Reboot-01: Change Journey Manifesto

From XFamily - Children of God
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Change Journey Manifesto

By Peter; The Reboot Series - Part 1 of 20; 25 May 2010

We are standing at the edge of the cliff, poised to dive into the future, into the new. Mama and I feel a range of emotions. We’re excited, concerned, hopeful, and, frankly, a bit scared.

The reboot is here. You’ve been waiting for months to hear about the changes. We’ve been working for months to prepare them for you. It’s a watershed moment—one that will change the Family forever, that will affect each of us deeply and personally.

We sincerely thank you for your patience in waiting for the reboot. We appreciate the trust and confidence that you have placed in Mama and me. We know that the wait has been difficult, and we consider that a personal gift of love, as well as a manifestation of your deep trust in Jesus.

Our prayer is that the changes being initiated with the reboot will result in blessings, peace, joy, and growth in each of our lives individually and in the Family as a whole.

Changes of magnitude

We’ve noted several times in the past year that the changes coming will be significant. This was what the Lord indicated, and He was right. There are many changes, and they will run deep.

In times past, some of you have been in the position of anticipating promised change, but when the change finally arrived, it wasn’t as major as you had expected or hoped, or it seemed to fizzle out. You may have felt disappointed. Perhaps you felt that the changes were overhyped and underdelivered. This is not that type of change.

The changes that accompany our Family reboot are significant ones. In our assessment, these changes surpass any other changes in our Family history. But we’re not after expansive change simply for the sake of change. We’re aiming to create lasting change, in order to achieve our goals.1

Our primary goal is to introduce others to a personal relationship with Jesus, so that they experience His unconditional love, grow in faith, and pay it forward. As the Bible puts it, “to teach others to teach others.”2

To realize our goals, we must change Family context, Family culture, Family rules, and attitudes and mindsets that all of us in the Family have had for a long time. The very nature of the Family as a movement must sustain change. In turn, those fundamental changes to our organization will result in personal changes for and within each of us as we examine our personal convictions and adapt our priorities, values, and approach to serving the Lord.

Hence, the reboot is presenting all of us with massive change.

What was the tipping point?

Considering the nature and scope of the changes, you may wonder, What caused the move toward these drastic changes? What was the moment or event that brought a change in thinking? What triggered it all?

We’ve received a few letters from Family members asking about the “revelation” or “epiphany” that Mama and I must have had concerning the change journey.—The inference being that there was a singular moment when God revealed His plan for the change journey, and what it would mean and entail.

The truth is, I had no such epiphany. Nor did Mama.

We didn’t see C-H-A-N-G-E J-O-U-R-N-E-Y spelled out in red flaming letters on our bedroom wall. There was no burning bush experience. That would have been a revelation indeed, but it just didn’t happen that way.

Dad had many outright revelations, often in the form of visions and dreams. The Lord frequently spoke to him in such ways. But that’s not how the Lord speaks to us. The Lord has chosen to communicate with us through other means.

The way we follow God, the means through which we discover His leading, and the manner in which we lead the Family is less dramatic and of a more practical nature. It generally comes about through a combination of leadings from the Lord, counsel, deliberation, seeking His guidance and confirmation in prophecy, research, experimentation, etc.

If I were pressed to identify one turning point, it would have been when this simple sentence settled into my heart. “If we keep doing things the same way, we’ll have the same results.” That became Mama’s and my mantra for months.3 Anything that seemed unchangeable or untouchable was challenged by that truth.

I imagine that those who attended the countless change program meetings and discussions might have tired of hearing that saying, but it helped us to break out of old thinking and to stay the course of far-reaching change, especially when things were personally difficult and our faith was tested.

So, to answer the question: It was a process, not a moment.

Our journey

In February 2008, we launched the Offensive. At the onset of planning the Offensive, the Lord told us that it would be a catalyst for change in the Family.4 We thought, Great! Naturally, we were willing to make changes in order to enhance the Family’s witnessing, winning, and success in the mission.

As the Offensive launched, it became clear that in order for the Offensive to be successful, we would have to make significant changes in our Family lifestyle and culture. The Lord said: “The Family of the future will look very different than the Family of the past.”5 At this point we started to get an inkling of the degree of change the Lord was nudging us toward.

Thus began our journey of discovery. The key word being journey.

That’s the best way I can describe it. There was no instant enlightenment. Full understanding of the depth and breadth of the changes wasn’t delivered to us quickly or easily. While there would have been no fuss from us had God chosen to deliver the reboot package to us ready-made, the truth is this: We had to go on the change journey, as did the whole Family. Perhaps our change journey started a little earlier than yours, but it has been no less a journey.

It has been—and continues to be—a journey of faith. The Lord said to get ready, and we did our best. We knew things were going to be different because the Lord said so. He said we would have to take risks. We wondered what those would be. What kind of risks? How hard will they be to take? Looking back, we identify with how Abraham must have felt, as he “went out, not knowing whither he went.”6

We didn’t realize how all-encompassing the changes would be. We thought the full picture would come together more quickly. We didn’t anticipate that it would be as difficult as it was, but that proves God’s wisdom, as it might have been too much for us to understand or accept had we seen the whole picture at once. While He hid some (or many) things from our sight initially, ultimately He led us.

He fulfilled His word.

The new Family

In 2008, we began to analyze the Family, one aspect at a time: where we had come from, the contexts of various eras, how our culture had developed, the strengths, the weaknesses, the beauties, the warts.

Through our analysis—which spanned many months—we came to a realization that we had not started out with. We realized that we needed to drastically remodel the Family, making it, essentially, a new Family. The word new could give the impression that we’re doing away with all of the past and not retaining any of what we’ve had or known thus far. That’s not the case. We aren’t doing away with our previous organization entirely, but we are changing much. We will modify, upgrade, revise, update—even reverse. We will retain the key aspects of the Family’s foundation, but because so much will be different, because so much will change, we will essentially be a new Family.

