Who’s Your Covering?

It has come to my attention, after a recent series of unfortunate events, that the cause of our problems could be a lack of covering.  Having removed ourselves from the umbrella of protection, we are now vulnerable to random attacks of misfortune.

In order to rectify this situation, we are going to consider possible candidates for this position.

We know several people who would be more than happy to fill this role; however their over-enthusiasm for the position concerns us.

If you believe that you may be qualified for this position, please describe what you have to offer in this regard.  We are willing to consider all serious applicants.

Thank you.

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45 thoughts on “Who’s Your Covering?

  1. Actually I’m was trying to decide between you, Bro. Maynard or RobbyMac for my covering. I thought as long as I’m in the world wide web of blogworld ‘church’ one of you should do. Guess I’ll keep it to Bro. May or Robby though as it seems like you can’t even cover yourself let alone me. Sigh….I did want to have a woman covering though. It is so cutting edge.

    Hmmm, Maybe Kathy Escobar is free.

  2. ‘Christianity’ has come up with some weird doctrines in it’s time but this ‘covering’ one is the big daddy ( no pun intended) of them all.It’s heirarchy mixed with superstition and an extremely powerful (almost divine!!) Adversary with his legion of little Adversaries that are running around with loads of nasty things to do to the uncovered.What kind of God do the ‘coverering’ fanatics worship – a 10 stone weakling or the God who holds the entire univers and beyond in His hand.I’m afraid this teaching is cultic in nature so Grace I would say let Abba Father be your covering and the Spirit within your strength!!

    Charlie ( an ex covered one!!!)

  3. barb,
    It would be nice to have someone cutting edge.

    Since Robby’s busy building roofs, he might be good at covering.

    I read recently that Brother Maynard is a liar.

    kathy,
    Is refuge similar to covering? Perhaps refuge would work.

    ken,
    I figured the post would result in some interesting responses. It would be crow in cheek if I returned to our former apostle who would be more than happy to cover us after a grueling season of humiliation and shame.

    charlie,
    Yep, listen to this…

    However, just as He delegates responsibility, so He also gives them the responsibility to be an umbrella of protection for those under their care.

    I’m not sure what’s worse, having to be an umbrella holder for others, or always having that held over your head.

    erin,
    That’s an idea. Maybe she would throw in a free anointing candle. I wonder why she didn’t make me an offer.

  4. I am not qualified, and that about covers it, all things considered as I would be a holey umbrella indeed.

    Might I recommend a mutual Friend who’s got it together enough to fill the job … well … at least adequately enough for the superhyperapostolic people to agree to. Perhaps. But I think He’d serve as a fairly holy umbrella Guy. Maybe even put some color into it instead of the usual dull black. Okay. Lemme know if you need a connection, Grace. Happy to introduce yuh!

    Right-ee-oh, gotta go!

  5. LOL … If I come out and hold an umbrella over you all the time, does that mean we get to drink coffee (and other things) together? If so, then pick me, pick me!!

    Oh, and can I also carry a marshmallow gun to shoot at your persecutors? I figure just a shield of protection isn’t enough, we might need some offensive weapons as well.

  6. Grace. I can’t say that I have any suggestions, as I’ve ceased interviewing candidates for the position (largely out of frustration with their inadequacy). I can, however, empathize with your situation. We too were faced with similar questions after our “departure” from our “covering”. The most interesting thing was that I couldn’t interest any of these “concerned” persons to read with me or reconcile for me Matthew 23:1-12. Go figure.

  7. brad,
    If one is threatened for leaving a church, it would probably fall into the power/fear spectrum. Is your Friend’s name Vinny?

    sonja,
    Who knew that covering could be fun?
    Coffee in the morning, margaritas in the afternoon, and wine in the evening.

    I forgot that we have a potato gun. Heck, between that and the marshmallow gun, we might not need the umbrella. ;)

  8. hmmmm…I never thought of BEING the covering person. But with 10% of your money, I guess I could be talked into it. You can hit the donate button on my blog page. I guarantee that your washing machines will not break down. (especially if they are new)

  9. Covering and/or being in ‘right alignment’ are what I would categorize as Christian novelty teachings, akin to what Charlie labels as Christian superstition.

