Going Back to Church Again, Recovery Process, Spiritual Abuse

The Difficult Sundays after Spiritual Abuse


What does church look like for you after spiritual abuse? Do you still go? What do you do on Sundays?

photo credit: PMillera4 via photopin cc


Sometimes I don’t feel like going to church at all, but end up going because of my kids or commitments I’ve made. But if I were without children/commitments, I wonder where I would be on those difficult Sundays. Would I stay home? Would I meet with others? Would I try a new church?

What about the guilt? What if your spouse has not experienced spiritual abuse and wants you to go to church, then what?

I found this on Boz Tchividjian’s Facebook page this morning.

“Jesus comes not for the super spiritual, but for the wobbly and the week-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.” B. Manning

How are you doing today?



190 thoughts on “The Difficult Sundays after Spiritual Abuse”

  1. Well this hits way too close to my heart. I just spent time with God on my front porch, in lieu of going to church. Since the journey through spiritual recovering began recently, after reeling from the Vision Forum and IBLP>ATI disaster, which my family was smack dab in the middle as years of wounds are ripped open, I am without a church. Several years ago I went through a health scare and the overwhelming fear….no church for my funeral! How sad it that! I didn’t want to die cause I didn’t have a church to have my funeral. I am finding much support here and at the Recovering Grace website, but the weekly reminder that I have no church at this stage of life is very painful. Even worse is the example before my children that church is optional. Separating churchianity and worship is very difficult right now..But I rest in knowing that God knows my desires and my hurts and my heart. When he leads me to a church I hope I will be willing to follow and not be frozen with fear.For now my front porch will need to be my safe haven to meet and worship Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will never go to another church building to find relationships or to find God..
    People put on their church faces and when trouble comes, they run the other way. If you are not in agreement with culture of the church you are attending, you will be an outcast anyway. God is not in churches.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still can’t go. I’m hanging in at home and just going at my own pace for now, connecting with people I know who believe similarly online and in person, but avoiding the physical church at this time for the time being. I just have a very difficult time with it all after 25 years of spiritual abuse non-stop. It’s panic inducing to go on a bad day, and sends me into tears on any other. :/
    This is definitely a “wilderness” time, but I think that’s OK. Not because I want it to be, but it is what it is for now. I’m hopeful that I will be able to return eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb – I understand that pain you describe. I have felt it before, too. Do your children understand what is going on? That brings up another question – – how do we deal with this when we have children? Do we share with them our frustrations? How much do we share?


  5. My husband and I are gearing up for the toughest season of our lives in the next few weeks. Knowing what is coming, we choose to spend our Sunday mornings in a meadow in the mountains worshiping God. I am in desperate need for the peace that I find during those times. Right now going to a traditional church just isn’t an option. And now I am off to my beloved meadow…


  6. I haven’t regularly gone to church for some time. Not because of spiritual abuse (although I’ve seen way more than enough “long time back”) but because I was making the church I was going to an idol.

    Julie Anne….

    As I was reading the post, I was reminded of 2 Cor. 6:3-10 (or so). In the NIV, it starts out “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.”

    It seems to me that when spiritual abuse happens, we put out a stumbling block. When we forget to love, we put out a stumbling block. When we don’t bother learning what love truly means, we put out a stumbling block…


  7. JA, my children are almost grown ages 26-17, but the last 10 years they have watched the struggle, as their dad was spiritually abused by a pastor (PCA) (who used private counseling information to discredit my husband. This caused hubby to spiral into depression, believing the evaluation of this narcissistic pastor must be accurate. As shepherd of our flock he sat down in the field and refused to participate in any spiritual life of our family. We were heavily into ATI/VISION Forum, so this was a total shock to all of us.
    We have slowly over the last 10 years left those groups, but carried the guilt/failure that we could not live up to the “perfect” families we saw at our conferences. Then the ATI/VF disasters ripped open the wounds. 3 kids are off at college and are spiritually confused. #4 has not been in church for years. We have lived the extremes and have failed miserably to raise them to know GOD.


  8. we learned in the ugliest way exactly how faithful our church was to us when we went through a season of trial and sickness that kept us away from church for almost 6 months. we had been faithful part of the core leadership and teaching team for 3 years, burning ourselves to the core in service, because we believed in this church. 4 Sundays was how long they stuck with us. my husband ceased to receive notifications for the church board meetings after 2 meetings he was not able to make because i was sick and someone had to take care of the kids. We are finally in the position to return and the first Sunday, everyone was incredulous to see us. They truly believed we had left the church using illness and trials as a pretext. second Sunday back, people who I had considered dear to me are greeting me like I was a returning visitor. third sunday, and they are still surprised to see us. I dont think our church relationship will be able to recover from this opening of our eyes.


  9. As I write, forcing myself to get ready to visit another church that I know will not work for me — because my husband still seems to want to find a place to be on Sunday morning . . .


  10. We have not been “going to church” for 5 or 6 years now. Our experiences are not due to deep spiritual abuse, but more to seeing how power corrupts people. My husband struggles off and on about not going, but honestly, I have a peace about not going at all. My oldest (17) has seen enough hypocrisy in church people to not care about going at this time. My youngest (13) has expressed a desire to go, but I think that he wants more of a social experience.

    This Sunday my husband is off taking pictures of a gorgeous waterfall. I will be working (yay retail!) and my kids will spend time with friends. I refuse to believe that because we will not be in church today that we will not experience God in some way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bridget, that’s tough. I never enjoyed BGBC and it was very tough going to church. Sometimes the only time I felt I could connect with anything spiritual was at the piano playing hymns and praise songs.


  12. Julie Anne

    You write…
    “How are you doing today?”

    Today I’m-a-doin-great. Thanks for askin…;-)

    Then again – I’ve NOT been part of “Today’s Religious System” for years. 😉

    This Sun Morn I’m hangin out in Barnes & Nobles with good coffee and 4-6 nice folks I met here at B&N over the last couple of years. And, Blogging and talkin to you. 😉


  13. Julie Anne

    But – Back when I first left “The Religious System” it was tough. And it wasn’t just Sun Morn. We met on Wed nites and Fri nites also. Then Prayer meetings , Mens meetings, Leaders meetings, 4-6 day Confrences during the week. My whole life was pretty much wrrapped up in “The Religious System.”
    And, what I am supposed to “DO.”

    I went from “Full Speed Ahead” to STOP – Now what do I “DO?”

    It’s a much longer story, disapointments with churches, pastors, church leaders, Para-church groups. Everything I tried seemed to blow up in my face. Then, for over two years I was very depressed and very mad at God. Go to work, go home, cry a lot, and Shake my fist at God.

    For over two years I did NOT “DO” anything for God. Could NOT really read or study the Bible, Pray, Praise, Worship, Go To Church. Felt like I had failed God somehow and now he was done with me. Finished. 😦

    BUT GOD – And I can NOT explain it – BUT GOD – One Day…
    Filled me with His LOVE. And I knew, God Loved MEEEEE… 😉
    NO strings attached. Loved me just the way I was. And I was a mess…

    BUT GOD – Loved me – And I did NOT have to ”GO” or “DO” anything…
    I did NOT have to “GO” to a building with a steeple…
    I did NOT have to “GO” to a building with a Paid Proffessional Pastor…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… For Jesus…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… The right way, The correct way…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… Just “BE”…

    And learning that Jesus LOVES ME whether I “DO” anything, or NOT…
    Is worth it all… ALL the Pain and Tears… 🙂

    Seems I’m to be a human-being. NOT a human-doing… 😉

    Jesus just loves me. Strengths, Weaknesses, Character Defects, Sins and ALL.


  14. I have not gone back to church in 15 years. I stopped because of my health issues, since I wasn’t supposed to drive and my husband (now ex) refused to take me even when I pleaded with him. Now that we’re no longer together, I still don’t go for several reasons. My ex took both vehicles, leaving me without any transportation at all, and my church was not near the public bus routes, and the church did not have a bus ministry. Then there with a huge upheaval in the church, where some deacons conspired to overthrow and remove our beloved pastor, so that the instigating deacon could assume that position himself. When our pastor was voted out, 2/3 of the members also left, never to return.

