For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afraid!

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SuzieQutzie
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:42 pm

For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afraid!

Post by SuzieQutzie » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:46 pm

Wiki, a bunch of us feel this article would be super useful to those thinking about leaving the EB/PBCC and also who have already left - especially those who do not want to throw all of their faith out on exit:

LEAVING EVANGELICALISM:
http://sarahbessey.com/ones-leaving-evangelicalism/

I walked this path years ago: it is not an easy path. But there are a lot of us out here waiting for you.

Can we ever really leave our mother church? Perhaps not. The complexity of tangled up roots isn’t easily undone. And yes, I think there is a way to reclaim and redeem our traditions with an eye on the future.

But maybe this isn’t your time to do that. Maybe this is your time to let go and walk away.

I know you’re grieving. Let yourself grieve. It’s the end of something, it’s worthwhile to notice the passing of it, to sit in the space and look at the pieces before you head out.

In the early days, when you are first walking away, you might feel afraid. You don’t need to be afraid. It can be confusing to separate from what so-and-so-big-guy-in-the-big-organization says about you or people like you. It can be disorienting to walk out into the wilderness on purpose. It can be lonely. It can be exhilarating. It can be terrifying.

My friend, don’t stay in a religious institution or a religious tradition out of fear. Fear should not drive your decisions: let love motivate you.

Lean into your questions and your doubts until you find that God is out here in the wilderness, too.

I have good news for you, broken-hearted one: God is here in the wandering, too. In fact, you might just find, as Jonathan Martin wrote, that the wilderness is the birthplace of true intimacy with God for you.

Jesus isn’t an evangelical. You get to love Jesus without being an evangelical.

Your pet evangelical gate-keeper isn’t the sole arbitrator of the Christian faith: there is more complexity and beauty and diversity of voices and experiences within followers of the Way than you know. Remember, your view of Christians, your personal experience with Christians is rather small sample size: there are a lot more of us out here than you might think. A lot of us on the other side of that faith shift, eschewing labels and fear-tactics, boundary markers and tribalist thinking.

There are a lot of us out here who aren’t evangelical theologically or politically. There are those of us who are evangelical perhaps in our theology still (I think I am but who can keep track these days of the master list we’re supposed to be checking?) while separating from evangelicalism culturally or politically.

I’m someone who believes that we are in the midst of major shift within the Church – what Phyllis Tickle calls a “rummage sale” – similar to the Great Schism, and the Reformation. The Church is sorting and casting off, renewing and re-establishing in the postmodern age and this is a good thing. The old will remain – it always does – but something new is being born, too. If it is being born in the Church, it is first being born in the hearts and minds and lives of us, the Body.

Maybe evangelicalism as we understand it doesn’t need our defense anymore: maybe we can open our fist, lay down our weapons for the movement or the ideology or the powerful, and simply walk away.

It was helpful when it was helpful. Now, perhaps, it is not. Evangelicalism doesn’t get our loyalty: that fidelity is for our Jesus.

Sometimes we have to cut away the old for the new to grow. We are a resurrection people, darling. God can take our death and ugliness and bitterness, our hurt and our wounds, and make something beautiful and redemptive. For you. In you. With you.

Let something new be born in you. There is never a new life, a new birth, without labour and struggle and patience, but then comes the release.

Care for the new life being born in you with tenderness. It will be tempting to take all the baggage with you – to bring the habits or language or rules with you. That’s okay. You might need to be angry for a while. That’s okay. You might need to stop reading your approved-translation-of-the-Bible and only find Scripture in The Message. That’s okay. You might need to stop praying the way you were taught and learn to pray as you work, as you make love, as you walk at night. That’s okay.

I’m not afraid for you: you are held. You are loved and you are free. I am hopeful for you.

Nothing has been lost that will not be restored. Be patient and kind with yourself. New life doesn’t come overnight especially after the soil of your life and heart has been burnt down and razed and covered in salt.

Don’t worry about the “should-do” stuff anymore. It might help to cocoon away for a while, far from the performances or the structures or even the habits or thinkers that bring you pain. The Holy Spirit isn’t restricted to only meeting with you in a one-hour-quiet-time or an official 501-3(c) tax approved church building.

Set out, pilgrim. Set out into the freedom and the wandering. Find your people. God is much bigger, wilder, generous, more wonderful than you imagined.

The funny thing for me is that on the other side of the wilderness, I found myself reclaiming it all – my tradition, the habits, the language. Your path may lead you elsewhere, but I’m back where I began with new eyes, a new heart, a new mind, a new life, and a wry smile.

Now, instead of being an evangelical or whatever label you preferred, perhaps you can simply be a disciple, a pilgrim, out on The Way, following in the footsteps of the man from Nazareth.

You aren’t condemned to wander forever. Remember now: after the wilderness comes deliverance.

