Bearing a painful history of leadership division and loss, our church was operating without a pastor, being led by an eldership team. A team of equals.
A board of men from outside the church had been appointed both for counsel and as a safety measure.
Things seemed to go well until one elder decided he was "more equal than others" and started acting accordingly. Those of his peers who questioned this were bullied and abused.
The board was called in to mediate through the difficulty, but responded by unreservedly backing that elder. Eventually it became clear that the board had actually played a large role in precipitating this crisis by playing king-maker.
Those who had objected to the abusive behaviour were left with a choice of shutting up and pretending, or being stripped of any opportunity to minister in the future.
I was labelled a trouble-maker; a false prophet; a jezebel. I was told I was divisive; bitter; unforgiving. I was judged to be the cause of all the problems.
But ironically, that didn't stop the politics and power plays…
Update: April 2016
Towards the end of last year I received a visit to my house from a policeman, delivering papers summoning me to court. After three years of being actively shunned by them, the elder and his wife from my ex-church (who have since started their own church) had applied to the courts for a protection order against me. The application alleged that I represented such a severe threat to their safety, I should be excluded from any place they might possibly be present, including my own sons' school.
Throughout the process, various people (from all walks of life) heard about what was happening and saw what these 'church leaders' were preaching with their lives - and many of them felt confirmed in their choice to avoid religion at all costs.
Ironically, I am still seen as the problem! And all because I keep speaking out and saying we are called to something better! But then, the religious leaders 2 000 years ago responded to Jesus in a similar fashion...