Look for Jesus to heal you on that path and remember you are not walking in unfamiliar territory alone.
- Visions of Zion.
- An Exhortation for Women?
- Survey Methods.
This was the path of all those who followed Jesus in the first few hundred years. Believing that takes spiritual courage, strength to look beyond what currently exists, seeing what can and will be coming when all things have been refined and purified in the light of something better to come. When we see that light, we will see our wounds and those who wounded us in a different way and will be able to lay claim to a new joy and new refined hope, eat hidden manna, and drink of wine better than we ever new possible.
Judgment is yet to come and healing is on the way. Please believe that…. I was an active member of Metropolitan Community Church. So I found this inclusive and affirming church and I thought I had found a place I could explore Christianity. I never felt comfortable just sitting in the pews, so I started volunteering right away on the MultiMedia Team.
This particular church broadcast their services at first on local public TV, then on YouTube and later streaming on their own website. For 17 years, I volunteered an average of 3 out of 4 Sundays per month, two services per Sunday, mixing house sound, broadcast sound, and running the cameras and video switcher. I am not too humble to say I get really, really good at what I did. The technical aspect of the services I worked were absolutely flawless.
Whenever there was a concert or special event, or holiday events, I was always asked to be in charge of tech. I really loved what I did. The ushers were always praised and thanked. The musicians, music director and choir, were always given special accolades. So the way you knew you were good at your job is when you were completely ignored sitting in the tech booth at the back of the sanctuary.
Make a mistake though, and heads turn around like Linda Blaire from The Exorcist to give you a dirty look. I guess I learned to live with that. I took great care of that property. I actually fell in love with the building. I would try to organize church cleanup days and nobody would show up. Then a BOD member would do it and 30 people would show up.
There were holes in the roof, and for 4 years, I begged and begged them to get the roof fixed, and every single time it rained, I had to get up on the roof and tie down tarps to keep it from leaking. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. After that experience, it was like seeing the Great Oz was nothing more than a man behind the curtain. Honestly, I think one or two weeks after I stopped going, they completely forgot I was there or who I was. I tried to force myself to try other churches, but it all feels so unauthentic now. I am not sure you intended to reply directly to my post but I will accept the invitation to do so.
What I hear in your note is that you felt important in how you were serving the church and that you feel like you did a great job. I suspect that you were very much in the right on this point. Welcome to the club! I am sure that most of the people who worked alongside you felt very much the same way. Even the pastor!
Churches try to get people plugged in to places of service right away to help them invest in the church and make relationships for a variety of reasons. First, we want them to create relationships. Second, we want them to realize that they can make valuable contributions to the mission of the church in big ways no matter who they are or where they serve.
It also sounds as if the principle under of servant-leadership was never fully understood. I would challenge you to seek a real spiritual growth aspect in your discipleship in Christ. It is unclear what you mean by this. Are you expecting people to not be people? We need to be honest with our own stuff first if we are ever going to be able to expect other to be honest with theirs. Were you serving to glorify Christ or were you serving to glorify yourself?
I think your note is pretty clear on that matter. Mature Christians are focused on glorifing Christ even if that means we are not. In either case, it was probably a good choice for you to leave your role. Instead of expecting the church to fill that emptiness you are feeling look for a deeper relationship with Christ, it sounds as if you are looking in the wrong place for that fulfillment and recognition. People will never fill that emptiness. You need to go deeper in understanding yourself and why you needed it in the first place.
This experience should be a mirror, what did you learn about yourself? Does that teach you something about people in general? What do you see that you need to repent for? How can you love them better in realizing that they have weaknesses like yourself and make errors just as you do as well? We also fail to grow in our relationship with God. If the way of the cross was easy, everyone would do it. Growing is hard and painful work. Jeffrey — I totally hear what you are saying.
I was in that position for 4 years — I could go on, but I am healing and there is only two people that I can to dig up that past with, besides God, one is the therapist and the other knows who she is. You are not wrong — I am beginning to see that many pastors have narcissistic personalities and often use gaslighting to control. You are not crazy!! It is much safer to worship at home, and serve my community in His name. I feel very close to God, and I am more aware of what the needs are in my own community. Something I never paid attention to, in the confinement of a church building.
A year later, the pastor who let me go was let go. The church struggled for quite a while and is now in a place of rebuilding. Many of them are hard to admit, but they are true. I attend and serve in the same church I was on staff in, but trust, me it has not been easy. I believe my involvement says more about the faithfulness of the God I serve, than it does about whether or not I am there. I have to choose every day to forgive those who never came to my aide, who never said they were sorry about what happened to me; who never responded the way I thought children of God should respond when someone who had faithfully served them was treated.
But, I realize each and every day, that none of it is about what I think I deserve. I continually have to line myself up to the scripture and choose to believe what He says about me. I was the Office Manager for 9 years and was forced to resign about 5 years ago. After untruths were told about me and rumors spread. I am still attending this church. While working I was not allowed to serve on committees, but could serve on a few other things like VBS, solos, etc. But now I am not asked to sing.
I have been mentioned to serve on some committees, but then passed over. I have been a member of this church for more than 30 years. I try to get involved, but I am turned down or simply not asked to help. I am considering leaving this church. But I keep hoping that things will get better. Because — they use same vocal music — people are shit! I believe the church is here to fear ppl and the fact that everything is a sin In the eyes of the church and the truth of the matter is there just is period no right no wrong we all were put here on earth for a reason and a purpose we all have a path and not one thing happens for no reason!
