Dave Ward Miller of Rocky Hill Community Church in Exeter, California on How to Leave a Church; My Question in the Hubris of Modern Evangelicalism is this Applicable?

The Senior Pastor at Rocky Hill Community Church in Exeter, California writes a blog post called “How to Leave a Church.” In light of my own experiences and surveying the modern evangelical landscape I ask this one question. Does this post honestly reflect  reality given the issues of spiritual abuse, toxic leadership and the emergence of harmful organizations like Acts 29 or Sovereign Grace?

“I’ve given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can’t divorce a book.”

Gloria Swanson

“Divorce is never a pleasant experience. You look upon it as a failure. But I learned to be a different person once we broke up. Sometimes you learn more from your failure than your success.”

Michael Crawford

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Matthew 10:14 NIV

Rocky Hill Community Church is an Evangelical Free Church in the town of Exeter, California. This church is one of many in district known as EFCA West which is led by Steve Highfill. Exeter is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley and is in Tulare County. It is not far from Sequoia National Park. The history of Exeter goes back to when the Southern Pacific railroad built through the San Joaquin Valley. The city of Exeter was incorporated in 1911 and the community today remains small with a population of over 10,000 according to the last census. The area that Exeter rests in is known as “The Citrus Capitol of the World.” In addition to agriculture, Waterman is also established here.  

Rocky Hill Community Church was planted by Dave Ward Miller.  Dave earned a psychology degree from Grace College. He then obtained a Master of Divinity from Grace Theological Seminary and finally a Doctorate of Ministry from Talbot School of Theology which is located at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Dave served as the lead pastor in Grace Fellowship (today Seacoast Grace) in the Long Beach/Cyprus area for over 11 years. He also pastored the Church of Rocky Peak in Chatsworth, California for 16 years. Prior to being at Rocky Hill Community Church he pastored GateWay Church for 4 years in Visalia, California. Dave is active in the Exeter’s Lion Club, enjoys riding his Indian Chief motorcycle or Harley. Plus he enjoys reading non-fiction and engaging in skeptics. He has been married to his wife Sandee for over 30  years and has three adult children, and six grandchildren. Other staff at this church includes David Welch, Devri Hughan, Raquel Bayle, and Rose Maldonado.

On Dave’s blog on September 22, 2015 he wrote the following article called “How to Leave a Church.” I believe Dave means well, but I think his article has many problems, and some concerns that need to be raised. Today the evangelical landscape is complicated. Between the resurgence of the shepherding movement, organizations like 9 Marks and their theological dictatorships, and the rise of Neo-Calvinism leaving a church can be hard. Again I think Dave means well, but there are a number of issues I noticed when I read this post. I am going to comment below in red, and as always I invite you to read and comment below.


To leave a church is one of the most difficult decisions to make and it should be. Emotions make leaving well rare. If you are considering leaving a church or know of someone considering, or in the process of leaving, the following guideline may prove helpful.

1. Leave thoughtfully – make sure you have good reasons for leaving that honor the Lord. You will someday give account for this decision, and you are setting a personal precedent. There are good reasons for leaving. If the church has lost its purity and is soft on sin, especially in leadership or if the preaching or mission is not biblical, then leave. Sometimes your personal or family needs require a church that addresses those legitimate needs. It’s also ok to leave if you disagree with the direction of the church and find yourself at odds with the leadership. Better to find a church that fits your preferences than be a divisive unhappy person over non-biblical matters. Humbly pray for God’s leading. If God convicts you of your hurt pride and petty disagreements, then repent and get back to serving and supporting your church. There are no perfect churches. If the Spirit leads you to leave, move on to points 2 through 5.

