Friday, May 10, 2013

My Old Church is Repeating History

One of my biggest beefs with my old church was they never acknowledged the spiritual abuse that went on there in my youth group days. Sure they confronted the youth pastor when most of the male students with balls dropped out but they just agreed with him and said we were sinners. So the situation was swept under the rug and nothing changed except for the old youth pastor moving on eventually.
Fast forward 20+ years and the same potentially abusive scenario is emerging in the church as a whole. First it started with a switch to elder board rule, then they paid for a person from the congregation to go to seminary and who came back a new Calvinist. Now that he is installed as pastor, he is hiring either youth who were under him or buddies from seminary into 3 pastoral jobs already in less than a 2 years.
Most recently there has been a push to get people to sign up to be covenant members. This is so you can sign an agreement subjecting yourself to church discipline and their control. The sermons the last two weeks have referred to the congregation as sheep and the elder board as the shepherds.
In my youth group days they used a curriculum called Sonlife I think. I went to a seminar about the program and saw how they stratified the youth group and had an elite group called the "ministry team". To get on the ministry team you had to kiss the youth pastors ass and tell on the other members of the group when they were sinning. This allowed him to guilt trip us during the prayer times and give an illusion of control. I was stubborn and tested the the theory and got in the out group that was encouraged to leave in this system. This was nothing about following Christ it was about control.
Today I fear,  the elder board is the new ministry team or the brown shirts during the early days of the third reich. I see the exact same system being played out again as an adult that was done in my youth group days. I saw the signs early and they troubled me so much I jettisoned my faith for a year and left that church about 2 years ago.
I see now I was reacting to the past repeating itself again and went into a protection mode. I am glad now we left that church and worry for those left behind. Most of the people won't mind and enjoy the absolute certainty these authoritarian systems being. But there will be people like me that are there currently that will have bad experiences like I did and I feel sorry for them. I have tried to tell one of the pastors I am friends with if anybody falls through the cracks there gibe them my number but I doubt that will ever happen.
This church by not seeing and dealing with the past is potentially rolling out the same problem again on a larger scale. I was never anybody there to speak up and prevent or make change. Leaving was the only option for my family and it was the right one. Yuck is all I can say to wrap things up.

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