Breaking the Culture of Control

Wayne follows up last week's conversation with the Manteits, to look at how often religious systems will use fear as a means to control their adherents. In their attempts to keep people on the "straight and narrow" they do so by promoting fear that to move away from the institution or the leadership is to expose yourself to great danger of being deceived or even "losing their salvation." In the end, however, their need for control undermines their ability to help people trust the real Shepherd of the sheep and know how safe they are in him. God never uses fear to invite people into his life, and those who do on his behalf only prove by doing so that they do not know the Father and do not speak for him. When you embrace Jesus as your shepherd, you will never have to be afraid again.

Podcast Links:
Previous podcast with the Manteit family
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  1. Thanks Wayne for another great podcast.

    I am listening to this on a special occasion, this the third anniversary of my 39th year (lol). What a great birthday present.

    I have to say, the previous year had it in some painful moments, the culmination of which happened yesterday when I was informed I was being passed over for a promotion. Also the further disinegration of an over 30-year friendship which devolved into a controlling situation, much like what was discussed here the past two weeks at the corporate level. Also, watching my father sink further into the horror of mental illness which is beyond anyone’s control.

    I have to conclude, life s-u-c-k-s. not life sucks, but God is good, just simply, life sucks! (Save the platitudes please church people!). I get what they are trying to say, but Wayne as you said in the podcast, to allow people to go through what they have to go through, whether you are in full agreement or not, is the best gift you can give someone. Today I need that gift. Let me share that gift with others as well.

  2. @Ron-Sorry to hear about that pain. I am also experiencing Jesus walking me through hurt that is very deep…family dynamics broken through a need for control and yes it “sucks”. Father has chosen unexpected places to remind me that He is with me in this. Like the notes Wayne rec’d, at this moment there is profound lonliness where although it would be wonderful to have ppl who could just “let me be me”…right now He is walking with me through a situation where deep conversations are not possible. (Although the dialogue with Him is growing richer and more intimate.) To know that we can trust our Shepherd with our gifts, with our futures and with our pain is indeed a gift.

  3. Love the Manteits! An amazing journey they have been on……so enjoyed the conversations we had in their garage too…. even though they weren’t one on one. Thanks so much for coming to Australia

  4. Ron

    I am right with you on that one. There are many times life just sucks. No ifs or buts. Sorry you’re having a hard time right now. Sounds really tough.

  5. “Two years in the wilderness is nothing compared to two more years in a highly controlled, fear-based environment.”

    Amen. It comes down to choose your poison.

  6. Thanks again Wayne. In our earlier emails you were encouraging me to encourage others in their journey of discovery and these last two pod casts just filled my tank. Although, in listening to this I have come to realized just how destructive the environment I just came out of really was, and has made my heart break even more for the friends and “family” I left behind in that church. As I listened tonight I just asked Father to show me what I need to say, do and not say and do to encourage those of my friends who are at the same point I was 2 years ago as I tried to disentangle myself from the church I was in. I thank Father for giving you this topic and the points you made and the scriptures you shared. You are a blessing Wayne.

  7. Thanks again for this Wayne.

    Please keep on ‘keeping on’. Jesus has you as a guiding light on a dark and winding road.

  8. I appreciated Joyce’s comments from the previous podcast. It’s not always the angry person that is the indicator to RUN. Sometimes it can be someone who is very clever with words, who knows how to tap into your sense of shame and then “helps” you find a way out, his way; all for the sake of the movement. The manipulator I knew used to share things about others “off the record”, and he would say “I’ve got to love them, then smack them between the eyes with what they need to do” (the words he would use literally, not physically), or “they are easy to manage”. It always caused me to question “what does he say about me to others ‘off the record’?” It caused fear and generated performance, the latter which was especially beneficial for this “radical” movement/Christian mission organisation (the control isn’t always within a Church!!!)

    Loved the analogy of the Israelites in slavery in Egypt. Many times when we were trying to leave but financially couldn’t physically move away, I would think of that verse “let my people go!” So glad to now be enjoying freedom!

    At other times, when God’s love overwhelmed any sense of shame, I have looked at what the leaders have done and thought as Jesus prayed on the cross “forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. It’s a peaceful place to be. I love knowing that it’s God’s job to convict wrong doings.

    I think one of the hardest things with breaking the culture of control is living with (saying “no” to) the sense of shame that comes from having been one of those who equally imposed this culture on others on behalf of the leader, as was imposed on me. I’d love to hear from others how they have journeyed through – from being a controller and hurting others, to living in God’s love and trusting him, and repairing damage caused. There are moments when I’m so grieved knowing I’ve unintentionally hurt others.

