A WARNING OF THE PITFALLS OF 3DM AND MIKE BREEN BY JEFF DYRUD:
This paper is meant as a warning to churches and individuals about a ministry that is gaining a foothold in the US. This ministry, while ostensibly teaching people how to disciple others, in reality causes deep divisions in congregations, setting up two groups – those that are deemed worthy of the “discipling” attentions of the leaders, and those that are not.
This ministry is 3 Dimensional Ministries, or as it’s better known, 3DM, based in Pawleys Island, SC, and headed by its founder, Rev. Mike Breen, an Anglican vicar. Breen came to St. Thomas’ Church – Crookes, an Anglican – Baptist church in Sheffield, UK in 1994 as the Senior Rector.
My concern is not so much with the stated mission of 3DM, which is “Our vision is to change the world by putting discipleship and mission back into the hands of ordinary people” (1), but the way in which this is accomplished and the theology behind this movement. http://3dmovements.com/about/
First, a little about 3DM. Breen’s focus is discipleship. He says,
“Effective discipleship builds the church, not the other way around. We need to understand the church as the effect of discipleship and not the cause. If you set out to build the church, there is no guarantee you will make disciples. It is far more likely that you will create consumers who depend on the spiritual services that religious professionals provide.” Building a Discipling Culture, pg.12
I’m going to disagree with his focus on discipleship as opposed to the church. I think he is creating a straw man here, and he’s working at knocking it down. The Church Visible is a collection of wheat and tares, believers and unbelievers, while the Church Invisible is, of course, only the believers. However, the Church Visible and Invisible is not just the effect of discipleship. The Church is also a place where discipleship happens. Believers are called upon to congregate regularly to be fed by Word and Sacrament, and as such are equipped for interacting with the outside world and sharing their faith with others.
Martin Luther wrote much about vocation, how the “ordinary” believer could be used of God in his everyday work. Breen goes on to say,
“Jesus has not called you to build his church. In fact, in all of the Gospels he mentions the church only two times. One time he mentions it, it’s about conflict resolution. The other time? To say that he will build his church. Our job, our only job and the last instructions he gave us, was to make disciples. And out of this we will get the church. Out of this, the future will emerge, and out of this, there will be a missional wave the likes of which we have never seen.” Building a Discipling Culture, pg.13
Again, this is a straw man. Yes, Jesus only uses the word church in two instances, but if you look through the Gospels for the words disciple and disciples, you only find 10 instances where Jesus uses the word disciple/disciples describing who His disciples are or in another context, and ONLY ONE TIME in the context Breen is using for his argument. This is in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – (The Great Commission). In the other (approximately 228) instances where disciple/disciples is used in the Gospels, it is most often in the text as a noun (ie “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him” or “Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”). This is pretty thin gruel for Breen to use in his earlier statement setting the church and disciple making against each other.
On the other hand, Breen downplays “the church”, by referencing the term only in the Gospels. If we hold to Scripture’s telling us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” then why is Breen focusing only on the Gospels? After Acts 21, the word disciple is no longer used. As the book of Acts begins, we start seeing the use of the word church. Again, let’s see how Breen views the work of the church.
“Why do we assume that by telling people to read the Bible that if they do it, people know how to read Scripture well? Why do we think they know what in the world to do with this gigantic book that somehow brings us to the “Living Word”?” Building a Discipling Culture, pg. 31
“We don’t want people to understand forgiveness or prayer or mission or justice only intellectually. We want people who can forgive, who can hear and respond to God, who actually know Him. We want people who have hearts that break for our world and the people in it and do something about it. We want the kind of people in our communities who resemble the people we see in Scripture.” Building a Discipling Culture, p33
Ah, the old “head knowledge vs. heart knowledge” argument. A friend of mine uses this on me once in a while when describing someone. He attends a church where so much of the focus is on the latest “word of knowledge” that someone brings “from the Lord”, that the Bible becomes an afterthought, and “right doctrine” is looked down on as dead intellectualism. Yes, we are to have a living faith, focused on our personal relationship with Christ, but we still need to intellectually understand God’s Word as well. Too much mischief happens in the church at large in the name of “All I want to do is love Jesus; you’re too bound up with doctrine”. A response I read in an article somewhere came back with this challenge; “OK, tell me about Jesus, but don’t use any doctrine” (sound of crickets chirping). Again, this is a false choice between the two. In reality it denigrates the ability of God’s Word to change hearts, minds, and actions in a believer and non-believer. It really sounds more like Charles Finney’s “right use of means”, where anyone could be reasoned into the Kingdom if the right method is used.
What Breen is pushing is using his method of discipleship. In fact, his organization tells you that you can’t just read his books and other materials and expect to get good results. For his method to work properly, you need to be walked through the process in a “Huddle” led by someone who has been “Huddled” by someone in Breen’s ministry. As he says in his book,
“If you are in a church community that has Huddles and you aren’t in one, ask one of the leaders if you can be discipled in a Huddle. If you are in a church that doesn’t have Huddles yet and you’d like to pioneer that in your context, we offer coaching Huddles at 3DM that you can be a part of. You can get more information on Coaching through our website (weare3dm.com)” (Ed. Note – website is now 3dmovements.com)
Building a Discipling Culture, pg.199
Here is how Doug Paul, formerly 3DM Director of Content, now “Pastor of Mobilization” at Summit Church in Ft. Myers, FL describes the difference between small groups and Huddles. http://summitlife.com/meet-doug-paul/
“First, let’s talk about the differences. The easiest way to highlight this is through describing exactly what a Huddle is.
A Huddle is:
A place for leaders to receive investment, training, imitation and accountability (in other words…discipleship!). Here’s the big thing to note on this one: It is for current and/or future leaders. The people accepting an invitation into a Huddle should know they are expected to lead something (and maybe they already are, but if they aren’t, the expectation that they will start leading something). This is the principle at work: If you disciple leaders in how to disciple people, everyone in your community will be discipled. Why? Because you’re instilling in your leaders the Great Commission principle that “every disciple disciples others.”
