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Author Topic: A few ideas for people who are questioning the health of their church  (Read 5041 times)
Cult Proof
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« on: July 18, 2018, 06:36:46 pm »

If you are here because you are wondering if your church is abusive I want to offer you a few ideas that might be helpful.  These things were helpful to me, but my story is my story and your story is your story. 

Take a break from talking to your current pastor and leaders (maybe even your friends), even for just two weeks.  If they aren't abusive and controlling they will respect your need for space.  Talk to people outside of GCC and get a new perspective of what is normal, healthy church behavior.  If you have friends and family outside of GCC talk to them AND I suggest choosing 3 or 4 area pastors and asking them if they will meet with you.  You do not need to say what church or pastors you are talking about or coming from.  A healthy pastor will respect your desire to not share who you are questioning.  Share your concerns, things you've noticed or experienced and ask if it is normal.  For example, I don't know one couple in my gcc church who got married without the pastors consent; that's not normal pastoral behavior, that's control.  Ask things like is it normal to hold meetings about people who have left your church. 

Ask yourself if you see the fruits of the spirit sincerely, regularly, and natural coming out of yourself, your pastor, and others around you.  Are people "working" on the fruits of the spirit, or is the Holy Spirit seen coming naturally out of people because He is living inside them?  This was mind blowing to me! 

Research words like: double bind, mind control the B.I.T.E. model, gas lighting, narcissistic abuse cycle (different from the normal abuse cycle and for me described my relationship with my pastor to a T). These are all forms of psychological abuse.  You can decide for yourself if you have experienced any of these.  Depending on your location and involvement with the inner working of your church experiences will vary.  You may realize that you didn't experience horrible abuse but your friends have.  Or you might conclude that your church is healthy and going well for you.  You might realize that you've been living under horrible oppression. Whatever you conclude for you please be respectful of others who have been abused.  Spiritual abuse is serious and people who do identify abuse in their life need to take their healing seriously.  If you identify forms of abuse in your life please consider professional counseling (and search for a counselor who has an understanding of spiritual abuse)

Websites to check out:
thriveafterabuse.com (words you need to know and cycle of a narcissistic relationship)
pastorlamb.com (gaslighting)
libertyforcaptives.com (an all around great resource!)

Books:
*Broken Trust by Remy Diederich
*Twisted Scripture by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
*Safe People by Cloud and Townsends
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson and Van Vonderen
Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy
Cult Proofing Your Kids by Paul Martin
Churches the Abuse by Enroth
*highly recommend
Martin and Enroth and Larry Pile have recanted their belief that GCC is abusive.  Personally I believe they were manipulated by GCC in a strong assertive effort to look out for their reputation; not because any sincere or meaningful changes have been made.  I also know the truth of my own experience.  And I believe the many painful and heart breaking stories I have listened to.  You get to decide for you what your experience has been.

If you decide you need to leave your GCC church I pray and hope for you to continue to seek your faith.  I also pray that you will give yourself the grace and space to heal. I pray that you will find that leaving your GCC church was a possible necessary and good step towards truly finding love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the spirit.  I trust that Jesus will meet you and carry you all the way to complete restored mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
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GodisFaithful
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2018, 07:33:04 pm »

Thank you, Cult Proof. I really appreciate your summary and helpful suggestions.

Coming to the realization that you are in a cultish, controlling, unhealthy church is painful, considering that leaving means leaving friends. And leaving an unhealthy church also means being dropped by "friends" in many cases. Also, it is painful to admit that you were duped. It takes time to see the dysfunction and start to experience the freedom of responding to the Lord versus trying to please a pastor.

Thank you for the list of books. I need to order the one on twisted Scriptures.
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Wrestling
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2018, 08:43:08 pm »

If you are here because you are wondering if your church is abusive I want to offer you a few ideas that might be helpful.  These things were helpful to me, but my story is my story and your story is your story. 

