How Dare You Leave Our Church!

Below is an excerpt from Exposing Spiritual Abuse by Mike Fehlauer:

Painful Exit

In a controlling church, it is impossible to leave on good terms. Because the pastor’s sense of worth is usually based on the control he is able to exert over the congregation, when someone leaves, this insecure leader considers it an affront to his leadership. Therefore he often takes it personally. As a result, when people do leave, they are labeled rebellious, or the rest of the congregation is given the explanation that they left because they had become offended.

In an unhealthy church, there is never a good reason why anyone should leave. Regardless of the situation, the people who leave are always the “problem.”

Mr. Fehlauer hit the nail on the head on this issue.  We also noticed that the person/families who left were rarely discussed again – it was as if they disappeared – out of sight and out of mind.   They were not on friendly terms anymore, either.   Because the thought is, “how can you associate with someone who disagrees that our beloved pastor or our church is not the best pastor/church?  If they are in disagreement with what we believe, they must be our enemy and are treated as such”.


In contrast, I’m reminded of the church we left after having attended there 6 years.  We met with the elders and shared our concerns, agreeing to disagree and found another church.  Whenever we happen to run into the former pastor and/or church members even now after all these years, we are greeted with hugs, questions about the family, just as if we were family who went away.  Sure, they miss that we do not attend the same church as them, but they understand that sometimes there is a better fit elsewhere.  There is no animosity – no feelings that we are the enemy.  A healthy pastor cares about souls and wants people to be growing in the Lord, whether they are attending his church or somewhere else.  How wonderful that the Body of Christ is big enough that people can worship where they are being fed and growing in Christ.  Is that not the goal?

Administrative note:  I was informed that readers had to register in order to comment on this blog.  I have edited the settings to allow people to comment anonymously.  This is a sensitive issue that has affected many lives for many years and there have been lasting repercussions to those who have been bold enough to leave the church.  I want to make sure this blog is a safe place to post comments.  Using a pseudo name or posting anonymously is fine with me.

25 comments on “How Dare You Leave Our Church!

  1. All this is doing is like aggravating a mad dog.You'll end up getting bit.You need to leave this alone and get on with your life.He is not worth your time and effort.


  2. If you follow what Jesus did, He didn't leave the pharisees alone, He exposed them…This mad dog does need to be exposed according to Ephesians 5:11 But have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.


  3. I don't think you're the same "Anonymous" as the previous poster . . I agree with you. In fact, isn't that what he preached from the pulpit – to expose false teachers? He wrote blogs and preached sermons on exposing wolves . . . and I took good notes 🙂


  4. Well it's been 6 days since the post on google that you are going to be sued, please do let us know when/if you get served 'papers'~okay?While it is important to surrender and walk in the peace of our Lord, it is also our responsibility before God to warn others, that is expose the false teacher/wolves. I find it interesting that the pastors in Beaverton and Grace Fellowship know of the darkness of this man and have nothing to do with him. He has to 'speak' with pastors in southern California to get the 'ok' to pursue a lawsuit…which I even doubt whether this even happened or at best were given a partial explanation of the facts.God bless you and your day


  5. I've been checking my mailbox every day and nothing yet :)You are right – it does say something about the character of someone when godly men have nothing to do with him. My newest post on elitism might have something to do with this issue. I think we can now see clearly that they aren't having anything to do with him, yet probably when we were still "in", it was more "we are above them", sadly.Thanks for your comment 🙂


  6. Anonymous said, "All this is doing is like aggravating a mad dog.You'll end up getting bit."Sad but true. Doesn't sound very much like Jesus, does it? 1 Timothy 3:3 says elders are not to be pugnacious, but to be gentle and peaceable. 2 Timothy 2:24-25 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in oppostition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.Looking at his google reviews he sure doesn't display the above qualities.


  7. I see Churches like this all the time. At the end of the day it's always about money, follow the money and you will see a lot of it going to the preacher so that he can have a comfy lifestyle.


  8. I'm simply amazed, shocked, I don't know what else to say that the "pastor", spiritual leader of a church can act this way and christian people can't see how incredibly sinful and totally against anything we read in God's word this is.


