My Most Horrifying Church Experience Ever


Disclaimer: To protect my family and myself, I am not using names and I’m purposefully obscuring certain details. I cannot confirm them privately, either. These are well-known people in Christian circles who I still believe are doing helpful things, despite the terror behind closed doors.  I must be careful here, because 1) they would absolutely crucify me if they saw this post, and 2) they could also deny having ever met me, despite email correspondences and recorded conversations.  But I have to speak up.



I want to tell you about my most horrifying church experience ever, because it began so ordinary and subtle, and I want to protect you from the nightmare I eventually woke up to.

I know there must be so many more terrible experiences at church and mine is not nearly the worst, yet I hope you’ll know that not every horror story about church happens in a cult of backwood druids sacrificing goats to chanting.  It can happen in the most mundane sort of atmosphere with a slowly tightening chokehold, until it’s too late.

Years ago, I befriended the lead pastor of a church ministry that was doing amazing things in the community and we first became friends over the phone. The pastor explained that every church in America was doing it wrong.  This really appealed to my discontent about the church culture, and our phone calls were filled with tons of encouragement and positive affirmation over my “gifts, talent, treasures, insights, and abilities given by God.”  Whenever I spoke bad about my own church, the lead pastor agreed as loudly as possible.

In the first few months, he offered me a position at his ministry, but I was obligated to my current church.  However, I was still able to visit.  I was completely seduced by the way he and his team did ministry.  Their preaching was fun, their services were boisterous, their praise team was incredible, and they knew every single family by name.  They were well-respected by the community and they were funded completely by other churches and individuals from all over the world.  All the while, they were saying, “We do it better than the other guys” and their website sold tons of church curriculum.  I even bought some.


One thing I noticed right away is that these guys constantly agreed with one another about everything, both in public and private. They never, ever disagreed on theology, ministry, or even their preferences.

I found this a little strange since even the best of friends disagree sometimes, so I anonymously messaged their blog, “What happens when your staff disagrees or when you guys get it wrong?”  A few weeks later, one of their team members answered, “We never disagree and we never get it wrong.”  I was a bit puzzled, but I put this behind me quickly.

I was also a little troubled by their constant disregard for other ministries, especially mega-churches and Christian authors.  The lead pastor spoke a lot about grace in his sermons, but behind closed doors, he was constantly saying “Those mega-churches don’t care about the poor and won’t give me money” and “Those bestsellers you like are all s__t.”  Once they invited a mega-church praise team into their own church, and when the mega-church wouldn’t buy some of the curriculum, one of the church staff said, “What is wrong with them?  They like their Starbucks more than Jesus.”

I attended a few Bible Studies and the lead pastor would read something he wrote, and then ask, “What do you think about that?”  His staff would answer quickly and the lead pastor would light them up with compliments.  No one ever disagreed.  Soon when it came to my turn, I found myself answering in a way that would please the lead pastor.  I was afraid to say something stupid or misaligned with their theology.  I remember sweating and shaking while I answered their questions.

The crazy thing is, the lead pastor would affirm my answers and I felt great, like I had suddenly unlocked Christianity and the thousands of years of church history were all wrong.  It felt so amazing to have the Secret-Sauce that no one else had.  I was intoxicated with being on the inside, of having the keys to the club, bumping chests with the boys.  Finally, I had made it to the inner-ring.


I stayed oblivious.  I really loved these guys, and I still do.

About a year later, I was highly involved with the ministry.  But those little things I was able to ignore couldn’t remain silent.  I felt increasingly anxious around them, like I always had to say the right things according to their view of church, or else I was an idiot.  So I wrote the lead pastor about a minor disagreement I had with him.  I made sure to show the letter to both my mom and to two friends, to see if I was being fair and gracious.  I re-worded it several times to ensure I was making a suggestion, not a rebuke.

That night at 3am, I woke up to a phone call.  For the next 42 minutes, the lead pastor yelled and cursed and demanded my apology.  I hardly spoke.  He dropped the f-bomb at me about ten times.  He also started cussing out other pastors and his own staff and then saying, “I’m telling you this because I love you, man,” and then back to cussing. I don’t have a problem with curse words: but they were directed at others, namely me.  I offered to write a letter that recanted all I said, and he said, “Yeah you damn well better,” and after the phone call, I contacted the entire staff to apologize.