Take a break from talking to your current pastor and leaders (maybe even your friends), even for just two weeks.  If they aren't abusive and controlling they will respect your need for space.  Talk to people outside of GCC and get a new perspective of what is normal, healthy church behavior.  If you have friends and family outside of GCC talk to them AND I suggest choosing 3 or 4 area pastors and asking them if they will meet with you.  You do not need to say what church or pastors you are talking about or coming from.  A healthy pastor will respect your desire to not share who you are questioning.  Share your concerns, things you've noticed or experienced and ask if it is normal.  For example, I don't know one couple in my gcc church who got married without the pastors consent; that's not normal pastoral behavior, that's control.  Ask things like is it normal to hold meetings about people who have left your church. 

Ask yourself if you see the fruits of the spirit sincerely, regularly, and natural coming out of yourself, your pastor, and others around you.  Are people "working" on the fruits of the spirit, or is the Holy Spirit seen coming naturally out of people because He is living inside them?  This was mind blowing to me! 

Research words like: double bind, mind control the B.I.T.E. model, gas lighting, narcissistic abuse cycle (different from the normal abuse cycle and for me described my relationship with my pastor to a T). These are all forms of psychological abuse.  You can decide for yourself if you have experienced any of these.  Depending on your location and involvement with the inner working of your church experiences will vary.  You may realize that you didn't experience horrible abuse but your friends have.  Or you might conclude that your church is healthy and going well for you.  You might realize that you've been living under horrible oppression. Whatever you conclude for you please be respectful of others who have been abused.  Spiritual abuse is serious and people who do identify abuse in their life need to take their healing seriously.  If you identify forms of abuse in your life please consider professional counseling (and search for a counselor who has an understanding of spiritual abuse)

Websites to check out:
thriveafterabuse.com (words you need to know and cycle of a narcissistic relationship)
pastorlamb.com (gaslighting)
libertyforcaptives.com (an all around great resource!)

Books:
*Broken Trust by Remy Diederich
*Twisted Scripture by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
*Safe People by Cloud and Townsends
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson and Van Vonderen
Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy
Cult Proofing Your Kids by Paul Martin
Churches the Abuse by Enroth
*highly recommend
Martin and Enroth and Larry Pile have recanted their belief that GCC is abusive.  Personally I believe they were manipulated by GCC in a strong assertive effort to look out for their reputation; not because any sincere or meaningful changes have been made.  I also know the truth of my own experience.  And I believe the many painful and heart breaking stories I have listened to.  You get to decide for you what your experience has been.

If you decide you need to leave your GCC church I pray and hope for you to continue to seek your faith.  I also pray that you will give yourself the grace and space to heal. I pray that you will find that leaving your GCC church was a possible necessary and good step towards truly finding love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the spirit.  I trust that Jesus will meet you and carry you all the way to complete restored mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Thank you for this.
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Huldah
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2018, 09:48:36 pm »

Excellent post, Cult Proof. Thank you.
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OneOfMany
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 02:24:07 am »

Thank you for the references. I plan to look up the websites.
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Cult Proof
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 04:56:38 am »

I also found it extremely painful to lose relationships and very hard to process all that I had experienced.  AND God IS Faithful!  I was told by my gcc pastor and my gcc friends that if I left I would never be loved by anyone and I would never experience love.  That was a very controlling statement and an abusive one.  The truth is new, healthy relationships and trust take time to develop, but God saw me through that time and now I am overwhelmed by the love I am experiencing.  I highly recommend the book Safe People and counseling to help learn how to find safe people and how to develop healthy friendships. 

