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Where Does My Tithe Money Go? (Kelly takes a vacation)

When you give to a church it's usually understood that the money goes to support the church's finances and keep it running.  Being a...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just when you think it’s over

I was fully ready to release the Crossing from my life. I was prepared to put it in the past. Sure their new sermons on Grace, Grace and more Grace are unrealistic, clichéd and flippant to the real problems people face but I do understand that need to hear nothing but good and go into denial about everything else. The message is also ripe for shame: “You’ll give and serve because you WANT to!”. Well get ready for some choice words should you not want to. All in all though I’m not hearing of the spiritual abuse that was there before so I was willing to walk away for good.

About a month ago, out of nowhere, I get a message from a Crossing staff member that Pastor Eric wants to speak to me. I’m told “It’s nothing to worry about…in fact it’s good.” This left me perplexed and confounded. Before opening myself up to this I of course asked what the meeting was regarding. I’m told the same thing that he wants to speak to me and it’s ‘good’. Now tell me dear reader; I've written this blog for nearly a year, about Pastor Eric and the Crossing, so why would he want to speak to me about something ‘good’? The thought of a possible apology came to mind yet if that was the case why not tell me that’s what it’s about? Though my curiosity was peaked, and I would love to speak to Eric, the whole situation felt manipulative and contrived. I respectfully declined yet left the door open that if he wanted to truly tell me something good then email or mail would suffice.

Nothing. Not a word. Silence.

The only assumption I can come to is that this really wasn't good for me. I know if I had something ‘good’ to tell someone and they wouldn't meet with me then I’d find another way to reach them.
Though I would still meet if I knew the subject matter; since this didn't happen I do have a few things I’d like you to say.

You are truly gifted Eric. You can hold and mesmerize a crowd like few I've ever seen. You command attention and have an amazing stage presence. Smart, energetic, magnetic, captivating. To that list I would add manipulative, controlling and calculating.

I fell for it all. All my God/Daddy/Authority issues got tied up in you. I desperately wanted your approval and acceptance, as you set it up for so many to do, and allowed my self-respect and dignity be trampled to get it.
Though I was heartbroken to leave the Crossing I've come away better. Not living under submission to anyone is wonderful! I've felt a range of emotions from anger to annoyance to apathy. Today I’m much more at peace with it all now as you don’t own that place in my heart and mind anymore. I’m fine.

You broke me of Christianity. Yes, there were many years and instances before you but the Crossing was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. On a good day, when the wind is whistling softly and the sun is shining on my face I say I’m an Agnostic Christian. For me this means that I don’t truly know anything but I still like Jesus; though it’s quite ironic that I've learned more about who Jesus really was through my atheist and agnostic friends than I ever did in church. On a bad day I’m an atheist. Whether in belief or disbelief I will never go back to the dogma that was stuffed down my throat as absolute truth ever again.

Eric, if you do truly have something good to say to me then I’d still listen but only if I’m told ahead of time what the true subject matter will be, who will be attending and what your purpose is. Just know we’d be meeting as equals. I am not your subordinate or inferior.

As always, my comments are open. Speak freely. Tell me off. I’m quite all right. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is there grace for everyone?

An interesting turn of events.  Eric Dykstra posts a new blog post entitled "Losing the Legalism".  The abusive legalistic ways of the Crossing Church are what many people have been talking about for over a year.  So they are no longer into missional legalism?  They are filled with grace.  Wonderful!

As of 8:00am today, Thursday, September 27, 2012, comments were open on this particular blog post.  Multiple people spoke out saying they were happy for the change and expressed that this was already an issue for them within the Crossing Church.  One poster wrote:

"There was a period of time where my frustrations just grew at church (The Crossing) and I wanted so bad to express them to someone but I could not put my finger on what I was experiencing to even open my mouth open my mouth about it. It was some strange an indirect discouragement... which in turn made me feel guilty, it was just so screwed up.(that nasty legalism thing) I was seeing why people boycotted church, not the relationship with Jesus but definitely church. It seemed I was kind of stuck in stupid, so I stepped back from the church for awhile and prayed. I never lost my faith and prayed and things got better, so better in so many ways. Thank you JESUS for The Crossing where I met you and Thank you for the Dykstras for being who they are & doing what they do!"

