happen to me.

    All in all, I think that this is the scariest thing about Xenos Christian Fellowship…it seems perfect at first…then it all just seems to happen so fast, and before you know it, you’re just so consumed by the fellowship that you don’t really notice that it’s taking over your life.

    I think the best thing about this forum is seeing that it wasnt just lindsay, and a few of our other friends who saw it as weird…

  18. “Well, to dismiss D.A. Carson, Larry Crabb, and Os Guinness as “hack speakers” says a bit more about you, Drew, than it does about Xenos. Whatever these men may be, they certainly aren’t that, but rather some of the finest, deepest, and most committed evangelicals I know of. Perhaps their involvement with Xenos doesn’t end the debate, but these are neither men easily fooled nor able to be bought off…”

    The rationale for why Xenos isn’t a cult from an “elder” seems to be these people came to speak at Xenos. I’m not impressed or convinced. Did you address that in your post, no.

  19. Or, yes.

    “Perhaps their involvement with Xenos doesn’t end the debate…” I just wanted to get it on the record that these men are extremely highly-respected folk, more so than making a statement relative to Xenos.

  20. Saying, “Perhaps their involvement with Xenos doesn’t end the debate” is hardly addressing the issue. Again, my post has nothing to do with any debate about Xenos. My post has everything to do with the poor attitude of one of the leaders of Xenos who opened himself up for such criticism by making the comments in the first place. If you are more disturbed because I “dismissed” some people as hacks over a church leader dismissing someone as “some chick” then I can see why my post in this forum is pointless and I’m sorry for you. Having never attended Xenos because of all of the above, I am looking in from the outside. However, I would never attend Xenos because of what I have read from both posts by Dennis, which leads me to believe in the validity of what people are saying about the fellowship.

  21. Drew, you’re right about the rather indelicate wording of “some chick” used apparently by Dennis; that’s a point well-taken.

  22. Drew,

    You seem to have pretty high standards of behavior for people. As a Christian, I have learned that putting such high expectations on humans can be pretty disappointing. Church elders are human just like you and me. If a slur like that has impacted you so, you must be really disappointed with humanity as a whole.

  23. A few nights ago (well a few days before I made my first post here) I went to visit one of my friend’s moms unannounced. You see, until the church more and more absorbed this friend’s life, I saw her family almost every day. She was a second mother to be and I loved, and still love her so much. She came to the door and was so excited to see me and welcomed me with hugs (and of course some kind of baked good, lol) and it was all we could do to stop from crying because it had been so long with so many emotions built up over the years. We talked for the longest time about what had been going on in life and also about her daughter, who is now living in a ministry house. She shared her concerns about the situations, as did I. We then moved on to other things and then it was time to go. As I stepped out the front door, she held me tight and said,
    “Don’t worry, we’ll get *—* back. We’ll get her back.”

    And that is what finally prompted me to write my initial post.

    I’m so relieved that some attention is finally being brought to these issues and I’m really looking forward to some kind of result from all of this. Xenos has the potential to be an amazing place for young people (as I sincerely want to believe it was initially intended) to come to Christ and to be able to learn from His word and to learn how to live out their own lives in a God-pleasing and meaningful way.

    Scripture say’s,
    “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105.

    It is such a simple verse, and I think that is a very important thing to remember here….His word is what brightens the path upon which we walk in life. By the knowledge of his word and the workings of the Holy Spirit within us, we have the ability to see things in life that may otherwise lay in darkness. We are educated by his word and because of this, we can live our lives without fear. Most importantly, we can live our lives.

    One of the issues that I see with Xenos is the facade of free will. I’m not saying that they do not promote free will, but to exercise free will, one must have an independent mind. God gave us the tools to live in Him; he gave us the free will to apply them to situations in our lives. It is how we learn, and most importantly, how we grow.

    It is so important as a Christian to grow. It is important as a Christian to walk and to share his word and it is also important to question everything.

    I think it is incredibly healthy for all of this to be taking place and I am so deeply grateful that so much has come from a simple, well I guess not so simple, post. This has opened up doors for an opportunity for all of us to evaluate who we are in Christ, what our mission is in him and in this world, and I hope, I sincerely hope and pray that if anything, this has caused some of those affiliated with Xenos to pay attention to the way they are orchestrating their church.

    I do not believe, though, that this has solved one single thing. While it has been an amazing relief to voice concerns that I was once afraid to share, It has merely broken ground for what I hope will be a great renovation of some of the things in question with Xenos.

    But again, this is only my hope. As I said before, I don’t believe that there can be any further positive happenings from this list of posts, though that is just my opinion. I hope that we can work together through some other medium to discuss what is going on here, as clearly, many are very concerned here. That is all up to Xenos though. It is their church and how dare I expect them to change based upon my wishes alone? I think that something truly great/beneficial to everyone here could come of this…and in all fairness that is the only thing I can expect.

  24. Drew,

    You seem to have pretty high standards of behavior for people. As a Christian, I have learned that putting such high expectations on humans can be pretty disappointing. Church elders are human just like you and me. If a slur like that has impacted you so, you must be really disappointed with humanity as a whole.

    If a church elder participates in asking someone to leave because of “ual immorality” then they have to be held to a higher standard. He is in a position of power and authority. If Dennis insists that Xenos is not a cult and offers nothing substantial to back it up other then publishing, accounting and the current speakers at his church, why should he get a free pass? If he is representing Xenos, why should I take him seriously? What about anything that he has said would make anyone want to go to Xenos? I thought that when he chimed in with an email that he would have something positive to add in defense of Xenos? Instead he came off pompous and arrogant. Seems to me that there is a high level of hypocrisy. My standards aren’t so high of people in general. We are all inherently flawed. However, this does not negate the responsibility of someone who is a church leader to act somewhat responsibly.

  25. If Dennis insists that Xenos is not a cult and offers nothing substantial to back it up other then publishing, accounting and the current speakers at his church, why should he get a free pass?

    I’m not sure why he would need to say more. You seem to be the only one not convinced. Thousands of people that attend think it is not. One young High School girl throws out a comment and you imply he needs to go above and beyond to prove it. What is this free pass you speak of? A free pass from your opinion? I’m sure he’s more interested in doing God’s work than with what Drew thinks of him. Maybe Xenos’ll just go with the majority on this one. How about you prove it IS a cult? Oh, that’s right, you’ve never been.

  26. Lindsay, nor I, are ‘young high school girls’…And even if we were, how would that discredit our words, thoughts, opinions, or EXPERIENCES. We were the ones placed in positions that compromised and undermined our beliefs, principles and relationships. Lindsay moreso than I.

    And to say that Xenos should side with the majority, as in it’s members–who are, for sincere lack of a better word, ‘brainwashed’ (this isn’t what I mean…but the fellowship offered by xenos is such a powerful drug that many people dont realize that anything is wrong with it…I don’t think it honestly brainwashes anyone)into thinking that it’s perfect. So it’s hardly a valid point of contention.

    And it is obviously not only Lindsay or I who feel this way. And even so…if only one or two people have felt alienated or worse yet, a complete loss of faith in my case ( for many years after xenos I felt there was no God, b/c of my experiences there) isn’t that a sign that it’s maybe a time for a reformation of sorts?

    I have heard many leaders in the past express major concern that another major schism is imminent, similar to the one that occured about a decade ago….Isn’t that another sign that Xenos may need to work on a few things?

    I have to say I hope it does, cause I agree with Lindsay wholeheartedly that Xenos couls be an amazing place with amazing potential for spiritual outreach and growth. But if a place doesnt evolve, change, learn from past mistakes at the most inward levels, it will fall apart from within. I just hope that this whole thing can maybe cause some members of Xenos to wonder how it can grow and change for the better

  27. OK, so you can replace “young high school girl” with “TWO young high school girls”. I know that sounds smart, but it is pretty far fetched to believe that thousands of people from young to old feel one way and a couple of young women another, and the latter have it figured out. (Oh, and Drew who doesn’t count because he bases all opinions on a blog, having never seen for himself). Maybe it is true that thousands are wrong and you two are right, but come on.

  28. Pedro, did you read my comment, and please don’t try to undermine me by callin a young high school girl again.

    The point that I am trying to make here is that if even just a handful of people are being put in these situations by their CHURCH, no less, then something needs to fixed and fast.

    I’m sure that many people have fantastic experiences at Xenos. Conversely many do not. In consequence something should be done to remedy the problem.

    I don’t think this issue should just be under-rug-swept. I feel like thiscould be a great opportunity for growth, as I said before. Something great could come out of this. And I really hope it does. If people are willing to put forth the time and effort needed to hopefully rectify and even improve the church. It could be an unreal program for it.

    I am a firm believer that if something is not growing, then it is dying. And stagnations is a terrible and dangerous thing.

  29. By biblical standards of living and teaching I applaude Xenos. What as a Xenoid I see as the CULT issue is the social engineering.

    Louise made the correct point that when you first attend, it all seems great. Alot of it, stays great. In some regard: some of the best bible studies you will find in central Ohio, People do have real deep relationships with one another, there is a focus on really living your life as God intends for his people. I will even answer Byron on the music factor: Non-believers don`t like Christian music, and even some believers, myself included, aren`t really musically inclined when it comes to worship. Matter of personal preference I guess.

    I will also make this a public apology for the Xenos emails I used in my previous post as it was a bit out of order. However, the intent was to make a point: Dennis has historically been known to just discount negative feedback that he recieves from former attendents. At times even referencing emails he recieves in teachings, telling the flock how the information is “obviously false” or “misguided”. I profess that I bit my tongue at times because I have seen plenty of examples of the things he recieves in emails and reads on boards such as this, really happening, as he turns a blind eye and a deaf ear, all the while trying to convince the rest of us to do the same.

    I mince no words when I tell you the Xenos lifestyle is very time consuming. It leaves little time for real evangelism, on the one on one level, meeting people where there at, apart from bringing them to the outreach friendly meetings of Homechurch or Central Teaching. The regular routine is Mon) Home Church, your core coed group that you are encouraged to have the closest friendships with. Tue) “Date night” when we are encouraged to go out with someone of the opposite sex in a serving manner, that is also encouraged be types we don`t find romantically attractive. Wed) Class night, we are all very strongly encouraged to take a series of classes that will have us prepared for teaching roles and leadership/administration roles in the fellowship Thurs.) Central Teaching, our large bible study where several Home Churches come together. Fri) Cell Group, same sex bible study were you are encouraged to make these your “closest relationships” no matter what the differences in your personalities or views. Home Church related social activities are strongly encouraged on Saturday. If you live in a Ministry House you usually have a house meeting with all room mates on Sunday. If your a student, throw all your studying in for school, Xenos classes, and personal bible. Maybe you will find time for a hobbie or any unchurch related activities, if you don`t sleep.

    I know it was stated in a earlier post that “you choose the number of meetings you attend.” True, no one is going to put a gun to your head and force you by threat of death to attend all of the scheduled meetings. However, if for example you decide to skip HC or CT on a regular basis to pursue ANY non church related interests (investing in your family, taking non Xenos evening classes, investing into unbelieving friends that refuse to come to meetings, ect.), you will quickly be approuched by peers, leaders, or both, and pursuaded to not skip for the sake of your “spiritual growth”. If you are a regular established member and you do not submit, you will be BROWN BEAT, until you do submit or go insane from the topic always being brought up to you.

    Xenos preaches to be in the world, but not of it, which is SO CORRECT. Yet close relationships with anyone who does not attend Xenos are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. Members are discouraged from being involved in helping family members in times of trouble if it takes away from meeting attendance and Xenos events. True committed friendships with non-christians that do not attend Xenos meetings are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. Sometimes this is the only way we can present Gods love and truth to people. Because of the strong discouragement, many Xeniods drop friendships with folks who don`t come to Xenos functions within two months or so. Yep, that really shows them God`s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. We are pretty much trained to stay in our bubble and keep our hands busy, so as not to fall to the temptations of the world. Funny how values and spiritual discipline only work within a communities protective bubble. The Apostle Paul surely reflects this way of living in the majority of the New Testiment, doesn`t he? That Jesus guy, always hanging out with criminals and prostitutes, what the hell was he thinking?!?!

    All Xenoids are called to be leaders. Everyone is groomed and pushed to teach regardless of personal desire or ability. I encourage you all to read 1 Corinthians, the entirity of chapter 12 to be specific. I read another earlier post where the young lady said that Xenos leaders are pretty much clones of one ideal, and yes, this is not an exageration at all. No wonder the more “supernatural” of the giftings don`t manifest in Xenoids, we are too busy being focused on one way of being. I have even witnessed people gifted with prophesy (literally second sight) pushed to pray to God to take the Satanic attack from them. (But I degress, as alot of Christians today don`t seem to grasp that just like in the first century God still bistows “supernatural gifts”. Why I feel I can share my own with few.)

    Control is exerted even over the dating relationships of adults. Opinions, everyone has them, nothing wrong with that, but this stuff gets extreme. Most, granted not all, Xenoids get engaged within 6 months to a year of thier relationship beginning. Most will not date someone beyond three months unless all possible issues point to being ready to walk the isle, right then. Fear of sexual sin is the main reason. Too bad one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit isn`t self control…..it is? Somebody tell Xenos that. It is hard enough working out the details of a deep, Godly, romantic relationship with one person, without constantly being barraged with other peoples opinions of that person. Granted this is useful when sin issues are cropping up or when the relationship is truely unhealthy, but practically all dating relationships, even the obviously healthy ones, have people constantly putting thier negative two cents in.

    I put this so bluntly because I want Xenoids to get a broader perspective than they hold on to. I want them to grow stronger and succeed. I want people who are experiencing these problems to not be afraid to speak up and address them. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I am your brother, your sister, your mom, your dad, your best friend, that guy picking his nose at CT, I AM YOU.

    With Peace and Security,
    Matrix

    [email protected]

  30. “OK, so you can replace “young high school girl” with “TWO young high school girls”. I know that sounds smart, but it is pretty far fetched to believe that thousands of people from young to old feel one way and a couple of young women another, and the latter have it figured out. (Oh, and Drew who doesn’t count because he bases all opinions on a blog, having never seen for himself). Maybe it is true that thousands are wrong and you two are right, but come on.”

    My “opinion” is derived from one of the Xenos leaders own words. He is the face of the fellowship like it or not, and you are strengthening my case.

  31. A SUGGESTION I MEAN TO BE CONSTRUCTIVE: For whatever reason, a blog post I made nearly two-and-a-half years ago has suddenly caught fire, once Lindsay saw it and responded, even catching Dennis McCallum up in it. IT’S ON THE RADAR SCREEN, in other words, and while the tone here has gotten a tad edgy at times, it’s been mostly constructive, and I appreciate that. But here’s the challenge: there are 3-4 of you guys who have been vitally involved with Xenos, and they know you’re out there, so why not band together and draft a joint email to Dennis and the leadership, identifying, using the same tone you generally have (constructive and balanced) the issues with the college ministry that you think are out-of-balance. Engage in direct dialogue with the leadership there. See what kind of response you get; see if you can be a force for good and for change, wherever change might be needed.

    Xenos is an elephant, size-wise, and one of my favorite children’s stories is the “Five Blind Men from Hindustan”, who each seize a fraction of the elephant and extrapolate the totality of an elephant from the fraction they’ve seized. I don’t in the least think Xenos is a “cult”, of course, but that doesn’t mean that segments of the elephant might not have gotten too close to cult-like control (I don’t make that charge; just hypothesizing based upon comments). OK…then use your words to exhort, now, and edify, and do so directly to the folks involved.

    We’re all in process, folks, including the folks at Xenos; let’s do what we can to stimulate one another to love and good works. Whaddya say?

  32. Matrix, please e-mail me and maybe you and I and/or Louise and whomever else could discuss what is going on here and put something a little more constructive together here. I really, really appreciate your posts and would love to talk about things with you.

    As Byron said, “why not band together and draft a joint email to Dennis and the leadership, identifying, using the same tone you generally have (constructive and balanced) the issues with the college ministry that you think are out-of-balance. Engage in direct dialogue with the leadership there. See what kind of response you get; see if you can be a force for good and for change, wherever change might be needed. ”

    I agree completely. E-mail me if you can.

    i welcome anyone else who wants to e-mail me/be a part of organizing…whatever we end up organizing.

  33. Matrix, please e-mail me and maybe you and I and/or Louise and whomever else could discuss what is going on here and put something a little more constructive together here. I really, really appreciate your posts and would love to talk about things with you.

    As Byron said, “why not band together and draft a joint email to Dennis and the leadership, identifying, using the same tone you generally have (constructive and balanced) the issues with the college ministry that you think are out-of-balance. Engage in direct dialogue with the leadership there. See what kind of response you get; see if you can be a force for good and for change, wherever change might be needed. ”

    I agree completely. E-mail me if you can.

    i welcome anyone else who wants to e-mail me/be a part of organizing…whatever we end up organizing.

    lind[email protected]

  34. Okay, I want to share a perspective on the rap that Xenos takes too much time. For most of us, hanging around with people in the fellowship is also hanging around with our friends. It’s what we WANT to do. I can think of no better activity for an evening than hanging around with some great friends, especially if we’re going to fellowship with God.

    Now for people who don’t have a good relationship with God, a life of commitment and self sacrifice can seem pretty weird, even cultlike. But a life consumed with self-gratification or making money makes perfect sense. We’re not a Sunday-go-to-meeting style church. We’re a community where people want to be engaged with each other deeply, and that means inveting time into relationships. You can’t have close community handed in through the window like a McDonald’s sack. Anything of value takes investment.

    As far as someone’s concern that Xenos leaves no time for evangelism or for friendships with non Christians or family, I wonder why Xenos sees more non Christians coming to Christ than 95% of the churches in our area? Why are 60% of the people in Xenos formerly non Christians? Is this because we have nothing to do with the world outside the church?

    I also am skeptical about the claim that people ride you if you don’t want to be more involved. Sure they may ask where you were, but what’s wrong with that. There are hundreds of people who come to one meeting a week or even less and have been that way for years, and nobody’s saying anything about it.

    The one dude says he was living in a ministry house. That’s a different matter. Ministry houses are for people who are into commitment, and that’s spelled out clearly before someone moves into one. You can see our ministry house covenant at http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/minhse.htm
    But joining a ministry house is a special commitment made by people who chose to, not for members in general. I see nothing wrong with having a high commitment option available within a church for those who want it.

    At risk of being guilty of “dismissing” protest (wow, I guess that’s pretty unfalsifyable isn’t it? I either agree that we’re full of crap or I’m a dismisser! Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.) I think I’ll continue to believe that living in a high-commitment community of people who love God and love each other is cool as anything. If people want a church that won’t cost much and won’t intrude in other interests or time commitments, there are hundreds of them available in town, and you should go there. I’m not interested losing our cutting edge radical commitment to God and to community.

  35. Dennis, are you willing to discuss any issues w/xenos on a deeper, more constructive level or not? That is what I need to know here because I don’t want to waste my time if you have no interest in it. Your last post here gives the the impression (and I could be entirely wrong, so forgive me if I am) that you have no interest in considering the ideas/experiences that people have/are having here.

  36. Dennis,

    Glad that your paying attention to some concerns. Now, I`m praying for you to really consider how these issues effect people as individuals.

    Here is a commen summery of how a new attendant views Xenos upon arrival.

    1) THE LOVE BOMB: You are surrounded by many new faces who want to invest in you and learn about you. People begin to earn your trust and befriend you. This is good, but, if you go on with life as you were living it and decide not to commit to attending Xenos, rarely will these friends see keeping a real relationship with you as being worth thier time. This paints a picture to the wandering Christian and more so to the unbeliever that they are viewed as a project and not as a valuable person. Close friendships with non-christians that do not have interest in attending Xenos meetings are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED because the time spent with those friends could be used to reach someone who will accept Christ more readily. Sometimes this is the only way we can present Gods love and truth to people. I know some folks here have examples of friends that have become aware of Gods unconditional love and have accepted his truths only because of extended and close friendship with a believer. Because of the strong discouragement, many Xeniods drop friendships with folks who don`t come to Xenos functions within two months or so. Yep, that really shows them God`s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. We need to have consideration, not to put time limits on the unbelieving and if we commit to close friendship, to see it through, NO MATTER WHAT THE VISIBLE RESULTS. (Matthew 11:19, John 15:13)

    2) THE LOST ONE ACCEPTS JESUS` SACRIFICE: The new believer is now encouraged to attend both HC and CT meetings to learn how to walk in the Christian life. Once they do this, and at this point it only makes sense, they are invited to Cell in order to have a more focused study and discussion in a small group of the same sex, to facilitate openess about personal issues and struggles. Very soon after after this, the new person will be invited to move into a Ministry House.

    I wish it was as simple as the question just being asked and the house covenent that Dennis refers to in his last post being presented, to be considered and a personal choice made. But in reality, this is always also accompanied by all of this persons new friends saying things such as “this is the best way for you to grow”, “this is what God wants for you”, “this will prepare you for a future marriage”, “your selling yourself short if you don`t”. This barage is presented to a young (in experience) believer, who knows not much more what it takes to walk with God and grow than what is being presented by these peers. No one will present this as not a fit for everyone. Everyone who addresses the new one about this step makes it seem as it is just the right thing to do.