I also wanted to mention that Freedom of Mind has information on mind control, the BITE model.  Generally speaking people who have left the gcc church I attended identify 50-80% of these mind control techniques as part of their experience.  That is a very alarming.  If you think it is possible that mind control has been part of your experience it is critical that you find the courage to speak to people outside of gcc.  I spent several months attending three different churches and meeting with pastors from those churches and shared my experience with different people that I met.  It was extremely helpful to me to watch their facial expressions and to hear their responses.  It helped to expose so many lies and unhealthy thinking for me.  I needed a variety of people to expose the lies; their unrelated but shared response spoke to me.  I also needed to experience the larger body of Christ ministering to me.  I especially appreciated that all three of those churches knew I was attending all three and never pressured me to settle down into one.  I now enjoy the close community of one church but I needed that time and space to sort through the big picture of my experience.  Sharing your story (with SAFE people) will strengthen you.



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Linda
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 09:48:13 am »

Cult Proof,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this and share these VERY HELPFUL and ENCOURAGING tips.

 
If you are here because you are wondering if your church is abusive I want to offer you a few ideas that might be helpful.  These things were helpful to me, but my story is my story and your story is your story. 

Take a break from talking to your current pastor and leaders (maybe even your friends), even for just two weeks.  If they aren't abusive and controlling they will respect your need for space.  Talk to people outside of GCC and get a new perspective of what is normal, healthy church behavior.  If you have friends and family outside of GCC talk to them AND I suggest choosing 3 or 4 area pastors and asking them if they will meet with you.  You do not need to say what church or pastors you are talking about or coming from.  A healthy pastor will respect your desire to not share who you are questioning.  Share your concerns, things you've noticed or experienced and ask if it is normal.  For example, I don't know one couple in my gcc church who got married without the pastors consent; that's not normal pastoral behavior, that's control.  Ask things like is it normal to hold meetings about people who have left your church. 

Ask yourself if you see the fruits of the spirit sincerely, regularly, and natural coming out of yourself, your pastor, and others around you.  Are people "working" on the fruits of the spirit, or is the Holy Spirit seen coming naturally out of people because He is living inside them?  This was mind blowing to me! 

Research words like: double bind, mind control the B.I.T.E. model, gas lighting, narcissistic abuse cycle (different from the normal abuse cycle and for me described my relationship with my pastor to a T). These are all forms of psychological abuse.  You can decide for yourself if you have experienced any of these.  Depending on your location and involvement with the inner working of your church experiences will vary.  You may realize that you didn't experience horrible abuse but your friends have.  Or you might conclude that your church is healthy and going well for you.  You might realize that you've been living under horrible oppression. Whatever you conclude for you please be respectful of others who have been abused.  Spiritual abuse is serious and people who do identify abuse in their life need to take their healing seriously.  If you identify forms of abuse in your life please consider professional counseling (and search for a counselor who has an understanding of spiritual abuse)

Websites to check out:
thriveafterabuse.com (words you need to know and cycle of a narcissistic relationship)
pastorlamb.com (gaslighting)
libertyforcaptives.com (an all around great resource!)

Books:
*Broken Trust by Remy Diederich
*Twisted Scripture by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
*Safe People by Cloud and Townsends
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson and Van Vonderen
Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy
Cult Proofing Your Kids by Paul Martin
Churches the Abuse by Enroth
*highly recommend
Martin and Enroth and Larry Pile have recanted their belief that GCC is abusive.  Personally I believe they were manipulated by GCC in a strong assertive effort to look out for their reputation; not because any sincere or meaningful changes have been made.  I also know the truth of my own experience.  And I believe the many painful and heart breaking stories I have listened to.  You get to decide for you what your experience has been.

If you decide you need to leave your GCC church I pray and hope for you to continue to seek your faith.  I also pray that you will give yourself the grace and space to heal. I pray that you will find that leaving your GCC church was a possible necessary and good step towards truly finding love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the spirit.  I trust that Jesus will meet you and carry you all the way to complete restored mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
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LiterallyFreed
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2018, 02:51:25 pm »

Thank you Cult Proof.

