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This video of Gov. Palin speaking at her former Pentecostal church in Wasilla, Alaska has sparked a healthy number of news stories from major media outlets such as The New York Times and National Public Radio, not to mention in the blogosphere.

Despite all the quotes being pulled and examined, I was unfamiliar with the phrase “Master’s Commission” she uses to address a group of students at the service. The Website for the Master’s Commission in Wasilla states:

“Master’s Commission Wasilla Alaska will give you a creative opportunity to set yourself aside for 9 months by becoming a 24/7 ministry student, where you will be launched on a journey To Know God And To Make Him Known. This Foundation will carry you for the rest of your life regardless of where you go in God.

During your time at MC:WA you will be trained and matured in the prophetic gifts, prayer and intercession. You will experience worship possibly like you never have before. You will be involved in evangelism in many different forms from illustrated sermons to one on one street ministry.”

From watching their promotional videos and reading some other literature, Master’s Commission programs across the U.S. have some variation when it comes to curriculum and schedule, but these full-immersion ministry programs train young men and women (generally 18-25 years old) by emphasizing the memorization of Scripture, prophesying, community service, and spreading God’s word and converting people to be followers of Jesus Christ.
The ministry program in Wasilla sees the state of Alaska as a land of “divine destiny” and a center for a new great awakening and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in which the state motto (“North to the Future”) is a prophetic indicator:

“Alaska is a mission field within itself, it has over 200 distinct people groups and most can only be reached by air. Flying only a few hours out of Wasilla is like flying to another country just because of the great cultural differences within the different parts of our state.”

I’m curious to know more about these types of ministry programs and their impact. I’d love to hear better detail and some personal experiences. Help?


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30 Comments

Type your comment here I have been introduced to the master's commission throught the actions and efforts of my "god daughter" and her friends. Over the last two years I've been involved in a number of social events where one of the local masters commission groups would show up and have supper and a good time. From what I was told a number of these kids had come from abusive home lives, some were living on the street before being picked up into the program. They lived in dormitory like situations and were active in a local sponsoring church.

I was very impressed with the way these kids comported themselves. I cannot offer more details about the program because I'm not affiliated with the church or the program in anyway.

When I first heard about the program, my instincts were aroused, I suspected some sort of "brain washing". At this point I do not believe that is occuring. Many of these kids had had been tossed out of family and their community. Some of these kids came from loving homes. In their lives and stories, to the extent that I know them, I saw a commitment and love of Jesus that motivated their weltenschang and their love of others. Many of them express a continued desire to enter into some form of a permanent ministry.

I look forward to hearing more about what you learn about this group.

Nimrod Scott
In Alabama

Thanks for the insight. I wasn't skeptical so much as trying to understand the dynamic of the Master's Commission and its role in various churches. The program's not quite a youth program in the way that kids and teenagers convene after school to have fun and talk about their personal faith and do some social service; and it doesn't seem quite the same as a seminarian/pastor-in-training approach. I guess I'm likening it more to the two-year mission work that many young LDS members do sometime after high school and before family life.

Disclaimer: I've done a bit of searching and the closest I've come to understanding the meaning of "weltenschang" is something akin to a cognitive worldview. But this translation doesn't seem to be adequate in the context of which you used the term.

MC sounds similar to Youth with a Mission's discipleship training schools (DTS), residential programs where (most often) young people are taught to discern their gifts and deepen their relationship with God. A close friend completed a DTS in rural Colorado, and-- like Nimrod observed of MC students-- left the program with greater clarity, compassion, a mature perspective on kingdom-building and shalom, and a desire to engage the world's problems with integrity. 8 years later, she coordinates HIV programs in Mozambique, particularly caring for "widows and orphans." To a great degree, she attributes her formation to the DTS experience. She says the other participants were equally impacted.

Thanks for the story about your friend, Patrick. Is your friend currently located in Mozambique? Doing mission work or working for an NGO? I have to admit that I wasn't raised in an evangelical environment, so I'm still trying to fully understand some of the language that's used when talking about one's calling and living out faith. For example, the term "kingdom-building." Greg Boyd and Chuck Colson used this quite a bit at the National Pastors Convention this year.

Could you tell me more about what you mean by "a mature perspective on kingdom-building" and "a desire to engage the world's problems with integrity?"

Hey Trent - this was a very interesting piece - I'm interested that you're interested!

