What George Geftakys Believes about His Ministry

Steve Irons

What is George’s rationale for doing what he does? What makes him think he can get away with this? What are the underlying principles from which he operates? You can never figure out all the reasons why a man does what he does. It is not my intention in this article to delve into George’s personality, which subject can become a book in itself. I simply want to consider the belief system that gives impetus to George and Betty’s abusive practices.

Apostolic Authority
The Way of the Cross
Leaving the Assembly
Special Presence of God

Apostolic Authority

From the very beginning of "the Work," George made it clear to us that he was "the Lord's Servant" and as such would make the final decisions. Others could offer suggestions, but in the final analysis he alone would tell the Workers where to go and what to do. Not even the elders in the local Assembly were to make decisions in the sphere of "the work."

In the work, the Lord's servant has to make the decisions in the work. As long as it does not dishonor the Lord, that decision will be joyfully abided by. If you don't agree, you conclude that your own evaluation of the issue is not that profound or you would be in that place of leadership. It comes down to submission. You must believe it is God's work and it will be done God's way, so you don't have to be that concerned. If you have difficulty getting the voice of the Lord, then you of all people must be quiet.[1]

When a decision is made, loyalty means that you abide with [the decision] even though it doesn't please you. Do not bad mouth your brethren or listen to criticism about your brother. You don't criticize the Lord's servant in the work. Humility is the attitude of loyalty. If you say, "I agree with that," but you don't like it, you're saying you're not humble.[2]

These and other such statements made over a period of years in Workers' meetings were compiled into what is known today as the "Workers' Characteristics." Every prospective worker is required to adhere to them before being accepted into the "Workers' meeting."

AVAILABLE  The worker does not decide for himself what to do in the work, but is available for anything, even if it means to do and be nothing. It makes no difference to him where he is ser­ving the Lord.

LOYAL The work is not operated on the basis of democracy (majority rules). We have a right to demand loyalty in the work.

SUBJECT  Be in subjection even if you think the brother is wrong.

HUMBLE  To be humble is to be a servant. If I believe that God has set His servant in that place in responsibility to the work, we should be subject and loyal to the work and the Lord's servant.

SELFLESS  Part of loyalty is that I'm not trying to carve out something for myself. There is nothing in it for myself.[3]

But what is it that George believes about himself that authorizes his use of the title “the Lord’s Servant”?

George likens himself to the Apostle Paul. At the very first Workers' meetings, George gave the Workers a series called "Principles of the Work as seen in the Apostle Paul." Like Paul, George believes he has received "apostolic authority" to establish, not "the church", but "assemblies" (local expressions of the church).

We believe that each local Assembly is constituted by apostolic authority. We do not believe in aposto­lic succession, but we do believe in apostolic minis­try for this day and that the church is constituted with apostolic authority... Not only was the church founded on apostolic authority, but that includes every local Assembly, as well. The Lord still means to see more assemblies raised up, which requires that certain brethren be sent out in the spirit of apostolic ministry to help establish new assemblies. Apostle means "sent one," so itinerant ministry is apostolic in nature.[4]

George calls such men "ministers of universal appointment"[5] because "they do not belong to any one local Assembly," but as in the "apostolic tradi­tion, travel around from assem­bly to as­sem­bly." But more significantly, such men have a "ministry of universal jurisdiction" (or "administration") because they express Christ's headship in all local assemblies. Webster's defines "jurisdiction" to mean "the authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate." In effect, George has sovereign power over all gatherings of God's people.

Christ's resurrection and headship are demonstrated today through the church, where universal unity and administration is seen. We see a personal will controlling the local assemblies of God's people. How can this headship be demon­strated without a visible ruler? By the life of the church. Specifically, this headship is seen in three ways. First...through the minis­try, both local and itinerant [apostolic authority]. Second...through the government of the local Assembly [elders]. Third...through the bond of love.[6]

"The life of the church" is reduced to the headship of Christ embodied in apostles, elders and God's people submitting to their authority ("the bond of love").

We can do this [keep the unity of the Spirit] only as we see that, in the ministry, we are under the control of one personal will... Remember that the unity cannot be main­tained by force, but only by brotherly love and forbearance in a spirit of com­passion and patience.[7]

George is attempting to protect himself from the accusation that he compels subordination ("unity cannot be maintained by force"); nevertheless, he expects God's people to submit to his authority. God's people are to believe that his decisions are binding because God endorses them.

