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Wayman Mitchell: Apostle or Rebel?

To understand Christian Fellowship Ministries, hereafter called CFM, one must have an understanding of where they have come from and how they were formed.

CFM was started in 1970 by Wayman O. Mitchell. At the time, Wayman Mitchell was a pastor in the Foursquare denomination, a Pentecostal fellowship founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the early 1920's.  Mitchell was a graduate of the Foursquare Bible College, L.I.F.E. (Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism). During his time in Bible College, Wayman Mitchell states that he had some unpleasant experiences. For this reason, he became anti-Bible College. Despite these experiences, he accepted licensing from the Foursquare denomination and in so doing, promised to uphold the Foursquare beliefs and to be loyal. Pastor Mitchell pastored three Foursquare churches, the last of which was the church in Prescott, Arizona where he eventually started his own movement.

Prescott, Arizona in the 1970's was a gathering place of many Hippie-type, anti-establishment young people. Pastor Mitchell actively evangelised among these young people and was very successful. Because of their anti-establishment beliefs, these youth were quick and anxious to be a part of a revolutionary movement that was anti-establishment in regards to how they viewed the established church. Wayman Mitchell couldn't have asked for a more pliable group of people upon which to build his movement. In the midst of rebellion and the Hippie movement, young people all over the country were turning to Jesus in what became known as the Jesus Movement. Suddenly, Jesus was popular.

Wayman Mitchell thrived within the Foursquare movement, even to being appointed overseer of all the Arizona churches for the denomination. Wayman Mitchell had a passion for discipleship and church planting which was originally applauded by his Foursquare overseers. There was one little problem though: Wayman Mitchell decided he had been shown by God, the correct pattern for church planting and discipleship and Foursquare didn't have it right. He used this as an excuse to defy his spiritual overseers and take matters into his own hands. Was the Foursquare movement anti-church planting?  Was it anti-discipleship? No, of course not. Every movement, including Wayman Mitchell's, has certain rules for the protection of the movement and for practical reasons. What really transpired is that Wayman Mitchell became important in his own eyes and decided that no one was going to tell him what to do.

This schism in thought between the leaders of the Foursquare movement and Wayman Mitchell played itself out in several ways.  Eventually, Wayman Mitchell had several church plants in the state of Arizona. If you recall, Wayman Mitchell was in the fiduciary position of overseer of the Arizona Foursquare churches.  His feud with the Foursquare denomination led him to begin isolating the previously established Foursquare churches while only favouring his own. He was drawing the legendary line in the sand.  Mitchell and his disciple-pastors attended the Foursquare conventions and kept to themselves in a clique, refusing to have fellowship with the other pastors.  When a speaker said something that was not to Wayman Mitchell's liking, he would make a scene by walking out of the session and having his disciples follow in like manner. This behaviour was a direct message to the Foursquare denomination. It was a show of defiance.

Eventually the complaints about the Arizona Foursquare churches shunning of the established Foursquare churches by Mitchell and Company, and the very visible defiance exhibited by the Mitchell contingent, brought things to a head. There either had to be a resolution or there was going to have to be a separation of the ways. Wayman Mitchell got what he wanted.  He wanted to be able to separate and still be seen as the good guy and not as the rebel that he was. He accomplished this by spiritualising the conflict and painting himself as the persecuted one.  It is interesting to note that in recent days, Wayman Mitchell has accused those separating from his movement of the very same thing. You reap what you sow.

Christian Fellowship Ministries was conceived in revival but birthed in rebellion. This rebellious attitude has never been repented of or even acknowledged. Because of this, they have become more elitist and self-righteous as time has gone by. It is important to exalt themselves while debasing all other churches. This guarantees their place as the most correct church in modern times (In their thinking).

Thanks to Slam The Door for this article