    Fear based teachings are wack, no doubt about it. They breed insecurity, worry, anxiety, manipulation, abuse, control. They are simplistic conventions used to measure a person’s spiritual maturity by those doing the covering.

    There is nothing funny about these very real arrangements in churches most of us are familiar with & what we escaped out of at one time or another. The devil & his minions the New Testament version of the Bogeyman. “Do this & don’t do that or the devil will get you” is the leverage used to keep the fearful in line. The first 5 verses of the Book of Job twisted into an unrecognizable form to build upon the wack premise of the need for proper covering. Covering as in protection. Safety from the onslaught of an evil, cunning, powerful enemy out to destroy you. Spooky spiritual stuff. Not at all able to build up the saints or bring about any peace of mind.

    Anything that induces paranoia in any way shape or form, is patently wack IMHO. Not a real representation of Jesus’ kingdom teachings. But I can understand the draw for those that do want to feel they are in some degree of control over their circumstances & able to ward off evil. It is a hoped-for talisman gilt with just enough spiritual concepts to make it past a cursory theological review. It results in spiritual bondage of the most despicable kind. It distorts the true nature of God & how Jesus portrayed Him in the gospel accounts. It becomes the filter all inexplicable circumstances are viewed through. Crazy stuff really. Unfunny & unfortunately the very religious dynamic many believers have adopted as the norm… :(

  10. As funny as we all try to make it, I have had a horrible time trying to bring my mind and emotions into line with the truth. Even this weekend (I was actualy just about to post on it on my blog) when a daughter told me that she was going to move in with her boyfriend and after battling with her all weekend Monday came. We had a truck break down on the highway on the way into work in the morning, after spending the morning waiting for the towing truck I got another call from another one of my employees where the tire rod or something had fallen OUT OF THE TRUCK. After two tow trucks and an irate customer, I had about had it. The thing that made me so crazy was that in the middle of everything, – my daughter and the work stuff – I had to really battle all week this idea of being one who ‘broke covenant’ and got out from under authority. I was a mess and then mad at myself for even entertaining the thought still.

    Maybe time will make a difference, but I still want to revert back to what I did that caused all the ‘bad luck.’ I know better in my head but it has not reached my heart yet.

  11. The funny thing about misfortune and covering is that if you believe in covering and are “covered”, then you can explain away misfortune as an attack by the devil because you are doing something that he doesn’t like (thereby making the misfortune a kind of badge of honor). Likewise, you can explain the same kinds of misfortune of those who are “uncovered” as the dire consequences of their choice to be unprotected and pass it off as their fault.

    Either way, you get to be right and those who don’t believe what you believe are wrong. And THAT is a main qualifier for being someone’s covering (tongue in cheek).

  12. I joke some about this to try offsetting insanity with levity, but overall, it really raises my heresy hackles.

    Though not from a Charismatic/Pentecostal background, I got enough doses of authoritarianism from my days in fundamentalism and other kinds of toxic religion systems. What I see across the board in different branches of Christianity that those who promote false concepts of covering, alignment, submission, etc., are insidious implanters of fear that leads to lack of taking responsibility. If you’re my covering, I don’t have to figure out anything for myself. That seems safe, but then, what if in so doing, I have turned over a core aspect of my humanity to someone who may not be humane? And I still end up accountable though I thought this meant the covering leader was responsible?!

    The equally frightening flip side of this outrageous “heterodox doctrine” is that it actually denies people their free will at the same time it talks about acting responsibly.

    The term “novelty teaching” was a kind euphemism for what we probably should be labeling as a vile, anti-biblical, Spirit-quenching practice that preys on sincere disciples and keeps them locked in spiritual infancy.

    These teachings are terrors which induce tears. Thank God, He will eventually wipe away all such tears, and halt all traumatizers who use these pseudo-Christian “doctrines.” Sadly, those covering leaders may well be surprised when they are called to accountability for the responsibility they lusted for and imposed over others.

