Generations Church wants to be the “coolest” thing in town to draw the masses into their flock. They have a slick delivery, great light show, outstanding contemporary/rock Christian worship team, and a Pastor with a quick wit that keeps the audience’s attention. It’s great entertainment for some; it’s definitely a spectacle to see. The Church believes in Prosperity doctrines, Name It – Claim It, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They profess that ALL believers can attain these gifts.
The Vision states: Win Souls and Make Disciples ...
First of all, we don’t win them, we witness to them and God calls them, they answer. Make disciples of who, Jesus or ourselves?
Generations preaches wealth and prosperity by “name it claim it” and “prosperity” teaching. If you live modestly and don’t buy the best then you don’t have “faith” that God wants you to “have the very best." You have a poverty mindset. The reason other churches don’t prosper is because they have poverty mindsets, according to Generations Church. This church wants its members to present a certain image: Sexy, fashionable, affluent and powerful. This appeals to the world, and it is the measure of success in your walk with Christ in this G12 congregation, of course - combined with the size of your “cell."
The carnal or worldly mindset of Generations uses questionable tactics in recruiting or “evangelizing” new candidates. Good-looking young ladies are dispatched to military installations to talk with Marines about coming to Church functions, services, or cells! Of course, a young man is going to be interested when he sees the display of good-looking young ladies. Ethics? Pah! The other tactic used to win is the presentation of the services. Slick showmanship gets the young people and old into the “sanctuary." Basically, worship is a mini-rock concert where everyone sings rock worship songs. That’s accentuated by an outstanding laser light show and smoke effects on stage. Then the Pastor delivers a message that is usually interesting, addressing some issue in the church or society, and inevitably he throws a barb or two in about anyone who disagrees with “his take” on the issue.
Entertainment, appealing to earthly desires, and friendships made just to manipulate people into the church are tactics used by this group.
Imagine you are downtrodden and lonely. Here comes a cute girl or guy in a brand new car with designer clothing, talking about Jesus giving it all to them. Aren’t you going to be interested? So you come into the fold to see if you too can get what they have. You go to church, where the music is loud and lively, the light show and smoke rival a concert hall, and everyone seems so sincere. They are sincere, and that’s what’s scary; but sincere about what?
You “accept Christ” after a witty sermon, and your journey begins, even though being totally new to the situation you have no idea what you’ve done. They take you in the back and get you to reaffirm your decision and your journey begins.
You are ASSIGNED a cell leader; don’t even think about CHOOSING one. For the most part a new convert is clueless as to what the Bible says or what the truth is, so they just nod and say ok. These are the converts that this church leadership likes. It’s not the convert’s fault, they don’t know any better. You go to “cell” where you are given the incessant teaching about giving extravagantly to the church in both your time and money, even if you have neither to give! Then we read a little vanilla lesson with no real substance in Scripture; or possibly a whole verse or two of Scripture, then a cute story by Max Lucado or some other inspirational leader to wrap it all up. Then pray for the people in the cell.
Your cell leader and church leadership will TELL YOU how to read and draw meaning out of your Bible and how to interpret it. You don’t know any better, so it’s all good. They will tell you what to believe and you will be given a strict model of how to do devotionals. Devotionals are REQUIRED for training in the leadership. You must find a PROMISE, COMMAND, WARNING, and APPLICATION for your life out of your daily readings, and then you write it down in a notebook or journal of some kind. They tell you that “God will speak to you during your devotional;" God will give you a RHEMA word for your situation. They neglect to tell you that Scripture always says the same thing TO ALL PEOPLE at all times, it doesn’t magically speak out of one verse in a passage. The entire passage applies ALWAYS! It doesn’t change in meaning from person to person. They will allow the new person to read the Bible under their teaching, without any contextual consideration to what is being read. This allows them to TELL you what the Bible says, through an “evolving” revelation. This also allows the new person to get all kinds of crazy ideas about what God’s Word actually says!
Then you are REQUIRED to attend an “Encounter." which is a weekend-long retreat (for lack of a better word). Here emotions run high, your past is brought up and guilt is played upon. This is where people have a major emotional experience, and where they first feel “connected” to the Vision. This is the second step in indoctrinating people into the “flock." You will leave the encounter stoked for God and His plan, but unfortunately they will corral you with the other sheep, tell you to get in line, and to not question authority as they force feed you their “G12 Vision." If you don’t go to the Encounter you will be mercilessly harassed by everyone in your cell until you do.
