High-pressure church leaders, mandatory church attendance and guilt
“Longtime Lurker” broke her silence a while back and shared her personal high-controlling church experience. I copied her comment for this post because I think her experience is representative of what others have gone through, and I can relate with a lot of what she wrote. I’m grateful for those of you who share your heart here. We don’t need to live in guilt. ~ja
High-Pressure Church and Resulting Guilt
The “Jesus is Lord” was an emotional trigger for me. I’ve been reading this blog for probably a year or so now, but finally feel compelled to tell a little of my story. Raised in a formal, ritualistic denomination. As a young (20) Army wife, I met another Army wife at the post Laundromat, we became friends and she invited us to her church. And to dinner. Our husbands knew each other a little, they were previously stationed overseas together.
The church had a revival going on, fire and brimstone preacher, a totally new experience for us being raised in the church mentioned above! The pressure was on for decisions. I then attended a kitchen ware selling party given by one of the church members, she was very “on fire” and overbearing, I needed to make a commitment NOW and finally, yielding to pressure, I said a prayer just to be left alone and allowed to go home.
I was baptized soon after, no explanation on the step I was taking, looking back it was just a number to be added to the success of the revival. We started to attend regularly, but the light didn’t really come on for me until months later, reading at home, that I realized Jesus really did love me and cared for me.
We were moved to another duty station with our friends, and since we were the newbies in the Faith, we allowed them to choose the new church. Oh boy! This truly was unlike anything we had ever seen. You were to answer your home phone with “Jesus is Lord.” If a church member called and you said the ordinary hello, your sincerity as a believer was truly in question.
There were regular showings of the movie “a Thief in the Night.” We had our first child while there and after missing Sunday School for a while, we were given a lecture about that…..after all, we were always going to have the baby from now on, so we need to get used to bringing him to all the church functions.
One time after missing due to baby’s sickness I was admonished that if I missed for a child’s illness, I would never be at church.
Legalistic rules about lots of things and witnessing at any and all times was expected for all. Unfortunately, the groundwork laid by this church kept us in bondage for years at other churches as we moved around the country.
We have had a tendency to join churches that are legalistic and require a lot of “works” to prove our faith. Now we are not attending church at all, and while it is freedom, it also at times has led to a lot of guilt feelings that I still struggle with to this day.