Mama and I have struggled with the idea of altering the Family so markedly. But after much time and prayer, the Lord showed us that in order to place the Family in a position to be more successful in the mission, there were fundamental points that had to change. We had to be willing to let go of the past to embrace the future; otherwise, we, as the Family, would be crippled in our efforts.

Our new Family will be a blend of principles that have stood the test of time and some new cornerstone principles, which the Lord has shown us are vital to build our future upon.

"Nearly everything is changing!"

Once you’ve read all the reboot material, you may feel like, Wow. That’s quite an array of changes! How did we get to this point? How did it happen that so much is changing? So much culture, including things that we’ve held dear as Family members.

Mama and I will be the first to admit that the changes are sweeping. Some changes strike at central points of Family life and practice. Some things are changing that we previously fought long and hard to keep front and center.

Mama and I have also struggled with the scope of the changes. We acknowledge that this can be difficult to deal with. It raises a lot of questions.

While you may be thrilled by some or many of the changes, there may be others that you’re not so happy about—or not at all happy about. We understand. That’s natural. There are some things about the change program that we don’t like so much either. But the Lord impressed on us that the Family had to change—and change in a big way. When you make one change, it affects other things. Then you have to look at all the related points, and often those points require adjustment as well.

Our Family culture is tightly woven. Our lifestyle has blended the spiritual and practical. Hence, it wasn’t possible to pick and choose, to “just change this” or to “just change that.” We quickly saw that implementing major change in any area would have the proverbial ripple effect, touching almost every aspect of our lives.

Some of the things up for change are close to Mama’s and my heart. We’ve lived our Family beliefs, we’ve been part of the culture, we’ve operated within the same contexts as you have. We’ve run the gamut of the questions, emotions, and even shock that you may face in realizing how the reboot will forever change the Family.

And it will.

From our perspective

The responsibility of spiritually guiding and directing the Family has always been challenging for Mama and me, but never as arduous as it has been since the beginning of the change journey. The desperation we have felt in charting the path for the new Family has been immense.

While we understood from the onset that major change—and major risk—was needed, and we grasped some of what the change would entail, we didn’t initially realize how deep the change would reach. We didn’t fathom all the potential repercussions of the change, or the personally painful and difficult process required to bring about that change.

We took the first steps of the change journey, our hearts willing to make whatever modifications or adjustments were needed, though we quickly discovered the magnitude of the changes that had to be made. It meant evaluating and assessing everything in the Family. It meant identifying what needed to change, how it should be changed, why it should change, what the original premise was for some aspect of the Family that we were changing, and what the premise of the new approach would be.

As we went deeper into the changes, the reasons for them, and what we were hoping to accomplish through them, it became clear that the changes would not be solely policy or structural changes. Rather, they would require a shift in the philosophy of the Family as a movement, and in our focus and priorities. It has required getting to the core of why the Family has done things the way we have for 40 years, and then making the decision to change many of those things.

We haven’t undertaken this process lightly. Desperation, emotion, soul-searching, and prayer have been our constant companions since the beginning of this journey. We’ve searched our hearts, scrutinized our leadership. As a result, we’ve asked ourselves many difficult questions: Did we get it wrong somewhere? Has our leadership been flawed?

The change journey is humbling for Mama and me. It’s been hard to analyze our leadership, to critique the decisions we’ve made over the past 15 years, to receive letters from many of you sharing your burdens, concerns, and in some cases strong criticism. We’ve honestly looked at these matters, and in giving them sincere consideration, we have more fully realized our inadequacies and insufficiencies.

That change was needed was not a question for Mama and me. What has been so difficult for us personally has been the wrench of departing from the well-worn path of our last 40 years, as well as developing the new principles on which to base the new Family.

Departing from some of the premises that Dad established when he founded the Family, which were built on his interpretation and application of the Word, has also been a difficulty in our personal change journey.

Knowing how challenging it would be for some of you to face these changes, since they will affect each of your lives, also weighed heavily on us. Not wanting to hurt you or your faith, not wanting to make your life more difficult by bringing disruption within the fabric of the Family, not wanting to make a mistake or “miss it” somehow when we were having to do this relatively quickly, all played into the difficulty of making these changes.

Do the changes equal compromise?

To answer this, we have to look at our definition of compromise.

In the past we’ve equated certain actions or practices with “compromise,” such as taking on secular employment or sending our children to outside school. We’ve also grown to automatically associate certain actions or lifestyle choices with being “revolutionary” or “committed.”

We’ll now be allowing or encouraging certain practical things that have been considered compromise (or grounds for compromise), and we’ll no longer be requiring other things that we’ve felt manifested revolutionary discipleship and commitment.

As we make these changes, it’s important for us all to realize that staying true to Jesus and steering clear of the snare of compromise is a matter of the heart. Whether we fall prey to compromise or not is the result of the choices we make. Conviction is about holding to our beliefs, being true to the Lord. Our convictions are preserved or cast aside by the decisions we make and the actions we take. Conviction is demonstrated in our vigilance to live our lives as followers of Jesus.

In relation to the risk of compromise, especially now that so much will be changing in the Family, I’ve often been reminded of and have gained faith from what the Lord said in a message in “The Ride of Your Life,” to the effect of: “If you want the assurance that you’re not compromising, look in the mirror. You’re the assurance. I can tell you to do something completely different from anything in the past, but it won’t equal compromise unless you choose to compromise in spirit.”7

The Lord might lead you to take on secular employment, but He will still expect you to not allow greed in your heart and to not compromise your spiritual values for gain. Your change journey might take you to a place where you will be living on your own, in a non-communal environment, but that doesn’t mean that you will inevitably lose the spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie with fellow Family members. Being true to your faith and values are decisions that you make, in accordance with your faith and conviction before Jesus.

