Leaving the NAR Church: Dylan’s story

I had the most painful conversation with my wife that night that I’ve ever had when she got home, and I knew that we had to move out of town and leave Pentecostalism…”

Oftentimes I’ve found that psychological abuse goes hand-in-hand with the hierarchy model of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The emotional and spiritual abuse from Dylan’s Australian church (not to mention the false teaching), was so intense that he packed his wife and five children up and moved away.  Australia is rife with New Apostolic Reformation and its mystical teachings.

Dylan gives us an inside glimpse at the heartache of his small-town church. Make that former church.

In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.

This is Dylan’s story in his own words:

Our family left our small country church just over a year ago. It was in a seaside town in country South Australia, and our experience there was a haunting one even thinking about it now.

My wife and I both played music and led worship bands occasionally through our younger years in charismatic churches, and we felt like we could help the music team out with this church’s praise and worship songs on Sundays. But us having four small children and another one on the way wasn’t really in the “vision” of the young lady who led the team.

When we first got there we felt welcome, especially because we had small kids. They had a crèche (nursery). They had one piano player who happened to be the pastor’s daughter, and we immediately thought we could jump in and minister there.

We witnessed a change-over from the previous pastors to these new ones from South Africa, and were initially excited. We were looking forward to working with them on new outreaches, new ministries, and helping women to study Scripture together in small groups. But as time went on, we had several decidedly shaky experiences with the senior leadership.

One time I remember we couldn’t make it to a leadership day after church because our daughter was crying and needed to breast-feed. There was nothing we could do, and had to leave. So we did. We even politely told the senior pastor himself on the way out. Then the pastor’s wife stormed out of the building and started berating us for leaving early. “What are you doing? These meetings are where God moves and we catch the vision of the church! Why are you leaving this early?” After explaining everything she stormed back in in a huff, and slammed the door. This lady had the title of “Pastor” to her name in public and on all literature, and flaunted that title in every part of the service.

Another time during kitchen fellowship, we were talking with one of the volunteers, who was a family friend. Right in the middle of the conversation the pastor’s wife took aside this volunteer, and blasted her for “speaking too long” with us, and said that she needed to “get back in the kitchen.”

The service of volunteers is pushed and pushed in these NAR churches, where they push for “excellence” in everything, at the expense of the volunteers who blindly join up thinking they’re serving God by fulfilling the pastor’s labour needs. We heard from the top leadership that church is not for the believer, but to be comfortable and relevant for the unsaved. I even heard in leadership meetings that church is to be catered and operated like a successful MacDonald’s franchise, with the same level of welcoming customer service!

We realized that the pastor’s doctrine from the pulpit was New Apostolic when he played a message from David Hogan who is associated with Bethel Church. This man claims to have raised hundreds from the dead, and to have driven underwater in a semi-trailer truck. He would constantly “whoop” and “woo” in the glory during services. He also runs a “healing ranch” in the U.S. that nobody really knows where it is or what it does. Seeing this man’s crazy preaching and the Creflo Dollar-style sermons about claiming cars by declaring how righteous we are as believers was a sure sign we had to go. Something had to change.

But there were other events before us leaving that led to where we are now.

 I remember one time I was pulled aside by the pastor for wanting to bring my children to a worship team night where they were going to watch a DVD on team leadership in worship. I was chastised for “expecting their family to provide for our kids” and that we “don’t appreciate and respect his daughter’s authority.” As far as I was concerned, God was my authority and his daughter was simply trying to tell me what to do as a husband and father with unfounded bravado in a new leadership position. This conversation was recorded live, and made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

This “covering” doctrine the pastors adopted stemmed from the shepherding movement which I knew had ties to the “latter rain” movement. Our church constantly preached that because healing is in heaven, healing is also on earth, that the evil people who built the tower of Babel in unity were doing a good thing because of their unity.

Guest ministers prophesied over us, giving confusing and weird messages such as my wife “birthing new ministries” and “leading other people,” when all she wanted to do was homeschool our children! The John Bevere “UnderCover” books had played a part in this obnoxious and volatile leadership demand set, and his sermons were regularly played and promoted in church.

Dominionism was regularly talked about, as was “Kingdom thinking,” a term I remember since my Bible college days that refers to thinking in terms of taking ground for Christ instead of making disciples of all nations, teaching them all that Jesus commanded.

The hammer really dropped, though, when my wife attended a women’s event called “Providence” where young women were given a mini-concert and prophecies from a preacher from Adelaide South Australia. After the event was over, the pastor’s wife took my wife aside and said, “can I speak into your life for a moment?” My wife naively said “yes,” and she then proceeded to sit down with my wife and tell her how unorganised she is, how she had a “rebellious spirit,” how we hadn’t read the leadership book by heretic David McCracken they gave us yet, how we couldn’t have any more children (even though we were pregnant at that time with our 5th), and that my wife will never play on the music team until she starts “mopping floors” and listening to authority more to “earn” her place at the top.

