I am also a “recovering fundamentalist”. I was raised an the Independent Baptist Church in Germantown, Ohio. There were SO MANY WAYS that I was blessed being raised in this church and denomination but I can relate to MUCH of what you say!
We had a Pastor and assistant Pastor who did not agree on how strict the church should be on the congregation! Our Pastor was actually the one who felt that things should be more relaxed and didn’t like the legalism but the assistant Pastor was raised in a strict Pentecostal home and brought some very legalistic baggage with him. He and the youth director pushed a lot of their ways and ideas onto the Pastor.
Jack Hyles and his cult were one of those things they pushed on our Pastor that negatively affected the church and the Youth department. I think the legalism that entered our church was eventually the demise of it.
My dad, who was initially very negatively affected by it all, eventually became an Independent Pastor. He could not follow a lot of the ridiculous ways though, including marrying people who had been divorced. He became the Pastor to those who were rejected or wounded by the Independent Baptist church. People loved him SO MUCH!!!
I was always one to ask questions also, even growing up. I was always about fairness and kindness. This is how I saw God. The Independent Baptist church didn’t always seem fair or kind and this bothered me a lot.
Another thing that bothered me was not allowing women to play more of a role in the church or use their gifts to serve the church. I felt called of God to do something bigger and I was always told that I was wrong. I was very good at reaching people, speaking to them about God and learning everything I could about scripture. No one had to force the Bible or serving the Lord on me, it was as natural to me as breathing air, especially after I became Born Again.
I was told that I should learn from my husband and be a good wife. I was a good wife though but my husband was learning from me. Things of God came more natural for me than they did for him. He was shy, raised in a non religious home and had a hard time keeping up with my quest for knowledge and understanding of God and scripture! This was not acceptable in my denomination.
We really began to struggle with the IBC as we grew older and spent more time in the church. We raised our kids in the IBC but as I saw the same abuse I had endured happen to my children, I could no longer tolerate it. I spoke out against it when I could, called rebellious many times, and then finally decided that I could no longer tolerate it and started attending a non denominational church. I have found that many in the non denominational churches are “recovering fundamentalists” but are often angry about what they have experienced and have gone to the opposite extremes trying to be different. I think that is sad and kind of like becoming what you hate.
I have felt for so many years like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I had this nagging “calling” hanging over me that I never felt free to use and could never find a church that seemed like it was giving me what I needed or helping me.
After our kids were grown and had their own churches, we decided to do something radical. I started a ministry and teaching the Bible to others via/Facebook. I have never been to Bible school or had any official training, I was discouraged to do that but I really felt that this was what God wanted me to do. God gave me a name for it and a passage to let me know that this was to be my ministry. It’s called Rehoboth. It’s named after the well that Isaac dug in Genesis 26. If you know that story, he kept digging wells that were taken away. Finally, he dug this well and when it didn’t get taken away, he named it Rehoboth. Rehoboth means – Open spaces. I feel like my internet ministry is wide open to me now and I FINALLY feel I have been allowed to minister to others the way I have wanted and needed to! I am learning and growing with this ministry and so is my husband!
We do not attend a brick and mortar church anymore. It seems like God has closed that door for us and has opened this one.
I know what my denomination would say about this and it hurts me to think that but I have to worry most about what God thinks about it. I study at least 10 or more hours each week and I am using this to feed myself spiritually and feed many, many, others!
Pamela Elam 513-465-4339