Spiritual Abuse: What Was the Last Straw That Caused You to Leave Your Abusive Church?

Spiritual Abuse – What finally made you realize you had to leave your church?

***

spiritual abuse

***

I had already told my husband that I had to leave BGBC, with or without him, but I was hoping that he would come to the same conclusion without my influence. That finally happened after our close friend who was on staff was fired. My husband finally saw CON’s character and a show of rage and anger we had never seen before when we were all together at a private meeting along with the two elders (one who has since left).

But prior to that, the most difficult part of going to church at BGBC was CON and the continual spiritual beatings week after week after week. I got tired of the repetitious preachings, the same pet verses, most of them about the law, the wrath of God, sin, evil, lake of fire, etc.

There was one sermon in the 2+ yrs that I recall which had an emphasis on grace. That sermon was unique because it was after the loss of his close friend by suicide. I complimented him on that sermon’ it was probably the only positive comment he ever got from me about sermons, but that one Sunday of grace was never to be repeated while we were there.

I could not continue to be berated each week, I could not continue checking my salvation each week.  I thought Christ’s death on the cross had given me victory. I thought that if I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and confessed my sins, I would be saved. Why was I still needing to be concerned about my salvation? Was all of my previous devotion to Christ a fraud?

Everything CON did seemed to have conflict or a battle of some kind. When he came back from meeting various people outside the church (other pastors, leaders, etc), we’d hear reports of how wrong these people were, how off they were in their theology, how they were going down a wrong path. No one had it right except Chuck O’Neal, and everything had to pass his test. It seems he wanted us to be cookie cutter clones of Chuck O’Neal. Even if we were, he’d still find something wrong with us, because there’s only one CON.

So for me, I was done with the incessant spiritual beatings. I longed for Abba Father, the Father who comforts, protects, loves, collects every tear, rejoices over me with singing.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

How about you? What was the last straw for you?

 

 

 

photo credit:  Colleen

138 comments on “Spiritual Abuse: What Was the Last Straw That Caused You to Leave Your Abusive Church?

  1. The last straw that caused me to leave the church I attended was when the pastor told my ex while we was in counseling that spousal rape was ok.it made me so angry.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A separated couple who was seeking counseling because of violent episodes in their home was told to move back in together. When they appropriately refused they were banned from church. My wife and I facilitated a divorce recovery group and this made us realize this was not a safe place. We left.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. JA, there were many straws that led up to the final straw. But honestly, I stayed in my abusive church/sect/cult for 3 more years (I was ready to leave much sooner than my husband) until my husband was ready to leave. I recall very distinctly hearing the Lord say to me, “My spirit no longer resides here.” But because of the peer pressure and mistrust that the leader/pastor instilled in everyone toward each other, I kept this revelation to myself. Well…at least for a while. Then, I risked telling a married couple who I knew were on the ‘bad list’ – the husband enduring many public insults and much ridicule by the leader. They kept my secret and I waited until the spell was broken and my husband was ready to flee. The final straw for my husband was being verbally torn to shreds and told he was a lousy Christian during a private meeting with the leader. For over an hour, that man harangued and berated my husband to the point where he was curled up in a ball sitting on the floor, unable to speak. The next day it was time to leave!

    But there were many things that led up to that event. I can so relate to what you called the “continual spiritual beatings.” That’s exactly what our gatherings were like. In fact, ex-members now call them the “big beatings” because that is exactly what they were. Instead of being taught about the love of God, we were told that we were shameful, unfaithful Christians. At every meeting and Bible study, we’d hear about ways that we disappointed God. The leader/pastor would publicly call out members and deride them openly, pointing out their supposed faults and sins. Living in such an environment became oppressive and burdensome. The mind and heart can only handle so much abuse. That leader was exactly like the man in the parable who beat the men servants and maid servants. One can only endure so many bruises and beatings spiritually speaking, and then self-preservation kicks in and the reality is: if I don’t leave this place, I will go out of my mind!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What did it for me was when I saw my elders siding with my abusive husband. I wanted a seperation and they were hesitant to allow that as they were afraid we might not get back together. I felt they were heading towards putting me under dicipline if I pursued it. They twisted scripture to say that I was only aloud to separate for a specific amount of time. It was all such a horrible time. It compounded the abuse I was already experiencing ten fold.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Darlene, you stayed 3 more years after you knew you had to go?!? That is a long time.

    if I don’t leave this place, I will go out of my mind!

    Yes, I hear you there, too. I told my husband the same and he thought I was nuts.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My goodness Jennifer if I would have been in your shoes I probably would have thumped him with his Bible. (I’d pull a verse out of context to justify, naturally).

    Insane.

    Ugh.

    One Sunday Elder so-in-so said, “If you’re sitting here and you say you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave BUT your life hasn’t changed…

    you need to REPENT! Turn from your sins and REPENT!!”.

    Red flag went up.

    The Good News is:

    God loves you despite the fact you’re a sinner.
    The wages for your sin = death (the problem).
    God sent the Son to pay for your sins. (God’s blood requirement for atonement)
    Jesus was then raised from the dead! (our HOPE = the resurrection!).

    The fake Good News (as interpreted by me):

    The Jews did such a bad job of law keeping so God decided in all his wisdom to let the Gentiles have a go at doing better:

    ie: “Turn from your sins and try to live a good life. Oh yeah and believe in Jesus”.

    The above is not the Good News.

    It is adding discipleship as a requirement for justification.

    Our justification comes solely from Christ’s work on the Cross.

    Not from any of our own efforts.

    Just believe what He has done. Trust He did it for you.

    Simple. Unadulterated grace. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I should add:

    The Elder added “you’re not saved if your life hasn’t changed”.

    The implication was that if you’re not performing outstanding deeds in life then it’s likely your faith isn’t really faith but something else (?!?!?!?).

    False teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Church 1 I was considering leaving becaus the church pushed me to sit with my abuser every week. When I talked to the pastor he told me there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to sit beside my abuse and rapist. He added that he’d expect the same of his own wife and daughters. All I could say while I hoped he’d one day see the error in his words that I prayed that lesson never came at the expense of his wife’s or daughter’s saftey.

    Church 2 I haven’t left yet phsycily at least but my heart and soul knows I don’t belong there. This is the church I began attending at 13. It’s the church where I was married. I went to school with the pastor daughter. This church knows me. And I’m not prideful, but they should know me well enough that they can see my character.
    Anyhow this is the church I turned to several times during the marriage. No one would listen to me because it was a sin to speak negatively about my husband. And now the pastor has put me in an impossible scenario. On one hand he told me if I let my children get hurt he will report me to DFCS. However, if I divorce my husband I am an adulterous woman.
    He said more than that. It was devastating. All I could say when he finished was that while I didn’t really understand all that God was doing I know the love and compassion of My Lord’s heart and The Jesus I loved and the Jesus who loved me healed on Sunday’s and i
    i chose to hold onto knowing he loved me and my children more than any law.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As Barbara said, what a great question!!!! I prayed for years that something in the church would change, as I recognized problems in the leadership (mostly from the pulpit, but also a strong power circle of men – including deacons and the pastor’s best friend who was and remains the music director). It’s the only church within driving distance that adheres to the Reformed theology I believe, so I stayed. And we had left another church within the past decade so I was loathe to “jump ship” yet again – so I prayed. During the eight years I was at my most recent church, I even wrote a letter to the association in which the church is a member lamenting the sudden appointment of the pastor’s homeschooled (with no tertiary education) to the position of “young pastor” and ordained. (There as a vote, but it occurred with the pastor’s entire large family present and a persuasive speech by the best friend – and the congregation was cowed.) I never sent the letter.

    It took the sudden unexplained absence of my husband from church when he abandoned our child and me and then just as sudden return to church (not home, thankfully) two months later (to church, and his warm welcome back by all to prompt me to call the pastor to say I wouldn’t be returning. The pastor was supportive of my leaving, even though I was entrenched in church service (teaching, bulletin prep, etc) and my now ex-husband did nothing. The pastor was well aware of the abuse in our home and told me on the phone and by letter to speak with an attorney, call a pediatrician (for possible illegal abuse of child), and seek help from a domestic shelter for women. I now think he did all this to unravel himself from all involvement with the abuse in the home, of which he had been aware for awhile. It was far more comfortable for him to disengage. In fact, near the end, he had a document of my testimony of abuse in the home, and his only comment on it was to say that one of the things in it about him was a lie. (It related to a time when my now ex- went over to discuss his touching of our child and the pastor said he did the same thing. In the phone conversation, the pastor said to me that he never touches his daughters, then went on to admit he massages their shoulders when they’re tired – so he contradicted himself – and it wasn’t a lie in the document. At any rate, I had only been relaying what my now ex- told me, so it wouldn’t have incriminated the pastor of anything, but the pastor told me, “I don’t want this kind of a document given to a state agency about me!” So…. in the end, it was all self-serving on the pastor’s part.)

    Like the post says, the preaching was very repetitive and rather self-serving also. (“Why are y’all looking at me that way?” – volume increase – “Y’all are looking at me rather hard? Didn’t you get enough sleep last night?”) I took to reading Pastor Crippen’s first book “A Cry for Justice” on my Kindle during sermons.

    So, although I had been praying for the church leadership to change, in the end, it was I who changed and left. I wish I had had the courage to leave earlier based on the details of the wretchedness of the church, but it took my now ex-‘s return and welcome there to get me to leave. I couldn’t stomach sitting in the same congregation with him – a congregation, by the way, who has since shown me that they are not my church family. Not one phone call after I left. Not one. I served alongside these people, taught their kids and grandkids, loved them and…. I was dropped like a hot potato. So, it’s quite the trial – because losing who I thought was my church family hit me as hard (a different kind of hard, but still hard) as the learning that my spouse was actively working against me. In my view, my spouse was working actively against me, but my former ‘church’ works passively against me. Their silence speaks volumes.

    Like

  10. Ooops. Missing a word there. Should read: “…pastor’s homeschooled (with no tertiary education) SON to the position of ‘young pastor’ and ordained.”

    This happened when the son was either 19 or 20.

    Nepotism is alive and well.

    Like

  11. When the pastors had a public, “impromptu”, “come down to the altar and get right with God – oh and also, if you’re really right with God you’ll literally stand with us against the dissenting members of the church who did not come down to the altar and remained in their pews” service one Sunday evening. The pastors had labeled dissenters as vile, liars, and workers of evil in several previous sermons. They had simply discovered that the assistant pastor (senior pastor’s son) had taped girls changing in his office and hid the tape, and wanted accountability. I learned this later.

