Methods of control
Destruction of Individuality: Critical thinking and major value judgments are left to the group and the leaders. They are encouraged to serve the group, and are repeatedly reminded of how the world does not understand. They install monitoring software on the students phones, which can track the phones GPS Location, Messages Send and Received, and All Internet Searches. The Ministry Houses are crowded, with 4-12 members packed into a single room. The students are pressured to pay money for Leader-Ship Training Classes to prepare them to argue and debate people to grow the groups numbers.
The group pushes going to Xenos events over socializing, and members will not go out if it interferes with church activity as they will face harassment from members for not attending. Many members grades will suffer as a result. There is a constant stream of gossip and information sharing to void any sense of confidentiality "As secrecy increases community decreases!" - From the Xenos Website 2013.
There is slander and defamation of ex-members to make them seem "mentally unstable" or not-committed" or no-christian". There is a constant stress and pressure due to the combination of natural stress from College and the artifact stress from Xenos that makes the student sleep-deprived, depressed, and vulnerable for further manipulation as they become drone like and start imitating the group leaders/main leaders and become committed to the group. This is likely where Xenos wants them, broken, loyal, and dependent.
Destroying Family Connections: They isolate people from family and friends who do not work with Xenos'obviously corrosive agenda. Healthy families do not question a 'Christian Organization" and members will show up to stamp out the vast cult accusations when parents mention them. By the time the family realizes what is happening it may be too late to stop the process. Unhealthy families are easy targets for the group as "disciplers" dive in and isolate member from the parents.
Discipleship: A mentorship relationship that often starts when the "Discipler" is 22, and the child is 14. They encourage them to come out to Xenos events, hangout weekly, and confess their "sins" to them. The disciple eventually moves into the disciplers ministry house, or another ministry house. The disciple may not look at colleges that are out of state. Disciplers lie to parents on many accounts, and paint members who leave and bring up cult accusations as bitter, not understanding of scripture, or mentioning that each home church is different.
"False Satanic Attack": Submitted by ex-member "When I was at Xenos and started speaking out against the cultural problems, people told me I was giving Satan an avenue to lead younger Christians away from God (even though I'd argue that the culture was responsible for giving Satan an opportunity to paint a picture of an abusive and frustrated God in their minds). Also!! Lots of physical problems (stomach pain, intestinal issues, mild chronic pain) that are likely manifestations of the stress and anxiety from living in the college group are labelled as "satanic attack" and ignored or endured. I also know of people developing sleep disorders and believing it to be "Satan" or "their thorn in the flesh", but the problems largely cleared up once they left Xenos."
Drugs: Many Xenos members use excessive Cigarettes, Vaping, Hookah, and Alcohol to cope with the stress of their situation. This keeps them broke, stressed out, and dependent. Members may allow underage students to smoke, getting them addicted at early ages. Members may allow underage drinking on the beach trip. [Examples]
Defacement: Ex-Members like myself get all of their personal information revealed through the group's "workers", explaining their sin, why they have "walked away from God." and how they are "Serving their body" or "Bitter" or "Angry at God" In one instance, the High school group I was in held a gathering, revealed searing personal information, and "excommunicated" (kicked out) someone. They are very fond of sharing peoples Sexual Secrets and Struggles, and have forced people to "confess" their sins to stay in the group. They claim these are not forced. They are right, there is just unbelievable pressure to share personal failing with the group. Xenos has spread lies about ex-members, and does their best to hurt them by isolation.
Arranged-Dating: Members only date within the group. The only way to leave the overcrowded ministry houses is to get married. Personal information about dating can be shared for manipulation. Pre-marital sex may result in a forced shotgun wedding.
No-Support Networks: They remove members from their family, and spread lies and defame the family. They will create stories that are fundamentally not true about ex-members or family members, and use this to convince them to stay into the group. Xenos member, please, your families care about you; you are being mislead by other people in your ministry house and by whoever you are studying with. Talk to your family, go to them and ask if Xenos is a Cult, ask them if they care about you, ask them if they think Xenos is healthy.
The Abusive Relationship: Members may attempt to leave, but will return as they have no social relationships out of Xenos, and they will likely fall into depression upon leaving. They know Xenos is bad for them, and corrupt, and abusive, but they will stay because it's all they know and they may falsely blame themselves believing they aren't serving God correctly when the reality is that the group has wounded them deeply. Many marriages are painful in Xenos because neither partner can leave without risking losing the supposed love and support of their partner, and it is a hostage situation. Xenos members know the group is bad, and are often filled with doubts, but they have no idea how to leave. This is why it is important to extend a helping hand if you are able to help someone leave.
Follow the Money: Xenos College members constantly pressure each other to donate money to the group, even if the member is poor. This keeps Xenos members broke (which likely leads to low serotonin levels making them reclusive and vulnerable to further control) and floods the group with income from thousands of College Students, who go to start families that create "Xenos Babies"
Xenos Babies: Parents who meet in Xenos and who start a family send their children to private school owned by Xenos until 8th grade, when the kids are then sent to normal High-schools. These Xenos Babies often promote their groups and try evangelizing, and are very entrenched into the groups ideology. Xenos is considering building a High School, as they lose so many members in the school system as students meet normal high schoolers and realize the issues within Xenos.
