Breakthrough/Momentus: Psychological Techniques

or Christian Ministry?

Breakthrough ( formerly called Momentus) trainings are marketed to Christians as an effective means to attain transformation of character. Devout Christians serve as trainers and sponsors, and Bible verses and concepts are used in the trainings.

However, there are some concerns which need to be addressed. For instance, the trainings include many characteristics commonly seen in pop psychology and Large Group Awareness Training (LGATs) such as Lifespring and est. The trainings themselves also warn participants of emotional and physical troubles that Breakthrough trainings may cause. While Breakthrough claims that the stresses are due simply to the self-examination which is naturally stressful, there is evidence that it is rather the psychological methods the trainings use which cause the distress. While Breakthrough emphasizes that its goal is transformation itself, it may be that it is just as interested in creating the experience of feeling transformed. The methods, not the goals, of Breakthrough have led to conflicts in many churches between pro-Breakthrough and anti-Breakthrough factions. This articles addresses each of these broad topics.

A Secular Training Method or Christian Ministry?

The Association for Christian Character Development (ACCD; which offers the Momentus series) claims to be a Christian ministry, and therefore trainers must be treated as church elders in ministry. Yet, in the Momentus training manuals, the religious/Christian nature is hardly apparent. Instead, the training describes itself in the same kinds of secular terms which Lifespring or est would use. In other words, it appears to be primarily a behavior/ human potential training with Christian values mixed in. Here are some examples:

+ Operating Standards Manual always calls the leader a "trainer," never an "elder" or other Christian terms. It is always called a "training." The "Personal Assessment Form" filled out by recruits has 16 questions, only one of which broaches any spiritual content. Many items are commonly found in popular psychology

+ The psychological (rather than spiritual)nature of the training, is assumed and alluded to again and again. Recruits are extensively questioned about their mental health and any medications they may be taking for psychological problems,

+ The trainer's introduction script directs him to say that the training is from a Christian perspective (Christian songs and Bible verses are used). But at the same time it disavows religious and Christian content (nonchristian songs and quotes are also used): "This training is not about your religion or lack of it; this training is about how you govern your vision or what matters to you into existence." In other words, people can benefit from the training even though they have no Christian beliefs and gain no Christian transformation from the training. It is saying that the central theme and impact is psychological rather than spiritual.

+ secular, rather than spiritual, terms pepper all of the team manuals. Terms include such momentusspeak as "self government," "mechanics of each exercise," and "killing the victim."

Momentusspeak uses primarily terms common in the Bible and psychology. Even so, Momentus considers its terminology to be distinctive enough that the authors of the book Killing the Victim... (written by Breakthrough trainers) includes a glossary which combined definitions from Webster's dictionary "and our own understanding" (p. 223). It is unlikely that anyone unacquainted with Momentus would define "breakthrough" as "The result of standing responsibly during a breakdown such that circumstances or people that previously had hindered the completion of a promise or commitment, now foster and aid its fulfillment" (p. 233), or would mention that sanctification is a process which in part "involves killing the victim" (p. 236).

The "Declaration of Commitment..." assigned to be done by graduates after trainings includes psychological jargon as well:

"The results you produce and the extent of your transformation of character are determined by how you govern yourself.... The extent of the rigor and discipline you bring to this endeavor will, as always, determine the level of your success.... The Plan of Accomplishment is intended to assist you in bringing your vision to reality by translating your Declaration of Commitment into an explicit written course of action, using the performative language of promises, requests, declaration and assertion."

It seems odd that this declaration doesn't include any assurance of God's part in transforming his people. In contrast, passages like Romans 12:2 imply that God is very active in working in His people. It uses the passive "be transformed" rather than "transform yourselves," which would be more like the self-powered plan of accomplishment emphasized in Breakthrough. As a whole, Breakthrough overwhelmingly promotes self-effort (a Law-based emphasis) rather than God's power to transform (a Gospel-based emphasis). This emphasis on self-effort produces short-term good, but eventually the burden of law becomes a great weight to carry.