    Thing was, I believed the pastors. I was down there standing with them. My sister wasn’t though. Something was off to her, and she researched everything. Came to me later over lunch and told me all that, that the members weren’t liars, that the pastors were lying to cover their asses, that yes, the video existed and she’d seen it. I was done with it right there. I still attended off and on because the rest of my family was there (Holy Spirit facepalm), but I was checked out. When I got a chance I’d attend my girlfriend’s church. I and half my siblings left officially at the same time. The other half of my family is still there.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. When my ex-pastor tried to break up my marriage by coming on to me. There were a million signs that were reasons in and of themselves to leave, but it took something this drastic to open my eyes. The church was non-denominational, but led by two ‘former’ IFB’ers. The culture was very similar to IFB churches and was very spiritually & emotionally abusive. My ex-pastor is a malignant narcissist. He denied everything he did and bashed my reputation to anyone would listen. He even called people and showed up at their front doors to tell them he was innocent and that I came on to him. It took 2 years of counseling & a support group to finally come to terms with his brand of evil.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. When leadership cared more about saving face and avoiding a church split for the sake of “ministry” than dealing with sin in the church. The end justified the means.

    When one of the leaders preached from the platform and said something that was clearly contrary to scripture. The majority of the people nodded their heads and went through mental gymnastics to excuse what he said.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Pingback: Theology-related quote for the day | Civil Commotion

  15. When our church and pastor sued former and current church members and speculated in front of 40 people that his critics were sexually abused as children , as well as watching the pastor ridicule, talk down and lie to my husband.

    We should have left years sooner

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Reasons I’ve left two churches that I consider (perhaps mildly) abusive:

    The KJVO/Trail of Blood, but covertly so church: final straw after seeing the KJVO/TOB materials pervade the church (where I was a deacon) was being berated for having the communion bread pieces be too big. Because obviously when Christ and 11 disciples shared the loaf, they only got a tiny wafer. Um, what?
    Wannabe megachurch: I left when I’d presented some concerns about a teacher whose materials they were using, and in meeting with them, they basically shouted me down. So I walked out on them.

    Thankfully it’s nothing like being told I had to submit to marital rape, or that I had to share a home with someone who had beat the **** out of me. But it still can hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. JA said:

    “I could not continue to be berated each week, I could not continue checking my salvation each week. I thought Christ’s death on the cross had given me victory. I thought that if I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and confessed my sins, I would be saved. Why was I still needing to be concerned about my salvation? Was all of my previous devotion to Christ a fraud?”

    life with porpoise said:

    “One Sunday Elder so-in-so said, “If you’re sitting here and you say you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave BUT your life hasn’t changed…

    “you need to REPENT! Turn from your sins and REPENT!!”.

    “The Elder added “you’re not saved if your life hasn’t changed”.

    “The implication was that if you’re not performing outstanding deeds in life then it’s likely your faith isn’t really faith but something else (?!?!?!?).”

    ie: “Turn from your sins and try to live a good life. Oh yeah and believe in Jesus”.

    “The above is not the Good News.

    It is adding discipleship as a requirement for justification.”

    For the past several years, the Reformed world has been going around and around about this. We’ve had the “grace boys” vs. the “obedience boys” in ongoing debate. We’ve had the federal vision and its critics. I don’t know if false or partially corrupted doctrine -by itself- qualifies as spiritual abuse, but being in a place where the emphasis always comes back around (sooner or later) to one’s good works that one must make sure they do to avoid the wrath of God after death, does tend to be rather debilitating.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. I wish I’d left my former, shepherding cult years before I did. What finally did it for us was my husband’s business financial crisis. The “church” wanted him to file for bankruptcy. He decided not to after consulting other businessmen and bankers. Our minister was furious that he consulted people outside the “church,” and disfellowshipped my husband for not taking the “church’s” advice.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. I kept seeing how poorly churches as organizations were run–even the really big organizations. I’m getting a masters degree in nonprofit management from a well-regarded university, and I’m sorry, I “can’t serve in leadership” largely due to my gender (and because I actually know enough to reveal that those in leadership aren’t as “wise/anointed” as they put forth) but the male pastor, an “ex drug addict” with a good conversion story and with no college or leadership training can? In trying to reform, I discovered there’s no real accountability in these organizations–“sheep” let “wolves” do pretty much whatever they want (which is to put others in leadership that will support themselves). And don’t even get me started on the rampant nepotism.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. For us it was dealing with an elder who strong-armed his way into becoming the pastor. Our pastor needed to step out of his role and my husband sat on a committee to discuss where the church should go. The elder had put his name in to be hired as the pastor and most of those in the group had determined that he would not be a good fit as pastor for the church. The elder then made his way to our house (I’m not sure if he visited everyone) to spend over two hours talking about how he would be the best pastor for the church. My husband remained strongly opposed to his hiring and then one Sunday it was announced that he was hired as pastor with everyone’s approval.

    One Sunday he decided to preach on David and Bathsheba, going into full sexual detail, while the kids were present. He did not like the looks on the adults faces and spent a good portion of time berating everyone about how he was God’s anointed and could preach on whatever he wanted and how dare we look at him like that. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe we’re all sitting here taking this. Why won’t I get up and leave?” But I knew getting up and leaving meant even more repercussion and I didn’t want to deal with the guy.

    We then had a series of four Sundays where we were not able to be at church because of conflicts. We realized the first Sunday that we felt so much calmer. We really had not realized how much anticipating going to church on Sunday was affecting us (and our church met at night so we had all day to dwell on it). By the fourth Sunday we were really liking the groove we were in. We did one more visit back and decided we were done.

    We tried other churches after that. The first one made it very clear from the pulpit where they stood on women in leadership. The second equated the people who came in to the church with the money that they could give. The third had a very impersonal and distant pastoral staff and even though they did a lot of great work throughout the city, they did not appear to be any different than anyone else.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. To those of you writing about your pastors telling you to stay with an abusive spouse, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry this was done to you. It breaks my heart. Why pastors pile hurt upon hurt is beyond my ability to comprehend. Where do they learn this crap? What turns their hearts toward hurt and against the way Jesus taught us to treat others? For men who study the Bible, it is appalling that they are not able to learn from the one whom they are asking others to follow.

    I’m happy to hear of the courageous steps taken by those sharing here. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. This would have been in 1976, just after my widowed father remarried. The Shepherding “Fellowship” (not-church) I was involved in suddenly turned on the love-bombing and put pressure on me to leave my Heathen(TM) family and move into their compound. I got very bad vibes from that. Then they turned the pressure up. That’s when I bailed.

    Fortunately, I had another group to go to. A month or two before, I had discovered both SF litfandom and Dungeons & Dragons and hit it off real well with my DM and the other players in the group. So I had a bolthole. (So many don’t; the abusive church/fellowship/whatever is ALL they have, their entire world 24/7/365. That’s how so many of these abusive churches are able to keep their claws in.)

    Liked by 2 people

  23. @Kathi:

    One Sunday he decided to preach on David and Bathsheba, going into full sexual detail, while the kids were present.

    This is commonly called “Pornography for the Pious”.

    He did not like the looks on the adults faces and spent a good portion of time berating everyone about how he was God’s anointed and could preach on whatever he wanted and how dare we look at him like that.

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED! DO MY PROPHET NO HARM!”
    — Benny Hinn

    Liked by 3 people

  24. @Anna:

    The culture was very similar to IFB churches and was very spiritually & emotionally abusive. My ex-pastor is a malignant narcissist. He denied everything he did and bashed my reputation to anyone would listen.

    Because what a Malignant Narcissist sees in the mirror cannot be at fault in any way. A Malignant Narcissist must be Perfect In Every Way in his own mind, a Legend in His Own Mind. All who do not share this dogma must be utterly annihilated. And his beloved in the mirror agrees 1000%.

    In his book People of the Lie, M Scott Peck remarked that there was a much older and shorter term for Malignant Narcissism: EVIL.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. HUG, I was thinking graphic detail about David and Bathsheba would be the “Mark Driscoll Translation”, no? Certainly it doesn’t show up in the translations I read, or even the Masoretic text, and that’s saying something, as the Hebrew actually tends to be pretty earthy.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. For me it was when Andrew L. Went public with his Mars hill story. It was after one thing after another that we experienced. His story helped us see that we weren’t crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. There were quite a few things that led up to my leaving. However, the bridge was napalmed when I was told by a Christian Counselor at Bob Jones University that I :would be responsible for bringing shame upon the cause of Christ” if I reported my sexual abuse to Law Enforcement,

    Liked by 4 people

  28. First church we left: Last straw was being told by the elders that the pastor does everything perfectly.

    Second church: We were told not to return after my husband demanded an apology for the years of spiritual abuse I had endured.

    Long story – can be found at whenchurchhurts.wordpress.com

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Been ThereDone That.

    He was the Dean of Students when I was there. (undergrad)

    During the GRACE investigation into BJU they promoted him to TEACHING COUNSELING on the graduate level, He teaches pastors at BJU’s seminary, He was specifically named in the GRACE report and BJU refuses to fire him, Further, BJU outright states that they will refuse to walk back the fact his “biblical counseling” has been damaging and incorrect.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Well, there was a lot of accusatory preaching week after week from the celebrity pastor (who shall remain nameless but his initials are RC), but the last straw was when I went to the elders and pastors about my husband’s abuse and they sided with him, accused me of being mentally ill, unstable, and unbelievable, and told me to continue to see my psychiatrist! I told them they would never see my again, and they did not. I volunteered often to serve the many events we had, volunteered in the nursery, worked VBS, I was very visible serving, and enjoyed doing so. NOT ONE PERSON called me and asked me why I left, how I was doing, nothing. Oh, I take that back, one person was being nosy asking me what was going on (a much younger man who had no business asking me personal questions, I had to block him on Facebook.) The ex anti-husband still attends church there every week. And my teen daughter is still complaining about the same sermon, week after week, about how y’all better get saved, and a sanitized version of hell, fire, and brimstone. Sooooooooo glad I do not go there anymore. Sadly, I have no church home now and I do miss that fellowship. But the Lord has other plans for me and I am excited to walk in His lead.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. We left our last church when a married woman decided that she didn’t want our daughter to have a relationship with the pastor’s oldest son. They were great friends and it seemed to be moving into a romantic relationship. This woman who I thought was my friend started interrupting every time they were together. I honestly thought I was imagining it at first and finally realized I wasn’t. He left my daughter for her. I didn’t care because I knew that if he was the one for my daughter – he wouldn’t have turned his attention to this married woman. Her husband was in jail at the time. (another story in itself).

    There were honestly a lot more problems with this woman and her family. Her oldest daughter at 14 went after the pastor’s 26 yr. old son and eventually married him. She has left him and their two kids. It’s a mess. Her other kids are a mess.

    The pastor ended up resigning and now comes to the church we’ve been at for ten years. It was really awkward at first but that pastor’s wife has asked for forgiveness for all of it. I don’t hold it against her as I know they were completely duped by this woman and her family. They’ve paid the price. For three years this woman tried to mess with my grown kids and played mind games. We now avoid her like the plague!

    We’ve seriously considered leaving the church we’re at now. Our pastor is a good guy but he allows really weird older pastor’s to come and speak and in all honesty some of them are just down right crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. NJ… Even the “Grace boys” have their issues.

