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What is this website?
Welcome. We hope, if you choose to meander about within the pages of this website, that you find enough tantalizing information to corral your curiosity, and yet enough disruptive details to enliven your passion to help pursue redemption to all the brokenness.

Sometimes Church hurtsThis website is a compendium of stories of and about people forced into exhile by the leadership of religious institutions; not to be confused with the appropriate discipline of some for unapologetic abuses. There is a difference, and it is often difficult to determine. This is a place to discuss, expose, address and seek redemption for the silent sickness of forced terminations and forced excommunications being inappropriately instituted as a result of the unacknowledged relational failure and abuse of religious leadership. It is a place to read stories and tell stories; to be angry and to weep; to question and search for understanding; to repent and seek restoration; to do whatever is necessary to help usher some hope and healing into the lives of so many affected by an epidemic that seems to be as elusive as the people perpetuating it.

Why it’s important
We have a problem (refer to the report page for more information). It’s a big one. Even worse, it’s a secret; and it seems no one is supposed to talk about it. Unfortunately, abuse is often woven into the fabric of this problem, which is one of the primary reasons why so few will risk even entering the conversation. But instead of talking about “it”, we perpetuate “it”, and thus the epidemic grows. We hope to shed some light on the darkness of an issue affecting literally millions of people every year. It’s important to talk about the uncomfortable, the risky, the shameful; and then the hope, help and healing that is available for all who will attempt to seek it.

BROWSE

Please, take a look around by viewing our most recent blog posts (CLICK HERE). Join the conversation. Have a story? Leave a story. Need a story? Take a story. There’s a lot of quality food on the table of this issue. We can think of very little as valuable as the ongoing conversations of those willing to sit around and feast on the savory taste of redemption in the making. Help us keep the decay of this issue from taking away the joy of eating together. The table is big enough for anyone who wants to make a better meal.

Responses

  1. It’s been 2 years now. The hurt is not less- it’s deeper. The church family we had bonded with is no longer, and wanted no longer.
    The minister used his pervasive methods to convince others that those in doubt or concerned were part of a witch hunt, further causing harm by the mere act of denial. After all, who would doubt a “man of the cloth”? This minister appeared to learn nothing from the anguish of the congregation, but has instilled in so many a hurt so deep they avoid participating in any faith community. How this leader continues in his position, without sanction, consequence, conscience or correction is only God’s mystery.

  2. EC,

    Thank you so much for posting. For so many, saying anything about their experience with this epidemic is often like tugging at the stitches of a wound that refuses to heal completely. And yet to not speak seems to somehow leave the wound more susceptible to infection. Thanks for choosing the sting of speaking over the slow inevitable decay of denial. Today I find myself angry on your behalf, and deeply saddened by your loss, as well as so many other’s from your community. If there is anything I/we can do to try and encourage you or others you know on this journey, please get in touch. I can be reached at botolff@gmail.com.

  3. Thanks for fostering conversation and communication for those who’ve been burned by the church.

  4. Don’t know where to start. Retired on disability, I’m a single, middle-aged woman. Semi-large church (1500). 1st they took prayer request for pain relief off because they said there were too many, should be on Sunday school lists. They Sunday school took it off, they said it was a “chronic request” – there should only be requests that were changing. Then my Bible study said I had too many prayer requests (I had maybe 3 and we met once a month) and people were too busy to hear them. So, since the Bible study was formed from the Sunday school, I switched Sunday schools (which I was invited to when an acquaintance heard how I was treated). On the second meeting of Sunday school, w/ no prayer rqsts, I asked and was told, “This Sunday school is just for teaching – we don’t have prayer requests.” I emailed a different Bible study that supposedly had openings – no response (2 wks ago). My friends at other churches like me, I don’t have the energy to drive far away, my pastor has even asked me to witness on how to deal w/ chronic suffering. What is WRONG w/ these people? We study the Bible to learn how to LOVE. I count my suffering as joy, so I can care for others who suffer, volunteer at a nursing home & hospice. I don’t understand how these people are Christians and seem to be totally heartless…

  5. I am wondering if others believe i excommunicating a member who is stirring up strife and trouble in a church. We have just recently left a church because one person has viciously attacked several of us in the church, has a horrible reputation in our small town, and the pastor and the ceacons just feel like we need to keep forgiving her. I have gone to the pastor in times past airing griviances against this woman and now wonder why. The deacons say it is not their problem, but what is the duty of the deacons if not to try to settle unrest in the church.. I would appreciate any comments.