By invitation only. A Huddle is an invitation for 6-12 leaders to regularly receive intentional investment by a discipling leader. But it is more than that. It’s also an invitation in that person’s life, not just a 90-minute-per-week gathering point. You have access to the life of the discipling leader outside of just the Huddle time. As we know, the principles of discipleship at work are often better caught than taught.” (emphasis in original) http://mikebreen.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/the-difference-between-huddles-and-small-groups-and-why-many-people-use-both/
OK, now that we know exactly what a Huddle is, let’s dig a bit deeper and ask a few questions. First, why are Huddles only for current and/or future leaders? What about the followers? We’re not all given the same gifts, and the person that comes and plows out the parking lot after the blizzard and is always there to lend a helping hand in the kitchen is just as much a disciple as an elder, or a Sunday School superintendent. Why the differentiation? I’ve known many folks that contributed as much if not more than some of the “leaders” or “wanna-be leaders”. I think of a man who was the long time head usher at my home congregation. He greeted everyone with a smile, knew all of the kids by name, and often had a Life Saver for them. My now 24 year old daughter said that when she grew up, she wanted to marry “the candy man”. He would occasionally go out after work to bars with his co-workers to have a Coke and just be part of their lives and share the Gospel when given the opportunity. He wasn’t one of the elders, but he was my Sunday School teacher one year. Was he any less of a disciple than those who are now being Huddled? I’ve yet to find anywhere in Breen’s materials where he says that Huddles are for everyone in a congregation. It always seems to be referenced in terms of leaders/future leaders.
Secondly, why are Huddles “invitation only”? The church I grew up in has been doing this for a number of years now, so why are there many people who have never been invited to Huddle? This list includes “retired” elders, an active elder, and many others that have been very active over the years in the life of the congregation. It seems strange that with Breen’s focus on Jesus’ use of the word disciple, Jesus in the Great Commission said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19 – emphasis added). Why the separation? If you ask the folks that have left that congregation and others that may shortly be leaving, there is a definite hierarchy developing, between the “ins” and the “outs”. Other churches have reported the same effect of Breen’s methods and how they are played out.
North Heights Lutheran Church (in Arden Hills and Roseville, Minnesota) until early April was home to 3DM’s Equipping Director Jo Saxton and her husband Chris. They were both listed as pastors of North Heights. On April 2, 2014, North Heights’ council of elders unanimously voted to end their relationship with 3DM. Among their reasons were:
“What makes 3DM incompatible with the DNA of North Heights?
a. In contrast to 3DM which creates a tiered system of exclusivity, investing primarily in church leaders, North Heights believes in the priesthood of believers; that everyone is invited before the throne of God, to learn from Him, serve Jesus, and walk with Him. but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
b. In contrast to 3DM which separates younger and elder generations, North Heights is committed to bringing the generations together for ministry, healing, prayer, fellowship, study, service, and worship. Impress them (God’s commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:7” (Emphasis in original) http://www.nhlc.org/filerequest/36785
“The Elders talked with ministry leaders (both paid staff and lay-leaders), to understand
the influence 3DM had on their ministry. The Elders learned that large amounts of staff
time was re-directed from North Heights' ministries and toward 3DM; most significantly
impacted were youth, young adults, family, and most recently outreach ministries.
The Elders talked with leaders from other churches who had been either positively or
negatively impacted by 3DM. The Elders could not ignore the caution of the churches
that were once on the same trajectory.
North Heights’ DNA is one soaked in the Holy Spirit; the Elders evaluated the spiritual
fruit of 3DM. Although, some leaders have benefited from this discipleship process, we
could not ignore that after the investment of finances, the reallocation of staff time, and
the obligation of church leadership to conform to 3DM, there is very little fruit in the body
of believers to show for this investment.” (Emphasis in original)
Pastors at North Heights were not forced out. They were told that 3DM materials and philosophy would not be used any longer and they were free to choose what route they wanted to take. Some, including the Saxtons, decided to leave.
3DM’s focus for choosing who to disciple is supposedly based on Jesus’ admonition in Luke 10:5-12 (NASB) to His 70 disciples, where He says,
“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.”
This passage is used for their teaching of “Persons of Peace”. Ben Sternke, Director of Content for 3DM, says it this way:
“A Person of Peace is simply someone that God has prepared ahead of time to hear the message of the gospel through you. We recognize People of Peace as those who welcome us, like to be with us, are open to receiving from us, and attempt to serve us in some way.”
Eric Pfeiffer, 3DM’s Director of Coaching/ Associate Partner Communities, has this to say in a video:
“Today’s question is answered by Eric Pfeiffer, our Director of Coaching at 3DM. It’s hard to imagine many people more gifted at coaching top-shelf leaders than Eric and he provides some great insight in this post on what you do if someone is hurt and/or offended if they weren’t picked for your Huddle. “
Video transcript – 0:42 to 1:01 “So you let them know things like ‘Hey, I’ve spent a good amount of time with the Lord, processing with the Lord who are the people that He wants me to invite into my Huddle. And knowing that we can’t invite everybody, we’ve gotta choose a small number, um, it’s not personal, it’s really about who God’s wanting me to choose, not who I’m wanting to choose.”
1:11 to 1:22 “Hey, the people that I’m looking for, for my Huddle maybe fall into these kind of requirements. They like me, they welcome me, and they serve me.”
OK, let’s break this down. Jesus is speaking primarily of unbelievers that His disciples meet on their travels. Remember, the crucifixion and resurrection have only recently taken place. Jesus is giving His disciples a commission to spread the Gospel to the world. In the context of the passage, these are clearly people who have not heard the Gospel message. However, in most of Breen’s and 3DM’s material, the people of peace are people already in a congregation. Repeating, here is Doug Paul explaining a Huddle:
“A place for leaders to receive investment, training, imitation and accountability (in other words…discipleship!). Here’s the big thing to note on this one: It is for current and/or future leaders. The people accepting an invitation into a Huddle should know they are expected to lead something (and maybe they already are, but if they aren’t, the expectation that they will start leading something). This is the principle at work: If you disciple leaders in how to disciple people, everyone in your community will be discipled. Why? Because you’re instilling in your leaders the Great Commission principle that “every disciple disciples others.”” (Emphasis in original) http://mikebreen.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/the-difference-between-huddles-and-small-groups-and-why-many-people-use-both/
This is where I see the system breaking down. I believe they are choosing to read this passage without also considering other Scripture. For instance, did Paul only preach to “persons of peace” who liked him and served him? What about the folks in Lystra in Acts 14, or in Thessalonica and Athens in Acts 17? Paul was preaching to whoever would listen, and I’m sure if we could have been a fly on the wall, we would’ve seen the Twelve doing the same thing.
The way this has worked in my home congregation and at other congregations is that the leadership begins choosing who gets to be on the “cool kids” team and who doesn’t. Jesus’ call to make disciples, as stated earlier, was to be for everyone, not just a select few, and not just for the leaders.
Another issue is the recurring theme of having the members of your Huddle so focused on YOU, rather than on Jesus. The idea is that they are focusing on the things about you that are like Jesus, but it gives a strange feeling of leaders building a little group of followers, rather than pointing them more to Christ and saying, “Look, I’m just the messenger, see Him over there? Follow Him”. A couple of examples come from Eric Pfeiffer, who is described in some 3DM materials as the Director of Coaching, and currently on their website as “Associate Partner Communities”.