    I was banned from posting on one site for questioning their blessed doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Because death/perish/destroy/consume clearly means something else. “Test all things” actually means:

    Test all things, except the doctrines WE hold dear.

    Because… you know, it’s impossible that we are wrong.

    To be able to stand back, and ask the Lord to take away all the years of religion and indoctrination enables you to read the Scriptures with fresh eyes.

    You start to see more of:

    “BEHOLD! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.

    Get it.

    takes it away.

    Sin.

    These fruit loops are like a broken record.

    They have no rest because they’re trying busily to justify themselves.

    Thank the Lord he can save from the guttermost to the uttermost.

    Like

  33. All of the comments here lie somewhere between stunning, horrific and heartbreaking. And this is the “church” being discussed. God must shake his head.

    The travesties seem to come down to secrecy, power, the law, and earned righteousness. There are those who ask for protection from abuse or molestation and are told instead to keep their terrible secrets and provide cover for wicked people. There are leaders who come to see themselves as god-like and infallible, those who insist that our grace must be proven and earned. They put upon believers a heavy weight of guilt that God never intended. And finally, the “God hates divorce” folks perpetuate a myth that all divorce is sin, that cruelty in marriage is preferable to divorce. None of those things reflect the heart of God.

    This is how we know when the church we are in is biblical: when the character and nature of God is revealed with such simple and wondrous clarity that we are drawn to Him and hunger to know Him better, for as we begin to see His heart, we cannot help but find Him utterly irresistible. It’s never about us and always about Him and what He has already done. We just get to be a part of His story and to live out His love in the body and in our little corners of the world. The truth is that, apart from Him, we can do nothing. And that living, breathing faith we are privileged to enjoy is never a burden but an amazing partnership – friendship with God. No pressure, no secrets, no power structure.

    If you don’t find that at your church, it’s time to go.

    Sadly, we have stopped looking.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. The last straw for me was after I had left my a-h, the pastor wouldn’t listen to me or my report of abuse towards me or the kids (as a mandatory reporter if child abuse, the pastor decided there wasn’t child abuse and wouldn’t report it for an official investigation). He then told me that for him to counsel us and hold a-h accountable for his behavior, we needed to move back in together. If we chose not to then we would be brought before the church for church discipline. As this was a mega church, I had no desire for so many people to know what the pastor thought about my “allegations” and I left.

    After I left, the pastor proceeded to counsel my a-h how to continue to stalk and abuse us without being prosecuted by the law…in order to cut off all support and feeling of safety that I may find so that I would feel that I had no choice but to return to my a-h.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. One sad thought I had reading through these is that I know a lot of people who would discount just about every one of these stories mainly because the “tone” they’re shared in and the strong language used would somehow invalidate the stories to them – “talk to me when you can say it nicer”.

    Let’s just say that in the light of these things going on, I could not care less about language anymore.

    Liked by 6 people

  36. @govpappy

    I know a lot of people who would discount just about every one of these stories mainly because the “tone” they’re shared in and the strong language used would somehow invalidate the stories to them

    Said people would probably wag their finger at Jesus for driving those who were buying and selling out of the temple. “He just didn’t do that sweetly enough.”

    Meanwhile, another child is raped, another adult is shunned, another wife hides her bruises, and the good “Christians” sweetly warm their pews each Sunday morning. How callous.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. I was not allowed to join because my husband told one of the elders it would be better if we joined together. Except he never took the steps to join.

    I had been meeting with the pastor for several months and he knew what was going on. When I came in with a review for a strip club my husband had written and said I was done he said “maybe it’s time for [the elder above] and I to sit down with you and your husband.

    He did back down after I had a panic attack right in front of him…

    Liked by 1 person

  38. For me, it was the continuous harping on my lack of faith that was the final straw. The cult church’s sheep dog used her position in the pulpit to obliquely criticize my love of rock music, CB radio, and other supposedly unholy things. I believe that God used that to pry me out of that bogus church.

    I wrote my memoir of how badly fooled I was and how God led me to freedom. Contact me please if you’re interested in hearing more about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I was facilitator of the men’s sexual abuse support group at my last church- WBC. While training for a newly adopted curriculum, I realized that it used shame to try to pressure recovery in 8 weeks or you weren’t trusting Jesus enough. The curriculum also taught it was un-christlike to report your abuser to the authorities. When I tried to present my concerns, I was told they weren’t even going to listen because they spent too much money on the curriculum not to use it. We left a little while later.

    Fast forward to last month when listening to a recent sermon online our ex-pastor decided to give a horribly shaming sermon on sexual abuse. It was one big manipulative sales pitch for Jesus. The pastor finished by saying abusers are not just welcomed but wanted even when they have “set backs” and experience “failure”. No guidelines were given except for them to be sorry for what they have done.

    It’s not a setback or failure as the pastor tried to suggest, he needs to stop trying to minimize criminal behavior. I know for a fact they were informed of at least two situations where they ethically should have reported to the authorities and didn’t. By law they are mandated reporters but laws are sufficiently vague to seem to allow their inaction.

    Their child protection policies are written in a way they think allows them to skirt around their legal and moral obligation to report potential abuse. When I informed them of this shortcoming in their protection policy they said I know them and they could be trusted to do the right thing. Um, not really.

    WBC’s yearly staff training regarding child protection has been led by camp Kanakuk who’s owners are still fighting restitution when they were found to have knowingly covered up the abuse of campers by a staff member.

    Even though we lost most of our friends and support, my wife and I are glad we are not at that church. We have since realized so many other manipulative and controlling things they did and are glad to be recovering from the spiritual abuse. It’s upsetting to consider how many people are just blindly trusting themselves and their kids to such a dangerous environment.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. My story is a little different. We were members of an IFB church. The principal of the church school, who was beloved by all had an affair with a teacher. After it came out he and the teacher had to do the walk of shame before the congregation. Ex principal got super depressed and was sent to some kind of rehab. He was sent back home because they were afraid he would commit suicide. He did commit suicide. Our 10 year old daughter had been good friends with his 10 year old daughter for 5 years. Our older kids had been taught by this man. It was truly devastating for our whole family. Enough so that we moved out of that town (that we had lived in for 21 years) to a town 30 miles away. It was a true tragedy that still brings tears to my eyes. The reaction of the church was to double down on the legalism. A few years after we left one of the male teachers was caught having an inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old female student.

    Interestingly enough before we left we were told we could not leave until we were replaced by new tithers. And we were encouraged to attend an IFB church in the new town. I told them I would never step foot in a Baptist church again.

    Our whole family was affected by this. There was definitely major sin involved, but it was handled so very badly.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. We left a church after a year long process of advocating for our pastor’s daughter-in-law. Her husband, the pastor’s son, committed serious crimes in the marriage. Addicted to porn, pulled a gun on her twice, marital rape, alcohol abuse. After three years, she left the marriage. Her father-in-law, our former pastor, tried to quietly and secretly get her to return to the marriage without anyone noticing. She refused. She was treated terribly by all of the elders. She was refused help at a counseling center because our pastor sits on the board. The elder board held a trial with 14 witnesses testifying against her. Many of them were relatives of the pastor or friends of his son. My husband and I were shocked at the cover up, the arrogance toward an abused woman, the relatives on the elder board that protected their nephew and pastor’s son, and the refusal to get any outside help for the serious abuses in the marriage. The church ended up publicly excommunicating her, and her husband spoke at the service. He signed the divorce papers four days later, and quickly moved onto the next girl. Numerous members have approached the leadership, only to be dismissed, and humiliated.
    We were in this church for 15 years, and it is so sad to see the disgrace this has brought to a small community, and to the name of Jesus.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Do you notice the pattern of believing men over women in some of these comments? Leslie’s comment about finding replacement tithers is a new abuse I’ve never heard before. That wreaks of treating church attenders as objects to own, not as free agents.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. There were a series of “last straws” for me at the supposed “Bible-believing” church that I had been a member of for 8+ years.

    *Pastors/Elders permitted their friend a Megan’s List sex offender to become a church member, gave him a leadership position, and access to kids and told NO ONE. I found him inadvertently on Megan’s List while doing a legal research project for a prosecutor. The pastors/elders defended him and said I was “destined for Hell” for bringing up the safety of our children. The pastors/elders said he was safe and “coming off Megan’s List”. His supervising law enforcement agency called that story “all lies” and “total lies”. The chairman of the elder board called me at home and told me that the elders had decided that I was to never contact law enforcement again, give them the name of the church, or the names of the pastors/elders. Of course I gave the sex offenders task force ALL of that, plus all of their home addresses, workplaces, cell phone numbers, etc. I gave same to CA Attorney General’s Office which called my pastors/elders liars.

    *Elder-Rule/Men Only Teaching. Got really tired of the whole arrogant Comp doctrine teaching. That because a man has a penis and can run his mouth he’s smarter, better, and gooder than women. Insufferable. Elders were chosen because they’re all friends and are “yes men”. No outsiders allowed. Women? Never!

    *Membership Covenants. Will never sign one again. They are used to support authoritarian control of power structure and as a crowbar for pastors/elders to insinuate themselves into members’ lives…about anything. There is no Holy Spirit…because you have elders who make all of the decisions. Truly, a ship of fools!

    *Congregational Vote. None allowed. It’s sufferable. There was no respect for the priesthood of all believers and our equality in Christ.

    *Patriachy. This doctrine of men was shoved down our throat like it was on par with The Gospel. It’s a doctrine of men and all of the proponents are being felled by sex abuse scandals. The big proponents of it – Southern Baptists – have the highest divorce rate in the nation now, higher than atheists! High rates of incest and sex abuse too. Domestic violence. Felt like being in radical Islam.

    *Meetings. We were all ordered in to meetings and screamed at for any reason. Ganged up on. Told we were bringing an accusation against an elder without cause if we questioned anything. Told we were never to tell anyone.

    *Hell. Threatened with it for any adult thought.

    *Roman Catholic Church. For all that they – the NeoCals – say they hate the RCC they have set up a power structure exactly like them. Senior pastor=pope; elders/assoc pastors=cardinals. Complete with excommunications and shunnings.

    *Boundaries. None. Enmeshed leadership with church members. Church members enmeshed with others or trying. A sick, authoritarian system that attracted people from abusive backgrounds who never matured. Perpetual state of bad boundaries and immaturity.

    *Toxic people. Told I had to be friends with unhealthy people. No thanks. I pass.

    *Excommunications/shunnings. Godly doctor in his 70s was first to “walk the plank”. Reason? He dissented in private with the pastors/elders. They made him “pay” and told the entire church to never talk to him or his wife again. His wife told me she’d always hated that church and those leaders and warned her husband they shouldn’t go there. Doctor is a long-time close personal friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s, who was outraged! Middle-aged woman who wanted to leave and thought church unhealthy was subjected to same. I was subjected to excommunication/shunning in Sept ’14 regarding sex offender.

