JOSHUA CHURCH ONLINE REVIEWS

A collection of online reviews gathered from Google, Yelp, and other social media sites

Lead pastor Steve Morgan (center with mic) at Joshua Church in Austin, TX

ONLINE REVIEWS FOR JOSHUA CHURCH IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

BACKGROUND

Network churches heavily control their public image, going to great lengths to control information about their methods and practices. Leaders encourage church members to flood sites like Google Reviews with positive reviews for Network Churches (and, in some cases, for churches other than the one the reviewer attends). This practice of having members leave positive reviews on social media has had the effect of burying legitimate public criticism.

For an in-depth analysis and specific examples of how Network churches encourage leaders and members to flood review sites with positive reviews, read this article on NotOvercome.org.

WHY DO THESE REVIEWS MATTER?

These reviews matter because they corroborate the manipulative, abusive, and harmful practices which are documented throughout this site. We have chosen to surface these reviews because they give further voice to victims and provide additional reassurance to anyone who has experienced abuse within these high control groups that they are not alone.

NOTE: We are not surfacing all negative reviews which have been posted to crowdsourced review sites. Rather, we have selected entries which bear witness to a pattern of the behaviors outlined in our article "8 Signs of a Dysfunctional Church".

WHO WAS THE LEAD PASTOR OF JOSHUA CHURCH WHEN THESE REVIEWS WERE WRITTEN?

  • Steve Morgan: lead pastor from 2017 - present

 


 

THIS CHURCH USES "DIVERSITY" TO BRING PEOPLE IN

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, 2018

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

I contacted Joshua Church asking them what their views were on gays and gay marriage. I am not looking for a hate the sin, love the sinner church and made that clear.

It took them a long time to respond back but they said "it sounds like you have a specific kind of community in mind". "Hope you are able to find one you really love".

Actually, I am just looking for one that will treat me as an equal. This church uses "diversity" to bring people in. What a bunch of hypocrites! I have contacted other churches that are against gay marriage and they welcomed me with open arms! I posted their response on their FB page and they removed it. Guess they don't want people to know the truth of how they believe regarding this topic.

 


MOST SUNDAYS I'D COME HOME CRYING

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, September 2021

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

My husband and I were a part of this church for 8 months. We were constantly wrestling back and forth with whether we should leave or not. Most Sundays I’d come home crying because I was so confused.

Here are the reasons we left:

Unhealthy group mentality, no leadership accountability, dismissive of any inquiries concerning church beliefs or methodologies (often not biblical, can be as simple as the way you pray or worship, or more intense, see “the 5 pillars of Joshua church”). Preys on young believers and people looking for community. Ostracizes those who aren’t “all in” or who fail to be present for every single small group and church activity.

Young men are particularly in danger of being roped in as “leaders” within the church, because women are only able to work with children or all women groups. Seminary degrees are actively discouraged and leadership, including small group leaders, will ask for signs of commitment like sharing all of your baggage and being “set free” from demon oppression.

Go to a Team Joshua Sunday night service and you’ll see some very odd behaviors, not only condoned, but encouraged. Google “leaving the network” and you’ll find resources to get out and tell your story.

 


THIS CHURCH AND ITS NETWORK HAVE SERIOUS ISSUES

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, November 2021

A NOTE ON THIS REVIEW:

Network Church staff began responding to online reviews in 2022, claiming they were false and that the reviewers were not real people who had visited their churches. In this example the original review was posted in 2021, but staff at Joshua Church subsequently responded that they had no record of the reviewer, insinuating that the review was fake. The reviewer's response indicates that Joshua Church's staff changed their response several times.

This type of response from Network leaders fit a well-documented pattern of denial, attack, and reversal of victim and offender, consistent with several stories submitted to LeavingTheNetowork.org and elsewhere.

REVIEW:

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

This church and its network have serious issues. Newcomers should research before attending. I did, and I noticed most reviews here are by head staff, volunteers, or their families.

I also found the “Leaving the Network” website super telling along with the leaving the network subreddit.
Beware. I feel for those trapped inside.

Response from the owner:

Hello, we have no record of anyone by this name ever attending Joshua Church. We kindly ask you to remove this review.

Response from Reviewer:

(Responding to the owner’s comments below, which continue to be edited to multiple versions based on what I say to counter their response…)

I am a real person and my review is not false or filled with language from anyone else but me. Stop trying to control honest feedback in order to rule your own narrative. Don’t counter my review but ignore the many, many, many other 5 Star reviews from Joshua Church staff and their family members. Those are the true fake reviews! I simply did objective research and offered my review rather than asking staff and family to create disingenuous reviews to make the church look good. Thank you for validating why people need to do their own research and (in my real opinion) STAY AWAY!

I truly feel for those who are a part of this destructive church and its Network.

 


I WAS HAVING CONSTANT PANIC ATTACKS DUE TO THEIR INACTION AND CALLOUSNESS

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, February 2022

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

Left this church in the fall of 2020 due to their poor handling of COVID. I was having constant panic attacks due to their inaction and callousness.

That callousness spread to any member asking questions and challenging leadership. There are some wonderful people here but the toxicity and cons of this place far outweigh the pros.

 


NOT A LOT OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Source: Joshua Church Yelp Review, April 2022

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

Not a big fan of Joshua church. Not a lot of accountability and the main focus is just in getting new members to plant churches. I feel that God is calling me to speak out about how people are treated here. Search leaving the network for more

 


PEOPLE HAVE TO CONSTANTLY PASS PURITY TESTS TO PROVE THEY ARE SAVED

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, May 2022

A NOTE ON THIS REVIEW:

Network Church staff began responding to online reviews in 2022, claiming they were false and that the reviewers were not real people who had visited their churches.

