Me: "Can you provide any information about how .... handles those that leave? Do they typically excommunicate?"
Future friend: "Every time." "With curses and a prediction of death."
This is how the conversation began with someone that would become a dear friend. I had been excommunicated, and had started looking into the topic more and more, reading a lot of books, and asking a lot of questions.
The Scriptures provide excommunication as a reliable tool for disfellowshipping sinning members. Notice that key word, "sinning." If you try and define the sin, this is where it gets tricky. Excommunication is probably best known and heard of through the Catholic Church, and Catholic Straight Answers defines it like this: "Excommunication is the Church's most severe penalty imposed for particularly grave sins." They give more detail, but this serves our purpose.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 is a clear example of this type of behavior. A church member is having relationships with his father's wife, this is pretty sick stuff, and not only that but this man is arrogant and unrepentant. That is clear. That is an obvious sin, but what about leaving a church? What about "sins" that are not clearly defined or subjective. For example one woman at Grace Fellowship was excommunicated for "not loving the body" whatever that is supposed to mean. Is it really a "grave" sin? (not that we are depending on CSA for the definition).
If we go back to my communication with my future friend, she said, "Every time." The biggest issue with excommunication in cults and cultish churches is excommunication is used as a tool to strike fear into others. By definition Paul says the very same thing, Paul tells us this (obviously evil person) needs to be delivered over to Satan, which means they may very well be an unbeliever. This however, is a control mechanism, and in effect they desire to dish out retribution for the sin of leaving the cult.
That's why it happens every single time someone leaves. There is no other option. By my last count, since 2018, at least seven (7) have been excommunicated from Grace Fellowship. These are all people that were members in good standing at the time of their departure and subsequent excommunication. They weren't brought before the "church" because of willful disobedience to the Scriptures, and caught red-handed in grievous sins like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 5. No, they were given the moniker of unclean because they dared stand up against what they saw as wrong behavior on the part of leadership. If you want to talk about willful and grievous sins, that is the place to start, with the biblically defiant, and abusive pastors of Grace Fellowship (Mike Reid, Nick Rolland and Tyler Bolkema).
I have lots of examples, but in the order of time, I will link to this site if someone desires to further investigate.
Imagine a very small church in Davenport, IA wreaking this much havoc on a community of believers? In less than four years they've excommunicated seven and possibly eight families, or members, and that's just in the last four years. There is a long track record of this kind of abuse going back to 2009.
Please share this that the word might spread, and these places shut down.