I really want to stress that I believe Dave means well, but here is one thing that troubles me. When issues of doctrinal purity or being soft on sin is raised it tends to be viewed as if the church runs the risk of being exposed to liberal theology. Or that heresy only comes from the left. In reality heresy, and theological problems actually come from both sides of the spectrum. People are often obsessed with liberals bringing in heresy, but lets stop for a moment and remember that conservatives can also bring in heresy. The current form of complementarism I regard as neo-fundamentalism. You also have organizations like the shepherding movement which is also neo-fundamentalism. While I acknowledge Dave saying its okay to leave if you disagree with the leadership of the church I have to ask the question. What do you do if you are in a Sovereign Grace, 9 Marks, Acts 29, or Harvest Bible Chapel that is controlling and locked into a membership covenant? How do you get out when questioning your pastor can be viewed as sinful? How can you separate when the theology system you are in is all about Lording over people? Some of the emails people have sent me are heartbreaking. Also I have to ask…is divisive the right word to use? How does one define divisive? There are people who can ask legitimate questions who are called divisive; especially in an age with authoritarianism on the rise. That said, I appreciate the fact that there is no perfect church. I get that and acknowledge that as well.

2. Leave honestly – first tell the leaders of the church of your leaving and the reasons. Communicate in person or by a call rather than in writing. “Speak the truth in love.” Your reasons may help the leaders to make needed improvements. Or your reasons may confirm that you have a different direction and/or priorities than the leadership and your leaving is best for you and the church.

Here is the problem with what Dave Miller is saying. In many places this won’t work. I think of what Karen Hinkley did at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church in Dallas. She communicated she was leaving the church. After all her life disintegrated in a short amount of time.  Her dream of being a missionary ended, she discovered her husband was sexually attracted to children, addicted to child pornography, and instead what happened? She was told to submit to the Elders who pulled the Hebrew 13:17 crap on her. Steve Hardin if I recall correctly was texting around the clock, and stalking her. She went to the leaders of the church and tried to leave honestly and they would not let her. Heck even after she moved from Dallas to North Carolina and The Village Church still wanted her to submit to their authority. So here is the question Dave Miller….what do you do when your church acts like a cult? How are you supposed to leave?

3. Leave quietly – this is not leaving silently as that is nearly impossible. But leave without making a lot of noise. After telling those in leadership, then your circle of friends and partners in ministry, stop talking about the church and focus on the future. Don’t continue to talk down the church or its leadership, especially when in your new church. Keep quiet. If people ask why you left, be as positive as possible dwelling on the Lord’s leading.

Keep quiet about your old church? What if your old church is covering up child sex abuse? I think of the awkward situation I had here in the Washington, D.C. area with Fairfax Community Church. The church made a man on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry the Care Group Director. Then they concealed the information from the congregation and came down hard on people or ignored them if they raised questions about it. If you have someone who poses a threat should one stay silent? Should one be quiet? If the church leadership is engaged in illegal activity should one not say a thing? This blog writes a lot about the Evangelical Free Church, and I have been writing about Steve Estes church outside Philadelphia which excommunicated an alleged rape victim to cover up illegal activity to protect the Senior Pastor’s son.  One other thing that I don’t get…why does leaving a church also mean the end of friendships with that church? Why can’t Christians remain friends with people after they leave? Why are they cut off, ignored and given the silent treatment?

4. Leave graciously – whatever the valid reasons for leaving, they are still negatives. One way to offset the negativity of your departure is to write a letter to the pastor and leadership that lists several fond memories and ways the church ministered to you while you were there. No matter how great the problems in the church, there are positives you can mention. One caution here–don’t not make the compliment a backhanded criticism. For example, if you’re upset that the church removed hymnals, don’t think mentioning the blessing of singing from a hymnal will be taken as a compliment. Avoid mentioning any controversy even as an intended compliment.

Here’s the problem…what if you former church is engaged in sin? After all pastors are sinful..are they not? What if you tried to work things out with your former pastor because you want to do the right thing and in his corruption he dismisses you? I know these are difficult questions but this blog often deals with the dark side of religion and church. This blog was born out of pain and trauma. I see this point about leaving graciously as being quite troubled.

