Thursday, 11 June 2015

Surviving Separation from the Potters House Network of Churches

 “Reflections on a Separation from The Potters House Network of Churches”. 


Introduction:
I have been asked to share some of my reflections regarding the Jan 2015 separation from Potters House. Though at first unsure, thinking of the amount of pastors (and congregants) that have gone through their own separation from Potters House in the past, it may be helpful for others in processing this journey.

The following list of 44 pastors no longer in the Potters House UK or churches shut down is not exhaustive and (does not include the amount of congregants that leave and multiple dozens of redirected pastors) is only from memory; however what it does show, is that statistically a significant number of current pastors will go through their own separation from Potters House within the next few years (when this post was written less than 3 years ago the number was 32 & has now grown to 44!).



Peter Bayerman – (Started Walthamstow - No Longer in PH);
David Vicary (Bury St Edmunds: Walthamstow - No Longer in PH);
John Galt (Bury St. Edmunds- No Longer in PH);
Dave Foster (Scotland churches shut down- No Longer in PH);
Neil Watts? (Started Cambridge - church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Trevor Bradshaw (Started Torquay - church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Jon Spurgeon (started Wembley church left PH - No Longer in PH);
Toks Odofin (Started Shepherds Bush, church left the fellowship- No Longer in PH);
Clement Okusi (started Croydon- No Longer in PH);
Kevin Brown (Dundee church shut down- No Longer in PH);
George Tafla (started Kilburn church shut down- No Longer in PH);
John Onelum (started Ealing; Manor Park church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Tony Ogunike; (- No Longer in PH)
Kelvin Roy-Palmer (started Tottenham; Ghana; Guyana; West Bromwich- No Longer in PH);
Kantz Mizra (Barry, Wales church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Craig Thomas (started Cardiff- No Longer in PH);
Everton Brown (started Watford- No Longer in PH);
Roy Hewitt (started Wandsworth- No Longer in PH);
Easton Wilson (started Bolton- No Longer in PH);
Jason Morris (started Wolverhampton- No Longer in PH);
Chris ? (started Woolwich- No Longer in PH);
Kodjo Abolou (Marseille church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Fola Oyediran (started Jos; Nigeria; & Dublin church - No Longer in PH);
Gary Taylor (Newcastle- No Longer in PH);
Michael Nicholau (Started Edmonton - church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Alex Amaku (Started Kilburn church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Nigel Davies (started Norwich- No Longer in PH);
Michael Lopez (Nottingham- No Longer in PH);
Jim Calhoun (sic) (Edinburgh church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Richard Tull (Started Merton &Clapham church - both shut down- No Longer in PH);
Topps Oluwatobi (Started Hackney - church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Andrew Martin (Brighton- No Longer in PH);
Clyde Planter (Bristol- No Longer in PH);
Emmanuel Okonkwo (Anthony Village Lagos; Nigeria- No Longer in PH),
Ashley Charles (Canterbury- No Longer in PH),
Paul Pritchard (Started Stockport church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Kosi Amesu (Manchester- No Longer in PH);
Yomi Oluwatobi (Liverpool- church shut down- No Longer in PH);
Juvencio Da Silva (Started Oldham church shut down);
Ephraim Morgan (Started Openshaw Manchester church shut down);
Christian Chukuwelu (Brighton- No Longer in PH);
Ben Baiden (Started Deptford - Church shut down);
George Oduro Mensah (Started Spelthorne - Church shut down);
Jonathon Beckford (Started Oxford Church shut down);


Freedom
When going through a separation from a heavy handed shepherding network, you can feel a tremendous sense of freedom and release from their standards and legalistic control. My wife & I were able to attend more Saturday evening restaurants, shows and family gatherings together in the first nine months out of PH then we did in the five years prior. The danger however, is that is in this ‘new found freedom’ you drop your guard, cross boundaries and enter into devastating sin. This is often, used by the network as an example of ‘look what happens when you leave PH’ to the extent there is an expectation that those who leave PH will fail.
Most have heard the adage do not throw out the baby out with the bathwater, but the challenge is recognising what is the bath water to be thrown away and what is the baby to be kept? PH do not allow TV’s, Cinemas, Beards, Alcohol, Brides to walk up the aisle on their wedding day, bible college, mixing with other churches and you have to sign contracts. Whilst most Churches do not have a TV or Cinema ban or contracts they may have views or standards on alcohol for example. The baby to be kept in Christianity will always be Prayer, Fasting, Bible reading, worship, and Evangelism.