  13. Mary

    Even when you leave a covering church some of the old tapes still lie dormant in your psyche.When big pressures hit the old tapes start playing The fascination with our old models is an extremely powerful force.I found help with 2 sources – Steve Hassan’s Cult deprogramming book and also Rene Girard’s ‘I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning’ that deals with mimetic desire,interpersonal conflict (with our models) and eventual scapegoating.These are the symptoms of how ancient societies and religions worked – unfortunately the dynamics are still at work in 21st century Christianity.Girard is widely read in Europe but fairly unknown in USA.His books are a must for all ex-church members.

    Charlie

  14. I’ve actually been wondering, does anyone know the history behind where this idea arose from? Does it have a definite, specific origin, or is it just one of those things that’s been around and no one has really thought about where it came from or dared to even question its beginnings? Anyone know?

  15. Charlie,

    You’re right; those tapes just a keep on playin’. I haven’t heard of those books, but they sound interesting. Can the book by Girard be found in the US?

  16. Barb:

    How I wish there were a quick ‘detox’ step or process that could rewire out thought patterns and/or knee-jerk responses due to deeply ingrained religious upbringing or its programming we submitted to.

    I know there are similar elements involved with brain washing or mind control that some extreme cults use to keep proselytes in line. I don’t want to put your experience or those of us that do identify with post-charismatic freedom into such an extreme category. I ‘sense’ (no prophetic gifting claimed ;) ) you were sincere in your previous spiritual journey. No need to get overworked about your responses to what sounds like very emotionally charged events you mentioned.

    None of us are immune from old tapes playing in our head. Hell, I’ve got them still playing from childhood playground experiences along with myriad adolescent ones demanding my attention in restless dreams at night. All the common frustration themes replay in my subconscious no matter how ‘objective’ & correct I think I am thinking at the moment…

    I have had to come to some severe conclusions. Severe in the sense that I had to admit I did accept incomplete or one-sided theological teachings received from people I actually respected & looked up to for wisdom & sound doctrine. I pushed myself into the prophetic realms because I had a deep desire to prove to myself whether or not it was valid. That process is what catalyzed my later exit from such influences. However, it was not like turning off a switch. That ‘afterimage’ still glowed on my spiritual retina long after I got out of the spotlight of prophetic/renewal/apostolic intrigue. I had to work through months & months of questioning all my previously uncontested conclusions. It was discomforting. And not a quick-fix process by any stretch of the imagination.

    If it makes even the smallest difference here I would say you are not fully responsible for fixing whatever it is that seems wrong with your reactions to the events you shared. I believe you are a victim in the real sense of the word, not just in the escapist justification sense. I sense you want to be at peace with your past with a healthy understanding of where you came from & what was good & bad about it. All without the nagging feelings of missing the mark or disappointing God or carelessly moving outside of His heart (protection, blessing, favor). I think you want God to be there for you regardless of the very real awareness of your weaknesses, fears, limitations. I think you want a better ‘image’ of who He is & how He deals with you right where you’re at. No pre-conditions. No pre-qualifications. No artificial requirements.

    We are fragile creatures really. We do need encouragement & understanding & patience & empathy & an “atta boy” or “atta girl” more often than it is given. You are not disappointing God or missing the mark. At least I do not sense any distancing of yourself from God. Rather, I sense His delight in your perseverance, honesty, vulnerability & undiminished hope. Can’t say I can make it better for you. But I wanted you to hear something positive in the midst of what you feel is a whirlwind.

    May He grant you peace & comfort & strength & wisdom in the life challenges you are dealing with. Blessings.

  17. Oh dear! Have they herd of such a thing called LIFE where everything isn’t always perfect?

    Sorry you have to experience that. It’s amazing how much better we know how others should do things…Even when they don’t ask for that advice.

    Great comments here by the way.. and I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog some time ago!

    :)

  18. Here you go:

    How about “Covering 2.0”? Now, with improved apostolic alignment!

    Act now and receive a free subscription to AccountabilityForum (AF). Members of AF enjoy the benefits of an indeterminate number of people who share, discuss, criticize, uh – I mean provide feedback and counsel; all without your needing to know or be present. Simply share your issues with the AF and off you go! Remember the AF motto – “So, how’s that working for ya?!”