By 12:00pm the comments were closed and you could no longer read this post.
The comments were abruptly taken away after the mother, of One Mother's Journey, wrote this comment:

"I am so thankful for the changes that I have been hearing about, I really am. Please know, the hurt of what you were and through that legalistic pastoring that continues. I don't think you can fix what has happened, I am moving on, I do hope you can see the deep wounds that your missional legalism caused and make amends....I really hope you can get a hold of my son and apologize- My son left his family and married under your legalism, an 18 year old kid trying to please God and buying into what you then sold."

Coincidence?  Were they already planning on closing the comments?  Does it matter why?  The real question is why can't the comments always stay open?  So someone says something you don't like; does that mean you have to block them off?  If you are no longer under legalism and filled with grace then why isn't that grace shown to everyone else?

Grace, favor, God's favorite, blessed, lucky - does that absolve you of all accountability for your past actions?  Take a hard look at how the Crossing was being run; the submission, the work ethic, the burden.  Now look at each situation of each person you kicked out and those whose lives were forever changed from the way leadership was being run.  Take each situation to it's logical conclusion if you hadn't been legalistic. You'll see the outcomes are very different.

I've wracked my brain as to how you would be able to rationalize that you now admit you were wrong but not apologize.  Are you worried about how it would look?  Because it would be very good for your tarnished reputation.  Because these people spoke out against you and your church's actions are they "disloyal church people"?  If it's "always only about Jesus" then where is the relation to others?  Why can't there be open conversation?

My comments are open.  Lets talk.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My hopes for The Crossing Church

The Crossing Church is now preaching about grace.  The pastor, Eric Dykstra, claims he has changed.  They are breaking ground for their new multi-million dollar building.  It's been awhile since we've heard of anyone being kicked out and all seems peaceful.  This is all good.

I have some hopes for The Crossing Church, and though I doubt they'll even see this, I hope at least the general idea of what I'm saying gets to them and they listen.

I hope they understand that the trouble they went through in the past year was not persecution for the sake of Jesus.  The news reports, blogs, and outspoken views were due to the way they spiritually abused people.  People were not speaking out because you are "different" as you can find similar churches in nearly every Twin Cities suburb as well as around the country.

I see many changes in their "Code" and these changes were the exact issues others have spoken about.
Key changes:
"We want to orbit our personal finances, schedules and talents around the mission of His church."
"We value both men and women in leadership. We believe both men and women have the hand of God on their lives and are capable and called to lead others toward their God-given destiny."
 No more catering to men?  Women are now equal?  Nice.  Very nice.
Taken out: "We want our back door working properly."  Point Crossing!  Good one!
There were a few more minor changes but these were my favorites.

I hope this new found grace isn't used for manipulation.  I hope people aren't shamed if they don't "want" to give, serve, invite people and orbit their lives around the Crossing.

I hope they understand what they did wrong in the situation with One Mother's Journey.  I hope they see how far reaching the damage is to everyone involved.  I hope they can take accountability for how they treated all people involved.

I hope they go back to being that church I found in a movie theater; a church that cared about serving those who needed help and not just filling seats to grow their audience, a church where you could shake the pastor's hand after a service and talk, a church where you could sit wherever you were comfortable, a church where you could relax and process God, a church where people cared about you as a person and not just what you could give or do.

I hope the forced submission has ended.  I hope the worship of leadership goes away and all people go back to being equal.

I hope they apologize.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear Eric

Dear Eric,

There is so much to post about I didn't know where to begin.  Your repentance, your change in how you are preaching to people, the new direction of the Crossing and even Chris Rosebrough acknowledging the difference in you.  Admitting that what you were previously preaching was wrong had to have been a humbling experience for you and I applaud you owning your part and coming clean.

You've been asked to apologize to those you have hurt so I won't belabor that request.  If you are truly repentant I trust you will do what is right for those that were wounded by you.

Now though I keep this blog anonymous you know who I am.  I'm sure there is a picture of me being used as a dart board in your staff lounge.  I'm the enemy; right?  You've seen my anger but what I don't think you fully understand is what is underneath those feelings.  I hope to give you a better understanding, or at least a glimpse, of what I have been feeling and where I am at today.