    3)MINISTRY HOUSE LIFE: Now, this offer is rarely turned down, as the new comer has been sufficiently addressed by all those they trust. As Dennis pointed out, now you are locked into the commitment of attenteding HC, CT, and Cell every week, unless rare situation calls for missing. This now also adds a house meeting to the weekly schedule. This can be a great experience and Dennis is right, it is for those who want to be very committed. The problem is, few are experienced enough to realise how much of a commitment they are agreeing to. Most don`t know yet how to seek God actively in prayer, search themselves, and wait for a clear answer to see if this is the best way for thier life. It may or may not be, but most commit from simply being convinced by peers that it is the thing to do.

    Mark my words, and if any other Xenoid who is reading this is honost and observant, they will agree. The above steps usually move fairly fast. Houses continuosly create very detailed plans on how to recruit and convince the new folk to move in, while preplanning and projecting how to split thier houses and form two from them. Wash, rinse, repeat. This is a VERY DRIVING MOTIVATION for them. Often it seems that they will sacrifice quality in the growth of thier members spiritual lives for quantity of members in Ministry Houses and quantity or total Houses. My concern is for them not to give up on this general model of growth, but to slow it down and get thier members grounded and grown enough to efficiently handle the new growth process with success.

    4) NOW THAT YOU ARE A FULLY COMMITTED MEMBER: The member is now very strongly encouraged to take a series of classes that will have them prepared for teaching roles and leadership/administration roles in the fellowship. These are great classes. Once again, there is nothing wrong with making a suggestion to someone and letting them make a decision. Unfortunately your peers will push and continuosly bring this up with you until you register and commit. IT IS THE BROWN BEATING THAT MAKES THIS A SOCIAL ENGINEERING MACHINE.

    “I also am skeptical about the claim that people ride you if you don’t want to be more involved. Sure they may ask where you were, but what’s wrong with that. There are hundreds of people who come to one meeting a week or even less and have been that way for years, and nobody’s saying anything about it.” -Dennis

    That would be normal in most fellowships Dennis. Too bad it isn`t true in your College Ministry.

    “I know it was stated in a earlier post that “you choose the number of meetings you attend.” True, no one is going to put a gun to your head and force you by threat of death to attend all of the scheduled meetings. However, if for example you decide to skip HC or CT on a regular basis to pursue ANY non church related interests (investing in your family, taking non Xenos evening classes, investing into unbelieving friends that refuse to come to meetings, ect.), you will quickly be approuched by peers, leaders, or both, and pursuaded to not skip for the sake of your “spiritual growth”. If you are a regular established member and you do not submit, you will be BROWN BEAT, until you do submit or go insane from the topic always being brought up to you.” -Matrix

    I stand on this statement. Years of experience with various HCs assure me I am VERY CORRECT. Did I say in this remark that it was only the standard heald to those who live in Ministry Houses? No I did not. Yes, on paper your statemant that that is the case appears true. However, in reality, my statement is true of the College Ministry as a whole. Any honost and observant member knows this to be the truth. Nothing wrong with being skeptical of my view brother. Take the time to investigate it, pray over it, get evidence of the truth for yourself one way or the other. I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with asking were someone was, or what is going on in thier life. However the problem is when the answer does not involve a sin issue or does involve real family needs, because blood family comes before church, when they are believers that need our support and help, or when we are working to reach those of them still lost. I also have had personal burden when time is needed to spent with friends under the same conditions that can not, or do not want to attend Xenos functions. When an answer is given that falls into conditions such as these, the issue should rest, and if continued any further, ahould be directed tward how the Body can aid the situation. NOT IN FINDING EVERY ARGUMENT TO CONVINCE THE MEMBER WHY THEY NEED TO MAKE THE MEETINGS THERE FIRST PRIORITY.
    Maybe your statement is true of other Ministries within Xenos, but of College Ministry, my statemant is true.

    “Okay, I want to share a perspective on the rap that Xenos takes too much time. For most of us, hanging around with people in the fellowship is also hanging around with our friends. It’s what we WANT to do. I can think of no better activity for an evening than hanging around with some great friends, especially if we’re going to fellowship with God.” -Dennis

    “Because of the strong discouragement, many Xeniods drop friendships with folks who don`t come to Xenos functions within two months or so. Yep, that really shows them God`s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. We are pretty much trained to stay in our bubble and keep our hands busy, so as not to fall to the temptations of the world. Funny how values and spiritual discipline only work within a communities protective bubble. The Apostle Paul surely reflects this way of living in the majority of the New Testiment, doesn`t he? That Jesus guy, always hanging out with criminals and prostitutes, what the hell was he thinking?!?!”
    -Matrix

    I stand on this view as well. Your statement only stregthens mine. You need to consider how you are hearding these young people to give up on and not to invest in relationships outside of Xenos. You are correct that you need to invest into the Body as well. I`m just presenting a more balanced view. The World is not the dark and scary place members begin to refer to it as, There is alot to be learned by forming close relationships with some folks who don`t automatically accept spiritual truth. You get a balanced perspective of society and they get God`s love in return. That kind of investment does save hard to touch souls.

    Dennis and all other Xenos members who find my statements offensive,

    I know alot of you are thinking about the cliche Xenos phrase, “How can so many people think your wrong, but you still feel that you are right?” Simple, the scriptures are full of single men and small minority groups of men that followed God`s conviction on thier hearts to deliver powerful changing messages to the majority. I feel that the effort put into this debate is totally worth it because even if none of you totally agree, or agree at all with anything I have to say, I have still planted seeds of a broader perspective that the Spirit of The Almighty will work in your hearts to either confirm or deny. I was moved to act when I saw a young woman state her opinion of her personal experience, in a pretty even handed way. In response our head Rev. and Elder tried to made a pretty arrogant statement about her opinion and sugar coat it with “I posted Lindsey’s story to the college group as a warning to avoid controlling behavior. I don’t know who Lindsey or her friend are, but I definitely don’t want to see controlling behavior exhibited by leaders in our church.” Dennis, the topic “Implausible Message” and the statement…

    “It’s sickening to think this kind of thing is on the web. I love the way she has the leaders deciding who she can sit by and date. but we should all think about this and be careful to avoid all controlling behavior.”

    First half, looks to me like you were more concerned with any negative opinions being published about Xenos in the public media. Your statment seems to show that you discredit her statements and sarcastically. Then you throw a simple request out at the end to avoid being controlling.

    Then soon after, two Xenoid women popped over to start systematically picking her post apart. That shows alot of love and compassion for someone who has had a rough experience in your fellowship! Not one single Xenoid`s first idea was to address her and get her entire story, research if thier was validity, and if so, reconcile. Dave, I do applaude you for being even handed in your post and not accusitory. However, several of you have referanced the Xenos website as a defense. This does not hold alot of credibility in this day and age because anyone can create a website and define thier belief in print. Doesn`t always mean that the printed standerd is followed without wavering. Actions always speak louder than words in the end. I acted on conviction to speak my mind and heart in defense of someone who only needed someone to withhold judgement for once and listen, for that I have no shame.

    With Peace and Security,
    Matrix
    [email protected]

  37. To Matrix:
    First, people shouldn’t be calling on members to drop friendships with non Christians. The only cases I’ve seen where something similar to this has happened is when someone comes home drunk or stoned every time they hang out with their old crowd. Believers might point out that you should think about not hanging out with them until you get stronger in the Lord. I’ve seen that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen what you’re talking about, where it’s viewed as bad to have friends outside the fellowship. That would fly right in the face of frequent public calls that we should make and nurture friendships with nonChristians.

    You said “Because of the strong discouragement, many Xeniods drop friendships with folks who don`t come to Xenos functions.” That might happen sometimes like it did with some of my friends. When I became a Christian they constantly gave me crap about it, made fun of it, and worked double time to get me to get high with them. They also forbade me to talk about God around them. I decided they weren’t really my friends, and I was too weak to continue hanging around watching them party. I don’t feel guilty about that at all. And later, a couple of those guys realized my life was better off than theirs, and they looked me up and ended up finding God.

    I had another friend who wasn’t a party guy, but he always wanted me to drop what I was doing and go to his thing, but he made it clear that he would never consider checking out my thing. I got tired of the one-way rule and told him, “you know where I am.” I didn’t feel like compromising my own progress for the sake of someone who wasn’t open-minded at all. I don’t feel bad about that one either. What kind of friendship is it when one person dictates, “we’re only going to do things of interest to me, never the things of interest to you.”? So, yeah, I imagine some of this happens, just like people are constantly making new friends and losing old ones in any setting. If you always kept the same friends for life, how would you ever make new friends? I felt like this dude and I were headed different directions, and it was increasingly boring to me to sit around and talk about the trivial stuff he wanted to talk about. So I let him know I was setting a direction and he was welcome to come along, or find something else to do. Nothing wrong with that.

    I still think the heart of the issue is whether the body of Christ should be a place where people live a high commitment lifestyle, or whether church should be a footnote to your week (oh, and I went to church too). What do you do with the New Testament picture that shows believers at that time saying “And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had” Acts 2:44 (NLT) and also 46 “46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” That’s not a very good description of the modern church. But it’s a great description of people who are really excited about what God is doing and about building each other up. See also Heb. 10:25 where it says forsaking gatherings of the body is bad. what comes accross in your posts is that you are scandalized by the idea of a high-commitment community, and you envision one where nobody asks you your business, nobody interfers with your plans, nobody criticizes you, and in a word, it’s just real disengaged, real privatized, no expectations, like the rest of modern culture. No thanks. Not for me. I believe I need to be called out at times when I’m losing focus, or being lazy, or not coming through with my contribution.

    On ministry houses, you say, “This can be a great experience and Dennis is right, it is for those who want to be very committed. The problem is, few are experienced enough to realise how much of a commitment they are agreeing to.” And then, if a brother realizes he doesn’t want that level of commitment, he moves out of the house–something you’re free to do at any time. You’re making it sound like you’re trapped once you move into a ministry house like you joined a monastery or something. This happens all the time. People realize they aren’t into this level of commitment and they annouce they’re moving out. that’s that.

    You add, “Houses continuosly create very detailed plans on how to recruit and convince the new folk to move in, while preplanning and projecting how to split thier houses and form two from them.” You make this sound all conspiritorial with the “detailed plans” language. but what’s the real truth. People in houses try to recruit their friends to move in (provided they have become Christians and understand the commitments in the covenant) and plant new houses. So what? Most churches try to “recruit” people. We believe people need to know about God and need to learn how to walk with him. Reaching out to people who need God actually a good thing. But you’re making it sound scandalous and devious. “Social engineering” is a real rhetorical spin-job on something that is actually nothing more sinister than trying to multiply home churches–a practice straight out of the New Testament. And I’m not into even considering going away from that to some other alternative.

    By the way, what is your alternative? Just sit with the same people, and leave it at that? How do you think a growing church should handle its growth, if planting new houses and home churches is “social engineering”?

    Brother, I don’t know if you had some people pressuring you wrongfully or not. It can happen, and even when well-intentioned, that’s wrong. But your characterization as a whole is just a super-negative interpretation of something I feel is beautiful–a bunch of people who love each other and are trying to grow spiritually and reach out to the rest of the world too. I bet there are hundreds here who will never accept your picture of this self-serving social engineering cult that seals people off from the world. That picture is just BS.

    A final point: you said “Xenos website …does not hold alot of credibility in this day and age because anyone can create a website and define thier belief in print.” But you miss the point that these are the actual outlines that are taught in our classes and and constitute our policy. The ministry house covenant is actually used as you see it to explain house commitment, and the other outlines are directly from classes and anyone who has taken one will tell you those are the handouts as you see them. So again, your picture, that we’re this group that puts up phony position papers to cover our “real” agenda is just a paranoid spin that is totally false. Why does this self-serving entity drop a couple million dollars every year serving the poor? Who is the hidden sinister one who is benefitting from all this control? Me? My life is wide open. I live a quiet life of moderate income, drive an old car, and live with my family and friends–they all know what I’m up to all the way. My house cost 114K and people hang out there all the time. Leaders of groups like you’re describing are millionaires. Your story just doesn’t add up.

    You sound like you’re really bitter about your experiences here, and that’s affecting your perception. You should rethink you’re whole view.

  38. It’s been very very very interesting reading these responses. I too used to go to Xenos, and chose not to stick with it for many of the reasons stated above and then some.

    I have one friend who still goes to Xenos meetings and lives in a college ministry house, to make a long story short I never see her. The only time she’ll hang out with me is if I come to a Xenos gathering. She never sees her family anymore, and every time I see her she wants to probe my spiritual life, not in a way that feels helpful or Godly, but rather offensive and intrusive. It’s great to talk about God, but I get vibes from her that she’s always judging me; she defiantly has the mind set that, “Xenos is the only real way to be a Christian,” and it’s like I can’t possibly fellowship with her because I don’t know the deep and Godly ways of Xenos fellowship and am therefore unworthy.

    I believe that Xenos has good intentions, but…I think that the way that the college ministry is set up, it makes it easy for members to get sucked into Xenos, to the point that they no longer have a life outside of Xenos, when in reality I believe that the intent of Xenos is to provide individuals with the tools they need to no longer have a life outside of God. I believe, however, that God and Xenos become so directly related with each other that it may be hard for members to find one without the other. Perhaps it becomes difficult to see God without Xenos teachings, prayer groups, and fellowship. This causes individuals to make the personal decision to hold onto Xenos so tightly that they begin to drift away from their families and friends outside of the church. The close knit accountability may actually teach members to depend on one another to a point that they don’t fully lean on God. –this is how I feel when I’m with my friend from Xenos, that because I’m not of Xenos, in her mind I’m not of God either…somewhere along the way she isn’t able to separate the two…perhaps this is where people gather that some Xenoids appear “brainwashed,” or eerily dedicated to their fellowship with Xenos members.

  39. Xenos IS a cult. Read Steve Hassan’s =Combating Cult Mind-Control= or Margaret Thaler Singer’s =Cults in Our Midst=, and you will see what I mean. Parents of cult members are Satanized. Techniques such as love bombing, guilting, and loaded language are used. (See Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Mind Control, all of which are in use by this cult.) Xenos members associate only with other Xenos members. They try to recruit everyone they meet, and if a person is unrecruitable, they are shunned. Underage minor children are no exception; in fact, they are the rule. Behavior modification is a science and Xenos uses it in a pattern of conversion “by any means necessary.” It is neither “Christian” nor ethical, but rather is hardcore evangelical fundamentalism, with an underlying motivation of control for the sake of control and control for the sake of money. There is absolutely nothing “Christian” about it; it is all about manipulation and control and empire-building. The “prayer group” is the place where potential converts are discussed, the weak spots identified, and a proposed plan of manipulation decided upon. It seems to me that there is something wrong with an organization that is tax-exempt by the government using mind-control on taxpaying citizens. Shouldn’t we have the inalienable right of not being subjected to mind control by a government-supported entity?

  40. Darwin,

    Whatever Xenos might be, it is categorically not a cult, and it’s interesting that even its critics who’ve posted here have, for the most part, had many good things to say along with some selected criticisms. Xenos is made up of people, and wherever you have people, you have sin and imperfection, and so to suggest that there’s never been anything that it “out of bounds” take place at Xenos would be ludicrous; fair enough. That said, Xenos is a place that is attempting to be true to first-century New Testament Christian faith. For a good idea of what that looked like, read the end of Acts 2. There’s no doubt whatever, when you read the list of what was happening there, that many would call the early church a “cult”. I mean, every day those folks were “in church”; they got together all the time, shared properly communally (voluntarily, of course; they were not socialists), propagated the gospel of Christ aggressively to those who were not yet converts. To the outside world, the term “cult” would almost certainly have been what it looked like. If faithfulness to the New Testament pattern of the church earns a church the title “cult”, then I’d say, “wear that badge with honor!”

    I think that it might have been Vance Havner (or it wasn’t!) who said words to the effect that the typical Christian experience is so sub-normal that when a person (church) begins to act normally, most folks will call it “abnormal”. Xenos exists as an answer to the low-commitment, low-expectation “Christianity” that is epidemic in our society. Can anyone really make an argument that the high-commitment, high-expectation climate of first century Christianity bears much resemblance to a “Christianity” that makes church members out of people who sporadically flatten their fannies on a pew for an hour on Sunday morning when the notion strikes them? Sad thing is, in altogether too many cases, this is seen as the norm; that’s why Christian faith is in such a sad state today in our country. If Xenos occasionally “goes overboard” (defined as “sometimes a member/leader might go a little too far”, or “sometimes a person is perceived to be ‘shunning’ an individual”—which I guarantee 100% is NOT endorsed by Xenos leadership, over and out), then that’s a shame, and should be corrected lovingly. But if you want to argue that because of some possible excesses here or there, the whole outfit is a cult (whereas contemporary American evangelical faith is acceptable), sorry, but NO SALE.

    Finally, “tax exempt” doesn’t equal “government-supported” except under the most twisted of interpretations, and nobody is subjecting anybody to “mind control” as you claim, with the suggestion that “taxpaying citizens” are, without their consent, being subjected to it. C’mon, Darwin, perhaps you don’t like this entity named Xenos; fair enough. But you overmake your case by about double when you get silly like you did in the last couple of sentences…

  41. From OSU’s Lantern (just substitute the name “Xenos”:
    Faculty battle high-pressure cults with new brochure
    Jesus Chavez III
    Issue date: 10/12/05 Section: Campus
    PrintEmail Article Tools

  42. This article is talking about the International Church of Christ, which IS a cult. What a good illustration of Darwin’s fallacy. Compare the activities of this dangerous group to Xenos and you’ll see night and day. They are all about control, even controling members schedules, who they can date, their finances, won’t allow members to go to bars, movies, concerts, or other churches…they even dictate what clothes they can wear. They keep changing their name, as the article points out to escape public scrutiny, and evade their own bad reputation. They have no transparency or accountability like Xenos does. Nobody knows what they do with their money or who is in charge. Everything is secret. Every evangelical organization has identified them as a cultish organization.
    To suggest Xenos is like this would only be scoffed at by people who actually know the church.

  43. I know the church and it is a cult. I went there for 4 years. Thank GOD I left. Darwin is right. If you had a mind to think for yourself, you’d see you’re a puppet too.

  44. And a pleasant good evening to you too, Miss Emily…though I find it disappointing that you feel the need to resort to insults in order to attempt to make your point. Then again, since you offer nothing helpful or informative in the way of arguing for or against the assertion, perhaps that’s the only hand you’ve got, I don’t know. So a brief word to you: first, you’re certainly welcome to join in the discussion here! Second, though, what we try to do here is to discuss issues substantively instead of make silly ad hominem attacks against each other, feeling that resorting to such is not only sub-Christian, but that they weaken one’s credibility. If you’d like to add something of substance to the discussion, like Ross Perot, we’re all ears! If, however, you just like to flame, then perhaps there are about a million other sites that would be better suited to that.

    Thanks!

  45. Tee hee. Methinks the Bible huckster doth protest too much. Whatsa matter? Did she scare you? For the benefit of those readers who might be unduly impressed by the fact that you used a big word, and are therefore ready to lie down in front of you and submit, let me explain that an “ad hominem” argument is one that attacks the person presenting the argument rather than the argument itself. What “Miss” Emily was saying is that Xenos members are not thinking for themselves because they have been subjected to mind control, social engineering, and behavior modification (in other words, they’re all brainwashed). Rather than respond to her charge, first you denigrated her as “Miss” Emily (the same way that another women who challenged Xenos in a former post was denigrated as “some chick”), as though Emily’s assertion is not valid because of the fact that she is female, and then you called her “sub-Christian,” as though that assertion should negate everything she said. Perhaps you have a direct line to God and you can go tell him that “Miss” Emily is being bad (i.e. challenging YOU) and then he’ll send a thunder bolt. Or perhaps “Miss” Emily is an 86-year-old married grandmother with three degrees in behavior modification. It seems to me that your denigration of “Miss” Emily to a sub-male and sub-Christian status is more “ad hominem” than her assertion that Xenos members are mind-controlled. The “substantive issue” is that Xenos uses mind control, behavior modification, and social engineering on children, and they have a tax-exempt status while they are doing it. And when these sub-Christian practices are challenged, the challenger is referred to as “sub-Christian.”

  46. The “Bible huckster”? Interesting, and quite the shame, Darwin, because I’d have lifted you up as an example of the kind of person that “gets” what we’re trying to do here—have a substantive discussion of the issues, which is exactly what your first post entailed, and even though I wholeheartedly disagree with it, I respect those who take the time to actually make their case. A shame that you feel the need to make like Emily…

    “Scare me”? Please…

    “Ad hominem” is a term that I assume most of my readers understand, not one I use to impress anyone, honestly, and certainly not to make anyone “submit”, whatever you mean by that.

    As to Emily’s remarks and my comments, I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of Xenos; I’ve been inside their building twice. She suggested that I was “brainwashed”, as you call it (though likely she’d make the same assertion regarding Xenos members). I suppose, then, that a person outside of Xenos who finds your (and her) assertions to be overkill is automatically a “puppet” or “brainwashed”. If you’re omniscient, then that works quite well, but until you get there, you’re gratuitously tossing out a pejorative that does neither of you any credit, particularly Emily who made no attempt at a rational argument, unlike you.