    *Biblical Counseling. They don’t believe in outside professional help. Failed to get older woman alcoholic to a doctor. Other people have serious problems and should be in professional therapy to resolve their issues and pasts. None of it. Toxic, toxic, toxic.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. First church: Left because I wanted a church closer to home so I could get more involved. And I was treated like crap because I was single and divorced.

    Second church: Was United Pentecostal. Ran away screaming when I found out what they really believe.

    Last church: Was flat and uninspired. One week, the pastor asked people who were lonely to come forward for prayer. I was one of four who did. Most people didn’t even bother to get up and pray for those who were there. I was so embarrassed and humiliated.

    A few weeks later on Mother’s Day, they asked mothers who needed prayer to come forward. I ran out of the church. As I was sitting in my car crying, I thought: “Wait a minute. I just ran out of a church because I was afraid I would be humiliated by asking for prayer! What’s wrong with this?!?” That way May 2008. I’ve never been back, and will never go back.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Pingback: Voices | Sparking Conversation

  46. @Jason B.

    You were right to stand your ground about sex abuse and sex offenders. (I have posted resources here on the subject at the top of the page under the Off-Topic Discussion tab. Videos, books, articles, etc.)

    The sexual abuse of minors is the No. 1 reason that churches are sued every year. Cites: Richard Hammar, attorney, Church Law & Tax; Church Mutual, the largest insurer of churches in the U.S.
    Sex offenders intentionally target churches to get new victims because churches are so irresponsible and give them access. (This from sex offenders’ interviews and experts like Dr. Anna Salter.)
    1 out of 3 girls will be sex abused by the age of 17; 1 out of 6 boys will be sex abused by the age of 17.
    Sex abuse has long-lasting impact and does much damage.
    Victims in churches frequently leave as do their families; most all are shunned and treated terribly at a time that they are hurting the most.
    Sex offenders can prey upon hundreds of children before getting caught, if they’re ever caught.

    Like

  47. There were alarm bells going off for weeks at our new-ish church, and I started documenting everything I experienced. That was the biggest clue something was seriously wrong.

    Then someone questioned the pastor after a sermon full of utter theological craziness. The response from the other church members was horrifying, like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “I used to feel like you do, but I’m glad I saw it his way. Things are so much better now…”

    My husband and I sat there, pressing out knees against each other’s to communicate our shock. I sometimes wish one of us had said something, but I believe it would have gone very badly. We left quietly the next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. There was no outright abuse that we knew of, but our last church was obviously on the whole patriarchal trajectory. To name just one example, when I found out the elders were going to import the men’s ministry curriculum from the Bayly brothers’ Clearnote churches, I wanted to leave right then. This church had been leaning in the federal vision direction for years and holding men such as Doug Wilson in high esteem; then this happened. There were some other weird things that had gone on, but for me that was the straw on the spine of the even-toed ungulate.

    Liked by 3 people

  49. When the pastor never even asked for my side of the story; rather, he told me I would have to stand before God and answer for leaving the husband he gave me. (Um, no, God had no hand in that marriage. I did it all by myself.) In that pastor’s eyes, the man was ALWAYS right. I saw it happen to numerous couples. Even a case where he colluded with the lying husband to remove the nursing baby from the home and hide her with his own wife. (Leaving the nursing mother without even a breast pump, for heaven’s sake.)

    I won’t mention that church’s name but its initials were CC……………………

    Liked by 1 person

  50. I’ve never heard of replacement tithers, but when I left the wannabe KJVO church, I was informed that I was a member until I joined with a church of like faith. So apparently I’m still stuck with KJVO church membership even though I reject KJVO completely. So there is at least similar weirdness out there.

    BTW, I love my KJV. I just reject the idea that a Bible I didn’t understand well until recently is the only way to receive the Scriptures.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. haha Bike Bubba,

    I went through the KJVO/IFB Club. Not coming from a churchy background I found it really quite entertaining. I was kicked out of home as a 17 yr old and I’m a female. God graciously gave me a fabulous job (not something single, unmarried women under 20 who live out of home have in those circles).

    I lived in the city in a nice apartment and would trottle off to this IFB place three times a week (as you do, because you’re ‘faithful’ to the Club).

    I remember someone telling me once that living in the city was not wise and there’s more sin there. I told them that considering I was living amongst all the gays it was probably where Jesus would want me, given I’m not a man and they need to hear about Him. 😀

    I too read the KJV. I just get a big marker and cross out phrases not in the Greek like:

    “The Office of a Bishop”.

    Check out ‘The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy’ on youtube (also can be read online). It’s all about how the KJV translators added Churchy words to justify their institution with Bishops etc. Very very eye opening.

    I thank God for my experiences in both sides of the Spectrum. Contemporary Pentecostal/Charismatic and Conservative KJVO/IFB. If anything, I have come away from it all knowing that being zealous for the Lord is a good thing and singing about it joyful to CCM nothing to be ashamed about. haha. Also, having a love of the truth and a desire to know why we believe what we do and be willing to be like Bereans.

    God is good. A rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    Liked by 2 people

  52. Actually, for the most part, the KJV translators didn’t “add” churchy words at all. They simply transliterated words (e.g. “bishop” for “episcopos” or “overseer”, “baptize” for “baptizo” or “immerse”) in such a way that a stronger case was made for episcopal (“bishopy”) church government and a Catholic/Episcopalian understanding of sacraments/ordinances.

    So not quite adding, and my apologies for an off topic comment, but figured that would be edifying to many here. The word “episcopos” certainly appears in 1 Timothy 3:1 in all of the manuscript families, like TR, eclectic, majority, etc.. Mis-translation, but not “addition”, strictly speaking.

    To a comment from our gracious hostess about ten comments ago, I would say that more generally it’s a pattern of believing those with authority versus those without. Now many times, yes, that is a pattern of believing men over women, but note that a couple of comments here mention female pastors being perpetrators of some abuse. Not as big an issue, to be sure, but that’s simply because most pastors, even in denominations friendly to female pastors, happen to be male.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Frequently watching so called “church discipline” being applied to the members of the congregation was just crazy. I am free now! Not afraid of sinful man/pastor. “Fear of man brings a snare” says the Bible. Luke 12:5 spoke to me, “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

    Liked by 1 person

  54. It truly is horrendous what goes on in many supposedly Christian churches. From the start, there have been toxic churches which have traded the gospel for tyranny. Just read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Jude’s epistle, and the first three chapters of Revelation. Satan loves to mess up churches. Sinners are in his back pocket but it’s those who belong to Christ whom he seeks to destroy or distract.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Finally lost so much we had nothing left to lose, nothing left to give–and began to realize we’d been psychologically abused, and couldn’t imagine allowing our kids to end up like us. The darker stuff came out a few months after we left…

    Liked by 2 people

  56. The last straw for us was when they excommunicated our daughter for leaving her abusive husband without their permission… announcing this in a Sunday morning service and telling people not to speak to her. We had already seen a huge shift in doctrine embracing neo-Calvinism: restructuring of leadership to give them more control, getting rid of a female music leader (who had been serving in music forever and was loved by everyone) and any female adult SS teachers, plus upgrading church membership to a “covenant” commitment and making everyone read it out loud together in the Sunday morning service (I kept silent & wondered if anyone noticed), etc. We had been feeling more and more oppressed and felt great relief and freedom when we left. However, it is VERY hard to trust again and we’re determined never to become members anywhere again.There was a financial element involved in our situation… because we were missionaries supported by the church they chose to use that as leverage to pressure our daughter to stay in her marriage and tried to make her promise she’d never leave no matter how bad things got. They seemed completely shocked when we walked away from the $$$ in order to support our daughter. Go figure.

    Liked by 3 people

  57. @Anonymous at 6:36 pm

    I am so glad that you supported your daughter. These NeoCal churches have given way to the Salem Witch Trials II it seems. An insufferable amount of control over adults’ lives, not respecting the priesthood of all believers, the domination of women, patriarchy and other un-Biblical non-sense. (As one man here put it, the NeoCal’s war on women is “Shehad” (She+Had, like Jihad.)

    I have found a great deal of comfort in Pastor Wade Burleson’s blog articles about these topics.

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/01/our-problem-is-authoritarianism-and-not.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/05/five-reasons-to-say-no-to-church.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2008/09/growing-semi-arianism-in-sbc-and.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2009/07/god-calls-patriarchal-headship-sinful.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/05/connection-between-christian-patriarchy.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/06/eternal-subordination-and-sbc-divorce.html

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/09/the-woman-of-error-in-i-timothy-212.html

    Like

  58. The Church I left was a local Presbyterian Church. I had been attending there for fifteen years and was very much involved in the Children’s ministry. However, it wasn’t until I was voted onto the Board of Management did I begin to see the leadership as they really were. I am a bookkeeper and it took me only ten minutes to realise that they were ‘up to no good’. After I drew their attention to some of things I had discovered, over the next five months things got worse instead of better. After examining the ‘books’ and discovering what I believe was fraudulent behavior I left the Presbyterian Church but I wasn’t prepared to just walk away. This has culminated in a 5 year battle, which is full on a the moment, with the hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. Yours prayers would be greatly appreciated as I try and have the leadership held responsible for what I had uncovered.

    Liked by 2 people

  59. There were two endpoints: when my abusive pastor stood up in front of the congregation in a meeting that was supposedly to address his conflict with me and others and said “The first thing you need to know is that I have done nothing wrong.”

    And the second was when my brother-in-law told me if I kept attending, I was acting like an victim of domestic violence who kept going back to her abuser. That pulled me up short.

    He was referring to the pastor of course, but also to the church as a whole. After 20+ years of faithful service at about 20 (unpaid) hours a week, almost no one ever spoke to me again after that meeting. I learned recently that I am still being blamed—three years on–for the current problems of the church.

    At first I was sad to be rejected by people in whom I had invested so much. But it was only a few weeks before my initial regret turned to giddy relief that I never had to endure such small-minded people again! So much happier now. My faith is strong, and I have been found a new and loving church; six months in it is still a safe place and is beginning to feel like it might be home. God has blessed me all over….he took all those ugly accusations and said “Nope. Here’s what I think of this daughter of mine”. And what God says always wins.

    Thanks for doing this, Julie. It has been amazing to read everyone’s unique stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  60. @Anonymous at 6:36 p.m.

    Thanks for standing up for your daughter! What a horrible situation the church put her through…and to excommunicate her and threaten you parents.

    Like

  61. I left my first church when I got a bill from them estimating the tithe I owed them. I give cash and don’t request a record for taxes. They wouldn’t back down. The next 2 churches I left for insisting I submit to the pastors for all decisions in my life – what job to take, where to live, etc. One even called me a Jezebel when I told him God and I were doing just fine with the decision making Due to the increasing politics in the church and the increasing teaching that pastors must be obeyed and never questioned I have stopped going to church altogether.