But the church puts fear into ppl rather than spread the word of love which God wants! It is also interpreted in many different ways by all different ppl rather than try interpreting what man has put in words why not listen and talk to God for themselves! I believe myself that the church is the most hypocritical place on earth! I also believe that they are full of crapt with their nonsense and what they try and make ppl believe about God! He loves everyone in one sentence but the next just the opposite so which is it does he love everyone no matter what or does he not?
Good day folks and God Bless and hopefully one day the whole world can awaken and see for themselves but until then you have a bunch of ppl sitting around listening to what someone other than God tells them to believe and what to do and how to live, and how they tell them is the way! I have a very close relationship with God and until the day the church was outta my head I never could understand anything they ever tried to teach as nothing made a bit of sense at all but now I get it finally and not from a book a man wrote but God!
Jean Mikhail.. Try Truth For Life. He is from Scotland, and has an accept that is soothing to the ear. He starts out with a Bible reading and then a prayer. After that, he speaks to his congregation. His sermons are Biblically sound, but far from boring. It is so easy to listen and follow along with your Bible, and everything can be applied to your life. Give him a try.
3 Reasons You Should (And Shouldn't) Go to Church Every Sunday
You might change your mind about all tv preachers being boring. God bless you. If it is either one I totally understand. Each of them has a distorted teaching rooted in the catechisms which is a product of man, not God. My advice is to read the bible and try different Christian churches. But also realize that no church is perfect. The are some that are better than others, but you need to feel welcomed at the church.
Notice I said that YOU need to feel welcomed, not hear from the church that you are welcomed. There is a difference. God does us that love is something that is known by the actions of the ones that are giving love. This article is truth. I am in a struggle right now. I absolutely adored my church until I started serving, attending meetings, and fellowshipping outside of Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Is this what I really want. I even missed two Sundays if serving in hopes of them sitting me down so I can just merely attend or kick me out so I can freely attend elsewhere…..
Interesting article. Thank you for taking the time to put it in writing for us! There are so awful, mean, manipulative and conniving leaders out there who are extremely self-centered and narcissistic. This group of leaders drains the last bit of energy out of hard working Christians. The transition is a lot! God bless you and thanks again! This is sooooo on point. I wish leaders would acknowledge this in sincere truth. Many of us are just tired….
My love for God is sincere. I want someplace where God is the center of everything…. Thank you Carey! I really appreciate this article. Culture shock, new school, new house, new neighbors, etc. But by and far the greatest challenge has been finding and attempting to acclimate to a new church.
It has not. And I have been devastated by this reality. As I read your article, what resonates within me is the issue of identity. Your 1 reason — identity — is probably my greatest struggle. What a painful realization. But iron sharpens iron so I thank you. Their Pastors or leaders want to be dictators instead of teachers. When they get up to teach their desire is to impress you with their degrees or with a degree they want you to think they have. Now there is why no one wants to support one of them. There are a few good pastors left, but the organizations behind them are crocked as a snake, well that is a serpent and we know who that was in the bible.
Also the spirit of God only gives one an understanding of the scriptures not some university. If one was illiterate and a true believer told them what the scriptures says the spirit of God would draw a true picture of what the scriptures are truly saying. Church in the USA is a business run in the mirror image of corporate America.
Having been on the inside, this lie is embraced by many if not most. Pastors cling to the age-old human frailty of having to feel significant and successful. We all struggle with God accepting us simply for love because we accepted Christ and not because of what we do. I have attended services in third world countries where churches earnestly struggle to display the Truth that American churches take for granted. Old people, in China, will stand by windows on the outside of the building leaning in to hear any Word from God; listening for a whisper of any hope that there is something more worthwhile than this existence.
There should be no payment for services rendered and no one should have to depend upon a sick and misled church to support them and their family. Churches need to be smaller, more local, in homes or other meeting places and tithes should go to minister to all less fortunate in knowledge and wealth. When churches get Too bureauratic and start putting restrictions on talented and gifted believers.
Thats when it gets messy. When the Church just takes takes takes and not give. Why do We have certain rich churches help out other poor struggling Churches from other denominations. After all its God universal church. Thats messy. When leaders get big egoes or get abusive messy! Where is God in all this. He s not allow in and the holy spirit leaves until forgiveness, and true love returns to the believers in the Church. Well, comments and a few years after you wrote your original article, this is all too real and it is tragic in my own life.
The difficult thing is the humility, the ability to be OK with change and allowing others to use their gifts. I recently became a mom and all of my energy has morphed into motherhood now. I ran everything, lol! And I loved every part of it!! I breathed leadership. The roles are filled and there seems to be no place for me. God is using me in other capacities at home as mom, but I just refuse to believe it. I always identified myself in the leadership role. But the struggle is real and it is hard to get myself out the door on Sunday morning. A friend told me recently that my thinking was flawed.
That includes church. I just want to serve where I am needed. Do I become more assertive or more patient? Jean you are doing the most important ministry that you could ever do and that is being a mom. The best way to make this world a better place is by investing in our kids. You can be just as much of a servant outside the church as you can inside the church. You are on the right track by letting God form your identity. I have spent many years doing good works for God because I was still trying to get my Fathers approval and I put that on my heavenly Father. Partner with God and pursue that unconditional love that He has for you.