  9. We lived in the northeast for 11 years, attending a very conservative church for 9 years. The first thing the pastor did every Sunday was tell the congregation what some other church had done wrong that week. One Sunday he stood in the pulpit throwing Bibles that were not King James over his shoulder because they were not considered "the true Word of God." Anytime someone visited another church, or changed churches, the family or individual was negatively preached about from the pulpit. My husband was a Deacon in the church, and was told by the Pastor that he would not "question" anything the pastor said was to occur, or question any of his statements/directions. The pastor would stand in the pulpit and tell the congregation he better "never see any of us at one of the other church yard sales." We would be supporting an ungodly church, and he wouldn't allow it. We finally started visiting another church, and sure enough, we were voted out one night in a called emergency meeting of the church members. We were branded heretics from then on. For years I questioned every church we visited, and still do so and it has been over 20 years since we left that area. We are truly conservative in our beliefs, but we are not legalistic. The pastor of that church wanted members to follow him… That was very hurtful.


  10. Cont’d 3Hopefully, as everyone moves forward with this issue…pause for a moment…just a moment and ask yourselves have you looked to Jesus on this issue, waited for an answer, and what did He say? There are souls at stake. Trust Jesus, stay in faith and be mindful not to take matters into your own hands, no matter how much it may burn. Because there is nothing like having Heaven back you up when the enemy has come against you. Keep in mind, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper, when the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him- not the spirit of man, what the enemy meant for evil, God will (and I say have) turn(ed) it into good. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” If you truly believe God then you will rest in Him no matter what. The just shall walk by faith and not by sight (Romans 1:17). No matter how bad things may appear around us, we must trust Jesus. When we do this, He will back us up, because we stand on His word, and He can do everything but fail. Sometimes, situations arise and we find ourselves in tribulation and we get the potential to be so caught up with being led by our emotions and not by the word (walking in the flesh and not the spirit) we forget and leave God out of it; when He is truly bigger than the problem. Jesus said in His word, in the world we shall have trouble, but be of good cheer; for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Only in Christ Jesus we overcome, we triumph, we win. But only if we are in His will and His will is His word. Stay focused, seek God for His guidance and understanding, and stand on the word of God. There is nothing like heaven backing you up, when you are in a battle. By standing on the word and trusting Jesus, angels are dispatched and commanded to activate on our behalf. “Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.” ~Psalm 104:20 Seek God, trust His instructions, speak the word, and watch Him move on your behalf. Seek the Lord in this matter, maybe a mediation could work for both parties to move on. Remember judgment will first begin at the house of God and it is He Who will separate the wheat from the tares and that means leaders also. JMOGod Bless


  11. Cont’d page 2I’m not one to come along and voice my opinion and attempt to tell people how they should share their hurt and pain in dealing with church abuse and disappointments. …The Lord knows I have experienced my share- even to this day. But I choose to worship, stay in faith, and seek Him for guidance. Because no matter what He does have the final authority. It may not feel like it while experiencing the hurt, shame, disappointments… But in the end He will have the last say, if we will look to Him, Who is so much bigger than the problem. Trust Him, continue to walk in His grace through faith, and enter into His rest. Then and only then will He back you up. We tie His hands when we take matters into our own hands and operate outside of His word. We know that God only responds to the ordinances of His word. If we do this, then we also know to fear not because there be more with us than against us (2 Kings 6:16,17) and if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 9:31). This does not mean to stay with a congregation that is abusive in any form, but to be sure that Jesus is the head of every decision- even in battles we face. Sometimes, we have to move on. Fighting and exposing a church takes the focus off the real battle. In the end, it is Jesus who will separate the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13). But if you feel you are led to fight this battle, then make sure it will give God glory. If it doesn’t then you have to question the motives and the expectant outcome.This same saying goes for the leaders of the church- especially them- because they should know better. Suing a disappointed, hurt, frustrated, disgruntled, scarred, etc., member or what have you is in extremely poor taste, is not scriptural, and I know is definitely not pleasing to God. If they are doing this, they are not being led by the word, but attempting to eliminate potential damage to reputation, etc. If Jesus was persecuted, are we much more or better than the Master? And if this behavior is not pleasing to God? Who is it pleasing to? If its themselves, then it is absolutely unacceptable; because this whole thing is not about them…or any one person, or group. It is about the Lord. If you are not in this for Jesus, then you might as well get on with your life, live like the world, and be like the world. If this is not about God for you, then you are wasting your time as well as God‘s. And in the end, He will tell you to depart from Him, because He never knew you. These actions only means that they have stopped looking to Jesus and is now walking in their own might; which is a very dangerous and destructive place to be. The word says, “there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death/destruction (Proverbs 14:12).


