Missions, Mysticism and Magic-A Closer Look at the Missionary Organization ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS

(UPDATE 20 September 2016- An article has been shared with us concerning this subject. You may read it by clicking HERE.)

The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim (the last days) some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars whose own consciences have been burned, as if with a red-hot branding iron.
1 Timothy 4:1,2

Moreover, understand this: in the acharit-hayamim (the last days) will come trying times. People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good, traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God, as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power.Stay away from these people! For some of them worm their way into homes and get control of weak-willed women who are heaped with sins and swayed by various impulses, who are always learning but never able to come to full knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

Over the course of the last 30 years, in my calling as a preacher, teacher, apologist and radio broadcaster, I have unfortunately been a witness to the growing and alarming trends of false doctrines that have permeated the Church. Few instances have been as sad and shocking as those that seem to focus on young people. Whether it been the Emergent Church, the Seeker-Driven or the Purpose Driven, the enemy’s mission is to kill steal and destroy, and he is concentrating his greatest weapons it seems on those who are young of year and of faith.

I was somewhat familiar with the ministry Adventures in Mission but it wasn’t until I read Missions, Mysticism and Magic by Claris Van Kuiken that I learned of the incredible dangerous scope of AIM’s efforts.

In this book Claris has layed out for us all a clear and concise portrait of what I would describe as the diabolical works of AIM to lead astray youth worldwide, and to do so under the guise of Christians missions, when in reality the organizations methods and motives are more consistent with that of a cult.

Claris skillfully and accurately exposes Adventures in Missions, which under careful Scriptural examination, is clearly steeped in Eastern Mysticism, New Age philosophy, Emergent philosophy, contemplative spirituality and even the occult.

In this book you will learn of AIM’s promotion of such false teachings as holy laughter, “listening prayer”, as well as condoning such heretical movements as The Latter Rain, The Third Wave and other Charismatic-Neopentecostal movements.

Clarish does an extremely thorough and detailed examination of AIM, its founder Seth Barnes and the organizations tools and methods.

The Word of God tells us that the enemy is amazingly deceptive and we must study and pray to be able to discern the truth from a lie. Sadly in today’s society, and indeed in today’s Christian church, young people are, in large degree, illiterate in even the very basic foundations of the faith, let alone in deeper areas of theology and doctrine.

I agree with Claris that Adventures in Mission is a very deceptive and dangerous enterprise; that’s its mission and ministry is to intentionally propagate to an unsuspecting and spiritually, and scripturally, ignorant generation.

Jude 3 says we are to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Missions, Mysticism and Magic calls us to study, prayer and action, and is in my opinion an extremely valuable resource to educate ourselves and others of the truth of the Gospel. I highly recommend this book to all who love, cherish and stand for the Truth.

21 thoughts on “ Missions, Mysticism and Magic-A Closer Look at the Missionary Organization ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS

  1. Megan

    It is really sad that you are saying these things about a great organization. I went on the world race & it opened my eyes to many things. I continued on in my journey with Christ through the entire 11 months & I do not believe this is a cult by any means. We served the least of these: fed the poor, went door to door in Africa sharing the gospel, shared the gospel with prostitutes on Bangla road in Thailand( one of the biggest red light districts in the world)…and much more. If anything we are more immersed in Christian living, living out the gospel, and learning to be the hands & feet of Jesus then most Americans ever will be. If you look at the gospel it says in John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” It says miracles of Jesus will be done through his true followers. It is not a cult. I have seen people healed & it is only by the blood & power of Jesus. If you merely choose to sit & objectively criticize something I doubt you know anything about, that is something you will have to answer to God about.

    God does still speak today & it is sad so many people block him out or choose not to listen. The Holy Spirit is alive & while & speaks to true followers.

    Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/God-still-speak.html

    By the way we were not taught any concepts of Mysticism.

  2. Courtney

    Sounds to me like you are following what someone else has said and not done your own research. As a missionary myself, and someone who has done the world race let me tell you that you’re wrong my friend. We had people from all backgrounds on my team, and AIM DID NOT teach us anything that was Biblical. I went to seminary, and I’ve been taught to examine everything I’ve been taught, believe me I did that, and I do that to my own pastor. Respectfully, you should get your facts straight before assuming something you know nothing about. For the recored, Seth Barnes is a great man of God. God has been moving in this ministry, bringing many to Christ all over the world.
    Bringing Kingdom until ALL have heard!


