Contemplative Ministry Quest of the Mennonite Brethren

As the Mennonite Brethren seminary continues to train Mennonite youth through their Ministry Quest program, some very important questions need to be asked, but no one dares to be so bold. Such as:
Are students learning about God through His Word?
Are they learning a correct estimation of how God sees them?
Are they being mentored by adults who know God and believe the Bible?
This is from a student’s pen

“I felt like God was telling me to love who he shaped me to be…
I should love myself and think about ways to love others and myself…
God created me to love the hurting…and to LOVE the person God shaped me to be.”

God certainly loves us, but He created us for His glory and pleasure, not to love ourselves. We already love ourselves too much! Jesus said: ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)

This student also reflects on an idea gleaned from Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet, that “a leader must listen to the people they are leading and … remember, that their opinions really matter and… to listen to those ideas.”

As Ministry Quest students learn from Leonard Sweet to listen to people’s ideas, are they also taught to remember what the Bible says? “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

Something else that really stood out to this student was “through Career Direct and the Spiritual Gifts inventory I realized that I am a caring listening person – I like helping others.” This new perspective on ministry helped this student learn – “we can do ministry,” “what I want to do with my life” and the “ways I can put ministry into it,” and the importance of getting affirmation from others.

[This is not a personal critique on this student, but a sincere question to the MB leaders and parents as to whether or not they believe this is a biblical view of ministry that is being taught at Ministry Quest.]

Another student’s reflections are as follows…

“If I can truly grasp that God loves me and come to terms with myself, then I will be able to serve others… when I’m faced with a decision, I can ask myself whether or not my mission statement will be kept or not.”

This Ministry Quest student was also helped through the “Spiritual Gifts personality type or passion or gift … the sessions definitely helped to create a sense of self esteem about my [personal] gifts and abilities…” The student learned that “if you know who you are and whose you are, what you do flows naturally,” “…I discovered a bit more of my passion for getting to know people and their worldviews.

From this glimpse, does it look like these students are learning about biblical ministry? (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) Are they being taught to come before God and serve Him on His terms, or on their terms, and with their abilities? Are they being taught that God doesn’t use His servants because of their abilities, but through their weaknesses? Since ministry means serving (being a servant of Jesus first and others second), should those in ministry to the Lord be learning to know and talk about themselves, or about Jesus? Why is it that students who have gone through the MB Ministry Quest are talking about themselves? Is it possible that they have discovered a new image and understanding of God – the contemplative, inward way? Contrary to what Jesus said (that He is the only way, and to learn of Him), are these students being pointed to the pathway of the gospel of ‘knowing your true self’? Are they learning the way of the cross – dying to self? Are they learning about who God says they are in the Bible? Or are they taking the Meyers Brigg’s personality test (based on Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typological approach to personality) to learn who they are according to man’s ideas?

These students may have discovered a new perspective of God – but was it by studying His Word, or through contemplative spiritual direction, methodology, exercises, and the ideas of man? If this is the case, it is not through any fault of their own that they are being led captive by the opinions, philosophies and traditions of men (Colossians 2:8). They have been sent to Ministry Quest by their churches and parents who have paid for them to learn about themselves (the servants) instead of the One whom they serve, through unbiblical Jungian philosophy of self knowledge and by studying the following books recommended by Ministry Quest for highschool students…

Series of three books
(1)Redefining Life: My Purpose
(2) Redefining Life: My Identity
(3) Redefining Life: My Relationships
by Margaret Feinberg

Soul Tending, by Kenda Creasy Dean and Foster (http://kendadean.com/)
(this book introduces the development of contemplative spiritual practices to get close to God – also explores soul friends, mentors and spiritual companions)

Learn to Dance the Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet (read Leonard Sweet quotes here)

Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson
(see warning here)

http://www.mbseminary.edu/ministryquest/pm/recommended-study-books

In addition, some of the Ministry Quest mentoring resources for those who guide these students include practicing the spiritual excercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:

Guided Ignatian Reflection
http://www.mbseminary.edu/ministryquest/pm/guided-ignatian-reflection

Practicing Ignatian Examen
http://www.mbseminary.edu/ministryquest/pm/practicing-ignatian-examen

Lectio divina
http://www.mbseminary.edu/ministryquest/pm/lectio-divina

The Ministry Quest selection on Lectio Divina is from here, and was written by present-day monk Fr. Luke Dysinger, O.S.B. from SAINT ANDREW’S ABBEY, Valyermo, a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery. It instructs individuals to:

“PLACE YOURSELF in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; other have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent. For some the practice known as “centering prayer” makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina.”

[Note: This “prayer word” is more commonly known as a mantra – accompanied by breathing relaxation exercises, it ushers the participant to reach the silence, a practice which is not taught in the Bible. In fact, it is the opposite of biblical prayer. Are Ministry Quest students learning that they can come boldly before the throne through the blood of Jesus, or through practicing breathing, prayer exercises and mantras?]

The recommended reading list for the Ministry Quest mentors who train the MQ students also includes books by contemplatives or those who condone contemplative prayer:

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

http://www.mbseminary.edu/ministryquest/pm/resources/recommended-reading-list

We are told that the cost per student for participation in Ministry Quest is $125 per stage (there are two stages) and $300 per student per stage for their church. MQ is open to high school students (ages 16-18) who are curious about ministry and show leadership potential.

Is Ministry Quest about biblical ministry or about Roman Catholic spiritual formation and the typical Jungian self absorbed ‘me, myself and I‘ psychology that is so popular today?

Paul said that the perilous last days would be characterized by this trend to love self rather than God. Writing to Timothy, he stated:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.

THE GOSPEL OF SELF [http://understandthetimes.org/transcripts/july2008/2527.shtml]

And shouldn’t the MB leaders have a disclaimer on the Ministry Quest website about directing teenagers to follow the writings of men like Leonard Sweet at the risk of their own soul? Sweet expressed his personal gratitude in his book Quantum Spirituality to channeler and veteran New Age leader, David Spangler (see Source) who says that Christ is the same force as Lucifer who brings us wholeness and stands at the door and knocks (see here). Seriously; churches, parents, why are you allowing yourselves to be conned into paying money for your KIDS to drink spiritual cyanide? They are your dependents. What could you possibly be thinking?

Related:

Book Alert: Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson (keep in mind the fact that this book is promoted by the MB Conference as recommended reading for 16-18 year olds)
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2714

Recommended Menno Reading (regarding Kenda Creasy Dean and Leonard Sweet books promoted by the MB Conference as recommended reading for 16-18 year olds)
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/09/26/recommended-menno-reading/

One Year Later – Nothing has Changed (nothing new, warnings unheeded, still diving into apostasy)
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/one-year-later-nothing-has-changed/

Leonard Sweet Quotes
http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/leonardsweetquotes.html

Leonard Sweet and His Quantum Spirituality – Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H916gdIxUME

Getting in S.H.A.P.E. for C.H.U.R.C.H.
http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/006/discernment/9-27-shape.htm

WHO IS IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA?
http://apprising.org/2008/12/13/who-is-ignatius-of-loyola/

MB Conference Promoting Next Level – Jesuit Training
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/mb-conference-promoting-next-level-jesuit-training/

Mennonites and St. Ignatius
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/mennonites-and-st-ignatius/

What is Lectio Divina?
http://www.gotquestions.org/lectio-divina.html

What is Centering Prayer?
http://carm.org/centering-prayer

Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8368

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