I’ve been blogging for more than a decade,and I’ve written often about spiritual abuse by church leaders – sharing both my own experience and referencing the struggles of others. I’m just one voice in a large crowd: there are numerous blogs, books, and worthwhile organizations telling the stories of spiritual and/or clergy sexual abuse survivors. The internet has been a tool for good in this struggle as it has facilitated connection between survivors. In a few high profile cases, the networking of survivors has been instrumental in bringing to light what has happened in the darkness.
Understandably, many who’ve experienced abuse from a church leader never return to a church. In the wake of my own traumatizing experience, I remember repeating my own version of Peter’s words from John 6:68 (“Lord, where else can I go? You have the words of eternal life.”) even as my husband and I tried to figure out how our family could ever be a part of a congregation again after all that had happened at our previous church. I still loved Jesus even though I was hurting, but it seemed at the time his big “C” Church didn’t love me back.
In the wake of the trauma, it was easier not to attend church. We relied on our Christian friends to provide us fellowship. We even attempted home churching with two other families for nearly a year. But as time went on, we realized we missed the structure and relative diversity of congregational life. It was a milepost on our continuing journey toward healing that we found we could hope most churches were not teeming with gross dysfunction or being run by adulterous leaders – and then act on that hope.
The road back to church was a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process. One telling moment came as we were moving toward making a commitment to a new congregation when an elder tasked with plugging people into the ministry of the church sensed some reticence on my part.
He said, “It sounds like you have a lot of trust issues.” [Read more]