I felt like I'd been struck by a truck when I left the Crossing.  I didn't really want to leave but I felt I had no choice.  I saw people being kicked out, my story validated by one of those people and a mother losing her son.  Every sign was saying to get out and get out fast!  When I wrote you a letter saying why I was leaving I was heartbroken.  Even when I went on the news saying why I'd left it wouldn't have taken much to get me back.  An apology, a change and I would have happily been back there.  Kelly even called me saying I should expect an amends and it never came.

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions.  I've seen people in despair, sobbing and suicidal from their Crossing experience.  I've listened and hurt with those that were used and spit out.  My life has been turned upside down and my faith is gone.  I'll admit all my anger isn't at you Eric; it's at myself.  I'm livid that I was so gullible and trusting.  I could kick myself for the times I "submitted" when I should have stood up for myself.  I'm horribly bitter at all the money I gave.

The Crossing felt like a last chance for me.  If I couldn't get this God-thing down there then I just wasn't going to get it.  So I gave it everything I had.  I suppressed the doubts. I ignored the cognitive dissonance.  I did as I was told.  This resulted in my marriage going down as my husband wasn't measuring up to what the Crossing expected in attendance, service and attitude.  I found my fears escalating as I continued to fail at what was expected while I watched others thrive.  "If only my husband would get on board...If only I had the time to serve more...Maybe I should give more...I'm not fasting the way they want...I'm never going to be good enough."  I look at the bible now and think 'Why on earth did I ever believe this?!'

It's not all bad though. I've met amazing friends who don't judge me and let me be where I'm at through Back Door Ministries.  I'm free of the dogma of the church and that feels wonderful.  We're a much happier family not having to go through the Sunday morning (or rather Saturday night) drama of dealing with the parking police and seating Nazis.  My money now goes to people who truly need it such as the poor, homeless and orphans; actually the people Jesus said to help.

I'm trying to find a way to forgive you Eric but not in the Christian sense.  Not throwing Matthew 6:14 on you, though I may have in a previous post, because I no longer follow that.  Just trying to put you behind me.  Trying to find closure on this mess.  Looking for the lessons I can learn. I need to shut the door once and for all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Apology

So Eric has changed.  He's a new pastor.  No more preaching about curses, no slamming people and I'd assume no more "going to heaven exhausted".  Nice.  You repented of preaching this way.  Again, how nice. 

Now where is the apology for the lives you destroyed?  Where is the apology for the people you kicked out because they weren't living up to your grand expectations?  Where is the apology for the people whose faith you pulverized?  Where is the apology for the children whose view of God and church exploded in their face due to your actions?  

You preach about going to CR and doing the 12 steps.  You preach that you should admit your mistakes.  You preach amends   

So own this Eric.  
* A note to those that hide any critique from Eric; you aren't helping him,  you aren't helping the situation and you aren't helping God. Back off.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm tired of talking about The Crossing Church

I'm tired of talking about The Crossing Church.  I'm tired of writing this blog.  I'm tired of the subject of spiritual abuse.  I'm tired of watching another person cry and in pain over their experiences at The Crossing Church.  I'm tired of researching how cults manipulate people and finding parallels in my own story.  I'm tired  of being asked "how is that boy doing?".  I'm tired of being asked about the news report.  I'm tired of it all.

I'm tired of hearing Eric Dykstra take the bible out of context.  In one of his latest talks he throws out one of the worst and most misused verses in Christianity: 

1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

27:30 – "If I go through hard times God has faith in me or I wouldn’t be going through them. Whatever hardship pain or suffering you’ve faced in your life it’s because God looked at your life and said you can handle it."

28:24 – Having a conversation a woman and she goes “I have cancer” and I go “Man! I don’t know how I could handle that!” If I could handle that I’d have cancer. If she’s got cancer God’s got the confidence in her that she can handle it and go through it.

29:01- I went through some hard stuff last year and some of my pastor friends of mine called me and said “This is the tip off man. God’s got some really great stuff for your future!! Your future is going to be ridiculous!”
I'll leave it up to the reader to see the insanity in these statements.  I'll state simply that the verse speaks of temptation and not hardship.  Cancer is not temptation.

