Testimonies of Leaving Dr. Rob Reimer’s Soul Care

Several contacted us following our previous content on Dr. Rob Reimer and his Soul Care Teaching. With their permission we include their testimonies here.

A friend of mine, and a pastor and psychologist, wrote me the following about the outcome of Reimer’s teachings:

I have dialogued with people earnestly invested in Reimer’s content and other similar teachings.Most experience, over time, an undercurrent of anxiety and depression that begins to manifest in their lives.  Why?  These folks work tirelessly to please the Lord, get Him to move or act in power, or experience God’s presence in their lives.  Most report feeling like they repeatedly fall short, resulting in self-blame for their lack of spiritual power, physical illness, or emotional struggles. Thus, the vicious cycle of praying more, fasting more, reading more, listening more, and giving more is set in motion with no end in sight.Throughout Rob’s writings and seminars, he appears to set himself up as someone who “used” to struggle with this or that but has found the spiritual mountaintop.  Many of his examples follow this pattern: 1. “I wrestled with this issue, but I experienced the presence and power of Jesus by doing ___________.”  2. “If you desire Jesus to show up, then you’ve got to want it and do______________.”  The implication is clear—If you labor long and hard enough and are willing to pay the price, then you will experience Jesus in a new way and join Rob at the spiritual summit. Of course, we know it is not an issue of doing more since Christ has “done” it all through His death and resurrection.  Nor is it an issue of experiencing more presence or power since we have all the Holy Spirit at salvation. It is, however, an issue of maturing in the Lord through submission, trust, and obedience to Him and His Word. The result is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, in other words, Christlikeness through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Anonymous Testimony One

My Story

I share my story as a former member of South Shore Community Church (located in Brockton, Massachusetts). It should be noted that Rob Reimer was the Senior Pastor during my time there.  When Pastor Reimer first arrived, I found many of his teachings strange (particularly when he introduced Soul Care), but since he was the “pastor,” I trusted him. Numerous “red flags” were raised in my mind; however, I thought something was wrong with me, so I pushed them aside and faithfully attended and participated each week.  Through the answered prayers of others, God rescued me from SSCC and the heretical teachings that were being taught. Now, on the outside looking in, I would like to share my “red flag” experiences in hopes of helping others see the truth. 

Red Flag #1: A Word from the Lord

One of the first things I remember being introduced to the congregation was the concept of “speaking a word from God” to one another.  Of course, I later learned that this was not Scriptural but a human-made concept that champions extra-biblical revelation and consternation.  I noticed three problems when “speaking words from God” to one another. If someone came to me and said, “The Lord told me to tell you so and so,” how could I refute it? I mean, it was from the Lord, right?  Second, people spoke words to one another that contradicted Scripture. If God said something in His unchanging Word, why would He say something different today? Third and finally, people felt if they did not hear a word from God, they were somehow spiritually inferior.  

For example, one Sunday, I responded to the pastor’s invitation and went forward for prayer (at that time in my life, I was struggling with an issue). As I met with one of the lay ministers or assistants, he continued to ask me if I “heard a word from God?”  I had not heard a word from God (at least not how he meant it), so I said “no.”  Over and over, he asked, “Have you heard a word from God?” Again and again, I said, “no.”  Finally,  feeling trapped and more inadequate than when I came forward, I returned to my seat in shame. I thought, is there something wrong with me?  Why am I not hearing from the Lord?  Thus began the dysfunctional cycle: “Do more, and you will hear or experience Jesus.” Praise the Lord that I now hear from Him daily, through reading His Word, and each Sunday through the exegetical preaching of His Word!

Red Flag #2: False Teaching

Along with his books and resources, Pastor Reimer frequently talked about his circle of friends, folks like Bill Johnson, Martin Sanders, and Ron Walborn,  (to name just a few). He mentioned that some people did not think highly of these men or their teachings; nevertheless, they are dependable sources of truth. I naively trusted Pastor Reimer.  As I read Pastor Reimer’s books and was under his teaching, I was growing further away from the Lord, yet I did not realize it.  I eventually felt like I was in a spiritual desert, crawling from one mirage of water to another. None of these teachings quenched my thirst. Instead, they left me longing for more. After leaving South Shore, I began researching and comparing Rob’s writings and teachings to the content of God’s Word; I realized they did not align. I praise God that today, my thirst has been quenched by the Living Water in the Living Word!