Lies: Xenos members are stealthy, and posture themselves as people radically living for God, and that the culture doesn't understand their radical lifestyle. They will also overwhelm conversations about the negative aspects of Xenos with "I've had a positive experience." "Each home church is different." "I'm so sorry that happened to you, please let us know, I've had such a positive experience in Xenos!" They are doing this to make people who are speaking out feel bad, and try to project the problem on them.
Isolation: Upon leaving Xenos, there is an unspoken rule of avoiding contact with ex-members. This is very damaging to the mental state of those who leave, many who have invested years of their life to be abandoned, and realize their friendships were false. Reading through the 82+ stories will show a repeated and church-wide pattern of shunning, and gossip that ex-members have to suffer through when they leave. [Examples]
Fun & Games: They will invite unsuspecting High school age students out with things like paint fights, Chocolate Milk Flip Cup, Fugitive. They will invite College age students out with parties, Wine & Cheese Nights, and events like Apple Picking, geocaching etc. The goal is to have you open up about your spiritual beliefs with the line "What did you think about the teaching?" and then listen to you and report back to the "Worker Group" which a group of Xenos members who meet before and after each event. Then they will start to execute on plans to make you accept Christ, then to come to their CT, Central Teaching and then get you to become discipled. Then the goal is to get you to move in the ministry house. By this time you have invested deeply into the group with social relationships you perceive to be your friends. Then you are on the process, inviting people out to a casual "bible study."
Gas-lighting: Harsh things are said to put people down and keep them in line, but they are subtle enough that the member doubts if it ever happened. This often happens during High school group with the College students putting down High schoolers, who generally are unable to respond to the abuse. When confronted, blame will be cast on the victim and then discarded using "Grace" and or leadership documents that state not to question leadership if possible. The police may be not involved to prevent any bad press, allowing for serious abuse to go unreported.
Drone Swarm: Xenos members will attempt to overwhelm bed press/ discussion by piling into forums to state their positive experiences, and try to overwhelm discussion with sheer numbers. They will say things such as "I've had a wonderful experience Xenos! God has really changed my life!" to often drown out the claims of psychological, spiritual, and emotional abuse members have suffered, in which they reply with "I've sorry you had a bad experience." The group represents their life, and they do this to protect their group identity.
Scripture vs Society: Instead of focusing on the clear issues of abuse, members will make it about "Society not understanding scripture/ the Gospel" even though almost every single reason why people leave is because of the high levels of abuse and manipulation. They believe the people mentioning the cult-like aspects are "attacking the group", and therefore attacking the Gospel, even though the issue is with the way the group hurts people. It is a deflection move, to avoid the real discussion about how the "Elders" allow for so much abuse to happen.
Unspoken Rules, Undercurrent of Subtle Manipulation.
Love-Bombing: new-comers are showered in attention and focus to make them feel "loved". [Examples]
"It's not us, it's you! I've had a wonderful experience Xenos!" posted online whenever criticism is brought up against the church,
Infiltrating families to recruit children with Discipleship. Disciplers will lie to the parents to gain further control over the child.
Recruitment Mechanisms based on seemingly casual events to push moving into a ministry house.
Destroying family relationships to further isolate people
Control: Many people do not speak up against Xenos due to it's size, being too wounded, or fear of retaliation. The locals news has avoided this issue.
Private School hidden in Columbus to train "Xenos Babies."
Gossip: Members will make up false stories about ex-members who leave to slander their name, including the college students punching down at the high schoolers.
Destroying Confidentiality, no personal information is safe from the group.
College Connection, a method Xenos uses to recruit students to the college group
"Xenos is a Cult" was the top search result on Google for 4+ years straight, until Xenos used SEO manipulation to change it. (Search Engine Optimization)
Taken from a forum thread:
"I was in the adult ministry for several years. While in the church I formed close friendships with other Xenoids. I was not a completely lonely person prior to joining the group. I have formal education surpassing a college degree and I have friends and family outside of the church. However, I felt that something was missing from my life. The people within the church were very quick to tell me what that something is - they said it was God and being in a community of people who believe in God and wanted to serve God. They said this with such certainty and they were such wonderful friends and so much fun to be around, they were so patient with my questions. I began to believe that they were right.
As time went on and I became more committed to the group, the atmosphere changed. I was being prepped to give biblical teachings to others and as some will call it “groomed for leadership.” The people that were so wonderful and fun to be around were still around but they just … weren’t as wonderful as they were before. I will attempt to explain some of the changes I saw -
A. Passive Aggression is a hallmark in this church. Cruel things will be said to you, to put you down or keep you in line, but they will be so smoothly said you will wonder if it was said at all
B.There is an extremely large emphasis on “confessing your sins.” Sins could be really anything “not in line with God’s will”, for example: “withholding sex from your husband” is a biblical phrase that I heard used in order to correct a woman whose husband wanted to have more frequent sex when she did not.
