Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement Paperback – June 1, 1992
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Vicki holds a Batchelor of Science and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Ohio University and is a Professional Clinical Counselor at Health Recovery Services in Athens. Her journey of recovery both from a fringe church experience and from extensive childhood sexual abuse has been an inspiration to all who hear her lively workshops.
Ron holds the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary and the Ph. D. in Counselor Education from Ohio University. He is also licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor in Ohio. He has worked for 9 years at the world's only residential facility for ex-members of abusive groups. In that time he has helped hundreds of survivors of abusive families and groups. Ron is active in research and has presented studies at several national conferences. He has appeared on several news programs and on the Montel Show.
Top customer reviews
during its most popular time. The book is a good read for anyone who has suffered from that movement or who
is trying to help someone recover from it. It is a hidden fact that shepherding is alive and well today, only it has been
quietly renamed or ignored and has entered into many word of faith churches and other groups of churches. Its
tenants are still popular, unquestioned, accepted as if they were Biblical, and as dangerous as ever. The idea that a Christian must have another person over him or her, somewhat like an intermediary between him or her and God, to guide and correct, is a popular concept but it is unbiblical. A Christian is to learn to trust God and His Holy Word for guidance. A Christian has the Holy Spirit living within him or her. To depend upon a "spiritual father" or mentor can be very dangerous and can also promote prolonged dependency upon man rather than God. There are many examples of spiritual abuse and unnecessary shipwreck suffered by all types of Christians from this teaching, which is still unquestioned and popular. The idea that if you obey the authority over you, you will automatically be obeying God, is not Biblical for a New Covenant Christian. Pastors, leaders and authorities make mistakes. It happens often. Even if well intended, a Christian cannot offer the excuse that they were merely "obeying orders" and hence are not responsible for what happened. Authority extends only with responsibility and only goes as far as it lines up with the Word of God.
Although the Shepherding Movement itself collapsed due to the massive amounts of spiritual abuse that resulted,
it still is alive and well. Does your pastor teach or imply that if you don't obey his every whim you are sinning or rebelling?
Are you threatened in sermons, or in personal meetings, that if you leave the "covering" of your church something horrible
might happen to you? Are you expected to obey without questioning even in non moral things which the Bible leaves
as a grey area? Are you considered unspiritual if you don't sign up for church mentoring? Are you treated as if you are
too new in your faith to do anything of substance? Are you treated like a naughty child and expected to spend vast hours
volunteering for the menial jobs in your church before you will be considered for serving in an area that actually interests you?
Do your church, pastors or leadership make constant demands upon your loyalty and obedience instead of serving you
and caring about God's call on your life? Are you not allowed to speak up or express conflicts, hurts, and disagreements and could doing so result in your being asked to leave your church or shunned? This is a very current issue in the church today. This book gives a detailed personal story that will help you understand this vital problem. Here are some examples that
could possibly indicate shepherding ideas or practices going on. Remember a church will normally not acknowledge that
they are practicing shepherding, or say that it was extreme back then but now it's different. Some possible symptoms
that are common: Being required to get the pastor's approval to marry someone. This isn't the same as a preparation course that every young couple goes through. It is a personal session in which often the couple will be slammed as to what
their faults supposedly are and they will be held to someone else's ideal for marriage which very well may not match them and
which isn't in the Bible. Accountability groups of all kinds, in which you are pressured to, or expected to, confess sins to
others in the group. Sermons on the authority of the pastor, how to submit to your pastor, and the like. Biblical leadership authority is NOT like authority in the world, which tends to be hierarchical, and enforced upon you. Biblical leadership
is supposed to be by example, not by force and not for money (money should not be the main motive). Biblically you are required to examine all teachings, manifestations, etc by the Word and not expected to just accept everything because a leader
says to. Also you are to follow a leader (or anyone else) only so much as they are following the Word of God and no more.
God never asks us to blindly submit and obey. This could bring tragedy. Reading this book will show you in action why this
false teaching is so dangerous and how to recognize and avoid it.
However, the stories, and especially Ron's life story, which is the majority of the book, are very valuable. They give you a personal understanding for what it was like in at least the official Mobile-based part of the movement. It's actually very sad that such a cultish world could be created by men who were not intending to do so, and otherwise taught orthodox doctrine. And it's especially sad to see a promising young couple give such a large portion of their lives to this.
I would recommend that you also read S. David Moore's book on the Shepherding Movement if you want a more complete picture-- I believe that neither book stands on its own. Those seeking to build new church structures where Godly authority is present would do well to read both. It was not that all of the new emphases of the movement were wrong, but it was the case that certain emphases were unbalanced enough to hurt a lot of people, and we should be careful to avoid those, and take responsibility for our teachings if people are hurt.
In another book: "The Drift Into Deception" Agnes C. Lawless and John W. Lawless write:
"In the 1970s and 1980s the Shepherding movement was considered by some as the fastest growing element of fundamentalist Christianity.
It is rightly seen as one of the leading proponents of authoritarianism"
I would give the would-be reader a serious warning against "Damaged Disciples".
Within the first chapter, the authors rightly use the words "devastation", "broken homes", "broken marriages" and "broken lives".
But as the book progresses the writing takes a subtle shift.
Instead of showing the reader how to identify warning signs of the shepherding movement and its abuses, by divulging real life events, the authors increasingly can be found actually PROMOTING the shepherding mantras.
First, comes the defense chapters for all of the leaders, who (You should know if you've read other documentaries of the shepherding movement) were the engineers of the abusive system.
Next, one by one, the inner teachings of the shepherding movement are meticulously expounded.
Many fallacious arguments to get the reader to accept the teachings ensue.
By the time I got to chapter 4 "Pillars of Heaven" I jolted my head up and said "MY GOD, THIS BOOK IS NOT EXPOSING THE SHEPHERDING MOVEMENT, ITS PROMOTING IT!!"
I cannot tell you the author's true intent.
I can only suspect that the authors still embrace the vast majority of the Shepherding teachings and this book is an attempt at doing damage control.
Most recent customer reviews
have been victimized by it.Read more