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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...

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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