“This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” Galatians 5:8-9
ever-increasing, one small grain of leaven at a time until it has achieved its end.
During the 80’s, I belonged to a small denominational church in a farming town in Oregon. After attending with my husband and children for several months, the pastor resigned and moved on to another state. I remember sitting in the congregation listening to the new pastor preach his first sermon and feeling uncomfortable with some of his sermon points. But not wanting to be a harbinger of doubt and dissension, I decided to put my apprehension aside and adopt a “wait and see” posture. As time went on and I became increasingly involved with the church ministry and programs, I continued to encounter doctrinal differences that I disagreed with but felt the need to compromise for the “good of the ministry.” At the time, it seemed the equitable thing to do. (Of course, looking back, I can see the path to deception being subtly and craftily laid.) And over time, I began to embrace some of the doctrines that had made me uncomfortable in the beginning. After all, I did want to maintain an open mind to different interpretations of scripture and challenging concepts. The Pastor was the authority and my spiritual leader and I wanted to support him as I knew was what God would want.
It was 1984 (ironically!) when the Vineyard Movement came into full swing. And my pastor embraced it will all his heart and soul. Signs and wonders, the sign gifts (healing, tongues, casting out demons etc) became the focal point of the teaching from the pulpit and “power evangelism” (the above signs used to evangelize) became the key ministry of the church. Healing meetings, casting out demons, prayer weekends and “name it and claim it” practices became the focus. Church members were sent to Dallas to learn of this new way of reaching the lost souls of our community. Ministry teams were formed with such names as Healing Team, Prayer Team, Worship Team and so on. Lay Pastors were chosen to lead their “flocks” and tend to their needs upholding the doctrine and ministry of the church. It was the “prosperity gospel” in a nutshell with the emphasis on developing one’s ability to command of the power of heaven and perform signs and wonders, albeit, in the name of Jesus. At first, all of it seemed so plausible and exciting. We were doing great things, or so we were told. My husband was a Lay Pastor and I was a worship leader, Bible Study teacher and worked with the Children’s ministries. We spent most of our spare time working with the church and serving in the Soup Kitchen ministry we had started. As I continued to compromise and ignore the twinges of error in the way our church was headed, I found myself questioning the fundamental doctrines I had been taught early in my Christian walk. My spirit was uneasy and yet, I so wanted to believe this new way of thinking. So did most of the congregation, spurred on by the desire to be like God. We were so zealous that we became blinded and sure enough, little by little, Darkness came to our little church in Oregon and nearly destroyed it.