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Post  guest on 20/02/10, 09:45 pm

When we first came to ccm, we were very excited. The pastor was obviously very sure of himself and his doctrine, and was a man who lived by his convictions. The prospect of a school where our children could receive training in how to please God was also a big draw. Even in those days, there were some things that niggled. Dirisive comments from the pulpit about other denominations were not uncommon, and the brashness of the teaching style seemed arrogant. People always seemed to treat the pastor like he was God as well. At church functions he seemed to always get the best of everything. We didn't like it, but what do we know, we said. This is a good place, we can handle a few things we don't agree with. We quickly found ourselves habitually going the other way when we saw the pastor coming - much in the same way you might if you saw a high authority figure that you felt intimidated by - this was our "pastor?". This started a kind of unhealthy feeling of being second rate, 'less than' christians, who had to present a certain face to the leadership. I don't say that this was reality, but it was certainly our reality. We wanted to please God above all else, and would continually put our own feelings aside in our efforts to do do what was right in the context of ccm.
As time went on, we struggled. Why were we told what to read and not read? Why did we not feel that we could be ourselves and still be accepted? Why did we feel pressured to uphold standards of dress, of relationships, of speech and conduct about which we held no conviction? As our children became teenagers, a new struggle emerged: who would be the most important voice in their lives? We began to let our own authority go because we could see that our children were conflicted. They loved us, but felt that we weren't really quite as spiritual as the leaders and therefore not really trustworthy. Our own response was to let leaders kind of take over for us. We do not blame anyone for that, but we were seeing the fruit of a perverted system taking its toll on our family.
In the few years before we left, we were bothered more and more about things that were said over the pulpit about people. People we knew and loved and had served with. About their rebellion, or their poisonous attitudes, or the fact that they claimed they were hurt, when they had no grounds for hurt. The most incredible statement was the one made over the pulpit and to us in private counselling sessions, that "we (leaders) do not hurt people." What???? How can anyone make such an unequivocal statement? If people say you have hurt them, than you have, even if your intent was otherwise. Whenever we tried to address what we considered legitimate issues, we were told we had no right or no, let me rephrase, we were told we could as long as we 'made progress' and 'progress' meant thinking like the leaders did on all counts. The man of God hears from God, and the only correction he receives is from God himself or (supposedly) the man to whom he is submitted.
For awhile, our attitude was, "Well, there are no perfect churches. Think of all the good things we have going here. Think of all the years of our lives invested. Think of the people we could potentially hurt by leaving. We really should stay, suck it up, keep our mouths shut, and hope for the best." Then we began hearing sermon after sermon about agreement. About lining ourselves up with leadership. There was even one sermon when the minister talked about leadership's reponsibility to determine the culture of the church, what you read and listen to, who you associate with and what you wear and how much you attend. With these sermons came increased demands for unprecedented loyalty. Ultimately, we came to the point that we knew the pressure would not let up. There would be no 'agreeing to disagree'. It was all in, or all out.
We knew we had two choices, the pain of staying the same, or the pain of change.
Since leaving, we have learned a lot more about the insidiousness of belonging to an organization with that much control. We've learned a lot about leaders and the boundaries they should have in our lives. We've learned about true friendship, and friendship that is conditional. Many people have told us, "just don't throw out the baby with the bathwater." Frankly, it's a bit hard to distinguish which is which right now. It's like the blinders come off, and the light is a little blinding. We wonder about things. Who are we outside of that narrow context? What exactly did we accomplish with our time, our efforts, our sacrifices, our loyalty for all those years? What should church really be about? It's not an easy time and the road looks a dark at times. Yet we know the unraveling is healthy. We know we are learning to trust our instincts again and learn how to walk with Jesus, our Lord, our Saviour, our guide. We're learning that we aren't dumb, or second rate, or in some kind of caste system. We are loved. We will be okay. We will learn and move on and grow. We still love Jesus and want to please him ~ the future looks good. I love you


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