5. Leave quickly – without just dropping the ball on your ministry, leave as quickly as possible. Don’t hang around week after week and tell church people of your future plans to leave. It shows you want people to beg you to stay, or worse, you want to pull others to follow you away. Make it s clean cut, not a slow ragged tear.

Many of the people who I have spoken to and been in contact with never wanted to leave their church. After all some had been involved for years in their church. The place may have been theologically hijacked. Or there may be a massive scandal that takes place. Or another factor is that they are dealing with a pastor who is toxic, perhaps has a personality disorder or maybe mental illness. These things happen, as there are many people who are pastors that quite frankly should not be pastors at all. But there are many instances where people are driven from their organization when instead they want to stay, or they never had plans of leaving.

6. Leave completely – don’t announce you have left and stop attending church worship, but then remain in a small group or continue involved in a ministry like the kids, youth, men, women, recovery or other ministry. To do so obviously becomes divisive. That is why wise church leaders will ask you to leave the small group and/or ministry and encourage you to lock in fully with your new church. You need to be “all in” with your new church in worship and serving. Your new church deserves your undivided attention.

I wonder how Dee Parsons would feel about this, after all there are a number of people from her former church called Providence Baptist in Raleigh, North Carolina who still are in the same Bible study. I have met them and attended one of them as she asked me to come to one. I think what this shows is that this is more about control. Many pastors need to understand that they are not the sole person responsible for a person’s soul. Jesus is… And can I just say this is the second time (if I counted correctly) that the word divisive is used. What does trouble me is that this is being taught in a small community of about 10,000 people. In small communities leaving a church can be exceptionally hard, as people bump into each other frequently. But here is this other aspect that troubles me…why the “us” vs. “them” mentality? The us being Rocky Hill Community Church vs. another church in Exeter or a nearby town in Tulare county? Why do churches have to compete against each other? Is that right? Is that correct? I don’t believe that is healthy at all.

Helpful Insight as to “Why Did They Really Left the Church?”
If you want to know the real reason someone leaves a church, look where they land rather than listen to what they say. Sometimes what they say and where they end up are consistent, but often not. If people say they are against the church removing pews for padded chairs and go to church with pews, their actions fit their reasons for leaving. But if they go to a church with padded chairs, be assured there was another reason for their leaving. If a person says he is leaving because the church is relocating its facility several miles away and attends a church near the pre-location, then the reason truthful. But if he joins a church facility near the place where his previous church is planning to relocate its place of gathering, then it is obvious he had another reason for leaving. I offer these two examples because I have witnessed them. Often people leave a church in protest to a new building program to join another church that recently finished a lovely new expanded expensive facility!

The one thing that I find troubling about what Dave Miller said is that I don’t think he gets the scope of toxic churches or spiritual problems. When your church is corrupt and theologically sick leaving it can be hard. I didn’t see Dave Miller write much or even acknowledge spiritual abuse issues. The evangelical landscape is littered with broken and destroyed lives and its time we acknowledge the depth of the problem and deal with it. People leave a church for far more than the color of the carpet or the fact that your ass is sore because the wooden pew is hard to sit on. Those are the reasons you always seem to hear about. What you don’t hear about is allegations of criminal activity, child sex abuse, theological hijackings, toxic leadership, pastors who have a personality disorder or mental illness. There are so many reasons why people leave and its time we talk about them. That said, I am going to give Dave Miller the benefit of the doubt. Unless you have been burned from a church you will not understand it. There are a lot of people in evangelical Christianity who are naïve and have their head in the sand. I am not saying Dave Miller is like that, again I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. As always I invite criticism. I want to go on record as stating that this post has been emailed to Dave Miller and the leadership of Rocky Hill Community Church. With that I will close with some Plankeye. Take care guys and know that I love you.

 

18 thoughts on “Dave Ward Miller of Rocky Hill Community Church in Exeter, California on How to Leave a Church; My Question in the Hubris of Modern Evangelicalism is this Applicable?

