Timothy Keller, in his book “The Reason For God”, points out that every group and community has a basis for inclusion, and Christianity is no exception to this. However, it seems that the practice of XCF is to take this idea to a cultish
level, and as much as XCF seems to want to include new members in their community, they seem just as willing to exclude people either through plain avoidance, or “shunning”, all the way to formal excommunication. This idea, coupled with XCF’s
particular brand of spiritual gossip, most certainly lends itself as a powerful tool to “group think” and control. One has only to enter the name Xenos Christian Fellowship in an internet search engine to find an abundance of broken friendships
and lost salvations. No other church in the greater Columbus area returns anything close to the amount of hurt and bitter outpouring that XCF seems capable of extracting. And while it is many a person’s experience that they have either switched from
one church to another due to various disagreements, or just simply a change of preference, people leave XCF with an almost outright hatred for Christianity as a whole. And of course, the reciprocal could be said to be true. It is the strange and unusual incident
that anyone would ever leave XCF on good standing, while the vast majority of ex Xenos members can attest to the mischaracterization of their spiritual state by Xenos after they’re gone, often coupled with stern warnings to the uninitiated to never go
there in the first place.
Amongst all the internet complaints of XCF, from Columbus Reddit to web sites developed specifically for exposing XCF as a cult, one can witness the devoted few who enter the fray to defend Xenos, but only to offer the same
standard argument of others complaints being the exception to the norm, while claiming their own wonderful experiences in XCF as a defense, so much so that even their response has become ridiculed as formulaic and repetitive.
Granted, any devoted pastor or church member is going to feel this way about their particular group, but what seems to be the difference is that the Xenos defender can offer no other alternative towards seeking
out a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ, if in fact that is the goal of XCF.* How many ex Xenos members have attested to the standard XCF claim that they are somehow walking away from God and/or choosing the “world” over
true spirituality when they leave Xenos? And so this again points to the exclusive claim that XCF places solely upon itself. There just simply seems to be no alternative church or organization of equal merit to XCF in their estimation.
James Rochford, a Xenos elder, who is obviously NOT an objective third party observer, agrees with this standard of cult interpretation when he wrote in an article concerning cults;
“However, while it is healthy for church members
to have a high view of their own church, it is going too far when they say that theirs is the only true Christian church on Earth.”
Link here to view it on Xenos web site:
Or see it in it's entirety in sub heading above..."What is a Cult" by James Rochford
However, once again what Xenos preaches and what one see’s practiced are two different things,
and while the purpose of Rochford’s essay is to distance XCF from the ever present cult accusations, it reads more like a cleverly worded exercise on how to skate around the cult issue. A good example of this follows;
the crucial way to identify a cult is the teaching of the group. If the group teaches to abandon one’s family, this is non-biblical.” (emphasis his)
and while no one
will hear abandonment of family or friends being taught in XCF, one can certainly not deny this is a chronic and consistant complaint of ex-Xenos and non Xenos people alike concerning XCF members. And of course with XCF’s demand of member involvement
that saturates every free moment an individual might have, as well as the negative consequences that arise from neglect of said involvement ( see “of Xenos” link above ), why would they need to teach abandonment of family? They already require
it in silence buy their cultish practice of time dominance alone.
Rochford go’s on to justify XCF’s behavior by suggesting that Xenos is on par with the healthier of the 7 churches as those mentioned in Revelations 2 and 3, as well
as his claims that XCF members will spend time with outside Christian organizations, but indeed only when those organizations send their people over to partake of XCF’s exclusive and superior resources and training. In fact, according to Rochford, the
only people who actually leave the Xenos fold to attend other Christian groups are the senior pastors who attend a monthly Gospel Coalition. There are those as well who can testify that they have lost their positions with XCF and been branded as traitors for
simply visiting another non-elder approved Christian organization.
So, the question is, where do we see this behavior in the bible, or even the justification for it? The simple answer is nowhere. Even amongst non Christian groups such
as Alcoholics Anonymous it would never be acceptable to suggest that visiting one group over another, or all others, would be anything but disastrous for it’s members. The very idea that there are those who defend XCF to the people who have cried abuse
at their hands should be sending up all kinds of red flags. Imagine someone suggesting how safe it still is to drop your children off for babysitting at the local Catholic church after the revelation of the priest sex scandal.
And finally, these
question can not be over emphasized, what are the motives here? Is XCF really looking to further the Kingdom of Jesus on this planet earth, or are they more concerned with advancing whatever particular agenda they have, with little to no care for who or how
many get hurt in the process?
More on Gossip
* Note that later under the “contradictions” heading,
Xenos does indeed refer unhappy members and others to seeking out churches that will serve their wants and desires in a church setting, but this is truly NOT the goal of attending any Christian organization, and, as it has been stated in this writing (see
singularity heading), the glorification of the Lordship of Jesus is the only true path towards finding a fulfilling and meaningful existence in a Christians life.