By Elizabeth Prata
The issue with Parachurch organizations – especially ones founded by women part 1
Yesterday I discussed some of the pros and the many cons of “Parachurch Organizations,” also known as Christian ministries. These are Christian organizations founded for a purpose- some with a social justice emphasis such as Christine Caine’s A21 which aims to to end sex trafficking, or disaster relief like Samaritan’s Purse.
Others are founded by women in order to inspire women to discipling and fellowship, and it is these which most often go off the rails. One of the issues with parachurch organizations is often its lack of accountability, said Carl Trueman in a 9Marks essay. When a parachurch organization, or ‘ministry,’ is founded by women, led by women, teaches discipling, focusing on emotions, well, you have a cauldron of elements ripe to bear bad fruit. IF:Gathering is one example, Living Proof Ministries is another.
Another issue I have with parachurch organizations is that they often end up competing with churches instead of supporting local churches. Walk to Emmaus is an example of this. Some even end up supplanting the local church, where women feel if they’ve done a course or joined a group, that ‘counts’ for church.
Today’s review is one of these parachurch ministries founded by women, focusing on discipling, and is off the rails. I was asked to look into The Yada Factor and The Transforming Center. Today let’s take a look at The Yada Factor. Tomorrow I’ll look at The Transforming Center
THE YADA FACTOR
The very first thing a woman is confronted with when going to The Yada Factor’s website is this statement:
Yada is a Hebrew word that the ministry founder says it means ‘to be known by God’ in case you’re wondering about this organization’s title.
Yada introduction video below for your perusal. What usually follows a claim of teaching you to ‘hear God’s voice’ is an emphasis on how noisy this world is, so you are missing out in hearing it. I’d like to point out here that the world has always been noisy and stressful. In 25 BC the city of Rome had a population of 1 million.
It is no more so now than it ever was. It is a fallacy to think that God cannot cut through the ‘noise’ and the ‘stress’ to make Himself heard. Saul was busy going all over Asia Minor killing Christians, but God simply spoke and His voice tossed him to the ground. Moses was going about his business when he saw a burning bush and a voice emerged from it. Amos was in the fields busy herding when God called. Jonah didn’t even want to hear the voice of God but God got through to him.
Don’t fall for the error being taught today that we are so busy and stressed we will miss God’s voice- but THIS ministry or THAT organization has the secret key to hearing it. He spoke worlds into existence. He can make himself known, IF prophetic speaking was even going on today- which it isn’t. He spoke and He is now quiet, because:
God, having spoken long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,2 in these last days spoke to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, (Hebrews 1:1-2).
So immediately your discernment radar should be alerted to anyone saying they hear the ‘voice of God’ or will teach you to cut through the clutter in order to hear the ‘voice of God’.
From 2021 Tax return we read that Yada Factor: “Despite the hardships of 2020 we see how God prepared YadaFactor to help people find intimacy with Him from the comfort of their homes. Using YFE, The YadaFactor Experience, an on-line course designed to help people hear God’s voice personally through Scripture and share in community.“
No. You will not hear God’s voice personally.
The YadaFactor experience (“Experience”, another buzz word. Christianity is not an “experience” to be had but a God-glorifying life to live via an identity God gave us) is rife with promises that God is just waiting in the wings to speak to you directly and personally, if you just adhere to the 7-week course then try real hard to listen for God’s promptings and intimate revelation to you as you write your own thoughts down in a notebook.
I would sit by the fire, open the Bible to wherever my fingers took me, ask the Lord to speak and I would write. I journaled like a crazy woman with many tear soaked papers. ~Founder Deb Csutoros
Since God is not speaking now because the canon is closed, the Yada student will inevitably feel disappointment. God is not speaking. The student will wonder and wonder why this isn’t working. She will wonder if the impression or prompting she thinks she received is really from God or not. Only disappointment and confusion will result from seeking intimacy with God by waiting to hear His voice, even if the course is allegedly ‘based on the Bible’. It’s based on unbiblical premises, a one size fits all template, and run by women whose foundational motto is psychologically based and emotionally driven.
Now, the Yada factor experience promotes some good things. They want you to seek a closer relationship with God, to pray diligently, to read your Bible, and to share your biblical insights gained with sisters in Christ. All these are good things. It’s how a “ministry” like this hooks you.
It is the church where you seek fellowship, deeper knowledge of God, and discipling.
It’s all about me, my wounds, my trauma, my emotional well-being
What happened was, the three women who founded it were meeting and discussing their struggles in an environment where they ‘felt safe’, didn’t try to correct one another, and felt free to be genuine about their doubts and fears. This is a good thing, as they shared what they had been learning from their daily Bible study. But the bad thing is, we are supposed to do that within the local church. If you feel you can’t be genuine with one another in your own church, such as to share insights, confess sins or struggles, knit together in a bond of the Word of God, then what is your church about? And if you feel comfortable with friends outside of church and meet to discuss things in an emotionally secure atmosphere, that’s great, but why start a whole ministry to draw others away from their own church?
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)
being devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor, (Romans 12:10).
We are supposed to be ‘one anothering’ within our own church, not meeting random women through a flat screen on Skype.
