Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leaving a Church

I have left two churches since I have been a Christ Follower. The first one was very easy. It was a very abusive situation. The second one was more of a disagreement with the leadership (which I was okay with by the way, they are the leaders of this particular church).

The first situation was very easy to walk away from. The second one still hurts a little but I still feel we did the right thing and I am at peace about it. The thing that really bothers me the most? There are a few people that cannot meet me for conversation or lunch. Just because I don't worship there anymore? Are you serious? Are you the only church with the right answers? I don't think so.

A lot of these issues stem from authoritarian leadership, which in my opinion, is a power trip most of the time. They will love you and let you play, but only if you do it their way. my rant about that now. Here is a blurb from a blogger that apparently went through a very nasty church situation. I see some similarities in her post that can kind of apply with what I went through, only mine was on a much smaller scale.

You can read the entire post-Kangaroo Court-here

Names have been omitted and replaced by the titles “apostle” and “pastor.” These titles do not necessarily indicate calling, simply rank and position in this particular situation.

On February 28, 2004, we were brought before apostle and pastor in a disciplinary meeting. The charge brought against us at this meeting was that we were not adequately submitted to pastor. The litany of accusations against us consisted of specific instances recorded where we had disagreed with pastor in elders meetings and in private conversations.

Based on this, we were accused of disloyalty, lack of commitment, and improper motives. While the things we disagreed about were factual, pastor’s implications concerning our motives were false and rooted in personal offense. Apostle and the other elders had been called into this “emergency” and asked to support pastor’s charges. They were quick to come into agreement with pastor concerning our guilt. Prior to this trap to accuse, there was no Matthew 18 attempt to approach us by anyone involved concerning the alleged problems with our hearts.

We were blindsided. The deception and manipulation involved in pulling off this power play destroyed any possibility of putting ourselves in a trusting relationship with pastor or apostle. We were not willing to agree to pastor’s false judgment of us. We found that we had no voice with the leadership team with which to defend our hearts or motives.

The predetermined outcome of this meeting was that we were to be put on probation in order to prove our submission to pastor. Because we had been manipulated by lies and false accusations, we did not submit to this false reconciliation process. We did not accept pastor’s proposal that we be discipled by him into appropriate submission, therefore we were accused of being unwilling to participate in the process of reform.

Under the circumstances, there was no recourse for us that would have brought justice. Challenging the injustice would have damaged relationships further. Being in a truly lose-lose situation, we chose the least destructive route and simply walked away. We believe we were following the Lord’s direction to leave. We also felt strongly that it was His desire that we neither bring accusation against the leadership nor defend ourselves.

Our friends who were involved in leadership chose to stand behind pastor. They severed relationship with us out of loyalty to him. The congregation had no clue what happened and were left to fill in the blanks based on whatever was implied about us by the leadership. It was evident that our reputation was smeared by the way people have treated us and by the rumors we have heard. We experienced rejection in more ways than we ever could have imagined.

The months after we left were filled with hurt and confusion. Over time, we were able to more clearly understand the circumstances and beliefs that led up to this situation. We have forgiven those involved, and we now see how God has used this situation for our benefit. We are still extremely concerned with the teaching and style of leadership that allows and even encourages this kind of abuse within a church community. We are grateful that we are no longer in a position of teaching and supporting abusive authority.


Blogger Jeni said...

What kind of church requires such blind loyalty -other than, perhaps, a cult type? I hate to say that but boy, it sure does sound like something along those lines to me, at least.

9:32 PM  

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