These are a few of the people that Eric feels can handle cancer.  So these poor children get cancer and struggle for their lives but when Eric has a 'hard time' it means his future will be great.  Hmmnm...

It's been over a year since the accusations about The Crossing Church began to fly and yet the talk of them being a cult continues.  Watching his latest talk he speaks about his haters in minutes 6-12.  He gets quite animated when talking about the end of the world and Christians being persecuted.  He speaks on 'disloyal church people' and 'betraying and hating on each other'.  Lets be clear Eric; no one was disloyal to you.  We spoke out and continue to speak out on your abusive actions and twisting of the bible.  Now lets go to what Eric says Christ would do to these awful church people 
12:07 - "he loved them back, he was good to them back, he was gracious back". 

I'm tired.  Eric you have to be tired too.  Now since you proclaim to be a follower of Christ, someone that follows his teachings and wants to do his will, I have a proposal for you.  Apologize to those you have hurt and this blog will come down.  I'll put down my sword and walk away.  Clean up your side of the street.  

Matthew 6:14-15 - “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Mark 11:25 “when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too.”

Matthew 5:23-25 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Apologize and I will never say another word; I won't talk about your sermons, your promotions, your Twitter or anything about The Crossing Church.  Face the people you kicked out.  Face the people you have hurt.  Own your actions.  


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Censorship vs. Relationship

The past year, since stories of spiritual abuse have come out, the Crossing has been on high alert to hide any negative comments towards them.  Unless you are in full agreement with them, on any subject, your comments from their Facebook or Twitter will immediately be deleted. Not only has any comment I've given, or anyone in my group given, been deleted within minutes of posting but comments of many others.  Just a few months ago I saw one woman pleading for them to answer her; her step father is involved in the Crossing and has left his family.  She said, "Why won't you answer me?!?!"  Instant deletion.

If you call them out on Twitter they block you.  They want to give the illusion they are full of the love of Jesus instead of the truth which is they are full of sh*t.  Blocking has become the latest gimmick for Christian Culture.  Mark Driscoll recently blocked blogger Matthew Paul Turner.  The equivalent to being kicked out the back door.

Even in the WCCO news story, where Eric Dykstra was going to address the controversy surrounding them nothing was actually cleared up.  He said, "I've been misquoted and misunderstood."  What was misquoted?  Every word said has been directly from his mouth.  Misunderstood?  We were front row center (by force of the seating Nazis) and had everything verbally pounded into us.  Nothing has been misunderstood.

Here is the question Crossing church: what are you afraid of?  If you are truly a 'Move of God' as you claim then shouldn't he be protecting you from bad press?  Why can't you address your critics?  Why can't you have a conversation?

"Relationship is how we’ve all been harmed, relationship is how we will all be healed." ~ Stephanie Drury

Monday, May 14, 2012

New format, CR and some amends

It seems the Crossing is mixing it up a bit.  We haven't heard of anyone being kicked out the back door in awhile, not hearing talks of how we should submit to their authority and apparently a recent sermon was even from the bible.  How nice.

So did the Crossing get a wake up call after all the bad press and people speaking out against how they were playing church?  We'd like to hope that, at minimum, they took an honest look at how they were treating people.

This leads us to CR.  CR, according to the Crossing, is Crossing Recovery.  They refer to this as a program they started in 2006 to help the addicted.  CR is there to help you through your "hurts, habits and hang ups".  Sound familiar? It should.  That phrase is from Celebrate Recovery; a program started at Saddleback church in 1991 and it is now in 17,000 churches worldwide.  Yet the Crossing is insinuating this is their own program that they created as they are now having conferences to promote what they have done.

Saddleback does make some allowances for churches incorporating their own style but the issue lies in that the Crossing does not disclose where the true program came from and instead markets it as their own.  When the Crossing began their program in 2006 it was called Celebrate Recovery and utilized all the literature from Saddleback's original format.  As of 2009 they were still promoting it as Celebrate Recovery.  Sometime between late 2009 and early 2010 they changed the name to Crossing Recovery.  Nothing wrong with this but give proper credit where it is due.  True credit belongs solely to Bill W. for creating Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps but we also acknowledge Saddleback's contribution of bringing additional biblical backing.