    Sorry that you find “Miss Emily” to be so “sub-Christian” because it “denigrates” her as unworthy because she is “female”. That’s a very interesting spin, Darwin, but since you seem to agree with her that the only explanation for my disagreement with Emily must be that I’m brainwashed, that any right-thinking person would agree with you, then you must be all-knowing and thus able to get inside my brain as to why I used the term, “Miss Emily”. I find it, rather than demeaning, to be a gentle (Southern) term of endearment—perhaps with a tinge of sarcasm given her comments, sure—but demeaning and dismissive because she’s a female? Like I said…INTERESTING spin, there.

    Next, I most assuredly did NOT call her “sub-Christian”; you should read more carefully. I called the use of ad hominem ATTACKS “sub-Christian”. I have utterly zero knowledge of the dear lady’s (oops, that terms is probably demeaning too, right?) stance before God, and wouldn’t presume to comment upon it. What I can do is to say that there are words/behaviors that are out of bounds, and simple ad hominem attacks qualify, and are sub-Christian. Period. That effectively negates the rest of your comments, since they’re based on the false premise that I called HER “sub-Christian”.

    It is a fair question, I suppose, to debate whether or not your charges against Xenos are true. I see little evidence thereof; you suggest otherwise. Fair enough; good people can differ on that question, I suppose. But you’re not going to hear me calling you names because of it, and if my words DID indeed come off as condescending toward Emily, I didn’t mean them that way. Keep on making your arguments if you choose; they’re welcome here (and I’m not afraid of them, any more than I’m afraid of Emily’s non-arguments).

  47. Hey now, i think that darwin has made a point that should be looked at. though i’m not certain of the motives of the speakers, i can say that ‘miss’ in front of a womans name is often seen as belittling if the context of what is being said after the ‘miss’ is at all confrontational… and ‘some chick’ is somewhat belittling as well. i know that i’m splitting hairs here, but considering that much attention has already been placed on it i might add that the words that people use in a more heated than usual conversation set the tone for every person who is listening to it. such words most likely/will be percieved as degrading and offencive. So as an outsider i feel that its important to just make that point known.

    Finally, i believe that though it is easy to take offence to the critisisms of xenos if you’re a member of it, its important (like any member of any chirch) to take into account that such things may occur and vary among different home churches/cell groups. sometimes an outsider’s opinion is more credible than those among the heap because it is an opinion that comes from the outside of the shuffel..and should therefore be taken into consideration.

    often times issues are overlooked in the midst of things. if people are having or have had bad experiences with xenos, i think that instead of arguing it and defending it in such a heated way there should be prayer and contimplation on the issues, perhaps there is truth in these accounts. and as painful as it is to not be perfect in the eyes of the flesh, xenos, like any other christian institution, has flaws.

    i believe firmly that how the members of xenos react to such charges against them will prove whether or not these claims are true or false. at this point i don’t at all like the tone of this conversation on all accounts. certainly it must be hard to swallow the idea that people claim that you are a member of a cult if you in your heart believe that it is not…but people should also not have to defend their bad experiences with xenos if they also believe in their hearts that such things as shunning and mind control have taken place (which they very may well have taken place, all organized religions struggle with this at one point or another).

    sadly i don’t expect anyone to respond to my writing because it isn’t offensive (or at least its not intended to be) but i hope that i am wrong and that peaceful disagreements are still valued here. if anyone wishes that instead of arguing we can mend conflicts, then by all means i’m in.

  48. Fair enough, Al; suffice it to say that it wasn’t my intent to be offensive (even though I will point out that it clearly WAS Emily’s intent—read her words).

    My comment 8398 is effectively in total agreement with what you’re saying, Al, and I do hope that the principals might have taken it to heart and engaged in a constructive dialogue.

    Thanks.

  49. It seems like people are bringing up some interesting things here. At the very least they should be looked into, and if accurate, should be addressed. The way I figure it, both sides win. If the accusations are true, than they need addressed in a Biblical manner. If not true, than the name of Xenos isn’t slandered.

    I personally have heard mostly good things about Xenos. (After reading all this, I also checked out their web site.) I hear that they are very missions orientated and very supportive of the poor. Additionally, it seems they have a pretty solid ideology that is based on the Word. The elders of the church don’t seem to have a problem with the lay people coming to them with issues. They seem open and willing to hear where they are wrong.

    Although, I have heard wind of negative aspects as well. Mostly I hear things about the younger groups, such as the high school and college age. Mainly it falls along the lines of categorizing people in a box instead of leaving room for gray areas. (I am not talking about moral issues, here, by the way. I’ll hit those in a minute.) I hear some things about control issues and judgment as well. And finally, it seems sometimes like a lot is expected of people, which seems unfair to young kids trying to work, go to school, etc all at once.

    Now, as we know, we can’t be perfect. It seems to me that instead of being a cult, Xenos may have a few people in lay leadership or otherwise that need to change their thinking and behavior. With such a big group, the elders may not even know that someone is acting in such a way.

    Finally, back to the black and white issues. Xenos does appear to have strong moral standards. If someone is a committed person and is engaging in pre-marital sex, for example, they address that. But that is also a Biblical issue. God tells us not to have sex before marriage. And it is someone who is committed – has stated they wish to walk with God and obey His ways. I have no problem with that being addressed – its Biblical and the said person has asked for accountability. I can see people being bitter over this one!

    I think the key is to rely on the Word. And if there is an issue, be strong and go challenge it! Be willing to be wrong, but be willing to see a change.

    That’s my 2 cents!!! Thanks for your time. I hope this stuff gets worked out and that God makes it clear what the issues are and who’s causing them…..

  50. Keep in mind, I don’t go there, so I can’t speak from experience. I just wanted to share what I have heard. I don’t want to be partial to one or the other because I can’t say which side is perfectly right. (I think there is guilt on both sides in one way or another. We’re all humans after all!) Just thought I’d share some thoughts.

  51. I’ve read with interest the posts here from Dennis McCallum, one of the elders of Xenos. He seems very dismissive of the negative experiences that people recounted here. And I wonder why that is. Lindsay and Louise told their stories in a calm, thoughtful, well-reasoned manner. The only things negative about their posts were….well, the parts that were negative about Xenos.

    I would expect the elder of a church to take seriously the concerns of people who have left their church due to negative experiences.

    In the 4th comment to this post, in reply to Lindsay’s first comment, Carol said the following: “I hope before you decided to leave you let someone know. I know most people in Xenos are not like that and higher leaders would sure want to know so they could stop the person from treating others that way.”

    Well, a “higher leader” apparently did read Lindsay’s concern. Did he, as Carol suggested, “want to know” about Lindsay’s concerns? Here’s his comment again: “so check out this blog from some chick who used to be in the HS group. It’s sickening to think this kind of thing is on the web. I love the way she has the leaders deciding who she can sit by and date. but we should all think about this and be careful to avoid all controlling behavior.”

    He belittles her by referring to her as “some chick.” Not a good start. He calls it “sickening” that “this kind of thing is on the web,” when “this kind of thing” is merely Lindsay expressing her negative experience in Xenos, in a calm, well-reasoned, non-inflammatory way. And then he implies that her experience isn’t true, that it’s something that *she* invented, by saying “I love the way she has the leaders deciding….”

    The attitude Dennis has expressed towards Lindsay’s experience doesn’t seem like that of an elder who wants to ensure the health of his local body. Lindsay also offered to discuss this issue in greater depth with Dennis; I hope, for the sake of Xenos, that he chooses to prayerfully do so.

  52. I am reading these entries with great interest, as I am being HOUNDED by members of this “church” to join their ranks. The warm fuzzies being thrown around are simply a cover for all of the ill-intent and dishonesty being exhibited by the “leaders”.

    My salvation does not require my membership in this church.

  53. Of course you’re right, Concerned; your salvation in no way depends upon membership at Xenos. I would encourage you, though, to neither rule Xenos IN or OUT by virtue of this blog. I began it with high praise of what Xenos is doing, and I am personally unchanged in my high opinion of this church by the comments here. No church is perfect, and I rather suspect that there is an element of truth in some of the experiences of the “dissenters”; they seem like decent folk. That said, I do think that Xenos is doing a good work there in Columbus, that it is no way, shape, or form a cult, but rather that it calls for a deeper commitment than most professing Christians in our commitment-free culture (which spills over into our church expectations) are used to experiencing. It’s not for everybody, nor is it perfect, but if I were in Columbus, it’s almost certainly the church I’d involve myself in.

  54. I agree with your comments regarding “commitment”. However, I think you’re missing some of the other concerns regarding the idea of if you’re not for us, you’re against us. If you listen to Jesus’ true message, it was to love thy neighbor–not just the neighbors who share the same belief system that you do.

  55. IMHO, Xenos is not guilty as charged of doing this; in fact, one of the impressive things about Xenos is the fact that better than half the folks who are part of Xenos weren’t followers of Christ prior to their contact with the church. It seems to me that Xenos is less guilty of this than most any church I can think of. Of course, Xenos has its warts like any church, but Xenos is a place with ministry after ministry directed at people who are down-and-out (an inner-city Christian school, if I’m not mistaken, is one of their many ministries, and that’s pretty cool, I think!). It is interesting to me that many of the commenters who have beefs with Xenos have pointed out its many strengths, but suggested that they had a bad experience with the group (and they probably did!). But I don’t know, it just strikes me as tossing the baby out with the bath water to hold what I’d guess to be a few isolated issues against the church.

    But hey, I’m not a member; I’ve only been in the building twice, so I’m hardly an expert…

  56. I have a personal involvement with Xenos, and I can say from first-hand experience that the members of Xenos that I have dealt with (including the “leaders”)have a somewhat elitist attitude.

    However, my MAIN gripe is their recruitment practices and how they lure unsuspecting children into their fold. The comments that were posted earlier are hauntingly in line with what my child is experiencing…

  57. I don’t want to give myself away…so all I will say is that she is NOT of legal age. They “recruited her before she was even a teenager.

    Their “recruitment” starts out with some fun activities once a week. Very little teaching, mostly what would be construed as “playtime”. Then they encourage attendance at CT. From there they move to smaller groups and mentors. The issue is that all of this “Xenos” time ends up taking away from the life the child knew before and the church becomes all encompassing.

    If Xenos members want to recruit FAMILIES, that would be different. But targeting children and pulling them away from their families is no better, IMHO, than strangers with candy.

    And for the record, the “leaders” of this church knew how I felt about their religion and how I felt about my child participating. It was strictly to be a social outlet. I was told that this was fine. Obviously, Xenos leaders had other plans for my child. Our family already HAS a religion that we participate in…

  58. all i know is that i miss my friends. now that they’re in xenos (and have been for years) they don’t hang out with anyone outside of it. it is pretty common word that xenos is extremely cultlike. ask almost anyone and they’ve heard something about that. parents are worried, the young people there are pressured/guilted into going and staying and filling up every minute there. its a very manipulative process. its unhealthy, its really sad and something needs to be done about it. im not basing this just on what i’ve read in here, but in real first-hand experience and on what people i know have gone through here. theres too much information being exposed just on this website alone to be ignored. sure every church has faults, but this is just scary.

  59. found this on a related site that was a response site to an article about xenos and thought it was worth posting here….

    Your entry about Xenos is absolutely correct. My daughter was recruited by them years ago and it has ruined our family. Now my daughter is doing to others what was done to her— love bombing, mind control, and manipulation. Phobias are instilled against leaving the group. Some people who try to leave have severe depression. Go ask some mental health counselors if they have any clients who ever mention Xenos and you will see what I mean. Xenos has tax-exempt status and they prey on children. Their main emphasis is on recruiting junior high or high school minor children. Any means of recruitment is acceptable as long as it brings members to the group. They take someone at a vulnerable age, right when it is natural to rebel against parents anyway, and they pervert the whole natural rebellion thing to the extent that the parents are permanently Satanized. If your child is recruited by Xenos, Xenos will be their family and you will be a pariah, a sinner. Your grandchildren will be encouraged to pray for your sins. Scripture will be quoted to you repeatedly. Your child will proselytize to your friends and family members and he/she will live in a closed society, associating with no one but other Xenos members. They believe their way is the only way and all outsiders are wrong. Each member in the group is required to spend twenty hours a week recruiting. Every family occasion is not a family occasion, but rather a Xenos recruiting session. As a parent, I have entered Hell. I beg you, keep your children away from Xenos.
    Rather Not Say | 04.02.06 – 8:21 pm | #

  60. This third party quoted by Worried is the most sinister and paranoid portrayal I’ve ever read. This is so extreme, I feel I have to answer these charges for the record, whether people believe me or not. I’ll assume it was a guy for ease of writing a response.

    [he says] Now my daughter is doing to others what was done to her— love bombing, mind control, and manipulation.
    [dennis] I’m not surprised he has a problem in his relationship with his daughter if this is how he characterized her spiritual beliefs. I’ve heard sharing your faith characterized this way before by people who resent Christianity, but it would be pretty rough coming from your own mom or dad. This is completely demeaning and dismissive of this young woman’s faith. I would love to hear the daughter’s version of this conflict.

    [he says] Their main emphasis is on recruiting junior high or high school minor children.
    [dennis] wrong. By far most of our visitors each year are s, and the vast majority of our members are middle aged family people. 4000 people attend Xenos who are s and their kids. Even many of the minors in Jr. Hi and Hi are kids of our members. Only a few hundred in this range who aren’t kids of members, so this is tiny minority.
    [he says] Any means of recruitment is acceptable as long as it brings members to the group.

    [dennis] wrong! We never condone any unethical methods, and will not take kids to meetings against their parents’ will. New kids at Xenos youth groups are brought by friends their own age from school, exactly like any other church youth group. So these evil “recruiters” are minors, 13 year old kids, who invited a friend to a Bible study.
    [he says] If your child is recruited by Xenos, Xenos will be their family and you will be a pariah, a sinner.
    [dennis] In fact, we teach kids to respect their parents, to obey them, and to show love to them. We would NEVER urge kids to avoid their parents. Anyone who has set through Xenos Bible teachings knows this.

    [he says] he/she will live in a closed society, associating with no one but other Xenos members. They believe their way is the only way and all outsiders are wrong.
    [dennis] We already dealt with this earlier, but I must repeat that this is entirely untrue. Xenos members associate with anyone they want, and most have multiple active friendships with non Christians and virtually all have good relationships with their families. Every year we listen to people in the scores give their testimonies at baptisms, including how much their relationship with their families has improved since they came to know Christ. I just heard two of these stories last night, with their non-xenos parents sitting right there nodding their heads. Quality reationships with your family are considered marks of spiritual growth in our church.

    [he says] Each member in the group is required to spend twenty hours a week recruiting
    [dennis] This is absurd! No member is required to spend any time “recruiting” or anything else. I doubt there are ANY members here who spend 20 hours “recruiting” let alone all of them.

    I think this whole posting breathes emotional rage growing out of this conflict with the daughter. The charges against Xenos are completely false. But maybe if this parent began showing some respect for the daughter’s personal convictions, instead of characterizing her as a brainwashed zombie under the control of some incredible cult, their relationship would improve. I would hate to have this person for my dad or mom. How do you reason with this kind of irrational fury?

  61. I’ve been reading with interest the comments posted regarding Xenos Christian Fellowship.

    I have attended Xenos for nearly five years and I do see some truth in pretty much all the postings I have read regarding controlling behavior by lay leaders, and the other negative comments. I also appreciate Dennis’ responses.

    I am in my 40’s now – I became a Christian when I was 14 years old. I never lost my faith in Jesus, but for more years than not, I was a lost soul. I was lost because I never had a full understanding of who I really was, or God’s love for me. When I was younger, I joined a church and stayed there for many years but then eventually left, due to personal reasons. For nearly 10 years I drifted, trying to find a new church but eventually gave up. I did attend Vineyeard off and on, but just felt lost because of the enormity of the church.

    Eventually, through a friend I visited Xenos, also a large church but didn’t feel overwhelmed like I did at Vineyard. As time went on, I became involved in a homechurch and cell group. Also, as time went on I witnessed some of the negative behavior described in the previous posts. I felt brow-beated for not being as involved as some thought, ostrasized because I didn’t not open up my life to every detail to prying brothers and sisters, like struggles my husband and I have (he, too is a Xenoid). Within this past year, I have pursued a dream I have had for a long time now which takes me away from some of the meetings, but I get the impression that my decision to do this is not supported, and viewed as being self-serving.

    BUT, I still attend Central Teaching and Homegroup? Why? Because of the solid bible teaching, and also because that good, bad, or indifferent Xenos is by far the best church around. I don’t appreciate the cliqishness I see with the women in my homegroup, nor do I care for the nosey questions or the impression from some that my pursuing my dream is bunk. The leaders and lay leaders all suffer from the same human condition that all of us do – we are just human.
    What matters is my relationship with Jesus and I can consider the teachings, the suggestions and so forth and decide how they apply to my life. The kool thing about Xenos is that I hear Dennis encouraging critical thought, not just accepting something because, a leader says so.

    I guess my argument sounds like I am on both sides of the fence. I guess I am. On one hand I attest that XEnos is by far the best church I have ever attended and then on the other I despise some of the ways people act, and engage with each other. I even question the wisdom of having some of the people in leadership that are there. But,on the other hand I see how my relationship with Christ has grown these past years despite the negative aspects.

    There is a passage in the book of Proverbs (can’t remember the verse)that says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean…but much strength comes by the oxen.” I have always interpreted this as meaning, or at least to me this means that you can have a church with little or no quality fellowship and be able to keep your relationships therein pristine, on the surface, and shallow and go your happy way, OR you can have some deep relationships that get messy (like the manure in the stall of the oxen) and acquire strength and grow.

    Dennis, if you are reading this I do suggest that you continue to consider some of the comments made, as there is some truth presented in most of them. I also ask that Xenos be a little more careful in who they allow to become leaders because there is a percentage, albeit small that has NO business speaking into peoples’ lives on the level that a lader would.

  62. I thank everyone for their comments, but particularly you, Silent, because you have presented a balanced viewpoint that is hard to argue with on either side of the equation. I, like you, would encourage Dennis/leaders to consider these comments seriously; those who think Xenos a cult ought to as well, because it’s just hard for me to buy that line of reasoning. Personally, I would give a lot of latitude to a guy like Dennis, for I really have little doubt that his heart is right on this, that he desires Xenos to be all that God would have it be, that it continue, as you suggest, Silent, to be a church that goes beyond the norm of what most of our churches are. At the same time, I trust that Dennis will hear what is being said, use these posts as a reminder to emphasize in leadership meetings some of the cautions that these would suggest ought to be emphasized. That’s what I’d do with some of this info, and your balanced post, Silent, is certainly grist for leadership thinking.

    And again, I’d reiterate to our newest group of readers/commenters that taking these concerns up directly with Xenos leadership is the healthiest way to go about seeking Christ-honoring resolution.

  63. Byron,

    Thank you for your feedback. I too, beleive Dennis, and Gary Delashmut, both the origional founders of Xenos to be sincere, and as pure of heart as man could possibly be. The church is huge, with over 250 homechurches and since neither one of them is God and omnicient or omnipresent (hope I spelled that right), they don’t always know what goes on out in the field.

    I do know, however that a few have stepped up to the plate and challenged their homechurch leaders only to be cut-down so I encourage anyone in this situation to contact Dennis, or one of the other elders (although I do know of one to be not much help, either). If you can’t get anyone to listen to you, then ask to speak to someone who will.

    Proverns also says, “Iron sharpen iron, so one man sharpens another.”

  64. We do have a system of oversight and reporting, but I wouldn’t call it “control.” We know how leaders are trained, which is extensive. The course materials can be viewed at http://www.xenos.org. We also have consultants or coaches who are in contact with leaders and members in all home churches.

    Every member in Xenos knows they can complain about their home church to higher leadership at any time. We do become aware of inappropriate behavior this way, and always investigate. Home church leaders are people just like anyone else, and home church members are too. So conflicts occur, and sometimes people say and to things that are wrong. We try to address these situations, and usually are able to bring about reconciliation and repentance. We have also removed leaders who were found to be behaving in controlling or abusive ways.

    We do not mandate what home church leaders teach, or monitor what they teach. These are trained leaders capable of making their own decisions on how to lead their groups. If something far-out was taught, it would probably get back to us through members complaining, but we do not believe in trying to rigidly control the activities of home churches.

    BTW, with all the claims about the far-out things Xenos teaches, like turning against one’s family, etc. people should consider that our teachings can all be reviewed online for free. Every teaching I’ve given over the past 10 years or so is online in mp3 or realmedia format at xenos.org People who really wonder what is going on in this group should browse some of these and you’ll get a very clear sense of what we hold and teach.

  65. Excellent idea, Dennis; one of the things I appreciate most about Xenos is the openness that the church’s website displays, evidencing Xenos’ desire to be a blessing to others outside its community. Thanks again for sharing, and I’d advise other readers to take you up on the offer.

  66. I find it strange that a leader of a church is addressing these allegations. This seems almost like a rehearsed response.
    I don’t even think Jerry Falwell would bother to comment on things people say about him.
    This seems like a set up.