Humbled
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Humbled » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:22 pm

Really........a confusing message for me. Maybe it's because it's because the author is from the US. In the UK I think christians would identify an evangelical church as bible based and seeking to follow the Great Commision. Such churches exist as a minority in the larger denominations such as the C of E and the Cof S but also in many independant churches and others such as the Open Brethren. I realise that the article didn't address the exclusives in particular. Maybe these cults which would not be considered as evangelical churches are classed as evangelical in the US or is the author using the term as in a growing modern way describing people who are filled with commitment to sell goods etc?
Anyway I am a person who through Gods grace cut my ties with the exclusives in 1970 because of what I saw with my two eyes and heard with my two ears . I didn't do it alone but with more than 90% of scottish brethren.
If someone is deciding to leave a church I suggest not to do so firstly by fear but to identify what is shameful to The Lord and link it to a verse in the bible which should not be difficult. When the storms come as they will and it is tempting to look back such persons can become like individuals who have built their house upon a rock.
Use sound and common sense judgement. Many times I have twisted scriptures to suit my view so I am not well placed to point my finger at others.However for those starting off elsewhere allow me to suggest working soberly within the bible and avoiding building upon sand . Frankly I don't like the message in the article
The bible is clear about the critical role of men and woman in the Church which is different and complimentary. If one leaves a church because of a breakdown in basic biblical teaching please watch out it doesn't become a case of from the frying pan into the fire as the promotion of feminism is often a byword for rebellion.

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Balaam's Ass
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Balaam's Ass » Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:34 am

The bible is clear about the critical role of men and woman in the Church which is different and complimentary ... the promotion of feminism is often a byword for rebellion.
Wow! There are still people out there who think and say things like this? And in saying "Frankly I don't like the message in the article", well, I think you've just given it the biggest reinforcement possible!

Brother Rev
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Brother Rev » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:21 pm

Humbled,

I read your post with interest but would like clarity on the following aspects please –
“Anyway I am a person who through Gods grace cut my ties with the exclusives in 1970 because of what I saw with my two eyes and heard with my two ears . I didn't do it alone but with more than 90% of scottish brethren.”
Can it be right that “more than 90% of scottish brethren” left the Taylorites (now Hales led Exclusive Brethren / PBCC), over JT Junior in 1970 ?

If so, that would leave the current Hales led Exclusive Brethren (Plymouth Brethren Christian Church), with little “testimony” in Scotland at all, yet they still have big presence in certain parts such as Peterhead, Perth, Aberdeen, Kirkcaldy, Grangemouth and others, I accept numbers are not what they where, but still, 90% seems high.

From various figures ive seen, only around 7 to 8’000 left worldwide during and after the 1970 crisis.

Therefore another query would be this,

The refugees from the 1970 division tried as best they could to continue with Exclusive Brethren doctrines and practices because that was all they knew and they considered Exclusive Brethrenism to be right, although they rejected some of what JT Junior taught and certainly rejected his actions at Aberdeen 1970. After the 1970 division trauma, most losing family and friends, and much individual soul searching, it was inevitable some of the 7 to 8,000 would drift away and join other Christian Churches (Evangelical, Open Brethren, CofE, CofS, Baptists, Free Church, etc), as it began to dawn that Exclusive Brethrenism was biblically wrong. However, the rest (possibly about 5,000), stayed together and after further divisions (1972), and further losses, (caused by Exclusive Brethren doctrines), ended up with the Renton Group (so called after Jim Renton of Edinburgh led the division), and the Walker Group (possibly called Frosts), both groups pursuing EB doctrines and following JTaylor Senior and a good deal of JTaylor Junior teaching. These Exclusive Brethren groups are now very depleted with Renton EB numbering less than 3,000 worldwide, of which there are less than 1,500 in the UK and of that number a significant presence is in Scotland

Humbled,
It would be interesting to know how you survived the trauma of 1970 and where you ended up ?
The distinction between cult and religion lies squarely in how those leaving or those wanting to leave are treated

Ian McKay
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Ian McKay » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:57 pm

Rev, I think the “more than 90 per cent” referred to by Humbled is not far off. I would have said about 95 per cent.

John Hales commented on it at least twice.
Scotland must be in our minds all day long and every day, There were thirty-two hundred brethren, now I think there's a hundred and twenty, hundred and thirty, or something.
Ministry of John S. Hales, New Series Vol. 23 page 314
You just can't get around what happened in Scotland, at Aberdeen. There were about three thousand, or three thousand one hundred brethren in fellowship, at Aberdeen. Today, I think there's about a hundred and fifty.
Ministry of John S. Hales, New Series Vol. 28 page 295

In England I have heard it said that the division was more even, with about half separating from Jim Taylor.

