Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Change Agents for Church Transformation

Discernment Ministries recently received a letter from a Nigerian pastor who wrote:

"Dearly beloved, Thank you for your help. I am a regular recipient of your newsletter. You did a fantastic research on "mentor" sometime. Could you please do a similar research on 'agent.' Our Convention in Nigeria has her annual theme as AGENTS OF TRANSFORMATION. Please help me find out the genesis of the word, 'agent.'"

The best description of "change agent" training and history can be found in Charlotte Iserbyt's history of education reform entitled the deliberate dumbing down of america: A Chronological Paper Trail (Conscience Press, 1999). This book is now available on-line at Iserbyt chronicles the early history of change agentry:

"National Training Laboratory (NTL) was established in 1947. The first laboratory session on human relations and group processes was held at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. Founders of the National Training Laboratory had important connections with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) -- World War II forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The NTL would become -- with the National Education Association (NEA) -- a premiere agency for human relations training (change agent/brainwashing).

"A 1962 book published jointly by NTL and the NEA entitled Five Issues in Training addressed the process of 'unfreezing, changing, and refreezing' attitudes in order to bring about change by stating the following: 'The Chinese communists would remove the target person from those situations and social relationships which tended to confirm and reinforce the validity of the old attitudes.' (p. 49)"

"This process is widely used in education, theology, medicine, business, government, etc., by pressuring individuals to participate in 'retreats,' removing them from familiar surroundings to 'unfreeze' their attitudes and values. People have been coming from all over the world to attend these retreats at NTL in Bethel, Maine since its founding. An excerpt from the 1977 issue of NTL Newsletter follows:

"'From the New Britain workshop dialogues of the founders emerged the notions of "action research laboratory" and "change agent" which were terms coined to denote a very vigorous proactive social change kind of posture, a merging of radical education, deviant behavioral science, and humanistic democracy.'" (pp. 38-39)

Retreats may not be as common as they used to be. Now most change agent training takes place in leadership training seminars, conferences and workshops. The way that the training is reinforced is through repeated contact with the participants -- monitoring, assessing, and following up on their progress to ensure that their new belief structures are still maintained. Iserbyt continues the history of change agentry on page 120 of the deliberate dumbing down of america in an entry for the year 1973:

"Ronald G. Havelock's The Change Agent's Guide to Innovation in Education was published (Educational Technology Publishing: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973). This Guide, which contains authentic case studies on how to sneak in controversial curricula and teaching strategies, or get them adopted by naive school boards, is the educator's bible for bringing about change in our children's values. Havelock's Guide was funded by the U.S. Office of Education and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and has continued to receive funding well into the 1980s. It has been republished in a second edition in 1995 by the same publishers."

Change Agent training for the purpose of global church "transformation" has been going on in evangelical circles for at least three decades now. Ken Blanchard, a widely popular pseudo-evangelical business guru who has trained many pastors, has been directly connected with the National Training Labs []. For more information on Ken Blanchard and his nefarious activities, see postings at Christian Research Service at Blanchard's close associate, Warren Bennis, has also been associated with the National Training Labs, as has Willis Harman, a leading Theosophist [both cited in The Age of Heretics: Heroes, Outlaws, and the Forerunners of Corporate Change by Art Kleiner]. Harman's activities with evangelical leaders was the topic of many Herescope posts this past fall.

All three of these New Age leaders have strong interconnections with the evangelical community, particularly through their workshops and seminars and books that bring the corporate business model into the church through the mechanism of leadership training.

Beware of leadership training!

It is modeled after the change agent training described by Iserbyt above. It utilizes very sophistical psychological and sociological techniques to:

1) UNFREEZE old attitudes, beliefs, opinions, values, and mindsets. This means that traditional theology and doctrine must be broken down. Very persuasive arguments, coercion, questioning, peer pressure and indoctrination techniques are used to facilitate this process.

2) CHANGE the mind. This means altering one's opinions, beliefs, values, attitudes, philosophies and theologies. There are many ways to do this. One is to call into question the validity or meaning of the old way. Another is to sell a person on the "new" way as better, more productive, more effective, etc. At this point it is very important to disparage the old way so that the new way looks bright and promising.

3) REFREEZE to the new way. Establish it so that it takes over control of the person. Now there are new beliefs, opinions, values, attitudes and behaviors that have taken root and gained a foothold. This is the new paradigm, a new "transformation." Psycho-social research shows that the new beliefs are more fully integrated when someone signs a covenant or has to put the new beliefs into action (take measurable steps to reach a goal).

[For more information on the topic above, see the current (Jan./Feb.) Discernment Ministries newsletter article entitled "The Necessity of Separation from Heresy" posted at]

It is very clear that the African continent is being "transformed" according to the new "kingdom" dominionism theology. American mission groups are bringing in this "change agent" style of leadership training with the pastors. One pastor at a time, one leader at a time, one church at a time, they are "transforming" the continent by "unfreezing" the old theology, "changing" into a new theology (based on the Great Commission "dominionism mandate" to "make" disciples), and "refreezing" this new theology by requiring the pastors to put it into action.

Also beware: these groups are establishing a monitoring and assessment network to ensure that the pastors comply with the new theologies they are introducing.

The Truth:

"My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:" (Proverbs 24:21)