  67. Why not give Dennis the benefit of doubt here? Maybe he is replying because he really does care what people think.
    I think it is cool that a senior leader of a massive church is willing to do this. Most won’t because they consider thwemselves above the little people.
    He said he was willing to talk to Lindsey about her issues with the church. Lindsey, have you done that yet, because you certainly challenged him to it???
    He answered on the issues with leaders too. If you have a problem, talk about it. He’s there to hear you out.
    Yeah, he may come across in a way people don’t like, but aren’t we all this way, to a certaiin extent?
    It seems like he’s willing to talk, and that he is as aware of his church as one can be. Instead of complaining, why not do something? Stop accusing (saying Dennis won’t talk when he clearly has had he would.) and everything else. Lets act like the adults we are.
    I just think if you have an issue, deal with it up front. Complaining on a blog isn’t going to do it. People who are up front are willing to be wrong. People who hide and complain aren’t.

  68. Good post, Linda, with one exception; I think that you took an unnecessary and unproveable shot at senior leaders of other churches when you said that they “consider themselves above the little people.” I don’t think we need to support Dennis by denigrating anyone else (though likely there are some somewhere for whom your statement might be true).

  69. Perhaps I am speaking from experience. Let me rephase. Many churches I know of have senior pastors who don’t care about what the lay people say.

  70. I would like to offer a contrast of Xenos with another church experience.

    Years ago, I attended a local church located on High Street right in front of the Park of Roses (Calvary Bible Church.) This church was and still is an extremely legalistic fundamentalist church. I found the senior pastor, and assistant pastors to be narrow minded. Clearly, this church has no understanding of what grace is, or of the involvement of the holy spirit in a believer’s life. I believe they all were well-intentioned, but created this little perfect world where only perfect christians could be involved.

    Xenos is a breath of fresh air in contrast. While this other church preached a “separist” doctrine where quite literally, “ye are in the the world but not part of it”, Xenos provides guidance on how to co-exist in the world. How can we reach the unsaved unless we meet them where they are, just like Jesus did with the tax gatherers and prostitutes? How can we experience the love and acceptance of God when we are constantly flogging ourselves emotionally for our shortcomings, or not fitting into a mold that some human says we should fit in to?

    We are loved for who we are now, in this place and time and we are nothing but clean in His sight. Jesus died on the cross to make us perfect in God’s sight, he took all of the punishment for us. All we have to do is accept and believe. The gift is free. The changes follow thereafter, sometimes rapidly, sometimes gradually.

    So…I see where Linda is coming from. True, not all pastors are like those she has experienced, or what I’ve experienced, but good, bad, and indifferent, Xenos is refreshing, considering the alternatives out there.

    Just my two cents worth…

  71. Out of curiosity – what is Xenos stance on women? I have heard they are forward thinking on this subject, but I wanted to know more. I have been involved in churches that look down on women and see them as lesser than men. She was nothing if she wasn’t married and if she was married her only use was having kids and raising them. How do they feel about women elders? (I know they have women home church leaders and thats cool.) What about married women who have full time jobs and kids? (The church I was in frowned upon women who continue to work after having a kid. They weren’t good wives or mothers…) What if the woman is spiritually ready to lead and her husband isn’t? And the big question! Who is better – male or female???

  72. My experience with Xenos a church is that they are very pro women. I have, however experienced some negativity from some homechurch members when it comes to being a professional working women. It seems that the concensus is that if you are a mother, it is best you stay at home and not work. If your family can afford it, that’s great but what if they can’t? This mind-set perpetuates perspectives that are out-of-touch with today’s reality, among stay-at-home groups of women, that is. They also can not relate to working mothers or single mothers effectively, either. My son is grown and out of th house so this had freed me on some time to do other things.

    I am pursuing a higher degree beyond an undergraduate degree and have been asked, “why do you want to do that”? My reply is for self-development and to open doors to other workplaces so as not to stagnate. I guess because I’m not as free for other meetings, events, etc…this is frowned on. Then again, I don’t think this is an attitude with the church as a whole, just a few in leadership.

  73. I do not get that at all, and it frustrates me somewhat, especially in today’s time. And it kind of hurts!

    I have nothing against the woman who stay home, let me just make that clear now. My mother was a stay at home mom and I greatly respect her for it. On the other hand, my father had to work like a dog, and because of this, we didn’t see dad as much and my parent’s marriage suffered. I am grateful to both of them for what they did for us, but I think things would have been better if my dad didn’t have to work as much.

    Anyways, I am young and married and in a career. To be honest, I am not sure I want kids, but I figure i porbably will someday. And if I were to get pregnant now, I would go with it as being God’s will. I am the bread winner and I have job security. I am more marketable, have a better education, etc. (He has had some bad luck in his life that’s not his fault. And he is a smart man who I greatly respect. We are working on getting him to a better point.)

    I added up how much our bills are based on his income and we would go under without my income, or without greatly increasing his income. (And that includes getting rid of cable and things like that. And we live very frugally now, before anyone asks.)

    So, I ask, am I less of a Christian woman because A. I don’t want kids for several years (people ask me all the time when we’re having kids) and B. We’ll both probably have to work – especially if I got pregnant now; and God knows, things won’t get cheaper in 5 years anyways. Why should my husband work himself to death to provide for us to barely make it by when I can help in that endeavor?

    Not to mention, why should I have to apologize for having a brain and being successful? I love the fact that I can give money to whoever and whatever I want -its a blessing to see a need or hear of one and be able to contribute.

    Go for your degree!! I am a firm beleiver that God gave us all these oppurtunites to further ourselves for a reason. He gave us the brain we use! We can give more, we can meet more people, etc. As long as God is #1 and not furthuring yourself, you’re good to go.

  74. I would be interested to know if anyone else has experienced Xenos discouraging them from pursuing higher degrees and why you think this is so. Or, if there are any women who have gone to Xenos-sponsored marriage counseling and consequently been told, as a matter of course, to defer to the man.

  75. Sorry, Dennis. I missed your post the first time around. Thanks for providing info and replying!

  76. Two things I have to ask to you: First, when someone wants to get married, who perform the ceremony?
    Second, if someone wants to baptize, who perform the Baptism?
    If someone joins your churc, how do you know if they are Christian?

  77. (sorry for the typos)

    Two things I have to ask you: First, when someone wants to get married, who perform the ceremony?
    Second, if someone wants to be baptize, who perform the Baptism?
    If someone joins your church, how do you know if they are Christian?

  78. Hi, None,

    Hopefully, if Dennis checks back in, he can answer those questions; I’m not personally involved with Xenos myself. If he doesn’t, I’d encourage you to go to http://www.xenos.org and ask the good folks there.

  79. As a former member, it is to my knowledge, and experience, that whomever you like may baptize you. I baptized my friend there…in a dunk tank…and I have to say that while God calls on us to go and make deciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father, son and holy spirit…this way seemed so informal and not as special as something like this should.

    as for who performs the marriage, from people I know there doing this, they usually have a “leader” of their choice do it. for example, a leader of a homechurch who is not a pastor/priest/ect. but is ordained to perform the ceremony legally.

    As for the joining of the church thing, i really can’t give you a by the book answer because honestly, i’m really confused by it. I’m sure that this isn’t how they intend for it to be, but in my experience it seems that pretty much anyone can join at any time. sure, you are questioned but one of the big things about this church is getting you to “accept Christ.” i went through a few years in this church and i was never publicly committed to the church. not that i refused to or avoided it…it was just never talked about it. strange i know. usually people just find out if you are christian, or what your stance is on religion in general, over time when the corner, excuse me, talk to you privately about it.

    im definately not involved in the church anymore but these are my best answers to your questions as someone who was formerly active in the church a few years ago. hope it was helpful.

  80. Here are some quick answers:

    Our home church leaders are ordained as pastors and can marry people.

    Baptism is in the New Testament style, where the person who led you to Christ baptizes you.

    We don’t have membership. God keeps the membership roles. If you attend, you are membering yourself as part of this community.

  81. Thanks for responding, Dennis; you raise one question about which I am curious. How can you exercise church discipline effectively without an official membership? I ask this from a biblical perspective (been reading Mark Dever lately), but also from a legal one.

  82. Byron, This is a very good question you asked of Dennis, and I’m interested to hear his response.

    Church discipline is necessary in some circumstances, but I have seen and know of cases where I think it to be too harsh. AND, it is because of these situations that Xenos gets a bad rap.

    For example, a man or woman is asked to leave because they fess up to sleeping with someone, or having a problem with jumping in the sack with anyone. Don’t get me wrong, this is behavior that is wrong and harmful, but the mere fact that they fess up to the behavior shows that they know there is a problem.

    Or, they choose to take vacation together…these are grown adults in their 40’s and are cornered and told this is wrong and if they do, there will be consequences.

    What about the husband that mistreats his family, or has a problem with pornography? They are not asked to leave.

    There…this is a good forum for discussion…and all this does happen at Xenos.

  83. The purpose of discipline, of course, is always restoration; asking people to leave is the last resort, reserved for the unrepentant. But of course, the main question I have for my friend Dennis involves when a person crosses a line which would place him under the authority of Xenos, absent some clear demarcation such as membership. If he has not consented to such authority, via a mechanism like membership, how would Xenos biblically/legally undertake discipline?

  84. Actbually, I don’t think church discipline would extend to barring anyone from CT (Central Teaching). It would apply to anyone involved in a home church, they just wouldn’t be welcome anymore.

  85. In our opinion, we see no evidence of membership in the modern sense in the New Testament. People either come to your meetings, or they don’t. Whether they are members of the body of Christ depends on whether they have truly been joined to Christ.

    Attendance at our meetings is conditional, and we can refuse admittance to anyone in theory. So if somneone comes under discipline, they can be refused admittance, and there’s no problem from a legal standpoint.

    On the cases mentioned by silent: fornication is mentioned in 1 Cor. 5 as something that is serious enough to merit discipline. Living together, sleeping together, traveling together, are activities that we believe no serious Christian would do with a friend or boyfriend. The claim that “nothing happened” is implausible, and besides we are to avoid the appearance of evil. Jesus also prays that we be not led into temptation.

    However, any formal discipline (where someone would be removed from fellowship) would only be after repeated episodes have demonstrated a willful pattern of sin. I know of no case where someone admitting to sin in this area would be removed from fellowship unless there was a larger history showing that this is a way of life, rather than a fall from grace. Our rules for church discipline make this clear. http://www.xenos.org/classes/leadership/appdis.html

    We believe that removal from fellowship should be reserved for sins like those mentioned in the passages on this subject. It is not for less serious types of sin.

    A man mistreating his family is a more subjective area, but this could indeed result in discipline also, and has done so. The question would be whether violence was involved, and how flagrant and repetitive the behavior is. ography is not as bad as actual fornication in our view, because you are fantasizing rather than actually involving another person. However, we have disciplined people with chronic o problems, including removal from leadership, removal from ministry houses, from cell groups, and personal reproof.

    Removal from fellowship is an unusual and extreme form of discipline, but it would include coming to any Xenos functions including CT.

    Although church discipline sometimes seems harsh to modern people, that is often because we have a view of love that is soft, and unwilling to do what is best for a person, even if it hurts. Although church discipline is taught in crystal clear terms in multiple passages (http://www.xenos.org/classes/leadership/discip.html ) many modern churches ignore these passages. The result is lack of life transformation in their members, and an increasingly trivial view of serious sin. Many of our members and some of our leaders were once put under discipline in love, and now report that they have been restored, and that discipline was the thing they needed to realize the need for change.

    We require home church leaders to consult with higher leadership on any case where they feel formal discipline might be required in advance. Only after agreement by all parties would someone be given an ultimatum–change the behavior or leave the church.

  86. Sex outside of marriage is sin, I think all serious Christians realize this.

    Other sins are, as Dennis stated subjective.

    What about drunkeness? Gossip? This all goes on in homegroups.

  87. “In our opinion, we see no evidence of membership in the modern sense in the New Testament. People either come to your meetings, or they don’t. Whether they are members of the body of Christ depends on whether they have truly been joined to Christ.” Dennis

    What about Acts 2:42-47? I’m not going to qutoe all these verses, but here is one that I will.

    “Prasing God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2: 47.

    And here’s another verse in acts I want to quote.

    “And the multitude of them that belived were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” Acts 4: 32

    Last verse:
    “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” Acts 5:14

  88. Drunkeness is also a serious sin, and is not allowed at Xenos. We have removed numerous people from our church for drunkeness and drug usage which is the same thing–intoxication. It does go on in home churches, but is subject to reproof and if it continues as a pattern, is grounds for removal. I Cor. 5 specifically mentions it as too serious to overlook.

    Not all other sins are subjective. A man mistreating his family is subjective because there are various kinds of mistreatment – absenteeism, verbal meanness, beatings, manipulation, etc. Also, we aren’t usually there to see what is happening. We usually find out about it from a conflicted spouse who’s version may differ from what the man says.

    Gossip is not mentioned as deserving formal disicpline unless it begins to divide the church. Then, according to Tit. 2:10, it becomes too serious to accept.

  89. Gossip is a serious issue when a member confesses, or shares issues with a leader in a homechurch and then the “news” makes it to he ears of all everyone, in and the group and others outside the group. Trust me, Dennis…this is an issue and I’ve seen it run rampart in two or three different groups now. AND, if you do confront the problem with the leaders, by and large you are put down and labeled a trouble-maker.

    …and the drunkedness, that is an issue among a few leaders I know.

  90. Well, I don’t know if you’re still going here, but if you know about something like that, you should report it to a sphere leader or elder.

    And I don’t think reporting something like that would be gossip. Responsible reporting of problems in the church is not gossip.

  91. RE, None above: I don’t see why those verses would have to do with official church membership. Aren’t they all saying that God adds members when people receive Christ? Those seem like they back what I’m saying–membership is decided by God.

  92. Just out of curiosity, where exactly do leaders derive their “power”? I have so many issues w/Xenos (which no one addressed in my previous post), but one thing that I don’t understand is the whole “discipline” issue.

    Isn’t it written that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Or, in biblical terms, “let he without sin cast the first stone.”

    Am I missing something?

    And, as far as drinking and drinking problems, did it ever occur to you that perhaps Xenos and its’ elders could be “feeding an addiction”? I have gone to several Xenos functions where the alcohol flowed quite freely. It’s like handing a child matches and chastising him for setting a fire.

  93. Frist of all, formal discipline is not chosen by leaders. The leaders convene the home church and the members decide whether the situation is such that a person should be removed from fellowship. This fits wtih 2 Cor. 2:6.

    Leaders are recognized by the elders, and elders are elected for 3 year terms by the servant team, which is a gathering of 900 leading people in the church.

    Concerning discipline: Remember that discipline is not judgemnt. When we judge someone we condemn them, or reject them. Discipline is an act of love where we put a certain amount of pressure on someone to change becasue we love them too much to watch them destroy their lives and perhaps the lives of others. You should really listen to a lecture on this subject that covers the relevant scripture. http://www.xenos.org/teachings/nt/1cor/dennis/1cor5-1.htm
    You could also read an outline that explains it http://www.xenos.org/classes/servanthood2/chrchdisc.htm

    For biblical Christians, these passages are non-optional teaching that we cannot ignore. We also believe that discipline is the best thing we can do for extreme cases where friends are caught in a destructive way of life. It’s an effort to help them when all else has failed.

    Re drinking: Scripture does not teach that drinking is a sin. Jesus and the apostles drank wine, as did Old Testament saints. Drunkeness is a breakdown in self control with alcohol that becomes sin. Although the New Testament period was well-aware of drunkeness and alcoholism, this did not lead them to outlaw drinking. Although allowing moderate drinking poses a danger for some to lose control, the same would be true for many areas. Just because some are tempted by avarice, we don’t do away with money. We don’t avoid events because some might be tempted to ual immorality. We would strongly discourage those with a background of alcoholism from drinking any alcohol.

    So, on your question, I would agree that s can be fairly compared to children who are not responsible people. We don’t see our role as church leaders as preventing situations where people might choose to sin. However, there is accountability in the church, and without that it would be “anything goes.”

    Hope this helps.

  94. I’m very disappointed to see that this blog is filtering words that make the replies nonsensical. In my reply above, the word _ _ _ is cut out of the sentence “We don’t avoid ____ events because some might be tempted to ual immorality.”
    And the word _ _ _ _ _s is filtered from the sentence “I would [not-(my error?)] agree that _____s can be fairly compared to children who are not responsible people.

  95. Oh man! It filtered them again! Let’s try with synonyms. The first word means events with men and women together, and the second means “grown-ups”

  96. As usual, MY questions are not answered. This has been the case in ALL of my dealings with Xenos.

    God helps those who help themselves. God is also the final judge of our behavior.

    You seem more concerned with appearances than anything else. Take heed—other churchs have gotten in trouble for this. If you do good works, others will see them. You won’t have to broadcase them or defend yourself.

  97. Concerned: I’m getting concerned by the way you throw around little maxims that sound nice but are not biblically based at all. “God helps those who help themselves?” “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” These are both cute statements, but are not scriptural.

    You seem extremely hung up on the judgement thing, despite Dennis pointing out that discipline is quite different than judgement. The members of a church body meet together with a common set of standards and goals. If a member of that body decides that their standards and goals are not in line with that group, it is only common sense that they should be asked to leave in order to either a) align with a group that does meet their standards; or b) take some time to re-evaluate their beliefs to see if they might be wrong in their stance.

    I think it has already been said, but the goal of church discipline (not judgement… you’re correct in stating that man does not have the authority to judge) is restoration, both with God and the church.

  98. Since your group doesn’t seem very tolerant, it makes absolute sense that you would pick out that my statements are “cute” and “not biblical”. Not everyone sees things YOUR way….not everyone is a biblical scholar. But there are good people in EVERY belief system….teach THAT!

    Just wondering if all of the elders who make it their business to “judge” are above reproach. Another “cutsie” expression…”judge not lest you be judged.” I AM NOT accusing anyone of ANYTHING, but my parents, teachers, and family elders always told me to keep MY OWN nose clean and mind MY OWN business.

    Like I’ve said, YOU can run your church any way you choose. MY gripe is how you recruit pre-teens and convince them that their parents are sinners for not joining your church. Deny it if you wish…I have proof (my own child) and the parents of other children who will vouch for this. For the record, I didn’t want to believe this, but previous posts and casual conversations with parents who have had first hand experiences with your group proved to me that I wasn’t alone.

    I don’t think your church is “the village” that is described in the statement, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When an organization supercedes what a parent has strived for as far as discipline and upbringing in the name of God—there is a problem.

    You are free to teach what you want, live how you would like, tolerate who you wish to tolerate, etc. BUT, if you want to involve underage children, you need to be honest and upfront with their parents.

    Talk to your “elders” about this one…

    You don’t have to reply, either…I am no longer allowing my child to have anything to do with your organization. The only regret I really have is that I didn’t pay enough attention in the beginning and actually thought that my wishes would be respectedas far as my child’s involvement in your group. Parental rights and authority should come before your need to bring MY child into YOUR fold.

  99. As a member of Xenos, I can understand outsiders views on our church. I can also see the former members perspective as well as the folks who still go. I think things go often unnoticed because there is an ethos that has slowly crept into the minds of the members here. True or not, there is a great fear that people will get pushed out on to the “fringe” and labled a troublemaker if questions are asked. there are many who DO think you should not ask questions and sdhould blindly follow (insert leaders name here). This is a problem with college age folks i think mostly, but there has been an increasing amount of people that I have talked to who feel that it is no longer a radical movement to win people, but an institution, to get people to follow Xenos.

    intentional or not, these issues exist.

  100. TBL, You have “hit the head of the nail” dead on in your analysis. This ethos does exist.

    Speaking of the college-aged students, a gal who used to cut my hair is involved in this group, lives in a ministry house, and is in training for leadership. Her boss, the owner of the salon talked to me one time and expressed concern over this gal’s dedication to the church, and lack of dedication to her studies, and lack of regard for her, her employer. The girl is constantly late to work, or misses on average 2 to 3 days a month (calls off work) and she’ll come out and say that she couldn’t study necause of this or that for church, or was needed to “serve” to do this or that for something so can’t work that nigt.

    My point is that I don’t beleive Xenos as a whole encourages this behavor…I don’ think Dennis would at all…but I do believe that there is an under-current of another type of infuence that implies to us, the members that ‘you need to follow your homechurch leader, and not argue’ just like the ethos that you, TBL called it.

  101. Hmm, that’s interesting. I agree, I doubt that Dennis would encourage such behavior. (Not challenging leaders or not being a good steward). Judging from his posts here, he doesn’t strike me as the type of person who lets things slide by in the name of appearance.

    That said, we as beleivers are called to be in the world and not of it. This bad work ethic with school and work isn’t really either. Is it appealing to people outside the church that education is disposable and so is one’s job? And it certainly isn’t looking toward the future of serving God either. With a degree and good work ethic, God can do great things. Not being consistent is taking what God gave us and throwing it away – He gave us brains to use, school to go to, and a job to glorify Him. There are plenty of other believers in the world that would love to have a good job and be able to become educated. Of course, being of the world with it would be putting it over God and making such things your God. I know people who managed to go to school, work, and know God. It is possible, but you must balance it out. Its not a good idea to have a bunch of young folks who get to thirty and are on welfare because their “ministry” obligations got them put on academic probation and fired.

