I just need to vent a little, b/c I don't think I will get through this if I don't.
Dh and I were going to this church, the very first service I went to (DH went a week before me to check it out) the pastor was prophesying (sp?) over someone that they would become a millionare. I was shocked, to say the least. But then the pastor went on about how the Bible talks about prosperity blah blah blah....and it seemed to make sense to me.
Anyway, so we went to this church for over a year and a half, then we started noticing things....like how money was the topic of EVERY (I am not exagerating) sermon! And how if you didn't have money then you weren't living in the will of God. And how the only people who have problems with "money sermons" are the people who don't tithe regularly or who are "afraid" of becoming wealthy. Well Dh and I are poor! So this made us feel very out of place.
I kid you not, the pastor would actually from the pulpit talk about how he just spent over $500 on 3 pairs of shoes for his wife, and how if other husbands didn't do that for their wives then they are holding them back from becoming the women of God they are intended to be. Then a few months later his wife came to the pulpit and bragged about how she had preached at 2 churches and got $60,000 and bought herself a brand new corvette. (At the time our car was broken down, our phone was off and we didn't have any food in the cupboards to speak of...oh yeah, and a brand new baby to boot) so this was like a slap in the face to us, since we had just asked the church for some help with the phone or food and they turned us down "because there wasn't any money"
Ok, so the other problems are: almost everyone in that church "counsels" with one of the pastors. Dh and I were told that if we didn't sit in the first 3 rows then we couldn't meet with the senior pastor anymore: But children are not allowed in the first 3 rows:
If you leave the church then they will call you, if you happen to go into a meeting with the pastor, then he will promply tell you how you are out of the will of God and how your children will go to Hell if you don't come back. They don't claim to be the "only" church, but there are select few that they feel are "good enough" to attend.
The pastor repetedly said thing like " You are anointed b/c the man of God is anointed" meaning himself, what like God can't or won't anoint me?
They will "let people go" from a staff position so that a family member can become the "pastor" of that area of ministry.
Most of the elders and long term members of the church have left since we started going. The pastor explains this by saying that God is just making room for the diverse cultures He is going to send.
Anyway, so now that I have ranted a little (and thanks for reading if you have gotten this far ) My problem is that now I am so afraid to get involved with another church. I hate to just "church hop" but I want to find one that fits, one that is "comfortable" for now, something that won't push me too far....I want to be able to sit and enjoy being fed...and not feel like I have to do anything. I feel empty, and need filling up again.
We went to a church that was ok, but not the best. It was small, and nice....a bit far to drive. Then we decided on a nice four square church, I love it!!!! It is mellow, comfortable, quiet....and just what I need. Plus (and this is a major bonus) they reccomend books by Dr Sears, and not Babywise!!! They also have a beautiful nursery...with one way mirrors so you can check on your child any time. And a nursing room, where you can actually see and hear the sermon. This is not part of the nursery, but completely seperate.
Dh wants to go back to the first church, long story, but I want to stay at the second one. So we haven't been back to church in over 2 mo.
Thanks for listening!
It sounds like the people running the church that you left really have a connfused idea about Christianity. I'm glad you have found a church you like. My thought regarding which church to go to, the four square, or the one with possible job opportunities is two fold. First, my mil was a parish nurse, a paid position, in one church, but was a member of another. She did this on purpose because the church she was a member of fit her spiritual needs better, and she wanted to be able to maintain a bit of professional distance when needed in the parish nurse position. Niether church had a problem with this. So it is possible to attend one church and work for another, and in fact maybe better to do things that way and be able to be viewed as a professional (a Christian professional, even better) when doing the work.
The second thought is more of an opinion, and I hope if won't bother you that I say it. God will provide in His own way, you don't have to try to make it happen. This is a reminder I need frequently. I try and get things to work just how I think they should, how I think they will best help my family, and more often than not I lose sight of God's will while trying to work mine out.
Hope this helps somehow. I'll pray for you and your family.
On the issue of which of the two churches, the one you prefer or the one your husband thinks will help him with his business... well, I think you have to follow your heart not your head (or wallet) in this. Your church should be a community you feel a part of, you feel comfortable baring your soul in, a place where you can go for solace in your sadness and company in your gladness. And really, if the other church is simply doling out work based on membership, do you want to be apart of that?
I think it is hard for people (Christians and non-Christians alike) to really distinguish what is from God, and what is truly from man. It seems to me that you and your husband listened carefully to God speaking to your hearts, and this prompted your leaving the first church..trust that He will keep speaking to you the same way,,and when the right church is there,,you won't wonder, you won't need to think it out. Don't let stuff of man confuse the issue.