    It’s easy to blame the leader for the situations we find ourselves in, but the reality is we all have a choice. Finding the abode of love and trust in God’s arms is the place where fear of the unknown is able to be tackled head-on!

    Makes me realise how powerful shame can be! And how more powerful the cross is where shame is resolved in Christ.

    These podcasts reminded me of the “Spiral of Silence” podcasts (January 2013).
    PS. Great to hear Aussie voices!!!!!

  9. One of my favorite Waynisms is “nobody gets lost following Jesus” and several times in this podcast he added how people do get lost following human beings. I am beginning to think I don’t even want to refer to myself as a Christian. We are not known for our love. (as per the Barna group). These kinds of cults is what we are known for in the world today. Just so sad on so many levels.

    Twenty three years ago our third son was very ill and almost died at the age of two. A friend of mine was pretty involved in a very fundamentalist group and wanted to lay hands on our son. I was on my way to hospital. I met her at a parking lot and she laid hands on him and prayed and said “if only we had done this with Daniel ( our son who had died of SIDS) he would be alive.” The emotions that weld up inside of me are to this day indescribable. So many times I wish I had said what was on my heart but I was very angry. Appalled really. These beliefs that are fear based are so destructive to all of us. Her statement like Liz’s sister is so harmful to our connections. God knows all of it. And by the way of Grace we both have grown into deeper space with Jesus.

    It hurts my heart for the people who are trapped in these systems because its for our Freedom that Jesus died. To stay in shackles and long for Egypt is a way of living less loved. I wonder how many times a day, maybe in more subtle ways, because I am living,moving, breathing in spirit of fear instead of Love and that is how I live less loved. To walk in Love and Freedom is frightening but we are not alone. Never alone.
    Thanks to the Manteits and those who share their fears on this forum. Great courage to follow the Spirit and share your journey reality with us.

  10. Joni,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. What arrogance to think that we are God’s conduit for all matters of healing, that unless God works through us, he doesn’t work at all.

    I like this ‘Letter From God’, seems to sum it all up for me…

    To: YOU
    Date: TODAY
    From: GOD
    Reference: LIFE

    This is God.Today I will be handling All of your problems for you. I do Not need your help. So, have a nice day.

    I love you.

    And, remember…

    If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do Not attempt to resolve it yourself !! Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. I will get to it in MY TIME. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.

    Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now.

    If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don’t despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

    Should you have a bad day at work; Think of the man who has been out of work for years.

    Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; Think of the person who has never known what it’s like to love and be loved in return.

    Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.

    Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance; Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

    Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror; Think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

    Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn’t live long enough to get the opportunity
    Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; Remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them!

    Should you decide to send this to a friend; Thank you, you may have touched their life in ways you will never know!

    Now, you have a nice day,


  11. Another survivor here in Australia! I was in a Pentecostal/Charismtic version & had the fear & manipulation extreme version, yuk yuk yuk. Been out for about 4 years now & have not ever heard from anyone since, I thought I had good connection with those I had walked with for 12 years. I grieved but didn’t look back.

    Love Joni’s comment about a Wayneism “no one can get lost following Jesus”.

    Thank you for another helpful podcast.

  12. I too spent 20+ years in an organization that controlled much of our lives. Being told that if you weren’t part of this religion, you would be destroyed much like those in Noah’s day who did not enter the ark. Looking back at why I was drawn into this religion made me wonder if growing up in an abusive home where boundaries are crossed and as a child not feeling safe. I think that I was looking for a “safe” place with clear boundaries, of course I didn’t find what I was looking for. I don’t know if that is common or not. Over the years Father would give me glimpses of what his love looked like, but I was a slow learner. But I’m glad to be free of that oppressive life. It took years to feel ok to make friends away from that religion. But I never look back anymore and am finding greater freedom. I really appreciate this podcast and the great comments and thoughts.

  13. What is expressed in this podcast could not be a more perfect description of where I still feel like I’m at many times (lonely). Though it is true that I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat for the reasons Wayne states.
    This podcast also spells out what my heart aches for my siblings (who are still buying into this culture of conformity and control) to see and understand. Not that by understanding their journey should or would look like mine. I understand that. I trust the spirit of God in them to be their teacher and I’m thankful that it is not my duty or my responsibility to try to open their eyes. Though I rest in knowing they have true hearts for the Lord, I know the barriers that conformity and control build. And I literally hurt for them. I pray they can come to see it for what it is.
    Mostly, I would love to set them in front of this podcast and then crawl inside their heads to see how they respond. Joking…. kind of 🙂

  14. Thanks Wayne for the encouragement and excellent advice. This podcast is one of my favorites, it seems to sum up a lot of the advice I have heard from you and Brad since I started listening.
    I It’s like you went ahead and placed warning signs in front of several potential pitfalls one encounters along the way.


