Not really ready to fully share my history here, its also been close to 11 or 12 years since I left and thankfully I’ve been able to put a lot of it to bed. What’s so weird for me is that I recently moved and started a new church and on the 3rd or 4th week the pastor was talking about forgiveness and I started weeping. Haven’t given much thought to Young Church (Grace Church) in a decade but I started weeping just a few weeks ago because of how my exit affects me to this day. I know I hold resentment towards leadership there. So maybe this is God’s timing.
The thing is I honestly don’t think it matters what we say. I still remember being inside the church. I mean “WE” knew God and no one else did. At the time people called us a Cult and I was like, first off I’m an intelligent human being and I’d never be in a cult. Second, everything we teach is straight out of the bible. This is where I have some disagreements with the OP [of the Reddit post]. I do believe they teach the bible, but like so many other abusive pastors it’s crazy easy to take a story from the bible to spin it to whatever you need that week. I would assume people that attend there are still the same intelligent God loving human beings that I worked side and side with for several years. These people were my closest friends and by no means would they see themselves wrong. I didn’t. Why would they.
As far as [Reddit] OP goes about not knowing what to believe in the bible, get in line! I fully believe Jesus is my Lord and Savior. But I doubt it too. I believe the bible, but honestly Paul seemed a bit off sometimes. I mean he literally says in 1 Cor 7:12 “this is from me and not the lord” (Google’d it, I’m not that smart to remember that). So if all scripture is God breathed but that says it wasn’t from God, which is it? Don’t know, don’t really care if I’m honest. I believe through my doubts and I think that’s kinda what this Christianity thing is all about. I hope you struggle through it too, I’ll be right here struggling with you.
Back to abusive church. It completely is. I didn’t see it at the time, but after leaving and sharing stories with other pastors they have just said “that ain’t right”. I’ve read books on Spiritual Abuse and they concur. Will I call them a cult. No. Do they share a lot of cult like tendencies… uhh heck yea. But, I believe they are flawed Christians like every other Christian I’ve met. I believe it comes out of a good place for most. But that being said, if someone is abusing children but “its coming out a good place” does not give excuse to the abuse being done. I hate to see others are still being abused there. I was told that when they switched from Young Church to Grace Church it was because they have come to terms with their abusive ways. Apparently not. I’m sorry for any of you reading this that have gone through tough times. It sucks! These were the hardest years of my life. Thankfully I still call myself a Christian, but would I blame anyone for abandoning the faith because of this church… nope. Not one iota.
I found my faith through this church. I still give them a lot of credit for creating an atmosphere for me to find that faith. I don’t think I would have come to faith without them. Its a difficult discussion for me, a part of me wants the church to close, I still remember the pain. The other part says some good does come out of it. But I also believe the church (specifically the leadership) is as RB said, unfit for leadership.
For anyone reading this going through the pain, I want to say it gets better. I can still vividly remember screaming obscenities at God in my bed the week or so after I left. I lost hundreds of friends overnight. I lost the person I thought I was going to marry. It. Was. Hard.
I’m married now, have had 3 boys constantly bug me about feeding them while I wrote this and I love my family life. Church is still hard for me. I fundamentally don’t trust it. I’m not sure there is a fix for that. I still go. I enjoy the music and I do want to grow as a Christian, but my ability to trust a church is non-existant. I trust people now and even that takes a lot of time.