For 10 years my work was running programmes similar to this, in Ireland, and overseas - residential, community-living, faith-formation programmes... I have many thoughts. On the one hand, they provide a beautiful environment for people to experience some kind of community of faith. The unlikely friendships that grow are often lifelong, and the sometimes jarring experience of intercultural cohabitation are very educational... my motivation in working on these programmes was because of the possibility of bringing a diverse group of people together to experience a diversity of perspectives on faith, and to learn how to ask questions about what might our faith mean in the world.

Some of the things that I found difficult were the emphasis on things like "passion" and "truth" this seemed problematic - as sometimes passion and truth could be emphasised simplistically at the expense of highlighting the complicated realities of trying to apply sacred text to today's realities - whether in politics, or theological debates, or discussions about sexuality, or discussions about what it means to live a Christian life. I found that much of the emphasis was on a process of inner-conversion of the individual - and that purity and repentance from 'personal sin' was given far more time than things such as engagement in society etc... My experience was that many (not all, but many) of these programmes weren't very interdenominational - opting for some kind of lowest common denominator blend of biblical interpretation that was more evangelistic-driven than theologically-driven. The Outreach phases of some of these courses can also be about see 'the world' as containing those who need to be saved - sometimes even regular church-going folk are considered as 'just religious', with an implicit judgment that the religious nature of these people isn't authentic...leading, sometimes, to what I would consider to be a very particular way of delineating people into 'us' and 'them'.

That said, as Patrick mentions (hello Patrick!) there are folk who have gone on to do truly amazing things as a result of these courses - I know of many such people...I worked for 10 years with these groups, and can look back on these years as fruitful years, and (hopefully!) ones that contributed somewhat to the wider society through community engagement. As with many endeavors, there are many stories that go to tell the bigger story.

Essay over. Good night - I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Padraig, it's nice to hear from you after a brief hiatus. Thanks for your essay. *grin* I wrote a lengthy one of my own and then my Mac ran out of juice before I could submit. This is probably all for the best so that I can focus on one point you made.

The growth experience of working on SOF is actually realizing and acknowledging that many personal truths coexist in the world -- that they should live together, even in tension with one another. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that they peacefully coexist or that one doesn't trump the other in certain political or theological hierarchies. In my immediate circle of friends who are non-religious and secular for the most part, the same could be said for "applying" their foundational texts of NPR or the NYT or Marx's manifesto. People sometimes wield this knowledge as a weapon, an instrument intent on blunting the conversation and winning rather than informing and serving as an entry point to dialogue about religion and politics and arts and so on. Simply put, we don't get to know and understand one another better.

I don't come from an evangelically driven world, but I do want to know more about why these types of programs seem to be so effective and attract many good people. I'm learning that sometimes good theology is not enough and is not what stirs people to action. Perhaps there is a certain elegance in the simplicity of a message and a singular purpose, whether it's to share one's conversion experience or lead people to a happier life through God or education or work. I acknowledge that I don't entirely understand the motivating factors (and I probably will never fully comprehend them); I just hope that exceptionalism doesn't creep in so that others may not be open to the religious, cultural, and personal wisdom of others. That's what I'm trying to do in this blog post, and in my life.

Greetings,
Memory can be very tricky, and in my case "weltenschang" slipped out of my past philosophical discussions. The working definition I'd always understood was "world-life viewpoint". It is a good word in the right place, but in a blog about MC, the word appears a bit out of place.

The concept though is accurate within the observations I've had with these kids. These kids re-cognized (re shaped their relationship and response to their culture) their world view through their exposure to the program.

In a simple word, they experienced a conversion.

I agree with your observation that it seems very similiar to the 2 year missionary efforts found within the LDS.

