12/31/20212 min read

Have you ever felt trapped in a situation where you weren’t sure how to get out? I think we’ve all had this happen to us, but what if you have systematically turned over control to a group and allowed them to control you? It can happen easier than you think, and it is the difference between being trapped or entrapped.

Ronald M. Enroth writes in Churches That Abuse:

Control-oriented leadership is at the core of all such churches. These spiritual power holders become strong role models, and their dogmatic teaching, bold confidence, and arrogant assertiveness become powerful forces of influence. They use their spiritual authority to intimidate the weak and those who consider leaving their flock…

One way to stealthily domineer over people is to take away outside influences. This can be done in the form of isolation from families, a change in careers, or with those in ministry, it can be isolating them from the outside influences of the former ministry. When the unsuspecting congregant yields up to their control over their own lives and essentially gives away every form of independence, they have much a better chance of staying committed to the group.

I’ve personally seen this and experienced this at Grace Fellowship. I’m aware of many that were pulled into a dead-end job working for one of the leading families.

Well-known evangelist Tony Miano has recently announced he is closing the doors on his personal ministry called Cross Encounters. He has handed over the reins of ministry to the elders of GFC. The process of doing this has been going on for quite some time but is apparently now complete. Tony claims he is now a free man. There is a lot more to say about this move on his part, but what Tony may not realize is he has been fully drawn into the web of GFC’s leadership. Ironically, the whole of Tony's argument would disqualify the very men he claims to be under their authority. Mike Reid has no formal training, no formal sending, and is under no authority but himself. Even though he will claim the plurality of one-minded elders provides balance.

Tony admits that he was never fully under any kind of authority, but now he has found Utopia. Since his arrival, Tony has seen close to ten different families leave GFC. He has seen each of those families excommunicated and shunned. Some of them had been out on the streets with him regularly, and he regularly posted about how much he loved them. I wish Tony would read Churches That Abuse. The irony continues to drip from this article and one must wonder, given the overwhelming evidence of abuse coming out of GFC if it is a qualified ministry itself?

Tony has an advantage that most families that leave GFC don’t have. He has an intensely loyal group of people that would drop everything to help him. Even those that he has systematically kicked to the curb. I can promise they stand ready to help if he would leave.

More to come on this topic.