    I found a new church I wanted to join, but it also was not on any public bus route. I contacted the pastor by email to ask if they offered a bus ministry. They do not. I then asked if anyone attending there livd near me who could agree to take me. He never returned my email.

    Now that the Southern Baptist denomination has been overrun by the calvinistas, I renounce my affiliation with them. I am now a christian with no church home. I stay at home alone, read my bible, take care of my pets, watch tv and research everything I can online about abuse in churches.


  15. JA, Thank you for opening up this growing dilemma. I hope to see a lot of responses, because this is a crucial issue. I was raised in a mainstream church, came to Christ in college, married and raised our son in church. Over the last 2 decades, I have watched how worship has turned into big business, how the Bible is now a weapon to attack and control others, and pastors have gone from being shepherds to authors. Church money is used to build a more “relevant” and “profitable” church culture and marketing to the public has replaced the Great Commission. Now who visits the sick? Who cares for the disenfranchised? Where can you find people who offer mercy before they judge? I have no answers and am still seeking and have not attended church or “Bible Studies” in 3 years. My husband and I do Centering Prayer with a group at a local Catholic Church. (We are not Catholic) The group is mostly elderly and have a heart for the suffering world. They do not judge, but extend God’s love to all. It is a new start or us, but I miss being more involved in worship. What does God have planned for his crumbling churches? I have no answers. I am sad.


  16. Having been emotionally wounded by a very conservative denomination (SBC), I have found such comfort, peace, and the evident presence of God in The Episcopal Church. But I certainly agree with Patti above: “I will never go to another church building to find relationships or to find God.” I don’t think God wants that, either.


  17. Reading these comments is somewhat theraputic for me. But JA brings up the big question: What about your children? Not so hard if they are young but when they are preteen, etc it becomes very hard. Mine are very attached to the old people at church and even the young kids as they work VBS, etc. For the most part, the church we chose after the horrors of spiritual abuse was pretty good. It was run by congregation, committees of pew sitters developed the budget that everyone voted on (a big criterion for me). It was totally transparent and the pastor viewed himself as simply one of the Priesthood.

    But I saw what happened slowly like a frog boiling. The committees started hiring SBTS grads who swore up and down their doctrine would not divide but unite (they beleived them) and within a year the divisions are becoming very clear. There is an undercurrent of frustration, distrust, etc. Even the teens see it.

    It is so obvious to me but not to many what is going. When ever the frustration level reaches too high there is miraculously a move of the Holy Spirit ala John Piper style. But most people are not keeping up with what is going on in evangelicalism so it is the “foot hanging out of the garbage can” they cannot see, ( I loved that illustration several threads ago!!!)

    So, it is on track to implode and become top/down hierarchical without people really realizing it. The older folks are much better at recognizing it but they are comling less and less due to age. It is the younger folks who are buying into the tyranny and hierarchy. (Not a good sign for our country, btw)

    So we are tettering on the brink of figuring out what to do while involved less and less. I cannot even listen to sermons anymore (our pastor left and now interim who cries every sermon)

    The bigger picture for me is that the institutions are a real problem. They exist to maintain themselves. And that is a whole other topic that has many implications some don’t even think about.

    In my city, SBC churches have become job programs for SBTS grads who are prolific but not enough churches so they just keep planting them and paying them more than the average person makes in our city. Some of these are Acts 29 and have even hired some of the Mars Hill former employees after Chandler took over. How they can afford them I cannot imagine.

    The church plants cannot really support them so the SBC does? No one can get good information on this. And all SBC church plants are New Calvinists because the church planting guy is a Mohler guy. Now these SBTS people who cannot find jobs are infiltrating Methodist churches.

    I read about a church in NYC that is only fellowship around meals. It was really interesting. All sorts, rich/poor, all nationalities, etc. That concept resonated with me.


  18. SBTS grads who swore up and down their doctrine would not divide but unite

    Lydia, I bet dollars to donuts he meant exactly what he said. But what (I assume) was not said was that the unity his doctrine would bring would be the forced conformity of top down hierarchical authoritarianism where divergence is punished, not the Spirit wrought unity that has one-anothering at its heart.

    Now these SBTS people who cannot find jobs are infiltrating Methodist churches.

    I don’t even know what to do with this…


  19. Barnabas, How can it “divide” when it is the “true Gospel”? See where that goes? And they are set up as the “ones with knowledge”. And it usually starts in the youth groups.

    But the typical pew sitter who is not keeping up has no clue what to even look for or how it is done. I wish I could get everyone to read the 4th Chapter of Quiet Revolution. Frankly, the SBTS grad is not even aware of what they are doing in most cases. Indoctrination is a curse. Thinking is the only anecdote.


  20. Stephanie, Good luck with that as they grow up. When they become teens and they transition from concrete to abstract thinking and are determined to think for themselves as a sign of independence, that becomes harder. I think the best thing is to talk things through in terms of asking questions and trying to apply logic and reasoning. (I think logic and reasoning is from God but I realize some don’t)

    Keeping those lines of communication open is key, I think. Trying to make them live in a bubble of protection can backfire. Especially when they go to college. Raising them to be independent thinkers is about the only way I can see having a chance to navigate what they come in contact with when they leave us. Quite frankly, I have seen some go way off the rails in college with such groups as Cru. It just depends. This stuff is everywhere so them being able to recognize it early on is key.


  21. We are currently between churches. I knew it was going to be a challenge, to say the least, to find another one. My husband was not quite prepared for what we’ve been finding out here so he’s struggling and discouraged about the state of the church in general. I’ve been pretty well apprised of things through the various blogs and so am not surprised at the situation. But it is a crying shame how many churches there are that get caught up in going along to get along, like they need some big shots to hold their hands and provide “the solution” to their growth problems, or whatever. And how few (that aren’t totally bizarre) that will remain Christ centered instead of Christ + the latest doctrinal/cultural/methodolical fad.

    It’s been an interesting and I believe good time here on the outside. I know God has been with us. He is the one who brought us to this place, in fact. Neither of us is in the place of thinking we will not find another church home (though I am open to that, if that is how God leads). We are expecting at this point that He will bring us someplace. But I can see how He is working in us in the meantime.

    Joelfrederick mentioned idolizing the church and I think I know what he means. I can see how we have both done that ourselves. We are learning to really lean on Jesus now, just like we’ve sung about for years and years….

    I don’t know how this will turn out, but I do have a lot of peace about where we are right now.


  22. Barnabas, How can it “divide” when it is the “true Gospel”?

    Exactly! Therefore,

    1) Those who disagree must be the problem — and the unbelievers.

    Frankly, the SBTS grad is not even aware of what they are doing in most cases.

    I was thinking that too. In the Ivory Towers it makes sense. It’s in real life application that it fails FUBARically (I made that up 🙂 ). But if you admit that, then — see point 1.


  23. “I was thinking that too. In the Ivory Towers it makes sense. It’s in real life application that it fails FUBARically (I made that up 🙂 ). But if you admit that, then — see point 1.”

    This is it!! It does not work in real world application without hierarchy where they control dissent. That is what indoctrination does to people. And it is an exercise in frustration for everyone that usually goes quite bad with spiritual abuse and church splits. What they end up with are stepford pew sitters who give them money. And that is what they want.

    ===>No sinning by questioning.


