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Problems With Church Without Walls International | CWOWI

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A Critique of the Supernatural House Church Leadership

I reached a tipping point after 8+ years with John Fenn’s Church Without Walls International (CWOWI) house church movement.

The same John who wrote, “Leaving the Church to Find God” convinced me to leave CWOWI to find authentic fellowship elsewhere.


For years, there was a kind of clinical detachment and smugness underlying John’s personality that kept most people at a distance.

I find this particularly odd for someone who spoke of relationship-based faith, sharing meals, and worshipping in each other’s living rooms as one family under heaven.


I’m not sure what I did, really


Snipey, negative comments.

Negative-assuming questions (which were wrong, by the way).

Very little sympathy with what we’d gone through and experienced–as if only John’s experience with a disabled, adult son was the only true hardship in the world.


Whether it was his oft-repeated–and somewhat 

Sure, he was cordial and welcoming enough at house church conferences–not without at least one

Yes, he prayed with us and for us.

But 

One member suspected it was a lack of love.

Another said he’d always been ‘weird’ and untrusting.

A couple of people said they felt he merely “tolerated” them.


It also extended beyond John. There’s a certain gravitas in a family or church when an imperfect person with imperfect opinions claims to see, hear, and talk with angels and the Lord Jesus.


This is not a refutation of what our Sovereign Lord does or who He speaks to, but a call for the Church to keep both eyes open and understand that we are all sinful and fall short of God’s glory. 

Because after largely leaving behind the conferences

I suppose there was a very real possibility that it wasn’t due his life strugglest wasn’t too unlike the mega-church or upper class upbringing John came from, but the common Christians he seemed to 

There was a very real clinical detachment and smugness underlying his exterior.

The truth is, I never truly felt welcomed by John and those close to him, but a necessary evil  

Was it trauma from childhood, struggles in adult life, or simply a very real dislike/disdain for me and others?

And I wasn’t the only one who became disillusioned about how things were handled.

But it’s John’s ship and the Lord is his witness if he didn’t steer into the rocks every now and again.

(I mean–don’t we all?)

John had a chameleon aspect which, on the one hand, could make a person feel incredibly grateful for his sharing of long-lost, sacred revelation of the church in Scripture. On the other hand, John was very private and only offered tiny glimpses of his personal life and effectively kept many people far, far away. 

Over the years, I met some very wonderful people. AMAZING people, actually.

I came from a mega church but had always noticed a severe lack of discipleship and close relationships, so Fenn’s take on returning to the original church model was very appealing.

Except over time I came to realize it wasn’t very different at all.

Even without a large church staff, there was plenty of ego to go around.

And if not ego, then a kind of snooty “churchy” 

The more John shared his experiences seeing Jesus, the more It was a de facto cult of personality

Early on, sometime between 2008 and 2012, there was a split in the house church ove 

This article is not a cry for help, so much as a plea for CWOWI leadership and subsequent members to repair the breach in the organization. 

It starts at the very top.

Our mission is simple: bring together the Body of Christ around the world, in every nation, tongue, and language.

Be a resource for believers around the world and help them learn and participate in house churches in their local communities. 

Bring believers together so they can discover opportunities to serve Christ, one another, grow, and fellowship together.

Join us in helping the Body of Christ come together worldwide 

Our mission is simple: bring together the Body of Christ around the world, in every nation, tongue, and language.

Be a resource for believers around the world and help them learn and participate in house churches in their local communities. 

Bring believers together so they can discover opportunities to serve Christ, one another, grow, and fellowship together.

Sign up for our newsletter, donate, and pray for us and our brothers and sisters around the world!

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