Backtracking Through TFI History
By Peter; The Reboot Series - Part 3 of 20; 26 May 2010
Since the launch of the Offensive in early 2008, we’ve been discussing the need to change elements of our Family culture and environment, so that we can build on a solid footing for the Family’s future.
In “The Change Journey,” Maria and I let you know that we would be examining all facets of the Family as an organization—practices, influences, theology, application of theology, regulations, guidelines, thought patterns, and inclinations. We’ve needed to look at all these things to ascertain what should remain part of who we are and what we need to let go of or change.
As part of this process, we have gone back to the Family’s beginning and retraced our steps throughout our 40 years of history to identify the main contextual factors that have shaped our culture as well as influenced our mindsets and reactions to events and circumstances throughout our history.
As we quoted in “The Change Journey”:
To reinvent itself, an organization must first uncover its context. … When an organization is … eager to break new ground, [it will] confront its past and begin to understand why it must break with its outmoded present.1
- Context (definition)
- the set of conditions (time period, place, circumstances, etc.) that surround a particular situation, or in which an event develops or occurs; the events that form the setting or environment in which something takes place and that give additional meaning or perspective to the situation.
- “[Context is] the underlying assumptions and invisible premises on which [a group or an organization’s] decisions and actions are based…; the sum of all the conclusions that members of the organization have reached…; the product of their experience and their interpretations of the past.”2
- Family context is the byproduct of our 40 years of history, and the beliefs, literature, events, and mindsets that have shaped our outlook and formed us into the Family of today. Family context is changing with the development of the Offensive.
- On an individual level, context can also be shaped by personal experience, background, where and when you grew up, age, family and friends, etc. When you add new factors into the mix or conditions change, it also begins to change the context.
- Culture (definition)
- the customs, beliefs, social forms, and traits of a racial, religious, or social group; the characteristic features of a way of life shared by people in a place or time; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes or is associated with a particular institution or organization.
- Our Family culture has developed over our 40 years of existence, and is built on the combination of our shared faith, beliefs, doctrines, practices, lifestyle, our common literature, music, and language, etc.3
- One way to cut through the mindsets and cultural restrictions is to identify the “context” of our culture. In the case of the Family, our context is the result of the beliefs, literature, events, decisions, mindsets, and practices that we’ve had throughout our 40 years of history that have shaped our outlook and the way we think and operate today.
- In looking at our context, we need to identify those things from our past that, while logical and fitting for then, tend to hold us back now. Or those things that have shaped our outlook that are either no longer valid or should no longer have a place in our present thinking, as if they do, they will keep us tethered to the past.
- Operating as per past context severely limits the Family’s collective faith and the faith of individuals. Context and culture, in a sense, set parameters on what people feel they can do, on what they consider possible or allowed.
- It would be advantageous for us to look for and seek the Lord about the context and culture that holds us back today and to change that context and culture.4
Going back through our history and looking at some of the major points of context, and how or why these contexts came about (for example, due to events in our history, or themes in the Word, or an evolving application of certain concepts), can help us to better understand why certain approaches or mindsets exist today.
Maria and I want to give you an overview of some of the main points of context in our Family history that we have examined and discussed in tracing how and why our culture has developed the way it has. Identifying these points has also helped us to determine what needs to change today, so that we don’t hold on to outmoded practices or concepts.
As Maria shared with you in the It’s a Wonderful Life series, there are many beautiful and positive elements in our Family culture. There are also some elements of our culture that are no longer relevant or effective today, or that are even negative, and should be changed.
In this document, we will particularly focus on mindsets or points of culture that need to be changed. We won’t cover all the positive aspects or outcomes of some of these points. But as you read through this document, you may want to give some personal thought to the benefits and blessings that some of these events have brought into Family culture or into your personal life. Even though we want to let go of what is outdated or negative, there is much that we can be grateful for, good fruit that we’ve benefited from, and many qualities, spiritual principles, and strengths that we can continue to build on.
Another point to consider as you read through this document is the many scriptural principles and spiritual truths that continue to be very relevant to the Family, as a fellowship of believers, and in our personal lives. Many aspects of our culture, collective practices, and points of reference have been built on our understanding of Scripture, our beliefs, and our sincere desire to commit our lives to God and to please the Lord through our faith and actions.
Some of our Family customs, traditions, and mindsets, which developed over time, must change. But the scriptures and spiritual principles that are at our foundation are true and timeless. This is helpful to factor in as you read and reflect on the information in this document. (“Blueprint for the Future” will cover this topic in greater depth.)
It’s also not possible for us to list or explain every point or event, whether in Family history or in world history, that had a direct or indirect impact on Family culture and thinking. In this document, we will mostly discuss the ones that relate to the changes that are now being made. Also, each individual’s context and perspective differs, based on their personal experiences, issues that are important to them and to their family, and their personal thoughts and views.
So, while we can’t list everything here, we’ll give you an overview of some of the points that we consider major ones in the evolution of the Family’s culture and environment, and the lingering or cumulative effects these points have had in some cases.
Some of these points are events in our history; others have to do more with beliefs, or with certain themes that were frequently featured in the Letters and became part of Family culture. Some are positive; some we might now consider to be negative, and some points have a mix of both positive and negative facets.
Some of the main contextual factors in TFI’s history, 1968–2009 (onset of the change program):
- Being a Christian new religious movement that:
- Came into being during the counterculture, anti-establishment climate that permeated the 1960s and early 1970s—a time of nonconformity and revolution from the social constraints of past decades, as many people searched for truth, simplicity, meaning in life, and harmony with nature and fellow man. Many important historical and political events and revolutions occurred around the world during the Family’s formative years, which, along with the world’s overall social, economic, and political climate, had an impact on our budding culture.
- Reached the youth of the day (many of whom were hippies). Our message was attractive to the youth of that era and was geared to meeting their needs.
- Originated in the U.S.A. Our founder was also American.
- Dropping out of the church system and out of the world. We were both “the new church” and a “new nation.” Being separate from both the established church system and mainstream society, we consequently developed our own society and societal structure and norms. We created our own culture.
- Emphasis on the Great Commission—bringing Jesus’ love and His message of salvation to all, through any means necessary and relatable to those we aim to reach.
- General view that the churches had failed in the task of witnessing, winning the world, and following Jesus.
- General distrust of and separation from the world and the things of the world.
- Our communal lifestyle (which included having “all things common”), based on our interpretation of scriptures in Acts about how the Early Church lived. 5
- Living “by faith.” Practically speaking, this has largely been interpreted as living independent of reliance on salaried employment.
- Our belief that we should “for God’s sake, follow God” for today.
- Having a prophet (David) as the spiritual and administrative leader of our organization.
- The impact of David’s, Maria’s, and my writings; the high esteem in which Word published for the Family is held; the expectation and practice of adherence to the counsel and admonition in the Letters.
- High-level expectations of what “full-time Family discipleship” represented, which were reinforced by Family rules and the specified application of spiritual principles put forth in the Letters (especially in recent years). The thinking that the highest form of discipleship involved utmost obedience to Family Word and guidelines—and that those who did not follow all the Family rules, and specified applications of the words of David, were less committed in their discipleship and service.
- Being an “army,” the spiritual elite, soldiers on the front line of the spiritual warfare for the hearts and souls of men.
- The concept of “we are it.”
- Our belief that the Lord’s return was imminent; therefore time was short.
- A sense of urgency in our outlook and practices, in relation to witnessing, discipleship, how far into the future we thought or planned for, what we considered worthwhile investments in the present, etc.
- Members having children and raising families. We now have second- and third-generation members.
- Religious persecutions and court cases of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- David’s death (1994), followed by Maria assuming leadership of the Family. (It’s now jointly shared by Maria and me, as spiritual and administrative co-directors of TFI.)
- Publishing the Charter as TFI’s governing document (early 1995).
- The emphasis placed on using the gift of prophecy, both in Family publications and on a personal level in everyday life.
- The S2K Letters (late 1999) and the “Conviction versus Compromise” series (late 2001).
- The era of “saving ‘the Titanic’” (late 2003 through 2008).
- Board criteria and home reviews (introduced in 2004; home reviews for FDs ended in late 2007).
- Launch of the Offensive (early 2008).
- The change program (early 2009).
- Throughout this document, when we use the term “the Word,” we are referring to the Bible and the Letters/GNs, unless otherwise noted.
- The use of the word “flashpoints” in this document is in accordance with these definitions: trouble spot; the critical stage in a process, event, or situation, at which change or action occurs.
The “cultural flashpoints” sections highlight “trouble spots”—wrong attitudes, negative or outdated cultural points that developed or remained in our culture (even though some may not be as strong or prominent today as they were in the past), and need to be eliminated or altered. We are at a critical stage in our history, when changes must occur.
In addressing the main cultural points that need to be eliminated or altered, I will also mention the perspective that Maria and I presently have on these issues, as well as some of the remaining positives and how we can build on them.
The Influence of David's Leadership Throughout Family History
The purpose of highlighting prevalent aspects of our culture that are ripe for change—and then working to make needed changes in our context and culture—is so that we can build a new culture and environment for our Family today and tomorrow.—A Family where members can pursue a range of means for meeting personal spiritual needs, developing their potential, and collaborating with others to advance the mission and be world-changers.
Our prayer is that the environment of the Family will be one that both nurtures members’ personal faith, and allows members to freely focus on the calling and avenues the Lord gives them for participation in the mission. The goal is that our Family enjoys an inclusive, welcoming culture, where all members feel appreciated and respected.