Different people will take different amounts of time to process leaving a network like PH; some say it took them several years to readjust to balanced biblical living. For us the most challenging part was the first ninety days but gradually we began to heal and readjust to our new paradigm.

What to do?
Maintain boundaries and resist temptation, but generally unless something obviously needs to be changed immediately proceed slowly, give it at least six – twelve months before making major changes. For example we have not had a TV in our home for twenty years and though we have been out of the network for a year now we still do not have one (yet).


Faith
When you become a part of a church network, it invariably shapes your thinking & worldview, especially if you are ‘saved’ in it. You buy into their ethos and vision. In fact these might have been the very qualities that attracted you to them in the first place.

However the danger with this is that your Christian worldview may be limited or even distorted by your context. In other words you must believe that God is bigger, wider, deeper, higher and more accurate than you or your networks theological viewpoint. Ephesians 3:20 (TLB) says this: Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of-- infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. 

If your faith is confined only to the perspective of your network, then should you be separated from that network, your faith may struggle to adapt, especially if some (erroneously) equate separation from a network as separation from Christ, the will of God or the Church universal (Matthew 16:18).

This means you must have a reservoir of scripture and theological understanding upon which you can draw upon to help you move towards your God ordained destiny and future. You must know that your destiny is never limited to a network or leader but like Joseph and David, is bound up in the bundle of the living with God himself (Genesis 37-50; 1st Samuel 25:29).

What to do?
You must cultivate a broader viewpoint of Christianity, which requires you connecting with perspectives & people beyond your network. This may involve you reading other authors and perspectives than those espoused by your network. For others this may involve biblical courses and education (many can be done online). I obtained University degrees in theology whilst pastoring full time, which enabled me to get a broader perspective.

You do not need formal theological education to pastor successfully, but one of the things formal education does is teach you is to ‘ask’ and ‘answer’ questions’ about what you believe (1st Peter 3:15). Many controlling networks do not like people to ask questions or to think independently and this can lead to accusations of rebellion and independence.

Finances
When you become part of a network invariably your finances become entwined in it, by virtue of your giving into the vision of the network via tithes, offerings, pledges, love offerings, world evangelism, mission, conferences, etc. For example, many sincere congregants and pastors have made huge financial sacrifices in supporting their network.

Another way your finances are entwined in a network is if you are receiving your main income from the network by virtue of your role as a pastor, evangelist, or staff member. Pastors have families to feed and bills to pay like everyone else. Now being separated from the network becomes more than just a theological issue but one of economic survival, especially the older you get (Luke 16:3-9).

Ministers have been known to stay in a network they strongly disagreed with purely for financial reasons to the point of even compromising their conscience before God (Acts 23:1).

What to do?
You must be a good steward and develop income streams outside of the influence of your network. In Genesis 2:10-14 God puts Adam in the Garden of Eden. His job was to maintain the garden, yet God provided four streams (Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates) to help him to do it. This meant that if one stream dried up, there were other streams that enabled God’s work to continue.

Many of the national leaders that I have spoken to, have shared with me some of the multiple investments and income streams they had made over the years (Proverbs 10:5).


Friends
When you become a part of a network invariably over time your friendships become concentrated on those within the network. You become gradually disconnected from relationships outside of the network (especially those that are unsaved), because you become absorbed by the culture and work ethic of the network.