  24. I left a church awhile back and thought I would be ill when Sunday came. I actually felt sick. I wanted to cry – not because I wanted to go back, but its what I did. I was there many, many times throughout the week in many capacities – but I felt as though I lived among Stepford wives, the incompetent board of elders was hurting people beyond measure, I was all Calvined out, and it became harder to stay than to go. Not an easy journey and I think this is a wonderful thread. God is not afraid of our questions – people may be, but He’s got this. Where two or three are gathered…


  25. WaitingfortheTrumpet2, If you live anywhere near Saginaw, MI let me know. My church does not have a bus ministry and there is no public transportation on Sunday in our area. BUT, there are many who would be more than happy to pick you up including myself. I pick up an elderly lady who no longer is allowed to drive every Sunday. I still have room in my car and would love to see it filled.

    Back to JA’s question. I didn’t attend for 15 years and have been back full time for 4 years. Not finding a church that I could feel comfortable with all those years was the worst thing that I could have done for my children. Two of the 3 do not believe there is a God. I pray that God will intervene and bring them to repentance and follow Him before it is too late. I didn’t just turn away from a church body, I turned away from God.


  26. I would love a community of believers and seekers who gather and wrestle with the hard questions together. Even if there are no black and white answers, a willingness to share our questions, doubts and hope as a community, I think, would better reflect Christ. In the serving of one another, we can experience Christ. Instead, we seek a church that will give us “all the answers”. These so called “answers” are limited by a person’s culture, life experiences, and passage of time. Serving one another is timeless and not culture bound. Serving one another doesn’t require following “the party line”. I for one, appreciate hearing of others’ struggles and questions.


  27. A Amos–beautiful. Just BEAUTY. and TRUTH. “I am a human BEING, not a human DOING.”

    JA-this is SO timely. Today? I went to church (a different church), even though the spiritual abuser reared his ugly head Friday/Saturday. Even though I am feeling the fear, again, the uncertainty. What words do I use to convey what happened to ME? (someone currently at that church has asked, therefore the pastor has been “tipped off” so to speak.)

    Today? I need prayers for wisdom. For God to fill me with courage, to give me wisdom whether to speak, and if to speak, what words to use. To convey the truth….in love, joy, peace patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Abuse is a very strong word. But after several months of reflection, study, it is the correct word.


  28. Even on Twitter and SSB Facebook page, the topic of this discussion is touching people:


  29. Btw, the above link is from Dale Ingraham of Speaking Truth in Love blog. He and his wife run ministries dealing with sexual abuse. He’s a great guy (and pastor) I’ve had the privilege of networking with. I met him in Portland when he came to town and I was touched that both he and Jeff Crippen (also at the meeting) really understood and wanted to help those who have been hurt by spiritual abuse. They both understand the secondary nature of spiritual abuse when pastors do not appropriately deal with abuse issues.


  30. The problem is opinionated people. I came from a family gathering yesterday where somehow someone thought I had a tattoo. When my mother was horrified, I reminded her that even if I did have a tattoo, there is nothing wrong with that as a christian. Everyone was quick to say, “Oh, you are right.” Then two sentences later, it was, “I don’t believe in tattoos.” The same thing happens in the church. Unimportant things that might be personal opinions (usually are) start to be voiced by individuals and leaders and no one has the guts to stand up to them and say, “That is not in the Bible!” It then creates a church that should be focused on serving, loving, and being together into a church of judgement and “doing” the right thing. I agree with A. Amos, it is not about “doing” but “being” in a relationship with Christ. Churches that are constantly reminding us of what we must “do” to be a good Christian are dangerous. We must be saved by grace and realize that all our works are as filthy rags. After that, we might “do” christian things, but it is because we want to out of a gratitude to Christ and a love for people–NOT because we want to draw attention to our goodness.

    Individuals, like Kevin Swanson, love to focus on perceived “sin” or “evil” in individuals and groups, but totally ignore the gospel message. Usually, the holier an individual claims to be or appears to be, the more wretched he is on the inside. That is why Jesus came down so hard on the pharisees.

    I pray that all of you can find a fantastic group of believers that are loving, honest, and realize how much they are forgiven of through Christ.


  31. Waitingforthetrumpet2, I have many family members in your area. It would take about 2 phone calls to find you a ride to church. JA has my contact information if you would like it.


  32. After we first left the church we were hurt by, I hated church…but, my husband is a pastor, had just finished school to become one and wasn’t feeling called out of ministry. I begged him to find a different job and he did for almost a year. It was a really great break for me.

    Looking back now, I’m thankful for that. I think I would’ve walked away and never looked back if it wasn’t his job. Not on God, but on His people. It has turned me into this overly sensitive person though. And even though we are in a healthy church (as healthy as it will be full of real people) I think I will always struggle with feeling like it’s home and like I’m safe there. It’s been 8 years since we left that first church and I still struggle to trust people. The feelings of betrayal cut so deep that it sometimes unravels relationships that are otherwise good because I don’t believe that those people really care about me and that they’ll turn on me at their first opportunity. I hate admitting all of that. I want to be content with our church home…and support my sweet husband. Some days it is a struggle to get there on Sunday and I am relieved when one of my kids is sick and I have to stay home with them. Ugh. Life is messy. Thankful for God’s Word on days when stuff doesn’t make sense.


  33. Even as I fled a spiritually abusive pastor and his enablers, I knew that for me, regular church attendance was still something I wanted. But joining a congregation, making myself vulnerable, trusting a pastor as a spiritual advisor, even trusting church people as friends…that may take a while, and may indeed never happen.

    When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries one of the effects on the common people (who knew nothing of its larger political or religious ramifications) was simply the destruction of their calendar: the loss of the system of festivals, holy days and celebrations that organized their lives and communities. When my church relationship ‘dissolved’ I felt similarly: what to do without the regular routine of Sundays and Wednesdays, of Easter program followed by VBS followed by church camp and then back-to-school…a comforting cycle that had bounded most of my years.

    In the midst of that disruption I genuinely feel better keeping my lifelong routine of getting up on Sunday morning and going to church. For now, I’m visiting around, and enjoying experiencing a variety of churches as an observer. I like seeing how different churches organize their service, print their bulletins, ask for prayer. Plenty of churches around here, so I could keep visiting for a long time!

    It’s a bit strange to enter new places every Sunday, particularly alone. But after a few times it isn’t so daunting. I come and go quietly, focusing on the worship and the message, and hoping that the greeting-of-the-visitors isn’t too aggressive. But I refuse to allow that ugly pastor to take church attendance from me completely. And perhaps in time there will be a place where I am comfortable enough to linger.


  34. We have been members of CLC, of SGM, for decades. With all the upheaval of the sex abuse cover ups, CJ, etc., a lot of what I was struggling with began to make sense. I often felt worse after church and care group. Some of it was my own sin (comparing myself with others, making the church an idol, bitterness, etc.) but I released it wasn’t all my fault. The cliquishness – the leaders and their friends made up the inner circle, the homeschoolers, etc.

    Though I had homeschooled for several years, God showed us that He had other plans for our kids. Two went to the church school, where they were made to feel different because they didn’t fit in with the standard CLC kids, one went to public school, which was the best place for her (horrors of horrors, a Christian in public school!). One leader’s wife actually said that a person she knew didn’t homeschool because she didn’t have enough faith!

    When I was hospitalized for 9 days, and a slow recovery at home for several weeks, I didn’t have one visitor, phone call, email, or text from anyone in my care group. My non-Christian friends were more caring than the church, though one pastor was wonderful. In CLC’s eyes, our problems would be resolved if we just read this one book, went to this one class. What I was needing was genuine care and love. If you weren’t one of the popular ones in the care group, you were only given superficial attention. We spent a half an hour praying for a couple’s cruise vacation! When I would mention struggles with something, I was given a cursory, “We’ll pray for you”. When my father died, no one expressed their sympathy. When someone else’s father died, we all brought meals, etc. My husband was wrongly accused of a serious sin, verbally attacked by two women he hardly knew in front of a previous care group and no one had the guts to defend him and confront their aggressiveness.

    Since the crises of these last few years, we have stopped attending. I first felt guilty but now I feel freedom and believe God is using this time for spiritual healing, detoxing, and bringing me back to Him and His love without the distractions of the heavy-handedness of preaching more on our sinfulness and very little of His love. It’s still a day-to-day struggle to forgive. My biggest regret is not leaving sooner.


