February 2002, by a former member of "The Door"
I’m probably just one of many you have heard from over all the years in regarding “The Door.” It has been a long road back from my days with them from 1990-92 and their sister Fellowship “Praise Chapel.”
I didn’t get saved at The Door, as a matter of fact, I had walked with the Lord for at least 8 years before I met them, after returning from a military tour of duty. I saw the church as an opportunity hopefully to eventually work as a pastor. I already had bible school training and I thought The Door was doing the right thing. Their no nonsense approach to the Gospel was attractive. Unfortunately, their “no compromise” policy, often also meant no compassion. This underlying issue ate at me the years I attended there.
In a short time I became drama leader at the church, cranking out “salvation skits” every week for their coffee houses on Saturday nights. I was never home. And I became authoritarian, running my home like one of their leaders. After two years though, our little drama group that worked so hard just burned out. This was a big “no no” with our pastor. It was seen as a sign of spiritual weakness. One of their leaders went so far as to label me a “surrogate child,” because I didn’t cut my teeth on their pews.
I started to question things at The Door and so rumors started to float around. People came up to my wife and told her, “If he leaves don’t go with him! If you leave the church you will end up Divorced!” Fed up, we finally did leave.
We then bounced over to another church called “Praise Chapel.” A lot of this fellowship was made up of ex-Door pastors. They are a lot more compassionate and understanding, but there are individual pastors in this fellowship who have a tendency to gravitate back to the old ways.
After breaking away from The Door, my wife and I were separated for six months and she went back to “The Door.” Whatever happened in our marriage I take full responsibility, but the pastors at The Door never really helped me, but just used me for their ministry. My wife and I eventually got back together again and she left The Door. But later she walked into a similar situation at the another fellowship. We lasted there another three years before our marriage finally came apart.
In the years since God has wonderfully restored my life with renewed purpose. It seems though that restoration is a often difficult for a large part of the Body of Christ. We have so many “broken Christians” out there, but very few people to help them repair breaches within their hearts. These broken Christians have frequently been violated in one form or another and then have trouble reconciling. But God and His everlasting mercy even extends to those who have hurt us. Bringing the Gospel to the world often means restoring people who have been hurt in some way.
Discipleship at the Christian Fellowship Churches was often reduced to little more than becoming a pastor pleaser. However, all people are precious to God and should be treated with mercy, respect and dignity. As Christians we must share what we know, but we should not act superior and instead be humble servants to all as Jesus taught. If someone feels called, church leaders should offer encouragement and support. Leaders are not called to cajole, manipulate and control people to create some “cookie cutter” version of themselves. Every person is an individual and as diverse in their gifts and abilities as God made them. And it is through such diversity that our Lord wonderfully uses us in His body.
It is really a demonstration of someone’s lack of faith to force others to be just like them.When leaders do this it seems like they don’t trust what God can do, or is doing in an individual’s life. When I was in The Door it seemed to me that allowing myself to be molded by others was trusting man more than God. The Scriptures expressly tell us not to do this. Fortunately because of the Word of God, I was able to respond to the Holy Spirit and go back to the simple basics of the Gospel. I then felt God’s infinite love and mercy demonstrated at the cross.
It must grieve God to see people suffer because of this fellowship and its abuses. But after breaking away and healing I have found happiness. I have since remarried and become ordained with another ministry.