April 19, 2017 at 8:39 PM #310890
We have just left our church of 8 years. They have gone through 3 youth pastors in just a few years. The new one who has been there a year is taking over everything. I was recently put on a committee and my eyes were opened to the behind the doors manipulation and lies that I had no idea were occurring in the church. Our new youth pastor (who gossips about the other staff members/deacons) went to our pastor a few months ago and said if they got rid of our Assoc. Pastor that they all could get raises and they could pay him thousands more and he would take over all the programs from babies- adult ministries. I was horrified as my pastor announced to the committee that he had picked a retirement date for our Assoc. pastor and that he, the new youth pastor, and our worship leader were all getting raises. He then a few weeks ago stood up in church from the pulpit and announced that our Assoc Pastor had come to him and wanted to retire. My husband and I are devastated. I thought I knew my pastor. I could discern the new youth guy was bad, but my pastor is going along with all of it. I don’t want to become cynical like your post warns, but I am so hurt and I’m having major trust issues with churches now that I’ve seen this abuse and the lies and manipulation that have occurred. We removed ourselves from the committees and my husband off the deacon board. We had no idea our church leadership operated this way. It is heartbreaking. The poor associate pastor had to sell his house in a hurry (they lost money on it), move to another state to work with a family member so he can have insurance (and is hunting for a pastoral job) and his wife is looking for a job too while they live in an apartment. The rest of the church is clueless and thinks he truly retired. We are hurt, shocked, disgusted, and it breaks our heart. Besides praying, I honestly don’t know what else to do with all of this? Any advice for us?
- This topic was modified 5 days, 11 hours ago by Leigh.
April 19, 2017 at 9:15 PM #310892
- This topic was modified 5 days, 11 hours ago by Leigh.
Are you attending this church or did you leave this church? At the start of your post, you said you left, but as I read, it sounded like you were still there? What is your current church status?April 19, 2017 at 9:21 PM #310894
Doug Graham (Team Member)Participant
How are you praying?
Are you wanting to find a new church?
Have you talked to the pastor about all of this?
What do you think the Lord is wanting to do in your heart and your husband’s heart as a result of this situation?
I’ll be praying for you!
Growing and helping others grow in the Gospel.April 20, 2017 at 8:27 AM #310906
You have probably read/listened to this article, but if not, please do, as it walks you through some of the signs of spiritual abuse from a pastor http://rickthomas.net/a-few-signs-of-spiritual-abuse-from-a-pastor/April 20, 2017 at 11:01 AM #310914
Hey Rick and Doug,
We had gone to our pastor 3 times to share our concerns. Nothing was done about this. The plans continued with the “retirement” and their 2% raises (and the youth pastor got a 10 thousand dollar raise on top of that for assuming this new role). We had to initiate every follow up with our pastor. My kids had removed themselves from youth (due to ungodly things happening there) and it was extremely painful for them to see the changes happening in the church. In our final meeting, we addressed things again that were breaking our heart, removed ourselves off all committees, and told him we were leaving the church. He said he hated to hear that, but again no changes. (God had also given me a warning dream about our pastor and the church and I shared that with him too.) We have left the church, but apparently, we are still on the church e-mail list. An e-mail sent out last week announced the youth pastor taking over everything and it was written as though the pastor was so grateful that he had stepped up to assume this role since our Assoc. Pastor retired. It hurt my heart reading this because I know their plan has been in place for months and the church is clueless and deceived. This has been such an incredibly painful experience for our family. My spirit is still grieving the deception and manipulation. All I know to do is pray for Holy conviction over those involved in this manipulative scheme. I pray that the web of deceit is exposed and I find comfort in knowing that nothing is hidden before God. I pray for healing over the Assoc. pastor/his wife, my family, and against this attack stopping us from doing what God has called us to do in ministry. We have started visiting a church and slowly my kids are opening back up. They are starting to read their Bibles daily again and sincerely worship without pain and distraction. It is refreshing to see because of the pain over all these months that has been endured. Our middle child made a statement that broke my heart a few months ago, she said, “Mom, this has to be what a divorce feels like.” She cried for hours grieving the loss of her church and the pastor she trusted. We have learned lots on forgiveness and that it is a process, but for what Jesus has forgiven us for, how dare we not forgive. So, at this time, all I know to do is keep warring in prayer for my former church. There are such good people there and it is heartbreaking that they are clueless. This is all I know to do at this time. If you have any advice, please let me know. Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it.April 20, 2017 at 12:11 PM #310917
Thank you. That is helpful. I think you all made the right decision to leave the church. It is a conscience issue:
1. If you can stay and not sin in response to what is going on, it would be okay to stay.
2. If you found yourself sinning each time you walked in the door on Sunday, you must either “be okay” with what is going on or leave.
3. If you can’t “be okay” with what is going on and it’s tearing you apart on the inside, you must leave.
In light of what is going on, you could not “change your conscience” to be okay with it. Thus, you had no choice but to leave. That is the right thing to do.
Your daughter is right: it’s like a divorce (or death). What that means is you are supposed to grieve, which you all are doing. You love your church, and you had to leave your church. Now you grieve.
The grieving and hurt process could take up to two years. It’s not something you can easily “shake off” and move on. Your souls will be heavy for a while. And there will be reminders all along the way that may stir up those past hurts. Be prepared for this so you can be ready to mortify those thoughts.
Please read my spiritual abuse article linked above.
I recommend you all talk through, if you have not, how you’re going to respond to those who ask why you left. You want to be careful not to gossip or slander. You don’t want to create problems in addition to what is going on. Praying for the church, as you are doing, and letting folks know that the Lord has led you elsewhere are good responses. Also, if a person has a problem with the leadership, appeal to them to talk to the leadership. If they have and are in a similar place as you, they are welcome to come here or find a third party they can talk to about it all. (It may not be wise or redemptive to your souls if you are the ones leading folks through similar problems with that church.)
It would be good for you all not to become “ministry involved” at your new church at this time. Sitting for a year would be great for your souls. Jumping in too soon and serving is not the primary thing your family needs, as you have discerned with the hurt that has happened to your children.
Also, how you talk about your former church with the kids is important. Make sure your speech is seasoned with grace, so they are not tempted to be critical. The mitigating of temptation is where a high view of the doctrines of sin and human depravity are helpful. There are fallen people at all levels of church life, including the pastorate. Being critical in a negative, sinful way is not useful; it will hinder healing.
In too many ministries there are “levels of secret handshakes” that go on where unChristian things are done and accepted, and it gets worse as you “move up the chain.” This kind of sinning is unfortunate, but it does happen.
I anticipate the Lord will do many good things for you and your family as you “flip the narrative” from something bad to something beautiful. Our ministry here primarly exists and flourishes because God flipped the things meant for evil into things that are good.
God gave you a “blessing” through His most feared gift, which is suffering. You’re already stewarding that gift well as you’re learning from and leaning on God.April 21, 2017 at 12:24 PM #311007
Thank you again for taking the time to respond. We did not say anything to anyone that we were leaving. We have had a few people reach out to us and that is the biggest thing is addressing why we left without hurting their relationship, but also not being untruthful and acting like everything is wonderful. We went from being involved in everything to simply gone. We of course haven’t heard from the pastor or any other staff members and I feel confident we won’t. The Assoc. Pastor’s wife when they were leaving made a comment to me that she knew we were about to leave. I looked at her wanting to know how she knew that and she said because they talk about y’all in staff meetings and then quickly retreated and said she has no idea what they talk about and she had said too much. This broke my heart too. It is just a very unhealthy and deceptive leadership team there now. Again, thank you for responding. Your words helped me so much. It is still a process, but I’m grateful for the new church we’ve started attending. They are extremely transparent with finances, beliefs, etc., and that has been wonderful.