Some of the staff tried to contact me, but the lead pastor refused any more dialogue.  In a six-page letter, the lead pastor told me why I was no longer fit for his ministry, that I would immediately withdraw from any of his activities, why my fiance was incompetent, and why I was just a “nobody pastor from a nobody town who didn’t know nothing.”  Also, this was on my birthday.  I was absolutely devastated.  I apologized again and I made zero excuses.  He said, “We’ll work together one day when this all clears.”

I never heard from him or his staff again.

For the next few months, I checked out their Bible Study materials online and they were all reactionary statements to the things I had said in my letter.  One of them was even, “How NOT To Talk To Your Leaders.”  I wish I could say I brushed this off, but it hurt like fire.


You see: This particular church ministry wasn’t the typical “bad church” or full of “that kind of Christian.” They drove normal cars, didn’t preach anything too wild, were married with kids, and wore skinny jeans like every other church staff.

On the surface, they were an amazing church with flashy sermons and great music and lovable people.  I still believe they’re doing a wonderful work.  But behind closed doors, there was an insidious incipient strain of insider legalism that demanded you fall in line, or else.  I was holding my breath half the time around them.  At the same time, I became smug over other churches and I criticized other sermons and methods of ministry that weren’t like “ours.”

This church was also huge on “grace” and hardly ever talked about God’s discipline and justice.  They trashed any other church who didn’t center on “God’s love.”  I understand this, because grace is often the first thing that leaves a church: but by being against churches that didn’t have grace, I wasn’t having grace for churches that lacked grace.  I still fell for an “Us Versus Them” mentality, which is exactly what this church said they were against.  By being against legalism, they formed their own legalism.  This is so much more dangerous than a typical moralistic church.

So often we think of “bad churches” as fire-and-brimstone picketers or the TV preachers with gold-toed diamond shoes, but usually, those who abuse authority are charming personalities that are blind to their own hubris and ego.  They don’t always see themselves as the abuser, and they’ll laugh off victims by pointing to more extreme cases or saying it was just a “disgruntled attention-seeker.”  And it’s these type of institutions, that are neither extreme nor obvious, which do the most harm, because they will hardly examine their own procedures.


This was all several years ago, and I’m still recovering.  A part of me wishes I could expose them all.  I still have the screenshot on my phone of the 42 minute phone call.  I still have the six-page email that essentially called me worthless.  I still have the communication where the staff tried to contact me, and couldn’t.

The sad part is, even if I did all that, they would still find a way to spin the whole thing to their advantage and they would publicly destroy me.  Even writing this blog post is risky (I’m expecting at least an angry email, at worst a threatening phone call or press release, but hopefully nothing).  From their point of view, I’m the bad guy, I’m the one who “needs prayer.”  They’re too powerful.  Their ministry could bear the exposure of truth; I would be ruined by the lies they tell about me.

Yet assuming I could safely expose them, I still would not.  I don’t want to be one more guy who says “Look out for those Christians.”  Because as much as I was hurt, I still have hope for them.  I still pray for them.  As much as I’m devastated and angry, I still love those guys.  At least one or two of them were so much better than the ministry they were a part of; I could see them eventually breaking away to do greater things.  And if they’re truly not following Jesus, then my response can’t be to gloat, but to get on my knees in prayer and weep for them. 

I don’t say that to look holy or better; I say that because naturally I’m a selfish person and I would love nothing more than to see them shrivel and fail.  But it’s Christ in me who wants the best for them, who wants to see them repent and restored and reconciled.


A couple good things did come out of this. One was that I learned not to be too impressed by celebrity pastors.  They need grace like we all do, and that’s exactly why we can’t idolize them. While I was saddened by the entire debacle with Mark Driscoll, I wasn’t surprised either; maybe it was the best thing to ever happen to him. And I learned to be as transparent as possible, to keep my hands open. I welcome disagreement whenever I can. I constantly assume I’m not the smartest person in the room. If there’s an opportunity to be vulnerable, I jump in the deep end first, because I don’t ever want to pretend I’m better than I really am. Again, I say that not to look better than anyone else, but exactly because I’m not.

I also tell you this because I want you to be careful.  I want you to be in a church where you are safe to disagree, to ask questions, to have dissent, and to speak up against the leaders. 