  35. Thank you, Mandy. I sent an email to Julie Anne so that we could connect with each other by email.


  36. With the amount of response on this thread, I’m wondering about reserving Sundays (which typically can be a tough day) for this purpose. The purpose of this blog is to be a safe place to sound off about spiritual abuse and related issues, so having this regularly on Sunday might be helpful. Thoughts?


  37. I love your comment, L.J. I think it’s great to be able to try out a variety of churches. I was glad that my daughter had the opportunity to try out a bunch of churches when her college choir went on tour. What a great experience for her.

    One thing I really dislike about trying new churches is our family can never go incognito – – we’re large in number and great in height and cannot be a bug on a wall – lol. Oh well.


  38. I listened to Janet Mefferd interview theologian NT Wright online recently. He was explaining the “nones.” They are unchurched by choice, and they are not seekers. What distinguishes them from the “churched”? They desire 3 things: authenticity, community, and social action. Imagine that.

    Since I became a none a few years ago, I ask God to show me “Good Church” every Sunday. it looks different every week. Today my son and I helped an older couple (believers) work on building their house. No other believers in sight helping, today or any other day. We left Good Church tired, smiling and more enveloped in the kingdom than ever. God is good.


  39. Well…the spiritual devastation that came to me isn’t usually recognized/validated as “spiritual abuse” (and there is therefore not much help for recovery out there, either)… But every time someone invites me to church, which is often…I refuse. The main reason, but not the only one, is that there’s a very good chance that at some point, I’ll run right out of the building screaming, hands over my ears…


  40. Julie Anne, if you’re in Portland I highly recommend Door of Hope in inner NE. We love it, after having been burned elsewhere.


  41. We have lived the extremes and have failed miserably to raise them to know GOD.

    Deb – I just reread your comment and this part really struck me. How do you handle the guilt? I’m dealing with that part. I think that many of us who were part of the Homeschool Movement (which was based on so much legalism instead of relationship) got caught in that trap. Another easy trap to get into was dad as spiritual head. I always trusted that my husband knew more spiritually than me (or I was supposed to let him take over spiritually) and so I didn’t do much with the kids spiritually. I regret that because the focus was on doing vs who we are in Christ.


  42. RediscoveringHisLove,

    Thanks for sharing your experience at CLC. You describe exactly what I read at SGMSurvivors years ago. The care group had a wonderful opportunity to help your family during your hospitalization and recovery and yet they missed it because you were not part of the “in” group. That makes me sick. I’m glad you are free from this facade of Christianity. But at what a price!

    but now I feel freedom and believe God is using this time for spiritual healing, detoxing, and bringing me back to Him and His love without the distractions of the heavy-handedness of preaching more on our sinfulness and very little of His love.

    Love this!


  43. I still try to go, right now more of out of habit, and because of my two small children. Honestly, I think it’s more to have somewhat of a social connection with others for myself and my eldest. So sick and tired of the atmosphere at the FIC that I won’t go back, currently attending an IFB (yes, I know that’s “night and day” theologically, but there really does not seem to be much to choose from in this neck of the woods).

    My husband rarely goes, because he’s seen so much abuse and nonsense out of both that he doesn’t want to hear either anymore. Used to be we had to balance one service on Sunday for “doctrine” and the other for “fellowship”, no it’s just hoping and praying for either/or.

    The only thing keeping me in the IFB church right now is having met someone for the first time in a long time who actually seems to understand what “Titus 2” actually means.

    Praying earnestly for a move back to where there are more of a spiritually sound environment. 😦


  44. Our family has chosen (by Gods direction) to stay at home; and to tell you the truth we are at peace with it. At first I struggled with guilt, but that is waning. The thing I have noticed is how much as a family we are enjoying each other and being active. My husband and I have grown closer in this time alone.
    I don’t think I want to trade this for sitting in a pew and listening to sermons I have listened to over and over. Also the Father has put some people in my life that I, as a conservative, have had to come to grips with how as a Christian do I deal with these certain issues- like transgender individuals. This has been tough for me -if I was in the church I probably would have avoided dealing with this person loved by God. Jesus has called me to love not shun and I am ashamed of the past of how I would have avoided them. These times have been a learning experience for me and my family; listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and trusting in His voice to bring us where He would like us to be. I realize that every believers journey is different however and God works in each one in many creative ways.
    The struggle I have right now is separating believers from the institution called church and feeling that I want to be isolated from everything to do with church. It is just a journey and the Lord Jesus is working on me 😊. I hope to one day get back in some sort of fellowship, but different from a quote “church” setting.
    A great book that has helped me understand Gods desire for His children is a book called “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by Wayne Jacobson. He also co-authored “The Shack”.
    Loved hearing everyone else comments😊.


  45. I talked to a customer today who homeschools. He went on and on about his wonderful conversation he had with Mike Smith from HSLDA at the recent homeschool convention. On and on about states infringing upon homeschoolers’ freedoms. I used the opportunity to talk about how wonderful it is to homeschool in Oregon because the state is accepting of homeschooling and has some regulation.

    While we may not have agreed on HSLDA (not that I even brought that up) at least we could agree upon how wonderful it is to homeschool in Oregon and in the Portland area.


  46. We have not attended church much for almost 5 years. Before that we attended regularly for 30 years. For a while I told friends that church/religion was dangerous to my spiritual health. I still believe that, but ache for the sweet fellowship and good teaching. Fortunately, we have enough good Christian friends from the good old days that we do experience fellowship, but it is not the same as having a church home. It is really hard to find a church where we live. I look forward to visiting my daughter who lives in Chicago. I have always been blessed when we go to her church.

    I think an online Christian Fellowship on Sunday’s would be great


  47. Another thought. If we did an online church/bible study or whatever, we could choose a topic, book of the bible, verse, a week ahead of time, study it, then comment on it on Sunday.

    I like what the Jewish faith calls it. Learning. When the Rabbi does a bible study with one or more people it is called Learning. I like that. Everybody is Learning.

    Julie Anne, this is an exciting idea for those of us who are squeamish about attending church or church hopping trying to find one.


  48. LJ,
    Good for you. You along with your God are stronger than the bad church experience you had. I like what you are doing–visiting around. As you grow stronger walking in alone. One day you will say, this feels like home, at least home enough until we go to our real home with Jesus. Your testimony is encouraging.


  49. Hi Julie Anne, I am struck by the sadness of the commenters on this thread. What a shame. I feel for every one of you who are experiencing negative feelings because of your experience in church.
    It’s ironic that, as a new ‘None’, I was never hurt by any experience in the church. It helps that I was always a member of a very liberal denomination. The core beliefs are based on inclusion, acceptance, and encouraging social harmony. It’s just that I no longer believe in any kind of ‘holy spirit’. As I sat in church last night for our Anniversary Service, it struck me that it’s odd, the fact that I don’t feel like a hypocrite (as I well SHOULD!), believing instead in the communion of neighbours, friends and family whose beliefs vary on the spectrum. The conversation I had in the p.m helped. Someone mentioned that their neighbour growing up – a steadfast Elder in a nearby denomination; a very pious individual who never smoked, drank, cussed or did anything to suggest he was anything but a good person to most people – exhibited prejudice in private against a family of African descent living in the community. This person said that, as a teenager growing up, she looked at him and thought, “If he’s a Christian, I’ll never be one!”. What I’m hearing on this thread from the good people who comment is that suggestion that perhaps you are QUIET Christians, the ones who really take the message of Jesus to heart. (Assuming, of course, that the Jesus in the Bible was actually the real person who walked the earth – it’s another contentious issue. . . ) I think private time with your families, surrounded by love and affection, mutual respect, and experiencing joy in nature is worthy of all kinds of praise – you go for it!
    Anyway, just my two cents on this gorgeous morning here in the Maritimes; I’m off to enjoy the day! Hope you all enjoy yours!