Mr. Pfeiffer says:
“In short, from the moment I arrived Steve did a masterful job of being very humble and very direct (the traits of a great leader), which the Lord used to surgically expose the deep resistance in my heart to fully submit myself under authority. It became painfully clear to me that while I had followed Mike for so many years, I had never really entrusted my heart to him.” (emphasis added) https://www.facebook.com/notes/eric-pfeiffer/character-giftingwhy-im-in-a-huddle/394698006311
As gracious as Jesus is, he made it very clear – “Eric, you can submit yourself to Mike and Steve’s authority, trusting my Spirit within them, and move to radical new levels of usefulness in my kingdom, or you can live frustrated and stuck.” https://www.facebook.com/notes/eric-pfeiffer/character-giftingwhy-im-in-a-huddle/394698006311
Here, he refers to himself as Breen’s disciple. You may read it as being tongue-in-cheek, but this sort of language seems to appear elsewhere as well.
As I shared this nugget during a huddle this morning I was asked, “How do we daily experience this filled life?” Here’s my simple, memorable and reproducible response (I am unapologetically plagiarizing Mike Breen here, as all good disciples do of their Rabbi!). https://www.facebook.com/notes/eric-pfeiffer/daily-living-with-the-presence-of-god/394698026311
Why the emphasis on trusting the “Spirit within” Mike (Breen) and Steve Cockram)? Aren’t we as believers all indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t God speak to us through His Word, as we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the Word? Here are some more examples from “Building a Discipling Culture”:
“Huddle leaders act as the primary disciplers of the members of the group, not as facilitators. They are giving their lives as something worth imitating, giving their members access to all parts of their lives. Huddle leaders are inviting members of the Huddle to imitate the parts of their lives that look like the life and ministry of Jesus.” “Building a Discipling Culture” p. 204
“A Huddle is all about investment. You are investing your life into theirs. This is, essentially, what you are saying to them” “I want to invest my life into yours and the places that look like Jesus, copy those things. The rest, well, that you can scrap!” This is a profound thing because most people either 1) have never thought they were worth investing in or 2) all investment was tied to what they could produce or give back to the organization. In other words, oftentimes they felt like they were being used. You are offering them something beautiful: an invitation to your life.” – “Building a Discipling Culture” p. 218-219
“When your Huddle is just beginning, very rarely let other people interject with their own thoughts or opinions. We know. This comes off as harsh, doesn’t it! Here’s the thing: They will be invited and welcomed to interject when they know the language and their lives show it.” “Building a Discipling Culture” p. 222
I’m going to shift gears now and discuss some of the theology of the 3DM ministry. 3DM has the following statement on their website:
“3DM is an organization that works with leaders and churches of over 70 Christian denominations. We are working with Baptists, Lutherans, Non-denominational, Methodists, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Brethren, Vineyard. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Just on our home team, we have backgrounds that are Anglican, Baptist, Reformed, Armenian, Charismatic, and Wesleyan.
We are orthodox Christians who look to come alongside other orthodox Christians. Now we believe there is a historic understanding of what it means to be an orthodox Christian: The Apostles Creed”
http://weare3dm.com/about/ - under the “What we believe” tab
And this as well:
“WHAT WE BELIEVE
3DM is a training organization that works with leaders and churches of over 70 Christian denominations. We have all kinds of different backgrounds on our home team. We work with Reformed people and Anabaptists, Anglicans and charismatics (and charismatic Anglicans!).
Because of this we don't have an intricately-nuanced theological "statement", per se, but we do operate firmly within the framework of historic Christian belief. As such we adhere to the historic Christian creeds.”
They then go on to list the Apostles Creed, followed by a list of their books and networks they are affiliated with.
Now, this takes a bit more sleuthing, but I believe that I have ample evidence to show that the folks at 3DM are not, in fact, very orthodox in their beliefs, certainly not the leadership. Let’s look at the evidence for why I believe this is true.
Mike Breen’s background
Breen came to St. Thomas’ Church – Crookes in Sheffield, UK in 1994, taking over as Senior Rector from Robert Warren. In 1994, the charismatic/Pentecostal world was abuzz with the so-called “Toronto Blessing” at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church, later changed to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now called Catch the Fire. Strange manifestations had broken out at services at the Toronto church after a visit from Randy Clark, who was using the methods of Rodney Howard-Browne, a South African pastor. The “blessing”, which is supposedly transferable from one person to another, was carried across the Atlantic to the UK, primarily to Holy Trinity, Brompton (home of Nicky Gumbel, author of the Alpha Course (but that’s a story in and of itself), and Holy Trinity, Cheltenham, but also to many other churches in the UK. The Toronto church began in the Vineyard Fellowship of churches, founded by the late John Wimber.
An oral history of this time as it applies to Breen’s former church is given in the presentation “The Mike Breen Era” by Nick Allan and Cathy Livesey (http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/theriver). It points out the influence of the “Toronto Blessing” on St. Thomas’ Church - Crookes in Sheffield during Mike Breen’s time there. Nick Allan is now going to be the overall leader of what is now called NCS (Network Church Sheffield), which includes St. Thomas’ – Crookes and St. Thomas’ - Philadelphia
Getting back to John Wimber, let’s look at the official Vineyard history of Wimber:
“John became so fruitful as an evangelical pastor he was asked to lead the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. He also later became an adjunct instructor at Fuller
Theological Seminary where his classes set attendance records.”…….“Encounters with Fuller missiologists Donald McGavaran and C. Peter Wagner and seasoned missionaries and international students gave him credible evidence for combining evangelism with healing and prophecy. As he became more convinced of God's desire to be active in the world through all the biblical gifts of the Spirit, John began to teach and train his church to imitate Jesus' full-orbed kingdom ministry. He began to "do the stuff" of the Bible, about which he had formerly only read.” http://www.vineyardusa.org/site/about/vineyard-history
Here is Mike Breen’s take on Wimber:
“Mike: Continuing my list of 10 books I think every Missional Leader should read….
“Mike: Before John Wimber founded the Vineyard, he was a seminary professor at Fuller Theological. This book is an amazing look at how someone who didn’t really get or accept the supernatural began to see it happen in his life and his community. It’s littered with stories, but also some really skillful theological insight into what it means to be “naturally supernatural.” If you are at all wanting your church to be encountering God’s Spirit in new and more natural ways, pick this book up. Obviously John Wimber had a large impact on my life and this book explains some of his best thoughts. It also made Christianity Today’s 50 most influential Christian books of the 20th Century.”
