Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my question.
I've struggled with the decision of whether to leave my church. The congregation is very loving and over the past two years, I have developed several good friendships.
My dilemma is with the pastor. She is a very gifted speaker and she teaches directly from scripture which is very important to me. It is a very small church with maybe 50 people that attend regularly. The pastor drives a Porsche. She has made announcements that no one can be on the praise team if they don't pay tithes. She also announced how someone called her one day to give her a "blessing" months ago and recently stated that this same person called her again and gave her a double blessing. I think it's inappropriate for a pastor to say things like that.
At one point, we weren't allowed to linger in the parking lot and talk, we had to go directly to our cars because someone said something offensive in the parking lot. I've yet to receive any financial disclosure statements from the church. There is no church committee. All decisions only go through her regarding the church.
Should I leave? I love the people and other than these issues, I feel OK with the pastor. I really don't trust her because I feel she's controlling and has not been candid with how the finances are dispersed. I've determined that if the annual income reported on the website is accurate, last year I contributed about 18% to the church's income. Shouldn't the congregation be aware of how the church's finances are handled? Please help. I'm torn between my love for the people and my distrust of the pastor.
Good to hear from you!
When I read your letter, I had a flashback to when I worked at a hotel and a church was renting a conference room that had a woman pastor. She always drove a luxury car and everything she owned was expensive. She had a following of about 30 or so people. She controlled the congregation tightly and handled most of the money matters. She always tried to get the conference room for dirt cheap and did not pay her bills on time with the hotel.
I can imagine this woman might be the same way or at least has similar traits as this other woman "pastor".
The word "pastor" is another word for an elder, bishop, or overseer. They are all the same position in the church (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1-3). One of the qualifications of a pastor is that he is a husband of one wife (Titus 1:5-9), which then instantly disqualifies this woman for the position. To further this idea Paul says, "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church" (I Corinthians 14:34-35) and "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (I Timothy 2:11-14). You said, "she teaches directly from scripture which is very important to me." If she teaches scripture, then why is she a pastor? Why has she not preached on the very Scriptures that condemn her and her actions?
Another trait a pastor cannot have is that he should not lord his authority over the flock, nor do it for dishonest gain, as this woman is doing, "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (I Peter 3:2-3).
Consider the small amount of information you have told me,
- She builds herself up by saying she received blessings
- People are reprimanded unless they give money
- People are starting to see she is a false teacher, so she stops people from talking in the parking lot
- All decisions concerning money and church happenings go through her alone
- No one is allowed to see how money is being used in the church
- She drives a luxury car
- She is a gifted speaker and claims to speak from Scripture.
Alarm bells go off in my head, and if she tells you to drink Kool-Aid don't do it! These are beginning signs of an abusive person and even more scary an occult leader who manipulates and brainwashes people by using the church as her own personal weapon to get people to follow her and give her money.
"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church" (III John 9-10). This lady is the same as Diotrephes, and that should be a warning to you about wanting power and control over everything and everyone in the church.
One last issue: if you truly love those people at the church, then leave, go find a faithful church and invite them to come to join you; otherwise, they will keep being deceived, fall into the snare of Satan, and never come to the knowledge of the truth (II Timothy 3:2-7). We can help you find a church if you would like, just let us know what area you live in. As Paul said to the church in Corinth, so I would like to say to you, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love" (I Corinthians 16:13-14).