      1. Anonymous

        As someone who did the World Race, I believe that person meant to type biblical but typed unbiblical.

        I did find most of the teachings given to be unbiblical though.

    1. R Melton

      “AIM DID NOT teach us anything that was Biblical.”
      Did not teach us anything that was Biblical–
      So you actually concur with the author?

  3. Natalie

    “I was somewhat familiar with the ministry Adventures in Mission but it wasn’t until I read Missions, Mysticism and Magic by Claris Van Kuiken that I learned of the incredible dangerous scope of AIM’s efforts.”
    As one who has seen both the good and the bad at AIM (both in relation to its staff and its mission), I might advise you to get to know the organization itself before you accept one author’s opinion as truth. You’re absolutely right that in the last days many will be led astray, but as AIM sends hundreds if not thousands of young adults into the world each year to share the love of Jesus, I would rather stand on their side and lovingly correct rather than do nothing but oppose their work with hate.
    Because Jesus loved those who followed Him, not those who criticized the “sinners.”

  4. Mac

    Hey Mike,

    I’m a Christian, and I struggle with judgement. I try hard to live out of a place of love, grace, patience, etc for all of God’s children. But often I find myself thinking a lot of other Christians are doing things wrong or poorly. Honestly, I’m pretty judgmental towards Joel O’Steen and a number of other preachers I consider to be preaching a “prosperity gospel.” I seek repentance in this are of my life daily.

    With that said, my first reaction to this blog (as a member of the AIM community) was frustration and defensiveness. Then I realized I do this exact thing…pointing out where others are “wrong” or “failing” or however you want to phrase it. And so I come to you as a brother in Christ, a fellow follower of Christ and a flawed human man in love with his Creator and thankful daily for His grace.

    AIM isn’t a cult. Nothing about it is steeped in eastern mysticism, new age ideas, the occult or anything else you mentioned. Nor is AIM diabolical or deceptive.

    AIM is focused on the mission of Christ:
    1. To love God first and foremost, and to love everyone He created.
    2. To serve the poor, the helpless and those in need.
    3. To extend grace radically and without bias as has been done with us by our Father.

    I could give first-hand accounts and example after example countering whatever Claris has “studied” about AIM…but rather, I would encourage anyone to test AIM by determining whether the fruits of The Spirit are or are not present among the organization. I believe the fruits speak for themselves…and speak very loudly.

    However, I do agree with you that AIM is dangerous?. As those who work with AIM will tell you, they believe that God’s Holy Spirit is powerful, more powerful than the enemy, and they seek to reclaim what the enemy has stolen, killed and destroyed. AIM is directly opposed to the work of the evil one, and are incredibly dangerous to his work in the spiritual and physical realms.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Blessings for you and your family.

  5. Clinton White

    Mike, you seem to put a lot of stock in Claris Van Kuiken’s book. I wonder if you’d give equal time (maybe in number of pages read) to The World Race by reading blogs at Theworldrace.org. The blogs are almost real-time reports of what the Lord is doing around the world and in the lives of World Racers.

  6. Benjamin

    Hey Mike,

    You’ve got some pretty pointed words for an organization that correctly isn’t as clean and organized as we often prefer of ministries and missionaries. However, in reading through people’s blogs and getting to know the heart beneath the ministry of AIM you’ll find a generation of very vulnerable and honest people. Love is messy sometimes and I’m sure you’ll run into the messiness of love that gets poured out into blogs and lives alike. If your intent is to look for things written from participants that isn’t as scripturally sound as your years of education and pastoring, you probably won’t have to look to far. There is a screening process with blogs but I for one am thankful that AIM allows it’s participants to speak from where they are at. Everyone is on a unique journey and AIM intersects these people wherever they are at.