  50. (Assuming, of course, that the Jesus in the Bible was actually the real person who walked the earth – it’s another contentious issue. . . )

    Without the trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is no Christianity. These 3 as one are Christianity. Seeking God through His son, Jesus is everything. The Holy Spirit gives me direction and shows me where I need to ask forgiveness and works on my heart. Jesus has always been controversial. There have always been many who did not believe who he was and is. If God is not in the building, there is no church. You may as well stay home.

    Whether it is a pastor, elder, SS teacher or the person who just comes in and sits in the pew every Sunday morning, there are no perfect people. If we are honest with ourselves, we all have a prejudice of some kind or another. We all need God working on our hearts. We will always need work until the day that Jesus comes again and transforms us into new beings. Those who believe and trust in Him in this life will be perfected in eternity.


  51. We left the last church we were members of over a year ago. We were still learning to think clearly regarding God and to clear away damage done by the patriarchy movement – namely VF and Doug Phillips, as well as being a member of the CPC denomination. The members of that church were so cliquey that no matter how hard we tried to be a part of the church family, nothing happened. It was the women, the men, and the children. My kids made NO friends; including my oldest who is super social and can make friends with anyone. The last straw came when not once, but twice, when my husband greeted people in the hallway on Sunday morning, they ignored him and walked the other way. We were and still are so incredibly hurt. The church never reached out to see why we were not attending, except to send a letter about 9 months later saying that since we hadn’t been attending, we would be removed from membership.

    Our oldest daughter refers to it as “the church where people did not know we existed.”

    We have tried one church since then. One. Neither my husband nor I are interested in trying a new one at this time. I feel guilt because “don’t good Christian parents take their children to church?” At the same time, it is going to be like moving a mountain to find a church in our area where Jesus is reflected.

    Church is hard for us.


  52. Carmen,

    You are right there is much sadness. But not sure that is a bad thing. My sadness is more from the point of view how many of us swallowed lies to be part of a group. I am overjoyed to be out of that now. I am sad because most of my family is totally immersed in protecting the instiution and gurus.

    The absolute biggest lie I saw in my experience is that it is a normal life for Christians (mostly leaders) to treat others unjustly because well, sinners sin. They can’t help it. So the whole issue comes down to what degree of sin. The accusation then is that one has to believe in sinless perfection to dare believe that Christians don’t have to be in consistent sin.

    They ignore the fact that sin includes the corrupted body as well as corrupted earth. There are so many Christians out there claiming we cannot know ourselves. That we do things all the time with no self control and sin. I just don’t buy it. That makes Christianity an unsafe place and people little more than often out of control robots. And it is an excuse for the celebs who use Christianity for personal gain.

    Someone tweeted the other day: God wants honesty not Christianity. I tend to agree with that assessment.

    A big part of it is what is taught as “normal” Christianity in evangelicalism– is not true. But many take comfort in hearing that they cannot help but sin all the time. They live the cross but ignore the resurrection. The entire NT was written to beleivers. We have had 2000 years to get it right but seem to always be going backwards. The ones who threw off the shackles of religious tradition are the ones who brought us the Enlightenment and Liberty.

    If we have the choice to be around people who claim they cannot know themselves or control their sinning or people who believe in right and wrong and strive for justice, which one would we choose? Often the latter are agnostics or atheists.

    And there is the big irony. What is passing for Christianity out there is becoming obsolete when the unbelievers are seen to have more integrity and character.


  53. I love what A. Amos said:

    “BUT GOD – And I can NOT explain it – BUT GOD – One Day…
    Filled me with His LOVE. And I knew, God Loved MEEEEE… 😉
    NO strings attached. Loved me just the way I was. And I was a mess…
    BUT GOD – Loved me – And I did NOT have to ”GO” or “DO” anything…
    I did NOT have to “GO” to a building with a steeple…
    I did NOT have to “GO” to a building with a Paid Proffessional Pastor…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… For Jesus…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… The right way, The correct way…
    I did NOT have to “DO” anything… Just “BE”…
    And learning that Jesus LOVES ME whether I “DO” anything, or NOT…
    Is worth it all… ALL the Pain and Tears… 🙂
    Seems I’m to be a human-being. NOT a human-doing… 😉
    Jesus just loves me. Strengths, Weaknesses, Character Defects, Sins and ALL.”

    We all need a good dose of that!
    We’ve struggled with going to church and “doing” for so many years. We have raised five kids and each one has their own relationship with Jesus and it doesn’t always look like what I would expect! My kids and their friends don’t want to “go” to church just because it’s the thing to do on Sunday. They see through the façade and happy pappy performance in many churches we’ve visited (which I’m glad about). They’re looking for a deeper, genuine love experience with Jesus. Aren’t we all?


  54. I really hesitate to chime in here, because I am attending a church that sounds nothing like the ones other commenters have been hurt in.



  55. I’m glad you did, though, Tim, because with so many hurt people gathered in one place, it’s sometimes a challenge to find good in church. I know there is. I had gone to church 40 something years without a major issue before my spiritually abusive church experience. But that one experience sure messed with my head.


  56. trust4himonly – ALL…

    trust4himonly writes…
    “A great book that has helped me understand Gods desire for His children is a book called “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by http://www.jakecolsen.com/contents.html.”

    And this book is also free on this site…

    You do have to read it online – But it is free…

    Lot’s of other free stuff at…


    He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection (PDF)
    The Naked Church (PDF)


  57. To start, NMP, it’s a church where the lead pastor shares the pulpit extremely freely. Other people, staff and lay, are asked to preach 1-2 times per month. He’s also working to change a long and institutionalized comp culture to egalitarian. There’s much more going on there that brings people in rather than excludes them, but I’d say the main draw is that Jesus is preached and the focus is on him and his gospel of freedom.


  58. For those who NO longer trust “The Abusive Religious System” of today.
    You are NOT alone.

    Here is info from Billy Graham and George Barna, a Christian pollster.
    50 years apart

    1965 —- Billy Graham writes a book – “World Aflame.”
    Billy says – “Multitudes of Christians within the church
    are moving toward the point where they “may”
    **reject the institution** that **we call the church.**”

    In Chapter 8 of his book, WORLD AFLAME, Graham states the following:

    “Because the church, in turning to naturalistic religion,
    increasingly proclaims a humanistic gospel,
    thousands of laymen and clergymen alike are asking penetrating questions
    about the purpose and mission of the church.
    Thousands of loyal church members, particularly in America,
    are beginning to meet in prayer groups and Bible study classes.
    Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point
    where they may **reject the institution** that **we call the church.**
    They are beginning to turn to more simplified forum of worship.
    **They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ.**
    They want a heartwarming, personal faith.

    Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message,
    we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians
    going **outside the institutional church** to find spiritual food.”


    2005 —- 50 years later – George Barna writes a book called “Revolution”
    Barna says – “Millions of believers have stopped going to church..”

    From the Back Cover

    Millions of believers have stopped going to church…
    and chosen to be the church instead.

    Research by renowned pollster George Barna points to a hidden Revolution—one that will impact every Christian believer in America. Millions of committed Christ-followers, dissatisfied with the church experience, have stopped attending on Sunday mornings. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the church?


    “These are people who are less interested in** attending church** than in being the church,” he explained. “We found that there is a significant distinction in the minds of many people between the local church – with a small ‘c’ – and the universal Church – with a capital ‘C’. Revolutionaries tend to be more focused on being the Church, capital C, whether they participate in a congregational church or not.”


  59. Loveoneanother, I had to laugh when you wrote about your tattoo conversation with relatives! It seems that whenever a cultural phenomenon becomes more mainstream, many Christians will condemn it because it is unfamiliar. Instead of asking questions and trying to find a common ground with people who embrace cultural trends, some believers use this to further alienate themselves from those “outside their group”. Small personal preferences (piercings, tattoos, makeup, hairstyles etc), become barriers for some Christians and prevent them from looking at the other person’s heart. Instead of being critical of your so-called imaginary tattoo, your relatives could have made it a non-issue in light of more important concerns. Unfortunately, especially for the elderly, change can be perceived as a threat for many people!