    Liked by 3 people

  62. We left our former church twice. We thought we had found a place where we could stay forever–loving people, praying people, small community church. Then enter new, young, neo-Calvinist pastor. We didn’t know at the time he was a neo-Calvinist but I always thought he had a dark cloud over his head–I was the only member who voted ‘No’. His true colors showed after about one year. Condemnation, calling children the spawn of Satan. We would walk out doubting our salvation. So, we left. Long story short, when he started telling the congregation that we weren’t Christians and they should shun us, the board told him not to come back. They invited us to return and we did.
    Enter a former pastor who returned to fill in until a new one could be found.

    Our daughter left her abusive husband. As I’ve read so many times since then, she became the bad girl and he was the good boy because he was so sorry. He started attending church and apparently cried many tears. After a confrontation in our driveway with my husband, when I feared for his life, I called the police. A release order was in place. He showed in church…..they let him in. I was home that day and was surprised to see my husband return very soon. We had a meeting with board and were told the church is a public building, anyone is welcome. One board member who we thought was a friend said that SIL may have done something to our daughter and her kids but he had never done anything to him!! They would not ask him to go elsewhere. I told them why we were not able to go back. I said my heart was broken. We had put much into that church. They sat in silence. We got up and walked out. They chose to support a wolf instead of the sheep and lambs. Ex-SIL still says he is a changed man but his actions say otherwise.

    It’s a few years later and still very painful. Only one couple has remained friends–and they still go there! No one else has talked to us about it.

    What do you do when you’re in your late sixties and your world changes like this? You trust only in Jesus. Trust in people does not come easy.

    Liked by 3 people

  63. Anotherone – It looks like you are in good company here. Both situations you describe are tragic. There is something seriously wrong when a pastor/church takes care of perpetrators over victims.

    Liked by 2 people

  64. I left my first church when I got a bill from them estimating the tithe I owed them.

    Niteowl,

    Obviously to them, you were only $$$$. That is shameful. You definitely experienced high-controlling and abusive pastors! It’s understandable why you have stopped going to church.

    Liked by 2 people

  65. But it was only a few weeks before my initial regret turned to giddy relief that I never had to endure such small-minded people again!

    Yea!!!! Thanks for sharing your story, L.J. It’s nice to read a happy ending. 🙂

    Like

  66. I am so sad after reading all of the tragic stories here. Why do we ever put up with this?

    Personally, I do not have a terrible tragedy, just disillusionment. I’ve been a Christian 40 years and have attended several churches. Apart from 2 that had excellent teaching and fellowship, it’s mostly been one problem after another.

    The first church I went to started off teaching the Bible but became abusive and controlling. They began telling us how to dress and wear our hair, what to think, who to vote for, etc. I woke up when they started teaching infant whipping. Things went from bad to worse after we left there, they ended up bombing an abortion clinic and the pastor and other leaders served time in prison.

    Another Baptist church we attended, we were love bombed the minute we walked in the door! I thought this was the most wonderful spirit-filled place! We were invited into everyone’s homes, made so many good friends. Ha!! One day all that love was quietly withdrawn. Cold, polite smiles, avoidance of conversation. At first I thought it was just in my mind but it went on for weeks. It was surreal and so confusing. I lost a loved one right at this same time and the grief was raw, I did not have it in me to pursue what was happening. I was at that state where if you just open your mouth you’ll start to cry. I did not receive so much as a card from anyone at the church, they did not even pray for me. Then I attended a ladies’ event. The leader prayed that “all the women here would feel welcome and loved.” I, however, was being shunned, it was painfully obvious. Then I noticed a woman sitting next to the pastor was glaring at me with the most hateful expression. It was shocking. I looked away in surprise, it must be some fluke, but I looked back and she was still glaring very pointedly at me. Well, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and when I told my husband about the whole evening he said, “we are never going back to that place again.” But I kept wondering what had I done? What is so terrible about me that these people would turn on me like this? And at such a time? It was a year later I found out a rumor had gone around that I had said I ‘didn’t think the pastor was as good as the pastor at my old church’! I never said this and have no idea who started it or why but the fact this would have such an affect on those people is amazing.

    We tried another church that had a sign out front “the friendly church.” I was still hurting from the former experience, still grieving the death, and at this point had started having some problems with my teenager that I really needed support through. I was unable to connect with anyone at this church though I tried and tried. Our kids were treated like outsiders by the youth. One time the ending music touched a nerve and I couldn’t hold back tears. I walked out of that church sobbing, walked through crowds of people, past that sign, and no one looked at me or said a word to me. Finally, I attended a ladies’ event and after unsuccessfully trying to break into conversation for a half hour I asked myself why am I doing this to myself? I walked out and did not go back.

    Then we found a very caring, more liberal church. These people were accepting and affirming. The message was, it’s ok to not be perfect! The preaching was full of grace. I began to heal here, made friends, and became involved. It was a great place for a couple of years. Then the preaching started to change. The pastor decided he was actually a ‘prophet’ and God was speaking to him audibly- mainly about everything that was wrong with us. It got very weird and controlling. The whole atmosphere changed, people started leaving, and it finally came unraveled in an astounding debacle. Well, it was nice while it lasted…

    We kept trying to find a new church. We visited one that insists “heaven is due north,” another one that practically locked us in to force us to go forward at the altar call, one with old fashioned liturgy someone snored loudly through, the rock band church that passes out earplugs at the door, the wannabe megapastor drumming up support at the school auditorium, we checked them all out… One day an aggressive person tried to hit me with a multi-level marketing attempt after a service, it was really unpleasant, and some sort of scales fell off my eyes. I started to see the whole church scene as someone outside of the church would and it looked like one mess after another. I needed to step back and take some time to figure things out.

    I have so many more stories…

    Liked by 2 people

  67. Niteowl, I know an older couple who were not able to keep up their normal tithe amount after retirement and health problems, and their church sent their tithe “bill” to collections!

    Liked by 1 person

  68. I believe that spiritual gifts still operate today. I was an elder at a church where that was nominally accepted, but unfortunately the pastor was not letting the Holy Spirit operate, he was really dominating things. Someone in the church claimed to have a prophecy, someone whom I trust like no one else in the world, a person whom I’ve known since childhood and just is not the type to promote herself. She told me about the prophecy, word-for-word (to paraphrase, it was about how the people of the church needed to be in the boat, helping out, part of the action, but that currently pastor and wife the only ones guiding the boat). She went to the pastor in private, not wanting to publicly call him out, and told him the prophecy. At the next service, pastor announced from the pulpit that “S had a prophecy about us, let me tell it to you all …”. When he delivered the “prophecy”, it came out like, “Things are going to go fine in this church, all’s well, I’m the captain and you sailors just need good training.” Completely turned it on its head, a perfect lie.

    Later, when I approached him about his accumulating lies (the above was one in a series), he responded “I never lie, I thank God I have no problem with lying.” That one was no paraphrase, I’ll never forget those exact words. I turned around and walked away and never went back.

    Liked by 3 people

  69. Anotherone… If you were standing in front of me now I would ask to give you a big hug, make you a coffee and would want to pray with you.

    His people are still around… battered, but here. 🙂 You are definitely not alone.

    I pray for believers who can come to my home, share a meal, pray together, bear each other’s burden and simply be encouraged in the Scriptures. (without CHARGING THEM under the guise of ‘service’)

    Not spend hours labouring over what Calvin really meant about chosen/elect or how God wants to burn all the homosexuals and adulterers (and not the tax cheats or poly/cotton wearers).

    Liked by 4 people

  70. Folks, I had a post ready for today, but there are still people commenting on this thread. The name of this blog is Spiritual Sounding Board and it’s not primarily for me to “sound off,” but for you. I know what it was like for me when I finally used my voice to share what happened. I’m not convinced that we have exhausted this important topic, so I’ll hold off on a new post for a bit. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    I also greatly appreciate the support you have shown one another here.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe we’re all sitting here taking this. Why won’t I get up and leave?”

    Normal human beings don’t like gratuitous conflict, normal human beings are not always “on their game”, carrying out a plan to dominate and control, normal human beings tend to think well of others, and assume there must be some reasonable explanation, normal human beings just like to get along with people and tend to love other people, however imperfectly it’s expressed.

    Normal human beings are not like sociopaths, psychopaths and sadistic NPDs. They are always on their game, always scheming, always think the worst of others, always looking to turn the situation to their own benefit, always willing to do whatever it takes, however cynical and ruthless and hateful, to get what they want, including, if they think the time is right and the congregation has been sufficiently groomed for it, to viciously slander a follower of Jesus in front of the congregation, to abuse and berate a congregation so as to break down their will.

    The hard part is, it would seem that so many of our positions of power in the church have been taken by these ruthless, evil characters, and they are also capable of at least a brittle sort of goodness for public consumption, enough to fool many genuine Christians.

    But didn’t Jesus tell us about the antichrists who would come, deceiving, if possible, even the elect? Why should we be surprised?

    Liked by 2 people

  72. @lifewithporpoise. Thanks for the hug and for caring. I think sometimes people’s thoughts and hearts get twisted–they want to believe that someone has come in, repented and become a new person. However they neglect to ask those who are close to the situation. An abuser can be very charming and some Christians very naive.

    Liked by 3 people

  73. @Shy1

    I woke up when they started teaching infant whipping.

    I wish I had woken up when my former “church” taught the same. Unfortunately, I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I was going to raise kids the “right” way. Ugh.

    I’m glad you got out when you did. I’m glad we shifted gears while our children were young enough to (hopefully) recover from it.

    I know an older couple who were not able to keep up their normal tithe amount after retirement and health problems, and their church sent their tithe “bill” to collections!

    Wow! Our membership covenant specified that not tithing was robbing God, and it was a point of fellowship. You could be disciplined for not tithing. But . . . collections? How could they enforce that? When a “church” operates like that it should lose it’s tax exempt status. At that point it’s operating as a for-profit business.

    Liked by 2 people

  74. Sr. pastor was ‘taking care of me as a (disabled) widow’ and going to sell the house my husband and I had lived in as I was downsizing. Elders daughter and her family moved in and was going to buy it. They agreed to pay expenses, etc. until the sale went thru. I was taking care of my Mother who was ill and dying. I continued to pay the utilities because I couldn’t see turning off the utilities for three small children as I was continuously told ‘we are taking care of this.’ And I wasn’t getting the agreed to expenses.

    After fifteen months of no sale taking place and my Mother dying, I gave them a time period to buy the house or move. I was told that I couldn’t make them move out of the house because I would look bad to the church. I honored my word on the time period; nothing happened. Pastors nor those living in the house would answer my emails or phone calls. The locks on the house had been changed. I was told they were not going to let me in the house nor the contractor I had hired to do repairs for damages that had been done. I had to do a legal eviction to get them out of the house.

    The house had been torn up. I got a realtor who tried to sell as is. The comments on broken mirrors, smeared paint on everything, demolished and dead landscaping, torn out and cut off cabinets, broken appliances, holes in doors and walls, etc. was endless. I ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars just getting the house in a sellable condition. Not to mention I never got the agreed to expenses the house cost me for the time they lived in the house.

    Still, the pastors wouldn’t talk to me. Finally, a meeting took place after other members of the church and another church got involved. I was told that I should “forgive and forget and be friends again.”

