A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Never Go to a Meeting When the Purpose is Unknown to You

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[January 5, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

I have learned (the hard way) that one of the ways the wicked work their evil against the righteous is by setting a trap or snare. Jesus said, “beware of men”. And so we must.

A typical way that the wicked set their traps is to ask their victim to —

  • “Come to the office to talk.”
  • “Let’s just sit down and talk.”
  • “I need to talk to you very badly.”
  • “No, no, no. We don’t need anyone else to come. Just come yourself so we can talk.”

In each one of these cases if you ask the person what the subject of the meeting or “talk” is, they will refuse to provide it or will evade answering. Do not go to such a meeting. Do not have a phone call with such a person. Even if, and especially if, they are quoting Bible verses to you about “brothers forgiving and reconciling and loving one another”. Do not go! It is a trap. I don’t care if it is the pillar of the church or the pastor or the Elders or, whoever….do not go!

Think about it. Why would someone not want to provide you with the subject of or reason for the meeting? Why? Because somehow they know that they really do have something to hide, that they have some kind of agenda to hit you with and they don’t want you to know about it or you won’t come! It’s a trap.

You always have the right to know the reason for a meeting, especially when the person making the request is someone you don’t necessarily trust. Insist upon it. Stand by it. And once they pull this on you, don’t go even if they cave and tell you the reason. They have already shown their deception and that they cannot be trusted.

[January 5, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (January 5, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]



  1. The Anonymous Pastor's Wife

    From nearly 40 years experience in ministry with my husband, what Pastor Crippen has written today is so true and advice that should be heeded by anyone victims of abuse, as well [as] members or attendees of any church or Christian Ministry!

    If you are being asked to attend a meeting by yourself that you have no idea what the purpose of the meeting may be, run as fast as you can and DON’T GIVE IN to the curiosity of wanting to know why someone has summoned you to such a meeting. If the meeting is legitimate, you will be provided with the reason for the meeting and would be encouraged to have someone attend with you.

    I remember 2 women who came to our church after attending and being a part of another local congregation until that church’s pastor called them to a meeting with the so-called “Elders”. They were instructed to come alone and did. Had no idea what was awaiting them! Each lady experienced the same kind of treatment. They were seated on a chair in the middle of a circle of MEN and then the accusations started to fly at them. As they shared this with my husband and I, it reminded me of the “Scarlet Letter” in early American history.

    My advice to the readers of the blog, please remember & heed Pastor Crippen’s advice that he provides in this blog post!

  2. LorenHaas

    Yeah, been there. Never make that mistake again.
    I was invited to “chat” by pastor. It turned into one hour harangue about my understanding of Creation being all wrong.
    When we had experienced enough nonsense, I emailed the pastor that we had started to attend another church and would not be back. He invited me for a “chat”, which I accepted out of respect, but suggested a local coffee shop.
    Never heard back.

  3. bright sunshinin' day

    No one is to violate another’s conscience and if you do not think it right to go to a meeting, as Jeff said, do not go.

    There is wisdom in taking witnesses to a meeting if you go to one. If the pastor or Elders do not want you to bring a trusted friend or two (witnesses), warning bells should go off….and perhaps they do have something to hide (such as their abuse of power / position and spiritual manipulation). Be alert and like a Berean.

    1 Timothy 5:19 states:

    Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. [NIV]

    So, protect yourself from the start and bring your witnesses just in case….If the pastor or Elders have nothing to hide, they will have no problem with your two or three witnesses brought into the meeting.

  4. Herjourney

    For real! The pastor and Elder….not to mention the professional biblical counselors?! I finally was paying attention to my gut. I asked for a witness to go with me to a final, highly un-biblical marriage session. I was told by leadership….that, “yes my witness could attend”. But! She “could not speak”? 😳
    Control is from the abuser mindset.
    Hindsight pays off. I went through hell.
    Don’t go!!