Momentusspeak is identifiable in that it stands out as slightly distinct from that of churches and church ministries in general, partly because of the peppering of psychological and LGAT concepts.

Secular, psychological terms and concepts are not necessarily bad in themselves. But they do suggest that Breakthrough is driven by psychological techniques as well as by spiritual means.

The Hazards of Breakthrough Training- in Breakthrough's Own Words

It is the psychological component, rather than the Christian goals, which is the cause of greatest concern in the Breakthrough training. The emotional and physical hazards faced by participants in the training are the most troubling aspects of the training.

A letter to participants from M.O.R.E. (A Breakthrough/Momentus-related group) says that ground rules are to provide and "safe and loving environment" during trainings. But Breakthrough's own description of its training doesn't sound very safe.

These are actual terms that Breakthrough uses to describe its training, quoted from the Operating Standards Manual and various forms produced by Breakthrough:

"challenging, stressful, and/or generally uncomfortable... intense or emotional experience... anxiety and risk of dealing with the unfamiliar... disputes that may arise...may experience adverse consequences... feeling uncomfortable to a degree that you think is excessive...(The Momentus Trainings Course Outline and Questionnaire)

"...the rigor of the training could aggravate some mental conditions... ("Support Call Form")

" 5.... I may experience deep emotions and possibly emotional stress, anxiety, tears, physical discomfort, or exhaustion... 7. If I feel mental or physical discomfort or adverse effects during the TRAINING... 10.... any personal, physical, psychological or emotional injuries you may suffer as a result of the TRAINING.... 11. May contain risks of physical or psychological injury... (I) assume any and all such risks and dangers.12. ...personal, physical, psychological or emotional injuries, distress, or death arising from... 13....loss, damage or injury resulting from the negligence of MM... ("Hold Harmless Agreement")

The Team Captain's Manual instructs the team to watch for participants hurting their hands during the Weeping and Wailing exercise. The team is also told to have "barf bags" ready for participants who need them during this exercise ("Training Notes for Team Grounding Meeting;" TCM is not paginated). The captain is told to use the Wednesday team meeting to designate one team member "to handle any emergency like a heart attack or injury." Team members use hand signals, like a hand over the heart to signal an emotional situation with a participant. A favorite phrase used during the training is the "pain of transformation." Breakthrough tries to screen people by asking detailed questions about their mental histories and psychiatric medications.

All these materials assume that Breakthrough training can prompt many ill effects. While some of these excerpts the reader may credit to an attorney wanting to protect Breakthrough from liability, they would be unnecessary unless Breakthrough actually does or can prompt such reactions in some people. Plus, many of the warnings are not found in documents like "Hold Harmless" which is intended to protect Breakthrough from liability, but in Breakthrough's own manuals.

Trainers counter that all participants are informed before the training that they will be asked to sign a "Hold Harmless" statement. However, recruits are very seldom ever allowed to read the statement with its long list of potential risks until after they have paid the nonrefundable fee, taken time off work and entered the training. This indirectly pressures participants to sign it even if they feel reservations, and does not give participants the opportunity to consider the statement without peer, financial and other pressures. This would be similar to asking hospital patients to read and sign a statement on the hazards of surgery after they have been rolled into the operating room, surrounded by the surgical team and had an IV needle placed in their arms.

Is Breakthrough afraid of allowing potential recruits to understand the hazards of Breakthrough before the training begins? This author sent a preliminary copy of this article to Breakthrough a few weeks before publication so they could comment on it. Breakthrough responded by "advising" me not to quote any of their publications and threatening to prosecute me for quoting any of them.

This suggests that Momentus may not understand the doctrine of "fair use" which is part of copyright law . The concept of fair use means that anyone from professional writers to college students can quote sections of any publication for purposes of review or information without obtaining permission from the original authors.

