Reactions to Ellerslie?

During the holiday break, I did a lot of reading, praying and thinking. I happened to come across a preacher named Eric Ludy and the Ellerslie Church. After watching hours of his sermons, I have both inspiration and questions. I’d like to hear our reader’s thoughts and reactions. This is a follow-up to the last mid-week question on Different ways to present the gospel.

Be prepared: At Ellerslie, the gospel is presented with a lion heart, in the style of the thunder-gospel preaching of old. Eric Ludy is a poet and writer who was extremely low-key and gentle. But recently he felt pushed by God to be a lamb who speaks with the voice of a lion.

Eric Ludy – The Ellerslie Experiment from Ellerslie Mission Society on Vimeo.

What are your initial reactions to Eric’s messages? Is there room for someone like this in today’s world? Does he go too far? Are there dangers his ministry should watch out for?


  1. Anonymous

    As a preacher who can sometimes be loud myself, I was curious about this video…it does seem to me that this guy’s “loudness” seems a little forced instead of flowing naturally from his emotion and spirit. Take someone like Tony Evans for instance, he is a LOUD preacher, but for some reason it seems natural for him. Not so much for Eric Ludy in my opinion.

  2. I don’t know about the whole raising the voice thing. Whenever I hear someone preach like that I often want to tell them to calm down and relax. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do it, it just feels weird to have the gospel yelled at me.

  3. So after listening to it for half an hour I don’t know if I can listen to much more. His style isn’t appealing to me. That’s not to say the substance isn’t good, but the presentation just kills it for me. I thought that what he had to say about the emergent church was quite interesting. I kind of find it hard that this is the same guy who wrote a book on Christian marriage. I hope he wasn’t yelling when he wrote that book, hahaha.

  4. I would tend to agree David/Oscar. I found it quite refreshing though to hear a voice of a camel-haired preacher calling us to repentance and to be in line with Scripture. I also appreciate his call to a kingly gospel; it is a much needed reminder to be men and women of God who represent Christ in this world.

    The dangers I see are becoming disconnected from grace and reality. Such intense and literal focus on Scripture seems to lead to a establishing a closed ministry that ends up needing to create their own reality. I see a strong emphasis in Scripture to be whole people, healed and renewed.

    Oscar, in one of his sermons he plays sound bites from the last several years of his preaching. During the time he wrote the marriage book, he sounded very syrupy and flowery. I couldn’t listen to that style of preaching at all. 

  5. Unnamed Ling

    After going to Ellerslie and experiencing it for a period of time, I can share this information… I could find little wrong with the actual words in the messages, but the living out of the message by the people there was harsh and judgmental. I don’t doubt Eric’s love for God and desire to serve Him… I still wonder how something could be so very right and so very wrong all at the same time. A person I know who went through the training still struggles with feeling condemnation (to the point of having a hard time even praying now), though they are not living in sin at all, and have a strong desire for God. I’m not a “liberal” but any thoughts that fall outside the “conservative” realm are pretty much mocked. (I believe the Bible is literally the Word of God, and do not believe in compromise on morality or anything else in the Word.) Don’t know if that helps or not, but that’s my two cents. 

    • Unnamed, thank you for sharing and welcome. I don’t think anyone here has actually gone to Ellerslie training, but your thoughts resonate with quite a few of us here. 

      “I still wonder how something could be so very right and so very wrong all at the same time.”  We’ve wrestled with that very question. 

  6. Unnamed Ling

    P.S. The reason I didn’t actually put my true name, is I don’t want the person I spoke of hurt by the fallout, if someone from the organization sees this. Some of the folks are pretty harsh and hurtful.

    • Welcome, Unnamed Ling, A sign of gospel humility is the willingness to be critiqued and not retaliating in self-righteousness. Gospel humility regards others better than oneself (Phil 2:3), and regards oneself with sober judgment (Rom 12:3). Sorry to hear that the “right” preaching is not accompanied by gentleness and forbearance, but with harshness and hurtfulness.

