Friday, June 1, 2007

The Leaving

I was going to write a blog that would explain our leaving our CLB. I thought that I would go through in sequence and explain all that happened to us. Frankly, the thought of that leaves me ill. I really don’t want to rehash the past few months. So let me give you a little in a vague way. If you want to know more please leave a post with your email address and I will give much more detail. I know it helped me to read other’s blogs about the details of their leaving. It made me realize that what happened to me was what had happened to them. It made me realize that I could survive too. It gave me encouragement that I was not crazy.

We served in our church for almost 20 years. There were problems along the way. Once we almost left but we felt that God had directly called us here and he had not released us. We stepped out of eldership at that time. That was about 8 years ago. We stayed. This was not as hard for me as it was for my husband. He could see major problems and, other than trusting God to fix them, he felt helpless. Still we stayed and supported.

The Apostolic movement came into contact with our church leadership. Soon we had speakers coming in from this group. Most all of them were wonderful men with a wonderful message. But within the messages was this apostolic order. This ordered people in rank. One over another. Soon there were titles. These were never demanded – just expected. My husband could see that this was not the Fathers heart for his church.

I actually thought he was making a big deal about nothing. I went to scripture to prove him wrong. I couldn’t. I read the New Testament through 3 times that week. I researched in the Greek, every verse that dealt with leadership or headship. I was amazed at the lack of “being over” and the contunity of being under or alongside.

I then started reading everything I could get my hands on about this particular Apostolic movement. Most of the books were good. Some were absoulutely scary. The dismissal of scripture was alarming. One even hinted at the ability of these new apostles being able to come up with new doctrine as did the early apostles.

I then researched online to find anything. I started with The Battered Sheep website. I felt so guilty for even clicking onto such a site. It felt like religious porn. But the more I read, the more I could see parts – not all – of our church. Especially the one article about what they would say about you if you were to leave. It was like they had visited our church. So I read more.

When we met with our leaders for a final attempt to get them to see the error or this hierarchy I was totally alongside my husband. We were totally on the same page. God was gracious to us in that way. I have read of many husbands and wives who were split apart on these decisions.

The meeting did not go well. We were informed that we were not on the same leadership level as them. They would not discuss anything with us. They were totally closed to what we had to say. We left in peace but did not know what to do. We could not stay and help them anymore. We did not have a word from God that we could leave. We were stuck.

We spent the next month fasting, praying and getting counsel. God actually showed up in a worship time and told my husband that it was time to go. He felt God say, “Ok, you can go now.” We waited for counsel to confirm and received it.

“Going” did not go as planned. We wished to tell each of our friends face to face. We were going to meet with our pastors and then tell everyone else in that order. That, through the work of the enemy and the hasty decisions of our pastors, did not happen. Word got out that we were leaving, emails went out, calls went out not to speak to us, and a meeting was planned for the whole church a few hours after we were to meet with the pastoral staff.

We were told that we were in deep deception. That “bad things” would probably happen to us if we left. That we could not leave with their blessing and many other things. We stood our ground, tried to be gracious, tried not to deal with character issues.

That night the church gathered without us and it was decreed that we were in deception. That the church could come and talk to us but only if they dealt with our deception. Our friends were devastated. Because we had tried so hard not to spread division, because we had never spoken to anyone about our problems, because we were not given the opportunity to tell them individually, they were completely confused and angry. It was disseminated that we had lived a lie in front of them – that somehow we had been unfaithful to them.

Only a very few have come to talk to us. No one was told that they couldn’t come, it is just the culture of the church that when someone leaves they have “broken covenant” with you and therefore you should not put your self in danger by having a relationship with them.

Therefore, we have left. If you need more detail, please leave a comment. The rest of the blogs will deal with the day to day of walking out of our CLB.

21 comments:

malegra said...

Much of this posts parallels our experience. We passed through various movements… faith, prophetic & personal prophecy, apostolic, kingdom, covenant… many, many names, and although we learned a lot of good along the way, many wrong teachings that just aren’t in scripture.

We were dumbfounded in our leaving, especially since we tried to abide by the expected practice of doing everything in order - speaking first with the leadership, and then not uncovering anything or doing anything outside of our covering, and not speaking against any of God’s anointed. Of course, that got blown to bits within minutes of our leaving our “meeting.” Phone calls were made even as we were driving home, with the pastors telling our friends that we’d be coming around, and that they should watch out for whatever we said and let the pastors know, so they could deal with it appropriately.

Call it what you will, there was always an unwritten censorship when people left, and there was no discussion of any concerns or issues among those remaining. That would be wrong. So toward the end, when people finally begin to feel free to talk about what they felt, it was surprising to see that so many of us had so many similar concerns for such a long time.

Brother Maynard said...

Been there, you're not alone. Totally get not wanting to talk about it. Eventually it'll come out, bit by bit... and it needs to. We're here and reading.

shane magee said...

wow! ain't the church just grand! the self-appointed hierarchies are some of the kingdom's worst enemies it seems to me. grim story. i empathise.