I don’t mean to be contrary for the sake of being anti-institutional.  I don’t mean to stir discontent where there is none.  Anyone can do that, and it’s too easy.  There are still many good pastors out there who deserve your trust.  But even the good pastors need accountability and hard questions and self-examination.

If your church is full of Yes-Men who “never get it wrong” — then they’re definitely not in the right, either.  If your church is strangely in unison with the lead pastor every dang time, I don’t want to say cult, but we’re getting into a bizarre mindless idolatry of a seductive personality.

I’ve seen too many churches like this, and it absolutely breaks my heart.  Jesus himself was so open to questions and challenges and dialogue.  In the early church, Paul and Peter were confronted all the time.  It probably became ugly to be so honest and truthful, but that’s why honesty requires grace.  Honesty requires the hope that you won’t be ridiculed for being ugly and wrong.  If you’re afraid of feeling wrong in church, that church isn’t a church and it’s not for you.

I love you, dear friends.  Find a safe place where you can be honest and you’re met with grace.  In the meantime, I grieve for those who have been burned by the church and I pray for healing, for us to trust again.

— J.S.


Advertisements

73 thoughts on “My Most Horrifying Church Experience Ever

    1. It would be easier if I could say people are entirely good or all evil; I’m sure the exception has existed throughout history, but often it’s a case of blindness to the wrong path we are on.

      Like

    2. Unfortunately church doesn’t assure that it is lead by christians. Even if are christian leaders in a church there are always some hypocrites that manage to work their way in to give churches a bad name. It usually comes down to people pretending to be Christians so they can make trouble. These people act like they love everyone but talk behind their back until they can stir up enough gossip to drive the christians out. I have seen it happen in 6 churches with a lot of success. Many have closed the rest are dead spiritually. They kick out the christians and keep the trouble makers until the church has nothing to offer. I had an experience in a church that caused me to leave a church that had been a very spiritual church. I had noticed a change there about 5 years before some of the leaders turned on us. So many churches don’t follow the Bible today, It makes me wonder what they are there for.

      Like

  1. That was really well said. I’m sorry for your experiences. It is so hard to put a relationship with Christ above all else, because you often find yourself walking alone with Him. Everybody wants to be a part of something and accepted for who we are, but that doesn’t always happen. Where I live there are literally hundreds of people outside the church for similar reasons.

    We had a funny incident in church, where the pastor was searching for a word that had eluded him. He asked, “What do you call somebody who speaks up and challenges the pastor or the church?” “A heretic!” was the answer. “No, bad Christians, no wafer for you!” The word he was really looking for was “polemic.” He went on to give a very nice teaching about Truth and how it doesn’t fear being questioned because it has an unwavering strength behind it. That’s what I like to see in people, that self assurance and strength that comes from trusting that the truth shall stand and defend itself.

    Like

    1. I found a picture of the scripture on facebook 2 timothy chapter 3 I believe. I read it there. It talks about people that Betray their friends and says to stay away from these people. this is a shortened version of it. The message told me we had done the right thing when we quit going to the church where they acted that way. We were treated so bad we didn’t have much choice but it reinforced our belief in how to handle such actions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had similar experiences and am now treated like the plague. I was saddened by it, but seeing and hearing Jesus more clearly was well worth it. I visited that church again recently and was thinking that God would have me say something to someone that might help them spiritually, but he gave me nothing. Lately, even though I’ve been very introverted all my life, I can chat at length when God lays something on my heart. The scary thing is, he didn’t seem to have anything for me to say to anyone there that day other than the standard social pleasantries.

    Like

    1. I’ve learned more and more that silence is often preferable in a frantic public situation. Not that we don’t speak up, but it can be so hard to truly show someone a different angle in the space of one or two discussions without interruption. It’s like the guy who yells at me in traffic, I have no time to explain that I’m stressed or didn’t mean to swerve in his lane or simply forgot my blinker for a second. I think when we do get those opportunities to speak, that’s when we enter swinging (with total grace and tact).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We had the same feeling when we left the church that mistreated us. After we left we always got negative feelings from people that we met from the church. They didn’t really say anything but the feeling was that they wanted to get away from us. They weren’t all that way but there were enough to let us know that leaving was the right thing to do.

      Like

    1. Sadly they have treated others similarly since we have left that church. After it happened to us I found out that it had happened to others there before and after it happened to us. If you attend a church where they never tell you what you must do to go to heaven start looking for another church because they aren’t fulfilling the church’s primary purpose.