Red Flag #3: A Focus on the Holy Spirit

The church held unique “Holy Spirit Weekends.” Remember when Peter, James, and John held Holy Spirit Weekends in the 1st-century church?  Me either.  Nonetheless, at the SSCC Holy Spirit Weekends, the church focused not on Christ but on bringing about the Holy Spirit’s power. I recall one instance where a person laughed frantically in the Spirit, sparking fear in several of us. Pastor Reimer said we should not be frightened since this was the Holy Spirit at work.  I thought later: Why am I fearful if the Holy Spirit is at work?  Answer: The Holy Spirit of the Word is not scary, He is not chaotic, and He is not upsetting. This was another spirit that did not look, smell, or taste like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. In stark contrast, the Holy Spirit of the Word gives us peace, gentleness, calm, and a sound mind. 

Red Flag #4: Feeling and Sensing God’s Leading

Pastor Reimer and the church leadership used phrases like “feeling God’s leading” or “sensing God’s direction” for decision-making.  One substantial decision for the church was to purchase property to build a permanent building in 2009 (at this point, SSCC was renting space). Pastor Reimer told us that the leadership prayed, fasted, “sensed God’s leading,” and “felt” like it was time for SSCC to have a home.  Indeed, money was poured into the endeavor. I lived paycheck to paycheck but gave all I could to this project. I did without because I was told, “This is God’s leading for SSCC.” Over time, the building project fell through and did not come to fruition. Indeed, it disappointed Pastor Reimer, the leadership, and the congregation. Nonetheless, it sent up another red flag: sensing and feeling are not the same as reading and hearing from God in His Word. Ebenezer Scrooge was right when addressing his senses: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more gravy than grave about you, whatever you are!”

Red Flag #5: Pastor as Celebrity

Pastor Reimer was treated like a celebrity and seemed to embrace his status gladly.  For instance, he appeared to relish sharing his spiritual pursuits, such as fasting, monastery retreats, words from the Lord, teaching endeavors, authorship, visions, dreams, and speaking agendas. Sadly and foolishly, like many others, I helped elevate Pastor Reimer to an idol-like status at the time. I thought he had some special relationship with God that I could never achieve.  He was on the mountain; I was in the valley.  He was the sacred leader; we were simply the fans. Our role was to help support him at the top while attempting to climb up and meet him.  I longed for him to encourage, acknowledge, speak, or use me in one of his “talks.” Yes, I was missing something in my life, yet Pastor Reimer seemingly knew how to exploit my needs to meet his. As my eyes opened years later, I realized we worshipped Rob, not God!  

Red Flag #6: Healed, Shown Off, and Hurt

I was one of the many who attended Pastor Reimer’s healing services. At one point, I went forward for physical healing. I was prayed for and believed the Lord truly touched me.  Like many others, in the following weeks, I was paraded as a trophy as evidence of what God had done through Pastor Reimer’s ministry. At first, I felt acknowledged and accepted, like I had finally done everything right and made the spiritual team.  However, over time, my physical pain returned, and, of course, the attention ended. At that time, the experience left me confused and wounded. Others in my family were brought to Pastor Reimer (not the Elders, as Scripture instructs in James) and left unhealed, feeling like they lacked the faith to accomplish such a task. Again, I realize now that my acceptance, security, and significance are in Christ alone, not in a church, not in a pastor, not in things, not in accomplishments, not in my family, but in my Savior.  I also have learned that the Lord does not heal everyone (at least not in the way we may expect it). This notion that God wants everyone physically well is not Scriptural.  Do you know any believers who have died?  I rest my case. 

Red Flag #7: I Am Not Enough

I have read Pastor Reimer’s books; I gobbled them up.  Although advertised as care for my soul or rivers for my quenched heart, each left me feeling inadequate. I was compelled to do more, want more, give me, pray more, and be more so Christ would show up in my life with power. Guess what?  That is precisely what I did. I worked diligently in the following areas: I prayed intensely, I read devotions, I listened to sermons, I played worship music, I gave my money to the church, I helped the needy, I fasted, I shared Jesus, and on and on. The result: My anxiety increased, I judged people, and I started questioning my salvation. It was an exhausting and spiritually unfruitful season. Today, I rest in my Savior Jesus, who says, “It is finished!”  My work for Christ flows out of my faith in Christ, not because I need Him to do something but because He has already done it all.