  1. You hit a nerve on this one.

    1. Leave thoughtfully
    I’ll agree with him here, “make sure you have good reasons for leaving”. I just wish pastors would have similar consideration of the pain they cause when they drive so many to leave. Did my former pastor similarly lose sleep when his agenda precipiated a third of the people leaving? Did the pastor “Humbly pray for God’s leading” to use Miller’s own words when he acted in an imperious manner. Basically I would turn the entire section around on him. Many times it is the pastor that should be the one to repent of his “pride” and “get back to serving”.

    2. Leave honestly
    I agree with your statement “In many places this won’t work.” In my case I did an exit interview and I would recommend against it. If they don’t listen to you when you are there, they sure won’t listen as you leave. It was way too much stress for no perceptible gain. I received absolutely no feedback that my legitimate concerns were addressed at all, zip, zero.

    3. Leave quietly
    Much agreement with your “One other thing that I don’t get…why does leaving a church also mean the end of friendships”. An authoritarian pastor came in and created a climate I could not abide and I’m supposed to end the relationships that I had cultivated in the decades prior to his arrival.

    4. Leave graciously
    I’ll be sure not to tell anyone the leadership raided tens of thousands from designated funds and then passed it off as a balanced budget. I won’t mention the pastor suppressed and hid concerns offered by multiple people over how things were being done and people mistreated. I won’t add the pastors set people against each other to bolster their position. I’ll just keep it a secret so others can go there and get the same abuse. I would amend this secton by relabeling it “leave honestly”, you may not need to go tilting at windmills but do tell people the truth when the ask, but be honest and don’t embelish it.

    5. Leave quickly
    Be sure to make it as convenient as possible for the pastors. When a full third of the congregation leaves most say nothing and then the leadership takes the opportunity to spin the reason to those still attending.

    6. Leave completely
    This would be another place where your question is applicable, why should we end relationships? Another comment of yours is very applicable: “And can I just say this is the second time (if I counted correctly) that the word divisive is used.” Why are we divisive if we convince one or two persons to leave when the pastor’s excess causes sixty to leave? I’ve run into quite a few folks from my former church who were struggling over what was transpiring, when they received an honest recitation of events from myself and others it offered them badly needed validation. Abusive leadership largely succeeds because individuals are seperated and feel they are the only ones and because of this seperation they lack the confidence to act.

    Millers parting shot “Why Did They Really Left the Church?” reveals the cynacism that inhabits this modern day pharisee. He does not to respect differences of those who chose to leave but instead devalues them. Possibly the reason was not the disagreement over chairs vs pews but the imperious way the change was done. Likely the reason a person leaves a church when it is re-locating is because it was the last straw and when the person looks for a new church home they start off looking close to home. None of the cynical reasons this “pastor” thinks he knows are obvious at all. The obvious part is his arrogance towards people who don’t share his “vision”.

    According to this “pastor”, when people can finally articulate their concerns, are able to find their voice, they should just leave quickly and quietly, breaking all the relationships they may have invested in over decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill the things I found when working through the largest district in the Evangelical Free were stunning. I have about 20 more posts which will come over the next few months. But they range from stuff like this, to mental health counseling, why you give money to the church, etc… When I read Dave Ward Miller’s post and I thought about my own experiences I knew this wasn’t feasible. I just got an email the other day that I wonder what Dave Ward Miller would say or do if he read it. Good comments Bill. You have a lot of wisdom.

      Like

    • An excellent and thoughtful response. I’m glad I was taught very early on that where you ‘go to church’ is a freewill decision/part of Christian liberty, as are many other things in the Christian life such as job, marriage, where you live. This does not exclude praying for wisdom in these things, but it does set us free from trying to find God’s will in area where he has left the responsibility to us.

      You should indeed ‘not neglect to meet together’, but pastors have no authority to dicate let alone manipulate you into remaining in any one local fellowship, nor prevent you from visiting others if you fancy a change of scene.