  6. It’s not the deacons’ problem, but it IS the Elders’ problem, it IS the pastor’s or pastors’ problem. It’s part of the unpleasant part of being in leadership which is being avoided in many churches and it’s unbiblical. It’s hard, but the church is supposed to do it. I am so sorry for you. This, I think, is why some churches are unhealthy, why some people leave churches, hopefully don’t leave THE church I remind myself, people fail us, our God does not fail. I grieve for you. Left my hurts here, at least wasn’t emailed that anyone replied and I am NOT going to have that happen to you! In this time of Christ’s sacrifice I want you to know that someone “with skin on” cares.

  7. Cowardly leadership often tries to appease their own fears with “forgiveness”, and expect others to appease the leader’s fears by doing the same.

    I interned in the youth department of a church whose entire leadership caved in the face of some menacing elderly bullies. Their commitment was to their false hope that somehow abusive people would some day quit being abusive without ever truly being confronted and dealt with. Actually, they just started firing good people and hushing the rest hoping the ones abusing them would stop abusing them if they just gave them “another chance.” They sacrificed the health and wellbeing of all their congregants, including the children because they were too afraid to stand up to the abusers.

    If we want the abuse to stop, sometimes we have to be willing to risk having our own “blood shed” a little to see it through. Otherwise, we’ll just sacrifice the rest to keep from getting hurt ourselves.

  8. I am a staff member who faced a long difficult challenge at a Southern Baptist Church. It was a long fight where the pastor threatened me continually.

    As a beat up minister, I want to share this little story…

    There once was a minister who was building a big house for God.
    While he was building, he would beat up the staff, their families. Mostly because he was insecure. He and his wife wanted to be the “main” thing. They tried to hang out with the “wealthy” families.

    So to make himself feel better, he made all the other ministers feel badly about themselves, telling them they were “too old” “thought small” and always found some way to put them down. He attacked their families, to their face, their wives.

    He was like the three bears and goldilocks… one minister was “too old,” one was “too sympathetic to church members”, and “one was too popular”. So instead of being a kind goldilocks, he decided to act like the Big Bad Wolf. He posed like the “kind granny” when other staff came to him trying to please him, but instead, he attacked them like the wolf.

    Even though the other ministers were gobbled up by the wolf, the rest of the church just watched. They didn’t care, it didn’t affect their families o their businesses. They had forgotten that the minister’s had stopped their lives to provide funeral services, attend birthday parties, and special occasions in the past for their families.

    The mean wolf minister and his wife… did well in middle class scenes, but when they were with second and third generation money, then they sat in the corner at social gatherings. They were really good at bullying and chewing up people.. when they felt dominant…

    If anyone came to their church with status or wealth, they would immediately be nice and schmoozy, but if you had few resources or disagreed with them, then they would isolate you from leadership and then send you nasty letters at home. Slowly slowly, he urged them to speak his name with reverence instead of God’s.

    Everyone in the church body knew they treated people this way, but they still kept him as a minister, then, let him beat up staff, church members and hurt people.

    There was so much unacknowledged pain. People would leave, some people would just stay. Everyone that left, left hurt. Hurt because the music minister was hurtful, hurt because the Pastor did not come to their funeral or acknowledge a death. Hurt because their wife laughed with her friends about the churches counseling problem with her friends.

    He was so determined to create the modern church model he wanted, but it was a mere duplication of another thriving church in town. Chew… gobble…chew on people that got in his way….

    All he knew was to build buildings, he forgot how to build people. He didn’t even try to visit people in the hospital. Their pain, sickness, death and illness went unacknowledged, unless he felt that he was being catered to..and he and his wife had the captive hearts of the scene.

    It left the other staff members always trampled on…always hurt. He told them they did not tithe enough. He threatened to call in church loans that were given in good faith from the deacon body…. he threatened their jobs.

    All while standing in the pulpit every Sunday and preaching on forgiveness. New people would find hope, then come and go. The church was a revolving door.

    However, as long as they were baptizing people and creating an appearance of growth and Godliness, then it seemed thriving and growing, perception soon became the reality everyone believed the church was healthy. They worshipped the minister…and felt at peace. He preached light sermons that made them feel good, and they thought they had learned about God.

    When people asked… don’t you want to have an input, aren’t you upset that the other staff members are being hurt. Noone seemed to care…

    To intimidate his staff members and secretaries… he picked on their families.

    If they took a new job, he would call and make trouble for them…

    if they didn’t tithe enough…he would threaten their jobs..

    His mode of survival for him to retire at that church… was to intimidate. Create fear and loyalty to him..

    What the staff member who served at this church to do.. it is so painful even after so many years.