Four factors are used to determine if quotations of a copyrighted work are "fair use:" 1) the purpose of the use, 2) the type of work involved, 3) the amount used, and 4) whether the original work will sell fewer copies because the public will instead buy the similar work which contains the quotations..

This article easily is considered fair use, because 1) it is a work of criticism, comment and research which in no way attempts to imitate Momentus publications and is not sold for profit; 2) it is factual, not fiction, and quotes published sources (as opposed to private correspondence), 3) it quotes proportionately very small sections of Momentus publications, and 4) no one would get this article instead of buying Momentus publications because it is so similar to them.

One key concept in copyright law is rooted in the term "transformative." This article is highly different from Momentus writings (very "transformative"), and so isn't copyright infringement.

What if the copyright owner refuses to give permission? The Supreme Court decided that authors can quote material even if permission is withheld: "If the use is otherwise fair, no permission need be sought or granted. Thus, being denied permission to use a work does not weigh against a finding of fair use." (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 114 S.Ct. 1164 [1994]). Remember that the purpose of copyright law is to prevent plagiarism, not to prevent the free flow of ideas or the freedom of the press. ("Fair use" is addressed in The Public Domain by Stephen Fishman, 2001, from which much of this material is drawn, as well as in style books for professional authors and college students.)

Why is Breakthrough afraid that people will read quotes from their own publications?

Note that the quotes above are Breakthrough's own terms used to describe possible effects of training. Does your church feel it necessary to make such warnings about your ministry? Should a Christian "elder" lead "spiritual transformation" meetings which have these risks? Do you consider these to be tolerable risks for Christian ministries to have? If a traveling teacher asked to lead a series of meetings in your church but required your elders to acknowledge the likelihood of such "risks," would you permit such meetings to be held among your people?

The Secret of Confrontation

Breakthrough barely acknowledges the stressful nature of the training in its dealings with potential participants. The ACCD web site includes an article, "What Do You Do in the Training?" which diplomatically admits that "It is an intense experience, because of both the rigor of the schedule and the integrity with which you are called to deal with issues that arise."

The article "Is the Training Confrontational?"on the ACCD web site was likely written to answer accusations from past participants that the script of the training is psychologically manipulative. Yet, ACCD twists the meaning of the term "confrontational" to assert that participants' consciences are challenged, rather than admitting that the psychological techniques used by the trainers are confrontational: "The confrontations will be between belief systems: your current beliefs coming up against the teachings of Jesus Christ and how you are actually behaving.... confront the reality of your life based on your actions not your intentions.... confront yourself through a rigorous process of inquiry." In effect, ACCD shifts the blame for the tension from Breakthrough's methods to participants' emotional weakness.

It is true that people do feel inner tension due to guilt and shame when they recognize that their actions contradict their beliefs or Christ's teachings. However, the ACCD web site isn't being candid, since it doesn't acknowledge the stressful nature of the methods and techniques themselves.

Why is the Training so Stressful?

Breakthrough manuals and the "Hold Harmless" agreement note how stressful the training is. But why is it so stressful?

An article which used to be available on the now-closed Momentus web site addressed the issue of Breakthrough's stressful nature in a more open manner. (The domain name once owned by Mashiyach Ministries, Inc was acquired by Momentus Group Ltd of London and its parent company, Diamond Technology Partners, sometime between 1999 and 2001.) It insisted that the training is stressful only because it prompts people to examine themselves. But Breakthrough cannot be the only way, or even the best way, that Christians can examine themselves, since LGAT exercises didn't exist when the apostle exhorted people to examine themselves (in passages such as 1 Corinthians 11:28 and 2 Corinthians 13:5). The New Testament never even implies that self examination is likely to prompt "adverse consequences... feeling uncomfortable to a degree that you think is excessive... aggravate some mental conditions... emotional stress... exhaustion... adverse effects ... physical or psychological injury..." etc, as Breakthrough does. In other words, there are ways to lead people to examine themselves without using psychological techniques that produce such collateral damage. Why doesn't Breakthrough choose to use them instead?