It will change you and all the relationships around you for the better. God Bless! I think this was a great article. It definitely caused me to take a look at some decisions made in my own life. I believe that I have to love myself properly before I am able to love someone else and sometimes loving yourself enough to walk away is the best decision.
Unfortunately, because I believed that statement for so long…. I did stay…waaaaay too long. This article is HUGE. I have seen glimpses of him in small churches, where the pastor held a secular job, AND served as pastor. In this church type, everyone contributed and shared responsibilities evenly. There was no need for jockeying for salaried positions. Let me now share that I am a professional vocalist and musician.
I sing with bands every week weddings, corporate, etc and make good money doing it. I have seen musicians idolize music, as well as becoming idols, so I was reluctant to mention my gifting. Once it was discovered that was multi-talented, I was offered a role on the worship team. My issues driving me away now:.
I have many beloved friendships that hang in the balance of me just wanting to drop everything and leave. I think this should be number 10 on this blog if you want to capture everything. I think what often happens is that someone characterizes one bad local church as the universal norm. There are some great local churches. I wish I had read this article a few years ago and been able to discuss it with my Pastor. Maybe things would have been different today.
I did the power point for church for 4 years and just left the church, to try and heal. I had served on the board during this same time, and ended up as treasurer. I got the rathe in the end — but she got her money due. It really was the beginning of the end. But, I was doing the weekly power point and enjoyed working with the Pastor and doing some incredible things for Christ. I tried to explain this to the Pastor and a fellow board member.
Not until a week ago, after she had taken a new job, did I once again express my loss of not being able to worship on Sundays, when I so desired to do so. But, this time, she shared what she does — look for the little things during worship. I am not sure when or if I will return to church. I grew up in a fire and brimstone church. Had to find my self spiritually in Los Angeles.
A church should be the church of many, not the church of a few. I have so many gifts to give and freely do so — but I went from giving my all to the church, to giving none. It is so sad. I know I am not alone. I know that there is a journey ahead. This article is one step in healing. Thank you! Many who have a long intimate personal relationship with the Lord and commune daily in the Word of God and love Jesus our Savior grow weary of the commercialization and business only component of the buildings called church…we take to the family and community needs right under our noses and become involved where we make and see the evidence of a difference…seed and tithing does not always have to be about money…it gets old and empty hearing that by so many pastors…then here comes their children and grandchildren…really?
I can relate to all the comments. Thank you everyone for your vulnerability and I send you all love. We saw too many things to mention including Pastor misusing funds, a leader embezzling money, affairs at leadership level, abuses…. I feel the worst, was the treatment of the people in the pews. All these broken people came to the church, only to be further broken..
We experienced more love and kindness from atheists. I feel closer to God away from all that toxicity. The church is no longer a light.. It seems worldly things have taken over. I never had much of my inner healing or sanctification carried out within the church environment. It was when I came out of the church that I drew close to Jesus and He was able to sort out my mess, heal and deliver me. Going back into a church environment for me now would be suicide. Here is where the problem lies, looking to church leaders to act as mediators, the Holy spirit and the voice of God to us.
If we seek God with all our hearts we find Him. Not in the church, at home on your knees and on your face. Getting rid of sin and getting sanctified. The worst thing about reading your post is that hardly anyone will understand what you are talking about. They build using their own hands and call it gods work. What are all these denominations? To look in awe up to a holy god and look back down at the church system and services that take place and then call it gods willI needs to spend a while longer looking upward. Nobody can build gods kingdom apart from him.
It is not built by human hands the Bible states God is not man as if he needed anything, Jesus said apart from me you can do nothing. I see more than most people perhaps and after many, many thousands of hours of seeking God I have come to the conclusion that that I would probably not join his church either, anybody who thinks they would should consider just where their really at….. Consider this — Would you leave everything to follow him, leave everybody? Have you turned your back on all in its entirity what the world has to offer?
Did he not give you gifts you from heaven? Did he not give you power by his spirit? Did you bear the fruit of his spirit by the might of your own arm? Did you save yourself? Did you bear the agony of the cross for your own salvation? Was it your blood that washed away your sin? Get rid of the cliche, stock christian answers that you might want to retort with. Does anyone really understand just who it is that we are trying to serve?
The god of gods king of Kings, perfect, flawless, sinless. There was a time that men trembled at his word, but not today. Will man never stop with his boasting and pride will he never stop trying to make God in his own image? Do people not realise that only good comes from God?
I could keep on but what would be the point what do I know.? May God bless you Rachel. Stay blessed!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness I feel u on such a deep level soo much on this.. Attending church is physiologically too difficult for me. Everyday I think of the times that I was sexually abused as a child. Seeing a church from the road gives me anxiety and going inside I break out in sweats and get the shakes.
I know God is everywhere and I can talk directly to him without attending any kind of church service. I wish there was somewhere children could go to for help if they are sexually abused by an adult. The thing is, some children do not know that they are being abused. I was sexually abuse by my cousins n brothers n I kept it inide of me for years. I started attending a Christian Church n started going to woman retreats n God has shown me his love for me.
Chris Tucker Hello. This is absolutely evil and unconscionable. I, too, was abused as a child, but not in church. There is help out there for PTSD, and recovering from sexual abuse. I hope and pray you avail yourself of it. Another reason for not going: …I was 45 years in music ministry. It just feels weird to sit in the pews after so many years of being actively involved in worship and sitting at the front.