C. Shaming as a method to keep you in line. Lets say you “confessed a sin” to one person. That person may or may not decide to share it with some of the church leadership. The leadership may then utilize an example of this thing you did and the immorality of it (without specifically saying your name) the next time they speak to the larger group as a whole. Bonus points to the leader if they stare at the person they are intending to get the point across to while speaking.
C part 2 - Lets use a silly nonfactual example to illustrate this: pretend bananas are the worst fruit you can eat. Every time you eat a banana it causes someone in the world to trip and fall and you are at an increased risk for tripping and falling yourself. But you love bananas and you take just the smallest bite of one because you miss eating them. You then share this with your close friend/confident asking for help not to do it again because the church or bible has taught you how “wrong” it is. That friend tells leadership. Leadership makes a teaching topic about the devastation a person causes to themselves and others from eating bananas and presents it to the group, literally staring at you while delivering their lines about the destruction someone who eats bananas causes; in sum shaming and guilting you for that thing you told your trusted friend about
The church has weekly “homegroup” meetings also called "homechurch" as well as typical sunday larger gatherings in addition to several smaller activities during the week. A homegroup is a smaller group within the church it may be composed of anywhere from approximately (exact numbers may vary) 15-40 people. The larger church as a whole is made up of individuals who are part of smaller homegroups. It was encouraged by the head leadership of the church that “homegroups that perform the best have at least 3 activities together a week” What do I mean by perform the best? That means homegroups that grow in number. That is the goal.
A typical week while involved in the church looked like -
Sunday large church service and prayer meeting with my smaller homegroup either before or after the large service
one weeknight meeting with your specific homegroup
one weekly meeting with “more spiritual person” or someone “older in the lord” (aka: discipleship) - it is referred to as discipleship by the church and involves meeting weekly, praying, reading the biblical or another church approved book and discussing application to life and "confession of sins"
one weekly meeting with a “less or equally spiritual person” that entailed much of what was just listed and referred to as discipleship again or peer discipleship
One weekly meeting with members of the same sex who are in your home church, referred to as “cell group” meetings
In addition to this there was also often another social or “outreach” type event during the week such as going to a bar or somewhere to play games or a house party in which one invites their neighbors .. this is all done in the name of finding others to join your group and this is all done with the larger purpose of “growing your homechurch”. Xenos defenders will say that it is for the larger purpose of “sharing the good news” or “spreading Gods message” or “bringing others to the Lord” … you get the idea. However, these very innocently claimed intentions are not what they seem. Unfortunately myself and many others do not heed the warnings and must learn from our own experiences that the people in this church have much more sinister intentions.
There will be those that come on here and attempt to defend Xenos. Some may be leaders but most are probably not. They are individuals in a homegroup who have not yet realized the truth about the church they love. They are in fact blind to what is going on in front of their eyes. They are not privy to the meetings that occur between the “higher ups” or the leaders and so they idealistically believe that the people leading them are truly good people that want to do good in the world. Unfortunately that is just not that case. Those people don’t have your best interest at heart and they will turn on you without a moments notice.
"If you join a home group you will be asked to participate in 14-16 hrs of meetings per week.
If you don't attend a couple of these meetings 3+ people will ask you why you don't take your walk seriously.
If you don't aspire to some level of leadership you will be asked why you don't take your walk seriously.
If your friends don't become interested in Xenos you will be asked why you aren't investing your time more productively by spending time with other prospects.
"My typical week:
Sunday: High School Group (as a leader) or Prayer Group with my College Homechurch
Tuesday: High School HomeChurch
Wednesday: Christian Principles Class
Thursday: College Central Teaching
Friday: Cell Group
Saturday: Discipleship meetings (with my discipler, the college person I discipled, and the high school student I discipled)
In times when I wasn't participating in the above meetings, I was expected to read the bible, study the bible, have times of prayer with god, study my christian principles class material, read christian literature, and obviously, I needed time to go to University, Study, and work a job. The schedule is grueling. They do not respect times of study, they overburden you with meetings, they make you feel pressured into working up the leadership ladder. You don't choose what house you want to live in, initially you might have an option, but if your homechurch expands, the decision of where you live is left up to leadership.
In the College Group, if you are moving up the leadership ladder, they will ask you to join the Fiscal Support Team (people who donate to the church). I don't agree with asking college kids, who need to be paying for their high tuitions, who should be studying more than working, to give money to the church. They make it seem cool and exclusive by going away on special FST retreats to plan budgets and expenses, which ultimately pressures the young people into joining FST. While the tithing isnt required to be a member of the church, its expected if you want to be a leader in the church. If you don't want to be a leader, if that is not your long term goal, be prepared for many questions about your relationship with God, and its standing.
I'd like to add that in the College Ministry, they try to control the dating. Who can date who, influencing people, encouraging people to pursue a relationship or discontinue a relationship. I heard rumors about the guys being monitored by a program on their phones or computers or something, and that also seems like a violation of privacy.
I think there are many people in the general adult church of Xenos, who did not grow up in xenos, who are unaware of these practices. I hope this information reaches them. There is such a disconnect between the people in the Adult Church, specifically if they did not move up from the college group, they have no idea about what it's actually like.
Sometimes, the control is so subtle, you don't notice it until it hits you in the face."