Some of the psychological techniques used by Breakthrough are borrowed from LGAT trainings like est and Lifespring. "The Awareness Page" outlines a family tree of LGATs. Werner Erhardt, who founded est and The Forum, and John P. Hanley, who founded Lifespring, both were Mind Dynamics teachers ( The page lists 16 spinoffs of Lifespring founded by former Lifespring trainers, including Momentus, whose founder Tocchini was a Lifespring trainer for about eight years. While there are great differences between them, they have some similarities in techniques, philosophy and terminology.

A helpful description of typical characteristics of LGATs can be found in Margaret Singer's Cults in our Midst. Several, but not all, characteristics of LGATs seem much like some of Breakthrough's practices.

Singer describes the "mass marketing of experiential exercises" which use both physiological and psychological persuasion techniques. She says that leaders induce "predictable physiological responses by subjecting followers to certain planned experiences and exercises" and elicit "certain behavioral and emotional responses by subjecting followers to psychological pressures and manipulations."

Techniques include long hours, aggressively confronting or humiliating participants, guilt-inducing exercises, changes in stress levels, guided imagery designed to "return to childhood memories and recapture sadness, " precise control of the circumstances of the setting, and so forth. LGATs also produce an experience of "transformation" and of spiritual effect (a term used here in the broadest sense) very similar to that of Breakthrough.

Breakthrough admits that some of its exercises (such as Lifeboat, Living Mirrors, Voyage, Weeping and Wailing) were developed by Harvard Business School and are now sold by Pfeiffer and Associates and are used in nonChristian settings.

There are also some similarities in terminology and philosophy. Virtually all focus on delivering "transformation" of some sort, although their definition of it varies. Virtually all have some variation of the theme of eliminating the "victim" mentality by taking control of one's life.

Breakthrough leaders say that the "adverse effects" occur in people who do not want to examine themselves or look at their own sin. However, the questionnaire which potential participants answer before their training seeks to exclude people who are already under emotional distress, not those who resist self-examination. The questionnaire recognizes that is the psychological stress of the training, not simply its ability to expose people's weaknesses and failures, which causes adverse effects.

With such artificially induced stresses, it is no wonder that apprentice trainers and team members are trained to deal with what a Momentus manual calls "bolters" who leave the room of their own volition (contrary to Breakthrough's ground rules) during the training.

The Cookie-Cutter Approach to Experience and Self-examination

Breakthrough claims to prompt participants to examine themselves. Self-examination is a very personal, introspective process, which varies from one person to another. A person's life experiences, the state of his or her spiritual life and self understanding all affect the process. Yet, Breakthrough expects the "self-examination" to produce much the same results in all participants.

During trainings, trainers, sponsors and the team watch participants carefully to see if they are responding properly. They expect the same exercises to produce essentially the same effect, at the same pace, in all the participants, at the same time. This cookie-cutter approach suggests that Breakthrough produces a predictable experience, or feeling, more than personal, inner self-examination and transformation themselves.

The experience is universal, predictable, and able to be consistently produced by a specific set of Breakthrough (LGAT) techniques.

Did Silas, Timothy and Titus line the walls of synagogues in Asia Minor in the first century to see if every listener was having the proper, expected response of self-examination as the apostle Paul spoke?

Breakthrough itself emphasizes that its goal is to produce an experience in participants. A promotional brochure for Momentus exclaimed,

"You are invited to join us for four powerful, days in what could be a momentus, life-changing experience....

The opportunity to experience the transformative principles of....

Every person brings to the experience of the training....

Results... are a poignant experience of...."

(Emphasis added) Another asserted that it is really the experience of living self government that is really what is lacking among Christians today.