No glory, believe me! But I enjoyed the process of being involved. Now that illness has forced me to retire, I just do not feel comfortable going to church, except on the occasions where I am filling in for the current musician. It is a dislocation kind of thing! I really think the today church totally is not what God head in mind, people run from church to the world because of the confusion u find. I have been saved for 10 years, called but nobody cared about my calling, rather was only used for something else. Today I just want to go out there preach to non believers and come home.
I no longer have that joy of going to fellowship. I really think we should only use home sells to fellowship not church that needs more than Faith. Today church feels like jail. Something is wrong. Listen to all this people hurting so bad, because of today church. Something is horribly wrong. There for we have to change and work with the church to make it better, when they will let us. Regarding point 5. This is not exclusive to us, as God uses many people in many walks of life to be three-dimensional thinkers who become great innovative achievers. I have spent time both in and out of the church.
My first 6 years out of the church was the most spirituality productive ever. I drew so close to God and He taught me all sorts of things about Him, laid a solid foundation in the scriptures, how to get healed delivered set free from strongholds, addictions, bond ages, receive miracles and breakthroughs in my own life. Things that I never ever learnt in all my 12 yrs in the church.
Church is for spiritual babies and people who just want to play and have their bottoms wiped by others. I am so much more happy and stable outside the church walls and being much more productive as a believer in reaching the lost, discipling and changing our world. That is not to brag but its the truth.
- A Gluten Free Soup Opera (Gluten Free/Wheat Free Cookbook No 2).
- The Tale That Wags The God.
- Anna Katharine Green Detective Mystery Collection: The Leavenworth Case, A Strange Disappearance, Mystery of the Hasty Arrow and 4 More (Illustrated).
- The Ghost Writer.
- The Art of Showing Art!
- Simple Ways: Towards the Sacred.
- Is Church Membership Really a Biblical Concept?.
Rachel, I very much appreciate this, as I in some ways find your experiences corresponding with my own. Blessings to you! Because of what I now do i spend a great deal of time on my own, I believe it is a price we have to pay if we want to be close to Godand really know Him. I do love it this way because I have less interference and less persecution.
The loneliness and isolation can be hard at times but I am finding that if i stay in worship daily, ask God for the right people to fellowship with during each week then I can strike a good balance. Churches to me at the moment are a place to visit but not to live if that makes sense? Rachel, spending time with others in fellowship is church. I think for the most part it has to be people who are authentic like the people you are asking God for to come into your life.
I know people are going to get offended by this but church should not be number one in your life. That pursuit of really pouring into God should be number one in your life, that relationship with Him. Let Him eventually give you the desire to attend a church someday. The only way I can attend church is by taking my eyes off of people and completely focusing on God. If you are not there yet that is okay. What I am reading in a lot of these posts is that people are looking for something outside of themselves when they should be looking on the inside and let God fill whatever we are missing.
I believe that is what you are doing. This article is terrible. It is pretty much telling hurting church leaders to get over their pain. What a joke. Great read!! Raised Roman Catholic, I attended a private nun-haunted school. Although there are a few okay nuns, most were elderly, mean, and not suited to dealing with young children. That said, I did not attend mass for many years, feeling I was unworthy. When I married a lapsed Lutheran, we decided to joint an Evangelical church.
Then, finally, we joined a Lutheran church in our Minneapolis suburb. The others were okay. We left after two years. I think of churches as man-organized businesses. My relationship with Jesus Christ is eternal. At least most businesses in the private sector throw a little money your way if you work for them. I am not bitter; however, if I did see the above-mentioned woman anywhere, I would ask her to please step away from me. Churches, as is the world, are full of people who think they know better, know everything, are insulting, and just plain insidious.
I know this to be the truth, as I have a sister supposedly a devout Roman Catholic who is this way. I do not intend to ever speak to her again. I would like to apologize on behalf of the church. Reclusive christianity is a wonderful place for those hurt by the church. As our churches give up sound doctrine and biblical teaching for what seems a mixture of what our itching ears want to hear and thrill rides for the so called unbelievers, we Christians get left in our sin and trespasses without the gospel that sets us free.
I need the law preached and explained from the pulpit each week to bring me to repentance. All of these things come from the text being read in context. Sadly, this is extremely rare these days. The qualities you mentioned are a red flag that she feels incredibly lost here on earth. For this we Christians can only empathize and try to listen to what the meaning is behind the actions and somehow love. I understand your isolation.
No need to feel any guilt. I would recommend taking the time you would have spent at church to develop your own belief in the text. Again, I understand and my deepest apologies. Grace and peace to you. Honestly, I just want to pray, but Anglicanism is fairly dead in the U. Maybe the church is flawed. Same here, I feel church has shifted focus, its no longer about Christ but about something unknown.
I even asked myself if the idea of today church iscrealky what God had in mind. Your comment resonates with me because I, too, went to Catholic school all of my life and have experienced the meanness of many of the nuns who taught me. I once worked for a Catholic non-profit center that catered to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy. People on the outside thought we were one big happy family but in reality, we were one big back-stabbing dysfunctional family.
Since the receptionist was not college-educated, they kept reducing her hours until she asked to be laid off so that she could collect unemployment. They asked us to put it in writing. I put it off as long as I could since I did not feel comfortable doing such a thing, but they insisted that I provide in writing what I had observed with her.
