Cults And Promises
- a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
- a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."a network of Satan-worshiping cults"
- sect, denomination, group, movement, church, persuasion, body, faction"a religious cult"
- a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing."a cult of personality surrounding the leaders"
- obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for, idolization of, devotion to, worship of, veneration of
The risk I'm taking writing this... who am I kidding? I have nothing left to lose! If you follow me you know where I'm about to go or maybe you're new to my blog. I am Ciara Danelle, friend to many, a sister, a confidant and a keeper of secrets. My entire life I'd like to say I've been a pretty likable girl/woman and most have looked at me as a trustworthy person. This isn't one of those name dropping, drag people for filth type of post though so if that is what you came for then bye 💓 because that's NOT what the lord gave me.I have seen ministry and done ministry from a few different angles and places. Now I don't consider ministry to always be on a stage or in a pulpit and I feel that ministry is an everyday life thing. As Christians we need to realize that our every day actions are ministry and scripture even tells us in Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden."
When I got serious about Christ (I grew up in church) I was about 24 and just really wanted to do outreach. I did not have many friends and the whole relationship with Jesus was new to me. I was newly celibate and just really struggling in my walk overall. I became a part of a purity ministry which had accountability groups in various cities and that is how I began to make friends. It was my sister, best friend and some other girls in our community and we would meet monthly for bible study, outings and prayer. Very innocent meetings, very sincere and we were all new in our walks.I am going to pause right here because what I'm NOT about to do is tear down any ministry or any particular group of people.
We would meet, we had specific topics for the month and the main focus was purity. We were all trying to stay afloat so to speak and even after moving to a new city it was a big part of my life. It actually became a bigger part of my life when moving to a bigger city because I did not know a lot of people. The girls/women I met through the ministry became my family away from home. We were very close at one point, some of us inseparable at times. My sister, best friend, cousins and I went to the annual conference a couple times and those years were just really good times. I went through a season of job loss, trials and my circle was there for me. Many were really supportive of my book and I will forever be grateful for the people that surrounded me during the dark days. 2015 was a really hard year financially, prior to that I had never lost a job or been let go from one and it seemed like it became a consistent theme in my life. Keeping faith and trusting God was being drilled into me at that time mainly by my leaders. One of the best things that I learned in that season was how to seek God for myself, I have learned how to study the word for myself and it was just a major growing point for me.
At 28 I had been celibate for four years, working odd jobs here and there while balancing college. My circle felt secure, it felt like life was going to be that way forever. I felt like I could grow in the ministry and had made plans to even move to Atlanta. Time started winding up as far as the deadlines I had set and the lord started really dealing with me on moving. Basically he let me know that wasn't where he wanted me... I couldn't understand it then but the events over the past year have made me realize why. Now if you've read this far then you're still waiting for me to tell you when I left that ministry and why I left. 2016 started off really well, I had a steady job again and was a lot stronger emotionally than I had ever been. There are hills and valleys... God gave me a good season of hill/mountain experiences. Then the valleys came again and it seemed like I had no one to personally turn to. My fierce less leader had become caught up in her own world, ministry had grown to where she was unreachable, no longer able to respond to inbox messages and in the group I was a part of in my city I was the leader so I was lonely. I had two sisters as roommates but never wanted to burden them with my issues so I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. I was battling with my emotions, my faith and just my belief in God. I stopped going to church for awhile, stopped my daily quiet time and finally made the decision to step back from leading monthly bible study. I started to notice other girls/women pull away and where as I was quiet they were not. Social media is our generations way of communicating and if you want to know anything in this day and age you log on to one of the outlets, right? From blogs, to Twitter rants I was noticing that many were experiencing a lot of what I was experiencing from being taught a performance based Christianity. Mind you that most of us were really young women when we joined this ministry and many of us went from one extreme of living undisciplined lives to basically going through a rigorous boot camp where we were taught how to think, how to pray, how to dress and even taught cliche phrases and sayings. I will not put the label of cult on it but certain things and actions became cult-like. Whenever you have a group of impressionable, lost, broken and lonely individuals who are looking for something to cling to be it God, family, friendship or just a safe haven you run the risk of becoming a cult. It is so important that leaders learn what that line is and do not cross it! When you start to interfere with personal lives, place opinions that aren't biblical, put personal convictions upon others and make it seem mandatory you're on the edge.
The breaking point for me was over politics and we can all agree that this past election was more intense than anything most of us have ever experienced during an election. Now when you have a position as a leader (especially a Christian leader) it is so important that you either keep your political views private or make sure that you are having open dialogue with those who follow you. As a leader you cannot make bias statements and not expect for people to disagree with you. And as a leader yes you're obligated to have conversations and open dialogue when expressing your opinion or you are better off keeping your opinion to yourself. When you lead a congregation, have a large following or a following period you will have moments where people have questions. If you get so busy that you forget why you were placed in ministry (which is to SERVE) then it's time to take a hiatus. Even as one human I realize when I have too much on my plate and need to be alone with the lord. There are some days that my plans take a backseat, I turn on a worship play list or a sermon play list with my bible and sit for hours with God.
There are days where people call me, inbox me or text me and I do not feel like listening or hearing about their issues but I think about the days that I had NOBODY so I put my feelings aside. Ministry is NOT about you or your feelings all the time... if we are given a charge to help broken and hurting people we need to realize there will be those who can't afford our t-shirts with cliche sayings or buy the expensive books you write. You cannot tell me that God is pleased when people start releasing 8 or 9 books all while profiting off of people's pain. Nothing wrong with writing books to help people but there is a problem when you neglect your audience that God gave you... not trying to preach. I just had to share what God put on my heart because my ministry is about transparency, I write books and do blog post like this because they're what God gives me. The past year of my life I have had to re program my mind, find God for myself and basically learn that much of what I was taught was based off of opinions. I harbor no ill type of feelings just sadness because so many years were spent just wanting to be better, wanting to make friends which I did but also lost some because they're still loyal to that ministry. That ministry isolates and basically writes off those who walk away from it which is also a cult like action. You cannot BLOCK and write people off when they respectfully disagree, those are souls and that is on your hands. My biggest prayer is that this trend of clique culture, t-shirt, purity rings passes soon and we get back to the heart of what he gave us to do.
God gives us these ministries to reach the broken, yes I am a writer so I understand NEEDING to make a profit because this is what I do for a living. I also understand that when I'm walking in my calling he will send people into my life who help me, the books will sale because money is necessary. My biggest pet peeve would be those who misquote 1 Timothy 6:10 which states that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Ecclesiastes 10:19 tells us that money is the answer for everything so yes in the kingdom, within the Christian community we have a need to make a living just like the world but the issue is within our motive. Why are you writing books and selling merchandise with scripture? Is it to be a light? Is it to draw others to Christ? The motive behind these relationship/ purity based ministries is EVERYTHING! We have become a purity culture that is so far from the heart of God. Can we get back to conferences, opening our homes to the broken and pouring out our hearts? Can we go back to the humbleness of sitting in a room with 5-10 girls/women and sharing our hurts, our victories and not worry about our vulnerability being played on or profited? We can't get the past back... we can change the culture though and where we are heading. The last thing I want to leave you with is a charge to examine your own heart, not the ministries, people or things I have written about but your own heart. Ask God what is it that he has called you to do and ask him to show you how to get back to the heart of serving.- Cdj❤