I’ll flesh out this background information some more. St. Thomas’ Church, Crookes is in Sheffield, UK (http://stthomascrookes.org/http://stthomascrookes.org/). This is the church where Mike Breen ministered for 10 years. It has a sister/daughter congregation, St. Thomas’ Church, Philadelphia, also in Sheffield (http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/). You’ll see that St. Thomas’ - Crookes, St. Thomas’ – Philadelphia, and 3DM have a very close working relationship (http://www.sttoms.net/) and (http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/theriver) . On the St. Thomas’ – Philadelphia site, they have a page listing their partners (http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/our-partners) I’d like to focus on one in particular, the New Wine network, listed under “Other Churches and Networks”.
New Wine was founded by David and Mary Pytches. David Pytches is an Anglican bishop, and author of “Some Said It Thundered”, a sympathetic view of Mike Bickle and the “Kansas City Prophets”. His wife Mary is a Christian counselor and author. The conferences put on by New Wine are heavily weighted with Vineyard Church pastors and speakers, as well as other streams of Pentecostal/Charismatic belief. Many of the speakers are also dominionists, using variations of Latter Rain/Kingdom Now/Manifest Sons of God theology. The New Wine group of most concern is New Wine – Cymru, a congregation in Wales. On the “About” page of their website, they claim,
“Jesus has commissioned his people to bring heaven to earth in order to see every sphere of life on earth transformed through the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” and “Jesus literally brought heaven to earth and signs, miracles and healing, demonstrated that. The coming of Jesus the King, his death and resurrection was for the purpose of restoring to humanity the honoured place and role of Kingdom rulership in Christ and ultimately all of creation to be restored by God. (Romans 8)”. - http://newwinecymru.co.uk/about/
They also quote Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, saying “Bill Johnson summarises it wonderfully when he says “we are not waiting to die to go to heaven but rather living to bring heaven to earth!” New Wine – Cymru website - http://newwinecymru.co.uk/about/
This is classic Dominionist theology, that Christ not only won’t but can’t return until Christians have taken dominion over the earth by “taking” the 7 mountains – family, church, education, media, entertainment, economy, and government. Lest you think that the New Wine – Cymru location is an aberrant offshoot, they are a full part of the New Wine organization, right down to the logo and motto.
New Wine USA
New Wine Cymru (Wales)
New Wine UK
New Wine has a US based division as well, and Mike Breen has played a significant part in that organization. He is listed on their “Vision and Values” page, along with David and Mary Pytches. The New Wine movement, being so intertwined with the Vineyard Church (among others), puts great stock in fulfilling the Great Commission with signs and wonders, also known as “Power Evangelism”. Here is a snippet from New Wine USA’s site:
St. Andrew’s Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina hosted the first New Wine Conference in the U.S. in 2003. Bruce Collins, International Director of the New Wine Network (www.new-wine.org), led the conference. Since that time, several members of the New Wine leadership team, such as David and Mary Pytches, Mike Pilavachi, Mark Melluish, and author Mike Breen (The Passionate Church), along with worship leaders Brian Doerksen, Martyn Lazell, and Andy Piercy have invested in the ministry of St. Andrew’s. (emphasis added) http://www.newwineusa.org/Vision-and-Values.html
John Wimber, the father of the Vineyard movement, coined the term “power evangelism”. Adherents believe that anything Jesus did while on earth is available to any believer, that all the signs and wonders done by Jesus and the Apostles are the norm for today. This belief puts the Word of God far to the rear as an evangelism tool. If people are only exposed to so-called “signs and wonders” with only a cursory, shallow description of Jesus and a heavy emphasis on the Holy Spirit, how can you be sure that their expressed faith as a “Jesus follower” is anything but an emotional “high” from a very moving experience? With so little emphasis on the Word of God, whether preached or read, has the real Gospel been preached? Since we believe God works through the Holy Spirit in Word and sacrament to convict of sin and draw us to Christ, finally sharing the message of redemption through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, what good is an over emphasis on the supposed work of the Holy Spirit, with very little about Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection?
Mark Stibbe is a good friend of Mike Breen’s and an Anglican vicar, formerly at St. Andrew’s Chorleywood. He co-wrote a book with Andrew Williams entitled “Breakout: Our Church’s Story of Mission and Growth in the Holy Spirit”. Mike Breen wrote the forward, saying,
'Mark Stibbe is one of the best teachers in England today and his new book on prophetic evangelism clearly reveals this to be true. The book is full of excellent personal illustrations, practical examples and helpful expositions, which together provide us with a really useful tool as we seek to learn about God's call to evangelism.' (emphasis added) --Mike Breen, St Thomas Church, Sheffield, England -
“When David Pytches invited me to come and speak at St. Andrew’s, deep down I felt very honoured. His invitation was to come and speak at a midweek evening at one of his “Catch the Fire” gatherings in the church. These meetings were being held each week in response to the great hunger for more of the presence of God that had followed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Toronto Airport Fellowship (at that time a Vineyard church) in January 1994. Hundreds were coming to these “Catch the Fire” events at St. Andrew’s, desperate for more of the Lord, and people were being saved, healed, and set free by the Father’s love.”
When looking through the 3DM blogs and other blogs by 3DM leaders such as Ben Sternke, I’ve come across numerous clues that the leaders of 3DM are also dominionists and certainly are adherents of “power evangelism”. In a “white paper” written by Jo Saxton (3DM director) and Doug Paul, in an explanation of why they want to target cities for ministry is this paragraph:
“Because in many ways (though not exclusively), cities are the place where culture is created. The thought is that if you can change the city you can change the culture and in the same way that we saw early Christians affecting their culture, so disciples released into cities could truly affect the dominant culture to more serve the glory of God. (As a brief aside, we might define the seven streams of culture as: Church/Religion, Business, Education, Government, Social Sector, Arts and Entertainment, Science and Technology.)” http://tomproject.org/wp-content/uploads/Whitepaper-Reaching%20the%20missing%20generation%20in%20an%20age%20of%20optional%20discipleship.pdf
While the white paper speaks of many of the same things that a ministry to college students might say, the focus of dominionist theology is on capturing the “seven mountains” (or in the case above, the “seven streams”), to literally come into control of those seven mountains. While the 3DM staff aren’t as blatant as many of those coming to speak at Lutheran Renewal events, they nonetheless use many of the same terms and advance many of the same ideas.
From Mike Breen’s training on “Multiplying Life”:
“Most churches have put the ministry into the hands of the professionals. Jesus told the disciples to “teach people to do everything I have taught you”.
