How to Leave
Since this site was launched I have been approached by people trying and/or deciding to leave their authoritarian churches. I'm grateful for them making this decision, and I'm glad I can assist in whatever small way that contributes to helping them.
Leaving is not easy. You have formed relationships, you feel a sense of connection, and you don't want to disappoint people. I understand this painful decision. The second aspect to leaving is interracting with the leadership. That is a whole other thing that leaves you feeling disoriented, queezy, and anxious. You know in your heart of hearts a conflict is on the horizon.
That makes it tougher than tough.
I have been told by more than one that they desire to leave well. I wanted to leave well also. But it all depends. It depends on the level of authoritarianism that exists within the leadership as to whether this is possible, but since this site is devoted to exposing legalism, legalistic and authoritarian churches and their leaders, we can assume for this argument that it's probaby going to be impossible to leave well.
I don't say that to discourage anyone. I say that to brace you for reality. Authoritarians aren't authoritans because they give up easily or readily hand over control. I offer this advice or counsel, if we want to be spiritual about it, to those desiring to leave.
Write your letter and organize your thoughts. Writing is a good way to handle things because you can take your time and control what you want to say.
Meet with the leadership only if you must. Remember they won't bless you as you go out the door, so if you risk excommunication does it really matter?
I can almost guarantee they already have a poor reputation (1 Timothy 3:7) in the community so when you go to another church they will already understand. I know you desire to do it right, but it's seldom possible according to them. You won't have enough scripture, you won't have the scripture rightly divided, and there will be no legitimate reason for you to leave.
So I suggest you don't play the game. Authoritarians hate this because they can't control you any longer. Have a support group, or a support person. This will need to be someone that won't mind taking your calls, answering your questions, helping you write and review. They need to have experience so they know the drill. I suggest reaching out to the administrators of this website. They know the drill.
Be prayed up. The Lord has opened your eyes. Thank Him for His goodness in doing so. Lastly, (of course there is more) but stand firm. Don't give in to their demands. If you've come to this decision then don't look back. One option is to send the letter and cut off all conversation. A wise man once told me, "run.... run and don't look back."
May the Lord help us all.