      The only other good advice I heard on leaving a church was not to put anything in writing. This can have a nasty habit of being used against you later, especially if feelings were running high when you wrote.

      How you behave when leaving a church is more likely to be remembered than precisely how legitimate or otherwise your reasons for leaving were. I’m very grateful for the person who passed on that little word of wisdom.

      From my own experience, a lot of church going is actually based on guilt at the thought of not going, and sheer habit. Never done anything else on a Sunday morning. I’m not sure this ever becomes clear until you stop going somewhere, and you suddenly realise your less than noble motives for attending.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “How you behave when leaving a church is more likely to be remembered than precisely how legitimate or otherwise your reasons for leaving were.”
        This strikes me as very wise counsel. It is probably applicable to a whole host of disagreements, how we behave will be remembered long after our arguments have been forgotten.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There is no good reason you couldn’t attend bible study with people in your old church! It’s not a gang. You should be able to have relationships and even study together with people in another church. There are lots of bible studies that are for members of diverse churches too.

    It’s not when you’re a jet you’re a jet all the way here.

    Good article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hoo boy, I could say so much.
    It would take me a long time.
    Time I don’t have right now.
    But I’ll reply with a few quick missives over the next week or so…

    Ken writes:
    “The only other good advice I heard on leaving a church was not to put anything in writing. This can have a nasty habit of being used against you later, especially if feelings were running high when you wrote.”

    Here is the entirety of the letter I wrote to the elders/pastors when I left my previous church:

    “As of [date], I and my family are no longer members of [church]. The Lord knows everything that went on, and everything that was said. We trust Him to work it out in the end. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15b).

    In Christ,

    [ejj]”

    One of the best (and by far the shortest) letters I ever wrote.

    Like

  4. Next quick missive:

    Perhaps Mr. Miller is being… naive.
    Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

    But if one follows his directives — and there is at least of modicum of wisdom in a lot of what he writes, in a Utopian society — in the real world, following the 6 steps in his guideline is a recipe for the Bill Cosbys of the world to flourish & continue to abuse people. Abusive leadership counts on, *depends* on, the idea that “good Christian” people will for the most part, follow those 6 steps, leave completely & quietly, slink away, and leave no wake in their departure, allowing the abuses to go on unabated, and undetected.

    It is only when good people speak up, that abuse is dealt with, and hopefully put a stop to. How often have we seen one brave person speak up, only to see an avalanche follow?

    Here’s an example, one of many:
    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/who-we-arehow-we-got-here/

    Am I advocating a scorched earth approach? No. That can cause a lot of needless damage, and also serve to torpedo potential reconciliation long-term. But open & honest discourse, reproof & correction, should always be welcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Regarding Mr. Miller’s #4: “4. Leave graciously – whatever the valid reasons for leaving, they are still negatives. One way to offset the negativity of your departure is to write a letter to the pastor and leadership that lists several fond memories and ways the church ministered to you while you were there. No matter how great the problems in the church, there are positives you can mention.”

    While I’m not up with writing this kind of thing to the pastors & leadership, there is a lot of wisdom in what he writes here. It is so easy, when one has been at a church for a long time where it didn’t end well, to dismiss the entire experience, to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

    It helps, and heals, to remember the good times, the good people, the good relationships & ministries, and acknowledge them for what they were/are: good. The end can cloud and colour the whole of the experience. But if the last two or three or five years of a 15-year experience was increasingly awful, that doesn’t necessarily mean the first 10-13 years were awful. There had to be one or more reasons you were there, and remained there.

    Now, of course, 20/20 hindsight & reflection may reveal that there were signs & warnings during those 10-13 years that you either didn’t recognize, or ignored. Forgive yourself. Life has to lived in real time, forwards, right? But that doesn’t mean the good times weren’t truly good, that people weren’t reached for Christ, that people’s relationships to the Lord, and with others weren’t fostered & nurtured.