She even told me to get a vasectomy so that our ministry could continue as they wished. There was more said, but when I confronted the pastor with this he simply said that, “every word from God has to be taken with a grain of salt. You take the good bits and bad bits and sort them out on your own.”

That was it. No look into the matter, no sympathy, no regrets. In other words, what she said was “from God” and that it “had to be filtered through.” This absolutely floored us.

This totally killed our sense of belonging and alienated us from them. We were lost, and searching, and crying most nights. We’d always had the carrot dangling over our heads in that church that we’d one day get to minister in the areas we felt called to, but that we just “weren’t ready” yet. They kept going on and on at volunteer meetings about their culture and vision they’re building, and demanded outrageous amounts of money for elaborate building projects.

In the end it pushed me to urgent prayer, and care for my wife.

 I had the most painful conversation with my wife that night that I’ve ever had when she got home, and I knew that we had to move out of town and leave Pentecostalism. The rancid doctrine and imaginations that came from the pulpit were so bad that I resolved to attend a conservative church as soon as I could.

So after much prayer and house hunting, we came to live in Tailem Bend South Australia. We now attend a conservative Baptist church that solidly preaches the Gospel. God’s word is honoured in the way it is handled. We now go into nursing homes locally playing hymns in a modern way for them, singing songs that have been sung for generations about Christ and Him crucified, and about God and His endless mercies and riches.

We don’t miss the hype, mania, chronic fatigue and mishandling of God’s word in our old NAR/charismatic church, and have a fresh love for God and ministry that didn’t exist for a long time. We are still healing, but thanks to some episodes of Fighting for the Faith, some good discernment, some great conversations and lots of prayer – we have begun to find new ways to reach people with the Gospel, and have left behind the burnout, labour, service and manipulation of the New Apostolic Reformation doctrines.
Praise God!

Author’s Note:  If you would like to send me your story about your NAR church experience and what happened when your eyes were opened, you can email me here. Please let me know if you would like me to change your first name to keep you anonymous.

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Noel Rochford
7 years ago

Is it any different to today to MOSES and the children Of ISRAEL and how after 40 yrs of leading them to the promised land .He copped flack left right and centre Aron / Miriam who was struck with leprosy for talking against the LORDS ANNOINTED Moses was always praying in intercession over and over again for all concerned even GODS position before the un godly nations around about at that tine. But in the end MOSES did not SANTICFY GOD in their presence .As god asked moses to speak to the ROCK he was so angry with GODS PEOPLE he struck the ROCK which went bad for MOSES and did not make it into the promised land because of this wrong doing. THe first MEGA TRANSPORTATION of humanity GODS WAY his chosen nation the smallest among the nations yet chosen of GOD to show the world the WAY OF GOD. To any leaders in any n.a.r who ever . If you are striking the ROCK ??????.CHRIST in a SAINT you need to go and read what will happen to any who offends a littel ONE of MINE. I think a MILLSTONE IS MENTIONED in that scripture. The word offend comes from the word SCANDALIZO in short a TRAP STICK SET TO CATCH.. So many of these types of events happening every wherein the SO called Christian Churches CHRIST also said in MT24 all you leaders should read about yourselves his words not mine. SELAH. PS his word is a 2 edged SWORD.

7 years ago

Consider it a blessing that your wife actually left with you! Mine did not. She was so wrapped up in the same abusive church mentality by the end that she refused to leave.

7 years ago

Wow,I think i could actually name the Church and the Pastors wife.
All that Dylan has said is true and seems to be prevelant across many
Pentalcostal/Charismatic Churchs.
I am pleased that You and your wife have found a church that Preaches the Gospel
I have not got to the point of returning to a Church yet.However I know Who I have Believed and am Pursuaded that He is able to keep Me until He returns

6 years ago
Reply to  trev

Unfortunately, Trev you correct the NAR junk is becoming prevalant in Pentecostal churches. Pentecostalism used to stand against this junk (officially the Pentecostal denominations reject NAR teachings), but is now being infiltrated, and as a lifelong Pentecostal, it really makes me sad to see so many Pentecostal churches moving away from Scripture.

Pentecostalism needs to get back to teaching Jesus saves, Jesus heals, Jesus baptizes with Holy Spirit, and Jesus is our soon coming King (there’s where Aimee Semple McPherson ended up coming up with the name Foursquare)! That’s the old Pentecostal message.

6 years ago

Folks we are seeing the Great Apostasy unfurling before our eyes, things will not be improving they are getting progressively worse untill the fullfilment then He who restrains will be moved out of the way and the man of sin will be revealed. Don’t be caught unawares, and don’t be perplexed, this was foretold to happen. Most of Christianity is apostate today.

2 Thessalonians 2:3