Good to see you! Have a nice day and thank you for all that you do. He also heard confessions. He heard her confessions. This represented a very strong conflict of interest to me and between that and some other things that I had observed there, I put in my resignation. They did not take it well and seemed to hold it against me. I could not tell them the truth about why I was leaving my job with them. They were unfair with me and thought I should work weekends and stay longer in the evenings because I did not have any children. Because of this, my personal life was not seen as important or valuable.
I was newly married and lived 50 miles away. Yet, they seemed to think that I should spend all my free time there because I had nothing else better to do with my time. I thought many times that I should report them for discrimination but seeing how they internally operated, I decided against it, feeling as though they would somehow try to ruin my professional reputation.
I observed that these so-called Christians were very vengeful. They also treated many of the women who went there for help with their pregnancies very poorly. One woman was so sick from morning sickness that she could barely walk to the bathroom to vomit. I pointed to her where the bathroom was and she ran to the bathroom reserved for employees only.
I was speechless. She insisted the woman take a pregnancy test which I can understand but when she could barely walk I told her to just set the urine sample on the counter. I had planned to take care of it and do the pregnancy test there since the poor lady was so weak. They are very lucky this woman did not pass out in the process. It was all very cold to me.
Anyway, I could go on an on with examples of their hypocrisy but I think you get the point. I think that there is evil everywhere, even in the places that are supposed to be the most holy. A wise and good friend once told me to view the church as one big hospital where sick people go to get well instead of seeing them as an already finished product and good Christians. I have found this advice to be very helpful.
Does the Bible Say You Have to Go to Church?
I go to Mass to pray, to give homage to Christ,a and feel close to Him. It serves those purposes. I, for the most part, do not expect anything from my fellow parishioners. I pray for them and I let them be an example to me of what I never want to become. And I go on with my life. Just with the people that I expected too much from in the first place.
Thank you all for your wonderful and thought-provoking experiences and testimonies…I am so caught up in feeling I am suppose to have a membership in a church and desiring not too due to my observations of those who are suppose be a pillar to help me encounter God and most often I am disappointed. Anyway I do feel church can be more of a social gathering than a meeting of like-minded people who truly want to be saved.
Anyway be blessed people, and may God continually be with you and guide you. I really appreciate the […]. Not Really Realizing it? In our tradition, a pastor who leaves a church retires or for whatever reason is not permitted to worship at that church until the new pastor is in place and invites the former pastor to return. That is usually a year or two. This is intentionally designed to give the congregation time to grieve the leaving of one pastor and get ready to search for and call a new pastor — and then for that pastor to settle in.
In the meantime, we are the only church of our denomination in the county- and the next closest one is 40 minutes or more away. So, sometimes, not going to church is for different reasons- and I would offer up burnout as a major factor! Keep the posts coming! What an absolutely horrible policy!
I was associate pastor in a congregation when the senior pastor retired and I was allowed to stay through the call process. When the new pastor arrived it was wonderful. I was at another congregation where I was the transition minister and the retired pastor sat in the pew every Sunday and then criticized every change, accepted the triangulation as necessary, and never allowed the congregation to move on or forward.
It was hell for everyone and made for church conflict and dysfunction. My family every time say that I am killing my time here at web, except I know I am getting knowledge everyday by reading such good posts. Website: Ling Fluent si trova in erboristeria. None of the 9 apply to me or any of the majority of clergy who refuse to step foot in a church again. Most if not all have been drug through hell by the church. We have seen the dark side and managed to get out before it sucked us dry. I left Christianity to find Christ again.
Thank you for expressing my thoughts. So they disbanded the youth, only to get some one a year late who looks like them talks like them. To reach the ones who are the same. There are more details to which I am not wanting aired out. The church that I have just resigned from is a dead church — alive in name only as was the church in Sardis. They has committed unthinkable acts and said unimaginable things about me as the pastor but because they are and have been a dead church since we began there 3 years ago, we have been able to forgive them.
But because this is the only church of our denomination around for over 60 miles, my husband and I have chosen to stay here. This was no easy decision for us to make, but after much prayer and fasting, we believe this is where God has brought us and until He tells us to leave, we will remain faithful. We have told ourselves that it could be for the two or three individuals who have been very hurt by what has been done to us, or because like the church of Sardis, we are to be the remaining faithful ones, or maybe they will repent and return to their first love, or possibly our denomination will use us to plant a new church in this area.
I, too, have done this. Thanks again. There is a change in relationship status with the church that can be challenging to navigate. Am I an ex or an alumni? Was I pushed out and unwelcome, needing to recover, or am I a graduate who was released and comes back to a reunion? Ultimately, all things have somehow been reconciled in Christ, though we may not see it yet. In that deep, mysterious truth I find surrender, rest and release. He is able and willing to restore all that the locusts have eaten, to set things right, to prepare a table before us, to bring us safely home.
I relate, however — I suffer from depression. I sit and cry and no one knows — I spend parts of my day at my secular job, in tears.
I submit to whatever is going on, as I realize there is no perfect church — if it was perfect, it became imperfect the moment I arrived. I just sit. If the pastor has something that he wants me to do, I do it stuff that others may not want to do. Still marching like a good little soldier — and I feel so, so fake!!!!! This applies not just to ex leaders but also the members of the congregation. I can relate to what your going through.
Sometime gifts are not made public. God does not want us to be lifted up by our gifts but only lift him up. Keep praying, seeking God, and be faithful and God will make room for all gifts. Praying for you. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed sitting in a pew after 35 years of leading worship. I completely understand what it means to leave a church after leading in one. For many years I was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher.