I think there was a time I shared with you the Holy Spirit is very evidently working in you. That is still true today and truer even still as you are faithfully working through this painful time and getting the healing through Jesus that we all desperately need. I have not been to this freedom of mind site, but I know that just as I've been working through the Word, and at times Word alone, my heart breaks as to how wrong it was, is and continues.

Thank you for sharing your resources and knowledge as you've processed through exceptionally painful times. Words can't express the gratitude I have for what God is doing through you and your family- that you are here to offer loving suggestions to people seeking answers and hope for healing. Thank you. The Holy Spirit is clearly at work in you! Thank you!

your family member is Jesus,
Literally Freed
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Cult Proof
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2018, 06:18:58 pm »

If people are leaving Evergreen or other Midwest churches I wanted to highlight this post again. Also I think it’s been mentioned that a new book “sharing Jesus with the cults” highlighted gcc as a cult not for its theology but because of its heavy use of mind control. This is certainly true of the gcc church we were abused out of.
Praying that people are freed and healed! 
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Cult Proof
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2018, 06:46:25 pm »

If you’re questioning the health of your church it’s very important that you listen to your gut. Getting quiet and shutting off the voices of leaders is very important. Mind control by design sets you up to not listen to what your body is telling you. If your gut is saying things aren’t right please listen to yourself. If you are having nightmares, that’s your body telling you that you aren’t in a safe place. If your stomach turns or you feel pressure in your shoulders or a tightness in your chest, that’s your body trying to warn you.

If you decide your church is unhealthy and you need to leave please seek healthy perspectives on other areas of your life. People can and do leave cults but continue to live trapped under and in mind control. Personally I would strongly encourage people to throw out all parenting and marriage materials and find new resources that are more grace based. Meeting new people has been so helpful because they bring a healthy, normal way of living, raising kids, and being married.

Please allow yourself the time and space and grace to heal. You might have been living in trauma for a long time but mind control prevented you from hearing your hurting body and soul. It is okay to take the time to heal. If Jesus took the time to find the 1 out of the 99 and carried it home on His shoulders I have to believe he honors the healing process.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2018, 11:34:19 am »

Totally agree CultProof!  Well said.
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Cult Proof
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2018, 05:38:19 am »

Another really great book is Love Does by Bob Goff.  Because GCC has such strong over tones of behavior management, accountability, correcting people- essentially controlling and abusing people under the idea that its love to manage other people’s behaviors and lives-Love Does is a delightful book that quietly exposes such behaviors and advocates for just loving people by being with them. I hope that even the most wounded souls could find comfort and affirmation in this book, which isn’t written for people coming out of abusive churches but is equally if not more so healing for me and my family. Personally I like the audio to hear Bob’s heart.

May God bless all who are seeking healing and health. May we give each other grace, space, and permission to find healing in our own ways. Our hurt, confusion, and faith matter. We are the lost sheep and Jesus is seeking us. I pray too a special grace of comfort on us all as leaving an abusive church is so unachoring and lonely. May each of us be protected in special ways to us and given specific grace that we need as He rebuilds our lives, heals our hearts, and clears the vision of his gospel.

My heart truly hurts for all of us. I am sorry that this is where we are today AND I am hopeful that Jesus will see us through.
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margaret
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2018, 11:28:02 am »

Great post, Cult Proof.
When I got out a few years ago, I remember how freeing it would feel to love without an agenda.
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2018, 05:01:06 pm »

Agree on freedom to love without an agenda (after leaving), Margaret.

Amen to your prayer of blessing, Cult Proof.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 05:02:43 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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Heidi
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2018, 10:38:49 am »

If you are here because you are wondering if your church is abusive I want to offer you a few ideas that might be helpful.  These things were helpful to me, but my story is my story and your story is your story. 