    The grandmother of the girl living in the house (daughter of the elder) told me that she and her son and the pastors knew when ‘the kids’ moved in the house that they didn’t have the money or the credit to buy the house. So I guess the pastors, the leadership families, and all concerned were okay with known deception to me, ‘the widow they wanted to take care of’ for those fifteen months.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. One of the pastors at a cultlike church we briefly attended said if you could ‘t make your tithe then you would have to make it up. With interest

    Liked by 2 people

  76. I think there’s a lot of wicked men but it doesn’t mean we’re all jerks. The same goes for bossy women. Seems to me that control freaks tend to love positions of power because they can have more control over others.

    I also notice that Satan does his hardest work to pervert the followers of Christ. That’s why there are so many folks falling for supposed angels of light. We can’t judge hearts directly but we can tell wicked and false Christians by their fruits. Until we reach heaven or Christ returns again, we have to be on our guard like Jude warns in his brief-but-powerful epistle.

    Bruce Atchison.

    Liked by 2 people

  77. It certainly is an important topic. So many wounded Christians never get the help they desperately need. Worse yet, those who were fortunate not to have been in an abusive congregation lack the empathy and will to reach out to folks like us. We’re like spiritual lepers to those sort of people.

    This is why we need to help each other and comfort each other with the comfort we were comforted with. I’m glad this group is here because we have gone through things which average Christians can’t even imagine. The worst is the reactions when they hear we believed all the garbage we did when we were misled. My hope is that by making this situation known to church leaders, they can start to educate their congregations.

    Bruce Atchison.

    Liked by 2 people

  78. Tithing is one weapon abusive pastors use to great effect. The wrench Malachai 3:10 out of its context and bully people into giving. Of course they don’t bother with all the other rules and regulations in the Old Testament since it won’t bring in the cash.

    I give about 10% but I don’t consider that I’ve done my full duty to God and can stop helping. It should be between the believer and God regarding how much to give.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. @AnotherOne:

    As I’ve read so many times since then, she became the bad girl and he was the good boy because he was so sorry. He started attending church and apparently cried many tears.

    Like I’ve said before, I used to see my younger brother turn the “so so sorry” and “crying many tears” of genuine remorse and repentance on and off like a light switch. CLICK ON! CLICK OFF! CLICK ON! CLICK OFF!

    Like

  80. BTDT,

    Our membership covenant specified that not tithing was robbing God, and it was a point of fellowship. You could be disciplined for not tithing. But . . . collections? How could they enforce that? When a “church” operates like that it should lose it’s tax exempt status. At that point it’s operating as a for-profit business.

    Or like organized crime. Kind of like this guy:

    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=366387

    Or bunch of blood-sucking fiends, like this spooky thing:

    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=368970

    Like

  81. Jude’s epistle speaks loud and clear to me. So many creepy people creep into congregations and destroy the fellowship they have with Christ. Satan knows his Bible, as we learn in Christ’s temptation in the desert, and he twists scriptures to mislead us. This is why it’s crucial that new believers be discipled. I never received mentoring so I got caught up in Armstrongism and then a cultic house church.

    By God’s grace, I now know how to read the Word of God. Good Bible teachers like R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharias, and Hank Hanegraaff led me out of error and into the glorious light of the heavenly Father. My hope and prayer is to lead others out of Satan’s religions and into the freedom we have in Jesus.

    author Bruce Atchison.

    Like

  82. Some of you may not know that I have a Questionnaire on my website available for people to share their disheartening spiritual abuse stories and how they recovered. These are for my personal file and are totally confidential. It is an opportunity for people to document their story with someone who has researched this topic.

    My website is: wwwChurchExiters.com

    http://www.churchexiters.com/add-your-voice/

    “YOU can ‘Add Your Voice’ to this issue by completing a survey.

    Introduction

    My ongoing file, a collection of completed questionnaires, are contributions from people who have worked though their ‘muddy tunnel church experiences’ and are now at a place of reasonable spiritual harmony in their lives.

    Your survey responses will be added to the original surveys regarding how people recovered from spiritual abuse in their local churches.

    All survey responses become welcome data for my continued interest to ‘raise the awareness’ of this dysfunction in the Church today.”

    I invite everyone to think about it and take the time to share your story with me.

    If you have any questions/comments, please contact me at:

    info@churchexiters.com

    Like

  83. I also agree. It’s a good idea and it’ll help people to come to grips with what happened to them. Often times, the horrified reactions of “normal” Christians make ex-cult survivors clam up. We need a safe place to unburden ourselves.

    I also hope the research will be used to help those folks who are suffering from post-cult trauma. June Hunt, host of Hope for the Heart and Hope in the Night really helped me in 2003 when I phoned in. She devoted the full 2 hours of Hope in the Night to my problem of church abuse plus she phoned me afterward to make sure I understood what she counseled me to do. If only other ex-cult victims had that sort of caring assistance, they would be greatly helped.

    Liked by 2 people

  84. Barb’s research has already been very helpful for those recovering from a spiritually abusive situation. She wrote a book based off her earlier research called Spiritual Abuse Recovery. The book is available on Amazon. I highly recommend it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Abuse-Recovery-Research-Wholeness/dp/1606089676

    If anyone feels comfortable participating in Barb’s survey, it will continue to add to her growing resource of information on this topic that, IMO, needs more exposure.

    Liked by 1 person

  85. Thanks for your comment, Bruce and BTDT.

    Just to be clear, my research was mainly with folks who attended fairly ‘regular’ churches but with abusive church leadership, rather than those who were fully involved with an outright cult group. Though some church situations were very ‘cult-like’ and the behavior of the church leader/s was so harmful, these were regular evangelical, charismatic, or Pentecostal churches and were not groups which were defined as known or ‘unknown’ cults.

    Bruce, I am glad that you found someone available to talk on the phone with and to help support you in your time of distress when exiting from a cult group. This was so very important for you. Yes, there are many who have been involved in cults who can provide excellent support and insights to help to process one’s disheartening experience. There are many professional counselors who also have skills regarding the effects of cult experiences.

    If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of my book, I have copies available here. Just send me an email and I can give you my address and we can go from there. People can request a signed copy, if they like. 🙂

    Like

  86. I had a faith crisis starting about 2008 but accelerated in 2009. I used to drink the John Piper Kool-Aid. Made career decisions based on it, really bad advice. I was crushed by doubts with the biggest one being the problem of evil. 2 years into my faith crisis a co-worker who is an Air Force Captain befriended me, and he started to pressure me to get involved in Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington. I couldn’t believe what I encountered. I once told Andrew that CJ Mahaney is a fraud and this military officer blew and got so upset he couldn’t work that day. We clashed, he pressured me to come, and I sadly made mistakes as well.

    There was a profound amount of pressure to attend. That included texts, emails, and personal invites when we exercised or talked. This guy expressed love tor me, even when I had a critical bacteria infection that placed me in the ICU and hospital for a month. Then in May 2013 shortly after Andrew asked me to stay in his place, walked me through his wedding album, etc… he made a false accusation at work. He claimed that I was a threat to him and his family. My boss who is a retired US Army LC disciplined me on only hearing one side of the story. I lived under the threat of being reported to law enforcement for a crime I didn’t commit. Meanwhile in the course of time Andrew went and started to recruit another co-worker to Redeemer Arlington. I approached 140 people and sought forgiveness but this is outstanding. The false accusation threatened my name, job, and future employment. An attorney explained why I had a defamation of character lawsuit against this Air Force Captain. The sad part about the situation is that I learned why rape is an issue in the US military. The situation is not resolved I still have been meeting and discussing with Redeemer Arlington over this situation. I sent Jordan Kaulfin a three page email recently kicking the ball back in his lap.

    I also had a unique situation in another church as well. It was called Fairfax Community Church. They have an issue with authoritarianism and I stumbled across information that stunned me. They had a Care Director who was a violent sex offender who had access to family and other information. The church hid the information from the congregation. I was the one who blew the whistle on the situation. The first church I got involved in after spending half my 30’s away from Christianity I left because of corruption issues. Unbelievable…

    I’ve written about both stories at my blog.

    Like

  87. There was no ‘final straw’ just a discovery that I was perfectly happy in my churchless state. but a couple of incidents along the way: An adult sunday school class that was discussing how to limit newcomers while I was there as a visitor. Discovering that “Lyin’ for Jesus” is just okey dokey with quite a few true christians while fighting teaching creationism in public school.

    Liked by 1 person

  88. At the age of 21, I was called into an “intervention” aka kidnapping with the pastor, my parents, and a couple others. After an hour of being humiliated and coerced and finally caving under the pressure, they let me go after I gave my father my cell phones and the understanding the pastor didn’t want me to go to my community college classes, or do any of my part-time work. After a couple days, I quietly took back my phone and when my dad discovered it, he became unusually irate and physically intimidated me. I left my home and the church within 2 weeks. It was for my own safety – emotionally, physically, and spiritually as well as my sanity.

    Liked by 5 people

  89. The tragedy is that I can believe all these stories.

    In the ’90s my dad started a web page and his style is pretty rough-and-ready, but he doesn’t have patience with those who devour and abuse the flock of God. We also only use the KJV and are doctrinally Baptistic. Well, it wasn’t long before the horror stories began to trickle in as readers saw his compassion for the hurting. We thought they were “singular events” at first, but as time went on we began to see there was a trend and there was a a lot of abuse going on in IFB churches as well as others. My dad (who was a pastor for years) has counselled a lot of people over the years in these situations – mostly not long term, but in one or two emails and/or phone calls. He’s repeatedly told them to leave quietly – just get out, don’t stay. We’d seen abusiveness among these types previously, but we had no idea how widespread it was till he started that web page. (As one point – any church that gives Jack Hyles any shred of respect is on our “do not go there” list.)

    My husband and I both have our own stories to tell (don’t have time tonight, maybe later), and we both came to realize the problems before we even got married, so for us, we’re sensitive to which way things are going in the church we attend. We know the perils and have our eyes open, by the grace of God, and I hope we won’t be fooled again like we were in the past. But, for those who have been down the primrose path to end up at the horrors of spiritual abuse my heart hurts. Neither of us were raised in that, nor did we give long years of our lives to it, but what we have experienced makes me realize that it is hard to overestimate or overstate the damage that is done to some people. The stories here confirm that.

    And, I think Mr. Atchison was so right when he said we should comfort one another with the comfort we’ve received. Sometimes we may wonder why we had these tragic experiences. Some of it is impossible to explain. But, if the knowledge that we gained can become a rod in our own hands to defend helpless lambs and sheep from those who would blasphemously destroy them in the name of our sweet and kind Savior, then it is not wasted. It may have injured us badly, but it may work together for someone else’s good, and this will in a small measure redeem the tragedy. Sharing these stories is one way to do this.

    2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Cindy Burrell,

    I appreciated your comment. This part stood out to me.