I only had a few kids to teach and that bothered me because I felt that I was failing due to the lack of kids. What I mean is this, once you see how the flawed, yes flawed people run a church, it is impossible to unsee. If I ever go to church on a regular basis again I will not allow anyone to see me as a potential candidate of leading anything. I have had my share of it and I am done. What exactly were you attempting to accomplish by writing this? For me, this kind of thinking, writing, and speaking was why I decided to step away from my pastoral position.
Initially I intended to attend another church as a lay person and even visited a few with my family. But after being away from it a bit and gaining some perspective, we realized how little we missed any of it. There was no intentional intellectual dishonesty on my part at the time but its liberating now knowing what I actually believe. I agree. I think the article has a lot of trite recommendations etc.
Although I agree with some of it. I understand the value of the church. I also understand the issues on both sides. I also believe most church teams lack accountability and understanding of where people are today. In a bubble with no clue. I volunteer and do my best to put blinders on to all the bull. I have plenty of my own issues for sure. That honor should be taken in a sacred mentality. Much of church sucks. But I still believe in it…. Some of us were so burnt and abused as leaders that we have PTSD about attending church the way we used to.
Please add that to the list. I agree with you Eric, wholeheartedly. It had gotten to the point, that I would go home from leading church service and would cry, cry, cry. It was hurtful to see. Eric, you are right. You realise you are surrounded by hypocrites whose mission is to destroy your life and everything you are doing no matter what good you have done for God or for them.
They are just like that. And what makes it worse is that they are your Pastor and fellow leaders. So push on soldiers.
The war is not yet over! A club mentality. I am married to a former pastor who thankfully works as a full-time hospital chaplain. I was also a leader—a church musician who was driven out and hurt by people who knew me my entire life. Watched me grow up in the church. Even though this incident happened when I was 22 years old I am now 49 I still feel the wounds. I feel a lot of guilt and shame and pain.
Sending blessings of light and peace your way. Yes I agree. In our town I have a choice of two or three churches and will attend from time to time, but not looking to get involved unless the Lord tells me to. Suffered too much rejection at the church where I was a voluntary pastor. No power or presence just flesh or false anointing or wrong spirits. I decided I wanted a divorce and I knew that if the church fired me, people would be mad. I needed a little distance. A few weeks turned into a few months, and then it got cold outside and then it rained and then I was tired and then… and then… and then….
I love my church. GPC was my church before she was my employer. Pretty much Thank you for this article. I was a part time your minister for 3 years, while also working a regular job. A lot of apply to both ministry and career. I want to go back and apply these 9 to the other areas of my life—relationships, community, small group, mentoring. Thus is a huge find. Again thank you!! I might venture a thought on why key volunteers such as elders and key ministry leaders drop out: 1. The pastor is trained to know the scripture but has no idea how to manage or lead.
The pastor has an extreme need to control all the decisions and does not know how to delegate. The pastor does not know how to lead a team or work in the context of an elder board. Key pastoral staff who do not know how to mentor staff to realize their potential. The churn index among staff turn over is high. They need to be dealt with effectively to avoid the damage they will ultimately do if left to operate without accountability. Sadly, the narcissist in most cases will be unable to admit to the abuse they engage in or the brokenness that enables it, so they will not be able to self-correct or get the help they need to change.
They will likely remain toxic as long as they stay in the position they operate from. They may appear to confess and repent to their wrong doing on occasion, but it will not be genuine and they will soon go right back to their toxic, abusive behavior. This will require either removing the narcissist from their position in the community, ministry, or staff, or ensuring strong boundaries and support for those who are vulnerable that remain in proximity to the narcissist. If the narcissist is not removed from their position of authority or opportunity, then the only remedy for potential targets is to take the initiative to get out of the relationship and leave the environment where the narcissist is operating.
Why Wolves in Sheep's Clothing are Narcissists As mentioned at the end of the section above, a common denominator with these wolves in the church is narcissism. While narcissists can be found anywhere in society and in nearly any profession, they do tend to gravitate to professions that give them inherent authority, advantage, or superiority over their potential targets, including teaching, clergy, and ministry leadership positions. Yes, it is an unfortunate reality that church leadership positions attract people with high levels of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder.
See the sections below for further discussion and statistics on this reality. It begins with grooming. Grooming is an intentional behavior someone uses to manipulate others over an extended period. The process of grooming is very specific to the target, circumstances, and environment, and throughout the process the abuser is very calculated and cunning in orchestrating things to enable access, break down defenses, maintain secrecy, and gain compliance. Following successful grooming, the abuser will be able to employ a cycle of idealizing, devaluing, and discarding that will effectively trauma bond a victim to the abuser and the abusive behavior.
It does sound strange, but this process results in psychological and biochemical changes in the brain that literally causes an addiction to the abuse cycle. The victim ends up in a fog of confusion where they may not clearly and rationally understand the situation they are in or be able to make logical and healthy decisions in responding to the ongoing manipulation tactics of the abuser.
At this point the victim is addicted to the cycle and even though they may begin to realize that what is happening is very wrong, they will feel trapped in guilt, shame, and self-blame, thinking that they are somehow responsible for what is happening to them. Mike Phillips is a pastor and therapist who has worked with victims of authoritarian abuse for over 40 years. In this series of articles at his website "Listen Carefully" linked below, Mike provides a thorough description of the grooming process and techniques used by predator pastors to manipulate targets into sexual activity.