Another aspect of apostolic authority is binding and loosing. The Lord told His disciples, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." God ratifies the proceedings and decisions of the local Assembly. Dare we to believe it? If we do, we will know the guiding hand of God in all of our dealings.[8]

George further claims that those who refuse or resist his apostolic authority are "severed" from Christ. Even stronger, anyone who criticizes him evidences a disruption of his union with Christ. In other words, he is an apostate.

When we are in union with the Head, we receive His appoint­ments. But when this union is disrupted, we begin to criti­cize the Lord's ap­pointments. We lose the ministry of universal jurisdic­tion...

When the Head sends those clothed with His author­ity, and they are refused, then all attempts to preserve unity in the church will miserably fail. To­day we see that there is a grow­ing feeling of indepen­dence from the Head on the part of the church: "He reigns, but He does not govern us."[9]

This then is I believe the chief reason why George has no compunction about making demands upon people’s time, energy, undivided loyalty, and submission.

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The Way of the Cross

Betty, George's wife, put it well when she said that God is in the business of dealing with us in "painful" ways, pushing us here, squeezing us there, and plaguing us so that we can all experience God's grace. And George and Betty see themselves as God's instruments in this process of "pushing", "squeezing", "plaguing" so that there can be "great people for God." On one occasion, she made these remarks to the Workers.

When the Lord really speaks in that profound way to you, most of the time you don't have too much to say and then the Lord begins to really work and everything goes to pieces. Everybody is upset with you and your upset with yourself. And the Lord starts to sort it out. He starts to touch sore spots here and there that you haven't had touched for a while. I find that almost everybody who calls from the Midwest or people who say they just have to see me, the majority of what is happening is that the Lord is doing a real changing on a real profound level.

When he starts moving in your home then he's also moving in your life and most all of us are finding that the Lord's expecting we're going to higher ground. And we would have gone on our own if we would have known. But we didn't know and so He just pushes us here and squeezes us there and plagues us here and so on and all of a sudden we see and we move to that higher ground. Because you can't have the kind of preaching we've had all fall and winter on Sunday afternoons and the rest of the times as well, but especially that, without there being changes. There's only one place in the world there's changes and that's real profound true change and that's in the Christian, because the Lord has moved. And so we have hope that we can change. And it should be the kind of thing that we expect to change. Not that we see that we ought to, but "I'm stuck." We aren't stuck. Not when you have the Lord. We aren't stuck at all. We are only stuck if we don't avail ourselves of His work. And His moving always is glorious. It's painful, but glorious.[10]

Betty would tell the head stewards of the brothers' or sisters' houses "to break up the hard ground" of unentreatability, and "to weed out" whatever entangles and distracts, and "to cultivate" the willing heart. So if Betty or a head steward corrects, exhorts, disciplines, or administers consequences, they are God's instrument to prepare you for true greatness.

George communicates the same message couched in the language of Scripture, which gives weight and credence to the idea that George and Betty are there for your perfection. Again and again George reiterated to the Workers, “God brings you into the work to bring you to perfection -- a standing with him.[11]

In his booklet, The Dominion, George explains that God has a plan "now being formulated in the local assemblies. These gatherings of the Lord's people are being prepared to one day reign with Christ over this universe."[12] In order to be "great people with God", to "move to higher ground," God's people must "travail" with issues of submission to God's government, embodied in George.

Direction from the supreme command is not open to debate. The first step to all victory is the unity of the throne.[13]

When believers demonstrate a sense of the supreme plan, this incites the hostility of the age... Let this reality reorder priorities in your life, and act like a citizen of a heavenly city, then hostility begins to surface.[14]

This is demonstrated in a most practical way through relationships in the house of God, under the law of Christ, which is love... To be under grace is to be under "the law of Christ." How we should thank the Lord for brothers and sisters who exhort and provoke us. By providing them, God demonstrates how much He cares for us.[15]

So now we acknowledge God's dominion, that He has gathered us together as one in Christ by the work of His cross.[16]

The "work of His cross" means mostly "the way of self-denial..."[17] or "dying to self". It is through this means that God builds up an Assembly. As individuals set aside their wishes and opinions and come under George and Betty’s direction God is able to get what he wants. George told the Workers once,

Let's say, I went up to Calgary, Canada. What is the first message that needs to be presented to the people? The message of the cross. It will either straighten them out or... Will they go on with the Lord? Right there will determine whether they want more ministry. You've got to get into fellowship with the Lord's people, otherwise shows up your carnality. The second message is God's government. God wants it expressed. Headship is seen in the home and the Assembly --subjection to His chain of command. The third message is Assembly truth.[18]

George’s priorities are obvious.

