Yesterday, I discussed the need to guard our students from unhealthy ministry… and I started with the most obvious enemy: actual cults.
But simply unbalanced or otherwise unhealthy college ministries can be nearly as harmful as cults, yet they are much harder to spot. And from what I’ve seen and heard around the country, campuses are filled with present examples and recent stories of the harm caused by such ministries.
While this is no perfect list, here are five issues that have led to unhealthy college ministry:
- Unbalanced teachings springing from otherwise orthodox positions
- Unhealthy or unbecoming ministry methods
- Overemphasis on single spiritual disciplines or areas of discipleship
- Authoritarian leadership or unhealthy devotion to ministry leaders
- Isolationist ideas, in which certain ministries or methods are held to be the truly “right way”
Please remember, when I first presented this series at a college ministers’ conference, I had been asked to provide a sort of “top ten” list of ideas college ministers should consider, based on everything I’ve seen around the U.S. So I wouldn’t be bringing this up if I didn’t think it was a really important concern and an actual, widespread problem.
While I don’t believe cults and other unhealthy ministries are running rampant on America’s campuses, I do believe that many campuses are affected by “unhealth” in one way or another. And the even bigger problem is that things can go from bad to worse on a single campus easily within one school year.
So unless we’re helping check problematic ministry teachings, methods, and leaders, we run a pretty scary risk.