Should you then become disconnected from the network, you may also find yourself disconnected from those very same friendships. In other words you need to be aware than many of your current and closest relationships in the network are conditional upon you remaining in the network. It is not uncommon for long term friends who were best men and bridesmaids at each other’s weddings to be shunned later because of being separated from the network.

It often surprises and shocks people to find that what they considered to be genuine lifelong friendships and alliances are lost when they are no longer part of the network. Often the refrain is ‘righteousness over relationships’ (thank God he does not think this way otherwise we would be righteously punished for our sins, John 3:16). This becomes even more difficult when the separated one is painted negatively by the network.

Many years ago, I began to view the Church as being much broader than my insular sphere. This brought me into relationships with people that were outside of my network. This became critical when I was at my lowest ebb, because many of these friends (outside of the network) stood by me and my family, for which I am grateful for.

What to do?
You must build and cultivate relationships beyond the control and influence of your network. Proverbs 18:1 says A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.

Family
One of the common things upon joining a network is that you want your family to also be a part of that network. There are many instances where whole families have joined a network through an initial family member joining. However when there is a separation one of the early causalities can be family relationships. Stories abound of marriages, and families divided over network loyalty. One network founding leader even refused to attend the funeral of his daughter who had left the network along with her husband many years prior.

Unfortunately it is becoming more and more common for leaders tol target the wife of a man who wants to leave. Many times wives will have most of their friends & relationships in the network. This can be taken advantage of by the network.

In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the order is not ministry first, it is family first. It is family that qualifies you for ministry:
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;
4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence
5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

This is a fundamental posturing of your life in relation to family and family relationships are not to be trivialised.

What to do?
View your family as a divine priority, spend time with them and do not neglect them.

Forgiveness
Being separated from a network can be painful. For some it is one of the most devastating and traumatic experiences of life. As a result you can feel betrayed, bitter & violated. Therefore one has to intentionally work at guarding ones heart. Proverbs 4:23 says: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. 


Now this is not an excuse to tell those who have been hurt or violated ‘get over it’….. I believe God hears and heeds the bitter cries of his people (Exodus 3:9). In 1 Samuel 1:10 it was Hannah’s bitterness of soul that led her to cry out to God. This led to her vow of faith in dedicating her not yet conceived baby son Samuel to God.

Forgiving others does not mean you are letting people get away with it or ignoring the fact that you may have been treated unfairly. What is does mean is that you trust God who sees the bigger picture, whilst also knowing that our relationships are both vertical and horizontal. Jesus is clear that unforgiveness towards our fellow man hinders our relationship with Him (Matthew 6:15; Genesis 50:20).

What to do? 
Pray for and forgive those you feel have hurt you.

Facts
When separations occur there are often many sides and perspectives to the whys and hows of what happened. As people try to process whatever limited information they have, facts will be misunderstood, exaggerated and unfortunately twisted.

As Christians we are people of truth, often for us (at least for me) truth is black and white. So when we hear things that are not true (especially negativity about us) we want to set the record straight. Proverbs 18:17 says: Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight (TLB).

The problem is, you cannot respond to every inaccurate story or account. If you do, you are likely to end up frustrated emotionally and spiritually drained in the process. There is a place for recording your views and your side of the story, but once you have done that and made it available for those who need to hear it, then you must leave it!

This has been a challenge for me, because as those who have debated me know, I like to get my point across. And it has been a great lesson in learning to shut up! In Matthew 27:12-14 (TLB) we read of how Jesus responded to the many accusations against him

12 But when the chief priests and other Jewish leaders made their many accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.
13 "Don't you hear what they are saying?" Pilate demanded.
14 But Jesus said nothing, much to the governor's surprise.

What to do?
Examine your own heart, motives and actions, where have you erred? With integrity state your side of the story as clearly as possible, to the relevant parties and leave it to God to vindicate you.

Psalms 26:1(NKJ) Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip. 

Conclusion
Separating from a church network can be painful and traumatic, but it is survivable! You need to know that there is life, joy, purpose and destiny in Christ Jesus beyond any organisation.

