Gracepoint (Koinonia) – “doesn’t care about your family”, “they want the church to be on ur mind 24/7”

This is a quote from http://gracepoint-berkeley.blogspot.com/
a blog that exposes the cult-like qualities and history of Gracepoint Ministries, a church with many branch ministries such as Koinonia, ABSK, Acts 2 Fellowship (A2F), Kairos, and Berkland.

Gracepoint Ministries is present in : UC Berkeley, UC Davis, SF State, UCLA, UC Riverside, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UT Austin, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and more.

Navigators (Navs) – “ranking systems, oppression of women, experts of guilt trips”

“Is anyone familiar with the “para-church” called the Navigators? They tend to latch onto military bases and college campuses. My ex-husband was in the Army and we were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. While there, we were “recruited” (their word, not mine) into the group. We met twice a week for our official meetings, and at random times throughout the week for our fellowship time. The Navigators operates out of the facade of being extremely welcoming and inviting. Honestly, there were many good people in this group who were completely sincere and would give you the shirt of their backs… but the leaders, I saw right through them (eventually). We always met in homes or the chapel. There was a slew of type-A military men that had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to rank high in the ministry. A few things this group did were:

-Ranking systems (disciples/discipleship)

-Oppression of women. We were not to speak up, teach, or challenge our husbands decisions. Our modesty was a fundamental aspect of our acceptance in the group… Most of the wives stayed home and if a few did work or were single they were essentially treated as outsiders. I remember one time a particular young lady began to question the group on their theology – and my husband at the time was encouraged to have me, his wife, never talk to her again because she was a bad example to me. Because of her questioning, she was suddenly considered an enemy.

Generous tithing was expected and pushed heavily. The tithe was given [edited] to the leader over all the groups, from what I believe. We were never given an exact answer as to where our money was going. We had about 5-10 sects, if you will. They were spread out by location, although most of us lived in the same neighborhood. So you could imagine, a lot of money was being poured in. I remember the first time the leader sat my husband down and drew a childish illustration showing “why” he should give money. Of course, he agreed and money was taken out of our bank account monthly.

-Legalism was HUGE but they would preach grace. There were unspoken rules, and even spoken ones. They were experts at guilt trips. We were expected to memorize scripture every week and were quizzed then shamed if you did not remember. To these people, knowledge was everything to combat the outside world and gain recruit$.

You were discouraged from visiting local churches. The Navigators believed themselves to be the real image of how a church should be. The only church you could attend on Sunday was the chapel that supported them.

The hierarchy was the biggest way in which they took advantage of young military men and their wives, and I believe now looking back the motivator was money and power. Everyone seemed miserable, and I was too. Thankfully I only had to experience that for a few years, then we moved. But looking back, it pisses me off. I want to call them out on their bullshit but wonder if I should even waste my time. Have any of you had similar experiences with a so-called “para-church”?

From a Reddit thread titled: My Cult Experience

Navigators (Navs) – “using many cult techniques for slowly bringing young people”, “take control of believers’ lives”

“As with cults, young adults are particularly vulnerable to the pull of extreme Christianity. Fundamentalist groups have usurped the cults of the 1970’s on college campuses, using many cult techniques for slowly bringing young people into their organizations with friendships and non-religious activities. At New York’s Columbia University, for example, half a dozen different fundamentalist groups regularly canvas for new members. In the past decade Christian groups, with names such as Campus Crusade for Christ, The Navigators and The Way, have blossomed on campuses nationwide. Because they are locally managed, the dynamic in such groups depends largely on the local leaders. Some local leaders use their positions to take control of believers’ lives.

‘A primitive understanding of serious concepts such as hell or eternal damnation can be very disturbing,’ Powell says. ‘Extreme fundamentalism also tends to inhibit self-expression, even artistic expression, which can be very damaging to a young person.'”

Excerpt from an online article: https://aliciapatterson.org/stories/price-fundamentalism

Navigators (Navs) – “the pyramid style of recruitment, are very cult-like in nature”

This is an excerpt from an academic paper titled “College Student Vulnerability to Harmful Religious Groups Based on Perceptions”, for East Tennessee State University.

“I personally had a firsthand experience with a group that some consider cult like. During my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, I was paired up with a random roommate. He was a 35-year-old man working on his master‟s degree and staying in a freshman dorm. After a few weeks of formalities, I decided to ask him why he was in a freshman dorm. He belonged to a group called the Navigators, and he chose to live in the dorms as a way to branch out to new recruits. I did not know what the Navigators were or what they were about the time until an upperclassman friend told me. The Navigators are a Christian based group whose goal, according to their website is to “One by one…apply the Bible to their daily lives, pass on what they learn to others, and train these new believers, in turn, to reach others” (Gospel.com)

They have branches in college campuses nationwide as well as military, prisons, and international sites. Most of their practices, especially the pyramid style of recruitment, are very cult-like in nature. Thankfully, my roommate picked up on my lack of enthusiasm and after about a month left me alone.”