I certainly look forward to continuing to learn more.
Cheers,
Nimrod Scott

My mom was an evangelical, and I've observed a few things about evangelicals of all faith traditions: they are coming from a genuine sense of concern about my fate after death; there is only one entity who can change that fate (Jesus, Mohammed, pbut etc) ; and their concern typically evolves into an overly zealous, overly judgmental sense of being the only one who can succeed at convincing me to be just like them and experience their sense of security. However, if they go back and reread the Abraham story, the one thing God does not promise is security. Quite the opposite. A life based in encounter with God and faith is fearless and ferocious. The remainder are right in their sense of a need for empowered action in the world, but in all the wrong sorts of ways, which always happens when a group has limited experience with other, equally profound paths to God. If I don't say the right words about Jesus, an evangelical will jump to the conclusion that I'm not "saved." Few are interested in hearing that "Christ" is a universal Friend and Beloved available to all who thirst, no matter what they call the thirst. God recognizes the invitation. Second, many evangelicals operate from fear, and believe they are getting "points" for themselves by proselytizing, and proof that God likes them if they are successful. That scorecard kind of mentality works in sales and sports, but not in being any sort of conduit of Grace for another person. To their credit, some have experienced the great Peace and wish to share it with someone who needs support and doesn't already know the Support that is ready, willing and able to help. Bottom line is, every faith tradition is in need of better, deeper teachers who have had a profound encounter with God. They can't teach what they don't know. More than that, leading their congregations to any sort of fear-based evangelism or evaluative judgment of another's spiritual destiny directly contradicts the teachings of the New Testament. Many evangelicals practice a form of spiritual terrorism that generates self-righteous tribal mobs, rather than souls awakened to the enduring friendship of the Christ. Thankfully, it's most often those who preach the most fervently about "God's will" who announce themselves as never having had the true encounter, and we can be grateful for the chance to escape.

Scares the be-jesus out of me!

This is enlightening and frightening.

For me what I don't understand why people would be frightened by this video. My guess is that because it challenges their own faith base. However, if given the chance, would they would stand just as strongly behind what they believe. Honestly, they would have the right and ability to do so in this country.

My caution here is with the idea of lumping all Christians (or any other faith for that matter) in a way that says they are all like that. It is one of the problems that "spiritually" focused people face these days. Fear to express themselves because it might offend some one. What happened to seeing people as strong and faithful as being a good thing? Have we forgotten that faith is one of the strongest glues that has helped build this country?

I see extremism in all aspects of religious practice, but I also see alot of focus based on fear of particular religions. As a Chistian, I too see the connection between diferent spiritual practices. Common elements such as respect, letting go of the things you cannot change, and realizing there might be a higher power involved in the process. Do I witness? Yes, but from a different point of view then what the media and others that live a non faith based life might classify me. I express that my faith has changed who I am and that it has given me a purpose to become a better person. Not that my way is the only way!

So step past the Christianize that scares so many and look at her intent. She believes in her God, she encourages those that share her faith to go out and make a difference in the world, and last but not least she is willing to stand her ground and not lie about it all when it seems to challenge others. Not bad traits for any faith based person to have. You see if more people of all types of religions would talk about how their "practice" has changed thier lives we might have more hope then fear during the challenging times we are facing.

Thanks to Speaking of Faith. I appreciate the way you present to goodness of all faiths. You often illustrate that each of us are not so far apart as we might think.

Hi RevRick SImple point: This video is frightening because this person speaking is a couple of steps away from the most powerful position in the world. She speaks with the intellectual depth of a 10th grader. "Good" person, wrong job. Witnessing faith has nothing to do with it. All rivers of faith lead to the same ocean.

So in fairness then Rev. Leah Daughtry also highlighted here on Speaking of Faith would get the same opinion from you. She is a Pentecostal pastor (goes a bit deeper then someone who just attends church) and is the CEO of the Democratic Nation Convention and advisor to President Bill Clinton.

You see both her and Sarah are people with the same level of faith and would speak with simular points of few. Both taken out of context and using one example could be seen as zealots of their faith. Both believe in their duty towards that faith.

Only one of them however never received any national coverage of their footage in the main stream media. Both however will be instramental in policy making if their party wins the election. What I would like to see is that America becomes more aware and fair coverage is presented instead of speaking of people of a particular faith as being dimwitted and extreamist. Something I appreciate here.

I choose to disagree with you on your observation of Sarah's level of intellect. I have seen her take on some of the toughest interviews presented in this election year and learn very quickly how to step up to the plate. But then again that is just my opinion.

I do agree with your last statement and perhaps one day we can continue this conversation on a much deeper level. May your spirit flourish and your judgements serve you well. I mean that in truth in case it may be (as many email conversations can be) percieved as sarcasm.

RR You are making this way too complicated.
My only opinion is that Ms Palin lacks the depth to be President. That is not based on her faith. Faith does not equal good judgement.
Your point of coverage is well taken, you will never get OBJECTIVE coverage of anyone or thing in our country, with 80% of all media controlled by 4 corporations, with self serving agendas.
PS I have never heard of Leah Daughtry Thats all on this one. Peace

I'd never heard of Rev. Daughtry until we discussed reviving this week's show. I posted an entry about her on this blog.

