The Leaders and “Elders” of Xenos have paid the ultimate price by bringing upon themselves a tidal wave of criticism for their controlling, manipulative, and dishonest way of using Christianity as vehicle for control and power.
After 121 stories, several blog articles, thousands of comments, and even having an article on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch - the leadership releases two of the most willfully blind and heartless responses I have ever seen. The issue clearly is within the leadership of Xenos itself, and the complete lack of willingness to actually change a clearly broken system that has resulted in several suicides and intense emotionally trauma is disturbing. You would think it would be the time for personal responsibility and reflection, not bragging about how your church is “serving Christ and our community together.”
Even after having dozens of members leave recently, Xenos leaders refuse to admit the intense pain that is being caused by this groups doctrine. I hope that any leaders who have any respect for the people have been hurt, confront the elders and start to change the group. I doubt this will happen though, silence is common within Xenos.
Elitism and the inability to own up individual to actions has resulted in the mess that Xenos has become. Passive Aggression and corruption reign. This quote summarizes one of the key issues perfectly:
Part One: “A Response to the Dispatch Article”
On Monday, November 26 the Dispatch ran a front-page article about our church. The article reported testimonials from several former members who were very critical of their experiences in Xenos. It also consulted three cult or church experts about their view of Xenos.
There was a consistent theme that people have been hurt by our church in some way and we are grieved that these individuals are suffering. Finding a church that best fits you or serves your needs is very difficult but worth the effort in the end.
We wish to be very clear. We do not want our members to withdraw from family —in fact, exactly the opposite. We do offer times of fellowship throughout the week and teach people to dedicate time to growing their relationship with God, deepening their friendships and helping others in need. Everything is voluntary at Xenos. People come and go as they please. As a community, it is true that we are not interested in low-commitment versions of Christianity. Xenos is for people who really want to make friends and learn how to grow spiritually together while serving God.
We take very seriously the mental health struggles that many in our society face and often refer members to seek outside counseling and intervention with a medical professional if they feel they have a mental health issue that needs addressed. If Xenos is not a church for you, we understand and hope that you would find another church where you can grow with God and find a deep sense of peace and happiness.
Regarding the Dispatch article itself, we were also surprised to see how the experts represented our church. Consequently, we contacted these experts. Dr. Scott Thumma responded and said: “I would never disparage a church unless I had direct knowledge of the dynamic. I did not reference your church in any of my comments to [The Dispatch reporter]; she used my words to make the reference to your church.”
Other scholars, who have spoken at our annual Xenos Summer Institute offer the following comments:
Renowned African-American church scholar, Dr. John M. Perkins (who actually has studied Xenos) says, “As one who has visited Xenos a number of times, I know they actually practice the principles in Acts. As an outsider, I see Xenos as biblically and theologically correct, and they have struggled to live that out.”
Internationally renowned scholar, John Lennox said of Xenos, “I was most impressed by the passion for Scripture that I saw among the young people that attended Xenos.”
Best selling author and scholar, William Lane Craig says, “Xenos is a highly unusual megachurch… People were so enthusiastic, and it was a privilege to be involved in their training.”
In our correspondence with the Dispatch, we suggested interviewing area pastors for a more neutral view of Xenos. A senior pastor of a large area church was interviewed and sent Xenos leaders the positive observations he had shared with the Dispatch. None of his comments appeared in the Dispatch nor the several hundred positive stories that our members shared with the Dispatch before the article went to print.
The article said nothing about the extensive and highly respected work Xenos does with the poor and disadvantaged in our community or our award-winning inner city Harambee school.
Assessing the quality of any large church is a serious undertaking, normally requiring collection of information from many sources, including outside professionals who know the group. This article did not seem to do that serious data collection.
In closing, we wish to express our sincerity that we want all people to know and grow in Christ. We see this as the most fulfilling way of life. We also want to express how thankful we are for all the people who have come through our doors. We view each and every person as important and we pray they see their value in Christ.