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The Potters House (AKA The Door,)

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The Potters House (AKA The Door,)
The Potters House (AKA The Door, Victory Chapel)

Christian Fellowship Ministries (CFM) - originally called Victory Chapel - operates a worldwide network of churches under the names "The Door" (not the satirical Christian magazine published by The Trinity Foundation) "Potter's House" (not TD Jakes' church), "Grace Chapel," "Praise Chapel," "La Puerta," "Evangeliegemeente De Deur" (Netherlands) and others.


The Potter's House (known also as The Door, Victory Chapel, Christian Center, Crossroads Chapel, De Puerta and Christian Fellowship incorporated in Prescott) was begun in Prescott, Arizona, in the early 1970's by Wayman Mitchell. By 1985 over 250 churches were established (all directly related to the Prescott church) around the globe. Mitchell is a graduate of L.I.F.E.

Bible College (affiliated with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) who had a falling out with the Foursquare Church concerning certain procedures in ordaining men into the ministry. Consequently, Mitchell dropped his ordination with them and became licensed through the church he established in Prescott.

The Potter's House grew out of Mitchell's determination to establish what he perceived to be a New Testament church. Many of those attending Potter's House churches are converts who came oiut of the counterculture of the 60's and 70's and were influenced by the Jesus Movement which reached its peak during that same time period. Mitchel seized the opportunity to provide what many of these individuals were lacking: direction in life, a personal dynamic experience with Jesus Christ, and an opportunity to exercise real commitment to a local church body.


The network of churches appears to adhere to an orthodox Christian theology with a decidedly Pentecostal/Charismatic bend (see, for example, these Statements of Faith Off-site Link, as posted at the website of The Potter's House, Carson City, Nevada).

The Potter's House is a Pentecostal denomination which claims to hold to the same doctrinal distinctives as the Assemblies of God (a mainstream Pentecostal church). Although the Potter's House has not published a public "statement of faith" or doctrinal statement outlining their particular theological views, they do adhere to the teachings espoused in Duffield and VanCleave's

Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (published through L.I.F.E. Bible College).

The Potter's House appears to hold to essential biblical doctrine (i.e. the Trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by grace alone, etc). In non-essentials, they hold to a pretribulational rapture and a premillenial return of Christ. Because the

Potter's House is Pentecostal, the exercise of "spiritual gifts" play a major role among Potter's House fellowship. Speaking in tongues and gifts of healing are common place in their worship services. (Tongues are exercised in prayer and praise as well as prophecy in a congregational setting.) The emphasis on "gift"

ministries stems from the fact that Mitchell was influenced at an early age by such men as William Branham (who denied the Trinity and was very influential in the early stages of the "Latter-Rain" preacher who emphasized a five-fold ministry in the church. Although Mitchell rejected the excesses of Branham and Allen, he did, however, hold on to some of the concepts which arose out of what became known as authentic "gift" ministries.

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The thrust of The Potter's House has been primarily to focus on street evangelism. Consequently, many of those attending The Potter's House are new converts between the ages of 18 and 35. Because there are relatively few older "saints" in the body, there tends to be an imbalance where spiritual leadership is

concerned. (We are told, though, that there seems to be a trend towards establishing an older, mature congregation in the church which will help correct this imbalance.)

The Potter's House is "governed" by the Pastor along with an group of elders (referred to as the Church council). As each church is established, the pastor involved in setting up a new church is responsible for the leadership in that church. (This responsibility includes monitoring the financial, doctrinal, and

moral accountability of the church in question.) The Potter's House is goverened overall by the Bylaws established by Wayman Mitchell and others at the initial incorporation of the church.

The Potter's House is a very active church with programs throughout the week. Some church activities include men's leadership classes, street evangelism, outreach to the Spanish community, music ministries, and other outreaches of

the church. We have been told that church involvement is a necessary deterrent designed to keep young converts from their former "immoral and ungodly" activities before conversion.

The Potter's House appears to be reaching out by and large to many of the minority groups as well as to street people searching for meaning in life and is extremely evangelistic which accounts for the rapid growth of its churches.

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1) its structural authority and accountability;

Though the Potter's House has made some effort in setting up a structure of authority, those chosen to be on the "church council" with the pastor are relatively young men who have little or no biblical training and who are very young in the

Lord. Church boards should consist of men who have walked with God for some time having developed spiritual maturity and discernment over the years. Without the governmental element of older godly men and women, a church can suffer very weak spiritual counsel. Biblical guidelines for eldership in the church can be found in 1 Timothy 3, and Titus 1 and 2.

2) its aberrant view of tongues and healing;

The Potter's House churches believe in and practice the "gifts of the Spirit" in a congregational setting.*

However, their exercise of certain gifts do not follow the biblical pattern as set forth in I Corinthians 12 and 14. In a typical Potter's House worship service, tongues are exercised in unison by the entire congregation generally with no

interpretation following. The Scriptures teach, on the other hand, that biblical tongues in a congregational setting must be followed by two or three interpreting for the sake of the edification of the body of Christ and as a sign for the

unbeliever (1 Cor. 14:22-33). As with the Assemblies of God, the Potter's House teaches that tongues is the "initial evidence" of the "baptism of the Holy Spirit."

