Agape Mission Church

6615 Santa Barbara Road
Elkridge
Maryland
21075
Denomination: 
Other Charismatic
Inwardly focused, charismatic, heavy on authority of leadership
1

Agape Mission Church has many college-campus-ministries in the area, which it uses as its prime form of recruiting. Sundays feature a charismatic worship style. Intentionally strong community is formed in small groups, where I found trained leaders to exercise a great amount of authority over participants.

Both myself and my friends had painful experiences with this church: some found it nearly impossible to leave, others believed themselves to be intentionally excluded from the community after awhile.

Comments

"As mentioned in my previous post the reasoning for their decision is now clear to me. The atheist is too difficult to recruit into their organization. They wanted vulnerable freshmen with no friends on campus who grew up in the church that would fall right in line with everything that is told to them.
 

Thank you for posting this insight. I think many campus groups work off this premise. While it makes marketing sense it certainly makes no biblical sense. Why do you think campus groups like Agape do not publically state this agenda? Why do Christians continue to avoid being completely transparent in their agenda? Do you think that its possible for us to be converisonists without becoming converionistic?

1

 

 

Since leaving Agape I have often thought about what the difference is between reaching out to someone and trying to get them to join your group. And it all really comes down to what loving that individual person really means. It comes down to what living the Christian walk is all about. Does it mean sticking your religion in someone’s face until they either join you or stop talking to you altogether? Or does it mean simply being a friend to the people that God puts in your life?

 

How does a Christian love an atheist? I believe being a Christian in that friendship would be to experience life with that person and being there when they need someone by their side. In most cases you are not going to get very far by inviting an atheist to come to church every week, saying that you will pray for them and pointing out things that they’re doing in their life that you see as wrong. Most times this will just push an atheist away from you, and assume that you are a stuck up Christian who is only concerned with the number of “spiritual points” you get for converting and bringing people to your church and being judgmental towards everybody else. In the end they get a bad perception of Christianity and a bad perception of what Jesus was all about.

 

The day in day out part of having a relationship with another human being would have a much more profound effect on this person’s life. Showing an atheist the way you live your life and the choices you make will create a much stronger and lasting impression of the correct way to live the Christian walk. Speaking with your actions and not your words. Words are cheap.

 

Agape is the opposite of everything described above. The way they reach out to people is plastic and I’m sure most people can see right through it. One activity I participated in during my time in Agape was creating “care packages” for students on campus. We put candy in paper bags and ran around campus handing them out to random students, chatting for a minute, and running away. Inside the bag was a little note that essentially said “Come to Agape!” Such an impersonal and superficial way to meet someone.

 

The people of Agape rarely go out into the world. They live in their own bubble. They FESTER. Just sitting in a corner not doing anything productive. The only time they really associate with outsiders is when September rolls around and the huge effort for the recruitment of freshmen begins. Because they know that will be the easiest time to get people to join. After leaving Agape I learned so much about what it means to be a Christian by seeing that living example of what not to do. Seeing all the damage that has been created by Agape has opened my eyes to a more genuine Christian lifestyle.

 

But aside from the students who become dedicated to the group they do not associate with outside people. From what I can tell they barely see their biological families and other friends.

 

I’ve read several posts on here from Agape supporters who say that your spiritual family at Agape is much more powerful and important than your biological families. When I was in Agape I was going down to their church 5 or 6 times a week. Almost every single day was consumed by their church services, prayer times and ministry meetings. And time after time when something came up with my family I would turn a cold shoulder and continue going to these Agape meetings. I became a different person when I was around my family. I suddenly felt like I was better than them. Like I had uncovered the secret truth of the universe and it was all mine. They couldn’t understand. To sum it all up I was a complete jerk to my family because being in Agape made me feel like I was a better person and had a much better understand of Christianity than them because I was in Agape. I was raised Christian and all my family are Christians, but somehow being in Agape just made me better. From reading posts on here it looks like I was not the only one who abandoned my real family for my “Agape family.”