    One of the biggest strengths of AIM is that it has the courage to let people face their mess, their past, their lies and their fears. Sometimes that gets ugly and sometimes it takes awhile for the depth of truth that the Spirit is working on to come to the surface. However, AIM intentionally attempts to lead people into the presence of the Lord and let them encounter Him in transforming ways…even at the price of others’ perceptions, judgments and misunderstandings of themselves.

    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and He came that we may live life, and that abundantly. Every time that I worked or was a participant with AIM over multiple years, I left with more life and more freedom. This came directly from being more intimate with God. I haven’t written in my blog for quite some time now and hope to start again soon. However, I invite you to browse through some of my messiness and ask yourself if Holy Spirit or a diabolic cult has been behind some of my transformations and story. You may find my blog at:


    Feel free to contact me and let me know what you think.

    1. mikecorley Post author

      Hello Benny,

      I appreciate your comment. Like I shared with Clinton in another comment, if you will send me specific information about AIM I am certainly willing to read it. If I am wrong I will have no problem in saying so. Are you directly affiliated with AIM? If you are, or someone else reading this is, I would certainly consider posting a full post in response to the AIM post on my site.

      If you want to send me links for materials for me to examine, please as specific as possible.

      LORD bless.


  7. Michelle

    Hey Mike,

    If you head over to AIM’s website you’ll be able to find all the info you need. Every World Racer has a blog and you’ll find every single one of them there. I challenge you to read through them and you’ll most definitely see the heart of God at work and not that of those being led by a cultish leader. Benny gave you the link to his World Race blog and I’m sure you’ll read about his experiences with the world race as you will any other blog you read. I read blog after blog before deciding whether or not to go on the race. I’m so glad I did! I was an older participant than most (30)…and deeply rooted in my faith. It still changed my life and I’m not the same since! 🙂

  8. Alex

    Hey Mike,

    As a former participant of the World Race, I happen to agree with what you have said and believe that AIM has some major flaws. During my time on the race, I had a lot of differences with AIM’s teachings. One of my squad mates sent me a copy of Claris’ article on AIM and it brought up almost every issue that I had with the organization. When I returned home I got in contact with Claris and we compared notes on the research she had done and the experience I had. One of the most troubling things was AIM’s connection to the New Apostolic Reformation and Kingdom Now theology. They also tend to treat the race as more of a spiritual journey than a real mission trip (or at least what most Christians would consider a mission trip). I would not recommend AIM or the World Race until they take a closer look at how their teachings line up with the Bible.

    It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to offer correction to our brothers and sisters when we believe they are out of step with God.

    1. Imelda

      I absolutely agree with the article posted here. I can speak from experience.

      I’m also a former World Racer and until I went on “mission” with AIM, I had never been exposed to Dominion or Kingdom Now theology. I’m a young believer, and yet I praise God for what sufficient bible literacy I had to discern as to when to apply the litmus test to some of the teachings: in other words, I would go read the bible in context. Practicing exegesis (reading the Scriptures in context) was a huge factor in me not compromising sound doctrine and seriously not losing faith.

      Since everyone else so vehemently lauded AIM with great examples, so will I.

      It lines up with exactly AIM claims and I quote from their website regarding their ministry distinctives: “We emphasize interdenominationalism.
      The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing. We are tolerant of a variety of beliefs and practices within the mainstream of Christian practice. Where there is excess, we seek to be a force for moderation.”

      So what would that look like?
      A great example happened when a squad leader came out to “correct” and settle a dispute regarding the gift of prophesy. Blatantly, the person used 1 Corinthians 14:31 emphasizing that “ALL CAN PROPHESY.” We had become at odds concerning this because as part of the exploration process of activating our gifts where we were encouraged to write out everyone’s name on a piece of paper, fold it, put it in a container, pass it around blindly — upon each person selecting a piece of paper, without opening to reveal the name, we were to practice “listening prayer” and then formulate a response based on what we heard from the spirit.

      Afterall, God knows everyone and can see the name on the piece of paper. Many eagerly, with full laughter, glee and excitement treated this as a game. Others, had a bit more reverence and strong convictions about how this resembled divination and sorcery. This “prophesy game” was now botched by lack of participation and those who did not want to partake were seen as bible-thumpers and judgmental. So correction had to come down on us. Force of moderation, I guess, is what took place. It felt more like bullying, and it was not theologically sound.

