I have written and added this section here because both my wife (Sandra) and I were sadly part of what has become known as an “abusive church.” We were in this church for many years and were very involved. I was in fact in a position of leadership as a pastor and after 28 years the Lord opened our eyes and led us to “freedom” in Christ.
Now I do want to stress that our time in the “church” was not all bad and in fact there were MANY good and happy times as well. We met the most amazing people and have travelled in many countries in the world and (this was an international Pentecostal Church). It was through a girl in this organisation that I first heard about Jesus Christ and this eventually led me to being born again. Sandra too was first brought to the Lord in this group. So this is something that we will be forever grateful for.
We left the group after 28 years (in my case) and 25 years (in Sandra’s case)… basically having to almost flee with our family out of the clutches of those who were in charge. We did this during a summer camp when finally God opened our eyes to the real motives of the leadership. Once upon a time most of these people were sincere, but over time corruption set in and major cover-ups of sinful behaviour of one of the senior pastors, etc.
Not that we have not forgiven the man for falling into sin – we have forgiven him personally, but the matter is far from cleared with MANY affected people. Indeed MANY were affected by this founding pastor (some were sexually abused) and who had previously erroneously looked to him as almost infallible (a very strong leader – who thundered out often that he was set by God as our leader and overseer – like Moses or King David in the Bible). This matter is still rumbling on…. (at least as I write this – December 2014).
To cut a very long story short we were finally out as we believe that God opened our eyes and gave us the courage to flee (dragging our screaming kids with us). So from that point on it was back to basics and looking to God only… drawing on the good things we learned over the years. Needless to say we have been shunned by our beloved friends (brothers and sisters) – we know the drill as we did the same to many others who had left over the years prior to us. We do not hold this against them, but we pray for them.
Let any who read this NOT be put off being a Christian… and also not all churches are like this, but too many are. We ALL need salvation through JESUS CHRIST and this is the ONLY way one can be saved and spend eternity with Him. We are aware that the Bible says that to follow Jesus is the “narrow way” (Matthew chapter 7) and few will actually be prepared to pay this price.
Matt 7:13,14 - Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Rom 11:22a – “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God…”
However we have escaped nearly 3 decades of rather oppressive teaching and keeping us bound in fear. God is LOVE and we are no longer under condemnation… Jesus died to set us free and now we actually LIVE and love Him from a free willing heart in this freedom. It is wonderful… truly amazing!
For the above reasons we have included a few books, articles and links - so that people who have been in an abusive church will gain information, help and hopefully courage to move on and find the loving and embracing love of Jesus – Who never leaves people - who come to him with a sincere/broken heart - in condemnation and rejection. Have a look at the YouTube link at the top - the lady explains how she was involved in a church that was abusive - what she describes fits pretty well a lot of what we actually went through, hence the reason I put this in - there are many on the net.
I do again want to stress that NOBODY should use the fact that "abusive churches" exist as an excuse not to get to know their Creator. He sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for us... and without us repenting, coming to Jesus and being baptised we have no hope of salvation.
Cult – Checklist
This is a very good "checklist test" to see if the group you are in is a cult or not. As you can see clearly – the group I was in ticked all the boxes; had I only had this and other information during my years of being in this group, it would have helped me earlier to "see clearly" and therefore to make a more informed (and less daunting) decision about leaving. If relevant, try it for yourself...
The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system,
ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
Mind-altering practices (such as rebuking sessions and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve
to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members
must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live,
whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is
considered a special being —or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers,
priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may
result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical
before joining the group (for example breaking with family or friends, or secretly sending money for ”charities”).
The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is
done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the
personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
The group is preoccupied with making money.
Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time (and money) to the group and group-related activities.
Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize mainly with other group members.
Most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe
there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving)
the group. Those members who do leave are slandered and lies are spread about them.
Twisted Scriptures - Mary Alice Chrnalogar
For Someone Else If You’re Concerned. For Yourself If You’ve Ever Wondered.
You joined your church because of its intensity for God. Like no other place, it’s helped you discover the meaning of obedience. Of teachableness. Of death to self. If there’s one problem, it’s the confusion that sometimes comes from your own carnal thinking. But God has given you leaders who can lovingly correct a doubting, independent spirit and help you choose God’s best for your life.
How can you go wrong with a church like that? Easily. What you’ve just read actually fits the profile of many abusive churches. Twisted Scriptures reveals in depth how the Bible can be distorted in ways that rob you of the liberty Jesus died to give you. You might be shocked at what you discover.
This book uncovers the subtle but powerful techniques by which, in the name of truth, controlling leaders manipulate and intimidate countless believers. It also supplies tools for overcoming persuasive, deceptive teachings and practices.
Thousands of Christians have already moved from struggle to true freedom and hope through Twisted Scriptures. If you truly want to grow in everything God made you to be, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Toxic Christianity - Stephen Kuert
This book is written for the wounded of this generation. Those whose hearts have felt the toxic sting of ministry gone awry. Toxicity never has to be the final chapter in your story. Healing is 100% possible no matter how deep and fresh the wounds. Woven around practical ideas and personal experience the author develops a platform for not only surviving toxic situations, but allowing them to propel us forward into greater places of Kingdom service. This is a must read for anyone dealing with a toxic ministry situation that is affecting their faith.
For details of these books
and others see below
Further Information & Links...