The instruction begins with the basics of Christian theology and beliefs at “Post-Encounter." The people are nice to you, the teachings are easy to understand and the doctrines of Generations begin to take root in your life. By now, you are probably a regular at cell, tithing 10% or more to the church (which they tell you is the only place to tithe at), and go to church once or twice a week. You don’t realize it, but you are slowly becoming isolated from the outside world. The only people that you are still friends with, or that you know are from Generations Church, and you are getting in deeper every day. Maybe you’re interested in a person in the church. To further draw you in, they will tell you that you can’t date them or “court” them until “you are up to their level spiritually," they say they don’t want to “unequally yoke you." Some cell leaders go as far as to tell you that they’ll help you “pick a suitable person when you’re ready!" Maybe you were unemployed and get a job, working for someone in the church leadership. This happens a lot; many of them own businesses and have a bit of money. Then what do you do if you want to leave the church? Your wife/husband/fiancé, job, and all of your friends are in Generations! Where do you go? Especially if you had nothing when you started! Pretty soon you are being primed to “make friends” outside the church, solely for the purpose of “bringing them to cell” or “church." You don’t mind telling people about your faith but you don’t know how. They tell you to get a hobby that will allow you to meet new people. This is not genuine love, but an underhanded way to “make numbers." They tell you that you are winning souls, but in reality you are filling the padded chairs in the auditorium with future potential TITHERS. The leaders will tell you to get people that are not going to other churches, because they say that they don’t want to “steal another ministry’s sheep” or “build on another’s foundation." If their “Vision” is the WAY then why not tell them? They’re wrong aren’t they? I believe this policy exists because people that KNOW the Bible, or at least have a clue, tend to be a bigger obstacle to church growth and indoctrination into their system, than the new person without a clue! Imagine having to justify your statements with Scripture to someone who knows as much as you do, or more, if you are the leader! The uninformed, downtrodden and desperate are easy to “save” and control, as long as no one is rocking the boat, filling their heads with “ideas." Questioners are rebels that need to be silenced before others start asking questions. If you start questioning they’ll stop you or you’ll be removed from the leadership, congregation, or both.
School of Leaders I & II
By now you’ve graduated “Post-Encounter” and you’ve been running full steam “for God” for about 3 months or so. The next step is “School of Leaders I & II," which lasts around another 6 months. School of Leaders I focuses on the Generations doctrine, their take on Scriptural foundation, the essential basics of being a Generations Christian. There are memory verses that people are required to learn to reinforce whatever point they are pushing, homework that reinforces the G12 teachings, devotionals to daily reinforce their interpretation/revelation, and a book report due at the end of each class. The whole process is a repetitive system, designed not only to teach but indoctrinate people into their way of thinking. The will of the church hierarchy is enforced by an obedient submissive cell leader structure. Remember, you are totally new to Christianity, and except for what they have taught you in past three months, you have no other foundation with which to refute anything.
The SOL I book is “Spiritual Discipleship” by J. Oswald Sanders. They picked this book to reinforce submission to authority and the discipleship that is being promoted by the leadership of the church. The author continually tells us that if we are dedicated to God then we need to sacrifice ourselves for the bigger picture of getting people saved. Generations basically questions your commitment to God with this book. You should be excited to be submissive to authority and to do whatever it takes to support the Vision, even at the expense of your personal identity, family, friends, and sanity! The philosophy imparted in this book usually makes the new convert more apt to follow without question, as a display of devotion to the Vision of the G12 church and the cell leader.
The SOL II book is “Under Cover” by John Bevere. This book will tell the indoctrinated convert to shut up, don’t question but rather hide “under the wing of your leader." Bevere rightly states that authority is granted by God, but he never tells you what legitimate authority is. By the logic in this book, the American Revolution would’ve never occurred. Anyone can be in authority by this author’s standards, and we are told to follow the authority figure through good decisions and bad, whether they lead us off a cliff or to the top of the mountain! Bevere states that we are covered from culpability and danger because the leader is responsible in God’s eyes if we are following faithfully. Bevere tells the reader that they must never be a rebel or question their leaders. Rebellion is “joked” about in the congregation, because inevitably all people rebel somehow, but rebellion is a cardinal sin in the eyes of Generations. If you do “rebel” in Generations, then you are “counseled." Sometimes this counseling will be a harsh butt-chewing at the hands of the top leadership or even the Pastor himself. They never apologize for being cruel, mean, rude, or unloving for that matter. YOU just need to get over it and get back in line. You WILL obey, or they WILL beat you into submission (emotionally), or they will discredit you, strip you of your status and cast you away. After you are gone, or if you escape, be advised that your name will be Mudd and only mentioned in whispers among the faithful and with disdain from the pulpit.