  9. I am about to read every page of your website and find it so healing, thank you creating this website.

    I look forward to what you have to say.. and how you can help me heal or feel acknowledged!

  10. This is my first time ever sharing this, but I believe I have to because I have never spoken of this in detail to anyone. It hurts bad guys, it really does.

    My wife and I started attending this Church 4 years ago. It was a relatively young Church at the time with a lot of young adults between Ages 21-32.
    My wife encouraged me to serve in the choir and on my first day of attending rehearsals, the music director and the other choir members were so moved by my gift, I was encouraged to lead worship on my first day. I quickly climbed the ranks in the choir due to this gift, that it became almost instantly evident that I was being fast tracked to a ministerial or pastoral role in the Church. I have always known God’s hand was on my life, and I knew this from Age 3 when my Parents told me I had an encounter with an Angel. They almost recited this story to me verbatim when I got older and told me this Angel had spoken to me at a very young age and said he would be with me all my life. I knew this, and have always had an uncanny sense for divine revelation, prophetic word, and spiritual insight. I would have sick people say they were healed when I lead worship. This was not uncommon.

    Anyways, within a span of months I became the lead minister in the choir and with that I believe came envy from some of my peers. My wife and I didn’t really notice this at first, but I gradually observed that some of the people I had made friends with didn’t really like me or my family. I would hear rumors about specific individuals saying spiteful things about my wife and I to people.

    My wife was deeply scarred by some of the things said because these came from folks she considered her friends. I once gave out a car to one of the church members free of charge.. I helped pay the ambulance fee for one of the members whose son collapsed at the Church one day. I never told anyone about these things. These same people were part of a caucus within the Church who played an active role in propagating flat out lies about my family.

    People would all of a sudden start “acting funny” towards us, not invite us to their family events, report us to the Pastor for seemingly flimsy reasons, etc. I was constantly getting called to the Pastor’s office for debriefs on very flimsy events that were so exaggerated, I almost couldn’t recall the events by the time they were recited to me.

    Perhaps, what hurt us the most was the attitude, politics and manipulation of the church leadership. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, we confided in one of our “best friends” who was also a minister in the church, that we were going to take a break from the Church for a few weeks because we had a baby coming soon and didn’t have any help (we are immigrants with no family living in the USA). During this period I had several dreams (the Lord has always spoken to me through revelations and dreams), that I was going to have a major falling out with the Pastor in a very short time.

    This “friend” of ours went and told the Pastor about our plans, who in turn called me to his house to have a “discussion” on my “waning commitment” to the Ministry. I was shocked when I heard the Pastor question my commitment to God to my face. I love the Lord. I absolutely love to serve God and have done so all my life. I was having my first child, my wife and I had no family support, we were a young couple in a foreign country with no help, and all the Pastor cared about was that the Church needed me to lead the choir at the Church’s anniversary which was barely 2 weeks away from my wife’s delivery date.

    A few days after having this dream, the Pastor scolded me and my wife about our “commitment” to God. My wife and I had tried to have a child for quite some time, and were unsuccessful, so our prayer request was pretty well known to the Pastor and members of the Church leadership. The Pastor used this against us by telling us that God had finally blessed us with a pregnancy and we were repaying him by reducing our commitment to service. My wife was so bitter with this, she shut down emotionally. At the end of this conversation, my wife sang in the choir up until the Sunday before she went into labor. She even got maternity leave from her job, yet the Church was intent on keeping us serving.

    Meanwhile this “friend” who reported us to the Pastor soon got appointed a role as Assistant Pastor in the Church. I was the standing Pastoral Assistant at the time, so he essentially replaced me without ever having a conversation. I was very disappointed by the turn of events. I was never one to be concerned about positions and titles, but this one stung hard. It was almost like I got kicked to the curb after being as faithful to the ministry.

    We kept attending this Church hoping things would change. Another incident happened where this same “friend” who was now the Assistant Pastor of the Church deliberately obstructed one of my wife’s Business dealings with the Church (my wife was an aspiring interior designer). She had contacted the Pastor about doing the interior design for the new Church bldg pro-bono to help build her portfolio. The Pastor agreed and thought it was a great idea. Shortly after, this “friend” after playing politics with the Pastor, decided to literarily rip the project off my wife’s hands and appoint other people to lead the project. He was caught red handed as one of the people who he appointed was aware of my wife being in charge of the project and immediately informed her; When confronted, he denied this, and even the Pastor who knew of this began to cover for him. Again, I chose to ignore this and forgive. At this point my wife was livid and began to gradually disengage from this ministry.