Everyone changes society, everyone heals the sick, raises the dead, everyone brings in the Kingdom; this is not the preserve of the elite. Everyone has it delegated to them if they have learnt enough from Jesus.” (emphasis added) (http://storage.cloversites.com/newcitychurchbrantford/documents/04%20Multiplying%20Life%20Teaching%20Notes.pdf
As a cessationist, I’d have to be convinced that the gifts as practiced by the Apostles are still being used today. In this passage, Breen makes his belief in “power evangelism” quite clear…..”Everyone heals the sick, raises the dead”….
From a Wayfarer Camp Adult Leader’s Guide
“By the time we reach the New Testament, we see a deepening in our understanding as Jesus reveals his relationship with his Father. As we follow his story, we see him invite his followers into a depth of Covenant relationship not seen before. He invited them to experience the same depth of relationship that he enjoyed with his Father.” (Ed: Italics added – how can we enjoy the same depth of relationship with God the Father as He does with His Son?)
Pg.3 Wayfarer Camp Adult Leader’s Guide http://www.wayfarercamp.com/camp/register/leadersGuide_land.pdf
“2. God has given us Authority to rule with Him over His world, meaning that we have hope that we can help bring His kingdom to this world. Jesus had this authority, and like Joseph, He represented God well. He gave forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and blessing to the people He came across. Because we are Jesus’ disciples, and children of the King, we also have this authority.”
“3. Finally, we have Power. When Jesus went to be with the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit has power, and as we act in faith to carry out God’s work in the world, we see the Holy Spirit’s power working through us.” (Emphasis in original) p. 14 Wayfarer Camp Adult Leader’s Guide
“Next, show them the connections between the 2 triangles:
“Father and King represent Love — this is because the Father and King love us with an unconditional love.”
“Identity and Authority represent Hope — this is because as we place our identity in Jesus, and as we understand that the King has given us authority over the world, we have hope that He will always provide for us, protect us, and assist us in bringing restoration to the world.”
“Obedience and Power represent Faith — this is because both obedience and power require action; we have to step out in faith to obey and to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives.” (Emphasis in original) p.20 Wayfarer Camp Adult Leader’s Guide
“Christian leadership is about listening for vision from God within community and then being given the authority and power to execute that vision — to take new Kingdom ground……..”
“I’m saying that there are many places in your community where the Kingdom needs to be advanced. And if you want to take that territory, you’re going to need more than just a cadre of volunteers. You have to learn to operate in a model that releases leaders to take those fronts, or you’re going to stand still. You may think your vision is big enough to all those cracks and crevices, but I’m telling you…it’s not.”
“Leaders who know how to train and release everyday, normal, unpaid people into their Kingdom destiny.” (Emphasis in original) http://weare3dm.com/mikebreen/we-are-3dm/why-the-leadership- movement-is-leaving-your-church-leaderless/
Wayfarer is a subsidiary of 3DM that focuses on students and young adults.
These snippets from 3DM materials clearly show the dominionist theology that they quietly espouse. As I searched for material for this, I kept wondering why I didn’t find much at first. As I was digging deeper and reading more and more of the source material, it became clear that while the 3DM organization is dominionist in theology, their focus is not on spreading that particular view in a blatant way, but to reach out to other churches through the idea of discipling the unreached. However, just because they do not put the dominionist view point front and center of everything does not mean they aren’t pushing it. If you think about it, one reason for the emphasis on disciple making is the idea that Christ cannot return until the “seven mountains” are conquered and the whole world brought under control of Christians. The idea of making disciples to help bring this about fits right in with dominionism.
Let’s look at what 3DM’s Director of Content, Ben Sternke, has to say:
“The reality is that, from a biblical perspective, if we want to really be involved in what God is doing, we cannot avoid the issue of supernatural encounters, including divine healing. This is God’s kingdom we’re talking about, so we’ll need more than just what we can do in our own strength. We need God’s power to do God’s work. We can’t throw away the gift just because we don’t like the wrapping.
Sometimes we forget that the Spirit was given not just to comfort us and encourage us, but to clothe us with power to do the task Jesus gave us. Jesus told his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12) and then told them explicitly that they should do nothing until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This should make us pause and consider our own ministries: how much do we seek to do without the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” (Emphasis in original) - http://bensternke.com/2011/06/divine-healing-and-the-kingdom-of-god/
He goes on to say:
“If you’d like to explore this issue further, I’d recommend the following resources:
Mike Breen: 3-Part MP3 series on Faith and Healing
John Wimber: The Way In is the Way On and Power Healing
Derek Morphew: Breakthrough
Bill Johnson: When Heaven Invades Earth”
That recommendation of a book by Bill Johnson is a big concern. Johnson is the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, and it’s hard to find much good to say about him. Johnson is fully immersed in a variation of the old Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God/ Joel’s Army theology. In his book “When Heaven Invades Earth” (remember, this is recommended reading by 3DM’s Director of Content), he lays out his beliefs clearly. Let’s take a look.
“Jesus could not heal the sick. Neither could He deliver the tormented from demons or raise the dead. To believe otherwise is to ignore what He said about Himself, and more importantly, to miss the purpose of His self-imposed restriction to live as a man.
Jesus Christ said of Himself, "The Son can do nothing." In the Greek language that word nothing has a unique meaning—it means NOTHING, just like it does in English! He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God ... not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything... and makes possible a full restoration of the ministry of Jesus in His Church.” P.28 http://godsgovernmentisprayer.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/when-heaven-invades-earth.pdf
Notice what Johnson is saying here. He’s saying that Jesus did everything He did solely on the basis of being a human being, not on the basis of being God, the Son. Rather than seeing that Jesus, as the Son of God, gave His disciples the power to do miracles, the teaching by Johnson is that Jesus did these miracles as merely a man, and that we, as believers, are able to do the same things He did.
Next, let’s look at Johnson’s view of humanity:
WE ARE BORN TO RULE
“In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man had given away. From the throne of triumph He declared, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore...." 10 In other words: I got it all back. Now go use it and reclaim mankind. P31
We were born to rule—rule over creation, over darkness—to plunder hell and establish the rule of Jesus wherever we go by preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.” P.31
This is one of the aberrant teachings of the Latter Rain movement, that God had no authority over the earth, and Jesus had to win back the authority for God through the crucifixion and resurrection. Then, God gives that authority to Christians to rule over His creation, as Adam did.
