BT Broken, God Healing

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    • #3136

      Looking through the forum was like déjà vu for me. The pages and people’s comments were so much of what I had gone through at BT. So many stories over so many years. No doubt to outsiders or visitors, they would never know because the choir sounded great, the building was beautiful. It was “better than Broadway.” But unfortunately, all of that has come (and continues to come) at a price. I will say the people at BT had been amazing; even those who ran my ministry. The congregation was mostly loving and caring. The leadership is another situation altogether.

      I had been involved in a creative ministry at BT. I understand that the church doesn’t revolve around me. Yes, I know that I am a co-laborer in Christ. But I am also a soul. At the risk of sounding petty and making it about individuals or specific situations, I will say that I have been broken by what has happened during my time at BT. I am shocked at those whom I have spoken to who, like me, were in ministry and have needed professional counseling for the things they have experienced there. It twisted my mind. And I know I’m not alone.

      The leadership has a way of making you second-guess your own God-given abilities. When they needed me in another role, they wouldn’t ask me to pray about it. They told me it was “God’s will for my life.” And I believed them. Why wouldn’t I? But I understand now that it was never God’s will for my life. They used that powerful phrase to pressure me.

      What I have come to realize was that I (me, my own soul) was a means to an end for leadership. If I was struggling or had a family issue, that was of no concern to them. There were times when leadership knew I was sick for a long time. There wasn’t a single phone call or concern. And I had been serving there for years. But when I was considering not serving for a production to help a family member, I received phone calls, texts; you name it. My service and my skills were the only things they were interested in. They made that abundantly clear.

      The issue was that I was in a place that was supposed to fill, heal and restore. But what I found was that it was a place of “take and take” and confusion. I watched my friends in ministry get lambasted over their best efforts while leadership (family) consistently showed up late, ill-prepared. It wasn’t just about the hypocrisy, it taught us that we didn’t matter. I didn’t matter.

      There is more to my story, but I don’t need to write of that. Maybe one day. I write on this forum so that people can know that they aren’t alone. I created this topic so that people can add how they have endured, healed, grown, and thrived in spite of and because of what they have experienced at BT.

      Someone shared with me a book by Dr. Diane Langberg. I saw that it was also posted on this site also. It has blessed me so much, and it has helped to teach me the true heart of Jesus. It’s called, Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church. Here is a link to Amazon:

      Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church

      I believe that there is power in God’s people connecting. I hope this topic will provide that place for you and me.

    • #3172

      Thank you @HealedbyHim for sharing. I’m sure I join others who are reading when I say I’m sorry for what you have gone through.

      I was on staff for many years. I was never brought into an office and yelled at like so many others. I was never told what their vision — I mean God’s vision — was for my life. In a sense I felt like I was protected. I never quite understood it. I was given raises and treated somewhat special. But I would find out there was actually a tremendous price that I and my family had to pay. There is never a free lunch.

      The conversations that were had from employee to employee showed me that pretty much everyone knew that there is something deeply off at BT. I would venture to guess that a good portion of the staff’s days were spent in lament, praying for the day that the dark underbelly would all get exposed. There isn’t a floor or a department that wasn’t included in lamenting how in the world God’s Judgement and BT hadn’t intersected, yet.

      I am glad I’m not longer at BT and that I left with my mind and my faith intact. Others weren’t so lucky. BT seemed like a bad relationship with an abusive narcissist. And it very much was.

      I personally feel that Paul Brewer’s story on this forum is one of many others. I, too shared a quote from Dr. Langberg on his thread. She has been an example to me. I highly recommend following her! Some years ago, a friend sent me a link to her site

      This video from Dr. Langberg was one I watched. It is so powerful. It’s called Narcissism and the System it Breeds.

      I hope you are all blessed today and I applaud this site’s pursuit of truth and ultimately the healing of God’s people.

      • #3178
        Paul Br

        Thank you for your kindness and acknowledging what I endured at the church .

        Another great book and resource is HEALING THE SOUL AFTER SPIRITUAL ABUSE By Mikele Rauch

    • #3194

      As a staff member at BT when you see the nepotism affecting so many staff members, what do you do? Who is there to go to? It is discouraging and hurting the ministry and it is heartbreaking. Pastors and Board PLEASE HELP, The church is hurting!

