Extract from the Epilogue of the first edition of
A LIFE OF UNLEARNING
Coming Out of the Church: One Man’s Struggle
By Anthony Venn-Brown
Written January 2004, published by New Holland in May 2004.
“During my years as an Assemblies of God minister and in Pentecostal circles, I met many good people who live lives of sacrificial service and seek to honour God. I would welcome them back into my life at any time. Churches do many wonderful things in our society, and most Pentecostal churches now have ministries that genuinely reach out to people in the community. It’s not about what you say, it’s what you do.
I have nothing against the people; the problem is with the existing culture; one I call ‘corporate Christianity’. Not unlike large companies, where a culture exists that says the leaders are right and should never be challenged. Forget about the individual who has served and given so much—always think of what is best for the image. Once you’ve reached your use-by date, or failed in some way, or not ‘towed the company line’, you risk being discarded, abandoned and forgotten. From my experience, there are probably more outside the walls who have been hurt and wounded by the church than there are inside. They’ve told me their stories.
One of the saddest aspects of corporate Christianity is its inability to deal with people’s humanity. Ministers are just as human as any person in their congregation and experience the same temptations and failings. I’ve mentioned several whose humanity has become very public, just as mine was. My intention has never been to get back at people but to tell the truth. And the truth is we are all human. The world is looking and saying we want you to be real. Stop pretending that all is okay and that somehow you exist on a higher plane. You don’t. We don’t accept your ‘holier than thou’ attitude. We want you to be honest and transparent.
We know about the preacher who was caught out when his administrator discovered calls on his mobile phone account to sex lines. We know about the person who for years sought therapy because he was molested as a young man. And we know about the prominent preacher who was banned from preaching in one country because he broke the rules of sexual conduct but was allowed to keep preaching here in Australia; it sure looks like a double standard. We know about your worship leader, who was having an affair with a married man. We know about the homosexual activity that goes on among members of your congregations; and the sex that went on at Bible college; and the preachers who are denying their sexuality and hiding behind a façade of Christian heterosexual marriage. We know because when people leave the church, they usually no longer fear talking.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface, but I don’t want to create a witch hunt. You think you can hide and that your secrets will never be discovered, but all I can say is that everything comes out in the end. Remember, someone else knows what you’ve done and there will come a time when the guilt, hurt or shame will cause them to seek help. Your secret is not safe. I know.”
Information about the three editions of A Life of Unlearning HERE.
A Life of Unlearning website HERE