ReRick and TAO7676, thanks for keeping your dialogue open and above board. The topic of politics and religion stirs passions within us that may cause us to be defenders of an idea or a cause that we may not wholeheartedly endorse. A slippery slope that you all didn't go down. Thank you from the dude that moderates these comments.

And thank you for the kind words about the program. We try our best to at least present the complexity of these topics and perhaps better inform the electorate about our leaders.

This does not make the concept of picking her to run for the VP position less ludicrous or more intelligent. The possibility of her becoming our President after Bush flushes any good possibilities of our future down the drain! We do not want to turn into a country of fundamentalist gone amuck who want to destroy the rest of the world bewcause we think our way is the only way. Palin's ilk rather be Right and impose their Rightness on others than be FREE in any way! Your program giving them credibility is a dangerous move! This IS a POLITICAL RELIGION! We are on the way back to The Dark Ages and religious wars!

T- I understand your concerns but I don't hold the same outlook yet. It is a cautionary tale though about how much religion and belief systems inform rather than drive our democracy. The U.S. has usually done a pretty good job of tempering itself, even if it doesn't appear so at the time. I put my trust in the balanced approach in both parties.

Hold on a moment, this is scary stuff, and we should recognize it as Americans. The Master's Commission is obviously the Churches last chance to really pass on their belief system to the young people of the church before they go out in the world. Listening to the Palin video it seems that she is very confident that system is the right system. I have no argument with that on a personal level and can even admire it. However, we are talking about the Vice President here. In front of her old church she is talking about the War in Iraq, pipe lines in Alaska, her work as Governer, Master commission students, and God all together and mixing this language up. I don't think the "media" is taking this clip out of context when they are expressing concerns over Palin's definition of separation of Church and State. This is what fundamentalism is by definition. Fundamentalism is a scary thing that breeds fear and misunderstanding. The Master's Commission seems to be OK with passing on these ideals. We are not talking about an adviser to the president we are talking about someone who is trying to be Vice President.
The other thing I really want to touch on is this idea of the rapture and the end times that is certainly part of her old churches world view and that of the MC. This end time philosophy is dangerous. When you really believe that we are living in the end times how does this shape your environmental ethic? We already heard Sarah Palin refuse to acknowledge that global warming is a man-made issue to Charlie Gibson, but she said it is a problem and we need to do something about. Well what are you going to do about it if you don't think humans are the problem? This is a belief system rooted in the fundamentalist believes of her former church and being passed along to the MC students.
This is scary for Americans, for non-fundamentalists, for the world and as a Christian myself I am offended by the statements made in this video. My faith brings humility and reverence, if a social issue concerns the poor or oppressed I'm fairly confident in how my beliefs form my decisions on that topic, but when it comes to pipelines, wars, and political decisions I am not confident because the Bible does not offer a lot of guidance. I always come back to love as a Christian and working for the down and out. Let us be very cautious with the statements of this video and the work of the MC.

I just tried to post a comment, but it did not post. This is a test.

I think this is a wonderful thing! Our Nation was founded upon the principles of the Bible. The Master's Commission is an excellent means of helping students base thei lives upon something solid. Why would somoene bash this or even consider this as to be a scary thing? That boggles my mind! It's a very good program! The Master's Commission is recognized all over the states. It ia a very pisitive experience for students and I believe it's very necessary in our day and age to be rooted and grounded in the Truth! So what's all the bashing about? How silly! This is still America ... land of the free ... this includes freedom of religion and how a person chooses to believe. Does it not?

"Ben" said: Hold on a moment, this is scary stuff, and we should recognize it as Americans.

Ben, as Americans we hold some Truths to be "self evident", as the Declaration of Independence says. That document also says that those self evident Truths (life, liberty and the persuit of happintess) are bestowed by a Creator. It seems to me that Ms. Palin is simply encouraging a group of young people to persue happiness by serving that Creator. She is NOT proposing a govt. program to aid the faithful in their pilgrimage, and further, she is NOT mandating service through the Masters Commission or any other faith-based organization. The Constitutional Establishment clause limits the Federal Government from forcing us to be religious. It does not, however, prevent government leaders from encouraging that exercise of faith, by word and (hopefully) by deed, that is well known to preserve the Union.

I don't agree with her theology either, but I'm not "scared".