“When Heaven Invades Earth” was recommended by 3DM’s Director of Content, Ben Sternke. Let’s take a look at what Eric Pfeiffer, 3DM Director of Coaching/Associate Partner Communities has to say on this subject. From His Facebook page (June 27, 2010, in a posting entitled “Our Inheritance is Power”, Pfeiffer writes:
“3) Jesus was a man who released POWER. While many wait for some magical wand to bestow upon them the power of heaven, others follow countless personalities hoping for a magical touch that will impart to them special privileges from above. Some believe power comes from acquiring enough knowledge and still others suggest Jesus was the only person who would ever walk in such power (he was God, right?). The truth is many walked in extraordinary signs, wonders and miracles before and after Jesus walked the earth. The Old Testament is full of stories of people just like us who walked in the power of heaven. The book of Acts tells us many of the early disciples ministered in power to heal the sick, blind, lame and cast out demons. And there have been many Christians in every generation since who have believed the Father’s power is the children’s inheritance, and have walked in various expressions of that power.
Whether it was Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Peter, Aimee Semple Mcpherson or John Wimber, heaven’s power always flows through the same pathway – right relationship with God (IDENTITY), which brings us into alignment with the will of God through humility (AUTHORITY); and as we obey the will of God, the Holy Spirit backs his will up with heaven’s POWER. As Jesus took this pathway, so we are invited daily to submit ourselves to the Lord, learn the humility of being under his authority in each area of our lives, and obey his words. This will release heaven’s power and establish God’s reign and rule in the earth." (underlined emphasis added; bold emphasis in original) https://www.facebook.com/notes/eric-pfeiffer/our-inheritance-is-power/407966321311
Again, this points to the idea that Jesus was operating only as a man, not as God, and by extension, any Spirit-filled Christian can do the things Jesus did.
We can link this closer to home with this article by Nick Allan, now the leader of NCS (Network Church Sheffield, made up of St. Thomas’ – Crookes, and St. Thomas’ – Philadelphia)
Let’s look at Jesus’ own example, and as we do lets remember that you and I are called to be like this! And that’s not an impossible dream, it’s a command of our mentor Jesus, so it must be achievable to some extent in our real lives. Jesus performed miracles, wonders, and signs, and he performed them as a man, as a human, in right relationship to God – not as God. If he just did them because he was God, then they would be unobtainable for us (not being God!). In fact he said “The Son can do nothing” (John 5:19) and while He was 100% God, he chose to live with the same limitations that humans would face after Jesus had finished his earthly work. He did them as a human – so I can pursue His lifestyle and mindset, the way He related to his heavenly Father, and I can do the same. (emphasis added) http://www.kingscentreonline.com/archive/pdf/05nov2007_Renovation_of_the_Heart_6_Unseen.pdf
Nick Allan also is fond of Bill Johnson and John WImber, Todd Bentley and Smith Wigglesworth:
“I’ve been impacted again by people like Bill Johnson, John Wimber, revivals & great saints – power. My feeling is, like the song, that ‘There must be more than this’. For me, seeing signs & wonders happen around me is partly it.” (emphasis in original)
“Modern examples of this mindset Todd Bentley & Smith Wigglesworth – often acted physically what they SAW from heaven (Todd – calls out women, colour of clothing, condition etc – bc he’s seen them earlier that day in prayer) (Smith - punching in stomach – looks bad on the face of things, but it cured cancer) The Allums (a highly prophetic couple from Canada) – When they prophesy, the say “I see……” because Isobel really was seeing what she was speaking out. She prophesies things which in a material, present, here & now sense don’t exist. But she is speaking-forth the truth which does exist in the unseen realm.”
(Both quotes found at http://www.kingscentreonline.com/archive/pdf/05nov2007_Renovation_of_the_Heart_6_Unseen.pdf
(NOTE: for a real eye-opener, go to youtube.com, type in Todd Bentley, and watch some of his “ministry”; I’ll give you one to start - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1PfkZqa_R0 )
Now, lest someone say that Mike Breen has been gone from St. Thomas’ for years now, he is still very active with the churches making up that network. They are now calling themselves NCS (Network Church Sheffield) and Breen’s influence can be seen in this letter to the church membership by Paul Maconochie, the Senior Leader of the church until this summer.
“Mike Breen has also been a member of our board for the last couple of years on a one – year renewable basis and in an advisory role.”
I want to get back to “When Heaven Invades Earth”, because it sets the stage for my last large point. In the “Endorsements” section at the beginning of the book, we see that it is endorsed by John Arnott, Wes Campbell, Che Ahn, Stacey Campbell, and Todd Bentley, among others. This brings me to my point – the ministries that the 3DM founder and employees align themselves with. Now, remember, 3DM says that they work across denominational lines:
“WHAT WE BELIEVE
3DM is a training organization that works with leaders and churches of over 70 Christian denominations. We have all kinds of different backgrounds on our home team. We work with Reformed people and Anabaptists, Anglicans and charismatics (and charismatic Anglicans!).
Because of this we don't have an intricately-nuanced theological "statement", per se, but we do operate firmly within the framework of historic Christian belief. As such we adhere to the historic Christian creeds.”
I’m going to list these names and give you some indication of their beliefs with some quotes and video clips
From video of Todd Bentley’s “Apostolic Alignment/Commissioning” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqaoskr5wlc
From video of “Toronto Blessing” 20th anniversary celebration
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zgbNMhqkDw – this one features Stacey Campbell – John Arnott is up on the stage
John Arnott – founder of what is now called Catch the Fire but is better known by its former name, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. This congregation was the focal point of the so-called “Toronto Blessing” in 1994.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcMPz77I_ZQ – John and Carol Arnott interviewed about the beginning of the Toronto Blessing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlT3oaaed9U – just another day at the Toronto Blessing – starting at 20:00 it really gets odd
Wes and Stacey Campbell – co-founders of New Life Church in Kelowna, BC and RevivalNOW!