    ; ‘ )

    Of course, a stable, long-term relationship with a mature friend who has the freedom to speak the truth in love, and exercises the freedom to do so on the strength of that relationship founded upon love, has occasionally been known to suffice in a pinch.

    Mark

  19. Hey Grace can I suggest a friend of mine, he used to be a carpenter before he went into the ministry, has A LOT of experience in creating things.

    Always wants what’s truly good for people (even if that sometimes hurts), knows what it’s like to have a really bad day. He also knows that sometimes bad things happen and its no-ones fault (i.e. nothing to do with covering or lack of or not giving money to a dodgy salesman with a perma tan), that’s just the way things are, and had a few choice words for those who taught otherwise.

    But then again I think you seem to know him pretty well…

  20. Joseph – thanks for you very kind words.

    Grace, being out for a bit longer than me – do you struggle at all anymore with the voices or tapes of the old stuff? I would emagine it would go away more than I am experiencing now.

  21. Wow! I’m wondering what kind of churches you guys have been going to. God must have been protecting me, I guess. I know what the covering thing is, but it was always a rather vague concept in the background even when I was going to Charismatic churches.

    Anyway, congratulations for being out of that. Once you get your attention on your real covering (Jesus) and on seeing where He’s going next, you’ll find that other stuff just fading away. I don’t have the “covering” problem, but I’ve had plenty other problems, and I’d have to say that the solution to all of them is keeping my eyes on Jesus and not on the particular hang-up I’m struggling with.

    God bless,

    Cindy

  22. Barb
    Joseph’s thoughts are spot on – the great thing is to know that we are not alone and hundreds of thousands of others have walked the same Journey as ourselves in leaving controlling groups.Fully fledged cults are only one end of the spectrum where I believe many of our authorty based ‘churches’ lie.It is the intensity of the brainwashing that separates the two not the basic mechanics.Hassan’s book let me see those mechanics that I could identify with – years of sermons ( probably 2/3 per week for 15 years) from the same guy is ‘brainwashing’ easpecially when the tight committed form of the church and shepherding type authority structures do not allow for much disagreement or debate.Girard says that we learn our desires from others – they do not rise up within us as autonomous beings – what we and many others have been through is the infection of others desire ( dressed up as holy/metaphysical desire).This ‘zeal for God’ was in many ways just the ‘caught’ desire of our charismatic leaders which was probably their desire for recognition,power and control.Girard says that the way to freedom lies in seeing this dynamic at work and knowing that we have been involved in hidden rivalry with our monstrous doubles.We became mirror images of our ‘gurus’ – our becoming like them only heightened their sense of importance and convinced them that they were God’s servants – why else would so many be following them.Like 2 planets we feel the gravitational pull of each other that is desire – we want each other’s being.The answer is to come into mimesis with Christ who doesn’t rival with us – He is the new model that points us to a Father who doesn’t rival.He rewires our desire so that we no longer feel this tug within to gain being from others or to fight them for it.Practically ,a Dutch pastor who knew Girard told me that the way to freedom was seeing the dynamic and then putting emotional and perhaps even physical distance between those who had enthrawled us – those who fascinated us.We must not fight our old model’s with this new truth (or we get sucked in again to their orbit and agenda) but use it to show compassion to ourselves and others who have fallen under the desire spell.Joseph is correct – it may take time for the old tapes to stop but they become fainter as we learn to enjoy the freedom that Christ came to give us – freedom from mimetic desire that leads to rivalry, violent disorder and scapegoating.Girard says that if you have had your desires (especially religious desires) blocked by another then you have been ‘scandalised’ – the Good news is that those are the very ones whom Christ came to heal and bind up their broken hearts!

    Their is hope – I have been there and now see what Christ really came to do!

    Barb – you can get Girard’s book on Amazom.com – it’s even reduced!!

    Charlie

  23. I’ve always thought the “umbrella” analogy was quite accurate – it stops the blessing of God (light rain) from getting to you – and does nothing to stop the judgement of God (flood) from washing you away.

    I think Noah had a better idea of covering. You’re only safe in the ark (in Christ).