In this example the victim responded to the blanket denial by asserting she was a real person. Chris Miller, lead worship leader for The Network, responded to the reviewer's edit. He did not apologize for Joshua Church's treatment of her or address the allegations. Chris issued a non-apology which seemingly blamed the issue on the reviewer's expectations, saying he was "sorry that your experience at Joshua Church was not what you had hoped."

This type of response from Network leaders fit a well-documented pattern of denial, attack, and reversal of victim and offender, consistent with several stories submitted to LeavingTheNetowork.org and elsewhere.

REVIEW:

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

I would be careful about this church. I attended for about 6 months before I was subtly pushed out, an experience that almost ended severing my relationship with Jesus. The beginning was amazing. They are extremely welcoming to newcomers and this can make you feel great! It can help you find a path into a relationship with God, and I do not fault them for that. I also believe most people attending do truly love Jesus and want to live an authentically Christian life.

My problem comes with the kinds of purity tests that you don’t know you’re being put through. It feels like you’re always being tested: are you truly saved? Are you part of the elect? If you’re not crying every Sunday and every small group, you’re not being sanctified. If you have other friends or familial obligations that mean you have to miss a Sunday or a small group, you’re obstinate. In their small group leadership training materials (you can find them by googling Leaving the Network), they tell small group leaders to evaluate each new member and determine if are they a core person or someone who will never submit to being led. If they seem like they won’t submit, treat them in a way that will make them leave.

That is what happened to me. I don’t know why they decided I wasn’t worthy of being a core church member. I was ready to give my life away to the church. I suspect it was because I’m autistic and thus socially awkward and shy. I was told many times that God would transform me, make me “normal,” but that did not happen (and won’t happen, God made me autistic and he loves me the way I am). After the trial period, I was found wanting and the people I thought were my new friends in Christ stopped reaching out to me. They stopped inviting me to things and made clear in small group that I was being actively excluded. I was treated, as the training materials prescribed, in a way to make me leave. So I did. I guess they felt that I wasn’t part of the elect so my relationship to Christ and his body no longer mattered. Weird thing for a church to think, but that’s what they think.

I may be lucky that I never became a member. There are many stories of people experiencing much deeper abuse than just being pushed out. You can find their stories by googling “Leaving the Network.” But for anyone like me, considering joining this place that seems so welcoming and loving, just be aware that these people are not equipped to work with those who are different (autism, mental illness, etc). They have no formal training in theology or church leadership and are, in fact, discouraged from obtaining such training and knowledge outside of the church. They believe they can determine who God has selected to be saved and who he hasn’t. I have to disagree. I hope the church opens its eyes and sees that it’s way of treating people is abusive and actively harms the missionary ideal of Christianity. I’d love to talk to my former “friends” and leaders about this experience and how it harmed me. But I will not be going back to this church or any other church in the Network. Happily, I have found a better, loving church home (the Catholic Church, just so no one accuses me of becoming a “fake progressive Christian” as evidence that I was not ever going to fit into Joshua Church in the first place) that is premised on bringing people in, not on testing to see if they should be kicked out.

Response from the owner:

Hello, We have no record of anyone by this name ever attending Joshua Church. We have had many false reviews using the same wording and phrases as in this one. We kindly ask you to remove this review.

Response from Reviewer:

(Edit to respond to owner: I don’t really know what to do to prove I was here for 6 months. I was there in 2017-2018 and even began attempting Team Joshua Church or whatever the membership classes are called. I have emails about beginning to serve. So anyone who is reading, just know that the church’s responses to negative reviews saying people are bots, aren’t real, never attended, etc. are most likely lies.)

Response from the owner:

Hi <name redacted for privacy>, My name is Chris Miller and I take care of all of the Website related items at Joshua Church. I am really sorry! One of our small group leaders reached out to me earlier this evening and told me how you used to attend his small group. Really sorry that your experience at Joshua Church was not what you had hoped. I hope you are able to find a Church that you love.

 


UNTIL I SEE AN "OFFICIAL CHURCH RESPONSE" TO ALLEGATIONS I'M LEAVING A 1 STAR REVIEW

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, May 2022

Full text of review (view screenshot of full review):

Until I see an "Official Church Response" addressing the claims on the 'Leaving the Network' website that this place is a cult, I am going to have to leave my review at 1 star! Their lack of producing an "Official Church Response" is unfortunately hurting many, many people I know of in the local Austin community.

 


MULTIPLE 1 STAR REVIEWS LABELED BY JOSHUA CHURCH AS FALSE

Source: Joshua Church Google Review, May 2022

A NOTE ON THESE REVIEWS:

Network Church staff began responding to online reviews in 2022, claiming they were false and that the reviewers were not real people who had visited their churches. In this instance all reviews which had one star but which did not contain additional text were marked by Joshua Church as false with no further evidence.

REVIEW:

View more instances of this behavior (view screenshot of more reviews which received this response from the staff of Joshua Church):

Response from the owner:

This is not a real person. We kindly ask you to remove this review.

Reviewer Response:

Hello! Contrary to what the Joshua Church said, I am absolutely, 100% a real person. I was born, I exist, and I am me. Have a great day, Joshua Church!

BACK TO STORIES:

STORIES: Read the stories of those who have left and who have consented to share their experiences from their time in Steve Morgan's Network of Churches