    “This is how we know when the church we are in is biblical: when the character and nature of God is revealed with such simple and wondrous clarity that we are drawn to Him and hunger to know Him better, for as we begin to see His heart, we cannot help but find Him utterly irresistible.”

    Yes, exactly. Through all the pain and distress that so many people experience through the church and church leadership in particular, people slowly are reconnected to God’s heart and what knowing him should be all about. The contrast is astounding.

    Agreed: “for as we begin to see His heart, we cannot help but find Him utterly irresistible.” This is so beautiful, since it is so TRUE.

    Liked by 1 person

  91. Phoenixtatgirl aka my daughter, Hannah, to see your words makes me gasp. That couldn’t have happened in my home, with my adult child. Yet I was part of that and went along with that as a submissive wife. To think that I could go along with that and the pastor’s “counsel” horrifies me. What a hell hole we were in. I think I will be apologizing to you for the rest of my life. Thank you for forgiving me.

    Liked by 5 people

  92. he made a false accusation at work. He claimed that I was a threat to him and his family. My boss who is a retired US Army LC disciplined me on only hearing one side of the story.

    Knocking his Ring as he did so?

    Like

  93. @Barb O,

    Barb, Do you know anything about the status of the recent research project being done by a woman graduate student (from Texas, I thought) about spiritual abuse. Many answered her questionnaire. Has she been in touch with you?

    Thank you.

    Like

  94. Received some counselling and it was more like beat up shaming, get over it ,move on, just memorise these scriptures and be happy…the things I struggled with was I just couldnt forgive and move on…it was all my fault.
    They were more interested in how they looked than really helping.

    Liked by 1 person

  95. @nessa3,

    I am so sorry you were subjected to that. It also doesn’t surprise me. The majority of “Biblical Counseling” should be called what it is: malpractice.

    My former NeoCal church were the same way…beat up sessions, verbal abuse, demands, lectures, from pastors/elders who had no love, no professional trainining, and no common decency. In order to escape these stupid sessions with them, I’d have (as well as others) “throw them a bone” and act like they’d been super helpful. That was the only way to get them to back off.

    When they excommunicated/order to be shunned any godly Christian for dissent with them, the pastors/elders would lie and tell the entire church membership how much they “had worked” with so-and-so. “Worked” means how much they had beaten up and verbally abused some poor soul.

    Like

  96. I know this is nothing compared to some of the nightmare situations described in these previous comments…yet my moment came when my pastor who had known me my entire life and given premarital counseling to my husband and myself seemed to care largely about defending himself when we brought him some very real hurt.

    Some of his comments did seem to acknowledge the abuse which had been inflicted on me in the name of corporal discipline and the real physical and psychological hurt which had been done by it. And yet he was very defensive about his teachings having never condoned or encouraged such discipline. Multiple of his defensive comments directly contradicted the printed material I still have from premarital counseling. I took that material very seriously at the time- who knows how many other brand-new families have, too!

    My husband’s moment of clarity came partly then and partly when he realized that the pastor, elders, and many church members talked about local fellowship and ministry out of one side of their mouth but then really encouraged his parents and family to join the church (an hour and a half drive at least, putting the possibility of much fellowship or ministry to them at about nil). Then, after having been members for some years, when his father was ill and in and out of the hospital, without a full-time caregiver, at the point of having multiple falls in his unsafe home environment and hiding food in his pockets because he wasn’t always getting meals due to strange family schedules and dynamics, the church’s view, continuing over months and months and months of this, was to pray instead of to visit him or try to help him toward health.

    It’s so messed up when a great God is preached, but when His active love is only shown to people who fit a certain mold. When theology is paramount and relationship goes out the window (but shouldn’t relationship be theology in action?). When who you appear to be on Sunday morning really matters and the rest of the week doesn’t. When adults who say the right holy-sounding words and cry the right broken tears are welcomed into full fellowship while the (often younger) ones whom they hurt are made then to believe they have no right to feel hurt and need to seek out and deal with their own sinful root of bitterness if they feel hurt.

    Should not a healthy theology lead to healthy relationships? Should not active love for God naturally spill over into active love for neighbors? In my opinion, silence benefits no one in the end. Not the one who is hurting, not the one who inflicted the hurt, not the one who counseled them to cover it up. I’m tired of people pretending that just because a church does some good things, we’re not supposed to ever identify real issues that need work. Or that if you have received hurt in a relational situation, you only have responsibility for yourself so you must only deal with your own sin, not deal with or even identify anyone else’s. So a trusted church, one who holds itself up as giving the correct teaching on the Biblical family, fails one family by giving parents ammunition for hurting children instead of giving guidelines not to, and turns their back on on another family who has given them years of membership and money…but, but, but, they’re helping so many families! Just see how many families are happily here on Sunday morning! Let’s focus on that!

    Or what about focusing on being gentle to hurting children or hurting elderly members? Nope, sorry…what hurting children…? Happy, disciplined children here…

    Like

  97. Velour,

    Thanks for asking. Kathryn completed her dissertation and oral defense a number of months ago. She is now doing an internship for a year as the last section to complete for her PhD program. No, I haven’t seen the dissertation yet. I will tell her that you were enquiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  98. I just visited the church exiters site and downloaded the survey. When I get time, I’ll fill it out.

    I’m also glad that people are cautioned not to fill out the survey if it would cause them emotional trauma. That’s highly important for those of us who are still wounded and haven’t properly healed.

    By the way, do you folks find that certain Bible verses trigger bad memories? I find that happens quite often, chiefly because those verses were used to hurt me. The elder woman of the sick house church used many verses about faith to guilt me into working up my faith. Whenever my eyes weren’t healed after the laying on of hands, I felt so guilty and suicidal. I’m glad I didn’t take my life and that God rescued me from that wicked woman and her lover who ran that terrible place.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. @gentlesusan:

    the church’s view, continuing over months and months and months of this, was to pray instead of to visit him or try to help him toward health.

    From long experience, “I’ll Pray For You(TM)” is Christianese for “I can’t be bothered”.

    “You have a saying: ‘We will Pray For You’.
    Well, we also have a saying: ‘PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!'”
    — paraphrase of dialog exchange from Babylon 5

    Like

  100. Hi Barb O.,

    Thanks for the update about Kathryn’s research. Kudos to her for completing her dissertation and oral defense. Wishing her the best of luck with her internship and obtaining her PhD. I hope her work will add to the important body of work being done on this topic.

    Like

  101. Nothing dramatic. Just a steady drip of being treated as though I was a dependent child who needed to believe that the 2 things running our country into the ground were women’s right and same-sex marriage. Never a word about corporate greed nor government corruption.

    There were 2 “last straws, or maybe, “big drips:” #1–pastor refused to marry a couple who had been living together and wanted to make it legal and support his folks by joining the congregation. Pastor said, “move away from each other and live chastely for 6 months, THEN come back and ask me again .” The couple married elsewhere, joined anyway, and are very supportive of the church.
    #2–A friend’s congregation needs a new pastor as the present one took a call out of state. The church body’s hq will not “give them permission” to begin the call process (hiring) for a full year so that they “can wean themselves away from the old pastor.” W? T? H?

    I’m probably “A Done” at this point. When I was a child my church began teaching me logically and respectfully and responsibly what to believe. I know what I believe. I’ve observed most pastors in my church careless about visiting the sick; if, God forbid, I should be in hospital, I will request the chaplain counsel me. I’ve had my memorial service written out for years–anyone can lead it. My children. Were raised the best I could provide in the faith and are on good paths, if not my own. I’ve been blessed with an ability to join organizations that j retest me and make a few good friends along the way for a loose-knit but fond community.

    I know what I offer a congregation: financial support and another voice in singing and recitations.
    I don’t really see what membership offers me.
    Which is not to say I won’t go! But I’ll not care if my name is on the membership roll and I won’t care about pleasing anybody simply because of their title.
    I am a tax paying adult, no longer a seeking child. I appreciate being treated as such, everywhere, including any gathering of believers I might attend.
    Thanks for asking.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. BeenThereDoneThat, I’m sorry that you got caught up in the infant discipline thing. I can imagine how you must regret it. I wish there was a way to warn everyone about the danger involved.

    God is able to restore and heal. Although I sidestepped the infant stuff, I did get taken in on other childraising ideas that were wrong and harmful. I came to realize more and more how differently I would do things if I had it to do over. I made a point to tell each of my kids, to talk this over and apologize to them. They forgave me but it still hurts, I still have regrets.

    We all have made mistakes and hindsight is 20-20, right? But I wish the church was not the instigating factor leading us to make mistakes!

    Liked by 2 people

  103. This is the diabolical plan of Satan. He smears Christ by getting pastors and teachers to mislead followers. It’s a perfect form of sabotage and it’s unfortunately working well. This is why I pray daily for new believers that they won’t drift into an abusive church.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. I f I never again hear the words, “but of course that’s because s/he/ you are not saved right now”, it will be too soon.
    Because, you know, I don’t think we go around “losing” salvation. Like, you know, a used kleenex or something……

    Like

  105. I’m not really sure if there was a “last straw that got me to leave”, but in the church I was part of during college, there were two “turning points” for me. One, was when I told the woman who was my prayer partner at the time that I wanted to focus on other areas of my life and not worry about having visitors to Bible study and church. Her response: “I think you ought to expect to have visitors.” That’s when I knew: there was no way out. I was always going to be expected to invite, invite, convert, convert; and when I failed at that, I was going to be bashed for it. Two, was when I got a letter from a friend in a church in another city that had been part of the movement I had been part of and was trying to move away from. She wrote that they talked about grace, and I wasn’t hearing that in my church. Something clicked in my head, and I thought, “If I can just survive until I get there.” That’s when I decided to move to that city, for that reason–I wanted grace.

    That particular church, unfortunately, dissolved two years after I got there. The leaders there went totally to the opposite extreme to the point that you could believe whatever you wanted to, as long as you believed in God and believed in Jesus. At the encouragement of the leaders, many of us–myself included–went into independent house churches. I lasted there for five years, and I think the final straw for me was an argument that took place in my apartment, where someone said either that sin didn’t separate you from God, or that sin didn’t separate you from the love of God. Someone said that that teaching was dangerous, and the room exploded. I expected the disagreers to come to blows. Because of my indoctrination in the previous church I’d been part of, I didn’t think I could leave and go to another church. The man I would eventually marry was also part of that house church group, and I feared losing that relationship. Right before we got married, he told me he was thinking about buying a townhouse for us to live in after we got married. Buying property meant a sort of permanence. That’s when I knew I had to tell him, the house churches are not working, and it’s time for us to get out. We decided to leave that city and start over fresh. We’re in a better church now.

    Like

  106. From HUG: “From long experience, “I’ll Pray For You(TM)” is Christianese for “I can’t be bothered”. ”

    I can definitely see where you would think/say that, because it’s often true.

    A woman in my ladies’ group, however, does take a request for prayer seriously enough so that when someone asks her, will you pray for me? she will do it right then and there.

    Too many people are not that serious about prayer.