  24. Jerry

    I suspect that it also works when a man who can see leads a blind or seeing man!The mechanism is wired into our fallen DNA – Jesus is the only model to follow – He doesn’t rival back even when we try and rival Him with our piety and religious observance.Thats why leadership in any human community is extremely dangerous.As Van Morrison sings ‘ No Method No Guru ,just you and I and nature in the Garden with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,wet with rain!!!’

    Charlie

  25. Yikes! I’m not going to get very far with replies before I have to go to work.

    barb,
    Does this mean I should cancel my maintenance contract with Sears?

    amy,
    Yes, pretty much sarcasm. Issues of authority and submission were the first thing I dealt with in leaving church. Thanks to FViola, WayneJ, and others, I was able to get free of the intimidation that had been projected on us.

    Thanks for the links, both good posts. I agree with your perspective that covering can be a barrier from dealing with God directly in relationship.

    joseph,
    Great explanation. What place does fear have in the teachings of Jesus or the relationships of brothers in the church? This should be an automatic red flag. I agree with your conclusions that it is superstitious, crazy, and a complete distortion of the nature and character of God.

    barb,
    It is easier for me to joke about covering than to post about the holes in my faith, the ways in which I don’t yet trust or believe. In answer to Brad’s earlier comment about his Friend, the Umbrella Guy, I really wanted to say, “well apparently He doesn’t work weekends.” But I know better, so I made a joke about Vinny instead.

    The most real and vulnerable area of growth in my life right now is learning who God is in the midst of the things in my life that are difficult. Sometimes I am frustrated to still be learning such elementary lessons, yet realistically, these are things that can only be known in the midst of real experiences.

    Now that I’ve thrown out certainty and easy beliefism and thrown away the automatic immunity of being one of God’s blessed and favored people, I’m left with learning what role pain and suffering have in my life (particularly when it has nothing to do with persecution).

    As far as the fear of leaving covering, it didn’t ever intimidate me. I don’t know why. Perhaps because it conflicted with my innate understanding of my relationship with God, I never really submitted myself to it. Which is exactly what I was accused of. ;)

    mary,
    You and Fred were on the list of candidates until the infamous “pipe incident.” Sorry.

    However, your understanding of the main qualifier (“we are always right”) should be considered.

    Perhaps we’ll just drop Fred from the list, since you didn’t inhale.

    brad,
    Sorry to raise your hackles. This particular dysfunction is very similar in both fundamental and charismatic circles. Those who take it to an extreme are incredibly presumptuous about their role and authority in the lives of others and the potential for abuse is obvious.

  26. Grace,

    As suggested yesterday in our gmail-chat, I am a firm believer in goose-feather duvets being the best possible covering.

    That’s what you were asking about, wasn’t it? :)

  27. I don’t know how the entire ‘covering’ doctrine was extrapolated from the Bible, but having served in a charasmatic church for a period of time, I was exposed to the ‘covering’ doctrine of Christ/man/woman lifted from 1 Corinthians 11:3-10. As with all doctrines that isolate passages from the context of the scriptural narrative, it becomes a very controlling doctrine and places people in bondage rather than setting them free. I am convinced that Biblical illiteracy is probably the single largest problem in the church today. If you ‘believe the Bible’ but do not understand the biblical world view and its message, then you are vulnerable to any authority that tells you what it says.

    God’s final word to us was a person – Jesus Christ. “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” (Matt. 17:5)

  28. Joseph – thanks for you very kind words.

    You are most welcome…

    Grace, being out for a bit longer than me – do you struggle at all anymore with the voices or tapes of the old stuff? I would emagine it would go away more than I am experiencing now.

    Although addressed to grace, I will share a bit of what helped me in my journey.

    I have a very rational mind coupled with a skeptical bent due to the fact that my own personal experience seemed far less dramatic than what was “talked up” or promised in the Pentecostal/charismatic/prophetic teachings I was fed. I refer to this theological/doctrinal position as the “company line” that began to sound too good to be true. The promised encounter with God & the dynamic interaction with the Holy Spirit was so built up it exceeded the experiences I had let alone those that I observed during my participation in the movement.