  60. For those who NO longer trust “The Abusive Religious System” of today.
    You are NOT alone.

    Here is a FREE Book, on-line, in PDF, By Andrew Strom, from 2004…

    The Out-Of-Church Christians.

    Why are tens of thousands of devoted Christians leaving the churches?
    Is it a ‘movement’? What is causing this world-wide phenomenon?

    “For weeks after I published the above article, I was inundated with emails. It seemed to be going round and round on the Internet because many responses were from people that were not even part of our own List. Such a huge number of heart-felt stories from people who still loved Jesus **but had left the churches** (-forever, in many cases). What an eye-opener! It confirmed to me that this issue is so much larger than many of us have realized. I don’t think a lot of Christian leaders have any clue how many believers are simply opting out of “organized religion” today.

    Lots of letters and emails from believers who have left “The System.”
    The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation…
    That the IRS calls church.

    These folks have NOT left Jesus, or His Church, His Ekklesia, His Body.
    Most were in so-called Leadership. But they knew something was wrong.
    And they wanted more of {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}. NOT Religion… 😉

    This book, and I printed it out, put it in a binder, still check it out now and then…

    This book, reading ALL the letters and emails, from ALL over the world, reading ALL the different reasons why folks left what they had known, and depended on, leaving their “Tradtions” behind, let me know *I was NOT alone* in what I was seeing with “Today’s Religious System.”

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    If not now? – When?

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  61. For those who NO longer trust “The Abusive Religious System” of today.

    And, the “pastors” who Abuse.” And the pastors “Addicted to Exercising Authority.” And the pastors who have taken a “Title/Position,” pastor/leader/reverend, NOT found in the Bible for one of His Disciples…

    You are NOT alone…

    Seems, in the Bible, Jesus, is the only one referred to as, or with the “Title, ”Shepherd/Leader/Reverend.

    Here’s a book about pastors??? you might enjoy by Jon Zens. 😉

    The Pastor Has No Clothes:
    Moving from Clergy-Centered Church to Christ Centered Ekklesia

    Protestantism carries on with the practice of making the “pastor” the focal point in church. In The Pastor Has No Clothes, Jon Zens demonstrates that putting all the ecclesiastical eggs in the pastor’s basket has no precedent in the New Testament. Using 1 Corinthians 12:14, Zens shows the usual way of doing church contradicts Paul’s self-evident remark that “the body indeed is not one part” and then goes on to unfold from that Epistle how the living church functions “with many parts.” Jon dismembers the traditional pastor doctrine from various angles by combining two new essays and a response to Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor: A Memoir, with three past articles and excerpts from his response to Dr. Ben Witherington’s review of Pagan Christianity.

    And the reviews at this site are also worth the read. Here is just one.

    “Jon has been a great encouragement to those of us who have **left the institutional church** to seek out organic, Christ-centered church life with other believers. And he is to be commended for continuing to courageously speak the truth about **the dysfunctional clergy/laity system** — a “sacred cow” in which so many are heavily invested. I think it’s important to point out that Jon is NOT against the people who are a part of the clergy, it is **the system** that he is opposed to. So, I would encourage the reader to lay aside (as much as he/she is able) the traditions and long-held teachings that have so long meant “church” to us, and listen to what Jon is saying.”


    Don’t have too much fun… 😉

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **THEIR shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  62. The Pastor Has No Clothes

    That is a visual that I want out of my mind. : )

    Both the Sr. Pastor and youth Pastor of my church preach Jesus. Not themselves. They have totally different styles of preaching, which compliment each other, but there sermons are completely Christ centered. Not themselves. They do not rule. They encourage doing our own study and have no problem with having a difference of opinion. (which I have been known to express) They grow as we do, over time. I think you have to find a church where you feel that Jesus is being upheld and not any one person in the church body. They are out there. Our pastors and elders work together as a team for the good of the people. I come from a background where everyone called the other Brother or Sister when acknowledging one another no matter if we were at church or otherwise. Calling the preacher pastor doesn’t put them on the same level with Jesus. To me it is like calling someone Mr. or Mrs. It is just respect.


  63. Brenda

    “That is a visual that I want out of my mind. : )”

    Me too… 😉

    So Soooorrrrrry – I just put in the web-address for the book

    I did NOT know **that picture** would show up… Uhg!! 😦

    I’m happy for you that you have a safe place to fellowship. 🙂


  64. A. Amos,

    I hadn’t even seen the picture yet when I wrote that. Slow connection. I was picturing my own pastor initially. lol I have to admit the picture that came with the link was much worse. That is too funny. I needed a laugh. Thank you.


  65. I don’t go to church anymore. It isn’t that I was traumatized by a particular pastor or church culture (although I did grow up in a very spritually abusive church). It had more to do with the fact that I could get by just fine without it.

    The only reason I might go back is if I felt the need to make new friends. I wish that there were a secular alternative to church (particularly in small towns) for being part of a community.


  66. Yesterday I went to church(meets in public school gym) with 2 of my sons. My third son and his wife were there. My wife did not go, she stayed home and did her online college course work. I go to church service about 2 times a month. My wife goes occasionally. When the bi vocational pastor of this church preaches he does so from the bible line by line. The preaching is similar to what I heard as a child when I was saved at 7 years old. My wife and I are not otherwise involved in this church except for the occasional social event at a nearby park. I don’t think I would ever become a member of this or any other “church” again. I really don’t see any benefit.

    After 26 years at our previous church my wife and I left. My kids had already done so. The church had become hyper Arminian full of seeker, emergent, purpose driven and NAR nonsense. Rarely a bible verse but plenty of stories, personal experiences, self made preacher opinion and smoke machine accompanied chanting music.This church continually admonishes you to become more “spiritual” to the point of guilt. We had been very involved in various ministries over the years but when we left not one person on the enormous staff most of whom we know contacted us to find out where we were.

    I feel more at peace now than I have for years. I am trusting God to do what he has said he will do in regards to this life and the life to come. I am a part of the church that includes all Christian believers.


  67. Mom had her CT Scan today and they tattooed her with three magnetic micro-dots. Next Monday she begins seven weeks of radiation treatments. We are hoping this works.


  68. “And I’m running off to DC in two days where I won’t have internet.”

    DC in the summer. I don’t envy you. :o)


  69. Doug said:

    I am a part of the church that includes all Christian believers.

    I’m glad you are at a good place now, Doug. The above quote of yours intrigued me because in my spiritually abusive church, we spent more time judging others for failing to measure up to my pastor’s standards that we could not appreciate the core beliefs that we held in common. This led us to look down on others as inferior and we were like the chosen ones. Yuck.


  70. To start, NMP, it’s a church where the lead pastor shares the pulpit extremely freely.

    Tim, You’ve touched on something that I have seen in high-controlling churches: pastors who refuse to share the pulpit. Watch out for that because in essence it is saying that no one can do the job better than the pastor. That’s an arrogant place to position oneself.


  71. I don’t go… can’t go. My aversion has gotten worse in the six years I’ve been apart. The first year or so, I didn’t have any issues going, but only ended up going probably 3 times because I was with my family or grandparents and they expected me to. Now, more recently, a child I am close to was going to get baptized, and while originally I planned on attending, when I walked into the chapel I realized I just couldn’t do it. Major heavy feeling and shivers up and down my spine. Now I sleep in, spend time with those precious to me, sit on my porch and drink my coffee, or go out and enjoy nature.


  72. I am in a house church.

    How it works is quite simple. We get together at someone’s house, share a meal, and then sit around and share. There are no leaders. There are no expenses. Every penny the church collects goes to the needy.

    Now when I think of “church,” it is the people I fellowship with. As to leaders, we take the priesthood of ALL believers seriously.

