Saturday, September 13, 2008


We heard of recent egregious statements made from the pulpit by our former pastor, which is actually now a very common occurrence. One of his favorite control tactics has always been that of name calling, which is defined as "an attempt to discredit an opponent by labeling or describing him with words that have unfavorable connotations; verbal abuse; a crude substitute for argument." It is a very childish trait that apparently some never outgrow.

There is a certain young man who had been attending this church for his entire life. He was as involved as any young person could b
e, from childhood into his young adult life. He participated in many areas of ministry, including music, video, youth, and hospitality, and he also went on several mission trips. He was friendly, pleasant, enjoyable to be around, and very talented. Despite the fact that he was very committed to this church, he fell into disfavor with the youth leadership because he realized the corruption that was there and was vocal about it. Those in authority made sure that his life became a living nightmare. This left him angry and bitter, and disillusioned about church, particularly about this one. He left the church and was working on recovering from his experiences.

Then one day, about 6 months ago, the former pastor's daughter and daughter-in-law came into the place where he worked, knowing that he worked there and that they might see him. He tried to avoid them at first, but was then overcome with emotion. He walked up to them and asked, "Are y'all still ruining lives at that church like you ruined mine?" They, of course, had no idea what to say, probably because they knew it was true, but instead became very upset. A few minutes later the pastor's son-in-law made a phone call to this young man's manager in an (unsuccessful) attempt to get him fired.

This story was recounted by the former pastor in a service last week. Apparently the words of this young person had been running through his head for the past few months. We find that to be amusing. When he told the story, he referred to this young man as a "punk." Remember that name calling is a crude substitute for argument. His response to the statement that the church had "ruined lives" was that he had done everything right over the past year and did not regret any of his decisions. There are many who beg to differ with that statement. It is quite the opposite. He has made many mistakes and missteps, and it goes much farther back than just the past year. There are scores of people, both young and old alike who have been adversely affected by this church and this pastor.

Here are a few quotes made by young people who attended our former church:

"I was told I attended THE best church in the WORLD over and over. You start to build a complex after hearing this repeatedly, (brainwashing tactic, anyone?). I remember thinking "wow how did I luck out to be in the BEST church in the WORLD." Oh, but wait "luck" is bad, so I mean how did I get so blessed. I had to always watch my “confession”, because if I say I'm sick of something or that drives me crazy then I better watch out I may get sick or go crazy!! Why were we not allowed to say we were sick if we were?! Isn’t that lying? I never had a headache go away, because I told everyone I didn’t have a headache when I did. Why could we not admit the truth?! You know sometimes life has hard moments. We learn that way and we grow stronger. Everyone always pretended that things were ok, because if something was wrong then you must not be that great of a Christian. There was also a great emphasis on money and having nice things. If you don’t you must not be following the will of God. Can you imagine what all of this does to a child’s head?"

" THANK YOU. I was there and you hit it right on the head. everything you say is true I still have some of that hurt but, I'm so much better now and on fire for God. and I dance and sing for him as Gil said I’m free at last!!! Thank God I’m free at last!! thank you so much for this."

" you remember when they used to publish in the church bulletin who you should vote for in elections? That is sooo crazy. And I didn't think twice about it at at the time. It took years and years before I realized that all Democrats were not automatically sent to hell."

"I am so glad someone finally spoke up about all that goes on at ______! When i was young i used to love to ride to church w/ my aunt and uncle..I loved all the friends I made in youth, I came alot back then. I have always lived a hour away and as i got older it seemed harder to get there as i played sports and such..but my mom and i would try to come as often as we could. The last service i went to I left before it even began when i realized that some people really did look down upon me. It made me angry and hurt all at the same time, I thought do they think i am not good enough to talk to their kids that were my friends? Or could it have been that i was not worthy b/c i could not come all the time..or we didn’t come as a family b/c my dad had to work all the time."

"I grew up going to this church. I thought everything was fine until I was old enough to go to youth. I thought I had friends, but I realized that wasn't true because every Wednesday night I had to sit alone. I hated going to church and I dreaded every Wednesday night. You would think that since I had been going to that church my entire life people my age would come sit with me or talk to me. It seemed that I did not fit the “mold” by the Youth Pastor's elite group of followers."

"I was one that grew up in the cult church, I know exactly what you mean. There are so many kids that grew up in that environment and question is there really a God and Church just basically SUCKS.. I just wish that they realize there is a God and that the man in the pulpit wasn't him. Guilt is not from God, Guilt is from the Devil. And the man in the pulpit always put Guilt on you. ok I could go on and on. Thanks for your blog."

"At our former church you always heard that the pastor was the 'holy one' and because he was anointed by God he needed to be held higher than everyone else. I'm sorry but that is a bunch of crap! The same Jesus that lives on the inside of him lives on the inside of me and God has anointed ME to pray for the sick, anointed ME to minister, and anointed ME to do his will!! I can do what God tells me to do! I don't have to wait on a pastor to do those things for me! ...I was sick and tired of feeling inferior and feeling like I couldn’t do anything without the approval of the pastor’s family. No one in that family is better than anyone else!!"