Crossing; simply own up to the real creators.  There will be ample opportunity for you to pat yourselves on the back about something else.

A critical part of the 12 steps is to look at where you still have resentments, own up to your part of those resentments and make amends.  I have to wonder if the Crossing doesn't have some resentments.  Considering any critical comments towards them are deleted from their Facebook page within minutes I'd have to suspect they resent that.  I'm sure there is resentment towards those that spoke out against them.  I'm sure there is resentment towards those that went on the news to say their truth of what happened to them.  So what's your part Crossing?  If you follow the bible, and this 12 step program you claim, then shouldn't you make your side of the street clean?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You are more than a number

Philippians 2:12

...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling...

Can we agree for a moment that the decision to become a Christian is something to be thought out and not to go into lightly?  This should be a life altering choice.  You should understand what you are getting into, what this decision involves and what it will mean for your future.  

Yet we've turned a personal, discerning, thoughtful act into a hard sell.  The idea is that if you just get your friend to church by any means (force, bribery, coercion) that the Holy Spirit will move them to salvation.   The pastors are treating this like a multilevel marketing scheme: you just get them here and we'll do the rest!  

Now it's not enough to simply get the person to an Easter service.  You must also lead one person to Christ.  So what happens if the person / people you've brought aren't ready for this?  What kind of shame will you be feeling?  Or what will you do to make sure you make your number and get that one to do it?!?  For the very determined person this won't be all that difficult to find a vulnerable soul who is having a hard time in life to get emotional, stand up during service and pray the prayer.  See 00:47 "you need to lead one person to Christ".
The illusion at this point is that something magical just happened.  Now they are saved, check one off your list and move on.  Sure your church got high numbers for people standing up and/or bowing a knee and giving their life to Christ but what happens to this person now?  Well according to the Crossing that's not really their problem.  If this person doesn't join a small group, start serving, tithe (a lot!) and get on board then they are S.O.L.  Their growth and journey after that isn't a concern.  (And if they don't like this then they will be escorted out the back door.)  

So is our faith path a singular event or is it a long road of questions, doubts, revelations, reevaluations, joys and suffering?  

People need to be seen and not treated as a number.  People need to be heard and not silenced.  People need to be allowed doubts and questions and not forced into thoughtless submission.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How many people are you bringing to church this Easter?

Easter is coming and the Crossing, and so many churches like it, are making their usual attempt to pack the seats.  Sorry no cars or TVs this year.  You'll have to work very hard to bring those far from God to church this time.  You are to ask one person per day to come on Easter and do anything possible to get them there.  "If you don't get your friends to church and they go to hell then it's your fault."  OK, not much faith in a sovereign God but doing a fabulous job at shaming your members.

Why the big push for Easter?  Well this is one of the few days, including Christmas, that the heathens will darken the door of a church.  The hope is that they'll see an amazing production, hear a pleading message and "give their life to Christ".  Eliciting this emotional response is choreographed from the moment they walk in.  Happy people greeting them and making them feel welcomed.  Lots of smiles and sunshine faces.  Entertaining band with the church members joyfully singing along.  The pastor is charismatic and the message is tailored to someone who would not normally go to church.  Then they'll go for the slam dunk.  Poignant music starts playing softly in the background.  The pastor has a couple cracks in his voice sounding on the verge of tears.  The plea is made for you to stand and take Jesus as your savior.  Many do stand up and say the "sinner's prayer".  They are given a booklet that congratulates them and tells them next steps: serve, give and join a small group.  Hurrah!   

There is nothing new going on here as this is reminiscent of the old church revivals.  In the terms of Charles Grandison Finney, a revival was something preachers and communicants did. It was a deliberately orchestrated event that deployed a variety of spiritual practices to provoke conversions especially among the unconverted "youth" (men and women between 15 and 30) in the community. In the book "Growing Up Fundamentalist" one of the gentlemen interviewed describes it this way:  What we call fundamentalism is really a product of revivalism, which is a separate theological tradition in many ways.  Back in the nineteenth century the revivalist preachers would travel around, setting up their tents and preaching the sawdust trail.  Down in front they would have what they called the "anxious bench", where sinners who were thinking about being saved could sit.  When they got ready they would jump up at the alter call.  The appeal was largely a hellfire-and-brimstone approach that said, "You'd better come right down here now or you'll burn in hell forever."  It was extremely emotional and experiential.

