A couple of the earliest posts on this blog discussed how difficult it is to leave the church well. Meaning, it is nearly impossible to leave the church and remain in the local area without repercussions (church discipline, shunning, etc). Here are the links to those early posts: Leaving a Church and How Dare You Leave Our Church!
What is this insanity? You go to go to a church, decide to leave only to discover later that your former pastor has held you emotionally and spiritually captive by threats, shunning, excommunication, and/or church discipline? And you can come back in good graces only if you come back to the church, tail between your legs (okay, that was an exaggeration) recanting and repenting of your ways? Really????
Below is a heart-wrenching personal account of a family who tried to leave the church and move on with their lives. (This account was left in the comment section by Anonymous and I took the liberty to break it up here for easier reading.)
If you take blood pressure meds and have not taken your daily dose, please take your meds now. Reading this could cause medical problems.
Reading through all the comments on various blogs one thing has jumped out at me. I know some people were told to leave for various and often almost unbelievable reasons and then told they were under church discipline and or shunned.
But I left on my own volition after many months of prayer. I was terrified and had no one to ask counsel of if I was doing the right thing. I was concerned about certain things that were going on, especially scared for my children. But I had been attending BGBC for several years so I had already succumbed to the order to eliminate non-members from my life. I was so afraid to make the decision to leave. But I was not under church discipline.
MONTHS after I left, chuck discovered that several members were still friends with me. At that point he called a church meeting (I was of course not invited) at which time he informed the church body that I was not saved and a danger to anyone talking to me because I had subversive ideas (leaving the church). I was a member at another church at this time and heavily involved in sunday school classes, three separate bible studies, and teaching three year olds.
He informed the members that I was in open rebellion against him and God and that I was trying to get other members to leave. At this point I was so terrified of chuck that I had never said anything to anyone else about leaving. However, he forbade anyone from having any contact with me at all. He actually told them I was a danger because I was an unrepentant goat!
Fortunately, a few brave saints kept contact with me because they admitted they could see fruit in my life and were confused as to what my unrepentant sin was. So was I!
No one had ever contacted me to confront me regarding this "sin". One member actually asked if I was excommunicated or officially under church discipline. Since I wasn't, chuck said no, but the threat I posed was real and they needed to follow his counsel. Praise God that a few people chose not to!
One actually told chuck that they were leaving our relationship in God's hands unless chuck could actually specify my sin.
So I guess my point is my shunning didn't result from an open confrontation with chuck or some sin I refused to repent of, my shunning was a direct result of leaving the church.
There have been a few people who have likewise commented that they are unaware of what their sin was. I can tell you, you didn't give chuck the inappropriate authority over your life that he demands. I still grieve for the friends I lost for no reason other than chuck's ego. And for the ensuing years that I have spent triple guessing everything from books, to "truths" I learned under chuck that I have had to unlearn.
Ok, folks - how much of the above sounds like a normal, healthy, church? Why has this madness been allowed to continue for over a decade? How many more families and children will have to endure this kind of treatment? Who will stand up against this insanity?