I’ll now turn to giving more explanation on some of the major factors listed earlier that shaped or influenced Family culture. There will be some repetition between the points, as many of them are interconnected.
The roots of our Revolution for Jesus
During the 1960s, strong anti-system vibes were spreading around the world. There were anti-government and anti-war protests and uprisings in many countries. It was a time of social revolution. Many were breaking away from established religion and social constraints. There was a move to return to simplicity and natural ways of life, which many hippie groups promoted.
It was also a time of revolutionary thinking and political upheaval. In countries around the world, young people were joining the fight for freedom. The status quo was being challenged on all fronts. Revolution was in the air.
In the midst of this clime of social and political upheaval, David preached spiritual revolution. He taught that ultimate, true revolution—the only thing that would effect lasting change in both the world and religious systems—comes about through partaking of the spiritual transformation that occurs when someone receives Jesus, follows His teachings, and does what he can to change his part of the world.
David declared spiritual war against the system and the churches. He challenged their status quo. His tone and message were heavily influenced by the climate of the ’60s and early ’70s, and very much in tune with the times. His methods and teachings, his emphasis on spiritual revolution, appealed to the radical, anti-establishment interests and sentiments held by the youth of that day.
The Family was at the forefront of the “Jesus Revolution” (which was underway in the late ’60s/early ’70s). David preached Jesus in a way that the youth of that era listened to and received. Christ was a “rebel” against the establishment and religious conventions of His day. He was an iconoclast. He spoke of love, mercy, and peace. This was a portrayal of Jesus that the hippies could relate to. They could identify with the Family’s presentation of Jesus and the simple, honest, loving manner that Jesus taught.
Besides separating ourselves from the church system, we were also going against the flow by operating as independently as we could from the mainstream. David’s feeling was that the established systems of church and society were in opposition to God’s way, and from that standpoint, were inferior and in the wrong. David believed that the churches were too dependent on the system and heavily influenced by it. Our indigenous church would be self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating—independent of other denominations, the church system, and mainstream society. Our spiritual revolution signified the birth of our “new nation.”
David’s teachings and methods brought genuine purpose to many searching and troubled youth. He was not promoting meaningless separation from society or the churches. We were breaking away from the church and world systems in order to cultivate and demonstrate the fire and passion of God’s truth for the day, to follow God for the day. We were separating ourselves from established society—dropping out—so that we could live as Jesus’ disciples did, without money to our name or a set place to lay our heads, but happy, because the truth of Jesus’ love and salvation had set us free, and we wanted to offer this freedom to others.
God asked David if he was willing to be “king of the beggars” and he answered this call. He accepted the hippies, he loved them, and he taught them all he knew. He preached in a way that spoke to the hearts of the counterculture youth of the time, and caused them to respond in a revolutionary manner, as they dropped out of all they had known in order to give their lives to Jesus and to preaching the Gospel.
- Cultural flashpoints
- The atmosphere of the era in which the Family was born contained a strong anti-establishment feel. We were immersed in the counterculture scene of the ’60s/early ’70s, even though our emphasis was on spiritual revolution and getting back to the basics of Christianity.
- An effect this had on our culture was that we completely dropped out of the world, being separate in lifestyle and culture, and operating largely independent of the societal and economic structures in the countries we lived in. We held ourselves in opposition to mainstream society, rejecting all forms of “fellowship with the world.” David strongly and consistently promoted these themes in his writings and maintained very black-and-white comparisons between us and the world. These sentiments became deeply rooted in Family culture.
In any revolution, the case for what you’re opposing, what is being rejected and why, must be clear. Those leading the change have to clearly state what they stand for as well as what they are against. Revolution involves being in opposition to the current state of affairs, and the messages of revolutionaries are often painted in extremes.
If David hadn’t given the message he did, in the style and tones the Lord led him to use, it wouldn’t have attracted nearly the attention it did. It wouldn’t have answered the heartcries of the lost and searching youth of that time. It’s unlikely that we would have had a Family at all if he hadn’t been willing to follow what God showed him to do at the time.
In our zealousness to stay separate from the ungodly elements of the world, as the Bible instructs us to, some general feelings of hostility and animosity developed toward the world systems and mainstream society overall (and in some cases, particularly toward the U.S. and Western culture). We have historically had a general distaste and disapprobation for secular society as a whole.
Between that and our counterculture roots, we have developed our own society, our own societal structure and supports for many facets of our internal Family culture and communal lifestyle. This will change.
We still believe in not partaking of the spirit of the world—“the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”—and we believe in being dropped out in spirit.6 However, we no longer hold to the thinking that the Family should try to operate independent of mainstream society’s structures. We neither oppose nor reject everything that mainstream society has to offer, whether in terms of government, or other Christian or secular organizations’ assistance programs, aids, education, etc.—including for our children and youth.
In addition, we’ve been emphasizing the need to collaborate with like-minded individuals—whether in the Family or in society—who we can work together with in our mission projects and activities and in reaching out to our communities and those in need.
It’s also good to bear in mind that, in many respects, what is considered counterculture today is very different from what was counterculture in the early years of the Family. We are not part of the counterculture scene of the ’60s and ’70s anymore.
In David’s writings, he frequently spoke against the world’s political systems, against the educational system, the religious system, the economic system, against contemporary music and literature, and anything seen as likely to distract members from serving God, or apt to attract them to the world. Much of our culture and thinking followed in this vein. We generally frowned on anything that “came from the world,” and regulations were put in place accordingly.
Over the years, we have sometimes referred to or recommended non-Family materials or writings. We haven’t shunned absolutely everything that was not Family-generated. But by and large, we have been averse to non-Family input.
We altered our stance on this topic with the publishing of “Your Input, Your Choice, Your Spirit,”7 and affirm that we do not consider that everything of the world is inherently evil or ungodly. We still believe in not being conformed to the world8 in our attitudes and thoughts, that we should separate ourselves from the world’s spirits of hate, selfishness, greed, and pride.
There is much evil in the world, but there is also a lot of good. There are noble and godly people whose writings and lives we can learn from. There is much that is educational and relevant. We acknowledge that there is much in what the world provides that we can learn and benefit from.
It’s up to each individual, as a mature Christian, to prayerfully determine what is or isn’t beneficial to his or her spirit, and to avoid those things that detract from his or her faith or service to the Lord.
Even though we offer the Gospel to all people, because for many years we remained utterly separate from the world, we don’t always project the right attitudes toward those in society. Some look at non-Family members in a distrustful manner; they are wary and cautious about forging close friendships with non-members.
For some people, this is because they might consider this akin to being “a friend of the world,”9 something that could potentially weaken their faith and convictions. In other cases, it’s primarily because our Family culture and lifestyle has been so different from what many people in society are accustomed to that it’s difficult to build close bonds with them. For many years, having a personal friend who was not a member of the Family and not someone you were witnessing to, was either uncommon or an unfamiliar occurrence; even now, some might still shy away from this idea.
Our point of view is that Family members should feel free to develop personal friendships and build close ties with others in society, as the Lord leads them. We imagine that many such friendships will more easily develop, given the changes that are being made in the Family. How you proceed in your personal acquaintances and relationships is your choice, and should be according to your faith.
David’s teachings and comparisons between the Family and the churches/other Christians
The environment in which David was raised was Christian ministry-oriented. His grandfather was a pastor and lecturer, and his mother and father were pastors as well, his mother a traveling evangelist. David himself was also a minister and pastored a church for a short time. David said that he was “reared in church,” and that his Christian upbringing—being around spiritually minded church Christians who loved the Lord, loved the lost, and manifested the Spirit—did him a lot of good.
However, David eventually became disillusioned with the U.S. church system of his day. He increasingly disliked what he saw, feeling that the majority of church Christians were lukewarm, complacent, self-seeking, and uninterested in witnessing. He felt that they had gone to sleep on the job, and, in some cases—worse yet—they were turning away the lost and searching youth with their self-righteous attitudes and sanctimonious platitudes. He wanted to get back to the basics of Christianity, the cornerstones of which he felt were genuine personal love for Jesus and obedience to the Great Commission.
At the start of the Family, David considered the U.S. Christian establishment to be in a state similar to that of the Laodicean church mentioned in the book of Revelation (lukewarm, neither cold nor hot10), and wanted to disassociate the Family from their compromises and disobedience. He had a fairly black-and-white take on where we stood in comparison to the churches. If we were doing what Jesus and His early disciples did, and they were not, they were disobedient, hypocrites. We were “doers of the Word”; they were “hearers of the Word” and thus “deceiving themselves.”11
The Family was born out of opposition to and revolution from the church system, and David spoke of our break with the church system in stark and contrasting tones—contrasts that cast the church system in a bad light. His statements made clear where the line was drawn between them and us, and served as something of a rallying point for those we were trying to reach in the early years of the Family.
David had a lot of indignation toward the church system of his day—much of it with good reason. While David used strong and colorful language to decry what he considered to be the hypocrisy and spiritual lethargy of the church system of his time, he was not the only one doing so. There was something of a spiritual awakening taking place at the time (it was the time of the Jesus movement), and there were others, including other Christians, who spoke out or acted against churchianity and/or the U.S. Christian religious establishment of the time.
David’s anti-churchianity teachings and statements, and his message of back-to-the-basics Christianity struck a responsive chord with many of the Family’s founding members, due to their own experiences with the rejection and self-righteousness of the churches and the system. Many of those he was teaching and preaching to were disillusioned with the church system as well. David felt that by closely adhering to Jesus’ words and the example of the original disciples, we could succeed where, generally speaking, the church system of the day had failed.