In making these changes, our intention is not that the Family cools down in spirit. We want our fire, passion, and purpose to be as red-hot as ever, giving warmth and light to many. The strength of our collective light is made up of the fire within individual hearts. If we each commit to keeping our spiritual fires raging by protecting them, stoking them, and tending to them, our collective light will attract many to Jesus.

Are we compromising as an organization by making these changes? No. Though practical matters and mindsets are changing, our bedrock foundation remains strong.—Jesus, salvation, preaching the Gospel, living for the Lord, discipleship, living a godly Christian life, etc. We are changing the requirements for how we expect those things to be manifested. Or, put another way, we’re updating the way in which some of those principles are expressed in our lives. Nevertheless, our enduring Christian convictions remain the same.

Will individuals compromise? We hope not, but some probably will. We will all face personal tests along these lines; that’s part of life and the faith walk. Yet if we keep Jesus at the center of our lives, even our stumbles can result in increased conviction and spiritual strength.

The question of compromise versus conviction is a matter for each person to settle with Jesus. Compromise can’t be judged solely by circumstances or practices.

The heart is where conviction lives and thrives.

Giving account to you

As the Family’s top leadership, Mama and I bear the responsibility for the changes being introduced with the change journey. We are fully aware that the scope of the changes being made will result in the Family of the future looking very different from the Family of today. We will do our best to explain why we feel such changes need to be made.

The responsibility to discover how God is leading, to make the right calls, and to give account to each of you for these monumental decisions weighs heavily on us. We have been very desperate with the Lord. We are painfully aware of the fact that this job is bigger than us, than our wisdom, our skills, or our leadership experience.

If we were going to dismantle much of the old, we had to be convinced there was no other recourse. We asked the Lord more times than I can remember if we were going in the right direction, and each time He confirmed that we should continue. As we persevered in following the Lord, the specific changes came into focus over a period of time. Perhaps the Lord knew we weren’t ready to hear it all at once.

People have commented that they’re not sure the Family will survive the change journey. It’s true; there is that possibility. Conversely, the Family might not survive if we were to continue as we have been. The Family’s future is yet to be determined; the outcome hinges on the sum total of all our personal decisions.

Despite the risk, despite the personal cost to Mama and me, and despite what we know it will cost each one of you, we accepted that the only option was major change. Anything other than the changes we are making would be a Band-Aid, not an enduring solution.

The Lord has strongly impressed upon us that these changes must be made, and there is no turning back. We consider this a make-or-break moment for the Family.

"Why now? Why not sooner?"

This is the 64-million-dollar question. Or one of them, anyway.

Over the last months, I’ve been asked a number of times: “Do you think these changes should have been made years ago?”

My initial response is usually: “Honestly, I wish they had been. For one, we would be done with the change journey by now.” (It’s a lot of work!)

A second question often follows: “So do you believe we missed it, then?”

My first thought is that it’s kind of people to phrase their question so gently. What they’re actually asking is: “So do you believe you missed it, then?” And that’s a fair question.

In order to answer that question, I’m going to cover a little of our history, as Mama and I experienced it.

The transition

In October 1994, Dad went to his heavenly reward. He left Mama and me with the charge of directing and administrating the Family. We had basically been doing the job for the previous four years, while Dad shifted gradually from active leadership into semi-retirement mode. Still, the full responsibility was not ours. Dad was still with us, teaching and guiding, and ultimately responsible.

Then, from one day to the next, we were officially responsible for the Family. The penny dropped, as they say. Dad’s shoes were big ones to fill. But with his passing, we received a different—and fuller—anointing than we had had before to help us do the job. Still, we were new to leadership in the sense of being ultimately responsible.

The first years of our leadership

We came into full responsibility in our leadership at an unusual time. I was fully engaged in work on the Charter (which had started a year before Dad’s passing). Mama was busy with Family administration, counseling leadership, and writing Letters to the Family.

We were set on course toward a significant point of change in the Family—the release of the Charter.8 This was our most immediate and major focus.

The Charter resulted in widespread (and welcome) change for the Family. As the pendulum swung toward more freedom and individuality, there were repercussions to be addressed, which became a focus during the ensuing five years.

Meanwhile, Mama and I were establishing our spiritual footing as the heads of the Family. We were learning how to receive the Lord’s messages of counsel and instruction in prophecy, and how to pass them on to you.

A notable emphasis was prophecy, as Mama delved deeper into learning about this spiritual gift. One of her passions was teaching Family members how to hear from God personally, to receive encouragement, counsel and instruction.9

We focused on addressing immediate Family needs.

The Family’s oldest teenagers had become young adults; we gave focus to encouraging and facilitating their transition into roles of responsibility in the Family and in leadership.10

At the same time, the British court case was underway. A number of persecutions and court cases had recently come to a close. Family members who were affected needed time and help to recover.

The reconciliation ministry was born.11

It was a busy time in Family history.

Family fundamentals

Dad, as the founder of the Family, forged the path on which we traveled as a movement. Likewise, he built the model which the Family adhered to. He set the fundamentals in place in such things as our purpose (fulfilling the Great Commission, living like Jesus’ disciples), our cultural views (dropping out of mainstream society, being anti-churchianity), key lifestyle points (communal living, Acts 2:44–45, One Wife, living by faith), and some of our unique beliefs.

When Mama and I assumed leadership, we continued on the path which Dad had set the Family on. We worked within Dad’s established model. That was the natural thing to do, considering that Dad was the founder of our movement. He was not only the prophet, he was also our teacher.

During Dad and Mama’s marriage of 25 years, he was Mama’s spiritual guide, her mentor in leadership.

