You leave an unhealthy or abusive church but are thinking of remaining within the same religious organization. You don’t question the main doctrine or perhaps believe you can help bring change from within. You haven’t done anything wrong, but are no longer in agreement on an issue or teaching.
Sometimes pastors take it upon themselves to call around to other area pastors within their organization, to ‘warn’ them about you. I know firsthand as it happened to me. I went to see a neighboring pastor, to decide if I might attend there, and he informed me that my former pastor had called with a warning concerning me. (He would have been fine with me becoming a member, though I decided that I could no longer attend these churches due to my changed beliefs.)
It is funny how some pastors, who feel that salvation isn’t found much outside their organization, will feel it is right to try and block a person from attending another church with their same ‘truth.’ Apparently they want them to be lost. Isn’t that really what they are saying with their actions? Or perhaps they are trying to force them to come back on their knees, begging to return. If so, that is pathetic, controlling, manipulative and sick. In the years since I left, I have heard numerous people share that their former pastor warned other pastors about them. (Another thing, that goes along with this, are pastors sometimes telling current members to have no contact with the person who left.)
If the pastor who is being warned is anything like the one doing the warning, then you will be told you are not welcome. They probably won’t even give you a chance to explain why you left. If they are not, you may have an opportunity to attend. There is a chance you could be welcomed openly, but there is more of a chance that you will be closely watched and not trusted, nor allowed to become involved. You may have to go through months of this before being fully accepted, that is if you don’t somehow ‘mess up’ in the meantime.
Should you find yourself in this place and not openly welcomed, you may want to consider the possibility that your reasons for leaving may not just be a local church issue (this is initially what I thought) and that there may be more wrong with the actual group than you thought. People are not owned by the church they attend, nor the pastor of it. And if someone is trying to keep you outside the walls of ‘truth,’ then perhaps that truth isn’t really what it is claimed to be.
If your church feels they have some special truth that the majority of people do not have, wouldn’t it be more fitting to do everything they can to reach out to you, even if they believe you are in sin or rebellion? Isn’t it better that you are saved, than cast aside and doomed for all eternity? From the actions of some, you wouldn’t think so!
In the United Pentecostal Church, no pastor is supposed to allow you to join their church without a letter of transfer from your former UPC pastor. This link on letters of transfer within the UPC may prove helpful as some pastors have wrongfully withheld it.
Many have attempted to change an unhealthy group from within and most are unsuccessful. These groups are often set up in a manner that is not open to the average member being able to bring about change. In some it is impossible. It is better to look to your own spiritual well being and pray for those yet within, than to remain in a system which may further hurt your spiritual walk.
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #1: You and Those Who Remain
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #2: Anything You Say Can, And Will, Be Used Against You
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #3: Why It May Be Important To Resign Your Membership
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #4: Remaining in the Same Organization
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #5: Don’t Listen To The Gossip
Leaving an Unhealthy Church #6: How You Are Treated
Leaving an Unhealthy Church #7: It Happens To Ministers, Too
Leaving an Unhealthy Church #8: The Way Of The Transgressor Is Hard!
Leaving an Unhealthy Church #9: Some Must Return To Remember Why They Left
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #10: Sorting Through The Teachings
Leaving an Unhealthy Church #11: Confusion & Not Knowing Who or What to Believe
Leaving An Unhealthy Church #12: Can I Go To A Church Where I Don’t Agree With Everything?