My prayer is that those who find themselves going through a similar painful situation will come out of it with their relationship with Jesus Christ and their family stronger than ever, knowing their best years are ahead of them.

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Shalom.......

30 comments:

  1. I was a part of this fellowship for ten years I was the door director. We left last July a lot of things I saw that I didn't agree with talking down on other church's pastor calling homosexuals fags over the pulpit but what did it for me is I had a good pastor friend that left but in a right manner and yet I was told to stay away from them that they were rebels and that they are out of the covering and are out of the will of God this man was apart of this fellowship 22 years and they just cut him off. Well I made a stand and confronted them with what I felt was wrong and it didn't go well so I decided it was time for me and my family to leave and when we did all our friends basically said not to talk to them that I was a rebel and had a rebellious spirit upon me even though I didn't backslide and to this day were are still serving Christ faithfully. This read really helped me and encouraged me thank u. I remember hearing u preach here in San Antonio Texas at pastor Rubi church

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Friend - I have fond memories of SA.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Clement: I'd never heard of you until moments ago when I linked to this piece from a posting at Escape the Fellowship @Yahoo. I was in the Fellowship near the beginning. Saved through Victory Chapel in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1973. I left in 1983. It took me about 5 years to start to feel comfortable with life again and another 10 years or so to really get right with God. Been serving Him now with hope and faith for many years. You have done a fine job explaining what those leaving will find out as they move forward with their new lives. I will offer one more piece of advice for anyone who walks away from PH. In the initial flush of giddy freedom, don't do anything you can't undo. Don't get tripped up by a sin that devastates your soul. Keep boundaries of clean living and stay close to the Lord. Mitchell is wrong: God will not be after you to punish you. It is Satan who will lead you to punishment and separation. Don't be so foolish as to follow. Stand up to temptation and follow the map in your hand, God's Holy Word.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In any situation I always like to hear both sides to a story as I know some can be based on favouritism or just biased, the more I tried to seek some answers the more difficult it was, I really questioned this and it left me feeling uncomfortable.. I'm not trying to get into anyone's personal business as I've been through my own issues with churches in general, and it's left a sour taste in my mouth, all that to say I know there is no perfect church like there are no perfect people.. It hurts me when I see these thing's transpire and I wonder what does God actually think of all this division in the body of Christ? There's a lot more I'd like to say, but for now I'll remain quiet, until such times that a suitable time occurs. Ultimately God builds his church...

    ReplyDelete
  5. The couple who canterbury who left why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No idea..... they are contactable via facebook.... God bless.

      Delete
  6. Hello,

    Great peace Mr Okusi, I won't make it obvious about which couple I am talking as I am getting a sense that that this isn't right time, but I got reminded about an incident that took place that put me off going to that new church branch alone (not the potter's house fellowship altogether, as I simply returned to another church and regularly enjoy it).

    I think that the couple I am about to talk about should honestly explain to the current and past members exactly WHY they left ( in fact got removed from pastoring position) but told participants otherwise which was untrue.

    I didn't know what to make of it, As from my observation the couple was not acting pastoring role (And I don't particularly mean sinning) at all but desperately trying to please some groups in the church or even trying to fit in which is not bad thing as we are all human, I'm sure we can understand the pressures of pioneering while also setting an example, up keeping an image and being there to guide people is very difficult, it is hard to be a practicing Christian let alone a Pastoring role I'm sure we could all agree!
    So back to my thoughts on the couple being removed from pastoring position and being put on disciplinary but instead left-

    This same couple who instigated minor issues with me, then pandering to church attendees about issues that didn't concern them as there were friendships formed outside of the church. Are the same couple with the same pastor who stated 'wish not to tell anyone to not influence others but hopes and encourages members to stay within the fellowship' I suspect he is scared to be confronted as I have personally witnessed this pastoring being judgmental others wrong doings, and biased approach to me, the reason for me stating this is because this couple have been greeted by former church members who have been mutual with them and have ignored these people; which I think is disgusting and very rude. This just goes to show the arrongnance of the same couple who having brief knowledge of their background should find humility otherwise God will show them otherwise.

