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Articles

AVOIDING SPIRITUAL AND PRACTICAL DISAPPOINTMENT

Dr. Kirby Clements
The rise of any spiritual movement usually generates interest and emphasis upon a certain doctrine, practice, and behavior. There develops a minority that seem to become designated as the leaders. Around such leadership there is the formation of conferences, networks, associations and a host of publications.

The rise of  any spiritual movement usually generates  interest and emphasis upon a certain doctrine, practice, and behavior.  There develops a minority that seem to become designated as the leaders.  Around such leadership there is the formation of conferences, networks, associations and a host of publications.  Generally, there is a geographic location such as a city, town or country that serves a headquarters.  The spiritual and psychological momentum associated with the rise and the plateau of such movements generates a highly contagious and attractive force that influences the movement of other groups in the same direction.  During the plateau periods, there are occasional splits or developments of new groups from the "mother" group.  Such developments can at times be friendly and at other times adversarial. 

 

The decline of the spiritual movement generates a shift in the leadership focus.  Networks and association that have formed around a doctrine, practice, or even a leadership begin to fragment in search of something new or different.  There is generally a decline in conference attendance and a shift of geographic focal points.  Such behavioral responses to the decline produces psychological and even spiritual consequences.  Psychological responses or reactions such as confusion, resentment, anger, betrayal, guilt and frustration are experienced by leaders and followers.  Leaders experience feelings of betrayal, loss, anxiety, frustration and even resentment over their declining influence.  Individuals who have specialized in the movement find themselves disoriented, confused, and depressed because of  the impending  spiritual and practical unemployment.

 

If spiritual movements are viewed as means to an end and not an end in themselves, some healthy responses and benefits can be derived.  If the former leaders can seek for new associations and form healthy coalitions with rising movements without desiring to maintain their preeminence, this is good.  If there can be some instruction or teaching given to the followers that can enable them to engage a new leadership, principle, doctrine, and practice without the challenge of guilt or condemnation, this would be good.  If the principles and practices of the previous movements can be properly integrated into succeeding movements, this would certainly demonstrate the connecting principle of all reformations.  Reformations or moves of God all represents divine initiatives and human responses to the challenge of returning to classical Christianity.  Therefore, each movement should be viewed as a piece of a larger puzzle and not a complete commodity in itself.

 

The integrity of the local church can be preserved if these activities are managed properly.  It is the local churches that generally experience negative consequences when these declining movements are not managed.


 

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