  7. I attended Ellerslie and learned quite a bit. Most of what I learned, however, was not taught but observed. I saw the dangers of a shift in our focus from love to being “spiritual” or “honoring God.” It was like looking in a mirror as I saw the many ways I am so very quick to judge and dismiss people. There was no room for human frailty or weakness- as that would be “living in defeat” or “self-pity”. There was little tenderness towards each other, as the focus was supposed to be on the “weak and vulnerable.” However, there were many “weak and vulnerable” in our midst who were merely told to “man up” spiritually. The leadership is genuine in their desires, I believe. However, it seems the focus has shifted from what it was meant to be. There are many precious people there, both those working there, and attending. After all, if they weren’t desiring to know the Lord, they wouldn’t be there.

    As to to the question you posed about what dangers their ministry should look out for. I would say first and foremost to evaluate whether or not Christ Himself would be deemed “Ellerslie Appropriate” enough to come. Would they judge Him for being too “Humanistic?” Would His manner of dress and speech be deemed too “Individualistic” or “Self-seeking?” Would He be accepted there? What about His disciples? Peter? John the Baptist? Are people coming and feeling loved? Are they getting that drink of cold water? Are they treating “the least of these” the way they would treat their King? That’s my two cents. And no I’m not bitter. I dearly love the students and staff there, but I’m also honest. 

    • “Me”, thank you for your thoughts. You raise some very critical points for all of us to consider and remember.

      “Most of what I learned, however, was not taught but observed.”

      I vote for this to be the number one truth that all Christian leaders remember: your actions speak louder than words. A pattern of actions will define how people see you and could nullify every word you’ve ever said.

      “There was no room for human frailty or weakness”

      I’m coming to realize this is a great danger to be on guard against. When we become Christian, we do not cease to be human. 

      “However, there were many “weak and vulnerable” in our midst who were merely told to “man up” spiritually.”

      Having lived and breathed a “man up” attitude for over 20 years, I am now “manning down”, that is, I want to be a man surrendered to the grace of God and who listens and obeys the Holy Spirit in light of Scripture.

      “I would say first and foremost to evaluate whether or not Christ Himself would be deemed “Ellerslie Appropriate” enough to come.”

      Your thoughts continue to inspire me! This may be the ultimate acid test of any ministry. 

      In summary, the value of Ellerslie is to call us back to repentance, like the prophets of old We all need to “re-orient on the true north of Christ and Him crucified”. From what little I know of Mr. Ludy, I can see evidences that God is indeed using him, not so differently in fact, as God used Ezekiel or Isaiah.

      The dangers to be careful about are:

      1) Are we denying our humanity? When Jesus said “deny yourself” I cannot imagine He meant “deny your humanity and live in a fantasy world.”

      2) Would we accept or even recognize Jesus in our midst?

      3) Do we allow compassion, and not only allow it, do we foster love in our ministry (not some re-defined “love”, but love as portrayed in 1 Corinthians 13)?

      I would add one more big caution: What happens after Mr. Ludy? In other words, what about succession of the ministry? It seems Ellerslie is content with gathering a small number of people and is not going on a triumphal march to evangelize the whole world to submit to the specific context of ministry God seems to have given them. If so, I think the ministry can add a much needed call to repentance and courageous Christian living.

      The big dangers happen when a “man up” ministry insists they are the elite Christian warriors and campaign around the world to call people to submit to their authority and conform to their specific lifestyle.


  8. hareinert22

    I spent a semester at Ellerslie and it did a number of damages to me. I come from a rough past not knowing much about Christianity so I jumped on their train believing everything they said. They are beyond strict with their rules and I felt like if I didn’t wear one thing or act a certain way that I was a sinner. It began to destroy me. I believe Ellerslie is for a certain group of Christians. Those who are more advanced in their walks. I wish they were more welcoming to all people but they aren’t. Most kids that attend grew up in Christian homeschool communities. That’s all the staff members too. Where are the staff members who were drug addicts? Come from broken families? Alcoholics? Depression? Suicide? There are none, and you can’t fully understand something you’ve never experienced. They told me my depression was my own selfishness. I can promise you depression is not selfishness.
    They are putting Jesus into a box and giving the studehts the idea that if you don’t wear skirts (females), and pray for 3 hours a day, best if done at 5am, that you aren’t a good enough Christian.
    Ellerslie could be powerful in so many ways but they chose to keep it a certain way and because of that they push people further away from the truth than bringing them closer.
    If they brought in 3 staff members that come from dark pasts, and dropped the belief that all women need to be princesses, and hugging isn’t a bad thing I believe Ellerslie could be an amazing school.
    When I say bringing in staff members with a dark past I am serious. Half the students who attend come from depression, divorce, eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, other addictions and so on. And I am not kidding when I say they almost all leave without anything being done about it. And those problems soon arise after leaving, and the strong Christians Ellerslie thinks they are creating soon fall away. Ellerslie needs to take a step back and focus on the students. The environment at Ellerslie is so intimidating that most students are afraid to mention their past. They don’t bring it up so they never talk through it. And Ellerslie thinks all sinful pasts are the same thing and that repentance will solve all the problems. I can promise you it doesn’t. That is why they need staff members who have gone through it who can actually talk the students through it. Who can relate to the students and help them let go of the past and move forward.

