A few months ago, I was scrolling on Twitter when a tweet from Michelle Lesley got my attention. She said, in her experience, false teachings enter the church through women’s ministries and worship music. I was aware of this. Many other evangelicals voiced similar concerns on doctrinal errors in women’s ministries and contemporary worship music. What stood out to me wasn’t what the tweet said, but what it didn’t.
In my experience, there is a third entrance through which false doctrines sneak into the church. It is a small door, but it was through it that I got introduced to false teachers.
This entrance is the young adult ministries.
Most churches have ministries for Christians who are in their 20’s and 30’s. I have been a member of several of them, and I noticed other young adults almost always led them. They get attracted to popular young pastors the same way women are drawn to popular female teachers. These pastors are trendy, funny, relatable, and have a substantial social media presence. They, however, are not doctrinally sound.
They, however, are not doctrinally sound…
Being a social media recluse, I only discovered these pastors through the 20’s/30’s ministry at my former church.
My first “Bible study” there was Good or God by John Bevere, and it was the first Christian book I ever read. Since I was a new Christian with little discernment, I believed everything Bevere taught. I got a few of his other books and watched several of his lessons from his preaching ministry, Messenger International. He quickly became one of my favorite teachers.
But as I learned much later, John Bevere is a questionable teacher. He teaches extra-biblical revelations — he once said God told him He was about to do new things in the church that would make Pentecost day child’s play. He teaches tongues is a supernatural language that helps us communicate with God so that the devil doesn’t understand us. And his wife, Lisa Bevere, disobeys Scriptures by teaching men and partnering with false teachers.
The next study we did was Transformed by Rick Warren.
Rick Warren is the pioneer of the seeker-sensitive movement, and he is not a trustworthy teacher. His book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has caused many churches to water down the gospel, and add worldly components in their services to keep unregenerated hearts entertained. In Transformed, Warren frequently twists Scriptures and uses dubious translations to make incorrect statements.
I just wanted to study the Bible…
After a while, I got frustrated with these types of studies and my life group. I just wanted to study the Bible. I hoped that after Transformed, we would finally dig in the Word. But the leader dashed my hopes when she announced yet another canned study from yet another popular pastor. I wanted to say something, but I was new and shy. So I kept quiet. By God’s grace, someone else in the group voiced the concerns I had about our Bible study sessions. The leader considered them, and we started studying books of the Bible.
But ironically, it gave me even more exposure to dangerous teachers.
As we discussed our weekly readings, my mates frequently mentioned pertinent quotes or sermons by their favorite pastors. That’s how I discovered names like Steven Furtick, Robert Morris, and Judah Smith. Trusting their judgment, I listened to these pastors and others associated with them. And for me, Christianity’s best and brightest were men like Craig Groeschel, Michael Todd, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Chad Veach, and John Gray. (I don’t consider all these men false teachers, but I don’t recommend them.)
After a shallow diet of Bible books studies, we eventually returned to canned studies. The next one we did was undoubtedly the worst of them all. It was Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.
Joyce Meyer is a certified false teacher who teaches heresy like the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith theology. I bought her book intending to read it, but by God’s providence, my schedule changed, and I only attended three sessions. I still shudder when I think of the damning doctrines I almost learned.
I still shudder when I think of the damning doctrines…
Shortly after, I moved to another state, and I have never been back to that church. It’s been almost two years since then, and I realize now there were several other issues with that church. Nevertheless, young adult ministries can still be an avenue for false teaching even in sound churches, and need close oversight.
They are tomorrow’s leaders, and they have a profound influence on today’s youths. Most of the people in my life group worked in the children’s ministry or mentored teens in the church. If these kids get exposed to false teachers at such an impressionable age, it will be difficult to break that hold later. It is evidenced by the visceral reactions of Christians online when someone critiques their favorite teachers.
I used to be one of them. Someone once called my favorite pastor a false teacher, and I passionately defended him. I am ashamed to say that I even used the p-word (“Pharisee”). But today, I no longer follow him and his like.
The Lord is faithful…
I credit this change to American Gospel: Christ Alone, that exposed counterfeit gospels and their leaders, many of whom I respected even though I didn’t follow them; Justin Peters who set me free from false teachings like extra-biblical revelations and mysticism that have been a stumbling block in my faith; Michelle Lesley, who pulled me off the path of egalitarianism, made me appreciate my role as a woman, and exposed dangerous women teaching otherwise; and What Shall I Cry Ministry that taught me the difference between expository preaching and man-centered preaching.
My deepest gratitude goes to the Holy Spirit, who provided me with these excellent resources and opened my eyes to the truth.
The Lord is faithful, and He will protect His elect.
Grace and peace to you!
Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!