My spiritual foundation was built on Dad’s teachings and his knowledge of the Bible during my early years in the Family. I then lived with Dad for 14 years, during which time he trained me in matters relating to the Family, to administration, finances, and leadership.

Dad was a teacher in every sense of the word. He was an effective mentor. Most every aspect of Mama’s and my life was profoundly and deeply influenced by Dad—perhaps most notably our foundation of faith and leadership lessons.

Hence, we followed in the path that he had charted. We built on the model he had set up. We operated in alignment with the training we had received. This was the context that Mama and I, as new leaders of the Family, worked in.

When you’re new to leadership, it takes time to find your footing, to hit your stride. The way to gain experience is by doing, trying, failing, and learning. There’s no shortcut to growth. Although we had a measure of experience, it was still a learning process.

As we look back at the early years of our leadership, we see some things that we would do differently today. We recognize some of the ups and downs of our adaptation and growth into our leadership responsibilities. With experience comes wisdom, which we pray we have gained, and can use to serve you better.

Same path, same model

Back to the 64-million-dollar question. In the same vein, two other questions that we’ve been asked are: “Why did it take so long to recognize that the Family was due for change?” And, “Why didn’t you make at least some of these changes sooner?”

Again, fair questions.

It seems obvious now that the Family needed change, and fairly substantial change. I believe that the majority of Family members would agree on that.

So why didn’t we catch on sooner? Did we think everything was just fine? Were we unwilling to change?

Mama and I have honestly discussed these questions. We’ve looked back over the years. We’ve retraced our thought processes, as best we could. We’ve gone back to various counsel we’ve given the Family, recalling our intent in putting it forth. We’ve analyzed the last 15 years of our leadership.

In our discussions, we explored a number of factors that likely influenced the timing of the change journey. We have concluded that the primary factor was that Mama’s and my guiding mindset was that of following the path that Dad had set the Family on. We were walking in his footsteps. We were building on the model he had presented. Our aim was to preserve what had been entrusted to us.

Dad cherished the Family; it was his legacy. As his successors, we sought to uphold his legacy, and, if possible, to build on it, to enhance it. We felt responsible to preserve the example of “living the words of David.”

Being new leadership of a worldwide religious movement, we didn’t consider diverging from the well-defined path, model, and culture that we had been trained and taught in. We weren’t so confident in our anointing or leadership experience that we’d think of questioning the model that the Family had been based on for over 25 years. Having so recently taken responsibility for the Family, that would have been very difficult for us to do—in fact, it would have been almost inconceivable at that point in time.

With our premise being to build on the model of the Family that we’d had in place for over 25 years, our approach became one of trying to fix and address the Family’s problems within the bounds of Family culture and context.

As an example, in 1995 the Charter was instituted in order to address a variety of problems, issues, and needs. It introduced (then) radical change into the Family, yet stayed within the bounds of the model that Dad had set up. In the years that followed, as various needs and problems surfaced, we gave prayer and attention to them, working to bring about solutions to the best of our ability—again, within the existing model.

We knew there were problems, and we’ve published numerous Letters during the last ten or so years addressing those problems. Series like “The Shakeup 2000—the S2K!” (1999), “Conviction versus Compromise” (2001), and the more recent Family restructuring (2004/2005, board criteria, Home reviews) were attempts to address and correct problems or weaknesses of the day.12 The intent was to strengthen the Family as a whole, and individual members, so that we could better do the job, and, concurrently, to preserve the dropped-out, revolutionary practices that set us apart from the world.

Did we think everything was just fine? Certainly not. As is evidenced by the numerous Letters through which we attempted to bring about progress and improvement.

Were we unwilling to change? I believe we were willing, but the premise we operated on put a natural limit on the scope of change that we considered. We did introduce change, but it was also within the existing context.

So why didn’t we catch on sooner? Because our mindset and aim was to follow the path, to build within the existing model that Dad had established. Our commitment to preserve the example of full-time discipleship based on living the words of David was also a factor.

We realize that not all of you will find these answers satisfactory, but since this is honestly how Mama and I have seen these events, we are explaining our thinking and reasons.

Why didn't God step in?

You may wonder, Couldn’t the Lord have told you that big change was needed—as well as the details? Even if that meant overriding your mindset and limitations, it seems it would be easy enough for Him to reveal this to you.

It certainly does seem that way. Mama and I believe that the Lord could have told us. Even though we were working within a particular framework and were limited by our mindsets or our expectations, the Lord is certainly not limited.

Could we have lacked faith? Yes, our faith is not perfect.

Did we miss something? We certainly could have. For us to assume that we’ve gotten everything just right is unrealistic. We acknowledge that there are things that we haven’t seen or gotten exactly right. This has happened before, and it will happen again.

Perhaps Mama and I needed to try all other options before we would be willing to consider implementing such far-reaching change, and the Lord allowed things to happen that way. Maybe the Family as a whole wasn’t yet ready to transition into our future. Perhaps part of His plan involved the experience that we each gained through those years, and the spiritual training we received through using prophecy, the keys and other spiritual weapons, and availing ourselves of spirit help.

Might He consider the mistakes we’ve made, lessons gained, and resultant humility and a closer walk with Him to be of greater worth than the change journey beginning a few years sooner?

Mama and I don’t know or understand all the intricacies of how God works—His thoughts, His timetable, His choices, His all-surpassing knowledge. Why God didn’t reveal this to us sooner is a question we aren’t in a position to answer. Whether He was even trying to reveal it to us sooner—and we weren’t open enough—is another question.

Our hearts have been sincere before you and the Lord. We have been desperate. We heard from the Lord and followed as closely as possible. We did our best within the knowledge and faith that we had. Our personal belief is that the Lord has led the Family and that we were within the tunnel of His will. It could be that the change journey, as it’s unfolding now, is on the Lord’s timetable. But even if our timing hasn’t been spot-on, Mama and I trust that He can bring good from that, too.

