I’ve been thinking about why we bring up problems. Why do we, people, human beings, bring up issues? There are a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s to cause a disturbance, to upset people. Sometimes bringing up a problem is hoping to restore Truth in your life, as it has in mine. Christ is clear that ignoring problems is not the way to go. There is a way to go about dealing with them. And even if that way is followed, that does not guarantee that the problem will get resolved. I have some dear friends I left in an unhealthy situation. Before I left I asked some very important questions and because I was questioning a leader’s doctrine it was not taken well.
I realized that my time with the group equated to either being yelled at or scolded for asking questions, or if I chose to agree with everything going on, it was more of a fraternity-like atmosphere. When I was a part of the “fraternity” it was grand. But when plans were made and people who called themselves “core” people got together to discuss things, I felt left out. It was that way for many of us, but people were terrified to speak up. When I left I learned that the group had taken on a very cult-like atmosphere. Members who kept in touch with us said it got worse. Because of my experience I am going to list the signs of an unhealthy, possibly cult-like group. When a foundation is laid on Christ, not a model of church or a set of “ways” we do things, the church is not a cult. The thing is, all churches think theirs is founded on Christ. I thought mine was and we called everything “Christ” and we inserted the word “Christ” into every sentence and it made everything seem like it was filled with Christ. Don’t be fooled, many will say His name and He will say I never knew you. That was one of the main things which kept me from seeing what I was really a part of.
Here’s a practical list of cult characteristics and/or things you don’t have to do in order to be a part of the church. They are lies from the pit of hell that distract us from Christ and what He wants. What’s my motive? I was helped. I love the Lord Jesus more than anything and I’ve been apologizing to Him over and over again. I want to share in light of what I’ve learned. I want to be a light to others because He gave me light. I am certain that none of my old friends read my blog, but if they do I hope that they would begin to see the Truth for who He is.
~ Me, you, and anyone else who loves the Lord does not have to “move” to be a part of the church. If you choose not to move and are called a “visitor”, it’s not a healthy place you want to move to anyway.
~ I recently learned that spiritual abuse is when you are not to talk about any problems in the church. When we were on the fence about leaving after another woman in the church showed me a list of cult characteristics, I noticed some things. I noticed we were getting a little too hung up on a list of 12 points a leader drew up, that weren’t true to begin with. We were beginning to center everything around them, including games we played, advice we gave to people in crisis, and saying these things over and over again. I asked about why these 12 truths were so important to us and if maybe we weren’t relying on them too much. Two people were understanding. Everyone else was either quiet or took it personally. I was reminded that it was a leader who came up with these and they were not all from the Bible. We left the church that day and my husband began the process of getting us the hell out of there.
~Any group which does not have accountability outside of themselves can get dangerous. That was our worry from the beginning. I later learned that the leaders had engaged in some serious sin, and there was a cover-up. Everyone has sin in their lives, but the lying, cover up, and guru-like behavior from them was just too much. We are to be transparent. I stopped thinking that anything they said had merit after I found out about the cover-up and betrayal. The workers had decided to stay away from the group for a year and let it function “under Christ” (which ended up being the louder, more demanding folks who often wouldn’t listen to wisdom, even when coming from a founding member). They said to only contact them if anyone came to the group and said anything negative about them, among a few other things, like divorce in the group. Saying a negative word about the leaders was likened to the seriousness of divorce. It sounded funny then and it does now. I may actually get threatened for this… another sign of a cult. I don’t answer phone calls from a certain area code unless I have a witness or a recorder, due to previous threats.
~We were discouraged from reading other authors. Other leaders and men of God were talked about in a negative light. Other churches were also shed in a bad light and we were told to stay away from them, even if they were healthy and God-loving, God-worshipping groups. Other men and groups were judged harshly. Even sayings, such as “spot on” were not cool for us to say. The workers told us how to pray and practically made fun of those who prayed differently than us. We were supposedly under the control of Christ, but the workers controlled what we did more that Christ.
~The real kicker was when a speaker was brought in and spoke for an hour on why the Bible was not as important as others say it is. He talked about the first Christians not having access to the Bible, therefore we don’t need it.
~This falls under the love-bombing, instant friendship heading, copied from Intro to Cults 101…
“Potential convert is convinced of the higher purpose within the special group.
Everyone is manipulating everyone, under the belief that it advances the “ultimate purpose.”
Experiences are engineered to appear to be spontaneous, when, in fact, they are contrived to have a deliberate effect.
People mistakenly attribute their experiences to spiritual causes when, in fact, they are concocted by human beings.”
~No group is the right group or the best. So many times I heard the members say that we are not better than anyone else, but we are doing “this” because we know the Lord wants us to do it this way. We had no clue what the Lord wants. What we were doing was found no where in the Bible.
The final point I want to make in this post is that there are going to be charismatic people who go off the deep end. People who don’t believe in medicine. People who think depression is a sign of “not looking at the Lord enough”. People with mental illness, in a group with no accountability and “elders” who discourage medicine, can cause some major damage. I held back tears and actually felt scared because I was yelled at by one particular “elder” sister when I brought up that certain Sisters were feeling left out from the clique within the Sisterhood. It seemed like the Sisters who did what they were told were “in” and the rest of us could only quietly talk about feeling alone and left out. A person with a mood disorder or medical issue who does not get help, medical or not, is going to suffer. I have a chronic pain issue, severe pain constantly. I went through a horrible withdrawal in order to get off the meds and trust that Christ would heal me. He never did and I didn’t leave the house for months, until I went back on my medicine and got my life back. The only thing was, I had to hide it from everyone because the meds were a big no-no. When I mentioned I was having extreme manic-depressive episodes and that I needed meds, I was counseled to not take medicine and just look to Christ. Just looking to Christ led me to feel suicidal. I began writing good-bye letters to my children late one night. The next day I talked to my husband and went back on my medicine. I have not felt suicidal since. The Lord makes medicine and it’s okay to use it when the body does not function properly… another sign we are not complete and healed yet. I am a Christian and I am certainly not healed yet.
This is just the beginning. I have met many people in the last several weeks who have been a part of the same group, under the same leaders, at different points in time. They made it out scarred, but good. It is extremely helpful to have the support. I went from having a “family” who loved me with “Christ’s love” and would stay in touch and said they wanted to throw us a good-bye party… to being shunned. Literally. The families who got a good-bye party were the ones who left because of “work” or other reasons, but not anyone who was honest about leaving because the health of the church was failing. We threw our own because we did want to keep in touch with these people and felt no anger towards them; we were just headed in a different direction. Several Brothers came and two or three Sisters showed up… in a group of 60+ members. Apparently more proof for me that those in the group are not the completeness of Christ. We are still broken men in need of a Saviour… we are not complete yet, otherwise we would have no need for Christ.
I love the Lord and I love His church. If you are reading this and have never been a part of a cult-like group, you may think that it could never happen to you. I thought the same thing. Please stay aware. There ARE wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Lord says so. I have met them and I know who He was talking about. What’s my motivation for writing this? It’s to share, it’s for personal growth and it’s also so others may be comforted, awakened, and on guard. My motivation comes from loving my Lord. I have apologized to Him so much over this, being led astray. I am so sorry for believing the lies after all He’s done for me. This is for Him. This blog and this post is for Him. That’s my motivation.
Thank you for reading and have a great week!