      Like

  3. It’s sad that this is as common as it is. I’m thankful that (1) you were brave enough to challenge the leadership (2) you got out of it and (3) you’ve written this blog post to warn others. A big church in our area just split over moral failure and abusive leadership. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still extremely influenced by this charismatic but abusive leader.

    Like

    1. Yes, it does sicken me occasionally when I see this church’s current teaching. They’re still singing the tune of grace in the pulpit. But then who’s to say God isn’t really working there, or that God is working in spite of them, or that they do regret what happened too? And I’m not above them in any way. If all my dialogue between people were on the projector screen this Sunday at church, I’m sure others would judge no matter how harmless it seems. I suppose my major gripe is when we’re too blind to repent and ask for forgiveness.

      Like

  4. Jesus was a nobody from a nobody town who didn’t know nothing and I’m so glad other wise He would not have made time for me!!!

    Like

    1. Don’t let it drive you away from church or destroy you spiritually. I have found that churches within one denomination vary greatly based on the leadership and those that attend. It is hard to find a church that follows the Bible and where the people live like christians. Churches change over time. They can be very spiritual for a while and then have a few members backslide and become hippocrates that destroy the church. Don’t give up on finding a good church. They are rare but they do exist. Some never give the salvation message. Some that we went to started good but lost out spiritually because the people couldn’t get along. It all starts as a spiritual problem with the people there. We have found the most spiritual church I have ever attended. I pray for them daily that they will stay that way. the Devil is infiltrating churches today because he knows the time is short so he is attacking with in the church. Attacks from outside the church are not as surprising but they are coming from within now.

      Like

    1. Thank you Lori. In no way do I mean to draw false pity or sympathy, either. Sorry it might sound like that. And sorry for your experience too. I think on a long enough timeline, we all get burnt by churches, whether by a member or by leaders, but the important thing is reconciliation and recognition of error, which there were none here.

      Like

  5. Thanks for sharing some really good points on what makes a great pastor. Jesus did not mind getting questioned, that was the largest part of his ministry.

    A pastor needs to have a servant heart and be humble above everything. It is definitely a calling to be a pastor, and to use God’s power and love instead of charm power and popularity. Jesus Christ’s most important rules were to love Him above everything else, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. He was all about love, and gave himself for others. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for US, went to hell for US, and got the keys for US. Pride, arrogance and selfishness do not come from God.

    I’m happy to hear that you are out of that group and that now you are sharing your knowledge with others.

    Like

    1. Thank you my friend. I’m reminded of King David, who held onto his secret for so long, and I’d imagine that no one ever questioned him or confronted him. It was a toxic culture of dishonesty. But no person is ever entirely black-or-white, and I’m trusting God to work in those gray areas that hearts would be convicted.

      Like

  6. Pastor Park, thank you so much for sharing your story. I honestly, thought maybe I was the only one that went through pretty much everything you stated. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can relate to everything you have just said in this post from my past ministry experience and like you, it breaks my heart. I’m still walking in my healing as well. I too wanted to share my story, also which is such a risk to do and since I’m only 20 years old. But this blog has definitely helped me. Thank you once again. God is good.

    Like

    1. I’m really sorry you had to go through it too. I hope one day, you’ll be able to share your experiences with all grace and wisdom, that others might find healing as well.

      Like

  7. really convicted for past views i have had on old church bodies i was a part of, very glad God brought you out of that place and has revealed so much wisdom and discernment to you through all the crap

    Like

    1. Thank you David. No one gets it fully right and I don’t mean to stir discontent about church in general; I think if anything, I can focus on what God will do through us instead of “against” them.

      Like

    1. I have given a lot of thought to how to answer this. I don’t want to tell the church denomination or the church name because it might hurt other churches in the same denomination that are good churches. I will say that it is
      in the mid Michigan area in case it helps you if you are looking for a church.