David did recognize and acknowledge that there were some sincere, dedicated, church Christians and faithful missionaries who were doing their best for the Lord. But his approbation of such Christians was the rarer occurrence, as he didn’t feel that the majority of Christians (particularly in the U.S.) manifested the type of dedication and commitment that the Gospels and book of Acts outlined.
David saw the book of Acts as a blueprint for true Christian living, and believed that Christians could and should follow in the footsteps of the apostles and those who forsook all to follow Jesus,12 and “ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”13 David believed that what worked for the early Christians should work just as well for Christians today. He was out to prove that Christians in modern times could follow Jesus like the apostles and early Christians did, and thrive.
David felt that lukewarm, inactive Christianity was an affront to God. Salt without savor14 was good for nothing—weak, uninteresting, unhelpful. That was the opposite of what he stood for and practiced. He was sure of his convictions, bold and active in his faith, and wanted to make a difference by standing up for Jesus.
All this meant that David felt compelled to totally break from the church system of his day. He wanted nothing to do with them—whether in teaching, liturgy, or practice. He felt that what constituted Christian theology at the time was a lot of unnecessary head-stuffing, and often tore down instead of building faith. His emphasis was on the simplicity of Jesus’ love and message. Salvation was simple, it was for everyone, and our job was to bring salvation to the people who needed it.
David didn’t generally rely on established theology and doctrine in teaching the Family. He was an avid Bible student and teacher, and while he believed and taught standard Protestant Christian orthodoxy in most respects, he had some different interpretations of Scripture, or developed new doctrines, based on personal study and/or revelation. David published his personal interpretations of Scripture and the doctrine the Lord revealed to him, and these became part of our Family’s theology and worldview.
Once David left the U.S. in 1971, he had little to no contact with the church system (in Western countries) for nearly 20 years. He lived outside of the U.S.A., usually in non-English-speaking, and sometimes also non-Christian, countries. During the pre-Internet era, news also traveled slowly and was harder to come by, and David didn’t have much access to news about what the churches were doing, the developments, trends, and changes. Consequently, the opinions that David frequently expressed in the Letters didn’t accurately reflect how times were changing, how the Christian world was changing, and the renewed spiritual and mission-focused zeal of many churches, and even some denominations.
David’s attitudes toward the churches were largely shaped by his past experiences, and he continued to hold many of the same opinions as he did in the early days of the Family. While David did not hold negative views toward all Christians, his positive comments about other Christians were few by comparison, and were overshadowed by the preponderance of broad and extreme statements that made his dislike of the churches clear.
- Cultural flashpoints
- Due to the majority of David’s comments about the churches being disparaging and strident, we’ve developed a tendency to pass judgment on other churches and Christians across the board, labeling them in negative terms, or making overgeneralizations about church Christians, or unfavorable—and sometimes erroneous—comparisons between the Family and other Christians.
Maria and I do not feel that the diametric contrast of “the churches are in the wrong, and we are in the right” is accurate. We have not updated our perspective toward the churches as we should have. There are numerous churches, parachurches, study groups, and religious and missionary organizations that are progressive, faithful in witnessing, and broadening their horizons to find new ways to bring the Gospel to others.
There are Christians the world over who actively live their faith. We should admire and respect their beliefs and faithful efforts to serve the Lord. Many are doing a great work, effecting change in their part of the world. There are many churches whose core aligns with ours—a passionate love for God, faith in Jesus’ Word, desire and willingness to follow the Spirit, and commitment to our Christian responsibility to reach others with God’s love and truth.
We realize that many of the negative views toward church Christians that have been put forth in Family writings are not held by all Family members. Many TFI members do collaborate with other Christians (or people of other religions) in their humanitarian efforts and mission works, and enjoy positive, mutually beneficial interaction.
For the record, we want to state that we need to let go of any negative comparisons, generalizations, or judgments of other Christians. We are not anti-church or anti-church Christians. We don’t have to agree with them on every point; we may have some doctrinal differences, or varying applications of doctrine, but a) there’s probably a lot more that we agree with them on now than we might have 20 or 40 years ago, and b) we should respect them and be open to working with them to win the world.
It’s not that we think that everyone in the Christian world will embrace us, arms open wide—nor is that our goal. But the reality is that we are all part of God’s family. They have their problems and we have ours. They have their strengths and we have ours. We can give and take, learning from them, sharing our knowledge with them. We are all a part of the body of Christ.15 (More details on this in the upcoming series addressing the Word.)
Perhaps what has shaped the foundation of the Family’s context and culture more than anything else is David’s writings.
His Letters laid the foundation for our beliefs, practices, communal lifestyle, and service for the Lord. They have convicted our hearts, strengthened our faith, influenced our perspectives, and propelled our actions. Many of his writings are profound and powerful.
In some instances, reading just one Mo Letter kindled people’s faith or sparked their belief in God. Many members decided to receive salvation, or to give their life to the Lord’s service, because of how they were moved by David’s writings. They could feel the Spirit of the Lord in the words he penned. The Spirit bore witness in their hearts that what he said was true.
David faced many challenges in ministering to and leading the Family. He was building a religious movement from scratch—one that was made up of individuals (initially, mostly 18- to 22-year-olds) who were dedicated to serving God, but had little to no training or experience in discipling or Christian ministry, had received almost no biblical or spiritual training, and were rather clueless about what was needed to run, lead, or participate in a missionary-minded organization, because they’d never done it before.
He had no counselors of his generation, nor were there other members with his experience. He had the job of teaching, training, and inspiring hundreds—eventually thousands—of previously untrained missionaries, and leading a Christian, mission-based organization that didn’t rely on the church system of the day for guidance or assistance. He had to sift through church tradition and interpretation of Scripture, and present new interpretation or application in the context of a revolutionary missionary movement. It was a massive undertaking, especially because it mostly had to be done via mail, through the medium of the printed word, and it took weeks or months before his Letters reached our far-flung communities.
Since we were a fledgling movement and David carried the roles of Family administrator and spiritual leader and prophet, there were a vast array of topics that he had to communicate with the Family on. Early on in his leadership, the Lord showed David that he should live in seclusion from the Family, so that through his writing, he could minister more equally to all, especially as the Family grew in number.16 It was challenging to direct and pastor the Family at such a distance. Communicating by mail is not usually as clear as communicating in person, where people hear your tone of voice, see your expressions and body language, and can ask questions and receive clarification.
David gave spiritual guidance and pastoral care, and instructed members in biblical doctrine and spiritual principles. He needed to convey the doctrines the Family would hold to, precepts by which the Family would operate. He needed to teach what a radical Christian movement that was dedicated to reaching the lost needed to know.
He didn’t develop a systematic plan of training, as generally—especially at the beginning—his writings were addressing the immediate needs of the colonies/homes as he heard about them. As a result, in addition to the spiritual instruction he gave, he also covered subjects as diverse as having a mail ministry, bookkeeping, how to run a colony, how to select personnel for road trips, the importance of schedules and efficiency, the best types of photos to take for newsletters, handling public relations, and much more.
David was a prophet and administrator, but perhaps even more than that, he was a teacher. He was always looking for an opportunity to instruct and benefit others, and he felt that one of the best ways to learn was from personal experience, or from the experiences of others. Hence, he wrote about many of his experiences, including his thoughts and dreams, for the purpose of teaching and guiding us. And because David did live in seclusion, in some cases, reading about his day-to-day life, even though it did not have particular “Word value,” helped members to get to know David better and to feel personally connected to him.
Although David was very knowledgeable about the Bible, he was not a trained theologian, philosopher, or Christian apologist. His teaching was generally not methodical, nor did it follow a particular syllabus to expound on Christian doctrine or even to outline all facets of Family theology. For the most part, it was more informal and impromptu. (There were some topics that he did teach about more systematically—notably, his teachings on the biblical events of the Endtime and the Second Coming of Jesus.)
At times, David used shocking or strong language to provide emphasis or to punctuate the difference between the Family and the world, or the Family and the church system. In part, this was because David had a strong, charismatic personality. It was also because he continued the style and tone of communication he had adopted in the very early days of the Family, when he was reaching the counterculture, anti-system, radical-in-nature youth of the day through powerful, polarizing (in opposition to society and the churches) messages, which the youth related to.
David wrote for the time, at the time, about the current need of the Family. He published whatever practical or spiritual guidance he felt was needed, and wrote in response to communications he received from Family members or leaders. He published the revelations and counsel he received from God for or about our organization.
(As a side note, from 1968 until the mid-1980s, there was virtually no pre-publishing review of David’s writings. He would speak, the recording was transcribed, and David would edit the transcript; then the Letter was published. It wasn’t until he began publishing Endtime Letters in the 1980s that others began to read the Letters before they were published, to help verify details and factual accuracy.)
David clearly stated his belief in the supremacy of the Bible as God’s Word and truth. Yet there are also other Letters where David expressed that his writings were either as important as the Bible, or held more weight or relevance than certain portions of the Bible. He based this on the belief that God still speaks to His people today. Just as “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,”17 when David was moved by the Holy Ghost and spoke and taught, he considered that those teachings were on a par with the inspired writings of the earlier “holy men of God.”
Based on the training David gave us, our approach to the Word has been to take it very literally, and to follow it as closely as possible. So whatever was said in the Letters, whether by David, Maria, or me, Family members did their best to apply. This has been part of the nature and culture of the Family (which I will talk about further in later sections).