    • Thank you for sharing hareinert22. You’ve likely never heard of the group UBF (which we mostly talk about here). But many of your comments from Ellerslie could be directly applied to UBF.

      Except some differences between UBF and Ellerslie: 1) UBF is lifelong, not just a semester 2) UBF attracts those “dark past” sinners you speak of as leaders, and applies the same kinds of ideas you mention, trying to “repent their way into Heaven and morality” 3) UBF is Korean, so add in a layer of Korean issues

      Anyway you are welcome here. Many of our commenters can relate to what you say. We are all broken. We need love. We need the freedom to be who we are. And only the grace of God heals us.

      Grace and peace.

  9. Christian Anderson

    Brian, thank you for this post and the thoughtful manner in which it seems to be run. I have used my full name as I wish for anyone reading this from Ellerslie to know who has written it. I have been attending the Church at Ellerslie on and off for about 3 years now. Ever since my youngest son attended a semester there in the winter of 2011 I think. I sat in on as many of the classes as I could while my son was attending because I was so intrigued by the preaching of Eric Ludy. Both my sons have now gone through a semester at Ellerslie Training Center. What they call Basic Leadership Training. Both have come out knowing more about their Jesus and their faith than when they went in, however I don’t think they would disagree with the criticism that has been voiced here by the other attendees. I can say that my oldest son is a heavily tattooed, down to his fingers, large man with pierced ears who was treated with nothing but respect by Eric Ludy. As a father who know his son’s issues, I spoke to Eric on several occasions, giving him the freedom to say where he thought my boys needed to change, but he never had a bad or negative thing to say. I know my sons had issues with others there, but hey, that can and will happen at any Christian Training setting. In Ellerslie’s defense there is a fairly extensive student handbook you are required to read and agree to before you come, so no one can say there were too many rules. I was surprised my sons agreed to go after they read the handbook, and unfortunately rules were probably added after they left. It seems to be a place to be set apart from the world for a season to allow Christ to pour into you. Honestly I wish I had 9 weeks that I could attend and just bask in my Savior’s presence.
    I am attending church there on a regular basis now and will pass this post on to the leadership. Ellerslie Training is just beginning and will no doubt have many things to learn along the way. It is my hope and belief that they will hear and grow from what has been discussed here. I encourage past attendees to email the leadership and express their feelings in a respectful way.
    Thank you again for your respectful postings. It’s late for me so I hope this all makes sense.

    • Hi Christian, and thanks for sharing. I’m glad to hear some more insight.

      Most of the time when I hear Ludy’s sermons, my soul shouts yes! and amen! I hear echoes of Spurgeon (although I am in no way qualified to make such a comparison.)

      Eric’s sermon about “A cult leader’s worst nightmare” was so very helpful for me, having been in ubf ministry, an actual NRM (that is the polite new term, “new religious movement”).

      The teachings from Ellerslie were instrumental in helping me untangle my life from the bondage of pseudo-Christian ideologies. I was so inspired at one point that I created a blog called “lambhearted lion“.

      So the main reason I shared this article was to connect some of our readers here with Eric’s teaching. I was surprised to find that the article also became a safe place for a few Ellerslie people to share openly.

      I do hope Eric reads this and considers their remarks. I find such honest remarks to be most helpful in navigating my life journey.

      Grace and peace.

  10. This blog post really delves into the issue and fairlyand scripturately discusses Eric’s idea of “The Ellerslie Experiment”.

    I would highly recommend it. It was written by a good friend of mine, and a past staff intern at Ellerslie.

    • Thanks for sharing Jeremy. From what I can tell, ubf suffers from similar proof-texting ideas. You are welcome to share any of your experiences here, even though you probably never heard of ubf and most of us have zero knowledge of Ellerslie.