A few things are certain. We can’t go back in time. We don’t know or understand everything. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”13

Regardless of what Mama and I think, or what you may wish would have been the case, this is where we are now. It’s possible that God wanted us to reach this point more quickly. It’s also possible that the deep and almost incomprehensible truth in the preceding verse factors in.

After all, there is a God, and we’re not Him.

So what changed?

During the years of restructuring, strengthening and training (2004–2007), we were working to prepare, train, and plan for the Offensive. The Lord made it clear that we needed to turn from an inward focus to an outward focus.14 Our aim was to get ready.

The Offensive was a catalyst, a pivotal point in bringing major change to the Family.

As we neared the launch of the Offensive, Mama and I directed more of our focus outward, which was a change for us. Our attention in the preceding years had been largely given to internal matters. We were spiritually guiding the Family, giving counsel concerning problems and weaknesses, and handling administrational, structural, leadership, and other matters, of which there is a constant flow.

When Mama and I began to turn our focus outward, when we started thinking and praying about the Offensive, that broadened our context. You were witnessing all along, of course. The change was mainly at the leadership level. Our focal point shifted. This led us to look at things primarily from the standpoint of the mission rather than primarily from the standpoint of internal matters.

Mama and I stated, “Mission is core. We’re going to put our focus there. This will be our primary touchstone.”

This changed the questions we had been asking, which resulted in finding new answers. We now asked, “Is this helping or hindering us in our mission efforts? Is this allowing us to do the mission in a greater way? Will this help us to be more relatable to those we’re trying to reach? What can we provide to Family members to help them be more successful in the mission?”

The mission wasn’t new; the difference was the intensity of focus put on the mission, especially at the leadership level. As a result, we stepped outside of the old context. We evaluated the established model. We looked at the path the Family was set on.

Changing our focus and priority altered our viewpoint. The landscape was changing. We asked more questions, new questions, and the answers reflected the prominence of the mission. Those answers pointed clearly toward big change.

For the mission

As we got down to business, it became clear that there were many aspects of the Family that did not lend themselves to success in the mission. For some years, in terms of winning new members to help us in the mission, the Family was not growing as we had hoped it would. We asked ourselves, our counselors, the regional shepherds, and the Lord, why?

Many of you have probably asked yourselves the same questions that Mama and I asked ourselves and others: “Why haven’t we been growing more? Why haven’t we been more successful in our mission?”

You’ve probably had some fairly accurate ideas of what the roadblocks to progress were.—Because, honestly, after we had reached the point of being willing to make any and all changes needed for the sake of the mission, it wasn’t too difficult to spot some of the factors that had been holding us back as a Family and stifling our progress.

We realized that the Family needed to be more relevant, more current, more relatable. The Family needed to be more inclusive, to welcome those who can’t engage in full-time service. The Family needed to be more appreciative of every person’s contribution to the mission.

Times had changed, and we needed to catch up. Our approach to reaching the world, along with some of our longtime lifestyle customs, was no longer that relevant to today. We saw that we needed a new model for the world of today. The world has changed immensely, and we’ve had to acknowledge that the Family had not changed sufficiently to keep up with the needs of the people we’re trying to reach, or even the needs of our own members.

Mama and I had to honestly admit that much of the Family’s culture, methods, membership requirements, lifestyle restrictions, and mindsets were simply not bringing forth the success and growth we are all looking for.

We held each issue up to key questions: “Does this promote or enhance the success of the mission? Is this a hindrance to the mission? Will this help Family members in doing the mission?”

The catalogue of issues to be considered for change was long and overwhelming, but clarity came as we utilized the touchstone of the mission.

Time to look beyond the model

Using our newly emphasized touchstone, we looked at the challenges and needs that the Family would likely face in relation to the mission. We looked at the present model and asked ourselves what might be hindering the Family from being successful in the mission. In doing so, it became apparent that we would need to be open to change that went beyond our existing context.

In previous years, we had worked to address Family problems and needs within the existing context and model. (“S2K,” “Conviction versus Compromise,” and the restructuring15 being three significant examples.) In examining our recent history and seeking the Lord about it, we became convinced that we had truly tried all options. Then (and only then) did we become willing to look beyond the context, beyond the model.

We concluded that trying to fix certain Family problems within the existing context and culture simply wasn’t working. Not to the extent that we hoped. More importantly, not in the way we hoped. Not with the results we had aimed for.

At the same time, we came to the point in our leadership where we had the confidence to say, “We’ve tried everything we can. The changes and fixes we’ve tried so far aren’t sufficient. We need to look beyond the current model. We need to look at the path we’re on. We need to look at a complete overhaul, if that’s what will bring the answers and enable us to accomplish our goals.”

We began to seek the Lord for different solutions, even if the answers were outside the limits of our current model or the traditional Family way. We became more open to the Lord revealing major change. Once our mindsets and limitations were removed, our faith began to expand.

Our general approach up to that point had been to add rules and regulations to the Family structure, in an attempt to shore up weak areas and to strengthen the Family. It’s not that rules and regulations are entirely ineffective. The various rules implemented over the last many years did effect change. They resulted in progress in many respects, and helped the Family overall to grow stronger.

At the same time, the layers of rules and regulations inhibited individual self-determination. They limited the ability to operate according to personal faith and God’s personalized will for each person’s life. They constrained the spirit in some ways. Our system lent itself toward individuals going by the book and navigating through a lengthy list of to-dos (albeit based on good principles). Achieving the “standard” via the numerous rules and regulations took center stage.

Too often, this hampered your ability to follow the spirit personally. It eclipsed your freedom to be motivated and driven by your own passion for Jesus, for the mission, for the personal calling given to you by the Lord.