You sound perfectly at peace with the Four Square church,,it could be a place of healing,and a sharp contrast to what you fled from. Remember that you don't have to fully commit to a church for a while,,it is much like choosing a spouse! there needs to be a courtship before the wedding, where you find out all the blessings as well as the odd quirks that you may or may not be able to live with!
It frustrates me when people take examples such as the first church and use that as the reason they have turned from God/Church..I hear it over and over "there are so many hippocrites..the churches just want your money,,the pastor is just a liar..." how many have we all heard ( or said in our journeys towards faith..) I always remind people ( and myself) that there are God issues, and man issues. it is not fair to punish God for the wrongs done by man,,even if they claim to be worshiping God! Church leaders who fall from that place of grace they should always reside in do such a disservice,,because it only takes one rotten man to turn 5o people from God! aauurrgghh!
Sorry,,I just had to vent with you for a moment!
As far as working for one church and attending another, we have had a lot of experience with that. Dh is a worship leader, and has worked for other churches while maintaining our fellowship where we are members. It has helped us financially and helped the churches. He has been able to come in and help new or struggling churches get a worship team built and off the ground. In some of these young churches he could easily get a bit of a "big head" but he continues to stay grounded and spiritually fed by his relationship with our pastors and elders.
Anyway, it has worked for us.
I'll be praying for you. Let us know how things work out.
Peace and grace,
i am so glad you were able to get out of it. You need to rest. Feel free to take a while off from church and just rest. As for which church to go to, it would be wrong I think to attend a church just to get thier business. That seems like you are being fake. It doesn't sound like you were a member there so it is very likely they were thinkg abou using your DH because he is qualified for a job and if they turn him down just because you feel more at home elsewhere thenthey are really petty and do you really want to go somewhere that is so petty? If you are happy and comfortable and at ease at the last church then stay there. You desrve a good church where you can connect with Christians and with God.
The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it. We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.
Just to point out a few things...
I like both *NEW* churches ... A LOT...
I like lots of things about the church that is a bit far of a drive... the music is right up my alley... the people are friendly... the pastor's a great orator... and they let the Spirit have freedom.
My primary reason for liking/desiring to attend here is NOT the website business that it may provide... I like the church!
The church that's bigger, and closer to our home... is BIG... really BIG... about 2300 - 3000 people every Sunday. It's easy to NOT be known. It's easy to HIDE and not get plugged in. Who is going to notice if we come next week or not?? The worship isn't as VIBRANT as the first church - but it is done tastefully and with excellence. The pastor is pretty relaxed... kinda like Jack Hayford or even vineyard style preaching... could probably get away with sitting on the top step of the platform to deliver the sermon...
The word is delivered with power at both churches. But the 2nd church - due to it's size - has some "features" that we could get used to... small groups... cafe, 1 way glass to see into the nursery... etc.
I just want to make the RIGHT choice... and making choices is hard right now... especially after the last church I PICKED... it's kinda my fault that we ended up at that ABUSIVE place... and now I'm having a hard time picking the RIGHT PLACE to be.
I WANT to be involved... while rwikene wants to sit back and relax... that's another hard one... in a big church - there are a lot of people vyeing for some limited positions of involvement - while in a smaller church - they are always asking for volunteers... and I'm a volunteering type person... I'M SO CONFUSED!! :
THanks for listening to my rant too.
The abusive church really has made me re-look at my priorities and my wants/desires in a fellowship ...
Ultimately you have to compromise somewhere. And there's no set rule that you MUST find a church asap.
PS I'm a unitarian, so perhaps I am missing something about christian churches.
|Originally posted by punkys_daddy
It's easy to NOT be known. It's easy to HIDE and not get plugged in. Who is going to notice if we come next week or not?? .
Every church that we have gone to together we have been SO involved, we have been worked to death, pouring out our heart and souls....for what?!
See how finding a happy medium might be hard? We are exact opposites:
And yes, we *must* go to the same church, that is VERY important to both of us!:
Wow, it sounds like you have 2 good churches to choose from. Maybe you can alternate between the 2 for a few months and see where you can best fit in.
It sounds like you both might be a little burned out and need a rest from serving to just be fed. Keep praying and the Lord will give you wisdom.
