My brother has been involved in a fast growing church for about five years. During those five years quite a lot has happened in his life including such major changes as getting married, having children, and building their own house. I wish that I could celebrate with my brother all these significant developments in his life, but one other drastic change has also occurred: he no longer spends time or talks with me or the rest of his blood relatives. For many years, I made excuses for him because it takes time to adjust to all these life changes, but it has become increasingly clear that they don't want to have anything to do with us. So, the question is why not?
Recently, my mom tearfully explained to him that she and all of us are hurt by this separation. He gave many petty reasons such as: we don't have all the food prepared when they arrive, so they always come late (the few times they come to anything) because they feel we aren't ready for them. The sum of his statements was basically that we aren't good enough for them.
When considering the source(s) of his (and his wife's) attitude toward us there are possibilities, one of which is that their church is pulling them away from us. This has been a consideration for sometime but as I have only been to their church a few times and that some four years ago, I didn't feel I could draw that conclusion with any certaintly. I have considered attending the church to observe their ways and learn more about their teachings, but I feel that it would be logistically difficult as well as very awkward for everyone.
Yesterday, I received new insight into the workings of my brother's church. Someone (a christian) we know has some friends who started going there. One of the friends he was very close to and he thought that perhaps he and she might marry. When she first started attending she would tell him about the church, how it is organized and her experiences there. He thought about attending the church with his friends but wanted to know more about it before attending regularly and he had some questions about some of the teachings. The church is set up with a mentor system where each mentor has about 10 members he/she mentors, and each member has a mentor, and the mentors have mentors. The members are accountable to their mentor and are to keep a journal which they give to their mentor to read once a week. They also submit various personal correspondance to their mentors. Our friend who had questions had been talking with his friends particularly his female friend about his questions. She was told that she should not think about faith because it raises doubts which will then take away her faith. They also told her she needs to put an end to their friendship, and to cut off communication with him.
His sad story has many parallels with that of my brother. I feel it is likely that my brother and his wife have been instructed to keep away from us. One of the last three conversations of substance that my brother and I had (about 4-5 years ago) was one in which I disagreed with something his church had just taught. Prior to his involvement with this church, he would talk about life, faith, hopes, relationships, struggles, and joys. Now he won't discuss much of anything beyond hello, good-bye and the weather.
I miss my brother. I wish we could share our lives with each other as we once did. I am also deeply concerned about him and his family. Any church that teaches its members to not think or ask questions is dangerous. If its teachings are true, then the church should not fear questions and discussion because the the result of a person impartially investigating the matter will only show that their teachings are true. It is only those who teach falsehood who need fear that their teachings be thought about, examined or challenged.
What can be done? A church has imprisoned my brother and he doesn't know that it has enslaved him.