When one leaves an unhealthy church, how they are treated sometimes depends upon how those who remain perceive it.
If you are only seen as struggling in an area or being influenced by someone else, then your exit may be looked at in a more positive light. People may keep in touch, invite you to church services and functions, and the pastor may even encourage this.
If you are viewed as rebellious or no longer believing some of their teachings, you will be seen in a poor light, probably talked about more, and avoided or shunned. Some controlling pastors will tell church members to not have anything to do with you.
I remember leaving my former church for a few months before I left for good. I had been going through a rough time, had returned from being in charge of a church to a huge difference at my home church and had broken things off with my fiancé, which was very hard emotionally. During this time I was contacted by numerous members through mail and phone.
When I left for good a couple years later, there was very little contact from anyone. Some months after I left, the pastor told everyone to turn off any recording devices during a service and he said some things about me. To this day I do not know what was said. He called other pastors from the same organization to ‘warn’ them about me. Various negative rumors circulated. I was definitely seen as bad and on my way to the hot place.
Yet when I left, I caused no problems and didn’t run around trying to pull anyone out with me. My leaving was done quietly and in a way to not bring unnecessary attention to it. But what triggered them to later turn on me, because the first several months after my exit there were no rumors or warnings?
I had been putting together a paper, mainly for my own studies, refuting their teaching of women not being permitted to cut their hair. A current member, who was a close friend, told the pastor about it after a harsh sermon he gave on hair. Only a very few had seen it and that was by their request after I had left.
How those at your former church perceive your exit may well influence how you are treated. Don’t expect many friendships to remain if you are seen as questioning or going against any teaching. The campaign against you by unhealthy leadership will intensify in an effort to keep current members in ‘the truth’ and away from you.
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?