    I am with Hannah. I can no longer fathom the thought of “going to church (which means a fancy building),” sitting on my butt, and facing a guy droning on from a pulpit for an hour every week. I am told that is how you open your soul to the flow of spiritual blessings from heaven: sit on my butt passively for nearly an hour and with my eyes facing the pulpit. I call it Evangelical Fung Shui.

    Ask anyone about his/her church. 99% of the time, the response starts with, “my pastor…” Why does everything revolves around “The Pastor?”

    I always challenge the pastor centric model which is hard wired in Evangelical culture. Who was the Pastor of the Galatians Church? Who was the Pastor of the Corinthian Church? Who was the Pastor of the Ephesian Church? Who was the Pastor of Colossian Church?



  73. David, I like the sound of that. In my opinion, that’s what church should be about -helping the needy. So often, it’s about keeping enough money coming in to meet expenses. With all the upkeep on buildings, paid staff, and allotments, it’s often difficult to fund Mission and Service. Sounds like fellowship and serving are the cornerstones of your church. . . again, I like it.


  74. David C

    You ask…

    Nope – NOT one… 😉

    And I like this quiz – Now it’s your turn… 😉

    David, in the Bible…
    Can you name one of His Disciples who called themself, or had the “Title”..

    1 -Pastor/Leader/Reverend. 1a – Pastor. 2 – Shepherd. 2a – Under Shepherd. 3 – Senior Pastor. 4 – Lead Pastor. 5 – Teaching Pastor. 6 – Executive Pastor. 6 – Youth Pastor. 7 – Singles Pastor. 8 – Worship Pastor. 9 – Reverend. 10 – Holy Reverend. 11 – Most Holy Right Reverend. 12 – ArchBishop. 12a – ArchDeacon. 13 – Canon. 14 – Prelate. 15 – Rector. 16 – Cardinal. 17 – Pope. 18 – Doctor. 19 – M.Div. 20 – Chief Executive Apostle.

    NO kidding. There really is a Chief Executive Apostle…
    Saw it with my own eyes.

    Houston – We have a Problem – Titles – Titles – Everywhere…
    Except in the Bible…

    When you believe the lie you start to die…


  75. David C

    Here’s another quiz for you… 🙂

    It’s about the word “Church.”
    And how WE, His Sheep, His sons, His Bride, His Disciples, His Body…
    His Ekklesia… Mis-uses the word “church” today…

    Say the word “church” to an un-believer, even a believer…
    What do they think that means? Most will answer…
    That’s the building down the street with a steeple on it. And inside is a…
    Paid, Professional, Pastor, in a Pulpit, Preaching, to People, in Pews.

    Is any of that In The Bible?
    Seems WE, His Sheep, have deceived the very people we’re trying to reach.

    In the Bible…
    Can you name one of His Disciples who said, or taught…

    1 – Go to Church. 2 – Join a Church. 3 – Tithe to a Church. 4 – Give siver, gold or money to a Church. 5 – Buildings with crosses called Church. 6 – Church Membership. 6a – Apply for Church Membership. 7- MY Church: by a pastor. Nope, the Ekklesia, the body of Christ, belongs to Jesus. 8 – My Church: by sheepies: 9 – Your Church. 10 – Our Church. 11 – Church Leaders. 12 – Church Growth. 13 – Church Planting. 14 – Local church. 15 – Universal church.
    16 – God’s plan for the world is the church. 17 – Church clean up Day. 🙂

    In the Bible, Did anyone, go to church? do church? have church?

    Hmmm? What does the word “church” actually mean?


  76. I know handfuls of folks whose parents took/dragged them to church every Sunday, (my eldest daughter is one of them) who want nothing to do with the church now that they are adults.

    It took me awhile to let myself off the guilt hook when my daughter rejected Christianity, being, that I bought into the nonsense that it was a guarantee that “if you train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” I was guilty in the eyes of many that she had so called backslid. puke.

    I am angry that I was tied up in knots for years in agony over a bunch of rigid doctrine. What a waste of time. Glad I am out of the building, I never found Jesus in church. I find him all the time now, in a sunset, music, or like on Father’s Day when I was taking a walk, I was feeling so blue, and I ran into one of his gay angels who was outside crying, o, did we ever talk.


  77. Not doing particularly well. I get depressed. I don’t think I could step through the doors of a church now without having some major physical reaction, maybe losing breakfast. I tried to attend a Wednesday night worship service at a community center with my family some months ago, but I couldn’t take it, it was too much like a church, I and my oldest child shot out the door after 15 minutes or so and hung around outside, she’s old enough to know what was going on and see one of her former teen church friends now declare his atheism because of what he went through. I struggle to read the Bible because, I think, I’ve heard it warped too many times over the last four years. Like that food aversion you get after you get sick on something. I heard it twisted without regard to context or the original language so many times to justify unquestioned control by a leader over followers and to justify going back on promises, lying, hiding dark secrets from the congregation, brutal domination. But my faith in the Lord hasn’t wavered. It’s not His fault that I foolishly led my family twice into a dangerous nominally-Christian cult, he warned me about such stuff, it’s right there in the Bible.


  78. I love all of your comments here!!😃
    I am 100% with you guys!

    Gail, I FELT the same guilt. I capitalized FELT because that is what we get trapped in is manufactured feelings. Feelings are not what constitutes how Christian or not one is, our security in Christ is sure and eternal. My daughter also has no desire to go to church because she saw the shallowness. I, too, was feeling guilty, but Jesus said to let go; He would take care of her.


  79. Truthdetector, I have had the same issues with reading the Bible; I am just now being able to pick it up. I just keep praying that the Holy Spirit will help me see it through His eyes and put blinders up to what I had heard in the past. Hard thing to do because those pesky voices of the past keep coming up to the surface.
    By the way http://www.wickedshepherds.com is a good site to see how the church today was not quite what the church of NT was historically.


  80. David C,

    I am not going to pretend to have all of the answers but in Ephesians 4:11-13 the Bible clearly lists pastors as one of the callings along with apostle, teachers and evangelists to prepare God’s people for works of service. They are to help newbie Christians to learn what they need to know. Many take advantage of their duties and set themselves up on pedestals as gods. God will take care of them in his timing.

    The church is a group of saved, baptized believers coming together to worship God. It is not a building. There are many buildings that have the word “church” on the outside sign that aren’t. If you are more comfortable in a house church and you are gathered together to worship God, I don’t think He has any problem with it at all.

    In Matthew 18:15-20 where is explains discipline of a brother that sins against you, Jesus Himself gives the church authority to treat him as a pagan or a tax collector if he refuses to repent.

    The building where we hold worship services is not fancy. As a matter of fact our sanctuary doubles as a gym or vice versa. The chairs are taken down to allow for activities for the kids. There are no fancy stained glass windows. It is very simple. Much of the collection goes to help those in need and those on the mission field. Lord willing, one day there will be a sanctuary specifically for worship.

    We aren’t told who all of the pastors, evangelist etc were in the first churches, just as we are not told many other things in entirety. We won’t know until we have the privilege of meeting Jesus face to face. He told us enough to let us know who he is and what his expectations are.


  81. Amos Love, looks like we are on the same wavelength. It took a long time to “unlearn” all that extra-biblical stuff in Christian culture. Reading Pagan Christianity gave me a great start.

    trust4himonly, reading the Bible is now much more liberating and enriching. In the past, I approached every word and every verse with the question of how it fit in a particular theological system that I subscribed to, instead of letting Scripture speak for itself. I was always on the look out for ammunition I could use against liberals, Arminians, Post-trib, Feminists, Gays, or whoever happened to be the object of scorn at the moment. I made it speak for my worldview It was a very self-serving way of approaching the Word of God.


  82. I struggle to read the Bible because, I think, I’ve heard it warped too many times over the last four years. Like that food aversion you get after you get sick on something.

    That is a really good analogy, TruthDetector.