Following are a few articles that detail the narcissist abuse cycle more thoroughly. Working relationships get far less coverage, but still contain similar elements of idealizing and devaluing for the purpose of manipulation and control of targets. Abusers strategically manipulate the victim, their family, and the community to hide their deviant intentions and avoid detection.
Abusers in the church can spend years developing and perfecting their grooming techniques to build a good reputation and a positive social perception of themselves as trustworthy spiritual leaders. This makes it all the more difficult for victims to be believed when they do find the courage to come forward and report abuse. It also often leads communities to easily minimize, excuse, or forgive the abuser such that they are enabled to carry on with abusing others, at worst having to find a new community in which to operate. The following article at Christianity Today by Kimberly Harris provides a more extensive examination of how sex offenders groom churches I would have listened differently to the frequent complaints my wife was making over the years about how she was being treated.
I would have taken her emotional confusion and pain more seriously. I would have stood up for her and insisted things change at our church, and if they didn't I would have insisted she find a new job. I could have kept her from experiencing years of covert emotional abuse that led to sexual harassment and abuse by her pastor-boss. I have seen first-hand the emotional and psychological damage an emotional abuser can do to an empath. I have lived with a victim, now a survivor, coming out of the fog of the long term grooming, manipulation, and control that a predator pastor uses to abuse.
I have seen the tears of trauma that flow for days and days as the survivor slowly realizes the many ways, over many years, she was emotionally manipulated and then coerced down an inappropriate path away from God by the very one who should have been encouraging and leading her closer to God. Recovery and healing are possible, but it takes time and educated support and professional counselling. This website was born out of our trauma and abuse recovery process. See more about that on our Mission and Healing pages. Our story is not unique. We have seen many, many others telling their stories on blogs and social media, and the problem has been in the church for many years.
Unfortunately, the ignorance, arrogance, and pride that leads other church leaders, and often the church body in general, to mislabel, victim blame and shame, and terribly mishandle such abuse engaged in by their peer is also a common problem in the church. This causes even more hurt and pain to the victim as well as anyone else who was abused to lesser degrees by the behavior of one who should have been a shepherd and not a wolf. We cannot stress enough the importance of understanding the narcissism aspect of how and why many abusers in the church get away with their toxic and abusive behavior.
We have to stop enabling these abusers by minimizing and excusing their inappropriate personal and professional behavior as just ordinary sin needing grace and forgiveness. When pastors or ministry leaders groom, manipulate, or seduce congregants, coworkers, or ministry participants into inappropriate sexual activity, it is not an affair or an inappropriate relationship; it is an abuse of power and clergy sexual misconduct.
The legal, ethical, and moral responsibility for the misconduct rests solely on the pastor or ministry leader. When there is a power differential between a pastor and congregant or between a ministry leader and a member of the staff, the integrity of the relationship is always the responsibility of the person in the position of greater power. These pastors and leaders who abuse their power this way are predators preying on the ones they should be protecting. Findings from this study reveal that clergy sexual misconduct is more prevalent than many people believe.
The Baylor Study website includes a helpful resource page here The abstract is as follows It sought to describe the experiences of women and men who, as adults, had experienced this form of professional misconduct.
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The findings were that clerical sexual misconduct involving adults is an unacknowledged, misinterpreted and harmful event, one involving the abuse of power and which leaves lifelong scars. Contrary to common thinking, these events were not affairs between equals, but violations of professional and religious duty. Survivors are seeking transparent and genuine acknowledgment of this reality in order for their lives to fully heal.
These stories reveal that abuse involving children, teens, and adults being committed by spouses, ministry leaders, and pastors is happening at epidemic rates, largely because the body of Christ is unaware of or apathetic to the reality of this problem and much of the church leadership is choosing to remain silent about it. Abusers are being shown inappropriate grace and allowed to move on and abuse elsewhere, while victims are being ignored, silenced, or even run out of the church as false accusers. An abuse of power involving Clergy Sexual Misconduct is not an affair or an inappropriate relationship - it is sexual abuse.
The person in the position of authority and power always bears the responsibility for the integrity of the relationship. No exceptions. No excuses. When it comes to accusations about a spiritual leader involved in misconduct, please listen carefully to the accuser, and to the information on this site. Very few accusations of this nature turn out to be false. It takes great courage and the overcoming of a number of emotional obstacles for someone to come forward with an accusation of misconduct.
Even those who do come forward, or perhaps are discovered as involved, will often quickly regret the exposure and sometimes will even recant their accusation. Click here for a description of some reasons why victims are reluctant to come forward. The victim in most cases will not have a clear or logical understanding of how they ended up in the activity they were led into by the one they should have been able to trust. Nor did they likely intend for any of it to happen. They will be and have been in a great deal of confusion, guilt, and shame about it.
Yes they may have ended up engaging in sinful activity themselves, but it is not a question of innocence, it is a question of responsibility and fault. Please refer to the 'Caring for the Victim' page for a discussion of the following summarized points. Assigning equal responsibility and fault between the spiritual leader and the victim of their misconduct by calling it an affair or an inappropriate relationship is considered sin-leveling and it causes further hurt and emotional damage to the victims and is very unhelpful in facilitating true confession, repentance, and healing for all parties involved.
It's important to understand that victims of abuse, even if they think they participated voluntarily, are traumatized. Victims need to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. It can cover for the abuser and leave the entire church more vulnerable to future misconduct and abuse. See the following Letter to Church Leaders for a description of what the wrong response communicates to the church.