  15. These podcasts were sad and troubling. I’m so sorry to hear what these people are going through. So sorry that Jesus is portrayed so horribly by these type of people. So unhappy that con men and sociopaths get get away with using God.

    I do have a concern that this group was not named here. After some research I found them. This is not a legalistic church! This group is a “Christianized” cult. They use obscure scriptures out of context, focus on making as much money for the leaders as possible, use vague confusing concepts that highlight the use of special numbers and mystical allegories and use social manipulation to control. They also all use a name format for their church that is often used in the U.S. by normal evangelical churches.

    I still believe there are good churches that God uses to nurture and protect believers, especially young believers. It bothers me that we collude with a cult by keeping their name secret and risk these good groups being confused with them. Sorry for the soapbox, but I just am not into secrecy anymore. I think it is ultimately destructive.

  16. Hi again Wayne,

    Just finished listening to this second podcast on the spirit of control within the church as I was getting through my ironing.

    I cannot begin to put into words how much your words have ministered to me yet again. I was specially touched by what you shared about the fear or anxiety of what will happen to our children’s spiritual development if taken out of Sunday school/church? God forbid we encourage them to seek God for themselves. Forgive the redundancy! I experienced this fear personally as I left my church two years ago. In my heart I knew that it is the parents’ responsibility to lead our children by example and that it is not good parenting to shortchange your children by lumping them in a Sunday school session which is often led by people we hardly know, and expect other people to bring our children up in the faith which is an honour and a privilege given by God to us as parents.

    I also related so much to your point about the star scoring system used during children’s ministry sessions. My son was diagnosed with mild Autistic Spectrum Disorder a year ago, and at the time we were part of our church we were not aware of this but every bone in my body was telling me our son was not getting much out of these Sunday school sessions. Further than that he had a physical aversion to going into his group every single Sunday. In our ignorance and utter determination to conform with the church’s ways we forced our son to attend most Sundays until gradually I began to realise that what I was doing was intrinsicaly wrong and abominable to God. How would my child learn to seek God for himself if everything about a relationship with God was translated for him into a sense of obligation, being forced to do what he did not want to do, and his parents putting their commitment to their church above the love for their son. I feel so ashamed that we put both our children through that. Worst part of all is knowing that our son was deemed naughty and even disruptive when in reality due to his learning difficulties he was unable to even process any of the information he was being given during Sunday school.

    My husband is still part of that church though God has began to open up his eyes to the fact that we all have a direct line to HIM and need not be subjected to the control and manipulation of the so called leaders or elders, even pastors. My marriage has often been on the brink of breaking because of the pressure put on our relationship by the fact that I could no longer be a part of something which drowned out the Spirit of God within me and my husband holding me responsible for neglecting the spiritual development of our children by taking them out of the church. In these past two years since I left he has begun to see where I was coming from but the claws of the system are deeply entrenched in those who belong to it and only the power of our mighty God is able to release us from such chains. I continue to pray daily that my husband will be broken loose of those chains very soon. Our relationship remains strong despite our ups and downs due to disagreements over the church system and this is testimony to God’s grace and the promise that His Will will be done.

    I also broke down into tears as you mentioned about the cost of leaving the system, losing friends who previously were so dear to one. I still desperately long for those kinds of bonds with people. I feel like a loner a lot of the time and it is a daily practice of picking up my cross and carrying it as I pray to God for bringing alongside me new people who will share my journey with me. So far he has placed people like this in my path but they are mainly in the States. Last year I travelled to California with my family and my parents and we were able to meet up with a wonderful man of God called Larry who I met thorugh my blog. He has been a wonderful source of encouragement and a prophetic voice in my life who has helped me through this very painful journey of leaving the system. Though I left it two years ago, the Spirit of God has been whispering to me about this for years, but I was too scared and too much of a coward to leave it all behind and start afresh on my own. I knew leaving would rock my world upside down and who chooses to go knowingly and willingly into such turmoil?

    Anyway, as painful and lonely as this journey is, I feel a peace within which does surpass all understanding and I feel secure in my choices and God is given me strength and courage daily to push through. I am in a wilderness still but trusting that I am here because God wanted me to, and I am now beginning to recognise how deep the love of the Father is for nudging me so many times to see what I refused and others persuaded me to refuse to see.

    Thank you for opening up your site to allow people to unload all their baggage and to open up wounds that have not completely healed. I thank God that he has used your podcasts to allow me to see light at the end of this very dark and lonely tunnel. I trust that as I have been encouraged, hundreds of others will find their way back to the Father through you.

    God bless you.


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