Let us know how it turns out for you.
peace and grace,
What a sad experience. I cannot abide that kind of message being spoken as the word of God. Any time I read the Bible I see a lot more about helping the poor and aleviating others' suffering and letting go of my agenda than I do about lifting up greed and selfishness as holy attributes. What do these people make of Christianity's holy ones throughout the centuries such as Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa and countless others? Sometimes I think of how the church (meaning all of us who try to follow Jesus) must make God weep. Thank goodness He is a God of forgiveness and compassion. That is our only hope.
It seems that charismatic churches (my experience) can become charismaniacs!!!
I can also relate to just wanting to blend in. I also can relate to visiting a really large popular church and deciding against it because it would be so easy to blend in we wouldn't matter (go figure)
Don't believe any lies that may come out of the old abusive church (either the lies that people will say *or* the lies that you will think up because you *were* conditioned to believe lies in that old church)
If you want to share in private I'm open.
"In this world you WILL have many troubles, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world"... doesn't sound like prosperity preaching to me. Come to think of it, that whole type of preaching sounds pretty far from the heart of God...
Don't swallow the bondage....He came to set you free, free indeed. Do you really think that Jesus would steal bread from your childs mouth to finance $500 worth of shoes? Then don't feel guilty for refusing to do so yourself.
: 1. With the exception of 1 associate pastor & the senior pastor - the entire pastoral staff, elders, head ushers, deacons, and "front-row christians / pastor's friends" left the church without a single comment from the pastor.
: 2. Overnight the church changed from a contemporary (Hillsongs/Hosanna!, Vineyard, and even some radio hits from Jars of Clay, Michael W Smith, etc) worship to black gospel (Fred Hammond/Kirk Franklin style) We literally had 3 or 4 staff worship leader changes in under 6 months.
: 3. The message "Give until it hurts" and then give some more.
4. Everett is a Boeing community - and the weekend that Boeing had a major layoff... the pastors wife got up to brag about how - due to the economic downturn - she only got to purchase 3 pairs of shoes instead of 4 - at her weekly Nordstrom shopping spree. But that God was still providing for them IN the economic downturn - so maybe she'll go back and pick up that other pair...
The rest of my family has bought into it hook, line, and sinker. One of the pastors (who is african american) made a comment to my brother - that he could see my bro marrying a black woman.
My brother (who is as white as they come - and a "hick" to boot) has taken this as gospel truth - because a pastor said it! - My brother now goes around and tells everybody that it is the will of the Lord that he marry a "black woman" because it was "prophesied" over him! (Sounds like brainwashing and/or the "power of suggestion")
: 5. Did you know - that (according to the Sr. Pastor) - you can't hear from God? From the pulpit - he has made the comment several times - that if you think that you've heard from God - you are wrong. That's what the Bible is for. but on the flip side - he says that he "hears from God" all the time... because he's anointed to be the mouthpiece of God to this generation... (blah, blah, blah)
I have a dream/vision/calling to a certain area of ministry. Being a good christian... I took my little self down to the church office and shared it with the "executive" pastor - he told me that I "people have all kinds of ideas"- and mine wasn't from God - but have a nice day!
6. The sr. pastor has said that you WILL call him Pastor (as if it were his name) or he won't recognize you. He won't talk to you. You are not worthy of his attention. He demands respect w/o earning it.
Doesn't your Bible talk about how we ought to emulate Christ.
Doesn't it say that leaders should be servants?
Leaders expect the congregation to serve. They DO NOT serve the congregation.
I seem to recall Jesus - the good shepherd - as selfless...
Now we've found a good church to attend - where we can just sit and be fed. I absolutely LOVE the Word that is taught - but it feels like the worship is "canned" - I'm pretty partial to lively worship (Passion, Vineyard, Deliriou5?/Matt Redman and the other euro stuff) but they are pulling stuff out of the 70's, 80's and early 90's and always sings a hymn. I'm not against the older music - just prefer the passionate stuff of MY generation.
I guess we'll hang out here while we heal and get loved on... and then pray about what to do next.
I have to say that I heard the "nordstrom gospel" more than I heard the actual gospel! My SIL would go out and spend $80 on a new outfit b/c "she *had* to usher" btw: this wasn't her choice, all the members were made to participate in "volunteering"...anyway, her kids then ate hotdogs and hamburgers for the rest of the month
My BIL is so sucked into the "nordstrom gospel" that he has quit several jobs, for the slight chance that he may need to have his schedule free "just in case they call and ask me in for an interview"
Oh yeah, and my other SIL was told that it was the will of God to marry a man who left his wife and child so he could be with her: huh? where does it say that in the Bible? Maybe I am reading the wrong one, but my Bible doesn't say "when you get tired of your wife, leave her...and find a new one!":
Ok, so I know I said no church bashing...and this is what it is beginning to sound like, but I really need to hear from other people that this sounds wrong to them too....We have talked with my ILs several times, but they think we are wrong for leaving and that we will "come to our senses" and come back....
