An Open Letter To My Former Religion
Dear United Pentecostal Church members and leaders,
I am one of your poster children for a model UPC home. My parents were at your churches every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, Friday youth service, and Monday prayer meeting. I attended every camp, convention, and conference for a total of 25 years of my life. I Bible quizzed, memorized thousands of Bible verses, was baptized in Jesus name, sang on the praise team, cleaned the church, taught Sunday School, was married in one of your churches to my husband who grew up in a similar UPC home. I had two babies in your church, my children were baptized by your ministers, went to every camp, convention, and Bible quiz tournament possible. Your church organization consumed my entire upbringing and life until I was 33 years old. All of my friends and family were there for lifetimes and longer. It was literally all I knew.
And then a light went off in my head. God gave me a revelation of grace and I left your organization.
While in the process of leaving, I tried to do everything right. I was terrified to lose every relationship I ever had. And terrified for good reason. I knew I was always taught, if not directly, indirectly my UPC friends and family would rather see me sitting on a bar stool than attend another denominational church. I went out of my way to reach out and try to make peace with everyone I knew I was going to hurt by leaving, but they no longer looked at me as a friend, but a soul to be saved. Years of history and friendships of people who were supposed to be closer to me than family were lost as I tried in desperation and loneliness to create a new life in a new church alone.
I say all of this to get to the point: “backsliders” don’t come back to your churches for good reasons. And I don’t mean coming back to attend as a member, (although this applies in that situation as well) but coming back to your building in general for fundraisers, weddings, showers, birthday parties, things of this nature.
And I’m going to clue you in as to why.
Number one: we no longer agree with your hyper aggressive oppression. Which is ultimately why most people leave to begin with.
Number two: and this is a big one, your attitude of arrogance and hatefulness toward those who have left your organization and moved on to another church denomination.
You can say it isn’t there, but it is alive and well. Trickling down from leadership all the way to the children. Just ask my kids, they will tell you how their “friends” responded to our leaving.
On top of ministry calling and telling my close friend I would be a bad influence on her if she continued to be my friend (happened multiple times) I have been told things personally such as:
I made someone nauseous.
I am going to hell and taking my kids with me.
They hope I never sleep again.
I am being rebellious and need to come home.
These are just the few that come to the top of my head. But, (after much prayer) I can’t blame these people for saying such things. It is what they have been taught by their leaders to say.
Recently, it was brought to my attention a post made on Facebook by an Apostolic Pentecostal minister. In this post, while describing us people who have left “the truth” he calls us “rotten”, “disgusting”, and “monsters”. He then misrepresents several Bible verses and ends by saying we will pay a “terrible price”.
Let me ask you this: In my shoes, would you feel comfortable visiting a church where this is the common attitude of the leaders? A place where they think you are literally a monster?
IF in fact you have the “truth”, and people attending your churches are the only ones going to heaven, why on earth would it seem to be a good idea to treat others in this manner?
When my extended family left after dedicating their lives for years to the benefit of your organization, they were treated to the same behaviors my husband and I were. To this day no one has even contacted some of them to let them know they are missed. People whom they saw week after week, year after year, decade after decade just dropped them like a hot potato. It hurts and it takes years to get over the scars it creates.
All of the love bombing in the world wouldn’t make me come near one of your church services again. And the only reason I can walk through a United Pentecostal Church door for non-services is by the grace of God Himself. The unwavering, faithful love of Jesus Christ and the healing power of the Holy Spirit has been washing my wounds from your so-called churches and allowing me to heal in His time.
When a church creates these types of scars to it’s most faithful members, is it really truth bearing or is it truth stunting? Jesus himself is the the way, the truth and the life, and to imply that a man made religious organization is the “truth” is heresy at its finest.
I sincerely hope that your organization tunes an ear and listens to the thousands of people who have left your churches. People who you consider “monsters” that now according to your own teachings face an eternity in hell, and see why they are never coming back. Instead of blaming those who have left, maybe the problem lies from within.
A “rotten, disgusting, truth-hating monster”