After all that work (45 weeks of school and assignments) you are supposed to replicate the cell vision by opening your own cell. Another tool of manipulation used is simply not allowing you to “open your cell." If you do something to make waves or disappoint the leader by a “major sin," then you’re looking at starting the learning process over again from day one! Some converts could care less about opening a cell and they don’t go back to train again, some even leave the church or quit the Vision at this point, but some earnestly push harder to impress their cell leader or the leadership of the church, especially if they have no other foundation or anything else to fall back on in their lives.
People are enticed by the leadership to perform with greater position. The Pastor and the cell leadership tell the congregation that people can “be called up” to a higher level in the Vision, (which resembles a pyramid scheme). He who has the biggest cell, the best image, or the biggest pockets usually wins. This fosters an insanity of competition, where numbers become more important than people, in the eyes of some of the new green leaders. These are to become “leaders of leaders," but in reality, they are blind to the fact that they are actually, “followers of followers," who are not allowed to speak up when they think something is amiss. The only “true leader” in this system is the Pastor; and even he has submitted to Caesar Castellanos. Who is running this show anyway?
When you are sufficiently indoctrinated and submissive to your leader’s authority, then they unleash you on society. You go out and begin the process over again, propagating the same message to some new unfortunate person.
Did Jesus force His authority on anyone? No, He was gentle. Did Jesus condone wealth or physical beauty? No, He told the rich to sell all they had and give to the poor and follow Him; He was never described as not being “exceptionally good looking” or anything to be “desired” while in His ministry on Earth, in fact He was described as ordinary looking in some passages. His ministry and His love for people is what saved them. He saved them when they believed and had faith in Him. Jesus didn’t care who you were, how you lived, or what you owned, if you had faith and wanted to repent.
Jesus was God the Son. He was never prideful or self-serving. Jesus never coerced anyone by manipulation or domination. He simply loved everyone and they responded by following HIM.
Remember, Jesus doesn’t want or need your money, but He wants us to give. He wants you to provide for those in need, not just fill the church coffers. Jesus doesn’t care about your outsides; He wants your insides to be clean. Jesus doesn’t refuse to answer questions, commanding you to blindly follow, He answers them all. Jesus is the truth, way and the life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. The Vision is not the way to heaven, JESUS IS. Devotion to a leader is not the way to eternal life. Discipleship should produce Jesus-like people, not leaders in the Vision.
The summation of the Law and the Prophets, loosely interpreted is, Love God first above all else, then love others as you love yourself; this is Jesus’ revelation, not anyone else’s. Works are a result of faith and love, and they are not a requirement for salvation, but instead an outward sign of a changed heart. Working to promote the Vision above all things is not working for Christ. It is putting the Vision on the throne, creating a system which becomes an idol. Christ’s burden is light, but the G12 yoke is a millstone to many people, Generations wants it all: your time, your money, and your devotion to the Vision without question.
We are told to test all things! Question all things freely to determine if they are true and of God. Don’t believe everything you are taught. Read the Bible for yourself and get a good commentary, for when you just “don’t get it." Read a book on basic Christian principles and you will see similarities, but you won’t see where Jesus tells you to submit without question to another fallible human being as your personal discipler.
G12 will tell us that God puts authority in our lives for a reason and that we need to submit or we are in opposition to God. My question is: When did God put them in authority? Did I miss the coronation, or did they assume the position on their own right, claiming divine appointment? We need to be careful who we follow, or they may just lead us blindly into a ditch, all the while smiling and professing love for all.
It is ok to be a sheep in the flock, but being a blind sheep will get you eaten by the wolves.
Let he or she who has ears hear. Let he or she who has eyes see.
In God’s Service and in Jesus name, may the truth be revealed to all people!
Former member and senior leader, Generations Church