Some red flags to warn you about regarding a popular missions trip for youth called AIM- Adventures in Missions, and an event called the World Race, in which students travel to 11 countries in 11 months.
Young people have been exposed to the New Apostolic Reformation, along with contemplative spirituality and New Age mysticism.
One of my readers contributed her testimony to my series, Leaving the NAR Church, in which she writes:
The World Race is a big draw for these young and restless 20-year-olds wanting to do something great and important and clearly not yet ready or willing to take on adult responsibility. An 11-month mission trip to 11 countries is exactly the type of adventure this age group would be drawn to. Unbeknownst to our family, our loved one was drawn right into the emotionally manipulative false teaching. We sent her there with our blessing and financial support, gone from us for a year without contact for the most part and under their influence and NAR teaching. Our solid home church, pastors and elders, supported and sent her off with their blessing as well. (Read it here)
The World Race endorsements and media partners should tell you a thing or two about its NAR mission:
See also AIM and the New Apostolic Reformation, and Concerns about The World Race and Adventures in MissionsWhile you’re there, check out the entire blog exposing AIM and WR leader Seth Barnes, who fully endorses NAR “prophets” and “apostles,” and believes that God speaks audibly to you outside of Scripture.
Check out this expose on AIM (Adventures in Missions), including the research of Claris Van Kuiken in her book, Missions, Mysticism, and Magic. Claris has given me permission to re-post her excerpts:
[M]y husband and I have grave concerns . . . for all those planning a mission trip with AIM. . . .What I found was deeply disturbing, especially in light of the fact Seth Barnes explains: “Our objective at AIM is to thrust over-protected young people out into the world to formulate their own world view and collide with their destiny.”1 This was written in response to a rumor circulating among parents that AIM was a cult because one of their mission teams “went on a one-month media fast” (“Responding to unfair criticism,” 1/ 8/ 2010). Barnes obviously felt the need to reply and defend their practices of “limited communication” and “silence fasts.” (Kindle Locations 161-169).
The goal of AIM leaders is to have participants “join in the Great Commission,” bring “social justice” to the oppressed, and “usher in the kingdom of God on earth.” They view the World Race as a revolutionary movement of radicals out to change the world. Similar to the Charismatic concept of Joel’s Army, they’re looking to enlist an “army” of youth to bring the world back to the perfect state of the Garden of Eden. (Kindle Locations 174-177)
In describing “the change process,” Barnes speaks of “Mission trips as “spiritual formation,” (9/ 6/ 2010). Unfortunately, he uses humanistic, transpersonal psychologist, Abraham Maslow, to discuss spiritual growth (“4 Aids to personal growth,” 4/ 3/ 2007). Providing a picture of Maslow’s famous pyramid, the Hierarchy of Needs, Barnes insists to his readers that they need “mentors,”“coaches” and “discipleship” in order to reach “the highest level – self-actualization ” (similar to the concept of Self-realization in Hinduism). (Kindle Locations 198-202)
One of the “core values” of AIM is that of “Listening Prayer.” . . . all participants in the World Race are required to read Seth Barnes’ book, The Art of Listening Prayer (Gainesville, GA: Praxis Press, Inc., 2005). Not only are they to read it, they must practice this “spiritual discipline” during their eleven month long “adventure.” In his book, Barnes informs participants of the World Race that in silence and solitude, they’ll be able to recognize the “still, small voice of God.” It’s possible, Barnes claims, to hear “God’s” voice audibly, as well as through impressions, dreams and visions , which he believes are all necessary in order to really know God and have a relationship with him . He also encourages his readers to keep a journal and write down what they think God might be saying to them. On one hand, before practicing this discipline, Barnes tells his readers that they need to “ask for protection in Jesus’ name from deception” (p. 23).
On the other hand, he complains: “We’re so saturated with doctrine that has little or no basis in our experience that we look and act like hypocrites” (p. 21). There is a whole lot more behind his reason for saying this. Barnes is skeptical of being able to fully know the meaning of any passage of the Bible, except for “the Ten Commandments” and “a number of precepts.” That, says Barnes , “leaves a lot that is open to interpretation” (“Interpreting Scripture – a few things to consider,” 1/ 29/ 2008). Tragically, Barnes’ assumption leaves the door wide open for the possibility of a different gospel, a different spirit and a different Christ to “emerge” (2 Corinthians 11: 4). Thwarting off accusations against what he is teaching throughout his numerous blog posts, Barnes writes: “When Christians say something ‘is not biblical,’ they often are treating the Bible as though it were not open to interpretation” (“It’s not biblical,” 1/ 28/ 2008). When young people read this, how many will question Barnes or other AIM leaders, who, in their trusting eyes, are wonderful. (Kindle Locations 233-253)
Of all the works Barnes recommends, I found Mark Virkler’s book, Communion with God, most disconcerting. Guiding his readers on how to hear “God’s” voice, he advises : “Of paramount importance is learning to break free from the prison of rationalism in which Western culture is locked and relearning how to have spiritual experiences . . ” (p. 17). Sounding like a New Age medium, Virkler discusses left-brain, right-brain thinking and the need to rely more upon the right hemisphere’s intuitive and visionary functions. This way, he believes we can make direct spiritual contact with God and get into His divine “flow,” and into “true spiritual Christianity” (p. 41). On Sid Roth’s program, “It’s Supernatural,” Virkler teaches Roth and his viewers how to hear God’s voice and journal it down. Watching Virkler is no different than watching a medium teach you how to channel a spirit guide and instruct you in the occult art of automatic handwriting. (Kindle Locations 341-352)
It wasn’t hard to figure out where their ideas came from. Barnes, Goins, and others involved with AIM, find Franciscan mystic, Richard Rohr, fascinating. In his post, “Rohr on becoming a spiritual warrior,” Barnes entices World Racers with this mystic’s blasphemous gospel and different Christ saying, “Richard Rohr is so profound – probably the wisest man I’ve met.” (Kindle Locations 420-422) (SOURCE)
A lot of material promoting house church or “simple” church is permeated with teaching of the type of mysticism described in this article. Beware if any leader encourages the group to do listening prayer so that the “Holy Spirit” can lead the meeting. It is not the customary prayer that a Christian group would say at the start of a meeting, but it’s the use of listening prayer so that everyone tunes in to hear specific directions from “God.”
Maggie I noticed some of that coming from Frank Viola who I was originally quite drawn to in the house church movement. I still think that there are a lot of people who can only be reached and helped to grow in home church style settings. but there is a lot of fringe stuff infiltrating the movement at the same time.
John, I attended a good house church that included people from the neighborhood who may not have otherwise come to a church building. It was basic: sharing, reading the Bible and discussing it, prayer, and maybe singing. No special manuals or instructions are needed, although I believe mature Christians should lead such a gathering.
Unfortunately, many house churches are being developed by the NAR and the emergent church, and their teaching and agenda go beyond the simple model I just described.