I am currently not a member of TFI or any other Christian organization, but I have been involved in many Christian ministries in the past. My current connection to TFI is that I am an Activated ministries subscriber and have friends in TFI. The ministries I have been involved with in the past have been very similar to TFI, with the exception of a couple of theological doctrines. TFI seems to have taken on a structure very similar to the ministry models that I was previously involved in. Because of my past Christian service in these ministries I think I am qualified to write about the TFI reboot and where the organization is now. I also believe I can provide: advice, encouragement, pragmatic instructions and information that could help current members of TFI or people interested in joining the group. I have studied TFI and its history extensively and have read a large volume of the groups Mo letters (TFI’s: instructions, doctrinal statements and prophetic information) in great detail.
In the past TFI have had a more solid and structured leadership extending down from Karen Zerby and Steven Kelly, however in the last five years this leadership structure has become much looser. TFI’s previous leadership and hierarchical structure has been abandoned and the organization now has much for freedom for its members. The various membership titles have also been abandoned. In the past TFI has had various member types which included: GM’s (General members), FD’s (Full time disciples) and so forth. The restructuring of TFI has been the result of the reboot.
In the below video, TFI co-director, Steven Kelly, discusses the reboot of TFI.
With the nullification of the previous leadership model, members have a lot more room to do as they wish and even start up their own ministries. Michael Basham (a former FD TFI member) has started his own online televangelism ministry which consists of video media and blogging. Michael also uses TFI resources for his ministry. Michael has stated that in the past he would not be allowed to make the videos he has made online, as there was a very strict set of rules to follow under the leaders appointed to oversee his conduct. Michael Basham’s present ministry seems to be the fruit of the recent changes to TFI’s structure.
TFI’s present setup (after the reboot) is much like the ministries of Ray Comfort and Benny Hinn. In the past I have been involved with ministries that were linked to both: Ray Comfort and Benny Hinn. Although many of Comfort and Hinn’s doctrines are quite different than TFI’s; the present setup of TFI and these ministries are very similar.
Ray Comfort trains people to preach and share the gospel on the streets to non-believers; he also provides a number of resources to his followers which include: gospel tracts, booklets, training books (teaching people how to share the gospel on the street), training videos (instructing people how to preach the gospel on the street) and so forth. Comfort’s ministry is evangelism focused and his followers receive resources from him that equip and train them to share the gospel in public, many of these followers also attend his conferences to get further encouragement and training. Most of Comfort’s followers are definitely eager missionaries and evangelists who do preach on the streets and get results. I’ve seen a group of Comfort’s followers reach the lost youth who were walking the streets at night getting into all kinds of trouble. Comfort’s followers were able to reach these youth in an effective and entertaining way that got them interested in Jesus. I had an opportunity to work with this group in the past and I definitely saw lives touched. Ray Comfort’s ministry is not a traditional church or anything like that, it’s basically a movement that equips disciples to go out and evangelize in the streets. TFI is currently setup in a similar way to Comfort’s ministry, as TFI can provide its followers/members with: gospel tracts, DVD’s, CD’s, booklets, discipleship training courses (12 foundation stones booklet), Mo letters (prophetic and Christian theological teachings), end of the world/apocalypse documents and Activated magazines (TFI’s official Christian magazine). Once the member has these resources available to him/her, then the individual is equipped to have his own ministry and share the gospel in the community. With the current setup any member of TFI could setup his own independent ministry under the TFI umbrella. The individual could then send a regular tithe offering to Karen Zerby and TFI leadership, which would give him spiritual authority to act as an ambassador for TFI. As long as a person is respectful to leadership and tithes to them, he is acting under their authority and is under the spiritual covering of that leadership. Tithing also allows you to receive the same spiritual manifestation (or anointing) that has been with that ministry.