    Like

  107. I sure despise that false doctrine about losing one’s salvation. So many folks have been tormented with thoughts of eternal damnation because of that lie.

    If I ever get my act together and write my next book, I’ll have to include the assurance of salvation in it. How wonderful that no matter how badly we mess up, our Lord and Saviour is willing to forgive us and clense us from ALL unrighteousness. Our God is awesome and so loving.

    Like

  108. I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with house churches. I also had a bad experience and I gained a lot of comfort by writing about how God led me from the expectations of works to the grace that knows no boundaries. Sure sin does separate us from God but not permanently. All we do is ask for forgiveness and learn to trust him more.

    I liken it to a piano teacher who doesn’t expel students because they play the wrong notes or press two adjacent notes at the same time.

    Like

  109. Bruce, the major problem with the house church group I was part of was that it was formed as a direct result of an abusive church experience. When you do something as a reaction to something else, you end up committing some of the same errors as the people you were trying to get away from.

    Like

  110. How interesting. In my case, the house church was formed by a man who disagreed with the doctrines of the Pentecostal church he attended. He glommed onto a woman who became his sheepdog and let him set up a church in her basement. She was in love with him, even though he was married. His wife was in love with another man who was a church member but left it due to a church split. Worse yet, the man lived in the same house as the phoney minister of that house church. When I dared to mention it one day, the sheepdog said I didn’t understand and that nothing untoward was going on between the minister’s wife and the ex-church member. What a toxic church that was and I’m so glad to be rid of it. As far as I know, it no longer exists.

    Like

  111. After experiencing confusion and spiritual distress for 5 years (my last 5 years of participating in ‘Evangelicalism’), I was sitting in Church one Sunday morning waiting for the service to begin. I had an experience where the Lord spoke to me. This was not supposed to happen, since our Church taught JMac-Style “cessationism” and that God does not speak in any way to people anymore, other than via the pages of the Bible. So this experience was not part of our accepted theology. He said to me, “Is this what you are choosing over ME?” I was shocked and heartbroken, and jarred awake so to speak.

    Next week I was sitting in the fellowship hall after service, and I was chatting with my best girlfriend at Church. I had previously that week sent an email letter to our pastor, pouring out my heart to him about the spiritual and emotional exhaustion I was experiencing, after a year (2009) of giving care to many different people in my life who had gone though a number of different crises and trials, such as paralyzing stroke, cancer, devastating loss of loved one (I can’t share here what happened), and my elderly grandmother dying (i helped my mother care for her at home during the last weeks). In my letter I was looking for just a shoulder to cry on, and some pastorly encouragement. In response I got some berating by him, some criticism for saying “yes” to too many people and basically helping others too much. In other words, it was my own fault.

    Incredibly, I went back to Church after getting this letter, which left me feeling ashamed of myself, confused, discouraged and more hurt than I was before. I addressed it to the pastor only. So I’m sitting there in the fellowship hall with everybody in the Church, and the pastor’s wife, whom I did NOT want to discuss my feelings with, talks to me from across the room (from another table) so that everybody can hear saying, “oh I’m so sorry about all the terrible things you have gone through that must be so hard!! ohh!!” and such. In other words, she read my letter that I sent her husband, much to my shock. And she was bringing up MY privately shared business in front of everybody in the Church, destroying the privacy of my correspondence. I just sat there, dumbfounded like an idiot. She was acting all concerned and sorry for me.

    Later when I asked her about this incident she said that yes, she always reads all the mail her husband gets from women because that is their policy, since they are trying to avoid ministry- relational indiscretions blah blah blah …. a policy they adopted after this being advised by one of the Reformed pastor Guru-pastors advised it (likely something picked up from the Shepherd’s conference). Fine. But i did not know about this before I decided to spill my guts to my pastor. I did NOT want to talk to the pastor’s wife or I would have. I was looking for pastoral counsel or spiritual encouragement and I got shamed and embarrassed instead. I thin realized this Church was spiritually abusive and I was never going to be safe there. Last straw! This added to a hundred other stories I have, things that happened previous to this, and I was out from The IC System for good. Its been 6 years now and I’m fine. : ) Thanks for letting us share!

    Like

  112. What a terrible experience. How sad it is that pastors and their wives don’t exercise more discretion. What we write to ministers and pastors should stay confidential. If I were a pastor, that’s what I’d do. I’d keep personal matters personal. Shame on anybody for sharing gossip or personal business which is nobody else’s business!

    Liked by 1 person

  113. This is very raw for me, as I have just left the church I’ve been a member of since 1998. It was long overdue, and I have apologized to my sons for not doing this long ago.

    My main problem is that whenever there was a conflict, the counsel was that the person who had been offended was wrong, and that he needed to forgive. Mind you, the offender did not repent or ask for forgiveness or admit any wrong. In fact, if the offense was even addressed, it was excused by something like “You’re too sensitive.” Never once anything like, “I’m sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to hurt you. Help me understand why that was hurtful.” There was never any change by the offender. The offense was always deflected and even defended by blaming the victim.

    Ironically, even the “released from membership” letter I received from the pastor (after a phone conversation with a different Elder) gave the counsel “you need to forgive” with no mention of wanting to better understand any outstanding issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  114. Reading these posts brings back so many bad memories. Sometimes, I feel so stupid for waiting so long to leave.

    Years ago, there was much turmoil in the church. The pastor called a members-only meeting one Sunday evening to discuss the issues. Great, I thought. Until I found out that only the male members were invited. Red flags galore! I never did get a good explanation for why only men were allowed to attend. (Probably because there is no good explanation.)

    Liked by 1 person

  115. Pingback: Four Primary Conditions that Result in People Leaving Abusive Churches and Cults | Spiritual Sounding Board

  116. I attended a church for 20-something
    years after being born-again.
    I could name dozens of
    times my pastor singled me
    out to verbally (and often publicly) try to
    shame me.He even did so in the
    midst of a church sponsored banquet,
    which was not even held in the church but in a
    community building in town. I
    started feeling like I wasn’t safe anywhere as
    long as he was there.
    I had a couple of God-given dreams
    showing me the pastors
    intentions towards me, which were based
    on jealousy and feeling
    threatened by me. The pastor was and is
    insecure. His wife is
    friendly only to a handful of women. Being
    around them felt like
    high school, where the popular students
    all sat at the same table and discouraged
    anyone else from joining them.
    I have forgiven them but
    I feel we must keep the talk concerning spiritual
    abuse going. Just because we may be at
    the point that we can go forward and treat
    the abuse we endured as “something in the past”,
    We must speak out in defense of those that
    are going through it now and will in the future.
    Spiritual abuse did not end just because
    we left a church. If we don’t speak out others will
    continue to endure this senseless abuse.
    I should have left sooner than I did.
    I realize now that God
    spoke to me to leave but I always thought
    if I just stayed a little longer
    things would change. They did change…they got
    worse! Many pretended to not notice the red flags.
    Things are constantly swept under the rug. As long
    as it’s not happening directly to them, they can close
    their eyes to the abuse. When you leave they’ll talk
    about you and make often make you the villian.
    They don’t know the full story. Many of those
    that stayed are in the “inner circle” of either the
    pastor or his wife. When I finally left, I tried
    attending another area church.
    That pastor also verbally abused me right from the
    start. And he did it publicly, to add insult to injury.
    When I prayed about it the Lord
    showed me the first pastor spoke to the second
    and lied about me to him.
    It’s kind of like the man that abuses his wife…he
    doesn’t want her but he doesn’t want anyone else
    to have her either.Instead of him privately confronting me
    to see if the allegations were true,
    He chose to believe the first pastor and publicly
    berate me. I’ve left there,
    and haven’t found a church home yet. I still love
    God with all my heart. I love His people too. But
    I will speak out against
    spiritual abuse when I get the chance to help those
    that are experiencing this and are
    not sure what to do about it. If GOD says leave, then
    leave and trust Him to lead the way for you. Don’t stay
    longer than God says to stay. Allow
    your spouse/adult children/friend that always
    accompanies you, to stay until God makes it clear to them.
    But don’t stay for any other person.
    Get out and pray for them to have their eyes open.
    Forcing them to leave or staying for them is not right
    if God tells you to leave…listen!!! Continue
    to teach your young children the bible and how to pray
    and how to love God in your home or with a group of
    Christian peers. God might even lead you and your
    family to a healthy church where the pastor has a
    servants heart. But don’t stay longer than you should
    as long as you are certain God is telling you to leave. And above
    all, speak out but forgive the offender. You forgive for your
    own sake, not for theirs.

    Like

  117. What you wrote is so true. We must speak out against abusive pastors and churches. I stayed far too long in that sick house church but at least I now know the value of sound doctrine.

    I also know that any discipline must first start between the two parties who have an issue. Jesus said in Matthew chapter eighteen that if the person in the wrong doesn’t listen, take a few friends to reason with that person. Only when all else fails should the church be informed.

    The two pastors you mentioned were way out of line. You did right by leaving those churches. I hope and pray you find a good church with a loving pastor and gentle congregants who will support you when you have problems.

    Like

  118. How sad to read these stories. In my life the pastors I have known are loving people who do their best to help you grow in your walk with God. Remember, not every pastor is like these. For those who have quit trying to find a good church, please try again, We need each other!

    Liked by 1 person

  119. How true that we need to try again to trust pastors. But first we need to heal from the damage done. Trust must be earned and for many, it’s hard to trust again. This is why most church leavers never come back. People must learn to hand the bad experiences over to Jesus each time bad feelings are triggered. It’s helped me ditch most of my emotional baggage.

    For some strange reason, emotional baggage never gets lost at airports. Perhaps it’s because it’s carried onto the plain by its owner.

    Like

  120. Pingback: How To Ask A Question Without Sounding Accusatory | Scarlettpp

  121. I am currently trying to leave my high-demand and controlling church, but my husband doesn’t see what I see and does not intend to leave. I fear that if I leave without him they will brainwash him into thinking that I am an agent of Satan and then our marriage will be destroyed.

    What opened my eyes: three weeks ago, one of the 2 pastors who is also a prophet, called me up on a Sunday ( along with other people) to prophesy over me. And he revealed stuff my husband and I told him during a meeting with him this past summer, except he said it out loud on the microphone in front of the whole church, sharing details of our private life and pretending it was a direct revelation from God.

    My husband and I were hurt. We asked for a meeting and he avoided us for a week, then we were lectured about how Christians need to die to themselves, die to pride, and crucify the flesh, and also that we got upset because we do not have enough knowledge about prophecy and how it works. Then he said that in the last 3 months of every year Satan is trying to attack his ministry and wants to create conflict between him the pastor and us. My husband was OK instantly comforted. For me, I started researching and realized all the false teachings in this church. We currently are at church a minimum of three times a week as “worker” (volunteers) for about 4 hours each time, the amount of money that is required of us is unbelievable, and we have had no social life, no family life, no vacation since we joined 2 years ago. I am stuck though, we have three kids and with my husband not ready to leave, I feel like I am in jail.

    Like

Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s