    It’s okay to acknowledge the good times.
    Cathartic even. 🙂
    Sure, some of it may come out as a lament.
    But it’s good, and it’s honest.

    And to speak of these good times with other friends from that church helps to heal, and helps to validate not only what you went through, but what your friends went through, and may still be going through. And it places those friends in a more comfortable place to be able to help you through.

    It’s okay, and good, to do this, and to remember.
    So there is wisdom in #4.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, two thoughts and a bonus rant.

    1) Miller has addressed a useful topic, but he’s arrogantly trying to tell people how to do something. They are leaving for their own reasons. Period. If this pastor is trying so hard to get into the heads and actions of departing church members, I suspect that he is rather controlling in other areas.

    2) There’s an awful lot of emphasis on protecting the feelings of the church leaders, and the image and reputation of the church. Church members are not babies (well, the babies are, but they can’t read). There is nothing wrong with telling somebody, “I left my church because the elders started trying to control my hemline,” or, “The youth group was too small,” or, “I don’t like the new pastor,” or, “I never felt as comfortable there as my spouse did.” Reasons can be ordinary, not scandalous or criminal.

    Church is optional! People are allowed to leave! It’s not a taboo subject! Get a grip, church leaders!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I got off the phone awhile ago with a friend (gal pal) that I met online at The Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, and on Twitter.

    Thanks to the blogs, the bloggers’ experience with abusive churches, and the posters on those blogs from around the world, they have – wonderfully – helped deprogram me.

    But it takes time. My friend and I were chatting about the books we read, gave people, and insisted that others read when we were in these cults, because honestly they don’t deserve to be called churches.
    They lacked the 1 mark of a true Biblical church: LOVE. And as someone pointed out over on Wartburg Watch, that Mark Dever – founder of the authoritarian 9Marks group which is the 1970’s heavy-Shepherding Movement all over again just with new language has 9 un-biblical marks and the *real mark – LOVE* never made it to Dever’s list. Many churches are following the 9Marks model. And it is disastrous.

    There are so many bad, abusive churches that many of them are frankly a danger to adults and children alike.

    We don’t owe it to pastors/elders to leave well who are abusive and authoritarian.
    We don’t owe them exit interviews (Wartburg Watch advises to send just a short letter resigning membership, send it certified return receipt to the church. And if you’re hassled by the church after that call 911 and an attorney.)

    I am so tired of these pastors framing these articles that blame is on the shoulders of the people.
    They simply wanted a place to grow as Christians, to know people, to use their gifts, to learn, and they get all kinds of “doctrines of men” (Comp/Patriarchy, hating gays, and on and on) shoved down their throats. We’re told that women – in so many churches – can’t use their gifts, can’t teach. How childish and immature.

    I’ve been writing reviews on YELP and Google and other places about my ex-church. And people who are members there and want out have contacted me and told me how abusive it is, how terrible, they’ve never experienced a church like this…and they want out! So I’ve told them how to quietly get out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have learned that YELP won’t permit any reviews to stay up that involve child sexual abuse
    or serious topics like that. So even though I was threatened and excommunicated from my ex-church about the pastors/elders bringing in their friend a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer, giving him membership, leadership, carte blanche access to children including at a 5-day sports camp held every summer, and telling NO ONE, YELP has always taken down my reviews – no matter how sanitized.

    So here is the latest YELP review about my ex-church, that managed to stay up. I also put one up on Google Reviews. I’ve been contacted by people…desperate to get out of that nut case ex-church. A gulag.

    “It was very disturbing to be a member of this church and to see the level of mistreatment shown by the GBF pastors/elders to adult Christians, an iron-fisted authoritarian control over adult Christians’ lives and demands for “obedience.” There were excommunications and shunnings ordered of dear Christians for any independent thought.

    Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley is one of the growing number of authoritarian, NeoCalvinist churches spreading across the U.S. and it’s not *Biblical*.