The Crossing claims 900 people were saved last Easter.  Huge number.  So where are these 900 people now?   Without getting into a debate whether by saying the sinner's prayer that you're saved for life or it's not quite enough without actions, I'll simply pose the question as to whether those people's lives were truly changed.  My friend and her daughter stood up that day.  They were among many counted as "being saved".  One goes to a Universalist church now and the other goes nowhere.  Was there life change?  

Instead of bringing people to church shouldn't the focus be to bring church (Jesus) to the people?  Your light shows, productions and egg drops aren't helping anyone.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The New Vision?

We've been told to submit. Told to give sacrificially or people will go to hell.  Told that God has given the Crossing a Vision to be a church of 20,000.  Told that if we were not on board with that vision that we'd be escorted, or kicked, out the back door.

Yet their current Rock Star series has brought about a new twist.  References to leaving your home, friends and family.  Talking of the importance of an education; after telling a young man that wasn't necessary when he had a few months left before getting his degree to join them.  And now the big kicker: the dream must die.  "Why does it seem like we get a dream from God and then it doesn’t come through?"  Letting go of your dream because God has something bigger and better.  "God will give you double for your trouble."  Those are sure nice words but please explain that to the woman holding her dying child in the Sudan.  Tell that to the survivors of the churches bombed in Iraq.  Treating God like the big slot machine in the sky.  'If I put in a lot I'll get a big payout!' 

This congregation gave unbelievable amounts of money.  They were convinced to sell their possessions and cash out their 401K.  Yet it is nearly a year later and there is no sign of a new building.

So what's the new twist?  Asking for even more money?  A new Vision?  Stay alert people and hold onto your checkbooks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

If you don’t like it then don’t go!

 “People are just scared of something different.” “If you don’t like it then don’t go!” “Stop being a hater!”
To answer the questions as to why people won’t shut up about what is happening at the Crossing is quite simple; they are hurting people and it is wrong.  Their actions abuse people spiritually.  The control, the submission, the formula and the threats are all forms of this abuse. 
There is nothing new or different going on here.  This church model has been going on for a few decades now.  Casual environment, loud band, special coffee area, bounce house for the kids, not a “church” type look.  The services are all geared to produce an emotional response.  Get the people in with a fun or controversial topic.  Once there they go over the top to smother the person with being happy and friendly.  The band will be loud, lights flashing and the feel of a concert.  Throw in a funny video or two and repeat over and over that you are so different, new and fresh.  The sermon will be something that anyone can relate to and usually comes back to you needing to change.  Simple talks, how to make your dreams come true, how to make your life better, how to change your life.  End it all by dimming the lights, the pastor asks whomever needs to make a change to stand up as a band member plays some moving music on the keyboard.  Many people stand up, because who couldn’t use a change in some area?  Once standing they are then told to pray a prayer and given a pamphlet saying they’ve given their life to Jesus.  It’s deceptive in that they were only standing because of the change question and not Jesus.  Even if you’ve given your life to Jesus no one wants to sit back down and be noticed so it’s easier to stay standing.  Meanwhile they keep a count of the number of pamphlets given out and tweet to the world about how many gave their lives to Jesus because of them.  Key words: them.  
This isn’t a matter of having different tastes or ideas about church.  It’s about lives being destroyed.  This is not to say that lives haven’t gotten better from being there.  It’s about what happens to those that falter in some way the Crossing does not like and are then thrown away.  If you’re all about the numbers then the number of people you’ve wounded should count also.  It’s about the people being manipulated and controlled.  It’s about families being torn apart.  It’s wrong.
Being concerned for the spiritual well being of others isn’t being a hater.  And who cares if it is!?  I’ve seen people crying, broken, shaken and near suicide due to their experience at the Crossing church.  Yes, I hate that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The beginning of the end

I've been on a life long quest for truth.  I was told from childhood that this was easy and all answers were in the bible.  If you had a question just read the bible.  If you needed help the answer was in the bible.  "God said it and I believe it and that settles it for me."  This is all well and good if you take every word literally, don't study the origins, don't look into the authors and choose not to engage in critical thought.  Yet their simplistic answers never worked for me.  Each question brought another question with no real answers. 