Mama’s and my sincere aim in instituting such requirements was to strengthen the Family; to enhance the individual’s personal relationship with Jesus; to make us, as a Family, a stronger, more vibrant testimony of Jesus’ love. Ultimately—though the connection may not have been emphasized enough—it was for the purpose of winning the world. These are worthy, still important goals.

But the outcome of the changes and requirements we introduced did not always reflect our intentions. While much good was accomplished in individuals’ lives, many of you also felt a great deal of spiritual pressure and heavy weights as a result of the rules and requirements that we prescribed. Coming to this realization breaks our hearts. We want you to know that this strong and troubling awareness has been key to much of the change that will reshape our Family of the future.

Words seem lacking as we attempt to express our commitments to you, our dear Family. You have the liberty to follow God freely. You have the right to love and praise Him as He inspires you to. You have the responsibility to decide how you will walk in His footsteps as He requests. It is your birthright to burn brightly, fully, and in a unique way for God.

We commit to supporting you as you do just that.

Mama and I no longer plan to institute rules and regulations in an effort to motivate, strengthen, inspire, or prod Family members to greater service or personal spirituality.

Those days are past.

Dad's legacy

Amidst this time of change, I’ve thought a lot about Dad. I consider it an honor to have known him personally and to have received leadership training from him. Mama feels the same.

Dad had his faults and made his share of mistakes. His fiery personality and his leadership style were not always to my personal liking. Yet in the 14 years that I lived with him, I was profoundly impressed by his deep love for Jesus, his connection to Him and His Word, his love for the Family and Family members, and his devotion to living for the Lord and preaching the Gospel. That’s why I followed him. I’ve always hoped I could emulate him in these respects.

I always admired his willingness to change when God showed him to. It didn’t matter what it cost him personally. It didn’t matter if it was inconvenient. If God showed him to make an about-face on an issue, he did it. That’s another reason I followed him. I knew he followed God no matter what.

Mama and I watched Dad lead and govern the Family through many different phases. We saw the full range of what he experienced in order to run our organization—the prayer, desperation, faith, frustration, difficulty, concern, love, and grace. He used prayer and common sense in facing the challenges of running the Family.

He trained Mama for 25 years and me for 14 years. In the years since his death, Mama and I have applied what we learned from Dad to the best of our ability. We have veered from some of the ways he did things when the Lord showed us to, but for the most part, we have stayed fairly close to the principles he taught us.

To now come to a point where it’s necessary to move beyond some of the principles on which he established the Family has been extremely difficult for us. We know it’s the right thing to do, yet it comes at a personal cost.

In making these changes, Mama and I are concerned that they are not interpreted to mean that we consider that the way Dad started the Family, and the original foundations he built upon, were wrong, or that we see them as negatives. We don’t. He did what God showed him to do in his day. It worked. The Revolution for Jesus would have never started and spread across the globe otherwise. Yet it wasn’t without difficulty and some mistakes. Dad was human and fallible. The Family he built had its faults and failings.

Nevertheless, his legacy is a missionary movement which has endured for 40 years and has won over 34 million souls. Family members have personally witnessed to and helped—whether spiritually or physically—hundreds of millions, in over a hundred countries. You and I, every one of us, as well as the countless people whose lives were changed by the Lord in some way as a result of our witness, are part of his legacy.

Though we are making deep changes, it is in no way meant to negatively reflect on Dad’s achievements and the legacy he left us. Our prayer is that these changes will move the Family that he pioneered further toward the goal that he was always aiming for—to preach the Gospel to every creature. We treasure the Family he built. There would be no Family without him.

One of Dad’s hallmark teachings was to follow God, to obey what He shows, even if it means changing direction and letting go of the past. In honor of Dad, we are doing just that. We sincerely believe that the steps we are taking will transform the Family into a mission-focused organization that meets the needs of the world today and remains true to the core principles that he founded the Family on.

Your sacrifices, your faith

Throughout the years, you have worked tirelessly to preserve and strengthen the Family. You’ve made personal sacrifices to uphold what we considered important as a Family, and now some of those very things are changing. You could easily feel that the reboot changes are nullifying some of your sacrifices and labors over the years. As a result, you may have some deep concerns, questions, and hurts.

We want you to know that we don’t take your sacrifices for granted. We realize that you’ve lived your lives by the Word, by the Lord’s counsel, by our counsel to you. We hold your love and dedication to Jesus and to the Family in the highest esteem. You have given your all as unto the Lord because you felt called to serve Him. You are the grade of disciple that goes above and beyond. You have followed the Lord’s instructions for the Family in Dad’s teachings, and in Mama’s and my teachings. Your respect for Dad, and your trust in Mama and me, humble us.

We have the highest respect for you. And we know that regardless of what changes the reboot brings, the Lord will forever honor you for your sacrifices and labors, because you did it for Him, for others, for love. He will more than repay.

It’s difficult to express how much admiration Mama and I have for you. We look at what you’ve done, at all you’ve given, at the faith and trust you’ve manifested, at all of your sacrifices, and we marvel. You are truly God’s greats.

As Dad said about you in “Prayer for Love and Mercy”:

They are the diamonds of dust! They are the ones that catch Thy sunlight! They are the ones that shine! We are like the dirt on the floor which will catch them, and on which they can rest until Thy breath catches them and they float again into the sunlight! We are the carpet on the floor from which You lift them to shine! Help us to be there for them to rest upon. But help us to stand back and let them shine … just floating on Thy air—tumbling, rolling, scintillating, shining, exhilarating—so beautiful! These are Thy stars—they are the ones that are shining! They’re the ones You’re using! We are just lumpy clods of clay, but we have to be here to give them a place to rest—to hold them until You’re ready to use them again! … Help us just to be there, Lord!—just to be their servants—just to be there where You want us to be, Lord!16

That’s honestly how we feel. You are the ones who shine! You are the ones who light up this darkened world. You are the ones who show Jesus’ love. You are the ones who pour out selflessly, day in and day out. You are the ones who are Jesus’ hands and feet to others. You are His living, modern-day Word in loafers and heels.