Take a break from talking to your current pastor and leaders (maybe even your friends), even for just two weeks.  If they aren't abusive and controlling they will respect your need for space.  Talk to people outside of GCC and get a new perspective of what is normal, healthy church behavior.  If you have friends and family outside of GCC talk to them AND I suggest choosing 3 or 4 area pastors and asking them if they will meet with you.  You do not need to say what church or pastors you are talking about or coming from.  A healthy pastor will respect your desire to not share who you are questioning.  Share your concerns, things you've noticed or experienced and ask if it is normal.  For example, I don't know one couple in my gcc church who got married without the pastors consent; that's not normal pastoral behavior, that's control.  Ask things like is it normal to hold meetings about people who have left your church. 

Ask yourself if you see the fruits of the spirit sincerely, regularly, and natural coming out of yourself, your pastor, and others around you.  Are people "working" on the fruits of the spirit, or is the Holy Spirit seen coming naturally out of people because He is living inside them?  This was mind blowing to me! 

Research words like: double bind, mind control the B.I.T.E. model, gas lighting, narcissistic abuse cycle (different from the normal abuse cycle and for me described my relationship with my pastor to a T). These are all forms of psychological abuse.  You can decide for yourself if you have experienced any of these.  Depending on your location and involvement with the inner working of your church experiences will vary.  You may realize that you didn't experience horrible abuse but your friends have.  Or you might conclude that your church is healthy and going well for you.  You might realize that you've been living under horrible oppression. Whatever you conclude for you please be respectful of others who have been abused.  Spiritual abuse is serious and people who do identify abuse in their life need to take their healing seriously.  If you identify forms of abuse in your life please consider professional counseling (and search for a counselor who has an understanding of spiritual abuse)

Websites to check out:
thriveafterabuse.com (words you need to know and cycle of a narcissistic relationship)
pastorlamb.com (gaslighting)
libertyforcaptives.com (an all around great resource!)

Books:
*Broken Trust by Remy Diederich
*Twisted Scripture by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
*Safe People by Cloud and Townsends
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson and Van Vonderen
Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy
Cult Proofing Your Kids by Paul Martin
Churches the Abuse by Enroth
*highly recommend
Martin and Enroth and Larry Pile have recanted their belief that GCC is abusive.  Personally I believe they were manipulated by GCC in a strong assertive effort to look out for their reputation; not because any sincere or meaningful changes have been made.  I also know the truth of my own experience.  And I believe the many painful and heart breaking stories I have listened to.  You get to decide for you what your experience has been.

If you decide you need to leave your GCC church I pray and hope for you to continue to seek your faith.  I also pray that you will give yourself the grace and space to heal. I pray that you will find that leaving your GCC church was a possible necessary and good step towards truly finding love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the spirit.  I trust that Jesus will meet you and carry you all the way to complete restored mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

 
Thank you for your insights and well written thoughts.
I have some thoughts about leaving a church when you have a family or spouse that does not see the same things.   I have been out of Urban Refuge- Evergreen for a little over two years.  I had years of confusion there, and wanted to leave much earlier than we did. I also am married and my husband did not see what I was seeing.  The Evergreen line that I was told by various pastors is that " I do not like to follow.", " I do not like to submit."    I felt like a crazy person.  I could not articulate what I was feeling or seeing.

 My husband and I really struggled in our marriage.  God provided a good marriage counselor that helped us work through some of the issues.  Bottom line was that the counselor was able to discern that Evergreen was not a healthy place for me, it was not a safe place for me, it felt toxic to my soul.  He was able to help my husband see that even if I could not explain it, or articulate it well, could my husband just accept that it was not a healthy place for me.  My husband was humble enough to realize that for my sake and for the sake of our marriage, it would be the best to leave.  He did not want to leave.  Thankfully his commitment to our marriage and to Jesus was bigger than our commitment to the church.