Barb said...

Shane, Thanks for stopping by. I had not read this since I wrote it last year. Wow, have my assessments changed since then. I see now, much more clearly than I did then. I wish I could re-live the leaving again, knowing what I know now. We were in such a fog at the time and I was still trying not to 'touch God's anointed.'
Anyway, thanks.

Sam Medina said...

There is supposed to be a hierarchy in the church. It's called the KINGDOM of God, not the democracy of God. However, authority in the church is supposed to be used to SERVE the body, much in the way a husband's headship is used to love and care for his wife and family. The NAR crowd is mainly New Age mystics who infiltrated the church world decades ago and have instituted authority without accountability in order to further their own schemes of greed, abuse, and subversion.

Barb said...

Sam, Thanks for commenting. When I left our abusive situation I did a word study on each and every word for leadership/ruling/authority and such. I was AMAZED at how the words meant to come alongside someone - not rule over them. It was a really great study and one that I recommend anyone to do. Jesus' heart on the matter was so clear. You are brothers. You are not like the Gentiles. I do believe it is a Kingdom but one ruled by the One who can handle authority. We are so blinded by our Christianity that we think is gospel but really is not. We are commanded to prefer each other, submit to each other and love first. If we do this, we will give headship and leadership to things but it will never be coerced.

getting there said...

Wow.. sounds like we came from the same church.. however I am in South AFrica.. I am so relieved to find that there are others like me! Thanks for your blog barb!!

Barb said...

A few months after we left our church I emailed Kingdom Grace (on my sidebar) and said to her after reading her posts on her CLB (church left behind) and the experience she had, I wrote to her and said, "I either AM you or I KNOW you." I could not fathom that someone could have the same expierence and not be from my old church. Sadly I have run into countless outhers who have walked the same path. I love to connect to them because it made me feel hopeful and also feel like maybe I was not so crazy.

The good news is that as I have followd along each one, their love for the Father seems to grow stronger through the time even if at first it seems to be difficult.

btw, I tried to link to your blog using google reader and it says that it is not set up to do that. Under customize, settings and site feed, make sure you dont have 'None' checked under 'allow blog feeds'. Maybe that will change it. I'm not too good at this stuff.

I plan on following along with your story.!
Blessings

getting there said...

Hi Barb, I will try to sort out my feed thing.. I am new at blogging so still getting to know how it all works. There is a new thing on blogger called follower.. that is one way to get updates.. but I will check it out now to see how my blog is set up for linking.
I am very encouraged to see you and others like myself and also growing close to God through this. aT first I was so scared but my confidence grows as I go along.

getting there said...

Hi, I managed to do it :)

Mike said...

Hello,

I noticed a lot of new comments on this post, so I decided to break accepted blog protocol (e.g. don't comment on posts that are over 6 months old) and write something.

I'm not a charismatic, but the operation and politics of charismatic churches has always fascinated me.

From reading your story and the stories others, particularly your experience with "shunning" by other members after you announced your departure, I was strongly reminded of my experience in Amway some years ago. Critics of Amway stress that the motivational organizations run by kingpin Amway distributors use "cult" tactics to shame distributors who want to quit, in order to force them to stay in. There is also a tremendous amount of shunning, talking-down, and disassociation that occurs when a high-ranking Amway distributor leaves the business.

I am forced to conclude that the hardcore apostolic/charismatic movement and Amway both seem to share many of the cult-like tactics for coercion and intimidation of their members. Interestingly, Amway distributor organizations (not the corporation, but the motivational organizations run by the distributors) also push a strong fundamentalist, Word Of Faith-style Christianity at their meetings, so there is a questionable spiritual component to the whole Amway cult as well.

As an orthodox Christian, it breaks my heart to see the Gospel and the Body of Christ corrupted in such an antichrist fashion.

Grace to you, Barb, on your present spiritual journey.

Mike Laprarie
http://mikesnoise.typepad.com

Barb said...

Welcome Mike. There are a few of my older posts that do get commented on. This is one.

You are not the first one to make the comparison to Amway. It is all about making the leader sucessful and that is just like my church. I have run across many Amway people in the church and in sister churches. The whole properity idea feeds off these kind of organizations. They preach that you need to be owners of the business and not just the worker.

Anyway, thanks for th greeting. I'll check out your pages as well.

John said...

Amazing - this sounds like my story.

A long time ago, after many many years, I had to leave my current church. I grew up there, but I felt like I had to leave. Although by words the church preached grace, by practice, it was not.

The leadership there was mainly driven by the pastor and his wife. The rest of the leadership was more like extensions of their arms and legs, rather than God's.

Of course, they wanted to do good things, but there was no free liberty for some one to exercise their own faith in any individual way. It was the church's way not the individual way. As a group, you're more effective, they taught. Soldiers for Christ. A race.

Yes, these are biblical concepts, but what about Micah 6:8 where it says to "act justly, love mercy and to WALK humbly with your God"?