Red Flag #8: A Lack of Analysis

False teachers surround themselves with spiritually hungry people who will eat any dish if they can feel, sense, or experience the food. Unfortunately, when you get deep into this system, you defend rather than analyze the spiritual food on the table.  The longer you eat hamburger helper, the less you recognize organic grass-fed beef. Admittedly, I was digesting an entire course of spiritually processed food.  I supported everything Pastor Reimer said and did, even when it had an odd taste. I justified, sustained, and defended all spiritual junk food while turning down the true organic Word of God. Once I left SSCC and began feasting on God’s Word, the processed teachings I was eating became evident.  Sadly, when people would tell me, “Rob is a false teacher; just look at what he is saying and what the Word of God says,” I refused to gaze, listen, or analyze. In hindsight, I can now see that I was addicted to Pastor Reimer’s spiritual aspartame. 

Conclusion

There is more to my story, but these are the “red flag” highlights. I pray you will examine God’s Word closely before attacking me or defending Pastor Reimer.  In conclusion, I would like to ask a few thought-provoking questions for those of you who follow and promote Pastor Reimer: 1. Why do you run to his defense at the slightest hint of criticism or analysis of his ministry, saying things like, “Rob is anointed, Rob’s books are incredible, and Rob liberated me from such and such.”  I used to make comments like these until I realized that I could not defend the substance of his teachings when held to the mirror of the Word. 2. In contrast, why not engage in rich theological dialogue and debate to determine if his teachings align with Scripture, not just your experience?  3. This man’s ministry has deeply wounded people like me.  What is your response to those who have seen the system’s underbelly and come out injured? I am afraid we will continue to be dismissed and silenced. This is precisely why I wrote this paper anonymously.  Pastor Reimer may mean well, write well, and speak well, but his teachings (along with those in his circle) are not Scriptural. They are short-term solutions that will exacerbate one’s problems over the long term. You may feel better today because you have partaken of Pastor Reimer’s spiritual cuisine, but give it time; it will not last, and your soul will want to throw it up. Remember, the grass withers and the flowers fade, but only God’s Word lasts forever.  

Anonymous Testimony Two

I was involved in a ministry program connected to the C&MA that heavily used his teachings, and promoted his books.  It felt like a cult following, concerned that a person’s name and ways were used and exalted over the name of Jesus for healing. I found certain things to be uncomfortable, and that I did not agree with the theology or teaching. I also experienced the same deflective language you mentioned on more than one occasion to different persons when I would ask specific questions. I felt compelled to write to my district superintendent on these specific teachings and concerns a few years ago.  Praying for you and other leaders who are speaking truth in a loving way.  

Anonymous Testimony Three

My thoughts on Soul Care, are mixed. On one hand what makes soul care so provocative and impactful is that it is an area where the vast majority of evangelicalism has neglected. We’ve invested little time and energy by way of understanding the deeper roots of our idolatry and our sin and have spent much of the time working on what Tim Keller calls surface idols. Yet Soul Care, despite starting strong draws some wrong conclusions about the nature of where healing can be found. It is dangerous when we deviate from a focus on the gospel, and create a gospel + environment. Soul care does this by placing a significant emphasis both on the need for soul care and the underlying belief that every manifestation is the result of a deeper soul wound. While this is true some of the time, there is danger in assuming that this is true all of the time, which is where Soul Care begins to deviate. Any pattern of behavior that deviates from the traditional opinions of the author are deemed as signs that the individual has an unhealthy soul, and there’s probably deeper trauma that justifies this behavior.  I personally observed an instance of this where a young girl in Bible School was convinced by the author that her numerous relocations over a short period of time during her early twenties was the cause of deeper trauma that she herself was not aware of. She had “abandonment issues” simply because she moved around a lot growing up. It’s as if the author began to scratch the skin, created the wounds then sought to address the wound he created.While some leaders may be prone to use tactics like this for their own personal gain in hopes that “trauma bonding” would with deepen a relationship, I do not believe the author has this type of malicious intent. Simply put the principles and emphasis on the belief that every symptom is the result of a deeper trauma and in desperate need of the author’s solution is what makes this potentially dangerous. My second concern was the lack of theological framework that guided the author’s ability to rightly identify the problem. This, of course, causes a failure in his ability to rightly identify the solution. As the book progresses, the author gets further and further from a biblical framework, identifying many if not all soul care issues to demonic influence or possession. With limited biblical content to draw from, the author constructs an entire framework for how one is to identify, interact and expel the demonic influence he credits with oppressing the soul.

The book has great reviews and has been well received by those who have participated in Soul Care events, but one should wonder whether or not this is because the author has stumbled into an area of spiritual formation that has been largely neglected by the church at large, offering little to individuals about the subject of deeper soul transformation, thus offering few alternatives.

To listen to the first podcast, click here.

For a full written review I wrote on Dr. Reimer’s Soul Care teaching, click here.

For Mark Barnard’s paper on Reimer’s teaching on demon occupation, click here.

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