In addition, because David’s writings and revelations were specifically given for our religious movement, and we were doing our best to follow God’s leading for us today, prominence was given to studying and applying the Letters. This has continued to be the case up until the present, and the Letters have constituted the great majority of our spiritual feeding, as they convey the contemporary words of God specific to our lives and calling. (Until more recently, writings by those outside the Family, including the majority of other Christians’ writings, were considered of little worth to those within our community.)
It’s clear that David highly regarded the Bible. He built the Family’s foundation and doctrine on the Bible. He read the Bible and taught the Bible to others. While there were some Bible passages that he felt were either outdated or that he personally didn’t agree with, he also talked about the value of the Bible as God’s Word, and the importance of memorizing Scripture.
He stated that he considered the Bible to be “the yardstick of measurement, the bureau of standards by which we measure everything else God has ever given us.”18 Yet he didn’t believe that everything God had to say or reveal was only contained in the Bible. His belief—and ours—is that God still speaks today and gives new revelation.
New revelation, however, should be based on Scripture, and it should not be contrary to the Bible. New revelation might also shed light on interpretation of Scripture, or amplify what is in the Scriptures, going further than the explanations that are contained in the Bible, yet without contradicting the teachings and principles in the Bible.
Maria and I want to state that we consider it important that the Bible is given due emphasis. Holy Scripture is what validates other inspired writings, including Family-published writings, not the other way around.
The Bible is the yardstick for Christian thought and teaching, whether spiritual teachings from us or spiritual teachings of other Christians. Having knowledge and understanding of the Bible is important, as the Bible is the cornerstone of our beliefs and practices. It contains the principles that undergird our faith. It’s the authority and standard of measure.
In David’s writings, he often quoted and referred to the Bible, and expounded on the meaning of various scriptures. Over the last 15 years, Maria and I have not written as much about the Bible and its prominence in our faith and lives. In retrospect, we feel that we haven’t drawn sufficient attention to the Bible, which has made it seem that the importance of the Bible within the Family was diminished.
We believe that the Lord will continue to give us His Word for the Family today, and that we should also give due attention to reading and studying the Bible, as it provides the foundation for our faith. Many of us would benefit from being stronger in Bible knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, particularly for the purpose of being personally confident in the faith, and being always ready to give an answer to all who ask of the reason of the hope that’s within us.”19
One of the roles which the Lord gave David was the calling to be a prophet. He had a unique anointing in this regard, one which followed in the vein of an Old-Testament-style prophet. At times, this anointing was manifested in the form of David receiving revelation from the Lord, giving guidance to the Family or to specific individuals, or acting as the “patriarch” of our Family. He set down rules and had the final say.
David’s writings, whether in the form of his own words or prophetic messages he received from the Lord, were given as corporate Word* for our religious movement.—That is, they were instruction and messages for the whole body. The expectation has been that all Family members would receive and promptly adhere to the admonitions and counsel published in the Letters. We believed in being doers of the Word. We believed that, to the best of our ability, God’s Word was to be literally applied and that immediate obedience was the ideal. *(Note: In a church or religious movement, when the word corporate is used in terms such as corporate Word, corporate prophecy, corporate messages, etc., this refers to spiritual instruction or prophecy that is given for the entire assembly, to all members of that church or religious movement.)
Overall, corporate Word for the Family (the Letters and GNs) has been put forth, and seen, as the medium through which God revealed His “corporate will” for the Family—His will for us collectively, as a church, as a body—which was then to be applied by all of us as individuals.
David always promoted the fact that God spoke directly to individuals as well, and there was some instruction about how to use prophecy on a personal level. But he spoke more prominently about God using him as a mouthpiece to give His Word and revelation for the Family. We were an army; Headquarters (God) gave him the marching orders for our movement, and he expected us to follow implicitly.
Even though David didn’t always necessarily state that such-and-such directive was a “Family rule” or “commandment,” he did speak of the importance of obeying the prophet (David, in this case), and often rebuked those who did not follow his instructions. Even if David didn’t always say “you must do X,” the understanding was that we were expected to adhere to his spiritual teachings and directives.
What this translated into was that many of the directives that David published in the Letters were considered “law.”—Not all of them, of course, as there was a difference between admonitions or personal opinions given during a table talk, and a warning message or prophetic vision received during the night, or mission-related direction for the entire Family. But a number of his spiritual teachings were imparted in a black-and-white manner and were also taken by us (Family members) as absolute—part of God’s revealed will for the Family that everyone needed to adhere to. There was often little or no room given for flexibility as to how the directive or counsel might be interpreted or applied by the individual.
Even though David sometimes spoke about the “tunnel of God’s will”—that God’s will often involved a few options that we could choose from—many members didn’t feel that there actually was an allowance for much openness in how they might apply David’s instructions—or, after David, Maria’s and mine. Or they often didn’t feel that they had the latitude to even consider that something outside of the direction given in the Letters could have also been part of “God’s will” for them.
This is partly what led to the strong feelings of condemnation that many people experienced if they no longer continued with the Family or weren’t able to adhere to David’s or our spiritual counsel. Many felt that this meant they were failing God, or were choosing “second best,” or that they were out of His will altogether, or that others felt this way about them. It’s extremely sad that some of our brothers and sisters were put in the position of feeling this way. Maria and I apologize and bear responsibility for this not being rectified sooner.
This style of presentation of corporate Word for the Family—putting forth or expounding on God’s overall will and plan for all Family members—has been present in David’s Letters and in Maria’s and mine. By not clearly presenting the balance of individuals exercising self-determination in finding God’s personal will for them, or allowing for broader bounds in which members could exercise self-determination, we often limited members from having full freedom of determination for their choices or actions. (More details on this in the upcoming series addressing the Word.)
Some have followed the “Family way” and gone “by the book” not necessarily because it was always in conjunction with their personal vision, but because they didn’t want to displease God or be considered disobedient. This not only resulted in situations where members have had to make difficult personal sacrifices, but it has also been very trying for those who felt that being in TFI greatly limited their self-determination. This is something that we pray the reboot changes will rectify.
I wouldn’t be able to fully express the mark that David’s writings have made in our Family culture and in our personal lives. There have been many positives, as well as some negatives. There are some points that are seen differently by different people, depending on their personal experiences.
Following are some of the points that have remained in Family culture over the years, due to the style and teachings of David’s writings, which Maria and I want to clarify or change.
- Cultural flashpoints
- Maria and I do not think that Family-published Word—beginning with David’s writings and continuing through Maria’s and my Letters—holds more weight and worth than the Bible, or that Family-published writings are necessarily better than all other Christian writings and devotional materials.
We affirm that the Bible is our cornerstone. It contains God’s eternal truth and is the foundation of our faith and testimony to the world. We believe that God still speaks today, but whether He gives a corporate message that contains new revelation or prophecy that we pass on to you, or whether He speaks to you personally, the Word of God, as revealed in the Bible, is the yardstick by which to judge all revelation and messages received. Teachings, prophecy, and revelation should not contradict the Bible nor go against the foundational principles it contains. You must also personally determine how the Lord wants you to apply the spiritual counsel we publish, or other inspired writings you might read.
Additionally, we want to state that we do not elevate our writings above all other Spirit-filled writings. Other Christians also have Spirit-filled writings or materials that we can be edified by and benefit from.
In many cases, it’s likely that Family-published inspirational or spiritually feeding materials will contain counsel that is more relevant to Family members, because it covers topics that are pertinent to the Family’s mission and methods, or because it is about matters or experiences specific to the Family.
Maria’s and my belief is that David was called and anointed by God to be the prophet for the Family. He had a particular style, which we feel the Lord used to accomplish a purpose. We have acknowledged that David was sometimes in the wrong. There were also times when his strong personality influenced how he expressed what the Lord had shown him, causing him to be extreme in his presentation.
As our anointed prophet, he received revelation and prophetic messages for our church. Many of his writings are beautiful, timeless, and extremely inspired. It’s clear that the Spirit was speaking through him. We read those writings today and are still fed and moved by the Spirit. This doesn’t mean, however, that we consider all David’s writings to be equally inspired or timeless. Many of his writings are simply personal opinion, commentary, practical teaching or counsel for a particular time. We do not believe that his writings supersede the Bible.
Many of David’s Letters were presented in an Old-Testament-prophet style, or the messages or revelations David received were given and passed on in this manner. This style often involved a strong judgmental tone, either toward others outside the Family (churches, world leaders, nations, races, etc.), or concerning the importance of Family members obeying what was in the Letters.
Spiritually speaking, many of us have “grown up” in an atmosphere punctuated by black-and-white opposites—right/wrong, in God’s will/out of God’s will, the narrow way to life/the broad gate to destruction. It’s generally been one or the other, without much consideration for the possibility of gray in between.
One of the negative offshoots of this is the judgmentalism that has developed within the Family, either toward other members and their choices and faith, or toward those outside the Family, whether former members, other Christians, etc. Many feel that it’s correct or necessary for them to judge whether situations or people’s choices are right or wrong; they try to fit everything in either of those two categories, and feel duty-bound to “deliver their soul” accordingly.
There will always be right and wrong, virtue and sin. There will always be personal opinions. There will always be motivations and decisions that are pleasing to God and in accordance with His will, and those that are not. God’s thoughts will always be higher than ours.20
What we want to eliminate from the Family environment is the judgmentalism, or the mindset that it’s okay and right, or even always our duty, to pronounce judgment on any and all situations. Judgment comes easy, and opinions are a dime a dozen, but only the Lord can see the heart and judge righteously.
Maria and I also want to move away from giving counsel or relaying messages to you in an Old-Testament-prophet tone, or in a way that gives the impression that you must adhere to everything that is published in the Letters, as being part of God’s will or specific instruction for you as an individual.