      Like

    2. I have decided that I won’t give the name of this church but I will give enough info to help warn you or possibly help you to rule out that it is a church you attend The church name starts with A. This isn’t the denomination name or the city it is in. It is in the mid Michigan area. This church reminds me of a place I used to work. They said they had two doors to every department so the new employees wouldn’t run into the employees that got fired or quit. This church has had 3 secretaries in the last two years. The first one retired and two were dismissed so the first one is back again. They didn’t say they were fired. They always come up with some other excuse like they resigned or retired. The secretary that retired made more mistakes than anyone in the church made in their jobs but that didn’t stop her from causing at least 3 other people other than the two secretaries to lose their job there. She is the general manager so everyone is afraid to disagree with the way she treats others. The church set up a different structure a number of years ago. I think the plan was to stop some of her actions but the people in the structure go along with her on firing decisions so it didn’t help. We attended there almost 10 years before we were there long enough to see the pattern before her full hatred was directed to us. I have been in church all my life and have seen church feuds between families that caused trouble but this one secretary has ruined the spirituality of a larger very spiritual church. The last secretary lost her job recently so the original secretary could get the job back. I had thought she was just the secretary but she said she is the general manager and she does manage all aspects of the church much to the irritation of the rest of the church. I had hopped that things would improve there but it seems nothing has improved in the over two years since we left.

      Like

  8. Churches are a living organism that will survive at all costs. The unfortunate thing is that these leaders at some point can make it about them, rather than it staying about God. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. This church has survived to a point in the fact that they are still open but spiritually it is another story. I know of 5 churches that were smaller that were destroyed by a few people that started a feud in the church. They are now closed or sold to another church. One is a garage.

      Like

  9. This is something that needed to be shared, for your sake and for others. Although I’ve never personally experienced this, a close friend of mine did. She didn’t share all the details until I told her that I had visited her old church a few times. She became extremely upset – to the point where she could hardly talk. Her experience happened several years ago, but her heart is still pierced to this day. Although I enjoyed the service when I was there (thought everything was Biblical), I couldn’t go back. I am concerned about the leadership of that church, but truthfully – I’m almost more concerned about my friend’s heart. She has become bitter, and I don’t think that she sees it. With that being said, I’m glad to hear that you are praying for those people. Will pray that God will continue to heal your heart, also.

    Like

    1. I’m really very sorry for your friend. I know the bitterness all too well, and it does take time and active recovery.
      It’s so strange that I’ve seen many friends blessed by the very churches that have deeply hurt others. Sometimes I think this is God’s grace working despite and not through, and other times I think that maybe that particular church is just better at hiding. But either way, I know that 1) churches aren’t perfect, and 2) God is.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Believe me I know how she feels. My wife was the musician at a church. We went to the church for almost 10 years. If the church had honored the contract it would have been 10 years. Strange that after 9 years and 7 months they told her they weren’t going to renew her contract and they were ending her contract in one month. They suddenly said they didn’t like the way she played. It took them almost 10 years to figure it out. Strange because she received applause for her specials and compliments every sunday. The sound person couldn’t balance out singers or instruments after many complaints but nothing was done. The secretary made more mistakes than anyone in the church and was the one that made the complaints about my wife’s playing. It was a very spiritual church when we first went there. After about five years they started coming up with ideas that people didn’t like and some left. Some passed away from old age. the church went down hill spiritually from then on. We were treated so bad we had to leave the church. For the first time in my life I was ready to quit church. I have found a church service on the internet that is real good but is too far away to attend the church. My wife only plays the piano occasionally. She doesn’t plan to take another musicians job after what happened. I don’t want to take any jobs in the church after that either. We are attending another church because a friend made my wife promise we would go to church. We haven’t been able to find a church where we are fed spiritually. We have been going to a church but they haven’t told the plan of salvation since we have been there over a year. I am very concerned that many of the people there don’t know what to do to go to heaven when they die. It is hard to find a good church. It is very discouraging. We could never go back to the previous church. What they did came close to giving us a nervous brake down. Once again I am ready to give up on church but not on God.

      Like

      1. I’m so sorry that you both had to experience that – especially in a place where you don’t expect it.

        I talked with a friend today about church and our spiritual journeys. When I asked her how church was – she shrugged her shoulders and said ‘Ok, but I’m struggling with my pastor’s sermons and leadership’ – and added that THAT was all she was going to say. She didn’t want to dwell on it.

        She’s very involved in church – leads women’s Bible study’s and has the gift of mentoring others. I have to say that the way she handled our conversation reflected her faith, focus and relationship with the Lord. She mentioned that her spiritual growth has come from her small/life groups. Perhaps you will find what you need there.