Paul and Debbie were sent out from the Assemblies to Iceland without any financial support because as George says, "In the work we don't guarantee anything." Paul and Debbie, of course, had financial difficulties and so went into debt. George brought them to Fullerton to deal with this "weakness" of getting into debt. They were in Fullerton for at least two years and just before George was about to send them back to St. Louis (their former home before being "sent out into the work") George asked Paul and Debbie to express to the Workers what they had learned while in Fullerton. These are Paul's own words.

What was said when we started out this morning about repentance really encouraged my heart, because the Lord has done a restoring work in my life and I'm glad the Lord brought us back here instead of back in St. Louis. I really see the Lord's hand in it.

There is one verse that you read this morning, brother, in Proverbs 28, verse 13. It says, "He who conceals his transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." I just want to re-emphasize that verse. It's very cut and dry and clear and practical that he who conceals his transgression does not walk in openness but walks in darkness, or whatever his transgression is, he just flat will not prosper. But he who confesses them and forsakes them, he's going to find compassion. And, not only that, there is another verse that we claimed when we first went to Iceland was that one in Psalm 40 where "He inclined unto us and heard our cry, drew us out of the pit, and set us on a solid rock and establishes our going." And I think the Lord has really done that in this place.

And I'm really grateful for the time we've been able to spend here... I thank David and Judy especially for the time they spent with us and the effort they put out. I'm really grateful to Betty (and you brother) for having patience with us. I am glad that the Lord kept us here as long as he did. And I don't think there was a minute too long. I want to say this, brother, because I think it needs to be said. There is hope even though there is a real... even though there might come a real failure in a person's life. There is still hope. Because the Lord is merciful. And if we simply turn to Him, like you said, then the veil is taken away and the Lord just flows in with grace and enablement.

And the thing that I've found is that I made a determination here a couple of years ago in a time of great discouragement, I said to myself, "I'm not going to leave the work on my own volition." You know, no matter what my mind tells me about how unworthy and "Woe is me!" sort of thing, I'm not going anywhere unless I'm thrown out. And that was the thing that it took. Just to stay in there and allow the Lord to do the restoring until these weaknesses were brought to the forefront so that the Lord could show us how to deal with them.

And I think now the Lord has gotten real subordination to the leading brethren. To be able to simply obey and to do what one is told. There is a great deal of joy in that.

A very practical lesson we've learned about the work is that it's work. And to be able to do practical work instead of having some "pretency" notion about how, you know... vision of grandeur or whatever it might be... just to be able and willing to do work and to be a worker is... has been a real release and joy in our lives. And an open door for the Lord's grace in our lives. And so when we go back I want to... I want to just be a helper. I want to be a helper. Its a real place of joy to be a part of the cure instead of a part of the problem. It's very simple, but it's I'll tell you a real release.[19]

Paul has learned “to do what one is told.” Furthermore, he has lost all desire to serve the Lord as a missionary. That calling ended in miserable failure; his new calling is to be George's "helper." And, of course, George takes advantage of Paul's help by having Paul build bay windows with built-in cabinets in his living room.

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Leaving the Assembly

George teaches that if someone were "excommunicated" and did not "make things right" with the Assembly, that person would not inherit the kingdom of God. One individual, whom I will call “Bob”, fell into serious sin and publicly confessed his sin by writing a letter of repentance to the Assembly. However, because “Bob” received counsel from a local evangelical church not to return to the Assembly, George kept his excommunication in force on the grounds that he had to come back to the Assembly. I quote from Jim Hayman who wrote a summary of a meeting George had with “Bob”.