We believe in being “doers of the Word”21—following Jesus’ words and leading to us—to the best of our ability, out of our love for Him and our desire to please Him. We believe that living the Word is one of the ways in which we can abide in Jesus and His Word, so that we can bear much fruit and avail ourselves of His promises.22 We trust that you will do your best to obey the Lord, and to follow His will and instruction to you.
We pray that the guidance and counsel we publish helps to inspire and instruct, to lead you to what God wants you to do. But we don’t consider that all the spiritual counsel we give, or every prophecy published for the whole Family—corporate Word for the Family—details God’s specific will for each individual member. Nor will all Family writings always be applicable and relevant to all members in all situations.
We don’t consider that all aspects of God’s will for your life will only be shown to you through Family publications. You might also read other Christians’ writings and find inspiration and guidance for your life. In any case, you need to hear from God and follow what He shows you personally. We should each seek the Lord about what devotional materials or spiritual principles will best help us to grow in our walk with the Lord, and what will nourish us spiritually. We should seek to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.”23
Corporate Word for the Family will contain counsel that the Lord has put on our hearts to pass on to you, or prophecies received for TFI members as a body.
We will continue to publish spiritual writings that present spiritual principles and faith-building, helpful counsel. How members apply that counsel is a matter of personal faith. What speaks to people’s hearts or convicts them will be different for different people. You are at liberty to apply the Word according to your faith and conviction, as the Lord leads you, and you should have a peace about doing so.
It’s our prayer that the Letters will aid you in finding God’s will, but, as you know, the Lord will also speak to you through other means, and give you the guidance you personally need about His will for your life. You should not feel obligated to practice or apply spiritual counsel just because it is in writings from us to the Family. You should feel compelled to obey God’s voice to you personally, the conviction of the Spirit in your heart, to the best of your ability. (The series addressing the Word, mentioned earlier, will have more on these topics.)
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to try to qualify “the way David was” by only referring to his writings. It would be incomplete to limit our perspective of his character and personality to his published writings, as they don’t show his whole life and nature; they don’t depict the complete man. He published many of his experiences and teachings, but it wasn’t as though every word he spoke and every instance of his life went into a Letter.
When all is said and done, many of us, including Maria and me, followed David because we loved him—and we still love him. He was called by God to be a voice for the truth. He was our prophet; we sensed the Spirit moving in his words; we tested them, we proved them, we found them to be so. Following what he taught worked. The majority of the fruit that David’s teachings and words have borne has been good.
David was extreme at times, an iconoclast, a man of force and faults, a man of action. He was the first to admit that he made mistakes, and we respected his humility and his humanity. He was a man of like passions, as we are, but he was committed to following God and he was greatly used of the Lord. If it weren’t for David, there would be no Family. His goal and motivation was to live a life of service, dedication, and love, a life that was worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made in giving His life for him, a life that glorified the Lord.
In large part, David’s writings, along with some elements of his personality and preferences, set the tone of the Family’s culture over the past 40 years. Some of this tone needs to change. Some of the ways in which Maria and I have built on the tone David set needs to change. Some aspects of Family culture, or applications of doctrine that David taught us also need to change, because they are no longer effective or right for today.
However, there are also many wonderful aspects from David’s legacy that have lived on in the Family, and that we can and will promote, be proud of, and pattern our actions after. We hope that these aspects can and will be preserved beyond this time of transition, no matter what we need to change or even reverse in the Family in order to reap the harvest of today and tomorrow.
Of all the people I know or have heard of, I would say that David had an almost unequaled passion for following God’s Spirit. He was intrigued by and moved to chase after the Spirit. He firmly believed that God spoke today and would lead us step by step, if we would only ask for His guidance.
David was true to his convictions—one of which was that Jesus’ love was unconditional and for all humankind. He never backed down on his beliefs that God’s mercy was for all, available to all, and that Jesus loved everyone.—And if Jesus loved them, then David was willing to give whatever was necessary, whether his time, his personal possessions, money, or counsel, to show that one person the love of Jesus. He preached and taught from his heart. He was true to the calling the Lord had given him.
I think that one of the most important aspects of the heritage David gave us—and which I pray we can pass on to all those coming after us—is the way in which Family members witness. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what is “the way” we witness, or to use one term to describe all that David taught us regarding witnessing. But I think that because David so strongly believed that God’s love was not only unconditional but also adaptable—that is, that God would manifest Himself and His love in whatever ways would reach a unique soul, and that this is what we should strive to portray in our witnessing—Family members generally can skillfully and successfully witness to just about anybody, in any situation, no matter what their race, religion, status, or background.
By his example, and through his explanations, David taught us how to witness with sincerity and simplicity. A person didn’t need to understand every nuance of Christian doctrine before they could receive salvation. He taught us that witnessing is simple. Any Christian can be—and is called to be—a faithful witness. They don’t need to be an ordained minister or a trained theologian to offer salvation to a soul in need.
We’re not stuck in a box in how we witness. We are not formal or staid in our witness. We don’t preach a holier-than-thou, sanctimonious form of Christianity. We believe that there’s a key for every heart, that God knows what that key is, and that we can ask Him to help us to find this key, so that hearts can be opened to His love. God’s unconditional love for people—manifested through the gift of His Son—is at the heart of our message. It’s also our motivation, what constrains and compels us to offer Jesus’ love and salvation to those we meet.
We’re not trying to get people to conform to a religion, but rather to help them to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. We’re willing to reason with people, to present our beliefs in love and with patience, to respect their beliefs, rather than trying to cram our religion down their throats.
Our “style” of witnessing is one of our strengths, something that we have inherited from David and learned through his teachings and example of witnessing to others. Maria and I pray that, as a Family, we can continue to develop and expand our witnessing style, using methods and approaches that are relevant to today and the people we are trying to reach, while retaining the simple love of Jesus in our witness, and the approach of “becoming all things to all men, that we might win some.”24
Soldiers, revolutionaries, disciples
There are some phrases and terms that have been frequently used in the Letters, first in David’s writings and then throughout Maria’s and my Letters, that have resonated and stuck with us. They express principles that have been major factors in our thinking and culture. These include terms such as: We’re the elite. We’re the best. We are it. We’re the Revolution for Jesus. We’re an army. We’re a “Gideon’s band.” We’re David’s mighty men. We’re the children of David. We’re the Endtime church.
Probably the concepts of “we’re an army,” “we’re God’s Endtime army,” and “we are it” have had the biggest impact on us. They’ve been more than just words and catchphrases; they represent some major beliefs and ideals that we’ve structured our organization around, goals we’ve tried to live up to, the basis for the lifestyle we’ve embraced, and the reasons that we’ve kept our communities separate from the world/society.
David frequently said in the Letters that he was an extremist, he was drastic and totally revolutionary, and that if God was worth serving at all, He was worth serving all the way, all the time. There were occasions when David said that he didn’t even understand people who didn’t feel similarly to him about being all-out in their service and commitment to the Lord.
Leaving everything of the world behind to serve the Lord and give God his all was a no-brainer for him. That’s not to say that there weren’t difficulties and sacrifices involved—there were many—but the alternative was not an option that David considered. For him, the only option he desired, and the one he willingly gave his life to, was all-out service to God.—Doing his best to live what Jesus taught His disciples, witnessing to others, being separate from the world, forsaking the things of the world, committing himself wholly to God’s will, and challenging others to do the same.
Being an army. From the very beginning of the Family, David taught that we were rebelling against the systems of the world because mainstream society was in rebellion against God. We were a spiritual revolution and we were an army, “God’s army for this generation.” The needs of the revolution came first.
When you’re a soldier, your first loyalties and responsibilities are to the army. When the army calls, you respond—even if it means having to make personal sacrifices. You subscribe to the army’s mentality, ideals, training, and goals. That’s what you sign up for when you join the army. The army comes first.
In the military, soldiers don’t operate on their own initiative, make up their own orders, or fight alone. They observe a chain of command, and units generally operate as a team, as a group. For the most part, orders are given not one-on-one to individual soldiers, but to the squad, platoon, company, or battalion. The various divisions within the army are generally working toward the same goals.
The orders are given by the unit’s commanding officers, and the soldiers obey instructions; they don’t question directives. The military’s objectives are more important than the well-being of the individual soldier, and military personnel work hard and forgo comforts and conveniences to get their job done. The expectation is that, as a soldier, you will go above and beyond the call of duty when needed or required.
Not just anyone is able to join the army. It takes physical and mental strength and discipline. It requires ultimate commitment to the army’s cause and code. (What’s more, if you’re going to be in the special forces, the elite divisions of the military, even more is expected and required of you, but it also puts you a cut above the average soldier.)
Obviously, a lot of spiritual militancy is needed by Christians, or there wouldn’t be so many admonishments in the Scriptures to “fight the good fight of faith,”25 “resist the Devil,”26 “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,”27 “be strong in the Lord,”28 “no man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life,”29 “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God,”30 etc.
So we’re not suggesting that we’re no longer soldiers of the cross, or that we aren’t engaged in spiritual warfare. We are. Being “in the army” is an apropos metaphor in many ways, and we’re not the first Christian movement to adopt this model or use such terms. There are other committed denominations that have done so throughout history, such as the Salvation Army.
Having the “we’re an army” mentality figured heavily into many points of our culture. David was our commanding officer, and we followed the directives that he passed on via the Letters. We have a strong sense of obedience and responsibility when it comes to following God’s Word and enacting what the Letters say.