    *Heavy Shepherding. GBFSV practices the 1970’s heavy-Shepherding movement’s un-Biblical control of Christians’ lives by the pastors/elders. The Florida founders repented for its abuses and un-Biblicalness. The GBF pastors/elders have not repented and the damage is growing in the lives of the Body of Christ at GBF. GBFSV copies the model of Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. 9Marks organization. It is a heavily criticized model, including by conservatives, who have said that there is only ONE Biblical mark of a healthy church: Love. The other 9Marks are un-Biblical and it’s the Heavy Shepherding Movement all over again with new language.

    *Membership Covenants. Members are told to sign them because they’re *Biblical* and back to a Biblical basic. In point of fact they aren’t Biblical and are used to exert authoritarian control over members’ lives. Jesus required people to sign how many pages to follow Him? Correct answer: 0 pages.

    *Congregational vote. GBFSV wants your money but doesn’t believe in a true Biblical church honoring the Holy Spirit’s work in Christians lives and giftedness. It is more authoritarian control exerted by a few yes-men over the Body of Christ, hobbling the power of the Holy Spirit to truly work. I will never go to a church again that is run like GBF. I will never give money to one again.

    *Women. GBF pastors/elders promote Complementarian/Patriarchy doctrine and that women are to “obey” and to “submit” and be 2nd class citizens. At GBF they live under the old Covenant and not the new one in Christ. GBF pastors/elders espouse the Council on Biblical Manhood Womanhood which teaches a Semi-Arian Heresy by Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem called the Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son to justify the subordination of women. It is untrue and is trinatarian heresy. GBF has put this man-made doctrine on par with The Gospel. If you reject Comp you reject The Gospel. Nonsense. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for more info.

    *Teaching. GBFSV does not permit Godly women to teach the Word of God. They base this on the writing of the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote Timothy about one woman — original text in Greek said “the woman” — teaching one man error. Paul wanted her to learn correctly first. The issue wasn’t her being a woman, the issue was error – and that would be true if it was a man in error. Manipulative anti-woman Bible translators conveniently changed the text to something Paul never said.

    *Nouthetic Counseling. GBFSV pastors/elders believe that Bible is sufficient counsel for everything. They have no training and licensing, do not follow California law, and frequently cross over the line into the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine (a crime in California that can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony). This bogus form of non-counseling comes from the un-trained Jay Adams and his books. It should be called what it is: malpractice. Examples of the GBF pastors/elders doing this: not getting an older woman alcoholic to the care of a physician to supervise her treatment and spending months with members discussing “gossip” and drawing pictures on the blackboard. In the end this woman, her adult children, and church members were harmed.

    Additionally, the GBFSV pastors/elders held me responsible for the genetically inherited brain disorder – Dyslexia – of a woman church member who refuses medical care. She can’t remember entire events and accuses other people like me of lying. Dyslexia isn’t just a reading problem but a memory problem involving short-term memory problems, working memory problems, and auditory memory problems.

    Excommunications/Shunnings/Stalking. A godly woman left GBF for a saner church and was harassed by church members on the orders of the GBF pastors/elders. A godly doctor was excommunicated for dissenting in private. I was excommunicated because the GBF pastors/elders blamed me for someone’s memory problems. A truly bizarre church!!!

    *Credentials. Snr pstr’s *Ph.D*. is from a MO. diploma mill.

    GETTING OUT: Don’t tell them. Send a certified/return receipt letter & resign, no details. Call 911 and contact an attorney if they bother you. Read: Wartburg Watch blog for details.

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Women – call domestic violence shelters/support groups for help getting out. Call 9-1-1. Read: A Cry For Justice blog by pastor/cop.

    **************************
    I learned that I know more than I thought I did & I will never listen to authoritarian men again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As an argument for leaving churches, I agree in part, but also disagree.

      I agree with the need to get out from being under authoritarian elders, no to heavy shepherding! But it is not right to reject shepherding altogether, there is a submission of younger to elder. You could be misunderstood as denying this.