    Finally, it does concern me that there is an ethos of not questioning leaders. It especially concerns me that it is common in the younger groups. I am only 26, and I know that this generation is more easily swayed to not think for themselves and not challenge. (Postmodernism being a prime example.) People that do are looked down upon. This should not happen within a Christian group. Perhaps the leaders should make it a habit to sit down with their workers and ask them what the workers think needs changed – for starters it could be anonymous until it becomes more habitual. Ask the workers what isn’t cool that the leaders are doing. And then, they need to take what their people say and let higher leaders know. I am sorry, but even if you aren’t a leader doesn’t necessarily make the leader better. Its not fair to sit there and believe the leader over what several lay people are saying. That said, the lay people should have real life examples. This should not be a lets bash the leader thing. But real life examples and several people saying the same thing do lend to reality. (Besides, if people lie about the leaders, doesn’t God say he’ll vindicate???)

  102. This widespread alleged inability to question leaders baffles me. I get challenged all the time by members, and other leaders I talk to get the same thing. According to our policies, refusal to allow dissent is a violation of leaders’ ethics, and is subject to discipline. Unless people complain about it, I don’t know what to do.

    I do believe that leaders have the right to set the agenda for the churches they lead, and people who don’t like it should find a church that conforms more to what they are looking for. You can’t have thirty people all deciding what the agenda for a home church will be. When it comes to judgment calls, I don’t see anything wrong with leaders saying, “This is the way we’re doing things in this church.” It’s different if we’re talking about a violation of biblical norms. I think if someone feels their leaders are quelling dissent or questioning, they should complain to higher authority.

    Regarding irresponsibility and poor performance at work and school: We have our share of slackers and lazy people just like any church. And it’s often convenient for them to blame the church for why they’re not showing up for class or work. In fact, our church teaches that excelling at work and school is a Christian responsibility, for the sake of giving Christ a good reputation.

    Let’s not overlook the fact that the overwhelming majority of Xenos students graduate and many excel, going on to graduate school etc. Those who flunk out or get fired are regularly reproved for being a bad witness. But it still happens.

    One student recently got his friends from Xenos jobs at a restaurant, and a series of 7 or 8 in a row got fired for no-call/no-shows. He, and the other responsible Xenos people working there were thoroughly disgusted by the embarassing behavior of these people. But I’m not prepared to say it’s Xenos’ fault. The fact is we work with people like this, and it takes time to teach people to live a responsible life.

    However the picture above: “…a bunch of young folks who get to thirty and are on welfare because their “ministry” obligations got them put on academic probation and fired.” is not an accurate picture of what happens with Xenoids. Most go on to successful careers, and many report that they were never able to succeed in school or work before God delivered them from their drug and alcohol habits through the work of Xenos. Many others were on welfare until their lives were transformed while in Xenos. In fact, refusal to work or progress in school is one of the common reasons people are asked to leave ministry houses or home churches. 2Thess. 3 says that those leading an unruly life should be put under church discipline, and we follow that here.

  103. I’ll apologize for the comment above. (I sometimes say/type things before I actually think!) Considering I am not there to see who actually graduates and who doesn’t, its not fair of me to say that. I would be interested to know what percentage of college age people are in college in Xenos. Thats an easy enough stat to correct the question of lack of ethic. I was just wondering after reading several posts to the effect of poor work ethic or school.

    There are enough positive stories to tell that God is helping people through Xenos. I will not disagree with that. And I think God can work through any church or anyone if said person or church is willing. And I do not think you are a cult leader or any other such thing. I do think you care and are willing. I think it is cool that you are willing for people to come to you. On a personal level, you don’t seem to be unwilling for such things.

    However, what I do not understand is the fact that there are several people saying that some leaders are controlling and that they are afraid to challenge that because of what may happen to them. (If it were me, I’d be afraid that the leaders word will be believed and mine wouldn’t without heavy defenses.) Yes, YOU and your elders allow dissent. I beleive it. Isn’t a little bit possible that there are leaders who do what your own attendees are saying?? (And I doubt its even a majority of your leaders. But I think there are some.) The suggestion is that any problems Xenos may have are well under control and everyone is aware of them. The suggestion is that that no one who has posted anything negative that goes there is correct. I understand some people here have it out for Xenos and don’t like it. Thats their free will opinion. But, can you honestly say everything that isn’t positive is a lie or close to one???

    I also wasn’t suggesting that everyone should make the decision of where the small group is going. (That would be insane – not even major corporations do that!!) My suggestion (allow me to rephrase…again!!) was that the leaders occaisionally ask some of their reliable workers about their sin. It is more on a personal level – not through the whole group. Is so the leaders can be accountable to people who see them all the time and vice versa. And it should be seasoned with grace…. Its just a thought, but it may lay to rest that challenged that dissent isn’t cool.

    This is interesting to me. I am interested in both sides and what people are saying. And I do think you guys are doing good stuff. I don’t mean to be rude – I am afraid I am just not very good at expressing my thoughts logically. So if I offend again – I am sorry. 🙂

  104. Dennis,

    I read the church discipline thing, and one thing is a bit confusing to me. It speaks of barring (my word) people from attending CT or a home group (in extreme circumstances, of course). Our church practices church discipline as well, but wouldn’t bar a person so disciplined from actual attendance. The Word says that we are to “treat” such a person “as an unbeliever”. Question: would we bar unbelievers from attending, or would we rather ENCOURAGE their attendance, but make it clear to them that we do not accept them as fellow believers so long as they are unrepentant? It strikes me that barring attendance is closer to the Amish practice of “shunning” than Biblical discipline.

    I would support, of course, refusing to allow such a person to receive communion (until repentant); this is consistent with “treating as an unbeliever”. Further, I’d encourage Xenoids not to share the close fellowship that Christ-followers do with such a disciplined person. That said, it just seems to me that cutting that person off from attending (as an unbeliever would be free to attend) goes beyond Scriptural warrant.

    Just a thought…

  105. I think that we as Christins often times hold fellow Christians to such a high standard that disappointment in that person is always the ultimate result. Saved or unsaved, we are human and always battling “the old man” within us. Thank God for His grace, which he gives freely. We sometimes just aren’t as free with this grace towards other people.

    I am a member of Xenos, and have been since 2000. Before coming to this church, I wandered for years. I mentoned in a prior post that good, bad, or indifferent, Xenos is an excellent church – it definatley has its weak spots but by and large it is the best around.

    Xenos has its weak spots because it is made up of people – failable humans. We are the Church, God’s body and there is grace to cover the wrongs, if we just reach out and accept it, or extend it. I see much within the church as has been mentioned in this post, but I also see a lot of good that by far supercedes the bad.

    Despite the conflicted feelings I have for a few of the home church leaders and my few negative exeriences, I have grown a lot in the 6 years I have attended. I’m not the same person I once was.

    Dennis, I really appreciate your responses in these posts. I realize that despite the great leader you are, you can’t see everything that happens within the infrastructure of Xenos. There is truth in almost every post within this blog. As well, and I also sense that a few posts express either expectatons that weren’t met, or a person or two who is just not able to move on past a bad experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting a person’s feelings or their experience, I’m just saying that possibly the bad experience of one or two have been with a misled leader or church member and maybe they should just move on somewhere else away from that person, to another homechurch or another sphere.

    Dennis, Just please keep in mind what people have voiced here. I feel that there are a few leaders that are more concerned with following a great leader or leaders than following God’s leading in their lives – AND this is probably something that they are not aware of. They have just lost touch with “that still small voice” within them.

    As far as church discipline goes, I still have a problem with a member being removed for one sin when there are other issues with others that aren’t addressed and just ignored. This seems judgmental to me, and this is exactly one reason why Xenos gets a bad rap from the outside.

    I also know that going to an elder doesn’t always work, either. I have seen this happen and the repercussions that result.

  106. SD,

    There certainly is a case biblically for discipline. I’d encourage you to read over Xenos’ statement on it (Dennis linked to it above). There are good reasons why some sins merit disfellowshipping IF those sins are not repented of. Yes, we are all sinners; no one disputes that. But living in an open, unrepentant affair is categorically different than having a heavy foot, right? I’d encourage you to consider the Biblical teaching on the matter; it’s worthy of study!

    And thanks for your great, balanced words!

  107. To Byron: No, I don’t think discipline involves preventing someone from taking communion. Paul says you must remove the sinful man from among you. 1 Cor. 5:13. I don’t think missing communion would be much of a deterrant at all. This commnunion thing goes back to Catholic teaching, where removing the mass from someone implied they would go to hell. I don’t see this in the NT.

    To silent: I don’t discount the possibility that some leaders could get out of line, and I know this has happened here. We have removed leaders from their positions for controlling behavior before and would do it again. I do also know of cases where members have felt “discounted” by leaders because the leaders didn’t agree with them. People sometimes have to learn they can have their say, but may not get their way. I’ve had this experience myself, where a member was furious at me, and claimed I didn’t listen, only because I didn’t agree. So these situations aren’t always real clear.

    One of the risks we run by having lay people lead is that they may misbehave. This was already evident in the New Testament church. Diotriphes loved to be first among them 3 John. Others were disciplined for other sins 1 Tim. 5. We can’t always prevent this, but we can deal with it when it comes to our attention.

  108. i agree with silent. xenos is by far the best church ive ever been to. i became a christian here and have grown as a person leaps and bounds due to the fact that people who were willing to be used by God worked with me. the teaching is by far the best ive ever heard and the most important thing, God is accomplishing great things through this church.

    i think being proactive, though when it comes to these issues is paramount. whether it is me, or silent or you dennis, we must be on the alert and nip these things in the bud. whether clarifying certain issues people have, rebuking those who fortify these problems, or even hold an open forum where people can get these things out on the table with out the fear (although false) of any reprecussions.

    we cant let the devil get a foothold. it could get a lot worse if we let these relatively small things get in our own way.

  109. I’m pastoring a church in the U.K. and have been deeply impacted by Xenos through their website. There are few churches that have made such resources freely available which bye the way speaks in a positive light of it’s openness for critical analasis.
    I’m sure in a church of it’s size their are bound to be viable problems that have occured, but isn’t that to be expected when trying to tackle such a problem that is being neglected in most churches today, that of forming real Christian community. I’m deeply encouraged by the bold pursuit of Xenos to make disciples, not just converts, and to pursue a real sense of community. No matter how you look at it, that’s messy business, and there to be commended for it. I pray God’s healing redirection for those who have had unfortunate experiences there, don’t get bitter, just seek the Lord as to where He would redirect you. Unfortunately, it seems that many people making these comments are just pointing to these apparant negative experiences as an excuse to pursue a lifestyle that is clearly unbiblical regardless of Xenos.
    Thank you Dennis for taking the time to post your comments here. Keep pushing forward. The Xenos ministry is inspiring to many of us. On a brotherly note I do think you should apologize for your earlier comment “some chick” in your original post about the girl who started this whole thing.
    Looking forward to coming by some day to pay you all a visit. I have a million questions I would love to hear your feedback on, regarding what I would consider to be a unique work that the Lord is doing here, and which I have seen to have many parallels with the beginnings of Xenos.
    blessings,
    Drew

  110. Drew,

    You are indeed correct that a church the size of Xenos will have it share of problems. I mean, where there are people, there are always going to be issues.

    Part of the reason why Xenos deals with some opposition is because, as you said (but I’m saying it a different way), they build community and deal head on with issues that other churches just turn their heads away from because of the fear of offending anybody. Xenos is the first church that I attended that is “real”, and not always politically correct. The bible teaching is solid, and I know the Holy Spirit has worked in my life more through the church. Before coming to Xenos, I didn’t really understand what or who the Holy Spirit is.

    My only concern is that some sins are hndled different thsat others. Sexual sin is NOT good, but I have a big problem with homechurch members, such as singles being asked to leave when it is discovered that they are spending nights with their partners when you have this other person who constantly struggles with pornography chronically, and is truthful about it, but never seems to get away from it…and then you have a married couple who struggle financially WHICH is not a shame, but they keep repeating the same mistakes year after year and keep getting bailed out. The wife refuses to work (and hasn’t for years) to help out her husband and college-age child. Then there is the one who is always drinking, always and is often inappropriate when drunk…which is always.

    Again, sexual sin is wrong. All sin is wrong. I’m not condemning or being self-righteous, but I think you can’t be harsher with one sin and not as harsh with the other…and yes, if the one refuses to repent then by all means lovingly cast them out, but not just for sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

  111. this has been a very interesting read and i wish i could of gotten in on it sooner.
    there are several things that seemed to have gone unresolved that i want to comment on…
    (I was born into a family that attends Xenos and have gone all of 18 years)
    -I have just recently moved into a minstry house and have loved every minute of it! the house meetings have been encouraging and helpful to my spiritual walk, as have the college homechurch, CT and Cell.
    -“some chick” : I use this term all of the time, and, being a female, find it to simply be word (not to mentin it sounds better than saying “some female” or “some girl”). My generation uses “chick”, “dude”, “bitch”, and other such terms in fun and loving ways, not ment to be derogatory.
    -i have brought friends to the high school ct and homechurch, some of them only wanted to come for the social aspect and for the free food. Most of them (and yes we did have one unfortuante case where the leader acted too quickly and has gone back to that person and apologized) were addressed on the issue many times, and yet they didn’t change. Thier behavior was disruptive and distracting to the people who did want to grow, so they were asked to leave for a certain period of time, and if they wanted to come back, they could. We have had one guy return and he is eager to grow closer to God and to learn as much as possible.
    -I personally love Xenos, and I have friends who go to other churchs and are just as eager to grow and learn as I am. God can work through anyone who is willing!
    I wish I could write more, but it is getting late and I have school tommorrow.
    In Him,
    Jessica

  112. I was searching online tonight about information concerning Xenos because I was trying to explain my past experiences with a minister who has become a recent friend.

    Now my comments to this tread is not directed to anyone in particular. I just felt the need to share what took place when I and my 1st husband were members.

    We were very young when we first attended a Xenos home church and then a CT. We hadn’t been married long when he was invited by a co-worker. He came home on night all excited and wanted to go. So we did. I felt something was odd about the leaders and members from the start. I wasn’t comfortable at all. I was made to feel like I was non supportive of my husband and his beliefs, I was told by not one but several leaders that I need to attend counseling with a leader where I was made to feel even worse for questioning anything about their church.

    Finally I just learned to keep quiet and go along…every once in a while when socializing with fellow members and the leader of the home church we went to would come to me and say things like I was disrespectful because I may ask a question or wouldn’t attended more than 2 or 3 meeting a week. I had a young growing family, I had just had my first child when two of the leaders and my husband were in my home screaming and yelling at me and telling me I needed mental help and then they drove me to a hospital where I was forced to stay the night all because I said that so many meetings a week was just too much to ask of a young mother with a child under the age of two and expecting another.

    When my oldest daughter started their preschool program at Calumet my husband and I were accused of sexually molesting our own child and physically abusing her as well.

    When a social worker questioned a young girl who attended the smaller children during Central Teaching meetings and home church meetings the leaders of our home church took it upon themselves to call the case worker and lay all the blame at my feet and went as far as to say they felt it was solely I who was abusing the kids and also stated that they felt my husband knew nothing of it. We left the church.

    Two years later I had another baby, I had been home form the hospital less than two weeks when we got a phone call from another former member informing us of their daughter, the babysitter who was under question to begin with, and they confessed to us that their daughter had been caught molesting other children and they felt a responsibility to inform all the parents this girl had sat for. Even after this girl was caught and charged the church still held onto their position that nothing could have happened while this girl was watching the children and that all abuse issues in our home was in fact 100% my fault.

    I long sometimes to believe again but after Xenos how can I? Oh and as a side note, I have kept informed of several of the activities of a few that did the finger pointing at me, the one with the loudest voice, a leader of a home church was arrested on a morals charge last year, indecent exposure at a local park.

  113. I have something more to say about some of the things that were said here about other things as well.

    While as a member at Xenos I witnessed a friend who was for lack of a better word, shunned as a form of Xenos so-called discipline. While attending marriage counseling my friend was told she was too judgmental of her husband, and therefore she should feel what it was like to feel the pain that being judged can cause, they placed her on a 30 day “probation” where she was told she wasn’t welcome to attend meetings or functions. During that 30 day period, my own husband had forbidden me to call my own friend.

    As for seeing the same thing that was mentioned about “approved” dating, it went on ALL the time, but yet they would go the distance for two different unwed mother’s in our home church, one of which helped to end my marriage, as did another female member who consoled my husband for my “disbeliefs” in their mission statement. But their friendship wasn’t at all dismissed or discouraged and not once did I ever hear about it being “improper”.

    After our own experience with Xenos I contacted a local watch group and they informed me that yes they had a file on Xenos and put me in contact with a support group which had over 75 active members and several hundred inactive members all of which had been former members of Xenos Christian Fellowship in Columbus Ohio. I also have a cousin who is still a member, and has been encouraged to have no contact with his family (mother, father, brother and sister-in-law) as they questioned rather or not Xenos was a cult. In my opinion, yes it is. I am just glad to have survived their influence.

  114. Just wanted to say that I’m still reading this blog regularly with much interest. I’m still hoping that something will come of this…the e-mail that I posted before was flooded with spam and things like that so I’ve stopped using it. If anyone would like to contact me personally please feel free at [email protected]. Sorry if anyone tried to contact me at the previously posted e-mail.

    something interesting and sad to add…
    up until a few days ago, two of my good male friends shared an apartment together on campus while attending OSU. One, we’ll call him Joe, does not go to Xenos while the other, lets call him steve, has been off and on for quite a while. Everything was perfectly fine and normal until a few weeks ago when steve began spending more and more time at the ministry houses. 3 days ago, joe(the non-xenoid) came home from class to find steve’s room empty and a key on the table with absolutely no explanation. he’s living with the church now…

    nothing was going on in that apartment that a member of a church could not live with. trust me, i’ve been there many times. think of this as you will, its just not right to me. i know that xenos supporters are probably going to jump all over this post and say that it was “steve’s” choice but as some of us commenting here know very well, there is not a whole lot of “choosing” when it comes to the lifestyle dictated under Xenos. clearly, xenoids are well trained in defending anything and everything that anyone who slightly disagrees with the church says. I’m just sharing some facts. i’ve lost yet another friend to xenos, and quite frankly, i’m sick of it.

  115. Lindsay, I am sorry about your friend, I know exactly how you feel. I lost many friends because I was told that I should “stick” with people from the church. Even after being away from them for 17 years I am still making amends to friends and family that were hurt because I was “strongly encouraged” to walk away from “unGodly” like people. People who only questioned the ethics of this church. When I was encouraged to have nothing to do with my own Grandmother who had the most strong and unwavering faith in Christ I knew without a doubt things weren’t right with this place of “worship”. My Grandmother taught Sunday school for over 40 years and her faith is still something I wish I could grasp, but as I said earlier, after Xenos my beliefs have never been the same, major trust issues have clouded my thoughts and the hurt it has caused has been immeasurable.

  116. Wow, Trinket. That’s rough stuff. I am really sorry. Its sounds like you went through some really difficult stuff. Especially the things having to do with your husband and child. If I were you, I’d feel the same way and my beliefs would be shaken to the core. I just want you to know that, good or bad, Xenos isn’t God. God is not that church and the church isn’t God. You can have a relationship with God that is good and deep. His love for you exists regardless of what happened to you. Its about Him and his love and grace for you.

  117. My personal summary and final posting here:

    One thing I have learned to look for in the accountability of a Pastor of a church oddly enough doesn’t just come from those super ministers with large homes and great expense accounts. But from those types and those who are running cult like churches, they both have one thing in common….when entering into a debate like discussion as we have seen here in this thread, they each use Bible verses to justify their own or their churches actions and or beliefs.

    Faith or belief should never have a need for any justification. If you believe in what your church stands for and you feel it is above reproach or that you have a strong handle on the leaders appointed in the name of Christ and the church, then you shouldn’t need to justify it by quoting scripture, because all that does, at least to me anyway, is to make these “leaders” come across as pious or that they are using rigid religious rhetoric to talk in circles that make their answers to any argument obscure and obliquely understood. Plainly put, they don’t truly answer what has been asked.

    I not only learned that from watching and listening to those televangelists with big fancy cars and homes, I learned it right from Xenos themselves. I learned by watching first hand how many Xenos followers tend to try to justify the word of God by quoting Romans Chapter one.

    Am I bitter? you bet I am. Dennis I talked to you on the phone at the time this all happened, of course you sided with your appointed so-called leaders of the home church where this abuse had taken place. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not just upset or a little miffed that I was accused, that was devastating enough, but what was more damaging to my mind and my heart let alone my faith was the cover up in general. How many other parents of possible innocent little victims were left unaware that a problem even existed? How many other children were irreparably damaged and scarred for life all for the sake of keeping this quiet? You all had the perfect scapegoat at your disposal, you had a member who questioned the almighty and perfect Xenos to point your fingers at instead of doing what was right.

    I can at least in part answer my own question, two little girls were harmed, harmed to the point their parents even left this state and moved away. Two of the most lovely innocent little children you can ever imagine, two little girls with big bright brown eyes. They were harmed because no one told the parents of these little girls what was suspected to be going on. Instead you all chose to point a finger at me and turn a deliberate blind eye to the trouble within your own church. And you all did it while spouting, “in the name of Christ.”