We’ve worked as an army, collectively, as a team, and less on an individualistic basis. We’ve spoken and written to the Family as a body. We’ve strongly encouraged putting the community above the individual; we’ve operated as a collective, in teams. We’ve encouraged teamwork for the advantages it brings, the special anointing of God’s Spirit that is manifested when people cooperate in love and unity, the strength of numbers, and the many benefits that come with operating collectively. Those are some of the positives.
However, a downside to the way we’ve regulated some of these things is that it hasn’t left sufficient room for individuals to operate according to their own faith, or to give enough attention to their personal needs or those of their families. Family members have made many sacrifices to put the needs of the Family first, even to their own hurt or their family’s hurt, at times. This often put you in a difficult position. Even though you gave willingly and cheerfully, to the best of your ability, it sometimes put you under a weight that was grievous to be borne. From our hearts, Maria and I apologize to you for this.
Despite our lacks, there is no discounting that the Lord knows every detail of all the sacrifices you have made for Him and others. You gave to the Lord out of love and in good faith, and He will bless you. “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name.”31
- Cultural flashpoints
- Within the concept of being an army, we’ve operated in units, not as individual soldiers. What was good for the army came before what was good for the individual.
While the Charter stated that members were free to exercise self-determination, it was also clear that members needed to operate within the boundaries of the Word, the Charter or other governing documents. And for those within a communal home (FDs and some MMs), their decisions were subject to the will of their home council, and homes operated on the basis of home accountability. Sometimes this also meant having to put the will of “the body” above what you might have felt was better for you or your personal family.
These things resulted in limitations on members’ ability to exercise self-determination; individuals didn’t always have a lot of say, unless they wanted to leave their home, move to a different membership category, or discontinue their Family membership.
We will have a Charter, which will list the requirements for TFI members, but we will greatly scale back rules and legislation that dictate what should be done in practical and spiritual matters, and how it should be done. We will retain the principles that are important to the Family, and with your help, do our best to create the environment in which these principles can thrive and bless the Family and those we are reaching out to. But we won’t create legislation that specifies exactly how every principle should be applied, or consequences that follow if they aren’t.
This will allow for greater self-direction within the Family, and full responsibility on the part of individual members concerning their personal choices, parental duties and family needs, spiritual life, engaging in the mission, and how they achieve the Lord’s will for their lives.
There are some benefits to the “we’re an army” concept that we want to retain. For example, the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood we share; being spiritually vigilant and on guard against the Enemy’s attacks; working together in love, harmony, and unselfishness to accomplish projects and goals; being supportive of each other, both spiritually and practically, to the best of our ability; understanding that our actions affect the team and that “united, we stand,” plus the spiritual principles that the Bible speaks of and that we have learned about over the years concerning the spiritual warfare that we are engaged in.
Elitist attitudes, feelings of spiritual superiority. More than just being a regular division of God’s army, we were “the elite,” “special forces.” We considered ourselves superior to other Christians in terms of our spiritual strength, commitment, and obedience. We had more current spiritual training than other Christians. We were the ones God had chosen to portray radical Christianity, and those whom He had entrusted with unique messages to share with the world.
Not only did many of us think we were part of “the elite,” we actually were elite, in the sense that we’ve been an exclusive group, and have institutionalized our elitism through the membership structure we’ve had. The Family was not designed to be easy for just anyone to join. We’ve been very selective, by way of our membership requirements, about who we let into our ranks or considered “spiritually strong.” These attitudes have not only been directed toward other Christians in general, but, at times, even toward our own—other members who were seen as less committed, less active in service, or spiritually weaker.
When the Family started, we were cutting edge in our soul-winning and pioneering, taking the Gospel across the globe, and we took pride in this fact. We were justly proud of our differences, of our obedience, of our commitment. But I think there came a point when, little by little, we began crossing the line from godly pride and confidence to the condescending, we-are-better-than-them, holier-than-thou kind of pride.
Between being part of a revolution that (as opposed to everyone else) was going God’s way; being at odds with the world (because they were “at enmity with God”32), being spiritually elite; being exclusive, and a special part of the army that was for a select few—those who were stronger, more obedient, and more committed than anyone else; and being more closely aligned with the biblical blueprint for Christian living than other Christians who were still “conformed to the world”—we did feel, and David often said, that we were “it.”
We prided ourselves on being ahead, but in relation to the world and Christianity around us, we had our head in the sand at times. We didn’t realize how the Christian world and the churches were changing and adapting, how society around us was changing. Consequently, we continued to hold viewpoints that were becoming outdated, which further segregated us from those we could have been collaborating with earlier. Because we continued to shun anything that wasn’t “Family”—whether it came from other Christians, or people in secular society—this gave further rise to our exclusivity.
Of course, any club, association, group, or organization that is selective when it comes to its membership, and that has particular rules or guidelines that members must adopt or uphold, is exclusive in some way. Being in the army is exclusive. Being part of a special forces unit is exclusive within the army.
Human nature is such that we like that special feel that comes with being part of something exclusive. We have a need to feel special in some way and part of something important, something that is bigger than us. If we are more knowledgeable, or skilled in some area, or better trained, or capable of doing something that not everyone can do, we like to be recognized for this, as well as to associate with those whose skills or knowledge is on a par with our own. This is often part of the appeal or motivation for joining the military or clubs or organizations where membership involves a high degree of commitment.
There are some positive aspects that come with a certain degree of exclusivity, or being “it” in some way. It answers a basic human need to feel special, to know that we are of worth, and a part of something important and meaningful.
We are part of a worldwide network of believers and missionaries, people who want to witness and do something for the Lord, people who want to grow in faith and help others to do likewise. We belong to something bigger than ourselves, we have teammates who are like-minded in their vision and goals, we want to nurture camaraderie and cultivate a sense of belonging. By being part of the Family, we have access to some amazing resources and connections—each other. We want to foster and expand these positive, valuable aspects in the Family.
There are also some things that we need to change. We have been exclusive in that, for the most part, we have set a high bar for membership. Our procedures and lifestyle requirements have not been intended to include just any Christian in our membership, even those who wanted to work with us and who were witnessing to others to the best of their ability, or who wanted to learn to do so from or with the Family.
If they were not going to do it our way; if they weren’t able or didn’t want to meet our high expectations for commitment, spirituality, and forsaking all, our elitist attitudes and structure kept them at a distance. In many cases, even if someone did make it through all the hoops and did become a full-time member, some still felt that the new member needed to “prove” himself; so it would take quite a long time before the newcomer was accepted and trusted as “one of us.”
We need to eliminate any negative, exclusivist attitudes from the Family. While the most important place for such changes to occur is in our hearts and minds, we will also be changing membership requirements and structural rules, to put some practical weight behind the needed mindset shifts. This will give us a new lease on truly being accepting of others who want to grow in discipleship (even if they’re only just at the starting gate) and serve the Lord with us in some capacity. We will welcome them into the Family and make a place for them alongside us, not just as friends, co-workers, or supporters, but as part of our “inner circle”—as members and peers.
- Cultural flashpoints
- While there are differences between us and other Christians, and differences between us and people who are unsaved or pursuing other goals, spiritually elitist mindsets are detrimental in our lives and in our relationships with others. They work against our efforts to manifest the fruits of the Spirit33 and “be like Jesus.” Such mindsets also hinder the Family’s overall growth and progress.
We do not consider that we are “it” or more elite or all-around better than other churches and Christians. We do not hold ourselves to be the “Gideon’s band” of the whole Christian world. We are not the best, in all cases, by all standards of measure, or for everyone.
It’s true that we have developed some strengths that others don’t have. And we believe that the Family is the best place of service for those who are called to serve the Lord with the Family. But we don’t consider that we are the best across the board, or that serving the Lord with the Family is God’s “highest calling” for every person.
Extreme commitment promoted and required. There are many scriptures on which our efforts to be and remain separate from the church system and larger society are based, and on which David modeled Family discipleship. The ideals and requirements for revolutionary discipleship and radical Christianity presented by David necessitated an extremely high degree of commitment and spiritual discipline.
David was committed to following the model of the Early Church as expressed in the book of Acts. He was committed to living as closely as he could to how Jesus and His 12 disciples lived, emulating what they did, applying to this modern day the scriptures in the Bible about forsaking all, following Jesus,34 preaching the Gospel to every creature,35 having all things common,36 and living of the Gospel.37 Members forsook their material possessions, lived communally, did not depend on salaried employment for their living, shared their finances with each other, gave of their finances to God’s work by tithing and giving offerings, raised their families in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and went into all the world to preach the Gospel.
Our premise was that of being a dropped-out, radical-in-spirit, do-or-die, “if God is worth serving at all, do it all the way, all the time” Christian movement. This thinking developed into the standard expectation within the Family, and this expectation was woven into all major elements of Family life. It was what Family discipleship requirements were largely based on.
Being in the Family and keeping up with all Family teachings and requirements came to be our standard for measuring total commitment to God. Using this standard meant (to us) that we were manifesting more dedication and commitment to the Lord and His work than most other Christians. We were doing more and going further than others; we were following Jesus more closely than other Christians; we were more passionate about witnessing; we had more spiritual insight and knowledge. This made us the “cream of the Christian crop.” This was what made us “it.”
Everything was held up to the benchmark of this high level of commitment and was judged accordingly—whether in the realm of Family rules and requirements; Family culture and traditions; beliefs that all members were expected to adhere to; individuals’ personal expectations for their life, service, and relationship with the Lord; the expectations members had of each other; the filter through which members often viewed other members.
