Posted November 25th, 2011 at 09:16 AM by Lois
When one leaves an unhealthy church, how they are treated sometimes depends on how those who remain perceive it.
If you are viewed as rebellious or no longer believing some teachings, you will be seen in a poor light, probably talked about more, and avoided or shunned. Some controlling pastors will even tell church members to not have anything to do with you.
If you are only seen as struggling or being influenced by someone else, then you 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.
I remember when I left my former church for a few months. I had been going through a rough period, had returned from being in charge of a church to a huge difference there and had broken things off with my fiance, which was very hard emotionally. I was contacted by numerous current members through mail and phone.
But when I left for good a couple years later, there was very little contact from anyone there. Some months after I left, during a service the pastor told everyone to turn off any recording devices 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 rumors circulated. I was definitely seen as bad and no longer saved.
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 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 him about this 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.
So 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 any teaching. The campaign against you by unhealthy leadership will intensify in an effort to keep current members in "the truth."