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Controversy

 
 

Theophostic Prayer and Controversy

Critic’s concern: It has been reported on the Internet that the church that Ed Smith once attended split over Theophostic Prayer.   Is this a valid concern for churches considering this form of ministry?

 

 Ed Smith’s response: Here is a good example of why we need to be careful when we go blindly to the Internet for our resource information.  This report concerning the aforementioned church is completely inaccurate. The church referred to (that I was only a member of and holding no position) did not a split, and it was not using Theophostic Prayer Ministry nor has it ever.  The pastor of this church was not trained in TPM and did not practice TPM nor personally embrace its teachings. When the pastor left this church it was not about TPM but only about him wanting to begin a new church that was contemporary in style as opposed to the more traditional style of the church in question.  The pastor wanted to develop a new style of worship and strategy and he simply resigned and began a new work.  This sort of thing is not unheard of in many locations.  Pastors resign and start a new work with a new vision.  I was only a member of that church and held no position nor was Theophostic Prayer being used or embraced by the church while I was a member there nor after I left.  This is a good example of how website owners are able to propagate anything they choose with no accountability as to the accuracy of what is posted.  (Please read the section on this website concerning researching the Internet.)  As far as churches splitting over Theophostic Prayer, I personally only know of about two (out of literally thousands that are using TPM without any issue) that have “split” over whether to use TPM or not.   
   

  I think my saying “many churches have split” in the Healing Life’s Hurts Book was me being emphatic (and probably making an over statement) about the potential harm that can come when unwary church leaders rush in ahead of the sheep and move to quickly with anything new or different. I could not find the quote you gave above about the “many” in the new manual so I must have removed it in the latest edition.  

  I have a good friend who resigned as pastor because some of his leaders were uncomfortable with TPM. However, his departure was graceful and without any contention. As in the case above, it was not a split but rather his starting a new work. However, he did leave because of Theophostic Prayer because he so strongly believed in the benefits and he knew there were a few core leaders that did not want to use it. Rather than create an issue he left without malice. While he was in this first church doing TPM people started receiving ministry in the church and reporting good things happening in their lives. This was upsetting for some leaders in this downtown very traditional church. He very graciously blessed them and the church and without incident resigned and started a new church. He did not encourage any of the former members to join his new work. Within two years he had nearly 1000 people attending the new church and is able to freely use TPM with great success. Only a very small fraction came from the former church. All the rest were new people and he is freely practicing TPM with wonderful results. The former church has moved on with a new pastor and as far as I know there were no hard feelings. The truth is, more churches have split over the changing of the color of the carpet than TPM. The overwhelming report is not church dissention but rather great unity and reports of people being freed up. As I mentioned earlier, I took a survey of 150 pastors using Theophostic in their churches and found out that there was a very high level of satisfaction.  

  Actually what has been reported to me concerning issues in the church has not been so much about the theology or process of Theophostic Prayer but rather in how it was presented to the church and the “attitude” of some of the people promoting it. It goes without saying people can mess up a good thing real bad. People react naturally to new ideas and plans but they even more react when the person promoting it goes about it in such a way that it stirs people unnecessarily. I have received no reports of trouble when TPM was introduced in such a way that people were well informed, were not made to feel put upon, put into a category of “us and them” or “I have something you do not have.” In the Basic Manual I say this:  

 

  “Doing a ministry such as Theophostic Prayer Ministry is only one part of the overall mission of the church. The focus of TPM is on experiential mind renewal; it does not address biblical education, evangelism, missions, social ministry or other church functions.  

A few churches have become overly focused on doing TPM and have failed to fulfill God’s call in other areas. You must maintain a balance that assures a spiritually healthy and biblically consistent model for church ministry.  

The enemy has and will try to create division through every spiritual movement in the church. In the early 70s, the charismatic renewal had both positive and negative consequences for the Body of Christ. The contemporary worship style that many of us enjoy today is a direct result of that movement, yet many churches experienced great strife over the new style and the theological implications behind it. As a youth, the church I attended split, and many people were hurt.  

