Someone in an unhealthy church may ask a question like this:
Why did God find me in a UPC church if the teachings are wrong? What is so wrong now that was not wrong then? Why after all of these years do I have questions that rock the foundation of everything I have been taught and believe?
In responding, I could counter with, did God actually find you in a United Pentecostal Church? God was drawing you to Himself well before you stepped foot in a church. The type of church doesn’t matter. Where you were when you opened your heart to God doesn’t matter. It really has no bearing on you and God as our walk is a one-on-one relationship with Him. God could have just as easily met with you in a vacant field or a hot desert. See what I mean?
When we first come to God, we are overjoyed. We want to do anything and everything. We are not looking for things that may be wrong. We may have little to no knowledge of the Bible to know how to discern between true and false teachings. We aren’t expecting to be taught things which are not true.
So, did your church change? Was it different in the beginning? My guess is no. But your perception of it has changed. You are no longer in the beginning happy stages, ready to do anything without question that ones in leadership ask. You’ve now matured. You’ve gained knowledge. You think more critically.
When someone in an unhealthy church starts to question teachings, no matter what they may be, it often does feel like their foundation is being shaken- and in reality, it is. Yet if your foundation is based upon man’s imaginings, then you need it to be shaken, even though it doesn’t feel very good and can be quite scary.
I have found through my own experience, as well as listening to a great many people who have left the UPC or other Apostolic churches, that God often uses some incident to cause the person to start to look objectively into a matter. What that something is varies greatly. It may or may not have anything directly to do with the teachings themselves.
For me, it started when I helped at the church run daycare for the second time. Events that happened over several months helped cause me to feel that if things didn’t change, I’d be leaving the church.
I ended up voluntarily resigning my teaching position at the end of the summer program and went away for a few weeks and spent some time with UPC friends in the ministry, who knew how things could be at the church. (It has often helped me to go away somewhere while thinking things over.)
When I returned, I heard all kinds of things about a tape recording that the pastor played in a Thursday evening service. It was a Christian radio broadcast on spiritual abuse. The two guests were former members of the church. They didn’t mention the church name or any person in the church. His stated reason for playing it was so members could see what was being said about the church.
I asked to borrow the tape and found that my reaction was not what I had seen in others. I saw some truth to what they shared, though I didn’t agree with everything. Sometimes you have to have things happen directly to you in order to wake up.
I made a copy of the tape and took another trip to a couple who had left the church previously. While they listened to the tape, it was obvious the whole thing was difficult for me. It was painful to start realizing abuses that had taken place in my church and that the pastor played a part in some of it. If you were there, you would have found me pacing back and forth while they sat and listened, making occasional comments.
After my return home, I met with one of the daughters of the pastor and her husband, who had also left. That was an eye opener, too. PKs tend to see and hear many things.
From there I started to attend services less and also looked into the uncut hair issue for women. It wasn’t very long before I knew I could no longer remain. It got to a place where it didn’t even feel like my church anymore. After being a loyal member for almost 13 years, that was an odd feeling, indeed.
For me, my start into seriously questioning things was working in the daycare. I saw people do things against state rules. I was told by the pastor to lie if anyone from the state came when his daughter wasn’t there. (There was supposed to be a certain person there, with college credits, while we were open.) I got a first hand experience of what some others had gone through before me. It had nothing to do with the church teachings at first. I believe God used a series of incidents to start to remove me from an unhealthy church environment and erroneous teachings.