Benny Hinn’s ministry is also quiet similar to TFI although many of their doctrines may not be the same. There are many followers of Benny Hinn preaching and evangelizing on the streets today, and many of these believers do not attend any type of church building. One man I used to preach and witness with did not feel accepted by the mainstream churches, so he started up a church on a street corner. The church consisted of a piano and microphone in front of a supermarket in a busy bar and disco area of the city; my friend, myself and others would stay on that street corner until midnight sharing the gospel and singing songs to the Lord. Thousands heard the gospel and many gave their hearts to Jesus on that street corner. Many of the people in that ministry regularly watched the Benny Hinn TV show, and we also attended Benny Hinn conferences when he was in town. Many of us were equipped and encouraged by the ministry of Benny Hinn to go out and share the gospel to the lost. I know Benny Hinn gets a lot of hate and many people do not like him, I even did not like Benny Hinn at one stage. But as I watched his TV show and saw the fruit of those who followed him, I could not deny what I saw. I have also been in some bad situations in my life and felt like giving up on Jesus, but the Benny Hinn TV show really kept me in the faith. TFI has had a similar televangelist ministry to Benny Hinn, as David Brandt Berg (TFI’s founder and leader) was a televangelist on Fred Jordan’s Christian TV show in the past. TFI also produces televangelism products in the form of: DVD’s, online videos and multimedia, music and so forth. Michael Basham (founder of the Warriors Without Borders blog) has a variety of TFI televangelism videos on his youtube video channel. If one had access to TFI resources (videos, books, magazines, tracts etc) then one could easily start up a ministry under the TFI umbrella if he tithed up to the leadership and remained faithful and respectful to TFI leadership (Karen Zerby and Steven Kelly). Followers of TFI could function in a similar fashion to the street evangelists who followed the televangelism ministry of either Ray Comfort or Benny Hinn. In some respects this would be going back to the beginning of where TFI really started, because TFI’s leader and founder was originally a televangelist.
At present I consider myself an online supporter and advocate of TFI as I have friends in the group and respect what they have done in the past. Who knows what the Lord could do in the future, as I definitely believe God has called me to write articles on this blog. If God opened up more doors for me to support TFI and serve under their ministry leadership, then I would definitely pray about it, because the group definitely has a rich history of saving souls. At the moment I’m just focusing on writing articles and helping with this website, but I think this article would give current TFI members and people thinking about joining TFI some things to think about.
Below is a photograph of TFI members evangelizing on the streets of Germany using TFI resources (Gospel tracts, illustrated and written Gospel messages etc). The below photo was taken from the official TFI website (www.thefamilyinternational.org)
If you want to start up your own independent ministry within TFI, all you need are evangelism resources and structured training manuals for new disciples. Once a person receives Jesus Christ as their Savior and indicates they wish to follow the teachings of Jesus, you could provide them with a training manual to read at home which instructs them on the fundamental doctrines of the faith, and which instructs them how to be a disciple of Jesus. Once these people are trained up they could then join your ministry as a disciple and evangelize with you.
In conclusion I would like to tell current TFI members and people considering joining TFI, that you do not need to wait on people to tell you what to do, and you don’t need an organization to give you money to finance your ministry goals. The current TFI reboot is an opportunity for you to follow your own dreams and goals; you can start up your own personal ministry under the TFI umbrella without being told what to do. Karen Zerby and Steven Kelly have made it very clear that they are giving their members more freedom to do as they wish. TFI’s next leaders underneath Karen Zerby and Steven Kelly are those who make the initiative to labour towards the vision God has given them. If your respectful to Karen Zerby/Steven Kelly and tithe up to them (10% of your personal income and 10% of your ministries income), then you are the leader of your own ministry within TFI. Your ministry then becomes an independent unit under your leadership within TFI. If you have read the Bible, Mo letters and TFI doctrinal statements and teachings, you do not need a babysitter to watch over your every move and tell you what to do. However if you start up your own ministry and it blossoms, then you do have a right to be a leader over that ministry as it’s the vision God has given you and God has grown it. Leadership is important as it gives people a clear sense of direction and focus.