If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Is Your Church Healthy?
This is our contribution to the wealth of material available on the internet concerning spiritual abuse. The website was created during the year following our departure from a church in 2013, with subsequent minor updates.
Do you feel uncomfortable in your church? A sense that something is not right? Perhaps the atmosphere has become stifling and you feel that life is being squeezed out of you. You may not be able to discuss your misgivings, especially if they relate to concerns about figures of authority in the church because you sense that to do so would invite the charge of criticism. You may be aware that there is a powerful 'no-talk' rule, which silences all dissent and that any discussion of concerns with anyone would be considered gossip or an attempt to undermine the leadership.
If this reflects your experience, it is possible you are in an abusive church. This site identifies common characteristics of such groups and may help you see more clearly whether or not your church is healthy.
If, reading our experiences, you begin to suspect that your church is developing unhealthy tendencies (we didn't notice for many years) we encourage you to check out the links and resources available here. These include scholarly articles, links to blogs in which you can share your story and receive helpful feedback and a wealth of material which will help you in the exit and recovery process. Yes, if you are in an unhealthy environment, the best advice in most cases is to escape as soon as you can!
Destructive practices are possible in ANY organisation, whether its foundational doctrines are orthodox or not. In a church environment, wherever there are 'sheep' it is possible there is a 'wolf' close by. And shockingly, wolves are able to pass themselves off as caring shepherds! It's possible too, that some pastors start out with the very best intentions but , nevertheless, go on to develop symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder on account of their underlying insecurities.
Such cases are ultimately devastating for churches - sheep inevitably become food for the shepherd! Appearing to build God's Kingdom, it's possible for a Pastor, perhaps unwittingly, to build his own and eventually become a paranoid protector of that which he has come to control.
We had no idea that our own church, so wonderful in the early days, had within it the seeds of an abusive system. It took many years for it to surface and even more for us to see it.
So we encourage you to read our story, note the warning signs, compare it to your experience and hopefully arm yourself with the knowledge required to make some wise decisions.