When Theophostic Prayer Ministry is introduced to the local church body, the enemy may seek to use this same strategy of attack. However, potential division can be avoided by helping those who have received mind renewal to understand how to share their experiences with others. They should humbly emphasize the principle that mind renewal is all about Jesus, and apart from Him, we can do nothing.  

The marvel of mind renewal is that as people are progressively freed from the lies fettering their thinking and behavior, they are better able to mature spiritually. TPM brings about freedom from the lie-based thinking found in the painful moments of people’s lives, allowing for spiritual maturity as a lifelong journey of suffering with Jesus, receiving grace and growing in the knowledge of Him.  

At times, people can feel threatened by the testimonies of others. When they hear how Jesus works in other people’s lives, bringing freedom and restoration, they may be skeptical and critical. It is important that those who have received mind renewal don’t give the impression that they have experienced an “extra blessing” because of their own spiritual prowess.  

If the senior pastor of the local church does not embrace the principles of Theophostic Prayer Ministry, the work may be greatly hindered. It is wise to submit to the established system of authority. We are commanded to pray for “all who are in authority, so that we may live a tranquil and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  

If the pastor is opposed, you may be able to discover the reason if you gently seek his thinking on the matter. If he is misinformed about TPM you can provide material to bring correction; and if he has had bad experiences with other forms of ministry, you may be able to show him how TPM is different.  

If the pastor is not ready to embrace this ministry, then be patient and try to work within a framework that is comfortable for him. Otherwise, you may need to find a church where it is possible to minister more freely. Before you decide to go elsewhere, I encourage you to see what the Lord wants to do in you through the experience. Too often people jump ship only because they themselves are in need of their own renewal. If you are stirred up by this situation, attend to your own mind renewal before you do anything else.”
 
 

  Critic’s concern: Smith recommends avoiding using the name, Theophostic, when starting a ministry in the local church.  Is this not deceptive and mis-leading? (Ibid, p. 112).

   

 Ed Smith’s response:  It is not intentionally misleading but only saying that the name has little importance in developing the ministry.  There are actually several practical reasons for not using the name Theophostic. I come from a church background (17 years serving local churches) and I know how churches think and operate. I believe it is better to gracefully move the members in the direction you desire them to go without upsetting the sheep unnecessarily.

The name Theophostic was given to this process at the very beginning before I had any idea that it would become a global in size. I also never once had a thought that the name itself might stir some people up. It was not until about two or three years into the work that I begin to hear people now and then complain about the name. Some said it sounded new age. Some confused it with Theophosy which is a new age movement.

I had considered renaming the process at that time but chose not to in that the name had taken on a life of its own and changing it would have caused unnecessary confusion. After about five years into the work the name had become popular and the way it was identified. Changing the name at that time would have been counterproductive.

As some pastors complained about the name giving them problems I simply suggested they just drop the name and do the ministry. My encouraging the church leader to not use the name was simply a way to avoid the issue. I really do not care what people call what they do. The name has one primary purpose. It identifies what is being done or not done in a particular setting. Theophostic Prayer is clearly defined in how it is applied (Ministry Session Guidelines).  If someone is doing something outside these guidelines then they are not doing Theophostic Prayer. The name is a means of protecting the integrity of the process.

  Some people suggest that there is great controversy with this ministry. Actually if you let the Internet be the measurement for this so-called controversy (since this is what most people who claim controversy use as support) there are relatively few negative sites as compared to the tens of thousands of positive sites. As is often the case the most accessed sites get the highest rating on search engines. Therefore the first page has the negative sites. Nevertheless, the ten thousand positive sites carry the same actual weight. There are literally tens of thousands of pastors, mental health professionals and lay ministers in 140+ countries using this ministry and reporting that it is good and producing good fruit. The truth is, the positive reports are coming from people who are experiencing its value and are providing experiential testimony whereas the negative reports are by and large coming from people who have non-experiential opinions. “The controversy” suggests opposing sides that have some measure of balance. In reality there are only a handful of people opposing this ministry and a host of positive supporters.


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