View Full Version : What makes it better?
11-07-2004, 02:39 PM
I was wondering...for those who don't like going back to church after their abuse experience...what would make it better? What things would you like to see that would make it easier for you to go (if you wanted to)?
1. No more "band-aid" answers for "broken heart" problems.
2. No more minimalizing or marginalizing of experiences
3. An allowance for "PROCESS"...things take time
4. Genuine support...true friends...not "let's do lunch" types
5. An adherance to and respect for good boundaries
What do you all think?
11-07-2004, 03:01 PM
Good list - I like it. Bottom line for me would be a simple, heart-felt apology for the way I have been treated. I saw the senior pastor on Friday. I had a meeting at the church (a non-church-related meeting, just using the facility) and while I was talking to someone, he came past, paused, placed his hand on my back for a few seconds, then patted my arm and sped off. I really didn't have time to acknowledge his presence - it was such a fleeting thing. I have no idea what it was intended to convey - I can't remember the last time he approached me - I almost always have had to ask for his attention - except when he wants to tell me what a bad person I am. All I really want is an apology and if he wanted to extend one, he knows where to find me. I think he only approached me on Friday because he had an audience. Otherwise, he would have done so long before now. If confronted about it, though, I'm sure he would say that he was waiting to see me in person. Funny how he can come out smelling like a rose in any situation.
11-07-2004, 10:49 PM
List was great. Hard to top. Good job :)
11-08-2004, 04:49 PM
I think a small non-judgemental group would make it good for me. I'm not at all interested in going back into large services. I truly would rather not even be affiliated with the politics of a large church. Just a small quiet group of friends who reserved judgement and shared personal experience.
11-08-2004, 07:57 PM
Florence...were you referring to going back to your old church? What about to a new church? What would make you interested in going to a new church?
Willow...you mean a small group of friends that gets together to talk about God? Or, do you mean a small church? If a small church - how large?
I understand what you mean about politics, though! Whew.
11-08-2004, 09:29 PM
I think a small non-judgemental group would make it good for me.
Me too, Willow. I wish I could find a church that didn't have a hierarchy. No bosses and servants. Just servants. Just friends. Just true relationships not bound by performance. People who care for one another, who support one another. People who can pool their talents. When one person doesn't have the skill, another one who does is there to offer it.
The only way to make something like this work is when there is a democracy. But too many churches say "The church is not a democracy" and they turn it into a dicatorship. Dictatorships always end up in abuse and/or failure. Someone always gets scapegoated. There are always winners and losers.
That's not what the church should be like.
11-08-2004, 11:20 PM
I totally agree, Voyager... I have to admit, I feel like I found a church that is pretty close to what you're describing. Yeah, there's a pastor...but in his eyes, he's not "the big cheese"...we're ALL ministers/servants - and it's cool. I wish there were more well balanced places like this.
The thing to remember is...there ARE good places. Perfect? No. Never...not this side of Heaven, I'm sure...but good.
I do wonder, though...I believe the Word of God - and sometimes it's not always easy. Sometimes there ARE sacrifices we have to make - but they are usually tempered with joy or something that makes it worth it. Often, I get a sense that people who've left abusive churches believe that things should be the polar opposite of what they experienced...everyone should be perfect and nice...there should be no sacrifices required...nothing hard at all about walking with the Lord. However, just being human makes things hard - walking with the Lord is probably easier than living in life without Him...but it still isn't always roses...
I don't know...I just feel so sad that things have happened to people that have hurt them so much that they can't trust church any more. I TOTALLY understand why and am not judging...just feeling sorry that this vital place that can be so wonderful and supportive has been so abusive and demeaning that people flee...for good. I think we need to pray for the Lord to make more safe places for us...but He tends to do that best through us rather than just for us...so...I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know if we keep seeking, we'll find rest in Him. :0)
Thanks for sharing your comments, everyone.
11-08-2004, 11:58 PM
I am shocked that I found a church where the pastorate and the laity have quietly found their place in the kingdom. The senior pastor has a short fuse when it comes to legalism and religious experientialism. The denomination subscribes to have a visible witness. The members are not called, as the senior pastor puts it, "to corner a convert in the produce section with the gospel" but have a reason for the hope that is within when the occasion arises.
A class just finished on John Wesley. A point was made between the fine line of discipleship and accountability without tilting over into extreme legalism.