    Anyways I'm glad God reassured and I do believen Karma, I'm still for the truth to come out, the main reason isn't particularly for me but just because it is important that members are aware of what they are getting themselves into.

    Yours Sincerely
    God Bless

    ReplyDelete
  7. Morning Clement Okusi

    This article is really helpful and is evening bringing back memories; I am just looking at old photo's of friends from the fellowship, I got this feeling of sadness that although I still worship at the fellowship, due to life's commitments I cannot be a full time ministry member and don't think I ever will be, and currently attend another church.

    Although I got flashes of the positive plus good times, I was saddened to see that some of some the attendee's, ministry members who were very charismatic have a complete new life away from church, and some have gone to resent the church both adults and young people.

    Could you explain why former members of this church find it hard emotionally from this church when leaving?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are repeatedly taught that God fitly frames the church and if this is where you got saved then this is where you are to stay and never leave or you are out of the will of God and will go to hell. Also you see how everyone gets cut off and bad mouthed after they leave the church and you are terrified to leave. That's how they keep people there and keep the church from finding out why people really leave, by cutting them off. This fellowship is very abusive, all churches in the fellowship are the same and do the same.

      Delete
  8. Fola Oyediran was not removed. He passed away, please correct this it is very offensive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous, several months before my friend Fola Oyediran died he formally left the Potters House.

      Such was Nigel Browns anger at this, that he refused (initially) to attend Folas Funeral. It was myself who called him & persuade him to change the time of the pastors meetings (which clashed with the funeral) to allow Pastors to attend - Shalom.

      PS Happy to discuss ANY topic (within reason & context) however I do not usually dialouge with annonymous people.

      Delete
  9. I am having problems with the PH after 11 years attending the church. i have not finally made a decision but thank you for your blog it has given me food for thought

    ReplyDelete
  10. I didn't know about a ban on beards. I do remember a couple of guys from Canada on a fellowship trip in Israel were surprised I was a Pastor and had a beard. Its a strange rule if true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Paul, this is classic ph, most rules are not written down but preached. Hopefully now you think about it most ph pastors are clean shaven....lol.

      PS how are you doing? long time no hear?

      Delete
  11. Due to the ungodly teaching and leadership of Nicolas Kyriacon. Lead pastor of Potters House Nottingham my son's father Keli Semme as failed to father his son.
    Four years ago I spoke to Nicolas asking if he could mediate contact between Keli and his first born and I believe only child. His repose was:"If you peruse Keli having a relationship with his son it will have detrimental consiquences."
    It was clear that he had been paired possible with a female member.
    Keli as always been a sheep even under the leadership of his previous spiritual father Apostle Alfred William.Who was a true father to us but like a prodigal son. My son's father Keli Semme joined this church therefore selling is soul to the devil.
    If a church can nor support and encour age building strong relationships between a father and a son. Then what form of love is truly in existence amongst this community?
    What a church community thinks about an individual is irrelevant to God's judgement upon their lives.
    Now that my son is growing and living with out his father I have solely placed judgement in the hands of God our creator who is the Alpha and Omaga.
    Potters House Nottingham is not a Christian community that the spirit of God dwells in.
    But a dwelling place that permits the wicked evil intentions of man

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Josephine, the whole fellowship is a cult, they welcome you with open arms, indoctrinate you with false doctrine, use you and abuse and once you begin to see the truth and try to leave, they lie about you and say that you are a rebel and a backslider, and tell everyone in the church to cut you off. Same story over and over again, I know because I was in this fellowship for 20 years and gave over 200,000 to the church and after finding out that the pastor was a crook and wasn't honest with the finances, we left and now nobody talks to us, even though we are still christians and go to a different church. The emotional and physical damage this fellowship does to you is beyond words! Stay away from this fellowship please!!!!