Uh...NO we won't!!!!
The noise level at the abusive church was SOOOOO loud... it made my ears throb after the service was over...
as for my sister's possible marriage (to the married man) the Sr. pastor actually told her that it was the "will of God" for them to be married - and put his "blessing" on it!
HE LEFT HIS WIFE TO BE WITH MY SISTER...
(simply over an argument about religion - he's "open bible standard" and she was "mormon" and neither went to church while they were married... but now that he has filed for divorce - he and my sister are going to church in portland (larry huch's) - where she moved to be near him - until they get married - so that they can move back to everett and go to the spiritually abusive church!)
how can we get through to my family?? (I'll stop "bashing" now)
I have been in the same place-- unfortunately, what it may take is for them to get hurt there before they move on. Sometimes a charismatic leader can cause people to shut down there brains, and it takes a good thump. Hard to watch, but just be prepared to be there for them when they come to their senses.
Dh did get the website job at the other church...they are perfectly ok with us attending another church...so I guess it was just us being paranoid:
Also, the new church we have been going to is having a marriage class, kinda like sunday school....Dh and I are really excited about this, since the baby our marriage has been pretty strained at time...so hopefully this helps.
Anyway, thanks for all the advice....
Good for you two for letting your faith and hearts and minds lead you out of there! And best of luck in finding the congregation that works best for your family.
I am so glad that even as someone who is not a Christian, you know that there are scriptures about taking care of the poor and such.
People get away with this because we all want to believe what we want to believe, and sometimes a lie can be swallowed one nibble at a time, untill the whole thing is swallowed, it's not like one big gulp.
I agree, hooray for this couple for listening to their hearts and getting out of there!
thanks for your post, I too agree that it is nice for an "outsider" (no offense intended) to see that it is wrong too.
Like DLB said: a lie is swallowed one bite at a time. That is sooo true....these pastors tell you about how God wants to prosper you, how the Bible talks about when you give you will be given ten fold...blah blah blah
After awhile you start to believe it...who doesn't want to believe that God wants you to be a millionare!?! They start talking about how Jesus is the King of Kings...so natually he would be wealthy right? :
Like I said before, these people are so nice and seem so sincere when you meet them, you WANT to believe the...because they just have that charisma about them....but it isn't until later...for us it was 2 years later, that you start to see things you didn't see before, you start to see through them and their message....
Anyway, I am glad we left too...if not for us then for our dd...she doesn't need to know that kind of manipulation
|Originally posted by DeAnna Lynn Britt
I am so glad that even as someone who is not a Christian, you know that there are scriptures about taking care of the poor and such.dlb
Can you imagine anything more tragic? Trading in the truth of God for the love of money? It makes me want to cry.
What is a Cult?
A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. (West & Langone, 1986)
Characteristics of a Destructive Cult
Authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top
Charismatic or messianic leader(s) (Messianic meaning they either say they are God OR that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended.....the leaders are self-appointed.
Deception in recruitment and/or fund raising
Isolation from society -- not necessarily physical isolation like on some compound in Waco, but this can be psychological isolation -- the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) -- the only valid source of feedback and information is the group
Use of mind control techniques (we use Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's criteria from chapter 22 of his book Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism to compare whether the eight psychological and social methods he lists are present in the group at question)
Mileu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment
Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative the "principles" (God-centered or otherwise) can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment)
Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group) one must continually change or conform to the group "norm"; tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group's controlling and manipulative influences
Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one's sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward personal change
Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited a reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychology
Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings -- the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way -- it becomes a "group" word or phrase
Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intense
Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist; impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence by joining the group; fear manipulation -- if one leaves this group, one leaves God or loses their salvation/transformation, or something bad will happen to them; the group is the "elite", outsiders are "of the world", "evil", "unenlightened", etc.
ANYWAY.....we all need encouragement, and I hope you're able to find it in the comfort of Christ...through Christian fellowship at your new church! And keep loving that family and proclaiming the Truth in Love!! (sorry to preach--I'm so much more preach-y online than in real life!! )
PS Thanks so much for the cult info!!! VERY interesting and helpful. To me it defeats the "all churches/religions are cults" theory I hear spouted to defend other religions that truly are cults.