Daniel Tocchini's article, "Christian Transformation and the Momentus Trainings" on the Momentus web site claimed that something was missing on the path to Christian examination and transformation. He wrote, "So in the spirit of providing a piece of what was missing I founded Mashiyach Ministries, Inc. and wrote the Momentus Training..." He also implied that Momentus (now Breakthrough) was "a rebirth of the apostolic disciplines that lead to repentance..."

The experience, or feeling, of transformation is as much the goal of the Breakthrough/Momentus training as is the transformation itself. The powerful experience is part of what leads graduates to recruit others to take the training.

The LGAT techniques are the tools the trainers use to produce such experiences. Founder Tocchini learned the tools of delivering experiences to people when he was a Lifespring trainer. Exercises, lectures, Scripture, homework, and even the music are each important tools. The Team Captain's Manual ("Music" section) tells the music person to "Stay keenly aware of the mood and your impact and influence." It emphasizes that music enables "participants to let the barriers down," which makes them more vulnerable to suggestions made by the trainers.

Momentus /Breakthrough is a powerful experience for many people. But is experience good or bad? If people have what they perceive to be a good experience, does that automatically mean that the "good" experience was good for them? (For example, is a "good" experience on hallucinogenic drugs really good for those who experience it?) Clearly, even "good" experiences can be in fact good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, pure or mixed..

Breakthrough appears to be a mating of a secular psychology training (its Lifespring roots) with spiritual transformation. It appears to confuse, or to simplistically merge:

+ psychological impact with spiritual transformation (they are related but not the same)

+ emotional change with character development

+ psychological disturbance and discomfort with self-examination, guilt and repentance

The emotional dynamic is central to Breakthrough and to Lifespring, even though Lifespring has no Christian element. Breakthrough purposely manipulates the participants' emotions. But is this necessary to effect spiritual transformation?

The Script is the Issue

The behavior, altitudes and motives of the trainers or founder of Momentus is not the issue. In fact, reports generally seem to commend the trainers as being moral and honorable, and as having genuine concern for people. Most of the concepts the training focuses on, such as personal accountability and maintaining relationships through keeping promises, are also essentially good.

Techniques and methods included in the script of the training, not the people or central goals involved, is the primary issue of concern.

Breakthrough training follows a close script, in part because the trainer depends on a support team to carry out well defined duties. The script spells out the schedule of exercises so that the support team can arrange chairs. It prescribes a detailed list of music for the team to play at set times. It requires the team to make copies of homework, the "hold harmless" statement and ground rules which are used at specific times. The team must open and shut the doors on a specific schedule, and so forth.

The script does not detail every word that should be said during the training. However, it details most of the activities. Even many spontaneous exchanges (such as those between the trainer and people who violate ground rules) are anticipated, thought out in advance, and modeled in previous trainings. In a certain sense, trainers (especially new ones) are actors following a script. The script enables the Breakthrough experience to be essentially replicated in different times and places.

It is the elements of the script of the training, not the personality of the trainers, which make it a harrowing experience for many participants., and which prompts the need for the "hold harmless" warnings about he hazards of the training.

Could They Change the Techniques Out of Concern?

It may be difficult to make an incontrovertible case that certain exercises and methods are patently abusive or sinful. Yet, the hold harmless and other statements quoted above note that some parts of the training can produce some harmful effects.

Whether or not the exercises themselves are intrinsically wrong or sinful, they may not be beneficial. As Paul says, "let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification" and we "ought to bear with the failings of the weak." (Romans. 14:19, 15:1) and "everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.. not everything is constructive" (1 Cor 10:23). And 1 Cor. 13 and other places speak of showing love and of adjusting to other's needs because we may, not because we have to or else we're sinning. . So, if some people experience harmful effects, wouldn't it be good to alter or replace the methods or exercises?

Some dissatisfied graduates feel that certain exercises induce them to act cruelly toward others, to act against their conscience (partly because trainers structure the training so that participants conform and so they cannot easily opt out of or modify stressful exercises). Then they feel guilty because they are acting against their consciences (1 John 3:20-21, 1 Cor. 8:7-13) In some cases, this is guilt which is imposed by the training which is able to manipulate emotions and conscience.