All-out commitment to the Lord, to putting God’s service first (as manifested by putting the Family first), and to our community of faith and our beliefs and goals, held deep importance. David not only spoke about these expectations and the importance of meeting them, but at times reprimanded those who didn’t hold to this high standard. Those who did not adhere to this high standard, or who were unable to, were often looked on very unfavorably and considered to be weaker or inferior.
The ideal of 100 percent commitment—along with many specifications as to how such commitment was manifested—has held such prominence within our belief system, culture, minds, and hearts, that it’s been difficult for many members to fully accept and welcome those who seem to give less than “all” to the Lord and/or Family service.
Starting about 20 years ago, we began to gradually make allowance for members to serve at other levels of commitment within the Family. But it’s taken us a long time to learn to demonstrate more acceptance and genuine Christian love toward those who are serving in different categories, and, unfortunately, there are still some negative attitudes at large.
Throughout our Family history, with all the changes that have been introduced, all the eras we have gone through, we’ve tried so very hard to preserve that degree of utmost commitment and dedication that David taught—the example of full-time discipleship as per the words of David.
This is partly why we’ve gone through the eras of “S2K,” “Conviction versus Compromise” and “saving ‘the Titanic.’” It was also because Maria and I saw that spiritual weaknesses, such as compromise and lethargy, were entering the Family’s midst, and we felt responsible to shore up our weak areas.
With good intentions and desperation and prayer before the Lord, and in trying to fulfill our responsibility to you, we were attempting to correct the spiritual weaknesses of the Family. We were trying to preserve the level of high commitment that the Family was founded on, and that was core to how we identified ourselves as a Family. Over the last ten or so years, we established rules to legislate this type of commitment and dedication, and to ensure that the Family’s brand of discipleship (as per adhering to the FD rules and words of David) would continue.
Another problem was that we tried to incorporate into our legislation almost any point that might be good for a committed, active Christian to follow or practice. Our aim in doing so was to help you so that your spiritual lives would flourish—for your benefit, for the benefit of your co-workers and home members, for the benefit of those you were reaching, and to bolster the overall Family’s spiritual strength. We wanted the standard for members to be clear, so that everyone knew what was expected of them and what was expected of others. The intent was to provide clarity and stability.
Our intention was not that the rules and requirements and lists and home reviews would cause you to feel boxed in, limited in your faith, or under intense spiritual, and sometimes physical, pressure; nor that they would perpetuate exclusivity or judgmental attitudes within the Family. Regrettably, though, in many cases that was the result. These were unintended consequences. We did not foresee or conceive that that would be the outcome.
Many of the admonishments in the Letters that Maria and I published were also relayed to you in an Old-Testament-prophet style. The counsel was often presented in strong and definite language, stating what God’s will for the Family was, with little or no room for variance or disagreement. The clear and stated expectation was that members would follow these corporate messages according to the requirements of their category of service, particularly if they wanted to remain in their place of Family service and be within the “tunnel of God’s will” for Family members.
Maria and I sincerely apologize that, especially over the last five or so years prior to the change program, being in the Family has entailed having to abide by a litany of rules and requirements.
We acknowledge that it’s been difficult to keep up with all the requirements for Family discipleship, both spiritual and practical. Not only has it been difficult because of the general challenges of life, living by faith, and the realities of the spiritual warfare that you have to contend with, but also because, in addition to that, it’s taken an enormous amount of time and a high degree of focus and effort to live up to all the Family requirements and rules, especially for those who have been FD. In many cases, it’s made being in the Family feel a lot less like being on a spirit-led adventure, an exciting faith trip, and rather like being bound to a works-based religion.
It’s not that the scriptural injunctions on which many of our requirements and rules over the years have been based are wrong. The spiritual principles in the Bible and the Word present sound counsel for spiritual growth and Christian living, and we continue to put our faith in them. We hope that these principles will continue to guide you. But we shouldn’t have built in so many rules and requirements to try to legislate these concepts by mandating that all Family members (or all members within certain categories) needed to apply them in one particular way, or by giving the impression at times that our particular Family way was what constituted ultimate commitment or was most pleasing to the Lord.
We are actively working to change this. Membership requirements will change, and we will also make changes in how we present spiritual counsel and guidance to you in the future. Whether in spiritual or faith matters, in life choices, or in practical matters, we encourage all Family members to operate according to their personal faith.
- Cultural flashpoints
- While we have had sincere intentions in creating a lot of legislation in the Family—to preserve a high level of dedication and commitment, to try to shore up spiritual weaknesses, and to ensure that good spiritual principles were followed by all—too many rules and regulations for both practical and spiritual life matters have been enumerated.
This has led to some unintended and negative consequences, including members feeling under undue spiritual pressure (and sometimes also practical pressure) as they tried to keep up with all the requirements, live communally, and attend to their personal and family needs. The abundance of rules was limiting, and made it difficult for many to step out and follow how the Lord’s Spirit was leading them personally.
While many of the specified applications and rules are changing, the underlying scriptural principles are sound. We recognize that following the spiritual principles that Jesus imparted to His disciples and that are in the New Testament is difficult. It takes a lot of commitment and sacrifice, and not everyone chooses the path of discipleship.
From what the Bible teaches and what we’ve learned from the Letters, from the lessons of our own experience and the experience of others, it’s clear that being an active Christian is not a walk in the park. We cling to Jesus’ words and the many beautiful promises He has given in the Bible and the revealed Word, but it still takes a lot of guts to follow Jesus. It requires passion, commitment, obedience, sacrifice, and trust. It involves finding and enacting His good, acceptable, and perfect will38 for our lives.
We will continue to promote and teach these spiritual principles, and to encourage commitment and discipleship. However, in the Family of the future, we won’t make rules and regulations out of the many good spiritual principles that exist. We won’t legislate what commitment or discipleship is, or require that it be manifested in a set fashion.
Our propensity hasn’t been to fully accept people who seemed only “partially committed,” or who weren’t manifesting their commitment in the way we thought they should, or in the way we thought we were. Sadly, this has sometimes been manifested in actions or attitudes that are exclusive and judgmental toward those in our own fellowship who were seen as less committed or giving less of their time or efforts to the Lord’s service.
We need to eliminate any remnants of condescending feelings or attitudes toward other members who we might feel aren’t as “spiritual” as we are, or whose sacrifices and gifts to the Lord are different from ours. Judgmental and critical attitudes need to go. Jesus’ mercy, understanding, grace, and unconditional love need to flourish.
Commitment and sacrifice are difficult—whether it means giving up a particular thing, or giving up some part of our life or dreams, or giving up the better part of our lives to missionary service. Every sacrifice someone makes to follow Jesus, every bit of commitment a person offers, deserves our respect and appreciation
Sense of urgency
There are many things that Family members have forgone or forsaken over the years, such as formal higher education, salaried job opportunities, buying a house or property, investing in their future, etc., in order to serve the Lord with the Family. There are a variety of beliefs and trains of thought that resulted in forgoing or forsaking these and other things (including several of the points discussed in earlier sections).
Broadly speaking, at the root of Family thinking, requirements, and statements in the Word that limited or discouraged members’ choices and actions in these matters, have been these points:
- The general belief we held, and resultant context we operated within for many years, that the Lord’s return was just around the corner.
- We’ve had a general sense of urgency concerning our job of preaching the Gospel, doing our part to win the world, being spiritually trained and ready for the Endtime, winning more disciples and training them accordingly.
This sense of urgency has had a strong connection to the thinking on the Lord’s return being imminent. Time was short, both because we did not know when the Lord would return, and also because those we were meeting and witnessing to didn’t necessarily have much time either. They could be dead tomorrow, or dying spiritually today, or we might never see them again, and we felt responsible to “deliver our souls”39 and give them a chance to know the Lord personally.
To a degree, this sense of urgency has also been an offshoot of David’s personal conviction and subsequent teachings that Christians should serve God “all the way.” “All the way” for David—and therefore what he taught the Family and how we’ve been operating for years—meant living communally and separate from the world, in order to focus on our faith and service to God.
Embedded in the psyche of the Family is our desire to use every moment available, every resource, all our energies, to witness to others and reap the harvest. Family members didn’t only forgo (among other things) jobs and higher education and buying houses because we thought the Lord would return soon, but also because witnessing, preaching the Gospel, and, especially in more recent years, preserving our particular application of discipleship, in accordance with the words of David, held more importance to the Family and was considered a better investment of our time than pursuing education or a secular career or owning property.
- Our faith was that, as we invested ourselves in the Lord’s work (being Family members and serving the Lord with the Family), the Lord would take care of all our needs. We were doing our best to follow the scripture, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”40 We wanted to be true to the heavenly vision,41 and to give our all to fulfilling the Great Commission.
- We wanted to remain separate from the world in every way, and Family regulations enforced this at times, to help us to avoid compromise, and to facilitate our obedience to the verse “Come out from among them, and be separate.”42 Additionally, we’ve historically distrusted the system, including, and perhaps especially, the economic systems of the world.
In this section, I’ll focus on the issue of the timing of the Lord’s return and the sense of urgency this fostered.
Earlier in Family history, David speculated that the Lord’s return could be in 1993. As we approached that date, it became apparent that the Lord’s return would not be in 1993, as the events predicted to occur before the Second Coming had not yet happened. David talked about this in the Letters leading up to 1993. However, he did continue to make some speculations concerning when the Antichrist might come to power, or how events on the world stage could be seen in relation to the events that the Bible foretells will occur during the Last Days.