Rupert and Tracy thanks for both the comments. I think I went to far with my comment, because of negative experiences I have had with organization's that appear to be like the Master's Commission. Of course there is nothing wrong with Ms. Palin's personal belief system, that is the wonderful thing about this country, we have religious freedom . However I want to reiterate that I do believe that it can easily be concluded that her belief structure is bordering on fundamentalism. Personally I am concerned with a fundamentalist in the White House. When we start to believe that we have the one Truth and it is exactly one certain exact way it does not leave a lot of room for discussion. Fundamentalism in any religion taken to an extreme is a scary thing. If we look at what fundamentalism leads to it is fear, violence, and intolerance things very much opposing what I think we can agree on as Christian ideals. I went to far in my initial comment, but it is hard to not get angry when you feel like someone is using your religion to push an agenda. Ms. Palin's beliefs aren't wrong in anyway, I just think they make her a bad choice for the White House.

Ben, thanks so much for this response. It's an admirable gesture that makes me really proud to be contributing and administrating this blog. We're passionate creatures and I think most of us understand your response.

I think you'll really enjoy a companion pair of shows we're producing called "The Faith Life of the Party" (podcast release on October 2 and 9). And, it's the second show with a conservative columnist based out of Dallas, Rod Dreher, who you might respond to. His story in some way mirrors your idea of getting angry and defensive, and then attacking even if it defies the complexity of your rationale.

In his interview with Krista, Dreher tells her how he holds these complex positions on many hot-button issues and says to himself that he's not going to get caught up in the divisive ones. But, when he hears a statement by the other side that attacks one of those cultural issues -- whether it be about faith or abortion or homosexuality etc. -- he finds himself angry and defending it at all costs. He realizes he's being manipulated to a degree but can't let go. It's quite a predicament, isn't it? I think we can all identify with that scenario in some small way.

I'm not as ready to be so bold as to define Gov. Palin's faith as "bordering on fundamentalism." I simply do not know enough. She's said very little about it during her brief time as a VP candidate. Perhaps we'll learn more as the campaign pushes on in the next six weeks.

The name "Master's Commission" is more or less self-evident for both evangelicals and pentecostals. The name comes from what is also known as "The Great Commission" in Matthew's gospel:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Both evangelicals and pentecostals tend to interpret this passage through the lens of being "born again" (as in the famous John 3:16 passage where Jesus talked to the religious teacher Nicodemus at night, attempting to explain what spiritual awakening and rebirth entails). That is, both evangelicals and pentecostals put greater emphasis on theoria (doctrine) than mainline and liberal churches, which tend to emphasize praxis (experience) more. These are broad generalizations, of course: the Master's Commission, for example, is an organization that definitely does emphasize the role of praxis and putting into practice the "social gospel" (community and charitable service: food pantries, homeless shelters, and so on).

The Great Commission in Matthew, then, was given by Jesus, and a title of respect for Jesus is "Master": hence "The Master's Commission." And while, especially from the perspective of a pentecostal (as opposed to an evangelical who otherwise often shares the same core set of beliefs), this includes "miracles, signs, and wonders"--includes the healings and other compassionate miracles Jesus performed (more on that in a moment)--it also has very much to do with getting people "saved," which is itself very much a product of theoria, or a particular application of theoria. Therefore, among the things that Jesus' "great commission" entails, it is what its detractors disparage as "proselytizing," and what its insiders would call "witnessing"--in its purest sense, "witnessing" is acting as a credible witness for the transforming power of God in one's life, though it detractors point to plenty of examples where witnessing seemed to have little grounding in personal experience with God and much grounding in rote formulations designed to maximize persuasion/conversion.

Now about Jesus' "miracles, signs, and wonders" (using the terminology of believers like Sid Roth -- http://www.sidroth.org/site/Pa..., these can be spelled out in Luke 7:22-23. When an imprisoned and doubting John the Baptist inquired whether Jesus was the "Expected One" or if he should expect another, Jesus replied "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who does not take offense at me."

To the progressive or liberal church (and to one half of the pentecostal understanding), the idea of "gospel" has changed meanings somewhat. It is still "the good news," but it is seen as having more practical ramifications in the present life: it delivers people from cycles of poverty, cycles of crime, and other sociological ailments, as well as helping to alleviate psychological needs such as loneliness, the sense of being cut off and abandoned, the sense of having some kind of existential "hole" right through one's center that is never quite filled, and so on.

