Two Non-Denominational Church Experiences
I just wanted you to know what a blessing your site is. It is such a wonderful feeling to finally know I am not the only one who has been hurt by UPC-type churches. May I share 2 stories of spiritual abuse by UPC-type churches?
I attended 2 non-denom churches who operate much like UPCs, one run by the Pastor and his wife, and the other run in a very legalistic manner, with favoritism towards some.
The first church's pastor did not answer to a board but only God alone. He demanded people do as he wants, was manipulative, and had an explosive temper. His wife gossiped about everyone there and secretly still runs the church and even the Pastor.
I was on their praise & worship team for 2 years and the Lord used us in many ways. However we literally performed the same worship songs over and over for 2 solid years. I had to literally pray for new songs to be added and they were...but we stuck to doing the same songs every weekend. The pastor, who was guitar player on the worship team, refused to hold practices and often tried to "compete" against me for attention, drowning out my keyboard playing by turning up the volume on his guitar so he could be heard better.
The Lord tried to expand my music ministry there but the pastor would not allow this. The pastor told me he would let me sing songs God gave me but every time I tried to add one to the worship, it never got thru, but if the pastor was given songs by God or wrote a song, it was immediately added to the worship set. The pastor lied and made false promises to me, in an effort to keep me from leaving. He never allowed the Holy Spirit to move much. The church's attendance never got above 10 people and often only 6 showed up including myself, pastor and the wife.
When the Lord tried to bring the church to a higher level in Him, the pastor resisted fiercely. Shortly after that, the Lord showed me horrible things going on in that church including demonic spirits present in the pastor, his wife and one of the staff, and reasons behind the church's lack of growth.
I left that church to attend another one at the suggestion of another member, an elder who was thrown out and denounced in the middle of a worship service. I thought at first this was the Lord as they needed someone to help with morning praise & worship. I was told by this elder he had spoken with the pastor of this 2nd church and told me the pastor knew about me, my background, experience, etc. I was told he was aware of my spiritual gifts and interested in using me for worship services. Instead I got a rude awakening.
The pastor instead treated me like an outcast and rebel, scolding me for speaking against my former pastor, saying I should try to understand what he is doing. He refused to listen to any negative talk against the other pastor. He dismissed my experience on the former church's worship team as worthless and unimportant. He refused to let me explain anything and even more vehemently refused to let me use my spiritual gifts of music, stating he didn't know me or where I came from, which IMO was untrue. He informed me I must prove my "faithfulness to the church through the giving of my time and my tithe".
As I tried to measure up and meet the church's demands, I found myself being unable to attend regularly due to working late some nights. I kept trying to get them to give me a chance to help them with the morning worship but was flatly turned down and accused of "lusting after" or "walking in" the flesh. I was even told by one member I should ask for the Lord to "take the desire to sing out of your heart."
When I didn't attend services and events as "faithfully" as other members thought I should, they began making accusations at me regarding my spiritual walk. I later saw that they really saw me as a troublemaker, rebel, and backslider. I realized and knew in my heart I would never be able to meet the church's strict requirements for service in a ministry.
I ended up leaving secretly. Shortly afterward, unsure if I was truly listening to God, the Lord reassured me I was and that this was not where He wanted me. A few months later, He confirmed this via others leaving the church for the same reasons I did. Some of those who had previously attacked me and my decisions later repented and asked forgiveness.
This pastor continues to lie, control, and in some cases spiritually abuse people in an effort to keep things under his control. The Holy Spirit continues to be bridled there and there are only a handful of people attending.
God has now led me to a place where participation is encouraged and it is a real blessing. They are open to the Holy Spirit's guidance and the services are better than anywhere I've attended in a long time. Praise the Lord!
Sorry this is so long but I thank you for reading and letting me share. Please let folks know there are churches that operate much like UPCs that are just as spiritually abusive as they are. Thank you!
If you choose to put this up, please don't include my name.
Love in Christ & prayers,
Posted March 4, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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