      Subsequently, scripture was twisted to justify that we “all can prophesy” so not to be afraid of this sort of method of activating our gifts and to be more open-minded in how God wants to speak.

      While it was stressed over and over and over again that we “needed to choose in to the process” or that we needed to “make this a safe place” and that there is “freedom here,” clearly there was not freedom to abstain or walk away without strife. It was a teaching being forced on us which contradicted God’s word.

      Now we can look at this situation, which really did happen, in various ways:

      1) we can absolve all of AIM and blame the one leader and chalk it up to them not knowing what they were teaching
      2) we can recognize that this leader was also formerly a World Racer, a requirement to come back and lead a squad, and who was not alone but partnered up with another leader who was also a former World Racer — but there was no checks & balance evident that would indicate that any leadership disagreed with what was being taught
      3) we can take into consideration that this is evident fruit of a ministry (AIM) being produced by the fact that this was not a one-time-incident but occurred repeatedly in this manner and tactic for over 5 months
      4) if all of this was an honest misunderstanding, it makes no sense why leadership was always so bent on keeping these teaching-bloopers isolated and we were harshly warned not to infect the other squad members who were not present (this ended up creating factions and a huge dispute on Spirit vs Word based faith)

      Needless to say, only those who continuously absorbed such teachings kept rising in rank and continued to enforce such teachings and practices.

      So, by the 7th month, damage control and PR came into the picture at one of our debriefs where we were issued as a group an apology for how we had been treated by aforementioned leadership; the faith card was pulled with many tears being shed by these people from headquarters asking for our grace and forgiveness — and offering a free copy of “Kingdom Journeys” to everyone, as a gift.

      Openly, we were invited to ask questions and this was said to be a “safe place” to share how we really felt, so I did. And I even referenced Luke 17:2. You can bet there was not much grace or any tears nor the feeling of being safe after I expressed severe concern regarding the teachings and theology. Instead, I was openly condemned as judgmental and told I was casting judgments which like a boomerang were going to come back and get me. How loving is that? This is from people up in HQ. Great diversion to not address the theology behind the process.

      (However, when asked again in more private group conversation, there was absolutely no apology issued for the teachings or methods that were being promoted — we were simply told that our “process” had been disrupted.)

      There was absolutely nothing biblical about their discipleship methods or “spiritual formation,” as they like to call it. I felt like I was stuck in an infomercial for Seth Barne’s book “Kingdom Journeys.” When I did go up the ladder to express my concerns for various other issues, and when I questioned certain aspects of the “process” or “spiritual formation,” I was told I made everything too theological and that this was unhealthy. I was then chastised for being unforgiving, bitter and judgmental. All I wanted to do was reasonably examine the Scriptures and get some answers I could understand that didn’t involve me being made to feel guilty for asking.

      You can clearly read my blogs and see that I also had “great experiences” but I’m going to link the very last one and let you conclude for yourself whether or not that sounds like it was written by someone in an environment for healthy spiritual growth.

      When all else failed, I made my situation known from a month-to-month perspective to my elders at my home church. Having an actual lifeline home and accountability proved to be wise! They quickly connected the dots, and fasted — they unanimously heard from the Lord to bring me home. Shortly after I left, so did many others. The funny thing is, of those that left, the majority of us are/have been/will continue to be missionaries.

      I’m sure this post could open me up to some rotten tomatoes, for sure. I am very thankful for the sacred gift God gave me of preserving my faith for the duration of that mission, opening my eyes to a very clear and present danger of false prophets and teachers, the importance of not having wimpy theology and the need to bolster biblical literacy in this generation and for allowing me to witness salvation. To the praise of God, 4 of my World Race co-missionaries were saved (not re-dedicated), but born again, then baptized and you cannot put a price on that. Heaven rejoices. Those that most needed to hear the truth of the Gospel were amongst our own.

      I could write a book of my own, and maybe I will. This reply was just a tidbit of my experience.