    Let’s see, that’s my two daughters, L & T’s two daughters, a little mentally challenged boy, and the two half siblings of this girl who was abusing them that I know of who were harmed….how many other small innocent kids and families were damaged in the wake of keeping your church’s dirty little secret? Why did their innocence have to end up being such a sacrifice to save face? Got a Bible verse for that one?

    Don’t worry Ladies and Gentleman, I am done, no need to get all riled up, this is my last posting here, I have finally been able to use my voice and say the things that I have kept bottled up inside for a very long time. Maybe now I can finally let some of this anger go…I apologize to anyone who became upset over my just jumping in here and exposing such ugliness…but I felt a responsibility to share that Xenos isn’t as healthy a place as it claims.

    They do without a doubt try to control the lives of many of it’s members…and the last time I read the definition of hypocrisy, Xenos completes its meaning. They claim one thing, and do another…and that my friends, in my opinion is the very foundation of a cult. Just remember that if there are any nagging little red flags that go off when you attend a church such as Xenos or those like it, stop and take a listen to what it’s saying, use the common sense God gave you in the first place. If worshiping Christ is what is in your heart, why not try a conventional church that doesn’t make you go hmmmmmm?

    On a side note, my first red flag that I ignored was more like my mind posing a joke….I had my first red flag when I walked into a central teaching and I took a look around at the many—- MANY people there and the way they talked and moved about—I joked with my own head, saying to myself, don’t drink any offered Kool-aid! Because honestly, the place had the feeling I got when I looked at pictures from Jonestown…I should have heeded that little voice. I may not have been poisoned with a drink, (and no I am not saying I think Xenos ever would do such a thing) but my beliefs were poisoned, with judgmental pious behavior and rigid religious rhetoric and the out right non-caring and ignoring of the truth that would have protected the innocence of several small children.

    Be well to each of you here…I extend Brightest Blessings to everyone, and yes, Dennis, that includes you and your—– “followers”.

  118. Trinket,

    I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to your experiences with Xenos, for one reason that I wasn’t there when this happened to you years ago, and secondly, because I was once told by my own home church leaders that this particular time period that this happened to you was when there were some big issues within Xenos, such as control that were eventually addressed.

    Yes, it sounds to me as if you were deeply hurt from these experiences. I have been deeply hurt by a past church before as well, damaged emotionally and spiritually for years but I learned that you have to move past this hurt or you stay stuck.

    I could defend Xenos until blue in the face, but I won’t. The Xenos I know now isn’t a cult, but a congregation composed of weak, fallible human beings which somehow, God still uses. I have experienced some hurt there myself, not nearly to the degree you have, but pain nonetheless. I finally learned that my focus needs to be on my relationship with the Creator, not the people.

    As a side note, Dennis, Gary, and all of the other leaders and elders don’t like in big fancy houses or drive fancy cars. There is a dollar limit on what they earn from the church. In Other words, they live humbly.

    I wish you the best, and I pray that you can move past this.

  119. Regarding Trinket’s complaints:

    I don’t know much about her case, and this was going on twenty years ago. I do know about the group she was in, and there were problems there. We had a big fight in our church over this child abuse issue around 1990 – 1993 and it resulted in far more than a thousand people leaving the church. One of the biggest issues was that some leaders had fallen in with a counseling service here in town that was stuck on the idea that people have been abused as children and have repressed the memory of it. They were always discerning that different kids had been abused, and accusing parents or other relatives. (Even I was accused)

    During the fight that erupted over this, the elders here opposed this fixation on child abuse and accusation, and a big public debate broke out (not very cultlike!). We believed that pseudo diagnoses were being made and that people were being hurt. So this incident could have happened–the group she mentions was somewhat involved in this dissident group. I’ve checked the records, and I can say that neither Xenos schools nor our office (including OASIS, our children’s mininstry) ever reported this to children’s services. I talked with the former leaders from this group and they said it was someone in their group acting on her own that made the report.

    For the record, when evidence of child abuse surfaces, churches and schools are required by law to report it to children’s services within 48 hours or face criminal liability. When cases have presented themselves (usually because a child has reported something) we pass the information along as the law requires. We do not say who we think is, or is not, guilty. That’s for them to find out.

    The leaders of this group deny absolutely that they or anyone ever suggested staying away from grandma or other family members. If they did, that would be totally against our policies and everything we teach.

    Re. The leader who got in trouble, mentioned in the post: When this issue surfaced that couple was immediately removed from all leadership roles, and put into treatment. They have remained under counseling and have not returned to leadership.

    Without agreeing with your characterizations, I will say I’m sorry you had a bad experience here, and I believe we have moved to correct some of the problems that were surfacing in certain groups at that time.

  120. Well, I guess it wasn’t my last post here…

    Just like you claim Dennis, “for the record”…it was reported to FSSC (Franklin County Children’s Services) the initial report was in fact made by a teacher from Calumet school, the first or second year the school was open by Xenos. I went in to speak with the teacher and the counselor there the day I got the call from FCCS and I was told point blank who had made the call, I removed my daughter from enrollment there that very day. I understand about the liability issues on reporting abuse when and if an incident of questionable circumstances presents itself… “for the record” what had happened to alarm this teacher and counselor was my daughter kissing a little boy.

    Yes there was one individual a female member in the home church that made a collective report as well, she was a local police officer that the leaders had ask to make certain calls on behalf of them, the leaders. This woman had her own past parental abuse issues that she allowed to cloud her own judgment.

    As for what you were told about none of the leaders from that home church “NOT” making any calls themselves…if you were told that, you were just lied to. Fact is the one that was mentioned about being removed for his public conduct in the local park…told me himself, right to my face that he had talked to the case worker and said what he did about believing that I was the one abusing my own children when their father wasn’t around. I was also told that by another member who I believe became a leader in that small group. He supported and confirmed that the before mentioned removed from leadership individual had made that call. But that’s okay that you want to believe what you were told by your leaders…it doesn’t really matter as much to me anymore that people want to still try and cover their ….I’ll keep it polite…exposed posteriors. Maybe you should ask them about my husband and I requesting to speak to the leaders collectively during one of their leaders meetings and the one single (unmarried) man who was a leader there started to say something in support of us was pulled from the room by two other leaders and when they returned the man never finished what he was trying to say, in fact he never spoke again during the entire meeting. No, no cover up in the works there, of course not!

    Also for the record it was not 20 years ago, close but since we are going for the “for the record” thing, it was 15 and 17 years ago. Seventeen years for the initial report and 15 years when I got the call from a former member informing us about their daughter being caught red handed abusing her own half siblings.

    I am not even going to address the denial over the Grandmother comment, I know in my heart what was said to me, and again, it doesn’t matter in the larger picture of things that went on there. Personally I am just surprised that even part of what I had to say here was even acknowledged at all, even if the facts were buried in half truths. I don’t blame you for that Dennis, you are only going on what you have been told by people you have known for a long time verses me, some lady posting on an internet website coming out of the shadows after 17 years. But the truth is, these things did take place, and sadly children were hurt, families were harmed and some even destroyed. But for some reason I was led here to find this place where I could after so long finally get it out and off my chest, now maybe my own healing can begin.

    Brightest Blessings to all.
    [email protected]

  121. Okay, so I have decided to stay and keep saying what I feel Xenos really is, and I strongly do believe it is a cult or at the very least it has cult like tendencies.

    Believe it or not even though I felt it was before finding this website, I have come to solidify my beliefs by what I have seen here.

    Some of the reasons (with a little help from a helpful list of things to look for if you suspect a church is a cult or cult like) I feel Xenos is at the very least “cult-like” and no amount of debate will ever change my mind about that, here are those reasons as follows:

    1. (The leader is regarded as the supreme authority.) I believe he sees himself as one, he is the one that came in here and pontificated how he was “head pastor” proclaiming it like some royal title. Showing us his dismissive nature in his comments whenever anyone had something to say about their negative experiences at Xenos. What I mean by dismissive, go back through this thread and read repeatedly how he passed the buck telling those who have stated problems to take it to an appointed leader or elder, therefore making himself appear above dealing with such inconveniences of people who disagree with his church’s ethics, doctrine or the gross amount of proselytizing and the manner in which it is done.

    2. (He or she may delegate a certain amount of power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader’s wishes and rules.) Again this is the same as I stated above. But I got news for you, just because you may delegate that authority to other’s it doesn’t always mean they will use the same methods, especially if they want to be able to show “positive” results in rising membership and or funding issues. They may not always follow that “good intention set of rules” the church started out with or try to proclaim, all because they don’t want their “leader” to become disappointed. This is also where I feel the cultic style experiences or feel this church has, has developed. I don’t think or believe Xenos started out with a cult like following but the mere size of it and the many “delegated” leaders it has developed over the years has brought it to that status, not everyone within it’s organization has adhered to the founder’s initial vision, ultimately leading to it’s cultic like feel.

    3. (The cult’s leaders tend to be charismatic, determined, and domineering.) I’ve seen Dennis in action, he is a very charismatic speaker, but then a lot of ministers are, they need to be, but when there are at least 2 of these 3 traits working in conjunction with each other, it is a wonderful recipe of the pie-eyed follower to fall under a cult leader’s spell. And Dennis displays all 3 of these traits, we who have been to one of his teachings have seen the charismatic trait, we have all heard there and here how determined he is and we have seen his domineering side as well.

    4. (They persuade followers to drop their families, jobs, careers, and friends to follow the cult.) As it has been discussed here, and even if the powers that be at Xenos refuse to admit it goes on, it does. Nothing what-so-ever should take away time that could be devoted to bringing other’s to Christ or their church. Nothing should be in the way of attending any of the numerous meetings each week. Members are “strongly” encouraged to proselytize every chance they have, and as one writer said in this thread of their daughter, she uses even family functions to do so.

    5.(The cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of the behavior of its members.) I agree with that, I read in several postings here as well as lived it. The one writer here who talked about his depression and been thrown out of a mission house is the most classic example of the control over behavior of a member I have ever seen, I had to read that posting several times because I just couldn’t believe that someone who can articulate such a classic case of manipulation could ever be so naïve as to continue to follow such a destructive path and fall for living within a cult like environment.

    6.(Members of the cult tend to be or are grouped together in living quarters with limited privacy.) Uhm, mission houses…need I say more?

    7.(Cults tend to limit the amount of sleep members get.) Okay so maybe this one isn’t as in your face obvious as some of the other’s, but when you add up the total amount of times you find yourself in the many meetings held throughout a week, something is being given up somewhere along the line, be it school, a job, home life or sleep.

    8.(The cult tends to have a double set of ethics.) Can we say, BINGO! How many times have we all read here that such and such isn’t church policy, and yet such and such is and or has taken place? How many times or how many people who display or report the same problems repeatedly does it take before you realize, hey, this is a genuine problem? Ever heard the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” theory? Well there it is, in all it’s glorious living color.

    9.(The cult has basically only two purposes, recruiting new members and fund-raising.) Now I will not comment on the fund raising part, because I have been away from Xenos for 17 years so I simply do not know about their fund-raising efforts. But I do know of the proselytizing efforts and where they stand on that issue.

    10.(The cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. They are selective about who can join.) Now on this one, I don’t see the entire picture as it was written, but, I do see and have seen first hand the cliquish nature of the exclusivity of being in the “in groups”, apparently so did the naïve individual who wrote here about how he left and tried to come back and was kept at arm’s link and treated as an outsider until he proved himself “worthy” enough to be recognized. Classic case of manipulation!

    11.(The cult promises that joining it will change you, your life, your outlook on life. That it will SAVE you.) Of course they call it coming to Christ…but don’t ever question them about their ethics, doctrine or policies, because you will be quick to hear about doubting Thomas, Judas and how you will need counseling to work through your issues or to improve your poor walk with the Lord.

    I read this somewhere once, and I am just curious here, does anyone else see what I see in this quote? “A healthy church will deal with criticism or questions regarding its point of view openly, honestly, and patiently. (Some churches can be cult-like in their rigidity and defensiveness without being full-blown cults.) Cults, on the other hand, are defensive, evasive, or belligerent to an extreme when reasonable questions are raised. They foster an atmosphere of spiritual bondage through legalism and group intimidation.”

    I suppose to some people they will look upon remarks from Xenos as being open and patient. But what I have witnessed here in this ongoing thread is, arrogance, and evasiveness when told to take your concerns to other leaders or elders…defensiveness and even rigidity in the answers given.

    Here is yet another list I found recently and I think it’s a pretty good think piece when thinking about Xenos.

    Are you told not to question what is being taught because the leaders are honest and want the best for you so you must trust them? Has someone replaced your own choices in life?

    Are you told not to ask questions why anyone left, you’re to accept the answers the leaders give you such as: they fell into sin, they didn’t receive correction, they weren’t open or they had a bad heart and didn’t want to be disciples?

    Are you told that you must be with their certain church or group to be saved and not by Jesus Christ?

    If you want to leave are you being told there is no other church that practices truth, you will go to hell?

    Are you made to feel your failures; that your performance is not up to par for the bibles standard?

    Are you being rebuked for things such as the way you say hello or how you respond to being asked to do something for a leader or disciple? Do they tell you its a matter of the heart how one complies?

    Are they putting down other churches and building themselves up? Do they sometimes use people as examples of what you are to be doing and others on what you are not to be doing?

    Do they bring attention to what they do, and ignoring others that may be doing the same things outside their church?

    Do they put down others to make themselves look better, calling themselves righteous and others unrighteous?

    Do they call those who leave fall away’s and enemies, dogs returning to their own vomit, using the examples of Korah or Judas?

    Do they stop you from reading anything negative about themselves calling it spiritual pornography or recommend you not read it for your own spiritual protection?

    Do they recommend for you to be around their people expecting you to be at all the group activities? If not, you’re spirituality and dedication are questioned?

    Do they defend all that they do even though it can be harmful or wrong?

    Do they operate by humility or are they arrogant and demand you to obey if you are considering otherwise? Or is it done subtly by manipulating you into obeying by statements such as, real Christians obey their leaders or if you were following Jesus you would see what I’m saying is right? True disciples did not question Jesus.

    THINGS TO BE AWARE OF

    People telling you how talented you are and saying you can really go places. (Flattery goes a long way in cults)

    An instant bonding of friendship without your knowing who they are or them really knowing you, they act as your best friend (love bombing still works).

    When you ask questions about their history or the group they are vague in their answers or avoid answering them. (not answering or postponing it makes it go away)

    Are you required to attend studies, going through the program before you are allowed to be a Christian? (this will attach you to the groups goals)

    Are they emphasizing their church and who they are, more than Christ? They teach that one can only be a Christian by joining them. (exclusive spirituality appeals to our pride and works well today)

    Cults will always divide the family unit instead of bringing them together. They will make you choose between God and their church. They use scriptures such as Jesus came to bring a sword not peace or one must give up brothers sisters wife and house for the kingdom and be a true follower. Children often become the most hurt because of strict rules enforced on them. They lose their childhood and are deeply affected being unable to adjust later on in life. Religious systems that are not balanced can be socially and psychologically disastrous for innocent children.

    I know this post is long, and I am closing it now for that reason, but after reading the above lists, I couldn’t help not including it as I see so much of Xenos in these questions.

  122. Trinket,

    After 17 years of being away from Xenos, perhap you should visit some Sunday, or Saturday night before you embrace all that you wrote.

    Again, I respect that you went through something very painful with Xenos, but this is a long time to carry this on your shoulders. Pray, talk to someone, but just get over it!

  123. Thanks for the invite but I think you’ll understand my declining it with a resounding no thanks! Been there, done that and don’t wish to do it again. Was hurt enough the first go round…

    Yes, I agree, 17 years IS a long time to carry it on my shoulders…but you know something, it will stay with me a lifetime, because my children were harmed and used in a way that no child should ever have to endure. Other children were ultimately hurt because someone along the way sat in judgment of me all because I questioned the validity of a church. Do you have any clue what-so ever the guilt and hurt that has caused? I have to live with that everyday. I have had to live with my children’s nightmares and struggles to overcome trust issues and a whole host of other problems stemming from all of this.

    Pray? Talk to someone? What makes you think I haven’t? One of the things suggested by several therapists and even ministers has suggested is to write out all the thoughts onto paper, send it off to the ones that caused the pain…one even has referred to it as flushing the toilet…I view this being able to post what I have as that goal. A lot of thought and care has gone into what I have had to say here…I think it is wonderful that there are people who have had a positive experience with Xenos, but I do feel there are major structural problems there and not everyone has had that experience, even Dennis himself admitted that they lost well over a 1000 members over the issues I have talked about. Before you say, yeah but that was years ago….take a look at the posts here, see that those problems, those issues are STILL occurring.

  124. I think I’ll have to answer trinket’s points one by one as long as I have time. these come from Singer’s book, Cults Among Us (and another book by Hassan) which I have read, and recommend to people. The book is pretty fair and well-reasoned. This post is neither.

    [trinket says]
    1. (The leader is regarded as the supreme authority.) I believe he sees himself as one, he is the one that came in here and pontificated how he was “head pastor” proclaiming it like some royal title. Showing us his dismissive nature in his comments whenever anyone had something to say about their negative experiences at Xenos. What I mean by dismissive, go back through this thread and read repeatedly how he passed the buck telling those who have stated problems to take it to an appointed leader or elder, therefore making himself appear above dealing with such inconveniences of people who disagree with his church’s ethics, doctrine or the gross amount of proselytizing and the manner in which it is done.
    [dennis] I have answered directly and without abusive and insulting language all points raised that I am able to answer. Referring people to a responsible authority includes myself, so that complaint is invalid. Inconvenience has never been a factor here. The point is, how am I supposed to deal with vague stories about anonymous people and leaders?

    Contrary to this God-like essence of cult leaders, our leaders are elected to office every three years, and are completely accountable to the people and to the board. Xenos leaders never claim to have any special insight or revelation, and have no more say than any other member who can base their position on scripture. I have not dismissed anyone on this blog. I have merely disagreed with them, and I’m allowed to do that.

    [trinket says]
    2. (He or she may delegate a certain amount of power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader’s wishes and rules.) Again this is the same as I stated above. But I got news for you, just because you may delegate that authority to other’s it doesn’t always mean they will use the same methods, especially if they want to be able to show “positive” results in rising membership and or funding issues. They may not always follow that “good intention set of rules” the church started out with or try to proclaim,
    [Dennis] this is a danger that we have acknowledged, and it has come up at various times. When we discover leaders are out of line, we move to discipline them, usually by removing them from leadership.

    [trinket says]
    all because they don’t want their “leader” to become disappointed. This is also where I feel the cultic style experiences or feel this church has, has developed. I don’t think or believe Xenos started out with a cult like following but the mere size of it and the many “delegated” leaders it has developed over the years has brought it to that status, not everyone within it’s organization has adhered to the founde r’s initial vision, ultimately leading to it’s cultic like feel.
    [dennis] You’re assigning motives (that they don’t want to disappoint their leader) while I believe many different reasons could motivate misbehavior. This part is purely theoretical.

    [trinket says]
    3. (The cult’s leaders tend to be charismatic, determined, and domineering.) I’ve seen Dennis in action, he is a very charismatic speaker, but then a lot of ministers are, they need to be, but when there are at least 2 of these 3 traits working in conjunction with each other, it is a wonderful recipe of the pie-eyed follower to fall under a cult leader’s spell. And Dennis displays all 3 of these traits, we who have been to one of his teachings have seen the charismatic trait, we have all heard there and here how determined he is and we have seen his domineering side as well.
    [dennis] Most leaders are somewhat charismatic (which means gifted) and determined. Probably every successful pastor could be described this way. The only perjoritive word here is “domineering.” And that word is the furthest thing from our leadership style. 98% of Xenos’ problems come from exactly the opposite reason–that we are extremely permissive. Compulsion and top-down leadership are abhored in our church, and very rare. Only in extreme cases (like disciplinary cases) would we compel people. Xenos is a place where people debate and argue freely and vigorously in order to reach consensus. We are nothing like a cult in this regard.

    [trinket says]
    4. (They persuade followers to drop their families, jobs, careers, and friends to follow the cult.) As it has been discussed here, and even if the powers that be at Xenos refuse to admit it goes on, it does.

    [dennis] No, it doesn’t. Why don’t you explain why all the people here have careers, friends in their neighborhoods, work, and school, and friendly relationships with their extended families. Nobody in Xenos would admit any of this, because it’s just ridiculous. Sorry, this dark portrayal just won’t fly.

    [trinket says]
    Nothing what-so-ever should take away time that could be devoted to bringing other’s to Christ or their church. Nothing should be in the way of attending any of the numerous meetings each week. Members are “strongly” encouraged to proselytize every chance they have, and as one writer said in this thread of their daughter, she uses even family functions to do so.
    [dennis] “proselytizing” is perjorative way to characterize sharing one’s faith. Problem is, this doesn’t come from Xenos, it comes from Jesus Christ. In arguing for commitment to Christ and evangelism we are only teaching what Jesus taught, for instance, in the great commission. Singer, by the way, doesn’t cite commitment to a group or church as a mark of a cult. She only argues that when people are to contact family, made to leave normal society and their jogs to live with the cult, etc. None of this is happening here.
    [trinket says]
    5.(The cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of the behavior of its members.) I agree with that, I read in several postings here as well as lived it. The one writer here who talked about his depression and been thrown out of a mission house is the most classic example of the control over behavior of a member I have ever seen, I had to read that posting several times because I just couldn’t believe that someone who can articulate such a classic case of manipulation could ever be so naïve as to continue to follow such a destructive path and fall for living within a cult like environment.
    [dennis] Actually, he said he was thrown out of the house for not doing his jobs in the house. A little problem here–cults try to keep people from leaving, but in this story the person is turned out! Doesn’t really fit at all does it. If you’re saying a group of guys can’t tell someone to leave when they mess up the house and won’t do anything to help clean, well, I disagree.