The Potter's House has an aberrant view of healing as well. A "come get your miracle" mentality exists which creates an expectancy level which, when not met, is devastating to the young Christian who expected God to meet his needs and is let down hard.**


Though members are not required to attend the various activities of the church, there is an expectancy and general urgency about participating. These kind of expectations can give a person a mental burden of having to "be there" or one misses out on what God is doing. It can also cause early "burn-out" for some

who just can not keep up with the ever-continuing activities of the church.

4) its steady hyperactive atmosphere

Which could result in potential "burnout for some members.

5) Its lack of a strong healthy doctrinal statement;

Though we are told that classes are taught on Sunday mornings pertaining to "sound doctrine," there is of yet no outline or positional paper of the Potter's House particular theological beliefs. While it is true that a doctrinal statement is not always as revealing as it looks, it does indicate that the

particular church in question adheres to a formal set of doctrines and removes most doubt as to whether they are "orthodox" concerning essential biblical teaching.

6) negative reports from ex-members and others alleging

mind control and conditioning over its members by the

leadership of local churches.

Since our preliminary report of March 3, 1988, new developments have occurred which should be included in this report. In September of this year, the "Geraldo Television Show" did a segment which included an expose' of the Potter's House

in which "exit-counselor" Rick Ross alleged that the Potter's House was cultic and dangerous. Others, many ex-members, allege that the leadership exercises strong control over its members (a form of the shepherding doctrine); that leaving the church would result in the judgment of God; that members are ostracized from

their families; that tithing is essential to be in proper or right relationship with God and strongly enforced by the leadership; that women attending the Potter's House

are subjugated; and that ex-members are shunned or hated and considered lost until they come back to the Potter's House. While many of these allegations came from ex-members in the Prescott area, some have come from other parts of the

country which indicates that there may be some truth to the allegations at least with some Potter's Houses.

For an overview of the history and development of the Potter's House, the reader is invited to read An Open Door by Ron Simpkins (Prescott, Arizona: Potter's Press, 1985).

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Cultic Behavior;

That said, there are persistent reports from former members (including former pastors)regarding spiritual abuse and sociologically cultic behavior.

A testimony regarding this movement was included in Ronald Enroth's book, Churches That Abuse Off-site Link.

Watchman Fellowship, in its Index of Cults and Religions, writes:

"Potter’s House, Wayman Mitchell, Prescott, AZ: Originally called Victory Chapel,churches affiliated with Mitchell go under the names Praise Chapel, The Door, Grace Chapel, The Christian Fellowship, La Capilla de la Victory, La Casa Del

Alfarero, and La Puerta. Begun in 1970, Mitchell has over 1,000 churches in 73 countries including Mexico, South America, Australia, Europe, and the Philippines. Numerous former members have alleged mind control and authoritarian/abusive

leadership, and the group was the focus of a CBS News 48 Hours investigative report. Mitchell’s churches are not affiliated with the Potter’s House in Dallas, TX, pastored by T. D. Jakes. Also, The Door is not affiliated with the religious satire magazine by the same name."

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In December, 2001, Charisma News reported:

A second major exodus has taken place from a controversial network of churches criticized for authoritarian leadership. Up to 160 of the Potter's House movement's 800-odd congregations are said to have left the group recently. Officially called Christian Fellowship Ministries (CFM), the Potter's House network was started in 1983 by Wayman Mitchell. A Prescott, Ariz., pastor, Mitchell broke away from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel to launch his own movement, placing a strong emphasis on evangelism. Most of the group's churches are to be found in the Southwest, where they also go under the names The Door and Victory Chapel.

Some of the pastors who broke ranks recently are apparently upset by the direction CFM appears to be headed. There are also claims that Mitchell - whose movement has long been dogged by criticism that it is controlling, intimidating and manipulative - routinely uses foul language and derogatory remarks in the pulpit.

Mitchell declined to comment to "Charisma" magazine, but Harold Warner, a longtime CFM associate who pastors a church in Tucson, Ariz., said that Mitchell was not the sort of man

many of his critics have portrayed him to be. "He is a good, strong leader," he said. "We are given great freedom to pursue our ministry, and it isn't this horribly oppressive atmosphere."

The Potter's House was hit by large-scale defections 10 years ago. When Colorado pastor Ron Jones, who had worked with Mitchell since the early 1970s, severed his ties in 1990,

around 100 pastors followed him.

Larry Neville, a pastor who worked with Mitchell for 13 years until 1991, said that because CFM leaders were encouraged to aggressively plant churches, the departure of a few pastors

who disagree with Mitchell could lead to a large number of churches leaving the movement.

The exodus was more an issue of churches' loyalty to their founding pastor than one of disagreement with Mitchell, he said. It was about "a personal relationship with someone they

love." Mitchell said that around 100 of the 160 churches reported to have left CFM recently did so because of their loyalty to one pastor.

Bryan Hupperts, who was part of Potter's House for several years and was at one stage being groomed to become a CFM pastor, said that many pastors who left the movement did so because of unhealthy control and were later reluctant to talk about their experiences.

"Some of them have family in the Potter's House," he said. "They'll end up getting targeted. They can be pretty vicious." One former leader said there were families divided by departures from the movement who had not spoken for years, and "churches that have been deliberately split, children who don't talk to their parents."

Neville said there had been a move of God in CFM in the past, but over time the group moved into isolationism. "They're not sinning, but they're not moving on." Warner said that those pastors who left CFM recently were "people who have gone in a different direction."

Quoted from source Charisma News Update Off-site Link Dec. 4, 2001