One of the main reasons I left the IC was due to the incredible amount of hypocrisy and double standard I saw amongst the pastors and leaders. I always believed that those who were pastors were "appointed by God" to lead the sheep in a tender loving way, full of honesty, and held to a higher standard. That view changed dramatically as I saw the full extent of the corruption and dishonesty within the church pastorate. I begin to see a pastoral immunity amongst the other pastors that made me sick to my stomach. I'm sure my experience is a bit more extreme than most, in fact in speaking with people who have left the IC I've never heard a story quite as horrific as ours was!
When we went through the beginning throws of being removed from leadership an "area pastor" of the denomination we belonged to came to our town to try to help settle the issues at hand. He accused us of "touching God's anointed", (not the first time this phrase had been hurled at us), and that God would judge us for it. Each side expressed their feelings, and the entire leadership team had completely turned against us - we stood alone. Things I had told others in confidence were spoken publicly, and everyone had been "hurt" by us in one way or another. At the end of the meeting the area pastor told us that neither side had offered an apology. Out of that entire meeting I have to say that is the one thing he said that I feel was led by God. My husband was the only one who admitted to any wrong, and he apologized. He showed more humility than the entire leadership team and pastors. One person on the team apologized, but the pastors gave the "We're sorry if we did anything wrong" apology which we all know is NOT an apology.
Later on my husband corresponded with the area pastoral leader in depth. He showed him e-mails from the pastors who had mistreated us, and to our shock the area pastor supported the other pastor at every turn. I began to see that the supposed "pastoral accountability" I had been led to believe existed for so long was all a farce. That was the moment where my trust in the system was lost forever. We were in a position where we had no one in the Christian community who would stand up for us. It was our word against the pastoral institution - and there was no way in the world we would ever win against it because the pastors word is always "God's word" as we all know. Not only that, but the church we currently attended didn't want to see the evidence of what the leadership had done to us. They said , "We're here for you guys", but when the dust settled from the situation they wanted to charge us counseling fees for any further discussions. We found out that the church we were in the midst of leaving had put pressure on our current pastor and had instructed him in how to deal with us. It was a border line threat honestly, very ugly indeed. The pastor had a young church, and if he had gone against the other pastor's instructions much damage would have been done to that church's reputation, etc. I am sure. Hard to believe that this is the kind of control pastors have on people, isn't it?
It became clear that the powers that be had banded together against us. Some in leadership claimed that they had "been through it" because of us. What?!! They weren't the ones who lost their jobs, community, home, lives....they weren't the ones who had become ostracized from the entire local church community. They had the full support of everyone around them, but it became obvious that they were the victims and we were, of course, the enemy. Any hurt that happened in our lives was due us - it was all God's judgement. There was no way we could have heard from God regarding the decisions we had made! Who decided this? The pastors of course since they're the only ones God speaks to obviously. Those in leadership under them refused to speak to us. There were numerous times, (too many to count), that we tried to reason with them, but to no avail. These people were my friends...I can't begin to describe how hard it was to see them continue on in the system knowing the hurt and pain it would cause them. But I had to let that burden go or it would have eaten me alive.
I've wanted to write this post for a long time. I was held back though because I was still connected to the system, and were I to have told the truth of what really went on I would have received judgement and ridicule. I've asked myself many times, is it ok to tell the truth of what really went on behind closed doors....away from the happy clueless church people? The church instills this fear in you about criticizing leadership. It is the next worse sin besides homosexuality. But what this does is creates a safety net for pastors and clergy in which they become immune to correction and accountability. They all know they have each others backs, no matter what. Nobody will challenge the system most likely, and if they do, guess what?...they're labeled as sinful and disobedient. There is no way you can win against this people!!
We found out later that the pastors of the church who kicked us out had actually gone to other pastors in the area and told their side, how they had been through SO much because of us. We didn't know most of these pastors mind you. So if anyone in their congregations came to them with complaints about the pastors, then guess what the answer would be?? "Well, they did horrible things to the pastors at X church. They're horrible people, it's all them, believe me." Then the lie is perpetuated, on and on.
I personally don't believe the system is redeemable. The corruption and disease that lies within it has rotted to the point of no return. Does this mean that every person there is beyond redeeming? No. But the hierarchical system will always fail. When someone is set in total authority above everyone else, (and God), they will fail. God never created people to be in this place! Jesus is the only one who has the right to be there. Yet people claim up and down that Jesus is the ultimate authority in their lives, not man. They have convinced themselves that this is the truth. But when it really comes down to it, who will they serve? I realized that I had convinced myself of it as well. It took God yanking me out of the system, allowing me to go through the deepest pain, rejection, and betrayal, to realize it. I honestly think if this hadn't happened I would still be in the system today. I am forever grateful to God for taking me out of it.
Thousands upon thousands are leaving the church daily. According to the George Barna group, (who have polled thousands who have left the IC), the main reason people cite is abuse by pastors and leaders. I believe God is exposing what has been going on for generations. He's not allowing man to take His place any longer. The scales are being removed from people's eyes finally. I'm a rebel, a revolutionary, a history maker. I refuse to partake in a system that is wrought with corruption and injustice. I've left an entire Christian community because I refuse to compromise. As time wears on I find the tiny tentacles of connections I have with the IC evaporating. People can't relate to me, and as time goes on I can't relate to them. My identity continues to morph and I try to find my way in this strange new place. It's a place of uncertainty at times, yet it is a place of incredible freedom and joy as well. I see Jesus grace and love more than ever before. He isn't who I thought He was, who they had made Him out to be. In the midst of all of this I find forgiveness and healing....it's a great mystery. I can reach out and love those who crushed me. I can hear their continually hurtful judgmental words toward me and feel peace and freedom.