    [trinket says]
    6.(Members of the cult tend to be or are grouped together in living quarters with limited privacy.) Uhm, mission houses…need I say more?
    [dennis] this isn’t one of singer’s signs, but ministry houses are just as private as any dorm or rooming house that everyone else lives in on campus. No surveilance. They do agree to adhere to moral and behavioral standards (including doing their house jobs, like the dishes, etc.) and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    [trinket says]
    7.(Cults tend to limit the amount of sleep members get.) Okay so maybe this one isn’t as in your face obvious as some of the other’s, but when you add up the total amount of times you find yourself in the many meetings held throughout a week, something is being given up somewhere along the line, be it school, a job, home life or sleep.
    [dennis] Way off. Singer is talking about sleep deprivation used in cult groups when brainwashing. It’s extreme retreats where you aren’t allowed to sleep in order to weaken your critical faculties. People at Xenos sleep as much as anyone else in town.

    [trinket says]
    8.(The cult tends to have a double set of ethics.) Can we say, BINGO! How many times have we all read here that such and such isn’t church policy, and yet such and such is and or has taken place? How many times or how many people who display or report the same problems repeatedly does it take before you realize, hey, this is a genuine problem? Ever heard the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” theory? Well there it is, in all it’s glorious living color.

    [dennis] No, because in the first place, Singer is talking about the way cults actually encourage lying to outsiders, stealing, etc. That never happens at Xenos. We teach people to be honest with all people, not just those inside the group.

    On the other hand, to say that members of a church have done something that contradicts what the church teaches –that is true of EVERY CHURCH IN EXISTENCE. There is no way to preven this (unless you want to be domineering and controlling, which would make you guilty under an earlier point). I believe churches are responsible for what they teach, and if there is a violation of that, they are responsible to take action to end the violation–the very thing we do, and we’re being criticized for that.

    [trinket says]
    9.(The cult has basically only two purposes, recruiting new members and fund-raising.) Now I will not comment on the fund raising part, because I have been away from Xenos for 17 years so I simply do not know about their fund-raising efforts. But I do know of the proselytizing efforts and where they stand on that issue.
    [dennis] Singer also fairly points out that legitimate groups also recruit, which should be obvious. Most churches want to grow. Jesus taught that we should reach out to those outside the church. However Singer also shows the deceptive and manipulative practices used by cults, and none of those descriptions fit Xenos.

    Fund raising is also an interesting point to consider. Xenos has no rules for giving except for leaders. Most churches require tithing for membership. Singer and Hassan point out that cult groups never really engage in altruistic ministry with their funds, but only a tiny bit of window-dressing. Xenos gives nearly a third of our funds every year (about $2 million) into ministry to the poor and community development. Xenos has been named as one of the leading churches in America for ministry to the poor and altruistic giving (for instance winning the “Mustard Seed” award from world vision as the most outstanding community development ministry in the country that year)

    [trinket says]
    10.(The cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. They are selective about who can join.) Now on this one, I don’t see the entire picture as it was written, but, I do see and have seen first hand the cliquish nature of the exclusivity of being in the “in groups”, apparently so did the naïve individual who wrote here about how he left and tried to come back and was kept at arm’s link and treated as an outsider until he proved himself “worthy” enough to be recognized. Classic case of manipulation!
    [dennis] No. Our meetings are open to the public, and totally unlike cults, WE DON’T EVEN HAVE MEMBERSHIP! People hang around here if they want to, and leave if they want to. Only people who have a history of serious moral sin or attacking of other people in the group would be excluded as mentioned in an earlier post.

    [trinket says]
    11.(The cult promises that joining it will change you, your life, your outlook on life. That it will SAVE you.) Of course they call it coming to Christ…but don’t ever question them about their ethics, doctrine or policies, because you will be quick to hear about doubting Thomas, Judas and how you will need counseling to work through your issues or to improve your poor walk with the Lord.
    [dennis] Nonsense. In fact, singer fairly says that in legitimate groups, the devotion is to God, and salvation comes from God. As even trinket points out, that is also what Xenos teaches. Xenos fully recognized the legitimacy of other churches, and has never claimed or believed we are the only ones. Joining Xenos cannot save anyone, and everyone here knows that.

    Questioning and challenging leaders’ views at Xenos is so commonplace we actually have a time at every meeting–even sunday mornings–where anyone in the audience can raise their hand and say whatever they want. Questioning is encouraged here more than any church I know.

    [trinket says]
    I read this somewhere once, and I am just curious here, does anyone else see what I see in this quote? “A healthy church will deal with criticism or questions regarding its point of view openly, honestly, and patiently. (Some churches can be cult-like in their rigidity and defensiveness without being full-blown cults.) Cults, on the other hand, are defensive, evasive, or belligerent to an extreme when reasonable questions are raised. They foster an atmosphere of spiritual through legalism and group intimidation.”
    [dennis] That’s a good description of cults. A terrible description of Xenos. Xenos is probably one of the least legalistic churches around.

    [trinket says]
    I suppose to some people they will look upon remarks from Xenos as being open and patient. But what I have witnessed here in this ongoing thread is, arrogance, and evasiveness when told to take your concerns to other leaders or elders…defensiveness and even rigidity in the answers given.
    [dennis] I am going to defend our reputation, and there is nothing wrong with that. Isn’t it a little inconsistent to say that Xenos leaders have to be open to criticism, but you, as a critic don’t have to be open to any rejoinder? If I disagree with what’s being said, that’s dismissive. But it seems postings here can smash Xenos’ reputation from one end to the other, and that’s just healthy ventilating. If people want to argue a point, they should not only be willing to dish out arguments, but to take rebuttal as well. By listing out twenty danming accusations against xenos, and then saying if anyone disagrees or argues back they’re being defensive or dismissive, you insulate yourself from refutation. that’s called special pleading.

  125. It does seem kind of unfair to hold Dennis to higher expectations. That does seem to be happening here. Also, there seems to be an air of almost expecting him not to strongly defend his church. That seems odd to me. I would rather have a minister who can stand up for himself and the church than one who is too agreeable. For that matter, he has obviously looked into most of the personal experiences that people have had there. He does validate what he can, and not the rest. (He’s answered my questions, and yes, pointed out where my thinking was incorrect. Which I have no issue with!!)Its unfair to expect him to agree to something he can’t validate. From what I have seen, he seems well balanced in his defenses, but also agreeing to issues that he know happened. He has taken some pretty extreme criticisim (true or not) and done well with it. If I were in his place, I would not have been so nice. I think the very fact he is posting here is significant in suggesting that he does not have the secretive tendancies of a cult leader. Not to mention, when there is wrong going on or was, cult leaders won’t admit to such things. But Dennis has agreed on some issues people have or things that have happened. Also, the fact people can come and go in that church says that Xenos is not a cult. And lastly, no where does Dennis suggest Xenos has supreme authority or is God, or that he has supreme authority or is God. He recognizes other churches and leaders and shows respect. Cults do not do that. They claim to have special knowledge and that their leader is holy – or at the least has recieved personal knowledge.

    I am not saying any pain people have gone through is not important. But, please, give Dennis a bit of a break. Let’s try to keep this civil and have both parties respect each other. Let’s admit when we may be wrong.

    Trinket, on a personal note, I do wish you and yours the best. But putting the smackdown on Xenos will not cure your issues. It may help for a while, but it won’t solve them. Seek out God and His healing. I only tell you this, because I have done the same things. In the end, its about God and our relationship with HIM!! Seek that, and I know your anger will fade away.

  126. It doesn’t matter to me what else has been said, I feel like I do and that’s that. Nothing or no one can ever say or do anything that will change my mind about what I have seen and felt from Xenos. I have my opinions, which I am entitled to, just as anyone else is entitled to theirs. I see Xenos the way I see Xenos, and I’m sorry if that upsets a few, all I can say to that is what was said to me ….get over it.

    Linda, thank you for taking the time for your messages, you are very sweet to have included them please know they are appreciated. However, I do not consider my feelings from the experiences I lived through from my involvement with Xenos as wrong. They are deferring opinions and feelings, but just because they are, it doesn’t invalidate them or make them wrong for me.

    As I have said at the close of several posts here, Brightest Blessings to all, I wish you all joy and happiness.

  127. Okay after reading for a bit, I have decided to comment. Linda I feel that it is not in good character to correct a woman in pain and tell her not to “slam” the fellowship, however the pain that was endured by Trinket is very real and devastating to say the least. She is not even putting the so-called smack down on the church; she is simply doing some therapeutic writing so that she can look to the future with new hope. She has a heavy heart and would like some resolution to the years of remaining in the shadows with this pain that has been weighing at her heart. It is something that people do everyday, some exercise, paint, go to counseling, and some confront their pain and pasts, and in this case Trinket’s pain came from this church. So in her defense and support let her vent, she is not asking anything of anyone, she is not trying to stir things up to get a reaction, she is simply trying to resolve her own pain and devastation. Trinket hang in there and remember that in times like these you always have the ones who love you to fall back on. Do not be disappointed or let any of the insensitivity to ruin the healing process that you are going through. Remember that there is always a silver lining to every cloud, no matter how dark it is or may become.

    Love to all,
    Mama’s Little sunshine

  128. I’m a former member of Xenos, actually I got kicked out and shunned about 2 years ago (my senior year of high school). Before that I had been a member for 6 years. I started attending Xenos in middle school, being highly involved in cell groups, blow out (the middle school version of CT. Loving it and making great friends I was on a “high”. Moving from high school to middle school was of course going to be a transition, but I had another transition to make, going from Cell Groups/Blow Out to High School Group. Luckily my best friends from school also attended the same homechurch I did, it was great that I had someone there who was going through the same transition. Later, most of our friends, Best Friends became involved in our homechurch. Sophmore year I got baptized, during the High School group that met Sunday nights, after the teaching I would go outside along with everyone, on the deck- give my testimony- then get dunked in a dunk tank. Things were still going great, I loved Xenos and it was the best thing, I thoguht, would ever happen to me becuase I felt “fulfilled and Happy”. It was also about sophmore year when my friends and I all had doubts and questions about leaving, Xenos’s intentions, their way of teaching, and control. Some of our families strongly disagreed with us being so heavily involved with Xenos, Some didn’t pay attention, SOme parents were involved in the church. At homechurch couples were discouraged to sit by one another becuase the “leaders” thought it would be a distraction not only for the 2 in the relationship (which i guess the leaders thought would be groping e/o and making out during the teaching, when the most that would happen would be holding hands or an arm around anothers (and nothing is wrong with that), but also the other students (becuase we all know it’s so out of the ordinarty for a couple (high school or not) to hold hands. I also know during high school that my grades started to drop- not failing but def. and noticably what they should’ve and could’ve been. My dad of course noticed this and started saying i Couldn’t go to highschool group or homechurch unless i got my grades up (i was mad at the time- but now looking back, who could’ve blammed him- what parent doesn’t want his kids to do their best in school- and of course some of my time was being taken by Xenos activity). Now im not saying that Xenos made me do bad in school- my grades were up to me- but I remember confiding in a leader and the advice was school is not everyting, who cares if you do poorly- the important thing is your walk with god, and if your dad can’t see that he doesn’t know the right way of the lord, and then encouraged me to evangilize to my dad and encourage him to come to xenos. SO because my dad wanted me to do well in school, he doesn’t know the way of the lord. I also remember meeting with a leader who became my and 2 of my friends “disciple” we would meet with this person 1 time a week, study and read the bible, talk about life, problems, but esp. sexual sin- even in middle school and esp. in high school this was the most pressed issue. Asked to keep eachother accoutable, and tell our discipler ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. we read books and did it all. Later as i became an upperclassman in school and in the church, we were encouraged to “adopt” an underclassmen, and to become their “disciples” All of us were pushed in to doing this, then i felt like i wanted to, but also now that im out of the church and can look at my experience with a clear mind, i know i felt pressured to do so, or i would be looked upon as a non growing christian, which is what of course they want you to always be. (nothing wrong with that- just how i feel). Of course with growing up- i became more mature, confident in myself and able to criticly think about who i want to be, what direction i want my life to go, etc. Because of this I started questioning the church, and started living MY LIFE -as a result, i strengthened many friendships, lost some of my best friendships, and got questioned by the church. School issues and Parent issues we’re great- i was So HAPPY- and truly happy! During the last months of highschool, i decided to get involved in a serious relationship with a guy- which led to other things, the church felt was wrong.

    i would like to let everyone know- there was not 1 second of my life even today where i regreted my decision. and this moment in my life I’m happier then i’ve ever been.

    One of my best friends in school and who is involved still to this day, with the church was told (by me, with my trust to keep such a private thing a secret) turned right around and told her discipler (a college leader in our HC ) about my “sin”. Later all that it turned into was a domino effect of gossip and lies. The college leader told every college leader in my HC, guys included, then to the “adult leaders ” (if they really live up to that title) then to the whole High School Group ( just the leaders). All this happened without my knowledge, right under my nose). I later found out that my personal decisions were the talk of the whole church. weeks later with me still not knowing that EVERYONE knew, i was confronted by a college leader ( my new discipler), who started crying saying how my decision affected the whole church and how i was harming every single person in it, then started to curse at me, all this and im just sitting there thinking, 1- im really glad i had such a great friend who would go behind my back (sarcasim) and 2- it makes no sense that im hurting the church 3- why is she cussing at me, this is really not appropriate, yet along no one’s business but my own.
    I later was told that the only way to stay in the church at all, (homechurch and high school group) was if i were to sit on one side of a table, with all the leaders of my homechurch (college and adult) and confess my “sin” and sayig how sorry i was that i hurt everyone and the church, then letting each one of them tell me their thoughts on how i did wrong and how i need to stop. In my mind i had done nothing wrong- and still stand 100% behind what i did and how i handled this situation. after this situation took place, my best friend of 7 years ( who was heavily invovled with the church and still is) decided that we can’t be friends anymore and wants nothing to do with me- i had lost my best friends- all to a church- for any high school student, it would be tramatizing- but i stood strong, and luckily had 2 REAL friends that stood behind during the whole thing, who i am still close with to this day. I decided to leave- on my own terms,- i dicussed with leaders saying my buisness (esp on that level) is my buisness- and has nothing to do with anyone but me. I told them i liked going to HC and high school group and have made wonderful friendships with many people, and it would sadden me to leave all that, but i also wanted ABSOLUTLY NOTHING TO DO with that church after the way they handled my situation.
    This is only my experiences- I’m not here to start fights, or a war against xenos- i gained so much went i went there- and loved every moment of it- but when i raised questions about having individual beliefs and not theirs i was questioned, and looked down upon.
    take from this what you want. Just felt like sharing.

    i remember- and think it’s important to let people know about a weird situation that has happened more than once with a certain high school homechurch in xenos- a girl in our homechurch lived on a farm- and had chickens- our homechurch tried to make in a homechurch event every year- where we would go to this farm and kill the chickens. Now i think back on this situation and think how sick and twisted this is- and how it resembles a sacrifice in a way.

  129. Finally Free,

    Leaving such a group can be very difficult. The hardest choice it seems is to actually make the decision. The love bombing that goes on is so seductive and attractive and it feels safe and warm and you feel like you are loved like never before in your life, you don’t want to have to give that up. But usually when someone is questioning the very thought of leaving it is because they discover there are strings attached to that “agape” or “unconditional love”. You suddenly find out that there isn’t that unconditional love that has been talked about almost non-stop since you met these people. What a let down when that realization comes to light. You feel betrayed and sometimes even used when you find out there is a price to pay for not being a perfect clone like replica.

    Individuality isn’t encouraged in groups such as Xenos. They may say it is, but look even here and see what several people have said about times when they expressed their individual beliefs or their individual choices outside of the church. They have felt ostracized or singled out through manipulation that comes in forms that seem tailored to the individual. For example, the one person being thrown out of the mission house for not doing chores…the one thing this person wanted and desired most was to feel like they belonged somewhere…throw the person out, take away that security make them feel they have hit rock bottom so when they return begging to belong again they are more willing to do whatever it takes to fit in. There are many ways to manipulate a person all it takes is someone who has a good sense of zeroing in on the triggers…(someone who is an artful observer of people) …triggers, meaning, what the manipulated person wants most. Which isn’t all that hard to figure out in a church setting, mainly because most new people just starting there have been so love bombed they feel the need to reciprocate and share about their life, their struggles and what their hopes and goals are in life.

    Talking with people does help, so you’re coming here and talking about it is a good step in recovering from what I call religious abuse that you might be feeling. It is hard, believe me I know. I’ve been there and in part I am still there even after 17 years. Sometimes I wonder how long it takes to completely heal and if it’s connected to the amount of trauma one was put through or not. But in that 17 years I have read, studied, gotten out to engage in positive activities, developed hobbies, new relationships, reconnected with family and friends that I was encouraged to leave behind because I was told they weren’t healthy to my Christian walk. I have not allowed myself to feel isolated ever again, therefore avoiding the loneliness a lot of people go through upon leaving such a sect. I learned to make my own decisions and listen to my inner voice when confronted with new situations. And most importantly I learned not to beat myself up over the little things, the mistakes you might make along life’s path. I learned to realize they are a part of life and that they aren’t something that happened because I wasn’t supposedly right with God.

    I like what one other writer here had to say about the God she believes in, she believes in the God that believes in her. I found that to be a very prolific statement, one that comes from feeling judged by others.

    Anyway, I do hope all of the best life offers and brings your way, and I hope now you WILL live in the light and not the dark….a favorite thing that was said to me repeatedly at Xenos.

  130. I would like to offer my support to “Trinket” and “Concerned”: I understand that you don’t just “get over it” when your child has been damaged by abuse, religious or otherwise. My own damaged-by- Xenos child has spent years condemning me to the prayer group because of my anti-Xenos, and therefore “non-Christian” attitudes. I will never “get over” this, the wall that was created by Xenos between this child and me. It breaks my heart.

    I guess if I don’t like it when my underage child is brainwashed by a bunch of control freaks preoccupied with “discipline” and sexual sin (and USING religion to manipulate people), that that makes me “anti-Christian.” Yes, I don’t feel very receptive to so-called “Christianity”, under these circumstances. In fact, if this is what “Christians” are like, they can pretty much stay away from me.

    Emotionally needy people will drink poisoned Kool-Aid. And the ones who offer the Kool-Aid are not Christian; they’re predators. Tax-exempt predators.

    I would also like to commend “Finally Free” for having the courage, at such a young age and under such powerful manipulative circumstances, to think for yourself and to listen to your own inner voice and not to what the strangers with candy were telling you. No one has the right to tell you what to think OR what to believe, and you are capable of coming up with your own definition of “sexual sin.”

    Trinket, in one of your posts you mentioned “a local watch group with a file on Xenos, a support group with seventy-five active members and several hundred inactive members, all of which had been former members of Xenos.” Can you post contact information for this organization?

  131. I’m afraid the local number I had was from years ago and I have no idea what it was at this point. But here is a link that might be helpful to you in finding help locally. http://www.cultinformationservice.org/

    I wish I could be more help then that, but like I said, it has been a really long time, and I honestly thought I was done with all of this until I started a new friendship with a minister that brought all of this up once again. Through his help I was able to see that no it wasn’t yet over for me and he has been extremely encouraging to me on what I have had to say here.

  132. Thanks, Trinket. I will check that out. In the meantime, my deepest hope is that my child will somehow see the hypocrisy, manipulation, and exploitation for what it is and somehow get the idea to leave this cult.

  133. Inquisitor,

    You are most welcome, I just hope it helps…Thanks so much for sharing about your daughter that is painful what you described. It does however make me wonder…. why target minor children without their parents? Do you think it might be because their young minds are still very much in the naïve stages of developing and can be more susceptible to pressure tactics and manipulation?

    I saw a lot of addictive personality types as well during my time with Xenos. People who were once drug addicts or alcoholics. It was like they were replacing one addiction for another. Much like what I read from a book by Leo Booth called When God Becomes A Drug.

    Religious addiction can be just as destructive as any other addiction. It’s just instead of drugs gambling or alcohol to hide behind they are using religion in ways to avoid the responsibility in dealing with the problems in their life. Instead of working and using problem solving skills they are relying on some sort of magical fix…magical thinking that God will fix them through prayer all the while still indulging in their addictive behaviors.

    Now before this gets me slammed with people saying that just because they pray or believe in God that I am accusing them of having a religious addiction, I am NOT saying that at all!!!! I am just saying that I saw a lot of people at Xenos and in other churches too who have had past addictive problems and that some of them still display addictive behaviors, only now they are using religion instead of controlled substances. I do NOT believe that everyone who is a believer in Christ has an addictive personality. However, I do believe that these types of people as well as young underage children have something in common…they each have minds in similar stages of development. The young having not fully developed their critical thinking skills and the addict having a damaged way of critical thinking, thus making each susceptible to manipulation and pressure.

