If you have come to the point where you want to leave the church, just remember that you are not the first to do so. Many former members have left the church, and have not looked back since. If you are planning on leaving, the best thing to do is not to tell anyone within the church. If you do tell, then you will be quickly confronted over this and pressured to stay. Do not allow this to happen to you. If you are planning to leave, just simply stop showing up to meetings. As soon as your missing presence is noticed, you WILL receive phone calls and text messages from your Shepherd attempting to find out where you are. DO NOT respond to these calls or text messages. Once they realize that you have decided to leave, they will no longer contact you anymore. Give it a full week for them to fully declare you as having officially “fallen away” (leaving the ministry and rejecting God’s will upon your life). Some people who have left in the past have sent an email declaring their intentions. It is your call if you decide to do this, however the best course of action, is to just leave and be done with it. They will get the message and move on. Be aware, that after you have left, the other Shepherds in the church will no longer seek to associate with you. Do not expect them to connect with you in person or on social media. If you run into them on campus or in the community, expect to be ignored. However, some may be friendly with you and invite you to come back. The reason that most will shun you is because they see you as having abandoned God, which in their eyes is the absolute worst action someone can do. Others may not have the confidence to have a conversation with you, as the situation for them is very uncomfortable.
One of the best ways to leave successfully is to find a support group of former members. The best way to reach former members is to find them through social media. If you have their email or phone number, you can also contact them this way as well. If you are unable to find any former members in your chapter, there is an online network of former UBF shepherds who would be happy to help you. You can contact them at email@example.com. It is strongly recommended that you do not avoid connecting with former members. In many cases, these will be the only people in the world who understand what you have gone through and who can help you navigate back into mainstream society. You will find that many of them will remain your friends for the rest of your life. Another matter that you must not avoid, is finding another church. It is understandable that you may have reservations about joining another church, however during this time you will need to continue your relationship with God and connect with other Christians. Try visiting several churches before you make a decision on which one to join. Always remember to seek out churches that are biblically sound–you do not want to make the same mistake as before! Some former UBF members have joined Reformed churches due to their strong adherence on sound Biblical doctrine. Others have joined various Cavalry Chapel churches. And others have even returned to their original church. There are many former UBF members who refuse to go back to church. Do not make this mistake. It is unbiblical and will not help you in moving on with your life. Taking a break from church is understandable after leaving UBF, but do not make it a permanent condition.
Once you leave, you may struggle with many mixed emotions. If you have left quietly on your own without a support group or on bad terms with the church leadership, then you may be burdened with extreme guilt over your decision. You may feel as if you have left God’s will for your life and have lost your salvation. You may also feel bad about having walked away from your church that had invested so much into you, only to have you leave. Most people who leave the ministry struggle with some sort of guilt. For some people it may take years to recover from. If you are in this situation, please reach out to other former members for support. You can also seek out professional cult recovery counselors, licensed therapists, or pastoral counselors. A recommendation for a good Christian cult recovery service is Cult Watch. Their website has a lot of information about cults and how they work. Their website is http://www.cultwatch.com/. However, no matter what you do, reach out to God in prayer and Bible reading. HE will ultimately be the one who can truly help you. Try to also attend another church with a strong Biblical foundation, and get involved there. Talk privately with the pastor or another trusted member for support. Another feeling that you may experience is huge relief and FREEDOM. When you leave, you will automatically notice how much your life had been controlled by the group. As you no longer will be going to anymore church meetings or activities, you will feel as if a great rock has fallen off your shoulders. It may be a difficult adjustment in having to go through your new life without continually doing all these activities. This will usually take a while for you to get used to. It can take several months or even up to a year or longer. Another feeling that you may experience will be anger. After leaving you will realize that the church never really cared about you as you thought, but that you were just being used to advance the cause of the ministry. Most former members are angry about being used in this way. You may also be angry about being mistreated or “rebuked” or for being taught unbiblical doctrines. You may also be angry that all the people that you thought were your friends now completely ignore you. Another feeling that you may experience is betrayal. You may feel that after having given so much of yourself to the ministry and making so many sacrifices, that you got nothing for it. You realized that you were in fact deceived by just another Christian cult with a hidden agenda, and now you do not know where to go or who to trust anymore.
All of these feelings are normal after leaving, and people adjust differently after they leave. However, most people will experience some or all of these emotions after they cut ties with Shepherd’s Church. As a general rule, the longer that a person remains in the ministry, then the harder it will be for them once they leave. In order to cope with leaving Shepherd’s Church, or any UBF chapter for that matter, please follow the suggestions that we laid out for you. If you ever want to talk to another former Shepherd who understands what you are going through, there is a network of former UBF members who stand ready to help you. Please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you!