Gracepoint (Koinonia) – “More Hidden Yelp Reviews of Gracepoint Berkeley”

This is a quote from http://gracepoint-berkeley.blogspot.com/
a blog that exposes the cult-like qualities and history of Gracepoint Ministries, a church with many branch ministries such as Koinonia, ABSK, Acts 2 Fellowship (A2F), Kairos, and Berkland.

Gracepoint Ministries is present in : UC Berkeley, UC Davis, SF State, UCLA, UC Riverside, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UT Austin, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and more.

Blog post title: “More Hidden Yelp Reviews of Gracepoint Berkeley”

Here is a Yelp Review (that is hidden and not tallied into their final score) that is from October 2018 from  “Christain” that sounds exactly like the Berkland I attended decades ago. 

My experience at Gracepoint has been spiritually abusive. Please, please avoid this church as much as you can. Their teaching is unbiblical; the extreme emphasis and focus on sin is unhealthy. 

Their practice of rebuke seems to me out of the context of Scripture, as leaders assert their power, authority and dominance on younger members.

Let’s be clear, rebuking sessions at Gracepoint are not fun. In fact they are down-right humiliating and induce a lot of guilt-driven repentance. And, to be fair, if you’re being rebuked, there is a fair chance that you did do something wrong… or not (e.g. – this post). But does this type of rebuking do more harm than good? I say it is extremely damaging! It is the reason why many people who leave feel so traumatized.

I’m not going to get into the correct, or Biblical way to rebuke, for that material is abundant. But let’s talk about the culture of “getting rocked”  Gracepoint. I’m not sure who started calling getting rebuked, “rocked,” but it really turns something negative into something of a badge of honor. Again, it is often a horrible, humiliating ordeal. You sit there, being yelled at, belittled, guilt being heaved upon you, sometimes getting tag-teamed by two or three leaders. The “leaders” force you to confess to the point where you better start crying and feeling contrite. I have no doubt that leaders often agonize over what to do or say when contemplating a rebuke. But simply put, the ends do not justify the means.

Looking back, it is very disturbing to realize that I have seen many, soon after getting rebuked, smugly proclaim that they “got rocked”. Why? After all, there was a lot of yelling, most likely some crying, and maybe some forced fervent and desperate prayer. To put it very simply, in the spiritual economy of the Gracepoint ecosystem, getting rocked is like getting audited and passing. Yes, finally, what you did caught up to you, it got addressed by the leaders, and if you repent, you have a small stamp of approval. Enough stamps and certifications and you will be qualified to move on up the ranks. To be fair though, some people just need to get corrected more often, because frankly, they just screw up a lot. However, my opinion is that there is too much guilt-driven manipulation and fearmongering, and not enough careful correction. Also, I’ve even seen leaders refer to how they got rocked by Pastor Ed or Kelly with a smug smile. Not always, but I’ve seen it.

You see, this behavior is modeled for other church members and it starts to become apparent that unless you get rebuked, the leaders must not care about you, or think of you much. Very silly, I know, but I know this is true because people have confided in me that they feel this way. I’m not making this up. Of course, they are not trying to get rebuked on purpose (who wants that?), but there is a really unhealthy element of the culture that I believe is one of the root causes of the spiritual abuse at Gracepoint. Just like a victim of domestic abuse, you tolerate more and more emotional damage, and begin to rationalize, because in the end they supposedly “love you.” In reality, the abuser needs to control and manipulate you. If the abuser fails to do that, they rationalize by saying, “they don’t love me and I guess I never loved them.” At this church, it is the same, because if you do not respond to rebuke, you are spiritually desolate and they cannot shepherd or love you. For fledgling believers, it is very hard to know the right thing to do or how to respond, especially if you are a young impressionable college kid.

This is how you move hundreds of young people to mobilize quickly, efficiently, and without much complaint or deviance. Believe me, I would love to say everything is done out of a passion for Christ, but it is often not, not by most. The irony is, that on numerous occasions, I’ve heard a rebuke about not doing things out of a love for God and others, but the result is that people act because they do not want to get rebuked again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Please, do not get sucked into this cult. They are excellent at outreaching to newcomers–it is insane. The experience I have had at this church has led me further away from God, and I really hope no one will experience what I underwent.

I remember all too clearly the day that my entire class got rebuked because one class member was found to be secretly dating another member of the church. I had no idea that this person was dating until the rebuking session over and I asked someone what was that all about. Kelly Kang/Ed Kang accused all of us of using the church for personal gain (marriage). Everyone was crying. I remember being very sleepy because this happened very late at night. Traumatizing and the message was clear. We control your dating life, you need to tell your leaders everything, you will be shamed in front of your class if you don’t obey what we say. Needless to say, they were forced to break up. They both ended up leaving the church, one a few years after that and one many many years later.