“Stacey Campbell is a prophetic voice to this generation and has a passion to teach believers to know how to hear the voice of God through proper teaching and strong values. She is the founder and facilitator of the Canadian Prophetic Council, and serves as an honorary member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, presided over by Dr. Peter Wagner and Cindy Jacobs. Stacey has been ordained by Dr. Bill Hammond and is on the apostolic team of Harvest International Ministries (H.I.M.) under Che Ahn.” (emphasis added)
Cindy Jacobs - http://www.generals.org/
“Cindy Jacobs is a respected prophet who travels the world ministering not only to crowds of people, but to heads of nations. Perhaps her greatest ministry is to world influencers who seek her prophetic advice. Her first calling is and always will be prophetic intercession. Ever since the Lord called her with the scripture, “Ask of me the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the world for your possession,” she has taken that calling seriously. She describes her call to the nations “an inverted homesickness.” Each year she travels and has spoken on nearly every inhabited continent to tens of thousands.” (emphasis added)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD6OmQe_t2U – the Seven Mountain Mandate
Jacobs is also partnered with Mike Breen’s friend, co-author, and one time church partner Walt Kallestad and his daughter Shawn-Marie Cole to organize ReignDown, a day of repentance on the National Mall. While the call to repentance is certainly biblical, what I’m trying to show is the “signs and wonders” and kingdom now/dominionist flavor of these ministries. An excerpt from an article about ReignDown:
“The event was the result of a vision in which Cole saw “seas of people, crying out to [God], saying, ‘Lord, we need you.’……. At the close of the event, Jacobs prayed that God would rain down His healing power: “We speak creative miracles—be healed in Jesus’ name. Get up out of wheelchairs, blind eyes be opened. … AIDS, leave … schizophrenia, leave. … bipolar disorder, go.”……… Kallestad, senior pastor of Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Ariz., said testimonies were flooding in from people worldwide who watched the event on God TV. He said there were reports of healings and other miracles. “People got out of wheelchairs,” Kallestad said. “We were told by God TV that they never had such a real-time response. God was just so good.” http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/33-j15/news?start=2436
Mike Breen worked with Walt Kallestad in Glendale, AZ before relocating to Pawleys Island, and they co-wrote “A Passionate Life” http://www.amazon.com/Passionate-Life-Mike-Breen/dp/B006CDN2DG
Che Ahn – Pastor of HRock Church in Pasadena, CA
“God's glory is untamable, unpredictable, and frequently provokes controversy, especially when it violates our “norms” for God….”
“Glory is the manifest presence of God, by which He reveals His character of goodness and displays His power through signs and wonders.”
“There are several ways people can encounter more of God’s glory in their lives. Another way is abiding in God – He gives His favor, humility, and holiness. People can give or receive more of God’s glory by praying for/praying to receive more of His presence. People can also go to “hot spots,” places known to receive God’s glory.”
“Receive an impartation – People can also receive an impartation from men and women of God who are being used in revival. A primary way to give or receive an impartation is through the laying on of hands.” (emphasis in original)
“One of Che’s experiences with God’s glory happened in 1995. After a month of nightly church meetings in a local auditorium, Che’s wife and young daughters opened the doors and were amazed at a vision of God’s glory – a white mist filled the building. Through the mist they saw translucent doves resting on chairs and rafters. They also saw hundreds of angels. Later that night they roused Lou Engle, who was a pastor at their church at the time and leader in intercessory prayer, to see this. Engle separately questioned the girls about what they saw and both described the same things. Engle was convinced the children were witnessing a heavenly visitation, and it lasted six months.
The next day on his way to church, Che felt an increased presence of the Lord but saw nothing. Che says in His grace, God chose to bless their church with the manifest presence of His glory. The visitation of the glory has visited Harvest (HRock) Church for 16 years. The Call was birthed out of it.” - http://www.cbn.com/700club/guests/bios/che_ahn_042704.aspx
Che Ahn also spent some time filling in for Todd Bentley at his Lakeland, FL “revival”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rATzlphH4gE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g70oTLfbvvE – Here, Ahn answers the question, “Who Are the Apostles?” and talks about the Seven Mountains mandate.
Every one of the above mentioned are involved in the “Apostolic” movement, attempting to bring God’s Kingdom on earth so that Jesus can finally return. 3DM and Wayfarer (“subsidiary” of 3DM for kids and teens) also echo this belief. In a Wayfarer small group leader’s guide called “One Charge”, we find:
“God does not only save us; He also sends us out to rule on His behalf. This is our one charge. The same God who lives in close relationship to us through covenant also calls us to the responsibility of representing Him by exercising the Kingdom authority and power He gives us. We are charged to be ambassadors and emissaries who represent our King in the world. And as we live out this one charge by being in charge thanks to God’s authority and power, we will see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
Mike Breen explains it this way: “In the life of Joseph, we see for the first time something of what the ‘rule’ of God would be like when working through a chosen representative. In the same way that we saw God refashioning a relationship with humankind through Abraham, so in Joseph we see God relaunching his plan for human representation in the world. Covenant refers to relationship. Kingdom refers to responsibility. Covenant is about identity and obedience. Kingdom (Kingship) is about authority and power.”
(Citation: Mike Breen, Covenant and Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible (Pawleys Island, S.C., 3DM, 2010) 41-42.) http://room1228.com/1228/themes/samples/OC_leadersSample.pdf
Joseph’s visions of greatness were God-given. As Mike Breen explains, “Being the ‘ruler’ over Egypt was the unmistakable calling of Joseph’s life. He was called to take on a role that God had prepared for him. Joseph’s relationship to Pharaoh is symbolic of his (and our) relationship with God. There was, of course, only one King, but he chose to rule ‘through’ Joseph. He was to become the governor of the greatest nation on the earth, and in this, he was likewise the empowered emissary of God in the world.”
(Citation: Mike Breen, Covenant and Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible (Pawleys Island, S.C., 3DM, 2010) 43.) http://room1228.com/1228/themes/samples/OC_leadersSample.pdf
The Apostolic movement is one facet of the “fivefold” movement, which holds that all five offices spoken of in the New Testament are still operative today. I’ll tell you my position right up front. I am a “cessationist” and believe that only the offices of evangelist, pastor, and teacher are still operative. Not so with all the folks mentioned above. They’ve got apostles and prophets bustin’ out all over. C. Peter Wagner considers himself and apostle who coordinates other apostles. He even has a short article differentiating the different types of apostles (http://www.apostolicparadigms.com/C__Peter_Wagner/Spheres/spheres.html)
The five fold ministry is a major tenet of latter rain/dominionist theology.
3DM is also “into” the fivefold aspect, with an online test you can take to determine your “gifting”
In this blog posting, a 3DM staffer relates an evening learning how to “hear” God using the “prophet’s triangle” while leading her Huddle of high school girls. http://wayfarer.3dmovements.com/blog/lifeshapes-with-students/
I explained to them the Prophet’s triangle… We receive a revelation from God, we interpret it with our “In” community, and then we go “Out” and apply it to our lives- or do what it is that the Lord has told us. Then I told them that we were going to practice it RIGHT then! There was absolutely NO pressure, and even if they didn’t feel like they heard a word from the Lord, got a prophetic picture, scripture verse, sense, or the like, Jesus would still be SO pleased with them that they even gave it a go!