Victims of Pastoral Abuse, or any type of abuse by spiritual leaders, should be treated with great care and compassion by church leaders and congregations during the entire process of bringing sin and abusive behavior to light. Yes we all still sin, but hurting others by engaging in intentional toxic and abusive behaviors just doesn't seem possible for someone calling themselves a Christian, pastor, or ministry leader, right? You may be tempted to think it could never happen in your church. But the reality is that abuse occurs in the church membership and leadership at alarming rates in every denomination all across the globe.
Unfortunately, more and more reports of these abuses in the church are coming to light in the news and all over social media due to the metoo and churchtoo movements. The church provides loyal followers, often fanatic admiration, inherent community status, and implied spiritual authority and power to its leaders, and this actually makes the ministry profession an attractive vocation for those with personality disorders such as narcissism. Ignorance and apathy about this reality are a big part of what enables these abusers to begin and continue to operate in the church.
They know they can easily manipulate and deceive the trusting, grace loving sheep who will quickly forgive and excuse their misconduct as common sin. Often, even if they are caught in terrible acts of abuse, they will be shown inappropriate grace and are able to go on covertly abusing the vulnerable either in the same church or often by relocating to another church that is not told what they have done. Glenn Ball in the Presbyterian Church in Canada. An excerpt from the study results is as follows The problem is real, and it seems that ministry attracts narcissists for the same reasons that elementary schools and playgrounds attract pedophiles: these institutions provide access to victims.
Ministry fills narcissistic supply needs through instant power and respect for the office of clergy. Regardless of the root cause, Clergy Sexual Misconduct is a significant problem throughout the church, across all denominations, and has been for many years.
Can Women Teach in the Church?
The following page documents a range of statistics related to the ministerial profession, including the Clergy Sexual Misconduct stats shown immediately below Again, t he overview of the Baylor study can be found here. It is a difficult reality to believe if you haven't experienced it or know someone who has, but even Child Sexual Abuse is being committed by ministry leaders at an alarming rate.
The article linked below was published in January and discusses child abuse in the protestant church. The data shows that out of male offenders studied, Denney, Kent R. Kerley, and Nickolas G. This just further reinforces the reality that the modern church has a problem with wolves that we are not properly addressing, and in many cases are not even willing to admit is our problem to deal with. Sadly it is often the secular world that is seeing, reporting, and judging the church on this problem.
The body of Christ in general, but particularly the leadership of our churches, should hold itself to higher standards of righteousness, integrity, and conduct than the world in which we live. The laws against such abuse are in place for a reason and the local authorities are the best equipped to deal with such crimes. Do not ever explain or excuse it as just sin that the church can deal with. Micah tells us that God expects us to act justly while we love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
Passages like Matthew , Matthew , John , Romans , and 1 John tell us that we have the spiritual authority to judge the authenticity and sincerity of those in the church, and we can bring justice to those who are unrepentant abusers by removing them from their positions of opportunity. Certainly the desire would be repentance and correction to the toxic behavior, but at some point we must realize when behavior patterns do not change and any words of confession and repentance are only words. Ephesians 5, 1 Thessalonians , and 1 Timothy tell us that the evil of sexual sin and abuse should be exposed publicly as a warning to the whole church, for all to see the standard of righteousness that is expected and as an example of public justice such evil doers should expect.
Any toxic behavior in working environments or community groups should not be tolerated, and the toxic person must be held accountable to improving the behavior or be removed from their position of opportunity. The implication of these two passages is that a pastor or elder caught in misconduct has disqualified themselves from continuing in their ministry and their misconduct should be identified publicly as a warning for others to guard against further misconduct.
There is no suggestion that confession and repentance is a factor in allowing the ministry leader to remain in place or resume in ministry elsewhere. No Tolerance for Unrepentant Sins Matthew , Luke , Romans , 1 Corinthians 5, Ephesians 5, 1 Thessalonians , 1 Timothy , Titus , and 1 John all tell us that unrepentant sin should not be tolerated in the church, particularly sexual sin. True repentance requires an honest confession of wrong done and a sincere demonstration of a change in behavior over an extended period of time. Abuse perpetrated by supposedly already repentant, redeemed Christians should not be treated as ordinary sin that can be quickly forgiven by the mere words of an insincere or generalized confession.
True confession and repentance of abusive behavior requires that the abuser be able to recognize and acknowledge the hurt and damage that has been done to the victims. Sincere and meaningful apologies to victims, to the satisfaction of those victims, should be expected before any forgiveness or reconciliation can even be considered. Abusers should never be allowed to continue in their positions of authority or opportunity to abuse, and may never be able to return to such a position even after adequate demonstration of repentance.
Forgiveness does not mean the elimination of consequences. Forgiving and restoring an abusive person to the environment where the abuse occurred will only encourage the abusive patterns to resume and likely embolden the abuser. Restoration to a right relationship with God or with the persons sinned against through confession and repentance does not mean a restoration to a position of spiritual authority is appropriate. No secular business leader with any degree of moral or ethical integrity would tolerate toxic and abusive behavior in their working environment, so why would churches so easily forgive and allow an abusive person to remain part of their church or ministry?
Read the following article for another viewpoint on the inappropriate grace that is often shown or expected to be shown to abusers. As a result of the stories now being told, both of recent occurrences and of some abuse occurring many years ago, we should be realizing that abusers have been allowed to remain in the church with no accountability for far too long.