    If you have yet to develop critical thinking skills or they are damaged in some way, then you lack the ability to question or examine what you are taught, if you cannot doubt or challenge authority, you are a prime candidate for being manipulated, victimized or abused.

    In places such as Xenos there is so much pressure to believe what they teach that for people who do try to utilize their critical thinking skills we are told that faith should be unconditional obedience, and if we continue to question or challenge anything being taught or said we are told that there is evil or the devil working in our lives that is causing doubt. For a child that is like saying there is a monster under the bed.

    Booth commented that people who are religious addicts tend to see things in black and white. But I feel when we also look at young minds, minor children, we also see the same thing in a lot of cases. “can I go here or there?” they might ask of a parent and the parent will answer, “Maybe.” Now usually that maybe will be followed with “Depending on if your weekly chores or homework is done.” But more often than not what the child hears is a yes or no answer, therefore they see things simplistically, or black and white. “No I can’t go because I am having all these restrictions or conditions placed on me.” Their minds have yet to develop critical thinking.

    That very simplistic or black and white thinking is a major symptom of those with religious addictions. Everything is seen in terms of good or evil/bad, right or wrong, saved or sinner….black and white. There are no gray areas, because gray areas are too ambiguous or confusing for them. Gray areas are those questions or challenges that they simply cannot cope with. If you are unable to cope with these gray areas, with complexities, or the many nuances of life, your life is likely to feel forever out of control. People who think only in terms of black or white have difficulty making decisions, so the addict is always turning to a drink/drug or in the case of religious addiction a leader to help them find their way (answers). They can become frantic or even fearful in trying to fit a difficult issue into a neat, tidy little boxed up solution, and it just doesn’t work, making them feel out of control. They are forever at the mercy of those who will give them the simple, black-or-white answer, thus making them prime targets for manipulation.

    Booth wrote, “Spiritually, thinking in terms of such absolutes paralyzes you, for people who think this way are always waiting for the right answer — the clear signal, the burning bush. You sit and wait for the solution that fits your simplistic dogma, even though the answer is often right in front of you. Black-and-white thinking prevents you from being able to find effective solutions to problems and to see when you are being abused.

    You limit and stunt your life by rejecting anyone or anything that does not fit into your narrow frame of reference. You become abusive of others who do not share your views because difference, variety, and change all fall into the ambiguous gray areas, with which you cannot cope. Such shades of gray become the uncontrollable elements in life that Nakken says all addicts are trying to master. You increase your pain, he says, by becoming more rigid, harsh, and dogmatic the more you are confronted with situations that fall outside your simplistic views.”

    I see children having some of those same simplistic views as the religious addict, simply because they have yet to fully develop their minds and thinking skills. And I am sure that a young unyet molded mind is much easier to manipulate than that of a full grown “consenting” adult. Children do have a more simplistic view to life than a grown adult, we as parents have almost always made the major decisions for them, we almost have to because they have to be taught…when an outside influence enters their life and is making outings fun, or like the analogy of the stranger with candy comes along…(metaphorically speaking of course) children can be led down a garden path right into the arms of manipulators. No amount of “stranger-danger” teachings or looking out for the big bad wolf is going to help us when that big bad wolf comes wearing “the lamb of God’s” clothing.”

  134. It seems to me that whenever and wherever people gather, especially the number involved at a Xenos, or a Vineyard, or Grace Brethern, there are going to be issues. All kinds of people are attracted, from all walks of life and people with addictive personalities are everywhere. I see them at churches, they exist in my family, among my peer group, even in the couple of prefoessional organizations I belong to. They are everywhere.

    I commend Dennis for his humble reply. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t even give this blog the time of day. Trinket, my heart goes out to you, but look ahead, move forward…

  135. There is an online group for people who were once members of Xenos, it’s a support group for people who are no longer members…if anyone would like the link, please contact me at [email protected]

  136. Trinket—

    I agree 100% with your analysis of what makes people susceptible to being manipulated into a cult.

    Minor children are targeted because they are easily influenced. The parents are characterized as sinners because that weakens the parents’ control and strengthens the cult’s control. Once the parents are neutralized, the cult steps in to be the new “family” and the real parents, unless they convert, are history. Then we have a “broken family,” but one that is broken by religion.

    My theories about what makes people susceptible to the love bombing, manipulation, and social engineering of cult recruitment are:

    1. Problems in the family of origin or some kind of recent major life change like moving or getting out of school. These are problems that everyone has. Exploiting a person’s vulnerabilities is predatory.

    2. Sex: It is natural to be afraid of sex. After all, there can be consequences like HPV, AIDs, STDs, unplanned pregnancy, broken hearts, humiliation, disapproval, exploitation, infidelity— the list goes on. But, if you can control a person’s sex life (by guilting them and telling them whom they can date or marry, how they are obligated, what they can do as consenting adults, issuing definitions of “sexual sin”, telling them whether they can use birth control or have reproductive freedom or whatever), then you can control the person. And that’s what this is all about— control. Using “religion” to get control— so that you can manipulate your husband, wife, children, parents, or whomever to act in the way that “God” (i.e., the person doing the controlling) wants them to act.

    3. Authoritarian upbringing: If a child has been raised in a totalitarian environment, a “Do this because I said so” kind of milieu, then he has probably never been allowed to think for himself at all, and already has the perception that he is not allowed to do so. Every act has required permission, not thinking, as you were saying. No gray areas. Just “yes” or “no.” Black or white. No “maybe,” no gray. Such a person is already primed for blind obedience. Severe dualism, another characteristic of cults. Us (the good) vs. them (the evil non-Christians). Just as Xenos is against relativism and Postmodernism, both very gray and nondualistic.

    4. Fear: If bad things happened in someone’s life, he/she wants control. I think that sometimes people think that if a person proclaims himself to be “Christian” that he is automatically to be trusted and will consequently not ever do anything bad to you. Therefore, if you lock yourself into the closed society of a cult, you will be safe. No more bad things will happen. Or, it can be fear of leaving the group, especially if phobias about leaving have been instilled in the person’s mind, or if they expect to be shunned or to be totally alone or to have a nervous breakdown or to lose all their friends or to be publicly “disciplined” or to go to hell if they leave.

    5. Addiction and codependence: I agree totally with what you were saying about religious addiction and I think codependence figures into all of this somehow. Maybe the person was codependent with someone and transferred that codependence to the cult. Addiction stunts a person’s growth. For example, if someone starts using drugs at age 15, then they never deal with emotional issues, because the drug blunts the pain of all emotion. Therefore, the person is frozen at the emotional level of a 15-year-old. They might be 30, but if all of their emotions have been frozen for 15 years, they then have the emotional level of a 15-year-old at age 30. This could be true about emotion or it could be true about functioning independently in a non-cult environment.

    6. Rebellion: Everyone reaches a point when they have to strike out on their own; in other words, a point where they have to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and the decisions they make, and maybe it might even be necessary to leave home in order to do this. Many times young people are afraid to stand up and say they are leaving home, especially if their parents are authoritarian and they have been conditioned to obey. So here comes a cult that even offers them a place to live when they leave home. At that point, being “born again” becomes easier than standing up and “growing up,” because the leaving feels like it is sanctioned by God.

    7. Low self-esteem and a desire for approval: Frequently true of middle school or high school age people and even college students. Makes them easy to manipulate. Also, it makes you feel superior if you can see yourself as a member of the “elite” and look down on everyone else who is a “non-Christian”.

    8. Having a desire to improve the world: Many good and very bright people sincerely want to help others and make the world better. That is commendable, but I truly hate to see this goodness exploited by cult leaders who are looking for smart hardworking leaders who will work long hours for many years to “bring many people to the Lord,” i.e., recruit more members and make the leaders richer and more powerful.

  137. I thought I’d put my 2 cents in.

    Speaking your anger will not free you from this pain. Forgiveness will. In comparable situations it took me a long time to forgive. Sometimes when new things surface or old things resurface I have to go through a similar process again. I have received much healing from this, not complete but substantial. I pray that you all are able to experience this too.

    I pray for those affected by the events described on this blog, that you will be healed and set free. God has the ability to do this. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

    Maybe you feel like you’ve been hurt too terribly? The disciples asked Jesus this question in Matthew 18:21 = “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus’ answer is astonishing in Matthew 18:22 = “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

    Jesus was hurt by and for all the hurts we’ve experienced, we’ve transgressed and more. How did he react? Luke 23:32-34 = “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them…’” He interceded on our behalf. And now God’s forgiveness is tangible!

    If you can’t forgive maybe there is a deeper issue. Perhaps you’ve never experienced the freedom of the forgiveness Jesus Christ’s death applies to one’s life? Just something to ponder…

    1. If you haven’t… this is where to start! “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do.” (Acts 13:38-39) This is the freedom you’ve been searching for. It doesn’t matter in the end what church you belong to… but your heart attitude towards God and whether or not you’ve accepted his forgiveness matters immeasurably.

    2. If you have… Why have you let yourself become so bitter? It can and will only ruin your life and perhaps already has to some extent. Don’t let it continue!

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-4)

    I only write because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced festering wounds. I’ve nurtured them… prayed to God to release me from them… sought council for them… read the Bible… tried letting them go… put the smack down. In the end none of that worked! Nothing will set you free until you personally decide = Enough is Enough! It’s time to Forgive! Maybe not forget BUT Forgive none-the-less!

    “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

    -Kris

    PS I know some of you may have an aversion to the Bible… but isn’t that where we get the knowledge of God and his will both for his church and each of us individually? I ask you, will you only take man’s (your) opinion or do you want God’s? Which really matters in the end?

    PSS Sorry this is long, but there’s so much to say on this topic.

    May God Bless You Richly

  138. Kris,
    With all due respect, I believe that is exactly what we are doing, saying enough is enough at long last. The problem many here seem to have is that not everyone has that warm fuzzy feeling where Xenos is concerned, instead we have that blood running cold spine curling shiver that comes from feeling that something is really wrong. I got that feeling this afternoon when I was reading about I.C.C. (The International Church of Christ) not to be confused with the United Church of Christ…and what I read mirrored so many of things I saw and went through while attending Xenos, and what I have read here from other members who have shared those same issues.

    I do not have a speck in my eye, nor do I wear rose colored glasses. What I do have is a different opinion and out look on what Xenos is like, which is something I am allowed to have.

    Thank you for all your efforts in your post and the well meaning and caring message in it…

    Inquisitor—Great Post! I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Brightest Blessings

  139. …and with all due respect, put this behind you and use your energies and talents for something else. You are obviously intelliegent and have great insights, but this forum has been turned into your own personal medium to discredit a church that you have little or no idea about how it is now, 15+ years later. The church is huge, 5,000 plus I believe now and with that number of people, the odds of issues increase – why, because we’re dealing with people.

    I’ve been attending Xenos for over 5 years now and like many in the previous posts, I have had some of my own conflicts. There were areas I didn’t agree with the home church leaders, still don’t and I stand my ground with them. I’m not ostracized, riduclued or anything of the like. My views are respected and no one tries to persuade me otherwise.

    I have witnessed a few in my little sphere of the church who have way too much zeal and do “love bomb” They think Dennis to be the beginning and the end of everything, but I feel their problems are that their devotion to be sadly misdirected, and that they are needy, as described in an earlier post. Good, bad, or indifferent, these types are everywhere, at the Vineyard, main-line churches. I see them at my work, but we call them “brown-nosers” here, people that need constant affirmation, with no back-bone.

  140. “but this forum has been turned into your own personal medium”

    I see, so what you are saying is, since I have a different opinion that doesn’t line up with the lucky ones who have had a positive experience with Xenos that I am turning this into a personal forum and I should just go away so those who have that warm fuzzy for Xenos can….hmmmm interesting concept.

  141. Kris—-

    You have given the typical Xenos response to challenge: scripture that has been cherry-picked to support your own opinion, followed by intimations of the mental deficiency or “sinfulness” of the challenger (your accusations of my “aversion to the Bible”). The next step after that is: “I’m just trying to be a good Christian, but these godless sinners keep persecuting and victimizing me.” I’m sure that works for you with a lot of people, but not this one. You are speaking to someone here who, thanks to Xenos, has been proselytized to by my own child.

    Do not give me the “Do not judge, lest you be judged” quote when that is EXACTLY what YOU are doing.

    If I am “healed and set free,” to use your Bible-thumping terminology, it will be on my terms, through the integrity of my own mind, not because someone like you threw some Jesus quotes at me. What I and my family need to be “healed and set free” of is Xenos.

    And “blessings” to you too….

  142. “but this forum has been turned into your own personal medium”

    “I see, so what you are saying is, since I have a different opinion that doesn’t line up with the lucky ones who have had a positive experience with Xenos that I am turning this into a personal forum and I should just go away so those who have that warm fuzzy for Xenos can….hmmmm interesting concept.”
    ******************************************************

    Trinket,

    No, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that I am very sorry that you and your family have hurt the way you all have over what happened years ago with Xenos. Nothing can change that history, no way you can reclaim that lost time, as well as the other losses. I’m also not saying that Xenos was innocent,either, especially your home church. It seems that Dennis took some responsibility for what happened.

    I’m also saying that life is too short to allow the past to consume so much of your mind, energy, and time. It’s not healthy. I’m not minimizing what happened to you and your family at all by saying any of this.

    I’m also speaking from personal experience, a horrible experience I had years ago in my old church, long before coming to Xenos. In short, I was beat-up, raped, and then robbed by a man I briefly dated, who attended the same church I did. I pressed charges, but there was not enough evidence, which is another story in intself.

    When I talked to my pastor about all of this, he chose to sweep it under the rug, instead of dealing with it. Bottom-line, he didn’t want the perception of the church tainted in any way. I wanted to stay involved with my church, but I couldn’t with this guy hanging around. It broke my heart to leave, it broke my heart even more because my pastor, who I thought was so caring would not do anything. Three years later, the very same thing happened to another female in the church, THEN the pastor woke up.

    For about 5 years, I nursed all of this and let it taint my life. You have to work through it, that’s for sure, but there is a time to let go. I can’t erase what happened to me, I can’t reclaim the lost years, I can’t recover the money stolen from me. But once I let go and moved on, somehow the bad experience and this bad guy who did these things lost all of their control of my mind and energy. That’s what I’m trying to say to you.

  143. I am truly very sorry that all of that happened to you, no one should go through anything like that… and I commend youn on your strength and your faith.

    The point that I feel that is being missed here in what I have had to say is not that I am not so much failing to “get over it” or move on, get past or whatever other term anyone wants to use about what happened 17 years ago or not….try not to focus so much on that as what is being said by newly exiting members….The point is is that there are many of us who see a bigger, broader picture of Xenos. Putting aside the issues of my personal past with Xenos, I still would see an issue of cultic like behavior there.

    Reading the issues of what other’s have shared here, and again, setting aside my own past with them… and looking at what experts define as a cult or cultic like behavior, Xenos fits the picture of what they (the experts) have said.

    Yesterday I mentioned comparing Xenos with The I.C.C. and how they mirror each other, up to and including some of their shared terminology, it is frightening to try to comprehend that in a few years I will have to face possibly teaching my future grandchildren about not taking candy from strangers, but I feel like I should be saying, “no, you can’t talk to that person, they go to church.” All because there are churches out there such as the I.C.C. and Xenos who are going into middle schools, high schools and collage campuses and recruiting with such tactics as described by experts as classic cult like manipulation and behavior.

  144. I did not read all of these posts but I wonder if at Xenos, you have to pay your tithe to vote for officers, such as at the New Life Church in CO Springs, where Ted Haggard just stepped down?

  145. Xenos doesn’t require a “tithe” per se. They do have a Fiscal Responsibility Team that anyone who pledges 5% or more per year may be involved in. This team has an annual budget retreat where the proposed budget for the upcoming year is presented and members of this team vote on it.

    I have attended or belonged to a few churches in my past that really push giving and tithing, but in the years I have attened Xenos, I have never once felt pressure to give more than I can, never felt quilted into it.

    The church presents annual AUDITED financial statements. The budget, receipts and expenditures are open record there, disclosure is not a problem and never has been to my knowledge. The pastors are fairly compensated and do not live extravigant lifestyles.

    I am an accountant by profession and can honestly say that Xenos is a giving church and in all ways ethical and good stewards in relation to their financial reporting.

  146. For those who have left Xenos and looking for a support group here is the link I mentioned for an online support group. It is for people who have left and are no longer a member of Xenos. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xenos_survivors_group/

    I started the group myself after seeing and feeling a need for such a place for other’s who are reading along and have contacted me and expressed a reluctance to post here themselves, but have thanked me for speaking out as I have.

    I understand how many of them feel about their reluctance, at least in a support group setting, we may all help each other face and overcome our hurt and hopefully be able to build some lasting friendships without feeling like we are on display or even attacked for holding our beliefs about the issues we left the church over in the first place.

    I want to thank the list owner for allowing some of us to have a voice here, even though what we have had to say didn’t necessarily conform to your own feelings about Xenos. Thank you for that opportunity.

    Trinket

  147. I came upon this page and I must admit that I started reading with a bit of trepidation. It’s been 20 years since I left Xenos and probably about six years since I talked to anybody I knew in the church. The reasons I left are numerous and similar to some of the reasons mentioned here by other people. I wouldn’t call Xenos a cult since I think that term is bandied about too casually since I don’t think the elders set out to control the members of the church. However I do think that more than a few of the home church leaders try to exert an unhealthy control over the members of the home church. I saw it in the home church I was a member of during 1984-1986. Sadly any attempts to talk to the leadership about problems in a particular home church elicited a response similar to the one Dennis has made here. The elders marginalize the person making the claim and sweep it under the rug.

    In my case I knew somebody who had been rather seriously hurt in a prank instigated by the leaders of our home church and when I went to talk to one of the leaders I was told I had a “love problem” and “didn’t understand love”. I was given some verses to study and dismissed. It was the final straw for me and I left shortly afterwards.

    A few years later a friend of mine, knowing how badly hurt I had been by my experience, arranged for me to meet one of the leaders of my former home church. He didn’t have much to say to me when we met, allowing me to talk about what was bothering me. After a while he pulled a piece of paper out of his notebook. wrote the name of several books on it and suggested that I read the books. He then left the room and that was the last I ever saw of him.

    I remember attending a Workers meeting where Dennis explained that Columbus was “fished out” and that the church was going to have to look outside of Columbus for additional growth opportunities. By the leadership’s estimate by 1986 Xenos had “touched” over 70,000 people in Columbus and that most of them had not found a home in Xenos for one reason or another. I’m sure that many of them didn’t because they weren’t ready to make a commitment to Jesus or a church that was as different as Xenos is. But I’m betting that more than a few of them have been burned by Xenos. It’s not hard to find bitter ex-Xenos people. Many of them tell the same sort of story as the people here. And they continue to get slapped down by Dennis, Gary and the rest of the leadership.

  148. Dennis, you say “Not for me. I believe I need to be called out at times when I’m losing focus, or being lazy, or not coming through with my contribution.”

    I suggest that you talk to some of the people who have left the church, not only those who left years ago, but those who have left recently.

    I was in an adult home church and told not to hang out with a friend of mine who was a believer, but the home church leader didn’t like him, so I was to abandon him. I saw a couple by these same leaders instructed not to get married, not suggested but instructed.

    If you keep asking the HC leaders if they are being controlling they are going to keep saying no, ask those who have been displaced and run off. Stop asking the bobbing heads around you.

    YOu haven’t created a cult, but I do think you have created a church in your own image, one that is very impressed with it’s own intelligence, arrogant and controlling.

  149. “If you keep asking the HC leaders if they are being controlling they are going to keep saying no, ask those who have been displaced and run off. Stop asking the bobbing heads around you.”

    To Dennis:
    This comment by “Just No One” is the point I have been trying to make, what I’ve been trying to convey is my previous posts. There needs to be better oversight in regards to control by homechurch leaders. In my own opinion, I don’t think that this problem exists in all home churches, but just enough that serious issues do arise, enough to call attention to the church itself.

    I mentioned in an earlier post that in a new home church plant from my own group, of the couple who became the leaders, the woman has absolutely no business being in this capacity of leadership. She is nosey, a gossip, immature, and at times the things she says or questions she asks are totally unappropriate. When I challenged this decision by the existing leaders, the response was ‘but she has so many good qualities as well.’ I won’t agrue with that, but it worries me who will be harmed by her actions.

    I can’t imagine attending any other church because Xenos has been a blessing to me, but with as with anything good there is the bad to deal with when humans are involved, unfortunatley. HOWEVER, there is a problem here with control, as Just No One mentioned.

  150. Given that I am taking a hiatus from blogging while I turn my attention to church planting for the next little while, I have decided to turn off comments on this post. I originally posted almost three years ago; no one had anything to say about it for a year and a half; the first comment re Xenos was positive, and then we got into a discussion. I truly hope that the outcome of this was positive. I believe, as a friend told me after recently reading every post, that any church of this size is going to have some folks who are unhappy with their experience; I believe that some will have just cause for feeling that way! I also believe, in this case, that Dennis McCallum really wants Xenos to glorify the Lord, and while none of us are perfect, of course, including Dennis, it’s my sincere hope that he’ll be very willing to listen to, and consider seriously, legitimate concerns that are voiced.

    From this point on, then, any concerns that you might have will need to be taken up with other parties. Thank you for reading and for commenting.