Looking into the credentials of the women who co-founded Yada Factor, we see one of them earned a
“Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016. She has been counseling in private practice since 2009 and she integrates the tools from this ministry into the counseling process to encourage clients to hear God’s voice and lead them from pain to healing. Her dissertation sought to learn how to create post traumatic growth with those whose religious beliefs collided with their trauma where many question God and need to find resolve and healing. The outcome of her study has helped her to offer a model of processing…“
That ‘model’ seems to have been a 12-step program. We read in the Yada Factor’s material:
“Pegi’s 15 years of experience as an Al-Anon member has greatly influenced the forming of YadaFactor…“
“What started as a Christian twelve step Bible study eventually transformed into an intimate fellowship based entirely on God’s Word.“
What is a 12-step program?
The basic premise of the 12-Step model is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from the substances or behaviors to which they are addicted, says https://americanaddictioncenters.org
I applaud anyone who has earned a doctorate, but I’d love to know about how the founder’s ‘model of processing’ helps people overcome years of sorrow and pain after experiencing trauma. I’d love to know how her degree in clinical psychology intersects with her Christianity and whether she believes in the sufficiency of the Bible as a healer for ills. Too often clinical psychologists dispense Christian advice though a secular worldview. We already know that she does not believe totally in the sufficiency of the word, since the ‘Experience’ relies on teaching personal revelation from God. Their thrust seems to be focused on the individual and her healing, rather than getting to know our Great God through His word.
I can summarize it this way: ‘Learn how to hear God’s voice, SO THAT you can use Him to focus on yourself and your need for emotional healing from trauma.’ Their emphasis seems to be on using God to help you get beyond trauma, rather than learning more about who God is.
In this way, God becomes a vehicle, rather than the Alpha & Omega.
Ladies, you don’t need a 12-step phycological model overlaid onto the Bible to help you with your doubts, fears, addictions, emotions about God. You need God and you need each other in church.
And the emphasis on emotional wounds is very present while the words sin, sin nature, and repentance are absent from the material I read. Thus it is very man-centered even though there are promises the Yada Factor student will get to know God better. If the focus is on your own trauma, the only person you will get to know better is yourself. And who hasn’t been traumatized by life? Some more than others to be sure, but we live in a sin-soaked world run temporarily by satanic powers. We ALL need to look up, not within.
Where are you, ladies?
My usual concern with women-founded and women-led ministries is that these women aren’t at home, and it’s a problem because if they are rebelling against scripture in that, what else are they rebelling about?
All three ladies of The Yada Factor are long-term married women with grown children. Great. But they should be focused on the home, children (even though grown) grandchildren, and husbands. Their bios show that Yada Factor is not the first corporation they led, each of them have been very busy outside the home in careers they labeled ‘Christian ministry’.
In fact, Deb Csutoros worked for ten years while her children were small, “as Founder and Director of a faith-based nonprofit helping teenage girls recover from sex trafficking.” She got so overwhelmed and tired, she eventually resigned, rested, only to pop up and start another parachurch organization in Yada when she felt better. (source)
- Cindy Chamberland, founder. Licensed professional counselor bio: you should read it.
- Debbie Csutoros, founder blog essay. You should read it.
- Pegi Richardson, founder: specialty- spiritual formation. Pegi belongs to a church (yay!) but the church identifies the wife of the main pastor as part of the leadership team (no). “…is part of the leadership team of Boca Raton Community Church, serving alongside her husband, Pastor Bill“
My Reactions to Yada factor: Conclusion
- First, they are a parachurch organization, something which often just ends up competing with the local church. It’s your pastors and elder women and friends in the church who are supposed to do what these women say they do- pray with you, develop trust, ‘do life’ together, etc. Your CHURCH, not some coaching ladies trained in a faraway place. You can’t “farm out” Titus 2.
- Second, it’s pointless to create a template for pursuing holiness. Sanctification is not not a template one size fits all, 12 steps, do this. A woman who has learned how to be a coach through Yada teaching you AND a bunch of other women from different churches, denominations, life experiences all at once is not the way. Get to know your local women in your church. Gather with them. Create memories, share experiences, teach each other by living example. Gather corporately, pray with each other, sing, and read the word and good Christian books together. A Yada coach is a clinical template that the Bible has no example for.
- You have no idea what church the flat-screen, Yada coach guiding you belongs to, if they belong to one at all. You don’t know their doctrine.
- Thirdly, their mission and vision is off: OUR VISION: Everyone knows and hears God. OUR MISSION: Helping people know it is possible to hear God personally through reading, writing, and sharing scripture. No. God is NOT speaking these days.
My advice is to make a commitment to the ladies of your OWN church. You begin the modeling of a woman who bravely shares real things- your sins, your struggles, your fears, if such groups are not present already. Listen to other women, really listen. Model one anothering by coming alongside in prayer, in love, and in dedication to sharing the glories of Christ from what your own pastor has taught you. Stay away from ministries alleging to bring you intimacy with God through a clinically trained coach’s flat screen teaching you to search for a non-existent voice that will not speak.
Gender roles: What about parachurch ministries?
What is the spiritual formation movement?
How parachurch ministries go off the rails
What Should You Do With Your Diagnosis? Responding Biblically to Mental Disorder Labels