      Delete
  12. Hi, you may or may not remember me but I really hope you see this. My names Christine I was the white girl from the woolwich branch who was kicked out because it was believed I was a wolfs in sheeps clothing. Anyway it's a lot more complicated. I need, desperately spiritual guidance as it was too hard soul distorting that I gave up. As a result me and my husband divorced. I am a sinner and have backslid. I which to seek Jesus again. Not sure if his calling me or I have unresolved issues but I need him in my life. I need a church to attend to and one where a pastor may be patient as I'm afraid to trust one now. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  13. Catherine Wilson7 December 2017 at 20:42

    Dear Clement Okusi,

    First of all, thank you for your blog. I have found it very helpful as will others who suffered after leaving the Potters House. I didn't know you personally but I have heard of you within the fellowship. Anyway, I joined Nottingham PH when Steve and Melanie Ware were there and continued on when Michael Lopez took over. It caused me deep anxiety for many years and I was hospitalised for psychosis. I didn't ever want to go back to Christianity after the PH, but God is gracious and patient and has brought me home. I now have a proper perspective of God, as my Father and friend, not something which the PH promoted. Anyway Clement, I can already see that God is using you through this blog to reach many people who have been wounded by PH. I'll pray for you and hope that many will come to know Jesus through you. God bless you and your family. Cathy Wilson, Nottingham

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Catherine, thank you for your comments, glad the blog helped.

      Praying that you find the love & grace of God to keep moving on - God bless.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Clement, I remember you. I attended ph Nottingham on and off for many years, but straight from the start because i had prior church experience it was obvious that there was doctrinal error,but because i so loved those people because of God,that where there, i served and waited. Yet with the limited biblical knowledge I had it was immposible to maintain enough energy to commit to the constant pressures within the church and then being aware that judgement is cast on those who dont tow the line. The people that are praised there are the movers and shakers or the people that show commitment to potters house doctrine alone. Problem is your expected to go against your own concsience to commit, for the bible says if we are not entirely sure about doing something and we do it anyway that we have corrupting ourselves(hence having a teacher that can teach instead of just making you feel better is needed). corrupting their growing clarity of faith it becomes difficult for attendees to have any other trust than in there pastor and the system of ph. They can no longer endure sound doctrine and will indeed fight against the very word of (although unknowingly to uphold the ph system) God. when you learn we are set free from the law although there is a matching of the law when growing well because there is no law against love,and a growing christian increasingly loves,and then when you ask something like should i tithe, you are NOT told give from your heart ,you are told first, if you dont give ten percent specifically to your pastor that you have broken Gods law. This is actually a cultic way of control because the person doesnt understand they can give freely but that there salvation depends on the ten percent,amongst the many other laws they have there .
      Its actually AMAZING how hard it is to speak to someone that wont examine what they hear and believe that by even mentioning this is an attack on there eternal existence,but thats what wolves do , they manipulate us with laws so that we are comfortable in our catholic works salvation ,as in i do this and that so im secure , even when there is a wolf around and who can spot a wolf if you think hes a puppy.

      Any current potters never trust in your pastor instead listen love serve and trust in the lord and you will have all that you need to nourish and encourage your brothers. And please please please start reading your bibles cover to cover , not a sentence here and a sentence their because the leaders there twist odd sentences and change others around which would be obvious if you read it yourself, then the problems for you, now you know , will start. EXAMINE, TEST EXAMINE, TEST.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  14. Hi Pst Clement Okusi, I remember your baptism, your testimony and your focused nature. I would say we need to know the difference between being fellowship minded or kingdom minded. Fellowship is good yet it must be for the for the kingdom. Im pleased God is using you and never saw or see you as the enemy but a co worker. I prayed Lord if your hand is with him we will see in time and you have remained hungry for lost souls. Was never a close buddy yet admired your focused nature and your genuine hello to me in passing(hard to fake year in year out) May God continue to bless the ministry and every lost soul won for his kingdom

    ReplyDelete