Thank you to all the brave souls who left reviews on Yelp using their genuine profiles. I encourage you to continue to do so as it seems like profiles with one reviews often get “hidden.” Thank you “Christain” and I’m sorry your review is hidden.”

Cru – “recruiting scheme”, “how to sell their form of Jesus”, “emotional manipulation”

Excerpt from a Reddit thread titled:
What CRU all about and why do they keep trying to recruit me?

https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/lehla/what_cru_all_about_and_why_do_they_keep_trying_to/c2s15bw

CRU is the new name of the inane “Campus Crusade for Christ” that has been doing the same recruiting scheme for decades. They exist in order to keep Christians like them Christian like them and to get more people to be Christians like them.

They train each other on how to sell their form of Jesus, so don’t think you are talking to an individual. Most likely, you are talking to the sales shtick that they have learned from other Campus Crusade for Christ people.

They do not care what you say if they think you are a potential target, so you have to make it clear that there is no fucking way you are interested in their club.

Many will use emotional manipulation. Don’t put up with it. The moment you see them attempting to sell you anything, slam them about it. Better yet, just tell them to go away and laugh at them; “Are you serious? No no no no … go away.”

If you want, and you like individuals in the group, you can tell those individuals you are not interested in CRU and that they can fucking stop talking about it.

If they don’t take no for an answer then they don’t give a damn about you. Just tell them you already said no. Ask them;

  • Didn’t you hear me say no?

If they make ANY attempt to recruit you after that, laugh at them and tell them something like this;

  • What do I have to do to get through to you? Fuck off and stop annoying me — is that clear enough? Did that do it? I don’t need anyone who looks at me like a sales prospect.

Do that loudly. Do that publicly. It will embarrass the shit out of them and they will stop having any power to push their nonsense on you.

They may not like being identified as a salesperson. They are.

Bottom line: If they aren’t listening, you can’t be too kind to these people.

Cru – “repressive, controlling, and exclusionary group”

A Reddit thread titled: Has anyone else around here also heard about/experienced the college cult Cru?

“Basically I’m just looking for some people to commiserate with on any experiences they may have had with the fundamentalist Christian group Cru. This year I transferred schools from University of Minnesota Twin-Cities to Purdue. And, holy crap was I surprised when I learned about this group. So many kids I’ve meet are members of this group, and from what I can gather they teach that non-members are not worth your time, non-members are inherently bad people, and that good actions are only good if you believe in Jesus (how fucked up is that)? Anyways I’ve meet way to many kids who have bought into this group and have seen how it controls their entire life. It worries me that so many young people let this organization dominate their lives…. And I can’t really see why anyone would want to be apart of this repressive, controlling, and exclusionary group?”

InterVarsity (IV) – “telling her that I’m going to hell”, “surrounded her, blocking her exit, and verbally attacking her”

“Then she attended a “small group” Bible study. She realized the others were far more fundamentalist and evangelical than she was comfortable with.

When a disparaging comment was made about non-believers, my daughter spoke up. She told them that her mother is an atheist, and said nice things about me. They responded by telling her that I’m going to hell and, “Other horrible things,” as she put it. She said that at one point, they surrounded her, blocking her exit, and verbally attacking her.

When she was finally able to leave, she belatedly Googled the national organization of which this campus group is a part. She decided that InterVarsityis an organization she wants nothing to do with, and that she should have looked into them sooner. They’re a bad fit for her in dozens of ways.

She ran into a “friend” from the group recently, and when he asked if she would come back, she said that she wouldn’t, and she made it clear why.

I’m just so glad she got out before they brainwashed her or destroyed her self-esteem.”

Excerpt from Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/3ucarc/im_thankful_that_my_daughter_chose_to_stand_up/

InterVarsity (IV) – “I felt ostracized and excluded.”

“I was in Intervarsity my freshman year of Uni. My experience was kind of a mixed bag. IV gets small groups right. Bible study with 4 other guys gave us an intimate level to talk theology and hold each other accountable to our word.

Large group, I hated. The IV group as a whole was very exclusive. Everyone was so tight knit, and wasn’t really willing to step out and interact with you if you weren’t an “insider.” I am very much an extrovert, so I tried making friends and introductions, but no one was really interested in interacting. I felt ostracized and excluded. Hardly what the church is supposed to feel like. After being excluded so many times, I left IV and joined the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and have loved it ever since.”

A Reddit comment on: https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/comments/65nksz/have_you_been_part_of_intravarsity_if_so_how_was/

Personal testimonies and reviews on Christian ministries