  5. Seeing Clearly

    With voicemail, texting, and messaging, etc., it is too easy for someone to simply drop the words, “hey call me back” with no info. We dutiful people can easily fall in line and do as they say. However, as I continue to claim more control of my own self, I withhold that return call.

    Even so, just a month ago, I met with someone thinking I was there to support them. I thought I was going in with my antenna up. Somehow, they were able to manipulate me with just a few words. It was very unwise of me to meet with this person. Guess what! ‘Users’ prey upon ‘kindness’. The best defense for me is to stay far, far away. You are so right, Ps Jeff.

  6. 3blossommom

    “I need you to come by the office to talk. We need to discuss how I’ll take care of you from here on out.” Those were my abuser’s words when he was cheating on me and trying to manipulate me yet one more time. He wanted a meeting just between the two of us, because he still “cared about me” and so that he could keep me from an attorney and get away with robbing me blind. My pastor and an Elder were discerning enough to understand his evil intent and advised me against meeting him ever without a witness or my attorney present.

    As a teen, I went through another incident like [that] described. Our youth pastor began behaving inappropriately toward several of the girls in the group and was treating his wife badly in public. We went to him and our parents with the problem. He denied and balked, accusing us of “disrespect” and “causing trouble”. We went to the Pastor for help and he called a meeting so we could all peacefully discuss things. When we got to the meeting place there was the pastor, youth pastor and his wife, three Elders, and lots of parents of other youth. All were seated in a semi-circle facing the chairs that were waiting for the few of us who were “causing the trouble”. All were pre-prepared to counter-attack after having been informed of our accusations. Two families (one ours) left the church after several weeks because of the gossip and poor treatment. Two girls’ faith were shipwrecked. Less than one year later the youth pastor was caught in a compromising position in the basement of his home with one of the 17 year old girls. Our family received exactly one apology from one of the Elders, but not until ten years had passed.

    Please, please, please be more than cautious about attending “meetings”.

  7. Natalie Klejwa

    I learned this the hard way as well. Now I require all communication with my husband’s Elders / enablers to be made in writing so I have a written record. So far, no takers. They would not let me record a meeting with them on my phone, and they refuse to honor my boundaries and safely communicate via email. That is a refusal to be accountable as well as a lack of love. And this is a church that claims to be leading the way toward helping women in abusive marriages. They look good on the outside, but my experience with them has been painful and traumatizing over and over again. It is spiritual abuse on top of domestic abuse, and it has had a profound effect on some of my children as well. The best thing to do is walk away and let them go. People do not have to define us. A church doesn’t have control over us that way. We are under our Lord Jesus Christ, and there is tremendous freedom in getting away from toxic people and toxic religious communities. God wanted to teach me how to “put on my big girl pants” and say (guilt-free!) “NO! You may not do this to me anymore!”

  8. StandsWithAFist

    Amen, amen, amen.

    Did I say “amen”?

  9. Matthew

    Excellent advice! I wish I would have followed this advice on some occasions.

  10. Sunflower

    I did eventually, painfully, figure this out….and now I have a reputation for being “rude” and “disrespectful”. And have been told, “Dad always makes sure we respect you”. Sure. Like my mother used to say, “The tone makes the music.”

  11. sheisovercoming

    I trusted and learned the hard way not to trust because of words and position. First, they said one of my children’s relationships was key to opening his dad’s heart so they wanted counseling between the two. No, they wanted to give my husband at the time the opportunity to blame this child for what happened without anyone to stop him. They (biblical counselor) even told this child emotional abuse is not in the Bible and does not exist.