So, I am not suggesting that mainline and liberal churches are all praxis and pentecostal and evangelical churches are all theoria, nor that the two never cross over. I am, however, suggesting that they take on different understandings. For the pentecostal and evangelical, the WAY that you answer the question the question of WHO Jesus was and what he saw himself accomplishing with his ministry on earth tends to take front and center stage to a much greater degree. He is seen as the Son of God (not merely "a son"), and belief in his divinity is seen as paramount for salvation, salvation in this sense cast in futurist terms of life after death. Thus, with this interpretative lens it follows that Matthew's "Great Commission" is cast as an appeal to "proselytize," and that particular passage in term supplies us with the name "Master's Comission." However, since we are dealing with pentecostals and not evangelicals (or even more conservative groups such as fundamentalists), we see more of the sense of the "good news" also involving a social gospel as well: that is, cast not only in futurist terms of life after death but "good news" right here and right now through such things as building projects, meals on wheels, and so on.

Last, I really appreciated what you said in your comments, Trent:

"The growth experience of working on SOF is actually realizing and acknowledging that many personal truths coexist in the world -- that they should live together, even in tension with one another. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that they peacefully coexist or that one doesn't trump the other in certain political or theological hierarchies. In my immediate circle of friends who are non-religious and secular for the most part, the same could be said for "applying" their foundational texts of NPR or the NYT or Marx's manifesto. People sometimes wield this knowledge as a weapon, an instrument intent on blunting the conversation and winning rather than informing and serving as an entry point to dialogue about religion and politics and arts and so on. Simply put, we don't get to know and understand one another better."

I am a liberal Christian who often finds himself "reaching across the gap," my foundational texts coming from both arenas, though my interpretation of Jesus' words are at once more radical (and to me more beautiful) than what are often represented. For me, the message is simple and universal: Humanity is hurting and broken on many different levels, and we face insecurities, misunderstanding, longing, and lack even within ourselves--we certainly aren't always consistently virtuous to our own detriment and that of others--and hurting people tend to hurt other people perpetuating endless cycles that can only be broken by being transcended. What humanity needs is some kind of redemption: some way to rise higher than it has and re-connect with its divine source. I do not believe that kind of change is possible without a spiritual transformation. And spiritual transformation doesn't happen by accident. It happens, often, by concerned people doing what they can to help bring it about. Concerned people try to help one another, remind one another to be mindful, to live a worthy life, to strive to effect real change, to try to recognize that merely boosting the ego is not the way to heal the ego, rather the ego is healed by serving a cause greater than itself--by being authentic and by helping other people do the same. I see SOF as furthering this cause, because it puts on the table for civil discussion what far too often divides.

I wasted three years of my life in masters commission and suffered untold emotional, mental and spiritual abuse. The program I was in is not an exception. I have personally spoken to other former students from several different programs and they all seam to share very similar experiences. Unless you hear directly from God I would think twice about joining this program. The idea of this program is to intensely devote 100% of your life to God for 1 to 3 years. In therory this program would be awesome, but unfortunately therory is not always reality. The reality is that through the years this program has become a cult. It would take too much time for me to explain my reasoning behind this. However, if you go to the website www.howcultswork.com it explains in great detail what a cult is. It is really scary just how much Masters Commission matches up.

Hey Trent,
I'd love to speak to you about my experience in Master's Commission and can link you up with dozens more who have a story. You can email me at mycultlife@gmail.com or read for yourself more about it here: www.mycultlife.com

Master's Commission is not a cult, but it is very seriously not without flaw.

All denominations have perennial issues, weaknesses, and corporate sins. There is not one single denomination that is free from brokenness. Most Christians will recognize and affirm a realized eschatology. That is, Christ's kingdom was inaugurated with his coming to earth, but we still await his return and the "final day." "The kingdom has come," and "the Kingdom is coming." "The already but not yet." Because of this, we are still sinners. The world is still broken. Death and sin are current realities. Yet, at the same time, God proclaims that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved and that we are perfect--NOT by merit but by participation in Christ's perfection. He was perfect for us. We CANNOT be perfect. We are weak and broken sinners who call upon the name of Jesus, and he is our only grace and salvation.

With that being said: the church eagerly awaits Christ's return and the establishment of the new heavens and new earth. The Assemblies of God--like every other denomination--participates in this reality. We all get things wrong, and when observing the historical movements of the church, we find our blind spots. An excellent summary of the evangelical movement can be found in "The Fabric of Theology" by Lints. The Assemblies of God is rooted in a tradition that has reacted against historical/cultural problems.

