Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Easy To Miss Something You're Not Looking For

Click the PLAY button and view the video before reading further.

You were baited into counting the number of passes for the white team, but you likely failed to notice the moon-walking bear.   If you're like me, you went back to the beginning of the video to make sure the moon-walking bear was indeed present in the video the first time you watched it.  Yes, the bear was there!  The same illusion can be played out in your own spiritual walk.  You can be so engrossed in your work for the kingdom that you fail to observe the spiritual abuse around you.

What is spiritual abuse?  A common characteristic of an abusive religious organization is that the real needs of the people for spiritual growth are lost in the never-ending quest by the leader to fulfill a "mission", The leader can be so engrossed in his own "vision" that he ignores the needs of the people he is responsible for.  At the crossing church, this is intentional!  The crossing's own "Code of the Samurai" is code that is memorized by leaders / staff & volunteers; failure to do so results in you being released. Code #7 states: we will not cater to personal preferences in our mission to reach the city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach, than the people we are trying to keep. We want our back door working properly.

The idea of spiritual abuse is not a new phenomenon. In the Old Testament, God spoke against those who operated in their own authority while abusing the very people they were to bless. In Jeremiah 5:30-31 we read, "An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?"

In these verses God is bringing an indictment against the religious leaders of the Old Testament. We see the Lord's anger expressed against those who operate in their own authority. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.

In Jeremiah 6:13-14 we read again of self-absorbed prophets and priests who are so preoccupied with their own needs being met that the needs of the people are being ignored. We read: "From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace" .

In Titus 2:1-8 Paul directly addressed the spiritual elitism displayed by the leaders among the Corinthian's. A crucified messiah does not allow any room for spiritual elitism.  Everyone (especially leaders) is to conduct themselves in a new life, above reproach, living in grace having put away judgement. The Corinthian leaders (in all their self-proclaimed knowledge), were abusive and judgmental, and put their own needs before the needs of those who followed them.  The Crossing leadership also has a history of being abusive, judgmental and causing division in families for their own personal gain in advancement of the "mission".   Paul rebuked the spiritual abuses displayed by the Corinthian leaders, what would Paul say today about the abuse & callousness demonstrated by crossing leadership?

There are many forms of spiritual abuse:
Authoritarianism: Rather than modeling and teaching obedience to God, let alone respect for the authority placed over you, abusive leaders expect believers to obey them. Councils of elders, deacons, etc., are expected to rubber stamp leaders’ intentions rather than provide accountability. It is documented that Eric Dykstra once fired his board of elders.  

Coercion: Rather than respecting freedom and conscience, as God does, and offering messages that persuade based on scriptural integrity & reason, abusive leaders use strong-arm tactics to coerce believers into overruling better judgment and following their demands.  During the crossing's code of Samurai giving campaign, Eric Dykstra required all followers to pledge money sacrificially to the crossing.  Eric and his leaders called people and required followers to turn in their pledge cards; those who chose not to participate were shunned. What healthy church would tell people they are not welcome to attend if they choose mot to participate in a giving campaign?

Intimidation: Rather than building up the church body in love, abusive leaders use threats of punishment, excommunication, and condemnation to force people into submission and continued church membership.  Crossing "counselors" are verbally and emotional abusive.  I'll give a horrifying example of how verbally abusive and callous crossing leadership has demonstrated itself to be:  A crossing pastor, while teaching a "leadership training" meeting (with approximately 50 in attendance) said of another pastors wife, "..... she has mouth herpes".  Yes, the pastors wife was present in the room!  Can you imagine how embarrassed and degraded she must have felt?  If this pastor would say this regarding another pastors wife in a meeting of leaders, even in jest, what is that pastor capable of saying about my wife, or any other persons wife - either in private or in public?  

Condemnation: Rather than refraining from judgment lest they be judged, an abusive leader condemns those who leave the church, (and those are asked to leave). The message is that believers will be ostracized and "condemned" if they deviate from the leader’s teachings.  One crossing staff "counselor" judgmentally labels people as "toxic".   My wife (Kim) and I have learned that this counselor also refers to Kim as "toxic" and discourages others from having communication with her.  It is widely known that while Kim and I were leaders of three separate teams at the crossing, we were very popular and very much appreciated by crossing leadership. Now that we have been ostracized, crossing leadership now refers to my wife as "mentally unstable" (in an attempt to discredit Kim and me). Slander is the evidence of a malicious spirit. The Bible says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22).  The bible also says “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). I cannot control slanderous words spoken by others, but I will protect the character and integrity of my wife with truth. Many broken people, have experienced this same pattern of judgmental & verbal abuse; and as a result have only experienced deeper hurts.

Classism: Christ was no respecter of persons. Abusive leaders are preoccupied with power, promoting church hierarchy, referring to and treating people according to their titles and roles. Those lower on the hierarchy are taught that their needs don’t matter. The abuse here well documented.