    Later, they used a situation with my child to draw me in to a meeting (a problem that abuser introduced that was a stronghold). It was supposed to be about helping my child but the child was never mentioned. It was a meeting that turned out to be me facing 4 men including my abuser. Instead of discussing how to help my child, I was given a sort of ultimatum — I needed to think about returning or they stop working with my family anymore. My abuser was doing so great, but I wasn’t cooperating. I mentioned needing more time, and I was again told this wasn’t biblical. I gave examples of this in Scripture, but apparently they didn’t count. That was the last time I spoke with them except to present them with the evidence that the man they tried to force me to return to had been cheating on me with another woman in their church, the same man they saw explode in meetings and couldn’t calm down. The opposite happened as well.

    When seeking counsel for my child who was suffering PTSD, I was told that was unbiblical. Counseling had to be through Elders only. When we went anyway, I was told to keep [the] Elders informed as to what was discussed. There was no way I was going to do that. I was again invited in for meetings.

    We fled that fellowship and are free from those spiritual abusers. When Christ sets you free, you are free indeed.

  12. Robert Simpson

    I once attended a weekly small prayer group with the abuser / pastor and his enabler / deacon. At the end of the hour they suddenly asked me to stay for a meeting with them. This turned into an abusive harangue.

    Another time they asked my wife and I to attend a meeting to discuss our conflict with them but it instead was their abusive attempt to coerce my wife and I into submitting to their “help” and “counsel”.

  13. BigSisterMama

    I have a restraining order against my husband, yet he CONSTANTLY demands that we “meet with someone to talk about our financial situation.” I refused to pay the mortgage (it was the only bill he cared about) since I have been paying most other bills AND single-handedly caring for the kids and home and home-business for a year, even when he was in the home.

    He has cut off the electricity and internet at our home (which I need, to work), and I have payed his car insurance, because it is linked with mine. I admit, I am tempted to meet, because it seems like I just need to show him how many thousands of dollars I am spending to care for our children, with no help from him.

    But I know he would then just find something else to attempt to control, and browbeat me about. Fortunately, although he meets frequently with the Elders of the church, they are aware that he is very unstable. They are compassionate towards him, as I requested, but they check facts with me. I have to check everything he says, he lies about money to me constantly.

    • Dear BigSisterMama,
      That’s such a typical situation that occurs with separation! The abuser is enraged that he is losing control and he intensifies the arenas of control that he still has leverage on.

      Good for you for resisting his demand to ‘meet’. I hope you can disentangle the finances totally from him soon!

      If you are concerned that your comment might be too identifying, email me barbara@notunderbondage.com and tell me what to remove or airbrush in it.

  14. kim

    Pastor Crippen and community: thanks for sharing your hard-won wisdom. It might seem like some of the hardship spent learning that wisdom was “wandering in the wilderness”, but it provides powerful help and testimony for others.

  15. Show Me the Way

    The timing of this post is just amazing. One of my h’s unwitting allies, who I have had respect for in the past, has asked through my h to meet with me privately, since I have “been on their heart” for several months now. Maybe they have an open heart to sincerely listen to my side of the story, or am I just being set up for a biblical brow-beating? I was tempted to go, just to set this person straight, but after reading this post, I am wondering about the wisdom of that. I want to trust that God will clear my reputation and not try to do that by my own works.

    • keeningforthedawn

      Show Me the Way — what a quandary! Yet you are wise to hesitate, especially if this request to meet comes through the abuser. You don’t owe anyone anything — that includes explanations, or bending over backwards to “make nice”. Your reputation is simply this: that God alone is capable of judging the thoughts and intents of the heart.

  16. Charis

    This has happened to me more times than I care to illuminate.

    Also, if someone invites you to a meeting and you do not recognize everyone in the room, ask for an introduction / explanation before the meeting commences – especially if this is a professional meeting between you and a direct supervisor. You do not have to sit in a meeting with an unknown representative AND you can request privacy. Protect your interests! The “uninvited” attendee, regardless of rank, does not have an automatic right to “sit in.” I learned this the hard way. If your manager balks; leave and / or insist on representation of your own. I’ve had this happen professionally as a nurse and privately in the pastor’s office.

  17. Velour

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