I want to thank you for so openly and honestly declaring Biblical truth. I have been on a quest for this truth for the past two years. I was on staff at a church from 2010-2015. My role as secretary rapidly grew into leading many areas of the church including the women’s ministry. During this time the church grew from 80 to more than 350 in attendance each Sunday. They are the megachurch in our small town and model everything after Andy Stanley’s church. The staff attends all of his conferences and reads all the leadership books. They have the cool worship band with lights and smoke and the hip preacher with tattoos…they are the cookie cutter seeker-friendly church.
Though I struggled with MANY things about the pastor, the leadership, and the felt-needs teaching, the church was growing so I thought God must be blessing our work and it must have been bringing glory to Him. The last two years I was there I tried to express my concerns many times to leadership but they were very quickly dismissed with an angry, defensive attitude. I became so tired of trying to sell the cool Jesus and not seeing any spiritual growth in the people attending that I finally stepped down from staff. I continued attending the church for six months so that it wouldn’t cast a dark shadow on the leadership or church and cause division. Then I slipped out quietly.
As I had more time to devote to reading Scripture and not working 80 hours a week at the church with all the busyness of ministry and people to please, I began my quest to discover TRUTH. Real truth. About a year ago friend told me about your website and though part of me was leaping for joy as I spent hours and hours reading and following links, I was not prepared for the horror that set in when I realized the lies I had been believing and even worse what I was part of leading.
I’ve worked through the anger toward my own foolish self and toward those who I allowed to spiritually lead me for so long and I have forgiven. Now I am trying to work through the guilt of what I was a part of building and who I influenced, what part I played in their eternity (though I know that is ultimately under God’s sovereignty). I only leave my home if absolutely necessary, usually 6 am on Monday mornings to grocery shop. If I see someone from my old church anxiety and guilt cripple me. Though I have been open with close friends about what I have learned, few have been receptive…after all Beth Moore, Lisa Bevere, and the IF Conference have much more influence. The people of the church think I have absolutely gone off the deep end as I have begun to share some posts of these controversial topics.
The friend who introduced me to your site has decided to attend [a doctrinally sound] seminary. She asked for a letter of recommendation from our executive pastor and his words were “Our pastor hated seminary. Andy Stanley doesn’t believe you need to go to seminary. He only hires doers and not thinkers. If Andy Stanley says that, you have to stop and think, this man is the pastor at the most successful church in America. He knows his stuff.”
I’ll just leave that right there.
In closing, I know God has a plan in all of this and I know He will reveal it in His time. I have been visiting your “Readers Seeking Churches” page for some time and through links on your page and the 9Marks church finder I was able to locate a doctrinally sound church about an hour from me. Honestly I am terrified to step into another church, but I know I must in obedience. I am thankful for his grace and mercy, for His Word, and for placing others like you in my path.
Note from Michelle- Libby says that she is trying to “work through the guilt” of helping to spread false doctrine. I shared this with her when she originally e-mailed me, and I wanted to share it with those of you who might be struggling in a similar way:
I encourage you to remember His kindness and mercy. You need not feel guilt and anxiety over your sin any more. That is all washed away by the blood of Christ, and you are free to live in peace and rest in His love. Look how Christ redeemed Paul! He certainly spread a lot of false doctrine and quashed sound doctrine before Christ got a hold of him.
First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Believe that, and be set free from your guilt today.
Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!