 When you are taught that the church is what we need to commit to, it gets confusing.   We met at Evergreen in the singles group in 1989.  It was all we knew.  We have been able to find another church that has been healing, but we went in very cautiously with eyes wide open.  Now that we have been out of Evergreen, my husband can clearly see the wrong teaching and the wrong focus of emphasis on church commitment. leadership, and mission, not Jesus.   So much more could be said.  Life is hard.  To be in a church that is so chaotic, confusing and unhealthy may not be God's best.  That is not of the Spirit.  As believers, the Holy Spirit is in each one of us.  Be obedient to that still small voice of the Lord.  Seek outside counsel. Do not give up on Jesus. Jesus is not the abuser, but many within the church. 
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Cult Proof
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2018, 06:00:15 pm »

Heidi, Thank you for sharing such important and valuable things!  Thank you for speaking up, your voice is welcome and appreciated by me!
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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2018, 08:12:15 pm »

I agree.  Thank you, Heidi.  I think what you shared could be very helpful to a LOT of GCx members - past and present!

My husband (who I met soon after I left GCx) just recently said to me “Weren’t you unhappy with that bad church organization for quite a while before you left it?”  My answer of course was, “Yes, I was unhappy there in the later years, but I had given them control over my decision-making ability and actions.”  He added, “Weren’t you aware of how poorly and wrongly people were treated when they left, but still stayed yourself?”  I replied, “Sort of, but it had been such a regular response on the leaders part that I became used to it.”  Probably like it became common to feel unhappy there.  Perhaps it’s like becoming accustomed to physical pain.  You have unknowingly accepted it as part of your life.  

But, suffering under spiritual abuse should never be accepted as a normal part of life.  It’s pain should not be considered as getting you closer to God.  I wished I would have asked myself much much sooner, ‘Has all this “GCx-ordered sacrifice” (not God-ordained) gotten me ANY closer to my precious savior?’  My true inner self would have screamed, ‘NO, No, NO.  It has NOT!  In fact, I think I feel more distanced now than when I first enjoyed him.’ Which would be right in line with what Paul says in Galatians, that I had been separated (so-to-speak) from my head (God-given authority), Christ, through abusively erroneous teachings!!



« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 08:41:44 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 04:28:13 am »

Heidi and Janet thank you so much for sharing your stories of leaving gcc.  I think that many people have either recently left or are trying to figure out if they should leave the MN and WI churches. For that reason people sharing their stories is so helpful and important at this time. It’s so helpful for affirming you aren’t crazy, your feelings and thoughts are valid and there is probably more truth in them than a person realizes in their present suffering.

If other people feel safe and have words about leaving please share. Your courageous voice is welcome here. AND how others tried to harm you can actually become a gift of help to another person find freedom and grace. 

Other people may know they are experiencing a process of leaving or having left but don’t have words.  That’s understandable and actually might mean you are in a traumatized state. When we can’t put our story in story form that simply means we have a story and we are still in process of healing. If that’s you please consider finding a trauma informed counselor, one that you naturally connect to. Counseling is expensive and you are not obligated to work with the first therapist you try. 

I believe in us!  And more importantly I believe that God is for us!
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 06:50:20 am »

I agree.  Thank you, Heidi.  I think what you shared could be very helpful to a LOT of GCx members - past and present!

My husband (who I met soon after I left GCx) just recently said to me “Weren’t you unhappy with that bad church organization for quite a while before you left it?”  My answer of course was, “Yes, I was unhappy there in the later years, but I had given them control over my decision-making ability and actions.”  He added, “Weren’t you aware of how poorly and wrongly people were treated when they left, but still stayed yourself?”  I replied, “Sort of, but it had been such a regular response on the leaders part that I became used to it.”  Probably like it became common to feel unhappy there.  Perhaps it’s like becoming accustomed to physical pain.  You have unknowingly accepted it as part of your life.

If you don't mind my asking you, how does your husband feel about your involvement on this board?  And do you feel like you've addressed whatever issues you had that attracted you to such an unhealthy Church in the first place? 

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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2018, 10:10:06 am »

Quote from: Ned
If you don't mind my asking you, how does your husband feel about your involvement on this board?

I fail to understand how this is any of your business.
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