May God bless your ministry and thank you again for taking the time to listen and respond. Many Blessings!April 21, 2017 at 3:26 PM #311030
You’re welcome, Leigh.
A number of years ago, I was part of Sovereign Grace Ministries. The further “up the chain” I went, the more bad stuff I saw. I was a pastor. It got to where my conscience was getting “pinged” every Sunday I walked into the church building. I could not change my conscience to accept some of the things I knew were happening, (it was right not to change my conscience), but I was sinning a lot. I had no choice but to leave. It was the right thing to do. I was so angry–righteously and sinfully.
After we left, for the next two summers I would cut our grass with headphones on, listening to different things. With the lawn mower going and the music in my ears, it created “white noise” in a way, which left me mulling over all that went on in that ministry.
I would come in an hour or so later from cutting the grass and be so angry. It was so bad that Lucia was thinking about hiring a lawn guy; 😉 it was not good for me to keep mulling it over. Finally, after about two summers of doing that, I was okay.
It’s all good now.
Ironically, after I stepped away from the pastorate, I started this ministry. That was July 3, 2008. One of the best decision I’ve ever made, to God be the glory.April 23, 2017 at 11:23 PM #311208
Thank you so much for sharing this with me. God had given me a warning dream regarding the situation. In the dream there were two wooden canoes filled with church members. My pastor was in the first wooden canoe in the front leading the church members in very dark, dirty, and murky water. There were no paddles in the canoes and my pastor was just sitting there letting this nasty water take them wherever it was going. I was standing on a dock watching them and I was holding a very large wooden boat oar. There were church members on the dock with me who were sitting on the dock with their feet in this nasty water and they were laughing and oblivious to what was happening. As I was watching the boats the first boat starts tipping forward and my pastor and several church members go under the water. Then 2 alligators surface. I take the long wooden boat oar and start beating the alligators in the head, then my pastor and the church members surface in the water. I start yelling to them to swim back to safety and I’m holding the boat oar out to try and save them and I woke up. I shared the dream with my pastor at our last meeting and gave him the interpretation. He said that on the corner of his desk, which I’ve never been in his office before, is a wooden canoe that has one wooden boat oar that a missionary gave him one time. As soon as he told me this, I knew God was trying to get his attention by this, but unfortunately with the e-mail that just came out last week, he has not heeded God’s warning. This breaks my heart.
All I can do is pray for the church, the members, for godly conviction for the leadership, and for healing over my family and the others that have been hurt through the manipulation there. Thank you again for answering and thank you for sharing your story with me. God always promises to use what satan meant for harm for good things. I’m so thankful you are reaching out to those who have been hurt by leadership in the church. It is definitely one of the most painful things my family has experienced, but I know God will restore and He is our refuge. Many blessings!! Thank you again.April 24, 2017 at 9:14 AM #311243
Doug Graham (Team Member)Participant
Thanks for sharing that Leigh!
It sounds like the Lord is helping you and using this situation to grow your faith!
It should bother us when church leaders sin, or ignore sin, or when they do things that are self-centered. I think its important that we don’t allow their actions to cause us to harden our conscience. Sin breaks our heart, but it doesn’t have to harden it.
It’s also tough when we feel like we can’t do much about a problem or about people in authority. It’s hard for us to see how God can use a bad situation for His purpose and glory. I pray somehow God will use this to grow you and your family, and God will be glorified through this situation.
It’s also hard to say goodbye to friends and a church you have loved for so long. I think over time as we apply the Gospel to our lives, Christ helps us to mature through heart-breaking situations and relationships. The Gospel is our hope! The Gospel helps us to move forward in faith.
Situations like this can also help us be redemptive in our relationships. I know my family and I often talk about how Jesus helps us to forgive, how to pray for people who hurt us, and how to respond to situations out of our control.
I’m glad this forum has been a blessing to you. Thanks again for sharing. May the Lord bless you and your family. Doug
Growing and helping others grow in the Gospel.April 24, 2017 at 9:14 AM #311244
You’re welcome, Leigh.
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