        Like

        1. We never know when a bad experience we have can help others. Recently we were in a restaurant and overheard a young couple talking. He was telling her how he found the Lord as his savior. When we finished eating I went over to talk to them. I told him congratulations on finding the Lord. I told them that we had a bad experience when a few people in leadership in the church made things so bad for us we had to leave the church so don’t loose faith if it happens to him. it is happening more frequently now. I believe it is because we are living in the last days. He told me they were going through that now. I am sure God lead me to talk to them. I could feel the Lords presence with us.

          Like

          1. I’m reading a book that makes it crystal clear as to why the church is struggling so. If you like to read, I would recommend reading The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller. As you said, I’m sure we are in the end times, as well. This book explained a lot to me about people. God bless you as you heal from your bad experience.

            Like

      2. Praying for your healing and your search process. I think for certain seasons, we are without a church-home for a little while. My wife and I were without a church when we first got married for nearly a better part of a year. Thank God we’ve found one with kindness and clear theology; not perfect, but I never even asked for perfect.

        Like

        1. It is so hard to find a good church. We would expect that with as many churches as there are it wouldn’t be a problem. Even when looking at the ones that have similar beliefs some have wild music and some are what I call surface churches. They only talk about helping others financially but don’t worry about their soul or where they will spend eternity. It is sad that so many have been treated so badly by church leaders. I hope Church leaders that read about the mistreatment here will make an effort to change their treatment of christians before they destroy the church and the those they drive away from church. I believe we are in the last days with what is going on in the churches and in the country.

          Like

    3. I believe this web site would help her. Let her know about it. It has helped me. it is good to talk with others with similar experiences because we can understand what you are going through.

      Like

  10. As a very young Christian, I had an amazing female pastor tell me that even the church could be an idol. That in the end, we needed to be prepared to hand the church over to God and losing it in the process. And that for some of us who love the church, this is one of the hardest idols to let go of.

    Like

    1. Any time people are driven out of a church there is something wrong spiritually. I don’t feel that it is a cult. it was just a matter of a few hard hearted leaders of the church loosing out spiritually. There are still good Christian people there but it is hard to accomplish much in an atmosphere with so much hate.

      Like

  11. Amen, brother. I had a similar experience. I dared to question some of Paul’s teachings in a Bible study and was soon snatched from a sound sleep by an angry, accusatory phone call from the head of the women’s ministry. Even got hauled into the pastor’s office. The pastor was great – except that he was afraid to stand up to the woman. Something is always wrong when you aren’t allowed to ask questions or challenge the church’s understanding. Is there faith a fragile house of cards? If you have to defend your doctrine so vehemently, so violently, then it probably doesn’t have the backing of the Holy Spirit – whose job it is to defend the Truth. And putting down other churches is always a big red flag for me.

    Thank you for sharing and for modeling your gracious attitude.

    Like

    1. I’m really sorry you were embarrassed that way. I’m also glad to see that you recognized the pastor’s strength as well as the overall church’s weakness. Often it’s just a few “bad eggs” in an otherwise healthy church and not everyone would agree with how certain people handle things. Also, I can’t say I’ve always been gracious about this incident (there were plenty of passive-aggressive subtle digs at this church through subsequent writings), but I’ve learned that God is gracious even in my mishandling of grace.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have an update on what is going on in the church I told about here previously. They replaced one of the people that made us leave. They are still under the same leadership and have recently forced the new person out of their job at the church and replacing them by reinstating the trouble maker that caused us to leave. The person that was reinstated made so many mistakes in the job when we were there that complaints about her were only second to the complaints about the sound technician. I had hoped that the troublemakers would be removed from power but it appears they will be there until they destroy the church unless God uses this to make some changes. We have been away from there for almost two years but it still bothers me that they are destroying a church that used to be so good and so spiritual. When we started going there things were different. The ones in charge of the church then were fine Christian people that would never treat anyone that way but many have passed away and they changed the way the church was managed and more importantly the people that managed it.

      Like

  12. Most interesting to read of your experience here. I’ve not experienced the apparent animosity that you have. Still, in my own dealings with those expressing strong Calvinistic beliefs, I’ve found it impossible to fellowship or otherwise be a part of a small group as it seems to quickly become almost antagonistic to question or otherwise express doubt about Reformed theology, my own lack of assurance of salvation, the purpose of prayer, understanding the nature and character of God, etc. I either have to comply (and pretend) or I have to leave. Call me a doubting Thomas – but I feel like an outcast.

