"How could you have come to Kansas City from a cult and still, dive into another?
This question feels demeaning and like a bullet to my discernment. I become like boiling water when asked how I could be so blind to the Kansas City church, IHOP-KC being a cult. I have been a part of a ministry with many cult-like tendencies and that experience gave me heightened awareness within the church and cult-like tendencies. I believe there are those tendencies at IHOP-KC, but I do not believe it is a cult. These tendencies are the standards placed upon the people in their community.
We each have our convictions and with those come strengths and weaknesses. As we age, we face choices and if those choices are wrong, we hopefully learn from them. Some lessons can last a long time and can be harder than others. This is not something that can be controlled or fixed, it’s the learning process and it is a natural process that we all participate in as we age and mature.
I recently made the decision to move in with my boyfriend and while some may be judgmental and wish to change this or add me to the top of their prayer list, I accept any consequences of my decisions and if our relationship does not work out it’s because that’s just life. While I am fully committed to making it work, we know relationships only work when work is put in. Going to church is something that I find to be incredibly challenging right now. Each time I check out a church, of any denomination, I see the hundreds of reasons to walk out. I feel tense, leery and question everything in the church communities. Each time I attend a church, I feel discomfort when sermons are preached and everyone says, "Amen" in such a monotone dogmatic way. If we do not have concerns about a church, but assume the church could or might be perfect, we ought to be alarmed. I read Johnny Youssef 's blog today on the matter and I agree that IHOP is good with many weaknesses still. There is no cause to fear it. There are many reasons to leave a church community however, that doesn't make it a cult or a horrible place. My message here is that if you believe a church is perfect and become defensive about it, take a seat. Consider whether you're apart of a group thought process or if you're too codependent on a church.
I know many who are too dependent on IHOP-KC specifically. They don't question anything said there and will criticize anyone who believes something different from what's preached at IHOP-KC. Some standards are too high and it's weighty. Alas, people who cling to their truth are a part of a world view. It is challenging to leave such a mindset, especially while millions agree with it. Thousands of people have been abused, broken, manipulated and controlled by [the pastor]. Many pastors have been very hurt by their congregation just the same. How do you leave a church that is or may be spiritually abusive? Lee Grady (https://leegrady.com/how-to-leave-an-unhealthy-church/) offers some great advice. 1. Get outside advice Explain your concerns. They will help you see if you are overreacting, or if you really have a case. 2. Know the facts Never base your concerns on rumors or unfounded allegations. Can this improper behavior be documented? If there has been wrongdoing, there will be evidence. 3. Confront the issue. This will not be easy if the leader in question uses threats, manipulation or anger to run over people.Do not meet alone with the leader if the leader in question is a manipulator. Take people with you so that you can’t be bullied. It’s also best to put your concerns in writing and take the letter with you. 4. Make a clean break. If you know that the pastor or other church leaders are guilty of behavior that disqualifies ministers, and there are no signs of repentance, you don’t have to stick around. God gave you two feet, and you can use them to walk out. Some people feel guilty for leaving an abusive church, but you must renounce feelings of false guilt or displaced loyalty. God will help you start a new life. Don’t let anyone (especially extended family members) manipulate you into staying.5. Get counseling and prayer from a mature Christian. Spiritual manipulation messes with your mind. People I know who were part of an abusive ministry were made to feel guilty for simply asking questions. They were told that God required them to be blindly loyal, and that if they ever left the ministry something terrible would happen to them. If you were under this type of toxic control, you need someone to help you—so you can break free from psychological abuse. 6. Find a healthy church. Do not be convinced you need to give up on church just because the one you attended went off track. You need healthy and like-minded people in your life. 7. Help others to heal. Sometimes, those who have suffered the most become powerfully effective in helping others after they experienced healing. This can be true for people who were wounded in an unhealthy church. Your testimony can help those who are going through similar situations. Once you leave, it is possible that other members of your church will contact you—and some of them will be honestly seeking the same freedom you have found. You owe it to them to share the story of your exit. If you stay healthy during the process of leaving, God can use you to pull others to safety. For those who are friends with people that have been a part of such an organization or even your church, it is essential to support them and encourage their discernment. It is important that you be patient with them! If you know firsthand what it takes to get away, having patience should be a familiar need. Manipulation is so very difficult to escape and then later overcoming that can take years! I believe many churches have cult-like tendencies and this is why I do not attend a church. I do maintain my friendships with like-minded people and worship on my own. I will still volunteer and associate with churches, because my faith is not dependent on my attendance to services or the opportunity to volunteer, I draw closer to God without the negative direction of those that have attempted to hold me accountable to their beliefs. I am not suggesting that everyone leave their church. I am sharing my story and support others because I’ve been directly involved with a very strict and cult-like church! I wish nothing more than to keep close to God without fearing the church or having my discernment questioned. We Christians are grateful for God's unconditional love and we struggle to offer such an unconditional love in return. This is not a weakness, but seemingly just our nature regardless the church body, I will not play a part in that. My love for God is unconditional regardless of where I worship from.