"I grew up in this church we speak of, Gave 16 years of my life, of my time. My wife and I put our lives into the youth group for years. This church was all I knew. It’s where my family was as well as my friends. People I considered to be my best friends. People who loved and still love. People who I would drop whatever I was doing and help, as they needed it. I still feel that way today. When it was announced that my wife and I were leaving, it seemed to have shocked a lot of people. I explained that we were not leaving town just the church. We would still be here to hang out and fellowship. Never heard from any of them. Your kids are the only friends from that season in our lives that we really have a relationship, and we love them dearly.
We would run into people at Target or Walmart and go up to greet them. Most times they would keep it short and SELL me the reason why they are still at the church, (I would say that is a red flag) you shouldn’t have to sell others the reason you go to a church if you believe you are called there. Other times they would duck around the corner in hopes we didn’t see them, we are still brothers and sisters. Ever since going to the church, it seemed to always be about the man of god and honor the man of god. The leadership always saying “you are her to help me, to help the pastor, to help Brother ___, to help God. That’s to many middlemen. Praise god I can fellowship directly with God, I don’t have to go thru a bunch of people to get to him. Once we left we would here others say the leadership say if you leave this church, bad things will happen, your marriage will fall apart, you’ll have financial problems, or you’ll die. Since I have left there my marriage is the strongest it has ever been, I’m doing the best financially, and I’m still kickin’..."

"I could NOT have said it better myself. Everything you said is exactly what I have thought and struggled with for a very long time. I still struggle with whether or not I believe certain things and am still trying to sort through some things. It's scary and liberating at the same time to finally decide, "hey, I don't think that's quite right" and then decide for yourself how you feel about something."

"You said it very well. It always was confusing why it was wrong to ask 'why' or what was wrong with visiting another church, huh? Just made me wonder more... It was nice to move away just to clear my head and see the truth without getting caught up in the mess."

"All I have to say is thank you so much for what you are doing".

"I remember being sick and going up front to get 'healed'. I arrived at the illustrious and newly carpeted pulpit area, only to have the pastor say 'are those your sisters earrings?' and then walk past me without another word."

"People need to hear the truth. My family was hurt so badly by that church, I didn't ever think we would be the same again. I'm so happy to say that since we left 6 years ago, things have NEVER been better. I am glad we got out of the church before all this mess started. I know that it had to be a God thing. God always has perfect timing.""...I think it's valuable to many who have been hurt to express that hurt, be it here, or privately elsewhere. I went through a period of years and years away from God because of some of the things that went on. I thought that if the Lord is issuing these statements through this man, then this is not any God I want to serve. But I found out Gods love extends beyond the 4 walls of a church, and found myself in my basement with a guitar alone worshiping and crying my eyes out because I could feel the presence of God, which was something that I had always just faked at ___. When everyone is flopping around on the floor laughing, I would do it too, because if you don't, you're not a Christian right? or something is wrong with you, right?"

"I started going to ___ in the early '90's and I was sucked in at a young age and just wish I could have seen the light long ago. I did leave a few times and was accused of being a church hopper because I couldn't stay committed to the "former church" way! I always knew deep down that something just wasn't right. I knew that my Jesus would not have been so critical and judgmental. It took me having my own children to realize that I did NOT want them to grow up believing that money somehow made them more important than other people. We were always taught to give so we could get...that is NOT what I want my children to learn. I want them to know that it is more about winning souls for Christ and accepting everyone (whether they look and act the way we think they should or not). Isn't that what Jesus did? Hello!!!!
All I can say is "Thank GOD" we have been set free and we can now truly grow in God's love. I will never forget going into the former pastor’s office in a very low point in my life and him looking at me saying, "You know the Word, there's nothing I can say to you! What a pastor....NOT. He was NEVER my pastor because I wasn't one of the "fat cats" as he so inappropriately called people from the pulpit!! What is wrong with this man!! And what is wrong with a church when the visitors, pregnant mothers and elderly people have to walk in the rain, across the parking lot when "the pastor's family" parks up front and treated like royalty!!! Sickening....disgusting...too bad that what he taught for so many years is finally happening to HIM and his family....they are reaping what they have sown. None of us are perfect and I just pray that the people still under the spell and drinking the kool-aid will soon 'see the light' and get the heck out ~ get out soon."

Sounds like a few other young people had issues to deal with because of this church and its leadership.

Matthew 18:2-7 says:
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.

"But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.

It is so tempting to call names in this situation. I could think of a few choice ones that are very fitting and appropriate. The difference here is that I do not need a substitute for argument. And I am a grown up.


He enjoyed being called a punk, by the way. Didn't bother him in the least. Sticks and stones.