JSH also commented on the depletion of Brethren numbers in France and Switzerland.
there were two hundred meetings in France, when J.N.D. laboured there. And in Switzerland a tremendous number of brethren, he gave his life for it. And when our beloved came along he wanted to preserve that meeting in Zurich, because of J.N.D.'s labours in Switzerland.
Ministry of John S. Hales, New Series Vol. 21 page 257

Now I think there are only about 17 HEB meeting rooms in France and only one in Switzerland.

Brother Rev
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Brother Rev » Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:02 pm

Ian, thanks for the help in answering my first query, especially those references, which put things into perspective. I hadn’t appreciated before, just how many left the Taylorite Exclusive Brethren in Scotland during the 1970 crisis.

I wonder if there is a link between the large number that left the taylorite EB in Scotland in 1970 and the relative high numbers of Renton Exclusive Brethren in Scotland today, which consists of over 10 localities and over 500 members, out of a UK total of possibly less than 1,500 members and worldwide probably less than 3,000.

The figures in those references used are really quite stark and highlight the drift away from Exclusive Brethrenism over the years as the group became more separatist, sectarian and damaging, under the influence of successive leaders & false teachings.
The distinction between cult and religion lies squarely in how those leaving or those wanting to leave are treated

Gal 5.1
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Gal 5.1 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:31 pm

My understanding is that Hales Exclusive Brethren numbers in Scotland have been increased since 1970 by families being told to go there to strengthen small localities.
This control mechanism seems not to be unusual within the EB over the past couple of decades. I met someone who left the Exclusives in the 1980s and his father in law and mother in law were moved 100 miles to another meeting during the 1990s because that meeting was considered to be in need of strengthening.
I am also aware of a couple who were told to move from the North West of England to Aberdeen which suffered a huge drop in numbers after July 1970.

Ian McKay
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Ian McKay » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:15 pm

Yes, Rev, Scotland is the nearest there is to a Renton stronghold, if you can call it that, largely because nearly the whole of Scotland withdrew from Jim Taylor.

And Gal 5.1, you are right about immigration. When the Brethren were told to move out of South Africa, some of them came to Scotland, particularly to East Kilbride.

The reason why Scottish Brethren were almost unanimous in condemning Jim Taylor was possibly because of their geographical proximity to Aberdeen. Many of them were actually in Aberdeen when Jim Taylor disgraced himself or they personally knew people who were there, whose account they could trust. The further away people were from Aberdeen the easier it was for the Taylor supporters to suppress or falsify the facts that reached them.

Possibly too, the centuries-old Scottish tradition of scholarship meant that many of the Scottish Brethren had never been impressed by the crass, boorish ignorance of Taylor and his supporters, and their attempts to discredit anyone who had any understanding of the Bible. It didn’t take much Biblical scholarship or much spiritual discernment to see that Taylorism had very little in common with Christianity.

Humbled
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Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Humbled » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:42 pm

Balaam's Ass wrote:
The bible is clear about the critical role of men and woman in the Church which is different and complimentary ... the promotion of feminism is often a byword for rebellion.
Wow! There are still people out there who think and say things like this? And in saying "Frankly I don't like the message in the article", well, I think you've just given it the biggest reinforcement possible!
Hi

Thank you for your gracious mockery! I am sure no offence was meant and none is taken.

Humbled
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:14 am

Re: For those leaving the Evangelical Church: Do not be afra

Post by Humbled » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:27 pm

Brother Rev.
You asked how we survived the trauma and where we ended up.

I was at the meeting in Glasgow city immediately after Aberdeen when the congregation effectively took a stand, withdrew from Big Jim and a small number of his supporters walked out. A new exclusive brethren type church in Glasgow was born. For a number of weeks the leadership kept a strong grip on things and cherry picked what they thought was right or wrong in JTJnr ministry

My wife and I after just a few weeks feared the possibility of a copy cat church emerging and which would continue to be very light on the gospel so we left. Quite a number of people over these weeks and months drifted away many of whom did not go to other churches as was our intention.

A friend asked to go to a morning service in a presbyterian church which we did and that set off a time of bitterness. We had never been at a church service before. We had been taught a lot of negatives about dead churches ,ministers being a sin against the Holy Spirit etc. We were gobsmacked. This was a living church made up of christians who in their zeal for The Lord and the gospel put us to absolute shame. We reckoned we had been conned by previous leaders and felt very bitter. After a long time we came to realise that many people strongly criticising churches in general probably hadn't been in a church either and didn't know what they were talking about.

However work took precedence and although we occasionally attended this church to our shame it was many years before we decided to commit ourselves to this congregation.

The church is an independant presbyterian church with a focus on preaching and teaching or others may use the term biblical exposition. It's not perfect, it's full of sinners like us . It has a great outreach ministry and even now we get thrill when we hear of strangers who by grace and the work of the Holy Spirit are attracted to the Lord. Such is a common occurrence. By contrast I spent the first 30 years of my life in the brethren and I only know of one person from outside who was converted and joined the meeting.

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