In their reaction, certain theological emphases were highlighted, and, when they become emphasized at the expense of other foundational realities for Christian faith, new issues arose. Some of these issues include: emphasis on the personal relationship with God, the movement of the Holy Spirit, heightened favor for emotions, signs/wonders, etc. Because the personal aspect has been granted such a high place of authority, there are not too many checks and balances for the A/G, which invites manipulation (as well meaning or unintentional as it might be, it invites manipulation nonetheless). God gave us a family, a history, the church universal. To ignore our predecessors is haughty. It is a kind of "chronological arrogance." It is to think that God was not present, alive, and acting throughout history, and, instead, He has blessed our generation in a way that He didn't with the ignorant Christians of the past. Also by emphasizing the personal over the corporate aspect of the faith, we don't allow for accountability. Instead, we have established our authority as the privileged of God. Further still, there is nothing to keep our leaders in check. Lastly, by emphasizing the personal relationship/movement of the "Holy Spirit" as our source of authority, we undermine the Bible. Those who claim to believe the Bible but do what is contrary to the Bible in the name of the Holy Spirt are not acting according to God. There is a reason that He gave us His Word.

These are some of the caricatured issues that the A/G faces. Now, Master's Commission is well-meaning program of the A/G. It is intensive. When something is intensified, the strengths as well as the weaknesses are intensified or blown up. I attended Master's Commission in FL in 2007. I hated it. I hated it because I didn't have wise people keeping me in check. I followed good, biblical principles, but, because they were blown out of proportion and not kept in check, I burnt out. It is good when we are not holistically healthy to react. The complaints about Master's Commission often deal with the fact that the mind and body are not being cared for in addition to the heart and the soul. After all, we are to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We are holistic creatures. Causing an unhealthy division between them--subverting the mind and the body because the heart and soul are given precedence--is wrong.

Master's Commission has it's strengths. The program in which I was involved allowed for me to take accredited college correspondence classes, so I was able to earn credits towards my BA. Memorizing scripture actually has greatly been to the benefit of my spiritual life throughout the years. I learned what not to do in ministry by participating in MC. There can be great community at MC, and let us remember that people are of eternal value in God's sight. I was able to hone creative gifts that I can now use for the edification of the church. MC taught me how to proclaim the Word and share faith (I know there has been flack about having the emphasis on trying to convert others to the faith. This is the case with many AGers but not all. I know that if someone is going to come to a saving knowledge of God, it will be through God's grace. So, if friends hear the word and don't come to Christ, I respect that. I'm called to share, not to manipulate, coerce, or convince.) There are other good things besides. My point is that MC is not all bad.

Master's Commission is not a cult. It is a bunch of well-intentioned Christians who are seeking to glorify God, but, because they are broken (like all other Christians), they have their own corporate sins to which they will be held accountable.

I briefly skimmed over the other comments on this blog and genuinely feel bad for those people who believe that Master's Commission is a cult. I was in Master's Commission about 2 years ago and though it was intense, we were not brainwashed. We did have strict rules, but that was just part of it. Like one rule is that a boy and a girl cannot be in a room together by themselves. Depending on which Master's you were in really depended on how strict that was enforced. A friend of mine who was in the same program in a different state said that they did not follow that rule all the time, like if it was only for a few minutes. My group followed it but kind of as a joke, like oh no you can't be in here with me. Another rule was that we had to be 10 minutes early to everything unless our director said that we could be on time. If we were 9 minutes early then we were late. Our director was usually just on time, like regular on time, so if we broke the rules it was more of on the honor system if we confessed to breaking them. The 10 minute early thing is a good rule to follow in general just to be courteous. We did have some college level classes that where accredited through INSTE Bible college. The group my friend in also took some classes online through an accredited Bible college in Oregon. I think that just like anything, Master's has their good things and bad things, and every Master's Commission is different. For those of you who felt like you were brainwashed I am sorry. That should not have happened. Helping people grow closer to God is not about manipulating them it is about loving them. In the end we can't force anyone to change, they can only truly change if they choose to.

I would also like to add that not all Master's Commissions are based out of Assemblies of God churches. There are non-denominational Master's Commissions and up until about a year ago there were some Open Bible Master's Commissions. I don't know if that has anything to do with the way it is run or not, but I though I would just let you know.