  12. Wow… I happen to come across this information on the website looking for something else totally different? While I haven’t read through the entire website, yet, what I have read is very sad and disturbing. And at the same time, relatable. We are truly living the last days; especially according to scripture 2 Timothy 3:1-5. This is absolutely speaking about the “Body of Christ” -the church. I can relate to a post I read where they’d mentioned when an individual or families leaves a church, the problem seem to always stem from the ones who left. Why is this such a common reason or explanation? The church I used to attend, I experienced the same explanations whenever people left and I would ask why? The reason would be, “They couldn’t handle the discipline.” I guess after I left, the same reason was probably given for me also? I can also relate to the shunning. It is obvious to me, this type of behavior is not subject to any one church, but it is experienced in congregations throughout. And the ones on the outside of the congregation are always viewed as rebellious, lack discipline, and are in disobedience? It’s also very apparent that the issues the Apostle Paul wrote about when he wrote to the church of the Corinths, the Romans, etc., we continue to experience these same issues today? While I can empathize and know that some of these issues can have lasting affects, I also know that if we are devout followers of Christ being “Christ-like” walking in His love and likeness, we also know that the word of God has the final authority in our lives- no matter what the situation is. As believers/Christians we also understand that judgment must and will begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). I would like to also refer to scriptures: James 3:14-18, Colossians 3: 8-16, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Of course, there is more covered in the bible regarding the subject on these scriptures; but these I chose to emphasis. My other concern with this issue of ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is it is real and happening in many churches. People are hurt because their trust have been violated. Being a member of a church is even greater than being in a relationship with someone; because it is supposed to be your connection to Christ. Many come from a dying and hurting world into a world to receive healing and deliverance, only to experience another kind of death and more hurt. And that is not how God intended for it to be. That is not the love of Jesus; for God is love (1 John 4: 16). The other issue with this ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is how can the church reach out to a dying and hurting world to save souls; while the world observes us -the church- hurt each other? This kind of fighting and bickering amongst ourselves looks bad to the world. No wonder many decide to stay where they are… This is also a plan of the enemy to keep the church in error amongst each other so our main focus, which should be the saving of souls, is void. We fight among each other and Satan wins this battle. Although we know he will lose the war. This battle, scripturally, is already won. But in the meantime, he will do what he can to slow the process and take as many as he can with him. We have to be mindful as Believers/Christians to not become Aiders and Abettors with this process.


  13. First of all, it is apparent that you have never found a church home to your liking. You emphasize the mobility of yourself in relation to previous churches which you claim to have positive relations with.Paul and other Apostles had much to say about those who go from congregation to congregation and end up being dividers instead of healers.Second…if you had as many problems with this church as you claim then the church would not have any members since the supposed problems you claim exist would be apparent to all.Third. Frankly it looks like a self trumpeting method of indulging your own pride and vanity since every support quote you list on your site describes exactly what you yourself are attempting to do. Castigate a man and church just because you refuse to acknowledge true Biblical fundamentals for living a Spirit filled and directed life.The Body of Christ will not be divided by attempts such as yours, instead I hope and pray that you repent and find the path back to humility and graciousness.


  14. Bill – I don't publish our whole story so you are only speculating on bits and pieces. If you really want to understand, all you have to do is ask.


  15. Julie Anne, I stumbled on your blog today –as a pastor, blogs that are "against" a church put a chill in me (as you might understand). However, as I read some of your posts, I was intrigued. So I looked up the the church and the pastor in question. Not being an eye-witness, I can obviously not know the truth of all that happened (and I don't see how it would help matters for me to be too nosey). However, I can see by your tone that are a reasonable person. Something must have happened! I can also see that the pastor is very defensive (all pastors have critics –Tozer advised never defending one's self as a pastor; now I see why. not attractive). With this in mind, I'm not sure who Bill his or why he has a dog in this fight, but I come to a different conclusion than he does. I see no evidence that you need to repent –even as a hunch, we believers should be careful and sure before we ask others to repent (a relationship helps too). just saying…..Merry Christmas.


  16. Mike, thanks much for stopping by and commenting. I can certainly understand the chill you might feel reading this as a pastor. I told my current pastor that I don't have a habit of leaving negative Google reviews and starting blogs about abusive pastors – lol. He told me he doesn't have hidden recording devices in his office. I was relieved 🙂 Merry Christmas to you, too!


  17. Pingback: Dare to Leave: One Family’s Tragic Account | Spiritual Sounding Board

  18. Pingback: My Story – Key Blog Posts | Spiritual Sounding Board

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