 

And after all that, when I finally got out of Agape my family welcomed me back with completely open arms. They were able to forgive me for everything. I felt free again and am extremely thankful for my incredible family that can love me during and after that period of my life. That’s my real family. They would have never turned away from me even after I turned completely away from them and acted like some deity who was better than them. My mom and dad who raised me from birth. My brother and sister who I grew up with. Those are real, solid human relationships. And post after post on this board shows that these supposedly strong spiritual family relationships at Agape are shattered the very second you step out of line and question what is going on. These people ignore you and belittle you as soon as you think for yourself. That’s a very weak relationship and doesn’t hold a candle to the real and strong connection of a family.

 

I know that everyone’s family situation is different, but how can so many people abandon the lifelong relationships they’ve had with their families for a group of people they met a few months ago? My theory is that it starts at the Agape retreats. At these retreats there are always times of prayer at the end of the night. The Agape leaders and older students will make their way to the front of the room and pray. They will start quiet and get louder until they’re usually screaming and crying on the floor. Newer students don’t really know what to do so they will usually get up and go to the front as well. And in most cases they will start screaming and yelling prayers until they too “meet God powerfully in their heart.” This creates a strong bonding experience between the students (“The retreat was awesome! We all experienced God together!”). And you feel extremely close to these people despite knowing them for what might be a month or two. I know this because I was that new student making my way to the front of the room. I know because I was ready to drop everything to be in this group.

 

I’ve read in several sources that it is very common for cult leaders to have followers chant or scream something over and over. This creates a high in the brain that the follower believes to be reaching some sort of higher spiritual enlightenment. And like any high, the followers continue to crave that feeling and come back again and again. When I was at Agape retreats I experienced this spiritual high from praying and screaming for extended periods of time. And I believed it to be God moving and working in my heart. Later on I received this same exact high elsewhere from simply screaming. No prayer involved. I cannot speak for everyone else at these retreats, but I know now that these highs I received were not from God working in my heart. Because nothing happened. Nothing about me fundamentally changed. It was just about obtaining that “in the moment” experience.

 

I’m not saying that someone cannot meet God powerfully in prayer. But I believe that in the artificial setting at these retreats it would have been very difficult to do. I’m guessing that the screaming and crying out mostly happened because it was “what the cool kids were doing.” Really crying out to God that way happens when you are broken and it is between you and God. Otherwise it’s just for show. Screaming at the top of your lungs for God with so many other people around is just screaming out for attention from everyone else in the room.

 

Those are my thoughts. Watchmaker if you’re still out there let us know if you’re still willing to do some sort of blog about the whole Agape situation. I think it’d be a really positive direction to take all of this.

 

And for all the families who have been broken apart by Agape my sympathies go out to you. I was that family member who began to abandon my family for Agape. I feel terrible about it now. And knowing how my actions affected my family I can in some little way relate to what you’re going through. My prayers are with you and those people in your family who have found a “more enlightened way of living” in Agape.

This was really good to read thanks for taking the time to share.

Your reponse (along with all the others) has been very eye-opening. Thank you for your input, and I hope others will continue to post about their experiences as well.

Burned- very clear and direct and non reactive communication

 

Watchmaker I think you should take Burned up on the offer and set up a neutral blog where anyone can discuss Agape 

1

Hi all, just wondering if anyone could help me with this (current agape members included).

I am going through counseling and trying to break off all inappropriate or ungodly vows/spiritual soul ties I have made previously.

I have looked everywhere but am not able to find the words of the covenant that new Agape members have to say in front of the church. I was just wondering if any of you might have these words recorded somewhere (or at least the part about covenanting with Agape and its leaders). If you don't feel comfortable posting it on this site, you can e-mail it to me. Thanks in advance.

I have been going to AMC for over 1 year and I have never had to say a covenant or anything.