Some exercises are designed to cause participants to feel valid guilt over past or present offenses. For instance, Thursday night homework directs participants to list ten examples of times they broke promises. They are also required to make a "quitter's list" of things they started and did not finish, or things they did not succeed in doing (Team Captain's Manual, "Thursday Night Homework"). However, if the participants are Christians who are truly sorry for their sins, who sought forgiveness from God and those they offended, who sought to make amends, and who have already received forgiveness- then what valid spiritual purpose can there be for requiring an exercise that is designed to make them relive feelings of guilt?

Some ground rules, on the other hand, are used to induce false guilt in participants. For instance, participants are required to enter the room within a 60 second period. If for some reason participants miss this 60 second window, it is cause for trainers to "expose" their breaking of a commitment to the ground rules, which artificially induces guilt over a trivial matter. Participants are also told to say "I don't care enough to remember your name" if that situation arises. Besides the fear of embarrassment and the anxiety people feel when they hear this rule, the rule unduly produces false guilt in some participants who say such a thing, because there may be valid reasons people would forget names in such a stressful situation.

It doesn't matter that it is an "exercise," or a "game" to help people see their responses to situations. (By comparison, if a trusted coach structures a training practice of a children's sports team in which he requires players to act against their consciences- such as telling them to do a move which is contrary to the rules of the game- he is wrong because he is inducing them to sin against their consciences.) It is still spiritually and emotionally unhealthy and sinful to impose such effects on participants who come thinking that they can trust the trainers.

The key question is not so much "is Breakthrough sinful?" but rather "is the psychological manipulation used in Breakthrough wise or potentially harmful?" Breakthrough admits to psychological manipulation, including such elements as psychological exercises, control of lighting, music, volume, peer pressure, and the trainer's delivery. The effects of psychological manipulation vary with individuals, from perhaps healthy to unhealthy. It is possible to have good intentions but harmful results.

It is often difficult to identify psychological techniques as sinful or not sinful. Are techniques such as venting anger, recovered memories, psychotherapy, depression medication, inner child, exposing people to fears in order to free them from fears, marital separation, martial divorce, etc, sinful or not? There are no Bible verses that speak specifically to most of these, and it may be hard to identify each one as patently sinful or holy. (The word "misled" is used in the Bible, but it is not always labeled as "sin.") But that doesn't mean that they, like techniques used by Breakthrough, should all be approved and accepted by all Christians because they are practiced by one who claims to be an elder and because noone can prove to the user's satisfaction that they are patently sinful

Would Breakthrough be willing to reduce the amount of psychological manipulation because of their potentially harmful effects, while keeping the clearly Christian elements? If it deleted manipulation, would the impact of Breakthrough be reduced because the training is primarily a psychological/emotional experience rather than Christian character development? Would Breakthrough be willing to reduce the psycho-emotional manipulation because it inappropriately disturbs some people (out of concern for the some)? Or would Breakthrough insist on keeping it unless someone can convince the trainers to their satisfaction that some of the psychological elements are patently sinful? If Breakthrough won't delete disturbing elements- does it indicate that emotional experience is more important to Breakthrough than Christian character development?

Breakthrough leaders have adjusted the content of Breakthrough over the years, partly due to criticism. The new name, ACCD, gives the training a more overtly Christian image. But the psychological techniques are still central. If the Holy Spirit is truly present to transform participants' lives- why are certain techniques necessary? Isn't the Spirit able to transform people without the use of techniques which are also used in non-Christian LGAT trainings?

Trainers or Elders?

Breakthrough/Momentus has received a good deal of criticism because of the stressful nature of the psychological techniques used.