  83. I struggle to read the Bible because, I think, I’ve heard it warped too many times over the last four years. Like that food aversion you get after you get sick on something. I heard it twisted without regard to context or the original language so many times to justify unquestioned control by a leader over followers and to justify going back on promises, lying, hiding dark secrets from the congregation, brutal domination.

    TruthDetector – Thank you for sharing your challenges. There are so many things that can really mess with our heads after spiritual abuse.

    I’m going through a minor funk right now. After I posted the Brennan Manning quote, it reminded me of a couple of people who told me that his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, changed their lives spiritually. After reading the Amazon reviews and the recommendation from my friends, I’m going to read this book (well, I just ordered the audio version). Performance-based religion and bad ideologies have really messed with my head. Check out some of these reviews from Amazon:

    I read the original version of this book over 4 years ago and it changed my life. I am so excited to see this book reissued.
    The message of Manning’s book is The Gospel, pure and undefiled…God loves you, no strings attached. Not only does God love you but He is pleased with you and His saving grace is always there for you.

    The book helped me out greatly because I was in a spiritually abusive situation at the time I read this it and it helped me to realize that there was nothing I could do to earn God’s love. Many Christians accept God’s Grace freely when they first dedicate their lives to Him. They then spend the rest of their spiritual walk trying earn that love and forgiveness (which we can never do).
    Brother Manning’s book is a refreshing Oasis in a Christian world full of works-oriented deserts.

    Even if you think you completely understand what Grace and Love are all about there will be something for you in this book. This book will challenge the very way you look at God.


    “The tendency in legalistic religion is to mistrust God, to mistrust others, and consequently to mistrust ourselves. Allow me to become personal for a moment. Do you really believe that the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is gracious, that he cares about you? Do you really believe that he is always, unfailingly, present to you as companion and support? Do you really believe that God is love?”
    With these words Brennan Manning challenges us to ask ourselves if we really believe. Are we willing to cast aside our action steps, our striving human effort, and make room for the God who is present, gracious, and who does care for us? Read this book and find out why you should.


    I grew up in an abusive, legalistic church, who stressed a life of utmost holiness as most pleasing to God, therefore my ultimate goal in my walk with Christ is to overcome sin. Unfortunately the more I try, the more I see my failures and my peace and joy in God fluctuates with my personal performance.
    The Ragamuffin Gospel seeks to destroy the worldview of God that Christendom has created: You are saved by immense and passionate grace and mercy, but once you accept it, God has a checklist of sanctification and service that you must repay. Why would a God of unsearchable riches suddenly do a 180 and expect us to deliver a checklist of personal effort? Our “spiritual leaders” reinforce these lists often comprised of: Do your daily devotions, or God won’t speak to you / Pray longer and harder or God won’t know your heart / Do more service for church, you’re not doing enough for God, you’re spending too much time on yourself / If you don’t have it all together, God can’t use you, etc. etc.
    Brennan Manning vehemently believes that God absolutely hates sin (as the other reviewers here focus on as their primary view of God), BUT, God’s grace and mercy abounds all the more. IT IS THIS UNFATHOMABLE AWE OF EXPERIENCING AND KNOWING JESUS’ LOVE THAT INSPIRES AND STRENGTHENS US TO FLEE FROM SIN, NOT OUR OWN RESOLVE.
    A MUST read for anyone who has been raised in the modern institutional church.

    The Ragamuffin Gospel continues to stand the test of time. This very powerful book is filled with arresting illustrations of God’s grace. Manning’s extensive experience and deep knowledge lend creedence to the substance of his message; like most of the ragamuffin hearts in his audience, he has known solitude, hunger, despair, joy, acceptance, and salvation, so you don’t get that “ivory tower” effect that many Christian speakers exude. Manning has known both the gutter and the mountain top. One of the strengths of this work is Manning’s attack on the Christian community’s obsession with works-oriented salvation; he strips away many of those traditionalist foundations that we feel will define us and make us acceptable before God. Manning confronts the holier-than-thou Bible worshippers and challenges us to drop all of our defenses and to contemplate and embrace God’s relentless grace.

    The first time I read this book, it shook up so many of my traditionalist views that I felt uneasy; it lead me to a crisis of my own faith, mostly in how I view the Father. It challenged me to remove the focus from my religious performance to God’s love, and begin to view life from a new perspective. More importantly, it forced me to question whether or not I really trusted God enough to take Him at His Word. As a follower of Jesus Christ, this book dared me to live in the freedom of God’s pure love. It is the best book I’ve read on embracing God’s grace. See him speak if you have the chance.


  84. My ‘good pastor’ (before the bad pastor) said often that we should live our whole Christian life the same way we get saved. Following rules didn’t save us, and it won’t sanctify us either.

    I’m reminded that with that pastor I never even thought about pastoral ‘authority’. It was just a non-issue. I think if that’s a strong presence in any church, it should be seen as a warning.


  85. I have enjoyed this thread. So many creative ideas for…church.

    I grew up in an Evangelical Friends/Quaker denomination. Yes – we even segregated ourselves once a month on Wednesday nights. Then, when I became a teenager my family switched churches: Independent Baptist. Talk about a mind warp. The doctrine was so foreign – it took me years to wrap my brain around the idea that I couldn’t lose my salvation.

    In the midst of all this, my family decided to join the pioneering, heavily religious Homeschool Movement. All kinds of fun.

    I graduated and went to an appropriately conservative Bible college…and stayed in the haze/fog for another 20yrs. I chose churches with non-denom, community, or Baptist in their title.

    I did, actually, leave organized religion once…in my mid-20’s. I had discovered what I call the White Picket Fence…hypocrisy, faking it, lack of authenticity or real community – it goes by many names. Putting time in on Sunday – looking oh-so-good – then proudly living like full bore heathen for the other 6 days a week. So, I left. I wasn’t rejecting God – just organized religion. I made some poor choices during my sabbatical. Who doesn’t in their 20’s?

    After returning to church in my early 30’s…I noticed the White Picket Fences were still there. I showed up with my fence…battered, in need of repair, paint, lacking several boards in places. I was shunned. Apparently, authenticity is not valued in Christian community. Thus, I was effectively shamed and silenced. I was quickly placed in ministry & service but not given the benefit of friendship or community. I then learned my 2nd lesson: spirituality within these groups is measured upon the yardstick of exhaustion.

    When my first (& only) child was born – no one knew. No one. No meals. No visitors. Nothing. Crickets. It was a traumatic delivery; took me 3mos to be able to walk across the room or stand long enough to change his diaper. I was SO excited to take my son to church (at 3mos) for the FIRST time. When we checked in to the nursery, the lady who gave us our pick-up ticket (who I had served w/ on more than one occasion) asked if we were new residents to the area! Similarly, we were greeted by several in the congregation cheerily welcoming us as visitors. I had been attending there for almost 10yrs. Sad.

    The church I most recently resigned my membership from (Baptist) was a source of re-victimization in the face of ongoing spousal abuse. Upon receiving my resignation letter, the elder emailed this to me: “May God have mercy on us all.” Mercy? Why not grace? Mercy implies wrong-doing to some degree. I have done nothing wrong!

    So, I am now visiting a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) congregation. The jury is still out…but then again, trust and emerging from the fog of spiritual abuse (among many other fogs) is rather new for me.


  86. JulieAnne,

    The Ragamuffin Gospel was like drinking a cold drink of water after being parched from the desert years in my church. I wept & wept when I read it, and said to myself, this is the Jesus that my heart believes in.

    I made the huge mistake of sharing it with my X Pastor. He didn’t want to read it & asked me why I would read something written by a defrocked Catholic priest. He then recommended that I read one of John MacArthur’s books, just don’t recall which one.

    I hope it will refresh your soul and help you to transition quickly out of your minor funk. It has been years since I read it but the Ragamuffin Gospel, maybe I need to pick it up once again! I hope you share your thoughts about it.


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