Conformity: Abusive leaders have the greatest hold over inexperienced, naive, and dependent individuals who are seeking a strong leader. These individuals suppress their objections to the leaders’ teachings for fear of being shamed or ostracized. Hence, abusive churches often appear unified, but beneath the surface there is discontent, anguish, whispers, rumors, secrets, and a desire among many to leave.  Read the blog "One Mothers Journey".

Manipulation: Rather than taking scripture in historical context, interpreting the Bible with the Bible and according to long-held Christian beliefs, abusive leaders twist scripture, add or remove words to convey their personal message rather than God’s intent.

Legalism: Rather than treating others with love, grace, and forgiveness, as Christ commanded, abusive leaders offer little grace. They communicate instead that one’s worth and the amount of love one deserves depend on performance and status in their church. Abusive leaders expect believers to make heroic financial, time, and emotional sacrifices for their church and its members.

Isolation: Rather than respecting family ties, community obligations, and friendships, abusive leaders are concerned that such influences will interfere with their control over believers, so they encourage isolation from family, friends, and the outside world, and wage war against the outside world. See Conformity above

Elitism: Rather than modeling and encouraging humility, abusive leaders beam with false pride and teach the same to believers. An attitude arises of, We’re it! We’re special! The leader instills that believers must protect the church’s image at any cost.  My wife and I can give several very personal examples of how protective the crossing leaders are of each other, while caring little about the hurts and needs of church attenders.

Being too busy is another form of spiritual abuse.  Being busy on a never ending quest to fulfill the leaders own "vision/mission" keeps followers from taking the time to become mature in their own relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus desires a relationship with His children, Jesus wants to walk with you & to talk with you!  He wants you to know His voice intimately.  Have you ever heard the acronym "B-U-S-Y" - Being Under satan's Yoke?  If you are so busy that you are not growing in your own faith walk daily, you are too busy and that is exactly what satan wants for you.  Satan wants you to be fooled into thinking you are advancing the kingdom by serving your "guts out", but in reality you are failing in what God desires most: for you to have a relevant relationship with the One who created you.   God is a jealous God and is not pleased when you idolize a "mission" above Him.  A church can become so diverged from solid Biblical teaching and grown so warped in the authoritarian rule of one man, that it has become a place of idolatry.

To my friends at the crossing, I submit this blog prayerfully and in all love, honor & respect. I wrote this with care and compassion in my heart & I hope it is received in the spirit of grace, not judgement.  Many families have experienced spiritual abuse at the hands of the crossing leadership and are no longer attending the crossing.  Other families are in the process of leaving.  Spiritual abuse in its extreme is called a cult.  The warning signs of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse are documented and undeniable; and if left unchecked, the crossing will only continue to wreck more people, and potentially become a full blown cult.  While the crossing proclaims that good things are being done, it does not dismiss or excuse the spiritual abuse; it is wrong to ignore abuses simply because good things are being done. 

It is Easy to miss something that you are not looking for.  Now that you are aware of the moon-walking bear of spiritual abuse, you owe it to yourself to do something about it. Consider the following questions:
  • Do you feel burned out? Are you volunteering and giving heroically?
  • Are your own faith needs being met? Are you maturing in your relationship with Jesus daily?
  • Have you ever been told that you are "toxic" by a crossing counselor?  Have you been told that you have a problem with submission?  Have you been shamed or manipulated by a crossing counselor or leader?
  •  Do you feel isolated?  Do you internalizing the wounds caused by crossing counselors, leaders or pastors?
  •  Do you have the feeling that something isn't quite right at the crossing?  Why are so many families leaving the crossing? 

     The abuse must stop! If you attend the crossing, I challenge you to bring your concerns to crossing leadership and see how they address your concerns. If you've been wounded by a crossing counselor, leader or pastor; you are not alone.  I welcome you to contact me at  Your anonymity will be protected; I only wish to offer you Jesus Christ's healing power, support, and a healthy church where you can glorify the only One who deserves your praise, His name is Jesus!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    True Peace!

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.  9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9  

    Sometimes when we can't find peace, we get burned out, depressed &  frustrated.  You may act out in an unhealthy way towards yourself or someone else near to you.

    Satan doesn’t want us to experience God’s peace.  Satan would rather that we be consumed with divisiveness, bitterness, fear, doubt, worry, & anger.  What do you do to get peace?   The best place to start is with God’s word to remind ourselves of His promise to us.
    God wants you to have true peace
    ·        God says in verse 6, "Do not be anxious about anything."  That means don't worry.  The word for "anxious" in the greek means to be "troubled with cares".
    ·        He hasn't given you this command without you being able to carry it out.
    ·        He said to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth your hand" (Mark 3:5) But the man could not -- yet He obeyed and did it!
    ·        Because the Holy Spirit is in you, you are able to live by faith, and not worry... no matter what happens.  Because the Spirit empowers you to be faithful, to trust, to yield to the Lord's will.
    ·        With the Holy Spirit you are able to trust God beyond your own ability to know what will happen in your life.
    ·        1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.
    ·        John 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled.  Trust in God.