I tried for many years to suppress my questions and play the game.  Turn on a proper Christian radio station, read Christian books, slap a fish on your bumper and forgive the pain of the past.  They had a formula: Jesus + Faith + Being Good = Happiness.  The formula didn't work.  When you ask why the formula doesn't work for you this makes people quite unnerved as if there was a flaw in the formula then something bad might happen to them as well.  "You need more faith."  "Do you have unconfessed sin?"  "Have you fasted?" "Have you prayed?  Well how much have you prayed? Did  you pray with someone else?" "God must be testing you."  There was always a well worn cliche or new piece to the puzzle to explain away why your life wasn't like theirs. 

A few years ago I'd had enough of it all and was ready to throw in the towel when a postcard came in the mail telling me about this new, hip church.  The postcard was flashy and creative and peaked my interest.  I thought maybe, just maybe, this could be the place for me.  This was the Crossing Church in Elk River, Minnesota.  I loved the first service there.  The pastor was highly engaging, funny and practical.  For lack of a better word; they seemed cool.  We went to their Christmas Eve service not too long after and I fell in love with the place.  The service was edgy and non-traditional and for the first time in years I was emotionally moved. 

As we continued to go I wanted to get involved.  After a bad experience at our previous church my husband was not happy with this and said "Don't get into it.  If you get involved you'll see what really goes on.  I like the place and don't want to stop liking it."  Those turned out to be quite insightful words in the end.  I didn't listen. 

I went to their Cellar classes, started going to their Celebrate Recovery program and started volunteering.  Each sermon still came down to the Christian formula but I tried to ignore this.  The Crossing felt like my last hope with Christianity.  If this didn't work then I guess I was going to have to burn in hell. 

There were many signs through the years that something wasn't right but I ignored them.  Verses being taken out of context, talk of submission and obeying your leaders, a huge focus on giving to them and the many blessings you'd receive if you did.  I gave and gave with faith that if I gave more, gave sacrificially, gave with a pure heart that life was going to start working out.  Many sermons I left energized and hopeful as I thought that if I just did what I'd been told then this "life change" they preached on would occur. 

A bad and hurtful situation went down with me and a church leader.  Though I'd love to call this woman out by name, and probably should to protect the innocent, I'm choosing not to at this time.  She is a huge issue at the Crossing through spreading gossip, getting people kicked out and not protecting anonymity as she should.  I know full well she's told people all I had told her but I comfort myself knowing she never remembered the details correctly anyway and got it all wrong.  So while many might think they know my secrets all they know is her warped version of them.  My husband encouraged me to go to the lead pastors about this but shortly after a sermon came out called 'I Love My Church' and then a 'Submission' series which both told me in no uncertain terms that there was nowhere to go, no one to talk to and nothing that could be done.  I prayed for her repentance.  I prayed for reconciliation between us.  Nothing happened.

It all came to a head for me in the Spring of 2011.  A lady from the church that I'd met via Facebook was kicked out of the Crossing.  Everything in me said that this had to do with this same abusive church leader and I was right.  I heard her story and she heard mine.  I knew I had to leave.  Very soon after I was told of a blog about a mother who had lost her son to the Crossing.  This was 'One Mother's Journey' which I read with horror.  After all the time, effort and money I couldn't simply walk away so I wrote a letter to the lead pastors.  I received a call back saying that "I expect an amends will be coming your way soon...we love you."  This was the last I heard from them.

Later posts can speak of all that has gone on since then.  I'm left bewildered and battered.  I'm not sure if I would call myself a Christian anymore as I want nothing to do with what is going on in these businesses (churches) today.  I've had it with the cherry picking of verses.  I'm done with having my faith treated like a recipe that I'm missing ingredients for.  I will no longer be a part of a group that damages people the way churches do.  I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and that's about it right now. 

I'll end this first post by saying this: I loved the Crossing and truly want them to stop hurting people.  This blog isn't about being vindictive or bringing on revenge.  It is about my truth.  My truth which I have a right to and will tell.

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