      Agree about not signing membership covenants absolutely. Nor is there an obligation to tithe.

      Nouthetic counselling – OK with dealing with sin, debatable about mental illness. Adams is controversial I think sometimes because he puts his finger on things we would rather not face. Sinful reactions to others sinning against us is a good example. He mustn’t become another bible. He mustn’t become a substitute for going to the doctor with genuine medical problems.

      I’m not going into the details of complementarianism except to say your argument about why women mustn’t teach is very weak, doesn’t really make sense. Much worse – and I always stick up for translators – is claiming bible versions have been manipulated by men. That flies in the face of the enormous effort put into virtually all translations to ensure personal prejudice or denominational distinctives do not find their way into the text, although I will agree that traditional renditionings are not sacrosanct or never up for discussion, but in my own reading on this I have rarely found the problem is actually with the translation. I have read an egalitarian paraphrase of Paul that basically makes the text say the opposite of what it actually says!

      Grudem and ESS – no real opinion on this except heresy is too strong.

      Excommunication and shunning seem to be to be way over the top when it comes to members leaving churches unless for the most serious kind of sin of their own. What the bible calls sin, not the elders! There is a command ‘not to associate’ with Christians who are living in blatant disobedience, not the same as shunning, but nevertheless there is a need not to carry on as though everything is OK. You might be misunderstood as denying this.

      All of this to say in dealing with why people sometimes come out of churches there is a very real need to careful how this is explained, in particular to ensure any sins on the part of those leaving are not denied by only ever pointing the finger at the elders. I’ve seen so much of this in blogdom over the last couple of years it has made me highly skeptical of many of the claims of abuse made – and believe me, I do know it happens. It is most counterproductive in challenging elders who badly need to change and don’t want to face the damage they may have done.

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  9. Well, I didn’t get far in the article yet but right off I’d like to know, exactly where does the Bible say we will have to give an account for leaving a church? I must have missed that in 40 years of reading the Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just want to give a perspective on people leaving “quickly” and “graciously.”

    The first church I attended as a young woman was unhealthy at heart but it was not obvious. As the church grew, the pastor became more and more out of control. It got to the point of bad spiritual abuse. Finally, the day I walked out vowing never to return, it struck me that there were so many older, mature Christians from the early days that I had not seen in a long, long time. They had been disappearing quietly, leaving us newer believers to suffer our fate, which was bad. After I left that church, it continued to go down the tubes. The pastor and some of the members were eventually jailed for committing a crime. I was glad I left before things went downhill to that point but I wished I had had some warning from those older believers who had walked with the Lord a long time, who saw danger and removed themselves. I told myself I would keep tabs on the mature believers in a church after that, and if I saw them start disappearing, I would take heed.

    I wonder what the Lord thinks about this. Is it more important to be gracious to a church that has serious problems or more important to protect younger believers who have no idea just how toxic churches can get.

    Liked by 2 people

    • @shy1

      “Finally, the day I walked out vowing never to return, it struck me that there were so many older, mature Christians from the early days that I had not seen in a long, long time.”

      Great observation!

      “They had been disappearing quietly, leaving us newer believers to suffer our fate, which was bad. […] I wished I had had some warning from those older believers who had walked with the Lord a long time, who saw danger and removed themselves.”

      THIS!!!! THIS!!!!!
      THIS is why one shouldn’t just slink away if there are real issues. THIS is how what I call “Bill Cosby syndrome” (where more good people get hurt because good people don’t SPEAK UP) happens.

      “I told myself I would keep tabs on the mature believers in a church after that, and if I saw them start disappearing, I would take heed.”

      There’s a LOT of wisdom there. I hadn’t thought of that before. I’ve seen this kind of situation portrayed as, “old stubborn stick-in-the-mud people who want things their way not going with the program/times bailing out”.

      There’s something to be said for maturity, wisdom, and discernment.

      Thanks for these observations. Very astute. Blessings.

      Liked by 2 people

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