    Pray - In prayer you are transformed
    ·        v.6 "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
    ·        Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
    ·        Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
    ·        Romans 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. 

    These things are written to you so that the God of peace will be with you.  Not simply peace... but the GOD of peace will be with you. This is about God dwelling with you.  He wants you to be holy, pure, & right; He wants your heart to be healed.  God wants you to have His peace and He wants YOU to experience the healing that only He can deliver, so that you can experience His grace in your life.  God wants a RELATIONSHIP with you and He wants to fill you with His JOY. 

    If you don’t have peace, you don’t have joy.  If you’re burned out, hurting, or unsettled, you may not be at peace.  If you’ve been disrespected, mistreated, or the victim of harsh spiritual leadership, it is likely that your heart needs healing from those wounds.  I invite you to contact me, and when you do, I will help you find to a healthy, & grace filled church who understands how to help you heal and experience God’s peace; which is the foundation that holds your JOY.  You owe it to yourself.



    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    It's all about Control

    To the Reader
    My desire in writing this blog is to educate and prompt the reader to consider & be able to think outside the box of what their "spiritual leader" would have them believe. I care about my friends who still attend the crossing church and I want them to know that I love them. I do believe my friends at the crossing are following Jesus.  It is not my intent to hurt or discourage them in their faith walk. I only ask that when they read this, they read it with an open mind.  It is my concern & my prayer that no other seeking person would ever again experience the abuse from a spiritual leader.

    The Early Church
    The original church was set forth as a group of Christ followers who were so touched by their own experience that they were compelled & excited to go out and minister hope to the lost, healing for the hurt, and love to the unloved. They shared the news of Jesus's sacrifice and unconditional love, bearing our sins upon himself (by dying on the cross) so the lost could be reconciled with God the Father. The church began to grow as people heard the good news.  The church was a place where  people experienced God's grace, they grew in faith and were equipped to minister God's grace to others. People's lives were so profoundly changed that they went out and ministered to the lost & hurting in their spiritual gifting.  The church was a safe and compassionate place where HOPE is offered.

    In Contrast
    The church was never meant to be a control based environment set up to perform in the name of accomplishing a stated "mission". 
    The church was not intended to push & drive people to DO more, or to guilt people to GIVE more, nor a place where people are held under tight reign.  A pastor is someone who is able to encourage, equip & launch others into their own God given spiritual gifts, talents and visions, not manipulate others to fulfill his own vision or dream.

    Jesus reconciles, Satan Divides
    A healthy and safe church encourages families to worship God together, and would never endorse anyone to cause family discord by convincing someone to quit school (with just weeks remaining), move out of their parents home, and get married against their parents wishes. I am aware that crossing leadership has convinced others to quit school as well (against their parents wishes) and devote their time to the crossing.  

    One of the commandments in the Bible requires us to honor our parents. From a spiritual leader's perspective, what possible justification is there to allow & encourage this behavior? Would Eric allow & encourage this type of dishonor from his staff toward himself? The church wasn't meant be an organization where people are told to leave when they choose not to participate in a "giving commitment". Yes, this happens at the crossing!  The church should never be a place where people are told they are not welcome to attend just because they speak up when they have a "special needs" seating preference!  The church is not the place where anyone should learn that one of the spiritual leaders is actively telling people that you are "toxic" and mentally ill!  A healthy church encourages people to memorize the Bible, not require their "Community of Leaders" to memorize 14 points of "The Code".

    Spiritual Abuse
    Abusive churches are characterized as mission oriented, many times with an "us vs them" mentality. Those who question are removed. It's possible to be so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority that the leader wounds or is spiritually abusive to anyone who doesn't behave the way they want. Abusive churches,are characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders may use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line or to keep them driven. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs. Group sacrificial giving (Code of the Samurai). and a united sacrificial experience is emphasized and dissent is not allowed. Rules and legalism abound. People who ask questions or don't follow rules dealt with harshly!

    Not by Might
    We are not saved by performance results, we are not saved by how many people come in the front door to fulfill the "mission" . We are not saved by big church buildings and multiple campuses. Ask yourself, is the crossing allowing you the time to seek God on your own so that you may become mature in your faith in Jesus? Are you too busy?  Is the Crossing really the "safe place where you can check out Jesus at your pace", the way the crossing claims each and every week from the stage?

    For years people have been voicing their concerns regarding Eric's abusive leadership style!   Do your own research.  Make some calls on your own  Read the various blogs who are sharing their own concerns regarding Eric's abusive leadership.  I ask my friends at the crossing to open their eyes to why so many families have left.  I support the vision to reach the lost, but I do not condone the spiritual abuse to accomplish the "Mission".  The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace, so wouldn't it make sense for the church to operate in grace?  Eric always said that if the vision ever becomes about Eric, then we should run away.  Many are running!!!

    I have SO much more I can share, and I will in future blogs. If you would like to know more about my experience while at he crossing, you may send me an e-mail at