George initiated discussion regarding the issue of fellowship. He began by reading II Cor. 7:9-12, pausing to make comments on each verse. The clear warning was that unless there was true repentance this situation would reoccur. It was pointed out to him that there were corporate ramifications to his behavior and that the testimony has been impacted. It was repeatedly stressed that there must be a clear demonstration of the clearing of this issue or there would always be cause for suspicion.

The issue of the counsel that he had received to leave his place of fellowship was addressed. The lack of scriptural authority for this position was brought out. The following scriptures were read to support the position that repentance and clearing is always seen in light of fellowship: I Cor. 5:11-12, 6:9-11, I Tim. 5:21, II Cor. 2:6-11.

What is at stake is the inheritance and that unless an excommunicated individual got things right and was received back into fellowship he would not inherit. It was pointed out that we have seen this scriptural pattern of recovery work and that we were most willing to work with ”Bob” to see it work for him.

A further warning was given that if he tried to circumvent this way of repentance that the problem would become worse not better. Part of the reason for “Bob's” failure was pride and vanity. In his fall God had mercifully broken the facade he was maintaining, but if he went somewhere else what had been broken would be remade with disastrous consequences. The consequences could even manifest themselves in his children.[20]

“Bob” never came back, but had he come back he would have sat in the back of the meetings. George does not consider individuals like “Bob” who repent to be "in fellowship", nor does he allow them to take part in the Lord's Supper. This might go on for months (even years) until they demonstrate to George's satisfaction that they had truly repented. One individual who did come back to the group became so discouraged (because no one went out to him) that he left the group again. George, convinced of his lack of repentance, re-invoked his excommunication, saying, "He must be willing to come back into fellowship."

In order to keep people from leaving the Assembly after we left, George preached that to leave the Assembly was to leave the light and to walk out into the darkness. This was illustrated by the shining circle made by a flashlight. The inner circle of light was the Assembly. To leave was to walk outside the perimeter of fellowship of the Assembly (the light) and to walk right into darkness. It was preached that when people come into fellowship they make a life commitment to Christ ("a marriage vow to Christ"). Therefore, to leave was "to divorce Christ."

If you did leave the group, you were looked upon as having some kind of problem and were labeled as “unsubject” or “proud”. A committed young couple in the Assembly asked the leadership for a letter of commendation to serve in another church. The brothers told them that no such letter could be written for the following reasons.

There is no specific statement in the Word of God where a believer could go from one local church to another for the simple reason of growth and service. There are opportunities in the Assembly to grow and serve, therefore, there is no reason to go elsewhere.

Though it is true that letters of commendation were given in the early days of the Assembly, these were given only to people who were not in fellowship for very long (special cases).

The brethren in Fullerton did not know the brethren in the other church, therefore, the burden of responsibility was on the other church to contact the brethren in Fullerton about the couple.

The reason why the husband wanted to leave was because he didn’t like the direction given him regarding the training of his children.

The husband wanted to be a "star" in the new church, seeking to build a satisfying ministry for himself.

The husband was being "secretive" and obviously not "walking in the light" since he did not discuss the change with them before asking for a letter of commendation.

There is just no adequate reason for leaving the Assembly. When the couple left anyway, they were predictably labeled as “doing their own thing”.

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Special Presence of God

George teaches that the assemblies have the distinction of possessing the special presence of God, because they understand and are faithful to what God wants.

By gathering according to God's purpose, we come into His presence and have access to a heavenly tabernacle in heavenly places... As we are faithful to what God has ordered in His Word, God blesses and furthers it.[21]

If a church is not faithful to the "Scriptural pattern for New Testament gatherings," it is not a "testimony to Jesus". Other churches who do not meet according the Assembly "pattern" are not "pure, golden lamp stands." They do not share in "God's eter­nal purpose in Christ Jesus."

If we fail to see ourselves as God sees His people, not just as redeemed individuals, but collectively, as a church in the wilderness, or if we fail to apprehend Christ as the center in the midst of God's dwelling, then we will forfeit all that God has planned for His people... As we gather according to His plan, God gets satisfaction in that which expresses His Son... Failure to respond by faith and obedience to His Word, which reveals His plan to bring us to that incomparable purpose in His Son, will cause forfeiture of the promised possession.[22]

George viewed an Assembly meeting as the focal point of everything that God was doing. Angels looked down upon these gatherings and witnessed God’s mysterious work. At one of the Workers' meeting, George said this about the Assembly meetings.