Little did I know, that He would show up in a BIG way! I told the girls that I would put the timer on three minutes, and for them to get comfortable, close their eyes and just listen. If they needed something for their minds to grab a hold of, I told them to imagine what the eyes of Jesus would look like, and see what happened. They got comfortable, and the timer started… after three minutes, I was a little anxious to see what had happened- I was hoping that someone would have heard something! To my surprise and delight, they all told me they wished it had been longer, each had gotten a picture, and get this: one of my girls even had a trans-like experience. She said that she was sure that she had travelled to another cabin/house, and began following her dad down the hall way… and then I interrupted and said time was up! When she heard my voice snap her back into reality, and she “woke up” she said she had forgotten where she was (in my house) for a second, and swore that she wasn’t there just the second before!
In closing, I’ve written this paper because of concerns I’ve had watching this play out from a distance in the congregation of my youth, seeing family and friends I’ve known for decades get vilified for speaking out against the “official” position of the leadership and a subset of the congregants. The fruit of participating in 3DM’s methods is rotten, and I would be surprised if the congregation will exist five years from now.
I understand that several churches in the denomination I grew up in are using these 3DM materials. My question is, what does it matter who is using it, when the method and practitioners of the method raise so many red flags?
I’m a layman, an aircraft mechanic by trade, not a theologian, and I occasionally fill the pulpit at my church when the pastor’s away, hoping that the text for that Sunday is something from Romans or Galatians, because I know my limitations. I do not have any formal training in hermeneutics or exegesis, but I have my God –given reasoning skills and the ability to read, and it doesn’t take much to see that there are problems here.
Sure, 3DM claims the Apostles Creed……but we as Lutherans agree with the Roman Catholic Church on the divinity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion and Resurrection and so on. Yet even with that agreement on so much of orthodox Christian teaching, we’ve been anathema to the RCC for 500 years, because Luther saw that the Church had ADDED to the theology expressed in the Apostles Creed. When you’re adding all these aberrant teachings to your stated belief in the Apostles Creed, aren’t you essentially using a “Jesus +” theology?
My prayer is that if this warning prevents my family and friend’s experience with 3DM from happening to other congregations, I’ve done my little bit for my fellow believers. I know you’re all busy, I know there are many things vying for your time, but please take the time to examine this. The quotes aren’t ripped out of their context, and the videos speak for themselves.
I’ll ask again, “We’ve been preaching the Word and reaching out to people around us for 2000 years. Do we really need a method so convoluted as this to share the Gospel? Does discipling have to be so complicated (not to mention expensive)? Doesn’t discipling include everyone, and not just the perceived “leaders” in the congregation?”
I think you’ll find that while it uses language that makes it seem just a good, new method for helping people to grow in their Christian walk, it really is a man-centered method that divides believers and leads to dissension and strife.
10194 115th Ave NW
Thief River Falls, MN 56701
I became aware of some things happening since I finished up this paper. A man named Keith Schooley wrote a review of Mike Breen’s “Building a Discipling Culture” back in November 2013. (http://www.schooleyfiles.com/2013/11/mike-breen-and-building-discipling.html) He had experienced the 3DM method himself at his church and felt the need to share his experiences. The blog posting sat there with no comments until the first week of April, 2014. This is when the council of elders at North Heights Lutheran Church – Roseville/Arden Hills (MN) decided to end the church’s relationship with 3DM. Suddenly, the comments section of Schooley’s posting took off. You need to read between the lines on occasion, but it’s obvious some are from North Heights, one is from Summit Church in Fort Myers, FL (mentioned earlier in relation to Doug Paul), and some from Sheffield, UK.
One of the most interesting I see is posted on June 15th from Sheffield.
“Regarding loss of people from St Toms Philadelphia (NCS - now has 2 bases - did have 3, one has left). Yes true - lots of people have recently left. Leadership has been poor, secrecy has been high on the agenda. And all the leaders are TOM members, self perpetuating through the huddle system. The new leader who is supposed to have 'properly appointed' has been huddled for 7 years by the old leader (who is huddles by Breen) Even as the new leader starts work in Sheffield, he is still going to be huddles by the old leader... crazy! Straight back to shepherding movement. People are unhappy but nothing can be done as its so engrained. The church governance system is terrible. Unlike North Heights, there is no way out. Be careful if 3dm are in your church that your leaders don't dilute the council / elder ship to be powerless, citing 'apostolic leadership' as the way forward. 'Line up behind your apostle' type prophetic words - very heavy, not at all from Jesus. Believe what you will, but these people are powerful and dangerous.” http://www.schooleyfiles.com/2013/11/mike-breen-and-building-discipling.html
When looking at comments on this blog, be aware of one thing that will help you navigate it. When Keith Schooley posted his review, he never expected it to draw so many comments. Since the number of comments have exceeded the normal limit of the blog format he’s using, comments after June 15th, 2014 don’t show up. Here’s what you need to do to access later remarks. Over on the right side of the blog page, near the top, it says “Recent Comments”. Click on the top (most recent) comment under that heading on the right. Then, scroll to the bottom. Just under the last comment on the page, it will say “Loading…”. Click on the word “Loading…” and the comments beyond June 15th will load. It’s just a quirk of the blog format Mr. Schooley is using.
And I just discovered this, written by the new leader at NCS (Network Church Sheffield), Nick Allan:
“I wrote to you last week from Philadelphia airport, today I'm writing this in Toronto Airport (it's -16c so I won't complain about Sheffield weather for a while). I have been fortunate to take 2 weeks for retreat, reflection and re-envisioning firstly with the 3DM team in South Carolina, then at 'Catch the Fire' church conference, at my own expense, celebrating 20 years since the extraordinary outbreak of the Holy Spirit in Toronto, which affected the world church.
As a 20 year old student I remember the early days of that new wave of God's spirit breaking out at St Thomas' Crookes in 1994-5. What many people now accept as familiar was at the time deeply unusual and challenging. What is now common within our own church culture - like sharing words of prophecy with others, laying on hands to bless or expect healing, lengthy intimate worship times and a tangible sense of the presence of God - I would trace all of these to that era when we embraced a new thing God was doing. Most change feels odd at first, and sometimes we resist it, until we get used to it. I've committed as a church leader always to be on the look-out for God's 'new thing' and to try to embrace it. At the end of the day, this is at the heart of our Lifeshape 'Learning Circle' - always asking "what is God saying and doing?" and with repentance and faith asking "am I willing to join in?" I intend to face the changes of 2014 this way. As we press on with acting as one church - NCS - for the sake of our vision 'Calling our City Back to God' I expect it will mean changes, sacrifices, and being willing to be generous to our other bases and to Sheffield's last, least and lost. But I also know that 'God gives grace to the humble' (James 4:6) and that the prize could be the revival and transformation of Sheffield.” (emphasis added) http://www.stthomaschurch.org.uk/blogs/phillyleadershipteamblog