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Great Commission Apologizes to Students, Parents

Cult Observer Report

The 76-church strong Great Commission Association of Churches
has published a 13-page statement "Recognizing early errors
and weaknesses in the development" of the organization and promising
that reforms are achieved or underway. The statement apologizes
specifically for being elitist and defensive in the face of
criticism, failure to allow for differing viewpoints in scriptural
matters, and failure to distinguish between scrip-tural commands,
principles, and personal preferences.

    Regarding "authoritarian" or insensitive leader-ship,"
the signatories say "we acknowledge that there were instances
where some of us in our immaturity tended to lead more by coercion
and compulsion than by inspiration and example . . . At times,
we were overly directive in the personal affairs of church
members . . .  we did not always distinguish between a command
and a principle and so may have treated a scriptural principle
as a command. The consequence was that a person who had received
counsel in some area might feel compelled to act in what he
believed was obedience to a scriptural command when, in fact,
the area was one where he was free to choose how a scriptural
principle applied.

    " . . . It is our desire and prayer that individuals will
develop personal convictions based on God's Word, not simply
their pastor's opinion.

    " . . . Our zeal for evangelism . . . resulted in a lack
of emphasis on the value of a college education. . . In most
cases, this lack of emphasis on education resulted in a failure
by church leaders to stress to students the importance of committing
their time and effort to excelling in their studies, and the
resulting belief that involvement with church activities was
more important than schoolwork. In some cases, students at
some of our churches were encouraged to leave school so they
would be more free to 'serve the Lord.'

    "Our failure to stress to college students the value of
pursuing their education was also, in some cases, a failure
on our part to help those students honor the parents who had
sent them to college. Overall, we tried to strongly encourage
students to love and respect their parents, and to view their
parents as God's authorities in their lives. However, by not
actively supporting the commitment the parents had made to
a college education for their child, we implicitly encouraged
some students to choose to leave college, contrary to the wishes
of their parents. This undoubtedly caused some strife within
these families and contributed to strained relationships between
students and their parents. For this we apologize.

    " . . .  Currently there is, in our churches located in
college communities, a strong emphasis on pursuing a college
education and the importance of excelling in that pursuit .
. .

    " . . . Concerning a student's relationship to his or her
parents, Great Commission Ministries staff persons are encouraged
to help students learn to honor and respect their parents and
to publicly teach the Bible's clear instruction on the subject.
In addition, our staff personnel manual provides informa-tion
on how student leaders can help students to love and respect
their parents in practical ways. Finally, seminars on the subject
are given at staff training conferences.

    "We realize that a number of individuals made poor decisions
concerning their education and careers partially because of
our encouragement or because of the examples they saw in our
churches. To these people, we offer our sincere apology and
regret that our mistakes contributed to career decisions that
caused problems, financial or otherwise."

The Cult Observer Vol. 9. No. 1, 1992.