    It took me a while before the scales dropped from my eyes. I had several incidents that eventually lead to my leaving this ministry, but the straw that broke me came just this year. An attendance committee was setup by the Pastor to help “improve” attendance from members of the choir. While being the only minister and the leader of the choir, I was left off this “committee.” Curiously this “friend” who was now the Assistant Pastor was appointed head of the “attendance committee” while not even being a member of the choir. This “committee” set up a very stringent attendance policy that demanded over 90% attendance to all rehearsals and services for every 10 week period. Within a span of 3 months, despite having near perfect attendance, I was placed on ministerial probation and was instructed to maintain 90% attendance over a course of 10 weeks otherwise I would be expelled from the choir. My attendance was 89% due to some trumped up “tardies” they believed I accrued (I didn’t have a single absence). This “committee” lead by this “Assistant Pastor” followed the rules to the letter of the law and placed me (one of the most faithful members and leader of the choir) on probation.

    I saw this and thought I’d had enough. I decided it was time to leave. Fortunately, the lord had been speaking to me concerning going into missions work, and serving in the front lines of ministry. I soon realized that the things were happening were happening for a reason. This was God’s way of pushing me into his true purpose for my life. My wife was no longer happy, I was no longer happy. Serving here had become a burden and not a thing of joy anymore. I had nothing more to give. The Pastor, the leadership, the ministers, had seemed to turn on my family. I have a whole lot more to say; however we cut the long story short and left the Church.

    The Pastor decided it would be best to have a talk with this “Assistant Pastor” or “friend” of mine to iron out any differences we had. During this meeting, I realized he had convinced the Pastor on a number of slanderous lies about me and my wife. It became too bitter for me at this point. I chose to leave things as they were and allow God be the Judge. This is the hurt that remains. I have forgiven this man, but my hearts still hurts, so does my wife’s. I would not wish this on anyone.

  11. The huge contrast between our expectations and the cold, dead reality of Christ’s body on earth shocks our system. Unless you fit in with young marrieds, young people, older couples, etc., you’re on your own. It’s a sad day when you have to turn to UNBELIEVERS for the love and support you need. http://www.scribd.com/doc/172480075/Christ-Cares-for-Discarded-Saints-And-Wounded-Believers

  12. The pastor in the church I’ve attended most recently has a pattern of publicly humiliating church members who do not fit into his idea of performance and/or appearance standards. I’m not talking about people sinning and not repenting. I’m talking about differing styles of worship (the main thing).
    I’m also not talking about flaky members who are high maintenance or troublemakers. I’m talking about members with brains who can think for themselves and may not be robots in the hands of the church leadership.
    Once they conceive that a member has the guts to meet with them and ask questions, (always in a respectful manner), they mark that person and make sure word gets around to watch out for this one or that one. I know because I became one of “those people”. I went to the Pastor to question him concerning a matter he purposely shamed me about in front of an entire church filled with people. He denies he ever did it. By the way, he always was “too busy” to meet with me. Once he sent his wife, who is actually the senior pastor even over him, and another time he only conversed with me through email. He refuses to meet face to face, even though the bible says this is how to confront someone, or answer an accusation. He knows he did what I said he did, but is aware that he may not be able to hide it with a personal meeting. The thing is, I beleive God allowed this to happen because he is trying to reach this man with a word of warning. I had heard little things here and there over the years about this church, but really hoped by now it had changed. I went with no preconceived ideas about the condition of the church, and really wanted to fellowship and serve there. I was blindsided in that church service and still wondering what I did to get on his bad side.
    Apparently if he just does not like you, whether he knows you or not, he will say whatever he has to to get you to conform or to leave. Last week I went and felt like an outcast. People avoided me and seemed to be privy to some secret that I did not know. I felt the spirit of rejection, except for one kindly usher who went out of his way to be nice to me. I wonder how many people have left quietly, some to go on to other churches, and others to never return to any church ever. It’s really sad. This seems to be more common than many churchgoers would dream. And to anyone who thinks this is the imagination of people who “claim” to be hurt by leadership in churches; maybe you are in a great church with a truly loving leader. God bless you and may your days in that church be many. But consider this: just because someone grows up in a loving home with plenty of affection and guidance, no one denies that is not the case unfortunately in many homes where children receive no love or guidance and may be daily abused in some form or fashion.
    Would you say that because you did not experience the abuse in your home that it does not happen in anyone elses home? Remember the same scenerio happens in churches every week or more often. Pray for the ones who have been hurt this way…it’s very painful to be the victim of someone in authority who is supposed to love you but doesn’t.


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