“The Endtime Series” was published in 1999 and 2000, in which the Lord continued to admonish us that time was short, explaining why throughout Christian history, many Christian prophets and leaders had talked about the shortness of time and projected this sense of urgency. The Lord put this message on their hearts, and used it to help the Church to accomplish more, to be more vigilant in witnessing and reaching the lost, to grow in faith and in spiritual strength, etc.
In regard to the timing of the Lord’s return, the Lord indicated in prophecies in “The Endtime Series” that many FGAs would still be alive at His return, but that some would have gone on to be with Him, and that “the generation that now lives shall not pass before all the signs of the End, including the Great Tribulation and My return to the Earth, are fulfilled.”43
The Lord said that what He spoke nearly 2,000 years ago, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come”44 was still true today. He also said: “If it should be one day or 50 years before I return … My call to you remains the same: Lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep. And warn the wicked of his wicked ways, lest his blood be upon your hands.”45
This was the frame of mind in which we continued, whether in regard to our witnessing and mission work, or in striving to strengthen the Family spiritually and uphold the standard of the words of David.
In “The Change Journey,” which you received in 2009, we explained that the Lord had shown us that we needed to “set goals up to 30 years or even farther into the future, and make plans to reach those goals.”46
We wrote: “We don’t know when the Lord will return, but in the back of our minds, I think that most of us harbor the possibility that it could be earlier than in 30 years. This makes it difficult to set truly long-term goals and to work to reach them. However, if we change the context in regard to when we surmise the Lord might return, then we will have a change in our thinking, our planning, and our faith.
“If we set a new context in our outlook on the Lord’s return, for example, then it will change how we think, how we plan, the goals we’ll be trying to reach, our long-term strategies, and a variety of other things. If we set a new context that the Lord may not return before 30 to 50 years from now, then we will look at things in a completely different light.
“The point isn’t when the Lord returns. We don’t know when the Lord will return. It might be in 7, 10, 30, 50 years or even more. The point is the context that we need to set in order to make the right kind of progress that is necessary for our future success, and the outlook, vision, and faith that will be generated as a result of having new contexts.”47
The change presented was not one connected to a particular timetable or specific dates, but a contextual change, a mindset change that we needed to make, so that we were not operating within a context that limited our vision or faith or ability to plan effectively.
It’s possible that the Lord wanted to reveal the need for this particular contextual change to us sooner. It’s also possible that our understanding about this developed at the right time. We don’t know why we didn’t receive this from the Lord sooner, but Maria and I presented this change of context to you as soon as it became clear to us.
At this time, the likely questions are: Has something changed regarding our Endtime beliefs, and if so, what? Do we no longer think that time is short? Is commitment to the Lord’s service or witnessing less important than before?
In our opinion, the question of exactly when the Lord will return, whether it’s in 5 years or 50, should not be an issue in determining whether it’s worthwhile to dedicate time to the mission and to give as much of our lives as we can in service to the Lord and others. We still feel that it’s right and important for us to do as much as we can to be a witness to others, to show them the Lord’s love, to offer Jesus’ salvation to as many as possible, in whatever situation we’re in, in whatever time we have. Our motivation to serve the Lord, to witness and work hard for Him doesn’t solely hinge on the timing of the Lord’s return. It has to do with our love for Jesus, our dedication to Him, and our desire to faithfully share His love and truth with others.
Is it still necessary for us to operate with a sense of urgency insofar as being faithful to witness (including about the Endtime)? Should we do our part to personally be spiritually prepared through study of the Word and following God’s will for our lives? Yes, we believe so. We believe that a “sense of urgency” still exists, in that we should be giving attention to these matters and earnestly pursuing God’s personal call to us as individuals. But what we do to prepare for that moment when we’ll stand before the Lord to give account of how we lived our lives on Earth is up to each of us personally to decide.
The point that is changing is that our focal point as a Family is not that of preserving an example of full-time discipleship according to the words of David. Following Jesus and striving to apply His Word—that is, being His disciples—is still important, and with that in mind, our focal point is the mission.
Maria and I believe that the spiritual principles put forth in the Letters of past years, as well as the insight and training we have received concerning the spiritual warfare and spiritual weapons is invaluable to us now, and will likely increase in value as times wax worse and the world grows darker. So, while we’re shifting our emphasis from preserving the particular discipleship lifestyle that exemplified living the words of David to moving the mission forward, we are by no means discounting or discarding our spiritual training. Changing our context so that we can effectively plan for the long term, both in our mission ventures and in our personal lives, does not render our spiritual gifts or training obsolete.
We continue to believe that it’s important to make every day and every action count. We don’t know when the Lord will return, but when He does, we want to be found spiritually and practically ready. We want to know that we’re pleasing the Lord and investing our time wisely.
Following Jesus and witnessing remain paramount goals for our organization. Finding God’s will for your life is vital, and practicing His spiritual principles will add to your joy and fulfillment. But because we are not holding to the model and culture of the past 40 years, you have greater liberty as to how you want to follow Jesus, how you want to engage in the mission. It doesn’t have to be done from within a communal home. It doesn’t have to be done within the confines of past membership requirements.
What’s changing is this: As a Family member, you can continue to pursue your relationship with Jesus, develop your spiritual strengths, follow His teachings, and fulfill the Great Commission whether or not you choose to live communally, or to further your education, or live independent of a fixed income, or take on a secular career, or make a career of being a full-time professional missionary.
Whatever choices we consider, whatever actions we undertake, the results we’re after, as Christians, are those such as “doing the will of Him Who sent us,”48 “preaching the Gospel to every creature,”49 loving others “in deed and in truth,”50 “laying up treasure in Heaven”51—results that have eternal value. How you will achieve those results is your personal responsibility to determine.
- Cultural flashpoints
- The context in which we operated for many years was heavily influenced by our belief that the Lord’s return was nigh, coupled with our desire to give God our full-time service and to live an example of discipleship in accordance with the words of David. These and other points were behind the sometimes strongly worded statements in the Letters and the resultant beliefs and practices that discouraged—or in some cases, limited—members from pursuing job opportunities or higher education, or from feeling at liberty to buy a house or property, or to invest in their or their family’s long-term future, etc.
We don’t know when the Lord will return, but as we said in “The Change Journey”: “When it comes to our preparations for the future, we’d be wise to plan as if it were later rather than earlier. It’s prudent for us to be prepared for the possibility that the Lord won’t decide to return at the time we hope or think He should return. If we think His return will be later, and we make plans and set goals accordingly, but then the Lord comes back earlier, we’ll be in Heaven, and our preparation will not have hurt us. But if our general mindset is that the Rapture is going to be in, say, 10 to 15 years, then we’ll plan accordingly, and if we’re wrong, we’ll be found wanting.”52
If we each continue to use the mission as a touchstone in our decisions, and we do our best to demonstrate Jesus’ love and offer a witness to all that we can, then whether we are living communally, living on our own or with our personal family, building a thriving mission work, going to college, owning a business, working at a company, pioneering a new witnessing venture, or distributing Family products, we can still be faithful to serve and witness “while it is day.”53
We also believe that the Lord will continue to call a number of Family members—just as He has called Christians in this manner for generations—to forsake all, as Peter, James, and John did;54 to forsake “houses, brethren, family, and land”55 for His sake; to “give all they have to the poor” as Jesus told the rich young man, and to follow Him.56 But this is a specific calling, and the Lord does not ask or expect this of everyone, even of everyone in the Family—and neither do we.
If the Lord has called you to full-time service, you can know that we are behind you 100 percent, and that the Family will provide an environment that facilitates those with this calling. If that is the dream the Lord has given you, it’s a great and honorable one, and we encourage your pursuit of it.
If the Lord has given you another calling or dream that you are pursuing for His glory, you might be in your home country, or at work, or on campus, but still putting passion into witnessing, serving Jesus, being a living example of Christianity, and helping others to the best of your ability in the time that you are able to give. Your endeavors also have our backing, and there is room in the Family for you to follow the path the Lord is leading you on, even if it doesn’t entail “dropping out” or being a full-time missionary. That will not be seen as a “lesser” or “second-best” choice. You are equally welcome in the Family.
The Family will be geared toward supporting and facilitating its members’ mission- and faith-related needs and goals. So whether you are a career missionary or a mission-work builder, and feel that the Family is the right place for you to serve the Lord, or whether you are part of the Family because you consider the Family your church and fellowship of faith, and you want to facilitate and participate in the mission as you are able, the environment of the Family will be a supportive one.
All are needed, welcome, and appreciated.
To recap, by identifying these contextual factors of the past and how they have affected or remained in our culture today, our aim is to bring our context up to date, and, ultimately, to change aspects of Family culture, as needed, in order to create an environment that:
- Enables TFI members to be successful and effective in the mission.
- Aids TFI members in being more fulfilled and fruitful in their service to Jesus, empowered to harness more of their personal passion and motivation, and experience more of the joy of the Lord.
It’s in your court to determine:
“What is the best way for me to engage in the mission? How far do I want to go? What sort of relationship with Jesus do I want to cultivate? How can I stay spiritually fed and cleansed?57 What is the example of Jesus that I should portray? What is the evidence in my life of the fruits of the Spirit? What are my goals in serving the Lord? What type of life environment will be conducive to my mission goals? What is Jesus asking of me? What will I give Him?”
As we each consider questions of this nature, seek the Lord for His will for our lives, and do our best to follow Him, the new Family of the future will emerge.—And we believe that it will be a more vibrant, productive Family, as members will have the liberty and room to pursue the Spirit, following Jesus wherever He leads.
Copyright © 2010 by The Family International