Even the offerings, they were mandated as leaders, not just the tithing, but special offerings. We were expected to go heavily into debt (credit card or equity line) to give. There was even a specific email sent out to do so if you can, to watch for those low APR offers.

Anyhow, after awhile, I felt so disconnected from God, although we we so busy. And when I took time off the leadership and was just a member, the pastor and his wife's stance verbally was that it was okay as long as I was content, but the hierarchy setup in that church made it impossible to do so without a sense of guilt, since I was older in comparison to the rest of the members.

I realized in the end, I was serving God because of the expectations of my age and title, and because things were so mandated at a leadership and even a membership level.

People could not even take a 2 week honeymoon because you were expected to fly back in to their service for Sunday, lest the other 'sheep' get stumbled that you were idolizing marriage and the honeymoon.

Why couldn't they for that one Sunday merely attend another church during our honeymoon? It was not conceivable to them.

It was not the body of Christ as much as it was the Body of the pastor and his wife.

Barb said...

John, I was amazed and still am at how many stories are basically the same. They have the same skeleton. The outside can differ but the inside is always the same pride and desire to control. I'm sorry for your experience. May God grant you the grace to walk out loving Him more fully.

John said...

The thing I found the most saddening is that in the midst of it, the Holy Spirit was someone I hardly knew. My 'Holy Spirit' was the pastor and his wife.

It was almost like the catholitc church and the pope and why Martin Luther had to of course 'protest'.

I sometimes wonder if in the midst of wanting to do good, that the mantra of "the ends justify the means" becomes accepted by other leaders who establish and run such types of churches.

I went to a church once where they clearly stated that biblically, the pastor is supposed to equip his congregation and help the sheep to do God's work.

It seems that in my past however, I rather became the 'equipment'.

It's not to say all was bad. It was not. Many things were biblical. But isn't that what makes distinguishing all this very hard?

Barb said...

John, that is what is so hard. Some of it is so good. It is truth mixed with lie. The only problem is even the truth becomes a bit toxic. It has taken me a long time to walk with just the Holy Spirit as companion (as well as a few friends and my wonderful Husband) I was so used to someone having something for me to do that I never actually asked the Holy Spirit. I almost feel broken in this area still to this day.

John Fincher said...

Barb,
A friend of mine, Joel Brueseke, who has his own blog, and I were talking about Kingdom living yesterday, and he sent me the link to your blog.

It's funny how we have all come out of the "Church" for the same reasons. Mine was a small Independent Baptist Church in south-metro Atlanta. We were there 17 years (my children grew up in this church), and when we left, I was the chairman of the deacons.

It was almost EXACTLY like your husbands decscription. It was broken, and unless God fixed it, I saw no way out but to leave. The pastor and his wife were shocked when we told them (that's how disconnected they were and are that they didn't see anything "wrong" with us. If they really knew us, they would not have been blind-sided). They were nice at first, but used an outside situation to use as a reason to be angry with us which allowed them to discard us as so much trash. So we left in bitterness (this was back in June of this year, '08) that my oldest daughter still has not gotten over. The pastor was like a father to her, and his betrayal will have lifelong implications for her. I try not to be angry, but it does make me sad. He really believes he is doing "God's" work.

If you are interested in checking out MY blog, you can find it here:

http://johnsgracewalk.blogspot.com/

Grace and Peace to you!

Barb said...

John, How very nice to meet you. I'm so sorry for what you have walked through this year. Wow 4 months out! I was still reeling at 4 months. I didn't even know how much till this year at the same time.

What hurts my heart the most was your daughters struggle. I have 4 daughters who were each affected in individual ways. The one that struggled the most was my 23 year old one. She felt the most betrayed. If ever your daughter wants to talk to someone, let me know. I can give you her blog address (warning - not very 'church' like language used) and she also has a facebook account. She really had to struggle to even keep a relationship with God through the whole thing.

I will certainly check out your blog. I popped over for a minute just now and read your first post and saw you picture. I loved your reading list and if you loved those books as much as my husband and I did, I will love reading what the Father is teaching you.

Blessings to you and your wife and daughters.

Anonymous said...

It's really quite sad as i have come across this website. I believe more than anything. you have not changed or informed me of a Heresy. You have simply got me to understand that Christianity is just as messed up as this world. I think Ill stick to my atheistic beliefs. Thanks for the heads up.

- Rick

Barb said...

Rick, thanks for leaving a comment. I'm sorry too that Christianity is as messed up as the world. But, if I may, encourage you to continue to read of my journey. In the course of my journey these last two years I have found something really true in the heart of God. Scripture says without love we have nothing. Even when the organization that we build stops reflecting this heart of love it does not cease to exist. Christianity as a religion will ebb and flow with abuse and good. The heart of God as we love him and love each other through the example and power of Christ in our lives will continue to be true and strong.
Blessings

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making this blog. I was just googleing about ex members of NAR movement. I am not out yet from my NAR church in Corinth TX but there happened something in march what shocked me bit and so it had made me question NAR movement doctrines etc.
You can share your story deeper kadriliisa@gmail.com.
Why you call clb church left behing?