There is tremendous authority in a corporate gathering. We radiate a certain vibration. The enemy sees those in the form of lights. When the Lord was transfigured, he emanated light. Peter says "We saw regality, majesty, dominion." It was kingdom light, throne light that emanated. The enemy observes this. We are power stations and are either charging or discharging (drained of our energy). When we are radiating throne light, the Shekinah dwells. God can dwell in that authority. Shekinah means "covering of glory." It's a glory full of moral and spiritual power. [23]

Because meetings were so “glorious”, George regularly urged people to come to them: Sunday “all day for God”, Wednesday night Bible study, and Thursday night prayer for starters. Saturday morning tape ministry, Friday night outreaches and couples meetngs, Monday and Tuesday prayer towers, and monthly all nights of prayer. George expected Workers to attend an all-day meeting every other Saturday to discuss the work. In addition, George held 3 seminars a year which lasted for 3 to 4 days on a weekend with lectures (which only he gave) 3 times a day and prayer and meditation in between. The list goes on and on with a 5-6 week summer school, a yearly tent campaign, and gospel marches!

If a meeting was sparse in attendance, George would start a campaign to get people to come out. "Tell them, 'We missed you,' and what a great time we had." Supporting the ministry by attending the meetings was of higher priority than the family. We went to George to ask for help about how to get more time with our children. George had Betty, his wife, come in and join the discussion, and her solution was this.

You spend time together as a family every time you drive to and from meetings. Just make sure that time is quality time‑‑discuss the ministry together. And also take the children with you when you do visitation. That is all the time you need together as a family. This idea of 'family time' that the world has, is all wrong. It leads to putting your family before the things of the Lord. What the Lord wants is getting your family involved in the things you are doing for the Lord.

In the early years, before George himself had grandchildren, the mothers were commanded to bring their newborn infants to worship when they were a week old. George would say to the father, "Now don't you let this baby keep your wife from the meeting. This baby is not going to be an excuse for her to stay home." In several cases, Workers have been expecting the delivery of a child during the week of the Workers' Seminar in Colorado; the husbands have been required to attend the seminar anyway, leaving the wife at home to deliver the baby without him.

People were expected to be at the meetings enthusiastic, rejoicing, and "expecting something from the Lord." If you looked glum, you would be asked, "Are you rejoicing, brother?"


Footnotes

  1. Notes from Workers' meeting, April 1, 1978
  2. Notes from Workers' meeting, February 7, 1976
  3. Workers Characteristics
  4. Article 2, "The Itinerant Ministry", The Torch and Testimony, Vol.16, No.3, May-June 1989
  5. Article 1, "Getting Back -- Perils -- and Onward", The Torch and Testimony, Vol.18, No.4, July-August 1991
  6. Article 1, "Getting Back ‑‑ Perils ‑‑ and Onward"
  7. Article 1, "Getting Back -- Perils -- and Onward"
  8. Article 2, "The Itinerant Ministry"
  9. Article 1, "Getting Back -- Perils -- and Onward"
  10. Tape transcription of Workers' meeting, Dec. 27, 1986
  11. Notes from Workers' Seminar, Aug.15-20, 1976
  12. p. 7, Geftakys, The Dominion
  13. p. 11, Geftakys, The Dominion
  14. p. 12, Geftakys, The Dominion
  15. p.12-13, Geftakys, The Dominion
  16. p. 14, Geftakys, The Dominion
  17. p. 10, Geftakys, The Dominion
  18. Notes of Workers' meeting, July 8, 1972
  19. Tape transcription of Workers' meeting, Dec. 27, 1986
  20. Jim Hayman's notes, Dec. 28, 1987
  21. Article 3, "The Pilgrim Church", The Torch and Testimony, Vol.17, No.4, July-August 1990
  22. Article 1, "The Pilgrim Church", The Torch and Testimony, Vol.17, No.2, March-April 1990
  23. Notes from Workers' meeting, June 23, 1973

Read more about what George Geftakys believes about his ministry:

George Geftakys' Heavenly Vision
Student Notes on the "Heavenly Vision / This Ministry" Chart
Evaluation of Statments from Torch and Testimony Publications


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