Great Commission Apologizes

Excerpted material from a published a 13-page statement 1992

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

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."

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