  9. Geenza

    I completely agree with this article! I went on an AIM trip a few years ago when I was a new Christian. I have to say that many of the practices I encountered were very cultish and shaming. The piece of paper thing happened, also we had to apologize to people at the end of the trip after we had “quiet time with the Lord” and tell them we are sorry for thinking bad things about them! The leaders would “receive ” revelation about who could go out and proselytize, while others were not special enough or “ready” to enter the bars in Thailand to minister to the prostitutes there. Also, my leader was very hurtful. Example of a comment, ” I can see every lump and bump through that skirt”. It was a long skirt, jersey material, missionary Kosher. I am 5’11 and not heavy. Anyway, I just wanted to add my two cents. While one can have a good missionary type experience with AIM,(if you happen to see angels on a regular basis, and know what God is telling you about other people) I would go through your own church to do a missions trip.

  10. Jane

    Just wanted to say that I think AIM does good and harm. I went on a two month trip through them and gained a lot. I found a deep closeness to God and I experienced miracles. With that said, now- 3 years later- I’ve noticed how the inaccurate teachings (at times) have really damaged me. There is the teaching at aim that God is talking to us and is telling us things.
    I had never heard of that! So it was great to learn. Downside- when I couldn’t hear anything, I was led to believe it was My problem. I was at fault. I began to feel distant from God and like I wasn’t good enough.
    I think that there is great danger in this kind of teaching for certain personality types.
    While it is awesome that we CAN hear from God and follow Him in that way, AIM makes the practice more ritualistic than personal- having a ‘prophecy game’ at training camp and similar ‘games’ during the trip I was on.
    I’m posting because I wish that people could experience God in their own personal way and timing instead of being pushed into conformity. I know that’s a hot topic word in this post and I don’t mean to insult the organization. That trip played a large part in my life and I am thankful for a lot of it… But I have noticed some real harm in the undertones of some of the exercises… And I thought I would comment about it for others to consider. Like everything, take aim with a grain of salt. Their practices may not be the perfect thing for you. I wish I examined more for myself when I was on the trip

  11. Mark Scheiderer

    After only 15 minutes at AIM’s site, this site and one other it is easy to determine that AIM is cultic – if not an outright cult – and it’s leaders are simply in touch with their own spirit guides ( demons ) which they have falsely believed is the Holy Spirit talking to them. I found the statement that they place discipleship above evangelism to be troubling as their idea of “discipleship” appears to include the concept of total obedience to leadership.
    Satan has been casting doubt on the Word of God since Genesis chapter 3, but what many are not aware of is that he is behind all of the false concepts and practices of “prayer” that is not really prayer at all. “Listening prayer” and other concepts simply put the mind in an altered state of consciousness, which opens up the practitioner to demonic influence, control, and many times outright possession.
    ( Based on my experience in a cult – http://www.eth-s.com – I can almost guarantee that there is immorality in the lives of the leaders. Sin and heresy are “Siamese twins”.)

  12. Mrs. RJB

    Thank you to those who have openly and honestly told about your experiences…ALL, because it has been very revealing that truth has shown it’s self here. Those who have been offended by this testimony and book review do not know their Bible and it’s more mature doctrinal teachings.

  13. Grace

    I can attest to all the concerns written about by Mike, Claris and a few of the comments that are in agreement with the article because of a personal connection my family has with AIM. I am grateful for those standing in opposition to the false teaching and distorted interpretations of Scripture from Seth Barnes. Over many years of reading, mostly of Seth Barnes blogs, and a growing conviction that I have a responsibility to defend our Lord Jesus from those who distort the truth of His gospel, I have put what I have found into a blog written specifically for families or potential racers that have concerns. As Mike has pointed out, these concerns are well-founded based solely on Seth’s written word and those he highly esteems in the NAR and mystical realm of “Christianity”. An intentional tearing young people away from the faith of their families is one of the most frightening aspects of this organization and my family knows this well. They are bullies, using “words from the Lord” to draw these kids in deep and away from the protection of the family the Lord has placed them in. One of my posts shows clearly Seth’s disrespect for parents. I pray it brings glory to the precious name of Christ, that even one family or young person would be discerning and careful before joining with the darkness that pervades this organization.


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