Once An Insider, Now Without A Church Home

This is the story of one couple's faith crisis after realizing the church they have spent 25 years serving as leaders in has made subtle but profound changes over the years.
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This is the story of one couple’s faith crisis after realizing the church they have spent 25 years serving as leaders in has made subtle but profound changes over the years. It is their journey from being trusting followers of Jesus to questioning everything about their faith. Who is really following the Bible? Who is really interpreting the Bible correctly? This is a personal memoir that follows the changes in the American Evangelical Church as it becomes more popular to embrace Calvinism, Authoritarianism, Complementarianism, and Covenants and the effect this can have on one’s faith.

Amanda Farmer's first-person and heartbreakingly transparent account provides many examples of how both men and women suffer from faith crisis' that can and do result from authoritarian leadership within churches. She provides insights that I believe are critical to understanding what has been happening within mainstream Christianity for quite some time After over two decades of faithful service in one local church, the Farmers found themselves marginalized, lectured, shamed, weighed in the balances and found wanting by the same leadership they had participated in bringing into the church to begin with--all for voicing concerns about doctrine being taught and new authoritarian practices by the leadership. Christians who have experienced confusion, shame, and hurt during encounters with respected church leadership, can benefit from reading about how the Farmers connected what was happening to them with Calvinism and Complementarianism (their church had previously never been aligned with either). In attempting to be good Christians and faithful members of their church, Amanda and Gordon Farmer found the respectful dynamics that [had always existed] between the leadership and church membership had dramatically changed--but only in favor of the leadership. This book does not describe isolated and rare incidences. It describes a paradigm shift that has largely become the norm in thousands of churches. Farmer identified complementarianism as the source of some but not all of the problems she and her husband encountered. This story is a revelation of one couple's painful spiritual journey and the metamorphosis of one church that went from a more congregational form of church governance to almost absolute authoritarianism, with only three or four at the top making most decisions--and those few chosen strictly according to gender. Farmer writes: "Women have been left totally out of actual leadership roles. The only ministries open to women in the church are now kitchen duty, teaching children's Sunday School, Children's Church, nursery, and baking and cooking for meals. We have become polarized as to men and women's roles. Men no longer assigned in the nursery or children's church or the kitchen. No women count the money (except me in the past**), no women ever read scripture from the front, or facilitate an adult Sunday School lesson, or lead a life group." **The author was church treasurer for years. Gordon and Amanda Farmer, through personal experience, discovered the painful realities and fruit of pervasive popular movements within evangelical Christianity, where those who dare to voice disagreement with the declared consensus of the leadership, are marginalized being labeled as divisive, immature, trouble-makers--and finally neutralized by church covenants designed to weed out any who dare to voice dissent through sincere questions and reasonable requests. This book is a "must read" for all Christians, whether leaders or lay-people, in positions to prevent this from happening in the first place, to make positive changes within their churches, and to show love and encouragement to those who have suffered from the things described in this book.

-- ocelyn E. Andersen

Amanda Farmer (Author)

The author, Amanda Farmer, grew up Mennonite on a farm in Pennsylvania and moved to Minnesota at age 16 . She worked together with her family on a large dairy farm there until the age of 29. Amanda holds a Master’s Degree in Nurse Anesthesia and is employed in that field. Amanda enjoys reading, writing, and most any outdoor activity. She and her husband of 24 years live on a hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. They have one college-age daughter, 2 cats, a dog, a multitude of fish, and once spent all their profit on 2 horses. All the animals were obtained in response to “P-l-e-a-se Mom!”

This is the story of one couple's faith crisis after realizing the church they have spent 25 years serving as leaders in has made subtle but profound changes over the years.

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