    Like

      1. Thank you for creating this blog where we can share our experiences and help each other to heal. It is good in one way that we aren’t alone in our experience but it is sad that there are so many people treated this way by people in the church. I expected attacks from outside the church by political and special interest groups that didn’t want to know the truth and don’t want others to know the truth but it is so sad that some of these people managed to infiltrate the church and are tearing it apart from the inside. I know of another church that the pastor was told they couldn’t talk about certain sins and had to include the people doing these sins in the church. they need to come to church to know about sin but if the minister can’t tell anyone about the sin they will never find out so they can repent. It is like endorsing the sin when the churches have them in church positions.

        Like

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. One thing I’m thankful for is that it didn’t turn me away from Him. If anything, it strengthened and fortified even the tiny little faith that I have.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you very much for sharing this. I was a member of another perish, in another country, with a similar problem. There wasn’t anywhere near the same level of fear ruling the leader circle, but (it turned out) the same level of dishonesty. Like you I don’t want to go into too much detail in a public forum like this, but the conflict, once it was out in the open, tore the perish and the board/elders apart, and ended about a year-and-a-half later with the death of that perish.
    I had a dream, or maybe a vision at the time, when the conflict was at its height. I saw the church house (old, simple house, big enough for us but in need of some repairs), with giant holes in the roof, letting rain and snow in, falling apart, and the old Accuser himself looming over it, laughing.

    I met with a friend from that perish some years later, a guy I can trust with my life, and that I love for his total honesty, and as we talked about all that happened, I told him about the dream. It so totally fit in with the feelings I had about the whole process, and I was still mad for all the people that had gotten hurt in the process of accusations, fled the place and were left without a spiritual home. While acknowledging the dream and the truth of many people suffering, he also said “but you know, it was the grace of God that that perish died. It was an unrighteous leadership, and people were deceived, but God didn’t allow the big Lie to continue”. For me, and us as a family, it was more than five years before we dared to come back as members in another church. I still consider these years as lost time, but looking back, at least I can see that God was there with us every day.

    Like

  14. I’m sorry you went through this painful experience. It does reveal the flaws of our character to go through these painful trials. God is so faithful to rebuild us out of these ashes, into something new.

    I see OUR weakness in this: humanity’s flaw. You are not alone. If we are thinking oh I would have responded differently than that then perhaps we do not know ourselves. Being easily flattered. Our egos massaged and our pride building up. We are all fools for this. We want acceptance and value and for those especially broken in this area this is a trap. In transparency with our Father we are forgiven this shame and humiliation. As we forgive those who trespass against us. We see a side to ourselves that we are not proud of but that God needs us to see so that he can truly begun to work with us, with others.

    The lesson here is to learn to not be fools for these snakes. I know you have been kind about how you speak about them. I know you still fear them. God will help you overcome this. But this is the time we live in. We need to be wise and humble. We need to be aware of our vulnerability and weakness against these kind. We live in an age where personality is valued over character. Even in our churches. We worry about swearing in church and we turn a blind eye to THIS. You are not alone in your experience. But you are not a victim. You are the head and not the tail. You made choices just like we all do. How many of us would NOT be flattered by silken words that appeal to our need for acceptance and belonging.

    This is our responsibility in this to face our brokenness with an ever loving God so we can be on our guard in these times. Its not going to get better. Its going to get worse. You can grow from this.

    Like

  15. Thank you so much for your kind uplifting words. I’m reminded of how Jesus said we’re to be innocent like doves but cunning like snakes. I’m hoping for both purity and skillful wisdom on this.

    Like

  16. Thank you for this Pastor Park. I had a very scary experience with a pastoring family years ago and their facade was so well done that I had begun to think I’d imagined it; this reminded me that no, I didn’t imagine things, and yes, it’s possible to do good things while still maintaining a hidden spirit of vindictiveness and callousness. Thanks for your bravery. *hugs and prayers*

    Like

  17. It took us a while but we have found a very spiritual church so don’t give up. We are blessed every Sunday by the messages there. Last Sunday the pastor talked about being thankful. He said he was thankful for our church. After what we went through we are more thankful for our church than we have ever been before. People there are so friendly and Christ like there. It helps us put the bad experiences behind us.

    Like

Leave a Reply

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