    • #3197

      Why haven’t these monsters been fully exposed? I was involved in a high profile ministry at Brooklyn Tabernacle.  I can tell you without hesitation, that the story book Brooklyn Tabernacle described in Jim Cymbalta’s books don’t present the evil, Satan inspired disregard and abuse of staff and volunteers.  Run far away from the Cymbalta family and Brooklyn Tabernacle.


    • #4053

      Yet another story of the toxic and dangerous culture of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

      “In Brooklyn there was a church with a 300-voice world famous choir. It was mesmerizing to watch. In my old church you weren’t even allowed to raise your hands. But this choir moved, like a wind was blowing through it. I’d stand up front every Sunday and move right along with it. One week they announced that the choir would be holding auditions. I knew I could carry a tune, so I signed up for a slot. The auditions were in the office of the pastor’s wife. We made small talk before we began. She had family in Arkansas, so she asked me why I left. I told her my story, and then I sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ I had a heavy cold that day, but Amazing Grace has this way of coming through. And when I finished, she said: ‘Detra, you passed.’ I could feel my soul begin to stretch. Those words were like an invitation to me– to finally worship freely. But before I could officially join the choir, the pastor’s wife told me I needed to meet with a ‘church counselor.’ It ended up being her son. He asked how I could stand before the throne of God, having run away from a pastor husband. Then he asked for my husband’s phone number. I think I made it downstairs before I started sobbing. At the time I was applying for a job at Starbucks, and they needed me to work Sundays. I’d only missed church twice growing up: once when I had the measles, and once when I had the mumps. But I said: ‘God, use this job to let me know if you want me to keep going to church.’ On the night I was hired Lucas and Margaret cooked me a celebratory dinner. They brought out a bottle of red wine and poured me a glass. It wasn’t the first time they’d offered me wine, but it was the first time I had something to celebrate. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I knew it would be crossing a line in the sand. Lucas saw me staring down at my glass, and said: ‘Don’t worry Mom, you don’t have to do it.’ But I wanted to do it. The name of the wine was Cannonball. On the label it showed a child. She was flying through the air, with her knees pulled to her chest, about to leap into something entirely new. I took my first sip, and oh my Goodness. It was the worst thing I’d ever tasted. So I took another. And another.”

    • #4059

      Yet another story of the toxic and dangerous culture of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

      You’re right. Her story is not isolated, but completely representative. Brian is a terrible counselor. Just 5 minutes and this vulnerable and dear lady was scarred. Note that Brian is also a spy for his father-in-law and senior pastor, Jim Cymbala, who gets filled in on all of the details from Brian’s “counseling sessions.” BEWARE!

      • #4073

        It isn’t just the sons-in-law as “pastoral counselors” that is bad news. Many of the BT leaders have no actual training as counselors outside of what may be part of the nouthetic counseling movement disguised as “biblical counseling” when it is not anywhere near biblical. Yet BT leaders are always counseling people. There are an unbelievable amount of stories from attendees of damage that has occurred as a result of their ignorant, uninformed, destructive and sometimes dangerous “counsel” given by leaders. Individuals and couples who were given counsel by leaders and that counsel made things so much worse. The church is told to trust the leaders, that they are an authority and led by God. They are often well meaning, at least I hope they are. But the damage is still present and it is widespread.

        Someone already posted a link in the forum to an article documenting a scenario where PJC counseled a woman who ended up dead. According to the article his response to her, when she told him her fiance was dangerous and she feared for her life, was “We will all die, but we will all be with the Lord.” After that, her fiance killed her. I cannot believe this story has been out in the open since 2003 and no one seems to understand how terrible this was handled by PJC. If they did understand, they would have confronted leadership and stopped attending, if the counseling practices did not get a complete overhaul.

        Also from what I am told, the leadership does not properly report abuse of minors to authorities. They pick and choose what they report or if they report. I heard they usually handle it “in house” which says it is not being handled correctly. If this is true, BT is a haven for predators.

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