The history of the church writes and the staff openly confess of two major tragedies in the life of the church. One was where a pastor murdered his wife. They dealt with it, they grieved, they prayed. Counselors were brought to help out. It even comes up in new members class. There have been some major divisions. In response to one of the divisions was a sermon to the general conference entitled "last one out turn out the lights" The point was there are differences and controversies, but still a Lord who needs to be known. Last one out keep the lights on, we have work to do. [Evidently it had an impact. the bishop did not know what hit him]
I am having a heartening exchange with a co-worker. She is a beautiful gal, but very fragile at times. I can sense, like any codependent, a lot of hurt. I will NOT take her inventory. I will not coerce, preach, manipulate or anything remotely untoward. I was on both the sending and receiving end and it was not nice. I can let my light shine so she might get a glimpse of the hope that is within me. If that does not work, we will play checkers-- or I will keep my promise to buy her a latte.
The big challenge for this recovery codependent is not repeat the mistakes in shepherding and take the precepts of the denomination and be a positive influence in little corner I call --------- Church and with M______ at work. I was fearfully skeptical at first. As time has gone one it has had the makings of a Master Card commercial.
Like Ex-shep & Hannah, I also was led to a healthy church as many of you know. It is also not a perfect one yet tries to be as authentic as they can be. The leadership is open to trying new things and is not afraid to take a chance. I like that.
BBC is a very caring and nurturing church that I have healed in for the most part along with a few other x-wcg members. BBC is a larger church in this area noted for it's Community Outreach programs. It is very open-minded, not fearful of stepping out on faith and trying new innovative approaches to evangelism and helping in the community. We even discussed changing the name to Bramalea Community Church and taking Baptist out of the name so as to not put up a potentially additional barrier to some who might want to attend our church by identifying with a denomination. Perhaps some may have had a bad experience in a Baptist Church and others may have some baggage associated with the Baptist denomination. At any rate, the leadership here is about as good as it gets being real & genuine, caring for the needs of the church & community. Although they admit, they are not perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect church they still
try to keep improving things to make BBC better. I believe them and feel I can play a vital part in the process. I am very well known and liked in the church having been on the Evangelism Team for about three years before I started leading at Celebrate Recovery. I still keep in touch with the E-Team and help out where I can. I also served as a small group leader at our Alpha program.
What I like about a bigger church is being autonomous at times. I don't feel like everyone is looking at me and I can just blend in. There's an expression that the senior pastor likes to use, Making a Big church smaller. This involves the small groups that we have. Being part of a small group is what Willow & Voyager long for. I've never been part of a regular small group as I've always been involved in one group or another since I've been at BBC. It's only recently that I am going to start with one.
I didn't want to just start a regular one because of time and distance. I was also a bit leery of getting involved with some people that I may not like or get along with. I'm still very cautious about becoming too close to some people. I guess it's the internal radar I've developed. So I'm glad I finally found one that I feel relatively comfortable with. It's an extension of the Divorce Recovery program I took. Most of the people that attend it come from there and I got to know most of them relatively well.
It's the small groups that BBC is committed to that makes a Big church small. We all need a closer more intimate contact with fellow Christians and small groups affords that opportunity.
11-09-2004, 12:50 PM
In case anyone is interested where I attend. It is First United Methodist Church Dallas. I left a link for the website. They also have webcasts of previous services. I worship with the webcasts when work prevents me from attending. It is pledge time, so please do not be put off by the homepage. It has for one who suffered spiritual abuse a comforting corner. It is just one corner, but I like it
As always take what you like and leave the rest.
As I come to better understand the symptoms of the spiritual abuse syndrome, I wonder how much I victimized myself. After an extensive search, I found another church to attend and even changed denomination to do so. Even in what I now see as a warm, loving and welcoming parish, I had painful experiences that echoed the hurtfulness of the previous congregation. Those who experience spiritual abuse often have backgrounds of abuse, broken homes, etc. Although we may have left the site of spiritual abuse, the factors leading to that abuse remain. I had an entire session with my shrink yesterday on how the adult me makes up for the lack of parental love so essential to a child. He wasn't much help, but I think I'm on the right track here.
When I was an abused child, I thought everyone's parents beat them and belittled them. It never occurred to me that this was abuse and that it was wrong. I heard similar things from the battered women I worked with -- "e's a good man, I just make him mad" or "it's the alcohol." When I was being spiritually abused (and for some years later, but Paxil effects are a different forum), I didn't see it as an abuse situation, I saw it as my being unworthy of God's love and of a church family.
Until I started to recognize the syndrome, I continued to find each slight from a member of my new church home to be jsut one more indication that I was unworthy, etc., etc., etc.
What makes it better? Realizing that we are all ragamuggins (If you haven't read The Ragamuffin Gospel, do so immediately), all humans and sometimes goof-ups, but that God's love for us is unconditional and continual -- that makes it all better!
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