Our prayer is that we can be your servants, to help you, to facilitate your great work, to be there for you.

Demystifying us

The change journey has been a learning process for us. Because it’s been by far the biggest challenge to date in our leadership of the Family, we’ve been reminded of the anointing the Lord has given us, and we have never been so grateful for it. It’s not necessarily the type or style of anointing that Mama and I would have preferred. We wouldn’t mind if the Lord worked with us by giving us instant revelations. But the anointing of faith to search for and find His will is what He has given us to do what He’s asked of us, and so we’ve worked with it as best we can.

The Lord is fully capable of speaking, relaying revelations, and performing miracles. But He’s chosen not to drop information out of the sky. He gives us general direction, which we will continue to pass on to you. He gives anointing and wonderful truth, He gives leading and guidance, but He’s still working through human beings. We’re still growing and learning. We’re humbled to know that He uses us in spite of our human flaws, weaknesses, and lacks.

While we receive prophecies almost every day, they’re usually not revealing specifics about the future or laying out a complete plan or answer from A to Z. That’s not the type of leadership anointing or gift of prophecy the Lord has given us. While the manner in which He’s chosen to guide us through the change journey has been a drawn-out process as opposed to receiving direct revelations, we’re grateful that He is leading. We have peace in our hearts that we’re doing what is right before Him.

We greatly depend on the help and counsel of others—including those of you who write us with your thoughts and opinions. In decision-making, we know we don’t have the wisdom on our own (even with the Lord’s guidance) to know all the details of a matter, to consider all sides, and so we value counsel.

We acknowledge and give God the glory for our strengths and the manifestations of our anointing, while also readily admitting our lacks, which have been present in the years that we’ve served you. God anointing us, and using and working through us doesn’t guarantee that everything we do and say will be right and perfect. Only God is perfect and complete.

I believe that the Lord limits us somewhat in our anointing, primarily because He doesn’t want us to be the all in all, the figures of state who have all of the answers, who get everything right, the mouthpieces who pass on pearls of wisdom every time we speak. There’s a lot He wants to tell you, personally. There’s a lot He leaves in your court, according to your choice and faith and free will. There’s a lot that He will not reveal to us, even as anointed spiritual leaders for the Family, because He wants to reveal it to you personally.

We’re grateful that through the change journey we’re getting better acquainted with our anointing and how the Lord works with us in our leadership role. We hope that providing you with some of these details “demystifies” us, in a sense, and how we work and operate. We hope that you are now in a better position to understand us, as well as our spiritual anointing and how the Lord works with us. We want to share these things with you—and we’ll address some related points in further reboot documents—in order to show you our humanness, to shed light on any unrealistic expectations, and to remove ourselves from any “pedestal,” so to speak. We want you to view our leadership anointing more realistically.

At the core, this is who we are: two individuals who love you deeply, who personally and sincerely care about you and your happiness and service to the Lord. We were tasked by the Lord, with Dad’s blessing, to serve and spiritually guide the Family, which we have done to the best of our ability. We realize that we have fallen short at times in providing you with what you need and deserve. We consider you some of the most amazing people on Earth, and this motivates us to give you our all.

We love Jesus with all our hearts. Our personal commission is to serve Him and others however and whenever we can. We are committed to living a Christian life that personifies the beauty of Jesus’ love, forgiveness, mercy, and truth. We’ll gladly—and with honor—support, encourage, and counsel anyone and everyone who wants to do the same.

The grieving process

While there are aspects of our past that we are happy to leave behind, there are other parts that are painful to separate ourselves from—parts that have served us well in the past and are very dear to our hearts, but are no longer relevant.

There are aspects of our distant or recent past that have, in part, defined who we are as an organization and as individuals, and that, at times, made us successful in our goals, but the Lord has shown us that they’re no longer a good fit for the present or the future.

It’s hard to let these things go. They have been part of “who we are” or “who we were”—things that we’re accustomed to doing or comfortable with, things that we have grown to cherish in the Family, or that shaped our growth in the Family, things that we’ve given years of our lives to promote and uphold, things that have been key in defining the Family as a religious movement.

While our minds may acknowledge the need to let them go, and the reasoning may be sound and clear, and we trust that it’s the Lord’s direction, it’s still painful. It’s emotional. Some of the fundamentals that we’re leaving behind, or no longer emphasizing or requiring, are things that we have loved and that have been important to us. It hurts to let them go. It can cause us to feel loss, to feel vulnerable and unsure of what the Family will become.

We bring this up because we, and those who have helped in assessing our past, present, and the needs of the future, have struggled with coming to terms with the need to let go of some parts of our past and present. As you read through the reboot material and absorb it, some of you may feel some of the same emotions we have felt.

It’s not that we’re having second thoughts about the changes being made. Neither are we hung up on certain aspects of Family life or doctrine or culture. But, as someone expressed to us when explaining the emotional turmoil of their experience, it’s a bit like going through an “identity crisis.” I think that’s a pretty accurate way to express what some of you might experience as you assimilate these changes—perhaps even what the Family as a whole will go through.

You might feel like you used to know who you were, what your identity was; there were specific elements that you felt defined you. Perhaps it was that you were the elite, an example of full-time discipleship, a part of God’s Endtime army. But as some of those elements—or other elements that made up part of your unique identity—change, you might feel like something very personal has been stripped away from you.—Just like that, from one day to the next.