    I have conversations going on in my head all the time. Some people refer to them as voices or tapes or whatever, it is simply conversation with ourselves. We think as a conversation in our mind. Old tapes are those conversations that replay from past experiences like a broken record or an endless loop. But I had a rational voice that started to question those other voices. I’m sure some people posting here have been accused of this ‘rational voice’ being the same as the serpent’s dialog with Eve in the Garden. “Did God say…?” Questioning was not encouraged nor facilitated. Once that rational voice became more consistent it began to make more sense than the old tapes or the company line I kept hearing.

    Healthy skepticism is not the unforgivable sin. And God big enough to deal with any doubt or question or concern without being threatened or disappointed or pissed off. He is not the uptight deity many paint Him out to be.

    Have you ever been taught “delayed obedience is disobedience”? Well, once I came across the Parable of the Two Sons (Matt 21:28-31) I had to reject what I had been taught. Same with the Malachi curse for those that did not tithe. Had to reject that teaching. I allowed myself to read contrary theological POVs from some strongly anti-charismatic sources. I simply had to hear from their perspective what they saw as wack in the prophetic camps. Once I was willing to allow my own iron-clad theological conclusions to be challenged, I was the better for it. I do not blog. But I did extensive writing on message forums. Aired out all my frustrations & questions & painful experiences in print. I like to write. I like communicating this way. I am not a writer, but I like to write. So I did. Copious amounts of thoughtful posts that for me were therapeutic. I became less uptight about my own viewpoints.

    Much of what I experienced in the Pentecostal/prophetic camps could not deliver on what they claimed. And since I sincerely sought out its validity I could then conclude it was not all that is was billed as. The Emperor’s New Clothes the same as the New Prophet’s Mantle & Title & Ability. I coined this label for the uber-prophetic types: The Fellowship of Enoch. Their stories of supernatural encounters of other-worldly origin so far-fetched it seemed they were of no earthly good. Really. I went to hear some of the top ‘seers’ or ‘mystics’ & their supposed experiences so far out there I began to wonder just how practical it could ever be. It was weird. Odd. Uncommon. Unnatural. And once I exited the movement, totally unnecessary.

    That is my journey in a nut shell. If you want, I will continue this convo on your blog if you want. Let me know.

  29. Ummmm … I’m not doing anything at the moment …. could I give it a try???

    Like I think I could be good at it, I’m a better leader than a follower, I a way better boss than a servant and I need the money.

  30. Great conversation everyone. I really enjoyed reading all of your thoughts.

    cody,
    The idea of looking for a mediator in our relationship with God can be seen in the OT with examples of Moses, Saul, etc.

    The actual doctrine of covering became widespread with the shepherding/discipleship movement in charismatic circles and with Bill Gothard’s teaching in fundamentalist circles.

    I mention it in this post on charismatic history. As Barry said, Post-Charismatic does a great job of explaining how this teaching (which is actually rooted in Watchman Nee’s teaching on Spiritual Authority) became a part of church doctrine. Also, if you google the title of this post, you will come across articles by Frank Viola based on a book of his by the same name.

    Thanks Mimou. It has been a rich contribution of comments.

    mark,
    Loved your response, although it reminded me of so many meetings we were involved in discussing how “the sheep” should be living and determining how they could be “helped.”

    nick,
    “dodgy salesman with a perma tan”:)

    heather,
    I remember that post and video. Crazy stuff.

    tom,
    Brant seems like a good idea, and he has an accordion. That should count for something.

    cindy,
    Sometimes the covering is invisible until you bump against it. Many people in churches that have this doctrine manage to avoid negative encounters. Also, the character of the leader determines the degree of control and manipulation involved in how this is played out.

    jerry,
    Good point. The umbrella is an obstacle to the reality of being in Christ.

    robby,
    I submit to your Canadian authority concerning geese and their down. ;)

    ken,
    Yes, usually the idea of covering and headship is extended to the marriage relationship via the scriptures you mentioned. Interesting that those who espouse inerrancy and scriptural certainty often promote controlling doctrines that miss the heart and message of the Bible.

    mark,
    Who said anything about money?

    bob,
    Yikes, that’s not very reassuring.

    joseph and charlie,
    Thanks for your thoughts throughout this thread. Very enlightening and encouraging.

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