Breakthrough founder Dan Tocchini seeks to eliminate public criticism (which he believes is slander) by insisting that dissatisfied graduates and critics deal with him as a Christian elder and leader, and show him where he has sinned. It appears that be believes that if he is not convinced by critics that he has sinned, then ACCD can dismiss the criticism as unfounded slander. There is a place for talking with people personally when you have concerns. In fact, this author has had extensive correspondence with Tocchini over some of the issues involved with Breakthrough, which has been helpful.

However, Tocchini's view that anyone who is critical of some of Breakthrough's practices must meet with him personally to talk over offenses and reconciliation (as part of the sequence of steps in Matthew 18) because he is an "elder" does not seem to take in the complete picture, for these reasons:

+ critics seldom accuse the founder personally of sin or evil intentions. The concern is with the "script" of the trainings, regardless of who the trainer is (three trainers are on ACCD's Board of Directors, and it once set a goal of having 25 trainers by 2000.) Even if the founder passed completely out of the picture, the script would remain, and would still be a concern. Dissatisfied graduates are not typically looking for a personal apology from any trainer, but a change in the script which would make the training for healthy for the participants

+ 1 Timothy 5, which trainers use to silence authors of articles critical of Breakthrough, deals primarily with the local church, selecting, ordaining, equipping and maintaining them and their ministry. Almost no one who takes the training selected or ordained the trainer as their elder (and don't even see the founder if they have another trainer). Participants don't see the "trainer" as an elder. That's why he's called a trainer, not an elder. The trainings are not a church nor an extension of a church.

+ while trainers are well meaning, it may be that the effect (perhaps even the intent) of "reconciling" is to control or limit criticism. Meetings could become a means in which "two or three witnesses" chosen by ACCD declare a critic of Breakthrough to be falsely accusing trainers or founder and therefore to be anathema. It could possibly then be used to "prove" to ACCD followers that critics are just false accusers who don't listen to correction.

+ the Breakthrough founder wants potential critics of Breakthrough to clear all critical articles with Breakthrough before publication in order to eliminate errors which wrongly portray Breakthrough in a bad light. But what if there is a genuine difference of opinion? While it is important to eliminate errors and slander, eliminating all material critical of Breakthrough under the guise of being "reconciled" would end up hurting, rather than helping, people.

Church Conflicts Over Breakthrough/Momentus

Christians should also be concerned about church splits and controversies which were prompted by Breakthrough. Magazine and news articles have highlighted some of these. Breakthrough blames this on what they call the rumor and slander of critics which potential recruits unwittingly believe.

But many people were troubled about some of the Momentus/Breakthrough techniques from the inception of the training, before critical articles appeared in public. In fact, the churches and pastors in Momentus' home base of Santa Rosa, California, had a series of contentious meetings (following the first Momentus trainings in 1992) to debate the nature and effects of the training. An article entitled "A Momentus Divide Among Churches" in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Oct. 3, 1993 described the controversy which dominated the churches and the Christian Leaders Prayer Fellowship. Many of the pastors listed their names on a joint statement which listed many theological and other problems they saw in the training at that time. .

This controversy led to several statements by Christian leaders regarding the nature of the training, including some by Pastor Dick Williams, then of Grace Fellowship, which have been widely distributed. Although Breakthrough's founder Dan Tocchini says that he and Williams are now "reconciled," Williams still does not approve of the training. Another pastor, Rev. Dr. Peter Bertolero of Fresno Christian Growth Center, distributes a large packet of information which describes the similarities between Breakthrough and LGATs, as well as the conflicts in churches. Helpful statements on the Breakthrough controversy are published by Christian Research Institute (

Neither Breakthrough nor any training is essential for character development. So why should graduates of Breakthrough insist that their churches support it? Why not just drop it from consideration in a church rather than force the issue?

Twelve Breakthrough trainings are scheduled for 2002, charging a fee of $150 per participant. But controversy will continue to follow Breakthrough as long as it employs psychological techniques typical of Large Group Awareness Trainings.

Dr. John Juedes, Copyright 2002

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