You might wonder: Who am I now? What is my identity, personally and in relation to the Family of the future? You might feel shaky or uncertain for a while if you have associated some of the things that we’re changing with who you are as an individual, as a Christian, and as a Family member. You might find that you have to reinvent yourself as an individual, just as we are, in essence, reinventing the Family. As something goes to ashes, it’s both difficult and sad.

So if you feel this way or experience similar emotions, don’t be alarmed or feel that something is wrong with you or with the change process. It’s a natural reaction. It’s okay to grieve the loss of who we were and what we loved in the past. Mama and I are grieving the loss of some things too. We’ll need to re-create or update our personal identities, based on the principles of our new Family. This may take some getting used to, so let’s support each other through this time.

Some of you may be immediately thrilled with all of the changes, thinking, Finally. It’s about time. If that’s your sentiment, be aware that it might not be quite so easy for others. Some may be grappling with feelings of sadness or loss. Everyone will handle the reboot differently. Please be understanding and supportive of your loved ones, and realize that making this transition and finding closure can take time.

It’s our prayer that each of you will experience Jesus’ comfort, guidance, and assurance at this time, and thereby find personal peace and faith for your future.

Our passions, our plans

In closing, I want to say a word about how Mama and I see the Family today and what we envision for its future.

First, when we look back on the Family of the last 40 years, it makes us feel happy, proud, and satisfied. We’re not satisfied with everything, of course—we have made our share of mistakes and have plenty of room for improvement. But we feel a sense of accomplishment as a result of what the Family—which means each one of you and others who have gone before you—has accomplished to date.

We cherish the great amount of good that we can see in the past—so much love manifested for Jesus and others, so many hearts touched and changed forever because of selfless individuals who gave their lives to make the world a better place, to fulfill Jesus’ call. We feel privileged to be a part of such an outstanding group of individuals.

The past years of our history, though pocked with faults and failings, make us smile. We smile, because we know love was given and felt. We smile, because sad hearts received Jesus’ love and truth. We smile, because sacrifices were made that transformed the lives of others for the better. We smile, because of the souls that were saved, the broken lives that were healed, and the light that shone into the dark corners of the world. We smile when we think of all our happy memories, the victories won, the outstanding faith of so many.

Mama and I consider each of you to be family—like our personal family (just much bigger!). We feel bonded to you, connected to you. Even though the Family of the future will be vastly different from the Family of today, we aim to keep our link strong and close. We will be a Family of faith, always. We will travel into the future as such.

We look forward to where the Lord will take us in the future, as we build on our common goals and rally around our shared values. We want to excel in the mission, share our faith, experience the ups and downs of life together and celebrate diversity, while keeping our bonds of unity and camaraderie strong in spirit. Just like any family, our aim is to be there for each other in times of need. We share a bond, an invaluable spiritual network, that we cherish and will strive to preserve.

Mama and I are excited about the Family of the future and the energy and progress the change journey will unleash. We see so much possibility and potential. Breaking the box of our past culture, mindsets and context will make it possible for incredible things to happen. It will uncover unrealized possibilities throughout the Family. You will have more opportunities for following what God shows you; you will not be limited by the bounds of other people’s faith, including ours.

Mama and I are also eager to see how the Lord will unfold our personal future, and what new things He will guide us to do as leadership of the Family. While many things will change for you, a lot will change for us as well. The changes that free you to do the new and to follow God will do the same for us. The changes will free us from some of the responsibilities that we have carried in relation to individuals’ spiritual lives and service for the Lord. We hope to redirect some of that time to mission-related proactive matters.

Mama and I are honored and humbled by the love you’ve shown us all these years. We’re looking forward to ministering to you in new ways, and directing our focus to facilitating your efforts in the mission. We want to give our energy to your mission needs. We will grow into our new role, and it will no doubt come with a period of adjustment—just as there will be a time of transition for all of us—but thinking about the possibilities of the future inspires us.

We don’t know what the future holds (as far as the practical details and specifics, and the exact outcome of every change), but we do know a few things:

  1. We have a crucial mission: reaching the world with God’s Word, love and truth.
  2. We’re following God, by faith.
  3. We will encourage each of you to follow the Lord where He leads you.

As we do the above, together, the potential is enormous! As God empowers each member to reach those He wants them to reach, in the way He wants them to reach them, these collective efforts will build the Family of the future.

By God’s grace, the Family of tomorrow will be an organization that facilitates its members’ efforts in doing the mission, that provides a sense of community and brotherhood and faith, that serves to enhance the strengths and gifts of others. We will put the best of our time and effort into helping the Family to fulfill the mission in a big way. By God’s grace, the Family will leave its mark on history.

Our hope is that we will use the skills we’ve honed in our spiritual lives, our prayer training, our knowledge of the Word, our understanding of Heaven and the spirit world, our ability to hear from Jesus fresh for today, our faith in the Lord’s ability to work and move in every situation, our enthusiasm for pioneering, our adaptability, our missionary experience, our willingness to understand and relate to other cultures and peoples, and all that we’ve gained during every era of Family history, to make a difference in the lives of others today and in the future like never before.

Mama and I are passionate about Jesus. We are passionate about the mission. We are passionate about the Family, which means you, our dear Family members. You are full of the Lord, His Spirit and love. You are vehicles through which others can interact with Jesus in a special and personal way. With all that you have learned and experienced in your years of service, we know that the Lord will lead you in new and wonderful ways. He will unleash your potential like never before. You are the Family! You are the ones who are going to make our future happen!

We have a lot of truly great people in the Family. We share a wealth of experience, outstanding memories, common bonds, tremendous talent, drive, experience in forsaking all and following God, and so much more. When like-minded individuals with similar faith and a shared bond combine their personal initiative and dreams with following God, there’s no stopping point. Together we can do great things!

Copyright © 2010 by The Family International